Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Unposted quotes: 2002-2004 #3 (was Haldane)

Expand Messages
  • Stephen E. Jones
    Group On Tue, 19 Jul 2005 16:19:18 -0700 (PDT), Paul wrote: PK Incidently I m astonished at the intensity of group ... Thanks to Paul. Now all I have to do is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2005
    • 0 Attachment

      On Tue, 19 Jul 2005 16:19:18 -0700 (PDT), Paul wrote:

      PK>Incidently I'm astonished at the intensity of group
      >activity just days prior to shutdown. I thought it
      >would be extinguished quietly. Whatever else Steve's
      >detractors say about him they should acknowledge his
      >ability to create thriving internet discussion groups.
      > The ability to do so is not something to be taken for
      >granted as a number of individuals can testify who
      >have tried just that.

      Thanks to Paul. Now all I have to do is created a thriving blog!


      PS: Here are some more quotes. Most of these I had forgotten were

      "Paleontologists study the fossil record. The questions they face concern
      such things as long-term patterns in the history of life, and the extinction
      of species over millions of years. In this regard, Gould carries forward the
      attitude of many paleontologists towards evolutionary biology: namely,
      skepticism regarding the domains and the powers of natural selection. He
      is often critical of the ultra-Darwinian views of mainstream evolutionists
      such as Williams and Dawkins. ... Because Gould is a prolific and gifted
      popularizer, the educated public, at least in America, assumes that his
      approach to evolutionary biology is the mainstream position. Not so; he is
      a critic of the mainstream, which is dominated by Williams, the English
      evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith, and Dawkins." (Brockman J.,
      "The Third Culture," [1995], Touchstone: New York NY, 1996, reprint,

      "There is no progress in evolution. The fact of evolutionary change
      through time doesn't represent progress as we know it. Progress is not
      inevitable. Much of evolution is downward in terms of morphological
      complexity, rather than upward. We're not marching toward some greater
      thing." (Gould S.J., "The Pattern of Life's History," in Brockman J., "The
      Third Culture," [1995], Touchstone: New York NY, 1996, reprint, p.52)

      "The third theme is the extent to which a crucial argument in Darwinism-
      namely, that you can look at what's happening to pigeons on a generational
      scale and extrapolate that into the immensity of geological time-really
      doesn't work, that when you enter geological time there are a whole set of
      other processes and principles, like what happens in mass extinctions, that
      make the extrapolationist model not universal. ... I should say that
      geological time is in there because it's so essential to strict Darwinian
      theory that you be able to use the strategy of bio-uniformitarian
      extrapolation; in other words, that you be able to see what happens in local
      populations, and then render the much larger-scale events that occur
      through millions of years to much larger effect by accumulation of these
      small changes through time. If, in the introduction of the perspective of
      millions of years, new causes enter that couldn't ever be understood by
      studying what happens to pigeons and populations for the moment, then
      you couldn't use the Darwinian research strategy. That's why Darwin
      himself was so afraid of mass extinction and tried to deny the
      phenomenon. The geological stage is really a critique of the
      uniformitarian, or extrapolationist, aspect of Darwinian thinking.(Gould
      S.J., "The Pattern of Life's History," in Brockman J., "The Third Culture,"
      [1995], Touchstone: New York, 1996, reprint, pp.53-54)

      "In a phrase that has often been quoted since, I have summed up
      geological history as being like the life of a soldier: 'Long periods of
      boredom and short periods of terror' (Ager 1973, 1981a, 1993). So that is
      the message of this book too. This is not the old-fashioned catastrophism
      of Noah's flood and huge conflagrations. I do not think the bible-oriented
      fundamentalists are worth honouring with an answer to their nonsense. No
      scientist could be content with one very ancient reference of doubtful
      authorship." (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the
      Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge University Press:
      Cambridge UK, 1993, p.xix)

      "The most unlikely accident of all in the history of life on Earth was the
      origin of life itself. Someone has compared the likelihood of the right
      chemicals and the right forces coming together in the primaeval soup to
      the likelihood of a hurricane passing through a junkyard and blowing the
      pieces together to form a jumbo jet. But I do not feel that sort of
      scepticism." (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the
      Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge University Press:
      Cambridge UK, 1993, p.xix)

      "Alternatively, the arrival of life on Earth as a celestial hitch-hiker riding
      on a meteorite, as has been suggested by several workers, simply puts the
      blame back on an earlier accident elsewhere. What is more, it has been
      calculated that organic molecules carried within comets could not have
      survived impacts at velocities of more than about 10 km per second."
      (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event
      in Geological History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK,
      1993, p.xix)

      "I suppose I had better mention the concept of a divine creator, but
      personally I do not find that particular hypothesis useful and I am tempted
      to ask about the cosmic accident that created Him (presumably before the
      'big bangs' that started the universe). And what did He do before He
      created the world and mankind?" (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism:
      The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge
      University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.xix)

      "Personally, given the resources of geological time, I feel confident that
      sooner or later that hypothetical chimpanzee sitting at a typewriter, will
      one day type Hamlet. A very significant remark, made by Maynard Smith
      (1981) was that `a new species arising in 50000 years...is sudden to a
      palaeontologist but gradual to a geneticist'." (Ager D.V., "The New
      Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History,"
      Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.xix)

      "I was impressed by the studies made after the 1980 eruption of Mount St
      Helen's in Washington State, which destroyed all life for many kilometres
      around. Within a remarkably short time, nasty hot, evil-looking pools
      around the volcano were teeming with life in the form of bacteria and blue
      green algae. These are exactly the kinds of organisms that we know from
      the earliest records of life on Earth. The necessary original formula must
      have been one of chemistry and heat in a watery environment." (Ager
      D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in
      Geological History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993,

      "Thereafter there was an excessively long period of stasis with life only
      represented by the simplest kinds of plants before the development of
      nuclei or sex. Only towards the end of Precambrian times was there the
      evolution of a number of different life forms, as seen in the Ediacara
      assemblage of South Australia and now known in other parts of the world
      (including South Wales)." (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The
      Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge
      University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.149)

      "SUPPOSE, in the next place, that the person, who found the watch,
      should, after some time, discover, that, in addition to all the properties
      which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property
      of producing, in the course of its movement, another watch like itself (the
      thing is conceivable;) that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of
      parts, a mould for instance, or a complex adjustment of laths, files, and
      other tools, evidently and separately calculated for this purpose; let us
      inquire, what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former
      conclusion? ... The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the
      contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver.
      Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus,
      the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible, mechanism by which it was
      carried on, he would perceive, in this new observation, nothing but an
      additional reason for doing what he had already done; for referring the
      construction of the watch to design, and to supreme art. If that construction
      without this property, or, which is the same thing, before this property had
      been noticed, proved intention and art to have been employed about it; still
      more strong would the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge of
      this further property, the crown and perfection of all the rest." (Paley W.,
      "Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the
      Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature," [1802], St. Thomas
      Press: Houston, TX, 1972, reprint, p.7)

      "A second problem that he could not resolve related to the nature of the
      fossil record. Darwin's theory required that evolutionary change take place
      in successive generations of creatures, through slow, step-by-step changes
      in form. He conceived the driving mechanism of evolutionary change to be
      the process he called `natural selection,' or `survival of the fittest.' The
      result of this process, the actual morphological change within an evolving
      lineage of organisms, should, in Darwin's opinion, have resulted in a fossil
      record that demonstrated slight but continuous change among successive
      generations. But actual fossils that demonstrated such `insensibly graded
      series' were rare in Darwin's time, and they remain rare to this day. It is
      widely recognized that Darwin was a great zoologist, and he was clearly
      well versed in geology as well. He was acutely aware of the importance of
      evidence from the fossil record to confirm his ideas about evolution. But
      the fossil record, far from becoming a major source of support for Darwin,
      instead became a source of vexation, and he railed about it in successive
      editions of The Origin of Species. To Darwin's dismay, the fossil record
      the principal record of evolutionary changes showed very little
      unequivocal evidence of gradual change. To Darwin, it was the fossil
      record, not his theory, that was at fault. He complained that the fossil
      record was `poor' and incomplete, for he was sure that evidence of
      `insensible gradations' of change had to exist some where in the rocky
      pages of earth's history. The failure of the fossil record to support the
      theory of evolution was not lost on Darwin's critics." (Ward P.D., "On
      Methuselah's Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions," W.H.
      Freeman & Co: New York NY, 1991, p.9)

