Within this website I explore whether there is a spiritual realm, a supernatural realm, containing God, mind, souls, consciousness with its contents (ideas, emotions, love, reason, etc) — this, from a purely philosophical and unreligious point of view.
In this article, I first assume there is a spiritual realm so as to explore the implications; then I present my conclusions elsewhere.
Materialism/physicalism. By materialism I don't mean consumerism.
When I listen to atheists refute God, it's nearly always the Christian God, the one who commits genocide and other atrocities, and who commands angels and his chosen people to also do so. Atheists don't seem to address concepts of God based on philosophy, but they instead assume materialism.
If all that exists is the universe, then the universe itself is philosophically analyzing itself.
Seems weird, I realize.
Also, humans, who exist within the universe, have mental powers such as rationality, cognition, and reason; with which they ponder and philosophize about aspects of the universe including social and cultural matters.
Therefore, the universe itself is a philosopher, actively doing philosophy.
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I prefer my view: that this living, rational, philosophizing aspect of reality resides within a realm outside the physical realm, within the spiritual realm.
Both say all of reality is a unified whole; that there is no God outside of the entirety of reality itself.
Atheism assumes materialism; that there is no spiritual realm. But atheism includes the reality of consciousness and emotions and etc as having material existence (as emergent properties). And this includes reason, philosophizing, the mind, and etc.
Atheism rejects the idea of a divine. Yet they are in awe of the amazing universe, and wonder in childlike simplicity what existed before the big bang and how to understand quantum mechanics.
I suppose the main difference between atheism and pantheism is that pantheism is not afraid to associate with spirituality and the divine.
Compare the frontiers of science of today with the days of Copernicus. Today scientists propose (and seem to believe in): (1) a multiple universe multiverse; (2) the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) multiple universes of quantum mechanics; (3) explanations of what happened before the big bang; and etc. Will experiments ever trim down this list?
These kinds of speculations are philosophy, not science. I suppose you can believe your particular proposal as if it's true, even though there is not enough scientific evidence yet to prove it. But it seems to me you should withhold belief, reserving belief for things having more and stronger evidence.
Back in the days of Copernicus, there were various views of the relationships between the positions and motions of the sun, moon, earth, and planets; things hard to know at the time. These were the frontiers of science.
But now, we seem to be reaching a threshold in which the energies required to perform the necessary experiments are too high and the events in question occurred 14 billion years ago. Seems there is a religious zeal to all this not warranted by the reality. In my view, such things are not part of science, not within the proper domain of science. It's now concerned with speculation, with faith and belief; things in the sphere of religion.
I'm not sure how useful it is to categorize this kind of belief as religion. Maybe a better label is "cult of ideas".
I was reflecting about why it took me so long to quit being a Christian. There was no internet back then and my only source of information was from the Christians who railed against non-Christian sources of information. (I even argued about creationism with my father, who was an atheist — but now I probably agree with him about most things, but he is dead.)
Occasionally I did hear something from an Atheist against the idiotic truth claims of Christianity, but because of their anger and rabid anti-religion and anti-Christian diatribes, I found listening to them distasteful and so, I didn't consider any opposing views.
If these anti-Christians had been more neutral and even-keeled in tone, perhaps I would have abandoned Christianity decades sooner. And if they were willing to rationally discuss views of non-materialism or the philosophical basis for the scientific method (which they don't do, and this annoys me).
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This is a good reason why so-called facts presented for consideration (from Christians, for example) should be assessed using: science, archaeology, prophecy, history, document analysis, and etc.
If you are trying to understand the nature of something, and its functioning and operation and properties, you are limited with science to the physical (I call this the physical realm). Anything non-physical (I call this the spiritual realm) cannot be known this way.
But this doesn't mean it is correct to therefore assume that everything is physical. This is the error of materialism.
Mind sits atop the physical world and is created via brain functioning. Mind is not matter — but neither is energy or entropy. Whatever mind (and consciousness) is, it is an aspect of the universe. Philosophy is the use of the conscious mind to reflect on reality; in fact, science is a subset of philosophy.
The visions for the future by materialist atheists: upload your brain to a supercomputer to live forever, colonize other planets in and outside our solar system, use genetic engineering to create who-knows-what to improve humanity, robots with amazing powers (that might destroy humans), artificial intelligence to invade every aspect of living.
I was sitting in the forest and a small awkward flitty insect was hovering right in front of my face. Can we make robots that small?
Probably we will run out of cheap energy long before any of these futuristic dreams are realized. But they seems to assume there will be unlimited energy for anything.
So what makes these people seriously entertain these visions? It's materialism. The religious impulse of humans is channeled into strictly materialistic pursuits. And you end up making monsters.
I am troubled that many science minded people assume materialism/physicalism; that everything is physical.
I agree that the scientific method provides provable knowledge about the physical universe, and that it is impossible to prove anything at all otherwise.
But proving something is true, and acknowledging its existence are two different things. For example, it is false that living physical unicorns roam the prairies on earth, but the idea of unicorns certainly exists in the minds of humans. Is an idea physical?
Certainly philosophical arguments and logic can prove whether arguments are true. But the realm of philosophical reflection has generated generations of generations of good ideas, often contradicting those of previous generations. But these are all mere ideas.
Newton's laws of motion are true within their proper domain, period. And this is the difference between science and philosophy (I'm using philosophy to refer to any idea-based reflection and analysis).
But there seems to be things outside of provable science. An example is a fictional novel. Science encompasses the ink on the paper, but science can say nothing about the story and the plot. To assume these are in some way physical is, in my view, a mistake.
In this section I neglect to consider that merely believing in some spiritual purpose does not actually change the dynamics of the human condition to lead to living a happy life. And I merely assume that atheists can't be happy and fulfilled because they must have a constant sense of dread in believing there is no afterlife or some such.
Materialist atheists claim materialism doesn't lead to despair. But this is because they hang on to mental aspects of their lives even though they think it's all an illusion or some such. They have values and a sense of morality, perhaps claiming these have some sort of evolutionary survival purpose.
Does the human condition of necessity lead to despair? I think only if your attitude of living for the enjoyment of the moment fails.
But if our conscious life is just an illusion, what hope can there be in life? Any hope or purpose is an illusion as well. Happiness is merely hormones and molecules triggering certain brain functions. There is no free will.
Actually I'm objecting to the consequences of thinking consciousness is an illusion, not to materialism and atheism. I think that whatever consciousness is, it is a real part of material reality. As such, our conscious life is real and life is worth living, because conscious experiences are worth experiencing.
I'm proposing that materialists who aren't living in despair have a secret dualism they operate under that keeps them sane. Even though they call it an illusion, they actually believe it's real.
This dualism also operates for theists; the world is a place of suffering and yet we must assume and hope we will not suffer too much and that, therefore, life is worth living.
In the old days, when lightning flashed and thunder roared, and the people didn't know what it was, they assumed it was from a living being. And thus, the god of thunder was invented.
Then, they would establish rituals and a priesthood, and make temples; a religious system persisting for many thousands of years. Soon, those not believing in the god of thunder would be executed or whatever.
Atheists who object to anything non-material often refer to it all as mere imagination. They say if you believe in God, that it is your imagination. Or if you believe in a spiritual realm, that it is your imagination. Or if you are a dualist (mind-body dualism) thinking consciousness is apart from the material/physical universe, that it is your imagination.
That's what philosophy must be then, mere imagination. But yet the scientific method is based on philosophy, about the nature of knowledge and how you can know it and prove it, and what is the domain within which science operates. And the personhood and seemingly free will of scientists, that must be imagination also.
I was recently listening to a Ph.D. psychology professor explain why dualism is false. (Mind-body dualism is the idea that the mind resides outside the domain of physical space, time, matter, and energy; outside the physical universe [the physical realm]. I refer to this outside place as the spiritual realm.) He claimed there was no way for the external mind to communicate with the body, nor for an external free will to trigger behavior.
There is a way but, weirdly, the materialists/physicalists don't try very hard to discover it; rather, they merely assume their conclusion of materialism/physicalism.
And here's how it works:
From body to soul
If the soul could somehow read the state of the neural network as electrons are flowing through it, the soul could be consciously (and unconsciously) aware of the physical state of the brain. This is a one way communication from body to mind.
Therefore, specific neural network configurations are links to the various memories, to conscious experiences, and even to unconscious mental activity; all residing in the spiritual realm.
This better explains, I think, how different parts of the brain trigger different conscious experiences. For example, the experience of a specific emotion by the soul in the spiritual realm would be linked to electrical flow in such and such a region or function of the brain. Otherwise, without a non-physical soul, it's hard to imagine how various differences in brain structure could result in such distinct conscious experiences.
From soul to body
To trigger movement of muscles or interact with the brain itself, the non-physical mind merely needs to determine specifically where electrons appear upon wave function collapse. (It must do this while preserving the appearance of randomness. Quantum mechanics only requires that the aggregate of many wave function collapse events are probabilistic, not that each wave function collapse event is truly random.)
This assumes extreme micromanagement by the soul interacting at the molecular level, presumably billions upon trillions of interactions per second.
Perhaps the soul influences how the neural network develops during the growth of the brain, as well as during day to day experience.
I can't imagine of any other way for the mind and body to interact.
Listening to materialists/physicalists talk about consciousness; the ones who say it's an illusion created by the brain. By the time they deconstruct all neuronal activity, analyzing brain activity down to its constituent parts, they discover there is no central organizing locus of the brain which could correspond to the sense of "I am", of selfhood. At each step of this deconstruction, the domain of consciousness becomes smaller and smaller until,... poof, it disappears altogether. And that is their proof that consciousness is merely an illusion created by the brain, similar to the way it creates optical illusions.
But obviously, consciousness does exist, and obviously we have a sense of self and of being a unified person. We know when our senses are deceiving us via optical illusions; we are still conscious of the illusions. Consciousness is something, and it has a unity, a unifying experiential aspect.
Therefore, materialism/physicalism is proven to be false (by "proof" I mean very likely probabilistically). Consciousness resides outside the universe in its own domain which I call the spiritual realm.
It really depends, I suppose, on how you define materialism. If you allow for consciousness to be a part of the material functioning of the universe just as are energy, entropy, information, and time, then consciousness is material.
Notice I have not mentioned anything about God or gods or revealed religions or revealed spiritual paths. Materialism/physicalism is proven false using only observation and philosophy, by thinking; the same way the scientific method was determined to generate true knowledge, and using the same human mental faculties that scientists use in doing science.
I was having a very brief discussion online with an atheist (who was of course trying to convert me against believing in God, because that's what they live for), and he or she challenged me to imagine there is no God.
I thought, why should I? Should I also imagine that World War II never occurred, because it was ugly? If I imagine there is no God, will I then believe there is no God?
It seems to me, a better approach is to discover through philosophical reflection just what it is that is likely to be true. If you imagine different possibilities in the process, well that's how you do philosophical analysis; by using the mind and reason. I doubt that is what he or she had in mind with my imagining.