A Google morning headline struck me today: “Scientists Solve an Origin of Life Mystery.” Maybe this article would help me understand what began the process of my creation. Unfortunately, the subtitle made it obvious that the main headline was misleading. It read:
“Seawater might have supplied the phosphorus required for emerging life.”
Hmm…the main headline seemed definite, whereas the subtitle used the word “might.”
And then there was the first sentence of the article:
“Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Cape Town may have found a solution to the mystery of how phosphorus came to be an essential component of life on Earth by recreating prehistoric seawater containing the element in a laboratory.”
Hmm…”may” have found a solution? So, the main headline should probably read:
“Scientists May have Solved an Origin of Life Mystery“
A title like that would not have gotten my attention so much. I hope this article stays up for a long time so that this post doesn’t become obsolete. You may want to check it now to see that I am not pulling your leg. Actually, it doesn’t matter that much since articles like this happen all the time.
As I’ve been looking for a good reason to share a recent lecture with my readers, I now have a good place to put it. Anyone who is familiar with Dr. James Tour knows how great a scientist he is. This lecture was given at Rice University.
Dr. Tour works in relative obscurity compared to so many headlines like the one above. A guy calling himself “Professor Dave” has 10 times the hits on a YouTube video on this same subject. Professor Dave has nowhere near the knowledge of Dr. Tour and they disagree greatly.
The book of John begins with words that I believe:
1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. 5 And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.”
I will continue to watch for headlines like this and once a year comment on at least one of them.
In recent weeks there has been a surprising number of origin of life articles pasted to social media of all types. I tend to notice such things because I am interested in how we got here. One of these articles is seen every month or two and then, BOOM, a bunch of articles can hit at the same time. Some of these articles are written as if our modern scientists are close to figuring it all out.
“The prevailing theory now is that on a highly volatile early earth lightning struck mineral rich waters. And that the energy from lighting strikes turned those minerals into the building blocks of life: organic compounds like amino acids. Something we often refer to as the “primordial soup.”
It is the same thing I heard years ago when I was in college. The article describes the famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1952 and suggests “the experiment’s container played an underappreciated role. That perhaps it was also critical to the creation of organic building blocks inside their laboratory life soup.” The “perhaps” isn’t a surprise after reading article after article that doesn’t really seem to get us any closer to knowing the origin of life.
The article, published in the Scientific American a few days ago, is typical of these types of articles. A new and exciting discovery has been made that may perhaps change the course of science as we know it. The reality, however, is that we aren’t any closer to understanding how the primordial soup could have possibly produced a living cell.
In the past several years a scientist who knows a lot about the cell and its makeup has been attempting to educate the public about the problems associated with a simple cell originating in a primordial soup. In the following video, he makes the case that we are no closer to understanding the origin of life than we were in the 1952 experiment. Dr. Tour has made the statement that we may actually be further away from understanding the scientific origins of life because of new knowledge of the cell’s complexity among other things. This is a video that anyone interested in the subject should watch.
If anyone is interested in Dr. James Tour’s credentials, you can find them here.
Today, this was the top item on my Google phone app. It is similar to many of the articles that have been seen on major social media platforms lately.
It begins with “So here is the creation story as told by Science.” It continues with “In the beginning there was an ocean of energy.” At the end we find out that “Nearly 13.8 billion years after it all began we emerged blinking into the light.” The video is visually striking and very creative. In the 3-minute piece there is no mention of God’s involvement in creation.
Contrast this effort with the first few verses in the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
These brief explanations are surely something to chew on.
Both descriptions bring up many questions. Where did the ocean of energy come from in the beginning? If such long ages were involved, how can we narrow the time frame to our emergence after 13.8 billion years? Many Christian theologians identify “the Word” in the Gospel verses as Jesus Christ. Was Jesus there at the beginning with God and was He involved in creation? If the “Word was with God and the Word was God” are there two Gods?
I am no scientist and I would be considered an average theologian at best. At the same time, I enjoy both science and theology. I am always glad to see someone like Dr. Tour come along and question the status quo. Not only does he appear to know what he is talking about, he is likeable. It is unfortunate that only two scientists who disagree with Dr. Tour have been willing to have a public discussion with him even though he has offered to discuss origins with anyone at his own expense.
