Illustrations from this site, with thanks!
How odd is has been to try to nail down Darwinists on the subject of information. They will not answer the question, "where did information come from?" They know what the question means and therefore dodge it in various ways. It does remind one of Bill Clinton trying to lie his way past his lies concerning a tawdry affair with an intern, especially his famous statement which is explained in this excerpt from a Slate article, below:
Bill Clinton and the Meaning of "Is"
Posted Sunday, Sept. 13, 1998, at 9:14 PM ET
Years from now, when we look back on Bill Clinton's presidency, its defining moment may well be Clinton's rationalization to the grand jury about why he wasn't lying when he said to his top aides that with respect to Monica Lewinsky, "there's nothing going on between us." How can this be? Here's what Clinton told the grand jury (according to footnote 1,128 in Starr's report):"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."
That Bill Clinton was able to quadruple-talk his way around an outright lie and in fact managed to retain his Presidency is a credit to his ability to BS and also the fact that politicians have a lot of empathy for fellow politicians. But no one believes that Bill Clinton was successfully arguing his point.
For that reason I am lambasting commenters who continue to dodge the question of where information comes from. My standard commenter is playing leap-question by trying to take the discussion elsewhere. I will tell you readers why. Darwinists have no answer for the information found in organisms.
They also claim that speciation is not information loss. But that way is very problematic for them. It is true that if we look at the "speciation" of dogs that we can recombine different dog populations and probably discover that the genetic information found in the total population has suffered little, if any, loss. But I challenge these commenters to find the specific genetic information necessary to reconstitute a Dodo Bird.
Furthermore, the inability for Darwinists to look "under the hood" of organisms and see what is truly happening leads them to give examples that undermine their asserted positions. Here is an example:
"The various Ensatina salamanders of the Pacific coast all descended from a common ancestral population. As the species spread southward from Oregon and Washington, subpopulations adapted to their local environments on either side of the San Joaquin Valley. From one population to the next, in a circular pattern, these salamanders are still able to interbreed successfully. However, where the circle closes -- in the black zone on the map in Southern California -- the salamanders no longer interbreed successfully. The variation within a single species has produced differences as large as those between two separate species. "
The above is an example of a common phenomenon that happens in the real world. If you studied the genome of the Salamanders on both ends of this "ring" you would discover that both had lost so much information that the two varieties of Salamander could no longer even mate. By specializing and adapting specifically to their respective environments the two Salamander populations at each end of the ring have become so different that they are considered differing species as well. But scientists have not been able to trumpet this as proof of evolution because (and this is the skeleton in the Darwinist closet) when they analyze the animals they discover that genetic information has been LOST and not gained. Therefore they say nothing about genetic information at all.
On the other hand, the observation of rapid speciation in nature is another notch in the YEC belt as it helps explain the proliferation of different species from a few basic kinds (relatively) after the Flood. To quote Carl Wieland:
"Since the cutting off of populations via physical barriers (for example, mountain ranges) can easily be seen to isolate subsets of genes, with the so-called founder effect, subsequent loss of some genes through drift, etc., understanding how such physical barriers could give rise to rapid speciation has always been fairly straightforward (allopatric speciation). Nevertheless, the amount of post-Flood speciation must have been staggering, particularly among the insects, and it is hard to see how there could have been that many physical barriers, cut-off founder or relict populations and the like in this time. Therefore, it is both encouraging and fascinating for creationist biology to note that there is now an increasing acceptance that sympatric speciation is actually quite common. That means that a population may split into two species even while living in the same area, with no separation or physical barriers."
There are some cases in nature in which organisms are able to transmit genetic material from one to another. There are some ways in which organisms adjust to the conditions that no one truly yet understands but in no case has an increase in information been detected in accordance with the Darwinist Hypothesis and that includes the Nylon-Eating Bacteria...
Below is a bit of information from Creation.com that has been updated to reflect modern understanding of the nylon-eating bacteria.
24 July 2000
The ‘information’ argument is used by many creationists to show that particles-to-people evolution is impossible. Following is an attempt by a critic to discredit this argument, followed by our response.
The ‘information’ argument that many creationists have taken to using (or keeping in their store of sophisticated comebacks for debate purposes) has become an intellectual exercise for me, and I would like to share a brief evaluation. The argument that information cannot increase because of the second law of thermodynamics is flawed, but this flaw is very difficult to unravel unless its postulates are examined. A friend once showed me a proof that every triangle was isosceles, but I could not uncover the flaw until he showed me how the proof had to assume an isosceles triangle. Similarly, the creationist argument that information cannot increase rests on assumptions which are valid but cannot be applied to biological systems.
It begins simply enough: a creationist asserts that information cannot increase spontaneously. Ken Ham began in this manner in his NPR debate with Eugenie Scott. On the surface, the argument is in fact true. Scott’s response to the actual question came as ‘define information.’ When this is brought to light, it becomes clear that biological systems are not influenced by this dilemma.
The definition of information, according to Werner Gitt, implies semantics and syntax to be conveyed, as well as the capacity for abstraction. The difference between the lexical communication that constitutes the sole means of scientific publishing and the iconic communication of body language is the abstraction of meanings: a lexeme such as jump may convey meaning dependent on context. In the usual context, it evokes the image of a person propelling themselves by their legs into the air. In other contexts, it may convey the image of a speedometer suddenly moving to a higher reading. Abstraction allows a piece of information, dependent on the semantics and context, to convey a variety of meanings. Abstraction also draws the line between the workings of a biological system and the mathematical definition of information.
It is a convenient and widely used analogy to refer to the genetic makeup of an organism as information that is transmitted, read, and copied. It is certainly convenient to catalog the content of a genome in computer memory and transmit it electronically for research purposes. In vivo, however, the genome is not an abstract set of mere instructions. The molecules of DNA are physically involved in the cellular processes, so the analogy of a carpenter reading information off of a blueprint to build a house is not as accurate as the analogy of a music box playing a melody off of its spool. When one defines information and includes the feature of abstract symbols, the ‘information’ argument is moot: biological systems do not contain information in that sense.
The question remains as to how complexity could arise in biological systems. Ilya Prigogine’s Nobel Prize-winning work covers the means by which increased order (decreased entropy) can be achieved in open systems such as the biosphere. Complexity is not a far cry. As an example, weather consistently shows an increase in order and complexity simply by the input of energy via sunlight. A hurricane, for example, shows a huge increase in complexity. It is a rotating aggregation of thunderheads and a mass of cold, moist air that is guided by jetstream currents and packs an enormous punch. Thermodynamics is in effect the whole way through-as sunlight shines on the ocean, the lowest energy state is for some water to evaporate and rise into the atmosphere. When the air accumulates and cools, the thermodynamic solution is for the water to condense and fall back to earth, and the natural way for this to happen may involve the formation of a rotating storm system, tremendous winds, and drenching rain. If there could be no local increases in complexity, there would not be so much as a breeze. Biological systems are increases in complexity, but not increases in information in every technical sense of the word. In support of the natural increase in complexity that is possible in biological and other systems, one can make demonstrative proof, proof by contradiction, and proof by mathematical induction. The fossil record provides the first proof (this is not circular reasoning, as the authenticity of the fossil record may be verified by independent data). Proof by contradiction is supplied in the above paragraph. Mathematical proof is supplied by Ilya Prigogine. I have yet to see a creationist so much as analyze the diversification of humanity that has occurred (either in creationist history or scientific history) and prove that the diversification does not in fact constitute an increase in complexity, an increase in the content of the gene pool.
On the surface, the ‘information’ argument is a confounding and intriguing problem. When one sees it used in the context of creationism, one finds that the argument is powerful not because it is undeniably true, but only because a creationist will never accept a reply to it. One might talk of the existence of nylon digestion, a capacity that was developed in bacteria downstream of a chemical plant, found to be the result of a frameshift mutation in one of the existing metabolic pathways. The overall genetic content of the strain was increased, and a simple conjugation could have produced bacteria with both the original and the novel metabolic capacities. Still, the only acceptable answer to a creationist would be an example of the emergence of a completely new gene formed spontaneously by the convergence of random nucleotides, which of course does not happen. The ‘information’ argument indeed relies on abstraction: in a debate forum, where information implies whatever the creationist wants, the argument is impossible to handle. In explicit, written form, when everything is constrained by rigorous definition, one sees that thermodynamics in fact drives evolution. To anyone who insists that the universe is winding down into a monotonous heap of boredom: just look at the clouds.
