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Intelligent Design vs. Accidental Origin. The Origin of Information And the Genetic Code in DNA By Timothy D. Boyle. Aims of this presentation. The Issue: Can undirected natural processes alone produce information, such as is stored in DNA?

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intelligent design vs accidental origin

Intelligent Designvs. Accidental Origin

The Origin of Information

And the Genetic Code in DNA

By Timothy D. Boyle

aims of this presentation
Aims of this presentation
  • The Issue: Can undirected natural processes alone produce information, such as is stored in DNA?
  • The Evidence: How DNA works and why intelligent input is required for its existence.
  • The Conclusion: An intelligence vastly superior to us is behind it all.
what is dna
What Is DNA?

The most compact information storage system in existence.

One teaspoon of DNA could hold the design information of all species of life that have ever existed and still have room to encode every book that has ever been written.

the universal genetic code
The Universal Genetic Code

The 64 “codons” code for the 20 amino acids that make up all proteins

similarity to computer codes and braille
Similarity to Computer Codes and Braille

Storage of information in a computer: Long series of 0’s and 1’s arranged in groups of 8 (=1 “byte”). 256 combinations

01100011 10011001 00110010 10100110 10101010

Braille: Series of raised dots (or no dots) arranged in groups of 6.

64 possible combinations for one Braille character =“codon”

redundancy in the genetic code
Redundancy in the Genetic Code

An example:


junk dna
“Junk” DNA?
  • “Genes”: sections of DNA that code for proteins
  • Non-coding DNA: Previously thought to be “junk” (baggage) — imperfections resulting from random chemical processes
  • Now understood to perform critical functions, such as regulating genes
dna the language of creation
DNA: The Language of Creation

What constitutes a language?

DNA has these same components

Encoding system (alphabet)




naturalism s response
Naturalism’s Response
  • Natural patterns of great complexity
  • While a snow flake may be very intricate on a macro scale, it is only a simple, repeating pattern on a micro scale.
patterns versus designs
Patterns versus Designs

What’s the difference between these two?

self organization and the 2nd law of thermodynamics
Self-organization and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
  • Self-organizing properties in nature
  • Chemical properties + right environment + time = patterns
  • Huge gap between patterns and designs: the Information Gap
where does information come from
Where does information come from?

Matter and energy all by themselves cannot produce information. They can only serve as a medium for storing or transporting information.

Information cannot be created without intent.

There are no examples of information that are created without intent.

dimensions of design
Dimensions of Design

Matter and Energy are analogous to spatial dimension of length and width.

If one were limited to only two dimensions of space, one’s mobility (creativity) would be severely restricted.

Information is like the 3rd dimension of space. It allows for almost infinite creativity.

three kinds of evolution
Three Kinds of “Evolution”

1. Deliberate Mutation + Natural Selection + Time = Design

2. Random Mutation + Deliberate Selection + Time = Design

3. Random Mutation + Natural Selection + Time = “Design”? (Darwinian Evolution)

dobzhanski s fruit fly mutation experiments
Dobzhanski’s Fruit Fly Mutation Experiments
  • Only defective fruit flies produced
  • Conclusion: Random Mutation + Natural Selection + Time = ?
  • The probability of extinction vastly exceeds that of evolutionary advance.
random mutations always destroy information
Random mutations always destroy information
  • Information created from the top down — never the bottom up.
  • Mutations work only from the bottom up.
  • Noise (mutations) never improves the signal.
the blind watchmaker
The Blind Watchmaker ?
  • Richard Dawkins’ example: Begins with random letters and gets a line from Shakespeare: “Methinks it is like a weasel.”
  • But this is not true Darwinian evolution. It is like “Scrabble” (random mutations + deliberate selection)
design at every level
Design at Every Level
  • Atomic Scale: DNA
  • Astronomical Scale: The Universe
  • Requires either design in properties (fine tuning) or design in information content (and often both are present).
  • Of the two choices available to us, chance or design, both must be accepted on faith.
  • Unless ruled out for philosophical reasons, design is the obvious choice.
  • Design points to purpose. We are not a “dumb accident.” The Creator has a purpose in mind.

Appendix: Is this a “God-of-the-gaps” argument?

A “God-of-the-gaps” argument is based on what we don’t know.

The “Design Inference” is based on what we do know.

Naturalism actually employs a “no-God-of-the-gaps” argument.


“Methodological Naturalism”

The claim is that science can only function on the basis of “methodological naturalism”

This is true for “empirical science” but not necessarily true for “historical science” (the history of life).