The Atheist’s Riddle, Part 2: Two Kinds of Things & The Infinite Chasm

There is a giant chasm in the world that 99% of people never notice.

But once you see it, you can’t “un-see” it. After today, you will suddenly see that chasm with crystal clarity. From now on, the way you see the entire world will never be the same.

On side 1 of the chasm is: THE MATERIAL WORLD. In it you find:

Physical Laws
Chaos & fractals

On side 2 of the chasm is: THE WORLD OF INFORMATION. In it you find:

Rules (and the possibility of breaking them)

If you were to travel to some distant sterile planet in outer space, everything you find there would be on Side 1 of the Chasm. Material things do not replicate. They don’t make copies of themselves or anything else. Rocks and snowflakes and sand dunes exhibit no purpose. They change but they do not evolve.

They obey the laws of physics and nothing more. There is no meaning, no symbols, no instructions, no information. There is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”. There just “is.”

The material world is “bottom up.”

However in things that process Information, ALL of the features of Side 2 are present.

Information systems (people, computers, TV stations, radios, telephones, DNA) make copies of messages and everything in them serves some kind of purpose, however simple.

Information evolves. Information uses symbols (objects that represent something other than themselves). Information can be correct or incorrect. It can be understood or misunderstood. Information follows rules which can be broken. Data can be corrupted, instructions can be obeyed or disobeyed. Copies can be perfect or imperfect.

Information is “top down.”

Information itself is THE chasm between non-living and living things.

This chasm is, for all practical purposes, INFINITE. It’s not literally infinite… but it’s as close as anyone ever gets to infinity in real science and math problems. Larger numbers than you encounter in any other endeavor. Let me explain why this is so.

Consider the following sentence:

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”

What are the chances of that sentence occurring by random chance?

It’s easy to find the answer. It has 43 letters and spaces. Excluding things like apostrophes and semicolons and numbers, there are 26 upper case letters and 26 lower case letters to choose from. So there are 52 to the power of 43 possible combinations of letters.

52^43 = 6.139652×10^73

Which means the chances of this sentence occurring randomly are 1 chance in

61,396,520,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

(There are only 10^80 particles in the universe.)

So the chances of this sentence appearing by random chance are not much better than painting one atom red, somewhere in the far flung reaches of universe, then having some other person actually find it by accident, blindfolded.

You might be starting to wonder if the old story about monkeys and typewriters eventually producing the works of Shakespeare is true. It’s NOT. As a matter of fact such a thing is far more absurd than accidentally finding one red atom in the universe.


There’s still something I forgot to mention.

We started out by assuming that we had upper & lower case English letters, ready-made to work with. Which is a pretty generous assumption.

What if we didn’t even start with letters? What if all we had was rocks or sand or clumps of matter?

If we couldn’t start with letters, we’d really be in deep doo-doo.

OK, so what do all these numbers have to do with information?

They show us that information is very, very, very specific. Even getting the spelling and grammar exactly right in this silly little sentence is just as specific as the exact coordinates of a single lucky red atom somewhere in the Universe. Even the simplest language is incredibly precise.

And remember, every time you make this sentence one letter longer, you increase the number of possible combinations by 52.

Here’s the easiest biology example I can offer you: There are more than 10^200,000 possible code combinations in the DNA of the simplest known micro-organism in the world, Nanoarchaeum. Many people have never even seen a number that big, anywhere. No one in science or engineering even has use for numbers that big.

So the chasm between information and non-information is truly infinite.

This is why information NEVER happens by chance, never by accident. There isn’t enough time or chance in the whole history of the universe for even the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” to appear by accident, even once. Nobody in science has ever seen information spontaneously arise by chance.

Many people assume that DNA happened by chance. They were told that surely, given billions of years, and all the planets in the universe, it was bound to happen sometime, somewhere.

But most people never got out a calculator and questioned this; they just accepted it on faith.

Those who did do the math – and this is pretty simple high school math – quickly saw that there was no way this could be true. (You should always be skeptical in matters like this. You should even be skeptical of me. Get out your calculator and check or yourself. BTW the built-in calculator in Microsoft Windows maxxes out at 10^2000.)

I fully understand that you may doubt me, and I encourage you to check my calculations. Furthermore, I encourage you to scour all the world’s scientific literature and find any mathematician or statistician who has a statistical model that shows that the information in DNA had even a fighting chance of occurring by accident.

I invite you to search the entire Internet, every library and science lab for that.

In 5 years of studying this question and discussing this with literally THOUSANDS of people, nobody has ever shown me such a formula.

There is an infinite chasm that separates information from non-information, living things from non-living.

From now on, when you look at something, you’ll ask: “Is that something that processes information?”

Computers, cell phones, TV’s, digital clocks, birds and snails? Yes those things process information.

Rocks, sand dunes, snow flakes, tornadoes and lifeless planets?


No information whatsoever. No codes, no instructions, no meaning. Just the uncaring, impersonal laws of physics.

The materialistic worldview has no explanation for the existence of information – because all information we know the origin of comes from intelligent beings.

Therefore the most rational conclusion is that all information ultimately comes from an intelligent source.

Therefore there is so much more for us than just the material world and the laws of physics. There is Spirit and Intelligence.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: Everything I just described to you today, also explains why randomness can’t improve information any more reliably than it creates it. I’ll explain more about that in a later installment.

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176 Responses

  1. Benito Franqui says:

    I disagree that information applies only to living things.

    In my humble opinion, Paul Davies ( ) does a better job of explaining what we presently know or can reasonably speculate about concerning the origin of life, and about how information theory is relevant to the existence of both living and non-living entities.

  2. Benito Franqui says:

    The points brought up in the preceding comments have already been discussed with unsurpassed clarity by Paul Davies.

  3. Ben Greaves says:

    It seems to me that a large proportion of the above debate hinges on the assumptions that the universe began with the big bang and is finite, assumptions that need to be closely questioned. First, when we say the big bang is the beginning, what we mean is that we are facing a chronological horizon – the big bang effectively wiped out evidence of anything that came before. However, just because we can’t see or model the universe before the big bang doesn’t mean nothing preceded the big bang. This is analogous to looking west from England and assuming nothing exists beyond the English Channel – when in reality, the curve of the earth has hidden France from view. Assuming we cannot leave the island, there is no way to theorize or prove what is beyond the English Channel, just like scientists have been (so far) incapable of modeling the big bang to satisfactorally theorize what (if anything) came before it.
    Second, we assume that the cosmos has a limit because we can see a limit – taking your statistic, we can see objects approximately 13.8 billion light years away. That doesn’t mean nothing is beyond these objects; objects could in fact exist beyond this barrier, but not enough time has passed since the big bang for light from these objects to travel to earth. Again, this is like looking west from England and assuming nothing is beyond the Atlantic.
    To summarize, the universe could very well have existed before the big bang and could very well be infinite. Everything now rests on assumptions. If you believe nothing occured before the big bang and the universe is limited, then design seems entirely reasonable. If, on the other hand, you want to believe the opposite, there is a 100% chance that simple self-sustaining information systems (like DNA) will arise somewhere in a limitless universe. I hate to say it, but we may as well flip a coin – these assumptions will be difficult to prove or disprove.
    Most of this information is courtesy of Paul Davies’ “The Goldilocks Engima”.

  4. ruben says:

    perry, i’m starting a ministry of creacionism in Peru,and obviously in my church,but i need some support of you,about that how can i start it?, please if you can help me

  5. Michael says:

    I’ll keep this brief as I’ve already made quite a comment already in another article.
    I skimmed through this page, just thought I’d throw in some food for thought; The likelihood of that sentence occurring is quite a large number, but the conditions that define those odds are of your own design. Technically speaking, the odds of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” has the exact same odds of occurring as ANY OTHER sequence of 43 characters and/or spaces. Even random ones! Yes it’s true!

    The fun doesn’t stop there, I can scale up this proof and explain, that pretty much everything that occurs, occurs, and any odds someone assigns to them are only relative to that person and their reasons for creating said laws.

    Now, I’m a young man, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a mathematician, but seriously, the supporting “proofs” for you articles just jump out at me. Do you, or others who agree with you, clearly not see these blazing flaws in your reasoning?

    • Yes, Michael, all those other sentences have equal probability of occurring. Which is my point. The chances of any readable sentence appearing is nearly zero. There is not enough time in the universe to generate any sensible sentence.

      Your blog comment right here is proof enough: It did not occur randomly and you can’t make a case that it could have or would have. You intentionally designed it.

      • DTV says:

        But the one point that you do not make is the huge number of planets and the huge number of forms that information can take, like methane crystals replacing DNA. If all that you need is one piece of complex information to start life, then you need only one coincedence out of the millions of particle run-ins on one planet among trillions of planets.

  6. Tunde Fajimi says:

    Hello Perry,

    Thank you for making this effort to put take the discussion from another perspective.

