Charles Darwin had speculated that life may have begun in a warm little pond with protein compounds ready to undergo more complex changes. Strangely enough, a century later experiments were found to confirm this vision. It appeared that Darwin just happened to be right and the headlines proclaimed that scientists had created "Life in a test tube."
But a plethora of problems were ignored in the process which textbooks eventually had to acknowledge. The 2004 version of George Johnson's high school text, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, for instance, includes the primordial soup section but adds a caveat.
In its Principles of Evolution unit, the student reads the usual narrative of organic molecules forming spontaneously in chemical reactions activated by energy from solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, and lightning. The text recounts the success of primordial soup experiments in synthesizing certain organic compounds and concludes:
These results support the hypothesis that some basic chemicals of life could have formed spontaneously under conditions like those in the experiment.
But this traditional life-in-a-test-tube narrative is then followed by an awkward caveat. As the next section explains,
Recent discoveries have caused scientists to reevaluate [the experiment]. We now know that the mixture of gases used in [the experiment] could not have existed on early Earth. ... Some scientists argue that the chemicals were produced within ocean bubbles. Others say that the chemicals arose in deep sea vents. The correct answer has not been determined yet.
That's a refreshing admission. Now a new evolution paper goes further. As one author put it, commenting on the paper:
Despite bioenergetic and thermodynamic failings, the 80-year-old concept of primordial soup remains central to mainstream thinking on the origin of life. But soup has no capacity for producing the energy vital for life.
"It is time to cast off the shackles of fermentation in some primordial soup," commented another author.
These evolutionists believe deep sea vents are the answer. The vents provide chemical gradients that early life would have used before learning how to create their own gradients. Of course we have no idea, beyond speculation, how this actually could have happened. The cell's energy transfer process (referred to as chemiosmosis), using nutrients to synthesize its own chemical energy (ATP), is astonishingly complex. But no matter, it must have happened:
Far from being too complex to have powered early life, it is nearly impossible to see how life could have begun without chemiosmosis ...
The eighteenth century philosopher and evolutionary thinker David Hume argued that the problem of evil trumped the problem of complexity. Nature may be complex, but it must have evolved because god would not have created this wretched world. Now, two centuries later, complexity is simply dismissed because evolution must have occurred.