Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Apparently I failed to publish Common Sense. I did that just now.
I have been looking at more publications. One thing I found was a 2002 article that responded to an editorial by Penne, the editor of an evolutionary magazine who attacked creation science. Their response has many excellent references. You can read it at: http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/reprints_pdf/dc-02-safull.pdf
At the same time I have been reading a blog by a Christian Evolutionist, Dennis Venema, that teaches biology. He presented the following argument:
“Basically every gene, every new protein fold… there is nothing of significance that we can show [that] can be had in that gradualistic way. It’s all a mirage. None of it happens that way.”
The importance of this line of argumentation for the IDM can be seen clearly in Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell (published in 2009). In this book, Meyer claims that an intelligent agent is responsible for the information we observe in DNA because, in his words, natural mechanisms “will not suffice” to explain it:
Since the case for intelligent design as the best explanation for the origin of biological information necessary to build novel forms of life depends, in part, upon the claim that functional (information-rich) genes and proteins cannot be explained by random mutation and natural selection, this design hypothesis implies that selection and mutation will not suffice to produce genetic information … (p. 495)
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this argument for Meyer in Signature, and for the IDM as a whole. In the conclusion to a pivotal chapter entitled “The Best Explanation” Meyer presents the following summary of his case:
Since the intelligent-design hypothesis meets both the causal-adequacy and causal-existence criteria of a best explanation, and since no other competing explanation meets these conditions as well –or at all–it follows that the design hypothesis provides the best, most causally adequate explanation of the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life on earth. Indeed, our uniform experience affirms that specified information … always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind, and not a strictly material process. So the discovery of the specified digital information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA. Indeed, whenever we find specified information and we know the causal story of how that information arose, we always find that it arose from an intelligent source. It follows that the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of the specified, digitally encoded information in DNA is that it too had an intelligent source. (p. 347)
Put more simply, Meyer claims that if we see specified information, we infer design, since we know of no mechanism that can produce specified information through an unintelligent, natural process. As a logical argument, Meyer’s position only works if (and this is a big if) – his premises are correct.
The issue is that Meyer’s case is open to refutation by counterexample, and even one counterexample would suffice. If any natural mechanism can be shown to produce “functional, information-rich genes and proteins”, then intelligent design is no longer the best explanation for the origin of information we observe in DNA, by Meyer’s own stated criteria. His entire (500+ page) argument would simply unravel.
The obvious problem for Meyer’s case is that biologists are well aware of a natural mechanism that does add functional, specified information to DNA sequences (and in some cases, creates new genes de novo): natural selection acting on genetic variation produced through random mutation. Not only are biologists aware of some examples of natural selection adding functional information to DNA, this effect has been observed time and again, and in some cases it has documented in exquisite detail. When I reviewed Signature for the American Scientific Affiliation journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (PSCF) what struck me, repeatedly, was that Meyer made no mention of the evidence for natural selection as a mechanism to increase biological information. I fully expected him to dispute the evidence, certainly – but the surprise for me was that he simply denied it to be sufficient without addressing any evidence.

His argument that natural mechanisms do add information ignores the problem that Meyer stated that you can't add information to non-living minerals. It is well-known that genetics produce mutations, but they don't produce new organisms. The mutations and new genes are always like the progenitors. Millions of fruit flies have been produced in the laboratory and they are always fruit flies. No horse flies have appeared. Another lab test described by Biologos is their ongoing Ecoli tests. Looking at their data they still have Ecoli after thousands of tests.
Their argument that evolution happened just can't be justified by their experiments as far as I can see.

No comments:

Post a Comment