While I’ve been typing, I see that another interesting science article has popped up. It brings up part of the problem in many of today’s articles dealing with science and theology.
Anyone reading the title and neglecting to read the article might get the wrong idea. The same thing happens all of the time with articles about the study of the nature of God and religious belief (theology).
So, how do people figure out what they think about the origin of life?
I suppose it comes down to what one believes is most authoritative. In my case, I believe the Bible to be the greatest authority. I think that the Bible is “living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Because of this belief, certainty comes from verses like this:
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20
I would hope and expect scientific articles to continue to be published just like I hope theological articles will never cease. Topics related to these two areas of study are important in so many ways. I am interested enough in the claims of some of these articles to read them and consider them. There are many claims made by one Man and his followers that are 2,000 years old. They are unique claims. They are claims that every human being should assess. If God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, it should get the appropriate attention.
Here is another such article/video on the subject that popped up on my phone just hours ago. It popped up because I am subscribed to a certain YouTube channel. The introductory screen tells us that “This video was produced in collaboration with a team of 5 PhD scientists.” It has that and the comments about the video are mostly supportive. Even though this video is much more detailed than the “Redo” article, I am not knowledgeable enough of the subject to know how accurate it is. So, I do the same with it as I do with the “Redo of a Famous experiment on the origin of life…” article mentioned earlier in this post. It does not immediately become factual in my mind although I am curious enough to want to know what is being stated so that I can digest it along with other things I read and watch over time.
If you have any comments about the accuracy of this video, please share them with me. Also feel free to express your views on anything else I have written in this post.
Abiogenesisdefinition – the origin of life from nonliving matter; specifically : a theory in the evolution of early life on earth: organic molecules and subsequent simple life forms first originated from inorganic substances. – Merriam-Webster
For anyone who is not familiar with the term abiogenesis, the definition above should help. Abiogenesis is the theory that life came from things that weren’t alive.
This morning, near the top of the stories featured on Google was one from COSMOS entitled:
The article is almost a year old but it is very similar to many articles written by those studying how life could have possibly come from non-living things. It is written for people like me who have no authority to speak on such an issue but who think, like one of the young scientists featured in the article, that:
“The origin of life is part of humanity’s narrative.”
“Learning more about it isn’t only beneficial for science, it’s helping us develop our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.”
After reading the article, two things are clear:
1) These scientists aren’t kidding around. They are serious about their work and seem to be trying to find answers.
2) It certainly seems possible that they are looking in the right places and that they may be getting close to discovering how life came form non-living things.
Thankfully, the recent series by Dr. James Tour has been a help to me in this area of understanding. The series covers many items including topics that the layman (like me) would not understand. Dr. Tour discusses “the building blocks for life, including amino acids, nucleobases and lipids,” the exact same things mentioned in the Cosmos article.
The main difference between the COSMOS article (which is a pretty good representation of many scientific articles presented for layman) and the series by Dr. Tour is the explanation of how difficult it would have been for life to have appeared “spontaneously.” (It seems that the world spontaneously is a word frequently used to describe how non-living things became living things; the problem is that no one has ever explained how this happened.)
Dr. Tour’s credentials speak for themselves. You can read about them HERE. Not only is he one of the best synthetic chemists in the world, he is a Christian. In his series about Abiogenesis, he only speaks about the science of the subject according to his understanding. He does not mention the Bible. He is well versed in the scriptures but his career has been in the field of synthetic chemistry where: “Based on the impact of his published work, in 2019 Tour was ranked in the top 0.004% of the 7 million scientists who have published at least 5 papers in their careers. He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.” (Click HERE for more information about Dr. Tour.)
