News & Reviews
Evolution 2.0 Explains Why it's Important to Know that DNA is a Pure Code
December 21, 2020
DNA is a code.
Scientists have been doing heavy lifting over the past couple of decades to delineate and outline and document and understand and explain and get access to that code.
That has been very productive and useful work. We now know much more about both genetics and epigenetics than we did before and our science and our tool kits in those areas is exploding daily in very useful ways.
We have an opportunity now to be expert users of DNA, itself, to enhance our future success at multiple levels of both biology and health care.
We also could be well served at this point in time if we took the opportunity to spend some time thinking in clear, direct, fact based and intellectually grounded ways about the significance and the importance to us all of DNA actually being a code that functions as a code and that has all of the core component parts that we have now learned to recognize and use in our own computer related codes.
What does it mean to us to learn that the very explicit and intricate code that is DNA both exists and does what it does in the functional and highly effective ways that it actually does what it does?
In a nutshell — we now have an opportunity that we did not have before we understood codes to think about what that code is and does, and then to think about why it might exist.
Darwin pointed us in some very good directions.
He explained evolution as he saw it with the information he had available to him in his world and in his time.
Charles Darwin wrote a couple of brilliant and very useful books, describing, explaining and defending evolution as the primary way that life both developed, survived and even thrived in its huge multiplicity of forms on our planet.
His basic theory of evolution had two key component parts that we now need to understand and think about as we have a better functional and operational understanding of DNA, itself.
Darwin basically identified and described two very explicit processes that he believed both anchor and enable the theory and the overall actual process of evolution. Those two basic and foundational processes that both anchor and support evolution for Darwin are:
1. Mutations — Random and completely unintentional mutations that can and do happen spontaneously for any species at any time.
2. Survival — Based on the explicit survival realities that happen for each mutation, his theory of evolution is driven and shaped by a very functional survival process that perpetuates the survival and the genetic continuation of the specific mutations that have the most positive impact on the survival rates for each species where each of the mutations happen.
The Darwinian Theory of Evolution is a very clear process and it is anchored on those two functional and structural elements in a very clear and direct way that is strongly supported and endorsed very definitively as a two-step process by the people who believe in Darwinism as the way all life both survives and evolves on our planet.
Darwin and his extensive contingency of followers and intellectual and academic supporters believe that we have a wide array of life forms on the planet that all stretch directly back to an initial one celled organism and that the initial one cell organism has evolved over time into multiple species and into a wide variety of organisms and life forms and they have evolved exclusively using those two key Darwinian elements as their only tool kit for shaping the species or the organism that they ultimately become.
He believed that the two-part process actually enabled all life forms to evolve into various species based only on the spark of those random mutations and he believed that the relative survival rates for each mutation purely determined which mutations survived, and that each species that exists today is absolutely true to their own linear genetic composition in the context of that process.
Mutations are important.
He believed that each living organism has the ability to have random mutations that both enhanced the species and that changed them over various periods of time purely and exclusively through that process of natural selection processes and realities that then happened and affected the survival rates for each mutation.
Natural selection is an almost purely mathematical process because it says that time, circumstances and pure numerical realities dictate that the mutations that enhance the reproduction and survival rates of any species become a part of the component parts of each species.
People who believe in Darwinian processes believe that relative survival rates for each mutation evolve and shape each species into its subsequent forms and versions.
Pure Darwinists believe with a high and explicit level of intellectual and almost ideological commitment that the mutations are always random and that the only functional process that changes an organism or a species is the relative rates of survival for each change. They point to the finches of the Galapagos Islands whose beaks evolved to meet and reflect the available food supply on each island as the perfect example for that selection process.
The finch beak reality was a great example for Darwin and it was so obviously accurate as an observation of finch differences that people who believe in standard and basic Darwinian science still use it as both an example and a proof point for the process.
Advocates today for Darwinian theory who are aware of the naming tendencies and practices we have today for our various computer systems and processes could possibly name and label that classic baseline theory “Evolution 1.0.”
This insight piece that you are reading now is being written as both a thought piece and a book review for Perry Marshall’s relatively new book, Evolution 2.0.
Marshall suggests that we should enhance our understanding of the process and we should move on to use a set of beliefs and processes that he labels Evolution 2.0.
Marshall actually wrote a very useful book outlining several elements of what we now know about computer systems that might cause us to enhance that original Darwinian theory of evolution in a couple of interesting and important ways.
Marshall describes what he believes is perceived to be Evolution 1.0 as our commonly accepted belief system about evolution and then suggests that we should enhance our understanding and improve our thinking about how those processes work to consider an enhanced approach and more modern theory that he calls Evolution 2.0.
He builds on a strong computer science background for his proposal.
Marshall is an author, thinker, engineer, computer programmer, systems designer, business developer, and religion advocate. He used that context to write an extremely useful book as Evolution 2.0, because his book basically uses some of our most current science and some of our most current technologies to look closely at the evolutionary processes and belief systems about evolution and to explain and understand some of the actual processes that exist in evolution from the perspective of a scientist, engineer, programmer, and mathematically grounded thinker and observer.
The Evolution 2.0 book might be useful to a wide range of people who are thinking about evolution and who have strong opinions on the topic
There are a number of people in our society, and in the world, who are clear and direct opponents of Evolution as a theory for purely religious reasons.
