Sunday, July 6, 2014

20 Questions For Materialists

Counterintuitively, there is a strict orthodoxy amongst contemporary scientists – one that resembles the caricatured notion that most of them hold of theology – one of a rigid and inflexible dogma that is impervious to outside forces.  To question certain assumed “facts” of science is to invite derision and disdain – even (or especially) if you happen to be a credentialed scientist.

When I was in college I noticed an interesting trend among some of my die-hard feminist friends.  Women who espoused views that were antithetical to those of these particular friends weren't only regarded as anti-feminist, they also had their femininity itself called into question with statements like “she has no womb!”  Intellectually, they knew this wasn't the case of course, but emotionally it was real to them.

So too do certain scientists, through their questioning of the materialist dogma held by the scientific majority, invite the rancor of their colleagues and the denunciation of their credentials as “real scientists.”  A case in point is Professor Jerry Coyne’s denunciation of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.  Sheldrake is a Ph.D. is biochemistry from Cambridge (he also studied philosophy and the history of science at Harvard) who committed the ultimate sin against the materialist dogma.  The Guardian glowingly described his early work, labeling him "one of the brightest Darwinians of his generation…His development with Philip Rubery of the chemiosmotic model of polar auxin transport has been described as "astonishingly visionary."  

Unfortunately for the materialist world, Sheldrake’s research lead him in another direction entirely.  As he concluded “The system is circular, it does not explain how [differentiation is] established to start with. After nine years of intensive study, it became clear to me that biochemistry would not solve the problem of why things have the basic shape they do.”

Then came the real apostasy.  He spent some time in India with an interest in Hindu thought that ultimately lead him to re-embrace his Anglican faith.  In the eyes of the materialist this is heresy of the highest order.  Hence, despite Dr. Sheldrake's advanced training and universally acknowledged success, Dr. Coyne concludes that:

“Rupert Sheldrake is a pseudoscientist who has made his name promoting various kinds of woo, including telepathy (including in dogs!), immaterial minds, and his crazy idea of “morphic resonance,” a Jung-ian theory in which all of nature participates in some giant collective memory. (He was once a real scientist, trained in biochemistry and cell biology at Cambridge, but somewhere went off the rails.)”

Since the materialist already “knows” that everything in the universe can be explained through material means (even though it clearly can’t) then anyone who won’t agree with this core principle is not a “real scientist” and has “gone off the rails.”  

To help demonstrate how materialist philosophy is itself “off the rails” Dr. Sheldrake has written “Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.”  In it he outlines how science is being held hostage by this dogmatic materialist position and how, as a result, it actually stymies human progress and paradoxically, science itself.

At the end of each chapter he poses a series of questions for materialists to ponder.  As I consider this questioning to be meaningful and necessary for everyone to think over (especially materialists) I am including them here.  I’d love to hear your responses to them.

  1. Is the mechanistic worldview a testable scientific theory, or a metaphor?
  2. If it’s a metaphor, why is the machine metaphor better in every respect than the organism metaphor?  If it is a scientific theory, how could it be tested or refuted?
  3. Do you think that you yourself are nothing but a complex machine?
  4. Have you been programmed to believe in materialism?
  5. Is your belief in the conservation of matter and energy an assumption, or is it based on evidence?  If so, what is the evidence?
  6. Do you think that dark matter is conserved?
  7. Can you accept that there may be a continuous creation of dark energy as the universe expands?
  8. If there is a vast amount of energy in the quantum-vacuum field, do you think that we might be able to tap it?
  9. Do you believe that your own consciousness is merely an aspect or epiphenomenon of the activity of your brain?
  10. If consciousness does nothing, why has it evolved as an evolutionary adaptation?
  11. Do you agree with the materialist philosopher Galen Strawson that materialism implies panpsychism?
  12. Is your own belief in materialism determined by unconscious processes in your brain, rather than reason, evidence and choice?
  13. How do you know that there are no purposes in nature?  Is this merely an assumption?
  14. If there are no purposes in nature, how can you have purposes yourself?
  15. Is there any evidence for the materialist belief that the entire evolutionary process is purposeless?
  16. Do you believe that memories are stored as material traces in brains?  If so, can you summarize the evidence?
  17. How do you think memory-retrieval systems recognize the memories they are trying to retrieve from memory stores?
  18. Have you ever considered the possibility that memory might depend on some kind of resonance rather than on material traces?
  19. If the trace theory of memory is a testable hypothesis, rather than a dogma, how could it be established experimentally that memory depends on traces rather than resonance?
  20. Could it be that materialism makes less sense and has less explanatory power than is generally believed?  (Mine)

 This is less than half his list.  Read the whole thing in Science Set Free.  Not too shabby a challenge for a pseudo-scientist…

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