    I have a few modest comments and questions (I’m not a ‘scientist’ but I can ask questions):

    For the evolution proponents: Are there any examples of ‘positive’ mutations that have occurred (within Homo Sapiens) to improve the human species (or any other species for that matter)? Are we all evolving presently? If so how do the separate evolutionary mutations lead together to a gain in the information in DNA? Where in your opinion is all the evolution headed?

    I am aware of cancers and other deformities as mutation of the normal functioning of the DNA of cells. Is there proof of positive mutation?

    It is clear that no one can say DNA is purposeless-since it exists to set the stage for the repeated creation of UNIQUE individual living entities (note: human fingerprints, etc). Can purpose come from nothing? Why the unique characteristics anyway? Do they not refute common genetic ancestry?

    If what we’ve discovered (in science) leads us to make statements of fact, how can we be relying on what we’ve not discovered to make definite counter-arguments, and call them unassailable. If we refuse to base our arguments on what is known, rather looking for something that exists purely in the realm of hypothesis, how can we ever build anything beyond castles in the air.

    As far as we know what ever system we have ever been able to observe has: a purpose (something it does), and a plan (how it does it) which depend on verifiable laws.

    The universe has been changing since it burst forth, from the Big Bang. Is it possible for life to have evolved in such a hostile and unstable environment since (in my thinking) any stage of evolution would require time to stabilize and for the mutation to take hold and thrive-before another disruption to its genetic stability.

    Personally, I believe that as science probes deeper it will find that all roads will lead to the same conclusion – an uncaused Cause (i.e.. God) for the universe which is able to , except for unyielding arguments (with all due respect) that refuse to entertain such as a possibility.

    P.S: I listened to your video from the first Atheist’s riddle mail, and it took me to places I had not gone in my thinking before. I was especially intrigued by the last few comments about Jesus being the physical expression of God’s spoken intent (“the Word in flesh”). It got me thinking about how language is a description of intent to pass across ACCURATE information, and how information with a meaning is a language

    Jesus is the intent of God for man. The perfect representation of God’s original plan.

  7. Jim Diamond says:

    Your argument uses the same old fallacies. At nearly the lowest level, we are not alive but are only electrochemical reactions between molecules. The exact definition of life amongst scientists is even now causing trouble.

    Then it’s the fallacy of odds, using nonsense maths. If the chance of something happening is 1 x 10^120, then it can happen the first time as easily as the last time. It is nonsense to say it can only happen at 1 x 10^120.

    A computer programme was given the task of writing a sentence. It BUILT on what had gone before so it did not need nonsense maths to complete a sentence. It had a basic sentence in just FORTY TWO tries.

    As I said last time, if you live on the tenth floor of a block of flats, you do not try to leap it in one bound but go up a step at the time. That is how DNA is built up. With trillions of trillions of combinations of just four molecules, every time a stable combination was formed, it could build up from that till another stable combination was formed.

    I worked in a lab decades ago. It was a nightmare trying to keep things sterile. Bleaches, strong acids and alkalies, the lot. You left the smallest trace behind, and you could not help doing so, it all grew back again, so it was a regular job trying to keep it sterile. It’s the same with life, even at the DNA stage. Once it is formed, that is it. It spreads and spreads until something stops it, then it adapts and spreads some more. All it needed originally was one strand of DNA to get where we are now.

    Don’t you mean there is spirit and there is intelligence? They are not compatible since spirit is an unproven idea.

    • The computer program was programmed to write a sentence. That’s ID.

      • Jim Diamond says:

        You miss the point. Molecules can only fit together one way. Alkalies, acids, salts, esters, etc only work set ways. No one is there to make them work that way. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. DNA and RNA are made out of just four very common molecules. Since we are talking about the most basic possible RNA structure which would have formed originally and not human DNA which has changed maybe millions of times over literally billions of years, so no nonsense maths, with a whole planet full of chemicals, incoming chemicals from space and half a billion years it would only need maybe as little as one strand to form to make endless more strands, in the same way that a simple virus can make billions of copies of itself within days.

  8. Miissarru says:

    Hi perry,you said in your email that every information and messasge comes from mind,this topic was about DNA formation which itself consist of four alphabetic codes.I accept that information comes from mind,so from where the information and codes on DNA came?there might be a super intelligence or super mind behind creating this information,but my question is that when we study about the functioning of DNA,we got to know that DNA is responsible for every inch related to our life whether its a matter of physical appaerence that you can phenotypically dominant characters or the matter of intelligence.we create information through our mind,but this is all because of DNA .so it means there must be DNA also in the mind of that SUPER INTELLIGENCE power.So who made that DNA??

