Fred on evolution

Fred, too, has his doubts:

The question of the origin of life interested me. The evolutionary explanations that I encountered in textbooks of biology ran to, “In primeval seas, evaporation concentrated dissolved compounds in a pore in a rock, a skim formed a membrane, and life began its immense journey.” I saw no reason to doubt this. If it hadn’t been true, scientists would not have said that it was.

Remember, I was fifteen.

In those days I read Scientific American and New Scientist, the latter then still being thoughtfully written in good English. I noticed that not infrequently they offered differing speculation as to the origin of life. The belief in the instrumentality of chemical accident was constant, but the nature of the primeval soup changed to fit varying attempts at explanation.

For a while, life was thought to have come about on clay in shallow water in seas of a particular composition, later in tidal pools with another chemical solution, then in the open ocean in another solution. This continues. Recently, geothermal vents have been offered as the home of the first life. Today (Feb 24, 2005) on the BBC website, I learn that life evolved below the oceanic floor. (“There is evidence that life evolved in the deep sediments,” co-author John Parkes, of Cardiff University, UK, told the BBC News website.”)

The frequent shifting of ground bothered me. If we knew how life began, why did we have so many prospective mechanisms, none of which really worked? Evolution began to look like a theory in search of a soup. Forty-five years later, it still does.

I’ll be interested to see how many people attempt to make the case that he’s an anti-evolutionist know-nothing like Joe Carter and I simply because he’s a Christian. This is one of the more complete demolitions of the essential silliness that is neo-Darwinian evolution that I’ve seen; it will be interesting to see what the True Believers at the Panda’s Thumb make of it.

It will be particularly interesting to see if they actually provide a direct answer to a single one of his questions.