There are many theories as to how life initially evolved on our planet. The two that are most common tend to involve creationism or evolution. A third option, called the abiogenesis theory, suggests that life spontaneously created itself through a natural means due to the planetary conditions that existed at the time.
This would mean that life had to come from non-living matter.
Surprisingly enough, supporters of abiogenesis theory are both creationists and evolutionists. There may be some debate as to when the creation of life actually occurred, but the end-result is the same. Pre-life chemical reactions gave rise to the creation of life on Ancient Earth.
How Is Abiogenesis Theory Studied?
There are three different branches of the abiogenesis theory.
- Geophysical. This branch looks at the physical processes and properties of the planet and the surrounding environments of outer space.
- Chemical. This branch studies the structure, properties, composition, and changes of matter. It includes how atoms form chemical bonds, create chemical compounds, and comparisons of other natural sciences and their findings.
- Biological. This branch is concerned with the study of living organisms. It looks at how life structures itself, grows, functions, and evolves. Distribution and identification studies are sometimes included as well.
There are certain ideas that suggest life was initially seeded by asteroids, comets, and other Solar System bodies in the past with equal regularity amongst all of the planets. If these ideas are correct, other solar systems could theoretically support life as well. Microscopic life appeared at some point, which everyone can agree upon, and this makes Earth the only place in the universe known to harbor it according to our current knowledge.
Whether the Earth is 6,000-10,000 years old or it is 4.5 billion years old, one truth does exist: the fossil record does seem to support the abiogenesis theory.
Religion and the Abiogenesis Theory
The major Abrahamic religions all agree that the abiogenesis theory is the foundation of life on Earth.
Genesis 2:7 specifically describes the abiogenesis theory: “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus man became a living creature.”
In Surah Sad 38:71-72, Islam gives us a similar sentiment, quoting Allah. “Indeed, I am going to create a human being from clay.”
The only difference between the religious version of abiogenesis theory and the non-religious versions is that a supernatural being created life on Earth. The belief of spontaneous generation from non-living matter goes all the way back to Aristotle, though it is one that is highly challenged today.
In the past, science had not developed enough to understand the micro-biological world. Bacteria were believed to spontaneously arrive in sterile environments for over 2,000 years until it was proven that bacteria invaded those environments.
This process of challenging the “accepted” science of the abiogenesis theory has led to numerous additional theories of life creation, both religious and secular in nature.
- Proteinoid Microspheres. This theory suggests that peptide structures may have spontaneously formed under plausible Ancient Earth conditions, as amino acids have been found to spontaneously form small chains.
- Primordial Soup. This theory relies on the idea that Ancient Earth had a chemically reducing atmosphere. It was exposed to energy in various forms and allowed for transformations to occur, which included organic polymers.
- Alien Intervention. This theory suggests that an advanced form of life seeded Ancient Earth and they, not a supernatural being, are responsible for creating life from non-life.
What Can We Learn from the Abiogenesis Theory?
Whether we’re talking tens of thousands of years or billions of years, there isn’t a record of what happened on Ancient Earth at the time life was created. We can have faith in our holy books or we can extrapolate information from the fossil record and run simulations, but we’re all left with one truth: we just don’t know.
Because of this, there is not a generally accepted model for the origin of life right now. We can argue about who or what was initially responsible for the creation of life, but there is no evidence to give any argument more credence than another.
As we continue to study life as we know it on our planet, we have learned that there are more common bonds between us and nature than we ever thought possible. If the asteroids and comets are included in the mix, it means each of us may have a little stardust in our DNA. That interconnectivity should be used to bind us together.