Materialistic philosophy: A heaping mound of FAIL

. . . nobody will ever die from thinking God created the universe or having some doubts about the proposition that hydrogen is a substance which, if you leave it alone for 13.5 billion years, will turn into Angelina Jolie.

Mark Shea (Hat tip: regular commenter LCB)

By materialistic philosophy I don’t mean the “acquire all the things you can” way of life.  I mean the worldview that everything is material and that nothing is spiritual.  It is also called evolutionary, Darwinian, macro-evolutionary, naturalistic and other terms.  Think of it as the nothingness-to-molecules-to-man / elephant / fish / caterpillar-butterfly / etc. worldview (or just meditate on the opening quote).

This worldview has six fatal flaws:

1. It isn’t true.  The facts do not support it — the Cambrian explosion, the rarity of beneficial mutations, irreducible complexity, time required, and so much more.  Twisted facts and unethical suppression of tough questions and the truth prop up the worldview for now, but it is crumbling.

2. Even if evolution could happen the way materialists describe it, it doesn’t prove that it did happen that way.  Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it happened.  Darwinists commit this error daily.

3. Even if it did happen that way, it doesn’t prove that there isn’t a God.  Remember, macro-evolutionary theory  just tries to explain how life evolved.  Despite major efforts it can’t explain how chemicals came to life, let alone how the chemicals came into being in the first place.

This is the top error that people like Richard Dawkins make.  They are quick to assume that support for evolution disproves God’s existence.  Their transparent lack of logic just makes them poster boys for Romans 1.  They aren’t dispassionate scientists.  They are on a mission to ignore God and science is just their tool of choice.

Romans 1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

4. Even if it did happen that way and there is no God, then it is the cause of all religious beliefs, including my belief that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the facts agreed to by nearly all historians.  Therefore, pride about not being religious is illogical for materialists .

If all we are is a series of chemical reactions, then life is truly deterministic and I have no choice in any of my decisions.  My chemical makeup and circumstances fated me to go from atheism to Christianity.

5. Even if it did happen that way and there is no God, then there is zero grounding for morality.  Those are just chemical reactions making you think there is such a thing.  Of course, macro-evolutionists rarely go three sentences without making a moral claim, but that inconsistency doesn’t seem to trouble them.

6. Courtesy of commenter Bubba, I offer another fatal flaw:

[Materialistic naturalism] also cannot account for human rationality, which the supposedly rational atheists affirm even if they deny the reality of the moral law.

If human thoughts are merely the result of physical and chemical processes, then they can be no more rational than the by-products of other biological organs — the bile of the liver, or the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

And if human rationality is illusory, then we cannot draw any trustworthy conclusions about the world around us.

Materialism is ultimately an argument that all arguments are invalid, and the philosophy is therefore self-defeating.

Other than that, materialistic philosophy is a great idea.

To recap, materialist / macro-evolutionary / Darwinist philosophy fails because:

  1. It is not supported by the evidence.
  2. Even if it was possible it doesn’t mean it happened.
  3. Even if it did happen it doesn’t disprove God’s existence.
  4. Even if it did happen and there is no God then it “created” religious beliefs.
  5. Even if it did happen and there is no God it doesn’t ground morality.
  6. It can’t account for human rationality.  It selects for survival, not truth.

P.S. Here are some definitions from the good folks at Dictionary.com:

Materialism:  The philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.

Naturalism:  The view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.  The belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value.

0 thoughts on “Materialistic philosophy: A heaping mound of FAIL”

  1. Thanks, DJBA.

    And I added this to the post for the commenter without full privileges, who of course realizes there is nothing immoral about randomly deleting comments:

    P.S. Here are some definitions from the good folks at Dictionary.com:

    Materialism: The philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.

    Naturalism: The view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual. The belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all teleological explanations are therefore without value.

    As any reader can see, they are virtually identical and completely so for the purposes of this post. Objections to 2+2=4 concepts are considered validation of the post. Thanks!

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  2. Neil, I think there is an even more lethal flaw for materalistic naturalism, beyond the fact that it cannot account for the moral law.

    It also cannot account for human rationality, which the supposedly rational atheists affirm even if they deny the reality of the moral law.

