Article

Signature in the Cell: Intelligent Design and the DNA Enigma

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Subsequent discoveries have not been kind to Darwin's estimate. The age of the universe has shrunk from eternity to 13.7 Ga (Komatsu et al. 2010), and the complexity of the first living cell has grown astronomically from the "protoplasm" imagined by Darwin to the complexity of modern biochemistry (Meyer 2009). Despite early evidence of the liquid water environment, a complete set of cellular nanomachines needed for life would require extensive assembly and dynamic initialization (Polanyi 1968). ...
... The counter-counter argument, is that the putative ubiquity of "living" permutations should cause spontaneous generation to be observed frequently, which it hasn't (Pasteur 1861;, 1982, Hoyle 1999. Or it should leave behind a body of alternate forms for these basic proteins and gene coding, which it hasn't (Meyer 2009). Furthermore, a laboratory that randomly permutes enzymes and genomes should frequently produce viable organisms, which also hasn't happened (Barrick et al. 2009). ...
... In this more restricted scientific metaphysics, Aristotle's material causes trump his final causes, and life is to be described by "how" rather than "why." With the discovery by Pasteur that spontaneous generation is highly unlikely, and with the 20th century advances in biochemistry that made spontaneous generation impossible in a finite universe (Meyer 2009), the OOL problem crystallized all the metaphysical objections to materialism that had been raised by Aristotle and subsequent generations of philosophers. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The triumph of Democritean materialism over biology in the 19th century was tempered in the 20th by the discovery that time was not eternal and that life was too complicated to spontaneously organize. This led to the paradox of assuming only material causes for life’s origin while making them practically impossible. We address this 150 year-old origin-of-life (OOL) problem by redefining it as an information threshold that must be crossed. Since Shannon information has too little capacity to describe life, we expand it to include time and correlated information. Generalized to Einstein’s spacetime, we show that information capacity implies information flow, and flows imply an “ether,” a material carrier. From recent discoveries of fossilized microbial life on carbonaceous CI1 meteorites whose D/H ratios, albedo, and elemental abundance are all cometary, we identify the material carrier with comets. With sufficient cometary density, which we hypothesize may be supplied by the missing galactic dark matter, non-linear correlations amplify the probability that comets can assemble life from distributed information sources. If information is conserved, as suggested by many cosmologists, then this distributed information source becomes the boundary condition of the 4-sphere describing the Big Bang. Recent advances in theoretical physics suggest that the assumption of the conservation of information along with the conservation of energy are sufficient to derive Newton’s laws, making materialism a corollary of information, and the OOL a trivial result of imposed Big Bang boundary conditions as transmitted through the cometary hydrosphere.
... For all the familiarity the public presumes to have with DNA and other geneticsrelated topics because of paternity scandals and crime shows on television, it is astonishing how little the general public actually knows (Meyer, 2009). Meyer (2009) says the general public's presumption of knowledge about DNA is misplaced. ...
... For all the familiarity the public presumes to have with DNA and other geneticsrelated topics because of paternity scandals and crime shows on television, it is astonishing how little the general public actually knows (Meyer, 2009). Meyer (2009) says the general public's presumption of knowledge about DNA is misplaced. Despite a belief that they know what DNA is, they lack any real exposure to (or understanding of) the true depths and complexities of DNA and the information it stores (Meyer, 2009). ...
... Meyer (2009) says the general public's presumption of knowledge about DNA is misplaced. Despite a belief that they know what DNA is, they lack any real exposure to (or understanding of) the true depths and complexities of DNA and the information it stores (Meyer, 2009). ...
Thesis
Autism has become one of our country’s most researched public health problems. Despite the vast research priorities assigned to autism there is still a distinctive lack of a socially relevant, theologically informed and Christ-centered perspective integrated with any known analysis of the topic. Such a void may lead some thinkers to conclude that such viewpoint does not exist or that such a perspective cannot be demonstrated to be socially or scientifically relevant. Amid testimony from secular and Christian sources which report occurrences of stigmatization, exclusion and even killing of children with autism in churches, this research examined 418 Southern Baptist children’s ministry workers in North Carolina to analyze the practical interface between autism and faith. Results demonstrated that attitudes and beliefs about the human person which conformed to the Christian doctrine of man were significantly correlated to one’s willingness to engage children with autism in a ministry effort. The research also identified a statistically significant trend in which church members preferred social distances between themselves and children with autism which are much greater than those expressed toward typically developing children. This affirms the likelihood that stigma and exclusion of children with autism probably occurs in the Southern Baptist Church. Lastly, the research noted that the sophistication of accommodations for autism which are present in southern Baptist churches is significantly correlated with the level of intimate contact that children’s ministry workers have with a child on the spectrum. KEY WORDS: Human rights; Peace studies; Humanity; Image of God; Autism; Disability; Church; Theology; Social Ethics; Baptist; Practical Theology
... The second, more well-trodden route is of course Aquinas' Fifth Way to theism (Feser, 2015;Hays, 2016;Kronen & Menssen, 2012). Some argue, based on the current origin of life science, that it's more reasonable to believe life originated supernaturalistically than naturalistically (Meyer, 2009;Thaxton et al., 1992). Hugh Chandler (1993) argues for the same conclusion on philosophical grounds. ...
... 13 Behe (1996Behe ( , 2021 updates the argument to meet Darwinian challenges, suggesting we can infer some biological organisms are designed if they have several well-matched, interacting parts all of which are essential to some one function, citing inter alia the bacterial flagellum as such an "irreducibly complex" organism. Meyer (2009Meyer ( , 2021 focuses on information, understood as a complex arrangement (pattern) that has function or meaning, as the indicator of design, citing genes/gene expression, proteins, and DNA as examples where information is encoded in the natural world. If "encoded" is not taken literally, Pruss (2009) thinks there's a strong analogy here: DNA is very much like an intentionally designed computer program in that it contains bugs (genetic defects), unlike non-intentionally designed programs. ...
Article
Full-text available
I survey recent and overlooked work on three of the most common and perennial arguments for theism: cosmological, ontological, and design arguments.
... They bristle at that label because there are two differences between the two theories. Creationism rejects the thesis that all present life on Earth traces back to a single common ancestor, whereas intelligent design theory (Behe 1996;Dembski 1998a;Meyer 2009) is formulated so as to be neutral on that question. The second difference is that creationism asserts that God is the designer who built organisms, whereas intelligent design theory does not say who the designer is. ...
... After the junk DNA hypothesis was proposed, functions were discovered for pieces of the genome (e.g., some introns) that some biologists earlier had claimed to have no organismic function. Dembski (1998b), Meyer (2009), Wells (2011, and others in the ID camp saw this as a victory for intelligent design theory and a defeat for evolutionary theory. There are two flaws in their triumphant story. ...
