The Tour-Farina debate on the origin of life has provided more fun than I was expecting. We’ve posted a number of YouTube reviews of the event held at Rice University — not from ID folks but from self-identified atheists and agnostics who were disappointed, even “disgusted,” to see Dave’s lousy performance. Professor Dave, aka Dave Farina, thinks it’s a conspiracy of Discovery Institute “plants” writing these reviews. He told a commenter on his YouTube channel:
Yeah, those are DI plants pretending to be atheists so they can write loser damage control blog posts on Evolution News. Be harder to trick, champ.
I see. In saying “No, of course they’re not,” I don’t expect Farina to believe me. It’s tough to track down the identities of random YouTube commenters. But when I went back and looked at comments on the debate, almost the first one I saw was new to me and it’s from a self-identified “not religious” biochemist who calls Farina an “embarrassment for science.” Another Discovery Institute plant? Hardly. This scientist — Professor Javier Campos-Gomez at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — was easy to find and I emailed him for permission to identify him and to confirm that he is who he says he is.
Not an ID Proponent
Yep, it’s him, and he added that he’s not a proponent of intelligent design, in case that was in doubt. Dr. Campos-Gomez wrote to me, “what I call nature you call God and what you call intelligent design I call a natural process.” Fair enough. Here’s what he wrote (unedited) on the YouTube page for the debate. His words are eloquent and speak for themselves:
Dear Dr. Tour, you are not alone in this battle. I am not religious but I am totally with you. I am a biochemist myself very interested and informed about the origin of life and have always thought that the origin of life theories available are all fairy tales. Anyone that understand the complexity of life knows this. The prebiotic synthesis of biological relevant molecules, although a huge problem itself, is the less of the problem. Give Dave every single molecule needed to make life already synthesized in the correct chirality and ask him to make a soup that create life in the lab. Another huge problem you can add to your battle is that of the biological membranes. The available theories always bring the membranes as an act of magic. How can you maintain life required compartmentalization, even if you bring the membrane through magic, if the genetic traits required for the synthesis of the membrane are not present? How this magically added membrane was able to get genetically encoded in the DNA? And this holds true for almost every process in the cell.
Regarding Dave, as always, ignorants are unable to recognized how ignorant they are, which makes them so sure of themselves as to act as total blatant arrogants. They usually use personal attacks instead of logical arguments. Dave is an embarrassment for science and made me cringe during the whole debate. He was the one that acted religiously and as a dogmatic believer in the “scientific” orthodoxy, while you acted very scientifically. You have all my respect. He seems to me the kind of scientist that will do anything, ANYTHING, to justify the grant money he gets over the scientific truth. Unfortunately, we have many of those.
A Citation-Bluffing Huckster
There you have it. Currently available origin-of-life theories are “fairy tales.” Farina’s performance was “cringe”-worthy. Indeed it was. Even if you spoke no English, you could tell from the body language and the respective manners of speaking on the part of Farina and Tour that, once deprived of his YouTube channel and his precious script, Farina was dominated by his opponent.
One correction might be that Farina isn’t a “scientist,” but a mere citation-bluffing huckster. (See Brian Miller’s post for confirmation on that.) But Professor Campos-Gomez is a scientist with relevant expertise, qualified to spot a fairy tale when he sees one. Also a gentleman, unlike Dave Farina.