This post is an expansion of a comment I left over at SMRT a while back. The topic was 'information' and whether or not it can be considered as a measurable quantifiable 'thing'. As stated by WEM in the OP:
There are a bunch of conservation laws (energy, momentum [angular and linear], electrical charge, etc); simply put, the value of X in a closed system will be unchanged no matter how that system changes.
It seems to me that Christian fundamentalists are trying to get "Information" added to the list. Although the devil's in the details (re. the definition of "information", whether a system is open or closed, etc), the idea is that it requires an external agent (ie. God) to introduce information to a system.
So is the total amount of information conserved? Is information an objective 'thing' that can be used by Creationists as some sort of proof for their God?
Here's my take on it...
Since different people can glean different information from the exact same source, this means that the very existence of information is subjective. It is fallacious to say that 'the information is there, you're just not seeing it', because that would leave open the possibility that there is additional information present which nobody has seen, and hence this refutes the notion that there is a quantifiable amount of information in the first place.
There could always be more information.
If two people are watching a documentary, they are taking in information. However, if one of them falls asleep before the end, the amount of information in the universe will be less than what would have existed had they both stayed awake. Thus, it is impossible to assign a tangible value to the amount of information in any system at any time, and so it is also impossible to definitively state whether it has increased or not - the amount of information might have increased for one observer but decreased for another.
The following scenario shows what I mean...
Two men watch a library and all its original contents (no other copies) burn to the ground. The first man observes a loss of information as hundreds of thousands of original books are incinerated. Most people would probably agree with this man. However, the second man, who is not interested in literature, observes an increase in information because he is an arsonist and has thus gained plenty of information from the experience. Who is to say that more information was lost than gained? What if 2 arsonists gleaned information from the fire? Would that mean that twice as much information was gained? If so, what if a billion arsonists were watching? By increasing the amount of arsonists watching, at some point in theoretical space more information would have been gained than lost. The same can be demonstrated the opposite way too, meaning information is subjective and can't be quantified or said to have definitively increased or decreased.
I'm not claiming that this example proves anything - I don't know enough about this subject and I imagine the definition of information is fuzzy at best. However, it does seem to suggest that information is not an objective thing that can be used to prove the existence of a God; eh sorry, I mean of an Intelligent Designer.