ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast
Topic

RNA World hypothesis

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Meyer & Tour on New Critiques of Origin of Life Research

On this ID The Future, we're pleased to share a new discussion between Dr. James Tour and Dr. Stephen Meyer about recent critiques of origin of life research published in the prestigious science journal Nature. The interview originally aired on The Science and Faith Podcast, hosted by Dr. Tour. We are grateful to Dr. Tour for permission to share this interview on ID The Future. Read More ›
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Single helix RNA, Epigenetics concept

Minimal Replication Fidelity: Another Problem for the RNA World Hypothesis

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 ›
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science laboratory test tubes , lab equipment for research new medical

Extravagant Claims: James Tour & Stephen Meyer Critique Origin of Life Research

On this ID The Future, we continue a four-part conversation series between philosopher of science Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, and Dr. James Tour, a world-leading synthetic organic chemist at Rice University. Dr. Tour has recently been engaged in a series of back-and-forth responses to attacks on his work from YouTube science communicator Dave Farina. This has given Tour a new opportunity to critique experts in the field of abiogenesis and allows an interested public to better evaluate both sides of the argument. In Part 2, Meyer and Tour discuss the work and claims of origin of life researcher Lee Cronin. They begin with a review of the four classes of molecules before critiquing Cronin’s foremose reaction experiments and his claims to have found a process that’s analogous to cell division. Tour also discusses the importance of chirality, as well as how amino acids behave in aqueous solutions. Turns out that “warm little pond” story we’ve been told for many years is chemically implausible. The discussion rounds out with a reminder of the information problem, something Meyer writes about at length in Signature in the Cell. Have prebiotic chemists made any progress on the sequence specificity problem? None whatsoever, says Dr. Tour. This is Part 2 of a four-part series of conversations. Watch the video versions of these at Dr. Meyer’s YouTube channel: @DrStephenMeyer Read More ›
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A close up of a chemical petri dish with organic bacteria on a desk in a scientific lab is used to evaluate a material sample. prepared glass plate containing a bright liquid for biochemical developme

James Tour and Stephen Meyer Bring Clarity to Origin of Life Debate

On this ID The Future, we kick off a series of conversations between Dr. Stephen Meyer and Dr. James Tour on the many challenges faced by origin of life researchers. Dr. Tour, a world-leading synthetic organic chemist at Rice University, has recently been engaged in a series of back-and-forth responses to attacks on his work from YouTube science communicator Dave Farina. This has given Tour a new opportunity to critique experts in the field of abiogenesis and allows an interested public to evaluate both sides of the argument. Philosopher of science Dr. Stephen Meyer hosts these engaging conversations. Meyer is author of the 2009 book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, which explores theories attempting to explain the origin of the first life. So Meyer is the perfect candidate to unpack Tour's expertise and draw out key insights. In Part 1, Meyer and Tour critique the work of origin of life researcher Steve Benner. Along the way, they discuss the basic definition of life, the RNA world hypothesis, the problem with hands-on chemistry, and why the challenges facing origin of life research increase every year as our understanding of the cell grows. "What is being simulated is the need for intelligent agency to move simple chemicals in a life-friendly direction," says Meyer, and researchers "seem utterly blind to the role of their own hand, their own mind, in achieving the results that they get, such as they are." This is Part 1 of a four-part series of conversations. Watch the video versions of these at Dr. Meyer's YouTube channel: @DrStephenMeyer Learn more about Dr. Tour's work via his YouTube channel: @DrJamesTour Read More ›
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David Berlinski on Chickens, Eggs, Human Exceptionalism, and a Revolution

On today’s ID the Future, Science After Babel author David Berlinski continues discussing his newly released book from Discovery Institute Press. In this conversation with host Andrew McDiarmid, Berlinski explores a chicken-and-egg problem facing origin-of-life research, a blindness afflicting some evolutionists focused on human origins, and the mystery of why science almost flowered in ancient Greece, early Medieval China, and in the Muslim-Arab Medieval Empire, but did not, having to await the scientific revolution that swept through Europe beginning in the sixteenth century. Check out the endorsements and get your copy, paperback or e-book, at scienceafterbabel.com. Read More ›
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Golden bubbles of sludge gas on a swamp

James Tour Talks Origin-of-Life Dealbreakers

On today’s ID the Future, distinguished synthetic organic chemist James Tour of Rice University explains why the goal of synthesizing life from non-life in conditions similar to those of the early Earth appears further away than ever. It’s not an illusion, he explains. The illusion was how close OOL researchers thought they were 50-70 years ago. They were never close, and the more we learn about how mind-bogglingly sophisticated even the simplest cells are, and how the complexity is essential for biological life, the more we realize just how far we are from constructing a plausible scenario for the mindless origin of the first life. Tour points out that even granting a great deal of intelligent design in the form of the highly skilled and interventionist work of the origin-of-life researchers in the lab, they still can’t engineer into existence all the key building blocks of a living cell. What if you handed them all the building blocks in the right proportions? They’re still nowhere near being able to intelligently design those ingredients into a living cell, Tour says. It has to do with what’s termed the interactome—that is, all the interdependent molecular interactions in a particular cell, many of which may initially appear unimportant but turn out to be crucial. Tour doesn’t argue that researchers will never be able to design a cell from non-living matter. He does say that if it is achieved, it will be well into the future. What will such an achievement underscore? As Luskin emphasizes, it will highlight the creative power of intelligent agency. The occasion for Dr. Tour’s conversation with host Casey Luskin is Tour’s essay in a new book now available for free download, Science and Faith in Dialogue. For more from Dr. Tour, check out his website and his YouTube channel.

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Stephen Meyer and Skeptic Michael Shermer, Pt. 1

Today’s ID the Future spotlights the first part of a lively and cordial conversation between host and atheist Michael Shermer and Stephen Meyer, author of Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe. In this first of the four-part series, the two touch on everything from Meyer’s three key lines of evidence for theism to a quick flyover of less well-known materialistic origins theories, including the oscillating universe model, panspermia as an explanation for the origin of the first life on earth, and Stephen Hawking’s idea of imaginary time. Meyer lumps many of these ideas under what he terms exotic naturalism and suggests that the atheists who defend these explanations are multiplying exotic and unobserved entities to hold at bay a much simpler and more reasonable explanation for the evidence—namely, intelligent design. But is Meyer simply guilty of confirmation bias in arriving at his conclusion? Meyer turns the question around and suggests that it’s those who are wedded to methodological materialism who appear to be led by a confirmation bias. The interview is reposted here by permission of Michael Shermer.

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The Origin of Life was the Origin of an Engineering Marvel

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.

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God Hypothesis Returns: Frank Turek and Stephen Meyer Report

Today’s ID the Future episode features excerpts from a lively conversation with Frank Turek as host and Stephen Meyer as guest. The focus: Meyer’s new USA Today bestseller, Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.* The two discuss the new book, and Meyer fields questions from the audience. The conversation originally appeared on Turek’s national radio show, CrossExamined, and the excerpts from that longer interview are used here with permission.

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Couple standing on the beach at sunset are having problems with each other

Brian Miller Talks Star-Crossed RNA Strands and the Origin of Life

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.