NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION!! No, there is no life on asteroids.
Evolutionary research on the problem of life’s origin has taken a turn from seeking an Earth-bound
(terrestrial) answer to a search for answers in outer space. This is a difficult endeavor as access to outer space is limited; the rare discoveries of meteorites, some ‘fly-by” missions to our planets, a few robotic landings on the planet Mars, images from the Hubble space telescopic and several moon landings.
What has become certain to most origin-of-life researchers is that as far back as the supposed age of the planet, nearly 4 of 4.5 billion years, life has existed. There is neither time or place or known chemistries on earth to account for the origin of life. The search has been expanded to outer space in hopes that by engaging the Universe as the new ‘primordial chemical factory’ that time, chance and unknown chemistries will have a greater probability-outcome for the emergence of life on Earth. In a recent article (Alien Origin of Life. D. Moran at www.warrenapologeticscenter.org) I described the research being done on a rare type of meteorite which contains a minute amount of various carbon compounds. Speculation on the potential ‘life-giving’ properties that these meteorites may have contributed to a terrestrial evolutionary process continues to engage origin-of-life researchers; desperate to salvage terrestrial evolutionary theory.
The cosmological origin of these rocks is purely speculative as are the various explanations for how the carbon chemicals came into existence. A most interesting but abandoned hypothesis was based on the chemical composition of a rocky material typical of Earth. It suggested that the types of meteorites which are being considered as the source of earth’s organic chemicals for life are nearly identical to some kinds of rocks produced on Earth which contain organic chemistry typically made from oceanic sediments. (Evidence in Meteorites of former Life: The organic compounds in carbonaceous chondrites are similar to those found in marine sediments. 1963. Meinschein et.al., Annal of the New York Academy of Sciences. 108(2), 553-579). The substance found to compose these meteors called kerogen, is common to coals and shales as well; minerals created from sedimentation and fossilization (Ozonolysis of “Polymer-Like” Material in Coal, Kerogen and the Orgueil Meteorite: A Preliminary Report. 1966. Sis M.C. Bitz and B. Nagy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science U S A. 56(5), 1383-1390). Some have postulated that the meteorites are the remnants of a catastrophic flood event which caused material (marine sediments) to be ejected from off the Earth and into space (In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, Walt Brown. Center for Scientific Creation, 2001. p. 275-291). Over the years these rocks may have been frozen and thawed in space, only to have fallen back to Earth. Not an unreasonable hypothesis.
However, universities train scientists in the dogma of evolutionary theory; whether applied to cosmology or biology. Many anti-evolutionary findings are ignored or go unpublished much like negating the possibility that these rare meteorites might be derived from our own planet and have no bearing on molecular evolution. However, a rare few scientists have critically examined the evolutionary paradigm and found it entirely inadequate and consider it as anti-science. Among the scientists who have assessed evolution are Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. Fred Hoyle was a brilliant mathematician and astronomer who led a team to examine the physics of how the fundamental elements that make up the universe exist; the theory of nucleosynthesis. In his work, it became clear that for the carbon atom to exist certain fundamental laws of nature needed to be fine-tuned by a higher intelligence. Carbon is the essential backbone of biological chemistry. He is quoted as saying:
“Would you not say to yourself, “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.” Of course you would . . . A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect 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.” ( “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Fred Hoyle. 1982. Annual Review of Astronomy, 20. p.16).
Among his many contributions to science were a number of controversial books written in collaboration with Wickramasinghe. The latter was a student of the late Hoyle and co-developer of the concept of directed panspermia; the modern theory that life on earth was seeded through the medium of cosmic dust, collisions with comets and, unique to their perspective, intentional intervention by intelligence. In their book entitled “Evolution from Space: A theory of cosmic creationism” (Simon an and Schuster, New York, 1981), the authors proposed that neither time nor chance sufficiently answers the problem of life’s origin or its development into the millions of life forms that occupy or have occupied our world. The development of their proposal begins with an
assessment of what evolution can do and what it can’t do. Recognizing that current species possess a wide range of genetic variation due to pre-existing genes and gene forms (alleles), this variation can be artificially selected by people to develop plants and animals for domestication. This form of evolution has been seen to occur naturally in ‘the wild’ giving rise to permutations of the same type organisms, i.e., horse and zebra, Indian and African elephants, bison and water buffalo, that are well suited to their environment. They rightly conclude that such natural selections are so specialized that even slight changes in the environment push that variety of life closer to the brink of extinction. In other words, the specialization of similar life forms (also called adaptation), whether poodle or zebra, results in that type having less variability than the genealogy from which they came. The point being is this: the variation currently available to a species is limited due to the fixity of the genes already available in the DNA of that species. This type of ‘evolution’ is without regard to how the information in the DNA arose in the first place.
