Promissory materialism isn't even plausible, is it contradicted by historical facts.

#1
The Icon of Materialism: Why Scientism's Cherished Progress Narrative Fails is an article by Jonathan Witt at http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=28-02-040-f The article debunks the myth of promissory materialism.

When confronted with science's inability to explain some seemingly paranormal phenomena, a materialist often says that it isn't really paranormal and that although science can't explain it now, science will find an explanation in the future. Consciousness and the origin of life are two frequent subjects where this occurs. This is sometimes called "promissory materialism" This faith is science (scientism) is said to be reasonable because it is supported by the history of science. Things that were once thought to be paranormal were eventually explained by science. But if you look at the actual data you see that this faith in science is misplaced. When you look at the history of science you see that many, many times the atheist materialist position was wrong.

At one time scientists thought life was very simple and could easily arise spontaneously and therefore the origin of life on earth was not mysterious. However later developments have shown that life is very complex and life does not normally arise spontaneously. The progress of science did not solve the mystery of the origin of life, it resulted in the origin of life becoming more of a mystery.

In cosmology, it was initially thought that the universe always existed and therefore the origin of the universe needed no explanation. However later developments showed that the universe did have a beginning and it appears to be fine-tuned to support life. The progress of science did not solve the mystery of the origin of the universe, it made the origin of the universe more of a mystery.

At the birth of modern science, most scientists believed natural laws were orderly because they were designed. Eventually scientists decided to adopt methodological naturalism and reject supernatural explanations for natural phenomenon. The result of this is that to explain the fine tuning of the universe to support life, cosmologists have to propose an unfalsifiable multiverse containing an infinite number of universes where anything is possible and natural laws lose all explanatory power. The progress of science has not provided more reasons to have faith in science, it has led to the undermining of the foundations of science. Promissory materialism promises a materialist explanation for all phenomenon but the multiverse theory makes all phenomenon explanable by mere chance.

Promissory materialism is based on the belief that science progresses from superstition to material explanation. But this belief is not correct. In the cases of origin of life and cosmology science has discovered its simplistic explanations didn't hold up, and in the case of cosmology the basic foundations of science, that nature follows intelligible natural laws, has been overthrown thrown to maintain belief in materialism.

(UPDATE, (see my posts below) More historical reasons not to believe promissory materialism: The progress of science has led to the belief that the human mind evolved for survival not truth. According to materialist science belief in anything is not rational, applied uniformly this would include belief in materialism ... materialist science undermines itself. PM fail. The materialist theory of junk DNA was not supported by later findings, it has been over thrown by later findings. PM fail! Geologic evidence of ancient floods reminiscent of the biblical flood story, despite fierce resistance at the time was eventually confirmed by science not refuted. PM fail! )

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=28-02-040-f
The Icon of Materialism
Why Scientism's Cherished Progress Narrative Fails
by Jonathan Witt

For instance, through much of the nineteenth century, the scientific consensus was that microscopic life was relatively simple, little more than microscopic sacks of Jell-O. The scientific community also accepted the idea of spontaneous generation—that creatures sprang to life spontaneously out of things like dew and rotting meat. Taken together, these pieces of conventional scientific wisdom suggested that the origin of the first living cell deep in the past was hardly worthy of the term mystery—a material explanation seemed obvious.

But in 1861 Louis Pasteur conducted a series of experiments that discredited the notion of spontaneous generation. And in the next century, scientists began amassing evidence of just how complex even the simplest cell is. Today we know that cells are microminiaturized factories of astonishing sophistication and that, even more to the point, such sophistication is essential for them to be able to survive and reproduce. Matheson himself conceded in his debate with Meyer that no adequate material explanation has been found for the origin of the cell.

In sum: We have come to learn that spontaneous generation was a fantasy. We have discovered that even the simplest cells are highly sophisticated and information-rich organisms. And the only cause we have ever witnessed actually producing novel information is intelligent design.
...
Cosmology and physics provide another counter-example to the grand narrative. In Darwin's time, conventional scientific wisdom held that the universe was eternal.
...
Near the same time that scientists were realizing this, there was a growing awareness of what is now widely known in cosmology as the fine-tuning problem. This is the curious fact that the various laws and constants of nature appear finely calibrated to allow for life in the universe—calibrated to such a precise degree that even committed materialists have abandoned blunt appeals to chance.
...
Scientism's grand progress narrative holds that as we learn more and more about the world, purely natural or material explanations will inevitably arise and grow stronger, while design arguments will inevitably collapse under the weight of new discoveries. But the opposite has happened in cosmology and origin-of-life studies.
...
the insight that we live in a world with various underlying laws and constants that we can profitably investigate has long been non-controversial. Moreover, the idea was encouraged by the belief that nature is the rational and orderly work of a divine mind
...
The theological, and specifically theistic, commitments of the early men of science were crucial to the birth of modern science.
...
Many later scientists abandoned science's fertile theological heritage, opting to restrict themselves to purely material explanations and insisting that science should trade only in hypotheses consistent with materialism.
...
The cosmic-sized case in point is their invoking untold billions of unseen, undetectable universes to argue that ours is just a rare lucky one among all these untold universes, one with a life-sustaining combination of physical laws and constants. Never mind that the idea is un-falsifiable, and never mind that such a multiverse would itself require exquisite fine-tuning in order to generate even one life-sustaining universe.
...
The same dogmatic thinking may help explain how some nakedly misleading arguments against intelligent design continue to circulate among the proponents of scientism. So, for instance, intelligent design is dismissed as an argument from ignorance when it's actually based on people's uniform experience of designed systems and the cause-and-effect structure of the universe.
...
At other times, opponents of intelligent design attack almost the opposite straw man, warning that design proponents view the cosmic designer as wholly removed from nature except when he comes down to tinker with an imperfect creation.
...
None of these straw-man attacks hold together under close inspection, and none of them alter the reality that scientism's grand narrative of a manifest destiny is a manifest charade. Its failure presents a golden opportunity to beckon both science and the broader culture out of the flatland of materialism and back toward a richer, and more reasonable, understanding of reality.
 
