Writings on Christianity

The Materialist’s Dilemma (Tsouloufis)

The Materialist’s Dilemma

(Guest post by Dan Tsouloufis)

Can a collision of atoms produce transcendent self-awareness?

Can hard matter produce consciousness?

It would seem to defy both reason and common sense to even pose the above two questions.  Yet in our current, hyper-secular age of scientism and non-reason, we are often compelled to consider such things.

Unfortunately, according to many atheists and evolutionary materialists, the answer to both of these questions is a shocking “yes”.

In response to such notions, I would argue that you cannot get things like thought, consciousness, and self-awareness from purely material stuff, such as atoms and particles.  For example, as C.S. Lewis insightfully pointed out, one’s own awareness of the material universe is not itself part of the universe, since the knowledge of a thing cannot be one of the thing’s parts.  Thus, one’s knowledge and awareness must be transcendent to the material thing, an addition from without.

Philosophically, this argues for a metaphysical, immaterial reality that transcends the material world.  In the Judeo-Christian worldview, we call this the “soul” or “spirit” of a man.  But in the atheist, materialist worldview, one must ask: From where does man derive his consciousness and his self-awareness?

Ironically, in the atheist, materialist worldview, the unguided evolution of the species is a dogmatic philosophical theory purported by those who believe they are composed merely of a collision of atoms.  If that’s the case, then our first logical question should be: How could such a composition of atoms produce a theory at all, let alone an immaterial philosophical theory?  Our second logical question should be: Why do evolutionary materialists adhere to an immaterial philosophical theory in order to maintain their materialism?

For the sake of argument, even if evolution does occur, no one can scientifically prove that evolution has always occurred, or that it was always unguided.  Nor can one scientifically prove that evolution precludes a metaphysical, immaterial reality.  These are merely philosophical assertions, not empirically verifiable deductions.  Naturally, if one holds to an atheist, materialist worldview, the net result will only be materialist conclusions.  That should be obvious to everyone.

Secondly, another major problem of materialism is its inherent reductionism.  For example, it doesn’t adequately account for things like abstract thought.  As humans, we have the ability to think and reason and contemplate.  But we also have the ability to abstract ideas out from their concrete reality, such as numbers, symbols, and colors.

In other words, does the number 5 exist in a physical sense?  No, it does not.  Rather, numbers are symbols for things.  Does the color blue exist in a physical sense?  No, it does not.  We cannot touch or feel blue any more than we can touch or feel green.  We can only touch or feel a particular blue or green object.  Thus, color is a property of a material object which our minds can categorize in order to discern it.

The overarching point is, numbers and colors are mental constructs which are abstracted out from their material natures; they are not physical things in themselves.  Hence, materialism can only deal in concrete reality; it cannot deal in abstract reality.  This is why materialism is both reductionist and incomplete with regard to its conception of human nature, especially the human mind.

Such is the dilemma of the materialist.  To establish their worldview, they must fashion a metaphysical theory while at the same time denying any metaphysical reality.  Thus, they must forgo coherence and live with their inconsistency.  In our age of non-reason, such incoherence is nonetheless called “science”.  It isn’t science, of course, but rather a gaping hole in their worldview.

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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