ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast


Single helix RNA, Epigenetics concept

Minimal Replication Fidelity: Another Problem for the RNA World Hypothesis

The RNA world is proposed by some to explain how early life began before DNA. But is RNA capable of maintaining a life-friendly self-replication rate? On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid welcomes back Dr. Jonathan McLatchie to discuss another headache for the RNA world scenario. Before a trial and error process like natural selection can even get started, self-replicating molecules must have a minimal accuracy rate to copy genetic material effectively. The required fidelity rate is estimated to be 2%. Any error rate higher than that results in error catastrophe for organisms. The average error rate in RNA copying is estimated to be around 17%, vastly higher than the estimated maximum error threshold for survival. McLatchie explains the implications of this for chemical evolutionary theories like the RNA world hypothesis. He also explains how a Bayesian approach to this evidence can provide us with the likeliest explanation for the origin of biological life. "The sorts of features that we observe in life are not particularly surprising if we suppose that a mind is involved," says McLatchie. But things like minimal self-replication fidelity are wildly surprising on a naturalistic hypothesis. Read More ›
Abstract human body with molecules DNA. Medicine, science and technology concept. Illustration.

Michael Behe on the Origin of Biological Information

Just what is information? Why is so much of it needed for life? And where did it all come from? On this ID The Future, we're pleased to rebroadcast in audio form the latest episode in biochemist Michael Behe's Secrets of the Cell series on the mystery of biological information. In this episode, Behe starts by explaining just what information actually is. From the decision to flip a switch to the thousands of decisions needed to build complex structures, information is everywhere in our world, and it also runs the show in the hidden inner world of cells. Behe describes how cells manage information to build tissues, organs, and systems. He also explains that each cell is part of a massive collaboration of trillions of cells, where the right information at the right time flows through us in the form of chemical and electrical signals, activating different energy modes and keeping our entire body functioning efficiently. To conclude, Behe invites us to join him for a sobering thought experiment: attempting to build an instruction manual for a human femur bone. Sounds simple enough in theory. It's just a bone, after all! But Behe reminds us of the many layers of complexity inherent in making even a single bone part of a larger, dynamic, and coordinated living system. Complex machines and working structures, says Behe, are possible only through specific code that determines form and function. And our uniform and repeated experience affirms that specified or functional information always arises from an intelligent source, not a strictly material process. Read More ›
Blood clot in damaged blood vessel made of red blood cells, platelets and fibrin protein strands

The Engineering Prowess of the Blood Clotting Cascade

The vertebrate blood coagulation system is a delicately regulated marvel that helps maintain the integrity of the circulatory system. Over 20 years ago, Michael Behe argued it was an example of an irreducibly complex system. Does Behe's claim still hold up today? On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid speaks with fellow Scotsman Dr. Jonathan McLatchie about his new article series examining recent claims that an evolutionary pathway has been identified for this incredible process. McLatchie is a fellow and resident biologist at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Biology, a Masters degree in Evolutionary Biology, a second Master’s degree in Medical and Molecular Bioscience, and a PhD in Evolutionary Biology. In their conversation, McLatchie describes how the blood clotting cascade works and why it poses a challenge for evolutionary theory. "Evolution doesn't perform particularly well when you need to make multiple co-dependent mutations," he says. McLatchie explains just how delicately regulated the blood coagulation system is and defends Behe's argument for the cascade, saying it exhibits irreducible complexity in spades. McLatchie also critiques recent proposals by the late biochemist Dr. Russel Doolittle, who claims to show a step-by-step evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation. McLatchie notes that Doolittle helps himself to irreducibly complex components as he attempts to explain its origin, inadvertently helping to confirm Behe's arguments in the process. Read McLatchie's 3-part article series on the blood clotting cascade at Read More ›
Abstract bacteria, probiotics, gram positive bacteria bacteria and viruses of various shapes against a light background. Concept of science, medicine. Microbiology background. 3d illustration.

The Simple Life: Abiogenesis Gets Another Reality Check

When it comes to biological life, even the simplest single-celled organism is an astonishingly complex multi-part system. Just how simple can a living cell get? On this ID The Future, Eric Anderson hosts another conversation with Dr. Robert Sadler to evaluate the claims of abiogenesis researchers. A recent Nature paper reports on an engineered minimal cell and how it contends with the "forces of evolution" compared to the non-minimal cell from which it was derived. In an attempt to find life's lowest common denominator, experimenters reduced the minimal cell down from 901 genes to 473 genes. The result was a fragile, irregular organism, sheltered and well cared for. But does this reduction in genomic complexity demonstrate evolution or devolution? Is it an unguided process at work or adaptation within the boundaries of an organism's design? "When people speak of evolution, they speak of random changes and natural selection," Sadler says. "But are they really random? Or does the organism have a built-in ability to change the genome to its own benefit?" Sadler puts the paper's results and claims in perspective for us. Read More ›
Silhouette of the man standing against the Milky Way in the mountains with a flashlight in his hands. Nepal, Everest region, view of the mount Thamserku (6,608 m) from Thame village (3,750 m).

