In the Beginning Was Information

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In the beginning was information
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Before he retired Werner Gitt was a professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology and the Head of the Department of Information Technology.  He wrote In the Beginning Was Information:  A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design in Nature (Green Forest, AR:  Master Books, Inc., c. 2005) to show how information “is a fundamental entity on equal footing with matter and energy” (p. 11).  Consider, for example, this:  “Every spider is a versatile genius:  It plans its web like an architect, and then carries out this plan like the proficient weaver it is.  It is also a chemist who can synthesize silk employing a computer controlled manufacturing process, and then use the silk for spinning.  The spider is so proficient that it seems to have completed courses in structural engineering, chemistry, architecture, and information science, but we know that this was not the case.  So who instructed it?  Where did it obtain the specialized knowledge?  Who was its adviser?” (p. 15).    To address such phenomena, to understand such questions, one thing is utterly clear:  information plays a vital (i.e. vitalizing, life-giving) role. 

To build his case, Gitt first explains and classifies the laws of nature.  He then addresses the importance of information—a non-material, purely mental dimension of Reality defined by Werner Strombach as an “‘enfolding of order at the level of contemplative cognition’” (p. 51).  There is, Gitt insists, “no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this” (p. 80).  Self-evidently, information “is an abstract representation of material realities or conceptual relationships” (p. 84), a “coding system” revealing what is.  As rational creatures sustained by the amazing DNA molecules, we daily process an incredible amount of information—some 3 x 1024 bits—“more than a million times the total amount of human knowledge in all the libraries of the world” (p. 89).

Understanding the extraordinary importance of information leads Gitt to repudiate the naturalistic evolutionary paradigm regnant since Darwin.  No scientist knows how life began!  Various theoretical models have been proposed, but as of now they are all purely imaginary.  Such was recently made clear at the seventh “International Conference on the Origins of Life” in Mainz, Germany, where leading scientists from around the world concluded, according to Klaus Dose, that “all evolutionary theses that living systems developed from poly-nucleotides which originated spontaneously, are devoid of any empirical base’” (p. 106).  To Gitt:  “The basic flaw of all evolutionary views is in the origin of the information in living beings.  It has never been shown that a coding system and semantic information could originate by itself in a material medium, and the information theorems predict that this will never be possible.  A purely material origin of life is thus precluded” (p. 123).

The rightful role of information is, however, fully compatible with a biblical worldview!  As St. John so presciently proclaimed:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by Him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1:1-3).  God spoke the world into being, and He has revealed himself through words.  The Bible tells us who God is, why creation functions as it does, what is our nature as human beings, and how we should live and get to heaven.  Talk about important information!  It’s all right here at our fingertips!  Gitt’s exposition of some of the basic truths revealed to us in Scripture is the work of a thoughtful layman, not a biblical scholar.  But he makes an eloquent point:  highly intelligent scientists find in the Scripture truths essential for us humans.

Gerard Reed is a retired professor of history and philosophy, most recently Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He is the author of three books--The Liberating Law; C.S. Lewis and the Bright Shadow of Holiness; C.S. Lewis Explores Vice & Virtue--as well as a variety of articles and book reviews.


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