God is the Source of All Life
Life is amazing! Think about it. We live in a universe that contains vast dark spaces. In addition, our universe is extremely cold. Scientists measured the cosmic microwave background radiation (whatever that is) of the universe to determine its average temperature. They got a reading of 2.735 Kelvins (a “Kelvin” is a unit of temperature which is equal in magnitude to degrees Centigrade). This is very, very cold. It’s 2.735 degrees centigrade above absolute zero.
Our universe is governed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law of physics states that the entropy of the entire universe, as an isolated system, will always increase over time. What’s that mean? Well, entropy is the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. Our universe is a closed, isolated system. To translate: this law of physics states that in our universe everything decays, rots, erodes, or in some way falls apart. This does not look like a universe that promotes the presence of life.
Most of our universe seems to be composed of dead matter—stardust, rocks, and gas. And yet, in spite of appearances, life happens! Things are born. They grow! The second law of thermodynamics is overcome, temporarily, by the magic of life!
From where does life come? For the most part life comes from life through the wonder of reproduction. New life is born from older life. The chain goes on and on. One generation imparts life to the next and they to the next and the next generation to the next and so on.
But this cannot go on forever. There must be first life. The important question is this: how did life begin? In Isaiah 42: 5, the Bible describes God as the Creator and Giver of life.
Thus says God the LORD,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
Who gives breath to the people on it
And spirit to those who walk in it. (NAS)
The answer is obvious. Life comes from God. But before we settle take easy and obvious answer let’s consider some other possibilities. What are some other theories regarding the beginning life on our planet?
During the Middle Ages, for example, alchemists searched for an elixir of life—a secret formula that could bring life to inanimate objects. Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon searched for a fountain of youth. He thought he found it in Florida. Science continues the quest for an answer. Atheists try their best to avoid the question.
The question is simple: What is Life? This is a fundamental question for a basic concept of reality? What is life? Where should we begin?
What Is Life?
Let’s start with a definition. We use the word “life” in a lot of different ways. Webster’s Dictionary provides twenty different definitions for the English word “life.” Life can describe various parts of our daily experience, such as home life, personal/public life, or sex life. Life also can mean the duration of an item’s usefulness or duration as in the life of a flashlight battery. But these meanings for the word “life” don’t apply to our investigation.
What is Webster’s primary definition for “life?” Life is:
a. the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body
b. a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
c. an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
Our search centers on a kind of force—a life-force. This life-force gives living things the ability to grow, reproduce, metabolize food, and to experience life. From a physical point of view, this force is transmitted from generation to generation through reproduction. It is a mysterious force. Modern science knows little about this source. They cannot produce the force. Nor can they replicate it. Science does not know from where life comes. Nor can science comment on where life goes when it departs.
Science Searches for the Cause of Life
At one time scientists wondered if life could be produced by electricity. Electricity was a new and mysterious force with many unknown properties.
In the 1780s an Italian scientist named Luigi Galvani discovered the effect of electricity on dead tissue. Once, when he touched the body of dead frog with an electric current, the muscles on the frog’s leg began to twitch. In 1803 his nephew, Giovanni Aldini, conducted similar experiments on the body of a dead criminal. According to The Newgate [Prison] Calendar entry of January 18, 1803,
On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion.
Was electricity the source of life? No, but it did become the source for some good stories.
A few years later young Mary Shelley was traveling in Switzerland with friends. While studying the occult and the recently discovered effect of electricity on dead tissue, the friends decided to challenge each other to see who could write the best horror story. Mary continued to wonder about the re-animation of a dead body. Years later she told of her continuing fascination with the reanimation of life.
Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated; galvanism had given token of such things; perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth.
A few days after the challenge, Mary dreamt about a scientist who created life in his lab. This dream soon became a book. The scientist in the book prepared a dead body for reanimation. He used a secret formula, the product of his scientific research. When the creature came to life, the scientist was horrified. This scientist, Viktor Frankenstein, related the moment of the creature’s awakening:
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
Although there is no mention of the use of electricity in the book, galvanism was on Mary’s mind. As scientists learned more about electricity they abandoned reanimation experiments. Electricity is not the source of life.
Atheists and Life
Atheists have no clue regarding life. They have no idea where or how or why or even what life is. That’s because, to an atheist, life does not exist. They dare not believe that any special or mysterious force might animate us. True atheists are materialists through and through.
