Origins of life

18/02/13 | Posted by Ian Black

Support for belief in God came from an unlikely source recently. TVs own resident scientist, Brian Cox, has been presenting a fascinating series on the wonders of life on BBC1. In the first episode he explained the origins of life on earth some 4 billion years ago. Grossly simplified, the 'spark' of life occurred as a result of energy flowing through the raw ingredients of hydrogen, Carbon Dioxide and various minerals (iron, nickel, sulphur) to form organic molecules. This involves a similar process to how a battery works as energy is released as protons flow from a high concentration to a lower one. The conditions for this occur naturally in hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor. For the fuller version, view the programme via the link above while it is available.


That was amazing enough, but he went on.  Because energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another, the potential for life must have been present at the Big Bang 13 billion years ago.  The evolution of the universe has only been working with the raw materials that it had from its beginning.  Their movement and transition is governed by what we call the laws of physics and these have produced life.  The first programme ended with this tantalising statement:

‘Far from being some chance event ignited by a mystical spark, the emergence of life on earth might have been an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.  And if that’s true then a living cosmos might be the only way our cosmos can be.”

This would point to it being the intention from the beginning that there would be life and that that life would give rise to intelligent, sentient beings, such as ourselves.  Interestingly two people can hear this statement and draw two diametrically opposed conclusions.  For one, this is as close to science using the language of creation as we can get.  This is a hint that there is a purpose behind the universe and the emergence of life.  Another person will see physics and chemistry at work and nothing more.  Brian Cox would place himself in the latter group.

Everything that we experience can be explained in terms of physics and chemistry.  But the wonder that it induces is itself the ‘hydrothermic vent of faith’.  If there is purpose and intention then unless it is just an illusion caused by physics and chemistry (explored by so many Sci-Fi films), there is an element that is still not explained, indeed missed in the reducing to chemical processes.

Further questions flow.  If energy can neither be created nor destroyed, what happens at death?  Is there another dimension not caught by this, or is death the end as we are recycled and then any life beyond is a gift given again?  St Paul, in his writings in the Bible, falls into the latter group.  Questions of source and goal are good ones to wrestle with during Lent - this season of 6 weeks running up to Easter.

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Once upon a time.. there was a Big Bang.. pieces of a great star were spread over millions.. of miles, each bit.. so hot their fires would burn for millions of years. Even today the sun burns with that fire and inside the earth the fire stirs up now and again..

Earth was a flaming ball.. From the fire rose great clouds of smoke.. they.. cut out the sun.. and earth felt.. cooler.

In the dark clouds, gases met.. a drop of rain was born.. but it sizzled up.. and turned back to gas.. Soon it was there again.. not a single drop, but a hundred.. again the fires burned them up.. The next time they came they landed and put out a little of the fire.. It began to rain–not for a day.. but.. thousands of years.. Earth became cool. The raindrops.. became.. mighty seas.. The fire hid underground and awaited its time. The black smoke-clouds disappeared. The rain stopped falling, the sun shone, the seas reflected its light and waited for life.

God had made the earth.

David Adams: The Deer’s Cry

#1. By Steve on February 24, 2013

Why are we so reluctant to give God his rightful place as Creator? The Big Bang is not proven, it is a theory; it cannot answer the question ‘How did the Big Bang (if there was one) happen?’ There are scientists who believe God created the world; there are scientists who do not.  Neither can explain it scientifically, but the former accepts what the Bible teaches in its first verse: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..’ God gave man an exploring mind to understand his origin - but if we want the truth, there is only one source and that is God himself. Scientists use their God-given abilities to explore what is already there, and find many marvellous things. Writers give rein to their imagination, as quoted above. But the buck stops at God - he is ‘the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega’. His object is for us to worship him and to enjoy his Creation, and one day to be with him for ever. It’s all there in the Bible. Try

#2. By Frances Cullen on March 09, 2013

Another way of looking at ‘The Big Bang’ is “God spoke a word and BANG, there it was!”

The point is not really about Big Bangs or lack thereof though, eh. The point is God is and He is love!

#3. By Steve on March 10, 2013

Thanks - you’re right! ‘In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths’ Prov.3.6 and ‘The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth’ John 16.13.  Let’s praise him together for his creation, and proclaim him to an unbelieving world.Blessings, Frances

#4. By frances on March 11, 2013

Thanks Frances - your comment really blessed me. I don’t often post comments and good to know it was received well. Psalm 133 springs to mind (how good and pleasant it is…).

Life’s a huge mystery. Exactly how things happen and (very often) why things happen is beyond me. Why and how I’m here I don’t know but I am here and that’s a gift.

The One in Whom we live, move and have our being is ever present, constantly moving and speaking through Creation. I’m learning to hear the Song in His Voice and dance to the rhythm of His Music.

Hopefully it will encourage you to know that in my work as a Street Pastor, I’m privileged to be able to sing the song of salvation to a sick, blind, deaf world.

God bless you and your loved ones… Steve

#5. By Steve on March 11, 2013

Very true!

#6. By Tarun on December 27, 2015

That was an interesting read thanks.

#7. By Tyler on May 16, 2016




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