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Apologetics Press :: Bible Bullets

Immaterial Information
by Kyle Butt, M.A.
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The American Heritage dictionary defines materialism as, “The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.” Evolutionist Paul Davies wrote: “The materialist believes that mental states and operation are nothing but physical states and operations” (1983, p. 82). In short, there is an idea prevalent among those who believe in evolution that matter is the only “real” thing that exists. If it is not material or physical, then it is not a part of the Universe, and is either non-existent or unimportant.

The fundamental flaw with this particular theory is the fact that it can be proven that some things do exist which are not material. Among the most obvious of those is information. In a book titled In Six Days, Nancy M. Darrall gives an excellent summary of the problem that information poses to the theory of materialism. For instance, suppose that etched in the sand of the beach are the words, “Sam is six feet tall.” A passerby reads that message, calls his wife, and says over the phone, “Sam is six feet tall.” His wife sits down and writes a letter to her sister, in which she pens the words, “Sam is six feet tall.” Her sister, who happens to be deaf, reads the letter and says to her husband in sign language, “Sam is six feet tall.” Her husband watches the signs, translates the message into Spanish, and records it on a CD. A man who writes sky messages hears the CD, gets into his plane and scrolls in the sky, “Sam is six feet tall.” The man standing on the beach who originally phoned his wife sees the message in the sky, looks down at the sentence on the beach, and accurately notes that the two messages contain the same information.

Now, let’s look at our scenario. First, the sand on which the message originated did not inherently contain the information, since the message could be read without ever physically contacting the sand. Second, the message was sent through telephone lines that did not inherently contain the information, since the message was in the husband’s mind before he picked up the phone, and none of his brains cells was sent through the phone line. Third, the information cannot be linked to the physical properties of the pen, ink, or paper, since the message was in the mind of the wife before she starting writing. Fourth, when the information was passed using sign language, no physical contact was made, yet the information was accurately transferred. Finally, the sky-written message contained the same information as the message in the sand, and any average adult could come to that conclusion.

What does all this prove? It proves that information is not material or physical. It is something that can be transferred via material media like pen, ink, voice, sand, air, etc. But its substance is something completely different from the medium used to convey the message. Millions of processes everyday deal strictly with information. From DNA to desktop computers, multiplied millions of processes focus primarily on information. This information can be transferred, translated, decoded, and encoded into a host of different physical media without ever altering the actual information.

So what does that mean? If information is not material, and information does exist, then some things that are not material do exist.

One of those immaterial beings is God. The Bible says that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). He is the great Knower, the master Giver of information, Who sustains all things by “the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

Davies, Paul (1983), God and the New Physics (New York: Simon & Schuster).

Darrall, Nancey (2000), In Six Days, ed. John Ashton (Green Forest, AR: Master Books)

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