Evolution has become the go-to response for many who hold to an atheistic worldview when asked to account for the appearance of life on earth. Despite this common refrain, evolution has never been an explanation for the beginning of life. The theory of evolution as presented in Darwin’s Origin of the Species, does not offer an explanation for the appearance of life. Darwin's theory assumes the existence of life and then offers an explanation of how these first, primitive organisms evolved to bring about the remarkable diversity we see today.
Some of the best minds in the world have worked tirelessly trying to formulate laboratory conditions that would allow inanimate, non-living matter to come together to create life. They have never been able to do so. Amazingly, if they were able to construct some sort of living organism, all it would prove is that with the proper environmental conditions, a mind could, through the use of intelligence, design life. The possibility of the environmental conditions coming together and forming life by chance is highly improbable for numerous reasons. Supporters of the idea of spontaneous generation of life (abiogenesis) have presented various ideas including the so-called “primordial soup,” (a pond, puddle, ocean, lake, etc.) where the various building blocks necessary for the development of life came together and began to mutate, and somehow randomly produced a self-replicating entity. Early evolutionary biologists greatly underestimated the complexity of even the simplest life forms. A simple protozoan is often thought to be one of the earliest, simplest organisms. Even these “simple” organisms are now known to be overwhelmingly complex.
One of the many scientists who worked in the laboratory to build foundational components for life was Stanley Miller. He was able, through input of an electrical charge in combination with water vapor, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen gasses to form amino acids in a test tube. This has been hailed by many as proof that under the right circumstances, life could be formed by chance in earth's early environment. As I mentioned before, this merely proves that intelligence combined with the right ingredients in the right place, in the right combination, could produce a starting point for life as amino acids are foundational for the formation of proteins. Having all the raw materials necessary to build life isn't the issue. Synthesizing these ingredients in the right combinations, amounts, and in an environment that supports their stability, is what makes abiogenesis extraordinarily improbable given the current atheistic beliefs about the age of the universe, the stability of compounds, and about just how many “ingredients” are necessary for the simplest life to develop.
The simplest life form requires millions of parts at the atomic level.1 In a 1973 book entitled, Evolution: Possible or Impossible, James Coppedge laid out the following time and probability estimates. He allowed for the commonly held view that the earth is 4.6 billion years old, AND that all the components necessary for life were available in the primordial sea, AND that bonding processes were sped up by a trillion times, AND that every atom on earth was used. With those parameters in place the estimated chance of one protein forming would be approximately 1 in 10,000. A protein is not life. It is a building block for life. An estimated 239 proteins are necessary for life to exist. Coppedge estimated the probability of those 239 proteins forming with those assumed properties present on earth to be 1 in 10119,879. The time required to accomplish this would be 10119,831years. This is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000........ longer than the earth has existed. (The number would be 10 with over 100,000 zeroes after it longer than the earth has existed.) This is outside the range of probability. Keep in mind that a fully functioning first organism needs to form before any natural selection/evolution can take place.2
For me, it doesn't appear that there is any good reason to believe that life just popped into existence. Rather, I believe that many atheistic scientists have a preconceived bias that it had to happen through naturalistic causes and therefore a supernatural cause is ruled out a priori. That seems to be a more closed-minded approach to where the evidence leads than that of the theist.
In the upcoming post, I will begin to move away from these high-science discussions to more of my philosophical reasons that I believe God exists. Next we will discuss the possibility of objective morality.
2Coppedge, James, F. 1973. Evolution: Possible or impossible? Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.