One of the great mysteries in science is the origin of life on this planet. How did life 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, of course, 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 somehow takes over and life begins to evolve. Millions of years later, here we are, building computers and flying all over the world in airplanes.
One of the most significant things that happened in man’s quest for knowledge
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 necessary.
Lee Strobel said that when he heard this taught in his high school biology class, it dramatically transformed his belief in God and led him to atheism. He said,
“That’s when I became an atheist.” 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, is that the atmosphere of the earth had to be a hydrogen rich mixture of methane, ammonia, and water vapor. The only problem with this theory is there is no real evidence for such an atmosphere. Still there were those who believed the theory was sound because the experiment did produce amino acids.
The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle
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 blew Miller’s theory right out of the water. Miller’s experiment, a theory on the origins of life, which had been taught for years as an indisputable scientific fact, imploded. And twenty-first century science doesn’t, in fact, have any indisputable evidence on 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 “better 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.”
In fact, Nobel Prize winning scientist Francis Crick, who, along with Stanley Watson and Maurice Wilkins, discovered 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 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.”
Dr. John Lennox is a 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 between science, philosophy, and theology. He has participated in a number of debates with atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
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 holds professorships in a Chinese university as well as an Australian university. Lennox said he has known him for a number of years and that he is 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.
Sir, you sound like Genesis
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.”
Parker asked, “What do you mean? Genesis what?”
The reporter answered, “You sound like Genesis in the Bible . . . Let there be light.”
Lennox said 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 would read the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1. Dr. Lennox said Parker finally contacted him because he knew Lennox was a Christian and would therefore be interested in 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 points, 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 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.
Dr. Allen Sandage is considered the greatest observational cosmologist in the world. He stunned the scientific community when he announced he had become a Christian. He has a very simple explanation for the origin of life:
“God is the explanation for the miracle of existence.”