I have been following Dr. Tour’s work for years now. I know “appeals to authority” are often looked upon with disdain but let’s face it, everyone does it. Personally, I don’t see any problem with it whatsoever. The question in every area of life becomes: “Who do I trust to tell me the truth about this subject? ”
I am thankful that someone of Dr. Tour’s stature is speaking out on this subject. He is being ignored by many scientists in the origin of life field. He is also being treated as someone who doesn’t know what he is talking about, which is only one of the reasons he has made this presentation. Much of the course is Dr. Tour’s comments on a video that was made criticizing his own past comments. Dr. Tour handles the criticism well but is clearly frustrated by the lack of clarity that he feels is presented not only by the video discussed but by many articles in the scientific literature. One of his stated goals in this course is to provide clarity to those seeking answers about the possible origin of life.
The episodes are anywhere from twenty-five minutes to 1 hour and twenty-five minutes. You may want to pick out one of the sessions which looks interesting or you may want to start at the beginning and go from there.
My favorite contemporary scientist for years has been Dr. Robert Gentry. He went into the presence of the Lord in January. I respect him greatly because of the personal sacrifices he made to follow where the scientific evidence led him.
Now, among living scientists, I would have to put Dr. James Tour as my favorite. His resume far exceeds that of Dr. Gentry which in no way lessens the greatness of Mr. Gentry in my mind.
This is a very interesting discussion between two Scientists who happen to be Christians. (Or should I say “Christians who happen to be scientists?”)
Let me put it to you like this. Christianity is not a philosophy. What is a philosophy? Well, a philosophy is made up of ideas put forward by men, in an attempt to try to understand life and our problems and how to deal with them and how to solve them. It is a matter of ideas, of thoughts and of teachings. My point is that while there is obviously a teaching and a doctrine which is a vital part of Christianity, that is not the first thing. What differentiates this is that it is first and foremost a record of historical events and historical facts. What mean these stones outside Gilgal? All that they mean is that certain things happened to these people-history. Let us be clear about this. There are so many people today who talk about the Christian attitude-towards war and peace, a Christian attitude towards education, a Christian attitude towards art, drama and literature. Now all that tends to turn it into a philosophy, into a teaching, into a theory, into a point of view. But that is really not to be true to our position. So Christianity, we must remember, is not one of a number of theories and ideas and philosophies with respect to life. It is quite unique because it is teaching which is based upon history.
I can go further and I can say this. That this is the thing that differentiates the Christian faith from religion-from any kind of religion. You take these religions that people, some of them, are turning to at the present time. Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism, or any one of these ‘isms’. What are they? Well, they are all something invented by men. They are all teachings. They involve a kind of worship, but they are not based upon facts and upon events. They are all based upon ideas-and they are ideas that are supposed to lead you and to help you to arrive at the particular deity that you want to worship.
Now here again, you see, our Christian faith is entirely different. It calls attention to facts. And that is why this building in a sense is going to do exactly the same as the bread and the wine do in a communion service. They again are calling attention to facts. So, we must start with this all important matter-this principle-and realise that it is vital to our whole situation. The uniqueness of the Christian faith depends upon a series of historical facts and events and the teaching which results from them.
It is probably not altogether right to excerpt from one of the greats, though I think the good Doctor would be happy with my reasoning here. How many were saying in 1977, when the sermon was given, that the Bible was a good book but that much of it consisted of “meaningful fables” and “nice stories” and that its historicity was in serious question? This type of liberal Christianity, already quite popular then, was something that Martyn Lloyd-Jones abhorred. How much more are the historical parts of the Bible under attack today? Yes, parts of the scriptures are beautiful poetry and some are eschatological wonders. But there are the parts that, until the past few centuries, were always considered history and still are by men in agreement with Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Remarkably, currently and in the recent past, men are calling what has always been considered history poetry or allegory. There is the “Documentary Hypothesis” and a myriad of similar criticisms which weaken the inspired intentions of the text. Some go so far as to question the miracles.
I admire men like David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Walter Martin, and Charles H. Spurgeon and I agree with them. All great scholars, they upheld the Bible as the inspired word of God in times of question. We are living in times when many consider the Bible as just another book on the shelf. In their time, these great men were astonished that anyone could have such an opinion and if any were with us today I think they would receive more mocking than they did in their day and would respond no differently than when they were alive.
