Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

# Is information, not matter, the foundation of life?

Share
Flipboard
Print
Email

Data Basic III: Is Information, Not Matter, the Foundation of Life?

We’ve looked at a few ways in which an informational perspective on the universe differs from a material perspective. For example, information is a relationship between realized and unrealized possibilities. It is created by ruling out possibilities. It increases when we increase its resolution. The first six digits tell us that a phone rings in one small region. A unique ten-digit number reaches our friend’s cell.

Informational relationships are not causal but connective. The phone number does not cause calls; it only connects them. Information, such as the number, is an immaterial reality stored and conveyed in a variety of material media. More.

Data Basic I: Is Information, Not Matter, the Foundation of Life?

Very well, what is information? Generally, we know it by its characteristics. It is fundamentally a relational notion, as Marks’s fellow information theorist Bill Dembski points out. It exists, among other things, as a relationship between realized and unrealized -possibilities.

Information is created by ruling out possibilities. For example, when we say there is a car parked outside, we provide information only if there could, in fact, have been no car parked outside.

Information increases when we increase its resolution. It is as if we were looking through a microscope, seeing more and more detail as the magnification increases. For instance, suppose we say that the car parked outside is a blue Honda Civic. That rules out dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possibilities. More.

Data Basic II: Is Information, Not Matter, the Foundation of Life?

Last time, we asked why information rules. We noted that, for one thing, it cannot be reduced to matter. But there is more to know. It can be transmitted immaterially across media as well. You cannot transmit a brick immaterially anywhere. But you can strip information of all matter and transmit it across material nature.

I could phone and tell you that the Giants won the World Series again, or send you an email or write you a letter offering the same information. Or I could appear on a radio or TV show talking about it.

It’s true that I would be using various material media, which offer a variety of options for conveying the information, but the information itself is not material. Nor does it even depend on me. I am either a reliable or unreliable transmitter, and that is all you need to know.
More.

– O’Leary for News