Science

Molecular biologist discovers the weaknesses of assuming that “science” has all the answers

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Quite the story:

Breaking free was a slow process, akin to chipping away at a dungeon door with a dull spoon. Early on in life, my curiosity led me to ask questions. I saw contradictions in some of what I had been taught. If humans were a blind product of evolutionary chance, with no special purpose or significance, then how could the stated goals of socialism—to advance human dignity and value—make sense? And if religion, particularly Christianity, was really such a terrible historical evil, then why were so many Christian clergy members involved in the civil rights movement? …

I was disturbed to learn that, according to science, some things are actually unknowable. It is impossible to know, for instance, the position and speed of an electron simultaneously. This is a critical feature of quantum mechanics, even though it makes little rational sense. If the uncertainty principle is true (and it must be, since so much modern technology is based on it), then how valid is the idea of a purely deterministic and predictable world?

Sy Garte, “I Assumed Science Had All the Answers. Then I Started Asking Inconvenient Questions” at Christianity Today

Sy Garte, meet Chaitin’s number The unknowable number.

Give up on materialism.

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

47 Replies to “Molecular biologist discovers the weaknesses of assuming that “science” has all the answers

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Scientists, above all others, should be well aware that science does not have all the answers.

    Materialism is not a faith. It offers no moral guidance. It does not promise a life after this one, that we will live forever and be reunited with all our loved ones who have already passed. It does not offer a benign father-figure who loves us above all other things. Small wonder that a human being who is looking for such comforting promises will turn towards religion.

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    Materialism offers nothing other than misery. To believe one has no value is to be a miserable person. Free will in humans has been proven several times over, yet materialist refuse to accept the evidence.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    polistra says:

    If he thinks modern tech is based on Quantum Quackery, he’s not done chipping yet. Quantum is just a rather unhelpful way of explaining things like transistors, which were developed by gradual experimentation and improvement in materials and manufacturing, not by theory.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Sev states, “Scientists, above all others, should be well aware that science does not have all the answers. Materialism is not a faith. It offers no moral guidance.,,, etc..”

    Funny how Seversky, without even batting an eyelid, jumps straight from the fact that science does not have all the answers to pointing out the obvious deficiencies in materialism as a coherent philosophy and/or worldview.

    FYI Seversky, Materialism does not now, nor has it ever, equaled science. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, It is impossible for science to ever be based on the philosophy of materialism.

    One of the greatest lies taught in Colleges to today is the falsehood that in order to be ‘scientific’ you must assume materialism and/or naturalism as a starting philosophical assumption. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The fact of the matter is that all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism and/or materialism.

    From the essential Christian presuppositions that undergird the founding of modern science itself, (namely that the universe is rational and that the minds of men, being made in the ‘image of God’, can dare understand that rationality), to the intelligent design of the scientific instruments and experiments themselves, to the logical and mathematical analysis of experimental results themselves, from top to bottom, science itself is certainly not to be considered a ‘natural’ endeavor of man.
    Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever found just laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature. Not one experimental result would ever be rationally analyzed since there would be no immaterial minds to rationally analyze the immaterial logic and immaterial mathematics that lay behind the intelligently designed experiments in the first place.
    Again, all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism.

    Moreover, although the Darwinian atheist firmly believes he is on the terra firma of science, (in his appeal, even demand, for methodological naturalism), the fact of the matter is that Darwinists are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to:

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist (who believes Darwinian evolution to be true) is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. the illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who also must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the hopelessness of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is simply too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must also hold beauty itself to be illusory (Darwin).
    Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    Darwinian Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism vs. Reality – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaksmYceRXM

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist may firmly believe that he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for naturalistic explanations over and above God as a viable explanation), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists themselves are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    It would be hard to fathom a worldview more antagonistic to modern science, indeed more antagonistic to reality itself, than Atheistic materialism and/or methodological naturalism have turned out to be.

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  6. 6
    mahuna says:

    ORGANIZED Religion is about creating a bureaucracy to scare people into paying them not to perform any USEFUL work. Organized Religion is linked to the replacement of tribal councils by dictatorial kings. See almost anything by Dan Quinn. The Celts had a perfectly good shamanic religion going until the Romans showed up “converted” (at sword point) everybody to the bureaucracy of Roman Catholicism. The Church then banned all kinds of secular parties (birthday parties, funeral parties, party parties…) because it was suddenly both a civil offense and a “sin” to hold ANY gathering not administered by a priest. The HUGE holes in Christian history and theology can ONLY be sidestepped by the COMPLETE control of the discussion by clerical bureaucrats. Ya might wanna start your self-education with the ancient Myth of Isis and Osiris…

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Oh Goody, the easily refuted myths of Isis and Osiris is offered once again in rebuttal to the rich apologetic history of Christianity.

