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#5 - Did Life Come from Space?
by Thomas F. Heinze

Atheists are changing their minds on the origin of life. If we are to help those around us who are being influenced by their ideas, we should keep informed.

Life from proteins

In school you were probably taught that the first simple cell started when lightening passing through the right atmosphere produced amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids, according to the schoolbooks, concentrated in the ocean, forming an organic broth, then joined together to form proteins which eventually got together with DNA to form the first simple cell. The idea has not only been popular among atheists, many people who believe in God have become convinced that this must be the way He created life.

A quiet revolution has taken place in the last few years. Schoolbooks are starting to admit that even if amino acids and other chemicals in the ocean did form an organic broth, they could not have arranged themselves into proteins. Here is an example of this surprising reversal from a recent high school biology book:

"Scientists have not been able to cause amino acids dissolved in water to join together to form proteins. The energy-requiring chemical reactions that join amino acids are reversible and do not occur spontaneously in water. However, most scientists no longer argue that the first proteins assembled spontaneously. Instead, they now propose that the initial macromolecules were composed of RNA, and that RNA later catalyzed the formation of proteins."1

This is a very significant admission. School books for two or three generations had championed the idea that life began when protein and DNA were formed by chance in organic broth and then got together. Since the evidence against this idea was generally not mentioned, (except by creationists) some readers will have trouble believing that proteins did not form that way in spite of the quote from a current textbook.

When the old protein to life idea was being taught, what scientific evidence was offered? Only that a way had been found in which amino acids could form in nature. The next step, according to the textbooks, that amino acids came together in organic broth and formed proteins does not happen in nature as the schoolbook quoted above now admits. Even if it had been possible for proteins to form they could not have gotten together with DNA because DNA won't form outside of living cells either!

Life from RNA

I rejoice that the schoolbook quoted above now clearly admits that amino acids won't join together in water to form proteins but I am saddened that it infers that RNA will. RNA will not form in water, or anywhere else except in the tiny factories of living cells where DNA directs the process; neither will the nucleotides of which RNA is made. Fry, a philosopher of science in her book summing up the first life experiments says:

"…nucleotides and lipids [the fats which make up cell membranes], require for their synthesis a 'real factory.' … The synthesis of these substances involves a series of reactions, each reaction following the previous one in utmost accuracy."

"… water greatly interferes with the linking of amino acids and nucleotides into chains, a crucial step in the origin of life."2

Two astrobiologists take the admission of difficulty a step farther:

"The abiotic synthesis of RNA remains the most enigmatic step in the evolution of the first life, for no one has yet succeeded in creating RNA."3 ("Abiotic synthesis of RNA," means making RNA outside of an already living cell).

These quotes may be hard to believe if you are used to how easy the spontaneous formation of RNA sounds in school books such as this one:

"First, RNA nucleotides formed from simple gas molecules in much the same way as in experiments similar to those done by Miller and Urey. Nucleotides then assembled spontaneously into small chains…. These small chains were able to make copies of themselves. Once replicating molecules like these appear, natural selection and evolution are possible."4

As I first read it, this statement sounded scientific, but on more careful examination, I couldn't find one honest fact in the whole paragraph. Can you? Scientists have of course repeated the Miller and Urey experiment many times in many variations. No RNA nor even their nucleotide building blocks ever form. Nucleotides break down spontaneously, but they do not form from "simple gas molecules," and assemble "spontaneously into small chains" of RNA as is being taught to our kids.

Here is another example of a schoolbook making the impossible sound scientific: "Perhaps RNA was the first self-replicating information-storage molecule. After it had formed, it could also have catalyzed the assembly of the first proteins…."5

Before you get too enthused over the marvelous powers of "perhaps RNA," remember that real RNA can neither self-replicate, nor catalyze the formation of proteins. These imaginative statements may make converts to atheism, but years of research have not even been able to make them happen in the best equipped laboratories, let alone in nature.

The famous astronomer and mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle once did a mathematical analysis of the chances of life having evolved and concluded:

"The likelihood of the spontaneous formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 naughts after it…. It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution."6

Life from space

Even many convinced atheists have come to admit that the first life could not have evolved on earth. They and other evolutionists have been guiding the governments of the world in spending billions to search for life somewhere out in space. We are bombarded with their ideas: "That far away anything could happen," and "on whatever planet water is found in its liquid form, life develops." In reality, "… water greatly interferes with the linking of amino acids and nucleotides into chains, a crucial step in the origin of life."7

Living things do need water. They also need a planet that is the right distance from its sun and has the right orbit and speed of rotation to maintain the correct temperature. They must also have the right amount of gravity, the right atmosphere, elements etc. etc.

Many people know that the evidence is overwhelmingly against life having been generated spontaneously here on earth. That is why the theory that life started on another planet somewhere was invented. But what kind of a planet arethey looking for where life might have begun? The answer will blow your mind!They are looking for a planet that is just like Earth. Without these characteristics, life could not exist!8

If life started on another planet somewhere it would not only have had to overcome the same start up problems as on earth, but many added difficulties as well:

the destructive effects of cosmic rays,

the lack of anything to breathe during the trip,

the extreme cold of outer space,

the heat and shock of re-entry.

the time the trip would take, (Most stars which might have planets are said to be millions, billions, or more light years away.)

The evidence strongly favors an intelligent Creator. Any appeal to life having started spontaneously far off in space should be thought of as another way of saying, "Once upon a time, far far away!"

1 George B. Johnson, Peter H. Raven, Biology, Principles & Explorations, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1996 p. 235.

2 Iris Fry, The Emergence of Life on Earth, 2000, p. 126, 176-177, 245.

3 Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, Why complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, 2000, p. 65, see also p. xix, 63-64, 60. 

4 Holt, Annotated Teacher's Edition, Biology, Visualizing Life, 1994, p. 201.

5 George B. Johnson, Peter H. Raven, Biology, Principles & Explorations, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1996 p. 230.

6 Hoyle, Sir Fred, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space, 1984, p. 148.

7 Iris Fry, The Emergence of Life on Earth, 2000, p. 245.

8 Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, Why complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, 2000, p. 16-20, 33.

Adapted from information in the book Answers to my Evolutionist Friends, How Life Began, by Thomas F. Heinze, published in 2002 by Chick Publications, 160 pages, $8.50. or read it free at:

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