(Selections from Timothy R. Stout, "The Testimony of Soap Scum," published in Creation Matters, a publication of Creation Research Society, Volume 17, Number 3, May/June 2012, to appear at http://www.creationresearch.org/creation_matters/pdf/2012/CM17%2003%20for%20web.pdf)
(To receive new uMarko posts via a daily email, please click Subscribe)
David Deamer is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is one of the world’s foremost research scientists studying abiogenesis, or how biological life could arise from inorganic matter through natural processes.
In 2006, Deamer decided to go beyond Stanley Miller's famous experiment. In 1953 Miller mixed water vapor, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen in a spark chamber, and actually ended up producing a unusable types of amino acids, tar, fatal molecules, too much hydrogen, and a 50/50 mix of both the useless right-handed amino acids and their left-handed counterparts (see "Primordial Soup" - Actually a Most Toxic Brew)
Deamer thought he would improve upon Miller's results, by starting with with an idealized source of chemicals of his own choosing, at the ratios with each other he believed would be most conducive to achieving positive results, and at concentrations that he hoped might produce reportable results. If any scenario should demonstrate realistic progress towards abiogenesis, it seems that this would be it.
|Boiling pools investigated in |
(a) Kamchatka and (b) Mt Lassen sites.
Note the depression at the lower edge
of the Kamchatka pool that indicates
one of the clay sampling sites.
Scale bar, 25cm.
Deamer's research team was surprised at the results:
A white scum appeared in the Kamchatka pool within minutes of adding the organic mixture. The precipitate is probably a mixed iron and aluminum soap, which would remove the fatty acid as a potential reactant.Deamer is one of the foremost biochemists in the world. Yet, he was still unprepared for how much harsher a natural environment is than a laboratory setting. He effectively acknowledged that there can be all kinds of unexpected glitches that would be capable of thwarting abiogenesis in a natural setting.
The phosphate and added amino acids were below detectable limits in minutes to hours.
The observation that organic compounds were below detection limits so rapidly was surprising.
The origin of life in a natural setting would have had a variety of possible fates other than those observed in a laboratory setting, where pure compounds react in glass containers.
Naturally occurring roadblocks have so far thwarted every effort to provide a clear, successful demonstration of an advance in abiogenesis at any stage. This is true even with all of the advantages
of a “laboratory setting, where pure compounds react in glass containers.” How much more in the wild, where Deamer demonstrated even worse results.
Deamer had yet another unexpected result. Many articles have been written proposing clay surfaces as a means of concentrating monomers such as amino acids and nucleotides in order to promote their concatenation into proteins and nucleic acids. The clay served to isolate the molecules attached to it, not force them together. This is not what was supposed to happen!
It is rather humorous that Deamer named his article, “Self-assembly processes in the prebiotic environment.” The only thing assembled in this experiment was soap scum. This does not bode well for those who are staking their eternal destiny on the validity of abiogenesis. Indeed, God gives clear testimony of Himself by His creation. This testimony is so clear that He considers a person who does not receive it to be without excuse.
Deamer, D., S. Singaram, S. Rajamani, V. Kompanichenko, and S. Guggenheim. 2006. Self-assembly processes in the prebiotic environment. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 361:1809–1818.