One of the key points in a current, scientific understanding of the vast diversity of life in the natural world is that what defines the unique essence of what each living organism is, does not wholly reside within its DNA.
The finalizing chapters of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle information exists somewhere else inside the cell.
DNA contains the sequentially coded information that produces genes, that actualizes into amino acid folds to become proteins that are then built into individual cells.
DNA is like the raw materials to make the concrete, 2×4 wood studs, structural steel, electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, drywall, stucco, and roofing to build a house.
This area of building design and construction is called materials science, and is different from the field of architectural design.
The size, shape, and distinctive design of a house comes from an entirely different but complementary database of information.
The information database that tells the builder and tradespersons where in the house construction these various materials go is commonly called the blueprints.
The information that builds living cells and tells them where to go to their assigned function in the developing embryo, to eventually become an elephant but not a giraffe, does not entirely come from the DNA information needed to manufacture the raw materials to make each unique cell-type…analogous to the concrete, studs, wiring, and plumbing pipes to build a house.
The architectural body-plan and lifestyle-habit, blueprint- information resides inside each cell, just not completely in the DNA.
This means that the distinctive lifestyle habits that accompany architectural body-plans fall partially outside of the DNA genetic mutation and natural selection mechanism.
This mechanism we now understand produces the microevolutionary adaptation of the varied beak sizes of the finch birds on the Galapagos Islands, and the varied ensemble of physical traits genetically mutated from a grizzly bear to a polar bear.
The architectural designs of New England Cape Cod, Southern Colonial, or Contemporary style houses are different. The body-plans and lifestyle habits of an elephant, giraffe, and human being are different. But the housing construction materials on the jobsite, and the DNA in living cells, are the same in each case.
Elephants, giraffes, and humans all have roughly the same DNA for making the raw materials of their cell-types of bones, muscles, tendons, blood, hair, and skin.
But the essence of what they are in terms of unique architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits comes from their blueprint plans, and not exclusively from the DNA that creates the raw materials.
Mutating DNA alone therefore cannot be the main causal agent to explain the vast diversity of life, because the design of an elephant, giraffe, or human comes from the blueprint plans inside living cells that is not a part of the DNA.
There is a reason why there is zero empirical evidence of incremental progressive development in an arms-race between the Asian honeybees and the giant Asian hornet in the wild, in the past or today.
This would involve the exceedingly complex combination of anatomical improvements with their accompanying lifestyle habits, all of which has to coordinate increasingly complex plateaus of informational inputs coming from two or more places within the cell.
The difficulty for scientific materialists to explain these increasingly complex plateaus of informational inputs, is like trying to bridge the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper, with the conceptually opinionated headlines of the New York Times daily newspaper tracking a particular news story over some period of days or weeks.
There is no bridge connecting the empirical, materialistic mechanism of ink bonding to paper, with the entirely abstract and non-material information conveyed in the English language in a newspaper headlines.
There is a reason why there is zero empirical evidence of transitional intermediates completely filling-in the huge gaps between the informational programs we see in the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of mammals, amphibians, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects in the fossil record.
The reason is that the ever-increasing complexity of life from single-cell bacteria 3.8-billion years ago to human beings today, did not come about by the process of the incrementally progressive development of connected small steps, one new and different cell-type added at a time.
If incremental progressive development in enumerable small steps was the true paradigm in the natural living world, this fact would have been overwhelmingly apparent long before the first moments of archaeological and paleontological excavations on or around the time of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species in 1859.
The branching tree-of-life simply did not happen the way Darwin theorized extrapolating microevolution into macroevolution.
If incremental progressive development in enumerable small steps was the true cause behind the vast diversity of life on earth, it would not be that difficult to fill-in the tens of millions of transitional intermediates that should easily link birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals together in unmistakable common descent.
But progressive development, by adding change through blocks of new cell-types grouped together to enable instant function and fit, maintains the evidence of common descent in the geological record but replaces random and undirected materialistic processes through continuous gradualism, instead with intelligent designing agency allowing discontinuities.
The skeletal explanatory framework regarding the discontinuities at the dividing nodes of the branches of the tree-of-life, resides within the analytical reasoning capacity of human beings, which can philosophically go in a number of theoretical directions.