  9. Ashish says:

    perry then what do u think whom we should consider as god in india we believe in so many.I m rather confused peoples around the world have different faiths its true that science cant answer the mysteries of life hence i believe in presence of someone who controls the whole universe but who’s that one

  10. Jaxx says:

    I agree with the part regarding energy/matter and information.
    I dont agree however with the part where you say dna is made by god and the other bull..

    Its quite simple actually.. look at a virus.. it mutates my itself and you have new intelligent code !

    As for te purpoise of life.. you have come close to it with your chasms.. so here we go:

    the purpoise of life on earth is …. *drumms* … i forgot … no wait .. 🙂 … its to convert the sun’s energy into information 🙂

    this way information will also around the universe quite fast if we dont die out as a species…


  11. John C. says:

    A brief foreword – I am not the same John as the one who has recently been posting.

    I addressed an email to Perry and was directed to this blog. Forgive me if these questions have been answered; anyone, supply me with the answers that have already been give. To quote the email:

    “You define DNA as a language, a code, and it’s easy to see why. I agree with you perfectly; it’s the body’s manual. However, (correct me if I’m wrong – I’m far from a scientist) wouldn’t fundamental particles be messages in the same token? The force carriers (photons, W and Z bosons, gluons and theoretical gravitons) are message carriers too, aren’t they? They tell matter how to act – stick together here, repel there, release energy later, etc. They are code, the universe’s code.”

    Basically, if, “[c]ode is defined as communication between an encoder (a “writer” or “speaker”) and a decoder (a “reader” or “listener”) using agreed upon symbols.” (by Perry), then two protons in a Helium nucleus exchanging gluons should suffice as an encoder, decoder, and language.

    The encoder proton fires of gluons at the decoder, telling it to stay tight. The decoder receives these gluons, and remains attracted to the encoder, while it sends back its own gluons, telling the encoder to be attracted to it. Of course neither proton has ‘agreed’ on said language, but that is a foolish proposition to make, DNA doesn’t ‘agree’ with RNA which don’t ‘agree’ with ribosomes. They all just happen to be stuck with the same language.

    Also, I am quite impressed that Perry has addressed every comment to date.


    • John,

      Why things like sunlight, hydrogen atoms, electrons, layers of sediment and snowflakes are not codes:


      • John C. says:


        I have read through that link, but I still feel that force carrier particles carry messages. There is no law of physics that says we need gravity. There is no law of physics that says we need electromagnetism, the strong, or weak nuclear forces. They arbitrarily exist, independent of explanation. We can’t say why our world is affected by them, just that it is.

        First, a proton (or any other hadron, if my knowledge is correct) is an encoder. It ‘wants’ to send various messages, one of them being, “stick with me”. It encodes this message in a gluon (it could just as easily be a graviton, a photon, or any other particle provided that our universe was different. For some strange reason it’s a gluon.

        The gluon (encoded message) passes on to the next proton, which decodes it, and therefore stays closer to the messenger proton.

        All this while, the protons are exchanging photons, repelling each other, and, theoretically, gravitons, attracting each other.

        There is an encoder, there is a message, there is a decoder. The message is just a lot less complex than most that we see. It’s also naturally occurring.

  12. shibshakti says:

    Designer or no designer – if words can describe, isn’t the designer limited? Wouldn’t feeling could have a better chance?

  13. Dear Perry,

    I happened to visit your site by chance while I myself was trying to seek answers to certain questions.

    I agree with you fully that DNA has a language hidden in it and hence that is the mystery of LIFE.

    While I appreciate your endeavor to prove the “existence of GOD”, I feel you are expending too much of your time & energy in doing so.

    If I were you, with all the knowledge that you already have I would try to get myself connected to the cosmic web (connected to GOD) through MEDITATION.

    I am practicing MEDITATION and am researching in the same subject as you are, but am using Meditation as a tool rather than entering into discussion forums with “atheists”.

    BEST WISHES TO YOU in your efforts.

    Love You and Regards


  14. Dear Perry,

    You are in LOVE with GOD.

    Leave it at that. Do not get into proving your point right with the non-believers. When the your LORD – the maker has given you this beautiful knowledge, he also know that Perry wants the WHOLE WORLD to know about his “Designer”.

    He knows that you Love him.



