Monday, June 8, 2015

The god of Materialism Is Just A Souped-up Bronze Age Idol

In this very brief history of modern cosmological physics, the laws of quantum and relativistic physics represent things to be wondered at but widely accepted: just like biblical miracles. M-theory invokes something different: a prime mover, a begetter, a creative force that is everywhere and nowhere. This force cannot be identified by instruments or examined by comprehensible mathematical prediction, and yet it contains all possibilities. It incorporates omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence, and it's a big mystery. Remind you of Anybody?

Tim Radford:  Review of Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design

Among the silly billies who are a burden here there seems to be this persistent notion that I've been in the business of proving the existence of God when I've never presented anything remotely in the form of a proof for God and never would because 1. it would require attempting to define God and that is an act of idolatry, 2. it could not escape implying that God is like a thing in the physical universe when I believe God is not like a thing and certainly not like one of the set of objects in the physical universe, 3. for those reasons trying to prove the existence of God only proves someone is as rather bad at reasoning as the majority of people who demand proofs of God.

Any God who can be defined by methods for discerning the nature and existence of items in the physical universe would share the same qualities of limitation that items in the physical universe have.  None of which is God, despite what gods people make of money, fame, power, ideologies, science, physical laws (a popular one in the last few years is some notion of quantum vacuum), mathematics, and even some individuals such as the sacred Charles Darwin.  Other than that last one, all of those things that are commonly worshiped are man made creations, as certainly as any stone god or god of wrought gold.  Well, since almost everyone's notion of Charles Darwin is a post war myth constructed to hide the real man, that one is too.  No one who knew Charles Darwin would, I suspect, know the post-war Charles Darwin which is falsified most easily by reading what the real man wrote and what those who knew him intimately said about him and his work.

Given the widespread ignorance about science, especially among those who have, in fact, turned it into a matter of religious faith, their fundamentalist insistence on its infallibility and the insistence on reverencing it and its priesthood is not different from their scorned and imagined "bronze age" illiterate peasant's ignorance  based awe.  Really, it's only different in vehemence, not kind, from the faith of those religious fundamentalists of today who they hate and scorn.  Though every one of the major homicidal regimes, Nazi, Stalinist, Maoist, etc. have claimed the mantle of science for their beliefs and sponsored scientists so that's no guarantee to not be a feature of future science worshipers.   They've been as willing as any fundamentalist to kill, though certainly not as willing as the money worshipers, though there is nothing mutually exclusive about the two faith systems.

One of the more telling aspects demonstrating that is the sometimes made challenge to list the contributions of religion that match things like vaccination,* modern medicine, computers, mass communication, .... and many promised benefits that are bound to come, they believe, due to the potency of science and the day of ultimate redemption when those many notes of promissory materialism are finally, finally cashed dollar for dollar.  Which is not really different from any other kind of cargo cult.   By comparison the promises made to the children of Abraham, accounting for the contemporary knowledge of things like the number of stars and grains of sand, seem modest, realistic, in comparison.  And its achievement as described in the books that come after the "Mosaic books,  wasn't any glorious pie-in-the sky like Marx's promised land. People were still people and still subject to the many trials and tribulations that are our lot, in reality.   When translated from the literary conventions of the times, the modes of expression and thinking, such as we can discern them, it seems much more realistic than the Panglossian ideas that the leisure loving type of materialist expects.

One of the lessons which the "historical books" of the bible constantly emphasize is that actions have consequences and the consequences of human weakness and greed aren't pretty.  It holds that those are not inevitable but are a matter of  moral choices, unlike the more macho, action oriented materialists who have constructed that mountain of corpses in the past and today who hold that their depraved vision of present and future are a matter of physical law and determinism.  They must because they spend so much of their effort in insisting that all of our thinking and action are the result of physical law which can't be overcome.  Dawkins prattling about choice even as his ideology denies that possibility only shows that the guy is really, really bad at thinking things through.

I have to wonder if there isn't a useful analysis of the hatred of the God of Abraham and Jacob, up till today, as a fight between those whose God is nothing like something in the physical universe and those who can't conceive of their god as not being anything but a physical object or force.  And another analysis of the more typical blog atheist who is pissed off that things aren't just to their liking all the time in every way, and that things aren't that proves there is no god who has delivered on their every desire.  The number of times I've heard that proof, that x is dead and Dick Cheney isn't proves there is no God.  The self can serve as a god when your idea of god is an object.   Materialists are mostly quite willing to cut themselves an exemption from their system, even those too ignorant to understand they operate within a system.

*  Darwin predicted, wrongly, that universal vaccination would have disastrous effects in the human population due to too many poor people and other "weaker members" of the human species he listed as unfit to live.  When his son, Leonard, ran for a seat in Parliament,  opposing universal vaccination was part of his platform.   He lost.   It has been one of the ironies of my research that even as the atheists mock and scorn the anti-vaxxers, their god was something of one, himself.


