Sunday, 21 August 2016
Mathew and the DNA Conception Question
Did Matthew really first conceive, by inspired deduction, the idea of DNA?
On page xiii: of his book, Evolutionary Concepts in the Nineteenth Century, Dempster (1996) writes:
"Patrick Matthew's importance derives from the fact the first naturalist to set correctly the organic history of the world. To that he added the mechanism of the Natural Process of Selection. And to that he added an inspired speculation: 'Does organised existence, and perhaps all material existence, consist of one protean principle of life capable of gradual circumstance-suited modifications and aggregations, without bound under solvent or motion-giving principle, heat or light?' That principle we now call DNA."
On page 207 of his book, Evolutionary Concepts in the Nineteenth Century, Dempster (1996) writes:
'Molecular biology is a sign of the times. The centre of gravity of evolutionary studies has gradually moved fro the earth sciences to microbiology. In considering the host of molecules which are and have been studied, then one can appreciate that DNA given time can create anything. The wonder is that only Patrick Matthew has conceived that there might be a Proteus-like principle: '...capable of gradual circumstance-suited modifications and aggregations (Note F Appendix). Without that speculation he also saw clearly that life was a series of 'diverging .'
And on p. 208 of the same book Dempster has it:
'Today we would combine with time DNA's ability to create any living creature of plant. Patrick Matthew envisaged a Proteus principle of life; DNA would fit that speculation.'