How did life begin? How did our planet's amazing variety of animals and plants come into being?
Evolution is touted as the answer, but it breaks down in the face of the scientific evidence. The creation itself reveals a far different story.
How did life begin? Did the earth's vast array of life evolve from nothing? How does inert, lifeless matter become living tissue? What chemical processes transform nonliving substances into living organisms? Can these processes begin spontaneously, or do they require miraculous intervention? Can life be convincingly attributed to a super-natural cause—a Giver of life?
These are fundamental questions for which we need believable answers.
This area is particularly troublesome for those who embrace enthusiasm and the evolutionary explanation for life. Even Richard Dawkins, the die-hard atheistic evolutionist, admits that "the essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale. Whatever is the explanation for life, therefore, it cannot be chance. The true explanation for the existence of life must embody the very antithesis of chance" ( The Blind Watchmaker, p. 317, emphasis added).
Science falls short in providing convincing support for the theory of evolution and life arising from nonliving matter. In spite of years of concerted attempts, solid evidence for the spontaneous generation of life simply does not exist.
The fact remains that no scientific evidence shows that life came from nonliving matter. Attempts to show that life can spontaneously generate from nonlife have instead demonstrated the opposite. In spite of much-hyped headlines to the contrary, when scientists have tried to create the most favorable conditions in controlled laboratory experiments, they haven't come anywhere close. They have managed only to confirm the astronomical odds against life arising spontaneously. It hasn't happened, nor will it ever happen. Life must come from preexisting life. This is a proven law of science.
After the question of the origin of the universe itself and the fine tuning of our planet for life, this is the next big question we must face: How did life get here? Once you establish that the universe had a beginning and did not arise on its own from nothing, it should be obvious that life also did not arise on its own from nonlife.
Atheistic evolutionists, however, insist on proceeding with the idea that life originated by a lucky accident and evolved through purely physical processes of random mutation and natural selection without the aid of an intelligent creator. Their assumed progression from simple life-forms evolving into complex life over billions of years seems to ignore the first issue: How did life emerge from nonlife?
The prebiotic-soup theory
Many have attempted to show how life began by describing a hypothetical distant past. The scene is a description of the newly formed earth gradually cooling, with an atmosphere of simple gases like hydrogen, nitrogen, ammonia and carbon dioxide, with little or no oxygen.
This kind of atmosphere was subject to forms of energy such as electrical discharges from lightning, they say, sparking reactions that formed elementary amino acids, the building blocks of protein. They theorize that compounds must have accumulated until the primitive oceans reached the consistency of a hot, diluted soup. In time, they contend, the compounds developed into DNA chains and finally cells. Somehow life emerged from this prebiotic soup.
Researchers have produced a variety of amino acids and other complex compounds by sending a spark through a mixture of gases. However, try as they may, researchers have not been able to create life. All they have demonstrated is that the chemical components may have been present on earth. They have not even remotely shown that life can emerge from chemicals, even the right chemicals, mixing for an indeterminate period under predetermined conditions.
Intelligent man, with advanced technology, has produced only a tiny handful of the components organisms need to live. But never have we been able to create an organism, much less a living one. Even cloning, a remarkable scientific achievement that regularly makes headlines, utilizes already-existing life. No form of life—not even one living cell, much less something as vastly complicated as a bacterium—has ever been created by concerted human experimentation.
The scientific approach has been backwards. Scientists know life exists, but they assume that no creator, designer or outside intelligence was involved. They then have tried to recreate the most likely scenario under which life, according to their thinking, might have arisen spontaneously. So far, they have managed only to rearrange inert, nonliving matter into other inert, nonliving matter.
That hasn't stopped many in the scientific community from concluding that life spontaneously arose from a prebiotic soup. But they still have not generated—and cannot generate—living matter from nonliving matter.
Life from outer space?
Not all scientists are comfortable basing the origin of life on mere assumptions. Many scientists are deeply troubled by the prebiotic-soup theory for the origin of life. Some admit it is nothing more than a wishful fantasy.
The late biophysicist Francis Crick, an eminent scientist who won the Nobel Prize for helping determine the molecular structure of DNA, rejected this scenario. He wrote: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going" ( Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature, 1981, p. 88).
