Chemists in stew about intelligent design

The article seemed to contradict itself. It appeared in the April 2007 issue of Chemistry in Australia, the journal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI), and began:

‘One rarely reads creationist perspectives on science first hand in journals such as Chemistry in Australia.’

Yet it was entitled ‘A creationist’s view of the intelligent design debate’, and was published in the journal.

It was a well-written piece by John Ashton, a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, a Chartered Chemist, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, strategic research manager for the Sanitarium Health Food Company, and a creationist. Ashton continued:

‘Secular and atheistic views have dominated western education for years and it is now very difficult to get a theistic based theory taught or discussed … However, I believed there is a sufficient case for the alternative view that in the beginning God’s creative power brought everything into existence to warrant teaching the evidence for this view in science classes.’

Food-poisoning bacteria

Fancy publishing a religious view in a scientific journal! Excepting, as Ashton explained, this is not just a religious view. It has practical application for chemists and their scientific research.

‘Over the past 30 to 40 years a number of new strains of food poisoning bacteria have evolved. That is before the 1970s or thereabouts, they did not exist (or were at least unknown)—now they are a threat to food safety. The evolution of these bacteria has been traced to the transfer of genetic information (toxin genes or acid resistance genes etc.) from one type of bacteria to another. And it is a similar situation for all the observed cases of evolution including mutations. They all involve either transfer of existing (i.e. created) genetic information from one to another or the loss of some pre-existing (created) genetic information.’

Thus, a creationist scientist like Ashton formulates the problem of food-poisoning bacteria quite differently from a materialist/naturalist scientist (note that CMI advises against words like ‘evolution’ or even ‘micro-evolution’ to describe suchvariation within the kind). They are working from different worldviews, lead to different scientific models, and make different predictions. Understanding the origin, adaptation and behaviour of bacteria is clearly an important issue for chemists dealing with food problems….

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