Have you ever taken your existence for granted? Maybe you’ve thought that you’re nothing more than atoms and molecules, that you’re just an animal species that developed intelligence through evolution and natural selection, that there’s no life after death or what people call a “soul”. I’m not writing this post to convince you of a certain religious perspective or doctrine. I’m not discrediting or “debunking” the statements I previously said because they are true. We are atoms and molecules, we developed intelligence over evolution. It gets complicated when talking about death but nature shows us constantly how easy life is consumed without anything special manifesting in the aftermath so why would we believe in an afterlife really? And there’s really no way to prove we have a soul so what’s happening here? These are the consequences of science having a materialist approach. A materialist belief system is pervasive and is like a bubble, you aren’t aware that it exists. I want to explain what I mean.
Materialism is a form of monism. The belief that the world we live in consists of one fundamental thing: matter. Even our thoughts and mind that it isn’t considered matter, in a materialistic approach, they are material in the sense that they are a product of the projections of our brains. Even various forms of energy like mechanical, thermal and kinetic are material in the same way color is a property of objects, energy is a property of matter. Everything can be explain in terms of the interaction it has with matter.
Materialism explains life as an accident through the interactions of certain chemicals that generated it and it evolved into complex forms through genetic mutations. That humans are a vehicle to propagate our genes and nothing else. Materialism explains that consciousness is produced by the brain so when the brain cease to function, our consciousness vanishes. It tries to convinces us that the sober state of awareness is the most objective and reliable state of awareness we have and any altered state of awareness are hallucinations and an aberration of brain activity. Materialism seriously affect the way we see life in lots of critical points of view that influence us. But why are we stuck with this belief system? If science can’t prove it, then it’s not real or authentic. If science can’t explain what consciousness is, then is nothing more than neurological brain activity. Right? When did science became a religion? Dogmatic systems tend to become exclusivist suppressing dissent and dismissing any evidence that seems contradictory.
Why is materialism similar to religion?
Religion satisfies the population’s psychological needs. Christianity, for example, became very popular in the medieval era, and this could be because the constant danger of death, poverty, oppression, etc. An almighty that was watching the good and bad, rewarding and punishing them accordingly, sounded appealing. Life after death became a self-defense mechanism. Heaven became a reward for the good behaved. Rules allowed a behaved society. Christianity offered a perspective to explain human life and the nature of reality. Materialism does the same. It satisfies psychological needs, it offers us a perspective to clearly understand life and the nature of reality. Is a perfect replacement for religion. It orients us through life much better than the counterpart. It reduces existential confusion and gives us a sense of identity, knowing who, where and what we are contributes and strengthens our sense of self. Most importantly, it corresponds very closely to our experience of the world.
But this puts us in a limited awareness state. How? This develops a strong sense of individuality that separates us and the world. “I” live with a boundary between “me” and the “external world”. We experience the world only through our senses so we see the world as an external input of data that is being processed with the brain. We separate the conscious experience of the world with the world itself. This creates a sense of isolation and lack and puts us in a bubble that we call “the sober state of awareness” which is limited and unreliable. That’s why I do think that psychedelic substances expand our consciousness but that’s a topic for another post. This limited awareness state is well seen after childhood. As children, we can give all our attention to all kinds of “mundane” and “ordinary” things that adults don’t even bother looking at. Our sense of separateness and desensitized perception begins to develop as we transition into a “rational” adult.
The consequences of materialism are clear. We have become nihilists and hedonists because our only purpose is to enjoy ourselves as much as possible. If this life is all there is, and there’s no meaning other than surviving and reproducing, who cares right? This naturally leads to selfishness. Materialism reinforced the belief that the main goal in life is to become successful and wealthy so it made it more acceptable to be selfish and ruthless. Why do we care about being moral and compassionate? There’s no point. There’s no point in being moral and compassionate, the only point is to achieve control and power. Environmental problems are a consequence of materialism because when we see the world as nothing more than resources to provide energy and goods, we abuse it with pure selfish intentions.
So is matter the primary and most fundamental quality in the universe? Could matter be a manifestation of something else? Something more fundamental that can’t be reduced? Can the universe be interconnected by a non-material force? I will be writing another post explaining an “alternative” view of the world which takes the mind and the soul as fundamental rather than matter. It has nothing to do with religion but with the nature of our universe which religions tend to twist. I will explain how this holistic approach doesn’t collide with science in fact, spirituality and science become reconciled.