The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough.
I have lived much of my life among molecules. They are good company. I tell my students to try to know molecules, so well that when they have some question involving molecules, they can ask themselves, What would I do if I were that molecule? I tell them, Try to feel like a molecule; and if you work hard, who knows? Some day you may get to feel like a big molecule!
Four elements, Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, also provide an example of the astonishing togetherness of our universe. They make up the "organic" molecules that constitute living organisms on a planet, and the nuclei of these same elements interact to generate the light of its star. Then the organisms on the planet come to depend wholly on that starlight, as they must if life is to persist. So it is that all life on the Earth runs on sunlight. [Referring to photosynthesis]
elements quoteshydrogen quotescarbon quotesoxygen quotesnitrogen quotesprovide quotesastonishing quotestogetherness quotesuniverse quotesmake quotesorganic quotesmolecules quotesconstitute quotesliving quotesorganisms quotesplanet quotesnuclei quoteselements quotesinteract quotesgenerate quoteslight quotesstar quotesplanet quotesdepend quoteswholly quotesstarlight quoteslife quotespersist quotesearth quotesruns quotessunlight quotesreferring quotesphotosynthesis quotes
If the germ plasm wants to swim in the ocean, it makes itself a fish; if the germ plasm wants to fly in the air, it makes itself a bird. If it wants to go to Harvard, it makes itself a man. The strangest thing of all is that the germ plasm that we carry around within us has done all those things. There was a time, hundreds of millions of years ago, when it was making fish. Then ... amphibia ... reptiles ... mammals, and now it's making men.
germ quotesplasm quotesswim quotesocean quotesmakes quotesfish quotesfly quotesair quotesbird quotesharvard quotesman quotesstrangest quotesthing quotescarry quotesthings quotestime quoteshundreds quotesmillions quotesyears quotesago quotesmaking quotesfish quotesamphibia quotesreptiles quotesmammals quotesmen quotes
I tell my students, with a feeling of pride that I hope they will share, that the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen that make up ninety-nine per cent of our living substance were cooked in the deep interiors of earlier generations of dying stars. Gathered up from the ends of the universe, over billions of years, eventually they came to form, in part, the substance of our sun, its planets, and ourselves. Three billion years ago, life arose upon the earth. It is the only life in the solar system.
students quotesfeeling quotespride quoteshope quotesshare quotescarbon quotesnitrogen quotesoxygen quotesmake quotesninetynine quotescent quotesliving quotessubstance quotescooked quotesdeep quotesinteriors quotesearlier quotesgenerations quotesdying quotesstars quotesgathered quotesends quotesuniverse quotesbillions quotesyears quoteseventually quotesform quotespart quotessun quotesplanets quotesbillion quotesyears quotesago quoteslife quotesarose quotesearth quotessolar quotessystem quotes
There are only two possible explanations as to how life arose: Spontaneous generation arising to evolution or a supernatural creative act of God.... There is no other possibility. Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others, but that just leaves us with only one other possibility... that life came as a supernatural act of creation by God, but I can't accept that philosophy because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation leading to evolution.
explanations quoteslife quotesarose quotesspontaneous quotesgeneration quotesarising quotesevolution quotessupernatural quotescreative quotesact quotesgod quotespossibility quotesscientifically quotesdisproved quotes120 quotesyears quotesago quoteslouis quotespasteur quotesleaves quotespossibility quotescreation quotesgod quotesaccept quotesphilosophy quotesgod quoteschoose quotesimpossible quotesspontaneous quotesleading quotesevolution quotes
When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!
origin quoteslife quotespossibilities quotescreation quotesspontaneous quotesgeneration quotesspontaneous quotesgeneration quotesdisproved quoteshundred quotesyears quotesago quotesleads quotesconclusion quotessupernatural quotescreation quotesaccept quotesphilosophical quotesgrounds quoteschoose quotesimpossible quotesarose quotesspontaneously quoteschance quotes
[Attributing the origin of life to spontaneous generation.] However improbable we regard this event, it will almost certainly happen at least once.... The time... is of the order of two billion years.... Given so much time, the "impossible" becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One only has to wait: time itself performs the miracles.
attributing quotesorigin quoteslife quotesspontaneous quotesgeneration quotesimprobable quotesregard quotesevent quoteshappen quotestime quotesorder quotesbillion quotesyears quotestime quotesimpossible quotesprobable quotesprobable quotesvirtually quoteswait quotestime quotesperforms quotesmiracles quotes
There was a golden period that I look back upon with great regret, in which the cheapest of experimental animals were medical students. Graduate students were even better. In the old days, if you offered a graduate student a thiamine-deficient diet, he gladly went on it, for that was the only way he could eat. Science is getting to be more and more difficult.
golden quotesperiod quotesback quotesgreat quotesregret quotescheapest quotesexperimental quotesanimals quotesmedical quotesstudents quotesgraduate quotesstudents quotesdays quotesoffered quotesgraduate quotesstudent quotesthiaminedeficient quotesdiet quotesgladly quoteseat quotesscience quotesdifficult quotes
Faced with a new mutation in an organism, or a fundamental change in its living conditions, the biologist is frequently in no position whatever to predict its future prospects. He has to wait and see. For instance, the hairy mammoth seems to have been an admirable animal, intelligent and well-accoutered. Now that it is extinct, we try to understand why it failed. I doubt that any biologist thinks he could have predicted that failure. Fitness and survival are by nature estimates of past performance.
faced quotesmutation quotesorganism quotesfundamental quoteschange quotesliving quotesconditions quotesbiologist quotesfrequently quotesposition quotespredict quotesfuture quotesprospects quoteswait quotesinstance quoteshairy quotesmammoth quotesadmirable quotesanimal quotesintelligent quoteswellaccoutered quotesextinct quotesunderstand quotesfailed quotesdoubt quotesthinks quotespredicted quotesfailure quotesfitness quotessurvival quotesnature quotesestimates quotespast quotesperformance quotes
I have often had cause to feel that my hands are cleverer than my head. That is a crude way of characterizing the dialectics of experimentation. When it is going well, it is like a quiet conversation with Nature. One asks a question and gets an answer, then one asks the next question and gets the next answer. An experiment is a device to make Nature speak intelligibly. After that, one only has to listen.
feel quoteshands quotescleverer quoteshead quotescrude quotescharacterizing quotesdialectics quotesexperimentation quotesquiet quotesconversation quotesnature quotesasks quotesquestion quotesanswer quotesanswer quotesexperiment quotesdevice quotesmake quotesnature quotesspeak quotesintelligibly quoteslisten quotes
Our challenge is to give what account we can of what becomes of life in the solar system, this corner of the universe that is our home; and, most of all, what becomes of men-all men, of all nations, colors, and creeds. This has become one world, a world for all men. It is only such a world that can now offer us life, and the chance to go on.
living quotesthings quoteslate quotesoutgrowth quotesmetabolism quotesgalaxy quotescarbon quotesenters quotescomposition quotescooked quotesremote quotespast quotesdying quotesstar quoteswaters quotesancient quotesseas quotesset quotespattern quotesions quotesblood quotesatmospheres quotesmoulded quotesmetabolism quotes