Some religious groups believe that Darwinism and evolution is an evil belief system intended to steer people away from both religion and God.
There are people with some religious beliefs who believe that people who are proponents and advocates of Darwinian Evolution as a theory or a process are doing the work of Satan and need to be opposed and possibly even banned or punished in some settings.
Some of the strongest anti Evolution people who have that belief system and who advocate it with significant energy believe that being a Christian should mean that you don’t believe in those basic theories of evolution at any level.
Some of the people who are the strongest Christian opponents of evolution tend to take the Genesis story of Creation in the Bible very literally and they assume that the world actually was created in seven calendar days and those days are the same length as the days we each experience today.
We need to understand that those beliefs exist because surveys in our country show us that a fairly large percentage of our population holds some version of that belief today.
Some people hold a modified version of that belief that says that the definition of days in the Genesis version of the Creation story needs to be expanded and the time frames for creation need to be extended to some degree, but many of those people believe that those basic sequences should be believed and a number of people believe that evolution as explained by Darwin and his co believers did not happen or have an impact on people or on species of any kind in the actual world we live in.
That’s obviously very different from the beliefs in pure Darwinism.
There are people in our country who believe that evolution literally did absolutely nothing and there are people in our country who believe that evolution actually did basically everything that had any biology involved.
There is obviously significant room for middle ground between those extremes, and many people are in those middle ground belief paradigms now. It is possible to be Christian and to support evolution depending on which branch of the faith you happen to be in.
At a very strong middle point on that continuum, Dr. Francis Collins, the scientist who ran and led the actual process for the U.S. Government that directly built, designed, and achieved the Human Genome Project for us that actually did the first scientific spelling out of the human genome and the actual DNA code for people for our country and the world, is both a Christian and a scientist and Dr. Collins wrote an excellent book called The Language of God that was reviewed earlier on this website that says some aspects of Evolution and DNA are both tools of God.
Dr. Collins believes that God used DNA as a beautiful tool for designing life and he writes and says that DNA should be respected and appreciated as a learning tool and as a gift from God.
He does not deal with evolution as a theory in his book but he describes why he believes as both a scientist and a Christian that understanding the DNA molecule can and should help us appreciate what a valuable gift it is for us to have.
My own perspective on Evolution as a process and a theory went down another personal learning path that was extremely useful to build context for me on that issue and subject.
I personally had the opportunity in my work life to do some process improvement work that helped reduce the death rates in some of the hospitals that I had the privilege as serving as CEO significantly. As one example, we cut the death rate from Sepsis from more than 20 percent of the patients who had that condition to close to 3 percent of those patients.
We had to do multiple things in those very real and functional settings to save those lives. Fast treatment is hugely important for sepsis, so we changed the priority in the labs on doing the sepsis tests. We also standardized treatment around best practices and then we had the most important drugs for sepsis treatment already staged on the floor in each unit where we thought a case might happen instead of waiting until the distant hospital pharmacy could get the request from the floor and then go to its shelves to fill the prescription and then have it somehow delivered to the actual floor with the patient.
Process improvement saved lives.
We loved doing those processes.
We also cut the pressure ulcer rates for some older patients from over 20 percent of those patients to under 2 percent. Four hospitals in our system did not have a single ulcer in an entire year at the time that I left that system to do work on the sets of issues embedded in this website.
We did that in those hospitals by engineering and reengineering each piece of that process — including changing some bed linens to versions that triggered fewer skin irritations in patients and changing medications and dressings that had unexpected consequences in the wrong directions for some of those patients.
I mention that experience of doing process improvement in hospital settings in this book review about evolution because I had always believed in classic Darwinism evolutionary processes that are described above in this book review as the way a butterfly wing would functionally evolve to look just like the flower of the tree where it nested based entirely on pure statistical pattern differences that favored relative butterfly survival rates for each version of the butterfly — and then when I was actually in a real-life setting where linked change was necessary to change survival rates for actual patients — I realized that there was no real possibility of that very crude, uncertain, and unchanneled relative selection rate for purely random processes tool kit that is the core tool of all classic Darwinian processes actually achieving those kinds of goals or outcomes anywhere for almost anything significant in any setting at any time, based purely on the random mutations that happened to line up in those directions at multiple levels for each layer and each component part of those changes, in ways that changed relative survival rates for each separate change.
That was an important belief change for me.
I stopped being a believer in random, purely mutation based and mutation anchored processes achieving linked and aligned layers of change for life in any setting when I saw how hard it was to create those improvements even when we were very intentionally trying to make that better survival rate happen in a real and functional setting.
I realized that our hospitals cut the death rates by 90 percent for that condition only because we were engineering and designing the process and then linking all the pieces in extremely intentional ways.
I then looked at some of the wonderful adaptations that happen at multiple often highly layered ways with a very high level of frequency in nature and I realized that there had to be a designer in that process and that the designer had both a sense of beauty and — for some things — even a sense of humor.
I believed that design functionally had to be a factor in that process.
So I became a believer in the existence of a designer and of an actual process of design.
That sense of a process and a system of some kind existing for life forms was reinforced for me by the sense and the awareness that we also can see the existence of both systems and processes in other major areas of our existence and our universe.
