Random chance brings meaning

From: mortongr@flash.net
Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 15:06:26 EDT

  • Next message: bivalve: "Re: Random processes create meaning"

    Anti-evolutionists have constantly contended that random processes can not bring about the complex systems we see today. People like Gary Parker wrote:

    "If evolution is true, there must be a universal prinicple operating in nature that brings organization to random systems and adds information to simple systems. Over the ages, if evolution is true, primeval particles have evolved into molecules and galaxies, inorganic chemicals have developed into living cells..." ~ Henry M. Morris and Gary E. Parker, What is Creation Science?, (El Cajon: Master Books, 1987), p. 12

    Gish erroneously wrote:
    "The highly specific biological activity of each protein is due to the precise way the amino acids are arranged, just as the information conveyed by this sentience is determined by the precise sequence of the 190 letters found in it." ~ Duane Gish, "The Origin of Life," Proc. First Inter. Conf. on Creationism, Vol. 1, (Pittsburgh: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), p.62

    Davis and Kenyon wrote:
    "As a unit of functional information in the cell, a coding gene is much like a word( a unit of meaningful information) in a book. What do you think would happen if we randomly changed the letters in some of the words in this book? Would the book be improved? On the contrary, it is probable that random changes in the words of this book would decrease rather than increase the meaningful informationthey carry." ~ Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon, Of Pandas and People, (Dallas: Haughton Publishing Co., 1993), p. 66

    Phillip Johnson wrote:

    "The theory that a combination of random genetic changes and natural selection has the power to create complex plants and animals from bacteria is also more a philosophical doctrine than an empirical one, being supported only by evidence of relatively trivial variation within pre-existing types such as is involved in the breeding of domestic animals. " What (If Anything) Hath God Wrought?
    Academic Freedom and the Religious Professor

    And A.E. Wilder-Smith wrote:

    Thus Neodarwinian thought requires basically the prebiotic autoorganization of raw matter (which the second law categorically excludes), the creation of information by random deviations (which information theory categorically forbids), the encoding of information by chance (without the help of exogenous code conventions), the storage of information by chance and its retrieval also by chance. " A. E. Wilder-Smith, The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution, (San Diego: Master Books, 1981), p. 65

    We are going to test these ideas, that random sequences can't create information. And if genes are like words and sentences and Kenyon and Davis claim, then I will show that random sequences CAN create information.

    Suppose you are a radioman in the army and are asked to encode instructions for a battalion and then transmit it. For years one of the most secure codes was the Vignere code. The Enigma machine used by the Germans used a variant of it. Basically, it is a complexification of the secret code used by Julius Caesar. IN a Caesar cipher, the letters of a message are encoded by use of a shift. It would look like:

    letter a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z
    code d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z,a,b,c

    The word 'hat' would be coded as kdw. These codes were secure until the middle ages when the Arabs learned how to crack them. The world then moved to the Vignere code in which uses a keyword to encode the message. The keyword is used to chose the Caesar cipher which will encode ONLY one letter. The codes are shown below:
    letter a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z
    code 1 b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z,a
    code 2 c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z,a,b
    code 3 d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z,a,b,c
    code 26 z,a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y

    For instance a keyword bdz to encode the message 'hat' will use Code 1 for the letter h and encode it as an i, it will use code 3 for a and encode it as a d and code 26 and encode the t as a w. Thus, in the code, hat becomes idw. Since there are 26 codes and one must know the code word to decode the message. Messages encoded with random keywords are fairly secure. However, as the example below will show, there someone trying to crack one of these codes has a real problem.

    So, back to the trenches. You have been ordered to encode a message and you look select the keyword of the day. It is:


    which is a random series of letters. You then encode the message


    by the method outlined above (spaces are removed from these messages to make them more secure I will capitalize the first letter of each decoded message to aid the reader in reading them) and it becomes,


    As you are sending the message, your enemy listens in and collects the above sequence. He wants to know what you are going to do, but he doesn't have the keyword. So, he starts trying to decipher the message by use of random keywords to see if any meaninful sentences come out of your message. He tries the keyword


    and lo and behold, he decodes the message 'DefendTheHillAtSunset'. He runs off to tell his commander that the enemy will defend the hill tonight having no knowledge that the enemy will attack at dawn. The commander doesn't believe the cryptologist and sends him back to try again. This time the cryptologist uses the random keyword:dgjgbfrcjhikswlrxpcfs and obtains the message, 'MyWifeSpendsMoneyFast'. He knows better than to take that to his commander. so he plods on trying dgyuoijekmtcrvspprbdz and wonders if his wife is speaking about him as the message now reads, 'MyHusbandIsaNoGoodBum'. Trying
    dgclajwoluskxifruujqt and discovers that the message says, 'MyDogAndCatsHateBaths'. Trying again, he tries the keyword wxbzpfrjkqyjxigtvhatu and discovers the message now telling him 'ThePresidentHasCancer'. He then tries yamxcjqyubeycafxvbjkh and finds the message saying,'RetreatToTheCityAtOne'. Then he tries the keyword, tayolffejizlahywwvsx and gets, 'WeHaveOneMoreBazookas'. Trying wxbcgaaagutswxnrsnulthag as a keyword he gets 'TheMajorKilledHimself' and trying daugorjrardcneukkfukf he gets 'MelissaAndIAreEloping'

    Each one of these random strings brought meaning out of the encoded message. What this illustrates is that a complex system random events create interesting results. The encoding system has a keyword of 21 characters long, a message of 21 characters and 26 different codes. Thus this has approximately 68 interacting parts. The encoding system is complex. The decoding system is equally complex having the same 68 interacting parts. And with all this complexity, random sequences create meaningful english sentences, just not the sentence you originally intended.

    While I can't provide a mathematical proof of this assertion, every english sentence of 21 character length can be produced from a random keyword when that keyword is used against ANY 21 character encoded message. Randomness does create meaning.

    This is what anti-evolutionists miss when they talk about complex biological systems being unable to generate specificity or meaning as they define the term. This clearly demonstrates that randomness and meaning/specificity are not mutually exclusive as the authors above would want us to believe.

    I must give credit for the first two examples to Simon Singh, The Code Book, London: the Fourth Estate, 1999, p. 121-122

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