What are the scientific problems with believing that life on earth began by being seeded from outer space?

Astrobiology or exobiology is the study of or search for extraterrestrial life.  Many are obsessed with this idea because it exercises such a hold on the imagination, science fiction has become very popular and it provides a way to explain the origin of life apart from God.  One of the most notable figures to subscribe to this idea is the co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix Francis Crick.  He conceded: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going."  This would mean that evolution could not be the answer for the origin of life.  Crick's answer to this conundrum: panspermia

S. Arrhenius popularized this idea early in the 20th century after Pastuer's disproof of spontaneous generation.  According to panspermia, a life spore was driven to earth from somewhere else.  Unfortunately for those who can muster up enough faith to believe in this concept, it does not solve problems but merely pushes the problems to another place in the cosmos.  (Not only that, but panspermia still gives us no answer for how evolution works.)

The biggest hurtle for panspermia is one it cannot jump: "the Goldilocks criterion."  The atmosphere must be the appropriate temperature; not too hot, not too cold, but just right.  In addition, the atmosphere must contain just the right proportions of oxygen and water.  Also, it must have been non-poisonous and able to protect from harmful ultraviolet light, x-rays and gamma rays.  Since none of the planets in our solar system provide a suitable home for the existence of such spores, then it becomes necessary for these spores to come from an extrasolar planet.  This presents many insurmountable problems for astrobiologists.  Radiation, near absolute-zero temperatures, lack of nutrients and oxygen would destroy any type of organism during travel between our own planets, much less from an extrasolar planet. 

Also, entry into the earth's atmosphere would also prove impossible without some kind of heat shield.  It is postulated that any life spore larger than 1 micron in diameter would burn up on entry.  Most plant and animal cells, however, are in the range of 10-40 microns in diameter.

Crick and others solve these problems by explaining that these primordial seedlings were brought here by extraterrestrial intelligence on some kind of space ship.  Again, this does not explain how the Goldilocks criterion can be met and it just pushes the problem of life's origin someplace else.  In addition, no real evidence for little green men exists despite a growing interest in life beyond earth.  Crick himself seems disturbed by the serious problems of this fantasy.  He admitted, "Every time I write a paper on the origin of life, I swear I will never write another one, because there is too much speculation running after too few facts…"

Such notable scientists who concede that the physical and chemical processes on earth could never allow for origin of life pose a serious problem for evolution.  Michael Denton, in his book "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" points out, "Such a concession is, of course, the thin end of a very dangerous wedge for once it is conceded that one evolutionary event has involved novel and unknown processes and has been more than a matter of chance and selection then the whole framework of Darwinian evolution is threatened."

Denton, a molecular biologist and medical doctor, has uncovered many of the problems with the evolution of life from non-life.  He comments on the idea panspermia being accepted by his colleagues by stating: "Nothing illustrates more clearly just how intractable a problem the origin of life has become than the fact that world authorities can seriously toy with the idea of panspermia."

Science continues to prove an abrupt appearance of life on earth.  Trying to explain this away with panspermia is simply a non-scientific answer.  The problems with panspermia in science are insurmountable.  The fact that so many have accepted this reminds me of Romans 1:22.  When man rejects God by rejecting what "has been clearly seen" in nature (see Romans 1:20) the result, verse 22: "Professing to be wise, they became fools."

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen