Can Life Arise by Chance?
If there is no Creator, life must have started of itself. Many think that it did. But does increasing knowledge support this view?
ANCIENT Egyptians saw scarab beetles suddenly appear out of the ground, and believed them to be self-produced. The Encyclopedia Americana says: “Tremendous numbers of scarabs were often found on the surface of the mudbanks along the Nile River, and this supported the belief in spontaneous generation.” (Vol. 24, p. 336, 1977 edition) But what really happened? Female beetles rolled up a ball of dung, laid eggs in it, and buried it. The eggs hatched, the larvae fed on the dung, and later emerged as beetles. There was no spontaneous generation after all.
The Greek philosophers taught spontaneous generation of life. In the fifth century B.C.E. both Anaxagoras and Empedocles believed in it. A century later Aristotle thought that worms and snails were products of putrefaction. As late as the 17th century C.E., men of science, such as Francis Bacon and William Harvey, taught spontaneous generation.
However, in that same century Redi showed that maggots appeared in meat only after flies laid eggs on it. Bacteria were discovered, and they were hailed as proof of spontaneous generation, until in the 18th century Spallanzani showed that they came from spores. A century later Pasteur settled matters. He proved that life comes only from life. Men of science now accept that view but many insist that life arose spontaneously some two or three thousand million years ago.
CHEMICAL EVOLUTION, THE LATEST SPECULATION
Many scientists believe that a primitive atmosphere of methane, ammonia, water vapor, carbon dioxide and a few other gases was bombarded by ultraviolet rays, thus breaking the molecules into atoms, which recombined to form amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These and other organic compounds, we are told, agglomerated in water, acquired a membrane and became a living cell; this derived its energy perhaps first from methane, later from fermentation. Still later, it is said, the cell had to “invent” the process of photosynthesis. But could a simple cell really produce and sustain itself in this way? Why, even the finest scientists will admit humbly that they cannot understand photosynthesis completely, much less duplicate it!
Many scientists have theorized that the cell evolved spontaneously in this way. But the pitfalls for their theory are many, and very, very deep!
First pitfall: It is a bold assumption that earth’s primitive atmosphere contained the necessary gases in the right proportions to start the chain of reactions. There is no evidence to support this.
Second pitfall: If such an atmosphere did exist, and if the amino acids were produced, they would be destroyed by the same source of energy that split the methane and ammonia and water vapor. Amino acids are very complex molecules; therefore they are less stable and more easily destroyed—just as it is easier to topple a stack of 10 bricks than a stack of three. Formed high in the atmosphere, such amino acids could hardly survive to reach water on earth, and, if they did, they would not endure here long enough to become concentrated into the “soup” of the evolutionary theory. The following excerpts from an article by Dr. D. E. Hull in the May 28, 1960, scientific magazine Nature confirm this:
“These short lives for decomposition in the atmosphere or ocean clearly preclude the possibility of accumulating useful concentrations of organic compounds over eons of time. . . . the highest admissible value seems hopelessly low as starting material for the spontaneous generation of life. . . . The conclusion from these arguments presents the most serious obstacle, if indeed it is not fatal, to the theory of spontaneous generation. First, thermodynamic calculations predict vanishingly small concentrations of even the simplest organic compounds. Secondly, the reactions that are invoked to synthesize such compounds are seen to be much more effective in decomposing them.”
In an experiment, when scientists subjected a carefully prepared gas mixture to a electrical discharge, a few of the simplest amino acids did accumulate, but only because they were quickly removed from the area. If these amino acids had been left exposed to the discharge, the situation could be compared to what would happen if one man is making bricks and another is hitting them with a hammer as soon as they are formed. It takes several hundred amino acids linked together in correct sequence in a chain to make an average protein, and it takes several hundred different proteins to make the simplest of organisms. So in our analogy of the man making bricks: he must cement together hundreds of bricks in a string, and accumulate hundreds of these strings of hundreds—and do all of this while the other man is wildly swinging his hammer! This is still grossly oversimplified, for it takes much more than a chain of amino acids to make a living organism.
