In the 1700’s, many scientists believed that flies spontaneously generated from non-living matter (such as raw meat or sewage). In the 1800’s, using careful experimentation, Louis Pasteur proved this concept wrong and verified that life only comes from previously existing life. This observation has NEVER been contradicted and is acknowledged as a law of science in all almost all biology books accompanied by statements such as, “Living cells come ONLY from other living cells.” Ironically, these same textbooks promote the exact opposite idea (in the sections on evolution) using statements such as, “In the past, life arose from non-living material.” There are several conclusions which Christians should point out regarding this blatant inconsistency.
First, the law of abiogenesis (life comes only from previously existing life) has been confirmed by hundreds of years of scientific observation and experimentation without a single exception, whereas the belief that chemicals came alive “sometime in the past” is based purely on a faith-like and almost religious adherence to the belief in naturalism (the idea that natural processes made everything). Life arising from chemicals has never been verified by a single experimental observation. Billions of dollars have been spent on four roving probes looking for any sign of simple life on Mars – yet the search has proven totally fruitless.
So how do textbooks justify the idea that chemicals “came alive”, all by themselves, in the distant past? A classic experiment used to support this belief was first performed by Dr. Stanley Miller in 1953. In this experiment, sparks were discharged into an apparatus through which common gases were circulated. These gases reacted to form various organic products which were then collected and analyzed. The experiment succeeded in producing a few of the 20 amino acids, commonly referred to as the “building blocks” of life. These results have been heralded as proof that life could have arisen by itself. However, dozens of major problems with this experiment still go unanswered and are seldom mentioned to students.* A few of the problems with this explanation for life’s origin are listed below:
1. The majority of the 20 different amino acids needed for life have never been formed by any natural process and are never made by this type of experiment. Where did the other required amino acids come from?
2. The majority of chemicals produced in this experiment are toxic to life. How could life develop in this toxic blend?
3. This experiment was done w/o oxygen. Our early atmosphere is assumed to have had no oxygen because this would prevent any amino acid formation. However, with no oxygen, there would be no ozone shield and without an ozone shield, life would be impossible. Furthermore, oxidized rocks throughout the geological record indicate that oxygen has always been present.
4. The same gases which can react to form amino acids undergo changes in the presence of sunlight which remove them from the atmosphere. The required gases simply could not have been around long enough for life to have developed.
5. A cold trap was used to keep the reaction products from being destroyed as fast as they formed. Where is this “cold trap” in nature.
6. The amino acids formed in this experiment are always a 50/50 mixture of stereotypes – like right-hand and left-hand gloves. Yet all forms of life use only “left-hand gloves”. How could the first cell have selected only L stereotypes from the random, equally reactive mixture produced in this experiment? This would be like randomly flipping a coin and getting “heads” hundreds of times in a row.
These are just some of the myriad problems surrounding the belief that life made itself. These and other major issues are simply ignored. What this experiment really proves is that life could not possibly have developed in this manner. Yet sixty years after its debut, textbooks still showcase Miller’s experiment as the primary evidence for the formation of life. The fact that sixty years after its proposal this lousy evidence is still be used to justify the belief in evolution is a clear indication that no better evidence exists. Chemical evolution flies in the face of reality.
* The Mystery of LIfe’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Thaxton , Bradley, Olsen, Kenyon.