Origin of Life & Evolution

Photo By Hal Gatewood

One of life’s most primary fundamental questions is the meaning of our existence. Why are we here and where did we come from? Questions of origin are apparent is small children and science does a fantastic job of explaining the ‘how’ but it fails to provide answers of purpose or the ‘why’. I myself am not a scientist, but I have been fascinated by it every since I was a little boy. In fact before I fell in love with music I wanted to be an archaeologist. I dreamed of digging up mummies and ancient Egyptian kings, to be honest, part of me still does. Nevertheless, my fascination with science has always been there as far back as I can remember. As an atheist I found great comfort in science, because science essentially became my god. I found meaning and purpose within the sciences, although in hind sight I realize it was incredibly shallow and superficial. Even though I refused to believe in God, especially the God of the bible, I found the answers within the sciences ultimately shortcoming and not sufficient. Intrinsically and  intuitively I believed human beings had souls, but science could not offer me an explanation or reason for this. I mean was a soul at one point necessary for a species survival? If so, how can an immaterial substance evolve?

Once I accepted Christ, I must confess, I assumed I would have to give up my passion for the sciences and just ‘live by faith.’ After all, I always assumed that science and God were in direct opposition to one another and therefore I had to choose between one or the other. How could a believer in God also be a proponent and believer in science. I am so glad that this diametric opposition could not have been further from the truth. If God is real, then science must also come from Him. If after all we have been given a mind, are we not instructed by God to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30 NIV). I began to investigate and look at the sciences to see if there existed any evidence that pointed or even hinted at God’s existence. Up until this point in my life everything I learned in school seemed to contradict God, even in Catholic school.  As I began this journey I was amazed at what I had discovered. I didn’t manage to just find a few hints or natural suggestions that there could possibly be a Creator, rather I stumbled upon an overwhelming amount. I felt as if the entire world had kept all of this evidence locked up in a safe, far far way from everyone. I mean how could all of this evidence exist and no one seems to be talking about it. I never saw or heard about it in the news, magazines, newspapers, school or from other people, especially Christians. The Christians I knew while an atheist feared any scientific questions I had, further demonstrating to me that one must either choose between God or science.

What really began to excite me and motivate me was when I first heard about The Big Bang. The fact that our universe has a beginning, to me was dumbfounding. I like most people up until the early 20th century believed the universe to be eternal, it was always there. If there universe has a beginning then why is it here? Who or what created it? Could chance really be the creative power behind something as vast, ever expanding and spectacular as the universe? The ever expanding part is something I would like to focus upon.

In the early part of the 20th century Albert Einstein began to develop his theory of general relativity. Now I am not a physicist, but this discovery made Einstein uncomfortable. The reason why it did, is that if his calculations were correct, then the universe must be constantly expanding. On the surface this does not appear to be a dilemma at all, however Einstein realized that if it is currently expanding, then that means it is expanding from a single point in the past. If you think about blowing up a balloon, as you blow more air into it, the balloon expands and gets bigger. When you let air out of the balloon it shrinks back to its original size. Well think of our universe in the same way, letting air out of the balloon is like winding back the clock. If the universe is expanding then if you went back in time it would be shrinking. In order to solve this dilemma Einstein fudge his equations. He introduced a number known as a ‘cosmological constant.’ This arbitrary number solved the expansion problem and made the universe static. It was also a lie!

Around this same time Edwin Hubble was noticing through his telescope that galaxies appeared to be moving further and further away from one another. Hubble invited Einstein out to his observatory and showed him firsthand to see what was happening with the galaxies. Einstein, although not immediately, eventually conceded that universe was in fact expanding and called his ‘cosmological constant’ his ‘greatest blunder.’ Most scientists are now convinced the universe had a beginning and within that beginning not only did matter and space come into existence by time as well.

This is phenomenal if you think about it. At one point there was nothing and by nothing I mean, to quote Aristotle ‘Nothing is what rocks dream about.’ Then all of a sudden mass, energy, material, space and time itself all exploded into existence. If the universe has a beginning, then the universe needs a cause. After all,  causality states that all effects have a cause. So if universe has a beginning it therefore must have a cause. This argument is typically referred to as the Cosmological Argument and goes like this:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

