Dr. Senapathy's theory of independent births has two components: (1) Darwin was only half right, and (2) the primordial pond produced many millions of original organisms, not just one or two.
The part about Darwin causes the most controversy because it takes on the conventional and accepted theory. Darwin incorrectly extended his observations of short-term adaptation and artificial selection to account for long-term "natural selection" of organisms over geological time. He made this leap without any firm evidence of long-term evolution.
The primordial pond (or ponds) produced not just one or two, but millions, perhaps billions of "seed cells" which are analogous to a zygote (a fertilized egg). These seed cells were formed in the pond by the random assembly of: (1) new genes, (2) parts of previously-made viable genomes, and (3) other biochemicals, all of which existed in the pond. Very few of these seed cells grew into viable creatures, and only a few that did were capable of reproducing -- and of surviving long enough to do so. The reused pieces of previously-made viable genomes accounts for the similarities we see today in supposedly "evolutionarily related" organisms.
The test of whether two creatures were born independently is: does either have any unique genes or body parts? If so, they are not related by evolution. For example, all birds might be related, but a fish and a whale are not. No new species are formed today, other than slight variations of existing organisms. Existing organisms can adapt and change, but only within a closed framework. This is what Darwin saw.
"A toad can become a frog, but never a rabbit."
A fundamental aspect of the new theory is the high probability of finding complete split genes in the random DNA of the primordial pond. Split genes contain "introns" (pieces of junk DNA) and "exons" (the coding parts of genes). Split genes are found in all eukaryote organisms (e.g., plants and animals). On the other hand, the genes of prokaryote organisms (single-celled bacteria) do not have introns. The probability of finding a relatively short exon in a long run of random DNA is much greater than that of finding a complete gene or a prokaryote gene. In fact, Senapathy shows that practically any exon (and hence any eukaryote gene with exons and introns) can easily be found in the large amount of random DNA available in the primordial pond.
This new theory not only accounts for the diversity of life, including the similarities and the differences between creatures, but Dr. Senapathy also explains the origins of life in the first place. Even Darwin started with an assumed first organism, never explaining where that organism came from or why life could not have happened more than just once or twice. Until now, the assumption has been that life was an accident -- but Dr. Senapathy shows how life was so probable as to be nearly inevitable.
There are many critics of this new theory, and their views are represented in the various technical sections listed below.
I met Dr. Senapathy at a University of Wisconsin-Madison symposium at which Nobelist Dr. James Watson was the keynote speaker. While talking to Dr. Senapathy, I casually mentioned something about ape/man similarities and the "missing link." "There is no missing link," he said. Whoa! This led to a short discussion of evolution and his new theory. Until then, I had just blindly accepted as fact whatever I had been told about Darwinian evolution.
I learned more about Dr. Senapathy and his theory from a profile in a local newspaper and by reading his Web pages (which includes the preface and first chapter of his book). I realized that he was a scientist and definitely not a creationist, so I ordered the book to learn more about genetics and his theory of independent births. Although I thought the theory was plausible, I had nothing else to gauge it against, and so I started looking for more information. I went to bookstores and the pertinent Usenet newsgroup, sci.bio.evolution (s.b.e.), on the Internet.
I was appalled by the initial treatment Dr. Senapathy received on the s.b.e. forum (see The First Posts). His work was rejected out of hand, mostly by people who had not even seen his book. So, I challenged the s.b.e. members to read the book and tell me precisely what was wrong with Dr. Senapathy's theory. My problem was getting the critics on s.b.e. to explain with details rather than broad dismissive statements about Senapathy and his entire theory. After a while, a vigorous technical discussion ensued. Except for occasional postings by Dr. Senapathy, I was the only source of details about the theory, and Keith Robison at Harvard became the primary antagonist. I put these Web pages together to summarize the s.b.e. discussions and provide some details about the theory.
Dr. Senapathy's book is written for an educated layman, so I found it easy to read and understand. And I certainly found the theory is plausible.
This is a radical new theory. But, so were most other famous and important theories when they were first proposed. The sun used to revolve around a flat earth.
Human (an independently born, Senapathian organism), and an electrical engineer, BS, ME(EE), MBA
Artesyn Corporation (we make computers)
Madison, WI (One of USA Today's most livable cities,
and the #1 best place to live in America, according to Money Magazine.)
There are a few obstacles that will prevent you from appreciating the new theory. Here are my suggestions for avoiding those problems:
Don't take the initial attack on Darwinism too hard. Dr. Senapathy starts his book with a lengthy discussion of Darwin's and related theories rather than first detailing his own theory about the origins of life. Some people unfairly reject Senapathy as a heretic since they are not prepared to accept any alternative explanation for the diversity of life on earth, much less contemplate the origins of life in the first place. The Darwin sections are necessary, however, in order for Dr. Senapathy to show that his theory is the only one that fully explains the entire scenario of life on earth. But remember...
Remember that Darwin was not completely wrong. He saw what he saw, and the new theory does not deny or contradict any of those direct observations. Here is the dividing line:
Clear your mind, and do not try to make the new theory fit your understanding of the old. If you have a presupposition of evolution (natural selection and descent with modification from a common ancestor), then you will try to evaluate the new theory as if it somehow "fits" into the old. For example, if you assume there is an evolutionary "tree" showing the relationship between organisms, you will not be able understand why organisms show common characteristics under the new theory. There is no big tree in the new theory, just many tiny ones. I look at it more as a "web."
Don't get into a word definition war. As you will see in the pages below, there have been many discussions about "microevolution" vs. "macroevolution" and the difference between a "theory" and a "fact." Concentrate on the general concepts of this new theory and don't try to disprove it using your dictionary. Here are a few common trouble spots:
Don't assume a certain detail in order to criticize the theory -- evaluate it fairly. If you have a limited understanding of the new theory you will tend to make assumptions or guesses about the theory to "fill in the blanks." However, your guesses will unconsciously reflect your current biases (e.g., your understanding of evolution), leading you to dismiss the theory as impossible. This is a simple theory to understand, but it has many facets, and there are hundreds of questions and answers detailed in the book. You really need to study the book to be a fair judge.
These Web pages are a start, but they are an incomplete source of information about the new theory. There may even be a bias here -- I could easily argue that the critics are overly represented in these pages. The only true source of information about the theory is the book itself, Independent Birth of Organisms. If you refuse to read and understand it, then you cannot argue effectively and fairly against it.
Don't expect Dr. Senapathy to have all the answers. This is discussed further below. Neither Darwin nor Dr. Senapathy can be expected to fully explain everything -- they weren't around 500 million years ago to record any observations. Senapathy's theory fully explains the molecular biology data involving such things as DNA, genes, and splicing signals -- Darwin was totally ignorant of that information, and therefore he was not constrained by it. Dr. Senapathy even ventures beyond that and offers plausible suggestions about the pond and the origins of life -- topics that Darwin did not even tackle.
Don't assume all data supports Darwinian descent. The argument: "but all our data supports evolution" is made over and over. Sure, much of the data does support descent from a common ancestor, but what do you think happens to data that doesn't? Since evolution has been widely accepted for 130 years, there has been no incentive for any contrary principles to be researched or discussed, unless it supports the prevailing theory. Contrary data is easily treated as defective or as an aberration. Dr. Senapathy writes: "We now know that because of the strongly-rooted evolutionary ideas, evolutionists do not consider that their observations may stem from a non-evolutionary process." Results are skewed when contrary information is seen and not actively pursued.
A few words about style. Dr. Senapathy frequently asserts a point as being a truism -- and then goes on to the details. At first, you will think he's jumped over the details, but it's just his style. In those cases, the paragraphs that immediately follow the assertions are supportive of the prior statements. For example, at the bottom of page 152, he writes: "we shall see that [the powers of point mutations] can never change a gene into another gene....". Then, very soon thereafter: "Thus, point mutations cannot contribute to the evolution of a new organism with a new gene or body part." This sounds like a rather sudden conclusion, but it is only a summary of what he explains on the following pages (154 -165).
