15 Comments

DNA as evidence for Intelligence behind the origin of Life

Many Atheist, specially those who have studied Biology from that prospective, raise the objection that since Darwinian Theory of Evolution has defeated the argument from design, and has provided a completely materialistic explanation to complexity of life, all the arguments for the existence of God has fallen apart.

However, although not all scientists agree that the Darwinian Theory of Evolution can account for all complexity of life, a more fundamental point to be noted is that the theory does not account for the Origin of Life in the first place. Infact no theory of undirected chemical evolution or laws of chemistry have been able to provide an answer

I recently came acroos a book, ‘Signature in the Cell – DNA and evidence for Intelligent Design’, in which its author, Dr. Stephen C. Meyer has provided a strong scientific evidence for Intelligence behind the origin of life.

In this book, Dr. Meyer explains the problem and its solution as summarized below

In 1953 Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA. Later on Francis Crick gave the “sequence hypothesis” according to which the chemical constituents in DNA function like letters in a written language or symbols in a computer code. Just as English letters may convey a particular message depending on their arrangement, so too do certain sequences of chemical bases along the spine of a DNA molecule convey precise instructions for building proteins.

Thus, the DNA molecule has the same property of “sequence specificity” that characterizes codes and language.

Thus the arrngement of the chemical’s represented by A C G & T dictate instructions for arranging constituent parts of protiens called Amino Acids.

The shape of the protein determines its functions. These shapes of protiens are detrmined in large part by Interactions between each of these amino acids. Each Amino acid has side chains. The interactions between the side chains set constellations of forces that causes different shapes to form.

How does that shape arise? The shape arises from the specifity of Amino acids, which inturns is derived by the specific arrangement, the digital code stored along the DNA molecule.

Where does this information arise? This is what lies at the heart of origin-of-life research.

As Bernd-Olaf Kuppers has stated, “the problem of the origin of life is clearly basically equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information”

Till date no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information needed to build the first living cell. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by chance alone. And the information in DNA has also been shown to defy explanation by reference to the laws of chemistry. Saying otherwise would be like saying that a newspaper headline might arise as the result of the chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly “something else” is at work.

As Pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed, “information habitually arises from conscious activity.”

The information on a computer screen can be traced back to a user or programmer. The information in a book ultimately came from a writer-from a mental, rather than a strictly material, cause. This connection between information and prior intelligence enables us to detect or infer intelligent activity even from unobservable sources in the distant past.

DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know generally that information-whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book or encoded in a radio signal-always arises from an intelligent source. So the discovery of information in the DNA molecule, provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a role in the origin of DNA, even if we weren’t there to observe the system coming into existence.

One can read the complete article on this by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer on Discovery Institute’s website at DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification, and Explanation

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About Kashif Zuberi

Student of Knowledge

15 comments on “DNA as evidence for Intelligence behind the origin of Life

  1. Only a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding layout. “Treat the other man’s faith gently it is all he has to believe with.” by Athenus.

  2. 1) Pardon me for the crass reply that i’m about to give, but sometimes to disabuse people from the cloak of obfuscation woven by charlatans, an ad-hominem reply becomes inevitable. The author says, “However, although not all scientists agree that the Darwinian Theory of Evolution can account for all complexity of life, a more fundamental point to be noted is that the theory does not account for the Origin of Life in the first place” well, nothing could be farther from the truth, Scientist all over the world concur that there are irrefutable evidences in favor of Evolution, however some of them disagree over how Evolution might have occurred. Darwin proposed that Evolution via Natural Selection is the most probable explanation for how Evolution might have occurred, but it has been contested by some scientists. So, they might have a difference of opinion over the means but they agree about the ends. So, this is a myth which has been perpetuated by the creationists to be used as first line of defense against “Evolution” whose specter they find difficult to bury.

