Tuesday, 30 November 2010

C4ID’s Introduction to Intelligent Design: Part 10

The Centre for Intelligent Design website features a set of brief (sometimes very brief) pdf documents which collectively form an Introduction to Intelligent Design, credited as written by Dr Alastair Noble, C4ID Director. Collectively, these files form a pamphlet setting out C4ID’s manifesto for ID. Often these documents are written in a way that could be seen as persuasive to the uninformed. In general, the arguments used are those of ‘common sense versus rational investigation’, and the hoary old ‘argument from ignorance/incredulity’.
Part 10 of ‘An Introduction to Intelligent Design’ appears to be lifted from something written by Stephen Meyer (cited as: Dr Stephen Meyer, Director, Discovery Institute, Seattle, in the National Post, Canada, Dec 1st, 2005).
Meyer is the founder of the Discovery Institute. His biography at the Wikipedia page is informative: several of his qualifications derive from religious institutions, and none are in biology. His text misuses analogy quite severely:
DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know generally that information – whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book or encoded in a radio signal – always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of information in the DNA molecule provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA, even if we weren’t there to observe the system coming into existence.
We know generally that information [...] always arises from an intelligent source’ is such a poor analogy, given what we know about how genetic information (and remember the use of the word ‘information’ here is itself an analogy used to make the understanding of genetics easier) can and does change, even within the timescales of experimental investigation. See Biological information does not require a ‘designer’ for my take on this.
I think Meyer’s text here ignores many hypotheses on the chemical origins of the chemicals of life, and the origins of genetic macromolecules.
Robert Saunders, BSc (Hons), PhD

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