By Costas H. Constantinou
The potential for life is mainly terrestrial and its manifestation is terrestrial. In space the potential for life is cosmic, although this can also manifest in a terrestrial way, which implies two possible different evolutionary pathways for life on Earth.
In biology, the problem so far has been “to reach a simple beginning” but perhaps there is more to the story.
Going back in time to the age of the oldest rocks, more than 80 per cent of the earth itself, fossil residues of ancient life-forms discovers in the rocks do not reveal a simple beginning.
As soon as we turn from a terrestrial perspective to a cosmic view, all difficulties for biology to reach a simple beginning are either overcome or are mitigated in some degree.
It indicates strong support for the Panspermia theory first proposed by Arrhenious in 1908, which states that bacteria travel in space without meteorites either by light pressure, or if attached to dust by gravitational attraction.
An example are flies that have unnecessary capabilities. There are indications that normal drosophila melanogaster can see 2537 A radiation.
If this is true, it has some interesting bearings on biological speculation in view of the fact that light of so short a wavelength does not and probably never did occur in the environment of insects.
Another example is that the honey-bee will respond to light with a wavelength of 2970 A at the lower limit of the solar system – such environmental conditions do not exist on earth now and did not exist in past ages – or radio-resistant micrococci have the ability to withstand x-ray doses by repairing the damage with astonishing efficiency.
An interesting result is the finding of hemoglobin in certain kinds of pears. There was no reason for that to happen in order for these pears to be adapted in terrestrial environmental conditions.
These signposts show that various forms appear to possess properties that may have no right to exist in evolution according to the Darwinian Theory. As many biologists state: “The indications for insects, bees and pears, and micrococci are the same, that they possess genes with capabilities which cannot be related to their pre-existence.
That cannot have happened by chance. Having in mind how the genetic code works, i.e. that is all enzymes are proteins and each protein (except keratine) is responsible for a chemical reaction in the organisms which determine distinct capabilities of the species, there is small probability that all these adaptations happened merely by chance.
The trouble is that there are about 2000 such enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in random trial is phenomenal.
Furthermore if one uses purpose in nature as a very negative sign for Darwin. Purpose sometimes is not accepted, but chemical emergence of life is the main theme. Every biologist knows that sooner or later the word purpose appears, and to involve purpose is, in the eyes of biologists, the ultimate scientific sin, worse even than to express doubt of the validity of Darwinism.
Moreover, it is clear that no matter how large the environment one considers, life cannot have had a random beginning, meaning that purpose is necessary for the emergence of life. Also, the incompleteness of the fossil record shows a gap in Darwin’s theory.
The fossil record is highly imperfect from the Darwinian point of view, not because of the inadequacies of geologists, but because the slow evolutionary connections required by the theory simply did not happen.
There are cases, which later in time, dated fossils show less development and less adapted capabilities according to their environment than older fossil records. Is that a reverse evolution? Or if reverse evolution can work, how can the environment change so rapidly to make these genetic changes? This seems unlikely.
Besides, many distinct evolutionary lines especially of insects show some failure of Darwinian evolution, which supports the notion that it is not probable earth’s environmental conditions changed fast and in many ways.
Many biologists note scientific discovery in fields as diverse as astronomy and molecular biology have brought us in the course of only 15 years, closer to solving timeless riddles which many cultures have attempted to explain: How did the universe begin and develop? How did life originate and evolve? What is our place and destiny in the universe?” It is obvious that the evolutionary theory of Darwin cannot be thrown aside either.
Darwainism can be supported along with the example that honeybee and flies have developed capabilities that fit extraterrestrial environmental conditions on earth. The way these organisms develop these capabilities seems to follow Darwinian evolutionary pathways.
I can strongly argue that there is no single beginning since life came from somewhere else, e.g. the chemical emergence of life. The atomic abundance of some of the elements found in the sun are hydrogen (87.0%) helium (12.9%), oxygen (0.025%), and nitrogen (0.02%).
With the exception of helium, these are the very elements which constitute 99% of living matter. It also worth mentioning that chemical evolution was contemplated by Darwin, conceptualised by Oparin and Hollande, and tested experimentally by Miller and Urey.
This seems to support spontaneous generation, first proposed by Oparin, in contrast with Arrhenius’s pansepermia theory. The analysis of meteorites has very clearly indicated that organic matter is present, with carbonaceous chlorides containing as much as 5%.
It is also stated that the sequence of events between the time when only a mixture of organic precursors existed in the primitive seas of Earth and the time when, according the geological record the first living cell appeared some three billion years ago, is still a mystery.
It can be said that the mystery could be explained by the meteoritic arrival of organisms, or simply by panspermia, or even directed panspermia. It is the only portion of the entire chain of events culminating in mass, for which substantive theories and data are lacking and it is the crucial step, for it marks the transition from non-living to living systems.
The prebiotic simulation experiments and the terrestrial fossil record do, however, provide one significant difference: processes leading from organic chemicals to living systems may take place over a relatively short period of time in the lifetime of a plant.
From one point of view, that shows weakness in the theory of chemical emergence of life. Many biologists support that as organisms were evolving they were creating a more favourable environment for themselves, for example the development of photosynthetic capability, which permitted cells to derive a great deal more energy.
There are arguments that the evolution of earth was less likely to occur in limited time intervals, especially in rapid and extreme environmental changes, as some fossil records and other sciences (eg geology) showed.
Experimental evidence from genetic research, the fossil record, and comparative biochemistry of the present day species, does support the Darwinian Theory.
But as it is mentioned earlier the fossil records show discontinuity in terms of evolution and biochemistry in present day species. There are also those species with capabilities that can withstand conditions that never existed on earth.
Furthermore, eukaryotic cells should exist later in time than prokaryotic cells. But according to the latest results, experts say that both existed in the same period, which again shows conflict, given that evolution supposedly occurred only on earth and nowhere else in the universe.
Fossil record shows insect species to be essentially unchanging over time scales of 50 million years. When one considers the amazing usual acuity of birds, together with their swift mobility, it is astonishing that insects have been able to survive against them.
The situation, according to the authors*, clearly shows two possibilities: “either we are dealing with an overt plan invented by an intelligence considerably higher than our own, an intelligence which has foreseen all our chemicals and flame throwers, or the insects have already experienced selection pressure against intelligences of at least our level in many other environments elsewhere in the universe”.
There are two theories. On the one hand it is posited that evolution of intelligence was so improbable that perhaps it didn’t happen on earth. On the other, the findings of J. Desmond Clark, paleontologist from the University of California-Berkley, appeared to show that biological evolution and social/cultural evolution occurred at the same time.
For example primitive mankind could not speak because of the lack of an ability to form language but as intelligence improved language was formed.
But there is a startling new theory that revolutionises our understanding of the evolutionary process. Arguing persuasively that both the origin and the continuation of life on earth have always been subject to cosmic influences, many authors try to explain that the biological make-up of living things on our planet was radically changed by the arrival of pristine genes from outer space.
This certainly touches the ethics concerning religion and the creation of life by God. In addition to that it was concluded that the complexity of terrestrial life cannot have been caused by a sequence of random events but must have come from some greater cosmic intelligence. This posits that life, had already evolved in the universe long before the earth was born and therefore, the planet received life with some of the fundamental biochemical problems already solved.
Costas H. Constantinou, Sociology-Biology-Management (MBA)
References Sir Fred Hoyle, & Wickramasinghe Chandra, 1982, Evolution from space Sagan, Carl, 1980, Cosmos. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, 1979, by NASA.
This article is dedicated to Georgria Pavlou at ΣΟΤΑ ΔΥΚ Ltd, Larnaca