Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission
XXXV. Materialism Vanishes - Page 1 of 2
XXXV. Materialism Vanishes
A. Materialism loses ground
This is a probabilistic justification argument; It does not seek to directly prove that God exists, but that it is rational to believe in God and that there are good reasons to. The argument turns on the basic historical fact that atheists have lost the ground upon which they dismissed God from science in the first place. In their book God and Nature Lindberg and Numbers demonstrate that the moment at which this happened was when La Place said "I have no need of that hypothesis," meaning the idea that God created the universe. What he meant was that God was not needed as an explanation because we now have naturalistic cause and effect, which explains everything. But the atheist has cashed in cause and effect to overcome the Big Bang. Materialists are now willing to consider ideas like the self-caused universe, Hawking’s unbounded condition which removes cause completely as a consideration; or based upon quantum theory they are willing to accept the notion that causality is an illusion, that the universe could just pop up out of nothing. With that commitment they lose the ground upon which they first removed God from consideration.
Now perhaps they still do not need God as a causal explanation, but in the Religious a priori argument, and in the innate religious instinct argument I say that belief was never predicated upon a need for explanation in the first place. Nevertheless, the fact still remains, the reason for dismissing God was the sufficiency of natural causation as explanation. With that gone there are no longer any grounds for dismissing consideration of God from the universe.
I will argue that more than that is going. There is a paradigm shift underway which demonstrates a total change in scientific thinking in many areas and over many disciplines. That change demonstrates that the materialist concept is wrong; there is more to reality than just the material world. There are other aspects to the material world which are non-deterministic, non-mechanistic, and which call into question the whole presupposition of excluding the supernatural from consideration.
1) Materialism is the antithesis of belief in God, it rules out any such belief on the grounds that a deterministic, reductionist, or mechanistic understanding of the natural world is all that is needed to explain the natural world.
2) Materialism is wrong on all these counts; it is not based upon scientific objective or "ultimate" proof, but is culturally constructed.
3) If Materialism is wrong, than the door is wide upon to possibilities of God and the Supernatural, since that is the antithesis.
4) Materialism is wrong, therefore, the door is open to the possibility of God and the supernatural.
Now this argument doesn't prove the Christian God, it could open the possibility to a supernatural without God, or a Buddhist concept of reality, but the step away form total materialism brings us closer to some sort of belief in God.
B. Paradigm Shifts.
1) Thomas S. Kuhn.
Kuhn's famous theory was that scientific thought works through paradigm acquisition, and that paradigms change when they can no longer absorb anomalies into the model and must account for them in some other way. This theory entails the idea that science is culturally constructed, but Kuhn was not "hard project," that is he did not think that science was totally a construct or that it didn't describe true states of affairs in the world. However, our ideas about science are culturally rooted and our understanding of the world in a scientific fashion is rooted in culture. For this reason he thought that science is not linear cumulative progress.
a. Scientific progress not cumulative.
"scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes replaced in whole or in part by a new one..." (Thomas Kuhn The Structure of scientific Revolutions," (92)
b. Paradigm Shifts.
"In section X we shall discover how closely the view of science as cumulating is entangled with a dominate epistemology that takes knowledge to be a construction placed directly upon raw sense data by the mind. And in section XI we shall examine the strong support provided to the same historiographic scheme by the techniques of effective science pedagogy. Nevertheless, despite the immense plausibility of that ideal image, there is increasing reason to wonder whether it can possibly be an image of science. After the pre-paradigm period the assimilation of all new theories and of almost all new sorts of phenomena has demanded the destruction of a prior paradigm and a consequent conflict between competing schools of scientific thought. Cumulative anticipation of unanticipated novelties proves to be an almost nonexistent exception to the rule of scientific development. The man who takes historic fact seriously must suspect that science does not tend toward the ideal that our image of its cumulativeness has suggested. Perhaps it is another sort of enterprise."(Ibid,94)
c. P shift not based rationally upon data.
