Author: Jackson Wheat
January 3, 2020
Hello, everyone. In the last installment, we looked at creationist Kevin Anderson chucking abiogenesis research without ever really discussing it in the AiG article “Three Puzzles Evolution Can’t Solve.” Now, we turn to Brian Catalucci (the airplane pilot with a master’s degree in computer science and engineering) who is going to tell us about genetic “information”. I very much dislike the term “information” being used in a genetic sense because it usually does not mean anything in particular. Creationists cannot quantify genetic information, they cannot point to where it exists in the genome, etc. Catalucci begins his section in exactly the same way.
He says, “Life also requires something intangible—vast amounts of instructions stored in DNA. This is separate and independent from the physical world, yet just as essential for any form of life.” Does life require anything intangible that is separate and independent from the physical world? No… Life needs water (physical and tangible), nutrients to power metabolic processes (physical and tangible), and space to exist (physical and tangible). Is it instructions stored in DNA? Instructions for what? Where are they stored? Between the hydrogen or phosphodiester bonds? Catalucci declines to say. Wonder why.
Catalucci continues, “Where did all the information come from? As far as scientists know, information only comes from preexisting information. So this is one of the most difficult and insoluble puzzles for Darwinian evolution—and one of the most powerful evidences that confirms the biblical account of creation.” That depends on what the definition of “information” is. If information were a physical entity (say protein-coding genes, regulatory sequences, etc.), then I would mostly agree but with exceptions. For example, protein-coding genes can arise from non-coding sequences, called de novo genes. See the 2018 paper “De Novo Gene Evolution of Antifreeze Glycoproteins in Codfishes Revealed by Whole Genome Sequence Data” for instance.
He says, “So what is meant by information? Simply put, information is a conceptual, nonmaterial entity (something that exists) that conveys meaning, which can be used to make something, to do something, or to communicate something.” Oh, that is interesting; however, by this definition, DNA does not qualify as having any information. After all, DNA is a material (a biopolymer) and interacts with enzymes purely through materials (nucleotides). Therefore, all the analogies he makes between electrical systems and DNA are moot.
Catalucci argues that “The only place information can originate is from a higher source of information,” but DNA mutates naturally (unlike computers). These mutations can affect how DNA sequences operate or even increase the amount of DNA in the genome. Computers have no comparable processes. Regardless, he says, “Interestingly, to store, use, or display information in our world, a material medium is needed: a piece of paper to display written words, a schematic to detail the design of a Boeing 747, a DVD to store songs and movies, DNA to record protein instructions, and your brain to know how to drive a car.” But where in the DNA? Catalucci provides a picture with arrows pointing from “4 nucleotides” to “20 amino acids” to “thousands of proteins.” Are the nucleotides the information? How could that be? They are physical entities.
It is the sequence of nucleotides that codes for proteins. It is merely due to the structure of DNA and the enzymes that interact with it that amino acids are produced. There is nothing inherent to DNA that makes it more than a biopolymer. It is composed of nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. These are purely atoms that have particular effects when put into particular molecular arrangements and when interacting with other particular molecules. Creationists demand that DNA have some special characteristics that separates it from other biopolymers, and while it is a fascinating molecule, it is just that: a molecule.
Information in the sense that Catalucci provides does not exist in DNA. As a result, there is no evolutionary puzzle here. There is much data on how DNA changes through generations, but none of that has anything to do with creationism. It is all natural processes. So, the first “puzzle” presented in the article had nothing to do with evolution (abiogenesis), and now, the second “puzzle” also has nothing to do with evolution because its definition necessarily excluded it. Perhaps the third “puzzle” will actually deal with evolution.
“Three Puzzles Evolution Can’t Solve”: https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-against-evolution/three-puzzles-evolution-cant-solve/
“De Novo Gene Evolution of Antifreeze Glycoproteins in Codfishes Revealed by Whole Genome Sequence Data”: https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/35/3/593/4693805