10 April 2013

Explanation for DNA--ET is acceptable, but God is not

Discovery Channel News featured an interesting little story entitled "Is An Alien Message Embedded In Our Genetic Code?" From the opening:

"Could our genes have an intelligently designed 'manufacturer’s stamp' inside them, written eons ago elsewhere in our galaxy? Such a 'designer label' would be an indelible stamp of a master extraterrestrial civilization that preceded us by many millions or billions of years. As their ultimate legacy, they recast the Milky Way in their own biological image.
"Vladimir I. shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, hypothesize that an intelligent signal embedded in our genetic code would be a mathematical and semantic message that cannot be accounted for by Darwinian evolution. They call it 'biological SETI.' What’s more, they argue that the scheme has much greater longevity and chance of detecting E.T. than a transient extraterrestrial radio transmission."

So the hypothesis here is that if there is an intelligent signal embedded in the genetic code, then 1) it "could not be accounted for by Darwinian evolution" and 2) it would be an "indelible stamp of a master extraterrestrial civilization that preceded us by many millions or billions of years." 

 Moving on--

"They go on to argue that their detailed analysis that the human genome displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids. 'Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of symbolic language.' They say this includes the use of decimal notation, logical transformations, and the use of the abstract symbol of zero. 'Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing,' they assert."

So, moving on from their hypothesis, their observations lead them to the conclusion that in fact an analysis of the genome reveals order and "precision logic." Looking back to their hypothesis, then, this DNA could 1) not be accounted for by Darwinian evolution and 2) must represent the stamp of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Indeed, the article discusses possible interpretations. The first possibility raised by the researchers was that DNA was invented outside the solar system and seeded earth billions of years ago. This view is known as "panspermia". The reporter offers his own hypothesis: "the universe we see was built inside of a computer program." Finally, the reporter notes, "Biological SETI inevitably smacks head-on into an idea that is completely antithetical to science: the concept of intelligent design (ID)."

Considering these possibilities together, how is it that aliens inseminating the planet and living inside the Matrix are reasonable options, but intelligent design is not? The reporter provides an answer: "To date, ID has been nothing more than biblical creationism in sheep’s clothing. Christian fundamentalists use it to push the teaching of creationism in schools as an alternative to 'secular' evolution."  I must ask, however, what is science? If the observational data lead to certain conclusions, even if they are tentative, should those conclusions be tossed out if they do not fit the status quo? In other words, if the data point to an Intelligent Designer (which they seem to), why reject Intelligent Design simply because that Designer may be God? If nothing else, why not include ID as one possible explanation for origins if the data seem to fit?

In the reporters conclusion, he asks even if the data point to a grand designer, who "designed the designer?" That question must be answered by all, whether religious or not. We all must answer the question of ultimate beginnings and what ultimately came first. For my money, the question of who designed the designer is best defended by William Lane Craig in the Kalam Argument.  The interested reader is also encouraged to consider the work of Stephen Meyers, who wrote Signature in the Cell

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