The Instigator
dthmstr254
Con (against)
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22 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points

The validity of the Miller-Urey Theory

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/14/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,147 times Debate No: 1379
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (10)

 

dthmstr254

Con

Reading the debate Giuocob was involved in titled "Evolution is fact," I noticed that he cited the Miller-Urey experiment and referred to it as proven fact.

Actually, Miller used the wrong atmosphere model. The atmosphere model modern evolutionists say was around at the time of the development of the first cell was actually a mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water, methane, and sulfur dioxide. The current Biology textbooks (Mcgraw-Hill's "Life", or the same company's "Biology, 8th Ed") state that when this new model is used in the Miller-Urey experiment, "Biological compounds are created." The textbook provided no description of these compounds, so I went through the school (Santa Fe Community College, Florida) repository of journals and scientific publications and found out that these compounds were ACTUALLY a mixture of cyanide and formaldehyde, both of which, while biological in source and nature, are hazardous for any protein/carbon based lifeforms. Formaldehyde is so dangerous that if a lab were to have it, it would come with a whole different set of handling materials, from the beakers to the droppers, because formaldehyde destroys proteins.

Now, The Biology (8th Ed) I have states that electrical storms were commonplace moreso than now on the early earth, thus the Miller Urey experiment would be repeated hundreds or thousands of times in that atmosphere, meaning that formaldehyde and cyanide would be commonplace. Assuming that this cell were to form, then it would be quickly destroyed by the formaldehyde, which, being heavier than water, would make even the bottom of the ocean uninhabitable to cellular organisms.

With all that taken into account, before even considering the impossibillities of life coming from the amino acids in the Miller-Urey experiment, how can one consider it as even plausible in an argument that evolution is fact?
Tatarize

Pro

The Miller-Urey experiment is a proven fact. It proved that you could through naturalistic forces create organic compounds in prebiotic atmospheres. That's the point of the Miller-Urey experiment. A general assumption is that because the atmospheric content was wrong that it is therefore impossible and incorrect. Rather the same results are found in other atmospheric mixes and the atmospheric changes don't change the result (Chang et al. 1983; Miller 1987; Schlesinger and Miller 1983; Stribling and Miller 1987).

Further, there some evidence that early life formed in the oceans near hydrothermal vents. And thus the atmospheric conditions are fairly moot. The Miller-Urey experiment simply showed how easy organic molecules form naturally in a prebiotic environment.

Your counter argument to this is that hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde synthesis are formed. This is probably from Stribling and Miller 1987:
http://www.springerlink.com...

You are simply taking the idea that it made evil poison cyanide and formaldehyde as proof that it would kill all the life created and therefore could never happen! CATEGORICALLY NO!

You are taking the idea that cyanide and formaldehyde is proof there's no pudding... rather cyanide and formaldehyde ARE THE PUDDING!

Hydrogen cyanide has been discussed as a precursor to amino acids and nucleic acids. It is possible, for example, that HCN played a part in the origin of life. Leslie Orgel, among many researchers, has written extensively on the condensation of HCN. Although the relationship of these chemical reactions to the origin of life remains speculative, studies in this area have led to discoveries of new pathways to organic compounds derived from condensation of HCN
-- http://en.wikipedia.org...

Formaldehyde is a central building-block in the synthesis of many other compounds. It exhibits most of the chemical properties of other aldehydes but is more reactive. Formaldehyde is a good electrophile, participating in electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions with aromatic compounds, and can undergo electrophilic addition reactions with alkenes. In the presence of basic catalysts, formaldehyde undergoes a Cannizaro reaction to produce formic acid and methanol.
-- http://en.wikipedia.org...

Just because a chemical kills us, massive multi-cellular organisms with well established processes does not mean it 'kills' small organic molecules. IT BUILDS THOSE MOLECULES! "Hazardous for any protein/carbon based lifeforms" is a far cry from hazardous to very basic simple amino acids and organic chemical prelife. You know what chemical would have actually been quite deadly to these early prelife molecules? Oxygen!

As for Formaldehyde being the worst poison ever. We use to have people sticking their arms in it all the time. It's not that dangerous. The problem is that it's a major carcinogen and thus lab safety protocols are such that you are required by law to minimize exposure.

So let's reanalyze your claims under this new found light of a good understanding of organic chemistry:
-- "Urey experiment would be repeated hundreds or thousands of times in that atmosphere, meaning that formaldehyde and cyanide would be commonplace."
- Good! More building blocks for life.

--Assuming that this cell were to form,
- Cell? HAHAHAHA! Give that a few million years at least. Before the organic chemicals build up a cell membrane.

