September 27, 2014.
I was reading an article on BBC news yesterday entitled “Complex organic molecule found in interstellar space.” In this article, the author is relaying an exciting observation recently made by astronomers where they have detected isopropyl cyanide, a carbon-based branched molecule that is the closest find to organic building blocks that sciences have ever discovered in space. This was exciting news to astronomers as they were closer to showing that the basic building blocks for organic life can be found throughout space. Whereas this is a bit of a stretch, it is the most complex molecule they have found so far.
So, does this finding give any credence to evolutionists who claim that life began from non-life, when molecules randomly interacted together to from nucleic and amino acids, which are the very building blocks for life itself? I’m sure some will see it this way, but I find this hard to believe. This is not an amino acid nor a nucleic acid, and it just shows that chemical reactions can happen in space, which I do not deny. The fact that it took this long to find would suggest to me that it is not ubiquitous throughout the universe, and a lot of conclusions are jumped to in this article that aren’t backed up by evidence. They are more, well if we find this, that means this other thing is possible, which means this other thing could happen, ect. until you reach the conclusion that life can be formed. There are a lot of steps in the process that are purely theoretical.
But it is not my goal today to disprove this find or to knock down the implications that are drawn from it. I actually want to ask a deeper question that is often overlooked when we argue about how life began and wether or not this universe could plausibly be solely responsible for its origin. Whereas the likelihood of the spontaneous generation of life from a “primordial soup” is all but mathematically impossible, and even this probably is based on the theory that these molecules would be accessible when life began and then follow very complex paths to form life as we know it today, there is something deeper that all this theory depends on which no respectable scientist would dare give you an answer too. There simply is no way for science to measure it, much less theorize about it. It is illustrated in this short story (I guess you could call it a parable) that I heard a while ago of unknown origin (I made it into parable form).
Reaching what they were sure was the golden age of information and technology, scientists were very excited about the progress that had been made over the past century. They had reached the place where cloning was a ancient art form and genetic diagnoses of disease meant running a simple five-minute test that was non-invasive.
Upon successful completion of their latest project, a group of scientists decided it was time to tell God that He was no longer needed. They formed a committee and nominated one representative to present their findings to God and show Him why they no longer were in need of Him.
The scientist, always eager to present his findings, happily came before the Almighty to share with Him the good news. “Hey there God, I’ve come to show you something amazing!”
With a gracious smile, the Almighty responded “Brilliant. What have you found?”
“Well, really I’ve come to show you why we don’t need you any more. You see, with our latest experiment, we have been able to recreate what you did in the beginning.”
Concerned, the Almighty waited to hear about the project.
“You see, human knowledge and technology has advanced so much that we have reached the point that we can make another human being from scratch, just like you did!”
The Almighty looked at the scientist questioningly. “Is that so? Well, let’s see it then. Show me how you can make your own human being.”
Lighting up, the scientist joyfully exclaimed “Okay!” and then proceeded to stoop down and pick up a handful of dirt to show God that he could make a human just like the Almighty did in the beginning.
“Oh no, you must have misunderstood,” God chuckled to the scientist. “You have to get your own dirt.”
When the theory of the atom was established as the smallest thing that made up matter that could not be divided, the knowledge indeed pushed forward. Now that theory has been redefined and understood in new ways time and again, as we know that there are building blocks that make up atoms- protons, neutrons and electrons. And even protons and neutrons are made up of smaller entities called quarks. Electrons are considered to be elementary particles, because they have no known sub-components. Yet. It is hard for us to really think on this level of this physical universe because it is so small that we cannot even really comprehend its size. I was thinking about this the other day when I was studying cell biology and we were learning about a channel that allows water in and out of cells. The channel was only big enough for a single file of water molecules. But when you look at computer representations of this channel, our minds tend to fill in all the places that don’t have molecules with either water or air. But in reality, there is nothing there. Nothing. Well, nothing that we can see. (If this is super confusing, just stick with me, I promise I have a point). It has been theorized that there is even a smaller particle, or energy field, called the Higgs boson/Higgs field that is everywhere that “nothing” was that gives matter its mass. Though we (may) have never detected a Higgs boson, the theory is there because without it there seems to be something missing (there is some debate of wether or not a Higgs boson has been recently detected).
