Dawkins, Darwin and Digital DNA

Right now Channel 4 is showing a 3 part series, hosted by Richard Dawkins, entitled The Genius of Charles Darwin. In the second episode of this series Richard was putting the idea of intelligent design to the sword, as only he can, holding up the facts of the fossil record and DNA to prove evolution.

His argument is simplicity itself. He argues that the fact that common DNA can be found in all living things shows that we all grow on different branches of the same family tree. He further argues that the fossil records show the evolution of skeletons, for example, over millions of years.

It is a powerful argument and whilst I believe in evolution, I do believe Richard Dawkins’ argument is flawed and this is why.

I have been a software engineer now for (say it quietly) 18 years. If you were to survey the sum total of all the code I had written in that time, you would see a common thread of "DNA" running through it. The way I prefer one method of flow control over another for example, or the names I most regularly use for common variables for another. You would also see a "fossil record”, recording the structure of my applications, in the frameworks that I have used. You would see the .Net version 1.0 "skeleton" change over time to .Net version 2.0 for example. Yet, all this code was create by (if you forgive the immodesty) an intelligent designer, namely me.

So, whilst I favour the theory of evolution over other theories, Dawkins’ argument is not water tight in my opinion.

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4 Responses to Dawkins, Darwin and Digital DNA

  1. Barry Carr says:

    So, are you advocating intelligent design then?

  2. Gary Short says:

    No, and the last sentence of my post would have told you that, I’m just saying Dawkins’ argument re DNA and the fossil record does not exclude intelligent design as he claims it does.

  3. Joanne says:

    The problem with the argument for Intelligent Design is that it has been nobbled by a bunch of crazy ‘right wing’ evangelists in the US and is being used as a counter argument against evolution.

    There is no doubt that the law of evolution is part of life. Natural selection of successful ‘code’ has evolved and changed from the earliest and primative life form. The question to ask is why can’t God fit within this model?

    For someone like Dawkin’s God doesn’t fit because he doesn’t believe and he has no time for the word ‘faith’. In many respects recent research has shown that God is an evolutionary construct of civilisations. Your argument about you being the ‘creator’ of your code means that an ‘intelligence’ (LOL…woops giggling here **cheeky grin**) resides behind the code to create and evolve your application of it. The issue with this is that you are projecting an Intelligence onto a God that ‘may not’ exist. Yours is a human construct of God being the creator.

    Intelligent Design is flawed because it is a projection of human values onto a God like entity. If there is a God who has set up the universal laws of the universe…..I don’t think Intelligent Design would go anyway to explaining this kind of complexity.

    So do we imagine God because we do not fully understand the complexity? or is there a God? we don’t know. I worry when people say that evolution isn’t the only answer. In fact it is, reading anymore into it is just a projection of human values needing to explain the world. Evolution is a natural law, fossil records are only one part of the puzzle. In fact many of the fossil records have had to be reorganised based on DNA genome mapping, for example, the whole of the Bird Genus has been reorganised due to DNA mapping.

    Intelligent Design is a counter argument and as a scientist I will always view it with a good dose of suspiscion.

    Saying that I do think Dawkin’s is a pompous arse. At times he does the scientific world no good with his blatant acts of ‘mediaisation’ and arguments that can have holes drilled through them. No matter what I think of the man his science is accurate and correct The Selfish Gene is a seminal piece of work.

  4. garyshort says:

    Those who like to leave abusive comments and who use false email addresses and try to remain anonymous, should remember that you leave your IP address behind. Just a word to the “wise” 🙂

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