--then it would be quickly destroyed by the formaldehyde,
- And you know why cells have membranes? To protect them from things which would kill them. A cell membrane could very well evolve due to selection against other chemicals wanting to react with this slightly complex early molecule.

--which, being heavier than water, would make even the bottom of the ocean uninhabitable to cellular organisms.
- Cellular organisms... slow down man. We have several billion years to get there. You want cells already? We'd maybe get some basic replicating RNA after a couple million years. And giving lots of building blocks to deep sea vents is very helpful as far as abiogenesis goes.

So, in the end your argument is that life couldn't form because there are massive supplies of building blocks near the deep sea vents where life could very well have started? And that with this abundance of organic building blocks, life is less likely to begin? And all of this is suppose to cause us to rise up in objection to the verifiable fact that a guy in 1953 proved that organic molecules could arise naturally in prebiotic environments?

The Miller-Urey experiments did prove that you could, from inorganic prebiotics, naturally have organic molecules form. Later experiments showed that this finding holds for a wide range of atmospheres. -- The Miller-Urey Theory is valid.
Debate Round No. 1
dthmstr254

Con

Starting with the formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a building block of only ONE biologically beneficial compound, that being embalming fluid. Also, cyanide is a building block for right handed amino acids, not the left handed amino acids that basic proteins are made from. If even a single right handed amino acid comes into play with the forming protein chain, it acts like a bowling ball to pins. That is why it is still a deadly compound.

Also, it proves that amino acids could form in an atmosphere that, according to the same evolutionists, probably was never there to begin with. Even then, with amino acids there, the fact remains that the Miller-Urey theory was flawed in that the chances against them forming into anything other than their predecessors are so long that even if you took all the carbon in the universe and placed it on the surface of the earth, the chances are similar to the chances that a blind man will find not 1 or 2, but 5 marked pieces of sand in the Sahara Desert without getting touched by another piece of sand. How does one overcome those chances with randomness?

As for prelife, the thing that is hazardous for that is simply any molecule with the potential to react with the molecules and atoms in there. Therefore, water, sand, or anything else would have been able to react with it.

as to the million years, we have NO evidence that it is even possible for that membrane to form. Heck, you haven't even explained how 70+ left amino acids come together in the right times, places, and order to form even one protein of the membrane. Then you have to describe how RNA or DNA (take your pick) could form without the protection provided by a nucleus, as any number of molecules react with DNA, which is why it has to have the nucleus, since the cytoplasm in the cell can have hazardous effects on the DNA, especially anything with hydrogen, as acids, by definition, steal hydrogens.

In order to evolve, one has to produce generations. Cell membranes don't reproduce. They are just protein-formed walls with the occasional tube protein that allows transfer of certain needed materials. There isn't a protein designed to counter formaldehyde, at least not that they teach you about in cellular biology. Such an important part of a cell would be most important to learn. In fact, natural selection would have made that a main component of cellular structure, and it would have stayed on.

You seem to be slowing the process down beyond the age the universe is claimed to be based on background radiation. You have RNA before you even have a membrane, even though RNA isn't even an amino acid-based compound, which makes it's formation null and void in this debate. We are talking about the amino acids and their part.

A. Miller-Urey theory was good for then, when we didn't know what we now know. However, we now "know" what the probable atmosphere was, and know that the experiment is now null and void as proteins are not formed, and in fact, the formaldehyde would work on things other than building amino acids, since the other parts of amino acids are not shown in there anywhere.

B. The problem is, the massive numbers of atmospheres they have tested and succeeded on are not the one currently at the forefront. In fact, the test ran on the forefront created the formaldehyde and cyanide, along with water and other non-biotic molecules, but none of the prebiotic molecules needed for amino acid production. It's like putting a builder out there without a hammer or any other tools. HE isn't going to be building a house anytime soon.
Tatarize

Pro

I am here to debate the validity of the Miller-Urey experiments not to explain every step of the abiogenesis, many of which are unclear as of yet. The Miller-Urey experiment showed the clear and unambiguous result that, at the very least, organic molecules could arise from non-organic molecules.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

"The experiment used water (H2O), methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen (H2). The chemicals were all sealed inside a sterile array of glass tubes and flasks connected together in a loop, with one flask half-full of liquid water and another flask containing a pair of electrodes. The liquid water was heated to induce evaporation, sparks were fired between the electrodes to simulate lightning through the atmosphere and water vapor, and then the atmosphere was cooled again so that the water could condense and trickle back into the first flask in a continuous cycle."

