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A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution


Professor James M. Tour is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. He is famous for his work on nanocars (pictured above, courtesy of Wikipedia), nanoelectronics, graphene nanostructures, carbon nanovectors in medicine, and green carbon research for enhanced oil recovery and environmentally friendly oil and gas extraction. He is currently a Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University. He has authored or co-authored 489 scientific publications and his name is on 36 patents. Although he does not regard himself as an Intelligent Design theorist, Professor Tour, along with over 700 other scientists, took the courageous step back in 2001 of signing the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”, which read: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

On Professor Tour’s Website, there’s a very revealing article on evolution and creation, in which Tour bluntly states that he does not understand how macroevolution could have happened, from a chemical standpoint (all bold emphases below are mine – VJT):

Although most scientists leave few stones unturned in their quest to discern mechanisms before wholeheartedly accepting them, when it comes to the often gross extrapolations between observations and conclusions on macroevolution, scientists, it seems to me, permit unhealthy leeway. When hearing such extrapolations in the academy, when will we cry out, “The emperor has no clothes!”?

…I simply do not understand, chemically, how macroevolution could have happened. Hence, am I not free to join the ranks of the skeptical and to sign such a statement without reprisals from those that disagree with me? … Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me.

In a more recent talk, entitled, Nanotech and Jesus Christ, given on 1 November 2012 at Georgia Tech, Professor Tour went further, and declared that no scientist that he has spoken to understands macroevolution – and that includes Nobel Prize winners! Here’s what he said when a student in the audience asked him about evolution:

I will tell you as a scientist and a synthetic chemist: if anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me, because I make molecules for a living, and I don’t just buy a kit, and mix this and mix this, and get that. I mean, ab initio, I make molecules. I understand how hard it is to make molecules. I understand that if I take Nature’s tool kit, it could be much easier, because all the tools are already there, and I just mix it in the proportions, and I do it under these conditions, but ab initio is very, very hard.

I don’t understand evolution, and I will confess that to you. Is that OK, for me to say, “I don’t understand this”? Is that all right? I know that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t understand anything about organic synthesis, but they understand evolution. I understand a lot about making molecules; I don’t understand evolution. And you would just say that, wow, I must be really unusual.

Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science – with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. I have sat with them, and when I get them alone, not in public – because it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said – I say, “Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?” Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who understand this, they go “Uh-uh. Nope.” These people are just so far off, on how to believe this stuff came together. I’ve sat with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. Sometimes I will say, “Do you understand this?”And if they’re afraid to say “Yes,” they say nothing. They just stare at me, because they can’t sincerely do it.

I was once brought in by the Dean of the Department, many years ago, and he was a chemist. He was kind of concerned about some things. I said, “Let me ask you something. You’re a chemist. Do you understand this? How do you get DNA without a cell membrane? And how do you get a cell membrane without a DNA? And how does all this come together from this piece of jelly?” We have no idea, we have no idea. I said, “Isn’t it interesting that you, the Dean of science, and I, the chemistry professor, can talk about this quietly in your office, but we can’t go out there and talk about this?”

If you understand evolution, I am fine with that. I’m not going to try to change you – not at all. In fact, I wish I had the understanding that you have.

But about seven or eight years ago I posted on my Web site that I don’t understand. And I said, “I will buy lunch for anyone that will sit with me and explain to me evolution, and I won’t argue with you until I don’t understand something – I will ask you to clarify. But you can’t wave by and say, “This enzyme does that.” You’ve got to get down in the details of where molecules are built, for me. Nobody has come forward.

The Atheist Society contacted me. They said that they will buy the lunch, and they challenged the Atheist Society, “Go down to Houston and have lunch with this guy, and talk to him.” Nobody has come! Now remember, because I’m just going to ask, when I stop understanding what you’re talking about, I will ask. So I sincerely want to know. I would like to believe it. But I just can’t.

Now, I understand microevolution, I really do. We do this all the time in the lab. I understand this. But when you have speciation changes, when you have organs changing, when you have to have concerted lines of evolution, all happening in the same place and time – not just one line – concerted lines, all at the same place, all in the same environment … this is very hard to fathom.

I was in Israel not too long ago, talking with a bio-engineer, and [he was] describing to me the ear, and he was studying the different changes in the modulus of the ear, and I said, “How does this come about?” And he says, “Oh, Jim, you know, we all believe in evolution, but we have no idea how it happened.” Now there’s a good Jewish professor for you. I mean, that’s what it is. So that’s where I am. Have I answered the question? (52:00 to 56:44)

Professor Tour’s online talk is absolutely fascinating as well as being deeply moving on a personal level, and I would strongly urge readers to listen to his talk in its entirety – including the questions after the talk. You won’t regret it, I promise you. One interesting little gem of information which I’ll reveal is that it was Professor Tour who was largely instrumental in getting Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, to reject Darwinian evolution and accept Old Earth creationism, shortly before he died in 2005. It was Tour who persuaded Smalley to delve into the question of origins. After reading the books “Origins of Life” and “Who Was Adam?”, written by Dr. Hugh Ross (an astrophysicist) and Dr. Fazale Rana (a biochemist).. Dr. Smalley explained his change of heart as follows:

Evolution has just been dealt its death blow. After reading “Origins of Life”, with my background in chemistry and physics, it is clear evolution could not have occurred. The new book, “Who Was Adam?”, is the silver bullet that puts the evolutionary model to death.

Strong words indeed, for a Nobel scientist. Readers can find out more about Professor Richard Smalley’s change of views here.

Why should we believe macroevolution, if nobody understands it?

Now that Professor Tour has informed the world that even Nobel Prize-winning scientists privately admit that they don’t understand macroevolution, a layperson is surely entitled to ask: “Well, if even they don’t understand it, then why should we believe it? How can we possibly be obliged to believe in a theory which nobody understands?”

That’s a good question. And it’s no use for Darwinists to trot out the standard “party line” that “even if we don’t yet understand how it happened, we still have enough evidence to infer that it happened.” At the very most, all that the current scientific evidence could establish is the common descent of living organisms. But that’s not macroevolution. Macroevolution requires more than a common ancestry for living organisms: it requires a natural mechanism which can generate the diversity of life-forms we see on Earth today from a common stock, without the need for any direction by an Intelligent Agent. But the mechanism is precisely what we don’t have evidence for. So the question remains: why should we believe in macroevolution?

The decline of academic freedom

Given the massive uncertainty about the “how” of macroevolution among scientists working in the field, you might think that a wide variety of views would be tolerated in the scientific arena – including the view that there is no such process as macroevolution. However, you would be sadly mistaken. As Professor Tour notes in his online article on evolution and creation, an alarming academic trend has emerged in recent years: a growing intolerance of dissent from Darwinism. This trend is so pronounced that Professor Tour now advises his students not to voice their doubts about Darwinism in public, if they want a successful career:

In the last few years I have seen a saddening progression at several institutions. I have witnessed unfair treatment upon scientists that do not accept macroevolutionary arguments and for their having signed the above-referenced statement regarding the examination of Darwinism. (I will comment no further regarding the specifics of the actions taken upon the skeptics; I love and honor my colleagues too much for that.) I never thought that science would have evolved like this. I deeply value the academy; teaching, professing and research in the university are my privileges and joys…

But my recent advice to my graduate students has been direct and revealing: If you disagree with Darwinian Theory, keep it to yourselves if you value your careers, unless, of course, you’re one of those champions for proclamation; I know that that fire exists in some, so be ready for lead-ridden limbs. But if the scientific community has taken these shots at senior faculty, it will not be comfortable for the young non-conformist. When the power-holders permit no contrary discussion, can a vibrant academy be maintained? Is there a University (unity in diversity)? For the United States, I pray that the scientific community and the National Academy in particular will investigate the disenfranchisement that is manifest upon some of their own, and thereby address the inequity.

It remains to be seen if other countries will allow their young scientists to think freely about the origin of life, and of the various species of organisms that we find on Earth today. What I will say, though, is that countries which restrict academic freedom will eventually be overtaken by countries which allow it to prosper. There is still time for America and Europe to throw off the dead hand of Darwinism in academic circles, and let their young people breathe the unaccustomed air of free speech once again.

(UPDATE: Here’s a link to my follow-up post, Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details. It amply refutes the simplistic charge, made by some skeptics, that Professor Tour was conflating macroevolution with the question of the origin of life.)

UD Editors:  This post has received a great deal of attention lately, so we are moving it back to the front page.

microevolution is a top-down proccess where a family splits into speceis by loss of information and combination of existing information, it is also called speciation or adaptation macroevolution is a bottom-up proccess where a single celled organism supposedly popped into existense from a rock, and learned to create new information until it sprang all other organisms eventually the first one (microevolution) is observable, the second one (macroevolution) not only has never been observed, but in fact it has been counter-observed, nobody has ever seen an organism creating even a single bit of brand new information while everything is losing information with time @NickMatzke_UD Are you serious? you posted an obscure neckbeard atheist website (not that there is any relevant site for that minority anyway) and asked people to go there and argue with whatever miserable failure hides in there because they failed in life and now blame everyone else someone even made another site named trueorigin.org as answer to that angry neckbeard and it answers all of his supposed objections Kirikagure
The false religion of naturalism (darwinism) is all about deception and lies because it never had a leg to stand on, not only it failed miserably to provide any realistic evidence for the ridiculous fairy tales it claimed and resorted into creating imaginary apemen and other fake animals which were all debunked but all of the real evidence has always heavily pointed towards an inttelligent designer, a creator, because it has always been the truth. But those people are being swallowed by their guilt and corruption and they try to believe the mostt absurd things as a failed attempt to escape from realitty. "For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts.…" Kirikagure
Is it true that James Tour did not accept Nick Matzke's offer to meet because the condition to record the meeting wasn't acceptable? PavelU
Hnorman42- What I said comes directly from Dr. Ernst Mayr. It is in his book "What Evolution Is". He also explains that NS is a process of elimination and that it differs from a selection process, in a meaningful way. One, selection, only a chosen few are allowed to pass on their genes on the way to some artificial goal. The other, elimination, most variations survive with only a few being eliminated. Getting rid of the sickly will improve the over all fitness of the population but it isn't an impetus to produce new body plans. ET
ET - Agreed. Non-random does not mean directed. It can just mean a bias of one meaningless change over another. hnorman42
RichP0- Intelligent Design is not anti-evolution and evolutionism- the actual thing being debated- was never alive to be needing a coffin. No one can test the claim that the differential culling of random mutations can produce the diversity of life. It can't even produce eukaryotes. Natural selection is non-random in a trivial way- that being not all changes have the same probability of being eliminated. NS is still impotent. ET
I only just came across this article when a creationist believer referred me to it, falsely thinking that it drove one or more nails in Evolution's coffin. It does no such thing. Frankly I'm astounded that a supposedly accomplished chemist could be so glaringly uneducated about the basics of evolution, yet feel qualified to call it into question (and fail miserably as a result). Two major problems that jumped out at me: 1) In the area he is most qualified (Chemistry), he correctly notes that there are still many unanswered questions as to how life first originated on Earth. But then he inexplicably conflates that with macro-evolution. Macro-evolution only begins AFTER life first formed. It's mechanics are totally different. So while science is still working to understand how life first originated on Earth, that in no way undermines the massive evidence for evolution. Science is, BTW, getting closer to answering the origin question, but it may still take quite some time. Be patient though - it's a hard problem. 2) And on the specific subject of macro-evolution, he states "Macroevolution requires more than a common ancestry for living organisms: it requires a natural mechanism which can generate the diversity of life-forms we see on Earth today from a common stock, without the need for any direction by an Intelligent Agent. But the mechanism is precisely what we don’t have evidence for. " ANYBODY who has spent ANY amount of time researching evolution should know that statement is patently false. Darwin answered the question more than 150 years ago, when he first proposed his theory that random mutations and natural selection ARE the mechanism that drives evolution. Of course creationists routinely use silly analogies for evolution (an airplane coming together randomly from piece parts in a hurricane). They make the same mistake that Tour makes, in believing that the purported mechanism of evolution is random. Mutations ARE random, but natural selection is anything but random. Anyone who doesn't understand this, doesn't understand Darwin. Tour clearly is among this group. richp0
The other main concept of this theory is that due to natural causes, all life evolved from the simple cell as opposed to species being individually created. Although the theory is concerned with how life evolved, the first three steps that precede evolution must be addressed for the theory to be valid. 1. Something had to originate from nothing by natural means 2. That something had to have the intelligence to calculate the trillions of orbiting and planets by some natural method. 3. Life had to originate from non-life by some random method These are the three logical sequence of events that precede evolution that cannot be omitted and proceed to evolution which is step four. These three steps can be considered to represent links in a chain so that even if one of them is not true then the chain is broken then evolution cannot be true irrespective of all the evolutionary scenarios presented to indicate that all life originated from a common ancestor. It is not the facts but the interpretation of those facts that leads to the conclusion depending on how those facts are being interpreted. Let us look at step 2 where inanimate matter had to have the intelligence to calculate all the trillions of orbiting bodies. To calculate the orbit of one satellite we require a team of individuals which involves intelligence from humans. One would not suggest that a scientific explanation is necessary for this occurrence, as we know that intelligence from human mind was responsible for this event and no one would speculate that this was the result of some random occurrence. Even if the satellite were to crash to the earth after x number of years due to loss of speed that would not mean that it was not designed. Applying the same logic that it requires a mind to launch a satellite to the universe which is far more complex than just one satellite, then that intelligence had to originate from the mind of some entity and not due to some natural phenomena. You can see my video by typing evolutionundone in google (all one word) and looking for the one with the blue background. 401buster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdqYPjA9VxA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPShDz6nEyI Guys ma main goal is truth. And from what I have seen about what is being offered as "proof" for evolution, is only a bunch of "we think" and "we believe" with no actual physical proof to provide a valid support for the theory of Evolution. As someeone stated back in 2013, that no one argues about the earth revolving around the sun. No questions the theory of gravity. Yet when it comes to evolution, there is so many questions that are not being addressed and is not allowing the door to be closed one way or the other. Yet, with what has been offered to date, lacks anything that should call anyone to migrate to such a unproven assumption rtmcdge321
Dr Tour seems not just to be a prolific chemist but a good man also and he is not a moth collector sucking off the public teat promoting evolutionary just so stories. Jack Jones
Evolution is a myth. "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (Heb 11:3). Tom Ruhkala
"But scientists, who ought to know, Assure us that it must be so! Oh, let us never, ever doubt What nobody is sure about!" Hillaire Belloc mrduane
Does anyone understand the chemical details behind Creation? Badman
Given that life is "just chemistry" who better than a chemist? Biologists are just fooling themselves. Mung
I had never heard of Tour before this flap. That he does not understand macroevolution is a given - being a non-biologist is his first strike, his being a born-again is his second. The fact that he thinks that because he is so smart he SHOULD be able to understand it is his third. Of course, he doesn't think there is any science behind IDC, so he is not a total waste of space. SamHManning
Was there a birthday party I missed? Shoulda been a birthday party. Mung
We get a very sanitized version of politics in Britain before the war. Axel
Agreed. I wouldn't judge him, even if he'd been at least a nominal Christian under the Nazis. At the start of the war he would have had lots of company, including more than one Catholic bishop. He probably wasn't a political animal in any case. But an awful lot of the monied folk in western Europe, the New World and the Antipodes and were fanatical supporters of Mussolini and even Hitler - in the twenties, I think - including Churchill and Lloyd George. When anti-Nazi activists, at great personal risk, visited Britain seeking support, a character in the War Office told them they were traitors to their country! Axel
Axel @ 471 If I remember that bit of Lewis right, it's from Miracles. I need to read that book again as it has been too long. Dionisio @ 472 I got the quote secondhand from Coppedge's write-up on Von Braun here. According to that, Von Braun became a Christian during the Apollo mission and later in life he wrote the bit I quoted. "I can’t judge him" - Neither can I. We all change through life and make many mistakes as we grow. Hopefully we learn from our mistakes and change for the better, as I believe Von Braun did. bb
This thread started last March 6th is approaching 200,000 visitors. Is there a reward for the reader #200,000? ;-) Dionisio
bb @ 470
I love the following from Werner von Braun (emphasis mine)
Interesting quote. Thank you for sharing it. BTW, the biography of this guy is a good example of what the Bible tells about true wisdom coming from God only. A distinguished rocket scientist (supposedly raised in a traditional Christian family), publicly accepted the evil philosophical principles of the Nazi party or at least did not oppose them, in order to save his worldly prestige or position. I can't judge him, because I also swallowed another historically evil doctrine when I was younger, but his story definitely shows that one does not have to be a rocket scientist to see the truth. All we need is to be illuminated by the true Light. Dionisio
Priceless. I'd forgotten that. It's a keeper; and not unreminiscent of C S Lewis' apothegm: 'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.' That'll set the cat among the pigeons! 'He's invoking God, I tell you, with his rotten Intelligent Design. I told you!' Axel
