In today’s ID the Future philosopher Stephen Meyer revisits Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Templeton Prize speech from May 10, 1983, where Solzhenitsyn indicted the West for forgetting God. Meyer argues that Solzhenitsyn’s indictment is more timely than ever. But at the same time, there is today more scientific evidence than ever for the existence of a personal God, Meyer says, and the argument from intelligent design is a powerful means to awaken individuals to the presence of God and to renew culture. Meyer goes on to support those claims with concrete examples. Today’s episode is taken from a talk Dr. Meyer gave at the 2023 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith. Meyer is author of the bestselling book Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.
Today’s ID the Future puts atheist Richard Dawkins’s book Outgrowing God under the microscope and reveals multiple ways his argument smashes up against contrary scientific evidence. Walking us through the critique are author and Mama Bear Apologetics founder Hillary Morgan Ferrer and her co-host, Amy Davison. Dawkins invokes the beautiful order evident in the murmuration of bird flocks as evidence that complexity can evolve from simple algorithmic rules. But Ferrer explains why the phenomenon of bird murmuration doesn’t even begin to approach what we find when sophisticated engineering order emerges in the growth of embryos. Ferrer also considers the challenges of re-engineering sperm thermoregulation to move from how it works in marine life to how it works in land animals. For a blind process to traverse this evolutionary pathway while maintaining viability at every stage would require—to adapt a line from Alice in Wonderland—six hundred impossible things before breakfast. What about evolving something simpler, such as the bilayer cell membrane, essential for cellular life? No, Ferrer argues. It’s also far too sophisticated to have evolved through a blind evolutionary process. What is needed is the foresight that comes with intelligent design. Tune in to hear Ferrer and Davison rebut these and other pro-evolution arguments from Richard Dawkins. This episode of the Mama Bear Apologetics podcast is reposted here with permission. To read more from Ferrer and some of her Mama Bear colleagues, pick up their bestselling book Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies.
On this ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson further explores AlphaFold 2, a cutting edge computer program from Google’s DeepMind designed to rapidly suss out important secrets in the realm of proteins, indispensable molecular biological workhorses that come in thousands of different shapes and sizes. Nelson enthuses about AlphaFold 2 but also explains why he is convinced that AlphaFold’s creators have hit a series of immovable obstacles. The watchword here—orphans. Tune in to learn what these mischievous orphan proteins are about, and what they suggest for AlphaFold, evolution, and intelligent design.
Today’s ID the Future wraps up a debate over evolution and intelligent design between Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe and Benedictine College theologian Michael Ramage. Both Behe and Ramage are Catholic, and they carry on their conversation in the context of Catholic thinking about nature and creation, in particular the work of Thomas Aquinas and contemporary Thomist philosophers. Ramage seeks to integrate his Thomistic/personalist framework with modern evolutionary theory’s commitment to macroevolution and common descent. Behe doesn’t discount the possibility of common descent but lays out a case that any evolution beyond the level of genus (for instance, the separate families containing cats and dogs) cannot be achieved through mindless Darwinian mechanisms and, instead, would require the contributions of a designing intelligence. Behe then summarizes both the negative evidence against the Darwinian mechanism of change and the positive evidence in nature for intelligent design. This debate was hosted by Pat Flynn on his Philosophy for the People podcast, and is reposted here by his permission.
On this ID the Future, Brian Miller, research coordinator for the Center for Science & Culture, reports on laboratory research recently presented in Nature Communications and in a University of Tokyo press release— research that supposedly provides dramatic “new insights into the possible origin of life,” and specifically “the molecular evolution of RNA.” The popular press picked up on these claims and ran with them, including in this May 5 Quanta article that breathlessly reported, “When researchers gave a genetic molecule the ability to replicate, it evolved over time into a complex network of ‘hosts’ and ‘parasites’ that both competed and cooperated to survive.” Miller says nothing remotely this dramatic occurred in the experiment. He insists there were no great revelations from this laboratory work, aside perhaps from it further corroborating the view that precisely orchestrated interventions of an intelligent designer (in this case, that of the lab researchers) are required in order to make any headway on the road from non-life to life. But as Miller’s conversation with host Eric Anderson suggests, even that might be to exaggerate what the University of Tokyo experimenters accomplished, since the RNA “evolution” they achieved was actually devolution. Tune in as Miller and Anderson break it down. And for more, check out Miller’s Evolution News article on the subject.
