In Part One of this introductory series on DNA, a brief look at the history of the scientific achievements leading to our current understanding of genetics was presented. The series of scientific efforts that led to the discovery of the DNA molecule and the subsequent analysis of the molecule showed how genetic information is passed from generation to generation. The amazing property of DNA to encode instructions indicates a high level of complexity is barely matched by the human ingenuity to develop artificial languages used in computer science and the computers needed to transcribe and translate the code into useful information.
The ability of this molecule to undergo replication, while fascinating in itself, does not minimize the incredible specificity in the structure and function of the many different kinds of protein molecules that direct this replication process and decode the information in order to construct life itself. If this were not incredible enough, we must marvel that the same protein molecules that decode DNA are encoded in the very molecule that they decode and replicate. Similar to the classic question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, one given to evolutionary persuasions must also ask a similar question; which came first, DNA or protein? We find them interdependent and non-existent one without the other.
Furthermore, when we use words like transcription, translation, and information to describe the processes of information storage, retrieval, control, command, creation and development at the molecular and cellular level, it should not be difficult to conclude that the existence of genetic information seems miraculous. Yet we find ourselves studying biochemistry and the function of the information system of DNA using methods, machines and mathematics that are quite ingenious themselves. What does all this mean? What rational conclusions must be drawn to account for the level of intelligence needed to understand such findings let alone the existence of physical materials and living systems that function to create and sustain life independent of our own intelligent intervention? Does chance and the elements of nature have anything to do with the existence of genetics? Can we honesty attribute to earth, water, fire, wind and time the power to create life?
We know the message of DNA.
Maybe it’s not fair to ask how all this began. After all evolution says it was a one-time event. Certain chemicals fell together in just the right proportion in just the right way to create the first living cell. Somehow that cell was able to replicate and to “create” hundreds of thousands of unique blueprints that gave rise to the hundreds of thousands if not several million life forms that have been found on our planet.
So let’s not deal with the one-time event; when the first living cell came into being by some freakish accident. Instead let’s look at the hundreds of thousands of different life forms on the planet and ask the question- where did all the information come from for building these plants and creatures, teaching them to eat, run, grow, fly, swim, reproduce, communicate, build homes or fight for existence?
Reproduction gives rise to offspring that are the same type of organism as its parents! As a matter of fact from Gregor Mendel to the present day there is a fundamental “Law of Inheritance” that has never been broken. This law states that every living type of organism will reproduce only after it’s kind. The inheritance of each blueprint of DNA is an unbroken law in nature. If biological evolution were true, this law would not exist. And yet it is one of the very first principles taught in biology class.
Life reproduces after its own kind.
Over the years, molecular biologists and geneticists have discovered that genetic inheritance is a controlled process and that there are instructions encoded at the molecular level for the production of life and allows for variation; an elaborate blueprint for creating the same type of organism generation after generation while allowing variation within the species. Geneticists, microbiologists and molecular biologists agree on this fact. It is bewildering why evolution has any a place in these fascinating and hard sciences.
Mutations corrupt the message of DNA.
Biologists have noted repeatedly that mutations in the genetic code only give rise to defects, never improvements. This is true of the wingless fruit flies, antibiotic resistant bacteria, the 5 legged lamb, the 2 headed snake, and among human beings some 1500 genetic diseases like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and Parkinson’s disease. The number of genetic defects in humans is probably much higher but may be masked as disorders or predispositions rather than outright diseases. As a matter of fact in some cases such as thalasemia there are several hundred different mutations that lead to the non lethal form of this blood disorder. In familiar (genetic) Alzheimer’s disease dozens of individual but separate genetic mutations lead to the same disorder. Literally thousands of genetic defects result in many of the same disease conditions in humans.
Mutations do not make improvements.
Just as remarkable as the DNA code, we have also discovered that the blueprint for human beings is not the same blueprint for the chimpanzee. There’s a blueprint for the crow and a different one for the cardinal. There is a blueprint for the horse, one for the red oak, the black snake, the blue whale, the trout and the rose. DNA is the substance for creating each blueprint for every type of living being on this planet; literally hundreds of thousands of different organisms. While we may share many of the same genes for digesting food or for cellular respiration, there remains an astounding number of differences in the coding sequence of the DNA for different organisms. In 2012 the ENCODE project has begun to bear down on understanding that most if not all of the genetic sequences in the human genome are functional. This means we have just become exponentially ignorant of our own genetic blueprint. We thought only 1 or 2 percent was important. The ENCODE project says at least 80% of the DNA in chromosomes is important.