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Almagest

In Defence of Materialism

34 posts in this topic

Well, this is the topic that I find is keeping me up this morning, so I figured it might be a good idea to get some of my thoughts down in writing. I am going to have to preface this post with a couple of key points:

  1. By materialism I mean the idea that; "All phenomenon can be reduced to a material cause", material in this sense means relating to matter, energy and the physical forces that act on both, and the emergent phenomenon that arise from these.
  2. This is opposed to spiritualism which states that "certain phenomenon cannot be described in purely material terms" and usually introduces some concept of a soul to explain consciousness, love, art and free will.

Now I wouldn't classify myself as a pure materialist exactly. Lines become very blurred at the sub-atomic level, where Quantum Mechanics deals with fields, waves and probabilities as opposed to distinct bits of matter.

What does the materialist world view tell us?

Problems with material causes have material solutions

The best example of this is modern medicine, where disease is caused either by outside agents, genetic mutation or mental dysfunction. Smallpox was with us for three thousand years and all the prayer and magic in the world couldn't stop it. Enter the 19th century and the emergence of the Smallpox vaccine and a virus that had been plaguing humanity for three millennia went extinct in a little over a century.

Another example is poverty. All the political condescension in the world hasn't done a thing to alleviate poverty. The emergence of better systems of economics, which allow more wealth to flow through more hands has had an effect, in essence by changing the material conditions of a society. Look to the poorest countries in the world and you will see two things - appalling conditions for workers and the subjugation of women. Two material solutions we can introduce is improving the conditions in which workers live and work, and by emancipating women and granting them reproductive rights. Both things have a measurable effect on society

A human life is valuable because it is a unique and temporary manifestation of genes, thoughts, feelings and experiences.

A common objection I see to materialism is that it devalues human life. I'd counter by asking why exactly a person needs an immortal ghost in the machine in order to have value? It is possible that your complete genetic code could be formed again, after all there are a finite number of genetic codes, but that person is still unique due to the different conditions they experience in life. This provides every life with an innate value, even more so because we are all mortal. It implores you to make the most of this life because it's the only one you have. You might have an eternity to build up the courage to talk to that person you fancy in the afterlife, but you certainly don't in the here and now.

Humanity can only be redeemed by the actions of humans.

I know the idea of a Universe without someone keeping score is frightening, but ultimately we're responsible to one another. Sure, it does mean that sometimes war criminals escape justice and die peacefully in their beds. That should be a call to us all to be more vigilant in bringing those people to justice. And it also means that some of the best people in the world die forgotten and unrecognised, but that is a call to us to recognise goodness in people and reward it while we can.

I think we can all agree that we have a lot to redeem ourselves over. The 20th century alone makes most of us want to hang our heads in shame. But that stain cannot be removed by simply saying "I believe in the human sacrifice of Christ" or "I believe in the revelation to Mohammed". We have to work our butts off to prevent the world from returning to that level of barbarism.

Anyway, there's a bunch of my thoughts on the matter, I'd be interested in hearing what other people have to say. :)

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I'm with you as far as favoring materialism as the current best explanation for the way things are. I guess you touch on two different possible 'defenses' of materialism though: 1) is materialism a good explanation for reality, as opposed to 2) what are the implications of materialism on our subjective valuations of things and are they negative or undesirable. I agree that, "a common objection I see to materialism is that it devalues human life", but that is obviously irrelevant to the question of whether or not materialism is true; the truth doesn't care what we want to be the case. I think materialism can be defended concerning both those questions, but not sure which of those, or both, you were intending to defend.

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Well, this is the topic that I find is keeping me up this morning, so I figured it might be a good idea to get some of my thoughts down in writing. I am going to have to preface this post with a couple of key points:

  1. By materialism I mean the idea that; "All phenomenon can be reduced to a material cause", material in this sense means relating to matter, energy and the physical forces that act on both, and the emergent phenomenon that arise from these.
  2. This is opposed to spiritualism which states that "certain phenomenon cannot be described in purely material terms" and usually introduces some concept of a soul to explain consciousness, love, art and free will.

Now I wouldn't classify myself as a pure materialist exactly. Lines become very blurred at the sub-atomic level, where Quantum Mechanics deals with fields, waves and probabilities as opposed to distinct bits of matter.

What does the materialist world view tell us?

Problems with material causes have material solutions

The best example of this is modern medicine, where disease is caused either by outside agents, genetic mutation or mental dysfunction. Smallpox was with us for three thousand years and all the prayer and magic in the world couldn't stop it. Enter the 19th century and the emergence of the Smallpox vaccine and a virus that had been plaguing humanity for three millennia went extinct in a little over a century.

Another example is poverty. All the political condescension in the world hasn't done a thing to alleviate poverty. The emergence of better systems of economics, which allow more wealth to flow through more hands has had an effect, in essence by changing the material conditions of a society. Look to the poorest countries in the world and you will see two things - appalling conditions for workers and the subjugation of women. Two material solutions we can introduce is improving the conditions in which workers live and work, and by emancipating women and granting them reproductive rights. Both things have a measurable effect on society

A human life is valuable because it is a unique and temporary manifestation of genes, thoughts, feelings and experiences.

A common objection I see to materialism is that it devalues human life. I'd counter by asking why exactly a person needs an immortal ghost in the machine in order to have value? It is possible that your complete genetic code could be formed again, after all there are a finite number of genetic codes, but that person is still unique due to the different conditions they experience in life. This provides every life with an innate value, even more so because we are all mortal. It implores you to make the most of this life because it's the only one you have. You might have an eternity to build up the courage to talk to that person you fancy in the afterlife, but you certainly don't in the here and now.

Humanity can only be redeemed by the actions of humans.

I know the idea of a Universe without someone keeping score is frightening, but ultimately we're responsible to one another. Sure, it does mean that sometimes war criminals escape justice and die peacefully in their beds. That should be a call to us all to be more vigilant in bringing those people to justice. And it also means that some of the best people in the world die forgotten and unrecognised, but that is a call to us to recognise goodness in people and reward it while we can.

I think we can all agree that we have a lot to redeem ourselves over. The 20th century alone makes most of us want to hang our heads in shame. But that stain cannot be removed by simply saying "I believe in the human sacrifice of Christ" or "I believe in the revelation to Mohammed". We have to work our butts off to prevent the world from returning to that level of barbarism.

Anyway, there's a bunch of my thoughts on the matter, I'd be interested in hearing what other people have to say. :)

I'm glad you recognized that the depth of nature has moved pretty much beyond the basic Idea of materialism. That's saves a lot of arguing the finer points of QM which nobody has quit right, or knows what's happening in the substrate.

My argument would be that it's not a matter of what it ought to be or even what us useful. It's a matter of what is.

We don't know the depths of reality all we can do is make attempts at likely hoods based on what we do know. Simple facts like subatomic particles don't actually exist until they are needed are strange and seemingly intelligent in behavior.

Then to actually break down the anthropic principle you need far more entities than you can even imagine.

There are tons if other arguments, but it boils down to what actually is. Ultimately if there is a spiritual existence it's the underwater part of the iceberg. There is no doubt in my mind that this substrate exists, but the question becomes how integrated are we into it?, can we interact on subtle levels? Are there effects above the water?

I disagree with you. I don't think spiritual people are any better than non, but a materialist is not going to be the person to sacrifice his life for the good of the world. All the great people of history that really truly made changes for mankind for the better were all spiritually minded. I don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people. Gandhi, Martin Luther king,.... From ending slavery to taking dents out of hunger. the moves that we want to make are always accomplished by people drawing circles around themselves that draw them because a spiritual mind.

I can't think of one single person that has made any real impact in the world in the right direction that had purely a materialistic mindset. Even our best scientists who were this way still were motivated by person prestige and competition. They write about the process all the time. Then their wondrous discoveries are not always used to actually make mankind better. Only those who can afford it.

I could probably make a pretty good economic argument using utility and opportunity cost arguments that the materialist mind is incapable on average of making those things you mentioned into realities. Indeed from a materialist perspective the spiritual mind is probably an evolved trait that allows us to create the kind of cooperation and leadership on large scales that makes solving these problems a possibility. The materialist mind needs the proper incentives which ultimately creates the kind of world we have now. I could probably show this graphically logically demonstrating with marginal utility that the materialist mind will fall short. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the spiritual mind is not self serving either. In fact when you are calculating under pure utility and economic principals the person trying to save the world is more self serving than everyone else. The difference of course is where and how you derive your utility. The spiritual person derives it from spiritual fulfillment while the materialist derives it from .... Well. A materialist world is always going to be one of exploitation. Even the best attempts at scientifically creating the best system is seething full the very problems its aware of and seeks to mitigate.

Edited by White Crane Feather

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I don't get the last bit of your post. I am a pure spiritual type of fellow, i wish i believed in matter a bit. But here.

Humanity can only be redeemed by the actions of humans.

I know the idea of a Universe without someone keeping score is frightening, but ultimately we're responsible to one another. Sure, it does mean that sometimes war criminals escape justice and die peacefully in their beds. That should be a call to us all to be more vigilant in bringing those people to justice. And it also means that some of the best people in the world die forgotten and unrecognized, but that is a call to us to recognize goodness in people and reward it while we can.

I think we can all agree that we have a lot to redeem ourselves over. The 20th century alone makes most of us want to hang our heads in shame. But that stain cannot be removed by simply saying "I believe in the human sacrifice of Christ" or "I believe in the revelation to Mohammed". We have to work our butts off to prevent the world from returning to that level of barbarism.

