Life Origin

A Scientific Approach

Edited for the Non-Scientist

Genetics uses symbolism to prescribe biofunction.  How did the formal symbolism of genetics arise in non-living nature?  

Each DNA codon prescribes a certain amino acid.

What’s a codon?  A codon consists of three specific nucleotides in a row in the DNA string of nucleotides.  So, we have a nucleotide language that uses three-letter codon words (words consisting of three nucleotide letters).   And, we have an amino acid language that uses amino acid letter strings to spell needed protein words.  Protein words are extremely long words, just like German words are much longer than English words.   

The nucleotide language, with nucleotide letters and three-letter codon words, has to be translated into the amino acid language for any instructions to be conveyed from DNA to protein manufacture.  Translation from one language to another language is a formal function, not a physicochemical function.1-4

The bonds between nucleotides are all the same.  The bonds between amino acids are all the same.  No physicochemical preference exists for any certain sequence to form (polymerize) in DNA, RNA or proteins.   The sequencing of nucleosides in DNA is completely arbitrary from the standpoint of physical law. 

Only one form of causation determines the sequencing of DNA code: formal Choice Causation, not Physical Causation.”  DNA is programmed not by physics or chemistry, but by programming decisions.5-8

We might not be willing, if we are true believers in naturalism, to admit that DNA can only be programmed by programming decisions.  But those are the facts.  Chance cannot program DNA.  No programmer in the history of cybernetics has ever programmed a nontrivial program by flipping a coin at each decision node.   

Physical law cannot program DNA, either.  If Physical law programmed DNA, DNA would consist of all the same nucleotide.  DNA would be, for example, a polyadenosine:  a long string of nothing but adenosines - all the same nucleotide - by law!  This is exactly what happens when nucleic acid is polymerized on a clay surface?all the same nucleotide in the DNA string.  No programming would be possible in such a DNA. 

It is impossible to program anything without freedom from law?without the freedom to purposefully choose between a “0” or a “1”. 1,9,10  

How did the first genetic program get written using a formal symbol system?  A program consists of formal, nonphysical, symbolic instructions recorded into a physical medium.  Chance and necessity cannot symbolize.11  The recorded 0’s and 1’s in any program are representations of purposeful choices.  They symbolize commands for on/off, yes/no, and right/left turns.   Physical mass and energy cannot engage in nonphysical, formal representationalism.11   

Each nucleotide selection in the DNA strand must correspond to the setting of a physicodynamically inert configurable switch.  That means that the only factor setting the switch or picking the nucleotide is choice contingency, not chance contingency or physical law.12   

Each codon symbolizes, represents and prescribes a certain amino acid. This formal function cannot be performed by anything other than Choice Determinism, not Physicodynamic Determinism.7

The All known life is cybernetic.  Life is programmed.  It has to be processed and literally computed.  Programming choices consist of nucleotide selections at each locus in the DNA prescription.  Each codon functions in a symbol system to record the purposeful choice at each decision node.13-16

Can inanimate nature symbolize purposeful choices?   Can physicochemical reactions represent anything?   These are formal functions, not physical reactions.  Inanimate nature cannot make purposeful choices.  Nature cannot practice formalisms.  All forms of formalism require choice contingency—purposeful choices.  Purposeful choices do not arise from spontaneous mass and energy conversions.   Chance and necessity (law) cannot program, steer or regulate.  Physicality cannot optimize at the programming level.  The most evolution can do is to favor the best already programmed, already processed, already-living organisms.  But, how did they get programmed and processed in the first place?

The symbolization of programming choices must be accurately interpreted and acted upon.  Physics and chemistry know nothing of symbolization, instructions, coding, decoding, compression/decompression, usefulness, functions, goals or being alive.  A physical body is alive only because of its formal organization, programmed controls, regulation and management.  All of these require symbolization and symbol system instruction to achieve.17

What exactly exerted selection “pressure” on initial genetic symbols (nucleosides) in a prebiotic environment?   Evolution cannot program.  Mutations (typographical errors) cannot program.  Mutations can only modify existing programs.  The modifications of existing programs brought about by mutations are nothing more than typographical errors.  Since when was any PhD thesis improved by typographical errors?  Naturalistic biologists freely admit that only one mutation out of a million is beneficial.  It is a real stretch to consider even that one in a million mutations to be “beneficial.”  A prime example is the sickle cell anemia mutation that leaves red cells so crenated, screwed-up and poorly functional that not even the malaria parasite wants anything to do with them!  This “malaria resistance” is what is called “beneficial” by macro evolutionary imagination. Ask any sickle cell anemia patient how “beneficial” their sickle cell anemia mutation is!

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  2. Abel DL. Prescriptive Information (PI) [Scirus SciTopic Page]. 2009; [Last accessed: March, 2015].
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  12. Abel DL, ed The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, NY: LongView Press-Academic; 2011.
  13. Abel DL, Trevors JT. Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modeling. 2005;2:29-45.
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  16. Abel DL, Trevors JT. More than Metaphor: Genomes are Objective Sign Systems. In: Barbieri M, ed. BioSemiotic Research Trends. New York: Nova Science Publishers; 2007:1-15 Also available from
  17. Abel DL. Primordial Prescription: The Most Plaguing Problem of Life Origin Science New York, N. Y.: LongView Press Academic; 2015.