Welcome to our Origin and Complexity of Life collection (a collection of introductory quotes of interest to those starting off in the debate, as well as gurus looking to back up basic claims). Many of the quotes in our collections have been verified for accuracy, but not all have been verified. Thus, we present our quote-collections as a starting point for research, and suggest you verify any individual quote before using it.
If you have information about problems or inaccuracies in any quotes, we welcome corrections. Please send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What subcategory of quotes would you like to see?
General Origins of Life Quotes
Faith and Philosophy
Odds, Likelihood, Probabilities, and Statistics
Pre-biotic Chemistry and the "Soup"
Origin of DNA and the Genetic Code
Origins of a Replicator, the Cell, and Chirality
Information and Intelligent Design
General Origins of Life:
- "The authors [Charles Thaxton and Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen] have made an important contribution to the origin of life field. Many workers in this area believe that an adequate scientific explanation for the beginning of life on Earth has already been made. Their point of view has been widely disseminated in texts and the media, and to a large extent, has been accepted by the public. This new work brings together the major scientific arguments that demonstrate the inadequacy of current theories. Although I do not share the final philosophical conclusion that the authors reach, I welcome their contribution. It will help to clarify our thinking.... I would recommend this book to everyone with a scientific background and interest in the origin of life...." (Robert Shapiro [Professor of Chemistry, New York University and coauthor of Life Beyond Earth] in his review of Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin.)
- "All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did." (Harold Urey, Christian Science Monitor (January 4, 1962).)
- "Some future day may yet arrive when all reasonable chemical experiments run to discover a probable origin for life have failed unequivocally. Further, new geological evidence may indicate a sudden appearance of life on the earth. Finally, we may have explored the universe and found no trace of life, or processes leading to life, elsewhere. In such a case, some scientists might choose to turn to religion for an answer. Others, however, myself included, would attempt to sort out the surviving less probable scientific explanations in the hope of selecting one that was still more likely than the remainder." (Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Origin of Life, page 130 (New York, NY: Summit, 1986).)
- "A good example of disciplinary chauvinism can be seen in Robert Shapiro's fine book Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. After presenting a very readable, very devastating critique of scientific studies on the origin of life, Shapiro proclaims his steadfast loyalty-not to the goal of "explaining the physical world," but to science ... Shapiro goes on gamely to say that things don't look quite so bleak right now, pretty much contradicting everything he had written to that point. He can rest secure in the knowledge that there will never be a time when all experiments have "failed unequivocally," just as there will never be a time when the existence of the Loch Ness Monster has been absolutely ruled out. And the time when the universe will have been fully explored is comfortably far off." (Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box, pages 234-235 (1996).)
- "The theory of evolution should start, I think, by attempting to model how primitive organic entities grew out of the primordial soup. How did some forms of life get started on planet Earth? I find it curious how little this problem-which I call the start-up problem-is addressed in conventional presentations. I was very interested and glad that the first paper of the present symposium (Michod, 1982) addressed this topic: theory of first replicators. I find it curious that in the current public debate on creationism versus evolution, this defect of evolutionary theory receives little mention. I surmise that the reason is that we have almost no ideas." (Oscar Kempthorne, "Evaluation of Current Population Genetics Theory", American Zoologist, Vol. 23: 111-121 (1983).)
- "Any scientific revolution has to accept all sorts of black boxes, for if one had to wait until all black boxes are opened, one would never have any conceptual advances. " (Ernst Mayr, One Long Argument, page 146 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991).)
- "When I set out to write this book, I was convinced that science was close to wrapping up the mystery of life's origin ... Having spent a year or two researching the field, I am now of the opinion that there remains a huge gulf in our understanding ... This gulf's not merely ignorance about certain technical details, it is a major conceptual lacuna."
"Many investigators feel uneasy about stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they freely admit that they are baffled. There are two reasons for their unease. First, they feel it opens the door to religious fundamentalism... Second, they worry that a frank admission of ignorance will undermine funding." (Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life)
- "Our hypothetical nucleic acid synthesis system is therefore analogous to the scaffolding used in the construction of a building. After the building has been erected the scaffolding is removed, leaving no physical evidence that it was ever there. Most of the statements in this section must therefore be taken as educated guesses. Without having witnessed the event, it seems unlikely that we shall ever be certain of how life arose" (D. Voet and J.G. Voet, Biochemistry, page 23 (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1995) in J.F. Ashton, In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation , page 165 (Sydney, Australia: New Holland, 1999).)
- "If I were a creationist, I would cease attacking the theory of evolution-which is so well supported by the fossil record-and focus instead on the origin of life. This is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology. The origin of life is a science writer's dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion." (John Horgan [Senior Writer, Scientific American], The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, page 138 (London: Little, Brown & Co., 1997).)
- "If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces and radiation, how has it come into being? ... I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it." (H. J. Lipson [F.R.S., Professor of Physics, University of Manchester, UK], "A physicist looks at evolution" Physics Bulletin, Vol. 31: 138 (1980).)
- "Mr. Bird is concerned with origins and the evidence relevant thereto. He is basically correct that evidence, or proof, of origins-of the universe, of life, of all of the major groups of life, of all of the minor groups of life, indeed of all of the species-is weak or nonexistent when measured on an absolute scale, as it always was and will always be." (Gareth Nelson [Chairman and Curator of the Department of Herpetology and Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, New York], "Preface," in W. R. Bird , The Origin of Species Revisited, page 22 (Vol. 1, Nashville, TN: Regency, 1991).)
- "Take some matter, heat while stirring and wait. That is the modern version of Genesis. The 'fundamental' forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces are presumed to have done the rest... But how much of this neat tale is firmly established, and how much remains hopeful speculation? In truth, the mechanism of almost every major step, from chemical precursors up to the first recognizable cells, is the subject of either controversy or complete bewilderment." (Andrew Scott, "Update on Genesis", New Scientist, Vol. 106: 30 (May 2nd, 1985).)
- "At a recent meeting in Chicago, a highly distinguished international panel of experts was polled. All considered the experimental production of life in the laboratory imminent, and one maintained that this has already been done-his opinion was not based on a disagreement about the facts but on a definition as to just where, in a continuous sequence, life can be said to begin." (George Gaylord Simpson [Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University], "The World into Which Darwin Led Us," Science, Vol. 131 (3405): 966-974 (April 1, 1960). Please note: this statement was made 40 years ago; such a statement would definitely not be made today, as nothing close to life has ever been produced in the laboratory.)
- "Creationists have looked forward to the day when science may actually create a "living" thing from simple chemicals. They claim, and rightly so, that even if such a man-made life form could be created, this would not prove that natural life forms were developed by a similar chemical evolutionary process. The scientist understands this and plods on testing theories." (William D. Stansfield [Professor of Biological Sciences, California Polytechnic State University], The Science of Evolution, pages 10-11 (8th ed., New York, NY: Macmillan, 1977).)
- "...(I)t should be apparent that the errors, overstatements and omissions that we have noted in these biology texts, all tend to enhance the plausibility of hypotheses that are presented. More importantly, the inclusion of outdated material and erroneous discussions is not trivial. The items noted mislead students and impede their acquisition of critical thinking skills. If we fail to teach students to examine data critically, looking for points both favoring and opposing hypotheses, we are selling our youth short and mortgaging the future of scientific inquiry itself " (Mills, Lancaster, and Bradley, "Origin of Life Evolution in Biology Textbooks - A Critique," The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 55 (2): 83 (February, 1993).)
- "To insist, even with Olympian assurance, that life appeared quite by chance and evolved in this fashion, is an unfounded supposition which I believe to be wrong and not in accordance with the facts." (Pierre-Paul Grasse [Editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie", former Chair of Evolution, Sorbonne University, and ex-president of the French Academie des Sciences], Evolution of Living Organisms Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation, page 107 (New York, NY: Academic Press, 1977).)
- "More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. New lines of thinking and experimentation must be tried." "Considerable disagreements between scientists have arisen about detailed evolutionary steps. The problem is that the principal evolutionary processes from prebiotic molecules to progenotes have not been proven by experimentation and that the environmental conditions under which these processes occurred are not known. Moreover, we do not actually know where the genetic information of all living cells originates, how the first replicable polynucleotides (nucleic acids) evolved, or how the extremely complex structure-function relationships in modern cells came into existence."
"It appears that the field has now reached a stage of stalemate, a stage in which hypothetical arguments often dominate over facts based on experimentation or observation." (Klaus Dose [Director, Institute for Biochemistry, Gutenberg University, Germany], "The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13 (4): 348 (1988).)
- "We must admit at the outset that we do not know how life on earth originated. However, in the last 30 years or so a multidisciplinary effort of scientists from several specialties has made it possible to construct a scenario in which simple living organisms evolved from nonliving constituents more than 3 billion years B.P. (before present)."
"In the last three decades, the origin of life has been the subject of dozens of books, scores of essays, thousands of articles, relating an enormous amount of experimental and theoretical work. Periodicals devoted exculsively to the subject have been founded. Textbooks dedicate whole chapters to it.....But I must add a warning. If not considered totally outlandish any more, the field still remains largely confined to speculation. When it comes to events that happened several billion years ago, hard data are scarce and, perforce, are supplemented by reasoning and imagination, if not blind faith."
(C.P. Hickman [Professor Emeritus of Biology, Washington and Lee University, Lexington], L.S. Roberts [Professor Emeritus of Biology, Texas Tech University], and F.M. Hickman, Biology of Animals, pages 110 and 698 (St. Louis: Times Mirror/Mosby College Publishing).)
- “The more biologists look, the more complexity there seems to be. … [A]s sequencing and other new technologies spew forth data, the complexity of biology has seemed to grow by orders of magnitude. Delving into it has been like zooming into a Mandelbrot set — a space that is determined by a simple equation, but that reveals ever more intricate.” (Erica Check Hayden, “Life is complicated,” Nature, Vol. 464: 664 (April 1, 2010).)
Faith and Philosophy:
- "But what if the vast majority of scientists all have faith in the one unverified idea? The modern 'standard' scientific version of the origin of life on earth is one such idea, and we would be wise to check its real merit with great care. Has the cold blade of reason been applied with sufficient vigour in this case? Most scientists want to believe that life could have emerged spontaneously from the primeval waters, because it would confirm their belief in the explicability of Nature the belief that all could be explained in terms of particles and energy and forces if only we had the time and the necessary intellect. They also want to believe because their arch opponents - religious fundamentalists such as creationists - do not believe in life's spontaneous origin. It is this combative atmosphere which sometimes encourages scientists writing and speaking about the origin of life to become as dogmatic and bigoted as the creationist opponents they so despise." (A. Scott , The Creation of Life: Past, Future, Alien, pages 111-112 (Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1986).)
- "From my earliest training as a scientist, I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be painfully shed. At the moment, I can't find any rational argument to knock down the view which argues for conversion to God. We used to have an open mind; now we realize that the only logical answer to life is creation-and not accidental random shuffling." (Chandra Wickramasinghe, Interview in London Daily Express (August 14, 1981).)
- "Paul Davies gets into all of the corners of research into the origin of life.... Cynically, one might conclude that much of his vague thinking in fact represents the sad state of affairs in this field of research. We are nowhere near understanding the origin of life. But let us try to avoid invoking miracles."
"The origin of life on the surface of the Earth is a unique historical event whose character cannot be established by experiments in contemporary laboratories ... Many scientists have taken this position on the origin of life. Jacques Monod, the distinguished French molecular biologist, said as much in 1970 in his elegant book Chance and Necessity. There is no way, he argued, that an event as improbable as the emergence of life on Earth could be analyzed by science, which is able to deal only with events that form a class.... A decade later, Francis H.C. Crick, co-originator of the structure of DNA, put the argument more specifically: the chances that the long polymer molecules that vitally sustain all living things, both proteins and DNA, could have been assembled by random processes from the chemical units of which they are made are so small as to be negligible, prompting the question whether the surface of the Earth was fertilized from elsewhere, perhaps from interstellar space. `Panspermia' is the name for that." (J. Maddox, What Remains To Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race, page 131 (1999 reprint, New York, NY: Touchstone, 1998).)
- "Now that the reader has been warned against certain errors, which have their source in the human brain, we can examine the methods used by the mind to describe the universe and to foresee future events. This study is indispensable, as we expect to base our arguments on scientific methods and on mathematical reasoning to demonstrate that they both lead to the necessity of admitting the intervention of a transcendent, extra-earthly force in order to explain life."
(P. L. du Nouy, Human Destiny, page 12 (17th ed., New York, NY: Longmans, Green & Co., 1947).)
- "Molecular biology is mankind's attempt to figure out how God engineered His greatest invention -- life. As with all great inventions, details are top secret; however, even top secrets may become known. I find it a great privilege to live in a time where God allows us to gain some insight into His construction plans, only a short step away from giving us the power to control life processes genetically. I hope it will be to the benefit of mankind, and not to its destruction." (Arnold Neumaier, "Molecular Modeling of Proteins and Mathematical Prediction of Protein Structure", Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Vol. 39 (3): 408 (1997).)
- "With the failure of these many efforts [to explain the origin of life] science was left in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to postulate theories of living origins which it could not demonstrate. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past." (Loren C. Eiseley [late Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania], The Immense Journey, page 199 (1957 reprint, New York, NY: Vintage, 1946).)
- "I have said for years that speculations about the origin of life lead to no useful purpose as even the simplest living system is far too complex to be understood in terms of the extremely primitive chemistry scientists have used in their attempts to explain the unexplainable that happened billions of years ago. God cannot be explained away by such naive thoughts." (Ernst Chain [Biochemist], in R.W. Clark, The Life of Ernst Chain: Penicillin and Beyond, page 148 (London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 1985).)
- "For any postulated stage in biogenesis there must be a continuous path backward to the prebiotic state of the earth and forward to modern organisms. To introduce molecular structures or processes that are not subject to continuity is once again to violate Ockham's razor." (Harold Morowitz, The Beginnings of Cellular Life, page 27 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).)
