Monday, October 3, 2011

The mystery of the Origin of Life

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About 4 billion years ago the planet that today is called Earth came to live than years later life came to exist on that planet that humans live on today. But since then humans the search for knowledge about the origin of humanity is as troubled human minds. Since then the greatest have not stopped figuring out how they came to life but have never found an answer and today this problem is one of the greatest mysteries unsolved by human minds.


The search for how life began on Earth can be dated as far as prehistoric times. The men and women of that time spoke of the wind and the trees, of water and fishes, and of fire and birds as if they were all living things but years later realized that animals are alive while other things are dead. They then tried to understand what it was that made them different so they gathered facts about living things and tried to come with theories about how life began; they proposed that life was the same as breath because they thought of the life or spirit of an animal as a thing that was separate from its body. But as modern science proved life is not a thing but a process made up of all the movements of the body so this theory then was not valuable. (Irving Adler 1-)


This answer given by the primitive man was based on his limited experience but he was a maker of things and thought just like he made things plants and animals were made by somebody else, a supreme being that they called Gods. From that these men proposed that these Gods must have molded animals and men out of clay and gave them life by blowing breath into them but after scientists collected a lot of facts about living things they rejected that theory (Irving ).


“The knowledge of the ancient scientists was limited by the weakness of the human eye” says Irving Adler in his book How Life Began (4) and this explains how both theories proposed by the early inhabitants of earth were inaccurate and not true. But he goes farther and explains why these flaws occurred.


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[…] They were able to observe things that were large enough to be seen by the naked eye. But where things too small to be seen by the naked eye, they did not even know that they existed. Their knowledge was also limited by its spotty character. They had bits and snatches of information gathered by accidental observation. They did not carry on thorough, systematic experiments the way scientists do today. Their knowledge was mixed with great amounts of ignorance. Their gaps in their knowledge introduced serious errors into their theories. (4)


Scientists around this time knew that life produces life when they say earthworms coming out of the soil and mice appearing from nowhere. They did not know that these animals came from eggs or one of their same so they thought the soil produced worms an so on and this brought them to believe that life is always growing out of dead matter thus the theory of spontaneous generation adopted by the Greek philosopher Aristotle and used for hundred years until European scientists proposed the theory of evolution.


The word evolution refers to the change of something over a period of time (Websters 64). In biology, the theory of evolution is the complex of processes by which living organisms originated on earth and have been diversified and modified through sustained changes in form and function(Valentine). This theory proposes that between 4 million and 10 million years ago, all organisms on earth had a common ancestor and that through a process of evolution, all living organisms descended from this common ancestor (Coyne).The first step towards the theory of evolution started with Louis Pasteur. “Through a series of experiments he proved that there are germs floating in the air and that they settle on everything around us”, says Irving Adler and with this finding he showed that the theory of spontaneous generation was false with his belief that it is a law of life that living things come only from living things, and like produces like and paved the way to the theory of evolution. (Irving 7). Chevalier de Lamarck, a French naturalist proposed a theory of evolution in 180 but people did not believe in evolution so his idea did not get much scientific consideration until Charles R. Darwin announced his theory of evolution (Coyne).


When in November 4, 185 Darwin published his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored races in the Struggle for Life it turned out to be one of the best books ever written and it changed forever the way people thought about life on earth. In it Darwin said that he did not deny that God created all life on earth but that he saw plenty of proofs that earth’s plants and animals had not remained unchanged since Creation. “Darwin said that earth’s species had changed, or evolved, from other forms into their present form. This took millions of years to happen. And it happened through a process called natural selection” (1-). Darwin found out that there is a competition to survive among individuals of the same animal or plant group. Darwin also saw that nature provides some individuals of a group with some advantages that helps them beat out others, survive, and reproduce. But Darwin pointed out that these individuals pass these traits onto their offspring while the other “weak” members do not survive and their kind dies out. “Over the years, the small differences add up. The form of a plant or animal species may change. Some less fit forms die our, but may be preserved as fossils. Perhaps similar species, somewhat changed in form, survive and live on.” Darwin also said that animals of the same class who differ completely from each other like the horse and the porpoise may have body parts that are similar and from that deducted that there was a common ancestor. He then laid out that human beings and animals were related. (-4) Darwin is the most well known scientist to write on evolution but at the beginning he was persecuted by Creationists and scientists who were jealous of him.


There are many different variations on the theory of evolution. One related idea to evolution is gradualism. Gradualism is the idea that evolutionary changes do not occur suddenly but over large amounts of time, ranging from decades to millions of years(Coyne). Genetic drift is another way that scientists define evolution. When two of a species mate, their offspring gets chromosomes from both parents. When a gene does not split and combine correctly, a mutation occurs. This mutation will get passed down from the creature to its offspring. In this way a species can permanently be changed (Coyne). Scientists who have accepted the general theory of evolution as fact disagree among themselves about the ratio of importance between natural selection and genetic drift. They also disagree about what caused the apparent gaps in fossil layers. New species abruptly(Valentine) appear in the fossil record with no apparent mutation from another species, then remain unchanged for long periods of time. They do not seem to exhibit the gradual changes that would be expected by modern evolutionists (Valentine). Many people, including those in the scientific community, do not accept the theory of evolution as fact.


While many scientists today do no approve with the theory of evolution they have espoused two main theories about the origin of life either living identities came fro outer space or it arose spontaneously by chance, an explanation that scientists mostly prefer. But to historians both theories are ironic for the belief in the spontaneous origin of life was supposed to have been put to rest by Pasteur in the 1800s. But nonetheless pendent questions arise concerning the spontaneity of life, whether or not life originated from a space, a supreme power or polyphyletic. (Taylor 1-00)


While waiting for an answer some scientists became with an answer about when this event happened. Some scientists like Gordon Rattrap Taylor proposed how life came on earth.


It was very early, perhaps after billion years of the earth’s four-and-a-half-billion years history when conditions were, one might think, still inimical to it. The earth’s crust was just only forming; the central land mass had not yet separated distinctively from the sea. Greta upheavals and sinkings were still taking place. The temperature was high according to some authorities, it was as high as 50o C (over 10o F), which is about as hot as a cup of coffee. The atmosphere must have been darkened by the sulfurous fumes of volcanoes and even the sea was laden with toxic substances. But only beneath the surface of the sea could life conceivably manifest, for powerful ultra-violet rays were pouring through the tin atmosphere and would have destroyed the complex molecules which form the basis of living material. (00)


Any man who examines a part of the evidence of evolution must be convinced that life forms started as very sample cells which associated in more and more complex forms and developed as the years went by but Creationists deny this on biblical backgrounds and most, not all claim the various forms of life appeared because of a “fiat” of the Creator and not by evolution. Darwin proposed to explain these changes and proposed that variation occurred by chance giving more advantage to the fittest. (Taylor )


But when Darwin was alive, his theory was attacked by many scientists and religious leaders (Coyne) and even after. In the 100s, United States public high schools began teaching evolution in science classes. By the 10s, laws in twenty states to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools had been proposed by people who did not want their children being indoctrinated. They considered the teaching of the theory to be part of a dangerous trend toward the separation of religious beliefs from everyday life(Coyne). Several of the proposed laws were passed into effect in states including Arkansas and Tennessee but however, in 168 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that laws banning the teaching of evolution were unconstitutional because they made religious considerations part of the curriculum(Coyne). The courts continue to give rulings on creation and evolution in schools, some have come as recently as 187(Coyne).


The fight to keep evolution out of the classroom and out of human minds is still persevering. Those who are pushing to keep evolution out of the public schools are primarily creationists. Creation is the belief that a Supreme Being created the universe and all its contents from nothing (Vawter). Many different people have believed different stories of how and why this was accomplished. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are a few of the major faiths that teach Creation. There are many differences in what different people believe. Many Jews and Christians with a literal interpretation of the Bible or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, believe that God created the universe and all that is in it in six 4 hour days. They believe that each species on earth has remained relatively the same since the Creation. These people base their beliefs on the Bible and some use fossil evidence of long consistencies and abrupt changes (Valentine). Others believe that God created everything, but not in six days. Still others believe that God created the universe by lighting the fuse the big bang was Gods way of creating the universe.


Many people have gone in search for proof that the universe was created by a Supreme Being. The case for Intelligent Design was argued by Reverend William Paley of Carlisle, England in his 180 book Natural Theology. Paley knew there cannot be design without a designer; contrivance without a contriver.... The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is God(Miller). Paleys examples are examples that form a line of reasoning known as the argument from design(Miller). Even some evolutionists have come to realize that humanity is not an accident, even if they disagree with the six, 4 hour days belief. The Anthropic Principle is based on so called technical observations about the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang(Glynn 8). This principle has concluded that not only was the creation of the universe not an accident, but the existence of human life is something for which the entire universe appears to have been intricately fine-tuned from the start(8). This principle is based on universal constants such as Plancks constant and the gravitational constant. It started out as a list of coincidences, but as the list grew the more it appeared as if the universe had been designed for humanity to exist ().


