by William Hamilton III

from AstroSciences Website




It has been the contention of evolutionary biologists that life on earth started in some prebiotic mixture of organic elements in the clays, tide pools, or seas of earth.


By the mechanism of natural selection, factors both in the environment and organism select genotypes that have inherited new traits to increase their population, perhaps even replacing older genotypes. Changes in environment may select new traits to be expressed in the gene pool insuring survival of a species against new challenges. Most theories on the origin of life have been restricted to particular environmental niches that scientists believe would be most conducive for the production of organic molecules and the eventual synthesis of RNA and DNA.

Examination and analysis of the probability of the synthesis of biochemicals from an abiogenetic beginning seems unlikely when the mathematical probabilities are elucidated according to some authors. Essentially, the objection to the origin and evolution of life is aimed at the short time period for chance combinations of organic chemicals to form a living biochemistry.


More stalwart scientists who are satisfied with the current geogenesis of life have invoked new arguments to defend their turf. These new arguments involve the concepts of self-organization and even chaos theory. As a counter-point, those scientists who are still in the minority, do not find sufficient information complexity to initiate the self-organization of living molecules and thus have extended the growing debate.

Complicating the issues involved in post-Darwinian views is the crystallization of two new factions in the anti-Darwin controversy. One is the Intelligent Design movement which has been linked to former Creationist who take a theistic “life is a miracle wrought by a Creator” view and those who have resurrected the theory of Panspermia, the Origin of Life from space.

I see valid arguments and invalid arguments in all these points of view, but will present what I believe is a paradigm shift away from a geocentric start to life to what I would term Astrogenesis, that the elements of life were born in space, and, finding suitable environments where they could propagate and evolve, have seeded the earth and other planets with these elements which have been programmed to evolve into diverse forms of plant, animal, insect, and microbial life. The thesis here is that the genetic code constitutes a program and a message which is transferable from one generation to the next.

Albeit, the idea of a genetic program infers intelligence and teleological orientation toward a plan or a goal. This alone invokes the concept of a Creator or Cosmic Mind that programmed life into existence.


This has been refuted by those who see this DNA as decoded information only with no evidence of encoding by some Cosmic Mind. Some do not see information theory as relevant to the origin of life, just chemistry. This seems to be a regressive argument as chemical processes are information processes. That the encoder is not seen constitutes a problem that might be solved with a new approach. One cannot decode what is not first encoded.


It is not so much the sequence of the DNA molecules that determine the meaning in the message, but the meaning that can be determined by codons. In other words, we need to translate the meanings much like using a dictionary to determine the usage of words.


Panspermia - An idea whose time has come

On March 27, 2002 a news story broke on that announced:

“In two separate studies, scientists mimicked conditions of outer space, doused frozen interstellar cocktails with ultraviolet radiation and created amino acids, which are critical components of life.

The work shows that amino acids could be created around many developing stars, which emit high doses of UV radiation, and that life would have had just as good a chance of forming on planets that might exist around those stars as it did here on Earth.

The studies also support a growing expectation among many scientists that life on Earth may have been seeded from space, rather than having been forged only from raw materials that developed on Earth.”

This story went on to say:

“Already, scientists have found amino acids in meteorites -- chunks of asteroids or comets that landed on Earth. Amino acids, though not life itself, may have jumpstarted life on Earth with their arrival, some scientists have long suspected.

Another theory has held that life on Earth developed out of a soup of lesser materials.

Remarkable as it might be to think of life's ingredients arriving on a space rock, researchers have sought to show that amino acids might also form in interstellar space and thus be ubiquitous. If so, then the raw material of terrestrial life would date back to an earlier time, before comets and asteroids were born.

"Amino acids are literally raining down out of the sky," said one of the team's leaders, Max Bernstein of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center, "and if that's not a big deal then I don't know what is."

The laboratory experiments, one conducted by Bernstein's U.S. team and the other by a European group, irradiated mixtures of ice that contained molecules known to exist in interstellar space. The work was done in vacuum chambers under the low temperatures found in space.

Svante Arrhenius is one of the major figures in physical chemistry and had a major role in the development of ideas about ions, solutions, acids and alkalis, and rates of reactions.


