What is the DNA Enigma and Why Does it Support Intelligent Design?

Dr. Stephen Meyer: Well, as we talked about in our last program, DNA encodes digital information. It’s a form of digital nanotechnology. And the information in the DNA directs the construction of the proteins and protein machines that are necessary for the cells to stay alive. And this, I think, has reframed the ancient question about design, because in the 19th century with Darwin’s theory, it was thought that he had explained away all evidence of design. And now we have a striking appearance of design that has no, at this point, naturalistic explanation.

And I think there’s also a positive reason to think that it was designed by an intelligence, but it’s interesting I think for our purposes, at this point, just to acknowledge that this is a huge mystery. I call it the DNA enigma. Richard Dawkins, who denies that there’s any evidence of design, nonetheless has to acknowledge that DNA is full of digital code. He says that “the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” And Bill Gates goes on to say that “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than any we have ever created.” So, what we’re dealing with inside the cell is information. And that a raises a really profound mystery, because we know we need information to build all the important components of the cell. So, if you want to explain the origin of the first cell, the origin of life, you have to account for the origin of information.

And there’s a German scientist named Bernd-Olaf Küppers who acknowledged this connection early on. He said that the question of the origin of life is basically equivalent to the question to the origin of biological information. That makes sense too because I used to ask my students the question, if you want to give your computer a new function, what do you have to give it? And they would know right away, you’ve got to give it code, information, software. And the same thing is true in life; there is a connection between information and new form and function. And if you want to get a functional living organism off the ground, you’ve got to have that information. So that’s the DNA enigma, that’s the big mystery that has to be solved.