Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Information God

     I recently listened to a podcast from Houston Baptist University featuring Dr. Phillip Johnson, author of the book Darwin on Trial. Dr. Johnson is a retired law professor and is considered to be the founder of the Intelligent Design movement. While he has been widely criticized for some of his extreme viewpoints, I think that he makes an appealing case for information forming the basis for the way nature works. Information seems to stand behind all scientific phenomena, consequently, the idea of God as creator points to the fact that he may be considered to be the ultimate source of that information.
     It seems that everything that exists exhibits some sort of relationship to information. Therefore, it follows that, in the physical universe, all natural things gather and emit information that can be connotated in a scientific context. Whenever we embark on a scientific study of nature, then, we must attempt to discover the twofold structure of this information: 1.) What is this particular thing listening to? and 2.) What is it saying?
     Everything speaks and understands a "language" by which the information is transmitted or received. These languages are almost always based on the primary language of math. Each particular branch of science speaks its own language, which is, in turn,  is some sort of dialect of math. To fully understand a scientific principle, we must figure out the language behind it and calculate the math behind that. (This is frustrating for people like me who struggle with math and excel at language. We can see the code, but we are unable to decipher what it means.)
     A few examples are:
  • All living things are based on the structure of their specific DNA code, which is always formed in the geometrical shape of a double helix.
  • Birds heed the "call" to migrate from one specific location to another based upon the hours of daylight.
  • A molecule of an organic chemical may be represented by an equation of letters and numbers or as a geometric model.
  • Ants lay down chemical trails for their brethren to follow leading to a food source.
  • The laws of physics that describe how the various forces of nature work are quantified by mathematical formulas.
  • When astronomers observe the light/energy from far-off galaxies, they are able to deduce complex mathematical formulas that detail the nature of the universe itself.  
     Scientific study addresses the questions surrounding what these languages are saying, how they are transmitted and the math behind them. Philosophy and religion ask questions about where the languages come from, who or what is causing them to be spoken, whether or not they have meaning beyond physicality alone and why we are able to perceive them. Once we begin to assess these questions, we have moved from mere scientific study into something that stands behind science, a tenuous locality indeed. If nature is all there is, the languages are allusions at best. But if something exists that is greater than nature, something that is so great as to cause nature to exist, someone who Christianity calls "God" -- then the languages represent reality as well as the possibility of communication between God and mankind.
     In John chapter 1, the Apostle John declares that Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God, the one who has spoken all things into existence. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God...Through him all things were made..." (v. 1,3) Genesis 1 tells us that God spoke the universe into existence -- "and God said." This speaking of God, this expression of truth, became physical reality. The information upon which physical reality rests came directly and ultimately from the mind of God; it is an enactment of the Plan or Will of God. The Apostle John goes on to say that "In him was life;" for the information, once spoken, was either vitalized by the life that God alone can give, or it contributes in some way to that life.
     Proverbs 8:22-31 details the way information (or, Wisdom) facilitates the created order. It originates with God -- "the first of his works" -- before the universe is made, because it is the foundation upon which all creation was to be built. This information delineated the specifics set for the oceans, springs of water, mountains, hills and soil. (v. 22-26) As God spoke the heavens and the earth into reality, Wisdom/information directed what happened or what came about in very precise ways. (v. 27-29) But verses 30 and 31 go on to describe this a little differently. Just like John 1 tells us, the information is God personified -- he is the "craftsman" who creates with joy; he is the one who delights in or loves the people he has made.
     And this is the point where we come full circle in this sort of "information theory" of creation. Because God created out of his love for us, he has bestowed upon us the ability and desire to read and understand the information. Though our image of God, our innate connection with God, we have been given the privilege discovering and interpreting the languages of the cosmos. We must be careful not to take this position lightly. Far too many of us live as if the information doesn't matter, or that it is not worthy of our attention. If we live our lives ignoring the things that God has said, we will be living in a small and dreary world. The light of creation shines on the soul through the lamp of the mind.
     In addition, God has given us verbal information through his word in written form, the Bible. The truths on its pages agree and correlate with words that formed the world, and we must learn to bring the two together. And through the power of redemption, God gave us himself -- Jesus Christ, the living Word, who brings us back into relationship, connection and communication with God. This spiritual connection gives us the greatest and most worthwhile information, the truth of God that sets us free to live unbounded and unfettered by sin and sorrow.
     Yet, in the end, it will all come down to the declaration of the resurrected Lord: "Behold, I make all things new!" A unlimited wealth of information waits to be revealed in the new created order. In Heaven, we will delight in, explore, discover and even develop the inexhaustible possibilities of a perfect existence. Our eternal life with Christ will be living in the ever present and new reality of "knowing and being known" by God who knows all, explains all, and loves without limits.    

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