We are obsessed with origin stories. We have two Spiderman origin story movies, two hulk origin story movies, who knows how many Batman origin story movies. The Bourne movies are wonderful because we are presented with an origins mystery – where did I come from and how did I become like this? Science obsesses over the big bang and the origins of life. Christmas is really an ultimate origins story. I think there is a huge clue to our identity and nature as humans in looking at the insatiable thirst we have for the story of our own origins.
Alvin Plantinga has made a powerful case that Christianity and science are superficially at odds, but are in harmony at a deeper level, and that conversely materialistic naturalism and science are superficially in harmony but are at odds at a deeper level (Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism). I find his arguments immensely compelling, and for naturalistic science to remain credible they really must pay attention to such criticisms.
I’ve been reflecting a little on this during this season. One of the chief problems facing the naturalistic materialist is that it is very difficult to explain the original appearance of life. New evidence makes this an even worse problem. According to our best guess based on so-called “chemofossils” is that the first life to appear was “simple” algae about 3.5 billion years ago. Much of this has been pieced together from the barest of evidence:
Due to the paucity of evidence, the detailed interpretation of life from ancient samples may always remain controversial, yet the very existence of samples moves the discussion of ancient life from the realm of speculation and theory into the realm of experimentation. (When Did Life Begin on Earth? Ask a Rock.
In other words, we have found rock substance (not fossil structures) whose chemical composition might indicate some kind of evidence of lifelike metabolism between 3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago. Let’s go ahead and run with that as true.
We also now know that the first photosynthetic cells required the existence of structures which take advantage of quantum effects such as quantum coherence and entanglement in photosynthesis. It seems highly unlikely that such structures or any of the other initial structures which are essential to even the simplest forms of life could possibly have happened by pure random occurrence. These are structures which are far more specific and more complex than our best current technology can touch. Yet we need to posit cells that are using something as food to metabolize and produce the effects we are seeing in these rocks, given the working hypothesis for their chemical makeup.
The convincing factor for the naturalist seems to be that no matter how unlikely we think it may be that life happened by chance, it happened, so it must not have been entirely unlikely. I want to point out that this is a tautology, no different than if I said that no matter how unlikely it may seem that God created the universe 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age, it happened, so it can’t be all that unlikely. You can’t say, my explanation seems unlikely, but it is true, so it can’t be unlikely. This is no explanation at all. If your explanation is unlikely, then it is likely that it isn’t true. It seems obvious.
The fact is, the problem of the original appearance of life is so unlikely that many credible scientists are positing an alien factor – aliens seeded the earth with the stuff of life. This of course begs the question – where did the alien life come from? If they are the same kind of physical life as we are, as the naturalist must assume, then they must have come to be by the convergence of chance events. Since they had to be not only space-faring but technologically advanced enough to seed a world with the exquisitely complex stuff of biological life, we must assume a certain amount of time for their existence – prior to the beginning of life on earth 3.8 billion years ago. They would have needed longer than 3.8 billion years to arise, since they didn’t have a jump start, so let’s give them 4.5 billion years. This means that life for the aliens needed to start when the universe was only 5.4 billion years old! The universe was much different at this point – smaller, hotter, with less suns and less worlds. This being so, perhaps the aliens came from another universe, another dimension. At this point, I have to ask,
We are talking about science, right?
Because this is starting to sound like we are inventing modern creation story myths. Remember how the silly men in mankind’s early history used to look at the wonderments of nature and invent crazy gods and myths and stories to explain things? The modern rational naturalist would never do such a thing, right? Of course not.
There really is no evidence for all of this invention. Earth-seeding aliens, other dimensions and realms — no one knows anything about any of this. It isn’t science. It is speculation, and I am here to say that the emperor has no clothes.
What we do have evidence for is this. Life exists. The universe exists. In great abundance and great complexity, we are here. But there is more. The dead sea scrolls tell us that hundreds of years before Christ, His life was clearly foretold. We know this to be true. We have evidence. It is not irrational nor ignorant to believe that the universe was created by God, and that He is the one who created the stuff of life.