Quest for a Creatorless Origin of Life - 3
The report of finding evidence of life on Mars in a meteorite purported to be from Mars quickly aroused excitement in the scientific community. Others began to investigate various aspects of the original tests. Later testing found that the carbonate minerals had formed at much higher temperatures than liquid water.
Others questioned how magnetotactic bacteria - bacteria which move in response to the magnetic characteristics of their environment - how these could have developed on Mars, which has a very weak magnetic field. It was also pointed out that the chains of magnetic crystals are much smaller than bacteria, and would not be large enough to support life.
The examination of other meteorites revealed that in actual fact all meteorites show evidence of life - but it is all from the earth. In only a few months after it has fallen, microbes are able to find their way deep into a meteorite.
But while the belief continues to be unshakeable in the spontaneous origin of life, scientists continue looking for an explanation of how it could have occurred. One approach has been to search for fossil evidence of what would be expected to be the very earliest organisms. If such evidence could be found, goes the thinking, in what could be shown to be multi-billion years old rock, it would support the view that “life is a cosmic imperative”.
In other words, wherever in the universe the conditions are right, the emergence of life is a natural outcome of chemical interaction - as natural as the formation, say, of diamonds and other precious stones in the earth. J.W. Schopf, a paleontologist - studying extinct and fossil plants and animals - identified numerous new species of microbes. These were found as fossils in “1-2 billion year old rock.” Then, in 1993 he announced his discovery of actual single cells of several different species in rock which was said to be 3½ billion years old.
Nine years later a team of paleontologists at Oxford, led by M. Brasier, announced the result of their examination of the same rock samples. They found that the images recorded by Schopf were taken from single slices of rock and so were two dimensional views which showed the likeness of microbes. Instead, the Oxford team viewed the images in three dimensions, and found that they had shapes greatly differing from that of microbial organisms.
Once again, the scientific method - which includes collecting facts, and then allowing others to check and verify those facts - has shown that scientists, like any other humans, can make mistakes. But the impetus to find scientific proof that there is no divine Creator moves apace. A Herculean effort, sustained over a very long time has been expended, but it is frankly admitted in the scientific community that they have no idea how life could have begun, unassisted by the intervention of a highly intelligent Designer.
A consideration of the origin of life has more concerns than the design and construction of the simplest organism. The earth is now populated with myriads of species in various ecosystems. The World Wildlife Fund aims “to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment.” It speaks of maintaining “the natural balance in an ecosystem”. Ecological balance was earlier called the balance of nature, in which it was believed that nature was kept in permanent state of balance. This idea is rejected by ecologists, but the fact remains that, unassisted by mankind, current forms of life have managed for thousands of years not to go extinct.