13th January 2011

“The term 'Materialism' is most often used in contrast to something else – something non-material, or supernatural. Proponents of Intelligent Design frequently lament the scientific claim that humans are the product of purely material forces. At the same time, they never define how non-material forces might work. I have yet to find a definition that characterises non-materialism by what it is, rather than by what it is not.”

Amanda Gefter

13 Responses to “13th January 2011”

  1. CaptainZero Says:

    The religious like to label non-believers ‘materialists’ as if that demonstrated some vague deficiency of character. But the ‘immaterial’, by which I assume they are talking about spirits and souls is ONLY accessible if you are willing to believe major claims absent or against proof. If you are willing to believe in the immaterial, then why don’t you also believe in unicorns? On what basis does one draw a line when accepting the fanciful?

  2. kaptain Says:

    I don’t see any of these Christians taking a vow of poverty and throwing all their shit away or quitting that job so they won’t appear to be hypocritical. Yeah, that’s not going to happen………. is it. They’re full of shit and they know it.

    Something we’ve known all along. That’s right Tech, we know.

  3. Depends where u are... Says:

    IMO they are trying to muddy the water by using a word with (at least) two usages – similar to “theory”.

    Accusing atheists of being materialists is shorthand for saying they are immoral.

    Typical liars for jeebus!

  4. Atheist MC Says:

    I’m sure there is a general misunderstanding, or confusion at any rate between the derogatory monetary use of materialism and the philosophical meaning. Whether people are deliberately equivocating or not I can’t guess. The point of the quote is that nobody defines immaterial in any sense that is not just the antithesis of material (philosophical). In other words it’s “magic” and we are supposed to accept that as an explanation.

  5. Webock Says:

    “Proponents of Intelligent Design frequently lament the scientific claim that humans are the product of purely material forces. At the same time, they never define how non-material forces might work. I have yet to find a definition that characterises non-materialism by what it is, rather than by what it is not.”

    “Purely material” seems a bit extreme to me which would no doubt cause some to “lament.”

    One might lament if one called love “purely non-material;” yet love is patient, love is kind, love is humble, love is not easily angered, and no doubt a few more non-material things. These are spirit; yet can be sensed in the material realm.

    There is the letter of the law which is material; and yet there is the spirit of the law. One would have to concede that an extreme in either direction may be a bit of a problem.

    I stepped out on a thin limb here to add to your discussion. I am curious to know how many “immaterial” attitudes will respond to my comment “materially speaking” of course. I came here in peace be it materially or immaterially.

  6. Dan Says:

    If we’re discussing the semantics of the term “Materialist,” has anyone noticed that we “Materialists” actually do believe in both Matter AND ENERGY. I mean, okay, it’s a bit of geeky semantics that I’m playing at, but you cannot have a discussion of, say, thermodynamics or cosmology without talking about energy.

    I guess this is just a pet peeve of mine – I insist on responding to creationists who label me or other atheists as “Materialists” by saying that, no, in fact I believe in more that material matter. I believe in matter AND energy, and I might throw in time and space too.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  7. reetBob Says:

    Webock, I suspect that the ‘spirit of the law’, unlike The Spirit in the Sky, is well within the realms of the physical world, being, as it is, a product of the human mind, and hence (I believe) the brain.

    I’ve heard of (but don’t fully understand) the philosophical concept of qualia, which is the way the mind (brain) experiences its interpretation of external stimuli. Does the sensation of ‘red’ or ‘cold’ or ‘hunger’ differ in any material way from the experience of ‘justice’, apart from in complexity?

  8. reetBob Says:

    obviously I meant our Sense of Fairness instead of just ‘justice’

  9. Atheist MC Says:

    But matter and energy are equivelant, essentially the same thing. Energy is not immaterial.

    @Webock
    On the other hand you are equivocating although I realise somewhat tongue in cheek.
    “Spirit of the law” is a semantic allegory which recognises that human intention is not always codifiable in simple language. There is no Platonic “perfect” law existing outside of the legislation we are referencing when we say it.
    Also that love generates several interesting emotional states and behaviour does not prevent it from being material. Human emotions exist in human brains and can be recognised as excitation of specific regions (often accompanied by hormonal responses). It does not indicate that another realm or magic or gods are involved.

  10. Dan Says:

    AtheistMC,
    Where do you think the word “(im)material” comes from? Matter and energy are equivalent as you say, but they aren’t the same thing.

  11. Doubting Thomas Says:

    It takes a weird and convoluted mind to equate the smoke and mirrors of “FAITH” with material and logic. However if there is control whether it be financial, social or sexual to gain the theists will continue to try to corrupt our young

  12. Atheist MC Says:

    Where do you think the word “(im)material” comes from?

    I don’t know but not from energy. There appears to be no correlation. Energy is a modern concept.

  13. Dan Says:

    I don’t know but not from energy.

    Exactly. The etymological root is derived from the English word “matter,” which is itself derived from the Latin materia, meaning “substance from which something is made.”

    And energy is not a modern concept, derived from the Greek energeia, meaning “activity, operation,” and energos, meaning “active, working.” Only it’s scientific use is modern, but then again the scientific use of matter is a modern concept too.