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.
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