      "It is only within the past couple of decades that the age of the earth has
      become a subject for debate in English religious circles. When I was a
      young Bible-believing Christian around nineteen-fifty, the matter was
      regarded as settled. There was only one creationist society in Britain in
      those days, the Evolution Protest Movement, and its leading members all
      accepted without question that the earth is very old. I must have rubbed
      shoulders with hundreds of ancient-creationists, but I only remember ever
      meeting one recent-creationist before 1960. Young-earthists were as rare
      as flat-earthists in Britain in those days. The pendulum began to swing in
      1961. In that year J.C. Whitcomb and H.M. Morris published their recent-
      creationist classic, The Genesis Flood, and it took a substantial part of the
      evangelical world by storm. In a surge of enthusiasm several new
      creationist societies were formed in the USA in the nineteen-sixties, and a
      couple in Britain in the nineteen-seventies. The majority of these were
      formed to promote recent-creationism, and the others were prepared to
      accommodate it. By the time the Evolution Protest Movement changed its
      name to the Creation Science Movement in 1980 it, too, was revealing
      recent-creationist tendencies in its publications. Recent-creationism is now
      seen by many evangelical Christians as the only reasonable alternative to
      Darwinism. Ancient-creationists in America have found themselves
      becoming an unfashionable minority, with the trend in Britain following
      not very far behind." (Hayward A., "Creation and Evolution: Rethinking
      the Evidence from Science and the Bible," [1985], Bethany House:
      Minneapolis MN, 1995, reprint, p.69)

