"CREATION OF LIFE: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution" By Dr. A. E. Wilder Smith

FORWARD We are experiencing an age in which science and its applications are supreme. Man had only to make up his mind to reach the moon, and within ten years of the decision he had touched down on the lunar surface several times and brought back samples for analysis. There would seem to be no limit to human achievement by the same technique if supplies of time and money were adequate. In the wake of the application of the so-called scientific method, a monoculture of technical know-how has developed and is spreading rapidly around the globe. Knowing how to tackle a problem by the scientific approach is not, however, the only ingredient of the present scientific monoculture. A philosophy of life accompanies this technical ability. Science studies matter and is not very good at much else. And the study of matter has led many to believe that a wholly material universe is the only reality. For them, all problems and all solutions are purely material. This philosophy of life is known as scientific materialism. One of its branches of thought is Neo-Darwinism, and in the coming discussions we shall have much to say about scientific materialism and its offshoot, Neo-Darwinism. In the wake of the application of the so-called scientific method, then, a monoculture flourishing on scientific materialism is spreading over the world. Only a few years ago, Turkey, where I have been privileged to teach, and where I have written this book, did not even have a postal system, let alone television, radio networks, modern hospitals or expressways. But Turkish religious belief was highly developed. With westernization, initiated under Kemal Ataturk, the dust of the ages is being blasted away by the hurricane of technology from the West. An unavoidable part of this blasting process consists of the erosion of ancient customs and national culture as well as of religious beliefs and superstitions which have often been a hindrance to progress in the material betterment of a proud and ancient people. It was, and is, argued that the modern technical wizard from the West is usually irreligious, if he is not directly atheistic. It is what a man believes that makes or unmakes him. The westernizers concluded that, in Turkey at least, man's beliefs "unmade" him! The irreligious or atheistic technical wizard, who can improve standards of living overnight, cure diseases and lengthen life is, therefore, to be emulated not only in his technical wizardry but in his religious vacuum too. Since technical experts believe neither in God, angels nor devils, many have concluded that it must be unprogressive to hang onto belief in God or the supernatural if the modern atheistic scientist, the pioneer of such a huge success, does not. The cold blast of technology has created a cultural and even spiritual vacuum in developing countries as well as in countries where science has reigned supreme for years. The only difference is that in developing countries the pace is so rapid and the change so radical that the generations are losing contact with each other. Of course, this is also happening in developed countries, but the acuteness of the problem is nowhere seen so clearly as in those countries which have been ripped out of the past ages by the scientific monoculture in one generation. The end result of the invasion of scientific technology in both developed and less developed countries is the same. For example, in countries such as England and Scandinavia, it is quite common to speak of the present era as being a "post-Christian" one. In Muslim countries, where scientific materialism has been at work for a shorter period of time, the younger generation has already become estranged to much of the religious heritage of the past. To be sure, they stick to some of the outward forms of past religious culture, but without the conviction of their parents. In the United States and Western European countries where scientific materialism has often laid hold of the younger generation, the following pattern is often observed: The teenage son or daughter, brought up in a sincere, religious family (whether it be Jewish, Christian or Muslim is of little importance for our purpose here, so long as the family had a genuine heritage of belief in a Creator and in a book on which their belief was based) is to be prepared for a position of leadership. For this he needs higher education, which may mean the study of science, languages or law. Let us say that our student chooses science as his field. During his freshman year he rapidly discovers, as a result of the scientific materialism which is the basis of all scientific higher education today, that the whole supernatural structure of belief on which the stability and happiness of his family rested during his formative years, was just nonsense. If our student had been brought up in a Christian family he rapidly finds, for example, that the family Bible allegedly contains a mere collection of myths on creation, the flood, the prophets, and the life of Jesus Christ. Today's science teaches that human life did not arise with Adam and Eve. Rather, "pools of interbreeding genes" would allegedly better describe the scientific facts of our ancestry. My son was informed only the other day in his optional religious instruction (given by a Protestant teacher who holds no belief in anything supernatural) that Jesus never claimed to be God for the simple reason he knew he was not. Nor did he perform any miracles. His disciples invented them to bolster their reasons for founding a new religion of which they would be the leaders. This emasculated religious instruction was based squarely upon current scientific materialism. Matter is everything. Spirit, therefore, does not exist. Anything which lies outside the scientific materialistic view of things is not to be taken seriously. The result in the Western world has been a shift in cultural values and an increasing religious vacuum. Science is credible. Materialism is credible. Religion is not. The shocking fact is that most Christian and other religious leaders have been powerless to do anything to stem the floodtide of scientific materialism, except, perhaps, to cry, "Faith"! In the sites of the ancient cultures of Asia, exactly the same process is taking place before our eyes, but at a much more accelerated pace. As the Western scientific monoculture explodes into their territories, young men and women are entering newly established universities, staffed by Westerners or Western-trained nationals, there to learn that the religious (and often cultural) heritages