  1. It is astounding the desire to squeeze history into as tiny a pigeon-hole as possible. In comments on yet another Jeffrey Tayler screed at Salon yesterday, the argument arose that Hitler was motivated solely by his Christianity.

    Which made someone point out that the Holocaust was a product of eugenics as much as ancient Christian European hatred of Jews. But the on-line atheists insisted the only problem with Hitler was his Christianity.

    Historical revisionism by ignoring history. Fascinatingly irrational.

  2. There really does have to be more exposure to the record of Hitler and the Nazis, especially their program of exterminating Christianity through their indoctrination of children. That's only been part of the available record since the OSS issued its reports on the Nazi's activities almost seventy years ago. That it hasn't become more known is certainly due to academics and other writers either not thinking it was important or because they wanted to suppress it.

    To think that anyone who believed what Hitler believed about Jews, who was the foremost figure in an ideology at odds with literally every single saying attributed to Jesus and who noted that Jesus as a Jew could possibly be a Christian only shows how their own ideology depends on lying because the truth just can't be made to service it.

    Jeffrey Tayler is a cesspool, Salon is a sewer which very occasionally has some people who shouldn't appear there writing for it. It is the very model of what Rita Skeeter said, it exists to sell itself. Its model of choosing an outrage of the week or fortnight and posting dozens of pieces about it so that people can marinate in their two week hate really does remind me of 1984. The real thing with Reagan and Thatcher as well as the prophetic book. Their model isn't I. F. Stone or some other journalism hero, it's cabloid TV and hate talk radio.

  3. You might be interested in the following from Sunday's NYT:

    It addresses the contention that empirical confirmation can somehow be waived for certain kinds of assertion, especially in cosmology. This author denies its legitimacy (as would I). What's interesting is that what we seem to be getting into, if this isn't traditional science, nor traditional philosophy, is a sort of mathematics-based speculation, which is judged by elegance and explanatory power, not empirical confirmation.

    1. I've called it replacing science with science fiction written in equations.

      I have also come to the conclusion that it's only one of a host of attempts to change the rules of empirical validation, a lot of the ideas that are based on natural selection , evolutionary psychology, of course, being one, would require going back in time and observing organisms and counting their offspring. It would require discerning behaviors that are real "things" and those things being the product of genetic action. Of course they can't do that for living organisms reliably. Interestingly, when you read The Descent of Man, through out the book Darwin is forever claiming that the carriers of dysgenic traits are too successful at reproducing, his use of a quote from a wealthy bigot about the reproductive rates of the Irish vs. the Scots makes no sense at all if he thought natural selection was relevant to the situation.

      But I can go on about that. It's also remarkable that almost all of the scientists determined to get an exemption from the requirement for empirical validation are atheists. In reading the article, I wonder why it's a valid scientific idea that there is a need to get by the "fine tuning" argument except to promote atheism as opposed to those who use such facts as persuasion about the existence of God. But as some have pointed out, an infinitely large multiverse system may well require an even more stupendously finely tuned system which would probably just be more convincing to more people. So, ha, ha, jokes on them.

    2. To be fair, Einstein started it.

      I seem to recall there were experiments being conducted as recently as a few decades ago, to confirm the General Theory.

      And then Einstein started quantum mechanics by deciding light was a wave and a particle. Or so I heard, recently (all assertions subject to correction).

      So maybe everyone wants to be Einstein, now. Still, both relativity and quantum physics gave us real world operations (not just the Bomb). I'm not sure the multiplicity of universes can ever be established; at least no more firmly than that the God of Abraham is the Creator of the Universe.

      But hey, some things we can take on faith, right?

    3. I think the motives for the invention of multi-universe theory is quite obvious, the atheists hated that so many people were persuaded that the incredible comsequences of the fine tuning of constants on which everything we know, including our bodies in this universe depend on was more than a bit suggestive of God and design in the universe. I think Sheldrake quoted Martin Rees to that effect one day when they were having lunch together. It's remarkable for a guy who is considered a pseudo-scientist by the neo-atheists is on close and friendly terms with a large number of very eminent scientists. But they probably go on what the hijacked Wikipedia page about him says. It's remarkable what a bunch of liars the "reality community" are

    4. I vaguely remember an anecdote about a famous astronomer (Dyson?) who was really pissed/perplexed with LeMaitre for getting his science right while still being a devout Christian.

      For the astronomer, this was irreconcilable. Then again, I find so many people who want to keep religion at the "Sunday School" level, the better to ignore it (and so ignore much of life, in the bargain. Too often Thoreau's "Simplify, simplify, simplify' becomes "reductio, reductio, reductio.")