The similarities are quite striking between YEC and materialist arguments when examined in detail. I do not mention this fact to demean either position, but the comparison is important to recognize. The amount of data related to the age of the earth is certainly greater, but the technical challenges faced by YEC and materialist OOL accounts for specific pieces of data are comparable. Let me give a few specific examples.
Radiometric Dating/Design Inference for Minimally Complex Cell (MCC)
A large amount of radiometric dating indicates that the universe and earth are billions of years old. The YEC response is that anomalies exist in certain dates, so these examples justify for some of them that all dating examples can be rejecting.
Similarly, the positive evidence in a MCC seems quite clear to anyone who is not viewing it through a materialist lens. Those who reject the appearance of design often point to some features in life whose design logic is not immediately obvious, and such examples justify in their minds the rejection of all appearances of foresight, coordination, top-down engineering, and goal direction.
Green River Formation/Protein Formation
The Green River Formation consists of millions of alternating layers of sediment which points to a very long process of formation. The YEC response is to propose some peculiar event, such as a perfectly orchestrated series of water movements, generated the layers. I have not actually studied the details of their theories.
Similarly, the formation of proteins requires that some miraculous set of conditions generated large quantities of a variety of homochiral amino acids. Then, some other miraculous process concentrated and purified them. Then, they arrived in some lagoon or another environment
which went through countless perfectly orchestrated dry/wet cycles
which caused the amino acids to combine in just the right way into long chains
which just happened to have the right sequences to fold into the needed proteins.
This set of circumstances repeated for each required protein. Then, they all migrated long distances to the same microenvironment of a developing protocell with a membrane with the right properties.
Dating of Ocean Floor/DNA Encoding-Decoding
The ocean floor can be dated at various distances from the point of formation. The radiometric dates coincide with the dates inferred from the time required to move from the point of the formation based on the plate velocity. This correlation is difficult to explain in a YEC framework. However, a YEC proponent would argue that some other mechanism correlated the levels of radiometric isotopes with the distance.
Similarly, the encoding of amino acid sequences in proteins into nucleotide sequences in DNA is difficult to imagine since no chemical connection exists between an amino acid and a coding triplet. One has to imagine something along the lines of a protocell filled with proteins filling with nucleotide triplets. Then, the proteins unfolded and somehow caused the right codons to bind together in the right order into DNA. Then, all of the translation machinery appeared. Eventually, full cellular replication emerged. The last two steps involve the acquisition of dozens of new complex proteins, tRNAs, and mitochondria.
The OOL scenarios proposed to overcome these hurdles are no more plausible than the YEC scenarios. When both groups encounter technical challenges, they simply state that future studies may resolve them. And, they both greatly downplay evidence which challenges their positions.
Someone like a James Tour has chosen to play by the rules of the secular academy, so he must always state that some materialist explanation may eventually be discovered. I fully support his decision to play by those rules since not doing so would prevent him from accomplishing his work. The vast majority of design proponents also play by those rules, so they never mention intelligent design but simply let that perspective guide their research. For instance, ID proponents were the first to argue that most of human DNA was not junk and orphan genes would be prevalent throughout life. They also were early adopters of applying engineering in biology and Shapiro’s ideas of natural genetic engineering.
The challenge is that scientists are trained to see the world through a very powerful materialistic philosophical lens, so recognizing the evidence for design becomes impossible. For instance, when paleontologist Gunter Bechly encountered ID literature, he first mocked it. He then decided to read through it, but he had to carefully examine every argument and analyze the philosophical assumptions for many years. He needed much time and reflection to detoxify from being marinated in philosophical materialism for decades. Once he broke free from that lens, the evidence for design became crystal clear. Do not be surprised if Jim Tour also fully endorses ID after he retires. He would then have the time to carefully study the arguments.