Most theories of communication these days consider the word uniquely in the sense of transmitting information.
Now, in all forms of animal and human communication there is the will or the desire on the part of the emitter to modify the behaviour, ideas, thoughts and attitudes of the receiver. There are no exceptions. The language can be verbal, visual, corporal, sonorous…whatever. There is no communication without a will / desire to communicate.
DNA says “Make proteins, and don’t forget to clean up after you.” (More or less.)
Who does it tell?
Well, DNA’s little helper, mRNA, gallops off into the cytoplasm to pass on the information to ribosomes. There, tRNA gets busy making proteins. But because it is over-enthusiastic,or just plain dumb, it continues to do so until it encounters a STOP sign – a codon.
Now why is this communication going on? Is the DNA commanding? Is RNA saying, “Please give me something to do?”
One would never claim that heat is saying to an ice-cube – “I’ve decided to turn you into water.” We just take as axiomatic certain basic laws of physics.
But no form of communication, either in the Shannon sense or the original sense, happens because it is obeying laws of physics.
Inert matter just sits around minding its own business until physical laws act on it, disturbing its eternal siesta. Inert matter just wants to go on an all-expenses paid, eternal, one-way entropy trip.
Why can’t DNA just lie back and enjoy the show like all the other molecules?
The cell can’t let its DNA can’t do that. It’s got a message, a bunch of exciting information, which it must do something with. That something is called LIFE. And guess what – since the first little DNA show got its act together, it hasn’t stopped making life. Sometimes in fits and starts, but neither meteorites, ice ages or Walmart have ever been able to stop the process.
Communication of information points to a will to communicate.
Communicate : common: – originally the sense of this word means “as one” or “becoming as one”. This sense is retained in the sacrament of communion.
There is no avoiding teleology. Alice in Wonderland found a little bottle with the label “Drink me.” Somebody put that label there, but we are never told who. Nobody would imagine that it just appeared out of nowhere. We know that it was communicating information.
Why does DNA want to do Life?
The question – WHO wants DNA to do life is totally justified. There is communication, therefore there is a will.
I am offering a prize of a year’s supply of coffee to anybody who can give me an example of communication taking place in the absence of any will or desire. I sense my coffee is safe.