Now we turn our attention to origin of life studies. This field is in constant competition with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) for the discipline which yields the most absurd theories with the least supporting evidence. Since Miller and Urey produced a few racemic amino acids in a test tube in 1952, some scientists have been obsessed with proving the plausibility of abiogenesis (the chance arrangement of inert matter into life), yet at every turn they comically show it to be more and more improbable. The resulting desperation has produced an amusing plethora of bizarre theories, whose characters can include crystals, deep sea hydrothermal vents, meteorites, aliens, and of course the famous primordial soup.
This extreme improbability stems from several issues; I will explore one of them here briefly, chirality, but it is not the only problem dragging atheistic evolution into the realm of mythology. After abiogenesis, the evolution from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, the advent of sexual reproduction, the complexity of human language, and the ascendance of human consciousness are all problems that staunchly defy materialistic and evolutionary explanations.
Louis Pasteur, one of the greatest scientists of all time, in 1848 first discovered, by experiments with tartaric acid, the phenomenon of molecular chirality, the possibility of the same molecule to be left or right handed based on its atomic connectivity (you may remember this from Walter White’s classroom lesson). Chiral substances generally occur in racemic mixtures (left and right handers mixed randomly together), but, incredibly, living organisms use single-handed chirality almost exclusively. Only a brief study on this subject is enough to realize that it has been an insurmountable problem for abiogenesis.
The most interesting thing about the origin of life issue is the confidence much of the scientific community has placed in abiogenesis. There is literally zero evidence that any living entity ever spontaneously arose from nonliving matter, or that the probability of this happening is any more than essentially zero for the length of time available in earth’s history (especially considering chirality), despite over 50 years of research and experiment.
Richard Dawkins, a most vociferous defender of atheistic evolution, accidentally betrays the shallow level of thought behind this idea in The God Delusion: “The origin of life is a flourishing, if speculative, subject for research… the probability of its happening is, and always was, exceedingly low – although it did happen once!” In another stroke of brilliance, he later says, “I think it is definitely worth spending money on trying to duplicate the event in the lab and – by the same token, SETI, because I think it is likely that there is intelligent life elsewhere.”
Origin of life is a scientific-cultural dogma rooted in the materialistic assumption that nothing exists outside the physical universe, and therefore all observed phenomena, including life, must have arisen by natural processes. In order to understand the facts, the assumption needs to change. There is nothing unscientific in observing the awesome phenomenon of life and acknowledging its most likely cause, an extremely intelligent and inventive Designer from outside the natural world. Dawkins, unimpeded by scientific evidence, can only gleefully assert that life occurred by chance. As evolutionary critic David Berlinski wrote, “There is no absurdity Dawkins is not prepared to embrace so long as he can avoid a transcendental inference.”
When abiogenesis was first proposed as a serious theory by Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin in 1924, no one had even dreamed what kind of intricate complexity resided in a single cell. By any description, the cell is a marvel of mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, software, and systems engineering on an incomprehensibly small scale, all orchestrated by processes that still elude understanding. Metaphors of factories, cities, and airports permeate attempts to describe the cell, and even the most rigorous materialists always slip into design-oriented language. There is no other way to provide accurate information about the cell: it is, as biochemist Bruce Alberts once described, “a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.” Cells typically have diameters on the order of microns (10−6 meters).
Abiogenesis is the cornerstone of any materialistic theory of evolution, but Charles Darwin never imagined the implications of this with regard to complexity. How could he have known? Mankind has set foot on the moon, controlled robots on Mars, and explored the bottom of the ocean, but has not achieved anything remotely approaching the brilliance of the cell. Origin of life studies will continue to expand the gap between abiogenesis and reality, and thus between atheism and reality.
Then the Lord answered out of the whirlwind, and said, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”