Today’s ID the Future is Part 2 of physicist Brian Miller exploring a recent report from the University of Tokyo claiming a big breakthrough in origin-of-life research. As Miller and host Eric Anderson make clear, the university’s laboratory work on RNA, detailed in a recent Nature Communications article, involved the intelligent interference of the lab scientists and, despite this intelligent interference, the devolution of RNA rather than the evolution of increasing RNA sophistication. Miller says that it’s ironic that Steven Novella, a scientist committed to puncturing science hype, seems to have fallen for the hype surrounding this laboratory work. Miller and Anderson go on to discuss critiques of origin-of-life tall-tale claims, critiques coming Robert Shapiro, James Tour, and others. Life, Miller says, requires organizational blueprints and design logics already in place to battle against nature’s relentless tendency toward entropy. Without those sophisticated organizational blueprints already instantiated in living cells and sophisticated molecular machinery, natural forces appear utterly powerless to pull off the kind of creative design work required to move from non-life to life.
On today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller and host Eric Anderson continue their exploration of a recent conversation between origin-of-life investigators Jeremy England and Paul Davies on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show. Miller begins with a quick flyover of the many nanotechnologies essential to even to the simplest viable cell. A minimally complex cell is vastly more sophisticated than our best human nanotechnology. What about England’s insistence that real progress has been made in origin-of-life studies since the 1950s? True, Anderson says, but the progress has been principally in better understanding how the simplest cells function, and in figuring out what doesn’t work to blindly evolve life from non-life. That is, the direction of discovery has been to throw cold water on one idea after another for the naturalistic origin of life. Miller then makes an even bolder statement. All the physics for us to have known this were in place more than a hundred years ago. The origin-of-life community just chose to ignore it, perhaps because they were dogmatically wedded to finding a purely materialistic explanation for the origin of the first life. To show why that’s misguided, Miller offers an illustrative story: Imagine that what looks for all the world like an alien spaceship is discovered in the desert. Two groups of scientists decide on radically different approaches to understanding the workings of this mysterious object. Tune in to hear the rest of the story.
On today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller and host Eric Anderson explore a recent conversation between physicists Jeremy England and Paul Davies on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show. Davies admitted he doesn’t want the origin of life to require divine design, while England argued that his work on non-equilibrium systems offers a promising avenue for explaining the origin of the first life in naturalistic terms. Miller and Anderson demur on both counts. They hold out hope that Davies, having recognized his philosophical bias, will eventually decide to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if doing so has theistic implications. And as for Jeremy England’s approach, Miller says it’s fascinating work but fails to solve the origin-of-life challenge in naturalistic terms, and for multiple reasons.
On today’s ID the Future, physicist Brian Miller touches on various challenges facing the origin of the first life. He and host Eric Anderson discuss Jeremy England’s origin-of-life ideas and the RNA World Hypothesis, and offer multiple reasons why they are convinced that various proposed mindless processes do not explain the origin of the first self-reproducing cell. Miller urges another approach, one that draws on engineering principles and embraces the evidence in even the simplest cell of highly intelligent engineering.
On today’s ID the Future, physicist Brian Miller continues his conversation with host Eric Anderson. Here they explore more problems facing the idea that life began as strings of RNA. In their discussion of the RNA World Hypothesis and the origin of life generally, they touch on ideas advanced by Jeremy England, Jack Shostak, Nick Lane, Helen Hansma, and others. One of several big problems with the RNA-first hypothesis underscored by Miller and Anderson: For it to have even a slender chance of working, you need prebiotic Earth to generate not one but two information-rich RNA strands, and they somehow need to find each other before falling apart, and do so despite the fact that they aren’t looking for each other and the statistical odds of them bumping into each other at random are vanishingly small. What about approaching the origin of life from an intelligent design perspective? Miller explains why he’s convinced that the design perspective, far from stopping science, is actually much more fruitful than a blind-evolution approach.
In today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller discusses fellow physicist Jeremy England’s book Every Life Is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origin of Living Things. Has England made a significant step toward solving the mystery of how life first began? In Miller’s conversation with host Eric Anderson, he argues that while England’s laboratory work is fascinating and innovative, what’s happening in his experiments differs dramatically from what is required of even the simplest life, so much so that the experiments do not shed the kind of light on the mystery of life’s origin that some may hope they do. Moreover, life does certain crucial things with energy that are unknown outside of the biological realm, Miller says, and without those processes available to prebiotic chemicals, it is far from clear how they could ever assemble into the molecular biological machinery essential for the first self-reproducing biological entity.
On today’s ID the Future, Rob Crowther continues his conversation with Casey Luskin, the intelligent design proponent who previously worked for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and has now returned. As Luskin explains, he left to pursue a PhD in geology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. The two discuss the wild conspiracy theories circulated by opponents of intelligent design when Luskin stepped away from Discovery Institute five years ago. Luskin also tells about an upcoming book he’s been working on with William Dembski, another intelligent design proponent who stepped away from day-to-day ID work and is now putting a foot back in the ID waters. Also on tap in today’s conversation, Luskin and Dembski’s upcoming appearance at the 2021 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith, and advances in the ID 3.0 research initiative, including some recent peer-reviewed papers.
Today’s ID the Future features Part 1 of an extended interview that first appeared on a podcast show hosted by distinguished Rice University synthetic organic chemist James M. Tour. As he typically does, since it’s the Science & Faith podcast, Dr. Tour begins his show by asking his guest for a statement of faith. Miller, a Christian, gives his, and then they dive into origin-of-life science. In a surprisingly accessible discussion given the depth of the material, the pair cover a range of issues—thermodynamics and the origin of the first cell, entropy, free energy, order and disorder, molecular engines, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, and the need for engines and information to overcome the vicissitudes of entropy. Also in the mix—feedback loops, Jeremy England, and much more.
On this episode of ID the Future, James M. Tour and Stephen C. Meyer begin a discussion about the hard problems facing researchers trying to discover how the first life could have come about naturalistically. Meyer is the director of the Center for Science and Culture; Tour is a world-renowned synthetic organic chemist with over 700 research publications and multiple major recognitions, including TheBestSchools.org naming him one of the 50 most influential scientists in the world today. Though he doesn’t sign on to ID theory, he says he’s sympathetic with the idea, and certainly not impressed with any naturalistic explanations for the origin of life. In this first of a three-part series, they explore problems ranging from the extreme improbabilities associated with protein assembly, to what precisely has gone missing in the nanosecond when a cell dies. The episode is excerpted from a longer interview Dr. Tour conducted with Meyer as part of his excellent new video series The Science & Faith Podcast: Follow the Evidence.
On this episode of ID the Future, Brian Miller, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University, examines Dr. Jeremy England’s physics-based theory of the origin of life. England’s theory, based on his studies of “non-equilibrium systems,” suggests that a system driven strongly enough could create order and therefore be a potential explanation for the origin of life. Miller summarizes the theory and discusses what he sees as its fatal weaknesses.