My design argument thread seems to have derailed beyond all rescue. But it derailed into a rant for a new thread, so here we go.
I was once told that the reason I get frustrated and a tad angry everytime someone compares cellular DNA to computer programming, or complex human-built objects to living things, in an attempt to demonstrate the need for a creator, is because deep down inside I know they're right, and I just don't want to admit it. To which I sighed and walked away. I didn't have the energy to explain myself that day.
The truth is that the first time I heard the "DNA is like a program"-analogy, I was intrigued. The first time I heard this analogy being used to posit a creator, it took me a split second to realise that the analogy breaks (what with alleles, arbitrariness of gene order, and so on). Apparently, this is not so obvious to those who really, really, really wants to believe in a creator. To them, the analogy can't break down.
This is why I get frustrated and a wee bit angry whenever someone makes this analogy for that specific purpose, and I'm going to try and explain myself here (to the best of my abilities).
Imagine that you've never seen an aeroplane, and I'm supposed to describe it to you. I might say that it's like a bird, in that it has wings, a tail and it can fly. This is a good analogy, as it allows you to get an initial basic idea of what a plane does, even though you still don't have a clue as to what a plane is. Now, suppose you've noticed that birds lay eggs, and if an aeroplane is like a bird, you conclude that therefore aeroplanes too, are very likely to lay eggs (remember, you've never heard about aeroplanes before, and you have no idea they're built by humans). We can all see that when used this way, to draw conclusions about the unknown, it breaks down; it becomes a bad analogy.
An analogy is a teaching tool. Nothing more. You can only use it as far as it's meant to be used. When you start to use the analogy to confirm the unknown, you have all your work yet ahead of you. It's perfectly reasonable to posit that aeroplanes lay eggs, based on the analogy above, but now you have to actually show it.
In other words, when you note that computer programs require a programmer, and then posit that there has to be a creator that created the initial DNA program, you've turned a useful analogy into a bad one, because you're not using it as intended; as a stepping stone to a deeper inquiry on the subject. It is the exact equivalent of positing that aeroplanes lay eggs. If you stop there, you'll only realise how silly that conclusion is when someone shows you how aeroplanes are actually made.
It so happens that scientists have figured out enough about biology to confidently say that the process of evolution can and does explain the complexity of life, but in order to see that, you'd have to do some hard studying on the subject.
When you step into a discussion with a superficial understanding of evolution and related branches of science, and only backup your conclusions with bad analogies that betray this lack of depth in your knowledge, you come across looking like a fool to anyone with a deeper understanding of both the limits of your analogy and the fields of science involved. When you do this with the confidence of an expert, it pisses me off. It really does.
But I will find strength to keep fighting these tendencies, and calmly keep explaining these things, because I know that for some it's an honest logical mistake, and it's not fair to lose patience with those individuals. And sometimes I'm dead wrong, and I would hope that others have the patience to explain how I'm wrong even though they're sick and tired of having to explain the same things over and over.
So, what's the purpose of this thread? What should we talk about? Well, I have a feeling we'll be talking about science, evolution, creationism and bad analogies, all over again.