"The choice [between paradigms] is not and cannot be determined merely by the evaluative procedures characteristic of normal science, for these depend in part upon a particular paradigm, and that paradigm is at issue. When paradigms enter as they must into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses it's own paradigm to argue in that paradigm's defense...the status of the circular argument is only that of persuasion. It cannot be made logically or even probabilistically compelling for those who refuse to step into the circle." (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (96).
Kuhn is not alone in these observations, major scientific thinkers have questioned scientific 'pretense of objectivity' throughout the century:
This 'bigger' aspect can also be seen in Rosenberg's 'liberal naturalism' [CS:JCS:3.1.77]:
"The question of scientific objectivity becomes more compelling when one considers that doubts about the reductive paradigm are by no means new. William James (1890), Charles Sherrington (1951), Erwin Schroedinger (1944, 1958), Karl Popper and John Eccles (1977)--among others--have insisted that the reductive view is inadequate to describe reality. This is not a fringe group. They are among the most thoughtful and highly honored philosophers and scientists of the past century. How is it that their deeply held and vividly expressed views have been so widely ignored? Is it not that we need to see the world as better organized than the evidence suggests?
"Appropriately, the most ambitious chapter of this section is the final one by Willis Harman. Is the conceptual framework of science sufficiently broad to encompass the phenomenon of consciousness, he asks, or must it be somehow enlarged to fit the facts of mental reality? Attempting an answer, he considers the degree to which science can claim to be objective and to what extent it is influenced by the culture in which it is immersed. Those who disagree might pause to consider the religious perspective from which modern science has emerged.
"There is reason to suppose that the roots of our bias toward determinism lie deeper in our cultural history than many are accustomed to suppose. Indeed, it is possible that this bias may even predate modern scientific methods. In his analysis of thirteenth-century European philosophy, Henry Adams (1904) archly observed: "Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity the right to contradict himself, which is one of Man's chief pleasures." One wonders to what extent reductive science has merely replaced Thomas's God with the theory of everything."
2) Paradigm Shifts in last 30 years change materialist conceptions.
Medical paradigm shift
*Medical Schools and Doctors accept Healing more readily.
Christian Science Monitory, Monday, Sept. 15, 1999
http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/1997/09/15/us/us.6.html "Research Starts to Bridge Gap Between Prayer and Medicine.
"The growing dialogue between the disciplines of faith and medicine, was probed this past weekend at the Religion News writers Association's annual meeting here. Increasingly, medical institutions are exploring the role of prayer in healing. Three years ago, only three US medical schools in offered courses on spirituality and health. Today, there are 30."
This quotation is old, it's now 120 schools or so.
*Most Doctors Have experience with healing and medical opinion changing.
Larry Dossey, author of several books on the subject, says that he, like most doctors, has witnessed "miracle cures." But the quality of research on the subject varies greatly.
US TOO International, Inc.
Prostate Cancer Survivor Support Groups
US TOO Prostate Cancer Communicator Article
Volume No. 1, Issue No. 6 (January June, 1997)
Survivor's Corner - Issue 6
"I am motivated to write about the healing power of prayer because many men I talk with are not only asking questions about prostate cancer statistics but have a feeling of being depressed after being diagnosed. Some are in a quandary as to what to do if PSA rises after treatment."
"A recent article was titled, "Physicians believe in the power of prayer," and stated that 269 doctors were surveyed and 99% said they were convinced that religious belief can heal. “We’ve seen the power of belief," said Dr. Herbert Benson, author of Timeless Healing which offers scientific evidence that faith has helped to cure medical conditions. Prayer helps and the prayers of others can help in your recovery and healing."
* Good Studies Exist, Skeptics Pick On Worst Studies. Ibid. Skeptics, [Larry Dossey] says, tend to point to the weakest studies. Good scientific method, he says however, requires the medical community to look at the best work to "see what it shows us." Dr. Dossey adds that "I'm not trying to hold prayer hostage to science. I don't think prayer needs science to validate it."
b. Cosmology (end of cause and effect).
Physicists are now embroiled in integrating metaphysical notions into science and in atheists assume them as though they were fact. The self causing universe, something from nothing, multiple universes, all beyond the pale of scientific investigation, all assumed as totally proven facts by the materialists.
