Please Help! Trying to understand how information/instructions in DNA are not intelligence based

And just to be clear:

Complexity, entropy, and information are closely related. In almost all situations they are know to increase spontaneously (they increase on their own without outside intervention).

Also, to mention a point implied by both Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov:

If we imagine that the complexity of life came from a Creator . . . then we must imagine that the Creator must be much more complex.

We must now ask where the complexity of the Creator came from, if we’re to be honest.

If we decide that the Creator was always this complex, then why not skip a step and decide that the Universe has always had it’s innate capacity for complexity?


The fallacies contained in these arguments have been addressed at length, but let’s try again.

There are 4 letters in DNA that can be paired up in 8 different ways.

If we consider that a gene may be 1,000 base pairs long, than the possible number of combinations is 4^1000, which is an immense number.

If we assume that there are 100,000 genes in a human, than the number of possible sequences is about 4^100,000,000. When we consider all life on Earth, then the possible number of combinations may be 100 million times larger than this number, and is quite likely to be immensely larger than 100 million.

As large as these numbers are, it is highly unlikely that any recognized gene sequences from any living things could form on Earth in the lifetime of the Universe.

So, we should resort to God, right?

Well . . . not quite.

The unspoken assumption in this chain of reasoning is that only one set of genes supports life, and there is no reason to assume this.

It’s that one set of genes leads to one kind of life, and another set of genes supports a different kind of life, and so on.

We think we’re special–in this instance–because of the anthropic principle.

Our existence didn’t come about because we won some kind of lottery with near impossible odds.

Added Later: I forgot to mention that the basic ideas in this post are not original with me. Isaac Asimov discussed these points in a brilliant essay called “The Judo Argument,” which he wrote in the mid-1970s. He called “scientific arguments” crafted to prove God’s existence “judo arguments,” because judo is the art of using an opponent’s strength against himself.


Indeed, what you’ve presented here is what I refer to as the “One True Sequence” fallacy, which those who don’t understand biology peddle whenever they want to inject a mythological magic man into the picture.

Except that this notion is roundly falsified by the data.

Even a gene as critical to life as the insulin gene, exists in hundreds, if not thousands of variations, all of which generate working insulin molecules. A fact I demonstrated elsewhere in a post specifically devoted to this topic, which I might bring here to back your post up once breakfast is done :slight_smile:


The “One True Sequence” Fallacy

(Abridged from the original, which was posted on the now defunct Richard Dawkins Forums)

A number of fallacies are in circulation amongs the enthusiasts for reality denial, and one that I wish to highlight here is known in scientific circles as “The Error of the One True Sequence”. This fallacy asserts that one, and ONLY one, DNA sequence can code for a protein that performs a specific task. This is usually erected alongside assorted bogus “probability” calculations that purport to demonstrate that evolutionary processes cannot achieve what they plainly do achieve in the real world, but those other probability fallacies will be the subject of other posts. Here I want to destroy the myth that one, and ONLY one, sequence can ever work in a given situation.

Insulin provides an excellent example for my purposes, because insulin is critical to the health and well being of just about every vertebrate organism on the planet. When a vertebrate organism is unable to produce insulin, the well-known condition of diabetes mellitus, then the ability to regulate blood sugar is seriously disrupted, and in the case of Type 1 diabetes mellitus, in which the beta-cells of the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas are destroyed by an autoimmune reaction, the result is likely to be fatal in the medium to long term due to diabetic nephropathy resulting in renal failure.

Consequently, the insulin molecule is critical to healthy functioning of vertebrate animals. The gene that codes for insulin is well known, and has been mapped in a multiplicity of organisms, including organisms whose entire genomes have been sequenced, ranging from the pufferfish Tetraodon nigroviridis through to Homo sapiens. There is demonstrable variability in insulin molecules (and the genes coding for them) across the entire panoply of vertebrate taxa. Bovine insulin, for example, is not identical to human insulin. I refer everyone to the following gene sequences, all of which have been obtained from publicly searchable online gene databases:

