Stephen E. Jones

Creation/Evolution Quotes: Unclassified quotes: January 2007

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The following are quotes added to my Unclassified Quotes database in January 2007. The date format is dd/mm/yy. See copyright conditions at end.

[Index: Feb (1), (2); Mar; Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug; Sep; Oct; Nov; Dec]


1/01/2007
"The practical measure of the random element which can increase in the universe but can never decrease is 
called entropy. Measuring by entropy is the same as measuring by the chance explained in the last 
paragraph, only the unmanageably large numbers are transformed (by a simple formula) into a more 
convenient scale of reckoning. Entropy continually increases. We can, by isolating parts of the world and 
postulating rather idealised conditions in our problems, arrest the increase, but we cannot turn it into a 
decrease. That would involve something much worse than a violation of an ordinary law of Nature, namely, 
an improbable coincidence. The law that entropy always increases-the second law of thermodynamics-
holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet 
theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations-then so much the worse for Maxwell's 
equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation-well, these experimentalists do bungle things 
sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no 
hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation." (Eddington, A.S., "The Nature of the 
Physical World," [1928], The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1933, 
reprint, pp.74-75. Emphasis original)

1/01/2007
"Primary and Secondary Law. I have called the laws controlling the behaviour of single individuals 
`primary laws', implying that the second law of thermodynamics, although a recognised law of Nature, is in 
some sense a secondary law. This distinction can now be placed on a regular footing. Some things never 
happen in the physical world because they are impossible; others because they are too improbable. 
The laws which forbid the first are the primary laws; the laws which forbid the second are the secondary 
laws. It has been the conviction of nearly all physicists that at the root of everything there is a complete 
scheme of primary law governing the career of every particle or constituent of the world with an iron 
determinism. This primary scheme is all-sufficing, for, since it fixes the history of every constituent of the 
world, it fixes the whole world-history. But for all its completeness primary law does not answer every 
question about Nature which we might reasonably wish to put. Can a universe evolve backwards, i.e. 
develop in the opposite way to our own system? Primary law, being indifferent to a time-direction, replies, 
"Yes, it is not impossible". Secondary law replies, "No, it is too improbable"." (Eddington, A.S., "The Nature 
of the Physical World," [1928], The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1933, 
reprint, pp.75-76. Emphasis original)

1/01/2007
"But the nightmare of infinity still arises in regard to time. The world is closed in its space dimensions like a 
sphere, but it is open at both ends in the time dimension. There is a bending round by which East ultimately 
becomes West, but no bending by which Before ultimately becomes After. I am not sure that I am logical but 
I cannot feel the difficulty of an infinite future time very seriously. The difficulty about A.D. ¥ will not 
happen until we reach A.D. ¥ , and presumably in order to reach A.D. ¥ the difficulty must first have been 
surmounted. It should also be noted that according to the second law of thermodynamics the whole 
universe will reach thermodynamical equilibrium at a not infinitely remote date in the future. Time's arrow will 
then be lost altogether and the whole conception of progress towards a future fades away. But the difficulty 
of an infinite past is appalling. It is inconceivable that we are the heirs of an infinite time of preparation; it is 
not less inconceivable that there was once a moment with no moment preceding it." (Eddington, A.S., "The 
Nature of the Physical World," [1928], The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 
UK, 1933, reprint, p.83)

1/01/2007
"This dilemma of the beginning of time would worry us more were it not shut out by another overwhelming 
difficulty lying between us and the infinite past. We have been studying the running-down of the universe; 
if our views are right, somewhere between the beginning of time and the present day we must place the 
winding up of the universe. Travelling backwards into the past we find a world with more and more 
organisation. If there is no barrier to stop us earlier we must reach a moment when the energy of the world 
was wholly organised with none of the random element in it. It is impossible to go back any further under 
the present system of natural law. I do not think the phrase "wholly organised" begs the question. The 
organisation we are concerned with is exactly definable, and there is a limit at which it becomes perfect. 
There is not an infinite series of states of higher and still higher organisation; nor, I think, is the limit one 
which is ultimately approached more and more slowly. Complete organisation does not tend to be more 
immune from loss than incomplete organisation. There is no doubt that the scheme of physics as it has 
stood for the last three-quarters of a century postulates a date at which either the entities of the universe 
were created in a state of high organisation, or preexisting entities were endowed with that organisation 
which they have been squandering ever since. Moreover, this organisation is admittedly the antithesis of 
chance. It is something which could not occur fortuitously. This has long been used as an argument against 
a too aggressive materialism. It has been quoted as scientific proof of the intervention of the Creator at a 
time not infinitely remote from to-day. But I am not advocating that we draw any hasty conclusions from it. 
Scientists and theologians alike must regard as somewhat crude the naive theological doctrine which 
(suitably, disguised) is at present to be found in every textbook of thermodynamics, namely that some 
billions of years ago God wound up the material universe and has left it to chance ever since. This should be 
regarded as the working-hypothesis of thermodynamics rather than its declaration of faith. It is one of those 
conclusions from which we can see no logical escape-only it suffers from the drawback that it is incredible. 
As a scientist I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang; 
unscientifically I feel equally unwilling to accept the implied discontinuity in the divine nature. But I can 
make no suggestion to evade the deadlock." (Eddington, A.S., "The Nature of the Physical World," [1928], 
The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1933, reprint, pp.84-85)

1/01/2007
"Turning again to the other end of time, there is one school of thought which finds very repugnant the idea 
of a wearing out of the world. This school is attracted by various theories of rejuvenescence. Its mascot is 
the Phoenix. Stars grow cold and die out. May not two dead stars collide, and be turned by the energy of the 
shock into fiery vapour from which a new sun-with planets and with life-is born.? This theory very prevalent 
in the last century is no longer contemplated seriously by astronomers. There is evidence that the present 
stars at any rate are products of one evolutionary process which swept across primordial matter and caused 
it to aggregate; they were not formed individually by haphazard collisions having no particular time 
connection with one another. But the Phoenix complex is still active. Matter, we believe, is gradually 
destroyed and its energy set free in radiation. Is there no counter-process by which radiation collects in 
space, evolves into electrons and protons, and begins star-building all over again? This is pure speculation 
and there is not much to be said on one side or the other as to its truth. But I would mildly criticise the 
mental outlook which wishes it to be true. However much we eliminate the minor extravagances of Nature, 
we do not by these theories stop the inexorable running-down of the world by loss of organisation and 
increase of the random element. Whoever wishes for a universe which can continue indefinitely in activity 
must lead a crusade against the second law of thermodynamics; the possibility of re-formation of matter 
from radiation is not crucial and we can await conclusions with some indifference. At present we can see no 
way in which an attack on the second law of thermodynamics could possibly succeed, and I confess that 
personally I have no great desire that it should succeed in averting the final running-down of the universe. I 
am no Phoenix worshipper. This is a topic on which science is silent, and all that one can say is prejudice. 
But since prejudice in favour of a never-ending cycle of rebirth of matter and worlds is often vocal, I may 
perhaps give voice to the opposite prejudice. I would feel more content that the universe should accomplish 
some great scheme of evolution and, having achieved whatever may be achieved, lapse back into chaotic 
changelessness, than that its purpose should be banalised by continual repetition. I am an Evolutionist, not 
a Multiplicationist. It seems rather stupid to keep doing the same thing over and over again." (Eddington, 
A.S., "The Nature of the Physical World," [1928], The Gifford Lectures 1927, Cambridge University Press: 
Cambridge UK, 1933, reprint, pp.85-86) 

1/01/2007
"On the other hand, the circumstances just noted afford the strongest indirect evidence of the truth of this 
narrative. For, if it were the outcome of Jewish imagination, where is the basis for it in contemporary 
expectation? Would Jewish legend have ever presented its Messiah as born in a stable, to which chance 
circumstances had consigned His Mother? The whole current of Jewish opinion would run in the contrary 
direction. The opponents of the authenticity of this narrative are bound to face this. Further, it may safely be 
asserted, that no Apocryphal or legendary narrative of such d (legendary) event would have been 
characterised by such scantiness, or rather absence, of details. For, the two essential features, alike of 
legend and of tradition, are, that they ever seek to surround their heroes with a halo of glory, and that they 
attempt to supply details. which are otherwise wanting. And in both these respects a more sharply-marked 
contrast could scarcely be presented, than in the Gospel-narrative." (Edersheim, A.*, "The Life and Times of 
Jesus the Messiah," [1883], Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, p.i:186)

1/01/2007
"A passage in the Mishnah [Shek. vii. 4] leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were 
destined for Temple-sacrifices, and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not 
ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism, on account of their necessary isolation 
from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance unlikely, if not 
absolutely impossible." (Edersheim, A.*, "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," [1883], Hendrickson 
Publishers: Peabody MA, Third Edition, 1886, pp.i:186-187) 

2/01/2007
"Natural selection has been extremely effective in policing allelic mutations which arise in already existing 
gene loci. Because of natural selection, organisms have been able to adapt to changing environments, and 
by adaptive radiation many new species were created from a common ancestral form. Yet, being an effective 
policeman, natural selection is extremely conservative by nature. Had evolution been entirely dependent 
upon natural selection, from a bacterium only numerous forms of bacteria would have emerged. The creation 
of metazoans, vertebrates and finally mammals from unicellular organisms would have been quite impossible, 
for such big leaps in evolution required the creation of new gene loci with previously nonexistent functions. 
Only the cistron which became redundant was able to escape from the relentless pressure of natural 
selection, and by escaping, it accumulated formerly forbidden mutations to emerge as a new gene locus." 
(Ohno, S., "Evolution by Gene Duplication," Springer-Verlag: New York NY, 1970, p.xvii. Emphasis original)

3/01/2007
"How can the calculus of probabilities permit the prediction of certain fortuitous eventualities? The 
mechanism of prediction is always the same and invariably brings in the single law of chance, of which we 
shall speak in greater detail, and which consists essentially of this: Phenomena with very small probabilities 
do not occur. It is then a matter of combining simple phenomena into complex phenomena whose 
probabilities calculated in terms of those of the simple phenomena are small enough for the application of 
the single law of chance." (Borel, ., "Probabilities and Life," [1943], Baudin, M., transl., Dover: New York 
NY, 1962, p.1. Emphasis original)

3/01/2007
"This law [the single law of chance] is extremely simple and intuitively evident, though rationally 
undemonstrable: Events with a sufficiently small probability never occur; or at least, we must act, in all 
circumstances, as if they were impossible. A classical example of such impossible events is that of the 
miracle of the typing monkeys, which may be given the following form: A typist who knows no other 
language than French has been kept in solitary confinement with her machine and white paper; she amuses 
herself by typing haphazardly and, at the end of six months, she is found to have written, without a single 
error, the complete works of Shakespeare in their English text and the complete works of Goethe in their 
German text. Such is the sort of event which, though its impossibility may not be rationally demonstrable, is, 
however, so unlikely that no sensible person will hesitate to declare it actually impossible. If someone 
affirmed having observed such an event we would be sure that he is deceiving us or has himself been the 
victim of a fraud." (Borel, ., "Probabilities and Life," [1943], Baudin, M., transl., Dover: New York NY, 1962, 
pp.2-3. Emphasis original)

3/01/2007
"But in concluding from its extremely small probability that the typist's miraculous feat is impossible, by 
virtue of the single law of chance, we leave the domain of mathematical science, and it must be recognized 
that the assertion, which seems to us quite evident and incontestable, is not, strictly speaking, a 
mathematical truth. A strictly abstract mathematician could even claim that the experiment need only be 
repeated a sufficient number of times, namely, a number of times represented by a number of 20 million 
figures, to be sure, on the contrary, that the miracle will be produced several times in the course of these 
innumerable trials. But it is not humanly possible to imagine that the experiment can be so often repeated. If 
the dimensions of the universe are assumed to be equal to a billion billion light years, the number of atoms 
which it could contain, if it were full of matter, is expressed by a number of less than two hundred figures, 
and in the course of a billion billion years there are fewer seconds than a number of fifty figures would 
express. If, therefore, in that lapse of time, every atom of the universe were transformed into a typist and 
repeated the experiment every thousandth of a second, the total number of experiments would be much less 
than a number of three hundred figures. It is then clearly absurd to imagine experiments whose number 
would extend to more than a million figures; that is a purely abstract conception, a piece of mathematical 
juggling of no consequence, and we must trust our intuition and our common sense which permit us to 
assert the absolute impossibility of the typist's miracle which we have described." (Borel, ., 
"Probabilities and Life," [1943], Baudin, M., transl., Dover: New York NY, 1962, p.5. Emphasis original)

3/01/2007
Probabilities which are Negligible on the Cosmic Scale. If we turn our attention, not to the terrestrial 
globe, but to the portion of the universe accessible to our astronomical and physical instruments, we are led 
to define the negligible probabilities on the cosmic scale. Some astronomical laws, such as Newton's law of 
universal gravitation and certain physical laws relative to the propagation of light waves, are verified by 
innumerable observations of all the visible celestial bodies. The probability that a new observation would 
contradict all these concordant observations is extremely small. We may be led to set at 10-50 the value of 
negligible probabilities on the cosmic scale. When the probability of an event is below this limit, the 
opposite event may be expected to occur with certainty, whatever the number of occasions presenting 
themselves in the entire universe. The number of observable stars is of the order of magnitude of a billion, or 
109, and the number of observations which the inhabitants of the earth could make of these stars, even if 
all were observing, is certainly less than 1020. A phenomenon with a probability of 10-50 will therefore 
never occur, or at least never be observed." (Borel, ., "Probabilities and Life," [1943], Baudin, M., transl., 
Dover: New York NY, 1962, p.28. Emphasis original) 

