DOES THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION REQUIRE THAT LIFE CAME FROM NON-LIFE (ABIOGENESIS)?

Michael T. Griffith

2002

@All Rights Reserved

Second Edition

To my great surprise, a number of evolutionists have argued that the theory of evolution does not include abiogenesis, i.e., that evolution does not include the theory that life arose spontaneously from non-life. (Abiogenesis is also known as the theory of pre-biological evolution or the theory of spontaneous generation.) My first reply to this rather surprising claim is to point out that dozens of evolutionary books include abiogenesis and strongly argue for it, and that for quite some time the theory of evolution has included abiogenesis. I'd also point out that the theory of evolution can hardly be a theory about life origins if it supposedly doesn't even address how life began. I suggest that evolutionists who argue that evolution does not require or include abiogenesis aren't familiar with their own literature. The very idea that evolution does not include the theory of spontaneous generation strikes me as illogical and even evasive. Let's look at just some of the statements from evolutionary scholars on the subject. None other than Theodosius Dobzhansky, who, according to leading evolutionist Steven Gould of Harvard, was "the greatest evolutionist of our century," said the following:

Evolution comprises all the stages of the development of the universe: the cosmic, the biological, and human or cultural development. Attempts to restrict the concept of evolution to biology are gratuitous. Life is a product of the evolution of inorganic nature, and man is a product of the evolution of life.

Another famous spokesman for evolution, Julian Huxley, was equally candid on this point:

The concept of evolution was soon [after its appearance] extended into other than biological fields. Inorganic subjects such as the life-histories of the stars and the formation of the chemical elements on the one hand, and on the other hand subjects like linguistics, social athropology, and comparative law and religion, began to be studied from an evolutionary angle, until today we are enabled to see evolution as a universal and all pervading process. Furthermore, with the adoption of the evolutionary approach in non-biological fields, from cosmology to human affairs, we are beginning to realize that biological evolution is only one aspect to evolution in general.

Renowned evolutionary scientist Robert Jastrow spoke of abiogenesis as being part of "the scientific story of genesis" and even went on to say that "chance" is the basic ingredient of the theory of evolution:

Basic building blocks of life--amino acids and nucleotides--were made in earth's atmosphere by the passage of lightening bolts through primitive gases. Then they drained out of the atmosphere into the oceans and made a kind of "chicken soup" in which collisions occurred. Eventually, the first self-replicating molecule was formed by accident, and as soon as a molecule could divide and reproduce itself, you had a magic law broken for the first time. The scientific story of genesis has chance as its basic ingredient. You look at the story in detail, and every element of it is governed by some random event. A random collision among atoms that created stars including the sun. Random collisions of the molecules of life that created the first DNA, the first self-replicating molecule. This fact has both puzzled and distressed many students of the subject. They feel that since the story leads in an unbroken line from that chance event of a threshold straight up to man, there's something unsatisfactory about it, about a story that says man's existence on earth is a product of chance.

Molecular biologist Michael Denton discusses the fact that evolutionists assume as their starting point that life evolved from non-life from a prebiotic soup, but that in point of fact there is no evidence whatsoever for this assumption:

The first stage on the road to life is presumed to have been the buildup, by purely chemical synthetic processes occurring on the surface of the early Earth, of all the basic organic compounds necessary for the formation of a living cell. These are supposed to have accumulated in the primeval oceans, creating a nutrient broth, the so-called "prebiotic soup." In certain specialized environments, these organic compounds were assembled into large macromolecules, proteins, and nucleic acids. Eventually, over millions of years, combinations of these macromolecules occurred which were endowed with the property of self-reproduction. Then, driven by natural selection, ever more efficient and complex self-reproducing molecular systems evolved until finally the first simple cell emerged. The existence of a prebiotic soup is crucial to the whole scheme. Without an abiotic accumulation of the building blocks of the cell, no life could ever evolve. . . . Yet rocks of great antiquity have been examined over the past two decades and in none of them has any trace of a bioticially produced compound been found. Most notable of these rocks are the "dawn rocks" of western Greenland, the earliest dated rocks on Earth, considered to be approaching 3,900 million years old. . . . As on so many occasions, paleontology has again failed to substantiate evolutionary presumptions. Considering the way the prebiotic soup is referred to in so many discussions of the origin of life as an already established reality, it comes as something of a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence.

John Weldon, who has written on and been involved in the creation-evolution debate for over 25 years, observes,

The term "evolution" is used to refer to the general theory that all life on earth evolved from non-living matter and progressed to more complex forms in time; hence, it refers to macroevolution and not microevolution. . . .

I could continue, but by now it should be clear that the theory of evolution most certainly includes abiogenesis. The theory might have started off as only dealing with the origin of species, but it has long since come to include the origin of life.

SOURCES

Michael Behe, DARWIN'S BLACK BOX: THE BIOCHEMICAL CHALLENGE TO EVOLUTION, The Free Press, 1996.

Michael Denton, EVOLUTION: A THEORY IN CRISIS, Woodbine House, 1986.

Robert Jastrow in "Geo Conversation," GEO, February 1982, pp. 11-12.

Henry Morris, editor, SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISM, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1985.

Roger Oakland and Caryl Matrisciana, THE EVOLUTION CONSPIRACY, Harvest House Publishers, 1991.

John Weldon and John Ankerberg, DARWIN'S LEAP OF FAITH, Harvest House Publishers, 1998.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Michael T. Griffith holds a Masterís degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelorís degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.He also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.He is a graduate in Arabic and Hebrew of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas.In addition, he has completed an Advanced Hebrew program at Haifa University in Israel.He is the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including How Firm A Foundation, A Ready Reply, and One Lord, One Faith.