    As Pauli would have said, that is ‘not even wrong’. And I might add that it is also VERY intellectually lazy!

    Jesus and the Story of Osiris and Horus
    Dr. Craig
    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155725681608229

    Sir Edward Clark — a prominent lawyer in Great Britain “As a lawyer, I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To me, the evidence is conclusive; and over and over again in the high court, I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling. The Gospel evidence for the resurrection I accept unreservedly as the testimony of truthful men to facts that they were able to substantiate.”

    Canon Westcott — for years a brilliant scholar at Cambridge University “Indeed, taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”

    Thomas Arnold — Professor of History at Oxford University; author of a 3-volume history on ancient Rome “I have been used for many years to study the history of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them; and I know of no fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
    http://www.awordfromtheword.org/what-if.htm

    “I humbly add I have spent more than 42 years as a defense trial lawyer appearing in many parts of the world and am still in active practice. I have been fortunate to secure a number of successes in jury trials and I say unequivocally the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”
    – Sir Lionel Luckhoo. A British lawyer knighted for his work. He won 245 consecutive murder cases.

    “Let [the Gospel’s] testimony be sifted, as it were given in a court of justice on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to a rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”
    Simon Greenleaf from his book “Testimony of the Evangelicals”. Greenleaf was one of the founders of the Harvard Law School who wrote the book “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence”. He was an atheist until some students challenged him to examine the evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

    “One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate.”
    Skeptic, Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted (2008) pg. 162

    “The historian… cannot justifiably deny the empty tomb”, because using standard historical criteria, “the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that the tomb was indeed found empty.”
    Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992), p. 176.

    “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
    Gerd Lüdemann – Skeptical historian (and atheist), What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 8.)

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    23 Reasons Why Scholars Know Jesus Is Not A Copy Of Pagan Religions. – 2015
    Excerpt: 1. Professional scholars unanimously reject the claim that Jesus is a pagan copy.
    2. Experts in the field unanimously agree that Jesus lived and that we can know things about him. This is very unlike the many pagan gods.
    3. We actually know very little about these pagan secretive religions.
    4. Most of what we know of secretive pagan religions comes after Christianity, not before it.
    5. The Jewish were a people who refrained from allowing pagan myths to invade their culture.
    6. The New Testament canon is history unlike much of the pagan secretive mysteries.
    7. Unlike the pagan secretive religions, Jesus is an ancient figure we can actually know about, what he thought of himself, and what he did as a historical figure of history:
    8. The Jesus of history does not fit the profile of someone that would be a myth.
    9. Much of these secretive pagan religions have little to do with concrete history.
    10. Evidence of dishonest pseudo-scholar work – Dorothy Murdock:
    11. None of the mythicists are actual scholars in the relevant fields of expertise.
    12. Jesus’ virgin birth is unique.
    13. Jesus’ death had a radical impact on his disciples; a feat that no pagan god can boast.
    14. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is unique.
    15. The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Mithras is rejected by scholars.
    16. That Jesus is a copy of Horus is rejected by scholars.
    17. That Jesus was a copy of Dionysus is rejected by scholars.
    18. That Jesus is a copy of Krishna is rejected by scholars.
    19. That Jesus was a copy of Attis is rejected by scholars.
    20. That Jesus was a copy of the Buddha is rejected by scholars.
    22. That Jesus was a copy parallel of Zoroaster is rejected by scholars.
    23. Jesus’ crucifixion in comparison to other alleged deities is unique.
    https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/23-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-is-not-a-copy-of-pagan-religions/

    Are There Other Resurrection Myths? – Dr. Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSmykWnFOS0

    Was Jesus a copycat Savior? – video playlist
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FR08QtvapM&list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TVOYpPpjYhTUHXycJrY6P2I

    Was Jesus a Myth? Part 1 – Dr. James White – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....Yo#t=1951s

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    @ bb77
    Thank you for taking care of that zeitgeist crackpot conspiracy crap that mahuna put up

    Trent Horn did a really good job tearing all of that apart to nearly 6 years ago on Catholic answers

    I mean it’s only been refuted like thousands of times

    Why it keeps coming up is mind blowing

    Like thousands of scholars have shut down that nonsense the closest thing they have is Gilgamesh’s epic to Noah’s Ark and even that has been shot down. It actually lend credence to the fact that there was a flood in that area of the world at the time

    I mean really the Osiris Jesus stuff it’s just irritating at this point

  10. 10
    Belfast says:

    Mahuna, you don’t know what you are talking about.
    Your brand of ignorance gives ignorance a bad name.
    I am a Celt. Born in Belfast.
    Point one We had no Shamans – there were druids of whom we know almost nothing. They left no writings.
    Point two we had a developed legal system. Even came up with the concept of copyright.
    Point three. The romans left Ireland alone, what they ‘knew’ of Ireland was mostly wrong. They did zip with swordpoints.
    Don’t apologise for your ignorance, it is curable, but don’t spread it.

