December 27, 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Pasteur, the French scientist whose scientific breakthroughs have saved millions of lives, and whose work on microbes sounded the death knell of the idea of spontaneous generation. On this episode of ID the Future, biologist Ann Gauger walks listeners through the triumphs, flaws, and tragedies in the life of this extraordinary individual. In the nineteenth century, it was widely believed that the spontaneous generation of life from non-life was common and unremarkable, since it was thought that spontaneous generation of worms, mold, and other life forms occurred all the time in rotting meat and dirty rags. Pasteur constructed an experiment demonstrating that these “spontaneously” arising worms and such in fact sprang from microorganisms contained in the dust of the air. In this way Pasteur lent decisive support to the view summarized in the Latin phrase, “Omne vivum ex vivo”—all life is from life. This is sometimes referred to as the law of biogenesis and holds that organisms do not spontaneously arise in nature from non-life. Thanks in no small part to Pasteur’s work in this area, the origin of the first life on Earth came to be seen as a powerful mystery for scientists committed to the chance origin of the first life, a mystery deepened by discoveries in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries showing that even the simplest single-celled life is vastly more sophisticated than even our most advanced manmade factories. There is so much more to the fascinating life and work of Louis Pasteur, from his pioneering and life-saving work on vaccines and the special relationship he had with his wife to his Christian faith that bore him up through the death of three of his children. Tune in to learn more about this complex man of science and faith.
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, internal medicine specialist Dr. Geoff Simmons speaks with host Andrew McDiarmid about his recent Evolution News article on the body’s response to the coronavirus, our immune system. It comprises an enormously complex enterprise with adaptive memory for millions of pathogens and the ability to keep on learning more. Researchers study it to learn how to create vaccines for diseases like COVID-19. Their work is one of intelligent design from start to finish. But, Simmons says, we ought to recognize that it starts with studying systems in our bodies that are even more intelligently designed. One might object that if our immune system were intelligently designed, it would be utterly immune to all pathogens, but such an objection makes theological or philosophical assumptions about the proper intentions of any would-be designer of life. The objection also overlooks the fact that we routinely recognize intelligent design in objects that are masterfully designed and yet not invulnerable to attack.
On this episode of ID the Future, Ray Bohlin interviews Cornelius Hunter about a recent article in Science on virus invasion of bacteria. Hunter explains protein-protein binding and how the immune system is not analogous to evolution. Listen in as these two biologists discuss criticisms of neo-Darwinism!
Professor of biology Dr. Ralph Seelke conducts lab research at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, that focuses on what can evolution really do? In this short conversation he explains the difference between microevolution and macroevolution based on his primary research in experimental evolution. His research has resulted in seven presentations at regional or national scientific meetings since 2001 on the capabilities and limitations of evolution in producing new functions in bacteria.