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Theory of Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Intelligent Design » Information Theory, Coded Information in the cell » The genetic code cannot arise through natural selection

The genetic code cannot arise through natural selection

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The genetic code cannot arise through natural selection

Perry Marshall: 
Natural Selection can only decrease information, since it causes things to die. (Which is subtraction of information.) And random mutation is noise, and noise destroys (because of information entropy). So you have two subtractions and zero additions of information with Neo-Darwinism.

Every single genetic algorithm that exists requires pre-programmed goals in order to work. None operate from pure randomness and undirected selection. They ALWAYS sneak in some form of design. Always.
Have you ever noticed that the software on your computer never gets better by itself?
Have you ever noticed that no software in history has ever gotten better by itself?
Nothing evolves before being programmed to do so.
Thus evolution itself makes the strongest case yet of a Grand Design.

Whether you’re creating codes or adapting them to new circumstances, you must create new rules. The only thing we know of that creates or re-creates codes is volitional beings. In all man-made systems, the only thing that makes them evolve is . . . intelligence.” Codes are not matter and they’re not energy. Codes don’t come from matter, nor do they come from energy. Codes are information, and information is in a category by itself.

"All *life forms* definitely must have an enormous amount of information to keep all their structures functioning."

1. No information can exist without a code.

2. No code can exist without a free and deliberate convention.

3. No information can exist without the five hierarchical levels:
statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and apobetics.

4. No information can exist in purely statistical processes.

5. No information can exist without a transmitter.

6. No information chain can exist without a mental origin.

7. No information can exist without an initial mental source;
that is, information is, by its nature, a mental and not a material quantity.

8. No information can exist without a will.

These theorems are similar to the laws of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics, in that no counterexample has 'ever' been found.

A typical gene contains over one thousand precisely arranged bases. For any specific arrangement of four nucleotide bases of length n, there is a corresponding number of possible arrangements of bases, 4n. For any protein, there are 20n possible arrangements of protein-forming amino acids. A gene 999 bases in length represents one of 4^999 possible nucleotide sequences; a protein of 333 amino acids is one of 20^333 possibilities. 1

Since the 1960s, some biologists have thought functional proteins to be rare among the set of possible amino acid sequences. Some have used an analogy with human language to illustrate why this should be the case. Denton (1986, 309-311), for example, has shown that meaningful words and sentences are extremely rare among the set of possible combinations of English letters, especially as sequence length grows. (The ratio of meaningful 12-letter words to 12-letter sequences is 1/10^14, the ratio of 100-letter sentences to possible 100-letter strings is 1/10^100.) Further, Denton shows that most meaningful sentences are highly isolated from one another in the space of possible combinations, so that random substitutions of letters will, after a very few changes, inevitably degrade meaning. Apart from a few closely clustered sentences accessible by random substitution, the overwhelming majority of meaningful sentences lie, probabilistically speaking, beyond the reach of random search.

DNA- how did it originate?

Brian Bergeron : saying that triplet codon sequences come about by spontaneous chemical reactions is false, as they have only been shown to come about through the processes which already exists in the cell. To say that the genetic code came about because of the chemical properties of these particular molecules is also false and shows a basic lack in an understanding of chemistry. You cannot attribute the functional language of the genetic code to chemistry and more then you could attribute the properties of ink and paper to the meaningful sentences on a page or the properties of electrons and switches to the rise of function binary code. It's just plain silly to suggest otherwise.

Another compelling evidence of God is the complex blueprint contained in the DNA of life as simple as a single celled organism. Those biological instructions, blueprints for proteins and functional cell organization, cannot be attributed to random molecular collisions. DNA, the basis of all organic life, is an instruction set. It is the common denominator of all of living beings on earth. How did this enormously complex information come to be, for even the most primitive single celled organisms?  - (Video) DNA is information, like software code - information comes only from intelligence. Even the lowest form of life, a single celled organism, is guided by the enormously complex information in DNA. (Video) The Programming of Life - good debate on DNA as information,8599,2119636,00.html  

   "All living cells that we know of on this planet are DNA software-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions." - Craig Ventner, PhD, University of California

By: Casey Luskin Evolution News & Views October 4, 2007 In September, 2007, I posted a link to a YouTube video where Richard Dawkins was asked to explain the origin of genetic information, according to Darwinism. I also posted a link to Dawkins' rebuttal to the video, where he purports to explain the origin of genetic information according to Darwinian evolution. The question posed to Dawkins was, "Can you give an example of a genetic mutation or evolutionary process that can be seen to increase the information in the genome?" Dawkins famously commented that the question was "the kind of question only a creationist would ask . . ." Dawkins writes, "In my anger I refused to discuss the question further, and told them to stop the camera." Dawkins' highly emotional response calls into question whether he is capable of addressing this issue objectively. This will be a response assessing Dawkins' answer to "The Information Challenge."

Before self replication, natural selection by definition does not exist.

We wish Lonsdale and his researchers luck. They will need it. There can be no natural selection without reproduction, the teams all realize. "If life started as RNA world, somewhere, somehow, the molecules making up RNA had to be reproduced." So if natural selection is out, what remains?

Selection pressure cannot select nucleotides at the digital programming level where primary structures form. Genomes predetermine the phenotypes which natural selection only secondarily favors. Contentions that offer nothing more than long periods of time offer no mechanism of explanation for the derivation of genetic programming. No new informationis provided by such tautologies. The argument simply says it happened. As such, it is nothing more than blind belief. Science must provide rational theoretical mechanism, empirical support, prediction fulfillment, or some combination of these three. If none of these three are available, science should reconsider that molecular evolution of genetic cybernetics is a proven fact and press forward with new research approaches which are not obvious at this time.

The probability of useful DNA, RNA, or proteins occurring by chance is extremely small. Calculations vary somewhat but all are extremely small (highly improbable). If one is to assume a hypothetical prebiotic soup to start there are at least three combinational hurdles (requirements) to overcome. Each of these requirements decreases the chance of forming a workable protein. First, all amino acids must form a chemical bond (peptide bond) when joining with other amino acids in the protein chain. Assuming, for example a short protein molecule of 150 amino acids, the probability of building a 150 amino acids chain in which all linkages are peptide linkages would be roughly 1 chance in 10^45. The second requirement is that functioning proteins tolerate only left-handed amino acids, yet in abiotic amino acid production the right-handed and left-handed isomers are produced in nearly the same frequency. The probability of building a 150-amino-acid chain at random in which all bonds are peptide bonds and all amino acids are L-form is roughly 1 chance in 10^90. The third requirement for functioning proteins is that the amino acids must link up like letters in a meaningful sentence, i.e. in a functionally specified sequential arrangement. The chance for this happening at random for a 150 amino acid chain is approximately 1 chance in 10^195. It would appear impossible for chance to build even one functional protein considering how small the likelihood is. By way of comparison to get a feeling of just how low this probability is consider that there are only 10^65 atoms in our galaxy..

For, under such "infinite monkey" circumstances , searches based on random walks from arbitrary initial configurations will be maximally unlikely to find such isolated islands of function. As the crowd-source Wikipedia summarises (in testimony against its ideological interest compelled by the known facts):

The text of Hamlet contains approximately 130,000 letters. Thus there is a probability of one in 3.4 × 10^183,946 to get the text right at the first trial. The average number of letters that needs to be typed until the text appears is also 3.4 × 10^183,946, or including punctuation, 4.4 × 10^360,783.

Even if the observable universe were filled with monkeys typing from now until the heat death of the universe, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one in 10^183,800. As Kittel and Kroemer put it, “The probability of Hamlet is therefore zero in any operational sense of an event…”, and the statement that the monkeys must eventually succeed “gives a misleading conclusion about very, very large numbers.” This is from their textbook on thermodynamics, the field whose statistical foundations motivated the first known expositions of typing monkeys.


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George L.G. Miklos (1993)

Natural selection tells us absolutely nothing about underlying mechanisms of genomic changes, or their consequences on developmental changes which lead to evolutionary innovations. In short, it is silent about the emergence of complex forms.

Bernd-Olaf Küppers, Information and the Origin of Life (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990), 170-72

The RNA world hypothesis has not solved the problem of the origin of life or the origin of biological information. The "direct templating" model of the origin of the genetic code fails to explain both the origin of the code and the origin of sequence-specific genetic information.

Paul Davies once said;

How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software … ? Nobody knows …
… there is no known law of physics able to create information from nothing.

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Materialism Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code. Intelligent Design is a More Reasonable Explanation 1

Materialism cannot explain the origin of the genetic code. The probability that the necessary chemical reactions could occur through the unguided working of physical laws is too low. No one who has investigated the problem believes there is a satisfactory explanation of how life or the genetic code could arise through natural means. For the genetic code to work, there has to be a semiotic system to use DNA or RNA to represent the sequence of amino acids in each protein and there has to be a cybernetic system to produce the machinery that uses the genetic code to produce proteins. This requires: The development of the code whereby each possible triplet of nucleotides represents an amino acid. The determination of the sequence of amino acids for each protein that is to be produced. The creation of the specific genes (molecules of DNA or maybe RNA) that use the triplet code to specify the proteins. The many tRNAs, one for each triplet, and the amino acids and enzymes that combine amino acids and tRNA.

All of this has to come into existence at the same time because:

The parts are not useful individually. But paradoxically, according to materialism these parts are the information and machinery that is needed to produce itself. Furthermore, the genetic code is finely tuned to reduce the effects of point mutations and there is no explanation as to how the genetic code could evolve from something simpler, something less finely tuned. Any change in the genetic code would be catastrophic because it would effect every gene. It would be like changing every letter "n" to the letter "p" in an entire book. It would create so many "misspellings" for an organism that it is impossible that it could survive. Evolving from a double code to a triplet code would require simultaneous changes in every codon in every gene and in all the tRNAs and the mechanism that moves the mRNA with respect to the ribosome during protein synthesis. All these parts have to be produced in the correct numbers and arranged in a configuration where they will work together. These factors all contribute to the impossibly low probability of the genetic code arising through the unguided action of natural forces, chance, self assembly, and/or evolution. However, we know there is a phenomenon that can create semiotic and cybernetic systems that would otherwise have no chance of arising through natural processes. This phenomenon is intelligence. Therefore it is reasonable to suppose that the genetic code was created by an intelligence. This is not a "god of the gaps" argument. It is the same mode of logic, "like phenomena have like causes"8, whereby the measurement of gravity on earth leads to the conclusion that gravity causes the planets to orbit the sun. It is the same mode of logic used by many early naturalists, such as geologist Charles Lyell, to explain phenomena that occurred in the remote past by identifying causes known to be effective in the present time. Additionally, you don't need evidence of who the intelligence was to make this supposition. If a NASA space craft found machinery on Mars, we would not think that the machinery arose naturally just because there were no Martians around who could have made it. The existence of machinery that could not arise naturally is sufficient to conclude the existence of an intelligent maker.

However, the belief that naturalism can explain something that current science says is impossible is a "god of the gaps" argument. Our current understanding of chemistry and the conditions on the early earth says there is no good natural explanation for the origin of life and the genetic code.1 To disregard science and maintain faith in naturalism is a "god of the gaps" argument. To paraphrase the Nobel prize winning neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles: Promissory materialism is superstition.

Dr. Kofahl, a chemist, observes:

   ‘A good example of alleged molecular homology is afforded by the a- and b-hemoglobin molecules of land vertebrates including man.  These supposedly are homologous with an ancestral myoglobin molecule similar to human myoglobin.  Two a- and two b-hemoglobin associate together to form the marvellous human hemoglobin molecule that carries oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood.  But myoglobin acts as single molecules to transport oxygen in our muscles.  Supposedly, the ancient original myoglobin molecules slowly evolved along two paths until the precisely designed a- and b-hemoglobin molecules resulted that function only when linked together in groups of four to work in the blood in a much different way under very different conditions from myoglobin in the muscle cells.  What we have today in modern myoglobin and hemoglobin molecules are marvels of perfect designs for special, highly demanding tasks.  Is there any evidence that intermediate, half-evolved molecules could have served useful functions during this imaginary evolutionary change process, or that any creature could survive with them in its blood?  There is no such information.  Modern vertebrates can tolerate very little variation in these molecules.  Thus, the supposed evolutionary history of the allegedly homologous globin molecules is a fantasy, not science.’ 2


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Furthermore, natural selection cannot operate until biological reproducing units exist. This hoped for “law,” though, has no basis in fact nor does it even have a theoretical basis. It is a nebulous concept which results from a determination to continue the quest for a naturalistic explanation of life.

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Progressive development of the genetic code is not realistic

In view of the many components involved in implementing the genetic code, origin-of-life researchers have tried to see how it might have arisen in a gradual, evolutionary, manner. For example, it is usually suggested that to begin with the code applied to only a few amino acids, which then gradually increased in number. But this sort of scenario encounters all sorts of difficulties with something as fundamental as the genetic code.

First, it would seem that the early codons need have used only two bases (which could code for up to 16 amino acids); but a subsequent change to three bases (to accommodate 20) would seriously disrupt the code. Recognising this difficulty, most researchers assume that the code used 3-base codons from the outset; which was remarkably fortuitous or implies some measure of foresight on the part of evolution (which, of course, is not allowed).

Much more serious are the implications for proteins based on a severely limited set of amino acids. In particular, if the code was limited to only a few amino acids, then it must be presumed that early activating enzymes comprised only that limited set of amino acids, and yet had the necessary level of specificity for reliable implementation of the code. There is no evidence of this; and subsequent reorganization of the enzymes as they made use of newly available amino acids would require highly improbable changes in their configuration. Similar limitations would apply to the protein components of the ribosomes which have an equally essential role in translation.

Further, tRNAs tend to have atypical bases which are synthesized in the usual way but subsequently modified. These modifications are carried out by enzymes, so these enzymes too would need to have started life based on a limited number of amino acids; or it has to be assumed that these modifications are later refinements - even though they appear to be necessary for reliable implementation of the code.

Finally, what is going to motivate the addition of new amino acids to the genetic code? They would have little if any utility until incorporated into proteins - but that will not happen until they are included in the genetic code. So the new amino acids must be synthesised and somehow incorporated into useful proteins (by enzymes that lack them), and all of the necessary machinery for including them in the code (dedicated tRNAs and activating enzymes) put in place – and all done opportunistically! Totally incredible!

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The “Wow! signal” of the terrestrial genetic code

Title: Creation of the Genetic Code

Here's a new paper that can be added to the growing stack of intelligent-design articles in peer-reviewed journals. Even though the authors do not use the phrase "intelligent design," their reasoning centers on the detection of an intelligent signal embedded in the genetic code -- a mathematical and semantic message that cannot be accounted for by a natural cause, "be it Darwinian, Lamarckian," chemical affinities or energetics, or any other.

Blog of the authors

Genomic DNA is already used on Earth to store non-biological information. Though smaller in capacity, but stronger in noise immunity is the genetic code. The code is a flexible mapping between codons and amino acids, and this flexibility allows modifying the code artificially. But once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature, if that conforms to biological and thermodynamic requirements. As the actual scenario for the origin of terrestrial life is far from being settled, the proposal that it might have been seeded intentionally cannot be ruled out. A statistically strong intelligent-like “signal” in the genetic code is then a testable consequence of such scenario. Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10–13). The patterns are profound to the extent that the code mapping itself is uniquely deduced from their algebraic representation. The signal displays readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries. Besides, extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to any natural origin.

From there, the authors explore a number of fascinating patterns they find in the genetic code itself  -- i.e., the relationship between the base pairs of DNA and the 20 amino acids. They are driven to the conclusion of design not only by what they observe, but also "by the fact that how the code came to be apparently non-random and nearly optimized remains disputable and highly speculative." This reasoning is similar to Stephen Meyer's in Signature in the Cell in which all the possible natural causes for a phenomenon were considered before inferring design.

The signal of intelligent origin, they reasoned, was strong because both arithmetic and ideographic signals are apparent, both using the same symbolic language. They predicted that a signal, if it exists, should be robust from modification. They did their best to avoid arbitrariness, considering what natural causes could be available to explain their findings. They identified two dimensionless integers -- redundancy of codons and number of nucleons in the amino acid set -- as "ostensive numerals" forming the basis of the signal, showing in detail how the patterns in those numerals satisfy the conditions for intelligent signals.

Considerations of brevity prohibit giving a complete analysis of their arguments, but let an example suffice. Of the 20 amino acids, only proline holds its side chain with two bonds, and has one less hydrogen in its block. The effect of this is to "standardize" the code to a 73 + 1 block nucleon number. Yet the distinction between block and chain is "purely formal," they argue, since there is no stage in amino acid synthesis where the block and side chain are detached.

