Miller-Urey is an icon of evolution, but IF we look at what the experiments actually showed, if we go
with the science facts rather than the spin, it's a very different
story. There follows a brief outline of why these 'Icon of evolution'
experiments in fact prove the opposite of what they are claimed to
prove. Please check the facts independently.
Based on ideas from the
atheistic Russian scientist
Oparin, Miller and his student Urey set up a series of experiments at
the university of Chicago in 1953. The experiments involved filling a
sealed glass apparatus with the materials that Oparin thought could
form life (methane, ammonia, hydrogen and water) then kept it boiling
while passing high voltage electrical sparks through it. It was
asserted that this was a fair representation of the atmosphere in the
early oceans of earth, although whether
this was true is open to serious doubt. It seems more likely that the
mix of chemicals and the method were chosen as being the most likely to
yield the hoped for result. When their first results yielded
poisonous sludge but no amino acids, they arranged a cold
condenser trap to catch any interesting chemicals that were produced,
otherwise any 'origin of life' chemicals formed would be destroyed by
heat and/or the same crude electrical energy that had formed them from
A huge problem for the concept of
origin-of-life molecules being formed by random energy is that any
molecules formed this way would be broken down just as quickly as they
were made, since this kind of chemical reaction goes both ways. In
living cells, catalysts and protein templates make sure the reaction
only goes the right way, and amino acids are made efficiently to order
under precise DNA /RNA instructions and linked to other amino acids to
make proteins as soon as they are made. This could not have happened in
the supposed pre-biotic earth as neither the assembly mechanisms not
the information blueprint coulsd have been available.
Hence the introduction of the 'cold trap' to push the results towards what was wanted to support evolution. Any such naturally occuring cold trap arrangement would be extremely implausible on an oceanic scale. Any oxygen in the early earth atmosphere would have destroyed the free amino acids quickly by oxidisation, so there cannot have been any oxygen (Miller and Urey knew this and worked on a no-oxygen (reducing) atmosphere assumption). Having said that, if there were no oxygen in the supposed early earth atmosphere, and without plants there can't have been, there could have been no ozone. Ozone is a form of oxygen, O3, which forms a protective layer around the earth's atmosphere, blocking much of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation). Without a protective ozone layer, destructive UV radiation from the sun would have poured in and most likely destroyed any supposed early life molecules.
Of course, as we know, Darwin himself said nothing in 'Origin of Species' about how life got started. He commented in a letter to Huxley about it perhaps happening in 'a warm little pond'. The most obvious deduction from his silence is that he hadn't the foggiest idea. Fair enough, in those days biochemistry as a science didn't exist and they thought cells were just blobs of protoplasm (Michale Behe develops this idea in his book 'Darwin's black box'. The 'black box' in question was the cell, about which Darwin and his contemporaries knew nothing. How much we have learned since then! And how little...we are still so easily fooled.) Nowdays, the subject cannot honestly be avoided, and to say, as some do, that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution is like saying that sperm is irrelevant to the development of a child in the womb and it's birth. Yes, sperm plays no ongoing role in the pregnancy, but nothing else can happen without it being present at the beginning. You can't have pregnancy without sperm and you can't have Darwinian Natural Selection until there is something alive to select.
Clearly the experiment was set up optimally to make it as easy as possible to make any origin-of-life chemicals, so to that extent there was some 'intelligent design' involved. It didn't help much.
initially no amino acids or other 'building blocks of life' compounds.
After weeks of modifications to the experiments in an attempt to get
the desired results (intelligent design and purpose again), traces of 3
of the simplest amino acids were found, mainly glycine and alanine.
Importantly, they were present is equal amounts of the laevo and
dextro isomers (right and left handed versions of the same
chemical). This is an extremely important science point. This mixture
of isomers cannot make viable
proteins. In life only laevo (left handed) amino acids are produced
(and millions of times more efficiently that in this experiment) and
can be used to make working proteins. Furthermore, 20 specific amino
acids are needed to make proteins. And it gets worse.
To make a
protein, amino acids don't just stick together like magnets, they are
strung together by peptide bonds. The chemical reaction that makes a
peptide bond only occurs in the highly specialised context of a living
cell. There is no way to explain how amino acids would form peptide
bonds in a pre-biotic soup as the cellular machinery than normally does
this would be absent. Molecular templates, enzymes, and the ADP/ATP
energy system, (an incredibly complicated piece of kit-look it up),
plus Krebs cycle to process the necessary energy (again, look up Krebs
cycle on line, note it's spelled Krebs, not Kreb's) are only found in
living cells. And then the DNA instructions have to be just right. And
then you need the rest of the cell, for example the cell wall. How
indispensible is the cell wall? Antibiotics kill bacterial cells by
disrupting it. It is indispensible from the start. And this all
happened by loose molecules just bumping into each other by accident?
1) PRESENCE/ABSENCE OF OXYGEN Any proposed early earth atmosphere must have been either oxidising (with oxygen, which in it's free state is highly reactive-for example, it rusts iron. Rust is iron oxide.) or reducing (no oxygen). An oxidising atmosophere would have destroyed any 'origin of life' chemicals as soon as they begun. Nobody disputes this, which is why Miller and Urey set their experiment up in a reducing atmosphere as they knew there was no chance of getting the results they hoped for in the presence of free oxygen. However, in a reducing (no oxygen) atmosphere, there would have been no ozone, which as we know from current concerns about holes in the ozone layer would have led to a greatly increased level of ultraviolet light bathing the oceans and the dry land. This would have destroyed the early 'origin of life' chemicals too. Road block.
2) ENTROPY The sea is very deep and very wide. Any chemicals formed in the early seas would have drifted apart acording to the law of entropy and become too diluted in the ocean to have intereacted with one another. Road block number 2
3) HEAT DESTRUCTION Lets be very generous and discount the above difficulties, and suppose the 'pre-biotic soup' with continual lighting bolts going through it formed amino acids from water, methane and ammonia plus a few other chemicals volcanoes had belched out. And Miller Urey DID produce some amino acids. Unfortunately since they were being formed by a crude process which had none of the enzymes etc we find in living cells, the amino acids broke down as soon as they formed, the reaction being reversible. Crude heat energy is much more likely to break down complex molecules than build them. To get round this, they introduced a cold trap where the chemicals, once formed, could chill out away from crude energy and heat. There is no way to do this on a practical scale in the ocean. Another road block.
4) INSUFFICIENT COMPLEMENT OF AMINO ACIDS The small amount of amino acid produced initially were mostly just the 2 simplest amino acids. The experiments were refined numerous times, again intelligent design looking for a planned result, until traces of 10 amino acids were formed. Tough luck, you need all 20 to make a protein. Later experiments, always adjusting the formula to get the optimuium chance of the desired result, produced more amino acids, but not all 20. Road block number 4. I will grant that is is possible to imagine conditions in which all 20 amino acids might be formed, or even that it is possible to imagine life forms using fewer than 20 amino acids, however......
5) LAEVO/DEXTRO MIXTURE. This is a BIG problem! In living things, only left handed (laevo)amino acids are produced, as only this kind is used. In the experiments, there was a 'racemic' mixture of equal proportions of right and left handed forms of amino acids. This is what will always happen when the amino acids are formed by unguided processes. The atoms that make up these different forms are the same, but they are left and right handed (just look at your own hands to get the picture, your right and left hands are the same, but different). They can join together but proteins made like this don't fold properly (proteins' function depends on their shape, which depends on their correct sequence of the correct laevo isomer of amino acids). These proteins would be non-functional. This is COMPLETELY FATAL to the idea that amino acids formed themselves in the seas and then made functional proteins by an unguided process. Road block 5.
6)PEPTIDE BONDING Let's wave Darwin's magic wand and suppose away all the above basic chemistry problems and imagine a sea filled with left handed (laevo) amino acids of all the 20 different kinds we know are needed to make proteins.
This is of course completely impossible.
Surely now life will form? Er, no actually. We are still many steps short of the minimum needs for a single strand of protein.
Amino acids form together by a specific kind of chemical bond called a peptide bond. This process occurs rapidly and efficiently in all living cells, where the templates, enzymes, ADP/ATP energy systems, Krebs cycle and information systems (see below) that make up the 'protein factory' are all present and working correctly in relationship to each other. However, protein synthesis in a living cell is an irreducibly complex system, meaning that if you take away any part of the system, it doesn't work AT ALL. So even an ocean full of laevo amino acids won't make any protein, because peptide bonds require complicated intracellular machinery to be made. The amino acids filling our sterile early earth sea will just sit there, until of course they are all oxidised or broken down by ultraviolet light.
Are you getting the picture yet? And did they tell you about any of these basic science roadblocks to life from non life at school, on nature TV or any other mainstream media? You are allowed to ask why not, although you should expect your mental health and IQ to be challenged if you dare.
7)CORRECT SEQUENCING In evolutionary speculation about the origin of life, it is customary to overcome obstacles like those above by using imagination (always of course 'imagining' what you WANT to be the case. It is very rare to hear anyone but a creationist suggest 'Imagine that the Genesis account was true and that there really was a conspiracy to deceive us..' Certainly such a speculation is no wierder than those we often hear from materialists). So, let's imagine that our abundant, 100% laevo amino acids DO in fact form peptide bonds freely outside a living cell (while never forgetting that this does not occur in the real world). In our imagination, they join together, but in random sequences of course since there is no designer or instructions. They will make an extremely heterogenous collection of nonsense proteins none of which have any function. The final missing ingredient to making the correctly functioning protein molecules of life is INFORMATION.
In living cells, proteins are made using ribosomes, mitochondria, enzymes, correct acid/base balance, transport systems, on/off switches to make sure that just the right amount of the right chemicals are made at the right time and right place, acid base and oxygen/carbon dioxide balance maintained within a narrow range, and a cell wall to stop it all drifting apart. Proteins are assembled by peptide bonding of amino acids together in a precise sequence which is determined by information carried in code on DNA and mediated by RNA and various associated enzymes too complicated to discuss here.
Energy is provided by ADP/ATP and Krebs cycle burning fuel such as sugars. As discussed elsewhere on the site re mutations, the amino acid sequence has to be just right or the protein doesn't function. The chances against even a single rather small protein molecule of 100 peptide bonds forming with the amino acids in the correct sequence have been calculated as 1 x 10 to the power of 130 against. This is a number somewhat larger than the calculated total number of atoms in the universe at 10 to the power of 79 (source Malcolm Bowden, 'Science versus Evolution'). But consider this, if 1 good protein molecule was produced by chance, unimaginably large numbers of other non functional protein and polypeptide molecules would have also been formed by the same process. How would the 'right' molecules (if any) find each other, stick together (remember, evolution has no mind, foresight or purpose) and start working together? Even if we are to imagine 1 molecule of a correct protein forming, say collagen, fibrinogen, DNA polymerase, amylase, actin, insulin, or any of the other thousands of proteins needed to make a cell forming, it would be lost in a sea of mulibillions times multibillions of junk proteins formed with incorrect, therefore useless, molecules-each one different from all the others just like random number sequences generated by ERNIE (the premium bond as opposed to peptide bond machine) or the national lottery. It would never bump into another molecule the same as itself and couldn't recognise it or know what to do if it did.
If this is not mathematical and biological proof of impossibility, bearing in mind that there is not and cannot be a 'different kind' of chemistry at the level of the atom, either in the distant past or in distant space, then the word 'impossible' has no meaning and should be removed from our language. (Oh, sorry I forgot, naturalistic 'science' has an a priori, non-negotiable exclusion of a Great Maker, even when all the facts rule out life from non-life without design, so even if life from non life is shown to be impossible, it must still have happened. To paraphrase Jesus's words ('With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible'), for 'God' substitute 'Evolution'. Which in fact is what the whole thing is about, substituting the creator God with a materialistic origins story.)
8)-ORGANISATION. Even if a strand of coherent protein did form, say amylase(which helps with digestion in mammals) what is a single strand of protein going to do all on it's own in that vast ocean? Remember the ultraviolet light, heat and lightning energy all the time striving to break it down. Without th eprotection of a cell wall, it would drift around until it broke down, there being nothing for it to do and nowhere for it to do it in. If you took all the correctly assembled proteins present in a single celled animal and put them, in their correct proportions, in a sterile test tube with correct acid base balance and the correct temperature, what will they do? They will sit there moving around randomly until time and motion degrade them, according to the laws of thermodynamics. They will never form a living cell because the cell is not simply a collection of proteins and other biochemicals jumbled together in a sack, it is a highly complicated machine in which all the parts are ORGANISED coherently each in relation to the other. Stomachs need brains, muscles need kidneys, skin needs a liver, mouth needs blood-everything needs everything else at the cellular level just as at the whole animal level.
One last thing, what's the cell going to eat? All animals eat other animals or plants or their detritus, plants produce energy from sunlight using chlorophyll, which is UNBELIEVABLY complicated and has no precursors. What is our first proposed cell going to consume as an energy source?
It can be seen that there are numerous stages at which life from non life is blocked by inviolable laws of physics and chemistry, as can be repeatedly shown by experiments.The above is simplified-the real difficulties for life from non life are far greater as you can see when you go deeper into the biochemistry.
