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Intelligent Design the Future: July 2010 Archives

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July 28, 2010

William Dembski's Advice for Young Intelligent Design Scientists

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On this episode of ID the Future, Anika Smith interviews mathematician and philosopher William Dembski on a break from teaching at Discovery Institute's Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design. Listen in as Dr. Dembski shares his advice for young scientists interested in ID and the hope he has for the future of intelligent design.

July 27, 2010

The Best Way to Teach Evolution: Treat It Like Science

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What's the best way to teach evolution? On this episode of ID the Future, Rob Crowther interviews Casey Luskin about his recent article, "The Constitutionality and Pedagogical Benefits of Teaching Evolution Scientifically," published in the University of St. Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy. Luskin shares from his research of the problems facing American science education -- how students not inspired to pursue science and not taught how to think like scientists -- and the solution of inquiry-based science education.

How does critical analysis of evolution promote scientific thinking? And what does the law say about teaching critiques of Darwin's theory? Tune in to find out.

You can read more about Mr. Luskin's law review article here.

July 21, 2010

Caroline Crocker Explains the Need for Scientific Integrity

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On this episode of ID the Future, Caroline Crocker is interviewed by Casey Luskin about the principles of academic freedom in education. Listen in as Dr. Crocker shares from her experience in the classroom at George Mason University and how all the problems she navigated there had a common thread: the lack of integrity in science.

Caroline Crocker is the author of the newly released book, Free To Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters and president of the American Institute for Technology and Science Education (AITSE).

July 19, 2010

The Real Story of How Caroline Crocker Was Expelled from George Mason University

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Are scientists free to think and follow the evidence wherever it leads? On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin interviews Caroline Crocker, president of the American Institute for Technology and Science Education and author of Free to Think: Why Scientific Integrity Matters. Dr. Crocker was famously expelled from her job at George Mason University. Listen in as she shares stories about her inspiring student and reveals details in her case for the first time.

For more information on Dr. Crocker's case, visit NCSE Exposed.

McIntosh addresses the objection that, thermodynamically speaking, highly organized low entropy structures can be formed at the expense of an increase in entropy elsewhere in the universe. However, he notes that this argument fails when applied to the origin of biological information:

whilst this argument works for structures such as snowflakes that are formed by natural forces, it does not work for genetic information because the information system is composed of machinery which requires precise and non-spontaneous raised free energy levels - and crystals like snowflakes have zero free energy as the phase transition occurs.

McIntosh then tackles the predominant reductionist view of biological information which "regards the coding and language of DNA as essentially a phenomenon of the physics and chemistry of the nucleotides themselves." He argues that this classical view is wrong, for "biological structures contain coded instructions which ... are not defined by the matter and energy of the molecules carrying this information."

According to McIntosh, Shannon information is not a good measure of biological information since it is "largely not relevant to functional information at the phenotype level." In his view, "[t]o consider biological information as simply a 'by product' of natural selective forces operating on random mutations is not only counter-intuitive, but scientifically wrong." According to McIntosh, one major reason for this is "the irreducibly complex nature of the machinery involved in creating the DNA/mRNA/ ribosome/amino acid/protein/DNA-polymerase connections." He continues:

All of these functioning parts are needed to make the basic forms of living cells to work. ... This, it may be argued, is a repeat of the irreducible complexity argument of Behe [67], and many think that that debate has been settled by the work of Pallen and Matzke [68] where an attempt to explain the origin of the bacterial flagellum rotary motor as a development of the Type 3 secretory system has been made. However, this argument is not robust simply because it is evident that there are features of both mechanisms which are clearly not within the genetic framework of the other. That is, the evidence, far from pointing to one being the ancestor of the other, actually points to them both being irreducibly complex. In the view of the author this argument is still a very powerful one.

Further citing Signature in the Cell, McIntosh states:

What is evident is that the initial information content in DNA and living proteins rather than being small must in fact be large, and is in fact vital for any process to work to begin with. The issue of functional complexity and information is considered exhaustively by Meyer [93, 94] who argues that the neo-Darwinist model cannot explain all the appearances of design in biology.

So how do biological systems achieve their highly ordered, low-entropy states? McIntosh's argument is complementary to that of Stephen Meyer's, but it takes a more thermodynamic approach. According to McIntosh, information is what allows biological systems to attain their high degrees of order:

the presence of information is the cause of lowered logical entropy in a given system, rather than the consequence. In living systems the principle is always that the information is transcendent to, but using raised free energy chemical bonding sites

McIntosh solves the problem of the origin of information by arguing that it must arise in a "top-down" fashion which requires the input of intelligence:

[T]here is a perfectly consistent view which is a top-down approach where biological information already present in the phenotypic creature (and not emergent as claimed in the traditional bottom-up approach) constrains the system of matter and energy constituting the living entity to follow intricate non-equilibrium chemical pathways. These pathways whilst obeying all the laws of thermodynamics are constantly supporting the coded software which is present within ... Without the addition of outside intelligence, raw matter and energy will not produce auto organization and machinery. This latter assertion is actually repeatedly borne out by experimental observation - new machinery requires intelligence. And intelligence in biological systems is from the non-material instructions of DNA.

