The second matter of opposition is one of broad interpretation. It is said that common features are to be ascribed to common descent, with various forms exhibiting similarities because of their evolutionary heritage. As it has already been noted, could it not instead be that common features are the result of a common designer? Could God, in the creation of this world and its life, have utilized successful morphological models repeatedly? It comes down to one’s worldview as to which choice appears most likely.
From times immemorial, man has held a position of power and authority over nature, at least beyond that of any other life form. Can we, as the secular communities insist, categorize ourselves as mere animals only for a time enjoying a position of comfort within the natural order of things, or are we more, something special perhaps?
Concerning mutation, what drives this process? What can we observe? Evolution can be ascribed by the mainstream to a range of circumstances, including genetic drift or natural selection, but by far the most common mechanism relied upon for the process is mutation. It is, for the naturalist, the quintessential engine that drives the evolution process, pushing simple cells towards great majestic beasts, and ultimately us. Mutation is critical to their worldview, to say the least.
One need not look solely to the cell to dispel notions of a naturalistic advent. In fact, many profound examples of purposeful design can be seen amongst the physical and behavioral characteristics of multicellular life.
As should be clear, the leaps required to sustain a plausible, naturalistic origin for life are too ridiculous to seriously and objectively entertain, be they the improbability of viable amino acid formation in the early Earth environments, to the staggering difficulty facing the consolidation of those amino acids into the range of proteins necessary for life. Even beyond that, we delved into the problems associated with explaining away the vast amounts of information locked within the genes of life’s nucleic acids, the decoding and synthesizing molecules required to translate that information, and the undeniable truth that, in accordance with the laws of information transmission and probability, the data within those genes could not have been functionally constructed purely by chance.
Everything that is currently classified as “alive” possesses cells. Bacteria and their kin consist of a single cell, with more complex creatures, such as humans, being made up of trillions. Though the general design at its most basic form is similar amongst the many forms of cells, a great deal of varieties exist, differing not only between the five kingdoms of life, but also within any complex, multicellular organism. Human beings for instance possess some two-hundred types of cells within their bodies,(1) including nerve cells, bone cells, muscles cells, and others. Sidestepping the more derived variations for a moment, let us examine the structure of a basic cell.
The Miller-Urey experiment set a dangerous precedent all those years ago. While it claimed, somewhat deceptively, to demonstrate that simple biopolymers could be produced through natural conditions, it failed to address a critical question, and in doing so caused many subsequent generations to ignore that aspect of naturalistic origins as well. That ignored question is simply ‘from where did the information for the construction of life arise?’
Compared to the ultimate complexity of life, the naturalistic advent of amino acids would be simple child’s play. The real meat of the problem comes with the formation of proteins, genetic material, and the cell as a whole.
Like any good religion, secular naturalism holds its own view of the origin of life. Its adherents believe that, several billion years ago, in a warm, moist world, inorganic natural compounds coalesced into the first self-replicating molecules, leading to the rise of the first simple life forms sometime afterwards. This process, originally termed chemical evolution, has more recently been referred to as abiogenesis. Darwin himself entertained this notion in his later years, declaring in a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker that life may have originated in a “warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, so that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes.”(1)
Proponents of the evolution theory assert that both macroevolution and adaptation are in fact two faces of the same coin, with adaptive changes over time accumulating until macroevolution has been accomplished, altering one form of organism into a tangibly different one. Indeed, the mechanism that drives the process at each stage is the same, a buildup of genetic mutations and other factors that cumulatively alter the physiology of an organism. The critical element between the two processes is time. Time and the generational progression of a species. Though adaptive shifts can occur in only a few generations, macroevolution requires hundreds or thousands of generations.