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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Biologically Relevant: The Facts and Principles Regarding Chance Construction

In defending their claims of an accidental origin of life and an undirected chance origin of species and biological innovations such as new types of protein molecules, Darwinists have often appealed to incorrect principles such as a principle that given enough time, even the most unlikely things will happen. To help clarify reality, it will be useful to list some facts and solid principles regarding the matter of chance construction. I can define chance construction as the arising by unguided events or unguided processes of organized useful states of matter or orderly-looking or useful-looking sequences of numbers, letters or symbolic tokens. 

Humans have intuitive "gut feelings" about chance construction, such as the intuition that long and purposeful-looking sequences of text do not arise by chance, and that accidents do not construct complex useful inventions. But it is not necessary to merely appeal to "gut feelings" when talking about matters of chance construction.  Some very precise  principles and facts can be asserted. 

Principle #1: The probability of accidentally exactly matching a particular sequence (whether numbers, letters or amino acids) is roughly equal to one divided by a divisor equal to the number of possible items in each position of the sequence multiplied by itself a number of times equal to the length of the sequence. 

The principle above can be expressed by this formula:

p(sequence) = ~ 1 / (tl)

where p is a probability, sequence is a specific sequence of tokens such as letters, numbers or codons, t is the number of possible tokens in each position of the sequence, and l is the length of the sequence (how many of these tokens the sequence consists of). The ~ symbol above means "roughly."

It is easy to give some examples illustrating this principle. Consider a set of random digits that has a particular length. The probability of having a random number of the same size matching such a sequence is roughly equal to 1 divided by a divisor equal to  the number of possible digits in each position (10) carried to the power of l, where l is the length of the numerical sequence. So, for example, the probability of a five-digit random number equaling 12345 is roughly equal to 1 divided by a divisor equal to the number of possible digits in each position (10) carried to the power of 5.  10 to the fifth power is 100,000.  So the probability of a random five-digit number equaling 12345 is roughly equal to 1 divided by 100,000. The probability roughly equals .00001. 

In the language above 1 use the term "roughly" only because the exact probability here is 1 divided by 99,999 rather than 1 divided by 100,000. Rather than clutter up the language above with more cumbersome language yielding so exact a probability, I prefer to use simpler language that gives an almost-exactly-right answer.  

To give another example, the probability of a five-letter lowercase random alphabetic sequence equaling "abcdef" is roughly equal to 1 divided by a divisor equal to the number of possible lowercase letters  in each position (26) carried to the power of 6, the length of the sequence "abcdef." 26 to the sixth power is  308,915,776 .  So the probability of a random alphabetic sequence of six lowercase letters exactly matching "abcdef" is roughly equal to 1 divided by 308,915,776.  

We can use this principle to calculate the probability of exactly matching a sequence of amino acids by a random sequence of amino acids.  The number of different types of amino acids used by the proteins of living organisms is 20. So, for example, the probability of getting a random sequence of amino acids matching the amino acid sequence of a particular protein having 100 amino acids is roughly equal to 1 divided by a divisor equal to the number of possible amino acids  in each position (20) carried to the power of 100. This is equal to a probability of roughly 1 divided by 20 to the hundredth power, which equals a probability of about 1 divided by 10 to the 130th power.  You can use a large exponents calculator such as the one at this site to convert numbers stated using one type of exponent to numbers stating using an exponent of 10. For example:

Principle #2: Whenever the number of possible items in each position of a functional sequence is 10 or greater, a small linear increase in the length of the sequence causes a "combinatorial explosion" skyrocketing of the improbability of a random or accidental sequence matching such a sequence (in other words, an exponential or geometric increase in the improbability). 

It is because of this principle that computer security experts always advise that you to use a long password such as a 14-character password. The math involved goes like this:

Length of alphanumeric password

Number of possible combinations of the letters and numbers




2.176782336 E+9


1.015599566 E+14


4.738381338 E+18


6.140942214 E+21

The notation in the right column is exponential notation. For example, "E+9" means 10 to the ninth power, and 
"E+21" means 10 to the 21st power. You can see from this table why computer security experts advise you to use a 14-character password for financial accounts. If someone were to try to break into some account you had that used such a password, it would take roughly 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 attempts, far more than any one could ever make even using a large network of computers dedicated to such a task. 

It is easy to see a simple relation in the table above: the relation that simple small linear increases in the password length causes a "combinatorial explosion" skyrocketing of the improbability of a random or accidental sequence matching such a sequence (in other words, an exponential or geometric increase in the improbability). The term "combinatorial explosion" refers to a case when the number of possible combinations skyrockets. Here is one famous example of a combinatorial explosion: the number of possible poker hands (consisting of 5 cards out of a deck of 52 cards) is roughly 2,598,960, but the number of possible hands in the game of bridge (in which people are dealt 13 cards) is roughly 635,013,559,600.  When making such calculations, you have the additional complication of having to calculate a reduction in the pool of available cards after each time a card is dealt. Thankfully such a complication does not come into play when we are considering the likelihood of a random sequence of some length matching a particular sequence of the same length.   

Principle #2 is of very great importance when we have to consider the probability of a random sequence of amino acids matching the sequence in a particular protein. Some of the mathematics involved are below:

Number of amino acids in a molecule

Number of possible combinations of the molecule's amino acids


3.2 E+6


1.024 E+13


1.048576 E+26


1.099511627 E+52


1.208925819 E+104


1.461501637 E+208


2.135987035 E+416


4.562440617 E+832


2.081586438 E+1665


1.148130695 E+2602

Human cells are eukaryotic cells. Using the word "residues" to mean amino acids, the paper here says, "The average eukaryotic protein is 450 residues long." The paper here lists a median amino acid length of 419 in human proteins (Table 2), according to one database, and 471 according to another database. The human body has hundreds of different types of proteins with more than 2000 amino acids each, and more than a thousand different types of proteins with more than 1000 amino acids each.

I will now tell you how to get an authoritative answer about how many human protein molecules have more than 2000 well-arranged amino acid parts. Using the UniProt protein database that anyone can use without a login, you go to www.uniprot.org, and type in the following search phrase (or, using less effort, just click on the link below):

(length:[2000 TO 50000]) AND (organism_name:"Homo sapiens")

This gives you a results screen like the one below.

You will see more than 1000 rows in the result set. The results will first show the simplest proteins with more than 2000 amino acids. Click on the Length column header, and the results will be sorted like we see above, with the most complex proteins shown first. 

There seem to be some duplicates in the results, or cases of proteins that are minor variations of the same protein.  But scrolling through the results, you will be able to see two things:

(1) There are at least hundreds of types of proteins in the human body that each have thousands of amino acids.
(2) The most complex proteins in the human body have more than 10,000 well-arranged amino acids. For example, the Titin protein consists of more than 30,000 well-arranged amino acids. 

Using a variation of the search string above, you can get an idea of how many types of human protein molecules have more than 1000 amino acids each. For example, suppose you change the www.uniprot.org search string to be the one below (or just click on the link below):

You will get a result set of more than 8000 rows. Allowing for many duplicates, we can assume that human bodies contain more than 1000 types of "highest complexity" protein molecules, where "highest complexity" means having more than 1000 amino acids. 

Principle #3: anything requiring a suitable three-dimensional arrangement of a certain number of parts is very gigantically more unlikely (exponentially and geometrically more unlikely) to be achieved by accidental construction than something merely requiring  a suitable one-dimensional arrangement of such parts.

Principle #3 should come as no surprise to someone who read a  recent article in the typically materialist Quanta Magazine. The article discusses something much, much simpler than constructing something useful in three dimensions: the mere task of finding what is called a Hamiltonian path through a set of nodes in 3D space, a path that traverses all nodes without touching any of them more than once. The path might need to traverse a set of points (nodes) such as this:

 We read this:

"Suppose you’re given a graph and asked to find something called a Hamiltonian path — a route that passes through every node exactly once. This problem is clearly solvable in principle: There are only a finite number of possible paths, so if all else fails you can just check each one. That’s fine if there are only a few nodes, but for even slightly larger graphs the number of possibilities spirals out of control, quickly rendering this simple algorithm useless.

There are more sophisticated Hamiltonian path algorithms that put up a better fight, but the time that algorithms require to solve the problem invariably grows exponentially with the size of the graph. Graphs don’t have to be very large before even the best algorithm researchers have discovered can’t find a path 'in any reasonable amount of time,' said Russell Impagliazzo, a complexity theorist at the University of California, San Diego. 'And by "reasonable amount of time," I mean "before the universe ends.” ' " 

Let's compare two different cases:
Case #1: You must have a linear sequence of 100 tokens (each of which have t possible values) exactly matching a particular sequence. 
Case #2: You must have a three-dimensional structure in which 100 structural units (each of which can have t possible values) exist arranged in an exact way in a three-dimensional space which has a width, length and depth all roughly equal to about 100 times the width, length and depth of each of the structural units. 

It should be intuitively obviously that Case #2 requires an arrangement that is vastly harder to achieve by chance that Case #1. Let me give an example to illustrate the point. 

Below is the front of a structure that you could build in three-dimensional space using number blocks that can have numbers between 0 and 9.  

Let's assume that each of the blocks is a cube, even though some of the blocks in the visual above do not look like cubes. 

Let us imagine that the total structure consists of four units looking  like the one shown above, with the units being arranged so that a bird's eye view shows something looking like a rectangle. So a person looking at the structure from either the front or the back or the left or the right would see something looking exactly like the visual above (except that all of the blocks would be cubes with equal volume).  Note that there is a special pattern here, following the rule that whenever a number appears directly below another number, the number below it is always the same number. 

Altogether this three-dimensional structure requires 100 well-arranged blocks. It consists of four units, each of which contains 25 blocks. Whenever a block appears in the structure of 100 blocks, the block must be in the right position, and it must also be the right number. 

We can calculate the probability of such a structure arising from someone taking a bucket of 100 number blocks and pouring them on to the ground. To simplify the calculation, let us assume that the numbers on the blocks exactly match what is needed to make the structure. So the bucket contains this number of number blocks:
4 nines, 8 eights, 12 sevens, 16 sixes,  20 fives, 16 fours, 12 threes, 8 twos and 4 ones. We will assume a three-dimensional geometric space consisting that is ten blocks wide and five blocks high.  This space has a volume of about 50 times 50 times 50 the volume of each block, resulting in a three-dimensional geometric space of 125,000 block volumes (50 times 50 times 50 equals 125,000). 

Calculating the overall probability of this structure appearing by a chance pouring of the buckets turns out to be quite a complicated affair. We must individually calculate the chance of each type of number appearing in the right place. Below is such a calculation.

Nine blocks: There are four nine blocks (blocks with the number nine on all of their six faces) . The probability of any one nine block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/4), or 1 in 31,250, since any nine block can end up in any of 4 correct positions. The probability of all four nine blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  9.536743164 E+17.

Eight blocks: There are eight eight blocks (blocks with the number eight on all of their six faces). The probability of any one eight block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/8), or 1 in 15,625, since any eight block can end up in any of 8 correct positions. The probability of all eight eight blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in   3.552713678 E+33.

Seven blocks: There are twelve seven blocks  (blocks with the number seven on all of their six faces). The probability of any one seven  block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/12), or 1 in 10,416, since any seven block can end up in any of 12 correct positions. The probability of all twelve seven blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  1.630841125 E+48.

Six blocks: There are sixteen six blocks (blocks with the number six on all of their six faces). The probability of any one six block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/16), or 1 in 7812, since any six block can end up in any of 16 correct positions. The probability of all sixteen six blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  1.923958738 E+62.

Five blocks: There are twenty five blocks  (blocks with the number five on all of their six faces). The probability of any one five block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/25), or 1 in 5000, since any five block can end up in any of 25 correct positions. The probability of all twenty-five five blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in   2.980232238 E+92.

Four blocks: There are sixteen four blocks (blocks with the number four on all of their six faces). The probability of any one four block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/16), or 1 in 7812, since any four block can end up in any of 16 correct positions. The probability of all sixteen four blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  1.923958738 E+62.
Three blocks: There are twelve three blocks  (blocks with the number three on all of their six faces). The probability of any one three  block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/12), or 1 in 10,416, since any three block can end up in any of 12 correct positions. The probability of all twelve three blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  1.630841125 E+48.

Two blocks: There are eight two blocks ( (blocks with the number two on all of their six faces). The probability of any one two block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/8), or 1 in 15,625, since any two block can end up in any of 8 correct positions. The probability of all eight two blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in   3.552713678 E+33.

One blocks: There are four one blocks (blocks with the number one on all of their six faces). The probability of any particular one block ending up in the right position is roughly 1/ (125,000/4), or 1 in 31,250, since any one block can end up in any of 4 correct positions. The probability of all four one blocks ending up in the right position is roughly 1 in  9.536743164 E+17.

Having made these calculations, we can now roughly calculate the probability of you pouring the bucket of 100 blocks and getting the structure I have imagined consisting of four sides that each look like  the visual above. To roughly calculate that we must multiply together all of the probabilities calculated above. This is accordance with the probability calculation principle that the probability of a series of causally independent events all occurring can be calculated by multiplying together the probability of each event occurring. 

Multiplying together each of the probabilities above, we get a probability equal to roughly 1 in  9.536743164 E+17 times 1 in 3.552713678 E+33 times 1 in  1.630841125 E+48 times 1 in  1.923958738 E+62 time 1 in   2.980232238 E+92 times 1.923958738 E+62 times 1 in  1.630841125 E+48 times 1 in 3.552713678 E+33 times times 1 in  9.536743164 E+17. Very roughly, this is a probability of about 1 in 10 to the 412th power, equal to about 1 in 10 followed by 411 zeroes. 

The purpose of this elaborate exercise has been to show how the improbability of a useful accidental construction skyrockets very dramatically (increasing in an exponential and geometric manner) whenever we have something that has to match a three-dimensional structure rather than a mere linear one-dimensional structure. Let's compare the two using the example discussed here. The linear number sequence corresponding to the structure described above (having four sides looking like the visual above) is 5654765438765432987654321565476543876543298765432156547654387654329876543215654765438765432987654321. The chance of getting such a sequence from a random 100 digit number is 1 in 10 to the hundredth power.  But when we put in the requirements for the three dimensional arrangement of the 100 numbers, matching the specification given above, the probability of getting the sequence skyrockets very dramatically. The improbability isn't just three times greater. It becomes about 10 to the 312th power times greater, which is more than  1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times more unlikely. 

The type of considerations I have discussed here have very great relevance to the question of whether it is credible to postulate an unguided origin of species such as our own species. For you to end up with organisms such as human beings, it requires a vast amount of construction of very long purposeful sequences such as the gene sequences in DNA. In each case that the body requires a protein with hundreds of well-arranged amino acids, that requires a very special arrangement of tokens in a gene, an arrangement so special that it must be as well-arranged as the letters in a well-written paragraph of about 400 characters.  The human body has more than 20,000 such genes, each of which could only be accidentally constructed by luck similar to the luck needed for a typing monkey to produce a well-written functional paragraph of abut 400 characters. For you to get such luck it would require a total amount of luck roughly comparable to the luck needed for accidental ink splashes to produce a good, correct, useful 100-page instruction manual. 

But the odds of purposeful chance construction get almost infinitely worse when you consider the matter of three-dimensional arrangement. You don't get protein molecules by just stringing together amino acids into a chain that is like a necklace of beads. Functional protein molecules require well-arranged and very complex three-dimensional shapes, which are vastly harder to get. A large fraction of all protein molecules only work when they are part of protein complexes which require a great deal of special three-dimensional arrangement to produce.  And on and on the special three-dimensional arrangement requirements go. Protein complexes must be three-dimensionally well-organized to make organelles, which must be three-dimensionally well-organized in the right way to make cells, which must be three-dimensionally well-organized in the right way to make organs, which must be three-dimensionally well-organized in the right way to make bodies. 

The unlikelihood of a successful chance construction of something useful requiring a very complex three-dimensional arrangement of parts is gigantically and exponentially greater than the unlikelihood of the successful chance construction of something useful requiring a mere one-dimensional arrangement of parts. Realizing such a principle while avoiding stating it, biologists have often tried to evade the consequences of such a principle by trying to make bogus claims that in biology the three-dimensional merely requires the one-dimensional. Such incorrect claims have taken two forms:

(1) The assertion of something called Anfinsen's Dogma, asserting that the three-dimensional structure of a protein molecules is a consequence of the one-dimensional structure of the sequence of amino acids in the gene corresponding to that protein.  Anfinsen's Dogma never made any sense. Claims that there was experiments providing support for the dogma were never well-founded, and convincing follow-up experiments replicating such experiments never occurred. Read my post here for a lengthy discussion of some of the reasons why Anfinsen's Dogma is not a well-established scientific result, and why there are very strong reasons for thinking it cannot be true (such as the fact that a large fraction of all protein molecules require the help of other protein molecules -- what are called chaperone proteins -- to successfully reach their functional three-dimensional states). 

(2) The assertion of the bogus claim that a DNA molecule is a blueprint or recipe or program for making the body of an organism.  DNA is no such thing, and does not specify any of these things: how to make a full body, how to make an organ, how to make a cell, how to make the organelles that are the building blocks of cells, or how to make the protein complexes that are the building blocks of organelles. The diagram below tells us about the hierarchical organization of the human body, and which levels of that organization are not specified by DNA. 

pyramid of biological complexity

The implications of Principle #3 above are enormous: that the odds are utterly prohibitive against any unguided origin of the enormous organization in human bodies, with the odds being prohibitive in not just one way but many different ways. 

Principle #4: Any requirement for purposeful mobility means the odds against chance construction undergo an additional skyrocketing, with the odds against chance construction rising exponentially once such a requirement is added. 

It is obvious that getting any structure very organized and functional by chance construction becomes exponentially more improbable as soon as you add the requirement that the structure not merely exist, but move around in a purposeful manner. To clarify that, we may consider the case of a bridge. Most bridges across rivers are static. But in a lovely little town to visit, there is an amazing type of bridge: the drawbridge in Mystic, Connecticut.  That bridge has a remarkable ability for dynamic movement.  At 40 minutes past the hour, the bridge rises up high in the air. This is so that fishing boats can pass through the gap. The video here shows the bridge in action, and discusses the very special and ingenious engineering that was required to make such a bridge:

The chance construction of a bridge such as the drawbridge at Mystic would be exponentially more improbable than the chance construction of a static bridge with no moving parts. What we have in the human body and the bodies of other mammals are not just systems of vast organization, but also systems capable of purposeful mobility. Any system requiring purposeful mobility is exponentially harder to achieve by chance construction than some static system. You might get a rough idea of the improbability of the unguided appearance of a mammal body by comparing it to the improbability of the chance construction of some "roving ability" bridge across a wide river with an astonishing ability to move itself from one spot in the river to some other distant place in the river, wherever it was most needed on a particular day. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Reasons for Suspecting You Have Both a Visible Body and an Invisible Body

According to astrophysicists who believe in the theory of cold dark matter, as most astrophysicists do these days, every galaxy has two bodies: a visible body and an invisible body.  According to the theory, most of the mass of each galaxy consists of invisible matter called dark matter. Astrophysicists claim that the invisible body of each galaxy extends in a halo that stretches beyond the disk of the galaxy.  The claim is represented in the diagram below. According to the theory, a disk-shaped galaxy may have a visible body that is disk-shaped, but a larger invisible body that is spherical. 

Astronomers have a particular reason for thinking that every galaxy has an invisible dark matter body that is more massive than the galaxy's visible body, something having to do with the speed at which stars rotate around the center of the galaxy. It is believed that the visible body of a galaxy is contained within the larger dark matter body of a galaxy, and that our entire galaxy is pervaded by dark matter.  According to such a theory, the entire surface of our planet is pervaded by invisible dark matter, which co-exists everywhere with visible matter. 

From such a theory you might conclude that you have two bodies, a cold dark matter body and a warm visible matter body. But under the cold dark matter theory beloved by astrophysicists, cold dark matter has no function, and is not organized at all. So while you might conclude that you have a kind of invisible body of cold dark matter, the idea would not be a particularly interesting one, as it would not explain anything that goes on in your body or your mind. 

However, there is a strong rationale for suspecting that you may have two functional bodies: a functional visible body and a functional invisible body. To explain that rationale, I must explain the gigantic failure of scientists to explain either the origin or the continuation of any adult body. 

