Darwin and the Origin of Life

Darwinian evolution and origin of life 

Did Darwin explain how life came into existence?  

Darwin’s theory of evolution explains how species of organisms arise and develop through natural selection and, later proposed by Neo-Darwinists, random mutation. These mutations occur during reproduction of new offspring. The theory of evolution therefore deals with how life developed into multiple forms and species, not how life originated in the first place, or defining what life is. Even with the assumption that all creatures are descendants from a single common ancestor, that first living organism couldn’t be developed through biological evolution because biological evolution requires reproduction. 

Darwin himself avoided discussing the origin of life. 

  • in the 1861, in the 3rd edition of The Origin of Species, he stated that «…it is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life» 
  • in a letter he sent to his close friend Joseph Dalton Hooker on March 29, 1863, he wrote that «…it is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter» 

So if Evolution’s mechanisms like random mutation and natural selection are not applicable when it comes to the origin of life, what should be?  


Abiogenesis is defined as the origin of life from nonliving matter. 

To construct any convincing theory about abiogenesis, we must take into account the condition of the Earth about 4 billion years ago. Abiogenesis takes place before biology and before biological evolution can begin, hence it is prebiotic or pre-biology. The attempts to explain abiogenesis rely purely on chemistry and physics. However in reality, molecules and chemistry don’t care about life. Molecules have never demonstrated to evolve towards life. 

The main assumption by scientists in explaining abiogenesis is the possibility of matter to self-assemble, and self-replicate, given a long time horizon. This assumption tries to eliminate any source for the non-materialistic information within life and biology. However, and after so many years using the latest advanced technology, trying to explain abiogenesis using chemistry and physics alone has not been successful.  Attempts to create a living cell using perfect lab conditions have failed so far. Needless to say, it has never been observed in nature that a living thing can evolve from non-living matter. 


  • Darwin’s theory of evolution and biological evolution in general has nothing to do with explaining the origin of life 
  • Origin of life is prebiotic, before biology, so it’s pure Chemistry (for the material aspect) 
  • Chemistry of life is very hard to figure out 
  • For non-materialistic aspects like information coding within the living organisms, there’s almost nothing to explain how information can evolve on its own from chemistry. 


1 Charles Darwin and the Origin of Life (nih.gov) 

2 Make a cell, win the Nobel! / Dr Tour critiques current life research – YouTube