The origin of life

I have been having a lot of fun debating the origin of life over at Not PC. Nothing like a bit of good scientific debate to provide a break from my normal science!

Most people assume that life originated in some “primordial soup” way back in the distant past. But this doesn’t work scientifically.

Say we assume that by some fantastic miracle, we got a puddle on the early earth that contained all the building blocks of life – DNA, RNA, protein, lipids etc. We can replicate this by taking a plant and putting it through a blender.

If we leave our blended plant for a while, will we get life forming in this soup? No, the chemicals in it will all break down over time following the laws of chemistry and thermodynamics.

If we put this soup in the sun for a while, giving it the input of energy, will we get life? No, the chemicals will just break down faster. The added energy simply speeds up the processes that must happen. We will get cooked soup. If we are lucky it may be tasty.

On the other hand, if we put the plant in the sun – exactly the same molecules, just organised into a complex structure – it will use the same energy through photosynthesis to grow.

So with a pre-organised system such as the plant, the energy input from the sun can be harnessed to create further order. However the disorganised soup will only become less ordered. There is no known scientific way to get over the hurdle from disorganised soup to organised living tissue, even if you did get a soup of all the right chemicals – which is in itself a chemical impossibility.

But when you present this to an atheist, they generally say something like this:

I’m not sure you wouldn’t get life if you left your blender long enough. Obviously, over the kind of time scales that humans are comfortable with, it’s unlikely that the plant will grow back out of its constituent molecules. However, we don’t know what might happen over hundreds of millions of years, with the addition of random other dust, lightning strikes, etc.

Ultimately, the atheist just ends up having faith. Despite all we know about chemistry and thermodynamics, which clearly states that the molecules in that soup would break down over time (they would actually react with each other and break each other down by the way), they are willing to disregard science and believe that somehow, something happened that science says is completely impossible. Just like in Frankenstein, the lightning hits and bang – the soup comes to life!

That is not rational, scientific logic. That is faith.

Science clearly shows life cannot come from non-life. Louis Pasteur showed this over a century ago, and the more we understand about biochemistry the more his early logic is confirmed. You can therefore conclude scientifically that life must come from life, and therefore the life we have today must have originated from another life.

This is rational. This is logical. This is consistent with the science.

The Christian will then believe through faith that original life was God. But acceptance of God or Christianity is not part of the argument at all, you don’t have to be religious to see that life only comes from life. You may become religious after you realise it though! 🙂

The atheist on the other hand must have faith that our current science is COMPLETELY WRONG! They are not following the science, but rejecting it in favour of some fairytale they hope will be shown in future to be true. All so they can believe in their presupposition that there is no God.

That is a leap of faith I am unwilling to take.