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

Paul Nelson

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.

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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 ›

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Flightless cormorant aka Galapagos cormorants - animals and wildlife of Galapagos by sea on Fernandina island, Espinoza Point, Galapagos Islands.

Paul Nelson Visits Darwin’s Galapagos Islands, Pt. 1

On this episode of ID the Future, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and philosopher of biology Paul Nelson tells about his surprise 60th birthday gift from his wife, a trip to the “scientific Mecca,” the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin, whose own birthday lands today, devoted a big portion of his notes and field books from his Beagle voyage to these amazing islands, where species can be found that exist nowhere else on earth, and where from Darwin’s day until now, the creatures have no fear of humans. These unusual creatures have history, Nelson reminds us, and that history needs explaining. This is the first of three podcasts; there will be more to come.

Storey's Way and the main entrance of Churchill College, Cambridge in June 2019.
Storey's Way and the main entrance of Churchill College, Cambridge in June 2019.

First the Royal Society Meeting, Now Cambridge’s “Evolution Evolves”: Paul Nelson Reports

On this episode of ID the Future, intelligent design proponent and philosopher of biology Paul Nelson reports on a recent conference he attended at the University of Cambridge, “Evolution Evolving: An International Conference on the Evolving Mechanisms and Theoretical Framework of Evolutionary Biology.” Scientists from around the globe gathered under the operating assumption that the modern evolutionary synthesis is sorely lacking. As with many of the biologists who attended the 2016 Royal Society meeting “New Trends in Evolutionary Biology,” many of the attendees of the Cambridge event find themselves disenchanted with Neo-Darwinism and weighing their options. They’re still not looking outside the walls of the “City of Naturalism,” Nelson says, but it’s fascinating and encouraging to witness the increased openness Read More ›

ruby throated hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Paul Nelson on Methodological Naturalism and the Big New Theistic Evolution Anthology

On the episode of ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson discusses his contribution to the major new volume Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, and in particular an essay that asks the question, should the study of evolution depend on methodological naturalism? Nelson explores how the rules of science have changed and can change again. And he argues that the rule of methodological naturalism artificially limits historical biology — its practice and its discoveries.

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Mike Keas and Paul Nelson on the New Theistic Evolution Book and Common Descent

On the episode of ID the Future, historian of science Mike Keas interviews philosopher of biology Paul Nelson on his contribution to the important new volume Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, focusing his discussion on the theory of universal common descent. How do we know it’s true? How would we know if it isn’t? And do our philosophical commitments allow us to listen to the evidence nature provides?

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