Information Theory Argument

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("Proof" that DNA is a code from Cosmicfingerprints.com:)
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"Part of the work covered by the Nobel citation, that on the structure and replication of DNA, has been described by Wilkins in his Nobel Lecture this year... I shall discuss here the present state of a related problem in information transfer in living material - that of the genetic CODE - which has long interested me, and on which my colleagues and I, among many others, have recently been doing some experimental work..."
 
"Part of the work covered by the Nobel citation, that on the structure and replication of DNA, has been described by Wilkins in his Nobel Lecture this year... I shall discuss here the present state of a related problem in information transfer in living material - that of the genetic CODE - which has long interested me, and on which my colleagues and I, among many others, have recently been doing some experimental work..."
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{{Response|This is hardly proof of anything other than the aforementioned necessity for linguistic short cuts. Scientists assigned meaning to the pattern of nucleotides that the current organisms have acquired through random mutation and natural selection and understand which sequence produces which protein, but DNA is just that, a piece of matter that copies itself by a variety of means. To attempt to use quotes such as this is tantamount to claiming Einstein for certain believed in god just because he said "God doesn't play dice."}}
  
 
The following quotes are from atheist Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker:
 
The following quotes are from atheist Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker:
  
"Every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.  
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"Every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.
  
 
"Each nucleus, as we shall see in Chapter 5, contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together. And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together."
 
"Each nucleus, as we shall see in Chapter 5, contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together. And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together."
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{{Response|Again, this does not make any case that DNA requires a mind to have initially created it. It only shows that our capacity to communicate is limited by a listener's/reader's tolerance for long-winded descriptions of every individual phenomenon.}}
  
 
Having quoted Dawkins here, it's interesting to note that neither he, nor any materialist has ever provided any scientific (i.e. empirical, testable, falsifiable) explanation for the origin of information. For a very interesting and extensive read on this subject, read "The Problem of Information For The Theory of Evolution" by Royal Truman. If you carefully trace every reference and rebuttal to this article on the internet, you'll discover that not one person has ever supplied a scientific response to the questions raised here, nor provided any examples of materialistic processes that produce coded information.
 
Having quoted Dawkins here, it's interesting to note that neither he, nor any materialist has ever provided any scientific (i.e. empirical, testable, falsifiable) explanation for the origin of information. For a very interesting and extensive read on this subject, read "The Problem of Information For The Theory of Evolution" by Royal Truman. If you carefully trace every reference and rebuttal to this article on the internet, you'll discover that not one person has ever supplied a scientific response to the questions raised here, nor provided any examples of materialistic processes that produce coded information.
  
No naturally occuring molcule possesses the properties of information. Nature does not produce any kind of code, encoding/decoding mechanism or symbolic relationships at all; everything in nature represents only itself.
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{{Response|In actuality, there is an abundant quantity of empirical, testable, falsifiable explanations for the origin of the length and complexity of the pattern of nucleotides in the DNA of organisms that produces the phenomenon we call Life. As mentioned earlier, these include: gene duplication, gene deletion, radiation, retroviral insertion, etc.}}
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No naturally occurring molecule possesses the properties of information. Nature does not produce any kind of code, encoding/decoding mechanism or symbolic relationships at all; everything in nature represents only itself.
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{{Response|What they are basically saying is "because this thing wasn't created, it wasn't created" which is a tautology. "No naturally occurring molecule (something not designed) possesses the properties of information (something that is designed).}}
  
 
DNA, on the other hand, represents a complete plan for a living organism. DNA is an encoding / decoding mechanism that contains code, or language, representing the organism.
 
DNA, on the other hand, represents a complete plan for a living organism. DNA is an encoding / decoding mechanism that contains code, or language, representing the organism.

Revision as of 15:34, 8 July 2010

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 something that can only 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".

Contents

Apologetic


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.

Cosmicfingerprints


As mentioned in Cosmicfingerprints.com:

Patterns occur naturally - no help required from a 'designer'. Many patterns occur in nature without the help of a designer – snowflakes, tornados, hurricanes, sand dunes, stalactites, rivers and ocean waves. These patterns are the natural result of what scientists categorize as chaos and fractals. These things are well-understood and we experience them every day.

Codes, however, do not occur without a designer. Examples of symbolic codes include music, blueprints, languages like English and Chinese, computer programs, and yes, DNA. The essential distinction is the difference between a pattern and a code. Chaos can produce patterns, but it has never been shown to produce codes or symbols. Codes and symbols store information, which is not a property of matter and energy alone. Information itself is a separate entity on par with matter and energy.

(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.

Response: "Chaos can produce patterns but it has never been shown to produce codes or symbols" Though the process of random mutation and natural selection is not chaotic, it is a self-correcting mechanism that generates brute force solutions to problems by trial and error. Natural selection is what makes the pattern in the dna useful to achieve its basic characteristic property being self replication

Definition of "Information" from Cosmicfingerprints.com:

The dictionary definition (computer science case in particular) will suffice: "Processed, stored or transmitted data."