Therefore, there is no any [sic] natural reason why nucleon transfer in proline; it can be stimulated only in the mind of a recipient to achieve the array of amino acids with uniform structure. Such nucleon transfer thus appears artificial. However, exactly, this seems to be its destination: it protects the patterns from any natural explanation. Minimizing the chances for appealing to natural origin is a distinct concern of messaging of such kind, and this problem seems to be solved perfectly for the signal in the genetic code. Applied systematically without exceptions, the artificial transfer in proline enables holistic and precise order in the code. Thus, it acts as an "activation key". While nature deals with the actual proline which does not produce the signal in the code, an intelligent recipient easily finds the key and reads messages in arithmetical language....

In addition, they find a decimal system including zero (via stop codons), and many other fascinating signs of intelligent origin. They examine possible criticisms, such as the claim that the patterns could be due to unknown natural causes:

But this criterion is equivalent to asking if it is possible at all to embed informational patterns into the code so that they could be unequivocally interpreted as an intelligent signature. The answer seems to be yes, and one way to do so is to make patterns virtual, not actual. Exactly that is observed in the genetic code. Strict balances and decimal syntax appear only with the application of the "activation key".

In effect, the proline nucleon transfer is like a decoder ring that makes the signal apparent and all the blocks balance out. Some other signs of artificiality are the fact that nucleon sums are multiples of 037; the stop codons act as zero in a decimal system, and all the three-digit decimals (111, 222, 333, 444, 555, 666, 777, 888, and 999) appear at least once in the code, "which also looks like an intentional feature."

Could these patterns be due to selection or any other natural process? Could they be mere "epiphenomena" of chemical pressures for mass equalities, or something else?

But it is hardly imaginable how a natural process can drive mass distribution in abstract representations of the code where codons are decomposed into bases or contracted by redundancy.... no natural process can drive mass distribution to produce the balance ... amino acids and syntactic signs that make up this balance are entirely abstract since they are produced by translation of a string read across codons.

Even more convincing, no natural cause can produce semantics -- particularly the kind involving "interpretive or linguistic semantics peculiar to intelligence," they write. "Exactly the latter kind of semantics is revealed in the signal of the genetic code." Here's a summary of the patterns they conclude show design:

In total, not only the signal itself reveals intelligent-like features -- strict nucleon equalities, their distinctive decimal notation, logical transformations accompanying the equalities, the symbol of zero and semantic symmetries, but the very method of its extraction involves abstract operations -- consideration of idealized (free and unmodified) molecules, distinction between their blocks and chains, the activation key, contraction and decomposition of codons. We find that taken together all these aspects point at artificial nature of the patterns.

What's most notable about this paper is the similarity in design reasoning between the authors and the more familiar advocates of intelligent design theory. No appeals to religion or religious texts; no identifying the designer; just logical reasoning from effect to sufficient cause.

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In this paper however we will present seve
ral other harmonic structures such that
they altogether show that the genetic code is a kind of harmonic system.
Thereby, the harmonicity itself represents a specific unity and coherence of
physico-chemical properties of amino acid
(AA) molecules and of the number of
atoms and/or nucleons in them (in the form of typical balances)

From the presented facts and given discussion in previous eight sections
follows that it make sense to speak about genetic code as a harmonic system. On
the other side, presented harmonic structures which appear as the unity and
coherence of form (atom and nucleon number balances) and essence
(physicochemical properties) provide evidence to support the hypothesis, given
in a previous paper (Rakočević 2004), that genetic code was complete from the
very beginning as the condition for origin and evolution of the life.

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Fazale Rana, Cell's design, page 182

the genetic code originated at the time when life first appeared on Earth. And, it must have been deliberately programmed. No matter how much time there might have been, the code's complexity makes it virtually impossible that natural selection could have stumbled upon it by accident. Such elaborate rules require forethought and painstaking effort. The message they carry adds an important piece to the analogy that logically compels a Creator's existence and role in life's origin and history

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How did the DNA code originate? The code is a sophisticated language system with letters and words where the meaning of the words is unrelated to the chemical properties of the letters—just as the information on this page is not a product of the chemical properties of the ink (or pixels on a screen). What other coding system has existed without intelligent design? How did the DNA coding system arise without it being created?

