Intelligent Design The Future
Summary: The ID The Future (IDTF) podcast carries on Discovery Institute's mission of exploring the issues central to evolution and intelligent design. IDTF is a short podcast providing you with the most current news and views on evolution and ID. IDTF delivers brief interviews with key scientists and scholars developing the theory of ID, as well as insightful commentary from Discovery Institute senior fellows and staff on the scientific, educational and legal aspects of the debate.
On this episode of ID the Future, host Andrew McDiarmid draws on an essay at Evolution News & Science Today to explore some intricate optimized insect designs that are inspiring human engineers and raise the question, could evolution have done that? Cicadas and dragonflies use an exquisitely engineered "bed of nails" on their wings to disarm and neutralize bacteria. Butterflies and bird feathers also use this trick. There are fruit flies that have multiple navigation systems, complete with error correction for hard turns. And the sea skater insect is able to walk on water and launch itself explosively thanks to an impressive combination of engineering marvels. Did evolution really bring all those design factors together? Or was something else required--intelligence and foresight?
On this episode of ID the Future, Andrew McDiarmid continues his conversation with Robert Waltzer, chair of the department of biology at Belhaven University and co-author of Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell, on three big problems faced by naturalistic evolutionary theory. First, it appears that science has turned up several instances of what is known as irreducible complexity, something that Darwin himself said would falsify his theory if ever discovered. Second, various proposed “trees of life” conflict with each other, a problem that has grown worse as additional evidence and methods have arisen, a trend that makes theories of common descent difficult to sustain. And third, we know of no case where information is generated or improved without intelligent action behind it. Evolutionists still hold on to their theories, but why are they not more open at least to debate and criticism? Professor Waltzer suggests multiple possibilities.
On this episode of ID the Future, biochemist Michael Behe reviews the Long Term Evolution Experiment at Michigan State, where Richard Lenki’s team was initially excited to see what they thought was a new species forming in their flasks of E. coli. As Behe has written at Evolution News, one flask of E. coli in Lenski’s experiment evolved the ability to metabolize (“eat”) citrate in the presence of oxygen. But along with it came multiple mutations breaking genes, degrading genetic information, and ultimately increasing the bacteria’s death rates. It all goes to support Behe’s thesis in Darwin Devolves: evolution is good at creating niche advantages by breaking things; it isn’t good at building fundamentally novel form, the very thing the grand narrative of modern evolutionary theory purports to do.
On this episode of ID the Future, biologist and professor Robert Waltzer talks with host Andrew McDiarmid about Waltzer’s chapter in the new Discovery Institute Press volume Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell. Waltzer’s chapter covers some key terms in the evolution/ID conversation that are often misunderstood or misused. These include the word “evolution” itself, “change over time,” “common descent,” and “natural selection.” He offers quick definitions and explains some of the confusion surrounding them. Waltzer also describes an encouraging success story of his about fostering open dialogue and exploration of the evidence for design in nature.
On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson concludes his talk with host Andrew McDiarmid on what it takes to converse effectively with scientists who are trapped in a naturalistic parabola--that is, researchers who draw their conclusions from naturalism’s authority rather than following the evidence wherever it leads. Nelson urges us to keep the third party in the conversation: Nature herself. We listen to nature through experiment, he says, and warns against the message from scientists such as CalTech’s Sean Carroll who have suggested that testing is “overrated.” If we listen and test, nature can keep revealing herself in surprising ways, says Nelson, which is what makes science so fun.
On this episode of ID the Future from the vault, Cal State history professor Richard Weikart, author of The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life, talks racism past and present, in both Christian and “scientific” secular history. Racism can be found in both arenas, Weikart notes, but Charles Darwin made racial variation — and the claim that certain races were inferior — a key plank in his case for evolution by random variation and natural selection. Weikart goes on to suggest that materialistic Darwinism provides precious little to ground the idea of universal human dignity and rights, ideas with a strong grounding in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson continues sharing with host Andrew McDiarmid about pursuing intelligent design theory in a science culture committed to naturalism. Or as Nelson puts it this time, it’s about trying to communicate with scientists who are trapped in a naturalistic parabola. That parabola sets the rule and defines the boundaries for science: naturalistic answers only. And it extends to infinity, so no finite number of objections or counter-examples can force naturalistic scientists out of it. Nelson, however, offers an alternative strategy for drawing them out of the parabola.
This classic episode of ID the Future could have been titled Nightmare at the Museum. In this episode, Discovery Institute’s John West introduces listeners to a shocking chapter of American history, drawing from his new documentary, Human Zoos: America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism. Learn of a time when this cherished American museum promoted Darwinian-inspired efforts to breed a master race. To learn more visit the film website, HumanZoos.org.
On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Paul Nelson speaks with host Andrew McDiarmid about pursuing intelligent design theory in a naturalistic culture. Nelson springboards from his appreciation for his University of Pittsburgh mentor Adolf Grünbaum, with whom he shared the kind of friendship that can come from caring deeply about the same things, even if taking different positions on them. He speaks of what it means to hold a minority position, and some of the potential pitfalls that come with holding a majority position -- and the danger we can all face of seeking polemical advantage rather than truth.
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 have imagined.
In this episode of ID the Future from the vault, hear about electricity and bioluminescence, as highlighted in Dr. Geoffrey Simmons’ book, Billions of Missing Links. Listen in to learn about how a knee jerk reaction, eels, and the knife fish all use electrical impulses.
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.
On this episode of ID the Future, we hear the third and final portion of a talk given at the 2020 Dallas Science and Faith conference. Daniel Reeves, education outreach coordinator at Discovery Institute, rounds out his extended explanation of intelligent design theory. Far from being “Gee whiz that’s complicated; it must be designed!,” the theory relies on well-defined concepts such as specified complexity and an explanatory filter that allows one to distinguish designed events from either chance, necessity, or a combination of the two. The key in the molecular biological realm: detecting functional information.
On this episode of ID The Future from the vault, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow David Klinghoffer discusses the move by National Review editor Rich Lowry in 2012 to sever ties with two regular contributors, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, after discovering their connections to racialist groups promoting race superiority, eugenics, and other morally repugnant ideas. Klinghoffer explains how Darwinian evolution has informed proponents of these ideas, and how important it is to identify and root out this kind of thinking before it has a chance to pollute respectable institutions and publications. As Klinghoffer makes clear, Darwinian ideas are hardly the only possible source of racist thinking, and of course racism long predates Charles Darwin. But Darwinism has proved fertile soil for scientific racism in the modern period, one more reason among many to take a hard, honest look at the growing scientific evidence against modern Darwinism. For more on how Darwinism has contributed to the tragedy of scientific racism in America, watch the award-winning Discovery Institute documentary Human Zoos: America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism, now with more than a million views.
On this episode of ID the Future, Discovery Institute education outreach specialist Daniel Reeves illustrates how ID opponents commonly erect mindless straw men versions of the theory of intelligent design, as if by refuting a false version they’ve done any damage to the real thing. Then, in this middle portion of a talk he gave to students at the 2020 Dallas Science and Faith Conference, he explains what ID really is, and the central question ID seeks to answer.