Let's study ID:the source of information in living organisms (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 18:06 (36 days ago) @ David Turell

A new ID person is presented with his article:


"The question of the significance of human existence comes sharply into focus as we consider the origin of life itself. Do the laws of nature support the origin of life from nonlife, or do they argue against it? In order to address this question, it is helpful to consider a defining characteristic of all living things, namely their phenomenal information content. Naturalistic explanations attempting to reach the heights of information content found in even the simplest living thing have appealed to “dumb luck” or to some unobserved natural law. However, consideration of the known and observed laws of physics in conjunction with the finite limits of “chance” within our universe appear to rule out any natural origin of the vastly complex biomolecular metropolis found within the cells of life. (my bold)

"The science of information theory allows the quantification of the information content of physical systems such as stars, rocks, molecules, and books. The information content of a system composed of many parts, such as atoms, is low if the various parts don’t have to be in a specific relation to one another. In nature, examples of low-information systems would be a cloud of water molecules or a pile of dirt. Rearranging the particles of water or dirt doesn’t ruin the system; if an airplane flies through a cloud, stirring it up, it’s still a cloud. Another type of system found in nature is an ordered system, such as a snowflake or a salt crystal. These also have a low information content because the regular, repetitious pattern of the atoms composing the crystal can be easily specified with only a few instructions or decisions. “Stirring up” a crystal will ruin it, but it can be easily re-formed since its ordered structure follows a simple pattern, governed by specific interatomic bonds. Thus, both complex but random systems, like clouds, and specific ordered systems, like snowflakes, have low information content. Either of these systems can form naturally since they have lower information content than the precursors (dispersed water droplets or vapor) out of which they formed. (my bold)


"Since the information content of the entire physical universe has always been lower than that found in even the simplest living organism, we can conclude that no scientific examination of the initial conditions of the universe or of planet Earth could yield a naturalistic prediction of life (with its fantastically high information content) at any later time in the history of the universe. In consequence, since life came into existence on Earth, a reasonable conclusion is that the source of this exponential jump in information content comes from beyond nature—from a super-natural source.


"In principle, information can be coalesced out of the environment, but not to a degree any greater than already contained within the environment. It has been repeatedly shown that the information content of even a single large protein molecule far exceeds that of the entire nonliving universe, and the information content of even the simplest living thing is so much higher that were our universe 10^500 times bigger it would not come even close to sufficing for a naturalistic origin of life. (my bold)


"What kind of structures is nature good at producing? Stars! Astronomers estimate that the universe contains at least 10 billion trillion stars, formed through the gravitational collapse of primarily hydrogen and helium gas clouds. Stars, however, have a relatively low information content. We can understand this conceptually by imagining sticking a giant spoon into a star and stirring it up. After you pull the spoon out, what has become of the star? Have you permanently destroyed it? No, its internal fusion energy production will only be temporarily interrupted, because the laws of nature will cause it to settle back down into its former state, and it will shine just like before. Compare this to what would happen if you stirred up a living thing, even a single cell, in such a way that you rearranged all its atoms. Doing so would irreparably destroy the intricate internal chemical structures within the cell, and no matter how long you waited, it would not settle into its former state. The laws of nature could not recreate what your stirring destroyed.

"The information content of the universe exponentially increased with the formation of the first living organism. Since natural processes always work to lower the information content of any closed (or effectively closed) system over time, the origin of life represents an unnatural event in the history of our universe. And yet, it obviously came to pass! If life’s origin defies natural causes, then a supernatural Cause becomes a plausible explanation. If a skeptic demands a miracle as a reason to believe, consider that God has provided just such a confirmation of his reality in the abundance of life abounding on planet Earth."

Comment: Note at times ID sneaks in God. It is on their not so 'private' website. What is important in this article is a clear discussion of the use of information theory as ID views it. dhw seems to think information is a dirty word, based on past discussions. Understanding the theory based on Shannon's initial work is a vital part of understanding how to view ID theory.

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