Sir Francis Crick, DNA, and ID

As YomTov arrived, I realized that I had heard “somewhere” about a prominent scientist who proposed the genetic seeding of Planet Earth, which is related to my previous post about Darwin vs. Design. With a bit of research I confirmed that this was none other than Sir Francis Crick, who along with James Watson discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. He found it so complex that in his book, Life Itself, Crick proposed that the basic genetic structure of bacterial DNA was seeded from outer space.

The Wikipedia article points out that Crick later rethought his position, and became more optimistic about spontaneous generation of life on this planet. But his theory — and the reasons behind it — are informative.

What he proposed is, of course, Intelligent Design without a Divine designer — essentially putting off the question of Who or what (be that a Designer or spontaneous process) created life structures able to develop the space-travelling aliens. Crick simply thought that design was more probable than spontaneous generation — so much so that he was willing to entertain the idea of space aliens popping on over to the Third Rock from the Sun long enough to seed it with bacterial DNA and then disappear for several million years.

The obvious question is, why did Crick not simply acknowledge that Design was more likely than spontaneous generation, and stay away from wild theories? As the Wikipedia puts it:

It has been observed that Crick would never have concerned himself with panspermia as a possible natural origin of life on Earth if he had simply adopted a belief in intelligent design. However, as a scientist, Crick was concerned with the power of natural processes such as evolution to account for natural phenomena and felt that religiously inspired beliefs are often wrong and cannot be trusted to provide a sound basis for science.

I disagree that this was an alternative to ID –genetic seeding by space aliens is, in and of itself, one theory of intelligent design. And while it is absolutely true that religious beliefs are not a basis for science, to state that a theory must be removed from the table a priori is nothing if not unscientific — whether or not that belief may be religiously inspired.

There’s certainly a lot more evidence for the Hand of G-d than there is for visiting space aliens — but none other than Sir Francis Crick was willing to grab for the latter in order to avoid the former.

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6 Responses

  1. JewishAtheist says:

    There’s certainly a lot more evidence for the Hand of G-d than there is for visiting space aliens

    While I agree with your assessment of Crick’s argument, I disagree with this statement. We have overwhelming evidence that life exists on one planet. We have overwhelming evidence that there exist billions of stars. We have substantial evidence that a huge number of those stars have planets, many of which are older than Earth. To me, aliens fall under the realm of the possible, based on the evidence we have. I’m not talking about UFO stories, of course, but actual aliens living on some distant planet.

    There is no evidence for G-d.

  2. Micha says:

    “Darwin vs. Design”? Darwin was himself a religious man, who studied to be an Anglican priest. My guess is that a guided evolution, G-d’s hand hidden by mutation and natural selection, is more loyal to his original theory than Dawkins’ staunchly anti-religious stance.

    In other words, there is nothing about Darwinism or neo-Darwinism that is “versus” design.

  3. Micha says:

    As for this post’s point… Drosnin, who made a fortune selling “bible codes” books, also found it easier, even given his belief that the “codes” are real, that aliens wrote the bible rather than that G-d did.

  4. JewSpeak says:

    I couldn’t believe this when I first read about Sir Francis Crick (full story)

    Afterwards I emailed some Professors at UCLA to see what is currently believed. Most of them seemed to agree with his ideas. I guess that is better than the alternative for them.

  5. Martin Packer says:

    “Sir Francis Crick, DNA, and ID”

    He was never knighted, so was not a ‘Sir’!

    Martin Packer

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