- "Indeed, such a theory (that life was assembled by an intelligence) is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific." (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space, page 130 (Dent, 1981).)
- "The modern understanding of the principle of biological continuity can be traced to Darwin (at the morphological level; see Eigen, 1992); with the advent of molecular biology, it has become an integral part of biology at the molecular level. Orgel (1968) suggested that the process may be guided by a "principle of continuity which requires that each stage in evolution develops continuously from the previous one." (Noam Lahav, Biogenesis: Theories of Life's Origins, page 102 (Oxford University Press, 1999).)
- "The great diversity of these opinions reflects their largely subjective nature. Individual viewpoints often reveal ideological, philosophical, or religious biases more than they express objective appraisals, for the simple reason that not enough elements are available for objective analysis." (C. DeDuve, Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life, page 212 (Burlington, North Carolina: Neil Patterson Publishers, Carolina Biological Supply Company, 1991).)
- "The first assumption was that non-living things gave rise to living material. This is still just an assumption. It is conceivable that living material might have suddenly appeared on this world in some peculiar manner, say from another planet, but this then raises the question, "Where did life originate on that planet?" We could say that life has always existed, but such an explanation is not a very satisfactory one. Instead, the explanation that nonliving things could have given rise to complex systems having the properties of living things is generally more acceptable to most scientists. There is, however, little evidence in favour of biogenesis and as yet we have no indication that it can be performed. There are many schemes by which biogenesis could have occurred but these are still suggestive schemes and nothing more. They may indicate experiments that can be performed, but they tell us nothing about what actually happened some 1,000 million years ago. It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available." (G.A. Kerkut [Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Southampton, UK], Implications of Evolution, page 150 (New York, NY: Pergamon Press, 1960), in International Series of Monographs on Pure and Applied Biology, Division: Zoology.)
- "To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms, consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information, equivalent to the sequence of letters in a small library of one thousand volumes, containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying, and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason. But to the Darwinist, the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt - the paradigm takes precedence!" (Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, page 351 (London: Burnett Books, 1985).)
- "...so we have now what we believe is strong evidence for life on Earth 3,800 thousand million years [ago]. This brings the theory for the Origin of Life on Earth down to a very narrow range. Allowing half a billion years (for the disturbed conditions described above) we are now thinking, in geochemical terms, of instant life..." (Cyril Ponnamperuma [Director of Chemical Evolution Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, California], Broadcast Interview, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (January 1980), in F. Hoyle & C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space, pages 79-80 (1983 reprint, London: Paladin, 1981).)
- "Now, one of the most arresting facts I have learned is that life goes back as far in Earth history as we can possibly trace it ... In other words, in the very oldest rocks that stand a chance of showing signs of life, we find those signs--those vestiges-of life. Life is intrinsic to the earth!" (Niles Eldredge, The Triumph of Evolution and The Failure of Creationism)
- "No one has publicly disagreed with my interpretation of the Apex fossils. But privately, some would prefer I were mistaken, since they (and I, too) would prefer a simpler evolutionary story, one that told us these oldest organisms were capable only of primitive ways of living and that advanced metabolic lifestyles evolved much later. But the evidence seems strong, and what one might "prefer" shouldn't matter." (J. William Schopf, The Cradle of Life)
- "Summing up, the available findings suggest that a well developed biosphere was present on Earth 3800 million years ago. Consequently life's origin must be considerably older." (Hans D. Pflug [Department of Applied Geoscience, Justus-Liebig-Universitat, Giessen, Germany], "Earliest organic evolution. Essay to the Memory of Bartholomew Nagy".)
- "When I make an incision with my scalpel, I see organs of such intricacy that there simply hasn't been enough time for natural evolutionary processes to have developed them." (C. Everett Koop, former US Surgeon General)
- "The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, 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, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, 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 possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain, one only has to wait: Time itself performs the miracles." (George Wald, "The Origin of life," Scientific American, Vol. 191(2):148 (August 1954).)
- "Early in November, an announcement of the discovery of some fossil prokaryotes from South Africa pushed the antiquity of life back to 3.4 billion years."
"If true monerans were alive 3.4 billion years ago, then the common ancestor of monerans and 'methanogens' must be considerably more ancient. Since the oldest dated rocks, the Isua Supracrustals of West Greenland, are 3.8 billion years old, we are left with very little time between the development of suitable conditions for life on the earth's surface and the origin of life."
"Life apparently arose about as soon as the earth became cool enough to support it." (Stephen Jay Gould, "An Early Start,"Natural History, Vol. 87: 10-24 (February 1978).)
- "I believe we developed this practice (i.e., postulating prebiological natural selection) to avoid facing the conclusion that the probability of a self-replicating state is zero. When for practical purposes the concept of infinite time and matter has to be invoked, that concept of probability is annulled. By such logic we can prove anything, such as that, no matter how complex, everything will repeat itself, exactly and immeasurably." (Peter T. Mora, "The Folly of Probability," in The Origins of Prebiological Systems, page 45 (New York: Academic Press, 1965).)
- "If true monerans were alive 3.4 billion years ago, then the common ancestor of monerans and these newly christened "methanogens" must be considerably more ancient. Since the oldest dated rocks, the Isua Supra-crustals of West Greenland, are 3.8 billion years old, we are left with very little time between the development of suitable conditions for life on the earth's surface and the origin of life itself....In Wald's view ... life is so staggeringly complex that its origin from simple chemicals must have consumed an immense amount of time probably more time than its entire subsequent evolution from DNA molecule to advanced beetles .... Thousands of steps each requiring the one before, each improbable in itself. Only the immensity of time guaranteed the result .... Still, the notion that life has been found in the oldest rocks that could contain evidence of it forces us, I think, to abandon the view of life's slow, steady, and improbable development. Life arose rapidly, perhaps as soon as the earth cooled down sufficiently to support it." (Stephen Jay Gould [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA], "An Early Start", in The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History, pages 181-183 (1990 reprint, London: Penguin, 1980).)
- "One escape hatch yet exists for spontaneous generation. Why need the event have been probable? We can just stare at the odds, shrug, and note with thanks how lucky we were... After all, improbable events occur all the time." (Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to Creation of Life on Earth.)
- "It is, perhaps, ironic that we tell beginning students in biology about Pasteur's experiments as the triumph of reason over mysticism yet we are coming back to spontaneous generation, albeit in a more refined and scientific sense, namely to chemical evolution." (Cyril Ponnamperuma, The Origins of Life.)
- "In its affirmative form, the law of Biogenesis states that all living organisms are the progeny of living organisms that went before them. The familiar Latin tag is omne vivum ex vivo-All that is alive came from something living; in other words, every organism has an unbroken genealogical pedigree extending back to the first living things. In its negative form, the law can be taken to deny the occurrence (or even the possibility) of spontaneous generation. ... The Law of Biogenesis is arguably the most fundamental in biology..." (P. Medawar & J. Medawar, Aristotle to Zoos: A Philosophical Dictionary of Biology, page 39 (Harvard University Press, 1983), in W.R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited pages 311-312 (Vol. 1, 1991).)
- "Some scientists say, just throw energy at it and it will happen spontaneously. That is a little bit like saying: put a stick of dynamite under the pile of bricks, and bang, you've got a house! Of course you won't have a house, you'll just have a mess. The difficulty in trying to explain the origin of life is in accounting for how the elaborate organisational structure of these complex molecules came into existence spontaneously from a random input of energy. How did these very specific complex molecules assemble themselves?" (Paul C.W. Davies [renowned Physicist] and Phillip Adams [Journalist], More Big Questions, pages 47-48, 53-54 (Sydney, Australia: ABC Books, 1998).)
Odds, Likelihood, Probabilities, and Statistics
- "... Life cannot have had a random beginning ... The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the power of 40,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court ..." (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space)
- "In fact, the probability of the formation of a protein and a nucleic acid (DNA-RNA) is a probability way beyond estimate. Furthermore, the chance of the emergence of a certain protein chain is so slight as to be called astronomic." (Ali Demirsoy, Kalitim ve Evrim (Inheritance and Evolution), page 39 (Ankara: Meteksan Publishing Co., 1984).)
- "...it appears unlikely that a self-replicating ribozyme [an RNA molecule having some enzyme activity] could arise, but without some form of self-replication there is no way to conduct an evolutionary search for the first, primitive self-replicating ribozyme." (G.F. Joyce and L.E. Orgel, Prospects for Understanding the Origin of the RNA World, in R.F. Gesteland and J.F. Atkins, The RNA World, page 19 (Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Press, 1993).)
- "The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it ... It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution ... if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence." (Sir Fred Hoyle, [Astronomer, Cosmologist, and Mathematician, Cambridge University])
- "The chance that useful DNA molecules would develop without a Designer are apparently zero. Then let me conclude by asking which came first - the DNA (which is essential for the synthesis of proteins) or the protein enzyme (DNA-polymerase) without which DNA synthesis is nil? ... there is virtually no chance that chemical 'letters' would spontaneously produce coherent DNA and protein 'words.'" (George Howe, expert in biological sciences)
- "There is no chance (< 10^-1000) to see this mechanism [mutation-selection] appear spontaneously and, if it did, even less for it to remain...Thus, to conclude, we believe there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current conception of biology." (Marcel P. Schutzenberger, [formerly with University of Paris], "Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution", page 75, at the symposium, "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation")
- "Contrary to the popular notion that only creationism relies on the supernatural, evolutionism must as well, since the probabilities of random formation of life are so tiny as to require a 'miracle' for spontaneous generation tantamount to a theological argument." (Chandra Wickramasinge)
- "What gambler would be crazy enough to play roulette with random evolution? The probability of dust carried by the wind reproducing Durer's 'Melancholia' is less infinitesimal than the probability of copy errors in the DNA molecule leading to the formation of the eye; besides, these errors had no relationship whatsoever with the function that the eye would have to perform or was starting to perform. There is no law against daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it." (Pierre-Paul Grasse [French zoologist], Evolution of Living Organisms, page 104 (New York: Academic Press, 1977).)
- "Mutation does not introduce new levels of complexity, and it cannot be shown that it is a step in the right direction. Most observed mutations are harmful, and there is no experimental evidence to show that a new animal organism or even a novel structural feature has ever been produced from the raw material produced by mutation." (P. Davis and D. Kenyon, Of Pandas and People (Dallas, Texas: Haughton Publishing Company, 1993).)
- "If a particular amino acid sequence was selected by chance, how rare an event would this be? This is an easy exercise in combinatorials. Suppose the chain is about two hundred amino acids long; this is, if anything rather less than the average length of proteins of all types. Since we have just twenty possibilities at each place, the number of possibilities is twenty multiplied by itself some two hundred times. This is conveniently written 20200 and is approximately equal to 10260, that is, a one followed by 260 zeros. Moreover, we have only considered a polypeptide chain of rather modest length. Had we considered longer ones as well, the figure would have been even more immense. The great majority of sequences can never have been synthesized at all, at any time." (Francis Crick, Life Itself, pages 51-52)
- "The spontaneous formation of a polypeptide of the size of the smallest known proteins seems beyond all probability." (W. R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited, page 304 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Co., 1991).)
- "Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate.... It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect the higher intelligences to our left, even to the limit of God... such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident." (Sir Fred Hoyle [English Astronomer, Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University] and Chandra Wickramasinge [Professor of Astronomy and Applied Mathematics, University College, Cardiff], ''Convergence to God" in Evolution from Space, pages 141, 144 (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1981).)
- "Essentially, the same amino acid chain being found also in other animals and even in plants, we have a case in histone-4 where more than 200 base pairs are conserved across the whole of biology. The problem for the neo-Darwinian theory is to explain how the one particular arrangement of base pairs came to be discovered in the first place. Evidently not by random processes, for with a chance 1/4 of choosing each of the correct base pairs at random, the probability of discovering a segment of 200 specific base pairs is 4-200, which is equal to 10-120. Even if one were given a random choice for every atom in every galaxy in the whole visible universe the probability of discovering histone-4 would still only be a minuscule ~10-40."
"Two points of principle are worth emphasis. The first is that the usually supposed logical inevitability of the theory of evolution by natural selection is quite incorrect. There is no inevitability, just the reverse. It is only when the present asexual model is changed to the sophisticated model of sexual reproduction accompanied by crossover that the theory can be made to work, even in the limited degree to be discussed....This presents an insuperable problem for the notion that life arose out of an abiological organic soup through the development of a primitive replicating system. A primitive replicating system could not have copied itself with anything like the fidelity of present-day systems....With only poor copying fidelity, a primitive system could carry little genetic information without L [the mutation rate] becoming unbearably large, and how a primitive system could then improve its fidelity and also evolve into a sexual system with crossover beggars the imagination." (Fred Hoyle [former Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University], Mathematics of Evolution, pages 102-103 (1999 first printing, Memphis, TN: Acorn Enterprises, written in 1987).)
- "That it [the spontaneous forming of a given protein] would not occur during billions of years on billions of planets, each covered by a blanket of concentrated watery solution of the necessary amino acids." (William Stokes, Essentials of Earth History)
- "To suppose that the evolution of the wonderfully adapted biological mechanisms has depended only on a selection out of a haphazard set of variations, each produced by blind chance, is like suggesting that if we went on throwing bricks together into heaps, we should eventually be able to choose ourselves the most desirable house." (Conrad H. Waddington [Professor of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh], "The Listener" (London, November 13, 1952), in A. Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, page 127 (1989 reprint, London: Arkana, 1967).)
- "When one examines the vast number of possible structures that could result from a simple random combination of amino acids in an evaporating primordial pond, it is mind-boggling to believe that life could have originated in this way. It is more plausible that a Great Builder with a master plan would be required for such a task" (Perry Reeves, Professor of Chemistry)
- "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'." (Sir Fred Hoyle [English Astronomer, Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University], "Hoyle on Evolution", Nature, Vol. 294: 105 (November 12, 1981).)
- "In a popular lecture I once unflatteringly described the thinking of these scientists as a "junkyard mentality". As this reference became widely and not quite accurately quoted I will repeat it here. A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe. " (F. Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe, pages 18-19 (London: Michael Joseph, 1983).)
- "The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer." (Dr. Richard Dawkins [Department of Zoology, Oxford University, UK], "The necessity of Darwinism", New Scientist, Vol. 94: 130 (April 15, 1982).)
- "The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going." (Francis Crick [first to resolve the structure of DNA], in John Horgan, "In the Beginning," Scientific American (February 1991).)
- "[the probability of the coincidental formation of Cythochrome-C, an essential protein for survival is] as unlikely as the possibility of a monkey writing the history of humanity on a typewriter without making any mistakes."
"In essence, the probability of the formation of a Cytochrome-C sequence is as likely as zero. That is, if life requires a certain sequence, it can be said that this has a probability likely to be realised once in the whole universe. Otherwise some metaphysical powers beyond our definition must have acted in its formation. To accept the latter is not appropriate for the scientific goal. We thus have to look into the first hypothesis" (Ali Demirsoy, Kalitim ve Evrim (Inheritance and Evolution), page 61 (Ankara: Meteksan Publishing Co., 1984).)
- "What is so frustrating for our present purpose is that it seems almost impossible to give any numerical value to the probability of what seems a rather unlikely sequence of events... An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle." (Francis Crick, Life Itself)
- "A spaceship approaches the Earth, but not close enough for its imaginary inhabitants to distinguish individual terrestrial animals. They see growing crops, roads, bridges, and a debate ensues. Are these chance formations or are they the products of an intelligence? It is not at all difficult to formulate examples of events with exceedingly low probabilities. A roulette wheel operates in a casino. A bystander notes the sequence of numbers thrown by the wheel over the course of a whole year. What is the chance that this particular sequence should have turned up? Well, not as small as 1 in 10^40000, but extremely small nonetheless. So there is nothing especially remarkable in a tiny probability. Yet it surely would be exceedingly remarkable if the sequence thrown by the roulette wheel in the course of a year should have an explicit mathematical significance, as for instance if the numbers turned out to form the digits of pi to an enormous number of decimal places. This is just the situation with a living cell which is not any old random jumble of chemicals." (F. Hoyle, "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections," Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20: 1-35, 15 (1982).)
Pre-biotic Chemistry and the "Soup"
- "In a stunning presentation at the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) meeting in Berkeley in 1986, Robert Shapiro, a Harvard-educated DNA chemist from New York University, showed that the widespread but second- and third-hand claims regarding synthesis of ribose and deoxyribose sugar in Miller-type experiments were traceable to one ambiguous paper. He subsequently demonstrated that making ribose sugar under prebiotic conditions was essentially impossible. His work was subsequently published in Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere." (W.L. Bradley and C.B. Thaxton, "Information & the Origin of Life", in J.P. Moreland, The Creation Hypothesis, page 210 (1994).)
- "Oparin believed that the organic molecules from which life originated collected as a “soup” in surface waters...However, a basic problem is that a high concentration of complex organic molecules would be required. This violates the second law of thermodynamics, which basically tells us (in this context) that it would be more energetically favorable for such a mixture of organic compounds to disintegrate into simple parts than to collect into a multitude of complex, organized molecules." (B.W. Murck and B.J. Skinner, Geology Today: Understanding our Planet, pages 442 and 527 (New York: J. Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999).)
- "Considering the way the prebiotic soup is referred to in so many discussions of the origin of life as an already established reality, it comes as something of a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence." (Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, page 261 (Bethesda, Maryland: Adler and Adler Publishers, 1985).)
- "Under slightly reducing conditions, the Miller-Urey action does not produce amino acids, nor does it produce the chemicals that may serve as the predecessors of other important biopolymer building blocks. Thus, by challenging the assumption of a reducing atmosphere, we challenge the very existence of the "prebiotic soup", with its richness of biologically important organic compounds. Moreover, so far, no geochemical evidence for the existence of a prebiotic soup has been published. Indeed, a number of scientists have challenged the prebiotic soup concept, noting that even if it existed, the concentration of organic building blocks in it would have been too small to be meaningful for prebiotic evolution." (Noam Lahav, Biogenesis: Theories of Life's Origins, pages 138-139 (Oxford University Press, 1999).)
- "Indeed, without this cold trap [in Miller's experiment], the chemical products would have been destroyed by the electric source." (Richard B. Bliss & Gary E. Parker, Origin of Life, page 14 (California, 1979).)
- "If there were a basic principle of matter which somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrable in the laboratory. One could, for instance, take a swimming bath to represent the primordial soup. Fill it with any chemicals of a non-biological nature you please. Pump any gases over it, or through it, you please, and shine any kind of radiation on it that takes your fancy. Let the experiment proceed for a year and see how many of those 2,000 enzymes [proteins produced by living cells] have appeared in the bath. I will give the answer, and so save the time and trouble and expense of actually doing the experiment. You would find nothing at all, except possibly for a tarry sludge composed of amino acids and other simple organic chemicals. How can I be so confident of this statement? Well, if it were otherwise, the experiment would long since have been done and would be well-known and famous throughout the world. The cost of it would be trivial compared to the cost of landing a man on the Moon. . . . In short there is not a shred of objective evidence to support the hypothesis that life began in an organic soup here on the Earth." (Sir Fred Hoyle [British Physicist and Astronomer], The Intelligent Universe, pages 20-21, 23 (London: Michael Joseph, 1983).)
- "This generalized proposition-that processes of chance and natural law led to living organisms emerging on Earth from the relatively simple organic molecules in 'primordial soups'-is valid only if there is a finite probability of the correct assembly of molecules occurring within the time-scale envisaged. Here there is another great problem. In the above example for a relatively small protein of 100 amino acids, selection of this correct sequence had to be made by chance from 10^130 alternative choices. The operation of pure chance would mean that within a maximum of about 500 million years (or somewhat less), the organic molecules in the 'primordial soup' might have to undergo 10^130 trial assemblies to hit on the correct sequence. The probability of such a chance occurrence leading to the formation of one of the smallest protein molecules is unimaginably small. Within the boundary conditions of time and space which we are considering, it is effectively zero."
"It is still to be demonstrated how these essential molecules, such as haemoglobin, chlorophyll and other proteins and nucleic acids were formed. But even if we were to allow a primeval soup to have existed for the full history of the Earth (4,000-4,500 million years), complex proteins and nucleic-acid molecules could never have been produced by random, chance interactions. However, here are you and I on Earth today. And the evidence of the fossil record shows that some sequence of events of almost zero probability did take place over 3,500 million years ago. Before the event, the chances that it would occur were exceedingly small. What is more, from our understanding of the possible processes leading to the origin of life and the critical part played by living organisms in the development processes, the transition from non-living to living matter probably occurred only once and could have occurred only once. The origin of life was an almost utterly improbable event with almost impossible odds against a chance happening But life did originate. So was it by chance? Or was it by design and control?"
"And then what of the 'primitive soup' required for Chemical Evolution? If such an environment ever existed on Planet Earth for any appreciable time, it would require relatively large quantities of nitrogen-containing organic compounds (amino-acids, nucleic acid bases and so on). It is likely that such nitrogen-rich soups would have given significant quantities of 'nitrogenous cokes', trapped in various PreCambrian sediments. (The formation of such 'cokes' is the normal result obtained by heating organic matter rich in nitrogenous substances.) No such nitrogen-rich materials have yet been found in early PreCambrian rocks on this planet In fact the opposite seems to be true: the nitrogen content of early PreCambrian organic matter is relatively low (less than 0.15%). From this we can be reasonably certain that: * there never was any substantial amount of 'primitive soup' on Earth when ancient PreCambrian sediments were formed; * if such a 'soup' ever existed it was only for a brief period of time. Subtract from the basic concept of the Chemical Evolution Theory the ideas of substantial amounts of 'primitive soup' and a long period of time, and there is very little left." (J. Brooks, Origins of Life, pages 84-85, 87, 118 (Hertfordshire UK: Lion Books, 1985).)
- "However, it is now held to be highly unlikely that the conditions used in these experiments [i.e., the modeling of strongly reducing atmospheres] could represent those in the Archean atmosphere. Even so, scientific articles still occasionally appear that report experiments modeled on these conditions and explicitly or tacitly claim the presence of resulting products in reactive concentrations "on the primordial Earth" or in a "prebiotic soup". The idea of such a "soup" containing all desired organic molecules in concentrated form in the ocean has been a misleading concept against which objections were raised early (see, e.g., Sillen 1965). Nonetheless, it still appears in popular presentations perhaps partly because of its gustatory associations." (Stephen J. Mojzsis, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, and Gustaf Arrhenius, "Before RNA and After: Geophysical and Geochemical Constraints on Molecular Evolution," in The RNA World, page 6 (Second Edition, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1999).)
- "...Geological and geophysical evidence is insufficient to allow us to state with any precision what conditions were like on the surface of the primitive earth. Arguments concerning the composition of the primitive atmosphere are particularly controversial. It is important, therefore, to state our own prejudice clearly. We believe that there must have been a period when the earth's atmosphere was reducing, because the synthesis of compounds of biological interest takes place only under reducing conditions." (Stanley L. Miller and Leslie E. Orgel, The Origins of Life on the Earth, page 33 (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1974).)
- "A related casualty of the organic aridity of a near-neutral atmosphere is the concept of solution in the ocean, taken for granted almost automatically in much of the literature as the site of early chemical evolution toward complex biomolecules. The dilution in the ocean of soluble compounds from any weak source is forbidding; already sparse, unstable molecules introduced in a volume of 1.3 x 10^9 km3 of seawater are mutually unreactive and hardly retrievable by evaporation or other means." (Stephen J Mojzsis, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, and Gustaf Arrhenius, "Before RNA and After: Geophysical and Geochemical Constraints on Molecular Evolution", in The RNA World, page 7 (Second Edition, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1999).)
- "Early Precambrian sediments provide no evidence for the existence of the methane-ammonia atmosphere commonly postulated for the primitive earth" (J. William Schopf, "Precambrian paleobiology," in Cyril Ponnamperuma [Editor], Exobiology (1972) Please note: The Miller-Urey experiments were based upon the assumption that the early earth had a methane-ammonia rich atmosphere. Without such an atmosphere, the "primordial soup" would not exist.)
- "Unfortunately for the theory of extraterrestrial seeding, in all the samples we checked the amounts of AIB deposited were either undetectable or pitifully small. Only one ice sample, approximately 4,500 years old, showed detectable quantities of AIB. Ice samples dating from 1908 showed no traces of it, indicating that the Tunguska object did not deliver an appreciable organic signal to the earth. In sediments from the KT boundary, we measured about 0.00005 gram of AIB for every square centimeter of the KT-boundary surface. If similar amounts of AIB were distributed over the entire surface of the earth (a generous assumption), then, in chemical terms, they would have created a two-billionths molar solution of AIB. That is like stirring a teaspoonful of sugar into a six-foot-deep swimming pool the size of a football field - too dilute a soup, in my opinion, for any kind of organic chemistry. The 4,500-year-old event recorded in the ice would have created a similarly dilute AIB solution. Even if (as Sagan and his colleagues have estimated) cosmic debris struck the prebiotic earth at 10,000 times the present levels, the resultant prebiotic soup would still have been much too weak, I believe, to engender life." (Jeffrey L. Bada, "Cold Start," in The Sciences, Vol. 35 (3): 21 (May-June 1995).)
- "Oxygen isotope measurements (Knauth and Lowe 1978) and petrological observations (Cost et al. 1980) have been taken as indications of high water temperatures associated with the Archean banded-iron formations. The nature of the oldest known sedimentary rocks contributes testimony to a liquid hydrosphere persisting from the earliest recorded stages of the history of the Earth 3850 million years ago." (Stephen J Mojzsis, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, and Gustaf Arrhenius, "Before RNA and After: Geophysical and Geochemical Constraints on Molecular Evolution", in The RNA World, page 15 (Second Edition, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1999).)
- "All this is dreadfully wrong, however. The methane used by Urey and Miller was almost surely obtained from natural gas, and so was of biological origin. The ammonia was also of suspect origin, just as it was in Wohler's experiment. So what was actually done was to start with biomaterials and from them produce other biomaterials, a far less impressive outcome than it seemed at the time. If Urey and Miller, and their successors, had used only materials that were genuinely inorganic in the terrestrial context and had obtained similar results, the achievement would have been more impressive. The correct materials to use would have been water, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide and dioxide, for the reason that these substances might have occurred quite naturally on the early Earth before the onset of biological processes." (Fred Hoyle[former Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University] and Chandra Wickramasinghe [Professor of Applied Mathematics & Astronomy, University of Wales], "Our Place in the Cosmos: The Unfinished Revolution," pages 28-29 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1993).)
- "Yet the record shows that this chilly fate didn't befall Earth or at least not for very long. Not only are there clear signs of life at 3.5 billion years ago, there are signs of running water and erosion too. And traces of photosynthesis -a telltale pattern of isotopes - found in marine rocks from about 2.7 billion years ago make it seem unlikely that the oceans were constantly frozen over, says Knoll." (Richard A. Kerr, "Early Life Thrived Despite Earthy Travails", Science, Vol. 284 (5423): 2112 (June 25, 1999).)
- "Temperature has a striking effect on the rate of chemical reactions. Reaction rates that are negligible at ordinary temperatures may become appreciable and even explosive at high temperatures. A rough useful approximation is that the rate of many chemical reactions is doubled for an increase of 10 Celsius degrees in temperature." (Melvin Merken, Physical Science with Modern Applications, page 386 (Fifth Edition, Saunders College Publishing, 1993).)
