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Chemist James Tour: The Unacknowledged Mystery of Life’s Origin

James Tour

Episode 5 of Science Uprising takes on the idea, advanced by Stephen Hawking and countless others, that “The life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself.” That’s how Hawking put it, and the words “must have” there are telling. 

Notice that he didn’t simply say that “Life spontaneously generated itself.” He could have said it that way, but he chose not to do so. The addition of “must have” begs for a preceding conditional clause, to form an if-then statement: “If intelligent causation is excluded on principle from any origin-of-life scenario, then the life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself.” And that would be true.

What, though, if the principle excluding intelligent design from consideration is discarded as arbitrary, question-begging, and therefore unscientific? Well, then you could have a bracing discussion like this with synthetic organic chemist James Tour:

A heralded scientist and nanotechnology researcher at Rice University, who is not a proponent of intelligent design, Professor Tour appears in Episode 5 and delivers a tongue lashing to his fellow scientists: “Whether you want to have [life] originate from Earth or from some other planet, you have to have the origin of life. You have to have the origin of that first cell. How does that happen? We have no idea.”

In this bonus video from the Science Uprising site, Tour was teaching at Discovery Institute’s 2019 Dallas Science and Faith Conference and so he has that additional time, about an hour, to lay out his devastating, detailed critique of current origins theories. They are uniformly baloney. The problem isn’t that “We have no idea” how life originated. Admitting ignorance is a good thing! It’s that the mystery of how life began is so widely unacknowledged by origin-of-life researchers. It is really a matter of professional malpractice, but nobody in the mainstream science media will call them on it.

Image at the top: From Episode 5 of Science Uprising, “Origin of Life: Intelligence Required.”