I love the following from Werner von Braun (emphasis mine):
To be forced to believe only one conclusion—that everything in the universe happened by chance-would violate the very objectivity of science itself. Certainly there are those who argue that the universe evolved out of a random process, but what random process could produce the brain of a man or the system of the human eye? Some people say that science has been unable to prove the existence of a Designer... They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But, must we really light a candle to see the sun?
Yes, I agree NatanElias! I completely understand why atheist choose their Darwinist hill to die on. I understand why they will do whatever it takes to keep any notion of an intelligent designer or a supreme being out of the picture. There can be no cracks in their theory that will allow a higher power in the door of origin science! If so, then their whole belief system (that there is not a God) will be crushed and that is unacceptable to them. There can be NO holes in their theory! - Even if that means complete rejection of scientific facts that do not support their theory. They absolutely have to! ringo
The one reason that informed people cling to evolution is BECAUSE THEY WANT TO! It is an emotional/moral avoidance; facts are immaterial. They then are excused to live as they please (which is rebellion against God). However, this approach is as effective as turning one's head so as not to see the coming train while stalled on the crossing. NatanElias
Evolve- unguided evolution can't even muster testable hypotheses and it cannot be modeled. And it has nothing to do with real science. So stuff it already Joe
This is the typical creationist nonsense that I see all the time. Project a creationist Ph.D scientist or medical doctor who has no experience in evolutionary biology as a leading expert in the field, and proclaim that if he dismisses evolution, then who shouldn’t! You can hear Stephen Meyer constantly throwing around names of creationist scientists, who endorses his nonsense, in order to validate the bogus claims in his books. This is a political strategy aimed at fooling the lay public and policy-making politicians, who're gullible to thinking that an advanced degree such as a Ph.D automatically confers authority on every subject! But, thankfully, the majority of trained scientists can easily see through the ploy. So real science survives. Evolve
The most compelling proof of ID, it seems to me, was surely the simple statement of Richard Dawkins that everything in nature gave the appearance of having been designed (ipso facto, intelligently). Empirical science is precisely about measurable manifestations, isn't it? For more than a few things to appear to have been designed, sounds like downright carelessness on the part of random chance, doesn't it. I expect it could make even a multiverse in its sleep, if its not more careful! Axel
“If the Scripture does not use nature to prove God, it can’t be the best strategy." I am surprised at Pascal's naivety in this matter. The Bible, and notably the Gospels, are not in the slightest bit interested in a strategy that would provide a 'slam dunk', definitive proof of God's existence. Who could be more acutely aware than the The Holy Spirit that, since the Fall, our most fundamental beliefs, those pivotal to our world-view, are not a matter of intellectual perspicacity. Very far from it, as this whole blog attests with every post, either pro or against ID, i.e. whether insisting on logical arguments and conclusions, or rejecting them, whatever evasions, strawmen, serpentine wrigglings of all kinds, might be required. We believe what we want to believe, but that doesn't make us all cynical, since for the Christian continuing in our belief would very much tend to be a function of their validation. But ,then, why would not God make the world to fit the specifications that he tells us, in fact, apply? And all of this, for the very simple reason that our Judgment will be based on the sympathies of our heart and not our head, since the heart is the seat of eternal wisdom, and frankly, differential secular intelligence will no longer apply in heaven, where we shall have access to all knowledge, as copiously attested by people who have undergone 'near death experiences.' Even in this life, secular intelligence is a kind of degradation of 'core' intelligence, although not necessarily to the detriment of wisdom, which can only valorise it. As the Psalmist put it: 'In your light, God, we see light.' The whole of scripture is based on what I believe philosophers call, 'voluntarism'. Moreover, belief in intelligent design is so intrinsic to our common sense that it has only been after almost two millennia of entropic(sic) Christian witness that bad man have become so insensate and purblind as to reject what has increasingly become the supremely obvious fact - although it would always have been painfully obvious to militant atheists - that nature has been designed to specifications scientists could only dream mastering. So, Scripture abounds with casual references to seeing God's hand in nature. Common-sense was the enforcer in those days. The atheist wouldn't have wanted to be ridiculed by all and sundry, for being such a dope as to believe that nothing turned itself into everything, via a series of extraordinarily propitious coincidences. Axel
Ringo, yes, this is an exciting time for serious biological science research. We haven't seen all yet. The party is just starting, the fun part is still ahead. Let's enjoy it. :) Check this thread: https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/a-third-way-of-evolution/#comment-503971 Dionisio
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