Is DNA a real language?

This forum is for the discussion of the evidence for evolution. Anyone is welcome to post, however, scripture is not allowed. As the title says, Science Only please!

Moderator: Moderators

Is DNA a real language?

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:35 am

Hi guys, I'm new here and haven't read the entire archive, so let me know if this has been covered elsewhere.

Recently I've been running across the argument that DNA is a real language and thus proves God's existence since only a mind can create language. It seems obvious to me that DNA could only be called a language in a colloquial sense. Languages are arbitrary; words mean what they do by convention. DNA is not arbitrary; ATCG are real molecules that will obey physics regardless of convention. Plus DNA doesn't contain abstract information. Am I missing something? Have you guys run across this before and how would you respond?
Atheoscanadensis
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:00 pm

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby jon_12091 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:32 am

Welcome.

New one on me, though it sounds like the design argument colliding with musica humana.
'If I can shoot rabbits then I can shoot fascists'
Miners against fascism.
Hywel Francis
User avatar
jon_12091
 
Posts: 1472
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:59 pm

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby Brian Jordan » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:59 am

There's quite a bit of this stuff around, but it's hard to get to grips with it since not even the creationists really know what they mean by it. It's tied in with information theory and thermodynamics and a refusal to distinguish between Shannon and Kolmogorov information - along with a willful misrepresentation of thermodynamics - by practitioners such as Werner Gitt and Andy McIntosh.
Unfortunately, IIRC I've not come across a concise comprehensive debunking of it. Maybe just because it's so slippery.
"PPSIMMONS is an amorphous mass of stupid" - Rationalwiki
User avatar
Brian Jordan
Forum Admin
 
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:59 pm

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby cathy » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:39 am

Recently I've been running across the argument that DNA is a real language and thus proves God's existence since only a mind can create language.

In addition to your argument you have the fact that real languages have evolved - I'd imagine from grunts and squeeks to simple nouns and so on to words for abstract concepts with vocabularies becoming more sophisticated alongide us becoming more sophisticated. Haven't we got hundreds more word today than even Shakespeare had?

And as you say they are totally aribitrary or there would only be one. But anyone can make up a language, you just need a lot of people to agree on your arbitrary sound for an object or concept.

They were not perfectly created at once by some caveman with 'a mind' sitting down and writing a whole dictionary (or by use of some kind of god given dictionary) which I think is the comparison with DNA that the creationists are trying to make.

So it is not really a good analogy for the creationists to use - they are totally different things and you can't really call DNA a 'language' at all. Its a bit of a false comparison for them, but they like those cos they are tricky to argue againsts. The work on abiogenesis is probably most likely to be useful I'd guess.
cathy
 
Posts: 3662
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:51 pm
Location: Redditch

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:35 am

cathy wrote:
Recently I've been running across the argument that DNA is a real language and thus proves God's existence since only a mind can create language.

In addition to your argument you have the fact that real languages have evolved - I'd imagine from grunts and squeeks to simple nouns and so on to words for abstract concepts with vocabularies becoming more sophisticated alongide us becoming more sophisticated. Haven't we got hundreds more word today than even Shakespeare had?

And as you say they are totally aribitrary or there would only be one. But anyone can make up a language, you just need a lot of people to agree on your arbitrary sound for an object or concept.

They were not perfectly created at once by some caveman with 'a mind' sitting down and writing a whole dictionary (or by use of some kind of god given dictionary) which I think is the comparison with DNA that the creationists are trying to make.

So it is not really a good analogy for the creationists to use - they are totally different things and you can't really call DNA a 'language' at all. Its a bit of a false comparison for them, but they like those cos they are tricky to argue againsts. The work on abiogenesis is probably most likely to be useful I'd guess.

Brian Jordan wrote:There's quite a bit of this stuff around, but it's hard to get to grips with it since not even the creationists really know what they mean by it. It's tied in with information theory and thermodynamics and a refusal to distinguish between Shannon and Kolmogorov information - along with a willful misrepresentation of thermodynamics - by practitioners such as Werner Gitt and Andy McIntosh.
Unfortunately, IIRC I've not come across a concise comprehensive debunking of it. Maybe just because it's so slippery.


Thanks guys. It is a slippery argument. As soon as you hear it you think "That is absolutely absurd" but it's tricky to articulate it.
Atheoscanadensis
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:00 pm

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby psiloiordinary » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:31 am

If it is a language then it is simply recording the dialog between the environment and the phenotype as described in the recipe of the genotype, with a constant crackle of white noise sometimes louder sometimes quieter (genetic drift).
User avatar
psiloiordinary
 
Posts: 798
Joined: Thu Nov 23, 2006 11:03 am
Location: Yorkshire

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby Dr_GS_Hurd » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:47 pm

psiloiordinary wrote:If it is a language then it is simply recording the dialog between the environment and the phenotype as described in the recipe of the genotype, with a constant crackle of white noise sometimes louder sometimes quieter (genetic drift).



Good way to phrase it.

The "DNA is a language," or "DNA is like a book," or "DNA is like a computer program," all try to draw a false analogy between a human intelligence and information system and biology. In this case it is one also used by some geneticists when trying to explain genetics to non-scientists. For creationist examples, Francis S. Collins in his 2006 book "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief," or Steven C. Meyer in his 2009 “The Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design." (Collins is technically a theistic evolutionist, Meyer a YEC intelligent design advocate).
User avatar
Dr_GS_Hurd
 
Posts: 242
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:45 pm
Location: Dana Point, California

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby a_haworthroberts » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:38 pm

Few people consider Francis Collins a creationist (he advocates Biologos or theistic evolution).
a_haworthroberts
 
Posts: 7999
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:49 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby Atheoscanadensis » Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:47 pm

I was looking at Gitt's information theory and it seems to me that his second (unsupported) "empirical fact" that "No code can exist without a free and deliberate convention" would rule out DNA from his definition. As we know, DNA does what it does and conveys whatever information it conveys as the result of physical law, not any sort of convention. Thoughts?
Atheoscanadensis
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:00 pm

Re: Is DNA a real language?

Postby Brian Jordan » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:51 am

Still slippery. I'm sure Gitt et al would claim that there is a free and deliberate convention: designed by the God of the Gitts. Deus ex quantum physics, even. Oops, sorry, quantum physics ex deus, that should probably be.
I'm sure, if you press them hard enough, they'll claim that goddidit even unto the infinitesimal degree. They have to, because they've painted themselves into a corner.
"PPSIMMONS is an amorphous mass of stupid" - Rationalwiki
User avatar
Brian Jordan
Forum Admin
 
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:59 pm


Return to Science Only

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron