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How Biochemist Matti Leisola’s Lab Experience Persuaded Him of Intelligent Design

David Klinghoffer

Matti Leisola

Evolutionary theory is well named — it theorizes imaginatively, even brilliantly. Yet evolutionary scientists generally lack the solid basis in the very practical understanding of manipulating nature that, say, a biochemist like Matti Leisola can bring to bear.

That’s one reason that Dr. Leisola, co-author of the new book Heretic: One Scientist’s Journey from Darwin to Design, is galling to Darwinists. Not only is he a heretic, having given up his loyalty to the evolutionary way of thinking, but he did so based on a superior  understanding of what changes can actually be effected in nature given all the best resources of science.

He spoke via Skype recently to a gathering in Dallas and summarized the situation this way:

My experience as a scientist has been that although we can modify microorganisms to do something that we want them to do, or modify proteins to function better, this modification is fairly modest. We really cannot change nature’s system very much, very far. And even when we change the organism to do something we want [it] to do, they usually return to their natural, original state.

Whether the subject of this work is bacteria, yeast, or fungi, three cases he cites, his experience in the lab demonstrated to him the difficulty of expecting to change living things permanently. Leisola describes a humble example — the enzymes in washing powder we use in the laundry, with the ability to degrade proteins that account for some of the more stubborn stains on our clothing. That’s all a feat of engineering, design. Yet there’s a limit to what can be achieved by bioengineers. Beyond that, nature resists mightily. Even his own design, as an expert researcher and with the most advanced technology at his disposal, is not sufficient to overcome such resistance.

Yet life, plainly, has evolved in the sense of arising and changing in form over time. Whatever source of agency is responsible must have resources far beyond anything in any lab of which we can conceive. Surely then, blind, mindless groping via natural selection and unguided mutation is not sufficient to do the job.

That is one insight that led this “heretic” to his current position as a proponent of intelligent design. Listen to Dr. Leisola in a new ID the Future podcast, and get your copy of Heretic now.

Photo credit: Laundry powder, by habelfrank, via Pixabay.