The offer is revealing for a couple of reasons. First, it spotlights the fact that there is at the moment no plausible explanation as to how living things could have arisen apart from some sort of intelligent guidance. Second, it spotlights the desperation that this lack of an explanation for something so fundamental to a naturalistic worldview has induced among atheists.
Ever since Darwin naturalists have assured us that in time a solution will be discovered to the problem of how life originated, but every attempt to solve the riddle has come to naught. Worse, from their point of view, discoveries in molecular biology keep making the problem more and more intractable.
As long as the cell was thought to be a tiny glob of jelly there was every reason to be confident that chemistry would yield an answer to the problem of how the first glob arose. But now the cell is seen as more like a computer complete with a very sophisticated operating system, and a materialistic explanation for how such a thing could have arisen by chance and chemistry seems more remote than ever.
Add to that the problem that the cell is filled with specified complex information and that all of our experience has been that such information is invariably the product of a mind and never the product of chance, and you can understand why rich atheists are willing to part with $50,000 to try to motivate someone, anyone, to proffer a plausible hypothesis.
Mr. Lonsdale explains:
My goal in supporting Origin of Life research is to help scientists solve one of the great remaining problems in biology. A solution will give every science teacher in the world, from high school to college, a fundamental understanding of how life probably began on the Earth. In time, the world will learn that the laws of chemistry and physics, and the principle of evolution by natural selection, are sufficient to explain life’s origin.I'm an expert on neither origin of life science nor finances, but I nevertheless have good news and bad news for Mr. Lonsdale. The bad news is that it's highly unlikely that anyone will qualify for his prize. The good news is that means his money is safe.
HT: Telic Thoughts