Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information

William A. Dembski

For the scientific community Intelligent Design represents creationism's latest grasp at scientific legitimacy. Accordingly, Intelligent Design is viewed as yet another ill-conceived attempt by creationists to straightjacket science within a religious ideology. But in fact Intelligent Design can be formulated as a scientific theory having empirical consequences and devoid of religious commitments. Over the last seven years the mathematician Keith Devlin, the philosopher David Chalmers, and the physicist David Bohm have all formulated notions of information according to which information constitutes a fundamental entity in the bio-physical universe, on the same par as energy. This is not Claude Shannon's information as carrying capacity of symbol-strings transmitted across a communication channel (i.e. syntactic information). Nor is this Robert Stalnaker's information as ruling out of possible worlds (i.e., semantic information). Rather, this is a notion of functional information, or what David Bohm calls "active information." This is the information that confers function on complex systems, and distinguishes complexity simpliciter from what David Berlinski and Marcel Schutzenberger refer to as "functional complexity." Intelligent Design can be unpacked as a theory of information. As characterized in this theory, information becomes a proper object for scientific investigation. In my paper I shall (1) show how information can be reliably detected and measured, and (2) formulate a conservation law that governs the origin and flow of information. My broad conclusion is that information is not reducible to natural laws, and that the origin of information is best sought in intelligent causes. Intelligent Design thus becomes a theory for detecting and measuring information, explaining its origin, and historically tracing its flow.

Copyright © William A. Dembski