I wish to show here, that there is no viable current theory of abiogenesis–how living things can arise from non-living matter. A scientific theory, that makes assertions about cause and effect relationships, must make specific predictions, that can be tested experimentally, and must be falsifiable. I’ll try to make this as non-technical as possible.
Typically, a scientific experiment will have one or more independent variables (the factors that are changed or manipulated across experimental conditions) and one or more dependent variables (the factor that is measured to be used in determining the outcome of the experiment). Also, every attempt is made to control for other influences that may affect the dependent variable or confound (1) the outcomes of the study. The more variables that are involved, the more experimental groups are required, and the more complex the statistical analysis. Now, one thing that is important in designing an experiment, is estimating the statical power (2) that is required.
An experiment can be thought of as a specific type of method used in scientific inquiries, and personal questioning, usually to study causality. Often the objective is to test a hypothesis: i.e. a tentative explanation of a phenomenon or mechanism of causality. The essence of an experiment is to introduce a change in a system (the independent variable) and to study the effect of this change (the dependent variable). Two fundamental considerations of experimental design are:
- That the independent variable is the only factor that varies systematically in the experiment; in other words, that the experiment is appropriately controlled – that confounding variables are eliminated; and
- That the dependent variable truly reflects the phenomenon under study (a question of validity) and that the variable can be measured accurately (i.e., that various types of experimental error, such as measurement error can be eliminated). (3)
For example, it might be hypothesized that that patients who are prayed for will recover faster than patients who were not prayed for. You can randomly assign patients to a “prayed for” group and a “not prayed for group.” However, in this type of experiment, it is virtually impossible to eliminate confounding variables (i.e., the patients may pray for themselves, the patients family members may pray for them, people in general may pray for the healing of the sick). So, a finding of no statistically significant difference in recovery rates between the groups would be confounded by prayer actually occurring in the “not prayed for group.” (4) [footnote 1]
For a better example of a controlled experiment, consider the following:
Two hundred participants are randomly assigned to either a group that takes vitamin C or a placebo for 6 weeks. The number of colds for each participant are counted during the trial period. The individual involved in counting the number of colds is “blind” to the condition that the participants are in. Statistical analyses are conducted to see if the number of colds differ significantly between the control and experimental condition.
The criteria used most often in a controlled experiment is that if the results could be expected by chance 5% or less of the time, then the groups are consider to differ significantly supporting the hypothesis. In this case, that taking vitamin C will significantly reduce the number of colds experienced over a 6 week period. That means approximately 5% of the time, chance will produce these results, and the experimenters will be wrong in finding support for their hypotheses that often. This is considered a reasonable level of risk in being incorrect in their inferences.
So, back to abiogenesis. The number of “subjects” or trials needed in order to successfully examine the notion that a “prebiotic soup” could result in non-living matter becoming life is beyond any, and possibly any future, experimental methods. By the accounts of naturalistic evolutionists, the chances of a pre-life-unit arising in this hypothetical prebiotic soup are 1 in 4.29 x 10^40 (that’s 4.29 followed by 40 zeros). Creationists calculations claim a much larger number (2.04 x 10^390) (5). Naturalists claim a hypothetical state of the early seas containing a high concentration of organic monomers. They claim that the correct combination of materials could have occured within 1 million years, or on the first try.
So, in order to conduct controlled experiments that may support this theory, you’d probably need to conduct 80 to 95 times 4.29 x 10^40 trials in order to say that these early conditions could not form a pre-life-unit. In conducting those trials, a single pre-life-unit would support the theory. This is impossible to conduct, and thus the theory is unfalsifiable. It fails to pass the basic requirements needed to be a viable scientific theory.
 The assumption is that God would allow Himself to be a manipulated independent variable in research. “Thou shalt not test the Lord thy God.”
Filed under: abiogenesis, Creationism, evolution, Intelligent Design, science | Tagged: abiogenesis, Creationism, evolution, experiment, falsifiability, Intelligent Design, naturalism, probability theory, science |