molecules in units that might have been the first living systems. The recent speculation includes the possibility that the first living cells might have arisen on Mars, seeding Earth via the many meteorites that are known to travel from Mars to our planet.
Of course, even if a living cell were to be made in the laboratory, it would not prove that nature followed the same pathway billions of years ago. But it is the job of science to provide plausible natural explanations for natural phenomena. The study of the origin of life is a very active research area in which important progress is being made, although the consensus among scientists is that none of the current hypotheses has thus far been confirmed. The history of science shows that seemingly intractable problems like this one may become amenable to solution later, as a result of advances in theory, instrumentation, or the discovery of new facts.
Many religious persons, including many scientists, hold that God created the universe and the various processes driving physical and biological evolution and that these processes then resulted in the creation of galaxies, our solar system, and life on Earth. This belief, which sometimes is termed "theistic evolution," is not in disagreement with scientific explanations of evolution. Indeed, it reflects the remarkable and inspiring character of the physical universe revealed by cosmology, paleontology, molecular biology, and many other scientific disciplines.
The advocates of "creation science" hold a variety of viewpoints. Some claim that Earth and the universe are relatively young, perhaps only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. These individuals often believe that the present physical form of Earth can be explained by "catastrophism," including a worldwide flood, and that all living things (including humans) were created miraculously, essentially in the forms we now find them.
Other advocates of creation science are willing to accept that Earth, the planets, and the stars may have existed for millions of years. But they argue that the various types of organisms, and especially humans, could only have come about with supernatural intervention, because they show "intelligent design."
In this booklet, both these "Young Earth" and "Old Earth" views are referred to as "creationism" or "special creation."
There are no valid scientific data or calculations to substantiate the belief that Earth was created just a few thousand years ago. This document has summarized the vast amount of evidence for the great age of the universe, our galaxy, the solar system, and Earth from astronomy, astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology, geochemistry, and geophysics. Independent scientific methods consistently give an age for Earth and the solar system of about 5 billion years, and an age for our galaxy and the universe that is two to three times greater. These conclusions make the origin of the universe as a whole intelligible, lend coherence to many different branches of science, and form the core conclusions of a remarkable body of knowledge about the origins and behavior of the physical world.