This post is a response to Lyle Duell’s May 9th, 2018 blog “The end of Materialism” (https://lyleduell.me/2018/05/09/the-end-of-materialism/).
My son gave me a book called The Great Conversation, by Norman Melchert, a textbook reviewing philosophy from early Greek times to the present. In the textbook, the author really starts with philosophers from around 600 BC with group known as the Sophists. The Sophists view came out of investigations into truth and the deep meanings of life. The Sophists decided that there is no Truth, and therefore the only thing that matters is to get your opinion out to the world. The Sophists argue there was no “truth” that everything was relative. Their goal was to win the argument by presenting the best rhetorical defense of their position.
Sophists taught that there is no Truth, that truth is relative to each person. To get their truth heard, sophists needed to make the most persuasive argument. Sophists taught their students to argue both sides of a debate so they could practice their rhetorical skills and learn about relative truth. Sophists became big in politics and the life of Athens because of their ability to argue and present their ideas.
Socrates came along and showed the Sophists were wrong. Socrates showed that there was Truth and people could use reason to find that Truth. Socrates would ask questions about a subject, digging deeper and deeper, removing the facades until all that was left was the underlying truth. This technique would force people to confront their assumptions and show them the fallacies of their opinions. Society put Socrates to death because of they didn’t want to confront their assumptions. Society did not want to hear that their opinions were wrong.
The pursuit of Truth became the main focus of philosophers, and continues to this day. Plato, a student of Socrates thought that Truth was the basis of everything and that the physical world was just a shadow of that Truth. Aristotle, a student of Plato, believed that Truth was determined through logic and reason. With the use of the Socratic method of questioning everything, the search for truth behind the shadows, and application of logic and reason, philosophers have used these tools to continue the search for Truth.
The study of knowledge and reason (epistemology) has evolved over time. By the late 16th century, philosophy was fragmenting into a lot of different directions. The 17th century philosopher Reneé Descartes, decided that he should not base his understanding of the universe and Truth on writings of the past. Instead, he thought he should start with a blank sheet of paper and prove morals, reason, knowledge, and truth. He use mathematics, logic, and deductive reasoning to dig out truth. He remove all assumptions but one, summed up in the seemingly simple statement: “I think, therefore I am.”
Since that time, scientists and philosophers have gotten the idea into their head that they know so much more than, say, Socrates or Descartes. They have come full circle and are back at the Sophists/relativist phase again. The problem is, they have dragged all of society along with them and society is now a bunch of relativists. Relativism and the scientific materialism it engendered makes people think that that their opinions and ideas are just as valid as anyone else’s opinions and ideas. That view is much better for the ego, allowing you to think that your ideas are valid. If relativism is not valid then the person has to do actual work, like thinking and research. It’s much easier to just assume your idea is valid instead of doing the actual work.
Relativism is a disease of the mind. Aristotle thought so little of them that he refused to even bother to refute a relativist. He claimed that the relativist view was so easy to prove wrong as to almost not be worth the effort. Consider the case of the brain surgeon. Are the opinions of all of the people equally valid? Would you want anyone who can formulate a good argument to grab a bone saw and start to work on your brain? Would you want just anyone who thought they knew to run a nuclear reactor, pilot a jet plane, or even cook your food?
Clearly there are people who have skills and expertise in the various subjects. These people are authorities on the subject. If there are authorities on things like rocket science and brain surgery, then why do people think that there is no authority on the investigation of truth or the understanding of morals?
How do we counter society’s dive into the relativist chasm? How do we show people that relativism and the nihilistic materialism that it spawns is wrong and hurtful? We can try to use reason, but using reason to study reason is like looking into a dark, dirty mirror – we only see distortions, grime, and do not see the entire picture. Logic can help clean the mirror a bit, and the scientific method can do some more cleaning, but we are limited by what we can hold in our brains.
I order to fight society’s intellectual decline, I decided to take up the challenge that Descartes once tried. I wanted to start with a clean sheet of paper and see where it got me. I needed to start with a basic assumption, and I did not want to start with the assumption of “I think, therefore I am.” I started with the base assumption, or axiom, that there is a universe and it exists.
From that one axiom, we can make an observation about that universe—there are objects in the universe. We can do things with the objects, such as put them in groups. We can count the objects and measure their height, width, or depth. We can take some objects out of a group. From this simple manipulation of objects, we can create addition and subtraction. From there, we can manipulate groups of groups and create multiplication and division. In fact, from this simple beginning of manipulating groups and measurements we can create all of mathematics, from the simplest addition table to the most complex abstract algebra and calculus.
