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Intelligent Design: Lewis gets it but Cox doesn’t! 

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Intriguingly, the last-ever episode of Lewis on ITV in 2013 was entitled ‘Intelligent Design’. Was it a bit of detective work on the source of the coded information in DNA? Well no, but at least DI Hathaway got a nearly-correct description of ID.

Part of the plot was that the devious villain of a Chemistry professor, who murdered and got murdered, had embraced the position of Intelligent Design. For this, he was shunned by his academic colleagues. As we would expect from our media certainly no stereotyping there!

It was, however, a step closer to ID than the Brian Cox BBC2 series ‘Wonders of Life’. Despite the brilliant popularisation of science and the illustrative power of HD television, Cox doesn’t really engage with the problem of the origin of genetic information in DNA. He simply advances the notion that it just emerged as a result of natural selection. There is no indication that, from the clear appearance of design, you might infer that is the best explanation of the observed data. You must read Dr David Galloway’s article about it on our web site at

Academics who do get it, though, are Dr Stephen Meyer and Prof Steve Fuller who made stunning contributions to the Tyndale Design Conference at Cambridge in July 2012, along with contributions from Prof Stephen Clark and Dr David Glass.

Dr Stephen Meyer's contribution can be seen on YouTube.
"Intelligent Design: The Most Credible Idea?"

And in 2013 DNA was in the news again. Hard on the heels of the big DNA story of 2012 – the junking of ‘junk DNA’ – comes another one: the encrypting of Shakespeare into DNA by scientists working at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge[1].

‘Junk DNA’ – the 98% or so of DNA which was supposed to have no function - has long been promoted as the killer argument for Darwinian evolution. All this molecular debris, it was claimed, is clear evidence of our evolutionary past – except that it isn’t. The ‘debris’ turns out to be active and almost certainly part of an awesomely sophisticated information handling system. Intelligent Design theorists have been predicting for a decade or so that it was unlikely that DNA was mostly junk. It looks like they were right after all[2].

Now, in 2013, intelligent minds at the European Bioinformatics Institute at Cambridge have been able to transfer Shakespeare from binary digital code into the quaternary code of DNA. Shakespeare stored in molecules is quite something! No wonder Bill Gates has said that DNA is more advanced than any software ever created[3].

The question surely is: if DNA can be programmed by intelligent scientists to carry English literature, how did it come to be programmed with the much more complex genetic information in the first place? It’s remarkable how, in the flurry of professional and press coverage of these astonishing discoveries, a major implication is missed.

Of course the scientific consensus won’t allow the obvious conclusion – an intelligent agent is involved - to be drawn because it violates the principle of methodological naturalism which has now been imposed on science. So the highly improbable suggestion that DNA assembled itself by some random combination of physical processes and chemical natural selection (something of a mystery really because how does natural selection operate before life arrives?) becomes the accepted dogma.

When is the scientific community going to wake up to the reality that this approach will never explain the origin of the sophisticated genetic information carried in DNA and abandon its dogmatic naturalism in favour of a more open worldview which allows the possibility of intelligent causes?

Dr Alastair Noble
Updated from a 2013 version

[1]Source Article: Toward practical high-capacity low-maintenance storage of digital information in synthesised DNA. Nature; DOI: 10.1038/nature11875. Published online 23 January 2013.
[2]See ‘The Myth of Junk DNA’, Jonathan Wells, Discovery Institute Press, 2011.
[3]Bill Gates, ‘The Road Ahead’ p188.

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