*No Physics to explain something from nothing.
John Mather, NASA's principal investigator of the cosmic background radiation's spectral curve with the COBE satellite, stated:
"We have equations that describe the transformation of one thing into another, but we have no equations whatever for creating space and time. And the concept doesn't even make sense, in English. So I don't think we have words or concepts to even think about creating something from nothing. And I certainly don't know of any work that seriously would explain it when it can't even state the concept."[John Mather, interview with Fred Heeren on May 11, 1994, cited in his book Show Me God (1998), Wheeling, IL, Searchlight Publications, p. 119-120.]
That is describing the excepted theory, that the universe seems to pop up from nothing, yet physicists just accept it and assume that its possible even with no physics to explain it. That is a total paradigm shift.
*Multiverse is unscientific metaphysics.
Sten Odenwald, Goddard, NASA: http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/ask/a11215.html
"yes there could be other universes out there, but they would be unobservable no matter how old our universe became...even infinitely old!! So, such universes have no meaning to science because there is no experiment we can perform to detect them."
Some physicists, such as Oldenwald, are aware of this, but that doesn't stop the materialists from continuing the assumption. So if it is religious metaphysics its bad, but if its metaphysics the materialist can use it's "ok."
c. Consciousness--re-entry of dualism.
There is a revolution in thought about consciousness underway that may include several paradigm shifts at once. It includes an interdisciplinary mix of Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive sciences, physicists, and other disciplines. Some of the more radical theories being advanced by physicists include the notion that consciousness is Quantum, that it is located non-spatially and non-physically. see the consciousness argument for further details. But the most exciting aspect of this controversy is the fact that it has led to a reemergence of dualism. Glenn Miller does an excellent job researching this topic, most of his evidence comes form the Journal of Consciousness Studies. He also does a good job of putting into perspective the new dualism and its implications:
"Now, given this turbulence, re-evaluation, and re-definition going on the field, what is the status of DUALISM?
"Well, the first thing that comes to MY mind is that 'dualism' simply changed its public relations firm and won acceptance!
Strangely enough, the way this was accomplished was simply by defining reality 'bigger'. As one allows consciousness or mind INTO 'nature' as a fundamental 'thing' itself (with causal powers), the dual-worlds were simply collapsed into one 'bigger' world that has both elements in it! Dualism (in most, but not all, senses of the term) was simply given a new name, such as "naturalistic dualism" (Chalmers) or "liberal naturalism" (Rosenberg).
No one puts this as clearly as Todd Moody, in responding to someone's 'fear of dualism' [JCS:2.4.371]:
"It's true that I am not troubled by this, in part because I don't find such a sharp line of demarcation between dualistic and materialistic metaphysics in the first place. If we cannot escape the conclusion that the physical description of the world is incomplete (as Elitzur states and many others agree), the main thing is to try to find a more complete one and not worry about whether it resembles previous versions of materialism or dualism"
The New York Times,April 16, 1996Arizona Conference Grapples With Mysteries of Human Consciousness By SANDRA BLAKESLEE[T] UCSON, Ariz.
"The next major group of consciousness seekers might be called modern dualists. Agreeing with the hard problem, they feel that something else is needed to explain people's subjective experiences. And they have lots of ideas about what this might be. According to Chalmers, scientists need to come up with new fundamental laws of nature. Physicists postulate that certain properties -- gravity, space-time, electromagnetism -- are basic to any understanding of the universe, he said. 'My approach is to think of conscious experience itself as a fundamental property of the universe,' he said. Thus the world has two kinds of information, one physical, one experiential. The challenge is to make theoretical connections between physical processes and conscious experience, Chalmers said. Another form of dualism involves the mysteries of quantum mechanics. Dr. Roger Penrose from the University of Oxford in England argued that consciousness is the link between the quantum world, in which a single object can exist in two places at the same time, and the so-called classical world of familiar objects where this cannot happen. Moreover, with Hameroff, he has proposed a theory that the switch from quantum to classical states occurs inside certain proteins call microtubules. The brain's microtubules, they argue, are ideally situated to perform this transformation, producing 'occasions of experience' that with the flow of time give rise to stream of consciousness thought. The notion came under vigorous attack."
"It is very difficult to avoid this conclusion of 'emergent dualism' (chortle, chortle)with all the proposals floating around (reviewed above). The mind as 'immaterial'--in the sense of classical matter--is also accepted as a brute fact! Consider some of the statements and concessions (bold, my emphasis; italics, their emphasis):"
The introductory chapter in CS:TSC (p.1) opens with this statement: "This volume begins with a series of philosophical chapters devoted mostly to the explanatory chasm between reductionist mechanisms and the subjective phenomenon of conscious experience. The chasm is do daunting that many support 'dualism', the notion that the mind is distinct from the brain and merely interacts with it."
Erich Harth, (Univ. of Syracuse, Dept. of Physics) [CS:TSC:611ff] notes that dualism is "not quite as dead as some would have us believe" (p.619), and then goes on to show that the most common objection to old-style dualism just doesn't wash [p.620]:
"Physicists, predictably [in a quantum wave probability sense, of course..;>)], are very open to this interpenetration of mind/matter: Compare the free-floating quote of noted physicist Feynman:" "Mind must be a sort of dynamical pattern, not so much founded in a neurobiological substrate as floating above it, independent of it" [cited in CS:DP:24]
Hameroff's model [CS:JCS:108] claims to be both reductionist AND dualist:
"As a model of consciousness, quantum coherence in microtubules is reductionist in that a specific molecular structure is featured as a site for consciousness. It is seemingly dualist in that the quantum realm (which is actually intrinsic to all of nature) is seen to act through microtubules."
Atmanspacher gives his view that the dual-world is just this 'bigger' one-world [JCS:1.2.168-9]:
"One of the hot topics in this respect concerns the question of whether material reality and its non-material counterpart can indeed be considered as independent from each other as the concept of Cartesian dualism assumes. The most precise and best formalized indications for a negative answer to this question can be found in quantum theory."
"Two important concepts that present evidence against any ultimate relevance of the corresponding dualism are the concepts of complexity and meaning. In addition to quantum theory, these concepts reflect tendencies to bridge the Cartesian cut from both realms, that of physics as well as that of cognitive science..."
Grush and Churchland [CS:JCS:2.1.10-29] express amazement at how many 'intellectual materials' seem to have 'strong dualist hankerings' (p.27). They talk about these 'residual dualist hankerings' as being a rather widespread phenomenon.
An interesting possible example of this is in Hodgson' book The Mind Matters. In the review of the book [JCS:2.1.93], Squires makes this comment:
"Often I find in this book that the author is almost saying that within a person there is something that is in its essence not physics, but then he realizes that this is dualism, which he feels should be avoided, so he tries to escape. These escapes are unsatisfactory."
Chalmers actually refers to his position as 'naturalistic dualism' and says that it does qualify as a type of dualism, but an innocent dualism [e.g. CS:JCS:2.3.210]
McGinn notes that "recent philosophy has become accustomed to the idea of mental causation" [CS:JCS:2.3.223]
d. Psychology of Religion.
See the Religious Instinct argument where I show that a whole discipline arose, transactional analysis, based upon Abraham Maslow's theories of mystical experience. Documentation on that page demonstrates that psychology no longer approaches religion as suspect, but understands it as healthy and normative for human being, and approaches unbelief as suspect. There are also studies presented showing the benefits of religion for metal health.,
3) New laws of Physics.
In the NYT Quote from Chalmers above he proposes coming up with a new law of physics to explain the basic property of nature known as "consciousness." He is not the only one to propose this, as one can see from quotations of physicists in the consciousness argument. When theorists start proposing new laws of physics one can be fairly sure that a paradigm shift is underway. This is even more the case when the new law of physics is proposed to explain something that the old paradigm had reduced practically out of existence. The old reductionist/materialist paradigm reduced consciousness to mere epiphenomenal status and located it as brain function. It is the inadequacy of this understanding which has led some scientists to call for a new law!
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By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.