Posted by: adventlife | February 7, 2014

The Origin of Life: Common Descent or Common Design?


The question of origins has been debated for centuries. Darwin suggested that the scientific evidence favor the claim that we share with apes a common ancestor, while creationists argue that the same scientific facts can be explained by a common design approach.

The question is: Which of these opposite explanations makes more sense? Sean Pitman, who has investigated this topic more deeply than most of us, has written an article dealing with this topic. The title is: “Homologies, Phylogenies, Sequence Space and the Theory of Evolution.” It starts this way:

“How is plagiarism detected? Let’s say a student claims to have written a paper, but the teacher discovers that much of it appears to be identical, save for few words here and there, and a few paragraph modifications, to a paper she discovered on the internet. Would this not be excellent evidence that the student’s paper is not original work? – that the student did in fact “borrow” the work from someone else? – that the paper in question was derived from another source?

Scientists come to the very some conclusions when it comes to the study of biology. Various anatomic and genetic similarities are judged to have been derived from a common source or origin. For example, most of the gene comparisons between humans and apes are nearly identical. And, even a comparison between humans and bananas produces ~50% genetic similarity for various gene comparisons (Link).

In fact, all living things share so many features, to include the same basic genetic code and basic building blocks (DNA and the same amino acids to build proteins) that it seems certain that all life on this planet did in fact have a common origin of some kind. The question, of course, is what common origin?

Most scientists today believe that the common origin of all life on this planet can best be explained by the modern view of Darwinian Evolution where life on this planet began in some primordial pond where the basic building blocks self-assembled to produce the first living, self-replicating, single celled organism.

From this humble beginning, random genetic mutations and natural selection (RM/NS) took over and transformed this first living thing, over a billion years or so, into all the diversity of life that we see today.

However, there are a few who question this popular story of common descent via the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and natural selection (RM/NS). Although a distinct minority, both creationists and those who wish to promote various concepts of intelligent design, argue that the Darwinian mechanism isn’t capable of explaining the fantastic diversity of life at such high levels of functional complexity that currently exists on this planet.

Even those IDists who believe in common descent of some kind over vast periods of time argue that some very intelligent and very powerful mind, even a God or a God-like mind, must have been involved with the creation of life and its diversity on this planet. …”




  1. Check this out!!

  2. This is a fascinating and sad this discussion between fringe dogma and established science.

    It has been seen before; flat earth vs. round earth, astrology vs. astronomy, alchemy vs. chemistry. Each time there are fanatical adherents to their cult’s world view that have too much emotional capital and pride invested to make any concession to reason.

    I have friends and family who are active denialist. They are very Ham-like in stating that there is no evidence that will convince them of anything different than their own tortured, twisted interpretation of the bible.

    The harm that this view does to Christianity is incalculable. So sad indeed.

    • Playful,

      Do you believe in fairy tales? I believe in experimental science, but not when scientists delve into the deep past which cannot be replicated nor falsified. What do you believe about the origin of life? Can it be replicated in a petri dish or a pond?

  3. “They are very Ham-like in stating that there is no evidence that will convince them of anything different than their own tortured, twisted interpretation of the bible.”

    There are lots of twisted, tortured interpretations of the Bible. Which one are you referring to, Lutra? As for me, I had no idea what Shaun Pitman was talking about. Perhaps you can interpret?

    • Doug,

      Did you Sean Pitman’s entire article or only the short introduction I posted? He is an expert on origins, and of course, he can get rather technical quite often. I read what I understand, and skip the rest.

      Nic Samojluk

      • I understood Pitman’s trajectory. I am a scientific ignorant completely oblivious to the meaning of the plethora of Latinized scientific multisyllabillic words and the concepts they attempt to clarify.

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