- "If we imagine that the earliest self-propagating substances, were something like viruses that depended on organic material it is not difficult to suppose that further development of structures such as cell membranes and complex metabolic pathways could lead to larger, more complex organisms......"
"In 1923 a Russian scientist, Aleksander Oparin, hypothesized that simple organic compounds may have ben synthesized from a primitive atmosphere of ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), water vapor (H20) and hydrogen (H2)....Thirty years later an American scientist, Stanley Miller, carried out an experiment to check this hypothesis ... Subsequent research has exposed a difficulty: It is doubtful that methane, ammonia, and hydrogen were major components of Earth’s primitive atmosphere" (R. M. Buchsbaum, J. Pearse, and V. Pearse, Animals Without Backbones, pages 6, 441-442, 572 (3rd Edition, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1987).)
Origin of DNA and the Genetic Code
- "We do not yet understand even the general features of the origin of the genetic code. The origin of the genetic code is the most baffling aspect of the problem of the origins of life and a major conceptual or experimental breakthrough may be needed before we can make any substantial progress." (Leslie E. Orgel [Adjunct Professor, University of California-San Diego, Resident Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, California], "Darwinism at the very beginning of life," New Scientist, page 151 (April 15, 1982).)
- "The origin of the [genetic] code is perhaps the most perplexing problem in evolutionary biology. The existing translational machinery is at the same time so complex, so universal and so essential that it is hard to see how it could have come into existence or how life could have existed without it. The discovery of ribozymes has made it easier to imagine an answer to the second of these questions, but the transformation of an 'RNA world' into one in which catalysis is performed by proteins, and nucleic acids specialize in the transmission of information, remains a formidable problem." (John Maynard Smith [Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex] & Eors Szathmary [Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest], The Major Transitions in Evolution, page 81 (Oxford, UK: W.H. Freeman, 1995).)
- "In fact, the probability of the formation of a protein and a nucleic acid (DNA-RNA) is a probability way beyond estimate. Furthermore, the chance of the emergence of a certain protein chain is so slight as to be called astronomic." (Ali Demirsoy, Kalitim ve Evrim (Inheritance and Evolution), page 39 (Ankara: Meteksan Publishing Co., 1984).)
- "But the most sweeping evolutionary questions at the level of biochemical genetics are still unanswered. How the genetic code first appeared and then evolved and, earlier even than that, how life itself originated on earth remain for the future to resolve.... Did the code and the means of translating it appear simultaneously in evolution? It seems almost incredible that any such coincidence could have occurred, given the extraordinary complexities of both sides and the requirement that they be coordinated accurately for survival. By a pre Darwinian (or a skeptic of evolution after Darwin) this puzzle would surely have been interpreted as the most powerful sort of evidence for special creation." (Caryl P. Haskins, "Advances and Challenges in Science in 1970," American Scientist, Vol. 59: 305 (May-June, 1971).)
- "A melody for the eye of the intellect, with not a note wasted.... structure [of DNA] had become one with function, the antinomy dialectically resolved. The structure of DNA is flawlessly beautiful." (H. F. Judson, The Eighth Day of Creation, pages 173, 175 (1979).)
- "... the gap between a rich organic environment with all the necessary precursors, including even polypeptides and nucleic acids, and the simplest organized life, remains immense ... even the simplest complete organisms we know of today are almost unbelievably complex. It is difficult to visualize the steps by which they may have originated because the various processes which occur in them are interdependent; none can function without the others." (J. Butler, The Life Process, pages 185, 188, 189 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1970) Cited by Wysong, ref , p. 191.)
- "Natural selection is differential reproduction, organism perpetuation. In order to have natural selection, you have to have self-reproduction or self-replication and at least two self-replicating units of entities ... I would like to plead with you, simply, please realize you cannot use the words 'natural selection' loosely. Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction of terms." (T. Dobzhansky, The Origins of Prebiological Systems and their Molecular Matrices, pages 309-310 (New York, 1965). Cited by Wysong, ref , pp. 126-127.)
- "A natural and fundamental question to ask on learning of these incredibly interlocking pieces of software and hardware is: 'How did they ever get started in the first place?' It is truly a baffling thing. One has to imagine some sort of a bootstrap process occurring, somewhat like that which is used in the development of new computer languages--but a bootstrap from simple molecules to entire cells is almost beyond one's power to imagine. There are various theories on the origin of life. They all run aground on this most central of all central questions: 'How did the Genetic Code, along with the mechanisms for its translation (ribosomes and RNA molecules), originate?' For the moment, we will have to content ourselves with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than with an answer. And perhaps, experiencing that sense of wonder and awe is more satisfying than having an answer--at least for a while." (Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, page 548 (New York: Vintage Books, 1980).)
- "It was already clear that the genetic code is not merely an abstraction but the embodiment of life's mechanisms; the consecutive triplets of nucleotides in DNA (called codons) are inherited but they also guide the construction of proteins.
"So it is disappointing, but not surprising, that the origin of the genetic code is still as obscure as the origin of life itself." (John Maddox, "The Genesis Code by Numbers," Nature, Vol. 367 (January 13, 1994).)
- "Evolution lacks a scientifically acceptable explanation of the source of the precisely planned codes within cells without which there can be no specific proteins and hence, no life." (David A Kaufman [Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainsesville])
- "Making compounds and making life are two different things" (Stanley Miller [famous origin of life researcher who first conducted the "Miller-Urey experiments" where amino acids were produced in a flask] from UCSD Origins of Life seminar at UCSD (January 19, 1998).)
- "The [genetic] code is meaniningless unless translated. The modern cell's translating machinery consists of at least fifty macromolecular components WHICH ARE THEMSELVES CODED IN DNA: THE CODE CANNOT BE TRANSLATED OTHERWISE THAN BY PRODUCTS OF TRANSLATION [emphasis original]. It is the modern expression of omne vivum ex ovo [all life from eggs, or idiomatically, what came first, the chicken or the egg?]. When and how did this circle become closed? It is exceedingly difficult to imagine." (Jaques Monod, Chance and Necessity, pages 134-135 (London: Collins, 1972).)
- "It is extremely improbable that proteins and nucleic acids, both of which are structurally complex, arose spontaneously in the same place at the same time. Yet it also seems impossible to have one without the other. And so, at first glance, one might have to conclude that life could never, in fact, have originated by chemical means."
"We proposed that RNA might well have come first and established what is now called the RNA world. This scenario could have occurred, we noted, if prebiotic RNA had two properties not evident today: a capacity to replicate without the help of proteins and an ability to catalyze every step of protein synthesis."
"The precise events giving rise to the RNA world remain unclear. As we have seen, investigators have proposed many hypotheses, but evidence in favor of each of them is fragmentary at best. The full details of how the RNA world, and life, emerged may not be revealed in the near future." (Leslie E. Orgel, "The Origin of Life on the Earth," Scientific American, Vol. 271: 77-83 (October 1994).)
- "DNA cannot do its work, including forming more DNA, without the help of catalytic proteins, or enzymes. In short, proteins cannot form without DNA, but neither can DNA form without proteins." (Klaus Dose, "The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers", Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13 (4): 348 (1988).)
- "Prebiotic soup is easy to obtain. We must next explain how a prebiotic soup of organic molecules, including amino acids and the organic constituents of nucleotides evolved into a self-replicating organism. While some suggestive evidence has been obtained, I must admit that attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary process are extremely tentative." (Leslie E. Orgel [Biochemist and Resident Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies], "Darwinism at the very beginning of life," New Scientist, Vol. 94: 150 (April 15, 1982).)
- "Until now, no experiment is known in which we can obtain all the molecules necessary for chemical evolution. Therefore, it is essential to produce various molecules in different places under very suitable conditions and then to carry them to another place for reaction by protecting them from harmful elements like hydrolysis and photolysis." (Reinhard Junker & Siegfried Scherer, Entstehung Gesiche Der Lebewesen, page 89 (Weyel, 1986).)
- "Sugars are particularly trying. While it is true that they form from formaldehyde solutions, these solutions have to be far more concentrated than would have been likely in primordial oceans. And the reaction is quite spoilt in practice by just about every possible sugar being made at the same time - and much else besides. Furthermore the conditions that form sugars also go on to destroy them. Sugars quickly make their own special kind of tar - caramel - and they make still more complicated mixtures if amino acids are around."
"It is true that some of the simpler amino acids have been found in complex mixtures generated under conditions simulating those that might have been present on the primitive Earth. Even nucleotide letters have been found in mixtures that are said to be plausible simulations of probiotic products. But all such 'molecules of life' are always minority products and usually no more than trace products. Their detection often owes more to the skill of the experimenter than to any powerful tendency for the 'molecules of life' to form." (A.G. Cairns-Smith, Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: A Scientific Detective Story, pages 44-45 (1993 reprint, Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990).)
- "...With regard to the appearance of a single molecule of the cytochrome c family, even the deus ex machina needs 1036 "acceptable planets" with just the right conditions for 109 years... One who finds the chance appearance of cytochrome c a credible event must have the faith of Job...."
"Certain old untenable ideas have served only to confuse the solution of the problem. Negentropy is not a concept because entropy cannot be negative. The role that negentropy has played in previous discussions is replaced by 'complexity' as defined in information theory."
"Attempts to relate the idea of 'order' in a crystal with biological organization or specificity must be regarded as a play on words which cannot stand careful scrutiny."
"An uninvited guest at any discussion of the origin of life and of evolution from the materialistic reductionist point of view, is the role of thermodynamic entropy and the 'heat death' of the universe which it predicts."
"...The "warm little pond" scenario was invented ad hoc to serve as a materialistic reductionist explanation of the origin of life. It is unsupported by any other evidence and it will remain ad hoc until such evidence is found. Even if it existed, as described in the scenario, it nevertheless falls very far short indeed of achieving the purpose of its authors even with the aid of a deus ex machina. One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written." (H.P. Yockey, "A Calculation of the Probability of Spontaneous Biogenesis by Information Theory," Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 67 (3): 377, 380, 393, 396 (1977).)
Origins of a Replicator, the Cell, and Chirality
- "One of the biggest obstacles to taking full advantage of what nature has to offer is that the living world has an awesomely elaborate means of construction. There is no assembly plant so delicate, versatile and adaptive as the cell."
"Specifically, insects are conjurors of the vortex. With deft flappings and rotations of their wings, they are able to manipulate the vortices shed from the edges to control their motion in ways that flight engineers can only dream of: taking off backwards, for example, or landing upside down. By such means, insects subvert the “conventional” aerofoil principles of flight, giving rise to the canard that the bee is aerodynamically impossible. In essence, the flight of the bumble-bee is a flight beyond the dynamic steady state: lift is generated at particular, exquisitely timed moments during the flap cycle. By rotating the wing so that it is parallel to the ground on the downstroke but perpendicular on the recovery stroke, an insect is able to recapture energy from the vortices shed from the wing edge. This reveals a new mechanism for flight that one could hardly have deduced from first principles, and which might be adopted for the development of miniaturized robotic flyers for remote sensing, surveying and planetary exploration."
"It is the weaving of strands in the spinneret that gives them their strength. The details of this process are not understood; but it may be that not until we can build an artificial, miniaturized spinning mechanism will silk be an industrial material. This is why biomimetics must reach down to the microscopic and ultimately the molecular scale. Some of nature’s best tricks are conceptually simple and easy to rationalize in physical or engineering terms; but realizing them requires machinery of exquisite delicacy. "
"...fundamental research on the character of nature’s mechanisms, from the elephant to the protein, is sure to enrich the pool from which designers and engineers can draw ideas. The scope for deepening this pool is still tremendous. It is at the molecular scale, however, that we will surely see the greatest expansion of horizons, as structural studies and single-molecule experiments reveal the mechanics of biomolecules. If any reminder were still needed that nanotechnology should not seek to shrink mechanical engineering, cogs and all, to the molecular scale, it is found here. Nature’s wheel -- the rotary motor of the bacterial flagellum -- never got any larger than this, nor is it fashioned from hard, wear-resistant materials, nor is driven electromagnetically or by displacement of a piston. But it is efficient, fast, linear and reversible. Somewhere there is a lesson in that." (Philip Ball, “Life’s lessons in design,” Nature, Vol. 409: 413-416 (2001).)
- "Imagine that on the early Earth, a complete system of catalytic and information-bearing molecules happened by chance to come together in a tide pool that was sufficiently concentrated to produce the equivalent of the contents of our flask. We could model this event in the laboratory by gently disrupting a live bacterial culture, subjecting it to a sterilizing filtration step, and adding the mixture to the flask of nutrient broth. No living cells are present, but entire bacterial genomes are available, together with ribosomes, membranous vesicles, ATP and other energy-containing substrates, and thousands of functional enzymes. Once again, would a living system arise under these conditions? Although Kauffman might be optimistic about the possibilities, most experimentalists would guess that little would happen other than slow, degradative reactions of hydrolysis, even though virtually the entire complement of molecules associated with the living state is present. The dispersion has lost the extreme level of order characteristic of cytoplasm in contemporary living cells. Equally important is that the ATP would be hydrolyzed in seconds, so that the system still lacks a continuous source of free energy to drive the metabolism and polymerization reactions associated with life." (David W. Deamer, “The First Living Systems: a Bioenergetic Perspective,” Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, Vol. 61 (2): 239-261 (1997).)
- "The fact that an estimated one third of the essential set of genes in this minimal genome are of undefined function is an important result that has at least two potential interpretations. First, it draws dramatically into question a basic assumption held by many biologists that the fundamental mechanisms and functions underlying cellular life have for the most part been identified and well characterized. If approximately 100 genes in the simplest functioning cell are of unknown function and are essential to basic cellular processes, this assumption becomes quite dubious....we have much work to do before we can claim to have a clear understanding of even the simplest cell and its functions." (Scott N. Peterson and Claire M. Fraser, “The complexity of simplicity,” Genome Biology, Vol. 2: 1-7 (2001).)
