• Bret Bernhoft
    220
    I am a true atheist (as well as humanist and capitalist); someone who does not believe in or give legitimacy to the traditional concepts of gods. At the same time, I am not a materialist. Because I observe there is a happy medium between these two absolute extremes. Somewhere "a something", which is closer to the highest truths, can be unearthed, studied, understood and applied.

    More simply, reality is mind/mental. Which, if true, implies (among other things) that occult studies and supernatural phenomena are (however often suppressed, dismissed and misunderstood) quite normal, natural and decent. Generally speaking.

    From my perspective this philosophical intersection is completely reasonable, stable and wise; there is indeed a great deal of value to be found here. With more than enough for everyone.

    Extra Context

    It seems to me that both materialist atheists and every religious person on the planet, are at some degree of two ends of the same spectrum. I like to think that I am as close to the center of that polarity as I can discover. Because I have concluded it is rational to take seriously the experiences and expressions of both parties. As well as my own. And to then synthesize the truth out of that fusion of worldviews and qualia.

    If my benchmark for truth and wisdom actually is "efficacy", then I'm on the correct course. Pragmatism is not unreasonable.
  • Art48
    464
    I think "supernatural" is a vacuous term because we do not yet know the limits of the natural world.
    We can assume some phenomenon is beyond what is naturally possible, but we cannot know that is is.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220


    I completely agree with you. The word "supernatural" is vacuous. And misleading. But it is how the unfamiliar is labeled. So it is a useful label to use here, I think.
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    I prefer more descriptive terms like e.g. immaterial or disembodied or nonphysical or spiritual or magical ... to the umbrella term "supernatural".

    Btw, back in the day, my atheism had preceded my naturalism.
  • RogueAI
    2.6k
    More simply, reality is mind/mental.Bret Bernhoft

    Do you think this is all a dream?
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220


    More no, than yes. We certainly dream or hallucinate our realities to some extent. But freewill is real. So the ability to create change (anywhere, at will) is ultimately a matter of one's karma, awareness, discipline, desire and ability to "take the leap".

    Anything is possible, and you're both The Architect and Neo from The Matrix trilogy.

    We're inside of overlapping quasi-subliminal lucid dreams. Both collectively and individually.
  • RogueAI
    2.6k
    More no, than yes. We certainly dream or hallucinate our realities. But freewill is real. So the ability to create change anywhere is a matter of awareness.

    Anything is possible, and you're both The Architect and Neo from The Matrix trilogy.
    Bret Bernhoft

    I'm an idealist too, but I don't think it works as an explanation unless there is an overarching mind/minds keeping all this from being absolute chaos. How do two minds every agree on an aspect of reality unless there's some coordination of their thoughts going on? Why am I limited in what I can do in this reality? When I occasionally lucid dream, sometimes I can fly, but I can't when I'm awake. Some limiting factor that I'm not aware of prevents this. I think a lot is going on behind the scenes and whether it's our higher selves or we're part of a collective of minds or aspects of a powerful one-mind, whatever is pulling the strings might as well be god.
  • Angelo Cannata
    338
    It seems to me that all these positions have a mistake in common: they assume as a starting point, even if just hypothetical, some metaphisical views. Even when you say that reality is mental, you are still trying to orient yourself in a context of understanding how reality is. This is closely conneccted with our use of the verb "to be": whenever we use this verb, our language is implicitly conditioning our thoughts in a metaphysical way. If we analyze critically this phenomenon, we can notice that it is impossible to have any understanding about how things "are", because, when we try to do this we are trying to mirror, in our mind or in our thoughts, what and how reality is. But a mirror, just because it is a mirror, is never a faithful image of what we think is "reality". A mirror cannot even assume that reality exist, because this assumption implies a degree of correct understanding of reality, that actually is what it should give evidence of. Moreover, about all these things, we make use of logic, but logic is unable to found itself.
    In this context of failure of metaphysics, mirrors and logic, I think a better context is renouncing to proceed with metaphysics and using instead just humble attempts of interpretations. Interpretation is very similar to metaphysics, but it contains a better ability to remind us the subjectivity of what we think.
    Thinking about supernatural things, however we conceive them, contains a metaphisical mentality, that has not the humbleness of interpretation.
  • TheMadMan
    221

    I don't see direct relation between Atheist/Theist and materialist/non-materialist.
    Of course superficially they seem directly depended on each other but they are not.

    At this point not believing the image of god created by organized religions is a sign of a healthy unconditioned mind.
    Being materialist or non-materialist seems to me beyond the point of traditional religion.
    It starts at a deeper point in your inquiry into reality.

    Myself, I never believed in a god and never have been a materialist so when I read your post I was surprised that there was an argument needed to be made for it.
  • GRWelsh
    185
    I agree simply because atheism and materialism are not synonymous, even though many people treat these two positions as if they are. As an atheist, I'm not committed to the claim that everything in reality is reducible to the material or physical. I'm open to that possibility, but not committed to it. I'm an atheist because I'm not convinced anything that would be reasonably defined as a god exists. But I've always been agnostic about materialism or physicalism, because, honestly, I just don't know if all abstractions are reducible to purely physical causes and effects. I also think it's a mistake to conflate the abstract with the supernatural. It might be that abstractions have their own sort of existence that is independent of and not reducible to the physical, and yet that doesn't necessarily prove that anything supernatural exists. Abstractions could exist as part of natural reality. Let's take mathematics, for example -- I think a good argument can be made for them having their own abstract reality that isn't reducible to physicality. But that doesn't mean anything spiritual or supernatural exists.

    As a side note there can be and have been Christian materialists, and I believe Peter van Inwagen is an example of one.
  • Philosophim
    2.4k
    Well of course. Concluding something in one area does not mean you will conclude something in another area. Being an atheist doesn't make you any more intelligent or capable in reasoning, math, physics, language, etc. It just means you don't believe in a God.
  • Gnomon
    3.6k
    Somewhere "a something", which is closer to the highest truths, can be unearthed, studied, understood and applied.Bret Bernhoft
    I too, am an Atheist -- or technically an Agnostic -- but due to my philosophical explorations of "something" like Plato/Aristotle's First Cause/Prime Mover, I am often labelled a woo-monger. As you implied, Atheism & Theism are typically viewed in terms of polar opposites, with no in between. But I find plenty of room in the middle ground for philosophical probing without falling into the trap of Tribal Faith or Sophistic Scientism.
  • ItIsWhatItIs
    63
    Anything but theism is “irrational,” in the strictest meaning of the word. Logic’s a-priority highlights, & doesn’t, rather can’t, falsify, theism’s truth; & “it is what it is.”
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    completely reasonableBret Bernhoft
    Clarify what you mean by "reasonable" in this context. Thanks.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    Clarify what you mean by "reasonable" in this context. Thanks.180 Proof

    In this context, the word "reasonable" means "sound" or "obvious".
  • FrancisRay
    400
    In his metaphysical essay Appearance and Reality F. H. Bradley say of materialism and orthodox theology that they 'vanish like ghosts before the daylight of free sceptical enquiry'. This would be my view also. .

    So being an atheists and not a materialist is a perfectly reasonable position. It better be, since it is the the position adopted by the Perennial philosophy and widely endorsed. .
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    I am unsurprised, but nevertheless still baffled, at how far beyond our collective event horizon people are prepared to lay bets and debate the odds.

    ... we cannot escape the fact that the world we know is
    constructed in order (and thus in such a way as to be able) to see itself.
    This is indeed amazing.
    Not so much in view of what it sees, although this may
    appear fantastic enough, but in respect of the fact that it can see at all.
    But in order to do so, evidently it must first cut itself up into at least one state which sees, and at least one other state which
    is seen. In this severed and mutilated condition, whatever it
    sees is only partially itself. We may take it that the world
    undoubtedly is itself (i.e. is indistinct from itself), but, in any attempt to see itself as an object, it must, equally undoubtedly, act* so as to make itself distinct from, and therefore false to, itself. In this condition it will always partially elude itself.
    George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    I am unsurprised, but nevertheless still baffled, at how far beyond our collective event horizon people are prepared to lay bets and debate the odds.unenlightened

    Why? It seems not only natural but beneficial that people would do that - on the condition that they do it in a moderate and unzealous way. I think disagreements beyond the frontier of current science might, in some ways, literally be a driving force for the frontier of science moving forward.

    Einstein was way more confident in relativity that a lot of people think he had a right to be, for example, especially given that most of the experiments that would later confirm relativistic ideas hadn't been performed or even thought up yet. Einstein was very willing to lay bets on his view which was beyond that event horizon.

    Perhaps Einstein is an exception, or perhaps we ought to allow this arrogant confidence, in moderation, to the experts who deserve it.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    It seems not only natural but beneficial that people would do that - on the condition that they do it in a moderate and unzealous way.flannel jesus

    Absolutely! Hurrah for moderation and un-zealotry!

    Einstein was way more confident in relativity that a lot of people think he had a right to beflannel jesus

    Well I would certainly hesitate to condemn Einstein in these terms, with as much hindsight as I have. Are there many Einsteins on this site? but I think Einstein was in any case very much concerned with explanations for what we could see already, rather than what was beyond the horizon. Perhaps the 'God does not play dice' comment was a little rash?
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    We probably don't have an Einstein on the site. What in particular in this thread do you think oversteps the bounds here? Who is making too bold bets on things beyond the event horizon?

    Is it anybody with a strong intuition one way or the other about materialism?
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    Well folk do seem to adopt 'isms and defend them against competing 'isms with more enthusiasm than I can find good warrant for, and I don't want to be more particular than that, or further defend a perhaps somewhat impetuous remark of my own.
  • Athena
    3k
    I am a true atheist (as well as humanist and capitalist); someone who does not believe in or give legitimacy to the traditional concepts of gods. At the same time, I am not a materialist. Because I observe there is a happy medium between these two absolute extremes. Somewhere "a something", which is closer to the highest truths, can be unearthed, studied, understood and applied.Bret Bernhoft

    You might enjoy The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. It is mind-blowing to me that we are still materialists. Everything is energy. Logos, reason, the controlling force of the universe makes matter possible.

    Western thinking since Rome has been very materialistic, but not so much the East. Without India we would not have a concept of zero and without zero we could not have the maths we have today. The materialism we have is a cultural problem and :lol: leaves the believers of the God of Abraham, that is Jews, Christians, and Muslims with a big problem! How do we explain the existence of God and the Holy Spirit when every is made of matter?

    Back to math, if we all learned quantum physics we might not be able to maintain our notion of separate material and spiritual realities.
  • NOS4A2
    8.5k


    I don’t think it is reasonable because it involves the same activity: holding out for something better than the world. Theism is idealism run amok. It’s an exercise in slandering or dismissing the world, and holding oneself (one’s ideas, consciousness, mind) over and above it.

    The problem with seeking the middle and not leaning one way or the other is that you never get to help decide where the center is.
  • Manuel
    4k
    The traditional issue of mind being "non-physical" reckons back to antiquity and even early modern science, in which the concept of the soul was used somewhat interchangeably with the mind, indicating that we understood physical phenomena much better than we actually did (and still don't).

    In modern talk, the domain of the mental is a very hard nut to crack, being that outside some narrow fields of insight, such as a bit from neuroscience, some from linguistics and a bit from psychology, we know so very little of it.

    And it makes sense too, given that we are analyzing our most unique gift from nature: thought. So, it's not surprising.

    And while being an atheist is perfectly fine (I suppose I am one too), not much is gained by attempting to argue that the mental is opposed to the physical is some obscure manner. Otherwise, we are repeating the mistakes of the 17th century. Saying the universe is mental or physical does not highlight much about it, in my opinion.
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    Sure. I think there's two big flavours of that at play (or two sides of a spectrum, maybe?):

    1. The offensive: My ism is clearly correct, and anyone who disagrees with me is clearly wrong and probably stupid.

    2. The defensive: My ism is at least *not clearly incorrect* and it would be unjustified to rule it out based on current evidence.

    When we're dealing with topics on or beyond the frontier of science, 1 is probably, usually unjustified for almost all people, with the exception of the occasional Einstein. How do you feel about 2 though? The defensive position, for ideas that are beyond the frontier.

    I think 2 can be reasonable at times. There's a lot of people saying "this idea is clearly impossible and ruled out for this reason or that", and *maybe* there can be value in pushing back against that kind of rhetoric at times, no?
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    You might enjoy The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra.Athena

    Thank you for the recommendation. I have added it to my list of books to consider buying in the near-future. I am a big fan of literature that seeks to fuse seemingly incompatible paradigms, into a new coherent understanding of the universe.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    220
    I don’t think it is reasonable because it involves the same activity: holding out for something better than the world. Theism is idealism run amok. It’s an exercise in slandering or dismissing the world, and holding oneself (one’s ideas, consciousness, mind) over and above it.

    The problem with seeking the middle and not leaning one way or the other is that you never get to help decide where the center is.
    NOS4A2

    I can see what you're saying; that I might be playing the same game as theism, by looking to "a beyond" for something better. And that it is difficult to know where the middle truly is, without taking one side or the other. These are good points.

    In my observations, the paranormal and metaphysical are part of this materialist world. There is no need for overlap of distinct realms or faith in anything to validate/explain such a reality. It is rather the state of science, measurement and a desire to earnestly look that prevents our species from legitimizing the existence of what is presently designated as "woo woo".

    I'm not one to use Quantum Physics as a means to explain spiritual principles. Instead, I rely heavily on the work of pioneers such as Jeffrey Mishlove in the field of Parapsychology, to help explore these phenomena. As well as the words and wisdom of different religions, found throughout human history.

    I conclude that by trusting my own experiences, studying the extremes of this spectrum and remaining mindful, that it seems possible to deduct where the middle is, or somewhere nearby. And to live in the now moment without a desire for inter-dimensional transcendence. My perspective isn't to escape an earthly life for a heaven or hell; it is to enrich my life in the domains that I already exist within.
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    It is mind-blowing to me that we are still materialists. Everything is energy.Athena
    "Everything" which causes changes is material, ergo "energy" is material, no?

    I might be playing the same game as theism, by looking to "a beyond" for something better.Bret Bernhoft
    How can "a beyond" the here and now provide "something better" to us within the here and now?

    I am not a materialist.Bret Bernhoft
    As a non-"materialist", what is it (ontically? epistemically?) about the material that you oppose?
    More simply, reality is mind/mental.
    What do you mean by "reality"?
  • flannel jesus
    1.6k
    It is mind-blowing to me that we are still materialists. Everything is energy.
    — Athena
    "Everything" which causes changes is material, ergo "energy" is material, no?
    180 Proof



    This is the second time in my life that I've seen someone suggest materialists don't believe in energy lmao. How is that supposed to work? All materialists believe that matter moves around, right? And matter requires energy to move and interact and change directions and so forth, right?

    I've never met a materialist who doesn't believe in energy. I have, however, met non-materialists who say materialists believe that. THAT'S what's truly mind blowing.
  • 180 Proof
    14.5k
    All materialists believe that matter moves around, right? And matter requires energy to move and interact and change directions and so forth, right?

    I've never met a materialist who doesn't believe in energy.
    flannel jesus
    :100: :fire:

    NB: ... "yinyang" ... "atoms swirling swerving in the void" ... "E=mc²" ... "fermions & bosons", wtf are woo-ologists talking about? :sweat:
  • Athena
    3k
    Thank you for the recommendation. I have added it to my list of books to consider buying in the near-future. I am a big fan of literature that seeks to fuse seemingly incompatible paradigms, into a new coherent understanding of the universe.Bret Bernhoft

    The book "Great Thinkers of the Eastern World" is easier to read than Fritjof Capra and prepares us to understand Tao which is great for reading Greek philosophy and thinking of things such as Democritus’s ideas of changing physical phenomena. :wink: All the sources of knowledge we have to choose from make living a wonderful thing. It appears you want to enjoy it all as I do.
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