The Origin of Life
Author: Ian Taylor
1. Throughout history there have always been those who believe that life began on earth by supernatural creation and others who prefer to stick with the naturalistic explanation that life began spontaneously by chance events from non-living matter. The first view, the biblical view, is called biogenesis meaning that life can only come from pre-existing life. The second view is usually ascribed to Aristotle and is referred to as abiogenesis. For the arm- chair naturalist there seemed to be plenty of evidence for abiogenesis: maggots were seen to crawl out of rotting meat or were found, say, inside an apple but more astute observers noted that these maggots were the result of flies having laid eggs so that this life had arisen from pre-existing life. The Darwinian theory of evolution demanded abiogenesis but this was effectively disproven shortly after Darwin had published his theory in 1859 by the French scientist, Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). Pasteur had conducted a series of experiments in aid of the wine industry and had shown that even the air we breathe contained small particles of life referred to then as “germs.” There had long been a theory of germs — life so small that it could not be seen. Some believed it, some did not but we know it today as bacteria. The bacterium is so small that even today it can only just be seen with the most powerful light microscope. In Pasteur’s day they could not be seen. For his experiments Pasteur used a series of glass vessels, each having a long thin goose-neck; each vessel contained a broth of nutrients that was boiled to ensure that it was absolutely sterile. Half the vessels had cotton plugs in their goose-neck, the other half were left open. As the nutrients cooled, room air was pulled into each vessel. Within a few days the clear solution in those vessels without the cotton plug darkened and a mould grew indicating life; the solutions in the other vessels with the cotton plugs and filled with filtered air remained clear and, to this day, some still remain clear in the Pasteur Institute museum indicating that they are still sterile. This experiment was reported in 1861 and dealt a severe blow to Darwin’s fledgling theory. In the wine experiments, Pasteur showed that it was the yeast, a microbe present as a white bloom on the skin of the grape, that was responsible for converting the grape sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid gas. Pasteur firmly believed in Creation and openly used his research results to disprove abiogenesis; this was not popular among the Darwinists and there is evidence to suggest that someone tried to discredit his work with a deliberate hoax. In 1864 a meteorite fell in Orgueil, southwestern France, and it was reported to contain “a complex mixture of high molecular weight” suggesting that it was the remains of once-living organisms while a photomicrograph showed some of the “organized elements.” The notion that life had been “seeded” on earth long ago from outer space was thus started and is in full swing today. In 1961, the “organized elements” turned out to be crystals of troilite or iron sulfide while the “complex mixture” closely resembled that of butter!
2. Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was professor of zoology at Jena University, Germany, and a thorough-going Darwinian. In 1866 he proposed that life on earth began spontaneously on the sea bed; he called the first life cells “monera” and gave a detailed description of these totally hypothetical organisms. The British research vessel H.M.S. Challenger, conducted oceanographic research, mainly with rope and bucket, during the years 1873 to 1876. Mud samples scooped up from the north Atlantic were dropped into bottles of alcohol to preserve any life forms for later study. Upon microscopical examination, a structure was seen that Britain’s Thomas Huxley recognized as Haeckel’s monera. Named Bathybius haeckelli in honor of the great prophet who had boldly foretold its existence. Eight years later, a chemist showed that it was nothing more than an amorphous precipitate of sulfate of lime (gypsum) that forms when sea water is dropped into alcohol! This was in 1876 and that should have been the end of Bathybius haeckelli but the fiasco was never made public and this purported evidence of abiogenesis lasted in textbooks well into this century.
3. Percival Lowell (1855-1916) was a wealthy Bostonian and sold out to Darwinian evolution. In 1877, just one year after the monera fiasco, he was studying in Japan when he read that the Italian astronomer, Schiaparelli, had observed lines, interpreted as canals, on the planet Mars indicating that life existed beyond planet earth. Upon learning of Schiaparelli’s failing eye-sight, Lowell picked up the master’s mantle and quickly had an observatory built at Flagstaff, Arizona, equipping it with the finest 23 inch telescope of the day. Lowell began observing Mars in 1894 and continued until the time of his death in 1916. During these 22 years he produced maps and articles about Mars and named over 700 canals. Some astronomers could see them, others could not while they seemed to shift from year to year. A young British science-fiction writer, H.G.Wells, wrote his highly successful book War of the Worlds (1898) based upon Lowell’s work and this was broadcast as a radio play on October 31, 1938 causing a minor panic among listeners. From the time Lowell first began to promote his intelligent-life-on-Mars thesis until the Viking landers arrived in 1976 — about a century — no one could deny or affirm its truth. The Viking experiments showed conclusively that not only was the planet sterile but there wasn’t the vestige of a canal!
