Discovery Institute: Proof that DNA Was Designed

Some new research reported a month ago at PhysOrg has captured the imagination of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Here’s the PhysOrg news article: Study suggests expanding the genetic alphabet may be easier than previously thought, and the paper on the research in PNAS — the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — is here: Efficient and sequence-independent replication of DNA containing a third base pair establishes a functional six-letter genetic alphabet. It’s a bit technical, but the PhysOrg article says:

A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute suggests that the replication process for DNA — the genetic instructions for living organisms that is composed of four bases (C, G, A and T) — is more open to unnatural letters than had previously been thought. An expanded “DNA alphabet” could carry more information than natural DNA, potentially coding for a much wider range of molecules and enabling a variety of powerful applications, from precise molecular probes and nanomachines to useful new life forms.

Very nice — researchers can expand the DNA alphabet to make a more complicated genome — but what is there about that to get the Discoveroids all worked up? You’ll be amazed to learn that this is evidence for intelligent design.

What? You don’t believe it? Bear with us, dear reader, as we descend into the Crypt of Crud to provide a few excerpts from the Discoveroids’ new blog article, With New Research, the Genetic Code Looks More and More Like a Deliberate Choice. After describing the research they say, with bold font added by us:

The political, ethical and moral issues surrounding the development of such a chimera — important as they are — need not concern us here. What’s interesting for intelligent design theory is that this achievement demonstrates contingency: the natural DNA code is not predestined.

Not predestined? Who ever claimed that it was? Let’s read on:

Even though the natural genetic code is “conserved through all of life,” experiments such as these show that other codes are possible.

Yes, but if all life on Earth uses only one form of DNA, that’s evidence of common descent. We continue:

If natural DNA were the only solution to the problems posed by biological information storage and retrieval, it might be argued that nature had to converge on it.

It’s also likely that the Discoveroids would argue (as they have been doing) that if there were only one needle in the haystack, it required the genius of their magic designer to provide it. Here’s more:

But the researchers concluded that natural DNA does not represent a one-and-only solution. Though they don’t say this, it surely gives more the appearance of a deliberate choice. [Emphasis in the original.]

Deliberate choice! Eureka! Their old argument was that DNA is such an improbable molecule that it must be the handiwork of the intelligent designer. But now it appears that life on Earth uses one of several possible variants of DNA, so ours was deliberately chosen by the designer. They always win. Moving along:

Evolutionists could respond by arguing that the reason the natural code is universal and conserved is that other codes were displaced early on; then, the surviving code was optimized by natural selection over millions of years for efficiency and fidelity.

Yes, that’s how we would respond. But the Discoveroids see things differently:

Aside from the fact that there is no evidence for such a dodge, it begs the question of the origin of those codes. [And DNA would nevertheless be useless] unless the engineers labored further to make it mean something, to assign it a function. Even then, the rest of the system would have to recognize the information and coordinate the function.

Did you get that, dear reader? The rational answer, the one that complies with Occam’s razor, is a “dodge.” Here’s another excerpt:

If we were to applaud the intelligence of genetic engineers for their part, why on earth would we attribute the “natural” part to undirected processes of evolution?

Uh, maybe because there’s no evidence that it’s anything but natural? Here’s their conclusion:

Our experience with designing information systems — first in metal, then silicon, and now with DNA — gives compelling force to the inference that natural “biological information storage and retrieval” is the product of intelligent design.

So there you are, dear reader. Man can tinker with DNA, therefore we are driven by “compelling force” to conclude that the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — did it first.

At this point you may be a bit dazed. You’re probably wondering how the Discoveroids could reach such a bizarre conclusion. But you must remember that they’re guided by The Ten Laws of Creationism. Read them again and you’ll understand.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Discovery Institute: Proof that DNA Was Designed

  1. What? You don’t believe it?

    Discoveroids love to say that because it keeps the “debate” on their terms. But I would disappoint them by saying that I do believe that DNA, and, cellular systems, life itself, etc., are designed. Though I believe that with or without their bogus incredulity arguments and quote-mining. So they now need to move past square one and tell me:
    1. How many years ago the first DNA was designed and built.
    2. How many times it was built from scratch (a simple “once or at most a few times” or “many times, once for each ‘kind’” will suffice to start, though there will be follow-up questions)

  2. If there is more than one way to form a DNA molecule, and other forms might be more useful for certain applications, then the ID hypothesis must be extended to explain why only one form was used. Human designers certainly don’t use the same set of ingredients to make everything, and presumably a Great Omnipotent Designer would be even more resourceful in utilizing the optimum ingredients for each creation. The fact that a variety of independent DNA types do not exist in nature is a problem for ID. A common set of ingredients for all of life is much more likely to be the result of a natural process than any design “choice.”

    If we discover life elsewhere in the solar system, it will be very interesting to see what sort of DNA equivalent molecule is common to that sort of life.

  3. If the laws of physics permit only one kind of life to exist, and no modification to living things can improve them, then life was intelligently designed.

    If the laws of physics permit different kinds of life to exist, and some modification to living things can improve them, then life was intelligently designed.

  4. Diogenes, you have at last achieved understanding.

  5. He’s close, SC. He just needs to discover the Universal Conditional:

    If ___________________, then life was intelligently designed.

  6. Boolean illogic?

  7. NeonNoodle

    Typical DI shell game hucksterism with a Catch-22 spin. Designed if you do, designed if you don’t.

  8. Typo alert: “Deliberate choice! Eureka! They’re old argument …”

    They’re –> Their

    As in: They’re completely out of their skulls over there at the Discotute.

  9. They’re old argument…



  10. NeonNoodle

    There, there.

  11. Tomato Addict says: “Typo alert”

    Aaarrrrghhhh! All fixed. How embarrassing.

  12. Typo’s are just more evidence of intelligent design.

  13. There is a huge difference between how DNA “information storage and retrieval” works compared to how human storage and retrieval works.

    DNA is firmware for most organisms. It’s written to once, at conception, and it’s read out, but the organism doesn’t write to it again. Writing to it again would be incredibly useful, then you could have Lamarckian evolution and adaptation could speed up.

    From this we can conclude that the Designer knows something about it that we don’t, since the Designer wisely locked this possibility away. 🙂

  14. Oh, wait, didn’t Casey Luskin conduct research when he was at Scripps? That’s what his little bio says on his new book “Science and Human Origins.”
    Yes, though just a grad student (not a faculty member), I bet he was the one that conducted (led) a massive research team that found two more amino acids and has been keeping it quiet all these years and now the dishonesty institute has to make it public!

  15. docbill1351

    Actually, what Casey did was a survey of paleomagnetism along a river. He recorded results that other people took. That’s it. Yes, a trained monkey could have done that work.

    Did he interpret the results? No. It was a survey. No interpretation.

    He just went on the field trip and did what he was told to do. End of story. Short story.

    Research? Totally laughable!

  16. @Doc Bill: I feel the need to put in a word on behalf of science monkeys everywhere – There is a lot of important work, and wouldn’t get done right, if the monkeys weren’t around to give it the attention it needs. From my perspective, much of the analysis I do simply would not happen without an exceptional effort to gather the data in the first place. From another perspective, I am a monkey too. (*Ook*) 🙂
    I agree though, that Casey has no claim to being a researcher from his review. Doing a review is the first lesson for all science monkeys to learn before progressing to bigger things. With Casey, the lesson clearly did not take.

  17. docbill1351

    That’s why they call me Doctor Monkey. I, too, spent time in the monkey barrel running tests at all hours of the night and weekends just to get an acknowledgement in the appendix. But maybe I should take a page out of Luskin’s fake journal and start calling myself Professor Bill, or Supreme Commander Bill, no, Emperor William. No, no, wait, wait, I’ll add another fake Dr. and become Dr. Dr. Willi – oh, this just in … that’s been taken by some bible college parking lot attendant. Oh, well.

  18. I’ll just call you Doctor Kong, if that is OK?

  19. Jim Thomerson

    Like most thoughtful folks, I think the universality of the genetic code is the strongest support for a single origin of life on earth. Darwinian parsimony, that similarity is a result of relationship, holds true here. There are a number of instances of organisms which have one or a few non standard code words in their genome. Yeast has the most, either eight or 11, I forget which. I take this to support the idea that living things could have had a greatly, or completely, different code. That they do not is strong support, as said, for a single origin.

  20. Jim Thomerson: “Like most thoughtful folks, I think the universality of the genetic code is the strongest support for a single origin of life on earth.”

    That and other evidence are compelling enough that Michael Behe, who’s probably the most raved-about Discoveroid of all has clearly and consistently (in his ~20 years of anti-evoluion activism) conceded a single origin. More importantly, those Discoveroids who seem to deny it have not challenged him directly. Any vague statements of denial are always directed at “Darwinists,” and for the sole intention of fooling their target audience. To them its a bonus when critics react to that vague denial with “Aha, ID is creationism!” instead of “Have you challenged Behe on common descent, and if not why?”.

    Does anyone get the Discoveroid scam yet???