Over on the Biologos Website, Dr. Darrel Falk has posted a response to Dr. Stephen Meyer’s claim in “Signature in the Cell,” that only intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information. Dr. Falk cites a counterexample:
“Consider the generation of antibody diversity for example. When a bacterium invades the body, a process results in a whole lot of random rearrangements of DNA sequence, and this eventually produces trillions of highly specific antibodies which specifically recognize and bind to the invading bacterial cells. The antibodies are highly specified. They bind only to that one type of bacteria. We go from a state of lower complexity to higher complexity—higher specified complexity!”
As I understand it, the refining of antibody/antigen bond is achieved through a process of initial best fit clone selection followed by the application of a specialised bacterial homologue mutator enzyme to specific bounded loci on the binding site coding region of the antibody coding gene, then there is repeated testing by specialised cells, of the strength of the new antibody binding site/antigen binding strength of the resulting mutated cell lines, followed by clonal selection for the best fit cell line and proliferation of the selected best clone.
This is one of the most amazing processes ever described. Very little is known of the fine details. Whatever may be said about it, it is a highly regulated, specified, directed and choreographed process. It is obviously the product of overwhelmingly brilliant design and Falk is using a designed process to demonstrate that design is unnecessary.
Even if Dr Falk were right to assert “randomness” as the generator of specified diversity here, a paper by D. J. Smith estimates the size of the shape space involved as between 10^10 and 10^16, which equates to less than 54 bits of information. On page 294 of his book, Dr. Meyer stipulates 500 bits as the maximum that could be generated by undirected processes. (Dr. Meyer also modestly restricts his COI law to non-biological processes, which would exclude the generation of antibody diversity.)
We must conclude that Dr. Falk has failed to offer a genuine counterexample to Dr. Meyer’s claim about the very limited power of unintelligent processes to generate specified complexity.