Stephen C. Meyer, geophysicist, Vice President of the Discovery Institute, and author of the New York Time's best seller "Darwin's Doubt," joins me to discuss philosophy, the origins of life, the overlap of science and religion, and much more. Date: 03-24-2019
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
MRS Darwins historical scientific method when you're trying to explain an event. The rule we want to draw on your knowledge of cause and effect. If the effect is a lot new digital information? We now have a cause. Can do that in its mind or an intelligent, but here we are in the Sunday Special Especial Guess: Stephen might he's the author of the book, Darwin's doubt and intelligent design advocate we'll get to all of that in just a second. But first, let's talk about your impending death, we're all going to die at some point and that's why you should have life insurance life insurance can feel like assembling the world's worst jigsaw. So it is confusing. It takes forever going you're finally done it doesn't even look cool, but if you have a mortgage or kids are, buddy. Who depends on your income. It's a puzzle, you need to solve policy genius can help you do it Z. Genius is the easy way to get life insurance in just two minutes. You can compare, quotes from top insurers and find the best policy for you when you apply online The advisers at policy genius will handle all the red tape for you there
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I worked as a gift physicist for five years and industry and went from there too, Do the programme and the philosophy of science, but specifically, philosophy biology. Cambridge university were my pc dissertation, was on the origin of life problem. It is a very indifferent plenary question: how did lifers arise from presumably the nine living chemicals so scared, biochemistry molecular biology, thermodynamics information theory, it submits a question that has lots of different subjects involves those very interdisciplinary phd in case cell with all of that said, if you go to your Wikipedia page, the first thing that it says that you're, the advocates of a pseudo pseudo scientific theory called intelligent design. So, let's start with a couple of questions on that. First of all, people suggest that you are a creed.
Just what is the difference between intelligent design? The argument for intelligent design and creationism right well creationism holds that it takes. The Bible was the basis of the theory. So creationism is it as an interpretation are added. Deduction from religious authority, whereas intelligent design is an inference from biological and physical Cosmo, logical evidence. So the one starts from the data of the natural world. The other starts from scripture, the other, the other differences that most creation is hold to a view that the earth is very young, do has created maybe ten thousand years ago or something I got. I d itself as an age neutral theory, but most of us hold the standard, ancient dates for the universe and for life so landing and planet earth, so I'm an old earth guy says that the link, the case, though that is generally made against intelligent design, is the idea that it's not a scientific theory. So isn't it
Design need the idea that there is somebody you don't actually say God, but that something that was some intelligent force that moved the universe that they created life on earth. Those responsible in your book for that brain explosion. How is this a scientific theory, as opposed to just as maybe Richard Dawkins would say, God of the gaps argument? Well, one of the things I did when I first set off to grasp alive my my stories that I was encountered. This information argument with the most extraordinary discoveries of twenty censure biology, is that at the foundation of life is information in a digital form. The dna molecules stores, information for character, digital code and the this discovery of wants. An increase in the fifties has overcome.
I'm created an impasse in both chemical evolutionary theory, which is which are the theories about the origin of the first life, and there is a biological evolution it as well, which are theories about how you get new forms of life from pre existing forms because to build anything in in biology. You ve gotta have code, you gotta have information, so I became fascinated with that question and the possibility that the the information at the foundation of Life as action indicator of the activity of mind of of intelligence and but to determine whether not that argument can be formulated scientifically. I headed dig in a little deeper into how scientists go about reasoning about these origins, questions about events
in the remote past and oddly one of the people most helpful to me- and that was Charles Darwin himself, because in the nineteenth century he and his men to Charles I M the great geologists developed, a method for investigating historical scientific questions, and they had a principle of reasoning. They called the vera causa principle or the idea that, if you want explained an event, the remote past, you should posit an event cause which is known to have the power to produce the effect in question and as I began to think about that, I realise that it was possible to formulate a case for intelligent design strictly scientific manner and using the method of life. Darwin because ass, we think about the origin of formation? The one thing we know is that it always arises from an intelligent source, whether we're talking about a hieroglyphic inscription or a paragraph in a book or information embedded in a radio signal. Whenever you find information, especially if it's in a digital or alphabetic form you trace it back to its source, you always come to mind, not a material process so using the same scientific method of reason,
the Darwin used. I came to a different non darwinian conclusion, which was that there is evidence of intelligent design, not just what the darwinian call apparent design in the history of life, so If our theory is unscientific, darwinian theory would be as well, but I think voters scientific, I just argue- for one in increasing the other six lust for of science. Karl Popper has suggested that science is basically that which can be falsified, so what evidence have to rise for the theory of intelligent design to be falsified. You would have to find an underactive process that was kicked that was capable of producing information beyond the threshold that we have defined Matthew. Ethically. There's there there's a amount of formation that might arise by chance based on what are called the probabilistic universe, researchers, the universe, but if you get
beyond that, from an indirect, a process that would falsify our claim that only mind can produce that amount of information. There are also other ways of conceiving of what makes something of scientific theory rather than poppers idea. It's been critique by philosophers of science, typically, a more more popular human philosophers of science. Is that what scientists are really doing is they're making inferences to the best explanation, and that's how I framed the argument in Darwin Stout and in signature in the cell for intelligent design? The best explanation would be one that poses a cause which is known to produce the effect in question and in the best cases where there is only one on such cause and that's kind of argument. I make for intelligent design that only intelligence only mind is capable of generating the amount of information needed for these big jumps in biological complexity in the history of life. So in the history of science and the philosophy assigns there's been this interesting battle between sort of religious thugs who believe that really
the interests they suffer from science and folks who believed that religion in science are intertwined and that one on the one side you have sort of the Thomas Aquinas that their God and nature speaking the same language. The other side. You have the William overcome argument that, basically, God can do whatever he wants, and so what we don't want is a theory of science. They can disprove God and the foot J Goulds, not overlapping, matches Jerry argument at times handles this dying. Religion handles this stuff in there's no cross over. So where does intelligent design lie in inaccurate? That's a really great question is a bit there's really there's basically three different approaches to the iter interface between science and religious belief, Belief, one is the idea that you are in conflict, and that was the kind of dominant view that came out the late nineteenth century. Most historians of science now reject that is very simple Another view is that the Stephen Jangle View is that science and faith are in occupy. None overlapping realms of inquiry.
Galileo, aphorism was science, tells you how the planet's go, not how to how to go to Heaven or how the Heavens go, not how to go to Heaven, but that even tell you design, I think, shows that that's also simplistic. There are many scientific questions and religious questions that are completely separate, but there are some. There are some there's some questions that both science and religions speak too, and my view is that when they speak to the same questions in the same way that there is actually far Our agreement and people realise in fact, substantial agreement, for example the origin, the universe, We now know at the beginning of the year. We had a beginning- and this is one of the first words of of the vehicle tax it in there was a beginning. So as a point of agreement about the same, the same to deal with was is the universe, finite or infinite. Both and religion are not telling us the same thing that that the universe IDA beginning intelligent design,
telling us that life in the universe where designed and that something that you would also find affirmed in the thematic religious traditions. So that's the point of agreement about especial question about, in this case about origin, the origins of of life. So I dont say that science and religion talk. They are many areas of specialised inquiry, their different questions that each address, but there are overlapping areas of interest, and increasingly, what we found is theirs. There is increasing agreement, as we understand the science better and, as we get better more sophisticated biblical interpretation, sometimes as well. What one of the biggest probably the biggest Argument against intelligent design, obviously made by the new atheists and the new its fascinating, to watch, the crossover between NEO darwinian thinkers and new atheists. They basically the same though these same group of people, or so it seems to me that not no surprise, because our doc and so do the Darwinism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfil atheists.
Atheists and also the darwinian view. The strictly darwinian view is not just. The idea of evolution is change over time, but the idea of an indirect it unguided process that produced the appearance but not the the reality of design, so they see nature essentially as being a self creating entity that can produce all the wonders of the intricacies of living organisms without any guiding hand whatsoever, and so that that lends itself to a strictly materialistic or atheistic worldview. When people answer just a bit intelligent design advocates are anti evolution that they, they don't believe in the theory of evolution. So what does the theory of evolution say to start and then what in it is, is an argument to far. That's us great caution, this the term evolution is a term that has multiple meanings. So if you want to avoid the fallacy of equivocation, it's really good to define terms
right from the beginning, so the first meeting is changed over time. Obviously that that can mean a couple different things itself. It can refer to the small scale variation that we see with things like the Galapagos Finches, where their beaks get LE bigger will smaller in response to varying weather conditions. It can also referred to the fact that life on the planet today is different than it was in the period of the Jurassic. When you had the dinosaurs, roaming, the earth or in the Cambridge, and when you had trial bites, we ve a change in the representation of life forms, overtime and the fossil record. Nobody doubts either of those meetings of evolution. Second, big meaning of evolution is the idea that all forms of life are connected by common ancestry, back to a single ancestral for
I'm a single one, celled organisms, so Darwin represent that idea with his concept of the tree of life. That's an idea of evolution is consistent with the idea of intelligent design, those many intelligent design proponents and others. The other scientists, including a looser biologists, we're getting increasingly sceptical about it, because there's so much evidence of discontinuity in the fossil record, in discontinuity in in the in the study of of genomics, where we have things like orphan genes, which are big classes of genes, that are unique to certain taxes and dont show any similarity to a two other genes anywhere else. In the end, in the in the genomic databases. So you have the sense of genetic information popping into existence in different classes of organisms.
Continuity. Third, meaning of evolution is the one, though that's really that this really contentious and that's the idea that that natural selection and random mutation are sufficient to produce all the new forms of life and the appearance of design that living forms manifest. So it's an unguided process that produces the appearance, but not the reality of design, and that's that's the meaning of evolution that the theory of intelligent design is challenging, that some intelligent design proponents may be sceptical about common to send others are not, but is that third, meaning that unites us and the end and What the theory of intelligent design is about we're challenging idea that purely indirect processes can produce the complexity or the information necessary to build the complexity of living organisms. Sing. You make a couple of arguments in Youtube. Darwin stout as well signature, and this one is a dna related argument. One is a fossil record related argument: They go back as you say to that theory of evolution that suggest that natural selection
and genetic mutations are enough alone to to lead to the way that life has developed over time morning. If you can start by spelling out, whereas the discontinuity with regard to the establishment of of life. Well, the first big discontinuity is the origin of life itself, which is what my first book signature in the cell addressed and many people don't realize that Darwin himself never addressed the question of the origin of the first life he these speculated about it in a letter to a friend, but he didn't. This was something he addressed in the origin of species he precept host the existence of the first living cell and there's a major discontinuity between chemical processes that we observe in what we in actual living organisms and and it's a complexity gap is absolutely extraordinary, fitted tiny miniature machines. We have,
not only the DNA, with a digital code in it, but it complex information, processing system and even that even the simplest living cells on earth. So there's a big discontinuity. There are, then there is a series of discontinuity in fossil record as we find greater greater complexity arising over time. One of the big ones that I talked about in Darwin Stout was when the Darwin that bother Darwin a great deal, which was what we now call the Cambridge explosion, which was the which is in the origin of the first major groups of animals in the fossil record. Their tested in the Middle Cambrian particular and many groups of animals exemplifying completely new body. Plans, arise very narrow window of geologic time very abruptly without discernible connection to ancestral precursors and the lower pre Cameron Strata, and that's one of the big discontinuity in history of life, there are many others ever in article with a german paleontologist Gunter Beckley about seventeen such major discontinuity,
mammalian radiation, the origin of flowering plants for the first winged insects that first dinosaurs, most of the major groups of of of like living forms on earth, arise, discontinue asleep, so that's a big deal them even bigger question, though, that I addressed in the book is apart from that discontinuity which has a puzzle for Darwinism. How would you build those organisms? What process could account for the origin of all that new form, especially now that we no, you need information, the information in DNA and from other sources to build complex new forms of life. Let's talk about information theory, so for folks you will have read your books. Don't know anything about information Derek. Why does information theory suggest that there must be some sort of designer? Obviously, people like Dawkins, who suggested
that evolution is the universal acid, that they did. They say that these things can arise by themselves. They are also make the suggestion that the information in DNA is not necessarily directed that it only seems right to tell us we're here to actually look at the direction in which it moved. It could theoretically be random. What is information here? have to swell it's. It's actually helpful. First, to go back to the molecular biological revolution of the nineteen, fifty Watson, incorrect discover and nineteen fifty three they elucidate. Rather the structure, the dna molecules. They discovered this beautiful. He looked structure that either there is for coming units that run along the interior of the helix called bases or nucleotides bases in nineteen. Fifty seven nineteen fifty eight crick, who fifty eight a code breaker in world war, two posits was known as the sequence as the hypothesis, which is a breakthrough moment in history, biology where he realizes that the nucleotides basis on the inside of the double helix are functioning,
alphabetic characters in a written language or what we know. Think of is like that, the zeros and ones in a section of software code, which is to say it's not the physical or chemical properties of those bases that is important to their function, but rather it's their sequential arrangement in a in a quart an independent code which was later elucidated? We now call the genetic code. So what we have is a true in formation bearing system that is, that is expressing information, as it happens, for building the proteins and protein machines. That sells need this just to say, alive. So in Seattle, where I live, we ve got great information companies. We get Microsoft, which Rice Code, that Boeing and other manufacturing companies that use code and there's a process called computer, assisted design and manufacturing CAD camp. Where an engineer might write some
Code Code on a wire be converted into another machine language that can be read by a manufacturing apparatus and that information will then direct the construction of mechanical system. If you're bowing, am I put rivets exactly in the right place on the on the airplane wing in from in the same thing, is going on inside the cell, that you got information directing the construction of proteins and protein machines that are absolutely necessary for for survivability, so the big questions. Where does that information come from and also what kind of information is it? And that's where the information theory comes in in the late forty there was a scientist named Claude Shit, and who developed a mathematical theory of information, but his theory only captured history of information had to do with the reduction of uncertain. Which he showed was inversely related to improper, to probability, warmth viable and arrangement of characters. The more Shannon information that was carried but his notion of information didn't capture the
the notion of meaning or or communication function. So you could have a series of characters that were basically gibberish, but because were a periodic renewal and random. You couldn't tell whether they were meaningful or not, but they had a big information measure, so Shannon didn't capture that, France between functional or meaningful information and just in them probable arrangement of characters. So is actually not information theory, but is information theory plus a qualitative judgment about what the sequence is doing, that allows us to recognise the kind of information that we familiar with in our own parlance over the dictionary talks about the variable sequences of characters for a cup of conveying a meaning or a function and What we haven't dna and Francis Quick, was very clear on that from the beginning. It is not mere Shannon information, its information that functional and that's kind of information that, in our experience, always indicates the prior activity of intelligence
just a random arrangement might be indirectly processes. But if it's it's very specific and complex and its operating in an in accord with assemble convention, then you ve got information. That is the product of mine said this is this is where we get into the theories of probability, because the question becomes. Could there have been such a? strand of DNA that comes about by chance, because the theory, obviously, as you mentioned, of evolution, suggest that its mutations now in the dna that create all of the change in humans life, overdrive at great risk of the origin of life, probably just as I just came in there anymore and then we'll, but but when it comes to the information stringing, the dna, the contention is basically that, given enough time, you run the experiments enough. Times and eventually you'll end up with an evolution that combined with natural selection. It preserves the mutations that are good and you will end up with a something that looks design and even though it is not designed that mutation overtime being preserved by natural selection is enough. Why
and that work, it's others. Mathematical problem is a profound one, my colleague David Burlesque, because at the company tutorial problem the problem of communist oral inflation, maybe simple analogy way to get into it. We know from our experience with software code, writing an end and using it that the last thing you want intersection of functional software code is a random as a series of random changes to those areas and once, if that happens, you're going to degrade the information that, in that code, lung before you: ll ever generate a new software program, operating system and richer doc, and many many others. Biologists have acknowledge we haven't. Dna is akin to machine code or, as we were heard, puts a digital code. It's that its functioning exactly the same way So what we ve learned from software writing and using
is highly relevant to understanding whether not the mutation selection mechanism would actually generate could generate conceivably or realistically new information, and there's up there's, there's a reason that changing software at random invariably degrades the information before you get anything useful anew and that is because there are so many more ways to go wrong in any. In any system of of digital or typographical. Alphabetic communication there art there are vastly more ways of arranging the characters in question. That will generate gibberish. Then there are ways of arranging those same characters that will generate something functional. So you start randomly changing things you're over Wilmington, more likely to find a generous she sequence than a functional one, and as we actually tried to quantify that, how much more likely that the quantitative odds are prohibitive. There's a scientists who worked for fourteen years at Cambridge University Douglas acts does Patriot Caltech when onto do molecular longterm like it.
How's your research posts target at Cambridge to try to quantify this question. How rare or common are the functional sequences it would make a new protein or a new new, Jean capable of making a new protein. How? How rare are the functional ones in comparison to the non functional ones? and for a relatively short protein, oh, but a hundred fifty amino acids long. He determined that the right, Sure functional to non functional sequences was about one over attended the seventy seven the power to put that in context, there are only tended assist six the fifth atoms in the milky way galaxy. So what that means? that a random search for a new functional sequence is going to be like looking for one marked Adam among ten trillion or over sorry, I bid at what one trillion galaxies of this size the milky way. So and what it turns out that even four billion years of life history is not enough time to to solve a search problem of that man.
And I don't need all the math of this in the book and and it's it's, it's pretty straightforward. The only ten to the fourth organisms in history, the planet, not enough replication events, the storage space, one thousand and seventy seven big, so you're, looking at even in the whole, if you take the whole history of of life on the planet into account, you're only going to be able to search it tiny fraction of the total relative relevant sequences. So yet a really big haystack, really small number of needles and very little time to look for the bottom line is. Its overwhelmingly more probable that such a sick, a search was, will fail, then succeed in the known time of life on planet earth, which means that the mechanism is more likely that the hypothesis that the mechanism produce new information is more likely to be false, untrue, and so the result of this is, as you say, that its more likely that it's that is designed than that it was randomly done in terms of dna and that's reflected in the
fossil record in the extent to the extent that there have to their there's four of these jobs in the fossil record, this, what you talk about an Darwins doubt is that it's not a continuous process of of mutation commutation, building one on the other. Just randomly. It becomes engineering problem, because it's not just that there's gaps in the fossil record. You have to ask what? How would the evolutionary process produce all the new information necessary to build these completely new body plant new cell types, new anatomical structures, and we know that would take a lot of new information. And so then you ve got a little. Is there an affair, to do that do have enough trials through. This mechanism, and the answer is just overwhelmingly no, its not plausible at all mathematically and on the flip side, We do know, however, of a cause. It is sufficient to produce new information. This is why not a god of the gaps or an argument from ignorance is where were drawing, and this is- Darwin historical scientific method when you're trying to explain an event the rule past draw on your knowledge of cause and effect what kind of causes
there that we observe that is capable of producing the effect in question and if the effect is alive, a new digital information, we know of a cause they can do that in its a mind or an intelligence, and it had it happens. If that's the only known cause that can produce lots of new information, and it says much more plausible. Then the darwinian idea of a random search and we shall why mathematically it's much more plausible one of the theories about the idea that that randomness is still in the system is Stephen. Wriggles idea punctuated equilibrium that then, that essentially small groups of animals kind of went away the big group they they did other changes and then they reintegrated? Why? Why doesn't that work? They did that the fee jumps in the fossil record a result of small groups breaking away in a certain level of group selection. Goulds model was a terrific advance as far as its accuracy and describing the fossil record, because he described these big punctuation sobbing jumps and then the long term stasis that would occur. Lack of directional, evolutionary change. That's what we see in the Basel II,
very non darwinian. The problem was, he did really have. A mechanism that could accomplish the the could produce the amount of change that we are seeing eye disgusted culture. I do a whole chapter on this in Darwin Stout, but the mechanism, was called species selection lot of other evolutionary biologist, including Richard Dawkins, are very critical of the mechanism and in a way rightly so, because when it came down to in the end, was that species selection itself depended on natural selection, random mutation mechanism and that mechanism requires lots of time to get the job done. And it turns out four billion years isn't enough, but it certainly the abrupt jumps that gold was talking about we're not allowing the mechanism enough time to two works? We had this this kind of irony, an evolutionary biology in the Eightys and Ninetys in particular girls model, pretty much was dismissed by the early two thousands, but you had good model, was viewed as
a good one for describing the fossil record accurately, but it didn't have mechanism, the doorway, Also, then, as we later critique, the mechanism was also lacks the creative power to generate the information necessary to build big new major innovations in history, like so from a design perspective. What exactly is the theory of how so from a design perspective, what exactly is the theory of how one species would become another suddenly is that there is a bunch of dead DNA that is activated or is it that you are right, something injects new information into the system. How Zactly with that work? Well, I can is the question of species. Raises this whole question of olives variability we see evidence of design at that the low side of the design are when you get the major innovations occurring in history life, but the information that is present in a major group of organ,
and might be sufficient to allow a lot of variation with an within an envelope. So that's why they're there is evolution. We think there is clearly evolution that takes place questions, how how much information was present How how why the envelopes variability are that are generated by that information? So there's a terrific evolutionary biologists and sell biology biologists at the universe in Chicago also name Shapiro, James Shapiro who's got a new theory of evolution, calls natural genetic engineering and he notices that and has documented that that many of the mutations that we actually see at work are not random at all there there an expression of what he calls pre programmed adapted for capacity. Where there's a an external trigger stress, put on an organism and that triggers the print the production of certain proteins. That for which they organism had the capability of building all long is and how the genetic information there
So a lot of the evolution we see is actually pre programmed adaptive capacity which is really an exciting biological phenomenon that the Darwinian haven't really taken full account of. But it does raise the question of the origin of that adaptive capacity where the pre programming from so intelligent design says the the inputs of information from outside the system from an intelligence are located in that pre programmed adaptive passing, but, in the theory, also acknowledges that than there is evolution possible going down. Stream is the result of that pre existing information outlets. About the origin of life problem? The the question be How did organic life eyes from non organic material. There are, some experiments are done, early twentieth century, in which, under certain conditions, it looked as though maybe organic material could be created from non organic material, but they're really, as you pointed out
not been a great explanation of how nano redneck material could create an information system like DNS what we rightly so, the other famous experiments, Dylan LAW, the biology textbooks is the Miller Yuri experiment of nineteen. Fifty two nineteen, fifty three. They sparked chamber that had gases known as reducing gases that then spontaneously produced a few of the twenty protein forming amino acids. Two or three problem is that it means acids, do
The protein make and proteins by themselves do not make life, so they were really quite a long way away from demonstrating anything like spontaneous chemical origin of life is ironic that that experiment was performed in the same year as Watson and tricks discovery of the structure, the dna molecules and the subsequent elucidation, the information being properties of the molecule because in which called chemical evolutionary theory, by than nineteen sixty and certainly by the early nineteen eightys, the field reached a state of impasse. Precisely because the biologists and end the biochemists realised that to build an actual living cell, you gotta have information rich like hell? You can't just have the components. Catches have the letters you gotta have sentences, and- and so there were a number of problems with the Miller, Yuri experiment, one was they presupposed conditions on the early earth and in the early years, atmosphere that didn't actually met the conditions on the earlier we and have an early, reducing atmosphere. We had a slightly oxidizing or neutral admin,