- "Unfortunately, catalytic reactions of the required type in aqueous solution are virtually unknown; there is no reason to believe, for example, that any intermediate of the citric acid cycle would specifically catalyze any reaction of the citric acid cycle. The explanation of this is simple: noncovalent interactions between small molecules in aqueous solution are generally too weak to permit large and regiospecific catalytic accelerations [of the type required by living systems]. To postulate one fortuitously catalyzed reaction, perhaps catalyzed by a metal ion, might be reasonable, but to postulate a suite of them is to appeal to magic."
"The novel, potentially replicating polymers that have described up to now, like the nucleic acids, are formed by joining together relatively complex monomeric units. It is hard to see how any could have accumulated on the early earth. A plausible scenario for the origin of life must, therefore, await the discovery of a genetic polymer simpler than RNA and an efficient, potentially prebiotic, synthetic route to the component monomers. The suggestion that relatively pure, complex organic molecules might be made available in large amounts via a self-organizing, autocatalytic cycle might, in principle, help to explain the origin of the component monomers. I have emphasized the implausibility of the suggestion that complicated cycles could self-organize, and the importance of learning more about the potential of surfaces to help organize simpler cycles." (Leslie E. Orgel, “Self-organizing biochemical cycles,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 97 (23): 12503-12507 (2000).)
- "A rather large number (n) of different polypeptide sequences seems to be required for the imagined functioning of these autocatalytic protein nets (Kauffman 1986). A higher-level analogy of the side-reaction plague readily arises. Calculations of probabilities about such systems always assume that a protein may or may not catalyse a given legitimate reaction in the system but that it would not catalyse harmful side reactions. This is obviously an error. Hence the paradox of specificity strikes again -- the feasibility of autocatalytic attractor sets seems to require a large number of component types (high n), whereas the plague of side reactions calls for small systems (low n). No satisfactory solution of this problem has yet been given."
"There is an important precondition for successful replication of all molecular replicators--the environment must contain the right raw materials. This sounds trivial, but in fact it is not. Consider the case of RNA replication. This needs activated ribonucleotides of the right conformation. One can imagine (and in fact synthesize) mirror images of the currently used nucleotides. An RNA molecule would not be able to replicate in a medium consisting of a mixture of the left and right mirror-image nucleotides. This obstacle to prebiotic replication is called “enantiomeric cross-inhibition” (Joyce et al. 1987). Replication needs the right raw materials in the environment of the replicator. For contemporary nucleic acids this environment is highly evolved -- it is the cytoplasm of the cell, maintained to a large extent by the phenotypic effects of the genes themselves on the “vehicles” (Dawkins 1976) or “interactors” (Hull 1980) in which they are embedded and replicated."
"A common criterion for the replication process is that the two strands (template and copy) must spontaneously separate. Since they are held together by hydrogen bonds (also necessary for replication) the strands cannot be too long or otherwise they would stick together for too long a time. Long pieces of nucleic acids can be replicated in the cell because enzymes of the replicase complex also ensure the unwinding of the strands -- this cannot be assumed in non-enzymatic [prebiotic] systems." (Eörs Szarthmáry, “The evolution of replicators,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Vol. 355: 1669-1676 (2000).)
- "However, the macromolecule-to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions, which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis. In this area all is conjecture. The available facts do not provide a basis for postulating that cells arose on this planet."
"This is not to say that some paraphysical forces were at work. We simply wish to point out the fact that there is no scientific evidence. The physicist has learned to avoid trying to specify when time began and when matter was created, except within the framework of frank speculation. The origin of the precursor cell appears to fall into the same category of unknowables."
(Dr. David Green [Biochemist] and Robert F. Goldberger, in Molecular Insights into the Living Process, pages 406-407 (New York: Academic Press, 1967).)
- "Another evolutionary principle is therefore needed to take us across the gap from mixtures of simple natural chemicals to the first effective replicator. This principle has not yet been described in detail or demonstrated, but it is anticipated, and given names such as chemical evolution and self-organization of matter. The existence of the principle is taken for granted in the philosophy of dialectical materialism, as applied to the origin of life by Alexander Oparin." (Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Sceptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, page 207 (New York: Summit Books, 1986).)
- "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." (Leslie Orgel, "The origin of life -- a review of facts and speculations," Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Vol. 23: 491-495 (Dec 1998).)
- "Living systems are designed to thrive and replicate in the surrounding environment. Typically several hundred to several thousand reactions proceed simultaneously in the confines of a living cell. The most distinctive feature of living systems is that all the reactions serve a purpose, the maintenance and propagation of the system. Collectively, the processes involved are referred to as the system's metabolism. When new biochemical reactions are discovered, we try to see what role they play in metabolic functioning. Just as frequently, we start with the hypothesis that in light of a known function, a certain reaction must exist, and this conviction gives the impetus that leads to discovery of that reaction" (Geoffrey Zubay, "Origins of Life on the Earth and in the Cosmos," page 107 (Harcourt publishers).)
- "The exact chemical composition of the wall varies from species to species and from one cell type to another in the same plant, but the basic design of the wall is consistent. Microfibrils made of the polysaccharide cellulose are embedded in a matrix of other polysaccharides and protein. This combination of materials, strong fibers in a "ground substance" (matrix), is the same basic architectural design found in steel-reinforced concrete and in fiberglass." (N.A. Campbell, J.B. Reece, and L.G. Mitchell, Biology, pages 124-125 (5th ed., Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings, 1987).)
- "To have any hope of success the neo-Darwinian theory must therefore appeal to a reproductive model quite different from the model mostly adopted by single-celled organisms. This is already an immense climb down from what is usually claimed for the theory. Gone is its "obvious" status. Only if a model can be found that contrives to uncouple the selective properties of one gene from another, permitting the occasional good mutation to survive and prosper in a sea of bad mutations, can evolution be made to work at all. How exquisitely complex the model needs to be to achieve such a remarkable result will be discussed in the next chapter." (Fred Hoyle [former Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University], Mathematics of Evolution, page 10 (1999, Memphis TN: Acorn Enterprises, 1987).)
- "Why do the sugar molecules in DNA and RNA twist to the right in all known organisms? Similarly, all of the amino acids from which proteins are formed twist to the left. The reason these molecules have such uniform handedness, or 'chirality,' is not known, but there is no shortage of theories on the subject. And, as was clear at a recent meeting on the topic in Los Angeles, there is also no shortage of passion, which is understandable, because the question of homochirality speaks to the mother of all scientific mysteries: the origin of life."
"The meeting participants did agree on one thing: Homochirality--the total predominance of one chiral form, or 'enantiomer'--is necessary for present-day life because the cellular machinery that has evolved to keep organisms alive and replicating, from microorganisms to humans, is built around the fact that genetic material veers right and amino acids veer left."
"One division came over a question that resembles the chicken-or-the-egg riddle: What came first, homochirality or life? Organic chemist William Bonner, professor emeritus at Stanford University, argued that homochirality must have preceded life." (Jon Cohen, "Getting All Turned Around Over the Origins of Life on Earth," Science, Vol. 267: 1265-1266 (March 3, 1995).)
- "The basis for the origin of biomelecular chirality still remains obscure." (William A. Bonner, "Origin and Amplifications of Biomolecular Chirality")
- "In spite of many attempts, there have been no breakthroughs during the past 30 years to help to explain the origin of chirality in living cells." (Dr. Klaus Dose [Director, Institute for Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, West Germany], "The Origin of Life; More Questions than Answers," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13 (4): 348-356 (1988).)
- "Since the time of Louis Pasteur, the origin of optical activity in biological systems has attracted a great deal of attention. Two very different questions must be answered. First, why do all amino acids in proteins or all nucleotides in nucleic acids have the same handedness? Secondly, why are the amino acids all left-handed (L-) and the nucleotides all right-handed (D-)? We do not know the answer to either question, but we can make a number of plausible suggestions."
(Leslie E. Orgel, "Darwinism at the Very Beginning of Life," New Scientist, Vol. 94: 149-152 (April 15, 1982).)
- "As researchers continue to examine the RNA-world concept closely, more problems emerge. How did RNA arise initially? RNA and its components are difficult to synthesize in a laboratory under the best of conditions, much less under plausible ones."
"Once RNA is synthesized, it can make new copies of itself only with a great deal of help from the scientist, says Joyce of the Scripps Clinic, an RNA specialist. "It is an inept molecule," he explains, "especially when compared with proteins." Leslie E. Orgel of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, who has probably done more research exploring the RNA-world scenario than any other scientist, concurs with Joyce. Experiments simulating the early stages of the RNA world are too complicated to represent plausible scenarios for the origin of life, Orgel says. "You have to get an awful lot of things right and nothing wrong," he adds."
(John Horgan, "In the Beginning", Scientific American, Vol. 264: 119 ( February 1991).)
- "This scenario [origins of RNA-world] could have occured, we noted, if prebiotic RNA had two properties not evident today: A capacity to replicate without the help of proteins and an ability to catalyze every step of protein synthesis." (Leslie E. Orgel, "The Origin of Life on the Earth", Scientific American, Vol. 271: 78 (October 1994).)
- "We hypothesize that the origin of life, that is, the origin of the first cell, cannot be explained by natural selection among self-replicating molecules, as is done by the RNA-world hypothesis. To circumvent the chicken and egg problem associated with semantic closure of the cell--no replication of information molecules (nucleotide strands) without functional enzymes, no functional enzymes without encoding in information molecules--a prebiotic evolutionary process is proposed that, from the informational point of view, must somehow have resembled the current scientific process." (M. Vaneechoutte, "The Scientific Origin of Life: Considerations on the Evolution of Information, Leading to an Alternative Proposal for Explaining the Origin of the Cell, a Semantically Closed System," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 901: 139 (2000).)
Information and Intelligent Design
- "...An intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn't the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence." (Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley and Robert L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin, Reassessing Current Theories, pages 211-212 (New York Philosophical Library 1984).)
- "How came the Bodies of Animals to be contrived with so much Art, and for what ends were their several parts? Was the Eye contrived without Skill in Opticks, and the Ear without Knowledge of Sounds? ... And these things being rightly dispatch'd, does it not appear from Phaenomena that there is a Being incorporeal, living, intelligent omnipresent..." (Sir Isaac Newton, Opticks, pages 369-370 (1952, Dover Publications, 1704).)
- "Evidently nature can no longer be seen as matter and energy alone. Nor can all her secrets be unlocked with the keys of chemistry and physics, brilliantly successful as these two branches of science have been in our century. A third component is needed for any explanation of the world that claims to be complete. To the powerful theories of chemistry and physics must be added a late arrival: a theory of information. Nature must be interpreted as matter, energy, and information." (Jeremy C. Campbell [Journalist], Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life, page 16 (1984, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1982).)
- "The meaning, if any, of words, that is, a sequence of letters, is arbitrary. It is determined by the natural language and is not a property of the letters or their arrangement ... For example, "O singe fort!" has no meaning as a sentence in English, although each is an English word, yet in German it means, "O sing on!" and in French it means "O strong monkey". Like all messages, the life message is non-material but has an information content measurable in bits and bytes." (Hubert Yockey, "Information in Bits and Bytes," BioEssays, Vol. 17: 85 (1995).)
- "[t]he information contained in the genetic code, like all information or messages, is not made of matter ... The meaning is not a property of the arrangement of the symbols or alphabet of the code. The message or meaning in the genetic code is non-material and cannot be reduced to a physical or chemical property." (Dean L. Overman, "A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization" (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997).)
- "The implications are immediate for the issue of evolution. The evolutionary assumption that the exceedingly complex linguistic structures which comprise the construction blueprints and operating manuals for all the complicated chemical nanomachinery and sophisticated feedback control mechanisms in even the simplest living organism simply must have a materialistic explanation is fundamentally wrong. But how then does one account for symbolic language as the crucial ingredient from which all living organisms develop and function and manifest such amazing capabilities? The answer should be obvious-an intelligent Creator is unmistakably required." (John Baumgardner [Geophysicist, Los Alamos National Labs], From "Highlights of the Los Alamos Origins Debate")
- "No currently existing formal language can tolerate random changes in the symbol sequences which express its sentences. Meaning is invariably destroyed." (M. Eden, "Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory", from "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution," at the Wistar Institute Symposium, page 11 (Philadelphia, Wistar Institute Press, 1967), Cited by Wysong, ref , p. 107.)
- "Any living being possesses an enormous amount of "intelligence," very much more than is necessary to build the most magnificent of cathedrals. Today, this "intelligence" is called "information," but it is still the same thing. It is not programmed as in a computer, but rather it is condensed on a molecular scale in the chromosomal DNA or in that of any other organelle in each cell. This "intelligence" is the sine qua non of life. If absent, no living being is imaginable. Where does it come from? This is a problem which concerns both biologists and philosophers and, at present, science seems incapable of solving it."
"When we consider a human work, we believe we know where the `intelligence' which fashioned it comes from; but when a living being is concerned, no one knows or ever knew, neither Darwin nor Epicurus, neither Leibniz nor Aristotle, neither Einstein nor Parmenides. An act of faith is necessary to make us adopt one hypothesis rather than another. Science, which does not accept any credo, or in any case should not, acknowledges its ignorance, its inability to solve this problem which, we are certain, exists and has reality. If to determine the origin of information in a computer is not a false problem, why should the search for the information contained in cellular nuclei be one?" (Pierre-Paul Grasse [Editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie," former Chair of Evolution, Sorbonne University and ex-president of the French Academie des Sciences], Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation, page 2 (1977, New York, NY: Academic Press, 1973).)