The real question is not how much variation exists in a species to give rise to different forms but rather how did the information in the DNA of the organism come to be? Hoyle and colleague argue that no amount of time or chance can be held responsible for the probabilities needed to create even a single protein molecule that has the function of say, an enzyme, let alone giving rise to life itself. The authors calculate the odds of creating a single living cell through random chemical interactions, even given all the necessary ingredients and the most sublime conditions, to be one chance in 10 to the 40,000 power.
The largest number that science typically finds useful is the googol (google); or the number 10 to the 100 power. It is generally a useless number but is used for relative comparisons. For instance a googol and the number of moves that are possible in the game of chess. The number googol is an incomprehensible number making the probability number, 10 to the 40,000 power, an impossibility. To this enormously large probability number for the formation of a single protein by random chance, add the typical 2000 other proteins found in the simplest of living cells and the probability of life by chemical evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. becomes a philosophical brain teaser; certainly not science. Add to this the necessary code (DNA) by which these protein molecules can be replicated with fidelity and the odds of chemical evolution are beyond reasonable; beyond cosmological. Add to this the decoder, the translator and several million other genetic sequences, switches, feedback loops and any reasonable scientist is pushed to the brink of sanity; acknowledging intelligent design as a fact. But evolutionary scientist are not interested in sanity but materialistic explanations even if they sound insane.
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (H&W from here on) add insult to injury to the Darwinian form of the evolutionary theory by noting that even if the impossible did happen and a living thing emerged by accident, neither the rate of mutation nor natural selection have the power to drive the living world into more complex systems. An active intelligent agent with purposeful intent must enter consideration. To this thought, I add that survival of the fittest becomes only a catchphrase which bluffs the student of science into ignoring the problems of biology and avoid critical thinking. H&W see evolutionary biology as a sociological as well as a biochemical and mathematical problem. People are generally arrogant and the requirement for a higher intelligence to explain the order of biology to most that are educated in the sciences is repulsive. H&W are quoted:
“The revulsion which biologists feel to the thought that purpose might have a place in the structure of biology is, therefore, revulsion to the concept that biology might have a connection to an intelligence higher than our own. This fits the way most people also think.” (Evolution from Space. 1981. F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe. Simon and Schuster, p.33.)
To H&W the resentment that intelligence must be required in the equation for evolution to work is similar to the pre- Copernican arrogance that viewed the Earth as the center of the Universe. More important to H&W’s argument and until recently considered laughable, is the idea that life originated somewhere beyond our planet. For H&W evolution must look beyond the borders of our planet and consider the vastness of the Universe in both time and opportunity. Most who are interested in the new science of astrobiology look at the Universe as if it were a larger, older primordial soup that improves the odds of chemical evolution leading to life and kick-starting natural selection.
H&W go much further as they develop their argument, suggesting that genetic information must have come from the skies, pre-programmed and pre-packaged. They surmise this can only happen due to the existence of a higher intelligence having an ultimate purpose. Intelligence becomes a more reasonable explanation for life just as Copernicus’ discovery found the Earth’s rotation around the Sun a better explanation for such motion. Before fully developing their theory of panspermia, H&W spend a great deal of the time highlighting the failures of Darwinian evolution. They present physical evidence that purposeless evolution has not occurred and cannot occur in the Darwinian sense. They first show that all scientific evidence that the development of life on this planet had to have occurred at the very beginning of the planet. Life just appears in the beginning of Earth-time and with such complexity so as to be bewildering. Secondly, the lack of intermediate life forms both in the geologic record and in living systems has never been resolved in biology. Plants and animals arise as massively complicated species of tremendous diversity in the sedimentary rocks with no sort of slow progression to complexity; only a stark jump in unrelated forms from rock layer to rock layer.
While presenting the facts that support these claims the authors invoke an alternative source of both living biological material and genetic information that must have seeded the planet with life and directed the diversification of those living things into more complex things; intelligently designed space matter! Looking at the level of complexity found at the beginning of the planet it is apparent to them that life was placed here from outer space. Not by spaceships but on solar winds, comets, meteors and asteroid impacts. H&W’s unique but untestable solution to this problem is to interpret the facts as the result of the periodic intervention of new virus’, bacteria or naked DNA that must have bombarded the planet at significant intervals. This then adds the much-needed information content for living systems to change or “evolve” over time. In their view: “…life on the Earth probably had many beginnings. With living cells from comet sources constantly showered over the Earth’s surface, many would manage to survive temporarily, become extinct, and then, perhaps, to become re-established again. Thus we are not committed to a single line of development” [Required by Darwinian evolution – DLM]. (Ibid., p. 76).
Chapters are devoted to the concept of how bacterial cells could have been dispersed throughout the universe and how chunks of genetic information -DNA, could have rained down on
the planet from outer space. The suggestion is made that prefabricated genetic elements having specified information and the necessary programming to integrate into the DNA of pre-existing life forms on earth have been showering down from the beginning of time. This added information somehow integrated into an organism causing life-altering changes in prescribed ways that give rise to new beings. Supposedly, this mechanism explains the jumps in life’s diversity seen in fossil geology and circumvents Darwinian failures to account for advanced complexity. Things like growth, sexual reproduction, symbiosis, metamorphosis, whole new life forms developing in a blink of geologic time and a myriad of real problems that are never dealt with by Darwinian evolutionists are supposedly fixed by directed panspermia.
A chapter is devoted to the possibility that insects are of extraterrestrial design. The mode of space travel and the incredible resilience, as well as the complexity of insect life, are described. Ultimately, the level of diversity, utility and broad adaptability of insect life are sufficient reason to propose that the planet has been deliberately invaded on multiple occasions by these incredible creatures. H&W go so far as to consider the possibility that swarms of insects may actually represent a collective, single super intelligence! To H&W the remarkable survivability of insect life, supposedly unchanged by evolution in 100 million years and able to survive the human developments of pesticides, predation by thousands of other life forms and thrive even through nuclear explosions, indicate an inevitable conclusion:
“The situation points clearly to one of two possibilities. Either we are dealing with an overt plan invented by an intelligence considerably higher than our own, an intelligence which has foreseen all our chemicals and flame-throwers, or the insects have already experienced selection pressure against intelligences of at least our level in many other environments elsewhere in the universe.” (Ibid., p. 127)
For certain the authors do not explain where and how elephants, blue whales, dinosaurs or oak trees developed through their particular form of evolution. They leave it to the readers to extrapolate on the hypothesis. Genes rain down from space. They somehow infect a creature and that creature transforms; if not in its own lifetime then in the next generation. However, such postulating provides no better solution to biology than Darwinian evolution. No one has found DNA in outer space. There are no virus’, bacteria or naked DNA that can infect all the tissues of any species; especially the gonads (sex organs; the testis and the ovaries) which is required by such a theory. So if there is a cosmic conscious working in this way to spread life throughout the Universe, none of the mechanisms suggested in the book are realistic. They, like Darwin’s evolution, are fantasy.
While at the time of their writing neither author befriended Christianity, their postulates of life raining down from the heavens remains impotent without a superior intelligence creating, managing, molding and supporting the existence of life to this day. In spite of the fact that objective reasoning and critical analysis of Darwinian evolution is forbidden even in light of the formidable complexity of living things, credit must be given to H&W for thinking outside the Darwinian box. Evolution by chance and probability does not account for what is obvious to most scientist… that life is designed. Furthermore, it must be designed by something transcendent to our knowledge of physical life. Most would call this transcendent intelligence, super-natural. Unfortunately verbalizing what is obvious is not always politically correct especially to scientist and never suggested to the public. Even H&W had concern for “retaining our credentials as scientists” (Ibid., p. 147). by suggesting that intelligence or purpose have a roll in bringing life into existence. Colleagues had warned them that their views were “generally repugnant to the scientific world” (Ibid., p.147). however, H&W were “…disturbed to discover how little attention is generally paid to fact and how much to myths and prejudice.” (Ibid.). Nevertheless, they must be applauded for their creativity but more so for their scientific objectives as they conclude with the argument which they see as self-evident: “Any theory with a probability of being correct that is larger than one part in 10 to the 40,000 power must be judged superior to random shuffling. The theory that life was assembled by an intelligence has, we believe, a probability vastly higher than one part in 1040,000 of being the correct explanation of the many curious facts discussed in preceding chapters. Indeed, such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.” (Ibid., p. 130).
While H&W are blatant that they can attribute both the origin and the evolution of life to cosmic influences they are as much adamant that a return to special creation is required. Not a “god” influence mind you and certainly not a Christian God for even a silicon chip would be preferable than God to H&W. Yet throughout their argument what becomes manifest is the need for a transcendental being neither subject to carbon or its compounds (since these are evidence of the intelligence at work) or to time and space alone.
The final assessment of their work still must lead to the embarrassing conclusion that H&W have not admitted what they know to be true. God has shown himself in creation Romans 1:19-21.