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Don Stewart :: What Is the Evolutionary View of the Origin of Life?

Don Stewart
The theory of evolution teaches that life originated by chance, not by design. How and why it happened is unknown. Science writer Isaac Asimov has admitted that any explanation is guesswork:

We can make inspired guesses, but we dont know for certain what physical and chemical properties of the planets crust, its ocean and its atmosphere made it so conducive to such a sudden appearance of life. We are not certain about the amount and forms of energy that permeated the environment in the planets early days. Thus the problem that scientists face is how to explain the suddenness in which life appeared on this young (4.6 billion year old) planet earth. In the nineteenth century, scientists first began to accept the concept of biological evolution and to dismiss the possibility that life had been created in its present complexity by some supernatural agency. That raised the question of how this extraordinary phenomenon called life could possibly have come to be by accident (Isaac Asimov, Omni, November 1983, p. 58).

Life Arose By Chance

The theory of evolution maintains that when the earth was formed a few billion years ago it had an atmosphere (called a reducing atmosphere) that was radically different from today. It is assumed that no oxygen was present in the early earths atmosphere. The atmosphere supposedly consisted of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water vapor. If the early earth had oxygen in its atmosphere as it has today, life could not have spontaneously evolved. Oxygen breaks down big molecules into smaller ones, and would have destroyed the large molecules long before they reached the state of living.

Fortunate Situation

It is believed that life originally emerged through a fortunate situation in some primeval pool of water. Molecules were randomly and spontaneously formed by the action of ultraviolet rays, electrical discharges, and a continuous bombardment of highly charged particles. More and more pieces clustered together and formed increasingly larger molecules and molecular chains. Through random processes these giant molecules then combined until a primitive cell stage was reached. Finally, they absorbed other molecules and, at some point, began to produce. Thus developed the first living cells. Those first living cells then fed on the molecules still left in the "primeval soup."

Soon thereafter photosynthetic cells developed which produced and released oxygen into the atmosphere. That oxygen, combined with the metabolism of those first living cells, destroyed the original molecules and changed the atmosphere forever. Once life had evolved, the theory of evolution teaches that the earths environment was so altered that life could no longer develop spontaneously.

Laws Of Probability

What are the chances that life could develop spontaneously in the hypothetical primeval soup by chance and over long periods of time? They are not very good. One single bacterium, for example, contains some 1,500 enzymes, which, in turn, consist of several hundred amino acids. Those various amino acids must be arranged in precisely the right sequence. The chance that a given enzyme, consisting of two hundred amino acids (of which there are twenty different kinds) could develop by chance is one in 20 to the 200th power. In other words, the chance is practically non-existent. And that is only one of the necessary 1,500 enzymes for one bacterium. The origin of a single living cell, then, would require billions of kilos of each of the many different enzymes and DNA molecules, combining and recombining randomly, until, against all probability, just the right random combination occurred.

Furthermore, there is now overwhelming evidence that the earths early atmosphere was not a reducing atmosphere. It may have had more oxygen than today!

Not Enough Time

It is often said by evolutionists that given enough time life could spontaneously develop. Nobel prize winning scientist George Wald has stated:

The important point is that since the origin of life belongs to the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps it involves, given enough time, it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, with its capability for growth and reproduction, once may be enough. Time is the hero of the plot . . . Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, the probable becomes virtually certain. One only has to wait; time itself performs miracles (George Wald, "The Origin of Life," Scientific American, August, 1954, p. 45).

There is the famous statement of Julian Huxley that given enough time monkeys typing on typewriters could eventually type out the complete works of Shakespeare. The idea that time can solve all the problems is just not true. Luther Sunderland writes:

Such uninformed statements have a dramatic effect on the layman, and even persons who have the mathematical background to know better would reveal the ridiculousness of the conjecture. For example, if there were monkeys typing on typewriters covering every square foot of the Earths surface and each one typed at the random fantastic rate of ten characters a second for 30 billion years, there would not be the slightest reasonable chance that a single one would type out a single specific five word sentence of 31 letters, spaces, and punctuation. (The actually probability is less than one chance in a trillion). Yet Huxley was permitted to make such a preposterous statement that monkeys could type out the complete works of Shakespeare, and no evolutionary scientist or mathematician who knew better raised a single objection.

Time definitely is not the hero of the plot. In reality, time destroys the assumptions of evolutionary theory - even the 20 billion years assumed by the big bang. If a single five-word sentence could not be formed in more time than the earth has existed, it is even less conceivable that the data contained in the genes of a single cell could have formed by random processes, because the genes of the simplest single-celled organism contain more data that there are letters in all of the volumes of the worlds largest library (Luther Sunderland, Darwins Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, 4th Edition, Revised and expanded, El Cajon, Calif.: Master Book Publishers, 1988, pp. 61,62).

