Ronny Nalin - Is the Earth Special?
The search for extraterrestrial life is a fascinating enterprise that has spurred the birth of a dedicated line of scientific inquiry, known as astrobiology. Yet, at present, the earth remains the only place in the universe where humans have been able to empirically detect life and its signatures. Why is it so? Is the earth special? Answering this question requires a basic understanding of some of the parameters that make our planet habitable. This presentation aims at offering a synthetic review of several of these parameters, also incorporating some information gained from the study of exoplanets. Following this review, the presentation tries to relate the current scientific findings on planetary habitability with the Genesis account of creation, highlighting both areas of convergence and tension, and introducing a theological reflection on the original question about the earth being special or not.
Complexity and Interdependency
We begin the Biology section by describing the characteristics and composition of living things. We then review the concept of Abiogenesis (the appearance of the first living being from non-living matter) and the serious difficulties faced by this theory, which is necessary for the naturalistic perspective of the origin of life. Finally, by means of examples relating to the different levels of study of biology (cells, organs, organisms and ecosystems), we show how the high complexity and interdependence found in all of them point to a superintelligent Creator who designed complete and functional systems from the beginning.
Natural Selection and Altruism
Altruistic behaviors are a challenge to the theory of evolution because those organisms that put the benefit of others ahead of their own should be eliminated by natural selection. However, altruistic behaviors are relatively common in nature. In this session we explore some examples of collaboration, empathy, and altruism in plants and animals. We also discuss how these behaviors are explained depending on the worldview of the researchers.
Design at the Molecular Level
Scientists are just beginning to understand the structure and function of minute machines that are essential for life. Inside cells, these submicroscopic motors, generators and other machines operate by the same principles as the machines we are familiar with, only at much higher efficiency and within incredibly tight tolerances. What best accounts for these engineering marvels? Shelley Quinn and Tim Standish, PhD
Design In Fossil Organisms
Have you ever had the opportunity to examine a real fossil? Maybe you have seen dinosaur bones or shells encased in rock. Do these remains of once living organisms look less designed than the creatures we find living around us? How might the same engineering challenges faced by living creatures have been solved by these ancient creatures? What do the conclusions we draw tell us about the Creator of these ancient yet elegant organisms? Shelley Quinn and Tim Standish, PhD
Design in Other Animals
Are other creatures fundamentally different from humans? The surprising answer is both “Yes” and “No”. Why does the biblical account of creation lead us to believe that there should be profound similarities between humans and other living things? What makes us different? How does the Bible define the relationship between humans and other creatures? Shelley Quinn and Tim Standish, PhD
Design in Humans
Incredible as it may seem, Charles Darwin and his modern followers believe the human body contains examples of poor design. Is this pessimistic view of ourselves supported by the evidence? We will look at some of the abundant evidence that humans are engineering successes using one of the very masterpieces that Darwinists commonly present as an example of bad design. Shelley Quinn and Tim Standish, PhD
Design in Ecology
In the Darwinian view, life is locked into a struggle for survival in which every organism is in a competition to the death and only the most fit survive. Is struggle and competition really what we observe in the relationships between organisms? Or is there a far more beautiful principle to be discovered if we take the time to actually look at how life works?
DNA and Design
DNA is amazing, but what exactly is it? What does it do in every living thing? Why is DNA just the right material for the function it performs? Why does just about everyone who studies it acknowledge that DNA at least looks designed? Are there good reasons for Darwinists to deny that DNA is evidence of design? What does DNA tell us about the Creator who wrote out the instructions for life in this remarkable molecule?
What is Intelligent Design? How is it different from Creationism? Is it a scientific or a religious approach? Who are its main proponents? What are its main arguments? What can we learn from Intelligent Design? These are some of the questions we answer in our seventh session of Faith and Science Fundamentals.