Information

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Information is a message transmitted by a message sender and received and understood by a message receiver. Information can be considered to be the third fundamental quantity of the universe, after matter and energy. Information is a non-material entity, which some contest only arise from an intelligence, although others, committed to a materialistic view, disagree, yet offer no examples of information arising from non-intelligent sources.[1]

Contents

The mediums of information

Information is carried on matter, but is not matter itself. Rather, it is the arrangement of matter that carries the information. This can be seen in that arranging matter to carry information does not change the weight of the matter. The following is a list of ways that information is carried.[2]

  • Acoustic
    Information is transmitted by means of sound.
  • Optical
    Information is transmitted by written word, flags, bar codes, sign language, bee dances, etc.
  • Tactile
    Information is transmitted by physical touch, such as by braille writing.
  • Magnetic
    Information is transmitted by magnetic recording mediums, such as tapes and computer disks.
  • Electrical
    Information is transmitted by electrical signals, such as telephone and radio.
  • Chemical
    Information is transmitted by chemical signals, such as DNA.
  • Olfactory
    Information is transmitted by smell, such as animal scents.
  • Electro-chemical
    Information is transmitted by electro-chemical means, such as in nervous systems.

Punching braille dots into a medium does not change the quantity of the matter, but its shape has been changed in order to carry information. Computer disks have the same quantity of matter when formatted as when files have been written to them. Information has been added by rearranging the magnetic particles, not by changing the quantity of matter involved.

Information is conveyed by symbols

Information is transmitted by means of symbols which are usually arbitrary and only carry information because the receiver of the information understands the conventions of the symbols. In the case of alphabetic languages, these symbols are the letters of the alphabet and the word built from those letters. However, different languages can use different symbols to convey the same information, or the same symbols to convey different information. For example, the word gift in English means a present, wheres in German the same word gift means a poison. For information to be understood, the receiver of the information must know what the symbols represent.

Information specialist Dr. Werner Gitt refers to the set of symbols as a code. He says:

A code is an essential requirement for establishing information. ...
It should be emphasised that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required. ...
A code system is always the result of a mental process...(it requires an intelligent origin or inventor). ...
There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.[3]

Levels of information

Information science has defined five levels of information.[4]

Statistical

At the lowest level, information can be measured statistically. This is the definition of information used by Claude Shannon. It measures the amount of space required to store information. For example, the sentence "Conservapedia is the world's best encyclopedia" has more "information" than "Wikipedia is an inferior encyclopedia" because it takes more letters to write it. This aspect of information is useful for calculating the capacity requirements to store and transmit information, but fails to distinguish between noise and meaning. For example, the sentence "Conservapedia is an encyclopedia" takes 32 characters to write. The sentence "onadpelrn oyeCsens aiaia iecpvdc" also takes (the same) 32 characters, but carries no meaning.

Syntax

Information must have syntax, which is the arrangement of symbols to form a message. Not all possible combination of symbols can actually carry meaning.

Semantics

Semantics is to do with the range of possible meanings of symbols. Information must have meaning to the recipient. If a syntactically-correct sequence of symbols does not have meaning, it is not information.

Pragmatics

Pragmatics is concerned with the context of the symbols. Different contexts can result in different meanings for the same symbols. Information has the potential to cause the recipient to take some action.

Apobetics

Apobetics is to do with the purpose of the information.

Measuring information

Whilst there is no measure for information, it is possible to compare two similar pieces of information to see which has the most information. For example, compare the following two sentences:[5]

  • She has a yellow vehicle.
  • She has a yellow car.

The second sentence conveys more information than the first, because the second tells you not just she has a vehicle, but that the specific type of vehicle is a car.

But also note that the second sentence, although carrying more information, is shorter than the first sentence. Thus a measure of information at the statistical level bears little if any relationship to the amount of meaningful information.

Origin of information

Creation scientists claim that all "information" (here referring to signal type information) is the result of a will, and as information is not a property of matter, it has a non-material source. Thus, they believe all information ultimately has its origin in a personal mind exercising free will[6], an intelligence.[7]

Law of Conservation of Information

William Dembski's Law of Conservation of Information states that information cannot be created by natural (non-intelligent) causes.[8]

Information and creation

Creationists use the science of information to argue that the information carried on the DNA of all living things must have had its origin in an intelligence (God), and could not have arisen through natural (materialistic) processes.

According to the evolutionary view, the first living cell had only the information required for that cell to survive and reproduce. As life evolved, living things acquired new organs and other features, such as bones, scales, eyes, blood, feathers, limbs, hair, muscles, and much more. At a genetic level, this means that the evolving creatures had to acquire large amounts of new genetic information for these new organs. However, evolutionists have been unable to produce more than a very few disputable examples of genetic information arising naturally.

Legal Meaning

In legal terminology information is an accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing the charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it serves to bring a defendant to trial.

Bibliography

References

  1. Musgrave, Ian, Baldwin, Rich, et. al., Information Theory and Creationism The TalkOrigins Archive, 14th July, 2005.
  2. Gitt, Werner, In the Beginning was Information, 60-61, Christliche Literateur-Verbreitung e. V., Bielefield, Germany, 1997 (English edition).
  3. Gitt, pp. 64, 65, 67, 107.
  4. Gitt, pages 50-82.
  5. Example taken from Lamb, 2007.
  6. Gitt, page 113.
  7. Bates, Gary, SETI—coming in from the cold of space, Creation 26(3):48–50, June 2004.
  8. Dembski, 1998.
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