Sunday, 28 August 2011

Materialism: The Ideology

Many creationists try to make a big deal out of the link between evolution and atheism. Those who stand up for teaching evolution are often branded as atheists, including many devout theists. It seems there are two central claims behind such links. The first claim is that evolution is incompatible with a belief in God - that it either leaves God redundant or diminishes our species to a mere accident. The second claim is that evolution is being used to push God out of the picture - that it's a materialist ideology masquerading as science.

The first case is one best left to theologians, but the second case pertains to the validity of evolution as a science. The relevant question seem to be whether something held for ideological reasons can also be valid. Even if it were true that evolution was purely materialist ideology whose leading proponents sought to exclude God, would this invalidate evolution as a science?

To look at this question I'm going to invoke a historical parallel. Jesus is the central figure to Christianity, without a historical Jesus most forms of Christianity would be wrong. So does the historical case for Jesus need exclusion on the basis that Christianity needs a historical Jesus?

I'm fairly sure I know the answer to this. Of course not! The case for a historical Jesus should be decided by the historical evidence. Indeed, I've heard the argument that the historical Jesus is the main reason to be a Christian.

So when it comes to evolution, even if there's people with an ideological agenda, surely evolution's status as a science depends on whether or not the theory is able to fit with observation and evidence. It could be that evolution is good science and good reason to be a materialist.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to evolution there is no divide among experts down religious lines. And when experts do speak about evolution, they talk about the evidence for evolution. Meanwhile the link between evolution and atheism is highlighted by creationists, who don't talk about evidence at all. It may be that Francis Collins has been brainwashed by materialists, or that he's not a True Christian™ if he's so willing to speak in favour of evolution, but either way such a statement shows where the ideological hand in the evolution discussion really lies...


IntelligentAnimation said...

Is it true that materialism is an ideology that some followers often interject into scientific pursuits even in opposition to evidence?

Absolutely, but you used just one example: evolution. I agree that the evidence supports evolution and that one can believe in both God and evolution.

Does evolution support materialism? Not really, but it does oppose creationism, a key opponent of materialism. Yet, both extremes can still be wrong, with the facts supporting neither materialism nor creationism.

IntelligentAnimation said...

Our knowledge of evolution demolishes both creationism AND materialism, both extremist religious myths. Had evolution turned out to be Darwinian, then that would have bolstered materialism, but Darwin was quite wrong, and so is materialism.

In the scientific knowledge that we have in 2013, the ideology of materialism, which never really made much sense anyway, is hopelessly falsified. We have a planet loaded with living organisms, each one of which has trillions of movements daily, each of them purposive and functional.

Intelligence is a factual part of our real world. To deny that is unscientific foolishness.

Kel said...

"Had evolution turned out to be Darwinian, then that would have bolstered materialism, but Darwin was quite wrong, and so is materialism."
I won't comment on whether or not materialism is wrong, but I'm not sure where your comments on the wrongness on Darwinism come from. Darwinism (that is, evolution by natural selection) is still alive and well in academia among biologists. There are non-Darwinian factors at play, but there's no getting around that natural selection plays a part in evolution.

Kel said...

"Intelligence is a factual part of our real world. To deny that is unscientific foolishness."
Of course it is - our species makes cars and computers. But I'm guessing you have something else in mind - intelligence being behind nature. And if that's the case, then "To deny that is unscientific foolishness" isn't actually an argument demonstrating the role intelligence plays. Just where is the factual demonstration of intelligence in our world outside the products of complex life?

IntelligentAnimation said...

Kel, thank you for the response. First, I should clarify that my college major and ongoing study is in Biology, so while I am aware of teleology arguments in non-biotic nature, I remain largely ignorant and open minded on that. I was referring specifically to the teleology of biological organisms.

In fact, most of us see a clear difference between the behavior of matter intrinsic to life as opposed to non-life, and it behooves science to explain theat difference. Most accept it as obviously factual, but intelligence deniers try their utmost the oppose the facts, without actually coming up with alternatives.

We are talking about ubiquitous and uniform, clearly observed, tested and demonstrated scientific facts (teleology) versus religious conviction (materialism).

It is complex life itself, not just its products, that overwhelmingly demonstrates the wrongness of materialism and the scientific validity of teleology.

IntelligentAnimation said...

Kel, Neo-Darwinism is indeed alive in academia, although I wouldn't say its doing all that well. I think I recall you being from Australia but here in the US, Darwinism is mandated to be taught in schools, so it is a difficult situation since the government got involved.

Since those laws were made, evolution experiments have been disproving Darwinism regularly, yet changing the laws will be an ugly battle, since the media loves to portray all intelligent cause as creationism. Despite the laws, some 70% of US high school teachers refuse to teach it, and the trend is clearly moving in an anti-Darwinian direction.

I see "sandwalk" on your recommended blogs. That blog disallows opposing viewpoints unless they are from patsies who can be humiliated. If Moran loses a debate on his blog, he deletes the entire thread. He is a notorious atheist apologist, with a strong religious agenda.

I would recommend focusing less on arguments form authority and more on the scientific method. There is no consensus on evolution.

IntelligentAnimation said...

Selection plays NO part in evolution !!! It is the opposite of evolution and only happens AFTER the evolution of a new trait. Evolution is change and selection is staying the same.

Selectionism is just a logic fallacy that confuses those who don't give the subject much thought. Like all filters, selection is subtractive only, so it can not evolve anything.

So you could stretch semantics enough to claim selection causes extinction, death or any absence (subtractive) but can never credit selection for the existence of something that didn't already exist.

Selection is a poor way to define a result, but it is not a cause.

There is no actual thing called selection that actually does anything. Instead, there are organisms actively evolving and their success or failure is awkwardly termed "selection". 100% of all evolution is internal to organisms and 0% of the credit goes to "being selected".

To credit selection is to claim that a species exists because it didn't go extinct. Selectionism is a vapid tautology, not science.