Origin Of LifeOrigin of Life - What's the latest theory?
When it comes to the origin of life, "evolutionary theory" is still the foundation of today's scientific worldview. By and large, the text books teach that organic life sprung from non-organic matter exclusively through a natural mechanistic process on a pre-biotic earth. That original life form then evolved into more complex life forms through a natural process of random mutations and natural selection. In a nutshell, the majority scientific hypothesis is that matter randomly acting on matter for a long period of time created everything we see.
That's pretty much what I remember - no real change there...
Wait! My skeptical mind started churning...
How can nothing explode? Where did all that matter and energy come from? What caused its release? How did this explosion of everything (from nothing) order itself? How can simplicity become complexity? Where did the chemical elements come from? Where did the mathematical laws and physical properties come from? How do we explain the design, complexity and fine-tuning inherent in spiral galaxies, solar systems, and stars?
How did life come from a rock? How did a bird come from a lizard? Why don't we see birds come from lizards today? Why are there no transitional fossils in our museums today? Why have we never observed beneficial mutations? Where did the information code in DNA come from? Where did the language convention that interprets DNA come from? How can we explain the random development of the human eye, reproductive system, digestive tract, brain, heart and lungs? What about the subconscious mind? What about love, morality, ethics, and emotions? Can these things really evolve gradually and randomly over time?
Jeepers! What was happening to me?
Literally, I was in a state of "stream-of-consciousness" skepticism. Everything I knew (and thought I knew) about the world around me didn't make sense any more. I couldn't go back! If I was going to be intellectually honest with myself, I couldn't retreat to my prior way of thinking... I had to go forward and personally look at the observable evidence... But, where to begin?
By chance, a co-worker had collected a few of today's high school biology text books. I opened one on a lark, and was stunned by the first page I saw. There was the same evolutionary chart of species that I remembered from the wall of my high school classroom. It was a tree-like graphic with a bunch of simple life forms at the bottom, and a series of more complex creatures towards the top. I always thought that was a reasonable presentation, but now my skeptical mind was whirring...
Regardless of any theoretical problems with the tree itself, what about all the evolutionary processes required to get to the first simple life forms at the bottom of the chart in the first place?