» N.S. Books
November 3, 1997.
"Nothing exists, per se, except atoms and the void. ... Nothing arises in the body of order that we may use it, but what arises brings forth its own use. ... It was no design of the atoms that led them to arrange themselves in order with keen intelligence ... but because many atoms in infinite time have moved and met in all manner of ways, trying all combinations. ... and the generation of living creatures....Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift." (Lucretius, c. 99-55 B.C., Roman poet.)
To attempt an understanding of the first causes of life requires an appreciation of the diversity of the universe, a diversity which has come about due to the churning of matter over unimaginable periods of time. There is a great driving force working on all matter; combining and fitting, recombining and refitting. This force is observable at all levels. In this churning universe, certain combinations bind and remain bound for periods of time. In the larger context of time, nothing is still, everything is changing; but within our mortal time period somethings appear to us to be fixed, though truly they are not. The universe churns at all levels. The results of this process are evident throughout all the comos, at all levels, no matter time and place. Elemental materials become allied in time and space (mere chance brings them together, but given enough time chance approaches certainty); they attempt to bind themselves -- and some, though rarely for any extended piece of time, are "successful" at staying bound, long enough, at least, it seems, to join in on the process as an atomically or chemically bound package of cosmic materials. And as time hurtles along its eternal path, there does come about most all things imaginable, including human beings.
Clumps of protein and ribonucleic acid, at first, were adrift in the primeval soup of chemicals. The force alluded to in the previous paragraph drives them together to form deoxyribonucleic acid. Deoxyribonucleic acid, I can only imagine, is like a chemical blotter by which a successful set of building plans are passed on.
"Genetic variation is raw material; it is 'random' in the sense that mutations do not arise preferentially directed toward the production of advantageous traits. Adaptation is the result of natural selection, acting relentlessly across generations to accumulate favoured variation through the differential success of fitter individuals in producing more surviving offspring." (Gould, An Urchin in the Storm, 1987, p. 56-60. Further on, Gould says at p. 65 that "evolution is a copiously branching network, not a ladder ...")
The theory of evolution is no longer just a theory. An overwhelming amount of evidence has accumulated, especially in respect to Darwin's theory on the evolution of life here on earth. Darwin's theory is supported by a host of biological and paleontological observations; it has never been successfully refuted; it is supported and universally accepted by scientists and rejected only by religious creationists, who, incidentally, cannot support their own hypothesis, at all.
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November, 1997 (2011)