the complete debate with materialists see this
A response to Aparthibs's
By Ali Sina
Although the debate seems to be over, and the
newer messages posted by my opponents contain little more than
argumentum ad nauseam, I quickly jot down a response to Aparthib's
latest message. The purpose of this essay is to define materialism that
its significance seems to elude my opponent.
Yes you said that materialism is an obsolete term.
I heard that. I quoted the definition of materialism from Dictionary.com
and asked you to explain in what ways your views differ from that
definition. From your writings I gather that your views are compatible
“It is a fallacy for a rationalist to debate
whether "X" exists or not, when "X" is not even
I am afraid that is not a true statement. There
are many things that are not defined but a rationalist would not
disregard them. The definition will come later. For example a few years
ago SETI picked a signal in their radar which was undefined. That was a
sensation for SETI and everyone else, even though it was neither defined
In 1976, Viking Orbiter 1 took some pictures from
the surface of the Mars and one of those pictures looked like the face
of a man. That was not a well defined image, many speculations were made
but later more sharper images proved it was just a natural rock
formation. Here something curious was observed, but it was not dismissed
just because it was not well defined, rather more probes were made and
eventually the mystery was solved.
In another example that could be even more
appropriate, a person may have suicidal thoughts. It may not be clear
why this individual has such thoughts. That does not mean science will
disregard that because it has no explanation for it. Now we know most of
the suicidal thoughts are caused by chemical imbalances. The anomaly was
not disregarded just because it was in someone’s mind and not well
defined, but rather it was studied and eventually defined and partially
With Paranormal we see a clear case of dogmatic
denial that is irrational and unscientific. If depression can be studied
and resolved scientifically, why not paranormal? Are paranormal
experiences mental events or are they something else? This has to be
studied critically not rejected with “I give you one million dollar to
prove it exists”, which underlies the mockery of the challenger and
his foregone denial of such experiences. The problem with the
materialists is that they do not dare to touch this topic. It is taboo.
This attitude is neither scientific nor rational.
The claim that we can’t define it and hence we
do not talk about it is a lame excuse. The first thing is to acknowledge
the phenomenon and then study it to define it. The problem with
materialists is that they do not even want to acknowledge the
phenomenon. They want to avoid this talk altogether. They have already
made their minds that it is all hallucination. For the materialists the
case is closed before it is ever studied. Why?.. Because paranormal, if
proven to have any substance shatters their belief in matter. This
attitude is neither scientific nor rational. It is dogmatic and it
That is why people have no sympathy for the
materialists and that is why you my friend, try to hide your identity as
one. Materialism, just like all other religions, is dogmatic, irrational
and unscientific. It is based on faith and not on empirical observation
of facts. When you even deny the existence of those facts, how can you
No one is afraid to study depression, even though
this is a very subjective anomaly, because no matter what are the causes
of depression our findings will not threaten our beliefs. But the
materialists are afraid of studying the paranormal. That is because if
it is proven that matter is not all there is, their faith in matter is
destroyed. Just as Muslims can’t bear the thought that Allah is not
God, materialists can’t bear the thought that matter is not the only
It is only by comparing the materialists to the
most close minded religionists that we can get an insight into their
mind and understand why they are so touchy about the subject of
You also named what is taboo for a materialist.
The following is your list:
of X are:
D. Spiritual world
What is so dirty about these words that you do not
want to talk about them? Is it just because they are old theories? Why
the String Theory, is not taboo and God is? Both these theories are
unproven. Both of them explain something. Why one theory should be
accepted as legitimate and the other dismissed? We know argumentum
ad antiquitatem is a logical fallacy. An argument is
not true just because it has been around for a long time. Is the reverse
of that true? Can we dismiss a theory just because it is an old theory?
What are your logical bases to dismiss the above as possible theories?
