Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Macroevolution explained by hybridization

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I encourage anyone who is honestly concerned about the “missing links” in the fossil record to review the excellent book provided at macroevolution.net. Eugene M. McCarthy, Ph.D. Genetics provides a very persuasive argument that hybridization between “species” is the source of the jumps in the fossil record.

The missing links I am referring to are with regard to the fact that no animal has gradually changed from one form to the next. In every case, there are sudden jumps in the record, with no intervening types.  I found Dr. McCarthy’s carefully written discourse extremely satisfying, answering many of the questions I outlined in prior blog posts. For all those who have argued with me regarding those issues, I refer you to the book available in its entirety at Macroevolution.net.

The Synthetic Assumption

Monday, March 10th, 2008

I made the comment that there was still some discussion about whether the known mechanisms of mutation plus natural selection were enough to account for the abundance of life forms and the course of evolutionary history as detailed by the fossil record. The crux of this question is really contained in the Synthetic Assumption, which assumes that the same mechanisms found in microevolution (within species) also applies between species, i.e. macroevolution.

To support my earlier statement, I turn to the book Macroevolution – Pattern and Process by Steven M. Stanley (1979, 1998). In this paperback edition of the book, he added a new introduction, but other than that, the rest of the volume was more or less untouched from his earlier work of 1979. Indeed, another decade has passed and the question as to whether this still reflects the consensus is one that I can’t answer without further research of more recently published material.

I added the highlight pointing out that this evolutionist admits that there is no certain answer to the paradox of the modern synthesis. This is still far from answered. I think this should settle the debate about the idea that there has been some discussion in the field about the synthetic assumption. Indeed, you may make the assumption, but that does not resolve the question unless you can support the assumption with experimental results, i.e. show the actual generation of a new family. See the page 89 quote (”yet no such change has ever been recorded”).

I will also note that this author, who is a scientific researcher in the field, has no problem using the terms microevolution, macroevolution, and evolutionist. These terms are used routinely by those in the field and are no way regarded as denigrating.

In the final quoted material, Stanley attempts to harmonize the jumps in the fossil record with an apparent violation of the synthetic assumption. He may be right about his opinion on this matter but until we have some evidence to support it, it will continue to be no more than his educated guess.

Quotes:

Pg. xiv (Introduction 1998):
THE GREAT PARADOX OF THE MODERN SYNTHESIS
Ingrained in the Modern Synthesis of evolution, but never widely addressed or even acknowledged, was a remarkable paradox. In the laboratory, geneticists were orchestrating the evolution of fruit flies, an investigation that entailed selection coefficients so large that they would have transformed any radically different taxon in 104 to 105 generations. Paleontologists, on the other hand, had data in hand showing that fossils similar enough to be assigned to a single species encompassed very little change over millions of years; in fact, George Gaylord Simpson himself estimated that an average species of animals had survived for about 5 million years! Strangely, neither geneticists nor paleontologists blinked an eye when they encountered the other group’s data. No one attempted to reconcile the incompatible rates. The emergence of the punctuational model awakened researchers to the reality of evolutionary stability and led to research showing that this phenomenon is far more common than almost all modern evolutionists — paleontological or neontological — had previously envisioned.

[The author goes on to describe comprehensive studies revealing a prevalence of stasis, using a project to assess rates of evolution in strictly morphological terms.]

Pg. xxvii (Introduction 1998):
WHY ARE SPECIES SO STABLE
Why have so many populous, well-established species changed so little in the course of millions of years, and why has so much change occurred rapidly (presumably in small, localized populations)? These are complementary questions… At present, we have no certain answer, but part of the explanation must lie in the complexity of living organisms. A species is an incredibly intricate, self-regulating, self-replicating entity. Only very rare genetic accidents confer substantial phenotypic changes that are in some way useful to such an entity without disrupting another aspect of the development of its coadapted system. It seems likely that in small populations that occupy unusual habitats wherein competition and predation are relaxed, natural selection sometimes has the opportunity to eliminate potentially deleterious side effects that arise when an otherwise beneficial new trait evolves. Such settings must be the sites of fixation of distinctive traits that would have next to no chance of spreading throughout a very large population.

…What seems evident is that there is not generally an adequate supply of continuous variation to allow unidirectional natural selection to modify traits persistently. If such lability were normally present (if pleitropy and morphogenetic entanglements created no barriers), then changing biotic environments, as well as opportunities for improved adaptation without environmental change, would have produced much more conspicuous phyletic evolution than we observe in the fossil record.

Pg. 2 (Introduction):
There has, however, been some criticism of paleontology for its limited contribution to evolutionary theory (Kitts, 1974, Hecht, 1974). The basic role of the fossil record in Darwin’s general paradigm was simply to provide evidence of large-scale biotic turnover and long-term increase in the complexity and variety of life. More than a century transpired following Darwin’s contribution with little expansion of this role. While the broad outlines of the history of life fell into place, paleontologists did little to elucidate the underlying mechanisms and processes of evolutionary change. Even so, there have been highlights in the progress of paleontology within its traditional bounds, perhaps the brightest of these being the publication of G. G. Simpson’s Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944) and, to a lesser extent because of overlap, its sequel, The Major Features of Evolution (1953). … In the first book, Simpson adopted the idea of Goldschmidt (1940) that evolutionary research could be divided into the study of microevolution, or changes within species, and the study of macroevolution, or evolution above the species level. Goldschmidt believed that a natural discontinuity actually exists within the evolution of life–that species and higher taxa arise only through sudden chromosomal changes, while the conventional process of natural selection acts upon genes to produce only lesser modifications within species.

Pg. 37 (summary of The Fabric of Evolution):
An important issue of evolutionary biology is whether most net evolutionary change in the history of life occurs in association with the branching of lineages (speciation) or by the gradual transformation of well-established species (phyletic evolution). The first alternative represents the punctuational model of evolution and the second, the gradualistic model. In subsequent chapters, evidence will be presented that the speciational model is valid. Phyletic evolution accounts for enough change in many lineages that intergrading chronospecies are recognized, but it will be argued, such evolution seldom produces major morphologic transitions.

Pg. 88
The invertebrate [fossil] record provides abundant evidence opposing the idea that gaps hide major phyletic trends. As Gould and Eldredge (1977) have put it, “stasis is data.” Omission of this message from most discussions of the gradualistic and puntuational views would seem to represent the forest not being seen for the trees. Attention has been paid largely to lineages that seem to exhibit measurable phyletic evolution, but to these must be added the much larger number of lineages that display so little phyletic evolution that none has yet been pointed out: most of the lineages are assigned to a single species.

Pg. 89
Myriads of invertebrate lineages have been traced through time by sequential sampling in the determination of stratigraphic ranges for species. … Any one of the thousands of statigraphic ranges of species that have been delimited could have been found to record suffient evolutionary change within 5 or 10 My (million years) to display the transition from one family to another, yet no such change has ever been recorded….

The examination of any well-fossilized invertebrate group will show that many family level transitions have occurred during intervals in the order of 50 My. Thus, documented rates of large-scale evolution are so high that, for phyletic evolution to have played a major role in large scale transformation, phyletic transitions from genus to genus within about 5 My would have to be commonplace in phylogeny.

In fact, only rarely has a lineage been found to yield what is considered to be a new genus. On the contrary, an average species of marine echinoids, bivalves, gastropods, or brachiopods has survived for at least 5 My without even evolving enough to be regarded as a new species. (Durham, 1969; Stanley 1975a).

