DNA and Windtalkers

by / December 29, 2015

In the 2002 movie “Windtalkers”, Sergeant Joe Enders, played by Nicholas Cage is given this charge: “Protect the code.” It’s World War II and the Marines are using the code for critical tactical communications that they cannot afford to have  intercepted. They’ve developed a unique code that proves to be unbreakable. That’s because it’s double coded.

According to this Wikipedia article,  in a moment of luck mixed with a touch of genius reminiscent of the insight highlighted in “A Beautiful Mind”, Captain Lawrence of the U.S. Army overheard two men speaking in the Choctaw native American language – and had an inspiration for the code. The article gives further details on the “Code Talkers” but the point I want to make is this: The communication employed by the Marines was coded. Coded information always requires someone – an intelligence – to create the code. If that is not obvious, this particular case clarifies things because the communication is double coded – which highlights the intelligence required. It’s quite obvious that there is no process in the universe that can create double coded information without an intelligence behind it.

Consider the complexity of creating and decoding a double coded message. Suppose the word they wanted to communicate was “Plateau”. Plateau may be coded (in English) to the word “horse”. “Horse” would then be translated into the word used in the Choctaw language for horse, which is issuba.1  The process looks something like this:

Plateau > Code word: Horse >Horse re-coded : issuba

Notice the process of mapping meaning to a symbol that takes place. It’s clear to see why this code was unbreakable. Even if they could catch the syllables of the Choctaw words which were spoken (which would have been difficult enough) – the enemy wouldn’t know what those syllables “is-su-ba”  meant. Let’s say the enemy managed to catch the word, they next have to determine the convention used. It’s not English, French, Spanish, etc. They need to figure out the language convention: Choctaw. If they manage to figure that, they  additionally need to  find someone who speaks Choctaw. If you do, you now have the meaning of the word in Choctaw – “horse” but you still haven’t intercepted the message, because the message is still in code. “Horse” isn’t the message, “horse” must be again decoded by an intelligence to retrieve the originally intended message using yet another code. And for that you must have the code. And I’ll say it again because it’s a critical point: Codes are not created by random processes, they are the result of an intelligence. Intelligence is required to create a code, to  encode a message, and to create a process to decode the message.

Clearly coded messages require intelligence. Both to encode and decode. But in fact the need for intelligence goes beyond that. The coder must use a system of pre-defined symbols as the medium by which the coded message is transferred or carried. (And if one does not exist, the communicator must create such a system.) For example on this web page, the system employed is the specially formed black marks  called “letters” used to represent small units of meaning that represent sound. The letters are then formed into a concept by arranging them in the pre-selected units of the code or language, in this case English words. Once the concepts are encoded into words, an intelligence must further arrange the words to communicate something even more complex: a complete message – a phrase conveying meaning. Consider this string of letters and characters:

lb)rah ured(e sy(eir)

It has what appears to be letters arranged into words, but it is meaningless. This is what you get from random processes – Darwinian processes. Now consider the same letters, after being arranged by an intelligence into words – which when strung together with further intelligence,  properly convey meaningful information:

(red hair) (blue eyes)

So an intelligent coder uses the letters of a pre-defined system (or creates one), and superimposes a pre-defined message (in this case hair color, eye color) on those letters by arranging them according to a pre-defined code (or language) such that the component parts (the individual words) communicate the intended message when decoded by the pre-defined code (in this case the code is the English language).  This process of information encoding and decoding is far beyond what random processes alone can achieve. Random processes could not even create a complete set of letters, much less a word or message.

Now consider DNA. DNA is highly complex, very efficient information storage and retrieval system. It contains coded information. There is not a biologist (or any other scientist) in the world that denies these facts. Consider what this means. For DNA to have originated, the following  would have had to have occurred:

1. An intelligent designer had to create a system of symbols to carry the message. In the case of DNA it is a chemical alphabet that scientist represent by the letters ACGT – representing the nucleobases in DNA –  Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine. These function as the letters of an alphabet

2. An intelligent designer had to create a “language” that communicates a message when the 4 letters are arranged in a certain way.

3. An intelligent designer had to arrange the letters in an intelligent, specific ways to encode and transmit the instructions necessary to create chemical words that specify the various traits we see in the many creatures that exist – such traits being things like hair color or eye color.

4. An intelligent designer had create a system capable of decoding the coded message.

On this point of the information bearing properties of DNA, Stephen Meyer, philosopher of science and author of the book “Signature in the Cell” which details this process correctly observes:

“NeoDarwinism and its associated theories of chemical evolution and the like will not be able to survive the biology of the information age, the biology of the 21st century.”2

The random processes claimed for evolution are simply incapable of creating such a system because random processes do not create complex, specific, organized information nor the systems that store such information. Since evolution could not have created DNA, those seriously seeking the truth about the origins of life  are left bereft of any plausible naturalistic explanation. Since evolution is eliminated as an explanation for the origins of life (which Darwinism never provided in the first place3), the only source of such a super complex information storage and retrieval system and  the information contained within – is an intelligence capable of creating them both. In the face of such clearly designed, intelligent systems and complexly coded information, Darwinian random processes and undirected mutations don’t stand a chance. For those seriously seeking the truth, I direct you to a testimony  of the Creator:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139.13-14

As this testimony from the psalms of David shows, the works of the Creator are evident even without knowledge of the complexities of DNA. Truly, those with knowledge of DNA and still denying God are “without excuse.”4


1 Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna, School of Choctaw Language, 2013
http://www.choctawschool.com/vocabulary/vocabulary/for-all-chapters.aspx

2 Stephen Meyer in Lee Strobel’s DVD Documentary “The Case for a Creator”, Illustra Media, 2006

3 Darwinian Evolution cannot operate until life already exists. Thus claims that processes like natural selection created DNA are non-starters since natural selection cannot operate until life (include DNA) already exists. So much for Dawkin’s “intellectual fulfillment”. (Richard Dawkins says evolution allows him to be a “intellectually fulfilled” atheist The Blind Watchmaker (1986), page 6)

4 The Apostle Paul, Romans 1.20


Image: DNA – Public Domain, National Institutes of Health

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Duane Caldwell
Duane holds a B.Sc. in Aeronautics and a M.Div. from Trinity International University. A former pastor, one of his favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 11.9: "...for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Until that day arrives Duane is distressed to see the glory due God given to false ideas like Evolution and the Big Bang. He is likewise distressed to see those deceived into believing that science contradicts the Bible or has solved all problems apart from God. He considers his current ministry to be demonstrating why the Christian worldview is the only true worldview, and why science does not contradict it or the Bible. He blogs on numerous topics touching the faith at Rationalfaith.com.

5 Comment

  1. Excellent article Pastor Caldwell, thank you for writing it. Your message reminds me of all the “hidden manna” in the Bible and the rich symbology the LORD uses to reveal His hidden treasures to us which He intended for us to personally seek out and find. Your article has reignited my enthusiasm for the Word of God. Thanks for “a cup of cold water”.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  2. One last thing Pastor Caldwell, please consider how precious “a cold cup of water” is to a spiritually dry and parched dessert land which we live in today where it’s so easy to become discouraged from being a faithful servant who is supposed to be giving “meat in due season” until His Lord returns.

    May this be our reward at the appointed time:

    Isaiah 35:7-10
    “And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and A WAY, and it shall be called The Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

  3. Thank you for such an incredibly inspiring, enjoyable, and informative article! I am constantly reading similar articles that demonstrate the glory of God and the veracity of His Word through the world of science, so I am surprised that I am just now hearing of you.
    I also share your distress at seeing so many people deceived into believing the falsehoods of the enemy. Yet, there I was, after 6 years (15-21) of being deeply deceived, of hating and arguing with Christians, belittling the Bible and mocking God, I got out of the Navy, moved into the mountains, and God sent someone to my door. Several hours after obscenely cussing her out for leading her sister (my gf) to Christ and asking me if I wanted to know about Jesus, I became a believer while they had gone to Church! (It took some convincing to get them to believe me when they returned as they thought I was just making fun of them!) That was many years ago, and I am still incredibly excited to have been rescued by God from amongst those deceived. That’s why I never feel like anyone is beyond hope.
    Our Creator has obviously gifted you to passionately articulate such wonders of His creation and I hope to read more from you in order to inspire others as well. Thank you.

  4. Hi Mr. Caldwell!

    A couple of problems with your biology I hope you can address for me.

    1. First, the analogy between a coded message and DNA doesn’t quite work.

    2. Next, your characterization of Darwinian natural selection is incomplete.

    3. Last, your characterization of DNA sequences as ‘messages’ that transmit coded instructions is incorrect.

    I’ll expand.

    1. The analogy between coded messages and DNA doesn’t work. As you said, black letters on a screen only mean something because it’s pre-defined. There is no intrinsic meaning in the letter “A,” our brains recognize it. However, we both know that the ATCG are not pre-defined by a mind that reads it, rather it behaves chemically. This is fundamentally different from a predefined notion of the meaning of letters. For example, you could decide that the letter “A” will sound like the letter “O.” However Glutamine cannot behave like thymine, it will always operate according to its chemistry.

    2. Next your understanding of Darwin is wrong. It’s a common misconception that Darwinian processes are random, but they are actually quite consistent. The genetic mutations are random to some extent, but whether or not these mutations are conserved is through the process of natural selection. Natural selection is far from random—it conserves genes that give an advantage to the species, not any old combination. So we will use your example: (red hair) (blue eyes). Let’s assume “(red hair) (blue eyes)” is a gene that helps a creature survive and reproduce while “lb)rah ured(e sy(eir)” is a useless mutation. You are correct that randomizing the characters here might get this useless combination. But keep mutating this combination and you WILL get (red hair) (blue eyes). It’s not always going to happen, and it’s time consuming. However, if (red hair) (blue eyes) is really useful then it will persist by means of natural selection—a non random process.

    3. As said above, DNA sequences are not a code that requires deciphering in the same sense that a cryptic message is. What happens in gene expression is first DNA is transcribed to mRNA. mRNA is messenger RNA. Once again this isn’t a message like the one in the Windtalkers. I’ll explain what happens. mRNA has 64 codons. Codons are portions of mRNA consisting of 3 nucleotides—a combination AUCG’s (U takes the place of T). These codons correspond to one of the 20 amino acids. A molecule called tRNA brings these together. One part of the tRNA has an ‘anticodon’ which corresponds to the codon on the mRNA. So if the codon is AAC, the anticodon is UUG. The other end of the tRNA holds the amino acid that AAC codes for. It codes through forming a loose bond with the anticodon which then adds the amino acid on the other end of the tRNA to a growing polypeptide chain. When the the codons add their amino acids to the chain, the chain spontaneously folds into a protein. Proteins then go out and do all the work carrying out their essential functions. So there’s nothing cryptic here. It does not require intelligence to utilize the information in DNA.

    In summary we will recap using your 4 points:

    A. An intelligent designer had to create a system of symbols to carry the message.
    -We’ve learned that the chemical symbols do not carry a message, but the chemicals themselves ARE the messages. This operates according to chemistry, not by design.

    B. An intelligent designer had to create a “language” that communicates a message when the 4 letters are arranged in a certain way.
    – The elements in the nucleotides aren’t so uncommon, the creation of these chemical compounds does not require intelligent design: it operates according chemical laws.

    C. An intelligent designer had to arrange the letters in an intelligent, specific ways to encode and transmit the instructions necessary to create chemical words that specify the various traits we see in the many creatures that exist
    – We’ve learned that the arrangements of the nucleotides can arise through natural selection. Natural selection is in no way random.

    D. An intelligent designer had create a system capable of decoding the coded message.
    – The message is not coded cryptically. Translation is a well underetood chemical process. There’s no evidence that intelligent design was involved in this mechanism because its operating according chemical laws.

    Am I going wrong, Mr. Caldwell?

  5. Andrew,
    Thanks for your questions. I believe you have missed some key points, so let me try to clear them up for you.
    You state:
    1. “The analogy between a coded message and DNA doesn’t quite work.” I disagree, and so does Stephen C. Meyer who did the seminal work on this, “Signature in the Cell”. He uses that analogy liberally, for example:

    “…at nearly the same time that computer scientists were beginning to develop machine languages, molecular biologists were discovering that living cells had been using something akin to machine code or software all along. To quote the informaiton scientist Hubert Yockey again, “The genetic code is constructed to confront and solve the probems of communication and recording by the same principles found…in modern communicaton and computer codes.” (Signature in the Cell, page 110)

    I don’t think you’ll find many biologists who agree with you on this point. In fact I will go so far as to say that most biologist will disagree with you on this point.

    2. “Your characterization of Darwinian natural selection is incomplete.”
    Who said I was limiting it to natural selection? I am speaking of the entire process, which as evolutionary cheerleader and spokesman Richard Dawkins has made clear many times, is a process without design or purpose:

    “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden, (1995)https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins#River_out_of_Eden_.281995.29

    My point in the article is that all the processes you see in DNA require design. One of the clearest examples of that is the design required to create a code, encode a message and decode it.

    3. “Last, your characterization of DNA sequences as ‘messages’ that transmit coded instructions is incorrect.”
    I think you are confused because there is no “mind” that interprets the message. That does not mean intelligence is not involved. Consider a DVD or BluRay disk and the players that play it. Would you say the disk contains coded information? It obviously does. (You surely can’t hear the recorded sound by looking at them!) But the players that play them don’t “know” or “understand” what they’re playing. But does that mean there was no intelligence that went into designing the players that decode and reproduce the intended message/sound/video that come from DVD or BluRay disks? I hope you won’t try to convince that DVD and BluRay players are a product of random occurrences and are not designed! And that is precisely my point. The very fact you can take an information storage medium – whether DVD or DNA and get meaningful information out of it (whether consummed by a mind or not) means there was an intelligent mind that provided an encoding and decoding process to get at the information. Meyer puts it like this:

    “…DNA also contains information in the sense of Webster’s second definition: it contains ‘alternative sequences or arrangements of something ‘that prduce a special effect.’ Although DNA does not convey information that is received, understood, or used by a conscious mind, it does have information that is received and used by the cell’s machinery to build the structures critical to the maintenance of life.” (Signature in the Cell, page 109)

    So whether a mind receives the message or not, one can clearly detect an intelligence was involved in creating the message as well as a process that will respond appropriately to a message. For example – they now build cars that automatically brake when approaching an object too quickly. A mind is not involved in making the car put on the brakes, but will you seriously try to tell me no minds were involved in developing the system(s) that communicate the message to the brakes to engage? We can likewise draw the same conclusion from messages transmitted by DNA.

    I leave you with a question to ponder from David Berlinski’s book “The Devil’s Delusion”:
    “Joel Primack, a cosmologist at the University of California Santa Cruz, once posed an interesting question to the physicist Neil Turok: “What is it that makes the electrons
    continue to follow the laws.” Turok was surprised by the question; he recognized the force. Something seems to compel physical objects to obey the laws of nature, and what makes this observation odd is just that neither compulsion nor obedience are physical ideas.” (page 132)

    You did a nice job of describing what DNA, RNA,etc. do. My question to you is the same that Joel Primack asks: Why do they do that? You say “the chemicals are the message.” Why do chemicals do or mean anything? What compels the chemicals to follow the laws of chemistry?
    And beyond that, if, as Dawkins says, there is no design and no purpose, why do the
    chemicals convey any message? What purpose could they have in doing anything or conveying any message in a meaningless and purposeless universe?

    There is something much deeper going on that science alone cannot explain. Ponder that and I think you will better understand the article.

    Hope this helps,
    Duane

    Duane Caldwell

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