ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast

Convergent evolution

Close up portrait of a cute baby chimpanzee making eye contact

Chimp and Human Genomes: An Evolution Myth Unravels

On today’s ID the Future, Casey Luskin rebuts the oft-repeated claim that the human and chimp genomes are 98-99% similar and therefore surely resulted from Darwinian common descent. Luskin cites an article in the journal Science which describes the 98-99% claim as a myth. The original figure was derived from a single protein-to-protein comparison, but once you compare the entire genomes, and use more rigorous methods, the similarity drops several percentage points, and on one account, down into the mid-80s. Additionally, the chimp genomes used in the original comparison studies borrowed the human genome for scaffolding, thus artificially boosting the degree of similarity. What about supposed junk DNA similarities between human and chimp? Why would an intelligent designer put the same useless “pseudogene” in both the original chimp population and original human population? Surely a better explanation, the evolutionists argue, is Darwinian common ancestry. The problem with that argument, according to Luskin, is that pseudogenes are turning out to have functions. In other words, they aren’t, as evolutionists had assumed, just so much junk DNA. One example: evolution advocates Kenneth Miller and Eugenie Scott cited the beta-globin pseudogene as knockdown evidence of common descent between humans and apes. But the beta-globin pseudogene, it turns out, is essential for producing red blood cells. This means that finding this gene in both apes and humans is no more indicative of mindless common descent than finding wheels on both cars and airplanes. An intelligent designer would be expected to use the successful design element in both cases. Luskin provides still other lines of evidence undercutting the DNA-similarity argument for chimp-human common ancestry. Tune in to hear it all. And to read Luskin’s latest work on the subject, get the new free online ID book from South Africa, Science and Faith in Dialogue, with contributions from Luskin, Stephen Meyer, Hugh Ross, Guillermo Gonzalez, James Tour, Fazale Rana, Marcos Eberlin, and others.

illustration of a fighting bull, smoky environment, image generated by AI

Ruminants, Moon Watchers Bedevil Darwin

On today’s ID the Future host Andrew McDiarmid brings listeners a couple of fascinating recent articles from Evolution News & Science Today by David Coppedge. The first is “Animals Tune Behavior by  Lunar Cycle; but How?” The second article is “Darwin, We Have a Problem: Horse Teeth Are Not Less Evolved.” In the first, some ingenious molecular engineering crops up in widely divergent creatures, giving them some impressive abilities to read lunar cycles. The evolutionists’ go-to explanation is “convergent evolution,” an incantation that fails to explain how something like this could have evolved even once, much less multiple separate times. And in the second, a much-beloved story of ruminant tooth evolution gets a kick in the teeth from a series of uncooperative facts, not least of which are the teeth of a famous non-ruminant, the horse.  

Funny frog head frontal view

Species Pairs: A New Challenge to Evolutionary Theory

On today’s ID the future, German paleoentomologist Günter Bechly and host Casey Luskin unpack a recent article of Bechly’s at Evolution News, “Species Pairs: A New Challenge to Darwinists.” There Bechly describes a challenge to evolutionary theory that thus far has been given little attention, namely “the morphological similarity of modern species pairs.” He says this “poses a severe problem for Darwinian theory “because it implies that the macroevolutionary processes that allegedly were at work and common during all periods of Earth history and in all groups of organisms, apparently were totally absent in the origins of all of the millions of living species.” Or as he puts it in a follow-up article on the same topic, “Among the 350,000 described fossil species, we can identify numerous abrupt origins of new body plans within a 5–10 million years window of time. Among an estimated 8.7 million recent species we find no such body plan disparity in any pairs of species that diverged in a similar time frame according to molecular clock studies. This contradicts expectations from a Darwinian perspective.” Species pairs Bechly and Luskin discuss include firs and cedars (both of them conifers), species of houseflies, the tree sparrow and house sparrow, the marine iguana and land iguana, the Moor frog and the European common frog, and two varieties of damselfly. Bechly says that far from being exceptions to the rule, these species pairs, which have diverged very little over millions of years, are the rule, so much so that he’s waiting to be shown a single counterexample. What about something like Hawaiian honeycreepers, with their widely varying colors and beak shapes? Bechly says that in all the ways that they vary, it’s been shown that only one or two genetic switches need to be made to account for the divergences. This is very different from cases where an entire new body plan or system appears, such as the countercurrent heat exchange found in whales. It’s these dramatic innovations that modern evolutionary theory needs to explain, and it’s precisely the kind of change we don’t see in any modern species pairs, according to Bechly. In addition to providing a lively summary of his article, Bechly also spars with Luskin, who gamely plays the devil’s advocate and poses a series of objections that a modern Darwinist might lob. Tune into hear how the German paleontologist responds.

