It is about understanding the role of information in nature.
He writes: If “conservation of energy” was a really big thing in the 19th century, it was because it made a non-material, yet indestructible thing, explicitly existent. Equally significant was Einstein’s claim in the 20th century that matter could be converted into energy. At this point, Democritus’ atomism that formed the basis of the Enlightenment philosophy of materialism, was finished. In the 21st century, we are now learning that another immaterial thing, which the 19th century disco vered and named “entropy”, had become the 20th century “information.”
Now, in the 21st century, ID or “functional information” (or the much older word “purpose”), is even more fundamental than previously thought. It caused Hawking and Susskind to battle for 10 years over the fate of information falling into black holes. The late John Wheeler said he spent the first 1/3 of his life thinking “everything was particles” (19th century materialism), the second 1/3 of his life thinking “everything was fields” (20th century QM), and the last 1/3 of his life thinking “everything was information” (21st century ID).
Therefore 19th century materialism isn’t just incompatible with ID, but with 21st century science. The 18th century Newtonian expression of materialism, F=ma, can be integrated twice to give x = x0 + v0 t + 1/2 at^2 as a statement of physical determinism, but 20th century QM and Heisenberg said we cannot know x0 and v0 at the same time to high precision. This was widely viewed as the death of materialism, not only because we lose predictive power, but because those are the “real metaphysical” entities to a materialist, so we must be able to know those things. The 20th century QM revolution gave us computers and lasers, but with the metaphysical explanation, “shut up and calculate”. We had no way to combine them.
Einstein spent the last 40 years of his life trying to combine QM and Gravity and failed. Stephen Hawking also reported that he failed to find a theory of QM gravity. But the 21st century is discovering that the solution lies in ID, in design, in information. We haven’t got a QM theory of gravity yet, but we have a series of “standard models” with gobs and gobs of “fine tuning”, of design, of functional information. From the Higgs to the failure of SUSY, to the failure of dark matter WIMPS, to the failure of inflation, of BBN (Li-7 problem) and on up the chain to OOL, we have so much unaccounted-for information it’s embarrassing.
That is what ID is about. It isn’t just “detecting design in nature”, because that’s the easy part. It’s understanding design, understanding information in nature. In the words of classical Reformation theology, it is “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”. It’s really been the operation of science for 500 years, from the Reformation to the present, although for a brief time in the Enlightenment we could pretend these thoughts were disembodied “laws of Nature”, which in a way, helped science avoid the wars of religion and the dogmatic assertions of non-scientific theologians.
But for whatever reason, those pretensions are now more of a hindrance than a help, and ID is taking us back to our roots–looking for purpose, looking for coherence, looking for meaning. Because the fundamental property of information is coherence, anti-entropy, function.
See also: How do dark energy and dark matter relate to ID?
Darwin freakout 2016: ID as threat to education
ID as terrorism? A friend sends this list of freakouts by Darwin’s followers some years ago, about the dangers the ID community poses: Can readers come up with more of this stuff? The Coffee Room here is thinking of starting a Mental Health Fund for Darwin’s followers.
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Information drives the development of life. But what is the source of that information? Could it have been produced by an unguided Darwinian process? Or did it require intelligent design? The Information Enigma is a fascinating 21-minute documentary that probes the mystery of biological information, the challenge it poses to orthodox Darwinian theory, and the reason it points to intelligent design. The video features molecular biologist Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer, author of the books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.