Sunday, July 20, 2014

Video: Doug Ell Discusses the Evidence for Intelligent Design

Here is an excellent video of Doug Ell giving a talk at MIT about his book Counting To God. The book is about the scientific evidence for intelligent design.

As I watched this video, I realized that mainstream science (astronomy, biology, and physics) has provided much of the evidence for intelligent design, but most scientists don't interpret it as such because of their materialist bias. It says something important about science that even though many of the scientists carrying it out are confused and in denial about the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the evolution of species, science still produces the truth.

Before the scientific revolution, many people thought, correctly, that it was self-evident that the universe and all life was created, and therefore there must be a creator. The first scientists all believed that by studying science they would learn about God - about how God designed the world. They didn't see any conflict between science and belief in God.

Later, atheist scientists, claiming they were devoted to truth and as scientists uniquely qualified to find it, came along and confused so many people about what had once been self-evident. As John Lennox points out, modern atheists have created a false dichotomy between science and God by claiming God is a god of the gaps who's role is limited to what science can't explain and diminished by every new scientific discovery. But this is a deception. Theists believe that God created the universe including all the natural laws that scientists are so pleased to have discovered. Now after many years of collecting scientific data, that data interpreted by scientists studying intelligent design is demonstrating those pre-scientific people and the early scientists were right all along and the atheist scientists were wrong. It would be comical if it wasn't such a tragedy.

Scientists believe they are seeking the truth, and it would seem that the scientific truth leads to God. As Lennox points out, in John 14:6 it is written, "I am the truth..." There are some modern scientists who understood this. Werner Heisenberg winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics is one of them. He said:

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.

At the beginning of the talk, Ell says that the reason he is able to write on this subject is because he is not at a university... so, when one tries to understand the problems of science, one has to consider the university system as part of the problem.

The talk is only 40 minutes and it covers a lot of ground. If you are interested in more information a good place to start is the Intelligent Design section on the Articles Arranged by Subject page.

A series of video interviews of Stephen Meyer (and transcripts) on this subject, which covers some of the same evidence, can be found at The Cosmological Argument for a Transcendent Designer of the Universe.

Doug Ell's talk is an excellent overview of the wide variety of empirical evidence that supports intelligent design. Below is a list of links to articles on subjects related to the video organized in order the subjects were discussed in the talk:

  • Physics
  • Biology
    Origin and Technology of Life

    Human Origins
  • More Physics

    The Universe is nonmaterial (quantum physics)
    Intellectual Freedom

    Below I have included, with the author's permission, the text of the slides shown during the talk by Doug Ell (typographical errors are most likely my own):


    • Observation, experimental verification, and explanation of natural phenomenon
    • Figuring it out
    • Follow the evidence wherever it leads
    • "If it disagrees with experiment, it's wrong" - Richard Feynman
    • Abrahamic faith
      • Accident or design?

    Seven Wonders of Modern Science
    • Physics
      1. Created Universe

      2. Fine-Tuned Universe
    • Biology
      3. Origin of Life

      4. Technology of Life

      5. Puzzles of Macroevolution
    • More Physics
      6. Special Earth

      7. Universe is nonmaterial (quantum physics)

    Counting To God
    1. Creation

  • Why does anything exist?
  • Throughout history, two basic answers
    • It just does, and always has
    • God
  • Believers in eternal and infinite universe
    • Aristotle
    • Newton
    • Einstein (originally)

    1. Creation (cont'd)

    • Dark night sky - Olber's "paradox"
    • 1914: Vesto Silpher
      • fuzzy spots in the sky have "redshift"
    • 1920s: Edwin Hubble
      • galaxies
      • speed proportional to distance (Hubble's law)
      Einstein - "I see the need for a beginning"

    1. Creation (cont'd)

    • Then two theories compete
      • "Big Bang" theory
        • All time/space and matter/energy created in a single instant from absolute nothingness
      • "Steady State" theory
        • matter created in voids keeps universe constant
    • 1965: Penzias and Wilson at Bell Labs discover "cosmic microwave background radiation" by accident:
      • "relic"' photons rom the Big Bang (380K years after)

    Counting To God
    2. Fine-Tuning

    • How can it all be so perfect?