Once we can perform mathematics on objects, we can observe that objects interact. Investigating that interaction leads to physics. All of physics is just the study of the interaction of objects, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy, these are just objects interacting. We can investigate specific objects—chemicals—and create the science of chemistry. We can see that some chemicals have special properties and call these properties “organic” and create a specialized chemistry of organic chemistry. Investigating these chemicals further finds that some reproduce themselves and that investigation is known as biology. In fact, all of mathematics and physical sciences come from the simple initial axiom of “there is a universe and it exists.” Unfortunately, there is nothing in all of these studies and investigations that helps us refute relativism.
As I dug into the ramifications of this basic assumption, I came across two problems. First, why is there a universe? Second, why is there consciousness? Some would argue evolution would lead to consciousness, but there are both major problems with evolution and even more problems with the idea of consciousness being selected by evolution. This set of problems is not something that could be solved by the physical sciences. This set of problems requires going outside of the universe to solve. That means there is either some divine answer or not.
Using both logic and the scientific method I have found that the only possible answer to the second set of problems is God. I found that the only explanation for life, the universe, and everything (to quote Douglas Adams) is a divine Creator. Once you get rid of relativism and actually search for Truth the answers keep coming back to that one conclusion. People may not like that answer, but that does not make the answer any less valid.
Of course, once you have that answer, the next question is – what is the nature of God. Various religions have tried to answer that question. For me, God is the one of the Christian Bible. The problem with investigating the nature of God is that it is entirely subjective. Your relationship with the Creator is intimate and personal. No one has the same relationship or experience as anyone else. Therefore, the only way to answer this question is through personal search.
Since God is infinite, the search for the full answer to that question will take a lifetime and will never finish. The search entails learning about our relationship with God and therefore our relationship with each other. Each step brings new insight and even more questions. Unfortunately, society today is used to quick, sound-bite sized answers. Most people in our society are not equipped to deal with this search, so they either become shallow Christians or atheists.
Since the final search for truth is subjective, the only way to approach it is via reason. Which brings us full circle to your article—reason gets abused and distorted into supporting the desired outcome, not searching for Truth. Reason gets used as a means to support relativism, not to search for the Truth. Subversion of reason is how institutions, religious people, ceremony, and other trappings of “religion” can come between God and His people. Your book, “From Jesus to Religion: How Forms of Mediation have Subverted the Christian Faith,” is showing the world the results of letting ego direct reason and distort the search for Truth.
Your insightful comments and writings has helped me a lot, and I thank you deeply for that.
The Truth on Religion and Violence
The following is a reply to a young man on social media who was commenting on a post having to do with faith in God. In the comments, there were a number of posts written by the new atheist type criticizing religion for the violence throughout the world. Some went so far as to say that religion is the cause of most wars and most of the violence around the world. Before beginning let me share with the reader that I don’t make any apologies for religion. When religion does something wrong, it deserves the same criticism as the non-religious.
Let me begin by throwing some mud of my own; have not the ideologies of atheistic communism and liberalism been responsible for killing over two hundred million people since the French revolution? That is more than all the other wars recorded in history. If you take out the wars caused by economics and power-hungry kings, how much is left to blame on religion? The belief that religion is the biggest source of war and violence is an atheist myth and propaganda disseminated by them to prejudice people against religion.
The idea of killing people for abstract ideas and ideology are a modern phenomenon with Muslims being the first to practice it on a large-scale in a religious sense. Even here there are many scholars who point out that the Muslim faith more like resembles a fascist political system rather than a religion. However, even if you count it as a religion it is the only major religion which has violence as a part of its core beliefs. By this, I mean it is the only one whose Scriptures (Koran) preach violence. The Jewish faith and its scripture in the Old Testament have stories of violence in them, but the violence was directed toward a certain ancient nation that no longer exists. There is nothing in the Old Testament scripture that would justify Israel today committing violence against another nation or religion except in self-defense. The other major religions teach love and peace.
You asked me why God has made it so hard to find him. I personally don’t think God has made it hard to find him. I think it is Western culture that has made it tough for people to find him. For example, a materialistic mindset has hardened the hearts of people in the west making it hard for them to see God. To experience God it takes time and effort which men in Western culture are no longer willing to do. They expect to find God the way a person would add up two plus two and get four. Unfortunately, experiencing God is more different than that. Finding God comes by way of subtraction, and not addition.
