We Need Science, Not Soup: Dr James Tour on Origin-of-Life Research

Dr James Tour, a synthetic organic chemist of repute, started asking questions about the theoretical underpinnings of theories concerning the evolution and, even more fundamentally, about the origins of life. Such was the personal and aggressive response to his genuine scientific queries that he was intrigued and spurred to dig some more.

His substantial research background has afforded him unique insight into the difficulty of creating precise organic molecules that actually work. From this starting point, he has questioned the official narrative concerning the emergence of life on a pre-biotic earth. That narrative—that a pool of mineral-rich goo or soup, located under a rock, somehow became alive—he has found to be so far short of a scientifically valid explanation that he has concluded that all existing research into the origin of life is entirely pointless.

Added to these insights from organic chemistry are the astronomically unlikely probabilities of events posited in the claim that random occurrences could produce life. Some of the structures that are involved have a number of possible combinations equal to ten raised to the power of seventy-nine. Given that there are reckoned to be ten to the power of ninety elemental particles in the entire universe, selecting or finding a structure from such a vast array of options is far beyond impossible.

Dr Tour brings his experience in fabricating nanomachines to the field, allowing him to examine the real difficulties of making even the basic building blocks that go into a cell, let alone the vast complexity of the cell itself. He points out that there is "no such thing as a simple cell".

To further illustrate the paucity of present knowledge, Dr Tour emphasises that, if we have a cell that has just died (apoptosis), with all its compounds and structures in place, we don't know how to revive it. Worse that, that we can't even define what we have just lost. That's how fundamental the problem is.

The (well-educated) public is deceived by both origin-of-life researchers and the scientific press, for, as David Scott often points out, most science writing is false. Most believe that science has been able to create a single-celled organism in the lab. The truth is that science is concious of being farther away from this outcome now than was believed in the 1950s. The progress that has been made in discovering the fantastic complexity of life has far outstripped any idea of how that complexity might have arisen.

Despite the ad-hominem attacks he has suffered, James is determined to address the scientific errors and fallacies of origin-of-life science. He is "locked and loaded", and taking the fight to social media. He does this to communicate with the public directly: turning to the masses, going right into their living rooms. And when he does this, he is both scientifically rigorous and highly entertaining.