Bacteria and the Origin of Life, by Landon Freeman

Landon Freeman

[Editorial note: Landon Freeman is one of my bright young internet friends. He wrote this very compelling essay on a subject that interests me quite a bit, and gave me permission to share it here.]

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Landon Freeman is a native Georgian who currently studies psychology at Georgia Southwestern State University. He has been interested in the creation-evolution debate for several years now and runs the Facebook group “Evidence for Creation”, which discusses a variety of topics related to creationism and evolution. When not discussing the topic of creation online, Landon can usually be found writing, listening to music, or playing video games.

When discussing the hypothesis of abiogenesis, I’m astounded to see that many atheists and evolutionists act as if it’s a given that life evolved through purely naturalistic processes, and that life wouldn’t have much trouble getting started.

There are several issues with abiogenesis, though the one I’m going to discuss is the problem of not only functional, operating organisms arising from non-living matter, but intelligence arising as well. Indeed, even allegedly simple bacteria display intelligence and foresight.

An article from NewScientist states and provides evidence that microbes can communicate with each other, make decisions, form communities, and even accelerate mutations to gain new abilities. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17390-why-microbes-are-smarter-than-you-thought/

The issue here is bacteria have been living since not long after life began. Life allegedly began around at least 3.5 billion years ago, and the earliest bacteria fossils are allegedly, “3.77 billion years or 4.22 billion years — just 340 million years after the formation of the planet.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/science/earths-oldest-bacteria-fossils.html

This means that both biological intricacy and intelligence would have to arise within a very short time frame. Bacteria are even able to “see” using an “eye” similar to an animal or human eye, which means the basic workings of these miniature light collectors may not be so different from those of cameras or the human eye, researchers claim.

“The idea that bacteria can see their world in basically the same way that we do is pretty exciting,” study lead author Conrad Mullineaux, a microbiologist at the Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement. “Our observation that bacteria are optical objects is pretty obvious with hindsight, but we never thought of it until we saw it. And no one else noticed it before either, despite the fact that scientists have been looking at bacteria under microscopes for the last 340 years.” https://www.livescience.com/53670-bacterial-slime-can-see.html

Even viruses display intelligence, and they aren’t even considered living organisms by many scientists, though some do consider viruses to be alive. One article states that: “Viruses are very intelligent. They can think. They do things that we do not expect. They adapt to the environment. They change themselves in order to survive,” said Lai, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Part of this comes from the ability of viruses to shuffle genes with as much deft as some genetic engineers. Viruses can pick up pieces of cellular genes or incorporate their genes into the cell’s genome. That means that evolution occurs all the time in viruses. It’s a very dynamic process – that’s why I always feel that the viruses are alive.” https://news.usc.edu/9791/researcher-teases-out-secrets-from-surprisingly-intelligent-viruses/

Another study on viruses determined that: “What has confounded the virology community for quite some time is the observation that the cell fate of a bacteria infected by a single virus can be dramatically different than that infected by two viruses,” said Joshua Weitz, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Our study suggests that viruses can collectively decide whether or not to kill a host, and that individual viruses ‘talk’ to each other as a result of interactions between viral genomes and viral proteins they direct the infected host to produce.” http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/bacteria-virus.htm

Through analyzing the available evidence, it is very reasonable to conclude that viruses, bacteria, and life in general were not the product of completely naturalistic processes, and that some entity had to be involved in life’s initial creation. Of course, we know this entity as God, the Creator of life and all of the universe.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory, honor, and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” -Revelation 4:11

Evolution and the origin of life: analysis by C. W. Bobbitt, PhD

southernprose_cover_CAFGThis article written by (retired) Professor Charles W. Bobbitt explains his interpretations of the evidence that may explain the origin of life and the origin of species currently available to the scientific community. Only minor formatting changes have been made to improve its readability.

Professor Bobbitt’s thoughts regarding the origin of the universe and the Big Bang theory were published earlier here at southernprose.com.

Since my book inspired the beginning of our conversation, I am taking the opportunity for shameless self promotion, perhaps even to sell a couple of books in the process.

The original plan was to publish a photo of Professor Bobbitt with a short biography describing his background and academic credentials, but apparently our wires have gotten crossed, and the article has been ready to be published for several days.

As always, reader comments are welcomed.

[Special thanks to Joel Washburn for his expert assistance resolving a rather puzzling and difficult technical problem that prohibited earlier publication of this piece.]

A FRESH LOOK AT THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF LIFE ON EARTH

C.W. Bobbitt, PhD

© Copyright 2014, C.W. Bobbitt

In a sense, both Darwin and Wickramasinghe/Hoyle were right in their suggestions as to how life on earth began, as will be shown in this hypothesis; but first, let us make a few remarks to serve as a framework for this presentation, in order to avoid unnecessary and unproductive conflict.

