On today’s ID the Future, bioethicist Wesley J. Smith explores a recent article in the journal Nature, “The Alarming Rise of Complex Genetic Testing in Human Embryo Selection.” As alarming as that title sounds, Smith says the reality is even worse than the Nature article suggests. Using the breakthrough technology known as CRISPR, scientists are not only altering the genes of a given creature, including humans, but are even altering the creature’s germline. This threatens to permanently alter a species, Smith explains, including the human species. There’s the question of whether we have the right play god in this way, of course. There’s also the practical issue of scientists not really knowing what they are doing yet. A gene identified as having a certain negative effect and therefore targeted for elimination, Smith says, could turn out to also have a positive effect that was only discovered after the gene was eliminated. This precise scenario may have occurred in a case in China involving human beings. Tune in to learn more, and check out Smith’s new podcast, Humanize.Show.
This ID the Future continues the debate between design theorist Casey Luskin, an editor of The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, and science historian Adam Shapiro, co-author of Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction. Justin Brierley, of the popular British debate program Unbelievable?, hosts. In this second half of the conversation, Shapiro argues that intelligent design’s popularity seems to have waned. Casey Luskin counters, arguing that the number and frequency of New York Times articles on ID is a superficial metric and that the ID research program is exploding, with the number of peer-reviewed ID papers growing every year, and the number of interested graduate students, ID hubs, and conferences expanding around the world, including ID conferences attended by high-level scientists, including Nobel Laureates. Luskin and Shapiro also discuss religious and academic freedom as it relates to the teaching of evolution and intelligent design in the classroom. Shapiro is actually more sanguine than Luskin about the freedom of high school biology teachers to teach intelligent design. Luskin, who has both a PhD in geology and a law degree, strongly advises high school biology teachers in public schools against teaching ID in the classroom. Instead, he says, the better and legally safer approach is to teach evolutionary theory comprehensively, covering both the evidence for it but also some of the evidence in the peer-reviewed literature against it. Luskin and Shapiro also part company on the nature of the intelligent design argument, with Shapiro suggesting that in practice it often amounts to a presenter highlighting some amazing feature in biology and then giving glory to God. Luskin pushes back, reiterating that intelligent design is an argument based on positive evidence, and is an argument to the best explanation–intelligent design–one that employs standard methods of scientific reasoning. This program is presented here with permission of Justin Brierley. To see this and other Unbelievable? episodes, go here. The first half of this conversation can be found here.
Today’s ID the Future spotlights The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, and specifically, an essay in the new anthology by biologist Jonathan Wells, “Is Darwinism a Theory in Crisis?” As Wells and host Casey Luskin note, the essay title alludes to philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn’s influential 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn argued there that if one studies the history of scientific revolutions, one finds that when the scientific evidence has begun to turn against a dominant scientific paradigm—when its days are numbered— its adherents do not simply concede defeat. Instead they use all their institutional power to suppress dissent and punish proponents of any competing paradigm. This is the period of crisis, which can last for years and even decades. Wells contends that modern evolutionary theory is a current instance of a dominant paradigm in crisis. He briefly makes the case in this episode, and at greater length in his essay, which appears in the newly released anthology from Harvest House Publishers, edited by William Dembski, Casey Luskin, and Joseph Holden. Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.