Peer-Reviewed Paper Investigating Origin of Information Endorses Irreducible Complexity and Intelligent Design
A peer-reviewed paper, "Information and Entropy -- Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems?," by University of Leeds professor Andy McIntosh in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics expressly endorses intelligent design (ID) via an exploration of a key question in ID thinking:
A professor of thermodynamics and combustion theory, McIntosh is well acquainted with the workings of machinery. His argument is essentially twofold:
(2) Second, he argues that the information in living systems (similar to computer software) uses such machines and in fact requires machines to operate (what good is a program without a computer to run it?). An example is the genome sitting on the DNA molecule. From a thermodynamics perspective, the only way to make sense of this situation is to understand that the information is non-material and constrains the thermodynamics so that the local matter and energy are in a non-equilibrium state.
McIntosh addresses the objection that, thermodynamically speaking, highly organized low entropy structures can be formed at the expense of an increase in entropy elsewhere in the universe. However, he notes that this argument fails when applied to the origin of biological information:
McIntosh then tackles the predominant reductionist view of biological information which "regards the coding and language of DNA as essentially a phenomenon of the physics and chemistry of the nucleotides themselves." He argues that this classical view is wrong, for "biological structures contain coded instructions which ... are not defined by the matter and energy of the molecules carrying this information."
According to McIntosh, Shannon information is not a good measure of biological information since it is "largely not relevant to functional information at the phenotype level." In his view, "[t]o consider biological information as simply a 'by product' of natural selective forces operating on random mutations is not only counter-intuitive, but scientifically wrong." According to McIntosh, one major reason for this is "the irreducibly complex nature of the machinery involved in creating the DNA/mRNA/ ribosome/amino acid/protein/DNA-polymerase connections." He continues:
Further citing Signature in the Cell, McIntosh states:
So how do biological systems achieve their highly ordered, low-entropy states? McIntosh's argument is complementary to that of Stephen Meyer's, but it takes a more thermodynamic approach. According to McIntosh, information is what allows biological systems to attain their high degrees of order:
McIntosh solves the problem of the origin of information by arguing that it must arise in a "top-down" fashion which requires the input of intelligence:
This thinking can be applied to DNA: since "the basic coding is the cause (and thus reflects an initial purpose) rather than the consequence, [the top-down approach] gives a much better paradigm for understanding the molecular machinery which is now consistent with known thermodynamic principles." McIntosh explains that the low-entropy state of biological systems is the result of the workings of machines, which must be built by intelligence:
He concludes his paper with an express endorsement of intelligent design: "the implication of this paper is that it supports the so-called intelligent design thesis - that an intelligent designer is needed to put the information into the biological system."
I have no doubt that the editors of International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics will take much heat for publishing this paper. Even though they make it clear that "[t]he reader should not assume that the Journal or the reviewers agree with the conclusions of the paper," they should be commended for their courage in publishing it it and calling it a "a valuable contribution that challenges the conventional vision that systems can design and organise themselves." They write, "The Journal hopes that the paper will promote the exchange of ideas in this important topic" -- showing that there is hope for true academic freedom on the debate over ID in some corners of the scientific community.