If I say God does not exist, the onus of
disproving his inexistence is on me. And I say that God, at least the
way he is described by the monotheistic religions, does not exist. This
I can prove logically. What are your evidences that God or other
“taboos” you talked about do not exist? I can’t disprove that
soul, spirit or the spiritual world, which is really the same thing,
does not exist. Therefore I am skeptic and withhold judgment. I am not
shunning the discussion and await any finding that may prove or disprove
the existence of the soul. I see many evidences that point to the fact
that life is not a function of the matter but rather is reflected in it
and independent from it. This theory could be true or false. So far
there is no solid evidence, neither in favor nor against it. Do you have
any convincing evidence that soul does not exist?
“No-one-has-been-able-to-prove-it-yet” is not an answer. No one has
been able to prove many scientific theories but that does not mean they
should be dismissed. They will remain as possible theories even though
they may be proven wrong later.
According to your statement, the above terms
cannot be defined logically and reflect a “state of human mind
reflecting ignorance at the very fundamental level.”
I agree that those terms can’t be defined but
they do not reflect ignorance. Not knowing is not ignorance. Theorizing
is not ignorance. What is ignorance is assurance or denial of things
that we can’t understand. Therefore the materialists are just as
ignorant as those whom they berate.
The truth is that any belief is based on
ignorance. Belief means accepting things without evidence. If one
believes in god, soul or spirit without evidence or if he rejects these
things without evidence he is a believer. I already discussed that one
can even deny something and be a believer, e.g. the Flat Earth Society
or Sheik Ibn Baaz who deny that the Earth is
round. This denial does not make them intellectual or freethinkers.
So if you are certain
that soul and God do not exist just because you can’t define them that
belief is based on ignorance. The correct attitude is to remain skeptic
until a theory is proven false or true.
“Let me stress to you again that
"Materialism is not science", and "Science is not
I know that. I am not against science. I am
against the unscientific materialistic dogma that you uphold. Science is
not a belief. Science is observation of facts. Materialism is a belief
that is based on only the discovered facts and nothing else. Now since
science is constantly evolving. But beliefs are static. That is why
beliefs are incompatible with science and materialism although claims
that it is based on science, is just as unscientific as other religious
“Matter is not the most fundamental level. The
most fundamental level is that of information. Information being the
laws of Physics”
Finally you are coming along. This is what I
explained in detail in my article Rational Spirituality. I gave a
different name to what you call information. I called it the Single
Principle or the Nonbeing. But let not names come in between us. We are
talking about the same thing. The important thing is that you recognize
that laws of Physics are the fundamental substance of this Universe.
Nevertheless, the laws of the Physics are not the
only laws that rule this Universe. At a more evolved level of existence,
say for example at animal level, there are laws that are just as natural
as physical laws but they are unique to animal world.
Take the example of motherly instinct or other
instincts that are also laws without which animals would not be able to
procreate or survive. In human kingdom all laws governing the physical
world, the plant and the animal world apply but there are laws that are
uniquely tailored for humans.
Take the example of altruistic love. Only humans
are capable of endangering their own lives to save someone else’s,
especially if that someone else is a stranger. Justice, compassion,
love, etc. are natural laws that apply to humans only.
It is the sum of all these laws that apply to all
realms of existence that together make the Single Principle underlying
the creation. This is not a fact. It is a logical theory. There is
already a theory that says all the four physical laws that are called
fundamentals were originally one. It is also logical to believe that
even laws governing the other more evolved worlds are manifestations of
this single law or principle.
You said that this in popular parlance is known as
"It from Bit" (It = matter, Bit = information). I said the
same thing when I said the Nonbeing is the mother of all beings.
In the light of the above, you wrote:
“These insights of Physics
were not known to classical philosophers who invented materialism. So
it is out of date to insist on materialism with today's knowledge of
science. So NO, I am not a materialist, in answer to your question,
because I don't believe that matter is the basis for all existence,
rather I believe that the laws of physics is the basis of all of
existence, as far as the best evidence we have so far. I am a
rationalist, and rationalism only relies on logic and evidence for
FORMING ANY CONCLUSION about REALITY.”
