DNA Origin of Life

Evidence for design in living systems is changing the way scientists work

If you look over in the right column of the blog, you’ll see that I am reading “The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith”. It’s a collection of short essays intended for laymen to explain all aspects of the design debate. I’m actually listening to the audio book version, and just looking in the book for diagrams. I wanted to talk about a few resources that are similar to what I’m seeing in the book.

First, there’s this excellent post from Evolution News, where Dr. Casey Luskin (who recently appeared on the Apologetics 315 podcast) lists out all the areas where intelligent design is fruitful for studying living systems.

Here is his list:

  • Protein science
  • Physics and cosmology
  • Information theory
  • Pharmacology
  • Evolutionary computation
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular machines
  • Cell biology
  • Systematics
  • Paleontology
  • Genetics

These are all good, but I’m going to focus on some of them that are interesting to me coming from a software engineering background.

Information theory: ID leads scientists to understand intelligence as a cause of biological complexity, capable of being scientifically studied, and to understand the types of information it generates.

I looked into this one when naturalists were trying to argue that specified complexity was just the same as Shannon information. Shannon information is just concerned with the complexity, or information carrying capacity, of strings. But specified complexity is a step further, where certain strings have meaning or purpose, because they conform to a pattern. A random set of characters the same length as this blog post is complex (like Shannon information), but it’s not specified. What makes my letter sequences specified is that it conforms to the English language, and conveys meaning.

Here’s another:

Evolutionary computation: ID produces theoretical research into the information-generative powers of Darwinian searches, leading to the discovery that the search abilities of Darwinian processes are limited, which has practical implications for the viability of using genetic algorithms to solve problems.

When I was in grad school, there were courses on using “genetic algorithms” to solve problems. But thanks to the work of ID proponents like William Dembski, we now know that these algorithms only work if constraints are put on the search algorithm up front. As such, they don’t support undirected evolution at all.

Bioinformatics: ID has helped scientists develop proper measures of biological information, leading to concepts like complex and specified information or functional sequence complexity. This allows us to better quantify complexity and understand what features are, or are not, within the reach of Darwinian evolution.

Before ID came along, people weren’t really interested in calculating the probability of sequencing amino acids into a protein by chance. They just wanted to assume that it happened, because what else could have happened? Sometimes, you make better decisions when you listen to both sides of a debate. Now we have two sides to the debate on origins, and it helps both sides to defend their views.

Molecular machines: ID encourages scientists to reverse-engineer molecular machines — like the bacterial flagellum — to understand their function like machines, and to understand how the machine-like properties of life allow biological systems to function.

I’ve blogged before about how human inventors are regularly reverse-engineering natural designs in order to come up with designs for man-made machines.

Genetics: ID has inspired scientists to investigate the computer-like properties of DNA and the genome in the hopes of better understanding genetics and the origin of biological systems.15 ID has also inspired scientists to seek function for noncoding junk-DNA, allowing us to understand development and cellular biology.

By now, everybody has heard about the predictions by Darwinists about the “uselessness” of junk DNA. That all went out the window with the data from the ENCODE project, that found that the so-called junk DNA was almost all useful. Another Darwinian prediction falsified by the progress of science.

A 40-minute lecture

I saw a nice lecture from the recent Science & Faith conference that was held in Dallas this year. The speaker was Dr. Brian Miller:

Dr. Miller is Research Coordinator at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Duke University.

More about him and the articles he has written can be found here: https://www.discovery.org/p/miller/

The video talks about all the areas where evidence for design is changing the way that scientists look at living systems.

The talk was very cutting edge, with a lot of new stuff I had not seen before. It’s worth the time to watch it. There were also a couple of prior lectures from the conference. One from Eric Hedin, where he talked about being “canceled” by Darwinists for teaching both sides of origins issues at Ball State University. Another from Stephen C. Meyer talks about the Judeo-Christian origins of modern science. I’ve only watched the Miller lecture so far, but that’s what Saturdays are for! Watching lectures and debates.

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