I don't understand this? If you die and go into the dirt, what is redemption? If you are talking pure materialism there should be no need for redemption. Are you saying respect from your peers during life. Because in that model there should be no judge to redeem or even cast any judgement over how you lived. Barbarism is just a state you like or don't like and work for or against. You really have only states of comfort or discomfort. If there is some moral code you adhere to that will just create comfort or discomfort.

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I disagree with you. I don't think spiritual people are any better than non, but a materialist is not going to be the person to sacrifice his life for the good of the world. All the great people of history that really truly made changes for mankind for the better were all spiritually minded. I don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people. Gandhi, Martin Luther king,.... From ending slavery to taking dents out of hunger. the moves that we want to make are always accomplished by people drawing circles around themselves that draw them because a spiritual mind.

I can't think of one single person that has made any real impact in the world in the right direction that had purely a materialistic mindset. Even our best scientists who were this way still were motivated by person prestige and competition. They write about the process all the time. Then their wondrous discoveries are not always used to actually make mankind better. Only those who can afford it.

I could probably make a pretty good economic argument using utility and opportunity cost arguments that the materialist mind is incapable on average of making those things you mentioned into realities. Indeed from a materialist perspective the spiritual mind is probably an evolved trait that allows us to create the kind of cooperation and leadership on large scales that makes solving these problems a possibility. The materialist mind needs the proper incentives which ultimately creates the kind of world we have now. I could probably show this graphically logically demonstrating with marginal utility that the materialist mind will fall short. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the spiritual mind is not self serving either. In fact when you are calculating under pure utility and economic principals the person trying to save the world is more self serving than everyone else. The difference of course is where and how you derive your utility. The spiritual person derives it from spiritual fulfillment while the materialist derives it from .... Well. A materialist world is always going to be one of exploitation. Even the best attempts at scientifically creating the best system is seething full the very problems its aware of and seeks to mitigate.

You seem to have a very different definition of 'materialism' than I do, it doesn't mean robotic, nor exploitation, and you seem just be arbitrarily labelling everything that is good, 'spiritual'. Believe it or not, prestige, competition, and just plain empathy are not unique to only non-materialistic philosophies.

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I don't understand this? If you die and go into the dirt, what is redemption? If you are talking pure materialism there should be no need for redemption. Are you saying respect from your peers during life. Because in that model there should be no judge to redeem or even cast any judgement over how you lived. Barbarism is just a state you like or don't like and work for or against. You really have only states of comfort or discomfort. If there is some moral code you adhere to that will just create comfort or discomfort.

When the only redemption we'll find is in the eyes of our peers it is very important. Provided we don't end the human experiment by wiping ourselves out people in the future will look at us and judge what we did to make the world a better place - and what we did to make it a worse place. We look back and judge the abolitionists better than the slave owners, we judge the democrats better than the despots, we judge the civil rights proponents better than the civil rights opponents. We owe a lot to those people, whether we're conscious of it on a day to day basis. What better judgement could we earn from our descendants than being those who overcame the worst aspects of our humanity?

What better basis is there for a moral code than alleviating unnecessary suffering? Today on this planet we have people suffering from sexism, racism, homophobia and poverty. These are things that we should strive to overcome so that our brothers and sisters are not suffering unnecessarily.

I'm glad you recognized that the depth of nature has moved pretty much beyond the basic Idea of materialism. That's saves a lot of arguing the finer points of QM which nobody has quit right, or knows what's happening in the substrate.

My argument would be that it's not a matter of what it ought to be or even what us useful. It's a matter of what is.

We don't know the depths of reality all we can do is make attempts at likely hoods based on what we do know. Simple facts like subatomic particles don't actually exist until they are needed are strange and seemingly intelligent in behavior.

Then to actually break down the anthropic principle you need far more entities than you can even imagine.

That's a misconception. If these particles didn't actually exist there'd be no Universe. Even virtual particles exist - although they do so on a time scale so small that we can't observe them. And although it's better to think of electrons as existing in a shell around an atom that doesn't mean they don't exist, either.

There are tons if other arguments, but it boils down to what actually is. Ultimately if there is a spiritual existence it's the underwater part of the iceberg. There is no doubt in my mind that this substrate exists, but the question becomes how integrated are we into it?, can we interact on subtle levels? Are there effects above the water?

I disagree with you. I don't think spiritual people are any better than non, but a materialist is not going to be the person to sacrifice his life for the good of the world. All the great people of history that really truly made changes for mankind for the better were all spiritually minded. I don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people. Gandhi, Martin Luther king,.... From ending slavery to taking dents out of hunger. the moves that we want to make are always accomplished by people drawing circles around themselves that draw them because a spiritual mind.

I can't think of one single person that has made any real impact in the world in the right direction that had purely a materialistic mindset. Even our best scientists who were this way still were motivated by person prestige and competition. They write about the process all the time. Then their wondrous discoveries are not always used to actually make mankind better. Only those who can afford it.

I'll give you two examples - George Orwell and Norman Borlaug. Orwell was one of many materialistically minded socialists who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War against fascism. Many of them laid down their lives without promise of an afterlife in order to fight for what they saw as better material conditions for their Spanish comrades. Orwell returned incredibly jaded by Communism, and wrote the greatest take-down of Stalin - Animal Farm - and the most relevant political novel of the 20th century - Nineteen Eighty-Four. He needed no spiritual incentive to do so, he simply saw the suffering and exploitation of the workers and strove against it.

Norman Borlaug on the other hand gets my vote as the Greatest Human Ever. When he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 they said that his work had fed a billion people. I've been unable to find a single reference to his religion or spirituality. He simply saw the effects of starvation on people and decided to put his scientific knowledge to work to alleviate it.

I could probably make a pretty good economic argument using utility and opportunity cost arguments that the materialist mind is incapable on average of making those things you mentioned into realities. Indeed from a materialist perspective the spiritual mind is probably an evolved trait that allows us to create the kind of cooperation and leadership on large scales that makes solving these problems a possibility. The materialist mind needs the proper incentives which ultimately creates the kind of world we have now. I could probably show this graphically logically demonstrating with marginal utility that the materialist mind will fall short. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the spiritual mind is not self serving either. In fact when you are calculating under pure utility and economic principals the person trying to save the world is more self serving than everyone else. The difference of course is where and how you derive your utility. The spiritual person derives it from spiritual fulfillment while the materialist derives it from .... Well. A materialist world is always going to be one of exploitation. Even the best attempts at scientifically creating the best system is seething full the very problems its aware of and seeks to mitigate.

I strongly disagree. There doesn't have to be anything spiritual in our feelings of empathy and solidarity. These are traits that evolved for a very good reason - to ensure that we protect those who share our genes. As far as incentives go, I think it's universally true of humans that they are more likely to act in their own interest than against it, regardless of their philosophical standpoint. A lot of spiritually minded people are motivated by doing right by God - as you said Gandhi and MLK - but that is a selfish motivation if one believes in an afterlife. I don't disqualify it as a motivation though, I think it can be a good motivation regardless of whether it's based on truth or not. Materialists are also capable of feeling spiritual, they'd only argue that it's all a product of brain chemistry. Personally I get my fix of spiritual feeling by star-gazing. But when it comes to the suffering of my fellow humans it doesn't give me a spiritual response, it gives me an empathetic one.

As for a scientifically based society, well we can't base it on lab experiments and theories. But we can base it on empiricism. We can look at what prosperous societies have done right and strive towards that. There are a couple of clear lessons we can learn from the twentieth century;

  • It is not worth trampling on human rights in order to force social change. The treatment of the nobility and the religious during the Communist revolutions is a good example of that. Sure entrenched nobility and organised religion played a massive part in subjecting the common human to exploitation, but those institutions were themselves composed of people, a lot of whom were born into it without the wider context of human experience that insulated them from that exploitation. These are people targeted due to an accident of their birth.
  • Any ruling party that becomes an echo chamber is dangerous to human prosperity. It is a hallmark of every dictatorship that those closest to him didn't question their will, lest they wind up the victim of a purge. To me that supports the notion that a democratic system based on dialogue, where all concerns can be heard, produces better societies.

Thanks for the response, it gave me a lot to think about. :)

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You seem to have a very different definition of 'materialism' than I do, it doesn't mean robotic, nor exploitation, and you seem just be arbitrarily labelling everything that is good, 'spiritual'. Believe it or not, prestige, competition, and just plain empathy are not unique to only non-materialistic philosophies.

Not at all. I am saying that the people with enough follow through to give them selves wholly to a cause and actually accomplish great things PROBABLY will not come from a person prescribing to materialistic philosophy. People with deep and powerful spiritual beliefs are more likely to draw a larger circle. I'm not trying to put anyone down its just an observation. Show me a non spiritual Gandhi or Martin Luther king Jr.

This might be a simple fact that there are a much greater numbers of spiritual people, but I doubt it. The utility from accomplishing something like fits more with spiritual philosophy than materialistic. It's like a bell curve. There simply is a greater potential for people in the very end of the spectrum that are spiritual. That dosnt mean one is Better than the other just different. People of African decent have a greater genetic diversity. The tallest, smartest, most endowed ;) human being is most likely to be black, but also more likely to be the shortest, dumbest and.... This why most basket ball players are black. Not because black people make better basket ball players, but because they have more genetic diversity, the same thing with runners and other sports or places where the extreme range of humanity excels.

An emotional argument that I'm picking in materialists seems sort of ironic dosnt it? I would expect one with... Well you know... More material. ;)

Edited by White Crane Feather

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That's good stuff there Almagest.... I don't really have the energy or place to argue much with it. I will say this though, scientists and writers don't get my vote for greatness for the changes that they cause. Not that I don't think it's awesome. But greatness requires life long constant pursuit of the higher ideal. A scientist is really just doing what he loves and a writer is using leverage.

