How exactly did the first living things come into being were they formed by lighting electrocuting lifeless chemicals or were they spoken into existence by the Word of a Divine Creator? This topic came up in my historical geology college class a few times. When theories of how lifeless chemicals might have become the first living organisms were presented I was pretty skeptical. I often brought up my concerns that forming life out of lifeless chemicals would go against the scientific law of biogenesis (the principle that we observe life can only come from other living things) discovered by Louis Pasteur, the scientist who figured out how to “pasteurize” milk. I remember the answer my professor and textbook gave to these concerns was that the 1950’s experiments by Dr. Stanley Miller and others are supposed to show how life could have come into being in earth’s early atmosphere.
Here’s what my textbook said:
“To the experimenters, it seemed almost inevitable that amino acids would have developed in Earth’s pre-life environment. Because amino acids are relatively stable, they probably increased gradually to an abundance that would promote their joining together into more complex molecules leading to proteins”
~ The Earth Through Time, 9th edition by Harold Levin, 2010, pg 237-38
The way that the famous “Miller Experiments” are presented can often be a little deceiving – these experiments can easily be misunderstood as almost forming life out of lifeless chemicals. However there’s a lot more to these experiments that isn’t always fully explained. First, it’s important to understand that what they actually got out of the experiments were just amino acids – chemicals that are very important to living creatures, but are still merely chemicals. Different amino acids combine to make proteins in a living creature.
The amino acids that formed by the Miller experiment were not at all on their way to becoming life because almost all living creatures use only left-handed amino acids and the experiments created half left- and half right- handed amino acids (which is actually toxic to life). These right-handed amino acids would be a huge problem for life forming. It’s interesting to note that when a creature dies, the exclusively left-handed amino acids naturally turn into a balanced mixture of right- and left-handed amino acids; this means that what Miller created was like death, not life.
Another problem with the Miller Experiments is the chemicals chosen to run the experiment. They had to make a lot of assumptions about the climate of earth and use their intelligence in choosing those chemicals expecting certain results – this was no random-chance accident. Oxygen is important to life, but it would be destructive to the formation of life. Similarly, water is important, yet amino acids cannot for the chains necessary for life arround water. To top it all off, the amino acids formed in the experiment had to be quickly removed from where they had formed because Miller knew they would be destroyed if they stayed in the conditions under which they formed.
Life doesn’t come from non-life. This means there must be an ultimate, eternal source of life with no beginning or end . . . . and that sure sounds like our Creator, God:
“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible . . . all things were created by Him and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” ~ Colossions 1:16-17
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” ~ John 1:3-4
“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” ~ Revelation 22:13
The Earth Through Time, 9th edition by Harold Levin, 2010, pg 237-38
The Origin of Life: scientific evidence that demands a Creator God video by Mike Riddle. Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/store/product/origin-life/?sku=30-9-113
Article Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2015. Used with permission