Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Information is everything

A paper has recently been published by Intelligent Design advocate William Dembski. I’ve tried to read it but it’s way over my head so instead I’ve opted for the ‘lite’ version i.e. an intelligent design blog!

‘Dembski and Marks' article explains that unless you start off with some information indicating where peaks in a fitness landscape may lie, any search — including a Darwinian one — is on average no better than a random search.’

That seems to be saying that you can’t build a Darwinian machine from scratch.

‘The implication, of course, is that some intelligent programmer is required to front-load a search with active information if the search is to successfully find rare functional genetic sequences.’

That sounds plausible to me – and I’m in no position to critique it! – but I think we need to qualify the conclusions. This is an argument against materialism and not evolution.

Evolution begins when you have information that can be copied accurately (but not totally accurately, there has to be some error creeping in) and when this information is in competition with other bits of information i.e. genomes.

This article seems to be suggesting that getting to that point requires the system to be ‘front-loaded’ i.e. set up beforehand. When you examine the elaborate copying mechanisms used by the cell to replicate its information then it is easy to visualize this.

But seeing that all cells have this equipment then there is little to stop evolution proceeding and as part of the process it does generate new genetic information.

So this paper may well raise serious issues for the materialist, but for the theist who recognizes evolution it is simply confirmation of what we already knew! There is a creator at work in the natural world who guides all things to fulfill His purpose.

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