As promised, here are quotes from a 1960 Nature article by a physical chemist named D.E. Hull. I have eliminated chemical calculations for clarity.
Hull pointed out that any glycine (the simplest of life's amino acids) formed in the early Earth atmosphere, as per the then prevailing Oparin-Haldane primordial soup origin of life theory (and still popular-it is what that "icon of evolution" the Miller-Urey experiment was supposedly simulating) would be decomposed by the very ultraviolet light that created it in the first place from atmospheric gases, such that "97 per cent of the glycine would be decomposed before it could reach the surface" (my emphasis):
"IN the current enthusiasm to put forward theories that provide a milieu rich in organic compounds for the spontaneous generation of life, little attention has been given to the quantitative aspect of the problem. One might estimate the rates of reactions producing such compounds. ... it is possible that, in an energy-rich medium, steady-rate concentrations can be maintained far from equilibrium. In such case the expected concentrations depend on the available mechanisms for synthesis and decomposition. Ultraviolet light is the most important source of energy to consider, being hundreds to thousands of times more abundant than electrical discharges or ionizing radiation. The atmosphere postulated is transparent to ultra-violet .... A glycine molecule formed in such an atmosphere is immediately vulnerable to radiation ... Thus, any glycine formed would be rapidly decomposed. Its absorption coefficient ...and the intensity of ultra-violet ... give it a half-life of about 30 days. This is much shorter than the half-time of transport from the stratosphere to the surface, now estimated from fall-out data as three years. Thus, 97 per cent of the glycine would be decomposed before it could reach the surface." (Hull, D.E., "Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Spontaneous Generation," Nature, Vol. 186, May 28, 1960, pp.693-694, pp.693-694).
Hull continues following the 3% of the originally synthesised glycine into the ocean, where still "decomposition by ultra-violet radiation" would continue to dilute its concentration, such that "These short lives for decomposition in the atmosphere or ocean clearly preclude the possibility of accumulating useful concentrations of organic compounds over eons of time" (my emphasis):
"Miller and Urey hope to save the synthesized products by removing them from the reaction zone in the atmosphere to the ocean. But even after the glycine reaches the ocean, the victory is not won. ... the important effect, however, is not thermal, but decomposition by ultra-violet radiation. The ultra-violet reaching the surface would penetrate to a considerable depth. .. about 100 metres deep, glycine would have a half-life to ultra-violet destruction of about twenty years. Even assuming it to be mixed to the bottom of the ocean, with an average depth of 4 km., the half-life is only 1,000 years. These short lives for decomposition in the atmosphere or ocean clearly preclude the possibility of accumulating useful concentrations of organic compounds over eons of time." (Hull, Ibid., p.694).
Hull points out that "The limiting concentrations" are "from the steady state between production and decomposition"and "from a mixture of methane, ammonia and water vapour ... even the highest admissible value seems hopelessly low as starting material for the spontaneous generation of life:
"The limiting concentrations to be hoped for can be estimated from the steady state between production and decomposition. The rate of formation of glycine by ultra-violet irradiation... from a mixture of methane, ammonia and water vapour may be estimated ... even the highest admissible value seems hopelessly low as starting material for the spontaneous generation of life. Consideration of other sources of energy, although they are very much weaker than the ultra-violet radiation, leads to similar conclusions. Thus, ionizing radiation may form complex products from simple reactants, but the more complex and highly organized compounds are more vulnerable to the same agent than their simple precursors." (Hull, Ibid., p.694).
Note above that the reason Hull picked on glycine was because it would be even worse for the more complex amino acids, i.e. "the more complex and highly organized compounds are more vulnerable to the same agent [that produced them] than their simple precursors."
Hull then concluded that this "presents the most serious obstacle, if indeed it is not fatal, to the theory of spontaneous generation" because: 1) not only would the original synthesis produce "vanishingly small concentrations of even the simplest organic compounds"; but also: 2) "the reactions that are invoked to synthesize such compounds are seen to be much more effective in decomposing them" (my emphasis):
"The conclusion from these arguments presents the most serious obstacle, if indeed it is not fatal, to the theory of spontaneous generation. First, thermodynamic calculations predict vanishingly small concentrations of even the simplest organic compounds. Secondly, the reactions that are invoked to synthesize such compounds are seen to be much more effective in decomposing them. Further, it must be remembered that both lines of argument become quantitatively of an overwhelmingly greater magnitude when organic compounds other than the very simplest are considered. .... The values for the simplest proteins must be unimaginably small. Also, in agreement with the thermodynamic prediction, the kinetic steady-state concentration falls rapidly with increasing complexity of organic compounds, because (1) the quantum yield for their formation decreases ; (2) at the same time their stability against thermal decomposition decreases ; and (3) their opacity to ultra-violet radiation and decomposition by this means increases. The physical chemist, guided by the proved principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, cannot offer any encouragement to the biochemist, who needs an ocean full of organic compounds to form even lifeless coacervates. These estimates are not in conflict with the experimental results of Miller and others who have synthesized organic compounds with electrical discharges or ultra-violet light in the laboratory. They have merely used the well-known principle of increasing the yield of a reaction by selectively removing the product from the reacting mixture. But the fact that a chemist can carry out an organic synthesis in the laboratory does not prove that the same synthesis will occur in the atmosphere or open sea without the chemist." (Hull, Ibid., p.694).
So the Oparin-Haldane oceanic primordial soup theory, which the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment was simulating, was effectively falsified a year later in 1954, despite it remaining as the basic paradigm for the origin of life in many, if not most, biology textbooks down to this very day!