"At the end of one week of continuous operation Miller and Urey observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon within the system was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed amino acids, including 13 of the 22 that are used to make proteins in living cells, with glycine as the most abundant. Sugars, lipids, and some of the building blocks for nucleic acids were also formed. Nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) themselves were not formed. As observed in all consequent experiments, both left-handed (L) and right-handed (D) optical isomers were created in a racemic mixture. The experiment also produced a substance which, to most life, would be a "toxic carcinogenic"[4] substance. However, these compounds, which include formaldehyde and cyanide are "necessary building blocks for important biochemical compounds, including Amino Acids". "

The experiment showed that organic molecules are easily produced through naturalistic forces. The fact that you can produce organic from the inorganic speaks volumes to the question of how and if life can arise from nonlife.

This is all I am required to prove. It is valid. Your objection on the grounds that it produced a number of building blocks to life that we today in this environment react negatively to doesn't negate the fact that they are fantastic elements for building more complex molecules. The Miller-Urey experiments showed this is easily done, changing the atmospheric composition doesn't change the results: Organic molecules are produced from non-organic.

In case people reading this found anything my opponent said mildly convincing, I'll go to the effort to rebut his claims. Keep in mind though, I am to show that the Miller-Urey conclusions were valid. And thus far his objections have been, rather naive.

- Formaldehyde is used as in the embalming process as a cavity fluid. However to state that that is it's only use is an argument from ignorance. Even outside of abiogenesis we use formaldehyde as a building block for paints, plastics, explosives, etc. It's extremely useful. Build more complex organic compounds is one of its many uses.

- Cyanide has no bias for chirality. Further, the Miller-Urey experiments produced both right-handed and left-handed amino acids. Even if the right-handed statement were true, it would not negate the experiment (nobody said it needed to be used, just that it was produced). Cyanide is still not deadly to organic molecules.

- Cyanide kills almost instantly. It causes a chemical reaction with mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase causing your cells to be unable to absorb oxygen. You turn red, breathe fast, and end up dead on the floor. Organic molecules don't have aerobic respiration, nor will anything lifeform for a billion years (considering when we're talking about).

- The Miller-Urey experiments produced organic from inorganic. Later studies show that this same experiment on corrected atmospheres DOES THE SAME THING!

- Nobody is arguing that Miller-Urey will produce complex organic molecules prior to producing "their predecessors". If anything Miller-Urey shows that you shouldn't assume so much. Your odds calculations are flawed for a number of reasons the chief of which is "the desert" is basically ten or so different types of sand, the grains don't have to be found, and they stick together. The analogy to sand being assembled and needing exactly specific elements is bizarre to say the least. How different is one carbon from another?

- It is beyond the topic to discuss how membranes form. As such, I'll just refer readers and my opponent to a pretty basic explanation:

- DNA and RNA are perfectly safe without nuclei, in viruses and bacteria. There are no nuclei until the eukaryotes (means true nucleus).

- Cell membranes still don't reproduce. If you hold that membranes can't be reproduced then you must hold some odd biology for ourselves and every organism with cells.

- The age of the universe is calculated not simply by calculations and observations (in agreement) for the CMBR but by a number of different independent lines of evidence. And seeing as it took a week for the Miller-Urey experiment and it had a couple billion years, I'm not exactly pressed for time.

- We changed what the atmosphere should have been and still produced massive amounts of organic compounds. The idea that, because our knowledge of what the early atmosphere should involve, was wrong the experiment with the wrong stuff AND the one with the RIGHT stuff should be negated is absurd.

- The proper mix does create the building blocks of amino acids. In fact, IT CREATES AMINO ACIDS! Left handed, right handed... whatever you want.

Your argument is simply an argument from ignorance. I don't know how this could happen so it must be impossible! That is wrong. We have good reasons to suspect how it happened. We have no reason to doubt the results. And the Miller-Urey experiment was actually done. It's one thing to say that there's no such thing as amino acids forming from inorganic compounds, it's another thing to say that they didn't when talking about an experiment in which they demonstrably did. We aren't talking about what may or may not be theoretically possible, we are talking about what was experimentally produced.
Debate Round No. 2
dthmstr254

Con

If your argument is that organic molecules is all that is required for the Miller-Urey experiment to be valid, then you are doing great. However, since the same things were not created in the corrected atmospheres, it is still invalid. The only organic compound that could be made from the corrected atmospheres is embalming fluid, which is a mix of cyanide and formaldehyde, as well as some other inert chemicals. embalming fluid is not enough to prove its validity. It is what would be the most prevalent secondary mixture in there, but it is a far cry from the possibility of life or even prelife.

