Are we close to cracking the origin of life problem or not? In 2021, chemist Dr. Lee Cronin declared publicly that “Origin of life research is a scam.” Yet, scientists regularly claim to be close to creating simple and complex life from non-life in their labs, and the public is buying it. On this ID The Future, we bring you the first half of a panel discussion reviewing the recent debate between Rice University chemistry professor Dr. James Tour and University of Glasgow professor of chemistry Dr. Lee Cronin.
In November 2023, Dr. Tour and Dr. Cronin participated in a roundtable debate on origin-of-life studies at Harvard University with a live audience of Harvard faculty and guests. Even if you haven’t seen the debate yet, you’ll likely find this insightful discussion helpful. The panel features three of our own: scientist and attorney Casey Luskin, physicist Brian Miller, and Center for Science and Culture Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Dilley. It also featured Arizona State University Professor of Philosophy Owen Anderson.
In this first half, you’ll get some helpful background on Dr. Tour and why he’s challenging origin of life researchers. The panel also discusses the difficulties inherent in origin of life studies, as well as the problems that arise from the models proposed by Lee Cronin. Towards the end of Part 1 the panelists talk about the process of natural selection. How much power do Darwinists believe it has? And just what can the process of natural selection actually do and be credited for? And while Cronin accuses Dr. Tour of employing a god-of-the-gaps fallacy in his arguments, the panel explains that it’s actually Cronin who employs such a fallacy, more aptly named materialism-of-the-gaps: the idea that given time, science will explain everything and that we simply need to wait for these natural explanations to come along. But as Brian Miller points out, every attempt to rationalize away the evidence of design through some natural process collapses as science advances.
This discussion was recorded by the Kirkwood Center and hosted by Kirkwood president Anthony Costello and vice-president Lenny Esposito. We thank the Kirkwood Center for permission to share it.
This is Part 1 of a two-part discussion. Look for Part 2 next.
- Watch the debate that inspired this discussion: Origin of Life Roundtable
Read some of our coverage on the debate:
- Brian Miller: Cronin-Tour at Harvard: How Researchers Smuggle Design into Their Theories
- Casey Luskin: Another War of Words: Jim Tour and Lee Cronin at Harvard