Question from Kenneth:
The answer by Truk regarding the Law of Biogenesis is extremely simplistic. Pasteur is not the only one to come to this conclusion. Many eminent scientists since have tried but failed to disprove it, but have had to admit that spontaneous generation as virtually impossible. The complexity of a cell, the smallest self-replicating unit of life, is so overwhelming that regardless of the amount of time it is impossible. Truk’s answer that we know it happened because life exists, does not speak of science. It speaks of faith! The very thing Creationists are always ridiculed for. The whole of Evolutionary Biology rises or falls on abiogenesis. If you can’t show that to be true, it all collapses like a ‘house of cards’.
Answer by SmartLX:
The question by Truk is here and it may have more comments than any article on this site. Religious and particularly Christian apologists make much of the fact that there isn’t an established scientific theory of abiogenesis like there is for evolution. It’s the answer atheists just don’t have. What they never seem to realise is how little this matters to the god debate.
I’ve addressed Pasteur in the other article, so we’ll speak generally here. Spontaneous generation, which came to be called abiogenesis, need only have happened once to produce all known life. It is evidently unlikely in the present day, because it is not happening all around us. (The existence of established life may have a lot to do with this; see this other article.) In the ancient world 3-4 billion years ago, perhaps it was slightly less unlikely or perhaps it wasn’t, but that you felt you had to include the word “virtually” belies that there’s no way to unambiguously say it was impossible. And if it was possible, it could happen once as a fluke, which would explain why it’s only happened on Earth as far as we can see.
That said, there are detailed and quite old rebuttals to the claim that the formation of the first proteins, enzymes, etc. were impossibly unlikely, which focus on the assertions and assumptions inherent in such claims. See whether that particular link addresses a point or two that you’ve read. Regardless, to argue that it’s impossible because we don’t know how it happened is the standard and ubiquitous argument from ignorance.
We know that before an undefined point in time there was no life, and some time later there was life. If one does not believe in a god to begin with, one does not seriously consider a god as a reason for the emergence of that life, though one cannot rule it out entirely. All possible natural mechanisms of abiogenesis would need to be ruled out before a designer could be established by elimination, and that includes mechanisms not yet thought of so you won’t get far there. Science may give one confidence that a theory of abiogenesis will emerge, but even if it doesn’t in our lifetime it remains nothing more than an unanswered question, with a hard but present road to possibly finding the answer.
Finally, even if abiogenesis didn’t happen and life was deliberately created, that may have been the last point the creator intervened. Evolutionary biology needs nothing more than an imperfect self-replicator, which perhaps a creator provided, to explain the entire diversity of life. Therefore it does not fall like cards or anything else without abiogenesis, but you think it does because you think all of evolutionary biology has been erected solely as a barrier to the certitude of divine creation, and a gap in it represents total failure in that regard. Science does not require that we be as certain of a particular hypothesis as you are of your god in order to compete with that god.
Question from Kenneth: