Category Archives: Podcasts

Does the origin of the first living organism require an intelligent designer?

I found a good debate on this question here on the Unbelievable radio show, which is broadcast in the UK. The argument is specifically about the first replicating organism.

The first replicating organism would have to have had a number of characteristics of living things, such as the ability to store its own genetic information and replicate that information. The first living organism cannot be built up by mutation and selection, because mutation and selection require that replication already be in place. So, where did the information in the first replicator come from?

If you imagine that the simplest organism is a functional computer program, you have to ask yourself – how much code is needed to provide that minimal functionality for a living system? Whatever that amount of code is, it would have to come together all at once, because having only a part of the program in place means that the program doesn’t compile and it doesn’t run!

Here is the link to the debate audio. The debate starts at 15 and half minutes into the show, and is 1 hour long. And here is the blurb introducing the topic and speakers:

Unbelievable? – 21 February 2009
Could the DNA that makes up the building blocks of life of every living thing on the earth be the clue to a cosmic designer?

That’s the view of Christian guest Perry Marshall. An electrical engineer by background, he is now a leading authority on information systems and the internet. He says that anybody who comes at the topic of how life originated from an engineering background will see that DNA is a code that needs a designer to create the information it transmits.

Peter Hearty is an atheist biologist. He says that science does not work when you dispense with the search for a naturalistic explanation for the origin of DNA. [Note from Wintery Knight: Peter Hearty has a Ph.D in computer science!]

This is a fun and easy-to-understand debate, especially for those of us coming from a computer science or engineering background. I think it’s fun to argue with my friends about what kind of professional God would be if he had to get a job. Naturally, I always argue that God is a computer scientist, because he designed the genetic code of the first replicator. If you have a different answer, leave a comment!

For more on science and faith, see my (snarky, mean, satirical) articles on the origin of the universe and the fine-tuning of the physical constants of the universe in order to permit the minimal requirements for complex living systems of any kind.

John Lott debates gun control on Canadian radio show

John Lott is probably the best known academic researcher on gun laws and the effects of gun ownership on crime rates. He discussed the topic on a Canadian radio station CKNW, and did a great job of covering many of the important points in the debate. The commercial-free show is available here. If you are a Canadian, or if you have never heard the other side of the gun control debate, then you need to spend 18 minutes listening to the case against gun control. The case against gun control is something you may never hear about in the mainstream media.

Here is a summary of some of the points he touches on during the dialog.

  • Lott begins by noting that guns can be used in tragic ways, but that they can also be used to prevent crimes. The only way to decide whether gun ownership should be allowed is to compare the ratio between the tragic incidents against defensive gun usage incidents.
  • Lott also briefly discusses the media bias in reporting on firearms. The media selects stories that result in actual violence, so that the vast number of defensive gun uses go unreported. These defensive gun uses seldom involve injuries, or even firing a shot. Instead, a crime is prevented by merely displaying or brandishing the weapon, which scares off the assailant.
  • Lott notes that gun control laws are only obeyed by law abiding citizens, never by criminals. Thus, the only purpose gun control serves is to increase crime rates by disarming the potential victims of criminal activity. He also argues that gun bans actually increase violent crime and murder rates in countries where bans have been implemented.
  • Lott compares crime rates in the USA and Canada using official United Nations surveys. Lott notes that most of the crime in the USA is due to gang violence, and as such is isolated to small areas within a few counties.
  • Lott addresses Canada’s gun registries and gun laws specifically. He explains why gun registries are virtually useless for lowering crime rates. Lott also discusses concealed carry laws in the USA, and their effect on crime rates.
  • Lott also notes that concealed-carry permit holders commit fewer crimes than off-duty police officers. In other words, private gun ownership doesn’t cause crime, and gun owners are extremely law-abiding.

But there is hope for Canada. This press release, (dated February 9, 2009), states that:

Saskatchewan M.P. Garry Breitkreuz has introduced a Private Members’ Bill to scrap the decade-old Canadian long-gun registry (see link below to Bill C-301).

The long-gun registry was originally budgeted to cost Canadians $2 million, but the price tag spiraled out of control to an estimated $2 billion a decade later. Breitkreuz says it’s time to pull the plug on this useless money pit, because the registry has not saved one single life since it was introduced.

Finally, this video clip is a hilarious knock on gun control laws.

Podcasts on government and economics

Please help yourself to the blog roll and the podcasts in the rightmost column.

Here are some excellent podcasts on the relationship between government and Christianity:

I also would highly recommend reading the articles from the current issue of Salvo magazine.