I went on to accept the idea that hallucinations could be a source of verifiable information. And I ended up with a hypothesis suggesting that a human mind can communicate in defocalized consciousness with the global network of DNA-based life. All this contradicts principles of Western knowledge.
According to their theory of natural selection, organisms presented slight variations from one generation to the next, which were either retained or eliminated in the struggle for survival. This idea rested on a circular argument: Those who survive are die most able to survive. But it seemed to explain both the variation of species and the astonishing perfection of the natural world, as it retained only the improvements.
Above all, it took God out of the picture and enabled biologists to study nature without having to worry about a divine plan within.
The DNA molecule seemed to demonstrate the materiality of heredity and to provide the missing mechanism. As DNA is self-duplicating and transmits its information to proteins, biologists concluded that information could not flow back from proteins to DNA; therefore, genetic variation could only come from errors in the duplication process.
Francis Crick termed this the "central dogma" of the young discipline called molecular biology.
The discovery of DNA's role and the formulation in molecular terms of the theory of natural selection gave a new impetus to materialist philosophy.
It became possible to contend on a scientific basis that life was a purely material phenomenon.
Francis Crick wrote:
Francois Jacob, another Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist, wrote:
The materialist approach in molecular biology went from strength to strength - but it rested on the improvable presupposition that chance is the only source of novelty in nature, and that nature is devoid of any goal, intention, or consciousness.
Jacques Monod, also a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist, expressed this idea clearly in his famous essay Chance and necessity:
Biologists thought they had found the truth, and they did not hesitate to call it "dogma."
Strangely, their newfound conviction was hardly troubled by the discovery in the 1960s of a genetic code* that is the same for all living beings and that bears striking similarities to human coding systems, or languages. To transmit information, the genetic code uses elements (A, G, C, and T) that are meaningless individually, but that form units of significance when combined, in the same way that letters make up words.
The genetic code contains 64 three-letter "words," all of which have meaning, including two punctuation marks.
Admittedly, I was on the lookout for anything unusual, as my investigation had led me to consider that DNA and its cellular machinery truly were an extremely sophisticated technology of cosmic origin. But as I pored over thousands of pages of biological texts, I discovered a world of science fiction that seemed to confirm my hypothesis.
Proteins and enzymes were described as "miniature robots," ribosomes were "molecular computers," cells were "factories," DNA itself was a "text," a "program," a "language," or "data." One only had to do a literal reading of contemporary biology to reach shattering conclusions; yet most authors display a total lack of astonishment and seem to consider that life is merely "a normal physiochemical phenomenon." 5
There, I thought, is the Ashanincas sky-rope: It is inside us and is certainly long enough to connect earth and heaven. What did biologists make of this cosmic number? Most of them did not even mention it, and those who did talked of a "useless but amusing fact."
This is an old problem: Knowledge calls for more knowledge, or, as Jean Piaget wrote,
Yet few biological texts discuss the unknown.
They carry atoms to precise places inside or outside the cell. They act as pumps or motors. They form receptors that trap highly specific molecules or antennae that conduct electrical charges. Like versatile marionettes, or jacks-of-all-trades, they twist, fold, and stretch into the shape their task requires.
What is known, precisely, about these "self-assembling machines"?
According to Alwyn Scott, a mathematician with an interest in molecular biology:
Enzymes are large proteins that accelerate cellular activities.
They act with disarming speed and selectivity. One enzyme in human blood, carbonic anhydrase, can assemble single-handedly over a half million molecules of carbonic acid per second. The enzymes which both repair the double helix in case of damage and correct any errors in the DNA replication process make only one mistake every ten billion letters.
Enzymes read the DNA text, transcribe it into RNA, edit out the non-coding passages, splice together the final message, construct the machines that read the instructions and build... other enzymes.
What is known, precisely, about these "molecular automata"?
According to biologists Chris Calladine and Horace Drew:
Shamans say the correct way to talk about spirits is in metaphors.
Biologists confirm this notion by using a precise array of anthropocentric and technological metaphors to describe DNA, proteins, and enzymes. DNA is a text, or a program, or data, containing information, which is read and transcribed into messenger-RNAs. The latter feed into ribosomes, which are molecular computers that translate the instructions according to the genetic code. They build the rest of the cells machinery, namely the proteins and enzymes, which are miniaturized robots that construct and maintain the cell.
During cell division, chromosomes double themselves and assemble by pairs. The two sets of chromosomes then line up along the middle of the cell and migrate toward their respective pole, each member of each pair always going in the direction opposite to its companions.
How could this "amazing, stately pavane" 9 occur without some form of intention? In biology, this question is simply not asked.
DNA is "just a chemical," 10 deoxyribonucleic acid, to be precise.
Biologists describe it as both a molecule and a language, making it the informational substance of life, but they do not consider it to be conscious, or alive, because chemicals are inert by definition.
As I patrolled the texts of biology, I discovered that the natural world was teeming with examples of behaviors that seem to require forethought.
Some crows manufacture tools with standardized hooks and toothed probes to help in their search for insects hidden in holes. Some chimpanzees, when infected with intestinal parasites, eat bitter, foul-tasting plants, which they otherwise avoid and which contain biologically active compounds that kill intestinal parasites.
Some species of ants, with brains the size of a grain of sugar, raise herds of aphids which they milk for their sweet secretions and which they keep in barns. Other ants have been cultivating mushrooms as their exclusive food for fifty million years.12
It is difficult to understand how these insects could do this without a form of consciousness.
Yet scientific observers deny them this faculty, like Jacques Monod, who considers the behavior of bees to be "automatic":
Indeed, the "postulate of objectivity" prevents its practitioners
from recognizing any intentionality in nature or, rather, it
nullifies their claim to science if they do so.
I also discovered one of its more pernicious effects: The rational approach tends to minimize what it does not understand.
But this does not hide the pejorative reflex: We don't understand, so we shoot first, then ask questions. This is cowboy science, and it is not as objective as it claims. Neutrality, or simple honesty, would have consisted in saying "for the moment, we do not know." It would have been just as easy to call it mystery DNA, for instance.
But biology tends to project its presuppositions onto the reality it observes, claiming that nature itself is devoid of intention.
A single nicotinic receptor, forming a highly specific lock coupled to an equally selective channel, is made of five juxtaposed protein chains that contain a total of 2,500 amino acids lined up in die right order. Despite the improbability of the chance emergence of such a structure, even nematodes, which are among the most simple multicellular invertebrates, have nicotinic receptors.15
Robert Wesson writes in his book Beyond natural selection:
Other researchers have pointed out the improbability of the mechanism that is supposed to be the source of variation - namely, the accumulation of errors in the genetic text.
It seems obvious that,
How, then, could such a process lead to the prodigies of the natural world, of which we are a part?
J. Madeleine Nash writes in her review of recent research in paleontology:
Throughout the fossil record, species seem to appear suddenly, fully formed and equipped with all sorts of specialized organs, then remain stable for millions of years.
For instance, there Is no intermediate form between the terrestrial ancestor of the whale and the first fossils of this marine mammal. Like their current descendants, the latter have nostrils situated atop their heads, a modified respiratory system, new organs like a dorsal fin, and nipples surrounded by a cap to keep out seawater and equipped with a pump for underwater suckling.19
The whale represents the rule, rather than the exception. According to biologist Ernst Mayr, an authority on the matter of evolution, there is,
A similar problem exists at the cellular level.
Microbiologist James Shapiro writes:
In the middle of the 1990s, biologists sequenced the first complete genomes of free-living organisms.
So far, the smallest known bacterial genome contains 580,000 DNA letters.22 This is an enormous amount of information, comparable to the contents of a small telephone directory. When one considers that bacteria are the smallest units of life as we know it, it becomes even more difficult to understand how the first bacterium could have taken form spontaneously in a lifeless, chemical soup.
How can a small telephone directory of information emerge from random processes?
These master genes also seem to be highly conserved across species. For example, flies and human beings have a very similar gene that controls the development of the eye, though their eyes are very different.
Geneticist André Langaney writes that the existence of master genes,
Recent gene mapping has revealed that, in some areas of the DNA text, genes are thirty times more dense than in other areas, and some of the genes appear to clump together in families that work on similar problems.
In some cases, gene clumps are highly conserved across species, as in the X chromosome of mice and humans, for example. In both species, the X chromosome is a giant molecule of DNA, some 160 million nucleotides long; it is one of the pair of chromosomes that determine whether an offspring is male or female.
The mapping of the X chromosome has shown that genes are bunched
together mostly in five gene-rich regions, with lengthy, apparently
desert regions of DNA in between, and that mice and humans have much
the same set of genes on their X chromosomes even though the two
species have followed separate evolutionary paths for 80 million
Robert Pollack proposes,
This seems to be a sensible suggestion, but it begs the question: How can one analyze a text if one presupposes that no intelligence wrote it?
Pier Luigi Luisi talks of the,
The circularity of the Darwinian theory means that it is not falsifiable and therefore not truly scientific.
The "falsifiability criterion" is the cornerstone of twentieth-century scientific method. It was developed by philosopher Karl Popper, who argued that one could never prove a scientific theory to be correct, because only an infinite number of confirming results would constitute definitive proof.
Popper proposed instead to test theories in ways that seek to contradict, or falsify, them; the absence of contradictory evidence thereby becomes proof of the theory's validity.
Biology is currently divided between a majority who consider the
theory of natural selection to be true and established as fact and a
minority who question it.
However, the critics of natural selection have yet to come up with a
new theory to replace the old one and institutions sustain current
orthodoxies by their inertia. A new biological paradigm is still a
long way off.
To sum up:
contravenes the founding principle of the molecular biology that is
the current orthodoxy.