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Section 3: Quotations from Scientists

Heart of the Issue--Mechanism Requires Design

Michael Polanyi, "Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry," Chemical & Engineering News, 21 Aug. 1967, pp. 57-65.

...Machines seem obviously irreducible, since they have comprehensive features that are not due to a spontaneous integration of physical and chemical forces. They do not come into being by physical-chemical equilibration, but are shaped by man. They are shaped and designed for a specific purpose....(p. 57)

...If DNA is regarded as bearing a pattern that forms part of an organism and as transmitting information through this pattern, then such a pattern is to be classed likewise as a morphological feature of the organism, and hence be irreducible to terms of physics and chemistry. (p. 62)

...And thus it follows that the shape and structure of living beings has the structure of an information.

...When this structure reappears in an organism, it...constitutes a boundary condition, which as such transcends the laws of physics and chemistry.

This brings the vital shaping of offspring by DNA into consonance with the shaping of a machine by the engineer. The manufacturing of a machine also represents a distinctive distribution of matter not due to the working of physical-chemical forces and it, too, forms the characteristic boundary conditions of the system in question...It achieves control of the boundaries by imprinting a significant pattern on the boundaries of the system. Or, to use information language, we may say that it puts the system under the control of a non-physical-chemical principle by a profoundly informative Intervention... (p. 64)

It may seem unbelievable, but it is yet a fact, that for 300 years writers who contested the possibility of explaining life by physics and chemistry argued by affirming that living things are not, or not wholly, machinelike, instead of pointing out that the mere existence of machinelike functions in living beings proves that life cannot be explained in terms of physics and chemistry....

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