“Chemical in essence”

“The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems” is the title of a report from the National Research Council, and, as written up in today’s WaPo Outlook section, in a lively article by Joel Achenbach, we are told this grim truth about life as we know it:

“It is chemical in essence,” the report says of life, a statement that is both bland and mind-boggling. Life, you’d think, would be more than just chemicals interacting. Surely it would require some kind of special juice, energy, force. But no: Vitalism is a theory that died out a long time ago. It’s just organic chemistry. It’s just reactions involving polymers, covalent bonds, catalysts, solvents, nucleophiles, electrophiles.

This is more than a little sad: it completely ignores the notion that there might be something extra, call it a divine spark, perhaps. Of course, I do not take Mr. Achenbach to task for not delving into how God figures in all of this. That would be inappropriate for an officially atheistic paper. Heck, they even have atheists write the “on faith” sections…

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Just that those who write on faith for the Washington Post seem to think that any religion is good, as long as it doesn’t entail believing that nasty smiting and damnation one may find in the Bible. But, I digress. Now the article in question doesn’t rule God out as the designer of those biological and chemical processes.

But it’s where I start. If there are other life forms in the universe, and I’m reasonably sure there are, given its vastness, who do we think might have created them? I’m also reasonably sure that it is God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, acting outside of space and time and for reasons we can not yet understand.

God is the Eternal Chemist, so to speak. That carbon and water are such a nifty building blocks is not an accident. Not by any stretch of the imagination. So, is God content to just be a chemist? Hardly. We have life, as do many, many other organisms. We, meaning homo sapiens sapiens here on Earth, have been granted something special that goes well beyond chemistry and biology: the ability to worship God, to love Him, and, as best we can, to do His will.


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