  11. 11
    EDTA says:

    >Materialism is not a faith. It offers no moral guidance. It does not promise a life after this one…It does not offer a benign father-figure…

    And as a bonus, those who advocate strongly for materialism will offer to take away a Christian’s hope, if that were possible, so even more people will be left without any. Some people actually need a transcendent source of hope to get through this life, but the materialist has no way to console them.

  12. 12
    Viola Lee says:

    I don’t think it would be correct to to say the materialist has no compassion. Materialists are human beings and probably are in general as compassionate as others.

    I am not a materialist but I don’t believe in the things that give Christians a transcendent sense of hope. I don’t think being a person who doesn’t believe those things (which is true of billions of people in the world who have other religious beliefs) makes me at all responsible for taking away a Christians source of hope. Obviously, it seems to me, it is the Christians sense of faith that is the important ingredient here, not the fact that not everyone is a Christian.

  13. 13
    EDTA says:

    Perhaps that was too broad of a statement. Let me rephrase: If the materialist were successful in convincing a Christian that Christianity was false, i.e., bringing them over to the materialist’s worldview, then the Christian would lose their source of hope.

    At bottom, a worldview has to be true in order to provide any benefit–if it is capable of providing any benefit at all. I encounter those who condescendingly say, “Well, if you need that crutch to get through life, then fine. But don’t think it’s true for anyone but you.” But that view would destroy any chance of the Christian worldview helping someone. It’s only good if it’s true.

  14. 14
    Viola Lee says:

    Oops.u EDTA didn’t say anything about compassion: he said the materialist had no way to console them. That is different, and I apologize for my mis-reading.

  15. 15
    Viola Lee says:

    First, I’ll point out that if anyone, be they materialist or Buddhist or Jew or Hindu, were to convince a Christian that Christianity were false, then the Christian would lose the hope offered by Christianity. It is not the view that materialism is true that is the problem, it is the view that Christianity is false, which is held by lots of different kinds of people.

    Second, EDTA you say, “At bottom, a worldview has to be true in order to provide any benefit–if it is capable of providing any benefit at all.” But, all the different worldviews can’t all be true, and yet all the various believers all think their worldview has benefits. One explanation for this is that believers of every worldview believe their view is true, and all the others false, which is a view that contributes to a lot of tension in the world.

    Another view is that none of the various worldviews are true in the ontological sense: they are not truly about what is. Rather they are all different ways that have been developed in provide a cultural and psychological framework for understanding the ontological mysteries that we cannot in fact approach. They are human affirmations of chosen ways to look at the world, but their truth exists in those personal and social affirmations. They are not about things that we can actual confirm as true.

    This doesn’t mean all worldviews are the same, or that one shouldn’t evaluate them as one explores what one wants to believe. Just like all our other choices, the situation is complex and multi-faceted, and we can discuss our choices with people who have different worldviews. But in my opinion discussing which is true is not the correct way to go about this: rather to me what is important is the answer to the question “how shall we live?”

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/5

    Funny how Seversky, without even batting an eyelid, jumps straight from the fact that science does not have all the answers to pointing out the obvious deficiencies in materialism as a coherent philosophy and/or worldview.

    Where is the inconsistency between the limitations of current science and materialism?

    Materialism is not a philosophy itself but a position on the nature of observable reality. There are any number of philosophies that are compatible with materialism. Does the Bible deny the materialistic nature of this world? If we observe this world to be materialistic in nature then, for a Christian, that is how it was created by their God. What would you say of a Christian who denied the nature of God’s creation?

    FYI Seversky, Materialism does not now, nor has it ever, equaled science. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, It is impossible for science to ever be based on the philosophy of materialism.

    Science is based on investigating the nature of observable reality. It cannot be based on anything else. That nature is material or physical. If your God exists then He may alos be material or physical.