If someone defines a fertilized human egg as a human being, a definition that is very debatable, you might be able to say, "I understand the physical origin of a human being," and merely refer to a sperm uniting with an egg cell as such an origin.  But a more challenging question is whether anyone understands the physical origin of an adult human being. The physical structure of an adult human being is a state of organization many millions of times more complex than a mere fertilized speck-sized egg cell.  (A human egg cell is about a tenth of a millimeter in length, but a human body occupies a volume of about 75 million cubic millimeters.) So you don't explain the physical origin of an adult human being by merely referring to the fertilization of an egg cell during or after sexual intercourse. 

We cannot explain the origin of an adult human body by merely using words such as "development" or "growth." Trying to explain the origin of an adult human body by merely mentioning a starting cell and mentioning "growth" or "development" is as vacuous as trying to explain the mysterious appearance of a building by saying that it appeared through "origination" or "construction."  If we were to find some mysterious huge building on Mars, we would hardly be explaining it by merely saying that it arose from "origination" or by saying that it appeared through "construction." When a person tries to explain the origin of a human body by merely mentioning "growth" or "development" or "morphogenesis," he is giving as empty an explanation as someone who tells you he knows how World War II started, because he knows that it was caused by "historical events."

There is a more specific account often told to try to explain the origin of an adult human body. The account goes something like this:

"Every cell contains a DNA molecule that is a blueprint for constructing a human, all the information that is needed. So what happens is that inside the body of a mother, this DNA plan for a human body is read, and the body of a baby is gradually constructed. It's kind of like a construction crew working from a blueprint to make a building."

The problem with this account is that while it has been told very many times, the story is just plain false. There is no such blueprint for a human being in human DNA. We know exactly what is in human DNA. It is merely low-level chemical information such as the sequence of amino acids that make up polypeptide chains that are the starting points of protein molecules. DNA does not specify anatomy. DNA is not a blueprint for making a human. DNA is not a recipe for making a human. DNA is not a program or algorithm for making a human. 

Not only does DNA not specify how to make a human, DNA does not even specify how to make any organ or appendage or cell of a human. There are more than 200 types of cells in human beings, each an incredibly organized thing (cells are so complex they are sometimes compared to factories or cities).  DNA does not specify how to make any of these hundreds of types of cells. Cells are built from smaller structural units called organelles. DNA does not even specify how to make such low-level organelles. 

The chart below diagrams the hierarchical organization of the human body, and what part of that organization is explained by DNA:

pyramid of biological complexity

Here are a few relevant quotes by authorities:

  • On page 26 of the recent book The Developing Genome, Professor David S. Moore states, "The common belief that there are things inside of us that constitute a set of instructions for building bodies and minds -- things that are analogous to 'blueprints' or 'recipes' -- is undoubtedly false."
  • Biologist Rupert Sheldrake says this "DNA only codes for the materials from which the body is constructed: the enzymes, the structural proteins, and so forth," and "There is no evidence that it also codes for the plan, the form, the morphology of the body."
  • Describing conclusions of biologist Brian Goodwin, the New York Times says, "While genes may help produce the proteins that make the skeleton or the glue, they do not determine the shape and form of an embryo or an organism." 
  • Professor Massimo Pigliucci (mainstream author of numerous scientific papers on evolution) has stated  that "old-fashioned metaphors like genetic blueprint and genetic programme are not only woefully inadequate but positively misleading."
  • Neuroscientist Romain Brette states, "The genome does not encode much except for amino acids."
  • In a 2016 scientific paper, three scientists state the following: "It is now clear that the genome does not directly program the organism; the computer program metaphor has misled us...The genome does not function as a master plan or computer program for controlling the organism; the genome is the organism's servant, not its master.
  • In the book Mind in Life by Evan Thompson (published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) we read the following on page 180: "The plain truth is that DNA is not a program for building organisms, as several authors have shown in detail (Keller 2000, Lewontin 1993, Moss 2003)."
  • Developmental biologist C/H. Waddington stated, "The DNA is not a program or sequentially accessed control over the behavior of the cell."
  •  Scientists Walker and Davies state this in a scientific paper: "DNA is not a blueprint for an organism; no information is actively processed by DNA alone...DNA is a passive repository for transcription of stored data into RNA, some (but by no means all) of which goes on to be translated into proteins."
  • Geneticist Adam Rutherford states that "DNA is not a blueprint," a statement also made by biochemistry professor Keith Fox.
  • "The genome is not a blueprint," says Kevin Mitchell, a geneticist and neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, noting "it doesn't encode some specific outcome."
  • "DNA cannot be seen as the 'blueprint' for life," says Antony Jose, associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, who says, "It is at best an overlapping and potentially scrambled list of ingredients that is used differently by different cells at different times."  
  • Sergio Pistoi (a science writer with a PhD in molecular biology) tells us, "DNA is not a blueprint," and tells us, "We do not inherit specific instructions on how to build a cell or an organ." 
  • Michael Levin (director of a large biology research lab) states that "genomes are not a blueprint for anatomy," and after referring to a "deep puzzle" of how biological forms arise, he gives this example: "Scientists really don’t know what determines the intricate shape and structure of the flatworm’s head."
  • Ian Stevenson M.D. stated "Genes alone - which provide instructions for the production of amino acids and proteins -- cannot explain how the proteins produced by their instructions come to have the shape they develop and, ultimately, determine the form of the organisms where they are," and noted that "biologists who have drawn attention to this important gap in our knowledge of form have not been a grouping of mediocrities (Denton, 1986; Goldschmidt, 1952; B. C. Goodwin, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1994; Gottlieb, 1992; Grasse, 1973; E. S. Russell...Sheldrake, 1981; Tauber and Sarkar, 1992; Thompson, 1917/1942)."
  • Biologist B.C. Goodwin stated this in 1989: "Since genes make molecules, genetics...does not tell us how the molecules are organized into the dynamic, organized process that is the living organism."
  • An article in the journal Nature states this: "The manner in which bodies and tissues take form remains 'one of the most important, and still poorly understood, questions of our time', says developmental biologist Amy Shyer, who studies morphogenesis at the Rockefeller University in New York City."
  • Timothy Saunders, a developmental biologist at the National University of Singapore, says"Fundamentally, we have a poor understanding of how any internal organ forms.” 
  • In an essay pointing out the vast complexities and interlocking dependencies of even simpler aspects of biology such as angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels),  Jonathan Bard of Oxford University states, "It is pushing the boundaries of belief too far to believe that it is helpful to see the genome as holding a program." 
  • paper by Stuart A. Newman (a professor of cell biology and anatomy) discussing at length the work of scientists trying to evoke "self-organization" as an explanation for morphogenesis states that "public lectures by principals of the field contain confidently asserted, but similarly oversimplified or misleading treatments," and says that "these analogies...give the false impression that there has been more progress in understanding embryonic development than there truly has been." Referring to scientists moving from one bunk explanation of morphogenesis to another bunk explanation for it, the paper concludes by stating, "It would be unfortunate if we find ourselves having emerged from a period of misconceived genetic program metaphors only to land in a brave new world captivated by equally misguided ones about self-organization."
  • Referring to claims there is a program for building organisms in DNA, biochemist F. M. Harold stated "reflection on the findings with morphologically aberrant mutants suggests that the metaphor of a genetic program is misleading." Referring to  self-organization (a vague phrase sometimes used to try to explain morphogenesis), he says, "self-organization remains nearly as mysterious as it was a century ago, a subject in search of a paradigm." 
  • Physician James Le Fanu states the following:

    "The genome projects were predicated on the reasonable assumption that spelling out the full sequence of genes would reveal the distinctive genetic instructions that determine the diverse forms of life. Biologists were thus understandably disconcerted to discover that precisely the reverse is the case. Contrary to all expectations, there is a near equivalence of 20,000 genes across the vast spectrum of organismic complexity, from a millimetre-long worm to ourselves. It was no less disconcerting to learn that the human genome is virtually interchangeable with that of both the mouse and our primate cousins...There is in short nothing in the genomes of fly and man to explain why the fly has six legs, a pair of wings and a dot-sized brain and that we should have two arms, two legs and a mind capable of comprehending the history of our universe."

The lack of any specification for building a human in DNA is only one of two major reasons why a reading from DNA cannot explain the physical origin of a newborn baby or an adult. The second major reason is that there is nothing in the human body that would be capable of reading a DNA specification for making a human, if such a thing happened to exist.  Consider what goes on when a house is built. Dumping some building materials and a blueprint will never cause a house to be built. The house can only get built if there are intelligent blueprint readers smart enough to read the complex blueprints, and carry out their instructions. With more than 200 types of cells in the human body, each so complex they are often compared to factories, a human body is something a million times harder to build than a mere house. If there were some instructions for building a human in DNA, such instructions would be so complex that they would require something extremely intelligent to interpret such instructions and carry them out. But we know of no such intelligence existing in a human womb where a baby grows. 

The "DNA as blueprint" idea is further disproved by the C-value paradox under which many relatively simple organisms have genomes much larger than more complex organisms. For example, a certain flower from Japan has a genome 50 times longer than the human genome, and quite a few amphibians have genomes 10 times bigger than the human genome. 

Told by many scientists for a particular ideological reason that I explain in my post here, the often-made claim that DNA is a blueprint or program or recipe for building a human is an "ivory tower old wives' tale" that simply is not true.  There is no blueprint or recipe or program for making a human in human DNA, and there is nothing intelligent enough in a human womb to read and execute such immensely complicated instructions if they happened to exist. So the physical origin of each full-sized human body is currently a miracle of hierarchical organization far beyond our understanding.  

