A recent paper by C.J. Hogan confirms what could be expected, that right
after the big bang, the universe was extremely poor in information. This
is of interest in connection with Howard Van Till's claim that God
gifted "biological systems", among other things, "from the beginning,
when the creation was brought into being from nothing", with all of the
capacities needed (H.J. Van Till, "Special Creationism in Designer
Clothing: A Response to 'The Creation Hypothesis'", PSCF 47 (1995),
The amount of meaningful or semantic information contained in a system
may be defined as the minimal length of an algorithm capable of
specifying it (M.V. Volkenstein, "Punctualism, non-adaptionism,
neutralism and evolution", BioSystems 20 (1987), 289). This would
exclude all features irrelevant for meaning or functionality. The
meaningful information contained in today's biosphere may be
approximated by a (purely theoretical) minimal set of genome parts
"streamlined" to include the code for whatever is really required for
the organisms represented in the biosphere, but nothing else. Its amount
is such that the improbability of its generation by random-variation /
natural-selection processes, starting with a prebiotic universe, is
In Howard's model, there are just two alternative possibilities to
account for the presence of this information: either: (A) it was given
by the Creator in "the beginning" and was somehow "stored" in the
prebiotic universe, or: (B) it emerged at least 10 billion years later,
at and after the beginning of life, without any external input of
information. (A) is what Howard seemed to prefer in the quote above,
which is contradicted by Hogan, while (B) looks at least as unlikely.
C.J. Hogan, "The Beginning of Time (Perspectives: Cosmology)", Science
295 (22 March 2002), 2223-2225, writes: "... The holographic principle
[L. Susskind, J.Math.Phys. 36 (1995), 6377] limits the amount of
information carried by quanta during inflation to less than [pi]/H^2 in
Planck units. This bound is greater than about 10^10 bits, but it is
certainly not infinite; indeed, the amount of information needed to
specify literally everything during inflation may be small enough to fit
onto a compact disc. The universe thus began with rather little
information, and practically all the complex structure we see now
developed from within in the absence of external influences. Entire
galaxies developed from almost structureless single quanta..."
(inflation would have occurred within the first 10^(-32) s after the big
bang; H is the Hubble constant).
This implies that a concept of "creation's functional integrity" must
assume that all of the biological information contained in the biosphere
emerged by self-organization, by random processes, out of nothing, and
in the absence of external influences. Biological systems, therefore,
cannot be counted among the entities "gifted, from the beginning, with
all of the capacities needed". So far, this doesn't even take into
consideration the fundamental distinction between the maximum
information carrying capacity, which Hogan talks about, and the
(smaller) functional information relevant for biological systems.
In "Creative Providence in Biology", PSCF 53/3 (Sept.2001), 179
(http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2001/PSCF9-01Ruest.pdf), I wrote regarding
the mechanisms of evolution: "The amount of information a biological
system can glean from the environment, by means of the process of
mutation and natural selection, is vastly insufficient, and this process
operates much too slowly... to date, the talk of 'emergence of
information by self-organization' is not supported by any relevant
theoretical, observational, or computational evidence and is therefore
rather vacuous." This applies to all genuine novelty during evolution,
and, a fortiori, to the origin of life.
In his "Does God Choose Among Hidden Options?" PSCF 54/1 (March 2002),
67, Howard suggests the synthesis of simple compounds like
glycolaldehyde in space as an indication that life could very well
emerge spontaneously. E.L. Shock, "Seeds of Life? (Astrobiology)",
Nature 416 (28 March 2002), 380 writes:
"... It appears that nearly every experimental scenario produces organic
compounds of some form... complex organic compounds should be expected
in any sector of the Solar System that is rich in volatile elements...
Studying the chemical building-blocks of life shows that they are
ubiquitous and can exist in the absence of life... it follows that
process-driven investigations into the emergence of life may need to be
cast in a different way, which takes into account the materials involved
but is not directly tied to them. This, I believe, is a major challenge
for the fledgling field of astrobiology."
And of more traditional origin-of-life research, we might add. The
presence of abiotic organic compounds doesn't even address the question
of biologically relevant coding/coded information. I eagerly await the
first appropriate publications in this "fledgling field" - which, during
the last 50 years, has not produced any results relevant for the
emergence of semantic information.
As the only solution to Howard's conundrum I could think of, I proposed
(in my paper quoted above) "God's hidden options".
Does anyone have a better suggestion?
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