Our spiritual neglect has reached the point that our so-called Christian civilization is no longer Christian. This hasn’t happened through progress in our education or by growth in our spirituality; it’s happened as a result of total neglect of the spiritual. We have simply ignored God. It was not long ago that anyone who was considered an informed person would have a working knowledge about their religion. Today in general, the educated class is totally ignorant of their culture’s religions. Two years ago, I was sitting at a table with four or five people with PhD’s. To my amazement, I found that I could not carry on an intelligent conversation with any of them about religion, philosophy or science. They were specialists who were only well-versed in their particular field. When it came to religion, they were as ignorant as children. Over the years they’re getting to be quite many; I have given numerous books to intellectuals to read on Christianity and to my best recollection not one of them has read the books. It is people like this that criticize religion on Facebook and other social media. They are as ignorant as rocks when it comes to religion and yet they parade themselves as knowledgeable.
You see, the rejection of religion is not a problem of the intellect. It is a problem of the will or appetite. All this intellectual crap that they parade before the world is just a smokescreen to cover up their indifference and bias towards religion. It is all done to save the appearance that they are honest and sincere. They fail to accept that the basic condition of mankind is one of ignorance, sinfulness and hypocrisy. Their arrogance blinds them to God and it justifies God for turning them over to themselves. They have forgotten God and God has turned them over to be the play thing of their own disgusting selves.
Secular people have even rewritten history exaggerating the depravity of the Greeks and Romans only to justify themselves. We are in many ways the most depraved generation of humanity that has ever lived. As the Scriptures say, “there is no one righteous, no not one; there is no one who seeks God.” As a result the end of western civilization is near. Metaphorically, we are living out the story of Lot in Sodom.
Let me recommend a couple of authors; Joseph Peterson is excellent and can be watched on YouTube. C.S. Lewis is still relative and is a good place to start for someone who is seeking God. Start with his book ‘Mere Christianity’. He is English and I find it easier to listen to him on tape or an audio book, than by reading him. You can get his book and more on YouTube.
A Letter to a Christian Science Teacher
Your Zionist interpretation of the Bible seems to align with those that you dislike; i.e. fundamentalist’s, and your defense of science seems to contradict your statement, that it is not a religion. However, you defend it as though it was your religion. Furthermore, the way you defend it seems to be a little over the top. If you view it simply as a method of finding the truth; i.e. the scientific method, then why the big fuss? No one disagrees with the scientific method. The question is do scientists really follow it? I personal think not. The scientific method is used pretty much to make the scientific community respectable and they keep it as law about as well as the Jews kept the Law of Moses.
I think it is self-evident that in most people’s minds science has become a metaphysical concept, which goes way beyond people in white jackets applying the scientific method to their research. Science has become the authority that people appeal to in a secular atheistic culture and for many, science has evolved into a new religion. It used to be that people would appeal to the Bible or the church. They would say “Because the Bible says so” or “Because the church says so”. Now it is nothing but “science says”. For many in our culture the only knowledge that has not been debunked and found useless is called science. This is nonsense; however it is fostered by many in the scientific community. To me there is far more truth in a good work of art than in most scientific theories, or more power in a song than in all of the science in the world. Science has given us many toys and made life easier in some ways, but I think it hasn’t given many people meaning, peace of mind, joy or love. In fact, many scientists are arrogant jackasses. “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up”. Science does not teach this, the Bible does. The false god (idol) of science has taken us to the very edge of the abyss. It has given evil men the power to take away our humanity and turn us into machines. The state is already using it to manipulate the herd in any direction it wishes. Science is now the handmaid of the state, just as religion was a century ago. I personally, value my freedom more than comfort, ease and pleasure. To me science is like religion, it is human and therefore needs to be criticized and critiqued often. The power that it has attained is equal to that of religion and is one of the powers that the Bible speaks about. Remember that our battle is not with flesh and blood but rather with the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Those heavenly powers have their counterpart on this earth. What do you thinks stands behind the metaphysical concept of science?
Science is the false god of many worldly people. It promises them salvation if they will give it their money and commitment. It promises health and wealth to all that follow it. It claims to be able to predict the future (global warming). Something the Bible says only God can do. Not only does it claim to know the future, it also claims it can control it. It also boasts of its miracles of healing and its signs and wonders. To me this sounds a little like the antichrist in the book of Thessalonians and surely sounds like religion. I think science is what you make of it, but for many they have made it their faith and religion.
 Science is a concept that does not existence in reality. If it does where is it? Can I see it, smell it, taste it or touch it? I can do all these things to the people that practice it but I cannot do it to it. In this manner, it resembles religion.
 ” The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thess 2:8-12).