The creationist statement we’ll be exploring today begins with this rhetorical question: “Does a computer networking expert have something new and important to say about the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Debate?”
Well, the computer networking expert in question thinks there actually is a debate, so no. No he doesn’t.
Some background first. A poster who styles himself Wayne from Jeremiah Films spammed one of my posts last week, with a link to a video espousing more tired “no new information” garbage. The video’s production was terrible and the speaker’s voice was annoying, so I followed some links until I found this page. It was the personal webpage of Mr. Perry Marshall, the computer networking expert who produced the video, and who thinks that his knowledge of computers makes him an expert on DNA. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Most arguments about evolution and intelligent design offer only anecdotal evidence and are inherently incapable of actually proving anything.
Most arguments for evolution only offer anecdotal evidence, hmmm? You’ll notice no support for this claim. That is well, because the evidence for evolution is far from anecdotal. (There is no evidence for intelligent design.)
Also, there is no proof in science, only evidence. I’m only one sentence in and I’m already worried about this guy.
He then constructs a logical argument:
- DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
- All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind.
- Therefore DNA was designed by a mind, and language and information are proof of the action of a Superintelligence.
Allow me to paraphrase: “I can’t think of any other way DNA could come about except by conscious design, therefore it was designed.” This is the classic argument from ignorance, which to this day remains the only weapon in the creationist arsenal.
It gets better. Mr. Marshall, having concluded that DNA is designed, then lists its possible origins:
- Humans designed DNA
- Aliens designed DNA
- DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
- There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information
- DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence, i.e. God.
He then dismisses all but the fifth option, therefore “proving” that God designed DNA. Never mind that this is simply another appeal to ignorance. This is even more galling when one considers that Mr. Marhsall left out what scientists consider the probable origin of DNA (another common creationist tactic.) There should be a sixth option:
6. DNA arose through an intelligible, predictable, repeatable natural process.
Scientists are already observing self-catalyzed replication in RNA. Most believe that DNA came to supplant RNA over time, as RNA became more and more intertwined with proteins. This is all fairly tenuous at present, but research continues, and such research is far more useful than simply saying, “We don’t know where DNA came from, therefore God did it.” Marshall’s argument amounts to the latter.
Plus there were a lot of “mutation can’t produce new information” canards, and there’s no excuse in today’s world for continuing to spout that nonsense.
Let’s get down to the calculation!
First: the reliance on scriptural inerrancy of the statement.
X = 1: Metaphorical use of biblical Qu’ranic quotation.
There is no quotation, but the existence of God is taken as a presupposition, which is not a good thing to do if you’re trying to prove his existence.
S = 4: No understanding or knowledge of area being discussed
Apologies to Mr. Marshall, but being a computer expert does not mean he is a DNA expert. DNA is code, sure, but it’s not a machine code, and it has numerous inefficiencies which betray its naturalistic origin. Also, the numerous “no new information” canards betray a complete lack of understanding of basic information theory.
i = 8: Unlikely to be accepted by anyone with more than two functioning neurons
Seriously, his argument is pretty stupid. It’s a grand edifice built on a single argument from ignorance. Welcome to CreationLand.
p = 3: Internal flaw in logic invalidates statment completely, and is unaddressed
Mr. Marshall attempts to use his argument to prove that God exists. In reality, if his argument proves anything (hint: it doesn’t), then it simply demonstrates that DNA is designed. It says nothing about the nature of the designer. God is taken as an assumption, and when you assume what you’re trying to prove, you’re making a very poor argument.
m = 2: Statement maker knows that they are lying enough to mislead an educated audience
I wanted to be harsher with Mr. Marshall, because I don’t take kindly to people who misrepresent their expertise, but I have to save the higher values for the real liars out there. Mr. Marshall uses his knowledge of computers (i.e. human-made systems) and attempts to apply it to DNA, and in a rather clumsy fashion at that. This is clearly an attempt to make his argument look respectful. I don’t imagine it would work on an educated audience, but it certainly amounts to an attempt.
The final Hovind Factor: 45. Not a whopper, but respectable.
If you want, you can post some comments on Mr. Marshall’s videos. He needs someone to hold his feet to the fire!