In Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information, noted mathematician and philosopher William Dembski challenges the oft-made claim that mind is a myth and that everything about us—including our thoughts, our ethics, and our decisions—are ultimately the products of unguided material processes. Dembski provocatively argues that the opposite is true: In light of modern information theory, it is materialism, not mind that is the “myth.” The capstone of a trilogy that includes The Design Inference and No Free Lunch, Being as Communion is already being hailed as “staggeringly original,” “brilliant,” and “a tour de force.” Topics addressed by the book include:
- how information, not matter, is turning out to be the primary “stuff” of the world.
- how information can help us understand what it means to have free will.
- how information can help us understand the existence of the soul.
- how information can be measured.
- how information poses a fundamental challenge to Darwinian evolution.
- how information gives fresh meaning to the ideas of Plato and Aristotle.
- how information lends support to the modern theory of intelligent design.
Along the way, Dembski rebuts several common misconceptions about the theory of intelligent design, and he explores common ground with non-theistic critics of materialism such as New York University philosopher Thomas Nagel, author of Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (2012).
Calling Dembski “one of the most original and rigorous thinkers of his generation,” University of Texas philosopher Robert Koons writes that “Philosophical and theological critics of the ‘intelligent design’ (ID) movement need to read this book, since here Dembski definitively smashes the common caricatures and misrepresentations of the movement… Dembski argues persuasively that information cannot be simply identical with its physical manifestations, and that the concepts of information and teleology are indispensable tools for the contemporary metaphysician.” Similar praise comes from neurosurgeon Michael Egnor at Stony Brook University Medical Center, who calls Being as Communion “brilliant and.. a desperately needed antidote to materialist tropes that have crippled modern science and philosophy.”
Dembski’s new book will be of interest to students, scholars, scientists, philosophers, theologians, and anyone with a desire to think deeply about the nature of reality and the meaning of human life in the cosmos.
Table of Contents
1. The Challenge of a Material World
2. Free Will: The Power of No
3. Information as Ruling Out Possibilities
4. Possible Worlds
5. Matrices of Possibility
6. Measuring Information
7. Information Theory
8. Intelligence vs. Nature?
9. Natural Teleological Laws
10. Getting Matter from Information
11. The Medium and the Message
12. Embodiment and Transposition
14. An Informationally Porous Universe
16. Contingency and Chance
18. Conservation of Information
19. Natural Selection
20. The Creation of Information
21. A World in Communion
Praise for Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information
“Being as Communion is a masterpiece. Dembski’s treatment of information is deep, rich and staggeringly original, gathering together many different threads from theology, philosophy and science. In an intellectual world that prizes outrageous proposals, Dembski modestly seeks to turn the world upside down by making the case that information is more fundamental than matter or energy. He thereby illuminates the primacy of mind in the cosmos. This book is a fresh and significant threat to materialist imperialism.”
“William Dembski is one of the most original and rigorous thinkers of his generation, and his new book, Being as Communion, pulls together in a satisfying way the many threads in the theory of design and information that he has developed over the last 15 years. Philosophical and theological critics of the ‘intelligent design’ (ID) movement need to read this book, since here Dembski definitively smashes the common caricatures and misrepresentations of the movement, including the notion that ID is committed to a metaphysics that is mechanist, dualist, interventionist, or occasionalist. Dembski argues persuasively that information cannot be simply identical with its physical manifestations, and that the concepts of information and teleology are indispensable tools for the contemporary metaphysician.”
“The first Scientific Revolution was the recognition that the book of nature was written in mathematics. The second Scientific Revolution—that the chapter on biology is written in information theory—is taking place in our lifetime. Biology is replete with information, from the genetic code and intricate intracellular nanotechnology to the obvious teleology of evolution. How can we make philosophical and theological sense of biological information? Bill Dembski, a pioneer in Intelligent Design science and a mathematician, philosopher and theologian, is uniquely situated to draw together the metaphysical implications of the information revolution in biology. Dembski succeeds astonishingly well. He asks the salient question: what if the fundamental stuff of the world is not matter but information? This rekindling of Platonic and Aristotelian insight is brilliant and is a desperately needed antidote to materialist tropes that have crippled modern science and philosophy. Dembski’s remarkable insight—that information in nature is communion—is metaphysical and theological sagacity of a high order. A magnificent achievement.”
“Dembski has become widely known for his quest to elucidate the role of information in our understanding of science and scientific processes. In this book he clarifies and develops some of the major themes of intelligent design, particularly reflecting on the ‘nature of nature itself.’ Materialism sees matter as basic: Information is merely a form of matter. Dembski argues emphatically that the boot is on the other foot: matter is really a form of information. Building on the ideas of John Wheeler and von Baeyer, this is a tour de force of analytical writing, and another serious wound to the hegemony of materialism in modern science and culture.”
“This is a clear, fresh, stimulating, and provocative book. I enjoyed reading it, and recommend it to anyone who would like to think more deeply about information, evolution and creativity.”