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.)

tamarin new world monkey

Casey Luskin: Biogeography Is No Friend of Common Descent

On this ID the Future, geologist Casey Luskin discusses biogeography and the problems it poses for the idea of universal common descent. To make it work, evolutionists have to propose, for instance, that old world monkeys rafted across the Atlantic from Africa to South America on a natural raft. Really? That’s some raft. And how did the monkeys not starve to death? Or die of thirst? They couldn’t drink salty ocean water, after all. And talk about a genetic bottleneck! That’s just one of several problems Luskin raises with the idea that all species gradually evolved from a universal common ancestor. In his conversation with host Emily Reeves, he also touches on the problem of convergence, as when two creatures that are, at best, only very distantly related, nevertheless share a major common feature, such as humans and octopuses both having camera eyes. But evolutionists acknowledge that the putative common ancestor of humans and octopuses didn’t even have eyes, meaning the evolutionists must hold to the view that this very specific marvel of optical engineering just happened to evolve twice. Luskin notes that this example of convergence is just one of countless such instances. In each case, evolutionists find ways to explain the problem away, but Luskin compares these ad hoc patches to the epicycles that Renaissance-era proponents of an Earth-centered model of the solar system kept introducing to explain away the growing body of astronomical evidence that ran contrary to their geocentric theory. When your theory gets messier and messier to account for new data, Luskin argues, maybe it’s time to step back from the theory and consider other possibilities. The alternative he favors: common design. The occasion for this conversation is Luskin’s chapter on biogeography and evolution in the recent anthology from Harvest House Publishers, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions about Life and the Cosmos.

Animal Algorithms

Animal Algorithms Webinar Pt. 2: Author Q&A

Today’s ID the Future is Part 2 of a recent live webinar with Eric Cassell fielding questions about his new book, Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. He and host Casey Luskin explore the engineering wonders of web-spinning spiders and their extraordinary silk, and the challenge of transforming solitary insects into social insects (with their complex and interdependent caste systems) via a blind step-by-step evolutionary process, and the many thousands of genetic changes required. What does Cassell consider the best explanation? He invokes design theorist William Dembski’s work with No Free Lunch theorems to argue that blind processes are a no-go for explaining their origin. From there Luskin opens the webinar up to questions from the live audience. Have researchers tried to locate these algorithms in the DNA of the animals exhibiting complex programmed behaviors? Do any of the insects Cassell discusses use pheromones and, if so, how? What do biologists make of the apparently purposive nature of all these different kinds of complex programmed behaviors? Cassell fields these and other questions and says that more progress would be possible if not for the fact that so many scientists are infected with what he terms teleophobia — an unwillingness to recognize evidence of teleology and purpose in biology. Another question concerns examples of striking convergence among social insects and gifted animal navigators. Cassell argues that although the evolutionary community waves the term “convergent evolution” at such instances, they actually pose a powerful challenge to evolutionary theory.

Photo by Jeffery Wong

The Venus Flytrap Takes a Bite Out of Darwinism

On this episode of ID the Future, Scotsman Andrew McDiarmid reads from Marcos Eberlin’s recent book Foresight: How the Chemistry of Life Reveals Planning and Purpose. In this excerpt, the distinguished Brazilian scientist highlights the challenge the Venus flytrap poses for evolutionary theory. Dr. Eberlin, the former president of the International Mass Spectrometry Association, describes the problem: The Venus flytrap, like all carnivorous plants, had no use for its insect-trapping function unless it also had an insect-digesting function. And vice versa. Did they really both evolve together? And how when there would be no functional advantage along much of the evolutionary pathway to the sophisticated finished system? Finally, how did this “evolutionary miracle” also happen in four other carnivorous plant genera? (See the Venus flytrap here, as mentioned in the podcast.)


Winston Ewert Unpacks his New ID Model, the Dependency Graph–Pt. 1

On this episode of ID the Future, guest host Robert J. Marks talks with Dr. Winston Ewert about Ewert’s groundbreaking new hypothesis challenging Darwin’s common descent tree of life. The new model is based on the well-established technique of repurposing software code in different software projects. Ewert, a senior researcher at Biologic and the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, describes the nested hierarchical pattern of life and how any credible theory of life’s origin and diversity must explain it. He then describes how Darwin’s basic theory fits, and doesn’t fit, the pattern, and the various ancillary mechanisms invoked to close the gaps. These patches include horizontal gene transfer, convergent evolution, and incomplete lineage sorting. Ewert then cues up what he argues is a better, more elegant hypothesis, the common design hypothesis laid out in his peer-reviewed technical paper available here.

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Lee Spetner Critiques Convergent Evolution and Talks Non-Random Evolution

On this episode of ID the Future, Ira Berkowitz interviews M.I.T. Ph.D. Lee Spetner in Jerusalem. Spetner challenges the idea of convergent evolution and explains his non-random evolutionary hypothesis.

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