DNA: Evolution's Predicament

DNA: Evolution's Predicament

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PODCAST Introduction: What is a software engineer?

This is someone who is engaged in computer software development and applies engineering principles to software creation.  They apply these engineering principles to every stage of the development process, from requirement analysis to the software process, and create customized systems for individual clients.  Just as a civil engineer will make sure that a bridge has a solid foundation, a software engineer will also begin with a thorough study of requirements and work through the development process in a very systematic way.

Now what does this have to do with DNA?…stay with me for a minute…

Programming the Design

What does a software engineer do?

He applies mathematical analysis and the principles of computer science in order to design and develop software.  When working with a client, a software engineer will typically analyze the clients needs, than design, test, and develop computer software in order to meet those needs.  They are experts in computing systems, software structure, and recognize the limitations of the existing hardware.  The process is complicated and intricate, therefore the use of diagrams, flowcharts and the creation of algorithms to tell the computer what to do are created.  Converting these instructions into a computer language (coding or programming) is usually the responsibility of the computer programmer.

Again….what does this have to do with DNA?….you will soon find out because the information in your body’s cells indicates that there is a programmer and a designer behind the make up of who you are 

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DNA > otherwise known as Deoxyribonucleic acid….now here is a sexy topic for you

Before your interest wanes and you think “Why should I care about DNA”?…..let me indulge you in with a few biology jokes to ease the transition for you…shall we? <Best heard with laugh tracks on Podcast 😉>

  • How Does Juliet Maintain A Constant Body Temperature?

Romeostasis 

  • What Washes Up On Beaches?

Nucleotides

  • Why Are Men Sexier Than Women?

You can’t spell sexy without xy.

Now that you have been offered a glimpse into the humorous side of some biology scientists, clearly you can see they are very comfortable in their own cells.  Oh that really was bad….jus trying to relate 😉

In all seriousness, let me introduce you to some of biology’s pioneers regarding the discovery of DNA.

Francis Crick was a British molecular biologist, biophysicist & neuroscientist, most noted for being a co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 with James Watson.  Their work was based partly on fundamental studies done by Rosalind Franklin, Raymond Gosling and Maurice Wilkins.  Franklin produced an x-ray photograph that allowed Crick and Watson to work out the 3D structure of DNA.  The DNA structure model is what every biology class displays and is otherwise known as the infamous double Helix indicated here

Together with Watson and Wilkins, he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living materials

Information Transfer

remember these 2 simple but important words, they will be coming up again with some very significant meaning.

Now that you have a little background information on some of the early key players, let’s look at what exactly DNA is and the unique role these molecules have in the individuality and uniqueness of every human being; both inside the womb and post delivery.

DNA is a carrier of genetic information in the form of a 4 character digital code, that is to say that DNA functions like a software program, only far more complex than anyone has ever created or devised.

How the code works:

The instructions or code is divided into 3 distinct categories

  1. The double helix is made up of 4 bases, representing 4 chemicals that scientists refer to as A, C, T & G.  Here is the chemical breakdown of their names: A (Adenine) /C (Cytosine) /T (Thymine) /G (Guanine).  The information or code is stored in a pre-programmed explicit arrangement of these of these 4 chemicals, which in turn provide the instructions necessary to assemble complex protein molecules.  Sequences of these chemicals provide the instructions necessary to assemble complex protein molecules that in turn help form structures diverse as eyes, legs, wings and hearts.
  2. These protein molecules are comprised of smaller chemical units called amino acids that are linked together in long chains.  In nature 20 different types of amino acids are used to construct protein chains.  Scientists compare these to the alphabet, in that they need to be put together in a meaningful sequential manner much like letters need to be combined correctly in order to form words and sentences. They are arranged like letters to form chains, often hundreds of units long.  If the amino acids are combined properly, than this will form a functioning proteins.
  3. There are at least 30,000 different types of protein, each made up of a different combination of proteins.  All proteins in the cell have a certain 3 dimensional pattern after the amino acids have collapsed and formed to each other to accomplish their requirements.  Science has discovered that even simple cells are made up of thousands of different types of proteins and the function of these cells are derived from their highly complex 3 dimensional shape.  If the amino acids are combined properly, this will form a functioning protein.   Should the amino acids not form correctly to each other as per the coded instructions, they will be destroyed in the cell.

Stay with me now….I mentioned earlier that DNA functions like a software program, only leaps and bounds above the most highly complex computers and machines in the world today.  The DNA molecule is often referred to as the “Language of Life”  Why?…Because this is the most densely packed and elaborately detailed assembly of information in the known universe.  Remember information transfer?

For a biological system to operate, it needs genetic information to build the proteins in protein machines, which in turn cause the cells to maintain their function.  For EVERY CELL IN THE BODY, the information is contingent on the selection and arrangements or patterns of 4 DNA chemicals, 20 different types of amino acids and 30,000 different types of proteins.  We now know a full compliment of human DNA has more than 3 billion DNA sequences.  This entire sequence is called a genome.

Now get ready for some really staggering numbers and comparisons.

  • Our entire DNA sequence or a human genome would fill TWO HUNDRED, ONE THOUSAND PAGE NYC telephone directories
  • One complete 3 billion base human genome would take 3GB of storage space.
  • If you unwrap all of the DNA you have in your cells you could fill enough books to fill the grand canyon 78 times.
  • If you could line up all of your DNA end to end it would reach to the sun and back over SIX HUNDRED TIMES

*Clearly the best of all of Silicon Valley combined represents a mere spec in the wind in comparison to the complexity of design in your body

Did I mention design?….keep this in mind:

It is simply a fact that life cannot exist without proteins, proteins are essential to every cells function and existence, however proteins require DNA to be formed.  This is because proteins are chains of specifically sequenced amino acids.  Amino acids must line up in the precise sequence for a protein to form.  The precise sequence of amino acids which is essential to protein formation is self determined by the precise arrangement of the bases in the DNA molecule.

To re-itterate: this means the precise arrangement of the bases in the DNA molecule constitutes the code for the precise arrangement of amino acids in a chain.  And the precise arrangement of amino acids in a chain is itself necessary for protein formation.

Therefor to put it simply, to have life you must have DNA, a protein cannot form without it.  Yet DNA by itself is totally useless, it can’t do anything, go anywhere or perform any productive function on its own.  Think about this: If we began with DNA without proteins you can never get to DNA or life because DNA needs already existing proteins to even function or form proteins.  And yet you could not start with proteins void of DNA because proteins can only be formed from the instructions and information in DNA

DNA is the most fundamental question facing biology today

“Where did the information in DNA come from”? How did it arise in the first place?

An explanation for the origin of the genetic instructions needed to build the first life in essence is the Holy Grail of 21st century biology

Theories proposing that this information arose through natural selection acting upon non-living molecules or the self -organizing power of chemicals in a primordial soup have repeatedly failed.

Even time and blind chance, the often evoked saviors of implausible biological scenarios have fallen far short as a possible means of accounts for the instructions in DNA. 

Scientists have accepted a convention that excludes design as a scientific explanation and that convention has a name: “Methodological Naturalism” which means if you are going to be scientific you can only limit yourself to explanations that only involve natural causes and not intelligence. How can one intellectually and rationally justify this when we recognize things that were created with the use of intelligence (i.e. ancient hieroglyphics, etc.).

OK, let’s go one step further: But how do recognize the use of intelligence? What is the fundamental criteria for human beings to recognize intelligence?

I recently read a fascinating book called “The Design Inference” by mathematician William Dembski

A mathematician’s practical approach to natural human conclusions….

He identified the specific features of artifacts that cause people to recognize prior intelligent activity.  How do we reason about design?  What are the logical moves that we have to come through to conclude that there is design in something?  He concluded that you need improbability or small probability and specification.  When we come across an improbable object with a recognizable pattern, we recognize intelligence (i.e., Mt Rushmore).

Understanding these parameters, the first questions are obviously what are the improbable factors concerning DNA?…and what are the specifications?…Answer: the improbable is the language code and the specifications are the enormous streams of coherent information that produces consistent results in every form of life since time began.  I would suggest this is a very impressive track history.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Another brilliant and very interesting scientist offers the following on “Intelligent Design”

“According to mainstream media the theory of intelligent design is a faith based idea and in saying that they want to dismiss it as something that has no basis in science. But the media has confused a fundamental issue.  They are confusing the evidence for the theory with the implications of the theory.  That’s a huge difference.

The theory of intelligent design may well have implications that are supportive of theistic belief but the theory is not based on theistic belief.  Its based on the discovery digital code in cells, miniature machines in cells, fine tuning the laws of physics and chemistry and standard ways of scientific reasoning about the remote past in the history of life”

Dr Stephen Meyer, Philosopher of science with a PHD from Cambridge University

In closing, knowing there are codes and languages uniquely written that are inter-dependent on building blocks within our cells that cannot be accounted for within a natural, scientific explanation: is it therefore not more than safe to say there is a God and He just may know us far better than we can ever imagine?

Let me close with 3 elementary quotes

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ (Structure) existed which could not have possibly been formed by numerous, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.  

Charles Darwin

On the Origin of the Species

“The God of the Bible is also the God of the Genome.  He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory.  His creation is majestic, intricate and beautiful”

“Where does the sense of right and wrong come from?”

Both quotes from Dr Francis Collins

M.D., P.H.D. – Geneticist

Director of the National Health Institute / former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

*Their words….not mine

As always, just my opinion….

My name is Mark Russak and thank you for joining The Russak Outlook”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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