I’m a student at Rice so this issue is specifically relevant to me. I was wondering if any of you had any thoughts or reactions between the back-and-forth between science educator Professor Dave and Synthetic-Organic chemist James Tour. I mostly watch their back-and-forth for laughs because it has gotten to be pretty silly.
I had always been pretty skeptical about Tour’s personality and claims (mostly hearing about them from other people around me). However I presented some of my concerns to him personally and, to be honest, I thought his response was very reasonable. He told me he wasn’t ruling out a natural explanation for abiogenesis, and his concern was the current way OOL researchers going about doing research and informing the public was misleading and actually hurting the field of OOL.
Way above my pay grade. i did enjoy a recent NOVA show that touched on OOL research and was about my level, That part of the show starts at about the 31 minute mark. Beyond the Elements: Life | NOVA | PBS
Very cool. I steered my son toward Rice, but he was graduating from a dual-credit high school and Rice wanted him to start as a freshman. He was impatient and chose SMU. Graduated at 19 and wasted a couple years. What can you do? haha
Not to dive into the “what’s your major” question, but I’m a fan of Elaine Ecklund’s work, if you happen to get the chance to take a class from her. Besides founding the Religion and Public Life Program, she’s now the director of the Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance. https://rplp.rice.edu/people/elaine-howard-ecklund
I haven’t met Tour personally, but your interaction with him sounds more like what I’ve heard secondhand. I disagree with his stance on OOL research, but I don’t have time to watch the videos at the moment. I’ll try to circle back.
I started listening to Professor Dave’s video. He strikes me as someone who knows what he’s talking about. The science is beyond me… but I would love to see these guys consider some basic philosophy.
The origin of life may indeed have a natural explanation, the same way the universe might have its beginning in another universe. These are philosophical possibilities.
Things apparently pop into existence all the time. Now the question is whether it was caused by something else that came to exist, to which the same question applies, or it was caused by something that doesn’t come into existence or it just came into existence without cause.
The thing about the latter two, is that they would appear the same. Something that can affect change without changing would be unobservable, so that what it caused appears to come from nothing.
You should post your question over at Peaceful Science. I get the impression the participants there are more informed about Tour’s body of work and he has his fans and frenemies there who might be interested in this exchange and be better equipped to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both side.
I do not necessarily disagree with Professor Dave on the science, but he drags in unrelated speculation as to motivation, and implies that anyone who agrees with Tour is plotting to turn America into some Handmaid’s Tale theocracy. I get enough of this and have stopped listening to him.