Animation of ATP synthase, which alone confounds attempts of atheists to deny DNA complexity.
First, Matthew S (Australia) asks us to answer some questions from a poorly informed evolutionist, which allows CMI to explain the design of the DNA code. Then Patrick A, USA, tells us how a CMI article on life’s complexity was very useful.
Matthew S (Australia):
“On the first issue: changes simply to what information there is can create ‘new’ information. For example, let’s simplify: all genomes are eight binary digits long (I know, massive). Conveniently all eight-digit binary numbers can be represented as a number between 0 and 255 inclusive. So let’s say all life is somewhere between 128 and 255 (i.e. it has a genome of 1xxxxxxx). It’s possible for the first digit to ‘mutate’ to 0, causing a completely new set of information—numbers 0–127. There is so much information in DNA and it’s used in so many places in the body that growing a new limb can happen indeed as interpreting x2 as x3; OR it could be a new TYPE of limb generated because of a mutation to the ‘finger’ code that makes it look like ‘tentacle’—or possibly even something we don’t even have a name for.
On the question of first cause, it does need a base. The base for DNA is protein, and the base for protein is amino acids and the base for amino acids is nitrogen. [ctd…][ctd…] I’m not a biochemist but the formation of amino acids by lightning (or similar) from natural minerals has been shown; as has the formation of proteins from amino acids. Sure, nobody’s shown the formation of DNA from proteins in the lab, but that’s can be a matter of chance. All it takes is the right combination and sufficient energy. Early earth surely had the energy—lightning, high-pressure high-temperature lava flows etc—and evidently it had the right combination. The question is: why did that combination appear here?
The answer to that question is generally given as the anthropic principle. Nitrogen exists on probably every planet in the universe. There are hundreds of billions of these; and on all of them, there is energy. And on whichever of them has the right combination, so appears life, which may eventually grow to ask ‘why here?’ The answer is: ‘because it was likely to happen somewhere, and wherever it appears, that’s where we are, so that’s why we see it.’”
Glad you like our work. May I ask, what books of ours have you read? [Ed. note: he responded that he has By Design (among other things) but lent it to a friend before reading it.]
There is a lot of hand waving by this respondent.
An 8-bit genome is totally inadequate. So much information is needed for a self-replicating cell that even the simplest one has over half a megabyte (that’s over 500,000 x 8 bits) of information in its DNA—see How Simple Can Life Be? For an example, consider the energy source alone, ATP, made by the world s tiniest motor.
Leading atheist Richard Dawkins himself admits:
Just as the Britannica had intelligent writers to produce its information, so it is scientific to believe that the information in the living world likewise had an original Writer. Furthermore, the DNA information requires a complex decoding machine, the ribosome, but the instructions to build ribosomes are on the DNA. And decoding requires energy from ATP, built by ATP-synthase motors, built from instructions in the DNA decoded by ribosomes … “vicious circles” for any materialistic origin theory, as leading philosopher of science Karl Popper put it (see also Self-replicating enzymes? A critique of some current evolutionary origin-of-life models).
The non-Christian physicist Paul Davies points out:
The critic is clueless about biochemistry when he says “The base for DNA is protein”. DNA is made from nucleotides, not amino acids (which make up proteins). There are numerous chemical problems with the origin of life from non-living chemicals; see for example “Loopholes in the evolutionary theory of the origin of life: Summary”, or for something more advanced, see these evolutionary criticisms of the RNA-world hypothesis. My By Design book has a whole chapter on the origin of life, refuting all notions of chemical evolution.
Certainly there are gene switches that control the expression of other genes, called Hox genes. However, there is obviously more to the differences between different animals than just switches. Evolution requires some way of generating the new information that’s to be switched on or off. The information needed to build a fish fin is vastly different from that needed to build a leg or arm. By analogy, the same switch on an electric outlet/power socket can turn on a light or a laptop, but this hardly proves that a light evolved into a laptop!
Indeed, actual mutations in Hox genes have been shown to be harmful. Even in articles and TV programs touting Hox changes as proof of evolution, they could only come up with an extra functionless pair of wings on flies, or a functionless leg where the antenna should be (antennapedia). (See also Argument: Some mutations are beneficial from Refuting Evolution 2.
The anthropic principle is vacuous as stated. It’s like being the only survivor in your town of a deadly plague epidemic; someone asked you how you were the only survivor, and you reply, “Well, if I didn’t survive, I wouldn’t be here to talk about it.” That is not an explanation of anything.
The whole approach of the critic reminds me of an honest statement by the evolutionary science writer Gordy Slack in What neo-creationists get right: An evolutionist shares lessons he’s learned from the Intelligent Design camp [The Scientist, June 2008]
This was after he had admitted:
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.