Mortal man has been endowed with an insatiable curiosity. He wants to know things simply because they are presently unknown to him; he is driven by a need to ask questions and to energetically, even relentlessly, seek answers which sometimes come to his own dismay.

Man is of two natures, mortal and spiritual. His mortal world is bounded by his intelligence, his understanding, and his comprehension, which things direct his curiosity toward scientific inquiry. His spiritual nature leads him to look with awe upon the universe he lives in and to yearn for a faith relationship with the Power that made his world and himself.

With regard to the universe, the earth and life— their presence in our awareness— the mortal man asks “how did these things come to be?” while the spiritual man asks “why did these things come to be, to what purpose?” For this latter man, the man of faith, the answer is straightforward: the Lord God made all that is, made it for his own purposes, and there is no need for one to be overly concerned with the how of it.

But God is mysterious, His ways are mysterious, and it is not for man to know the mind of God; and while our relationship with God is spiritual, our curiosity is human, and even for those of great faith this aspect of our nature will move us inexorably in the direction of scientific inquiry because that is where we must go to find the answers we seek.

We should always be aware that our understanding of the relationship of the universe to God, and the relationship of the universe to science are two entirely separate matters, and each legitimately can be, and properly should be, studied without consideration of the other. With this understanding, then, let us first take a scientific view of the subject at hand; that is, the origin and development of life on earth.

In this day there are two major theses put forth to explain the origin of life on earth. Spontaneous generation presents the idea that first life appeared through a series of fortuitous interactions between various inanimate materials of the earth, over a long period of time. This approach is commonly associated with the name of Charles Darwin and, to some extent, Darwinian Theory.

The second notion of how life appeared on earth is given by a process known as panspermia, which holds that “seeds of life” exist throughout the universe and will provide the initiation of life whenever and wherever they encounter life-favorable conditions. This idea has been promoted in recent times by Wickramasinghe and Hoyle.

Both of these explanations are alive and well with enthusiastic followings; scientific laboratory activity has increased with the aim of creating life and possibly duplicating spontaneous generation, while the interest in panspermia has contributed to the formation of the new discipline of Astrobiology.   But we must ask the question “are these two the only options we may consider with regard to the origin of life on earth?” A little reflection will show that we actually have three options:

  1. Living matter arose spontaneously from non-living matter of the earth.
  2. The potential for life (spore-like) blew in from outer space.
  3. The potential for life was present in the material which formed the earth.

Since the hypotheses are well established for the first two options, let us look to developing a hypothesis for the third.

The process of forming the solar system, hence the earth, took place over a period of perhaps several hundred million years. Artists’ depictions of this period usually show the developing earth as a fiery ball of molten matter, thus apparently indoctrinating the entire world community to the notion that the potential for life on earth could not exist until the earth cooled and became a mature planet in the sense of having life- favorable regions. It is just this notion that we wish to examine more closely, in relation to the third option mentioned above.

A digression is necessary here to say more about the “seeds of life” referred to in the discussion of panspermia. Accepting the nebula hypothesis as the method of solar system formation, which states that the solar system was formed from a large gaseous cloud, we postulate that a significant number of the dust particles in the source molecular cloud were in fact seeds of life, which here require some explanation.

Throughout the time and space of the universe there have always been discrete pieces of matter ranging in size from hydrogen atoms (and smaller) to supergiant stars. Atoms, molecules and microscopic aggregates of molecules called dust particles collect into large gaseous clouds between stars, perhaps 5 to 10 trillion miles across—some more, some less—and provide an environment for atomic/molecular bonding to build a variety of complex molecular structures. Some of these gaseous regions have an abundance of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen; and lesser amounts of other elements. These elemental particles in their random motions will strike each other repeatedly, as gas particles do, and eventually form chemical bonds according to the appropriate laws of combination to produce molecules such as amino acids, water, ammonia and methane. Over time additional bonding will take place leading to large aggregates of a variety of atoms and molecules; perhaps even proteins will be formed in an early stage.

We are now in a position to express a hypothesis with regard to the seeds of life: by some means presently unknown to us these aggregates of atoms acquire a sturdy sheath which serves the purpose of providing both a boundary that defines a system, and a means of survival in the harsh environment of cold outer space. The system contained within a sheath comprises a very large number of atoms which can assume a very large number of configurations, each with some degree of stability. Certain ones of these enclosed systems contain proper proportions of essential atoms such that the systems can eventually attain one or more configurations that match that of a living cell ; these are the systems we will refer to as “seeds of life”, or, more conveniently, protocells, since they are precursors of living cells. Protocells are not living systems, but will develop into such under favorable conditions of environment and time.