    2) The authority with which the author expounds on DNA and Astrophysics(in another article) make me believe that the author must have a PhD in the vast and diverse aforementioned respective fields : a colossus academic achievement even for Gods, and a cosmic impossibility for mortals like us! But, unsurprisingly this is a commonly observed trait in all charlatans. This is how it works a) Gather some information from emerging field of science b) Present these information to the gullible audience and cite known authors to acquire the stamp of legitimacy c) Now superimpose your half-baked understanding to contort the original postulates d) Use convoluted logic(which by the way has nothing to do with Science) to distort it beyond recognition e) The unintelligible thing arrived at is now presented to the gullible audience, which accepts it in the awe of ignorance. Purpose achieved!

    3) Critique of the Article:

    “Till date no theory of undirected chemical evolution has explained the origin of the digital information needed to build the first living cell. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by chance alone. And the information in DNA has also been shown to defy explanation by reference to the laws of chemistry. Saying otherwise would be like saying that a newspaper headline might arise as the result of the chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly “something else” is at work.”

    In my defense of the above excerpts from the article i’m going to quote an English Biologist Richard Dawkins, He says that, “Searching for particular examples of irreducible complexity is a fundamentally unscientific way to produce: a special case of arguing from present ignorance. It appeals to the same faulty logic as ‘the God of the Gaps’ strategy condemned by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Creationists seek a gap in present day knowledge or understanding. If an apparent gap is found, it is assumed that God, by default, must fill it. What worries such thoughtful theologians is the fact that gaps shrink as science advances, God is threatened with eventually having noting to do and nowhere to hide.”

    So, i believe that our ignorance about, “How does that shape arise?” or “How does the information arise?” is NO validation of existence of God, rather it’s a humble admission of our ignorance. While Scientists are unraveling the mystery about the questions raised by you, you may continue with you “pretentious obscurantism”(Another Dawkins’ phrase). Thank You and Good Bye.

  3. Aww my comment is still waiting for moderation? Tells a lot.

  4. And patience? I have waited millions of years to transform from a eukariyotic cell into a collection of 50 trillion working cells, and i’ sure i can wait some more to find out the real truth!

  5. Don’t you approve comments chronologically? Like my first comment waits moderation, while second has been approved! And why is there a need for censorship when we are having a civilized discourse which will never degenerate into name-calling.

  6. I take a humble pride in conceding that Darwin was skeptical about his own theory, if at all that is an indication, then it reflects that how under the lack of many empirical evidences because of gaps in fossils, Darwin grew suspicious about his own postulates. Fortuitously, we’ve come a long way and are privy to many fossils(many not all, yes, there are gaps still) to have irrefutable evidences in favour of Evolution. Allusion to your book which expounds on the doubts of Darwin, here is a more recently published book saying that Why the doubts of Darwin were misplaced, and Why there are indubitable evidences for Evolution. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne/dp/0199230846?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233274750&sr=8-1
    So ubiquitous is the phenomenon of “Natural Selection” that it can explain even why religion despite having obvious flaws has continued in the society as a “By Product”

    2) Oh come on! If I quote an entire excerpts, it’s not knit-picking. Knit-Picking is when you use the quote, “Saying otherwise would be like saying that a newspaper headline might arise as the result of the chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly “something else” is at work.” without giving due credits http://evolutionfacts.blogspot.in/
    And again when you say that something “else is at work”, and then go on to explain that “Therefore using the scientific methodology of inference to best explanation, we conclude that an Intelligent Being created the life on earth”. One wonders that assiduously you’ve taken the pain of writing down the whole article but you’re dithering at the prospect of explaining your “Scientific Methodology Of Inference”. Why? Or is it just that an assumption that in case the ambit of Science fails to explain a theory , a manufactured theory espousing the idea of God is taken as granted? Yes, precisely that. In the absence of right theory, it’s perfectly okay to say, “We don’t it yet”, rather suggesting an implausible explanation which is found in fiction novels.
    And regarding “Intelligent Design”, Are we still debating this? This argument has been dissected and put to an end. I reiterate that an intelligent creator will have to face the wrath of “irreducible complexity”. To quote an author, “The designer himself raises the bigger problem of his own origin. Any entity capable of intelligently designing something as improbable as a Dutchman’s pipe. Far from terminating the vicious regress, God aggravates it with a vengeance”. There are many books for the curious including the ‘Selfish-Gene” by Richard Dawkins.

    • 1. This is what happens when you comment only based on the title of the book, without actually taking time to look at the content itself. The book not only mentions Darwin’s Doubt, it goes on further to describe what has become of it.

      The main argument of the book is to account for the origin of new genetic and epigenetic information. No one denies that natural selection is an actual scientific phenomenon. The question, can it account for the origin of Cambrian animals from pre-cambrian life.

      2. OK, let me explain. While theories of chemical evolution and chance have failed to account for the origin of complex information, we do KNOW of a cause, from our day to day experience as well as experimental evidence, that Intelligence has the capability to produce the effect in question, which is the origin of complex information. Therefore, using the scientific methodology of inference to best explanation, we conclude that an Intelligent Being created the life on earth.

      As for the question of ‘who designed the designer?’ Read here https://rationalthinkerscafe.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/who-created-god/

  7. Hello, i never claimed to read the entire book, and i acknowledge my ignorance regarding this book and in fact the whole Subject as a whole. But something tells me that you haven’t read the book, the one which i was referring to, either. Now this debate is getting sterile, you’re rehashing the same argument time and again. As i’ve said your arguments simple that since there is an absence of credible theory that could explain the origin of complex information, it validates the theory of existence of an intelligent design(Gap-Theory). When you say that, “, we do KNOW of a cause, from our day to day experience” this is science is known as prejudice or dogma which eventually mutates into bigotry. Then you go on to add, “As well as Experimental Evidence”, a feeble attempt to account for the irrational unsubstantiated comment made in the earlier part of sentence.

    For the last time even if there is a complex information not accounted for, then “Intelligent Design” is the worst possible explanation. To borrow a cliche, “The cure is worse than the disease”. For the last time let me say that the solution of Intelligent Design exacerbates the problem rather than alleviating it. It suffers from the same objection as chance. It’s simply not a plausible solution to the riddle of statistic probability. And higher the improbability, the more implausible Intelligent Design becomes. Then the question runs into an infinite regression that who created a species so complex? Let me say for the last time that “DESIGN IS NOT THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE TO CHANCE”! In fact none of them are the solution to the problem arising from statistical improbability, one is the problem itself while other regresses it. Creationists who attempt to deploy the argument from improbability in their favour always ASSUME that biological adaptation is a question of Jackpot or Nothing fallacy is “Irreducible Complexity”. Either the eyes see it or don’t. Either the wing flies or don’t. There are assumed to be no useful intermediates. But this is simply wrong. Such intermediates are abound in practice- which is exactl what we should expect in theory!

    So Intelligent Design:- The cure is worse than the disease.

    And regarding your link to, “Who created the creator”, quite frankly that simplistic argument at best is puerile! You presume too much about what atheists assume- They don’t “Assume”, they “Speculate” and don’t assume it’s true till there are evidences. We don’t say that how it all started, we say right now as things stand, “We don’t know how Physics can explain that what predates big bang?”, yes, but we are constantly going forward. Having said that i reiterate that, “Intelligent Design” is the worst possible explanation, because it’s NOT an explanation but a problem of regress.

    Finally, One of the worst things that you can do with Science is that you can endorse or criticize a theory based on its superficial understanding! Do some knit-picking and write some mumbo-jumbo! There is a reason we have distinct branches of Genetics and Astrophysics!

    • First of all ID is not a god of the gaps theory. Let me explain the difference between ID and the gaps theory.

      the god of the gaps argument ran as follows.
      1. There is complexity (like in thunder and rain).
      2. There is no known material cause.
      3. Therefore God must have done it.

      However my argument goes as follows.
      1. We see origin of complex specified Information.
      2. There is no known blind materialistic process that explains the origin of complex specified Information.
      3. However We do know of a Cause (Intelligence), from our observation of cause and effect and through experimental evidence, that explains the origin of complex specified Information.
      4. Therefore we conclude that Intelligence played a role in the origin of this information.

      Secondly there is no prejudice or dogma. Infact, we know from our observation of cause and effect that complex specified information, comes from Intelligence, weather it be computer programming, or the information in a book or on a news paper.

