Monday, July 19, 2010

Can Science Explain the Origin of Life?

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What is life and what is not?

What is "life?" One definition is an organism that can grow, reproduce, and have a metabolism (ongoing chemical reactions) as opposed to a dead organism, or inanimate matter. While this may seem fairly straightforward, it excludes some elements that we may instinctively consider alive. Are seeds that lie dormant for years alive? If they are not, what defines the instant in which they become "alive?" If seeds are already alive, what makes them so? No chemical reactions are occurring, i.e. no signs of life.

What about so-called gram-positive bacteria that run out of nutrients? When they sense that they cannot continue to live, they put their biochemical energy into creating spores. In harsh environments, gram-positive bacteria cease to exist after creating spores. Are bacterial spores alive? Spores, like seeds, can remain dormant for decades with no signs of chemical reactions. Then, they spring to life as bacteria when the environment supplies nutrients, proper environmental conditions, and moisture. These bacteria are genetically identical to the bacteria that produced the spores. If spores are not alive, then what confers life to them resulting in live bacteria?


Can evolution explain life? No. It only depicts how life evolved once there was life. If the fundamental ingredient of the universe were preprogrammed to evolve into life, this would be a new evolution theory. This is what many scientists including Richard Dawkins contend.

Lucky us

The mathematical odds of having the stuff of our universe (at least the stuff we know) "evolve" into life are vanishingly small. Sir Fred Hoyle likened the probability of random emergence of single-celled life to the probability of a Boeing 747 assembling as the result of a tornado whirling through a junkyard. Some scientists say: no problem, just have numerous universes (perhaps an infinite number) each having trillions of planets hosting tornadoes for billions of years. In one of these worlds life will result and evolve to us. Furthermore, since the conditions for life might exist on some the millions of other planets (yes, there could be that many), life might be common in our universe. Almost all of the other universes will be devoid of life. However, this assertion presumes parallel universes or multiverses-hidden worlds along side ours.

Does this explanation debunk spirituality?

Suppose we accept this story of life's beginning. What or who created all these worlds? Why were all these created-so that there would be life? Thus, this seemingly bizarre rationalization of how life begun does not address the what, who, or why. Dawkins employs the multiverse conjecture to show how God is a delusion. Wrong! The multiverse argument can be consistent with spiritual teachings which generally include God.

The difference between knowledge, contention, and fact.

Science using accumulated knowledge contends that parallel universes or multiverses might explain the origin of life. Theories should be testable. Even published experiments must be reproducible or be retracted. Many scientists doubt that the concept of parallel universes and multiverses can ever be tested. Spiritual wisdom from across time, geography, and cultures has similar teachings. I believe that time has tested these beliefs and reproduced them.

Healing the rift. Bridging the gap between science and spirituality.

Scientists have been humbled by revelations of the last several decades: parallel worlds, missing dark ingredients of the universe, and the mysterious stuff in a vacuum. Numerous physicists are declaring the world as spiritual. We are blessed with the gift of life. By incorporating both the spiritual as well as the scientific, I believe that we enjoy a more opulent life.

Leo Kim, Ph.D. was a research associate at MIT, scientist, and executive in the biotechnology industry. He studied with healers such as Barbara Brennan, Bernie Siegel, and Deepak Chopra, and is a certified clinical hypnotherapist. For more information, and to learn about his new book, Healing the Rift, visit:

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