Pg. 176
THE CONTINUITY OF EVOLUTION
Having argued that the unusual new features are normally fixed rapidly in association with phylogenetic branching, I feel compelled to address the question of continuity of both rate and process in evolution. To some workers, punctuational schemes seem inherently to imply a belief in discontinuity of rate and process, threatening the very foundations of the Modern Synthesis. Bock (1970, p 705) has seen as the the “fundamental cornerstone” of the Modern Synthesis what he has called the synthetic assumption, “that macroevolutionary changes can be explained completely by the known microevolutionary mechanisms and that no additional or special macroevolutionary mechanisms exist. Microevolution and macroevolution constitute a continuum of change.” Is this continuum challenged by the punctuational scheme advocated here?

The question of continuity is strongly linked to scale of observation. In the distant perspective of geologic time, phylogeny in the punctuational model takes on a disjointed appearance. This picture is misleading, however, in that as we magnify our view, almost any mode of transition, except special creation or the extreme hopeful monster concept, entails a continuum of descent–a graded series of generations from ancestral taxon to descendant taxon. For any rapid change of the sort proposed in this chapter, a minimum of three generations is required: A transition from parent to aberrant offspring to a generation in which the new feature is fixed by inbreeding. Usually, more than three generations and more than one genetic change will be required for quantum speciation.

Thus, I see the punctuational model as differing from the gradualistic Modern Synthesis largely in emphasis. It is convenient to divide this difference into two components: (1) that relating to the production of phenotypic variability, and (2) that relating to the factors that guide evolution by acting upon this variability.

In the production of variability, point and chromosomal mutations may be quite discrete features, yet point mutations must play a role in quantum speciation. Especially important here must be mutations of regulatory genes, but certainly also, to some degree, mutations of structural genes. If we look in the opposite direction, synthetic theorists were forced, by the very evidence of its occurrence, to accommodate chromosomal transformation, though they did so with little emphasis. (Among other things, it has long been accepted that new species of plants often arise in the form of single, polyploid individuals.) Thus, both chromosomal and point mutations are accepted in each model of evolution. The punctuational model simply stresses “high amplitude” sources of variability–ones, like changes in gene regulation, by which relatively pronounced morphologic modification issues from few genetic alterations. The Modern Synthesis laid greater importance to “low-amplitude” point mutations and sexual recombination, from which major transformations were thought to have been wrought gradually, over many generations, by the selective accumulation of infinitesimal steps.

Is mutation+selection enough?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I made a comment recently that there was continued discussion that evolutionary theory did not sufficiently account for the fossil record, in that mutation + selection is perhaps insufficient to create the diversity of life we see before us, in concert with the manner in which life forms appear and progress in the fossil record.

In response to a request for references, I submit this article, and will enhance it over time. First, I will refer to Stephen J. Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory for the bulk of the support I will turn to. Indeed, if this volume were a bit less lengthy, I would suggest that everyone read it cover to cover. In the end, you may agree with my assertion that Gould was trying to dance around some serious differences between the fossil record and the underlying theory of how evolution proceeds.I also submit this in response to claims that the terms microevolution and macroevolution, and even evolutionist are terms that are used in derision by creationists and have no scientific foundation. All of these terms are used routinely by Gould.

In the closing chapter of the book, Gould reveals the purpose of the volume.
Pg. 1339: “This book attempts to expand and alter the premises of Darwinism, in order to build an enlarged and distinctive evolutionary theory that, while remaining within the tradition, and under the logic of Darwinian argument, can also explain a wide range of macroevolutionary phenomena lying outside the explanatory power of extrapolated modes and mechanisms of microevolution.”

Pg. 1276: “The conventional mechanisms of microevolution cannot, in their extrapolation through geological immensity, fully explain the causes and patterns of evolutionary change at larger scales.”

Pg. 651: “But the empirical record of the great majority of well-documented fossil species affirms stasis throughout the geological range. The causes for observed nondirectionality within species have not been fully resolved…” (and then he goes on to explain some theoretical solutions.)

Pg. 756: “Darwin argues that species may arise so slowly that they process generally takes longer than the entire duration of a geologic formation (usually several million years)–thus explaining the apparent stasis within a formation as gradual evolution over insufficient time to record visible change!”

