Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Articles of interest: On materialists, atheists, consciousness, tenured authoritarian crackpots and more

Here's a Breakpoint commentary on "Breaking the Spell of Materialism"by Regis Nicoll, arguing that materialism is a new form of fundamentalism:
Materialism is a worldview based on a naturalistic understanding of reality. In materialism, the natural world is all there is. There is no supernatural—neither spirit nor soul nor God. There is only “nature”: the cosmic matrix of matter and energy operating according to physical laws. Reality is what is objective, observable and reproducible. For the materialist, the science is “in”: everything is a product of physical processes. On the surface of things, this would seem correct.
But it is not only incorrect, it is impossible.

Madeleine Bunting thinks that the United States is to blame for Dawkins's tirades against religion:
This wave of new atheism is deeply political -- and against some of its targets even a churchgoer might cheer them on. What they all share is a loathing of increasing religiosity in United States politics, which has contributed to a disastrous presidency and undermined scientific understanding

Oh well, that's all right then, I suppose, as long as Dawkins himself isn't to blame for what he says. She makes an interesting point, however, that for the most part the new atheists are "in danger of a spectacular failure." Yes, I think so: Shrill hostility is a tough sell.

Mary Grabar, offering students an antidote to tenured authoritarian crackpots, quotes Elizabeth Kantor:
"It's fatal to any totalitarian project for people to believe that there is an authority that they can appealo over the heads of the political power. That’s why totalitarian governments cannot tolerate religion. The postmodernist pretense that all authority is just a mask for raw power and that all reasoning is only rationalization is no defense at all against oppression—in fact, it can be a justification for it. Christianity, in contrast, is a guarantor of individual human freedom, not a threat to it."

Oh, and here's British physicist David Tyler on the latest attempt to deconstruct consciousness:
The materialist mind-set is a universal acid that eats away at everything, including itself. Consequently, the mind has to be a product of hierarchical levels of neuronal firings, and personality has to be an illusion. We are ultimately conscious machines. Why anyone with these views should think that our neuronal activity can have anything to do with truth and reality is a mystery to me! But even more important, the materialist approach to consciousness is commonly dignified by the name "science". Other approaches, which are likely to be linked to Theism, are labeled "religion" and are excluded, on demarcation grounds, from science. This is an unacceptable situation, for as metaphysics, materialism has a philosophical standing that is entirely equivalent to Theism.

(Note: For the rest of this week, I am tied up with a big writers' conference and won't likely be able to blog. If I'm not too tired, I'll be back to it Sunday.)

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