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Information Theory and the End of Materialism

Materialist philosophy lies at the basis of the theory of evolution. Materialism rests on the supposition that everything that exists is matter. According to this philosophy, matter has existed since eternity, will continue to exist forever, and there is nothing but matter. In order to provide support for their claim, materialists use a logic called "reductionism." This is the idea that things which are not observable can also be explained by material causes.

To make matters clearer, let us take the example of the human mind. It is evident that the mind cannot be touched or seen. Moreover, it has no center in the human brain. This situation unavoidably leads us to the conclusion that mind is a concept beyond matter. Therefore, the being which we refer to as "I," who thinks, loves, fears, worries, and feels pleasure or pain, is not a material being in the same way as a sofa, a table or a stone.

Materialists, however, claim that mind is "reducible to matter." According to the materialist claim, thinking, loving, worrying and all our mental activities are nothing but chemical reactions taking place between the atoms in the brain. Loving someone is a chemical reaction in some cells in our brain, and fear is another. The famous materialist philosopher Karl Vogt is notorious for his assertion that "the brain secretes thought just as the liver secretes bile."377 Bile, however, is matter, whereas there is no evidence that thought is.

Reductionism is a logical deduction. However, a logical deduction can be based on solid grounds or on shaky ones. For this reason, the question we need to ask is: What happens when reductionism is compared to scientific data?

Nineteenth-century materialist scientists and thinkers thought that the answer would be that science verifies reductionism. Twentieth-century science, however, has revealed a very different picture.

One of the most salient feature of this picture is "information," which is present in nature and can never be reduced to matter.

The Difference between Matter and Information

DNA

It is impossible for the information inside DNA to have emerged by chance and natural processes.

We earlier mentioned that there is astonishingly comprehensive information contained in the DNA of living things. Something as small as a hundred thousandth of a millimeter across contains a sort of "data bank" that specifies all the physical details of the body of a living thing. Moreover, the body also contains a system that reads this information, interprets it and carries out "production" in line with it. In all living cells, the information in the DNA is "read" by various enzymes, and proteins are produced. This system makes possible the production of millions of proteins every second, of just the required type for just the places where they are needed in our bodies. In this way, dead eye cells are replaced by living ones, and old blood cells by new ones.

At this point, let us consider the claim of materialism: Is it possible that the information in DNA could be reduced to matter, as materialists suggest? Or, in other words, can it be accepted that DNA is merely a collection of matter, and the information it contains came about as a result of the random interactions of such pieces of matter?

All the scientific research, experiments and observations carried out in the twentieth century show that the answer to this question is a definite "No." The director of the German Federal Physics and Technology Institute, Prof. Werner Gitt, has this to say on the issue:

A coding system always entails a nonmaterial intellectual process. A physical matter cannot produce an information code. All experiences show that every piece of creative information represents some mental effort and can be traced to a personal idea-giver who exercised his own free will, and who is endowed with an intelligent mind.... There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter... 378

Werner Gitt's words summarize the conclusions of "information theory," which has been developed in the last 50 years, and which is accepted as a part of thermodynamics. Information theory investigates the origin and nature of the information in the universe. The conclusion reached by information theoreticians as a result of long studies is that "Information is something different from matter. It can never be reduced to matter. The origin of information and physical matter must be investigated separately."

For instance, let us think of the source of a book. A book consists of paper, ink, and the information it contains. Paper and ink are material elements. Their source is again matter: Paper is made of cellulose, and ink of various chemicals. However, the information in the book is nonmaterial, and cannot have a material source. The source of the information in each book is the mind of the person who wrote it.

Moreover, this mind determines how the paper and ink will be used. A book initially forms in the mind of the writer. The writer builds a chain of logic in his mind, and orders his sentences. As a second step, he puts them into material form, which is to say that he translates the information in his mind into letters, using a pen, a typewriter or a computer. Later, these letters are printed in a publishing house, and take the shape of a book made up of paper and ink.

We can therefore state this general conclusion: If physical matter contains information, then there is a Mind possessing superior knowledge that created that matter. It is the Almighty Allah Who perfectly created the entire universe.

The Origin of the Information in Nature

When we apply this scientific definition of information to nature, a very important result ensues. This is because nature overflows with an immense body of information (as, for example, in the case of DNA), and since this information cannot be reduced to matter, it therefore comes from a source beyond matter.

One of the foremost advocates of the theory of evolution, George C. Williams, admits this reality, which most materialists and evolutionists are reluctant to see. Williams has strongly defended materialism for years, but in an article he wrote in 1995, he states the incorrectness of the materialist (reductionist) approach which holds that everything is matter:

Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter… These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term "reductionism." …The gene is a package of information, not an object... In biology, when you're talking about things like genes and genotypes and gene pools, you're talking about information, not physical objective reality... This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.379

Therefore, contrary to the supposition of materialists, the source of the information in nature cannot be matter itself. The source of information is not matter but a superior Wisdom beyond matter. This Wisdom existed prior to matter. The possessor of this Wisdom is Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds. Matter was brought into existence, given form, and organized by Him.

Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained Israeli scientist who worked in physics and biology and authored The Science of God, makes a number of important comments on this subject. In his more recent book, Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, Schroeder sets out the conclusion revealed by such branches of science as molecular biology and quantum physics:

A single consciousness, a universal wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom. In the laboratories we experience it as information that first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter. Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to represent a level of information, of wisdom.380

According to Schroeder, the contemporary scientific conclusions have enabled science and theology to agree on a common point. That is the fact of creation. Science has now reached the point of discovering this fact which the Divine religions have been teaching for thousands of years.

Materialist Admissions

We have already described how one of the fundamental principles that make up life is "knowledge," and it is clear that this knowledge proves the existence of an intelligent Creator. The theory of evolution, which tries to account for life as being the result of coincidences in a purely material world, and the materialist philosophy it is based on, are quite helpless in the face of this reality.

When we look at evolutionists' writings, we sometimes see that this helplessness is openly admitted. One forthright authority on this subject is the well-known French zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé. He is a materialist and an evolutionist, although he sometimes openly admits the quandaries Darwinist theory faces. According to Grassé, the most important truth which invalidates the Darwinist account is the knowledge that gives rise to life:

Any living being possesses an enormous amount of "intelligence," very much more than is necessary to build the most magnificent of cathedrals. Today, this "intelligence" is called information, but it is still the same thing. It is not programmed as in a computer, but rather it is condensed on a molecular scale in the chromosomal DNA or in that of every other organelle in each cell. This "intelligence" is the sine qua non of life. Where does it come from?... This is a problem that concerns both biologists and philosophers, and, at present, science seems incapable of solving it.381

The reason why Pierre-Paul Grassé says, "Science seems incapable of solving it," is that he does not want any nonmaterialist explanation to be thought of as "scientific." However, science itself invalidates the hypotheses of materialist philosophy, and proves the existence of a Creator. Grassé and other materialist "scientists" either ignore this reality, or else say, "Science does not explain this." They do this because they are materialists first and scientists second, and they continue to believe in materialism, even if science demonstrates the exact opposite.

For this reason, in order to possess a correct scientific attitude, one has to distinguish between science and materialist philosophy.

 

Footnotes

377 Encyclopædia Britannica, "Modern Materialism." (emphasis added)

378 Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, CLV, Bielefeld, Germany, pp. 107, 141. (emphasis added)

379 George C. Williams, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995, pp. 42-43. (emphasis added)

380 Gerald Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, Touchstone, New York, 2001, p. xi.

381 Pierre P. Grassé, The Evolution of Living Organisms, 1977, p. 168.

 

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