Contradiction: The Common Thread of ID Criticism

DNAby Pete Chadwell9/22/14
The objections to the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) are wide-ranging, but they all have at least one common thread: Contradiction. That is, every argument offered by critics of ID ultimately lands them in the midst of astonishing contradictions. And as they attempt to wiggle free of the incongruity, they frequently end up making very good arguments in favor of ID.

For example, critics of ID love to claim that there’s nothing scientific about the theory of ID. However, to claim that ID isn’t scientific, the ID critic has to ignore the fact that scientists have been invoking intelligent design for centuries as they have discovered, investigated and analyzed messages carved in stone and other ancient artifacts around the world. Of course, intelligent humans were credited for these particular phenomena, but even before that conclusion was reached, an inference to intelligent authorship WAS made. The point is, either invoking intelligent causes is scientifically valid, or it’s not. Scientists know better than to suggest that the Rosetta Stone was formed by natural, unintelligent causes. That is to say, scientists know that instructions arise from mind and not blind, unintelligent processes. And yet when some scientists look at DNA—a molecule which carries instructions for building a living organism and is sometimes referred to as “The Rosetta Stone of Life”—many scientists feel quite comfortable restricting themselves to invoking only blind, unintelligent processes.

We routinely attribute certain phenomena to intelligent causes, and when we do no one berates us for having invoked the supernatural. For example, as motorists enter the town of Bend, Oregon, they are greeted by a large topiary alongside the highway. The shrubs are sculpted to spell the word “BEND.” Who would dare attribute the message in those shrubs to blind, unintelligent processes? Isn’t it far more reasonable to attribute the creation of that topiary to an intelligent (landscape) designer? Why is it “unscientific” to do so?

Critics will quip that such examples only speak to human intelligence, which again places them in yet another contradiction. For an instant of time they pretend to believe that intelligence can only be manifest in humans, but they quickly betray that pretense when they express their support for programs such as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), a program built upon the idea that intelligence is manifest in [non-human] beings elsewhere in the universe, and that if our radio telescopes intercept a radio signal transmitted by such beings, we will be able to determine that the signal had an intelligent source. When they pledge their support for SETI, critics of ID are admitting that intelligent authorship CAN BE detected using scientific methods. [pullquote]When biologists uncover the kind of evidence [DNA]  that . . . would have sent SETI fans into a palm-sweating ecstasy, we ought to be free to conclude . . . that biological life had an intelligent cause.[/pullquote]

The stark reality is that intelligence leaves behind certain hallmarks. If there were no scientifically valid way to distinguish between a signal from an intelligent civilization and the ambient radio noise of deep space, then SETI could never have been organized. And if there is a scientific method for determining intelligent cause, then in the interest of objectivity, that method would have to be applicable to any kind of phenomenon, including biology. When biologists uncover the kind of evidence that, had it been received through a radio telescope would have sent SETI fans into a palm-sweating ecstasy, we ought to be free to conclude, using precisely the same methodology and logic, that biological life had an intelligent cause.

You know that the critics of ID are really flustered, however, when they start making excellent arguments in favor of ID. In a Seattle Town Hall debate which took place in April of 2006, University of Washington professor Peter Ward tried to discredit ID by pointing to a biochemist named Steve Benner, who has devised new ways of encoding genetic information in DNA. Unfortunately for Ward, the fact that Benner has been able to invent a novel scheme for encoding genetic information is a powerful argument FOR Intelligent Design, not AGAINST it. Why? Because Benner employed his INTELLIGENCE to DESIGN a system for encoding genetic information. Benner’s accomplishment demonstrates precisely what proponents of ID have been saying for years: Intelligence is required to produce and encode information. For Benner’s research to serve as a good argument AGAINST Intelligent Design, Benner would have to literally be as dumb as a box of rocks; but I seriously doubt that calling Steve Benner an idiot was really what Peter Ward had in mind.

Such egregious contradictions demonstrate that when a particular paradigm must be protected, logical consistency is no longer required. And yes, that’s ironic as well because while logic and science are supposed to go hand-in-hand, the ID critics who claim to be defending science on the one hand, are the ones who have abandoned logic on the other. • (3094 views)

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33 Responses to Contradiction: The Common Thread of ID Criticism

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Let me introduce you all to Deana Chadwell’s son…introduced to me by Glenn the Obscure (Fairman). Is it nature or nurture as far as his ability to write and think clearly? Well, let’s give Deana some credit (for both, I guess).

    This is a very well-written piece and the kind of stuff I’m always on the lookout for. Whether you agree with intelligent design or not, Pete implicitly does something that is dear to the heart of Dennis Prager.

    Dennis often says, “I’d rather have clarity than agreement.” This is the kind of opinion piece that even if you don’t agree with, there is something substantial to sink your teeth into. It’s not (as is so common these days) full of fuzzy logic, cul-de-sacs of thought, and irrelevancies. (Boy, am I ever putting the pressure on if he wishes to submit another article.)

    This is something we could all learn from. Whether our opponents will agree with us or not, can we write something that offers a clear understanding of one’s position? This is what Pete has done very well in this article.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, the apple didn’t fall from the tree, and in this case that’s a compliment. This was certainly a very fine article, hitting one of the major weak points of the anti-ID campaign of the Darwinists. One wonders how many of them have ever heard of Luther Burbank. One also wonders how many of them actually have any idea what ID really is before they seek to “refute” it — which may be why they do such wretched jobs of it. They find it convenient to claim that ID is merely a fig leaf for young-Earth creationism. (Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, a Southern Baptist preacher, is himself a creationist, and considers ID a weak alternative. But what Darwinist would ever consider asking an actual creationist or an actual IDer what they think?)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, a Southern Baptist preacher, is himself a creationist, and considers ID a weak alternative

      That needn’t be the case. “Intelligent Designer” would just be an attribute of God, a subset of the whole, if you will. It’s no insult to call someone a doctor although that same person might be a husband, father, great golfer, and part time Little League coach.

      I find the guise of Intelligent Designer to be stronger because it takes God out of the idealistic stratosphere and says, “God is a designer and, in the case of DNA, is also a hell of a creative programmer.”

      God is Truth. God is Light. God is Good. God is omniscient. God is omnipotent. God is a 300 bowler. Maybe some or all of these things are true. But could such a perfect being get his hands dirty doing common (well, perhaps not so common) engineering and program design?

      To me, imagining an intelligent designer is to make a Creator seem more real. Do we want God to exist to satisfy our ego cravings or are we serious that Creators actually create things? And if Creators create things, there are methods, although we might not understand those methods in much detail. But if the information in DNA is a method, and the micro-machinery is the product, that’s something tangible to sink your teeth into.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      It would seem that Deanna and Peter capture the essence of Lamarkian-like tendencies in their writing prowess. What began in the mother through concerted effort (fluids and forces–do your duty) ended in the heir………

  3. Thanks for the very generous comments, folks. It’s much appreciated.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I haven’t made up my mind on this subject simply because I don’t think we’ve exhausted the possible methods for DNA and life to occur “naturally” according to the known laws of physics.

    But there are two elements tied up in this: One is science and one is social. Let’s deal with the first.

    Pete has laid out some nice analogies and analyses making intelligent design a reasonable proposition. It’s not just the province of snake handlers, as much as the secular-socialist Left would like to characterize it as such (as well as those not specifically on the Left but who nevertheless have been unwittingly indoctrinated into this worldview as a default position — StubbornThings exists, in part, to be a corrective to that). Stephen Meyer has also done an excellent job of making intelligent design a reasonable proposition. It’s a reasonable conclusion to reach to say that the only place we see information such as that contained in DNA (and not just information but an entire operating system, program, and language) is from an intelligent agent.

    The other side of the argument is that the design-like qualities we see in life and DNA are an illusion. They are the result of non-random events, the slow ratcheting toward complexity (aka “Climbing Mt. Improbable) occurring one small mutation at a time as mindlessly directed by the biggest game of all: survival of the fittest. Given enough time, you can build anything with this method, or so it is claimed.

    The main problem with the intelligent design theory is uniqueness. Although we might come across some Rosetta Stone that we cannot read, we have seen language before and can infer there is intelligence behind it. But DNA and life are unique. There’s nothing else to compare them to. We can infer intelligence, but we don’t have a lot of data points to plot on the curve. It’s, at best, a guess.

    On the other side, given the information of DNA and the micro-machines of the cell, it’s plausible — indeed, there is little doubt of this — that aspects of existing life would change and behave according to logic and the laws and forces of nature (those forces including the information content of DNA). Black moths would predominate on soot-covered trees, better disguised from predators than lighter-colored moths. White moths would predominate when such soot vanished and better matched the natural color of the bark of the trees. Natural selection does occur. And there is variation (however it arises or was built) that can be selected for (with “select” hiding a world of pre-built complexity behind the scenes).

    But this natural selection, so far as we can logically tell, consists merely of the changes that occur when pre-built micro-machines meet the contingencies of nature. As Behe, Meyer, and others point out, there is a paucity of scientific papers that exist explaining how large change occurs via the small ratchet of natural selection. And those that do exist fall back on stating “Things evolved,” which is as deep as the analysis usually goes, although scientists have become very clever at disguising this fact. And given the constraints imposed by seeming “irreducible complexity” (and other considerations such as the reality of the complexity of proteins), gradualism doesn’t seem a good bet. Mt. Improbable is likely not a sloping mounting but a sheer cliff. And whatever small change that does occur is likely building upon information and processes that already exist. But we can’t be sure at the moment where the line is between the two (or, indeed, if that line is an artificial one).

    So there is enough unknown at this point to give ammunition to both sides from purely a logical point of view. But as I said, there are two aspects to this and one is social. For the Left (and all those indoctrinated by this secular meme), their first and most important principle is “The world cannot be that way. There cannot be a Creator. There can only be nature, for science has been shown to be powerful and complete ever since we laid behind us the superstition of religion which has only ever been an impediment to human progress.”

    So no matter what logic or data show, much like the global warming scam, there is a worldview, an identity, wrapped up in this which requires a materialist paradigm based upon the ultimate meaninglessness and randomness of the universe. This could be said to be another common thread in this whole ID issue.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One might note that there are natural items — clouds, occasionally mountains — that actually look like something purely by chance. But in most cases the similarities are vague, perhaps only seen in profile in the case of some mountain formations. Then there are places such as Mount Rushmore where they actually have been designed to look like something. The degree of detail (and similarity to a recognizable original) are good indicators of design as opposed to random natural effects. So the question becomes: are the various biological effects that look designed in the first category (the appearance is an illusion of minds that seek out such similarities) or the second? How does one determine which? And are the Darwinists willing to consider such questions seriously? (I think I can guess the answer to that last question.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        So the question becomes: are the various biological effects that look designed in the first category (the appearance is an illusion of minds that seek out such similarities) or the second? How does one determine which? And are the Darwinists willing to consider such questions seriously?

        No, Darwinists are not willing to consider such questions because this would be ceding ground in the overall war which is science vs. religion. And for science, the Age of Reason, and a Star Trek-like utopia to ever arise, then the side of science must win, even if individual battles get a little messy. But it’s the overall war that counts.

        Clearly DNA is an information-rich thing. It’s interesting to consider that, as far as I know, the DNA molecule does not exist naturally in a “dumb” form, where the nucleotides are truly random and don’t encode for the manufacturing of proteins. This ought to be a pretty good clue that the molecule is manufactured by someone.

        Also, the idea of anything other than binary change via mutation seems nonsensical. A simple example is to take a sentence, any English sentence, and randomly mutate letters. In Darwinian theory, this is how you get change, both large and small. And small change is understandable. It can be as simple as a dip switch, turning off some gene or changing some one-bit instruction that might be a location for something — which can put legs on a fruit fly’s head, for example, but can in not way (as far as we know) create legs in the first place.

        You might mutate, for example, this sentence with a one word random error:

        Dick and Jane are playing with Spot.

        Hit that sentence with a random cosmic ray and you could get:

        Dick and Jan are playing with Spot.

        Lucky for Jan (and lucky that “Jan” already has some pre-existing meaning). But let’s take another cosmic ray shot, in fact, let’s take five of them.

        Dixk and Jyn are pmaying wirh Spow.

        Mutations are going to tend to degrade useful information, not create it. And unless a one-character change is useful, it won’t be inherited. You certainly can, to the best of my knowledge, mess with existing complex information. But until someone can demonstrate that mutations can create new information, and not just manipulate existing information, then Neo-Darwinism gradualism is confined logically to micro-evolution, at best.