    • In physics, there are
      • 3 dimensions of space
      • 1 dimension of time
      • 4 fundamental forces
      • Many constants

    • Accepted scientific fact:
      "the values of the numbers seem to have been very finely tuned to make possible the development of life"
      - Stephen Hawking

    While explaining the above slide, Doug Ell said, "if we didn't have three dimensions of space, gravity wouldn't obey the inverse square law and planets wouldn't have stable orbits."
    2. Fine-tuning (cont'd)
    • Examples
      • Critical density of the universe/gravitational constant (less than one part in 1060)
      • Nuclear resonance levels
        • Produce carbon and oxygen inside stars
        • "A superintellect has monkeyed with physics" - Fred Hoyle
      • Water
    • Is there information in the structure of the universe?

    2.Fine-tuning (cont'd)
    • Atheist counter - "Multiverse"
    • Multiverse concept based on 3 key beliefs
      • Our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes
      • Somehow, these universes have the ability to create other universes with different dimensions, laws, constants, and other features of physics
      • Somehow, for no special reason, all of this just exists
    • But:
      • No scientific evidence of other universes
      • No idea how laws of physics can change
      • Infinity is an alien concept
      • Turtles all the way down?

    Counting To God
    3. Origin of Life
    • How did life begin?
    • Ground rules:
      • Laws of physics and chemistry have not changed
      • No "natural selection"

    3. Origin of Life (cont'd)
    • Miller-Urey Experiment (1953)
      • Amino acids can be created by electrical charges
      • Later disavowed by both Miller and Urey as an explanation of the origin of life
      • Experiment now discredited - wrong atmosphere, no "primordial" soup, no way to link amino acids, can't set large amounts of information by accident
      • But, still in most high school textbooks

    3. Origin of Life (cont'd)
    • "Chicken and egg" problem
      • Need DNA to build proteins
      • Need proteins to read DNA
      • Which came first?
    • Yale physicist Harold Morowitz calculated odds of life arising by chance as 1 in 10100,000,000,000
    • Harvard's failed Origin of Life Initiative
    • where did the information come from to create life?
    • "No one knows how it got started" - Richard Dawkins

    Counting To God
    4. Technology of Life
    • How does life work?
    • 150 years ago, cells were "homogeneous globules of protoplasm"
    • Now know all life has same advanced digital operating system ("Central Dogma"):
      • Stores code in "letters" of DNA
      • Machines make copies of parts of code (messenger RNA)
      • Send copies to factories (ribosomes)
      • Factories (ribosomes) read code three "letters" at a time, to build proteins

    4. Technology of Life (cont'd)
    • By chance?
      • Genetic code (algorithm that "maps" 3 DNA "letters" to amino acids) is "highly optimal - significantly out performed 1 million randomly chosen alternate codes
      • No evidence of a different operating system
      • No known way operating system can evolve
    • Futuristic information technology: "DNA is biological computer code, only far, far more advanced than anything we have ever built" - Bill Gates

    4. Technology of Life (cont'd)
    • Other amazing technology
      • DNA storage technology (histones)
      • Information retrieval technology
      • Splicing technology
      • Replication technology
        • 1,000 "letters" per second
        • Proofreading machines
        • Accurate to 1 letter in 1 billion
      • Repair technology
    • Consider protein Histone H4: 102 amino acids, "highly conserved," 100 of these are the same in a pea and a cow (chance odds around 1 in 20100?)

    4. Technology of Life (cont'd)
    • Where does information come from?
      • Imagine blind monkeys typing
      • If every particle in the universe (proton, neutron, and electron) was a monkey
      • Typing a letter every 1043 seconds (typing ten million trillion trillion trillion letters a second, which if printed into books would fill a sphere 100 million miles in diameter every second)
      • For 14 billion years
    • Highly unlikely that there will ever appear more than about 100 letters of specified information!

    Counting To God
    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution
    • "Evolution" commonly defined as "any process of formation or change"
    • Charles Darwin in 1859: all species arose solely because of accidental mutations and natural selection
    • Can natural selection create new information?
      • Problem is not the survival of the fittest, but the arrival of the fittest
      • Today more than 10 million species

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Your choice:
      • Accident (Darwin)?
      • Design (God)?
    • Let's look at the facts

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Fact 1: Fossil Record
      • "Cambrian explosion": 70% of all "body plans" of all animals came into existence in a relatively short period
      • Biology's "big bang" - "Darwin's Doubt"
      • "Top-down" fossil record contradicts Darwin
      • Very few transitional organisms
        • "no one has ever found any in-between creatures" - Niles Eldredge
        • "Absence of fossil evidence for intermediate stages...has been a nagging and persistent problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution" - Stephen Jay Gould

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Fact 2: Little or no "Junk" DNA
      • Once thought only 1.5% of human DNA is useful
      • ENCODE (450 scientists) Sept. 2012
        • 80% of human genome has function
        • "It's likely 80% will go to 100%"
      • ENCODE Dec.2012
        • DNA contains a second code, multiple layers of information
      • ENCODE Jan. 2014
          At least 75% has function, may be underestimate

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Fact 3: Extreme Rarity of Functional Proteins
      • 1990 estimate by two MIT biologists: odds of getting a sequence of 92 amino acids to perform a specified function are 1 in 1063
      • 2004 estimate: For 150 amino acids, odds of getting a specified function are 1 in 1077; odds of getting any function are 1 in 1074
      • But, in history of life, maybe 1040 organisms, almost all one-celled
    • Darwinian response: "cumulative selection"
      • Hang on to only "good" mistakes?
      • Gradual improvement of an engine while it is still running?

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Fact 4: Orphan Genes
      • All species sequenced to date have "orphan" genes ("designer" genes?) with no known relatives in other species
      • Help to make that species distinct - toxins in jellyfish, prevent freezing in polar cod
      • Leaf-cutter ant has 9,361 unique proteins, most of its genome
      • Darwinian theory has no mathematical clothes

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Fact 5: Many biological systems defy Darwinian logic
      • Loggerhead turtles navigate by Earth's magnetic field (also some fish and birds)
      • Caribbean reef squids communicate by the colors, patterns, and textures on their skin
      • Appendix "evolved" separately at least 32 times
      • Common Design, not common descent

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • Human beings
      • 30 trillion cells - 30,000,000,000,000 cells
      • Almost all have 3.2 billion "letters" of DNA
      • Codes for perhaps 100,000 proteins (mean length perhaps 430 amino acids)

    5. Puzzles of Macroevolution (cont'd)
    • To walk upright
      • 16 coordinated anatomical changes (spine, pelvis, knees, feet, toes, skull, etc.)
      • But time for specific mutation requiring two new DNA binding sites to happen and then becomes fixed estimated at 216 million years - Cornell scientists 2008
    • The human brain
      • 54 human orphan genes that code for brain proteins
      • How can reason and creativity arise from a Darwinian process?
      • What is consciousness?

    Counting To God
    6. Special Earth

    Earth is special in its ability to sustain life over billions of years

    • Right galaxy
      • Maybe 98% have less metal
    • Right distance from the galactic center
      • Only 10% of stars are in GHZ
    • Safe path through the galaxy
      • Nearly circular, inner edge of the Orion arm

    6. Special Earth (cont'd)
    • Right sun
      • Big (greater than 95%) but not too big
      • Stable life in 10 billion years
      • Solitary star, not in globular cluster
      • Stable energy output (one part in 1,000 over 11 year cycle)
    • Right Solar System
      • Planets have circular orbits, spaced apart, same direction
      • Jupiter (vacuum cleaner of the solar system)
    • Right place in the Solar System
      • CHZ permits liquid water

    6. Special Earth (cont'd)
    • Right Moon
      • No good theory on how mood was formed
      • Creates tides
      • Eclipse coincidence?
    • Right ingredients
      • Water
      • Carbon
      • Molten iron core
      • Plate tectonics
    • Odds of finding another equally suitable planet in our galaxy may be less than one in 100

    Counting To God
    7. Universe is Nonmaterial
    • Mathematics describes everything in physics
      • Mathematics is ideas
      • Whose ideas?
    • Quantum physics defies materialistic concepts of reality
      • One-slit/two-slit experiment
      • Quantum entanglement
      • Quantum Zeno effect
    • "In the beginning was the word"
      • Greek word "logos" - divine thought
    • Could the foundation of the universe be mathematical concepts? - string theory

    The Logic of Belief
    • Only intelligence can create meaningful information
    • There is tremendous information in the structure of the universe, the origin of life, and every species

    Final Score:
    God 7, Atheism 0
    • Stand up for the wonder
      • Awe, astonishment, surprise, and admiration
    • Stand up for the truth
    • Stand up for tolerance

    Copyright © 2014 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.