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Unguided Origin of Life: “Completely Impossible but Must Have Happened”

“It’s completely impossible, but it must have happened.” That’s how philosopher of science Stephen Meyer summarizes most responses from proponents of unguided chemical evolution when challenged on the origin of life. In January, Meyer led a panel discussion with the authors of the foundational intelligent design text The Mystery of Life’s Origin at the Dallas Conference on Science & Faith. You can see the entire interaction now, as Discovery Institute begins launching videos of the presentations from the hugely successful event:

The occasion for the panel was the release of a new and greatly expanded 35th-anniversary edition of the book, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy. You’ll enjoy the discussion between Meyer and Walter Bradley, Charles Thaxton, and Roger Olsen. It’s introduced by materials scientist Walter Bradley, and Bradley in turn is introduced by Robert J. Marks, director of Discovery Institute’s Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence. This hour of stimulating talk is very timely, for two reasons.

First, as noted here yesterday, we are mourning the passing of Jon Buell, the “matchmaker” who brought Bradley, Thaxton, and Olsen together in the first place. Or as Dr. Marks puts it, using a different metaphor, Buell “corralled these authors,” and “sparked” the project that, in 1984, started the modern intelligent design movement. Their book inspired and influenced Meyer and many other leading thinkers in the world of ID. In his personal comments, Bradley acknowledges here that Buell was “a great mentor for me.”

An Inspiring Alternative

Second, many of us are locked up in our homes — so, solid intellectual and scientific content, that inspires, is just the thing to provide an alternative to what we see in the news and on social media at the moment. The mystery in the title of the book “sparked” by Jon Buell is the ultimate inspiration, because it’s the ultimate mystery. Bradley quotes the late New York University chemist and skeptic Robert Shapiro who conceded that the origin of life represents “an astonishing stroke of luck.” Luck?

These speakers are charming and self-deprecating, despite their historic role (further elaborated in my introduction to the new edition of Mystery). And it’s fascinating to see them interact with Dr. Meyer, who is their intellectual inheritor.

We will be releasing videos from the Dallas Conference on Science & Faith each Wednesday here at Evolution News. Join us next week as John West discusses “Darwin’s Corrosive Idea.”