Third pitfall: When amino acids are formed at random they come in two forms that are chemically the same but one is a “right-handed” molecule and the other a “left-handed” molecule. They are all mixed together, in about equal numbers of each kind. But in living organisms only “left-handed” amino acids are used. So returning to our illustration, the man making bricks makes two kinds, red and blue, and accumulates a pile containing millions of bricks, reds and blues mixed together. (Of course, we must assume that the hammer swinger has been eliminated, just as evolutionists assume that the destructive ultraviolet rays have been removed from the action.) Now a monstrous shovel gouges into the pile of millions of red and blue bricks and scoops out several hundred thousand bricks, and, by chance, every one of them is a red brick! In the same way, by chance, every one of the hundreds of thousands of amino acids, and sometimes millions, forming a one-celled living organism must be “left-handed,” even though taken from a mixture containing millions of others that are “right-handed.”
Fourth pitfall: It is not enough to get the right kind in sufficient quantity. Each of the 20 different kinds of amino acids must link up in the protein chain in the correct sequence. If one amino acid is out of place, the organism may be crippled or killed. So the huge shovel must, not only scoop up all red bricks, but also drop each one of them into its proper place!
Fifth pitfall: The cell membrane is formed from membranous tissue. Evolutionists theorize that a film of water around a glob of proteins became a membrane, or that fatty globules enveloped proteins and became a cell membrane. The membrane is extremely complex, made up of sugar, protein and fatty molecules, and governs what substances can or cannot enter and leave the cell. Not all of its intricacies are understood. Bernal says, in The Origin of Life: ‘What we lack still, as mentioned earlier, is a plausible model for the origin of fats.” (Page 145) Without the fats there could be no membrane; without the membrane, no living organisms.
IMPOSSIBILITIES NO DETERRENT
There are literally thousands of pitfalls for the evolutionary theory, en route from a primitive atmosphere, bombarded by lightning or radiation, to a one-celled living organism able to reproduce itself. Every competent scientist knows this. He knows that the many speculations advanced to evade these pitfalls are inadequate. Laws governing energy and matter declare impossible the spontaneous generation of life. Mathematical laws of probability doom its chances.
The simplest known self-reproducing organism (H39 strain of Mycoplasma) has 625 proteins averaging 400 amino acids each. However, some contend that, theoretically, one might get by with 124 such proteins. What are the chances of one of these proteins of 400 “left-handed” amino acids forming from a mixture of both “right-” and “left-handed” ones? One chance in 10120 (1 followed by 120 zeros).
However, for this nonexistent cell 124 proteins are needed. What are the chances of spontaneously forming that many, all from “left-handed” molecules? One chance in 1014,880. But these amino acids cannot be tied together just indiscriminately; they must be in the right sequence. To get these 124 proteins, averaging 400 “left-handed” amino acids each, with the acids in the correct sequence, the chances are 1 in 1079,360. If we wrote out this last number in full (1 followed by 79,360 zeros), it would take about 20 pages of this magazine to do it! Dr. Emil Borel, an authority on probabilities, says that if there is less than a 1 in 1050 chance for something to happen, it will never happen, no matter how much time is allowed. And that number could be written in less than two of these lines.
Prominent evolutionists know the problems. Some try to push them into outer space. British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle said that ‘existing terrestrial theories of the origin of life are highly unsatisfactory for sound chemical reasons,’ and that ‘life did not originate on earth itself but, rather, on comets.’ Others grit their teeth and believe in spite of the lack of evidence. Nobel-Prize-winning biologist Dr. George Wald stated: “One only has to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are—as a result I believe, of spontaneous generation.” On his own admission, he believes in the impossible. This kind of reasoning is comparable to that of an earlier biologist, D. H. Watson, who said that evolution was “universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.”
ARE YOU GULLIBLE OR LOGICAL?
Having no other foundation, writers on evolution stoop to the tyranny of authority: ‘All scientists of consequence believe it; no reputable biologist doubts it; informed persons don’t question it; all intelligent persons accept it; only those with religious prejudice reject it; it has been proved many times over; no further proof is needed now.’ So, on and on go the pressuring and the brainwashing.
You, however, should investigate it for yourself. Then, decide for yourself. Your life could depend on your decision. And consider this: You could jump off a 20-story building. Just before you hit the street a sudden, terrific gust of wind catches you and whisks you back up onto the top of the building. Is that likely? It is very unlikely. Do not count on it. But it is far more likely than that a living organism would form spontaneously! Do not count on that either!
The Bible says at Psalm 36:9: “With you [God] is the source of life.” It is gullible to believe that life arose by chance. It is logical to believe that it was created by an intelligent God, as the following article shows.