Seven Reasons Why We Must Question Scientific Materialism
The majority of people accept the teachings of scientific materialism without question. If a Nobel prize-winning scientist tells us the universe was created in the Big Bang, it was; if he tells us the early universe inflated trillions of times in the blink of an eye, it most certainly did; if he tells us the picture-perfect universe evolved from chaos of the Big Bang with no intelligent guiding force we believe that too; if a Harvard professor tells us life arose from a primordial swamp and then evolved from primitive bacteria to the structured order of the DNA molecule and all life forms, we buy into that as well. And we buy in with such commitment that anyone who disagrees with these established truths is misguided, if not ignorant.
Here are seven reasons why we must question these teachings of scientific materialism:
1. Modern science has avoided, but never answered, the basic question of how something came from nothing, or more specifically, how all the matter necessary to form the trillions upon trillions of galaxies in the sky miraculously sprang from nothing at the Big Bang. Since scientific materialism cannot get off the ground without answering this question, we should pin material scientists down and make them answer this question. It turns out they cannot do so without assuming something, whether a force-field, light rays, or matter, at creation. This is an assumption, not an explanation.
2. Modern science has no answer for how the mindless, chaotic matter conveniently available at the Big Bang immediately started operating according to the laws of nature. What power infused this dead and dumb matter with the clockwork precision of scientific laws?
3. The conditions of the universe are perfectly tuned to allow life to prosper on planet Earth. Modern science’s latest explanation for this stunning coincidence is that not just one, but 10E500 (10 with 500 zeros) universes, sprang from the void at the Big Bang. In one of these multiverses, they say, the laws of nature would have turned out just so life could exist. This seems like a bit of a stretch.
4. After assuming that matter burst from the void and rushed toward a world of perfect order, material scientists next assume that these mindless particles assembled themselves into the precise forms necessary to create life — specifically, the DNA molecule. How did mindless bits of dust teach themselves the language of the genetic code?
5. Darwin’s theory of evolution is mindless, and without purpose or direction. Life, according to these materialists, evolves through random mutations — copying mistakes — that are passed on from generation to generation. If so, why did the living world turn out to be a zoological garden rather than a freak show? How did bacteria mindlessly evolve toward the form of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley? Why does the genetic code solve any challenge the natural world throws at life, from fur to large beaks, to the opposing thumb? Why are the parts available to adapt life to the needs of the environment? Assuming that some form of evolution did occur, is Darwin’s mindless, random variety, the only possible kind?
6. Several hundred years ago philosophers agreed that the mind can only know itself. Therefore, we must assume that something exists outside of the mind, what Kant called the “thing-in-itself” and what modern scientists call realism. If the mind can only know itself, then how do we know that the world we experience is the product of the Big Bang, rather than the product of the united mind of humankind?
7. If the world is really a dream, but we assume it is not by blindly following the teachings of modern, materialistic science, then we have unwittingly turned a dream world into a prison with no escape, for a mind can only build a dream with the thoughts and beliefs it holds deeply inside.
We question the car dealer about the frequency of oil changes; coaches about player substitutions; dentists about toothbrushes; and teachers about grades, but we remain silent when material scientists build a worldview that determines our lives and our world.
In the end, we must question scientific materialism because it will turn out to be wrong.
1. Is it not an assumption on your part that something came from nothing? If it’s unknown what happened prior to the Big Bang, then to say before it there was nothing is an assumption on your part, and by your own logic, reason to question your teachings.
2. Again you’re assuming, this time that the laws of nature either didn’t exist or didn’t apply prior to the Big Bang.
3. Correction, the conditions of Earth make it possible for life as we know it to exist, and there’s no evidence to suggest any special “tuning” occurred. The odds involved are irrelevant. I don’t suppose you ever read Douglas Adams’ quote about the puddle, did you?
4. What a loaded question! Teach themselves a language? Really?
5. Oh dear, you really haven’t spent much time trying to understand evolution have you? A “freak show” as you put it didn’t come about because detrimental traits would threaten survival, so those with such mutations didn’t survive to pass on their dna. The rest of your questions are quite childish, but to the last one, no, “mindless” evolution is not the only possibility, but there’s nothing to suggest otherwise.
6. Absolute certainty is a myth. All of us have no choice but to assume there is a world around us lest we be paralyzed by solipsism. What we do know is, dream or not, there appear to be rules to this world we perceive and that in order to successfully navigate through it we have to respect them. Materialism is the best way to do that. If you can suggest a better way, have at it, otherwise this, like the 5 before it, do not warrant questioning it.
7. You go ahead and free yourself then. Start by freeing yourself of the materialistic prison of gravity perhaps and fly. Let us know how that goes.
Thank you for your comments. Consider the following:
1. I’m not sure you understood my point. I think something can come from nothing in only one way — through the mind’s dreaming power. Science assumes that matter — wholly independent of the mind — exploded in the Big Bang. Where did that matter come from? Without making this assumption, we can conclude that the appearance of matter came from the mind’s dreaming power. This may be a radical and odd thought to the western mind, but it actually underlies much of Eastern philosophy, is at the root of Western idealism and is the position being taken by a increasing number of scientists. (See The God Theory by Bernard Haisch). Accepting the world as a dream as opposed to a giant machine also has one key advantage: we know dreams are possible.
2. Whether the laws of nature existed before or after the Big Bang makes no difference, as the same question is presented: where did they come from? What is the origin of the force or power that makes dead and dumb matter operate according to mathematical laws? (See Physics for the Rest of Us, where the author clearly states that modern physics takes the laws of nature as a given, or something science does not have to explain.)
3. I think you’ve missed the point here as well. Why is it that conditions on Earth allow life to exist or that there are conditions at all? Note that in Stephen Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design, he goes to the extreme of imagining that there are trillions of other universes just to account for the fact that the one we live in possesses conditions conducive to life. (Also see, The Purpose-Guided Universe by Bernard Haisch, or for a complete account of the anthropic principle, John Barrow’s and Frank Tippler’s The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.) It is true that we are conditioned to assume things are as they are, so why worry? But if you think about it, it is strange that all the forces and laws of our world are programmed to allow life to exist.
4. I’m not sure I understand your point here. The question is, where did the language of the genetic code come from? As you know, the DNA molecule contains codes that direct the assembly of bodily parts. If the universe began as an explosion of mindless matter, with no intelligent guiding force, then how did these particles “learn” a language? I don’t think science has a good answer for this question. Do you know of one? If the answer is “evolution,” I guess I’d ask the answerer to elaborate.
5. Your “explanation” is actually dogma: it sure is easy to say “a freak show didn’t come about because detrimental traits would threaten survival,” but when you think about, that’s pretty superficial, as the same sentence can be used to explain any oddity of nature. The problem with Darwinian evolution is that biologists have only one organizing force available: natural selection. Who or what is doing the selection? If nothing is doing the selecting then why does the mere urge for survival sculpt the natural world? Having made this point, I do believe evolution occurs but not the mindless, materialistic version framed by Darwin. We have to get away from this tendency to accept blindly the teachings of scientists, of whatever stature, just because someone tells us they are right.
6. My point in all this is that we have to think through the consequences of the world really being a dream because it may in fact be one. (Think of it as a powerful dream-in-progess from the mind of God, not as some sort of fleeting night-time vision of one person.) Two of the greatest thinkers who ever lived, David Hume and Immanuel Kant, both found the source of natural law in the structure or belief system of the mind. Perhaps it would feel better to live in Newton’s clockwork universe, spinning away on its own power, but maybe that world is not possible. (And it’s not the world we live in according to many modern scientists, see B. Rosenblum & F. Kuttner, Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness). I also agree that we need to find a solution to solipsism or idealism turns mystical. (I propose a solution to solipsism in The Heaven at the End of Science.) But there are too many clues to ignore that our current materialistic worldview is on the wrong track. The seven I listed are only some of the problems. We have too many people in positions of authority working out the consequences of a machine-world and not enough thinking through the consequences of a dream-world In either instance we have the same world, but in one instance, the wrong rulebook.
7. Is it possible the world is a dream? If so, then imagine the consequences if the dreamers (led by the scientific community) proceed as if the world is a self-operating Newtonian clockwork universe. Isn’t this like flying an airplane and assuming you are on autopilot when your model operates only manually? This point may be hard to accept but it fits it precisely with many of the teachings of the “positive thinking” or “new spirituality” movement. True, all these folks could be out-of-their minds. On the other hand, they may be on to something.
Thank you for your comments. In the end, my fundamental point is that it helps to think through all these scientific teachings that we have accepted without question. They might all be true, or maybe not. And there is nothing wrong with a little debate on a very important topic.
You make good points. But where I think you go wrong IMO is on your premise “if the world really is a dream”. Errrrm who said it is? To question materialism doesn’t mean to question material! This is where your New Age idealistic views–inspired by Eastern beliefs etc–differs from Goddess mythological understanding which takes the material world to be very real, and sacred. Can you not see the game that has been played throughout the patriarchal? It posits either matter or spirit/mind and then creates philosophies around these one-ended assumptions, hence materialism versus idealism and vice verse. RATHER that understanding that both ‘sides’ are conceptually abstracted out from a mysterious dynamic process and assumed to be independent of one another. For me seeing through materialism has to include seeing through idealism also.
Not sure what is wrong with that premise. You will have to explain.