History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Mazur and OOL book

February 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

We started today with this: it got buried. I think the OOL issue is, if not insoluble, stalled, and thuswise for a long time now. As with the Altenberg book this new one by Mazur is grist for our mill here as we try to include the life question in our blog mentations. But I have never presumed to vast knowledge here: darwinism is so easy to refute you are almost better not being an expert.


A Garbage Bag World
An Interview With Freeman Dyson on the Origins of Life on Earth

“Then after that came us — stage six. That’s the end of the Darwinian era, when cultural evolution replaces biological evolution as the main driving force. “Cultural” means that the big changes in living conditions are driven by humans spreading their technology and their ways of making a living, by learning from one another rather than breeding.”

– Freeman Dyson, Eastover Farm

Several weeks ago the Lonsdale prize went to researchers who think first life was RNA, a replicating creature. So I rang up Freeman Dyson, emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, to see if he still embraces the idea that original life was a “garbage bag world,” a membranous creature with dirty water trapped inside that reproduced for a billion years or more with high rates of error before replicating.

Dyson does the math on this in his book, Origins of Life (2nd. ed.), based on Alexander Oparin’s cell-first theory of metabolism. Dyson calls it his “toy boat model,” calculated with pencil and paper, where thousands of molecular units make the leap from disorder to order with “reasonable probability.”

During our phone conversation, Dyson told me that he does indeed still hold to his hypothesis and also still thinks RNA was a byproduct of that first creature’s own metabolism, emerging as a parasite and eventual symbiotic partner. He says it doesn’t make sense that original life copied itself without getting its act together first.

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