4/01/2007
"During the last year, a number of popular books on religion by scientists or philosophers of science have 
appeared. ... Among these books, Dawkins's The God Delusion stands out for two reasons. First, it's by 
far the most ambitious. ... Dawkins is on a mission to convert. He is an enemy of religion, wants to explain 
why, and hopes thereby to drive the beast to extinction. ... Dawkins not only thinks religion is unalloyed 
nonsense but that it is an overwhelmingly pernicious, even `very evil,' force in the world. His target is not so 
much organized religion as all religion. And within organized religion, he attacks not only extremist sects but 
moderate ones. Indeed, he argues that rearing children in a religious tradition amounts to child abuse." (Orr, 
H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 
2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Dawkins's book begins with a description of what he calls the God Hypothesis. This is the idea that `the 
universe and everything in it' were designed by `a superhuman, supernatural intelligence.' This intelligence 
might be personal (as in Christianity) or impersonal (as in deism). Dawkins is not concerned with the alleged 
detailed characteristics of God but with whether any form of the God Hypothesis is defensible. His answer 
is: almost certainly not. Although his target is broad, Dawkins discusses mostly Christianity ..." (Orr, H.A., 
"A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 
The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"The first few chapters of The God Delusion are given over to philosophical matters. Dawkins summarizes 
the traditional philosophical arguments for God's existence, from Aquinas through pre-Darwinian arguments 
from biological design, along with the traditional arguments against them. In a later chapter entitled `Why 
There Almost Certainly Is No God,' Dawkins himself plays philosopher, presenting the chief argument of his 
book. The God Hypothesis, he tells us, is close to `ruled out by the laws of probability.' Dawkins's 
demonstration involves what he calls the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit. This is his variation on a standard 
creationist argument. By tweaking that argument in a clever way, Dawkins claims it now leads to a 
conclusion that's the opposite of the traditional creationist one. The creationist argument works like this. 
Living things are enormously complex. Even the simplest of present-day organisms, like bacteria, are far 
more complicated than anything found in the nonliving world. All organisms carry genes, built from a 
replicating molecule like DNA (which is itself very complex). But DNA alone doesn't make an organism. 
Organisms also possess many different proteins (each, in turn, made of amino acids), as well as other 
molecules that help make structures like cell membranes. Moreover, all these parts must be arranged in just 
the right way: membranes on the outside of the cell and DNA on the inside, and so on. Creationists argue 
that the idea that such organized complexity could arise by natural means-without the intercession of a 
designer mind- is absurd. In particular, they argue that the probability that life could assemble itself 
spontaneously is extremely close to zero. To dramatize this, they suggest that thinking life could arise by 
natural means is like thinking a tornado could tear through a junkyard and assemble a Boeing 747. Such an 
event is not, strictly speaking, impossible but it's so extraordinarily unlikely that it is, according to 
creationists, unworthy of serious consideration. Dawkins's variation on this argument involves a judo-like 
move in which he turns its logic against itself. In particular, Dawkins claims that rejecting natural means to 
explain life and instead invoking a designer God leaves us with a hypothesis that's even more improbable 
than the naturalistic one: A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God 
capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in 
his own right. In short, only complicated objects can design simpler ones; information cannot flow in the 
other direction, with simple objects designing complicated ones. But that means any designer God would 
have to be more complex -and thus even more improbable- than the universe he was supposed to explain. 
This argument, Dawkins concludes, `comes close to proving that God does not exist': the God Hypothesis 
has a vanishingly small probability of being right." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God 
Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, 
January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"The latter half of The God Delusion is partly devoted to Dawkins's discussion of religion as practiced. 
Not surprisingly, he finds little good to say about it: religion for him is the root of much evil and its 
disappearance from the world would be an unmitigated good. Religion, he tells us, is certainly not the source 
of our morality (indeed the God of the Old Testament is, he claims, nothing short of monstrous) and 
believers are no better morally than nonbelievers; in fact they may be worse. Dawkins regales us with tales 
of Christian cops who threaten to beat up an atheist; presents statistics on the higher rates of crime in 
regions that are religious; and argues that, when considering religiously inspired violence and terrorism, `we 
should blame religion itself, not religious extremism-as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of 
real, decent religion.' ... As you may have noticed, Dawkins when discussing religion is, in effect, a blunt 
instrument, one that has a hard time distinguishing Unitarians from abortion clinic bombers. What may be 
less obvious is that, on questions of God, Dawkins cannot abide much dissent, especially from fellow 
scientists (and especially from fellow evolutionary biologists). Indeed Dawkins is fond of imputing ulterior 
motives to those `Neville Chamberlain School' scientists not willing to go as far as he in his war on religion: 
he suggests that they're guilty of disingenuousness, playing politics, and lusting after the large prizes 
awarded by the Templeton Foundation to scientists sympathetic to religion. The only motive Dawkins 
doesn't seem to take seriously is that some scientists genuinely disagree with him." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission 
to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York 
Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Despite my admiration for much of Dawkins's work, I'm afraid that I'm among those scientists who must part 
company with him here. Indeed, The God Delusion seems to me badly flawed. Though I once labeled 
Dawkins a professional atheist, I'm forced, after reading his new book, to conclude he's actually more an 
amateur. ... The most disappointing feature of The God Delusion is Dawkins's failure to engage religious 
thought in any serious way. This is, obviously, an odd thing to say about a book-length investigation into 
God. But the problem reflects Dawkins's cavalier attitude about the quality of religious thinking. Dawkins 
tends to dismiss simple expressions of belief as base superstition. Having no patience with the faith of 
fundamentalists, he also tends to dismiss more sophisticated expressions of belief as sophistry (he cannot, 
for instance, tolerate the meticulous reasoning of theologians). But if simple religion is barbaric (and thus 
unworthy of serious thought) and sophisticated religion is logic-chopping (and thus equally unworthy of 
serious thought), the ineluctable conclusion is that all religion is unworthy of serious thought. The result is 
The God Delusion, a book that never squarely faces its opponents. You will find no serious examination 
of Christian or Jewish theology in Dawkins's book (does he know Augustine rejected biblical literalism in the 
early fifth century?), no attempt to follow philosophical debates about the nature of religious propositions 
(are they like ordinary claims about everyday matters?), no effort to appreciate the complex history of 
interaction between the Church and science (does he know the Church had an important part in the rise of 
non-Aristotelian science?), and no attempt to understand even the simplest of religious attitudes (does 
Dawkins really believe, as he says, that Christians should be thrilled to learn they're terminally ill?)." (Orr, 
H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 
2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Instead, Dawkins has written a book that's distinctly, even defiantly, middlebrow. Dawkins's intellectual 
universe appears populated by the likes of Douglas Adams, the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the 
Galaxy, and Carl Sagan, the science popularizer, both of whom he cites repeatedly. This is a different group 
from thinkers like William James and Ludwig Wittgenstein-both of whom lived after Darwin, both of whom 
struggled with the question of belief, and both of whom had more to say about religion than Adams and 
Sagan. Dawkins spends much time on what can only be described as intellectual banalities: `Did Jesus have 
a human father, or was his mother a virgin at the time of his birth? Whether or not there is enough surviving 
evidence to decide it, this is still a strictly scientific question.' The vacuum created by Dawkins's failure to 
engage religious thought must be filled by something, and in The God Delusion, it gets filled by 
extraneous quotation, letters from correspondents, and, most of all, anecdote after anecdote. ... One reason 
for the lack of extended argument in The God Delusion is clear: Dawkins doesn't seem very good at it. 
Indeed he suffers from several problems when attempting to reason philosophically. The most obvious is 
that he has a preordained set of conclusions at which he's determined to arrive. Consequently, Dawkins 
uses any argument, however feeble, that seems to get him there and the merit of various arguments appears 
judged largely by where they lead. The most important example involves Dawkins's discussion of 
philosophical arguments for the existence of God as opposed to his own argument against God, which he 
presents as the intellectual heart of his book. Considering arguments for God, Dawkins is careful to recite 
the many standard objections to them and writes that the traditional proofs are `vacuous,' `dubious,' 
`infantile,' and `perniciously misleading.' But turning to his own Ultimate Boeing 747 argument against God, 
Dawkins is suddenly uninterested in criticism and writes that his argument is `unanswerable.' So why, you 
might wonder, is a clever philosophical argument for God subject to withering criticism while one against 
God gets a free pass and is deemed devastating? The reason seems clear. The first argument leads to a 
conclusion Dawkins despises, while the second leads to one he loves. Dawkins, so far as I can tell, is 
unconcerned that the central argument of his book bears more than a passing resemblance to those clever 
philosophical proofs for the existence of God that he dismisses. This is unfortunate. He could have used a 
healthy dose of his usual skepticism when deciding how much to invest in his own Ultimate Boeing 747 
argument. Indeed, one needn't be a creationist to note that Dawkins's argument suffers at least two potential 
problems. First, as others have pointed out, if he is right, the design hypothesis essentially must be wrong 
and the alternative naturalistic hypothesis essentially must be right. But since when is a scientific 
hypothesis confirmed by philosophical gymnastics, not data? Second, the fact that we as scientists find a 
hypothesis question-begging-as when Dawkins asks `who designed the designer?'- cannot, in itself, settle 
its truth value. It could, after all, be a brute fact of the universe that it derives from some transcendent mind, 
however question-begging this may seem. What explanations we find satisfying might say more about us 
than about the explanations. Why, for example, is Dawkins so untroubled by his own (large) assumption 
that both matter and the laws of nature can be viewed as given? Why isn't that question-begging?" (Orr, 
H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 
2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Exercises in double standards also plague Dawkins's discussion of the idea that religion encourages good 
behavior. Dawkins cites a litany of statistics revealing that red states (with many conservative Christians) 
suffer higher rates of crime, including murder, burglary, and theft, than do blue states. But now consider his 
response to the suggestion that the atheist Stalin and his comrades committed crimes of breathtaking 
magnitude: `We are not in the business,' he says, `of counting evils heads, compiling two rival roll calls of 
iniquity.' We're not? We were forty-five pages ago." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The 
God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, 
No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Dawkins's problems with philosophy might be related to a failure of metaphysical imagination. When 
thinking of those vast matters that make up religion-matters of ultimate meaning that stand at the edge of 
intelligibility and that are among the most difficult to articulate-he sees only black and white. Despite some 
attempts at subtlety, Dawkins almost reflexively identifies religion with right-wing fundamentalism and 
biblical literalism. Other, more nuanced possibilities- varieties of deism, mysticism, or nondenominational 
spirituality-have a harder time holding his attention. It may be that Dawkins can't imagine these possibilities 
vividly enough to worry over them in a serious way. ... In any case, part of what it means to suffer a failure 
of imagination may be that one can't conceive that one's imagination is impoverished. It's hard to resist the 
conclusion that people like James and Wittgenstein struggled personally with religion, while Dawkins 
shrugs his shoulders, at least in part because they conceived possibilities-mistaken ones perhaps, but 
certainly more interesting ones- that escape Dawkins." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The 
God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, 
No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Putting aside these philosophical matters, Dawkins's key empirical claim-that religion is a pernicious force 
in the world-might still be right. Is it? Throughout The God Delusion, Dawkins reminds us of the horrors 
committed in the name of God, from outright war, through the persecution of minority sects, acts of 
terrorism, the closing of children's minds, and the oppression of those having unorthodox sexual lives. No 
decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion. So we all agree: religion 
can be bad. But the critical question is: compared to what? And here Dawkins is less convincing because he 
fails to examine the question in a systematic way. Tests of religion's consequences might involve a number 
of different comparisons: between religion's good and bad effects, or between the behavior of believers and 
nonbelievers, and so on. While Dawkins touches on each, his modus operandi generally involves 
comparing religion as practiced -religion, that is, as it plays out in the rough-and-tumble world of 
compromise, corruption, and incompetence- with atheism as theory. But fairness requires that we compare 
both religion and atheism as practiced or both as theory. The latter is an amorphous and perhaps impossible 
task, and I can see why Dawkins sidesteps it. But comparing both as practiced is more straightforward. And, 
at least when considering religious and atheist institutions, the facts of history do not, I believe, 
demonstrate beyond doubt that atheism comes out on the side of the angels. Dawkins has a difficult time 
facing up to the dual facts that (1) the twentieth century was an experiment in secularism; and (2) the result 
was secular evil, an evil that, if anything, was more spectacularly virulent than that which came before. ... 
The problem is that these latter days have witnessed blood-curdling experiments in institutional atheism. 
Dawkins tends to wave away the resulting crimes. It is, he insists, unclear if they were actually inspired by 
atheism. He emphasizes, for example, that Stalin's brutality may not have been motivated by his atheism. 
While this is surely partly true, it's a tricky issue, especially as one would need to allow for the same kind of 
distinction when considering religious institutions. (Does anyone really believe that the Church's dreadful 
dealings with the Nazis were motivated by its theism?) In any case, it's hard to believe that Stalin's wholesale 
torture and murder of priests and nuns (including crucifixions) and Mao's persecution of Catholics and 
extermination of nearly every remnant of Buddhism were unconnected to their atheism. Neither the 
institutions of Christianity nor those of communism are, of course, innocent. But Dawkins's inability to see 
the difference in the severity of their sins- one of orders of magnitude-suggests an ideological commitment 
of the sort that usually reflects devotion to a creed." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The 
God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, 
No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"What of the possibility that present-day churchgoers are worse morally than those who stay away? They 
might be. Indeed C.S. Lewis, in perhaps the most widely read work of popular theology ever written, Mere 
Christianity, conceded the possibility. Emphasizing that the Gospel was preached to the weak and poor, 
Lewis argued that troubled souls might well be drawn disproportionately to the Church. As he also 
emphasized, the appropriate contrast should not, therefore, be between the behavior of churchgoers and 
nongoers but between the behavior of people before and after they find religion. Under Dawkins's 
alternative logic, the fact that those sitting in a doctor's office are on average sicker than those not sitting 
there must stand as an indictment of medicine. (There's no evidence in The God Delusion that Dawkins is 
familiar with Lewis's argument.) ... Even when comparing believers and nonbelievers, Dawkins is curiously 
silent on one of the best-known differences. Believers give far more to charities-even nonreligious charities- 
than do secularists. See, for instance, the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey 
(www.cfsv.org/communitysurvey/results.html)." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God 
Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, 
January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"In any case, there are some grounds for questioning whether Dawkins's project is even meaningful. As T.S. 
Eliot famously observed, to ask whether we would have been better off without religion is to ask a question 
whose answer is unknowable. Our entire history has been so thoroughly shaped by Judeo-Christian 
tradition that we cannot imagine the present state of society in its absence. But there's a deeper point and 
one that Dawkins also fails to see. Even what we mean by the world being better off is conditioned by our 
religious inheritance. What most of us in the West mean-and what Dawkins, as revealed by his own Ten 
Commandments, means-is a world in which individuals are free to express their thoughts and passions and 
to develop their talents so long as these do not infringe on the ability of others to do so. But this is 
assuredly not what a better world would look like to, say, a traditional Confucian culture. There, a new and 
improved world might be one that allows the readier suppression of individual differences and aspirations. 
The point is that all judgments, including ethical ones, begin somewhere and ours, often enough, begin in 
Judaism and Christianity. Dawkins should, of course, be applauded for his attempt to picture a better world. 
But intellectual honesty demands acknowledging that his moral vision derives, to a considerable extent, 
from the tradition he so despises." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by 
Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 
2007)

4/01/2007
"One of the most interesting questions about Dawkins's book is why it was written. Why does Dawkins feel 
he has anything significant to say about religion and what gives him the sense of authority presumably 
needed to say it at book length? The God Delusion certainly establishes that Dawkins has little new to 
offer. Its arguments are those of any bright student who has thumbed through Bertrand Russell's more 
popular books and who has, horrified, watched videos of holy rollers. ... The reason, of course, is that The 
God Delusion is not itself a work of either evolutionary biology in particular or science in general. None of 
Dawkins's loud pronouncements on God follows from any experiment or piece of data. It's just Dawkins 
talking." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, 
Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"We should not, though, conclude that there's no debate whatever to be had between science and religion. 
The view championed by Stephen Jay Gould and others that the two endeavors are utterly distinct and thus 
incapable of interfering with each other is overly simplistic. There have been, and likely will continue to be, 
real disagreements between legitimate science and authentic religion. Some of the issues involved are 
epistemological (Do scientific and religious claims simply begin with different premises, the first materialist 
and the second not?), and others ethical (Where do we draw the line between what medicine can accomplish 
and what it should be allowed to accomplish?). These questions are difficult and might well merit extended 
discussion between scientific and religious thinkers. But if such discussions are to be worthwhile, they will 
have to take place at a far higher level of sophistication than Richard Dawkins seems either willing or able to 
muster." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, 
Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

4/01/2007
"Dawkins would likely respond that his moral vision derives from either biological or cultural evolution, i.e., 
from the spread of `memes,' his putative unit of cultural evolution. I suspect that biological evolution has 
endowed us with a rough moral sense; but this can't explain the kind of differences between Judeo-Christian 
and Confucian cultures noted above. As for memes, I see no difference between saying that my morals 
derive from, say, Christianity and saying that my brain hosts a `Christian morality meme.' In any case, most 
scientists do not accept Dawkins's theory of memes. Lewis Wolpert's reaction in his new book is typical: 
`Just what a meme is, and how it is distinguishable from beliefs, I find difficult.... There is no distinction 
made between memes relating to belief and knowledge. Moreover, no mechanism is proposed for the so-
called replication of memes, or what they are selected for." (Orr, H.A., "A Mission to Convert." Review of 
"The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. The New York Review of Books, Vol. 
54, No. 1, January 11, 2007)