    One of the greatest lies taught in Colleges to today is the falsehood that in order to be ‘scientific’ you must assume materialism and/or naturalism as a starting philosophical assumption. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    On the contrary, that is exactly where science must start. If there is nothing there to investigate then there is no science. What else is there but the physical?

    The fact of the matter is that all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism and/or materialism.

    Completely wrong. Science can investigate the nature of the Universe without presupposing any sort of intelligent agency. A great scientist can hypothesize an attractive force called gravity to account for the observations that objects always fall to the ground unless something prevents them without presupposing any sort of intelligent agency.

    Not one scientific instrument would ever exist if men did not first intelligently design that scientific instrument. Not one test tube, microscope, telescope, spectroscope, or etc.. etc.., was ever found just laying around on a beach somewhere which was ‘naturally’ constructed by nature.

    Nobody has ever denied that human beings are intelligent designers but whether they are themselves designed is more problematical. I can’t speak for you but I’m pretty sure I was not designed. I came about through the natural process of human reproduction. If humanity came about through the natural processes we call evolution then you could argue that our scientific instruments are also an end product of natural processes.

    Again, all of science, every nook and cranny of it, is based on the presupposition of intelligent design and is certainly not based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism

    Methodological naturalism doesn’t exclude the possibility of intelligent design, it just doesn’t require it.

    Thus, although the Darwinian Atheist may firmly believe that he is on the terra firma of science (in his appeal, even demand, for naturalistic explanations over and above God as a viable explanation), the fact of the matter is that, when examining the details of his materialistic/naturalistic worldview, it is found that Darwinists/Atheists themselves are adrift in an ocean of fantasy and imagination with no discernible anchor for reality to grab on to.

    The boilerplate answer to your boilerplate text is that observable reality is what we hold on to and where we start.

  17. 17
    Seversky says:

    EDTA/11

    And as a bonus, those who advocate strongly for materialism will offer to take away a Christian’s hope, if that were possible, so even more people will be left without any. Some people actually need a transcendent source of hope to get through this life, but the materialist has no way to console them.

    Does materialism take away a Christian’s hope? Why couldn’t God or heaven be physical in nature?

  18. 18
    EDTA says:

    Doesn’t the answer to “how shall we live” come from our worldview(s)? And shouldn’t we want the worldview that is most likely to be true?

    I suppose we could go for a common worldview (or collection of worldviews) that cause us to get along the best, or maximize some other social good, but then we’d have to agree that those things were more important than truth. That too would be a worldview statement. So it does all seem to come back to truth.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky claims: “Materialism is not a philosophy itself,,”

    Funny little alternate reality that you have constructed for yourself there Sev!

    First hit on google for the word materialism:

    ma·te·ri·al·ism
    noun: materialism
    1.
    a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
    “they hated the sinful materialism of the wicked city”
    2.
    PHILOSOPHY
    the doctrine that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications.

    Definitions from Oxford Languages
    https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&channel=mac_bm&sxsrf=ALeKk01HoIOWTHQtXQXTcdw6fh2Nj2iGqg%3A1611544498916&ei=sjcOYJCkN8HRtAb2kp34DQ&q=materialism&oq=materialism&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQDFAAWABgr6UIaABwAHgAgAEAiAEAkgEAmAEAqgEHZ3dzLXdpeg&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiQxZaLj7buAhXBKM0KHXZJB98Q4dUDCAw

  20. 20
    EDTA says:

    >Does materialism take away a Christian’s hope? Why couldn’t God or heaven be physical in nature?

    If there is nothing supernatural, then Christianity is false, so yes, that would take away a Christian’s hope in a life beyond the material one he has now.

    For philosophical reasons, God being physical would put him in need of an explanation for his origin, similar to why our physical universe needs an explanation for its existence. And the universe’s existence needs a non-material explanation, as we’ve discussed here before.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    EDTA/13

    Perhaps that was too broad of a statement. Let me rephrase: If the materialist were successful in convincing a Christian that Christianity was false, i.e., bringing them over to the materialist’s worldview, then the Christian would lose their source of hope.

    Speaking as a materialist/physicalist, I am not interested in trying to prove Christianity is false, I am waiting for Christians to convince me that it is true.

    Those who come closest to that are those who practice traditional Christian virtues such as love, compassion, charity and humility, those who work with the destitute, the homeless, the sick and the dying without any expectation of financial reward or public recognition.

    Those who are farthest from it are the Christian nationalists, Christian evangelicals, televangelists, megachurch pastors and prosperity gospelers who are all too often the public face of the faith in this country.

  22. 22
    Viola Lee says:

    EDTA asks, “And shouldn’t we want the worldview that is most likely to be true?”