I reject the idea that spiritual people are just trying to please god. Certainly those people exist. But Id put money down that the majority of people don't choose a god for a benefit, if bet they choose because they think they are doing the right thing. When I was Christian I did it because I wanted to be a good person, heaven or favors did not have a much to do with it. I know a lot of spiritual Catholics as well. They love their god because they are convinced its the right thing to do and their god will make them a better person. This is something a materials probably can't understand, because I have heard that same straw man countless times.

Oh about QM... It's not a misconception, but getting into it will require a whole thread I'd imagine. But I'd say its a misconception that its a misconception ;)

Edited by White Crane Feather

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That's good stuff there Almagest.... I don't really have the energy or place to argue much with it. I will say this though, scientists and writers don't get my vote for greatness for the changes that they cause. Not that I don't think it's awesome. But greatness requires life long constant pursuit of the higher ideal. A scientist is really just doing what he loves and a writer is using leverage.

I'd argue that both Orwell and Borlaug were pursuing higher ideals. The former was Democratic Socialism and the latter was ending hunger. They're certainly higher ideals because they transcend the wants and needs of individuals.

I reject the idea that spiritual people are just trying to please god. Certainly those people exist. But Id put money down that the majority of people don't choose a god for a benefit, if bet they choose because they think they are doing the right thing. When I was Christian I did it because I wanted to be a good person, heaven or favors did not have a much to do with it. I know a lot of spiritual Catholics as well. They love their god because they are convinced its the right thing to do and their god will make them a better person. This is something a materials probably can't understand, because I have heard that same straw man countless times.

I'd say it was more of a generalization than a straw man, I certainly didn't intend it to be. It's almost impossible to avoid generalizations when dealing with people. You have to understand that the drive to be a good person isn't reliant on supernatural elements. I'd argue that humanism can be an equal drive to do good - I generally love my fellow human being and I'm convinced that I must do right by them.

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I'd argue that both Orwell and Borlaug were pursuing higher ideals. The former was Democratic Socialism and the latter was ending hunger. They're certainly higher ideals because they transcend the wants and needs of individuals.

I'd say it was more of a generalization than a straw man, I certainly didn't intend it to be. It's almost impossible to avoid generalizations when dealing with people. You have to understand that the drive to be a good person isn't reliant on supernatural elements. I'd argue that humanism can be an equal drive to do good - I generally love my fellow human being and I'm convinced that I must do right by them.

I don't doubt that.

But when it comes to true change and greatness, ill believe it when I see it. I simply cannot reconcile the materialistic premise with great acts of self sacrifice and altruism outside of ones immediate circle. Of course I'm aware that this may be my shortcoming, but I understand how the materialist premise is built. I know cold logic and cold materialistic reality. A materialist must build their doctrine on these things if they are going to be honest with themselves. I have a degree in economics, the best fit, empirically, to get the best for everyone is capitalism. It can be shown through empirical work and mathematics. Human behavior is human behavior, we are a product of pure brain chemistry. Sure some materialists will get passed this, but the recognition of only the material paints a very grim picture for humanity.

It's also, in my opinion, simply incorrect. A pursuit of truth allows an incredible amount of room for a probable reality of vast consciousness and spirituality. Despite the dogmas of materialism there are those of us who know better, and we reject the marginalization of the individual.

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From my own life experience, it really helps to have materialistic worldview from a pragmatic point.

Basing your worldview on supernatural belief will, eventually, take a toll and you will feel the burn. Trust me, I was there.

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From my own life experience, it really helps to have materialistic worldview from a pragmatic point.

Basing your worldview on supernatural belief will, eventually, take a toll and you will feel the burn. Trust me, I was there.

That's good then, since I don't base my worldview on beliefs ;)

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To put it simply I think Mankind can learn the greatest lessons from Nature it's self, and the balance it attains.

Is prosperity such a great thing when desire is not kept in check?

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I don't think spiritual people are any better than non, but a materialist is not going to be the person to sacrifice his life for the good of the world.

This is an obvous contradiction and brings into question the validity of your argument.

The latter part of the sentence is also nothing more than subjective opinion, not in any way based in fact. It is the equivalent of "religious thinking". Altruism is not a religious/spiritual concept.

I don't get the last bit of your post. I am a pure spiritual type of fellow, i wish i believed in matter a bit. But here.

Humanity can only be redeemed by the actions of humans.

I know the idea of a Universe without someone keeping score is frightening, but ultimately we're responsible to one another. Sure, it does mean that sometimes war criminals escape justice and die peacefully in their beds. That should be a call to us all to be more vigilant in bringing those people to justice. And it also means that some of the best people in the world die forgotten and unrecognized, but that is a call to us to recognize goodness in people and reward it while we can.

I think we can all agree that we have a lot to redeem ourselves over. The 20th century alone makes most of us want to hang our heads in shame. But that stain cannot be removed by simply saying "I believe in the human sacrifice of Christ" or "I believe in the revelation to Mohammed". We have to work our butts off to prevent the world from returning to that level of barbarism.

I don't understand this? If you die and go into the dirt, what is redemption? If you are talking pure materialism there should be no need for redemption. Are you saying respect from your peers during life. Because in that model there should be no judge to redeem or even cast any judgement over how you lived. Barbarism is just a state you like or don't like and work for or against. You really have only states of comfort or discomfort. If there is some moral code you adhere to that will just create comfort or discomfort.

In a materialist world-view the only "redemption" worth seeking is self-satisfaction. Now, this is not as selfish as it may sound because "self-satisfaction" can be gained from any action - including altruistic ones.

Paradoxically, this leads the materialist, in a material world, to hold close to certain non-materialist values.

Edited by Leonardo

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OP

I've been unable to find a single reference to his religion or spirituality.

Forgive me, just saying that left me with an urge to find out.

Lutheran (Evangelical L. Synod in America).

http://www.thelutheran.org/article/article.cfm?article_id=6764

http://www.bread.org/media/coverage/news/dignitaries-elca-pastor-to.html

His Nobel Lecture's extensive Biblical citations suggest that an interest in religion persisted throughout his life.

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1970/borlaug-lecture.html

Nice illustration that scientific and engineering achievement, even in biology, is at most loosely related to religious affiliation.

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Not at all. I am saying that the people with enough follow through to give them selves wholly to a cause and actually accomplish great things PROBABLY will not come from a person prescribing to materialistic philosophy. People with deep and powerful spiritual beliefs are more likely to draw a larger circle. I'm not trying to put anyone down its just an observation. Show me a non spiritual Gandhi or Martin Luther king Jr.

You'd have to first define 'spiritual' and you've given every indication that the definition is going to be cherry-picked since you among other things, "don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people." How convenient. How have you determined 'probably'?

This might be a simple fact that there are a much greater numbers of spiritual people, but I doubt it. The utility from accomplishing something like fits more with spiritual philosophy than materialistic.

Which might be partly because you have made your own seemingly mistaken conclusions about what materialist philosophy necessarily entails and the psychology of materialists, neither of which are really that well supported.

It's like a bell curve. There simply is a greater potential for people in the very end of the spectrum that are spiritual. That dosnt mean one is Better than the other just different. People of African decent have a greater genetic diversity. The tallest, smartest, most endowed ;) human being is most likely to be black, but also more likely to be the shortest, dumbest and.... This why most basket ball players are black. Not because black people make better basket ball players, but because they have more genetic diversity, the same thing with runners and other sports or places where the extreme range of humanity excels.

No, that is not the reason most basketball players are black. The physical differences (on average since biologically there isn't really any such meaningful thing as 'race') between the 'races' are minute and the far more likely explanation why there are more black basketball players is because you have more black kids and adults who are more interested in becoming basketball players and work harder at it, and some of these black people are not going to have the same opportunities as a white person with the same physical stats who may pursue other opportunities available to them. Unless you have some explanation why these genetic differences don't also result also in more black hockey players.

An emotional argument that I'm picking in materialists seems sort of ironic dosnt it? I would expect one with... Well you know... More material. ;)

There's only so much material to provide you when you are incorrect about 'materialist philosophy' right out of the gate. ;) It's not an emotional argument, what in my very short response indicates emotion to you? I just think you've constructed a strawman of materialists and materialism, that's all.

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You'd have to first define 'spiritual' and you've given every indication that the definition is going to be cherry-picked since you among other things, "don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people." How convenient. How have you determined 'probably'?

Which might be partly because you have made your own seemingly mistaken conclusions about what materialist philosophy necessarily entails and the psychology of materialists, neither of which are really that well supported.

No, that is not the reason most basketball players are black. The physical differences (on average since biologically there isn't really any such meaningful thing as 'race') between the 'races' are minute and the far more likely explanation why there are more black basketball players is because you have more black kids and adults who are more interested in becoming basketball players and work harder at it, and some of these black people are not going to have the same opportunities as a white person with the same physical stats who may pursue other opportunities available to them. Unless you have some explanation why these genetic differences don't also result also in more black hockey players.

There's only so much material to provide you when you are incorrect about 'materialist philosophy' right out of the gate. ;) It's not an emotional argument, what in my very short response indicates emotion to you? I just think you've constructed a strawman of materialists and materialism, that's all.

Ok...Im going to do this for a third time...but not now. This computer deleted it twice. Its driving me nuts. I like my iPhone better.

Edited by White Crane Feather

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Ok...Im going to do this for a third time...but not now. This computer deleted it twice. Its driving me nuts. I like my iPhone better.

Write, and save to Notepad.Then Copy/Paste to here.

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Ok...Im going to do this for a third time...but not now. This computer deleted it twice. Its driving me nuts. I like my iPhone better.

Wow, I've got to give you credit, I could never use an iphone to post here, would drive me crazy. If you are entering your comment through a browser, the UM commenting system does auto-save as you compose your comment; I've salvaged many accidentally deleted posts that way. The bottom of the window that you type your comment into will have a message at the bottom, 'View Auto Saved Content', and if you click on it it will show what it had auto-saved and give you the opportunity to restore it.

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Wow, I've got to give you credit, I could never use an iphone to post here, would drive me crazy. If you are entering your comment through a browser, the UM commenting system does auto-save as you compose your comment; I've salvaged many accidentally deleted posts that way. The bottom of the window that you type your comment into will have a message at the bottom, 'View Auto Saved Content', and if you click on it it will show what it had auto-saved and give you the opportunity to restore it.

Hmmm good advice. Thanks, ill explore that.

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Write, and save to Notepad.Then Copy/Paste to here.

I have done that before... I should do that more. It usually only warrants subjects in particularly pationate about it, but yes that is good advice aswell. Give me till tomorrow, I have classes until nine tonight, then dipers in the morning. Thursday is a good day for me... :)

Edited by White Crane Feather

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When the only redemption we'll find is in the eyes of our peers it is very important. Provided we don't end the human experiment by wiping ourselves out people in the future will look at us and judge what we did to make the world a better place - and what we did to make it a worse place. We look back and judge the abolitionists better than the slave owners, we judge the democrats better than the despots, we judge the civil rights proponents better than the civil rights opponents. We owe a lot to those people, whether we're conscious of it on a day to day basis. What better judgement could we earn from our descendants than being those who overcame the worst aspects of our humanity?

What better basis is there for a moral code than alleviating unnecessary suffering? Today on this planet we have people suffering from sexism, racism, homophobia and poverty. These are things that we should strive to overcome so that our brothers and sisters are not suffering unnecessarily.

These are made up, they are adherence to a social structure that has is often there to control you. To say on is better is bull****, its just a predominate way of thinking, growing to the point of pushing all other idea out of conjecture. Eighty years go Homosexuality was viewed as Homophobia is being seen today. This is group think telling you what ideas are ok and what are not. Look at whats happening to polygamy in the news today, subtle questioning articles saying hmm maybe its ok.

Its my belief the end goal of this isn't some grand moral society, but rather a society that accepts only acceptance. The person who says no to anything will be viewed as evil and shouted over.

Edited by travelnjones

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You'd have to first define 'spiritual' and you've given every indication that the definition is going to be cherry-picked since you among other things, "don't count religionists war mongers as spiritual people." How convenient. How have you determined 'probably'?

Which might be partly because you have made your own seemingly mistaken conclusions about what materialist philosophy necessarily entails and the psychology of materialists, neither of which are really that well supported.

No, that is not the reason most basketball players are black. The physical differences (on average since biologically there isn't really any such meaningful thing as 'race') between the 'races' are minute and the far more likely explanation why there are more black basketball players is because you have more black kids and adults who are more interested in becoming basketball players and work harder at it, and some of these black people are not going to have the same opportunities as a white person with the same physical stats who may pursue other opportunities available to them. Unless you have some explanation why these genetic differences don't also result also in more black hockey players.

There's only so much material to provide you when you are incorrect about 'materialist philosophy' right out of the gate. ;) It's not an emotional argument, what in my very short response indicates emotion to you? I just think you've constructed a strawman of materialists and materialism, that's all.

Religious war mongers etc etc... Are irrelevant. I'm not cherry picking, we are talking about those with altruistic qualities. The destructive force of religon is well known and a different subject.

I have determined probably by a simple logic base utility analysis. It's not that hard to see. Somone with truelly materialist. There are simply no incentives in a microeconomic sense for a materialist to draw their circles much larger than their imediate family and peers.

It is supported. I looked and looked, there is only one person ( bsides organizations) that has ever won a Nobel peace prize that did not have a spiritual belief. Nearly all the humanist or atheist non profit organizations are about ... You guessed it promoting secular humanism or atheism. Look for yourself. Look at every person who has ever won a Nobel peace prize.

It shouldn't be a surprise that spiritual people are more likely to be these kinds of people, and if you just look at the facts, its people with spiritual beliefs ( not necessarily religious) are the ones willing to go to the extremes to create material changes.

Your point is probably accurate about basket ball and hockey. But socioeconomic componant is irrelevant. It was just an example of bell curve activity and geneticly distributed traits. It is true however. People of African decent do have a greater distribution of genetic traits. Subgroups do obviously have differences.

