Today’s ID the Future features audio of the first in a series of YouTube videos by Dr. James Tour on the origin-of-life problem. Here Tour, a renowned synthetic organic chemist and professor at Rice University, explains why he is addressing the origin-of-life issue, also known as abiogenesis, and touches on some common misconceptions about the field. He says the organizing impetus for the series is a YouTube video by Dave Farina, “Elucidating the Agenda of James Tour: A Defense of Abiogenesis.” As Farina’s title suggests, he begins his video with an ad hominem attack, seeking to discredit Tour by showing that Tour is a Christian. Tour briefly responds to this line of attack and then moves into matters scientific. There he touches on, among other issues, thermodynamics and the origin-of-life puzzle of low entropy and high energy.
On this episode of ID the Future, biochemist and author Michael Denton tells host Eric Anderson more about his new book The Miracle of the Cell, and about his epiphany when he recognized the many remarkable ways that nature’s chemistry is fine-tuned for life. The focus in this conversation is on carbon chemistry and its “goldilocks zone” ability to form stable bonds but let loose of them when needed. Whereas biologists once wondered about a vitalist “life force” in the cell, Denton sees intelligence and foresight in the very design of carbon, its unique properties, and its “coincidental” relation to water. According to Denton, all of this, taken together, constitutes “one of nature’s most remarkable examples of nature’s fitness for life on earth.” Carbon’s suite of life-friendly features, he says, is foundational to the cell’s peerless ability to build sophisticated biological forms–everything from the smallest bacterium to the tallest tree, and you and me.