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Scientistic Materialism

Scientistic Materialism accepts only one reality: the physical universe, composed as it is of matter and energy.  Everything that is not physical, measurable, or deducible from scientific observations, is considered unreal. Life is explained in purely mechanical terms, and phenomena such as Mind and Consciousness are considered nothing but epiphenomena - curious by-products, of certain complex physical processes (such as brain metabolism)

Scientistic Materialism asserts that all the claims of the religious and spiritual traditions of humanity throughout the ages are false.  There is no God, no survival of physical death, no non-physical realities, and no ultimate meaning or purpose to life

Scientistic Materialism, then, is the belief, the irrational belief (for all dogmatically held beliefs are irrational in the truest sense of the word), that only that which can be observed and measured through the technique of Scientific Method is real, and everything else is unreal (or "Superstition"; or "Mysticism", using the term in a derogatory sense).  This is basically the same attitude as that taken by the religious fundamentalist, who claims that only the Bible is true and valid.  In both cases there is this absolute limiting standard, which is used to measure everything in existence, even when, as in most cases, it is not even applicable

This similarity stems from an actual historical and cultural connection.  In the Western world at least, Materialism is derived mainly from Protestant Christianity; a religion that postulates a God who works in a rational, lawful way, and reveals his teachings through a single Revelation, the Bible.  In order to understand God's will therefore, you must study only this particular written text.  Thus fundamentalist Protestantism (from Luther and Calvin to the present day Evangelist revival) rejects any form of esoteric or mystical interpretation whatsoever, and insists that only by examining and analysing the words of the Bible at face value can you come to an understanding of the work-ings and the message of God

Western science and technology arose in this Protestant Christian milieu; a milieu in which the Cosmos was seen as the creation of a rational God.  So nature, just as much as the Bible, was seen as the revelation of this lawful God.  And just as the mind of God can be known through a study of the Bible, so it can through a study of the created world

Even after the actual belief in God was discarded, this basic attitude was retained.  So we find the modern-day Materialist using Science (the knowledge of the material world) as a substitute "Bible".  The fundamentalist says that only through study and analysis of the Bible can one understand the true nature of things; the Materialist that only by examining and analysing nature through scientific method can there be an understanding of how the physical world works.

Interpretation of Reality: Reality is external, objective, the truth is "out there" (to paraphrase the X-Files ;-) rather than "in here"; objects are separate from one-self, subjective and objective are distinct.  Reality is made up of component units (objects, particles).  The mind is a tabula rosa (blank slate) that receives impressions from the external world, but does not create anything new in itself.  In this secular vision  the universe is purposeless, the result of random interactions of matter and energy

Knowledge: facts about the world are acquired through adherance to the accepted scientific paradigm of the day, or through a secular religion or ideology such as Humanism, Marxism, Existentialism, Extropianism etc

Objectivist materialism (correspondences)

Representative Paradigms (Science):Newtonian Physics, Darwinism, Supply-Demand style Economics

Representative Paradigms (Psychology)Behaviourism, Dawkinsian memetics

Representative Paradigms (Philosophy): Materialism, Physicalism, Reductionism, Empiricism, Skepticism 

Representative Paradigms (Religion): Secular religions like Dialectical Materialism, and, to a lesser extent, Humanism and Extropianism

Physical body
acciedental theory of evolution
standard theory of the universe

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 30 March 1999; last modified 20 August, 2004, by WF.