This will be the final blog post on God and Science; at least that’s true for the foreseeable future.
The issue that I want to address today is one that also seems to confound modern science. At one point the science academy might have believed that it had an answer, but then its members eventually discovered their error. The question that I am referring to is: What do we know about the origin of life on this planet? How did life as we know it today arise from nothing?
Up until the 1970s, maybe even the 1980s, the prevailing belief in science stemming from Darwin’s landmark work was that if you were to go back to the primeval beginnings of the earth, you would find it covered with countless pools of water amid barren and rocky expanses, chemically enriched with the necessary ingredients to create life. These small bodies of water and their ingredients are referred to as the primordial soup, and, as the theory goes, the earth at that time was an intense environment of constant electrical activity. Lightning would regularly strike this soup, at which point various amino acids, the building blocks of life, would be formed. Once these amino acids were formed, natural selection took over and life began to evolve. Millions of years later, we are building handheld computers and flying all over the globe in airplanes. This theory really took off in 1953 when a scientist named Stanley Miller demonstrated in the laboratory how this could actually happen.
Miller created a pool of chemicals, the necessary ingredients to create an amino acid. He then pumped electrical charges into it and amino acids were formed. As you can imagine, Darwinian scientists were elated because, if the origin of life can be explained solely through natural processes, then God is no longer required to create life on earth.
Lee Strobel says that when he heard this taught in his high school biology class, it dramatically transformed his belief in God and led him to atheism.
I, too, remember being taught this in my high school biology class.
Miller’s experiment was hailed as a major breakthrough in science. Carl Sagan believed it was one of the most significant things that happened in man’s quest for knowledge because it proved that life could arise on other planets.
The only way for Miller’s experiment to work, however, was that the atmosphere of the earth had to be a hydrogen-rich mixture of methane, ammonia and water vapor. The problem with this theory was that there was no real evidence of such an atmosphere. Still there were those who believed the theory was sound because Miller’s experiment did indeed produce amino acids.
Then in the 1980s, NASA scientists actually demonstrated that the primitive earth had little, if any, volume of methane, ammonia, or hydrogen. Instead, the atmosphere at that time was composed of water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. This new information served to invalidate Miller’s theory. Miller’s experiment, seeking to prove a theory on the origins of life that had been taught for years as an indisputable scientific fact, imploded. And twenty-first century science doesn’t, in fact, have any indisputable evidence as to how life began on earth. Miller admitted in the periodical Scientific American nearly forty years after his famous experiment: “The problem of the origin of life has turned out to be much more difficult than I, and most other people, envisioned.”
Klaus Dose, a biochemist who is considered by the academy as being at the highest level of expertise on the origin of life says,
More than thirty years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a â€œbetter perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth rather than to its solution. At present, all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field, either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.
Dr. John Lennox is professor of mathematics at The University of Oxford, a fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, and a Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton, Oxford. He is an author and popular lecturer on the interface of science, philosophy, and theology.
Lennox relates a fascinating story about a brilliant scientist in England, a man by the name of Andrew Parker who is the director of research at the Natural History Museum in London. He also holds professorships in both a Chinese and Australian university. Lennox, an expert in a number of fields, considers Parker an expert in bioluminescence, a field which studies the production and emission of light by living organisms. Specifically, Parker studies marine life that emits light, and, in his research, he came to the conclusion that the eye has played a central role in evolutionary biology.
One day Parker was giving a lecture on the subject of bioluminescence and a reporter in the back of the room raised his hand and said, Sir, you sound like Genesis.â
Parker asked, What do you mean? Genesis what?
The reporter answered, You sound like Genesis in the Bible . . . Let there be light.
Lennox said that his friend had never read the Bible, and so he bought one and started to read it. And he couldn’t let go of it. It astounded him.
Night after night Parker read the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1. Dr. Lennox said that Parker finally contacted him because he knew Lennox was a Christian and would therefore be interested in all these things. Parker said, even though he was not religious, he would like to talk with him about science and religion.
The net result? Parker published a book called The Genesis Enigma:Why the First Book of the Bible is Scientifically Accurate.
Parker leads off with a caveat and then continues with the argument,
I’m not a religious man, and I do not want religion particularly at this time in my life. But what I have discovered is the most remarkable correlation between the order of events as I see them in the history of life and what Genesis says. There’s no way the Hebrew writer of Genesis could have known that light was important, that marine life was important.
And then Parker goes through a whole list of facts as he knew them to be as a scientist, and then he concludes,
. . . the writer of Genesis has it all in the right order. Could this be the evidence of God?
Lennox says that, as brilliant as this book is, it has been rejected by academics primarily because it is so unusual for a scientist who is not a religious man to be so forthright in correlating science to the book of Genesis.
Finally, and I find this to be almost comical, Francis Crick, the winner of the Nobel Prize (along with Stanley Watson and Maurice Wilkins), for discovering and documenting the molecular structure of DNA, says,
Every time I write a paper on the origin of life, I swear I will never write another one because there is too much speculation running after too few facts.
Then Crick continues and bear in mind that he was antagonistic towards any belief in God whatsoever,
The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle . . . So many are the conditions which would have to be satisfied to get it going.
I think that Crick is on to something. The origin of life on this planet required a miracle of God. For in Genesis we see that God brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seeds, as well as fish in the sea and birds in the air. He brought into existence something out of nothing and this is how life itself began.
If you are interested in reading more about the intersection of science and faith in God, you might want to read Richard’s book entitled Reliable Truth: The Validity of The Bible in an Age of Skepticism. Here is a link to Amazon should you want to explore it more.