“In the Beginning was the Word” …

These are the opening words of John’s Gospel, most probably written around 100 CE. Whoever John was, he tried to convey a late 1st century understanding of the person and significance of Jesus. In doing so, he borrowed the term logos from Greek philosophy. This can indeed mean ‘word’, but also includes a variety of meanings – not only human speech, but also rationality and logic, and extending to some universal, creative principle underlying the orderly structure and functioning of all that exists.

Let’s stick, however, with Logos meaning ‘word’. John suggests that “In the beginning was the Word”; that “the Word was God”; and that “all things came into being through him”. He goes on to claim that “the Word became flesh” in the person of Jesus, through whom God ‘spoke’. This is a powerful piece of writing, whether or not taken at face value. I’ve been reminded of it, when reflecting on a major finding of science dating from the early 1950’s – the molecular double-helix structure of DNA.  

DNA contains information that provides the fully and precisely detailed instructions necessary for accurate construction, function and replication, in each of the variety of mind-blowingly complex cells from which every living thing is made. It’s built (see the diagram above) using a sequence of 4 bases, with the letters A, C, G and T, each of which must be in the exactly right place. Analogies might be the columns of necessarily flawless digital code in a computer’s faultlessly functioning operating system, or the sequences of properly placed letters giving rise to a flawless edition of all the plays of William Shakespeare.

If we focus on the ‘letters’ and ‘words’ analogy, the thought might come that in human DNA, with its 3.2 billion ‘letters’, we have the ‘words’ of the longest ‘sentence’ in the known universe, incorporating a vast cornucopia of detailed Information. Materialists, especially those with a worldview which instantly resists anything that might even hint at a ‘god’, will claim that this ‘word’ has been formed in a process involving fortuitous physical and chemical interactions and random mutations. That might indeed be so, but need not necessarily be the case.

Bearing in mind that when random changes occur in computer codes or written pages, the results are most often deleterious, and only very occasionally beneficial, there are mathematicians who have come up with calculations which suggest that not even 3.7 billion years is long enough to account for what we’ve found to be the case. Would 3.7 billion monkeys, typing on 3.7 billion keyboards, for 3.7 billion years eventually produce the Plays of Shakespeare? Possibly yes, probably no.

It may be that Mind, Intelligence, Information and (whisper it) Design, lie at the heart of the universe. This doesn’t necessarily open the door for any of the ‘gods’ of any of the world’s religions, but it might legitimately be thought to give a fresh and thought-provoking slant to, “In the Beginning was the Word” …..

2 responses to ““In the Beginning was the Word” …”

  1. “Would so many monkeys tapping on so many keyboards over so many years produce the works of Shakespeare? Possibly yes, probably no”— Absolutely no!
    “Computer’s faultlessly functioning operating system” ie as devised by humans .
    Apart from these quibbles good.


    1. Thanks for your comments, Alan. Regarding your ‘quibbles’ …
      (1) Given these billions of numbers, this has been calculated as being theoretically mathematically possible with a small amount of algorithmic in-built assistance, but that of course demonstrates the point that an intelligent mind has to design some necessary input. Your “absolutely not” is therefore most likely to be entirely correct, but why spoil the monkeys’ fun. (There’s no question mark there, so no answer is required.)
      (2) I’m not sure what your point is. My desktop mac, thankfully, has a faultlessly functioning operating system, which evidences the fact that human minds have so designed it which, in turn, suggests by analogy that it is valid to suggest that a fully complete and functional human genome is also mind-designed, but by a ‘super human’ Mind. A convinced materialist will still of course find lots of compelling reasons to disagree.


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