People who love mathematics and physics often point out both the beauty of their fields and the extreme consistency and the absolute structural reality in each field that has the speed of light being the same everywhere and that has two plus two equaling four, everywhere in the world and every single time that we combine two and two.
That clear internal consistency felt like a pattern.
It might not be intentional. That absolute consistency that clearly exists in those fields might have somehow sprung spontaneously into being for both mathematics and physics, and it might also have happened spontaneously for life.
Or, I thought, that consistency and those basic facts and the clear patterns in those areas that are the same everywhere might actually be part of a creation package of some kind — and there might be some underlying systems in each area that we might discern and discover — and it felt very right for me in reaching that level of awareness to believe that part of our role and our job and even our pleasure as conscious beings might be to figure out what those underlying systems are and to discern and understand and use that set of information that we learn in each of those areas both for our own learning pleasure and for the functional and intellectual benefit of the other people on our planet.
I was far from alone in thinking along those lines about the existence of systems in each of those areas being evidence for the existence of a creator and of a creation process for existence, itself.
Physicist George Ellis, for example, wrote, spoke and shared important wisdom about celebrating and appreciating complexity in physics and biology and micro biology as well as structural formation of the universe and observations of galaxies, stars and planets as fields and subjects for human learning and as a package of proof of a creation process for it all.
Interestingly, in that model and context of believing that an actual creation process and event of some kind happened in each of those areas of our world and the universe, DNA isn’t used to disprove God. The people who think that DNA and religion are opposed to each other in some way might find that the evidence points in the exact opposite direction. DNA can actually be used as an extremely good and persuasive proof point for the existence of God when we come to believe that it is a gift and not just a discovery.
Having DNA be very functional proof of the existence of God is one of those points where I suspect the existence of a sense of humor as part of the process.
This Evolution 2.0 book being reviewed here goes wonderfully, directly, clearly and even beautifully down that exact path.
Perry Marshall, the author of this book, is an engineer and a computer programmer who went through a discovery process of his own that resembled in some ways what I learned with the sepsis death rates in our hospitals but was even more extensive for him at very explicit technical and functional levels than my own learning experience about process improvements because Marshall understands actual systems at an even more explicit level.
Marshall actually programs computers.
Classic Darwinian theory does not include computers because there were no computers when Darwin did his work.
That isn’t true today. We now have many levels of computers and Perry Marshall is blessed with the experience of knowing computers and their codes. He knows how a computer works and he knows what computer code does in and for and with a computer.
He has even helped invent and develop part of the inter net and some of our internet-based communications products and markets as we know them.
His website and his twitter chain deal very directly with those commercialized uses of those market opportunities.
But this particular book about Evolution deals with DNA and not with markets and his various business interests.
This excellent book about Evolution shows that what we are now learning today from computers is directly useful and extremely applicable in looking at the existence and the actual systematic functioning and functionality of life.
His key and foundational point for this book is that DNA actually is a code.
Being a code is extremely and highly important.
DNA isn’t a bunch of random pieces that somehow reached a moment of magic and then aligned with itself.
It is a complex multi-level piece of very explicit code that does code like things that we increasingly can understand and use because we now use computers and we now know what a code is and we now know how to use it.
Where did that DNA code come from?
Many basic Darwinians who understand and who believe strongly in how life evolves tend to be vague or silent about exactly how life began. They tend to agree that the universe already existed when life began — but for reasons that are generally also not linked or connected in any way to the origin of life discussion — and they tend to say that in our particular piece of the universe a combination of chemicals and energy somehow aggregated itself and that serendipitous aggregation in that initial setting became the very first bit of life.
The believers in the instantaneous and spontaneous aggregation theory for life itself then often say that time available for that aggregation to happen is vast and is almost infinite and we know now that there are billions of stars that could have planets, and we can deduce from that reality that the scope of possibilities for aggregations could also be perceived to be almost infinite, and that our good fortune to have life sustained is based on the fact that one of those aggregations not only became alive, it had built into it the actual strands of purposeful chemistry that functioned successfully and directly as early DNA.
That’s an important part of the theory that people generally do not add to the thinking or discussions. But it is obviously true at a functional level.
At the most purely functional level, we know that there had to be something in that initial life process containing and performing that particular very first essential DNA function to cause it to replicate itself or else that first spontaneous combination of life would have functionally disappeared.
If that spontaneous creation of what we perceive to be life has actually happened an infinite number of times over millions of years, then all of the combinations that did not have that DNA replication function and capability built in from the beginning simply disappeared each time they formed.
Logically and functionally, that might have been the actual path the world has been on. That actually could have happened many times over the eons. Maybe all but one of those sparks that were circumstantially triggered over the eons disappeared — died, if you will — but we do know, because we know that we, ourselves, do exist today, that one spark that had the structure and the ability to propagate itself and then did actually successfully propagate itself, succeeded in doing exactly that — and then life began down the track it is on now with that explicit capability and functionality to propagate itself embedded in it.
If that is the actual path of life here — and many believe that to be an accurate description of the path of life — then everything we see as forms of life and as species of beings and as categories of organisms has built and continues to build the world we live in today from that exact biological foundation and capability.
Darwinian theory holds that mutations happened in the context of that core and foundational DNA equivalent process, and that the specific mutations that have increased survival rates became genetically embedded in each species when that higher survival rate happens with enough leverage on each mutation for each species to change the species.
That was actually what I believed early in the process of thinking about evolution. Darwin was my guide and my fully accepted and even appreciated belief system. Darwinian forces were described to me by trusted sources as being science and as being highly credible because they had science as a basis for the process, and that set of beliefs was entirely acceptable to me for a very long time.
I knew that we could accelerate that evolution process hugely in selective ways with various animal husbandry techniques and with skilled and intentional gene selection approaches for our plants and our domestic animals. I loved the various breeds of dogs that we invented and then competed with at the Westminster Dog Show. Steerage for evolution components was clearly possible in domestic settings, but I believed that mother nature used survival of the fittest to engineer all species in the wild and I was a solid traditional believer in that basic selection process paradigm for explaining life on this planet.
Then my own life intervened.
I had that opportunity mentioned above to function as the CEO of a small hospital system and then a larger hospital system. We did some things in those settings to make care better and safer for patients.
That was an extremely useful learning experience. I loved that work.
As a believer in classic Darwinism, I also saw how hard it was for us to engineer a lower sepsis death rate in our hospitals in an approach that involved changing multiple processes at multiple levels and when I looked at the world all around us, I realized that there were too many inter related and connected things actually happening in the world around us that could not possibly have been created purely and entirely by the slow sieve and the clunky and mathematically and statistically challenged, operationally problematic and very complex evolution process differentiation tool of relative survival rates for each random mutation that very clearly and even rigidly anchors Darwinian change as a process.
I learned from doing process improvement to save lives in hospitals that it takes extreme intentionality and deliberate design elements to simultaneously link multiple elements of process and care to achieve better patient outcomes in those settings.
My life experience in getting real things to inter relate in real world functional settings made me a skeptic relative to classic Darwinism.
Perry Marshall took that learning that I had about the difficulty of integrating complex functional processes one huge step further and he added extremely important information about the actual tool kit that is used in the real world for functional evolutionary linked change.
Marshall is also a functional practitioner in his own world and he knew something that I did not know. He actually knew how to operationally use a computer and he knows as a practitioner what actual computer code does and does not do in the real world.
His book shares that learning with us all. We are in his debt for adding that layer of insight into and about actual computer process functioning and systems processes to our traditional understanding level of evolution and the tools it actually uses to achieve change in each setting.
He discerned and believed and showed us that DNA was a code and that DNA had the same rules that other codes have for functioning.
His knowledge of codes is a golden insight into this process.
He studied evolution and related processes in very intentional ways, and he realized, discerned and then taught us that DNA was a magnificent, explicit, highly effective, multi-level, and very functional code — not something that was somehow created spontaneously from a fortuitous mixture of energy and material in some circumstantial, serendipitous and entirely situational set of settings.
He saw elegant design elements in that DNA code that he recognized as being elegant design elements for code from having built them himself as actual code for modern computers.
Marshall knew tape drives, discs and various computer storage processes and tools, and he looked at DNA from that perspective as well.
As he says in chapter 13 of his book on page 103:
“If you stretched a single strand of human DNA from end to end, it would be 6 feet (1.8 meters) long. But it is folded into a space so small that it is literally a trillion times smaller than any hard drive. Plus, the cell easily reads it whenever necessary. How is this possible?”
“The folding of DNA inside the nucleus of the cell is fractal. A unique mathematical pattern folds within folds so that, unlike your headphone cord, DNA strands don’t tangle. Unused DNA is kept in a high-density area, using a folding pattern within the pattern. This storage pattern is called a Fractal Globule. It enables the cell to store DNA in amazingly little space, avoiding tangles and knots that would destroy the cells capacity to read its own instructions. The DNA quickly unpacks and repacks during gene activation and cell replication — a super dense, knot free structure.
The globule is a lattice, known only to mathematicians, in which every point is only visited once and no paths intersect. This prevents knots from forming.”
I found that insight from his book to be particularly useful.
It’s extremely difficult to believe that the mathematics enhanced knot free data structure that Marshall describes so clearly in his book somehow evolved functionally by separate random mutations and then developed as a functional unit though a selection process that, by Darwinian definition, requires multiple generations of relative survival rate differences for each mutation to create each degree of fractional enhancement for that process.
Pure Darwinism believers do argue that the universe has existed for so long that it actually is possible that each of those enhancements in that process did happen as separate mutations and that each enhancement in that particular tool was selected over time as being at least fractionally better than the non-mutated prior version of that tool.
They might be right — but in order to be right, they should be able to show multiple versions of those enhancements existing somewhere in a transitional version of storage processes, and that particular piece of evidence for a standard prior version of that storage process earlier in the process for each element is very hard to find and, frankly, almost impossible to even imagine.
The DNA Evolution 2.0 version of his proposed approach to situational evolution that life has actually used to survive and situationally evolve says that those elegant systems do exist and they are both useful and intentional because they do intentional things in very useful ways and we should think of evolution as existing but using a slightly different process for a couple of the key steps than the process if change that Darwin proposed.
So, Marshall’s book isn’t idle speculation and generic or theoretical or even philosophical musings and hypothetical theorizing about the idea or the possibility of using elements of intelligent design relative to life on earth as a theory or concept. He explains both the code and the tools that are embedded in the intelligent design tool kit for us to use.
That is extremely important and useful information.
Perry Marshall actually looked closely at what has been intelligently designed for us and for evolution in very complex and clearly intentional ways, and he explains key parts of that tool kit that underpins functional evolution to us as we actually see it function to us in useful ways.
It’s a beautiful package of code. That is something we could not have either known, appreciated or even suspected decades ago before we had computers and used codes ourselves — but now that we have that experience and that context, knowing it is a bit like giving Galileo a telescope.
That beautiful code is not accidental or fortuitous.
That design elegance that Marshall describes for DNA obviously leads us to doubt, challenge, and probably comfortably reject some parts of pure traditional Darwinism as a possible tool for creating that process and that code.
When we look today at what we now understand that DNA obviously is, it’s increasingly difficult to argue that it just happened and that it somehow created itself through classic Darwinian processes. There is a huge amount of science about each of those component parts in his book that clearly do not lend themselves to random mutations as their genesis.
The traditional thinkers who rejected what Galileo actually saw through his telescope might find similar opportunity and a strong temptation to not look through this lens as well and maybe even to be angry in some way about the tool.
Evolution 2.0 is intended to give resisters a soft landing for their thinking. The very well-researched book has a very rich supply of footnotes documenting all of the key points and processes, and pointing to why this line of thought ought to be at least considered by the firmest believers in Evolution 1.0.
Anyone in our academic settings and circles who continues to believe today with full confidence in the pure Darwinian theory of evolution that still tells us that each of those nuances and each of those component parts in DNA design was somehow spontaneously developed solely by random mutations and then each included in the genome solely based on pure survival of the fittest screening and selection processes for each mutation in the face of this evidence should not be entirely critical of other people who also have significant leaps of faith undergirding their own belief systems.
DNA is obviously a code and it has the kind of component parts that we now know how to build into our computer code. We can’t understand how a computer of any kind — without being intentionally programmed by someone to program itself — could somehow actually program itself.
Codes exist because they communicate something. They don’t appear for any kind of mathematical reasons or ever come spontaneously into being based on any known functions or consequences of physics. Codes are intentional tools — and DNA is a code — and it is clearly entirely intentional in doing what is does as a code.
The book deals with epigenetics as part of the DNA process and mix. That inclusion of that process in our thinking is extremely important. Epigenetics is an amazingly interesting and powerful relatively new extension of our science, because it shows us how many choices and options are already built into DNA and how many situational and functional ways those epigenetic choices can be activated and used in various settings.
It’s an amazing tool kit. Darwin would have loved it.
Hair color selection for dogs can be done in a couple of generations because of epigenetic functions. Humans subjected to those same screening processes as dogs actually would probably have the ability to change hair color in not that many more generations, but we would not accept the same pruning processes we use for canine genetics to get human hair color to a different standard hue.
We obviously are not going to do that type of process for human hair color, but we now have much more information about a growing range of epigenetic opportunities and problems for humans, and we can and should now use that information to give us better health and better lives.
As one example, we know from the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) research done at the huge data base of Kaiser Permanente and from the Center for Disease Control that people with four or more ACEs from their childhoods are twice as likely even in the very same care system with the very same care givers to have strokes and three times more likely to have adverse heart events and they are more than four times as likely to be drug addicted as adults compared to people with one or fewer ACEs in the same care system.
We need to make both ACE prevention and epigenetic steerage away from those damaging experiences a part of our public policy agenda and people will lead healthier lives if we do that in effective ways at the right time in the process.
We clearly need to have a much deeper understanding of our epigenetic opportunities and risks — and we should probably be using Artificial Intelligence data bases and tools with access to the growing electronic data base we have about care to tee up and structure some of that work as well.
We definitely should take advantage of the new Artificial Intelligence tools to increase our own understanding of the universe and to enhance our own control over relevant parts of it, including life trajectory issues for us as individuals. Some people feel competitive and sometimes a bit threatened about the obvious brain power that AI can trigger in some settings. We should accept and embrace our human mission of learning and discernment and we should use that AI tool to enhance our success with continuous levels of improvement as our goal in a wide range of areas.
Giving Galileo a telescope has parallel possibilities in using Artificial Intelligence tools for expanding our learning approaches and insights as well.
We do need to look at the big issues we face as people and we should be willing to look at and think about our macro context and our core belief systems for both processes and life, and we should make decisions about how best to use that information and those insights to benefit us all.
It could be tempting to stop the overall thought process about DNA and life at this point and not take our thinking forward to next steps in thinking about the actual origins of either life or the universe itself. Those are major thought areas that are very tempting for many people to avoid because of the consequences to our own sense of who we are that could result from having more insights or understanding in those areas.
If DNA is, in fact, a code, and if physics and mathematics all have solid intellectual consistencies and patterns and processes that are also clearly universal and that could also be very intentional, then the obvious question is, who built and designed that entire reality and why?
Quantum physics adds both layers to the thinking and facts to that context. I have been blessed with an highly useful opportunity to be in laboratories and look at some quantum physics work that involves entanglement issues that are amazing realities. If two particles can be absolutely entangled across an infinite expanse of space and if it can and does actually happen faster than the speed of light, then what does that particular quantum reality tell us in our other real world and our other thinking about either time or space?
The issue of time is also relevant to both the process of evolution and to creation itself. We now tend to believe — for very good scientific reasons — that the universe is very old. The Big Bang that got the current mixture of pieces into gear across our universe took place roughly 13.8 billion years ago.
Those are unfathomable numbers.
On that scale, the earth we live on has probably existed for about 4.4 billion years, and some expert people now estimate that various forms of life have been here on our planet for about 4 billion years.
Human life is extremely recent in that context. Current estimates are that our most direct human ancestors have been around fewer than 300,000 years. That’s both a long time and a very short time.
Our most modern versions of civilizations and the lineage of our direct ancestors probably extend back less than 50,000 years.
Again — both a very short time and a very long time.
So that raises the question, if anyone who believes in the theory about intentional creation and design for us all believes that human life was a goal of the entire process — and if human life and our existence as conscious beings was a primary long term but core goal of the DNA programing and code building process that we are now beginning to understand with our current generation of science, why did it take so long for us as people and as conscious beings to get to where we are right now?
There are a couple of possible answers to that question.
One answer is that time is relevant to us but might not be relevant to God. It’s entirely possible that time is a perception for us but is simply not a relevant factor for God.
God is in no hurry in that scenario.
It’s also possible that this is all actually happening simultaneously and it only feels sequential to us because we are programmed to function and perceive sequentially and not simultaneously.
If it is all actually simultaneous, then learning for us and for the universe can be both a process and a consequence that actually happens all at one time and that simultaneous process actually makes learning, itself, an embedded part of its own result.
That might not be impossible as a way for us to think about our role and today.
Quantum physics shows synchronicity happens and it can and does lead some people to believe in multiple timelines and even in multiple dimensions and multiple universes.
I don’t find that quantum linked multiple timeline or multiple universe theory particularly distracting for our own purposes as people as we work to figure out why we are here and what we should do about it now, because the obvious functional reality for us is that we are, we believe, very much here and the time we are here in is clearly now.
Now is very relevant to us.
It feels to me as though we should each be living in the flow of time that we perceive now and that we should each figure out our role and our purpose and what our own learning process is in this time line and in this context.
We seem to be the only elements of creation that has intellectual consciousness and awareness. Both our intelligence and our faith leaders seem to point in that direction and hold that belief and seem comfortable being there.
It’s almost a matter of faith for both sets of people. It feels right at a core level to both entirely academic intellectuals and to faith thinkers for us to be both conscious and accountable at some level.
Other forms of life have various levels of self-awareness and of situational awareness, but we seem to be the only element and the only component part that actually thinks in a conscious way about existing and about meaning and about purpose for our lives.
God, according to some religious beliefs, created the universe and was then lonely as the only self-aware element of the universe and created us to be aware as well.
That particular belief paradigm that says we were actually created to be conscious seems to call for us to both be aware and to grow in learning and understanding in our own conscious ways as we go through our lives as our reason for existing.
Beauty might be relevant to our existence as well.
I suspect that might be true. We might also be the only other appreciation audience for beauty.
Beauty exists and it’s not entirely clear why. Maybe it is meant at least in part in some settings to be seen and to be appreciated as beauty in a conscious way by us as conscious beings.
We definitely seem to have a consistent pattern of appreciating beauty of various kinds as people everywhere, and we can also sometimes have a sense of humor about things in the world around us that also might be relevant part of the consciousness package.
Our challenge and a key problem for our behaviors and for our interactions as people, is that too often we are clearly created as creatures of instincts — and that particular set of instincts embedded in us can lead us to both good and bad places for our behaviors, values, and for our interactions with one another.
The InterGroup books and websites write about those behaviors and those inter group and inter personal inter actions.
The Institute was created to help us understand our instincts and to use them in enlightened ways and to work hard to steer away from us doing damage to each other with activated instincts steering us in the wrong and most damaging directions.
Some of our very basic instincts can lead us far too quickly and far too often too bad and sometimes evil behavior. Both intellectual and ethical growth and learning feel right to some of us as part of the life experience and role, and having us making choices about our values, ethics, emotions, and behaviors could all be part of that process.
Martin Luther — the founder of the Lutheran branch of Christianity — said we are all saints and we are all sinners.
Simul Justus et Peccator, to quote Luther.
Our instincts to divide the world into Us and Them and then to do bad and even evil things to Them in various settings too often steer us to bad and damaging places. — Some of us believe that Christians today should decide to follow the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and that we should use the most supportive teachings of Christ as guidance in ways that can have us all be protective and supportive of one another in that process of interacting in all relevant settings that life creates for us.
So what does that entire set of issues tell us about Creation, intelligent design, and our own direct role in the world today?
It’s interesting and somewhat affirming for me as a person who has wrestled with and who thinks directly about those issues that Perry Marshall and Dr. Collins and I have all wrestled with those issues about the origin of life, about numbers, and about physics in our own ways and we all ended up believing that there actually is a designer for both life and the universe.
We all believe in God.
We believe that God created the universe and we believe that God put systems into the universe that include mathematics, physics, and now extremely intentional DNA as a very clear and intentional system and tool kit for both understanding and steering life.
We each seem to believe that people exist to be conscious and to learn about the other systems and processes in our world and to grow and to actually each personally evolve in spiritual and intellectual ways.