Pg. 757: “Darwin knew perfectly well–as all paleontologists always have–that stasis and abrupt appearance represent the norm for the observed history of most species…. Darwin attributed this striking discordance between theoretical expectation and actual observation to the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.”

Pg 759: “The fossil record may, after all, be 99 percent imperfect, but if you can , nonetheless, sample a species at a large number of horizons well spread out over several million years, and if these samples record no net change, with beginning and end points substantially the same, and with only mild and errant fluctuation among the numerous collections in between, then a conclusion of stasis rests on the presence of data, not on absence! In such cases, we must limit our lament about imperfection to a wry observation that nature, rather than human design, has established a sampling scheme by providing only occasional snapshots over a full interval. We might have preferred a more even temporal spacing of these snapshots, but so long as our samples span the temporal range of species, with reasonable representation throughout, why grouse and nature’s failure to match optimal experimental design–when she has, in fact, been very kind to us in supplying abundant information. Stasis is data.”

Pg 759: “Paleontologists therefore came to view stasis as just another failure to document evolution. Stasis existed in overwhelming abundance, as every paleontologist always knew. But this primary signal of the fossil record, defined as an absence of data for evolution, only highlighted our frustration–and certainly did not represent anything worth publishing. Paleontology therefore fell into a literally absurd vicious circle. No one ventured to document or quantify–indeed, hardly anyone bothered to mention or publish at all–the most common pattern in the fossil record: the stasis of most morpho-species throughout the geologic duration”

Pg 760: All paleontologists recognized the phenomenon, but few scientists write papers about failure to document a desired result. As a result, most nonpaleontologists never learned about the predominance of stasis, and simply assumed that gradualism must prevail, as illustrated by the exceedingly few cases that became textbook “classics”: The coiling of Gryphaea, the increasing body size of horses, etc. (Interestingly, nearly all these “classics” have since been disproved, thus providing another triumph of hope and expectation over evidence–See Gould 1972).

Pg 760 (…John Imbrie … [applied] quantitative methods… to the classic sequence of Devonian brachiopods from the Michigan Basin–where rates of sedimentation had been sufficiently slow and continuous to record any hypothetical gradualism. He studied more than 30 species in this novel and rigorous way–and found that all but one had remained stable throughout the interval, while the single exception exhibited an ambiguous pattern. But Imbrie did not publish a triumphant paper documenting the important phenomenon of stasis. Instead, he just become disappointed at such “negative” results after so much effort. He buried his data in a technical taxonomic monograph that no working biologist would ever encounter (and that made no evolutionary claims at all)–and eventually left the profession for something more “productive”.)

Pg 763 Traditional paleontology therefore placed itself into a straightjacket that made the practice of science effectively impossible: only a tiny percentage of cases passes muster at all…

As Hallam said to me many years ago, after he had disproved the classical story of gradualism in Graphaea: more than 100 other species of mollusks, many with records as rich as Graphaea’s, occur in the same Liassic rocks, yet no one ever documented the stratigraphic history of even a single one in any study of evolution, for all demonstrate stasis. Scientists picked out the only species that seemed to illustrate gradualism, and even this case failed.

I find this situation particularly frustrating as paleontology’s primary example of an insidious phenomenon in science that simply has not been recognized for the serious and distorting results perpetrated under its aegis. Most scientists do not even recognize the problem–though some do, particularly in the medical and social sciences, where the error has been named “publication bias,” … In publication bias, prejudices arising from hope, cultural expectation, or the definitions of a particular scientific theory dictate that only certain kinds of data will be viewed as worthy of publication, or even of documenting at all. … and may be much more common than fraud.

pg 767: “In the most elegant documentation of stasis for an entire fauna of molluscan species, Stanly and Yang (1987) used this best criterion [of stasis] to find that temporal fluctuation remained with in the range of geologic variation for the same species. They could therefore affirm stasis in the most biologically convincing manner.