5/01/2007
"Beginnings of life About 4,600 million years ago (one quarter the age of the Universe), a hostile, barren 
Earth was formed from the accumulation of cosmic debris. Between then and the beginning of the Cambrian 
some 600 million years ago, a number of mountainous steps had to be taken to change the inert dust and 
gases into such complex living wonders as the sea snails, jellyfish, octopuses, trilobites and so on that 
abruptly appear in the fossil record. The first and perhaps the easiest stage was the change from inorganic 
to organic - from the gases which presumably surrounded Earth at that time (hydrogen, ammonia, methane, 
etc.) to the simplest amino acids, containing about ten atoms, which are the most basic of the biochemical 
universals. Experimentally, Stanley Miller in the United States showed in 1953 that by passing an electrical 
discharge (in real life, perhaps a bolt of lightning) through the appropriate gases, quite surprisingly large 
amounts of amino acids were formed. The experiments are acknowledged as a major breakthrough in our 
understanding of how life got under way, and since then other essential chemicals have been synthesized. 
Today, five of the twenty amino acids common to us all still resist attempts to create them artificially under 
anything like plausible conditions, and critics have pointed to the 'oxygen-ultraviolet conundrum' that is still 
not resolved .... A summary paper in Nature concluded bleakly that the chances of finding significant 
concentrations of organic chemicals in any prebiotic 'soups' so far imagined were vanishingly small: 'The 
physical chemist, guided by the proved principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, cannot offer 
any encouragement to the biochemist who needs an ocean full of organic compounds.' [Hull, D.E., 
"Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Spontaneous Generation," Nature, Vol. 186, May 28, 1960, pp.693-694, 
p.694]" (Hitching, F., "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, pp.63-
64. Emphasis original)

5/01/2007
"But the really crucial stage is the one that necessarily followed: the transformation from non-life to life. 
Living things are distinguished from non-living things in a number of ways. Primarily, they organize 
themselves on a continuing basis. They tend to move themselves towards an increase in order and 
complexity - they grow, while non-living things inevitably disintegrate. They have a unique ability to renew 
themselves after injury - they are able, both at the cellular level and as complete organisms to reproduce 
their form. There are other secondary characteristics, such as the ability to dispose of waste, and to respond 
to stimuli, that have no exact parallel in the non-living world. This is true even of the simplest living forms: 
single-celled bacteria. They represent a quantum evolutionary leap from the lifeless chemicals that came 
before. Assuming that there was, around four billion years ago, a sea with perhaps a ten-percent solution of 
amino acids, sugars, phosphates, and so on, two prodigious leaps have to take place, and they have to 
happen in synchrony. The amino acids must link together to form proteins; and the other chemicals must 
join up to make nucleic acids, including the vital DNA. The seemingly insurmountable obstacle is the way 
the two reactions are inseparably linked - one can't happen without the other. Proteins depend on DNA for 
their formation. But DNA cannot form without pre-existing protein. This biological treadmill greatly worries 
all biologists actively concerned in research into the origin of life. The puzzle was put succinctly: 'How, 
when no life existed, did substances come into being which, today, are absolutely essential to living 
systems, yet which can only be formed by those systems?' [Blum, H.F., "'Perspectives in Evolution," 
American Scientist, Vol. 43, 1955, p.595] No one knows the answer. 'Which came first?' asked Professor 
Sidney Fox of Miami University. 'Whichever postulate has been considered has seemed to leave an 
unresolved question.' [Fox. S.W., ed., "The Origins of Prebiological Systems and their Molecular Matrices," 
Academic Press: New York, 1965, p.359]." (Hitching, F., "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went 
Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, p.64. Emphasis original) 

5/01/2007
"Beginnings of life The first and perhaps the easiest stage was the change from inorganic to organic - 
from the gases which presumably surrounded Earth at that time (hydrogen, ammonia, methane, etc.) to the 
simplest amino acids, containing about ten atoms, which are the most basic of the biochemical universals. 
Experimentally, Stanley Miller in the United States showed in 1953 that by passing an electrical discharge (in 
real life, perhaps a bolt of lightning) through the appropriate gases, quite surprisingly large amounts of 
amino acids were formed. ... Today, five of the twenty amino acids common to us all still resist attempts to 
create them artificially under anything like plausible conditions, and critics have pointed to the 'oxygen-
ultraviolet conundrum' that is still not resolved ... It was a Russian biochemist, A.I. Oparin, who in 1936 first 
suggested how inert chemicals might link together into an organic chain. Although it was impossible to 
create life from non-life in our present oxygen-heavy environment, he said (oxygen literally eats up any 
primitive organic chemical such as an amino acid), this might not have been the case in conditions billions of 
years ago. He suggested that there was a 'reducing' atmosphere - free of oxygen, and consisting of such 
gases as methane, ammonia, water and hydrogen. All experiments, including Stanley Miller's, have been 
based on this hypothesis. Without oxygen, there is no ozone canopy to protect Earth from the sun's 
ultraviolet rays. Nowadays, as established by NASA's early space probes, this canopy blankets us between 
fifteen and thirty miles above Earth's surface, effectively shielding us from certain death. So with oxygen in 
the air, the first amino acid would never have got started; without oxygen, it would have been wiped out by 
cosmic rays. Imaginative and elaborate solutions have been written to this conundrum. Perhaps the amino 
acid was formed at the edge of a volcano, and then sank into a lake where it dropped the few metres below 
the surface necessary to protect it from radiation; perhaps the Earth's waters were covered by a layer of tar-
like chemicals which stopped ultraviolet light; perhaps the amino acid was protectively dehydrated or 
'frozen' in some way on dry rock or clay, waiting for an improvement in the atmosphere. For every 
suggestion, there is a seemingly insuperable objection: beneath the surface of the water there would not be 
enough energy to activate further chemical reactions; water in any case inhibits the growth of more complex 
molecules; unlike conditions in laboratory experiments, the amino acids and their constituents could not be 
kept pure and isolated. In other words, the theoretical chances of getting through even this first and 
relatively easy stage in the evolution of life are forbidding." (Hitching, F., "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or 
Where Darwin Went Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, pp.63-65 ) 

5/01/2007
"However improbable we regard this event [the start of all life], or any of the steps which it involves, given 
enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it ... once may be enough. 
Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. 
What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time 
the `impossible' becomes the possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has 
only to wait: time itself performs the miracles. [Wald, G., "The Origin of Life," Scientific American, August 
1954] These words were written by Nobel laureate and Harvard University biology professor George Wald 
and published in the widely read journal Scientific American. For decades leading biologists had 
promulgated the position, stated so well by Wald, that time and chance were the forces behind the miracle of 
life. It was logically correct. After all, what else could be operating? Wald's definitive statement, made on 
behalf of the scientific community, rested firmly on research completed the previous year. In 1953, Stanley 
Miller, then a graduate student at the University of Chicago, had produced amino acids by a series of totally 
random reactions. His experiment was simple but brilliant. Miller evacuated a glass flask and then filled it 
with the gases thought to have been present in Earth's atmosphere 3.8 billion years ago: ammonia, methane, 
hydrogen, and water vapor. Free oxygen was not present. It appeared only billions of years later, the 
product of life itself photosynthesis. Using electrodes placed through the walls of the flask, Miller 
discharged electric sparks, simulating lightning, into the gases. Their energy induced random chemical 
reactions among the gases. After a few days, a reddish slime appeared on the inner walls of the apparatus. 
Upon analysis, the slime was found to contain amino acids. The importance of Miller's experiment was at 
once apparent. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and proteins are the building blocks of life. 
As Wald pointed out, two billion years had passed between the appearance of water on Earth and the 
appearance of life. If random reactions in a small flask can produce amino acids in just two days, given two 
billion years of reactions throughout the Earth's vast atmosphere and oceans, the first forms of life, bacteria 
and algae, must have been the product of similar random reactions during those eons. The impossible had 
become the probable and the probable certain. We and all other members of the biosphere are living proof of 
the theory's accuracy. The news media worldwide reported the significance of Miller's seminal experiment. 
The public had been told the truth: life had started by chance. Or had it? Wald's article was such an 
important statement that twenty-five years later, in 1979, Scientific American reprinted it in a special 
publication titled Life: Origin and Evolution. The only difference was that this time it appeared with a 
retraction. I have seen no other retraction by a journal of a Nobel laureate's writings. The retraction was 
unequivocal: Although stimulating, this article probably represents one of the very few times in his 
professional life when Wald has been wrong. Examine his main thesis and see. Can we really form a 
biological cell by waiting for chance combinations of organic compounds? Harold Morowitz, in his book 
`Energy Flow and Biology,' [Morowitz, H.J., "Energy Flow in Biology," Academic Press: New York NY, 1969, 
pp.5-12] computed that merely to create a bacterium would require more time than the Universe might ever see if 
chance combinations of its molecules were the only driving force. [Folsome, C., "Life: Origin and 
Evolution," Scientific American Special Publication, 1979] In short, life could not have started by chance." 
(Schroeder, G.L., "The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom," Broadway 
Books: New York NY, 1998, pp.83-85. Emphasis original) 

5/01/2007
"All plants and animals are bound together by sharing the same earth, air and water. They are also linked by 
a competition for solar energy, on which their lives depend. Once believed to be a ruthless and unbridled 
battle, more recent study of this struggle for existence suggests that co-operation and interdependence may 
be more important for the survival of a species than a no-quarter war." (Farb, P., "Ecology," [1963], Time-Life 
International: Netherlands, Reprinted, 1968, p.105) 

6/01/2007
"The Chicken or the Egg Imagine that you are the captain of a small sailboat that is sinking slowly in a 
storm. You must lighten it if it is to stay afloat. Unfortunately, everything that obviously can be spared has 
already been thrown overboard. What should you sacrifice now: the sail, the food supplies, the radio, the 
signaling equipment, or perhaps one of the passengers? It is a difficult choice. A similar dilemma faces the 
biochemist who considers the origin of life. As we have seen, the simplest known organisms are far too 
complex to form spontaneously. The hypothetical common ancestor, an organism containing the features 
shared by living cells today, would also be complex. The first organism was a much simpler one. What, then, 
should be sacrificed to strip down the common ancestor into the original organism: the membrane, the 
energy-generating system, the genetic system, or the vital catalysts? Understandably, controversy exists 
over this question. It is agreed that one thing must be kept, however. Just as the captain must preserve the 
hull of his ship, the biochemist must preserve some mechanism in his organism that will permit it to evolve 
and generate more complex life. Most biochemists are willing to part with the energy-generating system and 
to rely upon the benevolence of the prebiotic soup. This soup is called upon to perform the functions of a 
modern mammalian mother. It must not only assemble a living organism within its body, but it must also 
continue to nourish it after birth. The chemicals in the soup will furnish the meals for the first organisms, 
supplying both energy and the substances needed for further growth. Most biochemists are also willing to 
forgo the lipid membrane, or to make its acquisition a minor feature in the development of life. If we ignore 
the protein gateways, then the membrane simply becomes a partition to separate the living cell from its 
environment. Partitions can be formed in many ways, and need not have complex structures. ... When lipids 
and carbohydrates are thrown overboard, we are then left with proteins and nucleic acids as candidates for 
the ingredients of the first organism. Some more cautious thinkers would like to retain both of them, but then 
the boat would surely sink. Both are complex types of molecules, which need to be of considerable size to 
function properly. We shall see that it is difficult to account for the appearance of either of these molecules 
by spontaneous generation on the early earth. If both are needed, then we go down in a sea of 
improbability. Most workers in the field are willing to face the painful choice. As stated in A.L. Lehninger's 
biochemistry text, it is: `Which had primacy in the origin of life, proteins or nucleic acids?' [Lehninger, A.L., 
"Biochemistry," Worth Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, p.1045]" (Shapiro, R., "Origins: 
A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, pp.132-133. 
Emphasis original) 

6/01/2007
"The Origin of `Life' vs. the Origin of Cells We have seen how primitive polypeptides, polysaccharides, 
polynucleotides, catalysts, and replication templates could have arisen in the course of prebiotic chemical 
evolution. We now come to that critical moment in chemical evolution when the first semblance of `life' 
appeared, through the chance association of a number of abiotically formed macromolecular components to 
yield a unique system of enhanced survival value, capable of evolving toward a more complex structure, one 
better able to survive. However, the first structure possessing `life' was not necessarily a modern cell, 
complete with a membrane, a chromosome, ribosomes, enzymes, a metabolism, and the property of self-
replication. The minimum requirement is that it could potentially evolve into a complete cell. It is at this point 
that a cluster of organic molecules, possibly a group of oligomers or polymers, associated with each other 
into a stabilized structure. ... Such a structure may have included fatty acids or lipids, which spontaneously 
form membranes and micelles, or other molecules with hydrophobic zones, such as polypeptides rich in 
amino acids with hydrophobic R groups." (Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell 
Structure and Function," [1970], Worth Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, 
p.1045. Emphasis original)

6/01/2007
"We cannot define `life' accurately enough to determine at what point it arose in the chain of events leading 
from preformed macromolecular components to a complete cell. However, it is generally agreed that a 
minimum requirement for life is one or more informational macromolecules capable of directing their own 
replication. One must then ask: Which had primacy in the origin of life, proteins or nucleic acids? One view 
suggests that the first protocells arose when primitive catalysts (presumably polypeptides) first became 
surrounded by a membrane or became incorporated in a gel-like matrix and that the resulting structure 
`learned' to maintain itself with a primitive metabolism. In this view the first cells functioned in the absence 
of nucleic acids and a genetic system, which they acquired later. Another view is that nucleic acids arose 
first and that they provided the information for the evolution of proteins. A third view is that both nucleic 
acids and proteins had to come together to form the first real precursor of a living cell." (Lehninger, A.L., 
"Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function," [1970], Worth Publishers: New York 
NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, pp.1045-1046)

6/01/2007
"Any hint that DNA and RNA can do some work is received eagerly by those who favor the primacy of 
nucleic acids. Late in 1982, for example, Colorado State University chemist Thomas R. Cech and co-workers 
reported that certain RNA molecules could reorganize themselves. They could rearrange their connections 
so that certain sections were expelled and others were rejoined. Enzymes could speed up these processes 
manyfold, but they took place more slowly anyway, even when no enzymes were present. Science 
magazine reported the news under the headline "RNA Can Be a Catalyst," [Lewin, R., "RNA can be a 
catalyst," Science, Vol. 218, 26 November 1982, pp.872-874] and suggested that it had significance for the 
origin of life. This announcement was premature, as the word `catalyst' has a different meaning. It describes 
a substance that changes other molecules, while it remains unchanged. Subsequently, other workers 
showed that one RNA molecule can also aid in the rearrangement, or splicing, of another, in true catalytic 
fashion. The effects shown thus far testify to the versatility of RNA as a genetic material, but do not 
demonstrate the control of other kinds of molecules that would have been valuable in the early days of life. 
They may have come into play later in evolution, when the partnership of DNA and RNA was first 
established. As we have seen, the DNA of higher organisms has extra messages ('commercial breaks') that 
are passed on to RNA, but must be removed before the information is used to construct proteins. The ability 
of RNA molecules to splice one another without outside help shows how fit they are for this particular role, 
but tell us little about whether nucleic acids or proteins had primacy in the origin of life." (Shapiro, R., 
"Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, pp.133-134)

