Rapid Response: Science Can Explain the Origin of Life Without God

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “Christians say that God is the creator of life, but science has demonstrated that God is not necessary for life to originate in the universe.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:

“Detectives ask the classic investigative questions when conducting an investigation. You know, the what, where, when, how, and why questions.  If you ask those same questions about how life began in the universe, you’ll discover a number of serious problems when trying to account for the origin of life in our universe unless, of course, we concede an intelligent creator.

For example, if you ask, “Where could life have originated?” you’ll find that no one seems to agree. Scientists have tried to imagine scenarios in the oceans, or on land, or in the atmosphere, or under the tectonic plates, or even in space.  Every one of these locations is inadequate to host the origin of life, largely because there’s a “chicken-and-egg problem.”

You need microscopic, molecular machines called “ribosomes” to build proteins from amino acids, but these biological machines themselves are built from proteins. Which came first? The Ribosome machine required to build proteins, or the proteins that built the ribosome machine? There’s a chicken-and-egg problem at the most foundational level of life.

But there’s also a when problem. When did life first emerge?

Even scientists who reject a Creator in favor of some combination of evolutionary process admit that life appears very early on planet earth, and then inexplicably explodes in diversity at the Cambrian Explosion. There simply isn’t enough time, unless a Creator intervenes, for life to emerge on earth in the complex way that it has.

There’s also a problem with the how question.

It turns out that the origin of life is driven less by physics and chemistry than it is by information.  The information in the genome provides a complex set of instructions that guides the formation of proteins used to build the micro-machines found in living organisms. That’s right, DNA contains information, and that poses a problem for those who deny the existence of a Creator. As Dr. Stephen C. Meyer observes, there isn’t a single example anywhere in the history of science (or the history of the universe for that matter) in which information comes from anything other than an intelligent source.

So, while scientists have been asking the what, where, when, how, and why questions without discovering satisfying answers, the one question they seem unwilling to ask is the who question.  A who, however, is the answer they’ve been missing all along: a Divine Mind who is the source of information in DNA and the creator of life in our universe.”

A ‘who,’ however, is the answer they’ve been missing all along: a Divine Mind who is the source of information in DNA and the creator of life in our universe
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This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

For more information about the scientific and philosophical evidence pointing to a Divine Creator, please read God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe. This book employs a simple crime scene strategy to investigate eight pieces of evidence in the universe to determine the most reasonable explanation. The book is accompanied by an eight-session God’s Crime Scene DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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