Pg 768: (IMPORTANT) At an average species lifetime of 4 million years, a 1-percent criterion allows 40,000 years for speciation. When we recognize that such a span of time would be viewed as gradualistic –and extremely slow paced at that–by any conventional microevolutionary scaling in human time; and when we also acknowledge that the same span represents the resolvable moment of a single bedding plane in a great majority of geological circumstances; then we can understand why the punctuations of punctuated equilibrium do not represent de Vriesian saltations, but rather denote the proper scaling of ordinary speciation into geologic time.

Pg 782: We must abandon our concept of constant change operating within a sensible, stately range of rates as the normal condition of an evolving entity. We must then reformulate evolutionary change as a set of rare episodes, short in duration relative to periods of stasis between.

pg 798: The pattern of punctuated equilibrium has been well documented and shown to predominate in many situations but is more obvious theoretical rationale has now fallen under strong skepticism…. We must identify another reason for the predominance of punctuated equilibrium as a pattern in the history of life.

Pg. 986: Standard creationist literature on punctuated equilibrium rarely goes beyond the continuous recycling of two false characterizations: the conflation of punctuated equilibrium with the true saltationism of Goldschmidt’s hopeful monsters, and the misscaling of punctuated equilibrium’s genuine breaks between species to the claim that no intermediates exist for the largest morphological transitions between classes and phyla…. I have written numerous essays in my popular series, spanning ten printed volumes, on the documentation of this style of intermediacy in a variety of lineages, including the transition to terrestriality in vertebrates, the origin of birds, and the evolution of mammals, whales and humans–the very cases that the usual creationist literature has proclaimed impossible.

Pg 1037: I advocate nothing original in asking evolutionists to focus upon the empirically positive concept of constraint as channels for change, rather than (as in the negative meaning) limits to natural selection imposed by insufficient raw material in variation.

Pg 1272: A Darwinian world view that had become too narrow in its focus on organismal adaptation and sufficiency of known microevolutionary mechanisms to explain all scales of evolutionary change. [He goes on in the final chapters to present some ideas that might be useful.]

Pg 1273: Retrotransposons, for example, constitute about 40 percent of mammalian genomes (Karazian, 2000). The human genome includes about 500,000 truncated versions and some 3000 to 5000 full copies of the LINE-1 long terminal repeat. Chromosome 2 of Aradibopsis includes 239 tandem duplications involving 593 genes. A larger duplication of almost 2.5 million bases appears on two chromosomes in four large blocks. A long stretch of chromosome 4, including 37 genes, has been duplicated on chromosome 5. Chromosome 2 also contains a region with 75 percent of the mitochondrial genome, reflecting a recent transfer of substantial block of DNA from an organelle to the nucleus (Meyerowitz, 1999)…

Neutral Theory of molecular evolution

Pg 686: The Neutral theory of molecular evolution… has been since hailed as the most interesting revision of evolutionary theory since Darwin. Motoo Kimura’s classical categories of evidence [in papers between 1968 and 1991] all depend on the observation that maximal rates of nucleotide change occur at sites that do not influence the organismal phenotype–on the reasonable assumption that organismal selection usually acts in the stabilizing mode to preserve favorable sequences, and that sites under selective influence must therefore change at less than the maximal rate. The threefold confirmation of this prediction provides powerful evidence for the neutral theory–(1) for synonymous substitutions of the third nucleotide in a triplet; (2) for much higher rates of change in untranslated introns than in surrounding exons; and (3) for entirely untranslated pseudogenes, where rates at all three positions of triplets match the rapid third-position rate for translated DNA.

