Objections against materialism
Believers have always detested materialists and relentlessly persecuted them. Even now, the materialist opinion is generally distrusted. Why? Let's look at some objections, not based on boring supernatural entities but on practical human values.
A serious objection voiced by adversaries is that materialism kills the beauty in life and denies the spirit that distinguishes humans from animals. It allegedly rejects love, poetry, creativity, spirituality and the arts and replaces them by hard and joyless banality. Marvellous works of art could only have been made during religious ecstasy: cathedrals, frescos, paintings, and chorals, are the result of faith. Music like the Hohe Messe and the Art of the Fugue by Bach could not have been written by an infidel. Our culture and our ideas are part of us. To reject them, which is what the materialists propose, would violate our nature. Another one: the medieval flourishing of arab culture was caused by islam, but the barrenness that followed was not. However such assertions present no evidence that shows that belief in a transcendental being or some other idol helps creating works of art or scientific laws that would not have been possible without ideological constraints. Great works of art and science clearly have been produced despite the restrictions imposed by a belief in some idol or doctrine. Strong hierarchies usually do not stimulate but obstruct innovation in knowledge and art. Ideology tends to be incompatible with art and science as recently shown by the soviets, the fascists, and the Chinese communists. The beauty in religious art is not what is religious in it but what is beautiful. The opinion that love of art is anti-materialistic is too weird to contradict; anyone interested in this has by now found out that emotions are effects of the limbic brain and created by the cerebrum.
Hobbes disapproved of liberty and denied equality (which are materialist values) because social stability requires a strong hierarchy; that means that idealism and a feodal organization are vital to prevent run-away anarchy and arbitrary tyranny. This is also the argument that the Chinese government uses to defend its censorship (and the detention of Ai Wei Wei). Materialists reject that solution for stability because what causes social problems cannot be used as a remedy for them. Unsurprisingly, ideots who tried that made matters worse.
Some other objections:
- Life and consciousness cannot be explained by atomism. Chemicals in test tubes do not live, minerals do not make love, and stones do not laugh. If an organism dies, it is obvious that something disappears and something else stays. So there must be something more than dead matter.
- The big bang, the beginning of the world, must have been a creative act. What else could have created the universe?
- Reality is made by the mind which is non-material: it is well known that the senses are unreliable and cannot therefore observe an objective material reality outside us and its properties. We can only see what we want to see or what our mind allows us to see.
- Materialism, which denies faith, is immoral because we have to believe in something before we can have moral norms at all. Without a faith, society degenerates in a war of all against all as Hobbes explained. Without an ideology, anything goes. Without a religion we have the morals of alligators.
- Materialism is also naive about human nature: people cannot function well without some ideological support. They distrust freedom, it frightens them. Without the certainty of a faith, life becomes insupportable.
- History shows that people have always believed; of course they will continue to do so, religion is part of their essence.
- Humans are social animals which strongly interact and their ideologies are the formal expression of that interaction. Because of their biology humans cannot live together without ideology.
- Materialists are inconsistent. They distrust ideas, yet claim that everything nonmaterial is an effect of matter. If ideas are produced by reacting molecules and ions, as they say, why renounce them?
- Again, ideas set us apart from other (lower) organisms. Bacteria and plants have no culture, no art, no love, no spiritual life. Rejecting idealism, ideots say, would mean going back to a reptilian subsistence. Nobody wants that.
Countering these objections is left as an exercise for the reader. Sources and links can be found all over the EpistYlion site. A Google search shows however that materialism is usually understood in the second sense (consumerism) while idealism is supposed to mean love for an ideal. Words, really...