Did Meteorites and Warm Ponds Make Life?

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There are two major competing ideas for explaining the evolutionary origin of life on earth. In one story life emerges near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The other version of the story is closer to Darwin’s original musings: life arises in a warm pond somewhere on early earth. In a recent study, scientists from Canada are claiming to have given the warm ponds theory a boost.1

Meteorites + Warm Ponds = A Chance for Life

These researchers claim meteorites striking the earth could have brought life’s raw ingredients with them since some meteorites are known to carry nucleobases, one of the chemical building blocks of RNA molecules. Many scientists consider RNA formation to be the first step toward creating life. Using evolutionary models (based on the number and supposed age of craters on the moon), they calculated the number of ponds on early earth and the number of meteorites striking earth and determined

there were enough meteorites carrying the raw ingredients for RNA splashing into enough ponds in the early Earth to produce ample opportunities for RNA to form.

They then imagine that these ponds would dry up, allowing the building blocks of RNA to somehow link together. Subsequent rainfall would fill the pond and mix up the building blocks, and then it would dry out again and longer chains would form. Somehow from this, life emerges. All this would have to happen quickly before ultraviolet light destroyed the new compounds or they leaked back into the soil.

The scientists claim no one has put all the data together before in this way but, they note, there are some gaps left to fill in, for example, “the chemical step from nucleobases to RNA” (a rather important step).2

Plausible, Probable, or Preposterous?

If you think this idea seems far-fetched, you are not alone. Despite the lead researcher’s claim that “now we have evidence that says not only that this is plausible but that it’s probable,” many scientists disagree. Other evolutionary scientists have noted a few problems with the research:

  • Fragile organic compounds carried in the meteorite would not survive the impact and the high temperatures associated with it.3

  • The idea that the first step in forming RNA is linking together smaller molecules “was experimentally shown not to work ages ago,” so their premise is flawed.4

  • It doesn’t consider the energy required to create life.5

  • RNA isn’t necessarily the first step to life.6

  • The other key ingredients for RNA weren’t necessarily plentiful.7

One scientist summed it up this way:

Yeah, that’s a possibility, but it’s certainly far, far, far from being the only possibility, and it’s far, far, far from being true.8

“Far, Far, Far from Being True”

This geochemist is right—this “warm little pond” idea is far, far, far from being true. The true origin of life is revealed in the very first verse of the first book of the Bible:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The evolutionary scientists quoted in major news articles on this new study mentioned a variety of problems with the research, but they missed a big one. Even if (and that’s a big if!) you get all the right ingredients for RNA together in the same pond, at the same time, under the right environmental conditions and concentrations to chemically form RNA, you don’t have life! Life requires information, and this proposed formation of random collections of nucleobase strings isn’t information any more than a random string of letters is. It doesn’t mean anything unless there is a preexisting code—a language—to give the sequence meaning. Remember, they’re not even sure how these could form RNA yet, much less DNA, chromosomes, or cells that life requires—each of those being a huge, insurmountable step. And information only comes from other information or an “information giver” (a mind).

Scientists will never discover a naturalistic origin-of-life story that actually works.

Scientists are desperately trying to discover the origin of life to show that evolution is possible (after all, if you can’t get life to begin, it can’t evolve) and that life on other planets is possible. But, no matter where they look and how many imaginary ponds and meteorites they count, scientists will never discover a naturalistic origin-of-life story that actually works. Why? Because life was created by God, fully formed and functioning from the beginning in an environment he suited for it in during Creation Week. There was no “warm little pond” where life magically arose over eons. Life is a gift from the Creator, and we owe him our worship and thanksgiving.


  1. Emily Chung, “Are Meteorites the Origin of Life? ‘Warm Ponds’ Theory Gets a Boost,” CBC News, October 2, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/origin-of-life-warm-ponds-1.4314205.
  2. Marc Montgomery, “Canadian Scientists Propose How Life Began,” Radio Canada International, October 4, 2017, http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2017/10/04/canadian-scientists-propose-how-life-began/.
  3. Michael Marshall, “Life May Have Begun Millions of Years Earlier Than We Thought,” New Scientist, October 2, 2017, https://www.newscientist.com/article/2149168-life-may-have-begun-millions-of-years-earlier-than-we-thought/.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Meghan Bartels, “How Did Life Start? Meteorites Crashing into Darwin’s Warm Little Ponds May Have Been Trigger,” Newsweek, October 2, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/2017/10/27/how-did-life-start-meteorites-crashing-darwins-warm-little-ponds-was-possible-675655.html.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.


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