6/01/2007
"The nucleic acids are, of course, the hereditary material. They contain the blueprint for the organism which 
is passed from parent to daughter cells. DNA duplicates during replication, to provide a blueprint copy for 
each daughter. The design of DNA, with its two complementary chains, makes this event possible. DNA 
cannot replicate alone, however. It requires the aid of proteins in this process. Further, neither DNA nor the 
other nucleic acid, RNA, has much catalytic ability. Unlike proteins, they cannot make things happen. ... 
Proteins can make things happen effectively in the cell. Alas, they lack another capacity. We know of no 
mechanism by which they can replicate themselves. Like mules, they can work, but are sterile. If a cell were 
deprived of its DNA, it would function for a time. Cilia would wave, ribosomes would make proteins, and 
sugars would be converted to simpler substances, releasing energy. After a time, however, everything 
would grind to a halt. The cell would die, leaving no offspring. Genes and enzymes are linked together in a 
living cell two interlocked systems, each supporting the other. It is difficult to see how either could manage 
alone. Yet if we are to avoid invoking either a Creator or a very large improbability, we must accept that one 
occurred before the other in the origin of life. But which one was it? We are left with the ancient riddle: 
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life 
on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, p.135)

6/01/2007
We will enter this arena by considering an article published in 1966 by Nobel laureate H. J. Muller (18901967) 
in the American Naturalist, which summarized his views on the origin of life. Muller was an American 
scientist who had discovered that X rays can produce mutations. He was among the first to warn the public 
of the adverse health effects of radiation, and was also an advocate of human improvement through 
voluntary eugenics. He was one of the founders of modern genetics. Not surprisingly, Muller was the 
foremost exponent of the primacy of the genetic material in the origin of life. He had suggested this idea in 
the late 1920s, adapting it from an earlier theory of L.T. Troland. The Troland theory held that enzymes and 
genes were the same substance (this was long before Watson and Crick) and that this substance, catalyzing 
its own reproduction, was the master chemical of life. Muller recognized that the functions might be 
separate, and attached more importance to the gene. We will quote from his 1966 article directly: `It is the 
specific sequences in the DNA which determine those in the proteins and changes in the former result in 
corresponding changes in the latter, whereas the reverse relation does not hold, any more than, in general, 
other acquired characteristics are inherited. This circumstance clearly gives the gene material primacy.... 
The `stripped down' definition of a living thing offered here may be paraphrased: that which possesses 
the potentiality of evolving by natural selection.... The gene material also, of natural materials, possesses 
these faculties and it is therefore legitimate to call it living material, the present-day representative of the first 
life...Primitive conditions afforded it enough means of exercising them to allow it to evolve protoplasm that 
served it...Thus the gene material itself has the properties of life.' [Muller, H.J., "The Gene Material as the 
Initiator and the Organizing Basis of Life," American Naturalist, Vol. 100, 1966, pp.493-517]" (Shapiro, R., 
"Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, p.135. Emphasis 
and ellipses  original)

6/01/2007
"Muller's views do not lack advocates today, among them the astronomer Carl Sagan. Sagan was an 
undergraduate at the University of Chicago in the early 1950s and spent one summer in Muller's laboratory 
in Indiana. Subsequently, as a graduate student, Sagan published an article expressing views similar to 
Muller's: `The design of the organism is merely to provide for gene multiplication and survival.... Now this 
picture we have been drawing of the proto-DNA molecule, associated with protein, is certainly strongly 
suggestive of a primitive free-living naked gene situated in a dilute medium of organic matter.... There was 
no protoplasm per se for the naked gene to act upon. ... In time the naked gene found it of greater adaptive 
value to control the environment by becoming no longer naked. [Sagan, C., "Radiation and the Origin of the 
Gene," Evolution, Vol. 11, 1957, pp.40-55] Sagan has continued to advocate this position during his 
outstanding career in astronomy and science writing. In his book and television series Cosmos, the origin 
of life was equated with the formation of the first self-copying molecule: "the earliest ancestor of 
deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, the master molecule of life on Earth.' [Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," [1980], 
Macdonald: London, Reprinted, 1981, p.31]" (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life
on Earth," Summit Books: New York NY, 1986, pp.136-137. Emphasis and ellipses original)

6/01/2007
"The secrets of evolution are death and time-the deaths of enormous numbers of lifeforms that were 
imperfectly adapted to the environment; and time for a long succession of small mutations that were by 
accident adaptive, time for the slow accumulation of patterns of favorable mutations. Part of the resistance 
to Darwin and Wallace derives from our difficulty in imagining the passage of the millennia, much less the 
aeons. What does seventy million years mean to beings who live only one-millionth as long? We are like 
butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever." (Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," [1980], Macdonald: London, 
Reprinted, 1981, pp.30-31. Emphasis original)

6/01/2007
"What happened here on Earth may be more or less typical of the evolution of life on many worlds; but in 
such details as the chemistry of proteins or the neurology of brains, the story of life on Earth may be unique 
in all the Milky Way Galaxy. The Earth condensed out of interstellar gas and dust some 4.6 billion years ago. 
We know from the fossil record that the origin of life happened soon after, perhaps around 4.0 billion years 
ago, in the ponds and oceans of the primitive Earth. The first living things were not anything so complex as 
a one-celled organism, already a highly sophisticated form of life. The first stirrings were much more humble. 
In those early days, lightning and ultraviolet light from the Sun were breaking apart the simple hydrogen-
rich molecules of the primitive atmosphere, the fragments spontaneously recombining into more and more 
complex molecules. The products of this early chemistry were dissolved in the oceans, forming a kind of 
organic soup of gradually increasing complexity, until one day, quite by accident, a molecule arose that was 
able to make crude copies of itself, using as building blocks other molecules in the soup. ... This was the 
earliest ancestor of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, the master molecule of life on Earth. It is shaped like a 
ladder twisted into a helix, the rungs available in four different molecular parts, which constitute the four 
letters of the genetic code. These rungs, called nucleotides, spell out the hereditary instructions for making 
a given organism. Every lifeform on Earth has a different set of instructions, written out in essentially the 
same language. The reason organisms are different is the differences in their nucleic acid instructions. A 
mutation is a change in a nucleotide, copied in the next generation, which breeds true. Since mutations are 
random nucleotide changes, most of them are harmful or lethal, coding into existence nonfunctional 
enzymes. It is a long wait before a mutation makes an organism work better. And yet it is that improbable 
event, a small beneficial mutation in a nucleotide a ten-millionth of a centimeter across, that makes evolution 
go. Four billion years ago, the Earth was a molecular Garden of Eden. There were as yet no predators. Some 
molecules reproduced themselves inefficiently, competed for building blocks and left crude copies of 
themselves. With reproduction, mutation and the selective elimination of the least efficient varieties, 
evolution was well under way, even at the molecular level. As time went on, they got better at reproducing. 
Molecules with specialized functions eventually joined together, making a kind of molecular collective-the 
first cell." (Sagan, C.E., "Cosmos," [1980], Macdonald: London, Reprinted, 1981, pp.30-31. Emphasis original)

7/01/2007
"Finally, in 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick proposed a three-dimensional model for DNA that 
provided insights into the way DNA could store information and be copied. A single molecule lay at the 
heart of heredity. Many scientists found it irresistible after this discovery to place the gene at the center of 
the life process, perhaps capable of life on its own. For example, Hermann J. Muller, the Nobel Prize-winning 
geneticist who discovered the effect of radiation in causing mutations, wrote in 1966, `The "stripped down" 
definition of a living thing offered here may be para phrased: that which possesses the potentiality of 
evolving by natural selection. ... The gene material also, of natural materials, possesses these faculties and 
it is therefore legitimate to call it living material, the present day representative of the first life.' [Muller, H.J., 
"The Gene Material as the Initiator and the Organizing Basis of Life," American Naturalist, Vol. 100, 1966, 
pp.493-517] Astronomer Carl Sagan, as a graduate student, had earlier speculated on the possibility of `a 
primitive freeliving naked gene situated in a dilute medium of organic matter.' [Sagan, C.E., "Radiation and 
the Origin of the Gene," Evolution, Vol. 11, 1957, pp.40-55] Evolution then represented the extension of 
the gene's ability to provide for its future. As Richard Dawkins argued in The Selfish Gene, the bodies of 
animals are `survival machines' for the genes within them. [Dawkins, R., "The Selfish Gene," Oxford 
University Press: New York, 1976]" (Shapiro, R., "Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life beyond 
Earth," John Wiley & Sons: New York NY, 1999, pp.98-99. Emphasis original) 

7/01/2007
"Looking for spiritual meaning within science is not a new idea. It was quite a popular intellectual activity in 
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the period from Newton to Darwin. One of the best examples was 
the previously mentioned Bridgewater Treatises of the 1830s. These works on natural theology were written 
by eminent scientists with the purpose of showing evidence of the creator from a study of his creation. This 
genre of literature had, at its core, a concept called the argument from design, which implies that we need 
only examine the world around us to see that it must be the result of a creative intelligence rather than blind 
chance. However, the early adherents of this viewpoint always carried their argument at least one step 
further than its original logic and formed a chain of reasoning that went as follows: The observed world-
implies: a creative intelligence-implies: a creator-implies: the Judeo-Christian God-implies: the established 
Church. Those scientists who rejected the second and third or fourth implications in the sequence threw out 
the entire chain of reasoning, thus abandoning the first step, the argument from design, without giving it the 
consideration it deserves." (Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," 
Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1987, pp.99-100)

7/01/2007
"In 1913, however, fitness and design were reexamined from a new scientific perspective. Distinguished 
Harvard professor of philosophy Lawrence J. Henderson wrote the profound and controversial book now 
sitting in front of me. Some sixty-four years had passed since Charles Darwin's Origin of Species had 
introduced the idea of `fitness' as the criterion of success in the struggle for survival. When new variations 
arose in the plant or animal world, they multiplied or perished depending on whether they were more or less 
adapted than the competition. Fitness was not an absolute concept but measured the relative survivals of 
different biological variants in a given habitat, under given conditions. Generations of evolutionists had 
already pointed out the somewhat circular nature of `survival of the fittest' as an argument for evolution, as 
we often lack criteria other than survival to measure fitness. Nevertheless, Darwin's ideas provided a 
unifying framework for biological thought, and by 1913 biology was thoroughly dominated by the theory of 
evolution. Simultaneously with the rise and triumph of Darwinian evolution, physiology developed as a 
sophisticated science, using the understanding of physics and chemistry to explain the mechanisms of 
biological activity at every level. Henderson is a leader in that tradition. Indeed, some of his work on 
biophysical chemistry is still referred to today. He took a fresh view of fitness in terms of the new knowledge 
of physical chemistry and the ascendance of the atomic theory. He examined the argument from design, not 
from a theological perspective but from deep within science, using the constructs of matter, energy, space, 
and time. He wrote: `But although Darwin's fitness involves that which fits and that which is fitted, or more 
correctly a reciprocal relationship, it has been the habit of biologists since Darwin to consider only the 
adaptations of the living organism to the environment. For them in fact, the environment, in its past, present, 
and future, has not been an independent variable, and it has not entered into any of the modern 
speculations to consider if by chance the material universe also may be subjected to laws which are in the 
largest sense important in organic evolution. Yet fitness there must be in environment as well as organism.' 
[Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 1958, 
pp.5-6]" (Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's 
Sons: New York NY, 1987, pp.100-101) 

7/01/2007
"With a suddenness which to many seemed catastrophic Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection changed 
the whole aspect of the problem. Law appeared as the basis of purpose just as it had appeared as the 
basis of order, and adaptations became, in the judgment of most men, the necessary results of an 
automatic process. To-day, after a half century, there is no longer room for doubt that the fitness of organic 
beings for their life in the world has been won in whole or in part by an almost infinite series of adaptations 
of life to its environment, whereby, through a corresponding series of transformations, present complexity 
has grown out of former simplicity. The great and fruitful ideas which Darwin brought to the attention of the 
whole world have long since been incorporated into human thought. Not the least important among them is 
the new scientific concept of fitness, as it emerges from the discussion of natural selection. Before Darwin, 
this concept possessed all the vagueness of an idea which, though in part founded on observation, was not 
to be explained with the help of existing scientific theories. But although Darwin's fitness involves that 
which fits and that which is fitted, or more correctly a reciprocal relationship, it has been the habit of 
biologists since Darwin to consider only the adaptations of the living organism to the environment. For 
them, in fact, the environment, in its past, present, and future, has been an independent variable, and it has 
not entered into any of the modern speculations to consider if by chance the material universe also may be 
subjected to laws which are in the largest sense important in organic evolution. Yet fitness there must be, in 
environment as well as in the organism. How, for example, could man adapt his civilization to water power if 
no water power existed within his reach?" (Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry 
into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 
1958, pp.4-5. Emphasis original) 

7/01/2007
"With new knowledge emerging in biology, physicotheology expanded into natural theology. In 1802, 
William Paley, Archdeacon of Carlisle, authored a book on that subject. My reading was in the 1829 
American edition of that book. Its title page bears the full message: NATURAL THEOLOGY or Evidence of 
the Existence and Attributes of the DEITY Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Paley begins with the 
thought "Suppose I found a watch on the ground." He argues that the watch, because it is so admirably 
designed for a purpose, must have had a maker. In his words: `The inference, we think, is inevitable; that the 
watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an 
artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended 
its construction, and designed its use. There cannot be design without a designer.' This line of reasoning 
has become known, using Paley's words, as the argument from design. After presenting the argument in 
exhausting detail Paley goes on to document the design of mechanical parts of organisms, the human frame, 
muscles, blood vessels, special structures, the relation of organisms to environment, insects, plants, the 
physical world, and the solar system. The argument from design goes back to Aristotle's unmoved mover 
but required the scientific advances of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to come to its full fruition." 
(Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's Sons: New 
York NY, 1987, pp.293-294. Emphasis original)

7/01/2007
"Clearly no one can doubt that upon the properties of matter as determined by the periodic system, and 
upon the relative amounts of the different elements, the actual process of cosmic evolution from nebula to 
solar system is dependent. Hence, in accordance with the general method of science, we must assume that 
the origin of environmental fitness lies at least as far back as the phenomena of the periodic system, at least 
as far back as the evolution of the elements, if they were ever evolved." (Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of 
the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon 
Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 1958, pp.303-304)

7/01/2007
"If, then, cosmic evolution be pure mechanism and yet issue in fitness, why not organic evolution as well? 
Mechanism is enough in physical science, which no less than biological science appears to manifest 
teleology; it must therefore suffice in biology. ... What then becomes of fitness ? Clearly there are two 
logical possibilities. Either there exists an unknown mechanistic explanation of that common issue of the 
organic and cosmic evolutionary processes, or there does not. If such an explanation be possible, at least it 
must be admitted that it is very hard to conceive. ... On the other hand, it is conceivable that a tendency 
could work parallel with mechanism without interfering with it ... Although I have no intention of here 
seeking a choice between these two hypotheses ... I do feel concerned to remove from the latter view, if I 
may, some of the objections which are commonly raised against it in scientific circles ... It is evident that a 
perfect mechanistic description of the building of a house may be conceived. Within the world of physical 
science the whole process is logically complete without consideration of the architect's design and purpose. 
Yet such design and purpose, whether or not in themselves of mechanistic origin, are at one and the same 
time determining factors in the result, and nowise components of the physical process. Now it seems clear 
that a similar effect of a tendency working steadily through the whole process of evolution is also at least 
conceiveable ..." (Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological 
Significance of the Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 1958, pp.305-307) 

