Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Frozen accidents...

Back in May I wrote a post titled Ultra-conservative DNA in which we see certain DNA sequences that supposedly evolved to a certain state (and, more importantly, function) and then stopped - or, froze - in place. Per the August 3rd edition of Reasons to Believe's webcast Creation Update we hear of a study titled Why nature chose A, C, G and U/T: An error-coding perspective of nucleotide alphabet composition. From the study's abstract,
The question of whether the size and make-up of the natural nucleotide alphabet is a consequence of selection pressure, or simply a frozen accident, is one of the fundamental questions of biology. Nucleotide replication is essentially an information transmission phenomenon, and so it seems reasonable to explore the issue from the perspective of theoretical computer science, and of error-coding theory in particular. In this analysis it is shown that the essential recognition features of nucleotides may be naturally expressed as 4-digit binary numbers, capturing the hydrogen acceptor/donor patterns (3-bits) and the purine/pyrimidine feature (1-bit). Optimal alphabets consist of nucleotides in which the purine/pyrimidine feature is related to the acceptor/donor pattern as a parity bit. Numerically interpreted, such alphabets correspond to parity check codes, simple but effective error-resistant structures. The natural alphabet appears to be an adaptation of one of two optimal solutions, constrained to its present size and composition by a combination of chemical and coding-theory factors. (emphasis added)
Given that the evolutionary paradigm posits natural selection as a blind and unguided process, it is no wonder that potential plateaus in the process are defined as frozen accidents. It's also interesting that the process being addressed, that of parity check codes, is that of intelligent action. Hardly an accident. If nucleotide replication is essentially information transfer, and if theoretical computer science and error-coding theory allow us to analyze the parity check codes contained within the nucleotide alphabets, what could be driving the conclusion that the entire process was driven by determinism and chance? From the Christian's perspective, God created mankind in His image. One of the many implications of such a doctrine is that God has endowed mankind with creative ability inasmuch as God expresses His creative ability. The pre-existence of information, alphabets, parity check codes, and the like, should not be surprising in that one would expect the God of the Bible to express His creative ability in forms that mankind could not only recognize, but have the ability to develop as well.

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