America’s Top Researcher Reveals: Scientists Clueless on Origins of Life

An internationally recognized scientist challenges random mutation, the basis of Darwin’s theory of evolution, claiming instead that science “underscores the magnanimity of God.”

James Tour: “We Remain Clueless”

James Tour is a synthetic organic chemist at Rice University who is widely considered one of America’s leading experts in nanotechnology and nanoengineering with over 700 research publications and over 130 patent families. He is widely recognized as one of the top scientists in his field. 

In 2001, Tour was one of a small number of nationally prominent researchers among the five hundred scientists and engineers whose names appeared on the Discovery Institute’s controversial petition, “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.” In the petition, the scientists expressed skepticism for the “ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.” The petition called for a reexamination of the Darwinian theory of evolution. Tour rejects the label of being in favor of intelligent design, claiming there is insufficient data to prove that theory. 

“As a modern-day scientist, I do not know how to prove intelligent design using my most sophisticated analytical tools,” he wrote last year. “The canonical tools are, by their own admission, inadequate to answer the intelligent design question. I cannot lay the issue at the doorstep of a benevolent creator or even an impersonal intelligent designer. All I can presently say is that my chemical tools do not permit my assessment of intelligent design.”

“This is how far the misunderstanding has gone, even science professors — even biology professors — think that … we understand the ways to build life. We do not,” Tour said in one of many videos on YouTube that feature his take on the subject.

“None of the homochiral molecules have been made ab initio under prebiotic-like conditions,” he said, 

“We remain clueless,” Tour told The College Fix. “We are nowhere close to an understanding of life’s origin.”

Random Mutation Cannot Explain for Life’s Building Blocks

The professor explained that the basic building blocks of life were so complex that the process of random mutation simply could not account for them coming together spontaneously.

“The chemicals needed for life are more than just carbon and water,” the professor said. “One needs the amino acids. The amino acids then have to hook together to form proteins. It’s not easy to get amino acids to hook together. One can get very small amounts if you just add a catalyst to it, but the yields are extremely low. There are many activation steps that are needed to get this sufficiently.”

“In nature, in biology, once you have life, this is all done with nature’s little machines called enzymes,” he said. “But what we are talking about is prebiotic, long before enzymes themselves are made. And the enzymes themself are made out of the amino acids in proteins.”

“Then, after we have the amino acids, we have to have the carbohydrates, then you have to hook the carbohydrates together. The carbohydrate hooking together pattern is extremely complex.”

“Life based upon amino acids, nucleotides, saccharides and lipids is an anomaly,” Tour wrote. “Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth. Yet we are led to believe that 3.8 billion years ago the requisite compounds could be found in some cave or undersea vent, and somehow or other they assembled themselves into the first cell.” 

Faith in the Biblical Text

Tour was born a Jew but became a Messianic Christian while in college. His scientific endeavors have bolstered his belief in God. In Lee Strobel’s book The Case For Faith – the following commentary is attributed to Tour: “I build molecules for a living, I can’t begin to tell you how difficult that job is. I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”

Tour claims that there is no contradiction between science and the Bible.

“Based upon my faith in the biblical text, I do believe (yes, faith and belief go beyond scientific evidence for this scientist) that God created the heavens and the earth and all that dwell therein, including a man named Adam and a woman named Eve,” Tour wrote. “As for many of the details and the time-spans, I personally become less clear. Some may ask, What’s “less clear” about the text that reads, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth”? That is a fair question, and I wish I had an answer that would satisfy them. But I do not because I remain less clear. So, in addition to my chemically-based scientific resistance to a macroevolutionary proposal, I am also theologically reticent to embrace it. As a lover of the biblical text, I cannot allegorize the Book of Genesis that far, lest, as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof said, ‘If I try and bend that far, I’ll break!’ 

“God seems to have set nature as a clue, not a solution, to keep us yearning for him. And if some day we do understand the mechanisms for these macroevolutionary changes, and also the processes that led to the origin of first life, it will not lessen God. As with all discoveries, like when the genetic code in the double-stranded DNA was discovered, they will serve to underscore the magnanimity of God.”


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