Admitting that the odds against life arising on earth by chance make it a sheer impossibility, he adopted, as have other noted scientists, a belief in panspermia— the idea that life could not have arisen spontaneously on earth, but sprouted only when microorganisms or spores drifted or were carried to our planet from elsewhere in the universe. Crick suggested that the seeds of life may have been deliberately spread by an extraterrestrial civilization.
The late Sir Fred Hoyle was one of Britain's most famous astrophysicists. He and his colleague, Chandra Wickramasinghe, professor of applied mathematics and astronomy at University College, Cardiff, Wales, computed the odds for all the proteins necessary for life to form by chance in one place, as scientists assume happened on earth. The odds, they determined, were one chance in 10 40,000—the number 1 followed by 40,000 zeroes (enough zeroes to fill almost 15 pages of this publication).
To put that number in perspective, there are only about 10 80 subatomic particles in the entire visible universe. A probability of less than 1 in 10 50 is considered by mathematicians to be a complete impossibility. The possibility of life arising according to the traditional scientific scenario, they concluded, is "an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup" ( Evolution From Space, 1981, p. 24).
Professor Hoyle was forced to conclude that "life could not have originated here on the Earth. Nor does it look as though biological evolution can be explained from within an earthbound theory of life . . . This much can be consolidated by strictly scientific means, by experiment, observation and calculation" ( The Intelligent Universe, 1983, p. 242).
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe conceded the impossibility of the traditional scientific explanation of the origin of life, even writing, "There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence" ( Evolution From Space, p. 148).
Yet unwilling to accept the idea of a life-giving Creator God, they credited lesser superintelligences and also turned to panspermia as the most acceptable explanation for the origin of life on earth. Of course, by itself the notion of panspermia doesn't explain how life arose in the first place; it merely removes the question of the origin of life to some other far-off corner of the universe. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe attribute life to lesser superintelligences, but what intelligent power less than God could devise life with all its complexities and interrelationships and shape the universe to suit life's development?
That such respected and honored scientists—including a Nobel laureate and a man knighted for his scientific accomplishments—would embrace such near-unimaginable speculations emphasizes the impossibility of life's thousands of intricate building blocks emerging through random, undirected processes according to the traditional evolutionary view.
Darwin's explanation for new species
If science cannot explain how life originated, can it explain how new life- forms originated? Charles Darwin simply sidestepped the issue of life's origin by adopting the attitude that "it is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter" (quoted by The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia Vol. 10, p. 900, "Life").
The theory of evolution is widely spoken of as fact—"fact" based on two earlier assumptions: that the universe came from nothing and that life spontaneously generated from lifeless chemicals. Assuming these two are true, evolution then states the case for complex and varied life-forms developing from the cell that sprang to life in a presumed prebiotic soup.
This is where Charles Darwin comes in. Darwin gave life to the idea of evolution by proposing that species continually transform themselves with small changes through the mechanism of natural selection of individual organisms. These small variations, he said, arose by chance and spread by chance. These small changes ultimately influenced reproductive success, and natural selection then was able to pass on the newly crafted advantages to the descendants.
Of course, this scenario has several serious problems. In keeping with the "survival-of-the-fittest" idea that underpins evolution, there must have been pressure for these advantages to be developed. If the particular change (for example, a leg to help a creature move about better on land or a wing to keep it from breaking its neck in a fall) were necessary for survival, then it had to come about rather quickly or else the change could not benefit the creature in question.
Under almost any conceivable circumstance, a half-developed leg on an amphibian or half a wing on a dinosaur puts the animal at a distinct disadvantage in the struggle for survival. Thus that creature and partially developed feature would've been eliminated by Darwin 's principle of natural selection and survival of the fittest and unable to pass that characteristic to future generations.
Darwin's greatest challenge
The fossil record we find outlined in textbooks depicts the varied life-forms, many of which are extinct, that have existed throughout the history of the earth.
The common view of the fossil record is largely a human interpretation used to support Darwin's theory that life developed from simple to complex forms without the assistance of a supernatural cause. You can find charts and pictures in almost any biology book depicting a gradual transition from one species to another—fish to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds and mammals, and so on.
