EVOLUTION: FACT OR PHILOSOPHY?

by Jan Young


CHAPTER 3: THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

THE CASE FOR EVOLUTION

How did life begin? This is a question that people have pondered throughout history. Human beings, unlike animals, have a desire to know where they came from. Knowing where we came from, if that is possible, gives us a sense of our purpose on this earth.

In order for life to begin, there must be an earth. Let us forget, for the moment, the unsolved questions of the last chapter. Whether it happened through naturalistic, evolutionary processes, or whether it happened some other way, the universe and the earth somehow came into existence.

If evolution is to take place on this earth, life must begin. Charles Darwin, the "father" of evolution, claimed that all forms of life evolved from the first single-celled organism. If the theory of evolution is true, it must be able to account for the origin of that first single-celled organism. Since evolution is a naturalistic process, this organism must come into existence through natural processes that are still operating in the world today.

FROM CHEMICALS TO LIFE

In the mid-1800s, Darwin proposed the theory that all life is the product of evolution. But how did life begin as the single-celled creature he proposed? Darwin suggested that life arose in a "warm little pond" of chemicals present in the early earth.

Scientists envisioned a primitive planet in which certain basic chemicals abounded. These chemicals must have been hydrogen, methane, ammonia and water vapor--the "building blocks" of life. They filled the earth's atmosphere. They swirled around in the ocean, in what is often referred to as the "prebiotic soup." (pre = before; bio = life)

How might life arise from a chemical soup? What could energize these chemicals into a living cell?

Several forms of energy were available--solar energy, lightning, volcanic eruptions, and impacts of comets and meteors. Energy could have combined with the chemicals in the primordial soup to form the molecular building blocks of life. Simple molecules might have then combined to form larger molecules. According to the theory of evolution, it was a very natural, normal process.

SPONTANEOUS GENERATION

The theory that life formed from non-living substance without any help is called spontaneous generation. That means life began, or was generated, all by itself, or spontaneously. For many years, people believed that non-life was able to produce life. The sudden appearance of maggots on rotting meat was explained in this way, until eventually, scientific experiments proved that the maggots actually hatched from fly eggs.

Over the years, many experiments have been carried out to try to prove or disprove spontaneous generation. No one has ever been able to prove that it can happen. Every experiment to date has shown that life cannot come from non-life. How can the theory of evolution account for the naturalistic origin of life?

According to the theory of evolution, life did come from non-life. Scientists freely admit this. Many of them will first explain that spontaneous generation has never been proven. Then they explain that, even though they still haven't discovered how it actually happened, it did happen. We know it did because we see life all around us. Because all life is the product of evolutionary, naturalistic forces, it had to have happened naturalistically. There is no other possibility.

Even though experiments have so far failed to produce life from non-life, many scientists are so sure it happened that they speak of this occurrence as fact. They are certain that there will be experimental proof, eventually. They believe there must be a law or principle at work here--the law of self-organization, or self-creation--that has just not yet been discovered:

"...a still unknown but increasingly suspected physical law..," "...a basic physical law lies waiting to be discovered, a law defining the circumstances under which systems infused with energy become more complexly structured." (Time, Dec. 22, 1992)

Many people are working to discover that all-important law. Meanwhile, until it is discovered, the certainty that evolution happened is evidence enough.

Spontaneous generation is now taught in school books. For example, one high school biology text (Biology, Miller and Levine) describes the experiments by Spallanzani, Redi, and Pasteur that disproved spontaneous generation. It states, "Pasteur, like Redi and Spallanzani before him, had shown that life comes only from life." The question is asked, "If life can come only from life, how did life on Earth first arise?"

Then follows an explanation of possible conditions on the early earth, including the chemical make-up of the atmosphere. An experiment by Stanley Miller in 1953 indicated that some of the building blocks of life could have formed in these conditions. Other experiments show that these basic structures may have linked up, forming collections of molecules. This is still not "life," but might be considered "proto-life." (proto = first, beginning) The book then goes on to explain that they don't understand how these actually formed into life, but that they did.

These ideas can be found in many books and articles. Scientist and author Robert Jastrow says that a "scientific explanation of the origin of life" includes spontaneous generation. He cites the Miller experiment as demonstrating how the "molecular building blocks of life could have been created." He believes that "the notion that life evolved out of non-living chemicals" has real possibilities.

