When I first began to study these issues over a decade ago, I sometimes wondered whether I would wake up one morning to learn that researchers had discovered the way in which Darwinian evolution really did happen. That is, I thought I might learn how a long, slow chain of favorable mutations was accidentally generated and then meticulously conserved in survivors, resulting in vast networks of information.
In retrospect, I realize that I simply did not understand the nature of the problem back then. What I understand now is that life is largely information, and no information system can be built in that way.
It was as if, centuries ago, I had wondered if the alchemists would one day hit on a formula for turning lead into gold. The question could not be answered even today by a simple yes or no.
Why isn’t “no” the correct answer? Because it amounts to no more than a prophecy that the alchemists will not find the secret formula. That’s true, but the correct answer is that there is no secret formula. The belief that there is one stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of metals. The periodic table of the elements, their natures and relationships, reveals the answer—by dissolving the question. More.
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