Some science behind the scenes

DNA

In the following description I have placed the observations within the description as it eases explanation.

Most biologists these days seem to explain the ‘how’ of our activity by explaining that it is genetically programmed into us, that somehow or other it is stored in our genes or DNA. 

But DNA is ‘hardware’ it is not ‘software’.   It is form not function.

Apart from the fact that DNA only applies to animate things and not to all the inanimate things that are controlled by the systems of the universe, the continual reference to DNA as the solution also does not stand up to study.  

In the first place it does not reflect the apparent level of functional sophistication of the organism.

Bill Bryson – A Short History of nearly Everything
The amount of genetic material and how it is organised doesn’t necessarily, or even generally, reflect the level of sophistication of the creature that contains it.  We have 46 chromosomes, but some ferns have more than 600.  The lung fish, one of the least evolved of all complex animals has 40 times as much DNA as we have.  Even the common newt is more genetically splendorous than we are by a factor of 5.

 In the second place it may not be enough to even represent the physical complexity of the organism.

Bill Bryson – A Short History of nearly Everything
The first results of the Human Genome Project, suggested [we have] a figure of about 35,000 or 40,000 genes – about the same number as are found in grass … unfortunately 35,000 genes is not nearly enough to produce the kind of physical complexity that makes a satisfactory human being.

And in the third place, perfectly sound animals are produced even when supposedly vital genes are removed, which leads one to suspect that function is far more important in this than form and that the functions can compensate, even if a part is missing.  This is not dissimilar to one receiving a Meccano set and finding a piece missing.  The instructions then may say  ‘if part 1234 is missing, substitute a 3256 instead and adapt it in this way  to do what is required’.

Bill Bryson – A Short History of nearly Everything
In the 1990s, scientists made an even more profound discovery when they found they could knock out supposedly vital genes from embryonic mice and still see the mice often not only born healthy but sometimes actually fitter than their brothers and sisters who had been tampered with.  When certain important genes were destroyed it turned out, others were stepping in to fill the breach

And DNA does not explain the functions that we do have – smiling, happiness, anger, joy, reasoning , love, hate, sadness and so on…

Lyall Watson – Lifetide
The last and greatest of the mechanistic strongholds has been provided by molecular biology, which seems to have succeeded in cracking a code so simple, and yet so potentially complex, that it can act like a giant computer……. The capacity of DNA for storing … data is immense, but I suggest that on its own it cannot result in intelligence greater than that we could expect from any machine.

And this is the key. DNA is in computer terms ‘hard wired data’  - primarily the ‘hardware sub assembly’ structure.  It contains none of the instructions on how to put it together, nor any of the instructions on how it works afterwards.  It is as if we had received the leaflet for the Meccano crane we wanted to build with the inventory of the parts needed, but none of the instructions for putting the crane together were there, nor were there any instructions on what to do with it afterwards to make it work.

Erwin Schrödinger – What is Life?
The molecular picture of the gene (DNA) makes it at least conceivable that the miniature code should be in one-to-one correspondence with a highly complicated and specified plan of development and should somehow contain the means of putting it into operation.  Very well then, but how does it do this?  How are we going to turn ‘conceivability’ into true understanding?
Delbruck’s molecular model, in its complete generality seems to contain no hint as to how the hereditary substance works.  Indeed, I do not expect that any detailed information on this question is likely to come from physics in the near future …. No detailed information about the functioning of the genetic mechanism can emerge from a description of its structure.

That is obvious.

The data – or more precisely the identifying codes for the data are there, but the process – the function isn’t.  The DNA code is just that and could be simply an identifier to get the organisms to the software processes.  It is less an inventory for life and more a hard wired index to software processes, some of which are the ones to create life.  Given that large portions of the DNA structure currently have unknown function, we may find it is an index to early [or even later] life processes.

Lyall Watson – Lifetide
The programmes which determine how a fish swims or a locusts flies, how a chaffinch sings or a baby smiles …….. are part of a long term fixed species or racial ‘memory’ and are open to negotiation only in the sense that individual personality may be altered by how much or how little these instructions get read

and

Erwin Schrödinger – What is Life?
How do the chromosomes behave on mitosis [cell division].  They duplicate both sets, both copies of the code.  The process has been intensively studied under the microscope and is of paramount interest … The salient point is that each of the two ‘daughter cells’ gets a dowry of 2 further complete sets of chromosomes exactly similar to the parent cell.  So all the body cells are exactly alike as regards their chromosome treasure.  ………….

The mere fact that we speak of heredity properties indicates that we recognise the permanence to be almost absolute.  For we must not forget that what is passed on by the parent to the child is not just this or that peculiarity – a hooked nose, short fingers, a tendency to rheumatism, haemophilia, dichromacy etc.  Such features we may conveniently select for studying the laws of heredity.  But actually it is the whole (four dimensional) pattern of the phenotype [i.e. it includes the development of the body over time] the visible and manifest nature of the individual, which is reproduced without appreciable change for generations.

Functions, mind, personality ....................

Lyall Watson – Heaven’s Breath
The biggest mystery of all is cell differentiation, the force which turns one cell in an embryo into an eye, while another, apparently identical and derived from the same fertilised egg, becomes a tooth or a toenail. 

There is nothing in physics or chemistry that can account for this manifest destiny, this awareness of purpose and design.  The blueprint is in the genes, but there are so many other rival plans filed there, that some power still needs to be exercised to turn to the right page, to select the relevant part of our elaborate inheritance. 

And as of now, we do not have a single physical or chemical candidate capable of carrying out such a complex piece of organisation.  It seems certain that life is more than just an assembly of bits and pieces, that an organism is more than the sum of its parts and has properties  and talents which do not exist in, and cannot be predicted from, its components.  There are things about life which are apparently not subject to the normal physical and chemical laws, and may never be explained on a physiochemical basis alone

Spirit.

 

Observations

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