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Sunday, January 01, 2006
Intelligent design is a fact
Intelligent design, as applied to a given species, is the thesis that this species did not develop from its progenitor in accordance with natural processes. I see two ways one can test for this in nature.
On Earth, biological organisms do their organising by means of instructions in each cell to perform that cell's task in service to the whole. These instructions are encoded by means of the DNA molecule, with A, C, G, T taking the place of the 0, 1 in your computer's software. So far, it is currently assumed that these instructions are either random or else serve the purpose of some gene or other.
But it is already known that this is not always the case. Two exceptions are husbandry and signature.
A gene may be rewritten to serve the purpose of some other species entirely. The genes for wheat and certain herd animals are cases in point. There is no way a chicken, say, could survive in the vast majority of habitats in which chickens are now found. That chickens are so widespread now is evidence of intelligent design of the chicken species. Humanity is the Intelligent Designer of chickens. (To a certain extent, humanity is also the Intelligent Designer of humans. Some recessive genes are deliberately bred out of the gene pool as dangerous. Other genes, as markers of a losing ethnic group, are - one might say - chlorinated out of it.)
Or, a gene may be a signature. Someone might encode various suras of the Qur'an into ACGT code and inject it into an embryo. Then that creature's descendants would be intelligently designed by a messenger of Allah, so to speak, and all who looked into that species's DNA would have to admit that this could not be created by nature.
All examples of design leave clues as to their designer. The designers of the chicken did so in order to eat chicken. The one who might infuse DNA with the Qur'an would do so in order to send a message to other intelligent colleagues; who exactly did it, and why he did it if not for his own selfish use.
Therefore, intelligent design is science. It ought to be taught as part of an evolutionary curriculum, particularly in agricultural schools. It is also a fit topic for archaeologists, historians, and sociologists. In fact it's already being studied, as the Economist almost points out in its summary of the wheat genome.
But as long as there remains no evidence of extrahuman husbandry or tinkering against base human or any prehuman-animal DNA, intelligent design has no place in palaeontology.
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