ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast
Topic

engineering trade-offs

Panda Bear Eating Bamboo, Bifengxia Panda Reserve in Ya'an Sichu
Image licensed from Adobe Stock

The Panda’s Thumb: An Extraordinary Instance of Design?

Does the panda's thumb refute intelligent design? Or is it one of the most extraordinary manipulation systems in the mammalian world, as one respected study has found? On this ID The Future, host Casey Luskin speaks with philosopher Dr. Stephen Dilley about his recent paper evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the iconic panda's thumb argument for evolution. Read More ›
humpback whale flipper
A whale breaching water.
A whale breaching water. Photo by DW on Adobe Stock

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-stockpack-adobe-stock
3d rendered medically accurate illustration of a sprinter
Image licensed from Adobe Stock

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 ›