Lab #3, The Origins of Life
December 11, 2022
In this lab, you will explore various solutions to the Origins of Life and evaluate Christian responses to the ongoing field of research.
Threatened by a Naturalistic Origins of Life
While some might feel threatened by Origins of Life research, Theologian Kyle Greenwood proposes a possible solution on p.205 of Chapter 8 of Scripture and Cosmology. He writes that,
“Often this threat stems from the so-called God-of-the-gaps idea, in which it is only in the inexplicable that we find God. But as human investigation delves deeper into the mysteries of the universe—both at the macroscopic and microscopic levels—there is less and less to relegate to the mystery of the divine.”
To this, he provides the solution that:
“This ought not be. If, as Scripture asserts, God reveals himself in creation, then the more we learn about his wondrous works, the more we learn about the God who fashioned them.”
Major in the Majors, God is the Creator
As theologian John Walton writes in The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate in Proposition 16 of that book:
Though the Bible upholds the idea that God is responsible for all origins (functional, material or otherwise), if the Bible does not offer an account of material origins we are free to consider contemporary explanations of origins on their own merits, as long as God is seen as ultimately responsible. Therefore whatever explanation scientists may offer in their attempts to explain origins, we could theoretically adopt it as a description of God’s handiwork. Scientific discussions of origins include a variety of different sciences including physics, geology, biochemistry and biology. As we consider these areas we might say that if there was a big bang (the current leading scientific explanation adopted by physicists and cosmologists), that is a description of how God’s creation work was accomplished. If it turns out that some other explanation works better, God was at work through that. If the universe is expanding, God is at work. If geological strata were laid down eon by eon, God is at work. If various life forms developed over time, God is at work. Since biological evolution is the hot spot for controversy, we will focus our attention on that aspect of origins.
The point that Greenwood and Walton are getting at is a very important point. No matter what we discover in the natural world, no scientific explanation can ever be pitted against God as the Creator.
Science is Not Going to Stop
So we will look at various solutions to this problem for the Origins of Life as despite the claims of well-meaning Christians that there will never be a ‘natural explanation’ for the Origins of Life, science is not going to stop. Historically speaking, this argument has failed every single time Christians pointed to the lack of a natural explanation as ‘proof’ of God.
Part 1: Christians Writing About Science
An Overview of Christian Science Ministries
The major organizations who take the Scriptures seriously are:
· Young Earth Creationism (i.e. Young Earth and anti-evolution): Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, Creation Ministries International
· Progressive Creationism (i.e. Old Earth, but anti-evolution): Reasons to Believe
· Evolutionary Creation (i.e. Old Earth, evolution best explanation we currently have): BioLogos
While there can be some great differences in this short list, there are a few core agreements that each of these groups hold to like the resurrection of Christ and the Gospel, God as the ultimate Creator regardless of the method or timeline, and the importance of the Scriptures to name a few.
Part 1: Evaluation of Christian Articles
Your task will first be to find one article on the Origins of Life for each of the categories of Christian thinking. Try to find as recent an article as possible. For convenience the websites are listed here:
· One from a Progressive Creationism website: http://reasons.org/
· One from an Evolutionary Creation website: http://biologos.org/
For convenience, here is one article from each but you are welcome to choose any you like:
· Young Earth Creationist Article: https://www.icr.org/article/new-life-origins-theory-has-old-problems
· Old Earth Creationist/Progressive Creationist Article: https://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2017/08/13/no-reducing-atmosphere-for-naturalistic-origin-of-life
· Evolutionary Creationist Article: https://biologos.org/articles/origins-of-life-the-questions-are-big-and-the-answers-complex
Note: articles can get very technical. It is unclear as to why this is, but read through all three and for each answer the following:
1. What is your first reaction after reading the article?
2. How does the article characterize science and/or scientists?
3. What does the article have to say about God or any Scriptures?
4. If you were the one who has spent perhaps your entire life working on this one idea, how would you react to how the Christian article characterizes your work?
5. What scientific papers or research ideas are being addressed in the article?
6. What target audience does the paper seem written for?
7. If you were not a Christian, how would you react to the article?
Check: did you answers these seven questions for each of the Christian perspectives? If you chose articles other than the ones listed, are the articles you chose about the origins of life? E.g. an article about dinosaurs, while interesting, is not related to the origins of life.