Evolution’s fundamental premise about how life began on earth is that after the planet formed and cooled, the surface was covered with a primordial soup. This “soup” was supposedly rich in amino acids and other chemicals that became the building blocks of simple life forms. From these simple life forms grew the complexity and variety of life that we now see all around us.
How plausible is this claim of evolutionists? Does the hard science actually back it up? Could life on this planet have evolved from a primordial soup?
The Miller-Urey experiment of 1952
To address these questions, let’s go back in time to 1952. About a century earlier Charles Darwin postulated the theory of evolution. But he never got into the actual mechanics of his theory! He collected his general thoughts about evolutionary thinking, made his famous voyage and drew conclusions from his observations in his now famous book, The Origin of Species . However, he left it for others to study how his theory would work.
In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey conducted an experiment at the University of Chicago testing whether they could make amino acids form a few simple compounds under the conditions thought to have existed on an early earth. Miller-Urey used water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen – combined with oxygen – to create a soup they put in a flask in a closed loop environment. They heated the water up in one container and exposed the vapor to a high-energy spark in another flask. This vapor was cooled and then the process was repeated. Of the 20 amino acids that occur naturally in all life, Miller claimed to have reproduced 11 through their experiment.
The excitement in the scientific community over Miller’s experiment reverberates to this day. But did Miller prove that life could come from this primordial soup?
Well, it is now known that Miller kept tweaking the parameters of his experiment until he made some amino acids. No experiment is deemed credible until it can be consistently replicated and Miller’s experiment has never been replicated to achieve the same results. Later scientists adjusted the chemical composition based on other thinking about what the conditions on earth might have been at that time—but the bottom line is that no one really knows.
Experiments reported in 2011
A more recent experiment published in 2011 received much attention because scientists believed that they had made a significant discovery of a new clue in the formation of the chemical building blocks of life. Researchers found that they could create conditions under which the natural form of several amino acids could bring about the formation of a simple 4-carbon sugar.
However, the report itself was clear that the conditions had to be very specific, including not being in water but in a buffered solution at exactly pH 7, ( Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 2011 ). What this means in simpler terms is that the conditions have to be perfect and that perfection must last for untold millions of years for there to be enough of these amino acids to build into complex proteins and carbohydrates in the supposed primordial soup.
Primordial soupy problems
Several serious complications arise from the premise that life came from a primordial soup. First is the hurdle of creating life from non-life. One of the fundamental principles of modern biology is the Cell Theory which states that all living organisms are composed of cells, the cell is the basic building block of life, and that cells arise from pre-existing cells. While Miller succeeded in creating a number of amino acids there is still the very large hurdle of these amino acids forming into a viable protein chain on which life—that is, cells—could be built.
The second hurdle is that carbon dioxide (considered to be abundant in earth’s early atmosphere) when combined with nitrogen creates nitrates. And nitrates will destroy amino acids as fast as they are formed. How would any amino acids have lasted long enough to begin to assemble into a complex chain of proteins required for life?
The third hurdle is the old, one-two punch. Oxygen is a corrosive agent, but it is also necessary for almost all life on earth. And water (oxygen combined with hydrogen) is a solvent to any prebiotic formation of carbohydrates. In primordial soup dynamics, what this means is that both of these elements would work to break down or dissolve simple compounds like amino acids.
This phenomenon is known as the “Oxygen Paradox”—because oxygen is vitally necessary for life as we know it. Yet oxygen is a corrosive agent that will break down cellular structure. Add this one-two punch exposure to UV light and these proposed simple amino acids would have never stood a chance to last long enough for other amino acids to be randomly formed, and then for all of them to assemble in a complex cellular manner.
The main point
If you are interested in the science, do a search on the Miller-Urey experiment to see what they did and didn’t accomplish. Check into the “Oxygen Paradox” if you want to understand more about how oxygen breaks down cellular walls. Take a look at the Law of Biogenesis and ask yourself how scientists can assert that life can come from non-life long enough to create life and then never happen again!
The main point is that God created both the universe and life just as recorded in the first two chapters of Genesis. He not only created life as we know it, He created the building blocks for life, and continues to sustain life. God created and named all the billions of stars (Isaiah 40:26 Isaiah 40:26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who has created these things, that brings out their host by number: he calls them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one fails.
American King James Version×) and placed them where they are in the universe (Isaiah 45:12 Isaiah 45:12I have made the earth, and created man on it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
American King James Version×). Creating life was the logical next step after creating the universe.
Beyond the vast galaxies and mere physical life forms, the true God of the Bible also created mankind for a greater purpose…
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him , And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor ” (Psalms 8:3-5 Psalms 8:3-5 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
4 What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?
5 For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
All of life—including us humans—God the Father created through Jesus Christ who is called the Word in John 1:1-5 John 1:1-5 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
American King James Version×. Yet, most have not understood why He made mankind. However, for those whom He has called to understand His purpose and creation, God offers an incredible, family destiny, “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×).
This can be your amazing future as well, if you seek God while He can be found (Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×). Remember, the mighty God who created all that exists will not be found in some primordial slime, but He can be found and understood through His revealed Word, the Bible.
For a more in-depth look at the shortcomings of the theory of evolution, we recommend reading our booklet Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? You can read it online or order a free print copy from the literature library of our website.