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New Life in a Test Tube? Hardly

Laboratory beakers: ID 19048225 © Irochka |

[Originally published as Life in a Test Tube? A Fairy Tale for Adults]

A long time ago in a place not too far away, a warm little pond lay at the foot of an active volcano.

One day there was a flash of lightning near the little pond.

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From the lightning a wonderful thing happened.

Amino acids, the building blocks of life, formed and fell into the pond.

After millions of years and many more lightning strokes, all kinds of chemicals gathered in the pond, just waiting to join together to form the first life on earth.

Then, it happened!

In spite of the incredible odds against such a thing, the chemicals all got together to form proteins, and then enzymes.

A few million years later they decided to form RNA and DNA, the codes for life. Presto! The first living cell came on the scene.

Then it said, “I need more like myself.” So it figured out a way to make more cells just like itself.

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After floating around in the pond for more millions of years, the cells decided that if they were really to have a go at this thing called life, they’d need to join up. So they got together to form the first multicellular creature.

After more millions of years and more multi-celled creatures they got tired of their watery existence and said, “Let’s see what life on land would be like.”

…and on it goes until humans arise.

Or so the evolutionary scenario would have us believe

Is this scenario of a “prebiotic soup” evolving into ever more complex life forms realistic? First of all, it may come as a shock that there’s absolutely no evidence that such “primordial ooze” ever existed.

Assuming for the moment that such a fortuitous combination of chemicals under just the right conditions did exist, has anyone shown that the right chemicals could combine to produce the first life?

In the 1950s Stanley Miller and others performed experiments in which they tried to simulate conditions that might have produced life on the early earth. Their apparatus pumped hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor through a spark chamber. The sparking was supposed to simulate lightning. After running the system the researchers collected chemicals produced by the artificial lightning in a trap and analyzed them.

What were the results that were so widely heralded?

Miller and the others who conducted these experiments produced amino acids along with other chemicals. Amino acids are one of the building blocks for proteins, which are necessary for life. But could processes like these actually lead to life?

What the textbooks seldom mention is the fact that the acids produced in Miller’s experiments were random. In living organisms only “left-handed” amino acids are found.

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But Miller and the others produced a mixture of “right-handed” and “left-handed” acids, with no way to separate the two. If just one right-handed molecule found its way into a DNA chain, the whole chain would break down.

But that’s not all. Unless something protects the newly formed amino acids, the very lightning that formed them would destroy them! Further, a process called hydrolysis would occur, where the water in which the acids reside would break them down.

But it doesn’t stop there.

If the “primitive atmosphere” contained no oxygen, no ozone would form to protect the warm little pond from ultraviolet radiation, which would also break down the chemicals. But analyses of rocks supposedly 300 million years older than life on earth have shown that the earth’s atmosphere has always contained oxygen.

On the other hand, with oxygen present, the newly formed amino acids wouldn’t have a chance either. They would be rather quickly oxidized and break down into simpler compounds.

So the evolutionist is caught in a vicious circle.

Life couldn’t form without oxygen, yet it couldn’t form with it present either!

This is only the beginning of problems. For instance, scientists have determined that if one of the main components of the “primitive atmosphere” were hydrogen, most of it would escape to space. Yet without the hydrogen, no amino acids would form.

Further, even if the right amino acids were formed, there’s a huge gap between those simple acids and the extreme complexity of living cells.

As a result, many have given up trying to find a way for life to arise spontaneously on earth. Some have turned to “panspermia.” This is the supposition that the first single-celled life must’ve evolved somewhere else in the galaxy and been planted here by aliens, or hitch-hiked on a meteor or comet.

But this just begs the question. The same problems would be encountered wherever life supposedly evolved.

There’s a better explanation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …”

Bruce Barton portrait 2014

Written by Bruce Barton

Bruce Barton has been actively involved in speaking and teaching in the creation–evolution controversy for over 15 years. Bruce combines his background in science, engineering, and theology to show how science supports the Genesis account of creation in a way that makes claims about origins understandable to everyone. He’s spoken at creation conferences and seminars, taught homeschool and Christian school classes, youth groups, and adult classes, and has led many creation science field trips in Washington State. You can find him at Bruce's Musings

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