ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast

Long Story Short

black mole

Could Blind Forces Build a Self-Replicating Molecule?  

On today’s ID the Future, scientist and Stairway to Life co-author Rob Stadler and host Eric Anderson examine a recent PNAS paper on origin of life, “An RNA Polymerase Ribozyme that Synthesizes Its Own Ancestor.” A superficial look at the paper—and the paper’s title in particular—might give the impression that the laboratory findings behind the paper render the blind evolution of the first self-replicating biological system appreciably more plausible. Not so fast, says Stadler. Listen in as he and Anderson highlight various ways the laboratory work in question is wildly unrealistic. And for a video exploring the many problems involved in blindly evolving the first self-replicator, check out a new Long Story Short animated YouTube video, created with input from Stadler, Debunking RNA world: Replication & Chemical Evolution.

no shortcut long road
Empty open highway in Wyoming

An Origin-of-Life Poser: No Short Cut to Energy-Harnessing

On today’s ID the Future, Stairway to Life co-author Rob Stadler and host Eric Anderson delve deeper into Challenge to Origin of Life: Energy Harnessing, the latest video in the Long Story Short intelligent design video series. Could the first cell have been much simpler than any current cell, making it easier for it to emerge through blind natural forces on the early Earth? Stadler and Anderson surface one big problem with that idea: in experiments to make relatively simple cells even simpler, the cells inevitably become less robust and adaptable. These simpler cells must be coddled to survive. But the first cell on earth would have been anything but coddled. It would have had no source of glucose and been battered by all and sundry. (Plus, even these artificially simple cells are still extraordinarily sophisticated compared to human technology.) What about reports of a fungus near the Chernobyl nuclear accident that can feed off radiation? As Stadler notes, while this is an intriguing discovery, funguses are much more complex than anything being proposed as the first living cell, and the fungus undoubtedly possesses sophisticated energy-harnessing and processing machinery. The bottom line: any viable, self-reproducing cell, including the first one in the history of life, must have an energy-harnessing system already in place to survive, and such systems are necessarily enormously sophisticated. Stadler argues that we know enough about what natural forces can and cannot do to know that natural causes alone could not make this leap from non-life to first life. Another kind of cause was required. Tune in to learn more.

achilles heel
Achilles injury on running outdoors. Man holding Achilles tendon by hands close-up and suffering with pain. Sprain ligament or Achilles tendonitis.

Energy Harnessing: An Achilles Heel for Origin of Life

Origin-of-life specialist Rob Stadler joins today’s ID the Future to discuss a new Long Story Short science video short. The video investigates a special problem that faces all naturalistic origin-of-life scenarios: To be viable, a cell must have sophisticated machinery, including ATP synthase, to turn raw energy into constructive energy. But how could prebiotic chemicals harness raw energy on the way to evolving into a viable self-reproducing cell without first having the sophisticated machinery to harness raw energy and convert it to useful work? Are the energy sources that have been proposed for chemical evolution realistic? In his conversation with host Eric Anderson, Stadler argues that, no, they aren’t. This isn’t the sort of thing that mindless natural processes can overcome, but is precisely the sort of problem that a designing mind could solve. Check out the new video here.

New Animated Video Dismantles Origin-of-Life Hype

Today’s ID the Future spotlights a new origin-of-life video showing that researchers aren’t anywhere close to creating life from non-life, despite the fact most Americans seem to believe otherwise. In the episode, host Eric Anderson interviews Stairway to Life co-author Rob Stadler, who helped create the new Long Story Short animated video. Stadler and Anderson explore how origin-of-life papers and popular media reports have misled the public, evidenced by a survey underscored by Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour. Then they discuss several daunting origin-of-life hurdles beyond the synthesis of key chemical building blocks. These are hurdles significant enough that each alone may doom the idea of life having once emerged from non-life spontaneously. Indeed, it is now a matter of record that the hurdles are so daunting that for several decades they have kept many brilliant and lavishly funded scientists from intelligently designing life from non-life in the lab. Thus it is hardly unreasonable to entertain the idea that the origin of the first life required not merely intelligent design, but an ingenious designing intelligence far beyond that of our smartest origin-of-life researchers.