Hoogleraar James M. Tour is een van de meest geciteerde chemici ter wereld. Hij is beroemd om zijn werk aan nanoauto’s, nano-elektronica, grafeen nanostructuren, koolstof nanovectoren in medicijnen, en onderzoek naar groene energie door verbeterde olieterugwinning en milieuvriendelijke olie- en gasextractie. Hij is hoogleraar in de chemie, hoogleraar in de computerwetenschappen en hoogleraar werktuigbouwkunde en materiaalkunde aan Rice University. Hij heeft als auteur of coauteur 489 wetenschappelijke publicaties op zijn naam staan en zijn naam rust op 36 patenten. Hij heeft met meer dan 700 wetenschappers afstand genomen van het (neo)darwinisme door ondertekening van A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. Op zijn website schrijft Tour dat hij niet begrijpt hoe macro-evolutie, vanuit chemisch oogpunt gezien, gebeurd zou moeten zijn. In 2012 verklaarde hij dat geen enkele wetenschapper die hij heeft gesproken macro-evolutie begrijpt – onder hen waren Nobelprijswinnaars. In een toespraak op 1 november 2012 antwoordde hij een student:
“… 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 [variatie], I really do. We do this all the time in the lab. I understand this. But when you have speciation changes [soortvorming], 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