That the oceanic soup theory was falsified was conceded by J.D. Bernal, in the very next article, in which he admitted, "the original concept of the primitive soup must be rejected only in so far as it applies to oceans or large volumes of water, and interest must be transferred to reactions in more limited zones" (my emphasis):
"Even if we accept that small organic molecules; a fortiori larger organic molecules, are likely to exist in an atmosphere and open ocean only in very small equilibrium concentrations, it does not necessarily follow that the way of photosynthesis for the origin of even more complex compounds, or of life itself, is effectively barred. The fact that Miller and others have produced such compounds by radiation is, as Dr. Hull quite rightly points out, because these products are selectively removed from their zone of formation. It would seem to follow that if complex organic molecules were ever produced on a lifeless Earth, something similar must have occurred there. There must have been a process which. removed a certain proportion of these molecules from their zone of reaction. Further, the same or another process must have concentrated them to the extent where they could enter into still more complex reactions. Such reactions did not necessarily require further energy sources to promote them. In other words, the original concept of the primitive soup must be rejected only in so far as it applies to oceans or large volumes of water, and interest must be transferred to reactions in more limited zones." (Bernal, J. D., "Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Spontaneous Generation," Nature, Vol. 186, May 28, 1960, pp.694-695, p.694).
But the problem remains even more for "reactions in more limited zones" (like lakes and pools) in that, even if: 1) there was another process [which] ... concentrated them to the extent where they could enter into still more complex reactions" (and none have been plausibly identified in the nearly half century since); 2) the production of "vanishingly small concentrations of even the simplest organic compounds" in the first place would mean even less in total would fall into "more limited zones"; 3) the lakes and pools would be more shallow and so ultraviolet radiation would be more intense and break the compoundsdown more rapidly; and 4) so the decomposing reactions would be even more intense where the compounds ate closer together "in more limited zones."
As Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen pointed out (in the book which is widely regarded as marking the start of the modern ID movement) "degradative forces need to be taken into account in realistic estimates of concentrations, and they have frequently been ignored"(my emphasis):
"The realization that an organic soup would have been too dilute for direct formation of polymers may seem devastating to chemical evolution views. However, as Bernal has written, `The original concept of the primitive soup must be rejected only in so far as it applies to oceans or large volumes of water, and interest must be transferred to reactions in more limited zones.' By this he meant lakes, pools, lagoons, and the like. ... By concentrating the monomers, the probability of their molecular interaction would have been increased, thus increasing reaction rates … There is no known geological evidence for organic pools, concentrated by these or other mechanisms, ever existing on this planet. ... Still, if by some means concentrated pools did develop, not only would the desired materials concentrate, but also the undesirable impurities. For example, an evaporating pond concentrating nonvolatiles such as amino acids would also concentrate sea salts such as NaCl. ... Salt has greater affinity for water than do these organic compounds. Therefore, in order for the salt to be dissolved the organic compounds must precipitate out of solution. It is another type of `impurity,' however, that would have been the greatest obstacle to the successful concentration of organic compounds in limited zones. This would be the host of oceanic organic compounds such as amines, amino acids, aldehydes, ketones, sugars, carboxylic acids, etc. that would have destructively interacted in the ocean. The usual consequences of concentrating these would be … merely an acceleration of the many destructive reactions ... that would also occur at slower rates in the more dilute ocean, as already discussed. ... The problem demands a means of selecting organic compounds and isolating them from other chemicals with which they could destructively interact. Yet there is nothing (but the need) to suggest that such a sorting mechanism ever existed on this planet. In other words, for these more limited zones (e.g., lakes, pools, lagoons), as for the ocean itself, it is difficult to imagine significant concentrations of essential organic compounds ever accumulating. As we have seen, degradative forces need to be taken into account in realistic estimates of concentrations, and they have frequently been ignored." (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories," , Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, Second Printing, pp.61-62,64-66. Emphasis original).
As for Thaxton, et al.'s "The problem demands a means of selecting organic compounds and isolating them from other chemicals with which they could destructively interact," note what Hull says in his last quote above that this is "not in conflict with the experimental results of Miller and others who have synthesized organic compounds with electrical discharges or ultra-violet light in the laboratory" because they only work "by selectively removing the product from the reacting mixture" (i.e. by intelligent design), but that "does not prove that the same synthesis will occur in the atmosphere or open sea without the chemist" (my emphasis).
In other words, what all these origin of life experiments are demonstrating is that intelligent design is needed to synthesise life! As creationist chemist and pre-ID theorist A.E. Wilder-Smith observed, "For all the efforts of the scientific naturalists to prove their point ... only serve, in fact, to verify the correctness of the supernaturalist position" because "Under the influence of intelligence they are hoping to produce living matter from its nonliving base" but "This is precisely the supernaturalist point of view" (my emphasis)!:
"The scientific materialists are bending all their efforts to demonstrate that, if a reaction leading up to life can take place now, in laboratory reaction vessels, without supernatural aid, then proof positive has been effectively delivered that no supernatural agency was needed to produce life at the beginning, at archebiopoesis. Thus any synthetic, laboratory production of life in the laboratory, under what are presumed to be conditions resembling those on the earth when life arose for the first time, is heralded in many circles as driving the last nail in God's and the supernaturalist's coffins. Who needs God and the supernaturalist position if life on the earth can be effectively accounted for without either? Before accepting this commonly assumed position let us consider the following: Is it not remarkable that this view is not generally recognized for what it is-an absolute contradiction? For all the efforts of the scientific naturalists to prove their point by the above mentioned method only serve, in fact, to verify the correctness of the supernaturalist position. For, is it not true that the scientific materialists are, in their experiment, applying intelligence and thought to the ordering of matter? Under the influence of intelligence they are hoping to produce living matter from its nonliving base. This is precisely the supernaturalist point of view." (Wilder-Smith, A.E., "The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution," T.W.F.T. Publishers: Costa Mesa CA, 1988, pp.xix-xx).
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 28:10-15. 10Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."