No, I’m not certain why I chose that title, but it seemed to make a good sound bite in my head at the time.
I want to dismantle a post I found at dogmaeatdogma because it attempts to define materialism as ignorant of the world and in contention with their view of the world. To simplify it, the post claims that materialism is wrong because of preconceived notions of what defines the world.
The materialist point of view is undignifying to all things sacred. To reduce things like love and joy to merely chemical reactions and nerve firings in the brain not only denies the sacredness of these things, but it denies that they even exist at all.
Let’s put some definition on that.
Undignify: : to take dignity from
Sacred:1 a : dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity<a tree sacred to the gods>
b : devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose) <a fund sacred to charity>
2 a : worthy of religious veneration : holy
b : entitled to reverence and respect
3 : of or relating to religion : not secular or profane <sacredmusic>
Sure, the materialist will say, we can detect that one might be experiencing a thing called love by monitoring their brain activity, but this experience is not something like the soul being overcome by some mysterious and powerful force (mainly because, to the materialist, there is no soul)… it is merely the brain reacting to its own chemicals.
Ah, an opportunity to hammer on that word ‘love’. Sometimes life just hands you a ham sandwich and pickle without even having to stretch out for the brass ring. Love is something we all can say we understand yet none of us have exactly the same understanding of it. If you check a dictionary there are no less than 9 definitions for love. Love is an act, a feeling, an object and so on. We can love our children as do many other mammals, and all apes. We can love our kin just as other mammals have shown. We can love other species, shown with compassion and empathy just as other mammalian species have been shown to do. What we humans call love is not restricted only to humans. It would be fair then to say that if a human has a soul that also gives them the ability to love, so then should other higher order animals. Recently, scientists have found enough evidence to say that higher order animal species do have consciousness.
It is wise to remember that Romeo and Juliet were in love. They loved each other. Their love drove them to act. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t turn out well for them.
I think it is fair to say that love has no standard definition, rather it is a simplistic attempt to describe what we have no good label for. By good label I mean a label which clearly identifies a well defined aspect of something. We also love chocolate, steak, and many of us love a beautiful sunset. Some of us love children in a way that the most of us think is the wrong way and yet others love animals in a similarly wrong way. We love our television shows, our siblings, and many other things. There is not one kind of love, nor one state of it and so on. If a lack of good definition requires a soul then there are many activities and feelings that would require a soul yet these are easily accomplished with aplomb by many animal species. I won’t define love but I will derail any attempt to define it in just one way. The label is one that cannot be nailed down without modifiers and definition. That’s how we use it and it suits our communications to do so.
For the materialist, this reductive view of life reduces life to something lifeless, love to something loveless, and the soul to something soulless. There is nothing outside of, underneath of, inside of, or beyond matter.
This last bit is pure speculation, and relies completely on the assertion that there is more to life and existence than the materialist view. This attempt to use the undefinable as evidence that there is more to it is a logical fallacy that basically relies on the canard: If I can’t explain it there must be magic involved. Remember that concrete example? (did you like that play on words? I do). The author will not deny the value of concrete simply because they know the constituent parts but love and life and souls… they’re magic. There is more there than we can possibly know…. according to the author.
Oh, how I like this next bit. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Why yes, I do enjoy this… you don’t?
Most materialists will object to this characterisation of feeling lifeless and empty and this is due to an important fact… these so called materialist do not in fact believe what they profess. At least, thankfully, they do not live it.
The author of this post does not know me. Clearly. Well, they did say ‘most materialists’ so I suppose there is wiggle room. I do live it. Every quark of it. It harms me not one bit to know that I exist because uncounted particles of energy come together to form trillions of cells who all work together to be ‘me’ … I do not deny my own existence. This author denies science if their being is not because of, or caused by, those very particles of energy. The author uses materialistic views in the rest of their life but insists there is a magic soul to explain the parts that they cannot personally explain. This kind of thinking is god of the gaps thinking… and false, without evidence.
Anyone who has ever truly loved anyone or anything would say love was a fire in the heart before it was a firing in the brain.
Here is an assertion that if the reader does not agree with the author they have not truly loved anyone or anything. This author cannot possibly know if I have truly loved. Clearly this was not thought through well or at best it was not written well because it makes an assertion that the author cannot back up… not ever. It also demonstrates that the author has, more or less, no clue how the brain works and what the heart actually does. Obviously they are using metaphors, but doing so to ignore what the brain does and what the heart does. The heart is to a human what a water pump is to a car. That is why people who have heart replacements with mechanical devices do not stop knowing how to love. At this point I want to use the phrase ‘fucking idiot’ but I’m not sure exactly how to work that in.
Anyone who has ever beheld someone or something precious in a silent and still moment of awe has recognised the electricity as enveloping their soul before it sparks in their skull.
Here the author acknowledges electricity. Science tells us this is an effect due to a difference in potential between electrons and protons. Very small materialistic parts that make up all the effects we collectively call electricity. So while denigrating the materialist the author shows their own materialist thinking. They describe a feeling as happening outside their ability to sense it before they can sense it. This implies that the human conscious exists without a brain. A supposition that is without evidence and which in fact has much evidence to the contrary. If a human or animal loses parts of their brain they are not the same. This indicates that there is no soul, but that all consciousness occurs inside the brain and is wholly dependent on the interaction of energy particles to exist. That we experience is not a miracle or the result of a soul. It cannot be experienced without a functioning brain. The author does not understand how a brain can work and asserts that there must be a soul involved, that there must be magic involved. This is down without evidence. It is simply the assertion that because the author cannot explain it, there must be some magic involved.
That they were experiencing something quite outside of and beyond themselves. That, after all, is the original meaning of ecstasy, rising out of oneself.
This assertion would mean that brain dead people experience or can experience ecstasy. Do they? Where is the evidence? It also means that ecstasy can be experienced without consciousness. Where is the evidence? I’m still looking for entomology that says ‘rising out of oneself’ but it’s not too far off. This statement assumes a definition of ‘experience’ that the author offers no definition for. Experience is presumed to be universal or objective. The movie “A Beautiful Mind” tells us that experience is completely subjective, and implies that this movie is about someone who has a soul because they experienced the world differently than the rest of us. We know this is not the case for various reasons. The protagonist knows this is not so as well. That is the point of the movie. Perception is not reality. Shared experience is all that we can rely on even if it is not shown to be 100% true.
The main reason they do profess this view is because their atheism induces them to. If one denies God and the human soul, one has to deny other subtle intangible phenomena… or else reduce it to merely physical phenomena. And in doing this, they have denied the existence of these phenomena altogether.
This is flatly false. Denying gods does not require acceptance of materialism, but acceptance of materialism does obliterate any evidence given for gods. Saying that the evidence for gods is not conclusive or is in fact false does not deny the existence of life or love. This author is clearly unaware of those countries where 99% of the people deny the existence of gods. Materialism does not deny the fact of experience, it simply offers a reasonable explanation for it without resorting to magic.
The author of this post is one of those people that has a brain that accepts the basics of reason: A thing happens so there must be a cause, but because they do not understand the cause they assert that magic happens and do so without evidence for such assertions. When you ask them to explain the magic they have nothing because it’s magic.. it just is and they will then assert that actual explanations are not valid because they cannot understand them.
This post is complaining that materialists are wrong because they don’t believe in magic. I argue that accepting that I don’t know everything is more valid.