I recently watched a four-part Nova episode entitled “Origins” on PBS. The premise of the broadcast was to show how much science has learned about the origins of the universe. Narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson took the viewer through the discovery of the cosmic background radiation from the big bang, the famous Drake equation that estimates the number of worlds in our galaxy with communicating civilizations, and many other scientific discoveries that provide explanations about where we came from.
I myself, as a chemical engineer, am educated with a background of science. I know what things science has proved to be true, such as evolution, relativity, and quantum mechanics. But I still have doubts about the validity of Nova’s program, in the fact that one thing is missing: proof of spontaneous life creation.
Take the Drake equation, for example. The number of potential worlds with communicating civilizations is defined as:
N = R x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L
R = rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp = percentage of stars with planets
ne = average number of planets that could support life for each star
fl = percentage of those planets where life actually develops
fi = percentage of planets where intelligence develops
fc = percentage of species that develop interstellar communication
L = average lifetime of a communicating civilization
All of the estimates and discussions presented by Tyson are predicated on one thing: that the chance that life spontaneously develops in nature is greater than zero. Well, what if it is zero? What if the only way that life begins is because some supreme being - God, Allah, Yaweh, what have you - wills it so, and maybe it has only been done once? Scientists pride themselves on being impartial, but in this one thing they refuse to present both sides of the story.
There have been numerous experiments to try to create life in the laboratory under sterile conditions. It has never been done. Explorers find life in the most unlikely places - miles down in the lightless ocean, in burning hot geothermal springs, and in the freezing Arctic ice - and proclaim that if life can exist there then it surely can develop on other planets. I say the life in those places came from somewhere else in our ecosystem on Earth. Just because it exists in these strange places doesn’t mean it developed there.
The theory called Occam’s Razor is today most often written thus: Of two equivalent theories, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred. So which then is simpler: a) that the entire universe spontaneously sprang into being from a single point, all by itself; that life created itself out of simple elements like carbon, nitrogen, iron, and oxygen; and that billions and billions of totally random genetic mutations somehow created the extraordinarily complicated diversity of life that we see around us; or b) that someone or something simply guided the creation of everything?