March 23, 2008
The most generally respected study on the origin of life is the Miller experiment conducted by the American researcher Stanley Miller in 1953. (The experiment is also known as the “Urey-Miller experiment” because of the contribution of Miller’s instructor at the University of Chicago, Harold Urey.) This experiment is the only “evidence” evolutionists have with which to allegedly prove the “chemical evolution thesis”; they advance it as the first stage of the supposed evolutionary process leading to life. Although nearly half a century has passed, and great technological advances have been made, nobody has made any further progress. In spite of this, Miller’s experiment is still taught in textbooks as the evolutionary explanation of the earliest generation of living things. That is because, aware of the fact that such studies do not support, but rather actually refute, their thesis, evolutionist researchers deliberately avoid embarking on such experiments.
Stanley Miller’s aim was to demonstrate by means of an experiment that amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, could have come into existence “by chance” on the lifeless earth billions of years ago. In his experiment, Miller used a gas mixture that he assumed to have existed on the primordial earth (but which later proved unrealistic), composed of ammonia, methane, hydrogen, and water vapor. Since these gases would not react with each other under natural conditions, he added energy to the mixture to start a reaction among them. Supposing that this energy could have come from lightning in the primordial atmosphere, he used an electric current for this purpose.
Miller heated this gas mixture at 100°C for a week and added the electrical current. At the end of the week, Miller analyzed the chemicals which had formed at the bottom of the jar, and observed that three out of the 20 amino acids which constitute the basic elements of proteins had been synthesized.
This experiment aroused great excitement among evolutionists, and was promoted as an outstanding success. Moreover, in a state of intoxicated euphoria, various publications carried headlines such as “Miller creates life.” However, what Miller had managed to synthesize was only a few inanimate molecules.
Encouraged by this experiment, evolutionists immediately produced new scenarios. Stages following the development of amino acids were hurriedly hypothesized. Supposedly, amino acids had later united in the correct sequences by accident to form proteins. Some of these proteins which emerged by chance formed themselves into cell membrane–like structures which “somehow” came into existence and formed a primitive cell. These cells then supposedly came together over time to form multicellular living organisms.
However, Miller’s experiment has since proven to be false in many respects.
Four Facts That Invalidate Miller’s Experiment
Miller’s experiment sought to prove that amino acids could form on their own in primordial earth-like conditions, but it contains inconsistencies in a number of areas:
1- By using a mechanism called a “cold trap,” Miller isolated the amino acids from the environment as soon as they were formed. Had he not done so, the conditions in the environment in which the amino acids were formed would immediately have destroyed these molecules.
Doubtless, this kind of conscious isolation mechanism did not exist on the primordial earth. Without such a mechanism, even if one amino acid were obtained, it would immediately have been destroyed. The chemist Richard Bliss expresses this contradiction by observing that “Actually, without this trap, the chemical products, would have been destroyed by the energy source.”218 And, sure enough, in his previous experiments, Miller had been unable to make even one single amino acid using the same materials without the cold trap mechanism.
2- The primordial atmosphere that Miller attempted to simulate in his experiment was not realistic. In the 1980s, scientists agreed that nitrogen and carbon dioxide should have been used in this artificial environment instead of methane and ammonia.
So why did Miller insist on these gases? The answer is simple: without ammonia, it was impossible to synthesize any amino acid. Kevin Mc Kean talks about this in an article published in Discover magazine:
Miller and Urey imitated the ancient atmosphere on the Earth with a mixture of methane and ammonia. …However in the latest studies, it has been understood that the Earth was very hot at those times, and that it was composed of melted nickel and iron. Therefore, the chemical atmosphere of that time should have been formed mostly of nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O). However these are not as appropriate as methane and ammonia for the production of organic molecules.219
The American scientists J. P. Ferris and C. T. Chen repeated Miller’s experiment with an atmospheric environment that contained carbon dioxide, hydrogen, nitrogen, and water vapor, and were unable to obtain even a single amino acid molecule.220
3- Another important point that invalidates Miller’s experiment is that there was enough oxygen to destroy all the amino acids in the atmosphere at the time when they were thought to have been formed. This fact, overlooked by Miller, is revealed by the traces of oxidized iron found in rocks that are estimated to be 3.5 billion years old.221
There are other findings showing that the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at that time was much higher than originally claimed by evolutionists. Studies also show that the amount of ultraviolet radiation to which the earth was then exposed was 10,000 times more than evolutionists’ estimates. This intense radiation would unavoidably have freed oxygen by decomposing the water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
This situation completely negates Miller’s experiment, in which oxygen was completely neglected. If oxygen had been used in the experiment, methane would have decomposed into carbon dioxide and water, and ammonia into nitrogen and water. On the other hand, in an environment where there was no oxygen, there would be no ozone layer either; therefore, the amino acids would have immediately been destroyed, since they would have been exposed to the most intense ultraviolet rays without the protection of the ozone layer. In other words, with or without oxygen in the primordial world, the result would have been a deadly environment for the amino acids.
