How did life begin? Did the earth's vast array of life evolve from nothing? How does inert, lifeless matter become living tissue? What chemical processes transform nonliving substances into living organisms? Can these processes begin spontaneously, or do they require miraculous intervention? Can life be convincingly attributed to a supernatural cause— a Giver of life?
These are fundamental questions for which we need believable answers.
This area is particularly troublesome for those who embrace enthusiasm and the evolutionary explanation for life. Even Richard Dawkins, the die-hard atheistic evolutionist, admits that "the essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale. Whatever is the explanation for life, therefore, it cannot be chance. The true explanation for the existence of life must embody the veiy antithesis of chance " (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 317, emphasis added).
Science falls short in providing convincing support for the theory of evolution and life arising from nonliving matter. In spite of years of concerted attempts, solid evidence for the spontaneous generation of life simply does not exist.
The fact remains that no scientific evidence shows that life came from nonliving matter. Attempts to show that life can spontaneously generate from nonlife have instead demonstrated the opposite. In spite of much-hyped headlines to the contrary, when scientists have tried to create the most favorable conditions in controlled laboratory experiments, they haven't come anywhere close. They have managed only to confirm the astronomical odds against life arising spontaneously. It hasn't happened, nor will it ever happen. Life must come from preexisting life. This is a proven law of science.
After the question of the origin of the universe itself and the fine tuning of our planet for life, this is the next big question we must face: How did life get here? Once you establish that the universe had a beginning and did not arise on its own from nothing, it should be obvious that life also did not arise on its own from nonlife.
Atheistic evolutionists, however, insist on proceeding with the idea that life originated by a lucky accident and evolved through purely physical processes of random mutation and natural selection without the aid of an intelligent creator. Their assumed progression from simple life-forms evolving into complex life over billions of years seems to ignore the first issue: How did life emerge from nonlife?
Many have attempted to show how life began by describing a hypothetical distant past. The scene is a description of the newly formed earth gradually cooling, with an atmosphere of simple gases like hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia and carbon dioxide, with little or no oxygen.
This kind of atmosphere was subject to forms of energy such as electrical
The Giver of Life 33
discharges from lightning, they say, sparking reactions that fonned elementary amino acids, the building blocks of protein. They theorize that compounds must have accumulated until the primitive oceans reached the consistency of a hot, diluted soup. In time, they contend, the compounds developed into DNA chains and finally cells. Somehow life emerged from this prebiotic soup.
Researchers have produced a variety of amino acids and other complex compounds by sending a spark through a mixture of gases. However, try as they may, researchers have not been able to create life. All they have demonstrated is that the chemical components may have been present on earth. They have not even remotely shown that life can emerge from chemicals, even the right chemicals, mixing for an indeterminate period under predetermined conditions.
Intelligent man, with advanced technology, has produced only a tiny handful of the components organisms need to live. But never have we been able to create an organism, much less a living one. Even cloning, a remarkable scientific achievement that regularly makes headlines, utilizes already-existing life. No form of life—not even one living cell, much less something as vastly complicated as a bacterium—lias ever been created by concerted human experimentation.
The scientific approach has been backwards. Scientists know life exists, but they assume that no creator, designer or outside intelligence was involved. They then have tried to recreate the most likely scenario under which life, according to their thinking, might have arisen spontaneously. So far, they have managed only to rearrange inert, nonliving matter into other inert, nonliving matter.
That hasn't stopped many in the scientific community from concluding that life spontaneously arose from a prebiotic soup. But they still have not generated—and cannot generate—living matter from nonliving matter.
Life from outer space?
Not all scientists are comfortable basing the origin of life on mere assumptions. Many scientists are deeply troubled by the prebiotic-soup theory for the origin of life. Some admit it is nothing more than a wishful fantasy.
The late biophysicist Francis Crick, an eminent scientist who won the Nobel Prize for helping detennine the molecular structure of DNA, rejected this scenario. He wrote: "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 3 satisfied to get it going" (Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature, 1981, p. 88).
Is the traditional evolutionary picture true? What does the fossil record reveal? Does it support or contradict Darwinism?
followed by 40,000 zeroes (enough zeroes to till almost 15 pages of this publication).
