Can Science Explain How Life Began?
The Philosophical Bias
How did life begin in the universe? How did life begin here on our tiny planet? This fundamental question has HUGE implications, because the answer will shape our view of the world completely. Are we the result of unguided natural processes, or are we the result of a designer God? Before we turn to science for this answer, we need to quickly review the philosophy that guides science and directs its conclusions. This philosophy is called ‘philosophical naturalism’. It is the presumption that only natural causes can be used to explain what it is that we see happening in our world. I know that may sound complicated, but when it comes right down to it, ‘philosophical naturalism’ is simply the belief that there are NO supernatural forces in the universe (such as God) that can be used to explain the phenomena that we see in the world around us. Think of it like looking into an old box or chest.
Focusing on the Inside of the Box
You walk up on the box and open it. Of course you immediately recognize that there is an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ to consider here. Well, this is pretty much how secular science sees the world. There’s an ‘inbounds’ and an ‘out of bounds’. The ‘inbounds’ is all the stuff that can be seen and understood inside this box. It is the natural world; the world filled with natural laws of science and the matter we see all around us. The ‘out of bounds’ is the realm of the supernatural. All that kind of ‘God’ stuff is clearly out of the box for the naturalist. Naturalism requires all answers to come from inside the box we are living in! Well, if we really want to test this philosophical approach to science, we simply have to begin to examine the things that are in our world. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say you opened the box and discovered that it contained a beautiful locket.
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And let’s say I asked you the simple question, “So, tell me how the locket got in the box…” Now, while you might want to respond, ‘Duh, someone put it in there!’, you need to remember that the answer cannot come from something that is outside of the box! The naturalist must rely on the stuff inside the box to explain what he or she sees. So maybe you think for a second and come up with a good answer. You say, “Hey, the locket simply formed over time from all the pre-existing materials that were in the box!” OK, now you’ve hit on something! Your theory maintains that the locket actually evolved over time! That seems like a possibility, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not.
After all, you might wonder where the original material (that eventually formed the locket) first came from. That’s a fair question, I think. And then you might also question how something that looks specific and complex could just appear in this shape! Even if the material was already in the box, how long would it take to come together in such a specific form? Logic tells you that it would take a VERY long time, and the box doesn’t even look that old! Maybe this first ‘natural’ solution needs to be re-thought…
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