Life on Earth - Two Faiths
Myriads of life forms now exist on the earth, from microscopic bacteria to Bactrian camels, from mushrooms to maple trees. One Faith accepts the words of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” followed by the six days of preparing terrestrial conditions and placing of land plants; aquatic life and flying creatures; land animals and man. Belief in creation is a matter of faith in the Bible account.
• The other Faith believes that only the known natural laws of nature, apart from the intervention of an outside intelligence, were involved in the production of all life. The earth happened to have the conditions to permit the existing minerals to become interconnected to form the first life. This first life form was able to survive and replicate over millions of years while evolving into the existing vast complexity of life.
Belief in evolution is a matter of faith in an inexplicable process which is still hotly debated. Evolution denies that there was any intelligent design of living creatures. It sees both the origin of life and its subsequent development as purely a matter of chance. The earth with all its life will eventually be destroyed by the sun, while the production of new life anywhere else will be made impossible in an ever-expanding universe.
• Which faith makes the most sense? To make our decision about the origin of life we need to know the three qualities which defines life. That can help to assess what the possibility is of it arising spontaneously, or whether the only explanation of the facts is special creation.
All living things are composed of cells, which are generally microscopic in size. Thin sections of plant and animal tissue under the microscope show that they are made up of various kinds of cells. But there are also single-cell animals and plants, such as bacteria, yeasts, and protozoa. While cells are of different shapes and sizes, all living matter consists of them. In fact life is only known to exist within a cell. Furthermore, there are certain characteristics of this living substance in cells which distinguish it from non-living matter, like salt.
• A molecule of a substance is the smallest part of it that can exist on its own. Non-living matter consists generally of small molecules Cells are unique in that they always contain organic molecules which are always very large, whereas non-living matter consists generally of small molecules. Some of these large molecules in cells are relatively very big indeed, often hundreds of thousands of times bigger than a molecule of salt.
Second, living material can grow, and third, it can replicate itself. A bacterial cell can enlarge and then divide into two identical cells in twenty minutes. Living substance has therefore been defined by science as “a highly complex substance having large organic molecules as its primary ingredient, organized in cells, and having the characteristics of growth and reproduction.”
• Darwin evidently had not thought through the crucial role of cells in living things, despite that Schwann and Schleiden had stated in 1839 that cells are the “elementary particles of organisms” in both plants and animals and the earlier discoveries of the nucleus in 1833, and of protoplasm. Cells are now known to be very complex things - far more complex than when the original theory of evolution was first thought of. More next time, God willing.