Regarding an experiment done in 1828 by Friedrich Wohler, physicist David Fisher says,

"This experiment showed that the basic processes on the road to life could be formed by natural processes if the conditions are right."

Physicist Eric Lerner says,

"...chemical evolution can build increasingly complex molecules and systems, systems that gradually acquire more accuracy in reproducing themselves, and thus become living organisms."

Isaac Asimov discusses this subject in his book, How Did We Find Out About the Beginning of Life? He cites the experiments that disproved spontaneous generation. But he claims that it was not actually disproved or impossible. Perhaps life would have formed if the experiments could have gone on longer, like a billion years. He explains how small molecules might form, and might be able to form larger molecules, and life might begin. He says,

"All the experiments that were carried on since Miller's first one seemed to show that the changes that took place were always in the direction of life. The chemicals that were formed always resembled those in living things. It seemed that the appearance of life on Earth was no miracle at all."

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Not all scientists think the formation of life was that simple. The evidence is beginning to show that even the simplest forms of life are very complex. Some believe it is quite unlikely that life could form without some sort of orderly mechanism to direct the process. Living cells have a built-in orderly mechanism--the extremely complex RNA and DNA molecules, which we will discuss later in this chapter--but where did this order come from?

One possible solution to this problem is a theory called directed panspermia. (pan = all, every; sperm = seed, sprout) According to this theory, maybe life did not arise spontaneously here on earth. It could have originated on some distant planet, a planet which we have not yet discovered.

On such a planet, it might have been easier for life to begin. Life may have developed there into an advanced civilization. This civilization might have sent a primitive form of life, such as a bacteria, to our earth. Here on earth, it would flourish and begin to reproduce.

There is no direct evidence for this theory. So far, we know of no planets outside our solar system. We know of no such extra-terrestrial civilization. We know of no way life could get from such a planet to earth.

There is only indirect evidence to support this idea. The fossil record shows the sudden appearance of simple cellular organisms, with no evidence of a chain of simpler forms coming before them. It shows early life forms that are distinct enough to be unrelated, yet at the same time similar enough that they must be distantly related.

THE LATEST THEORIES

The cradle of life is no longer thought to be the calm, gentle scene of the prebiotic soup, with elements gradually blended by gravity. Scientists now think it was a violent place, bombarded with comets, meteorites, and asteroids. Meteorites contain some of the same material that cell membranes are made of. Perhaps the components of primitive cells hitch-hiked to earth on intruders such as meteorites, comets, asteroids, or interplanetary dust particles.

How did the ingredients necessary for life get together? What chemistry could have sparked some sort of reaction? There are several new candidates: 1) The reaction caused by the explosive impact of an iron asteroid. 2) Ocean bubbles as miniature chemical reactors. 3) Pyrite, or fool's gold, attracting and reacting with molecules. 4) Clay crystals as a pattern for the first organization of molecules. 5) Hydro-thermal vents on the ocean floor.

What does the most recent research show about the beginning of life on earth? Fossil imprints of 11 different kinds of microorganisms (micro = tiny; organisms = life forms) have been discovered in Australia, in rocks that are 3.5 billion years old. In Greenland, 3.8 billion-year-old rocks indicate the possibility of even older life. Considering that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, life seems to have begun fairly early in earth's history.

These ancient microfossils may not be the earliest form of life on earth. From a biologist's point of view, they were already an advanced life form, and they seemed to be flourishing in various places on the earth. Many scientists now believe that once life formed, it developed rapidly. Darwin's idea of slow, gradual change doesn't seem to fit the fossil evidence.

MAN-MADE LIFE

If the conditions favoring life happened so soon in earth's history, and if life developed so quickly, it must have been a fairly simple process. The chance formation of life was apparently easy to accomplish by natural processes. Surely it would be possible in a controlled laboratory situation. Many experiments are being done to try to produce life.

Related studies are being done in a much newer field, known as "artificial life." Origin-of-life experiments take place in laboratories. However, artificial life experiments take place on a computer. The "life forms" that are being studied are artificial because they are merely computer simulations of life.

The advantage of computer simulations is that long, tedious, complex experiments can be done at great speeds. Powerful computers and specially-designed programs can mimic the natural processes that are supposed to cause life to evolve. Electronic versions of cells, plants and animals are programmed with certain rules--their laws of "nature." Then they interact on the computer screen, "living" only perhaps a millionth of a second. High-speed computers can simulate millions of years of "evolution" in just a couple of hours, almost like a hi-tech video game.

Artificial life experiments have major disadvantages, though. Do these computer simulations really apply to life? Not unless they can also be confirmed by actual lab work.

"But artificial life's great advantage is also its biggest drawback: it all happens inside a computer. Most scientists don't consider anything discovered until it's observed in the real world, within reach of experimenters' microscopes, scales, and rulers." (Discover, August 1992)

Many scientists don't believe that all the actual conditions affecting life can be programmed into a computer. And without some sort of original life form, there is no life to simulate. So far, artificial life experiments have shed no light on how to come up with that first living cell.

PROBLEMS WITH EVOLUTION

At this point, the actual proof of spontaneous generation is pretty slim. But the scientific method requires proof. If it happened according to known laws of nature, as the theory of evolution requires, it shouldn't be difficult to prove.

1. The Definition of Life

How do we know if something is actually alive? How is life defined by scientists?

A dictionary definition is, that which separates animate objects from inanimate, and is characterized by metabolism, growth, reproduction, and responsiveness. School textbooks generally give a similar 4-or-5-point criteria for life. For example, one adds to the above list, that living things are made of one or more cells, and that all cells come from pre-existing cells. If we know the characteristics of life, and if we know that spontaneous generation has been disproved, how can scientists claim that evolution began when life formed from non-life?

At the present, the majority of scientists do believe in evolution. Evolution requires that life came from non-life. Hard scientific evidence says that life only comes from life. As we have already discussed, scientists who believe in evolution are willing to interpret the data to fit their belief. Since evolution is true, they believe, then life had to come from non-life regardless of what the evidence shows.

The explanation? There is evidence; it just hasn't been found yet. And how do they know there is evidence? They believe in this invisible evidence, because they believe that evolution happened. They find this invisible evidence more convincing than the hard evidence that is visible. So, in effect, the naturalistic origin of life is proved by the fact of evolution.

In the past several decades, there has been a gradual blurring and redefining of the term "life." This has muddied the waters of scientific fact. If the distinction between living things and non-living things is unclear, then who is to say where the exact line can be drawn? If an exact line can't be drawn, then it becomes easier to speak of non-living things gradually and naturally turning into living things.

"What, exactly, is life...?" asks Time magazine (Oct. 11, 1993). The article goes on to explain that some scientists think the first living thing "arose in the shadowy twilight zone where the distinction between living and nonliving blurs and finally disappears."

Discover magazine, too, says that "the threshold between living and nonliving isn't clearly defined..." (August 1992). This may or may not actually be true. But the more often people hear something, the more they tend to accept it, regardless of how true it is.

The standard authority in many homes, Encyclopaedia Britannica, has a major Macropaedia article entitled "Life." It begins by stating that the most important principle in defining life is that it is characterized by evolution. Many times in the article, life is defined as the process of evolution. (This concept is found in numerous books.)

The article discusses how hard it is to distinguish between living and non-living things. For example, it says, if you define a living thing as one that eats, breathes, moves, grows, reproduces, excretes, and responds to stimuli, then you could say that, in a sense, a car is alive.

Now, everyone knows that a car can only do those things with outside help. But a living thing does all those things on its own. Such an example causes the reader to wonder how seriously such an article should be taken. The same example can be found in other books on evolution.

This type of analogy shows one way that scientists are blurring the definition of life. If a car, with outside help, can be considered, "in a way," to do those things, then perhaps the concept can be applied to other non-living things.

Dr. Michael Denton, author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, is a molecular biologist who is not convinced that evolution is true. According to his book, recent advances in the field of molecular biology have made it clear that the gap between life and non-life is well-documented and is much wider than was previously thought. He says,

"We now know, as a result of discoveries made over the past thirty years, that not only is there a distinct break between the animate [living] and inanimate [non-living] worlds but that it is one of the most dramatic in all nature, absolutely unbridged by any series of transitional forms..."

"For those who hoped that molecular biology might bridge the gulf between chemistry [non-life] and biochemistry [life], the revelation was profoundly disappointing."

"On the whole, the new biochemical picture has not had the effect that evolutionary theorists might have hoped. It has not blurred the distinction between living and non-living objects."

2. Experimental Proof

Many experiments have been done in the origin-of-life field. One of the most famous and oft-quoted is the experiment done in 1953 by University of Chicago graduate student Stanley Miller. (It is also called the Miller-Urey experiment, since it took place in the laboratory of Harold Urey.)

