section considers the problem of origin of life and it's
significance for evolution theory. Clearly life did have a beginning,
so either it made itself or someone made it. Which of the two
alternative possibilities is best supported by the evidence?
Definition of abiogenesis
Is it relevant to evolution?
Will the scientists crack the problem?
Silly games to trick you, in the absence of evidence
Minimum requirements for a single celled organism
The word 'Genesis' means beginnings, hence the name of the first book of the Bible. To generate means to start, make or begin something. The prefix 'A-' means without or not, hence atheist is the opposite of theist (theists believe in a God, atheists believe there is none). Aseptic means germ free, septic means infected, etc.
Bios is Greek for
biological life, so Biogenesis means life originating from
life, as in ordinary plant and animal reproduction which we see all the
time, and it's how we humans were conceived and born by natural
processes which are well understood. Some plants and a very few animals
(e.g. daphnia) reproduce without sex (Asexually) but most reproduce by
male and female sex cells or gametes (sperm and egg) coming together to
form a new zygote. This is the
basis of all biological life, living things give rise to other living
things, their offspring, which are like them. Dragonflies generate
dragonflies, rainbow trout give rise to rainbow trout of the same
strain as themselves, beavers give birth to beavers, and so on. Animals
and plants do not come into existence other than from their parents.
This is so obvious it seems unnecessary to state it, but since long ago
there was no life on earth and living things must have had a beginning
(something evolutionists and creationists agree on) at some stage life
must have come from non life, by whatever means.
not a THEORY but a LAW, since there are NO KNOWN EXCEPTIONS.
Abiogenesis means life coming from non
It is a speculative hypothesis
There is no evidence for it
It violates the law of biogenesis
There is no credible mechanism for it
Another term for abiogenesis is spontaneous
Darwin in 'Origin of Species' specifically avoided the issue of how the
first living thing arose. He later speculated in a letter to Huxley
that life may have begun in 'a warm little pond somewhere.' (how
or why, he didn't speculate). Astonishingly, early believers in his
theory of evolution failed to see his silence on the origin of life as
a problem, apparently assuming that the existence of the first living
cell with the potential within itself to give rise to all other life
forms could be taken as a given. To be fair, in those days nobody had
the faintest idea about how complicated a single celled organism was,
but then again, perhaps 'enlightened' 19th century radical thinking men
were so desperately keen to get rid of the idea of a
creator/lawgiver/judge supreme being that they were all too ready to
give Darwinism the benefit of the doubt despite it's silence on this
foundationally important area (to say nothing of its other weaknesses). They assumed that science would soon come up with an explanation of abiogeneis, in the meantime they would take it on trust. Darwin of the gaps.
Nothing has changed to this day except that evolutionists are very keen to avoid discussion of abiogenesis apart from to hint that new breakthroughs are being made all the time and it isn't really a problem. Wrong on both counts.
Creationists believe that an all powerful, all wise being known as God deliberately created all things by a wisdom and power beyond our comprehension or ability to investigate beyond what that being has chosen to reveal. This idea is anathema to materialist scientists, although plenty of famous high achieving scientists such as Maxwell, Pasteur, Virchow, Newton, including many whose work was foundational in their fields of science, and many others have had no problem with it.
Evolutionists are not agreed on how life began, and tend to avoid the subject, as Darwin did. They often say that evolution is about how life developed, not how it began, and that the actual origin of life need not concern us. When put on the spot, a bad tempered and dismissive response or sneering mockery can be expected. The most common response is to say that evolution is about Natural Selection, that this explains how we got to where we are today from the 'common ancestor', and that the appearance of the first living thing by abiogenesis is irrelevant to evolution. We are told, 'the scientists are looking for the cause of abiogenesis, and they will find it in due course'. (that's what Darwin said about the missing intermediate fossils 150 years ago-they are still missing). Very often the questioner will be accused of 'arguing from ignorance' or 'personal incredulity' or informed that asserting 'I don't understand how this happened, so God must have done it' and informed that if scientists had taken this view, we would still be in the stone age and attributing lightning to Zeus.
