DNA and evolution

Here is the link to the original article: “No DNA, no future,” by Avi Shafran

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Here is my reply printed in edited (shortened) form in the Jerusalem Post,

Dear Editor:
Avi Shafran should do more homework before he pontificates on scientific
subjects of which he only remembers a snippet from grade school many years
ago. In experiments using electrical discharge through mixtures of gases
thought to represent the earth’s primitive atmosphere, among the components
detected were not only amino acids but purines, bases that are present in DNA.
These are among the most stable organic compounds found on earth and were
characterized as far back as 1838. So the statement on which his whole thesis
is based that the first organisms had “No DNA, no future” is entirely wrong!
In his further attack on evolution he makes the repeated mistake of calling
evolution “a theory,” but this is only scientific jargonism. Evolution is not
a theory it is a fact, supported by a plenitude of evidence from fossils and
genetic analysis. What is a theory, however, is HOW evolution occurred. He
supports a theological theory of evolution, called “directed evolution,” while
scientists see no reason to invoke external direction, when the process can
unfold unaided. As he says of the book of Genesis, “the biosphere unfolded in
stages, no details are given.” Of course not, it is much later scientific
analysis that gives the necessary details.
I see no reason why the author is so against the workings of chance in
evolution and in our lives, it is everywhere. Having watched the programs
entitled “Seconds from disaster,” on the National Geographic channel, it is
obvious that chance can determine matters of life or death. One of many
examples, the failure of one screw in the tail mechanism of a jet caused it to
crash into Los Angeles bay killing 100 people. Did God strip the screw?
He rejects the possibility of evolution occurring by chance over millennia
because it has “never been witnessed.” This is about as persuasive as a
Holocaust denier who says he didn’t witness it, therefore it cannot have
occurred, and that was only 60 years ago.
Ignoring the real facts of life will not aid in educating children to
understand our world and their place in it.
Visiting Professor of Pharmacology
The Hebrew University
(coauthor of “A Century of DNA”
with F. Portugal, MIT Press, 1977)
For previous postings see: http://www.commentfromisraelblog.blogspot.com

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