Some scientists are not slowed much by the creationist assault on evolution and other science education.
While we’ve been talking here, people like Andrew Ellington are advancing the science with regard to what we know about origin of life and “RNA world” issues. See “Misperceptions meet state of the art in evolution research,” from Ars Technica. For speed’s sake, and accuracy, I’ll quote extensively from John Timmer’s article at Ars Technica.
Four scientists laid out the state of the art in their respective fields in a session sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialog on Science, Ethics, and Religion, in late February 2008, at AAAS’s annual meeting. [Where? I don’t know.] Andrew Ellington spoke about origin of life research, Douglas Erwin explained new findings on fossils from the Cambrian, Ted Daeschler detailed the state of knowledge about how fish turned into tetrapods on land, and John Relethford addressed human evolution.
The discussion of life’s origins was handled by Andy Ellington of the University of Texas – Austin. He started by noting that simply defining life is as much of a philosophical question as a biological one. He settled on the following: “a self replicating system capable of Darwinian evolution,” and focused on getting from naturally forming chemicals to that point.
Ellington noted that chemicals necessary for life can and do form without living things. He said research shows that the first replicating chemicals led to the first reproducing life forms. And finally, he said that RNA activities reveal a lot about how the “RNA World” — before DNA — could function and carry on without DNA, which is in all known life forms today.
[More, below the fold]