very rerun those experiments and don't get amino acids forming spontaneously, but the bigger problem was, How do you range they acids and invite the very specific ways that are required to form a three dimensional structure, called it a protein fold and that problem has been solved heart from watching DNA? Do it inside living cells, so the bill protein what we know is you need information stored, The dna molecules, and so as as the molecular biological revolution unfolded in this. In the fifty sixty seventy people decide working on the origin of life realise the problem was much harder than they realize they didn't just need to account for kinds of building blocks of life. They needed to account for the information that would organise the building blocks in the dna molecules into protein molecules and into the complex information processing systems, the characterized even the simplest living cells. So one of the theories that has been positive, teed sort of salaries, problem? Is the socalled RNA world thesis he's hawk about yeah, exactly how that is so one of them
reasons the original I promised so hard for evolutionary biologists. Is you can't invoke natural selection reasonably because natural selection only it That'S- depends on self replication, differential survival of loss of or offspring, ok, but that only happens differential or the organism? only divide and reproduce on the basis of things that are happening at a molecular level that involve information, rich dna and proteins. So, if you're trying to explain it and of information which dna proteins you can't invoke. Prebiotic natural selection is a contradiction in terms as when the great evolutionary biologists them said so that made the origin life problem even harder than the problems we ve been talking about previously. As far as explaining the origin of the information for new forms of life, but one theory that attempted to get away
That is called the RNA world and it was. It was based on the observation that some are any molecules can generate, can form perform two functions at once. They can perform the function of information storage like DNA, but they can also catalyzed certain reactions like proteins, proteins, catalyze it much faster rate than would otherwise occur. Really crucial by chemical reactions at are crucial metabolism. So if RNA could do both the thought was then maybe life started with an rna molecule that can copy itself that can get natural selection going at a molecular level before you had life problem, is turn out again to be an information problem, so done expire. Payments on RNA. It turned out that go with the people. Have they call them right? As I'm engineering experiments in the the name is apt, because it is a lot of intelligent designs. Lot of engineering, but people Try to engineer rna molecules by
ranging the sequence of bases aren't like DNA has. Is these bases that carry information if a range, the bases very specifically just try to build or any molecules it would copy themselves to get a self replicating system going, which would get natural selection going problem? Is number one. We have been able to design some molecules. It will copy about ten percent of themselves, but only if the bases are very specifically arranged, which means that to get a self replica system going, you gotta have information and we, where's. Is the information coming from its coming from the intelligent, biochemist? whose doing the right I'm engineering so was actually being simulated in these. Relations is the need, we argue for intelligent design they are in a world doesn't eliminate, doesn't refute the the design arguments based on information. It actually demonstrates our illustrates the need for intelligent design, and so I dont think it really solve the problem unless the RNA world people are saying. Well, that's where the end
thousand designer input the information in the first place, because it seems that the biggest blow back they ve gotten, obviously in terms of intelligent design. Is the term intelligent design because seems most of the critiques that you Neo Darwinism are fairly well accepted as it is that it Increasingly, so in two thousand, sixteen number of us went attended a conference at the Royal society of London in obviously London, and it was a group of Lee evolution, biologist called a meeting to address new trends in evolution, biology. They called it was innocuous way of saying NEO Darwinism is dead and we need a new theory. First talk of the car France's by leading austrian evolution. Biologists named a girl ruler who enumerated five, what he called explanatory deficits of NEO Darwinism, elsewhere, his written that NEO Darwinism has no theory of the generative by which he means it explains the small scale variations very well like the Galapagos finches, but it doesn't explained the origin of major innovations in history, life, and so many
pollution. Biologists are now there's an aphorism, that's afoot. It's a mutation selection explained the survival, but not the arrival of the fittest. The problem is the main mechanism of evolutionary change, doesn't seem to have significant creative power and that's the problem. I think increasingly being recognised and as a result of that, many people within evolutionary biology are looking for new can isms calling for the formulation of a new theory and that's kind of this kind of striking us, an astounding emission. When you think about how the theory is presented through the textbooks through with science, popular risers, the new atheists that the public spokesmen for science, the National Centre for Science, education, the National Academy of Sciences when they talk about evolution it. It is a fact, Richard Dawkins. This said that if you, if you find someone who questions it there, either
stupid, wickeder insane, but the reality on the ground, or rather in the peer reviewed literature within evolutionary biologists, very different, there's, a recognition that the fundamental problems haven't been solved and one of which is Mueller. Now as the problem of the origin of biological form. When I saw TAT it was it's it's in a table and in in a book and he's written with another evolutionary biologists, this list of unsolved problems, which they list the origin of biological form. I was stunned this two thousand and three MIT press that was a very prominent Darwin, was supposed to be solved in eighteen, fifty nine and is now an open question. Let me with that said, it seems like four for a lot of folks like Dawkins, it's not about the God of the doubts about the darwinism of the gaps age that eventually leading to figure out the Darwinism still holds in these circumstances, where it appears not to hold it. Is that it There is as yet unclear for how to think. Well, there there's a rather is a very good explanation for that in the sociology and philosophy of science. The assumption is, we have to have a materialistic explanation,
We can't allow creative intelligence or and see your mind too. We can't posit that is as part of the explanation for our life. Not here, and there is a rule that many scientists take us normative is called. Methodological naturalism says if you're gonna be a scientist You have explain everything by reference to purely underactive material processes, and if you deviate from that anyway, you're not being scientific. That's why I got called a pseudo scientists on the the Wikipedia Webpage with a little bit of an outbreak is pretty So have me mesdames a theologians note: no, no, no training theology, but in any case this methodological rule. Is actually only as recent as the late nineteenth century in science, the founders of modern Science, Newton Boy, well Kepler, they didn't hurt this at all. They saw design in science it William in the natural world they wrote about it in their science in there in their science treaties, for example, in the general Scully into the Principia, the great work on gravitation he's gonna try