It is not just the origin of the adult human body that is far beyond our understanding. It is also the continuation of the adult human body that is very far beyond our understanding. Internally adult human bodies are enormously dynamic things. Specifically:

  • Many types of cells in the human body have short lifetimes. At the site here, we read, "Dr Frisén has shown that most cells in the body are less than 10 years old." Scientists do not understand how cells are able to reproduce. Scientists merely understand different stages in the reproduction of a cell. 
  • The reproduction and maintenance of cells requires a constant creation of many types of protein molecules in the body. Scientists have some understanding of how the body starts to create a new protein molecule, by reading some gene specifying the amino acid sequence of the protein molecule. But protein molecules are not simple linear sequences of amino acids.  To be functional protein molecules typically must fold into elaborate 3D shapes needed for that function. How does that folding occur? Scientists still have no credible explanation. Don't be fooled by those incorrect "science news" headlines claiming that some AlphaFold2 software "solved the protein folding problem." That software merely made some progress on a different problem, what is called the protein folding prediction problem.  The protein folding problem is still unsolved.  We don't understand how in a human body (without anything like the AlphaFold2 software or its deep learning database) string-like polypeptide sequences are able to form the 3D shapes needed for protein functions.  
  • A large fraction of all proteins (and probably most proteins) cannot do their jobs themselves, but can only be useful when they act as team members within what are called protein complexes. Such complexes are often quite complex, and may consist of ten or twenty different types of proteins.  But how do these protein complexes arise? Scientists lack any credible explanation.  

protein folding mystery

Below are some quotes backing up my claim that scientists don't understand how protein complexes form:
  • "The majority of cellular proteins function as subunits in larger protein complexes. However, very little is known about how protein complexes form in vivo." Duncan and Mata, "Widespread Cotranslational Formation of Protein Complexes," 2011.
  • "While the occurrence of multiprotein assemblies is ubiquitous, the understanding of pathways that dictate the formation of quaternary structure remains enigmatic." -- Two scientists (link). 
  • "A general theoretical framework to understand protein complex formation and usage is still lacking." -- Two scientists, 2019 (link). 

For all these reasons, it is not merely the origin of the adult human body that is very, very far beyond the understanding of scientists, but also the continuation of the adult human body, its persistence for fifty years or more after adulthood is reached. This is the most gigantic explanatory shortfall. 

To explain the origin and continuation of individual adult human bodies, we might imagine the continual action of some supernatural force throughout the earthly biosphere.  We might imagine such an agency making millions of small-scale interventions in each of billions of humans, to produce the origination and preservation of adult human bodies. 

But I can imagine a simpler idea. The idea is that some agency may  provide each human with a second body: an invisible body that can be called an invisible morphogenetic body.  The purpose of such an invisible body would be mainly to take care of the massive work of causing the growth of a full physical human body from a tiny speck-sized egg. Such an invisible body might also have the job of maintaining such a physical body. Even the maintenance of a human body seems to require continually a vast amount of organizational work we cannot mechanistically explain. For example, every minute your body is creating new three-dimensional proteins through the marvel of protein folding, a marvel we don't understand. 

But why postulate such an invisible body rather than postulating a continuous stream of interventions by some higher agency? Such a thing would seem to be a much simpler explanatory scheme.  With the idea of an invisible morphogenetic body we are left with a fairly simple explanatory scheme that would work like this:

(1) Each new human may be given a soul which is purely mental, and which can grow in a non-physical way into the full reality of an adult human mind. 

(2) Each new human may be given an invisible morphogenetic body which is like a localized physical agency specialized for the task of causing the physical progression from a speck-sized zygote to the vast state of organization that is a full-grown human body, and perhaps also specialized for the task of preserving such a body so that it can last until death. 

You might get a very rough idea of such an invisible morphogenetic body if you consider the software and operating system in a computer, which is crucial for the computer's operation and maintenance, but is invisible to someone visually inspecting the computer and looking for visible signs of it. But such an invisible morphogenetic body would be a more dramatic reality. A better crude analogy might be some almost magical software that might cause a smartphone to gradually change over years into a full desktop computer. 

Under such a framework, we might imagine that a person's mind-soul (something purely mental) persists after death, but that a person's invisible morphogenetic body dies with the physical body, such a thing having no use after a person dies. 


Is it explained by physical science?

How could it be explained?

Protein folding, in which protein molecules form into elaborate three-dimensional shapes needed for their proper function.

No. DNA and genes merely specify the linear amino acid sequences of protein molecules, not their 3D shapes.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Formation of protein complexes, often consisting of different types of protein molecules (derived from genes on different chromosomes) that team up, often forming very complex "molecular machines" that may include microscopic motors. 

No. DNA does not specify which protein molecules belong to particular protein complexes.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Formation of specialized cells arriving in the right places in the body, particularly as the body grows.

No. DNA does not specify the structure or proper body location of any cell, and does not even specify how to make the organelles that are the building blocks of cells.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Cellular reproduction.

No. Since cells are fantastically complex structures with the complexity of a factory, the reproduction of a eukaryotic cell is something unlike anything human technology can produce using non-living things.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Formation of organs and organ systems

No. DNA does not tell how to make organs or organ systems.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Growth from a speck-sized zygote to the hierarchical organization of a human body.

No. DNA does not tell how to make human bodies.

Postulate an invisible morphogenetic body.

Human self-hood and consciousness.

No. A unified human self is not something that can be explained by neurons or neural activity.

Postulate a mind-soul.

Instant memory formation.

No. Brain processes such as protein synthesis and synapse strengthening are way too slow to explain instant memory creation.

Postulate a mind-soul.

A person's instant retrieval of rarely accessed facts learned long ago.

No. By including things such as sorting, addressing and indexing, humans make things that allow fast retrieval. But no such things are found in the brain.

Postulate a mind-soul.

50-year preservation of episodic memories.

No. The proteins in synapses have lifetimes 1000 times shorter than the longest length of time humans can remember things (60 years).