As a prelude to our consideration of life on earth, let us briefly consider how our solar system was formed from a very large gaseous cloud in the Milky Way galaxy: some perturbation gave rise to a center of gravitational attraction (a larger mass) in the interior of the cloud which drew in the surrounding gas particles, thus causing the mass to grow even larger and increasing its gravitational pull. This action was in fact the birth of a new star which would become our sun. The gas cloud around this protostar would succumb to its gravitational pull for a distance of perhaps a light year or more, and would contain in its roughly spherical region of influence (a globule) all the mass which would eventually make up our solar system. This gaseous mass field was held to the protostar by gravity and had a rotational component about it derived from the rotational motion of the galaxy and perhaps some other more local influences. These two effects caused the globule to assume the shape of a flattened disc with a large central mass.  The tangential velocity component of the individual mass particles about this central mass would cause them to orbit the protostar at appropriate radii thereby placing it (the protostar) at the center of an accretion disc, so-called because of the way the planets were formed: the small particles would bump and sometimes stick together, gradually building a body of significant gravitational force such that the mass in a wide swath on either side of the growing planet-to-be would be drawn in to add to the protoplanet’s mass and clear the annular space about its orbit of most of the matter in that space. Each of the future planets would be built in a similar fashion; the rocky inner planets and the gaseous outer ones.

Going back now to the proposition that protocells were a significant fraction of the cloud region that produced our solar system, we can readily see that the protocells were ubiquitous in the accretion disc, and although most of the mass would go into forming the sun, there were plenty of protocells to be a part of the planets over their long period of development from states of hot to cool. At some point in the development of the earth the accretion process ended, the planet became largely habitable to elementary life forms, and the viable protocells which were locked in the earth’s crust had, because of the warm environment, reconfigured themselves (or were still in the process of reconfiguration) to now contain the essential ingredients of living cells (i.e., RNA, DNA, proteins, enzymes, lipids, etc.), and when freed from their constraints into a life-favorable environment would become living cells and produce distinct species of life. (It has been reported that some organisms, archaea, have become living species even while locked in granite.)

Eventually a time would be reached at which we would consider the earth fully formed, a time (t0) at which we would start counting the age of the earth, a time when it had cooled and viable protocells were more than plentiful throughout its crust, waiting to be freed for development. Actually, for those protocells whose contents had metamorphosed to the configuration of healthy living cells, it is now appropriate to refer to them as dormant living cells, where “dormant” implies that they can exist indefinitely within their constraints, continually metamorphosing until such time as they are freed by some external action to develop into their prescribed life forms.

As time passed, the earth would develop oceans and atmosphere favorable to life, so that any cell awake from its dormancy, and being now a normal living cell, would grow to establish its own unique species. First life would probably be bacteria, archaea and other extremophiles. As a point of interest, we note a close parallel between survivability patterns of the dormant cell and the bacteria spores reported by Cano and Borucki at California Polytechnic State University, where “they were able to reactivate spores from the digestive tracts of bees that had been entombed in amber for 25 to 40 million years.” This gives some encouragement that dormant cells could survive for several billion years.

With the continuing passage of time, more cells are released from their constraints and develop lives governed by their genetic codes and their surroundings. Each step forward would enhance the food chain and provide increasing diversity of matter for metabolism.

It was postulated earlier that a protocell—now a dormant cell—must have the ability to metamorphose internally; that is, to experience changes in its genetic makeup as time goes by, with no interaction with its environment. All dormant cells will follow this propensity to change—a process which is properly termed internal evolution. It hardly seems appropriate to think of this change as transmutation of species since all the action has been contained within the cell. When the cell produces its corresponding mature organism, it will be a unique species with specific defining attributes, and any changes it experiences will be variations.

Over the mega years, dormant cells were released to favorable living conditions as they occurred, by some physical action such as erosion or catastrophe, and having evolved continuously from the beginning, yielded progressively advanced life forms. We can readily imagine a global cataclysm which gives rise to a profusion of cells, perhaps in an earth-girdling cloud, and when conditions return to a state of life-favorable, produces a veritable “explosion” of new life forms. The fossil record indicates that one such event took place more than a half-billion years ago in what is referred to as the “Cambrian” explosion.

In view of the rate at which catastrophic events are taking place in the present age, it cannot be doubted that such events have been taking place since the birth of the planet. We would expect most of these events to have been regional or local in nature, with relatively few being of global proportions, but even for these largest events, leading to mass extinctions, we would expect some few species to survive the catastrophe and continue on for an extended period of time. For those events which led to the release of healthy dormant cells producing new species, there would follow a period of coexistence of primitive and advanced life forms, relatively speaking. By this irregular cycle of progression, life moved on and distinct new species appeared. Thus we see how the variety and abundance of flora and fauna existing on earth today came to be.

As an aside, it is not unreasonable to assume that the appearance of new species can be represented by an erratic, discontinuous variation superposed on a smooth curve of exponential decay, on the premise that the rate of appearance of new species is proportional to the number of dormant cells remaining in the earth.

It is interesting to note how this model of the origin of life on earth relates to what has gone before:

  1. The model was founded on a form of panspermia (called pseudo-panspermia).
  2. It displays somewhat the appearance of spontaneous generation.
  3. It fits smoothly the theory of punctuated equilibria of Gould and Eldredge.
  4. It tacitly denies transmutation of species.

Considerations of testability

The obvious test of the preceding hypothesis is a search for evidence of cells still locked in the material of the earth, cells which did not survive to grow but have maintained their identity. This search should start with an examination of pre-Cambrian rock that has not been altered with the passage of time, but should include later rock as well. If specimens can be found in a sequence of progressively younger rock, there is a possibility of verifying the concept of internal evolution.

Additionally, tests can be made on promising rock samples to determine if viable dormant cells exist in this present time. By way of example, a crushed and powdered sample from a region that is known to have produced much life in the past (as judged from the fossil record) might be suspended in some life-friendly solution and checked periodically for signs of life. Preposterous as this test might seem, it should have, at any rate, a somewhat better chance of success than experimental efforts which seek to create life in the laboratory.

From one point of view, this attempt to discover viable dormant cells might not be as far-fetched as it appears. Consider this: from the beginning of recorded history there have been stories, commonly relegated to folklore, of strange never-before-seen creatures whose sudden appearance would shock and often terrorize local populations. Typically, there would be many sightings reported, but little if any credible evidence forthcoming. In this present day, numerous such creatures are being investigated by various means, the most prominent and compelling of which are the Loch Ness monster and Sasquatch (Bigfoot). Whether they are real or imaginary, both of these apparitions have counterparts of world-wide distribution. It is noted that this hypothesis of origins allows for the reality of these creatures.

A final test is suggested as the examination of the fossil record in the light of this hy­pothesis. There will be, of course, some direct correspondence between the two since the hypothesis was formulated in part by the author’s more or less casual acquaintance with the fossil record, but the tremendous store of knowledge possessed by the paleontological community will allow a detailed evaluation leading to a clear demonstration of the compatibility of hypothesis and record, or lack thereof.

A systematic look at the development of life in conformity with the internal evolution hy­pothesis

Let us begin by noting that as the solar system developed, there was a time at which the earth is deemed to have been completely formed. From that point, designated as t0, we start counting the age of the earth. We expect that the protocells have adjusted to become the dormant living cells which will ultimately give rise to all life on earth.

Since both the protocells and the earth are of finite size, it follows that the cells which are bound in the earth are finite in number. We will designate this number by the letter N. We allow that there is a variety of cells of different kinds which we group according to kind: a number of like cells n1 in group G1, a number of like cells n2 in group G2, and so on. We will indicate the total number of groups by the letter r, which will have a value between 1 (all cells alike) and N (all cells different).

To get an understanding of how life develops on earth, let us, for simplicity, look at just one group and follow its action as the earth ages. All other groups will behave in a similar manner. Consider, then, the group G1 which initially contains n1 dormant cells, scattered haphazardly throughout the earth (as are the cells of all the other groups). Due to some disturbance such as an earthquake, the first of these cells in the number n1 will be freed of their constraints to develop normally. If the environment is hostile, the cells will die, but if it is favorable, the cells will mature into the first species of their group. The time in the age of the earth at which this favorable event takes place will be designated as t1, and marks the time of the first appearance of a species from group G1.

At some later time t2 another earth disturbing event will take place and release more cells from group G1 to a life-friendly environment in which they will grow into mature organisms. If the time from t1 to t2 is sufficiently long (perhaps several million years) so that internal transmutation has occurred, a new species will be produced; otherwise, the organism will be the same as at time t1. In this fashion, the cells of group G1 will continue to produce new species, even up to the present time, or until the supply of cells is depleted, whichever comes first.

As mentioned before, all the groups Gi (i=1,2,…r) will develop in a similar way. For some earth disturbing events, many species will be produced at the same time; for other events, more local, species may appear singly, or in small numbers.

The groups Gi may be ordered on the basis of differences in the cells of the several groups. While we do not know specifically what these differences are, we can make some general observations which will be useful.

Of two cell groups Gi and Gj (i,j=1,2,…r), one group will be superior to the other according to some criterion or criteria, which might include internal complexity, internal evolution rate, potential for brain development, and other. Let us imagine the cell groups to be arranged in successive columns in order of increasing “superiority” of the groups under the headings Gi in the following way:

G1             G2             .                 .                 Gr

Under each heading will be the elements of that column, and these elements will represent the species which derive from that particular set of cells. The elements of all the columns will form rows and thereby yield a matrix of species of life forms. By choosing the downward axis to be time measured from t0, the time of earth formation, we can establish each row as the time at which one or more species appears on earth. If we identify a species by the letter S, and use subscripts i and j to designate its time of appearance and its group, respectively, we obtain a matrix which displays all the species Sij ever to have appeared from the cells locked in the earth, and even shows their times of appearance, at least in a relative way. The all inclusive species matrix will look like this:

 

G1       G2        .           .           Gr

t1       (  S11        S12           .                 .                 S1r   ) 

t2     (  S21       S22           .                 .                 S2r  ) 

.       (    .           .           .           .           .      .      )

.       (    .           .           .           .           .       .     )

tk     (  Sk1         Sk2           .                 .                Skr   )

 

Note that these matrix elements ij represent species which emerged at the corresponding time ti; the matrix does not indicate the overlapping of two species from a given group which might coexist at a particular time. Note also that some (indeed, probably many) of the matrix element positions can be empty, indicating that at any specific time there might be species arising from some but not all the groups. The last row of the matrix, tk, shows the most recent species to have appeared on the earth. In the absence of additional panspermia, and disallowing spontaneous generation (in the Darwinian sense), the elements Sij of this matrix display all the life which ever existed on earth, including that presently active.

Let us now fix our attention on the highest ordered group, Gr, the group which we deem “superior” to all the others. At any time, the organisms arising from this group will be “superior” to those of all the other existing groups, with perhaps rare exceptions. Looking back into time from the present, we can see the characteristics which make this group superior: the appearance of mammalia, opposed thumb, bipedal locomotion, erect posture, large brain, and others. Some of these characteristics might be found in a few groups immediately below this highest one, e.g.; G(r-1), but the group Gr remains unquestionably above all the others.

At some recent time (relative to the age of the earth), there emerged from group Gr a creature that we regard to be the most advanced organism on the planet. This is the creature that H. G. Wells, in his book The Outline of History (Vol. 1), described as “true man”, of the species Homo sapiens, and in most respects, including all outward appearances, indistinguishable from man of today.

A small digression is in order at this point. It may have occurred to the reader that the things we have been talking about—the development of life on earth, its flora and fauna, its catastrophes, and, by implication, its beauty and grandeur—all can be summed up in the one word nature. From species development to weather and terrain, everything has followed a cause and effect progression. For this reason, it is proper to refer to all living creatures as animals, especially the mammalia, and in particular, the recently mentioned H. sapiens. (See philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality for an excellent description of this “natural” man.)

Returning now to our main theme, we note that after hundreds of millions of years, nature has produced an animal which is far superior in many respects to its nearest “competitor”. We also note that this creature, like all other animals, is amoral, a condition which makes him significantly different from man of today. Let us consider the question: what is this difference, and how did it come to be?

Man’s spiritual view of his origin

At some point in the development of life on earth (or as we might say, “in the fullness of time”), there appeared on the scene a creature which was different from all others.   He looked like H. sapiens and had the physical senses of most animals—sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste— but in addition, he had many other non-physical senses that were mostly absent in the animals, and especially in the first H. sapiens. These additional senses included morality, responsibility, conscience, compassion, justice, mercy, love, grace and many others.   As we asked before, how did this come to be?

As we consider this question, our discussion becomes almost overpowering. We notice immediately that the additional senses of this newly-arrived creature are in fact attributes of God as we understand them, and we have little choice but to acknowledge that they were instilled in it by God. Thus this creature is a new creation, made in the image of God. This is created man.

We now find ourselves faced with the necessity of considering two “men”, both of the species H. sapiens and reproductively compatible; one amoral, one moral (hence, capable of being immoral); one evolved, one created; one animal, one human. Because of this duality of man, Wells’ designation of “true man” applied to the evolved creature seems inappropriate; we will do better to refer to this creature as a “natural” man, and refer to created man as simply “man” (or human being).

Our human curiosity leads us to wonder just how God created this man. The evolutionist would probably prefer to think that man (human) is simply the culmination of the evolutionary process up to this time, and that aspect of man which we call “Godly attributes” merely represents the most recent advance of the group Gr. If one concedes that these attributes were programmed by God in the cell, the seed of life, since its beginning, then it should be easy enough for the creationist to accept that the resulting organism, man, is a special creation of God. While some creationists might be satisfied to accept this view, some others might insist upon an explanation which more closely fits the biblical story of the creation of man, the part that says “the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Recognizing that man, unlike the animals, has a soul, one might very well interpret this verse as a definition of the soul: the breath of God in man.)

The question of which view to take, like the many other questions with indeterminate answers that man is faced with, boils down to a matter of personal preference: one chooses the belief he will hold on a certain question. (Further consideration of this somewhat provocative statement is not within the scope of this presentation.) One who opts for the first view likely sees the advent of man as just one more step in the unfolding story of life on earth; but he who chooses the second has positioned himself for a significant addition to his understanding of the Bible, from beginning to end.

Granting that God created the world and everything in it, one can confidently take the creation and early life of man presented in the first eleven chapters of Genesis as an accurate portrayal, when “properly” interpreted.

