I have often contended that the most basic components of a living cell are essentially information driven molecular machinery. In other words there are two primary components on the mechanical level – information which contains sets of instructions and machinery to read those instructions and carry them out. And this isn’t a mere analogy – that is actually what we find in the cell in terms of its processes and mechanics. I was reminded of this again when reading comments by geneticist Craig Venter in an article in New Scientist:
“All living cells that we know of on this planet are ‘DNA software’-driven biological machines comprised of hundreds of thousands of protein robots, coded for by the DNA, that carry out precise functions,” said Venter. “We are now using computer software to design new DNA software.”
Now I have no doubt Venter thinks this software and machinery evolved. Given that he isn’t a theist, he has to believe this. But that fact is irrelevant to the point that he has correctly identified the essential nature of life and how it operates. He has not only identified it, but he has put that knowledge into practice by programing the software and using it to operate the machinery of the cell showing further that cellular systems are not merely analogous to information systems but in fact are information processing systems.
This fact should be the greatest cause of skepticism of materialism and naturalism when we come to understand that there is not a single shred of evidence that such systems can come about through unguided processes. The only known and demonstrable way to develop machinery which processes information is through planning, design and application of the knowledge of such systems. It might have been possible before we ourselves developed such systems to imagine they could originate from natural processes, but now that we have been engineering such sophisticated technology ourselves for decades such a belief is no longer an intellectually valid option. And given that the knowledge gained by our own development is applicable to the technology found in the cell tells us that they share a common original mechanism.
Now one could still imagine that life developed through a series of incidental modifications to these core systems to develop the diversity we see on earth today. One could also look at the similarities contained within the software that operates all of life and imagine that the systems all share a common origin at some point at time. I think there are better explanations, but an intellectually honest person could imagine these things. What one could not claim and be a person of intellectual honesty and or understanding is that the system of software and requisite machinery originated apart from the knowledge necessary to build such systems. To believe such a thing would be to ignore everything we know about information processing, software development and machine engineering
In other words, that one could only believe life originated as the result of unguided mechanical processes is by neccesity a tenet of utterly blind faith.