Arithmetic and the Genetic Code

Where do physical traits such as height and eye color come from? Biologists say these characteristics are phenotypic (physical) expressions of the genotype—the genetic code. The case for creation can be seen in this amazing genetic code of life. The human body’s trillions of cells use over 75 special kinds of protein and RNA molecules to make one protein following DNA’s detailed instructions. A second genetic code has recently been discovered, adding to the complexity of the already intricate molecule of heredity.1

What was the origin of this code? Was it through chance and time (evolution) or design and organization (creation)? The materialistic explanation (evolution) is the antithesis of biblical creation. Could the origin of the genetic code be just a random event? Hardly.2 In fact, a chance origin of biological information is considered by those involved in such research to be inadequate.3 Advocates of evolution must attempt a purely secular explanation of what is quite obviously an intricately and exquisitely designed code. Such explanations are not sufficient, and never will be, outside of the One who created the genetic code.

Evolutionary scientists cannot agree on their theories of the origin of the genetic code. Adam Kun et al stated, “The origin of the genetic code is still not fully understood, despite considerable progress in the last decade.”4 In 2008, an evolutionist from Kazakhstan, Vladimir shCherbak, published a paper asserting the strange idea of an arithmetical origin of the genetic code.5 Arithmetic is the science of computing and is the oldest, most elementary branch of the larger field of mathematics. Roman arithmetic required the use of a counting board, the ancestor of the abacus. shCherbak suggested that a primeval counting frame was responsible for the origin of the genetic code.

He claimed the genetic code contains “the zero, decimal syntax and unique summations” and that this refutes “traditional ideas about the stochastic origin of the genetic code.”6 Atheist David Berlinski reminds us that “evolution is a stochastic process [developing in a statistically random way], one that moves forward by means of inconclusive humps.”7 shCherbak continued:

Chemical evolution, no matter how long it took, could not possibly have stumbled on the arithmetical language and initialized the decimalization of the genetic code. Physics and chemistry can neither make such abstractions nor fit the genetic code out with them. It seems that the genetic code appeared as pure information like arithmetic did.8

shCherbak is correct; chemical evolution, chemistry, and physics utterly fail to explain in any way the origin of the genetic code. Sadly, his explanation of this code’s appearance via arithmetic through “some primordial abacus at least three and a half billion years ago” is hardly scientific or satisfying.9

“While the biochemical details of this code were unraveled long ago, its origin is still obscure,” lamented evolutionist Tsvi Tlusty.10

Secular explanations for the origin of the sophisticated genetic code point to either the unknown or something like a “primordial abacus.” The only other alternative is a supernatural agency. The genetic code is the result of the purposeful arrangement of parts—design, implying a Designer, as Genesis clearly portrays.


  1. Tejedor, J. R. and J. Valcárcel. 2010. Gene Regulation: Breaking the second genetic code. Nature. 465 (7294): 45-46.
  2. Freeland, S. J. and L. D. Hurst. 1998. The genetic code is one in a million. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 47 (3): 238-248.
  3. de Duve, C. 1996. The Constraints of Chance. Scientific American. 274: 112.
  4. Kun, A. et al. 2008. Catalytic Propensity of Amino Acids. In The Codes of Life: The Rules of Macroevolution. Barbieri, M., ed. New York: Springer Publishers, 39.
  5. shCherbak, V. 2008. The Arithmetical Origin of the Genetic Code. In The Codes of Life: The Rules of Macroevolution. Barbieri, M., ed. New York: Springer Publishers, 153-185.
  6. Ibid, 153.
  7. Berlinski, D. 2009. The Deniable Darwin. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 179.
  8. shCherbak, 154.
  9. Ibid, 153.
  10. Tlusty, T. 2010. A colorful origin for the genetic code: Information theory, statistical mechanics and the emergence of molecular codes. Physics of Life Reviews. 7 (3): 362-376.

* Mr. Sherwin is Research Associate, Senior Lecturer, and Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: Sherwin, F. 2012. Arithmetic and the Genetic Code. Acts & Facts. 41 (2): 17.

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