Tag Archives: DNA Coding

The Biological Case for God

In 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Eric Metaxas, titled “Science Increasingly Points to God.” It received almost 400,000 “likes” on Facebook. Others challenged Metaxas’s arguments that Earth is special, and that the universe is fine-tuned for life. But those disturbed by a scientific challenge to atheism face a greater problem. New discoveries in biology, mostly in the last decade, make an even stronger case for the existence of God.

These new discoveries contradict Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution, that you can explain the origin of every species, and all of the wondrous systems and abilities of those species, by random mutations and the gradual process of natural selection. To be sure, many Darwinists are prepared to fight to the death, and they have circled the wagons, both by proclaiming ever louder that “all the evidence” supports their theory, and by attacking colleagues who dissent. But the cracks are beginning to show. Noted atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel subtitled his 2012 book “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.”

“Orphan genes” may be the most stunning contradiction. A gene is a section of DNA coding that life uses to build a functional protein, a biological machine part. Orphan genes, and their associated proteins, have no recognizable ancestors. They have now been found in every species on Earth. They typically make up 10-20% of a genome, and play a key role in making that species unique, such as creating toxins in jellyfish or preventing freezing in polar cod. Leaf-cutter ants have 9,361 unique proteins; next to human beings they create the largest and most complex societies.

You don’t need a PhD in mathematics or biology to realize that coding is information, and that you can’t get information by chance. Put together 100 English letters/spaces/punctuation selected at random, and ask what the odds are that you will get anything meaningful. Sure, there are billions times billions of possible coherent sequences, but the probability of getting a meaningful sequence by chance is less than one in a number with 100 zeros. You have a better chance of picking a marked marble out of a pile as big as the known universe.

The same reasoning applies to biology. DNA coding is processed by biological 3D printers that read the code three “letters” at a time, and use that information to select, snap together, and fold specified sequences of amino acids to build proteins, the machine parts of life. There are about 500 different types of amino acids, but all life uses an alphabet of the same 20 amino acids to build proteins. Functional proteins are astonishingly rare. If you randomly link together 150 of the amino acids of life, the odds that they will form a functional protein of any type are about 1 in a number with 74 zeros. You have a better chance of reaching into a pile of marbles as big as our galaxy and picking out that marked marble.

You might think that, over “billions and billions” of years, those odds could be overcome. But the math doesn’t work. The number of living organisms that have ever existed has about 40 digits. Even with that many tries your odds of picking that marked marble are about one in a number with 34 (74 minus 40) zeros, about the probability of reaching into a pile of marbles as big as the Sun and picking out the right one. Mutations at random can’t realistically “find” a new functional protein. And this greatly oversimplifies the problem; you need multiple proteins working together exactly right to create new technology.

If I had to give a single date for the death of Darwinian theory I would pick September 6, 2012. On that date newspapers around the world reported that most “and likely all” of human DNA serves a purpose. This was announced by the ENCODE project, a world-wide coalition of 440 top scientists. Three months later ENCODE reported human DNA contains more than one layer of information. Yes, we have 3.2 billion letters of coding with two layers of information. Despite attacks by Darwinists, the ENCODE scientists have stood their ground.

These findings contradict Darwin’s theory. There is no way that fully functional, or almost fully functional, DNA with two layers of information could have been created by chance. Darwinists try to argue that excess DNA makes an organism less likely to survive and reproduce, and so by the magical “power” of natural selection we end up with an efficient code. Sorry, but there is no evidence for that, and there are many organisms with dozens of times as much DNA as a human being. And even that fantasy can’t explain two layers of information.

Here’s a third new realization. Contrary to what you may have read, there is no mildly plausible non-theistic explanation for the origin of life. In 2006 Harvard launched an “Origins of Life Initiative,” but the consensus of their 2009 conference was “we just don’t know.” The problem is that, as we learn more about life and how it works, the complexity is too much to say it just arose by chance. We now know all life works off the same digital operating system. Digital technology has transformed our world – smartphones, computers, and more. Life began with digital technology. Today we have printers that build 3-dimensional objects. Life began with 3D printers. And here’s the clincher – life began with the exact correct digital code so that those 3D printers could build copies of themselves and all of the other machinery of life. This cannot be explained by chance, the resources of a trillion trillion universes would be laughingly inadequate.

The way it all works is highly optimized, such as in the chemical structure of DNA and in the selection of the particular 20 amino acids used to build proteins. This operating system was there at the beginning, it didn’t “evolve,” and there is no known way one operating system can transform into another. You can kick your windows PC all you want; it won’t turn into an iMac.

We have found information in orphan genes, human DNA, and the origin of life. We know, from all of science and all of human history, that only intelligence can create information. The new evidence points to – actually, demands the existence of – a transcendent intelligence, an intelligence that has created every species on Earth. Chance, you say? Get real.

Thanks for reading,
Doug Ell

New Marvels from ENCODE

ENCODE stands for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements. It is hundreds of scientists worldwide working to understand the human genome, working to understand how our 3.2 billion letters of DNA code build and operate a human being. Perhaps more than any other set of scientific discoveries, the ENCODE findings lead to the undeniable conclusion that human beings were designed, and God is real.

I noted initial findings of ENCODE in my book (Counting To God, pp. 128, 155-157, 201). Darwin’s theory is that all living creatures “evolved” through a process of mutation and selection, a process of keeping the best mistakes in our DNA. Because of Darwin’s theory that we were created from a series of random mutations, prior to ENCODE many scientists believed the vast majority of human DNA, as much as 98%, was useless “junk.” ENCODE shattered this delusion. In September 2012 the front page of the New York Times announced “The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as ‘junk’ but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs, and other tissues behave.” The lead paper in Nature noted that scientists were able to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the human genome.

These initial ENCODE findings provoked angry responses from Darwinists. One admitted “if ENCODE is right, then Darwin is wrong.” In December 2012 ENCODE drove a second stake through Darwinian theory, when it reported that human DNA contains at least two layers of information.

The new findings are even more amazing. ENCODE now reports “staggering complexity” in human DNA, “much more complex” than they imagined, so much so that “it’s very hard to get over the density of information.” This short video explains the new findings:

Staggering complexity and dense information can only come from a mind. As my book shows, it is mathematically ridiculous to believe that one can get complex code from random mistakes. That mutations destroy information, not create information, is common knowledge yet commonly ignored.

The arrow of modern science points directly to God. When we were less informed, when we didn’t fully understand the laws of chemistry and physics, when we were ignorant of the wonders of DNA and the complexity of life, we developed superstitions to deny God, superstitions like Darwinism and the multiverse. But as our knowledge advances, as the technology of life and design of the universe come ever sharper into focus, ever more clear and stunning with each passing year, the old superstitions must go. As the light of science grows brighter, we see God more clearly.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will share the good news of modern science. Together we can defeat the atheist paradigm of a meaningless world.

Doug Ell

Darwin and the Octopus

You knew the octopus is strange. Now science says it’s even stranger, and the evidence is not good for Darwin’s theory.

Octopuses have eight arms with suction cups, and taste through their suckers. They have three hearts. They are extremely intelligent; they can solve complex mazes, open jars filled with tasty crabs, and build structures. They camouflage themselves by altering the way light reflects from their skin, and they can change the texture, pattern, and brightness of their skin. Parts of their brains are in their arms, and the arms “can execute cognitive tasks even when dismembered.”

Where did this technology come from? We now know that all life runs off code, like computers, only much more advanced. Scientists recently examined the code that octopuses run, their DNA, and found it – well, alien. “It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” joked one of the lead scientists. An organism’s genome is its complete set of code, all of its DNA. We don’t fully understand the wondrous complexity of DNA and how it works, but we can usually identify parts of the code that are used to build proteins – the machine parts of life. Those parts of DNA code are called genes. Octopuses have “hundreds of octopus-specific genes found in no other animal, many of them highly active in structures such as the brain, skin, and suckers.”

Got that? The octopus has “hundreds” of sections of brand new, never seen before in any other animal, genetic coding to build unique proteins. Where did that new coding come from?

As you know, there are only two theories. One is Darwin’s theory that natural selection kept the better of the random mutations, until a new species — here the octopus — appears. When Darwin proposed his theory we didn’t know that life runs on code. Now that we do, his followers claim that random, gradual changes in the code (mutations) somehow produce new technology. Under this theory, you would never find completely new coding. The octopus is classified as a mollusk – a clam. So Darwin’s theory is that somehow clams “evolved” into complex creatures with new, amazing technology – three hearts, eight arms with suckers that can taste, and new brain structure – by natural selection keeping the better of the random mutations, the random changes in the coding.

I think that’s patently ridiculous. Octopus DNA is a nightmare for Darwin’s theory. The odds of scrambling DNA code and getting functional code that will build a brand new machine part – producing the code that will build a sequence of amino acids that fold into a working protein – are about 1 in a number with 70 zeros — 1070. Now “only” about 1040 organisms have ever lived, so the odds against getting a new protein of any kind by accident are about 30 orders of magnitude greater than the number of creatures that have ever lived. And again the octopus has “hundreds” of sections of unique, never seen before, DNA code that build working parts. Plus those parts are highly designed to work together to build the technology that makes an octopus an octopus. The technology to coordinate eight arms must be amazing.

Darwin’s theory has never stood up to mathematical analysis. The octopus has grabbed it with eight arms and won’t let go. For Darwinists, it’s a nightmare.

This leaves us with the second explanation for the octopus. It was designed.

Thanks for reading.

Origin of Life – Atheist Pseudo-Science #3

“That’s life,” sings Sinatra. Well, exactly what is life? We now know that all life, even the most “primitive” life, is amazingly complex. This week let’s look at perhaps the most stunning evidence of design in the universe, the origin of life. We will also look at the pseudo-science claims of some atheists that life could have arisen by chance.

Impressed by your digital toys – smartphones, computers, TVs, and more? Life began with digital technology – DNA coding — 3.5 billion years ago. Life’s digital technology is far superior; you could store the coding for every species that has ever existed in a spoonful of DNA, with perhaps enough room left over for every book that has ever been written.

Heard of work to build “3-D printers” – machines that take in pure information and build parts and items on command? Life began with 3-D printing 3.5 billion years ago. Life’s 3-D printers – ribosomes – use the information in DNA to snap together fantastically long chains of amino acids, and then to fold that chain into the shape required for the precise functional protein a cell has ordered to be created. Ribosomes are 3-D printers that manufacture parts for cells, and all life uses essentially the same technology to do that.

Do you think your computer or cell phone could have arisen by accident? All life, even primitive life, is more sophisticated. Your cell phone can’t reproduce itself.

Last week I gave a talk in Florida. A person in the audience suggested that, since we now know that some of the amino acids used by life can arise by chance, we can now explain the origin of life as having arisen by chance. That’s like saying that, if we can find a way the letters of the English alphabet could have been created by chance, then the works of Shakespeare could have arisen by chance. The amino acid experiment he was referring to – the Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 – was tremendously flawed, and both Miller and Urey later admitted that it did not explain the origin of life. Yet this sad experiment is still given in most high school textbooks as an explanation for the origin of life. I read of it in high school and, not knowing of the flaws, began my personal sad conversion to atheism, a conversion that took decades to reverse.

There is so much more to say on this subject. I’ve got a whole chapter in Counting To God on it. If someone thinks there’s a way to explain life without God, they should read Chapter 10.

In 1964 Yale Physicist Harold Morowitz estimated the odds of life arising by chance, at any time in the history of the universe, as one in a number with a hundred billion zeros. I have never seen that estimate challenged. In other words, it is more likely that you will win a Powerball lottery 10 billion times in a row than that life arose by mere chance.

To me the origin of life is a “chicken-and-the-egg” problem. To have life, you need to begin with both the chicken and the egg. You need to begin with ribosomes and other fantastic machinery to read and copy DNA and do all the other work of life, and the exact DNA code that those machines will use to build copies of themselves.

I’m often asked what is the one question you should ask an atheist who is trying to bully you with false science. That’s easy:

How did life begin?

Thanks for reading.

Ell’s Law

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately as to how I’m going to earn my Nobel Prize. I’m not getting any younger. I’ve decided I need my own “law.” That seems to be how you make it really big science-wise – to have a law or principle either named after you or always associated with you. There’s Hubble’s Law, Newton’s Law of Gravitation, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and so on. And of course Murphy’s Law. So, to get me started on the road to Nobel, I propose Ell’s Law:

Whenever there are competing explanations for natural phenomena and one suggests, however slightly, the existence of God, the other will become the accepted “scientific” explanation, regardless of whether there is any evidence to support it.

Let’s look at Ell’s Law in operation, starting with Cosmology. The night sky is dark. Did the universe have a beginning, or do we infer there’s a lot of totally undetected dust in the heavens blocking the light from those infinite and eternal stars way out there? You guessed it! – the answer must be dust! Hubble discovers the universe is expanding, and the speed of receding galaxies is proportional to their distance from us. Do we now conclude the universe had a beginning? Nope, applying Ell’s Law, scientists invent the “Steady State” theory, where the universe is still constant and eternal and somehow matter is created in the voids to build new galaxies. This violates a basic rule of science – the First Law of Thermodynamics, the conservation of matter/energy – but, under Ell’s Law, we don’t worry about that. In 1965 we discover radiation from the Big Bang, and other evidence, absolutely confirming that our universe had a beginning. Do we now infer the existence of God? Of course not! Applying Ell’s Law, scientists conclude our universe was created by another universe, which was somehow created by a third universe, and so on, to infinity and beyond, to avoid having to come up with a “First Cause” for a first universe. We discover the constants and laws of physics are exquisitely fine-tuned for the existence of life. Do we infer a designer? Nope! Applying Ell’s Law, we just tweak our model of an infinite number of universes (together called a “multiverse”) to imagine that somehow the laws and constants of physics (and even the number of dimensions actually) can change from one to another. We have absolutely no idea how this occurs, and of course absolutely no idea how we can ever detect evidence of other universes, but, under Ell’s Law, you don’t need evidence!

Now let’s apply Ell’s Law to biology. We discover an incredible molecule called DNA that contains the information for all life. Apply Ell’s Law, and we conclude it arose by accident. We discover an amazing genetic code that all life uses to build proteins from the DNA code, and amazing machines to process DNA. Obviously, created by accident! We don’t have a mildly plausible explanation for the origin of life (and believe me, Harvard and others threw a lot of money at the problem), but, no problem, we ignore that and keep printing high school textbooks suggesting the “scientific” explanation that life was created by accident. We find all species contain massive amounts of unique DNA coding (orphan genes). Evidence of design? Not a chance! Just apply Ell’s Law, and you will conclude it all arose because of accidental mutations and natural selection, even if that’s mathematically absurd.

I could go on, but I think you get my point. Ell’s Law is one of the most powerful laws in science. It also applies in quantum physics and planetary formation. I’m going to start work on my acceptance speech.

Thanks for reading.

A Paradigm Shift to God?

College professors don’t always get it right. They preached the virtues of collective economies as the Soviet Union imploded and China embraced markets. They loved Freud long after working psychiatrists moved past him. Today most refuse to consider evidence of design in living creatures, but new findings from mainstream science point in the same direction. Could we be on the verge of a paradigm shift to God?

Unthinkable, you say? Before you close your mind, consider the evidence. I was an atheist when I was an undergraduate at MIT, and during graduate school in theoretical mathematics. I have spent 30 years reconciling science and God. Let’s look objectively at three relatively new findings.

The first finding is a stunning negative, an inability to come up with an atheist explanation for the origin of life. Harvard’s 2007 “Origin of Life Initiative” is a good example. Their 2009 conference only served to emphasize that we don’t have a clue how life began. There is no chance-based explanation for the origin of life, for the appearance, perhaps 3.5 billion years ago, of complex molecules with millions of DNA subunits and ultra-sophisticated machines to copy and repair DNA and use its information to build proteins. All life works on this same operating system. Chance can’t explain the simultaneous appearance of DNA coding and this molecular machinery, particularly when you realize it’s a chicken and egg problem. To get life, you need to begin with both the exact code for the proteins and those same proteins – machine parts – to read the code and build themselves and other proteins. Yale Professor Harold Morowitz estimated decades ago that the odds of life arising by chance in the history of the universe are about one in a number with one hundred billion zeros. Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution (random mutations and natural selection) doesn’t apply; natural selection only works after you have a system for storing and passing on traits. Where did the information and technology to create life come from?

The second finding comes from 450 scientists worldwide working on the ENCODE project to map the human genome. In September 2012 they announced that most and likely all of our 3.2 billion “letters” of DNA is functional. Despite attacks by Darwinists, ENCODE issued a paper this year holding their ground. As one die-hard Darwinist admits, “if ENCODE is true, then Evolution is wrong,” using “Evolution” here to refer to Darwinian theory. ENCODE announced in December 2012 that human DNA has two layers of information. How could 3.2 billion letters of all or mostly functional code with two layers of information arise by chance? Some Darwinists would now like to believe that extra DNA confers a major evolutionary disadvantage, but there is no known disadvantage to excess DNA. Some species have a lot. The marbled lungfish has 132 billion “letters” of DNA; a Japanese flower has 152 billion.

The third finding is that all species contain genes with no analogue in any other species. They are called “orphan genes,” because it was once believed we would find their ancestors. We know today their ancestors never existed. Orphan genes play a key role in making a species unique, such as creating toxins in jellyfish and preventing freezing in polar cod. A 2009 paper reported that “Comparative genome analyses indicate that every taxonomic group so far studied contains 10-20% of genes that lack recognizable homologs [similar counterparts] in other species.” Leaf-cutter ants have 9,361 genes that are unique; they create the largest and most complex societies of all animals, surpassed only by human beings.

Each of these findings is evidence of information in the universe. In all of human history, and in all of science, we have found only one thing that can create meaningful information. That is intelligence. I gave a lecture at MIT earlier this year, and asked the roomful of scientists if there was there was any other known source of information. The room became silent.

This argument from probability is a paradigm buster. Take the atheist/Darwinist claim that there is nothing special about human beings. In 2011 scientists identified 198 orphan genes in humans, chimpanzees, and orangutans that code for proteins used in the brain. Fifty-four of these genes are solely human. The odds of getting by chance DNA code to perform a specified function are vanishing small; one paper estimates that likelihood as one part in a number with 77 zeros. How many proto-human candidates do you think there could possibly have been – maybe a number with nine or ten digits at most? The odds that any of those proto-humans ever had a mutation creating one of these orphan brain genes is less than picking a specified marble out of almost unimaginably big pile, a pile of marbles 100 light years in diameter, extending far beyond our Solar System to include many nearby stars.

As the experimental evidence points to God, the academic rhetoric gets louder. A recent piece in the Sunday Review came from a biology professor who gives his students an anti-God “Talk” each year. He admits living things are “wonderfully complex,” but states that this is consistent with random variations plus natural selection, unguided evolution. That may be Darwinian dogma, but it’s mathematical nonsense. Orphan genes can’t be explained by chance; they’re not derived from any prior genes. 3.2 billion “letters” of all or mostly functional DNA code can’t be explained by chance. The origin of life can’t be explained by chance. I’d like to give that professor a course in probability.

There’s other evidence. The fossil record contradicts Darwinian theories of gradual descent; it documents an infusion of information into the universe 540 million years ago as part of life’s Cambrian Explosion. Could we be on the verge of a paradigm shift to God? Will people be open to these new facts of science? God only knows.

Thanks for reading.

Information Revisited – New Proteins

Last week I explained why random events cannot create meaningful information. This week let’s see how recent laboratory results confirm that, by looking at the creation of new proteins.

Proteins are biological machine parts. They are manufactured using the code in DNA by snapping together the specified sequence of amino acids. All life uses the same 20 amino acids, and they are snapped together, like plastic building blocks, and folded into a functional protein, a working biological machine part. Functional proteins are rare, in exactly the same way that a random collection of letters is rarely going to form a coherent paragraph.One very recent estimate is that human beings have about 19,000 functional proteins.

In 2009 researchers at the University of Oregon found that Darwinian, chance-based evolution doesn’t work in reverse – that is, once you have a new protein, there is essentially zero chance that natural processes will somehow be able to recreate the original protein. In June 2014, in an article published in prestigious Nature magazine, they found tremendous problems with forward evolution. They found that to get from one protein to another you had to assume a fantastically unlikely exact sequence of intermediate steps.

In other words, they disproved Darwinian evolution –it all happened solely by chance and natural selection. They verified in the lab that natural processes alone cannot create information. Of course, they don’t admit it. Just like most scientists worldwide seek to ignore the ENCODE results of 2012, that substantially all of our human DNA serves a function, and that we have multiple levels of information in our DNA coding.

So where does information come from? Where did the DNA coding come from to build the thousands of functional proteins in our bodies?

“If you start with a protein that has a particular function, to some extent you can generally change some of the amino acids in its sequence, and the protein will still perform that same function. But you can’t rationally expect to “accidentally” mutate from one functional protein to another amino acid sequence with a new function. The odds of that are one in 1063 for 92 amino acid sequences and one in 1077 for 150 amino acid sequences, and far worse for longer amino acid sequences.” Counting To God, p. 158.

Thanks for reading.