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Peer-Reviewed Pro-Intelligent Design Paper Suggests “Agents” and “Choice Contingency” Needed to Explain Life’s Programming

A 2009 peer-reviewed scientific paper by David Abel in International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled “The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity” asks, “If all known life depends upon genetic instructions, how was the first linear digital prescriptive genetic information generated by natural process?” The author does not consider himself per se a proponent of intelligent design, and warns materialists that there is an easy solution to the challenges posed by intelligent design: “To stem the growing swell of Intelligent Design intrusions, it is imperative that we provide stand-alone natural process evidence of non trivial self-organization at the edge of chaos. We must demonstrate on sound scientific grounds the formal capabilities of naturally-occurring physicodynamic complexity.” However, while the author notes that much effort has been spent “arguing to the lay community that we have proved the current biological paradigm,” he concludes that the actual evidence for self-organization is “sorely lacking” and has been “inflated.”

The author emphasizes a distinction between “order” and “organization,” arguing that self-ordered structures like whirlpools are readily constructed by natural processes, but “have never been observed to achieve 1) programming, 2) computational halting, 3) creative engineering, 4) symbol systems, 5) language, or 6) bona fide organization”–all hallmarks of living organisms. In contrast, living organisms are built upon programming and are highly organized, but “physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.”

His solution suggests that a positive argument for design could be feasible: “No known natural process exists that spontaneously writes meaningful or functional syntax. Only agents have been known to write meaningful and pragmatic syntax.” He notes that the kind of “sophisticated formal function” found in life “consistently requires regulation and control,” but “[c]ontrol always emanates from choice contingency and intentionality, not from spontaneous molecular chaos.”


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.