The committed evolutionist will sneer and say 'it must have happened anyway even if we don't have all the answers yet-we will have them one day, you'll see!'
How is this not a faith position?
The above basic science points are all routinely ignored as children are taught that we have a sufficient experimental basis to accept that life comes from non life, as in "Water may have once existed on Mars, therefore life might have (for 'might have' read 'obviously must have') come into being there'". We are getting this speculation about the 'new' planet Gleise 581. Nobody is asking the above questions.
Now, to anyone who has read this far, what about the idea that molecules to man evolution is based on repeatable scientific experiments and can in theory be falsified? I have put forward numerous hard science facts, some of them VERY basic, which falsify the standard life from non-life story at numerous successive stages. None of these facts are original to me, they are all out there in the scientific literature and can be checked. Yet STILL they say 'there is no controversy' and try to silence those who question the orthodoxy. I have been called an idiot and a religious nutcase for asking the above questions and drawing attention to the above facts, and told to shut up and go away.
If any students are reading this, will you find the nerve to put any of the above science points to your teachers? Be prepared for evasion, ridicule and name calling if you try. It might be easier and safer just to memorise and regurgitate what they feed you, as I did for my zoology A level.
HOW DARE THEY feed me a highly selective
version of the Miller-Urey experiments at school for A level biology,
make my progress to university dependent on regurgitating the wrongly
interpreted results of a fundamentally biased experiment as truth, AND
THEN accuse 'creationists' (not all Darwin dissenters are creationists
or even theists) of anti-science indoctrination and child abuse for
asking questions?!? The Damnable Liars.
SO, where does this get us in proposing a non-intelligently directed starting point for life? Nowhere? No, much worse than that. The Miller Urey experiments and their successors were (and still are) widely hailed as proving that the 'chemicals of life' could come about by random processes, are in the text books, and are taught to children as 'evidence'. They are the best that naturalistic science has been able to do so far in this field, despite considerable efffort. They fail at numerous successive points.
proteins could form naturally in a 'pre biotic soup', and all we know
about them says they can't, the production of functioning proteins is a
NECESSARY but not a SUFFICIENT step to make the first living,
reproducing, cell without which any supposed evolution by natural
selection COULD NOT HAVE BEGUN. All the evidence is that not even a
single protein molecule can form without pre-existing fully functioning
cellular mechanisms plus substrates (e.g. sugar) to work on.
some 3,000 different proteins (that's three thousand) are found in a human cell. Many inherited diseases, some of them very nasty indeed, occur if JUST ONE of those proteins is SLIGHTLY wrong. Tay Sachs and Sickle Cell are 2 examples to look up. Protein synthesis is EXTREMELY difficult, but happens easily and quickly in a living cell, since there are specific molecular engines, enzymes, mitochondria, ribosomes, DNA, RNA and an acid/base stabilised cytoplasm etc etc etc all working together in purposeful and controlled harmony. However, none of these things can have been present in the supposed pre-biotic soup, since they are all PRODUCTS of a fully functioning cell. There does not therefore seem to be any way of getting proteins from the random action of electrical energy on simple chemicals other than by Darwin style supposition and imagination, or Dawkins style bluster and confabulation.
different model can come up, and none has, evolution does not so much
stumble at the first hurdle, or fail to get off the starting line, but
fails to even qualify to take part in the race.
The Miller Urey experiments are still put forward as evidence to support atoms to life by accident.
They do not support this view at all, quite the reverse. All they do is showcase the apparenetly overwhelming difficulties of even getting to the starting point of amino acids, before considering the other multiple road blocks I have briefly outlined above. It is instructive to observe the attempts of materialist evolutionists to prevent attention being drawn to the problems of abiogenesis, and above all to prevent these difficulties being put to science students while their minds are still open. Regarding the question of life originating from non life by naturalistic processes, it is not so much that there is no evidence for it (and there isn't) but that there is overwhelming evidence based on the biochemical discoveries of the last 30 years or so which demonstrate beyond reasonable, or indeed unreasonable, doubt that life could not possibly have begun in the way I was taught at A level biology.">
Prof Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA and a great believer in the naturalistic (i.e. accidental) origin of life, said, “The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions that had to be satisfied to get it going.” Prof. Crick goes on to argue that this might be overcome in long periods of time. However, there is no justification for believing that time can overcome basic chemical laws.
here for an illustrated and more scholarly item on Miller Urey
you need to click on the link and then select 'evidence for evolution'
and then click on 'Miller Urey'. Much other evidence for evolution is
examined critically on the Truth in Science web site.
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