A Code Requires a Code Maker
When I pick up a small piece of folded paper from the sidewalk, unfold and read it, I know that it was written by another human. A short message in English found in such a manner could be a shopping list or a love letter.
Such a note could be described as a code; in fact it is. It is a sequential listing of the 26 letters from the English Alphabet which can be used in infinite combinations to form intelligible words. Behind the code I know there was a code maker. Someone wrote the message.
Can I reason by analogy that the code for life, DNA, which contains the information necessary to direct the formation of a living organism, must also have a code maker?
Surely the architect for the universe could have said to himself, "Today I will write the instructions to make a dog." He could have picked up his pen and, using the four letter code of neucleotide sequences, could have written the code for "dog."
But that does not seem to have been the method of creation for the common household dog. (Or any other living thing.) Science has shown that life as we know it today has evolved over the eons of time. The code has changed as species have changed. The author of the universe was never in the business of writing code.
How is it possible to have a code without a code maker?
The argument to explain the origin of life by natural causes is basically NOT a very complicated one. It hinges on the idea of a self replicating molecule.
Let us start with a VERY simple model - a mold. Every time I put clay in a mold I replicate the image in the mold. [No one dreams up arguments to show how it is not possible to keep making similar statues from a common mold!]
In the environment elements continually combine themselves through natural processes into molecules. The DNA molecule, once formed, is self replicating.
Picture a box with one DNA molecule and a lot of small molecules that are used to make DNA, then shake the box. Because of the helical SHAPE of the DNA molecule it forms a template to assist the small molecules to mechanically position themselves in just the right orientation that they form chemical bonds. The end result is two DNA molecules. Both are identical. They would continue to replicate till they run out of raw materials and as long as you shake the box.
Now the order of some of the molecules forms a CODE. [There are actually four molecules involved in the code - Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine] In our example the CODE formed would be random. The process of Natural Selection in a real life organism shapes the code.
When one ‘evolves’ bacteria in the lab [as is done every day in biological laboratories across the world], one bombards a sample of millions of bacteria with a radiation [or other method] to randomly rearrange some of the code sequences. In nature cosmic rays and accidents in replication give rise to the code sequence changes. [Some would suggest that it is here that God sometimes fine tunes the process.]
When people are given an antibiotic for a bacterial disease, most of the bacteria die. But a few live who may be more adaptable to their environment. The very few out of millions of bacteria that survive with resistance to the antibiotic, because of code changes, have all of the available resources to replicate because all of their fellow germs are DEAD. This is evolution in action albeit on a small scale.
Of course these processes are somewhat more complicated but this is the gist of the process. These are the facts; people deal with these facts in different ways.
What are the religious implications? To my mind, God organized a world for the emergence and sustenance of life. I think of actors upon a stage. The stage represents the inorganic world. The drama on the stage represents the life of the soul. The mechanism used to create the stage and the actors is irrelevant to the nature of the play. How life emerged, as once postulated through special direct creation, or through interactive formative environmental interactions, does not change the reality that we are currently here.
If you were God would you choose for individual code creation or would you permit the interplay of environmental forces to fashion the emergence of beings who could sustain a high degree of self awareness?
The characteristics of matter seem to be of a different order than the characteristics possessed by a self conscious being. We are as much in the dark as were our forefathers as to when a "soul" enters a vessel that is appropriate for its functioning.