4- At the end of Miller’s experiment, many organic acids had also been formed with characteristics detrimental to the structure and function of living things. If the amino acids had not been isolated, and had been left in the same environment with these chemicals, their destruction or transformation into different compounds through chemical reactions would have been unavoidable.
Moreover, Miller’s experiment also produced right-handed amino acids.222 The existence of these amino acids refuted the theory even within its own terms, because right-handed amino acids cannot function in the composition of living organisms. To conclude, the circumstances in which amino acids were formed in Miller’s experiment were not suitable for life. In truth, this medium took the form of an acidic mixture destroying and oxidizing the useful molecules obtained.
All these facts point to one firm truth: Miller’s experiment cannot claim to have proved that living things formed by chance under primordial earth–like conditions. The whole experiment is nothing more than a deliberate and controlled laboratory experiment to synthesize amino acids. The amount and types of the gases used in the experiment were ideally determined to allow amino acids to originate. The amount of energy supplied to the system was neither too much nor too little, but arranged precisely to enable the necessary reactions to occur. The experimental apparatus was isolated, so that it would not allow the leaking of any harmful, destructive, or any other kind of elements to hinder the formation of amino acids. No elements, minerals or compounds that were likely to have been present on the primordial earth, but which would have changed the course of the reactions, were included in the experiment. Oxygen, which would have prevented the formation of amino acids because of oxidation, is only one of these destructive elements. Even under such ideal laboratory conditions, it was impossible for the amino acids produced to survive and avoid destruction without the “cold trap” mechanism.
In fact, by his experiment, Miller destroyed evolution’s claim that “life emerged as the result of unconscious coincidences.” That is because, if the experiment proves anything, it is that amino acids can only be produced in a controlled laboratory environment where all the conditions are specifically designed by conscious intervention.
Today, Miller’s experiment is totally disregarded even by evolutionist scientists. In the February 1998 issue of the famous evolutionist science journal Earth, the following statements appear in an article titled “Life’s Crucible”:
Geologist now think that the primordial atmosphere consisted mainly of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, gases that are less reactive than those used in the 1953 experiment. And even if Miller’s atmosphere could have existed, how do you get simple molecules such as amino acids to go through the necessary chemical changes that will convert them into more complicated compounds, or polymers, such as proteins? Miller himself throws up his hands at that part of the puzzle. “It’s a problem,” he sighs with exasperation. “How do you make polymers? That’s not so easy.”223
As seen, today even Miller himself has accepted that his experiment does not lead to an explanation of the origin of life. In the March 1998 issue of National Geographic, in an article titled “The Emergence of Life on Earth,” the following comments appear:
Many scientists now suspect that the early atmosphere was different to what Miller first supposed. They think it consisted of carbon dioxide and nitrogen rather than hydrogen, methane, and ammonia.
That’s bad news for chemists. When they try sparking carbon dioxide and nitrogen, they get a paltry amount of organic molecules – the equivalent of dissolving a drop of food colouring in a swimming pool of water. Scientists find it hard to imagine life emerging from such a diluted soup.224
In brief, neither Miller’s experiment, nor any other similar one that has been attempted, can answer the question of how life emerged on earth. All of the research that has been done shows that it is impossible for life to emerge by chance, and thus confirms that life is created. The reason evolutionists do not accept this obvious reality is their blind adherence to prejudices that are totally unscientific. Interestingly enough, Harold Urey, who organized the Miller experiment with his student Stanley Miller, made the following confession on this subject:
All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It is just that its complexity is so great, it is hard for us to imagine that it did.225
218 Richard B. Bliss, Gary E. Parker, Duane T. Gish, Origin of Life, C.L.P. Publications, 3rd ed., California, 1990, pp. 14-15.
219 Kevin Mc Kean, Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology), no. 189, p. 7.
220 J. P. Ferris, C. T. Chen, “Photochemistry of Methane, Nitrogen, and Water Mixture As a Model for the Atmosphere of the Primitive Earth,” Journal of American Chemical Society, vol. 97:11, 1975, p. 2964.
221 “New Evidence on Evolution of Early Atmosphere and Life,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 63, November 1982, pp. 1328-1330.
222 Richard B. Bliss & Gary E. Parker, Duane T. Gish, Origin of Life, C.L.P. Publications, 3rd ed., California, 1990, p. 16.
223 “Life’s Crucible,” Earth, February 1998, p. 34. (emphasis added)
224 “The Rise of Life on Earth,” National Geographic, March 1998, p. 68. (emphasis added)
225 W. R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited, Thomas Nelson Co., Nashville, 1991, p. 325.(emphasis added)