Was It Really More Than Ten Years Ago

that I was allowed to post something like this over on the TLO? Back then, of course, it wasn’t the exclusionary advertising cult it has now become.

“It is not possible for a man to achieve absolute neutrality where questions of philosophy and belief are concerned. That is, no man is a true indifferentist in these vital questions. Since atheism is an absence of belief, the objection has been raised that atheism claims no more than what can be verified (at least according to the scientific method). Anything outside of the scientific method is not to be considered, since it cannot be verified. So, then, the scientific method is the sole valid arbiter of what constitutes “reality” and ultimate truth. Where it cannot determine matters exactly, that is, where matters fall outside of its realm, since they cannot be verified scientifically, it claims instead authority by virtue of overwhelming probability (a probability based on an underlying philosophical basis, though rarely acknowledged).

Trying to “prove” the validity of Materialism by pointing to the scientific method is self-contradictory. The argument runs like this: if something cannot be measured, tested and verified by repeated experiment, by reference to a detectable physical characteristic, it must be ruled out of existence. Following that logic a materialist’s truth-claim must be ruled out too, it also being wholly subjective and immaterial in its nature. In and of itself, this cannot be measured, tested and verified etc, by reference to a detectable intrinsic physical characteristic. Materialism requires metaphysics just as much as does theism.

The typical modern-day sceptic can be defined as someone who questions everything, except what science tells him it is meaningless to question. If science, indeed, alone has a grasp on what constitutes reality (fat chance), let us see where an examination leads us.

Science is at its weakest when it makes any claim about origins. Science, as yet, cannot present any verifiable account as to the origin of basic life-forms, namely cells. All they can do is present a wide variety of speculations, none of which are generally accepted as the answer. Moreover, the creation of cells in a laboratory is as distant a prospect as it has always been. Likewise, science has no answer to the question of the origin of matter itself at the exact instant of the Big Bang when time and space came into existence. Indeed, until 1964, the theory was not generally accepted, it being held as scientific orthodoxy that the universe had always existed. When it comes to explaining the existence of the universe, rather than providing an explanation, it instead postulates other theories, such as, the existence of “the multiverse”, a concept no less speculative and unproven in scientific terms and thus unverifiable, than the idea of Absolute Being, or God, contingent unto itself. Ask why there are laws of physics at all and no answer is forthcoming, except that of “Wait! Science will eventually explain everything”.

But Science cannot, and will not, ever be able to answer the “why” of anything only the “how” relating to physical events. Its adherents do not simply rule “why is this so?” out of the case as being unanswerable, they deny the validity of the question “why is this so?” altogether. It is not logically possible to do this without a philosophical position underpinning the foundational denial claim. And that underpinning is materialism (a.k.a. physicalism). Again, materialism in itself is a not scientifically testable subject. Everything just “is” cannot be considered as anything other than an article of faith, which leads to the idea that all metaphysics is a waste of time because science, the supposed sole arbiter of what constitutes reality, cannot provide an answer to the conundrum. Unsurprisingly, since the part cannot be greater than the whole. One need only look at the debates between Einstein and Bohr over quantum mechanics as evidence for this. Even today, there is no scientific consensus on the Copenhagen Interpretation.

I do not respect militant atheist scientists and their fellow-travellers the New Atheists (that is, advocates of materialistic “Scientism”) because I do not trust such people to be intellectually inclusive, but to increasingly regard their fellow theist scientists (who are perfectly able to “do” science with all the expertise of an atheist scientist despite not adhering to philosophical materialism) with prejudice. These people actually desire, in the end, to exclude all religious thought from all communities, including the scientific community.

Unless we have reference to a trans-historical mode of moral conduct reached through reason then all we are left with is the idea that societies are capable of deciding these questions for themselves in terms of “up-to-date” fashionable trends. This may sound acceptable in crass modernity, where we have been conditioned to accept such “progressive” values through state education and mass communications from school-age, but then one comes up against the argument that the latest totalitarian schooling (say, the likes of a neo-Nazism or neo-Communism) is equally capable of settling the argument as to which conduct is ultimately right or wrong. Which it is; but only within its own limited reference frame of relying, ultimately, upon pure brute force.”

Mark S.



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