DNA Is Not Information

The cell is an amazing thing.  It makes copies of itself. It reads DNA within itself, and builds protein.

Trillions of cells within an organism function in harmony to contribute to the overall system.  It’s amazing really.  It was actually a deeper understanding of the cell that led me to become an atheist.

However, with this amazing complexity comes trouble.  The cell is too complex.  The orchestra of DNA, RNA, enzymes, and hormones makes it hard for a species a half-chromosome away from chimpanzees to understand.  So, we make due with what we have, and our compensation mechanism relies on language.

But there’s a problem with how we use language.

We can say “DNA contains information…”.  It certainly is helpful to frame it like this, because it makes it easier for us to understand it.  Humans have a tough time with complicated things that aren’t happening within our macroscopic level.  We just aren’t “wired” to think that way very well.  So, we use metaphors and analogies.  These are helpful tools to help us gain a better understanding of a complex universe.

It’s easy to get carried away, though.

What we’re prone to do is to follow metaphors and analogies past their point of usefulness.

For instance, information, as we understand it, is a byproduct of human thought, either directly or indirectly.

Therefore, since DNA is information, it must be a byproduct of some other intelligent being’s thought, right?

And boom, we’ve got the fallacy of equivocation.

Worse than that, though, we’ve begged the question, because we’ve assumed that DNA could not have come from natural mechanisms.  Of course, the only evidence we have is that it did come through natural mechanisms.

Where does it leave us when we torture our metaphors like this?  It essentially allows us to live in an abstract fantasy land where we can invent any logical deduction that suits us.  But here’s the thing:  when evidence doesn’t line up with our deductions, what does that say about our deductions?  To me, it says our deductions are wrong.

But the really insidious thing about this abstract fantasy land is that it allows us to deduce things that are unfalsifiable.  There’s simply no way to test them.  It’s the height of intellectual laziness and dishonesty.

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Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

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