Today’s ID the Future spotlights the richly stimulating new book, God’s Grandeur: The Catholic Case for Intelligent Design. Edited by biologist Ann Gauger, the anthology explores the evidence for intelligent design from a Catholic perspective, with contributions from an impressive range of Catholic scientists, philosophers, and theologians, including Gauger; internationally renowned paleontologist Günter Bechly; philosopher Jay Richards; molecular biologist Michael Behe; Rector of the European University in Rome Fr. Pedro Barrajón, LC; Aquinas and Evolution author Michael Chaberek; philosopher J. Budziszewski; professor of neurosurgery Michael Egnor; and noted Dante scholar Anthony Esolen. Listen in as Gauger gives a quick flyover of the book’s content, tells how she found her way into the intelligent design fold, and explains why Catholics should reject modern evolutionary theory, not only on theological grounds but scientific ones as well. Is it just for Catholics? Gauger says that the vast majority of the theological arguments will resonate with Christians of every stripe, and the parts focused on science and philosophy should resonate with anyone seeking to determine the best, most reasonable explanation for the origin of life, the universe, and the human race. Get your copy of the book here.
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.
Today’s ID the Future continues the conversation between Catholic intelligent design biologist Michael Behe and Catholic theologian Matthew Ramage. Both agree that nature points to a cosmic designer, but Ramage says he prefers, on aesthetic grounds, the idea that the biological realm has the capacity, gifted by God, to evolve on its own without the need for intervention by God. Behe notes that people have different aesthetic predilections, but it’s the scientist’s job not to figure out how he would have preferred things to have happened in nature, but to discover how they actually did come about. Behe also says that while the sun, moon, and stars do move according to fixed natural laws, it doesn’t follow from this that the many complex forms we find in biology arose purely through natural laws. The question of how they arose requires scientific investigation. Philosophy for the People Podcast host Pat Flynn leads the discussion, which is reposted here by his permission.
On this ID the Future, biophysicist Cornelius Hunter explores Charles Darwin’s theological arguments for his theory of evolution. By theological, Hunter doesn’t mean that Darwin was arguing for theistic evolution. He means that Darwin received what is known as theological utilitarianism from the intellectual culture of his youth, which had strong deistic tendencies and expected everything in creation to be perfectly adapted, and he made a case against it, presenting mindless evolution as a better explanation for his observations of the biological world than theological utilitarianism. But one problem with this approach, according to Hunter, is that it assumed that theological utilitarianism is THE alternative to blind evolution. In fact, there are other alternatives, including an orthodox Judeo-Christian understanding of God’s relationship to his creation. In Hunter’s conversation with host Casey Luskin, he unpacks the differences in this other understanding of God and shows how Darwin’s tunnel-vision fixation on theological utilitarianism led him into multiple problems. Hunter further shows that this basic theological mistake of Darwin’s also crops up in later defenders of Darwinism. Hunter and Luskin end the discussion by making what may strike some as a surprising claim: Evolutionary theory, argued in the way that Darwin and many of his followers argue the case, is fundamentally theology-based, whereas the theory of intelligent design, which points to a design of life and the cosmos, is strictly science-based. The occasion for the interview is Hunter’s chapter on this subject in the recent anthology co-edited by Luskin, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos. Check it out.