Re: Functional proteins from a random library

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Fri Apr 06 2001 - 10:34:46 EDT

  • Next message: Terry M. Gray: "Re: Functional proteins from a random library"

    Paul Nelson, appealing to Bill Dembski's argumentation for support, favors
    the Intelligent Design movement's strategy of looking for reasons to
    conclude that "it couldn't have happened naturally," where "naturally" means
    "without occasional episodes of form-conferring extra-natural intervention"
    (my words, not Paul's). In Paul's words, "As intelligent control or
    intervention is removed, the results cease to be biologically relevant," or
    "No mRNA by that route."

    Underlying the ID approach seems to be the presumption that if atoms,
    molecules or cells are doing something, God should get less credit. That is
    exactly what the preachers of naturalism say, of course, but why, Why, WHY
    should a Christian want to adopt the same line of reasoning? I just don't
    understand it. (Unless, of course, the form-imposing interventionist picture
    of God's creative action must be defended at any price.)

    If atoms, molecules and cells are members of a Creation given being by God,
    then everything that they are and everything that they are capable of doing
    is a God-given gift of being. The richness of that being stands as a vivid
    testimony (in the spirit of Romans 1:20) of God's creativity (in
    conceptualizing the Creation's system of resources, capabilities and
    potentialities) and God's generosity (in giving the Creation such functional
    integrity, or wholeness of being).

    Why, then, be engaged in an enterprise that searches for evidence that the
    Creation is unable to accomplish a few molecular assembly feats? Why search
    for evidence of gifts withheld from the Creation? Is the Creator's
    signature really best seen in what the Creation _cannot_ accomplish, or is
    it better seen in the astounding things that it _can_ do with its God-given
    gifts for actualizing some of the structural potentialities that have been a
    part of its being since the beginning?

    And why call the enterprise that celebrates empirical evidence for gifts
    withheld from the Creation by the misleading label INTELLIGENT DESIGN when
    in actuality it is an enterprise to promote the proposition that certain
    structures/forms could be actualized only by intervening acts of
    EXTRA-NATURAL ASSEMBLY to compensate for key formational gifts withheld by
    the Creator? If FORM-IMPOSING INTERVENTION is the picture of God's creative
    work that you want to promote, then why not have the courage to say so
    candidly? You have every right to promote that point of view. Why not accept
    a "truth in labeling" approach?

    Howard Van Till


    Paul Nelson's note:

    Bill Dembski deals with experiments like this (as I
    recall, he looks at ribozyme engineering) in his
    forthcoming book, _No Free Lunch: Why Specified
    Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence_.

    Pools of ~10^13 mRNAs could not exist on the early
    Earth, or anywhere, really, without the help either
    of organisms or clever biochemists. Indeed it is
    possible to "back out" of experiments like these
    one step at a time, removing the intelligently-
    synthesized reagents (e.g., buffers) and artificial
    conditions. [In some ribozyme engineering
    experiments, for instance, the RNAs are tethered
    to keep them from precipitating.] As intelligent
    control or intervention is removed, the results
    cease to be biologically relevant.

    Bill's point exactly, as he explains in _No Free
    Lunch_. A library of ~10^13 mRNAs is as designed
    an object as an integrated circuit. To put it another
    way, you can be sure that Jack Szostak and colleagues
    don't start their experiments under prebiotically
    plausible conditions. No mRNA by that route. ;-)

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