Thursday, December 23, 2004

Creating Information

Nick Matzke, over on The Panda's Thumb was relating the other day his experience debating about Intelligent Design on the Michael Medved Show. One of the common arguments made by the ID/Creationist crowd was also brought up by a caller on that show, namely that no new information can be created, except via an intelligence. This is a common argument, but it seems to me to be typical of the ID/Creationist kind of thinking in that it falls apart with any degree of thought.

Supposedly, only an intelligence can create new information, but why should one believe that. Clearly, the information one gets from a book was created by an intelligence, but it was created by the entity which created the book, not by the person reading it. That goes without argument. But information is also available in all sorts of places. Last winter I saw a set of rabbit tracks passing in a straight line across our pasture. Well in a straight line up to a point where the tracks began to crisscross wildly and then reached a point where they simply stopped with no further tracks in the midst of fresh snow. The information that a rabbit had been caught by a hawk was not created by me reading the signs, but by the rabbit and hawk together. Ok, you say, but it was living things leaving the marks. Sure, but I can gather information of the same type about a landslide, or a river overflowing its banks. or a meteor impact. Clearly the information is left by the things acting according to nature, not created by me or by any observable intelligence.

In spite of the insistence of the ID/Creationist crowd, information is indeed created all the time by natural processes.

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