DNA and CD players

According to Explore Evolution:

Critics say it's a little like building a CD player. Even if you have all the information you need to build all the individual electrical components resistors, capacitors, jumper switches and laser unit you will still need additional information to arrange all the components and circuit boards. You'll need even more information to coordinate the circuit boards with the mechanical components. Remarkably, many scientists say the same concept is true in biological systems. An organism needs genetic information to build proteins. It also needs higher-level assembly instructions to arrange tissues and organs into body plans.
Explore Evolution, p. 110-111

Arguments from analogy are only as good as the strength of the analogy and this is a terribly wrong analogy. Biologists know that building a multicellular organism has no similarity to the assembly of a CD player. Unlike multicellular organisms, CD players do not grow from a single cell, they are constructed in factories. CD players do not reproduce, and thus have no system of inheritance, no way to pass variation from generation to generation.

While attributed to "many scientists," this technology-based analogy has almost exclusively been used by Stephen Meyer, an Explore Evolution author, to argue that "a purposive intelligence" designed organisms:

Organisms not only contain information-rich components (such as proteins and genes), but they comprise information-rich arrangements of those components and the systems that comprise them. Yet we know, based on our present experience of cause and effect relationships, that design engineers possessing purposive intelligence and rationality have the ability to produce information-rich hierarchies in which both individual modules and the arrangements of those modules exhibit complexity and specificity information so defined. Individual transistors, resistors, and capacitors exhibit considerable complexity and specificity of design; at a higher level of organization, their specific arrangement within an integrated circuit represents additional information and reflects further design. Conscious and rational agents have, as part of their powers of purposive intelligence, the capacity to design information-rich parts and to organize those parts into functional information-rich systems and hierarchies.
S. Meyer (2004) "Origins of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2):213-239.

However, this paper was later disavowed by the of Biological Society of Washington.

The paper by Stephen C. Meyer in the Proceedings ( The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories, vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239) represents a significant departure from the nearly purely taxonomic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 124-year history. It was published without the prior knowledge of the Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, or the associate editors. We have met and determined that all of us would have deemed this paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings.
Biological Society of Washington, 9/7/2004

A critique of Meyer's paper by Alan Gishlick, Nick Matzke and Wes Elsberry of the National Center for Science Education can be found at Panda's Thumb. The paper has enjoyed no support in the scientific community, as revealed by examining papers citing it. Almost all are social, political, or theological critiques or defenses of intelligent design creationism. This argument has made no significant impact on scientific research, and the claim that "many scientists" agree to the analogy simply does not hold up. The analogy is uninformative and will only mislead students reading it.

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