Scientists believed that certain gases were present in the early earth. These gases were combined in a glass jar. An electrical spark was passed through the mixture. This spark supplied the energy that might have been provided by lightning in the early earth.

The result of this experiment was the formation of some amino acids. Amino acids are not living cells, but are used in building proteins. Proteins are not living cells either; they are used in building cells.

Did this experiment prove spontaneous generation? No, but many scientists believe that it almost proved it. Even though life did not form, they believe it proves that life could have formed that way. Many science books, including school textbooks, refer to this experiment when explaining how life originally started from non-living chemicals on the early earth.

In describing this experiment, and similar ones, scientists use such language as "on the road to life," "in the direction of life," "on the way to life," "the building blocks of life."

However, scientists now admit that this experiment was seriously flawed. More recent studies indicate that the earth's chemical makeup was different than what was thought to be true at the time of Miller's work. Chemists showed that chemical reactions in the prebiotic soup, if it even existed, could not have led to the formation of life. If there was no prebiotic soup, and if the chemicals in Miller's experiment were not the chemicals of the early earth, then the importance of this experiment is doubtful.

The Miller experiment proved nothing about the origin of life on earth. Have more recent experiments produced life from non-life? No, but one could easily get the impression they have. This description was published in Time (Oct. 11, 1993), regarding an experiment at Scripps Research Institute:

"The molecule was not alive, at least not in any conventional sense. Yet its behavior was astonishingly lifelike...Never before have the creations of laboratories come so close to crossing the threshold that separates living from nonliving, the quick from the dead...”

A close reading of accounts of such experiments reveals that they often begin with already-living material. After purposeful changes are made, the living matter "evolves" the ability to function in a different manner than at first. No new life forms have been created. Human-directed changes in existing life forms are being called evolution--"almost," "in a way." However, evolution is defined as naturalistic--taking place by the laws and forces of nature only, without the help of outside intelligence.

Many experiments are currently underway to find that first elusive step from non-life to life. Spontaneous generation has yet to be scientifically proven. If it ever does result from a human-directed experiment, then the basic principle of evolution will have been proven false--evolution by natural processes, with no help from outside intelligence.

3. Life from Non-life

School textbooks say that spontaneous generation has been proven false. They also say, yes, life came from non-life.

The typical science book describes the experiments disproving spontaneous generation, as well as the famous Miller experiment. However, if the reader looks carefully at the Miller experiment, he will see that it did not create life. Many books that cite the Miller experiment even go on to say that current research has shown that the conditions of the experiment did not reflect the conditions on the early earth. The skeptical reader may ask, what is the purpose in citing an outdated, irrelevant experiment?

Likewise, he may question the two claims: spontaneous generation is disproved, and life did come from non-life. Aren't these contradictory? he may ask. How can both be true?

They can't.

There is no way to get around the fact that spontaneous generation has not been proven. There is no way around the Cell Theory, which says: 1) all living things are composed of cells, 2) all cells come from pre-existing cells, and 3) cells never are formed by non-living things. Redefining the first life as something more primitive than a cell contradicts the Cell Theory. Spontaneous generation contradicts the Cell Theory.

4. The Chicken or the Egg?

Let's assume, for a moment, that life could begin spontaneously. Assume that a molecule somehow got the ability to design, organize and energize itself. This still doesn't solve the problem of how life could begin.

Cells are made of protein. The directions for making proteins are found in molecules of nucleic acid called DNA and RNA. Proteins could not form without DNA and RNA, and likewise, DNA and RNA could not form unless there were proteins first. If neither could form unless the other already existed, then which formed first? Both are necessary for life to begin, but neither could have formed by itself.

Some scientists think a kind of simple RNA may have been the forerunner of DNA, although they admit that they have no idea how it could have come about. But RNA needs enzymes to reproduce itself. Where did the enzymes come from? You can't have enzymes without RNA. Which came first?

The various parts needed for life are closely inter-related. No one part can stand alone. No one part is, by itself, alive. Only when all the parts are there and working together is life present.

Life could not begin unless DNA and RNA were first present. Life could not begin unless there were proteins available. This is a real problem for the theory of evolution. How could such a complex interactive system begin? Science has no answer.

Your body is made up of many cells. Each cell is made up of many molecules, but not one of them is alive. How can a living cell be made of billions of molecules that are not alive? This is the mystery of life that science has no naturalistic explanation for.