To put that number in perspective, there are only about 1080 subatomic particles in the entire visible uni- „ , , , a u vi-, (i 1 • Some scientists acknowledqe that the odds verse. A probability of less than 1 in . , ■■
(n~. F „ , . of life spontaneously arisinq on earth are so
18 considered by mathemati- infinitesimally small as to be an impossibility. cians to be a complete impossibility. They turn t0 other theoriessuch as the belief The possibility of life arising accord- f/,af //fe was sent or drifted here from an ing to the traditional scientific see- unknown source elsewhere in the universe. nario, they concluded is "an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup" (Evolution From Space, 1981, p. 24).
Professor Hoyle was forced to conclude that "life could not have originated here on the Earth. Nor does it look as though biological evolution can be explained from within an earthbound theory of life... This much can be consolidated by strictly scientific means, by experiment, observation and calculation" (Tlie Intelligent Universe, 1983, p. 242).
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe conceded the impossibility of the traditional scientific explanation of the origin of life, even writing, "There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence" (Evolution From Space, p. 148).
Yet unwilling to accept the idea of a life-giving Creator God, they credited lesser superintelligences and also turned to panspennia as the most acceptable explanation for the origin of life on earth. Of course, by itself the notion of panspermia doesn't explain how life arose in the first place; it merely removes the question of the origin of life to some other far-off corner of the universe. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe attribute life to lesser superintelligences, but what intelligent power less than God could
Admitting that the odds against life arising on earth by chance make it a sheer impossibility, he adopted, as have other noted scientists, a belief in panspermia— the idea that life could not have arisen spontaneously on earth, but sprouted only when microorganisms or spores drifted or were carried to our planet from elsewhere in the universe. Crick suggested that the seeds of life may have been deliberately spread by an extraterrestrial civilization.
The late Sir Fred Hoyle was one of Britain's most famous astrophysicists. He and his colleague, Chandra Wickramasinghe, professor of applied mathematics and astronomy at University College, Cardiff, Wales, computed the odds for all the proteins necessary for life to form by chance in one place, as scientists assume happened on earth. The odds, they determined, were one chance in lO40 000—the number 1
The Giver of Life 35
The Giver of Life 35
devise life with all its complexities and interrelationships and shape the universe to suit life's development?
That such respected and honored scientists—including a Nobel laureate and a man knighted for his scientific accomplishments—would embrace such near-unimaginable speculations emphasizes the impossibility of life's thousands of intricate building blocks emerging through random, undirected processes according to the traditional evolutionary view.
Darwin's explanation for new species
If science cannot explain how life originated, can it explain how new We-foms originated? Charles Darwin simply sidestepped the issue of life's origin by adopting the attitude that "it is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter" (quoted by The Encyclopaedia Britcinnica, 15th edition, Macropaedia Vol. 10, p. 900, "Life").
The theory of evolution is widely spoken of as fact—"fact" based on two earlier assumptions: that the universe came from nothing and that life spontaneously generated from lifeless chemicals. Assuming these two are true, evolution then states the case for complex and varied life-forms developing from the cell that sprang to life in a presumed prebiotic soup.
This is where Charles Darwin comes in. Darwin gave life to the idea of evolution by proposing that species continually transform themselves with small changes through the mechanism of natural selection of individual organisms. These small variations, he said, arose by chance and spread by chance. These small changes ultimately influenced reproductive success, and natural selection then was able to pass on the newly crafted advantages to the descendants.
Of course, this scenario has several serious problems. In keeping with the "survival-of-the-fittest" idea that underpins evolution, there must have been pressure for these advantages to be developed. If the particular change (for example, a leg to help a creature move about better on land or a wing to keep it from breaking its neck in a fall) were necessary for survival, then it had to come about rather quickly or else the change could not benefit the creature in question.
Under almost any conceivable circumstance, a half-developed leg on an amphibian or half a wing on a dinosaur puts the animal at a distinct disadvantage in the struggle for survival. Thus that creature and partially developed feature would've been eliminated by Darwin's principle of natural selection and survival of the fittest and unable to pass that characteristic to future generations.
Darwin's greatest challenge
The fossil record we find outlined in textbooks depicts the varied life-forms, many of which are extinct, that have existed throughout the history of the earth.
The common view of the fossil record is largely a human interpretation used to * support Darwin's theory that life developed from simple to complex fonns without
3 the assistance of a supernatural cause. You can find charts and pictures in almost any
: biology book depicting a gradual transition from one species to another—fish to
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