ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast
Author

Paul Nelson

ribosome-translating-mrna-into-a-polypeptide-chain-stockpack-adobe-stock
Ribosome translating mRNA into a polypeptide chain

Orphan Proteins Spell Trouble for AlphaFold 2

On this ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson further explores AlphaFold 2, a cutting edge computer program from Google’s DeepMind designed to rapidly suss out important secrets in the realm of proteins, indispensable molecular biological workhorses that come in thousands of different shapes and sizes. Nelson enthuses about AlphaFold 2 but also explains why he is convinced that AlphaFold’s creators have hit a series of immovable obstacles. The watchword here—orphans. Tune in to learn what these mischievous orphan proteins are about, and what they suggest for AlphaFold, evolution, and intelligent design.

protein
Chain of amino acid or bio molecules called protein - 3d illustration

Powerful Protein Folding Algorithm AlphaFold Foiled by Singletons

Today’s ID the Future spotlights AlphaFold, an artificial intelligence program in the news for its impressive breakthroughs at predicting a protein’s 3D structure from its amino acid sequence. Philosopher of Biology Paul Nelson walks listeners through the importance of this “amazing breakthrough,” as he describes it in a recent Evolution News article; but don’t uncork the champagne bottles just yet. The reason, according to Nelson, is that while proteins, protein sequences, and protein folding promise to reveal much that is still mysterious in molecular biology, we now know that biological information involves far more than just an organism’s proteome—that is, far more than the full suite of proteins expressed by an organism. Nelson uses analogies to manmade machines and cognates Read More ›

galaxy parabola
Collision galaxies. Three-dimensional parabola with collision of galaxies. Universe with stars and stars. Starry sky

Paul Nelson on Freeing Minds Trapped in a Naturalistic Parabola

On this ID the Future from the vault, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson continues sharing with host Andrew McDiarmid about pursuing intelligent design theory in a science culture committed to naturalism. As Nelson puts it here, it’s about trying to communicate with scientists who are trapped in a “naturalistic parabola.” That parabola sets the rule and defines the boundaries for science: naturalistic answers only. And it extends to infinity, so no finite number of objections or counter-examples can force naturalistic scientists out of it. Nelson, however, offers an alternative strategy for drawing them out of the parabola.

radio dishes seti
The Very Large Array (VLA) radio-astronomy antennas, in New Mexico, is one of the most impressive observatories in the world. The Sun was piercing through after a major storm during a public tour.

Carl Sagan’s Love/Hate Relationship with Intelligent Design

On today’s ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson explores an intriguing tension in the thinking of famous scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan concerning his agnosticism shading into atheism on the one hand, and on the other hand his embrace of certain ideas consistent with the theory of intelligent design. As Nelson is quick to clarify, if Sagan had lived to see the rise of the contemporary intelligent design movement, he probably would have rejected it, particularly its theistic implications. And yet, Nelson says, Sagan’s thinking and arguments laid out in his Gifford lectures and in his science fiction novel Contact strongly support the idea that intelligent design can be detected. Nelson goes further, saying that if we Read More ›

shift blame
The student is sitting at the table and is looking for excuses for not being ready for the lesson. Photo by Dmitriy on Adobe Stock

How Universal Common Descent Survives Failed Predictions

On today’s ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson discusses his chapter in a recent Harvest House anthology edited by host Casey Luskin, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith. Nelson says the theory of universal common descent, a key component of modern evolutionary theory, has generated multiple predictions that have failed. The prediction he discusses here is that there would turn out to be a single universal genetic code, since that’s what we should expect if all life on earth is descended from the last universal common ancestor (LUCA). Findings over the past three decades have  proven that prediction spectacularly wrong. How does the theory of universal common descent shrug off this contrary empirical finding? The trick for Read More ›

Galapagos giant tortoise

Paul Nelson on Listening to Nature for Her Answers

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson concludes his talk with host Andrew McDiarmid on what it takes to converse effectively with scientists who are trapped in a naturalistic parabola — that is, researchers who draw their conclusions from naturalism’s authority rather than following the evidence wherever it leads. Nelson urges us to keep the third party in the conversation: Nature herself. We listen to nature through experiment, he says, and warns against the message from scientists such as CalTech’s Sean Carroll who have suggested that testing is “overrated.” If we listen and test, nature can keep revealing herself in surprising ways, says Nelson, which is what makes science so fun.

galaxy parabola
Collision galaxies. Three-dimensional parabola with collision of galaxies. Universe with stars and stars. Starry sky

Paul Nelson on Freeing Minds Trapped in a Naturalistic Parabola

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson continues sharing with host Andrew McDiarmid about pursuing intelligent design theory in a science culture committed to naturalism. Or as Nelson puts it this time, it’s about trying to communicate with scientists who are trapped in a naturalistic parabola. That parabola sets the rule and defines the boundaries for science: naturalistic answers only. And it extends to infinity, so no finite number of objections or counter-examples can force naturalistic scientists out of it. Nelson, however, offers an alternative strategy for drawing them out of the parabola.

university-of-pittsburgh-pennsylvania-in-north-oakland-stockpack-adobe-stock.jpg
University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in North Oakland

Design in a Naturalistic Culture

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson speaks with host Andrew McDiarmid about pursuing intelligent design theory in a naturalistic culture. Nelson springboards from his appreciation for his University of Pittsburgh mentor Adolf Grünbaum, with whom he shared the kind of friendship that can come from caring deeply about the same things, even if taking different positions on them. He speaks of what it means to hold a minority position, and some of the potential pitfalls that come with holding a majority position — and the danger we can all face of seeking polemical advantage rather than truth.

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Marine iguana with blue footed boobies, booby, Sula nebouxii and Amblyrhynchus cristatus, on Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, South America

Paul Nelson Visits the Galapagos Islands, Pt. 3

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson wraps discussion of his recent visit to the Galapagos Islands, sharing lessons he learned there. He says Darwin was right to see natural history as crucial to understanding biology; but he was wrong in making it the be-all and end-all. Nelson then limns a picture of a day when scientists frankly concede the limits of evolution and the necessity of intelligent design in the history of life, and with the ID/evolution war behind them, can explore without distraction the fertile ground of integrating the aspects of evolutionary theory that actually work into a larger design framework.

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Sierra Negra Volcano - Galapagos

Paul Nelson Visits the Galapagos Islands, Pt. 2

On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson continues his discussion with host Andrew McDiarmid about Nelson’s recent visit to the Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin. Nelson explains how Darwin was right — partly. Darwin urged biologists to consider the history of a plant or animal, an idea that was much neglected in the work of his predecessors. As Darwin’s experience on the Galapagos showed, and as Nelson’s experience there echoed, history must be part of our explanation for how species and populations have become the way they are today. At the same time, there are demonstrated limits to evolutionary change, Nelson argues, and so natural history alone cannot be the entire explanation for Read More ›