This is a sermon that needs to be heard more today than ever. I am including a link to the text of this sermon and another to the recording of the actual sermon. Either would be more than worth your time.
I’m always watching the next generation. I’ve been watching videos made by this young man this year. You may disagree with me but I think he is an artist. I think his message, in the end, is that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I will continue to watch his videos unless they take a very strange turn, like if he publicizes NAR leaders, or if his videos get too graphic. I think he has quite a following among the younger folks. I understand this means nothing but his message appears to be a scriptural one.
This is only one of his videos but what do you think?
P.S. I do wonder about the title “Prophetic Message” on his YouTube video. As he covers many of the signs like the ones Jesus speaks about in Matthew 24, I will give Jason the benefit of the doubt that he means the Bible is God’s prophetic message, not anything that he is “saying.”
Jason has taken down the word “Prophetic.” Makes me like him all the more and it shows that my guess in the P.S. was correct. His usage of scripture made it a pretty easy call but there are so many using the word “prophet” solely to make money these days, one must be on guard.
Today, I read an article about a young boy who thought he was more like a girl a few years back so adults allowed him to take drugs to enhance his feminine feelings. Two years later, the twelve year old boy has outgrown his female sentiments and wants to be a boy again. There will be a surgery to remove breasts that the drugs helped form.
I was, and still am, curious. When did the idea of having a sex change first cross a human mind? After searching the internet for information, I wasn’t able to get that far back in history. Maybe someone can share their knowledge with me in the comments section.
I did find a related article from yesterday that is quoted above (click on the quote to go to the article). As I recall, God created man and woman. There are only two sexes. Now, states and entire nations are beginning to recognize a third gender.
The world is going mad.
Here is an article about some doctors that I agree with:
It has happened again. I have once again been reminded of God’s love in such a simple way. You see, I was busy doing yard work. Where I live, if you are in charge of a yard of almost any size, there is no need for a membership to one of those health clubs. All that is necessary is a few hours of outside summer work, not that vigorous mind you, and the pounds will melt away. Well, I was sweating away and there it was. I wasn’t looking for it but it couldn’t be missed. A butterfly landed just a few feet from where I was working. There was no option but to stop what I was doing and take in the beauty of the small creature. He sat there for minutes, working his wings slowly back and forth. Did he/she know I was watching him/her?
I don’t know a lot about butterflies, but whenever this happens everything else stops and God comes to mind. Did God send this butterfly to remind me of his mercy and glory? I don’t know but it always has that effect.
I had seen this type before but, just like people, they are all different. This one had a bit more orange at the edge of its wings than I have seen before. It was decided that the name of this type of butterfly would be researched.
How can one not appreciate this awesome creation of God? There is a great debate whether it even is a creation of God. I have never understood that question but atheists and theologians spend hours on why people like me don’t understand the debate.
The butterfly is like many things in life, it can be seen for its simpleness or for its complexity. There is nothing wrong with the two but humans tend to either under or overthink things. I’ve found an attempt at staying somewhere in the middle keeps me sane.
It is important to come to a conclusion about the origin of the butterfly. What one thinks about it will affect one’s entire view of the world. The butterfly reminds me that the Gospel message has levels of complexity. That God loved us enough to send Jesus to pay for our sins is something that most children can get some sort of grasp on. Yet, theologians spend hours on just how God has saved us. There are certainly enough questions on subjects like, justification, sanctification, free-will, predestination, evil, heaven, hell, and the list goes on and on and is enough to keep any student of the Bible busy for a lifetime.
There are those who think the butterfly is the result of some sort of evolutionary process. They spend hours and hours trying to figure out ways that it could have appeared.
The butterfly makes things simple for me for a wonderful moment of time. All the questions disappear in appreciation of the alluring little glider. The focus is on the creation. It moves so peacefully and seems so delicate. Then I remember the complex process the small critter went through to take its current form. Anyone who has read much of this blog knows my opinion. Like the butterfly, Christians are the result of a creative process that continues until the day we die. There is a God. We have been created in His image. God loves mankind so much that he sent his only begotten Son to die so that we might live.