Does Organic Mean Living? | The Institute for Creation Research
Does Organic Mean Living?

Download PDFDownload Does Organic Mean Living? PDF

Often today we hear of the search for "organic" compounds in decidedly "inorganic" places inhospitable to life, such as meteorites or on desolate moons throughout the solar system. What is going on? Doesn't "organic" mean living? Does this mean there is life elsewhere? What does "organic" really mean?

In high school we were all taught that the word organic applies to living things. The primary dictionary meaning has to do with "pertaining to or derived from living organisms." At the end of a list of appropriate usages lies, "that of pertaining to carbon compounds."

Historically, it was thought that certain chemical compounds could only be synthesized in living organisms by a "life force," but later it was shown that some compounds associated in nature only with living things could be made in a laboratory merely by combining appropriate chemicals. Since all living things are composed of compounds made of carbon and hydrogen, this led to a technical definition of "organic compound" as any member of a large class of chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon and hydrogen. Many of these hydro-carbons are extraordinarily complex and found only in association with life, but some are rather simple, like methane, which is not necessarily from a living source.

Use of the term often leads to miscommunication of the facts. To a non-specialist the term "organic compound," connotes life and living, yet the discoverer might merely be meaning a carbon-based molecule. Confusion most often arises in evolutionary contexts, where evolution enthusiasts speak of the spontaneous origin of life from non-living "organic" chemicals. Seldom does the evolutionary scientist explain that his use of "organic" implies non-living. Perhaps he assumes everyone can understand the term in a technical sense, but few have this training. Thus he allows his listeners to conclude error.

Unfortunately, it is not just a harmless error, for it implies that "living or once-living" compounds can arise from non-living sources. As often admitted even by evolutionists, the original transmutation of non-living chemicals into living things is easily the most difficult problem in all of evolution theory. Thus, a casual episode of mis-information can cause many to assume this insurmountable problem is routinely overcome.

I wonder if the blurring of terms is sometimes purposeful. Evolution cannot stand up to rigorous examination; its problems are too great. But it can convince many if certain vital information is withheld. Thus, the evolution lie lives on.

*Dr. John D. Morris is the President of the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: Morris, J. 2007. Does Organic Mean Living? Acts & Facts. 36 (2).

The Latest
APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...

ACTS & FACTS
Jesus Christ Is Our Perfect Mediator
We’ll never get bored throughout eternity. There is always something wonderfully new to learn about our precious Lord Jesus, the uplifting Holy...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Winter 2021
...