His recognition of the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has perhaps been neglected as this problem is considered to be a late twentieth century phenomenon. Arrhenius conjectured that bacteria may be able to survive the cold of space and survive heating as they entered earth’s atmosphere from space. This revived the old concept of panspermia. Svante Arrhenius theorized that bacterial spores propelled through space by light pressure were the seeds of life on Earth.

This idea was further expanded on by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe who reintroduced the idea of panspermia as an alternative theory on the origin of life. Since Hoyle believed that life could not have arisen on earth by chance, that evolution was not the product of chance, he advocated a strong theory of panspermia. Some scientists have united this theory of panspermia with James Lovelock’s teleological theory of earth as Gaia and call the new theory Cosmic Ancestry (1)

Some of the findings of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are quoted here:

“In 1968, polycyclic aromatic molecules were detected in interstellar dust.


In 1972, convincing evidence that the dust contained porphyrins was obtained.


Then in 1974 Wickramasinghe demonstrated that there are complex organic polymers, specifically molecules of "polyformaldehyde" in space. These molecules are closely related to cellulose, which is very abundant in biology.


By 1975, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe were convinced that organic polymers were a substantial fraction of the dust. This line of thought was considered wildly speculative at that time. Now, however, that organic polymers in space are abundant and may be necessary for life is well accepted. Today we often see stories about things like vinegar among the stars, or "buckyballs" from space as "the seeds of life". To that extent the scientific paradigm for the origin of life on Earth has already shifted. “ (1)

The means by which spores, microbes, and other biochemical matter arrives on earth is principally through the agency of meteorites and comets that frequently impacted the earth in its youth. Bacteria has been detected in the highest regions of the atmosphere where some scientist suppose it arrived from space.

There is even some indication that microbes have been found in lunar soil.

Another form of panspermia is ballistic panspermia. This refers to debris being knocked off a planet like Mars, reaching escape velocity, and entering the atmosphere of another planet with passenger microbes intact. The ALH84001 Martian meteorite found in Alan Hills, Antarctica, is an example of possible ballistic panspermia.

Benjamin Weiss is a graduate student in planetary science at the California Institute of Technology and Joseph Kirschvink is Professor of Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology and they had this to say about tests conducted on the Martian meteorite:


Confirming Evidence
These results demonstrate that ALH84001 had not been heated to even 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) since before leaving the Martian surface, confirming Melosh's theory that rocks could be ejected off the surface of Mars without being heat sterilized.



click above image to enlarge






At such temperatures, prokaryotes (simple, one-celled organisms without well-defined nuclei) and even many eukaryotes (organisms with well-defined nuclei) like fungi or plant seeds might survive the launch.


Unfortunately we cannot constrain the formation temperature of the carbonate globules-although we think the observed magnetization originated on Mars, we don't yet know exactly when that took place. (Constraining the temperature at which the carbonate globules in ALH84001 formed would help settle the debate over possible life traces in the meteorite. A high temperature could rule out life as we know it in the rock; a low formation temperature would be conducive to life.)

Although it's unlikely that ALH84001 itself brought Martians to Earth (it spent nearly 15 million years wandering through cold, airless space), it is not unreasonable to assume that if there were life on Mars, other rocks have already transferred it here. Computer dynamic simulations suggest that about a billion tons of Martian rocks have landed on Earth since the solar system formed, and every million years about a dozen fist-size rocks are transferred from Mars to Earth in just a couple of years.


In fact, one in ten million of the arriving Martian rocks could have been transferred in less than a year!

Other researchers have brought back living bacterial spores from an orbiting satellite where they spent more than five years bathed in strong ultraviolet light in a deep vacuum. We know, too, that such bacteria can survive the high pressures and shock they might encounter during ejection. Evidently, it is likely that if there were Martian microorganisms, they have been transported to Earth throughout most of our planet's history.


Maybe, then, we don't need to go all the way to Mars to find Martians.” (2)

There is even a society for launching our own seeds into space and populating other worlds with life from earth.

To put all of this in perspective, the idea that genetic information which developed and evolved elsewhere in the universe and planted itself on earth through panspermia so as to evolve organisms that are similar to organisms that have already evolved on other planets might be the reason why intelligent, artifact-making lifeforms elsewhere may be as human as those on earth.

In fact neuroscientist and astrobiologist Dr. Rhawn Joseph makes this bold statement on panspermia:

“The genetic seeds of life swarm throughout the cosmos, and these genetic "seeds," these living creatures, fell to Earth, encased in stellar debris which pounded the planet for 700 millions years after the creation.

And just as DNA contains the genetic instructions for the creation of an embryo, neonate, child, and adult, and just as modern day microbes contain "human genes" which have contributed to the evolution of the human genome, these "seeds," these living creatures, contained the DNA-instructions for the metamorphosis of all life, including woman and man.

DNA acts to purposefully modify the environment, which acts on gene selection, so as to fulfill specific genetic goals: the dispersal and activation of silent DNA and the replication of life forms that long ago lived on other planets. “



Intelligent Design (ID)


This bold new movement is said to originate from Creation Science though a few of its proponents deny this. Fred Hoyle was certainly not a Creationist and yet he determined that the vast range of biochemicals and RNA/DNA could only be the work of design.

One of the new concepts to emerge from this movement is that of irreducible complexity as introduced by biochemist Michael Behe who expounded on this concept in his book, Darwin’s Black Box. Behe describes this as a system where if one of the components were removed would lose its function.


Behe, as other advocates of ID, have had numerous critics attack his book. He says in rebuttal,

“…where the removal of one of the components of the system causes it to lose its function, and that such systems are very difficult to explain in Darwinian terms. I argued that irreducibly complex biochemical systems are better explained as the product of deliberate intelligent design. The book has been quite controversial and has been vehemently criticized by Darwinists.


In this paper I discuss several of what I consider to be the most serious of their objections. They include contentions that either the biochemical systems I discussed are not irreducibly complex, or that systems of similar complexity have already been shown to be approachable by Darwinian means. I will demonstrate that these arguments are both incorrect.” (3)

Another scientific advocate of ID is William A. Dembski who states:

“Today, however, chance and necessity have proven insufficient to account for all scientific phenomena. Without invoking the rightly discarded teleologies, entelechies, and vitalisms of the past, one can still see that a third mode of explanation is required, namely, intelligent design. Chance, necessity, and design—these three modes of explanation—are needed to explain the full range of scientific phenomena. “(4)

The battle between Darwinists and the Designer group has heated up and the debates rage on as the Darwinist try to quash the anti-scientific notion that a superintelligent being designed the elements of life.


If the idea of a designed biological system is proven through information theory and mathematics, it will constitute a revolution that will certainly change scientific thought for ages to come. Is this likely? Probably not in the immediate future.


Semiotics and Information Theory

Another contingent in the biological sciences deals with information theory, self-organization, and the science of signs (semiotics).

Here is a diagram constructed of an analog process by Hubert Yockey, a physicist who worked under Robert Oppenheimer and worked on the Manhattan Project (production of the first atomic bomb). In the fifties he published about effects of radiation on living systems and started to work on the application of information theory to genetics and evolution.


Yockey published 7 articles in the Journal of Theoretical Biology from 1974 - 1995 and was organizer of the Symposium on Information Theory in Biology. (5)



Message in source code




Encoder Transmitter



channel code




decoder receiver




Message in destination code







genetic noise: mutations


noise in genetic code tRNA



Genetic message in DNA

including tRNA

transcription into mRNA



mRNA code



translation into protein





Genetic message in protein code




independent channel (cytoplasma?)




These diagrams indicate that DNA is an analog of a computer instruction set that triggers a message to build proteins of specific varieties that eventually grow into a living organism.

There is no doubt that the information complexity in biological entities is very high and that the probability of random mutations leading to more highly structured life forms has the appearance of being impossible.




The real paradigm shift is to consider that the Universe as a whole is a life-producing nursery and that the genesis and evolution of life is not earth-centered but rather is distributed among the stars of the galaxies.


This idea can be developed into a viable theory as studies in panspermia and astrobiology continue.

The real vision this offers is a way to reconcile the possibilities of ancient and recent visitors to earth who appear to be humanoid with an overarching theory that explains the existence of cosmic cousins.


Not only may we find humanoid life forms on other worlds, but perhaps we may find creatures that closely resemble our horses, dogs, tigers, elephants, and cats as well as birds and reptiles and flowering plants and trees whose genetic patterns are universal and repeated unerringly in all friendly environments and abodes of life throughout the cosmos.