[1] Human insulin gene on Chromosome 11, which is as follows:

atg gcc ctg tgg atg cgc ctc ctg ccc ctg ctg gcg ctg ctg gcc ctc tgg gga cct gac
cca gcc gca gcc ttt gtg aac caa cac ctg tgc ggc tca cac ctg gtg gaa gct ctc tac
cta gtg tgc ggg gaa cga ggc ttc ttc tac aca ccc aag acc cgc cgg gag gca gag gac
ctg cag gtg ggg cag gtg gag ctg ggc ggg ggc cct ggt gca ggc agc ctg cag ccc ttg
gcc ctg gag ggg tcc ctg cag aag cgt ggc att gtg gaa caa tgc tgt acc agc atc tgc
tcc ctc tac cag ctg gag aac tac tgc aac tag

which codes for the following protein sequence (using the standard single letter mnemonics for individual amino acids:


Now, I refer everyone to this data, which is the coding sequence for insulin in the Lowland Gorilla (differences are highlighted in boldface):

atg gcc ctg tgg atg cgc ctc ctg ccc ctg ctg gcg ctg ctg gcc ctc tgg gga cct gac
cca gcc gcg gcc ttt gtg aac caa cac ctg tgc ggc tcc cac ctg gtg gaa gct ctc tac
cta gtg tgc ggg gaa cga ggc ttc ttc tac aca ccc aag acc cgc cgg gag gca gag gac
ctg cag gtg ggg cag gtg gag ctg ggc ggg ggc cct ggt gca ggc agc ctg cag ccc ttg
gcc ctg gag ggg tcc ctg cag aag cgt ggc atc gtg gaa cag tgc tgt acc agc atc tgc
tcc ctc tac cag ctg gag aac tac tgc aac tag

this codes for the protein sequence:


which so happens to be the same precursor protein. However, Gorillas are closely related to humans. Let’s move a little further away, to the domestic cow, Bos taurus (whose sequence is found here):

atg gcc ctg tgg aca cgc ctg cgg ccc ctg ctg gcc ctg ctg gcg ctc tgg ccc ccc ccc
ccg gcc cgc gcc ttc gtc aac cag cat ctg tgt ggc tcc cac ctg gtg gag gcg ctg tac
ctg gtg tgc gga gag cgc ggc ttc ttc tac acg ccc aag gcc cgc cgg gag gtg gag ggc
ccg cag gtg ggg gcg ctg gag ctg gcc gga ggc ccg ggc gcg ggc ggc ctg gag ggg ccc
ccg cag aag cgt ggc atc gtg gag cag tgc tgt gcc agc gtc tgc tcg ctc tac cag ctg
gag aac tac tgt aac tag

Already this is a smaller sequence - 318 codons instead of 333 - so we KNOW we’re going to get a different insulin molecule with this species … which is as follows:


clearly a different protein, but one which still functions as an insulin precursor and results in a mature insulin molecule in cows, one which differs in exact sequence from that in humans. Indeed, prior to the advent of transgenic bacteria, into which human insulin genes had been transplanted for the purpose of harnessing those bacteria to produce human insulin for medical use, bovine insulin harvested from the pancreases of slaughtered beef cows was used to treat diabetes mellitus in humans. Now, of course, with the advent of transgenically manufactured true human insulin, from a sterile source, bovine insulin is no longer needed, much to the relief of those who are aware of the risk from BSE.

Moving on again, we have a different coding sequence from the tropical Zebrafish, Danio rerio, (sequence to be found here) which is as follows:

atg gca gtg tgg ctt cag gct ggt gct ctg ttg gtc ctg ttg gtc gtg tcc agt gta agc
act aac cca ggc aca ccg cag cac ctg tgt gga tct cat ctg gtc gat gcc ctt tat ctg
gtc tgt ggc cca aca ggc ttc ttc tac aac ccc aag aga gac gtt gag ccc ctt ctg ggt
ttc ctt cct cct aaa tct gcc cag gaa act gag gtg gct gac ttt gca ttt aaa gat cat
gcc gag ctg ata agg aag aga ggc att gta gag cag tgc tgc cac aaa ccc tgc agc atc
ttt gag ctg cag aac tac tgt aac tga

And this sequence codes for the following protein:


so again we have a different insulin precursor protein that is ultimately converted into a different insulin molecule within the Zebra Fish.

I could go on and extract more sequences, but I think the point has already been established, namely that there are a multiplicity of possible insulin molecules in existence, and consequently, the idea that there can only be ONE sequence for a functional protein, even one as critically important to life as insulin, is DEAD FLAT WRONG. Now, if this is true for a protein as crucial to the functioning of vertebrate life as insulin, you can be sure that the same applies to other proteins, including various enzymes, and therefore, whenever the “One True Sequence” fallacy rears its ugly head in various places, the above provides the refutation thereof.


Thank you for the clarification.

I see the “one true sequence” fallacy as being very similar to the “irreducable complexity” fallacy that is always bandied about by the creationists and Bibical literalists.

I have lately become very uncomfortable with the political atmosphere of my country, as I see the overturn of Roe vs. Wade as a warning shot that will lead to a roll-back of LGBTQ civil rights, a blurring of the boundary between church and state, and–ultimately–an attack on science education in schools. We have already started in that direction with the “don’t say gay” laws in school, and new laws that prohibit critical race theory.

I see a day in the near future where religious education replaces evolution, and the grey, dismal, totalitarian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Orwell’s “1984” will become a reality.

Sometimes–when I watch the news–I struggle not to vomit.

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Heh, you want to see the butthurt arising from the mythology fanboys, when I tell them that the proper concept of “irreducible complexity” was invented by the evolutionary biologist Hermann Joseph Müller in 1918, and presented as a natural outcome of evolutionary processes.

The IDiots blow an artery when I drop that one on them.


I might have to disagree with you, if only to compare the irreducable complexity argument to the watchmaker on the heath argument proposed by Paley in the 1800s . . . and implied much earlier by Isaac Newton.

But perhaps I’m wrong. I tend to treat the watchmaker argument and the irruducable complexity argument as being interchangable, as they seem to make the same point in different ways.

Actually, they’re not, they purport to address different concepts.

Paley’s watchmaker apologetics purports to present human design as allegedly supporting the idea that a supernatural magic entity poofed the universe into existence, which fails on several grounds that I’ve already covered. The version of “irreducible complexity” peddled by Behe purports to be evidence that evolution could not have produced certain features, which is patently false.

“Irreducible complexity” wasn’t even defined by Behe in the first place, he just found a nice soundbite to describe the phenomenon, as part of the process of propagandising for a supernaturalist doctrine. The evolutionary biologist Hermann Joseph Müller alighted upon the concept sixty years before Behe was born, and his deliberations on this phenomenon were published in a scientific paper in 1918. I’ve cited this paper repeatedly elsewhere whenever this topic as arisen, but, for your benefit, I’ll spare you the horrors of the forum’s non-functioning search facility and provide not only the citation, but the relevant quote. The paper in question is:

Genetic Variability, Twin Hybrids and Constant hybrids in a Case of Balanced Lethal Factors by Hermann Joseph Müller, Genetics, 3(5): 422-499 (1918) [Original paper downloadable in full from here]

I shall quote directly from that paper for your convenience, highlighting the relevant parts in blue (bottom of page 464 to top of page 465 in original paper):

In other words, “irreducible complexity” was arrived at by Müller before Behe was born and was posited by Müller not as a problem for evolution, but as a natural outcome of evolutionary processes. The so-called “Müllerian Two Step” is summarised succinctly as follows:

[1] Add a component;

[2] Make it necessary.

This was placed upon a rigorous footing by Müller himself, along with others such as Fisher, by the 1930s, and so Behe didn’t even find a gap for his purported god to fit into. Biologists have known that Behe’s “irreducible complexity” nonsense has been precisely that - nonsense - for a minimum of six decades. Indeed, the community of evolutionary biologists have a term to describe the Müllerian Two Step in more formal language, namely ‘bricolage’, which is defined as the temporary appearance of supporting structures, followed by the disappearance thereof when they are no longer needed. I have 15 papers on the bacterial flagellum alone (which Behe erected as his “poster child” for his canard) that drive a tank battalion through his assertions.

In short, biologists knew Behe was wrong six decades before he was born.

The most hilarious moment of Behe’s undoing came, of course, at the Dover Trial, where he asserted pompously that not only did evolutionary biology have an explanation for the vertebrate blood clotting cascade, but that it never would. At which point the cross-examining counsel produced fifty-eight peer reviewed scientific papers, and nine university textbooks, containing the solution evolutionary biologists alighted upon, that Behe arrogantly asserted they would never find.

