Saturday, August 13, 2005

How I was infected with ID

It was a dreary winter morning in 1986 and a 9.00am lecture by Conrad Lichtenstein (shown here...he was a bit younger then!) in the second year undergraduate “Molecular Biology” module. It was a little cluster of lectures on the bacterial virus called “Lambda” and what made up for the dreary winter morning was that Conrad Lichtenstein was the best lecturer in the undergraduate course… enthusiastic and full of energy, wit, excitement and enjoyment of science. The subject was how different genes can be switched on and off and how this is controlled. It turns out that the virus has two possible infection options 1. Infect and hide quietly as part of the bacterial DNA – it does this when life is good and all the economic indicators for growth are positive. 2. Infect and reproduce as fast as possible and burst the host cell- it does this when life is tough and economic indicators are down.
The focus of the lectures was that this is a model for the method that is used in biology for controlling two possible programs of gene expression. There are two possible programs and there is an environmentally sensitive switch between the two. The switch is useless to the virus without the two programs and one of the two programs is useless without the environmentally sensitive switch.
I found the unfolding of this whole story intensely exciting and thrilling… it is a marvellous piece of science! The thing however that made this experience memorable was that this little circuit with its elegant little switch thundered to me INTELLIGENCE, ELEGANCE, and DESIGN! It literally shouted at me that I was looking at someone else’s invention… and it was amazing! I wanted to jump on my seat, shout hurrah and dance down the aisles of the lecture room… (I refrained) It was the conjunction of the elegance of the scientific discovery and the elegance of what was sitting there in front of me that combined to result in my excitement. I will never forget it! Eureka!
I understand that there are those who believe that switches and circuits in biology can happen and put themselves together to do useful things…but they should at least accept that explaining how they do it is a good deal more difficult than providing a detailed molecular pathway for the evolution of antibiotic resistance etc.

Imperial College Biochemistry lectures used to be in the dark building below the tower in the picture above.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Who designed the designer?

The argument goes...
If life did not "just happen" but requires an explanation which chance events cannot provide....
and if that explanation is God..... then what is the next step in our explanation.

If God is alive and requires an explanation which chance events cannot provide.... who designed God?

In other words (they say) "Saying God designed life is an explanation which is empty of real meaning."

This is rubbish.

If I declare that "William G Naeus designed the Delux Whirling Recdictajergle..."(if you haven't got one then you haven't lived) do not raise your eyebrows at me and say "You silly nit wit... you have to tell me who designed William G Naeus before you can talk about what he designed"

William G. Naeus is an intelligent agent who designs brilliant new, useful gadgets. He is a satisfactory explanation of the existence of the Delux Whirling Rectictajergle. Indeed if you have ever used a Delux Whirling Recdictajergle then you will probably agree that William G. Naeus did a rather good job and deserves considerable praise for his work.

When Darwinists find so called evidence of imperfect design and boast that if there is an intelligent designer then he didn't do a very good job did he.... ha ha any old grandma could have done better than that with a ball of wool and two knitting needles! Then I say... look at the best robot bird that the entire ability of the human race has managed to make so far.... where is our best attempt at a living organism.... even when we have living organisms sitting in front of us to copy let alone starting from scratch!

We all have to follow the chain of causes back to our own chosen final cause.
Darwinists want to exclude intelligent causes from rational explanation of events.
They want to believe that matter contains within itself the full explanation of its own being and structure. This ends up in believing in eternal and self sufficient and self ordering matter.

What the result is however of de-personalising the origin is that it depersonalises ourselves... it makes us infinitely less than we know ourselves to be and ends up making us fools because we no longer know what we know.

As Darwin pointed out.... "Who would trust the brain of a well developed monkey?"

An eternal, personal God is a more satisfying explanation of our universe than eternal matter. Even the properties of matter that we can detect tell us that it becomes more disordered over time.

As Augustine discovered "We were made for Thee... and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee."

If you banish God from your heart will just have a God sized whole left behind.

How old is the universe?

When Intelligent Design people talk about the staggering complexity of the simplest cell Darwinists talk about the staggering amounts of time available for this complexity to happen in. In David Attenborough's answer on the Today program he did precisely this:

"Now if you’re a scientist you say “okay we’ll go looking and investigate this.” and bearing in mind that there were at least two thousand five hundred million years before these molecules became a part of animals as we know them, two thousand five hundred million years in an enormous length of time in which you can get molecular evolution."

These sort of numbers (2,500,000,000 years) come from calculations to do with radioactive decay of various sorts I gather.

Whenever I hear these sort of statements (especially when they are proclaimed in a condescending "don't you know even that" sort of fashion) I ask myself how much we really know about the moment the universe began to be.

The physicists like Stephen Hawking will give you a moment by moment account of the details down to the first picosecond after the start..... but what about this start?

How much do we really know about it?

How many experimental universes have we made in the laboratory so far?

Do we know exactly what the chemical and physical properties of all the ingredients of the universe were at the moment they started their existence?

The most essential piece of equipment for a scientist is the ability to own up to what he does not know.... only when we face our own ignorance can we begin to think properly about reducing it!

Lets see a little humility about the scattered fragmentary and in some cases contradictory nature of our knowledge of our own origins and the origins of the wonderful universe that we live in.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Here we go!

Well I finally start the blog....
Yesterdays feature on the Today program did it.
David Attenborough has quite a bit of homework to do if he is going to be one of the Darwinist defenders against ID in the UK.

I thought that Stephen Meyer did very well in the limited time he had.

The real question it seems to me is whether intelligent design is part of science or not. It is clear that we know that there are real objects in the real world that have as an essential part of their existence.... intelligent design.

Human beings are agents of intelligent design....some of them are intelligent .....and some of them design things that other people can investigate.... it is clearly part of science to detect and examine the activity of human beings past and present.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence widens the field for identifying intelligent design and was clearly thought to be a scientific project by many scientists. Many evolutionary biologists believe strongly in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.

Must intelligent design be written out of science by a new law.... the David Attenborough first law of doing and thinking Science ...???

I am not sure he is going to get very far with that.... it just rules out of science far too much. What is he going to do with those who insist on breaking the rules?

There is such a clear analogy between what we find in living organisms and what we ourselves have designed that we cannot help but apply the language of design to what we see.... there is no other way to describe it!

The text of the interview:

Audios from BBC