On this episode of ID the Future, host Jay Richards interviews historian of science Michael Keas about a new documentary claiming that Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the solar system “demoted” humans from the place of honor at the center of everything. Neil deGrasse Tyson champions this persistent myth in episode 8 of the new National Geographic series Cosmos: Possible Worlds. The reality is quite different. As Keas explains, in Copernicus’s day, the Earth was thought to be at the bottom of the universe, the “sump” where all the filth collected, while the starry heavens were considered the place of honor. Keas and Richards trace the history of the demotion myth and discuss how Copernicus, Kepler, and other luminaries of the scientific revolution saw the Copernican revolution very differently, as a glorious promotion of humanity’s place in the cosmos.
On the episode of ID the Future we bring you a production by Discovery Institute about C.S. Lewis and Intelligent Design. With contributions by Discovery Institute’s John West and philosophers Victor Reppert and Angus Menuge, we hear about Lewis’s early doubts about God based in part on an argument from undesign or “bad design” in nature, and how he moved from this position to developing multiple arguments for intelligent design. Another contribution he made to the intelligent design project wasn’t a specific argument but the example he set. As John West explains near the end of the episode, one of his greatest contributions was a commitment to free inquiry and open debate, one he modeled while a professor at Oxford University.
On this episode of ID the Future, host Andrew McDiarmid draws on an essay at Evolution News & Science Today to explore some intricate optimized insect designs that are inspiring human engineers and raise the question, could evolution have done that? Cicadas and dragonflies use an exquisitely engineered “bed of nails” on their wings to disarm and neutralize bacteria. Butterflies and bird feathers also use this trick. There are fruit flies that have multiple navigation systems, complete with error correction for hard turns. And the sea skater insect is able to walk on water and launch itself explosively thanks to an impressive combination of engineering marvels. Did evolution really bring all those design factors together? Or was something else required — intelligence and foresight?
On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid continues his conversation with Robert Waltzer, chair of the department of biology at Belhaven University and co-author of Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell, on three big problems faced by naturalistic evolutionary theory. First, it appears that science has turned up several instances of what is known as irreducible complexity, something that Darwin himself said would falsify his theory if ever discovered. Second, various proposed “trees of life” conflict with each other, a problem that has grown worse as additional evidence and methods have arisen, a trend that makes theories of common descent difficult to sustain. And third, we know of no case where information is generated or improved without intelligent action behind it. Evolutionists still hold on to their theories, but why are they not more open at least to debate and criticism? Professor Waltzer suggests multiple possibilities.
On this episode of ID the Future, biologist and professor Robert Waltzer talks with host Andrew McDiarmid about Waltzer’s chapter in the new Discovery Institute Press volume Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. Waltzer’s chapter covers some key terms in the evolution/ID conversation that are often misunderstood or misused. These include the word “evolution” itself, “change over time,” “common descent,” and “natural selection.” He offers quick definitions and explains some of the confusion surrounding them. Waltzer also describes an encouraging success story of his about fostering open dialogue and exploration of the evidence for design in nature.
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.
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.
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.
On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid concludes his conversation with Eric Anderson, one of the co-authors of the new Discovery Institute Press book Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. Today they talk about Anderson’s second of two chapters in the book, where he explores the challenges of building a self-replicating 3D printer, and the light this sheds on the origin-of-life community’s search for their Holy Grail, a self-reproducing molecule that could have kickstarted the evolutionary process on the early earth. In their conversation, Anderson suggests that there are engineering principles involved in the origin of life that may mean that a naturalistic origin of life is less like winning a long-odds lottery, and more like the chances of an inventor successfully building a perpetual motion machine. That is, it isn’t just a tough probability problem; there are reasons for concluding that it’s impossible in principle. Also, Anderson notes, the early Earth wasn’t the kinder, gentler place for simple self-replicators that Darwin or Dawkins has imagined.
On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid interviews Eric Anderson, one of the co-authors of the new book Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. The two discuss Eric’s chapters on the origin-of-life problem. There’s the problem of generating the information required of the first life form. And there’s another problem, one Anderson uses his engineering background to explore — the insuperable challenges to generating a self-replicating molecule, a hypothetical entity at the heart of some recent attempts to render plausible the evolution of non-life into cellular life.