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The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues

Mike Gene

, 2007

Item# B131
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Mike Gene, a university professor who writes under a pen name in order to keep his day job, advances the science of detecting design in nature with his innovative new book The Design Matrix. Using a similar concept to William Dembski's Explanatory Filter, Gene defines a scoring system that is less deterministic but perhaps more refined in helping us detect the hallmarks of design in biological systems. Gene is a proponent of front-loading, meaning life originated with certain initial conditions and information content that further developed through natural processes. While not all ID proponents agree with the front-loading position, and a number strongly oppose it, it is a healthy sign for ID that various theories exist and are encouraged within the movement. This is the way scientific knowledge advances.

With the "The Design Matrix" Gene proposes that we infer design using four independent criteria:

  1. Analogy (i.e. does it resemble structures that we know are designed from the human realm, like machines, language, codes, etc.)

  2. Discontinuity (i.e. is it irreducibly complex, or is it possible to evolve via a series of gradual intermediates)

  3. Rationality (i.e. does the system have a function, and are good engineering principles used in the system)

  4. Foresight (i.e. does the system demonstrate what Gene calls "Original Mature Design," where there is a design that has remain unchanged over long periods of time and is robust, capable of fulfilling its purpose in many different types of organisms, ecologies, and environments

Mike Gene would have us examine a biological structure and score it for each criteria on a scale of -5 through +5. The scores are summed for each given criterion and a final score is determined. Gene would say that a final score below 0 probably implies a non-teleological process. But a score above zero, especially above 2, indicates that a teleological process generated the feature. Gene allows for two types of teleological processes that fall within ID: intelligent intervention or front-loaded evolution. Gene seems to allow for a combination of both types of ID as taking place in the history of life.

This is a highly innovative book that every one interested in the origins debate should read. Although not all ID proponents will agree with everything he writes, Mike Gene's approach is a highly original and useful contribution to the rapidly growing scientific literature on ID.

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