Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Origin Stories – RNA, DNA and a Dose of Imagination

Thanks to News for plugging our new book here: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/evolution/excerpt-from-new-id-book-evolution-and-intelligent-design-in-a-nutshell/ Couple of follow-up items worth checking out, for those interested in the origin of life. How much progress are we really making in abiogenesis research? From Evolution News: Origin Stories — RNA, DNA, and a Dose of Imagination From ID the Future podcast: https://www.discovery.org/multimedia/audio/2020/06/new-id-book-puts-self-replicating-molecules-under-the-microscope/ (Apologies for the audio quality in the latter; I think the second episode, hopefully coming out next week, will be slightly better.)

Have 99% of All Species Gone Extinct?

Dear readers, It has been far too long since my last post, occasioned by the fact that I have entirely too many irons in the fire. I hope you will forgive this brief “drive-by” post, with a request for some help and information. One of the common refrains that comes up regarding the fossil record, or regarding claims about biodiversity and the evolution of species more generally, is that the vast majority of species that have ever lived on the Earth have gone extinct. This is often phrased as “99% of species that have ever lived have gone extinct” or similar wording. (Occasionally someone will temper the number to 98% or 95% or some other nearby figure, but 99% seems Read More ›

The Universe Hawking Created from Nothing

We’ve recently noted with sadness the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, noted theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and one of the most well-known authors and speakers on these subjects in our lifetime. Over at Evolution News, David Klinghoffer points us to an interview of Professor John Lennox by Dr. Jay Richards regarding some of the things Hawking said in his noted 2010 book, The Grand Design. This interview is from several years ago, not long after Lennox published his response to Hawking’s book, but is well worth revisiting in light of recent events as we remember and evaluate Hawking’s life and contributions. In the interview, Lennox and Richards discuss such head-scratchers as Hawking’s claim that “the universe can and will create Read More ›

Is OOL Part of Darwinian Evolution?

Recently I had a lengthy discussion with an acquaintance about evolution and the various concepts and claims that we find under the heading of the word “evolution.”  At one point I brought up the origin of life and he promptly insisted: “that’s not part of evolution.” “Perhaps,” I offered, “but consider that the origin of life is generally included under the heading of ‘evolution’ in biology textbooks, complete with optimistic discussions about the famous experiment by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey.” “Furthermore,” I continued, “researchers have long talked about ‘chemical evolution’ in relation to the origin of life.  What do they mean by ‘evolution’ in that context, if the origin of life is not part of evolution?”  Indeed, although Darwin Read More ›

Minnich and the Materialism

Denyse recently linked to a presentation by Scott Minnich regarding the bacterial flagellum.  Minnich is probably among the dozen or so leading experts in the world on the bacterial flagellum.  Much of the information in his presentation will be familiar to followers of the issues, but a few points bear further examination. First a couple of bench-science items that jumped out at me: Minnich and his team discovered that DNA has a regulatory function in the form of a temperature switch.  Let me be clear, it is not that DNA codes for some molecular machine that is a temperature switch.  The DNA itself is the switch.  In simple terms, the coding portion that codes for a particular protein is bounded Read More ›

Confusing Probability: The “Every-Sequence-Is-Equally-Improbable” Argument

Note to Readers: The past few days on this thread there has been tremendous activity and much discussion about the concept of probability.  I had intended to post this OP months ago, but found it still in my drafts folder yesterday mostly, but not quite fully, complete.  In the interest of highlighting a couple of the issues hinted at in the recent thread, I decided to quickly dust off this post and publish it right away.  This is not intended to be a response to everything in the other thread.  In addition, I have dusted this off rather hastily (hopefully not too hastily), so please let me know if you find any errors in the math or otherwise, and I will be happy Read More ›

The Antikythera Mechanism and the Design Inference

Today’s Google Doodle honors the Antikythera mechanism discovered in 1901 from the Antikythera shipwreck. This remarkable object has been the subject of intense study for more than a century, with various theories about its precise origin and construction still being put forward.  Debates have played out about when it was constructed, by whom it was constructed, and the purpose of its construction. Yet no-one has questioned whether it was designed. It was clear from the characteristics of the object itself that it was designed. It was clear that it was designed before subsequent questions were asked or (tentatively) answered about who designed it, when it was designed, how it was designed, where the designers came from, what their purpose was, whether there Read More ›

Programming by Accident – The Darwinian Paradigm

The last couple of days I have spent too much time trying to rescue a hard drive.  This drive was intended for a Windows 10 system, but it would not appear anywhere in utilities.  BIOS could recognize it was plugged in, but that was it.  Nothing in Explorer, nothing in Disk Management, not even in the command-line diskpart partitioning utility.  In fact, just plugging the drive in would cause all of these to hang until terminated. I went through the whole litany of troubleshooting procedures: BIOS check, memory diagnostics, different slots, direct plug, external connections, a special cloning hardware connection.  Nothing. Finally, after painstaking effort on multiple different machines I was able to get a Linux command-line terminal on one Read More ›

Similarities Between the Debates Over Evolution and Global Warming

For years I have closely followed both the evolution debate and the global warming debate.*  There are some important differences between the two debates, which may be the subject of a subsequent post.  However, the number of similarities is striking.  Enough so that for some time I have seriously considered writing a book detailing the parallels.  I believe it would be highly instructive for many– particularly for those who accept the party line of one of the theories but not the other – to recognize the many similarities between the two debates. Given the realities of other time commitments, however, I suspect my nascent efforts will never make it to publication before catastrophic global warming either fades with a whimper or Read More ›

New Evidence Against the Existence of God: Antarctica, Arizona, Atlantic Ocean

Recently over on this thread started by Barry we have been discussing one of the tired atheist arguments against God’s existence: bad design.  The discussion has been primarily in the context of some of Carl Sagan’s remarks cited by john_a_designer, but Sagan is by no means unique in his failed efforts. Commenter rvb8 had the audacity to claim that the faulty “bad design” line of argumentation is in fact a “well argued point,” warning in the same breath that we mustn’t question Sagan because, well, Sagan was an important science guy. When pressed on the matter, rvb8 dug in his heels and reasserted that the bad design line of argumentation “is sound,” pointing out that God was tremendously wasteful. Now I’ve heard Read More ›

The Big Bang, The First Cause, and God

Over on a recent thread there has been much interesting discussion about a recent debate between theist philosopher Rabbi Daniel Rowe and atheist philosopher A.C. Grayling.  HeKS provided a review of the matter, focusing largely on his analysis of Jerry Coyne’s responses.

I agree with HeKS’s general observation that Coyne failed to adequately address the issues.  Indeed, it seems Coyne failed to adequately understand some of the issues, a situation that is all too common.

However, I want to focus in this post on a specific aspect of the discussion, namely, some of the points raised by sean samis, starting @37 on that thread.  In his comments, samis urges caution in drawing any conclusion from the Big Bang about deity’s existence or involvement.  I do not necessarily share all of his conclusions, but I think a number of his points are worthy of additional discussion.

First of all, let me apologize to HeKS for starting a new thread.  I initially began this as a comment to the prior thread, but it became long enough that it required a separate post.  Additionally, I want to focus on a specific issue that tacks in a slightly different direction than the prior thread.

If the Universe Had a Beginning, then What? Read More ›

Evolutionary Theorists Discover How mp4 Videos Work

  Over on this thread we’ve had a lively discussion, primarily about common descent.  However, one of the key side discussions has focused on the information required to build an organism. Remarkably, some have argued that essentially nothing is required except a parts list on a digital storage medium.  Yes, you heard right.  Given the right sequence of digital characters (represented by nucleotides in the DNA molecule), each part will correctly self-assemble, the various parts will make their way automatically to the correct place within the cell, they will then automatically assemble into larger protein complexes and molecular machines to perform work, the various cells will automatically assemble themselves into larger structures, such as limbs and organs, and eventually everything will Read More ›

Back to Basics: Understanding the Design Inference

This is prompted primarily by a recent post and by the unfortunate realization that some people still do not understand the design inference, despite years of involvement in the debate. Specifically, there was discussion at Barry’s prior post about whether Elizabeth Liddle admits that “biological design inferences” may be valid in principle. Over 200 comments appeared on the prior thread, including a fair amount of back and forth between Barry, Elizabeth and me, all of which may be worth reviewing for those who are interested. However, the primary takeaway from that thread is that we need another back-to-basics primer on intelligent design – specifically, what the design inference is and how it works. Yes, I know regular readers have a great Read More ›

Alicia Cartelli on Abiogenesis

Please see the note and apology at the end of this post. —– Over on a recent thread Alicia Cartelli responded to my request that if she had “an idea how abiogenesis works” I would post it as a head post for discussion. I have not yet had time to parse through all this, other than to note that most of what Alicia discusses below was already granted for discussion purposes in my Abiogenesis Challenge. Thus, even if we were to grant the very questionable and optimistic claims, it still does not address the central issues needed for the origin of life, including the issue of information content. That said, I appreciate Alicia taking time to put together the below Read More ›