A Review of Hugh Ross' More Than a Theory
The Origin of Life
Ross asserts (p. 139) that scientific analyses have established that "a primordial soup, or mineral substrate of prebiotic molecules, never existed on earth." Ross cites several articles to support this contention, however, I was able to find two abstracts and one full article of the articles he cites, and I must say that it is not obvious to me how these publications disprove the primordial-soup hypothesis. This is something Ross needs to clarify.
Ross also misunderstands the panspermia hypothesis, the hypothesis that extraterrestrial life forms (ETs) "seeded" life on earth. He seems to be under the impression that the ETs would have had to travel to earth themselves to deliver the bacteria. He concludes that ETs could not have made it here safely, or in a reasonable time span. Yet he does not consider that they might have sent a small, automated ship boarded only by a few bacteria.
Ross also asserts, without reference, that the universe would have been too young for a highly advanced species to evolve. Yet this ignores Crick and Orgel's classic panspermia article in which they calculate that there has indeed been enough time for this to happen: After the big bang, the first generation stars would have been born, producing some heavy elements, and from there we have about 6 billion years until life on earth appears, allowing plausible time for the formation of a suitable planet and evolution of an advanced species.
Perhaps the most revealing comment Ross makes about Panspermia is that he believes it does not solve the problem of the origin of life, but "merely transfers the concerns to another time and place." I say that this is revealing because throughout the book Ross marvels at the alleged improbability of life, and constantly seeks to solve the problem by invoking God, who is, in all his complexity, improbable on a level hardly imaginable to human beings.
I am not saying that life on earth was seeded by extraterrestrials. My own private study has lead me to the conclusion that life almost certainly began naturally and without guidance on the early earth. Yet I do think that directed panspermia, in spite of the ridicule it receives for sounding like a sci-fi fantasy, is a plausible hypothesis which deserves to be recognized as a legitimate possible explanation of the first life on earth.
Ross criticizes (p.144) the conjectures of Stuart Kauffman, who believes self-organization played a role in the origin of life on the grounds that this contradicts the second law of thermodynamics (which Ross defines as "all systems in the universe proceed towards increasing disorder and decreasing complexity"). Yet the second law of thermodynamics says absolutely nothing about "complexity" and it is completely disingenuous for Ross to pretend it does.
Other problems with Ross' case against a naturalistic origin of life include:
In what is perhaps the first anti-evolution argument in the book, Dr. Ross brings up the old argument about the Cambrian "explosion" and how most major phyla evolved in a very short period of time (p.162). He views this as very good evidence for instantaneous creation of these phyla. However, as Dr. Larry Martin put it:
Actually, the fossil record and theory make a good fit. The higher a unit of classification is placed in the hierarchy, the earlier it is supposed to have appeared in time. Phyla are higher taxonomic levels and might be expected to appear before modern classes and orders. That is exactly what we see. We might also expect a few experiments that finally failed. They were not that different from their neighbors but lacked the marker characters of any modern phylum and so get to be phyla of their own. This inflates diversity if that is how we count it, but if we could go back in a time machine, the most impressive thing would be how uniform life was in the Cambrian.
Ross also asserts (p.164) that most species have a high deleterious mutation rate, and therefore "natural selection cannot be expected to remove both the deleterious and near neutral mutations as quickly as they arise." But this is simply a subjective argument. No data is cited to back it up. The two nearest footnotes I could find referred me to a book called Genetic Entropy by John Sanford, which does not appear to have been published by an academic press. The book's description on Amazon (which claims it disproves the foundation of Darwinian Evolution) makes me suspicious of it, since a book that really did refute evolutionary theory should have no problem finding a decent publisher. The other footnote simply referred to a paper which showed that the deleterious mutation rate in humans (not "most species") was near the upper limit tolerable for survival of the species.
Ross makes several strange assertions in chapters 10-12, all of which contain no references to any peer-reviewed literature. If these assertions are not simply "arguments from personal incredulity" then Ross would strengthen his case by providing references:
Ross needs to back up the sentence which I placed in italics. For readers who do not know, the point Ross makes, if true, would tend to falsify evolutionary theory. As Darwin put it:
If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection. (Origin of Species, Chapter 6).
If there were some plant which produced far more food than was beneficial to its reproductive success, and was not the byproduct of some other process necessary to the plant, this might be good evidence against evolutionary theory. However, Ross has not backed this up, so it need not be refuted.
Ross has a long way to go before he constructs an adequate creation model (if such a thing is possible). He needs to make sure that he cites sources for all of his claims, that his sources are trustworthy, and that his own conjectures make it into the scientific literature.
The "predictions" of Ross' creation model: www.reasons.org/rsources/predictions
I found most of the predictions listed to be very weak, though I ask the reader to judge for himself.
 DL Pinti, K Hashizume, J Matsuda "Nitrogen and argon signatures in 3.8 to 2.8 Ga metasediments: clues on the chemical state of the archean ocean and the deep biosphere" Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta Volume 65, Issue 14, 1 July 2001, pp. 2301-2315.
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