    That might be reasonable if in fact there were some way to ascertain the truth of the different world views. But there isn’t. The believing Hindu and the believing Christian, to mention just two, believe quite different things about the specifics of what they think is true, although they agree a lot on some core things about how to live.

    And much of what the various religions believe are not things that can be experienced externally in a way that can be tested so that consensus could be reached. As a non-Christian, all the beliefs about salvation, and Heaven and Hell, etc. mean nothing to me. As a non-Hindu, my guess is that their beliefs about reincarnation and nirvana, etc. mean nothing to you.

    I will go back to someting I said earlier: the most reasonable position, I think, is that none of them are true in the sense of being really about something that really exists in some way.

    EDTA, you write, “I suppose we could go for a common worldview (or collection of worldviews) that cause us to get along the best, or maximize some other social good, but then we’d have to agree that those things were more important than truth. That too would be a worldview statement. So it does all seem to come back to truth.”

    But it might be that the truth we choose is that maximizing the well-being of the most people is the truth we want to live by. There are truths we create by our choices: they are true about human beings only because human beings choose to act as if they are true.

    In response to that, I know one reply is “are they really true”, and my response is that the kind of truth one wants when one asks that question doesn’t in fact exist.

  23. 23
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/19

    First hit on google for the word materialism:

    Another hit, from the online Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy,

    Physicalism is sometimes known as ‘materialism’. Indeed, on one strand to contemporary usage, the terms ‘physicalism’ and ‘materialism’ are interchangeable. But the two terms have very different histories. The word ‘materialism’ is very old, but the word ‘physicalism’ was introduced into philosophy only in the 1930s by Otto Neurath (1931) and Rudolf Carnap (1959/1932), both of whom were key members of the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers, scientists and mathematicians active in Vienna prior to World War II. It is not clear that Neurath and Carnap understood physicalism in the same way, but one thesis often attributed to them (e.g. in Hempel 1949) is the linguistic thesis that every statement is synonymous with (i.e. is equivalent in meaning with) some physical statement. But materialism as traditionally construed is not a linguistic thesis at all; rather it is a metaphysical thesis in the sense that it tells us about the nature of the world. At least for the positivists, therefore, there was a clear reason for distinguishing physicalism (a linguistic thesis) from materialism (a metaphysical thesis). Moreover, this reason was compounded by the fact that, according to official positivist doctrine, metaphysics is nonsense. Since the 1930s, however, the positivist philosophy that under-girded this distinction has for the most part been rejected—for example, physicalism is not a linguistic thesis for contemporary philosophers—and this is one reason why the words ‘materialism’ and ‘physicalism’ are now often interpreted as interchangeable.

    Some philosophers suggest that ‘physicalism’ is distinct from ‘materialism’ for a reason quite unrelated to the one emphasized by Neurath and Carnap. As the name suggests, materialists historically held that everything was matter — where matter was conceived as “an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist” (Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, par. 9). But physics itself has shown that not everything is matter in this sense; for example, forces such as gravity are physical but it is not clear that they are material in the traditional sense (Lange 1865, Dijksterhuis 1961, Yolton 1983). So it is tempting to use ‘physicalism’ to distance oneself from what seems a historically important but no longer scientifically relevant thesis of materialism, and related to this, to emphasize a connection to physics and the physical sciences. However, while physicalism is certainly unusual among metaphysical doctrines in being associated with a commitment both to the sciences and to a particular branch of science, namely physics, it is not clear that this is a good reason for calling it ‘physicalism’ rather than ‘materialism.’ For one thing, many contemporary physicalists do in fact use the word ‘materialism’ to describe their doctrine (e.g. Smart 1963). Moreover, while ‘physicalism’ is no doubt related to ‘physics’ it is also related to ‘physical object’ and this in turn is very closely connected with ‘material object’, and via that, with ‘matter.’

  24. 24
    EDTA says:

    Seversky @ 21,
    >Those who come closest to that are those… Those who are farthest from it are…

    That is a very common view I think. But notice that in order to frame it that way, you had to (beforehand) decide what constituted each group. How did you arrive at that judgement? And how were you sure that you arrived at it correctly?

    Once again, everything goes back to a want of objective truth.

  25. 25
    EDTA says:

    Viola Lee @ 22,
    >That might be reasonable if in fact there were some way to ascertain the truth of the different world views. But there isn’t.

    I’m not convinced of that. The mere fact that humanity has not come to universal agreement isn’t persuasive in this regard.

