Consider the complexity behind everything, behind every living thing—animal or vegetable. As advanced as technology has become, it is still far from being able to emulate the wonders of nature’s architecture. Science has made great strides in recent years deciphering the enigma of DNA, but what secrets still remain hidden?
Each and every one of the vast processes necessary to every living cell was imprinted, at some moment in history, into a unique, marvelous, and exquisitely complex molecule. Whether this was due—as some suggest—to eons of trial and error or through careful design, divine in origin, modern geneticists still remain astonished at this mechanism. There is an ongoing investigation to probe the enigma hidden within the universe of our biology: Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA.
Molecules of DNA contain an overwhelming amount of information. If we were to dedicate ourselves to transcribing all the information necessary for life contained within these molecules, we could easily fill a small library with an encyclopedia of a thousand tomes.
Unwind each thread of DNA in our body, lay them out in a chain, and the last molecule would find itself in a very cold place—at a distance 500,000 times farther than from the earth to the moon! And all this, achieved through a few organic compounds or “nucleotides” arranged alternately in the molecule, can produce a complete and unique body with just a four-letter alphabet.
A Genuine Human Alphabet
In the mid-1970s, scientists developed the sequence for the chemical letters in DNA. In 1990, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Energy, and others set about to sequence the more than 3 billion letters found in the human genome to determine the complete set of DNA in the human body. This undertaking, called the Human Genome Project, was completed in 2003. These findings continue to bring numerous surprises to scientists around the world.
Many contemporary investigators studying the genomic language believe that the sophistication of this complex code provides tangential proof for the existence of God. While others, working from the same data, insist that the language reveals an indisputable argument that all living beings proceed from a common ancestor.
In recent years, many molecular biologists have tried to settle this debate, collaborating with cryptologists, statisticians, and linguists among other professions, striving to find the hidden message in this grand molecule. As a result, not only has our understanding and knowledge of the code been enriched, but in 2006 a second code was discovered superimposed on the first.
Molecular biologists have discovered that the DNA code and human language are not only comparable; they follow an identical pattern. Computer programs specialized to obtain information through a process of dividing the genome sequence into millions of parts, distinguish the mini-sequences as “words” of a big encyclopedia. Through subjecting these “words” to Zipf’s Law, known in linguistics as the governing principle behind the totality of human languages (from Chinese to English), scientists were dumbfounded to discover that the genetic code followed the same law.
Zipf’s Law states that in any text, be it a book or an article, the most repeated word will appear many more times than the second most repeated, which itself will be repeated many more times than the third most repeated, and so on successively. The genetic code appears to follow the same law, which for many is the greatest indication of a higher intelligence. And just imagine: If a second code has been found in this already complex system at the infancy of mankind’s genetic cartography, could there be other languages still hidden inside the genetic map?
While mankind has managed to chart the human genome, very little of this vast molecule is completely understood. Scientists have discovered that the number of active genes in our species, and in the many others as equally complex, is simply absurd. Nearly 96 percent of our whole genome is at first glance useless—not engaging in activities of any perceivable importance to the cell.
Because it appears identical in all organisms, some scientists believe that this significant genetic portion acts as a kind of historic library—linking us with all the other species on the planet, including fungus, bacteria, and the extinct dinosaurs. As the “junk” does not appear to play a vital role in our cellular functions, this camp of researchers asserts that an overwhelming portion of our DNA serves merely to demonstrate an evolution that took place over millions of years.
But such genetic similarity (verified in all species) could actually be a deceptive illusion on the path to interpreting the true origin of DNA. In fact, scientists have already discovered that the language stored in this not-yet-understood segment could in fact play an important role in the life of the organism, connecting it to a history and origin not yet known.
Official members of the Human Genome Project declared in January 2007 that DNA junk could not have originated on this Earth through explainable chemical processes. Likewise, molecular biologist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule in 1953, noted that while there were no evolutionary “indicators” more simple than the DNA chain, the molecule simply seemed to have materialized out of nothing overnight.
The Molecule of Life: an Unfathomable Technology
Placed beside the marvel of DNA, the fruits obtained through human technology are considerably less stunning. From our hunter-gatherer ancestors to today, humanity has developed the capacity to build ever taller skyscrapers, design supersonic aircraft, send satellites into space, and construct supercomputers. But despite our phenomenal accomplishments, science has yet to create anything that remotely compares with the complexity of a cell.
The basic unit of all organisms is infinitely more intricate than any supercomputer, yet the idea that a DNA molecule could spontaneously evolve from simple primordial components in the remote past is one that many scientists doggedly insist upon. This theory faces astounding statistical odds given that the molecular combinations which could have given rise to the simplest bacteria in prehistoric conditions are one in a billion—a figure that far surpasses what statisticians consider a practical impossibility.
Is the molecular architecture achieved in a DNA molecule—containing all the information necessary for a being to grow, reproduce, eat, metabolize, and interact with others—due to the evolutionary processes, the divine creation of a superior intelligence, or even, as some suggest, the result of a genetic manipulation by advanced extra-terrestrials? While mankind has managed to draw a map of this tiny universe, the meanings and purposes behind its various components still remain an elusive mystery.