How could mutations—accidental copying mistakes (DNA ‘letters’ exchanged, deleted or added, genes duplicated, chromosome inversions, etc.)—create the huge volumes of information in the DNA of living things? How could such errors create 3 billion letters of DNA information to change a microbe into a microbiologist? There is information for how to make proteins but also for controlling their use—much like a cookbook contains the ingredients as well as the instructions for how and when to use them. One without the other is useless.

Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful. But how can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible?

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 Unguided Chemical Processes Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code

Let's assume that a primordial sea filled with life's building blocks did exist on the early Earth, and somehow it formed proteins and other complex organic molecules. Theorists believe that the next step in the origin of life is that -- entirely by chance -- more and more complex molecules formed until some began to self-replicate. From there, they believe Darwinian natural selection took over, favoring those molecules that were better able to make copies of themselves. Eventually, they assume, it was inevitable that these molecules would evolve complex machinery -- like that used in today's genetic code -- to survive and reproduce.
Have modern origin-of-life theorists explained how this crucial bridge from inert nonliving chemicals to self-replicating molecular systems took place? The most prominent hypothesis for the origin of the first life is called the "RNA world." In living cells, genetic information is carried by DNA, and most cellular functions are carried out by proteins. However, RNA is capable of both carrying genetic information and catalyzing some biochemical reactions. As a result, some theorists postulate the first life might have used RNA alone to fulfill all these functions.
But there are many problems with this hypothesis.
For one, the first RNA molecules would have to arise by unguided, non-biological chemical processes. But RNA is not known to assemble without the help of a skilled laboratory chemist intelligently guiding the process. New York University chemist Robert Shapiro critiqued the efforts of those who tried to make RNA in the lab, stating: "The flaw is in the logic -- that this experimental control by researchers in a modern laboratory could have been available on the early Earth."15
Second, while RNA has been shown to perform many roles in the cell, there is no evidence that it could perform all the necessary cellular functions currently carried out by proteins.16
Third, the RNA world hypothesis does not explain the origin of genetic information.
RNA world advocates suggest that if the first self-replicating life was based upon RNA, it would have required a molecule between 200 and 300 nucleotides in length.17 However, there are no known chemical or physical laws that dictate the order of those nucleotides.18 To explain the ordering of nucleotides in the first self-replicating RNA molecule, materialists must rely on sheer chance. But the odds of specifying, say, 250 nucleotides in an RNA molecule by chance is about 1 in 10150 -- below the universal probability boundary, or events which are remotely possible to occur within the history of the universe.19 Shapiro puts the problem this way: 
The sudden appearance of a large self-copying molecule such as RNA was exceedingly improbable. ... [The probability] is so vanishingly small that its happening even once anywhere in the visible universe would count as a piece of exceptional good luck.20
Fourth -- and most fundamentally -- the RNA world hypothesis does not explain the origin of the genetic code itself. In order to evolve into the DNA / protein-based life that exists today, the RNA world would need to evolve the ability to convert genetic information into proteins. However, this process of transcription and translation requires a large suite of proteins and molecular machines -- which themselves are encoded by genetic information. This poses a chicken-and-egg problem, where essential enzymes and molecular machines are needed to perform the very task that constructs them.
The Chicken and the DVD
To appreciate this problem, consider the origin of the first DVD and DVD player. DVDs are rich in information, but without the machinery of a DVD player to read the disk, process its information, and convert it into a picture and sound, the disk would be useless. But what if the instructions for building the first DVD player were only found encoded on a DVD? You could never play the DVD to learn how to build a DVD player. So how did the first disk and DVD player system arise? The answer is obvious: a goal directed process -- intelligent design -- is required to produce both the player and the disk at the same time.
In living cells, information-carrying molecules (e.g. DNA or RNA) are like the DVD, and the cellular machinery which reads that information and converts it into proteins are like the DVD player. Just like the DVD analogy, genetic information can never be converted into proteins without the proper machinery. Yet in cells, the machines required for processing the genetic information in RNA or DNA are encoded by those same genetic molecules -- they perform and direct the very task that builds them.
This system cannot exist unless both the genetic information and transcription / translation machinery are present at the same time, and unless both speak the same language. Biologist Frank Salisbury explained this problem in a paper in American Biology Teacher not long after the workings of the genetic code were first uncovered:
It's nice to talk about replicating DNA molecules arising in a soupy sea, but in modern cells this replication requires the presence of suitable enzymes. ... [T]he link between DNA and the enzyme is a highly complex one, involving RNA and an enzyme for its synthesis on a DNA template; ribosomes; enzymes to activate the amino acids; and transfer-RNA molecules. ... How, in the absence of the final enzyme, could selection act upon DNA and all the mechanisms for replicating it? It's as though everything must happen at once: the entire system must come into being as one unit, or it is worthless. There may well be ways out of this dilemma, but I don't see them at the moment.21
Despite decades of work, origin-of-life theorists are still at a loss to explain how this system arose. In 2007, Harvard chemist George Whitesides was given the Priestley Medal, the highest award of the American Chemical Society. During his acceptance speech, he offered this stark analysis, reprinted in the respected journal, Chemical and Engineering News:
The Origin of Life. This problem is one of the big ones in science. It begins to place life, and us, in the universe. Most chemists believe, as do I, that life emerged spontaneously from mixtures of molecules in the prebiotic Earth. How? I have no idea.22
Similarly, the aforementioned article in Cell Biology International concludes: "New approaches to investigating the origin of the genetic code are required. The constraints of historical science are such that the origin of life may never be understood."23 That is, they may never be understood unless scientists are willing to consider goal-directed scientific explanations like intelligent design.
But there is a much deeper problem with theories of chemical evolution, as well as biological evolution. This pertains not just to the ability to process genetic information via a genetic code, but the origin of that information itself.

