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Dawkins: DNA is Encoded Digital Information in the “Strong Sense”

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From time to time materialists come into these pages and argue that DNA is not a true “code.”  This proves nothing other than that materialists are often quite shameless in the arguments they make to prop up their religious views.  We would do well to remind that that arch-materialist Richard Dawkins did not get the memo.  Testifying against interest he writes:

After Watson and Crick, we know that genes themselves, within their minute internal structure, are long strings of pure digital information. What is more, they are truly digital, in the full and strong sense of computers and compact disks, not in the weak sense of the nervous system. The genetic code is not a binary code as in computers, nor an eight-level code as in some telephone systems, but a quaternary code, with four symbols. The machine code of the genes is uncannily computerlike. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular-biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer-engineering journal. . . .

Our genetic system, which is the universal system of all life on the planet, is digital to the core. With word-for-word accuracy, you could encode the whole of the New Testament in those parts of the human genome that are at present filled with “junk” DNA – that is, DNA not used, at least in the ordinary way, by the body. Every cell in your body contains the equivalent of forty-six immense data tapes, reeling off digital characters via numerous reading heads working simultaneously. In every cell, these tapes – the chromosomes – contain the same information, but the reading heads in different kinds of cells seek out different parts of the database for their own specialist purposes. . . .

Genes are pure information – information that can be encoded, recoded and decoded, without any degradation or change of meaning. Pure information can be copied and, since it is digital information, the fidelity of the copying can be immense. DNA characters are copied with an accuracy that rivals anything modern engineers can do.

Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden, 16-19

Comments
My thoughts on the contents of the coding regions of DNA being code in the truest sense of the word were expressed here: https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/amino-acid-frequency-correlates-with-the-number-of-codons/harry
September 19, 2016
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Kairos asks if I would say the things I say in the homes of believing Christians. I most certainly would not! My mother raised a person with far too many good manners to show disrespect to any individual's beliefs, however absurd. Would I say them to a guest in my own house? Hmm, depends upon the stupidity of the guest. If they said they were Christian, and left it that, then no. If the said they were Christian and then attempted preaching, then yes, they would get an earful, in MY home. Sound fair Kairos? Or is mocking 'the Lord of Hosts', in MY own home also beyond your childishly constructed, 'pale'?rvb8
September 19, 2016
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Briefly, the central problem with neo-Darwinism, as with reductionist biology in general, is that it makes some (usually hidden) metaphysical assumptions. You get drawn in by the colorful metaphors, greatly helped by the ease with which the reductionist story can be told. Complexity is much more difficult to expound to a general audience. [...] it would take a root-and-branch approach to counter it. The central idea (“there are only molecules”) is what needs challenging. That is clearly not true.
TheBestSchools blog Professor Denis Noble interview http://www.thebestschools.org/dialogues/evolution-denis-noble-interview/Dionisio
September 18, 2016
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My belief is that those of us who think differently need to try at least to emulate the literary skills of the popularizing neo-Darwinists.
TheBestSchools blog Professor Denis Noble interview http://www.thebestschools.org/dialogues/evolution-denis-noble-interview/Dionisio
September 18, 2016
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Of course, I do not claim that the neo-Darwinian view of man alone drove [well-known Dutch author Joost] Zwagerman to suicide. But the idea of genetic predestination found in books like The Selfish Gene seems to me very likely to have played a role.
TheBestSchools blog Professor Denis Noble interview http://www.thebestschools.org/dialogues/evolution-denis-noble-interview/Dionisio
September 18, 2016
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Although Dawkins writes on the last pages of The Selfish Gene that man is the only creature to rebel against the selfish genes, how [would that] be possible in the light of the reductionist determinism which permeates the preceding two hundred pages of his book [and] remains completely unresolved[?]
Jos de Mule, Dutch philosopher "Noble versus Dawkins" DNA is not the program of the concert of life.Dionisio
September 18, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @44: Would you mind responding the other questions @32-35? Thank you.Dionisio
September 18, 2016
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As shown in various preceding comments, according to professor Denis Noble and other scientists proposing the 'third way of evolution', Dawkins made serious mistakes in his description of biological reality. There's more to biology than the DNA and the outdated central dogma. In a recent paper we read this interesting analogy:
"That all of these interactions between genetically identical cells should somehow work themselves out in the creation of many distinct microenvironments, all in the right place at the right time, is about as plausible as having a musically untrained crowd of chattering people suddenly switch their cacophony to four part harmony and perform Mozart’s complete Ave Verum Corpus." The organelle of differentiation in embryos: the cell state splitter Natalie K. Gordon and Richard Gordon Theor Biol Med Model. 2016; 13: 11. doi: 10.1186/s12976-016-0037-2
Ave Verum Corpus: https://www.youtube.com/embed/HXjn6srhAlYDionisio
September 18, 2016
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rvb8 is a willfully blind fool unworthy of respect. He gets none from me.Truth Will Set You Free
September 17, 2016
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F/N: On the substance of this thread, I note, that it is patent to anyone with experience of machine and/or register transfer level processing in computational substrates, that DNA acts as machine code in a molecular nanotech based information processing system. This implies DNA is essentially linguistic and code is an empirically and analytically strongly supported signature of language using intelligence at work. It is the force of that simple inference that leads to the endless attempts to block or dismiss it. As the incoherence of evolutionary materialistic scientism becomes ever more evident, thus its blinding nature . . . if one believes and is committed to a falsity as a yardstick of truth it leads one to dismiss the real truth as it will not conform to a false yardstick . . . the basic force of the inference will tell. That is why Dawkins' testimony on record against known interest is worth noting and commenting on. KFkairosfocus
September 16, 2016
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RVB8, you are simply revealing a fundamental incivility and profound disrespect driven by the sort of ill-advised sense of superiority that in a parallel thread is leading you to join Pindi in making yourselves into poster children of the irretrievable incoherence of evolutionary materialistic scientism. (Origines at 133 is a classic: https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/miserable-creatures/#comment-617371 ) Above, a citation from a famous statement by Jesus [one that lies behind for instance the Harvard Uni motto] was twisted into a reference to Nazism. That is utterly beyond the pale, and it fully deserves the strictures I made. Further to this, you need to ask yourselves why there are universally recognised limits to verbal and physical public behaviour; in my part of the world, sometimes termed broughtupcy. You and your ilk need to ask yourselves, whether you would be willing to say some of the things you routinely write online, while sitting in the living rooms of those you obviously view as targets to play rhetorical one upmanship with. As in, it seems that you are revealing the basic amorality of evolutionary materialstic scientism and its invitation to the nihilistic mentality, that might and manipulation -- I can get away with it -- determine 'right' 'truth' etc. As in, bags of chemicals have no true rights, selves or dignity; or, as Francis Schaeffer used to summarise long ago now, man on your view is a zero. No need to spin out a tangent, you just told us a lot about yourself and your ilk, regarding some pretty ugly basic motives, intents and attitudes which you would be well advised to reconsider and change profoundly. Good day. KFkairosfocus
September 16, 2016
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Kairos, 'beyond the pale'? Possibly. 'Inexcusable'? Possibly. 'Blasphemous?' No! Sorry, to you definately, as you believe someone is listening. But to an atheist, blasphemy is an empty accusation. As you should know, we believe there is nothing to offend that is not materially present. Did I insult TWSYF? Sure, but to use schoolyard jargon, 'only coz he did it first!' You have the classic ability of all of the religious to be instantly offended (much like the university 'snowflakes'), and yet not grasp that your own ideas of 'election', 'worship', 'abjectness', 'guilt',are to atheists more 'inexcusable'. And they are inexcusable to us, because there is no good reason why the evidence before you, presented in a clear and accessable way, should be ignored; now that is truly offensive! Thank you, Dionisio. I am indeed a poor speller. It has nothing to do with my country of birth, merely lazy:) You have the job of my spell checker; remuneration is non-existant.rvb8
September 16, 2016
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DNA stores literally coded information http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1281-dna-stores-literally-coded-information Paul Davies : “DNA is not a special life-giving molecule, but a genetic databank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described, not in terms of material stuff — hardware — but as information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.” Inside each and every one of us lies a message. It is inscribed in an ancient code, its beginnings lost in the mists of time. Decrypted, the message contains instructions on how to make a human being. Although DNA is a material structure, it is pregnant with meaning. The arrangement of the atoms along the helical strands of your DNA determines how you look and even, to a certain extent, how you feel and behave. DNA is nothing less than a blueprint—or, more accurately, an algorithm or instruction manual—for building a living, breathing, thinking human being.Otangelo Grasso
September 16, 2016
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NielBJ, you say, "A code can only be created by a mind." Rvb8 says, "the inherited, and heritable construction plans, honed by millions of years of cut and paste." I say that these declarative statements on either of your parts, without proof, are just nattering.bFast
September 16, 2016
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A code is an intellectual concept. A code is an arrngement of symbols that can be implemented in various mediums. In the case of living origanisms that medium is the DNA. A code can only be created by a mind. In the case of the DNA code, as well as any code created by man, a code must not only solve the current design problem, but it also must anticipate future applications.NeilBJ
September 16, 2016
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RVB8 (27) "We use the human word, ‘information’, to poorly describe what is going on; the inherited, and heritable construction plans, honed by millions of years of cut and paste." Um, in my opinion you started this comment very correctly, "Of course DNA is information." Dawkins also has said, "Genes are pure information". I disagree with you when you use the word poorly when you say, "poorly describe what is going on". However, you over-make a valid point. We IDers tend to overload the term information with our belief that "information" = intelligent cause. This has not been proven -- at least to the satisfaction of the greater scientific community. I say that you over-make your point because you say, "honed by millions of years of cut and paste." In this statement you strongly declare that information most surely can come into existence without intelligence. In overstating this claim, you negate your obligation to provide an evidentiary proof. Your only proof, Dawkins' only proof is philosophical, metaphysical. Premise 1, there was no intelligence back when DNA based information was established. Premise 2, DNA contains information. Conclusion, information can come into existence without intelligence. Our challenge is to premise 1.bFast
September 16, 2016
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rvb8 @30:
By the way your moniker is alarmingly similer to, ‘Arbreit macht frei!’
First, please allow* me to correct your misspellings: English: It's 'similar' instead of 'similer'. Maybe they use the latter in NZ? :) German: It's 'arbeit' instead of 'arbreit'. What's the similarity you see between those two phrases? Why is it alarming? (*) formally asked for permission to suggest the spelling correction in this case because English is not my first language. Usually my comments have many misspelled words too, but I blame the editor autocorrect feature or the fact that my first language is not English (we humans like to find external excuses for everything we do wrong, don't we?). In any case I like and appreciate to be corrected, because I may learn from it. :)Dionisio
September 16, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @29: You wrote to groovamos referring to your interlocutor from NZ in not so nice terms. Do you think it's good for someone who publicly claims to be a Christian to refer to someone else in such derogatory terms, just because they think differently? Not long ago the New Zealander interlocutor said (i.e. wrote) very clearly his motives for commenting here. Apparently you missed reading it. I'll try to find it to post it here for your information. If you truly believe the author of the phrase you use as your identifier in this blog, then you know that we all, including the New Zealander interlocutor, were made in IMAGO DEI, hence we all have the dignity that automatically comes from that fact. Our Lord taught us the positive (proactive) version of the golden rule (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). The passive (negative) version was known much earlier. Is it right for us to call someone 'insane' just because we don't like what they say or write? Would we like to be called that name for saying things others don't understand? Actually, we are called derogatory names for telling others about the only true source of Life, but we should let Christ handle that for us. We don't have the power or authority required for that task. We should have a compassionate heart towards the spiritually lost, remembering that God loved us long before we loved Him back. Only He can cure spiritual blindness. Let's just pray for those who still cannot rejoice in the Lord. Let's share that greatest joy with all. Soli Deo Gloria.Dionisio
September 16, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @29: I noticed a law firm in NC linked to your blog identifier. Are you related to that office?Dionisio
September 16, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @29: Thank you for pointing to the source of that phrase. BTW, do we understand the whole context it was said in? Do we understand the verses 31 & 32 together? Do we understand what they mean and the implications they have for anyone who claims to be Christian? Are we followers of the One who said that? Or are we just His fans?Dionisio
September 16, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @29: You did not mention if my reply @26 answered your request @25. Should I assume it did? Was it clear?Dionisio
September 16, 2016
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RVB8, DNA is obvious machine code, and such is inherently informational. Information, being a linguistic term used to denote certain important classes of phenomena well known to us as living in an information age. You seem to be going down the road of denial of patent reality, never a healthy sign. It inadvertently testifies to the force of the facts of information systems in the cell. KF PS: I think you will be well advised to pause before trying to associate a classic statement of Jesus in the NT -- "ye shall know the truth and the truth will make you free" -- with the lying motto above the gate of Auschwitz. That level of trollish snideness and attempted tainting is beyond the pale, blasphemous and inexcusable.kairosfocus
September 16, 2016
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And I have said it many times that there is an inherent impolite nature to this site. It seems to have two sets of posting rules; strict and rigourously enforced for atheists, and rather more loosely applied to creationists. "rvb8 is insane". Well argued TWSYF. By the way your moniker is alarmingly similer to, 'Arbreit macht frei!'rvb8
September 16, 2016
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groovamos @ 28: I have said it many times on this site...rvb8 is insane. Either that, or he is just goofing around and having fun with the stuff he spouts on this site. Dionisio @ 26: See John 8:32Truth Will Set You Free
September 15, 2016
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rvb8: We use the human word, ‘information’, to poorly describe what is going on; the inherited, and heritable construction plans, honed by millions of years of cut and paste. Although Shannon very early in his writings eschewed any discussion of meaning or philosophical implications of his work, much of which I'm familiar with, I think the many times I have discussed this on this thread show that information is meaningless outside the context of mind. Stochastic events can take on the role of furnishing information when they are studied which requires a mind. Obviously a mind can supply information. But the idea that stochastic events can furnish information that exists independent of a mind, or that requires no role for any mind is the biggest blunder of philosophical materialism. You have no way around this. This is because Darwinian evolution is unfalsifiable. Hence it is a story. No more no less.groovamos
September 15, 2016
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Of course DNA is information. Barry says occasionally materialists visit the site and deny this? Do they? Then they are morons. What Dawkins describes is entirely consistant with evolution. DNA, or rather dicreet units of DNA, code for proteins which then make their coded for, bodily necessities; skin, bone, whatever other cells. What on earth is DNA except a huge parcel of information, much of it, unused, or inaccessable. This is what Dwkins elequently expresses. We use the human word, 'information', to poorly describe what is going on; the inherited, and heritable construction plans, honed by millions of years of cut and paste.rvb8
September 15, 2016
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Truth Will Set You Free @25 It's showing interesting parts of an interview of professor Denis Noble at the blog The Best Schools, where they refer to Dawkins. Since this OP is also related to Dawkins, I thought some folks visiting this thread would like to read what Noble said about Dawkins and Neo-Darwinism too. The interview is relatively long, but I quoted what I think are the most interesting parts, specially related to the person this OP mentions in the title. Looking back, I should have posted this in the 3rd way of evolution thread instead of here. Or perhaps should have posted just the link to the interview. Or better yet, shouldn't have posted anything at all, thus saving myself precious time I could use on better things. After all, who am I to suggest any reading material? Right? Thank you for alerting me. BTW, what does "Truth Will Set You Free" mean?Dionisio
September 15, 2016
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Dionisio: Not sure what all these consecutive posts are meant to convey. Please give me the short summary pitch. Thank you.Truth Will Set You Free
September 15, 2016
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TheBestSchools:
[...] could you please expand on the difference, as you see it, between your approach to teleology in biology and that of the Intelligent Design people?
Denis Noble:
The difference from creationism and intelligent design is that we think that evolution has produced organisms with purpose.
TheBestSchools blog Professor Denis Noble interview http://www.thebestschools.org/dialogues/evolution-denis-noble-interview/ The problem is how exactly could that happen? No one knows. No one. :)Dionisio
September 15, 2016
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TheBestSchools:
Recently, you have been involved with a number of like-minded scientists in launching a website devoted to spreading anti-reductionist ideas about the nature of life. It is called the Third Way of Evolution.
Denis Noble:
A recurring theme amongst those who question aspects of neo-Darwinism, whether proposing extension or replacement, is that they often experience frankly insulting remarks from some of the more dogmatic neo-Darwinists (I emphasise that this is not true of all neo-Darwinists by any means) and that they have much greater difficulty getting articles published. Criticism of neo-Darwinism should not be taken to mean support for creationism or intelligent design.
TheBestSchools blog Professor Denis Noble interview http://www.thebestschools.org/dialogues/evolution-denis-noble-interview/Dionisio
September 15, 2016
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