LETTER: Science shows flaws in Miller-Urey experiment

One of the common “proofs” that the evolutionary origin of life is possible, is the Miller-Urey experiment (“Question science instead of beliefs,” Sept. 1) in which they prepared certain chemicals in an apparatus and then applied a spark at random to simulate lightning striking in an early Earth atmosphere. Amino acids were formed — the very building blocks of life.

There are, however, many problems with their methodology. According to Scott M. Huse, Ph.D.’s “The Collapse of Evolution,” page 153:

“1. The concentrations of methane and ammonia were carefully selected to ensure the production of organic molecules. There is no evidence to suggest the Earth’s atmosphere was so characterized.

2. There is no evidence to indicate the Earth’s early atmosphere was reducing. There is, however, considerable evidence to suggest the Earth had an oxidizing atmosphere during most, if not all, of its history.

3. A methane-ammonia-reducing atmosphere would be fatal to life-forms.

4. The simulation of lightning by mild spark discharges is unrealistic. Actual lightning would have destroyed any organics that may have been present.

5. The molecules produced in the Miller-Urey apparatus would react detrimentally to life forms that were trying to evolve. Chemically, they would destroy all hope of producing life.”

The other problems with the experiment are as follows:

1. They cheated. They designed the apparatus to separate amino acids from the mix once they were formed. If they hadn’t done that as soon as an amino acid was formed, the next electrical spark may have rearranged the atoms into some other form.

2. The amino acids they did produce were half left-handed and half right-handed, just like you would expect from a random process like electrical sparks in a gas mixture. The trouble is, only left-handed amino acids are used in organisms.

3. Additional molecules were formed other than amino acids. Namely, formaldehyde and cyanide, which are destructive to life.

Mr. Green, I sincerely hope you don’t take this personally. I realize that by bringing up these points it just means you’ve been a good student who has committed to memory what his instructors have taught. I’m attacking how we’ve taught it, not those who have learned it. We have all been led to believe the Miller-Urey experiment was conclusive proof of the possibility of evolution ever since high school, but that conclusion is purely false for the reasons stated above.

Jonathan Bracewell


Political Science