Structure of DNA


"[T]here’s an old saw that says that if the Indians — I mean the East Indian nation — is the most religious country on Earth and the Swedes are the least, America is a nation of Indians governed by Swedes. Our elite culture has very much tapped into this materialistic worldview, the view that the universe is eternal, self-existent. Matter and energy are the fundamental explanatory principles. There is no God or purpose or objective moral order, that sort of thing." — Stephen Meyer

Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief of, recently interviewed Stephen C. Meyer about his new book Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. (The article features a transcript and an embedded video of their conversation.)

Jeffrey summarizes Meyer’s basic premise this way:

So, you’re arguing, as I understand your book, that DNA itself presents evidence for why people should see behind living creatures on Earth an intelligent design and therefore a designer.

And DNA is in every living thing; while there may be variations in the coding, Meyer says, they all conform to what is clearly a design, a "blueprint":

The rivets on a ship and the rivets on a plane may be very different, but they’re part of a larger architecture that’s determined by blueprints.

The mere existence of "blueprints" implies an intelligence behind them:

Jeffrey: Okay, so you’re saying the DNA is actually an information system?
Meyer: Yes.

Darwin himself couldn’t come up with an adequate explanation for the origin of life:

Jeffrey: … did Darwin, through his theory, have an explanation for how you got from point A, where there’s no life, to point B, where there is the first life?
Meyer: Oh, he most definitely did not. He was quite emphatic about this, that he did not have an explanation for the origin of life. Neither did anyone else at the time. At one point, he said we may as well speculate about the origin of matter itself. He did offer some speculations. It fell to later scientists to propose evolutionary explanations for the origin of the first life, but 150 years after the publication of Origin of Species, that is this year, we have no satisfactory evolutionary account for how life first began.

Which, once again, provokes me to ask: Why is Darwinian evolution — and only Darwinian evolution — being taught as fact in taxpayer-supported public schools? But I digress.

What about the commonly-taught notion that chemicals on the early earth somehow organized themselves into life? Meyer doesn’t buy it:

… my book is arguing that, whatever you think about biological evolution, the origin of the first life has not been explained by what’s called chemical evolution, and instead, there is a cause that we know that’s sufficient to produce information, and that cause is intelligence.

This idea horrifies some because it seems to open the way for a Creator (the nature of which may or may not be divine):

Jeffrey: Why would people be upset if objective observation of the physical world pointed to a Creator?
Meyer: Well, they may hold a worldview that excludes the existence of a Creator, and they may hold it very strongly. And for that reason, the evidence that we’re pointing to and the argument that we’re developing — or that I’m developing in this case — would be a challenge to what is, in essence, a religious or quasi-religious perspective that people may hold, either explicitly or kind of as a default way of looking at the world.

Meyer also challenges a common stereotype:

We have this idea of scientists as completely objective guys in white coats who just, you know, look at the evidence and then the theory pops off the evidence and it’s just, it’s obvious. But scientists have ideological commitments, and those differ from scientist to scientist, and that’s one of the reasons that you have controversy.

He seems to be implying that ascertaining facts and seeking after the truth are not the highest goals for scientists; but since the word "science" itself means "knowledge" and a scientist is "one who does science," then just what the heck are these people doing who call themselves scientists — and, furthermore, why are they collecting fat paychecks from private and public sources if they’re not committed to objective, empirical science? But, again, I’m digressing.

Meyer relates this debate on origins to "the human moral order":

Jeffrey: You have this other debate in society in general about what are the rules that should guide our behavior, that should guide our law, and whether they’re immutable and unchangeable, and whether everybody had to obey them. Do you think there’s a connection between these two debates?
Meyer: Oh, absolutely. The connection has to do with a person’s view of design. If the human moral order, if the human person is designed, then you can have definite human nature, you can have an understanding that there is a definite human nature, and therefore there are moral laws that advance human flourishing and there’s this whole natural law tradition of Western philosophy.

Finally, you might be surprised that there could be serious implications for America’s political heritage which Darwinism and its various offshoots present:

Jeffrey: And if you live in a society whose creed begins with the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and you refute the idea that in fact there is a Creator that not only designed the way that human beings are physically, but designed the moral order —
Meyer: You’ve undermined the foundation of the American Revolution.
Jeffrey: So, this Darwinian idea basically can undercut the very founding of our country.

Before leaving this, however, I must say that Mr. Jeffrey’s title isn’t really justifiable since at no time does Meyer concede the premise that the God of the Bible — as commonly conceived — was the Intelligence behind the origin of life on earth. It is largely irrelevant to advocates of intelligent design like Meyer whether the designer of DNA was Brahma, the alien Greys from Zeta Reticuli VI, or Yahweh. IDers are a diverse lot, philosophically and religiously speaking.

Mike Gray