WORLD - Discovery Questions Theories About Life’s Origin

Arno Froese

Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary biology, wrote in 1871 that life first emerged in “warm little ponds,” which he imagined to be small wells of water and chemicals, heated by the sun and surrounded by rocks and air. With these few ingredients and a big dose of randomness, he posited, the basic elements of life clicked together, leading to simple life forms, like bacteria. Their evolution over millions of years eventually led to the sophisticated life forms that now inhabit the planet. 

These days, scientists generally agree with the idea that the original recipe for life was pretty simple, but they’re not sure what ingredients were necessary for those early life forms to make the leap into complex forms of life, like animals. Many scientists theorize that, since all complex life—involving cells that have multiple components—now relies on oxygen to breathe, it must have happened at a time when there was plenty of oxygen in the air. But the scientists behind a 2018 study published in Nature report that oxygen in the atmosphere didn’t rise to significant levels until after complex life arose—suggesting that oxygen wasn’t all that important after all. 

At one point in those 2.1 billion years, the geochemists show, the amount of oxygen in the air reached a concentration high enough that it led to the deep sea becoming oxygenated—sometime between 540 and 420 million years ago. They came to this conclusion by looking at rocks formed by undersea volcanoes—in particular, the iron inside them. 

More importantly, it also became clear that complex life had existed on the Earth long before the oxygenation of the sea took place. 

The more we learn about the origins of life, both simple and sophisticated, the more puzzling life seems to be. In some ways, it doesn’t seem to be very complex at all. For the most part, scientists pondering the mystery of life’s origins still think along the same lines as Darwin, proposing that the original recipe really wasn’t very complicated at all—and perhaps could have been cooked up someplace other than Earth. Paul Niles, for one, a planetary geologist with NASA investigating the possibility that life could have emerged on Mars, said in a statement in October 2017 that sometimes, life “doesn’t need a nice atmosphere or temperate surface, but just rocks, heat, and water.”, 4 January 2018

Arno's Commentary

The simple statement, “The more we learn about the origins of life…the more puzzling life seems to be,” is the truth. One theory outdoes another; many of these scientists contradict each other’s findings, often by billions of years.

What we do know is that no credible evidence has been presented to prove the existence of life earlier than approximately 6,000 years ago.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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