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How Information Runs the Show in Biology

Photo credit: Sangharsh Lohakare via Unsplash.

What is information? How does it run the show in biology? In anticipation of a new updated second edition of The Design Inference, out this month, today’s classic episode of ID the Future features Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour interviewing the book’s author, intelligent design pioneer William Dembski. They discuss information theory, information as a meaningful reduction of possibilities, Shannon information versus specified information, and how natural selection has come to function as a God substitute for many scientists, despite the lack of evidence. 

“In the biological context…there are a lot more ways to be dead than to be alive,” says Dembski. “What are the ways of being alive? They’re much fewer, and those end up being specified.” Specified information — when improbability meets a recognizable pattern — demands explanation. And while some evolutionary biologists are content to put it down to evolutionary processes, that won’t cut it for those willing to go where the evidence leads. “Information is basically a form of accounting,” Dembski explains. “When you do the accounting, the problem always gets worse as you go back. So you haven’t really explained anything, you’ve just moved the problem around, like a shell game.” Download the podcast or listen to it here.

This is Part 1 of a two-part conversation that originally aired on Dr. Tour’s Science & Faith podcast. It is re-posted here with permission.

Dig Deeper

  • Pre-order the new edition of The Design Inference.
  • Watch this short documentary film The Information Enigma to learn more about where information comes from: