The Origin of Life: A Problem for Evolution

In the mid 1800s, when Charles Darwin was proposing his theory of evolution, two other scientists were disproving a commonly held notion.

Originally printed in the National Liberty Journal. Reprinted and adapted with permission from Dr DeWitt.

In the mid 1800’s, when Charles Darwin was proposing his theory of evolution, two other scientists were disproving a commonly held notion. At the time, many people believed in spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is the belief that living things can arise from non-living material. According to this view, worms, flies or even mice would simply spring forth from decaying meat, grain or other materials. Scientists of the day had no idea about the complexity of the molecules that make up even the tiniest living thing.

The great scientist Louis Pasteur realized the futility of spontaneous generation. Francesco Redi had demonstrated long before that flies didn’t “arise” from decaying meat but from the eggs that other flies laid on the meat! Pasteur definitively showed that microbes did not arise in a sterile meat broth until and unless other microbes had access to it. He and the great pathologist Rudolf Virchow formulated what later became known as the biogenetic law: Life comes only from life. The implication of this research was that life does not create itself, it required God to create it originally. Both of these Christian men of science were creationists.

The scientific evidence still confirms that life comes only from pre-existing life.

Their results were so compelling that they remained unchallenged for about 50 years. Then, Alexander Oparin, a Russian chemist, proposed that organic molecules coalesced together to form the first living cell in the primordial soup. Such a cell would then go on to evolve into all of the different types of living things on earth today. This renewed version of spontaneous generation was developed in the early years of Soviet Russia which was strongly atheistic. Therefore, Oparin’s theory was the product of an atheistic worldview that excluded God rather than one based on scientific evidence. The scientific evidence still confirms that life comes only from pre-existing life.

Scientists who promote a spontaneous origin of life without a creator begin with the assumption that God does not exist. Then they devise an imaginative scenario whereby molecules come together to form a living being. Since the evolutionists have an “explanation”, they use it to insist that life can arise without God. This is simply circular reasoning

An example is the work of Stanley Miller. In the 1950’s, Miller mixed several gases in an electrical chamber. In the reactions that ensued, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins were produced. While the mere formation of amino acids is hardly the creation of life, nonetheless, Miller’s work was widely acclaimed. Many hailed this as a major breakthrough to show how life could arise spontaneously. However, Miller chose the composition of his starting material and designed the apparatus to make amino acids.

Additional research has shown that the composition of the earth’s atmosphere was never similar to Miller’s apparatus. This seriously calls into question whether the “building blocks of life” could ever be made spontaneously on earth. Increasingly, scientists are finding that destruction of building blocks would be favored over production further supporting the fact that life comes only from life. However, the evolutionist on thinner and thinner ice continues to hold out hope.

With the evidence mounting that life could not arise spontaneously on the earth, more and more evolutionists are reaching to the stars for the answer. Increasingly, secular textbooks raise the possibility that life or the molecules of life were transported via meteorites, comets or asteroids to the earth. Once limited to the realm of science fiction, this possibility is viewed as the only possibility for those who reject a Divine Creator. For them, if life could not originate spontaneously on the earth, then it must have formed somewhere else and then traveled here

For the Christian, the origin of life is not a problem at all. The bible says that God called all plants and animals into existence by his Word. God also made man separately in His image, after His likeness. Even though Adam was made from the dust of the ground, this is not life coming from non-life as evolution suggests. Our God is the Living God, and He gave life to Adam. God is both our Creator and Redeemer through Jesus Christ.

Ed. note: for more information, see Q&A: Origin of Life.

Dr. DeWitt is an associate professor of biology at Liberty University and has been studying Alzheimer’s disease for over 10 years. He is also an adjunct professor at the Institute for Creation Research.


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