DNA does define an organism in a very real way...but only in the same way that H2O defines water. There is no magical hoo-ha involved with DNA, it is not information in the same sense that language or binary code is information (and I swear to god the next person who says DNA is "binary" or "digital" will be treated like the idiot they are).
I disagree. DNA is arbitary*. There is a translation step that takes DNA and turns it into meaningful chemistry, with tRNA, mRNA and the other various bits of pieces involved in turning DNA into proteins, it's inert. You could not create a protein from DNA without it, and there is no way to look at a particular Codon and work out which protein it codes for without knowing the cellular systems that unpick it.
* - technically, this is not quite true, there are certain patterns in DNA that make organisms less susceptible to damage through mutation and coding errors, but there are many, many patterns that could satisfy these constrains and only a tiny, tiny number of different coding schemes actually used.
Well, you can to an extent. Scientists have, already, used the systems in cells to perform alternate actions by inserting DNA/RNA. Hell, it's the whole that viruses and bacteriophages work. I'm not so convinced that hardware/software is a broken analogy for DNA/cells especially as hardware/software distinctions in computers are less clear cut than as usually described.
However, when Hoot Man says:
Please pardon my barging in, but what about the digital information that is stored in genes and then used to build proteins? Doesn't genetic "software" count for something more than mere chemical reactions?
He's completely wrong, and you're right. There's nothing going on with DNA that isn't chemistry.
Your inability to grasp the evidence does not mean the evidence does not exist.
Yes, the big bang is not a direct observation but rather deduced from multiple lines of evidence that does not change its status as an observation. All observations are deduced to one extent or another; you assume a ruler is the length it says it is - you assume your microscope merely magnifies. That your geiger counter is measuring something meaningful, and on and on. But here's the thing: it keeps on working. This isn't some tottering tower of dead reckoned plates; throughout the edifice we can cross-check and confirm. Failed assumptions are contradicted by further evidence.