DNA Code and Common Ancestry

As part of my attempt to always be increasing my knowledge of biology and science in general, I have discovered a wonderful resource on Youtube, provided by MIT. Essentially they film the lectures for a number of their courses and post them to YouTube for the public to view. This is an excellent resource for people wishing to learn more about basic biology, among other things. However, there is implicit evolutionary bias as might be expected from a secular university. Recently I was listening to a lecture by geneticist Dr. Eric Lander, who by the way lectures very informatively, and he made a very misleading statement that this article will challenge. He said “So the fact that all of life uses, essentially, exactly the same code, is pretty strong evidence that all currently existing life descends from a common ancestor.”

Lest anyone assume I am taking Dr. Lander out of context or misquoting him, I have linked the video at the end of this article. I fully believe that Dr. Lander is an excellent scientist. He was a major part of the Human Genome Project and his list of scientific accolades is lengthy. Further, he is also a good teacher. He makes concepts in biology clear, easy to understand, and enjoyable to discuss. That said, like many other scientists, he has bought into the evolutionary dogma and will not admit the possibility that it could be wrong.

The statement Dr. Lander made seems logical enough on the face of it. In fact, his next sentence in the video lays out the logic behind it pretty clearly. “Because if these were evolved independently, it’s extremely unlikely that you would have gotten exactly the same genetic code.” He’s correct. If evolution is true, this is what we would expect. That however, is also an expectation of a common designer.  If the same architect builds fifty houses, you would expect him to use the same style for those homes.  Common traits can be interpreted as evidence for either evolution or creation, depending on your worldview. More on worldviews in a moment, but, in this case, the evidence actually damages evolution rather than helping it.

As much as evolutionists would like the line of logic to halt right there, it does not. Having the same genetic code is great, but in the broad scheme of life, it is utterly meaningless. The code can be whatever it will. That matters not. What matters is the information contained in the code.  For example, in WWII, the Japanese had a torrid time trying to crack the Navajo code talkers code, ultimately failing in their attempts. However, what mattered was not what the Navajo said over the radio. The Japanese did not care about the Navajo language. What they cared about was the information contained in the Navajo language, information they desperately wanted but could not understand.  Essentially it was the information, not how it was expressed, that mattered.

While Dr. Lander, and other evolutionists, are correct in pointing out that almost all life shares common DNA code, they neglect to mention that the code is not what is important. The information in the code is what matters and this is where the common ancestry claim breaks down. Evolution essentially is the progress from simple to complex. It starts with a single cell bacteria like organism and eventually makes its way to a human.  The problem is in the information. Single celled bacteria have very little genetic information. They certainly do not have the information for even a multi-cellular organism like a hydra, let alone a human.  This requires new information arising somehow, a problem of which Dr. Lander, with his intimate knowledge of genetics, must be fully aware.  The issue is that there is no mechanism known to create new information.  When DNA replicates, it merely copies existing information. Even mutations merely scramble existing information, rather than providing anything new. Dr. Lander surely cannot be ignorant of these facts.  Yet he claims that common code is evidence of a common ancestor. Why would he would he make such a statement? The answer lies in Dr. Lander’s worldview.

Because Dr. Lander is an evolutionist, despite growing up Jewish, he has accepted the idea that the world somehow evolved naturalistically with no outside designer. He, and the scientific community at large, in order to continue so believing, have had to reject any possibility of God. Dr. Richard Lewontin is more honest than most. He admits that evolutionists will not allow for God. “We cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” Lewontin said. This is due to the implications. If there is a “divine foot” then there must be the rest of a divine body attached. If there is a divinity, secular scientists would have to consider the possibility that they need to discover who he is and what he wants, and that idea is repugnant to them.

Dr. Lander stating that common code is evidence for common ancestry is a logically sound statement, but it ignores all other possibilities and assumes evolution to be true. Further, common code fails to account for the vast variances and increases in information as you move up the evolutionary tree of life.  Common code is evidence of a common designer, not a common ancestor.


Dr. Lander’s lecture



  1. Actually, there is zero expectations from a so called common designer, designers can make things as similarly or different as they choose. This is especially true regarding phylogenetics. There is only one known and observed mechanism that produces objective nested tree-like structures, and that is reproduction. There is no functional reason or any design reason for unrelated organisms to show a nested pattern of disabling or redundant mutations, only common ancestry both predicts and explains this.