We all seem to believe that people should have purpose and intent in their and our lives.
The three of us ended up believing that religion in some ways should and can be a good path for us to go down as a way of both understanding God and interacting with God, and we all seem to believe that each person has a personal chance to find a path to religion that works for their understanding and for their lives.
There is risk in steering people to religion.
This institute has very direct concerns about the paths that religions sometimes go down with people.
We need to work with the reality and the understanding that we humans are creatures of instincts to a major degree and it is sadly clear that our religions can sometimes be affected by those embedded processes and beliefs in very negative ways. That awareness of the massive power of our instincts has been part of my own learning process and it’s actually why the Institute for InterGroup Understanding, the InterGroup set of books, and this website exists.
The Institute teaches that we have very deeply engrained instincts to be maternal, paternal, territorial, tribal, loyal, hierarchical, sexual, competitive, acquisitional, and cultural, and that we all have the ability, as Martin Luther said, to be both saints and sinners down each of those instinctive patterns and pathways.
Religion in some of its organized forms sometimes does wonderful and caring and deeply spiritual things and it sometimes very directly makes things worse for people at several levels.
Clearly, the death toll in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants and the death toll in multiple middle eastern countries between Shia and Sunni and Kurdish faith lines shows us clearly that religion can be a context for very wrong and even evil behavior when it is used to trigger and enable our lowest sets of inter group instinctive behaviors and justify evil interactions with other people.
Cusp of Chaos has several chapters explaining and warning about the damaging and divisive and damaging paths that those beliefs and instincts can take us down and it describes the more than two hundred ethnic and religious wars and conflicts that are happening in multi tribal settings today.
Some religious leaders clearly do things that are not enlightened in a moral or ethical sense — tempted by power or by some kinds of tribal alignment or even by sexual drives to do less beneficial things than we want our faith leaders to do.
Too often, our religious organizations turn out to be the functional template and context for territorial instincts, us-them thinking, power abuse and addiction, and negative and even evil inter group and inter gender behaviors, so we do recommend religion but we absolutely do not say that anything religious is good or that we should allow people use the cover of religion to steer us in wrong directions.
We need to have our religions help us do the right things for the right reasons and to better succeed in doing them. We need to be enlightened and supportive in our emotions, behaviors, thoughts, values and beliefs.
We believe that we need to rise above the sets of clearly wrong directions that happen in some religious settings and that we should have our religion and our belief in God steer us to more enlightened and positive values and behaviors and that we should share in that belief with each other and with the world in mutually supportive ways.
Part of our learning process as people needs to be how to take an understanding of the fact that we all live in a created and system centered world with mathematical realities and basic physics driving powerful forces in multiple directions and with DNA systems also steering in powerful directions and giving us a growing tool kit about life, itself, that we can use to make our lives better in many ways, to give us the right world and a clear understanding of that world at the highest level.
We need to see that DNA is a clearly intentional tool and we should figure out how to get the maximum benefit now from the capabilities it gives us.
So we should take advantage of those tools and we should use them with appreciation for having received them as a gift.
Christianity has been used by the three of us to offer a religious context for interacting with that world. The three of us seem to have settled on the teachings of Jesus Christ as a model and goal for doing the right thing in our lives in the right way for the right reasons.
That was a relatively easy choice for us all at some levels.
We all were born into Christian families and we each have come to find some aspects of our heritage in those areas good for guidance and our involvement and alignment today.
We don’t recommend a particular liturgical or denominational or even basic religious pathway and practice for that purpose but I personally believe and feel comfortable advocating that each person who decides to believe in God should find a religious path and alignment that feels right to you and that meets the values that you believe in as a person and that you find useful as a context for your religious thought.
The Dalai Lama wrote an excellent book on religion and science and he strongly endorsed science and urged people to seek the path to religion that works best for each person.
That feels like very good advice.
My own explicit theological path has been to be comfortable with the basic liturgy and the functional church practices of American Lutheranism with a hint of a Swedenborgian sense of both functional accountability and a celebration of our most joyous instincts as being a blessing and an opportunity for my own life.
I absolutely do not recommend that particular combination for everyone but it feels right and works well for me. Christmas and Easter are both times when I focus on the pathways I believe are created and encouraged by my faith.
We all can have opportunities to develop our own faith pathway. Anyone who believes that God created both life and the universe can find a multiplicity of religious paths to channel that belief. I am very comfortable with each person choosing the path that feels right to them based on their own context and the life experiences that have created access to religious paths.
I believe that we should choose religious paths that support and enable other people to also live good and safe lives and to prosper and thrive in our lives and to have their own relationship with God — and I encourage everyone to find the path that gets you a sense of purpose and to the kind of outcome that feels right at a core level to you.
It feels to me that God is open to a wide range of well-intentioned people and my own sense as a student of instinctive behavior is that early religions that made God seem both very tribal and extremely hierarchical were probably heavily influenced by our own human instincts to be both tribal and hierarchical projected directly into our image of God.
One of my favorite recent experiences was watching television last week and seeing a Rabbi and an Iman praying together and when asked why they were doing that, they said they were both very comfortable that God would sort out the messages as they arrived with no difficulty or problem.