Look materialist philosophy is not hard to understand. It's not even really a philosophy.... It's more like a premis. Materialist can take on any philosophy they want. I don't think a materialist mindset, has what it takes to produce people like ghandi et all. Proof is in who is actually doing these kinds of things. It's exceedingly rare that they are materialists or atheists, a simple test of being who has won the Nobel Peace prize. Yes it's not a scientific statistical analysis, I'm aware of the probkems. But if we are simply going to be factual its all we have, then we can be logical and look at the potential microeconomics.

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Religious war mongers etc etc... Are irrelevant. I'm not cherry picking, we are talking about those with altruistic qualities. The destructive force of religon is well known and a different subject.

Hi WCF. You're kinda doing what I was just talking about I think. You were contrasting spirituality and materialism, in that sense at the very least spirituality involves a spirit or a soul or an immaterial something; both the saints and religious war mongers meet that requirement. Now it's not that definition of spirituality (granting of course that 'spirituality' is used in a lot of different ways, some that don't even involve a literal 'spirit'), it instead either means just those who believe in a spirit and are altruistic, or spiritualism=altruism and you're contrasting materialism and altruism, which I don't think you are as there is no contrast well supported by evidence that I'm aware of. The concern of course is that when you go down the path of being inspecific about 'spirituality' you just end up being true by definition; I agree, materialists will continue to fail to be both altruistic and believe in a spirit.

There are simply no incentives in a microeconomic sense for a materialist to draw their circles much larger than their imediate family and peers.

You've used 'drawing circles' a few times and I don't know what you mean. Again, I think you are using a different definition of materialism. Why does a spiritual person in a microeconomic sense have incentives to 'draw their circles' larger than immediate family and peers? If I was to guess what you're getting at, I'd think you are saying there's no incentive essentially for materialists to be very charitable or care about strangers or something, which is false, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

It is supported. I looked and looked, there is only one person ( bsides organizations) that has ever won a Nobel peace prize that did not have a spiritual belief. Nearly all the humanist or atheist non profit organizations are about ... You guessed it promoting secular humanism or atheism. Look for yourself. Look at every person who has ever won a Nobel peace prize.

And now we're only selecting the Peace prize, Nobel does give out other prizes in the sciences also? How many of the science prizes were given to materialists? Your claim above was, "the people with enough follow through to give them selves wholly to a cause and actually accomplish great things PROBABLY will not come from a person prescribing to materialistic philosophy"; surely Nobel science prizes also require giving themselves wholly to a cause and is in itself an accomplishment of a great thing. Ha, of course atheistic organizations promote atheism, just like religious organizations promote religion. The atheists, especially in our country, are vastly outnumbered by the spiritual/religious, and you may have noticed that in some places atheists are not treated well to say the least, thus the need for organizations to promote atheism. There are religious organizations that are also charitable and there are non-religious organizations that are charitable.

Your point is probably accurate about basket ball and hockey.

I used to think exactly what you thought by default, that it is something genetic going on that explains the racial disparity in basketball, but once I heard someone attribute it to simple hard work and dedication it made far more sense.

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These are made up, they are adherence to a social structure that has is often there to control you. To say on is better is bull****, its just a predominate way of thinking, growing to the point of pushing all other idea out of conjecture. Eighty years go Homosexuality was viewed as Homophobia is being seen today. This is group think telling you what ideas are ok and what are not. Look at whats happening to polygamy in the news today, subtle questioning articles saying hmm maybe its ok.

Its my belief the end goal of this isn't some grand moral society, but rather a society that accepts only acceptance. The person who says no to anything will be viewed as evil and shouted over.

So too are all the religions on Earth. And it's very post-modern of you to say that we can't know which system is better, and I reject that notion outright. Look at all the countries in the world and see which ones are happiest, healthiest, wealthiest and freest(not sure if that's a word lol). They generally share several of these traits;

  • Freedom of the press
  • Freedom of Speech
  • A constitutional framework for government and the rule of law
  • Some level of transparency in government
  • Representative democracy, including an ability for minorities to bring their grievances to parliament/congress
  • Equal rights regardless of race and gender
  • Separation of Church and State, either through law or convention

Compare the western world with China where they lock up political dissidents. Or Russia where they're heading back towards the criminalization of homosexuality. Or Iran where they stone women for adultery. Are you truly going to say that we can't judge our societies to be better than theirs?

And if anyone is partaking in group think it's the homophobes. People have begun to question the foundations of denying equal rights to homosexuals and they're finding that those foundations are built on the sand. And what harm is there in discussing the issue? Surely if the opposition is so sure of their position no amount of questioning will undermine that?

And why shouldn't we discuss polygamy? After all, it's in the Bible, many cultures have had it in the past and Humans aren't as strictly monogamous as we're lead to believe. Personally my opinion is that so long as it goes both ways I don't have a problem with it. A man can have multiple wives so long as a woman can have multiple husbands and all parties involved are consenting.

No I don't think society is heading towards acceptance of all things because there are things a civilised person cannot accept. I don't accept people who say that homosexuality is an abomination, but the moment someone attempts to suppress their right to say such things I am on their side.

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