Read Along: Chapter 6—How Did Life Begin?

Today we continue with Chapter Six in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Six, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!

[Audio Intro] – Jonathan Morrow introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 06 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Six: How Did Life Begin?
(pages 83-94)

Chapter six delves into the question of the origin of life. The authors discuss the current state of origin of life research, talk about the technology and complexity found in the cell, and survey the possible means by which the information in the cell came about. They show the shortcomings of naturalistic theories to account for the specified information in DNA, while showing that the best explanation for information is an intelligent source.

Biochemist Fazale Rana contributes an essay entitled, “My Most Important Discovery.” Here he describes how the elegance, sophistication, and complexity of the cell’s chemical systems, along with the inadequacies of evolutionary explanations for the origin of life, convinced him as a biochemistry graduate student that a Creator must exist.

Notable quotes:

A typical cell has roughly 100 million proteins of 20,000 different types, and yet the entire cell is so small that a few hundred cells could fit on the dot of this letter i. (p. 85)

Richard Dawkins writes, “Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular-biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer-engineering journal.”

(p. 85)

Paul Davies says, “Life is more than just complex chemical reactions. The cell is also an information storing, processing and replicating system. We need to explain the origin of this information, and the way in which the information processing machinery came to exist.” (p. 86)

The probability of finding a functional protein through chance alone is a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion times smaller than the odds of finding a specific particle in a random search throughout the entire universe! (p. 87)

Any valid theory for how life began must be able to explain information’s origin. (p. 89)

Former atheist Antony Flew put it best, “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind.” (p. 91)


  1. How would you describe the odds of a functional protein emerging by chance alone?
  2. Why do you think Richard Dawkins’ suggests that luck is enough to explain the origin of life?
  3. What other explanations besides design could account for specified information in DNA?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 7—Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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