Donald Hank
December 3, 2009
In the beginning was the Word
Stephen Meyer's "Signature in the Cell"
By Donald Hank

Stephen Meyer's book "Signature in the Cell" may be the most enlightening book I have ever read.

Please try to get it if you haven't yet. It contains all the answers I have always wanted at my finger tips for debates with Darwinists on the origin of life (I don't let them drag me into the species change arguments, because I would quickly be in over my head). Having been in thrall to a rigid Darwinist view of life's origin for many years, I feel liberated about having the origin-of-life side of the theory blown sky high. The origin of life is the key aspect because it gets into the existence of a Creator.

You see, Darwin's step by step evolution from simple to complex only seems feasible on the macro side that is, developed plants and animals which develop even further. Darwin could show beyond a doubt that evolution had happened from wolf to dog, for example, under human guidance and from there the idea that such changes would have happened in nature in response to environment was but a stone's throw. But on the micro level, as researchers found out about the processes in the cell (ever since the early 50s), they discovered that even the simplest cells were factories with the most complex imaginable machinery and computer systems complete with software that for all the world appeared to have been designed and written by someone. The more origin-of-life scientists looked for answers along the accidental Darwinian route, the more confused and baffled they became. The old lightning bolt in the mud theory had failed in the lab and didn't cut it any more. So much so that today there is absolutely no consensus and the field is in complete disarray. The only scientists who appear to form a consensus are the few dedicated to the notion of intelligent design. But that is a heresy in today's academe, where intelligence is not allowed because it is eerily reminiscent of that pesky "God delusion" along with its moral code of do's and don'ts for mankind. Darwin was to have driven a stake in its heart. Now it was coming back to haunt them.

The heart of Meyer's book, which will be the chief stumbling block for Darwinists from here to eternity, is the part describing the "CAD-CAM" (CAD=computer assisted design; CAM=computer assisted manufacture) machinery inside the cell that performs gene expression by recognizing and reading the DNA code, written in nucleotide triads, and transcribing and sending the coded specs (for protein synthesis) for translation. In the ribosome (cellular protein factory), the blueprint is then read and implemented, enabling the synthesis of a specific protein to specification by the ribosome based on the information originally contained in the DNA and transferred to the RNA in a different format. Note that the data-bearing DNA, a sort of master copy, is located in a part of the cell far away from the ribosome (factory), so the transcription, for example, isn't at all like, for example, simply making a carbon copy by just piling 2 sheets of paper on top of each other with a carbon in between and pressing hard as you write or type. Transcription (along with subsequent translation and implementation of the blueprint) is genuinely analogous to a CAD-CAM system, with its own software code.

I suppose that Meyer would groan at this description because I am still grappling with the sticky parts. It is much more complex than this, but you get the idea.

(For an illustration of gene expression in protein building, click here to go to Stephen Meyer's web site and click on the button at the bottom right to see an amazing animation of the cellular machines at work).

Not to get mired down in detail, but Meyer also mentions machines in the cell that edit the information and others that straighten out the DNA helices and then rewind them once they have been "read" by the RNA.

Oh, BTW, the computer in the cell is capable of processing several times more data than any silicon chip known at this point. Bill Gates is cited as acknowledging this fact.

Meyer makes 4 blockbuster points:

1 The message is actually a true code. It is language, it is words. Although in both DNA (original data repository) and RNA (data transmitter), it is in the form of nucleotide triads (called codons), the constituent nucleotide bases constituting the code have no special chemical affinity for the proteins they signify in the code (just as ink has no meaningful chemical affinity for paper that would make certain letters stick to certain parts of a page), so the processes of recognition, transcription and translation involved in making a protein are pure language utilization processes, not chemistry! That makes the "recognition" part quite unobvious and esoteric, requiring a deciphering system that is not based on the chemical properties of the constituent parts (against initial intuitive hypotheses), so that the message borne by the code is independent of any recognizable physicochemical laws making it a mystery. This fact alone points unequivocally to a designer who started his process with the use of words.

2 Meyer also makes the point that the protein synthesized by this system (as all proteins in all living cells even the simplest are) not only could not exist without the DNA but the DNA could also not exist without the protein (because both the protein and the DNA are both part of the protein synthesis machinery and "software" essential to the manufacture and maintenance of cell constituents). Thus, unlike the chicken-or-the-egg question, there seems to be no way either could have come first. That makes evolution a very tough sell indeed. (One could actually speak of an "evolution delusion" to paraphrase Richard Dawkins).

3 Besides the living cell, there is nothing known in nature that encodes, decodes, transmits and reads specifications and builds or reproduces machines (living or other) in this computer-like fashion. The only scheme that resembles this enormously complex machinery and computer system is man-made and requires a designer. The designer is logically the default explanation.

4 Meyer's colleague, statistical mathematician William Dembski, calculates that the probabilities of the simplest cell producing all the necessary proteins it needs to survive by chance is 1 in 10 to the power of 41,000. This probability is so small as to be utterly negligible. In other words, the advent of life on earth was not an accident.

No one who reads this book can come away believing in the standard academic explanation that life came about by accident. Neither, claims Meyer, do many microbiologists and/or origin-of-life scientists, who are either "baffled" or are on his side.

I think this is the final blow to neo-Darwinism, at least intellectually. Now all that remains is break down the intellectual barriers on the campuses that were erected and maintained by the Lilliputians who inhabit and rule them with an iron fist. But that will be the toughest job of all (as shown by Ben Stein's movie "Expelled"). Government, the media and campuses are living proof that no common sense or any relationship with reality is required for corrupt systems to stay in place almost indefinitely and make a majority of the populace believe the Wizard of Oz is real.

Although I love education and learning, I am actually encouraged that colleges are now laying off profs in various places like California and enrollment is down. I say that that because learning under the principle of free inquiry is no longer taking place there. (For insight into the sad state of US universities, click on the last link under "Related").

I hate to say it but I hope colleges get so out of reach that parents, for the time being, stop sending their kids to these indoctrination centers at least until the colleges start returning to common sense principles.

I believe distance education is the wave of the future and courses that actually prepare for careers non-government that is, will be the focus again.

Too bad the whole system may have to be destroyed by the bad guys before that can happen.


© Donald Hank


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Donald Hank

Until July of 2009, Don Hank was operating a technical translation agency out of his home in Wrightsville, PA. He is now retired and residing in Panama with his wife and daughter.

A former language teacher, he holds an undergraduate degree in French and German from Millersville State University (PA), a Master's degree in Russian language and literature from Kutztown State College (also in PA), has studied Chinese for 3 years in Taiwan at the Mandarin Training Center, and is self-taught in other languages, having logged a total of 8 years abroad in total immersion situations.

He is also the founder of Lancaster-York Non-Custodial Parents, a volunteer organization that provides Christian counseling for non-custodial parents.


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