Information Theory, DNA Reveal Nature of God


The following discussion demonstrates what information theory does tell us about the Designer of DNA:

Summary of main points:

  1. The very existence of information cannot be explained by the laws of physics alone, and nothing remotely resembling the code in DNA exists in the non-living world.
  2. The conclusion that DNA is designed is arrived at inductively: Because all codes we know the origin of are designed, DNA is designed. This is the same type of reasoning that leads us to formulate the laws of thermodynamics, for example.
  3. Alternative explanations to God include: Humans traveling backward in time and creating life (but there is no evidence of time travel, and time travel creates unresolvable paradoxes) or aliens creating DNA (which only pushes the problem back further).
  4. If there is a naturalistic explanation, nobody has ever found it. In fact origin of life research has made very little tangible progress in the last 100 years. The atheists in this forum are quite reluctant to acknowledge this though.
  5. My proof of intelligent design can be easily overturned, just by providing one example of a code and encoding/decoding system that does not come from a mind.
  6. All that we currently know about information and codes implies that God is (a) vastly more sophisticated than us, (b) vastly more intelligent than us, (c) vastly more complex than us, (d) conscious, and (e) willful. And as I say in my talk If you can read this I can prove God exists it’s no small coincidence that Genesis 1 says “And God Said…” and that John 1 says “In the beginning was the WORD” – that words and language are the basis of all creative acts, that God Himself is expressed and only understood though WORD.

Why do you think that DNA has to be designed by a ‘conscious’ mind?

Because all codes that we do know the ultimate origin of (like TCP/IP) ultimately derive from a conscious mind.

How do you know the designer is a god? It could be an alien. What designed the designer?

Of course it could be a space alien. But that only pushes the problem backward in time, it still does not explain where the alien came from. I think you acknowledge that when you rightly ask the question, “what designed the designer?” We come right back to the same question.

The 3 rd part (conclusion) of your syllogism is wrong. Even if point 1 and 2 are correct, part 3 is wrong. Suppose an unconscious agent creates DNA which leads to consciousness. Therefore DNA is made by an unconscious agent. Does this seem impossible? Computer programs can write other computer programs. Even a “C” compiler is less complex than some of the programs in compiles.

All programming algorithms are ultimately designed by conscious minds. There are no known exceptions.

You quote Yockey an awful lot. Does he agree with your conclusion of an intelligent designer?

Yockey categorizes the origin of DNA as un-knowable, or perhaps even axiomatic. To accept it as axiomatic, though, is to sidestep the most fundamental question. On this point I disagree with Yockey . Being that he’s a naturalist, though, I do respect him greatly for his honesty.

The problem with Yockey is his model doesn’t answer the question of where the initial information came from.

You’re exactly right – in fact you’ve re-stated my thesis nicely. And this is a question which Yockey never answers. That’s because, as Yockey observes, naturalism fundamentally cannot answer this question.

If DNA requires a designer, how can you not also say that the designer doesn’t need one himself? Infinite regress doesn’t solve the problem.

You are exactly right. Everything we currently know about nature rules out an infinite regress of causes. In absence of a material explanation, the only alternative for the origin of code is an uncaused coder. Which is why a human designer is not a plausible explanation. Thus the only available explanation that remains is an uncaused, conscious, metaphysical designer. (This is also the limit of my syllogism’s ability to identify God.) Those who dislike this option always do, of course, have the option of waiting for a naturalistic cause to be discovered. But one cannot say one has empirical evidence until such evidence is produced.

Please comment on the following quotes from Hubert Yockey , Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005:
p. 176: I have no doubt that if the historic process leading to the origin of life were knowable it would be a process of physics and chemistry. Thus the process of the origin of life is possible but unknowable. p. 181: The fact that there are many things unavailable to human knowledge and reasoning, even in mathematics, does not mean that there must be an Intelligent Designer.

Yockey seems to support a completely naturalistic explanation of the origin of DNA. Did you read this book or are you getting your information from secondary (or worse) sources?

I own the book. Yockey philosophically adheres to a completely naturalistic explanation, but he provides no empirical or theoretical support for one, and in fact says it’s unknowable. Thus he has not ruled out an intelligent designer (nor has anyone else). It still remains the only available explanation.

You’re intellectually dishonest. You’re making Yockey do the heavy lifting of your argument and you didn’t tell us that Yockey has a different conclusion than you until someone explicitly asked you about it. Why didn’t you admit it?

Neither Yockey’s nor my philosophical conclusions, nor Shannon’s or anyone else’s, have any bearing on the essential facts and definitions. Nor do philosophical considerations have any bearing on the utility of information theory and communication theory in the study of biological systems.

There are no higher level languages controlling DNA’s behavior, so with only the brute laws of physics to guide it I believe DNA has purely naturalistic origins.

Re-quoting Yockey : “The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws. The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physico -chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences.”

Paper and ink alone do not explain the source of the stories in today’s newspaper, and the brute laws of physics do not explain the origin of the information in DNA.

Your syllogism assumes in advance that DNA is made by an intelligent agent.

My syllogism does not assume this in advance. The premises are only that 1) there is no naturalistic account for the existence of coded information, and 2) the only thing we have ever observed that does create coded information is a conscious mind.

Perry, you said if I could provide evidence of a code or language that occurs naturally, your proof is toppled. Well DNA, RNA and proteins are all examples of code and language that occur naturally.

This is circular reasoning: “DNA is natural, therefore DNA arose naturally.” Once again we must make a clear distinction between what people casually call “mother nature” and the specific claims of scientific naturalism. And again, the fact that scientific laws describe their operation does not explain their origin.

The only way for a naturalist to win this argument is to disprove the existence of your designer (prove a negative).

Or show an empirical example of a code (as defined by Perlwitz , Burks and Waterman) that does not have a coder. That should be much easier, if naturalism is valid.

Your argument is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.


My theory is easily falsified. All you need is one empirical example of naturally occurring code and naturalism stands.

Since DNA is older than any known conscious entity, a reasonable hypothesis is that it somehow arose naturally.

To some, a reasonable hypothesis. To others, not. But, as you say, in the absence of any empirical evidence, all the naturalist can say is “it somehow arose naturally.”

Why do you say that naturalistic means the phenomenon can be derived from known scientific laws? You can’t derive turbulence from the Navier -Stokes equations of thermodynamics.

If a computer is programmed with the appropriate physical laws and constants and initial conditions, it can model turbulence. Turbulence and other forms of chaos can certainly be produced, given only mechanical laws, boundaries and initial conditions. The same cannot be said of codes. As Yockey observes, codes, as formally defined, are not derivable from scientific laws.

All we can ask of natural processes is that they are compatible with known scientific laws.

That is correct. But just because a process obeys known scientific laws does not mean it’s derivable from said laws. Computer programs, for example.

“Outside of the realm of life” sounds like 18th century vitalism , but chemical processes are not any different “inside the realm of life”.


Again, please be careful not to misquote me. I have explicitly stated that the operation of biological processes is explainable by purely natural processes, but the origin of codes is not.

How is my reasoning circular? DNA is natural and of course it has a natural origin. Everything on earth is natural and arose naturally. DNA is made of essential elements like carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. It’s nothing more than a chemical, and there’s no reason to believe its origin is different than any other chemical.

The idea that DNA is simply a chemical is simply not true, because it contains code. Re-quoting Yockey : “The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.

“The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physico -chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences.”

You cannot rule out the possibility that DNA is an example of a naturally occurring code. Since you can’t rule this out, you have not demonstrated that DNA came from a mind.
All of us have created codes, and we are all at least somewhat familiar with the mental process of doing so. Those who develop electronic communication protocols (an industry I worked in for 8 years) are intimately familiar with this process – the engineering tradeoffs, the encoding / decoding process, the error correction schemes, etc etc .

I have been quite emphatic from the beginning that all the naturalist has to do is show one example of a code that does not come from a mind and my syllogism fails.

If the implications of this weren’t plainly obvious to everyone, we wouldn’t see half of this forum arguing (against all the biology papers and textbook definitions), that DNA is not a code. And we wouldn’t see the other half of the forum claiming that gravity is a code.

We do know that DNA predates humans. So with no evidence of any other conscious mind, the parsimonious hypothesis says that DNA has a purely natural origin.

A naturalistic hypothesis may be parsimonious, and as I’ve said before, you can always hold out for one. But the hypothesis has zero proof to support it.

Another theory would be that a future human traveled backward in time to create DNA. I see the same amount of evidence for that hypothesis as I see for yours, Perry.

You’ve neglected to mention the fact that according to all present scientific knowledge, time travel is not possible.

Perry, your hypothesis invokes a complicated designer whose origin is not known. Such a designer would appear to be more complex than either humans or DNA. And how do you propose that your designer was created? An infinite regress of designers?

I have already addressed this question – re-quoting an earlier post: Everything we currently know about nature rules out an infinite regress of causes. In absence of a material explanation, the only alternative for the origin of code is an uncaused coder. Which is why a human designer (re: HRG’s question earlier) is not a plausible explanation. Thus the only available explanation that remains is an uncaused, conscious, metaphysical designer. (This is also the limit of my syllogism’s ability to identify God.) Those who dislike this option always do, of course, have the option of waiting for a naturalistic cause to be discovered. But one cannot say one has empirical evidence until such evidence is produced.

We do not assert that we know DNA arose naturally;

If you make no assertion that DNA arose naturally, then you are off the hook! Others in this forum make precisely that assertion. All I ask for is some proof.

It’s just that we have no evidence that it did not arise naturally.

100% of our experience tells us that naturalistic causes do not produce codes. The evidence we do have is that, without exception, all codes come from a mind.

All of your examples begin with a code that has already been designed by a conscious mind. Note that if you posit that genetic algorithms simulate evolution of DNA in any way, you are also implicitly acknowledging that DNA is a code.

You claim that all codes come from a mind is without proof. What evidence do you have? Please provide evidence, not theories.

All of us have evidence that every single code that we know the origin of comes from a mind. You have not provided any evidence of a code that comes from a naturalistic source.

On logical grounds you have not provided a valid proof. It’s just like saying, prior to the discovery of Australia , “all the swans we’ve discovered so far are white, therefore all swans are white.”

To carry your swan analogy forward, I have asked you to provide an example of a non-white swan (naturalistic source of codes), but in your case no example has been provided. Perhaps you have an example of a code that did not come from a mind – if so, present your evidence.

The reasoning I have used here is exactly the same reasoning we use to establish the laws of conservation of matter and energy – we observe, 100% of the time, that matter/energy cannot be created.

The same is true of information, but with a notable exception: Minds do create information. Natural processes don’t.

Only human beings make codes, nobody else. We haven’t seen mice or even chimps create codes.

Minor point, but animals clearly have some measure of intelligence as well. I asked an owner of a dog shelter a few weeks ago about this, and she said that when you put 7 dogs of different breeds in a kennel together, they do work out a new communication protocol over a period of several days.

Bees tell other bees where food and water is. Beavers cooperate to create a dam or a lodge. Are these examples of codes from a conscious mind? Maybe they are, but to imagine god as an insect or beaver might unsettle some people.

By the same token, seeing that we’re decades if not centuries from fully understanding DNA and the operation of even a single cell, the mind that created DNA would seem to be considerably more knowledgeable and resourceful than a human mind, not less.

Naturalism is an essential assumption in science, and since we’re approaching this question from a scientific perspective, naturalism is assumed by default.

Science by definition can only evaluate natural phenomena. Yet the questions science raises show that naturalism describes the operation of, but fails to explain the origin of, information and codes.

Therefore what you call a ‘creator’ is really just a natural cause. Because we already have a naturalistic explanation for DNA.

You do have a naturalistic hypothesis. But you do not have empirical evidence for the origin of DNA. Be careful not to equate naturalistic philosophy with scientific methodology. Also be careful not to equate “explanation” with actual evidence.

You have a problem, specifically that nothing at all is known about your ‘designer’ except that he must posess some extraordinarily complex properties. Your explanation requires infinitely more assumptions, and more powerful assumptions, than the existing naturalistic explanation. “God” is a 3 letter word, but the idea of God is infinitely complicated. Because every power that an omnipotent deity allegedly has requires an assumption and theory of its own.


The supposed complexity or details of God cannot be determined from my syllogism, nor is there any need for my syllogism to make such determinations.

OK, so you have a problem with naturalistic explanations of DNA. Although we don’t necessarily agree with the generality of this statement, let’s say for discussion that no hypothesis so far is any better than the others. But if we’re going to make broad sweeping statements, how about this one: “There is no supernatural process known to science.” If you want to invoke a deity, show one exists. You have not done this.

Recognizing that you are speaking as a naturalist, what you are really asking is “Show me a material immaterial being.” That is a contradiction in terms. What I have successfully done is shown that information is itself immaterial, and that the existence of information itself continues to defy any purely materialistic explanation.

You’re presenting a false dichotomy, a choice between a god and a naturalistic explanation. There are other possible explanations, like extraterrestrial beings.