Book
This Element analyzes the various forms that design arguments for the existence of God can take, but the main focus is on two such arguments. The first concerns the complex adaptive features that organisms have. Creationists who advance this argument contend that evolution by natural selection cannot be the right explanation. The second design argument - the argument from fine-tuning - begins with the fact that life could not exist in our universe if the constants found in the laws of physics had values that differed more than a little from their actual values. Since probability is the main analytical tool used, the book provides a primer on probability theory.
... Cells are the structural and functional units that make up all living creatures and contain information about their composition [1][2][3]. Previous studies on cell growth, metabolism, and death have provided many clues to various research fields including disease treatment [4][5][6], early diagnosis [7][8][9][10], and drug development [11][12][13][14]. As an example, cell death assay studies have been used as early indicators of several incurable diseases such as cancer [8][9][10]15,16], and Alzheimer's disease [7,17,18]. ...
Article
Dynamic full-field optical coherence microscopy (DFFOCM) was used to characterize the intracellular dynamic activities and cytoskeleton of HeLa cells in different viability states. HeLa cell samples were continuously monitored for 24 hours and compared with histological examination to confirm the cell viability states. The averaged mean frequency and magnitude observed in healthy cells were 4.79±0.5 Hz and 2.44±1.06, respectively. In dead cells, the averaged mean frequency was shifted to 8.57±0.71 Hz, whereas the magnitude was significantly decreased to 0.53±0.25. This cell dynamic activity analysis using DFFOCM is expected to replace conventional time-consuming and biopsies-required histological or biochemical methods.
... Thus, Neo-Darwinian evolution is a weaker explanation than an intelligent designer. For the sake of simplicity, only Behe's argument will be reviewed here, but the reader can refer to the references to follow up on Dembski's and others' thoughts (Johnson 1993;Johnson 1995;Johnson 1997;Johnson 2000;Wells 2000;Wells 2006;Meyers 2009;Berlinski 2010;Wells 2011, Meyers 2013Denton 2016;Wells 2017). ...
Book
Full-text available
This book attempts to equip the reader with a holistic and accessible account of Islam and evolution. It guides the reader through the different variables that have played a part in the ongoing dialogue between Muslim creationists and evolutionists. This work views the discussion through the lens of al-Ghazālī (1058-1111), a widely-known and well-respected Islamic intellectual from the medieval period. By understanding al-Ghazālī as an Ash’arite theologian, a particular strand of Sunni theology, his metaphysical and hermeneutic ideas are taken to explore if and how much Neo-Darwinian evolution can be accepted. It is shown that his ideas can be used to reach an alignment between Islam and Neo-Darwinian evolution. This book offers a detailed examination that seeks to offer clarity if not agreement in the midst of an intense intellectual conflict and polarity amongst Muslims. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of Science and Religion, Theology, Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Studies, and Religious Studies more generally.
... 40 Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and active member of the Intelligent Design movement, relies on Shannon's theory for his critiques on naturalism. 43,44 He recognizes that some sequences of characters serve a deliberate and useful purpose. Meyer says the messages with this property exhibit specified complexity, or specified information. ...
Article
Full-text available
The origin of information in nature cannot be explained if matter and energy is all there is. But the many, and often contradictory, meanings of information confound a clear analysis of why this is so. In this, the first of a four-part series, the key views about information theory by leading thinkers in the creation/evolution controversy are presented. In part 2, attention is drawn to various difficulties in the existing paradigms in use. Part 3 introduces the notion of replacing Information by Coded Information System (CIS) to resolve many difficulties. Part 4 completes the theoretical backbone of CIS theory, showing how various conceptual frameworks can be integrated into this comprehensive model. The intention is to focus the discussion in the future on whether CISs can arise naturalistically.
... Such conceptions also support a description of evolution as a purposeful, divinely guided process. And so the Intelligent Design version of creationism, for example, can position itself as a reasonable point of view that accepts much of evolution, especially if it is presented as an explanation for the origin of life or the sources of biological information (Meyer 2009). Indeed, in Turkey, variants of Intelligent Design often represent a compromise position. ...
Chapter
Islamic creationism has been very successful in Turkey, finding official as well as grassroots support in an environment shaped by neoliberal Islamism. Opposition to evolution has many local, Turkish and Islamic political rationales. However, as comparison with creationism in the United States demonstrates, creationism also draws political sustenance from a more universal rhetoric of modern conservatism, emphasizing markets, organic communities, and a pragmatic view of science as infrastructure for business and technology.
... According to this view, there is no such thing as a special divine revelation since that would entail that God can actually intervene in the world, an idea that is already taken as "psychologically jarring to the majority of theists [at that time]." 23 It is apparent at this point that pure naturalism and non-supernaturalism, has succeeded to become the rule of the day. While many scientists remained believers in God, they saw God only as a First Cause, the Author of nature's laws but other than that, God has no scientific role to play. ...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, I call into question a commonly assumed principle in science known as methodological naturalism, which is the idea that science should only accept natural, as opposed to supernatural, explanations. In support of MN, two arguments are commonly thrown against the idea of theistic explanation in science: the science stopper argument and the God-of-the-gaps argument. The science stopper argument states that appealing to theistic explanations hinders science from making steady progress; it simply stops science from its tracks. In other words, abandoning MN spells the death of science. The God-of-the-gaps argument states that appealing to God when explaining phenomenon is a form of an argument from ignorance, what critics call God-of-the-gaps thinking, which is considered to be fallacious reasoning. Any gap in nature that is explained by God, so the argument goes, is simply an appeal to our ignorance that we have no yet found the correct explanation to such natural mystery. In this scenario, an appeal to God is assumed to simply show our lack of knowledge with regard to the workings of nature. After introducing these arguments, I assess their strength by looking at the history of methodological naturalism. I then show how the history of science does not only fail to support these arguments but actually refutes them.
... Die Proponenten sind meist der Intelligent-Design-Bewegung zuzurechnen. Neben den erwähnten Michael Behe (1996) und William Dembski (1998 ist hier vor allem Stephen C. Meyer (1998Meyer ( , 2009) zu nennen. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Unter ›Design-Argumenten‹ (engl. arguments from design) fasst man Argumente zusammen, die von der Existenz bestimmter struktureller Merkmale M der natürlichen, also nicht auf menschliches Handeln zurückgehenden (Teile der) Welt auf die Existenz eines nicht-menschlichen intelligenten Urhebers dieser Merkmale schließen. Da die strukturellen Merkmale M in der Regel eine bestimmte Zweckmäßigkeit und damit den Anschein einer Anpassung an bestimmte Ziele einschließen, wie man ihn von menschlichen Artefakten kennt, die für einen bestimmten Zweck gemacht sind, nennt man diese Merkmale auch ›(anscheinendes) Design‹ und den erschlossenen Urheber einen ›Designer‹ (der Zusatz ›anscheinend‹ deutet an, dass man die Argumente nicht dadurch trivialisieren sollte, dass man schon in der Design-Prämisse die Existenz eines Designers voraussetzt).
