|If DNA is Software, Who Wrote The Code?||by: Tom Bunzel|
From our experience with computers, we know that all software requires intentional intelligence to create. This raises very deep questions about our very being — and about the objectivity of our science.
DNA as software is not merely a metaphor – it is fact.
Geneticists now edit DNA as a software program by sequencing – or decoding its meaning and intent.
Could DNA and life itself be an accident?
or will science have to expand to accommodate a far wider sense of reality?
Recently an article in SF Gate by Deepak Chopra and Pankaj S. Joshi, PhD
“Can There Be a Science of Consciousness?”
had this amazing quote:
“By taking for granted the obvious fact that it takes a mind to do science, we’ve reached the point where science is leaving out the very component that might answer the questions that urgently need answering, not because philosophy demands it but because science does.”
As a longtime admirer of Deepak’s work, I had reached out to him on several occasions because I felt his most recent book, You Are the Universe, co-authored with Menas Kafatos, PhD, resonated with my own ideas about the significance of sequencing (or decoding) DNA.
The mystery of DNA to me is as compelling a clue as the existence of the pyramids, precisely because as someone who discovered computer programming late in life, I recognized in its structure that it functions literally as an “organic programming language.”
This became apparent to me and affected me deeply after seeing a video by geneticist Juan Enriquez on TED in which he says flatly an “apple is an application; when the sun hits it the program executes, and the apple falls from the tree.
In my own book, If DNA is Software, Who Wrote The Code? — The Profound Significance of Life’s Programming Language, I explain that software (or computer code) has identical properties to DNA (and may be a stark example of inadvertent biomimicry).
Extracting meaning from different symbols — in this case A, C, T, and G, which represent chemicals or proteins — allowed scientists to resurrect extinct species by “copying and pasting” DNA code.
Comparing it to other well-known types of “software,” it seemed to me that DNA, like Google, Microsoft, and Apple programs, must somehow be a product of “mind” and not simply a random evolutionary occurrence (as modern science would have us believe).
My entreaty — which came after some attempts at trying to persuade Deepak that this insight is a powerful complement to his own work — finally received a positive response; however, Deepak cautioned me, as he had done in the past, to “always remember that DNA is a construct in consciousness.”
Indeed all words — or concepts — are constructs of consciousness or mind; as even sophists must agree, the ONLY thing we know for sure is Mind — that we are here as Mind (not body) right NOW.
Mind is the one undeniable aspect of reality
that we know from direct experience.
Everything else can be seen as arising therefrom.
For many at the Science and Nonduality Conference, where I first met Deepak, even the body is a “construct” in mind — it is a word to describe something that is known only through information from the senses — like everything else.
In actuality, as Deepak would point out in support of his own contention that consciousness is ALL, there is no “separate” body. We have “overlaid” this construct on reality to reduce reality to components that we can understand and seemingly manipulate.
This is precisely the message of philosophy that Deepak urges science to finally address, and for which he makes the case so powerfully in the quote above.
Mind is the one undeniable aspect of reality that we know from direct experience. Everything else can be seen as arising therefrom.
As Deepak so eloquently points out, all thoughts, perceptions, and sensations arise in consciousness.
One can experience this profoundly with “virtual reality,” in which one experiences that the input of information about a completely different world — that also uses the sensory inputs of touch (and perhaps even taste and smell) in addition to sight and sound — so that we cannot readily distinguish exactly what is “real.” This has given rise to anthropomorphic projections like “The Universe is a Hologram” (or simulation) in new cosmological theories among techies.
But it really comes back to the FACT of mind, and that everything we know, or think we know, is mind product. And returning to DNA as software — we protect our computer software as intellectual property — mind stuff. Of course this is also intimately connected to our conviction that we “own” software as separate beings….
It is precisely this difficult recognition of the “facticity” of MIND that I believe can be made apparent to many through a comparison of DNA to our own software, all of which has been created as “intellectual property,” or mind product.
It was my belief, in writing my own book, that this stark recognition of apparent mind-product and the organic programming language at the heart of our own biology might finally reveal the delusion of materialism.
The recognition of DNA as software …
point to one undeniable reality: There
must exist or have once existed mind or
minds far more powerful than our own.
Other relatively recent discoveries have taken us part of the way there. The vast “invisible” portions of the electromagnetic spectrum and now the movement of information wirelessly all point directly to the inadequacy of our materially “constructed’ view of reality.
Among the constructs we have created is the notion of a hierarchy of mind — of greater and lesser intelligence. We see this in other species. Cetaceans, it turns out, have brains larger than ours, and language, so we attribute a measure of intelligence to them equal to or perhaps greater than ours.
The recognition of DNA as software — again like the ancient monoliths around our globe — point to one undeniable reality:
In this context it is interesting to note that artificial intelligence is currently being used to finally attempt to use dolphin language (sonar and clicks) to actually communicate with these amazing creatures in a true “meeting of the minds.”
But if we can posit some sort of hierarchy of mind — or intelligence — then again we can see that in our own encoded intelligence — computer programming — it requires massive mental power to create a Windows operating system or a Photoshop program.
So if we ask ourselves what sort of “mind” could evolve itself as DNA — an inconceivable mass of code that as Eckhart Tolle says is the “intelligence which runs our bodies” and is infinitely more intelligent than we are — we must finally acknowledge DNA for what we now know it to be: encoded intelligence or software.
This obvious anomaly is the most inconvenient of all truths for modern science.
It should bring us profoundly back to the reality of mind as the ultimate barrier to our own continuing scientific inquiries, as it has in quantum physics.
It would require us to revise the words of Descartes to “I AM, therefore, I think.” Because clearly the being of mind, and intelligence, predates “our” arrival on the scene.
As Deepak points out, the starkest aspect of reality — Mind — and its fundamental code have been hiding in plain sight; and as Eckhart Tolle refers to it, consciousness/mind is “no thing.”
If an organic programming language has been at the heart of evolution, then Mind must be the programming energy.
I first became interested in biomimicry when it pointed out the many natural forms that follow the Fibonacci sequence, suggesting a mathematical perfection at the heart of nature that organic life emulates as it evolves.
The Biomimicry Institute has this definition:
“Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”
Examples from the website:
- Learning from humpback whales how to create efficient wind power
- Learning from termites how to create sustainable buildings
- Learning from kingfishers how to break through boundaries
- Learning from mosquitos to create “a nicer needle”
Other examples would include Velcro and aerodynamic designs based on other birds and insects.
To the extent that nature “mimics” mathematics and geometry it already begins to suggest the primacy of consciousness or an intelligence at the heart of Being.
Eckhart Tolle says that, for example, an immense intelligence regulates your breath, circulation, elimination, sexuality, and all of your bodily functions without the intervention of your “conscious” self.
Scientists like Robert Lanza who coined the term Biocentrism suggest that a more viable scientific approach is to take nature as primary, and our thoughts (discoveries, measurements, etc.) about nature as a byproduct of organic processes.
DNA is the only software or “active”
encoded intelligence that was not
“written” by a team of programmers.
But isn’t it possible to look at the phenomenon
of software from this same perspective?
I have asked the question — “If DNA is software,
who wrote the code?” because with the sequencing
of DNA the discovery has been made that it operates as computer software.
And as a relatively new phenomenon in human history, from our current perspective, we can see that DNA is the only software or “active” encoded intelligence that was not “written” by a team of programmers.
When I asked about this to skeptics like Michael Shermer or other conventional scientists, the answer to how code could arise organically from inanimate matter — when it clearly conveys a “meaning” that is intentional” — is always “evolution” or “natural selection.”
But if we instead consider the possibility of consciousness being primary, then the invention of software makes perfect sense as a wonderful example of biomimicry (through evolution); it is the unconscious recreation of the natural evolution to order from chaos (mathematics) through the intervention of Mind.
Even in scripture this is metaphorically suggested — we were created in the “image” of God – perhaps not in a “personal” sense but in the realm of forms or ideas — as Plato suggested — in fact mimicking the geometric and mathematical perfection of an absolute intelligence.
When considering DNA the concept, “in the beginning was the Word” makes an entirely different impression when one views code. Code as symbolic mimicry of nature is in fact sequenced in the letters A, C, T and G, whose “meaning” simply represents the activity and combination of chemical agents that do the “work” — of regulating biology.
In our software the meaning of the code is conveyed in actual English words. If you look at the source code of any webpage you will see the expression of a page in a web browser represented in English, cryptic to the nonprogrammer but perfectly logical (or it won’t work).
Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine
She extrapolated the possibilities to suggest that future iterations (with more powerful calculating abilities) could begin to simulate human mental activity to perform various intellectual tasks.
She was the first computer scientist to imagine a programming language.
From a New Yorker piece about Ms. Lovelace:
- “This science constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world, and those unceasing changes of mutual relationship which, visibly or invisibly, consciously or unconsciously to our immediate physical perceptions, are interminably going on in the agencies of the creation we live amidst.
- “A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world, are brought into more intimate and effective connection with each other.”
— Ada Lovelace (Betsy Moray, New Yorker, 10/15/2013)
Of course we now recognize DNA as an organic programming language — sort of a
In the quote above it is interesting to note that even Ms. Lovelace refers to an “expression of the great facts of the natural world,” revealing the attitude of a time when science did not yet anoint itself as an objective perspective with respect to nature.
Now, contemplated from the perspective of Biocentrism and biomimicry, I wonder if we can begin to reframe the reality of computer “science” as indeed the as yet unconscious expression of that immense intelligence at the heart of nature and begin to see our proper relationship to it as one of reverence and awe; our own intelligence is a pale shadow (from Plato’s cave) of what we are in fact mimicking with our software of Google, Apple, and Microsoft…
From this perspective our science would become a sacred enterprise in its awareness that we are in fact mimicking or simply reinterpreting and reintegrating the secrets of nature itself.
Instead of just mimicking the forms of nature, with software we are mimicking its conscious intelligence.
From this same viewpoint it makes infinite sense that in the ancient world the constant mathematical absolutes of Pi and Phi (the Fibonacci sequence) were regarded as in fact sacred, and the expression of a deity that was not personal, but rather perfect at a level unattainable through purely human reason.
Rather than seeing DNA as an anomaly somehow coincidentally mimicking our own creation of encoded intelligence — “software” — rather we might now reverse the inference and see software, rather, as a higher expression of our own natural functions, which operate on a level of intelligence the programmers of Google, Apple, and Microsoft can barely approach.