There is a giant chasm in the world that 99% of people never notice.
But once you see it, you can’t “un-see” it. After today, you will suddenly see that chasm with crystal clarity. From now on, the way you see the entire world will never be the same.
On side 1 of the chasm is: THE MATERIAL WORLD. In it you find:
Chaos & fractals
On side 2 of the chasm is: THE WORLD OF INFORMATION. In it you find:
Rules (and the possibility of breaking them)
If you were to travel to some distant sterile planet in outer space, everything you find there would be on Side 1 of the Chasm. Material things do not replicate. They don’t make copies of themselves or anything else. Rocks and snowflakes and sand dunes exhibit no purpose. They change but they do not evolve.
They obey the laws of physics and nothing more. There is no meaning, no symbols, no instructions, no information. There is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”. There just “is.”
The material world is “bottom up.”
However in things that process Information, ALL of the features of Side 2 are present.
Information systems (people, computers, TV stations, radios, telephones, DNA) make copies of messages and everything in them serves some kind of purpose, however simple.
Information evolves. Information uses symbols (objects that represent something other than themselves). Information can be correct or incorrect. It can be understood or misunderstood. Information follows rules which can be broken. Data can be corrupted, instructions can be obeyed or disobeyed. Copies can be perfect or imperfect.
Information is “top down.”
Information itself is THE chasm between non-living and living things.
This chasm is, for all practical purposes, INFINITE. It’s not literally infinite… but it’s as close as anyone ever gets to infinity in real science and math problems. Larger numbers than you encounter in any other endeavor. Let me explain why this is so.
Consider the following sentence:
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”
What are the chances of that sentence occurring by random chance?
It’s easy to find the answer. It has 43 letters and spaces. Excluding things like apostrophes and semicolons and numbers, there are 26 upper case letters and 26 lower case letters to choose from. So there are 52 to the power of 43 possible combinations of letters.
52^43 = 6.139652×10^73
Which means the chances of this sentence occurring randomly are 1 chance in
61,396,520,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
(There are only 10^80 particles in the universe.)
So the chances of this sentence appearing by random chance are not much better than painting one atom red, somewhere in the far flung reaches of universe, then having some other person actually find it by accident, blindfolded.
You might be starting to wonder if the old story about monkeys and typewriters eventually producing the works of Shakespeare is true. It’s NOT. As a matter of fact such a thing is far more absurd than accidentally finding one red atom in the universe.
There’s still something I forgot to mention.
We started out by assuming that we had upper & lower case English letters, ready-made to work with. Which is a pretty generous assumption.
What if we didn’t even start with letters? What if all we had was rocks or sand or clumps of matter?
If we couldn’t start with letters, we’d really be in deep doo-doo.
OK, so what do all these numbers have to do with information?
They show us that information is very, very, very specific. Even getting the spelling and grammar exactly right in this silly little sentence is just as specific as the exact coordinates of a single lucky red atom somewhere in the Universe. Even the simplest language is incredibly precise.
And remember, every time you make this sentence one letter longer, you increase the number of possible combinations by 52.
Here’s the easiest biology example I can offer you: There are more than 10^200,000 possible code combinations in the DNA of the simplest known micro-organism in the world, Nanoarchaeum. Many people have never even seen a number that big, anywhere. No one in science or engineering even has use for numbers that big.
So the chasm between information and non-information is truly infinite.
This is why information NEVER happens by chance, never by accident. There isn’t enough time or chance in the whole history of the universe for even the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” to appear by accident, even once. Nobody in science has ever seen information spontaneously arise by chance.
Many people assume that DNA happened by chance. They were told that surely, given billions of years, and all the planets in the universe, it was bound to happen sometime, somewhere.
But most people never got out a calculator and questioned this; they just accepted it on faith.
Those who did do the math – and this is pretty simple high school math – quickly saw that there was no way this could be true. (You should always be skeptical in matters like this. You should even be skeptical of me. Get out your calculator and check or yourself. BTW the built-in calculator in Microsoft Windows maxxes out at 10^2000.)
I fully understand that you may doubt me, and I encourage you to check my calculations. Furthermore, I encourage you to scour all the world’s scientific literature and find any mathematician or statistician who has a statistical model that shows that the information in DNA had even a fighting chance of occurring by accident.
I invite you to search the entire Internet, every library and science lab for that.
In 5 years of studying this question and discussing this with literally THOUSANDS of people, nobody has ever shown me such a formula.
There is an infinite chasm that separates information from non-information, living things from non-living.
From now on, when you look at something, you’ll ask: “Is that something that processes information?”
Computers, cell phones, TV’s, digital clocks, birds and snails? Yes those things process information.
Rocks, sand dunes, snow flakes, tornadoes and lifeless planets?
No information whatsoever. No codes, no instructions, no meaning. Just the uncaring, impersonal laws of physics.
The materialistic worldview has no explanation for the existence of information – because all information we know the origin of comes from intelligent beings.
Therefore the most rational conclusion is that all information ultimately comes from an intelligent source.
Therefore there is so much more for us than just the material world and the laws of physics. There is Spirit and Intelligence.
P.S.: Everything I just described to you today, also explains why randomness can’t improve information any more reliably than it creates it. I’ll explain more about that in a later installment.