There is now another origin that has yet to be resolved, that is the origin of life itself. The fact that the universe has a beginning explains nothing of the fact as to why life exists. We now need to look into how life first began and came into existence. Now the predominantly dominating theory and explanation for the origin of life is Charles Darwins’ theory of evolution. Darwins theory of evolution essentially states that the origin of species have evolved by random mutations upon organisms by an unguided process by means of natural selection. A simple formula for this is time + matter + change.  Now on a micro level Darwins theory works and very few people argue against that. Humans have observed natural selection for centuries, well before Darwin. In fact natural selection is, dare I say, practically common sense. Obviously a weaker animal or an animal born with a deformity compared to the rest is going to have a shorter life span and fall easier to prey, especially when compared to a perfectly healthy animal of the same kind. Now where evolution falls short is in the first life. Darwin famously drew a tree and compared this tree to the origin of species. All species share a common ancestry from a single organism far back in time, represented by the very base of the tree. The tree then grows and expands its branches, along the way new species are evolving and created. However, where in this beautiful illustration did the first life come from? Most scientists and evolutionary biologists believe the first life came from a primordial soup. In the days of Darwin, the cell was a black box. Technology was not yet advanced enough for scientist to examine something as tiny as the cell and so the cell was assumed to be very simple, not complex, like plasma. To Quote Hugo de Vries, “natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”

The origin of the first life was never explained by Darwin’s theory and still to this day cannot be explained by it. Now as significant as this is, there are many other devastating advancements and discoveries that further poke holes in his theory.

During the Cambrian period, roughly 541 million years ago, there was an ‘explosion’ of life. This moment is often referred to as the Cambrian explosion. Within the fossil record, various complex lifeforms suddenly appear, seemingly out of nowhere. One would expect that there would be a succession of fossils showcasing mutations over time if Darwin’s theory of evolution were true. However, scientists have yet to find any. Now Darwin was aware of the Cambrian explosion during his lifetime, but assumed that the intermediary fossils would eventually be found.  As more and more paleontologists search for these intermediary species they end up making the problem of the Cambrian explosion more acute, by finding even more species during this time period, further exacerbating the issue.

Darwin himself even had doubts of his own theory. Especially concerning the mind,  “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind.”

If the human mind is the by product of time + matter + chance, then why should you and I ever trust it?

Another issue that arises when it comes to Darwinian evolution is DNA. In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of the DNA molecule, awarding them the Nobel Prize in 1962. What I find to be the most fascinating and marvelous aspect of DNA is the sequence of the bases within the double helix. These bases are commonly represented as the letters, A, C, T & G. These bases are arranged similarly to computer code and provide instructions to the cell on how to arrange amino acids for the formation and creation of proteins. A single molecule of DNA is over 3 billion letters long. That is, the four bases, A, C, T & G, are arranged in a very specific order whose length is over 3 billion characters long. Bill Gates famously said, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created”

As a web developer, I write code every single day. I can personally attest that even the slight misplacement of a semicolon, a missed capitalization, typo, etc will result in the program not running. Imagine just a single character off and a program that is thousands of lines long fails to run. Now imagine a program that is over 3 billion characters long. Within each and every cell this vast amount of information exists.

Anytime you and I witness information, we can always conclude that a mind is behind it. Every computer program has a programmer behind it, a book an author, a message a messenger, how therefore is DNA any different. Could something as immensely complex and sophisticated as DNA come about merely by chance + matter + time. Also where did all of this information come from within the first cell at the base of Darwin’s tree from which all other life has come about? The very first lifeforms in the supposed ‘primordial soup’ were not simple at all, there contained vast amounts of information, from where though? Nothing? Really? DNA came about from chemicals mixing together over the course of millions or billions of years? If you take an honest look at all of this evidence, I would argue you have to have more faith to be an atheist than to be a believer in God.

One more point and then I will rest my case.

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” – Charles Darwin, in The Origin of Species

“To Darwin, the cell was a “black box”—its inner workings were utterly mysterious to him. Now, the black box has been opened up and we know how it works. Applying Darwin’s test to the ultra-complex world of molecular machinery and cellular systems that have been discovered over the past 40 years, we can say that Darwin’s theory has “absolutely broken down.” – Michael Behe, biochemist and author of Darwin’s Black Box

Michael Behe ’s book masterfully explains what he calls ‘irreducible complexity.’ That is to say there are various components within the cell that cannot be created over long periods of time. These components, like small motors and machines, within the cell need each component all at once, or the machinery breaks down. He uses the illustration of a mousetrap to demonstrate this idea of irreducible complexity. The mousetrap in and of itself is simple in nature containing only a few pieces and parts. However, if you remove a single component the mousetrap can no longer function for its original intention and purpose, rendering it therefore useless. Every single piece is necessary and relies upon the other. The same is true for components within the cell, if you remove a single one, that part can no longer function as it was originally intended.  Evolution can not possibly create all of these components all at once. Remember evolution is an unguided process, therefore it has no idea of what parts are needed next, it is merely a product of chance. The complexity within the cell is so acute, that attributing this complexity to chance is frankly absurd.

To put this all to rest, I would like to cite a quote from David Berlinksi’s book the Devil’s Delusion.

“Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”

― David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions

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