Why Is the Big Bang Evidence That God Created the Universe? – Program 5

By: Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Fuz Rana, Ken Samples; ©2002
How did life originate on planet earth? Did God create it? Did it come about through naturalistic evolution? What is some combination of the two?

Life on Earth: Did It Arise Through Naturalistic Evolutionary Means?

Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg Show why are astronomers talking about God? Does the big bang theory prove that a transcendent causal agent brought all matter, energy, space and time into existence? Our concept of the universe and how it originated shapes our entire worldview. If the universe has always existed and is nothing more than an accident then human life has no meaning. But, if the universe had a beginning and is created than the creator is the source of life who establishes purpose and meaning. What does the scientific evidence reveal? Do the words “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” accurately describe what science has discovered? My guests today are astrophysicist and astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross who received his PH.D in astronomy from the University of Toronto and did post doctoral research at Cal-Tech on Quasars, Mr. Fazale Rana who received his PH.D in chemistry at Ohio University, and Philosopher and Theologian Kenneth Samples of Biola University. We invite you to join us.


Ankerberg: Welcome. Today we’re talking about a fascinating topic and that is, how did life originate on earth? Did it evolve through evolutionary means? Or did God create? Do we have scientific evidence that leads us one way or the other?
My guests are: Dr. Hugh Ross, astronomer and astrophysicist; Dr. Fuz Rana, who received his Ph.D. in chemistry at Ohio University; and philosopher and theologian, Ken Samples. Guys, we’re glad that you’re here.
And Fuz, we’re going to start with you right off the bat here. What does science know about life’s origin? What’s their theory of how we all got here?
Rana: Well, first of all, with respect to what are the facts, a surprising result that’s come out of the last ten years of research with regard to the timing of life’s appearance on earth is that life appears on earth as soon as the earth could even remotely support life. Scientists date the age of the earth around 4½ billion years in age, and from that time until around 3.9 billion years, for a number of reasons the earth could not support life. It was the Hadean era. The conditions were “hellish” conditions, where the rock on the earth was largely in the molten state; the oceans were from time to time in a vapor state. Life could not have survived under those conditions. Around 3.9 billion years ago, the first rocks formed, the oceans become permanent features. And in rocks that date 3.8 billion years in age we see an unequivocal chemical signature for life’s presence; and at 3.5 billion years in age, we see fossilized life forms in the geological record. Life appears dramatically, and suddenly, and very early in earth’s history.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Let’s slow this one down. Hugh, I want to bring you in. First of all, the universe started when?
Ross: 13.7 billion years ago.
Ankerberg: We know that from all the scientific information that’s when it started. And as soon as the astronomers and astrophysicists came out with that date, the biologists hollered and said, “Wait a minute! That’s not enough time! We can’t get life out of chance, by chance, to happen.” Okay, but it’s not 13.7 [billion years] that they’re working with. They’re working with what in terms of earth time?
Rana: No more than 50 million years of time, maybe even less than that.
Ankerberg: Let’s boil that down because earth came into existence, when?
Ross: 4.566 billion years ago.
Ankerberg: Okay. Four billion years ago. And then you have this Hadean, which comes from Hades, this idea that we’re being bombarded, so you’ve got fireballs encircling the earth. Life couldn’t originate under those circumstances. And we’re going to show a little video about this in a minute. Okay? And that lasted up until when?
Ross: About 3.85 billion years ago.
Ankerberg: Okay, about 3.8. And when are the first signs of life that show up in the fossil record?
Rana: Almost immediately after the earth could support life, which is right around 3.8 billion years ago. So, the time that the earth exits this Hadean era and the time that life appears is essentially, in a geological sense, coincidental.
Ankerberg: So, boom, you have a time problem.
Rana: Right.
Ankerberg: It’s impossible “by chance” to get all this stuff just to happen.
Rana: Right. Even the well-known origin of life researcher Stanley Miller acknowledges that life would have to have originated in a time frame less than ten million years.
Ankerberg: Yeah. So the fact is, the first thing is the time problem. The second thing we’re going to show them in this video clip coming up is the fact of all the textbooks – and we’ve got a bunch of the textbooks that are used here in the state of Tennessee and these are also used in California and different places around the country, and I’ve read these things now, and the students are being told about the “prebiotic soup.” I remember the prebiotic soup and the chemicals that were supposed to form, and then somehow we’re supposed to get information into those chemicals and more and more complex life forms. But, boom! All of a sudden you scientists are saying now there’s evidence there was no prebiotic soup. Is that true?
Rana: That’s exactly true. You don’t see any type of geochemical signature in the oldest rocks on earth that indicate there were organic materials produced through non-biological means. All the organic remains were a product of biological activity. Couple that with the fact that we now know that the conditions for the early earth simply could not have sustained the production of prebiotic compounds.
Ankerberg: What’s that thing you look for? Carbon 12?
Rana: Carbon 12, which is a life form of carbon.
Ankerberg: That comes from living material.
Rana: That’s right.
Ankerberg: And you find that, but you don’t find the other.
Rana: That’s right. The ratio of carbon 12 to carbon 13 is an indicator, not only of biological activity, but scientists can even tell you whether it was photosynthesis or some other metabolic process that generated it.
Ankerberg: Okay, if you’ve got a short time line, all of a sudden life just shows up quick in the fossil record, and the fact is that we have no prebiotic soup, then what’s the theory right now?
Rana: Well, origin of life researchers are feverishly looking for a source of prebiotic compounds. Others have just simply said, “Well, there’s no way that these could have formed on earth; therefore, we’re going to appeal to outer space. Maybe these compounds were delivered to earth through comets and asteroids.” And others are even saying, “Well, maybe life originated somewhere else and was transported to earth.” And so now the origin of life becomes not how life emerged on earth, but rather, how life got to earth. But really, that’s just postponing the problem to another location in the universe.
Ankerberg: Alright, let’s put the video to this where you guys at Reasons to Believe have put together this video documentary that takes us through space, back to the creation event. And one of the sections has to do with what earth was experiencing at the beginning – the bombardment, if you want, of the primordial earth with asteroids. And we’re going to see what that looked like; and then, this whole thing of the prebiotic soup and what science has found. This is absolutely fascinating, folks. Let’s watch this.