      "In his book Darwin is actually presenting two related but quite distinct
      theories. The first, which has sometimes been called the `special theory', is
      relatively conservative and restricted in scope and merely proposes that
      new races and species arise in nature by the agency of natural selection,
      thus the complete title of his book: The Origin of Species by Means of
      Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle
      for Life. The second theory, which is often called the `general theory', is
      far more radical. It makes the claim that the `special theory' applies
      universally and hence that the appearance of all the manifold diversity of
      life on Earth can be explained by a simple extrapolation of the processes
      which bring about relatively trivial changes such as those seen on the
      Galapagos Islands. This `general theory' is what most people think of when
      they refer to evolution theory. ... If the Origin had dealt only with the
      evolution of new species it would never have had its revolutionary impact.
      It was only because he went much further to argue the general thesis that
      the same simple natural processes which had brought about the diversity
      of the Galapagos finches had ultimately brought forth all the diversity of
      life on earth and all the adaptive design of living things that the book
      proved such a watershed in western thought. ... It is clear, then, that
      Darwin's special theory was largely correct. Natural selection has been
      directly observed and there can be no question now that new species do
      originate in nature ... The validation of Darwin's special theory, which has
      been one of the major achievements of twentieth-century biology, has
      inevitably had the effect of enormously enhancing the credibility of his
      general theory of evolution. ... Yet, despite the success of his special
      theory, despite the reality of microevolution, not all biologists have shared
      Darwin's confidence and accepted that the major divisions in nature could
      have been crossed by the same simple sorts of processes. ... However
      attractive the extrapolation, it does not necessarily follow that, because a
      certain degree of evolution has been shown to occur therefore any degree
      of evolution is possible. There is obviously an enormous difference
      between the evolution of a colour change in a moth's wing and the
      evolution of an organ like the human brain, and the differences among the
      fruit flies of Hawaii, for example, are utterly trivial compared with the
      differences between a mouse and an elephant, or an octopus and a bee. ...
      Whatever the merits of the extrapolation may be in biology, there are
      certainly many instances outside biology where such an extrapolation is
      clearly invalid, where large scale `macro' changes can only be accounted
      for by invoking radically different sorts of processes from those
      responsible for more limited `micro' types of change. ... The technique of
      problem solving by trial and error, for example, a mechanism which is
      strictly analogous to evolution by natural selection, is often successful in
      solving relatively simple problems, but it would obviously be wrong to
      conclude that it is capable, at least in finite time, of solving more involved
      complex sorts of problems. ... The same rule applies in the case of most
      other sorts of complex systems where function arises from the integrated
      activity of a number of coadapted components. Take the case of a watch,
      where only very trivial changes in the structure and function of the
      cogwheel system can be achieved gradually through a succession of minor
      modifications. Any major functional innovation, such as the addition of a
      new cogwheel or an increase in the diameter of an existing cogwheel,
      necessarily involves simultaneous highly specific correlated changes
      throughout the entire cogwheel system. Like a sentence, the function of a
      watch cannot be gradually converted through an innumerable series of
      transitional forms into a quite different sort of watch. ... There is no doubt
      that the success of the Darwinian model in explaining microevolution
      invites the hope that it might be applicable also to macroevolutionary
      phenomena. Perhaps in the end this might prove to be the case; but, on the
      other hand, there is the depressing precedent, as the history of science
      testifies, that over and over again theories which were thought to be
      generally valid at the time proved eventually to be valid only in a restricted
      sphere." (Denton M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books:
      London, 1985, pp.44-46,85-92)

      "The new theory, according to paleontologist Steven Stanley of Johns
      Hopkins draws a crucial distinction between two kinds of evolution:
      gradual, small changes within a species ("microevolution") and sudden,
      gross changes that mark the emergence of a new species
      ("macroevolution"). The former is just a specialized case of Darwin's
      familiar theory of natural selection. The bugs hide deeper in the bark, and
      the woodpeckers evolve longer beaks to hunt them out. But where Darwin,
      from observations begun in the Galapagos Islands, concluded that enough
      small changes would eventually create a new species, the revised theory
      holds that a new species arises by some different mechanism-perhaps even
      a gross random mutation in a single generation." (Adler J. & Carey J., "Is
      Man a Subtle Accident?," Newsweek, November 3, 1980, pp.54-55, p.55)

      "At the other end of the story, it was evident to evolutionists from the start
      that man cannot be an exception. In The Origin of Species Darwin
      deliberately avoided the issue, saying only in closing, `Light will be
      thrown on the origin of man and his history.' Yet his adherents made no
      secret of the matter and at once embroiled Darwin, with themselves, in
      arguments about man's origin from monkeys. Twelve years later (in 1871)
      Darwin published The Descent of Man, which makes it clear that he was
      indeed of that opinion. No evolutionist has since seriously questioned that
      man did originate by evolution. Some, notably the Wallace who shared
      with Darwin the discovery of natural selection, have maintained that
      special principles, not elsewhere operative, were involved in human
      origins, but that is decidedly a minority opinion ...." (Simpson G.G., "The
      World into Which Darwin Led Us," [Science, Vol. 131, 1 April 1960,
      pp.966-974, p.969] in "This View of Life: The World of an Evolutionist,"
      Harcourt, Brace & World: New York NY, 1964, pp.11-12)

      "One of the classic examples of the force of selection is the peppered moth
      Biston betularia, whose white color provides very effective protection
      against predators when the moth rests on birch trees. Dark specimens have
      also been seen, but since such individuals stood out much more against
      their customary birch trees, these individuals were for a long time much
      less prevalent than the white variety. When industrialization dirtied the air
      and darkened the birch trees, the selection pressure changed and now the
      advantage was thrown to those moths that were darker! Soon the white
      Biston moths were the rarer of the two. The two varieties differed only by
      a single gene possessed by the darker one. It was examples like the above
      that demonstrated the effect of mutation and selection in the course of the
      evolutionary process." (Peters D.S. & Gutmann W.F., "The Meaning of the
      Theory of Evolution," in Grzimek B., ed., "Grzimek's Encyclopedia of
      Evolution," [1972], Van Nostrand Reinhold: New York, 1976, p.35)

      "Another superb example of natural selection in action took place in
      England during the 19th century, caused by pollution from smoky factories
      This blackened tree trunks and killed off lichens that normally grew on the
      bark. Peppered moths, which rested on these trees during the day, and
      were delicately Camouflaged to match the lichens, lost their protection and
      became vulnerable to birds. A mutation, which changed their coloration to
      a uniform black, spread through the population in areas of heavy
      industrialization. Such mutations, (known as melanism, after the brown-
      black pigment melanin) are quite common in many species, but are not
      usually favored by natural selection. In industrial areas, there are now
      several species of melanin moths, as well as melanic spiders and ladybirds,
      but with pollution control, the incidence of melanic forms is declining.
      The peppered moth, in its original and melanic forms." (Gamlin L. &
      Vines G., eds., "The Evolution of Life," [1986], Oxford University Press:
      New York NY, 1991, p.11)

      "There is empirical evidence of the evolution by natural selection of new
      characteristics of existing species, such as the camouflaging darkness of
      the small peppered moth in grimy industrial areas in the 19th century."
      (Vesey G. & Foulkes P., "Collins Dictionary of Philosophy,"
      HarperCollins: Glasgow UK, 1990, p.74)

      "A different example of selection against a dominant gene is seen in cases
      where dark-colored insects, normally at a selective advantage in areas
      darkened by industrial pollution, strati into unpolluted areas. This has been
      most intensively studied and is best understood in the case of the peppered
      moth Biston betularia. The work of H.B.D. Kettlewell and his associates at
      Oxford University has demonstrated that birds prey on these moths.
      During the day the moths often rest on tree trunks and their predators
      search for them there." (Hanson E.D., "Understanding Evolution," Oxford
      University Press: New York NY, 1981, pp.148-149)

      "Artificial selection is experimental evolution; natural evolution has been
      studied as well. The best known examples have been provided by the
      school of ecological genetics, which studies natural changes of gene
      frequencies in natural populations. H.B.D. Kettlewell's work on the change
      of the peppered moth Biston betularia from peppered white to brown
      coloration during the past century is the most famous of many such
      studies." (Ridley, Mark, "Who doubts evolution?," New Scientist, Vol. 90,
      pp.830-832, 25 June 1981, p.831)

      "Nevertheless, it is legitimate to ask if observed patterns of evolutionary
      change are consistent with conventional theory; for instance, whether the
      rates of change we see in cases of rapid evolution are too high to be
      produced by the usual forces of microevolution. A difficulty here is that
      the resolution- of the fossil record is rather coarse compared with the
      timescale of microevolution. An average of 50 000 years between
      successive samples followed up a column of rock would be regarded as
      good in most studies of fossil populations, whereas in moths such as the
      peppered moth, Biston betularia, dark forms (which are better
      camouflaged against predators in industrial areas) replaced light-coloured
      ones in less than 100 years." (Charlesworth B., "NeoDarwinism-the plain
      truth," New Scientist, 15 April 1982, p.134)

      "Industrial melanism is an example of directional selection. Before the
      industrial revolution in England, collectors of the peppered moth, Biston
      betularia, noted that most moths were light-colored, although occasionally
      a dark- colored (melanistic) moth was captured. Several decades after the
      industrial revolution, however, black moths made up 90% of the moth
      population in air-polluted areas. Moths rest on the trunks of trees during
      the day (fig. 21.13); if they are seen by predatory birds, they are eaten. As
      long as the trees in the environment were light in color, the light- colored
      moths lived to reproduce. But when the trees turned black from industrial
      pollution, the dark-colored moths survived and reproduced to a greater
      extent than the light-colored moths. The dark-colored phenotype then
      became the more frequent one in the population. If pollution is reduced
      and the trunks of the trees regain their normal color, the light-colored
      moths should increase in number." (Mader S.S., "Biology," [1985], Wm.
      C. Brown Co: Dubuque IA, Third Edition, 1990, p.320).

