Origin-of-Life Experiments

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2005

In order to “prove” that life can come from nonliving chemicals, scientists have tried to do experiments that produce life from nonlife. These experiments are often called “origin-of-life” experiments. One of the most famous origin-of-life experiments was performed by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey. Miller believed that lightning struck chemicals on the Earth millions of years ago. This electric charge supposedly was responsible for producing life out of the chemicals. So, Miller and Urey built a miniature “world” with certain chemicals in it, but nothing that was living. They also made a place in the experiment where a spark would strike the chemicals. After the spark struck the chemicals, they made a place to catch whatever formed. After sending water and chemicals through the apparatus, they “caught” several interesting things. Mostly, they caught a sticky dark tar. But they also found that certain amino acids had formed. Amino acids form proteins, and proteins can form life. After repeating the experiment, they found that some of the amino acids needed for life could form. Certain people who believed in evolution said that Miller and Urey had “proved” that life could have come from nonliving chemicals.

But there were several problems with the experiment. First, it did not form life. It produced only tiny building blocks that, under the right conditions, could help form life. That would be like trying to build a new building out of a bunch of chemicals. After shocking those chemicals, you produce clay that sometimes can be formed into bricks—and bricks can be used to construct a building. Have you proved that you can erect a building from a bunch of chemicals? No. All you have proved is that those chemicals can form clay. It takes a very intelligent person to form clay into bricks, and it takes an even more intelligent person to form bricks into a building.

Miller and Urey also had another problem. Oxygen is a chemical that makes up about 21% of our atmosphere. We need oxygen to live. Animals and humans must breathe oxygen to survive. But Miller and Urey did not put any oxygen in the experiment. Why not? Because oxygen is a chemical that breaks down other chemicals. If they had put oxygen in the experiment, it would have immediately destroyed every amino acid that was formed. Today, scientists believe that the Earth’s atmosphere contained oxygen when evolutionists think life formed (supposedly billions of years ago). Yet, if there was oxygen in the atmosphere, all the amino acids needed for life would have been destroyed. Miller and Urey knew that oxygen would ruin the experiment, so they did not use it. Their experiment did not prove that life comes from nonliving chemicals. In fact, it proved just the opposite. Life could not have evolved in an environment that contained oxygen (like the supposed environment of early Earth).

Here is something else to think about. Stanley Miller, Harold Urey, and other scientists doing similar experiments are very intelligent people. They have spent thousands of hours trying to form life from nonliving chemicals. They have not even come close to accomplishing their goal. Yet, they believe that in nature, life came from nonliving chemicals by accident. It has taken them thousands of hours to try to produce life, and they have failed. Does it make sense to believe that it happened by accident in nature? If these intelligent people who are trying to produce life cannot do it, why should we believe that “nature” somehow accidentally produced life? The truth is, God created living things during the six days of Creation. Life did not form slowly over millions of years. And life did not accidentally pop up out of nonliving chemicals.


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