4. Aleksandr Oparin (1894-1980), a Russian biologist and Marxist, proposed in 1923 that the atmosphere of the early earth consisted of methane, ammonia, acetylene, cyanogen and water vapor but no oxygen. He was well aware that for the atmosphere to have always had say, 24% oxygen as it does today, any fortuitous formation of amino acids, the building blocks of life, would have immediately been thwarted by oxidation. He suggested that lightning discharges within this gas mixture would have produced the amino acids necessary for life. His book The Origin of Life appeared in English translation in 1936 and was promoted by British biologist and fellow Marxist, J.B.S.Haldane (1892-1964). No experiments were done to test this theory until 1953 when Stanley Miller, a graduate biochemistry student, built an apparatus that simulated the supposed early earth conditions and in only a week or so produced the amino acids thus nicely demonstrating Oparin’s theory. To this day, Miller’s apparatus can be found in every school textbook as a demonstration that abiogenesis is so simple that it can be carried out quickly and simply in any laboratory. However, as most biochemists know, nothing of the sort has been demonstrated. In the first place, from the Law of Mass Action, the electric spark discharge simulating lightning, breaks down complex molecules faster than they are produced and this required a trap in the apparatus to separate the product (amino acids). There is no such trap in nature. Secondly, the amino acids produced consisted of a 50/50 mixture of right-handed and left-handed molecules whereas as Pasteur showed a century earlier, all life is based upon the left-handed form only. There is no known way that these two forms can be separated in nature. Great advances have been made in biochemistry since Stanley Miller’s experiment and it is acknowledged that while amino acids are relatively simple, molecules such as chlorophyll, chloroplast and cytoplasm must have appeared at the same time and in the same place for all to work together perfectly for the process of photosynthesis. Each one of these components contain thousands of atoms; even one atom out of place or a right-handed molecule would ruin the entire sequence. Even more complex are the DNA and RNA molecules containing millions of atoms that must also have appeared in time and place simultaneously and each in perfection in order to work perfectly together. Finally, although Oparin’s theory and Miller’s experiment are still trotted out in school textbooks, these stand side by side with the environmentalist’s concern for the hole in the ozone layer, a form of oxygen absolutely necessary for the protection of life on earth!\
5. Sir Francis Crick (1916—) British molecular biologist, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule and avowed atheist, cannot accept that time and chance alone would have produced the first living cell abiogenically. Crick had no recourse but to adopt the unprovable life-began-in-outer-space notion earlier proposed by the Swede Svente Arrhenius (1859-1927) in his book Worlds in the Making (1908). Crick’s version of life “seeded on earth millions of years ago” appeared in his book Life Itself published in 1981. Others have added their voices. Britain’s Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 —) and his co-worker mathematician Wickramasinge issued their book, Evolution from Space in 1981. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the television series Star Trek has such a following while the 1983 spin-off movie, ET, was an all-time movie hit.
6. Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at LeHigh University produced his best-selling book Darwin’s Black Box in 1996 and here he makes plain to every reader the extreme complexity of what the Darwinians outwardly regarded as “the simple cell.” Any really objective mind would conclude from Behe’s book that life is the result of design not chance but this then admits to purpose and a Designer. As this has become more evident, the denial by the dedicated Darwinist, such as Richard Dawkins, has become more vehement either outrightly or by clever sophistry. Sir Julian Huxley, biologist and self-confessed atheist, publicly dismissed the evidence of design in 1953 by saying it is more apparent than real. Francisco Ayala in 1972 said, “Teleological explanations cannot be dispensed with in biology; and are therefore distinctive of biology as a natural science.” This would appear to be a Creationist’s statement until one realizes that Ayala was not using the word “teleological” in its normal sense to mean purpose or design but was using it to mean “feedback.” In other words, he was denying purpose. Salvadore Luria invented the word “teleonomy” in 1973 to mean having the appearance of being purposeful. Again, this is a crafty device to appear to be saying what is obvious but meaning just the opposite. Inventing words does not give the doctrine authenticity. We are reminded in Romans 1:20 that God’s hand is evident by the purposiveness and design we see throughout nature. Modern biology, even school textbooks, teach the Law of Biogenesis, that is, that life can only come from antecedent life. Yet, side by side with this, school textbooks will also include the Stanler Miller apparatus. Is it any wonder that students become confused?
7. The Law of Biogenesis is therefore valid and there is a parallel spiritual Law to this that states that eternal life can only come from the eternal life- giver, Jesus Christ. As descendants of Adam everyone of us is born “dead” or still-born and separated from God but 1 John 5:12: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
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