ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast

constrained optimization

humpback whale flipper
A whale breaching water.

The Pentadactyl Whale Flipper: An Engineering Masterstroke

Does the five-digit design of the whale flipper, curiously akin to the five-digit design of so many different kinds of animal limbs, point to evolutionary common descent? That was Charles Darwin’s argument, and the argument is a staple of high school and college biology textbooks. But no, says distinguished British engineer Stuart Burgess on today’s ID the Future in his conversation with host Eric Anderson. The repeated recurrence of the pentadactyl form is better explained by reference to the idea of common design. That is, a master designer reused the pentadactyl design theme because it achieves an optimal trade-off between strength on the one hand (no pun intended) and suppleness or dexterity on the other. And yes, Burgess says, the giant flipper on a whale needs to be not just incredibly strong but also supple to allow the whale to maneuver adroitly through the water. This reuse of a good design concept shouldn’t surprise us, Burgess says. Just as human engineers reuse the concepts of the wheel, axle, nut and bolt, or pulley, so too the designer of life reuses shrewd engineering solutions in widely different applications, in each case adapting the design concept for the particular use. Burgess also rebuts the claim that whales have vestigial pelvic bones from a land-dwelling ancestor. He then moves from the big to the small, pointing to more positive evidence in favor of common design (over Darwinian common descent) in marsupial and placental rats and in a protein machine best known for one job but that has been found to “moonlight” doing a very different job in a very different biological context. Tune in to hear Burgess unpack the full argument. The conversation took place at the 2023 Conference on Engineering in Living Systems (CELS) in Denton, Texas. Read More ›
3d rendered medically accurate illustration of a sprinter

Engineering, not Evolution, Explains the Body

The groundbreaking recent book Your Designed Body is the focus of today’s ID the Future. Here in Part 2 of a two-part conversation with host Wesley J. Smith, the two authors, systems engineer Steve Laufmann and physician Howard Glicksman, delve deeper into the exquisite, multi-layered fine tuning of the human body. They point to essential systems within systems within systems—irreducible complexity cubed, if you will. They also respond to the charge that aspects of the human body are poorly designed and, therefore, are supposedly better explained by the blind process of Darwinian evolution. Laufmann identifies five common errors that Darwinists make when pushing this bad-design argument. All of the errors involve an ignorance of key engineering principles, he says, one of them being a failure to consider the principle of constrained optimization. This episode is reposted at ID the Future by permission of Wesley J. Smith and the Humanize podcast. Read More ›
Green sea turtle breathing

Hank Hanegraaff and Animal Algorithms Author Eric Cassell, Pt. 2

On today’s ID the Future, radio host Hank Hanegraaff continues his conversation with Animal Algorithms author Eric Cassell. Here they look at more insects with strikingly sophisticated innate behavior, suggesting intricate algorithms encoded into their brains from birth, all of which cannot be effectively explained by reference to Darwinian evolution. Cassell and Hanegraaff touch on wasp martial arts; termite altruism and termite architectural skills, including a cooling system that has inspired a human design; interdependent social caste systems that enhance fitness; and spiderweb architecture and the extraordinary properties of spider silk, including the different kinds of silk and the spider’s ability to employ different types precisely tailored for different needs. Cassell looks at evolutionary explanations for these innate abilities that appeal to the ideas of convergent evolution and selection pressure, and he shows why these don’t get us very far. He suggests the path forward is to set aside the dogmatic insistence on restricting ourselves to only naturalistic explanations and instead to consider the possibility of intelligent design. Hanegraaff and Cassell wrap up their discussion by taking on some common objections against the theory of intelligent design. The interview is presented here by permission of Hank Hanegraaff. Find the original at Hank Unplugged. Pick up your copy of Cassell’s book here.

hawksbill sea turtle
Hawksbill Sea Turtle in Indian ocean

Hank Hanegraaff Interviews Animal Algorithms Author Eric Cassell, Pt. 1

On this ID the Future radio host Hank Hanegraaff interviews Animal Algorithms author Eric Cassell about insects and other small-brained animals with innate behaviors of astonishing sophistication — desert ants, leafcutter ants, honey bees, spiders, monarch butterflies, and many more. These appear to be hard-wired from birth with complex algorithms coded into their neural networks, and some of the algorithms seem to involve complex mathematics. Also mysterious: many of these innate abilities are do or die. So how could they have blindly evolved one small Darwinian step at a time? Also, how would genetic mutations generate the ability to make navigational calculations (as in the case of some birds) that for humans require spherical geometry? Listen in to learn more about this and other wonders of the animal world. Pick up your copy of Cassell’s book here. (The interview is presented here by permission of Hank Hanegraaff.)