Dr. James Tour‘s name should be fairly familiar to regular readers of this site. I have mentioned him a number of times before, particularly with respect to his seminal presentation about the known problems with Origin-of-Life (OoL) research. Dr. Tour is a literal Judaeochristian – in the exact and correct sense of the word. He was born a Jew, and he will die a Jew, as he himself will tell you. He is also a devout Christian who makes every effort to thank and glorify God in his work. His achievements in the fields of organic chemistry and nanotechnology are staggering – he has over 150 scientific journal papers and articles to his name, and his work has been cited over 125,000 times.
He has also been subjected to ferocious criticism, by people who evidently didn’t actually watch his original videos or anything else that he has ever written or filmed, because he dares to say what the rest of the so-called “scientific community” refuses to admit – that humans simply do not understand, at this point, after decades of research, how early life formed.
So, Dr. Tour took his critics on, and boy did he bring the heat:
The whole video is well worth watching. It is a glorious rant by a scientist who is pissed off by inadequate, ill-informed, and dogmatic criticisms of his work by people who simply don’t know what they are talking about.
For me, the most interesting aspect of Dr. Tour’s entire talk – rant, really – is the contrast of the humility with which he opens the talk, and the arrogance of the scientists that he, rightly, excoriates. As he points out, the claims made by scientists to the lay public are radically different from the realities they admit among themselves. Scientists in OoL research have repeatedly claimed in public that they are perhaps a couple of years away from reproducing precisely the exact conditions of the “primordial soup” model of the origin of all life in the laboratory.
They have been claiming this since at least 2013. Nine years later, they are no closer to understanding those conditions than they were back then.
The scientific challenges involved in OoL research are enormous, and Dr. Tour explains them forcefully and thoroughly. There is a lot of “scientific mumbo-jumbo” involved, but a reasonably well-educated individual can follow along just fine. The major problems with OoL research stem from the fact that the sheer number of things that have to go EXACTLY right, are simply too great to be mathematically feasible.
This, I can understand quite well, given my own background in mathematics. When someone tells me that the number of ways in which a particular chemical compound can form, is in the TRILLIONS, then I know full well that the chances of getting precisely ONE combination that hits the exact sweet spot needed to create life, are so small as to be irrelevant.
Put another way – for the OoL model to work, mathematically speaking, you would need a Universe that is TRILLIONS of years old – and not just a few trillion, either, but MANY trillions.
If you multiply together the probabilities of each and every one of the events needed to make life just happen “spontaneously”, the numbers involved become so small that an object of the same length, in metres, as the joint probability of everything happening in precisely the right order at the right time in the right way, would be far too tiny to be observed using an electron microscope.
The tl;dr version of all of this is: life isn’t random. Never was.
Note, please, that all of this is BEFORE we get to the issue of the theory of evolution by natural selection. As I have written many times before, this theory, too, is full of serious problems – to the point where its proponents have to keep adding epicycles to the theory to make it hang together. There is simply no way to make coherent sense out of all of it.
All of it ultimately comes down to mathematics, as with everything else in the Universe. And the mathematics are clear – life is not random.
Does this mean we shall never understand the origins of life? As Dr. Tour himself states at the end of the video – no, certainly not. In several hundred years’ time, assuming we haven’t all wiped ourselves out through our own stupidity, and assuming we still have human descendants who survive the coming Dark Age and understand high technology and scientific thought, we assuredly will understand the origins of life far better than we do now.
But none of this changes the fact that, mathematically speaking, random chance does not and cannot explain life in all of its vast diversity and complexity.
To Christians, there is no dilemma or quandary here. We know and understand that, in the beginning, God created everything.
Did He create it in exactly the form we see today?
Nope. The Bible is clear on that, too.
What the Bible does not say, is how everything evolved into what we see today. And that is where another major source of confusion arises with respect to the validity and truth of the Bible.
Too many Christians – yes, even good and devout ones – confuse themselves into thinking that science and the Bible contradict each other. This is wrong. They do not, as Dr. Tour points out:
Scientific THEORIES contradict the Bible, yes. But theories ARE NOT, AND NEVER WILL BE, facts. Theories are precisely that – theories – and they must be proven to be true. More precisely, in scientific terms, they must pass every possible test, to the point where we can state with an extremely high degree of confidence that they are true.
The Law of Gravity is actually a theory that has simply never failed – but the gravitational constant in Newton’s famous laws, fluctuates wildly (by the high-precision standards of physics) depending on the situation. Does that mean gravity does not exist, or that the Law of Gravity contradicts the Bible? Of course not – because the Bible takes no position on the precise value of the gravitational constant.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what elements make up water, either. It doesn’t presume to wade into those areas. The Bible is God’s divine teaching, revealed through the minds and hands of men, pointing us to the Truth that is God Himself. It’s just that simple. He leaves it up to us to seek out the truth – and I firmly believe that an honest individual with an open heart and clear mind will, in the process of seeking that truth, find God at the end of that journey.
More precisely, that individual will find the Christian understanding of God, revealed through Christ Jesus our Lord.
I will close with one final observation, coming back to this point about humility. In that second video, you see Dr. Tour on his knees, praying fervently for the audience – not once, but twice. Keep in mind, this is a man who has done more to advance the body of scientific knowledge and understanding than about 99% of his peers, which is already a highly select group of extraordinarily brilliant individuals.
A man like that, who has achieved so much in his life, who has done so much to change the world, humbles himself before God and asks for His blessings. That is amazing to watch.
Would that we all have the humility and self-awareness to do likewise, and to understand that glory belongs to God alone, not to men. All that we do in this life should be to God’s glory, not to our own. Dr. Tour understands that. We should too.