    >…the most reasonable position, I think, is that none of them are true in the sense of being really about something that really exists in some way.

    Is there a definitive way to know that is the case?

    >But it might be that the truth we choose is that maximizing the well-being of the most people is the truth we want to live by.

    As a guiding principle, that could certainly be something we choose. But how do you know what represents their greatest well-being? If your worldview is not the same as theirs, then you might not even be able to act in such a way as to maximize the well-being of both at the same time.

  26. 26
    Viola Lee says:

    Those are good points, EDTA, and I appreciate the conversation.

    When I said, “…the most reasonable position, I think, is that none of them are true in the sense of being really about something that really exists in some way.”, you replied, “No, Is there a definitive way to know that is the case?”

    No, there isn’t. But in the absence of evidence that one particular worldview is ontologically correct, and in light of there be 100’s of religions, great and small, I think it’s more reasonable than thinking one is correct and all the rest are false.

    Also, you write, “As a guiding principle, that could certainly be something we choose. But how do you know what represents their greatest well-being? If your worldview is not the same as theirs, then you might not even be able to act in such a way as to maximize the well-being of both at the same time”

    We have to negotiate, compromise, possibly live and let live at times, find ways to live with diverse opinions, etc. That is what we have to do about all sorts of things. There is no way people are going to agree with each other on everything, but I think we could do better than we do if we thought less about metaphysical differences and more about how to treat our neighbor. For instance, Christians and Hindus differ radically about their dogma, but both agree that love and compassion for our fellow human beings should be at the heart of our actions.

  27. 27
    Querius says:

    What happens when materialism meets quantum mechanics?

    Niels Bohr, who was awarded the 1922 Nobel Prize in physics for his application of quantum theory to atomic and molecular structure, expressed it this way:

    Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.

    Another Nobel Prize winner, Werner Heisenberg, wrote the following in his 1958 book, Physics and Philosophy:

    In the experiments about atomic events, we have to do with things and facts, the phenomena that are just as real as in daily life. But the atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real. They form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things and facts.

    Quantum theory is now widely accepted by physicists. For example, Vlatko Vedralis a professor of Physics at the University of Oxford who specializes in quantum theory and whose research papers are widely cited expresses the concept this way:

    The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.

    Materialism was fashionable in the 19th century, an age of wooden ships, steam engines, colonialism, and Darwin’s “favoured races.” But now in the 21st century, those ideas along with materialism are as dated as vintage Victorian bustles and parasols.

    -Q

  28. 28

    At this point, anyone who is a “materialist” or “physicalist” lives in either ignorance or denial of science, specifically quantum physics research.

    That’s one of the mind-boggling things about discussions on this site. I know that several people here are informed about quantum research, yet discussions about all sorts of topics proceed as if what has been revealed by that research didn’t happen.

    Quantum physics research has demonstrably shown the following:

    1. There is no such thing as “matter.”
    2. We do not actually live in a physical world constructed of matter.
    3. Consciousness is absolutely fundamental to any definition of “reality.”
    4. Consciousness interacts with abstract information/probabilities, not “energy” or “energy waves,” and generates experience.
    5. The past can be changed retroactively.
    6. Two different people can live in two different “realities,” in terms of having different actual history and experience what should be “the same thing” in conflicting states because of those different histories.
    7. “Things” do not have inherent, measurable qualities until consciousness interacts with it in some way.

    And yet, conversations continue as if we do not know these things, as if this knowledge doesn’t change everything.

    It’s like tornado ripped through the room removing the whole house, floor and all the furniture and the conversations continue as if it never happened. It’s literally a discovery that is more significant than anything else could even hope to be, including if aliens landed on the planet and made themselves known to everyone.

    And yet, the conversations about the tea and the next PTA meeting and where the new neighbors came from continue without even a pause. It’s surreal.

  29. 29
    ET says:

    Materialism relies on faith. That is because there isn’t any evidence to support it and it doesn’t make testable claims. Not only that, the genetic code is evidence against it.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    seversky:

    If your God exists then He may alos be material or physical.

    Spoken like a clueless tool.

    Without Intelligent Design all you have to try to explain our existence is sheer dumb luck. And that is the antithesis of science. seversky doesn’t have any idea how to investigate sheer dumb luck.

  31. 31
    Sandy says:

    Everything is very simple if you love sin (in christian sense) or pleasures without responsibility (in materialistic sense) you hate christian God. Passionately. 🙂

  32. 32
    EDTA says:

    WJM @ 28,
    >Quantum physics research has demonstrably shown

    Doesn’t even this claim run afoul of the whole “nature of reality” question? How do I know what “quantum physics research has found”, if I don’t trust my senses to be telling me about an external reality of some sort that we all objectively share?