These are excuses and distractions.
People who wish to prove that life has a naturalistic origin are
DESPERATE to prove this by experiment. Hardly anything would be so
effective in silencing Creationists. The
truth is that scientists, using tools of a sophistication beyond Darwin's imagination, have
investigated biological life right down to the deepest molecular level, and have
discovered a world of complexity almost beyond belief.
There are too many structures and processes which are not only
extremely complicated in themselves, but which have no ability to
function unless numerous other equally complicated structures and
processes also exist and mesh together perfectly. A cell is MUCH more
complicated than a wristwatch, computer or jet plane-and furthermore can repair itself and reproduce. Every new discovery about the complexity
of the cell makes
abiogenesis LESS plausible. Dismissive retorts about 'personal
incredulity' do nothing to explain how an extreme level of interlocking
mutually dependent biochemical systems came into being by chance. By the way, the proper response to an accusation of 'personal incredulity' is to accuse the accuser of 'personal CREDULITY'. When they say 'You don't know how it happened so you give God the credit' a sensible reply might be 'YOU don't know how it happened so you give natural selection the credit.'
The origin of life is vital to any
consideration of evolution, as without a healthy and reproducing
population of living things, natural
selection cannot possibly occur and so evolution is literally a
non-starter. The fact that it is necessary to even state something so bone-crushingly obvious should make us stop and think about how all-pervasive evolutionist propaganda has become.
In the famous Miller Urey experiments, a device was set up with what were said to be early-earth conditions but were in fact optimised laboratory conditions designed and adjusted to give the best chance of demonstrating that the 'building blocks of life' could arise spontaneously. They failed miserably, producing a mixture containing mainly poisonous tarry goo and a small amount of incomplete and mixed right and left handed amino acids. Only left handed amino acids are made or used in living cells, since right handed amino acids make faulty proteins. So the products of these 'simulation of early earth' experiments could not have made a working protein even if the other necessary ingredients and structures had been present, which of course they could not have been as they are MADE FROM complex proteins, and then only in fully functioning living cells.
Amazingly, due to the way that evolution is defended
from criticism and decreed to be the only permissible paradigm for
explaining life, the experiments were claimed as a success and are
still taught to children today as support for the idea that life could
be spontaneously generated. I was taught this at school, I was not
taught any of the problems with the model or how many steps were left
beyond the tiny number of unusable amino acids and even the simplest
That the Miller Urey experiments and their successors failed to demonstrate life forming in a test tube is not in question, but how far did they get? The impression is given that they made a great start and now science is perhaps half way there. If we look at that hey actually achieved, and then consider the unalterable science facts about protein synthesis, then if their results are compared to a cross channel swim, we are not talking about the swimmer getting half way to France, or even beyond Dover breakwater. His car breaks down before he gets to the beach.Darwin and his followers have put a lot of thought into natural selection, and as discussed natural selection, as far as it goes, is a helpful concept to understand variation and adaptation of plants and animal populations to environmental change and migration. Yet unless we have a population of living, reproducing organisms to begin with, evolution by natural selection is quite literally a non-starter. As an absolute minimum, there had to be a first living, reproducing thing and to be blunt, if a superior intelligence did not make it, it must have made itself. Of course, the idea of a living thing "making itself" is a logical impossibility since before "it" came into being, there was no "it", so a living thing cannot make itself any more than a man can be his own father. The evolutionist is therefore compelled to believe that non-living chemicals came together in some way to form the first living thing. They talk about the unseen entity and tautology of 'self organising molecules' and then cannot see the irony of their accusing creationists of credulity for saying 'God did it'.
The ubndirected appearance of life is, as far as we can tell by empirical scientific
investigation and logical thinking, is impossible.
The materialist scientist cannot suppose any sort of intelligent mind or hand causing the beginning of life, therefore the first living thing must have come into being through the undirected operation of natural laws, in a word, by accident. The Evolutionist has no option but to believe this, (moving the problem to outer space is a cop out) but what sort of experimental or theoretical evidence is there for and against abiogenesis?
Unhappily for evolutionary theory, no natural
laws which assemble living things from non-living have been
demonstrated or credibly theorised. There are however well established
laws which run counter to the idea. In fact, the idea of a complicated
structure, living or non-living, assembling itself from components in a
coherent way, runs counter to everything we know about the universe.
The laws of thermodynamics and entropy show that the universe is
running down and tending towards disorganisation. The well known
clichés about a jumbo jet being created by a whirlwind blowing
through a scrap heap, or 'the Encyclopaedia
Brittanica resulting from an explosion in a printer's works' come
to mind. Evolutionists dismiss these metaphors, usually citing 'time'
(as in, given enough time, it must have happened') but cannot come up
with an satisfactory explanation as to how disorganised molecules
formed themselves into a living thing without information, the molecule
building machines we find in all cells, precisely directed
intracellular energy systems, a food supply, and all the other things
that even the simplest cells cannot do without.
What scientific laws then led to the formation of the first living thing? I was taught at zoology A level that the action of lightning on 'primal soup' (also called pre-biotic soup, a supposed solution of methane and ammonia and trace elements in the early atmosphere and seas of earth. There is no evidence that the early seas were like this, but it wouldn't help if they had been) led to the formation of amino acids, which then joined together to form proteins, which then somehow formed themselves into the first living cell, which then through beneficial mutations and natural selection made all other living things including man.
Every part of the above scenario is pure conjecture.
Let us consider very briefly what are the absolute minimum requirements for a living cell.
The complexity of the simplest known living organism is mind-boggling. You need the cell wall, the energy system, a system of self-repair, a reproduction system, and means for taking in food ( what food? All food derives ultimately from chlorophyll which has no existence outside fully functioning plants. In our supposed pre-biotic earth, there was nothing to eat or breathe before chlorophyll) and processing and expelling waste, the complex genetic code, thousands of specific proteins which all depend on each other and must be perfect or they don't work at all, a means for interpreting and replicating genetic code, osmotic regulation and other indispensable homeostasis mechanisms, plus detecting and correcting errors as they occur, and much more besides. All these features must be present and fully functioning from the start, or there is no start. There are no parts of a cell that you can take away and still have a viable living cell.
First there must be a cell wall, or else the contents would drift apart and the organism would lose it's integrity and cease to exist. Antibiotics kill bacteria by breaking their cell wall, showing without doubt that the wall is indispensable. It is a barrier but not a simple one, for example during mitosis it stretches, splits into 2 and seals itself perfectly without leaking contents. This is quite a 'simple' process, but like all the other things about the cell, if it goes wrong, the cell is dead. Cell walls are not completely impermeable, they could not work if they were. Dissolved carbon dioxide and oxygen diffuse across, also there are molecular active transport systems which move chemicals across the barrier as required. These active transport mechanisms have to be exactly right.
The cell is filled with cytoplasm, a semi liquid milieu which supports everything else physically and chemically. This is maintained homeostatically by various mechanisms in the cell, for example with the right level of acid/base balance, osmotic tension and dissolved gases etc.
Intracellular structures of several kinds exist, including ribosomes, where protein synthesis takes place under the control of DNA/RNA by means of specific protein building enzymes. The process is powered by ADP/ATP energy systems which burn carbohydrate to produce energy, just the right amount, just the right place, just the right time. Chemicals are transported across the cell to be taken to the right place at the right time for various reactions to take place.
In the middle of the cell is the nucleus which contains the massive DNA molecules, which are normally wound up on special spindles. They unravel when required and are copied on to RNA molecules. This unravelling, and re-ravelling, don't just happen, specific molecular engines exist which wrap and unwrap them just as required. This is just an outline sketch of the complexity, there is far more which is quite easily searchable but beyond the scope of this little site.
Enzymes are necessary for protein synthesis, energy production and all kinds of processes. They are themselves complicated proteins. They are necessary to make and maintain DNA, and are themselves made using precise instructions from DNA. DNA itself goes wrong sometimes, not very often considering how active it is, but often enough. Errors accumulating in DNA if not corrected would corrupt the information and eventually kill the organism but there is an automatic spell check and repair mechanism which detects errors in the nucleotide sequence and mends or cuts out and replaces them. Without this system (which incidentally is an impassable barrier to any possible beneficial mutations as it recognises and deletes random changes in the DNA, removing evolution's only possible progress mechanism) DNA would quickly accumulate errors and cease functioning, causing sickness and death as in the terrble genetic disease Xeroderma Pigmentosum.
DNA check and repair is found in all living things.
It had to be present from the beginning, or life as we know it would have been impossible.
Life cannot go on without it.
So how did it evolve from dirty water and sparks by millions of gradual stages, each one of which would have had to be fully functional or it could not have survived for natural selection to act on?
This account could go on for several thousand more pages, the above is only a rough outline. For further information on the complexity of the cell, I suggest the interested student tries an internet search on key words and phrases such as
DNA check and repair
nucleotide excision repair
cell wall active transport
for a start.
Be prepared for a world of complexity way beyond the 'inertial dampers', 'photon torpedoes' and 'dilithium crystals' of Star Trek. Don't worry if the science is too difficult, it is for most of us, this is just to get rid of the idea that there is such a thing as a 'simple' cell which, as Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel and the rest assumed, was simple enough to have spontaneously generated 'just like that'. And remember, we are just looking at a single celled organism. Once you start to get into multicellular organisms, animals with liver, kidneys, genitals, limbs, brain, blood circulation, etc. new orders of complexity become involved. But this section is about abiogenesis so we are concerned here only with the question 'how could a fully functioning single celled organism with the capacity to maintain and reproduce itself come into being from simple chemicals such as methane and ammonia, as evolutionists believe although they cannot demonstrate a single example, and this belief goes against the observable law of BIOGENESIS.'
Having learned some cell biology, and the above is the briefest outline, think again about how time alone, even billions of years, would help a fully functioning, reproducing, self repairing single celled organism come together from volcano gases, ash and water without design and engineering input from a Great Maker.
If you can solve this problem satisfactorily, the Nobel prize awaits you and you will become a hero of atheism as the man who finally shut the creationists up over origin of life. On the other hand, if you remain a convinced evolutionist, perhaps you will follow the example of Charles Darwin and his contemporary followers by avoiding the issue of how life began without a designer and maker, or saying that it isn't a problem and doesn't matter.
click here for some more science which shows that abiogenesis is impossible
NB Billions of dollars are spent on SETI (Search for Extra
Terrestrial Intelligence) a project looking for signals from space
which it is assumed would prove an alien intelligence. If a message
from outer space reached earth that contained a substantial amount of
coherent information, it would be taken as proof of Intelligence 'out
there', since it is accepted by SETI that coherent information does not
arise randomly and therefore speaks of an intelligence. However, the
scientific establishment refuse to consider that the complex
genetic information in our DNA points to an Intelligence 'out there'
which made us.
If a radio message from outer space (assuming it wasn't a
Piltdown spaceman fraud) was picked up which said
'Hello earthlings, we're from a star system 40 light
years away, we'd like to come and see you but we think we'd blow your
minds. Here is a cure for cancer and an answer to global warming.
Live long and prosper!'.
this would be taken as proof positive of extra terrestrial intelligence. Evolutionists would rejoice as this would be taken as proving that life had evolved elsewhere, so must have evolved here too. Of course no such message has ever been received. The genetic information carried on our DNA holds millions of times more coherent and meaningful information than the above short phrase, and yet it is believed by atheists to have arisen spontaneously, basically by molecules bumping into each other accidentally. Why is it apparently so easy for some people to believe that but so difficult for them to believe the eye witness accounts of Jesus risen from the dead? If they say 'we observe that people don't rise from the dead' then we also observe that life doesn't come from non life. Both events would be miracles, but one miracle makes sense, the other doesn't.
return to menu