His ideas about the information inside the cell
Back in Darwin’s day, scientists didn’t know what type or quantity of information was embedded within the cell. Darwin assumed it would be very elementary—only a few instructions to tell the cell how to function.
Because he believed in the simplicity of the information of the cell, he came up with a theory called "pangenesis," where huge variations simply popped out of cells at random—something that was later proven
to be entirely false.
Moreover, 150 years later, the information inside the cell is now known to be truly mind-boggling.
First, you have to consider what type of information is stored inside the nucleus of a cell. It turns out to be a genetic language—equipped with a four-letter digital alphabet and even grammatical rules—vastly superior to any computer language ever designed by man. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, stated that "DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created" (The Road Ahead, 1995, p. 188).
Inside the nucleus of each human cell are found thousands of carefully codified instructions (called genes) that have to be translated, transported and reproduced. Information, scientists have realized, is not made of matter—it has no mass, length or width—but it can be conveyed by matter. Neither has it been shown that information can evolve or be improved through mutations.
Each human DNA molecule contains some three billion genetic letters—and, incredibly, the error rate of the cell, after all the molecular editing machines do their job, is only one copying mistake (called a point mutation) for every 10 billion letters!
As physicist and chemist Jonathan Sarfati explains: "The amount of information that could be stored in a pinhead’s volume of DNA is equivalent to a pile of paperback books 500 times as high as the distance from Earth to the moon, each with a different, yet specific content. Putting it another way, while we think that our new 40 gigabyte hard drives are advanced technology, a pinhead of DNA could hold 100 million times more information" (DNA: Marvelous Messages or Mostly Mess? March 2003, online edition).
Could evolution and natural selection, without any intelligence behind them, create such precise and sophisticated DNA instructions—including the instincts, found in every species, that enable creatures to survive? It takes far more faith to believe that blind, random evolution could come up with such amazing DNA information than to believe an Intelligent Designer is behind this astounding amount of accurately coded language!
Remarkably, the discovery of this enormous quantity and quality of information inside the cell led a highly respected philosopher and atheist to renounce his belief that no intelligence was behind the design of the creatures we see around us.
"What I think the DNA material has done," says Sir Antony Flew of Great Britain, formerly one of the world’s leading atheists, "is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce [life], that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.
"It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence" (There Is a God, 2007, p. 75).
Everything we know about DNA indicates that it programs a species to remain within the limits of its own general type. Genetic changes that do occur are typically small and inconsequential, while large mutations, rather than producing improved and novel designs, are overwhelmingly harmful to the organism’s survival.
Darwin assumed the information inside the cell would prove to be simple, but he was flat wrong. Instead, it turned out to be of astonishing quantity, quality and complexity.