Book review of “The Cell’s Design” by Fazale Rana

J.W. Wartick reviews “The Cell’s Design” by biochemist Fazale Rana.

Excerpt:

The first line of evidence comes from the machines in the cell. Again, Rana’s approach is analogical, rather than negative. The machine-like nature of the flagellum, along with other motor-like cellular functions presents an argument: “Organisms display design. Therefore, organisms are the product of a creator” (86).

The case doesn’t rest merely upon molecular machines. Rather, that is but one of the many lines of evidence. Rana draws out the implications of several “chicken-and-egg” paradoxes. These include the “mutual interdependence of DNA and proteins” (99), the origin of proteins themselves (100ff), and more (105ff). These systems present a kind of “irreducible complexity in which the system depends on the system to exist” (108).

Other elements of design are present in the cell as well. Aquaporins intricate and detailed workings illustrate the design that is present in the system (111ff). Other detailed, intricate designs (such as collagen, mRNA, and the breakdown of proteins) hint at the need for a designer. But the reasoning is not only supported by the details, it is also bolstered by the structural composition of the cell (126ff). The analogy of cells to machines is strengthened further by the quality control systems within the cell (198ff). Again, the reasoning is analogical–these things are designed, therefore they need a designer.

“Information can’t be separated from the activity of an intelligent agent” (142). The numerous examples of information in the cell lead to the inference of an agent. But it is not only the information’s presence that hints at a designer. Here Rana’s case really builds on and develops the work of other ID theorists. The information alone could be enough to infer an agent, but one must also account for the fact that cellular information follows rules like syntax, semantics, and pragmatics (144ff). It is not merely information, it is the use of that information and the rules governing that use that strengthen the case for an agent behind the information.

It never hurts to know a lot about cosmology and biochemistry, those seem to be the best areas for offensive science apologetics.

I have this book and a later book by Rana called “Creating Life in the Lab” sitting on my ironing board (which is where I put all my to-read books) . Maybe it’s time for me to start reading those and posting book reviews.

3 thoughts on “Book review of “The Cell’s Design” by Fazale Rana”

  1. Perry Marshall has an excellent summary paper, “If You Can Read This, I Can Prove God Exists” of the DNA argument. I think it is probably the strongest argument out there for Intelligent Design (not his paper per se but rather the DNA “information” argument) http://bit.ly/k2QtAj. After reading that, I was really blown away. I followed up with an in depth plunge into the argument via Stephen Meyer’s book, “Signature In The Cell.” Also an excellent read. Basically, DNA by itself is meaningless, just as musical notes are not music or English letters are not language. You must “decode” the information to get anything meaningful – musical notes get turned into sounds, English letters get turned into spoken words and sentences (also a code that is decoded into meaning). In the same sense, the four base nucleic acids of DNA, C, G, U and A, get turned into amino acids and then into proteins. But in order for this to occur, the four nucleic acids must be “decoded” into the acids. So this begs the question, where does the decoding key come from? And it definitely is a key. There are even special codes for “start making protein” and “stop making protein” (notice the start / stop codes http://bit.ly/tTLZ2e). It may be reasonable to speculate that physical things can occur randomly given enough time and chance but it is foolish to speculate that complex *instructions* to build such things would occur naturally.

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  2. I have this book and I can tell you it is much ‘heavier’ than it looks. Never-the-less, it is worth reading if for no other reason than it is like looking at the stars-mindbogglingly, majestic, and meaning-full;)

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