Last edited:
#8
The term "promissory materialism" makes it seems as if there is some sort of "promises-delivered immaterialism." Could someone post links to those articles?

~~ Paul
The whole purpose of David Papineau's article The Rise of Physicalism is to extrapolate from past successes of physical theory to make promises about the future.
(This answers your question as if 'those' refers to promissory materialism.)
 
#9
More reasons to doubt promissory materialism: the progress of science didn't support belief that the human mind is rational. The progress of science has led to the belief that the human mind evolved for survival not truth and is not reliable. Materialist science undermines itself.

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/why-evolutionary-theory-cannot-survive-itself.1999/
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/03/why_evolutionar094171.html

An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth -- which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.
...
To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion -- and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.
...
Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, "If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones." Thus "to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals ...undermines confidence in the scientific method."
...
The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.​
 
Last edited:
#10
The term "promissory materialism" makes it seems as if there is some sort of "promises-delivered immaterialism."
Wow. You just keep on reaching new levels of absurdity. And - as I think I stated before - that charge has nothing to do with your materialist beliefs, it has to do with your ability to respond with nonsensical constructs.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#11
Wow. You just keep on reaching new levels of absurdity. And - as I think I stated before - that charge has nothing to do with your materialist beliefs, it has to do with your ability to respond with nonsensical constructs.
So if promissory materialism does not imply some sort of promises-delivered immaterialism, I guess that means immaterialism is just as promissory. In which case, what is the point of the mantra?

~~ Paul
 
Last edited:
#12
Very nice collection of links. I've been looking for something on line about popper's defense of dualism. Thanks
Very nice collection of links. I've been looking for something on line about popper's defense of dualism. Thanks
The problem I have with ID is that it derives from a belief the God is a separate actor who created the universe and natural laws and occasionally tweaks them. My basic intuitive concept is the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness. I think to know the nature of God we must look more deeply into ourselves. I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes. The ID folks seem to degrade animals and take it as an insult that we are related and infer that we humans are specially created by God. This human exceptionalism has always been an issue I have with these folks. I think postulating that God’s agency is somehow similar and parallel to our own is ego centric and ultimately fundamentalist.
I do appreciate the way the ID folks have pulled the curtain up on materialism. It’s just too bad they are embedded in a right wing conservative agenda. When they look at nature they think (imho) - this is wonderful because God did it and God’s like me and I’m wonderful too – very different from the view that we are seeing him directly if we are open and realizing we are coo-extensive with Him/Her/It.
 
Last edited:
#13
The problem I have with ID is that it derives from a belief the God is a separate actor who created the universe and natural laws and occasionally tweaks them. My basic intuitive concept is the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness. I think to know the nature of God we must look more deeply into ourselves. I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes. The ID folks seem to degrade animals and take it as an insult that we are related and infer that we humans are specially created by God. This human exceptionalism has always been an issue I have with these folks. I think postulating that God’s agency is somehow similar and parallel to our own is ego centric and ultimately fundamentalist.
I do appreciate the way the ID folks have pulled the curtain up on materialism. It’s just too bad they are embedded in a right wing conservative agenda. When they look at nature they think (imho) - this is wonderful because God did it and God’s like me and I’m wonderful too – very different from the view that we are seeing him directly if we are open and realizing we are coo-extensive with Him/Her/It.
You seem to be little confused here, as you are trying to assert two opposites simultaneously!

On one hand, you say "the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness" and "I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes."

On the other hand, you heavily criticize people for saying "God’s like me".

Don't you realize that if you take seriously your first claim, then really you should be saying "God’s like me"? For, if we are 'shards of the divine consciousness' then God will be like us?

This means that your criticism of ID is based on politics, and not on the actual content of their claims.
 
#14
You seem to be little confused here, as you are trying to assert two opposites simultaneously!

