ID Prediction #9

“The fossil record, in particular, should show evidence of dis¬crete infusions of information into the biosphere at episodic intervals as well as a top-down, rather than bottom-up, pattern of appearance of new fossil forms.”

This is a prediction that is indeed in sharp contrast to that predicted by evolutionary development. The issue seems to be the degree of increase in information. Though Meyer does not concur, the scientific community in general recognizes that DNA information can increase during the reproduction process. Various mechanisms like gene duplication or a wide variety of mechanisms for DNA insertion increase the total amount of DNA information. These may be detrimental, neutral, or beneficial. The detrimental ones hinder or prevent further reproduction, ending that particular implementation. The others may persist and become specified in the sense of carrying out particular functions. The degree of change of information is typically limited to that which can be reached from an existing organism. We do not yet fully comprehend the range of genetic changes that can occur in this way. Mutations in complex organisms like primates are more likely to be large scale changes in segments of DNA instead of point mutations of nucleotides. Rather dramatic and significant physiological changes are therefore expected and have been observed and documented.

But what Meyer points out is that his proposed indeterminate intelligent designer is not limited by incremental changes to the existing organism. There could, in theory, be far more dramatic changes in DNA information content than that achieved by descent with modification. Such an event has never been observed and doesn’t meet Meyer’s criteria for historical causal analysis. Nor do we know why an intelligent designer would choose to make such large changes as opposed to small incremental ones.

Showing evidence for such large scale changes is quite a challenge. Without a specific mechanism to predict when and where and what type of large scale changes we might expect, we have little guidance. On one hand, if the intelligent designer truly operated at its caprice, then one would expect very little correlation or sequence in the fossil record. There is no reason why the genetic tree should have any coherence at all. If, however, that intelligent designer just wanted to tweak things a bit, perhaps being impatient with the time it was taking evolution to make progress, we might see smaller changes. But those would be hard to distinguish from the extent of changes that can occur in natural reproduction.

What we do know is that there is a truly amazing degree of coherence and correlation in the connection of all living organisms. Some DNA segments are common among virtually all forms of cellular life, with changes consistent with common descent. No major discontinuities have been discovered, meaning that any influence of an intelligent designer as opposed to normal reproduction would be minor.

This is another prediction that would shake up the scientific world if it were confirmed. Yet, even this does not have a clear connection to an intelligent designer in the sense that such a designer would be compelled to operate in this way. The debate would continue.

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March 2010
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