Skeptic Magazine Unskeptical about Miller-Urey Experiment

Skeptic Magazine shows no skepticism towards the Miller-Urey experiment, instead claiming the experiment simulated the early earth’s atmosphere. Recently I went to a local bookstore and found myself perusing the latest issue of Skeptic Magazine, “A Perspective on the Nature and Origin of Life.” The cover story was on the origin of life, and written by chemical engineer Paul F. Deisler Jr. (Vol. 16, No. 2). While the article admits that “[c]urrent scientific detection technology and exploration have not yet found traces within the transition period to show how non-life became life,” it nonetheless puffs the weak evidence for the origin of life. In particular, it promotes the Miller-Urey experiment without any mention of the fact that there are severe Read More ›

Ouch. Intelligent Design Guys Put the Sleeperhold on Darwin’s Defenders

The great debate over the adequacy of evolution continues. Sort of. The latest head to head meeting had Dr. Stephen Meyer and Dr. Richard Sternberg debating Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Donald Prothero. Heading into the debate I was quite excited; these aren’t lightweights, after all. The defenders of evolution are well known in science circles and to followers of the overall debate. Indeed, we’ve blogged a fair amount on Dr. Prothero who has, shall we say, a colorful and cavalier way with the facts. He is known more for polemical bromides and spurious personal attacks than for any serious science. Waiting for the event to start, I was wondering if Prothero would be better behaved in person than he Read More ›

Scientists Say Intelligent Designer Needed for Origin of Life Chemistry

In a recent ENV post, Stephen Meyer critiqued a May 2009 Nature paper co-authored by John D. Sutherland titled, “Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions.” The paper claimed to have produced RNA nucleobases under prebiotic conditions, but Meyer observed that it utterly failed to address the most crucial question in the origin of life (OOL): the origin of information, a topic Meyer addresses extensively in his new book Signature in the Cell. Other scientists agree with Meyer. Organic chemist Dr. Charles Garner recently noted in private correspondence that “while this work helps one imagine how RNA might form, it does nothing to address the information content of RNA. So, yes, there was a lot of guidance by Read More ›

Origin of Life Researchers: Intelligent Design of Self-Replicating RNA Molecules Refutes Intelligent Design

A recent Nature news article remarks about the production of the first self-replicating RNA molecules capable of catalyzing their own replication. Origin of life researchers are excited about this because they think it shows one possible step in their story about how life might have arisen via natural processes, without intelligent design (ID). One big problem with their story: under no uncertain terms did natural processes produce this molecule. One line from the Nature article says it all: “Joyce and his colleague Tracey Lincoln made paired RNA catalysts.” (emphasis added) One pro-ID chemist explained to me privately the precise design parameters that were required to produce the self-replicating enzymes and to use it to produce life: The system is completely Read More ›

Origin of Life Theorists Perpetuate the Implausible Miller-Urey Experiment

A ScienceNOW news release from last Thursday, October 16, states that re-analyses of the products of Stanley Miller and Harold Urey’s famous origin of life experiments from the 1950s have shown that more amino acids were present than were previously thought. Origin of life theorist Robert Hazen is quoted saying the study “highlights how easy it is to make the building blocks of life in plausible prebiotic conditions.” But did the experiments use “plausible prebiotic conditions”? The news release acknowledges that ammonia and methane were “gases presumed at the time to be the main constituents of the atmosphere billions of years ago.” (emphasis added) Even Miller himself admitted that he ASSUMED these atmospheres because they produced the desired result for Read More ›