Origin of Life Studies – Life is no Accident

By : John Feakes

Miracles and the Law of Biogenesis

The evolution story asserts that life began without intelligent intervention. Despite the ardent claims of evolutionists, there is absolutely no consensus among scientists on how, when, where, and why natural forces alone could have created something as incredibly intricate as a living organism.

“At this time, however, no one can say whether any theory is right or wrong. What can be said is that somehow, through some process, the chemicals that make up living things did group themselves together and formed the first cells.”

Cells: Building Blocks of Life 3rd ed. (Prentice-Hall: 1997), pp. 14,15

Of interest here is the reason many evolutionists reject the scriptural account, namely, that it evokes the miraculous. This rejection of creation is quite hypocritical, for even the evolutionist must evoke the miraculous to explain the origin of life.

Webster’s has defined a miracle as,

“1. An event of effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending out knowledge of these laws; an extraordinary, anomalous, or abnormal event brought about by superhuman agency, 2. A wonder or wonderful thing; a marvel.”

The advent of living things, no matter what the means, can only be described as miraculous. From “Biology”, 1985, p. 1026:

“…the cell theory holds that all cell arise from previously existing cells. Also known as the principle of biogenesis, this principle explains that all organisms arise from living parents. This concept is firmly established in biology today. Yet according to evolutionary theory, life did ultimately originate from non-living molecules, that is, by abiogenesis.”

Therefore, the evolutionist can no longer reject biblical creation for the sole reason that it evokes the miraculous. As for the “wonderous” nature of miracles, consider the words of David Harry Grinspoon, a man of science who rejects the biblical account of creation:

“Something magical and creative beyond belief happened here as a result of carbon and water. Once it started it never stopped, and it completely remade our world. Carbon in water crawls, and flies, respirates and synthesizes, colonizes, adapts seeks, hides, gives birth, invents, worries, wonders, and sings. If that’s not magic, then what is?” “Venus Revealed”, 1997, p. 304

The typical explanation for evolution’s proposed violation of the biogenetic principle:

“This apparent paradox is explained by the assertion that conditions on earth were far different billions of years ago when life first began to evolve. Then, when things came into being, they changed the conditions of their environment so that abiogenesis was no longer probable, at least on most parts of the earth’s surface.”

There are three points to be made here regarding this explanation.

First, evolutionists must violate their beloved uniformatarian principle. This is noteworthy because it was uniformatarianism, a notion made popular by Hutton and Lyle, that was said to have disproved the biblical account of creation. The Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia states concerning the work of geologist Charles Lyle:

“His major contribution was proving that all features of the Earth’s surface were produced by natural forces operating for long times. His strong arguments that the Earth’s crust was the product of thousands of millions of years of activity did away with the need for unscientific explanations based on the Biblical record.”

Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.

If we must abandon strict uniformatarianism in order to believe that life evolved without God, then we must also set aside the very thing that caused people to doubt the biblical record in the first place!

Second, it must be acknowledged that this explanation is not based on direct scientific observation, but on purely philosophical grounds. This contradicts the evolutionist’s claimed strict adherence to the scientific process in determining the truth of our origins.

Thirdly, the evolutionist can no longer scoff at the biblical claim that humans once lived to vast ages (930 years old for Adam), or that giants lived on the earth at one time (Genesis 6:4). The explanation for both, typically, has been that atmospheric conditions in the distant past created a far more hospitable environment for life to thrive and flourish. It is theorized by the creationist that the flood brought about major environmental changes, which today suppress organisms’ potential for growth and longevity. This belief is evidenced by the enormous fossil life discovered, and the Bible’s account of decreased longevity in people following the flood.

The point to be raised here is that evolutionists who embrace the notion that life evolved without intelligent intervention as a result of a severely altered environment, the evidence of which is sadly lacking, have forfeited their right to scoff at the biblical account of giants and of great longevity. Both are faith-based systems.

History and discoveries

Louis Pasteur demonstrated in a public experiment at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1864 that inanimate matter could not produce living systems. Pasture proclaimed, (as quoted in “The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p. 181):

“Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation ever recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment. …No, today there is no circumstance known which one could affirm that microscopical beings have come into the world without germs, without parents resembling themselves.”

In 1924, a detailed hypothesis for the origin of life was put forward by Russian Biochemist, A.I. Oparin. Recognizing the impossibility of spontaneous generation today, Oparin concluded that earth’s atmosphere was radically different in the distant past – a notion still preached in textbooks today.

Oparin’s hypothesis could not be expected to disprove, experimentally, Pasteur’s earlier work, because according to Oparin, the genesis of life occurred gradually over millions of years. Again, this assertion raises two undeniable points.

1) It means the abandonment of strict uniformatarianism.

2) It means that one is forced to believe this is how life evolved as an article of faith. We are free to do this if we want, but it means forfeiting the right to reject creation solely on the grounds that it’s “unscientific” or “unproved.”

As a chemist, Oparin’s speculation on the composition of earth’s atmosphere in the distant past was based on what chemicals would react in the way he had hoped, rather than on any direct geological evidence.

“Although Oparin had no geological basis for proposing his atmosphere, he had every good reason based on physical chemistry…” (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.184)

In 1952, Stanley Miller, in response to Harold Urey’s challenge to test Oparin’s hypothesis, filled some glassware with the proposed ancient atmosphere: ammonia, methane, hydrogen and water vapor. Miller sparked the mixture to simulate lightening for several days. The result was a detectable quantity of amino acids (2%).

To date, many of the chemical building blocks for life have been produced in spark discharge experiments. Of the 20 amino acids found in living things, for example, only lysine remains to be produced in spark discharge experiments. All five nucleic acid bases found in DNA and RNA and various fatty acids found in cell membranes have also been produced as well.

Still lacking are plausible explanations for the pre-biotic synthesis of components ribose and deoxyribose – critical building blocks of RNA and DNA.

“In a stunning presentation at the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) meeting in Berkeley in 1986, Robert Shapiro, a Harvard-educated DNA chemist from New York University, showed that the widespread but second and third-hand claims regarding synthesis of ribose and deoxyribose sugar in Miller-type experiments were traceable to one ambiguous paper. He subsequently demonstrated that making ribose sugar under prebiotic conditions was essentially impossible.” – (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.183)

Note that availability means very little when trying to answer the question of life’s origin. Even if scientists could come up with a way to synthesize all the necessary chemical building blocks for life under somewhat plausible conditions (which they are nowhere close to doing), it does not follow that these will actually join together to form anything resembling a living system.

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