[*** Excerpt from Journey Toward Creation ***]

Besides the moon and an occasional asteroid, earth’s nearest neighbors, are the planets Mercury and Venus on the inside, between the sun and the earth, and Mars on the outside.
Our closest neighbor, Venus, like Mercury, is so close to the sun that the sun’s gravity has worked like a set of brakes on its rotation period. Venus takes 244 earth days to spin around just once. Our planet rotates about four times more slowly today than when life first appeared. Scientists have determined that a more radical change in earth’s rotation rate would have been catastrophic for life.
Mercury, like the moon, has only a slight atmosphere, therefore, since virtually no erosion has occurred, Mercury’s oldest geologic features remain: the scars of ancient impacts by asteroids and comets. Mercury’s meteor-scarred landscape documents for us the early history of the inner planets – a time of intense asteroidal and cometary bombardment. This heavy assault not only took place on Mercury, but also on Venus, Mars, and the moon. Likewise, the primordial earth was not spared from this intense bombardment, even more so because of earth’s greater mass. This heavy bombardment resulted in searingly hot conditions, hot enough to vaporize the earth’s oceans, and melt the earth’s crust. Obviously, no possibility for life existed at that time.
For decades scientists theorized that life on earth arose from a vast collection of non-living molecules called “the prebiotic soup,” a process that required billions of years. But now research has shown that life arose quickly, in less than a few millions years after the late heavy bombardment. In addition, there is no evidence for a prebiotic soup. If there was a prebiotic soup, we’d expect to find the remains of it in ancient carbonaceous material, such as carrageen and graphite.
As it turns out, all carbonaceous material, on and in the earth, comes from post-biotic material, the decay of established life.

[*** end excerpt ***]