Pg 686: Kimura has always stressed the high frequency of neutral substitutions as his main challenge to Darwinian traditions. He writes, for example (1991) that “in sharp contrast to the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection, the neutral theory claims that the overwhelming majority of evolutionary changes at the molecular level are caused by random fixation (due to random sampling drive in finite populations) of selectively neutral (i.e. seletively equivalent) mutants under continued inputs of mutations.” At the same time, Kimura consistently insisted…that the neutral theory did not contradict or dethrone Darwinism, but should be integrated with natural selection into a more complete and more generous account of evolution…. Although most nucleotide changes may be neutral at their origin, the variability thus provided may then become indispensible for adaptive evolution of phenotypes if environmental change promotes formerly neutral substitutions to organismic visibility…

[Kimura's] view is that in every species, there is an enormous amount of molecular change. Eventually, some changes become phenotypically important; if the environment changes, some of the neutral molecules may be selected and this of course follows the Darwinian scheme.


The main problem between the fossil record and the concept of continuous “random” mutations preserved through the law of survival of the fittest driven by natural selection is that the fossil record does not show the gradual changes originally envisioned by Darwin, and subsequent theories to account for punctuated equilibrium are unsatisfying.Gould at least admits that paleontology was in a vicious circle of denial. I wonder how much of this publication bias continues to persist regarding evolutionary theory when compared with the historical record.(More to be added to this line of thought from other references…)

“Evolution” is misunderstood

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

I’ve come across this situation before. Take two groups of people who come from different specialties, and they’ll use the same word but build quite different images in their minds. If you continue in that mode, rarely can you reach agreement on anything because the parties are not effectively communicating, and they consistently wonder why the other group doesn’t get it.

Evolution is one of those terms. The related forms evolutionist and evolutionism are problems too.

Forgive me if this seems simplistic. It isn’t and is the basis for most disagreement among those who support creationism, intelligent-design, and those who support evolution.

Although the term evolution was already in use prior to Charles Darwin’s theory was published in 1859, the term evolution usually has some connection with his theory. The Encarta dictionary says that for biology, it is the theoretical process by which all species develop from earlier forms of life.

This term is also used for changes in nearly any field, such as the evolution of music, evolution of language, and the evolution of computer technology, and implies gradual changes over time.

Determining how any field has changed over time is the work of a historian of one sort or another, and sometimes they have specific names. Understanding how ancient life forms have changed over time is the work of the paleontologist, who primarily gets his information from the fossil record.

The information in the fossil record is found in the form of fossils where the body of the organism has been converted to rock under very specific conditions that will occur only rarely. Soft, fleshy bodies won’t be found much, if at all, and only the hard skeleton or shells will be generally part of the record.

Scientists who refine the theory of evolution work only up to a theoretical first organism which has sufficient infrastructure to follow the laws of Mendelian genetics, natural selection, and chance mutation. They draw the line there and assume that anything before that point is impossible to comment on because there is no evidence regarding exactly how the first such organism took form.

Consider Stephen J. Gould’s comment on this topic from his work of popular nonfiction Bully for Brontosaurus:

Pg. 455: Evolution is not the study of life’s ultimate origin as a path toward discerning its deepest meaning. Evolution, in fact, is not the study of origins at all. Even the more restricted (and scientifically permissible) question of life’s origin on our earth lies outside its domain. (This interesting problem, I suspect, falls primarily within the purview of chemistry and the physics of self-organizing systems.) Evolution studies the pathways and mechanisms of organic change following the origin of life.

However, some scientists include the topic of life’s origins within the more general topic of evolution, such as John Maynard Smith in The Major Transitions in Evolution. Indeed, it seems somewhat artificial to stop the inquiry about life at the point where present-day evolutionary principles are in effect. Smith considers the sticky point of how DNA could possibly come about and how cells came to be. So it is not universal that all scientists restrict evolution to the period when life became sophisticated enough such that natural selection and Mendelian genetics could be the underlying principles driving evolution. But it certainly is convenient because they can pin this part down much more clearly and claim it is closer to fact than theory.

Ask the man on the street about evolution and they’ll likely tell you the theory also includes the concept that life started here on earth as a chance accretion of matter.

