The Science of it All

Natural vs materialistic information-pt1

infooverload

The grand theory of atheistic evolution posits that matter and energy alone have given rise to all things, including biological systems. This theory must attribute the existence of all information ultimately to the interaction of matter and energy without reference to an intelligent or conscious source. All biological systems depend upon information storage, transfer and interpretation for their operation. The primary phenomenon that the theory of evolution must account for is the origin of biological information. Evillutionists argue that fundamental laws of information can be deduced from observations of the nature of the information. These fundamental laws exclude the possibility that information, including biological information, can arise purely from matter and energy without reference to an intelligent agent. I’ll lay out the basis that these laws prove instead that the grand theory of evolution cannot in principle account for the most fundamental biological phenomenon.

In the communication age information has become fundamental to everyday life. However, there is no binding definition of information that is universally agreed upon by practitioners of engineering, information science, biology, linguistics or philosophy. There have been repeated attempts to grapple with the concept of information. Because information itself is non-material, this would be the first time that a law of nature (scientific law) has been formulated for such a mental entity. Let’s first establish a universal definition for information; then state what the laws should be; and, finally, let’s draw some comprehensive conclusions.

If statements about the observable world can be consistently and repeatedly confirmed to be universally true, we refer to them as laws of nature. Laws of nature describe events, phenomena and occurrences that consistently and repeatedly take place. They are thus universally valid laws. They can be formulated for material entities in physics and chemistry (e.g. energy, momentum, electrical current, chemical reactions). Due to their explanatory power, laws of nature enjoy the highest level of confidence in science. The following are attributes exhibited by laws of nature: 1) Laws of nature know no exceptions. This is perhaps the most important one. When dealing with a natural law, it cannot be circumvented or brought down. A law of nature is thus universally valid, and unchanging. It is immutable. A law of nature can, in principle, be refuted—a single contrary example would end its status as a natural law. 2) Laws of nature are unchanging in time. 3) Laws of nature can tell us whether a process being contemplated is even possible or not. This is an application of the laws of nature. 4) Laws of nature exist prior to, and independent of, their discovery and formulation. They can be identified through research and then precisely formulated. Hypotheses, theories or models are fundamentally different. They are invented by people, not merely formulated by them. 5) Laws of nature can always be successfully applied to unknown situations. And that is how we journeyed to and back from the moon.

When we talk of the laws ofnature, we usually mean the laws of physics (e.g. the second law of thermodynamics, the law of gravity, the law of magnetism, the law of nuclear interaction) and the laws of chemistry. All these laws are related exclusively to matter. But to claim that our world can be described solely in terms of material quantities is failing to acknowledge the extent of one’s perception. The same scientific procedures used for identifying laws of nature are also used for identifying laws governing non-material entities. Additionally, these laws exhibit the same attributes as listed above for the laws of nature. Therefore they fulfil the same conditions as the laws of nature for material quantities, and possessing, consequently, a similar power of inference.

The American mathematician Norbert Wiener made the oft-cited statement: “Information is information, neither matter nor energy.”[1] With this he acknowledged a very significant thing: information is not a material entity. “Let me clarify this important property of information with an example. Imagine a sandy stretch of beach. With my finger I write a number of sentences in the sand. The content of the information can be understood. Now I erase the information by smoothing out the sand. Then I write other sentence in the sand. In doing so I am using the same matter as before to display this information. Despite this erasing and rewriting, displaying and destroying varying amounts of information, the mass of the sand did not alter at any time. The information itself is thus massless”[2]. We know what information is not; the question now is what information really is.

Because information is a non-material entity, its origin is likewise not explicable by material processes. What causes information to come into existence at all—what is the initiating factor? Information always depends upon the will of a sender who issues the information. Information is not constant; it can be deliberately increased and can be distorted or destroyed (e.g. through disturbances in transmission). In summary: Information arises only through will (intention and purpose).

In scientific usage, the meaning of a term is in most cases considerably more narrowly stated than its range of meaning in everyday usage (i.e. it is a subset of-See my blog http://www.intelligentdesign.blog.com/ What is SET theory and why!). In this way, a definition does more than just assign a meaning; it also acts to contain or restrict that meaning. A good “natural-law” definition is one that enables us to exclude all those domains (realms) in which laws of nature are not applicable. The more clearly one can establish the domain of definition, the more precise (and furthermore certain) the conclusions which can be drawn. The following definition permits a secure allocation in all cases: Information is always present when all the following five hierarchical levels are observed in a system: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics. If this applies to a system in question, then we can be certain that the system falls within the domain of our definition of information. It therefore follows that for this system all five of the above laws of nature about information will apply.

1) Statistics. In considering a book, a computer program or the genome of a human being we can ask the following questions: How many letters, numbers and words does the entire text consist of? How many individual letters of the alphabet (e.g. a, b, c … z for the Roman alphabet, or G, C, A and T for the DNA alphabet) are utilized? What is the frequency of occurrence of certain letters and words? To answer such questions it is irrelevant whether the text contains anything meaningful, is pure nonsense, or just randomly ordered sequences of symbols or words. Such investigations do not concern themselves with the content; they involve purely statistical aspects.

2) Syntax. If we look at a text in any particular language, we see that only certain combinations of letters form permissible words of that particular language. This is determined by a pre-existing, wilful, convention. All other conceivable combinations do not belong to that language’s vocabulary. Syntax encompasses all of the structural characteristics of the way information is represented. This second level involves only the symbol system itself (the code) and the rules by which symbols and chains of symbols are combined (grammar, vocabulary).

3) Semantics. Sequences of symbols and syntactic rules form the necessary pre-conditions for the representation of information. But the critical issue concerning information transmission is not the particular code chosen, nor the size, number or form of the letters—nor even the method of transmission. It is, rather, the semantics, i.e. the message it contains—the proposition, the sense, the meaning.

Information itself is never the actual object or act, neither is it a relationship (event or idea), but encoded symbols which merely represent that is discussed. Information is always an abstract representation of something quite different. The symbols in today’s newspaper represent an event that happened yesterday and is not at all present where and when the information is transmitted. The genetic words in a DNA molecule represent the specific amino acids that will be used at a later stage for synthesis of protein molecules.

4) Pragmatics. Information invites action. In this context it is irrelevant whether the receiver of information acts in the manner desired by the sender of the information, or reacts in the opposite way, or doesn’t do anything at all. Every transmission of information is nevertheless associated with the expectation, from the side of the sender, of generating a particular result or effect on the receiver.

5) Apobetics. We have already recognized that for any given information the sender is pursuing a goal. We have now reached the last and highest level at which information operates: namely, apobetics (the aspect of information concerned with the goal, the result itself). The outcome on the receiver’s side is predicated upon the goal demanded/desired by the sender—that is, the plan or conception. The apobetics aspect of information is the most important of the five levels because it concerns the question of the outcome intended by the sender.

Using the last four of the five levels, we can develop an unambiguous definition of information: namely an encoded, symbolically represented message conveying expected action and intended purpose. We can term any entity meeting the requirements of this definition as “universal information.”

Ok, my head is hurting already. Digest that information. Next instalment we will try to describe the four most important laws of nature about information. Our ultimate goal is to discredit grand theory of atheistic evolution which must attribute the origin of all information ultimately to the interaction of matter and energy, without reference to an intelligent or conscious source. We will show how that is not possible.

[1] Wiener, N., Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, Hermann et Cie, The Technology Press, Paris, 1948.

[2] Gitt, W., In the Beginning was Information, 3rd English ed., Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, Bielefeld, Germany, 2001. Gitt, W., Am Anfang war die Information, 3. überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage, Hänssler Verlag, Holzgerlingen, 2002 pp. 47–49.

Education vs Common Core

How to pass high school biology

creationvsevolution

I’ve been asked by one of my readers who is attending high school to expand upon a posting for assistance in an evolutionary assignment he got in biology.

“The atheistic worldview says that we had an accidental beginning; we developed through random processes and that there is no ultimate hope for the future. It says that there are no absolutes, no basis for morality or ethics outside of what each person decides is right for themselves.

Atheism vs. theism is sometimes misrepresented as ‘science’ vs. ‘faith’. This is untrue because evolution is a worldview that is also based on faith. In fact, evolutionists and creationists have the exact same scientific facts to examine. There isn’t a scientific observation that a creationist would disagree with an evolutionist about. Creationists disagree with evolutionists conclusions because we do not agree with their starting presuppositions.

The real difference is that of the world history that each group believes in, by faith. Why by faith? Because we cannot travel back in time to see the first life form evolve or observe God create the universe. So our understanding of what happened in the past is ultimately accepted by faith. We can use scientific methods to observe evidence in the present, and then make an assessment of which history is best supported by that evidence.”

