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Historically there have been two broad theories purporting to explain the origin of life on Earth -- the scientific explanation of chemical abiogenesis followed by evolution by natural selection, and the contrasting theological explanation of Creationism by a God or a group of Gods. There are a few theological structures which make other propositions. For example, in the Eddas of Norse mythology, the primordial elements give birth not only to the (human-like) Ymir, a sort of ancestor of the gods, but to Auðumbla--a cosmic cow from whom the proto-person suckles. There is no Creator, in this myth, who designs this supergiant cow or decides what characteristics it will have. It simply pops into existence, laden with milk digestible by human-like beings. And further on in this myth, Ymir dies and his body becomes the world--including both animals and people, again not by design, but simply by popping up fully formed. Interestingly, Zoroastrianism and some accounts in Hinduism share similar accounts of various theologically important celestial animals coming into being not through any Creator's design, nor through any evolutionary process, but simply unintentionally being produced by an unthinking Universe.

So, in this light, I throw into the framework of the evolution-versus-creation debate the proposition of life originating by quantum coincidence. Quantum mechanics teaches that, among other things, even in a complete vacuum, particles are simply popping into existence all the time for no reason. If the correct array of particles happened to pop into existence at once, they might form an object. Hence, a quantum origin of life is where, due to nothing more than the random nature of quantum particles forming here and there in our Universe, an object (in this case an animal) simply pops into existence fully formed. Now, admittedly, the odds of even a single biologically functioning microbe popping into existence this way are so slim as to be inestimably more remote than a person winning a fair and randomly -drawn lottery every week for a billion years. But it is not, strictly speaking, impossible; and since no mechanism at all has yet been mapped to explain how a designing Creator would be able to create any fully formed living things, this quantum proposal can not be deemed to be calculably less likely than creation by the sort of Creator who is at the same time able to cause species to come into existence wholesale, and yet apparently unable to bring about the same result evolutionarily.

The advantage of a quantum origin of life is that it serves as a philosophical (if not a practical) alternative in the interminous debate. So, now, there are three possibilities. One is that abiogenesis-sparked-evolution is the means by which our present diversity of life came about. The second is that evolution did not happen, but neither did any design; the Universe simply accidentally popped out a tiger here, a walrus there, here a gecko, there a manta ray (or, for the sake of continuance, popped out a breeding pair of each); the third option is that a designing Creator came on the scene and assembled the various animal types, and either intentionally made them look all "evolved," or simply happened to create them in a way that only coincidentally matches an evolutionary origin down to the molecular level. Naturally, these ideas can to a degree be mixed and matched. Some theists believe that a Creator established initial species, from which a variety of others evolved (as in, e.g., a single initial bird family whose descendants became all manner of birds). But there's no reason that, if positing such a model, there could not have been some kinds of animals which simply popped into being on their own, mingling with both created and evolved ones. And bear in mind, if there is a Creator, it either really, really wants informed people to believe that evolution is true; or it is statistically on par with animals simply popping into being out of our Universe, undesigned.

There is, by the way, even a fourth alternative scenario, which is that our world is all illusion, some greater being's dream or computer simulation. It need not be especially complicated at that--perhaps you, the reader, are the only being which truly exists, and everything you believe you have seen and heard and learned has all been in your imagination. If that is the case, there need not be an actual and existing variety of life at all; it is enough that some part of your mind imagined up fantastical creatures, and some other part sought to justify them by imagining the discovery of DNA and a fossil record and evolutionary biology. Again, there is simply no way to gauge the probability of such a scenario, so it too must be put on equal footing with the quantum theory proposed here, and with the notion of a designing Creator. All this being set forth, I think I'll take my chances (in a created Universe or any other) of evolutionary biology covering the origin and diversity of all life on Earth.


Yes, I know "interminous" is not a word, but I decided to make it one.

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