Information theory argument
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Revision as of 06:25, 16 December 2009
The Information Theory Argument is a type of semantics argument often claimed to be a scientific argument for the existence of a god that combines the Fine tuning argument with the Watchmaker Argument. The apologetic is usually structured around the premise that DNA has "information" within it and information is only something that can be created by a mind. Often, the main point of contention between atheists and theists who present this apologetic is the usage of the word "information" to describe what DNA contains. This apologetic is usually used by theists who accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of species but reject the theory of abiogenesis as the explanation for the origin of life. It's a particularly clever apologetic because of the difficulty in defining "information".
Since information can only be generated by conscious minds, then it is obvious that DNA, which contains information, in all life was created by a god or god-like being. There is no natural phenomenon which can generate information in such a coherent manner that results in the expression of proteins precisely correlated to the DNA that form living organisms.
Taken from Cosmicfingerprints.com:
(1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism.
(2) All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind (inductive reasoning).
(3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind, and language and information are proof of the action of a Superintelligence, i.e. God.
- The vast majority of scientist agree that DNA is a storage system of coded information. Since all known codes are known to have been created by intelligent minds and there are no known codes which are created by natural processes, the rational conclusion to draw is that an intelligent designer created DNA.
- There is a possibility that what sounds like random static could be signals from an alien civilization being sent to earth and the encryption is so complex that no computer built by humans can detect the pattern. Information Theory is a legitimate scientific theory that is used to find Intelligent Design.
The Information Theory Argument Is Tautological
If it could be shown that a self-replicating phenomenon (which may take a form other than DNA) that undergoes random mutation and non-random natural selection without the intervention of intelligent beings, then the whole argument is revealed to be nothing more than a tautology rather than anything resembling a theory. There is no experiment which can be performed to validate the apologetic. There is no means to falsify it. It is not scientific.
Information Is A Label
Everything in reality can be classified into one broad umbrella category of being called "phenomenon". There are two broad types of phenomenon, those being Entities and Relationships. DNA is a type of molecule that is made up of both entities and relationships, those being the atoms that compose it and the way they are bonded together, respectively. Ultimately, DNA is a phenomenon. Intelligent beings label phenomenon with words. The Theory of Abiogenesis has shown how it is possible for this self-replicating molecule to emerge by natural causes, and there are other theories of how other self-replicating systems that undergo random mutation and non-random natural selection can occur naturally under completely accidental circumstances. Information is not an inherent quality of a phenomenon, phenomenon are entirely accidental/random (or causal) by their very nature. If this particular phenomenon happens to have the behavior of building and folding proteins that form what we label a living organism, and the way this phenomenon attained its form and composition is easily explained by the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Abiogenesis, then it becomes clear that the word "information" is just a word that described the composition of something, whether it is designed or not designed.
Rocks Contain Information
If we agree to the premise that information is an inherent quality of DNA because it is expressed as a living organisms, then how is the clear line drawn to exclude the particular phenomenon of life from all other phenomenon in existence? It is entirely reasonable to infer that rocks contain information if information is defined as "the composition and form of an entity." The confusion results from the fact that information is classically described as either an entity or quality of entities (e.g. Give me the information, the information we received was inaccurate). The precise arrangement of atoms in a pebble does not have any relevant meaning or value to a person, however, a particular pebble and the way its atoms are arranged by completely random/causal forces could be assigned value by a scanning electron microscope. It would scan the surface of the pebble and assign meaningful values to the composition of atoms on the whole surface of the pebble so that if you put any other pebble inside the stage, the translation would be incoherent and random, but if you have the particular pebble inside the stage then the translation would be meaningful.
Static vs. Signal
A radio wave does not have information inherent within it, nor does a continuous stream of static contain information. Even a continuous repeating pattern does not have information in it (the signal produced by pulsars was thought to be signals from an alien civilization), however, a continuous repeating pattern, if assigned value by a mind, can represent information that is meaningful, like an S.O.S., even though there may potentially be a natural phenomenon that produces a signal that is identical to an S.O.S.
If we accept the premise that DNA contains information, and that only minds can create information, then it is safe to assume that for minds to create information they must contain information too. This then begs the question, who created the information in god's mind? Doesn't god then too need a creator resulting in an infinite regress?
Inherent Value vs. Recognized Characteristic
To say that DNA has information in it which was originally assigned meaning or value by some external intelligent agent is a categorical error. Qualities in matter, such as the molecular composition of the nucleotide Adenine, is something that is incidental. We associate a property of the molecule to the perceived phenomenon that is resultant from all its interactions with other molecules, but this property was no ordered from some mysterious giver of order, it just is what it is by pure random chance. For example, a rock found in a stream has a particular shape to it, not because it was ordered to, but because of entirely random and causal forces. Humans tend to perceive intentional purposeful value to an incidental characteristic of the molecule, Adenine, only because it is an essential part of life. To say that the phenomenon of life is the phenomenon which qualifies a universe for having a designer is an assumption.