7/01/2007
"Whatever else it may achieve, mechanism can never explain, cannot even face the problem of the existence 
of matter and energy. Within the world of science these are conserved; only outside that world can they 
have originated or not originated. As for the existence of life, in spite of our utter ignorance, it must be 
admitted that a half century has greatly diminished the number of substantial biologists who really look 
forward to its scientific explanation, and the greatest chemists have ever shared such a view. Liebig is 
reported by Lord Kelvin to have replied to the question whether he believed that a leaf or a flower could be 
formed or could grow by chemical forces, `I would more readily believe that a book on chemistry or on 
botany could grow out of dead matter.' [Kelvin, Lord.,  "On the Dissipation of Energy," Popular Lectures, Vol. 
III, p. 464] Darwin, too, once said, "It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as 
well think of the origin of matter." [Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic 
Books: New York NY, Vol. II., Reprinted, 1959, p.203] Since Liebig's day the chemical organization of the 
cell has become in scientific knowledge vastly more complex than it was before, and I know of no biological 
chemist to whom the spontaneous, that is to say, the mechanistic, origin of a cell is scientifically imaginable, 
1 though all believe that once formed, cells exist as mechanisms in a mechanistic universe. Thus the chemist 
puts his mind at rest regarding the existence of life, just as the physicist calms his regarding the existence of 
matter, simply by turning his back on the problem." (Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment: An 
Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, 
Reprinted, 1958, pp.308-309)

7/01/2007
"I cannot hope to have provided more than a very imperfect illumination of certain aspects of teleology in 
this venture upon the foreign field of metaphysics, and I should wish to be understood as very doubtful of 
my success in stating what seem to me some of the philosophical conclusions to be drawn from the fitness 
of the environment. There is, however, one scientific conclusion which I wish to put forward as a positive 
and, I trust, fruitful outcome of the present investigation. The properties of matter and the course of cosmic 
evolution are now seen to be intimately related to the structure of the living being and to its activities; they 
become, therefore, far more important in biology than has been previously suspected. For the whole 
evolutionary process, both cosmic and organic, is one, and the biologist may now rightly regard the 
universe in its very essence as biocentric. (Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry 
into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 
1958, pp.312) 

7/01/2007
"In the early 1900s, Lawrence J. Henderson revived the argument from design within his perceptive work 
The Fitness of the Environment. He did not actually talk about design; rather, he noted: `There is, 
however, one scientific conclusion which I wish to put forward as a positive and, I trust, fruitful outcome of 
the present investigation. The properties of matter and the course of cosmic evolution are now seen to be 
intimately related to the structure of the living being and to its activities; they become, therefore, far more 
important in biology than has been previously suspected. For the whole evolutionary process, both cosmic 
and organic, is one, and the biologist may now rightly regard the universe in its very essence as biocentric.' 
[Henderson, L.J., "The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the 
Properties of Matter," [1913], Beacon Press: Boston MA, Reprinted, 1958, p.312] ... In any case, design was 
back in the arena and periodically appeared in the writings of aging scientists, who, freed from the idylls of 
the marketplace, could state their philosophical views without fear of peer pressure." (Morowitz, H.J., 
"Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1987, 
p.295)

7/01/2007
"In 1979 Freeman Dyson attacked head-on a reexamination of design in light of the science of our time. His 
brief essay on theology occurs within a book appropriately titled Disturbing the Universe. Dyson is a 
prominent physicist and astrophysicist, and I think it came as a surprise to the scientific community when 
his book contained a chapter entitled `The Argument from Design.' He points out that many of the pre-
Darwinian discussions of design focused on the biological world and the functional perfection of living 
structures. ... This path eventually led to the already discussed philosophical excesses of Jacques Monod's 
Chance and Necessity. Dyson takes on Monod ... `Jacques Monod has a word for people who think as I 
do and for whom he reserves his deepest scorn. He calls us `animists,' believers in spirits. `Animism,' he 
says, `established a covenant between nature and man, a profound alliance outside of which seems to 
stretch only terrifying solitude. Must we break this tie because the postulate of objectivity requires it?' 
[Monod, J., "Chance and Necessity," [1971], Penguin: London, Reprinted, 1997, p.31] Monod answers yes: 
'This ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, 
out of which he emerged only by chance.' [Monod, Ibid, p.31] I answer no. I believe in the covenant. It is 
true that we emerged in the universe by chance, but the idea of chance is itself only a cover for our 
ignorance. I do not feel like an alien in this universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details 
of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were 
coming.' [Dyson, F.J., "Disturbing the Universe," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1979, pp.249-250]" 
(Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's Sons: New 
York NY, 1987, pp.296-297)

7/01/2007
"Dyson points to the role of mind in the domain of physics. He notes that there is just the right balance 
between the attractiveness of nuclear forces and the repulsion of the like charges of nucleons. If the 
repulsive forces were larger, nuclei could not exist. If the attractive forces were greater, all the protons of the 
universe would have been tied up in diprotons and all the hydrogen reactions that fuel the nuclear 
chemistry of the universe could not have taken place. The actual fusion reactions of hydrogen in the sun 
depend on what physicists call the weak interaction. It controls the rate of fusion: much stronger and the 
stars would burn up too fast, much slower and they would be too cold. [Dyson, F.J., "Disturbing the 
Universe," Harper & Row: New York NY, 1979, p.250] Dyson goes on to point out that organic chemistry 
(and by extension biochemistry) depends on a delicate balance between electrical and quantum mechanical 
forces that come about because of the exclusion principle. [Dyson, Ibid., p.251] The thrust of Dyson's 
approach is very much in the mode of Henderson's, except that he adds mind, the immanent mind quality of 
the universe, as a further feature of design." [Dyson, Ibid., pp.251-252] (Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and 
Local Pain: Musings of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1987, pp.296-297. 
Emphasis original) 

7/01/2007
"In the preceding chapters we, too, have looked at the workings of the biological and geological universes 
and have been impressed with how well the microscopic and macroscopic aspects come together. Like 
Dyson and Henderson and Teilhard, I find it hard not to see design in a universe that works so well. Each 
new scientific discovery seems to reinforce that vision of design. As I like to say to my friends, the universe 
works much better than we have any right to expect. (Morowitz, H.J., "Cosmic Joy and Local Pain: Musings 
of a Mystic Scientist," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1987, pp.297-298

8/01/2007
"Beginnings of life ... The first and perhaps the easiest stage was the change from inorganic to organic - 
from the gases which presumably surrounded Earth at that time (hydrogen, ammonia, methane, etc.) to the 
simplest amino acids, containing about ten atoms, which are the most basic of the biochemical universals. 
Experimentally, Stanley Miller in the United States showed in 1953 that by passing an electrical discharge 
(in real life, perhaps a bolt of lightning) through the appropriate gases, quite surprisingly large amounts of 
amino acids were formed. The experiments are acknowledged as a major breakthrough in our understanding 
of how life got under way, and since then other essential chemicals have been synthesized. Today, five of 
the twenty amino acids common to us all still resist attempts to create them artificially under anything like 
plausible conditions, and critics have pointed to the 'oxygen-ultraviolet conundrum' that is still not resolved 
... A summary paper in Nature concluded bleakly that the chances of finding significant concentrations of 
organic chemicals in any prebiotic 'soups' so far imagined were vanishingly small: 'The physical chemist, 
guided by the proved principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, cannot offer any encouragement 
to the biochemist who needs an ocean full of organic compounds.' [Hull, D.E., "Thermodynamics and 
Kinetics of Spontaneous Generation," Nature, Vol. 186, May 28, 1960, pp.693-694, p.694]" (Hitching, 
F., "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, pp.63-64. Emphasis 
original).

8/01/2007
"One slow afternoon in the late 1970s I was hanging out in my lab at the National Institutes of Health near 
Washington, D.C., where I worked as a postdoctoral researcher investigating aspects of DNA structure. A 
fellow postdoc, Joanne Nickol, and I were chewing the fat about the big questions: God, life, the 
universethat sort of thing. She and I were both Roman Catholics (Joanne's brother was a priest) and so had 
the same general attitude toward many topics. That included an easy acceptance of the idea of evolution, 
that life unfolded over a long time under the governance of secondary causes, natural laws. Unlike some 
Protestant friends of mine who seemed obsessed by it, we Catholics were always cool about evolution, 
because we knew that God could make life any way he wanted to, including indirectly. Who were we to tell 
him differently? The critical point was that God was the Creator of life, no matter how he went about it. The 
course of Joanne's and my conversation in the lab hit a little snag. Because we were taught biology well in 
parochial school, we both knew that the evidence for Darwinian evolution by natural selection was ultra 
strong. But when the topic turned to the origin of life she asked, `Well, what would you need to get the first 
cell?' `You'd need a membrane for sure,' said I. `And metabolism.' `Can't do without a genetic code,' said she, 
`and proteins.' At that point we stopped, looked at each other and, in unison, hollered `Naaaahh!' Then we 
laughed and went back to work. From a distance of years I notice three things about my conversation with 
Joanne (who died about a decade ago). The first is that the notion, widely accepted among scientists, that 
undirected physical laws started life, struck both of us-both well-trained young scientists who would be 
happy to accept it-as preposterous because of the many complicated preconditions necessary just to get 
things underway. Second, we apparently hadn't given it much thought before then. And third, we both just 
shrugged it off and went back to work. I suppose we were thinking that even if we didn't know how life 
started by natural processes, surely somebody must know. Or that somebody would figure it out before 
long. Or eventually. Or that it wasn't important. Or something." (Behe, M.J.*, "From Muttering to Mayhem: 
How Phillip Johnson Got Me Moving," in Dembski, W.A., ed., "Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson and the 
Intelligent Design Movement," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 2000, pp.40-41) 

9/01/2007
"If Hodge's and Patton's endorsement of evolution was ultimately tentative, B.B. Warfield was decidedly 
more partisan. By his own admission a `Darwinian of the purest water' [Warfield, B.B., "Personal Reflections 
of Princeton Undergraduate Life," The Princeton Alumni Weekly, 6 April 1916, pp. 650-53] .... It goes 
without saying that Warfield's endorsement of Darwin was not unqualified, however. He held that any 
scientific theory that in principle subverted providence or occasional supernatural interference must 
ultimately prove unacceptable. But within those limits, Warfield, in pointed contrast to both of the Hodges, 
said he would `raise no question as to the compatibility of the Darwinian form of the hypothesis of 
evolution with Christianity.' [Warfield, B.B., `Charles Darwin's Religious Life: A Sketch in Spiritual 
Biography,' in Studies in Theology Oxford University Press: New York, 1932, p.548] The context of this 
particular ratification of Darwin's theory is itself important, for it shows Warfield's capacity to distinguish 
central issues from peripheral issues. He made the statement in an article entitled `Charles Darwin's Religious 
Life,' in which he reviewed the three-volume Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. As the subtitle `A Sketch 
in Spiritual Biography' suggests, Warfield focused on what has come to be known as Darwin's `affective 
decline'-that is, his increasing distaste for art, music, literature, and religion. Warfield certainly lamented the 
spiritually disruptive effects of the theory of evolution on its chief advocate, and he expressed his 
annoyance at Darwin's absolutist claims for his natural selection mechanism. But this must not be allowed to 
conceal the fact that Warfield remained enthusiastic about the theory as a natural law operating under the 
control of Providence an interpretation supported in various ways, he noted, by such scientists as 
Carpenter, Dallinger, and Gray. Warfield held that Darwin's aesthetic atrophy and spiritual disaffection could 
be traced on the one hand to an inability to conceive of God as immanent in the universe (which resulted in 
a misapprehension of the doctrine of Providence) and on the other hand to an unsophisticated 
understanding of teleology. It was Warfield's concern, therefore, to articulate a theological defense of divine 
design and providential government of the world in evolutionary terms." (Livingstone, D.N.*, "Darwin's 
Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between Evangelical Theology and Evolutionary Thought," Eerdmans: 
Grand Rapids MI, 1987, pp.115-117) 

9/01/2007
"In the book of Genesis (43:33) we read of a lord of Egypt who entertained eleven men who were brothers. 
The men, so the story goes, `marvelled one with another' when they found themselves seated at table in the 
exact order of their ages. Let us seek to face the question: why was it that they marvelled? For answer we 
can only say that such an event seemed to contradict one of the basic ideas entailed in `common sense.' The 
men had never heard of the laws of probability, of entropy, or of the second law of thermodynamics, but 
they rightly suspected that the long arm of coincidence would hardly have arranged them in just that way. 
Somehow, they guessed that intelligence was at work, though to all appearances this could hardly have 
been the case. In the end, so it would seem, they decided to trust to appearances instead of intuition. 
Nevertheless, they soon learned that their intuition had not deceived them. The idea, in short, is simply this. 
Order does not arise of its own accord; it does not come out of nothing, and we must not explain it away by 
chance. On the other hand order is easily lost spontaneously." (Clark, R.E.D.*, "Darwin: Before & After: An 
Examination and Assessment," [1948], Paternoster: London, Reprint, 1966, pp.148-149)

10/01/2007
"False Negatives and False Positives ... All criteria, and not just medical tests, face the problem of false 
positives and false negatives. ... When the medical test classifies an individual who doesn't have the disease 
with those who do, it commits a false positive. When the medical test classifies an individual who does have 
the disease with those who do not, it commits a false negative. Let us now apply these observations to the 
complexity-specification criterion. This criterion purports to detect design. Is it a reliable criterion? The 
target group for this criterion comprises all things intelligently caused. How accurate is this criterion at 
correctly assigning things to this target group and correctly omitting things from it? The things we are 
trying to explain have causal stories. In some of those causal stories intelligent causation is indispensable, 
whereas in others it is dispensable. An inkblot can be explained without appealing to intelligent causation; 
ink arranged to form meaningful text cannot. When the complexity-specification criterion assigns something 
to the target group, can we be confident that it actually is intelligently caused? If not, we have a problem 
with false positives. On the other hand, when this criterion fails to assign something to the target group, can 
we be confident that no intelligent cause underlies it? If not, we have a problem with false negatives. 
Consider first the problem of false negatives. When the complexityspecification criterion fails to detect 
design in a thing, can we be sure no intelligent cause underlies it? The answer is no. For determining that 
something is not designed, this criterion is not reliable. False negatives are a problem for it. This problem of 
false negatives, however, is endemic to detecting intelligent causes. One difficulty is that intelligent causes 
can mimic necessity and chance, thereby rendering their actions indistinguishable from such unintelligent 
causes. A bottle of ink may fall off a cupboard and spill onto a sheet of paper. Alternatively a human agent 
may deliberately take a bottle of ink and pour it over a sheet of paper. The resulting inkblot may look 
identical in both instances, but the one case results by chance, the other by design. Another difficulty is 
that detecting intelligent causes requires background knowledge on our part. It takes an intelligent cause to 
know an intelligent cause. But if we don't know enough, we'll miss it. ... The problem of false negatives 
therefore arises either when an intelligent agent has acted (whether consciously or unconsciously) to 
conceal one's actions or when an intelligent agent in trying to detect design has insufficient background 
knowledge to determine whether design actually is present. ... Intelligent causes can do things that 
unintelligent causes cannot and can make their actions evident. When for whatever reason an intelligent 
cause fails to make its actions evident, we may miss it. But when an intelligent cause succeeds in making its 
actions evident, we take notice. This is why false negatives do not invalidate the complexity-specification 
criterion. This criterion is fully capable of detecting intelligent causes intent on making their presence 
evident. Masters of stealth intent on concealing their actions may successfully evade the criterion. But 
masters of self-promotion intent on making sure their intellectual property gets properly attributed find in 
the complexity-specification criterion a ready friend. This brings us to the problem of false positives. Even 
though specified complexity is not a reliable criterion for eliminating design, it is, I shall argue, a reliable 
criterion for detecting design. The complexity-specification criterion is a net. Things that are designed will 
occasionally slip past the net. We would prefer that the net catch more than it does, omitting nothing due to 
design. But given the ability of design to mimic unintelligent causes and the possibility of our own 
ignorance passing over things that are designed, this problem cannot be fixed. Nevertheless we want to be 
very sure that whatever the net does catch includes only what we intend it to catch-things that are 
designed. Only things that are designed had better end up in the net. If this is the case, we can have 
confidence that whatever the complexity-specification criterion attributes to design is indeed designed. On 
the other hand, if things end up in the net that are not designed, the criterion will be worthless." (Dembski 
W.A., "Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove 
IL, 1999, pp.139-141. Emphasis original) 

10/01/2007
"The Explanatory Filter is a criterion for deciding when something is intelligently caused and when it isn't. 
Does it decide this question reliably? As with any criterion, we need to make sure that whatever judgments 
the criterion renders correspond to reality. ... Any medical test is a criterion. A perfectly reliable medical test 
would detect the presence of a disease whenever it is indeed present, and fail to detect the disease 
whenever it is absent. Unfortunately, no medical test is perfectly reliable, and so the best we can do is keep 
the proportion of false positives and false negatives as low as possible. All criteria, and not just medical 
tests, face the problem of false positives and false negatives. ... A medical test checks whether an individual 
has a certain disease. The target group comprises all those individuals who actually have the disease. When 
the medical test classifies an individual who doesn't have the disease with those who do, it commits a false 
positive. When the medical test classifies an individual who does have the disease with those who do not, it 
commits a false negative. When the Explanatory Filter fails to detect design in a thing, can we be sure no 
intelligent cause underlies it? The answer to this question is No. For determining that something is not 
designed, the Explanatory Filter is not a reliable criterion. False negatives are a problem for the Explanatory 
Filter. This problem of false negatives, however, is endemic to detecting intelligent causes. One difficulty is 
that intelligent causes can mimic law and chance, thereby rendering their actions indistinguishable from 
these unintelligent causes. It takes an intelligent cause to know an intelligent cause, but if we don't know 
enough, we'll miss it. Intelligent causes can do things that unintelligent causes cannot, and can make their 
actions evident. When for whatever reason an intelligent cause fails to make its actions evident, we may 
miss it. But when an intelligent cause succeeds in making its actions evident, we take notice. This is why 
false negatives do not invalidate the Explanatory Filter. The Explanatory Filter is fully capable of detecting 
intelligent causes intent on making their presence evident. And this brings us to the problem of false 
positives. Even though the Explanatory Filter is not a reliable criterion for eliminating design, it is, I argue, a 
reliable criterion for detecting design. The Explanatory Filter is a net. Things that are designed will 
occasionally slip past the net. We would prefer that the net catch more than it does, omitting nothing due to 
design. But given the ability of design to mimic unintelligent causes and the possibility of our own 
ignorance passing over things that are designed, this problem cannot be fixed. Nevertheless, we want to be 
very sure that whatever the net does catch includes only what we intend it to catch, to wit, things that are 
designed. I argue that the explanatory filter is a reliable criterion for detecting design. Alternatively, I argue 
that the Explanatory Filter successfully avoids false positives. Thus whenever the Explanatory Filter 
attributes design, it does so correctly." (Dembski W.A., "The Explanatory Filter: A three-part filter for 
understanding how to separate and identify cause from intelligent design," An excerpt from a paper 
presented at the 1996 Mere Creation conference, [Biola University, Los Angeles, November 14-17, 1996] 
originally titled "Redesigning Science.") 

10/01/2007
How likely was it, given a soup of one sort or another that a system arose spontaneously which could 
evolve by natural selection? Here we face formidable problems. What ever happened during those early 
times, we can be sure that the primitive system had eventually to evolve fairly smoothly into the present 
one, based on nucleic acid for replication an protein synthesis for action. We cannot be sure that the earliest 
evolving system was not embodied in something quite different, which set the stage for the present one. 
Even if this was not the case, and the first replicating system contained some elements of the one we have 
today, we have no evidence whether nucleic acid came first, or protein came first, or whether both evolved 
together. My own prejudice is that nucleic acid (probably RNA) came first, closely followed by a simple form 
of protein synthesis. This seems to me the easiest route to follow, but even this appears fraught with 
difficulties. Phosphate was probably common and the sugar ribose (which contains no nitrogen) could have 
easily been made under certain special conditions, because formaldehyde (HCHO) is known to be one of the 
most common prebiotic chemicals. However, a rather different set of conditions would have been required 
for the synthesis of the bases, such as adenine, which do contain nitrogen. Then there is the problem of 
linking the sugar to both the phosphate and the base in the correct way (and several incorrect ways are 
possible) and then activating this compound (called a nucleotide), possibly by joining on a further 
phosphate or two to provide the energy needed to link two nucleotides together. This operation, if repeated, 
would lead to the chain molecule we call RNA. It is not easy to see how this could happen in a mixture of 
other, rather similar compounds without the frequent incorporation of incorrect molecules in the chain 
unless there were some rather specific catalyst present. This conceivably could be a mineral or even some 
peptide produced by the random aggregation of amino acids, but if so this has not been demonstrated in a 
convincing way. Even if such a process did occur, if only in one particular pool at one particular time, it 
would only yield RNA with a rather random base-sequence." (Crick, F.H.C., "Life Itself: Its Origin and 
Nature," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1981, pp.80-81) 

10/01/2007
"Protein Production as an Improbability Problem The problem of assembling the amino acid building 
blocks into functional protein can also be illustrated using probability and statistics. To simplify the 
problem, one may assume the probability of getting an L-amino acid (versus a D-amino acid) to be 50 
percent and the probability of joining two such amino acids with a peptide bond to also be 50 percent. The 
probability of getting the right amino acid in a particular position may be assumed to be 5 percent, assuming 
equal concentration of all twenty amino acids in the prebiotic soup The first two assumptions are realistic, 
while the third would be too low for some amino acids and too high for others. Neglecting the problem of 
reactions with non-amino acid chemical species, the probability of getting everything right in placing one 
amino acid would be 0.5 x 0.5 x .05 = .0125. The probability of properly assembling N such amino acids 
would be .0125 x .0125 x ... continued for N terms of .0125. If a functional protein had one hundred active 
sites, the probability of getting a proper assembly would be .0125 multiplied times itself one hundred times, 
or 4.9 x 10-191. Such improbabilities have led essentially all scientists who work in the field to reject 
random, accidental assembly or fortuitous good luck as an explanation for how life began. If we assume that 
all carbon on earth exists in the form of amino acids and that the amino acids are allowed to chemically react 
at the maximum possible rate of 1012/s for one billion years (the greatest possible time between the cooling 
of the earth and the appearance of life), we must still conclude that it is incredibly improbable (~10-65) that 
even one functional protein would be made, as H. P. Yockey has pointed out.46 [Yockey, "A Calculation of 
the Probability of Spontaneous Biogenesis by Information Theory," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 
67, 1981, p. 377] D. Kenyon and G. Steinman and Sir Fredrick Hoyle come to similar conclusions, with the 
latter commenting, "The current scenario of the origin of life is about as likely as the assemblage of a 747 by 
a tornado whirling through a junkyard." [Hoyle F., "The Intelligent Universe," Michael Joseph: London, 
1983, p.19] (Bradley, W.L*. & Thaxton, C.B.*, "Information & the Origin of Life," in Moreland, J.P., ed., "The 
Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 
1994, pp.190-191) 

10/01/2007
"Two of his reasons involve the origin of life-the calculated time since the origin of the Universe of 10,000 
million years or so is not enough to account for the evolution of living forms, while adiabatic expansion of 
the Universe would have been inimical to the evolution of highly ordered forms. ... The essence of his 
argument last week was that the information content of the higher forms of life is represented by the number 
1040 000 - representing the specificity with which some 2,000 genes, each of which might be chosen from 
1020 nucleotide sequences of the appropriate length, might be defined. Evolutionary processes would, 
Hoyle said, require several Hubble times to yield such a result. The chance that higher life forms might have 
emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that `a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might 
assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein'. ... Of adherents of biological evolution, Hoyle said he was 
at a loss to understand `biologists' widespread compulsion to deny what seems to me to be obvious'." 
(Hoyle, F., in "Hoyle on evolution," Nature, Vol. 294, 12 November 1981, p.105).

10/01/2007
"We are now ready to handle the chances for the spontaneous generation of a bacterium. ... Many scientists 
have attempted such calculations; we need cite only two of them to make the point. The first was provided 
by Sir Fred Hoyle, whose ideas we shall discuss in detail later in the book. He and his colleague, N. C. 
Wickramasinghe, first endorsed spontaneous generation, then abruptly reversed their position. Why did 
they do this? Quite obviously, they calculated the odds. Rather than estimate the chances for an entire 
bacterium, they considered only the set of functioning enzymes present in one. Their starting point was not 
a complex mixture, but rather the set of twenty L-form amino acids that are used to construct biological 
enzymes. If amino acids were selected at random from this set one at a time and arranged in order, what 
would be the chances that this process would produce an actual bacterial product? For a typical enzyme of 
200 amino acids, the odds would be obtained by multiplying the probability for each amino acid, 1 in 20, 
together 200 times. The result, 1 in 10120, places us on floor 120 of the Tower of Numbers, immensely 
higher than the level where we find the number of trials. Things need not be that bad, however. What 
matters is the function of the enzyme, rather than the exact order of amino acids within it. A large number of 
amino acid sequences might provide enzymes with the proper function. With this in mind, Hoyle and 
Wickramasinghe estimated that the chances of obtaining an enzyme of the appropriate type at random were 
`only' 1 in 1020. To duplicate a bacterium, however, one would have to assemble 2,000 different functioning 
enzymes. The odds against this event would be 1 in 1020 multiplied together 2,000 times, or 1 in 1040,000. 
This particular item would then be available on floor 40,000 of the Tower of Numbers. If we consider that the 
number of trials brought us only to the fifty-first floor, we can understand why Hoyle changed his mind. His 
estimate of the likelihood of the event was that it was comparable to the chance that `a tornado sweeping 
through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.' [Hoyle, F., in "Hoyle on 
evolution," Nature, Vol. 294, 12 November 1981, p.105] In fact, things are much worse. A tidy set of 
twenty amino acids, all in the L-form, was not likely to be available on the early earth. This situation has not 
even been approached by the very best Miller-Urey experiments. Nor does a set of enzymes constitute a 
living bacterium." (Shapiro, R., "Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," Summit Books: 
New York NY, 1986, pp.125,127-128) 

11/01/2007
"In general, the [Neo-Darwinian modern] synthesis has ignored speciation when it has confronted the 
larger-scale phenomena of macroevolution, preferring to see such patterns as trends, adaptive radiations, 
and the like as merely a wholesale accumulation of conventional Darwinian adaptive change (see Eldredge 
and Cracraft 1980 for a more extensive discussion of such macroevolutionary theory). What we have, then, 
are two ships passing in the night. The hold of one is crammed with phenomena either ignored (ecology, 
developmental biology) or only vaguely addressed (species, monophyletic groups, the molecular anatomy 
of the gene), while the other ship bears an explanatory theory only alleged to be relevant to such 
phenomena. In the popular parlance of contemporary philosophy of science (as seen at least by some 
scientists), such a situation renders much of evolutionary theory untestable. There is simply no way to 
evaluate a statement about fossils that is written in the language of genetics." (Eldredge, N., "Unfinished 
Synthesis: Biological Hierarchies and Modern Evolutionary Thought," Oxford University Press: New York NY, 
1985, p.120. Emphasis original) 


11/01/2007
"The major classes of biomolecules have identical functions in all species of cells. The nucleic acids serve 
universally to store and transmit genetic information. In all cells the proteins are the direct products and 
effectors of gene action. Some have specific catalytic activity and function as enzymes; others serve as 
structural elements. Proteins are the most versatile class of macromolecules .... The polysaccharides have 
two major functions in all cells. Some, e.g., starch, serve as storage forms of energy-yielding fuel for cell 
activity, and others, e.g., cellulose, serve as extracellular structural elements. The lipids in turn also play the 
same roles in all cells, either as major structural components of membranes or as a storage form of energy-
rich fuel. One other point requires comment. There is an important and fundamental difference between the 
nucleic acids and proteins on the one hand and the polysaccharides and lipids on the other .... Nucleic acids 
and proteins are informational macromolecules. Each nucleic acid molecule contains four or more types of 
nucleotides arranged in a specific information-rich sequence. Similarly, each protein molecule contains a 
specific information-rich sequence of some 20 different amino acids. On the other hand, the polysaccharides 
and lipids do not have an information-carrying function. For example, the recurring building blocks of 
polysaccharides either are all identical, as in starch, a polymer of glucose, or they consist of regularly 
alternating building-block components." (Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell 
Structure and Function," [1970], Worth Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, 
p.20. Emphasis original) 

11/01/2007
"Since peptide bonds are thermodynamically unstable in aqueous solutions, once a primitive proteinoid 
arose, it would be highly susceptible to hydrolytic breakdown in the warm primordial sea. Thus no single 
proteinoid molecule could be expected to survive for long. This fact raises a fundamental problem. It is 
difficult to see how any given proteinoid could have undergone residue-by-residue evolutionary 
improvement to an amino acid sequence better able to survive if each proteinoid molecule lasted but a short 
period and if there were no means of recording or replicating the amino acid sequence of the `better' 
proteinoids." (Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function," [1970], 
Worth Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, p.1041)

11/01/2007
"Attractive as these ideas might at first appear, they are subject to some major questions. The most crucial 
one is the origin of the genetic code. Apart from the fact that all hydrophobic amino acids are coded by 
triplets whose second base is U, there is little evidence that the coding triplets (page 962) bear any steric or 
chemical relationship to the amino acids for which they code. Model-building experiments have simply not 
revealed a satisfactory picture of the molecular correspondence between amino acids and their codons. For 
this reason it has been proposed that the genetic code is the result of a `frozen accident.' It is this step in 
the molecular evolution of the genetic system for which there is yet no satisfactory model or theory. Indeed, 
Crick and Orgel have pointed out that it is not beyond reasonable possibility that genes and the genetic 
code may have been brought to earth by spaceship from some other body in the universe where intelligent 
life had already evolved. This is a throwback to the old hypothesis of `Panspermia,' postulated at the turn 
of the twentieth century by the Swedish chemist S. Arrhenius, who proposed that life began on earth from 
seeds or sperm wafted from the outer reaches of the universe by celestial winds. Of course this idea is no 
answer to the problem, since one must then explain how life arose elsewhere."
(Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function," [1970], Worth 
Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, pp.1052)

11/01/2007
"But the most striking of all the interlinked events which have led to the incredibly complex biological 
organisms we know today still remains at the divide where chemical evolution ends and biological 
evolution begins. Why and under what conditions does an ensemble of organic compounds become a 
self-organizing self-replicating system? The laws of chemistry and physics we know today do not 
forbid self-organization of matter; however, they provide no easy explanation for it. Our greatest task is 
to formulate in precise terms the molecular logic of self-organizing and self-replicating systems of 
organic compounds." (Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and 
Function," [1970], Worth Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, p.1054. 
Emphasis original)

