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  PREFACE

13               Evolution: Possible or Impossible?

Preface

   Among the sciences, biology holds a unique place in the thinking of many people.  It is the study of living organisms and we are all included in its realm.  This field is intriguing not only because living things are fascinating to study, but also because it encompasses the amazing structures and processes of our own bodies and brains.  In addition, it may possibly provide clues as to the meaning of our existence.  All this may serve to enrich one’s present life and give some indication concerning how it ties in with the rest of the universe.
   This short volume presents certain of the most interesting discoveries from the recent rapid advances in molecular biology which have excited scientist and layman alike.  Such information is available of course in many books and journals.  These facts, however, will herein be examined in the context of that philosophy of science which has been predominant throughout the recent past, namely the philosophy of evolution.  Certain key facts of current biological knowledge are studied in the light of that overview by applying the rules of probability reasoning, to find if such an overview can logically be sustained.
   This book may serve as a vehicle by which alert adults and older young people may obtain a quick grasp of the central facts of current molecular biology and of their significance. No prior background in the field is required, since the book is written in nontechnical language, yet information concerning our present understanding of life on the molecular level is presented in some detail.  The student of biology may find it a source for such facts and for ideas on how those facts may reasonably be interpreted.
   Perhaps all who write in this fast-developing field suffer the


14               Evolution: Possible or Impossible?

concern expressed by one author in his book when he wrote, “It will surely be out-of-date before there is time to get it printed.”  Since this particular volume does not deal with data alone, there is hope of escaping that early obsolescence, because timeless principles are involved when it comes to examining and evaluating the facts in the light of probability rules.  Once a person has an understanding of these principles, he can apply them to new research discoveries as they appear on the horizon.  In the process of doing so, it will be found that it is possible to interpret the significance of the discoveries more accurately, and that life is more interesting and rewarding as a result of a clearer comprehension of the overall picture.

June 1973             JAMES F. COPPEDGE






15               Evolution: Possible or Impossible?

Acknowledgments

   Grateful appreciation is hereby expressed for the invaluable assistance received from the following eminent professors and/or research scientists.  Their taking time to share information from their wealth of professional knowledge is not to be construed as any endorsement of this book.  There was no occasion for some of them to know the author’s views, and it is probable that some would differ strongly with certain of the conclusions reached herein.  These scientists represent a variety of viewpoints, yet all courteously shared information on particular subjects via mail or telephone.  In alphabetical order, the following are among those who were most helpful:

  • Harry Block, University of Liverpool
  • James Bonner, California Institute of Technology
  • Larry Butler, Purdue University
  • Melvin A. Cook, IRECO Chemicals
  • Margaret 0. Dayhoff, National Biomedical Research Foundation
  • Robert DeLange, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Arthur Elliott, King’s College, London
  • Sidney W. Fox, University of Miami
  • Jesse L. Greenstein, California Institute of Technology
  • Philip C. Hanawalt, Stanford University
  • Joseph L. Henson, Bob Jones University
  • Thomas R. Howell, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Norman Hughes, Pepperdine University
  • John C. Kendrew, Cambridge University
  • Elias Klein, Gulf South Research Institute
  • Harold J. Morowitz, Yale University

16               Evolution: Possible or Impossible?

  • Marshal W. Nirenberg, National Institutes of Health
  • John H. Ostrom, Yale University
  • Linus Pauling, Stanford University
  • George Preston, California Institute of Technology
  • John G. Read, Hughes Aircraft Company
  • Fred D. Williams, Michigan Technological University
   We are grateful to Dr. Arthur Kornberg of Stanford University for his courtesy in providing an electron micrograph of DNA and permitting its use.
   Biologists George F. Howe and Bolton Davidheiser kindly read the manuscript before revisions and offered vital encouragement.  In addition, Dr. Howe played a key role in generously going out of his way to advocate publication and offer assistance to that end.  Earlier a class taught by Dr. Davidheiser had much to do with inspiring the author to go into this field.
   Dr .Kenneth L. Perrin, mathematician, helped to ascertain the “substitution formula,”  used in calculations involving multiple substitutions.
   Mrs. Louise Carroll exhibited her characteristic careful excellence in typing and correcting the manuscript from very rough drafts.  Mrs. Lavonne Cart cheerfully typed prodigious quantities of research notes.
   The California Graduate School of Theology, recognizing the importance of the subject, allowed the author to do extensive research in biology and probability theory for his doctoral dissertation in this essential field of science and religion.  This contributed greatly to the scope and early appearance of this book.
 

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