Life and its Origin [Book Review]

Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 8:240-241 (1958)
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Abstract

It is axiomatic that the fuller and more integrated interpretation of scientific discoveries and data lies within the domain of the philosopher. This statement has all the more force when we come to deal with the problem of Life and its origins. In his book, Dr. Fothergill rightly takes for granted that eventually all life goes back to God for its origin, but his primary concern is the origin of life on the earth. Arguing that before we look for the origin of life we must try to find out what life itself is, he examines the various theories of abiogenesis and points out that they all fail to find a real distinction between the living and the non-living. They all assume that fundamentally a living organism is nothing more than a complex physicochemical system in equilibrium. The proponents of these theories while readily admitting the enormous complexity of the organic molecules that take part in biological reactions, yet with incredible naiveté postulate that these have evolved from simpler peptides which in turn have been synthetised from simple inorganic molecules like carbon dioxide and ammonia in the primaeval oceans. While even fairly complex polypeptides have been built up in vitro, their synthesis from a mixture of inorganic chemicals has never been observed.

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