Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Today's Times

... contained two articles on evolution.

The first remarked on a report by David Deamer et al at University of California, Santa Cruz, which comes to a negative conclusion about the possibility of life evolving in ponds warmed by volcanic heat. The report concludes that this is unlikely, with reference to volcanic springs in Kamchatcka (Russia) and Mount Lassen, California.

However, my understanding was that life is thought to have evolved around volcanic vents in oceans. Evidence gleaned from experiments in warmed ponds around geysers isn't likely to have much bearing on whether or not life might have evolved in high-pressure thermal vents thousands of feet below sea level. Having said that, I really need to read the original paper ....

The second was an op-ed by Richard Morrison, on Intelligent Design. As with many commentators, he says, "Not for a moment have I ever doubted that I am descended from the apes." But he concludes, in commenting about the survey conducted in conjunction with the BBC Horizon programme on ID (the chances are if you are reading this post of mine, then you read my review of that...) "... I don't think that mankind is ready - not now, and maybe not ever - to accept that the soul is just a chemical trick of the brain."

He might be interested to know more about ID than he has apparently learnt from anti-ID media. For example, whilst there may be people who wish to exploit ID for the political end of getting a telic account of the origin of humanity into public schools, the scientists carrying out ID aren't fundamentally concerned with the politics at all. And whilst he might say that "... a monkey would never write [King Lear] except by freak accident", he apparently has little idea of the statistics involved. "One-in-a-zillion" doesn't come close.