of the past are an obstacle in the path of the scientific steamroller. Most Western-trained teachers have no belief in any nonmaterialistic meaning of life at all. In fact, many of them believe, and teach, that the origin of life, and indeed, life itself, is one big accident which took place over millions of years. If life is an accident, then why not treat it as such? The students in the developing countries and elsewhere have taken the cue more quickly than their teachers. If there is no divine plan or meaning behind life it becomes as cheap as an accident should be. Only last week in Ankara one student's right hand was blown off while he was in the act of throwing a Molotov cocktail on campus. Of two others who shot each other, one is now paralyzed with a bullet in the spine. The dean was clubbed, whether by students or by police, no one knows. Two other youths clubbed each other until one was dead. The killer apparently is a student in the faculty of law! If life is adequately explained on the basis of scientific materialism, then there is nothing supernatural about it in the least. Thus, after death, there will be no penalties for murder or violence. The materialistic view of life brings with it a superficial and, at the same time, brutalizing, lawless way of life. Why have law and order deteriorated so rapidly in the United States? Simply because for many years it has been commonly taught that life is a random, accidental phenomenon with no meaning except the purely materialistic one. Laws are merely a matter of human expediency. Since humans are allegedly accidents, so are their laws. No wonder that the result of such teaching is a contempt for the courts and for all due order. The older supernatural views taught that life was a plan and a code, which needed for its government a plan of supernaturally given codes or laws. The change of emphasis has been working in the institutions of higher education for over one hundred years. Now we are seeing its fruits on a worldwide scale in the unprecedented breakdown of law and order. The incredible fact is that today's political leaders have to set up commissions to inquire into the reasons for the running tide toward anarchy, when the real reason seems so simple, once we see it in historical perspective. We have taught that the very origin of life, together with its maintenance, is due to "anarchy" (randomness, lack of law and codes). Naturally, after the doctrine has been planted and has taken root, it will bear its fruit. A religious vacuum has been created by the sweeping victories of scientific materialism, but what is to replace the real values which have been destroyed in the flood? It is here that the philosophies of Marxism-Communism find an excellent culture medium. For they offer an idealism of a materialistic kind which does, for a time at least, replace the ancient philosophies of less sophisticated forbears. Let us be quite specific. It took Charles Darwin nearly a generation to develop his theory of biological evolution. By it he offered the intellectual world a purely naturalistic account of life's origin and development. As a corollary he was forced, much against his wife's will, to abandon his faith in the Christian revelation. Today it takes one semester of freshman biology to conduct a student through the same steps which, in a generation, unhorsed Darwin and his Christian faith. Throughout the world of higher learning these steps toward spiritual vacuum are being taken at an accelerated rate. The consequences are most acute where the formation of the spiritual vacuum has been most rapid. That is, the developing countries are the ones which suffer most at the hands of scientific materialism, even though they may be reaping richer physical benefits. Perhaps the most disturbing factor about the modern worldwide revolution is the fact that scientific materialism is the basis of both Marxism-Communism as well as of most Western higher education. Scientific materialism is the common denominator. Science is successful. Science delivers the goods. Science recognizes nothing but the material. Science is right. Everything else is unimportant. That is the tacit argument today. The Eastern world of Communism propagates this view blatantly as it uses its materialistic view of science to support state atheism. The Western world, particularly in the area of higher learning, takes the same stand, though less blatantly. The end result in both areas is identical! The universities of East and West are turning out a generation of graduates with a materialistic and anarchic view of life which flourishes in a spiritual vacuum. And yet, for those with eyes to see, the very progress of materialistic science is showing how inadequate its own views are. The very study of material sciences has brought scientists to the recognition of the fact that its own theories need revision. There is urgent need for the study of things transmaterial and transcendent. Perhaps as never before, science is being forced to recognize an urgent need for the postulate of a great intelligence behind the coding order manifest throughout our visible and invisible universe. A great difficulty in dealing with this and allied subjects lies in the fact that the average layman is not presented with a coherent account of the content of new discoveries. These new discoveries are beginning to resurrect some of the most ancient beliefs of mankind with respect to First Causes. For years now, perhaps for almost one hundred, the ancient beliefs have lain buried for fear of the scientific materialist. Now, as we shall see in later chapters, the mummies are being brought to life. It is as if wheat stored at the time of the pharaohs is suddenly beginning to germinate in the light and warmth of scientific progress. But students still continue to come to colleges and universities where they lose faith in anything divine because the newest developments are often not interpreted and made relevant to them. In view of the above appraisal of scientific materialism and its consequences the author decided some years ago to write a series of books with the goal of pointing out, in the modern scientific context, the various areas in which progress has been made by recent research toward recognition that scientific materialism today holds the key neither to the past nor to the future of scientific development. There is no longer any need for the Christian or the believer of God to hide, intellectually speaking, in the catacombs. Today true science supports the man who believes in a supramaterialistic view of life, the universe and its future. The present work is the third in a series