It's a lengthy book (630 pages, including 62 pages of footnotes), and some topics are discussed in more than one context. So, there are occasional repeats of material -- the book contains a thorough analysis of the new theory.
Ms. Faith B. Miracle, the editorial director of a Wisconsin-based journal, characterized Dr. Senapathy's work as follows: "I appreciate your careful attention to language. It is not easy to locate science-related articles which are well written for easy access by non-scientists. I am finding your book highly readable, even though my science background is not strong. Wider distribution of your well-written text would provide a model to encourage 'plainspeak' in presenting scientific theories."
Since Darwin's time, a lot has been learned. We know about DNA and chromosomes, and how traits are passed from one generation to the next. We have learned about genes and how proteins are made from those genes. More recently, we have uncovered details such as introns, exons, codons, and splicing signals, and we are now recording genetic sequences of entire organisms. We should expect any new theory to incorporate all of this new knowledge and be in total harmony with it. But what about the old theory? Can we ask Darwin if he considered these recent discoveries? Of course not, but his theory should be put to the same tests as is any new theory.
Many people say Darwin's old theory along with its recent modifications fits the new data. However, for the past century, descent with modification has been the only fundamental scientific theory in use, and rather than rigorously testing that idea against every new discovery, researchers have been primarily interested in validating their new data by showing how their data fits evolution. After all, evolution has been the only theory in town. Data that does not fit is often put aside, called an exception, or explained in dubious ways. For example, "punctuated equilibrium" is supposed to explain some serious problems with the fossil record. There would be no profit in challenging the only theory around (how much respect would you get by refuting Darwin?). But, this is completely backwards! It results in an undeserved reinforcement of an incorrect theory.
Reminder: we're only talking about problems with long-term natural selection and descent with modification here -- there is no dispute that artificial selection and adaptations do occur within a closed framework, just as seen today and observed by Darwin.
If you were to treat both theories as entirely new, and evaluate them side by side, which would best explain the recent genetic discoveries as well as the origins and diversity of life? It you read and understand Senapathy's theory, it will win! Here are a few troublesome questions that are easily handled by independent births:
Nobody, not Charles Darwin, not Dr. Senapathy, has all the answers about events that occurred eons ago. You need to allow for some conjecture and imagination in those areas that have only limited data available (e.g., the pond) or that require more research. Darwin was allowed such latitude. On the other hand, Dr. Senapathy does have detailed answers for aspects of his theory that relate to DNA. He is just saying that the discoveries he has made while looking in detail at DNA and genes point to independent births, and so there must have been a primordial pond. He is, in effect, offering a reasonable scenario and saying "let's look at these possibilities more closely."
If you reject Senapathy's theory because he does not adequately explain the primordial pond or the origins of life to your satisfaction, then you must reject Darwin's explanation too. Oops, never mind, Darwin didn't even have an explanation for those matters -- life just somehow started. But how?
Could it be that Darwin's theory of evolution has been given this extra leeway because it has been the only theory around, and because you believed your mother and father when they taught you about it at the dinner table?
Each page contains some or all of the following:
Excerpts from Dr. Senapathy's book and articles he has posted to s.b.e. Text written by Dr. Senapathy appears in bold typeface. References to specific chapters and pages in Independent Birth of Organisms appear whenever possible.
Discussions about the new theory. Comments by people other than Dr. Senapathy or me appear in this text style. I recommend Courier -- the usual default. I have edited, spell-checked (that was necessary!), and reorganized these comments to shorten and clarify them, but I have not intentionally altered an author's fundamental content or meaning. Also, I have combined some postings and merged replies (mostly mine) into single articles to save space and reading time. The down-side is it causes some "conversations" to skip around and repeat a little.
If you have a text-only terminal or an old browser that cannot discriminate between various fonts, then the discussion threads will be confusing. Time for a system upgrade, no?
The Origins and Related Discussions:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Dr. Senapathy)
Updated: January 31, 1998
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