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Self-organization and Emergence in Life Sciences,  Bernard Feltz, Marc Crommelinck, Philippe, page 36 

The sequence on a string of DNA is not determined by the laws that govern the physical and chemical properties of DNA. If it was so, the string could not contain any information (Polanyi  1968). For DNA to work as carrier of genetic information, it was necessary that this molecule acquire the capability to change its sequence arbitrarily. It is only statistically that DNA contains A, T, G, C in equal proportion. In this respect, DNA is unique among molecules to conserve its physico-chemical properties when its sequence changes. In other words, the genetic information is irreducible to the physico-chemistry of DNA. Strings of DNA can function as symbols, which can be used by Nature (and interpreted by us) without any further regard for its physical or chemical basis. It may be true that quantum mechanics could, in principle, be used to derive many properties of the DNA molecules (molecular weight, denaturation temperature...). In that sense, reduction would have been achieved. However, there is nothing from chemistry or physics that can be used to derive the function of DNA. This function is irreducible. 

Similarly, Darwinism is independent of string theory. It is unlikely that any further discovery in particle Physics will make biologists change their mind about evolutionary theory (as Weinberg 1993 admits). Returning to the analogy with the Game of Life, one could imagine that new laws are discovered that would explain the transition rule as deducible from a lower level. This would not change our way to understand the dynamics of LIFE at higher levels. For a biologist, the only thing required from the physical world is to allow life. If one think of life as a class of systems (as opposed as a unique, local phenomenon; see Langton), then several physical universes would be compatible with life. Basically, these universes should allow natural selection to work, and many universes could do that. Hence, knowing more about particle physics will not help to understand more about biology (or meteorology, for that matter). 

Living systems are underdetermined by physical laws. The problem is not that Physics might still be incomplete (nor that Biology might be incomplete, however unlikely). Let’s now look at another problem with the alleged reduction of Biology to Physics: the fact that Biologists have described laws that do not belong to Physics (but which are, of course, compatible with it). At the heart of Biology lies the theory of evolution by natural selection, and natural selection can be seen as a universal law (Reed 1981; Dawkins 1983; Bauchau 1993). It states that a trait distribution will inevitably change from generation to generation whenever the following conditions are met: the trait affects reproduction rate, is (at least partly) heritable, and varies among individuals. Besides species, this law also applies to RNA molecules in vitro or to computer programs. Natural selection is both a fundamental law (as fundamental, at least for living organisms, as the standard model of particles) and a law unknown to Physics. It is probably the best example and a very important one, considering the central position of natural selection in Biology, but other potential laws could be listed, although their status is less well established. The existence of these autonomous laws is a consequence of (and evidence for) the irreducibility of living processes to physical laws.

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