and examines the scientific materialistic attempt at explaining life's origin and meaning. It relates some of the discoveries in the are of origins to recent progress in cybernetics and the development of artificial intelligence. Thus the book is not intended primarily for the "average light reader" (whoever he may be) but for the student seriously contending with the problems presented by advanced study and their relationship to religious beliefs. In a nutshell, the book treats the premises of materialistic naturalism and weights them against supranaturalism as bases for our Weltanschauung, that is, our view of life's meaning. In the past it has been rather difficult for a student to arm himself quickly and reliably against the onslaughts of scientific materialism. The scientific materialists have, in recent years, exercised an almost absolute monopoly of the scientific press. The religious press has often shown itself unable to take up effectively the cudgels against this view of life. As a consequence it has been a relatively easy matter for materialistic scientific mentors to undermine the faith of young students armed with little factual information. The result has been a real "slaughter of the infants" as in Herod's day a "slaughter" about as "heroic" as Herod's! For it is so easy, for those who know how, to make a student's immature religious belief look scientifically and philosophically naive. It is the purpose of this series of books to supply intellectual weapons for those who feel they need them and who wish to fight for their faith and intellectual honesty. The series sets out to show the transcendent nature of life's origin, while showing up the missing factors in Neo-Darwinism. It links this with the important modern concepts of the nature of mind and intelligence, showing the significance of the recent developments in artificial intelligence. In conclusion, one indulgence is asked of the reader. The book draws its contents from many disciplines. No one author can be expected to be an authority in every field of learning. I do not claim to be that. Nevertheless I have attempted to synthesize widely separated disciplines into a unified whole in dealing with the origin and meaning of life.


CHAPTER 3 - Mechanisms For Macromolecular Synthesis Before we can proceed further we must look at the mechanisms by which the building blocks of life combine with one another. The chemistry of life is often of a very specialized kind. But even though it may often be specialized, it is subject to the perfectly normal laws of chemistry as found in chemical research in the laboratory. Dehydration, Condensation And Polymerization Of Building Blocks Amino acids and other building blocks present in the macromolecules of living matter aggregate to form larger units mostly by reactions called condensations. The combinations usually involve the elimination of one molecule of water between two combining molecules. It is the removal of this molecule of water which presents the major difficulty in some condensations of biological significance. For, the removal of this water molecule from between two combining molecules requires energy which must therefore be supplied in some fashion. A further difficulty arises in this question of the elimination of water. For, in the prebiotic world, it is assumed that the condensation reaction took place in the presence of a large excess of water which would tend, according to the law of mass action, to hinder the condensation process and to facilitate the decomposition or splitting process. This means simply that the large excess of water present would be likely to hinder condensation reactions which tend to go upward to the formation of macromolecules. The more water, the less condensation. Assuming, however, that the condensation reaction does take place, the energy requirements are expressed as follows: /\ F x = 3 to 4 kcal at the dipeptide level. 298 If the reaction is to proceed in the direction of the dipeptide, the water molecule formed must be removed from the reaction system since the reaction is reversible. If it is not removed the concentration of water building up in the system will hydrolyze the dipeptide back again to the constituent amino acids, as hinted at above. The energy absorbed in the formation of the dipeptide would be released again if this reverse hydrolysis took place. The result would be no synthesis. Chemically speaking, there is nothing mystical about the mechanism by which such reactions can lead to the most complex proteins. So long as water is removed from the system, and energy supplied, the synthesis will go forward spontaneously. This is why some scientists regard life simply as a mechanism involving condensation with the removal of water and the supply of energy. But the experimental facts of this condensation show us that the mere mechanism outlined above is insufficient to account for the specificity of life's processes. Mere condensations with the supply of energy do not account for everything. An ordinary chemical condensation will, if it takes place, certainly lead to more complex molecules and polypeptides. But these structures will not necessarily consist of the purely sequenced, specific types which alone are viable. Besides dehydration and the supply of energy, another factor-- that of direction--must be taken into account, as mentioned earlier. We conclude then, that not only must purely chemical and energetic factors be considered in the origin of the macromolecules of life. The question of the direction given to purely chemical matters must be accounted for too. Many modern scientific materialists believe that even this question can be solved by appealing to natural, random causes. Some believe that the direction is inherent in the biomonomers themselves with the result that they can direct themselves because of some kind of inner order they possess. Others believe that the direction came from catalytic reactions taking place on the surface of natural minerals such as clay. It will be necessary to treat this aspect of the source of the specificity and direction in natural synthesis in a special section. Exactly the same considerations of energy and direction apply to the other chemical mechanisms which life uses to build up its macromolecules. Pyrocondensation, polymerization and other reactions involving amino acids, polymetaphosphates, etc., not only need to have their energy requirements met, they all possess mechanisms for achieving this. In the production of large molecules in which many reaction pathways are possible, direction as well as order is needed to attain the specificity of viable chemicals. Mechanisms For Obtaining Direction In Synthesis In principle there are two basic mechanisms by which direction can be introduced into a multistaged synthetic reaction. The first involves the use of a specific catalyst which, by its intrinsic properties, induces a reaction not only to move faster but also possibly to take a specific direction. Although they are used very widely indeed in many industries, such catalysts are often not fully understood as far as their mechanism of action is concerned. They often introduce much larger surface are as on which reactions may take place. Many natural substances, such as clays, quartz sands, etc., do under some conditions, not only act as reaction accelerators, they also introduce specificity (direction) into multistage synthesis. Some scientists believe, therefore, that the building blocks of life assembled themselves on the surfaces of catalysts such as natural clays to produce the specific macromolecules need by living cells. The second basic mechanism by which order and sequence specificity can be introduced into a multistage macromolecular synthesis is by intelligent manipulation of the reaction conditions by the scientist presiding over the reaction. We shall need to look into both methods of achieving direction in synthesis. Various Views On The Origin Of Direction And Specificity In Synthesis That direction in synthesis leading to proteins is an unavoidable necessity is revealed by the experimental results obtained where no direction is applied. Only by taking such results into account can one obtain a balanced view of the vital nature of direction in synthesis. As an introduction to this rather complex subject let us first use an illustration. Waves and wind can account for the ripples and indentations formed on the sand of the seashore. Waves and wind are energetic phenomena of a more or less random character. Together they make marks in the sand, sometimes with and sometimes without pattern. We might risk the statement that there is often some sort of recognizable pattern which arises as a result of wind and waves. However, it has never been known in all the history of man, or even in prehistory (fossil evidence), that wind and waves produced any writing, or any of our signatures engraved in the sand. They can produce many patterns but not the pattern we call writing. If we were taking an early morning walk by the seashore and found our signature boldly written in the sand, it would never occur to us to attribute it to anything else but intelligence. Some types of pattern, such as those produced by the ripples of the waves, do not necessarily demand explanation in terms of intelligence. On the other hand, some types of code pattern of a higher type such as a writing, are, in our experience, only explicable in terms of a controlling intelligence. Biomonomers are like the ripples on the seashore sand, for there is an analogous simple type of order in both. However, DNA and RNA molecules, together with those of some viable proteins, display the code characteristics of writing. Both represent a definite, orderly code which conveys information to a code reader. There is in writing, and also in genetic codes, a higher, altogether different kind of order than that in the ripples on the seashore sand--or in biomonomers. If I come across ripples on the seashore during my early morning walk, I exclaim, "Ah, the delightful clean wind and the surf. How beautiful are the ripples in the sand!" And that is just about the only message I see in the patterns in the sand. But if I see my name boldly written in the sand, or if I see, "John loves Mary," an entirely different reaction takes place within me. I gain information which is conveyed to my own intelligence by the written message. Only a human intelligence could be behind such a pattern. The order found in life consists, for our present purposes, of two main types. The first is that kind of order found in the sand ripples by the seashore; this is the kind of order found in the biomonomers which are at the base of all material order supporting life. The second kind is that found in the coded information written on the sequenced strands and spirals of the DNA and RNA molecules. For this latter order contains the syntactical sequenced order of a type resembling the code in a written sentence. DNA and RNA molecules are long threads consisting of spiral chains of sequenced biomonomers. The sequences hide a code which gives information and instructions for the synthesis of the proteins on which life rides. The information is contained in the form of a four-letter language of the type abcacddcabaacdbbcad, etc. which goes on for thousands of letters. The exact sequence order of a protein's amino acids is "written down" in the sequence order of this four-letter language on the threads of the DNA strands in a pattern similar to the arrangement of the letters of our alphabet in a sentence. It is the order of the sequences of our alphabet letters which conveys the information in code form. Thus, the letters n, d and a convey information which varies according to the sequence in which they occur. When they occur in the order a-n-d, their meaning is different from when they occur in the sequence d-a-n. Some sequences may be nonsensical, for example a-d-n or n-a-d. To a modern biochemist the sequence d-n-a is as full of meaning as the sequence n-d-a is empty. It is clear, therefore, that the letters remain the same. But the sequence of the letters decides the information conveyed in this type of order. The synthesis of each protein in the body is controlled by its gene, which is a stretch of DNA thread containing the genetic order sequences which act as a template for the synthesis of particular protein molecule sequences. That is, the sequences of amino acid biomonomers occurring on a protein are decided by the sequences of the four-letter alphabet on the gene thread. Three DNA "letters" are needed in sequence for each amino acid biomonomer on a protein sequence. This means that it takes three hundred DNA "letters" to provide the instructions for the synthesis of a protein sequence of one hundred letters. From this it is clear that the method by which we write our names in the sand by using sequences of a twenty-four-letter alphabet to convey information as to our identity is quite similar in principle to the method used by the cell to convey information to the ribosomes (where the synthetic work in the cell is executed) to ensure that specific protein syntheses are carried out. The analogy between writing our names on the sand and writing information on the genes is close. Both involve information coding by means of sequences. Thus it would be just as much of a shock for most of us to be asked to believe that the random movement of molecules and atoms caused by random energy has spelled out the genetic code on the DNA molecular thread sequence as it would if we were asked to believe that our names were spelled out on the sand by the random action of the sea and the wind. Both the written code on the seashore and the genetic code of the genes are, at least to the unprejudiced, unmistakably codes. Surely the order of any code betrays to any perceptive individual the unmistakable signs of intelligence or thought! As surely as the unexpected name written on the sand at the beach leads any unprejudiced person to postulate an intelligence, so the writing on the threads of the genes forces us to assume thought behind them. For coded information is a form of thought. It manifests thought. Codes of any type are inconceivable on any random basis because thought is not random in its nature. In order to establish this point still further, let us do a small calculation. Imagine the odds involved in assuming a random explanation of a code. Consider a simple 400-letter gene and let us assume that a monkey is set to pound away at a genetic typewriter in a effort to spell out our coded 400-letter gene, using only blind chance to do so. He has the simple four-letter genetic alphabet at his disposal. The odds against his getting the correct order for the first sequence are four to one. The odds against getting the second sequence right are sixteen to one. The odds against getting the first three sequences right are sixty-four to one. One can work out his chances for getting the rest of the 397 sequences correct. For a simple gene of only 300 sequences the "odds against" have been calculated as one followed by 130 zeros to one. It is, then, small wonder that most scientists have come to the conclusion that sequenced DNA and proteins cannot be attributed to chance alone. Direction must be arranged for somehow. If "blind chance" is excluded then we must be dealing with "weighted" or "directed" chance which is a contradiction in itself. Mechanisms By Which Direction, Specificity And Coding May Be Introduced One of the methods by which blind chance in the stringing together of biomonomers may be reduced is by causing the condensation reactions to take place on the surface of a catalyst. Sydney W. Fox, whose research on abiogenesis we have already mentioned, is among those scientists who suggest that the coding and specificity of natural molecules could have originated on the surface of natural catalysts. Fox and others realized that amino acids would, in the first place, scarcely undergo condensation reactions, except in very small amounts, in ordinary cold, dilute, aqueous solutions. The solutions would have to be very hot, or water would have to be excluded altogether and heat applied to the dry mixtures of biomonomers. Second, a natural surface of a catalytic nature would have to be present to reduce random condensations which would be devoid of specificity, or would show too little of that commodity, and increase chemical direction and sequencing. With this in mind Fox experimented with hot lava taken from volcanic areas and found that it caused easy condensation of amino acids to give proteinoids. Further, he found that the amino acid sequences of these proteinoids were not totally random. For the chemical composition of the proteinoids formed varied from that of the original mixture of amino acids. In other words, a slight amount of selectivity had been exercised which reduced the reactivity of some amino acids and increased that of others. It is clear that the sequential order on these proteinoids is nothing compared with that resident on natural proteins. For the latter represents a code and the former does not. Further, there is not the slightest evidence that the grade of coding order resident on a gene could ever be derived from the low-grade order resident on natural catalysts such as clay. It would collide with information theory to hold that high-grade coding or order could be derived spontaneously from lower-grade coding or order, so that the whole idea really founders on theoretical as well as practical considerations. We look into the significance of information theory in this problem later. Last, there is no evidence that life could subsist on a lower status of sequential coding order than that found in the simplest viruses. Even in these simplest of organisms, the DNA order, followed by the protein sequencing, is such that the lower order of natural catalysts could not, on theoretical grounds, ever give rise to it. Before concluding this section we must point out that Fox, in pursuing this work on the spontaneous production of proteinoids, went on to produce "microspheres" from his products (see chap. 4) and drew the conclusion that it is possible to proceed from simple gases up to complex microspheres, all by chance reactions. It is enough to mention here that the simplest forms of life, the viruses, contain two main constituents. First, the DNA part containing the genetic code; second, the protein mantle with which the DNA is clothed. But the whole can only be said to live when its coded information can use the cell metabolism of a host organism. Fox's microspheres contain no trace of DNA or a genetic code and therefore cannot seriously be said to be living in any sense of the word. The same remarks apply to the coacervate work reported by Oparin and others (see chap. 4). The fact remains, that even if we could, by an enormous stretch of the imagination, envisage the spontaneous formation of a DNA molecule and a covering sheath of sequenced protein, we would still not have synthesized life. For such a virus type of complex would still be unable to live unless we could provide it with a complete cell on which it could live as a parasite. Thus, unless life was already present, no virus type of organism could really be said to live. All these considerations lead us to recognize that there are still huge gaps in the chain of events we might consider as signposts marking the way up to life on a spontaneous naturalistic basis. We have begun, as the result of brilliant scientific research, to be able to read the genetic code, and have found that it resembles the type of code we use in writing. The code is arranged on molecular threads instead of on paper or in sand. Would it not, in the present state of our knowledge, be reasonable to try to make sense of both codes, those on paper and those on molecular threads, by taking them both to be a means of conveying intelligent messages? Even a code or program fed into a computer is an intelligent message sent from a source of intelligent thought to a machine, which is, of course, a fabrication of human intelligence. Would it not be reasonable to regard a code, such as the genetic code, as a source of intelligent information sent from a nonhuman intelligence to a biological machine? The biological machine could, like the computer, be reasonably regarded as a machine made by the same intelligence, the code being the means of communication between the creator intelligence and his creation. There would seem to be nothing intrinsically unreasonable in the suggestion, given the possibility of an intelligence which is the source of the original coding. In a later section we treat further the question of the feasibility of such an extrahuman, nonmaterial intelligence. One further matter must be touched upon in this section. In the copying of a code, mistakes of a random nature are always likely to occur. These mistakes are of the same random nature as typing errors. Letters are reversed or omitted, destroying the sequence of the code we call writing. It is comparatively easy to correct such purely random mistakes. They are so obviously random errors within meaningful sequences that one can usually recognize them as mistakes. However, if manuscript is recopied too often, the random mistakes may become so frequent that passages become incoherent. There are too many random mistakes and too few deliberate sequences in them to make sense. Our point is that randomness in any code sequence progressively destroys the code. In fact, code sequences and randomness are incompatible. Randomness destroys code, and putting a code onto a randomly arranged thread of biomonomers will destroy randomness. If randomness and code sequences, then, are so mutually destructive, how can we ever come to the ridiculous conclusion that randomness gave spontaneous birth to code sequences of the super-specificity of the genetic code? And yet that is, in principle, exactly what some biological scientists are suggesting today. The whole idea is one huge paradox. Code sequences and randomness are as incompatible as fire and water. To maintain that one produced the other spontaneously is about as likely as maintaining that placing an acetylene torch on a pot filled with water causes the water to freeze. Inherent Mechanisms For The Production Of Coding Sequences Scientists such as Teilhard de Chardin thought that they could account for the coding order and specificity of natural products without any appeal to external help acting on matter. Those who hold with Teilhard - and some who do not - believe that chemical evolution up to life and beyond - to consciousness - is inevitable and is merely a reflection of the "upward psychic urge" resident on the simplest of atoms since their formation millions of years ago. That is, nature automatically tends to life and man and consciousness and "point Omega" (to use Teilhard's own expression) simply because matter is made the way it is. We have looked briefly at this view in discussing Kenyon's Theory of Biochemical Predestination and noted that propounders of that theory hold the same view with the exclusion of the theistic Weltanschauung. These ideas really boil down to believing that all nature is an algorithm of, or code for, life, consciousness and point Omega. It is perhaps fair to state that in recent years such views are coming to be recognized as being in conflict with the second law of thermodynamics which lays down that a fundamental property of matter lies in its innate tendency to disorder and not to codes or order. Unless available energy is applied to overcome the "entropy barrier," no reduction of entropy, or increase in order, can be expected. What Teilhard and his friends are saying is that matter has a fundamental, inherent tendency to increase its order up to life and consciousness. He and many others believe that matter performs this feat at the expense of the second law of thermodynamics by being able to make use of the random energy derived from the sun or from radioactivity. We examine this proposition while dealing with the question of metabolic motors in a later section. For present purposes it is enough to note that there is little evidence that spontaneous radiation such as that from the sun could, without the intermediary of a metabolic motor, account for the hugely reduced entropy status of life as we know it. However, in spite of the above, it would be incorrect to try to maintain that no order or sequences whatsoever could arise from the built-in properties of the constituent amino acids. It is a fact that varying the side chains present on various reacting amino acids does influence the sequences of amino acid condensation to form polypeptides. Indeed, it would be strange if it did not, for there are quite a number of good theoretical reasons why the varying electron-attracting or electron-repelling properties of various side chains on the different amino acids should interfere with the sequences and even stereospecificity of the compound resulting from apparently random condensation. Many years ago, in fact, this was the subject of a doctor of philosophy thesis I wrote in England, for which I received a doctor's degree. In dealing with this subject one must, however, distinguish between matters that are different. The sequence differences and variations in specificity and stereochemistry do not constitute codes with a specific meaning for specific receptors when they arise due to differences in the electronic nature of side-chain radicals. The biopolymers produced under such differing influences cannot be called random polymers. But neither can they be said to contain coded information just because they are not random. An Illustration From Spitzbergen An illustration may help us to understand this point better. Some years ago my family and I spent some weeks during the summer in Spitzbergen on the Arctic Ocean. On those beautiful rocky shores we visited a Polish geological expedition which had been doing work on the permafrost there. They were investigating the sometimes complex stone patterns found in these areas. The patterns apparently arise from the expansion and contraction of the rocks during the heating and cooling of day and night, summer and winter. It often looks as though intelligences of some sort had been at work constructing the circles of stones and small crevasses. The Polish scientists assured us, however, that this was not the case and that the patterns were entirely devoid of meaning. That is, there was no code hidden behind them such as one might expect to find behind hieroglyphics. The nonrandom biopolymers formed as a result of the inherent properties of differing side chains on amino acids are like rings in the permafrost. They are nonrandom, certainly, and yet they possess some sort of sequence or pattern. But neither the rings in the permafrost nor the proteinoids formed by combining amino acids on natural catalytic surfaces carry, as far as we can establish experimentally, any code or message. And here is the grand difference between the specific DNA and protein molecules of life, and the proteinoids formed under the influence of nonliving catalysts. The Magnitude Of Natural Specificity If the synthesis of life's protein at the origin of life had been a random event controlled by only the random forces of chemistry, it has been calculated that there would not be enough mass in the entire earth, even though it were composed exclusively of amino acids, to make even one molecule each of all the possible sequences in even a low-weight molecular protein.1 Inherent properties residing on the amino acids themselves can, and undoubtedly do, give some direction to the synthesis of large protein molecules. Nevertheless it is clear from experiments that such direction as is inherent in the properties of the biomonomers may produce specific patterns but certainly not, in our experience, the patterns of codes.2 It would not be in order, however, to make such statements without giving chapter and verse for them! It has been found that alanine is almost twice as likely to couple with a glycine as valine is likely to couple with a glycine residue.3 Thus, the probability of interaction between any two amino acids depends on: their relative abundance in the reaction mixture their pK values and the physical and chemical properties of the side chains involved. It must also be remembered that the above type of inherent selectivity is found not only in synthesis but is also met in hydrolysis or decomposition reactions, so that we may conclude that selectivity of this type is a general phenomenon. The phenomenon of selective hydrolysis would help to build up concentrations of specific nonrandom peptides in mixtures because, if hydrolysis is selective in nature, the peptides left behind which were not hydrolyzed will be selected substances too. However, it is the general opinion among scientists working in this field that the phenomenon of selective hydrolysis could not have been a serious factor in the chemical evolution of specificity.(4) To some scientists these observations prove that specific, viable proteins could have arisen prebiotically without the direction of nucleic acids or even of specific catalysts. The protagonists of the biochemical predestination concept are of this persuasion. Some workers in the area have even gone a step further to maintain that specifically sequenced peptides may have arisen in the above manner prebiotically and then have served as the templates for the information necessary to synthesize DNA molecules later. This would be the exact opposite to that system found in living matter now. For today DNA supplies the information for synthesizing proteins. What is being suggested is that spontaneously formed specific proteins supplied the information for selective DNA synthesis. The evidence for this supposition is, of course, nil.(5) The important point to remember in all this speculation is that a certain amount of inherent molecular sequencing is certainly possible and is based on sound principles of organic chemistry. But it must be kept firmly in mind that producing sequences of letters in our alphabet of twenty-four letters rather than a purely random higgledy-piggledy arrangement of letters does not, in itself, produce a code sequence. Even arranging the letters of the alphabet in patterns, rather than without order, is not to be compared with producing a meaningful code like a Shakespeare sonnet. Order is of two kinds in our present discussion. There is the kind of order which is truly a pattern--like ripples on the seashore--but which bears no code meaning. This order can be compared to letters in an ordered sequence which conveys no particular meaning. Then there is the other kind of sequenced order which hides a meaningful code--like a section of Goethe's poetry. We know of only one way in which the latter can arise and that is by the exercise of intelligence. The first kind can arise either with or without the direct intervention of intelligence. Autocatalytic Autodirective Feedback There is perhaps one other matter we should mention before leaving the subject of sequencing. It is known that the clay Montmorillonite absorbs amino acids and also catalyzes the dimerization of amino acid monomers.6 This type of catalysis and autocatalysis has led some scientists to believe that the specificity of protein synthesis and the duplication of information storage could have resided in protein structure in the pre- and para-biotic world in the manner we have mentioned above. The polymerization of amino acids to specific peptides and proteins is postulated as being directed by the peptide products themselves in an autocatalytic manner. Thus life is assumed to be a product of autodirective autocatalytic feedback mechanisms working on specific peptide and protein syntheses. In considering these hypotheses it is of crucial importance to keep in mind two hard facts. First, nature when left to itself with no outside influences, leans to randomizing processes rather than specific ones. This is another way of stating the second law of thermodynamics, and there is no getting around it. Second, life as we know it is uncompromisingly coupled to coding systems of the most complex type. Coding systems have never been known to arise spontaneously out of randomness, but only, in our experience, from motor intelligence. It is, of course, never to be denied, as already emphasized, that some peptide bond specificity will result during spontaneous amino acid condensation and that this specificity will result from the intrinsic properties of the amino acids themselves. But the hard fact remains that we have no experience which would lead us to expect that this type of restraint on random condensations could be totally responsible for the arising of the specificity we call a code. Perhaps a further illustration will pinpoint this matter. A Further Illustration If one takes suitable metals and machines and fits them together in a certain way it is possible to construct a watch out of them. One has to know something of mathematics as well as metallurgy and watchmakers' skills. Given the metals and their properties, it is possible to impose a certain type