Biological Information: The Puzzle of Life that Darwinism Hasn’t Solved

Stephen C. Meyer

Today’s New York Times features an article by science writer Nicholas Wade highlighting what Wade calls “surprising advances [that] have renewed confidence that a terrestrial explanation for life’s origins will eventually emerge.”

Yet the scientists quoted in the article fail to address the fundamental issue that has generated the longstanding impasse in the field: the problem of the origin of biological information.

Wade describes the various developments in pre-biotic chemistry that are making some scientists more optimistic about solving the problem of the origin of life. Yet, the central problem facing them is not the synthesis of pre-biotic building blocks or even discovering an environment in which life might have plausibly arisen–difficult as these problems have proven to be. Instead, the fundamental problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the large information-bearing molecules (such as DNA and RNA) that direct the show in living cells.

Even the experiments of Gerald Joyce that Wade describes do not address this problem. The “self-replicating” RNA molecules that Joyce constructs are not capable of copying a template of information from free standing chemical subunits as the polymerase machinery does in actual cells. Instead, in Joyce’s experiment, a pre-synthesized specifically-sequenced RNA molecule merely catalyzes a single chemical bond, thus fusing two other pre-synthesized partial RNA chains. More significantly, Joyce intelligently arranged the matching base sequences in these RNA chains. Thus, as my forthcoming book Signature in the Cell shows, Joyce’s experiments not only demonstrate that self-replication itself depends upon information-rich molecules, but they also confirm that intelligent design is the only known means by which information arises.

Stephen C. Meyer

Director, Center for Science and Culture
Dr. Stephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the philosophy of science. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He is author of the New York Times-bestseller Darwin’s Doubt (2013) as well as the book Signature in the Cell (2009) and The Return of the God Hypothesis (forthcoming in 2020). In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CBS's Sunday Morning, NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, and the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top-national media.

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