On this ID the Future, mathematician William Dembski and host Eric Anderson explore whether design detection tools shed any light on the recent chess scandal involving world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and American grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann. Did Niemann cheat in a match where he beat Carlson, as some have claimed? There is no smoking gun in the case, so how might one determine if cheating occurred? At first glance the problem might seem far removed from the design detecting rules and tools Dembski laid out in his Cambridge University Press monograph The Design Inference. But actually there is some intriguing overlap. Is there a way to dig into the chess data and determine whether Niemann secretly used a computer chess engine to help him win the match? Tune in as Dembski and host Eric Anderson wrestle with the problem.
On today’s ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson explores an intriguing tension in the thinking of famous scientist and science popularizer Carl Sagan concerning his agnosticism shading into atheism on the one hand, and on the other hand his embrace of certain ideas consistent with the theory of intelligent design. As Nelson is quick to clarify, if Sagan had lived to see the rise of the contemporary intelligent design movement, he probably would have rejected it, particularly its theistic implications. And yet, Nelson says, Sagan’s thinking and arguments laid out in his Gifford lectures and in his science fiction novel Contact strongly support the idea that intelligent design can be detected. Nelson goes further, saying that if we take the methods Sagan laid out for detecting intelligently designed radio signals from extra-terrestrial intelligence, and apply them to patterns in nature that ID theorists have pointed to (such as DNA), it’s hard not to see his methodology triggering a design inference. Tune in to hear Nelson’s reflections on this important tension in Sagan’s thinking, and what, according to Nelson, prevented Sagan from fully resolving it.
On this ID the Future intelligent design pioneer William Dembski unpacks one of his chapters in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions about Life and the Cosmos, which Dembski co-edited with Joseph Holden and episode host Casey Luskin. The chapter, “Why Intelligent Design Matters,” focuses on ID’s cultural implications. Dembski notes that atheists use mindless evolution to provide a God-free explanation for life and the universe. Intelligent design checks that move, showing that blind material processes couldn’t have created many things in nature, much less the cosmos itself. Intelligent design is the better explanation. What about the idea that an alien created, say, the first life on Earth (intelligent design without the need for God)? Dembski says that idea–one that some atheists have suggested as a fallback explanation—is a poor explanatory substitute for an immaterial intelligent designer.
On today’s ID the Future, guest Casey Luskin and host Eric Anderson untangle the differences between creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution. There are important distinctions as well as areas of overlap, Luskin explains, but the theory of intelligent design focuses on the book of nature, rather than on the Bible or some other sacred book, and offers evidence that certain features of the natural world are best explained by reference to an intelligent cause. The case for intelligent design includes negative arguments against competitor explanations, such as neo-Darwinism, as well as positive evidence for design. And Luskin notes that increasingly this paradigm is fueling fruitful scientific research in everything from protein science to pharmacology and cosmology. To support this important work and Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, click here for options.
This ID the Future brings in protein scientist Douglas Axe to discuss his contribution to a new book, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith. Axe and host Casey Luskin discuss Axe’s thinking on the design intuition, the evidence that it’s triggered almost universally in small children when they observe things like dragonflies or fresh-baked cookies, and why he’s convinced that this intuition is a rational one rooted in our true sense of what sorts of things require know-how for their creation. For those who retort “Science!,” Axe has some of that to offer as well. As he tells Luskin, he led an experiment at a lab in Cambridge, England, on the abilities and limits of an enzyme to evolve. The research findings on this protein, beta-lactamase, were published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed research journal, and showed that while the enzyme does mutate, the odds of it randomly mutating to a fully novel function are so slim as to place such an event beyond the reach of chance, even if we give all the life forms that have ever existed on Earth a go at the challenge. The Petri dishes don’t lie. The numbers don’t lie. So why do so many academic biologists and other scholars resist the design implications of Axe’s research? For many it’s because they are theophobes, says Axe. He explains the term and, for evidence, points to a noted contemporary philosopher who frankly admits to being one.
On today’s ID the Future, host Robert Crowther sits down with writer Andrew McDiarmid to discuss his recent New York Post article, “Word to the Wise: Progressives Forget that Parents are in Charge of Kids’ Education.” The two discuss recent dustups in the news in which parents were told to butt out of the public education of their children. This is profoundly wrongheaded and for a variety of reasons, McDiarmid argues. McDiarmid, a Discovery Institute senior fellow, advocates for greater parental involvement, rather than less, and he and Crowther then apply the principle to the narrower question of how evolution is taught in the public high schools. In many districts evolutionary theory is taught as unquestionable dogma, with none of the theory’s weaknesses presented, and no attempt to encourage critical inquiry into the matter. Parents, students, and education leaders should never settle for this, McDiarmid says. He and Crowther wrap up their conversation by pointing listeners to several quality educational resources, many of them online, to help parents, students, and educators.
In today’s ID the Future, intelligent design pioneer Michael Behe continues his conversation with philosophers Pat Flynn and Jim Madden. Here in Part 2 of a three-part series, Behe offers an illustration from language and Madden presses him, noting that meaning detection in language is not parts to whole. A lively exchange ensues and then Behe turns the discussion back to his primary focus, detecting design in molecular biological machines by recognizing the purposeful arrangement of parts. From there the conversation turns to everything from epigenetics, systems biology, and autopoiesis to co-option, mousetraps, tie clips, biologist Kenneth Miller, and the philosophers Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. For Behe’s newest book, A Mousetrap for Darwin, go here. This discussion is presented here with permission of philosopher and podcaster Pat Flynn.
On this episode of ID the Future, attorney and engineer Eric Anderson continues his discussion hosted by Mike Keas on what it means that there’s information in DNA, and how this distinguishes it from most other physical objects. He talks about what intelligence really is and does — and why we know it’s involved in creating the unique information in DNA. And he recommends an answer we can give to those who “dig their heels in” and disagree on what information is about. Please consider donating to support the IDTF Podcast.