Also, the validity of the miller-urey theory rests on the possibility of life forming from it. The possibility of it occurring is similar to the chances of a tornado rolling through a junkyard and randomly putting together a fully functional Boeing 747 fully equipped with a black box. It just doesn't happen.
Tatarize

Pro

Yes. I am to show that organic molecules can come from non-organic molecules. The Miller-Urey experiment produced exactly this. The first stepping stone between the inorganic and the organic is not a stretch, in fact it took about a week. Further there's about two billion years after this before complex life started to come about. Jumping to the conclusion that nothing could happen because you can't think of a way to do it is wrong.

Clearly complex lifeforms exist so it seems pretty obvious that it does work. As for the Miller-Urey experiments they provided a first step and showed quite definitively that you can make steps in that direction.

The same things are created in the correct atmospheres. It's a lie to say they aren't. Chang et al. 1983; Miller 1987; Schlesinger and Miller 1983; Stribling and Miller 1987: showed the wide range of atmospheres produce amino acids. Schlesinger and Miller 1983 had the closest to the correct composition and categorically did produce amino acids. Though, we aren't saying that this is exactly how it happened, we don't really know. A lot of the science is up in the air, but one thing which is not is the Miller-Urey experiments. Perhaps early life originated in deep sea vents and the Miler-Urey experiments are a moot point. They would be a valid and moot point, in that organic molecules form under a wide variety of conditions.

The correct atmospheres and the ones used in the early Miller-Urey experiments both produced cyanide and formaldehyde. These are rather pivotal building blocks for amino acids and larger organic compounds.

Embalming fluid doesn't contain cyanide. Cyanide does not bias chirality. The correct atmospheres produced the same result. Resorting to outright lies is a little bit, oh, I don't know... dishonest.

You suggest that the validity of the Miller-Urey experiments rests on the possibility of life forming from it. But that wasn't the goal of Miller-Urey, they wanted to see what would happen. Their result speaks for itself. Early Earth atmosphere would easily have produced complex organic molecules. That's why they are valid that is what they did.

As for the possibility of life forming on par with anything, this argument is far from the topic at hand, I recommend reading "The Argument from Biogenesis: Probabilities against a Natural Origin of Life," Biology & Philosophy 19.5 (November, 2004), pp. 739-64 by Richard Carrier.

In Addendum B, Carrier adds a special note underlying all the mistakes for calculations that odds life could start: http://www.infidels.org...

There is still the same, single, fundamental problem with all these statistical calculations, one that I mention in my review of Foster: no one knows what the first life was. People like Morowitz can try to calculate what is, at a minimum, possible, and laboratory experiments, like that which discovered the powers of tetrahymena (see Addenda C), can approach a guess, but these guesses still do not count as knowledge, and it is not sound to claim that simply because we don't know what it was, therefore we can't assume there was such a simple life form. And even if we accept such an argument, to go from there to "god" is essentially a god-of-the-gaps argument. When we did not know how the bumble-bee flew, was that an adequate ground for positing god as the answer, or was it instead cause for further scientific investigation aimed at finding out the natural explanation? All of science is the result of choosing the latter approach. Once there was a time when nothing was explained. Since then, everything which has been explained has been found to have a natural, not a divine, explanation. Although this does not prove that all future explanations will be of like kind, it shows that it is not at all unreasonable to expect this--and it is not a very reliable bet to expect the opposite.

Theories which make the origin of life plausible are hypotheses like any others, awaiting future research--in fact, generating that research. On the other hand, in the words of Frank Salisbury, "Special creation or a directed evolution would solve the problem of the complexity of the gene, but such an idea has little scientific value in the sense of suggesting experiments." And the experiments suggested by Salisbury and his colleagues led, in fact, to a simplification of the very problem that vexed Salisbury in 1969. Science, once again, gets somewhere. Creationism gets us nowhere. Coppedge suspected in his day "many evolutionists have avoided such investigations [into the odds against life forming] because they intuitively recognize that it will threaten evolutionary doctrine" (p. 234). Yet scientists hardly avoided the matter at all. Quite to the contrary, while creationists engaged in no actual research for twenty-five years and contributed nothing to our understanding of biology, scientists chewed away at the very problems Salisbury and Coppedge discussed, and solved a great many of them (see Stuart Kauffman, The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, 1993). That none of them thought to make arbitrary and groundless guesses for the purpose of calculating a useless statistic is a testament to their wisdom, just as it is a testament to the ignorance of those, like Coppedge, who actually do this. We only need consider which has added to our knowledge to see who is making better use of their time.

