A Look at the Biological Information Theory Argument

At some stage of our life, most of us have purchased a computer at a store or online. Far be it for anyone to say they could survive without their laptop! Computers, like most purchases come with a set of instructions. If we don’t follow the written instructions properly, most likely the computer won’t perform its job properly. Thus, the computer has a specific job: perform calculations, store information, retrieve data and process information. The programmed data from the computer programmer tells the computer how to fulfill its purpose. If we take this basic illustration and apply it to your DNA, there are around 2.5 billion cells in one of your hands, but they are tiny. Each cell has a specific job, just like humans do. Our cells are also told what to do, but not by a person or a computer! Our cells are told what to do by a very special molecule called DNA (i.e., deoxyribonucleic acid) which is found in the nucleus of the cell.

Therefore, just like the programmer wrote the instructions for the computer and programmed the computer what to do, DNA are the instructions, or blueprints for the human cell. Note that before the instructions were written for the computer, the information first originated in the mind of the programmer. The same analogy can be used for DNA. Concerning biological information, DNA has only four letters: A, C, G, and T.

A living cell needs not just any DNA, but DNA that encodes functional proteins. To be functional, a protein must have a very specific sequence. Francis Crick wrote in 1958: “For any particular protein the amino acids must be joined up in the right order.” (1) Just as the information for the instructions for a computer originated in the mind, of an intelligent programmer, the information in the DNA had to originate from an intelligence as well. As Stephen Meyer notes:

The information contained in an English sentence or computer software does not derive from the chemistry of the ink or the physics of magnetism, but from a source extrinsic to physics and chemistry altogether. Indeed, in both cases, the message transcends the properties of the medium. The information in DNA also transcends the properties of its material medium.” And like the information in a sentence or a computer program, the information in DNA points to intelligence, because intelligent agency is “the only cause known to be capable of creating an information-rich system, including the coding regions of DNA, functional proteins, and the cell as a whole. (2)

A common objection from those that espouse a naturalistic evolutionary framework is that mutation and natural selection could produce the genetic information necessary to produce the first life. In response, mutation and natural selection can happen only to organisms that already have genetic information. If there’s nothing to mutate, there is no mutation and natural selection going on. Let’s summarize:

P1. DNA contains useful information (to place amino acids in the proper order to make functional proteins).

P2. Useful information habitually arises from an intelligent cause.

(C) Therefore, an intelligent cause is a valid explanation for the useful information contained in DNA. (3)

For more on this argument see the following resources:

Mysterious Epigenome, The by [Woodward, Thomas E., Gills, James P.]

 

Sources:

  1. Francis Crick, “On Protein Synthesis,” Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology 12 (1958): 138–63.
  2. C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification, and Explanation,” 223–85. John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (editors), Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2003); See Thomas E. Woodward and James P. Gills, The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA (Grand Rapids: Kregal, 2012).
  3. Steven R. Hemler,  The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator (Charlotte: Saint Benedict Press. 2015), Kindle Version, 1204 of 2100.

 

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