One of the arguments evolutionists regularly use to defend their position is that they have produced what they call “life in a test tube”. If this is true, they argue, it would go a long way to removing any need for a Designer and allow for the potential of a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. This article will examine the veracity of these claims as well as the potential impact on the origins debate should they be true.
The debate over life in a test tube began the same years DNA was discovered in 1953. The man who sparked the debate was a graduate student at the University of Chicago named Stanley Miller. Miller built a special apparatus to attempt to mimic conditions he believed were found on primordial earth. He believed, like many other evolutionists, that earth was a frothing soup of chemicals, largely hydrogen, methane, ammonia, among others. Miller mixed several of these chemicals in gaseous form in his apparatus. Those gases were then passed through ultraviolet light to catalyze a chemical reaction. Because, like other evolutionists, Miller believed that there was minimal to no oxygen on earth at the time he was testing, he assumed that large amounts of UV light would have made earths surface due to lack of an ozone layer. The UV light zapped the gases, causing the formation of solid products. A special trap caught these solids before the leftover gases were passed back through the chamber. After running this experiment for a week, Miller came back and looked at the solid products. He found that several amino acids had been formed from the process. Since amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which are the building blocks of life, accounts of the experiment proclaimed that life in a test tube had been created. Other experiments have been done since then in an attempt to build upon this idea. However, progress beyond mere amino acids has been elusive.
Miller’s experiment has numerous problems with it. The first problem is that it assumes the content of earths atmosphere. There is no evidence that earths atmosphere ever was largely hydrogen based, as Miller assumed. Further, by eliminating oxygen from the process, Miller essentially ensured that his project would succeed. This is because when oxygen comes in contact with organic compounds, it tends to break them down through a process called oxidation. This process meant that Miller had to exclude all oxygen from the test or risk losing his products. The process itself is the third issue. Because Miller used a trap to strain out his solid products, they were prevented from passing back through the apparatus. This meant they were not subjected to the UV light twice, thus preventing the UV light from ripping them apart. This is a big deal because evolutionists postulate streams of UV light pouring onto primordial earth because of a lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. Thus, even had these products formed naturally in a primordial soup on early earth, they would have immediately been destroyed by another UV light wavelength. The final problem with these experiments is the products themselves. Miller’s experiment produced both left handed and right handed amino acids. Any time the experiment has been imitated, both left handed and right handed amino acids are produced in equal quantities. Natural life only uses left-handed amino acids. If they both form at the same place, at the same time, they simply bond together and form an inert mixture. Thus Miller created a useless chemical mixture that only survived due to his experimental design. Life has never been created in a test tube.
Despite life having never arisen, naturally or otherwise in a test tube, evolutionists insist that it is possible. However, until this is proved, it is subject to conjecture. Even supposing evolutionists succeed in creating viable organic molecules in a test tube, all that would prove is that it takes intelligence to create the ingredients for life. Should they be able to demonstrate that these organic molecules can form basic life structures such as proteins, sugars, DNA and RNA strands or lipids, then they might be able to make a case or at least part of one. However, this is unproven as yet and likely will remain so. Evolutionists have no answer for the origin of the building blocks of life, let alone the origin of life itself. Until such time as they develop an answer to that question, they can hardly expect their theory to be taken as a serious explanation for the origin of life.