Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thinkquote of the day: The genuine attractions of materialism

Non-materialist neuropsychiatrist UCLA’s Jeffrey Schwartz notes in the epilogue to The Mind and the Brain,
Finally, after a generation or more in which biological materialism has had neuroscience -- indeed, all the life sciences -- in a chokehold, we may at last be breaking free.... Biological materialism did and does have real-world consequences. We feel its reach every time a pharmaceutical company tells us that, to cure shyness (or "social phobia"), we need only reach for a little pill.... Biological materialism is nothing if not appealing. We need not address the emotional or spiritual causes of our sadness to have the cloud of depression lift; we need not question the way we teach our children before we can rid them of attention deficit disorder.

That, perhaps, explains the attraction. A view of life that argues that we have no self, soul, etc. would not attract so many except for one thing: It rids us of responsibility. It also legitimates whatever steps we take to reduce our suffering. Most traditional cultures limit what we may do to reduce our suffering because suffering is viewed as a normal and meaningful part of the human condition. But that assumes a spiritual reality within which suffering is a journey, often toward self-knowledge.

My other blog is the Post-Darwinist, detailing events of interest in the intelligent design controversy.

Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary ( is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy, and of Faith@Science. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007).

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