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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Materialism and Bad Science

I found this article to be absolutely fascinating:

In a nutshell, Dr. Sheldrake argues that science has many more 'explanations' than it has provable facts, and most of these unproven facts rest on the assumption that materialism, which we have been discussing here as a contributing factor in the development of alcoholism and addiction, is an absolute truth.  Science cannot explain how genes really work, or even how your brain really operates.

Of course, science has a more difficult task than I do.  I am not interested in explanations as much as results: just because I can explain addiction does not mean I can treat it, and I only am interested in explanations so long as they lead to a treatment.  My interest is in treatment.  I want results, because I suffer for lack of them.

Religion is a type of 'experimental science.'  It is often proved by 'results,' though many people would call these results 'superstitions.'  I've read plenty of books about 'magical thinking' and how superstitions develop because the human mind draws associations between cause and effect that are not there.  The problem with the scientists who argue such points is that, by Dr. Sheldrake's analysis, science has its own superstitions.

That makes sense: the scientist and the shaman have the same 'hard wiring.'  Human beings have had the same demonstrable needs and desires since recorded history began.  The Papua New Guinea witch-doctor shares all the same attributes as the Oxford professor... only the assumptions change.

The only changes from human to human occur in illness.  The disease of addiction, for example, changes the brain.  Yet, no one can really argue that the brain changes occur before the onset of the disease... it is not causal.  What is changing the brain?  Scientists shrug.  Why?  Because the materialist model would argue that the brain has to change first to create the disease, but that would leave open the question as to how that change would be initiated.

If we can use our own thought processes to change the structure of the brain, then the question remains: how then can one say that all thought originates in the brain if the brain is, in fact, subjected to the influence of thoughts?  It is a Catch-22.  If the brain influences thoughts, and thoughts influences the brain, then which is the originating actor?

Science has already ruled: the brain, as the physical and material organ, must be the origin.  But, we are not bound by science's pronouncements, particularly when science cannot conclusively prove this theory and there is evidence (such as addictions research in neurology) which shine light on the obvious problem of origin.

Christians believe that there is more to the person than just an animated corpse: we are Body, Spirit, and Soul.  This spiritual aspect of man rest with and in the body, but is not material.  Therefore, the best analogy I can give for the brain is that it is like an 'antenna' between the body and soul.  Damage to it effects the signals going back and forth, thus a head injury can affect our perceptions, yet the loss of brain matter does not mean that thoughts and memories are utterly erased.  We have seen stroke and brain injury victims, who lose a lot of gray matter, regain not only functions but memories as well.

Those of us in the world of recovery are looking for treatments rather than explanations.  I don't believe that science is bad... I think that it is rather good.  But, having all the scientific information possible and being totally miserable is not for me.  I got into my spiritual journey wanting to find happiness.  I believe I am on that road, and I don't think that science has done all that much about happiness.

Mind you, science has presented some wonderful solutions to human misery, from disease to starvation... our world is much easier to survive in thanks to science.  But, people are still miserable, and I don't think that materialism has helped at all.  In fact, I believe that materialism is a major culprit in modern misery.

There is much more to say, but I will save it for later.

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