of order on the metals which might almost be designated as a kind of mathematical pattern of code. It would be unacceptable, however, to maintain that the properties of the metals themselves automatically and spontaneously were sufficient to produce the mechanical pattern which is a watch. It is true that one cannot have the watch without the properties of the metals--they are absolutely vital to any watch. But it is equally true that the properties of the metals alone (weight, tensile strength, etc.) are insufficient to account for the watch. Random forces might produce all sorts of shapes and patterns with the metals, but the pattern of a watch is inconceivable on the basis of these forces alone. To obtain the watch design--based on the properties of the metals--one has to combine the metals of the watch with the watchmaker's intelligence. There is no other way we know of for producing a watch. The properties of the elements of which an amino acid is constructed are absolutely vital to life's proteins just as the properties of metals are necessary for a watch--and to a somewhat similar degree. But the properties of the elements of which amino acids are constructed are insufficient to build the coded protein sequences of viable proteins. These properties need to be combined with a coding system to give rise to such a mechanism as constitutes life's proteins. There is no way around the fact that codes derive, sooner or later, from intelligence and thought. Or look at the problem this way: In Switzerland the Montagnards sometimes obtain building materials from blasting operations. A well-placed charge below an old tree stump can be quite productive in such an operation. A mass of stones possesses certain properties which, when rightly used, can be constructed into a house or a cattle pen. The house or cattle pen construction is dependent on the inherent properties of the stones (their shape, solidity, stability, etc.), but these same inherent properties are insufficient to account for a house. The builder's intelligence is capable of imposing the form or code of a cattle pen of house on these inherent properties, but the latter alone are entirely insufficient to account for the form the house of pen assumes during construction. Blasting operations plus the properties of the stone may produce a crude cave in the mass of building material but never spontaneously give the form of a constructed building. For that is a different type of pattern. In fact, it is also a type of coded pattern. The type or energy that Miller and others have been feeding into their mixtures of methane, ammonia, steam, etc., is to be compared to the energy fed into a tree stump in blasting operations. It is like lightning or X-radiation. It may produce a mass of building materials or even, under some circumstances, a crude depression or "cave"--a proteinoid. But we cannot--and should not--on theoretical and experimental grounds, expect any code to arise by random mechanisms. They are like fire and water; they do not mix. And yet the life's work of many scientists has been devoted to this attempt--supported by millions of dollars of grants-in-aid. It is folly on theoretical and practical grounds, and flies in the face of all scientific common sense. We must now look briefly at the principle of the necessity of coding in complex molecular specificity. Complexity And Specificity The larger the number of stages leading to an end product in any reaction, the greater the number of chances there are, in general, for formation of undesired by-products. The corollary is also true: The fewer the number of stages leading to an end product, the easier it is to arrive at it without side reactions swamping our flow sheet. This proposition assumes that all energy requirements have been satisfactorily met. During the formation of simple building blocks or biomonomers there are usually few possible reaction stages. Thus there are fewer side reactions possible than where complex macromolecular synthesis is going on. For the latter are often constructed from tens of thousands of building blocks passing through many stages. These facts imply that, although simple building blocks can be produced by spontaneous reactions which may be compared to our blasting operations, yet it is difficult to imagine a "house" constructed of tens of thousands of building blocks, and which is the expression of a "code," to be constructed by the same mechanism. The more complex the end product and the more reaction stages leading to it, the greater the necessity of some constraint or "codification" being applied to the system if one specific product is to be obtained. This "codification" can be applied to a multistaged reaction system requiring specificity in two main ways as we have already pointed out. Either a specific catalyst may be used, or the reaction conditions may be intelligently manipulated so as to favor one specific reaction product at the expense of the undesired ones. In this connection it has been pointed out by Murray Eden that only a minute portion of the structurally possible protein formulae has been explored by nature. Eden concludes, therefore, that there must have been a high degree of synthetic direction constraint operative during abiogenesis and vital synthesis following it. From this fact alone he deduces that protein synthesis, at least, did not originate in spontaneous processes as a result of abiogenetical reactions.7 The same argument, of course, applies to the super-specificity known as optical activity in living molecules. We have already endeavored to show that the specificity derived from natural catalysts is insufficient to account for the type of natural specificity observed in living material. Accordingly, Eden believes that some very active form of synthesis (or degradative) constraint must have been operative from abiogenesis onward. We look at a few more aspects of multistage reactions and specificity in a later chapter. (1) G. Steinman, Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 119 (1967): 76; and 121 (1967): 533. (2) S. W. Fox, K. Harada, K. R. Woods and C. R. Windsor, Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 102 (1963): 439; and G. Krampitz, Naturwiss 46 (1959): 558. (3) Dean H. Kenyon and M. V. Cole, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sc. 58 (1967): 735. (4) Kenyon and Steinman, Biochemical Predestination, p. 211. (5) J. Lederberg, Science 131 (1966): 269. (6) Steinman, Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 121 (1967): 533. (7) Murray Eden, article in P. S. Moorhead and M. M. Kaplan, eds., in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, p. 7.