September 10 – the Word and an information-based world

September 10, 2022 Randy Bushey

by Randy Bushey

In the beginning was the Word…(John 1:1)

The introduction to John’s gospel is unusual, unique, maybe even strange.

John, writing near the end of the 1st century as probably the only remaining apostle of Christ, places Jesus in metaphysical pre-history: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

And although the Greek term logos (translated Word in most English Bibles) was used over 300 times by the New Testament writers, John alone uses it as a title for Christ.

And somewhat surprising – at least to me – John uses the Logos title in only 3 of the 50 NT chapters he is credited as writing:

— four times in John chapter 1;

— in the first verse of his first epistle – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —  this we proclaim concerning the Word [Logos] of life (1John 1:1);

— and where John envisions the future Rider on the White Horse: He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word [Logos] of God (Revelation 19:13).

So what did logos mean? In the Greek-speaking world of the 1st century, it was a term conveying a broad spectrum of ideas:

— in communication it was an idea or concept;

— in commerce it referenced the reconciling of accounts (like we might reconcile our bank-book or charge-card statement).

— in math it related to proportionality.

And, Logos is the etymological basis for the English term logic. In fact, the opening chapter of John’s gospel has been rendered by one theology professor as follows: “In the beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was with God, and the Logic was God.”1

But the most interesting usage and application of logos was in the realm of philosophy.

And in this way, John – the “unlearned and ignorant” (Acts 4:13) fisherman from the sea of Galilee – is ranked with the prodigious thinking titans of the Greco-Roman world.

In philosophy, logos was an abstract principle of Greek cosmic law dating back to the time of the philosopher Heraclitus, 500 years before Christ.

And it was heavily freighted with meaning.

Logos was the fixed point of reference in the universe, bringing uniformity out of confusion, harmony out of cacophony, and order out of chaos. Consequently, logos was the controlling principle of the universe.

With that background, the opening sentences of John’s Gospel were more profound in their impact on Greek metaphysical thinking than we can imagine, a bombshell on the playground of philosophical thought of that – and every – era.

The logos that results in uniformity, harmony and order – the cosmos’ controlling principle – is not some ambiguous force or vague energy field.

John explains: In the beginning was the Word…

Or, in the beginning the Word/Logos already was.

And verse 2 adds only one simple – but critical – piece of data: the Logos is a Person!

He was with God in the beginning (John 1:2).

But here’s where the use of Logos intersects with contemporary science.

The Word is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. The Scripture affirms  that God who is Triune, created all that exists through the agency of the Son.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (John 1:3, see also Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2).

Oxford mathematician John Lennox: “The term ‘Word’ itself conveys to us notions of command, meaning, code, communication – thus information; as well as the creative power needed to realize what was specified by that information…we are increasingly learning, this is a word-based universe.”2

Scientists are discovering today that biological life is informational and language-based; that highly intricate informational management and processing systems exist in every human cell!

Dr Tony Martin graphically explains: “The more science looks at the cell, the more complex it becomes. In just one cell the amount of genetic information has been estimated to fill a thousand books of 500 pages each. That is just one cell among trillions in the body! Where did all this information come from? It takes a lot of misplaced faith to believe this all happened by chance.”3

Information is an irreducible and immaterial quantity. Again we see in creation irreducible complexity and essential non-materiality.

So how does this engage with the popular, ubiquitous concept of macro-evolution accounting for the existence of life?

Lennox again: “the existence of complex specified (language-like) information that is found in the genetic structure of all living things provides a formidable challenge to the notion that unguided natural processes can account for life”.4

Geneticist Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins adds: “…since each type of molecule carries and conveys complex encoded information, an intelligent information originator is the only logical cause. Code implies a coder, not naturalistic random processes.”5

Referencing DNA, Dr. Stephen Meyer observes, “It implies the need for an intelligent designer because…it possesses an identical feature (namely, information content) that intelligently designed human texts and computer languages possess.”6

Furthermore, in the first 26 verses of the Genesis 1 creation narrative – and leading up to the creation of man – God said appears 8 times; to whom was He speaking?

Not only does the Bible assert that God spoke the cosmos into existence – using language – but that the Word/Logos regulates the universe: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). But here’s what is astounding and relevant to our theme: Christ is sustaining all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3).

The evident observation: it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Word/Logos encoded Himself into humanity by creating our bodies – and every other living thing – with information-based building blocks!

In him was life, and that life was the light of men (John 1:4).

Takeaway: The Creator-God has determined to construct our universe as information-based, language rich, with encoded information pervading throughout.

Why?

Is this structure all part of a semantic dimension intentionally pointing to the Word/Logos as our Redeemer and Saviour?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

 

 

1 translation by 20th century philosopher, professor, theologian Gordon H. Clark

2 John Lennox, Cosmic Chemistry – Do God and Science Mix?, Lion Hudson IP Limited, 2021.

3 Tony Martin in The Creator Left Fingerprints, Project Co-ordinator: David Ayer; Jana Bolton – Editor;

Disciple Publishing, 2021

Lennox, Cosmic Chemistry.

5 Jeffrey Tomkins, the Impossibility of Life’s Evolutionary Beginnings, website icr.org,                               The Institute for Creation Research.

6  Stephen Meyer, DNA and Other Things, First Things, April 2000.

 

~ graphic by vale on freeimages.com