Is there research on Intelligent Design? The reality is that many of the scientific research conducted by Darwinists are supportive of ID, even though their published papers are laced with the usual obeisance to Darwinism. One promising area of research that could be a boon for ID is the creation of life from scratch. Consider the following article and news stories.
From Research on ID The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories
“…neo-Darwinism affirms that new functional sections of the genome arise by trial and error process of mutation and subsequent selection. For this reason, historically many neo-Darwinists expected or predicted that the large non-coding regions of the genome–so-called “junk DNA” –would lack function altogether (Orgel, L. E., & F. H. Crick. 1980. Selfish DNA: the ultimate parasite. Nature 284:604-607.).
Alive! The race to create life from scratch
the Bug will be built up from first principles, using chemicals largely foreign to existing creatures. “You somehow have to forget everything you know about life,” says Rasmussen. “What we have is the simplest we could dream up.”
To achieve this radical simplicity, Rasmussen and his colleagues had to begin with the most basic of questions: what is the least something must do to qualify as being alive? Biologists and philosophers struggled to answer that question for decades (New Scientist, 13 June 1998, p 38).
However, most now agree that one key difference – perhaps the only one – between life and non-life is Darwinian evolution. For something to be alive, it has to be capable of leaving behind offspring whose characteristics can be refined by natural selection.
Researchers discovered that out of 500 genes, about 350 were absolutely essential for life.(Updated hat tip scordova (3-31-06): Minimal genome should be twice the size. It means minimal complexity might be much larger than 350 genes)
The surprise came when they discovered that 103 genes have a function that is a complete mystery.
“We’re missing at least a third of the picture,” said Craig Venter of the Institute for Genetic Research. “But that’s extremely disturbing … these 103 genes, if you knock out one of them, the cell dies,” he said.
If scientists discover the purpose of the mystery genes, experts think they will have a blueprint for the essence of life on a molecular level.
What can we glean from these quotes? How is this relevant to ID research?
First this is an intelligently guided creation of life, not a Darwinian abiogenesis process. Darwinian abiogenesis research has been an abysmal failure. Playing with genomes is a precarious process at best even when intelligence is involved. It has been an exercise in futility to create life without intelligence. Even with intelligence, it reminds me of role-playing games like Wizardry. I was always too impatient when playing these games, so I cheated. I hacked into the character database and changed my game character attributes. I gave myself maximum strength, agility, intelligence, constitution and whatever else was used. I also hacked the character profile to give myself certain items that would be helpful in the game world. However, there were always these stretches of attribute deserts like junk DNA. I was never able to complete the game through cheating. I was always missing some item to get me through the secret passageway or lack the ability to see certain hidden doors. The only people who knew where those hidden markers were are the programmers who programmed the games and knew where to check for those codes that would allow me to pass. Playing with genomes reminds me of playing with Wizardry. Second one of the techniques used to find the minimum requirement of life is to knock out genetic materials that does not kill or damage an organism. From Venter’s research at least 350 out of 500 genes (that they know of – remember Wizardry?) are essential for life. And one third of those genes, if missing will kill the cell.
What Darwinism predicts is that you can change any gene and through accumulation of these mutations over time, a macroevolutionary function will arise. We now know that there are some large numbers of critical genes that must be duplicated first before any mutation can take place. A series of questions can be answered with this line of research. Which gene can be transformed into macroevolutionary function? i.e. Will a gene that codes for hair or eye color be transformed into some macroevolutionary function? Is it possible to change a gene that codes for eye color change into a gene that codes chameleon like abilities? Another question is will we be able to test the endosymbiotic hypothesis? What are the genes that need to be change simultaneously between the 2 cells to create a co-dependency? What needs to be changed in those genes?
On the more ambitious side, it will be interesting to see if Rasmussen’s group is able to create a self-replicating life from scratch. With the prebiotic hindrance removed how long and how difficult will it be to create life from scratch if at all? Whatever the outcome, I predict from an ID perspective that it would strengthen the case of against abiogenesis from a prebiotic environment. The reason is because all the empirical evidence that we have, shows that life began early and complex in Earth’s history. Not only does Darwinian materialism lack the ability to form life from lifeless compounds, it doesn’t have time to form the complexity necessary for minimal life.