Below is the email exchange I had with Brigham Klyce:
From: Tim Hutton To: Brig Klyce Date: 8:37 AM 8/24/2006 Hi Brig, I didn't make it to AlifeX but I've heard plenty about the ART prize, so you've made something of an impact at least. Mostly I read people suspecting you/ART of religious motives but I know nothing about this. I simply have one question for you. In the PDF released at AlifeX (http://www.panspermia.org/oeeipossible3.pdf) you say "it is reasonable to doubt that OEEI in a closed system is possible." Do you not regard the universe as a closed system? Thanks for your time, Tim
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 22:49:57 -0600 From: Brig To: Tim Subject: open reply re: Evolution Prize at Alife X Dear Tim -- Thanks for yours below, which has roused me to recontact the Evolution Prize mailing group by copies hereof. Hi everyone. I went to Alife X and to the Wolfram Conference in June to promote the question, Is Open-Ended Evolutionary Innovation in a Closed System Possible (OEEI/CS?) and to promote the Evolution Prize to stimulate interest in the question. At both conference sessions there was good attendance and lively discussion. But subsequently the thing has not taken off. For a few weeks I had private email exchanges with about eight of the roughly 40 people who asked to be on the mailing list. But I have sensed a certain standoffishness, as if everyone wants to see what happens before getting too involved. Your comment about "religious motives" is news to me (thanks), and is perhaps the reason people are waiting. If so, I am extremely &%$#&^%$#ing irritated, because I carefully explained to both groups that I am a militant agnostc. My mother considers me an atheist. I have absolutely no religious or other hidden agenda. This position is also made clear on my website at panspermia.org. Yes I have an open agenda, also revealed on the website. It is this: if OEEI/CS is not possible, my bet is on the strong version of panspermia. But I am not seeking interest in panspermia, only in the question. You asked if I regard the universe as a closed system. I think it is interesting that throughout history, except in Asia, people have tended to believe that the world ends just over the horizon. Same thing now. But the big bang theory is too new and too fluid to serve as the foundation for the rest of science. (Funny that the big bang is the only thing the creationists and darwinists agree on.) Anyway, I don't know if the universe is open or closed. If OEEI/CS is possible, the universe can be either open or closed. But if OEEI/CS is not possible, then we must take highly-evolved life as an initial condition. I think this would mean that either 1) life is the result of a miracle, or 2) life has always existed, and therefore the universe must have always existed. Such a universe would be open, timewise at least. (Multiple universes would all be part of the one universe in my usage.) I am profoundly opposed to the invocation of miracles, so I would opt for for choice 2. In other words, because I have faith in natural causes, I think that the answer to the OEEI/CS question can tell us if the universe must be, or need not be, open. Biology has something to say about cosmology. Meanwhile, in my opinion, the *direct* evidence for OEEI/CS, in life or any system analogous to it, is shockingly weak. This is the point that I have been trying to sell to others for the past few years. In biology, any new genetic program can be delivered by gene transfer. Very many examples of this are well known. More every week. This fact already challenges the Darwinian account for new genetic programs -- they evolved elsewhere, in an unobserved species or process? To bolster the case that they "originated", the big bang must be invoked. Meanwhile, computer models have not convincingly demonstrated OEEI/CS. But almost no one else, it seems, thinks this weakness is shocking. Yes there is interest in the prize money. ART's offering it helped me get the audiences, after all. (BTW, ART has given approximately 300,000 dollars to support scientists researching within astrobiology or the OEEI/CS question in the past 10 years.) As I explained to the organizers of ALife X, I want to support the pursuit of this issue by a group more qualified and powerful than myself. So far I perceive that people are more interested in the support than the pursuit. I still want to assemble a coalition. Hopefully, now that I have clarified my non-religious motive, momentum may pick back up. There was a consensus for a cash prize to the best paper that bears on the subject (OEEI/CS?). I will be pleased if this becomes real. I welcome responses from anyone on the Eprize list, about the process. I welcome submissions for such papers, with jurying to be determined. (Please say if I may post any response on my website.) Meanwhile, ART is ready now to support individual or cooperative research that bears directly on the question. Please, anyone, say if you are intereated. Tim, thanks for your interest and for the helpful feedback. I hope this email is informative. Sorry to be grumpy. Best regards. Brig ============= Brig Klyce Astrobiology Research Trust 3685 South Galloway Drive Memphis, TN 38111-6835 (901) 458-0123 fax -0127 http://www.panspermia.org/art.htm At 08:37 AM 8/24/2006, you wrote: >Hi Brig, > >I didn't make it to AlifeX but I've heard plenty about the ART prize, >so you've made something of an impact at least. Mostly I read people >suspecting you/ART of religious motives but I know nothing about this. > >I simply have one question for you. In the PDF released at AlifeX >(http://www.panspermia.org/oeeipossible3.pdf) you say "it is >reasonable to doubt that OEEI in a closed system is possible." Do you >not regard the universe as a closed system? > >Thanks for your time, > >Tim >
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 11:23:37 +0100 From: Tim To: Brig Hi Brig, Thanks for your reply. I'd be happy for these emails to go on your website or wherever. I will post them on my website too. I suspect the main reason the EPrize hasn't 'taken off' is simply people's apathy - people will tend to keep working in their own area of research. And of course scientists work very hard not to approach their experiments with an expectation of outcome, so they are naturally suspicious of ideologies. But I'm all in favour of prizes in science, and I suspect the motivation they produce is quite slow-burning. To respond to your points: I don't understand how the universe/multiverse could have an infinite past that always had life in it. Where did that life 'come from'? Isn't that just creationism in a different disguise? I have no objections to the concept that some or all of the components of life arrived on Earth from outer space, I just don't think that it's the simplest explanation. Life (in the mainstream view) must have spontaneously started somewhere, so why not on the Earth? Your comments on Darwinian theory are very strange to me. Are you denying that an enormous amount of evolutionary change has happened on this planet, as per the fossil record? If life was seeded on this planet in a highly evolved form, why did it start off with simple creatures and then work its way up to vertebrates etc.? No, evolution is the simpler answer. (Or maybe I have misunderstood you completely) Regarding OEEI/CS on computer, I do not find our failure to implement it shocking. We've only had computers for 50 years, after all. We have managed to show evolutionary complexity growth  (albeit with a pre-designed goal, thus not satisfying OEEI/CS) which is a significant piece of evidence for Darwinism. I appreciate your reassurances that you will accept a positive answer to your challenge to demonstrate OEEI/CS and not reject it because it clashes with your personal hunches about panspermia. A stronger public statement of that might go some way to quieten those critics of the prize. Can I ask where ART got the money from? Tim  The Evolutionary Origin of Complex Features. R.E. Lenski, C. Ofria, R.T. Pennock, and C. Adami, Nature 423 (2003) 139-145.
