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Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature Paperback – September 1, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0671255633 ISBN-10: 0671255630 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (September 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671255630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671255633
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Vidyanand Nanjundiah on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many theories have been proposed for the origin of life on earth. All are highly speculative. Some are silly and others, more interesting, are perhaps even capable of being tested. In a class of its own, and at first glance a cop-out, is the hypothesis that life did not originate on earth at all, but was 'seeded' from outer space. First put forward seriously by the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius about 100 years ago and generally known as 'panspermia', the hypothesis is explored with wit and style in this book by Francis Crick. What it achieves is that it solves the embarrassing problem of how, within a few billion years after the earth cooled, extraordinary complex forms of self-reproducing entities appeared on earth. The price paid for this achievement is, of course, is that it begs the question entirely of how reproduction and metabolism could arise in the first place. Overall, I would rate the book as informative and thought-provoking. I recommend reading this book along with 'Origins' by Shapiro: that reviews, also wittily, the case for and against various theories for the origin of life ON earth.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
While many advances have been made in molecular biology/genomics since it's release in 1981, Life Itself gives any reader a unique, entertaining overview and perspective on the problem of how we got here. In short, an excellent and thought provoking book that even I (your average molecular biology student) can understand and recomend to your average creationist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Francis Crick (1916-2004) was a British molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist, who was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. In later years, Crick has been exploring more "philosophical" areas of science (see his books such as Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul and What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery, as well as the present book).

Crick states that "life is probably a happy accident which, even in the extended laboratory of the planet's surface, is likely to have taken many millions of years to occur." (pg. 39) Then he admits, "Life, from this point of view, is an infinitely rare event, and yet we see it teeming all around us. How can such rare things be so common?" (pg. 53) He states, "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." (pg. 88)

But rather than a "miracle," Crick writes in the Preface, "In this book I explore a variant of panspermia which Leslie Orgel and I suggested a few years ago. To avoid damage, the microorganisms are supposed to have traveled in the head of an unmanned spaceship sent to earth by a higher civilization which had developed elsewhere some billions of years ago. This spaceship was unmanned so that its range would be as great as possible.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Riley James on October 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant. Its perspective on time, matter, the universe, our lives, and aliens is all interesting and clear. What's funny about Francis Crick is that he's insanely clear while insanely deep and intelligent. He comes up with great metaphors for complex and abstract thoughts that make them simple and fun to read. This book will blow your mind and make you think. I am not totally sold on this book's wisdom, but it sure beats the religious takes on how we got here. "And god said, 'Let there be Crick!'"
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Hitch on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Life Itself its origin and nature is an excellent example of brilliant atheism-based thinking. Crick was a diehard, unrelenting atheist.

Life Itself takes the ancient panspermia ideas of Anaxagoras and adds some modern modifications based on Darwinian evolutionary ideas.

In the book we cannot help but notice that, anything, no matter how foolish, speculative, unscientific, unfounded or down right stupid, ... except God. Anything at all. The stupidity and baselessness of the proposal doesn't matter, as long as there is no God involved.

This is openly admitted by atheist scientists:

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community of unsubstantiated just-so stories [in evolutionary biology] because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material causes, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who believes in God can believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen. -Harvard geneticist R.
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