DNA: The Tiny Code That's Toppling Evolution

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The Tiny Code That's Toppling Evolution

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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 natural selection.

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 genetic letters. "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 code" (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 shelves!

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 written" (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 elements. "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 communication signals.

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 molecule

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 information itself.

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 transporting it. "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 conveying it.

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 source

In addition, this type of high-level information has been found to originate only from an intelligent source.

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" (p. 244).

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 examples.

He writes: "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. 41).

We therefore have in the genetic code an immensely complex instruction manual that has been majestically designed by a more intelligent source than human beings.

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, emphasis added).

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 code.

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. 54-55, 53).

Quality of genetic information the same

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 of "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 equalled in any of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours" (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 naturalistic means" (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 [ruled out]" (Gitt, p. 124).

The clincher

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).

More witnesses

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 their origins" (Behe, p. x).

Dr. Meyer considers the recent discoveries about DNA as the Achilles" heel of evolutionary theory. He observes: "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 evolutionary theories" (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 in DNA—states: "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 evolution. 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," he said (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. He wrote: "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 wrought. . ." (Psalm 139:13-15, emphasis added).

Where does all this leave evolution? Michael Denton, an agnostic scientist, concludes: "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 ultimate outcome. The evidence certainly points to a resounding checkmate for evolution! GN


  • Johndolby

    A copying error rate of 1 in 10 billion is not good enough. If you think of how many times cells divide in your lifetime, it means dna polymerase will eventually give you cancer if you don't die from anything else. Human-made printer scanners NEVER make a mistake, so are you telling me your god is a worse builder than his own creations?

  • Paul Burch
    Hi Peter Clarke. If you are serious about investigating this topic can I suggest 'The Edge of Evolution' by Micheal Behe. Also a book by John Lennox, ''Has Science Buried God' which will really stretch your brain as he is a Professor at Oxford University. Also can I suggest that you ask God, whoever that is, to reveal himself to you. Jesus says, (if he is God) if you seek me you will find me. In order for the universe to begin from nothing, as proposed by latest theories, you have to have a personal force, that is a being doing the creating, as a force or theory cannot choose to create anything. This is something that only a person can do, which is why the Christain God is a personal God interested in each one of us and able to create and be involved in our lives. If you want to get a taste for how interested God is in you read the four Gospels keeping an eye out for how Jesus treats and views the outcasts, that is the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the sinners and those afflicted with illness as the Jews said such folk were under the judgement of God and that was why they were ill. God bless, Paul Burch, England
  • pbaylis
    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" "Word" here is "logos", the Greek word for the indwelling logic, or rational order of things. The Bible tells us where we get "information" from.
  • Michael89254
    We don't need anything to topple evolution; It has always done that itself. Atheist's know everything, you think they don't know this? They hate anything that offends the idea of evolution cause that only leaves God and Creation. And if God is real then they have to deal with him and they aren't strong enough to do that. Now, I have made some friends that are atheist and they can be very nice. But most of them are just plain crazy and I am not a fan of that type of atheist. We still need to try to love those who claim to be "atheist." These people need love like you would not believe.
  • AceJames
    What I can not grasp, is why there is an argument that evolution must be the answer or a creator must be the answer. Could not the creator, create evolution of the machine just as our manmade machines are evolving? DNA clearly has a role in evolution, what some are calling mistakes in the genetic code as proof that the code is imperfect and thus not divine makes little sense. As it is clear that genetic mistakes are clearly a cause of evolution itself, as an example an unusually hairy individual as produced by a mutation would clearly have an advantage in a climate that is cooling, thus a genetic mistake could just as easily be part of a superior language that is programmed for success of life in general, but not the individual. This extra hair on an individual might also make the individual migrate to a cooler climate in order to be comfortable, and if multiple random hairy individuals do such, and breed, now a new subpopulation has been created and evolution is clear and clearly the result of DNA itself. Did Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Edison have any idea that their electric creations were electrically created by electric charges flying between neurons in their own minds???
  • davedave
    Blueingreen..everything become imperfect when man falls into sin..thats the reason why the perfect becomes imperfect..its because of sin brother.
  • BlueInGreen
    Such an argument from ignorance or god of the gaps. Because science hasn't figured out an answer, people decide to make stuff up. DNA and molecular biology have given Evolution evidence that is far, far superior to fossils. Your assertion is completely false, biased and plain childish. Your entire article can be rendered false by one admission you made: "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." The fact that mistakes do occur immediately rules out any divinely guiding hand that does nothing but perfect work. How you guys can not see the contradictory here is beyond me.
  • Gorfian
    Mr. Dixon "If you honestly think DNA is toppling evolution, then you either haven't critically studied the topic within the science community, or you are just choosing to stick your head in the sand. DNA has not only reinforced evolution, but it has reinforced it in such a way that has made it indisputable to the unbiased mind." One example please. Just one. You'd be the first. ALSO: "I find that most people who use intuitive cognition, well to be fair, most people in general use what is known as confirmation bias. That is seeking out only information that confirms their stance on any given issue, as well as surrounds themselves with people that hold their same views. This article and forum, if it seeks to appear credible and unbiased, should walk away from such practices. Most of the scientific community would laugh you out of the lab, if you tried to present this article for scholarly review. At least any credible scientific community, and not a pseudo-science based community." A) "pseudo-science based community" I'd be careful coming from evolution using this charge. B) "Most of the scientific community would laugh you out of the lab" Sounds like a clique mentality.
  • Malachi 3_16-18
    Hi billhurley, Yes, I believe DNA was designed by the highest power, God. This is partly because of, as Peter Clark wrote, the “immense complexity & intelligence” behind it. Could the same Being have designed evolution as it’s generally presented? Well, why would He need to? He created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph 3:9; Jn 1:1-3). So there were two Beings involved. When God created life, His work was complete physically (Gen 2:1-3). He set in motion the ability for it to reproduce “according to its kind”, so no need for massive species change from simple to more complex over millions of yrs, as evolution teaches. You indicated you aren’t a Christian but recognize the need for an intelligent Designer behind life (Rom 1:20). If you’re open-minded, you’ll research the different sides (Acts 17:11). Creation’s complexity is just one proof of God’s existence. The biggest one for me is His working in my life, answering prayers & guiding my decisions if I yield to Him. Fulfilled prophecies, the accuracy of the Bible, & the archaeological record are additional proofs. Here’s some more info: ucg.org/booklet/creation-or-evolution-does-it-really-matter-what-you-believe
  • billhurley
    Like Bill Dixon, I just joined to comment. Like Peter Clark, I have exactly the same experiences/opinions. To put it simply, why can't DNA (and therefore evolution too) be designed by a higher power (like God)? I really don't understand the problem unless others are taking the Bible exactly literally (which I doubt is done that often).
  • Johnson64
    whether DNA or other complex designs seem to point to an intelligent designer; Many creationists call God, equally as many Evolutionists credit the evolutionary process. We can debate until the cows come home,, neither can prove there case, because none of us were there in the beginning. Based on the fossil evidence, or the lack thereof, I might agree with the idea that Evolution is a belief and not a science, just like religion is a belief and not a science, However evolutionists after spouting the theory for 150 yrs approx can't give a positive answer as to how life began. But those who trust the Bible as Gods word can. Both sides need faith. but both can't be right.
  • Johnson64
    Mario.. You say the DNA information is independent from DNA molecule I'm wondering How can human DNA information exist without Human DNA molecule? I mean you can't use pig DNA molecule to transport human DNA information;; or can you? My guess is they're inseparable, DNA M... is not like a flash drive, HDD, CD, where you can put information on or off. Evolution, or God, neither is more provable than the other It's a matter of faith none of us was there in the beginning My faith gives confidence to say that God is the creator of everything.
  • billyjack85
    @ BillDixon. To be fair, I think the 'confirmation bias' thing applies to all of us... And atheists are every bit as determined to not have their "side" disproven as theists. As far as the article goes, I remember watching a program on the ScienceChannel where, apparently, it had been proven that their was complex structure in some animal language. I believe a mathematical ratio had been found in analyzing the communicative 'clicks' of dolphins. They were looking for a baseline to judge what might constitute "alien" communications, and they found a universal formula to identify if a language is intelligent/ transmitting information. I don't know what that does to the DNA/ Evolution debate, I just thought I'd update the article.
  • Peter Clark
    Hi, Message to Bill Dixon. I'm not a Christian & have no affiliation with the UCG. Just joined this site to ask you a question. I'm very interested in the nature of reality, cosmology, & how the universe came into being. In high school, the logic of evolution made complete sense to me. I've studied science & have done some reading, but have not followed the current discussions of DNA theory. I was searching on the origins of DNA when I found this site. I'm struck by the immense complexity & intelligence behind the DNA molecule. It seems impossible to me that it is a random creation. I do not feel that an "intelligent designer" exists as a single entity, but I feel strongly that there is an intelligent conscious force that is within all that is & also in some way beyond every "thing." This intelligent force acts through us - not just humans, but all immanent instances - perhaps even non-physical entities (who are not omnipresent or omnipotent in any way like the Christian "God"). Anyway, I don't really know where to look online to read about how "DNA has not only reinforced evolution, but it has reinforced it in such a way that has made it indisputable..." Please list a source. thx
  • KARS
    Hello everyone, The bible states that at the endtime knowledge would increase. "But you Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall ingrease." Daniel 12:4 NKJV Because of the ingrease in knowledge we all have the ability to see into the genious mind of God our Father. Deny it you may; but His proof of existance is all around us. We have been given the opportunity to "Go where no man has gone before." The men of the O.T. (King David is mentioned above) only had their eyes to see and meditate on God our Father's creations. What a blessing to be living during this time of info explosion; so to speak. To to image; the Railroad, telegraph, Ben Franklin's key on a kite string, Edison, Bell, etc, could only dream of every seeing what we can see. NOVA had a show about the earth from space and what it does. Awesome. What God has shown us over the years only makes me more excited to meet His Only Begotten Son one day. I have no doubt we have lots of questions to ask Him. What a awesome time that will be. Childhood dreams and unanswered questions answered by His will. So fuss all your want, our God will triumph.
  • Bill Dixon
    I find that most people who use intuitive cognition, well to be fair, most people in general use what is known as confirmation bias. That is seeking out only information that confirms their stance on any given issue, as well as surrounds themselves with people that hold their same views. This article and forum, if it seeks to appear credible and unbiased, should walk away from such practices. Most of the scientific community would laugh you out of the lab, if you tried to present this article for scholarly review. At least any credible scientific community, and not a pseudo-science based community.
  • Bill Dixon
    If you honestly think DNA is toppling evolution, then you either haven't critically studied the topic within the science community, or you are just choosing to stick your head in the sand. DNA has not only reinforced evolution, but it has reinforced it in such a way that has made it indisputable to the unbiased mind.
  • graced
    thank you mr. seigli for this article. i have always enjoyed your articles delving in science and have been so blessed for having found them not only very informative but so easy to read. bless you for providing a wonderful support to the apologetics in our website.
  • jackpol
    It has been found that DNA consists of a four bit digital code. Such code cannot possibly be changed in a gradual manner as envisioned by Darwin. To alter batches of code would require either extreme outside intelligence, and even more so, to implant automatic rules (which appears to be the case) that would permit variations without damage. It is a marvel that this code combines both data and computer program, and is replicated in every cell in the human body. Is evolution being taught at the same primitive level of the famous Scopes trial in 1917? If so, there should be a concerted effort to include the latest findings which have a scientific basis. Darwin himself would be astonished to learn of all this.
    Great article and material. I think our offspring are learning about God indirectly in school in all science classes. Just can't hide the amazing designs of Creation. Thanks
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