I believe that we each have life trajectories that expose us to God and that we should each choose the trajectory that makes the most sense to us and that gets us to a belief context that works for us.
Christmas, Easter, Communion, and shared fellowship in prayer all feel right to me and I have decided to use that pathway as my way of recognizing and including some important and functional elements of my faith in my life.
Both Perry Marshall and Francis Collins have also said that they believe in God and have also embraced branches of Christianity as their religious alignment, and their books seem to tell me they are doing it in much the same way as I have chosen to do it in my life for many of the same reasons.
My own belief system, with a strong and consistent Concordia anchored service and faith context, also points me today toward possibly trying to persuade other Christian believers in America into doing things together to help create a Christian Peace Movement in America. My sense is that we would and could be well served as a nation at this point in time if we had Christian Churches reaching out to each other as fellow Christians to try to create inter group Peace for our country.
All religions can be pathways to create Peace and we need and want everyone to be on that path — and it also does seem to me that Christians who really believe in their faith should try to unite in their faith at this point in our history to help support Peace as a country.
It might be good for our country to work to build a Peace that has Sermon on the Mount underpinnings and aspirations embedded in it and supporting the process.
So the truth seems to be — that Dr. Collins, and Perry Marshall and I all share the strong belief that major components of evolution were, in fact, designed by God, and that we should each understand, celebrate and appreciate that fact in our own ways.
We seem to each believe that those components of evolution — including the extremely sophisticated and intentional coding that is obviously embedded in DNA — were obviously chosen by God as favored tools for supporting life and we should be grateful for that gift and should use it well.
It seems to me that believers and advocates for other religions could also be very well served by understanding why that thought process that DNA is actually a gift from God and not a threat in any way makes sense for all believers.
I can’t speak for the other two authors in that space, but I personally recommend that all Christians and that believers in other religious would probably generally be well served by using the fact that it is very easy to believe that DNA is an intentionally coded code and that very intentional code is a clearly God Given tool and not a lucky accident of nature as part of our belief system.
My own sense is that everyone would be well served by reading Evolution 2.0 as a book and sharing it with friends. The Language of God book also is a very good book to share, and I believe we should all read that book as well.
The Caste book written by Isabel Wilkerson is also a very good book for us all to read at this point in our history. It describes some of the very worst instinctive inter group behaviors that are also outlined in the Cusp of Chaos book, from this website.
And Three Key Years, the book and website, are worth sharing with friends and family who feel badly that we have such major learning gaps and earning gaps and wealth gaps in our country and who believe, as I strongly do, that we should be doing important things together now for all of our children born in this country to help those painful and damaging gaps go away.
You can read Three Key Years on this website or get it from Amazon.
Darwinism has very strong proponents who sometimes become unhappy and even angry when that well respected and widely believed theory of evolution is challenged now in any way. That anger is sometimes a strong echo response to the fact that many of the people who have been challenging it have been extremely unscientific and often insulting and threatening in their attacks. Bad attacks from some people have done damage and some have built scars.
This particular response is not attacking Darwinian Theory as much as it is enhancing it. Even if you do not accept any part of the religious element in this piece, it’s now clear that we finally understand what codes are and that DNA — for whatever reasons — is functionally a code. That is new information.
The old Darwinian theory has actually served us very well for many years, and it deserves our appreciation and our respect. We might want to take that information and do what Darwin, himself, did and look for the next way of understanding and using evolution to explain important things in more accurate ways.
I personally believe that Charles Darwin would, himself, find epigenetics to be a magnificent and extremely good to use and interesting tool kit and that he would use it in many creative ways if it was possible for him to do that today.
Those code elements and epigenetic options explains a couple of the conundrum that his pure theory left unanswered and gives us answers and tools that let us steer things going forward in ways that I believe he would love.
I have a short list of heroes who have done extremely important things with their lives. Mahatma Ghandi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nelson Mandela, and Charles Darwin are all on that list because they did the right things for the right reasons in really important areas and bravely gave us steerage that benefited us in very important ways.
Basic Darwinism actually continues to offer some obvious utility in some functional aspects of making modifications in an existing species for all of the very important epigenetic reasons that Marshall points out in his book.,
But, as this website noted on the earlier review of Dr. Collins’s book:
“The likelihood that pure survival of the fittest processes and the likelihood that random and pure periodic and sporadic biological mutations could somehow functionally align and combine to create an entirely new species that by definition and measurement involves multiple DNA strands of usable, well-shaped, and highly intentional protein configurations all at the same time to create a new species is about one in ten to the seventieth power of probability.”
And, as that piece on the website also says:
“The probability and mathematical reality for any species spontaneously building multiple complex protein strands of DNA and then testing and building each strand for survivability only through the use of pure Darwinian survival-based selections mechanisms at a volume needed to actually create a new species is far lower than the probability of winning a lottery.”
When we have more than a million species on the planet now — and when the mathematical odds of creating another species entirely from scratch are far less than the odds of winning the lottery — and when the ability we have now to use DNA epigenetic flexibility rules and tools to create what is functionally a new species in only a few generations with directionally correct use of those DNA embedded epigenetic tools, then we need to end the DNA and evolution versus religion debates and wars and we need to share in the intellectual joy of the gift we have in front of us.
DNA is wonderful.
It is gift.
It is also a code.