The author will close this section with a discussion of some early events described in the first six chapters of Genesis and some conclusions resulting from the notion of two forms of H. sapiens coexisting on the earth.

When Cain was banished from the Lord’s presence, he went to the land of Nod, east of Eden, where he “lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch.” Considering that Adam was 130 years old when his third-mentioned child, Seth, was born, the suggestion that Cain married one of his sisters or nieces is at best a tenuous one; the author contends that Cain’s wife was a “natural” woman, not a created one. The descendants of Cain are listed in Genesis 4; the first and last mention of them.   However, these descendants, the progeny of a murdering man and an amoral woman, did not go away, but had a presence in the world right up to the time of the flood.

On the other hand, the listing of Adam’s descendants, the subject of Genesis 5, is presented as starting with Seth and makes no mention of Cain and Abel, so that certain chronology cannot be determined (Was Seth born after Cain’s family was established?). The chapter ends with Noah, at 500 years old, becoming the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Finally, Genesis 6 expresses God’s disappointment over the wickedness of man. The “sons of God”, which the author takes to be natural men, took for wives any (created) women they chose; so “the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” [KJV] This passage reinforces the idea that the population of the earth at that time was made up of H. sapiens who were a mixture of created man and natural man; in addition to, one would suspect, a pure line of created man and a pure line of natural man. Indeed, Noah was a righteous man, so presumably he and his family were of the created line; whereas natural man, identified as animal, would have been taken into the ark under that category. In this way, the amoral character of H. sapiens would make it through the curtain of the flood.

After the flood, man lived for a long time in immorality, amorality, and sin until God chose to redeem him. There was, of course, also Godliness and morality during this interval: Abram believed in the Lord, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; from this condition the story of God’s chosen people unfolds.

 

SOURCES

Darling, David. THE EXTRATERRESRIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA. Three Rivers Press, NY, NY.

This book provided most of the technical and scientific information in the essay.

Sunderland, Luther D. DARWIN’S ENIGMA: Fossils and Other Problems. Master Book Publishers, Santee, California

This book presents various surmises about evolution and gives data from the fossil record.

Wells, H. G. THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY, VOL. 1. Garden City Books, copyright 1949, by Doubleday & Company, Inc,

Of interest to this present effort are the first two books of this eight-book “OUTLINE’:

  1. THE WORLD BEFORE MAN
  2. THE MAKING OF MAN

 

 

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The origin of the universe

Sir Fred Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle

Once upon a time, some of the smartest people in the world thought the universe might have always existed in its current state, hence the name steady state theory was given to the idea of an eternal universe that has always existed in more or less its current form.

Aristotle. Bertrand Russell. Sir Fred Hoyle.

These men were certainly not stupid. In fact, they were among the most brilliant intellectuals of their respective eras.

Coincidentally, all three of these men were atheists. They believed our allegedly “fine-tuned” universe was eternal in part because there was insufficient scientific evidence, at least in their minds, for them to believe otherwise. But they also believed the universe had always existed as it currently is because of the implications created by the alternative, a fine-tuned universe that once had a beginning.

Hoyle famously said,

Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom; otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.

Clearly, the idea of an eternal universe has more appeal than the idea of a fine-tuned universe produced from absolute nothingness, possibly because it is less complex.

Fred Hoyle stubbornly refused to believe in that super-intellect he mentioned despite the growing evidence that supported the Big Bang theory and advocated steady state theory until his death, presumably because he couldn’t conceive of an entity that much smarter than him.

However, after Edwin Hubble discovered redshift, and Penzias and Wilson won a Nobel Prize in physics for their work on the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the Big Bang theory seemed to have settled the debate over a universe with a beginning versus an eternal universe.

If we assume the universe had the origin all the scientific evidence now suggests, then our focus should turn to a different question — was the creation of the universe an accident, or did it happen on purpose? Also, the exquisitely timed period of inflation that immediately followed the Big Bang…was that also due to unintelligent good luck?

Extrapolating further, if the creation of the universe was an accident, how do we explain the origin of life — another fortunate accident?

Is it possible to create a universe from nothing without the help of a Creator? Can DNA and a living cell be the result of nothing more than a lucky chemical reaction?

Exactly how much serendipity is required for the human race to exist?

Suffice it to say that the probability problems created by the Big Bang alone led to the development of multiverse theory, and the problems caused by abiogenesis gave us panspermia theory — meaning literally, sperm from outer space.southernprose_cover_CAFG

My contemplation of these probability and other existential problems led to my development of what I call my “Big Picture” argument, described in detail in my book Counterargument for God.

Honesty compels me to admit that I’ve been trying to focus my full attention on writing novels, fairly confident that there won’t be any scientific breakthroughs in the meantime that might shake up my current worldview enough to require me to revise it.

But when my friend Shane asked my opinion on this article titled “No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning,” of course I had to read the article in order to form an opinion.

