Origin of Life

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See also Biogenesis and Abiogenesis

"Origin of Life" is not "Origin of the Universe"

Note that the question "how did life originate?" presupposes the existence of a universe of non-living matter. "How did the universe originate?" is a different question.

The Origin of Life

Abiogenesis is the postulated origin of life by chance in a previously lifeless universe, given enough time for matter to interact in a life-producing way.

Different approaches

From a committed atheistic viewpoint one needs to assume abiogenesis rather than simply postulate it; from a committed theistic viewpoint no assumption for or against abiogenesis is necessary — even a creationist viewpoint might consider that the Creator has set up initial conditions for life to arise by chance.

  • Atheistic view: we assume that abiogenesis occurred, and seek evidence
  • Theistic view: it is an interesting question whether the Creator used abiogenesis

Between theism (belief that there is a God) and atheism (belief that there is no God) is agnosticism: a form of Non-theism, the belief that we do not know if there is a God. In a search for scientific explanations, agnosticism is the correct approach, whether or not the researcher believes in God, or is in fact agnostic. This is termed methodological atheism.

Agnosticism as methodology

For Bible believers, and for theists in general, there is no particular need to explore possible ways that abiogenesis may have occurred, because there is no need to eliminate a supernatural origin; but if they want to explore these possibilities they need to adopt an agnostic position.

For believers in atheism, as opposed to agnostics, it is very desirable to search for a naturalistic explanation of the origin of life — "naturalistic" meaning "excluding the super-natural". Without that, the only explanation is the one they reject.

We can use the Wikipedia page for Abiogenesis as a good reference when considering the quest for non-theistic explanations of the origin of life. As might be expected, it has a long edit history, but it generally reflects an agnostic, scientific point of view, seeing Abiogenesis as an aspect of Biology. One result of this is that the meaning of the word evolution is broadened from evolution of species to chemical evolution:

In biology, abiogenesis (from a-‘not’ + Greek bios ‘life’ + genesis 'origin') or the origin of life is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. The prevailing scientific hypothesis is that the transition from non-living to living entities was not a single event, but an evolutionary process of increasing complexity that involved the formation of a habitable planet, the prebiotic synthesis of organic molecules, molecular self-replication, self-assembly, autocatalysis, and the emergence of cell membranes. Many proposals have been made for different stages of the process.

— Wikipedia, 17 November 2022

Note, though, the certainty expressed in the phrase "by which life has arisen from non-living matter": such is faith! Other failures of methodological agnosticism can be found in the page.


For a Christadelphian, as for any believer in a divine Creator, life was and is created by God. The Bible does not expect us to understand how: God's creative process is described metaphorically, for example "unfurling" the sky, being the "Father" of all; or making humankind as a potter makes pots.

The biblical Creator :–

  • speaks things into existence:
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
  • forms living things with hands and breath:
7 then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
11 Thus says the LORD,
    the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Will you question me about my children,
    or command me concerning the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth,
    and created humankind upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens . . . 

The question about creation that these passages of Scripture bring to mind is: Are these things literally true? Clearly The Metaphor of God as Potter is metaphorical: can the same be said of other words and phrases that describe creation? In a fundamental sense all words are symbols of ideas, and thus metaphorical, but they can still express truth!


(summary: random has its place!) (any connection to making species with sunbeams? hmmm)

Ecclesiastes 9:11 time and chance. compare "you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7)

Romans 8:28-32 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working."

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished.

Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 is similar to Matthew 5:45…”that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

It just means that everyone has good things and bad things happen to them. This world is full of good and bad people because we all have the power of choice.

the race is not to the swift - also in Ecc 9:11 context

1 Jn 5:19 “the whole world is under the power of the evil one”,

sinful people tend to fight for dominion, which leads to wars, oppression, and suffering (Ecclesiastes 4:1; 8:9).