The Mystery of Life’s Origin

Charles B. Thaxton | 486 pages | $24.95 (retail)

About the Book

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. Release Date: January 27, 2020.

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About the Book

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. Release Date: January 27, 2020.

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

About the Authors

Charles B. Thaxton

Charles B. Thaxton is a Fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his PhD 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 is co-author of The Mystery of Life’s Origin and also The Soul of Science (with Nancy Pearcey). He has published technical articles in Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, Journal of Scientific Instruments, and Journal of Cell Biology. He has lectured widely at American universities, including Princeton, Yale, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, and Rice University. He has lectured internationally at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science, the Russian Academy of Science, and in various universities in Mongolia, Romania, Poland, Hungary, and the former Czechoslovakia. He has held appointments at Slovak Technical University, the Biomathematical Institute, and at Charles University in Prague, where he was a Templeton scholar in the department of natural sciences.

Walter L. Bradley

Walter L. Bradley is a Distinguished Fellow of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute and a Fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He received his BS in Engineering Physics and his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, both at the University of Texas (Austin). He taught for eight years as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, for 24 years as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU), and for ten years as a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. During his time at TAMU he served as the Director of the Polymer Technology Center, as Department Head of Mechanical Engineering, and as Division Head of Offshore Composite Materials in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Offshore Technology Research Center. He has published over 150 refereed journal articles. He has given invited lectures at Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown University, University of Wisconsin, and many other institutions.

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.

David Klinghoffer

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 and Culture. Klinghoffer is the author of six books, including The Lord Will Gather Me In: My Journey to Jewish OrthodoxyThe Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism, Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History, and with Senator Joe Lieberman, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. A former Senior Editor and Literary Editor at National Review magazine, he has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. He has been a feature reporter and movie and TV critic for The Washington Times. He is the editor of several books, including Signature of ControversyDebating Darwin’s Doubt, and The Unofficial Guide to Cosmos.

James Tour

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.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller is Research Coordinator for the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He holds a BS in Physics with a minor in Engineering from MIT and a PhD 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 TheStartup, a virtual incubator dedicated to bringing innovation to the marketplace.

Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute and has served on the faculties of Iowa State University, Grove City College, and Ball State University. He received his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Washington, and he has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Washington. His work has received funding from both NASA and the National Science Foundation. Gonzalez is a world-class expert on the astrophysical requirements for habitability and a co-founder of the concept of the “Galactic Habitable Zone.” Gonzalez has published nearly 90 articles in refereed astronomy and astrophysical journals. In 2004 he co-authored The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery with Jay W. Richards. He also is co-author of the second edition of Observational Astronomy, published by Cambridge University Press.

Jonathan Wells

Jonathan Wells is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He 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 has earned two PhDs, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and lectured around the world. He has published articles in DevelopmentProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USABioSystems, The Scientist, and The American Biology Teacher. His books include Charles Hodge’s Critique of DarwinismIcons of Evolution: Why Much of What We Teach about Evolution Is WrongThe Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, The Myth of Junk DNA, and Zombie Science. He is also co-author with William Dembski of The Design of Life.

Stephen C. Meyer

Stephen C. Meyer is Director and co-founder of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. He previously served as a professor at Whitworth University and Palm Beach Atlantic University and as a geophysicist with ARCO in Texas. He received his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. His books include Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (a New York Times-bestseller) and Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (named a Book of the Year by the Times Literary Supplement). Meyer’s other books include Darwinism, Design and Public Education (co-editor, Michigan State University Press) and the textbook Explore Evolution (co-author, Hill House Publishers, 2007). He has published articles in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The National Post, The Daily Telegraph, and The Los Angeles Times. He has appeared on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and many other media outlets.

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