By Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
This question was published in Dr. John's Q&A by John Morris in March 2002. Morris reports on a laboratory experiment in 1953, where a scientist re-created the early atmosphere of earth, with zero free oxygen, and was able to produce amino acids, the building blocks of life, from an electrical charge.
Morris attacks this with an argument based on free oxygen. He says that earth has always had free oxygen. Free oxygen is a problem to non-living organic molecules, as it destroys them. Therefore, too much free oxygen, and life's building blocks could never have formed. Morris thinks that because there is evidence for free oxygen throughout earth's history, that life could not have formed in this manner.
While it is true that the earth has always had free oxygen, the real question that matters is...how much? This is easy to measure. In the Archaen Eon, from 4.55 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, the level of free oxygen was less than 1 percent what it is today. It was enough to leave traces of its existence (which Morris uses for evidence), but not enough to prevent the formation of life. In fact, free oxygen levels did not reach their present day levels until 400 million years ago. (For more, see Free Oxygen.)
It is not a matter of there being no free oxygen...it is a matter of how much. Morris fails to address this point.
From an old earth creationist perspective, this argument has little impact anyway. Progressive creationists, and many theistic evolutionists, would believe that God created that first life form, therefore any discussion of how life has naturally formed is a moot point. There are some theistic evolutionists, however, that seek an all natural approach to evolution, saying that life formed on its own. These creationists have to figure out this issue.
Dr. John's Q&A #152, published on the web at http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=571
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