Indeed, it’s illustrative to look at Behe’s cross-examination in detail. Let’s turn to the Dover Trial transcripts, which can be downloaded in full from here, and check Michael Behe’s evidence, you can see him being systematically dismantled over his canards. In particular, referring to:

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 10 AM Session

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 10 PM Session

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 11 AM Session

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 11 PM Session

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 12 AM Session

Behe Evidence In Chief Day 12 PM Session

Notice that in the following, I provide precise page and line numbers, so that the instances of Behe being completely owned by the cross examining counsel can be located with ease.

Good places to look are:

Day 11, PM session, where Behe is forced to admit under cross examination that his attempt to widen the definition of “science” to admit “intelligent design” would also result in astrology being admitted as a “scientific” discipline. Scroll down the PDF document to Page 36, Line 18 - all pages and lines are conveniently numbered - and read on to Page 39, Line 19 … take note where he says that “incorrect theories are nonetheless theories” at the end … then continue reading to Page 41, line 17, where the cross-examining lawyer quips that he didn’t taken Behe’s deposition in the 16th century :lol:

Day 12, AM session, where Behe is taken apart slowly over flagella and blood clotting. Scroll to Page 101, Line 7, read on, and see Behe admitting that no one in the ID movement ever bothered to put the “irreducible complexity” of the bacterial flagellum to empirical test. He was also forced to accept that 3½ billion years was ample time for the bacterial flagellum to evolve by natural processes at Page 108, Line 23, followed by being forced to admit that the “test” he proposed for invalidating “irreducible complexity” in the case of the bacterial flagellum was as unreasonable as asking a scientist to grow a bird wing in a petri dish. Likewise, Behe is also forced to admit that any demonstration that the flagellum could arise by natural processes would be “a real feather in the cap of people who think Darwinian theory is correct” at Page 112 Lines 13-15. Additionally, Page 112 Line 16 moves on to the blood clotting cascade, and the fact that various Puffer Fishes manage to do without some of the “irreducibly complex” components of Behe’s description of the cascade - Page 120, Line 16.

Day 12, PM session, in which the cross examination of Behe continues with respect to the blood clotting cascade, and on Page 6, Lines 5-7, Behe himself says that the Type 3 Secretory System might not be “irreducibly complex” (oh dear, because Nick Matzke later found homologies between the T3SS and - you guessed it - the bacterial flagellum). Behe is then introduced to a particularly awkward question by the cross examiner at Page 8 Line 24 that is well worth savouring. Then, on Page 10, comes the crunch about the immune system, where Behe’s statement “the scientific community has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system” from his book Darwin’s Black Box is presented in open session in the court, and from the start of Page 11, the cross examiner begins listing the papers and textbooks that contain precisely the “answers” that Behe claimed didn’t exist … and also demonstrates that Behe, like so many IDiots before, has his knickers in a twist over the meaning of natural selection. On Page 16, line 17, we have the part where Behe claims that the peer reviewed literature on the molecular evolution of the immune system “isn’t good enough”, whereupon at Page 17, Line 6, the cross examiner reveals that he has fifty eight peer reviewed papers covering the subject, the earliest of which was written in 1971, with the list including new papers that were being prepared for publication at the time of the trial … then we reach Page 20, where college textbooks on the evolution of the immune system are presented, which Behe is forced to admit he hasn’t read, doesn’t know the contents of, but he still persists in trying to claim that these texts and these papers aren’t good enough because they don’t show the entire evolutionary process right down to the atomic level or some such nonsense. Then Behe is hoist upon his own petard on Page 25, Line 23 onwards, when his statement from his book that “if the natural mechanism is to be accepted, then its proponents must publish or perish” is displayed before the court … read on from this point for some pure comedy gold.

In short, when Behe was forced to defend his assertions about “irreducible complexity”, they were found to be worthless.

