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Paper by Biologist Antony Jose Seeks to Understand Heritability Beyond DNA

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:, 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 Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture 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.



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