RE: Theorist: Darwin had it wrong

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Mon Apr 19 2004 - 09:27:16 EDT

The byline of the article I just posted is by Daniel Conover

Theorist: Darwin had it wrong S.C. professor says life forms arose
without common origin

By Daniel Conover
The (Charleston) Post and Courier

http://www.starnewsonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040417/NEWS/2
04170332/1001/Nation

Moorad

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Al Koop
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 9:49 PM
To: asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: Theorist: Darwin had it wrong

The Star News reporter seems like someone who has an agenda but knows
little biology. An earlier article that made a bit more sense was
published in The Post and Courier of Charleston (see below). (I hope the
Star News article was not a ripoff off of the Charleston one.) In this
story Jerry Hilbish is definitely antagonistic towards Schwabe; in the
Star News version he seems to be more on Schwabe's side. In the Star
News version a Dr. Bauer appears out of nowhere; (almost seems like the
writer took this from another article). From the bits and pieces I
could quickly glean, Schwabe is on other side of Darwin when compared to
Bill Dembski. Schwabe seems to think that the origin of life on earth
is inevitable and has happened an immense number of times; Dembski seems
to think it impossible.

I read the Star News as written by somebody who wishes to discredit
evolution (same as Darwinism in their mind) and writes a story to that
end, no matter how badly they misundertand it. In many people's minds
any anti-Darwin piece must support their own anti-Darwin viewpoint.
Well, in this case Schwabe is further away from scientic creationism
than Darwin is, but his views probably have about equal the credibility
as the scientific creationist version.

http://registration.charleston.net/registration.php?ACTION=view_signup&R
EDIRECT=http://www.charleston.net/stories/032904/sci_29theory.shtml

Story last updated at 7:30 a.m. Monday, March 29, 2004

THE THEORY

WHAT IS THE "GENOMIC POTENTIAL HYPOTHESIS"?

A general theory of biology that proposes to overturn 145 years of
Darwinian thought while integrating the life sciences with physics and
chemistry. The theory, first published in 1984, is little known even
within the academic community and is not generally accepted.

GPH claims that chemistry, not random chance or theology, provides the
sole driving force for the assembly of life. Biochemist Christian
Schwabe contends that given the right mix of chemicals and conditions,
living organisms will be produced at a predictable rate and in
predictable forms, not just on Earth, but on similar planets.

HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM DARWIN?

Charles Darwin suggested that all life on Earth emerged from a single
chance event and evolved through the process of "natural selection" --
that is, the reproductive success of creatures with traits that aid
their chances of survival.

Schwabe rejected randomness and calculated that the odds against chance
producing DNA would require more combinations of events than there are
seconds in the history of the universe. Though most of the serious study
of evolution and the origin of life had come from biologists, Schwabe
thought the answer might be found through another field of study:
chemistry.

Because the shapes of individual molecules make certain chemical bonds
more likely than others, Schwabe proposed that these natural
inclinations (or "biases") created an ordered cycle of chemical
reactions. Over hundreds of millions of years, this chain of tens of
thousands of reactions produced organic compounds and, ultimately, DNA
and simple organisms.

Schwabe said life emerged all over the planet more or less
simultaneously, with each independently produced organism containing a
different set of genetic instructions, "genome." Because of the unique
chemical bonds in each genome, some organisms were predisposed to evolve
into more sophisticated forms. Evolution, Schwabe said, is the action of
each independent origin achieving its "genomic potential."

BUT IF SCHWABE REJECTS RANDOM CHANCE, HOW CAN HE CLAIM THAT BLIND
CHEMICAL REACTIONS WOULD EVER PRODUCE SOMETHING AS COMPLEX AS A STRAND
OF DNA?

Because, Schwabe said, "Molecules are virtually loaded dice."

Think of a molecule as a child's LEGO toy floating in a sea of other
LEGO pieces: The number and configuration of the connecting points on
the molecule "LEGO" make some connections more likely than others. As
the floating LEGOs form larger and more complex objects, new
probabilities are created by the resulting shapes and connecting points.
Eventually, Schwabe said, these molecular biases -- based on the unique
subatomic structure of carbon -- direct the creation of increasingly
complex compounds. Earth's primordial chemical soup, he contends, was
self-ordering.

Schwabe proposes that life emerged from a catalytic cycle that either
resulted in living cells or dumped the raw materials back into the pool
to begin the cycle again. Otherwise, Schwabe said, one has to believe
that something as elegantly complex as double-helix DNA could arise by
accident, along with the cellular processes, compounds and structures
necessary to sustain life.

OK, I UNDERSTAND WHAT HE'S PROPOSING ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF LIFE. HOW DOES
SCHWABE EXPLAIN THE MECHANISMS OF EVOLUTION?

The best answer is: "In no great detail." He proposes that a simple
genome will evolve to create an end-result species that was always the
highest potential expression of its original genome. Schwabe suggests
that changing environmental conditions causes extinctions, just as
Darwin did, but says that those changes occur too fast for species to
survive by adaptation. Instead, he says, "You have to have (the trait)
before the need arises."

The creation of new species from previous species, he said, is an
illusion. Instead, the simplest species appeared first, with the more
complex forms emerging later. The intermediate species, or "missing
links," predicted by Darwin are not reflected in the fossil record,
Schwabe said, and "what the fossil record shows us is extinction, not
adaptation."

Not true, said Jerry Hilbish, professor of biological sciences at the
University of South Carolina.

For instance, a study of lakes in Nevada and Canada shows the evolution
of stickleback fish, and fossils of ancient whales found in a
Harleyville limestone quarry stand as "missing links" between modern
whales and their earliest ancestors.

As for the scarcity of intermediate fossils, Hilbish said,

"The reality is that the available fossil record is not high-resolution
enough to show that process."

-- Daniel Conover

>>> "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu> 04/17/04 8:07 PM >>>
http://www.starnewsonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040417/NEWS/2
04170332/1001/Nation

Article published Apr 17, 2004
Theorist: Darwin had it wrong
S.C. professor says life forms arose without common origin

CHARLESTON, S.C. - In the beginning, it was just the proteins.

The way biochemist Christian Schwabe saw it, Darwinian evolution should
have given closely related animals similar sets of proteins.

It was a simple idea, just a way to prove the cellular legacy of
millions of years of common ancestry. Only it didn't work.

The mismatched proteins were just a stray thread in the grand tapestry
of life, yet the flaw gnawed at the back of the professor's mind - until
one day at Harvard University in 1970, when a new idea struck him in the
middle of a lecture.

"That's not going to work that way," Dr. Schwabe said aloud, and his
students watched in bewilderment as their instructor spent the rest of
the class working out the first bits of his idea on the blackboard.

What Dr. Schwabe began that day would become, by 1984, something he
called the "genomic potential hypothesis:" the idea that life on Earth
arose not from a single, random-chance event, but from multiple,
predictable, chemical processes.

As bold as that idea seemed, it was tame compared with the second part
of his theory: that evolution by natural selection - a cornerstone of
Darwinian thought - was a 19th-century illusion.

Rather than a world of diversely adapted species with one common origin,
Dr. Schwabe saw each modern species as the ultimate expression of its
own independent origin.

Evolution wasn't about adaptation, Dr. Schwabe said, but the perfection
of each species' original "genomic potential."

He and a colleague published the first paper on the idea in 1984, and
the German-born professor settled in to await the inevitable critical
response. It never came.

More articles in small academic journals followed in 1985 and 1990, but
they, too, failed to provoke debate.

Today, Dr. Schwabe is a professor of biochemistry at the Medical
University of South Carolina, a federally funded investigator who has
accounted for more than $4 million in research funding, much of it
related to drugs that regulate blood flow.

He has published more than 100 scholarly works and received five patents
for his discoveries.

Yet when it comes to his most provocative idea, Dr. Schwabe is
practically an invisible man. His articles on genomic potential
hypothesis - GPH - typically are returned without meaningful comment by
editors, most recently by the prestigious journal Science, and sometimes
it seems as if the only people paying attention to his work are Internet
fringe-dwellers.

"I think one of the most brilliant and bravest thinkers in America lives
in Charleston, S.C.," said Ron Landes, a scientific publisher from
Texas, "and nobody knows about him."

All he wants, Dr. Schwabe says, is a hearing by his peers.

"If they don't like it, they should tell me factually what is wrong," he
said. "If they think it's no good, they have the obligation to disprove
it."

That's the ideal of science we all learned in grade school. But as Dr.
Schwabe continues to demonstrate, the practice of science is a bit more
complex.

It takes an educated specialist to evaluate scientific claims; new
discoveries are practically meaningless until they are published in
major journals.

Publication signifies that the science behind an article is solid and
that the idea, right or wrong, is worthy of study. This system of
establishing credibility, called peer review, is essential to the
scientific process, yet not every idea is worthy of serious, high-level
peer review.

But the critical question in Dr. Schwabe's case isn't whether peer
review works - rather, it's, "Can unorthodox but potentially significant
ideas get access to legitimate peer review?"

Though peer review remains essential to the scientific method, "It is
not a requirement that anyone else pay attention to you," said Jerry
Hilbish, professor of biological sciences at the University of South
Carolina.

Yet the big journals also have a lot to lose by missing out on a big
breakthrough, he said.

"It is normal in science for new ideas that contradict old ones to be
resisted or ignored for a while," Dr. Bauer said. "Many people in that
situation are stunned that they're not being listened to, because
science is supposed to be so open to new ideas. But the reality is that
(science) is open to new things, but just not things that are too new."

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Received on Mon Apr 19 09:27:38 2004

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