Sunday, June 23, 2013

Evolution's Five Fundamental Assumptions--Are they Scientific or Philosophical? Part Four (cont.)

Assumption Four, Part Three:  Information Theory  *

When molecule biologists Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, evolutionists were certain they had, at last, uncovered the mechanism that fueled naturalistic evolution. DNA transmits instructions for building the protein molecules and the various “machines” that enable cells to function and survive. When DNA replicates itself, there is sometimes a foul-up in these instructions and a mutation occurs. Hence, as we saw in part one of assumption four, evolutionists believe that “good” mutations plus eons of time has allowed evolution to proceed from single-celled organisms to the human race.

However, as more and more knowledge came to light on how DNA functions, it turned out that DNA provides far greater support for creation by design than it does naturalistic evolution. Studies have revealed that DNA is a vast storehouse of information. This information is the source of the instructions for building protein molecules and cellular machines. The information stored in DNA, Crick and Watson discovered, is encoded in the form of a four-character alphabetic code. These chemical “letters” (called nucleotides) act like a written language. As such, they must be “written” in a proper sequence in order to accurately transmit the information needed to construct specific proteins and the cell’s molecular machinery—just as letters in a word must be arranged in a certain order to correctly spell the word.

The information content of DNA and how it’s transmitted creates a problem for evolution. Why? Because information is immaterial, it’s non-matter. It cannot be identified as merely the chemical properties of DNA. In other words, DNA is matter but the information stored in DNA is not matter—it’s immaterial. The challenge facing evolution is to demonstrate where the information stored in DNA originated. Since, without exception, intelligence is always the source of information, it appears that an intelligent agent must have programed information into DNA.

Here is an analogy that may help you understand how information can be distinct from matter and yet be directly associated with it—just as the information in DNA is distinct from the physical matter of DNA, even though it’s stored in the chemical properties of DNA.

Most naturalistic evolutionists are materialists. They assume that all mental states, including tastes in music, moral values, religious beliefs, feeling of love and fear, political opinions, and so on are merely chemical and neurological activities within our brains—everything can be explained in terms of pure matter. There are no immaterial or supernatural realities; there is no soul; there is no such thing as a mind existing independent of the physical brain. But is this true?

If you were to crack open a skull and looked inside, what would you see? Gray matter. If you put a piece of brain tissue under a microscope, you would only see brain cells. What you won’t see are abstract thoughts, memories, emotional feelings, and information.  Why? Because these are immaterial components of our minds and distinct from our physical brains. Matter has shape and size, it can be measured, weighed, and observed—thoughts, memories, feelings, information, and other non-material activities can’t. It is impossible to reduce the non-physical (immaterial) functions of our minds to the physical matter of our brains. The brain is not the source of information and mental activities; it is the vehicle that receives, stores, and transmits them. In the same way, DNA stores information that is transmitted as instructions within cells, but the information itself is not the chemical elements of DNA. Matter and information are two distinct features of reality.

Now, if you’re having trouble getting your mind around the idea that information contained in DNA can be transmitted through the physical properties of DNA—and yet remain distinct from the chemical language itself—perhaps another analogy will be helpful.

Right now you are reading my blog article. It contains thoughts I’ve generated from research and reflections on this topic. These same thoughts were originally typed into my computer and backed up on a USB storage device. Now, suppose I later include this article in a book. I will email the entire manuscript to an acquisitions editor who will make hard copies to distribute to proofreaders and other editors—or scan it and email it to them. If the book is published, the information (my thoughts) will then be printed with ink on paper, and possibly published electronically for Kindle or Nook readers. But notice that in all these various mediums—computer program, electronic transfers, ink on paper, and so on—my thoughts remained unchanged and distinct from physical matter, in whatever form they appeared. If you examined the printed page with a magnifying glass, you would still see only ink and paper—not my thoughts. If you looked in my computer you’d just see circuits, wires, etc. The thoughts (information) themselves not only existed prior to being recorded in physical form—but they also continued to exist unchanged apart from paper and ink and every other physical carrier in which they were stored and transmitted. 

So it is with the vast amount of information housed in DNA, in our genes. DNA stores far more data than several sets of all 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together—the equivalent of many thousands of books. Just as the information in a set of encyclopedias originated from an outside intelligence and is not the physical properties of the paper and ink itself, so information encoded in DNA cannot be reduced to merely the molecules of matter itself. The source of information is always intelligence. Thus, the source of the information in DNA is intelligence, not matter.  The evolutionary concept that the vast amount of information assembled and stored in DNA is merely matter—mindless molecules—is a philosophical assumption of evolution. It is far more reasonable, and supported by the scientific evidence, that an intelligent Designer is the origin of the information input into DNA.

My next blog article will finish our series on “Evolution’s Five Fundamental Assumptions.” We’ll examine evolution’s claim that the fossil record supports evolution.

 *  This and the other blog articles in this series are copyrighted material and may not be reproduced electronically or in print. But feel free to link this blog to your own website, blog, or Facebook. I explore information theory (and other Intelligent Design evidences) more fully in my book The Christian Combat Manual (AMG Publishers). My sources are documented there.

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