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QUIZ & ANSWERS for: Intelligent Design and the Origin of Life

By: Edward Peltzer, Ph.D.

Fill-in-the-blanks/multiple choice. For multiple choice, circle the correct response (none, one, some, or all may be correct).
1. Science was "born" in western Europe during the late Middle Ages. Many of the early practioners of modern science espoused the ___________ worldview, which they explicitly noted motivated their desire to learn about the universe.
2. Modern science rests upon several premises:
  • a. The universe is real; it is not imaginary.
  • b. There is an underlying order to the universe.
  • c. The orderliness is intelligible by man.
  • d. To be understood, the universe must be observed.
    3. ____________ is a recent addition to science that severely limits its scope.
    4. Intelligent design theory asks which questions:
  • a. How does one detect design?
  • b. Is there evidence of design in biology?
  • c. What are the implications of design?
    5. ______________ is the origin of living organisms from non-living materials or substances; this pathway is often "dubbed" ___________________________.
    6. Darwin's proposal of a "warm little pond" with all the right chemicals and salts was adopted and expanded by ________ and _________. Their concept of a reducing atmosphere led directly to the experiments by ________ and ________.
    7. The Miller-Urey experiment was intended to be a simulation of the ____________ ____________ on the early Earth.
    8. Miller's reducing atmosphere contained the gases:
  • a. _______________.
  • b. _______________.
  • c. _______________.
  • d. _______________.
    9. The Miller-Urey experiment produced trace amounts of _______ _______, which captured the imaginations of biologists and chemists world-wide, and various amounts of ____________, which have been largely ignored.
    10. The ____________-_______________ pathway produces both amino acids and hydroxy acids in proportion to the amount of __________ present.
    11. Analyses of the Murchison Meteorite have identified trace amounts of _________ and ___________ acids and large amounts of insoluble and intractable organic matter.
    12. The simplest interpretation of both Miller's electric discharge experiment and detailed chemical analyses of carbonaceous chondrites is that prebiotic chemistry procedes via a multi-step process that ends with the ____________ reaction. The amino and hydroxy acids found are merely ___________ ________________, while the primarily products are ___________ compounds that over time further condense to form ______________.

    2. a, b, c, d.
    4. a, b, c.

    Suggested further reading:
    1. Charles Hummel, The Galileo Connection: Resolving Conflicts Between Science and the Bible (1986). Telling the fascinating stories of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Pascal, Charles E. Hummel provides a historical perspective on the favorable relationship between science and Christianity.

    2. Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (1994). Pearcey and Thaxton deliver a more accurate portrayal of the origin and progress of science by recognizing the influence of Christianity on science. The popular impression that great discoveries were made despite Christian beliefs is soundly refuted by many historical examples where definitive progress was made within the framework of religious and philosophical ideas. The authors present in a new light the influence of the medieval church upon scientific advancement and demonstrate that Newton, Descartes, and others were working to prove or expand upon their religious principles within the Judeo-Christian world-view.

    3. Stanley Miller and Leslie Orgel, The Origins of Life on the Earth (1974). In this book, Miller and Orgel attempt a comprehensive presentation of the chemistry and physics of the early Earth and how it led to the origin of life. Much of the discussion is obviously speculative as the relevant observations are lost to geologic time, but this is tempered with a thorough discussion of the chemistry of the simple organic molecules that have been formed in a variety of prebiotic simulation experiments. The emphasis is decidedly on "what could have happened" given the right conditions and how this could have led towards the origin of life

    4. Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories (1984). This book was one of the earlier attempts to critically evaluate the many theories regarding the naturalistic origin of life on the Earth. It is heavy with chemistry and biochemistry but well-written and accessible to most college level science students. It tries to answer the scientifically relevant question, did it really happen this way and not settle for just any plausible mechanism which stretch to the extreme limits of what might be possible.

    5. Christopher Wills and Jeffrey Bada, The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup (2000). Biologist Christopher Wills and marine chemist Jeffrey Bada present a lively summary of the research looking for signs of life elsewhere and clues to the origin of terrestrial organisms in The Spark of Life. Their writing is clear and every concept is explained well in terms the layman can understand. Bada's insider status with NASA provides insight not found elsewhere. They examine the full gamut of theories, from extraterrestrial origin to life spilling out of hydrothermal vents to deep-crust genesis, identifying strengths and weaknesses in them all.

    6. Raphael Ikan (editor), The Maillard Reaction: Consequences for the Chemical and Life Sciences (1996). This book is a collection of nine chapters, each written by an expert in the particular sub-field, describing various aspects of the Maillard reaction in detail. Chapters include discussions of the geochemical aspects, thermal processes, impacts of the Maillard reaction on the nutritional value of food, genotoxicity and more. This book was written for graduates students and research scientists, not for the novice reader.

    Original research articles for the real "hard-core" students of prebiotic chemistry:
    1. Peltzer, E. T. and J. L. Bada (1978). alpha-Hydroxycarboxylic acids in the Murchison Meteorite. Nature 272: 443-444.
    2. Peltzer, E. T., J. L. Bada, G. Schlesinger, and S. L. Miller (1984). The chemical conditions on the parent body of the Murchison meteorite: some conclusions based on amino, hydroxy and dicarboxylic acids. Advances in Space Research 4: 69-74.
    3. Miller, S. L. (1953). A production of amino acids under possible primitive earth conditions. Science 117: 528.
    4. Miller, S. L. (1955). Production of some organic compounds under possible primitive earth conditions. J. American. Chemical. Society. 77: 2351-2361.
    5. Miller, S. L. (1957). The mechanism of synthesis of amino acids by electric discharges. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 23: 480-489.
    6. Miller, S. L. and H. C. Urey (1959). Organic compound synthesis on the primitive earth. Science 130: 245-251.
    7. Miller, S. L., et al. (1972). Prebiotic synthesis of hydrophobic and protein amino acids. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 69: 765-768.
    8. Miller, S. L., et al. (1972). Nonprotein amino acids from spark discharges and their comparison with the Murchison Meteorite amino acids. Proceedings National Academy of Science, USA 69: 809-811.

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