- "Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter. I address this problem in my 1992 book, Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges. These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term "reductionism." You can speak of galaxies and particles of dust in the same terms, because they both have mass and charge and length and width. You can't do that with information and matter. Information doesn't have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn't have bytes. You can't measure so much gold in so many bytes. It doesn't have redundancy, or fidelity, or any of the other descriptors we apply to information. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms. The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it's not the message. Maintaining this distinction between the medium and the message is absolutely indispensable to clarity of thought about evolution." (G.C. Williams [Member of the National Academy of Sciences], "A Package of Information," in J. Brockman ed., The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution, page 43 (Simon & Schuster, 1995).)
- "All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter." (Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, page 107, 141 (Bielefeld, Germany, CLV).)
- "It is perhaps clear to the reader that the genetic system is, in principle, isomorphic with communication systems designed by communications engineers. As a matter of fact, genetical systems have historical priority since organisms have been using the principles of information theory and coding theory for at least 3.8 x 109 years!" (Hubert P. Yockey [Physicist, Army Pulse Radiation Facility, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, USA], Information Theory and Molecular Biology, page 7 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992).)
- "Things get rapidly worse when we use longer messages. We will let Charlie try for a bit of Hamlet. The phrase "to be or not to be" has 18 characters, if we count the spaces as characters. The chances that our chimp will type this out are 1 in 4518, or 1 in 6 x 109. At one try per second, it will take poor Charlie more than 1022 years to do that number of tries. Should the open model for the universe be correct, Charlie will still be typing away long after the stars have ceased to shine and all the planets have been dispersed into space through stellar near-collisions." (Robert Shapiro [Professor of Chemistry, New York University], Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Origin of Life, page 169 (New York NY: Summit Books, 1986).)
- "In the natural world, there are many pattern-assembly systems for which there is no simple explanation. There are useful scientific explanations for these complex systems, but the final patterns that they produce are so heterogeneous that they cannot effectively be reduced to smaller or less intricate predecessor components. As I will argue in Chapters 7 and 8, these patterns are, in a fundamental sense, irreducibly complex..."
"For some natural phenomena ... there simply is no reduction to smaller predecessors. In these cases, the companion rule to ‘order stems from order’ is that ‘complexity stems from complexity.’”
"...the unique characteristics of organisms are pattern characteristics. The first of these fundamental pattern characteristics is complexity. Cells and organisms are quite complex by all pattern criteria. They are built of heterogeneous elements arranged in heterogeneous configurations, and they do not self-assemble. One cannot stir together the parts of a cell or of an organism and spontaneously assemble a neuron or a walrus: to create a cell or an organism one needs a preexisting cell or a preexisting organism, with its attendant complex templets. A fundamental characteristic of the biological realm is that organisms are complex patterns, and, for its creation, life requires extensive, and essentially maximal, templets."
"Today’s organisms are fabricated from preexisting templets -- the templets of the genome and the remainder of the ovum [egg] -- and these templets are, in turn, derived from other, parent organisms. The astronomical time scale of evolution, however, adds a dilemma to this chain-of-templets explanation: the evolutionary biologist presumes that once upon a time organisms appeared when there were no preexisting organisms. But, if all organisms must be templeted, then what were the primordial inanimate templets, and whence came those templets?"
"Self-assembly does not fully explain the organisms that we know; contemporary organisms are quite complex, they have a special and an intricate organization that would not occur spontaneously by chance. The ‘universal laws’ governing the assembly of biological materials are insufficient to explain our companion organisms: one cannot stir together the appropriate raw materials and self-assemble a mouse. Complex organisms need further situational constraints and, specifically, they must come from preexisting organisms. This means that organisms -- at least contemporary organisms -- must be largely templeted." (Michael J. Katz, Templets and the Explanation of Complex Patterns, pages 26-27, 83, 90 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).)
- "High school textbooks used to make a big point about the materials that make up the human body being worth about 97 cents. Yale molecular biologist, Harold J. Morowitz got out a biochemical company's catalog and added up the cost of the synthesized materials, such as hemoglobin and came up with a six million-dollar man ($6,000,015.44) to be exact).
"Professor Morowitz's calculations drive home a more important point, however--that 'information is more expensive than matter.' What the biochemical companies offer is simply the highest 'informational' (most organized) state of materials commercially available. And even these are mostly taken from living animals; if synthesis of all the compounds offered had been done from basic elements, their cost might be as high as $6 billion."
"The logical extreme of the exercise, obviously, is that science is nowhere near getting close to synthesizing a human. Just to take the next step of organization--the organelle level--would cost perhaps $6 trillion." (Harold J. Morowitz, "The Six Million-Dollar Man," Science News (July 31, 1976).)
- "The most elementary type of cell constitutes a 'mechanism' unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed, by man."
(W. H. Thorpe [Evolutionist scientist], in W. R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited, pages 298-299 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Co., 1991).)
- "Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which - a functional protein or gene - is complex beyond ... anything produced by the intelligence of man?" (Michael Denton [Molecular biologist], Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, page 342 (London: Burnett Books, 1985).)
- "And in man is a three-pound brain which, as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe." (Isaac Asimov [Professor of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine; internationally known author], "In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can't Even Break Even,"Smithsonian Institute Journal, page 10 (June 1970).)
- "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." (Richard Dawkins [Atheist, Zoologist, and Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Oxford University], The Blind Watchmaker, page 1 (1991 reprint, London: Penguin, 1986).)
- "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved." (F.H.C. Crick [Co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, Nobel laureate 1962, Professor at the Salk Institute, USA], What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery, page 138 (1990, London: Penguin Books, 1988).)
- "The post-reductionist era has been with us for some time, and cell biologists are now accomplished reconstructionists, building pictures of cellular structures from proteins identified through biochemistry and genetics. Understanding the beauty of cellular structures requires a knowledge of their inner architecture and engineering."
"The complexity of Millennium domes, Eiffel towers, and 'Ferris wheels' are likely just pale reflections of life at the heart of the cell." (Paul Ko Ferrigno, "The Nano-Scale Architecture of the Nucleus", Trends in Cell Biology, Vol. 10: 366 (2000).)
- "The simplest bacteria is so damn complicated from the point of view of a chemist that it is almost impossible to imagine how it [the natural chemical origins of life] happened." (Harold P. Klein [Chairman of NAS origin-of-life research committee, Santa Clara University], in John Horgan "In the Beginning," Scientific American, page 120 (February 1991).)
- "It is possible to make a more fundamental distinction between living and nonliving things by examining their molecular structure and molecular behavior. In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple, well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity." (Leslie E. Orgel [Late Biochemist and Former Resident Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological Studies], The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection, page 189 (London: Chapman & Hall, 1973).)
- “Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity. To comprehend fully how life arose from non-life, we need to know not only how biological information was concentrated, but also how biologically useful information came to be specified.” (Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle)
- "We have repeatedly emphasized the fundamental problems posed for the biologist by the fact of life's complex organization. We have seen that organization requires work for its maintenance and that the universal quest for food is in part to provide the energy needed for this work. But the simple expenditure of energy is not sufficient to develop and maintain order. A bull in a china shop performs work, but he neither creates nor maintains organization. The work needed is particular work; it must follow specifications; it requires information on how to proceed." (George Gaylord Simpson [Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University] and William S. Beck [Harvard University], Life: An Introduction To Biology, page 466 (2nd ed., London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957).)
- "But let us have no illusions. If today we look into situations where the analogy of the life sciences is the most striking--even if we discovered within biological systems some operations distant from the state of equilibria--our research would still leave us quite unable to grasp the extreme complexity of the simplest of organisms." (Ilya Prigogine, Professor and Director of the Physics Department, Universite Libre de Bruxelles), "Can Thermodynamics Explain Biological Order?," Impact of Science on Society, Vol. 23 (3): 178 (1973).)
- "But the level of sophistication within the 'simplest' living cell goes far beyond this. We need to think in terms of what modern engineers call high technology. A spade is an example of low technology. To function for digging a garden all that a spade requires is a 'willing' and hard working gardener, to take it up and use it; the spade's function to turn over the earth is so fulfilled. But after finishing the digging, the gardener decides to relax by going for a drive in the car. All that is required is to sit at the wheel, operate the starter and move forwards. The car represents high technology; it contains many components which function together, for example a steering wheel, road wheels, internal combustion engine, fuel system, ignition system, etc. Each of these components is interesting and requires skill to make, but each has no meaning in terms of function by itself unlike the spade whose function is complete in itself. This interdependency of parts is what is meant by high technology.... As we encounter high technology, in the articles we use everyday, we immediately think in terms of engineering design."
"The above brief summary of some of the key features of a living cell may have given an inkling of the level of complexity and coordination that exists in the smallest known independent organisms. The degree of sophistication seen already at the level of individual molecules within the cell can be truly astonishing. The earliest known organisms on earth were able to obtain energy, produce protein membranes, etc., grow and multiply, utilising only simple constituents from the inorganic world, the cradle of life. This is already seen at the first stage of energy uptake, in the 'fine tuning' of the chlorophyll molecule which absorbs quanta of light derived from the sun ... The electron so liberated from chlorophyll must have just sufficient energy to enable a carrier molecule FAD to pick up hydrogen atoms. This carrier molecule passes on its energy to the complicated chemical reactions which finally produce the molecules that carry the essential chemical energy to all parts of the cell, and enable carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to be 'fixed' and used to build up the proteins, etc., based on the key element carbon. If chlorophyll had been so constituted that it absorbed light of slightly longer wavelength, this would not have provided enough energy to enable all the complex reactions needed for life to start within the cell. Alternatively, absorption of shorter wavelength light can damage the delicate chlorophyll molecule itself. So the beautiful `fine tuning' of the chlorophyll molecule recalls to us the Anthropic Principle, already seen in the `fine tuning' of the emerging cosmos (Ch. 2, p. 33f)." (E.J. Ambrose [Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology at the University of London], Mirror of Creation, pages 81-88 (1990).)
- "WÄchtershÄuser brought surface chemistry to the attention of origin-of-life people. No one who thinks about the origins of life thinks about solution chemistry anymore." James Ferris, a chemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, agrees: "The broth was probably much too dilute to bring the chemicals together to react in the first place. A mineral surface is a good way to concentrate the compounds."
“Even with this mounting evidence, some scientists believe that WÄchtershÄuser's theory is too simplistic. "Life is not just chemistry. Life as we know it is based on the passage of genetic information from one generation to the next," says Scripps's Bada. And even scientists who agree with the theme of WÄchtershÄuser's iron-sulfur world say that he skates over the finer chemical details. "The energetics [of WÄchtershÄuser's reactions] are plain wrong," says geochemist Mike Russell of the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre in Glasgow. "Pyrite, for instance, plays no role at all. I don't consider any of his stuff significant except his [synthesis of activated acetic acid] in 1997." Acetic acid and pyruvate, adds RPI's Ferris, "are still pretty simple compounds. The real question is how do you build more complex biomolecules."
(Science, Vol. 295: 2006-2007 (March 15, 2002).)