    For a more simple way of explaining this, think of two essays independently submitted by two students, just by chance and the fact that the essays are on the same topic, you would expect some similarities. What you would not expect if they were created independently is large portions of identical text including spelling mistakes, that would be clear evidence of copying. This is similar to what we see in genetics, except we use hundreds of “essays” and we find a nested pattern, groups within groups. This is not explained by common design.


    1. You appear to have completely missed the point of the article. Consider the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright: trained architects today can look at a house and know whether or not he built it. The houses are not on the same streets, or even in the same states, but they all exhibit the same characteristics. Further common ancestry does nothing to explain the fact that new information has to arise to get from a bacteria to a man. Where did that new information come from? Spare me the standard mutation explanation; mutations only scramble existing information, they create nothing new.

      As for the students writing an essay, the only reason they would be similar is if they had the same topic. But DNA code is not the topic of your illustration; it is the language of the topic. So instead what you have is two students turning in papers in the same language on vastly different topics. The language is the same, evidence of a common background, ie designer, but the information is vastly different, evidence of separate, unique design, not common ancestry.


      1. I’m not really sure why my reply has disappeared, but id like point out two things. First, the information argument is irrelevant to my point about common ancestry, mutations that are evidence for common ancestry are neutral, redundant or deleterious, they have nothing to do with new functions. Second, there are only two reasons two essay would contain the same spelling mistakes, either chance or common ancestry. Every common spelling mistake increases the likelihood of common ancestry and lowers the chance of chance. There are thousands of genetic mistakes that show common ancestry, common design has zero explanation.


      2. As stated in my previous comment, you are actually identifying a common designer as a common ancestor. The ancestor of an essay if you will is paper, pencil, and ink. The designer of the essay is the student who wrote it. Genetic mistakes actually disprove evolution. If there had been millions of years for evolution to occur, which the theory must have to be viable, then there should be a lot more mutations than there are. However, you, like myself, have an a priorii commitment. Yours is to reject any supernatural explanation for life because that would mean you’d have to face the possibility of a designer. Mine is to reject the possibility of a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life, because I know the God Who designed the world. The two views are incompatible and neither of us will change the others mind. I thank you for at least being civil in this discussion.


      3. As I already stated, there are only two explanations for the shared mistakes, chance and common ancestry, its really simple. The more shared mistakes, the high the probability of common ancestry. This simple principal is used in court rooms to settle paternity disputes and copyright disputes, as well as identifying and confirming known phylogenies.
        None of your other points have any bearing whatsoever on my simple argument, so even though they are incorrect, I wont address them here. Also, since you have admitted to a commitment to a prior position and are thereby unable to change your mind with rational argument, I will leave this here. I also appreciate your civility.


  2. Thanks for the reply. There are only two reasons that two essays would contain the same spelling mistakes, chance, or common ancestry. This principal is used in copy-write law to detect instances of fraud, in fact some authors deliberately include spelling mistakes to make it easy to detect. You seem to have misunderstood how this relates to DNA, the fact that all organisms use the same language (DNA) is irrelevant, what is relevant is that nested hierarchies of mutations are only explained by common ancestry. Common design predicts absolutely nothing about how similar or different two objects should be, especially when it comes to redundancy.


    1. See you have by default ignored the possibility that the essays share a common designer. If the same person wrote both essays, then the essay has a common designer, not a common ancestor. The essays did not evolve from a book slowly over millions of years. The fact that DNA is the common language of organisms is a huge deal. It either argues for a common designer, or a common ancestor, depending on each person’s preconceived worldview. You would not expect a student to write the same essay and submit it in two separate languages. Quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing about how mutations somehow prove evolution. Mutations add no new information. They only operate on existing information. They are almost exclusively deleterious, if not exclusively. They simply jumble what already exists, much like a toddler would take blocks of letters and play with them, making no readable words in the process.


      1. I see that this comment has appeared again, but Ive replied to your other comment so i wont repeat anything here. However, the point of the essay analogy is that is shows that shared mistakes identify a copying mechanism, which in biology is replication. The fact that the essay also had a common designer only shows that common design and common ancestry are not incompatible. However genetic mistakes dont require a designer, but they do require common ancestry.


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