      "Natural selection is also readily observable in the wild. In a classic
      example, the white peppered moth gave way in nineteenth-century
      Manchester to a dark mutant form after industrial soot covered the lichen
      on which the moth rested, making the white form conspicuous to birds.
      When air pollution laws lightened the lichen in the 1950s, the then rare
      white form reasserted itself." (Pinker S., "How the Mind Works," [1997],
      Penguin: London, 1998, p.162. Emphasis in the original).

      "The problem of the origin of life on the earth has much in common with a
      well-constructed detective story. There is no shortage of clues pointing to
      the way in which the crime, the contamination of the pristine environment
      of the early earth, was committed. On the contrary, there are far too many
      clues and far too many suspects. It would be hard to find two investigators
      who agree on even the broad outline of the events that occurred so long
      ago and made possible the subsequent evolution of life in all its variety."
      (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a review of facts and speculations,"
      Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December 1998, pp.491-495,

      "The earth is slightly more than 4.5 billion years old. For the first half
      billion years or so after its formation, it was impacted by objects large
      enough to evaporate the oceans and sterilize the surface. Well-preserved
      microfossils of organisms that have morphologies similar to those of
      modern blue-green algae, and date back about 3.5 billion years, have been
      found, and indirect but persuasive evidence supports the proposal that life
      was present 3.8 billion years ago. Life, therefore, originated on or was
      transported to the earth at some point within a window of a few hundred
      million years that opened about four billion years ago. The majority of
      workers in the field reject the hypothesis that life was transported to the
      earth from some where else in the galaxy and take it for granted that life
      began de novo on the early earth." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a
      review of facts and speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol.
      23, December 1998, pp.491-495, p.491)

      "In the years following the Urey-Miller experiments, the synthesis of
      biologically interesting molecules from products that could be obtained
      from a reducing gas mixture became the principle aim of prebiotic
      chemistry ... As in any good detective story, how ever, the principle
      suspect, the reducing atmosphere, has an alibi. Recent studies have
      convinced most workers concerned with the atmosphere of the early earth
      that it could never have been strongly reducing. If this is true, Miller's
      experiments. and most other early studies of prebiotic chemistry, are
      irrelevant." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a review of facts and
      speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December 1998,
      pp.491-495, p.491)

      "Many of those who dismiss the possibility of a reducing atmosphere
      believe that the crime was an outside job. A substantial proportion of the
      meteorites that fall on the earth belong to a class known as carbonaceous
      chondrites. These are particularly Interesting because they contain a
      significant amount of organic carbon and because some of the standard
      amino acids and nucleic-acid bases are presents. Could the prebiotic soup
      have originated in preformed organic material brought to the earth by
      meteorites and comets? Supporters of the impact theory have argued
      convincingly that sufficient organic carbon must have been present in the
      meteorites and comets that reached the surface of the early earth to have
      stocked an abundant soup. However, would this material have survived the
      intense heating that accompanies the entry of large bodies into the
      atmosphere and their subsequent collisions with the surface of the earth?
      ... The impact theory is probably the most popular at present, but nobody
      has proved that impacts were the most important sources of prebiotic
      organic compounds." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a review of facts
      and speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December
      1998, pp.491-495, pp.491-492)

