When Darwin put forward his theory in the middle of the nineteenth century, he never mentioned how the origin of life, in other words the first living cell, came to be. Scientists looking for the origin of life at the beginning of the twentieth century began to realise that the theory was invalid. The complex and perfect structure in life prepared the ground for many researchers to perceive the truth of creation. Mathematical calculations and scientific experiment and observation demonstrated that life could not be the “product of chance,” as the theory of evolution claimed.
With the collapse of the claim that coincidence was responsible and the realisation that life was “planned,” some scientists began to look for the origin of life in outer space. The best-known of the scientists who made such claims were Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. These two cobbled together a scenario in which they proposed that there was a force which “seeded” life in space. According to the scenario, these seeds were carried through the emptiness of space by gas or dust clouds, or else by an asteroid, and eventually reached the Earth, and life thus started here.
Nobel Prize–winner Francis Crick, co-discoverer with James Watson of the double helix structure of DNA, is one of those who has sought the origin of life in outer space. Crick came to realise that it is quite unreasonable to expect life to have started by chance, but he has claimed instead that life on Earth was started by intelligent “extraterrestrial” powers.
The idea that life came from outer space has influenced prominent scientists. The matter is now even discussed in writings and debates on the origin of life. The idea of looking for the origin of life in outer space can be considered from two basic perspectives.
The key to evaluating the “life began in outer space” thesis lies in studying the meteorites that reached the Earth and the clouds of gas and dust existing in space. No evidence has yet been found to support the claim that celestial bodies contained non-earthly creatures that eventually seeded life on Earth. No research that has been carried out so far has revealed any of the complex macromolecules that appear in life forms.
Furthermore, the substances contained in meteorites do not possess a certain kind of asymmetry found in the macromolecules that constitute life. For instance, amino acids, which make up proteins, which are themselves the basic building blocks of life, should theoretically occur as both left- and right-handed forms (“optical isomers”) in roughly equal numbers. However, only left-handed amino acids are found in proteins, whereas this asymmetric distribution does not occur among the small organic molecules (the carbon-based molecules found in living things) discovered in meteorites. The latter exist in both left- and right-handed forms.1
That is by no means the end of the obstacles to the thesis that bodies and substances in outer space gave rise to life on Earth. Those who maintain such an idea need to be able to explain why such a process is not happening now, because the Earth is still being bombarded by meteorites. However, study of these meteorites has not revealed any “seeding” to confirm the thesis in any way.
Another question confronting the defenders of the thesis is this: Even if it is accepted that life was formed by a consciousness in outer space, and that it somehow reached Earth, how did the millions of species on Earth come about? That is a huge dilemma for those who suggest that life began in space.
Alongside all of these obstacles, no trace has been found in the universe of a civilisation or life form that could have started life on Earth. No astronomical observations, which have picked up enormous speed in the last 30 years, have given any indication of the presence of such a civilisation.
What Lies Behind The “Extraterrestrial” Theory?
As we have seen, the theory that life on Earth was begun by extraterrestrials has no scientific basis to it. No discoveries have been made to confirm or support it. However, when the scientists who put forward the suggestion began to look in that direction, they did so because they perceived one important truth.
The truth in question is that a theory that seeks to explain life on Earth as being the result of chance is no longer tenable. It has been realised that the complexity revealed in the life forms on Earth can only be the product of intelligent design. In fact, the areas of expertise of the scientists who sought the origin of life in outer space give a clue as to their rejection of the logic of the theory of evolution.
Both are world-renowned scientists: Fred Hoyle is an astronomer and bio-mathematician, and Francis Crick a molecular biologist.
One point which needs to be considered is that those scientists who look to outer space to find the origin of life do not actually make any new interpretation of the matter. Scientists such as Hoyle, Wickramasinghe, and Crick began to consider the possibility that life came from space because they realised that life could not have come about by chance. Since it was impossible for life on Earth to have begun by chance, they had to accept the existence of a source of intelligent design in outer space.
However, the theory put forward by them on the subject of the origin of this intelligent design is contradictory and meaningless. Modern physics and astronomy have revealed that our universe originated as a result of a huge explosion some 12-15 billion years ago known as “The Big Bang.” All matter in the universe came about from that explosion. For this reason, any idea that seeks the origin of life on Earth in another matterbased life form in the universe has to explain in turn how that form of life came into existence. The meaning of this is that such a suggestion does not actually solve the problem, but takes it one step further back.
As we have seen, the thesis that “life came from outer space” does not support evolution, but is a view that reveals the impossibility of evolution and accepts that there can be no other explanation for life than intelligent design. The scientists who suggested this began with a correct analysis but then went down a false road, and started the silly search for the origin of life in outer space.
It is obvious that the concept of “extraterrestrials” cannot account for the origin of life. Even if we accept for one moment the hypothesis that “extraterrestrials” actually exist, it is still clear that they could not have come into being by chance, but must themselves be the product of intelligent design. (That is because the laws of physics and chemistry are the same everywhere in the universe, and they make it impossible for life to emerge by chance.) This shows that God, Who is beyond matter and time, and possesses infinite might, wisdom, and knowledge, created the universe and everything in it.
- Massimo Pigliucci, Rationalists of East Tennessee Book Club Discussion, October 1997