But rather than looking stupid, atheists make metaphysical assumptions regarding life. How can they do this? Their world is limited to materialism. They explain mental and metaphysical processes, such as consciousness, life, or thought, as mechanical processes—like the output of some great machine. In other words, for an atheist, when all the conditions for life are present, life “just happens!” Life appears as the result of spontaneous generation.
Actually, spontaneous generation really is only a superstition. Atheists accuse religious believers of superstition but when a real superstition comes to light, who believes it? Those superstitious atheists! Spontaneous generation—how did this idea ever get started?
The most obvious answer is “flies.” Yes, really. People in pre-scientific ages noticed flies coming from decaying meat, animal waste, and other garbage. How did the flies get there? You start with a piece of garbage. You leave it out for a couple of days. Maggots appear in the meat. What caused them to appear? Then the maggots turn into flies. How did that happen? An atheist explains, “The meat caused flies to come to life. Living flies spontaneously generated from dead meat!”
The advance of science slowly proved spontaneous generation to be superstition. Russell Levine and Christ Evers wrote the following in their essay “The Slow Death of Spontaneous Generation (1668-1859).”
From the time of the ancient Romans, through the Middle Ages, and until the late nineteenth century, it was generally accepted that some life forms arose spontaneously from non-living matter. Such “spontaneous generation” appeared to occur primarily in decaying matter. For example, a seventeenth century recipe for the spontaneous production of mice required placing sweaty underwear and husks of wheat in an open-mouthed jar, then waiting for about 21 days, during which time it was alleged that the sweat from the underwear would penetrate the husks of wheat, changing them into mice. Although such a concept may seem laughable today, it is consistent with the other widely held cultural and religious beliefs of the time.
Flies generated from garbage? Mice appearing from sweaty clothes in a jar with husks of wheat? Did people really believe this? Early scientists knew this was wrong. But the first person who used science to challenge this belief was Italian physician Francesco Redi. He also is known as the “founder of experimental biology” and as the “father of modern parasitology.” In 1668 Redi designed an experiment to test the “flies from meat” theory. According to Levine and Evers,
Redi believed that maggots developed from eggs laid by flies. To test his hypothesis, he set out meat in a variety of flasks, some open to the air, some sealed completely, and others covered with gauze. As he had expected, maggots appeared only in the open flasks in which the flies could reach the meat and lay their eggs.
When the microscope became available to scientists (around A.D. 1590), two scientists became prominent in its use. The first was a Frenchman, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788). Buffon was a leading scientist during his time. He suggested a common ancestry for man and apes. He also believed animals changed over time through a process similar to evolution. But he was unable to propose a mechanism to explain such change.
Buffon theorized that spontaneous generation depended on the existence of a life-generating force. This force is an intrinsic part of some kinds of inorganic matter. It causes living microbes to create themselves if given sufficient time. Due to Buffon’s influence, scientists soon started looking for this elusive life-generating force.
Science Finds the Truth
The second scientist to make wide use of the microscope was John Needham in England. By this time scientists proved that boiling water kills microorganisms. But can these microorganisms spontaneously reappear after boiling? In 1745, Needham proposed to test this theory.
Needham briefly boiled some chicken broth in a flask. He cooled the broth down to room temperature in an open container, exposed to air. Then he sealed the flasks. A few days later microbes were seen growing in the sealed flasks. Needham claimed proof of spontaneous generation from a life-generating force.
Did he prove the existence of a life-generating force? Did he show this force’s ability to produce spontaneous life from dead matter? Today we know his experiment failed for at least two reasons: (1) the boiling time was insufficient to kill all of the microbes and (2) cooling the broth in an open container could lead to contamination by airborne microbes. His experiment was contaminated from the start.
An Italian priest, Lazzaro Spallanzani, also researched the theory of the spontaneous generation of microbes. In 1768, he conducted an experiment. Chicken broth was boiled in a flask for an hour. The flasks were sealed. No air was let in. The microbes did not re-appear as long as the broth remained in the sealed flask. However, those who believed in spontaneous generation argued that air was the source of the life-generating force. Spontaneous generation could not happen without air.
The theory of spontaneous generation was finally defeated in 1859 by Louis Pasteur. According to Evers and Levine:
The French Academy of Sciences sponsored a contest for the best experiment either proving or disproving spontaneous generation. Pasteur’s winning experiment was a variation of the methods of Needham and Spallanzani. He boiled meat broth in a flask, heated the neck of the flask in a flame until it became pliable, and bent it into the shape of an S. Air could enter the flask, but airborne microorganisms could not – they would settle by gravity in the neck. As Pasteur had expected, no microorganisms grew. When Pasteur tilted the flask so that the broth reached the lowest point in the neck, where any airborne particles would have settled, the broth rapidly became cloudy with life. Pasteur had both refuted the theory of spontaneous generation and convincingly demonstrated that microorganisms are everywhere – even in the air.
Is this a dead issue today? Atheists must keep it current. They have no other way to explain the generation of life from dead matter.
Atheists Restore an Old Superstition
As Pasteur laid spontaneous generation to rest, another scientist was giving it new life. In 1859, a British naturalist named Charles Darwin published a book called Origin of the Species. Darwin provided the mechanism for evolution, completing the theories of Buffon.
Darwin’s theory of evolution was an overnight success. But as scientists travel to the beginning of the evolutionary trail, the organisms get smaller and smaller. These earlier organisms also become less complex. Eventually we are left with a single cell that “evolved” from dead matter. According to atheists, how did this cell become alive? You are correct if you said, “spontaneous generation.” The old superstition was revived by atheists under a new form.
But in another way atheists have succeeded in turning things around. They are masters of doing “backflips” with words. They also are masters when it comes to taking advantage of our lack of knowledge. Now atheists accuse Christians of believing in spontaneous generation. However, people who understand the facts know better. Spontaneous generation is alive and well in the house of atheism. Atheists have no other way to explain the origin of life.
Is Life a Machine?
Spontaneous generation made atheists look foolish. They needed to abandon it. But how else would they explain life? They used another old atheist’s trick—if you can’t defeat or destroy a metaphysical truth, then just deny its existence.
Atheists Deny God and His Works
Atheists began to deny the existence of life. How can they deny that life exists? I mean, hey, I’m alive! How can you deny that? The Bible says in Romans 1: 21-25 that since they denied God, His existence and His goodness, He let them go their own way. Since they craved the darkness, God let them have what they wanted. He gave them over to the darkness.
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (NAS)
Pretending to be “scientific” in their outlook, atheists have to explain why they refuse to believe the obvious work that God makes in this world. God shows Himself to the world through nature and through His Word (Jesus Christ and the Bible). But atheists see only materialistic science in nature. They also reject God’s Word. They call Jesus Christ a myth—just another man. The Bible, for them, is “just another story book.”
Regarding nature, God reveals Himself through the power and glory of nature. We see the wonders of nature—from the intricate fragility of a butterfly wing to the glorious strength of a mountain range. We don’t have to understand nature to appreciate God’s glory. The marvels of nature reveal the glory and power and majesty of God. We understand this through simple faith. Even atheists realize God created the earth. The fact of God’s creation is obvious. But they refuse to give Him the glory. The Bible says in Romans 1: 18-20:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NAS)
Atheists refuse to see God in nature. They simply deny the glory of God as found in demonstrations of nature’s power and majesty.
How Atheists Examine Nature
Complex systems are not so easy to dismiss. So atheists use a process to examine complex systems. This process accuses belief, calling it superstition. Remember, atheists are materialists. They are deconstructionist and mechanist in outlook. What does that mean?
• Materialists—the physical world is all that exists for atheists. When an atheist examines a complex system, he ignores or denies the evidence for any and all metaphysical, emotional, or spiritual entities. When an atheist studies a complex entity, for example, let’s say he’s studying the weather, all that exists is clouds, wind, rain, and thunder. He also studies the role of the sun. These all work together to produce weather. He does not believe in storm gods or gods hurling thunderbolts.
When an atheist studies a human body, he denies the existence of a soul, or a mind, or sometimes even emotions. For example, any feeling of love between two people is the result of chemical reactions, nothing more. The physical world is all that exists.
• Deconstructionists—atheists love to tear things apart. They believe the best way to study a complex system is to break it down into its component parts. The atheist La Mettrie did this for the human body. Another atheist, Derrida, did this for language. Once a system is deconstructed, each part can be studied separately from the others. In the early days of science this may have been a good approach.
But this approach also served the atheist agenda. If the body has been totally deconstructed, according to atheist thought, we should be able to find the organ that houses the soul. Accord to La Mettrie, “Our only way to discover the true nature of man is a posteriori, i.e. on the basis of empirical evidence, trying isolate the soul, as it were disentangling it from the body’s organs.” When the body was deconstructed, no soul could be found. La Mettrie concluded, “Thus ‘the soul’ is an empty term, with no idea associated with it; a good mind should use it only to refer to the part of us that thinks.”
