Today’s letter-to-the-editor is actually a column in the Uinta County Herald of Evanston, Wyoming. It’s titled Impossible yet abundant: Pondering the marvel of life, and the newspaper has a comments section.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Jonathan Lange, described at the end as “an LCMS [Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod] pastor in Evanston and Kemmerer and serves the Wyoming Pastors Network.” This is the rev’s third appearance in our collection. The second was #918: Faces Disprove Evolution, and the first was #843: Darwin’s Lie. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s new column, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!
We were westbound on I-80 just past the inlet of Echo reservoir. My eyes were lazily scanning the hills when it hit me. Here, in one of the most arid of the western states, we were nevertheless surrounded by living things. [Gasp!] If I could catalogue every distinct life that fit into a single glance, it would be unimaginable in both number and variety.
He goes on for a few paragraphs about the great variety of life — plants, animals, and microscopic organisms, and then says:
What dawned on me that day is the simple fact that all this life was packed into a single moment of a single day of a single citizen on a planet with 7 billion people. There were 100 times more living organisms before my eyes in that moment than there are stars in the universe.
An exaggeration, perhaps, but of no importance. After that he tells us:
All that life, and yet, when you step off our planet and scour the universe — as we have been doing for 60 years — we have yet to find even one single instance of life anywhere. Not a bug or a weed, neither algae nor an amoeba has ever been found. We haven’t even found a planet that could theoretically support life. [Actually, we have.] I make no claims about what we might find in the future. I know of no scientific or theological reason why biological life could not be found somewhere else in the universe. But the stubborn fact remains. Even the most optimistic probability models find it practically impossible. All of which underscores how astoundingly special is our living world.
Another exaggeration, but so what? It’s true that conditions on this planet are just right for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. It brings to mind the Douglas Adams story in which a puddle wakes up one morning and thinks, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, [it] may have been made to have me in it!” The rev continues:
For the last century and a half, preachers of the enlightenment [That’s his term for “scientists.”] have been working on a project to explain all this life by means of undirected, random changes vetted through an ongoing battle for survival. The technical term is “Natural Selection.” More popularly, it is known as the Theory of Evolution. I have been critical of this theory in past articles [Yes, we know.], but I am not going to talk about it today. Today’s topic considers a prior question. It’s about a world before evolution was even a possibility — a world without life. After all, before the fittest can survive, it must be alive in the first place.
Groan. He’s going to discuss the origin of life. Here it comes:
While almost everyone has been taught that every living thing evolved from a single cell being, no one can tell you how that imaginary one-celled creature came to be. [Gasp!] Most do not even know the scientific name for how it might have come to be. That name is abiogenesis. [Thanks, rev.] Abiogenesis discusses how life happened in the first place. Every form of life carries information and moves toward self-preservation, repair and reproduction. But in a purely chemical world, there is nothing but randomness. [The laws of nature are a bit more than that.] How did matter ever arrange itself to become alive in the first place? What would it take for a random stew of chemicals to form the first living cell? After a century of theorizing, there is no single, generally accepted model for the origin of life.
The origin of life is a problem that’s being worked on. Here’s an example of the ongoing research: Scientists discover new chemistry that may help explain the origins of cellular life. But the rev’s not satisfied. He wants science to be like religion. He insists that we have all the answers — now!
He goes on for several paragraphs, using creationist code-words like “irreducible complexity” and “information.” Then he declares:
Life is an amazing thing. This brief outline only begins to scratch the surface. Abiogenesis is far more complex and interconnected than I can hope to describe in a single article. In fact, it probably exceeds all the powers of your imagination as well. Before we even start the discussion of evolution, life itself is a thousand times more unlikely. Yet, despite the impossibility [Impossibility!] of life arising by random processes, we are utterly surrounded by it. These two facts are worth pondering together.
Overwhelming, isn’t it? And you may have noticed that the rev’s “two facts” have given us the title of this post. Here’s the end of his column:
While you are pondering how these two things can simultaneously be true, you have good reason to laugh out loud. You are alive. You are an impossibly complex and wonderful organism planted in the middle of a world filled with equally impossible life forms. And you, above every other living creature, have this additional gift: you can read these words and ponder these facts. Life is good.
Ponder the rev’s wisdom, dear reader. Your existence is impossible, yet you’re here. Obviously, there’s more going on than your pathetic science can ever explain. Why don’t you accept The Truth™?
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