5. The Second Law of Thermodynamics

If you will recall, the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything, left to chance, moves in the direction of chaos and disorder. Everything runs down when left to itself. Nothing automatically moves toward complexity. How does this apply to the origin of life?

If all the chemical ingredients for the first molecule were in place, there is no built-in tendency for those chemicals to combine in an orderly manner. In fact, the Second Law says that it is impossible for them to combine into something more complex than the original ingredients. Left to themselves, they could only become more disorderly.

Nothing can increase in complexity without help from an outside force. Yet the first life form would have to be more complex than the chemicals that were there before it was alive. According to the well-established Second Law, even the tiniest step in the direction of more complexity would have to be imposed by some sort of outside force.

We have already seen that there is a growing belief among many scientists in a law of nature that has not yet been discovered. This law, known as self-organization, would allow matter to organize itself into greater degrees of complexity. It would explain how non-living matter could organize itself into living matter. It would relieve evolutionists of the problem of the Second Law. However:

"Advocates of spontaneous organization are quick to admit that they aren't basing their advocacy on empirical data and laboratory experiments, but on abstract mathematics and novel computer models." (Science, 30 March 1990)

There is little support for the concept of spontaneous organization. Neither is there experimental evidence. Until this law is discovered, the Second Law will continue to contradict the concept of spontaneous generation.

6. Natural Selection

Evolution, by definition, must be naturalistic. It must operate according to the laws of nature. One of those laws is natural selection.

Natural selection is the guiding process of evolution. Later in the book, we will look at natural selection in greater detail. For now, we will say it is "the survival of the fittest."

Which organisms are the fittest? The ones most able to survive. Because they survive, they will reproduce. Their offspring will have the same traits as the parents. If the parent survived because it was stronger, or quicker, then the offspring should inherit the trait of strength or speed. Weaker, slower organisms will be less likely to survive. Therefore, the population traits are "selected" in favor of the most successful traits.

Could chemicals evolve into the first living cell by natural selection? Did more efficient chemical compounds survive better than inefficient ones? Can chemicals even be thought of as surviving? Can they somehow be more fit than other chemicals? Can they leave more offspring than less fit chemicals?

Of course chemicals don't create offspring. There is no reason at all for any chemicals to "win" over any other chemicals. Without offspring to carry on the good traits, there can be no natural selection. Pre-organic, or chemical, evolution could not have happened by natural selection. Once reproduction is taking place, natural selection has some effect on the population of organisms. But how did reproduction begin?

7. The Simplest Form of Life

What is the simplest form of life? And just how simple is it?

All living things are made of at least one cell. How many molecules are in a cell? Several billion--and none of them are alive. The main parts of a cell are the proteins and the nucleic acids. There are two kinds of nucleic acid--DNA and RNA. The protein molecules produce the various traits and functions, while the nucleic acid molecules give the directions. This, in a nutshell, is the chemical basis of all life.

DNA and RNA molecules are made up of a ladder-like chain of very complex, repeating organic compounds called nucleotides. A protein molecule is made up of a long, complex chain of simple compounds called amino acids, which are combinations of several chemicals, each of which is a unique combination of protons, neutrons and electrons.

Is a cell the simplest form of life? It isn't very simple. Could a DNA molecule, or an RNA molecule, or a protein molecule, be considered the simplest form of life? How about an enzyme or an amino acid? These molecules cannot stand alone, but they may be thought of as building blocks of life. Are they simple? Not exactly. Each of the building blocks of life are quite complex.

Could bacteria be the simplest form of life? Many think it could be. How simple is bacteria? E. coli, one single-celled bacterium, has almost 4,000 genes. Microscopic fossils of archaebacteria have been found at sites dated between 3.5 and 4 billion years old. This means that well-developed bacteria were flourishing half a billion years after the earth was formed.

That sounds like a long time, but it isn't when you are talking about evolution. Some scientists feel it is not long enough for the first life to have formed spontaneously from the chemicals of the early earth. This is one reason why some scientists lean towards the idea of extra-terrestrials "seeding" the earth with life from another planet.

Microfossils of ancient bacteria, such as those discovered in western Australia in 1980, appear to be almost identical to some modern bacteria. Microfossils found near Lake Superior have been described in the same way. As we will see later in this book, many ancient fossils have been found that resemble modern creatures. These are called "living fossils." If evolution is the story of how life has changed over millions and billions of years, it is a mystery that crude, ancient forms, less adapted than more advanced forms, would continue to thrive.

