The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis
Michael J. Denton1,2
1Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai, INDIA 2Discovery Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
Here I review the claim that the order of nature is uniquely suitable for life as it exists on earth (Terran life), and specifically for liv- ing beings similar to modern humans. I reassess Henderson’s claim from The Fitness of the Environment that the ensemble of core biochemicals that make up Terran life possess a unique synergistic fitness for the assembly of the complex chemical systems char- acteristic of life. I show that Henderson’s analysis is still remarkably consistent with the facts one century after it was written. It is still widely accepted even among researchers in astrobiology. I also review the evidence for believing that many of the proper- ties of the same core set of biochemicals are specifically fit for the physiology of complex terrestrial beings resembling modern humans. I show that none of the recent advances in the field of extremophile biology, alternative biochemistries, or recent allu- sions to apparent defects in the fitness of nature for Terran life significantly undermine the core argument, that nature is pecu- liarly fit for carbon-based Terran life, and especially for the physiology of complex terrestrial beings resembling modern humans.
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