Lesson 6


No discussion of the world as it exists today would be complete without an overview of the origin of life itself. The questions concerning how life began are complex from a scientific viewpoint, but when viewed at the most basic level, it comes down to two questions – "Did life begin by chance?" or Did life begin through the power of a supernatural source?" "How did life itself get started?" is the question that has concerned many scientists, past and present. Even the most diehard evolutionist must come to grasp with the difficulties concerning life arising by chance. There are many theories and explanations given out by philosophers and scientists alike, but life coming from non-living matter has yet to be recreated in any lab or by mankind willing it to happen.


For thousands of years, two world views have dominated thought as to the meaning of the universe and all that we observe within it. The first as expressed in the Bible is...

1) God created the universe, space, time, matter, and life.

The second world view has been perhaps best stated by Carl Sagan in his book ‘Cosmos' and is..

2) "The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be".

It is interesting to note that both world views express the eternal but are opposed in outlook. The first view states that God is eternal, existed before the present universe, and outside of it. The second view states that there is nothing outside the dimensions of space or time, everything that exists is a result of natural forces. The first view is one of design by a higher power, the second is one of random chance.

When considering the origin of life, the same two world views apply. The Bible is constant in its assertion that God is the creator of life. The world however, puts forth the concept that random chance resulted in life.

Lets apply the equations used earlier that express the two world views "mathematically",


Matter + Energy + Information (from God) = LIFE


Matter + Energy + Chance Chemistry = LIFE


To review some of the information covered earlier, in the living world, both plant and animal, we find that all living systems are made up of both hardware and software. Living systems are constructed of elements that are literally found in the non-living "dust of the earth". These elements are connected into the physical form of each living entity. But what makes one entity different from all others? The answer is found in the software of life which is contained within the DNA strands of each molecule of every living system. Remember that earlier in this study, any theory of how creatures "evolved" on the earth had to consider and explain how those changes occurred within the DNA molecule. Science is quite aware that DNA stores an incredible amount of information. In fact, when examined in detail, DNA is the most complex software package known to exist, as recognized in the quote from Bill Gates. DNA stores the information not only for building a living system from ‘scratch' but also the information for the day-to-day operation of that living system.

Just as any theory of the evolution had to explain DNA, any theory on the origin of life must be able to explain not only the origin of life's hardware, but also the origin of the extremely complex coded information found in the DNA strands of all living systems. No computer is able to function without the software that runs it. In like manner, a construct of ‘earth dust' is will not be alive without the software that tells it how to function, both must be present for life to be present.


All living systems use DNA and RNA (RNA is composed of short strands that are only one side of the ‘ladder' structure of DNA) to produce and reproduce the proteins that make up a living creature. DNA itself reproduces itself by the use of approximately 20 different protein enzymes. In a human cell, approximately 6 billion information pairs are reproduced in 15 to 20 minutes. This is more information than is found in most computer programs and is reproduced with incredible accuracy. DNA transfers information to RNA which in turn leads to the manufacture of proteins for both accurately reproducing itself and for the construction and operation of living structures.

Here is the critical point of the preceding paragraph: DNA must be reproduced through the use of proteins, but you can't make proteins without DNA. This is the circular paradox - no proteins without DNA and no DNA without proteins! It brings to mind the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Science has not considered that DNA arose by itself in its complete form. Neither has science properly explained how simple proteins arose by chance and much less so how random simple proteins acted to produce DNA. Keep in mind too, that DNA by itself is not life. Science has yet to produce a viable theory that explains the moment that life came to be.


Possibly the earliest explanation of how life came to be is still the dominant theory today for the scientific community: Spontaneous Generation. What is spontaneous generation (S.G.)? In essence, S.G. says that all of the required elements were by chance put together one day and life happened.

That's what S.G. says, life just happened! This was first proposed by the Greek Philosopher Anaximander, that life arose from mud when exposed to light and that evolved into all life forms. Darwin obviously did not come up with an original idea when he proposed his theory of evolution. In the middle ages, it was believed that life (in the form of molds and fungus) arose from soups and broth's, rats were produced from piles of trash, and that fruit flies arose from fruit. It is easy to see how a middle ages ‘scientist' could believe this as they had no knowledge of DNA or of the microscopic life all around them. Louis Pasture's experiments put an end to the these middle age ideas when he showed what was actually happening with a microscope. He also produced the world's first antibiotic - penicillin.

Darwin in 1859 suggested that life arose in some little pond as a result of sunlight acting on various organic salts. This sounds like Darwin read the Greek Philosophers as it is essentially the same explanation as Anaximander.

In the 1920's new theories about the origin of life were put forth. I.A. Oparin and J. Haldane proposed that long ago, life had arisen from non-life when the atmosphere was very different than today. Ultraviolet light acting on a primitive atmosphere consisting of water, ammonia, and methane, created a dilute soup that contained that building blocks of life.

These building blocks of life are the proteins we call amino acids. All proteins are made up of many amino acids. It must be noted that Mr. Oparin and Mr. Haldane say that all of this happened when the atmosphere was quite different than today. What was missing from that early atmosphere, was oxygen. Consider the importance of oxygen? Oxygen is vitally important to all life on the planet, virtually all life must have it to exist today. However, during the time postulated by Oparin and Haldane, oxygen would have had an interesting effect on non-living proteins - it would have destroyed them. Through the process of oxidation (rusting), oxygen destroys non-living proteins if allowed to act on them.


In 1953, using the theories of Oparin and Haldane, a graduate student named Stanley Miller performed an experiment that caused enormous interest within the scientific community. This and the similar experiments performed after Mr. Miller, are all called ‘Spark and Soup' experiments and are discussed in virtually every biology textbook as evidence for life by random chance. Mr. Miller took a glass flask containing boiling water, ammonia, methane, and hydrogen and caused electric arc between two electrodes inside the flask. The idea was that mixture was ‘similar' to the primitive atmosphere and the electric spark simulated lightning that would add energy to the mixture. He then let the mixture or soup react with the electric spark for a number of days. What was produced was considered to be amazing, a mixture that contained very simple amino acids, the building blocks of life. The scientific community came to the conclusion that HERE IS PROOF! Several went so far as to proclaim this as evidence that random chemistry can produce living systems. The "spark and soup" experiments are still the most important experiments to the scientific community used as evidence to show that life could have and did come from random chance.


Could there possibly be any problems with the conclusions on Mr. Miller's experiment? One must critically examine the results. Mr. Miller's experiment produced the following chemicals - 85% tar, 13% carboxylic acid, two amino acids- 1.05% glycine, 0.85% alanine, and trace amounts of other amino acids and organic compounds. Two amino acids were indeed produced in measurable amounts but there are many issues to be considered before the "spark and soup" experiments can be used as evidence of random chance leading to life. The following list touches on many problems not adequately considered or explained by those who want to use Mr. Miller's experiment as proof of life from chance.....

1) There is NO geochemical evidence anywhere that the primordial soup ever existed. The chemical mixtures used as a starting point are pure theory.

2) There is strong evidence that oxygen was abundant on the early earth. When ultraviolet light acts on water, hydrogen gas and oxygen gas are produced. If oxygen was present was present then no organic compounds would be produced that would last. Another problem is that if there was no oxygen, then there was no ozone layer and too much ultraviolet light hits the earth's surface, also destroying any organic compounds. To quote Michael Denton in "Evolution, a Theory in Crisis" , "Here is a catch 22 situation, if oxygen was present then no organic compounds. If oxygen wasn't present, then no organic compounds".

3) Atmospheric scientists have concluded that if the early atmosphere was made of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen, it would have been destroyed in a few thousand years. Not long enough to generate life.

4) The Miller soup that was created during the experiment is extremely poisonous to living systems (who overlooked this one). Had Stanley drunk the product of his experiment, he would never have been able to publish his results. Amino acids bond far more readily to carboxylic acids than they do to each other. This means that no long chain proteins could have been produced, including and most importantly, DNA.
5) The action of water on amino acids causes them to break down. The water produced in the experiment will destroy the proteins eventually.

6) The issue of "chirality" which will be discussed in depth later. Chirality involves the "left-hand" and "right-hand" nature of amino acids.

There are some in the scientific community who have commented on the absurdity of using "spark and soup" experiments to explain life by random chance. Robert Shapiro, a Ph.D. chemist, in his book "Origins, a Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth", 1986, pg. 105: "Let us sum up, the experiment performed by Miller yielded tar as its most abundant product. There are approximately 50 compounds called ‘building blocks' of life. Only two of the 50 occurred in the soup".

Responding to reports that others had performed the experiment and produced DNA nucleotides, Shapiro went on to say, "Regarding the nucleotides of DNA and RNA, they have never been reported in any amount in these ‘spark and soup' experiments, yet a mythology has emerged that maintains the opposite. I have seen several statements in scientific sources that claim that proteins and nucleic acids themselves have been produced. These errors reflect the operation of an entire belief system. The facts do not support this belief. Such thoughts may be comforting, but they run far ahead of any experimental validation".

Mr. Shapiro brings up two very important facts. First, the amino acids that comprise the letters of the DNA code, have never been produced in any of these experiments. No letters, no code. Second, there is a belief system (or faith) in operation that is affecting the "outcome" of scientific study.

The problems discussed above are only some of the issues against random generation of the proteins that make up living systems. Next we will discuss a huge problem facing the random generation believing community - the subject of chirality.