Anchored by Truth from Crystal Sea Books - a 30 minute show exploring the grand Biblical saga of creation, fall, and redemption to help Christians anchor their lives to transcendent truth with RD Fierro

R.D.Fierro

The show features humor, engaging Christian fiction, and original music to encourage listeners to explore the Bible regularly and deeply. The programs are especially suitable for home schoolers, Bible study group leaders, youth pastors, and parents who want to have an innovative way to explore Biblical themes with their groups or families. read less

The Ten Commandments – Part 1 – Transcendent Moral Principles
3d ago
The Ten Commandments – Part 1 – Transcendent Moral Principles
Episode 205 – Ten Commandments – Part 1 – Transcendent Moral Principles Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: You saw what I did in Egypt, and you know how I brought you here to me … Now if you will faithfully obey me, you will be my very own people. The whole world is mine … Exodus, Chapter 19, verses 4 and 5, Contemporary English Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re excited to be with you. And we pray that you are having a year filled with joy and blessings, especially the joy of having a closer fellowship with our Lord Christ Jesus. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re going to start a new series. As just about everyone knows, the Christian faith in America has been subjected to more challenges in the last decade than probably in the first two centuries of the country’s existence. But, frankly, the challenges being brought against the Christian faith are nothing new. They started the moment the first believers began testifying about the risen Christ almost 2,000 years ago. But, as Jesus promised, the Christian faith has survived all the challenges brought against it. And it will survive those of today. Why? Because the Christian faith is true. So, to continue our exploration of the reason and evidence that demonstrate that Christianity is true, today in the studio we have RD Fierro who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, what is this new series that you have decided to launch? RD: Well, today I want to begin a discussion of a part of the Bible that is familiar to most people: the Ten Commandments. But I want to look at the commandments from a slightly different perspective. I think most people view the Ten Commandments as exactly that – commands given to us by God. But I wonder how many of stop and contemplate that God didn’t give us the commandments for His benefit. He gave them to us for our benefit. God gave us the Ten Commandments not just because He wanted to put restrictions or limits on His people but because He wanted His people to know how to live godly, productive, and joyful lives. And if we follow and obey the commandments they will enable us to do exactly that. VK: I think that is a very different perspective from the one that most people bring to the commandments. Eight of the Ten Commandments are generally phrased as negatives – “do not” or as in the King James Bible “thou shalt not.” In other words eight of the ten are prohibitions. They tell us what we’re not allowed to do. Only the 4th and 5th commandments are usually phrased as positive commands. In the King James Version the 4th commandment tells us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” and the 5th commandment says to “Honor thy father and thy mother.” But all of the others are some form of “thou shalt not” such as the 6th commandment which is “Thou shalt not kill.” So, all those “thou shalt nots” sure sounds like God is just putting limits on people. RD: But there are two important things that we should note right away. First, scholars and commentators have long noted that all of the commandments are both prescriptive and proscriptive regardless of how they are phrased in a particular Bible translation. Said slightly differently, all of the commandments tell us to do certain things even if the commandment is normally phrased as a “do not.” VK: I think we’re going to need an example of what you’re thinking about. RD: Well, let’s take a look at the 6th commandment which you quoted from the King James Version. In the KJV it says “thou shalt not kill.” In most of the modern translations like the New International Version or the English Standard Version that commandment is more accurately stated, “You shall not murder.” The prohibition is not that we are never to take a life but rather we are never to take an innocent human life. We are never to take a life where there is no just cause for doing so. Christian commentators and theologians have long noted that God even commanded capital punishment for certain crimes in the Old Testament so the KJV use of the word “kill” instead of “murder” is somewhat misleading in our day and age. VK: And Christian commentators and theologians have also often talked about a “just war” theory – that sometimes it is necessary for a nation to take up arms and use deadly force to defend itself or an innocent neighboring nation. But the point of the 6th commandment is that no one, governments included, are permitted to take the lives of human beings who have done nothing wrong – and that includes babies in the womb. Not even a government has the legitimate power to take away the life of a person who has not committed an act that merits the loss of their individual life. And certainly there is no way an unborn baby could ever do anything to warrant having its life sacrificed. RD: At any rate, the 6th commandment is usually phrased “you shall not or must not murder.” But this prohibition carries with it a clear prescription that we must do whatever is in our power to protect human life. So, the person who fails to throw a life preserver to someone who is drowning, when they have the capacity to do so, is violating the 6th commandment even though they may not have pushed the person into the water. The 6th commandment, like all the commandments, must be viewed as having both negative and affirmative aspects. VK: In effect, the 6th commandment is what underscores most, if not all, so-called “social justice.” We must endeavor to feed the hungry and provide care for those unable to care for themselves because to not do so would imperil their lives. RD: Exactly. Protecting innocent human life is a natural and necessary extension of the 6th commandment. Yet, how often do we hear the social justice warriors acknowledge that? VK: But even this simple example starts to show the real depth, breadth, and width of what the Ten Commandments are really all about. And when we start to approach the Ten Commandments from that perspective I begin to see what you are talking about. We often view the Ten Commandments as if God just wanted to put a limit on our ability to somehow be free or happy. But what God was really doing in the Ten Commandments was setting up the basis for people to have peaceful, productive, and purposeful lives and to be able to build supportive families and communities. RD: And that’s one of the big things that we want to get into during this series. God gave us the Ten Commandments for our benefit, not for His. God is infinite. He is without limits except those of His own righteous and holy character. Because God is perfectly righteous He cannot do anything evil or violate His own laws. His laws reflect His character. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfect in all His attributes. God is quite literally beyond need. God doesn’t need anything. God doesn’t lack anything. No one can give God anything He doesn’t already have. VK: After all, if you can speak the entire universe into existence with just a word what is it that anyone or anything could give you? RD: Exactly. So, God did not need to issue the commandments to somehow make His existence better. He gave the Ten Commandments to us to make our world and our lives better. And that is the reason that, while other parts of the ancient Hebrew laws are no longer necessary or applicable to our lives today, the Ten Commandments still are. VK: I think that this is an area where there is a lot of confusion among Christians. Many people may not know that the laws that God gave to Moses on the mountain go beyond the Ten Commandments. They may not know that Levitical code addressed a wide variety of subjects that applied to the lives of the ancient Hebrews with a great deal of specificity. I think many people may be generally aware that the Old Testament contains prescriptions and proscriptions beyond those in the commandments but I don’t think many people know much about them. And, frankly, even when we read about them in our Bibles they just seem so odd or strange to modern readers we just have a tendency to gloss over them. What is the modern reader to make of the extensive instructions for building the tabernacle in the latter chapters of the book of Exodus or the instructions to priests about checking mold in houses in Leviticus? RD: Agreed. There are many parts of the Old Testament that are strange to us when we read them the first time. But all of them are important for our understanding of the Bible and many of them provide solid evidence that the books of the Bible are accurate historically and consistent with what we know about human history. Broadly speaking the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, are often called the “Law” when referring to the composition of the Old Testament. The Jews divided what we call the Old Testament into 3 sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The first five books were the “Law” but obviously they contain subjects beyond rules and regulations such as history and even poetry. VK: And, apart from the first five books of the Old Testament, there is a different order between the books of the Hebrew Bible and that of most current Bibles. The subdivision called the “Prophets” consisted of eight books in the following order: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve which we call the Minor Prophets. The “Writings” consisted of eleven books in this order: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. The Book of Ruth moved around. It was originally placed before the Psalms, but in the Middle Ages it was relocated next to the other smaller books, such as Song of Solomon and Esther. RD: So, the term “Law” sometimes is used to refer to the first five books of our Bible. In that sense “law” was essentially a literary organizational term. But the term “law” also applied to the fairly large body of specific rules and regulations that governed the daily lives and their religious practices of the ancient Hebrews. In that sense it was a legal term though of course their law governed religious practices in addition to prescribing civil codes of conduct (which is how we typically think of the word “law” today). And it is from that use that much of the confusion arises about what rules and regulations were applicable only to the ancient Hebrews versus what rules continue to apply today. Broadly speaking, the Old Testament “law” consisted of 3 different bodies of regulations: ceremonial laws that governed religious practices, civil laws that governed their society in a manner similar to how our civil law applies today, and enduring or transcendent moral and ethical principles. VK: And the Ten Commandments are enduring transcendent moral principles. In other words when God pronounced them God intended for them to apply to all people at all times. But this differentiated them from the ceremonial laws that governed the ancient Hebrew religious practices especially their system of sacrifices and festivals. The sacrificial system that was codified after the Israelites left Egypt had one specific purpose. It pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice that God Himself would make when He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross to save His people from their sins. During the Old Testament period the sacrificial system was necessary to point to an ultimate atoning sacrifice that was still forthcoming. But, as the writer of the book of Hebrews takes such pains to point out, Christ Jesus fulfilled perfectly the need for that atoning sacrifice. So, the old sacrificial system is no longer necessary. It has fulfilled it purpose. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “The Law teaches that offerings and sacrifices must be made because of sin. But why did Christ mention these things and say that God did not want them? Well, it was to do away with offerings and sacrifices and to replace them. This is what he meant by saying to God, ‘I have come to do what you want.’ So we are made holy because Christ obeyed God and offered himself once for all.” RD: Right. Christ’s life and death fulfilled the requirements of the Old Testament sacrificial system so the ceremonial portions of the law are no longer necessary. Similarly, the civil portions of the Old Testament law were largely intended to provide a basis for the civil government of the Israelites after they left and Egypt and settled into the Promised Land in Palestine. Speaking precisely the civil portions of the law was intended for a theocratic amphictyony and then a theocratic monarchy. VK: A what? RD: A theocratic amphictyony – broadly speaking an amphictyony is an association of neighboring states or tribes that act cooperatively for their common interest. Specifically, AMPHICTYONY most often referred to the association of neighboring states in ancient Greece to defend a common religious center. Remember, that for the first four-hundred years after the Israelites left Egypt there was no king in Israel. The individual tribes based on the patriarchal sons of Jacob/Israel largely governed themselves and they only came together when threatened by common enemies. VK: In fact, Judges, chapter 21, verse 25 tells us “In those days [after the exodus] Israel wasn't ruled by a king, and everyone did what they thought was right.” RD: Well, we don’t live in either a theocratic amphictyony or a monarchy. We live in a constitutional republic. As such our civil laws are enacted and enforced by elected representatives and executives not by appointed priests or hereditary descendants of a particular family. As such many of the laws that applied directly to the lives of the ancient Israelites no longer apply to us today. VK: And we should note that many of the those laws were specifically intended for an agrarian culture where the overwhelming bulk of economic activity centered on farming and animal husbandry. Our economy still has an important agricultural component and we have some civil laws that govern it. But we need laws that govern modern forms of transportation, information acquisition and delivery, health care, etc. Our civil laws certainly mimic or echo some of what applied in ancient Israel but the specifics have obviously changed to accommodate changes in technology. RD: Yes. And we should note that one of the reasons that we are going to such pains to explain the different components of the Old Testament law is because many critics of Christianity will try to take parts of the Bible out of context to denigrate and denounce Christianity. I’ve heard or seen mockers say something like, “well, I’d like to be a Christian but I’m not sure I can be because I often wear clothes made of polyester and cotton and I like to plant peppers and tomatoes in the same bed.” VK: You’re alluding to Leviticus, chapter 19, verse 19 which says, “Breed your livestock animals only with animals of the same kind, and don't plant two kinds of seed in the same field or wear clothes made of different kinds of material.” That’s from the Contemporary English Version. The mocker wants to demean all of Christianity by taking admonitions that were given to a very specific group for a very specific purpose and then trying to turn those narrowly intended instructions into broader moral principles RD: Yes. The mocking and the criticism can be easily refuted when you understand the composition of the Mosaic law and the Levitical code but I’m afraid not many Christians in our day and age can draw the necessary distinctions. But the big point that we need to focus on for today is that the Ten Commandments were never designed to be set aside. There will never come a time when they have outlived their purpose because their purpose was to establish the basis by which people should relate to God and to each other. In fact, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the Ten Commandments – or at least the truths set forth in them - form the value structure for all stable civil society. VK: That’s a big statement and, especially today, there would be a lot of people who disagree with it. I mean the first commandment is “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” That’s from the English Standard Version. But, there are obviously billions of people around the world who don’t worship the God of the Bible yet who live in communities that many classify as being stable. RD: That’s true that they would say their communities are stable even though they don’t worship the God of the Bible. And while we don’t have time today to get into all the nuances of the first commandment let’s at least take a moment to consider some. In the first commandment God was certainly proclaiming that He was the one True God but that was not all He was doing. He was also establishing a basis for His authority and, in turn, for all earthly authority structures. Note that God gave the Hebrews an immediate reason that should obey the commandments and in giving that He alluded to the ultimate reason for all authority. VK: The immediate reason He gave them for obeying Him was because He had just delivered them from being slaves to cruel masters. What you’re saying is that before God ever gave the Ten Commandments He said, in effect, to them “Look I’ve just delivered you from slavery in Egypt. That proves my love and concern for you. Now I’m going to give you some commands that will make your lives better and you can be sure of my desire for you live good lives because I’ve just shown you that’s what I want to do.” In other words, God proved His love for them before He presented His commands to them. The commands God gave were, and are, no less a manifestation of God’s love than His delivery of them from slavery. RD: Yes. God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt because He loved them. He gave them the Ten Commandments because He loved them. And one display of His love was His concern that they understand that life is best lived in acknowledging Him as the source of all order and blessing. The first commandment points out that the God who delivered them was also the God that created them, their world, and the universe. The first commandment should draw our attention to the fact that all things in creation originate with God and frankly will ultimately have to give an account to Him. The first commandment was a succinct way of saying “don’t content yourself with worshipping any lesser beings or things. Confine your worship to the One who can actually help you and to the one that orders all things on the earth as well as in heaven.” VK: The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear that all authority on earth originates with God. In Romans, chapter 13, verse 1, Paul said “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” That’s from the New International Version. RD: Yes. So, even people who live in communities or countries that do not worship the God of the Bible still have governmental authority structures. They have to if they want to remain stable. Countries without functioning governments always descend into anarchy which is never good for ordinary people. Some governments are tyrannical and others are benign. But some kind of authority structure is necessary for human beings to live in reasonable peace, safety, and harmony. So, when God gave the commandments He established that principle right up front by saying that He was the ultimate authority for all human affairs whether religious, family, social, civil, or economic. VK: I see why you want to do this series on the Ten Commandments. We tend to think of them as just being a list of a couple of “do’s” and mostly “do not’s.” But the implications of the commandments literally affect every area of our lives. RD: Absolutely. And the fact that the commandments transcend time, cultures, and nations is powerful evidence that they were given by an omniscient God who knew what was best for the creatures He created. And that’s an idea we’re going to stress over and over in this series. VK: So, the big idea that we wanted to introduce today is that God did not proclaim the Ten Commandments to make our lives more difficult or His existence better. He gave us the Ten Commandments so that we will know how to live better, more joyful, and more meaningful lives. And, frankly, if we’re so foolish as to disregard the commandments the only ones that we will be hurting will be ourselves. Well, sounds like we’re in for another thought-provoking expedition. Hopefully, not too many headaches. This sounds like a great time to pray. Since we have just been talking about the fact that all earthly authorities are established by God, today let’s listen to a prayer for our government officials especially that they would be good stewards of the authority that God has placed in their hands. They, like all of us, will ultimately have to give an account to God for how they used that authority. ---- PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the Contemporary English Version) Exodus, Chapter 19, verses 4 and 5, Contemporary English Version Why Is There a Threefold Division of the Hebrew Canon? (Law, Prophets, Writings) by Don Stewart (blueletterbible.org)
Eternal Information – Part 12 – Confidence
21-03-2023
Eternal Information – Part 12 – Confidence
Episode 204 – Eternal Information – Part 12 – Confidence Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: I will destroy my people because they are ignorant. You have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be my priests. Hosea, chapter 4, verse 6, God’s Word Translation ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re so happy that you’re with us here today on Anchored by Truth as we wrap up a series we called “Eternal Information.” This has been a fascinating series because during it we have talked about yet another way we can be assured that God is the creator of everything. Today, as we conclude and summarize what we’ve covered in the series we have RD Fierro back in the studio. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, we use information every day and we take its existence for granted. But information could not exist if the universe consisted only of matter and energy could it? RD: No. It couldn’t. But before we go to much farther I would also like to welcome everyone and thank them for joining us as we close out this rather extensive view of information. Simply put, information only exists where there is intelligence. Information is an organized system of units or symbols capable of containing or conveying purpose or meaning. I know that sometimes subjects like the laws of information and how information is necessary for life can seem pretty far removed from what people think about when someone mentions the Bible or Christianity or faith. But that’s why we opened our episode today with that quote from the Old Testament prophet Hosea. Hosea makes the link between knowledge and service to Christ abundantly clear. VK: Just to be sure we’re clear, our opening scripture for this episode was Hosea 4:6 which says, “I will destroy my people because they are ignorant. You have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be my priests.” That’s from the God’s Word Translation. The New International Version puts it this way. “… my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests …” RD: Yes. God is speaking in that verse. And God is saying that because his people – in this case the inhabitants of Old Testament Israel – have rejected the knowledge of His law, He is going to reject them as serving as His priests. A priest was someone who represented the people before God. VK: A prophet was someone who represented God before the people. Conversely, a priest was someone who represented the people before God. RD: And in this verse God is connecting knowledge with service to Him. He is specifically saying that He wants His people to possess knowledge of Him and His law for them to be qualified to represent Him before the nations. Jesus would later say the same thing from a slightly different perspective when He said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. VK: That’s the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, verse 30. In the New Living Translation that verse says, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” RD: Yes. Jesus was telling His audience that God wants us to love and worship God with our entire beings. Yet, in our contemporary church all too often we focus almost exclusively on the hearts of believers and not their minds. And while it is certainly true that we must always be concerned about appealing to people’s hearts, we must never ignore their minds. If we do so, we are not only ignoring a specific command of the Lords but we are also denying them an important, and maybe the most important source of spiritual power. VK: The command you are thinking about is Romans, chapter 12, verse 2 which says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” That’s from the New International Version. So, the command is very clear. We are not to be conformed to “the pattern of this world.” And the way we avoid that is by being transformed “by the renewing of your mind.” But why do you say that if we don’t follow this command we may be sacrificing a source of spiritual power? RD: Because any and all spiritual power that a Christian ever possesses must come from God. By ourselves we are totally at the mercy of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Simply put if are not connected with God, united with God, we are going to be adrift in the world like a boat without an anchor. VK: That’s why we call this show Anchored by Truth. And why we open every episode by encouraging people to anchor themselves to the only true source of eternal life the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God – the Bible. RD: Amen. Back to our verse from Hosea – God said that He would reject the people who reject knowledge – specifically the knowledge of his law. God’s law is contained in the Bible. Then our verse from Romans tells us to renew our minds so we won’t be conformed to the pattern of this world. Flip that verse around. It warns that if we don’t “renew our minds” we will wind up being conformed to the pattern of this world. No one can be conformed to the pattern of this world and possess God’s power. And if we don’t possess God’s power we will not have the ability to remain godly in a godless world. VK: You know this may very well be what the Apostle Paul was warning his disciple Timothy about in 2 Timothy. In 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verses 4 and 5 Paul warned Timothy that a day was coming when people would “… betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.” That does seem to be a characteristic of our age. RD: Sadly, it is and I am firmly persuaded it is because so many Christians in our day and age don’t want to make the investment in their faith of understanding not only its content but also its intellectual underpinnings which includes subjects like apologetics. In the most basic sense apologetics is simply the area of study that teaches us how to be confident in our faith – confident that God exists, confident that the Bible is God’s word, and confident that the lies that the world pushes are not true. VK: And in our last episode of Anchored by Truth we spent the whole episode talking about doubt – about how doubts can sometimes seem so real and yet doubt has little to no informative value. RD: Right. So, I wanted to close out this series on information with the positive side – how the study of apologetic systems and approaches, including the study of areas like information, can increase our confidence in our faith. Let’s face it. Today the shifting tides of cultural chaos are surging around us. In fact in many ways we are dealing with a tsunami of cultural dysfunction. And you can couple that with the fact that people in the church are regularly confronted with what I would label denominational deviance. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that in Christ, through the renewing of our minds and our commitment to the truth of His word, we are more than overcomers. The really good news about Christianity is that it is true. So, even when Christians feel doubt that does not change the fact that they are still saved eternally because of Jesus’s finished work on the cross. VK: And what we want at Anchored by Truth is for our listeners, everyone really, to experience the confidence and peace of knowing that fact. But the world these days does not make that easy. Today the world attempts to raise innumerable barricades to block the “narrow gate” that opens to salvation. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 13 and 14 Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” That’s from the New Living Translation. RD: And today those barricades inevitably start with informational questions. If the universe and earth are billions of years old how can Genesis chapter 1 be true? What evidence is there that there was ever a worldwide flood? If Moses wrote all of the first five books of the Bible why did he use different names for God? How could the prophets in the Bible have information about the distant future? Today, informational questions are thrown at believers not just daily but every time they turn on a TV, look something up on the internet, or enter a classroom. It can be a lot for people to have to overcome. VK: But we don’t have to overcome the world. Jesus has already done that for us. In the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 33 Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” That’s also from the New Living Translation. RD: Right. Jesus has overcome the world. But one of the ways He overcame the world is by giving us His word which is always available to strengthen and comfort us. And another way He overcame the world is by giving us the ability to make observations about the world around us and think logically about what we can see. And when we do so, we see that without God the world we know could not exist in the absence of a supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent Being who could create everything and impart the ability to observe and reason to the creature He created in His own image. VK: We then can pose our own questions. If the universe is eternal why do the laws of thermodynamics tell us that the universe will one day run out of energy? If galaxies and stars can form from interstellar clouds of dust why do scientists tell us that 85% of the matter is “dark” meaning we cannot see it or detect it? If living creatures are the result of the random collision of inanimate particles why can’t supposedly intelligent people create life in a laboratory from non-living chemicals? How did 100 billion atoms of just the right type collide all of a sudden at just the right place and form the first cell? And how did that collision occur when there was just the right energy source available to provide the energy necessary for it to feed, live, and reproduce? So, Christians have our own set of questions that need answering before we would need to accept the Big Bang and evolution as being the best explanation for why the universe is the way we see it. RD: And that brings us back to what we have learned in this series on information. Information is present in the universe and in our own experience but information is not created, and does not interact, with matter or energy. Apple trees produce apples. Orange trees produce oranges. Dogs produce puppies. Cats produce kittens. Like produces like. Information is massless and non-material. So, material causes cannot produce a non-material phenomenon. And information is not present if intelligence is not present. Therefore the non-material source that gives rise to information must also be intelligent. VK: And, unless you acknowledge the existence of God, that would be a big enough conundrum all by it. But we also see information present in living creatures. DNA is not just an information storage and organization system but it is one that is far more complicated than any information system yet created by man. The human body produces somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 individual proteins but human DNA only contains about 20 to 25,000 genes. To produce all those individual proteins the genes within DNA must sometimes act in concert with one another. So, the 1st level of information within DNA is the information that is simply stored in the sequence of DNA “letters” – the 4 different kinds of bases that are the letters of the genetic code. But the 2nd level of information within DNA is the information that is stored when various sections of DNA actually interconnect with one another to perform additional functions. RD: And there is a 3rd level of information stored in DNA which results from the 3-D configuration with which DNA is stored within a cell. A single strand of human DNA contains about 3 Billion base pairs and would be 6 feet long if it were uncoiled. But it is present within the 30 to 40 trillion cells in a normal adult. To store the DNA molecule it is folded into a complicated shape and yet we find out that the folded shape also provides information to the cell to enable the cell to carry out its functions properly. Moreover, there is a 4th level of information that DNA supplies which is that as we go through our lives how DNA behaves actually changes. It is, in effect, a dynamic reprogramming system that functions throughout our lives. This is a level of information sophistication that has never been achieved in any human information system. VK: And all of this sophistication isn’t even the end of how amazing DNA really is or how it performs. DNA has its own unique repair system because every time we go out into the sun we are bombarded with minute amounts of cosmic radiation that would decimate our DNA if it could not repair itself. But it can. And the scientists who explored that repair system won a Nobel prize for their discovery. Furthermore, there are delicate and sophisticated motors that carefully control the DNA replication process. If these motors didn’t precisely guide the unraveling of the double helix it would be a tangled mess that would never allow it to be duplicated. And a creature that can’t duplicate its DNA wouldn’t live very long. And all of this informational complexity is present just within the DNA system. We haven’t even begun to address RNA, protein construction, how the cell’s permeable membrane is built. This cellular sophistication generates an entirely new set of questions that a world that doubts God can’t answer. RD: Exactly. The more we probe into the mysteries of life the more we realize the inadequacy of the answers that the God-alternatives provide. It’s impossible to explain the existence of intelligence in a universe that would be comprised of only matter and energy. That would make intelligence the product of random chaos. I can’t think of many things that are more unreasonable. But, even if somehow, a godless science could answer those questions we then get into the question of the supernatural intelligence which is displayed in the Bible. VK: The Bible is a unique book. It was written by over 3 dozen authors over a period of 1,500 years but it contains a unified message about creation, fall, and redemption. Yet it presents that message while giving people information about living better lives, managing money, overcoming troubles, raising families, and organizing a more fair and responsible society. If the only information we gained from the Bible was by reading it from left to right, front to back it would be an amazing work. But besides the pragmatic information the Bible contains it also contains an unparalleled body of prophetic information. RD: Indeed – or as I sometimes say in our Life Lessons - exactamundo. VK: Exactamundo – again. Really? RD: Really. The body of accurate prophetic information in the Bible is enormous. Moses wrote the 1st five books of the Bible besides leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. But in addition Moses was also a prophet. He gave several prophecies that would later come true in the future of the Israelite nation and Moses foretold the future arrival of the Messiah. David was the 2nd king of the Jewish nation and in many ways its most successful king but he was also a prophet. God revealed to David that the coming Messiah would be David’s descendant which is why the Jews were so focused on whether or not Jesus was a “son of David.” David wrote several Messianic psalms including Psalm 22 which describes a crucifixion experience before that method of execution was used. He also wrote Psalm 110 where he prophesied that the coming Messiah would be a king and priest combined like the Old Testament figure Melchizedek. Only Jesus every satisfied this criteria. VK: The prophet Isaiah provided the name of the Persian emperor who would release the Jews from the Babylonian captivity 150 years before Cyrus arrived on the world scene. He also prophesied that a confederation of Israel and Syria would fail in their attempts to conquer Jerusalem which they did. And he prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Daniel was a Hebrew captive of the Babylonians but he named a series of 4 empires that would dominate the Middle East for over 500 years and the series unfolded just as he said. And Daniel gave the famous prophecy of “seventy weeks” which actually foretold the exact day Jesus would enter Jerusalem just prior to his death. RD: Right. By studying the Bible carefully we see that there was prophet after prophet that was inspired by God and gave the world information about the future that only an eternal God who sees all of history accurately could possess. Men can’t predict the weather more than a few days out but God gave His prophets names, places, and events centuries ahead of time. As we said during this series if natural information requires the presence of natural intelligence, supernatural information requires the presence of supernatural intelligence. And the Bible’s evidence of supernatural intelligence isn’t just contained within its pragmatic and prophet information. It’s also contained within the interconnected details we can see between the Old and New Testaments. We covered some of that in our 10th episode in this series and used the example of Melchizedek to illustrate this point. VK: So, the point that we have tried to make in this series is by applying ourselves just a bit we can overcome the stumbling blocks that the world, the flesh, and the devil would like to place in our path to the narrow gate that leads to salvation. Satan manufactured the fall out of a seed of doubt. But God has given us the ability to think clearly to refute those doubts and approach our lives with a spirit of confidence in our faith, in our Bible, and in our God. But as we started out saying we do have to embrace this knowledge to acquire this confidence. RD: Well, as you have said, “God expects us to do our own homework.” That I think is part of what Jesus referred to when he admonished his followers to take His yoke on their own shoulders. Now, His yoke is easy and His burden is light but it is not non-existent. We live in a fallen creation. We face a hostile world. And the Devil roams about looking for people to devour. We can’t change any of that. But what we can do is what Jesus asks us to do – love Him and the Father with all our soul, hearts, strength, and minds. I am always struck by the fact that when Jesus gave that commandment He used an “and” and not an “or.” Jesus didn’t say to love God with our hearts “or” our minds but with them both. We have free will. We can obey Him or not obey Him. What we can’t do is disobey Him without consequence. VK: People have good, solid reasons based in science and fact to believe in God and the Bible but all too often we seem to be willing to embrace the doubts without being willing to do what it takes to change that doubt into confidence. They will cling to discredited ideas about the universe popping into existence from nothing and living creatures spontaneously arising from pond scum and scarcely ever express doubts or reservations. We want to help people understand there is no need to do that. Information, accurate information, is the antidote to the poison of doubt. The stakes for us not doing so are truly eternal and – worse – for the mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers their unwillingness to set a positive pattern can affect many other lives. None of us should want to be like the people Hosea spoke to – where we risk being rejected as being a suitable witness for God because we wouldn’t embrace the knowledge that is readily available. This sounds like a good time to go to God in prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of for those people who place their lives and safety at risk to serve and save others. We should all be willing to exchange a bit of our time and entertainment to serve others by having the answers that could bring eternal life to our friends and family. ---- PRAYER FOR FIRST RESPONDERS VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the God’s Word Translation) Hosea, chapter 4, verse 6, God’s Word Translation
Eternal Information – Part 11 – Doubt
14-03-2023
Eternal Information – Part 11 – Doubt
Episode 203 – Eternal Information – Part 11 – Doubt Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. The Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 1, New King James Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re glad that you’re able to join us here today on Anchored by Truth. For several episodes now we have been working on a series we call “Eternal Information.” We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this series. If you have missed some of the earlier episodes we encourage you to go to our website crystalseabooks.com where they are all available. This has been a fascinating series because in it we have talked about yet another way where we can be assured that God is creator of everything in our universe. Today, in the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, we have spent a lot of time in this series discussing information because the existence of information – any information at all – pretty much assures us that the God of the Bible must exist. Do I have that right? RD: Absolutely. But before we go too far into our discussion I would also like to say hi to everyone and welcome them to Anchored by Truth. At Anchored by Truth we have one central focus – to help people discover or rediscover a basic truth: the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. But we cannot be assured that the Bible is the word of God unless we have first assured ourselves that God exists. You can’t very well believe in the Bible without first believing in God. And most Christians know that there is a branch of study called “apologetics” that focuses on demonstrating that God does, in fact, exist. VK: So, in that sense we might think of the study of information as a new apologetic approach. Studying information can complement other more widely know apologetic approaches such as the cosmological approach and the teleological approach. The cosmological approach to apologetics reasons that we can be sure that God exists because He is, and must be, the Ultimate Cause for the effect that we call the universe. The teleological approach reasons that since we can perceive design throughout nature, but especially in living creatures, that there must be a Designer behind all that design. Design requires a Designer. A created order requires a Creator. In a similar way all information requires the existence of intelligence. Information absent intelligence isn’t information at all. It’s just nonsense or gobbledygook. RD: Yes. That’s a great summary of why we started this series on information. I was prompted to dig into information by Dr. Werner Gitt’s book called In the Beginning was Information. The title is an obvious play on the first verse of the Bible and the book leads us to the very same point that Genesis 1:1 makes. In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. That’s the most succinct way of stating the cosmological apologetic approach that is possible. If we believe in God we don’t have to wonder where the heavens and the earth come from. If we don’t then we have to try to fashion some other explanation. VK: And of course people being sinful have tried to fashion alternatives. It’s just that those alternatives always wind up leaving the doubter with more questions than answers. God has fashioned His creation, His universe, in such a way that you can’t avoid noticing His work and His fingerprints. RD: And that’s a good introduction to the subject I want to tackle today: doubt. There are obviously many in our culture today who doubt the existence of God. Some are militant about it and write books and create theories and even gather large followings with their doubt. Others are more subtle or quiet about their doubts. And doubts about God are not uncommon even among Christians. But what I want to show everyone today is that, while doubts about the Bible or God are common, they are also not informative nor are they necessary. It is possible for us to develop such a deep understanding and awareness of God and His word that doubts will vanish like fog before a rising sun. VK: I’m not sure if that is good news or bad news. I think most people probably begin their Christian journey with some level of doubt. And I suspect that there are many who have been Christian for years or decades who still have doubts. Maybe not doubts about the existence of God per se but certainly doubts about parts of the Christian faith. RD: You’re absolutely right about doubts being pervasive even among people who identify as Christian. So, doubts are certainly not uncommon. But I’ll repeat myself. Even though doubts are common they are not necessary and it is possible to have the kind of Christian faith that does not doubt that God exists, the Bible is His word, and that God will never leave them or forsake them. This is a subject I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while but it fits in very nicely with the themes that we have been talking about in this Eternal Information series. We’ve talked a lot in this series about the fact that information is an essential component of our universe. VK: Because even if someone wanted to claim that our universe does not contain information they would be trying to communicate information to make their denial. RD: Yep. And information, as distinguished from matter and energy, is non-material. Information can be transmitted, received, or stored by matter and energy but the matter and energy do not affect the content of the information. VK: You can use the same note card to write a recipe for apple pie, or the instructions to build a submarine, or describe your feelings for a person you just met. The chemical composition of the pen and note card don’t control what goes on the card. RD: Right. Matter and energy may enable us to pass and receive information, but they don’t create the information. So, information is non-material and it also reflects intelligence. For information to exist then somewhere there must be a non-material source of intelligence. Otherwise we’re left with the proposition that information pops into existence like magical dust in a fairy tale. VK: Magical dust in a fairy tale – really? RD: We are so used to using information that we forget that everything we see or know about must have a point of origin. And as Dr. Jonathan Sarfati pointed out when he was here explaining the operation of a thing is quite different from explaining its origin. And that’s one of the weaknesses of our contemporary culture. We no longer build coherent world views that people once took for granted. As a consequence we have begun to embrace blatant contradictions that people would have once rejected out of hand. Never before in human history has there been a society that accepted the notion that men could become women or women become men. VK: Our culture seems to have a lot in common with the society to which Isaiah preached. In Isaiah, chapter 5, verse 20, God had Isaiah say, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah said that there were people in his country who had turned values on their head. They had gone beyond simple tolerance to trying to reclassify the differences between good and evil behavior. Of course, that’s always a futile effort. Just look what happened in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve tried to substitute their judgment for God’s. RD: Exactly. And it’s important to remember that all the mischief in the garden, and a great deal of subsequent mischief in humanity, began with doubt. VK: You know you rarely think about that but the very first thing that Satan did when tempting Eve was to introduce doubt into her mind. Satan didn’t start out with a direct temptation but he started out by trying to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness. In Genesis, chapter 3, the latter half of verse 1 records that Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Satan’s question was intended to sound almost innocent, as if he were seeking clarification. But Satan’s intent was clear. As various translations put it, Satan was “subtle” or “crafty.” Satan knew if he started out just contradicting God Eve might push back. So, he started with an indirect approach. He started by creating doubt. RD: And we see the fruit of that same phenomenon going on around us today. A lot of people don’t realize that when Charles Darwin released the early versions of his most famous work, Origin of the Species, that in the first two versions he made a reference that almost sounds Biblical. VK: In the 1st version of Origin Darwin wrote, in his Conclusion: “ … I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.” And, in the 2nd edition, Darwin added “by the Creator” to the end of the sentence. RD: Right. Now many commentators aren’t sure whether Darwin actually believed in some form of supernatural creator or whether his inclusion of this reference was a public relations maneuver – designed to avoid alienating the public even further from views he knew would be controversial. But we’re not really sure because Darwin never made his exact views public. But the point is this. The early versions of the book that set off the widespread embrace of evolution didn’t start out by directly refuting the book of Genesis. It just introduced doubt about whether Genesis needed to be accepted as history. That was the thin edge of the wedge that has turned into the evolutionary Grand Canyon. Today evolution is taught in virtually every class on biology, geology, or paleontology all around the world. Just like in the Garden of Eden just a bit of initial doubt has led an ark’s worth of mischief. But this series is about information so primarily what I want to point out today is something that we rarely think about. VK: Which is? RD: That doubt is not evidence and doubt is only useful information insofar as it gives us insight into the mind of the doubter. VK: I think we’re going to need some more ... information … on what you’re getting out. RD: Well, we started out today talking about the fact that doubts are not informative. In other words, doubts don’t provide anyone new or additional information unless we’re just talking about the doubter themselves. For instance, if someone tells us that they have doubts about God’s existence that tells us what they think but it doesn’t tell us anything about whether God actually exists. Doubts are doubts but that’s all they are. VK: So, what you’re saying that doubts don’t impart any real information about the subject that is really at issue. If someone goes to the doctor and tells the doctor they’re having stomach pains and they think they have cancer the doctor may respond “I doubt that.” But that really doesn’t give the patient any new information other than the doctor’s thinking at that moment. But, if the doctors says we’ve done blood work, various scans or procedures, and comprehensively reviewed your symptoms and there’s no sign of cancer, now the patient has new information. The doctor’s doubt may be of some comfort to the patient but it has little to no informative value. But the results of the blood work and scans does give the patient information that they can act upon. RD: Exactly. Doubts are minimally informative and they are never evidence that pertains to the substance of an issue. And yet in our society, and even within the church, we treat doubts as if the existence of the doubt actually had bearing on issues or facts. And that’s what I want to draw people’s attention to today. As a church we have to quit treating doubt, our own or others’, as if the existence of the doubt gives us reason to question our faith. VK: Which we do all the time. If we go into a room and someone says, “I doubt whether chapter 1 of Genesis is literal history” all of a sudden people in the room start wondering about Genesis. And their questions about the truth of Genesis will be magnified is others in the room also express the same doubts. Pretty soon people may become convinced that somehow chapter 1 of Genesis is questionable even if no one has given a single actual fact that would call the Genesis account into question. I think I see what you want us to focus on. We have a tendency in our culture to treat doubt – especially doubts about God or the Bible – as if they actually meant something. But they don’t. RD: My point is that doubt is meaningful to the doubter but there is no particular reason it should be meaningful to anyone else. Someone else’s doubts do not, or at least should not, have any impact on our own beliefs or faith. But all too often they do. And this should be true even when the doubts are dressed up in elegant language or supposedly expressed by authority figures such as college professors. We should not let the doubts of others color our own thinking except in one regard. VK: What’s that? RD: Doubt is ok as long as what the doubt does is serve as a launching point for our investigation of the truth. VK: So, if someone expresses doubt about the historicity of chapter 1 of Genesis and that prompts us to begin an exploration of the science and facts that can shed light on the question, that’s not a bad thing. Someone might tell us that chapter 1 of Genesis was never intended to be interpreted as history, only as a poetic expression of God’s creative attributes. So, we can then do research into the form of literature contained in Genesis 1, what various scholars have written about that chapter, or how Biblical figures, especially Jesus, view chapter 1. All of that research can yield actual information that can help us make an informed judgment for ourselves about the historicity of chapter 1. But far too often, we don’t do that. We simply receive the doubt and begin to let it color our own views. RD: Right. And that’s why I wanted to include this discussion about doubt in our series on information. We have talked extensively in this series about the fact that information has to do with the transmission of content for an intended purpose. Doubts alone are essentially devoid of content – again other than what they tell us about the doubter. If someone says, “I doubt that God exists because of thus and so,” then we can address the “thus and so.” But if someone just tells us they doubt whether God exists and doesn’t provide any explanation for why they have doubts then there is very little that we can do with that. Their doubts tell them and us that they have uncertainty about something – and of course we are concerned about uncertainties people have about God and the Bible. But their uncertainty does not give us any reason to accept their uncertainty into our own belief or faith. We can address reasons that people may feel uncertain, but all too often Christians treat the uncertainty, the doubt, of others as if the doubt possessed meaning, as if it had informational content. It doesn’t. VK: So, the point that we are trying to make in this episode is too often you will hear a Christian say something like “I didn’t question my faith until I went to college and found out other students had begun to question theirs.” There are legitimate questions about faith and the Bible that may arise and we need, as faithful followers of Christ, to be able and prepared to address them. But the doubts or questions others have are just that doubts and questions. We need to avoid the temptation to turn their leaden doubts into some kind of philosophical gold idol to which we must then pay homage. Sadly, though you see that happen continuously in our society and even in the church. “I didn’t doubt until my friends did” is all too often a common refrain. And as you have said, Satan manufactured the fall out of a seed of doubt. RD: Doubt is not informative except about the state of mind of the doubter. And what is true of the doubt an individual possesses does not make it more true for many, dozens, or thousands of individuals. Collective doubt has no more informative value about a question than does individual doubt. Truth is not determined by popular vote. Truth is that which corresponds to reality and doubt about the truth does not affect the truth at all. VK: It’s both sad and funny that the nature of reality, science, and logic confirm that life could not have arisen from non-living matter unless there was an outside force that acted upon the matter. Or, as Darwin himself said, “some … primordial form, into which life was first breathed …” Science tells us that physics plus chemistry does not equal biology. Only the information content present in DNA and other living machinery permits the transformation of physics plus chemistry into biology. That is an absolutely certain statement and yet doubt abound about it. Conversely, the General Theory of Evolution makes outlandish claims such as inanimate molecules organized themselves one day and turned into a cellular structure containing 100 billion atoms. Claims like bacteria turned into biochemists, the bacteria having arisen from a pre-biotic soup that covered the entire planet. But there is no evidence for the prebiotic soup even in the oldest dated rocks. And there is no way that random mutations could have enabled genetic information to escalate in complexity so much that it would turn a DNA molecule that contains 500,000 base pairs into human DNA molecule with its 3 billion base pairs. But you hardly ever hear anyone express doubts about a process that isn’t just improbable but scientifically impossible. But point out that the Bible provides a cogent explanation for everything that exists and doubts drop out of the heavens like raindrops during a hurricane. RD: Doubts dropping like raindrops – really? VK: Really. RD: But your point is well taken. People have good, solid reasons based in science and fact to believe in God and the Bible but they seem to be oh-so-willing to embrace the doubts about them even when no one provides a basis for the doubt. Yet, they will cling to discredited ideas about the universe popping into existence from nothing and living creatures spontaneously arising from pond scum and scarcely ever express doubts or reservations. And what we are trying to help people understand there is no need to do that. Information, accurate information, is the antidote to the poison of doubt. And it is high time for those of us who possess the accurate information about the truth of God, Genesis, and the Bible be willing to convey it and defend it. The stakes for not doing so are truly eternal. VK: This sounds like a time to go to God in prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of for those people who have eaten from the tree of doubt and allowed its bitter fruit to become a part of their lives. Today we’re all praying for those who need a new spiritual life in Christ Jesus. ---- PRAYER FOR THE SPIRITUALLY LOST VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New King James Version) The Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 1, New King James Version
Eternal Information – Part 10 – Supernatural Information Part 3
07-03-2023
Eternal Information – Part 10 – Supernatural Information Part 3
Episode 202 – Eternal Information – Part 10 – Supernatural Information Part 3 Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram ... Genesis, chapter 14, verse 18, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re so happy you’re able to join us here today on Anchored by Truth. For several episodes now we have been working on a series we call “Eternal Information.” We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this series. If you have missed some of the earlier episodes we encourage you to go to our website crystalseabooks.com where you can hear them. Today, in the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, what is the big idea that we have wanted to get across during this series. In other words, why spend so much time on a show devoted to the Bible to talk about information? RD: Well, before we get into our discussion I would also like to welcome everyone to today’s episode. At Anchored by Truth we have one central focus – to help people discover or rediscover a basic truth: the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. That truth is unfortunately disappearing in contemporary America and it’s having a devastating impact on our culture. Every other year since 2014 Ligonier Ministries in conjunction with Life Way Research has conducted a survey to explore what Americans think about God and the Bible. Their most recent survey and the results have, sadly, shown the continuation of some alarming trends – especially as it pertains to how Americans view the Bible. VK: And anyone who wants to see the results for themselves can view them at “thestateoftheology.com.” [THE STATE OF THEOLOGY dot com] RD: Yes. There is a lot of valuable information that comes out of the survey but one item that particularly caught my attention and is directly pertinent to what we do on Anchored by Truth was the result of this question. The researchers asked people whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: “The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but it not literally true.” VK: In other words, the researchers were asking people whether they believed the Bible was true. That’s really important to note. They weren’t asking whether people BELIEVED in the Bible. They were asking people whether they thought the Bible was true. This goes directly to the whole reason we do Anchored by Truth. You have often said that the church in the west made a disastrous turn years ago when Christians began insisting that we had a right to our beliefs but we stopped insisting that the Christian faith was true. RD: Yes. And the survey results are indicative of the consequences of the western church receding from an insistence that the Bible is true and teaches truth. The percentage of U.S. adults agreeing with the statement “The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true” went from 41 percent who agreed with it in 2014 to 53 percent in 2022. So, the percentage of U.S. adults who accept the Bible as being literally true declined by 12 percent in 8 years. Perhaps even more alarming is that the percentage of adults who would be classified as evangelical and who agreed with the statement rose from 17 percent to 26 percent – a 9 percent increase. VK: And evangelicals, of course, are the group where you might expect that only 1 or 2 percent would agree with a statement that denies the truth of the Bible. Where would they derive the content of the faith they claim to espouse if not from the Bible? But if that 26 percent of evangelicals doesn’t believe the Bible is literally true why would they put any trust in the faith the Bible describes? I’m not sure which facet of the survey results is more alarming – the fact that a majority of U.S. adults now don’t believe in the truth of the Bible or the fact that over a quarter of evangelicals now doubt the source of their faith. RD: Obviously, both facts are alarming and they are a graphic reason that those of us who know the Bible IS the word of God must redouble our efforts to spread that message. And we must ensure that we are prepared to answer the questions that will inevitably arise when we proclaim that the Bible is true – not just a source of comfort or inspiration in our lives – but literally true. So, back to your original question – the reason that we have been delving into our study of information is to help people have yet another line of evidence that our universe as we see it couldn’t exist without God. VK: And, the basic line of reasoning that we are following is really pretty straightforward. The presence of information always indicates the presence of intelligence. And we see the existence of information all about us in the visible universe especially in living creatures. The nucleotide sequence in DNA is very clear evidence that information is present in how cells are built and operate. So, information must have been present to create life. And if the presence of natural information indicates the presence of natural intelligence then if we find any supernatural information then we would have to conclude that somewhere there is the presence of supernatural intelligence. RD: And we do have one very clear repository of supernatural information that we know about – the Bible. And we have spent our last couple of episodes of Anchored by Truth discussing the supernatural character of the information that we find in the Bible. We started out by noting that the Bible does contain a great deal of what might be designated as natural information – the same kind of information that can be derived from many books. The Bible contains information about natural and human history, advice about raising children, managing money, or building stable societies, and practical guidance on everything from avoiding dangerous sexual or addictive behavior and maintaining positive relationships with our neighbors. VK: And we called this kind of information, “pragmatic information.” But we noted that even if we considered just this pragmatic information the Bible is remarkable isn’t it? One thing we know for sure is that Bible has been cited by tens of thousands, and probably millions, of people as making a positive difference in their lives. Countless people have testified that Bible saved them from addition, disgrace, and sometimes suicide when they picked it up and read it. And the Bible has done this across the centuries and across cultures and nations. So, even if the only evidence of the Bible’s character that we had came from the pragmatic information it contains the Bible would be an amazing book. But in addition to the pragmatic information the Bible also contains an unequaled record of fulfilled prophecy. RD: Right. So, alongside the pragmatic information the Bible contains there is also a large volume of prophetic information. And while it might have been possible for a natural man to record history or even give wise advice there is no way for men to reliably know the future, but the Biblical prophets did. To be an authentic Biblical prophet you had to be 100% accurate. This means that those prophets that have books in the Bible had to have received enough short term prophecies so that the people could verify the authenticity of the prophet but most also received longer term prophecies many of which were fulfilled hundreds of years after the prophecy was given. And we have reliable records that assure us even today of the prophets’ accuracy. VK: I know that we’ve given some examples of fulfilled prophecies in previous episodes but how about if you give us another one just to illustrate the point that you are making. RD: The prophet Daniel wrote the book that goes by his name in the 6th century BC. Quite likely Daniel finished his book sometime earlier than 530 B.C. Early in his book Daniel, who was a Jewish captive of the Babylonians, interpreted a dream for the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar and told him that a series of 4 great empires would control Israel, the Middle East, and much of the surrounding territory. We now know that the empires Daniel referred to were the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Daniel, in fact, gave the names of the first three empires and he lived to see the transition from the Babylonians to the Medo-Persians. Because of the linguistic and semantic characteristics of Daniel we can be very sure he wrote hundreds of years earlier than the documents we call the Dead Sea Scrolls which date from the 3rd century BC forward. The Roman general Pompey the Great didn’t conquer Jerusalem until 63 BC so we can be very sure hundreds of years elapsed between Daniel giving the prophecy and the final empire gaining control of Israel. VK: In other words Daniel’s prophecy about the 4 great empires is just one more example of the prophetic information the Bible contains. And while we might be able to see how wise and careful men could produce much of the Bible’s pragmatic record only men who had been supernaturally inspired could produce its prophetic record. So, the Bible’s record of successful, fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that it was prepared under the superintending direction of a supernatural source. Those of us who believe in God’s inspiration of the Biblical writers have no problem explaining how this record of fulfilled prophecy was produced. But anyone who denies the existence of God or God’s role in the preparation of the Bible have to come up with alternative explanations. And they do but that is not what we want to talk about today. You said that today you want to go into a 3rd line of evidence that demonstrates the supernatural inspiration that would have been necessary to create the Bible. RD: Yes. In addition to the pragmatic and prophetic information that the Bible contains it also contains what you might call interconnected information. This interconnected information is unparalleled in any other book. VK: What do you mean by interconnected information. RD: There is an old, but well-known couplet that says, “the Old is in the New revealed. The New is in the Old concealed.” VK: Ok. I want to be sure I heard that right before we continue. “The Old is in the New revealed. The New is in the Old concealed.” Right? RD: Right. It’s a poetic and clever way of saying that the Old Testament and the New Testament display a supernatural connectedness. Many people think that because the Old Testament is called “old” that somehow we can dispense with it, do away with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can’t fully understand the New Testament without the Old Testament. And that is sort of easy to see. It’s not uncommon for later writers to base some of what they are writing on things that came earlier. VK: At this stage we’re all familiar with sequels in movies and television. In most of the “star-something” sagas you can’t understand the latest installment unless you have seen the prior ones – and sometimes you have to have seen more than one to fully get what the characters in the latest thing are doing. I suppose that is the producer’s intent? RD: For TV and movie producers, that is their intent. And that shows you something. The TV and movie producers know you can base a storyline on something that has already been written. But within the Old and New Testament the mutual dependency goes both ways. A lot of times we don’t fully understand Old Testament events or writings until we see what happened during New Testament times especially in the life of Jesus. And that’s something that man could never do. Only God could have something occur or be relevant in the history of the 1st century AD that then actually clarified what had happened centuries or millennia earlier. VK: I think we’re going to need an example of what you’re thinking about. RD: Well, let’s take a look at one of the most mysterious and enigmatic figures in the Bible, Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek is usually interpreted to mean “King of Righteousness.” He appears in person only once in the Bible and that appearance is in the 1st book of the Bible, Genesis. VK: Our opening verse, Genesis, chapter 14, verse 18 reads “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram …” This verse describes an encounter between the patriarch Abraham and Melchizedek after Abraham had rescued his nephew Lot who had been kidnapped by some raiders. Lot had been captured by an army led by a confederation of 4 kings. When Abraham heard about Lot’s kidnapping he assembled a force of his own, chased the invaders, and defeated them. On the way back to where he had settled Abraham apparently went near the city of Salem. Most commentators think the city was an early version of Jerusalem. RD: Exactly. So, Melchizedek, who is the “king of Salem,” has heard about Abraham’s achievement and success and goes out from Salem to celebrate Abraham’s victory. In the course of that celebration Melchizedek pronounces a blessing on Abraham. VK: Genesis, chapter 14, verses 19 and 20 tell us Melchizedek said “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils he had obtained when he recovered Lot. RD: So, this incident occurred during the life of Abraham who lived almost 2,000 years before Jesus was born. Moses included the reference to Melchizedek when he wrote the first five books of the Bible which he did around 500 years later. And it’s the only mention of Melchizedek in the entire Old Testament until God inspired King David to write the 110th Psalm which was around 1000 B.C. or another 500 years after that. I should emphasize that right now I’m just using round numbers for the purpose of making the larger point. VK: You’re referring to Psalm 110, verse 4 which reads “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’” RD: Yes. And those are the only 2 references to Melchizedek in the entire Old Testament – 2 very short verses. And David’s reference in Psalm 110 would have been confusing to his readers. David said that someone who David calls “his Lord” in verse 1 of the psalm will be a “priest forever” in the “order of Melchizedek.” All commentators agree that the “Lord” David referred to was the coming and prophesied Messiah. The Jews in both David’s time and Jesus time regarded the 110th psalm as being a Messianic psalm. So, when David said that the Messiah would be a priest that wouldn’t have been confusing to the people. But, and this a big “but,” at the time David composed the psalm Israel had a well-established priesthood that conformed to the Mosaic Law. And in order to be a priest you had to have been a member of the tribe of Levi who was one of the 12 sons of the patriarch Jacob. The Levitical priesthood was described in detail in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Well, there is no way Melchizedek was a member of the tribe of Levi – because Melchizedek lived 2 generations before Jacob was born. VK: We often hear in the Bible the phrase “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Levi was one of Abraham’s great-grandsons. Abraham had interacted with Melchizedek even before Isaac was even born. So, there is no way Melchizedek could have been a priest according to regulations established for the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek was not, and could not be, a part of the tribe of Levi. He lived long before Levi was born. David saying the coming Messiah would be a priest “in the order of Melchizedek” would have been confusing to the people. In David’s day there was no priesthood “in the order of Melchizedek.” The priesthood would have been in the order of Levi. So, it’s fair to say David’s reference to Melchizedek in Psalm 110 would have made very little sense to the people of his day – or to the Jews who lived for the next thousand years because there was no priesthood “in the order of Melchizedek” during all that time. RD: Right. And we don’t get any more information about why these two rather strange and oblique references to Melchizedek were included in the Old Testament until we get to the book of Hebrews in the New Testament – and then the mystery is clarified. The writer of Hebrews, which many people think was the Apostle Paul, makes 4 references to Melchizedek. So, it is not until 1,000 years after David wrote Psalm 110 that we find out why God inspired him to write that seemingly strange line. Paul explains that Jesus was in fact a priest even though Jesus did not come from the tribe of Levi. VK: Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. As far back as Genesis, chapter 49, verse 10, the Jews had known that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Near his death when Jacob was blessing his sons Jacob said, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.” The “scepter not [departing] from Judah” was well accepted to mean that a descendent of Judah would be a king whose kingdom would never end – in other words the Messiah. RD: Yes. So, Jacob had said the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah and David had said the Messiah would have an eternal priesthood but that priesthood would be one that resembled Melchizedek’s priesthood. The Messiah’s priesthood would not be part of the Levitical priesthood. But until Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected no one knew how these two requirements could both be satisfied. But the Apostle Paul in the book of Hebrews explained how this was possible. The Jews’ genealogical records established that Jesus was a “son of David” and therefore came from the tribe of Judah. That part was easy. But Paul tells us that Jesus’ priesthood came from an older form of priesthood, one that preceded and superseded the Levitical priesthood – the priesthood of Melchizedek. And Melchizedek is the only person in the entire Bible besides Jesus who is identified as both a king and a priest. VK: So, it wasn’t until Paul – or whoever wrote the book of Hebrews in the New Testament – explained how Jesus perfectly fulfilled David’s prophecy in Psalm 110 that people would have understood why David had written that one verse. And there’s no way the writer of Hebrews could go back and create those lines in the Old Testament. They were a thousand years old. RD: Yes. And Paul couldn’t change the historical facts that were necessary to make Jesus’ life fit the requirements for the Messiah. The Jews had very complete genealogical records. They knew what tribe everyone came from. And Paul couldn’t just create a fictional predecessor that would serve to explain how Jesus who was not from the priestly tribe could legitimately be considered a priest. But the writer of Hebrews was inspired to reconcile the historical facts of Jesus life with the conditions that had been established in the Old Testament. Only, an omniscient, omnipotent God could put all that interconnected information into a unified record. This is just one example of the hundreds that show that Bible contains a significant body of information that connects the two testaments. This not only helps illustrate that the Bible possesses remarkable unity but also that only a supernatural mind could have planned and guided the revelation. VK: This sounds like a time to go to God in prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of adoration for our God who created everything out of nothing except for His own unmatched power and creative decrees. ---- PRAYER FOR ADORATION OF THE CREATOR VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New International Version) Genesis, chapter 14, verse 18, New International Version
Eternal Information – Part 9 – Supernatural Information Part 2
28-02-2023
Eternal Information – Part 9 – Supernatural Information Part 2
Episode 201 – Eternal Information – Part 9 – Supernatural Information Part 2 Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. … for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. Isaiah, chapter 7, verses 14 and 16, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re so happy you’re able to join us here today on Anchored by Truth. For our most recent several episodes we have been working on a series we call “Eternal Information.” We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this series. For those listening today who may have missed some of the earlier episodes we encourage you to go to our website crystalseabooks.com where you can hear them. This series in particular has been one of those series where each episode builds on the material from previous episodes. In the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, we’re pretty deep into our discussion of information. Maybe it would help provide some context to today’s discussion if you would start us off by briefly going over some of the big ideas we’ve been discussing? RD: Well, before I do that I would also like to extend my greetings to everyone who is joining us here today. The biggest idea that we are trying to convey in this series is that you cannot look at the universe around us and fail to note that it not only contains material elements, like matter and energy, but that it also contains non-material components like volition and information. And it would be impossible for our universe to contain such non-material components without there being a non-material source that possessed both power and intelligence. VK: One of the first ideas we covered in this series is that information cannot be created, destroyed, or affected by matter or energy. Matter or energy can be used to store, transmit, or receive information but the information itself remains unaffected by the matter and energy. A recipe for pound cake doesn’t change whether it is written on a note card, stored in computer hard drive, or retained in someone’s memory. And the presence of information always requires the presence of intelligence. Or said differently, the presence of information within the visible universe demonstrates that there must be a source of power and intelligence that made it possible. And, when you refer to a non-material source that possesses both power and intelligence you’re referring to God. RD: Yes. Our universe could not appear as it does without information, and therefore intelligence, being present. But intelligence without creative power would never produce either the visible universe or the information that we displayed throughout the universe. So, one big idea we have been discussing is that the existence of information points directly to the existence of God. Or as Dr. Werner Gitt so aptly put it in the title of his book, In the Beginning was Information. This point is reinforced by the fact that life would not be possible without the presence of information within biological structure. VK: Even the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary points out that the nucleotide sequence of DNA contains information. That dictionary provides this definition for information: “[Information is] the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects.” RD: Yes. One way of thinking about information’s role in living creatures is to note that physics and chemistry, by themselves, will not produce biology. Biological structures are the result of chemical elements being organized and directed in very specific patterns such as the nucleotide sequence within DNA. In other words, physics plus chemistry does not equal biology. Physics plus chemistry plus information equals biology. VK: And in our last episode of Anchored by Truth we noted that if the existence of natural information indicates what we might call natural intelligence, then the existence of supernatural information would necessarily indicate the presence of supernatural intelligence. RD: Exactly right. And in our last episode we began demonstrating that the Bible gives evidence of being the result of a superintending, supernatural intelligence. Last time we began demonstrating that Bible stores and transmits information on multiple levels. This attribute would be very difficult to explain if the Bible were solely the result of human input and intelligence. VK: And, in that episode we pointed out that one level of information that the Bible contains is the same kind of information you might get from reading any book. In essence, it’s the information you get from reading a book left to right from front to back. The Bible contains a ton of information on human and natural history, interpersonal relations, managing money, building successful families, overcoming addiction, and many other subjects. If there’s a subject that affects the lives of people and communities the Bible most likely has something to say about it. RD: Yes. So, one level of information that we may easily see within the Bible is what we might term pragmatic information. Pragmatic information is information about the ordinary affairs that concern people such as historical information, advice about money and families, and proverbs to help people avoid trouble and live better lives. Pragmatic information is important, not only because of its content, but also because the presence of this pragmatic information gives us an opportunity to test the accuracy and reliability of the Bible VK: Can you give us an example of what you’re thinking about? RD: Sure. One form of this pragmatic information is the historical information the Bible provides. We can test this historical information to see whether it is reliable. And we have given tons of examples on various Anchored by Truth episodes to show that the Bible’s historical information is reliable. Examples like the fact that the book of Jonah maintained a record of the existence of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, while secular history lost sight of it for over 2,000 years. In 1849 the British diplomat and explorer, Austen Henry Layard, rediscovered the lost palace of Sennacherib with its 71 rooms and colossal bas-reliefs. He also unearthed the palace and famous library of Ashurbanipal with 22,000 cuneiform clay tablets. But before Layard’s discovery many historians thought that Jonah’s account of Nineveh was just a legend because it was contained in the same book as him being in the belly of a fish for 3 days. Another remarkable confirmation of the Bible’s historical reliability is the archeological findings at the city of Jericho. VK: Extensive excavations have been carried out at the site of the ancient city of Jericho. And while some of the archeologists who worked at the site didn’t believe their findings supported the Biblical account, careful analysis by others, such as Dr. Bryant Wood, have come to a different conclusion. For instance, Dr. Wood says that “The city’s free-standing inner and outer mudbrick walls collapsed outward, fell down the slope and piled up at the base of the (mound), falling ‘beneath themselves’ as the Hebrew of Joshua 6:5 indicates. This allowed the invading Israelites to go straight ahead, up and into the city in the manner described in Joshua 6:20. RD: Dr. Wood has also concluded that “After the walls fell, the city was set on fire (Joshua 6:24). A one-meter-thick layer of ash and debris, including jars of burnt wheat, has been found in many sections of the city. The jars full of charred grain support the Bible’s claims that the attack took place just after the harvest (Joshua 3:15), that the siege was short (seven days), and that the Israelites did not plunder the city, except for the precious metals that were “put into the treasury of the house of the Lord” (Joshua 6:24) and the individual sin of Achan (Joshua 7:21).” One of the most remarkable findings was that “In at least one area, the mudbrick wall had not collapsed, consistent with Rahab’s house being spared even though it was attached to the city wall.” … “Some houses in the lower city were built into the lower city wall, which is exactly how Rahab’s house is described (Joshua 2:15).” VK: And as we have pointed out in numerous episodes of Anchored by Truth there are hundreds if not thousands of examples of times the Bible’s historical trustworthiness has been validated by archeological finds. So, historical information is one aspect of the pragmatic information the Bible contains. And when tested the historical information is found to be reliable. The same thing is true of the Bible’s advice for everyday situations like money management or family relationships. Last time we noted the Bible’s recommendation from Ecclesiastes that we should diversify our investments. Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 2 says we should divide our investments into 7 or 8 portions because the future is uncertain. This tracks very closely to investment advice that is still given to never allocate more than 10% or so of a portfolio into a single asset class. Diversification is one of the foundational principles that is still honored today. Moreover, the appropriateness of the Bible’s recommendations regarding marital and family relations has been validated by countless sociological studies to produce happier and more successful families and children. RD: Yes. And people who don’t follow the Bible’s advice on remaining faithful in marriage or avoiding gluttony drunkenness far more often than not wish that they had listened to the Bible. The Bible’s pragmatic information is time tested and validated. But, of course, the Bible doesn’t just contain pragmatic information. It also contains prophetic information. VK: And in our last episode of Anchored by Truth we mentioned two examples of the Bible’s extraordinary prophetic accuracy. We talked about the precise fulfillment of the Bible’s prophecies in Jeremiah, chapter 25, verses 10 and 11 and Isaiah, chapter 45, verses 1 and 2. These prophecies concerned the fact that the nation of Judah would be conquered by the Babylonians and the Jews would spend 70 years in exile. Then their exile would end when a Persian king, that the Bible names specifically, would allow the exiled Hebrews to return to Judah and Jerusalem. These prophecies were fulfilled exactly even though they were given decades before fulfillment. RD: Right. But it is important to note that the Bible’s prophetic information wasn’t just confined to the destinies of nations and empires that were fulfilled over decades and centuries. Biblical prophets also gave prophecies about specific individuals that were fulfilled relatively quickly such as when the prophet Samuel foretold that the first king of Israel would be Saul. Samuel gave Saul a series of prophecies that were precisely fulfilled within a day of Samuel giving them. This ensured that Saul could be assured that Samuel had been sent by God to anoint him king. When we think of Biblical prophecy we often think about the “big” prophecies such as those concerning Jesus or the future of Israel or the worldwide flood. But all of the prophets had to give short term prophecies as well as long term prophets. Otherwise the Hebrews would have had no way of testing to see whether the prophet was genuine. VK: In Deuteronomy, chapter 18, verses 21 and 22 Moses gave the people the test for determining whether someone who claimed to be a prophet had actually been sent by God. God had tol Moses to tell the people, “You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.” In other words, a Biblical prophet had to be 100% accurate. So, even though scripture does not report all of the prophecies that each prophet made we can be confident that the prophets were providing enough prophecies for shorter-term events that allowed the people to validate their status. RD: So, the ability to give accurate prophecies 100% of the time is what distinguishes authentic Biblical prophets from the many imposters that have come along through the ages. People such as Edward Cayce and Jeanne Dixon have claimed to be prophets but they have many well-known prophetic failures. Dixon predicted that the Russians would be the first to land a man on the moon. She predicted that Richard Nixon would not resign from the presidency of the United States. She predicted that the Vietnam War would be over by l966 and she predicted that the Panama Canal treaties would not be approved and ratified. She also predicted that UFOs, with super-advanced humans from a hidden planet would land and make contact with us by 1977. All of those prophecies were obviously failures. Edward Cayce predicted the 2nd coming of Christ would occur in 1998. It didn’t. VK: During the 1930s, Cayce also incorrectly predicted that North America would experience existential chaos: He said, "Los Angeles, San Francisco ... will be among those that will be destroyed before New York". Though, come to think of it, if you look at what’s going on in this country right now you might start to think he was right about some of that. RD: And that is an important point. These false prophets may have been right may have been right on some or even many occasions. But the standard for being a Biblical prophet is to be right 100% of the time and no prophets outside the Bible have that kind of record. But in this episode we are primarily concerned with the nature of the information that the Bible contains and how that demonstrates the supernatural character of the Bible. So, let’s take a look at our opening scripture for a second. This scripture from Isaiah is certainly one of the most famous prophecies in the Bible because it was the prophecy that the coming Messiah would be born of a virgin. But what I want to point out is that the prophecy, like many in the Bible, had two levels of prophetic information within it. There was an immediate application of the prophecy and a much longer application. VK: What do you mean? RD: This prophecy was given by the prophet Isaiah to a Hebrew king named Ahaz. At the time Isaiah gave it the nation of Judah had been invaded by a confederation of two foreign powers and kings. The kings were from the nations of Israel and Aram. Aram was essentially Syria. Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 1 says, “When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem …” VK: We should tell everyone that event occurred about 733 B.C. – a little over 700 years before Jesus was born. At this point in Israel’s history the kingdom that had been unified under King David and King Solomon had been split into a northern kingdom that was called “Israel” and a southern kingdom that was called “Judah.” Ahaz was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom. There had been civil war between Judah and Israel pretty much every since the split of the kingdom under Solomon’s son. For most of the period of the split kingdom the northern kingdom was the more powerful of the two. So, at the time of this invasion the threat that Judah might be conquered by a confederation of Israel and Syria was real. Ahaz knew that and he was scared. So, God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to essentially tell him “don’t worry about those two kings. I’ll handle them. And to prove I’ll take care of them ask me for a sign and I’ll provide it.” RD: Isaiah was trying to provide God’s reassurance to Ahaz but Ahaz was a wicked king so he rejected Isaiah’s offer. Ahaz essentially said, “I’m too pious to ask God for a sign.” But God knew Ahaz’s heart so he told Isaiah to say to Ahaz, “that’s fine. I’ll give you a sign anyway and it will be a sign of my own choosing.” So, God told Ahaz that as a sign that that the invading kings would not succeed in their ambitions God had Isaiah give the prophecy we heard in our opening scripture. This prophecy actually operated on two levels. In the short term Isaiah’s prophecy meant that before a young woman would get pregnant, give birth, and raise a child for 2 or 3 years the danger to Judah would disappear. And it did. In fact within a matter of decades neither Israel nor Syria would ever pose a serious danger to Judah ever again. VK: And, on a longer term basis, the prophecy referred to the ultimate deliverer for not only Judah but also the whole world. In his gospel Matthew cited this prophecy as being fulfilled in the virgin birth of Christ Jesus. Now again, we want to emphasize that there was more than 700 years between Isaiah giving this prophecy and Jesus being born. So, while the short term application of the prophecy was fulfilled within a few years, the longer term fulfillment was a matter of centuries. Only, an eternal God with supernatural knowledge could have given that information to Isaiah. RD: Yes. And that’s the really important point for today. For those of us who accept the supernatural inspiration of the Bible Isaiah being able to give a precise prophecy that had two different applications isn’t really a big deal. We accept the fact that God knows everything (omniscient) and therefore can reveal anything to anyone any time He chooses. But for someone who wants to deny divine inspiration for the Bible they have to come up with an alternative explanation for how a man in the 8th century BC could have known something not just a couple of years earlier but hundreds of years earlier. VK: What you’re saying is that the prophetic information within the Bible goes well beyond human abilities. Human beings might be able to supply pragmatic information like advice on managing money or raising kids. Human beings can ever make accurate records of historical events – though we have no other records besides the Bible that made such records accurately over a period of 1,500 years. But at least theoretically a reliable historical record, even one prepared over centuries, is within the power of humans to make. But no human being has the power to make precise prophecies of the type we see in the Bible. We don’t know what level the stock market will be at weeks from now much less decades from now. We don’t know the outcome of elections that are sometimes just days away. And even in those cases where claims are made that a human prophet did get some things right we never see detailed prophecies that are fulfilled precisely. But we see this in the Bible. RD: Right. Again, accepting the supernatural inspiration of the Bible resolves all the questions that otherwise have no sensible resolution. So, critics have to resort to doubting the date the Bible books were written to try to make it look like the prophecies were given after the events not before. This is one of the reasons that careful research and scholarship is so important to our faith. Solid analysis about use of words, writing styles, grammar and syntax help refute the critics’ attempts. And it’s important to note that the critics wouldn’t need to make such attempts if the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible weren’t so effective at demonstrating that the Bible has a supernatural point of inspiration. Back to our basic point. The presence of information always requires the presence of intelligence. And information is abundant within the created order, even in the existence of biological life. This means intelligence was involved in the creation of living creatures. This is information that we can perceive and understand with our natural senses. But the kind of information that we see within the Bible cannot be explained through natural means. It’s supernatural. And supernatural information must have a supernatural intelligence behind it – the kind of intelligence that only God possesses. VK: And there is at least one more level of information in the Bible that we haven’t had time to discuss yet. We will have to get into that in our next episode of Anchored by Truth. We’re all familiar with single dimension information systems because that’s what we experience in our daily lives from books and other sources. But there are biological information systems within the universe so complex that they are beyond anything that human beings could create. The only reasonable explanation for their existence is that they were created by the Ultimate, Infinite Designer. God has given us ample evidence of His presence and He is more than willing to help us live productive, joyful lives if we will just acknowledge that simple fact. This sounds like a time to go to God in prayer. Today let’s say a prayer for our nation especially that God will bring a spirit of renewal and revival to a culture that is desperately in need of the truth of Christ. ---- PRAYER FOR THE NATION VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New International Version) Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 6, New International Version Jericho archaeology after Joshua (creation.com) The walls of Jericho (creation.com) Jeane Dixon And Prophecy | Christian Research Institute (equip.org)
Eternal Information – Part 8 – Supernatural Information
21-02-2023
Eternal Information – Part 8 – Supernatural Information
Episode 200 – Eternal Information – Part 8 – Supernatural Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 6, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. Thank you for joining us here today on Anchored by Truth. For several episodes we have been working on a series we call “Eternal Information.” We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this series. For those listening today who may have missed some of the earlier episodes we encourage you to go to our website crystalseabooks.com where you can hear them. And, of course, anyone who just wants to review an episode even if they heard it before can always go to crystalseabooks.com for a review. This series in particular has been one of those series where each episode builds on the material from previous episodes. In the studio we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, thus far in this series we have covered definitions for the term “information,” the attributes of information, and the laws that govern information. And in our last couple of episodes we saw that information is present in all the biological structures on earth. But what is the big point that we are making by such a thorough treatment of information? RD: Well, before I answer your question I would also like to extend my greetings to everyone who is joining us here today. We are doing this series on information for the same reason that we do everything on Anchored by Truth – to help our listeners increase their confidence that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. But we can’t be sure that the Bible is the word of God if we aren’t sure that God exists in the first place. So, one of the things we like to do is ensure that our listeners have an abundance of … well, information so they can reassure themselves that the faith they place in God is more than just a leap into a dark abyss. Too often in our contemporary culture we are told that we must choose between logic, reason, and faith. But nothing could be further from the truth. We do not set aside logic and reason in favor of placing our truth in faith. To the contrary, we use logic, reason, and evidence to determine that the most sensible and practical thing we can possibly do is to place our trust in the God of the Bible and the revelation that He has made. VK: And as we have been discussing in this series, the presence of information always point us to the presence of intelligence. You cannot have meaningful information without that information arising from an intelligent point of origin. The cat walking across a keyboard may produce letters on a computer screen but the cat isn’t going to produce an email telling people where to meet us for dinner. But even a young child can do an email. The transmission, reception, and use of information requires intelligence. So, if we see information present in biological structures – which we do – we can be absolutely sure that those biological structures had an intelligent point of origin. RD: Yes. Our universe would not appear as it does without information, and therefore intelligence, being present. And that is one of the basic concepts that we have been working our way through during the first several episodes of this series. But today I want to introduce a new thought into our discussion. VK: Which is ... RD: Well, if the presence of information requires the presence of intelligence – which, as you said, it does – then we might say this. The presence of natural information demonstrates the presence of natural intelligence. So, a simple extension of that thought is that the presence of supernatural information would, of necessity, indicate the presence of supernatural intelligence. VK: Oh, my goodness. I see where you are going. As human beings we can see that information surrounds us in the natural order – in the created order that we can perceive with our five senses. But you are now going to take us into an entirely different realm – the realm of the supernatural. So, I imagine that today you want to begin a discussion of the information that is contained in the Bible. Right? RD: Exactly right. In our last couple of episodes we’ve talked about the fact that all living cells on the planet contain information. And even sources like the Merriam-Webster online dictionary acknowledges this fact. The nucleotide sequence of DNA clearly provides instructions and directions to the protein machinery of a cell and the performance of DNA is not tied to its chemistry any more than the chemistry of ink and paper determine the contents of printed pages. So, even if we restrict our awareness of the information present in nature to just what we see in living cells it is unavoidable to recognize that intelligence was necessary to create those cells. VK: Which, of course, is a direct refutation of the foundational premise of the General Theory of Evolution. The General Theory of Evolution says that all life arose through the random and undirected interaction of inanimate particles. But the specified complexity of even the simplest one-celled creature is a huge challenge to that idea. We covered some of the problems with the idea that life could have arisen spontaneously from non-living element is episode 5 of this series. RD: Yes. We can perceive quite readily that chemistry plus physics will not produce biology. Nor does the addition of time, even unlimited quantities of it, solve the problem. Life requires that certain select elements be organized in very specific sequences and patterns and then supported by very specific energy sources. Said simply, life requires information. Chemistry plus physics doesn’t equal biology. Chemistry plus physics plus information equals biology. So, let’s just label the information component of that equation “natural information” because we can see its operation and effects within the natural order. But when we turn to the Bible we start to perceive that its information component goes well beyond anything that can operate within the natural realm. VK: Can you give us an example of what you’re thinking about? RD: Sure. The Bible is, of course, a book and all books are information sources. But the Bible contains information that transcends the kind of information that is available from natural sources. For instance, in Isaiah, chapter 45, verse 1 the prophet names a conqueror who won’t arrive on the world scene for more than 150 years. VK: Isaiah, chapter 45, verses 1 and 2 say, “The LORD said to Cyrus, his chosen one: I have taken hold of your right hand to help you capture nations and remove kings from power. City gates will open for you; not one will stay closed. As I lead you, I will level mountains and break the iron bars on bronze gates of cities.” Biblical scholars date Isaiah’s ministry to a roughly 40 year period that lasted from 740 BC until approximately 701 BC. Isaiah’s prophetic ministry can be dated accurately because Isaiah told us the Judean kings who ruled while he was conducting his ministry. RD: Yes. So, Isaiah was prophesying in the latter half of the 8th century BC. A little over 100 years later the nation of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians and the Jews went into a 70 year period of exile. VK: And that 70 year period of captivity had been foretold by a different prophet, Jeremiah. ” In Jeremiah, chapter 25, verses 10 and 11 Jeremiah reported that the Lord said, “I will put an end to your parties and wedding celebrations; no one will grind grain or be here to light the lamps at night. This country will be as empty as a desert, because I will make all of you the slaves of the king of Babylonia for 70 years.” RD: Right. And just as Jeremiah prophesied around the year 605 BC the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem, conquered it, and deported many of the Jewish elite and nobles. Most Bible scholars believe the prophet Daniel was part of this first group of deportees. Nebuchadnezzar made Judah a vassal state of Babylon, appointed his own governor, and went back to Babylon. But it wasn’t long before the Jews who remained started fomenting rebellion. So, about 14 years later the Babylonians returned and completed the destruction of Jerusalem and sent all but the poorest people into exile. That period of exile ended shortly after 539 BC when a Medo-Persian emperor, named Cyrus, conquered Babylon and shortly thereafter permitted the Jews to return their homeland. So, here we have two examples of very specific prophesies made decades before they were fulfilled. Isaiah gave us the name of the pagan king who would conquer a city that did indeed have “gates of bronze.” Jeremiah had told the Jews ahead of time how long their period of exile and captivity would last. VK: The point is that there is no way, humanly speaking, that Isaiah prophesying in the latter half of the 8th century BC could have known the name of a single person who would be the person that would be a conqueror who would appropriately be called God’s “chosen one.” And there was no way, humanly speaking, Jeremiah could know how long the Babylonians would keep the Jews in captivity before the period of exile even began. So, both of these are examples of information that the Bible contains but where the source of the information could not have come from the natural realm – the realm we can perceive with our five senses. RD: Exactly. Well, that’s just a quick example of the subject that I want to cover in today’s episode of Anchored by Truth and that will probably wrap into the next episode as well. The Bible gives us very clear evidence that it doesn’t just contain information in a single dimension or on a single level. The Bible actually is a multi-level source of information and that strongly points toward a source for the information that is beyond the natural realm. VK: As is the two examples of fulfilled prophecy that we were just discussing. In those cases there’s no way the human authors who recorded the prophecies could have possessed the information. For them to have the information it had to have been revealed to them by a supernatural source. RD: Right. And those are just examples of the Bible’s multi-layered informational attribute. So, I want to start pointing out some of these various levels of information that illustrate the remarkable character of the Bible. VK: Where do you want to start? RD: Well, let’s start with the fact that, like all books, the Bible possesses and provides information in what we might call a linear fashion. In other words, we can, and should, read the Bible like any other book. The Bible contains valuable information about human and natural history. The Bible contains practical guidance for how to manage money, build successful businesses, improve interpersonal relations, and create better families and raise happier children. The Bible contains instructions for how to avoid conflicts, build prosperous communities and nations, and live fulfilled and meaningful lives. All that is available just by reading the Bible the way you would read any other book – left to right, starting on page 1 and going through to the end. VK: But even in that sense the Bible does display a marked difference from other books, doesn’t it. And, in particular, it is different from other books that claim to be the word of God. RD: That’s true. One of the amazing things about the Bible is that as it is conveying its information it displays a remarkable unity. It contains many different kinds of literature yet all parts of the Bible serve a single purpose. The Bible tells a single story about a single plan that revolves around a single people and a single person. But as the Bible tells that story it always displays a cognizance of the needs of the people who will be reading the story. So, when the Bible tells us about creation and the subsequent fall of our first parents while it is telling us how sin entered the world it does so while calling to our attention the need for us to be obedient to the Lord. It continues to make that same point when it describes the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. VK: If the Hebrews had obeyed God after they left Egypt there would have been no need for them to wander in the desert for 40 years. God told them to go up to Palestine and displace the wicked people who were living there. And God told the Hebrews He would go with them and before them to ensure that they were successful. But rather than obeying God, the Hebrews made their own estimate of the situation and refused to go up right away. So, in the Bible God relates the history but ensures that the history reinforces its larger lessons and purposes as well as giving details about particular historical events. Is this also true of other parts of the Bible? RD: Yes. There are parts of the Bible, such as Proverbs, that are specifically dedicated to teaching people how to live better and more successful lives. And people who take the Bible’s teaching seriously and apply it to their lives know that the Bible’s instructions help them live lives that are joyful and successful even from a human perspective. People are often surprised that the Bible has quite a bit to say about managing and investing money. VK: For instance, Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verses 1 and 2 say, “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” That’s from the New International Version. And we heard something similar in our opening scripture. This is the same advice many financial planners give today. It’s pretty much standard investment guidance to diversify your investments and to never put too much of your savings into a single investment category or single company. We may use terms like “asset allocation” or “avoiding single security risk” but those are really just different words saying the same thing. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes almost 3,000 years ago but he’s giving the same advice we hear today. Why do you think the Bible addresses subjects many people would think have little to do with “spirituality?” How does the Bible’s money management advice reinforce the idea that sinners need a Savior? RD: The easiest way of explaining the wide variety of subjects that the Bible covers – those areas in which it supplies information – is that the Bible concerns itself with anything and everything with which God knew we would be concerned. God knows that human beings are going to be concerned about the daily necessities of life and also with the uncertainty of the future while living in a fallen creation. So, God provided us help to deal with those things. In other words, God didn’t want to leave his children without firm guidance to help confront the challenges of daily living. VK: Said slightly differently if God had not given us instruction about how to manage money successfully we would have been left on our own. Some people might have made wise decisions but many, maybe most, would not. That would create tension in our lives. Frankly, for many of us concerns about money or how we are going to provide for ourselves or our families would have become the primary focus of our lives. An idol is anything we value more than God. And God does not want us to create idols in our lives even over things that can have a good purpose. RD: Right. It’s not too strong a statement to say that when the Bible gives us instruction for how to manage our money and investments it’s one way the Bible helps us avoid idolatry. If the Bible didn’t give us advice about money, managing money could easily take over our time, attention, and, sadly, our affection. It does anyway for many people. The same thing is true about the instruction the Bible gives us about families, relationships, sex, food and drink. There is much in this life that is good and enjoyable when it is kept within the boundaries that God gave us. But when we forget God’s admonitions those areas cannot only become problems they can become deadly idols. VK: We don’t talk much today about the sin of gluttony but our society deals with the negative effects of obesity constantly. Every day people suffer from poor health, impaired relationships, and sometimes job loss because they struggle with their weight. Yet, Proverbs, chapter 23, verses 20 and 21 have said this for almost 3,000 years. “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” That’s from the New International Version. So, the big point is that the reason the Bible tells us information about the practical aspects of living good lives is that such advice helps us avoid the pitfalls that will pull our attention and affection away from God. RD: That’s a good way to say it. The most obvious form of information that the Bible contains and provides is the kind of information that we derive just by reading it as we would any other book. But I think it’s fair to say that even that within this first level of information the Bible is extraordinary. The Bible has inspired untold millions of people who are from cultures all around the world and throughout time periods that stretch back thousands of years. It’s an extraordinary book that can communicate so widely, so successfully, for so long. Its record for doing so is really unique in that regard. VK: Well, as you say reading the Bible left to right from the first to last page is really just the first level of information that the Bible offers. And we are going to get into other levels of the information that the Bible contains as we move into our next couple of episodes of Anchored by Truth. But as you have said the Bible is amazing just at this first level. One of the things that so many people don’t realize is the wide variety of practical and beneficial advice that the Bible gives. RD: We don’t recognize this much today but for hundreds, really thousands, of years all someone had to say was “the Bible says ...” and that would end discussions or settle questions. Millions, tens of millions of people down through history have lived much better lives just because of the information that they got from the Bible. This used to be accepted wisdom in our culture but obviously it has fallen out of favor. VK: And as it has fallen out of favor our society has paid the price hasn’t it? RD: Absolutely. It’s beating a dead horse to say that when we taught the Bible in school we didn’t have school shootings, obese kids, and drug epidemics. But I don’t want to veer off the topic of this series. We started out reminding everybody that it is impossible to have information without intelligence. And it would be impossible to have supernatural information without supernatural intelligence. When you look at this first level of information that we see in the Bible it would be possible, a little silly, but possible to think that human beings produced the information it contains. After all, lots of human beings write books that can be read in the ordinary fashion. But as we move forward we are going to see that the Bible supplies us with information that could not possibly come from a natural source and thereby demonstrates that it has a supernatural point of origin. VK: Well, we will have to get into that in our next episode of Anchored by Truth. We’re all familiar with single dimension information systems because that’s what we experience in our daily lives from books and other sources. But just as we saw when we looked at DNA and biological information there are sophisticated information systems within the universe that elude us even now. The only reasonable explanation for their existence is that they were created by the Ultimate, Infinite Designer. It’s just a little bit silly to believe that unintelligent and undirected matter and energy could produce the kind of information that we deal with every day of our lives. And we don’t have to surrender to that belief. God has given us ample evidence of His presence and He is more than willing to help us live productive, joyful lives if we will just acknowledge that simple fact. This sounds like a time to go to God in prayer. There are many places around the world where Christians are persecuted just for acknowledging and proclaiming their belief in the God of the Bible. Let’s remember them in prayer today. ---- PRAYER FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New International Version) Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 6, New International Version
Eternal Information – Part 7 – Living Information 2
14-02-2023
Eternal Information – Part 7 – Living Information 2
Episode 199 – Eternal Information – Part 7 – Living Information 2 Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 3, New Living Translation ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. Thank you for joining us here today on Anchored by Truth. For several episodes we have been doing a series we call “Eternal Information.” We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in this series. For those listening today who may have missed some of the earlier episodes we encourage you to go to our website crystalseabooks.com where you can hear them. And, of course, anyone who just wants to review an episode even if they heard it before can always go to crystalseabooks.com for a review. This series in particular has been one of those series where each episode builds on the material from previous episodes. In the studio we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, would you like to amplify a little more on what I was just talking about – that this series of Anchored by Truth is a series where we are steadily building on what came before? RD: Sure. But before I do that I would also like to extend my greetings to everyone who is joining us here today. I suspect most listeners are probably like me. When I first came across the concept of information as one more way in which God’s presence in the universe is manifest I was completely unfamiliar with it. Like all listeners, I used information everyday throughout the day. But I never gave any thought about information itself. Information was kind of like air. It was just there. But I never stopped to think about how it got there. Then I came across Dr. Werner Gitt’s book entitled In the Beginning was Information and I had one of those “light bulb” moments. The presence of information requires the presence of intelligence and there is no way we can avoid living in this universe and avoid the fact that it contains information. But to try to communicate all that this concept involves isn’t easy. Unlike some subjects where we connect with them easily digging deeper into how information functions within the universe requires a lot of … well, information. VK: Studying information requires a lot of information. I’m not sure if that is profound or just redundant … RD: Probably a little of both. At any rate there are a lot of ideas that are tied up in thinking about how information again assures us that there must be a Designing Mind behind the universe as we know it. So, we began unpacking those ideas one at a time. VK: Such as the fact that information is an essential component of the universe that we know. Unlike other components with which we are more familiar like matter and energy information stands apart in the way in which it presents itself. Information is non-material. It is not dependent for its existence on matter or energy but matter and energy can be used to transmit, receive, or store it. The same keyboard, wires, and screens can exchange recipes for pies, maps to buried treasure, or diagrams for making bombs. The information doesn’t change the plastic, copper, or silicon in the keyboard or screen. But neither is the plastic, copper, or silicon responsible for the content of the information. These aren’t the kind of ideas we think about everyday. RD: Right. And those ideas are just the beginning of what we had to undertake. And the specific idea that we have been pursuing for the last couple of episodes of Anchored by Truth is that the presence of information in living creatures is undeniable. A couple of episodes ago we spent some time on the basics of biochemistry and last time we began our dive into the most information storage system on the planet: DNA. VK: So, today we want to finish that discussion. But just as a brief recap last time we began covering the fact that DNA is actually a four-dimensional information storage system. Just about every information system invented or used by man is one-dimensional. When we transmit information through written text we get the information by reading the text from left to right. And even though there are some writing systems like ancient Hebrew that are read right to left the same observation applies. We get the information by going in one direction. Try to read the same text backward and all you get is gobbledygook. But as we began showing last time DNA doesn’t just store and transmit information in one dimension or in one direction. DNA does so on multiple levels. RD, why don’t you briefly remind us of what we covered when we went over the first three dimensions in which DNA stores information? RD: And DNA is built from compounds called nucleotides. Nucleotides consist of a sugar, a nitrogen containing base, and a phosphate group. There are 4 bases that comprise the structure of DNA: adenine [a-duh-neen], guanine [gwaa-neen}, cytosine [sai-tuh-seen], and thymine [thigh-mean]. They are usually abbreviated A, G, C, and T. So, these are the “letters” of the genetic alphabet. And DNA is made up of two long strands – the famous double helix – joined by means of the associations: A with T and C with G. This means that the two strands are complimentary. One of the key takeaways about DNA is that DNA’s information function is not dependent on its chemistry. Just as the chemistry of ink and paper do not determine the information that is present on a printed page, the chemical components that comprise DNA do not determine the messages that it stores and sends. So, the first level of information that DNA contains is simply the order of the “letters” – the nucleotide base pairs. The entire human genome has been mapped. So, we know the order of the letters for it. The first 15 letters of DNA in the human “Y” chromosome are “CTAACCCTAACCCTA.” VK: So, this first level of information is just a sequence of letters. That seems pretty simple. But you start to get a hint of the other levels of information when you realize that we have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes but our bodies produce over 100,000 different proteins. Some estimates are that the human body produces over 300,000 distinct proteins. If the sequence of the letters in DNA is the first level of information, what is the second level? RD: The second dimension of the genome deals with the way one section of DNA interacts with another section. It’s easy enough to create a visual depiction of the first dimension of DNA. It is essentially just a long sequence of the letters A, C, T, and G. But trying to draw a pictorial representation of the second dimension would be a dizzying array of lines and arrows connecting different parts of the linear string of DNA. At first when scientists discovered DNA and genes they thought they had discovered the key to a lot of biological mysteries. One of the key ideas that emerged into science was the idea that one gene coded for one protein. Proteins are, of course, the molecular machines of life. VK: But that idea was too simple wasn’t it, especially for higher organisms? As we mentioned earlier the human body produces far more different proteins than we have genes. RD: Yes. The linear left to right read of DNA coupled with the idea that each gene, essentially a subsection of DNA, coded for one protein turned out to be far too simplistic. For instance, our protein genes are broken up into a series of “exons” (the parts that code for protein) and “introns” (non-coding intervening sequences). To make a protein, the gene is first transcribed into RNA, then the introns are spliced out, the exons are stitched together, and the remainder is translated into protein. That might seem straightforward. But we now know that some proteins are manufactured through a process called “alternate splicing”, where exons from different locations in the genome are combined to create many different proteins. In fact, we have learned that alternate splicing is so pervasive that the definition of the word “gene” as it was originally conceived had just about lost its meaning. The one gene-one enzyme hypothesis turned out to be a gross oversimplification. VK: Biologist Dr. Robert Carter has said this about the second informational dimension of DNA. “The second dimension deals with things like specificity factors, enhancers, repressors, activators, and transcription factors. These are proteins that are coded in the DNA, but they move to another part of the genome after they are made and turn something on or off. But there are additional things happening in this dimension.” In other words there’s a lot of information that DNA supplies to the body that isn’t tied to a simple left to right reading of the letters. There are connections being made between different sections of the DNA that are also necessary for life. RD: Yes. As I said last time, trying to pictorially represent the information connections within DNA would be so complicated it would be as if you were standing in the midst of a galaxy with beams of light zinging among the stars. There would be so many beams connecting various stars you wouldn’t be able to count them all. And we still are only talking about the second dimension of DNA that supplies information. The third dimension has to do with how DNA is actually stored within the body. The body doesn’t store DNA as a long string. It couldn’t. The DNA is coiled into a very precise 3-D shape. VK: Dr. Carter has also written that, “The third dimension [of information] deals with how the shape of the DNA molecule affects the expression and control of different genes. We have learned that sections of DNA that are buried deep within the coiled-up DNA cannot be activated easily. So genes that are used often are generally easily accessible. Thus, when God wrote out the information in the genome along that one-dimensional strand, He intentionally put things in a certain order so that they would be in the correct place when the DNA was folded into a 3-D shape.” RD: Yes. It would be extremely impractical for the body to store DNA in a linear state. We talked about the amazing fact that the DNA in a single cell would be about 6 feet long if it were laid out in a straight line. It would be extremely thin but it would stretch for 6 feet. The National Institutes for Health have estimated that the DNA present in a human body would be over 67 Billion miles long if all the strands were laid end to end – that’s the equivalent of 150,000 trips to the moon – and back. To store all that DNA the body coils it in tight coils that fit within the nuclei of the various cells. And we now know that genes that are used together are generally found next to each other in the 3 dimensional storage arrangement even when those genes are found on different chromosomes. VK: Last time we used the example of a homeowner organizing his garage. A wise homeowner is likely to organize the garage so the garden shears are close to the rakes rather than with the Christmas light strings and nativity set. The homeowner does this it is because the homeowner knows and understands the use of the things they are storing. In putting things away in the garage they are applying information and intelligence. So, the first dimension of information storage in DNA is the order of the letters. The second is how various sections of DNA actually act in concert with other sections. And the third is how the DNA functions in its 3-dimensional configuration not just as a linear string. RD: Exactly. Well our time ran out last time before we could get to the 4th dimension of the information that DNA contains. VK: Which is …? RD: Time. VK: Time? RD: Time. As incredible as it might seem we now know that the way DNA performs its function changes as time goes by and we know that these changes occur in all the other dimensions. Dr. Carter has written “The shape (3rd dimension), interaction network (2nd dimension), and the sequence of letters (1st dimension) all change. This so far outstrips even our most modern computers that the analogy isn’t even fair anymore.” Dr. Carter gives this example. “We know that different liver cells have different chromosome counts. This is due to the fact that the liver needs lots of copies of certain genes that are involved in metabolism and detoxification. Instead of filling the genome with many copies of these genes, the liver just makes copies of them for its own use. We also know that different brain cells have different number and locations of various transposons.” VK: Transposons are segments of DNA which are capable of moving within or among chromosomes. Transposons were once thought by evolutionists to be “jumping genes” that were leftovers from ancient viral infections. But they’re not. Transposons are vital for the development of the human brain. In other words, our genome is able to dynamically reprogram itself. As Dr. Carter wrote, “This is something that computer scientists have long struggled with. How can you make a self-modifying code that does not run out of control?” RD: So, as amazing as the first three dimensions of DNA’s information are in some ways the 4th dimension truly seems like something out of science fiction. As we go through life our DNA reprograms itself to adapt for where we are in life. It’s hard sometimes to remember that we are talking about a group of atoms and molecules that are present in the nucleus of every one of our 30 to 40 trillion cells. Now again, let’s not lose sight of the basic point. The alternate hypothesis that is offered to Biblical creationism is blind and random chance. VK: Those people who reject the existence of God, and in particular the God of the Bible, must conceive of the world and universe as being composed of matter, energy, time, and space. But no one sees time and space as possessing creative capacity so they are really down to matter and energy. So, their concept for the origin of DNA is that at one point some hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon atoms fortuitously collided and started making some simple organic compounds. Some of these organic compounds ran into each other and poof some simple amino acids or nucleotides were produced. Then these extremely elementary organic collections ran randomly and accidentally collected in one place and all that jostling about produced a string of DNA which contains, at a minimum, millions of atoms. The more you talk about it the more far-fetched it seems. RD: It seems far-fetched because it is far-fetched. And it’s not like evolutionists don’t realize the problems their scenario involves they do. So, they try to craft solutions such as saying that there are unseen “organizing forces” present within physics and chemistry that overcome most of the seeming impossibilities. And there have been extensive computer simulations offered with supposedly random substitutions occurring in strings of letters that show that with enough time and chemical components just the right set needed will emerge. But one basic problem with all these attempts is that they start with a huge amount of information about how life functions today. They ignore the fact that undirected matter and energy would have none of that. Moreover, undirected matter and energy would have no goal of producing life. The evolutionary apologists always start with their own goal of showing how it might be possible. But that’s quite a different thing from showing how it actually occurred. VK: As we often point out on Anchored by Truth explaining the origin of a thing is quite different from explaining its operation. We know today much about how life operates. We know the chemical elements involved. We know the structure of organic compounds and how those compounds can link up and form the ever increasingly complicated structures used by all living things. But an ocean of chemicals just drifting about knows none of that. RD: And I should emphasize at this point that this discussion that we have had about the four dimensional nature of the information DNA contains has only skimmed the surface. I would highly recommend listeners going to the website for Creation Ministries International and spending some time there reading the various articles on DNA. There’s a lot more to DNA than we have time to discuss in this series. VK: Such as? RD: Such as the fact that DNA has its own repair system. VK: Wikipedia says this about the DNA repair system. “DNA repair is a collection of processes by which a cell identifies and corrects damage to the DNA molecules that encode its genome. In human cells, both normal metabolic activities and environmental factors such as radiation can cause DNA damage, resulting in tens of thousands of individual molecular lesions per cell per day. Many of these lesions cause structural damage to the DNA molecule and can alter or eliminate the cell's ability to transcribe the gene that the affected DNA encodes. … As a consequence, the DNA repair process is constantly active as it responds to damage in the DNA structure.” RD: The DNA repair system is just another facet of DNA that defies explanation by evolutionary development. Without the repair system DNA would quickly be damaged so badly that normal cellular replication would cease. That means death for the organism. So, DNA needs the repair system to keep functioning but it is the DNA itself that tells the body how to produce the repair system. And we have only discovered this very recently. The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich, and Aziz Sancar for their work on the DNA repair processes. VK: So, what else do you want to cover for today? RD: I want to give our listeners a very inexact model for DNA’s amazing information system. Imagine that you found a long sheet of paper that contained a lengthy list of ingredients for a meal. As you examined the list you realized that it was a list of ingredients for an amazing 7 course meal. At the bottom of the sheet the final line said “roll this into a 2 inch tube.” After you did so you found out that the letters that are now on the outside of the rolled sheet gave you all the steps in preparing the ingredients – the chopping, slicing, dicing, grating, etc. Then the final instruction said “hold near the stove.” And when you did so you found out that certain portions of the letters were now lit up and they gave you precise instructions for cooking the various ingredients like temperature, time, basting, stirring, etc. The last line of illuminated letters now said, “place near the completed dishes.” And when you did that you found out that different letters were now lit up which told you how to garnish, arrange, put on final toppings, and serve. You get the idea. No human technology would permit us to create an information storage system that sophisticated yet we’re asked to believe that random chance built a biological information system that contains hundreds of millions of ingredients. Our most elegant examples of technology and advanced design pale in comparison to the complexity present to every strand of DNA on the planet. Yet, the most amazing thing is that some people continue to insist that all of that sophisticated complexity could have arisen by chance. VK: Well, all that has made me a little hungry but it does make the point. We’re familiar with single dimension information systems because that’s what we experience in our daily lives. Probably, with a lot of effort and planning, we might create a single system that has multiple dimensions of information. But those systems certainly wouldn’t run into the billions of letter or symbols that served multiple tasks simultaneously. The sophistication of DNA eludes us even now. The only reasonable explanation for DNA’s relentless display of information sophistication is because it was prepared and created by the Ultimate, Infinite Designer. It’s just a little bit silly to believe that unintelligent and undirected matter and energy could produce DNA when even the most intelligent scientists could not do so. But God could and that’s what our opening scripture from Hebrews tells us. This sounds like a time to go to God in prayer. Since our children are back in school and busily working their way through the academic year, today let’s listen to a prayer for all of them who could benefit from a little divine help with upcoming tests. ---- PRAYER FOR TAKING A TEST VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New Living Translation) Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 3, New Living Translation The human genome is amazingly complex (creation.com) Four Dimensional Genome (creation.com) Splicing and dicing the human genome (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com) Epigenetics challenges neo-Darwinism (creation.com)
Eternal Information – Part 6 – Living Information
07-02-2023
Eternal Information – Part 6 – Living Information
Episode 198 – Eternal Information – Part 6 – Living Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Hebrews, chapter 3, verse 4, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. Thank you for joining us here today on Anchored by Truth. For several episodes we have been doing a series we call “Eternal Information.” We do series like Eternal Information to help people focus on a foundational truth about the universe we see around us. The universe exhibits order and design. Albert Einstein recognized this simple fact and famously said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible.” Other scientists have noted that the universe displays all the elements that we see in the best manufacturing systems that we have today. The same pieces and parts are used to build structures as diverse as snowflakes, galaxies, stars, and puppy dogs. To help us explore even more about the marvel that is the universe and especially life, today in the studio we have RD. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, the universe is amazing isn’t it? RD: Yes, it is. The universe is so consistent in how it works that we can analyze the composition of stars that are billions and billions of miles away from our little earth. There is no way we could do that unless we knew that the same constituent parts that make up our sun, our earth, and even our bodies were also present in all the other parts of the universe. And that’s the reason that we wanted to undertake this series on eternal information. Just think about it for a second and you quickly realize that the presence of design requires a designer. The presence of organization requires an organizer. Yet this is the very thing that atheists and radical secularists exclude a priori. Why would they do this? There’s only one reason. It’s not that they don’t realize that God exists. They do. All people do. It’s that they don’t like the implications of acknowledging that existence. Because it would mean they would have to make changes to their lives and worldview. VK: So, today we want to go more deeply into the order and design that are present in living creatures. We began this discussion last time on Anchored by Truth when we did a high level overview of some of the basic elements of biochemistry. And in that discussion we noted that the basic unit which is present in all living things is a cell. Some cells have a nucleus and some don’t. But all living things are comprised of cells. And cells, despite their tiny size, are exceedingly sophisticated structures. Anyone who has ever contemplated the properties of a living cell for even a moment has to recognize that human beings still do not have the ability to create structures or systems with that level of design finesse. Our most elegant examples of technology and advanced design pale in comparison to the complexity present to every cell on the planet. Yet, the most amazing thing is that some people continue to insist that all of that sophisticated complexity could have arisen by chance. I heard someone say once that its far more likely you could put butter, eggs, sugar, and milk in a bowl, leave it in the sun, and wait for it to turn into a cake than expect the first cell to have come together by chance. RD: Right. The right ingredients are necessary to make a cake but not sufficient. Making cakes takes information – a recipe. And it takes a chef who will apply the recipe – correctly! And today we’re going to continue to pointing to other evidence that shows the absurdity of believing that random and chaotic activity could generate an integrated structure that has more than 100 billion subordinate parts. VK: A lot more ingredients than it takes to make a cake … RD: True dat – and all those ingredients must be present in just the right places and just the right amounts for life to be possible. Today we want to do an in-depth look at the most amazing information storage medium on the planet – DNA. We’re doing this because we want people to have facts that run directly counter to the assertion that random chance could have produced living creatures. VK: Well, just as a brief review to set the stage – we have already learned several critical things about the biomolecular structure of living things. As you said, the basic structure of all life on earth, whether plant or animal, is a cell. Some creatures like bacteria are only a single cell. Human beings contain over 35 trillion cells. Regardless of the number all life on earth is cellular based. Cells are composed of permeable membranes that encase the components of the cell that actually carry on the business of life. Those components include protein “machines” and nucleic [NU-CLAY-ICK] acids. The most famous nucleic acid is, of course, DNA. Proteins are built from organic compounds called amino acids. Amino acids are small compounds consisting of 10 to 20 atoms. There are hundreds of known amino acids but only 20 of those are used by living creatures. RD: And DNA is built from compounds called nucleotides [NU-KLEE-O-TIDES]. Nucleotides consist of a sugar, a nitrogen containing base, and a phosphate group. The nucleotides of DNA are linked together through their phosphate group and they differ only in the structure of their nitrogen containing base. Specifically, there are 4 bases that comprise the structure of DNA: adenine [a-duh-neen], guanine [gwaa-neen}, cytosine [sai-tuh-seen], and thymine [thigh-mean]. They are usually abbreviated A, G, C, and T. So, these are the “letters” of the genetic alphabet. For chemical reasons the adenine in DNA tends to form an association with thymine and guanine forms an association with cytosine. And DNA is made up of two long strands – the famous double helix – joined by means of the associations: A with T and C with G. This means that the two strands are complimentary. From a DNA standpoint the simplest form of life that lives independently is a bacterium known as mycoplasma genitalium. It has about 500,000 base pairs in its DNA strand. Human beings by contrast have 3 Billion base pairs in our DNA. VK: So, DNA even at its simplest is not a simple structure. I think a lot of people are misled by the fact that we are talking about things that are so small they can only be seen by sophisticated microscopes. I think some people associate small size with simplicity. But with respect to DNA that’s not true at all, is it? RD: No. We must get away from thinking that just because DNA is incredibly small from a visual standpoint that somehow its small size reflects the level of complexity that is represented in its structure. If anything we should marvel that something so small can have so many separate subunits that each has its own place and function. So, today I want to focus on the fact that DNA is a 4 dimensional information storage system. There’s a great article about this on creation.com which is the website for Creation Ministries International. One of the key takeaways from this article, as well as many other articles that are on their website, is that DNA’s information function is not dependent on its chemistry. Just as the chemistry of ink and paper do not determine the information that is present on a printed page, the chemical components that comprise DNA do not determine the messages that it stores and sends. VK: That’s a pretty radical thought but it was one which Dr. Jonathan Sarfati told us about when he was a guest on Anchored by Truth. Paper and ink have chemical elements that form them, and permit them to be useful to store and communicate information but the pen and ink don’t control the information. It requires intelligence to use that paper and ink to store or transmit information. This is the same thing that occurs with DNA. And it comes as a surprise to most people. RD: Yes. We are so surrounded by the pseudo-scientific narrative that life arose randomly from inanimate matter that even most Christians are beguiled thinking that our bodies are the product of matter and energy. It can come as a bit of a shock to realize that we are the product of so much more. The way that DNA functions is a perfect example of that. The first level of information that DNA contains is simply the order of the “letters” – the nucleotide base pairs. The first 15 letters of DNA in the human “Y” chromosome are “CTAACCCTAACCCTA.” The entire human genome has been mapped. VK: Now just about everyone has heard about “genes” and most people know that genes control inherited characteristics. A gene is a small section of DNA that contains the instructions for a specific molecule, usually a protein. The purpose of genes is to store information. Each gene contains the information required to build specific proteins needed in an organism. The human genome contains 20,687 protein-coding genes. Genes come in different forms, called alleles. The genes for blue eyes and brown eyes obviously code for the same characteristic, eye color. But the genes for brown eyes and blue eyes are different. So, they would be alleles. RD: So, this first level of information is just a sequence of letters. That seems pretty simple. But you start to get a hint of the other levels of information when you realize that we have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes but our bodies produce over 100,000 different proteins. Some estimates are that the human body produces over 300,000 distinct proteins. VK: Twenty thousand genes seem like a lot but it was actually a much lower number than expected. The low number of genes in the human genome was troubling for several reasons. First, it meant that human beings did not have that many more genes than organisms that were much simpler. Second, it meant we were creating a great many proteins from relatively few genes. Scientist had no idea how this could be done on such a large scale. And third, the complexity of the human genome just kept multiplying the barriers to envisaging how such sophistication could arise by random and chaotic forces. RD: When science first discovered genes they thought they had discovered the secret that solved the mystery of how one generation passed various traits to another. Scientists initially saw the gene as the master controller that regulates the outward expression of the attributes of an organism. This idea was popularized in Richard Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene. But that initial model turned out, as so often happens with God’s creation, to be far too simple. It had become conventional wisdom to say that any characteristics we acquire during our lives cannot be passed to our kids. But we now know that while this idea was partially true, it is an incomplete truth. In fact, there are times when characteristics acquired by a parent are passed to a child and there is now an entire branch of study called “epigenetics” to understand how this happens. But the idea that the outward interactions of an organism with its environment might pass information back to the genome, or even just affects how the genome performs its function was completely rejected for decades. Then came the science of what is now called epigenetics. VK: The CDC defines epigenetics as the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Marc Ambler who was on the board of Creation Ministries International said “[Epigenetics] poses a profound challenge to evolution because it suggests that latent genetic information of sorts is sitting in the DNA waiting for a particular environment in order to be switched on or off. It is like information in a book with certain pages stapled together, only to be opened and the information acted upon in certain environmental circumstances. If evolution occurs by natural selection, via the environment culling or conserving the effect of random mutations, how can there possibly be a ‘suite’ of genetic information just waiting there to be switched on by an environment to which the organism has yet to be exposed?” RD: Yes. Now I just to remind everyone what this discussion is all about. The fact that a single gene may code for more than one protein and that our DNA may be affected by our environment is strongly suggestive of the fact that the first level of information in DNA – the sequence of the letters – does not tell the whole story. At first, after the initial discover of DNA, scientists thought they had the key to whole biological puzzle. The idea was that if we could just “learn the code” – in effect figure out the sequence - we could perform miracles. That’s why scientists petitioned the US government in the 1990’s to fund the sequencing of the human genome. And they did. And after doing so we found out that the sequence of the letters in human DNA was only the beginning of understanding DNA. Because DNA is far more complicated than just its very complex sequence of letters. VK: So, if the sequence of the letters in DNA is the first level of information, what is the second level? RD: The second dimension of the genome deals with the way one section of DNA interacts with another section. It’s easy enough to create a visual depiction of the first dimension of DNA. It is essentially just a long sequence of the letters A, C, T, and G. But trying to draw a pictorial representation of the second dimension would create a dizzying array of lines and arrows that connect different parts of the linear string of DNA. The depiction would be so complicated it would be as if you were standing in the midst of a galaxy with beams of light crossing across one another. VK: Biologist Dr. Robert Carter has said this about the second informational dimension of DNA. “The second dimension deals with things like specificity factors, enhancers, repressors, activators, and transcription factors. These are proteins that are coded in the DNA, but they move to another part of the genome after they are made and turn something on or off. But there are additional things happening in this dimension. During the process of protein manufacturing, a gene is “read” by the cell during a process called transcription. Here, the DNA is copied into a molecule called RNA. The RNA is then translated into a protein. …But in a process called post-transcriptional regulation, the RNA can be inactivated or activated by other factors (like [micro RNAs]) coded elsewhere in the genome. ... One of the greatest mysteries is how only about 22,000 genes can produce more than 300,000 distinct proteins. The answer is that the cell goes through a process called alternate splicing, where the genes are sliced and diced and different parts are used by different cells at different times and under different circumstances to produce the many different proteins. This incredibly complex process is just one part of that second dimension of the genome.” RD: The complexity the first dimension of DNA helps put to rest the idea that the chemical structure of DNA is what controls DNA’s function within a cell. Well, if the first dimension began the process, the second dimension of information contained within DNA puts a stake in its heart. Simply put, human beings have not been able to create any information systems that have this level of complexity and interactivity. We are well familiar with information systems like written communication that transmit information be reading something from right to left or left to right. But to create an information system where information is not only derived from reading each letter or word in one direction but where that system provides meaningful information connecting every 5th word, 10th word, and 20th word would boggle our minds. Yet even this isn’t the end of the information that resides within DNA. There are still more dimensions. VK: Dr. Carter has also written that, “The third dimension deals with how the shape of the DNA molecule affects the expression and control of different genes. We have learned that sections of DNA that are buried deep within the coiled-up DNA cannot be activated easily. So genes that are used often are generally easily accessible. Thus, when God wrote out the information in the genome along that one-dimensional strand, He intentionally put things in a certain order so that they would be in the correct place when the DNA was folded into a 3-D shape.” RD: Yes. Like most components of the cell it would be extremely impractical for the body to store DNA in a linear state. The DNA in a single cell would be about 6 feet long if it were laid out in a straight line. It would be extremely thin but it would stretch for 6 feet. The National Institutes for Health have estimated that the DNA present in a human body would be over 67 Billion miles long if all the strands were laid end to end – that’s the equivalent of 150,000 trips to the moon – and back. To store all that DNA the body coils it in tight coils that fit within the nuclei of the various cells. Therefore, in the human body DNA is found in a 3 dimensional shape not a straight line which would be 2 dimensions. This adds complexity to the issue of how the body can acquire the information stored in the genes that are on the DNA. As Dr. Carter mentioned we now know that the genes that are used most often are stored on the outside of the 3 dimensional structure where they are most easily accessible. Moreover, sometimes as we’ve alluded to above the various genes sometimes operate in cooperation with other genes. Well, we now know that genes that are used together are generally found next to each other in the 3 dimensional storage arrangement even when those genes are found on different chromosomes. VK: It’s like a homeowner who is organizing his garage. In the garage they may have some items they use in the garden, some that are used for home repairs, some that are needed for the cars and trucks, and maybe some that they only need once a year like the Christmas decorations. A wise homeowner is likely to organize the garage so the garden shears are close to the rakes rather than with the Christmas light strings and nativity set. But it goes without saying that when the homeowner does this it is because the homeowner knows and understands the use of the things they are storing. In putting things away in the garage they are applying information and intelligence. And, in fact, the storage system that is represented in how DNA is stored within a cell is far more complicated that even the storage system used in the largest industrial warehouses. RD: Exactly. We still need to talk about the 4th dimension of information that is found in DNA but since we’re running out of time I want to give our listeners a very inexact model for DNA’s amazing information system. Imagine that you found a long, thin plastic tube. As you examined the tube you realized that written on the outside in letters that spiraled around the tube was a list of ingredients for an amazing 7 course meal. At the bottom of the tube the final line said “twist this tube 3 times.” After you did so you found out that the letters now gave you all the steps in preparing the ingredients – the chopping, slicing, dicing, grating, etc. Then the final instruction said hold near the stove. And when you did so you found out that certain portions of the letters now gave you precise instructions for the cooking. The last line of illuminated letters now said, “place near the completed dishes.” And when you did that you found out that different letters were now lit up which told you how to garnish, arrange, put on final toppings, and serve. You get the idea. No human technology would permit us to create an information storage system that sophisticated yet we’re asked to believe that random chance built a biological information system that is thousands or millions of times more elegant. VK: Well, all that has made me a little hungry but it does make the point. We’re familiar with single dimension information systems because that’s what we experience in our daily lives. Probably, with a lot of effort and planning, we might create a single system that has multiple dimensions of information. But those systems certainly wouldn’t run into the billions of letter or symbols that served multiple tasks simultaneously. The sophistication of DNA eludes us even now. The only reasonable explanation for DNA’s relentless display of information sophistication is because it was prepared and created by the Ultimate, Infinite Designer. It’s just a little bit silly to believe that unintelligent and undirected matter and energy could produce DNA when even the most intelligent scientists could not do so. But God could and that’s what our opening scripture from Hebrews tells us. This sounds like a time to go to God I prayer. Since our children are back in school and busily working their way through the academic year, today let’s listen to a prayer for all of them who could benefit from a little divine help with upcoming tests. ---- PRAYER FOR TAKING A TEST VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the New International Version) Hebrews, chapter 3, verse 4, New International Version The human genome is amazingly complex (creation.com) Four Dimensional Genome (creation.com) Splicing and dicing the human genome (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com) Epigenetics challenges neo-Darwinism (creation.com)
Eternal Information – Part 5 – Living Information
31-01-2023
Eternal Information – Part 5 – Living Information
Episode 197 – Eternal Information – Part 5 – Living Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. Psalm 139, verse 14, Christian Standard Bible ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. Thank you for joining us here today on Anchored by Truth as we continue the series which we are calling “Eternal Information.” Like several of the other series that we have done on Anchored by Truth this “Eternal Information” points out a fundamental truth about the universe we see around us. Everywhere we look the universe exhibits order and design. That is true for the inanimate features of the universe and even more true for living creatures. Today we are going to focus on the undeniable elements of design present in living creatures. In the studio we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. When we look at the composition of living creatures it’s hard to avoid noticing an amazing level of complexity isn’t it? RD: Yes, it is. Anyone who has ever contemplated the properties of a living cell for even a moment has to recognize that human beings still do not have the ability to create structures or systems with that level of design finesse. Our most elegant examples of technology and advanced design pale in comparison to the complexity present to every cell on the planet. Yet, the most amazing thing is that some people continue to insist that all of that sophisticated complexity could have arisen by chance. So, today we’re going to do more of an in-depth look at the most amazing information storage medium on the planet – DNA. We’re doing this because we want people to have facts that run directly counter to the assertion that random chance could have produced living creatures. VK: Well, just as a brief review to set the stage – we have already learned several critical things about information as a fundament component of the created order. Information stands alongside matter, energy, time, and space as a fundamental component that is evident when we make empirical observations about the universe. The difference between information and these other components is that information is non-material. Speaking technically, information is massless. Information is not created by and does not interact with matter, energy, time, or space. We can use matter and energy to transmit, receive, or store information but neither matter nor energy create information. A chemical formula for apple pie or rocket fuel can be written on the same piece of paper using the same ink. The paper and ink do not create the formula, tell us what is in the formula, or affect the formula in the slightest. Thus, information, differs from other massless parts of the universe like photons which are also massless. But photons can be created by matter and energy and do interact with them. RD: And we have seen during this series that information contains specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols that are arranged or encoded for a specific purpose to produce specific effects. So, in addition to information being non-material another overarching concept that leaps out at us about information is that information is ordered, organized, and specified. All definitions of information reflect these fundamental attributes. VK: So, in studying these attributes of information one information scientist, Dr. Werner Gitt’s has formulated four laws that describe how information behaves within the universe. The first law is “A material entity cannot generate a non-material entity.” The second law is that “Universal information is a non-material fundamental entity.” The third law of information is that “universal information cannot be created by statistical processes.” Universal information is simply a way of saying that real information possesses the attributes of order, structure, meaning, and potential action that can produce results. This helps us distinguish information from the kind of nonsense that would be produced by a cat walking on a keyboard. The cat might produce some characters on a computer screen that resemble information, but the letters on the screen won’t have order, purpose, or enable meaningful action to take place. RD: Exactly right. These first three laws then lead to a fourth law that will be particularly relevant to our discussion today. The fourth law is that “universal information can only be produced by an intelligent sender.” Anything that has order, specificity, and purpose must reflect intelligence. There are many predicable patterns in nature that are regular and repeating like crystal lattices or ripples spreading across a pond – but those patterns don’t convey meaning or purpose. They may be beautiful but they don’t tell anyone who much sugar to put in the pie or where the treasure is buried. This distinction immediately leads us to our subject today. Many people believe that chemistry can explain everything we need to know about how living creatures function, but it can’t. VK: As Dr. Jonathan Sarfati reminded us when he was a guest on Anchored by Truth, the information stored in DNA cannot be explained by the chemical components of DNA anymore than the chemical components of paper and ink can explain what appears on a printed page. Paper and ink have chemical elements that form them, but it requires intelligence to use that paper and ink to store or transmit information. RD: Yes. I sometimes ask people a sort-of trick question: “Is biology the product of chemistry and physics?” The answer is clearly no. If chemistry and physics could produce biology we could load some carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen into a vat, provide an energy source like electricity or heat, and “poof” out would come some cells –or at least some organic compounds. But we can’t. VK: But some people would say we have already done that. Some people are under the impression that scientists have created life from non-living chemicals in laboratories. RD: Many people are under the misimpression that the famous experiments conducted by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey at the University of Chicago starting in 1953 produced life. They didn’t. Some of the more accurate reporting noted that the Miller-Urey experiments while not producing life did produce organic material. Even this was a considerable overstatement of what Miller-Urey produced. The Miller–Urey experiments involved filling a sealed glass apparatus with the gases that some scientists had speculated were necessary to form life—methane, ammonia and hydrogen. They thought these gases might be similar to the conditions that they thought were in the early atmosphere. They also included water vapor to simulate the ocean). Next, while a heating coil kept the water boiling, they struck the gases in the flask with a high-voltage (60,000 volts) tungsten spark-discharge device to simulate lightning. Below this was a water-cooled condenser that cooled and condensed the mixture, allowing it to fall into a water trap below. VK: Well, what did they get out of their experiment and why was it so widely regarded as an evolutionary breakthrough? RD: Within a few days, the water and gas mix produced a pink stain on the sides of the flask trap. As the experiment progressed and the chemical products accumulated, the stain turned deep red, then muddy. After a week, the researchers analyzed the substances in the water trap used to collect the reaction products. The dominant solid material was an insoluble toxic carcinogenic mixture called best referred to as tar or resin. Tar or resin a common product that results from organic reactions, including burning tobacco. This tar was analyzed. What Miller and Urey were looking for was amino acids. VK: Why were they looking for amino acids? RD: The basic structure of all life on earth, whether plant or animal, is a cell. Some creatures like bacteria are only a single cell. Human beings contain over 35 trillion cells. Regardless of the number all life on earth is cellular based. Cells are composed of permeable membranes that encase the components of the cell that actually carry on the business of life. Those components include protein “machines” and other things like nucleic acids. The most famous nucleic acid is, of course, deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. The proteins that make life possible are built from amino acids. Amino acids are small organic compounds consisting of 10 to 20 atoms. There are hundreds of known amino acids but only 20 of those are used by living creatures. VK: So, did they find any amino acids? RD: They didn’t find any amino acids on their first attempt, so Miller modified the experiment and tried again. In time, trace amounts of several of the simplest biologically useful amino acids were formed—mostly glycine and alanine – but the yields were extremely small. Even Miller admitted at the time “The total yield was small for the energy expended.” After hundreds of replications and modifications using techniques similar to those employed in the original Miller–Urey experiments, scientists have only been able to produce tiny amounts of less than half of the 20 amino acids required for life. The other amino acids require much more complex synthesis conditions. And without all 20 amino acids available as a set most known protein types cannot be produced. VK: That would seem to be a big problem. But there were other very significant problems weren’t there? RD: Yes. There was a huge problem with the material that was produced. Chemists divide amino acids into levorotary and dextrorotary. Levorotary or dextrorotary refer to the “chirality” of the molecule - in simple terms whether the molecule is “left handed” or “right handed.” The amino acids of all living forms are levorotary or left-handed. As organic chemist A.E. Wilder-Smith has noted “If even very small amounts of … the dextrorotary type are present, proteins of a different three dimensional structure are formed, which are unsuitable for life’s metabolism.” VK: In other words, the presence of right-handed amino acids can be lethal. So, did the Urey-Miller experiments ever produce pure left-handed amino acids? RD: No. Nor have any similar experiments since produced pure left-handed amino acids. They always produce a combination of the two kinds of amino acids which chemists call a “racemate.” Usually, the proportion produced in these kinds of experiments is what you’d expect – about 50-50. So, this points out one of big failures of the Urey-Miller experiments to be helpful to the idea that living cells could have been produced randomly. Not only didn’t the experiments produce anything that was “alive” – despite all the media hype, they didn’t even produce the kind of building blocks with which real cells are made. VK: And Urey himself acknowledged this problem. He was once asked how life could have formed spontaneously when living creatures require left-handed amino acids but the lab experiments like his only produce mixtures. His reply was, “Well, I have worried about that a great deal and it is a very important question … and I don’t know the answer to it.” Moreover, that’s just the beginning of the problems pointed out by their experiments. The Urey-Miller experiments used an “atmosphere” that was devoid of oxygen – what is commonly referred to as a “reducing atmosphere.” But the earliest known rocks, even according to the long age conventional theories, all show signs of oxidation. Rust is one common form of oxidation with which we’re all familiar. The presence of oxygen in the early earth atmosphere would be a real problem because oxidation would break down any early organic compounds faster than they could be created. RD: So, many scientists today are trying to explain the origin of life by positing that it occurred near deep sea ocean vents. But for life to form water vapor, ammonia, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and methane must be present to produce the amino acids. Those amino acids must then combine spontaneously into long chains called polypeptides. But polypeptide synthesis won’t take place in the presence of excess water. Excess water would break down the polypeptides into the component amino acids. So, the appeal to life originating near deep ocean vents comes with a problem that is really unsolvable. VK: The point about all of this is that contrary to widespread public opinion scientists have never “created life in a test tube.” Some surveys have found that as much as 75% of the general public believes they have. Further, scientists have never even produced the kind of amino acids living creatures need simply by shooting an energy source through a mixture of chemical elements, even when they preselect for elements that form the proteins required by life. Scientists can produce levorotary amino acids but only through very carefully designed synthesis protocols that aren’t anything close to the processes found in nature. So, far from demonstrating that random forces could have generated the components of life the Urey-Miller experiments actually demonstrated the extreme improbability of that happening. RD: Right. The Urey-Miller experiments were a success – just not a success at showing how easily the components of living creatures can be produced by undirected “natural” processes. The Urey-Miller experiments were a success at demonstrating the extreme improbability of random processes producing the compounds needed by living creatures and the impossibility of those compounds then becoming organized into proteins, nucleic acids, or cells. But even if the Urey-Miller experiments had produced some or most of the necessary amino acids that still wouldn’t have been very helpful to their original aim. VK: Why not? RD: Because presumably in designing their experiments Urey-Miller injected a considerable amount of “intelligence,” into their experiments. Said slightly differently Urey-Miller applied a considerable amount of information when they designed and conducted their experiments. Remember on their first trial they didn’t get anything “useful” for life. So, they redesigned the experiment. This is a clear example of them acquiring and using information in an attempt to show that life could have arisen without intelligence or information. VK: What you’re saying that even if a group of scientists went into a lab, put some chemicals into beakers, provided an energy source, captured any products formed, and then discovered the right kind of amino acids none of that is random. The scientists are the ones picking the chemicals they put in the beaker and they are using information to do that because they already “know the answer.” They already know what chemical elements are present in living creatures and they know the proportions the various elements represent. The scientists already know that all living creatures need a source of energy to sustain their activity, their life. And they have a pretty good idea of what kind of energy must be present. Too much energy living things get fried. Too little energy living creatures die of starvation or freeze to death. Living creatures live within very narrow limits of the type and amounts of energy they need to sustain themselves. But none of that information would be available to an “organic soup” drifting about in a primeval earth being struck by lightning or boiled by volcanic rifts. The absence of information would be fatal – if there was anything living that could die – which there wouldn’t be. Information is the essential component for transforming inanimate chemical elements into living entities. RD: Yes. Scientists studying living things, then determining the constituent parts of those living things, and then attempting to induce similar things to organize into living things doesn’t demonstrate that life could have arisen randomly. It does the exact opposite. Information and its application were present throughout the process that Urey-Miller attempted to construct. As you just said, Information is an essential component for transforming inanimate chemical elements into living entities. An all-mighty, all-wise God could create the elements He wanted. He did on day one. Then on day three He took some of those elements are organized them in such a way that living things emerged. VK: You’re referring to Genesis, chapter 1, verses 11 through 13 which read, “Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.” That’s from the New International Version. RD: Yes. God can create atoms and molecules out of nothing (and he did) because God is infinite in power, wisdom, and sovereignty. God created the atoms and molecules on the first day and then began organizing them into a creation that suited His purposes, including the creation of man on day six. Day three is when he turned those atoms and molecules into the first cells with which He built vegetation. Now, we’re not told expressly when God created the plants that live beneath the seas but it might have been on day three or even day two when the Bible tells us He organized the waters into the seas and the sky. Christians are not left with a dilemma about how hundreds of billions of atoms could all come together at the right place at the right time to make the first living cell. But people who want to leave God out of the arrival of life are. VK: Well, this is a series about information so let’s do a quick check at some of the places information is present in what we know about the process for creating life. Atheists and radical secularists have to figure out how enough hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen arrived at one place and began forming just the right set of chemical bonds to turn those elements into amino acids. So, the first application of information is what elements are going to comprise living creatures. And those aren’t all of the elements that are contained in living creatures. The human body has 21 separate elements some of them in very tiny amounts. Yet despite their relatively small presence they are necessary for us to live. RD: Yes. And it’s not sufficient just to have the elements available. Those elements must combine in just the right way to create twenty different forms of amino acids because those amino acids are going to be necessary to form proteins. The next place information is present is in the chemical structure of the amino acids. And just having the 20 different amino acids doesn’t make a cell or even a protein. Proteins are typically comprised of between 100 to 500 acid “blocks” in a chain. But the proteins don’t just exist as long strings dangling around. The protein string is called its primary structure but then all proteins fold into complicated shapes called their tertiary structure. It’s in their tertiary structure that proteins will interact with one another to perform the functions that sustain life. VK: So, there’s information displayed in how the amino acids are lined up into a particular protein and then, of course, a bunch of free floating proteins doesn’t mean anything is living. Without a permeable cell membrane holding everything together you’d just have a bunch of junk protein. And the cell wall has to be permeable because even though it encloses the cell’s contents energy sustaining materials must come in and waste products must go out. So, there’s more information that describes the membrane’s construction and information that prescribes what energy source is safe for use and what is toxic. And all that is just talking about a single celled organism. We haven’t even begun to think about multi-celled creatures much less mammals and man. There are a great many layers of information necessary to make life, even simple life, possible. RD: Yep. And even if you can get past all those informational barriers all you’ve done is get life going. Cells need instructions for how to operate and, of course, that’s all contained in DNA – which as we are going to see next time actually operates as a four-dimensional information system all by itself. We might have excused Charles Darwin for thinking that living cells are relatively simple constructs but ever since the biomolecular revolution in the 1950’s that excuse has gone away. James Watson and Francis Crick first discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, almost seven decades ago. Since then we’ve mapped the incredible complexity of life in increasingly fine detail including the human genome. Each new discovery adds to our knowledge of how life works but also adds barriers to the idea that random, chaotic forces could have solved the informational puzzle. To this day, no scientist has ever created “life in a test tube” nor have they even produced even the most basic compounds, the right amino acids, from which living creatures are formed. VK: So, as you say physics plus chemistry do not equal biology. Physics plus chemistry plus information equals life. You know it’s just a little bit silly to believe that unintelligent and undirected matter and energy could produce life when even the most intelligent scientists that have lived among us have not been able to do it. That’s one of the reasons King David proclaimed we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This sounds like a great time to go to prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of corporate confession because we have all fallen short of the standards that God has prescribed for the creatures made in His image. But we can praise Him that there was One who met those standards and then allow us to rest on His perfect merit so we don’t need to rest on our imperfections. ---- PRAYER OF CORPORATE CONFESSION VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the Good News Translation) Acts, Chapter 17, verses 23 and 24, Good News Translation Why the Miller Urey research argues against abiogenesis (creation.com) The human genome is amazingly complex (creation.com) Four Dimensional Genome (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com)
Eternal Information – Part 4 – Information and Apologetics
24-01-2023
Eternal Information – Part 4 – Information and Apologetics
Episode 196 – Eternal Information – Part 4 –Information and Apologetics Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you. God, who made the world and everything in it …” Acts, Chapter 17, verses 23 and 24, Good News Translation ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very grateful that you are joining us on Anchored by Truth as we continue the series which we are calling “Eternal Information.” Like several of the other series that we have done on Anchored by Truth this “Eternal Information” series pertains to a subject that has special importance in our day and time – demonstrating that the Christian faith has a firm basis in reason and evidence. Today in the studio we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, we spend a lot of time on Anchored by Truth discussing topics that don’t seem to be as relevant to the Christian faith as, say, family relationships, struggles with addiction, or even the wise use of money. Why do you feel led to go into what some may regard as side issues that don’t affect people’s daily lives? RD: Well, that’s a very good question. But before I answer it I’d also like to thank everyone joining us on Anchored by Truth. The biggest reason I think we need to do series like “Eternal Information” is very simple. We need to return to the reality that the Christian faith isn’t just appealing or helpful – but it is true. We live in what many term a “post-modern” culture. The post-modern culture not only doesn’t believe that the Christian faith is true. The post-modern culture denies the existence of truth altogether. Post-modernism tells us things like “that may be true for you but that’s not true for me.” VK: You might say that the primary slogan for our post-modern world is that “there is no such thing as absolute truth.” But as we have pointed out in previous episodes the statement “there is no such thing as absolute truth” is self-contradictory. The proponent of the statement wants us accept his proclamation as if it were absolutely true. So, anyone who bases their worldview on that proposition has a house built on intellectual quicksand. It’s not only not stable it’s deadly. RD: Exactly right. But that mantra, that there is no such thing as absolute truth, surrounds us today and if we don’t begin to reverse the widespread acceptance of that silliness there is little to no chance we can reverse the decline in our culture. The only way we can begin to reclaim virtue for our society is to reclaim the historic reliance that western civilization placed on a Christian worldview and value set. We must start with the truth if we are going to repel the lies we are being told. And the truth is that the Bible is demonstrably the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. VK: That word “demonstrable” is important. In our day and time it’s not enough for Christians to just believe the Bible is the Word of God. That’s necessary but it’s not sufficient to impact our culture. The question “how can we be sure God exists” is a reasonable question. And so is the question “how can you be sure the Bible is God’s word.” And 1 Peter 3:15 commands us to be able to give reasonable answers to those questions. RD: Yes. 1 Peter 3:15 is probably the most commonly cited Bible verse for why Christians need to obtain a least a basic understanding of what is usually termed “apologetics.” VK: Apologetics is a broad umbrella term for the reason we thought this series about information is important. Apologetics can broadly be defined as “a defense for our faith.” Apologetics comes from a compound Greek word. Greek, like English, has compound words made of two or more other words. In this case the Greek words are apo, primarily used to mean “from;” and logos, primarily meaning, in its most generic sense, “word.” Logos is also commonly used in an expanded way to mean “reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, and calculating.” The Greek philosopher Heraclitus [HAIR-AH-KLEYE-TUS] first used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. The Apostle John’s used that same word logos in John 1:1 when John said, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” RD: Right. So, on this episode of Anchored by Truth I wanted to just spend a little more time making sure that we connect the concept of information with this whole notion of the “defense of the Christian Faith.” So, one issue I would like to deal with right away is the whole notion that apologetics is really not necessary. We often say that God is the only One who can change a human heart. If that’s true then many people don’t see a need for us humans to actually try to defend the faith. After all, if conversion is up to God all we should have to do is just tell people about God and Jesus and that should be enough. VK: And some Christians would say that in some of the best known verses about sharing the gospel there is no mention of apologetics. Romans, chapter 10, verses 14 and 15 say, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” That’s from the New International Version. Those verses clearly talk about us sending and preaching so others can hear and believe but they don’t say anything about “defending the faith.” RD: True enough, but those verses are part of a larger discussion by the Apostle Paul about the difference between the Jews believing they can be saved by the law as opposed to being saved by faith in Jesus. The larger point that Paul was making was that Paul’s people the Jews were zealous in wanting to know God but they had drifted into thinking that a zeal for the law was sufficient for God to accept them. Paul was trying to clarify that no amount of zealousness for the law was sufficient to make us acceptable to God. To be saved by the law we would have to keep the law perfectly. VK: Which no human being apart from Jesus has ever done, or could do. RD: Right. No human being can be saved by our own works because none of us can keep the law perfectly. Jesus did keep the law perfectly which qualified Him to be a fit representative for those of us who can’t. So, the point Paul was making when he talked about sending and preaching was that all believers have a responsibility to share our faith with others. In those verses from Romans, Paul was describing the need for us to “preach” but he was not prescribing the content of our preaching. Elsewhere, as in Acts chapter 17 shows very clearly that he used logic and reason in his own preaching. In talking to the assembly on the Areopagus he began his message with an appeal for the Athenians to think about “The God who made the world and everything in it…” In effect Paul was using a form of what is often termed the cosmological argument. VK: Wikipedia defines the cosmological argument as “… an argument which claims that the existence of God can be inferred from facts concerning causation, explanation, change, motion, contingency, dependency, or finitude with respect to the universe or some totality of objects.” So, in slightly different words the cosmological argument is an argument based on the existence of the cosmos. RD: Yes. The cosmological argument is one form of what is sometimes termed “classical apologetics.” And I think it is likely the most common form of apologetic argument since it so easy to understand and it begins with a starting point that people have to agree with. We exist. The universe exists. Careful observations about the universe such as the Laws of Thermodynamics tell us the universe is not eternal. Basic reason tells us that anything that is not eternal cannot account for its own existence. Anything that is self-existent, that is which possesses the power of existence unto and all by itself, would have to be eternal because a self-existent entity cannot go out of existence. Since the universe cannot provide an explanation for its own existence, it is reasonable to go looking for an explanation for the reason the universe exists outside of the universe. At any rate, the point is that the Apostle Paul was clearly a skilled apologist and he used apologetics in his own preaching. So, in those verses from Romans that you cited Paul was not dismissing the need for apologetics. He was simply stressing the need for us to be active in spreading the gospel to bring salvation to as many people as possible. In Romans Paul was talking about the necessity for evangelism but not the content of evangelism. VK: So, in this series, and in many of the others that we’ve done on Anchored by Truth, we are discussing the content of the evangelistic message. And the point we are making is that good apologetics should be one component of an evangelistic message. Evangelism cannot be limited to apologetics. Apologetics is primarily aimed at the mind. But good evangelism also has to address the needs of the heart. In some ways the heart’s needs are more urgent for most people. So, we must always be prepared to address those as well. People need to know that Jesus brings forgiveness of sins because without that people have no effective way of dealing with the guilt that we all feel. People need to know that Jesus loves them. The desire to be cherished and valued is basic to all human beings. And people need to know that God wants them to be included in His family. People need to know that they belong. All those and more are heart needs. And we certainly don’t want to minimize their importance. But just as it is important to address the heart needs we must also not forget about the head. RD: Exactly. The church must address the whole person just as Jesus commanded in Mark 12:30 where he told his listeners that they must, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus wasn’t trying to take an inventory of human anatomy and physiology there. He was telling his listeners that they had to devote all of themselves to God. VK: After all, God devoted all of Himself to us when the 2nd person of the Trinity took on a human body and then sacrificed Himself for us. RD: Yes. So, God gave His all to us and we must give our all to Him. It’s important to note that in his admonition Jesus included a reference to the “mind” as well as to the heart, soul, and strength. In looking at apologetic approaches that’s what we are doing. And that’s where I think that this discussion of information becomes valuable. I see it as a supplement to many of the other approaches that have been used throughout church history. VK: I see where you’re going with this. There are at least three apologetic arguments that are termed classical apologetics. The cosmological argument is one of those. As you’ve said the cosmological argument is possibly the best known and easiest to understand. But there is also the teleological [TEAL-EE-AH-LODGE-EH-KAL] argument. The teleological argument is an argument based on design or purpose. The teleological argument demonstrates the existence of God by beginning with the observation of purpose in nature. The teleological argument reasons that design cannot exist without a Designer. And classical apologetics also includes what is called the ontological [ON-TOE-LODGE-EH-KAL] argument. But I’m not even going to attempt to explain that. RD: Yeah. I don’t blame you. The ontological argument is probably the most esoteric of the classical arguments. Ontology is the study of “being.” If something exists it is sometimes said to have “ontological status.” I think the easiest way to think about ontology is to just distinguish between the real and the imaginary. So, the ontological argument is based on the idea that anything that is real is better than something that is imaginary. VK: I think there are some people in the movie business that might disagree with you. RD: True. But even movie makers make real movies. An imaginary movie might be great but it doesn’t sell any tickets. And that’s the essential idea behind the ontological argument. We can conceive of a perfect being. Now our individual ideas of the perfect being might vary a bit but we can all conceive of a perfect being. But if that perfect being were only imaginary it wouldn’t be nearly as good as a real perfect being. Furthermore, it is obvious that all human beings as well as every other living creature are dependent beings. We depend on air, water, food, sunlight, etc. for our existence. The same thing is true for inanimate structures like stars. They depend on the availability of fuel to continue to burn. Well, there must be an ultimate source which supplies what all those dependent entities need to maintain their existence. That Something or Someone must be completely independent of need. Philosophers refer to that entity as a Necessary Being. That Necessary Being then would be perfect because it (He) would be able to provide for the existence of everything else. So, the ontological argument essentially recognizes that that Necessary Being is the Perfect Being that we all conceive of. And again, an imaginary perfect being would not have any ontological status so it couldn’t supply the needs of anything. There have been many different formulations of the ontological argument down through the years and they can get pretty esoteric. If someone wants to look further I would suggest they look an Anselm, Descartes, or more recently the American philosopher, Alvin Plantinga. VK: As you said, that’s all pretty esoteric. RD: But it does point out something important. Despite the claims of the evolutionists life on this earth cannot account for its own existence. The universe cannot account for its own existence. The 2nd law of Thermodynamics tells us that someday the universe will burn itself out. And even those people who believe in the Big Bang have no explanation for how the original singularity came into existence. So, they usually resort to saying things like, “the laws of physics tell us how something can come from nothing.” Well, no they don’t. Because if there was ever time when nothing existed there wouldn’t have been any “laws of physics.” And that’s the problem with all explanations for existence that attempt to exclude God. They always wind up in a place where they have unanswered questions and their advocates tell us that we just have to live with those questions. VK: And therein lies the role for apologetics. Apologetics leads us through the questions and ultimately supplies the answers to those questions that can’t come from anywhere else. Now we can live our whole lives and never ask the questions. Or we can live our lives and simply suppress our desire for the answers. But ultimately neither one of those approaches satisfies us. God built human beings with an innate curiosity because that curiosity will always lead us back to our need for Him. RD: I agree. And that is what our examination of information does. It leads us back to God. As we talked about in our first two episodes in this series, information is a non-material component of the created order that is not generated by, dependent upon, or impacted by matter, energy, time, or space. Because information is non-material and is unaffected by matter or energy it is logically impossible to attribute the presence of information to matter or energy. But that’s all atheists or anyone who denies the existence of God has to work with. For them they’re surrounded only by physical phenomena so they must find some way to attribute everything that they come across in their experience to an origin in matter or energy. In a previous episode we saw that there are actually laws of information that act exactly like other natural laws with which we’re more familiar like the law of gravity or the Laws of Thermodynamics. But these other natural laws can be framed in terms of matter and energy. Information cannot. VK: So, the atheist is now stuck with a conundrum. How can material phenomena produce a non-material phenomenon that can describe the material but remain unaffected by the material? For Christians, and even other theists, the conundrum doesn’t exist. God produced the cosmos ex nihilo – from nothing other than his own ineffable power. RD: Yes. The nature of the physical universe itself points us to a power that must lie beyond the universe. Information is another one of the many attributes of the universe that supports that basic line of reasoning. In that sense it forms another and very powerful argument for the existence of God. VK: Which is what all apologetic approaches do. But that does not mean that all apologetic approaches are equal – or equally suitable for use in evangelistic settings. And we haven’t touched on all the apologetic arguments that are out there. We’ve only touched on a few. RD: Yep. Besides the cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments – which are considered “classical apologetics” there are people who favor a moral argument. Others prefer a historical approach to demonstrating God’s necessary existence. VK: The moral argument was used by CS Lewis in his classic work Mere Christianity. It essentially says that we all feel the presence of certain obligations that should govern our behavior – moral laws if you will. But the existence of a law requires a Law Giver. Historical apologetics points to events in world history, such as the resurrection, as evidence that the God of the Bible is actively involved in our world and its affairs. For instance, regarding evidence for the historicity of the resurrection, British historian, A. N. Sherwin-White has written that “For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. … any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted…” Many other historians have come to similar conclusions about parts of the Bible as diverse as Isaiah, Daniel, Kings, and Chronicles. RD: Yes. And there are still other forms of apologetics such as pre-suppositional apologetics and transcendental apologetics that we don’t have the time or need to cover. But all apologetic approaches share something in common. They start with an observation about the universe or world history that can’t be reasonably denied. Then they proceed to look for an explanation of the attribute or phenomenon they have observed. Inevitably they find that a satisfactory explanation cannot be contained within the four corners of the visible universe. So, as we have said, we can simply throw up our hands at that point and proclaim that there is no possible explanation or we can follow the considerable affirmative evidence, such as the reliability of scripture that points to the existence of God. VK: Apologetics is a little like the classic murder mystery where the murder was seemingly committed in a locked room where there is no immediate evidence of any way the murderer could have entered or left. Then the clever detective arrives and finds that there’s a previously unknown, hidden panel that they discovered by a careful analysis of the room’s dimensions. Or there’s a bit of wax on the floor that shows where the window latch dropped back into place after the murderer left through the window. Or a scratch on floor shows that the key on the inside was really on the outside when the door was locked. The detective always finds the clue overlooked by everyone else to divine the truth. RD: Yep. Except that in this case the evidence isn’t hard to discern. It’s out there in plain sight for everyone to see. It has to be. If God had hidden evidence of himself people might have a legitimate excuse for their unbelief. But they don’t. Romans, chapter 1, verses 18 through 20 say, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” VK: And Psalm 19, verses 1 and 2 say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” RD: So, as in your detective example, the universe contains clues, more than clues really, that point to the fact that there is a God who made everything, sustains everything, and governs everything. Information is one more phenomenon within creation that points out that the universe cannot be explained simply by its material elements – matter, energy, time, and space. The universe exhibits design in its smallest elements such as the atom to its largest structures such as galaxies. Design needs a Designer. The universe needed a power source to get it going because it is steadily running out of power. The laws of thermodynamics tell us that. Life would not exist at all if DNA did not contain an embedded program that tells the various base pairs, genes, and motors how to operate to both operate and replicate. The program embedded within DNA is another form of information. In fact, DNA is most sophisticated data storage and use structure we know about within the universe. But how did that information get into the DNA? The cells’ protein machines can’t explain the information because without DNA the cells wouldn’t know how to make the machines. But without the machines to build the DNA it couldn’t hold, store, or transmit the information. The answer of course is that God created everything, installed the programs, and continues to sustain all that He created. We can accept or reject that conclusion but we can’t avoid the facts that point to it. VK: So, again, the big idea that we are discussing is that information is another line of evidence that proves that if God did not exist the universe could not appear as we see it. Information is non-material and information always exhibits order, organization, specificity, and purpose. And those things require intelligence. Well, our thought-provoking journey continues. This sounds like a great time to pray. Today let’s listen to a prayer that our nation would experience a renewed hunger for the One who formed the universe and who put His presence into both its largest and smallest structures. ---- PRAYER FOR RESTORATION OF THE WORSHIP OF THE ONE TRUE GOD VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quote from the Good News Translation) Acts, Chapter 17, verses 23 and 24, Good News Translation Laws of information 1 (creation.com) Laws of information 2 (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com) https://www.josh.org/what-is-the-design-argument-for-gods-existence/
Eternal Information – Part 3 – Laws of Information
17-01-2023
Eternal Information – Part 3 – Laws of Information
Episode 195 – Eternal Information – Part 3 – Laws of Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: [Job] Do you know the laws that govern the heavens, and can you make them rule the earth?” Job, Chapter 38, verse 33, Contemporary English Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very grateful that you are joining us on Anchored by Truth as we continue the series which we are calling “Eternal Information.” We wanted to do this series for one simple reason – to increase our listeners’ confidence in the Bible and in God. Today in the studio we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, why do you believe that it is so important to help our listeners develop increased confidence in God and in the Bible? RD: Well, that’s a very good question. But before I answer it I’d also like to thank everyone joining us on Anchored by Truth today. 4 or 5 decades ago this kind of series might not have been necessary. In those days there was a far more widespread acceptance that God was real and that the Bible was God’s word. But those two ideas have been under constant attack during those decades. Today, it’s not uncommon to run into people who not only don’t believe in the Bible but who don’t even believe that God exists. Our culture has systematically removed God not just from educational settings and our public institutions but also from the public square. Part of what has permitted this to go on, largely unchecked, is the idea that belief in the God of the Bible is a sort-of remnant from a time when superstition reigned because people had not yet been enlightened by science. All that, of course, is nonsense but the trends have continued because individual Christians largely lost their ability to defend their faith from the standpoint of logic and reason. VK: As you say during the last several decades the slogan “you have faith but I have science” has come to be pervasive in our culture. We constantly point out on Anchored by Truth that this idea, as popular and widespread as it is, has no basis in reason or science. The Christian faith is a faith of facts. It is based on both historical and scientific realities. And what the world calls science – such as the General Theory of Evolution and the Big Bang Theory - do not nearly possess as much support from empirical observation as is widely believed. We have an entire series called “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know” that addresses many of the ideas that are supposedly scientific but, in fact, are in conflict with real science. RD: Exactly right. And the concept of information is one more area of genuine science that points squarely to the need for, and existence of, God. As we have been discussing in our first two episodes in this series the more we examine the concept of information we see that it is impossible to reasonably account for the existence of information if we do not acknowledge a source for intelligence that is outside matter, energy, time, and space. VK: Yet matter, energy, time, and space are all that atheists and those radically secular scientists have to work with. Atheists and radical secularists not only won’t consider the possibility of God existing, they rule Him out by the very way in which they try to define science. They attempt to confine science to the naturalistic elements which they can see, touch, or measure. God is, of course, supernatural. So, they attempt to limit science to the natural world because by doing so they can dismiss God by saying that, even if He existed, His existence cannot be verified. RD: Yes. By confining science to the so-called “natural world” they think they can erect a wall that keeps them safe on the inside while God must remain in an unseen and unknown realm. This is the height of silliness, of course. God most certainly is not and cannot be made prisoner of any human idea. But these radical secularists aren’t even consistent about applying their own rules. Atheists and secularists will say that because we can’t perceive God with our five senses we must doubt His existence. Yet those same people will proclaim that “dark matter” comprises 85% of the mass of the universe even though it cannot be seen and it does not interact with electromagnetic fields. It is supposedly “dark” because it cannot be detected. Yet they do not doubt its existence because its presence is needed for the math of the Big Bang and other astronomical phenomena to work. VK: In other words they say “dark matter” must exist because we detect certain effects that would be impossible without its existence. But when Christians say that we can be sure that God exists because we can see His effects within the visible cosmos they reject that line of reasoning. In their way of thinking dark matter is unseen but can known by its effects. By contrast, God is unseen but cannot be known by the effects that His presence would explain. It does seem very much like they have substituted “dark matter” for God. The secularists accuse Christians of inserting “God into the gaps.” In other words, they tell us we resort to God when we can’t explain all the details. But that is exactly what they have done with dark matter. Rather than put God in the gravitational gap that is necessary to explain star formation they have inserted dark matter. RD: Exactly right. The visible universe consists of matter, energy, time, and space and science has discovered much about how those four components relate to each other. The reason we have been able to do that is because God is a God of logic and order so when He created the universe He imparted His sense of order into His creation. This idea animated many of the founders of contemporary scientific disciplines such as astronomy and chemistry. VK: For example, Johannes Kepler’s gave us the three laws of planetary motion, which describe the way planets move around the sun. They were named after Kepler who lived from 1571 through 1630 and who discovered them. Kepler was a devout Lutheran and biblical creationist. Kepler also gave us the famous phrase that science is “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” Isaac Newton who lived from 1643 until 1727 and who is often regarded as the most influential scientist of all time. He explained the cause of Kepler’s laws in what are known as ‘Newton’s three laws of motion’ and his theory of universal gravitation—the law of gravity. In these he showed that the heavens obey the same laws of motion as the earth. Newton also has the fundamental unit of force named after him—the newton. Newton was a biblical creationist, who wrote far more on the Bible and theology than he ever did on science. RD: And Robert Boyle (1627–1691) is known as the father of modern chemistry. In his famous book, The Skeptical Chymist, Boyle overturned the then popular notion that everything is made up of four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. He redefined the term ‘element’ to give us our modern notion of an element—a substance that cannot be separated into simpler components by chemical methods. He is also known for Boyle’s Law, which states that a gas’s volume increases as its pressure decreases at a constant temperature. Boyle was a generous patron of missionary work, and wrote a number of books defending the Christian faith. He too was a biblical creationist. There are a number of good articles on the Creation Ministries International website that talk about the undeniable links between the founders of many modern scientific disciplines and their Biblical faith. VK: And that’s a good introduction for what you want to talk about today. We have coined the phrase “natural law” to speak about generalized maxims that tell us how the components of the universe operate and relate to one another. These natural laws include ones such as “Boyle’s Law” or the Law of Gravitation. Natural laws are statements of how parts of “nature” behave. We regard them as being universally applicable. As such, once identified and specified, they enable other work to be done without having to re-determine basic principles of how matter and energy behave. Well, it turns out that there are similar laws that govern the behavior of information. And that is probably a surprise for most people because as we have been talking about in this series information is a non-material component of the universe. RD: Yes. Dr. Werner Gitt who wrote the book In the Beginning was Information has identified four laws that apply to information. There are two excellent articles on the Creation Ministries International website that describe them. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to pursue this subject further but the articles provide a great summary also. VK: So, let’s do a quick review of some of the essential elements that are inherent in “information” that we talked about in our first two episodes in this series. We just mentioned that information is “non-material.” Speaking technically, information is massless. Information is not created by and does not interact with matter, energy, time, or space although we can use matter and energy to transmit, receive, or store information. A chemical formula for apple pie or rocket fuel can be written on the same piece of paper using the same ink. The paper and ink do not create the formula, tell us what is in the formula, or affect the formula in the slightest. RD: And information contains specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols. That are arranged or encoded for a specific purpose to produce specific effects. So, in addition to information being non-material another overarching concept that leaps out at us about information is that information is ordered, organized, and specified. We can be certain, then, that information is an expression of intelligence. It has to be. Information cannot be the product of mindless, random, or undirected activity of anything. Organization and randomness are the opposites of each other. Nothing random or chaotic is going to produce a sequence of codes or symbols that it intended to produce a specific effect. VK: So, all this fits perfectly with what Dr. Gitt’s refers to as the “Scientific Laws of Information.” Dr. Gitt’s first law is “A material entity cannot generate a non-material entity.” This is simply a straightforward expression of the observation that we made above. Or, as Dr. Gitt put it in one of the articles on the CMI website, “In our common experience we observe that an apple tree bears apples, a pear tree yields pears, and a thistle brings forth thistle seeds. Similarly, horses give birth to foals, cows to calves and women to human babies. Likewise, we can observe that something which is itself solely material never creates anything non-material.” RD: Right. And Dr. Gitt’s second law is that “Universal information is a non-material fundamental entity.” By “universal information” Dr. Gitt is referring to information that possesses five specific attributes or what he calls “levels of information.” The five levels are statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and apobetics. Statistics is simply raw data and counts of things. You can count the number of letters produced by a cat walking across a keyboard but that doesn’t give you any information. The next thing that is necessary for a sequence of letters to produce information is the syntax – the arrangement of the letters into words and the words into phrases, sentences, or something longer. In language there are structural rules that govern those arrangements and that is syntax. Semantics is “meaning.” I can write or say, “The dog waxed a pumpkin …” VK: “The dog waxed a pumpkin?” Really? That makes even less sense than … well, some of the things you’ve written …” RD: And that’s the point. The words are all real words and they are correctly arranged according to the rules of syntax for English. But there is no meaning. We can’t make any sense out of the sentence. That’s where semantics comes in. Strings of letters or words – even if they follow rules – don’t necessarily have meaning. Next is pragmatics. Pragmatics refers to action. Our non-sense sentence won’t produce any action but the phrase “put out the fire” hopefully will. VK: Well, I’d sure rather have someone putting out a fire than have a dog waxing a pumpkin. RD: And that brings us to the final level or attribute of information: apobetics. Dr. Gitt created this term from the Greek word that means result or consequence. So, apobetics means the goal, purpose, or result. Information serves a purpose. Asking someone to have their “dog wax a pumpkin” won’t do anybody any good, but telling them to put out a fire most certainly will. So, that’s how Dr. Gitt helps us sort between nonsense and information. The cat walking across the keyboard might produce letters on a screen and even the occasional real word but it will not produce what he has carefully labeled “universal information.” And what Dr. Gitt is telling us with his second law is that “universal information” is a fundamental component of the universe in which we live. You can no more have a universe without information than you can one without matter, energy, time, or space. VK: Dr. Gitt’s third law of universal information is that “universal information cannot be created by statistical processes.” He provides this explanation about this third law. The grand theory of evolution would gain some empirical support if it could be demonstrated, in a real experiment, that information could arise from matter left to itself without the addition of intelligence. Despite the most intensive worldwide efforts this has never been observed. To date, evolutionary theoreticians have only been able to offer computer simulations that depend upon principles of design and the operation of pre-determined information. These simulations do not correspond to reality because the theoreticians smuggle their own information into the simulations. RD: The point Dr. Gitt is making in this third law is that there are only two competing possibilities for explaining why the universe appears as it does. The first possibility is that an all-knowing, all-powerful self-existent Being made the universe and everything in it. The second possibility is that the universe is self-existent despite the fact that, at a minimum, the laws of thermodynamics tell us that it isn’t. And further that the matter, energy, time, and space of this self-existent universe not only happened to produce rocks, planets and stars – as remarkable as that would be, it also produced living creatures. And those living creatures exhibit certain characteristics among them not just the ability to reproduce but also the ability to carry out purposeful activities. This second idea says that living creatures randomly arose from non-living bits of matter (atoms and molecules) that chaotically collided in such a way that one day several thousands of millions of them alighted in a collective that started reproducing itself. That collective of “self-replicating” molecules had random but fortuitous mutations that turned the 500,000 base pairs of DNA in the simplest self-reproducing biological entity into a creature that has 3 Billion base pairs in its DNA. And that DNA is present in over 35 trillion cells so exquisitely organized that this final collection of molecules is then able to determine, intelligently, that the whole process started randomly. VK: Well, when you put it that way the whole idea of evolution does start to sound a bit preposterous. So, Dr. Gitt then moves from the third law of universal information to what is at this point a self-evident fourth law: “Universal information can only be produced by an intelligent sender.” It is here that the Merriam Webster online dictionary’s definition of information becomes so potent. The second definition that Merriam Webster provides for information says that “information is the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects.” RD: Yes. The fourth law of universal information as Dr. Gitt has framed it simply notes the obvious. Information is not present unless there is a sequence of characters that have been arranged according to specified structural rules and that sequence then contains significance, the possibility for meaningful action, to accomplish a result. Universal information demands the presence of an intelligent sender. And even Merriam Webster recognizes that the nucleotides in DNA are one form of information. VK: Therefore, there is a sound, scientific basis for noting that DNA, which contains information, must represent the activity of an intelligent Being who placed the information in the DNA. When you follow the line of reasoning the conclusion is obvious but that is certainly not anything that you hear in biology classes or science classes. RD: And that’s one of the big issues we want to point out in this series. Science should be about the pursuit of truth regardless of where that pursuit leads. And as the line of reasoning we’ve used above the existence of information points to the existence of God. And it does so logically and reasonably. Furthermore, it’s important to note that these laws that apply to information have the same function as other natural laws with which we are more familiar. VK: What are you thinking about? RD: Dr. Gitt notes that laws of nature are statements that are “consistently and repeatedly confirmed to be universally true …” and therefore they enjoy the highest level of confidence in science. Laws of nature don’t have any exceptions and they don’t change with time. Laws of nature exist prior to, and are independent of, their discovery and formulation. They are thus universally valid laws. Therefore, they can be applied in unknown situations. VK: What you’re saying is that no one questions if we drop a ball off a tall building whether that ball will fall to the ground. We know it will because the laws of gravity mean that the large mass of the earth is going to attract the small mass of the ball. We don’t wonder whether the earth will move up to the ball. We have a natural law that tells us what will happen. Same thing with laws of thermodynamics. Heat moves from a hot body to a cold body if they are left alone. That means the temperature will equalize in a closed environment if things are left alone. If we want to keep coffee hot while it sits on our desk we have to put it on a coffee warmer. The coffee warmer will inject heat into the cup because otherwise the coffee will simply cool off. These laws of nature are universally applicable and so they make our world predictable. RD: And that’s a major takeaway from these laws of information that Dr. Gitt has identified. He didn’t invent these laws. Like other natural laws these laws are simply statements about information behaves within our universe. VK: But, of course, the laws of information point to something quite important and in their own way staggering. As the fourth law of information says, “universal information can only be produced by an intelligent sender.” But DNA contains information. So, the only way we can account for the fact that DNA contains information is if DNA were created by an “intelligent sender.” It’s simple but profound. RD: Yes. Despite the claims of the evolutionists life on this earth cannot account for its own existence. The universe cannot account for its own existence. Our examination of information leads us back to God. In fact, a careful and thoughtful examination of other natural laws does the same but that idea has been lost in our day and time. But the relevant point for today is that we cannot deny that information is present in our cosmos. To deny the existence of information would mean you are attempting to communicate using information. It’s a self-defeating exercise. VK: So, information exists in the universe. No one seriously tries to deny that. Information is present in all living creatures because it is embedded in DNA. We’re going to talk more about that in a future episode in this series. The existence of information in DNA obliterates any attempt to assign DNA and its function to being the product of random and chaotic interaction of matter and energy. Matter and energy may store and transmit information but they do not and cannot create it. Thus, a study of information forms another powerful line of reasoning for the existence of God. In that sense information is part of an effective apologetic. RD: Yes. The nature of the physical universe itself points us to a power that must lie beyond the universe. Information is another one of the many attributes of the universe that supports that basic line of reasoning. It forms another and very powerful argument for the existence of God. That’s the big reason we opened with that scripture from Job. Notice in the scripture God says to Job, “Do you know the laws that govern the heavens, and can you make them rule the earth?” In pointing out the error that Job had made God immediately points out that there are “laws” that govern the heavens and the earth. As we’ve been talking about today there are laws that govern matter and energy. Science has recognized that fact for millennia. But we are now discovering that there are laws that govern the non-material portion of the universe which includes information. You can’t have laws without a Law Giver. Laws cannot just spring like fairy sprites out of the ether. Laws reflect the intelligent action of a Being that has both the intelligence to design the law and power to make it. Job had no doubt of God’s existence. He had that much going for Him. Job error was that he thought he was qualified to review God’s management of the universe. VK: Which he wasn’t – obviously. But today, many people aren’t even on the level where they recognize the necessity for God’s existence. So, in our next episode we’re going to spend some time discussing the strong link between information and other forms of apologetics. Again, the big idea that we are discussing throughout this “Eternal Information” series is that information is another line of evidence that proves that God exists. If God did not exist the universe could not possibly appear as we see it. Information requires intelligence. Even our DNA contains information. That information could only be present if it was created by an all-knowing, all-powerful God. This sounds like a great time to pray. Today let’s listen to a prayer that we would all receive illumination from the source of all intelligence and information – the Holy Spirit. ---- PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the Contemporary English Version) Job, Chapter 38, verse 33, Contemporary English Version Science name creationists Laws of information 1 (creation.com) Laws of information 2 (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com) https://www.josh.org/what-is-the-design-argument-for-gods-existence/
Eternal Information – Part 2 – Information and God
10-01-2023
Eternal Information – Part 2 – Information and God
Episode 194 – Eternal Information – Part 2 – Information and God Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 3 through 5, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re excited to be with you at the start of a New Year. We pray that this year will bring everyone the joy of having a closer fellowship with our Lord Christ Jesus. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re continuing the series we began during our last episode which we are calling “Eternal Information.” I think most listeners to Anchored by Truth know that the Christian faith in America has been subjected to more challenges in the last couple of decades than in the preceding two centuries of existence. So, as we open up a New Year we want to again call attention to a subject that has special importance in our day and time – demonstrating that the Christian faith has a firm basis in reason and evidence. Today in the studio we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, “information” is not a topic typically associated with Christian apologetics but you believe information is one of the most straightforward ways we can direct people to the necessary existence of a personal Creator. RD: Well, I’d also like to greet everyone joining us on Anchored by Truth. I became intrigued about the possibilities offered by the concept of information for demonstrating the existence of God when I ran across a book called In the Beginning was Information. The book was written by a German information specialist named Dr. Werner Gitt. VK: Dr. Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology and he was the head of the Department of Information Technology there. And just to remind everyone the word “apologetics,” is a broad umbrella term for what we’re talking about when we say that the concept of information points to the need for God to exist. Apologetics can broadly be defined as “a defense for our faith.” Apologetics comes from a compound Greek word. Greek, like English, has compound words made of two or more other words. In this case the Greek words are apo, primarily used to mean “from;” and logos, primarily meaning, in its most generic sense, “word.” Logos is also commonly used in an expanded way to mean “reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, and calculating.” The Greek philosopher Heraclitus first used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. RD: The Apostle John’s used that same word, logos, in John 1:1. The Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Apologetics means “from the mind,” and, in the sense of John 1:1 it means “from the mind of God.” We now use the term “apologetics” to mean the defense of the Christian faith. when I heard about Dr. Gitt’s book I became intrigued because just hearing the title made me look at John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 in a different light. It’s not just the title of Dr. Gitt’s book calls those verses to mind. It’s that understanding the nature and use of information gives us a whole new way of demonstrating to the unbelieving world that it is impossible to form a coherent view of life and the universe without acknowledging the existence of God. VK: So, how do we go about doing that? RD: Well, let’s take a look at a couple of definitions for the term “information” that we covered in our last episode. And then I want to propose my own definition for information which I think of as a sort of theological definition of information. VK: So, now you’re conjuring up your own definitions of words? RD: Well, what I try to do is to think carefully through concepts to see how they’re related and then reduce that down to one or two sentences where possible. The result resembles a definition so that’s what I’m going to call it. But before we get to mine let’s look at one from more authoritative sources. We covered this on our last episode but it’s important for this one too. Why don’t you start by reading the definition of information from the Merriam Webster Dictionary? VK: The online Merriam Webster Dictionary defines information as (1 ) knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction; or (2 ) the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects. RD: Right. And as we pointed out in the last episode the second portion of the definition is particularly intriguing because even the Merriam Webster Dictionary takes notice of the fact that DNA, which is a component of the cells of all living creatures, contains information. One of the episodes that we are going to do during this “Eternal Information” series is going to focus on the information present in biological entities – in living creatures. Now let’s take a look at a definition for “information” that Dr. Gitt has developed. VK: In an article that Dr. Gitt produced for Creation Ministries International Dr. Gitt stated this: “…we developed an unambiguous definition of information: namely an encoded, symbolically represented message conveying expected action and intended purpose. We term any entity meeting the requirements of this definition as “universal information” (UI).” We’ll put a link to this article in the podcast notes that are available on certain podcasting apps. RD: So, immediately we see some common elements between the Merriam Webster definition and Dr. Gitt’s definition of information even though Dr. Gitt is being more technical for purposes he comes to later in his discussion. Merriam Webster talks about “alternative sequences or arrangements of something …that produce specific effects.” Dr. Gitt speaks about an “encoded, symbolically represented message.” Merriam Webster says that the sequence or arrangement of something is intended “produce specific effects.” Dr. Gitt says that the symbolically coded message is “conveying expected action and intended purpose.” So, both of these definitions are pointing to some essential elements that are inherent in “information.” Information contains specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols. And those specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols have been arranged or encoded for a specific purpose to produce specific effects. The overarching concept is that information is ordered, organized, and specified. VK: So, what is your definition for information? RD: My definition for information is “Information is the expression of God’s essential omniscience manifested in creation where it imposes order and enables life.” I know on first hearing that’s a lot to consume but we’re going to use the rest of this episode to go through it. So, let me repeat it. Information is the expression of God’s essential omniscience manifested in creation where it imposes order and enables life. VK: I can see why you said it was a sort of theological definition of information. What you’re doing is pointing out that there is nothing present in the created order that did not come from God. And God can only express what God possesses. Of course, God is omnipotent and omniscient so He pretty much possesses everything. But that’s the point isn’t it. As long as our worldview includes God as creator it’s easy to explain the existence of things that is impossible to explain coherently without Him. RD: Yes. Without acknowledging God you’re forced to conceive of the universe as having no superintending intelligence. As such you’re forced to trace everything that exists to somehow being generated by the random, chaotic, and undirected interaction of matter with matter, or matter with energy. Atoms might collide with other atoms and form molecules and even remain together if the right electromagnetic forces are present but in a God-less universe nothing helps those atoms and molecules do anything useful in an inanimate way much less create life. VK: It’s well known that simplest bacterial cell that doesn’t have a nucleus contains 100 billion atoms. Human cells are far more complex. Human beings have over 35 trillion cells. And all those cells have jobs. And there are thousands of protein machines within those cells that also have their own jobs – building the cell’s wall; bringing energy supplies in and taking waste products out; guiding the process of duplication and replication; repairing damage. The number of tasks performed by an ordinary human cell dwarfs the activity within an ordinary factory. When you consider those relatively simple facts it does stagger the mind that anyone believes that all that ordered, specified complexity could have arisen by chance. RD: Exactly. Without God the possibility of the simplest cell being assembled accidently is off the charts in terms of probability. Michael Denton who wrote the book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis points out that the task of randomly assembling a single protein, which contains thousands of atoms, is 1 in a number that is greater that the number of atoms in the known universe. VK: But, of course, with God all things are possible just as Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, chapter 19, verse 26. But that’s the point. An omnipotent God overcomes the need to envision chance as building the complex structures of the universe including life. And, frankly, without God there isn’t a coherent explanation for why atoms would exist in the first place. RD: Yes. So, my definition for information is designed to point to the fact that information is not itself just sort of a “feature” of the universe. Information arises from a source and that source would have to be intelligent because information is ordered, organized, and specified. The Merriam Webster definition says that the sequence or arrangement of something is intended “produce specific effects.” Dr. Gitt says that the symbolically coded message is “conveying expected action and intended purpose.” Therefore, information reflects both order and intent. But … and here is the big point of my definition – information was present at the very beginning of creation. And when we think carefully about that fact it points to information being in use by God prior to the creation of the physical universe. VK: I see where you’re going with this. Information is not just an undeniable feature of the physical order. It was present with God even before He created this physical universe. The Apostle Paul says as much. In Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 4, Paul say, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” That’s from the New Living Translation. But what that says very quickly is that God “chose us in Christ” even before God made the world. That means God was using information in His eternal realm even before He made the earth. RD: Yes. So, let’s think about this. God was “choosing,” as well as performing other activities before He made the earth – which was the first thing He did in creating the universe. Remember the first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But God was using information before that. To choose “us” – “us” meaning His children, believers – He had to already have identified us by name. Revelation 13:8 refers to the “Lamb’s Book of Life” which was available before the foundation of the world. Writing names in a book, however God did that in the eternal, heavenly realm is an activity involving information. We are not told how much planning God did of the created order before He began actually created matter, energy, time, and space but it seems likely He did some. Even before matter, energy, time, and space were actually present God had already laid out their boundaries, how they would function, how they would relate to each other, etc. All that involves the use of information. VK: This is one of those lines of reasoning that starts to give you headaches. RD: Well, we might think of them as “holy headaches.” We are using our brains to try to see our God at the time He was forming our universe. VK: Holy maybe but headaches, nonetheless. But I see what you’re saying. God was using information in His eternal realm even before He began using information in His own creative activity. In Job, chapter 38, verses 4 through 7, God asks Job: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? God asks Job who marked off the dimensions of the earth’s foundation. The question is rhetorical but nevertheless it involves the clear use of some kind of information. God’s reference to dimensions, measuring lines, cornerstones all call to mind that God knew the answers but Job did not. Job could not. God had the information that Job lacked. But God clearly had “information.” RD: Exactly. And God used that information – as my definition points out – “to impose order and enable life.” There is a certain sense, then, that information is a feature of both the spiritual realm and the physical realm. Last time we talked about the fact that information is non-material, or speaking precisely, information is massless. But we were clear that information was different from other massless parts of the physical universe. Photons are massless but they can be generated by matter and interact with matter. Information is neither generated by matter nor does it interact with matter. We use matter and energy to transmit, receive, and store information but the information itself is indifferent to, and unaffected by, the matter and energy employed. A chemical formula remains the same whether it is sent via email, mailed via a postcard, carved on a wax tablet, embossed in Braille dots, or sent using sign language. The matter and energy used to communicate the information do not generate the information and do not contain or constrain the information. VK: But what you’re saying is that the “non-material” attribute of information does not make it automatically a part of the spiritual realm. Information is still quite real in the physical universe. But now you are saying that information appears to be the one part of the physical universe that was also available in the spiritual realm because God was clearly using information even before He created the physical universe. Yikes. Like we said last time, “information is a tricky thing.” RD: Yes. It might be reasonable to think of information as the one component of God’s eternal realm that He imparted into the physical realm. But of course God couldn’t do that if God didn’t possess information. And since God possesses information God is also the source of information – all information. Nothing exists apart or separate from God. So, my definition points out that information is one expression of God’s innate omniscience. Omniscience, of course, means all-knowing. We sometimes think that means that God knows everything about the physical creation and us. And He does. But God’s knowledge doesn’t stop there. God not only knows everything that is known about the physical world but also the spiritual world. VK: God knows the names of all the angels. God knows where they are in space and time or where they are if they are presently in the spiritual realm. God knows the names and locations of the demons currently confined in the abyss that Jude refers to in Jude, verse 6. The book of Jude is only one chapter so we only need the verse number. What you’re saying is that God not only knows everything about everything that exists, God knows everything about anything that could exist. God knows everything that can be known not just what might be known about this creation. That’s what omniscience really means. RD: Yes. And as a part of His “knowing” God uses information. Though no human knows how the three Persons of the Trinity communicate with one another, we know that they do communicate. In that sense they employ information. The point of all this is that when we begin to ponder the role of information within the physical universe we begin to see that information is not confined to the physical universe. It is not. In that sense information may be distinguished from the other components of the physical universe: matter, energy, time, and space. In a poetic sense we might say that information pierces the veil that separates time and eternity. In doing so, it points to the fact that there is a need for an origin for this rather unique component of the created order. VK: God creates all information. God uses information for whatever purposes His sovereign will wants. God was doing that before he laid the foundation of our world or put the sun and moon in their place. And when God chose to create a creature that would bear His image, man, one attribute that God communicated to that creature was the ability to recognize and employ information. RD: Yes. The big reason we are undertaking this series on information is not just to have a philosophical discussion about information but to point out that information points undeniably to existence of the God of the Bible. As we’ve been discussing information is always the product of intelligence. So, if information is present as a component of the observable universe that means that intelligence must be also. Let’s say this a little differently. Our contemporary culture views the universe as being a construct composed of matter, energy, time, and space. The most radical among us say that that is all that is present anywhere and by doing so they are trying to exclude the possibility of God’s existence as a reasonable proposition. VK: But God refuses to be excluded doesn’t He? You don’t have to be a poet to perceive that God left His fingerprints all over creation. Psalm 19, verses 1 and 2 famously say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” Declaration, proclamation, revealing knowledge – those are all forms of communicating information. God designed this universe in such a way that His omnipotence would be revealed by the size and scope of the universe. But He also designed in such a way that our ability to understand that even the physical universe contains non-material components point to His omniscience. RD: Yes. We frequently mention the fact that not only do logic, reason, and evidence – and science - affirm God’s existence but the notion that God doesn’t exist always runs into irreconcilable conflicts and logical fallacies. This discussion of information is simply pointing to another one of those conflicts and fallacies. The universe as we see it around us contains, and must contain, information. So, we may be absolutely sure that when the skeptics and atheists tell us that God can’t be real we can’t see or touch Him they are wrong. The skeptics automatically assume that the material portion of the universe gives rise to such non-material phenomena such as information. But that makes no sense at all. How can atoms and molecules, electricity and heat create the very awareness that we possess that atoms and molecules, electricity and heat exist. VK: What people need to recognize is that the observable universe goes beyond the material. Yet, that very fact is rarely acknowledged in so-called scientific discussions. In all the discussions about the Big Bang and evolution you never hear anyone go beyond theories about how matter and energy behave. Conventional science wants to confine the universe to the material elements because that’s all that they can claim jurisdiction over. But real science simply follows the evidence where ever it leads. And the evidence clearly leads to the fact that even the physical universe gives testimony that limiting our understanding of reality to matter, energy, time, and space is neither sound science or good logic. And next time we’re going to see that a careful examination of information shows that it is possible to formulate “laws of information” that closely resemble other natural laws with which we’re more familiar – like gravitation, electricity, or thermodynamics. RD: Yep. The universe we see around us is more than just matter, energy, time, and space. I sometimes ask people what I call a “trick question.” The question is whether physics plus chemistry can produce biology. That’s the notion that undergirds the entire idea of evolution. The basic idea is that some chemical components eons ago randomly collided with each other. There was an energy source, though no one knows quite what it was, that somehow activated the chemical elements and voila – life started. The question confuses most people – not because they don’t understand it but because thinking about it points out the error of evolution. Chemistry plus physics do not equal biology. They can’t. Chemistry plus physics plus information equals biology. And information points to intelligence. And that’s the idea that materialists can’t stand. Matter and energy are material components of the universe and the space-time continuum defines the boundaries within which matter and energy interact. But, at a bare minimum, those four components by themselves could never give rise to life, even if they could somehow explain all of the inanimate elements of the universe. VK: So, again, the big idea that we are discussing is that information is another line of evidence that proves that if God did not exist the universe could not appear as we see it. Information is non-material and information always exhibits order, organization, specificity, and purpose. And those things require intelligence. Well, our thought-provoking journey continues. This sounds like a great time to pray. Today let’s listen to a prayer of praise that those who do not yet know Christ as their savior will be brought to saving faith in Him. He set the cosmos into motion, established a home on the earth for His people, and continues to prepare them for an eternity with Him in heaven. ---- PRAYER FOR THE SPIRITUALLY LOST VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the Good News Translation) Genesis, Chapter 1, verses 3 through 5, New International Version Laws of information 1 (creation.com) Laws of information 2 (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com)
Eternal Information – Part 1 – What is Information?
03-01-2023
Eternal Information – Part 1 – What is Information?
Episode 193 – Eternal Information – Part 1 – What is Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 and 2, Good News Translation ******** VK: Hello and Happy New Year! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re excited to be with you at the start of this New Year and we pray that this year will bring joy and blessings to all our listeners, especially the joy of having a closer fellowship with our Lord Christ Jesus. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re going to start the new year with a new – and frankly novel series. As just about everyone knows, the Christian faith in America has been subjected to more challenges in the last decade than probably in the first two centuries of the country’s existence. So, as we open up this New Year we want to discuss a subject that has particular relevance in our day and time –being able to demonstrate that the Christian faith has a firm basis in reason and evidence. RD has entitled this series “Eternal Information.” So, we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books, in the studio today. RD, why did you decide we need to take a special look at the topic of “information?” RD: Well, I’d also like to say Happy New Year to everyone who is joining us here today. I wanted to spend a few episodes of Anchored by Truth focusing on information in part because of a book I came across not too long ago called In the Beginning was Information. The book was written by a German information specialist named Dr. Werner Gitt. VK: Dr. Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology and he was the head of the Department of Information Technology there. Obviously, Dr. Gitt knows a thing or two about information. RD: Obviously. And just obviously the title of Dr. Gitt’s book is a play on Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 and the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1 which we heard in our opening scripture today. VK: In the New International Version, Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Those are certainly two of the most famous verses in the Bible. RD: Yes, they are. So, when I heard about Dr. Gitt’s book I became intrigued because just hearing the title made me look at those two verses in a different light. It’s not just the title calls to mind Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 and John, chapter 1, verse 1. It’s that it made me start thinking about how the undeniable existence of information gives us a whole new way of demonstrating to the unbelieving world that it is impossible to form a coherent view of life and the universe without acknowledging the existence of God. VK: And helping spread the awareness that you must acknowledge God to have a coherent worldview is one of the ideas that we focus on here at Anchored by Truth. And it’s become increasingly important even with the church. We live in an age where our historical cultural consensus has shifted. Some commentators have said that we are now living in a “post-Christian” world. For people who are not believers this means that they live in a world that has gone “beyond” the constraints and “narrowness” of Christianity. Fewer people, as a percentage of the population, belong to churches than in generations past, and many of the mainline churches are experiencing declines not only in membership, but in influence on society, government, education, family, and the culture as a whole. As we look around us we see that young people are far more consumed by the death of an entertainer than the death and resurrection of Jesus. We also see that more people are consumed by concern for temporary pleasures than their eternal destiny. This is obviously is dangerous to individual destinies but it is also dangerous to the destiny of our communities and nation. RD: Exactly. People within the church have been warning of the danger we’re facing for decades but the danger has only grown during those decades. We want to point people back to the eternal truth that there is a God and that God has a plan not only for people but for communities, nations, and the world. But we don’t want to just proclaim the truth, though that is obviously where we must start. We also want to explain the evidence and reasons behind our belief. And it turns out that the concept of information forms an extremely powerful line of evidence that points to the fact that God existence can’t be reasonably denied without abandoning any claim of living a life guided by logic and reason. You know it’s not enough to simply point out the danger that comes from abandoning God. We have to do what we can to turn people away from the danger. VK: And the danger posed by abandoning God has been recognized for quite a while now. Almost 3 decades ago, in their 1994 book, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli [TA-CHEL-EE], who are both professors of the philosophy of religion at Boston College, said the following: “Western civilization is for the first time in its history in danger of dying. The reason is spiritual. It is losing its life, its soul; that soul was the Christian faith. The infection killing it is not multiculturalism – other faiths – but the monoculturalism of secularism – no faith, no soul. Our century has been marked by genocide, sexual chaos and money-worship. Unless all the prophets are liars, we are doomed unless we repent. . .The church of Christ will never die, but our civilization will. If the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, this world certainly won’t. We do apologetics not to save the church, but to save the world.” VK: Well, before we go too much farther we want to acknowledge someone who has been very important to our show, Dr. Gregg Alexander. Dr. Alexander practiced medicine in Tallahassee, Florida for over 4 decades but more importantly for us, he led a Sunday school class in his church for more than 25 years. Dr. Alexander is extremely thoughtful and insightful. We are indebted to him because his counsel and insight especially about apologetics has been extremely valuable and elements of it are going to appear throughout this series. We may not always have time to acknowledge a particular example of his contributions so we just want acknowledge his importance and value right up front. So, how do you want to start? RD: Well, let’s take a look at a seemingly innocuous example of something you hear every day that actually has profound implications. How often do you say to someone or have someone say to you “Send me your information.” VK: I imagine that phrase “send me your information” is probably said thousands or millions of times a day all around the world. RD: But what does it mean? VK: For most people it means send me your “contact information” such as phone number, email address, possibly your job or office information and – these days rarely – your mailing address. In other words, “send me your information” is another way of saying tell me how I can get a hold of you. RD: I agree. We ask for people to give us their information without a second thought. And similarly we don’t think very much about the way they are going to send that information. These days it will probably be electronically more often than not but even with electronic transmission the actual media will vary. Some people might use email, others text messages, and in some cases the two people won’t have to do anything at all. If they are close enough some cell phones might automatically exchange information with other phones. VK: And, again, rarely people might send a card, business card, or even a letter to a physical address that would provide the information. RD: Agreed. But the key thing to notice about any and all of these possibilities is that the thing that everyone wants, the information, has nothing to do with the form of transmission. The information will remain the same regardless of whether it’s emailed, sent via the post office or messenger, or even whether someone sent it using smoke signals, Morse code, or carved it on a clay tablet and dropped it off? The information, the object of the transmission, is completely independent of the mode of transmitting it from one party to another. VK: So, what you’re saying is that the content of the information has nothing to do with the method of transmission. And, to carry that thought a little further, the information content has nothing to do with the matter or energy that goes into its production, transmission, or retention. We can type one set of characters on a keyboard and say one thing, and we can type another set of characters on that same keyboard and say something completely different. The same set of plastic, copper, and glass can produce a recipe for tiramisu or the instructions for building a nuclear bomb. We can use a pen and paper to send someone our address and phone number or to give them the location of buried treasure. RD: Exactly. The nature or content of the information has nothing to do with the chemistry or physics used to produce, transmit, or store the information. The same chemistry or physics can produce treasure maps, diagrams for building houses or airplanes, or a formula for a life-saving medicine. You get the idea. So, the question arises then – exactly what is information? VK: I see where you’re going. Information is real. Information has content. Information tells us what is going on in the worlds of chemistry, physics, or biology. But information is not dependent on any of those things. Information can affect chemistry or physics but it is not arise from chemistry or physics. I suppose another way of saying the same thing is that information is not dependent on the matter or energy but matter and energy are used in the transmission or reception of information. When you start to look at it closely information is a tricky sort of thing. RD: Information is a tricky sort of thing because the information itself is non-material but we can perceive it, record it, store it, and transmit it by material means. The fact that information is non-material is a very important attribute to note. Information may be transmitted, stored, and received by material means but none of that affects the information itself. Nor does the type of material being used to transmit or store the information matter. The same chemical formula can be written on paper, appear on a computer screen, be etched into stone, or simply memorized by a person but the formula, the information, remains the same. The non-material nature of information is going to be key fact that we will revisit frequently during this series. VK: Well, here is an obvious question. If information is non-material does that mean it’s spiritual? Christians, of course, acknowledge the reality of the spiritual realm. Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 12 is one of the best known ve