by Denyse O'Leary
Addressing the mystery of life's origin, Schroeder opts for self-organization - but he does not mean by this that after eons of slow cooking, augmented by an occasional accidental stir, life just sort of organized itself. He entirely dismisses the idea that life could have started by chance (pp. 84-85). He argues that self-organization occurred in response to a recipe for life encoded into the nature of the universe. He explains,
There is no biblical mention of a special creation for the origin of life. The laws of nature, created along with the creation of the universe, and the very special conditions of the Earth were quite adequate to orchestrate the flow of the universe toward life.
In defense of his view that life forms are encoded in such a way as to unfold according to a preordained pattern, he writes,
The obvious questions with regard to algal and protozoan genome size are: why does an algal cell or an amoeba retain so much genetic capacity? And why, within this huge genetic library space, would a primordial protozoan have stored information related, for example, to jointed limbs and vertebrae? There would be no immediate benefit to the amoeba and so no genetic reason for them to maintain this neutral information in their DNA If it were not neutral, then its expression was clearly not in the forms as expressed in the Cambrian animals.
Inherent in nature are channels providing direction to the development of life. (page 92)
The concept of a latent library of programmed changes that take effect at key points in the history of life is very different from the classical Darwinian theory of evolution in which merely random changes in genes that happen to confer a survival advantage drive huge changes in animal and plant body form. While special creationists will no doubt take issue with Schroeder's view, there is no question that it is compatible with the basic principles of intelligent design.
Next: Part Five: Non-humans with a human form? And what of the divine wisdom?
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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