Theory 4 Seeding from Space

Frustrated by the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to chemical evolution on earth, some scientists-including Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA-have proposed that the building blocks for life came from somewhere else in space. Hoyle and N. C. Wickramasinghe have speculated that particles the size of living cells could reach earth without being incinerated by the atmosphere. While in space, a thin layer of graphite dust could protect them from the destructive rays of ultraviolet light.

This theory was bolstered by the discovery of amino acids in the famous Murchison meteorite that fell in Australia in 1969, as well as in another meteorite that plummeted into Antarctica some 3.8 billion years ago.39

Crick and Leslie Orgel have gone even further by suggesting that life spores may have been intentionally sent to earth by an advanced civilization, perhaps, some have speculated, with the intention of making earth a wilderness area, zoo, or cosmic dump.40

"All of that sounds pretty bizarre," I said to Bradley. "But, then, maybe it's not as bizarre as the idea that God created everything."

Bradley's face betrayed his distaste for this approach. "The fact that scientists come up with these kind of outlandish proposals shows that they just can't imagine any way that life could have naturally developed on earth, and they're right about that," he said. "I like the way Phillip

Johnson put it: 'When a scientist of Crick's caliber feels he has to invoke undetectable spacemen, it is time to consider whether the field of prebiological evolution has come to a dead end.'4i

"The biggest flaw in this theory is that it doesn't solve the origin-of-life problem," Bradley explained. "Think about this: if you say life emerged somewhere else, that just moves the problem to another location! The same obstacles exist."

While that was certainly true, I saw another possibility. "Maybe another planet would have an atmosphere of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen, which would be more conducive to producing the building blocks of life," I suggested.

"Even if that were the case," he responded, "how did these amino acids and proteins get assembled into living matter? That's a problem of information-how to sequence the atoms in the right way-and that problem is independent of what the atmosphere is. Even if meteorites did deliver amino acids to earth, you still have the assembly problem.

"As A. Dauvillier said in The Photochemical Origin of Life, this theory 'is a facile hypothesis, a subterfuge which seeks to avoid the fundamental problem of the origin of life."' Even Stanley Miller has no use for the theory. He told Discover magazine: 'Organics from outer space-that's garbage, it really is."'43

Bradley picked up a report on a July 1999, international conference of origin-of-life scientists and read an excerpt to me: "Before the end of the conference's second day, researchers had to agree that extraterrestrial delivery could not have supplied all the needed prebiotic molecules"44 The report went on to say that evolutionist Shapiro had studied the Murchison meteorite and "showed that side reactions would effectively prevent any prebiotic molecules in the meteorite from ever spontaneously forming life molecules."45

"Meanwhile," added Bradley, "Christopher Chyba, a planetary scientist from NASA, said that even though spacecraft have confirmed some organic compounds in comets out in space, 'at these velocities, at least ten to fifteen miles per second, the temperatures you reach on impact are so high that you end up frying just about anything."6 Besides, even if they made it to earth, you still have the problem of how they would have become assembled into living matter."

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