Extraterrestrial life is certainly a plausible explanation; it’s just useless because it doesn’t answer the question of where that life came from, and an infinite regression of causes is irrational.

and time travel

Show me an empirical example of time travel.

These explanations are at least as plausible as your supernatural deity, and they have exactly the same amount of evidence for support.

The world is replete with examples of conscious minds creating information. But I know of no examples of time travel. Do you?

You’ve selected one attribute (code) to an act of creation, while ignoring other attributes. If your syllogism were accurate, then we could insert other attributes. Let’s try this :
All codes were created on the planet Earth -> DNA created on Earth – Maybe
All codes were created after 10,000 BCE -> DNA created after 10,000 BCE – Not hardly

Where did you get that? Not from me or my website.

All codes were created by humans -> DNA created by humans – obviously false

I’m glad we agree on that ..

You’ve used the term ‘conscious mind’ intentionally, instead of more precise terms, to make your ‘God’ conclusion a smaller leap in logic. You’re not being entirely honest in your argument. Let’s re-state your syllogism more accurately:

1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism. Thus it shares some attributes of a code, although not all attributes.

Definition of a code: Given a source with probability space [Omega, A, p( A)] and a receiver with probability space [Omega, B, p(B)], then a unique mapping of the letters of alphabet A onto letters of alphabet B is called a code.
Here p( A) is the probability vector of the elements of alphabet A and p (B) is the probability vector of the elements of alphabet B. ( Perlwitz , Burks and Waterman, 1988). According to this definition, which is very simple, DNA is a code. Thus your #1 fails.

2) All codes, other than DNA, are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information. Yet there is no known supernatural process known to have created anything whatsoever.

Sparrow, thank you for acknowledging that there is no natural process currently known to science that creates coded information. Since you have established this fact, you cannot rule out a supernatural process, and it remains the only plausible available explanation. Thus your #2 fails.

3) Therefore we don’t yet know the exact origin of DNA.

Again, thank you. I am very tolerant of other viewpoints so long as presuppositions and flaws are openly acknowledged. So long as you qualify your non-belief in God as being equivalent to faith in unseen, untested, unobserved naturalistic processes, I’ll buy you a beer anytime you like.

You take your #3, with lack of evidence acknowledged, and I will take my #3, knowing that all information that we know the origin of is derived from intelligence.

I’ve no need to qualify my belief or non-belief as I’ve not claimed anything to be the result of unseen, untested, unobserved naturalistic processes. If anything at all is the definition of unseen, untested, unobserved it would be god. I have nothing resembling your faith, so you’ll just have to keep that beer, I suppose.

1) The animal behind the curtain is a sheep.
2) All sheep are white; there are no known black sheep.
3) Therefore, the sheep behind the curtain is white.
So you pull the curtain back, and the sheep just so happens to be black. What went wrong? The problem is that premise #2 is false. All sheep are not white. If you base your claim that all sheep are white on the fact that all of the ones your familiar with are white, then you’ve got a bad premise. This is what you are arguing. But it is not possible to form a logical proof based on this. This is why philosophers talk about the problem of induction.

I have acknowledged, both here and on my website, that this is inductive reasoning. Which is why I told Sparrow that he’s welcome to hang on to his non-theism so long as he acknowledges he hasn’t any proof to support his naturalistic presuppositions. And it’s why I keep inviting you to show me an example of a code that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.

Furthermore, if induction is really a problem, then we’ll have to throw out the laws of thermodynamics and many other scientific laws as well.

Without citing Hubert Yockey , can you confirm the existence of anything supernatural? If not, then how do you assert that something supernatural is the only plausible explanation?

A supernatural force is not merely the only plausible available explanation, it’s the only available explanation.

On your website you make a bold claim: “If you can read this I can prove God exists.” You can’t prove that and you ought to know it by now. Not only is your syllogism faulty, you have also failed to connect your conclusion to any common conception of God within a popular religion.

I have proven that the only available origin of the coded information in DNA is intelligence. That is the limit of what this syllogism can say. The implications of intelligence are obvious enough to everyone – that’s why secularists are opposed to Intelligent Design.

Yockey states that the origin of the genetic code is not knowable. He knows a lot more about this topic than you do. And you haven’t explained why he reaches that conclusion when you wave your magic wand and invoke god.