However, the whole “design” apologetics is a masterwork of duplicity and ignorance combined, even if we ignore the additional evidence for this supplied by the IDists themselves. “Magic man did it” isn’t a parsimonious explanation because [1] it isn’t an explanation, it’s a blind assertion, and one that constitutes the elevation of ignorance to a metaphysic, and [2] anyone who thinks that introducing the sort of supernatural entity beloved of design assertionists is “parsimonious”, really needs to look up what the word means. Especially when one factors into this, that the central assertion erected by IDists I mentioned above, is that complex entities purportedly cannot arise from simpler beginnings (despite the large body of scientific evidence refuting this assertion, but I’ll leave that to one side for a moment). If that assertion, which constitutes a central part of IDist attacks upon evolution, bore any connection to reality, then that assertion would alone destroy any idea that IDist assertions about “design” are parsimonious by definition. Because, that assertion would require their “designer” to be the most stupendously complex entity in existence. I’ve already covered the merely arbitrary nature of their assertion that the resulting infinite regress somehow doesn’t exist, and is purportedly brought to a finite halt by their merely asserted magic man above.

But of course, this isn’t the only problem that IDists have with their assertions. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that IDists only have assertions on their side, assertions that enjoy precisely zero evidential support from the real world (“it looks designed to me, therefore it is” doesn’t constitute evidential support in rigorous science), other problems arise with respect to those assertions.

Now of course, I’ve already covered in depth the duplicity of “design” apologetics, so I need not reprise that lengthy dissertation here. But the above should be sufficient to see just what sort of mess “intelligent design” is in with respect to proper, rigorously conceived concepts.

There is, of course, much more to be said on this subject, but the above should suffice for now.


Try rolling some dice, if it doesn’t produce patterns at some point I’d be frankly stunned. You are using the false assumption that complexity donates design, and the rest seems to be an argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy. Try this:

It is a fact that organic life and DNA exist, it is a fact that natural processes exist, adding unevidenced deities using inexplicable magic simply violates Occam’s razor.

Incidentally even were we to accept the unevidenced assumption that complexity required design it gets us no closer to any deity being evidenced, that’s pure assumption. Also most theists claim this deity created humans as the main show, but we know for an objective fact that we are one species of evolved apes, and we are the youngest in evolutionary terms, a mere 200k years ago the first humans evolved. So this fact simply doesn’t support the notion we are any more significant to a creator than any other living thing. So even were we to accept your unevidenced assumptions here, it wouldn’t evidence mainstream theistic belief.

FYI when scientists say the language of DNA, they are using language as an imperfect analogy it’s a metaphor, they do not mean it is literally a language, language is a human creation.

Good article on the problems of using language as a metaphor to describe DNA HERE.

“If the DNA of an organism is like a book or manual, some organisms have concise editors. One puffer fish has a genome just 340 million nucleotide letters. Yet swimming next to it is the marbled lungfish with a genome almost 400 times as long. If you thought humans, all smart and sophisticated, would have a longer sequence of DNA than a marbled lungfish, you’d be quite wrong. At roughly 3 billion base pairs, humans have only a medium-length novel—hardly the mighty tome of the marbled lungfish. The Japanese flower Paris japonica, diminutive in its small white star-like petals, is even more long-winded than the lungfish. If you read its 150 billion base pair-long genome one DNA base pair per second, you’d be reading its genome for almost 5,000 years. So much to say in one little flower—fifty times the length of your typical human manual! Do we underestimate the complexity of this flower? Or is DNA and the genome in which it resides not exactly a manual but something else?”

So much for us being the main show…if you’re going to study genetics that’s laudable, but you seem to be simply using it inaccurately to parrot an agenda.

If a deity exists then demonstrate some objective evidence for one, or even that a deity is possible? Until then you’re placing your wheezy clapped out old pony behind your cart, and resorting to god of the gaps polemic.


I agree. We, however, extrapolate information from it and the results of its interactions/reactions.

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For what it is worth, you don’t even need a pattern to have information. The wind blowing one rock into another leaving a scratch is information (you don’t even need the scratch, but a scratch is nice because you can see it with the naked eye).
So the result of the first die roll is already some information.

ETA: I can hear myself asking: how much information is contained in the roll of a die (with 6 equal likely “sides”)? It is log base 2 of 6, or about 2.6 bits of information.


Well this is a bare faced lie.

First of all, you seem to be unaware that ALL physical systems are sources of information. Namely, the data informing us of the state of the system. It seems I’m going to have to reprise this again for your benefit and education:

The infamous canards surrounding “information”.

