A: Asking “Where did God come from” is a lot like reading a John Grisham novel and saying “This book has lawyers and judges and secretaries, but what page is John Grisham on?”
The answer of course, is that John Grisham is not in the novel at all. He lives outside of the novel. He wrote it. He created the time line, the story and the characters. The novel is a book with a finite number of pages, a beginning and an end. But John Grisham lives a life that extends far beyond that book.
Similarly, God lives outside of space and time. He created space. He created time. He is confined to neither of these things. It’s somewhat of a stretch for most of us to imagine that, but a physicist or mathematician will attest that it’s entirely reasonable. There is nothing absurd or illogical to speak of dimensions outside of space and time; in fact additional dimensions are necessary to rationally explain the universe. String theory in modern physics defines 11 dimensions, four of which we experience.
Human experience, without exception, is that all effects have causes. There are no uncaused causes. The inevitable conclusion is that the laws of physics explain how the universe operates but they don’t explain how it got here. All explanations require an “eternal” ingredient. The existence of anything at all demands an uncaused cause. So we never escape the question ‘where did it all come from.’
A purely physical explanation (i.e. materialism, or an atheistic belief that says that there is no such thing as a metaphysical world) relies on as-of-yet undiscovered principles of physics. It requires faith, if you will, that someday we’ll discover a way for matter and energy to come from nothing.
Another problem faced by materialistic explanations is entropy. Entropy says that the universe is cooling down, that energy is being converted from usable forms to unusable forms, and that this process is irreversible. Processes with entropy happen, by definition, over a finite period of time. An infinitely old universe with entropy would now be cold and dead. Once again, the universe can’t be infinitely old. It had to have a cause.
So science as we know it now cannot possibly explain this. The only logical explanation is a cause outside of space and time – which of course is consistent with the definition of God that theists have held for thousands of years.
Science does not refute this; in fact a truly scientific assessment of the facts is that all purely materialistic answers to the origins question blatantly violate the laws of physics.
Q: How do you define information?
A: The dictionary definition (computer science case in particular) will suffice: “Processed, stored or transmitted data.”
Information is a message, something to be communicated from the sender to the receiver, as opposed to noise, which is something that inhibits the flow of communication or creates misunderstanding. If information is viewed merely as a message, it does not have to be accurate. It may be a lie, or just a sound of a kiss. This model assumes a sender and a receiver, and does not attach any significance to the idea that information is something that can be extracted from an environment, e.g., through observation or measurement. Information in this sense is simply any message the sender chooses to create.
This view assumes neither accuracy nor directly communicating parties, but instead assumes a separation between an object and its representation, as well as the involvement of someone capable of understanding this relationship. This view seems therefore to require a conscious mind.
information is dependent upon, but usually unrelated to and separate from, the medium or media used to express it. In other words, the position of a theoretical series of bits, or even the output once interpreted by a computer or similar device, is unimportant, except when someone or something is present to interpret the information. Therefore, a quantity of information is totally distinct from its medium.
What’s important here is 1) information always involves a sender and a receiver; 2) an encoding / decoding mechanism; 3) a convention of symbols (“code”) which represent something distinct from what those symbols are made of. A paragraph in a newspaper is made of ink and paper, but the sentence itself may say nothing about ink or paper.
It may be very helpful here to point out the difference between a pattern and a code. Patterns (snowflakes, crystals, hurricanes, tornados, rivers, coastlines) occur in nature all the time.
A code is “A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages.” Examples of code include English, Chinese, computer languages, music, mating calls and radio signals. Codes always involve a system of symbols that represent ideas or plans.
All codes contain patterns, but not all patterns contain codes. Naturally occurring patterns do not contain code.
Q: But information CAN arise naturally – the gravitational constant, Pi, the speed of light, or strings of molecules like C 7 H 5 NO 4 (Benzine).
A: None of these things contain coded information (see above for definition of information). Gravity is gravity. It is a force. But it contains no code or symbols. When we measure it and quantify it (or even speak of it) we assign code and symbols so we can understand it, but in and of itself, it contains no information.
Pi is a relationship between the diameter of a circle and the circumfrence. The number 3.14159 is a way of expressing Pi, based on a human-designed encoding/decoding system (numbers, base ten) but the relationship between the diameter of a circle and the circumfrence itself is not coded information. The same can be said of the speed of light. The speed of light is the speed of light, it represents nothing other than itself.
A molecule, such as Benzine, is just a molecule. When we describe it with symbols like C 7 H 5 NO 4 we are using an encoding / decoding mechanism to describe it, but Benzine itself contains no code, and it is not an encoding / decoding mechanism. It represents nothing other than itself. Information is different from benzine because it represents something OTHER than itself.
If I arrange pebbles on the driveway to spell your name, those pebbles represent you. As such they now encode information, and possess a property they did not possess before I spelled your name with them. They now contain information.
Q: DNA is not a code, DNA is just a molecule
A: Francis Crick received the Nobel prize for discovering DNA. The following is from the first paragraph of Francis Crick’s Nobel lecture on October 11, 1962. Note his use of the word “code” and “information,” emphasis mine:
“Part of the work covered by the Nobel citation, that on the structure and replication of DNA, has been described by Wilkins in his Nobel Lecture this year… I shall discuss here the present state of a related problem in information transfer in living material – that of the genetic CODE – which has long interested me, and on which my colleagues and I, among many others, have recently been doing some experimental work…”
The following quotes are from atheist Richard Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker:
“Every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer.
“Each nucleus, as we shall see in Chapter 5, contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica put together. And this figure is for each cell, not all the cells of a body put together.”
Having quoted Dawkins here, it’s interesting to note that neither he, nor any materialist has ever provided any scientific (i.e. empirical, testable, falsifiable) explanation for the origin of information. For a very interesting and extensive read on this subject, read “The Problem of Information For The Theory of Evolution” by Royal Truman. If you carefully trace every reference and rebuttal to this article on the internet, you’ll discover that not one person has ever supplied a scientific response to the questions raised here, nor provided any examples of materialistic processes that produce coded information.
No naturally occuring molcule possesses the properties of information. Nature does not produce any kind of code, encoding/decoding mechanism or symbolic relationships at all; everything in nature represents only itself.
DNA, on the other hand, represents a complete plan for a living organism. DNA is an encoding / decoding mechanism that contains code, or language, representing the organism.
Q: Someone could discover a naturalistic process that produces information, maybe tomorrow.
A: In theory, yes, they could. Non-belief in God must surely rest on a sort of faith that such a process exists and will be discovered someday.
Is there such a process? All we can say is that none has ever been discovered. No known exception exists. We can say that information never comes from naturalistic process in the exact same way that we say that there are no exceptions to the laws of thermodynamics, or the law of gravity, or the speed of light.
Maybe someday, someone will discover an exception to thermodynamics and entropy.
Maybe someday, someone will discover an exception to the law of gravity.
Maybe someday, they’ll find an exception to the speed of light.
If someone were to ever discover any of these things, he or she would surely become the Nobel Prize winner of the century.
But to say right now that there is an exception to any of these laws of physics is to make a patently unscientific statement. Everything we know about thermodynamics and the conservation of matter and energy requires a causal agent outside of space and time.
And everything that we presently know about information and DNA requires a Mind, because there is no known mechanism by which natural processes produce information.
Thus we have airtight inductive inference that DNA originated from a superintelligence:
1. All languages, codes, protocols and encoding / decoding mechanisms that we know the origin of come from a mind – there are no known exceptions
2. DNA is a language, a code, a protocol, and an encoding / decoding mechanism
3. Therefore DNA came from a mind.
Q: What Does Information Theory Tell Us About God?
A: What’s unique about information theory and its special way of addressing origins question (compared to, say, physics or astronomy) is that although humans can never create matter and energy or re-create the Big Bang, all of us create information every day.
The Big Bang is a barrier that Einstein proved we will never see beyond; we can only determine that it had a cause outside of space and time. But the creation of information, the creation of languages and codes, is something we’re all intimately familiar with.
You create information every time you talk to somebody. The creation of information begins with a desire, which lead to an idea, which you express in words, which you break down into sounds and letters when you speak or write. In that order. The way you and I design a paper airplane or a car, or remodel a kitchen is no different.
In other words, language and design are always a top-down mental processes – not something that nature does “bottom up.” So not only does Information Theory prove the existence of God, it also tells us something about God’s nature – that God is conscious, God is personal, and God communicates and speaks.
This is 100% consistent with the observation that the one element common to ALL designs is that they are represented symbolically by ideas and language before they are implemented in reality. Anything that is represented by language before it is built is designed.
God is a designer. God thinks and speaks in order to build.
With that in mind, it’s especially prescient that Genesis One says “And God Said… let there be light,” etc etc. Note that creation itself is a product of words that are spoken. Then the book of John expands on this, connecting the creation of all things with Jesus Christ: “In the Beginning was the WORD. And the WORD was with God and the WORD was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything that was made.”
What we have here is a theological statement that Jesus is both the verbal expression of God and the essence of God at the same time. In Christian theology, God himself is the essence of words, language and expression. The Biblical theology of God squarely matches everything that information science tells us about reality.