Evolution and the Origin of Life

Recently I was watching a video on youtube called “Biology for Creationists” by a guy who goes by the name of “TheBarkingAtheist” in which he rants about how ridiculous it is that 13% of biology teachers in America do not believe in Evolution.  The video got me thinking about Evolution, and though his video doesn’t actually address this topic, it got me thinking about the Origin of Life.  I Posted the following comment on his video:

@TheBarkingAtheist What I don’t get is, if the theory of evolution is true, where did the original life come from? If all life evolved from former species, all those species would eventually go back to a singular species or organism at some point right? How do we explain the origin of the original form of life out of nothing? It had to come from somewhere, & all I see is a Big Bang, & then somehow life miraculously forms on the Planet Earth & nowhere else we can see. Please help me understand.”

What I am trying to get at is, the problem with ranting so much about how stupid it is to believe in ID (Intelligent Design) is that the theory you claim replaces a Creator, that is Evolution by Natural Selection, doesn’t actually explain the genesis of life on this planet, it only explains how that life evolved into all the other forms of life.  It does not however explain the origin of life in the first place, and that seems to be a big gaping hole in the theories that propose to do away with a creator.

The study of how life could come from non-living substance is known as Abiogenesis. There are many who would claim that Abiogenesis is impossible (this is what seems to me to be the case, at least as I understand from my college Biology course), although there are still plenty of people, (scientists and non) who believe that Abiogenesis has not been proven to be impossible.  Unfortunately for them, years of experimentation later and science still has yet to provide any reason for hope in this theory of the origin of life.  Go to Dictionary.com, and look up Abiogenesis, and you will see an entry as follows:

a·bi·o·gen·e·sis   [ey-bahy-oh-jen-uh-sis, ab-ee-oh-]
noun Biology .

the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.
(Italics mine)
Now, I realized that simply pointing to a dictionary article that says that it is discredited doesn’t prove that it actually has been discredited, but the point is, after many years of experimenting, Science still has not shown how non-living substance can create living substance, and there has been a strong enough attempt to do so (without success) that even dictionary.com recognizes the failure to provide hope in such a theory.So what do Atheists say when asked where life came from, if not from a creator or intelligent designer?
Well, if you check out Harvard University’s “Origins of Life in the Universe Initiative” website, and go to their “About” page.( http://origins.harvard.edu/About.html) you will find the following quote: “Today, the question of the origins of life in the universe remains one of humankind’s most compelling mysteries.”
What I find interesting is that the only gentleman (and I say that in the sense that he is a man and I am attempting to refer to him politely) to reply to my previously mentioned post, a youtube user by the name of @Drgamedood, said that I was “F***ing stupid” in reply to an exchange we had, where I stated that Evolution doesn’t explain away a creator unless it can provide an origin for life that is natural and non-living.
What do you think?  Does Abiogenesis, (that is, life coming from non-life without input or guidance from intelligent agent) seem possible or logical to you?  What could possibly be an explanation for the existence of life outside of a creator?
Editorial note:  After hearing comments on this article from a woman who has a Masters degree in Biology, I want to note that she pointed out how this article seems to be attacking science, and specifically Abiogenesis.  She said that I was taking a scientific concept (abiogenesis) and twisting what it  says, making it say something it never said.  This is not my intention at all.  what I am trying to point out with this article is that there are some atheists who do that, saying that evolution shows how we don’t need a creator.  I am trying to show that Abiogenesis, the study that life can come from non-life, does nothing to explain away a creator.  Here is part of her comment that shows some of what science has shown us in the field of abiogenesis.  Her comment starts by talking about the theory of biogenesis.”Biogenisis [sic], the theory that life cannot spring from non-life is not meant to mean that origional [sic] life could not have been developed from non-organic building blocks. The term is related to when Louis Pasture took some liquid and proved that hey, the life that springs forth in water that’s laying around comes from life that has fallen into that water not from the pure, lifeless water (or dirt) that’s just laying around. Now this point really has nothing to do with how science theorises[sic] the building blocks of life were put together. The biggest flaw here is that NOTHING was happening in Pastures experiment beakers and when science comes to explaining how the building blocks for life were likey [sic] put together, the process is actually VERY, VERY active and has multiple steps. They don’t claim anywhere that life just suddenly sprang forth from nothingness. There is a huge process involved. And quite a bit of it HAS been proven to be possible. In other words, science hasn’t just said these are the steps we think happen. They’ve gone a step beyond and proved that those steps COULD happen. You CAN take nonorganic [sic] elements, mix them up apply energy and create chemically organic matterial [sic]. It’s been done over and over. The missing pieces come in after that organic matterial [sic] has been formed. They’ve created amino acid chains, that form into “cells” but, these cells cannot be defined as “life.” Science cannot explain how these organic cells went from being there to being LIFE. Science has also been unable to synthesis DNA from scratch. They can get all the right pieces they just can’t get them to interact and form actual RNA or DNA strands. (They just can’t get it to stick together correcty. [sic]) So the piece of the puzzle that is missing seems to be the piece that takes these organic cells, stirs them up and turns them into life as we know it.”I think that if science can someday show us that it is possible for life to come from non-life, that is pretty awesome and rather interesting, but it does nothing to explain away a creator, because even in the experiments that purport to show that abiogenesis is possible, it does not do so without the scientist combining and manipulating the parts or things in the experiment in order for them to create these amino acid chains.  There is still a scientist (who we all know to be an intelligent agent) who is manipulating this inorganic material in an attempt to create organic life.  What Pastures showed is that inorganic material cannot become organic material, let alone life, wtihout an intelligent agent behind the process.

I want to clarify that I am not speaking against science. I think science is a great thing, and I am not scared by the theory of evolution or any other scientific theories or fields of study. What I am actually speaking against in this article is people who are atheists, and who take science as their end all be all for knowledge. There are some Atheists who say that Evolution shows that we do not require a creator, and what I am arguing is that for evolution to take the place of (and not require) a creator, it must explain how life originated from non-living materials, without the help of an intelligent agent (and this doesn’t even touch on how that material came to exist in the first place, since cosmology has shown that the universe is not eternal).The problem with abiogenesis, as This woman pointed out, is not that it is impossible for life to come from non-life, but rather that it cannot do so without an intelligent agent behind it! As we see in her comment, Pastures showed that life does not spring from non-life. What she shows us about the study of abiogenesis is that there still needs to be an intelligence behind it, and therefore doesn’t assist the atheist in their assertion that there is no God.
I consider myself an apologist, and that is the angle I am coming at this issue from, and as such, my point is not to discredit science, but rather I am trying to discredit the claim that there is no God. I find that science is very helpful in assisting the apologist in this goal. If what I believe as a Christian is true, then I have nothing to fear from science. All I have to worry about is how my beliefs line up with the truth. If my beliefs contradict truth, whether that is in my theology, my philosophy, or my science, then that belief that does not line up with the truth is what I must change. I do not find reasons to put much stock in macro-evolution, but if someday that is shown to be conclusive, then I will have to alter my beliefs. again, I am not scared that science will shake up my beliefs, because I am not seeking to protect my beliefs.  I am seeking knowledge and wisdom.  I am seeking the truth, and if what I currently believe does not match up with Truth, then I want to change my beliefs.  I hope this clears things up.
In search of Truth,
Derek
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One response to “Evolution and the Origin of Life”

  1. Ronald Klaus says :

    The URL from Harvard University including a quote about the state of origin of life research doesn’t lead anywhere. I couldn’t find that quote on the Harvard page. Maybe you can check that out.

    Second, whatever you and I think about organic evolution, the lack of a theory about the origin of life is not an argument against evolution. Most evolutionists from Richard Dawkins on down admit that there isn’t a good origins theory. But evolutionists don’t claim there is. They talk about how life evolved once it got going. If you want to argue against that, I would suggest that you focus on that rather than on something that scientists themselves admit is missing.

    Best wishes.

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