Ed. note: A common sense example should suffice. Jerry Coyne, an evolutionist from the University of Chicago, reviewed Niles Eldredge’s recent anti-creationist book The Triumph of Evolution in the Chicago Tribune, 30 July 2000, pg. 4. Among other things, Coyne berated Eldredge for not mentioning ‘some of the classic and most powerful arguments for evolution [including] the nonfunctional eyes of cave organisms, which evolved from sighted creatures.’ Of course, this is a loss of information for eye function. What would be really impressive evidence for goo-to-you evolution would be fish gaining eyesight where there was no previous genetic information for eyesight. But Coyne’s example, like nearly all others given as convincing ‘proof’ of evolution, is a change in exactly the opposite direction required for evolution! See New eyes for blind cave fish? and Beetle bloopers. (Additionally, visit Q&A: Information theory, especially the articles by Dr Werner Gitt, who is a specialist in information theory, and Dr Royal Truman’s response to Dr Richard Dawkins. Both of these highly qualified scientists explain why information must be understood on a number of levels, rather than a simplistic statistics-only level.)
Please also see the article by Dr Jonathan Sarfati on The Second Law of Thermodynamics. In particular, he points out the difference between order and specified complexity, confused by Mr Cerutti and many other anti-creationists. [See also his two part response to thermodynamics criticisms by anti-creationist science writer Jonathan Sherwood: Part 1 and Part 2] Note also that Dr Sarfati is a Ph.D. physical chemist, so is qualified in the area, unlike Cerutti, who is just an undergraduate BioEngineering and Environmental Science student. However, the evolutionary origin-of-life expert Leslie Orgel is not as confused as Cerutti:
‘Living things are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals such as granite fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.’ [L. Orgel, The Origins of Life, John Wiley, NY, p. 189, 1973.]
In his article, Dr Sarfati also provides links to chapters of the book The Mystery of Life’s Origin by expert thermodynamicists Thaxton et al., which directly addresses the claims of Prigogine, who also produced only examples of order, not the specific complexity required for life.
It should be noted that when it suits them, evolutionists argue that life is nothing but chemicals, but then they claim that living things are exceptions to the laws of thermodynamics that describe the behaviour of chemicals (a position completely refuted by The Mystery of Life’s Origin). This shows the inconsistency of their materialistic religion.
One must wonder, if Mr Cerutti thinks that the origin of life is no problem for his evolutionary faith (despite all the problems documented in Q&A: Origin of Life), has he claimed the $1.35 Million (USD) The Origin-of-Life Prize?
Finally, Mr Cerutti is out of date about this new nylon digesting ability allegedly from a frame shift. New evidence shows that the ability was due to plasmids [e.g. K. Kato, et al., ‘A plasmid encoding enzymes for nylon oligomer degradation: Nucleotide sequence analysis of pOAD2’, Microbiology (Reading) 141(10):2585–2590, 1995.] In fact, more than one species of bacteria have the ability, residing on plasmids. This suggests that the information probably already existed, and was just passed between different types of bacteria.
All that would be needed to enable an enzyme to digest nylon is a mutation causing loss of specificity in a proteolytic (protein-degrading) enzyme. This may seem surprising—how would a loss of information create a new ability? Answer: enzymes are usually tuned very precisely to only one type of molecule (the substrate). Loss of information would reduce the effectiveness of its primary function, but would enable it to degrade other substrates, too. Since both nylon and proteins are broken down by breaking amide linkages, a change in a proteolytic enzyme could also allow it to work on nylon. If this process were continued, the result would be a general enzyme with a weakly catalytic effect on the hydrolysis of too many chemicals to be useful where much selectivity is required. To put it into perspective, acids and alkalis also catalyze many hydrolysis reactions, but they also lack specificity. Indeed, an inhibitor of a protein degrading enzyme also inhibits the action of the nylon degrading enzyme.
The principle is explained (for a different example) in the book Not By Chance by Israeli biophysicist Dr Lee Spetner. Yet another example of a ‘defect’ being an advantage, but totally irrelevant to evolution. Dr Spetner explains enzyme information in more mathematical detail in his response to the sceptic Dr Edward Max.
[Ed. note, 9 April 2004: Research has shown that the correct explanation for the nylon-eating enzyme produced on the plasmids is somewhat different from the previous two paragraphs. It also confirms that the frameshift idea is totally wrong. Rather, there seems to be a special mechanism that recombines parts of the genes in the plasmids in a way that is non-random. This is shown by the absence of stop codons, which would be generated if the variation were random. See The adaptation of bacteria to feeding on nylon waste.]