On today’s ID the Future, distinguished synthetic organic chemist James Tour of Rice University explains why the goal of synthesizing life from non-life in conditions similar to those of the early Earth appears further away than ever. It’s not an illusion, he explains. The illusion was how close OOL researchers thought they were 50-70 years ago. They were never close, and the more we learn about how mind-bogglingly sophisticated even the simplest cells are, and how the complexity is essential for biological life, the more we realize just how far we are from constructing a plausible scenario for the mindless origin of the first life. Tour points out that even granting a great deal of intelligent design in the form of the highly skilled and interventionist work of the origin-of-life researchers in the lab, they still can’t engineer into existence all the key building blocks of a living cell. What if you handed them all the building blocks in the right proportions? They’re still nowhere near being able to intelligently design those ingredients into a living cell, Tour says. It has to do with what’s termed the interactome—that is, all the interdependent molecular interactions in a particular cell, many of which may initially appear unimportant but turn out to be crucial. Tour doesn’t argue that researchers will never be able to design a cell from non-living matter. He does say that if it is achieved, it will be well into the future. What will such an achievement underscore? As Luskin emphasizes, it will highlight the creative power of intelligent agency. The occasion for Dr. Tour’s conversation with host Casey Luskin is Tour’s essay in a new book now available for free download, Science and Faith in Dialogue. For more from Dr. Tour, check out his website and his YouTube channel.
Today’s ID the Future puts atheist Richard Dawkins’s book Outgrowing God under the microscope and reveals multiple ways his argument smashes up against contrary scientific evidence. Walking us through the critique are author and Mama Bear Apologetics founder Hillary Morgan Ferrer and her co-host, Amy Davison. Dawkins invokes the beautiful order evident in the murmuration of bird flocks as evidence that complexity can evolve from simple algorithmic rules. But Ferrer explains why the phenomenon of bird murmuration doesn’t even begin to approach what we find when sophisticated engineering order emerges in the growth of embryos. Ferrer also considers the challenges of re-engineering sperm thermoregulation to move from how it works in marine life to how it works in land animals. For a blind process to traverse this evolutionary pathway while maintaining viability at every stage would require—to adapt a line from Alice in Wonderland—six hundred impossible things before breakfast. What about evolving something simpler, such as the bilayer cell membrane, essential for cellular life? No, Ferrer argues. It’s also far too sophisticated to have evolved through a blind evolutionary process. What is needed is the foresight that comes with intelligent design. Tune in to hear Ferrer and Davison rebut these and other pro-evolution arguments from Richard Dawkins. This episode of the Mama Bear Apologetics podcast is reposted here with permission. To read more from Ferrer and some of her Mama Bear colleagues, pick up their bestselling book Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies.