by Stephen Caesar
In an earlier column (April, page 13), I discussed the “anthropic principle,” which deals with the fact that the Universe appears to be designed for life. Scientists like physicist Stephen Wolfram, author of the book A New Kind of Science, MIT computer scientist Ed Fredkin, advocate of a “digital philosophy” of the Universe, and MIT physicist Seth Lloyd, who has gotten atoms and molecules to act like computer microprocessors, are leading the way in this new study of the cosmos. The Aug. 19, 2002, issue of US News & World Report stated that:
“Wolfram, Fredkin, and their acolytes may be on to something. In recent years many researchers have begun thinking of physical interactions and calculations as flows of information, rather than mere encounters among bits of matter and quanta of radiation. Science writer Tom Siegfried, in a recent book, The Bit and the Pendulum, calls it the ‘new physics of information’” (Petit 2002: 50).
Information is the key to the concept of the universe as a gigantic computer program. (Anyone who has taken a computer course knows that information is the central concept in computer science.) Holmes Rolston III, professor of philosophy at Colorado State University, is an advocate of this view. Despite his dig at “creationists with bad science” while lauding “evolutionary theorists with correct beliefs” (Rolston 1999: 192), he nonetheless wrote:
“What is inadequately recognized in the ‘self-organizing’ accounts [of the first life on earth] is that, though no new matter or energy is needed for such spontaneous organization, new information is needed in enormous amounts and that one cannot just let this information float in from nowhere. Over evolutionary history, something is going on ‘over the heads’ of any and all of the local, individual organisms. More comes from less, again and again. A more plausible explanation is that, complementing the self-organizing, there is a Ground of Information, or an Ambience of Information, otherwise known as God” (ibid. 359).
The idea of information as the creating and binding force of the universe matches the biblical view. Information basically consists of two things: knowledge that you have in your head, and the spoken (or written) word necessary to communicate that knowledge. For example, if a friend were trying to reach your house by car, you would need to convey directions to him. You already possess this knowledge in your mind, but you must either tell him the directions or write them out.
According to Scripture, God used both aspects of information (knowledge and the spoken word) to create the universe. Psalm 104:24 states: “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all….” In Genesis 1, God created by speaking. In other words, God began with the wisdom/knowledge He had in His mind. (Leviticus 24:12 mentions “the mind of the Lord,” Romans 8:27 mentions “the mind of the [Holy] Spirit,” and 1 Corinthians 2:16 mentions “the mind of Christ”). He then conveyed this information into the void by speaking (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). Significantly, the New Testament refers to Christ the Creator as “the Word” (John 1). The result could be termed a perfect computer program. (The fall of Adam later put a bug into this program.)
Scientists who reject the idea of God as Creator must ask themselves: “If the universe is indeed a huge computer program, with atoms and molecules as the microprocessors, then who created and programmed this computer?” We now have computers so advanced they can program themselves or other computers. But this only strengthens creationism, since these supercomputers need an outside intelligence to program them in the first place.
Petit, C. 2002. “The Cosmic Code.” US News, 19 August.
Rolston III, H. 1999. Genes, Genesis and God. Cambridge University Press.
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Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.1stbooks.com.