11/01/2007
"Primitive cell-like structures may have formed by the process of coacervation or by micelle formation driven 
by hydrophobic interactions, the tendency of the surrounding water molecules to seek the position of 
maximum entropy. A. I. Oparin has postulated the formation of coacervate droplets composed of polymers, 
into which primitive catalysts may have been incorporated. More recently S. W. Fox has described 
proteinoid microspheres, which exhibit many aspects of cell-like behavior. Such structures were visualized 
as developing in the absence of nucleic acids, which may have been acquired later. The other general 
hypothesis is that a primitive gene was required before proteins were added, an idea supported by the 
structure of modern viruses, the general importance of nucleotides in modern biochemistry, and the capacity 
for self-replication. In either case, some means for recording or coding and thus self-replication was 
required, as well as the capacity for further evolution. Development of the genetic code may have been the 
basic event in the origin of life. At the center of the problem is the process of self-organization of matter."
(Lehninger, A.L., "Biochemistry: The Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function," [1970], Worth 
Publishers: New York NY, Second Edition, 1975, Sixth Printing, 1981, p.1055)

12/01/2007
"What if We Are Alone? The most common argument that I have seen advanced against the proposition that 
we are alone in the galaxy is that it is anti-Copernican, and, therefore, goes against five centuries of Western 
intellectual tradition. There are a number of retorts that can be made against this argument. First, ideas are not 
Copernican or anti-Copernican; they are right or wrong. Second, after so many impeccably Copernican books 
have been written showing that we must be very junior and unimportant members of the Galactic Club, it is time 
for someone to marshal the rather formidable arguments that can be made for the opposite viewpoint. For, as we 
have seen in this book, the evidence we have at present clearly favors the conclusion that we are alone. From the 
formation of the sun as a single G star to the evolution of the earth's atmosphere to the conditions of the earth's 
recent climate, everything points to the same conclusion-we are special. But we are living on an insignificant 
speck of rock going around an undistinguished star in a low-rent section of the galaxy. We are not the center of 
the universe. Maybe so, but we are special. But we share our biochemistry with millions of life forms, from 
flatworms on up. We are one member of a large family of animals using one particular variant of carbon chemistry 
known as DNA. Maybe so, but we are special. Why? Because on this particular bit of rock, circling this particular 
sun, all of the millions of factors happened to work themselves out so that the first fragile molecules had enough 
time to form complicated chains, and these chains were given just the right amount of protection to form simple 
living systems, and these living systems changed their environment in just the right way so as to narrowly 
escape twin catastrophes and put oxygen into the atmosphere. This in turn allowed life to emerge onto land, and 
since the planet's orbit was just right, the weather changed, forcing the apelike creatures on the African 
savannah to build tools, fashion shelters, and start to think about the world around them. Because only on this 
insignificant speck of rock have beings evolved who can look at the universe and ask the question, `Why?' If I 
were a religious man, I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that 
we are unique, and therefore special in God's sight. Instead I shall say that what we have learned shows that it 
matters a great deal what happens to us. We are not the snail darters of the galaxy-one more life form whose 
ultimate fate is of little moment in the grand scheme of things. If we succeed in destroying ourselves, it will be a 
tragedy not only for the human race but for the entire galaxy, which will have lost the fruit of a 15-billion-year 
experiment in the formation of sentient life." (Trefil, J.S., in Rood, R.T. & Trefil, J.S., "Are We Alone?: The 
Possibility of Extraterrestrial Civilizations," Charles Scribner's Sons: New York NY, 1981, pp.251-252. Emphasis 
original) 

12/01/2007
"You might imagine an uncharitable extraterrestrial observer looking down on our species over all that time-
with us excitedly chattering, `The Universe created for us! We're at the center! Everything pays homage to 
us!'-and concluding that our pretensions are amusing, our aspirations pathetic, that this must be the planet 
of the idiots." (Sagan, C.E., "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space," Random House: New 
York NY, 1994, p.17)

12/01/2007
"Australia's Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), based at the University of Western Sydney 
Macarthur campus in Campbelltown, is attempting to answer one of humanity's oldest, and most frustrating, 
questions. Are we alone in this vast universe? An answer either way will have enormous significance. If 
they discover other forms of intelligent life by detecting an artificial radio beacon, it could lend weight to the 
soul-destroying theory that there is nothing special about us. Ever since it first began thinking about such 
things, humanity has seen itself at the centre of all life. While scientific discoveries in the past few hundred 
years have given us a more humble outlook - we now know we occupy a small ball of rock in an anonymous, 
outer suburb of an average galaxy filled with hundreds of billions of stars mankind still regards itself as 
unique. If we are not alone, our egos may suffer a sizeable blow. And what if we are alone? For those with 
religious faith, man's special relationship with God will be firmly cemented. But for atheists, there may be the 
ultimate in that dull, aching sense of loneliness. Out of all the billions of stars and galaxies over all the 
billions of years since the universe began, this may be as good as it gets. Our existence is due to a lucky roll 
of the cosmic dice. And when we are gone, no one will ever know we were here." (Linnell, G., "Heaven Only 
Knows," The Bulletin, Vol. 117, July 6, 1999, p.33) 

13/01/2007
"To some people, such are the outrageous words of Jesus Christ: `I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.' [John 14:6] Many people consider it arrogant, narrow-
minded, and bigoted for Christians to contend that the only path to God must go through Jesus of Nazareth. 
In a day of religious pluralism and tolerance, this exclusivity claim is politically incorrect, a verbal slap in the 
face of other belief systems. Pluralist Rosemary Radford Ruether labeled it `absurd religious chauvinism,' 
[Hick, J. & Knitter, P.F., eds., "The Myth of Christian Uniqueness," SCM Press: London, 1987, p.141] ... 
Certainly an approach like the one expressed by Indian philosopher Swami Vivekenanda is much more 
acceptable today: `We [Hindus] accept all religions to be true,' he told the World Parliament of Religions in 
1893. The real sin, he said, is to call someone else a sinner.' [Copan, P., "True for You, But Not for Me," 
Bethany House: Minneapolis MN, 1998, p.34] That kind of open-mindedness and liberality fits well with our 
current culture of relativism, where no `fact' is considered universally true at all times, at all places, for all 
people, and in all cultures. Indeed, fully two- thirds of Americans now deny there's any such thing as truth. 
[Colson, C., "Introduction," in Zacharias, R., "Can Man Live Without God," Word: Nashville TN, 1994, p.ix] 
When I was an atheist, I bristled at assertions by Christians that they held a monopoly on the only correct 
approach to religion. 'Who do they think they are?' I'd grouse. `Who are they to judge everyone else? 
Where's the love of Jesus in that?' Charles Templeton called it `insufferable presumption' [Templeton, C., 
"Farewell to God," Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996, p.27] for the Bible to claim that besides Jesus there 
is `no other name under heaven ... by which we must be saved.' [Acts 4:12.] Templeton added: `Christians 
are a small minority in the world. Approximately four out of every five people on the face of the earth believe 
in gods other than the Christian God. The more than five billion people who live on earth revere or worship 
more than three hundred gods. If one includes the animist or tribal religions, the number rises to more than 
three thousand. Are we to believe that only Christians are right? ' [Templeton, Ibid., p.27. Emphasis 
added] Despite Templeton's woeful undercounting of the number of gods worshiped in the world, his point 
remains. The exclusivity claim of Jesus is among the biggest obstacles to spiritual seekers today. With a 
subject this volatile, I knew I needed to talk with an expert who has a crisp, analytical mind, a sound 
philosophical background, and extensive experience with a wide range of different world religions. Those 
criteria led me to a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, and the office of Ravi Zacharias, who was born and raised in 
India." (Strobel, L.P.*, "Objection #5: It's Offensive to Claim Jesus Is the Only Way to God," in "The Case for 
Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 
2000, pp.146-147) 

13/01/2007
"'Forgive me for being blunt,' I said in prefacing my question, `but isn't it grossly arrogant for Christians to 
claim Jesus is the one and only way to God? Why do Christians think they're justified in asserting that 
they're right and that everybody else in the world is wrong?' ... `Lee, I hear that question so much, especially 
in the East,' he said, his voice animated and his eyes looking sincere and concerned. `The first thing I do is 
try to deal with the misinformation that is inherent in it.' `Misinformation?' I asked. `Like what?' `First,' he 
said, `it's important to understand that Christianity is not the only religion that claims exclusivity. For 
instance, Muslims radically claim exclusivity-not just theologically, but also linguistically. Muslims believe 
that the sole, sufficient, and consummate miracle of Islam is the Koran. They say, however, it's only 
recognizable in Arabic, and that any translation desacralizes it. And it's not just a basic understanding of 
Arabic that's required, but a sophisticated knowledge of the language. `As for Buddhism, it was born when 
Gautama Buddha rejected two fundamental assertions of Hinduism-the ultimate authority of the Vedas, 
which are their scriptures, and the caste system. Hinduism itself is absolutely uncompromising on two or 
three issues: the law of karma, which is the law of moral cause and effect, so that every birth is a rebirth that 
makes recompense for the previous life; the authority of the Vedas; and reincarnation.' I interrupted. `But 
I've heard Hindus say quite nobly that Hinduism is a very tolerant faith,' I said, thinking of statements like 
the one made by Swami Vivekenanda near the beginning of this chapter. He smiled. `Whenever you hear 
that statement, don't take it at face value,' he said. `What it really means is that Hinduism allows you to 
practice your religion so long as it buys into their notion of truth, which is syncretistic,' he said. Syncretism 
is the attempt to blend together different or even opposing beliefs. `As for Sikhism,' he continued, `it came 
as a challenge to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Then there are the atheists-they reject the viewpoints of 
those who believe in God. And even Baha'ism, which claims to be a cosmic embrace of all religions, ends up 
excluding the exclusivists! Therefore, the statement that Christians are arrogant by claiming exclusivity 
ignores the reality that every other major religion does as well. So when people talk of arrogance, this cannot 
be a logical attack they are making.' I started to formulate my next question, but Zacharias anticipated where 
it was headed and jumped in to complete my sentence. `You believe that all truth-' I began. `Is, by definition, 
exclusive,' he said. `Yes, yes, I do. If truth does not exclude, then no assertion of a truth claim is being made; 
it's just an opinion that is being stated. Any time you make a truth claim, you mean something contrary to it 
is false. Truth excludes its opposite.' `There are those who deny that,' I observed. `Yes, but think about this: 
to deny the exclusive nature of truth is to make a truth claim, and is that person then not arrogant too? 
That's the boomerang effect that the condemner often doesn't pause to consider. The clear implications of 
Jesus saying he's the way, the truth, and the life are that, first, truth is absolute, and second, truth is 
knowable. His claim of exclusivity means categorically that anything that contradicts what he says is by 
definition false.'" (Strobel, L.P.*, "Objection #5: It's Offensive to Claim Jesus Is the Only Way to God," in 
"The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity," Zondervan: Grand 
Rapids MI, 2000, pp.148-151)

13/01/2007
"'It's one thing for Christians to believe that,' I said. `It's another thing to communicate it without sounding 
smug or superior. But Christians often come off that way.' Zacharias sighed. It was a charge he had heard all 
too often. `Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the 
truth repulsive,' he said. `Having been raised in India and having all Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikh 
friends growing up, I can appreciate some of their criticisms of Christians. Christianity's history has some 
explaining to do with its methodology. Violence, antagonism, and hostility are contrary to the love of Christ. 
One cannot communicate the love of Christ in non-loving terms. `In India we have a proverb that says once 
you cut off a person's nose, there's no point in giving him a rose to smell,' he continued. `And if a Christian's 
arrogance turns off somebody, that person won't be receptive to the Christian message. Mahatma Gandhi 
said, `I like their Christ, I don't like their Christians.' Friedrich Nietzshe said, `I will believe in the Redeemer 
when the Christian looks a little more redeemed.' Their points need to be taken. `However,' he added, `it is 
possible to lovingly claim exclusive truth, just as a scientist can very gently say, `This is the second law of 
thermodynamics' without adding, `Now, can we vote on how many of us can cooperate with it or not?' `So 
the criticism of Christians is often valid?' `Yes, sometimes we have run afoul of cultural sensitivities. At the 
same time, however, Eastern religions have a lot of soul-searching to do in this regard today. Clannish and 
political conflicts aside, I know of no Christianized country where your life is in danger because you are from 
another faith. But today there are many countries in the world-such as Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, and Iran-
where to become a follower of Christ is to put your life and your family at risk.' I had read enough newspaper 
accounts in recent years to know that was accurate, including in Zacharias' native land, where several 
Christians have been killed by militant Hindus in recent years. But sometimes it's not the manner in which 
the Christians try to spread their faith that's offensive. Sometimes people are simply reacting to the message 
itself. `Even the one whose life was most perfectly lived ended up on a cross,' Zacharias noted. `Resistance 
to truth can be so strong that it can still engender violence and hate even when the person has done 
absolutely nothing wrong.'" (Strobel, L.P.*, "Objection #5: It's Offensive to Claim Jesus Is the Only Way to 
God," in "The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity," 
Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 2000, pp.150-151)

13/01/2007
"Anyone can claim to be the only path to God. In fact, quite a few crackpots have made that assertion 
throughout history. The real issue is why anybody should believe Jesus was telling the truth when he said 
it. `On what basis do you believe this claim by Jesus is true?' I asked Zacharias. `Ah, yes, that is the heart of 
the question,' he replied, his head nodding. `On one hand, you can say that the resurrection of Jesus 
established him as being the son of God. If that's true, then all other faith systems cannot be true, because 
they each assert something contrary to his divinity. And of course, the historical record concerning the 
Resurrection is extremely compelling.' ... `Finally, destiny is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the 
historical event that proved his divinity and that opened the door to heaven for everyone who will follow 
him. Where else do you have anything that comes close to claiming this? ... Because the Resurrection is an 
actual historical event, we can be forgiven, we can be reconciled with God, we can spend eternity with him, 
and we can trust Jesus' teachings as being from God. ... That's why the apostle Peter said, `We did not 
follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but 
we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.' [2 Peter 1:16] `He's saying, `This is true. This is reality. This can be 
trusted.' And, yes, this truth excludes that which is contrary.'" (Strobel, L.P.*, "Objection #5: It's Offensive to 
Claim Jesus Is the Only Way to God," in "The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest 
Objections to Christianity," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 2000, pp.151-153) 

14/01/2007
"Automatic processes are themselves often creations of great brilliance. From today's vantage point, we can 
see that the inventors of the automatic transmission and the automatic door-opener were no idiots, and their 
genius lay in seeing how to create something that could do something `clever' without having to think about 
it. Indulging in some anachronism, we could say that, to some observers in Darwin's day, it seemed that he 
had left open the possibility that God did His handiwork by designing an automatic design-maker. And to 
some of these, the idea was not just a desperate stopgap but a positive improvement on tradition. The first 
chapter of Genesis describes the successive waves of Creation and ends each with the refrain `and God saw 
that it was good.' Darwin had discovered a way to eliminate this retail application of Intelligent Quality 
Control; natural selection would take care of that without further intervention from God. (The seventeenth-
century philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz had defended a similar hands-off vision of God the Creator.) 
As Henry Ward Beecher put it, `Design by wholesale is grander than design by retail' (Rachels 1991, p. 99 ). 
Asa Gray, captivated by Darwin's new idea but trying to reconcile it with as much of his traditional religious 
creed as possible, came up with this marriage of convenience: God intended the `stream of variations' and 
foresaw just how the laws of nature He had laid down would prune this stream over the eons. As John 
Dewey later aptly remarked, invoking yet another mercantile metaphor, `Gray held to what may be called 
design on the installment plan" (Dewey 1910, p. 12)." (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution 
and The Meanings of Life," [1995], Penguin: London, Reprinted, 1996, p.67) 

