Doug Axe got his Ph.D from Caltech and did post-doc research at Cambridge University, and published some of his findings in the peer-reviewed Journal of Molecular Biology. He was trying to see whether it is easy or hard to shuffle amino acids randomly in order to make functional proteins. Those JMB publications show that the number of functional amino acid sequences is tiny, compared to the number of possible sequences.
Doug Axe’s research likewise studies genes that it turns out show great evidence of design. Axe studied the sensitivities of protein function to mutations. In these “mutational sensitivity” tests, Dr. Axe mutated certain amino acids in various proteins, or studied the differences between similar proteins, to see how mutations or changes affected their ability to function properly. He found that protein function was highly sensitive to mutation, and that proteins are not very tolerant to changes in their amino acid sequences. In other words, when you mutate, tweak, or change these proteins slightly, they stopped working. In one of his papers, he thus concludes that “functional folds require highly extraordinary sequences,” and that functional protein folds “may be as low as 1 in 10^77.”
And now let’s see what he was up to in Stuttgart, Germany.
While there have been many events to discuss intelligent design sponsored by the scientific establishment this year, few have dared to invite an actual design proponent.
But on the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, Biologic Institute Director Douglas Axe was invited to the National Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, for a panel discussion titled Design without a Designer? where “the ‘bold generation’ of young thinkers turned up in droves, listening intently as the discussion went well beyond its advertised ninety minutes.”
Here’s the official description of the event (in German), and a translated excerpt:
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Darwin’s theory, this high-caliber panel discussion between evolutionists and Darwin critics will consider the question of whether the evolution of life on Earth is based solely on blind and unguided natural processes, or whether there is non-religiously based, verifiable evidence of meaningful and purposeful acts of creative intelligence in the natural world. This meeting at the Stuttgart Museum of Natural History aims to contribute constructively and with clarity and objectivity to this important debate. A public debate between evolutionary biologists and evolutionary critics at this high level is very rare in Germany, and therefore can be expected to be a very exciting evening.
You can read more at the Biologic Institute. They even have excerpts from Doug’s opening statement. It’s short and to the point.
William Dembski and Stephen Meyer have both framed the design argument in terms of functional information, meaning information that specifies a significant functional outcome. Since this fits well with my own understanding, I offer the following three-statement summary of the design argument:
First: Living things contain within their genomes large amounts of functional information.
Second: The only cause known to be capable of generating large amounts of functional information is intelligence.
And third: It is therefore reasonable to infer that the functional information in living things must have an intelligent source.
Here we have not a pronouncement but an argument based on evidence and logic. It is perfectly fair to argue against it, of course, but it is hardly fair to dismiss it as dogma.
I like this, because I am a software engineer. This is what we do.