On today’s ID the Future, astrophysicist and intelligent design proponent Bijan Nemati shares the first part of his story of science and faith. Those who follow Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture may know Nemati from his appearance in the popular ID documentary The Privileged Planet. Born and raised in Iran, he moved to the United States shortly before the Iranian revolution, became an atheist in college, but eventually found his way to a strong religious faith, in part through his exposure to the scientific evidence for intelligent design, first in biology and then in cosmology. Along the way he landed a high-level job with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and became a leading expert in space interferometer telescopes and the science and technology of detecting earth-like planets. Tune in as he shares with host Eric Anderson his journey of discovery.
On today’s ID the Future Your Designed Body author and physician Howard Glicksman takes a deep dive with Philosophy for the People podcast host Pat Flynn into Glicksman’s new book, co-authored with systems engineer Steve Laufmann. As Glicksman puts it, he and Laufmann look not just at how the human body looks but at what it actually takes for it to work and not die, and what this implies for evolutionary theory. Begin by piling up the layers of complexity in the human body—the layer upon layer of complex interdependent systems. Then ask hard questions about whether any blind and gradual evolutionary process could have kept our evolutionary ancestors alive at every generational stage as all this was gradually engineered by countless random mutations over millions of generations, beginning with the first single-celled organisms billions of years ago. Once one faces those hard questions without retreating to vague just-so stories about nature needing vision (or hearing or any number of other bodily functions) and therefore magically evolving it, at that point Darwinism’s story of gradual and blind evolution collapses. The explanation that is left standing, according to Glicksman, Laufmann, and Your Designed Body: intelligent design. This episode is posted her with the generous permission of Pat Flynn and the Philosophy for the People podcast.
On this ID The Future, Return of the God Hypothesis author Stephen Meyer again speaks with radio host Michael Medved about the extraordinarily powerful new James Webb space telescope. One researcher, Eric Lerner, has claimed that what the Webb telescope is seeing many billions of light years away (and therefore, many billions of years in the past) undercuts the Big Bang theory. But according to Meyer, the new photographs coming back from Webb actually further confirm the reality that our universe had a beginning (“the Big Bang”) and that it has been expanding ever since. What these Webb images are forcing a rethink on, Meyer says, is the conventional wisdom among cosmologists on galaxy formation in the early universe. Meyer insists the evidence for a cosmic beginning is stronger than ever, as is the God hypothesis that it supports. Image from NASA.
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.
Today’s ID the Future continues the conversation between neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and neurotheologian Andrew Newberg. In this second and concluding part of their discussion, they further explore what experiments using brain scans reveal about how the brain is affected by meditation and mystical experiences, including near-death experiences. Also, what parts of the brain light up, and what parts go dormant, when someone is “speaking in tongues,” and how does someone who has this experience describe it, and does that description mesh with or clash with what turns up on the brain scans? Tune in to hear Newberg’s answer to this and other issues related to the mind-brain problem and the mystical. This interview is posted here by permission of Mind Matters and the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
It’s hard to know where the brain ends and the mind begins. How can studying our brains give us insight into our minds? On this ID the Future, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor sit down for a chat about all things brain related including neurotheology, methods of studying the brain, and research on how various forms of religious and non-religious meditation actually change the wiring of the brain, including in particular a study Newberg did on Franciscan nuns and what they refer to as “centering prayer.” This interview is borrowed, with permission, from Mind Matters, a podcast of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
On today’s ID the Future, distinguished British physician and author David Galloway explains why he’s convinced that the human fetal circulatory system is irreducibly complex and therefore beyond the reach of blind gradualistic evolution to have built. In his conversation with host and fellow physician Geoffrey Simmons, Galloway also mentions some molecular machines that he’s convinced are irreducibly complex and shout intelligent design. The occasion for the conversation is Galloway’s new book, Design Dissected.
On today’s ID the Future, philosopher William Dembski and host Casey Luskin explore the relationship between science and faith. What is science? What is faith? How does Christianity define faith? Dembski explains that faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition is not the opposite of reason; at the same time, faith possesses a relational component—trust in a just, gracious, and reasonable God—that goes beyond mere assent to propositions. As for science, Dembski describes it as a careful search for truths about the natural world, including truths about key elements such as the birth of our fine-tuned universe and the origin of living things. Dembski says that he is convinced that scientific discoveries, unshackled from atheistic blinders, point strongly to intelligent design as the best explanation for life and the universe, a conclusion friendly to theism. As Dembski also notes, science was invented by theists, most of them Christians. They were motivated to search out the rational underpinnings of a cosmos because they believed it was fashioned by a rational designer. The occasion for the conversation is the recent Harvest House anthology, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions about Life and the Cosmos, which Dembski co-edited and contributed a pair of chapters to. Get your copy here.
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, Human Nature author David Berlinski continues his conversation with host Wesley J. Smith. Here Berlinski reflects on the Jewish Holocaust, the destructive nihilism of the Nazis and the SS, and the shortcomings of Neo-Darwinism as an explanation for the diversity of life. Berlinski and Smith also discuss the increasingly widespread attacks on human exceptionalism, the growth of emotivism and why it’s a problem, and the bizarre nature rights movement. This is the second and concluding part of a conversation borrowed, with permission, from Wesley J. Smith’s Humanize podcast.