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Interior Design

Ken Brown

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DNA and its complex specified information.

Thanks to the hit show CSI, we’ve heard a lot about DNA lately. Found in a stray hair and used to prove a killer’s identity, this mysterious “genetic fingerprint” can bring any case to a satisfying conclusion in just one episode. However, this tiny molecule is far more than a convenient plot device; it’s the blueprint that stores nearly all the information your body needs to grow and run. In fact, all the complexity of life on earth depends on its information-carrying DNA. Yours is unique just as you are unique, for it played no small role in making you.

Much like the letters in a sentence, DNA is made up of many smaller molecules strung together in a precise sequence. Though it can be arranged in any order, a random one will no more make a viable organism than random English letters will make poetry. Only those sequences that correspond to the “genetic code” can be read as plans for the protein “machines” that power our cells. This information is essential to life as we know it, but where did it come from?

That question brings focus to a debate that’s raged since Charles Darwin: Life, like poetry, appears designed, but is it? Darwinists claim it’s merely the product of a long series of lucky accidents, sorted by the grim reaper (“natural selection”). But such evolution is something only reproducing life can do, and DNA is what gives life the ability to reproduce its vital information. It is therefore unclear how information-carrying DNA itself could have evolved. There are more theories than crime dramas on CBS, but few are as realistic.

For this and other reasons, a growing number of scientists are rejecting the Darwinian claim that life is an accident. Intelligent design theorists note that DNA, as well as the protein machines it codes for, possesses “complex specified information” (abbreviated, coincidentally, CSI). This means it is both highly improbable (complex) and conforms to an independent pattern (specified). Design theorists argue that this failure to find a viable non-intelligent explanation for life’s information should not surprise us; for in our experience, CSI is always the product of intelligence.

An illustration will clarify: Imagine finding “I love you” scribbled on a deserted beach. A Darwinist might stand there wondering what unknown natural process produced the message, but most of us would conclude that someone had written it. Why would we think this without any direct evidence? Not because marks in the sand are themselves impossible for natural processes to produce; a mass of sticks in the tide might do it. And not because of the sheer improbability of the arrangement itself, for any other would be equally unlikely. We infer design because this improbable arrangement conforms to an independent pattern. Since the English language does not determine the movement of sticks in the tide, the possibility that they would just happen to produce “I love you” is not just remote; it’s irrelevant. We recognize that this kind of specified complexity is always the product of design. An alternate explanation might exist (imagination is free, after all), but only an illiterate brute would fail to recognize design as the most logical explanation of a message in the sand.

Read the entire article on the Salvo Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 31-Jul-07

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