14/01/2007
"From a biblical standpoint, however, it is not only the events of salvation history that create difficulties for 
any compromise with naturalism. One is faced not simply with the details of the Genesis account but with 
New Testament passages that reflect the fundamental logic of Christianity. For example, the first chapter of 
Romans tells us that `the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of 
men, who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, 
because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his 
eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without 
excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became 
futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and 
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.' 
[Romans 1:18-23] That passage does not speak of a nature that merely raises questions that a naturalistic 
science cannot answer, but of a nature that points directly and unmistakably toward the necessity of a 
creator. And if nature does no more than raise questions, how can men be blamed for coming to the wrong 
conclusions about what to worship? If God stayed in that realm beyond the reach of scientific investigation, 
and allowed an apparently blind materialistic evolutionary process to do all the work of creation, then it 
would have to be said that God furnished us with a world of excuses for unbelief and idolatry." (Johnson, 
P.E.*, "Creator or Blind Watchmaker?" First Things, January 1993, p12) 

14/01/2007
"On the day after New Year's, as most of the world now knows, Wesley Autrey, a construction worker and a 
Navy veteran, was waiting for the train with his two daughters at the 137th Street Station in New York. Then, a 
man collapsed on the platform and began convulsing. After Autrey helped him get up, the man collapsed again 
and fell onto the tracks. With the lights of the Broadway Local visible down the tunnel, Autrey had to make what 
he later called a `split decision'-a decision that inspired a nation and taught us a powerful lesson about what it 
means to be human. Autrey jumped onto the tracks, risking his own life, to save the stricken stranger. After 
visiting the man in the hospital, Autrey, who denied that he had done anything `spectacular,' went to work. 
While Autrey didn't think that his actions were spectacular, other people did. At a time when most of the news is 
disheartening, Autrey's actions inspired millions of people. Americans have become jaundiced and skeptical. We 
need heroes every now and then, a role model-and that's what Autrey has become. Not only did he inspire us, 
but he also helps remind us of some important truths about being human. One of these is that materialism can 
never provide a satisfactory, much less complete, account of human nature. While neo-Darwinism offers a 
superficial explanation for human evil, it can't begin to account for human goodness, such as Autrey's actions. 
What we Christians call `altruism,' Neo-Darwinists call `enlightened' selfishness. Thus, a Neo-Darwinist would 
say that parents care for their children and siblings as a way of ensuring that their `selfish genes' get passed on 
to the next generation. Even if this were true, it says nothing about why a man jumps in front of an incoming train 
for a total stranger, as Autrey did. For that, you need the capacity for self-sacrifice, an utterly un-Darwinian 
trait." (Colson, C.*, "The Subway Hero: Extraordinary Ordinary Virtue,"  BreakPoint, November 1, 2007. Emphasis original)

15/01/2007
"Group Selection and Altruism Reporter: When you ran Finland onto the map of the world, did you feel 
you were doing it to bring fame to a nation unknown by others? Nurmi: No. I ran for myself, not for 
Finland. Reporter: Not even in the Olympics? Nurmi: Not even then. Above all, not then. At the 
Olympics, Paavo Nurmi mattered more than ever. Who does not feel at least a tinge of admiration for Paavo 
Nurmi, the ultimate individual selectionist? At the opposite extreme, we shared a different form of approval, 
warmer in tone but uneasily loose in texture, for the Apollo 11 astronauts who left their message on the 
moon, `We came in peace for all mankind.' This chapter is about natural selection at the levels of selection in 
between the individual and the species. Its pivot will be the question of altruism, the surrender of personal 
genetic fitness for the enhancement of personal genetic fitness in others." (Wilson, E.O., "Sociobiology: 
The Abridged Edition," [1975], The Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1980, p.50. Emphasis original)

15/01/2007
"Group Selection Selection can be said to operate at the group level, and deserves to be called group 
selection, when it affects two or more members of a lineage group as a unit. Just above the level of the 
individual we can delimit various of these lineage groups: a set of sibs, parents, and their offspring; a close-
knit tribe of families related by at least the degree of third cousin; and so on. If selection operates on any of 
the groups as a unit, or operates on an individual in any way that affects the frequency of genes shared by 
common descent in relatives, the process is referred to as kin selection. At a higher level, an entire 
breeding population may be the unit, so that populations (that is, demes) possessing different genotypes 
are extinguished differentially, or disseminate different numbers of colonists, in which case we speak of 
interdemic (or interpopulation) selection. ... Selection can also operate at the level of species or entire 
clusters of related species. ... It is even possible to conceive of the differential extinction of entire 
ecosystems, involving all trophic levels ... " (Wilson, E.O., "Sociobiology: The Abridged Edition," [1975], 
The Belknap Press: Cambridge MA, 1980, p.50. Emphasis original)

15/01/2007
"Another of [Stephen] Hawking's controversial statements needs to be addressed. Although it is not 
original with him, Hawking states: `We are such insignificant creatures on a minor planet of a very average 
star in the outer suburbs of one of a hundred billion galaxies. So it is difficult to believe in a God that would 
care about us or even notice our existence.' [Hawking, S., in "Master of the Universe," BBC TV, 1989] I take 
a different position. In their recent writings, Hugh Ross and Guillermo Gonzalez (a professor of astronomy at 
Iowa State University) have demonstrated that our solar system, and in particular the sun and planet earth, 
are in fact quite extraordinary in many respects. The work of Ross and Gonzalez follows the excellent book 
Rare Earth, published in 2000 by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee. There is no compelling evidence to 
date that life exists elsewhere in the universe. Human beings, thus far, appear to be the most advanced 
species in the universe. Maybe God does care about us! Stephen Hawking surveys the cosmos and 
concludes that the principal characteristic of humankind is obscurity. I consider the same evidence and 
conclude that human beings are special." (Schaefer, H.F. III*, "Science and Christianity: Conflict or 
Coherence?" [2003], Apollos Trust: Watkinsville GA, Second Printing, 2003, p.66)

17/01/2007
"One bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee), Kanzi, can use the system to say: `I want a cup of coffee, please'. 
Another, Panbanisha, is said to know around 3,000 words. ... But Dr Tom Sambrook, of the Scottish Primate 
Research Group, told BBC television of his doubts that the apes' achievements signified all they appeared 
to. `They can use language effectively to make requests', he said. `But whether they're understanding what 
they're doing is a much more difficult mystery to disentangle.' ... `But if you look at their production of 
language, you'll find it's vastly different from the manner in which, for example, a child uses language. Dr 
Sambrook quoted an earlier researcher's verdict: `Were a four-year-old child to use language in the way a 
chimpanzee uses it, we would consider that child disturbed.'" (Kirby, A., "Chimps' language skills in doubt," 
BBC, July 26, 1999) 

18/01/2007
"There are two counter-intuitive aspects here. Using higher animals as models we would be much more 
inclined to see the organism as dynamic and the environment as static. But the only bit of an organism that 
is unambiguously not part of the environment is the bit that is static - the genotype. The other counter-
intuitive idea is that, in computer jargon, it is software in organisms that lasts, while hardware is being 
perpetually replaced. Consider, for example, the instructions about how to make cytochrome c molecules: 
that software has remained little altered in essentials while mountain ranges have risen and been worn away 
many times. Yet the hardware, the actual individual protein molecules, individual DNA molecules, and so on, 
have been quite evanescent, flickering in and out of existence on a geological time scale. And this is very 
close to the heart of the problem: following our discussions in the last chapter we might say that life can 
begin to appear when mechanisms exist for retaining and propagating a kind of software - genetic 
information - indefinitely." (Cairns-Smith, A.G., "Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life," [1982], 
Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 1987, p.80)

18/01/2007
"All such speculations that I have come across are evolutionary - they talk of the gradual perfection of this 
and that subsystem. But there is only one engine for the evolution of ingenious competence that I know of 
and that is natural selection. To evolve, the subsystems have to be part of an organism of some sort. Now 
there might be no need to postulate an earlier kind of life if some minimum nucleic acid-protein system could 
be conceived of as having formed spontaneously on the primitive Earth. But I do not see such a system as 
conceivable. You say yourself that naked nucleic acid genes are no good, and anything else would be more 
complicated - nucleic acid plus something else. I see no alternative to postulating some other kind of starter 
life to provide the milieu within which our kind of life system began its evolution." (Cairns-Smith, A.G., 
"Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life," [1982], Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 
Reprinted, 1987, p.130) 

18/01/2007
"Perhaps the simplest kinds of organisms would be hardly more than pieces of unencumbered information-
printing machinery - `naked genes' as they have been called (Muller, 1929). To have the potential for 
indefinite evolution into the future, the potential information capacity of these naked genes would have to 
be very high. ... the idea of a 'naked gene', as the simplest and first kind of organism, has a long history. It is 
somewhat out of favour now mainly on account of two kinds of argument that are put up against it. First, 
there is a practical argument. Even if it could evolve in principle, it is said, such a structure would be too 
improbable in practice: it would be exceedingly unlikely to form, and the Earth would be exceedingly unlikely 
to continue to provide the highly specialised components needed to keep it replicating. If we think about a 
naked nucleic acid molecule such an attitude seems justified. Second, there is a formal argument. To evolve, 
a system must have both a genotype and a phenotype. Pure information is no use: it is the phenotype on 
which selection operates to give genetic information a meaning. Formally this argument is impeccable, but it 
is largely irrelevant. A `naked gene' would not be - could not be - pure genotype. Clearly what is meant by a 
gene, in this context at least, is some sort of structure that is holding information - something analogous to a 
DNA molecule or a punched card. Such a thing is not pure software as it includes the structure that is 
holding the information, and that is hardware. And at least some aspects of hardware could very well be 
phenotype." (Cairns-Smith, A.G., "Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life," [1982], Cambridge 
University Press: Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 1987, p.81)

18/01/2007
"All such speculations that I have come across are evolutionary - they talk of the gradual perfection of this 
and that subsystem. But there is only one engine for the evolution of ingenious competence that I know of 
and that is natural selection. To evolve, the subsystems have to be part of an organism of some sort. Now 
there might be no need to postulate an earlier kind of life if some minimum nucleic acid-protein system could 
be conceived of as having formed spontaneously on the primitive Earth. But I do not see such a system as 
conceivable. You say yourself that naked nucleic acid genes are no good, and anything else would be more 
complicated - nucleic acid plus something else. I see no alternative to postulating some other kind of starter 
life to provide the milieu within which our kind of life system began its evolution." (Cairns-Smith, A.G., 
"Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life," [1982], Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 
Reprinted, 1987, p.130) 

18/01/2007
"Evolution started with 'low-tech' organisms that did not have to be, and probably were not made from 'the 
molecules of life'. The first part of this statement might seem rather obvious were it not for the baleful 
conclusion ... that the design of any conceivable organism is inevitably very very complicated - with robot 
machines that can make other machines (including ones like themselves) under instructions held in an 
information store that can be replicated by means of yet more machinery whose construction is also 
specified in the information store and can be executed by the robot machines... But that was another Big Red 
Herring. It arose from the unstated assumption that you actually need any machinery at all in an organism. 
Once you think you will need any, then you will think that you need a lot. If, for example, the organism has 
to have some kind's of printing machinery in it, so that it can replicate its genetic information, then it will 
need manufacturing machinery also to make this printing machinery. And then this manufacturing 
machinery, some sort of robot, must also be able to make other machines exactly like itself. The circle closes 
eventually, but not until after a long journey - too long to be a practicable piece of engineering even for us, 
and much too long for Nature before its engineer, natural selection, had come on the scene." (Cairns-Smith, 
A.G., "Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: A Scientific Detective Story," [1985], Cambridge University Press: 
Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 1993, pp.65-66. Emphasis original)

18/01/2007
"So why start on such a journey? Only the messages are in principle essential for evolution, although in 
practice there has to be a material to hold the messages and physical means for their replication. But the 
components for making the genetic material can be provided by the environment and so can any machinery 
that is needed to work with these components to bring about the replication of the messages. An organism 
need be no more than a naked gene if the environment is kind enough. ... But does this not simply shift 
the difficulty from the organism to the environment? Certainly it shifts the difficulty, but it does not 
simply shift the difficulty. The difficulty changes, and it becomes much less severe. There do not have to 
be robots anywhere. The environment might possibly have to provide some sort of printing or replicating 
machinery, but it would not have to provide another instructable machine to make such machinery. Indeed it 
is a matter to be decided whether the environment would even have to provide anything that could be called 
replicating machinery, or machinery of any sort. There would be but three things that an environment would 
have to provide for 'naked genes': (i) material units out of which new genes could be made (by template 
replication); (ii) conditions that would allow this to happen (whether or not these conditions included any 
sort of replication machinery); and (iii) reasons why some genes should do better than others (what are 
called selection pressures). It is true that now for RNA, the material units are probably too complex as 
primitive Earth products; and it looks as if a big enzyme has indeed to be included under (ii). But these are 
incidental features, not vital. They are specific objections to RNA. They depend on particular attributes of 
RNA molecules - and, anyway, we had decided in the last chapter that neither RNA nor DNA was the 
original genetic material." (Cairns-Smith, A.G., "Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: A Scientific Detective 
Story," [1985], Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, Reprinted, 1993, pp.66-67. Emphasis original)

18/01/2007
"We are now ready to analyze the `chance' origin of life ... This view usually assumes that energy flow 
through the system is capable of doing the chemical and the thermal entropy work, while the configurational 
entropy work of both selecting and coding is the fortuitous product of chance. To illustrate, assume that we 
are trying to synthesize a protein containing 101 amino acids. ... we estimated that the total free energy 
increase ... or work required to make a random polypeptide from previously selected amino acids was 300 
kcal/mole. An additional 159 kcal/mole is needed to code the polypeptide into a protein. Since the `chance' 
model assumes no coupling between energy flow and sequencing, the fraction of the polypeptide that has 
the correct sequence may be calculated ... using equilibrium thermodynamics ... ~ 1 x 10-117 ... This is 
essentially the inverse of the estimate for the number of ways one can arrange 101 amino acids in a 
sequence ... This ratio gives the fraction of polypeptides that have the right sequence to be a protein. Eigen 
[Eigen, M., Die Naturwiss, Vol. 58, 1971, p.465] has estimated the number of polypeptides of molecular 
weight 104 ... that would be found in a layer 1 meter thick covering the surface of the entire earth. He found 
it to be 1041. If these polypeptides reformed with new sequences at the maximum rate at which chemical 
reactions may occur, namely 1014/s, for 5 x 109 years (1.6 x 1017s), the total number of polypeptides that 
would be formed during the assumed history of the earth would be 1041 x 1014/s x 1.6 x 1017s = 1072 ... 
Combining the results ... we find the probability of producing one protein of 101 amino acids in five billion 
years is only 1/1045. Using somewhat different illustrations, Steinman [Steinman, G. Arch. Biochem. 
Biophys, Vol. 121, 1967, p.533] and Cairns-Smith [Cairns-Smith, A.G., "The Life Puzzle," Oliver & Boyd: 
Edinburgh, 1971] also come to the conclusion that chance is insufficient. It is apparen