The second law of thermodynamics has been extensively studied by scientists and people as another proof of creation. The second law of thermodynamics can be stated The thermodynamic principle which governs the behavior of systems is that, as they are moved away from equilibrium, they will utilize all avenues available to counter the applied gradients. As the applied gradients increase, so does the systems ability to oppose further movement from equilibrium(Schneider 0). In every system, the entropy, or disorder, will increase, not decrease. This is one of a number of different analogies to simplify this law. There is a box with ten equal compartments. Ten thousand marbles are released into one compartment. If the box is randomly shaken, it is expected that the marbles would pass through the open doors in each compartment and there would be approximately 1000 marbles in each compartment. It is highly improbable, yet not impossible that if the box continued to be shaken randomly, that all the marbles would go back into the same compartment they started in(8). The second law of thermodynamics is an excellent argument for creation. Creationists stand in awe of the perfection of the earth... If it were a little farther away from the sun the entire planet would be one gigantic Antarctica; if it were a little closer, it would be one continuous Sahara Desert. Earths placement is precise; and that, my friends, is not a result of chance(Limbaugh 154). There are infinite numbers of variables. If one were changed just slightly, like the distance from the sun, Earth would be inhabitable and humans would not exist. This leads these people to use the second law of thermodynamics as an argument. An ordered world like Earth could not exist in a universe that was created by an explosion. Humanity itself is a good example for creation.


The differences between other animals in nature and humans are vast. However, many evolutionists claim that we are animals ourselves and Jonathan Swift shows the absurdity of this comparison in the fourth book of Gullivers Travels. Gulliver is living between two extremes the reason based Houyhnhms and the savage Yahoos. Gulliver tries so hard to fit in with the Houyhnhms, or horses. They conclude that Gulliver must be a perfect Yahoo(Suits 116), yet Gulliver believes that he is more Houyhnhm. This struggle can represent the origin struggle. The evolutionists say that humans were once like the Yahoos, but by saying that humanity evolved because of a haphazard accident, they are claiming that humans are now the superior being in the universe. They claim we are like the Houyhnhms (Sagan). Humans are not like that. The Houyhnhms are divorced of passion. They have no shame, no temptations, no conception of sin(Williams 6). Marriage is one of the necessary actions in a reasonable being(6). These definitely do not identify humanity. Gulliver understands none of this(7). Humans have the ability to use reason and humans have certain inherent desires that cannot be reasonably explained love, marriage, and a sense of right and wrong. Still the debate continues. It seems the double standard at work here is breathtaking(Glynn ). Scientists who believe in evolution are free to use detailed accounts of what happened 4 billion years ago and base it on Darwin (Sagan). But the moment scientists begin marshalling rather considerable and persuasive evidence for the opposite case, their speculation risks being branded by colleagues as unscientific(Glynn ). This parallels the third book of Gullivers Travels. The ways of the respected Laputan people were very precise, according to Gulliver. All their wise men reject what seems obviously the best way perform a task (Williams 4). Member of the Academy are seen trying to weave with spider web and make ice into gunpowder (Swift 16). Such acts of stupidity are Swifts attack on the Royal Society of England in Swifts time; however the apply perfectly too many of the scientists who reject what they do not want to see.


The argument about the origin of the universe will definitely continue. There will be those who argue both sides until this world comes to its end. To what extent people believe the Biblical teachings or what some scientists teach is a personal decision. Darwin concluded his book There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved(Miller ). The more science seems to dig and research about the origins of humanity, the less likely they will find an answer and the more likely is the theory of evolution collapsing but all the precision, consistency and detail point to a universal architect, a Supreme Being, God so scientist should accept that life was created by God and stop doing research on how life came on earth.


Bibliography


Coyne, Jerry A. Evolution. World Book. CD-ROM


Glynn, Patrick. Beyond The Death of God. National Review May 6, 168-. Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought to Be. New York Pocket Books, 1. Miller, Kenneth R. Lifes Grand Design. Technology Review. Feb./March 144- CD-ROM. 16 SIRS.


SIRS 14 Life Science. Article 5 Sagan, Carl. Snowflakes Fallen on the Hearth The Evolution of the Earth. Planetary Report. Jan./Feb. 14- CD-ROM.


Suits, Conrad. The Role of the Horsesin A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms. Modern Critical Interpretations, Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels. Ed. Harold Bloom. New YorkChelsea. 116-15 Swift, Jonathan. Gullivers Travels. New York Penguin, 160.


Taylor, Gordon Rattlay. “The Great Evolution Mystery”. Harper and Row Publishers. New York 1


Valentine, James W. Evolution. Encarta. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp14 Vawter,


Rev. Bruce. Creation. Encarta. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corp14


Websters New Twentieth Century Dictionary. Second Edition. 18


Williams, Kathleen. Animal Rationis Capax. Modern Critical Interpretations, Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels. Ed. Harold Bloom. New YorkChelsea. 7-8


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