These pictures and charts describe a consistent pattern of simple to complex fossil forms in the earth's strata. But in real-life geology that pattern is not so consistent. The inconsistency between the charts and pictures and what is actually found in the strata is rarely acknowledged in textbooks or popular writings on evolution. So convinced are evolutionists that all life developed from its simplest forms to complex living creatures that they tend to exclude evidence that contradicts their conclusions.
If evolution were the explanation for the teeming variety of life on earth, we would surely find abundant evidence of the incalculable number of intermediary varieties that must have existed. Charles Darwin himself struggled with the fact that the fossil record failed to support his conclusions. "Why," he asked, "if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? . . . Why do we not find them imbedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?" ( The Origin of Species, 1859, Masterpieces of Science edition, 1958, pp. 136-137).
"The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, [must] be truly enormous," he wrote. "Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record" (ibid., pp. 260-261, emphasis added).
Darwin knew his theory had a huge problem. But he was convinced that later discoveries would fill in the abundant gaps where the transitional species on which his theory was based were missing. But now, more than a century and a half later, with few corners of the globe unexplored, what does the fossil record show?
What the fossil record reveals
Niles Eldredge, curator in the department of invertebrates at the American Museum of Natural History and adjunct professor at the City University of New York, is a vigorous supporter of evolution. But he admitted that the fossil record fails to support the traditional evolutionary view.
"No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long," he wrote. "It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change—over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history.
"When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that's how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution" ( Reinventing Darwin: The Great Debate at the High Table of Evolutionary Theory, 1995, p. 95, emphasis added).
The late Harvard University paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould is perhaps today's best-known popular writer on evolution. An ardent evolutionist, he collaborated with Professor Eldredge in proposing alternatives to the traditional view of Darwinism. Like Eldredge, he recognized that the fossil record fundamentally conflicts with Darwin's idea of gradualism.
"The history of most fossil species," he wrote, "includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism:  Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.
" Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors: it appears all at once and 'fully formed'" ("Evolution's Erratic Pace," Natural History, May 1977, pp. 13-14).
Fossils missing in crucial places
Francis Hitching, member of the Prehistoric Society and the Society for Physical Research, also sees problems in using the fossil record to support Darwinism.
"There are about 250,000 different species of fossil plants and animals in the world's museums," he wrote. "This compares with about 1.5 million species known to be alive on Earth today. Given the known rates of evolutionary turnover, it has been estimated that at least 100 times more fossil species have lived than have been discovered . . . But the curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps: the fossils go missing in all the important places.
"When you look for links between major groups of animals, they simply aren't there; at least, not in enough numbers to put their status beyond doubt. Either they don't exist at all, or they are so rare that endless argument goes on about whether a particular fossil is, or isn't, or might be, transitional between this group and that . . .
"There ought to be cabinets full of intermediates—indeed, one would expect the fossils to blend so gently into one another that it would be difficult to tell where the invertebrates ended and the vertebrates began. But this isn't the case. Instead, groups of well-defined, easily classifiable fish jump into the fossil record seemingly from nowhere: mysteriously, suddenly, full-formed, and in a most un-Darwinian way. And before them are maddening, illogical gaps where their ancestors should be" ( The Neck of the Giraffe: Darwin, Evolution and the New Biology, 1982, pp. 9-10, emphasis added).
Paleontology's well-kept secret
What does all this mean? In plain language, if evolution means the gradual change of one kind of organism into another kind, the outstanding characteristic of the fossil record is the absence of evidence for evolution—and abundant evidence to the contrary. The only logical place to find proof for evolutionary theory is in the fossil record. But rather than proof of slow, gradual change over eons of time, the fossils show the opposite.
Professor Eldredge touched on the magnitude of the problem when he admitted that Darwin "essentially invented a new field of scientific inquiry—what is now called 'taphonomy'—to explain why the fossil record is so deficient, so full of gaps, that the predicted patterns of gradual change simply do not emerge" (pp. 95-96, emphasis added).
Professor Gould similarly admitted that the "extreme rarity" of evidence for evolution in the fossil record is "the trade secret of paleontology." He went on to acknowledge that "the evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils" (p. 14, emphasis added).
But do paleontologists share this "trade secret" with others? Hardly. "Reading popular or even textbook introductions to evolution, . . . you might hardly guess that they [fossil gaps] exist, so glibly and confidently do most authors slide through them. In the absence of fossil evidence, they write what have been termed 'just so' stories. A suitable mutation just happened to take place at the crucial moment, and hey presto, a new stage of evolution was reached" (Hitching, pp. 12-13).
University of California law professor Phillip Johnson has approached the evidence for and against evolution as he would approach evidence in a legal proceeding. Regarding evolutionists' misrepresentation of that evidence, he writes:
"Just about everyone who took a college biology course during the last sixty years or so has been led to believe that the fossil record was a bulwark of support for the classic Darwinian thesis, not a liability that had to be explained away . . . The fossil record shows a consistent pattern of sudden appearance followed by a stasis, that life's history is more a story of variation around a set of basic designs than one of accumulating improvement, that extinction has been predominantly by catastrophe rather than gradual obsolescence, and that orthodox interpretation of the fossil record often owe more to Darwinist preconception than to the evidence itself. Paleontologists seem to have thought it their duty to protect the rest of us from the erroneous conclusions we might have drawn if we had known the actual state of the evidence" ( Darwin on Trial, 1993, pp. 58-59).
The secret that evolutionists don't want revealed is that, even by their own interpretations, the fossil record shows fully formed species appearing for a time and then disappearing without having changed in between. Other species appeared at other times before they, too, disappeared with little or no change. The fossil record simply does not support the central thesis of Darwinism, that species slowly and gradually changed from one form to another.
Fact or interesting observations?
Professor Johnson noted that "Darwinists consider evolution to be a fact, not just a theory, because it provides a satisfying explanation for the pattern of relationship linking all living creatures—a pattern so identified in their minds with what they consider to be the necessary cause of the pattern—descent with modification—that, to them, biological relationship means evolutionary relationship" (p. 63, emphasis in original).
The deceptive, smoke-and-mirror language of evolution revolves largely around the classification of living species. Darwinists attempt to explain natural relationships they observe in the animal and plant world by categorizing animal and plant life according to physical similarities. It could be said that Darwin's theory is nothing more than educated observance of the obvious—that is, the conclusion that most animals appear to be related to one another because most animals have one or more characteristics in common.
For instance, you might have a superficial classification of whales, penguins and sharks in a group together as aquatic animals. You might also have birds, bats and bees grouped as flying creatures. These are not the final classifications because there are many other obvious differences. The Darwinist approach, however, is to use the obvious general similarities to show, not that animals were merely alike in many ways, but that they were related to one another by common ancestors.
Professor Johnson expressed it this way: " Darwin proposed a naturalistic explanation for the essentialist features of the living world that was so stunning in its logical appeal that it conquered the scientific world even while doubts remained about some important parts of his theory. He theorized that the discontinuous groups of the living world were the descendants of long-extinct common ancestors. Relatively closely related groups (like reptiles, birds, and mammals) shared a relatively recent common ancestor; all vertebrates shared a more ancient common ancestor; and all animals shared a still more ancient common ancestor. He then proposed that the ancestors must have been linked to their descendants by long chains of transitional intermediates, also extinct" (p. 64).
Evolutionists choose to dwell on similarities rather than differences. By doing so, they lead people away from the truth of the matter—that similarities are evidence of a common Designer behind the structure and function of the life-forms. Each species of animal was created and designed to exist and thrive in a particular way. Darwin and the subsequent proponents of the evolutionary view of life focused on similarities within the major classifications of animals and drew the assumption that those similarities prove that all animals are related to one another through common ancestors.
However, we see clear and major differences in the life-forms on earth. If, as evolution supposes, all life-forms had common ancestors and chains of intermediates linking those ancestors, the fossil record should overflow with many such intermediate forms between species. But as we have already seen, paleontologists themselves admit it shows no such thing.
The biblical creation epic
As noted earlier, life demands a lifegiver. Scientists call this the law of biogenesis, the scientifically verified fact that life can come only from life. Evolution asserts that we and our world are the result of random, mindless chance, the culmination of a series of lucky accidents. The Bible presents a different picture: A Lifegiver created life on earth for a purpose in a way that is vastly different from the scenario espoused by evolutionists. Who is the Lifegiver? What is His purpose?