        Plus, it seems impossible for one-bit mutations to be able to create things such as unique 100+ strings of amino acids. To “evolve” these complex proteins, one seemingly cannot rely on random chance. The odds are too long.So the only other thing you have is ol’ Climbing Mt. Improbable where some very small (and useful) protein can arise via random chance and you can then step your way to larger ones. But, of course, a small protein must somehow randomly emerge at the same time as other small proteins. Estimates are that 150 proteins at minimum would be needed for any kind of functioning cell. (And if life can exist outside of a cell, we haven’t a clue about that.)

        So if you can get 150 or so small proteins to randomly emerge at the same time and in such a way that life is sustained (and let’s not calculate the odds of this which seem extreme), you also then have the problem of DNA also emerging at the same time that can serve as the memory bank for these proteins and as the instructions to create these proteins. And perhaps there is some process not yet imagined that can lead to this. But throwing one mutation at a time at the problem and saying “things evolve” does not seem like a viable answer.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Richard Dawkins once showed how random changes could change one sequence of letters (perhaps a good sentence) into another (I think it was a quote from Shakespeare). Of course, he carefully failed to consider that it’s easy to do that when you have a specific sentence to compare results to — unlike the situation in nature.

          • Glenn Fairman says:

            Of course, he was impervious to the idea that he was letting ID in through the back door. A sentence is a coherent stream of information. Information is not a material construct but is an emanation flowing from mind. Imagine performing his little experiment without an organizing entity (himself) and without the benefit of language and letters—–which somehow miraculously sprang ex nihilo from the freezing stupidity of dark matter.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              This reminds me of the joke about a scientist showing his skills to God by creating life from primordial chemicals. God responds, “No, you don’t understand. You also have to create all those materials to begin with.”

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              That really was an example of the bias that is blinding so many of these scientists. To create an algorithm that checks for whether or not you are hitting a target number, word, or anything that you have determined beforehand is child’s play in even BASIC. You can dress it up, make it more complicated, wave your magic wand over it and say that evolution is occurring, but it’s the same thing.

              But I don’t think this was meant by Dawkins to be intentionally deceitful. I just think it goes to show to what extent this inbred group of Neo-Darwnists has come to rationalize as a matter of habit.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                That’s my interpretation too, if only because the error is so obvious to those who actually think about it. Dawkins would never make such an obvious error deliberately. It takes an Obama, who is never called on it, to spout such obvious lies.

        • Plus, it seems impossible for one-bit mutations to be able to create things such as unique 100+ strings of amino acids. To “evolve” these complex proteins, one seemingly cannot rely on random chance.

          If you haven’t already, look up Doug Axe at the Biologic Institute. He has had a clever approach… to determine how many functional proteins there are compared to the “search space” of possible amino acid combinations. Proteins are strings of amino acids in specific sequences, just like a sentence is a string of letters in specific sequences. And just like sentences, proteins vary quite a bit in length, depending upon the function the protein will carry out. With an “alphabet” of 20 amino acids, and assuming some uniform length, the possible combinations are mind boggling enough. But throw in the fact that the number of amino acids in the chain can range from as few as 150 or so to thousands, and you’re looking at an enormous search space. And it’s the same with sentences, isn’t it? How many functional sentences are there in the search space of possible letter combinations? I don’t know–and I’m not about to start counting–how many functional sentences there are, certainly that number is HUGE. But compared with the number of possible combinations of 26 letters, the number is small… even minute.

          So Axe has calculated the probability of “finding” a single functional protein by chance, given the 20 amino acids. And he’s determined that the numbers are so big (and the target so small) that even if you grant an ancient universe, there hasn’t been anywhere near enough time to generate even a single functional protein by chance.

          You might mutate, for example, this sentence with a one word random error…

          I like your sentence illustration, Brad. I do something very similar, to make a slightly different point about information using the sentence:

          The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

          We all recognize that mutations happen. Copy errors. So we might get a random mutation and end up with:

          The quick brown box jumps over the lazy hog.

          That’s interesting, and quasi-functional, and you could even call it “new information.” But it’s really a degradation of existing information. What Darwinists need to demonstrate is a mutation that ends up something like this:

          The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, catches the next flight to New York, rides the ferry out to Ellis Island and climbs up the Statue of Liberty while drinking a slurpee.

          Metaphorically speaking, this is what Darwinism claims has happened, only in a much more dramatic and impressive fashion. But it should be obvious that a copying error could never produce anything like that. And Richard Lenski’s experiments with e. coli have demonstrated as much.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            And remember, sentences are themselves groups of words, also of varying length. This can be compared to the nucleotide sequences for each amino acid, I suppose, but it is another necessary step.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Pete, while scouring some headlines, I ran across this article: Biology’s Quiet Revolution. It’s certainly a quick overview of some of the intricacies of DNA:

            Before 1980, biologists already knew that protein-coding regions of DNA in plants and animals are separated by non-protein-coding regions, and that the former could be spliced together in various ways before translation. But it wasn’t until 1985 that biologists discovered the “spliceosome,” a molecular machine that engaged in RNA splicing that rivals the ribosome in its complexity. Biologists subsequently learned that a single protein-coding region in DNA can yield thousands of different proteins through alternative splicing.

            In 1986, biologists discovered RNA editing, by which a cell modifies the subunits in a messenger RNA before translating it into protein–so the final product is not what would have been predicted from the original DNA sequence. At first, this process was found only in single-celled organisms, but extensive RNA editing has since been discovered in humans. In 2003, biologists discovered the “editosome,” which performs RNA editing and (like the spliceosome) rivals the ribosome in its complexity.

            These intricacies might not necessarily point to intelligent design. But they are a problem for the gradual, point-mutation paradigm of Neo-Darwinism:

            If something other than DNA determines an organism’s RNAs and proteins, then that “something”–not DNA mutations–is the source of raw materials for evolution.

            And, as you well know, the supposed “junk” DNA is not mostly (if at all) junk. From what I’ve read, they’re still figuring out what much of it is. But clearly this “junk,” as well as the spiceosome and the editosome, likely act as aspects of the cell’s “operating system.” I don’t have a degree in programmer (some others here might) but surely understanding the information in DNA as merely program data is not enough. One also needs some sort of operating system. Perhaps there are even ways to deduce the programming language that was used.

            Long story short, the system is far more complex than ever imagined. “Point mutations” becomes somewhat of a Romper Room paradigm compared to what is actually occurring. I like Behe’s anology in this article :

            Looking down from an airplane at 30,000 feet, the landscape can appear pretty smooth. It can be hard to imagine yourself in the place of pioneers in covered wagons of earlier times, who had to slog over the uncleared ground bump by bump, facing rivers, ridges, and ravines. A lot of thinking about evolution over the years has been like looking down from a plane — imagining that an evolutionary trek from one large feature to another wouldn’t be too difficult, that it could even be made while blindfolded and drunk. But in reality life is lived on the ground and, without vision and sober planning, ditches, cliffs, and streams can be impassable.

            As science probes ever deeper into the molecular details of life, serious evolutionary thought has been forced to descend from 30,000 feet to ground level, and grave obstacles to undirected evolution have become manifest. Relatively recent, terrific research using the powerful techniques available to modern biology shows three general, separate barriers to a Darwinian (or, for that matter, to any undirected) evolutionary mechanism.

  5. Well now — I’m basking in the proud-mom glory of it all. I didn’t know Pete was submitting this so it was a fun surprise.

    As for ID, I always go back to Occum’s Razor. An Intelligent Designer who is outside of time and space, who, in fact designed time and space, is the simplest way to explain all of nature. Why tie ourselves into kinky knots trying to explain away the obvious evidence of design? Perhaps because without God “all things are permissible.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Perhaps because without God “all things are permissible.”

      Proud Momma, I’ve had a similar thought buzzing around my head for days now and was just being too polite to articulate it. I do believe there is deeply embedded inside human nature the desire to do what one will, damn others and damn the consequences. But because we do not like thinking of ourselves as being thieves, moochers, or miscreants, we must sanitize our image. We might, for example, call moocherism “social justice.” We might call stealing the bread out of our neighbor’s mouth “socialism.”

