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Paper by Biologist Antony Jose Seeks to Understand Heritability Beyond DNA

Paul Nelson

Anthony Jose

Some readers may know that fierce debates have occurred among intelligent design theorists — mostly behind the scenes — about the causal role of DNA. Without naming names (because blessed are the peacemakers), I can say that I have friends on both sides of these debates. The pro-DNA side argues that nucleic acid is the causally privileged information carrier in all organisms. The DNA-is-cool-but-not-the-whole-story side, by contrast, says not so fast: DNA is important, but naked DNA is an inert molecule. Stone-cold dead, in fact.

These debates go right to the heart of what ID is, or should be, about as a scientific theory in biology. Thus it’s encouraging, REALLY encouraging, to see the work of University of Maryland biologist Antony Jose, who (as far as I know) has no detectable ID sympathies. In an open access paper, Jose tries to understand how the transmission of information in inheritance occurs without making DNA carry the whole burden — because, he argues, DNA simply cannot carry the whole burden. See, “A framework for parsing heritable information,” published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

H/t to Denyse O’Leary for this reference. See here for a popular science take on Jose’s project: “DNA may not be life’s instruction book — just a jumbled list of ingredients.”

Image source: Phys.org, via University of Maryland/CC0 Public Domain. 

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.

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Antony JosebiologyDenyse O'LearyDNAintelligent designJournal of the Royal Society InterfacemoleculeorganismsUniversity of Maryland