  33. 33
    EDTA says:

    Viola Lee @ 26,
    >I think we could do better than we do if we thought less about metaphysical differences and more about how to treat our neighbor.

    There is a little objectivist in both of us trying to get out and be heard. We’re each saying that a particular way would be globally better. I think we should hash through the meta-physical differences to arrive at one conclusion (which won’t happen of course). And you said that “we [humanity?] could do better…if…”–and that is also a global claim. That’s each of us trying to put forth something objective for everyone.

    What that situation needs is a way to weigh those global claims to see which one really is better. That cries out for some transcendent standard against which to judge things. It always comes back to that. Neither one of us can escape the need for it.

  34. 34

    EDTA said:

    Doesn’t even this claim run afoul of the whole “nature of reality” question? How do I know what “quantum physics research has found”, if I don’t trust my senses to be telling me about an external reality of some sort that we all objectively share?

    You’re conflating “nature of reality” with “external, objective reality.” It’s not about “trusting your senses,” it’s about understanding the nature of what and how you are experiencing. Do you experience stuff in a dream through your senses? Do you “trust your senses” in a dream that it is a real, solid world you are experiencing? Or do you filter all that information through a worldview that organizes it a certain way?

    Quantum physics has shown us that there appears to be no qualitative difference between what we call “external, physical reality” and what we experience in dreams – consciousness is acting on information. Yet, everyone just goes along as if the material world paradigm is still valid.

  35. 35
    Viola Lee says:

    Hi EDTA, First, I’d like you to know that I appreciate your short, succinct, focused, and relevant posts.

    You write, “And you said that “we [humanity?] could do better…if…”–and that is also a global claim. That’s each of us trying to put forth something objective for everyone.”

    I’m not making that as a global claim in the sense that I believe it is globally (objectively) true. It is just my position which I offer for others to consider. If enough people adopt the same it will become widespread, even universal perhaps, but that wouldn’t give it some ontological status beyond the fact that it is what most (or every) human being has chosen to adopt as a moral value.

    You also write, “What that situation needs is a way to weigh those global claims to see which one really is better. That cries out for some transcendent standard against which to judge things. It always comes back to that. Neither one of us can escape the need for it.”

    There are two possibilities here:

    1. Suppose you are right that there must be some transcendent standards we can use. How are we to judge who is correctly invoking those standards? It seems to me you run right into the same problem of people thinking their own view of what the standards are is the correct one, and thus people having to try to influence others about what to believe and how to act. Just saying that one’s worldview believes in transcendent standards doesn’t give that worldview more credence in and of itself.

    2. On the other hand, suppose transcendent standards don’t exist. Then we basically are in the same situation as described in 1 above: people have different views and they can try to give reasons that might influence other people to revise their positions on specific issues.

    So it seems to me that whether there are transcendent standards or not, in the absence of some clearcut universal demonstration of such, we are in the same position of making choices about what to believe and how to act, and doing what we can to influence others about issues that apply to the society around us.

  36. 36
    EDTA says:

    WJM @ 34,
    Well, I may be conflating something here. I was trying to say that if all reality is mental and not physical, then any so-called findings of so-called physicists about quantum mechanics are suspect, are they not? Why would their so-called findings have any more weight than anything else I once thought was part of an external reality? Isn’t quantum mechanics just another aspect of external physical reality? I figured you would dismiss those findings as no more real than the computer I think I’m typing on.

    Where have I misunderstood your theory? Thanks.

  37. 37
    EDTA says:

    Viola Lee @ 35,
    >Just saying that one’s worldview believes in transcendent standards doesn’t give that worldview more credence in and of itself.
    True.

    Stopping the search because we haven’t found a universally-agreed-upon standard does seem like “giving up” though. If we elect this path, yet the standard does exist, we will miss it by virtue of having stopped the search. And if a creator really does have plans for us, we will get a sub-optimal existence by not approaching it. (I don’t think there’s any chance of us finding our optimal path without outside help; human history is depressingly cyclical…)

    P.S. Thank you for your replies too.

  38. 38
    Viola Lee says:

    EDTA, you write, “Stopping the search because we haven’t found a universally-agreed-upon standard does seem like “giving up” though. If we elect this path, yet the standard does exist, we will miss it by virtue of having stopped the search.”

    I continue to want to emphasize the built-in dilemma here: what if the Hindus have it right, but you preclude that possibility by adhering to Christianity? Might you not miss the “true” better life by “giving up” considering the full range of possibilities?