      This isn’t going to apply to every case. But surely there is a large faction of people for whom the idea of a Creator is inconvenient. To believe that we were created for a purpose and that therefore there is ultimate right and wrong is inconvenient for…well…for types such as these (I’m still waiting to try to get permission to reprint this excellent article).

    • Timothy Lane says:

      “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” I think that came from Aleister Crowley, who certainly tried to live up to it. (Incidentally, fans of the TV series The Wild, Wild West — perhaps the earliest precursor of the steampunk subgenre — may recall Count Manzeppi, played by Victor Buono, who might be described as the man Crowley wanted to be.)

    • GHG says:

      Deana wrote “As for ID, I always go back to Occum’s Razor.” and “Why tie ourselves into kinky knots trying to explain away the obvious evidence of design?”

      and I didn’t see her post before I wrote “So sayeth the Occam’s Beard mob.” and ” … convoluted ways to change straight lines into pretzels.”

      I’m hearing the Twilight Zone song. 🙂

  6. GHG says:

    Intelligent Design implies a non-materialist explanation and is therefore rejected on principle. Irreducible Complexity is a refuted Trojan Horse for Intelligent Design.

    So sayeth the Occam’s Beard mob.

    Meanwhile, those indentured servants of materialism continue to use their metaphysical powers of reason and imagination to find evermore convoluted ways to change straight lines into pretzels.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ol’ Occam’s razor has been given a real workout, particularly in regards to the idea of the multiverse. The desire to hold onto randomness and ultimate meaninglessness (not to mention the primacy of science and particle physics) means that we have an infinite number of universes where the laws of physics are determined at random, thus it is no surprise that we have a universe with conscience beings in it. It just had to happen, a veritable guarantee.

      And even in this universe, one interpretation of quantum physics is that instead of the probability wave collapsing, all probabilities are played out somewhere. Ever possible state of the universe down to the smallest quantum branches off into presumably near infinite states in other dimensions.

      That is indeed a lot of arithmetic to get rid of the idea of a First Cause.

  7. Brad wrote: “Although we might come across some Rosetta Stone that we cannot read, we have seen language before and can infer there is intelligence behind it. But DNA and life are unique. There’s nothing else to compare them to. We can infer intelligence, but we don’t have a lot of data points to plot on the curve. It’s, at best, a guess.”

    I’d venture that it’s quite a bit more than a guess. Consider the following:

    J. Craig Venter, a geneticist (not a theist) who was deeply involved with the Human Genome Project, refers to cells as “software-driven machines” and he also said this:

    “That’s truly the secret of life: Writing software.”

    Add to that Francis Crick’s “Sequence Hypothesis” of 1957, about 4 years after he and James Watson discovered the structure of the DNA molecule… Crick said that nucleotide bases along the DNA backbone “…function as alphabetic characters in a written language or digital characters in a machine code.”

    Sure, there are things about DNA that are unique. But there’s nothing unique about the concept behind it. Nowadays we’re quite familiar with software. We use software almost constantly, and we know that neither Microsoft nor Apple Computer employ blind, purposeless natural processes to write software. But for some strange reason, guys like Richard Dawkins (who himself admits that “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like”) expect us to look at DNA and even though the software it contains is far more advanced than anything any human has ever written, we’re supposed to believe that a blind, purposeless natural process is responsible for creating it. And we’re scoffed at because we scoff at this. That’s some weird, wild stuff.

    Another doozy we need to factor in is the fact that the structure of the protein machines responsible for processing the information in DNA is specified in that very DNA. There is an irreducibility here that is unique to systems that were designed by an intelligence.

    I don’t mind admitting that this isn’t knock-down, drag-out “proof” that life is the product of an intelligent cause, but it sure makes that idea FAR more credible than its competitor.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Perhaps someone has done this, but I’d love to see DNA evaluated from a software/operating system point of view. Yes, I understand there is the triplet code. But would new insights be gained if we looked at life from a different perspective? Instead of trying to justify an ancestry that supposedly goes back to a primordial ooze, what if we’re looking for someone one with a really big pocket protector, the ultimate Nerd?

      Another doozy we need to factor in is the fact that the structure of the protein machines responsible for processing the information in DNA is specified in that very DNA.