    • tmajor says:

      John C, Anandi and other non-scientists who believe they know as much or more than scientists:
      Read what Perry’s printing. He’s sharing and enlightening us with his investigation into who created us!.Just like scientists do! How can you guys argue using points that are extremely inconclusive? Look at the Human Genome Map, although an incredible accomplishment, it is very far from complete. Naming 1/3 of the human genome “junk DNA” because they don’t know what it is. That is why they can’t cure the majority of diseases or don’t have a clue as to the origin of humanity itself! The history of human existence right here on earth is riddled with gaps that nobody has a clue as to why or what happened. The scientific explanation of how and when the universe began, all theoretical! Albert Einstein, the father of physics, made great discoveries, made some mistakes, couldn’t figure it out, and also said a being smarter than humans designed this thing we call EVERYTHING!

      Why are you guys digging into the bag of failed examples for ammunition. Start your OWN research and maybe you all will come closer to the answers we are all searching for! I am a son of our GOD and a student and researcher of life. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!


  15. Namini de Silva says:

    Hi, I was thinking about the first e-mail you sent me saying that information comes through a God. But if you take the minds and actions of the people of the present and the past, they’re are drowned in evil, most of them. People think about betraying someone else, they think about killing and do murder others, and etc. What about war? What about all that evil?? If information comes from a God, why does God send information like that? Isn’t he supposed to be noble and pure? In that case how come these types of info arise in the first place? Taken from this view, isn’t it more accurate to call that so called “God”, not a God but a Devil??? I hope not to offend anyone, but just want to give my view.

    Good day

  16. Ram says:

    Dear sir,
    your reply and analysis is absolutly appreciable.some one having who watch and control the whole universe’s is absolutly right,otherwise our planet randembly escaped to some where alse or any thing happens.
    1) rotor rotates with the speed of 100000 rpm. it can stop within quarter it possible or it has designed by super power?

  17. vachan k.v says:

    what is information?
    it’s representation of something.
    here is something is material
    so friend it’s materials which create information
    informations won’t create materials!!!!!!
    so info is totally dependent on materials for its bare existance!!!!!!
    and it came from materials so no materials no information
    i just don’t understand this theists they blame materialistic world but they don’t show gratitude that their bare existance is because of materials.

    • Vachan,

      I have no problem with materials. The question is more subtle than you realize. Information uses matter or energy to be transmitted but where does the symbolic information originally come from?

      Show me a naturally occurring code, Vachan. Draw a Shannon communication system and label the components – encoder, decoder, communication channel, and table of symbols. Invite your friends at the Richard Dawkins forum to do the same. I await your response.

  18. vachan k.v says:

    here is a theists riddle
    let’s say i gave a task to god(imagine)
    To create a stone which even he can’t lift
    if he creates it then his power is limited because he can’t lift the stone
    if he is unable to create the stone
    then he doesn’t have capability to create a stone which even he can’t life
    so in both ways he is not omnipotent
    i know it’s a circular theory
    and also i am sure no 1 could find a loop hole in this theory
    it’s very simple
    don’t make it too complicated
    It only has atheists most potent and most deadliest weapon that is

    (wait for it)


  19. vachan k.v says:

    perry marshall
    Here is my challenge post all my comments answer it later lets how good my theories are??if your theory is that right then why don’t you post my comments
    dude i don’t have time for all this.u think i wasted all my time writing those comments for nothing.
    post it or accept defeat
    you were the person who claims rational but right now you got pinned by a 14 year old kid !!!
    you told that richard dawkins was scared to argive with you because he can’t
    win!!!!!! atheists do have a sense of humor u know when u kind of theists are there to entertain us !!!!!!!!
    now who is running away
    who is ignoring
    who is trying to convert me into a agnostic???
    i never told you to be a atheist or agnostic
    i was trying to disapprove your theory
    u pupil just know to blame others in name of god and religion
    and suppress free thought
    a scientist will be ready to shake a hand with a scientist who disapproved his theory but if we spoke something contradictory to religion u pupil call us satan devils all the bad words you could find and defend yourself in name of some imaginary being whose idea is enforced from the dawn of human history
    first correct yourself then set out to correct others
    i have the answer for your age old theist problem?
    who created god?

    (wait for it)

    evolution and human phycology

  20. kasparov says:

    Hi Perry

    Great work that you are doing. It tales a great deal of courage to put ones reputation on the line by making specific religious claims. Good on you.

    I just wanted to bring your attention to Chris Langan, who scored I think 195 on his IQ test. He is proponent of God, and is currently working on his CTMU,, which is a cognitive theory of the universe model.

    Here is an interesting video on some of his views, I think you would find it interesting.

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