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Bill Dembski on what John Archibald Wheeler got right and wrong about “it from bit”


In a chapter in a forthcoming book, Mind and Matter: Modern Dualism, Idealism and the Empirical Sciences (Discovery Institute Press), design theorist William Dembski explores the strengths and weaknesses of John Archibald Wheeler’s perspective that the universe is, at bottom, information:

Dembski takes issue with Wheeler’s approach: “It’s one thing to say that measurement requires information. It’s another thing to say that the thing being measured is created by the observer doing the measuring. That seems a bit much, and the ontological status of these observers raises thornier questions than it resolves.” P1 Indeed. In such a world, how did the observers who take these measurements come to exist? Also, to what extent is the view that reality is bits an artifact of how we measure it? … Dembski wants to establish more firmly than Wheeler could that nature is indeed, at bottom, informational. He goes on to introduce and defend informational realism.

News, “It from bit: What did John Archibald Wheeler get right—and wrong?” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Dembski agrees that the universe is, at bottom, information but proposes “informational realism” as a sounder approach to unpacking the idea. More later.

You may also wish to read: Spooky action at a distance makes sense in the quantum world. Einstein never liked quantum mechanics but each transistor in your cell phone is a quantum device.

Dembski quoted Wheeler, “The more I have pondered the mystery of the quantum and our strange ability to comprehend this world in which we live, the more I see possible fundamental roles for logic and information as the bedrock of physical theory.” I would certainly like to see Dr. Dembski flesh that out more fully. It, i.e. "logic and information as the bedrock of physical theory", is certainly compatible with Christianity. As Anton Zeilinger stated,
Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe? Excerpt: “In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: "In the beginning was the Word." Anton Zeilinger - a leading expert in quantum mechanics http://www.metanexus.net/archive/ultimate_reality/zeilinger.pdf 49:28 mark: "This is now my personal opinion OK. Because we cannot operationally separate the two. Whenever we talk about reality, we think about reality, we are really handling information. The two are not separable. So maybe now, this is speculative here, maybe the two are the same? Or maybe information constitutive to the universe. This reminds me of the beginning the bible of St. John which starts with “In the Beginning was the Word”.,,, Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT - video https://youtu.be/s3ZPWW5NOrw?t=2969
Of note, if anyone is qualified to claim that the bedrock of physical reality is information, Anton Zeilinger certainly is. He has been at the forefront of many experimental breakthroughs in Quantum Mechanics
Zeilinger's principle Zeilinger's principle states that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics. Some have reasoned that this principle, in certain ways, links thermodynamics with information theory. [1] http://www.eoht.info/page/Zeilinger%27s+principle In the beginning was the bit - New Scientist Excerpt: Zeilinger's principle leads to the intrinsic randomness found in the quantum world. Consider the spin of an electron. Say it is measured along a vertical axis (call it the z axis) and found to be pointing up. Because one bit of information has been used to make that statement, no more information can be carried by the electron's spin. Consequently, no information is available to predict the amounts of spin in the two horizontal directions (x and y axes), so they are of necessity entirely random. If you then measure the spin in one of these directions, there is an equal chance of its pointing right or left, forward or back. This fundamental randomness is what we call Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-02/NS-Tmoq-1302101.php Quantum physics just got less complicated - Dec. 19, 2014 Excerpt: Patrick Coles, Jedrzej Kaniewski, and Stephanie Wehner,,, found that 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum 'uncertainty principle' in disguise, reducing two mysteries to one.,,, "The connection between uncertainty and wave-particle duality comes out very naturally when you consider them as questions about what information you can gain about a system. Our result highlights the power of thinking about physics from the perspective of information,",,, http://phys.org/news/2014-12-quantum-physics-complicated.html
Verse and Quotes
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” What is the Logos? Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,, In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.” https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic http://etymonline.com/?term=logic
Dr. Dembski's forthcoming book, "Mind and Matter: "Modern Dualism, Idealism and the Empirical Sciences", should be interesting to read. Although, I could not find it 'pre-listed' on the web anywhere. Do you have a link News? I'm glad you said that you will cover this topic 'more later'. bornagain77
It will be interesting to learn Dr. Dembski's thoughts on the subject. Existence and all reality seems to be founded on some combination of causality, probability, chaos, information, choices, conscious observation, fine-tuned constants, and a a field of some kind where they can interact predictably. This foundation doesn't seem compatible with our pervasive materialistic paradigm. -Q Querius

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