If you read my article Rational Spirituality
you’ll see that I am basically saying what you mentioned above. If you
agree that laws are the basis of all the existence, you must agree with me
and if so why we are arguing?
The fact is that your philosophy so far has been
us check another dictionary for the definition of materialism and
compare it with what you said so far:
expresses the view that the only thing that exists is matter if
anything else, such as mental events exist, then it is reducible to
this what you say?
of course according to the same dictionary,
definition of "matter" in modern philosophical materialism
extends to all scientifically observable entities such as energy,
forces, and the curvature of space.”
This is what I understand from your position and
that is why I said you are a materialist or perhaps a neo-materialist. If I am wrong I would be glad
if you could tell me which part of this definition does not describe
Here is another dictionary definition of
the monist doctrine that matter is the only reality and that the
mind, the emotions, etc., are merely functions of it. http://www.wordreference.com
I on the other hand believe that it is not the
matter, forces, energy or curvatures of space that are the basis of
existence. These are all different forms of matter. These are all
manifestations of the laws of existence of which the physical laws are
only a part. The essence of this Law, which I called the Single
Principle, is not material. It is a Nonbeing that is the mother of all
Being or in modern language “the It is from Bit”.
This “Bit”, is the impulse of existence. This
is the vital spark that gave birth to, not just life, but all the
existence. Our forefathers called it Spirit. Please forgive them for
using that dirty word that offends your materialistic sensibility.
Based on this definition you are a materialist.
But what am I? I am a vitalist.
Vitalism is the doctrine
that states life cannot be explained solely by materialism. Often, the
non-material element is referred to as the "vital spark" or
energy. Some believers in vitalism equate this element with the soul.
Vitalism has a long
history in medical philosophies. Most traditional healing practices
posited that disease was the result of some imbalance in the vital
energies which distinguish living from non-living matter. In the
western tradition, these vital forces were identified as the humours;
eastern traditions posited similar forces such as qi, prana, etc.
So let us at least be clear where we are standing.
As long as we do not even know which school of thought we belong, how
can we have any meaningful discussion?
You defined rationalism as:
“Rationalism does not allow
one to make any meaningful statement/conclusion outside reality,
beyond the phenomenal (i.e the world of senses, albeit the senses now
include sensitive scientific equipments) world.”
This is of course the definition of materialism
and not of rationalism:
Rationalism, is a philosophical doctrine that
asserts that the truth should be determined by reason and factual
analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching.
As a rationalist
you do not believe or reject anything without factual proof. If any
argument can be demonstrated by reason, it enters into the field of
possibilities and is not discarded unless proven untrue. It is also not
accepted until proven true.
For example I may
believe that depiction of violence in TV may have negative effect on
children who may want to act out that violence. This is a reasonable and
rational hypothesis although I may not have any statistical evidence to
back up my claim. Further studies may demonstrate whether my thesis is
right or not. But it is illogical to dismiss that hypothesis just
because I have no data at hand to prove my point. If what I say is not
contrary to reason then it is a possibility even though it is not
No serious studies
have been performed on the phenomena of paranormal. The reports are
either by the believers in paranormal or those who disbelieve it
altogether. Therefore they are mostly subjective and not reliable.
phenomena are either external or mental events. We can’t say one way
or another unless we study them.
doesn't make sense to talk about the "existence" or
non-existence of anything not observable.”
