Why I’m Not Necessarily a Materialist

What materialists take on faith is too reductive.  The abuse of Occam’s Razor is problematic on a philosophical and practical level.  And if it doesn’t work out in the mundane why should I assume it does in matters of “ultimate concern?”

Andy Newberg lays out the scientific philosophical issues:

Occam’s Razor tells us not to assume more than what is needed to explain something. But this of course is an assumption and one that places substantial importance upon the word, “necessity.” After all, there is a grand assumption as to what actually constitutes necessity in the context of trying to explain something. This is particularly the case when considering the existence of God. For example, many religious individuals cannot conceive of a universe without God. For them, God is absolutely necessary. A scientist might argue that physical laws explain the phenomena that make up the universe, and, therefore, God is not necessary. For one person, what constitutes necessity is completely different than for another person.

There are even broader problems with the notion of necessity when one considers the “why questions” that may be outside the purview of science. Take the law of gravity mentioned above. Science can explain how gravity works between two objects, but why should it be based on the exact equations we find rather than others? In fact, why should gravity exist at all? Answering the “why” questions sometimes stretches necessity to its limits. For example, many cosmologists are now entertaining the hypothesis that the universe is actually a multiverse with an infinite number of possible universes, some of which have gravity while others do not. These cosmologists have argued that there is an absolute necessity to have an infinite number of possible universes in order to explain why our universe is the way that it is. They argue that if there is an infinite number of universes, then one of them, by pure chance, would have gravity and all of the other laws of nature exactly as they are. But if we apply Occam’s Razor, is it more likely that there is an infinite multitude of universes that we can never measure, or is it more likely that there is a God that we can never measure? Which answer satisfies necessity?

Andrew B. Newberg. Principles of Neurotheology (Ashgate Science and Religion Series) (Kindle Locations 1195-1205). Kindle Edition.

Why I’m not an Atheist

(Version 3.0)

I decided to write about this because it makes Twitter much less of a burden. It’s too imprecise to express real ideas on a micro-blogging service more amenable to smart ass comments than smart ones, so I do so here. I borrowed heavily from John F. Haught’s book God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. Great read. He summarizes my intellectual critique of The New Atheism or as I like to call it, The Church of No-God, quite nicely. Generally when I use the word “atheist” in this post, I’m referring to this group.

Let me make clear that this post is not written to make the case that atheists should be believers nor is it an attempt to denigrate them, their personal beliefs (unbeliefs?), or choices in life. It is neither an apologetic for my spirituality nor an attempt at evangelism. I’m writing to explain why atheism has proven problematic for me, nothing more, nothing less. Take it or leave it.

Finally, this post has been edited multiple times as my discussions with saner, less ideological atheist tweeples and further reading have informed my thinking.

For several reasons atheism for me is not, as William James put it, “a living option“:

  • I can’t with integrity subscribe to a professed rational philosophy that is based on a self-refuting principle, i.e. the Verification Principle.
  • I have never believed religion and science are enemies or even incompatible. Even as a child, I saw their easy compatibility and complementary natures. Militant atheists aren’t going to fare any better than strongly opinionated believers/science deniers.
  • I strive for consistency in my beliefs. Being an atheist would require I subscribe to moral nihilism: the logical result of “facing up to reality” or “growing up” to face of an indifferent universe devoid of meaning. I can’t abide by that because it produces evil.
  • Finally, atheism is unable to give me meaning in life. Science and reason alone are painfully inadequate for assessing the important things in life and of being human: Love, Justice, Wisdom, Knowledge, and Truth. Avoiding error at all costs just isn’t worth that sacrifice.

If you care for an explanation, please, read on.

Continue reading