The simple form of this argument is this:
“Only minds can produce information! DNA is information and therefore required a mind to create it!”
Then it is often accompanied by this analogy:
“There is no way the works of Shakespeare could have been produced by random chance. And if you take a play by Shakespeare and you start changing letters randomly then you are destroying information!”
1) Assumes that only minds can create “information”
This is a gaping assumption in their argument. There isn’t a proven basis for it, and it is actually what they are trying to prove so the argument is circular.
2) The actual evidence refutes their argument
The evidence creationists are drawing upon is that human minds create information, so they are assuming this means all information must be created by a mind. I will address this in Points 4-5 but we can actually refute the argument from another, even simpler angle:
If we look at the complete situation the evidence is based on, we remember that minds are themselves comprised of information. So the conclusion that a mind was required to produce human minds/DNA would by necessity produce an infinite regression with no possible beginning to cause it to exist in the first place, meaning the logic is not always true and hence cannot be reliable as a premise.
This means their argument does not address why God is exempt from the very premise which their argument is based on. So it fails to support their claim.
In fact it means that we must conclude that, since there cannot be an infinite regression, the answer is that at some point there was no “prior mind” required to produce certain existing information.
3) Occam’s razor
As mentioned in Point 1, since there must have been some point where no prior mind was required for information to exist, there is no reason at all for why the natural world itself should be insufficient as the source which originally produced information.
So either there was existing information that comprised the mind of some god which had no producer, or some aspects of the the natural world are comprised of information that had no producer.
But since we know the natural world exists, and we do not know a god exists, Occam’s razor cuts out a god due to that hypothesis’ unjustified assumptions. So the argument actually supports atheism.
4) Equivocation fallacy. Misuses term “information”.
The word “information” is very broad and is used for many different things. So we need to be clear about what we mean when we describe DNA as “information”.
Information simply means “the facts learned about something” or “what is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence of things“. Like I said, it’s very broad.
Now the problem is that the creationist argument looks at certain other things we call information (like words in a book) and assumes that all the same exact factors and issues which apply to those things also apply to anything else we call information – even if those factors are not part of the meaning of information.
Doing that is an equivocation fallacy because it uses the same term (information) with at least two different meanings, resulting in an illogical argument and false claim.
For example, a “home” can be a simple hut made of logs, mud, and straw; or it can be a middle-class western-style house in a suburb with electrical wiring, fiberglass insulation, carpeting, and appliances. Both are homes, and the hut does not need to have electrical wiring to be considered a “home”, nor does the house in the suburb need to have a thatched straw roof – because those features are not what define them as “homes”. Likewise, DNA “information” doesn’t have the same issues and traits as written language information. We use the term information for both because of the few aspects they share which fall under that term’s description, not because of the major ways they are different.
I will explain the details of this in Point 4 below, and show why the analogy to human writing doesn’t work.
5) Why Shakespeare Is Not Analogous
Building from Point 4, now we can show why the Shakespeare analogy is all wrong.
Human writing has specific and limited sequences of letters and words which are capable of having any meaning or practical use, because language was designed for communicating ideas and meanings to other humans who have be taught to interpret the sequences of symbols in a particular way (thus for it be considered “information” it must be in a particular form that means something to the interpeter. So the information is a creation of the interpreters for a specific purpose). And on top of this, a specific play is an even more specific arrangement which would be a predecided outcome of the writing.
But DNA are sequences of molecules that react chemically with other molecules and organic compounds. It is subject to the laws of chemistry and physics, not the issues related to human language or other types of information. It produces results regardless of their order – and yes, sometimes they are not beneficial! (which seems to undermine the analogy because it shows that bad changes do occur) And there is no prechosen outcome that DNA must achieve as would be the case with a Shakespearean play. The meaning of them is not dependent on any interpreter, and changes in DNA just produce different traits.
And ironically, “micro-evolution”, which even creationists accept as fact, completely obliterates the creationist’s own Shakespeare analogy. Micro-evolution (like evolution in general) operates by random changes to DNA which result in variations in organisms. Creationists accept that this happens and they already admit that it works! So the facts even they acknowledge themselves contradict and disprove their own argument.