From Wikipedia:

Information is a message, something to be communicated from the sender to the receiver, as opposed to noise, which is something that inhibits the flow of communication or creates misunderstanding. If information is viewed merely as a message, it does not have to be accurate. It may be a lie, or just a sound of a kiss. This model assumes a sender and a receiver, and does not attach any significance to the idea that information is something that can be extracted from an environment, e.g., through observation or measurement. Information in this sense is simply any message the sender chooses to create.

This view assumes neither accuracy nor directly communicating parties, but instead assumes a separation between an object and its representation, as well as the involvement of someone capable of understanding this relationship. This view seems therefore to require a conscious mind.

Response: Actually, no consciousness or intention would be required in providing the DNA with the structure it possesses. The specific pattern of nucleotides on the ladder are attained by random mutation and natural selection. Mutations are introduced by a variety of means demonstrated in labs and observed in nature including gene duplication, gene deletion, radiation, retroviral insertion, etc.

Information is dependent upon, but usually unrelated to and separate from, the medium or media used to express it. In other words, the position of a theoretical series of bits, or even the output once interpreted by a computer or similar device, is unimportant, except when someone or something is present to interpret the information. Therefore, a quantity of information is totally distinct from its medium.

What's important here is 1) information always involves a sender and a receiver; 2) an encoding / decoding mechanism; 3) a convention of symbols ("code") which represent something distinct from what those symbols are made of. A paragraph in a newspaper is made of ink and paper, but the sentence itself may say nothing about ink or paper.

It may be very helpful here to point out the difference between a pattern and a code. Patterns (snowflakes, crystals, hurricanes, tornados, rivers, coastlines) occur in nature all the time.

A code is "A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages." Examples of code include English, Chinese, computer languages, music, mating calls and radio signals. Codes always involve a system of symbols that represent ideas or plans.

All codes contain patterns, but not all patterns contain codes. Naturally occurring patterns do not contain code.

Response: In certain scenarios where linguistic shortcuts are necessary, it is definitely useful to speak of structure of DNA as containing a "code", but beyond that, it is objectively nothing more than a piece of matter descended from a piece of matter that was able to make copies of itself. In the process of copying itself, it acquired mutations which were beneficial to the function of copying itself. In that sense, the code in DNA is in fact a naturally occurring one.

"Proof" that DNA is a code from Cosmicfingerprints.com:

Francis Crick received the Nobel prize for discovering DNA. The following is from the first paragraph of Francis Crick's Nobel lecture on October 11, 1962. Note his use of the word "code" and "information," emphasis mine:

"Part of the work covered by the Nobel citation, that on the structure and replication of DNA, has been described by Wilkins in his Nobel Lecture this year... I shall discuss here the present state of a related problem in information transfer in living material - that of the genetic CODE - which has long interested me, and on which my colleagues and I, among many others, have recently been doing some experimental work..."

Response: This is hardly proof of anything other than the aforementioned necessity for linguistic short cuts. Scientists assigned meaning to the pattern of nucleotides that the current organisms have acquired through random mutation and natural selection and understand which sequence produces which protein, but DNA is just that, a piece of matter that copies itself by a variety of means. To attempt to use quotes such as this is tantamount to claiming Einstein for certain believed in god just because he said "God doesn't play dice."

The following quotes are from atheist Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker:

"Every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.

"Each nucleus, as we shall see in Chapter 5, contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together. And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together."

Response: Again, this does not make any case that DNA requires a mind to have initially created it. It only shows that our capacity to communicate is limited by a listener's/reader's tolerance for long-winded descriptions of every individual phenomenon.

Having quoted Dawkins here, it's interesting to note that neither he, nor any materialist has ever provided any scientific (i.e. empirical, testable, falsifiable) explanation for the origin of information. For a very interesting and extensive read on this subject, read "The Problem of Information For The Theory of Evolution" by Royal Truman. If you carefully trace every reference and rebuttal to this article on the internet, you'll discover that not one person has ever supplied a scientific response to the questions raised here, nor provided any examples of materialistic processes that produce coded information.

Response: In actuality, there is an abundant quantity of empirical, testable, falsifiable explanations for the origin of the length and complexity of the pattern of nucleotides in the DNA of organisms that produces the phenomenon we call Life. As mentioned earlier, these include: gene duplication, gene deletion, radiation, retroviral insertion, etc.

No naturally occurring molecule possesses the properties of information. Nature does not produce any kind of code, encoding/decoding mechanism or symbolic relationships at all; everything in nature represents only itself.

Response: What they are basically saying is "because this thing wasn't created, it wasn't created" which is a tautology. "No naturally occurring molecule (something not designed) possesses the properties of information (something that is designed).

DNA, on the other hand, represents a complete plan for a living organism. DNA is an encoding / decoding mechanism that contains code, or language, representing the organism.

Variations


  • 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.


Counter Apologetics


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.

Self Refuting

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.

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