Junk science is a two way street. Christians have engaged in it at times but so have those who oppose any non-material cause for the universe. Neither side does their cause any favors when they posit bogus or defunct theories to buttress their a priori assumptions and wishes. The following is from Kairos Journal and takes popular myths about primordial gases to task for being -- junk.
Primordial Gas: The Miller-Urey Experiment
In December 1952, a gradu
ate student atthe , Stanley L. Miller, and his supervisor, Harold C. Urey, conducted an experiment th Universityof Chicago atnot only shook the world but sought to re-cre ate it. They shot electricity through an atmosphere they claimed was akin to th aton primitive earth and cre ated amino acids—the building blocks of life. When the Miller-Urey experiment was published in Science on May 15, 1953, it captured the imagin ation of Darwinian evolutionists by suggesting th atlife arose on earth by spontaneous reactions.1
Until the mid-1800s, scientists thought organic chemicals could only form by the actions of living things. However, Wöhler’s synthetic cre
ation of the organic molecule urea by he ating inorganic minerals in 1828 heralded a century of similar synthesis, culmin ating in 1913 with Löb’s chemical synthesis of the amino acid glycine. In 1922, a Russian scientist, Oparin, argued th atcellular life was preceded by a period of chemical evolution. These chemicals, he argued, must have arisen spontaneously under conditions existing billions of years ago.2
Following Urey’s early work on the chemical events associ
ated with the origin of the solar system, Miller approached the Nobel laure ate about the possibility of doing an experiment using a reducing gas mixture. In 1952, Miller had designed an experimental test for Oparin’s hypothesis, and he enlisted Urey’s help to perform it. They discharged electric sparks into a mixture of gases thought to resemble the primordial atmosphere (hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, w ater vapor, ammonia, and methane). From the w ater receptacle designed to model an ancient ocean, Miller recovered high yields of amino acids—the building blocks of proteins, seen as the first step to making life.
However, although the Miller-Urey experiment is tre
ated as a w atershed moment in the history of evolution, the current scientific consensus is th atthe atmosphere of primitive earth was not like the one Miller cre ated in 1952.3 As Philip Abelson, a geophysicist with the Carnegie Institution, concluded in 1966: “Wh atis the evidence for a primitive methane-ammonia atmosphere on earth? The answer is th atthere is no evidence for it, but much against it.”4 It is unlikely th atthere was much if any hydrogen in the primitive atmosphere because it would have escaped into space, and in an accur ate atmosphere the only organic compounds cre ated would be formaldehyde and cyanide—hardly conducive to life.
Curiously, although the experiment has little ongoing scientific significance, it is still prominently fe
atured in biology textbooks thereby cre ating the impression th atlife’s origin has been solved. Biologist Jon athan Wells may be right to conclude, “[T]his is m aterialistic philosophy masquerading as empirical science.”5 The Miller-Urey experiment did not cre ate the recipe for life, and any who suggest th atscience has explained how life began are on shaky ground. Belief in the sovereign Cre ator takes no such leap of faith.
S. L. Miller, “A Production of Amino Acids under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions,” Science 117 (May 15, 1953): 528-529.
Jeffery L. Bada and Antonio Lazcano, “Prebiotic Soup—Revisiting the Miller Experiment,” Science 300 (May 2, 2003): 745-746, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/300/5620/745.
ating and helpful summary of the issues is contained in the foreword by leading biologist, Dean Kenyon (who moved from being a leading advoc ate to a leading skeptic of biochemical evolution) to a seminal intelligent design work, Mystery of Life’s Origin by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen (New York, N.Y.: Philosophical Library, 1984), cited in Thomas Woodward, Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 44, 85-86.
P. H. Abelson, “Chemical Events on the Primitive Earth,” Proceedings of the N
ational Academy of Sciences USA 55 (1966): 1365-1372, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for a Cre ator ( : Zondervan, 2004), 37. Grand Rapids, MI
Quoted in ibid., 41.