First, thanks for recommending Old Earth or Evolutionary Creation. I’ll check it out too.
Put simply: God did it, and I don’t know. That’s all I got, lol.
I really enjoy reading the scientific ideas behind how life could have begun. They really are some of the best examples of how human ingenuity can take the smallest, barest piece of information and construct a cohesive narrative to explain something. And I’m not being derisive, I felt the same way before I was a believer. That said, I am not persuaded by the “chance did it,” or it happened “by chance” concepts. R.C. Sproul’s video breaking down this concept from a rational perspective I think is instructive:
The same holds for the “it came from outer space” arguments. These are poor grasps as straws, IMHO.
But (and this is a horrific thing for a biologist to say), I don’t think I care much. On one hand, the mechanistic explanation for the “origin of life” would be nice to know (and we’ll all eventually know it, I assume) to satisfy my curiosity, but it simply doesn’t impact me in any real way. If God created the world, with fossils and petroleum, and Grand Canyon intact 5000 years ago for us to explore and enjoy, or if he took his time over billions of years, it doesn’t really matter. If one or the other is the truth, the message of the bible, my scientific understandings of the world, and my faith are unaffected.
As for the creation of people, I (currently) adhere to the “Genesis as parable” school, vis. William Lane Craig and others, based on my appreciation of their application of “literary genres” as a tool to interpret the Bible. I think it’s an honest approach that doesn’t obviate the content, while enforcing the message.