From: Tim To: Brig Date: Sep 6 Hi Brig, I'm sure you're very busy but it would be nice to know if you plan to respond to these questions at some point. I can't believe I've mortally offended you? Tim
From: Brig To: Tim Date: 24th June 2007 Tim -- I saw this unanswered email on your site and discovered that I had let it languish in my files til now. Sorry!!! My new replies will be inserted where appropriate. >... >I don't understand how the universe/multiverse could have an infinite >past that always had life in it. Where did that life 'come from'? >Isn't that just creationism in a different disguise? Life comes from life, as we know very well. Your question assumes something that we do not know -- life comes from nonlife. I think the burden of proof should be placed where it belongs. If life can come from nonlife, the phenomenon needs demonstrating. >I have no objections to the concept that some or all of the components >of life arrived on Earth from outer space, I just don't think that >it's the simplest explanation. Life (in the mainstream view) must have >spontaneously started somewhere, so why not on the Earth? Before modern biology (Pasteur), the simplest explanation was that germs pop out of sterile goo al the time. Simplest is not always best. >Your comments on Darwinian theory are very strange to me. Are you >denying that an enormous amount of evolutionary change has happened on >this planet, as per the fossil record? If life was seeded on this >planet in a highly evolved form, why did it start off with simple >creatures and then work its way up to vertebrates etc.? No, evolution >is the simpler answer. (Or maybe I have misunderstood you completely) Not denying the enormous amount of evolutionary change. Not denying that it happened over millions of years. In the theory I promote (strong panspermia + gaia = cosmic ancestry) it had to happen slowly. See for example, "How Is It Possible?" at http://www.panspermia.org/howposs.htm What I am denying is the darwinian account of the genetic programs needed for the origin-of-life or the evolutionary steps to higher life forms. That accidents wrote them, even with natural selection, is too unlikely. But if life always existed, maybe those programs always existed too. Here again, science has assumed something we do not know -- that the genetic programs had to "originate." If they can originate, the phenomenon needs demonstrating. This is the motivation behind the Evolution Prize. >Regarding OEEI/CS on computer, I do not find our failure to implement >it shocking. We've only had computers for 50 years, after all. We have >managed to show evolutionary complexity growth  (albeit with a >pre-designed goal, thus not satisfying OEEI/CS) which is a significant >piece of evidence for Darwinism. My review of your reference  s posted at http://www.panspermia.org/whatsne29.htm#030511 I think it has almost no relevance to the issue. >I appreciate your reassurances that you will accept a positive answer >to your challenge to demonstrate OEEI/CS and not reject it because it >clashes with your personal hunches about panspermia. A stronger public >statement of that might go some way to quieten those critics of the >prize. I PROMISE I'LL ACCEPT THE EVIDENCE, WHATEVER IT IS!!! (How about you others?) >Can I ask where ART got the money from? I ran a family business (textile rental) for 20 years. The sale of the business gave me the wherewithall to fund this project. Brig
From: Tim To: Brig Date: 26th June 2007 Hi Brig, Thank you for having patience with me. I appreciate the effort needed to reply to my emails. In particular I'm grateful for your answer to my vulgar question about the source of the prize money. I think others in the alife community will be reassured as well, not wishing to be seen to be supported by a religious group for example. The howposs.htm page does answer my question about how the fossil evidence for evolution fits in with your theory, thank you. I can see now why you dismiss the big bang theory as 'too new and too fluid' - else your whole theory collapses, since cosmic bacteria cannot have always existed. Perhaps you should award the prize to the physicists, for finding the evidence for the big bang, thus indicating that OEEI/CS must be possible. I think we need to agree to disagree, in order not to distract ourselves from searching for data. To this end, my own work on artificial chemistries continues. My 2002 alife paper showed a model where evolvable self-replicating structures appear spontaneously. More recently, small steps of complexity growth have been demonstrated. If I manage to demonstrate OEEI I'll be sure to let you know. Regards, Tim