Today’s ID the Future puts atheist Richard Dawkins’s book Outgrowing God under the microscope and reveals multiple ways his argument smashes up against contrary scientific evidence. Walking us through the critique are author and Mama Bear Apologetics founder Hillary Morgan Ferrer and her co-host, Amy Davison. Dawkins invokes the beautiful order evident in the murmuration of bird flocks as evidence that complexity can evolve from simple algorithmic rules. But Ferrer explains why the phenomenon of bird murmuration doesn’t even begin to approach what we find when sophisticated engineering order emerges in the growth of embryos. Ferrer also considers the challenges of re-engineering sperm thermoregulation to move from how it works in marine life to how it works in land animals. For a blind process to traverse this evolutionary pathway while maintaining viability at every stage would require—to adapt a line from Alice in Wonderland—six hundred impossible things before breakfast. What about evolving something simpler, such as the bilayer cell membrane, essential for cellular life? No, Ferrer argues. It’s also far too sophisticated to have evolved through a blind evolutionary process. What is needed is the foresight that comes with intelligent design. Tune in to hear Ferrer and Davison rebut these and other pro-evolution arguments from Richard Dawkins. This episode of the Mama Bear Apologetics podcast is reposted here with permission. To read more from Ferrer and some of her Mama Bear colleagues, pick up their bestselling book Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies.
On today’s ID the Future we go behind the scenes at the recent Conference on Engineering in Living Systems, where host Jonathan Witt sat down with Dustin Van Hofwegen, a biology professor at Azusa Pacific University in California. The two discuss the private conference, which brought together biologists and engineers to study how engineering principles and a design perspective can and are being applied to biology — to plants and animals but also to Van Hofwegen’s area of focus, the Lilliputian realm of microbial biology. The two quickly move into a conversation about Van Hofwegen’s article in the Journal of Bacteriology, co-authored with Carolyn Hovde and Scott Minnich, based on research they did at the University of Idaho. As Van Hofwegen explains, the research focused on one of the most ballyhooed evolutionary changes to come out of Richard Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment at Michigan State University, a decades-long study of many thousands of generations of E. coli bacteria. Perhaps the biggest evolutionary development in the course of the experiment involved some bacteria beginning to feed in citric acid. Interesting, to be sure, but as Van Hofwegen explains, E. coli already has this capacity; it’s just a matter of switching it on. Van Hofwegen, Hovde, and Minnich demonstrated this through do-or-die experiments with E. coli, which led to the bacteria developing the capacity not in years or decades, as in the Lenski experiment, but in fourteen days, in as little as 100 generations. Van Hofwegen unpacks why this is an embarrassing result for Neo-Darwinism, then he and Witt discuss another study, this one focused on antibiotic resistance but with a similar result: the findings suggested that the antibiotic resistance observed came not by evolving anything new but by tweaking something already present — in this case, by actually breaking something.
On today’s ID the Future, host Casey Luskin sits down with Dominic Halsmer, a Senior Professor of Engineering at Oral Roberts University, to discuss Halsmer’s recent book, Hacking the Cosmos: How Reverse Engineering Uncovers Organization, Ingenuity and the Care of a Maker. Dr. Halsmer draws on the engineering concept of affordances to explore how Earth and the universe show evidence of having been intelligently engineered to afford the possibility of life, and even for humans to discover evidence of a grand designer. Also in the conversation, the implications of biologists using reverse engineering to better understand biological systems, and of engineers studying clever designs in the biological realm to make engineering breakthroughs, a creative strategy known as biomimicry.
On today’s ID the Future, host Eric Anderson sits down with Rob Stadler, co-author with Change Tan of The Stairway To Life: An Origin-Of-Life Reality Check. The topic of discussion–protocells. Stadler notes that the simplest existing single-celled organisms are far too sophisticated to have emerged through a blind process of prebiotic evolution. He further notes that this is widely acknowledged in the origin-of-life community, but those committed to a purely materialistic origin of the first life have a fallback explanation–protocells. That is, early biological structures far simpler than anything we find today. An intriguing hypothesis, but the problems with it, according to Stadler, are legion. Tune in as Stadler and Anderson walk through several lines of evidence that appear to break against the much sought-after but ever-elusive protocell.