Thursday, January 17, 2013

Argument from information and special pleading

Apologists and creationists are really fond of coming up with special "rules" about how the universe and existence works (some of them being somewhat close to actual physical laws, while others are outright spurious) which supposedly help to "prove" the existence of God. One of the most common problems with these "rules" is that an exception has to be made for God himself. God is always exempt (because if he weren't, then the very thing they are trying to prove becomes contradictory.)

For example, one common argument that they love to spout is a (more or less fictional) "law" that information cannot come from anywhere else than an intelligence, that it cannot come from inert matter, and that the amount of information can never increase. They often refer to a vague alleged discipline of science, usually named "information science," while providing little to no references to actual scientific papers that would support these claims.

Regardless, the major problem with that argument is, once again, that a completely fallacious exemption has to be made for "God." In other words, if the claim is that information cannot come from nothing, that it must always come from an intelligence, where did God get this information then? Remember, the rule was "information must always come from an intelligence." Since this "God" allegedly has information, shouldn't this same rule apply to him as well?

But of course not. God is always (and will always be) exempt from all these rules.

This is a particularly difficult conundrum for the apologists to solve because God allegedly being "spaceless", "timeless", "all-powerful" or "immaterial" (or any of the other adjectives they love to spout) does not actually explain where all that information that God allegedly possesses came from, or why he possesses it, or why he is exempt from the rule.

"It has always existed" is the worst non-answer that could be given to this question. It does not make any sense, and it only raises more questions than it answers.

This fallacy is formally called special pleading. In other words, in order to argue for the existence of God, he has to be exempted from the very rules that they are using for the argument. The rules apply to everything except God, for no good reason.

Quite ironically, the "problem" could be solved by acknowledging that information, like entropy (which it's really closely related to,) can increase locally (in the same way as order can locally increase.) This would explain why God has all that information (especially given that he is allegedly "timeless.")

Of course the problem with acknowledging it is that the very argument from information crumbles, because now God is not necessary to explain it.

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