- “In fact, the nearest aliens might be right here, under our noses, even in our noses. This seems like a startling heresy. Since Darwin famously said it was so, all biology texts proclaimed that all earth life came from a single source, that all is united by common ancestry. In other words, ever since Darwin it has been scientific gospel that all life on Earth is the same basic type. No aliens here, thank you! However, we do not know if that is, in fact, true.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “In Rare Earth, Brownlee and I suggested that while the sheer number of stars with their inevitable planets would make the existence of at least some other intelligent civilizations a near inevitability, their probable small numbers would space them apart in the cosmos at such vast distances that it would be unlikely that one intelligent civilization would ever even detect the presence of another, let alone meet it face-to-face or face-to-whatever an alien meets with.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page xxii (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “But critics of the book (and they remain legion!) rightly pointed out a most crucial point, a variation on what is known as the anthropic principle. Rare Earth dealt only with the narrow segment of life, something that could be called earth life, sometimes referred to as life as we know it or DNA life. This type of life, the argument goes, would necessarily require a planet much like Earth for its survival, and all acknowledge that there are probably few exact duplicates of Dear Old Earth. Yet the universe is large and our solar system and the earth are small. The very immensity of the universe, with its myriad galaxies, must allow for an enormous diversity of life, according to those who believe that there are a vast number of aliens and alien civilizations in space. Not diversity of life, and we understand that phrase applied to life on this planet. All biologists agree that there are millions of species on Earth but that all sprang from a single common ancestor and thus are but one type of life: DNA life. Yet it is surely possible that there must be a multitude of types of life differing in their most fundamental properties of chemistry and metabolism. Such life would not have DNA, or perhaps even carbon as a constituent, like the oft-discussed staple of science fiction, silicon life. Such life indeed might be life as we do not know it.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page xxiii (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “How life formed on Earth is indeed one of the great (some say the greatest) scientific mysteries, a problem perhaps even more important than the mystery of how common life is in the universe (indeed, the latter question is an offshoot of the first). There are current two schools of thought concerning this origin of life problem. First, some deity did it. That one cannot be disproved with science, so has no further place in our story here. Second, life formed on Earth (or was transported here, but this just begs the question of where and how it first formed) through some chemical pathway within a specific environment at a specific time. This view has much scientific information to support it.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page xxiv (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “One of the most important messages that I wish to present in this book is that there has been significant progress in the artificial synthesis of life. While pundits routinely pontificate that science will never succeed in creating life from scratch in some equivalent of a test tube, quiet progress on many fronts begs to differ. The question is thus not, can we make life, but should we? Should we make life that has never evolved through natural selection, life using chemistry that is a nose thumb to Darwin? We are in a post-9/11 world, of course, so we have to ask if this new life can be dangerous. Can it be made into a weapon? Can it be made into a tool that does the opposite of weaponry: helps humanity with food, or with pollution control, or in fighting disease? Or should it be done simply to show that life other than that evolved on Earth is indeed possible? What if we could build a life form that could live at -150 degrees Celsius — essentially the temperature found of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn— and thus demonstrate that life could indeed live in these cold freezers of the solar system? That would prove that life could live in such cold places, and we would be ready to look for it. These would really be aliens. That is something I wake up worrying about, in the dark of the early morning, the time of nightmares, for I am working toward the construction of such aliens. What if it mutates, takes over the Arctic, then spreads south toward the winter of our populated world? Should scientists play God, even if it is a Jack Frost god?” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page xxv-xxvi (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Life has complexity and organization. There is no really simple life composed of but a handful (or even a few million) atoms. All life is composed of a great number of atoms arranged in intricate ways. But complexity is not enough; it is organization of this complexity that is a hallmark of life.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 11 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “The Sagan/NASA definition [of life as a chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution] has the advantage of not confusing life with being alive. But there are problems under this definition too. For example, one gender of a species composed of two sexes cannot undergo Darwinian evolution and is therefore not alive. But there is a final note of interest about the NASA definition. If we accept it, it means that scientists we meet in pages to come (specifically Harvard biologist Jack Szostak and his many confederates) have already created life in a test tube because they have succeeded in making short RNA molecules, a chemical system, that undergo natural selection.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 13 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “It turns out that almost any microbe that we enter in this way is fabulously complicated, with a lot more machinery than is needed to be alive. If alive is a one-star hotel room in France, then these are not four-star (not that I have ever had that pleasure, sadly); these are hundred-start deluxe Ritz-Carltons. And these are not even the really deluxe models, the multi-cellular examples such as ourselves.” Earth life: first class all the way. (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 15 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “We have only to look at the moon to be reminded of how peppered the earth and its oceans were during the period of heavy impact, between 4.4 and 3.9 billion years ago. Each successive large-impact event (caused by comets as large as 500 kilometers in diameter) would have partially or even completely vaporized the oceans. Imagine the scene as viewed from outer space: the fall of a large comet or asteroid, the flash of energy, the vaporization of the earth’s planet-covering ocean, to be replaced by a planet-smothering cloud of water vapor and rock-filled steam heated (at least for some decades or centuries) far above the boiling point of liquid water. It is difficult to conceive of life, whatever its forms, surviving anywhere on the planet during such times, unless that survival occurred deep underground.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 29 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “NASA scientists have completed mathematical models of such ocean-evaporating impact events. The collision of 500-kilometer-diameter body with the earth results in a cataclysm almost unimaginable. Huge regions of the earth’s rocky surface is vaporized, creating a cloud of superhearted “rock gas” or vapors several thousands degrees in temperature. It is these vapors in the atmosphere that cause the entire ocean to evaporate into steam. Cooling by radiation into space would take place, but a new ocean would not rain out for at least several thousand years after the event. Much of the revolutionary detective work behind these conclusions was described in 1989 by Stanford University Scientists Norman Sleep, who realized that impacts of such large asteroids or comets could evaporate a ten-thousand-foot-deep ocean, sterilizing the surface of the earth in the process.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, pages 29-30 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Composed of two backbones (the famous double helix described by its discoverers James Watson and Francis Crick), this complex molecule is the information storage system of life itself, the “software” that runs all of earth life’s hardware. These two spirals are bound together by a series of projections, like steps on a ladder, made up of distinctive DNA bases or base pairs: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The term base pair comes from the fact that the bases always join up. Cytosine always pairs with guanine, and thymine always joins with adenine. The order of base pairs supplies the language of life. These are the genes that code for all information about a particular life form.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 34 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “There are four kinds of RNA, which Freeman Dyson (in his Origins of Life) has analogized with the hardware and software of a computer system. DNA is clearly always software, and proteins are usually hardware (with the notable exception of prions and the possibility that ancient organisms used proteins as genetic code, making it software). RNA has the interesting characteristic of being either hardware or software and, in some cases, both at the same time. RNA occurs in the world in four different forms with four different functions. First, in some viruses there is genomic RNA which acts like DNA in storing genetic information and containing genes. In the AIDs virus, RNA makes up the entire genome. In this case, the RNA acts as software. Second, there is ribosomal RNA a structural part of ribosomes, the tiny organelles within cells that make proteins. This is the case of RNA clearly acting as software. This is a case of RNA clearly acting as software. Third there is transfer RNA, the hod carrier that takes amino acids to ribosomes for protein synthesis, and as a material conveyor it is hardware. Finally, there is the most interesting of all the RNAs, messenger RNA, which conveys instructions to the ribosome from the genomic DNA. In this it acts as software, but it has been shown that it can also act as a catalyst for both protein formation and for its own splitting and spicing, and thus acts and software and hardware at the same time.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It pages 34-35 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “DNA provided the answers to many of the mysteries of genetics, answering the question, once and for all, about what a gene is. Watson and Crick made the great discovery, one that launched an enormous revolution in biology, and it was announced in a paper in the journal Nature that was a single page long. Their finding was actually a model, not an experimental result, but the model had enormous predictive power. It became clear that a gene is made of DNA and that one gene makes one protein. Watson and Crick proposed that one-half of the DNA ladder serves as a template for re-creating the other half during replication. Each gene is a discrete sequence of DNA nucleotides, with each “word” in the genetic code being three letters long.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 35 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “So how does DNA specify a particular protein? A typical protein might be made up of a hundred to more than five hundred amino acids, and thus its gene, the sequence of nucleotides coding for the protein on the DNA strand (since the string of amino acids that make up the protein are coded on the DNA strand), will be composed of a hundred to five hundred or more sets of “steps” on the DNA ladder. These are arranged in linear order along the DNA strand, like letters in a sentence. And like a sentence, there will be spaces and punctuation as well (like stop!). The RNA slaves grab these and take them to a ribosome, where the actual protein is constructed. So, earth life has DNA and RNA, has a specific code, and uses tiny structures in the cell called ribosomes to make another characteristic of earth life, proteins.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 37 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “We live on a planet with millions of species. If they just appeared through some sort of divine creation, we would expect a lot of unrelated forms. But anyone can see that species form groups: dogs and wolves, house cats and lions, zebra fish and sharks, and on and on. We now know why there are such groups: Forms related through an evolutionary lineage almost always resemble one another more than they do other evolutionary lineages.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 42 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Defining this group will prove very controversial, and were scientists likely to band in private clubs, this definition would get me excluded from many. Most workers in this field are very passionate about the taxonomy of life (and their favorite group) and there will be many who just hate the thought of anyone overturning the heavily-burdened apple cart. Besides there is a well-established hierarchy in this field full of Nobel laureates, and astrobiologists coming from left field with such a radical (but necessary and correct!) proposal should be vigorously snubbed. However, I believe that there are very good reasons to make this proposal, and much scientific precedent, to include both these groups in this newly defined taxonomy of earth life.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 56 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “To do justice to a handbook of alien biology, which this chapter aspires to be, we need a bit more detail. A handy way of covering the necessary bases can be gleaned in any biology book. Perusing the table of contents from the text used at my university in its freshman biology course, one can quickly see what alien life would need, based on what our own familiar life would need. But first, we should ask, is there any science in studying something that has not ever been observed.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 59 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “John Baross, UW, points out that the biggest obstacle to understanding what life could be is that we do not yet understand the origin of life on Earth. Until we do, it will be hard to understand accurately how life might form under different conditions from those attending life’s formation on Earth—if it did form here at all instead of arriving via airmail from some other site or origin. Perhaps the biggest problem stemming from origin uncertainties relates to biochemistry. Until we can understand the full range of the biochemistry of carbon-based life, we will not be able to arrive at a vigorous and scientific study of the possibilities of life.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, pages 59-60 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Liquid and life. We know of one chemistry that works, and anyone suggesting that carbon-based chemistry is the only way to make life is lambasted, in spite of the fact that there has never been a working alternative presented in any detail (to be fair, there is still no mathematical or even chemical expression of our kind of life that takes into account all its complexity and workings).” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 64 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Perhaps the simplest way to change DNA would be to change its code or alphabet. There is no a priori reason that the current base triplet has to be specific for the amino acid it now codes for. Another simple change is to add more letters into the alphabet, and several groups have done this. Steve Benner did this a decade ago by making a code that had twelve bases per letter. The four traditional bases of the DNA ladder-adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine (ATCG)—were still used. But instead of a sequence of three, or triplet, being specific for each amino acid, a sequence of twelve was used.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, pages 90-92 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- "Amazingly, one of the major criticisms of RNA life, one of the alternate life-forms introduced in the last chapter and the hypothesized last common ancestor of all DNA life, is because it probably did not exist because it would have been impossible to build RNA through natural chemical processes. Paul Davies notes: “As far as biochemists can see, it is a long and difficult road to produce efficient RNA replicators from scratch.... The conclusion has to be that without a trained organic chemist on hand to supervise, nature would be struggling to make RNA from a dilute soup under any plausible prebiotic condition.” Once RNA has been synthesized, the path toward life is open because RNA can eventually produce DNA. But how the first RNA came into existence—under what conditions and in what environments—became the central problem facing chemists. As Nobel laureate Christian de Duve notes in his book, there just seemed no way to see how RNA could come about naturally: “We must now face the chemical problems raised by the abiotic synthesis of an RNA molecule. These problems are far from trivial.” "(Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 67 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- ”The very difficulty of making RNA has led several scientists working on this problem to suggest that life may have begun with some alternative to RNA, which was then later taken over by RNA when a lot of the “heavy lifting” in life’s synthesis from inorganic to organic was over. The more delicate RNA and DNA molecules were later substituted in. The problem is temperature: in elevated temperature, RNA and DNA quickly fall apart. So much for all that dinosaur DNA in the Jurassic Park movies. You cannot make amber unless you cook it in the oven of geological time, and any enclosed DNA is cooked to something else in short order. It is not just elevated temperatures that create problems for synthesizing life from inorganic components. I have already extolled the virtues of water as a solvent, virtually canonizing this substance as something that most life probably needs if it is going to be life. But for the creation of RNA and DNA life, water seems no more friendly to most of the organic components making up earth life than it did to the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz; for both, it dissolves things in a very nasty fashion. While water is a necessary ingredient for many amino acids, the very characteristic so useful in maintaining existing life, its ability to dissolve compounds readily, works against it. The bases making up the ladder of DNA and the steps of RNA are chemically transformed by water, and many polypeptides (long carbon chains necessary for building the framework of cells) will dissolve into their constituent amino acids. Water is no less fierce for those all-start molecules DNA and RNA; parts of both molecules will break apart in water, requiring a constant input of energy to stop this destruction. Is there a way around this? The problem seemed intractable until even a few years ago, but luckily a new recipe using borax soap (of all things) has become available. The major trouble is that there are many steps in making RNA, and each step would require different conditions or a different chemical environment. Our poor forming RNA molecule would have to be expressed mailed from place to place on earth, going from one site to another. Not too likely, said the gurus. And it is not only the problem of getting to RNA, even how to arrive at one of its major components, the sugar ribose, which is the R of RNA. The brilliant biochemist Antonio Laczcano has described this problem thusly: “The RNA-world model confronts several serious challenges, including the lack of a plausible primitive abiotic mechanism to account for the formation and accumulation of ribose.” If even making the sugar of the far more complex molecule we call RNA is so difficult, what is the chance that nature would stumble onto the hugely complex molecule itself? So such pessimism must mean the problem of RNA’s original formation is intractable. Happily, new work suggests that is not the case.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, page 93 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “The cook who perfected this dish, or at least the most promising solution to how RNA could form on a planet or moon, is Steve Benner, of the University of Florida, whom we have met already in these pages, and who is hereby awarded the title Master Chef of RNA. Benner came at this problem from a chemist’s point of view. But he is not your ordinary chemist. He knows his minerals, and his key insight was that certain mineral groups surely present on the early earth in environments where RNA could have first formed paved the way for ribose formation, the key ingredient of RNA. Ribose is very unstable and reverts to a brown tar unless it is kept cold. Tar is of no use in the formation of life, but ribose is. What happens to all sugars in general, and the sugar ribose in particular, is all too apparent to anyone (like me) who has tried to bake a cake but left it in the oven too long. Eventually the cake becomes asphalt, to use a metaphor from Benner himself. Sugar turns into something quiet unpleasant under heat. So a major problem is that ribose and electrical sparks, presumably the energy source of the early earth, are not compatible. While an almighty lightning storm energized Frankenstein’s monster in the eponymously named movie, it would not help in this case. But RNA did originate in some natural fashion, unless it fell from space to Earth already formed, but that just passes the problem back in time and elsewhere in space.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, pages 93-94 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Benner found that in the presence of borate, simpler organic molecules that are common both on Earth and in space (on comets, for example) combine to form complex sugars, including ribose. Here was a way to make the stuff. Soon Benner found that other borates, minerals such as ulexite and kernite, also function to preserve the structure of ribose under heat conditions that, without the borates, would turn the ribose to tar. A doorway of understanding was opened. It is no longer unthinkable to imagine the formation of nucleic acids in high-temperature environments. This work was published in early 2004 and is still in its infancy. Benner and his group may have solved the single biggest hurdle to elucidating the recipe for Terran life. So, say that we have made some RNA and have set it aside for later, grander cooking. Now what recipe might we use to get to life itself, if we assume that a naked strand of any old RNA is not alive, a debatable concept in some circles? Let’s move on to a more grandiose recipe.” (Peter Ward, Life as We Do Not Know It, pages 94-95 (Viking Press, 2005).)
- “Despite substantial effort by multiple investigators, however, formation of the basic building blocks of RNA has not been achievable in a Miller-Urey type of experiment, nor has a fully self-replicating RNA been possible to design.” (Francis Collins, The Language of God, page 91)
- "The origin of eukaryotes is one of the major challenges in evolutionary cell biology. No intermediates between prokaryotes and eukaryotes have been found, and the steps leading to eukaryotic endomembranes and endoskeleton are poorly understood." (Albert D. G. de Roos, “The Origin of the Eukaryotic Cell Based on Conservation of Existing Interfaces,” Artificial Life, Vol. 12: 513–523 (2006).)