Yockey limits himself to naturalistic explanations, which he is probably wise to do in a textbook like this – it is, after all, a science book, is it not? Science can only make material observations, and as Yockey explains, no material explanation is available. Naturalistically, the origin of the genetic code is unknowable, as he says. If you are content with that explanation, you can remain a naturalist. If you find that explanation unsatisfying, then the metaphysical world is the only available alternative.

Perry, you’ve created the ‘material immaterial being.’ You claim that one exists. So show us your evidence.

My claim is that God is immaterial, not material.

All the available examples of minds creating information are human minds. My proposal of time travel is exactly the same as yours: There’s no evidence for it.

I do not claim to be able to physically show you God. But if time travel (which, if it existed, would be scientifically detectable) is to be taken seriously, then scientific evidence should be expected also.

According to your syllogism, you should be saying that humans created DNA. Since we do not have the technology to create DNA, then time travel would be the next logical choice.

My claim is that intelligence created DNA, and I have been very clear about this from the beginning.

I have established that coded information is a real entity; I have established that coded information is immaterial; I have established that is only known to be a product of intelligence; and I have established that the kind of intelligence (human) that we are familiar with is an insufficient explanation. I have established that an infinite regress of causes is not rational, thus the only available explanation is an uncaused, immaterial intelligence. This is the only parsimonious explanation for the coded information in DNA that is currently available.

If you disagree, show me an example of coded information that does not originate from an intelligent source.

However you define code, you have to show that DNA shares all attributes with the codes you say are created by intelligent minds. If there’s an attribute of DNA that is not shared by all the other examples, that one attribute makes your syllogism useless.

That is incorrect. DNA of course has many marvelous characteristics. I have shown that one of these characteristics (coded information) is in our experience only a product of intelligence. If we were to discuss other characteristics, we would have a longer list of things there is no naturalistic explanation for, not a shorter one .

Science by nature does rule out supernatural causes. You haven’t even shown that a supernatural process is plausible in the first place.

Careful here. Science by its very nature can only study and understand NATURAL processes. Science by its very nature CANNOT rule out supernatural processes. Science alone cannot judge one way or the other. Don’t confuse your own philosophical materialism with the materialistic limitations of science.

I’m quite tolerant of other viewpoints, but less so of inflated, unsupported claims. You are not being completely honest claiming to have ‘Proof of God’ through your lack of understanding of DNA. At best you infer the existence of a creator of DNA from personal incredulity.

When you open a science textbook and it says “matter cannot be created or destroyed” is that incredulity? You can call it incredulity if you wish, but it’s simply an observation that there is no known exceptions . In the exact same sense, and by the exact same process of reasoning, I have observed that nobody in the human race, that I’m aware of, knows an example of coded information that did not come from a mind.

You then equivocate that with your presupposed deity of choice without any evidence at all. Your actions are not intellectually rigorous and not proof in any form. If you want to hang on to this gap as evidence of your god of the gaps, then go ahead, but don’t mischaracterize it as proof.

I’ve clearly stated, from the beginning, and on my website, that all you have to do is show one example of coded information [from my post #28 – I define “Coded information” as a system of symbols used by an encoding and decoding mechanism, which transmits a message that is independent of the communication medium] that does not come from a mind.

Take your pick: either you argue science and submit your hypothesis as a naturalistic one, or admit that it belongs to the sphere of theology/metaphysics (nothing wrong with that, as long as there are no false pretenses).

I have taken science as far as it can go, and I have pointed out (rather tirelessly) that our knowledge of this has nowhere else to go but to the theology / metaphysical sphere. And there is nothing wrong with this, no pretense about it. My biases are clear to everyone. Naturalists will hopefully be equally forthcoming about their biases.

The intelligent designer you propose obviously must possess some extraordinary powers, which are unknown to science.

If, as you observe, it takes extraordinary powers to design DNA, then that fact speaks for itself. And certainly, science knows or detects nothing else that can explain it.

So when you look at the number of bold assumptions required to make your theory a scientific hypothesis, it becomes obvious how impossible your hypothesis is.

Is this a purely scientific hypothesis, or an observation about what science can and cannot determine? If you think it implausible, all you have to do is furnish a plausible, empirical evidence for the origin of DNA and your explanation becomes the more plausible of the two.

You can’t deny natural origin of extraterrestrial life the same way you deny a natural origin of DNA. Why? Because we don’t know anything about extraterrestrial life, just like we don’t know anything about your intelligent designer.

My argument wouldn’t change much, even if there were aliens and we’d seen them and we already knew they put life here – because an explanation of where the aliens comes from would still be necessary.

