But Darwin did not know the mechanism of heredity or the origin of novel variations, so his theory was seriously incomplete. After 1900, Mendelian genetics seemed to remedy the first deficiency, and after 1953 DNA mutations seemed to remedy the second. The resulting Modern Synthesis combined Darwin’s theory with the idea that organismal development is controlled by a genetic program written in DNA sequences, and that DNA mutations can change the program to generate the raw materials of evolution. According to molecular biologist Jacques Monod, “with that, and the understanding of the random physical basis of mutation that molecular biology has also provided, the mechanism of Darwinism is at last securely founded. And man has to understand that he is a mere accident.” (Quoted in Horace Freeland Judson’s 1979 book, The Eighth Day of Creation, p. 217.)
So in the context of Darwinian evolution and molecular biology, many biologists tend to regard the living organism as a special kind of machine — that is, a computer, in which DNA sequences are the software. As Bill Gates put it in 1995, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” In both the technical and popular literature, phrases such as “genetic program” and “DNA blueprint” have become commonplace. Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, wrote in his 2006 book The Language of God that DNA is an “amazing script, carrying within it all of the instructions for building a human being.” (p. 2)
Yet combining Darwinian evolution with the notion of a genetic program leads to a paradox. Computers and computer programs (like machines in general) are made by intelligent agents, namely, human beings. Not surprisingly, proponents of intelligent design (ID) have argued that machine- and code-like aspects of living things point to the very design that Darwinian evolution tries to exclude. Thus Michael Behe points to a molecular machine, the bacterial flagellum, which does not function unless several dozen parts are already in place — a feature characteristic of intelligent design. And Stephen Meyer points to complex and highly specified DNA sequences, which like computer software cannot arise by chance but point to an intelligent designer. More.
Don’t expect the old guard to get it, whatever they claim their faith to be. They “know” they are machines.
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