This ID the Future continues the debate between design theorist Casey Luskin, an editor of The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, and science historian Adam Shapiro, co-author of Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction. Justin Brierley, of the popular British debate program Unbelievable?, hosts. In this second half of the conversation, Shapiro argues that intelligent design’s popularity seems to have waned. Casey Luskin counters, arguing that the number and frequency of New York Times articles on ID is a superficial metric and that the ID research program is exploding, with the number of peer-reviewed ID papers growing every year, and the number of interested graduate students, ID hubs, and conferences expanding around the world, including ID conferences attended by high-level scientists, including Nobel Laureates. Luskin and Shapiro also discuss religious and academic freedom as it relates to the teaching of evolution and intelligent design in the classroom. Shapiro is actually more sanguine than Luskin about the freedom of high school biology teachers to teach intelligent design. Luskin, who has both a PhD in geology and a law degree, strongly advises high school biology teachers in public schools against teaching ID in the classroom. Instead, he says, the better and legally safer approach is to teach evolutionary theory comprehensively, covering both the evidence for it but also some of the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature against it. Luskin and Shapiro also part company on the nature of the intelligent design argument, with Shapiro suggesting that in practice it often amounts to a presenter highlighting some amazing feature in biology and then giving glory to God. Luskin pushes back, reiterating that intelligent design is an argument based on positive evidence, and is an argument to the best explanation–intelligent design–one that employs standard methods of scientific reasoning. This program is presented here with permission of Justin Brierley. To see this and other Unbelievable? episodes, go here. The first half of this conversation can be found here.
On today’s ID the Future, design theorist Casey Luskin, an editor of The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, and science historian Adam Shapiro, co-author of Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction, debate the meaning and prospects of intelligent design. Here in this first half of their conversation with host Justin Brierley of the Unbelievable? podcast, the focus is on how the term intelligent design is used, or misused, and its relationship to theological issues. The interview is used by permission of Justin Brierley.
On today’s ID the Future, Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe argues that Darwinism was built on a foundation of ignorance. Through no fault of Darwin’s, neither he nor anyone else in his day had a clue about the nature of cellular life and biological information, says Behe. Even the biologists of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis in the first half of the twentieth century were fairly clueless about the foundation of life, Behe says. When researchers did finally begin to unravel the sophisticated foundations of life, earlier notions of how evolutionary processes might have invented the great diversity of life forms on earth were exposed as causally inadequate. Behe says that in fact all the attempts to rescue the idea of mindless macroevolution have been exposed as inadequate by our growing understanding of molecular biology, but evolutionary theory blithely sails along anyway, thanks to institutional inertia. A key defeater of the theory, Behe says, is captured by his concept of irreducible complexity. He explains the idea with a simple illustration, a mousetrap, and then applies it to a marvelous molecular machine that researchers have only recently come to appreciate, the Escherichia virus T4 bacteriophage. As he argues, this bacteriophage powerfully bespeaks the purposeful arrangement of parts, rather than mindless evolutionary processes. The occasion for his conversation with host Casey Luskin is his contribution to the recent Harvest House anthology, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith. Image Credit: Dr. Victor Padilla-Sanchez: Atomic structural model of bacteriophage T4 in UCSF Chimera software using pdbs of the individual proteins.
On this ID the Future, Taking Leave of Darwin author Neil Thomas continues a lively conversation with radio host Hank Hanegraaff. In this second in a three-part series, the two touch on the fossil record’s challenge to Darwinism, Gould and Eldredge’s rescue attempt, the question of whether Darwin’s best known contemporary defender is dishonest or merely self-deluded, the wishful thinking surrounding origin-of-life studies, the failed attempts to reduce the mind to mere brain chemistry, and the morally repugnant pro-eugenics ideas rooted in Darwinism and touted in the textbook at the heart of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. The conversation is posted here by permission of Hank Hanegraaff. Get Neil Thomas’s book here.