And all you have to do is furnish empirical evidence of your ‘conscious creator mind’ and your explanation becomes merely plausible. You have no evidence whatsoever for a god, your explanation is like time travel, Martians, Invisible Pink Unicorns and all kinds of other wacky theories. This is a ‘god of the gaps’ argument with an invented gap. You’re just like Intelligent Design proponents who grasp at notions of complexity. You jump from “we don’t know specifically how it happened” to “it couldn’t possibly have happened.”

If you say there is really no gap, then your burden is to fill it.

I have not asked you to provide an example of abiogenesis. I have not further stipulated that such an example must be produced naturally, *without* the help of a controlled, intelligently designed experiment either.

All I’ve asked for is one example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system that processes information in the same manner as DNA. I have cited only reliable, widely accepted literature in my description of DNA and information theory. I’ve even been mocked for reading science textbooks and papers literally. Yet no one has offered an example. Great effort has been expended to assert that gravity and magnetic fields and crystals are encoding / decoding systems, but none of these things conform to the same according to formal definitions from information theory.

You have an a priori philosophical commitment that there is no God, which informs even your rejection of the term “genetic code” as literal and that is your choice. Nevertheless an intelligent designer is the only available explanation for coded information and the origin of life. The implications of that are yours to deal with as you choose.

Even if a supernatural cause was considered an acceptable explanation, it would still be less plausible than what is so far an unknown cause.

We have a very long history of finding natural causes of things that were previously unexplainable. The supernatural cause is sometimes assumed but never demonstrated.

So long as you’re willing to admit that there is no known natural cause for information or DNA, you can maintain that position. What remains is the observation that the only known source of coded information is intelligence.

You are saying DNA proves God’s existence. Therefore you imply God is “shown”.

I am saying that evidence of God is shown, not God himself. Nowhere have I claimed to be able to show you God.

When you excuse Yockey for not invoking God you’re saying that science should avoid supernatural explanations. But then when you say science should accept god as designer of DNA then it’s OK. You’re just another Christian who wants special treatment because of your beliefs.

Science cannot make direct supernatural observations. Science can only explain how material things work. Science by nature cannot answer “why” questions, and it ostensibly is unable to answer the origin of DNA.

deal with the following points:
-All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information
For it to be correct and accurate and to fully reflect what is being observed in the world currently, then it has to state:
-“There is no code or anything resembling a code that was made by anything or anyone other than human beings.” Therefore according to Perry, human beings made themselves! Deal with this Perry! Angry Sparrow

I have addressed this. Re-quoting myself from a prior post (which is a re-quote of an even earlier post): Everything we currently know about nature rules out an infinite regress of causes. In absence of a material explanation, the only alternative for the origin of code is an uncaused coder. Which is why a human designer (re: HRG’s question earlier) is not a plausible explanation. Thus the only available explanation that remains is an uncaused, conscious, metaphysical designer. (This is also the limit of my syllogism’s ability to identify God.) Those who dislike this option always do, of course, have the option of waiting for a naturalistic cause to be discovered. But one cannot say one has empirical evidence until such evidence is produced.

Angry Sparrow, I salute you for acknowledging that there is no code or anything resembling a code that (so far as we know) was made by anything or anyone other than human beings. So now you have to deal with this statement from your own worldview. Where is your evidence?

If you have none, just say so.

If you are unable to produce such evidence but choose to hold out for this evidence to appear someday well, then just say so.

Pmarshall : So long as you’re willing to admit that there is no known natural cause for information or DNA, you can maintain that position.
Reply: There is, though far from certain or detailed at this time. Still, it’s a lot better than the following bogus statement :
Pmarshall : What remains is the observation that the only known source of coded information is intelligence.


You claim to have a “known natural cause” but concede that it is far from certain or detailed at this time. Furthermore, you have not even identified this known natural cause, whatever it may be. Nor has anyone else on this board. Thus, what remains is the observation that the only known source of coded information is intelligence. You have not shown this statement to be bogus; in fact you have validated it. Thank you.

It’s possible that there are forms of coded information that did arise naturally, but as of yet we don’t know how.

Thank you for acknowledging that naturalism has no explanation for the origin of coded information at this time. I appreciate your candor.

My citations of evolved codes are merely to show that your claim that a codes must come from a conscious mind is not recognized in the field of science. Current science says that it may have evolved and there are theories on how it came about. Perhaps you can find a more recent scientific journal article or publish your ideas, win a Nobel prize and prove us infidels wrong. Until then I hope this ends the debate.

