Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe

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9780684845098: Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe

While others search the skies for extraterrestrial life, Michael Denton has examined the recent discoveries in all the sciences to ask - Could life elsewhere be substantially different from life on Earth? Drawing on a staggering knowledge of physics, biochemistry, geology, and evolution, Denton builds a step-by-step argument for human inevitability. Life requires water, DNA, and protein; it can only flourish in an Earth-like environment. Building on these claims -which, until recently, were impossible to defend - Denton dares to address the boldest question of all - Is a homo sapien-like creature the only possible highly intelligent being in the universe?

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (not reviewed) again confronts the notion that the presence of humankind is a random event in a random universe, asserting that ``the cosmos is uniquely fit for the specific type of life that exists on Earth.'' Denton, a New Zealandbased researcher in genetics and eye disease, begins with the discoveries of 20th-century physics and cosmology that support what the first modern scientists, such as Kepler and Newton, desperately longed for: evidence of design in nature. Without it, there could be no assurance of humankind's unique place in the universe. One such discovery has to do with the delicate balance between the relatively weak force of gravity and the strong nuclear force. If gravity were stronger the universe would be smaller, since it would have expanded less quickly. The mass of stars would also be smaller and their life spans much shorterlife, therefore, would not have time enough to develop. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, stars would not form at all. Denton cites a number of eminent physicists to support his views, but what he really wants is to take the argument to biology, which as a field still holds the Darwinian view that ``life and man are fundamentally contingent phenomena.'' Denton is no creationist but argues that carbon-based life could never have formed without Earth's precise biology: No other liquid but water has the available permeability, thermal properties, and viscosity; the sun could not be further away or closer; and the distribution of various elements neatly corresponds to an environment most amenable to life in this or presumably any other corner of the universe. Denton is rather pedantic, driving the same point home again and again. And yet he makes a thorough and fascinating case, one that will no doubt anger those holding to the orthodoxies laid down by Darwin. (50 b&w illustrations, 15 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

New England biologist Denton continues the assault on Darwinian science, especially the theories of evolution and natural selection, that he began in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Here, Denton takes a page out of the work of 19th-century natural theologians like William Paley and 19th-century anti-Darwinian scientists like Robert Chambers to contend that, far from being random and without direction, the laws of nature operate by design. Moreover, says Denton, the design of the laws of the universe inevitably lead to one conclusion: "The entire process of biological evolution from the origin of life to the emergence of man was somehow directed from the beginning." Denton marshals a dizzying array of scientific evidence to bolster his conclusions. First, he examines the evidence from physics and chemistry for the inevitability that the development of a universe like ours would have the evolution of life as its goal. He discusses gravity, the nuclear energy levels of certain atoms, water, light, carbon, uranium and more as elements whose existence is perfectly orchestrated to usher human life onto the universe's stage. Denton then discusses evolutionary biology, arguing that the biocentric nature of the universe undermines the Darwinian principles of contingent natural selection. Denton's arguments are weakened by their circular nature (he assumes design in nature and proceeds to make pieces fit his argument whether they do so easily or not), but his prose is engaging and his insights are accessible to readers who lack a deep scientific background. In the growing debate over Darwin's theories, Denton's voice remains one of the most notable and compelling.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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