On today’s ID the Future, Your Designed Body co-author and systems engineer Steve Laufmann continues his conversation with host and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor. In this episode, Laufmann reviews four causal factors involved in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and explains why they lack the power to generate life’s great variety of forms. To dive deeper into his argument, check out Laufmann’s new book co-authored with physician Howard Glicksman.
Today’s ID the Future is Part 2 of a recent live webinar with Eric Cassell fielding questions about his new book, Animal Algorithms: Evolution and the Mysterious Origin of Ingenious Instincts. He and host Casey Luskin explore the engineering wonders of web-spinning spiders and their extraordinary silk, and the challenge of transforming solitary insects into social insects (with their complex and interdependent caste systems) via a blind step-by-step evolutionary process, and the many thousands of genetic changes required. What does Cassell consider the best explanation? He invokes design theorist William Dembski’s work with No Free Lunch theorems to argue that blind processes are a no-go for explaining their origin. From there Luskin opens the webinar up to questions from the live audience. Have researchers tried to locate these algorithms in the DNA of the animals exhibiting complex programmed behaviors? Do any of the insects Cassell discusses use pheromones and, if so, how? What do biologists make of the apparently purposive nature of all these different kinds of complex programmed behaviors? Cassell fields these and other questions and says that more progress would be possible if not for the fact that so many scientists are infected with what he terms teleophobia — an unwillingness to recognize evidence of teleology and purpose in biology. Another question concerns examples of striking convergence among social insects and gifted animal navigators. Cassell argues that although the evolutionary community waves the term “convergent evolution” at such instances, they actually pose a powerful challenge to evolutionary theory.
On this ID the Future host Casey Luskin interviews science journalist Denyse O’Leary about her recent essay, “Is Evolutionary Psychology a Legitimate Way to Understand Our Humanity,” which appears in the new Harvest House anthology co-edited by Luskin, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith. O’Leary, a science journalist and co-author of The Spiritual Brain, offers a withering critique of evolutionary psychology and traces its roots, beginning with The Descent of Man (1871), where Charles Darwin attributed various human behaviors to natural and sexual selection. That fed into what became known as social Darwinism, which fell out of favor after World War II thanks to Hitler and the Nazis’ application of social Darwinist ideas to defend Nordic superiority and genocide. The ideas resurfaced in modified form under the banner of sociobiology, and then later still, as evolutionary psychology. This latter manifestation, O’Leary says, marks the most comprehensive attempt to explain the various facets of human behavior in evolutionary terms, but its comprehensiveness has not won it widespread acceptance. Far from it. The field is quick to offer explanations for why we do what we do, but it has left a train of blunders in its wake. So for instance, evolutionary psychologists claimed that we associate pink with little girls and blue with little boys due to the sex-based division of labor among our primitive ancestors over the course of millions of years of evolutionary development. In primitive societies the girls gathered fruit (pink when ripe), and the boys fished (and blue is associated with water). Mystery solved? But wait. In Victorian England, pink was associated with boys and blue with girls. Do we have an evolutionary explanation for that as well? Give any reasonably creative company of evolutionary psychologists an evening and a twelve-pack, and they’d probably be able to dream up a sure-fire evolutionary explanation. Evolutionary psychology, with its ability to explain everything and its opposite, convincingly explains nothing. According to O’Leary, distaste for the field stretches well beyond the company of Darwin dissenters. Most evolutionists steer clear of evolutionary psychology, and even some who probably count themselves as fully paid-up members of the Darwinian materialist guild openly criticize it. Thus it seems that if we want to effectively explain human behavior in all its messy richness, we would do well to look beyond the box of just-so stories built from Darwin’s toolkit of natural and sexual selection.
On this ID the Future neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviews Bernardo Kastrup, a philosopher with a background in computer engineering, about consciousness, evolution, and intelligent design. Did consciousness evolve? What does the evidence suggest? And how do materialists deal with the seemingly immaterial reality that is consciousness? This is a guest episode borrowed with permission from Mind Matters, a podcast of Discovery Institute’s Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
On this episode of ID the Future, Michael Egnor continues his discussion with philosopher and professor Edward Feser about Feser’s new book Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science The question this time is whether evolution is compatible with an Aristotelian understanding of reality. Feser says it could be — but he argues against naturalistic evolution anyway. While Feser differs from intelligent design theorists on his approach to the question, he agrees with the conclusion that nature evidences the existence of a mind instilling purpose, goal-directedness, and function within nature.