Books by Tom Bunzel

If DNA Is Software, Who Wrote the Code?

Tom Bunzel, our first Author of the Month of 2017, explores the intriguing concept of Mind mimicking matter, as far as HTML and DNA are concerned.

That’s to say, Mind has created “code,” so what created DNA?

Read on to find out more.

By Tom Bunzel, former tech writer, now Science and Tech Editor, Collective Evolution

Even within the very brief period in our planet’s history that humans have had tools and technology (perhaps this time around) – software is a very recent occurrence and has been with us only for the past few decades.

Yet if we consider software deeply we can see that it is an extension of what humans began with as art, continued as writing and now produce as code – encoded intelligence.

What sets software apart, however, is its active nature – it performs tasks – it is active encoded intelligence. Through silicon it can calculate, simulate, and even learn on a very simple level.


I came to computers after being a Liberal Arts major and one of my most amazing experiences was having a series of floppy disks at a law firm teach me how to use one of the earliest word processing machines.

It was like my own Turing Test, in that at various times the program anticipated my responses to the extent that I could as easily have been taught by a human.

The experience was my first epiphany with computer technology because I realized that I was dealing with a simulated intelligence of incredible potential—and also that the presence of encoded intelligence within the word processor could only have come into being through the agency of Mind.

In the case of personal computers, this agency of course is the team of brilliant programmers who wrote the code that taught me how to use the machine.

But it indicated the “presence of a mind” (or its progeny) within inanimate objects—a plastic box with printed circuits—as electrical energy.

This was my introduction to “software.”

Several business and computer books later, somewhat cognisant about how to write “code,” I was fantasising about writing a sci-fi screenplay about an intelligent computer program discovered by neuroscience in the brain when I saw a video on TED by geneticist Juan Enriquez.

Enriquez’s talk took my reverie out of the realm of fantasy. In a very powerful presentation he did not use the usual metaphor or simile to reference DNA as “like” a computer’s floppy disk. He described it directly and plainly as operating exactly like the code in computer software.

Enriquez described an apple as a [computer] application that runs as an “executable” – it reads or processes its DNA code from top down, executing each line in turn as an instruction. In the case of an apple, when it receives sufficient energy from the sun, Enriquez said, it executes and drops from the tree.

Enriquez explained how sequencing DNA decodes its programmatic intentions through its relationship to a combination of 4 proteins, symbolically represented by 4 letters of our alphabet, A, C, T and G. Side by side with HTML, the code for a web page, it looks very similar.


Moreover I realised from the video that geneticists aren’t ever creating life – they are switching the genes on and off using its internal software – and “copying and pasting” the code to, for example, revive extinct species – a process described in the video.

As I watched the video many times I was amazed that the audience, and Dr. Enriquez himself, did not seem to grasp an obvious ramification:

If DNA is code – who wrote it?

Moreover, if I DNA is code, doesn’t it posit the existence a priori of an immensely powerful intelligence?

I contemplated the reality that perhaps we don’t need to look for “intelligent life” on other worlds… Clearly, to the extent that it is “instructed” by DNA, life itself is intelligent – and it was so before humans even existed.

This insight moved me deeply and as you use computer software every day, I now invite you to think about this:

Could software happen by accident?

Our current science glosses over this very significant issue. In a NASA presentation that I feature in the book there is a slide that simply asserts that somehow chemical molecules became “alive.”

Can Science Explain the Origin of Life?

Can Science Explain the Origin of Life?

Seriously? Can anyone, based on their human experience, conceive of an event that would transform a stone into a living organism?

Indeed for all of the amazing advancement of modern genetics, the actual energy of life has never been synthesised. DNA has been synthesised but it is always “copied and pasted” (or now edited) in a living host.

And indeed there are organisms that seem to be alive in some situations and not others — some viruses apparently come “alive” only within a host organism — that is already alive.

But going back to computer software, there has never been a program that appeared by “accident.”


Could Microsoft Word, Apple apps or Google have “evolved” without the intervention of a human programmer?

This brings up perhaps the key point that must emerge when we recognise the reality of sequenced DNA operating as software code…

By definition, decoding (or sequencing) means extracting the meaning of DNA.

In plain terms, it is the discovery that a certain sequence of letters will result in blue eyes, a different sequence in green. One sequenced set of code may be a harmless organism, or as we saw above, a different sequence may roam the planet as Ebola.

Now, consider this – whether the symbolic representations within the code are images, words, letters or chemicals, they convey meaning.

The first instance of meaning that we notice with DNA is when it is sequenced and the meaning is discerned.

But even without a human to sequence the DNA, its meaning is being expressed every second within our cells as some sequences are triggered (epigenetically by the environment, internally by thought or hormones, or in a myriad of other ways).

There is no other interpretation but that we have discovered meaning within our cells.


And in our experience the ONLY source for either the interpretation of meaning, or its creation, is Mind.

We can see this clearly with all encoded intelligence; with computer software it is glaring in its truth because there has never been a software program created accidentally.

We have no idea of the origins of DNA, but now we do know one thing for sure – it must be the product of an intentional, active and immense intelligence.

It is akin to the notion expressed by astronomer Fred Hoyle that to consider the possibility of DNA arising by chance would be like a tornado going through a junk yard and assembling an aircraft. (Hoyle said this about life – DNA is the software of life).


So within your biological reality there is software – as Eckhart Tolle says, an immense intelligence that runs you breath, digestion, elimination, and ALL body functions, if all goes well, harmoniously.

How do we account for such an apparently immense intelligence that is billions of years old?

This problem can be rationally addressed by looking at Dawkins’ assumption another way – if we’re open to the reality that we created software “in our image” then we are simply mimicking or simulating a much higher intelligence with our own software technology.

I liken it to the “Bizarro” versions of Superman that I loved to read as a kid.


This deep recognition that DNA is software must rupture the most deeply held tenet of our modern science: Objectivity.

Science assumes that we are somehow separate (and objective) in our examination of nature when the obvious fact is that we are an ineffable part of nature – and our understanding is completely limited by our biology and technical instruments.

At the same time, through our conscious experience, we have intimate knowledge of an aspect of our own existence that is obvious and unquestionable – we exist and we think. There is a mental (and sometimes intelligent) component to our existence.

In the past humans have attributed the “beginning” of life to “gods” because nature was a mystery.

Returning to the realm of software (as I show in my book) the concept of “God” is like an empty variable in programming, which can hold text or numbers for calculation.

In most religions, in fact, the concept that is represented by the word “God” cannot be named.

This shook me up when I took psychedelics in college – I realised that everything I had labeled as “chemicals” or “molecules” were living energies that represented the activity of a living intelligence and that once the names were rendered unnecessary the “Doors of Perception” burst open.

Similarly I cannot provide a definitive answer to how DNA code came to be.

The “Ancient Aliens” theory is interesting, especially in view of the other anomalies and megaliths discovered and interpreted by its proponents, but as Graham Hancock suggests, we don’t need aliens.

We do need to address the mystery as just that, a MYSTERY, and use the question of the origin of DNA, in harmony with our own intimate experience with encoded intelligence, to introduce the reality of intelligence – and of course Consciousness – to the scientific conversation.

It is looking inside in the same way that we might look outside at the heavens and grope for a rational explanation but find none, and in our gut we feel the MYSTERY.

There are really only two “explanations” – if we eschew the non-explanation of calling it “God.”

One, we can kick the can down the road and presume that some other intelligence (aliens) wrote DNA code and genetically modified us for some alien purpose. This is a popular theme first raised by Chariots of the Gods by Erik von Daniken, held in contempt by modern science, but quite possibly true.

The other direction we might go, and this is where neuroscience and quantum physics are headed kicking and screaming, and which is really the most obvious answer — Intelligence is not the exception — it is in computer terms, the “default.”

Life is a priori intelligent, or a direct expression of a much vaster, infinite and higher intelligence.

This is of course an affront to our scientific hubris but it is the message of conferences like Science and Nonduality and the promise of an “observer-based” science that is humble and reverent in the face of “what is.”

It is the recognition of non-dualism – that all conceptual explanations only further the mystery – and that future discoveries must account for subjectivity and encompass the totality of phenomena.

It is not pat, warm or fuzzy – but it is what IS.

With so many people confused and unsure of how and where we came from or what we are, and current science essentially ignoring this question (Consciousness – the hard question), it seems that the opening is right in front of us.

Open a web page and View > Source and then recognise that software far more sophisticated is operating – right now – in your body, mind and consciousness.

And ask yourself, if DNA is software, where did it come from? And then let the question seep deeply into your awareness.

Books by Tom Bunzel

If DNA Is Software, Who Wrote the Code?

Bibliography and References

Bernal, Martin: Black Athena

Black Edwin: IBM and the Holocaust

Bhaumik, Mani: Code Name God

Brown, Dan: The Lost Symbol, (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Castaneda, Carlos: The Teachings of Don Juan

His Holiness the Dalia Lama & Howard C. Cutler, M.D.: The Art of Happiness

Damassio, Antonio, Self Comes to Mind

Davila, Randy: The Gnostic Mystery

de Mello, Anthony SJ & J. Francis Stroud: Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality

Dispenza, Joe: Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind

Dreaver, Jim: End Your Story, Begin Your Life

Duhigg, Charles: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Enriquez, Juan: Video on TED

Gaffney, Rinpoche, Sogyal & Andrew Harvey: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Haramein, Nassim: The Black Whole

Huxley, Aldous: The Doors of Perception

Hofstadter, Douglas: I Am a Strange Loop

Lipton, Bruce: The Biology of Belief

Malkowski, Edward: The Spiritual Technology of Ancient Egypt

Needleman, Jacob: Why Can’t We Be Good? and A Sense of the Cosmos

Pert, Candace: Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine

Prager, Dennis: Happiness Is a Serious Problem

Ruiz, Don Miguel: The Four Agreements

Rushkoff, Douglas: Life Inc. and Program or be Programmed

Schwaller de Lubicz, Rene: The Temple of Man

Taleb, Nassim Nicholas: The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Tolle, Eckhart: A New Earth and The Power of Now

Tompkins, Peter: Secrets of the Great Pyramid and The Secret Life of Plants

Tompkins, Peter & Harleston Jr., Hugh: Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids

von Daniken, Erik: Chariots of the Gods

Zukav, Gary: The Dancing Wu Li Masters and The Seat of the Soul

(A DVD version of a television special on West’s theories was narrated by Charlton Heston)

About the Author

Tom Bunzel is the Technology and Science Columnist for Collective Evolution, a web portal with over 3 million hits per month. He has covered and spoken at the Science and Nonduality Conference and the Superconscious Mind Congress in Puebla, Mexico. As “Professor PowerPoint” he wrote, lectured and taught seminars on business and technology and appeared on Tech TV Call for Help.

Bunzel’s business-related book for Wiley is Tools of Engagement: Presenting and Training in a World of Social Media. Presence of Mind: Journey to a New Operating System combines his fascination with technology with spirituality. Other books include Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: Using Digital Media for Effective Communication a detailed, project-oriented approach to creating effective presenting. A full bio and listing of his books is available on Amazon.

Tom currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where he’s also Director of Corporate Communications for Community Vision Inc.

Tom Bunzel is multi-published in the technology field. He has appeared on Tech TV’s Call for Help and has been a speaker at InfoComm and PowerPoint LIVE, as well as working as a “technology coach” for corporations. Bunzel’s most recent business-related book for Wiley/Jossey Bass is Tools of Engagement: Presenting and Training in a World of Social Media. More recently his focus has shifted to his studies at Tufts University—philosophy and English—and has covered spiritual as well as technical topics on his blog:

15 thoughts on “If DNA is Software, Who “Wrote” the Code?”

  1. Debra Swihart says:

    I have read the book and found it to be thought provoking. It is science at it’s best as it raises more questions than it answers. It also is a courageous personal account of the authors own break down and rebuilding of his emotional computer. The mental programing process and the reprograming through a spiritual journey . It has integrity and will have you questioning your own programing in the days following the read. Buy the book and you will open to a world inside yourself you didn’t know before. I’m still realizing things.

    1. Tom Bunzel says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

  2. Michael Shea says:

    The book sounds interesting and I plan to read it, however I am a little upset that the Kindle version is the same price and a hard copy.

    There is another point of view that treats DNA segments as “genetic program”, see This site promotes the ideas of Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe regarding microbial life seeding the planet both in the past and the present, along with growing field of research into horizontal gene transfer to challenge the Neo-Darwinian paradigm.

    While the site does not promote any spiritual or mystical ideas about evolution (which I personally don’t discount) it does provide both the background and timely updates on scientific discoveries that more and more show that natural selection alone cannot be the driving force behind evolution.

    1. Tom Bunzel says:

      Hi Michael,

      Your name sounds familiar? Thanks for responding.

      My publisher informed me (when I raised your issue previously) that Kindle price is set by Amazon and he/we/I have nothing to do with it. I don’t understand the details but he also said that they’re paying for my ideas; nonetheless if it were my call I agree – I would discount the electronic version.

      I have heard of panspermia and am also intrigued by the apparent presence of organic chemical material and perhaps even organisms with DNA on meteors and comets?

      It would make a lot of sense in terms of Graham and Terence McKenna’s notions that certain plants are part of the evolutionary process in terms of helping human consciousness evolve.

      For me my search for explanations really ends with the recognition that Mind must be primary and how it manifested can go in many directions.

      But let me look at your link and see where that takes me. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Louis Morelli says:

    You must see my Matrix/DNA Theory, as your book and theory will give me more data for developing mine. The first manifestation of the first shape of DNA was what people call “the eletromagnetic spectrum of all seven kinds of radiations and I called the universal light wave. It is a code not only for life (aka,biological systems) but for all shapes of a unique universal system that is evolving since the Big Bang and change shapes because the light wave is the real process known as life cycle.I discovered that this light wave is also a simple software diagram like the one we apply in computers. So, the diagram is a universal formula that fits as template for all natural systems, from atoms, to galaxies, to cell systems, to brains and now, consciousness is being formed to be the new shape of this system.At my website ( you see the spectrum, the formula, and the models of atoms and galaxies over the formula.
    This theory was built in Amazon jungle in seven years when studying in that whole biosphere, the systems and interactions among them.There was a common pattern (the formula) and coming from the non-biological world. The research took a burst to unexpected ways when I was watching the native people drinking the Brazilian type of hallucinogen, called “Saint Daime”. Their visionary description resulted in my drawing as pictures of chackras and kundaluni, which later I discovered was a real description of the DNA’s streams and bases.Adding their descriptions about cosmology plus the pattern at real systems, I got different astronomic models and discovered that described by metaphors those models is the same description of religions foundations, like the Eden paradise, the I Ching, etc. So, my theory is that the halluginogenous brings to counciousness flashes of memories registered in the DNA ( I think at the junk DNA) from our non-biologial ancestrals shpare of that universal system till the Big Bang.From which raised the light wave with its code.
    So, this non-visible spectrum is the software, modelling dark matter into a system that evolves like our own bodies.The shapes of this systems are the generations of hardwares. The actual shape is an embryo of consciousness, we are the genes building this embryo just now. Consciousness is the abstract identity of any natural system that arises as the sum of informations of all its parts plus the inner interactions among these parts plus the interactions with the external world. Consciousness was sleeping at atoms, dreaming at galaxies, began waken up at plants and animals and is lifting up at humans and other intelligent life around this Universe, which are the other genes. In this Universe ( the egg, the placenta) is occurring a process of genetic/computational reproduction of the unknown thing that produced it.The very fact that consciousness emerged here and now means that the unknown and ex-machine must be a natural system and conscious.Our theories are complementaries, I will running by your book and my suggestion is that you need to know what no school is teaching:the real meaning and working of natural systems.Cheers,…

  4. Louis Morelli says:

    Sorry the poor English and digited errors above. There is something important for you knowing: the explanation why these hallucinogens works this way. Plant’s cells were the first built as biological systems. They were built by photons/bits information coming from stars and this planet’s nuclei. It happens that this astronomical system is a closed system which is the application of the Matrix/DNA formula in its perfect state.So, plant cells try to mimic its creator – or ancestral – as closed system, that’s why they do photosynthesis, linked direct to a star. Animals cells is missing an important systemic function – performed by the chloroplasts – then, animal cells are opened systems. And our brain, as product of animal cell are opened systems, also. When the perfect closed formula from the plant is absorbed by the brain, the neural network is rewired towards approximating the state of closed system, the perfect state. It seems that the mind is mixed with the creator system, which is cosmological, so, those phantastic visions, theogonies,magical thinking, etc. At my website the formula is draw as closed system, but you can see it as opened system retiring any piece.Cheers,…

  5. Hal says:

    “Intelligence is not the exception” Indeed, intelligence is the rule!