Skeletal explanatory frameworks are based upon the facts of empirical data, but are not themselves the empirical data.
The observable continuity of similar features in the natural living world needs small-step gradualism only if we are committed to a materialistic worldview.
This is where the scientific field of biology took a wrong turn in 1859.
Since 1859, the cart has been driving the horse.
Since 1859, the philosophical worldview of naturalistic materialism has been driving the field of biology based upon the hunch that variant traits are produced by random and undirected processes, one small step at a time through then unknown internal causes.
Today, we still do not know why particular genes have critical DNA units broken or damaged that beneficially produce a polar bear from a grizzly bear.
To assign this to chance mutations at the genetic level is pure speculation based upon the worldview of materialism.
Charles Darwin at the time could just as easily have interpreted the variant traits being put-out by living organisms as a number of internally generated informational inputs coordinated as a group, rather than as what would later be identified as single-point mutations.
Continuity in biology can be maintained just as easily by allowing an ever-increasing, upward incline of the complexity of architectural body-plans and their accompanying lifestyle habits, through the process of genetic information being released in blocks of grouped clusters to produce mature function as each living organism comes into existence in their biodiverse and balanced ecological environments.
We see this confirmed in the design and fabrication of a new model of automobile.
The front-left side body panel is introduced with its entire informational package complete, in terms of aesthetic shape, thickness of metal, strength-to-weight ratio, and paint color, to produce optimum function when actualized into physical reality.
Every new automobile model offered to the car buying public has each and every part of the automobile road-tested, containing blocks of clustered groups of informational inputs exhausting all applicable areas of automotive design to achieve optimum function.
But this input of new cell-types in groups requires the broad-minded introduction of non-random and personally directed intelligent agency at the theorizing and conceptualization level of skeletal explanatory frameworks, which is philosophically opposed to the atheism of naturalistic materialism.
This requires the acknowledgment of an architect/engineer behind the origin of species.
There is no factual evidence to compellingly support behavioral adaptation for how the Asian honeybees and the giant Asian hornet reached the dialectical, back-and-forth equilibrium of their advanced lifestyle-habits, because this is a hypothetical, provisional explanation based upon the philosophical worldview of naturalistic materialism.
Again, the fundamental question for modern biology is where does the genetic information in living cells come from that produces the incredibly varied, instinctual predator/prey relationships that actualize through architectural body-plans of mind-boggling specificity and function, that produce a mature fit within biodiversity and ecosystems, in the first-place?
Once the “nature makes no sudden leaps” of Darwinism, one new and different cell-type at a time, is replaced with the concept of blocks of new cell-types coming into existence as a unit to produce new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits at the level of immediate function and ecological fit, then the difficulty of the program of attempting to fill-in the “missing-links” between fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and insects in small steps…disappears entirely.
Once the database of information in the cell that crafts the defining essence of each living organism is differentiated from the database of information coming from DNA that forms the building-block materials of the different cell-types, then genetic mutations acted upon by natural selection can more correctly be defined as the smaller but still important role of being microevolutionary adaptation that changes a grizzly bear into a polar bear.
The answer to the riddle that scientists have been searching for over the last 160-plus years since 1859 to explain biological development, may simply be that the innovation of ever-increasing complexity in the natural living world is produced through the introduction of new and different cell-types as groups rather than one new cell-type at a time.
Science is legitimately allowed to use “just-so” stories like Rudyard Kipling’s fanciful story of how the tiger acquired its stripes, to theoretically connect-the-dots between data-points in their initial working hypotheses, until further investigation fills-in more facts.
This is simply a part of the scientific method that encompasses the human psyche, the methodology of constructing a skeletal explanatory framework upon which to hang the varied pieces of data.
These “just-so” stories theorized by professional scientists are sometimes given an uncritical pass in their simple-to-complex explanations characteristic of scientific materialism.
Just because Dr. Jerry Coyne explains the defense tactic of the native Asian honeybee colonies against the attack of the giant Asian hornet as the product of behavioral adaptation, as Christians or non-Christians we do not have to buy into this viewpoint based on the authority of a scientist’s word alone.
We have the intellectual license to think this through and to arrive at a different conclusion regarding the skeletal explanatory framework that is being used.
 Michael J. Behe, Darwin Devolves (New York: Harper Collins, 2019), 9,17.
This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.