Critiquing 7 Theories on the Origin of Life

Here’s an article from Live Science presenting seven popular theories on the origin of life.

There’s actually no scientific evidence suggesting life could arise naturally. None. The idea that it could stems from a secular worldview adhering to naturalism. If one denies God (or the supernatural), then, naturally, life must have come about by some unknown natural process. There aren’t any other options. Either life arose naturally, or there was a supernatural origin.

So it’s unsurprising there are scientists who want to solve what appears (to them) to be a great mystery.

The article begins by expressing the belief that life on earth began more than 3 billion years ago. Well, that’s an unwarranted assumption, but I’ll accept that premise for the sake of argument. Then it acknowledges the dilemma: “Science remains undecided and conflicted as to the exact origin of life, also known as abiogenesis.”

Okay, where to begin? First, the article makes a common fallacy by personifying science. Science doesn’t make decisions, nor does it suffer from confliction. Science is a process used by scientists in an attempt to gain knowledge and understanding. To be more accurate, some secular scientists are undecided and conflicted over the origin of life, but science is not. Further, it’s important to know that, even if a majority of secular scientists decided on the exact origin of life, it still wouldn’t be settled science because science isn’t up for a vote. It would simply mean that a number of scientists were willing to accept and promote it. And other scientists would be free to question it.

Now here are the seven leading theories.

1: It started with an electric spark. Some scientists believe a lightning strike “might have” sparked first life from water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen in the atmosphere, forming amino acids. The famous Miller-Urey in 1952 popularized this idea, suggesting this is how the “building blocks of life” first assembled- even though the experiment never actually replicated the earth’s early atmosphere. Still, the article goes on to claim, “Over millions of years, larger and more complex molecules could form.”

That’s pure speculation. In reality, the experiment failed in many ways, yet has been used for decades to indoctrinate people into believing life could form spontaneously. But life is more than a concoction of amino acids. Any building blocks would have to be assembled in a meaningful way, and the lightning strike theory fails to account for that. Roadkill, for example, doesn’t come to life when struck by lightning even though it has all the right ingredients. And although the experiment produced five amino acids, it also produced brown goo, inorganic molecules, and chemicals toxic to amino acids.

Interestingly, evolutionists deny the origin of life has anything to do with evolution, yet, as evidenced by the author’s comment, they describe the process in evolutionary terms. So which is it?

2: Molecules of life met on clay: Here’s a real winner. Based on more speculation, some scientists believe life “may have” met on clay. Again, evolutionists deny that the origin of life has anything to do with evolution, yet they describe an evolutionary process where “clay crystals preserve their structure as they grow and stick together to form areas exposed to different environments and trap other molecules along the way and organise them into patterns much like our genes do now.” Wow!

The author explains, “The main role of DNA is to store information on how other molecules should be arranged.” True, but how does DNA know what its role is or what it should do? DNA doesn’t have a mind or awareness, so how did it develop such purpose and meaning? The author goes on to explain that DNA is a set of “instructions” on how amino acids should be arranged, but doesn’t explain who wrote those instructions. DNA just doesn’t form spontaneously, so these scientists speculate that “mineral crystals in clay could have arranged organic molecules into organized patterns. After a while, organic molecules took over this job and organized themselves.”

More speculation that clay and organic molecules could do any such thing. But even if clay could arrange organic molecules into organized patterns, how do those patterns become meaningful? No explanation. It’s nothing but a Just-So story, an evolutionary fable, an atheist myth.

Admittedly, the author acknowledges that the book in which this idea was proposed is controversial, so I’m not sure why this is a leading theory, except that no one else has a better idea. In fact, the author says it was “food for thought” 37 years ago! Nice.

3: Life began at deep-sea vents: Here’s a more popular one. Supposedly, hydrothermal vents on the sea floor released the ingredients of life (carbon, hydrogen), and as molecules became concentrated, minerals would have acted as a catalyst for critical reactions.

Again, more speculation. Nothing more. No one has ever observed life forming this way.

4: Life had a chilly start: In contrast to deep sea vents, another theory proposes the oceans “might have” been covered in ice 3 billion years ago, protecting organic compounds, helping them survive, and keeping them concentrated enough to allow life to arise.

Once again, more hopeful speculation. No one has ever observed life forming under these conditions. If it’s that simple, then, surely, we should be able to observe such a phenomenon. But no, what we get is a bunch of “might haves” based upon an evolutionary worldview.

5: The answer lies in understanding DNA formation: This theory acknowledges one of the barriers to the origin of life. The author explains, “Nowadays DNA needs proteins in order to form, and proteins require DNA to form, so how could these have formed without each other?” The answer? You guessed it- speculation! Scientists speculate that maybe RNA- a complex macromolecule- existed first, and so RNA created the first DNA and proteins. But there’s another problem, namely that DNA is needed to code RNA. So the dilemma is amplified.

Did you notice the clever trick used by the author? He said, “Nowadays”, as if, at one time, DNA didn’t require proteins to form. The thing is, we know of no other time when DNA worked any differently than it does today. But this is a way for the author to influence the reader to accept an evolutionary scenario.

6: Life had simple beginnings: This theory suggests that small molecules just happened to react within some kind of hypothetical capsule and eventually evolved to become more complex. But again, more speculation. And if the origin of life has nothing to do with evolution, then how can these molecules evolve to become more complex over time?

7: Life was brought here from elsewhere in space: I knew this one would make the list. Supposedly, comets or meteorites seeded earth with life from other planets. But, as the author admits, this theory avoids the origin of life completely by assuming it already existed. Nice.

These origin of life theories are intended to convince others that life could originate naturally, without a creator. They want to convince us that molecules, under special conditions, could spontaneously arrange themselves into a complex, orderly unit and evolve into a living organism capable of replication, repair, metabolism, survival, stimulation, etc. Sadly, some people may actually find them convincing, but, if examined closely, they fall far short. None of these seven theories come close to addressing the sheer improbability of random processes producing proteins, DNA and RNA to carry out these complex functions. It’s just assumed that it could happen because that’s what evolution demands. Too few people question this philosophy.

But what if life didn’t form spontaneously? What if it was intentionally designed by a creator? It’s a shame the author didn’t include the most probable theory for the origin of life- namely that God created life, just as the Bible says. This explains why life is so complex. It solves all the paradoxes and dilemmas. It explains how information was programmed into our DNA. It explains why the molecules in our cells appear to be arranged, assembled and intentionally designed by a team in a factory. It doesn’t require speculation. All it really takes is logic and a willingness to acknowledge that our origin is beyond the scope of science. The Bible is all we need to understand who we are and where we came from. Simple.

Therefore, while some scientists may not know how life began, there are many others who do. To God be the glory!


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