    The model that scientists propose is just so utterly improbable. They show a strong conviction in an astonishing string of random extraordinary events which somehow led to the universe today & all life within:- a continuing order which arose spontaneously from chaos. It’s a conviction which I find both admirable and disturbing.

    Common sense detective work asks us to start with the most likely explanation and move from there as evidence guides the process of elimination. In other words, have scientists really dismissed all other models, ones which would be far more plausible as a starting premise? As Tom Bunzel observes, DNA (and RNA) is code. I know that good code is very hard to achieve. Code needs to be actively maintained and kept relevant to ever changing circumstances. These are facts, and so they beg the question of the prevailing model of scientific thought. Bravo to Tom for doing so.

    If, for instance, they took a model which posed an a priori, immense [ consciousness + intelligence + creativity + energy ] which designed and unfolds the universe & all life within, wouldn’t we have at least a tenable basis from which to begin? It would fit the good code requirements.

    “ask yourself” But who asks whom? There’s a distinction apparent between myself and me. What generates, then directs the question, and who responds? This matter would probably also stand up to scrutiny in the a-priori-intelligence paradigm, but it too would need to be tested until eventually we arrived at the best fitting model.

  6. Ade carter says:

    If you liked this article you may also find Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design a good read. Covers the same theme well.

  7. deL says:

    Brilliant, fascinating article. I love the concept that all “life” is an expression of “intelligence”.

  8. Givi Alaznis’Pireli says:

    I’d like show you the DNA of our Planet, which Sumerians drew several thousand years ago on a clay tile, but here is not opportunity to post an illustration. For it please go down on my FB page to this address:

    Best wishes, author and
    publisher of newspaper “Noe”,
    esoteric writer Givi Alaznis’Pireli
    from Republic of Georgia.

  9. John Lewis says:

    Although I have not read your book this above article prompted me to comment. I too felt that the insight that DNA was the same as computer software was a quite remarkable one. However when I looked further into this I came to the exact opposite conclusion. Not only can the DNA code have come into existence without any kind of supervising intelligence but even human computer code can be shown to do the same. This is not an insight which most computer programmers are familiar with. They have enough trouble writing reliable software as it is.
    The story starts with John Holland, the worlds first Phd in computer science. After reading books on the new discoveries concerning DNA in the late fifties, he set about realising the process of biological evolution as a computer program. He succeeded and christened it the Genetic Algorithm.
    This was largely ignored until the 80’s when interest revived under a new paradigm loosely described as Artificial Life. Many experiments have been done such as Tom Ray’s Tierra. This software evolves software digital creatures without any input from the user.
    Even Richard Dawkins came upon this same insight which he wrote about in his book The Blind Watchmaker. In this book he describes his software evolving drawings of creatures he christened Biomorphs. Much of today’s advances in artificial intelligence have come about because programmers realised eventually that any software comparable with general human intelligence must have the capability of learning new things on its own and the genetic algorithm is one of the most powerful ways of accomplishing this. Don’t think from these comments that I am espousing some kind of atheistic viewpoint necessarily. Its just that it would be a shame to base your conclusions about the meaning of our existence on this planet on a flawed premise. I would urge you to look into these topics yourself as they are quite fascinating anyway. Furthermore if you have some programming ability you can test out them yourself by writing your own evolving code.