Thinking God’s Thoughts: Kepler and Cosmic Comprehensibility

On this ID The Future, host Andrew McDiarmid kicks off a three-episode discussion with Dr. Melissa Cain Travis about her recent book Thinking God's Thoughts: Johannes Kepler and the Miracle of Cosmic Comprehensibility. A fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, Dr. Travis serves as Affiliate Faculty at Colorado Christian University's Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics, where she teaches courses in the history and philosophy of science. In Part 1, learn why Kepler was instrumental in transforming classical astronomy into a true celestial physics. Like others before him, Kepler perceived a remarkable resonance between the rational order of the material world, mathematics, and the human mind. In response, he developed a three-part cosmic harmony of archetype, copy, and image to explain this unity. Travis unpacks his tripartite harmony for us. But that's not all. To give us a richer appreciation for Kepler's work, Travis also traces the intellectual pedigree of Kepler's ideas all the way back to the ancients, from pre-Socratic philosopher Pythagoras through the Early Christian era, the Middle Ages, and on through Kepler's own university years. It's a fascinating journey that shows how long humans have pondered the design of the universe and the uncanny connection between the natural world and the mathematics that lie at the heart of it. Kepler's revolutionary discoveries in natural philosophy and his unique insights into natural theology have inspired generations of scientists and philosophers. As we continue to discover new evidence of design in life and the universe, Travis argues that Kepler's work is as relevant today as ever. This is Part 1 of a 3-part discussion. Read More ›
Ales Hrdlicka_SIA2009-4245

The Washington Post Exposes the Smithsonian’s Racist Brain Collection

On today’s ID the Future, host Michael Medved talks with Human Zoos film director John West about a recent Washington Post series exposing how the Smithsonian Institution collected hundreds of brains from indigenous peoples as part of an early-20th century effort to promote Darwinian racism. The motivation for the brain collection was to document how some people were supposedly lower on the evolutionary ladder than others. As West notes, many of these brains are still stored in steel vats at a non-public Smithsonian facility in Maryland. Tune in as West and Medved explore this disturbing topic and how it all ties into Darwin’s theory of evolution. And to watch the segment from the Human Zoos documentary detailing this gruesome collection and the man behind it, Aleš Hrdlička, click here.

Laboratory, Chemistry, Formula.

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 ›
Human heart with blood vessels. 3d illustration.

How Life Leverages the Laws of Nature to Survive

Left to their own devices, the natural result of physics and chemistry is death, not life. So how are we still breathing? On this ID The Future, host Eric Anderson concludes his conversation with physician Howard Glicksman about some of the remarkable engineering challenges that have to be solved to produce and maintain living organisms such as ourselves. Glicksman is co-author with systems engineer Steve Laufmann of the recent book Your Designed Body, an exploration of the extraordinary system of systems that encompasses thousands of ingenious and interdependent engineering solutions to keep us alive and ticking. In the “just so” stories of the Darwinian narrative, these engineering solutions simply evolved. They emerged and got conserved. Voila! But it takes more than the laws of nature to keep us from dying. In Part 1, Glicksman discussed how two laws of nature - diffusion and osmosis - must be innovated by living systems to avoid cell death. In this episode, Glicksman provides another example: how we regulate the flow of water and blood through our bodies without the excess leakage or shrinkage that can lead to cell death. The protein albumin is crucial. Along with helping to transport minerals and hormones, albumin vitally maintains blood volume by regulating the water flow in and out of the capillaries. How does our liver know how to make albumin, or how much of it to make? Can a gradual Darwinian process be credited with these essential innovations? Or do they bear hallmarks of design? Listen in as Dr. Glicksman explains this remarkable system, just one of many engineering feats our bodies perform every day to keep us alive. Read More ›
classic science experiment, with smoke and bubbling liquid, in black and white, created with generative ai

Smoke & Mirrors: Tour and Meyer Assess Origin of Life Experiments

Have scientists made life in a laboratory? Two-thirds of the public think the answer is yes. What do you think? This episode of ID The Future is the third installment in a series of four 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 3, Meyer and Tour continue their critique of the claims of chemist Lee Cronin, including his experiments on the formose reaction, autocatalysis, his attempts to conjure up lipids in oil, and more. Along the way, Tour explains how he got into the debate in the first place, providing some background on his interactions with Farina and how it led him to call out experts in the field. Tour and Meyer are careful to remind us just what life is and what it takes to build it. And on several occasions, you’ll enjoy Meyer’s insight into the big picture. These simulation experiments, says Meyer “are actually showing the difficulty of making life-relevant molecules…via an undirected process.” In other words, origin of life researchers are doing sophisticated chemistry with multi-million dollar equipment that can only be done in a modern lab! In the process, they’re showing us just how implausible chemical evolutionary theories actually are. This is Part 3 of a 4-part series. Watch the video versions of these conversations at Dr. Meyer's YouTube Channel: @DrStephenMeyer Read More ›
Heaven and Earth. The Milky Way over an Italian church.

How Modern Science Strengthens the Claims of Theism

On this ID The Future, Liberty McArtor, host of the Know Why Podcast, interviews Jonathan Witt on the compatibility of science and faith, both past and present. Witt is Executive Editor at Discovery Institute Press, as well as a Senior Fellow and Senior Project Manager with Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. His latest book, co-written with Finnish bio-engineer Matti Leisola, is Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design. In his conversation with McArtor, Witt describes the unique time and place that helped inspire the rise of modern science. "They had the Judeo-Christian worldview," Witt notes, "and that fired the imaginations and ordered the reasoning of those that gave birth to the scientific revolution." Witt also reviews some of the abundant scientific discoveries of the last century that are causing even committed materialists to question or reject the neo-Darwinian explanation. The all-too-common assertion that science and faith are at odds with one another is outdated. Listen in to understand just a few of the reasons why! With thanks to Liberty McArtor and the Know Why Podcast for permission to cross-post this interview. Read More ›