The Tiny Code That's
by Mario Seiglie
As scientists explore a new
universe—the universe inside the cell—
they are making startling
discoveries of information systems
more complex than anything ever
devised by humanity's best minds.
How did they get there, and what
does it mean for the theory of evolution?
Two great achievements occurred in
1953, more than half a century ago.
The first was the successful ascent of Mt. Everest, the highest
mountain in the world. Sir Edmund Hillary and his guide,
Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit that year, an
accomplishment that's still considered the ultimate feat for
mountain climbers. Since then, more than a thousand mountaineers
have made it to the top, and each year hundreds more attempt it.
Yet the second great achievement of 1953 has had a greater
impact on the world. Each year, many thousands join the ranks of
those participating in this accomplishment, hoping to ascend to
fame and fortune.
It was in 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick
achieved what appeared impossible—discovering the genetic
structure deep inside the nucleus of our cells. We call this
genetic material DNA, an abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid.
The discovery of the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule
opened the floodgates for scientists to examine the code
embedded within it. Now, more than half a century after the
initial discovery, the DNA code has been deciphered—although
many of its elements are still not well understood.
What has been found has profound implications regarding
Darwinian evolution, the
theory taught in schools all over the world that all living
beings have evolved by natural processes through mutation and
Amazing revelations about DNA
As scientists began to
decode the human DNA molecule, they found something quite
unexpected—an exquisite 'language' composed of some 3 billion
"One of the most extraordinary
discoveries of the twentieth century," says Dr. Stephen
Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at
the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash., "was that DNA
actually stores information—the detailed instructions for
assembling proteins—in the form of a four-character digital
(quoted by Lee Strobel, The
Case for a Creator, 2004, p. 224).
It is hard to fathom, but the amount
of information in human DNA is roughly equivalent to 12 sets
of The Encyclopaedia Britannica—an incredible 384 volumes"
worth of detailed information that would fill 48 feet of library
Yet in their actual size—which is only two millionths of a
millimeter thick—a teaspoon of DNA, according to molecular
biologist Michael Denton, could contain all the
information needed to build the proteins for all the species of
organisms that have ever lived on the earth, and,
"there would still be enough
room left for all the information in every book ever
(Evolution: A Theory in
Crisis, 1996, p. 334).
Who or what could miniaturize such
information and place this enormous number of 'letters' in their
proper sequence as a genetic instruction manual?
Could evolution have gradually come
up with a system like this?
DNA contains a genetic language
Let's first consider some
of the characteristics of this genetic 'language.' For it to be
rightly called a language, it must contain the following
elements: an alphabet or coding system, correct spelling,
grammar (a proper arrangement of the words), meaning (semantics)
and an intended purpose.
Scientists have found the genetic code has all of these key
"The coding regions of DNA,"
explains Dr. Stephen Meyer, "have exactly the same relevant
properties as a computer code or language"
(quoted by Strobel, p. 237,
emphasis in original).
The only other codes found to be
true languages are all of human origin. Although we do find that
"dogs bark when they perceive danger, bees dance to point other
bees to a source and whales emit sounds, to name a few examples
of other species" communication, none of these have the
composition of a language. They are only considered low-level
The only types of communication considered high-level are human
languages, artificial languages such as computer and Morse codes
and the genetic code. No other communication system has been
found to contain the basic characteristics of a language.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, commented that,
"DNA is like a software program,
only much more complex than anything we've ever devised."
Can you imagine something more
intricate than the most complex program running on a
supercomputer being devised by accident through
evolution—no matter how much time, how many mutations and how
much natural selection are taken into account?
DNA language not the same as DNA
Recent studies in
information theory have come up with some astounding
conclusions—namely, that information cannot be considered in the
same category as matter and energy. It's true that matter or
energy can carry information, but they are not the same as
For instance, a book such as Homer's Iliad contains information,
but is the physical book itself information? No, the materials
of the book—the paper, ink and glue contain the contents, but
they are only a means of transporting it.
If the information in the book was spoken aloud, written in
chalk or electronically reproduced in a computer, the
information does not suffer qualitatively from the means of
"In fact the content of the
message," says professor Phillip Johnson, "is independent of
the physical makeup of the medium"
(Defeating Darwinism by
Opening Minds, 1997, p. 71).
The same principle is found in the
genetic code. The DNA molecule carries the genetic language, but
the language itself is independent of its carrier. The same
genetic information can be written in a book, stored in a
compact disk or sent over the Internet, and yet the quality or
content of the message has not changed by changing the means of
As George Williams puts it:
"The gene is a package of
information, not an object. The pattern of base
pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA
molecule is the medium, it's not the message"
(quoted by Johnson, p. 70).
Information from an intelligent
In addition, this type of
high-level information has been found to originate only from an
As Lee Strobel explains:
"The data at the core of life is
not disorganized, it's not simply orderly like salt
crystals, but it's complex and specific information that can
accomplish a bewildering task—the building of biological
machines that far outstrip human technological capabilities"
For instance, the precision of this
genetic language is such that the average mistake that is not
caught turns out to be one error per 10 billion letters. If a
mistake occurs in one of the most significant parts of the code,
which is in the genes, it can cause a disease such as
sickle-cell anemia. Yet even the best and most intelligent
typist in the world couldn't come close to making only one
mistake per 10 billion letters—far from it.
So to believe that the genetic code gradually evolved in
Darwinian style would break all the known rules of how
matter, energy and the laws of nature work. In fact,
there has not been found in nature any example of one
information system inside the cell gradually evolving into
another functional information program.
Michael Behe, a biochemist and professor at
Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, explains that genetic
information is primarily an instruction manual and gives some
"Consider a step-by-step list of
[genetic] instructions. A mutation is a change in one of the
lines of instructions. So instead of saying, "Take a
1/4-inch nut," a mutation might say, "Take a 3/8-inch nut."
Or instead of "Place the round
peg in the round hole," we might get "Place the round peg in
the square hole"... What a mutation cannot do is change all
the instructions in one step—say, [providing instructions]
to build a fax machine instead of a radio"
(Darwin's Black Box, 1996, p.
We therefore have in the genetic
code an immensely complex instruction manual that has been
majestically designed by a more intelligent source than human
Even one of the discoverers of the genetic code, the agnostic
and recently deceased Francis Crick, after decades of
work on deciphering it, admitted that,
"an honest man, armed with all
the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in
some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be
almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would
have had to have been satisfied to get it going"
(Life Itself, 1981, p. 88,
Evolution fails to provide answers
It is good to remember
that, in spite of all the efforts of all the scientific
laboratories around the world working over many decades, they
have not been able to produce so much as a single human hair.
How much more difficult is it to
produce an entire body consisting of some 100 trillion cells!
Up to now,
Darwinian evolutionists could
try to counter their detractors with some possible explanations
for the complexity of life. But now they have to face the
information dilemma: How can meaningful, precise information be
created by accident—by mutation and natural selection? None of
these contain the mechanism of intelligence, a requirement for
creating complex information such as that found in the genetic
Darwinian evolution is still taught in most schools as though
it were fact.
But it is increasingly being found
wanting by a growing number of scientists.
"As recently as twenty-five
years ago," says former atheist Patrick Glynn, "a reasonable
person weighing the purely scientific evidence on the issue
would likely have come down on the side of skepticism
[regarding a Creator]. That is no longer the case."
He adds: "Today the concrete
data point strongly in the direction of the God
hypothesis. It is the simplest and most obvious solution..."
(God: The Evidence, 1997, pp.
Quality of genetic information the
Evolution tells us that
through chance mutations and natural selection, living things
evolve. Yet to evolve means to gradually change certain aspects
of some living thing until it becomes another type of creature,
and this can only be done by changing the genetic information.
So what do we find about the genetic code?
The same basic quality of
information exists in a humble bacteria or a plant as in a
person. A bacterium has a shorter genetic code, but
qualitatively it gives instructions as precisely and exquisitely
as that of a human being. We find the same prerequisites of a
language—alphabet, grammar and semantics—in simple bacteria and
algae as in man.
Each cell with genetic information, from bacteria to man,
according to molecular biologist Michael Denton, consists
"artificial languages and their
decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and
retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated
assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and
proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly
processes involving the principle of prefabrication and
modular construction... [and a] capacity not equaled in any
of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of
replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few
(Denton, p. 329)
So how could the genetic information
of bacteria gradually evolve into information for another type
of being, when only one or a few minor mistakes in the millions
of letters in that bacterium's DNA can kill it?
Again, evolutionists are uncharacteristically silent on
the subject. They don't even have a working hypothesis about it.
