Materialism cannot explain the origin of the genetic code. The probability that the necessary chemical reactions could occur through the unguided working of physical laws is too low. No one who has investigated the problem believes there is a satisfactory explanation of how life or the genetic code could arise through natural means.1
For the genetic code to work, there has to be a semiotic2 system to use DNA or RNA to represent the sequence of amino acids in each protein and there has to be a cybernetic3 system to produce the machinery that uses the genetic code to produce proteins. This requires:
- The development of the code whereby each possible triplet of nucleotides represents an amino acid.
- The determination of the sequence of amino acids for each protein that is to be produced.
- The creation of the specific genes (molecules of DNA or maybe RNA) that use the triplet code to specify the proteins.6
- The many tRNAs, one for each triplet, and the amino acids and enzymes that combine amino acids and tRNA.
All of this has to come into existence at the same time because:4
- The parts are not useful individually.
- But paradoxically, according to materialism these parts are the information and machinery that is needed to produce itself.
- Furthermore, the genetic code is finely tuned5 to reduce the effects of point mutations and there is no explanation as to how the genetic code could evolve from something simpler, something less finely tuned. Any change in the genetic code would be catastrophic because it would effect every gene. It would be like changing every letter "n" to the letter "p" in an entire book. It would create so many "misspellings" for an organism that it is impossible that it could survive.
- Evolving from a double code to a triplet code would require simultaneous changes in every codon in every gene and in all the tRNAs and the mechanism that moves the mRNA with respect to the ribosome during protein synthesis.7
- All these parts have to be produced in the correct numbers and arranged in a configuration where they will work together.
However, we know there is a phenomenon that can create semiotic and cybernetic systems that would otherwise have no chance of arising through natural processes. This phenomenon is intelligence. Therefore it is reasonable to suppose that the genetic code was created by an intelligence. This is not a "god of the gaps" argument. It is the same mode of logic, "like phenomena have like causes"8, whereby the measurement of gravity on earth leads to the conclusion that gravity causes the planets to orbit the sun. It is the same mode of logic used by many early naturalists, such as geologist Charles Lyell, to explain phenomena that occurred in the remote past by identifying causes known to be effective in the present time. Additionally, you don't need evidence of who the intelligence was to make this supposition. If a NASA space craft found machinery on Mars, we would not think that the machinery arose naturally just because there were no Martians around who could have made it. The existence of machinery that could not arise naturally is sufficient to conclude the existence of an intelligent maker.
However, the belief that naturalism can explain something that current science says is impossible is a "god of the gaps" argument. Our current understanding of chemistry and the conditions on the early earth says there is no good natural explanation for the origin of life and the genetic code.1 To disregard science and maintain faith in naturalism is a "god of the gaps" argument. To paraphrase the Nobel prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles: Promissory materialism is superstition.9
- Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life Cell Biology International (2004) 28, 729-739 - J.T. Trevors and D.L. Abel
- The ‘Cybernetic Cut’: Progressing from Description to Prescription in
Systems Theory David L. Abel The Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal, 2008, 2, 252-262
- The First Gene, Chapter 1, David Abel, Editor, What is ProtoBioCybernetics?
The First Gene, Chapter 4, David Abel, Editor, What Utility Does Order, Pattern or Complexity Prescribe?
- The First Gene, Chapter 6, David Abel, Editor, Linear Digital Material Symbol Systems (MSS)
- The Finely Tuned Genetic Code Evolution News and Views, Jonathan M. November 19, 2011
- Top Five Problems with Current Origin-of-Life Theories Evolution News and Views, Casey Luskin December 12, 2012
- What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? Evolution News and Views, Casey Luskin July 12, 2012
- ID Foundations, 17: Stephen C. Meyer’s summary of the positive inductive logic case for design as best explanation of the FSCO/I* in DNA Uncommon Descent, kairosfocus, April 4, 2013
- The “Wow! signal” of the terrestrial genetic code Vladimir I. shCherbak and Maxim A. Makukov,
6 What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? (See item number one at the link.)
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