8. Probability

How probable is it that the simplest form of life could result from the random mixing of inorganic molecules? The term probability is a mathematical term that tells how likely it is that something will happen.

To get an idea of the probability of the chance formation of life, let's assume the first life form involved 200 variables--which is much simpler than a living organism. According to Scott Huse (The Collapse of Evolution), the probability of such an organism forming on the first attempt would be about 1 in 10 to the 375-power, or 1 with 375 zeros after it.

However, that number only represents the chance of forming the right combination on the first try. Over a long period of time of evolutionary history, there would be chances for many, many tries. If there could be one billion tries per second over a period of 30 billion years (if the universe was 30 billion years old), the number of tries could be only 5 X 10 to the 104-power. This is nowhere near the 10 to the 375-power tries needed.

Perhaps you are thinking that the first living organism may have had less than 200 variables, or parts. Hardly. According to British scientist Sir Fred Hoyle, a living organism requires 2000 complex enzymes. The simplest protein molecule that could be considered alive has 400 or so amino acids, and we have already seen that each amino acid is a combination of chemical elements. The chances of such a protein molecule forming by accident are 1 to the 450-power.

What do all these mind-boggling numbers mean? Mathematically speaking, it is impossible for life to have formed by chance. No matter what high-sounding explanations are given about how it could have happened, the chances of life forming that way are virtually zero.

Sir Fred Hoyle said that the chance formation of life is as likely as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and accidentally assembling a Boeing 747. Hoyle, once an evolutionist, and his colleague, mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe, have rejected the theory of evolution. This decision was a result of their findings on the mathematical impossibility of the chance origin of life.

CONCLUSION

Spontaneous generation is the only possible way that life could have begun by naturalistic processes. The dictionary defines “natural” as something that occurs "in conformity with the ordinary course of nature," something normal or usual. Is the formation of life a normal or usual process?

When Charles Darwin came up with his explanation of how all life evolved from a single-celled organism, the focus was on how one species could change into another higher species. No one worried much about where the first microscopic creature came from. Compared to the sweeping history of life, it probably seemed like a minor detail.

As it turns out, this minor detail has taken on gigantic proportions. If the first and most important step couldn't happen, could the rest of evolution have happened? The implications for the theory of evolution are enormous.

Did we all come from a glob of green slime floating in the prebiotic soup, as is often jokingly said? Was there even a prebiotic soup? Some say we are descended from the stars. If evolution is true, then so we are, for the elements of the earth, from which life began, were formed in the stars, according to the Big Bang theory. Astronomer Robert Kirshner says (Scientific American, October 1994):

"There gravitation molded them [the elements] into new stars and planets, and electromagnetism cast them into the chemicals of life. The ink on this page, the air you breathe while reading it--to say nothing of your bones and blood--are all an inheritance from earlier generations of stars."

Scientists willingly consider the as-yet undiscovered evidence that would prove spontaneous generation could indeed happen. They are reluctant to apply the well-known Second Law of Thermodynamics to the study of the origin of life, yet they are eager to believe in the invisible "law" of self-organization. Not even natural selection can account for the leap from inanimate chemicals to living organisms.

That war-horse of scientific evidence, the Miller experiment, is no evidence at all. It is now common knowledge that this experiment did not reflect the environment or the chemical make-up of the early earth. Why is it included in even the most recent books as evidence in favor of evolution?

There seems to be no solution to the problem of which part of a living organism could have formed first. The simplest life forms are extremely complex, and all the parts are too inter-related to have evolved separately.

The mathematical probability of the simplest form of life originating by chance is virtually zero. It has never been accomplished in the laboratory; experiments consist mainly of "tweaking" existing molecules and the conditions that affect them.

If the formation of life was indeed a natural process, it doesn’t seem likely that it only happened once--here on our earth. Finding life on other planets would give a big boost to the idea of life from non-life, and therefore, to the theory of evolution. Our government spends huge amounts of money on space research, in hopes of finding some evidence of life in outer space, such as radio signals.

Why is there no frank discussion in science texts of the enormous problems involved in a nonlife-to-life scenario? Biologist Garrett Hardin says, "Clearly, few problems are more basic to biology than this one."

A scientist has the right to choose to believe something for which there is little or no evidence. But he must be careful to call that "philosophy," not science. Until there is more hard evidence for the theory of evolution, we must ask: is a single-celled organism really the ancestor of us all?


Copyright 2003 Jan Young

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