-- We accept the validity of Miller-Urey not because it provides all the answers to all the questions. We aren't sure what it takes but the research is getting done. Miller-Urey was part of that research and filled in that first step. Somehow in a period of a 1,200,000,000 years life seems to have arisen from non-life and accordingly we exist here.

The Miller-Urey Theory is valid.

--------------

P.S.

Flailing your arms meaninglessly and argue that we can't logically exist is a waste of time. Saying that because we don't have all the answers, there are no answers is one of the most negative and useless positions people can have. I don't think you doubt the validity of Miller-Urey, I think you feel duty-bound to cast unneeded doubts on scientific answers to the question of "how we got here". I think that you do this to preserve the answer of "God did it" from the march of science. If reality disagrees with the views you hold, dear man, don't attempt to change reality.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Kleptin 5 years ago
Kleptin
Fixed. I'm also using this as reference material
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
By the by, where in the world is your evidence that would exclude supernatural causes? Or did you bring in the confetti and victory banner as well when you came to the party?
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
You officially just shot any credibility you had into the deepest, darkest cave you could find.

Obvioucly, you have no way of proving that last comment, unless you found a way to test for the supernatural. You are officially not a scientist, but a radical atheist. You want to downgrade that further, say it again. I'll start referring to you in the same way House does.
Posted by Tatarize 6 years ago
Tatarize
It does say formaldehyde is important and very useful in every organic chemistry text book around.

Further, even if you come around and find just some confetti on the floor and a banner saying victory you might be able to assume a game existed or something one could be victorious in existed.

Naturalistic explanations are the only explanations there are. If you can say otherwise, step up for your Nobel prize.
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
PS: if you arrived at a party long after it started, and didn't know about the victory, and one were Deaf without interpreter or anyone who knew ASL, then how would that person know that it was a victory party?

The point is we were not here for the beginning of life, and therefore all assumptions are thrown out the window. You can't just ASSUME that life arose naturally without the ability to detect and rule out the possibility of supernatural causes.

I assume you don't have those kinds of tests, so I would assume that you are making a faulty assumption. Therefore, unless you know someone who is 500 billion years old or some stupid number, then you should not guess.
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
"still, you need a naturalistic explanation"?!?

Since when did the scientific method say ANYTHING about naturalistic ANYTHING. Since when did science outright declare support of ANY philosophy. The only thing that belongs in science is logic and adherence to its rules, which picks NO favorites among philosophy.

Besides, have you physically witnessed life coming from non-life? If Formaldehyde is that important, then why don't they just say that in college or even master's level textbooks? If I have to choose who to trust, I would rather trust someone who tells what was made than someone who hides behind the shield of "organic molecules."
Posted by Tatarize 6 years ago
Tatarize
To go from very simple chemicals becoming more and more advanced as time progresses to simple and then complex lifeforms isn't a stretched based on the clear evidence that it happened. We have, as far as has been uncovered a progression of life from the simple to the complex.

To say that there exists some path from the very simple to the slightly less simple even though I don't know what it is, admittedly an argument from ignorance. Though, it's less of an argument from ignorance than your assumption that God did it. Basically you're saying it's impossible because you don't see how it works. I'm saying it's possible because it happened and we have a marked progression from the simple to the complex overtime. At some point you need a naturalistic explanation for creation of complex lifeforms, suggesting something more complex doesn't cut it.

The general anthropic suggestion that life-formed because we have life in existence today isn't a problem. Nor is it that problematic to suggest because we only have good naturalistic suggestions as the only ways life could form that life probably formed in those or similar ways.

I have remarkably good evidence to assume that life arose in a naturalistic fashion. If life arose in a naturalistic fashion, then it is *possible* that life arose in a naturalistic fashion.

If you are clearly throwing a victory party after a big game, and I notice this... regardless if I don't know what game you were playing I can assume that the game can be won. The alternate assumption that some rich person is paying all of you to throw a victory party and pretend as though you played a game is less acceptable.
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
so your argument is now "there are obviously complex life forms now, so it must have worked"?!? That is beyond shortsighted. You say that Christians are shortsighted, but you say that? Ok, my argument is the following:

There are obviously complex lifeforms now, so God must then have created them.

How pathetically unscientific.
Posted by giuocob 6 years ago
giuocob
Actually, I'm going to reject this debate. I looked around, and I don't have an answer. I can refute the cyanide point, but formaldehyde is much tougher. I will continue trying to find the answer, and if I do, I will rechallenge you to the debate. See you later, then.
Posted by dthmstr254 6 years ago
dthmstr254
no problem. I have fun debating this one because it can yield hilarious results
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