Materialism – what is it good for? To give it its due, it’s a very useful paradigm to adopt if one wants to conduct an experiment in any of the physical sciences. The monkey who first realised that fire could be started from the friction of a hard wood on a soft one derived an enormous advantage over the monkeys who were still doing dances to try to please the lightning gods.
More recently, materialist science such as physics and chemistry led to Anglo-American dominance of the sea trade routes, as the adoption of first coal, then oil, then uranium allowed these powers to keep a naval force in operation that was orders of magnitude more powerful than what was possible under sail. Mastery of these sciences also allowed these same powers a decisive military advantage in terms of weaponry.
All well and good – but what is materialism bad for? Many, many, many things. Unfortunately, materialism has strengthened beyond being a mere scientific approach. It’s not even a worldview anymore. In our blind 21st century, materialism must be accorded the status of a legitimate religion. This has had profound effects on the political, scientific and intellectual discourse of all nations.
Like any dominant religion, the presuppositions of materialism can no longer be questioned in polite society. It’s possible to talk about “the” biological basis of consciousness as if it were already an established fact that consciousness has a biological basis. Asking how it is that it’s known that consciousness has a biological basis elicits, in materialist circles, a similar response to going into a church and demanding the priest prove his contention that the Bible is the Word of God.
It’s just not the done thing.
And so it’s possible for one of the world’s most prominent intellectuals, Sam Harris, to discuss consciousness with a supposed expert on the subject for over an hour without either of them questioning the dogma of the “biological basis of consciousness”. That the brain generates consciousness and not the other way around is assumed from the beginning, and all subsequent data has to be shoehorned into this framework or discarded.
Ironically, the podcast mentions that consciousness had hitherto been the purview of philosophers, in a passage exclaiming how good it was that other disciplines are now considering it. The reason why this had been the case is now obvious – because physicists, chemists and neurobiologists are incapable of the logical reasoning necessary to truly consider the question. This logical failure leads to errors like assuming right off the bat that the brain generates consciousness, the type of error that philosophers generally don’t make.
Listening to a supposed expert in neuroscience ramble on about the biological substrates of consciousness is every bit as depressing as listening to some old priest ramble on about whether or not we’re allowed to drink wine on Sundays. Both charades are dependent on one gimmick: take for granted the biological basis of consciousness and we can explain everything (says the neuroscientist), take for granted the eternal truth of the Bible and we can explain everything (says the theologian).
The worst part of it is that – just like Abrahamism, Nazism, Communism and Marxism – materialism has also rotted the minds of the people who have come to believe in it. Like a cancer, it has given rise to a number of bad things, all of them ultimately caused by the belief of materialist individuals that the death of their brain inevitably means the extinguishing of their consciousness.
Materialists are generally indifferent to the condition of the world after they die. Let’s just rape it now is their motto. After all, if their consciousness is extinguished upon the death of the brain, there is no logical reason to act in a manner custodial to the life that comes after you. There won’t be any way it affects you, so why bother?
Materialists are also easily manipulated by death anxiety. People who know that the consciousness survives the death of the physical body can laugh in the face of death, because they know that death will not occasion a traumatically significant change from the state of existence that pertained before death.
This latter point is why materialist cultures like the British fight wars all over the world while non-materialist ones such as the Indians do not. A Brit can easily be terrified into doing what you tell him because of the fear of invasion or economic disaster or God’s judgment or some other catastrophe; the Indian will just laugh.
For Western culture to survive, we have to cast off the spiritual sickness that we inherited even as we assumed scientific and military dominance. We have to move past materialism and the ludicrous contortions of reasoning that it forces people to undergo.
Psychedelic drugs and meditation are the cures for the memetic cancer that has been growing in the West for a few centuries.
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