My first post on UD, a mere 6 weeks ago, covered some basic principles about information.
Specifically, I addressed the misunderstandings of those who deny that there is anything special about the information contained in, say, DNA, as opposed to a pile of rocks or Saturn’s rings. We had a very productive discussion, with a number of issues explored. (Incidentally, I used the word “contain” as a shorthand way of expressing what Mung suggested we call “sequences of symbols” that “represent information.” I’m fine with that longer formulation, as we are saying the same thing substantively. Any nuance there isn’t germane to the point of today’s brief post.)
As we were winding up the thread, Mung asked if I had any sources of people who espoused the “information everywhere” view. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept track of all the times I’ve heard this issue, though a number of other commenters on the thread indicated they had been exposed to similar claims from the anti-ID side.
Well, fast forward to today. On vjtorley’s recent thread about RNA, the issue of information content came up.
Evolve claimed to Upright Biped, in part:
Your mud is nothing but a collection of molecules. So is life. Your mud has chemistry, so does life. How did inanimate chemistry (found in mud) transform into biochemistry (found in life) is all that needs to be figured out.
To which I responded, in part:
False. Blatantly, patently, utterly false.
Life is most certainly not “nothing but a collection of molecules.”
Evolve also asserted:
Creationists are likening biochemistry (which is perceived as information in life) to man-made codes like computer software and language. They, as a group, seem incapable of realizing that computer software and human language lack any chemistry whatsoever!
To which I responded:
No-one has to pretend that they perceive information in life. It is there. Objectively so. And things like the genetic code were not made up by creationists. It is called a code because it is one.
As to your last sentence, you are demonstrating that you have virtually no grasp of the issues at hand. The question is not whether chemistry is involved. Everyone knows it is. Everyone (who has any understanding of what they are talking about) also knows that simple “chemistry” on its own explains neither the origin of life nor its ongoing existence. Surely you are not really taking the position that information and coding cannot be placed into biochemical strings because we are dealing with “chemistry”?
After a day passed, I wondered if Evolve would recognize he was going down a bad path and quietly back down.
Unfortunately, unwilling to follow the time-honored advice — “If you find you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging.” — Evolve stepped up with another shovel full this afternoon:
If there’s information in life, then there’s information in dissolving salt in a glass of water! It’s all chemistry, Eric. And chemical reactions happen spontaneously on their own as you witness every second.
One molecule reacts with another molecule under certain conditions to make a product. Done. That’s it.
So there you have it. It’s all just chemistry. One molecule reacts with another and, ta-da!, life as we know it. Nothing to explain here. No information to see. Move along folks.
A live example of utter failure to appreciate what is going on in living systems. A refusal to acknowledge the gaping information chasm that separates any old “collection of molecules” from something like DNA. A claim that if there is information in DNA, then there is also information in “dissolving salt in a glass of water,” because, hey, “it’s all chemistry.”
Mung, you can add this to your reference list.
Evolve, I apologize if this is coming across too harshly. If you are genuinely interested in this issue, please read the prior thread in detail and think through the question of why researchers across the spectrum acknowledge that information is one of the keys to life — something that makes a fundamental difference between a living cell and salt dissolving in water.