      Synthetic Biology is evidence of causal adequacy of Intelligence to originate complex specified information.

      Using the scientific methodology of inference to best explanation, we conclude that an Intelligence is responsible for origin of Biological Information. Claiming otherwise would require evidence.

      Thirdly, my argument here is not based on irreducible complexity argument of Micheal Behe. Rather it is on the origin of complex specified information.

      Fourthly, the point behind the ‘who created the creator’ was that ‘from nothing; nothing comes’. You have to start with something. Its either matter and/or energy or its God. Now if these two are the candidates, let us analyse the evidence at hand and analyse which of the two better explains this evidence at hand, which is of origin of complex specified information in the DNA.

  8. You’ve not disappointed me in your rehashing of the same argument over and over again. So here goes my last comment.

    ” There is no known blind materialistic process that explains the origin of complex specified Information. However We do know of a Cause (Intelligence), from our observation of cause and effect and through experimental evidence, that explains the origin of complex specified Information.Secondly there is no prejudice or dogma. Infact, we know from our observation of cause and effect that complex specified information, comes from Intelligence, weather it be computer programming, or the information in a book or on a news paper. ”

    Absolute Bunkum, INCORRECT

    First things first Analogies are not explanations. And the world is so vast and diverse that we can find a phenomenon to suit our analogy for every concievable explanation. In Science when we have found out how an event transpires, then we go on to find an analogy which makes it easier for masses to understand. Not the other way round, to find an analogy a phenomenon whose details are yet dicey and not yet know with precision.

    Juxtaposing your earlier statement with mine,

    “There are assumed to be no useful intermediates. But this is simply wrong. Such intermediates are abound in practice- which is exactl what we should expect in theory!”

    This is what happens

    “When you look at a complex sponge skeleton such as that made of silica spicules which is know as Venus Flower Basket, the imagination is baffled. HOw could a quasi-independent microsopic cells colloborate to secrete a million glssy splinter and construct a beautiful & intricate lattice. We don’t know”. But we can agree chance is not the likely designer. The statistical improbability of such an Euplectella’s skeleton is the central problem is any theory of life must solve. We evolve into complex species from simple one, it doesn’t go the other way round- the problem which Intelligent Design suffers from. So, yes we may not have a few answers now but the Solution of Intelligent Design regresses the problem instead of solving it.

    And For the last time one must have a panoramic view of subject before one could launch an informed critique. That’s why we have Universities.

    • The methodology that I am using to reach the conclusion is the same used by Darwin himself.

      Darwin, from his observations on the survey ship HMS Beagle, had noticed that each island supported its own form of finch which were closely related but differed in important ways. Thus he inferred the process of natural selection responsible for the change.

      Darwin had read Lyell’s ‘The Principles of Geology’, and employed his principle, which is summarized in the subtitle of the book ‘Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by Reference to Causes Now in Operation’. Lyell had argued in the book that when scientists seek to explain events in the past, they should not invoke some unknown type of cause, the effects of which we have not observed. Instead, they should cite causes that are known from our uniform experience to have the power to produce the effect in question.

      Darwin adopted this methodological principle as he sought to demonstrate that natural selection qualified as a true, known, or actual cause of significant biological change. He sought to show that natural selection was “causally adequate” to produce the effects he was trying to explain.

      Using the same methodology, we infer that Intelligence is responsible for the origin of complex specified information. From our observation we know that Intelligence is a ‘Cause Now in Operation’ that produces complex specified information. Therefore it is “causally adequate” and best explains the origin of complex biological information.

      Intelligence has been shown to exist over and over again, for example in the origin of life, and then in the cambrian explosion, etc. Its causal adequacy is shown and is used in Synthetic Biology and other fields as well.

      Saying that this is god-of-the-gaps argument is like saying Darwin used natural selection of the gaps argument. Its like saying that Darwin claimed a gap and filled it with natural selection, when there could have been other explanations. Because both the arguments are using the same methodology.

      There is no regress, as I have shown, that one would need to start with something that is eternal in the past. Its either an Intelligent Designer or matter and/or energy. The evidence from origin of life shows its an Intelligent Designer.

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