19:48:50

Director's Introduction

The Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design, Dr Alastair Noble, introduces the Intelligent Design debate in this 4 minute video clip.

Dr Alastair Noble's introduction to ID

© Centre for Intelligent Design

How the Scientific Consensus can hinder Science

How the Scientific Consensus can hinder Science

This article seeks to discuss "Scientific consensus" as it is understood today and how, in the past, scientific consensus has had to undergo seismic shifts. Read more

Intelligent Design is definitely NOT Creationism

Intelligent Design is definitely NOT Creationism

Dismissing Intelligent Design as 'Creationism' is the easy way of avoiding having to deal with the empirical evidence for design. Read more

Was there a cause of the universe?

Was there a cause of the universe?

Cosmologists tell us that we now know a fair amount of detail about the conditions of the universe from the first split second, 13.7 billion years ago. Read more

The Fine Tuned Universe

The Fine Tuned Universe

The words ‘fine tuning of the universe’ have been around for quite a while and are greeted with bafflement, scepticism and wonder; in about equal proportions. What on earth (or in the universe) does it mean? Theoretical physicist Paul Davies calls it the ‘Goldilocks Enigma’.1 Is it real... Read more

University finds brain's complexity beyond belief

University finds brain's complexity beyond belief

RESEARCHERS  have found that a single human brain has more molecular-scale switches than all the computers, routers and Internet connections on the entire planet! Read more

Conference tickets now on sale

A day conference in Cambridge with world class speakers has been arranged for Saturday November 12th 2016. 

Tickets are now on sale.  Book now to avoid disappointment!

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Doubly designed?

Metamorphosis: the beauty and design of butterflies

Watch this 4' 22" video clip to explore the world of butterflies which, in the words of the commentary, are shown to be doubly designed!

Metamorphosis: The Beauty & Design of Butterflies

Academic Freedom

See the menu item ACADEMIC FREEDOM. To quote from the lead in to the page: ".... However, there is another key issue raised by ID.  It is the freedom of academics and science educators to explore and discuss the issues associated with ID.  The exploration of ID within science should not be dismissed as something it is not – a disguised religious position."

Press Release

The Centre for Intelligent Design on September 27th 2011 issued a press release and additional material relating to the call by Prof Richard Dawkins, Sir David Attenborough and others for a legal  ban on Creationism and Intelligent Design in Britain's schools. Click here for the Press Release page.

Meyer vs Fox on Premier Radio:

Is Intelligence allowed in Biological Science?

Don’t miss a most revealing debate on Premier Radio between Stephen Meyer, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design who directs the Centre for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, and Keith Fox, Professor of Biochemistry at Southampton University, who also chairs the UK Christians in Science network.

This programme was broadcast when Dr Meyer was in London recently for the Inaugural Lecture of the Centre for Intelligent Design, UK. That event focused on Dr Meyer’s recent book ‘Signature in the Cell’ – a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year - which claims to show that the DNA code is the product of intelligent mind, not naturalistic processes. Prof Fox disagrees strongly with ID, arguing instead that, given time, scientists should be able to work out a naturalistic explanation. The core of this debate is not just how life could have originated, but whether intelligent mind as a cause is allowed as an explanation in science. Click here to find the broadcast.

London Spectator hails Denton's Evolution:Still a Theory in Crisis as a "Best Book" of 2016

"A truly great book.....Fascinatingly clear.....Destroys the Darwinian position," according to distinguished literary critic A. N. Wilson.








Wonders of Life
BBC 2013 Produced and directed by Stephen Cooter

A review of Episode 1 – aired BBC One January 27th 2013.

The BBC have done it again. In the wake of numerous acclaimed natural history and science programmes, the most recent addition to the collection was screened on January 27th. The Wonders of Life presented by Brian Cox follows in the style of two previous highly successful series namely The Wonders of the Solar System and The Wonders of the Universe. Brian Cox is a gifted presenter and combines his academic life in physics as a professor at the University of Manchester with an increasing profile in broadcasting as a populariser of science. The first programme brought Cox the physicist to an interface with biology and provided an engaging and unusual take on the origin of life and in particular on how energy is harnessed and used in living systems. The programme headline makes the ambitious claim that “Prof Brian Cox journeys to South East Asia to understand how life first began.”

There was some fantastic material here – even the opening sequences showing parts of the life cycle of the dragonfly. It was hailed as being "Fine tuned by natural selection to catch their prey on the wing" although the editors could possibly be forgiven for conveniently sidestepping any attempt to indicate how evolutionary mechanisms or natural selection might relate to the process of metamorphosis which was also so elegantly shown. “Beautiful pieces of engineering. Intricate complex machines.” Indeed!

The main thrust of this episode however seemed to address the question; “What is it what makes something alive and how did life begin in the first place?”

The programme visited the hanging coffins in Sagada in the Philippines and using the November Day of the Dead events conceded that many understand that it is some kind of soul or spirit or animating force that gives us life and somehow survives death. Cox offered that while that "feels right" he set out to demonstrate that the real story was somewhat different.

Referring to the written output of a series of public lectures delivered by Erwin Schrodinger in February 1943 at Trinity College Dublin, Cox affirmed that life isn't something mystical. It is matter and energy described by the laws of physics and chemistry. How did life come about on a planet which itself formed from a collapsing cloud of gas and dust? Answer - energy!

A brief and engaging tutorial followed on the nature of energy, it’s conservation and the profound implications of the first law of thermodynamics. Theoretically traceable back to the potential energy in the early universe which was changed into kinetic energy as stars and planets were formed; various fusion reactions took place, hydrogen formed helium and at some point about 4 billion years ago that transfer of energy led to the origin of life on earth.  Cox certainly can make things sound reliable and persuasive but a moment’s thought reveals that this is a highly selective and inadequate attempt to answer the question of the origin of life.

Sure, there is immense power locked within the earth as evidenced by volcanic activity. The programme gave a wonderful illustration using the Taal volcano lake in the Philippines. Energy from the core bubbles up through the waters of the lake “producing conditions similar to those in the early earth which may have produced the very spark of life.” There was an excellent description of how natural energy transfer can occur using the conditions which apply when proton gradients – essentially natural fuel cells – could possibly be the source of natural energy to be exploited in the first life.

So we have an energy source – so how does life arise. Well next we are taken to the floor of the mid Atlantic ocean. To a hydrothermal vent system. Life, we are told, may have begun in such structures. These apparently were alkaline vents. In the early earth the sea water was thought to have been mildly acidic. Hence the conditions were right to provide both chemical energy and the raw materials life needs; hydrogen, various minerals and carbon dioxide. Cox then made the case that where certain chambers exist within the rock in these vents the conditions exist to allow the concentration of organic molecules. “This could be where your distant ancestors come from - where life on earth began.”

Quote “The initial living things might have started out as part of the rock that created them.”

And then, as if there has not been enough speculation and assertion to seal the deal, we learn that living things still get their energy from proton gradients today. So they do! Mitochondria are responsible for fuelling cells and use chemical methods of releasing energy which may be somewhat analogous to those described in the hydrothermal vents but to be quite honest there may be a faint analogy but that is about as far as one could push the similarity!

Then – hold on to your seats “virtually every living thing produces proton gradients -why? Because everything shares a common ancestor.” This is the universal spark of life - proton gradients!

OK – so far so good. We are however not quite done with the energy story. The programme now takes us to a curious lake (Jellyfish Lake, Eil Malk island in Palau, Micronesia) and we meet the myriads of golden jellyfish and their onboard photosynthetic algae which harvest energy from sunlight. This provides a nice example of the beautiful intimate and complex relationship these creatures have with the sun in that their situation allows them to use solar energy to produce glucose to fuel their metabolic needs.

We learn about energy becoming progressively disordered in the universe as it changes from one from to another – although it is apparent that living things actually buck this trend, at least temporarily by converting one form of high quality (solar) energy to another (chemical energy). So we are introduced to the implications of the second law of thermodynamics and discover that one of life’s unique properties is that living organisms can build increasingly complex and ordered structures and mechanisms even although the universal trend is one of gradual and progressive energy decay.

“By being alive we are part of the energy transfer process which drives the evolution of the universe. Living things are described by the same laws that describe the falling of the rain and the shining of the stars.”

Great stuff! Convinced yet? According to Cox we now “have a detailed understanding” of how all this works. No magical flame. No mysticism; just physics.

Actually the entire energy story was very well presented and extremely interesting. There were a few assertions highlighted above in italics which seemed to go beyond the reach of the argument although to be completely fair, Brian Cox did use words (“may have” “could be”) which introduced the notion of uncertainty.

So what about some of the major issues in abiogenesis – the actual formation of life from non living matter. The reality is that despite years of effort there is still no convincing and viable explanation of the origin of life. Even taking the story presented so far – where do the biopolymers come from? What about the production of the intricate and organised pathways of intermediary metabolism? How about the formation of the molecular machinery represented by the enzymes responsible for virtually all of the transportation and chemical reactions which proceed in every living cell? Oh and while we are asking such questions – what about the production of a viable, living, respiring cell in the first place? One in which all its nutrients and organic substrates are at just the right concentration and in just the right format to get the activity of life kicked off? It is not simply the business of self generation but regeneration that needs addressed. When we add questions about the origin of the sexual components of cellular reproduction it is tempting to think that we have not really started down the track of explaining the spark of the first life. Maybe Brian’s suggested claims are just a tad over ambitious!

Anyhow – back to the programme. I did entertain the idea that the issue of the origin of information might get some air time because Cox very nicely explained the importance and relevance of DNA. Gene control, transcription and translation, copying fidelity and DNA stability was all covered. Plenty of code – specific and detailed, indeed all the adaptation which has brought the orang utan as found in the jungles of Sabah (its genome was published in 2011) is contained and controlled within its DNA. No argument there. But was there even a question as to how the information, all 3 billion or so letters of it, came to be? Not a whisper! The question – probably the biggest question for origin of life research was not even mentioned! It is true that the features common to primates like the orang utan, or the chimpanzee were mapped back to the genome and the unqualified and highly misleading claim that these species share 99% of their DNA with the human genome was used to support the common ancestry assertion. That degree of similarity is now clearly recognised to refer to certain segments of protein coding DNA only. The non-coding portions of the genome provide so little similarity between species as not to be so conducive to the making of an evolutionary case! The actual similarity may still be striking but to make an evolutionary argument from it is guilty of the logical fallacy of begging the question.

In essence we go from the laws of thermodynamics, via proton gradients and hydrothermal vents to the mysterious origin of the first life and we can see the entire evolutionary history written in the DNA of every cell of every living organism.

The speculation hardly begins to bear the weight of the case that Cox and the BBC would like it to carry. Fantastic photography, great natural history television; evocative and cleverly crafted but highly selective in terms of data handling and in terms of getting close to some convincing answers, one is left wondering why the significant questions about the origin of biological information and cellular life were simply sidestepped as if they were of no consequence. We are left with another “just so” story rooted in ontological naturalism and no recognition given to the glaringly obvious argument from design.

 

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Prof Mike Behe UK Tour

Prof Mike Behe, Professor of Chemistry at Lehigh University, USA, toured the UK in November 2010.  He is author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. For one week he gave lectures and was a speaker at a day conference in Oxford. Click here for a report on the tour.

Full details of the tour and the day conference can be found at the associated website www.darwinordesign.org.uk.

Premier Radio interview

Mike Behe is adamant that the latest science proves Intelligent Design to be true. He recently spoke to Premier Radio presenter Justin Brierley, who will be hosting the London leg of the Darwin or Design tour on Monday November 22nd. Justin began by asking Behe how it feels to be labelled a "maverick" by the majority of the scientific community.

Hear Prof Mike Behe

Press comment

GUARDIAN - UK Centre for Intelligent Design claims it will focus on science, not religion



NATURE - Blogs - New intelligent design centre launches in Britain - September 24, 2010

Dr Noble says. "I would stress that we’re not targeting schools."