Does Intelligence Leave a Fingerprint?

I read Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer recently; a proponent of intelligent design. I've always been skeptical on the science of intelligent design. It seems to be an effort to evangelize by stuffing reasons into a predefined conclusion and then offering that product as a reason for faith. There's a couple of things wrong there. You either do science or you don't and you believe as a child or you don't believe at all. I don't think any of us believe because of evidence or argument. I think faith is more holistic and personal than that.

An interview with Stephen Meyer on NPR piqued my curiosity. This guy is intelligent and interesting. He has a Philosophy of Science degree from the University of Cambridge, writes peer reviewed articles, and debates intelligent design with other leading origin of life scientists. He claims to approach intelligent design through inferences from scientific evidence rather than a deduction from religious authority. He's qualified and I believe he succeeds in this objective.

I graduated with a degree in molecular biology from the University of California, San Diego and worked nearly eight years in biological research. Because of my background, I especially liked Meyer's lengthy description of the function of DNA, RNA, and protein in the cell. He elaborated on how much specific information those components contain and the probability of that information arising from chance even in its simplest form. Some people thought the book was a little long based on the reviews I read on Amazon. However, I think Meyer had to lay this foundation since this is what much of his book is centered on.
I like the way Meyer looks at our early scientific understanding of life. In the 19th century, scientists understood physical life to be comprised of a substance they called protoplasm originating from the cell wall. This was the scientific explanation for the composition of life at the time. It was simple but the scientific view of life was simple.

Before the discovery of DNA, scientists understood physical life to be a combination of substance and energy. Watson and Crick added more detail with their discovery of the structure of DNA. DNA brought with it the dimension of information. We now understand life to be comprised of substance, energy, and information. Instead of asking the amorphous question, "Where did life come from?" Scientists now can ask a more specific question, "What is the origin of information?"

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer approaches that very question as a historical scientist (such as a geologist or archaeologist) using abductive reasoning to arrive at a best explanation given the current facts. He discusses Shannon Information, specific information, and the probabilistic resources of the universe to evaluate whether random chance is a reasonable explanation for the origin of life.

Meyer also addresses traditional objections such as the argument from ignorance and the definition of science argument. He doesn't try to address these objections with the rigor you would find in a focused research paper and some people have complained about that. However, I believe he does a good job for this type of book. On the other hand, some people complained the book was too long. You can't please everyone.

Many biologists believe our understanding of biology points to a nontheistic universe. One observation they make supporting abiogenesis (the study of how life could have originated from inorganic matter) is the presence of junk DNA in the introns of genes. Why would this useless DNA reside in our genes if it was designed by a higher intelligence? They reason, the junk DNA is the legacy of useless random nucleotide sequences left over from an ancient random process.

It turns out that a lot of what was once considered junk DNA is actually part of the operating system of the cell, regulating what, when, where, and how much protein a particular gene codes for at any given time throughout our lives. There's less junk and more specific information than we thought.

When I read Genesis' account of creation, I visualize a nested creation where God created the universe and later created life from what he had already made. I see a patient God working in layers and masterfully using laws and processes. I think Genesis does a good job of describing what you see when you look up from its pages; something beautiful, wondrous, and intimate.

I'm not a culture warrior. For me, science is like a lens (not the only lens) for viewing and appreciating God's creation. Science is a potential good for mankind. I can't understand a scientist who is never in wonder and doesn't hope to do good for others. Such wonderful knowledge requires an uncommon purpose. Without God we're high on ambition and low on purpose. The wise men sought Jesus and brought their gifts to him. It's not inconsistent for a scientist to believe in God and find meaning and purpose through faith.

In the end, I don't believe in God because of science. Jesus explained why some people don't believe and the explanation wasn't, "There's not enough science."
John 3:16-20 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

There's One More Thing

It happens so many times. Once you think you know something, it turns out there’s one more thing and reality is different than what you thought.

Here's a nerdy example. Let's say a you learn all about triangles and pretty soon you're using that knowledge to develop a new branch of mathematics called trigonometry. Then, it dawns on you to use trigonometry to navigate the broad flat ocean and you're on your way. After many days, You're completely lost! What went wrong?

Soon after your misadventure, you learn from a prominent astronomer that the earth is round. It suddenly dawns on you that you used the properties of flat triangles to navigate a round world. You need to use spherical triangles. You incorporate spherical triangles into the new math you've been developing and set sail again. This time you arrive at your expected destination. You confirmed the world is round and successfully applied a new branch of mathematics in one stroke! What a day!

Our understanding of the earth and trigonometry didn't progress like this. However, this nicely illustrates there's always one more thing and reality is often different than what we thought.

Living without God is like living a flat life in a round world. God is that additional dimension that doesn't make sense on one level but brings clarity to everything else.