... Factors cumulatively dismissing chance theory are recently exhaustively and critically summarized by Meyer. 6,7 While chemical bonds can form by chance, especially under electrical discharge, volcanic heat, and/or a catalytic surface, the chance of them soon being unmade seems at least as great. The total of chemical bonds formed in the known Universe since its beginning cannot exceed the product of its total of elementary particles (10 80 ), its age (o10 19 s), and the greatest number of translocations a particle can achieve per second (10 43 : i.e., the number of Planck lengths, or the smallest quantum distance possible, contained in the distance covered by light per second). ...
Article
Full-text available
Ever since humans realized that they were distinct conscious beings, it seems they wondered about their place in nature. Each pre-literate culture developed its own rationalization of how what it saw around came to be, handed on as oral history, often with a sacred spiritual basis involving discarnate ancestry and becoming an integral part of daily life. In the East, the relation of mankind to mind and consciousness dominated, with major advances in their understanding. In the Middle East and Europe, the focus became a prescribed view of the Universe based on one tribal spiritual and folk-memory history and eventually backed by powerful established Judeo-Christian-Islamic churches that prohibited other forms of thought. This view was only seriously challenged after two millennia when some outstandingly able men in Europe made careful measurements with better instruments and open minds. Gradually the spiritual connection faded, especially in the rigorously skeptical scientific environment, where all needs to be proved by experiment. By the end of the 19th century, to Western Science, all seemed mapped out as a rational material clockwork Universe. This attitude is still surprisingly widespread and concepts of mind/spirit in science seem unnecessary, even dangerously atavistic and heretical. Mind/spirit is OK in its place. In the first half of the 20th century, the Western scientific worldview was shaken by the solidly based findings of relativity and quantum mechanics (QM) in physics and genetic theory in biology, followed in the second half by the complete solving of the genetic code and much of the basic chemical machinery of living processes. These have, over time, raised major questions on the nature of the way everything is. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a purely materialistic worldview. 1,2 While we remain forever constrained by the limits of human imagination, we still strive to extract something that we can understand from the shadows in Plato's cave. This currently forces us to conceive beyond the material, and mankind's contemplative journey returns to its roots except that we have more know-how and freedom to follow the evidence. Our problem now is to choose between the possible and the new rational. THE DESIGN QUESTION-THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE While we may take our fertile planet for granted, it turns out that the cosmic conditions for its very existence are extremely unusual. 3 At least six cosmic parameters have to be so finely tuned that the overall tolerances cannot vary by more than 1 in 10 200. In addition, over 80 further critical parameters have more recently been proposed for the Universe at large, plus over 150 other features for the nearer region of our Galaxy and planetary system, all of which must be exact within narrow margins for life to be feasible. 4 There are three possible causes of such an outcome: necessity or natural law, chance or random actions, intention or action of a creative mind. Of these, no relevant natural law has been found (although one may possibly turn up), chance is reduced to impossibly low levels, and only intention remains. At present, it seems some mind went to great lengths to achieve the possibility of carbon-water-based life somewhere in the known Universe. An attempt to reintroduce chance came with the Multi-verse concept, where one of an infinite number of different universes can provide by accident the unique one we need. But this was a non-falsifiable, non-evidenced conjecture and does not survive a closer look. Our Universe being extremely improbable, any universe slightly outside its limited parameters will be similarly unlikely, and an infinite collection of improbabilities will surely be infinitely improbable, whatever that means. This conclusion is better expressed in probability theory: the chance of occurrence of two or more random events is the product of their individual probabilities. The product of an infinite array of numbers less than unity is zero, and so an infinite Multiverse is prohibited. There are also cogent philosophical and mathematical reasons to expect a singular Universe and the reality of time. 5 We are left only with the appearance of intention implying the existence of a creative mind. THE DESIGN QUESTION-THE MACHINERY OF LIFE Similar issues of necessity, chance, or intention relate to the origin and complexity of living things on Earth. No natural law is presently known that compels life; indeed, the second law of thermodynamics seems to forbid such a spontaneous increase in information content. Yet, water can flow uphill, witness the green belt above the waterfall's pool wetted only by misty droplets raised by its kinetic energy. We know too that biology uses chemical energy to reverse the second law, but this needs complex chemical machinery that cannot be built without pre-existing chemical energy, raising the classical chicken-and-egg problem that bedevils origins in all of biology. Factors cumulatively dismissing chance theory are recently exhaustively and critically summarized by Meyer. 6,7
... Even ID proponents no longer give center stage to their revolutionary design-detection claims. More recent ID literature has put more emphasis on alleged failures of evolutionary explanations, coming to more closely resemble an older style of creationism that aimed to reinforce incredulity about the creative powers of the purely material processes that drive evolution (Meyer, 2009(Meyer, , 2013. A small minority of scientists continue to have reservations about accounts of evolution that exclusively rely on unguided processes of variation, selection, and neutral drift; some even entertain some vague, undeveloped ID-like ideas (Dembski and Ruse, 2004). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Theological responses to scientific challenges can usefully be compared to conspiracy theories in order to highlight their evasive properties. When religious thinkers emphasize hidden powers and purposes underlying a seemingly material reality, and claim that these hidden purposes are revealed only through special knowledge granted to initiates, they adopt conspiratorial attitudes. And when they charge mainstream science with corruption or comprehensive mistakes, so that science becomes a plot to conceal the truth, the resemblance to a conspiracy theory deepens. Theologically conservative denial of evolution often exhibits such features, but some liberal theologies also border on conspiracy theories. Intelligent design creationism, however, is sometimes less conspiratorial.
... Since the mechanism of storage does not impose order on the information content, arguments similar to Kenyon's dilemma with proteins arise. Gitt (2006), Meyer (2009) and Dembski (1998) use the information metaphor to argue for the existence of a creator or at least an intelligent designer. The information metaphor naturally morphs into that of a computer, since the information is translated, transformed and transmitted. ...
... In Walker's view this weakens the plausibility of God's existence if the gaps are then filled by scientific discoveries. In this instance, both "ID" and "God of the gaps" are formulations that stem from professional discourses, and Walker's answer betrays the confidence of someone who knows about the ins and outs Intelligent Design as an established knowledge system in the creation/evolution debates (see Behe, 2006;Meyer, 2009;Forrest and Gross, 2003). The positions on science and religion and the way they are represented in people's lives do not, indeed, seem to be systems of knowledge that people apply to their various experiences. ...
Article
Full-text available
Issues pertaining to the relationship between science and religion, like creationism, Intelligent Design, and New Atheism, are increasingly the focus of social scientific research. This research often does not differentiate clearly between different kinds of social actors. At the most basic level, professional developers and distributors of systems of thought that deal with the relationship between science and religion, and laypeople who take up this knowledge, or parts of it, must be distinguished. Based upon interview material from the large, multinational study Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum, we identify five typical dimensions of lay knowledge vis-à-vis professional knowledge: reinterpretation of professional labels; neglect of important parts of knowledge systems; addition of knowledge; lower ascription of relevance; and an individual ethical framing.
... It is not too difficult for a physicist to review the evidence concerning the identity of Shakespeare, whereas it would hardly be feasible for a Shakespeare scholar to review the evidence concerning dark matter or dark energy. On the other hand, a Shakespeare scholar may well be able to arrive at an informed opinion concerning the debate between evolution and design, for instance comparing Richard Dawkins' (1996) broad-brush defense of orthodoxy against the more finely drawn attacks of insurgents such as Michael Behe (1996Behe ( , 2007 and Stephen Meyer (2010Meyer ( , 2014. ...
Article
Intelligent Design (ID) argues for the existence of a designer, postulating it as a theoretical entity of a scientific theory aiming to explain characteristics in nature that seems to show design. However, the Scientific Realism debate argues that to accept that a scientific theory is successful is not enough for asserting the existence of the entities postulated by it. Typically, theories must show successful novel predictions. Evolutionists attack ID by offering cases of bad design, like the inverted retina of vertebrates. ID defenders assert the inversion of the retina must be a detail of design for a function already unknown. Recently it has been found such a function, and ID defenders celebrate it as a triumph over evolutionists. The retina case is a good candidate for a novel prediction. In this paper, I analyze whether this is the case.
Chapter
Structural biology of enzymatic catalysis posits that structure defines function. This idea is deeply rooted in the “lock-and-key” perspective of the enzyme action. Although some flexibility is accepted in the form of “induced fit” or “conformational selection,” these models do not expect excessive conformational diversity of a protein molecule. In other words, since facilitation of the formation of the transition state of the chemical reaction to be catalyzed depends on a well-organized environment in the active site of the enzyme, enzymatic catalysis is poorly compatible with structural disorder. However, there is growing evidence of the existence of catalytic disordered proteins. Furthermore, since the chance of the spontaneous emergence of a fully folded protein with fully defined catalytic function is negligible, disordered proteins acted as precursors of the modern-day enzymes. This chapter represents an overview of the molten globular enzymes and represents several illustrative examples of this important phenomenon.
Article
In this paper, I explore scientific, philosophical, and theological concerns that arise from adopting theistic evolution understood as claiming that the origin and development of life can be entirely accounted for in terms of the operation of natural causes, without any need to posit direct divine intervention. I argue that theistic evolutionists’ commitment to methodological naturalism and their unjustified rejection of gap arguments suggests that their case is not nearly so strong as they suggest. I further argue that accepting theistic evolution most naturally leads to accepting a monistic physicalist account of the person that is at odds with theism’s understanding of human nature.
Chapter
Chapter 2 describes the systems of basic science that would best fit to support the immense complexity of the mental universe. It presents some information on various systems that could qualify for the task and focuses on the model most likely able to offer ruling support to the nonlinear emergent phenomena that constitute and organize the entire biological domain, from the classical level of reality to the subatomic realm of quantum science and to the complex interactions with sociocultural collective systems.KeywordsNeural structural organizationNonlinear dynamicsPhase-spaceAttractorsDimension of creativity
Article
Some Muslim thinkers argue against evolution using intelligent design (ID) arguments. One possible impetus for this line of reasoning is the several indications of design mentioned throughout the Qurʾān. Therefore, criticizing ID could be seen as a direct attack on the Qurʾānic outlook. However, this article will argue that this is a false equation. The Qurʾānic design argument, as articulated in the tradition of Sunnī scholastic theology (kalām), argues for the existence of a supernatural God by acknowledging natural causes that bring about designed phenomena in the universe. By contrast, Muslim thinkers who use ID to argue against evolution are arguing for the existence of a supernatural being through the supposed inability of science to explain designed phenomena through natural causes. Thus, there is a fundamental difference between the design outlook provided in the Qurʾān versus the arguments of ID. Accordingly, this article argues that critiquing ID does not undermine the design discourse of the Qurʾān.
Article
Full-text available
Artykuł bada ważniejsze argumenty przeciwko naturalizmowi metodologicznemu. Argumenty te mają stanowić podstawę do uzasadnienia następujących tez. Naturalizm metodologiczny: źle wpływa na rozwój wiedzy; utrudnia współzawodnictwo w nauce; jest tylko częścią określonej tradycji, która została zabsolutyzowana; jest wyłącznie prowizoryczną zasadą; jest arbitralną i szkodliwą regułą; jest podejściem irracjonalnym; jest złą filozofią; jest ujęciem przyjmowanym bezkrytycznie. Większość antynaturalistycznych argumentów nie jest przekonująca. Jednak kilka z nich można uznać za zasadne.
Article
Full-text available
Dariusz Sagan utrzymuje, że istnieją trzy możliwe epistemiczne układy odniesienia: naturalizm metodologiczny, nadnaturalizm i artyficjalizm. Pokazuję, że w polskim piśmiennictwie, odnosząc się do współczesnego pojmowania naukowości, wyróżniono więcej epistemicznych układów odniesienia. Ponadto ujęcie Sagana jest zbyt wąskie lub przedwczesne, ponieważ historia nauki nie została jeszcze zbadana pod tym względem. W opinii Sagana Jodkowski i ja posługujemy się nazwą „artyficjalizm” w sposób niejednoznaczny: traktowana jest ona jako epistemiczny układ odniesienia teorii inteligentnego projektu lub jako epistemiczny układ odniesienia nauki jako całości. Teoria inteligentnego projektu jest wzorcowym przykładem dopuszczania wyjaśnień artyficjalistycznych i stąd właśnie bierze się największa ilość odniesień do tej teorii jako przykładu akceptacji tego epistemicznego układu odniesienia. Zdaniem Sagana przypisywanie epistemicznym układom odniesienia tak zwanych „twardych jąder”, jak czynię to ja, jest błędem. Nie jest to błąd, tylko efekt rozpoznanego od dawna w filozofii nauki faktu występowania nierozerwalnego związku między akceptowanymi założeniami metodologicznymi i akceptowaną metafizyką.
Article
Full-text available
W artykule omówiono koncepcję „podpisu w komórce” rozwijaną w ramach teorii inteligentnego projektu przez Stephena C. Meyera. Meyer argumentuje, że jedynym adekwatnym wyjaśnieniem pochodzenia informacji genetycznej jest działanie przyczyny inteligentnej. Tym samym łamie obecnie podstawową zasadę nauk przyrodniczych — zasadę naturalizmu metodologicznego nakazującą szukanie wyjaśnień zjawisk przyrodniczych wyłącznie w naturalnym funkcjonowaniu świata. Meyer za podstawową regułę wyjaśniania w naukach przyrodniczych przyjął natomiast spełnienie kryterium adekwatności przyczynowej. W ten sposób stara się wprowadzić swoją koncepcję w krąg dopuszczalnych w nauce wyjaśnień. Operacja ta wiąże się jednak z głęboką zmianą podstaw filozoficznych nauki.
Article
Full-text available
Artykuł wskazuje na związki między problematyką interteoretycznej niewspółmierności a kontrowersją kumulatywizm-antykumulatywizm. Wyjaśnia też, na czym polega niewspółmierność teorii naukowych i pokazuje, że nazwa „niewspółmierność” nie ma ostrego znaczenia w filozofii nauki. Problematyka interteoretycznej niewspółmierności doczekała się licznych opracowań. Artykuł wykorzystuje tylko jedno podejście. Podejście to z problemem nieostrości pojęcia niewspółmierności radzi sobie tak, że wyróżnia pięć płaszczyzn niewspółmierności teorii naukowych. To narzędzie intelektualne ułatwia również uchwycenie różnic między analizowanymi epistemicznymi układami odniesienia. Problematyka ta jest bardzo rozległa. Jej dokładne omówienie wykracza poza ramy jednego artykułu. Dlatego zdecydowałem, aby przedstawić ją w dwóch artykułach. W niniejszym artykule badam jedynie płaszczyznę metodologiczną niewspółmierności epistemicznych układów odniesienia. Badając tę płaszczyznę, koncentruję się na różnych standardach naukowości i kryteriach ocen wyników badań, o jakich mówią zwolennicy odmiennych epistemicznych układów odniesienia.
Article
Full-text available
Artykuł ten wyjaśnia, na czym polega światopoglądowe i ideologiczne zaangażowanie EUO. Wskazuje też na światopoglądowe i ideologiczne składniki EUO. Pokazane też zostanie, że ideologiczno-światopoglądowy konflikt między odmiennymi EUO prowadzi do, zachodzącej już, zmiany oblicza zachodniej cywilizacji. Na tym tle przedstawiony jest teizm naturalistyczny. Uprzednio omówione EUO tworzą poznawcze ramy dla uprawiania nauki. Zaś naturalistyczny teizm jest takim EUO, który tworzy również inną, specyficzną, światopoglądową ramę uprawiania nauki. Dzięki niej ma być możliwe zażegnanie kryzysu wiary wśród ludzi wykształconych, w szczególności naukowców. Kryzys ten jest następstwem niezgodności tradycyjnego teistycznego oraz współczesnego naukowego opisu świata. Teizm naturalistyczny ma być też udaną próbą obrony cywilizacji chrześcijańskiej przed próbami przekształcenia jej w cywilizację postchrześcijańską. Obrona ta odbywać ma się drogą pogodzenia obrazu świata współczesnego przyrodoznawstwa z teizmem chrześcijańskim. Zarówno zażegnanie kryzysu wiary, jak i godzenie obrazu świata przyrodoznawstwa z teistycznym obrazem świata odbywa się drogą „umiejętnego czytania” ksiąg Pisma Świętego. Zaś takie „czytanie” ma olbrzymie koszty światopoglądowe i epistemiczne.
Article
Full-text available
Naturalizm metodologiczny, chociaż w sposób niejawny za sprawą wykluczenia odwołań do celowości, funkcjonuje całkowicie w zgodzie z założeniami naturalizmu ontologicznego i dlatego operuje jedynie w sferze tego, co empiryczne i naturalistyczne. Bardziej neutralna epistemologia w mniejszym stopniu opiera się na założeniach, pozwalając nauce na rozkwit bez ograniczeń narzucanych przez takie filozoficzne zobowiązanie. Zadanie oddzielenia nauki od naturalizmu metodologicznego wymaga porzucenia idei, że struktura wiedzy, czy też uzasadnione przekonanie, nie potrzebuje żadnego epistemicznego fundamentu i że uzasadnianie inferencyjne ma w nauce zdecydowanie wyższy status poznawczy niż uzasadnianie nieinferencyjne. W moim przekonaniu odwieczny problem nauki, a tym samym kryterium demarkacji, wiąże się z dwoma kwestiami. Po pierwsze, zakłada się, że tylko wiedza zdobywana inferencyjnie jest prawdziwie uzasadniona i, po drugie, że teorie muszą być — co najmniej — teoretycznie falsyfikowalne. W tym artykule zamierzam zaproponować kryterium demarkacji nauki pełniące praktyczną i heurystyczną rolę jako bodziec rozwoju nauki. Moja propozycja nie zakłada odgórnie mocy przyczynowej przypadku i konieczności, lecz zmusza naukowca do uznania ontologicznych cech przyrody i przyjęcia, że kwestia przyczynowości jest całkowicie otwarta. W ten sposób propozycja ta unika problemów, jakie na naukę nieubłaganie sprowadza naturalizm ontologiczny, a także jego wierny sprzymierzeniec — naturalizm metodologiczny.
Article
Full-text available
Ewolucja darwinowska nie jest synonimem zmiany, lecz wyjątkowym procesem biologicznym. Biochemiczny mechanizm ewolucji jest inny niż wynikało to z obserwacji Darwina dotyczących dziedzicznej zmienności i doboru naturalnego. Kluczem do ewolucji biologicznej jest ścisły związek między dziedziczonym genotypem a zależnym od genów fenotypem. Dzięki temu związkowi fenotyp może stanowić przedmiot selekcji. Jest teoretycznie możliwe, by pewne formy życia nie podlegały ewolucji. Pochodzenie życia i pochodzenie ewolucji to dwa odrębne problemy badawcze. Klasyczny problem teleologii w biologii da się rozwiązać dzięki starannemu zbadaniu mechanizmu odpowiadającego za związek między genotypem a fenotypem, czyli mechanizmu syntezy białek lub systemu translacji. Ten mechanizm przekształcania chemii kwasów nukleinowych w chemię białek może stanowić fundamentalne źródło teleonomii i wewnętrznej teleologii w organizmach żywych.
Chapter
Before being able to understand the claim that design arguments and evolution must be opposed, we must first understand how design arguments work in the first place. This chapter examines the debate between those who hold that philosophical considerations are sufficient to undermine the biological design argument, and those who hold that belief in biological design was the most rational position before the Darwinian revolution. The idea of personal explanation, the nature of teleology, and the relationship between Thomistic and modern design arguments are also considered, and the conclusion is that the philosophical objections to the design argument are not yet sufficient for rejecting the argument.
Article
Full-text available
Some features within the physical universe appear to be so well-ordered that they have been regarded as evidence of the existence of a supernatural being who has designed them. This history of the so-called design argument is millennia-long, and various formulations of the argument have been presented. In this paper, I explore one contemporary version of the design argument proposed by the Intelligent Design movement, and analyze its advantages and disadvantages in comparison to one of the most famous classical versions of the argument.
Article
There are two ways of approaching an ontological debate: ontological realism recommends that metaphysicians seek to discover deep ontological facts of the matter, while ontological anti-realism denies that there are such facts; both views sometimes run into difficulties. This paper suggests an approach to ontology that begins with conceptual analysis and takes the results of that analysis as a guide for which metaontological view to hold. It is argued that in some cases, the functions for which we employ a part of our conceptual scheme might give us reasons to posit ontological facts regarding certain objects. The proposed approach recommends ontological realism about an object just in case our conceptual scheme gives us reason to. This yields a mixed overall metaontological view that adopts ontological realism to some issues and ontological anti-realism to others, and that avoids the difficulties that typically arise for the two views.
Article
Full-text available
Although many believe that modern evolutionary biology renders teleology superfluous, this article explores the recent resurgence of attempts to locate teleology, functions, and purpose in the nature of organisms. This essay further explores the relevance of teleology within Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox traditions, and the ways in which some theological doctrines have been construed against a teleological conception of both humanity and the wider cosmos. It also defends the reality of intrinsic teleology against an evolutionary‐reductionist accommodation strategy, and responds to the accusation that a theological affirmation of purpose within biological organisms entails the thorny position of intelligent design.
Article
Full-text available
In a document penned under the direction of its then-president Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s International Theological Commission observed that many neo-Darwinian materialists and their Christian critics share a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. This article explores the thought of Joseph Ratzinger in view of proposing the features of a path that seeks to eschew these faulty understandings of how God causes evolutionary change within our world, thus providing an alternative to the Intelligent Design movement’s approach to creation. . Ratzinger has a deep respect for the integrity of nature, rejecting the notion that God is a “craftsman” who “tinkers” with the world. According to Ratzinger, evolutionary change occurs “precisely in the processes of a living being” even as human beings are “not the mere product of development.” Finally, the emeritus pontiff insists that creation is an ever-present act that unfolds “in the manner in which thought is creative,” a dynamic that he describes variously as a story, drama, melody, and symphony. Wedding these and other key insights, this article submits that Ratzinger’s thought on evolution should lead us to conceive of creation less along the lines of an intelligently designed machine and more as a masterpiece story that is continually being told as its plot unfolds naturally over the course of time.
Book
Full-text available
This is the first collection focusing on knowledge socialism, a particularly apt term used to describe a Chinese socialist mode of production and socialist approach to development and modernity based around the rise of peer production, new forms of collaboration and collective intelligence. Making the case for knowledge socialism, the book is intended for students, teacher, scholars and policy theorists in the field of knowledge economy.
Chapter
This paper starts by considering twentieth century attacks of the idea of the public good from liberal quarters: from social choice theory; public choice theory; and from political liberalism, with reference to Kenneth Arrow, James Buchanan, Joseph Schumpeter and John Rawls. Despite a prolonged attack against ideas of the good from liberal economists and political thinkers, spanning the period from the 1930s to the end of the twentieth century, I argue that the concept of public good needs rehabilitating as a political concept. The concept of ‘self-interest’ that guided the liberal economists, and the ontology of individualism that underpinned Rawls’s writings, have not proved adequate to understanding politics and the logic of collective action in terms of which politics necessarily operates. My answer will not seek to provide a modification or revision of the liberal views, or of utilitarianism, but will proffer a new normative theory which I will claim is necessary in the current age to guide politics. I argue that new models of science which gained ascendancy from the start of the twentieth century, as well as poststructuralist ideas can assist a reconceptualization of the idea of public good to guide politics, accommodate liberty and diversity, and overcome liberal objections.
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter begins with a democratic socialist critique of the mainstream neoclassical reading of Hardin’s famous tale of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’. Then, it considers the neoliberal-led commodification of academic knowledge and counter projects of the ‘Public Digital University’ and ‘knowledge socialism’ as a springboard for examining the broader context of the neoliberal-led commodification of the immaterial world and resulting unstable and unsustainable societal outcomes. Discussion concentrates first on political and economic consequences of privatised regulation of the global information commons that I examine in relation to the democratic ideal of a well-formed global virtual civil society. Following on, this chapter turns to examine globally unstable economic effects of capitalism’s uneven development and the limitations of existing socialist critiques. The final section links ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ with a ‘world knowledge bank’ as key features of a democratic socialist alternative to the neoliberal model of development.
Article
Full-text available
Atheistic natural scientists propagate a normative materialistic view of the universe, where God as creator is superfluous. Much effort is being expended to bring into disrepute any notion of extraneous control over the laws of nature. The idea of the universe and everything in it as an ongoing ‘cosmic accident’ is presented as the only truth. This is in stark contrast to recent scientific discoveries in disciplines such as biochemistry and palaeontology. In this article, the most recent developments in the fields of intelligent design and the anthropic principle will be interrogated to demonstrate that the reformed faith in God as Creator is credible and that the notion of creation as God’s general revelation to humankind is increasingly being accepted by the natural scientific community.
