Subject: Falsifying Evolution: Our High Schools, the Miller-Urey Experiment (Life from Nonlife)

Revelation 4:11 “You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

Ed Croteau

This past week brought another question from my teens in my Sunday School class. Her high school biology teacher opened the 5th edition of their textbook ‘Biology – Concepts and Connections’, and read them the story of how life most likely started on earth: “In 1953, scientists Miller and Urey were the first to show that amino acids and other organic molecules could have been generated on a lifeless Earth.

A flask of warmed water represented the primeval sea. The ‘atmosphere’ consisted of a mix of water vapor and gases that scientists thought prevailed in the ancient world. Electrodes discharged sparks into the gas mixture to mimic lightning. Below the spark chamber, a condenser surrounded the apparatus. Filled with cold water, the condenser cooled and condensed the water vapor in the gas mixture, causing ‘rain’ to fall back into the miniature sea… After the experiment proceeded for a week, Miller found a variety of organic compounds in the solution, including some amino acids that make up the proteins of organisms.

Since the 1950’s, Miller and other researchers have made most of the 20 amino acids commonly found in organisms, as well as sugars, lipids, the nitrogen bases present in the nucleotides of DNA and RNA, and even ATP. These laboratory studies support the idea that many of the organic molecules that make up living organisms could have formed before life itself arose on Earth.”

Lee Strobel, in his book ‘The Case for a Creator’, summed up how many high school teenagers feel when their biology teacher explained that life most likely arose by chance: “The moment I first learned of Miller’s success, my mind flashed to the logical implication: if the origin of life can be explained solely through natural processes, then God was out of a job! After all, there was no need for a deity if living organisms could emerge by themselves out of the primordial soup and then develop naturally over the eons into more and more complex creatures (a scenario that was illustrated by Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’)”. So here, in our high schools, is another example of using pseudoscience to remove God from the classrooms.

But the real question is whether or not the Miller-Urey experiment achieved what our high schools claim? Professor Johnathan Wells, in his book ‘Icons of Evolution’, along with Professor John Peet, on his website ‘Truth in Science’, explain two of the multiple fatal flaws in the Miller-Urey experiment that have caused scientists to discredit it as evidence for life arising spontaneously from nonlife.

Fatal Flaw #1: The experiment had to remove oxygen in order to form organic compounds, since oxygen destroys them. But since we know water vapor existed, there had to be oxygen also. And today, Earth’s atmosphere is 21% oxygen. The problem is that life’s building blocks can’t form in an oxygen atmosphere because oxygen breaks down organic molecules. Our own cells synthesize (build up) organic molecules in order for us to grow, heal or reproduce, and they must exclude oxygen from this process since it is fatal (it actually destroys organic molecules). By removing oxygen, Miller and Urey no longer simulated Earth.

Fatal Flaw #2: Earth’s early atmosphere had little if any ammonia and methane. The problem for the Miller-Urey experiment is that they need both to make amino acids. Ammonia didn’t exist because it absorbs UV radiation from sunlight, which destroys it. As far as methane goes, if large amounts had been present in the primitive atmosphere, the earliest rocks would contain a high proportion of organic molecules. But they do not. But the biggest evidence against the presence of ammonia and methane is the fact that hydrogen can’t be held by earth’s gravity. It escapes into outer space. Without hydrogen, there’s nothing to reduce carbon dioxide and nitrogen, which means ammonia and methane get broken down! In the world of organic chemistry, no experiment has ever produced organic material without starting with ammonia and methane!

Professor Francis Crick, one of the founders of the DNA molecule and an avowed atheist, was a believer in the accidental, spontaneous generation of life from nonlife. Here’s his conclusion from the scientific data: “The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions that had to be satisfied to get it going.” His argument for how it might happen? We just need huge periods of time, and then luck eventually wins. But as Professor Peet reminds us in his article ‘Truth in Science’, “There is no justification for believing that time can overcome basic chemical laws.” In 1981, Doctor Philip Yockey said it best: “You must conclude that no valid scientific explanation of life exists at present… Since science has not the vaguest idea how life originated on earth, it would be honest to admit this to students, the agencies funding research and the public.” But our high schools continue teaching our teenagers the Miller-Urey experiment.

Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at