thick argument for design based on the fine tuning of the planetary orbits. So design arguments were part of science from its foundation, but they big they became verboten in the late nineteenth century after the the the origin of species and that there's very curious thing about this rule of methodological naturalism. If you're, if you're in investigating and origin questioner causal origins, question it a rule that actually limits the intellectual freedom of the scientist. There's a lot of lawyers. Eyes were mythological. Naturalism is innocuous, but if you're asking the question, what caused lie? ambient under active material process, or it might have been a mind. But then you decide in advance could being under active material process might have been a mind, but then you decide in advance that you're not going to consider any evidence of mind. Of course, you're only going to get materialistic explanations, but the explanations: may not the adequate amend imagine you go into the that the British Museum
you look at the Rosetta stone, you see all those inscriptions and three different languages- and you say well, I'd like to say was, aye. But since I have here the methodological naturalism, I've got to say It was wind and erosion, or something like that is the rule. Or actually limits scientists from falling when the evidence where it must naturally leads information based on our knowledge of cause and effect, is a strong indicator of activity of intelligence. And yet we can't say that or consider that if we accept mythological naturalism unless was going, that's why the dialectic China goes in circles, where you get a new evolutionary model every few years and then they serve back to the one that was rejected in twenty twenty years ago and start the cycle all over again because we're really looking in the wrong place, we're barking up the wrong tree mean, does raise the question if you're methodological natural lessen all you believes that indirect processes are responsible for everything. Why you, even such a thing as objective through, for example, because or the reliability of the human mind. As we were discussing before the interview round me
The idea is that the human mind is capable of grasping the world around it and there is such a thing as objective truth that we can grasp. Then that would suggest that our mind reflects the universe in some deep profound way. As some sort of evolutionary biology, belief, which is that we are just adaptable balls of meat and so whatever we think about the universe. Maybe it's helpful in terms of our adaptation, but it's not necessarily true very well, but this was the very thing that bothered Thomas Nagel, the great philosopher of science from, and why you may go get himself into bit of trouble. He wrote a favourable review of in turn, the cell in the Times literary supplement, and then there was a huge blow back, including from a lot of other fellow atheists. Naples. An atheist but naval accepted that the critical arguments in signature in the cell and began to get more critical of Darwinism as well, not just chemical, evolutionary but biological, evolutionary theory and in two thousand and one, we doubled down by publishing its own book with Oxford Press called Minden Cosmos.
How the NEO darwinian materialist view of reality is almost certainly false. The subtitle and his problem was the one that you, too articulated that clearly we live in a universe in which mind is a reality, of NEO Darwinism can't account, for that, then, is missing. Something really big saw. It is it's it's an inadequate explanation for something we observe all the time, which is the activity of minds. I see it in our come rotation. I know I have a mind by my own introspective experience. This is a part of reality too, and if the if evolution can account for that, and if we exclude mind as an explanatory principle, we're gonna have an impact arrest understanding of the world around us, and so I think this is very, very important aspect of the debate as well Recognising that mind is a reality that this actually is is one of the fascinating sort of theories that the darkens put forth is essentially that minors,
spanned role at the mind, is, is just something that we feel like we have, but it actually does not exist in the first place, which does raise the question as to why he does what he does for a living and interfere in the business explanation. Why bother operating along the Spaniards strongly self defeating you're absolutely right. But it is interesting that in that the NEO Darwinism say that design in life is an illusion. We apparent design, but not real. Does I first line from the brought blame? Not watch me on page one biologists to study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been sign for purpose, but in the at the end of the day. Dawkins also has to say that minded self purpose of intelligence is also an illusion. That's an impoverished worldview. We no better than that in does raise questions. I mean far beyond that for civilization as well, since we all have to live together in rat and in reason, together have had this exact arguments, SAM Harris who friends who says he believes in objective truth and real and- and I keep saying to him all were wandering balls of meat with no purpose in the universe spoke
For this reason, you're talking our bunch of firing neurons over which we have no control, but you have to two points on then. I think you have addressed them both. I think you're, addressing with the point you just made in your new book, but our whole legal system is based on a notions of moral responsibility, culpability or the law that presupposes our ability to choose as free agents that we're not completely determined by indirect. It says firing and arson apps was not just nature or nurture, there's there's theirs. Very free will and moral responsibility. Our whole legal system is based on that idea and, secondly, there is there- and we have this epidemic of team suicide in our country and I heard something you did under show a little while ago, and I had a very similar experience of kind of excess sensual anxiety is a young person were full of fear. The middle class upbringing had no great deprivation, but I had this recurring question, which has been a matter in hundred years. What what will any human achievement ever matter and
question of of the purpose of human existence. I think is gnawing at a lot of people in our culture, especially young people, because only agents, only personal agents can confer meaning on something nothing can mean something to Iraq or to an atom and we find meaning in relationship to other persons and if the end of the day? We're just gonna? Have this heat death of the universe, there's no mind behind the universe? No personal agency behind the universe is no possibility of ultimate meaning a lot of people, since that is very deeply troubling and we're really not answering that question for Lahti. Young people, I think, one of the the philosophical implications of intelligent design which doesn't attempt to prove the existence of God, but it does imply that personal agency is fundamental to the cosmos and it opens up the possibility that there there could be a good answer to that question of of meaning and purpose that I think, knowing in a lot of people, say, listen about how intelligent design should be taught and swore says. We ve mentioned a lot of scientists, basically except the generalised critiques of NEO Darwinism that that you expressed in your books is there
reason why we don't you say we don't know In other words, why don't we try and just teach it? This way here is the theory, no Darwinism. Here all the flaws in the theory of NEO Darwinism would be very difficult for folks to try and kicked out of schools and you're, not mentioning gotta. Do not mentioning any intelligent designer at all. Why not teach at that in your firmly within even the sceptics view of what science ought to be. That happens to be our science education policy. If the discoveries, we propose that students are allowed to teach to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different scientific theories, including darwinian evolution by their many of let it not a lot of people, have a stereotyped view of science, which is really inaccurate. It's the you know the men and white coats, and here they they it's just about the facts and there's no role for interpretation or debate or argument. But science advances have wonderful, italian philosopher science. They Marcelo Para says that science advances as scientists argue about how to interpret the evidence and
what we ve done is present stereotyping of science to students, where we just tell him the answer as that, while they are the facts and and and the theory that explains it and it's all a fait accompli, a much better way to learn. Science is to learn about the arguments that are ongoing. Now we have this complication and the United States with our church state jurisprudence, and we discovered think that at this point at least it's sort of is just borrowing trouble to try to buck that, but what we certainly can do without any problem with, though the constitutional, a constitutional president, is to last to learn the the strengths of darwinian theory and also the scientific weaknesses, as we find them increasingly in the peer reviewed literature in biology and evolutionary biology. I testify before the Texas State border education several years ago for in however, of a proposal to do exactly what I'm describing to teach the strengths and weaknesses ice
emitted into evidence about a hundred peer reviewed papers of leading people. In evolutionary biology, pointing out serious weaknesses in the theory, especially around this problem of the lack of creative power of the mutation selection mechanism at that same hearing prior to my opposite number, at the National Centre for science, education and Darwin. Only science, education lobby said to the press the doubts morning news. You can't apply the strengths and weaknesses, standards luminary theory, because the theory of evolution has no weaknesses, what s this actually laughable. When you get into the scientific literature and student, just as a matter of scientific literacy, to know about the problems with the theory that the scientists themselves are talking about, so that's what we ve been. Forget it, and so let us stop for second about the intelligence designer, so uneasy intelligent design. Everybody goes to. Ok, that's got, but your theory and actually suggest that its necessarily guy, just as there has to be some form of mind or intelligence that was responsible for this. How do you connect the intention?
design theory to God or as a connected to got it right? Thanks for asking it's a great question and the The first thing is to understand why, from the biological evidence, we make an inference to a mind of some kind when were reasoning about the history of life, were you seeing this darwinian principle very cause a principle using our knowledge of cause and effect what we know from cause and effect what we know from cause and effect that it takes a mind with self conscious awareness to create regenerate information in a digital form. And so we can infer at less than there was a mind that at least had the kind of capabilities of which we are familiar. Big because our own introspective experience of having minds now one I can but the biological evidence. The dust mining intelligence responsible, might be an imminent intelligence within the cosmos or could be a transcended intelligence that has the attributes the Jews and Christians ascribe to the deity. A both are logical possibilities. So I've always said
when, in my books, on the evidence of design and biology that the fear of intelligent design isn't an argument for the four gods existence, but it may have theistic implications. Its theistic friendly Now I happen to be running another book that is extending the design argument into the realm of cosmology and the foundations of physics where we find that the Foundation of Physical law, these incredibly finely tuned parameters called a anthropic fine tuning and the physicists in the fifties and Sixtys had been discovering dozens of these fine tuning parameters, both in the way the universe was set up in the beginning, in the configuration of mass energy and in the the the relative strengths of the different forces of physics and a number of other. Parameters like expansion rate of the universe and the speed of light in things like this and it turns out we live in what they call a Goldilocks universe, the year that the unit that the forces are not too strong, not too weak expansionary not too fast, not to slow the arrangement of the mass energy just right at the beach,
and we live in a just right universe that has made life possible now that I argue in many physicists have argued- is also evidence of design, but that evidence of design is located at the very beginning of the universe and night the beginning of the universe which we now know of as a result of our big. In theory nor the fine tuning can be accounted for by an agent within the cow. Most clearly, no space, alien or imminent intelligence could be responsible for the laws of physics and the fine tuning of all those laws that make its very life possible. Nor such an agency responsible for the origin of the universe itself. So I think when you, ring that other evidence into the picture that you, I think you can make a very strong theistic design argument, and in my next book, which is called the return of the God hypothesis. I look at how a theism as opposed to other competing metaphysical hypotheses, such as pantheism or materialism. We're DSM best explains that on sample of evidence
biology physics and cause Malagigi? So I do think you can make a theistic argument not approved four guys existence but again and interest to the best explanation of this on somber with evidence we have about violence. Cosmo logical origins now. Is there an easy way out for folks when it comes to the fine tuning argument or to the information argument by simply saying that there is no such actual distinction between mean full information and information. There is no such distinction between fine tuning non fine tuning, except that we're here to see it. In other words, if the only thing that distinguishes information, rich segment of tax, from not information, rich segment of text, is the fact that we speak English, So, if there's a bunch of letters and we can read them than we think that their meaningful, if there's a bunch of letters. We can't read them. We think that they're not meaningful. So, in other words, are we reverse projecting mind on
the universe simply because we're here it's well know that, because we do objective, we recognise meaning and function. There is a possibility of false, false, negative, false negative judgments. We might see a string of characters and not know the symbol convention and therefore conclude that a string is just random or complex, but without being specified, but when we make a qualitative judgment of specificity of arrangement, when we see that the arrangement of characters is necessary to perform an independently observable function, that's a kind of information that is real and is something that we know is only associated with a cause activity of intelligent agents so noble by. I just really when you get down to it, wants to say well the sequence of of characters, the dna of aid, these energies and then in the dna molecules. The arrangement doesn't matter for building protest, because all we have to do is change the arrangement and say that the protein Falls and doesn't and doesn't catalyze a reaction, there's a real objective way of of recognising function in biology, just as there is in in