    If human thoughts are merely the result of physical and chemical processes, then they can be no more rational than the by-products of other biological organs — the bile of the liver, or the carbon dioxide from the lungs.

    And if human rationality is illusory, then we cannot draw any trustworthy conclusions about the world around us.

    Materialism is ultimately an argument that all arguments are invalid, and the philosophy is therefore self-defeating.

    Grasping this point seems to be tricky for some, but I recommend C.S. Lewis’ book Miracles, the argument in which is expanded in a recent book called C.S. Lewis’ Dangerous Idea.

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    1. Great points, Bubba. I’m going to add that to the post, with credit of course. I’d link to your blog if you’d ever start one . . . though having you comment here is the next best thing.

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  3. These issues are debated all over the place ad nauseum. My advice to everyone is to read widely. As a Christian I only ever read books about the Bible and about evolution that were written by Christians from a Christian perspective. Now that I’m no longer a Christian, I still read the Bible, and I still read Christian apologetics (I’ve just finished reading “Can Man Live Without God” by Ravi Zacharias, and I possess a well-thumbed copy of the new “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”), along with books by Dawkins, Hitchens, Karen Armstrong, Michael Shermer etc.

    Don’t just take Neil’s word that “it is not supported by the evidence.” That’s his opinion, and I’m sure he would expect you to check it out for yourself.

    To address Neil’s 5 points:

    No’s 1 and 2 go together. I haven’t read Dawkin’s latest book (The Greatest Show on Earth) yet, but perhaps that’s a good starting point as it is supposed to be all about the evidence for evolution. Then you can go back to Answers in Genesis.

    No 3: Everyone knows you can’t prove a negative. Nothing can disprove God’s existence. If any atheist makes this claim, they are being dogmatic. If any Christian tries to score points with this, they are using a straw man argument.

    No 4: Ah, one of Neil’s favourites. I’m not sure why he feels it’s even relevant. So we’ve evolved to the point where we are capable of questioning our origins, so what? So people believe in some strange things (remember we’re not just talking Christian beliefs here); does that mean evolution is false?

    No 5: A strong, worthy argument (in my opinion), that merits investigation. I have in the past studied with great interest the chapters in Romans where Paul talks about the law, about the Gentiles being “a law unto themselves” (clearly referring to the conscience, which can be regarded as the law “written on our hearts,” I have gone as far as to study the various Greek words involved in this). Or morality could have evolved. We are social animals who depend on each other for survival. And unless you’re a YEC, you have to accept that we’ve had at least 100 000 years (and probably more like 250 000) to try to figure things out before (some of us) were handed two stones on Mt. Sinai.

    Another good post Neil, even if you do appear to be a bit obsessed with atheists at the moment.

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    1. Another good post Neil, even if you do appear to be a bit obsessed with atheists at the moment.

      Thanks, Michael, and I always appreciate your comments. Yes, I supposed am a bit obsessed — but don’t worry, I’ll be back to whaling on pro-choicers shortly. Actually I had this in my notes for a while and the little visit to Myers’ site was the catalyst to finish it. I wish they were as reasoned as you. Hey, if you aren’t busy, could ya go on over there and straighten ’em out?

      No’s 1 and 2 go together.

      Sort of, but I think there is an important distinction. When trying to explain away irreducible complexity, for example, I’ve seen materialists come up with just-so stories about how something might have evolved without key parts. But they treat that as proof that it happened that way. I’m not sure they even realize they are making the leap, but most audiences would miss that.

      No 3: Everyone knows you can’t prove a negative. Nothing can disprove God’s existence. If any atheist makes this claim, they are being dogmatic. If any Christian tries to score points with this, they are using a straw man argument.

      Agreed about not proving a negative. I’m on record for saying not to use that argument — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/poor-arguments-to-make-with-atheists/

      But Dawkins et al aren’t very consistent here. Just watch them make the leap over and over.

      No 4: Ah, one of Neil’s favourites. I’m not sure why he feels it’s even relevant. So we’ve evolved to the point where we are capable of questioning our origins, so what? So people believe in some strange things (remember we’re not just talking Christian beliefs here); does that mean evolution is false?

      Yes, definitely one of my favorites. I think it is much more than a “So what?” My point isn’t that people believe in strange things. It is that the dogmatic evolutionists are so sure they are right and so proud that they aren’t like those stupid theists. But if they really believed in the materials-to-man fiction and applied any rational thinking they’d be much more ho-hum about their “discovery” and “wisdom.” There would be nothing to be proud of. It doesn’t mean evolution is false, just that the worldview of evolutionists is what is irrational.

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      1. Hey, if you aren’t busy, could ya go on over there and straighten ‘em out?

        Lol – I appreciate your confidence in me, but I don’t comment much over there any more. If I were to express some of my more Christian-friendly views I’d be mauled, and right now I haven’t the energy for that. Besides, to be honest the scientific posts on Pharyngula are usually way over my head, and the rest is fun but usually not worth commenting on.

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  4. Racing Boo, if morality is real, it must be transcendent. The moral law describes what ought to be — how we ought to behave, what we ought to say, etc. — and no “ought” statement can be derived from any set of “is” statements, no matter how voluminous.

    If the human sense of morality evolved, then that sense is a useful fiction, but still fiction. Evolution cannot explain morality; it can only explain it away.

    For instance, if our sense of morality evolved, there’s nothing to stop it from continuing to evolve: “Love your neighbor” isn’t a permanent command to which we have an actual obligation, it’s only the current iteration of social mores that might one day be replaced by its polar opposite if predation and parasitism becomes advantageous to the species.

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    1. “Love your neighbor” isn’t a permanent command to which we have an actual obligation, it’s only the current iteration of social mores that might one day be replaced by its polar opposite if predation and parasitism becomes advantageous to the species.

      Agreed, except it probably wouldn’t be recognised as our species any more.

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      1. Just to be clear: you agree that “Love your neighbor” isn’t a permanent and real obligation?

        It’s no doubt true that the human understanding of the moral law has changed over time, but not all change is attributable to materialistic evolution.

        In (very) broad strokes, the definition of neighbor has expanded from one’s own tribe to everyone (see, the parable of The Good Samaritan), and the Golden Rule has moved from a negative prohibition to a positive requirement — from “don’t do what others wouldn’t like” to “treat them as they would like to be treated.”

        Is this mere change in the Darwinian sense?

        No, it’s progress. It’s an improvement.

        By saying that these changes in our understanding of morality indicate progress, is to imply that our understanding is progressing toward something — namely, a true and perfect ideal of what morality really is, apart from our understanding of it.

        The command to love your neighbor is either an objectively real and unalterable obligation, or a random social more that is merely useful in propagating the species.

        And the insight that one’s neighbor includes even the half-breed mongrels who live up the road from you is actual progress, or it’s a mere mutation for which the word “progress” doesn’t apply.

        I think it’s obvious which position is more morally healthy and more reasonable.

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  5. Neil, I have an almost random thought. I didn’t know there was like an international holiday to celebrate Charles Darwin. Why do people not do something like that for Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein? I mean, Einstein’s theories(laws) are not contested but……

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    1. Good point. Some worship Darwin because they think he disproved God’s existence. Some are fake Christians who even celebrate Darwin in church. I am not making this up: See http://chuckcurrie.blogs.com/chuck_currie/2009/02/happy-birthday-charles-darwin-a-podcast-sermon-on-faith-and-science.html

      No mention of Jesus or the real Gospel, but a whole sermon praising a non-Christian who faked being a Christian and pretended to grudgingly find “evidence” against God’s existence — even though macro-evolution wouldn’t disprove God even it was true.

      Now that I think about it, it does make sense that Chuck would worship Darwin.

      And no wonder the UCC membership is dropping so fast — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/church-membership-in-the-us/ . The “sermons” are virtually indistinguishable from MSNBC and the like.

      1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

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      1. Neil, that was just disgusting I couldn’t bear to hear it. I already told you about a fellow classmate of mine is the president of an atheist group on campus. He always want to divorce atheism from religion but some of these people make me think otherwise. I mean if you all for science why not also celebrate Einstein and others birthdays? Why the euphoric adoration of Dawkins and the like? Not to characterize all atheist but the ones on my campus leads one to scratch their head.

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