In the Beginning Was the Bit
Is intelligent design theory making an inroad into secular science? One might think so, based on a book review published in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature,1 entitled, “The bits that make up the Universe.” Michael A. Nielsen reviews a new book by Hans Christian van Baeyer, Information: The New Language of Science (Weidenfeld & Nicolson: 2003). Nielsen begins,
What is the Universe made of? A growing number of scientists suspect that information plays a fundamental role in answering this question. Some even go as far as to suggest that information-based concepts may eventually fuse with or replace traditional notions such as particles, fields and forces. The Universe may literally be made of information, they say, an idea neatly encapsulated in physicist John Wheeler’s slogan: “It from bit”. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
Nielsen indicates that scientists are asking some mighty big questions:
The book’s most appealing feature is its focus on big questions. What is information? What role does information play in fundamental physics? Where else in science does information play a critical role? And what common themes link these areas? Von Baeyer approaches these questions from many angles, giving us a flavour of some of the most interesting answers currently being offered.
Nielsen indicates that the new thinking goes beyond the information theory of Claude Shannon, who defined information only in its ability to be transmitted faithfully without regard to content. Nielsen has mostly good comments about von Baeyer’s book, calling it “an accessible and engaging overview of the emerging role of information as a fundamental building block in science.”
1Michael A. Nielsen, “The bits that make up the Universe,” Jan. 1 issue of Nature 427, 16 – 17 (01 January 2004); doi:10.1038/427016b.
Well, this is really interesting. The importance of such a paradigm shift after 145 years of Darwinian naturalism cannot be overemphasized. If more and more scientists are willing to ask these basic questions, and consider the role of information as a fundamental entity in the Universe, then it would appear intelligent design (ID) theory is poised to make great strides in 2004. (After all, the centrality of information is one of the key points made by ID leaders, as expressed in the film Unlocking the Mystery of Life).
This book review is tantalizing, but its questions are not big enough. Most thoughtful readers who follow Nielsen’s questions will feel impelled to ask the follow-up question, Where does information come from? To say it always existed would appear tantamount to asserting the existence of God. It’s hard enough for atheists to claim matter and energy burst forth out of nothing, but to add information to that would be appear unsupportable.
Secular scientists can be plagiarists when it comes to giving credit to non-evolutionists. We’ve already seen them take credit for the dam-breach theory of the origin of Grand Canyon (see 07/22/2003 headline), not crediting Dr. Walter Brown and other creation scientists who have been proposing the idea for years. Creationists have been the leaders of the concept that information is a fundamental entity of the Universe; it has been a common theme expressed by Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith, Dr. Werner Gitt (author of In the Beginning Was Information), Dr. William Dembski and Dr. Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute, and others. We should not let von Baeyer or Nielsen or Nature forget this. Ultimately, the credit should go clear back to the Apostle John, who stated the fundamental axiom of information theory, In the beginning was the Word*. Now wouldn’t that be a revolution, to see the Bible referenced in the footnotes of a scientific paper.
*Want to know the identity of the Word? Keep reading John Chapter 1 – and for that matter, the rest of the book.