Just what is information? Why is so much of it needed for life? And where did it all come from? On this ID The Future, we're pleased to rebroadcast in audio form the latest episode in biochemist Michael Behe's Secrets of the Cell series on the mystery of biological information. In this episode, Behe starts by explaining just what information actually is. From the decision to flip a switch to the thousands of decisions needed to build complex structures, information is everywhere in our world, and it also runs the show in the hidden inner world of cells. Behe describes how cells manage information to build tissues, organs, and systems. He also explains that each cell is part of a massive collaboration of trillions of cells, where the right information at the right time flows through us in the form of chemical and electrical signals, activating different energy modes and keeping our entire body functioning efficiently.
To conclude, Behe invites us to join him for a sobering thought experiment: attempting to build an instruction manual for a human femur bone. Sounds simple enough in theory. It's just a bone, after all! But Behe reminds us of the many layers of complexity inherent in making even a single bone part of a larger, dynamic, and coordinated living system. Complex machines and working structures, says Behe, are possible only through specific code that determines form and function. And our uniform and repeated experience affirms that specified or functional information always arises from an intelligent source, not a strictly material process.
2023 marks the bicentennial of the birth of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Unlike Darwin, Wallace thought that biology, chemistry, and cosmology proclaimed clear evidence of intelligent design. With this episode of ID the Future from the vault, we celebrate the life and achievements of one of the godfathers of intelligent design. Host Michael Keas continues his conversation with historian Michael Flannery about his book Nature’s Prophet: Alfred Russel Wallace and His Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology. When Wallace broke with Darwin in 1869, it was over the nature of human beings. Flannery explains how Wallace became convinced of an “overruling intelligence” in nature — a cause sufficient to explain the special attributes of human beings: their facility with mathematics, their propensity toward abstract thought, their love of dance, their appreciation of music, and more. "All of these uniquely human attributes do not have per se any survival advantage in nature," says Flannery. "So...they can't be relied upon by Darwin's own principle of utility to be things which developed via natural selection. They have to come from some other source." And while some may claim Wallace's view is just a "gap" argument, Flannery notes that it's instead a positive argument calling on a cause sufficient to explain the special attributes of human beings.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part conversation.
The vertebrate blood coagulation system is a delicately regulated marvel that helps maintain the integrity of the circulatory system. Over 20 years ago, Michael Behe argued it was an example of an irreducibly complex system. Does Behe's claim still hold up today? On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid speaks with fellow Scotsman Dr. Jonathan McLatchie about his new article series examining recent claims that an evolutionary pathway has been identified for this incredible process. McLatchie is a fellow and resident biologist at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Biology, a Masters degree in Evolutionary Biology, a second Master’s degree in Medical and Molecular Bioscience, and a PhD in Evolutionary Biology. In their conversation, McLatchie describes how the blood clotting cascade works and why it poses a challenge for evolutionary theory. "Evolution doesn't perform particularly well when you need to make multiple co-dependent mutations," he says. McLatchie explains just how delicately regulated the blood coagulation system is and defends Behe's argument for the cascade, saying it exhibits irreducible complexity in spades. McLatchie also critiques recent proposals by the late biochemist Dr. Russel Doolittle, who claims to show a step-by-step evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation. McLatchie notes that Doolittle helps himself to irreducibly complex components as he attempts to explain its origin, inadvertently helping to confirm Behe's arguments in the process. Read McLatchie's 3-part article series on the blood clotting cascade at evolutionnews.org.
When it comes to biological life, even the simplest single-celled organism is an astonishingly complex multi-part system. Just how simple can a living cell get? On this ID The Future, Eric Anderson hosts another conversation with Dr. Robert Sadler to evaluate the claims of abiogenesis researchers. A recent Nature paper reports on an engineered minimal cell and how it contends with the "forces of evolution" compared to the non-minimal cell from which it was derived. In an attempt to find life's lowest common denominator, experimenters reduced the minimal cell down from 901 genes to 473 genes. The result was a fragile, irregular organism, sheltered and well cared for. But does this reduction in genomic complexity demonstrate evolution or devolution? Is it an unguided process at work or adaptation within the boundaries of an organism's design? "When people speak of evolution, they speak of random changes and natural selection," Sadler says. "But are they really random? Or does the organism have a built-in ability to change the genome to its own benefit?" Sadler puts the paper's results and claims in perspective for us.
2023 marks the bicentennial of the birth of Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Unlike Darwin, Wallace thought that biology, chemistry, and cosmology proclaimed clear evidence of intelligent design. On this episode of ID the Future out of the vault, we're celebrating the life and achievements of one of the godfathers of intelligent design. Host Michael Keas begins a conversation with historian Michael Flannery about his book Nature’s Prophet: Alfred Russel Wallace and His Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology. The book traces the intellectual history of Wallace, who is credited with independently proposing the theory of evolution by natural selection. Darwin insisted on a purely materialistic version of the theory, but as Wallace studied the evidence, he grew convinced that intelligent design also played a role in the history of life, particularly in the origin of humans. Though not a religious person, he broke with the rising scientism of his day to argue that there must be some “overruling intelligence” behind nature. This is Part 1 of a 3-part interview.
Do humans project mathematical order onto nature? Or was it there all along? On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid concludes his conversation with Dr. Melissa Cain Travis about her recent book Thinking God’s Thoughts: Johannes Kepler and the Miracle of Cosmic Comprehensibility.
In Part 3, we look at how Kepler's ideas and work can inform the scientific enterprise today. Many scientists recognize the mystery of cosmic comprehensibility, including such respected voices as Albert Einstein, Sir Roger Penrose, and Paul Davies. Materialists remain agnostic or put it down to chance. But there's a more satisfying explanation, says Travis. "Centuries ago, Kepler already held the trump card. Science itself...can't be explained within the framework of scientific materialism." Genuine human rationality - the very thinking that helped fuel the enormous success of the natural sciences - would not exist if a naturalistic account of the human mind were correct. To get an intellectually satisfying answer for the cosmic comprehensibility we enjoy as humans, we have to think outside the materialist box. Travis explains how we can do that using Kepler's tripartite harmony of archetype, copy, and image. It turns out Keplerian natural theology is more robust than ever before and can help us make sense of the mysteries of our age, including the multiverse, the limits of AI, transhumanism, and more.
This is Part 3 of a 3-part discussion.
Why is the cosmos intellectually accessible to us? On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid continues his conversation with Dr. Melissa Cain Travis about her recent book Thinking God’s Thoughts: Johannes Kepler and the Miracle of Cosmic Comprehensibility.
In Part 2, Travis illuminates Kepler's university years to show us how his study of mathematics and astronomy complemented his interest in theology. We learn about obstacles he overcame during his education and how an unexpected appointment to assist imperial mathematician Tycho Brahe jump-started his career as an astronomer and gave him the tools he needed to develop and advance his revolutionary ideas. Travis unpacks Kepler's major works, from Mysterium Cosmographicum to his magnum opus Harmonices Mundi. She also tracks for us the progression of Kepler's ideas to show us how he became a key figure in the transition from ancient astronomy to a true celestial physics.
This is Part 2 of a 3-part discussion.
Is intelligent design an argument from ignorance? Is it a modern version of creationism? Can its claims be backed up by experimental results? On this ID The Future from the vault, Dr. Stephen Meyer debates Keith Pannell, a chemist at the University of Texas at El Paso and host of the NPR affiliate KTEP program Science Studio. Pannell also brings on biologist Ricardo Bernal as a co-host. We often say that Darwinists are reluctant to debate advocates of intelligent design, but here are two who deserve a tip of the hat.
Pannell and Bernal tow the standard materialist line, but they're civil and give Meyer room to make his case. And as always, Meyer delivers. The discussion was likely an education for these two Texas scientists. Meyer patiently explains how intelligent design is different from creationism in epistemology as well as methodology. He notes that intelligent design uses the same historical methods of reasoning that Charles Darwin pioneered in the Origin of Species. Pannell is convinced that intelligent design is an argument from ignorance. Not at all, says Meyer. It's a positive case based on our uniform and repeated experience as well as on everything we know about the nature of information.
The interview was occasioned by the anniversary of the Dover trial, a topic which comes up in the conversation. Wasn't the debate over intelligent design over after Dover? Not even close, says Meyer. We don't look to federal judges to settle deep, imponderable scientific questions. There are different disciplines for that. Meyer rounds out the discussion by elucidating on molecular machines and the type of information that contemporary Darwinian theory is given credit for without justification.
On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid kicks off a three-episode discussion with Dr. Melissa Cain Travis about her recent book Thinking God's Thoughts: Johannes Kepler and the Miracle of Cosmic Comprehensibility. A fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Travis serves as Affiliate Faculty at Colorado Christian University's Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics, where she teaches courses in the history and philosophy of science. In Part 1, learn why Kepler was instrumental in transforming classical astronomy into a true celestial physics. Like others before him, Kepler perceived a remarkable resonance between the rational order of the material world, mathematics, and the human mind. In response, he developed a three-part cosmic harmony of archetype, copy, and image to explain this unity. Travis unpacks his tripartite harmony for us.
But that's not all. To give us a richer appreciation for Kepler's work, Travis also traces the intellectual pedigree of Kepler's ideas all the way back to the ancients, from pre-Socratic philosopher Pythagoras through the Early Christian era, the Middle Ages, and on through Kepler's own university years. It's a fascinating journey that shows how long humans have pondered the design of the universe and the uncanny connection between the natural world and the mathematics that lie at the heart of it.
Kepler's revolutionary discoveries in natural philosophy and his unique insights into natural theology have inspired generations of scientists and philosophers. As we continue to discover new evidence of design in life and the universe, Travis argues that Kepler's work is as relevant today as ever.
This is Part 1 of a 3-part discussion.
On this episode of ID the Future from the archive, host and biologist Ray Bohlin interviews biophysicist Cornelius Hunter, author of Darwin’s God, about an article in the journal Science concerning a virus invasion of E. coli bacteria. The article subtitle announces “Natural Selection Caught in the Act,” and suggests that an impressive instance of unguided evolution has been directly witnessed. Not so fast, Hunter says. The results were intelligently designed (by the lab scientists), he notes, and the changes are less impressive than they may appear at first glance. Hunter also explains protein-protein binding and counters evolutionist Dennis Venema to argue that the way the vertebrate immune system drives change is not at all analogous to the evolutionary process of random mutations and natural selection. Moreover, Hunter says, the mammalian immune system is itself an enormous challenge for evolutionary theory. Unfortunately, it's common for studies such as this one to be hyped up by the scientific community and the establishment media. "Evolutionists are driven by non-scientific factors, non-scientific influences," says Hunter. "There is a desire for the theory to be true in spite of the science, not because of the science."