Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

Information as Matter’s “Fifth State” — A Physicist’s Contortion


Materialism drives its adherents into twists of logic, in line with remarks that Robert J. Marks made over the past weekend at the Dallas Conference on Science & Faith. Marks was introducing one of the authors of the newly expanded 1984 intelligent design “Ur-text,” The Mystery Life’s Origin. As Evolution News summarized, “His comments included the observation that as a theist, Dr. Marks is grateful to have all possible scientific explanations of the natural world, including intelligent design, available to him whereas atheists and materialists have that option arbitrarily foreclosed to them.”

Whether on the origin of life, of biological information, or of the cosmos itself, how far these contortionists have been compelled to go is indicated in a fascinating post by Denyse O’Leary at Mind Matters. Dark matter is the unknown substance thought to make up some 27 percent of the universe. It can’t be observed but only theorized as necessary to explain our other observations:

No one has ever found a single particle of dark matter. Yet theoretical physicists are certain it exists, helping hold the universe together.

One physicist now suggests that this “fifth state” of matter (the other four non-dark states are solid, liquid, gas, and plasma) might be information. But then information must be a physical thing.

We live and work with masses of information all the time. But we view it as immaterial.

For example, let’s assume that your password exists (you hope) only in your own mind. It can make things happen but not in quite the way a key fits a lock. That is, it doesn’t physically “make” things happen, the way a key physically turns the lock. Your mind directs your fingers to enter the password into an electronic system and then things start to happen.

But the password itself has no known material existence. It is likely associated with neurons in your brain. But numbers like “7” and letters like “h” are not material in themselves.

But if information does have mass, we are asked to consider that it could be the 27% of the universe that we just can’t “find,” the part we call “dark matter”:

“Dr. Melvin Vopson of the University of Portsmouth, in the UK…, has a hypothesis he calls the mass-energy-information equivalence. It states that information is the fundamental building block of the universe, and it has mass. This accounts for the missing mass within galaxies, thus eliminating the hypothesis of dark matter entirely.


In principle, Vopson’s idea that information is fundamental to the organization of the universe is not new or different. Physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911–2008) thought that “Everything is information.”

If everything is information, and everything is material, it follows that information must be material in nature, too.

O’Leary asked mathematician, philosopher, and ID proponent William Dembski for a comment, and he indicated that Vopson had made a basic category error. “Vopson seems to me confusing information as represented in matter, which is always going to involve mass-energy, and information as a mathematical entity that is multirealizable in and outside of matter.” Denyse observers: “One underlying issue may be that materialist thinkers must see information as material, whether that approach fits information or not.” Exactly. They have no choice. She adds that because these thinkers are so straightjacketed by their materialist premise, they are driven to identify even consciousness, which unlike dark matter we can directly experience, as “yet another state of matter.”

If the premise is a wrong, it’s predictable that it would condemn believers to advocate absurdities. And so it does.

Photo: A contortionist, 1880, by George Eastman House from Rochester, NY, United States.