Thu. Apr 9th, 2020

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Creative Evolution: The Only History of Life – P.P. Grasse

10 min read

The following excerpt is taken from “Evolution of Living Organisms” by P.P. Grasse pg. 88-89:

In all respects, evolution is a long story. Spontaneous generation occurred once and only once; life cannot be reinvented, it is transmitted, it “is” continuity. Our cells are the daughters (to the nth generation, but daughters nevertheless) of the first animal which appeared on the surface of the earth some 800 million years ago; this animal was itself partly reproducing the substance out of which the first living being, floating in the salt waters of the primeval ocean, was made. The study of the groups of animals or plants for which we have fossil evidence has revealed that, in their case, evolution is not the continuous unfolding of a simple phenomenon occurring at a regular speed and repeating itself in a regular sequence. It is a history, that is to say a maze of facts, of phenomena, pertaining to a group of objects whose nature, arrangement, and order change with time, following certain irreversible rules or laws. All objects, all matter, obey the laws of physics and chemistry. Any body placed in the vicinity of our planet is submitted to terrestrial attraction and, depending on its speed, will fall vertically to the earth. The laws of physics and chemistry are universal. Yet, in the course of time celestial bodies undergo irreversible variations: a star cannot return to its original state; the conditions prevailing in the earth’s mass and on its surface shortly after its genesis will never be found again. The macrocosm has its history which unfolds according to the laws of matter, that is to say the laws of universal determinism. The theory of the expansion of the universe, presently considered as the most plausible cosmogeny, is a fairly good explanation of the evolution of the worlds. Geology is the history of the earth; cosmology is that of the macrocosm. On the other hand, physics and chemistry are not historical sciences; they are sciences of the matter whose laws are eternal and unchanging. Indeed, the evolution of the macrocosm and that of the biocosm are based upon fundamentally different mechanisms and their respective laws are apparently unrelated. But do they not both reflect the instability of all that exists? Today’s universe is not what it was yesterday, nor what it will be tomorrow. Without indulging in Spencer’s evolutionism, which is outdated in its form as well as in its imprecise and too-simple principles, one must consider the facts and take them into account when making any scientific or philosophical interpretation of the living being. The historicity of biological evolution is proved by the present complete interruption of all forms of spontaneous generation of living beings from inert materials. Creation from nitrogenous and other organic compounds dispersed or aggregated to a varying degree in sea water cannot be repeated. Spontaneous generation, which satisfies our logic, was a historical phenomenon in the highest sense of the word; although impossible today, it did, however, occur on earth in its early days or on another planet outside of our solar system, once only, and that was enough to launch life in the cosmos. Although the macrocosm develops according to the laws of physics and chemistry, the living world adds to its history by obeying the same laws; it also follows its own laws which we know only partially.

Grassé, Pierre-P.. Evolution of Living Organisms (Page 89). Elsevier Science. Kindle Edition.