“I really seriously do not understand how anyone can believe materialism.”

Barry Arrington has a post on UD If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out? which contains some fairly standard arguments for dualism.  What caught my eye was the comments. Here is a sample:

How do you argue against someone who does not see the obvious self-contradiction in the statements -

“I choose to believe in materialism”. “I choose not to believe in free will.”

To believe these statements takes denial of basic logic.

I think some people just like to believe and say counterintuitive things because they think it sets them apart from the average Joe. Believing that I am just a machine has got to be the MOST counterintuitive thing I could possibly believe. It’s possible that you are just a machine, I can’t be sure about that, but I’m sure I’m not and, and as you say, any theory that provides the wrong answer to this question will not get serious consideration from my (average) mind.

This subject goes to the heart of the questions I’ve been puzzling on recently and has resulted in the few comments I’ve made here at UD.
It starts with the question, “Why don’t people accept sound arguments?”
The answer appears to be that their worldview will not allow it.

It is an ironical that comments like this appear just when Denyse is making post after post about how evolutionists/materialists/the liberal elite are suppressing intellectual freedom.  This group that cannot understand the materialist case so they dismiss materialists as at best deluding themselves and possibly being deliberately deceptive because they want to show off. It amounts to “they are obviously wrong so the only interesting question is why do they say these things”. This is not a good basis for debate. In Barry’s case this has extended to banning arguments he believes to be “obviously” wrong from his debates (there are some UD regulars who do respect opposing views – most notably vj torley). What I cannot work out is how to engage with this mind set or if there is any point in trying to.

There are of course many responses to all the points that Barry makes. They have been covered many times both in the blogosphere and serious writing and there seems little point in repeating them here. Interestingly in one comment Billmaz raises some of these objections. He/she appears to be an IDist acting as Devil’s Advocate and shows a real intellectual interest in seeing both points of view so can hardly be dismissed as deluding him/herself.  This will presumably lower the emotional baggage that gets in the way of any serious debate. It will be interesting to see to what extent Barry and the commenters engage with what Billmaz writes – after all as far as they are concerned he/she is obviously wrong.

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1 Response to ““I really seriously do not understand how anyone can believe materialism.””


  1. 1 Flint June 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    To be honest, I really seriously do not understand how anyone can believe in gods. Someday perhaps we’ll understand the human brain in enough detail to accurately model the mechanism that allows people to compartmentalize gods cleanly away from every reality in order to hold so firmly to mutually exclusive convictions. And I suspect we’ll find the answer lurking deeply in the lizard brain.


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