The Miller Experiment Is Dead; Long Live the Miller Experiment
The image of Stanley Miller pondering his spark-discharge apparatus is too valuable an icon to toss on the trash heap of history.
Dr. Stanley Miller (1930-2007), like Frankenstein, stands proudly, arms akimbo, behind his lightning-bolt flask in a piece on Astrobiology Magazine. Yes, he got some glycine and other mixed-handed amino acids in his artificial atmosphere, but in the many years since 1953, many in the origin-of-life field have found serious problems with his experimental setup. When they replicated the experiment with more realistic prebiotic atmospheric gases, including free oxygen, they got nothing. The field has moved on since then, looking for amino acids in meteors or comets, are imagining metabolic processes emerging in deep-sea vents. But something about that photo, with the lightning bolt in the flask, sent the imagination of atheists soaring:
In 1953, American chemist Stanley Miller had famously electrified a mixture of simple gas and water to simulate lightning and the atmosphere of early Earth. The revolutionary experiment—which yielded a brownish soup of amino acids—offered a simple potential scenario for the origin of life’s building blocks. Miller’s work gave birth to modern research on pre-biotic chemistry and the origins of life.
Miller, therefore, electrified more than gases: he electrified the imagination. It was not a realistic scenario; just a “potential scenario” that sent the world on a quest that has run into obstacles at every turn (e.g., compare 2/15/07 and 1/26/08).
Now, to keep the dream alive, Antonino Marco Saitta and colleagues at the Sorbonne in Paris have re-examined Miller’s experiment at the quantum level. This, presumably, will breathe new life into the old icon. In computer simulations, they got the glycine all right, and discovered something new: that formamide, not formaldehyde, appears to be the precursor molecule (Jeffrey Bada, Miller’s student, is skeptical about this, the article notes). They also believe that the electric field might be 10 to 20 times stronger on mineral surfaces. “Nobody has really looked at electric fields on mineral surfaces,” Saitta said. “My feeling is that there’s probably something to explore there.”
None of this should matter, though, if the experiment starts with the wrong gases. Did they make the same error Miller did? A look at their paper in PNAS shows, that, indeed, they did: “A preliminary test to all simulations reported in the main text was carried out on a system, named M00, based on the original Miller mixture and relative proportions of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen.” Apparently all 50 runs used reducing conditions with no free oxygen, which would have destroyed the desired “building blocks” (glycine, it should be noted, is the simplest amino acid, with no chirality). They failed to mention, also, that the “brownish soup” included chemicals that would destroy the amino acids.
Any results of the new work, therefore, are only of academic interest, and—like the original Miller experiment—bear no relevance on speculations about the plausibility of life arising under “natural” conditions. They only illustrate intelligently-designed artificial experiments about organic synthesis under controlled conditions.
Sixty-one years now the evolutionists (and NASA, with tax funding), have promoted the Building Blocks of Lie with their Miller icon. We’ve been crying out like a voice in the wilderness about this phony icon for over a decade (5/02/03). What will it take to get the liars to fess up? They know full well that this experiment has nothing to do with life, but they continue milking it of all the propaganda value they can get to promote atheistic materialism. Debunking the “useful lie” requires some knowledge of organic chemistry many people do not have, but the propagandists know that a picture is worth a thousand words. That image of lightning-in-a-flask sent young Lee Strobel, as a high school student, down his decades-long detour into atheism (see film The Case for a Creator). How many others went down that same path to spiritual destruction?
The origin of life is arguably the most (or one of the most) astronomical hurdles for evolutionary materialists to leap over by faith, but you wouldn’t know it from NASA’s power of suggestion. Get educated about this key issue! Read our online book. Read Shapiro and Orgel falsifying each other. Read Meyer’s Signature in the Cell. Whatever you do, help stop this scientifically-vacuous, emotionally-poisoned propaganda from doing any more damage to impressionable minds.