This thinking can be applied to DNA: since "the basic coding is the cause (and thus reflects an initial purpose) rather than the consequence, [the top-down approach] gives a much better paradigm for understanding the molecular machinery which is now consistent with known thermodynamic principles." McIntosh explains that the low-entropy state of biological systems is the result of the workings of machines, which must be built by intelligence:

It has often been asserted that the logical entropy of a non-isolated system could reduce, and thereby new information could occur at the expense of increasing entropy elsewhere, and without the involvement of intelligence. In this paper, we have sought to refute this claim on the basis that this is not a sufficient condition to achieve a rise in local order. One always needs a machine in place to make use of an influx of new energy and a new machine inevitably involves the systematic raising of free energies for such machines to work. Intelligence is a pre-requisite.

He concludes his paper with an express endorsement of intelligent design: "the implication of this paper is that it supports the so-called intelligent design thesis - that an intelligent designer is needed to put the information into the biological system."

I have no doubt that the editors of International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics will take much heat for publishing this paper. Even though they make it clear that "[t]he reader should not assume that the Journal or the reviewers agree with the conclusions of the paper," they should be commended for their courage in publishing it it and calling it a "a valuable contribution that challenges the conventional vision that systems can design and organise themselves." They write, "The Journal hopes that the paper will promote the exchange of ideas in this important topic" -- showing that there is hope for true academic freedom on the debate over ID in some corners of the scientific community.

July 16, 2010

Evidence for Intelligent Design

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On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin responds to emails from students who want to know the scientific evidence for intelligent design.

What do we really mean when we say that evolution is a scientific theory? Is there a positive case to be made for ID? Listen in and find out.

For more information, check out The Positive Case for Design.

July 14, 2010

ID The Future Video Podcast: Biological Information and the Origin of Life featuring Dr. Stephen Meyer

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On this special video episode of ID The Future, Dr. Stephen Meyer answers the question: What is the key thing that needs to be explained in origin of life research? According to Meyer it is all about biological information.

Watch other videos about intelligent design featuring Dr. Meyer:

Stephen Meyer on What Intelligent Design Is

Is Intelligent Design Science?

July 12, 2010

Setting the Record Straight with Caroline Crocker

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On this episode of ID the Future Casey Luskin interviews Caroline Crocker, who shares about her experience during the filming of "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" and how she first became interested in the debate over origins. What was it like for Dr. Crocker when she was expelled for questioning Darwinian evolution (and having Ben Stein write the Foreword for her new book, Free to Think)? Listen in and find out.

For more information on Dr. Crocker's story, be sure to check out the new website for her book, www.freetothinknow.com.

July 9, 2010

The Design Argument Is Unrefuted: Stephen Meyer Responds to Critics In Signature in the Cell, Part 4

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On this episode of ID the Future, philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer responds to critics of intelligent design, such as Richard Dawkins and his book, The God Delusion.

How do critics of ID miss the point, and what are the questions they should be asking about intelligent design? Listen in to find out, and check out Dr. Meyer's new book, Signature in the Cell, where Dr. Meyer goes into more detail.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.
Click here for Part 2 of this series.
Click here for Part 3 of this series.

July 7, 2010

DNA Evidence for Design: Stephen C. Meyer and Signature in the Cell, Part 3

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On this episode of ID the Future CSC Director Stephen C. Meyer explains the problem that information presents to origin of life researchers within a naturalistic paradigm. Information within the cell presents a daunting challenge to Darwin's theory -- and provides significant evidence for a signature of a designing intelligence, as Meyer explains in his new book.

Listen in and check out Dr. Meyer's book, Signature in the Cell (now available in paperback), which shares the depth of Dr. Meyer's research into the origin of information and the digital code in DNA.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.
Click here for Part 2 of this series.

July 2, 2010

Delving Into Science at Cambridge: Stephen C. Meyer and Signature in the Cell, Part 2

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On this episode of ID the Future philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer continues the story of how he became involved in intelligent design, sharing some of what he studied while at Cambridge University. What methods do scientists use to study biological origins? Is there a distinctive method of historical scientific inquiry? Meyer set off to investigate not only the history of scientific ideas about the origin of life, but also questions about the definition of science and about how scientists study and reason about ancient events in the past.

Listen in to learn, and check out Dr. Meyer's book, Signature in the Cell, which tells more of the story, the culmination of over 20 years of study and research on the origins of life. SITC is now available in paperback at Amazon.com and through bookstores everywhere.

Click here for Part 1 of this series.