The Fifth Miracle by Paul Davies – book review

Written By: Hope Taylor

The Fifth Miracle – The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life. by Paul Davies.
Publisher Solomon and Schaster, Rockefellar Centre. 1230 Av of America HY 10020

Once life was initiated, the universe would never be the same. Slowly but surely it has transformed Planet Earth. By offering a route to consciousness, intelligence and technology, it has the potential to change the universe.

This book is about the origin of life, or biogenesis.

That the origin of life was not a miracle.  or That we live in a bio-friendly universe of a stunningly ingenious character.

Suggestions are;

(1) That life began by chemical self-assembly in a watery medium somewhere, in earth’s surface.

(2) That life came to earth from space in the form already of viable microbes.

“In recent years, however, the evidence has increasingly suggested to me a third alternative; that life began inside the Earth – several kilometres down the solid crust…..” These super-bugs are described in Chapter 7. “Where I argue these super bugs are fossils left over from the dawn of life” Page 20.

Page 28. Life Mysterious Origins.

“The task of reconstruction would have been largely guess work were it not for the recent discovery of certain “living Fossils” – microbes that inhabit weird and extreme conditions. These super-bugs are being intensively investigated, and look to revolutionize microbiology.”

What is Life?

“Living creatures certainly have a life of their own. It is as if they contain some inner spark that gives them autonomy.”

Page 40. “Inside each and every one of us lies a message. The message is written in atoms strung together in an elaborately arranged sequence to form D.N.A…………It is a blue print or instruction-manual for a living, breathing, thinking human being.
It is incredibly ancient. It is universal.”

Page 44. “Darwinism can offer absolutely no help in explaining that all-important first step; the origin of life.”

Page 246-8. Did life every begin?

The entire discussion about the origin of life presents from the assumption that life actually has always existed. “Clearly Earth life has not always existed, because Earth itself has not always existed. But life may have been around before the Earth was formed, and came here by some panspernia process. If organisms are able to propagate from star to star across the universe, then the question of whether life had a beginning reduces the question of whether the universe had a beginning…..life may always have been the property of the universe. So intelligence will also be co-extensive with the universe.”

“If evolution really is progressive, the laws of nature might not only be rigged in favour of creating life, but rigged in favour of advancing it too.” Page 264

“The impression we gain is that life, when left to flourish, rides an escalator of growth.” Page 265

“It’s an inspiring vision: Can we believe that the universe is not only bio-friendly but mind friendly too?” Page 271.

Page 261
“Deduce from the perspective of determinism….I view the universe not as a ‘cosmic Joke’ but as a meaningful entity – made in such a way as to generate life and mind, bound to give birth to thinking beings able to discern truth, apprehend beauty, feel love, yearn after goodness, define evil experience mystery.” (Page 261)

“Did life ever begin? The entire discussion about the origin of life proceeds from the assumption that life actually had an origin.” (247)
Then life must always have been a property of the universe. So intelligence will also be co-extensive with the universe. Mind would be just as much a permanent feature of the universe as matter.” (Page 249)

“There is no fundamental reason why the universe cannot have always existed” (Page 248)

“Undeniably romantic, but true never-the-less (is) the vision of a self-organizing and self-complexifying universe, grounded by ingenious laws that encourage matter to evolve toward life and consciousness. A universe in which the emergence of thinking human beings is a fundamental and integral part of the overall scheme of things. A universe in which we are not alone” Page 273

“It is an inspiring vision. But is it credible? Can we believe that the universe is not only bio-friendly but mind-friendly too” Page 271.

Bob Brinsmead commented
“The Fifth Miracle is a good read. As a scientist, Davies goes as far as he can go ? science has to stick with what is verifiable, can be replicated, demonstrated, etc. It cannot deal with mystery, the unknown, spiritual, or to put it another way, it cannot address issues that cannot be falsified, eg. The existence of angels, God, the afterlife, the resurrection etc. You can’t prove that angels do not and cannot exist and so addressing these matters is not a matter of science. Davies concluding chapter is very good, and he does explode the premises of those who say that the whole universe, human consciousness and everything else is just an ‘oops’ of naked chance.”