Modern science has confirmed biblical creation and challenged Darwinian evolution in many ways. One of the most powerful yet simple lines of evidence is in the field of information theory. This branch of science deals with the origin and transmission of information and is absolutely devastating to evolution. When we study information theory, we will find that particles-to-people evolution cannot occur because it would actually violate a law of nature.
In our modern age with computers nearly everywhere, the science of information has never been more important. Computers are information processors. At the most fundamental level, they receive, act on, and transmit information. But information isn’t limited to computers. We use information whenever we communicate with other people. That’s really what communication is: the transfer of information.
The Definition of Information
But what exactly is information? As with most words, the term is used in more than one way. For scientific studies, a precising definition is necessary so that there is no confusion about what we mean. Information theorists have found the following definition of information to be immensely useful, and this is therefore the definition we will use in this article. Information is an encoded, symbolic message, with a language convention, and which contains an expected action upon the part of the recipient, and an intended purpose.
As such, information always has four essential components. First, information always makes use of encoded symbols. A symbol represents something else. This very article (or any article) makes use of encoded symbols. As one example, the second word of this article is ‘science.’ This word represents an idea, the idea of the scientific method, or the body of knowledge accumulated by the use of such a method. When you see the word ‘science,’ you are not seeing science itself, but the concept of science should spring to mind. The word ‘science’ is not itself science; rather it represents the idea of science. The letters of the word are arranged in a particular way that tells us something about how to pronounce the word. And this word – by convention – we designate to mean science.
Likewise, all the other words of this article represent something else. Each word has a specific meaning (in context) that represents a particular item or idea. Therefore, this article passes the first requirement of information; it uses a symbolic code. The same would be true for any other meaningful article of course.
Some articles you might not be able to read because they use a different code – perhaps a language that you do not know. Nonetheless, our ability or lack thereof, to understand the code is utterly irrelevant to the fact that a code exists. When hieroglyphics were first (re)discovered, no one knew the code. Only with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, was the code deciphered. This stone contained the same decree written in three different code systems, one of which was hieroglyphics, and another was Greek. Since Greek was understood, the hieroglyphics code could be deciphered for the first time since the ancient world.
On the other hand, a beautiful painting would not contain information because there is no code system. The painting may indeed represent something else (a painting of a horse represents a horse), but it does not do so symbolically. The word ‘horse’ represents a horse by encoded symbols. But a painting of a horse does not. Unless the painting has actual symbolic text on it (such as the signature of the painter), it does not possess information.
The second requirement of information is a language convention. This article was originally written in English, though it may over time be translated into different languages. A language has rules of grammar and syntax. These rules specify how the words are to be understood in context. A language has an alphabet – a sequence of encoded symbols – and rules for how these symbols are combined. As such, this article passages the second requirement of information.
On the other hand, if I merely pressed letters on a keyboard randomly, the resulting mess would not contain information. The letters themselves are part of the English alphabet, but they are not organized according to any language convention. Though a given word (such as ‘cat’) might appear in this string of symbols by accident, no rules of grammar are present, there is no language, and therefore no actual information is present.
The sender of information always has in mind an expected action on the part of the recipient. Suppose someone yelled “The building is on fire! Please exit immediately!” This person expects that those who hear the information will get up and leave the building. Whether the recipient does in fact act in the expected way is utterly irrelevant. Perhaps some people decide not to believe the warning that the building is on fire, and they choose to stay inside. That does not change the fact that the person yelling the warning expects and intends for people to leave the building. If he really expected that no one would act on his statement, it is unlikely he would bother making the statement. Since the expected action is present, this hypothetical example passes the third requirement of information.
Note that the expected action may be an internal or contemplative one. A person teaching students about history does expect the students to act on the information, but perhaps not outwardly. The teacher may simply expect the students to gain an appreciation of history and to reflect on their place within it. This is a purely mental action, but it is an action nonetheless. Whether the students do in fact act as expected is irrelevant, and perhaps unknowable to the teacher. The instructions presented by the teacher carry an implicit expectation of action, albeit unseen action, which the students may or may not choose to follow. So, this example also passes the third requirement of information.
Finally, the sender of information has a purpose, a reason for sending the information. He intends for it to accomplish something. The person who shouts that the building is on fire presumably has the purpose of saving life. He expects people to act by exiting the building (that’s the third level of information), and his purpose is to save lives. Again, it makes no difference whether the information eventually accomplishes the intended purpose of the sender. The fact that the sender has a purpose that he intends to accomplish is sufficient to pass the final requirement of information.
There is always a reason why a person chooses to send information. The recipient may or may not act on the information. Even if the person does act on the information, the purpose may or may not be accomplished. A letter may get lost in the mail, and never arrive at its intended destination. But the person writing the letter sill had an expected action and intended purpose for writing the letter. So, the letter does contain information.
Does a cookbook qualify as containing information? For each recipe, it will have words that stand for ingredients, sugar, salt, etc. The ingredients themselves are not found in the book, e.g. the book does not actually contain sugar or salt, but rather words that symbolically represent these ingredients and their amounts. So, a cookbook passes the first requirement of information.
The cookbook will have a language convention, perhaps English. It may be an abbreviated form thereof. For example, it may have a table with a list of ingredients rather than complete sentences. But a language convention is still being followed. So, a cookbook passes the second requirement of information.
Is there an expect action on the part of the recipient? Of course. The recipient is expected to combine the ingredients in the quantities and in the way specified by the book. Again, it makes no difference whether the person does in fact follow the instructions. What matters, in terms of the definition, is that there is an expected action. The author of the book expects any readers to follow the instructions as written. So, the third requirement of information is met.
Finally, is there an intended purpose to the cookbook? Again, yes. The purpose is that the recipient will have something good to eat. In terms of qualifying as information, it makes no difference whether the recipient accomplishes the purpose. It is sufficient that the author of the book had a purpose in mind when writing the book. So a cookbook does indeed have information in it; it fulfills all four requirements.
What about this article? It has words written in English, and easily passes the first two tests. Is there an expected action on the part of the reader? Of course. The reader is expected at minimum to act internally on the information and become persuaded that information theory is a powerful confirmation of creation, that evolutionists will be challenged to reconsider their view. Again, this may not occur, but the action is expected for at least some readers. Perhaps this will lead to outward actions as well, such as sharing this information with others, and using these facts in conversations with critics of the Bible. And the intended purpose is that readers will have confidence in biblical creation. The article passes all the levels, and therefore qualifies as information.
What about the Bible? It contains words – representations of things and ideas – written in a human language convention. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek but has been translated into many other languages. In any case, this passes the first two requirements for information. Is there an expected action on the part of the readers? Yes – repent and believe the Gospel! Is there an intended purpose? Yes – that readers might (by repenting and believing the Gospel) have eternal life. In fact, the Bible actually records in its own text that this is the expected action and intended purpose (John 20:31). It does qualify as information.
In the next article, we will examine the laws of nature that pertain to information and their application to origins.