Now this is a particularly insidious brand of canard, because it relies upon the fact that the topic of information, and its rigorous analysis, is replete with misunderstanding. However, instead of seeking to clarify the misconceptions, creationist canards about information perpetuate those misconceptions for duplicitous apologetic purposes. A classic one being the misuse of the extant rigorous treatments of information, and the misapplication of different information treatments to different situations, either through ignorance, or wilful mendacity. For example, Claude Shannon provided a rigorous treatment of information, but a treatment that was strictly applicable to information transmission, and NOT applicable to information storage. Therefore, application of Shannon information to information storage in the genome is a misuse of Shannon’s work. The correct information analysis to apply to storage is Kolmogorov’s analysis, which erects an entirely different measure of information content that is intended strictly to be applicable to storage. Mixing and matching the two is a familiar bait-and-switch operation that propagandists for creationist doctrine are fond of.

However, the ultimate reason why creationist canards about information are canards, is simply this. Information is NOT a magic entity. It doesn’t require magic to produce it. Ultimately, “information” is nothing more than the observational data that is extant about the current state of a system. That is IT. No magic needed. All that happens, in real world physical systems, is that different system states lead to different outcomes when the interactions within the system take place. Turing alighted upon this notion when he wrote his landmark paper on computable numbers, and used the resulting theory to establish that Hilbert’s conjecture upon decidability in formal axiomatic systems was false. Of course, it’s far easier to visualise the process at work, when one has an entity such as a Turing machine to analyse this - a Turing machine has precise, well-defined states, and precise, well-defined interactions that take place when the machine occupies a given state. But this is precisely what we have with DNA - a system that can exist in a number of well-defined states, whose states determine the nature of the interactions that occur during translation, and which result in different outcomes for different states. indeed, the DNA molecule plays a passive role in this: its function is simply to store the sequence of states that will result, ultimately, in the synthesis of a given protein, and is akin to the tape running through a Turing machine. The real hard work is actually performed by the ribosomes, which take that state data and use it to bolt together amino acids into chains to form proteins, which can be thought of as individual biological ‘Turing machines’ whose job is to perform, mechanically and mindlessly in accordance with the electrostatic and chemical interactions permitting this, the construction of a protein using the information arising from DNA as the template. Anyone who thinks magic is needed in all of this, once again, is in need of an education.

As for the canard that “mutations cannot produce new information”, this is manifestly false. Not only does the above analysis explicitly permit this, the production of new information (in the form of new states occupied by DNA molecules) has been observed taking place in the real world and documented in the relevant scientific literature. If you can’t be bothered reading any of this voluminous array of scientific papers, and understanding the contents thereof, before erecting this particularly moronic canard, then don’t bother erecting the canard in the first place, because it will simply demonstrate that you are scientifically ignorant. Indeed, the extant literature not only covers scientific papers explicitly dealing with information content in the genome, such as Thomas D. Schneider’s paper handily entitled Evolution And Biological Information to make your life that bit easier, but also papers on de novo gene origination, of which there are a good number, several of which I have presented here in the past in previous threads. The mere existence of these scientific papers, and the data that they document, blows tiresome canards about “information” out of the water with a nuclear depth charge. Post information canards at your peril after reading this.

Whilst dwelling on information, another creationist canard also needs to be dealt with here, namely the false conflation of information with ascribed meaning. Which can be demonstrated to be entirely false by reference to the following sequence of hexadecimal bytes in a computer’s memory:

81 16 00 2A FF 00

To a computer with an 8086 processor, those bytes correspond to the following single machine language instruction:

ADC [2A00H], 00FFH

To a computer with a 6502 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

ASL ($00,X)

To a computer with a 6809 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

CMPA #$16
NEG ??

the ?? denoting the fact that for this processor, the byte sequence is incomplete, and two more bytes are needed to supply the address operand for the NEG instruction.