The weak part of this argument is that it “may” evolve (troublesome word, that ‘may’) and there are “theories on how it came about.” (Troublesome word, ‘theories’.) I’m asking for evidence, not theories. Note that the evidence I’m asking for here should be a whole lot easier to produce than, say, full blown abiogenesis. The example could theoretically come from any branch of science or math – and I’m only asking for one.

Demonstrate a purely natural process that produces a code, win a Nobel prize .

Even though naturalism has no explanation doesn’t mean an explanation is not possible. It’s not even accurate to say no natural explanation exists.

If you believe a naturalistic explanation is possible, that is fine. But if you also have a naturalistic explanation that is not merely an unsupported theory, then please present the empirical data supporting said explanation. For now we observe that no successful explanation has ever been produced.

Quote :
Originally Posted by pmarshall “Note that the reasoning in my syllogism is identical to the reasoning through which science has concluded that “Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed.” I don’t believe one can prove conservation of matter of energy from a prior governing mathematical principle; we can only recognize that no exception to this law has ever been physically observed. But a useful difference between matter/energy and coded information is that we create coded information every day – but also we observe that only minds create coded information.”

We observe that of all the examples offered other than DNA, human minds have created them.

Thank you for your agreement, Sparrow. Others continue to insist, contrary to universally established scientific precedent and rigorous mathematical definitions, that DNA is not a code. So far none of those people, though, has been willing to overturn Yockey’s formal definitions (and Crick’s, and Gamow’s , and Shannon’s, and Perlwitz’s) by which we understand “code” and related biological terms are literal, not figurative.

Naturalistic explanations do not introduce new assumptions; supernatural explanations, despite their apparent simplicity, do. The burden of proof lies on you to substantiate your metaphysical hypothesis vs. the default naturalistic position.

Given the complete absence of any empirical support for a naturalistic cause (as Sparrow already conceded some time ago) it requires assumptions that are empirically unsubstantiated and thus fails to qualify as a scientific statement.

What we do know, without dispute, is that all codes we do know the origin of are designed by a mind.

OK, if DNA was designed then is there anything that is not designed, according to Perry Marshall? What does something that is NOT designed look like?

This is the very first topic that I address on my web page, which you have referred to many times: Examples of un-designed phenomena include chaotic systems – i.e. tornados, sand dunes hurricanes, salt crystals, snowflakes. None of those phenomena require creation by a mind. But codes do.

There is a material explanation for DNA and you’ve chosen to ignore it. I cited journal articles explaining how the genetic code evolves. See the Journal of Molecular Evolution.
//www.imb-jena.de/~sweta/genetic_code/evolution.html

Speculations about how the code evolved once it existed in some form do not explain its origin.

In his book “Climbing Mount Improbable” Richard Dawkins argued that natural selection is ordered (not random) and order-generating processes capable of creating highly complex structures that appear to be designed are ” Designoid .” DNA is an excellent example of a designoid structure, and it is perfectly reasonable to posit that it evolved through natural processes, not intervention by some deity.

Evolution and the actual origin of DNA’s code are two different things. I heard Dawkins on a Boston radio station in August, he was asked about the origin of the first cell. He said it was (and I quote verbatim) “a happy chemical accident.”

I found that humorous.

But if you find that explanation satisfying – and if you believe that qualifies as a scientific answer – that is your decision.

Computers are constrained by much more than simple physics, because we programmed them to obey instructions (codes). But cells, DNA and molecules have no such constraints other than pure physics.

That is also demonstrably incorrect, see my earlier reference to Yockey .

All Yockey was talking about was emergent behavior

Perhaps you are talking about a different Yockey ? From your remarks it would seem we are reading two different books. I am referring to the book Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life by Hubert P. Yockey . Yockey explicitly states the exact opposite of what you have said: “There is no trace in physics or chemistry of the control of chemical reactions by a sequence of any sort or of a code between sequences. Thus, when we make the distinction between the origin of the genetic code and its evolution we find the origin of the genetic code is unknowable.” Thus Yockey is emphatic that the information in DNA is not emergent behavior.

Code as Perry seems to use it implies communication between two conscious beings. Isn’t that the point of communication and coding systems? But code that represent information in a self-replicating machine is not a communication code.

That’s not quite what I mean. If your computer automatically goes the Norton website and downloads anti-virus updates every night, communication is taking place, but not between conscious intelligent beings. It’s just machines communicating via computer languages. But my observation is that all computer program, all codes (TCP/IP etc.) and all symbolic communication systems outside the realm of living things (radio, Morse code, tribal drum beats, thermometers) are all originally designed by conscious minds.

So Perry if you say DNA is a code containing information, then DNA is an example known to science of a code that did not come from an intelligent agent.

This statement assumes in advance that DNA was not made by an intelligent agent; but that is what the naturalist is attempting to prove in the first place. If naturalism had empirical proof that DNA’s origin is purely naturalistic, there would be no discussion here today.

The English language was not designed, it emerged.

To speak of language as “emerging” is to imply that a language somehow creates itself. Every word in every language I’m aware of was originally coined by somebody, somewhere, and was assigned a meaning (which may change with time according to peoples’ desires.). In principle, the process of English development is no different than the creation of a computer language like TCP/IP (which has also changed with time according to peoples’ desires) , the process is just less formal. In all cases, sounds and symbols, words, and syntax must be chosen and agreed upon by both sender and receiver for effective communication to take place.

Quoting Yockey again :

“The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.

“The existence of a genome and the genetic code divides living organisms from nonliving matter. There is nothing in the physico -chemical world that remotely resembles reactions being determined by a sequence and codes between sequences.”

Observing now that pure interactions of matter and energy do not create coded information, and that naturalistic processes also have not, to date, been observed to produce designers, the only logical explanation is that 1) we have not discovered these natural processes yet, or 2) such processes don’t exist, therefore a metaphysical designer is required. The non-theist can always fall back on (1), but does so with absence of evidence.

pmarshall: All programming algorithms are ultimately designed by conscious minds. There are no known exceptions.

False. “Designing” requires that the result is already present in the mind of the designer. Programmers can write a (non-deterministic) program which produces genetic algorithms, but the result of those algorithms is not designed. It is well-known that genetic algorithms for electronic circuits may come up with solutions which the programmer does not understand.

You can design a thermometer, or an HVAC system, but that doesn’t mean you know what the temperature will be next week; in fact the reason you put a thermometer in an HVAC system is because you don’t know what the temperature will be next week. I never said the result had to be designed. I only said the code had to be designed.

Please, stop quoting Yockey and stop using metaphors to describe real-world ideas.

I have been asked at many points in this discussion to stop quoting Yockey . Unfortunately no one has offered a single valid reason to dismiss any of Yockey’s analysis. I wonder if anyone here actually even owns his book. (Rob, you should ask somebody to give it to you for Christmas.) I will quote Yockey until someone uses real math, information theory and empirical evidence to overturn his findings. And Yockey’s first point in his book is to show that these descriptions are not metaphors at all. (See below.)

Let’s review where we’ve been in this thread. I have said :

(1) The sequence of base pairs in DNA is a code.

Much effort has been made to discredit this statement, unsuccessfully. This statement is fully and explicitly supported in virtually all of the scientific literature since the 1960’s.

(2) All codes that we know the origin of come from a mind.

Much effort has been expended to discredit this statement as well. Assertions have been attempted that gravity, snowflakes, magma flows and the like are codes. But none accurately conforms to Shannon’s communication model. Most of the examples cited do not contain an encoding system, and none contain a decoding system.

(3) Therefore DNA came from a mind.

The objection to this statement has been that the conclusion is reached inductively. Complaints have been lodged that inductive reasoning is inherently unreliable. But we do observe that the laws of thermodynamics and in fact the majority of known scientific laws are determined inductively and not deductively. If you wish to throw out inductive reasoning, then we can discard almost all scientific knowledge and start all over again and use rocks and sticks to make fire.

Thus we have, right here on the Infidels discussion forum, after more than 300 posts, robust evidence that life was intelligently designed.

It is not possible for me to persuade people to believe in God if they do not want to; that is not my job. But one can hope that some will follow the evidence, wherever it leads.

Your extrapolation from a purported designer of DNA to a Judeo-Christian god is still unsupported.

That is correct, I have made no attempt to identify the designer in my syllogism, nor is this syllogism capable of rigorously doing so.

Re-read the article If You Can Read This I Can Prove God Exists and carefully note exactly what I said and did not say. My syllogism cannot define in detail the personal characteristics God. However it does leave God as the only logical possibility – because no empirical naturalistic causes are known, and an infinite regress of intelligent causes is not rational.