Such an accretion is possible, but it seems quite unlikely. It is working against the law of entropy and a tendency toward randomness. Perhaps it can be argued that the structure of our universe is particularly amenable to such a self-assembly, and therefore this consequence is quite normal. However, the steps required are still a mystery. It appears now that it is not a simple matter at all, but still not impossible. Most theories assume that self-replicating RNA-like sequences were first, and then they eventually built DNA. But the step from RNA to DNA is not direct and the process is certainly unclear at this point. Nevertheless, with billions of years available for the process, it may still be possible, and we may eventually understand how self-assembly may be possible.

From the mind of a theologian, the concept of an evolutionist also includes this self-organizing interval while the scientists uses the word for the scientist who only works with Darwinian-rooted evolutionary principles. This is where the disconnect occurs.

I’m sorry to say that the blame is properly put on the scientific community who took the general term evolution and employed it for a more specific specialty. They say that evolution is fact–not theory–but they are only referring to the well understood interval after complex, DNA-based organisms were part of the picture. Others say that evolution is only theory after all, and they are right too, because they are also including the initial formation of life on earth.

The options for what may have happened at the initial formation of life include only two possibilities. 1) life self-organized or 2) life was assisted in this organization.

Evolutionism assumes it self-organized here on earth and did not require any assistance either from a supreme being or another life form. Until we can prove that this is possible, possibly by recreating the process, this will be only an untested theory.

Intelligent Design assumes that the structures found are too complex to have arisen by chance against the general tendency of entropy. Most ID advocates also insist that the only solution is that a supreme being created life here on earth, mostly in line with creationism arguments.

If life was assisted by other life, then perhaps life did not arise here and was not created here, but either arose or was created somewhere else and then seeded here. This is also a difficult alternative as it implies that some form of life would be able to get to this particular location of the universe, find the right conditions, and establish life on the planet. If some of the issues of space travel were resolved, this may be the most likely scenario. If that is the case, then life may have been assisted at other times as well.

Unfortunately, this does not solve the problem completely, as it would then push the origin of life back only one step, to have arisen on another world and perhaps different conditions. It may be true, but it does not answer the ultimate question about how life originally arose, only pushes the question back one step.

With all this said, I think that if all parties understood and acknowledged that we really don’t know how this all got started, the positions of the various points of view could be seen as equally valid until we get more information. However, unless there is some way to prove that a supreme being exists, there is no equality when it comes to that point of view, and therefore we are really only considering the possibility that life arose here or life arose elsewhere and was seeded here.

If science can resolve the steps necessary for life to self-organize and a good case made that such could have been the case when earth first formed, then this would improve the likelihood that evolution (all the way back to the origin of life) is fact. I would like to see life created in the laboratory to substantiate this theory. Then, evolutionism would win and it becomes science.

With all that said, finding a convincing description of DNA, natural selection, and the underlying pattern of life in ancient documents is one more data point to be considered, and is the core concept of the novel Coils of the Serpent, and it then begs the question about how the description got into those ancient documents.

What is this blog about?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

The novel Coils of the Serpent has inspired quite a number of questions and comments on forums and blogs across the Internet. The pattern match described in the novel prompts a re-evaluation of some of the conclusions we have drawn about the history of life on earth and religious doctrine.

This blog will be a convenient place to provide additional insight and background information to support the various claims and conclusions reached in the novel. Indeed, since the novel deals with cutting-edge science in the area of genetics, evolution, and life’s origins, new information is bound to surface which will need to be included in our thinking process. As an interested fellow researcher in this domain, I encourage you to take part and contribute to the discussion.

Although I originally envisioned the novel as nonfiction, I recast the information as fiction for better marketability. Yet, I still believe a nonfiction treatment is viable. Hopefully, this blog will facilitate interaction with site visitors and will coalesce the information for future release as a nonfiction work.

I want to thank you in advance for your participation!

Raymond Clark Lutz