Software of Life
Software of Life – Evidence for God’s Existence
The Software of Life, the blueprints for assembling the protein parts for cells and organs in correct timing and order, are encoded into our DNA. DNA is digital code, similar to binary computer code, although it is quaternary (having 4 letters instead of 2). The density of the information encoded into DNA staggers the imagination; there is enough information-storing space in a half-teaspoon of DNA to store all of the assembly instructions for every creature ever made, and room left over to include every book ever written!
The information content of a bacterium has been estimated to be around 10,000,000,000,000 bits of information comparable to a hundred million pages of Encyclopaedia Britannica.1 Even if the insurmountable problems with the structure of life’s “hardware” assembly mentioned in the last chapter were somehow abridged, another completely separate phenomenon is needed for this life to operate and reproduce—a DNA language!
Software of Life – DNA Code
The information stored in the Software of Life -- DNA -- is encoded by way of various arrangements of four molecules called nucleotides; adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. These molecules are arranged in chains bonded together into what is called a “double helix,” which looks like a ladder that has been twisted into a corkscrew shape. Just as with binary computer code, this seemingly simple structure can store vast amounts of information for the assembly of proteins throughout the organism. If all the DNA info in the one human body were printed in books, it would be enough to fill the Grand Canyon fifty times over! Moreover, the information would be nothing but gibberish, and would be worthless for constructing proteins unless there was an established language convention to which it conformed. This raises the question “who established the language convention?”
As mind-boggling as this seems so far, it gets even better. The instructions for creating the DNA Double Helix are encoded into proteins! This raises the question, “which came first; the DNA or the proteins?!”
We have seen clear evidence in the Hardware of Life that neither proteins nor DNA could be expected to arise spontaneously, but here we see that problem multiplied exponentially. If life arose by random chance, we would have to have: 1) amino acids assembling spontaneously, in the correct order, with the correct chirality (all “left-handed” molecules), to create 2) proteins arising spontaneously in the correct order, following a specific, very complex language convention to direct the assembly of DNA, 3) nucleic acids assembling spontaneously to create DNA simultaneously with the arisal of proteins, with the correct chirality (“right-handedness”), in the correct order, and following the same, very specific complex language convention in order to orchestrate the assembly of proteins!
One is tempted to ask the question “what came first, the chicken (proteins) or the egg (DNA)?”, but in this case, both phenomena would have to arise simultaneously and following the same language convention, or they would both be completely useless.
Software of Life – The Riddle of the Genetic Code
When examining the Software of Life, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Jacques Monod said: “The major problem is the origin of the genetic code and of its translation mechanism. Indeed, instead of a problem it ought rather to be called a riddle. The code is meaningless unless translated. The modern cell's translating machinery consists of at least fifty macromolecular components which are themselves coded in DNA: the code cannot be translated otherwise than by products of translation. It is the modern expression of omne vivum ex ovo [everything that lives, (comes) from an egg]. When and how did this circle become closed? It is exceedingly difficult to imagine."2
Monod is not the only Nobel-Prize winning scientist to cast doubt on a naturalistic explanation for life. Consider the words of Ilya Prigogine, a Chemist-Physicist and recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry: “The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.”3
Now keep in mind that the conditions mentioned above are necessary, but are not sufficient for the creation of life. There are many, many more challenges for the theory of spontaneous generation of life that we don’t have room to discuss here. Suffice it to say that it takes more faith to believe this could happen by chance than to believe in a transcendent Creator who has orchestrated it.
Software of Life – Powerful Argument for Design
Modern science continues to delve into the Software of Life, consistently revealing new, mindboggling features of the cellular world on a regular basis. The “nanotechnology” that we observe functioning at this incredibly tiny level is overshadowed only by the incredible complexity of the language and encoding which orchestrates it, and is built into it.
Arguably the most prominent atheist of the 20th century, Antony Flew (Professor of Philosophy, author, and debater) announced in 2004 that he had become convinced that there is no way these things could have evolved by chance, due to their stunning information content. As he put it, "It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design."4
Compliments of Steve J. Williams. Rendered with permission from the book, The Skeptics’ Guide to Eternal Bliss (2nd ed), Steve J. Williams, Lulu Press, 2009. All rights reserved in the original.
1Sagan, Carl, "Life" in Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia (1974 ed.), pp. 893-894.
2Monod, Jacques, “Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology", (1971), Transl. Wainhouse A., Penguin Books: London, 1997, reprint, pp.142-143. Emphasis in original.
3 I. Prigogine, N. Gregair, A. Babbyabtz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28
4 Flew, Anthony, Winter 2005 issue of Philosophia Christi (a publication of Biola University, in California).
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