in human language. So I think that this qualitative in formation: the information Sciences there's a distinction between specified or functional information on the one hand and mere complexity, or numerous or Shannon information on the other and that's a real distinction and it underwrites the whole case for intelligent design right. So so the the countervailing case for a lot of stuff is the theory of multiple universe, I was hoping you ask about. I hear people essentially saying that did that we are a bubble universe, the design, a bunch of other bubbles up there. For a number of universes. So all the probabilistic, elements that you make in favour of the chain of life in the crowd like none of these matters in the end, because there the Julian Universal Right and we haven't one if we just happen to be the only ones exactly and the call of the observers selection effect. We think we're special, because all conditions that are necessary for our existence are so incredibly improbable. But in fact,
some universe somewhere, had to arise that produced organism such as ourselves, conscious aware a conscious and intelligent agents? Indeed, but there's a problem with this whole. This whole approach, Many problems, in fact- and you might imagine in this new- but I'm doing I'm- writing quite a lot about the multiverse critique of it. But let me give the most important problem that is the multi. Verse itself requires a prior fine tuning. The multi verse hypothesis presupposes prior fine tuning here's the problem, if you have all these different universes out there, a billion of them. If the universe is, aren't you some way connected, then what happens in one universe has no. Material effect on events in another universe, so that the fact There may be a billion other universes out there if their disconnected doesn't, change anything in our universe, including the probabilities of our being here so to solve that problem
in recognition of that problem, proponents of the multiverse have proposed a common cause for all the universe is so that it can do so can portray the multiverse all these different universes as the result of something like a big cosmic lottery where there's some mechanism, this. Turning our universe is eventually one of them would have have the right combination of factors to make life possible. Now. The problem, though, is that in all the EU verse generating mechanisms that have been proposed, there is prior fine tuning there's something called in commissioner cosmology and another and there's something called the string, theoretic landscapes and there's a string theory version of the multi verse and there's an inflationary, cosmology version and in both cases there has to be exquisite, fine tuning for the universe, generating mechanism to actually produce multiple universes, so the universe, The problem of the origin of the fine tuning has just been pushed back.
One generation, one of my flask physics, colleagues, Robin Collins, uses illustration. I diseases. So imagine that you have some chef presents a beautiful loaf of bread to, and you say of chef I'd like to compliment your skills, a chef, but I know you didn't actually designed the recipe it was bred making machine. There was no design, and this was just a bread making machine that produced the bread, but even if that were the case, the bread making machine required prior design, as did the recipe for the dough that was put in so this is kind of analogous to us going over the multiverse it only. It doesn't eliminate the problem of fine tuning. It just push pushes it back when generation had the problem with regard to the big bang, so lotta folks have suggested that the big is not actually the beginning, so there is no. In the beginning. There is prior universe that that sucked in on itself in and then blew out again sickly time is eternal and there was no beginning to time necessarily what they're really aren't good no models that eliminate was called the singularity, beginning temperately the the
standard, big bang or the inflationary cosmology model both terminate in a definite beginning. But a number of developments in theoretical physics that have reinforced that the singularity theorem of hawking, Penrose, Ellison nineteen sixty eight and also the theorem, independently in physics, the board, with the Lincoln theorem that established to beginning. But what people have tried to do. This theoretical physicists have tried to do to get around the theistic implications of there being a beginning is formed. Lighting, a very abstract model, physics call Quantum cosmology, that's that's where the action is. If you want to get around the theistic argument for the existence of based on the beginning of the universe, and I'm right About this, too, is really heavy stuff and is based on an analogy to quantum physics and some of your. You know here here. Listers and viewers are very. Martha you, they might know about the other the weirdness of quantum physics, where particles waves and waves act like particles, so there's is
there's this think. Although you away function that describes all the different places that a particle might be and then how it might collapse and manifest one particular set of attributes upon it, starvation, and by analogy some of the physicists have said. Well, maybe the universe came out of a bigger one function, whether call Universe away function where there was They were all these different possible universes that we're existing in what planet physicists calls superposition sort of existing simultaneously in an abstract mathematical space of possibilities, not in this physical reality and then somehow, some way, all those Different possibilities collapsed, and we got a universe like ours. Ok now this, is a very bizarre thing for a number of reasons. One they ve gotta, mathematical equation, generating a material universe which a very, not materialistic, explanation of thinks. It's almost as one of the people What is this Alexander villain can noted. He said my
It is an idea that exist in mind so when we say that the universe came out of a of of a big universal wave function, equation are we really saying that that the universe came out a pre existing mind? He raises that is a rhetorical quest. Since the end of one of his books and then simply changes the subjective interest above the other crazy thing is that to get that mathematical equation. That might explain our universe. You have to solve a prior mathematical equation and you can't do that without an input of information which comes from the radical physicists so like in those origin of life experiments there actually modeling the need for a mind to generate information, and you get this weird conclude in the beginning. Was the word sit up. It's it's very strange that the attempt to get around the theistic implications of the Big Bang have just have generated other models, which themselves have implications that are very theistic. Ok, so in just one sex,
the wire subscribers subscribe go over daily where'd outcome, click subscribing to hear the end of our conversation. Their little book is Darwins. Doubt the author Stephen, my esteem thanks. So much for some we're a daily where dot click subscribing to hear the end of our conversation, their little book is done when's doubt the author, Stephen Myerst, didn't think so much for sap about real operation recovered lot. Thank you, then. Shapiro show Sunday Special is produced by Jonathan Hate, executive producer, Jeremy, boring associate producer. Mathis Glover, edited by Jonathan Fowler. Audio is mixed by Dylan, takes care and make up is by just one old era: title ethics by Cynthia Angulo, the bench The bureau shows Sunday Special is a daily wire production, copyright daily wider twenty ninety nineteen
Transcript generated on 2020-03-26.