It’s strategically wise for Christians to be mindful of Jesus’ advice regarding communication with non-believers (Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you”) . The whole point of secular science is to find naturalistic explanations—ones that do not involve any supernatural intervention. Secular scientists are looking for naturalistic explanations. The key is to understand the framework of thinking that they use. They start with the idea that everything (the universe, the solar system, the earth, the animals and plants and humans) evolved gradually from simple to complex over billions of years. Understand the evolutionary story for the particular topic you are studying. However, realize that the story is a way of thinking and that it drives every explanation they propose. Realize too that even in their minds they do not question their framework.

Read widely about the particular assignment you have been given. You are NOT ONLY looking at what scientists are saying, but trying to understand why they are saying it. Moreover, since you understand the secular scientific mindset you will be able to discern the motivation behind their explanations. You will need to read more broadly. That’s because your textbooks will present the information as if evolution has solved the problem. These days the web is an excellent way of finding information. You will likely find your topic discussed on both creationist and evolutionist sites as well as on academic sites. By reading just a few articles you will quickly understand the key issues involved as well as the arguments for and against.

Once you have an understanding of the topic then search the two premier scientific journals, Science and Nature, on their websites. Try their advanced search engine with different keywords. Abstracts and summaries are usually available. You will discover some of the key papers on the topic. By reading the abstracts you will find out some of the details and issues, and by reading between the lines (understanding that they are trying to fit the data into the evolutionary framework, with which you are now familiar) you will appreciate some of the problems they have encountered.

In your research it is important to recognize the difference between the observed facts and the stories invented to explain the facts within their evolutionary framework. You will be able to discern this because you should understand the way the secular scientist thinks. Keep asking yourself questions such as: ‘What have they observed or measured?’ ‘What are they making up?’ ‘Has anyone observed what they are describing?’ Realize that if the events described were not observed (e.g. if they’re making claims about a time before the researchers were born) then they are telling you a story—an attempt to construct an evolutionary ‘history’ that fits the present evidence. Once you are alert to this you will not be tricked into accepting their evolutionary way of thinking.

As you are writing your assignment, it would be good for you to quote from books and papers on the topic as you set out the problem. Use some of the jargon that they use. Simply discuss the problem in a measured, matter-of-fact way making it clear what criteria would have to be met for a successful explanation. Outline some of the theories that people have put forward trying to explain how this could have happened. Keep in mind the ‘rules of the game’. Secular academics are trying to find a naturalistic explanation that does not require any recourse to any supernatural input or event.

Then discuss the advantages and problems with each of the theories. Especially try to use the criticisms that other secular scientists have leveled at each of the theories. You can cite their secular publications and explain their criticism. If any scientists have proposed different theories to overcome the problems, you can talk about the advantages and disadvantages with those as well. You can also mention some of the problems that creationists have pointed out, being careful to avoid religious or creationist jargon. Whether it is wise to cite creationist literature will depend on your particular lecturer.

Don’t think that you are being timid or compromising by not arguing the creationist view because you will have presented the difficulties for the philosophical framework of naturalism. In fact, you can criticize the existing theories quite severely and conclude that all the theories proposed to date have significant shortcomings in satisfactorily solving the problem.

When you tackle your assignment as described above, you will have made some good points against philosophical naturalism without mentioning God or the Bible. Notice that you have been entirely factual, reporting our current observational knowledge of the problem, and describing the published attempts to solve it within the naturalistic paradigm. While you have been factual, you have not stated your personal position or said that you believe the theories that you are discussing.

Let me know the outcome of the assignment, and thanks for the question.

 

The Beauty of it All

An easy life!

sloth

Sloth fur acts as a complete ecosystem, usually hosting at least two species of symbiotic cyanobacteria (which provide camouflage) and many species insects and other organisms. These range from moths, beetles, and cockroaches to ciliates, fungi, and algae. One study found 950 species of beetle living on one sloth. From facebook/ScienceIsAwesome on 4/10/2013 Image: Mother & baby sloth via Dr. Carin Bondar- Biologist With a Twist

The Beauty of it All

The Clown spider

clownspider

This clown spider (Theridion grallator) just wants a kiss!

This species is often referred to as the “happy faced spider” because certain morphs have a pattern uncannily resembling a smiley face or a grinning clown face on their yellow body. They’re found in rainforests in Hawaii, and they’re just 5mm long. As the pattern may change according to what food the spider has eaten and as T. grallator is very small, hides during the day, and is thus not a significant prey item for any species of predator, it is more likely that the bizarre variety of patterns serves no significant adaptive purpose at all.

So then if no evillutionary purpose- then why? Maybe by an Intelligent Designer.