Why Evolution is True, one of the best-selling books in support of evolution written by Jerry Coyne and endorsed by Richard Dawkins, conveniently fails to address one minor evolutionary issue—the origin of life. Reason: the origin of life problem is undermining the evolution industry.
The Stanley-Miller origin of life model was once the most popular theory, starting with the publication of The Planets: Their Origin and Development in 1952. Written by Harold Urey, the book speculates that life originated in early Earth’s atmosphere composed of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen—a reducing atmosphere without oxygen.
Harold Urey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1934 for his work on isotopes. During World War II, Urey directed the Manhattan Project at Columbia University that lead to the development of the atomic bomb.
Urey’s model for the origin of life, however, was published without ever being tested. When challenged by his graduate student, Stanley Miller, they performed the now-famous Miller–Urey experiment.
After assembling a closed glass apparatus in Urey’s laboratory, Miller pumped out the air and replaced it with methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water, creating a reducing atmosphere—without oxygen—a gas composition resembling the atmosphere of Jupiter. “By the end of the week,” Miller reported the water “was deep red and turbid.”
Just as Urey had predicted, chemical analysis of the resulting tar solution revealed several organic compounds, including glycine and alanine, the two simplest amino acids found in proteins—the building blocks of life. With amino acids spontaneously arising in early Earth’s atmosphere, the ensuing amino acid chance interactions forming into proteins became recognized as the natural mechanism to explain for the origin of life.
Reference to the Miller–Urey experiment quickly found its way into almost every high school and college textbook starting in the mid-twentieth century as a natural explanation for the origin of life. According to Evolution 101, sponsored by the University of California, Berkley
These experiments serve as ‘proofs of concept’ for hypotheses about steps in the origin of life — in other words, if a particular chemical reaction happens in a modern lab under conditions similar to those on early Earth, the same reaction could have happened on early Earth and could have played a role in the origin of life. The 1953 Miller-Urey experiment, for example, simulated early Earth’s atmosphere with nothing more than water, hydrogen, ammonia, and methane and an electrical charge standing in for lightning, and produced complex organic compounds like amino acids.
Since 1953, however, extensive investigations have demonstrated that the Earth’s atmosphere was not composed of ammonia, methane, and hydrogen. Rather than the anticipated reducing atmosphere, the Earth’s atmosphere was the opposite—oxidizing, containing oxygen.
Evolution 101, acknowledging atmosphere problems with the Miller-Urey experiment, adds -
Now, scientists have learned more about the environmental and atmospheric conditions on early Earth and no longer think that the conditions used by Miller and Urey were quite right… These experiments yielded similar results – complex molecules could have formed in the conditions on early Earth.
While the formation of amino acids in the early atmosphere of the Earth is generally not considered a valid theory, what is the probability of complex molecules arising by chance?
Evolution 101 uses the word “could” to explain the potential development of complex molecules developing on Earth. The fundamental question, however, is beyond “could.” The question centers on the “probability” of complex protein molecules forming by chance alone from amino acids. Any event “could” happen, but not all events are “probable”.
Proteins consist of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Since amino acids have roughly a 50:50 chance of forming peptide bonds to another amino acid, the probability of 4 amino acids forming peptide bond together is ½ X ½ X ½ X ½ = 1/16, or (1/2)4.
Since a simple protein usually consists of a chain of 150 amino acids, then the probability of forming the chain is (1/2)150, or roughly 1 chance in 1045. That is the number 10 with 45 trailing zeros.
Given that each amino acid has a mirror image, there is one left-handed and right-handed version for each amino acid, the probability of forming one simple protein from 150 amino acids is 1 chance in 1090.
One of the most important functional aspects of a protein is the sequence of the amino acids. Since there are 20 biologically active amino acids, the probability of amino acids occurring in a functional is (1/20)150, or roughly 1 chance in 10195.
Another way to say that is the probability of finding a functional protein by chance alone is a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion times smaller than finding a specified particle among all the particles in the universe.
Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins discretely circumvent the origin of life issue since the event probability was not by chance. Meyer concludes,
For this reason, it would be vastly more probable than not that a protein functional would not have arisen by chance.
The evidence contradicts the central tenet of the theory of evolution—life by chance. Meyer’s logical conclusion concurs with Albert Einstein’s famous dictum:
God does not play dice with the universe.