      I read something about this once, the fact that both the machine and the instructions for making the machine are in the same data source. I vaguely remember that this was considered to be remarkably in that one would expect some sort of infinite regression: DNA builds the machinery. What codes for DNA? And then what codes for the code for DNA, etc? Perhaps I’m not understanding this issue correctly, but I remember it as a supposedly remarkable point.

      • …the fact that both the machine and the instructions for making the machine are in the same data source."

        The problem, of course, is that the information in DNA isn’t useful unless you already have the machinery you need to read it. A vinyl record was useless if you didn’t also have a record player. They didn’t invent records and then invent record players.

        Darwinism claims that you can build these systems in a step-wise fashion. But we see that the system we’re discussing right now cannot be built in that way. The system is irreducibly complex. And we know that intelligent agents produce such systems… humans have done it from the beginning.

        The other fascinating thing about all of this is the timing, historically speaking. Computer technology as we know it was in its infancy in the 1950s. But that gave us the frame of reference by which we could begin to understand the role of DNA. Francis Crick compared it to “machine code,” but did anyone have that frame of reference in, for example, Darwin’s day? How convenient!

        And the timing of Watson and Crick’s discovery relative to the infamous Miller-Urey experiment (1953) is also interesting. Stanley Miller managed to conjure up a few amino acids in his experiment and people thought he’d accomplished something important. But Watson and Crick’s discovery that same year lead to the realization that all the amino acids in the world are useless if you don’t have instructions for sequencing them to make the proteins that living organisms need. In the same way, you can have all the ingredients you need to bake chocolate chip cookies… but if you don’t have a recipe that shows you how much of each ingredient to use and in what order, then cookies are just a pipe dream.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One must also realize that they’ve never gone beyond the Miller-Urey effort to showing that amino acids or other simple organic chemicals can be combined as they were created. Nor have they re-run the experiment for the type of atmosphere they now think the primordial Earth had.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          In the same way, you can have all the ingredients you need to bake chocolate chip cookies… but if you don’t have a recipe that shows you how much of each ingredient to use and in what order, then cookies are just a pipe dream.

          I think that’s a good point. There was a lot of pro-Darwinian public relations squeezed out of that Miller-Urey experiment. It’s interesting that amino acids can be produced in that way. The experiment was said to show that the “building blocks of life” could be produced by a natural process, the rest was just details. But if the true building block of life is information, then amino acids are of no intrinsic interest. They are simply the aggregate in the biological concrete mix.

          Now, should Dawkins or anyone else come up with a computer program that credibly shows how we get to the composite of DNA/proteins (for it takes proteins to read DNA, and DNA to make the proteins that do the reading), then that will be something. Even so, given the politicization of science by the Left and their sham climate models of late, one should rightly be very skeptical of any computer modeling done.

          One thing seems for sure: For the immediate future, we are left to infer the most likely possibilities. I don’t expect scientists to stop trying to explain life via natural processes even if intelligent design should come to be accepted as the preferred idea. But it’s clearly a near impossible task for scientists to do much more than line up fossils, draw fancy charts, and declare that “things evolved”…unless they can somehow make things evolve from nothing into complex systems in the laboratory. And the chances of finding fossilized lifeforms prior to cell-based life in order to show some kind of logical progression seems remote, assuming such a thing existed.

          So I would imagine there will be this kind of back-and-forth going on for some time. Either scientists show unambiguously how complex systems and information can evolve or God needs to speak and lay copyright claim to his work. I’ll be anxiously awaiting either outcome.

          • Glenn Fairman says:

            ultimately, there is will be a convergence of science and theology. There is now, only we cannot see it for what it is.

          • Since science itself evolved from a Christian worldview — the effort to discover all that could be discovered of this amazing world God created — I’m sure that one day it will all come back together, and from the looks of things, fairly soon. This rift only started 150 years ago; in the broad view that’s merely a ripple.

  8. GHG says:

    These recent articles on biology, evolution, and the like, are truly fascinating and have me looking forward for more. But it occurs to me that the pathological pursuit of a materialistic explanation is driven by the oldest seduction known to man – to know what we can’t know, to be the equal of God. The Dawkin’s of the world are some of the most intelligent humans there are, and thus his “god” is his intellect that he believes, given enough time, can unravel the heretofore mysteries of life. People, especially ones with high IQ’s, don’t easily give up their life investment.

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