This part of their technique did not work so well with life. Atheists were forced to deny that life exists. If this is so, why do animals, plants, and humans only appear to be alive? You and I are not alive. There is no organ in our bodies that houses “life.” You are not alive. This brings us to the third part of the atheist’s explanation—we are only machines.
• Mechanists—the beginning of a mechanistic understanding of the universe usually is attributed to Isaac Newton. Newton was a strong believer in Jesus Christ. This scientist demonstrated the presence of universal laws that govern the universe. The cosmos is like a big machine that was wound up and placed in good working order by God.
This mechanistic understanding of the universe fit hand and glove with deism. Webster’s Dictionary once defined a deist as a person “who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature or reason.” At this time deism was gaining ground in Europe.
Deists feel that a universe controlled by a system of laws does not need God. God set up this system to function like a big machine. Deists believe God created the machine (the universe), flipped the switch to turn it on, and walked away. God no longer needs to bother Himself with us. If God abandoned us, as deists say, we do not need to bother ourselves with Him.
Atheists, of course, went one step further. LaMettrie likened the human body to a machine. He stated in his book Man, A Machine, “I am not mistaken; the human body is a clock, a huge and complex and finely designed clock.”
This is the process atheists use to study complex systems. First, the physical world is all that exists. Second, complex systems must be deconstructed. They are easier to study when broken into smaller bits. Also, deconstruction removes troublesome metaphysical ideas such as soul or mind or presence of God. Finally, you put it all back together and explain that it runs like nothing more than a big machine.
Atheists are surprised to find such order and precision in the system but they fail to give praise to God, the source of this complex, orderly system. They liken the system to a machine. Every part does its job with precision. That must be the secret. The complex system is just a machine. But when they have taken it apart and put it back together, they can’t quite make it work.
Like an Angry Child
Their reaction reminds me a the following scenario: Imagine a young boy who is fascinated by life. “What is life?” he asks. “Where does it come from?” The boy walks down to the creek that flows near his house. He catches a frog. The frog is alive. Perhaps if he dissects the living frog, he will discover more about life.
The boy uses a little ether to put the frog to sleep. He cuts into the living frog. As he cuts he looks for life. Where is it? The frog’s heart is beating. The boy knows the heart is not the organ of life. The heart just pumps blood. Yes, the heart is essential to life but his grandpa had a heart transplant a couple of years ago. Grandpa is still alive. The boy leaves the frog’s heart alone and moves on to the other organs.
What’s this organ? The frog’s liver fills much of the thoracic cavity. The boy pokes around the liver. Where is the organ of life? Under the liver? He accidentally punctures the frog’s heart. The frog’s body quivers and slumps. Life is leaving its body. Before the boy can find the source of life, the frog dies. Life departs.
“Where did its life go?” asks the boy, “Its life did not wait for me to find it. Why?” This is not the first frog to die at the boy’s hands. It’s just another sacrifice on the altar of scientific curiously.
But wait. These organs resemble the components of a machine. The boy has an idea. He uses a little bit of glue to plug the hole in the frog’s heart. He gets some thread and sews up the incision in the frog’s tummy. There! The frog is as good as new! But it’s not alive. That dumb frog just lies there. It refuses to share the secret of life. How rude!
How frustrating! The boy is so close to the answer. He knows it! Angry words fall from his mouth. “That frog was never alive. Life does not exist. Life is only an illusion.” The young scientist gone. He’s replaced by an annoyed little boy.
That’s one frustrating aspect of the “life-as-a-machine” theory. Once the machine is broken and life is gone, there is no way to get it back. What is the secret of life?
Let’s review. Atheists believe materialism is all there is. There is no higher power. There are no unseen forces. Everything can be explained by materialistic science. But when science searches for the cause of life, she comes up empty. There is no scientifically discovered force or form of energy that can explain life.
Life is Complexity
For an atheist, materialism is the answer to everything. If there is no materialistic explanation for life, then life does not exist. But our world is full of life. It’s not easy to deny the obvious. It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.
Atheists denied the existence of life. This only led to new problems. How can one explain the existence of higher mental abilities such as consciousness and self-awareness? These special qualities seem to be missing from lower animals. Why do higher animals, man in particular, possess these abilities?
The atheist thinks for a long time. The lightbulb goes off in his head. “I know!” he shouts triumphantly, “These special qualities—such as, consciousness and self-awareness—seem tied to complexity! Perhaps when a system becomes more and more complex, these special facilities somehow appear.” (Is the ghost of spontaneous generation rising from the dead?)
