Can you find God in Physics and Astronomy?
This forum has dealt in detail with Creationism vs. Science in the good old days. Perhaps we could return to the days of vigorous debate by addressing the concept of Intelligent Design which seemingly grew out of the failure of creationism.
The program of those espousing Intelligent Design (ID) seems to be focused on the theory of evolution rather than physics. A balanced summary of ID can be found on the NATURE Magazine on-line. It seems that ID appeals too many as a resolution of the religion/science conflict. But it is also rejected by both theologians and scientists.
ID argues that some invisible intelligence is responsible for the design of life forms. That is, they claim that biology cannot explain certain aspects of the evolution of life, in particular the gradual transformation of one species to another required for the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. That claim is outside the scope of physics and astronomy.
However, they do espouse one aspect of the physics and biology of life that may be true: our genes do not seem to carry enough information to even design a human brain. To quote Prof. Chris King “30,000 genes still don't look like they have anywhere enough information to specify 10^15 synapses” Ref: WEDconscious@yahoogroups.com, Mon, 22 Aug 2005. Russian emigrant scientist Simon Berkovich (now at the George Washington University) agrees. http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0207018 and http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0111093. He claims that our DNA is just a ‘barcode’, an address that draws on information stored elsewhere. In his estimation the information content of DNA is about what could produce a “blurry TV image”. Neither of these scientists is in the ID camp. To read about information theory from one who is an IDer, click on http://www.leaderu.com/offices/dembski/docs/bd-idesign2.html.
Enough background material. The fact, if it is one, that our genes do not carry enough information for growth of a living being of any kind, is much more profound than the mere negation of gradual evolution. If true it implies that there exists an invisible and undetectable by experiment medium in which the information is stored, as Berkovich claims. But before extrapolating on this possibility, I want to point out that physics now seems to say that the universe runs on information rather than energy. The crucial evidence comes from the famed double slit experiment where electrons or photons irradiate a screen with two slits. The particles passing through the slits are collected on a second screen or detector array and an interference pattern emerges, unless we know which slit the particle passed through. Then the pattern disappears. Wave theory solves the problem easily as the EM waves or electron waves can interfere. Supposedly the waves collapse into particles when detected on the second screen. Or if we detect them on the first screen, they collapse there and the interference pattern is lost.
However, the sophistication of performing this experiment has now advanced to the point where we can learn which slit then particle is going through without perturbing the particle. Yet the interference pattern is still wiped. So these experimenters claim that information controls the world. Whether this is really true depends on your interpretation of quantum mechanics, and like religion, there seems to be no one correct interpretation. For example, it could be claimed that just knowing where a wave is collapses it. Nevertheless it does appear that information is fundamental in the universe.
The counter argument to the Berkovich claim is that information can be created, equivalent to the reduction of entropy, in an open system given a supply of energy. I cannot resolve this dispute.
So let’s examine the consequences of assuming the claim is correct. It seems that a secondary invisible undetectable medium is needed to store the required information for life forms to grow. It’s still part of nature. We just cannot see it. Since it can store information, it probably can manipulate information and therefore sustain intelligence. That does not mean that a single intelligence is controlling everything, although that is still a possibility. This a bottom up approach to intelligent design. It seems to suggest that the laws of growth are stored in such a medium. It is possible that the laws of evolutionary change are stored in such a medium. So evolution may be an automatic response of nature rather than the ct of a single intelligent being.
Indeed, computer experiments can be used to mimic evolution including the spontaneous creation of new designs above certain levels of complexity. On the other hand, such experiments suggest that the universe is run by mathematics. Inherent in the mathematics of the computer program is sufficient information for evolution and even the design of electronic circuitry without the need of external intelligence be it cosmic or human. These computer experiments imply that the universe, beyond just information, is fundamentally mathematical.