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 ›
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 ›
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 evolutionnews.org. Read More ›
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 ›
Influenced by a long line of materialist thinkers, Charles Darwin proposed the mechanism of natural selection as a substitute for God. But how does his theory’s explanatory power measure up to recent scientific discoveries? On this ID The Future, physicist Brian Miller discusses the resurgence of natural theology in modern science with Pat Flynn, co-host of the Philosophy for the People podcast. Natural theology advances arguments for God based on reason and the discoveries of science. It’s an ancient pursuit that fell out of favor in the 19th century as a materialist account of life’s origins took center stage. But scientific findings of the last century point to mind, not a mindless process, as the likeliest explanation for a life-friendly universe. As a result, the pendulum is swinging back to teleology, ushering in a new heyday for natural theology.
In addition to giving an historical overview of natural theology, Dr. Miller and Flynn also discuss fundamental problems in origin of life studies that demand a better explanation than materialists can offer. Miller speaks plainly about the problem: “Here’s the fundamental challenge,” he says. “All natural processes tend to create greater disorder (entropy)…The origin of life requires chemicals to go into a state of both high order and high energy. That never happens without help!”
This is Part 1 of a 2-part discussion.
With thanks to Pat Flynn and the Philosophy for the People podcast for permission to share this interview. Read More ›
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 ›
Scientists agree that our universe is finely tuned for the existence of life. But is the fine-tuning a happy accident or the result of foresight? On this ID The Future, host Brian Miller continues his conversation with Rabbi Elie Feder and Rabbi Aaron Zimmer, hosts of the Physics to God podcast. Feder has a PhD in mathematics and has published articles on graph theory. Zimmer has training in physics, and has studied mathematics, philosophy, and psychology. Both men also have extensive rabbinical training. Through their podcast, Feder and Zimmer invite both secular and religious listeners on a journey through modern physics as they offer rational arguments for an intelligent cause of the universe.
In the conclusion to their discussion, Feder and Zimmer explain why the cosmological constant is one of their favorite examples of fine-tuning. They also share the importance of exploring the teleological causes, or purposes, of natural phenomena. To help listeners grasp the difference between efficient causes and teleological causes, they give the example of a carpenter who builds a table. Is the carpenter the cause of the existence of the table? Or is the idea of the table in the carpenter's mind the cause? Or both? Using modern physics, say Feder and Zimmer, an objective justification for the purpose of the universe can be made. Enjoy this provocative and illuminating discussion! Don't miss Part 1 of the conversation, available here: https://idthefuture.com/1787/ Read More ›
Do you recognize the number 1/137.035999206? It might seem arbitrary, but if the fine structure constant were any higher or lower than it is, you might not exist! On this episode of ID The Future, host Brian Miller kicks off an engaging conversation with Rabbi Elie Feder and Rabbi Aaron Zimmer, hosts of the Physics to God podcast. Feder has a PhD in mathematics and has published articles on graph theory. Zimmer has training in physics, and has studied mathematics, philosophy, and psychology. Both men also have extensive rabbinical training. Through their podcast, Feder and Zimmer invite both secular and religious listeners on a journey through modern physics as they offer rational arguments for an intelligent cause of the universe. In Part 1 of a two-part discussion, Feder and Zimmer share their background and the inspiration for their podcast. They also explain their focus on the constants of physics - specific numbers and values built into the laws of nature that are the same everywhere. What do these numbers mean? How are they measured? Why are they important? Do they hint at design, or are they "magic numbers that come to us with no understanding," as noted physicist Richard Feynman put it? A physicist himself, Miller is the perfect host to unpack the efforts of Feder and Zimmer. It's time to get more intimately acquainted with the strange and wonderful numbers that hold our universe together! Read More ›
On this ID The Future, we're pleased to share Daily Wire host Andrew Klavan's recent interview with Dr. Casey Luskin. Klavan loves science, but he smells a rat when famous scientists like Richard Dawkins use their displaced authority to make proclamations about science's relationship with religion. So after reading Luskin's recent Daily Wire article about progressives and their long history of banning intelligent design from the classroom, Klavan invited Luskin on his show to help his viewers better understand the theory of intelligent design and the reality of the evolutionary paradigm.
Luskin starts with the meanings of evolution and the questions that guide intelligent design researchers. He cites plenty of examples of design from biology and cosmology. Klavan then asks how badly people get censored for considering design perspectives in their work. Luskin explains, using the case of physicist Eric Hedin and his treatment at Ball State University as an example. Luskin rounds out the conversation by explaining how intelligent design uses the scientific method to detect the hallmarks of design in both living systems and the universe at large. "Science never gives us, under any conditions, absolute certainty," Luskin notes. "What it can allow us to do, though, is we can use the methods of historical sciences to infer the best explanation for a given situation given what we know about how the world works." Read More ›
When left to their own devices, the laws of nature tend toward death, not life. So what does it take for life to exist? On this ID The Future, host Eric Anderson talks 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 in this chat, Anderson and Glicksman explain that it takes more than the laws of nature to keep us from dying. "Chemicals on their own don't have any desire or tendency to turn into living organisms," says Anderson. "They tend to degrade, they tend to break down, they tend to go back to their basic constituents." Glicksman and Anderson discuss examples, including how the human body handles friction, heat transfer, and the crucial task of maintaining chemical balance at the cellular level. And where does all this essential innovation come from? Glicksman points to an intelligent cause that transcends matter and energy. Read More ›