I listened to a fascinating discussion with Dr. Paul Nelson on the Michael Medved show about Dr. Craig Venter’s work on the human genomes. Recent stories reported that he is on the verge of creating synthetic life. Not quite, since he’s using biological material in the process.
But Nelson had some interesting observations about Venter’s studies. He pointed out that in the process of engineering a living cell, he discovered that the error rate had a significant impact on failure. He had to keep the error rate very low if he was to be successful. Nelson pointed out that this has significant implications for Intelligent Design. The likelihood of keeping the error rate low enough without intelligent manipulation is extremely low. A purely material evolutionary process would be more likely to produce an error rate that made life impossible.
Nelson commented on Venter’s work in general and his openness to discovery and having his presumptions influenced by the evidence. Venter is one of the early scientists to posit that junk DNA actually has a purpose. When he finds a process in the cell that he doesn’t understand, he supposes he doesn’t understand it and pursues the idea that it’s more sophisticated than he imagines. Nelson contrasted this approach with the tendency of some evolutionary scientists to interpret such information as simple rather than complex. Nelson said that Venter has the virtue of being open to surprise in his work. Venter’s work has also led him to reject common descent and Darwin’s tree of life, though he does continue to believe in the evolutionary process.
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