Lee Strobel writes:
"The six feet of DNA coiled
inside every one of our body's one hundred trillion cells
contains a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out
precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from
which our bodies are made... No hypothesis has come close to
explaining how information got into biological matter by
(Strobel, p. 282)
Werner Gitt, professor of
information systems, puts it succinctly:
"The basic flaw of all
evolutionary views is the origin of the information in
living beings. It has never been shown that a coding system
and semantic information could originate by itself [through
matter]... The information theorems predict that this will
never be possible. A purely material origin of life is thus
(Gitt, p. 124)
Besides all the evidence
we have covered for the intelligent design of DNA information,
there is still one amazing fact remaining—the ideal number of
genetic letters in the DNA code for storage and translation.
Moreover, the copying mechanism of DNA, to meet maximum
effectiveness, requires the number of letters in each word to be
an even number. Of all possible mathematical combinations, the
ideal number for storage and transcription has been calculated
to be four letters.
This is exactly what has been found in the genes of every living
thing on earth—a four-letter digital code.
As Werner Gitt states:
"The coding system used for
living beings is optimal from an engineering standpoint.
This fact strengthens the argument that it was a case of
purposeful design rather that a [lucky] chance"
(Gitt, p. 95)
Back in Darwin's day,
when his book On the Origin of Species was published in
1859, life appeared much simpler. Viewed through the primitive
microscopes of the day, the cell appeared to be but a simple
blob of jelly or uncomplicated protoplasm.
Now, almost 150 years later, that
view has changed dramatically as science has discovered a
virtual universe inside the cell.
"It was once expected," writes
Professor Behe, "that the basis of life would be exceedingly
simple. That expectation has been smashed. Vision, motion,
and other biological functions have proven to be no less
sophisticated than television cameras and automobiles.
Science has made enormous
progress in understanding how the chemistry of life works,
but the elegance and complexity of biological systems at the
molecular level have paralyzed science's attempt to explain
(Behe, p. x)
Dr. Meyer considers the recent
discoveries about DNA as the Achilles" heel of evolutionary
"Evolutionists are still trying
to apply Darwin's nineteenth-century thinking to a
twenty-first century reality, and it's not working... I
think the information revolution taking place in biology is
sounding the death knell for Darwinism and chemical
(quoted by Strobel, p. 243).
Dr. Meyer's conclusion?
"I believe that the testimony of
science supports theism. While there will always be points
of tension or unresolved conflict, the major developments in
science in the past five decades have been running in a
strongly theistic direction."
(ibid., p. 77)
Dean Kenyon, a biology
professor who repudiated his earlier book on Darwinian
evolution—mostly due to the discoveries of the information found
"This new realm of molecular
genetics (is) where we see the most compelling evidence of
design on the Earth."
(ibid., p. 221)
Just recently, one of the world's
most famous atheists, Professor Antony Flew, admitted he
couldn't explain how DNA was created and developed through
He now accepts the need for an
intelligent source to have been involved in the making of
the DNA code.
"What I think the DNA material
has done is show that intelligence must have been involved
in getting these extraordinary diverse elements together,"
(quoted by Richard Ostling,
"Leading Atheist Now Believes in God," Associated Press
report, Dec. 9, 2004)
"Fearfully and wonderfully made"
Although written thousands of
years ago, King David's words about our marvelous human
bodies still ring true.
"For You formed my inward parts,
You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I
am fearfully and wonderfully made... My frame was not hidden
from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully
(Psalm 139:13-15, emphasis
Where does all this leave
Michael Denton, an agnostic
"Ultimately the Darwinian theory
of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic
myth of the twentieth century."
(Denton, p. 358)
All of this has enormous
implications for our society and culture.
Professor Johnson makes this clear
when he states:
"Every history of the twentieth
century lists three thinkers as preeminent in influence:
Darwin, Marx and Freud. All three were regarded as
'scientific' (and hence far more reliable than anything
'religious') in their heyday.
"Yet Marx and Freud have fallen, and even their
dwindling bands of followers no longer claim that their
insights were based on any methodology remotely comparable
to that of experimental science. I am convinced that
Darwin is next on the block. His fall will be by far the
mightiest of the three."
(Johnson, p. 113)
Evolution has had its run for almost
150 years in the schools and universities and in the press.
But now, with the discovery of what
the DNA code is all about, the complexity of the cell, and the
fact that information is something vastly different from
matter and energy, evolution can no longer dodge the
The evidence certainly points to a
resounding checkmate for evolution!