ID the Future Intelligent Design, Evolution, and Science Podcast

self-replicating molecule

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.

RNA World in a World of Hurt

On this ID the Future, biophysicist Cornelius Hunter and host Eric Anderson discuss the RNA World hypothesis, an explanation for how the first self-reproducing organism might have arisen via mindless chemical processes. Hunter and Anderson have each written on the topic, and together they unpack some of the many and growing problems with this RNA-first explanation for the origin of life. They also spotlight some recent admissions in mainstream scientific publications that it’s time to move on from the cherished but embattled RNA World. The conversation pivots off of a recent essay by Hunter at Evolution News, “RNA World: Repeated Downfalls, Repeated Resurrections.” For more on the challenges of creating the first self-reproducing biological entity, see Eric Anderson’s Chapter 3 of Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell.

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New ID Book Zeroes in on Evolution’s Zero-Probability Problem

On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid concludes his conversation with Eric Anderson, one of the co-authors of the new Discovery Institute Press book Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. Today they talk about Anderson’s second of two chapters in the book, where he explores the challenges of building a self-replicating 3D printer, and the light this sheds on the origin-of-life community’s search for their Holy Grail, a self-reproducing molecule that could have kickstarted the evolutionary process on the early earth. In their conversation, Anderson suggests that there are engineering principles involved in the origin of life that may mean that a naturalistic origin of life is less like winning a long-odds lottery, and more like the chances of an inventor successfully building a perpetual motion machine. That is, it isn’t just a tough probability problem; there are reasons for concluding that it’s impossible in principle. Also, Anderson notes, the early Earth wasn’t the kinder, gentler place for simple self-replicators that Darwin or Dawkins has imagined.

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Purple transparent molecule model over purple

New ID Book Puts “Self-Replicating Molecules” Under the Microscope

On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid interviews Eric Anderson, one of the co-authors of the new book Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. The two discuss Eric’s chapters on the origin-of-life problem. There’s the problem of generating the information required of the first life form. And there’s another problem, one Anderson uses his engineering background to explore — the insuperable challenges to generating a self-replicating molecule, a hypothetical entity at the heart of some recent attempts to render plausible the evolution of non-life into cellular life.