Abiogenesis apologetics

From my conversations with an EC it seems that the EC position around the origin of life is that abiogenesis (as an Atheist would believe) is a non-starter. That the first self-replicating cell (or further?) was a necessary de novo work of God.

If this is the EC position, this would present an excellent opportunity for challenging Atheists on their failure to create a plausible scenario in which an organism as complex as a self-replicating cell has come to exist by natural unguided processes.

If I am correct to this point, in what ways has the EC movement brought materials, resources, public debate and publications challenging the widespread belief in abiogenesis to the predominantly Atheist culture? As the perceived intellectual tenability of Atheism remains the principle reason Western cultures have now largely rejected Christianity.

For me, abiogenesis is not a big deal. If someone manages to make it happen in a lab one day by setting up just the right conditions, I’ll say, “Cool! Maybe that’s how God did it!” If God did it miraculously, that’s fine too. Either way is God, so why should it matter?

I think using abiogenesis as an apologetic is dangerous. It’s a God of the gaps argument, and that gap could one day be filled in.


Some ECs think that, others think that it will someday be shown that life started from natural processes. Since natural processes are ordained and governed by God this isn’t any more a problem than any other amazing natural process that science can explain without reference to God. ECs don’t expect science to find God anywhere.

If you are into arguments from incredulity about self-replicating cells with atheists, you should check out ID apologetics. It sounds like more their domain. It’s not ever really an EC argument to say, “Science can’t explain this yet, therefore…God.” ECs typically react fairly negatively to that kind of thing, calling it a “God of the gaps argument.”


In the past I would have agreed with you. But having looked into it I am amazed at the lack of explanations and actually how weak the favored Miller-Urey explanation is. Moreover the immense complexity and design evident in cell machinery and genomics have been unanswered.

I would have thought this should be an area in which all *C/ID denominations should be easily scoring points.

I expect the apathy is more an issue of framing than anything else. If NatGeo declares Miller-Urey a success, or implies it a partial victory, then people will take away the impression that it’s something that will get figured out eventually. Likewise, if cell engineering and genomics is framed as ‘interesting’ but un-challenging to any meta-narrative the same thing happens.

You are a little out of date. Abiogenesis work is evolving (pardon the pun).

The ID folks would agree with you but I personally find there is no limit to what a natural process directed by God can accomplish.

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I am a strong believer in abiogenesis and I think a working theory of this is not that far in the future. I think it will nail down the understanding of the nature of life that has been spreading among the scientific community. This is made particularly important because we have been mastering our own control over the machinery of biological organisms with the promise of biological mechanisms/machines for use in medicine. This strongly suggests that the defining characteristic of life is not the biological machinery which life happens to use on the earth, but its origin in self-organization rather than from intelligent design.

What has been learned in recent developments in scientific inquiry into abiogenesis is that there was likely a pre-biotic evolutionary history of development which brought about not only the first cells but also the use of DNA and RNA as an improved technique for passing on information to the next generation. This has also been called metabolism first theories.

Acceptance of this by evolutionary creationists means understanding the creation of living things is fundamentally different from creating non-living things like watches. Instead of engineers and designers we need to look more to the examples of farmers, shepherds, and teachers, which create their crops, herds, and educated people not by design but by providing them what they need to grow, develop, and learn.

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I’ve read a bunch of apologetics from the 1600s - it didn’t hold up well. Arguments that seemed airtight back then may have taken hundreds of years to eventually fail, but fail they did.

We’re only 400 years from Galileo, and less than one hundred from Watson & Crick & Franklin. So far, naturalistic approaches to investigating the origin of life continue to bear fruit. That’s not a foundation to build an apologetic on, IMO.


Here is a question for those of you whose gaze is always directed hopefully at those scientific horizons where you hope God [design] will finally and unequivocally be found:

What would you do with it if your wish came true?

I have this vision of the startled dog who actually catches the car. After this philosophically ground-breaking event all skeptics who are committed to keeping their eyes open would finally be forced to acknowledge …?.. in this IDist fantasy. And what would our victorious design scientists then have to say about all the rest of mere “nature”? Would it then be forever demoted to “apart from God [design]” status? No divine plan [intelligence] - apart from the gloriously revealed fingerprints in that one now enshrined museum display? All else would then only the “ordinary course of mean and lowly nature” now known to be bereft of any guidance [intelligent design]?

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I doubt this, personally. I think more people are turned off Christianity because they have a bad experience with Christians than those who contemplate its intellectual tenability.

That said, I think the perception that Evangelical Christianity rejects mainstream science has been a factor for many people deciding to leave the faith.


Woah. You’re Bout 40 years behind…


Yarus, Lane, Zagrovic, etc.

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I wrote a piece on BioLogos back in 2016 called “Signature in the Ribosome.” I can’t seem to find it now, alas. It would be germane to this conversation, and I’ve yet to see a reply from the ID crowd on the issues it raises.

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Is this it?


Yep! Very familiar. I sent it to Yarus after I saw some ID folks accuse you of misunderstanding his work. Yarus said you were spot on.


Thanks, Bill - that’s the one. When I click on the link, though, it comes up empty. Is that a web archive?

Always nice to hear from a primary source that one’s efforts are accurate. :slight_smile:

I’ve not seen an explanation from an ID perspective on why ribosomes have this pattern - have you?

All I can think of is Meyer’s and Nelson’s response to Yarus’ work.

Oh yeah. Look what just came out.


Yep, saw that (briefly) today.

Indeed, I think it is the hypocrisy of the religious that have made them fed up with religion. Just like the Pharisees, so many of the religious clearly do not believe in what they preach. They preach “God” and yet they rely on their own abilities to force their way on other people, demonstrating they have no belief or trust in God at all. They preach “faith” and yet they expect to force people with dubious arguments and violence to make people accept what they dictate. With everything they do they simply demonstrate that they have turned Xianity into a nothing more than a tool of power and the God of love into a demon of power, control and fear. Why should anyone accept a Xianity that frankly looks far more like devil worship than anything wholesome and good?