This is of course
a logical fallacy that the materialists apply selectively to the
discussion of the immaterial world. There are many things that are not
observable, but entirely subjective and yet they are studied. Mood is
one such example. ESP is very much observable. Telepathy or dreams
although very personal experiences they are as real as feelings. And yet
you do not deny the existence of feelings but deny the existence of telepathy.
matter exists because we can observe it. Before it was discovered it
would not make sense to refer to "Dark Matter"
Dark matter has
not been observed or detected by any means. But its presence is inferred
because of its gravitational effect on visible matter such as stars and
galaxies. But the accelerated expansion of the Universe could be caused
by something completely different. The dark force
may not be a gravitational force. It could be a force unknown
to humanity and dark matter may not exist at all. The theory that the
dark force is gravitational and is caused by dark matter is just a
What if the dark force is not gravitational? Does it mean that the
theory of Dark Matter is hocus pocus?
uncertainty about the dark mater and the dark force, no one is
disregarding this theory just because it can’t be demonstrated. It is
still a plausible theory even though it may prove to be wrong.
You also wrote the
following which seems you are making two contradictory statements in one
that mean that nothing exists beyond what our logic and evidence can
prove? Of course not. But we cannot claim something to exist which is
not amenable to our senses. We can only say in a general way that
there MAY BE entities "outside" our phenomenal world that
can potentially become part of our phenomenal world if our sense
perceptions are improved enough.
But before they are perceived in the
phenomenal world they cannot be referred to by any specific names and
claimed to even "possibly" exist,
(a) and (b) are the two
contradictory statements. It is not
clear to me what are you saying here. Is it possible that anything could
exist beyond our observation or is it not?
These are two
opposing statements. Your position is not very clear. You made such
unclear statements before when you talked about the Ganesh drinking
milk, which you said it was
But then you
proceeded to dismiss it as hocus pocus. Then again you said that it was
explained by physics without giving us that explanation. At least if you
talk clearly I may be able to understand you, even though I may not
agree with what you say.
does not make sense to say that "X" may possibly exist, when
"X" is not a well-defined concept. That's why strictly
speaking a rationalist cannot be an agnostic (God MAY possibly exist).
You are confusing
rationalism with materialism or positivism. Rationalists are agnostic by
nature. The foundation of reason is doubt not conviction.
asserts that there is no god. Rationalism makes no statement either
way regarding the actual existence of god although it rejects any
belief based on faith alone. Although there is a strong atheistic
influence in modern rationalism, with prominent rational scientists
such as Richard Dawkins holding atheistic beliefs, not all
rationalists are atheists, and there is a greater compatibility with
agnosticism (which asserts that the existence of god is irrelevant or indeterminable)
than strong atheism. http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/rationalism%20
articles is always a challenge. One wonders what your position is
ultimately. On one hand you say that paranormal cannot possibly exist
and a few lines later you surprise your readers with statements such as
is possible that is dictated by the laws of Physics. Laws of Physics
is certainly not known fully. So that leaves room for many phenomena
to occur without explanation, i.e paranormal phenomena by definition.
As I indicated dark matter is one example. Paranormal occurrences are
possible IN PRINCIPLE. But anecdotes (individual or collective) are
not considered the evidence for paranormal occurrence."
So, finally what
are you saying? The above looks like as if taken from my articles. But
you and I are not in agreement on this subject. You in fact started
attacking my views vehemently supposedly because you do not agree with
me. And now you are echoing me? I don’t get it! You seem to be
shifting position in each paragraph. Are you working on John Kerry’s
campaign by any chance?
No one is asking
you to believe in anecdotes. That is not a logical thing to do. If you
believe in what you said in the above quote then you and I agree
completely. But that is not what you said all along. You kept saying it
is not observable and hence it is impossible. These are two different
If it is not
observable, it means it can’t enter into the parameters of science and
hence should not be believed as true. But it does not mean that it is
false either. It is simply a theory, which is possible and sometimes
probable but one should neither believe in it credulously nor reject it
logic. Anything else is either credulity or dogmatism. Really the
difference between these two is in the semantics and in the eyes of the
beholder. In essence, credulity and dogmatism are one and the same
rejecting religious credulity you might have saved yourself from the
frying pan but by embracing the material dogmatism you have jumped into