In this publication we pay particular attention to the biblical side of the story on these crucial subjects. The problem isn't that scientists cannot discover the answer. The problem is that most have simply been unwilling to seriously consider that the Bible might be a reliable foundation for basic human knowledge and a dependable source of answers for the enormously important questions of life.
Let's start at the beginning of the book of Genesis. Chapter 1 first briefly describes the creation of the heavens and the earth along with the appearance of light and of dry land.
The Bible next records the creation of biological life on our planet. From the beginning, living things were divided into broad classifications, each reproducing according to its own kind (or, broadly speaking, species), with reproductive potential only within its kind.
Here we see a scientific fact that scientists acknowledge: Animals reproduce only within their own species, or kind. Species, in fact, are defined by whether the animals can successfully interbreed with each other. According to the Bible, the major species were all created after their own kind. They did not evolve one into another. (However, it may be that a particular "kind" today is represented by more than one species according to modern classification—so that all the species of a particular genus or even family grouping could possibly constitute the same biblical "kind.")
God evidently allowed broad genetic potential within the biblically defined kinds or species, as anyone can see by looking at the sizes, shapes, colors and other characteristics of dogs, cats, cattle, chickens and even our fellow human beings. For centuries people have used species' genetic diversity to breed animals that produce more meat, milk or wool and strains of wheat, corn and rice that yield more food. But the genetic potential for those variations was built into the original
"Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed [potential for life] is in itself, on the earth'; and it was so" (verse 11). Clearly the biblical point of view is that God is the Creator of life. He set in motion a process by which life produces yet more life.
Verse 21 plainly tells us that "God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves" in the waters of the sea. In verse 24 the Creator says, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind." Then verses 26-27 tell us of the origin of human life.
We should pay special attention to the creation of the first man. Genesis:2:7 says, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground [from nonliving matter], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." So the biblical explanation is that human life came directly from God. Genesis explains that God is, in fact, the source of all life.
The life of God
The Bible reveals much more about the Giver of life. It attests that He "has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Timothy:6:16). Jesus Christ tells us, "For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself" (John:5:26).
Here and in the book of Genesis we find verification of the most basic law of biogenesis: Life can come only from preexisting life. Life comes only from something already living, not from inert, dead matter. God, having eternal life in Himself, is the original Lifegiver.
The Bible also reveals that God has always existed. He "inhabits eternity" (Isaiah:57:15). Humanly, we find it difficult to grasp this concept. To us it seems natural for everything to have a beginning and an end. But some things are simply beyond our grasp. Here is where God wants us to rely on His Word, to accept what He reveals and reflect on how incredibly limited we are in comparison to Him (Isaiah:40:25-26, 28; 46:9-10; 55:8-9).
The Scriptures tell us, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" (Hebrews:11:3). The materials at hand that are taken for granted in evolutionary theory were simply not present to start with. God does not explain how He created the heavens and earth, only that He did. He gives us ample evidence in other areas that His Word, the Bible, is true. He wants us to take Him at His word.
Imparting spirit life to others
Again, only God, who possesses life everlasting, can create new forms of life, whether they be physical or something far greater. He is the source of life.
From God's vantage point, far more important than His creation of biological life is that He is in the process of creating new spirit life—among His called and chosen human servants. John wrote that "He who has the Son has [eternal] life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have [eternal] life" (1 John:5:12).
The apostle Paul reminded a young evangelist that Jesus Christ "has abolished death and brought [eternal] life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy:1:10). Human beings, who have a physical life averaging about 70 years (Psalm:90:10), have the opportunity to live forever. Paul wrote about the "hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus:1:2). He taught that faithful students of Christ have "become heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus:3:7).
The Giver of life first gave man physical life, as we read in the first two chapters of Genesis. Like the animals, man can and does die (Hebrews:9:27). But unlike animals, man was created with the potential to attain eternal life. When you understand that God is the Lifegiver who created man for His own special purpose, with the potential of immortality, life takes on meaning far greater than the empty purposelessness inherent in a faith in evolution.