So what’s my point in all this? Why does it matter what exists at the atomic level and beyond, and what does this have to do with God? Well, I first want to disclose that I am indeed a scientist and this stuff interests me. But that is not why I bring it up. I bring it up because whereas I am a scientist, that does not mean that I agree with every other scientist in the world. Actually, it would rather imply that I don’t, as there is a lot of disagreement amongst scientists about many things. However, when the disagreement comes to the biology level about the origin of life, I think even this question is being examined on too large of a scale (as with many things in biology).
You see, when you theorize about amino acids and the possibility of them spontaneously forming over billions of years in a “primordial soup,” I think you have missed something smaller. Where did you get your dirt? Even if, though I do not think it statistically possible, amino acids spontaneously formed and then somehow bonded together in highly complex ways to form pre-life components (which then somehow came together in the right way to carry information and not get degraded), where did the building blocks for amino acids come from? If you answer, “well, didn’t the article you started out with explain how that could have happened?” I would say, first of all, not really, and secondly where did these building blocks come from? Where did elements come from? Fusion of hydrogen in stars. Where did hydrogen come from? That incredibly dense sphere of mass that was smaller than the point of a pencil that underwent inflation in the big bang and caused everything we see today. Okay… where did that come from? You see, we live in a physical world, made up of smaller and smaller physical components. What is the bottom? What is the most elementary particle? And what exactly is that particle made of (though by definition it just is)? Where did it originate?
It can almost make your brain hurt to think about things this small. But if we are going to take on the question of where did life originate, you have to deal with this type of regression. What is the theory of evolution based on? More theories. And what can we theorize about that? Well, honestly, nothing. It is beyond the realm of science. It goes into philosophy and religion.
So where do we get our dirt? The physical universe begs for a super-physical explanation. We can keep looking at smaller and smaller particles, but we will never reach the end. We can keep getting closer and closer to the “origin of time,” but we can never explain where that came from through physical means, and even if we could, we would have to explain that through what is physical. This is why we need to answer the question with a super-physical being. That’s why God is the answer. I suppose you could as the question “Well, where did God come from?” but you would still be thinking in the physical. You are demanding a physical answer for a super-physical being, which is impossible. God is. He always was, and always will be. That is why is name is “I AM.”
“Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
In the past, it was likely that great mathematicians were also theologians, because they could better understand the concept of eternity and infinity. Eternity is outside of this physical, finite world. God is eternal. This physical universe is not. It is bound by time and decay. If you ask me how God is eternal, I’m afraid I cannot give you a satisfying answer, as I simply don’t know. Our minds are finite, and I don’t think we could understand even if He had told us. One day I do think we will know. I think everyone will know. On that day, everything that we have learned and seen here will seem as nothing. All our arguments will be definitively answered. And the eternal one will judge our souls.
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
So why is this universe so complex? Why did God choose to make it this way? I believe that it was to point us to Him.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
I suppose my point in all of this is show that science cannot answer the question of origin. Science is wonderful, as we are studying and observing the handiwork of the Father. Science does not deny God, though our theories my imply such. But that’s just it. Those are our theories, not science. We might base them off of scientific evidence, but often we base them very loosely in order to make a point. But even our most fundamental theories that have been around for ages are being challenged today. Even things that we call laws are being challenged (ref. classical mechanics vs. quantum mechanics)! I believe that this just goes to show that no matter how sure we are about something in science, we could still be wrong. Is science then bad? Certainly not. I love science. It is how we learn and make technological and informational advances. But even the most well done science is fallible- or rather, our interpretations of science (which is, in essence, guided observation) are fallible.
To study this universe is to study the work of His hands, and true science will never deny that. God made what we can observe, and what we cannot observe. He made the physical laws that we study. He gave us the capacity to observe and learn, and in the end He will restore all creation which has been burdened by the fall of man. One day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Will you be ready for that day?
Suggested Daily Reading: Ecclesiastes 3, Romans 1, I Thessalonians 5, Revelation 4.
Grace and peace.
Pursuing a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences