A friend at church told me that in spite of being taught cellular biology by an outspoken critic of faith, that course had inspired her to establish a deeper, personal relationship with God. A course in cell biology can overwhelm a student as the intricate and animated biochemical world is presented. Many who are devoted to a purely naturalistic explanation struggle to account for the existence and function of the coded information in all life. Others just brush aside the whole problem with a swift stroke of the pen. I am persuaded that a faith response, like that of my friend, should be a normal consequence of a person being exposed to the awesome machinery of life.

The existence of information in code form demands the arrival of that code. Generally, we would think of it as a significant invention. Morse code, any language, and the computer binary system are examples of intelligent code systems that we have used to distribute information. DNA stands out as an efficient, four-character code system. Suppositions concerning its origin arise from the fact that it exists. One might imagine that its existence would demand either an origin by chance or by intentional design. However, many who deny any purpose in life carefully attempt to rid themselves of dependence on chance.

They claim that something else is at work that explains not only the existence of the DNA code but also its extensive complexity in the entire biosphere. The statistical probability against the origin of meaningful coded information demonstrates that chance does not explain our suddenly small universe. In other words, there simply is not enough material in the universe to give chance processes a reasonable shot at happening to produce even a quite small code.

Literature from those who posture in favor of creation abounds with examples of the tremendous odds against chance producing a meaningful code. For instance, the estimated number of elementary particles in the universe is 1080. The most rapid events occur at an amazing 1045 per second. Thirty billion years contains only 1018 seconds. By totaling those, we find that the maximum elementary particle events in 30 billion years could only be 10143. Yet, the simplest known free-living organism, Mycoplasma genitalium, has 470 genes that code for 470 proteins that average 347 amino acids in length. The odds against just one specified protein of that length are 1:10451.

Even comments from naturalistic scientists demonstrate the uselessness of chance. French zoologist, Pierre Grasse wrote, “The probability of dust carried by wind reproducing Durer’s Melancholia (a detailed copper engraving by the German artist) is less infinitesimal than the probability of copy errors in the DNA molecule leading to the formation of the eye … .” Astrophysicist, Fred Hoyle made a quite famous statement about the probability of a whirlwind assembling a 747. Robert Shapiro, in a 2007 Scientific American, wrote, “The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence.” In this analogy, Shapiro pointed out that even if scientists in their lab demonstrated the possibility of an event, it might not be reasonable to expect it to happen in nature.

So, with chance out, one might expect that the atheistic explanation is refuted and God is in. But, whoever relinquished his paradigm just because it seemed illogical? Stephan Jay Gould wrote, “… life, arising as soon as it could, was chemically destined to be, and not the chancy result of accumulated improbabilities.” Origin of life researcher, Sydney Fox wrote, “… many scientists view natural phenomena as deterministic, not chancy.” So, if chance cannot accomplish it and you do not accept the creation alternative, deterministic matter saves the paradigm. Well, some still linger in the chance camp, but others have abandoned it guessing that all life must have been destined in matter.

During the Winstar Symposium of 1966 some biologists and mathematicians clarified the chance problem with no solution in sight. In 1969, Dean Kenyon and Gary Steinman coauthored Biochemical Predestination. They coined that phrase and opened a new door for the atheistic concept of the origin of life. However, after a few years, Dean Kenyon became discouraged with the lack of evidence for their brain-child and denounced the concept. A review of their book by creationist A. E. Wilder-Smith helped him see its fallacy. He soon became a leader in the Intelligent Design movement. Ironically, many other biologists latched onto his former concept to save face when chance failed them.

Chemical predestination of life’s origin and development has no scientific support. Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe wrote, “If there were a basic principle of matter that somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrated in the laboratory.” Marcel-Paul Schützenberger said, “Some biologists speak of predestination of the genome. Can anyone actually recover predestination, supposing it actually existed? ... Confronted with such questions, the Darwinian paradigm is conceptually bankrupt.” William Dembski commented, “There’s no sense in which human beings or even multi-celled organisms are latent in single-celled organisms, much less in non-living chemicals.” We have the right to question the justification for such a concept being taught as if it were science.

I have in front of me a magazine in which a photo I took was published. I can read the photo caption, “Foto Al Cornell.” However, that is all I can read because the magazine is written in German. I can get a little information on the content of the magazine from the pictures contained in it, but I cannot decipher the coded information.
Every biological organism known to man is equipped to read the information contained in its DNA. If that information could not be read, it would be entirely useless. If chance could produce coded information, meaningful for life, that information would be totally useless if there were no system in place to read the code.

During war, nations develop codes to relay information that the enemy cannot decipher. During World War II, the United States used Navajo Indians to transfer confidential information in their native language. While the enemy went to great pains to try to decipher that code, they were never able to. Even those of us who know only one language have invested a significant amount of learning to that end.

The deciphering mechanism for biologically contained information is amazing. A tightly controlled system is in place to open strands of DNA at the right place, to produce a transfer RNA copy, and to stop the production at the necessary spot. The guard holes of the nucleus membrane open to let the RNA out into the cytoplasm of the cell. The RNA is joined to a very large molecule called a ribosome. Ribosomes are present in all living organisms and are necessary to read all information that is sent out from the DNA.

Again, biological information would hit a dead end, even after being read, if there were no system in place to utilize the deciphered information. The ribosome initiates the utilization process by using the RNA strand that it has read in order to form a specified amino acid chain for a specific protein.

Formation of the designated protein is just the beginning of the utilization process. Among the thousands of things constructed from the DNA information are chambers into which the newly formed amino acid chains are taken so that each one can properly fold into its necessary shape for its biological purpose in the organism. Next the protein is transported to the site where it is needed, and it performs or helps perform its specified duty among thousands of activities taking place in the organism.

If you pick up a newspaper and read it, you are getting mostly general information. The paper is designed to keep you informed. Primarily it contains news of events that have happened. You may learn who won yesterday’s games, who received an award for what, why Main Street was closed, about births and death, and about upcoming events. There may be something that causes you to change a plan or get involved, but most of it is just general information that you can read and understand.

In contrast, while perhaps only 1½ percent of the DNA in an organism is coded information, every bit of that information is instructional. It not only has to be read by the organism, but it must be utilized for the proper structure and functioning of that organism.

“How To” and recipe books give us instructional information. I recently tried to make a cake. I did not know about the need to keep even a small amount of yolk out of the egg whites when you beat them. My cake ended up somewhat flat and heavy. In the world of biological information, “misunderstanding” can result in serious malfunctions or premature death.

How can we truly grasp the complexity in a biological system? In Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness, Roger Penrose wrote, “Biological systems indeed tend to have a subtlety of organization that far outstrips even the most sophisticated of our (often very sophisticated) physical creations.” Having a basic concept of this extraordinarily complex system should boost our confidence that that system needed intellectual input to get started.

However, that extreme biological organization does not deter the naturalistic mindset from continuing in its belief system. In Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, Robert Pennock wrote, “Genetic engineering may one day allow humans to create life, but so far we do not have a single case of intelligent creation of life; rather our universal experience to date is that only unintelligent material processes do so.” I have a hard time following the logic that if over 1,000 man-years of origin of life research cannot create life then that means only unintelligent processes are able to do it. Pennock’s statement is permeated with bias.

One need not read far into the biological literature to find the inception of life glossed over. Andrew Parker in his book, In the Blink of an Eye, states, “But once the first protein molecule had assembled, a self-replicating system would have come into play, which would then develop by natural selection.” My advice to a baseball coach is do not send a third baseman in to play before he has undergone conception, birth, and some development. Of course, my point is that the self-replicating system would have needed highly sophisticated development before it could have worked at all. If it were possible for natural selection to work on a system that had not yet reached the point of having any functional purpose, it would always work toward eliminating that useless baggage.

The evidence from biological systems lends powerful support to the viewpoint that there is a God. However, we must walk by faith, and God leaves some wiggle-room for the unbeliever. This is shown by the irony of what did and did not prompt faith in God by two former atheists who came to believe in Him.

In his book, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, Antony Flew wrote, “It is paradoxical indeed that my first published argument for atheism was originally presented at a forum presided over by the greatest Christian apologist of the last century—the Socratic Club chaired by C. S. Lewis.” He also addresses how the enormous complexity of DNA and its resulting functions demand creative Intelligence. So while Flew felt he had satisfactorily answered Lewis, biological organization was part of the reason for his acknowledging God’s existence.

In contrast, Francis Collins, who headed the human genome project, perceives the weight of evidence for faith balanced more away from DNA and toward C. S. Lewis’ apologetic writings. In The Language of God, he acknowledges a relationship between God and DNA. He also understands the inability of modern science to fill the origin of life gap with a naturalistic explanation, but he thinks that gap may one day be filled and that it is “not the place for a thoughtful person to wager his faith.” However, Mere Christianity by Lewis played a major part in Collins’ path from atheism to faith.

While it seems ironic that the DNA person builds faith from Lewis and the person from a Lewis background finds faith through DNA, I do not want to leave the impression that they are polarized over an issue. Each has made a significant contribution to apologetic literature, and, in fact, only Collins’ endorsement of Flew’s book appears on the front cover of its dust jacket.

However, I do disagree with Collins’ view of some biological gaps. I think that some gaps, including the one at the origin of life, have become progressively more defined by research and will ever be a challenge to the atheistic paradigm.

The agnostic anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, wrote in his book, The Star Thrower, “Only in writing can the cry from the great cross of Golgotha still be heard in the minds of men.” Eiseley was influenced by the character and love of Jesus, but while the New Testament had some instructional influence on Eiseley’s life, he did not perceive it as a message directing him to eternal salvation in Jesus Christ by the grace of God. In contrast, the believer has decided that the New Testament contains significant instructional information for his life that needs to be understood and utilized.

Pierre Grasse’s 1977 book, Evolution of Living Organisms, attacked mainstream evolutionary thinking; however, what disturbed traditional evolutionists the most was his final words, “Perhaps in this area biology can go no further: the rest is metaphysics.” Somewhere there is that “beyond the physical realm.” Only faith will take you there. Ultimately, Christian faith comes to rest, not on biologically coded information, but on the written information of a cross on Golgotha and of an empty tomb.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec09.