Brilliant Research and Twisted Logic

Fifty years ago the scientific journal Nature announced the discovery of DNA -- deoxyribonucleic acid. It opened the door to gene therapy, stem cell research, major medical advances, and new horizons in police work. Dr. James D. Watson explained the drive that led him and fellow scientist Francis Crick to the research that won them the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. "I was born curious," he said. But in addition to obsessive curiosity, Watson and Crick had an exceptional meshing of minds, an empathy that one colleague called a "marvelous resonance between two minds -- that high state in which one plus one does not equal two but more like ten." While we honor these brilliant men for their achievement, they have said outrageous things as they have made their media rounds for the fiftieth anniversary. In interviews they have given the impression that the discovery of DNA has made God unnecessary -- perhaps even documented His non-existence. In an interview with the Telegraph of London, Crick said he went into science for religious -- or anti-religious -- motives. "I asked myself what were the two things that appear inexplicable and are used to support religious beliefs: the difference between living and non-living things and the phenomenon of consciousness . . . People like myself get along perfectly well with no religious views." Similarly, Watson told USA Today, "Francis and I were . . . united in wanting to explain life by means of molecules." In the April Scientific American, he told editor-in-chief John Rennie, "I was very lucky to be brought up by a father who had no religious beliefs. I didn't have that hang-up . . . Both of us are intellectually opposed to the idea that the truth comes from [divine] revelation . . . We don't think there's any spirit in a bacterium." Then he added, "Every time you understand something, religion becomes less likely. Only with the discovery of the double helix and the ensuing genetic revolution have we had grounds for thinking that the powers held traditionally to be the exclusive property of the gods might one day be ours." Watson goes on to say that the two stupidest sentences in the English language are "Love thy enemy" and "The meek shall inherit the earth." He credits his success to his lack of meekness -- his persistence in research and self-promotion. Yet what Watson and Crick discovered in DNA is that the very core of life is information -- extremely complicated information as we know from the years it has taken to map the human genome. Watson and Crick believe all that information came about by time and chance in a random universe. But for information to be useful, it must reflect order and intelligence. Watson may say, "We don't think there's any spirit in a bacterium," but common sense tells us that there is no intelligent information in bacterium either -- except that which an intelligent source creates. And common sense tells us, as well, that DNA, which is more complex than any computer code, obviously could not come into being without a programmer. So as you see scientists celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of DNA, rejoice in the discovery, but don't be taken in by their irreligious hubris. Be prepared instead to give an answer. Information presupposes an intelligent source, and DNA -- a great deal of complex and precise information -- can only be the work of a Designer. For further reading and information: Dr. James D. Watson and Francis Crick, "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids," Nature, 25 April 1953. (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required.) "Happy 50th Anniversary to DNA," interview with Dr. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, director of the Council for Biotechnology PolicyTo the Source, 24 April 2003. "The DNA Revolution: Fifty Years after Watson and Crick, the New Questions in Genetics," NPR, April 2003. Alexandra Witze, "Miracle molecule: DNA has become an overachiever," Dallas Morning News, 21 April 2003. John Rennie, "A Conversation with James D. Watson," Scientific American, April 2003. "Human DNA sequencing complete," The Age (Australia), 15 April 2003. "Do our genes reveal the hand of God?", Telegraph (London), 20 March 2003. See the February 17, 2003, issue of Time, specifically "The Secret of Life" by Nancy Gibbs (pp. 42-45) and "A Twist of Fate" by Michael D. Lemonick (pp. 48-58). (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required for both.) "U.S. to Use Saddam's DNA to Identify Him," ABC News, 13 April 2003. Nicholas Wade, "Watson and Crick, Both Aligned and Apart, Reinvented Biology," New York Times, 25 February 2003. (Archived article, cost $2.95 to retrieve.) Steve Sternberg, "Double helix unlocked key to life," USA Today, 24 February 2003, 1D-5D. Jennet Conant, "The New Celebrity" (article about James D. Watson), Seed magazine, 80-83. Fazala Rana, "FYI: I.D. in DNA: Deciphering Design in the Genetic Code," Facts for Faith, Reasons to Believe, Issue 8, 2002. Charles Colson, "The Devil in the DNA," Christianity Today, 10 August 1998. David Fisher, "Watson and Crick Tell Press of Their Unbelief," ASA Newsletter, May/June 2003, 7-8. (Free Adobe Acrobat Reader required.) Visit the PBS page "Secrets of Photo 51," its program on the discovery of DNA that aired on April 22. Jonathan Imbody, "DNA and God," Washington Times, 27 March 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 011031, "XP and I.D.: Lessons in Origins from Microsoft." David Fisher and Eric Charles Barrett, Scientists Who Believe: 21 Tell Their Own Stories (Moody Publishers, 1984).


Chuck Colson


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