Eminent paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould has argued that humans differ only in degree, not kind, from other organisms, and to think otherwise betrays an ancient and outdated prejudice. But does this match up with what science has revealed in the last century? On this ID The Future, we are pleased to share the first half of an engaging conversation between Dr. David Berlinski and host Eric Metaxas on the subject of Berlinski's recent book Human Nature. Some argue that humans are growing more peaceful, enlightened, and improved by the year, and that a coming technological singularity may well usher in utopia. Berlinski isn't buying it. "There is no society without its underlying ideology," he writes in Human Nature. A universal civilization requires a universal theory, and the prevailing grand narrative preferred by most materialist scientists today is fueled largely by Darwin's theory of evolution. But is the world of matter the only world that matters? In this conversation and in his book, Berlinski argues that human beings have a fundamental essence that is radically different from the essence of other organisms and that cannot be changed at will. It's a view that is supported by the latest evidence about life and the universe in biology, chemistry, physics, and even cosmology. And it represents a fatal flaw in the Darwinian story.
This is Part 1 of a 2-part conversation. This interview originally aired as a Socrates in the City event in 2022. We are grateful to Eric Metaxas for permission to share it. Watch the conversation in video form on YouTube. Read More ›
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 ›
When it comes to biological life, even the simplest single-celled organism is an astonishingly complex multi-part system. Just how simple can a living cell get? On this ID The Future, Eric Anderson hosts another conversation with Dr. Robert Sadler to evaluate the claims of abiogenesis researchers. A recent Nature paper reports on an engineered minimal cell and how it contends with the "forces of evolution" compared to the non-minimal cell from which it was derived. In an attempt to find life's lowest common denominator, experimenters reduced the minimal cell down from 901 genes to 473 genes. The result was a fragile, irregular organism, sheltered and well cared for. But does this reduction in genomic complexity demonstrate evolution or devolution? Is it an unguided process at work or adaptation within the boundaries of an organism's design? "When people speak of evolution, they speak of random changes and natural selection," Sadler says. "But are they really random? Or does the organism have a built-in ability to change the genome to its own benefit?" Sadler puts the paper's results and claims in perspective for us. 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 ›
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 ›
On this ID The Future, Liberty McArtor, host of the Know Why Podcast, interviews Jonathan Witt on the compatibility of science and faith, both past and present. Witt is Executive Editor at Discovery Institute Press, as well as a Senior Fellow and Senior Project Manager with Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture. His latest book, co-written with Finnish bio-engineer Matti Leisola, is Heretic: One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design. In his conversation with McArtor, Witt describes the unique time and place that helped inspire the rise of modern science. "They had the Judeo-Christian worldview," Witt notes, "and that fired the imaginations and ordered the reasoning of those that gave birth to the scientific revolution." Witt also reviews some of the abundant scientific discoveries of the last century that are causing even committed materialists to question or reject the neo-Darwinian explanation. The all-too-common assertion that science and faith are at odds with one another is outdated. Listen in to understand just a few of the reasons why! With thanks to Liberty McArtor and the Know Why Podcast for permission to cross-post this interview. Read More ›
The fossil record reveals sudden explosions of new life forms followed by long periods of stasis. Is this evidence to be expected from a gradual Darwinian model? On this episode of ID The Future, host Eric Anderson talks with Casey Luskin on location at this year’s Conference on Engineering and Living Systems (CELS). Luskin discusses three different models of the fossil record - the gradual descent model, the punctuated equilibrium model, and the explosion model. He explains why gradual Darwinian models are built on a lack of data and cannot adequately explain the patterns revealed in the record. He also shows that the sudden appearance of complex organisms and long periods of non-change are exactly what we would expect to find from a design perspective. "These organisms...are designed to change within limits," says Luskin, "and that's why we see stasis." Indeed, the fossil record is consistent with the engineering-based theory of bounded adaptation, the idea that organisms are deeply designed, purposeful, and capable of adapting within their operating parameters. It's an intriguing new way to look at the history of life on earth. Says Luskin, "The only way you're going to be able to generate all the information needed to yield an organism that's alive and functional all at once is through an intelligent cause." Don't miss this intriguing conversation!
Casey Luskin holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, where he specialized in paleomagnetism and the early plate tectonic history of South Africa. He serves as Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.
Want to dive deeper into the fascinating explosions of plant and animal life in the geologic record? Luskin recommends reading a chapter by Stephen C. Meyer and Gunter Bechly (Chapter 10) on the topic, in Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. Available here: https://www.discovery.org/b/theistic-evolution/ Read More ›