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The Mystery of Life’s Origin

The Continuing ControversyWalter Bradley, Jonathan Wells, Guillermo Gonzalez, Brian Miller, James Tour, David Klinghoffer, Charles Thaxton and Roger L. Olsen

The origin of life from non-life remains one of the most enduring mysteries of modern science. The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy investigates how close scientists are to solving that mystery and explores what we are learning about the origin of life from current research in chemistry, physics, astrobiology, biochemistry, and more. The book includes an updated version of the classic text The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, and Roger Olsen, plus new chapters on the current state of the debate by synthetic organic chemist James Tour at Rice University, author of more than 700 research publications; philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer, author of Signature in  the Cell; astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet; biologist Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution; and physicist Brian Miller. The book also includes a new historical introduction by David Klinghoffer describing the history and impact of the original book on the debate over origins.

Praise for the Original Edition

A valuable summary of the evidence against the chemical evolution of life… very well thought-out and clearly written.

Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

An important contribution to the origin of life field.

Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, New York University and author of Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth

Cogent, original, compelling.

Dean Kenyon, Professor Emeritus of Biology, San Francisco State University

Walter Bradley

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Walter L. Bradley received his B.S. degree in Engineering Science (Physics) in 1965 and his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 1968, both from the University of Texas (Austin).  He subsequently taught at the Colorado School of Mines, Texas A&M University as Full Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and for 10 years at Baylor University as a Distinguished Professor. His research area has been Materials Science and Engineering, with a focus on the mechanical properties of plastics and polymeric (plastic) composite materials, fracture and life prediction. He has received more than $7 million in research funding and published more than 150 refereed technical papers and book chapters.  He has been honored by the American Society for Materials and the Society of Plastics Engineers as Educator of the Year. His most recent work has focused on converting agricultural waste into functional fillers for engineering plastics to provide new economic opportunities for poor farmers in developing countries.

Jonathan Wells

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Wells has received two Ph.D.s, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, he has previously worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and continues to lecture on the subject.

Guillermo Gonzalez

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Guillermo Gonzalez is an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Ball State University and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, the Templeton Foundation, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation.

Brian Miller

Research Coordinator, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Brian Miller is Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He holds a B.S. in physics with a minor in engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University. He speaks internationally on the topics of intelligent design and the impact of worldviews on society. He also has consulted on organizational development and strategic planning, and he is a technical consultant for Ideashares, a virtual incubator dedicated to bringing innovation to the marketplace.

James Tour

Professor of Chemistry, of Computer Science, and of Materials Science and Nano-Engineering
James Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and Nano-Engineering at Rice University. A synthetic organic chemist, he received his BS in Chemistry from Syracuse University, his PhD in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. He has served on the faculty of the University of South Carolina and as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Tour has over 700 research publications and over 130 patent families. He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015 and was listed in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters in 2014. He has been named “Scientist of the Year” by R&D Magazine and was ranked one of the Top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade by a Thomson Reuters citations per publication index survey in 2009. The same year he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He won the Feynman Prize in Experimental Nanotechnology in 2008, the NASA Space Act Award in 2008 for his development of carbon nanotube reinforced elastomers, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society for his achievements in organic chemistry in 2007.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.

Charles Thaxton

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Charles Thaxton received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Iowa State University. He completed two post-doctoral programs, one in history of science at Harvard University and the second in the molecular biology laboratories of Brandeis University. He has specialized in the origin of life and in science’s relationship with Christianity through history.

Roger L. Olsen

Roger L. Olsen is a Senior Vice President in the Denver office of the global consulting, engineering, and construction firm CDM Smith Inc. He received his BS in Chemistry and PhD in Geochemistry from the Colorado School of Mines. He is a Board Certified Environmental Scientist by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, one of the first twenty scientists to be so certified. He has served as an Instructor at the Colorado School of Mines, a Research Chemist at Rockwell International, and a Project Geochemist at D’Appolonia Consulting Engineers/International Technology Corporation. He is author of dozens of published scientific papers and routinely makes presentations at scientific and engineering conferences around the world. He is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of geochemistry and environmental chemistry and has testified as an expert witness.