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Newspapers across the United States carried headlines similar to the one that appeared in the hometown paper of AiG-US The Cincinnati Post (20th February, 2001): “Key Ingredients for Life Found in Universe,” with the byline “Chemistry Happens Around Distant Stars.”
The article reported that astronomers have allegedly found vast waves of water vapor and traces of carbon molecules that can play a basic role in organic chemistry. The article quotes Martin F. Kessler, a staff scientist for the European Space Agency, as saying that this shows that complex carbon chemistry is not unique to Earth and that we now see similar chemistry elsewhere in the universe. The question that must be asked is: Do such findings prove that life exists elsewhere in the universe?
These findings do not prove that life exists beyond the Earth. In fact, speaking as a chemist, they do not even come close to that. They just show that water and chemicals containing carbon are found in other parts of the universe. Nothing more, nothing less. The existence of water and chemicals containing carbon in other areas of the universe does not prove that complex life forms exist in other parts of the universe. All it shows is that these chemicals exist in other areas of the universe!
The newspaper article also declares that the discovery of these chemicals proves that the conditions that lead to the formation of life are present in lots of places in the universe. These findings show nothing of the sort– they do not prove that life has formed by chance either in our solar system or indeed in any other part of the universe.
The article concludes by suggesting that the water is in the form of ice that coats the carbon containing chemicals, which are referred to as “dust grains.” It then suggests that these dust grains collide, stick together, and form larger and larger objects, and that these eventually become “the building blocks of planets.” This is mere speculation. No one has ever detected ice-coated dust grains sticking together in a manner suggested in the article. Imagine the number of dust grains that would have to collide and stick together in order to form a sphere as large as a golf ball, never mind one as large as the Earth — which is over 8,000 miles (13,000 km) in diameter!
Articles such as this should not lead readers to think that life has been found anywhere else in the universe or that it proves that life has evolved–or is evolving–from water and chemicals containing carbon anywhere in the universe either today or in any time in the past. Such conclusions are mountains of speculations without a grain of fact. The chemistry of living systems is immensely complex, carrying vast amounts of information, which in our scientific experience only ever comes from intelligence or pre-existing programs.
The answer to the question of the origin of life is found in Genesis. Here we read that God is the Creator of living systems–a conclusion that is consistent with all the evidence.
Dr Monty White is the Chief Executive of Answers in Genesis (UK). He holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wales. Dr White is the author of Why I Believe in Creation.