    1. Hal says:

      John, you raise some interesting questions. Here’s my take:
      Genetic Algorithms demonstrate evolution in a system that follows basic principles. Yes, they do. But I’m not so sure we can say that Genetic Algorithm systems just pop into existence autonomously, and live without support:
      – An intelligence carefully chooses and sets up these GA principles to begin with. [design]
      – An intelligence curates the system to continue exploiting these principles. [ongoing direction & enforcement]
      – Something energises the system to allow it to run. [motivation]
      ie. did Mr. Holland and Mr. Dawkins possibly omit to consider their own input when building and describing their software? (I don’t know what they says about this)

      1. John Lewis says:

        Thank you for considering my comments. As I said I’ve not read your book only your article so apologies in advance if I raise points that you answer in your book. My understanding of your position is that “ if DNA is analogous to computer software then, just as this is written by intelligence ( human beings) and can’t come about by chance, then the same must be true of DNA.” Thus opening the way for the consideration of a DNA software “creator”, presumably a god. My point is that the evidence we have suggests that on the contrary DNA software has come about by a process of evolution by natural selection. If you seek to contradict this by claiming that as DNA is like computer software and therefore cannot come about without intelligent design, then you are ignoring the evidence I presented in my previous comments, which shows that useful software can come about by a process based on evolution. In fact if you look at the work of John Koza you will see that he has been making a living by patenting software applications that were generated by evolutionary computer systems.
        The comments about people designing the environments for the genetic programs to work in are true but irrelevant to the argument because they are analogous to the state of the Earth’s early environment when life first got going. Otherwise you would have to argue that the environmental preconditions for life to arise were also the work of intelligent design, which I assume you are not suggesting?
        I’m conscious of the fact that these issues are too involved and important to really go into in the required depth in a comments section such as this. Therefore I’d reiterate my previous remarks concerning you looking further into this subject yourself. I feel there are many reasons to be wary of accepted ‘truths’ in the modern world but in this case it is possible to verify the claims about evolving computer code oneself with only a modest amount of programming skills. So my approach was, be sceptical, take nobody’s word for it, but then test it out for yourself.

        1. Hal says:

          Hi John,

          I am suggesting that the intelligence was there a-priori, at and ‘before’ the beginnings of time-and-space. It was there for all that followed, and is here now too, inherently inseparable from everything. This intelligence is able to move outside of time-and-space, while we’re embodied and therefore fixed within it. In our experience, space looks infinitely large and time ticks by chronologically. We conceive of time as stretching out for an eternity, but not so for this intelligence.

          As an analogy:- these genetic algorithms might run on a computer server as a process. The process has an evolving state according to the parameters and functions programmed. Events occur and change in time as the computer’s CPU clock ticks. It’s evolving state is held in memory and its past is written to disk. Now the computer technician was able to build, start and monitor this process from the outside. So the technician can effectively start time-and-space for his genetic algorithm. He can also ‘kill’ all of it, or parts of it, on a whim. And he can restart it, or parts of it again. If he’s got some chaos theory embedded within his programmed functions the life of the system could play out slightly differently each time. And maybe he tweaks some of the code in between iterations.

          In Graham’s book, a sub-analogy (systems within systems) would be the arrival of the Bennu Bird to the underworld from the Land of Fire, a symbol of a burning meteorite falling from the heavens upon a destitute, recently deluged world. The Phoenix heralds the end of an old era and civilisation and seeds the start the next with its ‘Hike’ (= vital essence + serpentine DNA?).

          P.S. Just this morning I read a story saying that “The oldest fossil ever discovered on Earth shows that organisms were thriving 4.2 billion years ago, hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought.” They say that Earth’s source of life maybe came from “being bombarded by comets which probably brought the building blocks of life to Earth.” We’re singing from the same songsheet.

          Yes, I accept that I need to look further into the subject of genetic algorithms to have a more informed opinion. I agree that any ideas presented, including these written above, must be able to stand up to rigorous testing, otherwise onto the scrap-heap with them.

          Good to chat though, it’s a fascinating subject.

  10. anon says:

    Thank you for the thought provoking article.

    I want to add one detail: there actually have been computer programs which developed “in the wild”. They were designed to be autonomous to begin with, of course: malware which takes over a system completely.

    Two such “rootkits” have been documented to modify each other’s code when running on the same infected machine, yielding new software which wasn’t intended by either original author. This happened through overwriting data in RAM which was propagated back to future running code.

    There were a number of news stories about this starting around 2012, just search “mutating malware” for lots of them.

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