DNA and Body Building
By: Jim Virkler
Among many concerns with the truth of the evolutionary paradigm is the reality of building a new species. If evolution is true, new species made their initial appearance countless times in the history of earth life. New genetic information was necessary to produce a new species, replacing older genetic information.
Molecules of DNA are present in virtually each cell of every living creature. In living organisms the double helical structure of DNA contains four chemical bases called nucleotides. These are adenine, (abbreviated A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). A and T are always paired and positioned opposite each other on the double helix as are C and G. The strands of the helix are made of sugar and phosphate molecules on which the AT and CG base pairs are affixed like rungs on a ladder.
Each base pair, together with the sugar and phosphate molecules, is called a nucleotide. There are three billion nucleotides in every human cell. They function as a digital alphabetic code. The ATs and CGs could be represented as digital 0s or 1s. There is no limit to the length or order of the digital code. The code conveys information. Nucleotides in a certain order may function like letters and words in an intelligible alphabetic text. The “words” formed direct that a certain protein should be constructed from amino acids within the cell. In just one cell there is coding information to construct up to 50,000 proteins (complex molecules) found in the human body. The DNA code which directs manufacture of the proteins exists in several hundred thousand base pairs.
Proteins are building blocks of life forms and have other diverse functions such as processing information and catalyzing reactions. Each species is composed of a huge assemblage of proteins coded for by DNA. There may be as many as 10 million different proteins known among the millions of species of living organisms.
We ask readers to contemplate how naturalistic evolutionary processes could produce meaningful new DNA code patterns. Evolutionary processes able to produce new proteins of coherent and viable new life forms is a scenario of astonishing incredibility. What sort of mutation could appropriately alter the DNA code to produce a viable new species? Recall that mutation degrades and destroys genetic material. Altered DNA resulting from mutation cannot produce a fundamentally new and viable organism.
The second phrase of our post title suggests a different avenue of exploration in the process of body building—the wonder of origin and reproduction of life forms. We may illustrate the concept this way: In a new building construction project, the builder could assemble all of the raw materials on the building lot site before any construction begins. The builder also has in hand the building blueprint and manuals for detailed assembly instructions. The analogy in genetics is the potential of the many thousands of protein building blocks needed before actual assembly of the living body begins. The embryo is the location of the blueprint: Assembly instructions are stored there before the body building begins.
DNA, therefore, does not accomplish all the work of body building. It is, however, the coding plan for manufacture of all the raw materials which compose living creatures. The information for body building is stored in fertilized embryos. Our body building discovery process is just beginning. Using a community building project analogy once more: we may study the complete catalog of construction materials listed in the builders’ handbook. But we may be more fascinated observing the actual construction process. We link one post from our previous series on prenatal human development:
We close with a majestic verse from Psalms: “How many living things you have made, O LORD! You have exhibited great skill in making all of them. The earth is full of the living things you have made.” (Psalm 104:24 NET Bible)
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.