Those who question evolution have an interesting “tri-lemma”: evolution advocates present three different origin of life theories. Each has its own set of unique problems.
Origin of life 1.0: Abiogenesis
Abiogenesis, as an origin of life theory, is almost as old as civilization itself. It did not begin with Gerald A. Kerkut or even with Stanley Miller and Harold Urey. It began with Aristotle, and arguably with Anaximander.
Abiogenesis, also known as spontaneous generation, says that life began from non-life. Aristotle even held that spontaneous generation took place in the world he knew.
Two scientists would prove him wrong in breathtaking fashion. First came Antonj van Leeuwenhoek. He invented the microscope, and that allowed him to study the smallest life forms, and the smallest details of larger life forms, close-up. He reasoned that nothing as complex as what he saw, could possibly form from simple substances like dew, dust or mud.
Next came Louis Pasteur. He showed (1859) that life comes from life, never from non-life. Today scientists call this principle the Law of Biogenesis.
Nevertheless, theories of abiogenesis persist. Thomas Huxley coined the term abiogenesis in 1870, barely more than ten years after Pasteur had shown that it could not occur.
But anyone setting out to question evolution will soon discover even more problems with the concept. Life is far more complex than even men like Leeuwenhoek and Pasteur suspected. Indeed, Charles Darwin admitted that, should anyone discover that a single cell was far too complex ever to self-assemble from simpler components, his entire theory would fall to the ground. Michael Behe (Darwin’s Black Box) would show precisely that more than a hundred years later.
Today, those who defend evolution often disavow the connection between evolution and abiogenesis. Frankly, that is a cop-out worthy of television producer Bruce Geller:
As always, should you or any member of your I[mpossible] M[issions] Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
But those of us who question evolution cannot rest secure, either. The reason: when one theory fails, evolution advocates try another. Any scientist would. In this case, evolution advocates have fallen back on two other theories.
Origin of life 2.0: Panspermia
Panspermia literally means “seeding everywhere.” Anaxagoras (5th century BC) first suggested that some process or processes unknown, seeded life all over the universe. Jöns Jacob Berzelius (1834), Hermann von Helmholtz (1879), and Svante Arrhenius (1903) suggested it in modern times. More recently, Brig Klyce has given panspermia a new name: cosmic ancestry. This is a variation on the “common descent” theme in evolutionary theory. It also at least acknowledges the question of where the life that “seeded” the earth, came from to begin with. (Life came from space, say the proponents. But where in space? And what seeded the seeders?)
The most glaring weakness in panspermia is: how did the seeds get to earth? Creation and evolution advocates have proposed that material can and has crossed from one planet to another. (The only disputes might be “when” and “in what direction.”) But how can living matter cross the gap between stars, or galaxies, and still live? A more important question would be: is the universe old enough for living matter to have escaped from one abode of lie and crossed the gulf between stars to seed another planet?
Investigators have found signs of organic matter, or its waste product(s), in comets. (Comet Hartley 2 is the most recent example.) But to cite comets as the origin of life on earth, one must decide the origin of comets. If comets, too, came from earth, the mystery of the origin of life is still open—although the seeding of other worlds from earth might be possible. (The reason: if the present comets escaped the earth’s gravity, other comets might have escaped the sun’s gravity, and mankind would not know about them, because no one saw them leave.) The problem would not be with interstellar transfer but with living through the trip, and then living through re-entry. An atmosphere thick enough to support life might burn it up before that life reached the ground or water. (Extremophiles, which actually thrive in hot, cold, or dry environments, might live anyway.) The other problem: under any reasonable estimate of the speed of any material so launched (see below), the material would not have had time yet even to reach Alpha Centauri, the nearest bright star.
Origin of life 3.0: Directed Panspermia
Directed panspermia deserves a separate look. Francis Crick and Leslie H. Orgel proposed it in 1973. According to their theory (which they explained in detail here), an advanced civilization loaded payloads of bacteria and blue-green algae onto a brace of guided missiles. They then fired those missiles in all directions. One such missile crashed on earth, and we are the by-product.
Crick and Orgel acknowledged two problems:
- Spontaneous generation could not occur. Crick and Orgel specifically cite Pasteur for this. Furthermore, Crick remembered that DNA contained far more information than any random self-assembly could account for.
- Mechanisms of interstellar transfer of life, like radiation pressure (the stellar winds) or organisms falling in a meteorite (they might burn up before they hit the ground or the water), looked unlikely.
So if life did not arise from non-life, nor come to earth from space in a totally “wild” way, then it came in a non-wild way. Simply put, someone sent it to earth. Crick and Orgel even discussed at length how to build an intergalactic seed missile.
But that begs many questions, and those who question evolution know most of them:
- Who seeded the seeders? That is, who built the brace of missiles that includes the one that crashed on the planet from which “our” missile came? For that matter, how many braces of missiles have crossed the intergalactic or intercluster voids before today? Bear in mind that even the evolutionists set an age limit on the universe: 13.7 billion years, the reciprocal of the Hubble Space-time Constant.
- Why would anyone seed the universe?
That second question should concern anyone who takes directed panspermia seriously, and especially, for instance, the Commander-in-chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command (CinC-NORAD). Because the motives for seeding life on earth (or anywhere else) are three and only three:
- You’re dying, and want life to go on after you cannot.
- You’re coming to visit someday, and want someone to greet you and trade with you when you get there.
- You’re coming to conquer the universe, and want new worlds to conquer and settle.
How often has anyone, even thinking that “aliens” seeded our world, even bothered to think about why they did it? Very few, other than CNAV itself. But at least some have proposed that we seed the galaxies.
Did the earth launch any living material into space?
The only incident in which any living tissue, seeds or spores might have launched themselves into interstellar space is the Global Flood. Walter T. Brown holds that the Flood began with the sudden release of a subcrustal ocean. He estimates that water might have shot into space as fast as 188 kilometers (117 miles) per second immediately after the first breakout.
188 kilometers is six ten-thousandths of the speed of light. Thus any water and mud launched at that speed, and formed into a hyperbolic comet, would still be flying toward Alpha Centauri today. The total trip time would be 7,180 years, even assuming that the material did not slow down (as it certainly would have). So we can safely assume that no such material has ever reached another world, because it hasn’t had long enough to travel.
Ways to question evolution
Creation Ministries’ Question Evolution campaign asks 15 separate questions that evolutionists can’t or won’t answer. First among these is “how did life begin?” One question that they do not always ask is: if life began somewhere else, then where did it begin, and how did it get here?
Life has always fascinated those who study it. The origin of life might seem simple to most who question evolution: God spoke, and His earth suddenly teemed with life. It is not so simple to an evolutionist, or at least to an “intellectually satisfied atheist” who prefers to believe that life came out of nothing.
We have no reason to suppose that life came to earth from outer space. The earth might have seeded other worlds, but only if the seeds of life survived the trip and the re-entry at journey’s end. And we shall probably never know this, or at least, not this side of heaven.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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