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Is information, not matter, the foundation of life?

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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.

See also:

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.

– O’Leary for News

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A superlative article, if I may presume to say so, Denyse; and absolutely fascinating. (The one cavil I have is that, where you refer to their 'unsupported, mindless-chance claim', I don't consider an 'unsupported, mindless-chance claim' by people who are 'not quite the round shilling', intellectually, could rise to the level of a 'claim', as such, but rather, at most, a 'conjecture', akin to the postulation that the moon could be made of green cheese. Doubtless, pity fatigue on your part!) 'We can observe this problem with materialist explanations of, say, the origin of consciousness. Because all non-material origins for consciousness are ruled out in advance, the materialist must choose the "next-best candidate" from among a growing flock of theories that mainly arouse pity for the theorist. His only consolation is that he has satisfied the demands of his worldview. The 'next best candidate....' And that, the philosopher's stone! And 'pity' is so much more condignly disparaging in the context than 'rage', which I would probably have used. So that makes up for the 'claim'! But what does that 'information' qua informational residuum tells us about the Multiverse! Not a lot that we didn't already know: they are effectively catatonic. 'From an informational realist point of view, nature could be material or more than material. Or it could consist entirely of relationships (information) and therefore not be material at all. Materialist assumptions come unbidden to us because materialism is an accepted frame of reference. ---- 'We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.' - Bohr 'Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.' - Bohr They ccin run from the almost centurion QM, Denyse, and the great paradigm changers of the last century, but they cain't hide... Axel
Joe's rules say that in order to get a living organism you need matter, energy, information and some elan vital, ie a life essence. Just sayin'... Joe
Information totally depends on consciousness. These words are just matter - and no information - if there is no consciousness to "breath life" into them. Information - like thoughts - cannot exist without consciousness - without a thinker. Box
OA, If the "encoder" and "decoder" are the same person (as in I write a note to myself) what (if anything) does that do to your proposition that both have to exist for information to exist? johnp
Denyse, I know you touched on this in the full article (excellently written, by the way!), but would you agree that there ALWAYS has to be an "encoder" and "decoder" for information to exist? To me, the reality of requiring both of those components, along with the information itself, is amongst the highest evidences for a Designer. OldArmy94

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