A challenge to intelligent design
Proponents of creationism or intelligent design generally want to demonstrate that their beliefs are not in conflict with scientific evidence, either by incorporating some interpretation of the evidence into their worldview or arguing that the evidence is misleading or otherwise doesn’t exist.
Genetics offers immensely significant evidence that evolution occurs. For example, it can be shown that there are strong relationships between the genetic code of all living things, implying common ancestry. If living things were not evolved but created, there is no reason that there must be so much common genetic coding. The typical creationist response I’ve heard to this argument is that God, like any engineer, frequently reuses designs because they are the best for the job at hand. That all automobiles have similar components, the argument continues, is not evidence that they are all related.
Let’s take the creationist argument at face value and agree that there is no reason why God wouldn’t reuse optimal genetic coding. If that is indeed the case, then we can make a prediction: if life on other planets is found, it will use the same genetic coding that is common among creatures on Earth. I don’t mean that alien life would have eyes, legs, symmetry, or other features similar to Earth creatures (since such things would be expected), but that the actual coding of alien DNA will be similar to the coding of Earth-creature DNA in the same way that Earth-creature DNA is similar to the DNA of other creatures on this planet.
But what if another planet is found on which life follows a genetic code that is completely distinct from that found on Earth? It seems to me that this leaves creationists with two options: Either the DNA patterns used on Earth are not optimal (or not exclusively optimal), in which case there is no longer any reason why God couldn’t have used the alien patterns on Earth, or God created life on another planet using sub-optimal DNA, which is not something we would expect from a perfect creator.
If you’re a proponent of creationism or intelligent design, are you willing to make this prediction? Will you agree that if life is found on another planet that has unique DNA it will be evidence that your view of origins is incorrect? Or is there some other option I have overlooked? I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say.