I sent the following:
Some creationists argue that genes are information that must have been encoded by a god; that genes are obvious proof of god's having created. I wonder about the encoding of souls.
If genes are physical machines encoded onto organic molecules, are souls machines encoded onto soul-stuff? If they are not machines what are they? If souls are not god-encoded soul-stuff, why is it neccessary to think of genes as god-encoded physical stuff?
Physicist Paul Davies writes that there is more information in randomness than in order. It takes more information to describe a random event than the simple algorithm needed to describe ordered events.
The information as proof of god argument is based on commonsense perceptions. When similar thinking is applied to other theist notions they appear to be senseless (or so I'd argue) calling the commonsense reasoning into question.
This was the response to my e-mail from another member:
Hate to say it, but the question sounds better than it actually is. Performing logical operations on irrational terms cannot lead you to any conclusion. Before you can even consider such questions, you need to establish the existence of a soul.
That's what I'd tell a believer.
Who is Paul Davies? Did he die before the 1940's? Perhaps he never heard of Claude Shannon, inventor of information theory.
Randomness is the absence of information. To say that it has more information is just plain wrong. The reason that it is difficult to make random numbers algorithmically is because it's hard to destroy information. In fact, information and matter can be thought of in similar terms. If you have a sufficiently dense collection of information located in space, then that information will form a black hole, just as a sufficiently dense collection of matter would. That's because information is tied directly and encoded using matter. One can change the form of matter, but actually destroying it is another matter. The situation with information is analogous and it's interesting to think of information in those terms.
So, computers cannot produce truly random numbers. However they can make pseudo-random numbers through a process of cleverly hiding the information algorithmically. Given time and sufficient resources, a cryptographer can analyze a stream of pseudo-random numbers and describe the process that created them. That's because there's always some information left in pseudo-random humbers. True random numbers would yield to no analysis.
Who is Paul Davies? He is author of "Fifth Miracle", a review of which is here:
He is not a traditional theist and seems to believe god is a quantum phenomenom (whatever that means).
I've wondered if the whole creationist information argument started because one of them looked up entropy and found it listed as a term for describing information and channels. Then misapplied it. I've read the Brittanica article on Info Sci, but I don't have the math to really understand it.
This is truly bizarre! I can't imagine anything more stupid
than that! *Everything* is built at the lowest level of
quantum phenomena (particles). This might be another example of the "god of the gaps".
As science expands knowledge, the place where god can hide lay in the gap
between knowledge and ignorance. God's running out of hiding spaces, and he's
appearing less potent every day. Of course, potential
knowledge is infinite, so there's always some place for a slippery
god to hide. The argument will never go away among ignorant people. The
god of the gaps is a pretty stupid god if you ask me.
Regarding information science, he wrote:
It can get really tricky, but the fact that your modem works as well as it does is some evidence that the theory is useful.
A third listserve member wrote in:
I would find the statement more true if we change "random has more information than anything with design" to be "it takes more information to describe something random than something designed to have order".
To which this response came:
But randomness is distinctly different from pseudo-randomness. Computers cannot generate truly random numbers unless they are connected to a separate source of entropy, such as an atom with extra neutrons in the nucleus (radioactive decay is a natural event).
Pseudo-random numbers have some of the dame statistical properties of random numbers, but they repeat in a perfectly predictable sequence.