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  • Writer's pictureTy Rostvedt

Information Formation

Can you tell the difference between information and nonsense? I’m sure many of my previous articles make it difficult to tell the difference, but nevertheless, let me propose an example. Let’s say you were to go out in the forest somewhere up here in northern Minnesota and you came across a tree with a message etched in the bark, something like “Joe loves Becky.” Would you conclude that the tree naturally formed its own tattoo? Or would you conclude someone else had been there?

Materialism is the belief that there is only mass and energy in the world. There is nothing else that exists beyond this. The things that we can see and touch and the things that can be studied and researched are all that exist. This is the basis for all scientific investigation. There are no supernatural forces, or spirits, or gods to consider. However, some scientists argue that there should be a third category beyond just mass and energy in the universe. They propose the category of information.

What is information exactly? Well, let’s take a simple example. Think about texting on your phone. If you want to wish your mother a happy birthday, you could take out your smartphone and send her a text message. That message travels through airwaves and arrives on your mother’s phone and she reads it and smiles. Unless it’s not her birthday, in which case, she sends back a confused emoji. Now think about this, there was nothing material in that communication, but yet information was shared between two parties. It would have been just as simple for you to text your mother a message such as “Happy Birthday” as it would have been to text her “Hippy Yard Bath.” Both messages contain the same letters, yet one contains information and the other contains nonsense. Information, then, is anything that uses a code to attain meaning in order to accomplish something. The code (letters in the alphabet) brought meaning (Happy Birthday) for a purpose (a mother knows her child loves her). All sorts of things contain information, this includes everything from text messages, to books, hieroglyphics, sheet music, computer codes, and mathematical formulas. Examples that do not include information would be a tree, a sheet of blank paper, a snowflake, or a piano.

Information is inherently non-material. If you have a blank compact disc (CD) and then record music on to it, the CD weighs the same as it did before you recorded the music. This example helps us illustrate that information is independent of its material source. We know that the first Law of Thermodynamics indicates that mass and energy cannot be created nor destroyed. If you smash the CD, the pieces remain, but the information can be lost. This teaches us that information can be destroyed, which means that it is not material. We also know that mass and energy cannot create information on their own. No matter how many times you let your pet monkey bang away at the piano, he will not play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony by accident. So, here’s the thing, the only way we know information can originate is through an intelligent sender. No matter how many times I drop all the Scrabble letters on the table, they will not write this article for me (I tried).

Any machine that performs a useful function can be traced back to information that came from intelligent beings. Where this gets interesting is when we turn to the code found in all living systems (DNA). We know that DNA is a code that contains 4 letters (represented by ATCG) that make up 3-letter words (codon). These groups of three represent specific amino acids, which in turn create proteins. These proteins are essential for the function of any living organism. In other words, DNA is information! The code (ATCG) brought meaning (specific sequences) for a purpose (existence of life). What’s amazing is that information encoded in DNA is billions of times more compact than any modern computer or phone. Seems to point to evidence of intelligence to me and I haven’t even quoted any Bible verses yet. Another way to say this is that mass and energy alone would not produce life. You need more. You need information.

The point is that there is evidence for an Intelligent Creator at your fingertips – literally. Information exists in your DNA and don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it happens to be there by accident. This is reason to praise God for His magnificent creation. “Ah Lord God! It is You, who made the heavens and the earth by Your great strength and Your outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17). Now next time you text someone “Happy Birthday” first make sure it is their birthday and also make sure you get the letters in the right order, otherwise you may wish them a “Drippy Hay Bath” and just confuse them greatly. It’s the difference between information and nonsense.

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