Intell. Design

Kenneth Piers (
Fri, 29 May 1998 09:37:25 -0500

I have been reading some (but not all) of the messages regarding the
Intelligent Design debate. Although I am merely a lowly organic chemist
with little insight into such deep matters, I have read Behe¹s book and
appreciated many of the contributions different persons have made to this
discussion on this list. Although the discussion has largely ended there is
one point that I think is interesting and has not been brought up. Behe
hinges his argument on the existence of certain ³irreducibly complex²
structures in living organisms. He argues that there is no known mechanism
by which such structures could have arisen through the processes of
biological evolution. Hence such structures must have been ³intelligently
designed² - by which he appears to mean both conceptualization and
fabrication by some intelligent cause.
What has not been pointed out, however, is that in today¹s biological
systems, given the blending of egg and sperm and the correct sort of
nurturing environment, such structures occur over and over again with great
regularity. So there do exist, in fact, mechanisms - presumably biochemical
mechanisms - by which such structures are routinely elaborated in
individual organisms, although humans today may have little knowledge about
the biochemical details of such mechanisms. Whether or not human knowledge
will ever advance to the stage in which we can give a detailed account of
all the biochemical processes necessary for the elaboration of such
structures is an open question. But, given the correct codes in the DNA of
an organism, these structures do arise quite consistently under the aegis
of biochemical regularity without the special intervention and formative
action of any intelligent cause.
So it is difficult for me to see how Behe¹s argument advances the
discussion of origins very much beyond the question of how the original
underlying DNA sequences for such structures came into being. And, it seems
to me, the question of how the requisite DNA sequences that specify such
allegedly ³irreducibly complex² structures came into being, has been at
the forefront of the discussion of origins for a very long time and
certainly is not newly posed with the idea of Intelligent Design. So what
is really new in the ID argument?

Kenneth Piers, Professor Telephone:(616)-957-6491 (W)
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (616)-676-2056 (H)
Calvin College Fax: (616)-957-6501
GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49546 E-mail:

"Meaning is the being of all that has been has a religious
root and a divine origin." H. Dooyeweerd