NASA image via WikiCommons

The Miller Urey Experiment: Proof for What?

 Definition of Abiogenesis: the supposed spontaneous origination of living organisms directly from lifeless matter—called also spontaneous generation

NASA image via WikiCommons

Stanley Miller

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Remember learning about Louis Pasteur? Just before his time, many people believed maggots popped into life wherever meat was left out. They didn’t understand the connection between them and flies. They still thought wine fermented on its own, never thinking about yeast.

Belief in life just popping into existence without a parent is called Spontaneous Generation. Back before Jesus’ day, the Greeks and Romans already believed in it. It has never been observed and we now know it can’t happen.

But many scientists still believe it did happen, at least once, somewhere in the universe!

Scientists know people won’t take them seriously talking about spontaneous generation, so they changed the name of their belief. Now they prefer to call it “abiogenesis” which means non-life beginning.

Is abiogenesis really different? No. Which is why you don’t have kids’ books describing it. Instead you read about life after it already existed.

Miller Urey Experiment

Sometimes, books will talk about an experiment scientists did back in the 1953. They say it proved you can get the building blocks for life when things are just right.

equipment for a Miller-Urey type experiment

equipment for a Miller-Urey type experiment

That’s not really true. To get the results they were hoping for, the scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey carefully controlled everything:

  •  The amount of light was kept low
  • The temperature was kept just right
  • The ingredients in the experiment were carefully purified
  • No one today thinks they used the right ingredients
  • Most of the chemicals formed were deadly

After all this, they did get some amino acids (what proteins are built from).

Why is the most famous experiment for abiogenesis 60 years old? So many things couldn’t work in the real world, some scientists have switched to just using computers in “virtual laboratories”.

Others have decided life didn’t start on earth and are looking to outer space for answers. In the past few years, scientists have started searching meteorites for the building blocks of life. They are even finding some real extra-terrestrial amino acids. But they don’t like to point out one important thing

Just because you have an amino acid, doesn’t mean you can start new life

Many amino acids aren’t used by any life forms on earth. We know all of those can’t help explain abiogenesis. Even with the right kinds your work isn’t done.

Getting amino acids to combine themselves into something like a protein is a huge task. In the real world, there are a lot of things which would stop amino acids from building anything fancier.

Chirality with hands and two enantiomers of a ...

Chirality with hands and two enantiomers of a generic amino acid.

Even if they did, everything alive uses only half the amino acids produced by non-living reactions. Here’s how it works: amino acids are kind of like your hands; they have all the same parts but are mirror images. Cells almost only use the “left-handed” ones. But, there is always an even mixture of both outside of cells.

Any protein trying to form wouldn’t be able to separate out all the “right-handed” acids and couldn’t form properly. Even if one could somehow form, just one protein doesn’t come close to what you need for a “simple” cell.

The truth is, if you had a perfect environment with everything a cell needs to survive in just the right amounts…

You still couldn’t bring it to life

A dead body isn’t going to come back to life, even with all the parts in place, once the life is gone.

Only life can create life.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

They Aren’t About to Give Up, Though:

2008: Biologists Attempt to Create New Forms of Life (AiG discussion)

2009: RNA “precursors” created in the lab (ICR discussion)

2010: “synthetic life form” created (CMI discussion)

2011: Still studying the Miller Urey experiment (ICR Discussion)

2014: Formation of life’s building blocks recreated in lab (New Scientist- all the same problems are left as with the Miller-Urey experiment except for more acceptable ingredients)

For more, check out:

Creation Research.net Origin of Life:

“I have spent the better part of my life learning how/why chemicals react (I am a PhD synthetic chemist). Our best efforts under carefully controlled conditions can only create moderately complex chemicals. Our experience shows that manufacturing complex bio-compounds requires an intelligent creator scientist and we can only make the simpler molecules.” Ed Neeland

Bible Science Guy: Evidence for God – Design Convinces Scientists 7

Institute for Creation Research: Origin of Life Research Still Dead

Institute for Creation Research: Evolution Hopes You Don’t Know Chemistry: The Problem with Chirality

Creation Ministries International: Detailed Criticisms of the RNA World Hypothesis

Answers in Genesis: Why the Miller-Urey Research Argues Against Abiogenesis