Ankerberg: Fuz, are these the only problems that the evolutionary theory has that life shows up early, and the fact is that there was no prebiotic soup?
Rana: Well, these are just a few of the problems. Another problem is that not only does life appear suddenly and early in earth’s history, but that the first life forms that appear are complex. Now, the first life forms were like bacteria. And we have this perception that bacteria are relatively simple organisms because they’re single celled and small. But in a biochemical sense, they’re incredibly complex organisms. I mean, you essentially have a molecular city at work inside the cell. And in fact, from the geochemical fingerprints and from the fossil record we can infer that these first life forms must have had photosynthetic capability, something called “chemo-autotrophic capability.” They had to be able to undergo cell division; they had to be able to produce proteins in their cell wall; convert small inorganic materials from the environment into life’s building blocks. This is incredibly complex metabolically.
Ross: It’s more than just one bacterial species.
Rana: Yeah, more than one species. But even the simplest forms that can do this have to have about 2,000 genes. And also, you’re looking at a complex ecology. It’s not just the single type of bacterium, but it’s an ensemble of different bacterial species.
Ankerberg: And I’m also understanding from what you’ve written, the fact is that it had to happen almost all at once. In other words, you don’t go “Step A” and you get to “B” going toward a conclusion over here. In order for Step A to work, you’ve got to have B, C, D, already operating.
Rana: Right.
Ankerberg: Okay? How do we get there? How does everything all of a sudden just begin?
Rana: Well, from a naturalistic perspective, there is no way to explain that, and that’s why the evidence is indicating a Creator’s supernatural fingerprint, is everything has to come into existence all at once in order for life to operate.
Ankerberg: Hugh, you said that ecologically, everything has got to be balanced here. What did you mean?
Ross: What I mean is that the Creator brings upon the scene 3.8 billion years ago a suite of different bacterial species that symbiotically work together to rapidly prepare the earth for future human life. So it’s not just the Creator starting off with one bacteria and then waiting some time and doing another one. He creates a whole suite of bacteria, some that begin to work at taking the soluble poisonous metals and converting them into insoluble metals that we can mine. So the Creator is making the planet safe for advanced life.
Ankerberg: Yeah. I want to talk about the information that these little cells, these molecules need as well. In other words, you can have the “stuff” of a computer, you can have the hardware, okay? But you can bang on your computer forever and no system is going to come up unless you’ve got some information, you’ve got a program in there, alright? You can have “stuff” on the earth, but how do you get the “information” that tells every little cell what to do?
And Fuz and Hugh, here’s your new book, Origins of Life. And inside that book you talk about information. We’ve got a problem here in evolutionary theory, that is, that if you have the “stuff” and they somehow replicate, the fact is, you’ve got to have information guiding the replication. Where does the information come from?
Rana: Well, that is a huge problem for origin of life researchers. Assuming you have these prebiotic compounds, they now have to be converted into bio-molecules that can carry out function, and all bio-molecules are information-laden. For example, proteins carry out virtually every activity in the cell, and they’re made by linking together smaller molecules called amino acids – kind of like putting together letters to make words, the cell puts together amino acids to make proteins. Well, the probability of hitting a functional protein through a random assemblage of amino acids is roughly one chance in 1075.
Ross: Just one protein?
Rana: This is one protein. Now, what does that probability mean? Well, if you assumed optimal conditions for the origin of life where these amino acids could come together once per second, it would take 1023 years to have a 95% chance of getting a single protein, but we’re talking about needing maybe almost 2,000 proteins for life to emerge. Now, as Hugh has told us, the universe is 13.7 billion years in age, roughly 1.3 times 1010 years in age, meaning we’ve gone less than one trillionth of the time we need to produce even a single protein, let alone those 2,000 proteins that need to come together simultaneously for life to emerge.
Ankerberg: Hey, but my philosopher and theologian here, in light of what he’s saying as a scientist, what do you make of the textbooks that we just held up where they say the most important concept in biology is evolution, and nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution?
Samples: Well, there are some very serious problems with a statement like that. And as Fuz has pointed out numerous times, life appears suddenly; it appears in a complex form. And in looking at that kind of statement about evolution, it would seem that the evidence runs against it rather than supporting it. From a logical point of view, it appears to be an assumption rather than the kind of conclusion you draw from strong evidence.
Ankerberg: Hugh, I also have another one for you. This comes from the National Science Teachers Association, a quote that came out just before we did this program and this is going right across the country, advising all the teachers as they’re going to teach our kids in the high schools and colleges: “There is no longer a debate among scientists over whether evolution has taken place, but there is a considerable debate over how evolution has taken place.” How in the world can you have no longer a debate, how can evolution be considered a fact, and yet they don’t know how it happened?
Ross: Well, John, they play a shell game with the term “evolution.” You know, as a physicist, evolution basically means “change took place over time.” And that’s something that all scientists accept; it’s something that all Christians accept. I mean, Genesis teaches that about the history of life on earth. So that’s not up for debate. But there is a debate over how those changes took place, what’s behind those changes, what are the causal agents. That’s where fertile debate needs to take place, and unfortunately, there’s not enough freedom for that debate yet in this country.
Ankerberg: Let me come back to another one. “Scientific disciplines with the historical components such as astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology cannot be taught with integrity if evolution is not emphasized.”
Ross: Well, that would be accurate if we’re talking only evolution as defined, “change with respect to time.” But if you say “change with respect to time without divine miraculous intervention,” now you’ve come up with a theory that is theological as well as scientific that needs to be tested against other explanations for the change with respect to time.
Ankerberg: Fuz, let me ask you this thing about DNA and RNA. You need both to interact with each other. You’ve got neither starting out. How do you get there?
Rana: Well, this is what’s called “the chicken and egg paradox” by origin of life researchers. Everybody thinks that DNA can replicate itself. Well, it really can’t. It needs an ensemble of molecular machines to actually replicate it. But the problem is that the information needed to make those proteins that are involved in replicating DNA are contained by the DNA, so you can’t have DNA replication without proteins, and you can’t have proteins without DNA. And the way that the origin of life community kind of “resolves,” if you will, this “chicken and egg” problem is to say, “Well, there was another molecule that predated DNA and proteins that gave rise to DNA and proteins” and they call this “RNA.” And RNA is found in contemporary biochemical systems as an intermediary between the information in DNA and the production of proteins. And so origin of life researchers said, “Well, maybe there is this RNA world where all these RNA molecules simultaneously served as the information source and as the molecules that carried out the cells’ activity.”
Ankerberg: And what’s wrong with that?
Rana: Well, nobody knows how to produce RNA or the building blocks of RNA on the primordial earth. In fact, Hugh and I, last summer, went to the International Conference on the Origin of Life. And a scientist named Leslie Orgel, who is probably not known as a household name, but in the scientific arena is a well-known origin of life researcher, made the comment in the opening talk that if a strand of RNA would have appeared on the early earth, it would have been a miracle, so great are the problems from a naturalistic explanation.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I’ve got to do this because right now you guys told me something, and the fact is that in reading the high school textbooks, okay, what are the kids being taught in the junior high, high school and college versus what are they being told at MIT and Berkeley? You say it’s different. How is it different? Hugh?
Ross: It’s different in that what we’re talking about is up to date. I mean, there really has been a revolution in origin of life research in the past few years where they’re recognizing that from a naturalistic perspective, it’s an intractable problem. That’s not yet in the textbooks.
Ankerberg: Okay. Pick one more, and that’s homochirality. That’s a fancy word. What does it mean?
Rana: It essentially means “handedness.” You know, like you have a left hand and a right hand….
Ankerberg: You’re referring to proteins.
Rana: Right. These are the mirror images of one another. Well, the building blocks for proteins, amino acids, essentially can exist in two forms that are mirror images of one another; but in all the proteins in living systems, the amino acids are left-handed. There’s no right-handed amino acids that are found.
Ankerberg: You’re telling me that the guys, when they did the experiments – we’ve all seen Urey and Miller’s experiment where you get the flask and you put the fluids and you put the spark, like the primordial earth. Now we know there is no primordial soup, but the fact is, take that experiment and the fact is, you get the chemicals. Okay? The proteins that you get there always are both right- and left-handed.
Rana: Right.
Ross: Well, it’s amino acids. You don’t get proteins.
Ankerberg: Amino acids. Right.
Ross: But you’re right. They come 50/50.
Ankerberg: Okay, and what you need is, you need a hundred percent of one kind.
Rana: That’s right. Because if you don’t, the chains that will result, the amino acid chains that result can’t fold into the proper three-dimensional shape if it’s a mixture of left-handed and right-handed amino acids. It has to be either all left-handed or all right-handed. You can’t have a mixture.
Ankerberg: Okay, you’ve got just an amazing amount of problems for the evolutionary theory. And I asked you guys, “Well, then, where are the scientists going?” And what they’re doing is, they’re getting these off-the-chart theories; namely, it’s got to come from some other planet or outer space or even aliens. Now, people might laugh, but this is really what they’re saying, right?
Ross: These are serious proposals that are being made because of the fact that we can’t explain it from a naturalistic perspective on the surface of the earth. So they’re saying it’s got to come from the distant stars. And they’re actually looking in astronomy to try to find a mechanism to drive homochirality. But all we can find is circularly polarized ultraviolet light that gives you a few percent excess of left-handed relative to right-handed, and in regions where you’re not going to be able to preserve these prebiotic molecules.
Ankerberg: Yeah, you said that’s why NASA is looking for life on Mars. And we need to tell the people that if you hear that they found some kind of life on Mars, in other words, organisms, bacteria or something, okay, you’re saying it could have come from earth, number one.
Ross: Right.
Ankerberg: And number two, the reason that they’re looking for it is because they can’t figure it out from looking at earth.
Ross: Right.
Ankerberg: Explain that again.
Ross: Well, as you point out, you know, about nine million pounds or more of earth-like material has been transported from planet earth to Mars through meteoritic transport. So it’s inevitable that NASA sooner or later will find remains of life on Mars. It’s got to be there because of its proximity to earth. However, if they begin to check the DNA signatures and the protein signatures, they’ll find that this is remnants of earth life rather than indigenous life. But unfortunately, I don’t think they’re going to bother to check, at least not initially, and therefore may give an alarming announcement that they have found indigenous life on Mars.
Ankerberg: Ken, from this evidence, sum this up. What is the conclusion?
Samples: Well, I actually think that given that NASA and other origin of life researchers are looking to space, to alternative theories, this illustrates the real bankruptcy of any attempt to try to explain life on this planet naturally. I mean, the philosophy of naturalism and materialism is in serious trouble.

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