      "The RNA world could therefore have arisen from a pool of activated
      nucleotides. All that would have been needed is a pool of activated
      nucleotides! Nucleotides are complicated molecules. The synthesis of
      sugars from formaldehyde gives a complex mixture, in which ribose is
      always a minor component. The formation of a nucleoside from a base and
      a sugar is not an easy reaction and, at least for pyrimidine nucleosides, has
      not been achieved under prebiotic conditions; the phosphorylation of
      nucleosides tends to give a complex mixture of products. The inhibition of
      the template-directed reactions on D-templates by L-substrates is a further
      difficulty. It is almost inconceivable that nucleic acid replication could
      have got started, unless there is a much simpler mechanism for the
      prebiotic synthesis of nucleotides." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a
      review of facts and speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol.
      23, December 1998, pp.491-495, p.493)

      "Cairns-Smith, long before the argument became popular, emphasized
      how improbable it is that a molecule as high tech as RNA could have
      appeared de novo on the primitive earth. He proposed that the first form of
      life was a self-replicating clay. He suggested that the synthesis of organic
      molecules became part of the competitive strategy of the clay world and
      that the inorganic genome was taken over by one of its organic creations.
      Cairns-Smith's postulate of an inorganic life form has failed to gather any
      experimental support. The idea lives on in the limbo of uninvestigated
      hypotheses." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a review of facts and
      speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December 1998,
      pp.491-495, p.493)

      "Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is another nucleic acid analog that has been
      studied extensively. It was synthesized by Nielsen and colleagues during
      work on antisense RNA. PNA is an uncharged, achiral analog of RNA or
      DNA, the ribose-phosphate backbone of the nucleic acid is replaced by a
      backbone held together by amide bonds. PNA forms very stable double
      helices with complementary RNA or DNA. We have shown that
      information can be transferred from PNA to RNA, and vice versa, in
      template-directed reactions and that PNA-DNA chimeras form readily on
      either DNA or PNA templates. Thus, a transition from a PNA world to an
      RNA world is possible. Nonetheless, I think it unlikely that PNA was ever
      important on the early earth, because PNA monomers cyclize when they
      are activated; this would make oligomer formation very difficult under
      prebiotic conditions." (Orgel L.E., "The origin of life - a review of facts
      and speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December
      1998, pp.491-495, p.494)

      "The above discussion reveals a very large gap between the complexity of
      molecules that are readily synthesized in simulations of the chemistry of
      the early earth and the molecules that are known to form potentially
      replicating informational structures. Several authors have therefore
      proposed that metabolism came before genetics. ... There is no agreement
      on the extent to which metabolism could develop independently of a
      genetic material. In my opinion, there is no basis in known chemistry for
      the belief that long sequences of reactions can organize spontaneously -
      and every reason to believe that they cannot. The problem of achieving
      sufficient specificity, whether in aqueous solution or on the surface of a
      mineral, is so severe that the chance of closing a cycle of reactions as
      complex as the reverse citric acid cycle, for example, is negligible. The
      same, I believe, is true for simpler cycles involving small molecules that
      might be relevant to the origins of life and also for peptide cycles." (Orgel
      L.E., "The origin of life a review of facts and speculations," Trends in
      Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23, December 1998, pp.491-495, p.495)

      "In summary, there are several tenable theories about the origin of organic
      material on the primitive earth, but in no case is the supporting evidence
      compelling. Similarly, several alternative scenarios might account for the
      self-organization of a self-replicating entity from prebiotic organic
      material, but all of those that are well formulated are based on hypothetical
      chemical syntheses that are problematic. Returning to our detective story,
      we must conclude that we have identified some important suspects and, in
      each case, we have some ideas about the method they might have used.
      However, we are very far from knowing whodunit." (Orgel L.E., "The
      origin of life - a review of facts and speculations," Trends in Biochemical
      Sciences, Vol. 23, December 1998, pp.491-495, p.495)

      Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol). http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones
      Blog: http://creationevolutiondesign.blogspot.com/ Book, "Problems of
      Evolution" http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/PoE/PoE00ToC.html
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.