ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast
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amino acids

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Laboratory, Chemistry, Formula.
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Why Hands-On Chemistry Experiments Can’t Simulate A Prebiotic Earth

When scientists claim they have simulated early earth chemistry to create life from non-life, are they being honest? This episode of ID The Future is the fourth and final installment in a series of conversations between philosopher of science Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, and Dr. James Tour, a world-leading synthetic organic chemist at Rice University. Dr. Tour has recently been engaged in a series of back-and-forth responses to attacks on his work from YouTube science communicator Dave Farina. This has given Tour a new opportunity to critique experts in the field of abiogenesis and allows an interested public to better evaluate both sides of the argument. In Part 4, Meyer and Tour evaluate the work of chemist Bruce Lipshutz; specifically his work designing surfactant molecules that enable amide/peptide bonds. By itself, Lipshutz’s work developing synthetic techniques for doing chemistry in water is interesting and has value. But for those tempted to think that his work validates chemical evolutionary theories of the origin of life, Tour has bad news. Peptides don’t form in aqueous environments like water. A realistic prebiotic environment would not be capable of producing the reactions necessary to form proteins. And Lipshutz acknowledges this. In their conversation, Tour and Meyer discuss how Lipshutz applies hands-on chemistry that bears no resemblance to the likely conditions of a prebiotic earth. If anything, the work of Lipshutz and others in origin of life research is actually simulating the need for intelligent agency to move simple chemicals in a life-friendly direction. Says Meyer, "Even the modest movement they get towards life seems to be intelligently designed at each step of the way, and even the vocabulary will sometimes reveal that: ribozyme engineer, designer surfactants. Very curious!" Watch the series on video at Dr. Meyer's YouTube channel: @DrStephenMeyer Read More ›
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american football field goal post Photo by phonlamaiphoto on Adobe Stock

James Tour: The Goalposts are Racing Away from the Origin-of-Life Community

On today’s ID the Future distinguished nanoscientist James Tour explains to host Eric Metaxas why the origin-of-life community is further than ever from solving the mystery of life’s origin, and how the public has gotten the false impression that scientists can synthesize life in the lab. Tour explains that origin-of-life scientists aren’t even close to intelligently synthesizing life from non-life in the lab. The problem, Tour says, is that some leading origin-of-life researchers give the impression they are right on the cusp of solving the problem. Not so, Tour says. He offers the analogy of someone claiming, in the year 1500, that he has the know-how to build a ship to travel to the moon, when no one yet knows Read More ›

graphene
3d Illustration structure of the graphene or carbon surface, abstract nanotechnology hexagonal geometric form close-up, concept graphene atomic structure, concept graphene molecular structure.
3d Illustration structure of the graphene or carbon surface, abstract nanotechnology hexagonal geometric form close-up, concept graphene atomic structure, concept graphene molecular structure. Photo by rost9 on Adobe Stock

James Tour Talks Nanotech at Socrates in the City

Today’s ID the Future features the first part of a conversation between James Tour and Socrates in the City host Eric Metaxas on Tour’s astonishing work in nanotechnology and on the topic “How Did Life Come into Being?” Tour is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and Nanoengineering at Rice University. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading nano-scientists. This event took place at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas, and is presented here with permission of Eric Metaxas. Here in Part 1, Tour explains some of the inventions coming out of Tour’s Rice University lab, including molecular cars and astonishing graphene Read More ›

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Ribosome translating mRNA into a polypeptide chain
Ribosome translating mRNA into a polypeptide chain Photo by Juan Gärtner on Adobe Stock

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
Chain of amino acid or bio molecules called protein - 3d illustration Photo by Christoph Burgstedt on Adobe Stock
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 ›

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Achilles injury on running outdoors. Man holding Achilles tendon by hands close-up and suffering with pain. Sprain ligament or Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles injury on running outdoors. Man holding Achilles tendon by hands close-up and suffering with pain. Sprain ligament or Achilles tendonitis. Photo by Oleg Breslavtsev on Adobe Stock

Energy Harnessing: An Achilles Heel for Origin of Life

Origin-of-life specialist Rob Stadler joins today’s ID the Future to discuss a new Long Story Short science video short. The video investigates a special problem that faces all naturalistic origin-of-life scenarios: To be viable, a cell must have sophisticated machinery, including ATP synthase, to turn raw energy into constructive energy. But how could prebiotic chemicals harness raw energy on the way to evolving into a viable self-reproducing cell without first having the sophisticated machinery to harness raw energy and convert it to useful work? Are the energy sources that have been proposed for chemical evolution realistic? In his conversation with host Eric Anderson, Stadler argues that, no, they aren’t. This isn’t the sort of thing that mindless natural processes can 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
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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 ›

lab beaker
Lab beaker
Lab beaker

A New Flaw in the Miller-Urey Experiment, and a Few Old

On today’s ID the Future, biologist Jonathan Wells and host Eric Anderson discuss a recently discovered problem with the famous Miller-Urey experiment, long ballyhooed in biology textbooks as dramatic experimental evidence for the naturalistic origin of life. The newly uncovered problem involves the glassware used in the experiment. It is an interesting finding, but as Wells explains, it is far from the first problem discovered with the experiment, nor the most serious one. While biology textbooks often present the 1952 experiment by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey as a key icon of evolution, even those origin-of-life researchers who hope to one day to discover a credible naturalistic scenario for the origin of the first living cell concede that the experiment Read More ›

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New Animated Video Dismantles Origin-of-Life Hype

Today’s ID the Future spotlights a new origin-of-life video showing that researchers aren’t anywhere close to creating life from non-life, despite the fact most Americans seem to believe otherwise. In the episode, host Eric Anderson interviews Stairway to Life co-author Rob Stadler, who helped create the new Long Story Short animated video. Stadler and Anderson explore how origin-of-life papers and popular media reports have misled the public, evidenced by a survey underscored by Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour. Then they discuss several daunting origin-of-life hurdles beyond the synthesis of key chemical building blocks. These are hurdles significant enough that each alone may doom the idea of life having once emerged from non-life spontaneously. Indeed, it is now a Read More ›

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3D silhouette of a fantasy unicorn against a space night sky Photo by Kirsty Pargeter on Adobe Stock

Origin of Life’s Purple Unicorn: Protocells

On today’s ID the Future, host Eric Anderson sits down with Rob Stadler, co-author with Change Tan of The Stairway To Life: An Origin-Of-Life Reality Check. The topic of discussion–protocells. Stadler notes that the simplest existing single-celled organisms are far too sophisticated to have emerged through a blind process of prebiotic evolution. He further notes that this is widely acknowledged in the origin-of-life community, but those committed to a purely materialistic origin of the first life have a fallback explanation–protocells. That is, early biological structures far simpler than anything we find today. An intriguing hypothesis, but the problems with it, according to Stadler, are legion. Tune in as Stadler and Anderson walk through several lines of evidence that appear to Read More ›