My initial reaction is to suggest to my friend that he reread the article again, this time more carefully, and note how it asserts some sort of quantum calculation might have solved the mystery of the Big Bang by eliminating the beginning of the universe by making “corrections” to existing theory. To remove the need for an invisible God, these two theoretical scientists proposed a universe filled with an invisible quantum fluid composed of hypothetical particles called gravitons.

My friend should pay closer attention to all of the conditional verbs that were used in a few short paragraphs vaguely describing a theory promising great potential: how many times the article claims the new math “may” or “could” mean something — it is mostly speculation for a specific purpose, which is to eliminate a need for a God to properly answer an existential question.

The article asserts that “the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity” before offering the problems with the Big Bang “can be resolved by this new model in which the universe has no beginning, and no end.”

What the author really seems to be saying is “just trust us.”

The article doesn’t explain is how the scientific evidence of redshift and the cosmic microwave background radiation fit with this new theory. That evidence is universally accepted, and if this new theory can’t explain it, then it will be practically useless.

According to the author, the laws of physics “break down” at the moment of the Big Bang and thus fail to properly explain that singular event, or what could have come before the Big Bang. However, it has been my experience that the best way to solve a problem is not to simply pretend it doesn’t exist.

All of the available scientific evidence indicates the universe is expanding from a point in time that occurred billions of years ago.

These new “corrections” to the existing theory do not promise to solve the mystery of why the universe appears to have been fine-tuned uniquely to support life, or why inflation was necessary immediately following the Big Bang. It doesn’t solve the mystery of abiogenesis, or explain how descent via sexual reproduction alone might account for the millions of diverse forms of life on earth.

This “new” theory appears to be nothing but another effort to fix a problem with the existing theory that describes the creation of this universe without invoking a Creator, if for no other reason, because that seems to be an unwritten rule among modern scientists.

In short, the alleged new information promised by the article was virtually useless. The time of those involved would have been better spent seeking to understand quantum consciousness.

My advice to Shane is simple: don’t worry about articles with wild speculation and audacious claims like these until the Big Bang theory becomes obsolete, and the scientists proposing these theories have won virtually universal acceptance from the physics community — and a Nobel Prize, of course.

 

DNA, put in perspective when compared to LEGOs

a_xwingBehold, a life-size replica of a Star Wars X-Wing fighter, made out of LEGOs.

According to this article in New York magazine, the full scale model required 5,335,200 LEGOs and took 32 master builders working more than 17,000 hours to complete.

The LEGO X-Wing has a wing span of 44 feet, weighing 44,000 pounds.

Any parent whose kids enjoyed LEGOs has a memory of stepping barefoot on one of the ubiquitous plastic blocks. But don’t worry about the LEGO X-Wing; it’s all glued together as one piece.

Now whether or not you are a fan of the toy building blocks, you’ll  have to admit the LEGO X-Wing fighter is one impressive creation.

Compared to the DNA molecule, however, the LEGO X-Wing is actually quite simple. Over five million building blocks were used? That’s nothing compared to the six billion bits of information called nucleotides that comprise a DNA molecule, the “LEGO” of life.

The complex instructions coded into DNA provide the blueprint for an organism that is produced through an ordered and specific process of development into a body plan.

For abiogenesis to have occurred, either the enormously improbable event occurred in which DNA self-organized just in time for some fortuitous catalyst caused inanimate matter to come to life…or, some sort of help was somehow involved.

In fact, two-time Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ilya Prigogine said,

The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.

While I have tremendous respect for the work of scientists such as Dr. Prigogine, I must reject his suggestion that the probability of abiogenesis without divine intervention is literally zero, because that implies we have absolute certainty about the origin of life.

I’m perfectly satisfied with the probability of abiogenesis without the assistance of supernatural intelligence as very near zero, because the simple acknowledgement that God is infinitely more probable because the only alternative to accidental is intentional.

The powerful entity that has both the means and ability to execute on that intent could only be God.

My atheist friends can protest as much as they would like, but I’m not concerned with winning friends or influencing people. I’m only interested in the truth. According to the Big Picture, as described in my book Counterargument for God, you can’t answer an existential question by only looking at a small fraction of the evidence.

If you fairly look at the evidence ,it becomes readily obvious that “accidental” speciation cannot simply explain our existence through purely natural events, not if an accidental Big Bang and abiogenesis  by blind luck are virtually impossible.

As we learn from our observations of the Big Picture, the only alternative to God is extraordinary good luck.

Luck too good to be true.

A brief glimpse of the Big Picture

Counter_cover_smLife cannot evolve until it exists.

When I recently made that point during a series of questions I asked in another post, Dr. Benoit Leblanc responded by writing,

Your fourth question is the least contentious one, because it deals with matters that lie outside of evolutionary biology. “Until life exists, how can it evolve?”