  39. 39
    Viola Lee says:

    P.S. I’d like to emphasize that I’m not advocating for Hinduism, or wanting to argue that it is a “truer” worldview than Christianity. I’m using it as an illustration of an alternative to the dominant Western worldview in order to emphasize that there are very different perspectives about some of these ultimate issues.

  40. 40
    EDTA says:

    >what if the Hindus have it right, but you preclude that possibility by adhering to Christianity? Might you not miss the “true” better life by “giving up” considering the full range of possibilities?

    Yes, that is a possibility. Finite mind, finite amount of time to make up one’s mind, and limited information to go on always means that is possible. One has to do their homework, and also hope that the creator has reached out to help in the search.

  41. 41
    Viola Lee says:

    Yes, we have to do the best search we can, if that is what interests us, and decide what is worth searching for. Therefore, because of the finiteness you mention, people will reach different conclusions. My hope is that people wouldn’t fight so much over doctrinal differences, but one of the things necessary for that is for people to not feel threatened by people with different beliefs.

    Again, for me, it goes back to actions. If we both want the same thing (for instance, helping feed the poor), I don’t care if one person does it from his Christian beliefs and the other from his Hindu commitment to compassion. The reason is not important, but the action is. Of course, when one view wants something and another thinks it’s wrong, we’re right back to the same problem. Invoking one’s worldview as if that were a reason that others of different views should therefore follow doesn’t work. There still has to be a working out of differences that don’t depend on arguments about whose world view is right and whose is wrong.

  42. 42
    Steve Alten2 says:

    Viola Lee “ Hi EDTA, First, I’d like you to know that I appreciate your short, succinct, focused, and relevant posts.“

    Tehe, I see what you did there. 🙂

  43. 43
    Viola Lee says:

    Well, it’s true! But, yes I did, also.

  44. 44
    Steve Alten2 says:

    Viola Lee “ Well, it’s true! But, yes I did, also.

    But the $64,000 question is, did they see it?

  45. 45

    EDTA @36:

    This is one of the problems when it comes to understanding these things: the habit is to interpret and then evaluate what these things mean through the external, objective-world perspective.

    The first order of business is to understand that it’s not that what we perceive around us “is not real.” IT IS real, but we have fundamentally misunderstood reality itself and what it means for a thing to be “real.” Scientific experiments and what we perceive as a shared external reality are all real things that actually exist, but those terms have been shown to mean something entirely different than we thought. I don’t challenge the existence of the computer in front of me as I type, it’s real in the only way anything can be real: it is being experienced as consciousness interprets information into experiential form.

    Science is often pursued under erroneous paradigms but still produce results; often, it leads to somewhat accidental discoveries that change worldview paradigms. This is what happened with quantum physics research; it’s shown the essential nature of reality and our existential state. More, it has re-revealed self-evident and necessary truths that apparently some ancient philosophers, mystics and certain figures in religion understood.

    If the quantum discoveries had not revealed inescapable, self-evident and necessary truths about the nature of existence, then yes, I’d consider it just another local paradigm set up by some people in their section of mental reality developing their own subset experiential “world,” like most cultural, religious, atheistic or spiritual worldviews/realms.

    When a self-evident truth is discovered, and necessary truths follow that dictate our entire understanding of reality and existence (for most people) is wrong, you can either deny it and continue along as before, or accept it and the mental reorganization it requires.

    And so, most proceed as if it never happened. Or, they cherry-pick and/or contort it into agreement with their current reality paradigm.

  46. 46
    PaV says:

    Seversky@17:

    Does materialism take away a Christian’s hope? Why couldn’t God or heaven be physical in nature?

    Why couldn’t “matter” be “spiritual”?

    Mass=Energy/c^2. Where does the energy come from? Modern physics has all kinds of “infinities” it must contend with. What do you know, an “infinity”? An Infinite God Who is All-Powerful, that is, no limit in available energy, or, “infinite” energy.

    I believe that when science is fully understood, and here I mean elementary particle physics, it will be seen that energy emerges from spacetime and that every ‘cell’ of spacetime has an infinite source of energy. Let us call this source of energy, God. QED.

  47. 47
    PaV says:

    WJM@28:

    5. The past can be changed retroactively.
    6. Two different people can live in two different “realities,” in terms of having different actual history and experience what should be “the same thing” in conflicting states because of those different histories.

    WJM, I’m not sure what you mean by #5, and #6, I suppose, relies on Everett’s interpretation of QM. Is this right?

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