Postulate a mind-soul.

Abstract thinking.

No. This is not explicable from brain activity.

Postulate a mind-soul.

Insight and understanding.

No. This is not explicable from brain activity.

Postulate a mind-soul.

Out-of-body experiences.

No. This is 100% unexpected to arise from brain activity.

Postulate a mind-soul.

Psychic powers (clairvoyance, ESP, etc.)

No. These are 100% unexpected to arise from brain activity.

Postulate a mind-soul.

Human language abilities

No. The human use of language is unexpected from a study of non-human organisms, which have nothing like human speech. 

Postulate a mind-soul.

Near-death experiences.


Postulate a mind-soul.

If such an invisible morphogenetic body exists, how long would it survive? It would seem that such an invisible morphogenetic body would die about the time the known physical body exists, or soon thereafter. Since such an invisible morphogenetic body would have no role other than the formation and persistence of the physical human body, there is no reason to regard it as something long surviving the death of the physical human body.  There is some interesting evidence that certain types of metabolic activity such as gene transcription persist for a few hours beyond death. That could be a kind of gradual fading away of an invisible morphogenetic body, a process that might persist for a few hours or days beyond death. 

Some might suggest that we need to postulate an invisible body in humans for a different reason: the fact that humans see apparitions of other humans. The sighting of apparitions is a very real phenomenon, with very many examples that cannot be credibly explained by assuming hallucinations. Two of the reasons why apparition sightings cannot be all explained away as hallucinations are:

(1) People often see apparitions of people they did not know had died, only to very soon learn that the person had died about when the apparition is seen. For examples see my posts here:  

An Apparition Was Their Death Notice

25 Who Were "Ghost-Told" of a Death

25 More Who Were "Ghost-Told" of a Death

(2) There are many cases of the same apparition being seen by more than one person. Some examples are discussed in my posts below:

Do we need to postulate a kind of immaterial physical double of the body to explain cases like this? Not necessarily. If a mind-soul survives death, then such a soul might be able to telepathically create a visual impression of itself that arises in someone else's mind. Freed from the limitations of a brain, a surviving mind-soul might be able to create such a visual impression in the mind of multiple witnesses present at the same place. 

An interesting problem of parapsychology is: why are ghosts or apparitions seen wearing clothes? If we imagine that each of us has a body-double inside us, one with arms, legs and a head, then if such a body-double were seen, it presumably would not be wearing clothes. It seems rather easier to explain apparition sightings by supposing the apparition is a kind of projection of a surviving mind-soul, one in which it has a clothed appearance. For example, if you survived death, and wanted to show yourself to a relative as a sign you had survived death, you might be more likely to kind of telepathically project yourself as a clothed version of yourself, rather than appearing as a naked ghost. 

Another idea is that a person surviving death may have a kind of faint mind-over-matter power or mind-over-energy power, allowing him to briefly appear as a faintly physical presence, or perhaps even as a solid form. If your relative reports seeing a transparent image of you after you died, that could be your mind-soul projecting such an image in a kind of semi-physical way, like a kind of holographic projector. It might be rather like the scene near the beginning of the first Star Wars movie, in which Luke Skywalker sees the holographic projection of Leia Organa, projected by the little robot.  

Supposing a single invisible body for each of us may be insufficient to explain observed phenomena. It may be necessary to postulate that each of us has multiple bodies, one visible body and one or two or three invisible bodies. If that sounds too far-fetched, you might remember that according to modern physics, the space within a meter of you is always occupied by three overlapping realities: physical matter, dark matter and dark energy. 

The ideas above are speculative, and I do not claim that there is any "open-and-shut" case for such an invisible morphogenetic body. I merely claim that such a hypothesis may be useful in trying to explain some of the most baffling aspects of biology. 

I have noticed a fundamental difference between cosmologists (the scientists who study the universe as a whole) and biologists. It is as if they are operating under different rules. The rule of the cosmologist seems to be: when the observed visible reality is insufficient to explain something, then boldly postulate some unobserved invisible reality to try to fix the shortfall. Cosmologists followed such a rule in three cases:

(1) Not able to explain the rotation speeds of stars around the center of a galaxy with the known amount of observed matter, cosmologists created the theory of invisible cold dark matter.
(2) Not able to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe under assumptions about regular matter and dark matter, cosmologists created the theory of invisible dark energy. 
(3) Not able to explain the enormous fine-tuning of the universe's initial expansion rate under standard assumptions, cosmologists invented various very complicated theories of primordial cosmic inflation. 

None of these explanation attempts has been verified, but at least we have to credit cosmologists for having the audacity to boldly speculate about invisibles and unobservable realities when cosmologists find themselves with some type of big explanatory shortfall. No such credit can be given to biologists. It seems like biologists operate under an entirely different rule, a rule that can be stated as "just keep claiming that chance and known observed reality explain everything, no matter what is observed." 

And so we have biologists continuing year after year to claim that the vast mysteries of biology and human mentality (so far over the heads of today's humans) can all be explained by chance and what is already known. When you stick to such a claim for many years you will probably end up becoming entangled in many a lie and deception, which certainly is what has gone on among materialist biologists, with about fifty of such lies and deceptions listed here.  

overconfident biologist
A foolish T-shirt to be wearing