Our atheist becomes more excited, “As our brains ‘evolved’ (to use a term from the atheist belief system), they became more and more complex. Consciousness, abstract thinking, self-awareness and other higher mental abilities are the result of greater complexity, nothing else.”
Complexity From Computers
Atheists use examples involving computers to blur this line between dead matter and life. Does complexity somehow lead to life? Will computers someday become so complex that we can say they are alive? Science fiction has contributed to the discussion through books and movies such as The Matrix, War Games, Terminator, and Bicentennial Man, to name a few. Our society’s definition of life one day may revolve around a complex entity’s consciousness.
Consciousness is a quality of the mind that has been described many different ways. These descriptions include words such as creativity, intentionality, or self-awareness. Consciousness also may be designated by a person’s will or emotions. According to atheists, all this arises from dead matter.
David Bentley Hart in his book Being, Consciousness, Bliss exposes a huge error in this atheistic perspective. Hart reminds us of the one fallacy of materialism. Materialism teaches that everything that exists—all matter—is without purpose, order, or intentionality. Matter does not think or feel. If matter creates, it is only by accident. Hart continues . . .
Somehow, the argument goes, a sufficient number of neurological systems and subsystems operating in connection with one another will at some point naturally produce unified, self-reflective, and intentional consciousness . . . This is probably just another . . . hopeless attempt to overcome a qualitative difference by way of an indeterminately large number of gradual quantitative steps.
At a certain point dead matter just “comes alive.” Lifeless, purposeless, chaotic matter transforms itself into a living being that has life, purpose, and order. This happens through a series of tiny steps that result in life through . . . spontaneous generation. But this will never happen. Hart concludes . . .
There is an absolute qualitative abyss between the objective facts of neurophysiology and the subjective experience of being a conscious self, and so a method capable of providing a model of only the former can never produce an adequate causal narrative of the latter.
Dead matter will never produce a living being. It’s like planting a rock in the ground and expecting to harvest tomatoes from it.
Computers Do Not Have Life
An example of this was shown in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the movies that spun-off from the TV show. One of the permanent crew members on the show was an android named “Data.” This android (the name for a human-shaped robot) was very advanced. His brain was so advanced that, after his scientist-creator died, no one in that highly scientific future could duplicate it.
Despite his advanced brain, Data always wanted to be human. As the series progressed, Data came closer and closer to his goal. In one episode he dreamed. In another episode he got emotions. But he was never alive. He was better than human in every category—he was self-aware, possessed a formidable consciousness, and could think and calculate with the speed of a computer. But he missed that one last step. He himself felt that he was never completely human. He was always just a machine; never a living being. There never was a moment of spontaneous generation for Data.
Spontaneous generation of one sort or another—why can’t atheists leave it alone? For the simple reason that they cannot. They have no other way to explain the qualitative leap from dead matter to a living organism.
Life has only one source. Sorry, atheists, that’s just the way it is.
God is the Only Source of Life
Life is a mystery. On the one hand, life is so powerful. It can overcome the second law of thermodynamics. Life produces growth. It organizes dead matter and makes it capable of self-movement and reproduction. Life transforms matter. It gives purpose and meaning to materials that are chaotic and irrelevant. This wonderful power is a gift from God.
Life is one of the most basic and important qualities of God. God and life are paired throughout the Bible. The first chapters of Genesis identify the tree of life as growing in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2: 7 states that God breathed life into mankind:
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.(NAS)
How can God give life to people and animals and plants and everything else that has life? The Bible says both God and Jesus Christ are life itself. They don’t have life; they are life. John 1: 4 says, “In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (NAS)
In John 5: 26, Jesus makes an even more amazing statement:
For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself (NAS)
Jesus Christ IS life. God the Father IS life. They do not depend on anything else for life. Philosophers would call them necessary beings.
God is life and the source of life for the entire universe.
But, on the other hand, life on earth is temporary. Life is as soft as a whisper and as fragile as a wisp of smoke in a wind. The Bible relates this in James 4: 14.
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (NAS)
The Psalmist asks God to remind him of the transient nature of his life; to remind him that his hope is in God.
LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You. (NAS)
God is the source of life and the basis for hope after our life on earth ends.
What wrong with atheism? Their world is too small; it’s dark and dead and empty. They do nothing to dispel the gloom of this lifeless void.
God created this void as a place for life. But this life is to be more than endured. Jesus said in John 10: 10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NAS)