Now, we have three different ascribed meanings to one stream of bytes. Yet, none of these ascribed meanings influences either the Shannon information content, when that stream is transmitted from one computer to another, or the Kolmogorov information content when those bytes are stored in memory. Ascribed meaning is irrelevant to both rigorous information measures. As is to be expected, when one regards information content simply as observational data about the state of the system (in this case, the values of the stored bytes in memory). Indeed, it is entirely possible to regard ascribed meaning as nothing other than the particular interactions driven by the underlying data, once that data is being processed, which of course will differ from processor to processor. Which means that under such an analysis, even ascribed meaning, which creationists fallaciously conflate with information content, also requires no magical input. All that is required is the existence of a set of interactions that will produce different outcomes from the different observed states of the system (with the term ‘observation’ being used here sensu lato to mean any interaction that is capable of differentiating between the states of the system of interest).

Oh, and chemicals don’t need to be “told” what to do, they simply react with each other when the energetic conditions for said reactions are favourable. Once again, there’s no “intelligence” or “sentience” involved.

Oh, and you also need to be reminded that computers are made possible by chemistry. Specifically, the chemistry of semiconductor materials such as silicon or gallium arsenide.

Quite simply, the moment a chemical reaction takes place, the transition from reactants to products generates new information by definition.


Thank you! I’ve been lurking here wanting to chime in with something to help define information, but I have such a primitive layman’s understanding of it that I kept my mouth shut.

Please correct my ignorance, but I’m thinking that basically anything “real” is information. All that we consider having a state of being, as well as any [actual] actions or affects on anything we think of as real, is information. Ironically, we can use the concept of information to theorize about things we can’t detect, such as what happens around a black hole–but that theorizing itself is not information.

When I say “real” I don’t include consciousness or any internalized thought–no figuring out, quantifying, surmising, formulizing, or writing down of anything qualifies as what I would think is “real”. Actions resulting from these may perpetuate information, but I don’t know of any reason we have to believe that thought itself is real outside chemical/electrical processes.

Sorry to go on about it, but I find this irresistibly intriguing. Not trying to hijack this thread, just genuinely thought that an understanding of the term information is important, here.

And please let me know if I’m just dead wrong.

Edit: Grammar.

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No. Information is the substance reality is based on. It is a fundamental thing - I have no idea what to call it, aside from information,

You get to the smallest possible divisions of an atom. I don’t even recall what they are. They spin left of right. The assertion is that there is information causing them to spin this way or that. (This is my understanding of what I have read.)

Information is the substance of reality. This is all a part of the computer model or holographic model of the universe. I am not saying I am right. This is what I have put together from the articles I have read.

I personally do not know how there is information without a mind. Asserting information is fundamental, seems no different to me than the assertion, 'God is fundamental." It’s simply an information of the gaps argument and no different than the God of the gaps. (Not saying I am right - Perhaps Cali will chime in and say a word or two, If anyone understands this it might be him.)

Could someone who actually knows something please answer?

LOL… LOVE IT … Your in the wrong Time Zone for responses. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon here. Is Information the Foundation of All Reality? - Seth Lloyd - Closer to Truth

You can find the same stuff nearly anywhere on the web.

Ummmm… (timidly raising hand)… I might know something. Not sure how it might help, but it is never a good idea to use sandpaper to wipe your ass. (Or, uh, so I’ve been told. Just some information I got from a reliable source.)

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Information is about distinctions. It is often measured in the number of bits (computer bits) required to send a message. In the example I gave there are 6 possible outcomes (rolling a die with 6 sides). By definition is takes about 2.6 bit to send the result of a die roll. However, in the real world, we’ll need to round up to 3; three bits is enough to encode eight states/messages. An example scheme might look like:
001 = state 1
010 = state 2
011 = state 3
100 = state 4
101 = state 5
110 = state 6
000 and 111 not being used. (but could be used for 7 and 8 if the die had that many sides).

Just hand-waving off the top of my head.

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Just because we perceive information, it doesn’t in any objective way suggest a sentient being had to impart it, this is the same old god of the gaps polemic at it’s core, the debunked creationist claim that any complexity must imply a designer. The claim it is a deity is pure assumption, and that happens to match the religion they were born and indoctrinated into even more so.

We have evolved brains capable of learning and retaining large amounts of information, our imagination is clearly a survival tool, as it provides huge problem solving abilities. Evolution explains this very elegantly, as does natural selection. We don’t need appeals to mystery, or to add inexplicable magic from unevidenced deities. Occam’s razor applies here.

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