Chapter
Full-text available
Kaden, Jones, Catto und Elsdon-Baker gehen in ihrem Beitrag der Frage nach, auf welche Art und Weise sich das Wissen von Laien über die Relation von Wissenschaft und Religion von dem Professioneller unterscheidet. Dabei gehen sie nicht, wie bisherige Forschung, von dem professionellen Wissen aus, sondern setzen ihren Fokus auf Laienwissen. Basierend auf in einem größeren Forschungskontext erhobenen Interviews diskutieren sie dazu einige Fallbeispiele, anhand derer wesentliche Charakteristika des Laienwissens herausgearbeitet werden, um darauf aufbauend die Struktur und Relevanzsetzung dieses Wissens ursächlich zu erklären. Dabei zeigen sie, dass das Laienwissen ethisch oder moralisch/sozial motiviert ist und dabei einzelne Aspekte eines ganzheitlichen, professionellen Wissenssystems integriert. Zudem wird anhand einiger Referenzfälle aufgezeigt, dass Laienwissen nicht zwangsläufig weniger Kohärenz aufweist, sondern aus individuellen Beweggründen heraus ebenfalls eine Art Laienprofessionalisierung stattfinden kann.
Article
Full-text available
This paper contains a general introduction to Bioinformatics, theirs goals, objectives and their applied fields. Is then shed light on the real views of DNA of humans, some processors use mathematical and statistical analysis of the traditional purpose of these observations and to identify some features and characteristics. Graphical analysis of DNA is carried out in two and three dimensions. The inter-connectedness among the sites of DNA is also analyzed as well as a spectral analysis. The attempt is also made to identify the order of such observations. Through this analytical study it is shown that DNA has a complex structure with interdependent with each other for long-term.
Article
It is often assumed that there is a hard line between theistic evolution (TE) and intelligent design (ID). Many theistic evolutionists subscribe to the idea that God only acts through natural processes, as opposed to the ID assertion that God, at certain points in natural history, has acted in a direct manner; directly causing particular features of the world. In this article, I argue that theistic evolutionists subscribe to what might be called Natural Divine Causation (NDC). NDC does not merely provide a nonsupernaturalist and noninterventionist model of divine action, it provides a line of demarcation between TE and ID. I make the critique that NDC is philosophically untenable and argue, consequently, that the line between TE and ID is blurred.
Article
Full-text available
Throughout its history, Christianity has stood in a dichotomous relation to the various philosophical movements or eras (pre-modernism, modernism, postmodernism and post-postmodernism) that took on different faces throughout history. In each period, it was the sciences that influenced, to a great extent, the interpretation and understanding of the Bible. Christianity, however, was not immune to influences, specifically those of the Western world. This essay reflects briefly on this dichotomy and the influence of Bultmann’s demythologising of the kerygma during the 20th century. Also, the remythologising (Vanhoozer) of the church’s message as proposed for the 21st century no more satisfies the critical Christian thinkers. The relationship between science and religion is revisited, albeit from a different perspective as established over the past two decades as to how the sciences have been pointed out more and more to complement theology. This article endeavours to evoke the church to consider the fundamental contributions of the sciences and how it is going to incorporate the sciences into its theological training and message to the world.
Article
Full-text available
Introductory students regularly endorse naïve skepticism – unsupported or uncritical doubt about the existence and universality of truth – for a variety of reasons. Though some of the reasons for students’ skepticism can be traced back to the student – for example, a desire to avoid engaging with controversial material or a desire to avoid offense – naïve skepticism is also the result of how introductory courses are taught, deemphasizing truth to promote students’ abilities to develop basic disciplinary skills. While this strategy has a number of pedagogical benefits, it prevents students in early stages of intellectual development from understanding truth as a threshold concept. I argue that we can make progress against naïve skepticism by clearly discussing how metadisciplinary aims differ at the disciplinary and course levels in a way that is meaningful, reinforced, and accessible.
Book
Full-text available
A short monograph detailing the interface between Atheism and Islam.
Chapter
As mentioned above, there are many forms of “creationism” in the United States, and I think it is important for any social scientific analysis of creationism to first try and understand what these different ideas are about. This is because (and I hope to be able to show this further below) the kinds of ideas creationists harbor have a strong influence on what they are willing and able to do in order to promote them. If you think the other creationists are actually completely wrong and maybe not even Christian, you will find it hard to enter into coalitions with them. If the point of your creationist system is to spread the truth of the Bible, then you will have a harder time getting into public schools than if you focus on a few scientific issues, leaving questions of Biblical interpretation aside.
Chapter
In the previous chapter, the different variants of creationism were presented as concepts or, more specifically, as both different and partly overlapping systems of interpreting the world that also contain a specific perspective of the opposing interpretation system of secular science and, in particular, evolutionary theory. Sociologically, these ideas become relevant (and apprehensible) only when they are expressed via social action (Weber 1978:3–62). It is, therefore, necessary to ask how the social representation of creationism is structured. Who are the creationists, how do they organize themselves, how do they try to make their views public and defend themselves against criticism?
Article
Full-text available
The RNA world hypothesis regarding the early evolution of life relies on the premise that some RNA sequences can catalyze RNA replication. In support of this conjecture, we describe here an RNA molecule that catalyzes the type of polymerization needed for RNA replication. The ribozyme uses nucleoside triphosphates and the coding information of an RNA template to extend an RNA primer by the successive addition of up to 14 nucleotides—more than a complete turn of an RNA helix. Its polymerization activity is general in terms of the sequence and the length of the primer and template RNAs, provided that the 3′ terminus of the primer pairs with the template. Its polymerization is also quite accurate: when primers extended by 11 nucleotides were cloned and sequenced, 1088 of 1100 sequenced nucleotides matched the template.
Article
Full-text available
Background: The origin of the translation system is, arguably, the central and the hardest problem in the study of the origin of life, and one of the hardest in all evolutionary biology. The problem has a clear catch-22 aspect: high translation fidelity hardly can be achieved without a complex, highly evolved set of RNAs and proteins but an elaborate protein machinery could not evolve without an accurate translation system. The origin of the genetic code and whether it evolved on the basis of a stereochemical correspondence between amino acids and their cognate codons (or anticodons), through selectional optimization of the code vocabulary, as a "frozen accident" or via a combination of all these routes is another wide open problem despite extensive theoretical and experimental studies. Here we combine the results of comparative genomics of translation system components, data on interaction of amino acids with their cognate codons and anticodons, and data on catalytic activities of ribozymes to develop conceptual models for the origins of the translation system and the genetic code. Results: Our main guide in constructing the models is the Darwinian Continuity Principle whereby a scenario for the evolution of a complex system must consist of plausible elementary steps, each conferring a distinct advantage on the evolving ensemble of genetic elements. Evolution of the translation system is envisaged to occur in a compartmentalized ensemble of replicating, co-selected RNA segments, i.e., in a RNA World containing ribozymes with versatile activities. Since evolution has no foresight, the translation system could not evolve in the RNA World as the result of selection for protein synthesis and must have been a by-product of evolution drive by selection for another function, i.e., the translation system evolved via the exaptation route. It is proposed that the evolutionary process that eventually led to the emergence of translation started with the selection for ribozymes binding abiogenic amino acids that stimulated ribozyme-catalyzed reactions. The proposed scenario for the evolution of translation consists of the following steps: binding of amino acids to a ribozyme resulting in an enhancement of its catalytic activity; evolution of the amino-acid-stimulated ribozyme into a peptide ligase (predecessor of the large ribosomal subunit) yielding, initially, a unique peptide activating the original ribozyme and, possibly, other ribozymes in the ensemble; evolution of self-charging proto-tRNAs that were selected, initially, for accumulation of amino acids, and subsequently, for delivery of amino acids to the peptide ligase; joining of the peptide ligase with a distinct RNA molecule (predecessor of the small ribosomal subunit) carrying a built-in template for more efficient, complementary binding of charged proto-tRNAs; evolution of the ability of the peptide ligase to assemble peptides using exogenous RNAs as template for complementary binding of charged proteo-tRNAs, yielding peptides with the potential to activate different ribozymes; evolution of the translocation function of the protoribosome leading to the production of increasingly longer peptides (the first proteins), i.e., the origin of translation. The specifics of the recognition of amino acids by proto-tRNAs and the origin of the genetic code depend on whether or not there is a physical affinity between amino acids and their cognate codons or anticodons, a problem that remains unresolved. Conclusion: We describe a stepwise model for the origin of the translation system in the ancient RNA world such that each step confers a distinct advantage onto an ensemble of co-evolving genetic elements. Under this scenario, the primary cause for the emergence of translation was the ability of amino acids and peptides to stimulate reactions catalyzed by ribozymes. Thus, the translation system might have evolved as the result of selection for ribozymes capable of, initially, efficient amino acid binding, and subsequently, synthesis of increasingly versatile peptides. Several aspects of this scenario are amenable to experimental testing.
Article
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. The continued exploration of our solar system, especially a better knowledge of Mars and Venus, of comets and carbonaceous meteorites may also lead to a better understanding of the prebiotic environment on Earth and will thus help us to design more appropriate prebiotic simulation experiments.
Article
How do we go about weighing evidence, testing hypotheses, and making inferences? According to the model of Inference to the Best Explanation, we work out what to infer from the evidence by thinking about what would actually explain that evidence, and we take the ability of a hypothesis to explain the evidence as a sign that the hypothesis is correct. In Inference to the Best Explanation, Peter Lipton gives this important and influential idea the development and assessment it deserves. The second edition has been substantially enlarged and reworked, with a new chapter on the relationship between explanation and Bayesianism, and an extension and defence of the account of contrastive explanation. It also includes an expanded defence of the claims that our inferences really are guided by diverse explanatory considerations, and that this pattern of inference can take us towards the truth. This edition of Inference to the Best Explanation has also been updated throughout and includes a new bibliography.
Article
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. The continued exploration of our solar system, especially a better knowledge of Mars and Venus, of comets and carbonaceous meteorites may also lead to a better understanding of the prebiotic environment on Earth and will thus help us to design more appropriate prebiotic simulation experiments.
Article
In 1830-33, Charles Lyell laid the foundations of evolutionary biology with Principles of Geology, a pioneering three-volume book that Charles Darwin took with him on the Beagle. Lyell championed the ideas of geologist James Hutton, who formulated one of the fundamental principles of modern geology - uniformitarianism. This proposed that natural processes always operate according to the same laws, allowing us to understand how features of the Earth's surface were produced by physical, chemical, and biological processes over long periods of time. Volume 1 consists of 26 chapters, a comprehensive index and woodcut illustrations of various mechanisms of geological change. Lyell begins with a definition of geology and then reviews ancient theories of the successive destruction and renovation of the world. He mentions James Hutton's ideas in chapter four, and goes on to discuss the effects of climate change, running water, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes on the Earth's crust.
Article
A number of theories propose that RNA, or an RNA-like substance, played a role in the origin of life. Usually, such hypotheses presume that the Watson-Crick bases were readily available on prebiotic Earth, for spontaneous incorporation into a replicator. Cytosine, however, has not been reported in analyses of meteorites nor is it among the products of electric spark discharge experiments. The reported prebiotic syntheses of cytosine involve the reaction of cyanoacetylene (or its hydrolysis product, cyanoacetaldehyde), with cyanate, cyanogen, or urea. These substances undergo side reactions with common nucleophiles that appear to proceed more rapidly than cytosine formation. To favor cytosine formation, reactant concentrations are required that are implausible in a natural setting. Furthermore, cytosine is consumed by deamination (the half-life for deamination at 25 degrees C is approximately 340 yr) and other reactions. No reactions have been described thus far that would produce cytosine, even in a specialized local setting, at a rate sufficient to compensate for its decomposition. On the basis of this evidence, it appears quite unlikely that cytosine played a role in the origin of life. Theories that involve replicators that function without the Watson-Crick pairs, or no replicator at all, remain as viable alternatives.
Article
The discovery of the structure of DNA transformed biology profoundly, catalysing the sequencing of the human genome and engendering a new view of biology as an information science. Two features of DNA structure account for much of its remarkable impact on science: its digital nature and its complementarity, whereby one strand of the helix binds perfectly with its partner. DNA has two types of digital information--the genes that encode proteins, which are the molecular machines of life, and the gene regulatory networks that specify the behaviour of the genes.
Article
Satisfactory explanation of the past is possible even when prediction of the future is impossible.
Article
Darwin's greatest contribution to science is that he completed the Copernican Revolution by drawing out for biology the notion of nature as a system of matter in motion governed by natural laws. With Darwin's discovery of natural selection, the origin and adaptations of organisms were brought into the realm of science. The adaptive features of organisms could now be explained, like the phenomena of the inanimate world, as the result of natural processes, without recourse to an Intelligent Designer. The Copernican and the Darwinian Revolutions may be seen as the two stages of the one Scientific Revolution. They jointly ushered in the beginning of science in the modern sense of the word: explanation through natural laws. Darwin's theory of natural selection accounts for the "design" of organisms, and for their wondrous diversity, as the result of natural processes, the gradual accumulation of spontaneously arisen variations (mutations) sorted out by natural selection. Which characteristics will be selected depends on which variations happen to be present at a given time in a given place. This in turn depends on the random process of mutation as well as on the previous history of the organisms. Mutation and selection have jointly driven the marvelous process that, starting from microscopic organisms, has yielded orchids, birds, and humans. The theory of evolution conveys chance and necessity, randomness and determinism, jointly enmeshed in the stuff of life. This was Darwin's fundamental discovery, that there is a process that is creative, although not conscious.
Thermodynamics of Evolution
  • Prigogine