Science & Faith
4/30/12 at 09:01 AM 99 Comments

New Study of Ribosome's Programming Language: Support for Intelligent Design Concepts

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Programming Language in the World of Technology and Biology: Intelligence at Work

A 14 March 2012 essay in the peer-reviewed journal Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling is noteworthy for adopting the intelligent design approach of identifying and measuring functional (prescriptive) information in living systems. They also recognize that a "programming language" is in use when a ribosome translates the DNA/RNA code into amino acid sequences that fold up in precise ways to make functional proteins.

Although authors D.J. D'Onofrio, D.L. Abel, and D.E. Johnson prefer to use the term “prescriptive information” to refer to the biological information that codes for the building of proteins (and much more), this term is essentially equivalent to the following terms that are better known in the intelligent design community: specified complexity (SC), complex and specified information (CSI), and Functional Sequence Complexity (FSC). Casey Luskin explains all of these terms well and how the new D'Onofrio-Abel-Johnson essay operates with the same concept under the term “prescriptive information.”

Although the first term (specified complexity) is now particularly associated with leading design theorist William Dembski (since the 1980s), in 1973 origin of life theorist Leslie Orgel deployed the term in the same manner. As Orgel explained then:

[L]iving organisms are distinguished [from non-living structures] by their specified complexity. Crystals [and snowflakes] are usually taken as the prototypes of simple, well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity. Leslie E. Orgel, The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection (Chapman & Hall: London, 1973), 189.

Design theorist Stephen Meyer used an equivalent term in writing a peer-reviewed scientific paper in 2004: "complex specified information” (CSI). He did so to help distinguish functional biological information (such as the code in DNA) from mere (unspecified) complexity, such as the random “mixtures of polymers” mentioned by Orgel above. Specified complexity (SC), or "complex specified information” (CSI), is a concept derived from the mainstream scientific literature and is not an invention of critics of neo-Darwinism. See Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004).

Computer programmers are familiar with how CSI (although by yet other terms) is used within a programming language to make Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and other computer software. In our routine experience of the world we only observe intelligent agents producing such complex functional information. This is the key insight of the inference to intelligent design, and this latest article celebrated above further substantiates that the main concepts upon which ID is based are not fringe science, but mainstream and reputable. Read more about the new research cited above in Luskin’s analysis of it here.

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