On one hand, you say "the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness" and "I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes."

On the other hand, you heavily criticize people for saying "God’s like me".

Don't you realize that if you take seriously your first claim, then really you should be saying "God’s like me"? For, if we are 'shards of the divine consciousness' then God will be like us?

This means that your criticism of ID is based on politics, and not on the actual content of their claims.
 
#16
I do appreciate the way the ID folks have pulled the curtain up on materialism. It’s just too bad they are embedded in a right wing conservative agenda.
There is a PR problem with ID. At the very least a new moniker would be useful. "3rd Way Evolution"? "NuEvolution"? "Science Based Evolution"? (perhaps just "Evolution"?;))...
 
#18
You seem to be little confused here, as you are trying to assert two opposites simultaneously!

On one hand, you say "the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness" and "I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes."

On the other hand, you heavily criticize people for saying "God’s like me".

Don't you realize that if you take seriously your first claim, then really you should be saying "God’s like me"? For, if we are 'shards of the divine consciousness' then God will be like us?

This means that your criticism of ID is based on politics, and not on the actual content of their claims.
In Christianity it’s a matter of belief from authority. God made me so I’m special. In the more eastern view and more mystical Christian traditions it’s a process of experiencing and realizing one’s true nature, Buddha nature.

“I said: On one hand, you say "the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness" and "I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes."
I’m referring to direct experiences here.
That’s a very different thing from claiming some homunculus god left tell tale signs which we recognize because they look something like the machines we make with our technologies there for we have evidence that our belief in our particular theistic god is true.
Let me expand on this a bit:
The seeming contradiction: The Christian view – God created the universe(world) then god made the animals, then God made us (the crown of creation) in his image – unlike the rest of creation which is his gift to us and has no inherent divinity or inherent value – very parallel to materialism in that the only traces of God in it is the occasion mark of his having created it (irreducible complexity, codings, patterns and structures which supposedly require an intelligent agent similar to us but much advanced (ego projection perhaps?).
I think the eastern and mystical views of God are radically different where God is inherent in all things. Both immanent and emmanent. What determines whether we are aware of the divine both intrinsic and extrinsic is our state of consciousness. You can certainly see this in the mystical traditions – the jhanas in Buddhism for instance where awareness, insight, knowledge and identity radically shift as ones consciousness is more refined leading to becoming aware of one’s true nature(Buddha nature) not separate.
I’m sorry , I just see a veiled materialism in the form of theism of the ID folks. They are dismissive of other possibilities for how the evidence of intelligent design can be interpreted such as more mystical, shamanistic, panspermic, “ new age”. . . Notice you never see folks like Rupert Sheldrake or Bruce lipton going anywhere near id – at least I haven’t.
 
#19
In Christianity it’s a matter of belief from authority. God made me so I’m special. In the more eastern view and more mystical Christian traditions it’s a process of experiencing and realizing one’s true nature, Buddha nature.

“I said: On one hand, you say "the universe is a single conscious being and our individual consciousnesses are shards of the divine consciousness" and "I think we glimpse the higher workings of God in synchronicities, and in our own creative processes."
I’m referring to direct experiences here.
That’s a very different thing from claiming some homunculus god left tell tale signs which we recognize because they look something like the machines we make with our technologies there for we have evidence that our belief in our particular theistic god is true.
. . .
What makes you think that theists (Christians and others) have not also experienced the divine? Certainly there are many reports from Christian mystics about this, and also endless reports from meeting Jesus as God and the great improvements that result from that.

You must have a rather narrow and erroneous idea about Christianity (and christian life especially) if you think it is all "a matter of belief from authority". Certainly not: it is about ridding oneself of old unwanted habits, and of obtaining new life in love of truth and neighbors. The Christian god is also immanent in nature: to live inside the inmost reaches of living beings to give them life and consciousness.

ID people never claim to have the whole story: they are just trying to establish the first step away from materialism! Christianity consists of a great deal more than intelligent design.

As for me, I know that I am not God.
Though in every breath I depend on God.
 
#20
I’m sorry , I just see a veiled materialism in the form of theism of the ID folks. They are dismissive of other possibilities for how the evidence of intelligent design can be interpreted such as more mystical, shamanistic, panspermic, “ new age”. . . Notice you never see folks like Rupert Sheldrake or Bruce lipton going anywhere near id – at least I haven’t.
I have no idea where you get this from. ID makes no claim on the identity or nature of the designer. Quite puposefully, as it only addresses scientific issues Not theological ones. There is a clear separation here. If someone is using it as a way of putting one religion over the other we are no longer within the realms of ID. This seems to be something you made up. I have following the ID arguments for over a decade, read stacks of books and papers and never have encountered what you are saying here.

Rupert is a christian by the way. And whether Lipton identifies with a certain group we call ID he certainly conforms to those views.
There is a wide range of opinion within those we recognise as IDers. ID has been around since the beggining of western science. ID is just a label like any other.
 
Top