Not Materialism, but Material Matters!

In my last post, I said:

A lot of modern life is designed to make us into mopey, self-loathing cogs. Eaters and spenders. When you break out of that mold and feel how natural and positive it is to have your testosterone flowing, it’s a bit of a revelation.

What do I mean by natural and positive? Men are, by nature, more aggressive than women. Whether it’s polite to acknowledge it in civilized company or not, men get a rise out of aggressive acts, especially when such aggression is in defense of the man’s self, family, or tribe.

As a non-materialist (what else are we supposed to call ourselves these days? Theists? Supernaturalists? I hate to give myself a negative designation — “non-materialist” — but since I’m not a Christian and I’m not a Jew or Muslim or Buddhist or initiate in the Mithraic mysteries, and since modern people take materialism as their “obvious” baseline, I am left with no other term), as a non-materialist, I bristle intensely if anyone suggests to me that all of my spiritual experiences are merely the products of this or that measurable hormone.

I believe that the brain is a God-conducting organ. That is to say, when scientists find a “God module” in the human brain, it proves not that God-consciousness in humans is a function of some randomly-evolved brain region, but rather that the scientists are reading (through their astonishing modern instruments) the physical echoes of something that precedes brains, humans, and cells.

If humans are half-animal, half-angel, as the Christians and the Hindus (after a fashion) would have it (and I believe they are correct, and believe that no other explanation really answers all of the relevant questions), then it’s quite obvious that our animal bodies (including, duh, the brain) would reflect our spiritual capacities. When scientists “discover” this or that region of the brain that correspond to this or that religious experience (and it’s been done with Christian prayer, with the meditation efforts of Tibetan monks, etc, etc), my reaction is not to therefore discount the nuns and monks. I don’t think (as they clearly intend us to, from their rhetoric), “Wow, there’s a physically measurable link between believing and brain activity!”

Rather (and it’s kind of embarrassing to point this out), anyone with an open mind would recognize that we’ve merely kicked the can further down the road. Finding cellular connections between the physical body and spiritual experience proves nothing whatsoever, on the metaphysical level. Those who deny that metaphysics even exist are still lost in their minutia, and those who have had incontrovertibly real experiences with the “supernatural” (which is actually the natural) still can’t “prove” their experiences, by the laws of modern science, without appealing to the very laws which by definition preclude the supernatural.

So when I talk about testosterone, as for example in the above-linked post, I don’t mean to endorse a purely materialistic view of the world. But, as must be obvious, neither do I deny the link between the body and the spirit. And, as I have already written, and as I intend to show in further posts, I believe that those who understand the (true) metaphysical nature of life have underestimated the degree to which the body influences the soul and, especially, the spirit.

I’m asserting nothing new.

6 comments on “Not Materialism, but Material Matters!

  1. ajb says:

    There’s something similar going on in what was called ‘identity theory’ in Western philosophy of mind. The idea was that the mind = the brain, but this was usually couched in terms of “the mind is really the brain.” However, if it’s a true identity, then one should be able to say “the brain is really the mind,” but this didn’t seem to be what many identity theorists actually had in mind.

    Similarly, when neurologists (or whoever) discover a correlation between certain spiritual states and brain activity (including, as you point out, things that involve testosterone and so on), the implication tends to be that it ‘really’ is the brain activity, or is ‘just’ brain activity. Yet, a moment’s reflection (as you point out) shows this isn’t warranted. Rather, it shows that whatever is happening is tied up in the causal network we call ‘the physical’. This could easily be predicted, as these experiences have affects on people’s bodies, and so must have effects on their brains. Or, it might be that what we represent as brain activity is something more than our representations.

    Either way, the typical spin put on these discoveries follows not from the discoveries but from prior metaphysical assumptions which are then conjoined to the discoveries.

  2. alfredwclark says:

    Here’s a new blog: Occam’s Razor

    It has multiple bloggers and will include topics: HBD, politics, history and economics, immigration, etc.

    We are still working on blogroll. If we do not have you added, please add us, leave comment or email, and we’ll add you.


  3. Bob says:

    “There are some people so simple as to think that, when they have proved
    the religious instinct to be a mere efflorescence of the sex-instinct, they
    have destroyed religion.
    …the destructive criticism of the phallicists has
    only proved sex to be a sacrament. Consciousness, says the materialist… is a function of the brain. He has only re-formulated the old
    saying, “Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost.”!

    – Aleister Crowley

  4. beth8888 says:

    If anyone is interested, here’s a new reading list for Pro-Western Christianity:

    Please make recommendations in the comments below the reading list.


  5. mosomoso says:

    Just a brief fictional take on the subject of “knowing” and the tendency of bright people to regard best-available data as adequate knowledge, to be hastily applied to anything.

    (Please feel free to delay reading, or ignore entirely. This fiction thing is a late-life hobby – result of being stranded on a farm a bit over a year ago! Yet the particular piece did seem relevant to the theme of this post.)


  6. I came across your blog while in search for a C.S. Lewis quote. I am interested in reading more of your posts and discovering more of your thoughts.

    In regards to the above post…

    It is far to difficult to throw one or the other differing view points out (In regards to God presence or God Module within our discernments and brain activities, spiritual, physical etc.) for the possibility of proof for either is so faint that to throw one out, and not the other, could have considerably harmful affects, known and/or unknown.

    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Thomas Nagel’s recent claims and how they have landed him with the title of ‘Heretic’ amongst his fellow atheists.

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