The answer is, of course, “it can’t”. Evolutionary theory is not concerned with abiogenesis, although its principles do apply to the evolution of increasingly-efficient unliving replicators (such as self-replicating nucleic acids) that may, in time, acquire characteristics that we associate with living creatures. Such is the power of the natural selection concept: in a population of replicators that can accumulate mutations, the replicators that gain a replicative advantage will, by definition, replicate better.

To his credit, Dr. Leblanc made the effort to respond, though he conceded my point while simultaneously suggesting he and his colleagues don’t care that the spontaneous origin of life was a wildly improbable anomaly, at best

With all due respect and while I’m sure Dr. Leblanc is considerably more knowledgeable about evolutionary biology than me, I cannot begin to fathom how he could possibly make the statement that evolution theorists could be completely unconcerned about the hypothesis called abiogenesis while simultaneously agreeing with Dr. Coyne’s assertion that evolution theory is true, beyond any question or reproach.

Quid est veritas?

What is the purpose of studying science?

Is it to cherry-pick from the evidence that helps you win an argument about whether or not God exists, or to gain better understanding of our world while seeking truth?

Frankly, if bullheadedly cherry-picking only evidence that fits a certain template were truly copacetic, it would be very easy for someone like me to simply be a Young Earth Creationist.

I could always choose to ignore the wealth of information obtained by radiometric dating ancient rocks and artifacts and observations made through careful examination of evidence in the fossil record.

But it would be utter denial to ignore that such evidence exists. If the objective of the exercise is to seek the truth in regard to our existential questions, there’s nothing to be gained by denying the fact that dinosaurs once ruled the earth, and it was almost certainly more than six thousand years ago.

The earth is probably a little more than 4.5 billion years ago; the universe is about 13.8 billion years old, assuming scientists can be trusted with their dating techniques.

On the other hand, if the only objective is to win an argument about evolution theory by any means necessary, then it does make sense to ignore the origin of life. It’s a difficult problem that complicates the exclusion of God in later-occurring diversification.

You don’t have to learn everything about chemistry to understand the problems of abiogenesis. You can simply ask the experts, like I have tried to do.

A biased stance against learning the real truth would be so transparently dishonest that it would bother me. The deliberate exclusion of pertinent information doesn’t seem to qualify as legitimate science. It’s nothing more than advocacy. But of what?

Atheism, apparently.

For any serious attempt to tackle the existential questions to succeed, one must have at least a superficial understanding about both the origin of matter and its initial animation.

Otherwise, you’re simply assuming that not one but two dramatic miracles occurred.

This universe was literally created from absolutely nothing.

Then six billion bits of information, the “source code” molecule we call DNA, spontaneously organized itself in the midst of total chaos and formed the first living organism, LUCA, an acronym for Last Universal Common Ancestor.

If supernatural intelligence played no role in our existence, LUCA evolved into all plants and animals, simply by means of isolated sexual reproduction, if given enough time for change to occur.

As a visual aid, the following expression was developed to assist the reader in gaining appreciation of the required scientific theories and hypotheses for the success of our Big Picture:

Life = Big Bang + abiogenesis + speciation + natural selection

The final two theories depicted in the Big Picture equation, are often referred to collectively as “evolution” theory.

My point is fairly simple and straightforward—to accept the purely secular, materialistic version of evolution presented by Coyne, Dawkins, and their ilk, one must begin by assuming the success of not just one, but two extraordinary miracles, with the mere possibility of the second miracle predicated on the success of the first.

This universe magically appeared out of absolute nothingness–an extraordinary concept to even attempt to convey. After all, one is tempted to substitute “thin air” for “absolute nothingness” but that would be grossly incorrect. Not even air existed, prior to the Big Bang.

From nothing came not only something, but this universe.

Then, and only after the successful origin of this particular universe with all the necessary ingredients “just right” for life, could inanimate matter become animated.

Life cannot evolve, until it exists. Period.

The Big Bang, abiogenesis, and evolution are all part of the Big Picture.

 

Counterargument for God

Counter_cover_smCounterargument for God was officially published on Easter Sunday, 2013.

It is currently available on Amazon and at Smashwords.

The print version will be available soon.

We are currently waiting to review the proof copy.

The ebook versions were released late Sunday after a long and arduous weekend of formatting by my wonderful wife, who also happens to be my publisher.

In the credits, three important contributors were not properly acknowledged. It is time to remedy that oversight.

First, I would like to specifically thank my friends Fred Kohn and Bill Wassner, who both slogged their way through an early, very difficult-to-read rough draft and offered valuable advice.

The contributions of Bill and Fred were crucial and significantly improved the final version of the manuscript. Mea culpa.

And of course, special thanks are owed to my lovely and talented wife Lisa, editor and publisher extraordinaire. Publishing this nearly 500 page book for me was most certainly a labor of love.

She strongly prefers editing my “Rocky Leonard” detective novels.

After all, novels don’t require footnotes.