I was listening to the CrossExamined radio program with Dr. Frank Turek from October 24th 2013. He was interviewing Dr. Stephen Meyer about his book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design.
During the conversation, Frank tells about a construction analogy from Stephen’s book. Reading from the book, Frank says (at about 14 minutes into the podcast):
“At a construction site builders will make use of many materials: lumber, nails, drywall, piping and windows, yet building materials do not determine the floor plan of the house or the arrangement of the houses in a neighborhood… in a similar way DNA does not itself direct how individual proteins are assembled into these larger systems and structures.”
Stephen then begins to expound on this whole idea by explaining the necessity of ‘epigenetic’ information in “building an animal”:
“In some ways, the most powerful argument against the neo-Darwinian mechanism is an argument based on ‘epigenetic’ information. …building an animal takes more than DNA and the gene products – the proteins. DNA makes proteins, but proteins have to be arranged into cell types, cell types into tissues, tissues into organs, organs and tissues into body plans. DNA only controls the construction of the low-level parts – the proteins. But we need this additional ‘epigenetic’ information, which is necessary to arrange the lower-level parts into the higher level structures. Now the Darwinian theory – neo-Darwinian theory – says that the source of new innovation in the history of life comes from mutations in DNA – mutations (or changes) in the lowest level in the informational hierarchy. But now that we know that it takes information at the higher levels, to build animals, what that shows is that you could mutate DNA indefinitely, without respect to time, or chance or number of trials – the universe could be infinitely old – and you would never produce an animal by merely mutating DNA, because all you would get in the best of cases would be new proteins, and those proteins have to be organized into higher structures and that requires other information that is not subject to mutations in DNA. So, the neo-Darwinian mechanism, I think, is now demonstrably false. It simply cannot accomplish the job that’s required. So, I think it’s time to move on, and that’s one of the arguments I made in the book [Darwin’s Doubt].”
After some response by Frank, Stephen goes on to say:
“..it isn’t a probability problem anymore. Mutating DNA is simply the wrong kind of mechanism for producing these higher level structures.”
This area of epigenetic information is an emerging area in developmental biology and according to Stephen, we are “only scratching the surface of our knowledge of this”.