In a short article, ScienceNOW Daily news discusses some new research that may shed light on how life first emerged on this planet. I want to call attention to the article for a couple of reasons, but primarily because this, in my view, is how real science is done, and how it sounds when announced. No, they don’t know that this is an element of the formation of life, no, they don’t have the rest of the process, even the next step, figured out. What they have done is provide one more option, and filled in one more blank in the unknown.
Michael Behe, in his book Darwin’s Black Box describes structure after structure and process after process, recounting how we have discovered new complexity as we continue to learn more about how the function. What is a black box at one point in the history of science will not necessarily remain so. Unfortunately, Behe uses all this skillful writing to produce an ode to ignorance, and complains that evolutionary pathways have not been found. He believes they never will be. But as things get more complex, one simply has to work harder to learn the details that are part of the complexity of nature. In this case, there is now a new reaction that opens up possibilities for study. Does it resolve the problem? No! But it suggests new research and provides more options for continuing the search. That’s how science works.
Some may be wondering how I, a “theistic evolutionist” got onto the topic of abiogenesis. After all, the expected method of argument for theistic evolutionists is to distinguish evolution of life from abiogenesis. I do believe they should be regarded as distinct. But I also believe that abiogenesis will be solved, and an pathway for the origination of life will be formed. How then can I relate this to my belief that God is the creator of life? Actually, I believe God is the creator of everything. I believe God created the universe as a system, a system that works.
Let me use the analogy of my car. I don’t regard periodic maintenance requirements for my vehicle as a sign of the wisdom of the engineers. Sure, they did well to warn me of those requirements, but I would be happier if they were less frequent, and if it were practical to produce a vehicle that never required maintenance, that would be even better. I also don’t look at the simple parts of my car and determine that they did not require an engineer, while the more complex parts must have been designed. I know that each element was put there as a part of the design strategy of the car. That they work together (mostly) seamlessly, and that I cannot find parts that are “more designed” than others is not a defect.
Now as all analogies, this one has it’s limitations. My car is very little like a universe. But I think it does illustrate my point. If God designed the universe correctly, then it should work. If it requires periodic maintenance, like my car, it gives evidence of manufacture by a less-than-perfect creator.
I don’t like the idea of tinkering, whether it comes at the time of speciation or when life first came into existence. I creidt life to God whether intervention was required or not, but I suspect a competent God of getting it right the first time (A “fully gifted universe” to borrow Howard Van Till’s phrase).
So folks, I think this one will be solved in the next few years, and if you hooked your faith in God to the impossibility of life being formed from non-living matter without special miraculous intervention, you will be disappointed.
But make no mistake, no matter how thick the gloves are on God’s hands, no matter how many processes supposedly separate him from his handiwork, it is still God that does it. An omnipresent God is not less present when working through process (and consistent processes at that), than he is working directly. The evidence suggests that he prefers working through consistent processes.