Cornelius Hunter is a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, and earned his Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois. At his blog today, I noticed that he offered an argument for life’s probable design that I had not seen before, and it struck me as a pretty good one. At the very least, it raised questions in my own mind. Here it is:
[T]he same DNA code is found in all species. And that code is so efficient it is sometimes labeled as ‘optimal.’ . . . The near universality of the code means it was present in evolution’s purported universal common ancestor. It would be too unlikely (even for evolutionists) for the identical unique code to have evolved independently in the different evolutionary branches, so it must have been present from the very beginning. In other words, evolutionists must explain the universality of the code as arising from a common ancestor, not from the repeated evolution of the code. If that is true, then evolutionists must say that evolution somehow created such an efficient code very early in the history of life. But evolutionists typically refer to these early stages of life as elementary, inefficient, crude and so forth. For instance, in their abiogenesis narrative evolutionists often appeal to “crude” chemical processes to account for the variation in replication they need. But if life was elementary and crude, how did such an optimal code arise—a code that is remarkably suited for the more advanced cells that had not even yet arisen? Furthermore, the fact that the DNA code is so efficient means that evolution performed a tremendous search operation. Only by creating an abundance of such codes could such a good one be found. Remember, evolution is a blind process. But while evolution must be very adept at creating new codes, it must paradoxically also be unable to create new codes. The code must be frozen, otherwise it would not be universally shared amongst the species. So evolutionists must say that at one time evolution was adept at evolving the code, but later it became inept at evolving the code.
In other words, there are two big issues here:
- The ealiest DNA code would seem to be efficient in excess of the demands of the first cells, for that very same code also proved itself more than sufficient to the demands of all the more complex cells that arrived later
- There must have been intense selection pressure placed upon the code early on, and then once an optimum was reached, the selection pressure stopped and all competing codes simply died away
But wouldn’t the Earth, in its early stages of evolution, have been something like Australia (that is, an uncrowded world)? In other words, wouldn’t the Earth have been a place with lots of open spaces for organisms to avoid direct competition with others? In such a world, how did the code face so intense a competition with variations, and reach its optimal state so relatively fast and efficiently, and then hold itself steady for so long (that is, all the way to us)?
Does anyone know of a good atheist biologist’s response to this early DNA code optimization puzzle? How, exactly, did such an optimal code find it’s way into the earliest life, and then basically stop evolving from there? It sounds to me like a more than fair question.