- "The late biologist Gerald Soffen, who oversaw the life-seeking experiments carried out by NASA's Viking probes to Mars, once outlined the early milestones in the evolution of living processes: development of organic compounds, self-replication of those compounds, appearance of cells isolating the compounds from their environment, photosynthesis enabling cells to use the sun's energy, and the assembly of DNA. "It's hard to imagine how these things could have happened," Soffen told me before his death in 2000. "Once you reach the point of a single-cell organism with genes, evolution takes command. But the early leaps — they're very mysterious." (Gregg Easterbrook, "The New Convergence," Wired Magazine (December 2002).)
- "Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare's plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true." (Sir Fred Hoyle, Evolution from Space, pages 27-28, originally from the Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London (January 12th, 1982).)
- "My friend Willy Fowler and I discovered almost three decades ago that the existence of carbonaceous life depends on the fine-tuning of two so-called energy levels, one in the carbon nucleus, the other in the oxygen nucleus. If either were shifted only minimally, the balance of carbon and oxygen on which life depends, would be destroyed, for the reason that carbon and oxygen would not then be synthesized in appropriate proportions inside stars….My opinion has always been that the fine-tuning…is an environmental property of physics which could be different at other places and other times within the universe."
(Sir Fred Hoyle, Evolution from Space, page 28, originally from the Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London (January 12th, 1982).)
- "If at our present level of sophistication we were to attempt a new material representation of ourselves, doubtless we would try for a grandiose solution all in one shot, an explicit new creature complete in itself, like the Greek story of Pygmalion, or like novices with a computer who almost invariably get themselves into a tangle by attempting to write a large complex program all in one go. The practised expert on the other hand, builds a large complex computer program from many sub-units, subroutines as they are called. Microorganisms and genetic fragments are the subroutines of biology, existing throughout space in prodigious numbers, riding everywhere on the light pressure of the stars. Because the correct logical procedure is to build upwards from precisely formed subroutines, we on the Earth had to evolve from a seemingly elementary starting point." (Sir Fred Hoyle, Evolution from Space, page 34, originally from the Omni Lecture at the Royal Institution, London (January 12th, 1982).)
- "Where did life come from?... What creates life out of the inanimate compounds that make up living things? No one knows. How were the first organisms assembled? Nature hasn't given us the slightest hint. If anything, the mystery has deepened over time. After all, if life began unaided under primordial conditions in a natural system containing zero knowledge, then it should be possible - it should be easy - to create life in a laboratory today. But determined attempts have failed... no one has come close... Did God or some other higher being create life? ...Until such time as a wholly natural origin of life is found, these questions have power. We're improbable, we're here, and we have no idea why or how." (Gregg Easterbrook, Wired Magazine, page 108 (February 2007).)
- “It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis [that the exact order of symbols records the information] applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.” (Hubert P. Yockey, “Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 91 (1):16 (July 1981).)
- “Even Miller throws up his hands at certain aspects of it. The first step, making the monomers, that’s easy. We understand it pretty well. But then you have to make the first self-replicating polymers. That’s very easy, he says, the sarcasm fairly dripping. Just like it’s easy to make money in the stock market--all you have to do is buy low and sell high. He laughs. Nobody knows how it’s done.” (Peter Radetsky, "How Did Life Start?," Discover Magazine (November 1, 1992).)
- “The entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. . . . Why do we call the large protein assemblies that underlie cell function protein machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts.” (Bruce Alberts, "The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines: Preparing the Next Generation of Molecular Biologists," Cell, Vol. 92: 291 (February 6, 1998).)
- “For years, researchers have tried in vain to synthesize RNA by producing sugars and bases, joining them together, and then adding phosphates. "It just doesn't work," says Sutherland.”" (Carl Zimmer, "On the Origin of Life on Earth," Science, Vol. 323 (5911): 198 - 199 (January 9, 2009).)
- "The thermodynamicist immediately clarifies the latter question by pointing out that the Second Law classically refers to isolated systems which exchange neither energy nor matter with the environment; biological systems are open and exchange both energy and matter....This explanation, however, is not completely satisfying, because it still leaves the problem of how or why the ordering process has arisen (an apparent lowering of the entropy), and a number of scientists have wrestled with this issue. Bertalanffy called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unresolved problems in biology. I would go further and include the problem of meaning and value." (Charles J. Smith, "Problems with Entropy in Biology," Biosystems, Vol. 1: 259-265 (1975).)
- "It is certain that the conceptual connection between information and the second law of thermodynamics is now firmly established." (Tribus, Myron and Edward C. McIrvine, "Energy and Information," Scientific American, Vol. 224: 179-188 (September 1971).)
- "No matter how carefully we examine the energetics of living systems we find no evidence of defeat of thermodynamic principles, but we do encounter a degree of complexity not witnessed in the nonliving world." (Harold F. Blum, Time's Arrow and Evolution, pages 119, 232 (Princeton University Press, 1968).)
- "Others think that there is some process in the universe that spontaneously decreases entropy, some natural process that unshuffles and reorders the cards. We don't know what it can be, perhaps because it takes place under conditions we cannot observe and cannot duplicate in the laboratory--say in the center of exploding galaxies." (Isaac Asimov, "In the Game of Energy and Thermodynamics You Can't Even Break Even," Smithsonian Institute Journal, pages 4-10 (June 1970).)
- "The problem is that the principal evolutionary processes from prebiotic molecules to progenotes have not been proven by experimentation and that the environmental conditions under which these processes occurred are not known. Moreover, we do not actually know where the genetic information of all living cells originates, how the first replicable polynucleotides (nucleic acids) evolved, or how the extremely complex structure-function relationships in modern cells came into existence." (Klaus Dose, "The Origin of Life; More Questions than Answers," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13 (4): 348-356 (1988).)
- "When that event [the future engineering of self sustained RNA systems] takes place, the media probably will announce it as the demonstration of a crucial step in the origin of life. I would agree with one modification. The concept that the scientists are illustrating is one of Intelligent Design. No better term can be applied to a quest in which chemists are attempting to prepare a living system in the laboratory, using all the ingenuity and technical resources at their disposal...the search for ribozymes invokes the same feeling of achievement and beauty in me that I get when I see a skilled golfer playing a difficult course at well under par. To imagine that related events could take place on their own appears as likely as the idea that the golf ball could play its own way around the course without the golfer." (Robert Shapiro, Planetary Dreams, page 102 (1999).)
- "Despite the clarity of his prose, Carl Zimmer has fallen into a trap that has impeded progress in the origin of life field for the last half century. He has confused the process of total organic synthesis with the abiotic chemical reactions that may have taken place on the early Earth. Total synthesis involves the preparation by skilled chemists in laboratories of substances that we isolate from biology. The late Nobel Laureate Robert Burns Woodward was a master of this endeavor... On the early earth, however, there were neither chemists nor laboratories. No driving force has been demonstrated that would direct complex mixtures of organic chemicals of modest size to assemble themselves into a functional RNA. According to Gerald Joyce and the late Leslie Orgel, such an event would constitute a near miracle..." (Robert Shapiro's response to Carl Zimmer, "Origins, a History of Beginnings," Science Vol. 323 (5911): 198-199 (January 9, 2009).)
- "No serious scientist would currently claim that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is at hand." (Francis Collins, The Langauge of God, pages 92-93 (Free Press, 2006).)
- “It has to be true that we really don’t have a clue how life originated on Earth by natural means.” (Massimo Pigliucci, Where Are We Going?, page 196, in Stephen C. Meyer and John Angus Campbell, eds., Darwin Design and Public Education (East Lansing Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 2003).)
- "At some point a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator." (Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, page 15 (Oxford University Press, 1989).)
- "In the replicator-first model, some of these compounds join together in a chain, by chance forming a molecule—perhaps some kind of RNA—capable of reproducing itself." (Robert Shapiro, “A Simpler Origin for Life,” Scientific American (June 2007).)
- "I think genetic information more or less came out of nowhere by chance assemblages of short polymers." (David Deamer [Origin of life theorist], in Susan Mazur, The Altenberg 16: An Expose of the Evolution Industry, page 180 (Scoop Media, 2009).)
- “The cell’s macromolecular machines contain dozens or even hundreds of components. But unlike man-made machines, which are built on assembly lines, these cellular machines assemble spontaneously from their protein and nucleic-acid components. It is as though cars could be manufactured by merely tumbling their parts onto the factory floor.” (Sarah A. Woodson, “Assembly Line Inspection,” Nature, Vol. 438: 566-567 (December 1, 2005).)
- “No geological or geochemical evidence collected in the last 30 years favors a strongly reducing primitive atmosphere… Only the success of the laboratory experiments recommends it.” (R.A. Kerr, “Origin of Life: New Ingredients Suggested.” Science, Vol. 210 (4465): 42 (October 3, 1980).)
- “Since the flagellum is so well designed and beautifully constructed by an ordered assembly pathway, even I, who am not a creationist, get an awe-inspiring feeling from its ‘divine’ beauty.” (S. I. Aizawa, "What is essential for Flagellar Assembly" (2009).)
- “We don't understand ourselves yet … There’s still a metaphysical, magical element … What really astounds me is the architecture of life … The system is extremely complex. It’s like it was designed … There’s a huge intelligence there. I don’t see that as being unscientific. Others may, but not me.” (Tom Abate, “Human Genome Map Has Scientists Talking About the Divine. Surprisingly Low Number of Genes Raises Big Questions,” San Francisco Chronicle (February 19, 2001).)
- “Information in the DNA could no more be reduced to the chemical than could the ideas in a book be reduced to the ink and paper: something beyond physics and chemistry is encoded in DNA.” (Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy)
- "Biological systems, like machines, have, therefore, functions and forms inexplicable by chemical and physical laws. The argument that the DNA molecule determines genetic processes in living systems does not indicate reducibility. A DNA molecule essentially transmits information to a developing cell. Similarly, a book transmits information. But the transmission of the information cannot be represented in terms of chemical and physical principles. In other words, the operation of the book is not reducible to chemical terms. Since DNA operates by transmission of (genetic) information, its function cannot be described by chemical laws either."
“Machines are irreducible to physics and chemistry.”
“By virtue of the principle of boundary control, mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.” (Michael Polanyi, “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry,” Chemical and Engineering News Vol. 45 (35): 21, 54-66 (August 1967).)
- “Bioinformatics has the potential to lead us to novel computing paradigms that may prove far more powerful than the Turing machine-based digital concepts we now use. After all, no human contrivance operates with either the degree of complexity, the precision, or the efficiency of living cells.” (James A. Shapiro, "A 21st Century View of Evolution: Genome System Architecture, Repetitive DNA, and Natural Genetic Engineering," Gene, Vol. 345: 91-100 (2005).)
- "Today biology is revealing the importance of ‘molecular machines’ and of other highly organized molecular structures that carry out the complex physico-chemical processes on which life is based." (Marco Piccolino, “Biological Machines: from Mills to Molecules,” Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Vol. 1: 149-153 (November 2000).)
- “Most cellular functions are executed by protein complexes, acting like molecular machines.” (Thomas Köcher and Giulio Superti-Furga, "Mass Spectrometry-Based Functional Proteomics: from Molecular Machines to Protein Networks," Nature Methods, Vol. 4 (10): 807-815 (October 2007).)
- "From machines we pass to living beings, by remembering that animals move about mechanically and that they have internal organs which perform functions as parts of a machine do - functions which sustain the life of the organism, much as the proper functioning of parts of a machine keeps the machine going. For centuries past, the workings of life have been likened to the working of machines and physiology has been seeking to interpret the organism as a complex network of mechanisms. Organs are, accordingly, defined by their life-preserving functions. Any coherent part of the organism is indeed puzzling to physiology - and also meaningless to pathology - until the way it benefits the organism is discovered. And I may add that any description of such a system in terms of its physical-chemical topography is meaningless, except for the fact that the description covertly may recall the system's physiological interpretation - much as the topography of a machine is meaningless until we guess how the device works, and for what purpose. In this light the organism is shown to be, like a machine, a system which works according to two different principles: its structure serves as a boundary condition harnessing the physical-chemical processes by which its organs perform their functions." (Michael Polanyi, "Life's Irreducible Structure: Live Mechanisms and Information in DNA are Boundary Conditions with a Sequence of Boundaries Above Them," Science, Vol. 160 (3834): 1308-1312 (June 21, 1968).)
- "Bioinformatics has the potential to lead us to novel computing paradigms that may prove far more powerful than the Turing machine-based digital concepts we now use. After all, no human contrivance operates with either the degree of complexity, the precision, or the efficiency of living cells." (James A. Shapiro, “21st Century View of Evolution: Genome System Architecture, Repetitive DNA, and Natural Genetic Engineering,” Gene, Vol. 345 (1): 91–100 (January 17, 2005).)
- “We must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.” (Franklin M. Harold, The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms and the Order of Life, page 205 (Oxford University Press, 2001).)
- “The Origin of Life. This problem is one of the big ones in science. It begins to place life, and us, in the universe. Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth. How? I have no idea.” (George M. Whitesides, “Revolutions In Chemistry: Priestley Medalist George M. Whitesides’ Address,” Chemical and Engineering News, Vol. 85 (13): 12-17 (March 26, 2007).)
- "The problem of origin of life remains one of the central and most intractable problems of modern biology." (Ming-Feng Lu, Hong-Fang Ji, Ting-Xuan Li, Shou-Kai Kang, Yue-Jie Zhang, Jue-Fei Zheng, Tian Tian, Xi-Shuai Jia, Xing-Ming Lin, and Hong-Yu Zhang, "Reconstructing a Flavodoxin Oxidoreductase with Early Amino Acids," International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol. 14: 12843-12852 (2013).)
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