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Miller's experiments had invalid assumption of type of atmosphere (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Miller's experiments had invalid assumption of type of atmosphere (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CB035:

In Miller's experiment demonstrating the formation of complex organics from simple compounds, the atmospheric composition used was a reducing atmosphere, with no free oxygen. The early earth probably had a more oxidizing atmosphere.

Source: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, pp. 40-41.

CreationWiki response:

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Since his first experiment, Miller and others have experimented with other atmospheric compositions, too. Complex organic molecules form under a wide range of prebiotic conditions.

Fine, but complex organic molecules still will not form in an oxidizing atmosphere. We know that the Earth currently has an oxidizing atmosphere, however no evidence is given that the Earth ever had a reducing or any other type of atmosphere.

2. It is possible that life arose well away from the atmosphere -- for example, around deep-sea hydrothermal vents. This could make the atmospheric content largely irrelevant

First of all, these geothermal vents are known to be as hot as 380 degrees Celsius. However, even if amino acids and nucleotides formed at such high temperature they would not last long. While life does exist near these vents, their organic compounds are maintained by the internal machinery of the living cell. However, raw amino acids and nucleotides would not stand a chance.

The early atmosphere, even if it was oxidizing, was nowhere near as oxidizing as it is today.

This statement ignores the abundant presence of oxygen in the most ancient rocks.

It was likely high in hydrogen, which facilitates the formation of organic molecules (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/308/5724/1014 Tian et al. 2005).

Talk Origins’ cited source only shows that it is theoretically possible for the earth to have had an atmosphere high in hydrogen in the past. It shows no evidence that it did.

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