Hard To Believe

The difficulty of believing the evolutionary scenario is further described by scientist Henry Morris:

The marvel of life on earth only can be explained by creation. One of the strangest phenomena of our supposedly scientific age is the insistent faith held by many scientists that somewhere, somehow life has arisen from non-life by naturalistic evolutionary processes. Science is supposed to be based on facts and knowledge, not speculation and wishful thinking. The law of biogenesis, based on all the observed data and biology and chemistry, states that life comes only from life. The doctrine from abiogenesis, on the other hand, teaches that certain unknown conditions in the primitive atmosphere and ocean acted upon certain mysterious chemicals existing at that time to synthesize still more complex chemicals, whatever they were, constituted the original living systems from which all living organisms later evolved.

Thus primitive unknown life forms which no longer exist were derived from unknown chemicals by unknown processes which no longer operate, in an atmosphere of nd unknown composition in contact with the primitive oceanic soup of unknown structure! This remarkable construct is today taught as sober science in our public schools, in spite of the fact that there is not one single scientific observation to demonstrate that such things ever happened or even could happen (Henry Morris, The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1972, pp. 34,35).

Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, the inventor of the Steady State Theory of the origin of the universe, was an atheist most of his life. In his later years he changed his mind because of the impossibility of life developing by chance. He said the probability that life could have developed by chance is the same as, "a tornado sweeping through a junkyard would assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein" (Sir Fred Hoyle, "Hoyle on Evolution," Nature, Vol. 294, Nov. 12, 1981, p. 105).

Hoyle also wrote:

The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it . . . It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. 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 (Sir Fred Hoyle, "Hoyle on Evolution," p. 105).

Hoyles colleague Chandra Wickramasinghe concluded:

From my earliest training as a scientist, I was very strongly brainwashed to believe science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has been painfully shed. At the moment I cant find any rational argument to knock down the view that argues for conversion to God . . . Now we realize the only logical answer to life is creation (interview in the London Daily Express, August 14, 1981).

Life Brought To Earth?

Because of the great odds of life forming spontaneously there are some scientists who have suggested that life was somehow brought to earth from another planet. This is known as directed panspermia. Francis Crick, who shared the Nobel prize for the discovery of DNAs structure, is now convinced that life could not and did not evolve on earth. In his book, Life Itself, he argues for "directed panspermia." Crick realizes that his view only moves the question of origins back to another time and place but he feels he is compelled to make such a suggestion because of the odds of life developing by chance here on the earth. He wrote:

What is so frustrating to our present purpose is that it seems almost impossible to give any numerical value for the probability of what seems a rather unlikely sequence of events . . . 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 . . . But if it turns out that it was rather unlikely, then we are compelled to consider whether it might have arisen in other places in the Universe where possibly, for one reason or another, conditions were more favorable (Francis Crick, Life Itself, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981, pp. 87,88).

E.T.?

Leading evolutionist William D. Hamilton of Oxford University theorizes that mankind might be the "experiment" of some alien intelligence.

Theres one theory of the universe that I rather like . . . Suppose our planet is a "zoo for extraterrestrial beings"; they planted the seeds of evolution on earth hoping to create interesting intelligent creatures. "And they watched their experiments, interfering hardly at all. So that almost everything we do comes out according to the laws of nature. But every now and then they see something which doesnt look quite right." For example: "This zoo is going to kill itself off if they let you do this or that. So they insert a finger and just change some little thing. And maybe those are the miracles which the religious people like to so emphasize" (cited by Robert Wright, "Science, God and Man," Time, December 28, 1992, p. 44).

This theory reduces humans to being pets of some alien zookeeper. If the God of the Bible is left out of the picture, this type of speculation is the logical result.

Too Young And Too Small

Even if one accepts the universe is 13 billions years old, it is still too young and too small for life to have life developed by chance.

Since the universe is simply too young and too small to account for its appearance (even at 13 billion years and 30 billion light-years across), we are forced to asked, "From where did it come?" The logical answer is that it came from a supreme Intelligence! Not only is this logical, it is the simplest answer (Robert Gange, Origins and Destiny, Dallas, Word Publishing: 1986, p. 71).

Summary

The evolutionary idea of life spontaneously appearing is not supported by the facts. Even billions of years will not allow this to happen. This has led some non-Christian scientists to argue for life being brought to earth from some other planet. This shows the lack of a scientific basis that life came into existence by chance. The best answer is that it was created by an Intelligent Being who has lovingly designed this universe for His special creation - man.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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