The New Genesis Foundation
The New Genesis:
Reviews
The   Universe   is   a   complex   place.      Science's   job   is   to   model   how   nature   works,   and   turn   our understanding   into   something   useful.      Generally,   this   modelling   works   on   a   reductionist principle:   Science   is   at   its   best   when   seemingly   complicated   processes   in   nature   can   be understood   with   simplifying   equations   and   hypotheses.      Where   physics   in   concerned,   this generally   works   out   pretty   well.      Likewise   with   chemistry,   notwithstanding   some   exceptions to   the   general   rules.      But   when   it   comes   to   biology,   the   complexity   involved   seems   altogether staggering. In    this    book,    the    author    grapples    with    with    the    disparity    between    the    straightforward principles   of   evolution   by   natural   selection,   and   the   sheer   immensity   of   the   task   when attempting   to   successfully   apply   those   accepted   tenets   to   biological   processes.      Wojciech Kulczyk   is   not   convinced   that   evolutionary   principles   are   capable   of   explaining   complex forms   of   life.     As   a   physicist   with   a   PhD,   he   is   no   stranger   to   science.      His   writing   is   clear   and erudite,     demonstrating     a     strong     grasp     of     many     of     the     sciences.     Yet,     he     remains fundamentally   puzzled   by   the   evolution   of   complex   life   on   Earth,   and,   in   particular,   how   it could have arisen as a matter of chance. Kulczyk   considers   it   highly   likely   that   the   increasing   complexity   of   life   here   on   Earth   was given   a   helping   hand.      Actually,   many   helping   hands.      He   argues   for   an   intelligence   behind the   design   -   that   life   needs   an   engineer   to   create   the   cosmic   blueprint   that   churned   out complex   life   on   Earth.      He   stops   short   of   identifying   whether   that   intelligent   designer   is   a spiritual   entity,   or   a   set   of   interested   parties   existing   in   the   physical   realm.      Reading   between the lines, he favours the latter. The   author   argues   that   the   Earth   is   such   a   ridiculously   ideal   crucible   for   the   emergence   of complex   life   that   such   a   fortuitous   location   could   not   have   arisen   by   mere   chance.      It   seems uniquely   qualified   to   host   life   -   a   circumstance   that   the   author   finds   untenable.      Instead,   a being   or   beings   contrived   to   set   up   the   stage   for   life   -   going   to   some   considerable   lengths.     This   includes   the   purposeful   collision   between   a   comet   and   the   Earth   to   provide   our   world with   its   late   veneer   of   life-bearing   water.      Then,   along   the   way,   'they'   intervened   on   multiple occasions   to   create   the   intermittent   bursts   of   evolutionary   progress   noted   from   the   Earth's fossil   records.      in   a   roundabout   kind   of   way,   the   author   mixes   punctuated   equilibrium   with alien    intervention.        Our    world    is    essentially    an    experiment    in    cosmic    and    biological engineering,   he   argues,   which   we   mistakenly   think   was   either   due   to   random   chance,   or God. There   are   problems   with   this   reasoning,   I   would   argue.      The   Universe   is   immense   enough for   almost   any   improbable   event   to   emerge   somewhere.      Even   if   this   is   the   most   favourable place   in   the   universe   for   complex   life   to   emerge,   capable   of   reflecting   upon   itself   and   the circumstances   within   which   it   finds   itself,   then   that's   okay.      The   chances   of   self-reflective consciousness   finding   itself   in   the   best-placed   world   in   the   universe   for   it   to   emerge   isn't infinitely small:  Instead, it's 1 in 1.    Even    so,    I'm    not    remotely    convinced    that    life    is    that    precious.        The    author    discusses panspermia.      He   recognises   that   our   solar   system   is   relatively   young   compared   to   much   of the   Cosmos.      However,   he   doesn't   really   entertain   the   notion   that   life,   in   some   fledgling form   at   least,   can   transfer   seamlessly   between   star   systems   via   interstellar   comets,   or   even   be encountered   within   nebula   way-stations   along   a   star's   grand   tour   of   the   galaxy.      Why   not?     Instead   of   life   being   only   here,   why   can't   it   be   absolutely   everywhere,   spilling   out   into   space and   seeding   itself   on   every   planet   or   comet   (usually   unsuccessfully)?      In   which   case,   the multiple   parallel   paths   to   complexity   become   essentially   infinite   in   their   extent,   and   the 'chances'   of   high   level   functionality   emerging   from   mutating   systems   over   long   time   periods increases exponentially. Kulczyk's    thesis    becomes    grittier    as    he    examines    the    complex    nano-engineering    that    is cellular   biology.      The   complex   functionality   of   cellular   processes   is   mindboggling,   and   he does   an   incredibly   good   job   of   bringing   this   all   to   life.      Photosynthesis   is   a   case   in   point,   with its   series   of   biochemical   processes   whose   origins   seem   to   defy   random   mutation.      Pitched   at the   level   of   popular   science,   Kulczyk's   descriptions   of   how   cell   biology   work   are   factual, informative   and   well-explained.      He   makes   good   use   of   metaphor   and   analogies   to   illustrate his   many   points,   and   I   was   better   informed   about   modern   developments   in   these   sciences   as a   result.      For   example,   in   the   following   extract   he   questions   how   the   complex   biochemical processes     facilitating     nitrogen     fixation     could     have     emerged     by     chance,     with     its molybdenum-iron containing protein of about 31,000 atoms: "It    is    difficult    to    envisage    how    evolution    could    invent    such    a    complex    system.        how evolution   could   select   such   a   special   metal   cluster   interacting   with   dozens   of   amino   acids.     Again,   DNA   codes   not   only   this   huge   catalyst   molecule,   but   also   nine   auxiliary   proteins helping   to   assemble   the   metal   cluster.      How   could   DNA   know   in   advance   what   to   code?   "        (p41) He   makes   the   excellent   point   that   the   Cambrian   explosion   saw   the   emergence   of   multiple phyla,   or   divisions   of   lifeforms   -   more   than   we   have   now   (p81).      Why   has   the   variety   become stunted   over   time?      If   evolution   leads   to   variety,   then   why   isn't   the   world   full   of   novel   life- forms?      Life,   however,   is   an   adaptation   to   environment.      If   the   environment   on   this   planet was   capable   to   supporting   a   broader   mix   of   life-forms   in   the   past,   then   it's   quite   possible that   our   current   world   could   lack   a   similar   wonderful   menagerie.      The   flux   of   Ice   Ages   and interglacials   may   have   played   a   part   in   our   modern   epoch,   for   example,   tempering   a   more diversified   evolutionary   procession.      The   Holocene,   perhaps   Anthropocene,   is   seeing   that diversity     cut     back     significantly:     Humanity     presents     an     environmental     block     on diversification   as   it   domesticates   nature   to   its   own   ends.      Intelligent   intervention,   then, seems to work in the opposite direction to that being advocated in this book... Another   point   which   got   me   thinking   was   about   the   capacity   for   abstract   thought   among Neanderthals    (p100).        Does    a    lack    of    grave    artifacts    really    indicate    a    lower    level    of development?      We   don't   (generally)   place   items   in   coffins   these   days:   Does   that   indicate   that we   are   less   developed   than   our   ancestors   who   did?      Obviously   not.      There   is   an   assumption that   the   development   of   religious   thinking   indicates   abstract   thought,   and   that,   therefore, the   absence   of   artifacts   shows   an   absence   of   such   development.      But,   perhaps   Neanderthals just    realised    quite    early    on    that    there's    no    God?        Perhaps    theirs    was    a    more    sensible relationship   with   death.      In   terms   of   creativity,   it   is   now   recognised   that   Neanderthals painted   art   on   cave   walls   65,000   years   ago,   probably   before   humans   did.      Perhaps   the Neanderthals taught the humans art.  Who knows. This   book   is   chock-full   of   fascinating   science.      The   author   does   not   shy   away   from   grappling with   a   high   degree   of   complexity.      Indeed,   that   is   his   very   point.      He   leaves   his   hypothesis about   the   progenitors   of   this   'guided   evolution'   until   the   end   of   the   book.      This   final   section is   speculative.      It   derives   from   Michael   Behe's   thesis   about   the   fine   tuning   of   nature   and intelligent    design.        Disappointingly,    the    nature    of    these    designers    is    hinted    at,    but    not stipulated.      There   is   much   about   the   mechanism   of   change;   but   by   whom?      This   is   where science   needed   to   give   way   to   philosophy.      More   searching   questions   needed   exploring   in this book. The   issue   I   have   here   is   similar   to   sceptical   arguments   about   God.      Why   do   you   need   a middle   'man'?      If   the   intelligent   designers   are   carbon-based   life-forms   built   of   (roughly)   the same   biochemical   constituents   as   us,   then   how   did   they   independently   'evolve'   to   the   level where    they    could    do    this    themselves?        Who    intelligently    designed    them?    If    evolution occurred   naturally   for   the   intelligent   aliens,   then   why   not   for   us,   too?      Perhaps   our   designers are    self-replicating    robots    with    an    artificial    intelligence    which    has    itself    'evolved'    over millions,   even   billions   of   years?      In   which   case   one   can   only   assume   they   were   at   least   kick- started   by   a   carbon-based   life-form   at   some   time   in   the   past,   and   set   free   to   continue   their scientific   experiments   across   the   galaxy.      Again,   somewhere   along   the   lines,   material   beings had   to   evolve   naturally   first.      Otherwise,   we   need   God,   or   at   least   some   kind   of   directing, intelligent      spiritual   force.      In   which   case,   we   can   just   go   straight   to   Creationism,   and   forget the science completely. It    strikes    me    that    we    really    are    'just'    manifestations    of    complex    chemistry.        If    there's intelligent   design,   then   it   occurred   at   the   blueprint   stage   of   the   universe:   The   rules,   the   laws, creating   the   opportunities   for   this   complexity   to   emerge   from   carbon,   hydrogen,   nitrogen and   oxygen.      Perhaps   our   universe   is   one   of   many   -   an   infinite   array   within   a   multiverse; each   with   a   different   set-up   of   laws   and   parameters.      In   which   case,   we   live   in   the   universe where   such   complexity   is   possible,   and   we   have   emerged   on   a   planet   where   the   conditions just   happened   to   be   right.      Then,   it's   just   down   to   statistics.      No   matter   how   remote   a possibility,    it    occurs    somewhere    because    there    are    so    many    potential    planets,    so    many potential   universes.      That   we   are   on   the   'right'   one   is   simply   because   this   is   the   one   where   it happened, and our consciousness is available to record it. I'm   not   ruling   out   alien   intervention.      There's   a   good   chance   that   we   have   been   visited   in   the past,   and   severely   messed   with.      But   that   possibility   can   sit   alongside   the   natural   processes that   increase   complexity   and   functionality   in   response   to   environmental   change.      After   all, somewhere, somewhen, it had to occur naturally to start with.
Review By Andy Lloyd
Review by NEXUS Magazine As   suggested   by   its   title,   The   New   Genesis,   this   is   a   book   where   the   author   aspires   to   explain the    origins    of    life    and    man    on    Earth.    He    asks    the    question,    "Is    life    on    Earth    such    an improbable   phenomenon   and   something   quite   unique?"   and   approaches   the   question   using the   laws   of   science   instead   of   tales   of   supernatural   powers.   Unusually   for   these   times,   the main   tenet   of   this   book   is   to   show   that   life   on   Earth   is   so   unbelievably   complex   that   it   could not    have    arisen    spontaneously,    nor    could    it    have    evolved    into    intelligent    multicellular organisms   as   a   result   of   random   mutations.   Instead,   the   author   proposes,   such   life   could only   have   arisen   as   the   result   of   a   purposeful   design,   and   further,   that   intelligent   life   on Earth   was   the   result   of   a   well   planned,   long-term   experiment.   "It   was   not   the   outcome   of supernatural   forces   but   the   product   of   beings   which   are   probably   very   different   from   us",   he asserts.   This   book   takes   a   holistic   approach   to   the   genesis   of   life.   It   starts   with   the   selection   of a   suitable   planet   and   the   necessary   adjustments   to   its   orbit,   followed   by   what   is   required   to bring   just   the   right   amount   of   water   to   its   surface.   It   is   true   that   the   development   of   life   went through   several   stages   which   are   still   not   plausibly   explained   by   evolution,   starting   with single-celled    prokaryotes    and    ending    with    the    incredibly    complex    multicellular    human brain.   Not   content   with   his   existing   scientific   blasphemy,   Kulczyk   further   suggests   that   the beings   responsible   for   the   experiment   on   Earth   are   still   supervising   it   from   close   quarters. Kulczyk is author of the article on Panspermia in the previous issue of NEXUS (25/03).

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