Theistic Materialism Definition Essay


Materialism (or physicalism) can signify either a broad metaphysical view, or, more narrowly, a type of theory of mind. Metaphysical materialism is a specific kind of naturalism which contends that everything that exists is either physical or dependent upon the physical. Broadly understood, reductionist materialism maintains that everything is strictly physical; more narrowly, it maintains that the mind (at least) is purely physical. Nonreductive materialism also allows the existence of nonphysical properties that inhere in, or emerge from, a physical substrate. Consequently, it is sometimes called emergent materialism or property dualism. In the broad sense, nonreductive materialism holds that everything is physical or at least dependent upon the physical; and in the narrower sense it holds that the mind can have both physical and nonphysical aspects even though it must be instantiated in a physical system like the brain.

While metaphysical materialism entails a materialist theory of mind, one can be a materialist about the mental without believing that everything is physical (e.g., some theologians are nonreductive materialists about the human mind but believe that God is neither physical nor dependent upon the physical; and some philosophers who think that the mind is purely physical also believe in nonphysical abstract objects).

-- Keith Augustine

A Case for Physicalism about the Human Mind (Great Debate) (2007) by Andrew Melnyk

In this chapter, I describe evidence for the view that the human mind is a physical entity, in much the same way in which the human digestive system or the human immune system are physical entities. The first section characterizes this view more fully. The second section explains the evidential relevance of physicalism about the mind to theism. The third section sketches two kinds of evidence that support physicalism about the human mind, while the final section considers an antiphysicalist response to the reasoning of the previous section.

Objections to Melnyk's Case for Physicalism (Great Debate) (2007) by Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro

According to physicalism, what we ordinarily take to be a causally undetermined mental action is both caused and determined. But if physicalism is true, important elements of the first-person point of view are mistaken: Andrew Melnyk's choice to write his paper is not ultimately and irreducibly explained by a purpose, but by the nonpurposive causes of events in his brain. Physicalism implies that at bottom there are not purposive and causal explanations, but simply causal ones, and that there are not free and determined events, but only determined ones. Given these implications, why think that physicalism is true?

Physicalism and the First-Person Point of View (Great Debate) (2007) by Andrew Melnyk

In "A Case for Physicalism about the Human Mind," I tried to assemble positive evidence that physicalism about human mentality is true, while insisting that no aspect of human behavior makes it necessary to adopt any kind of dualism about human mentality. In their reply, Charles Taliaferro and Stuart Goetz fail to engage my positive case for physicalism, and offer no examples of human behavior that can only be explained by some kind of dualism. Instead, they primarily object that my paper overlooks features of human mentality purportedly incompatible with physicalism and accessible only from "the first-person point of view," such as free choice and reasons for acting. My response focuses on this objection alone.

Philosophical Materialism (1996) by Richard Vitzthum

Vitzthum surveys the materialist philosophical systems of Lucretius, Baron d'Holbach, and Ludwig Buechner, then turns to a discussion of 20th century materialism. Before delving into the mind-brain problem, he outlines the "metascientific" assumptions of materialism, their atheistic implications, and what materialism entails about life and mind. A brief consideration of the ontological status of numbers and moral concepts turns to a discussion of the success of reductionism in contemporary science.

Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists (2003) by Sean M. Carroll

Those who closely study the origin, development, and structure of the universe tend to disbelieve in any spiritual dimension to it. Science has inadvertently discovered that religious pictures of the world are false; when speaking to the same questions, science and religion invariably get different answers. Cosmology has no need for a First Cause since the Big Bang might simply be a transitional phase in an infinitely old universe or, alternatively, there may be no "before" the Big Bang anymore than there is a "north" of the North Pole. Appeals to alleged fine-tuning are presumptuous: physicists extrapolating from the earliest well-understood moment after the Big Bang using the laws of physics alone would erroneously deem our universe inhospitable to life. How, then, can we reliably anticipate the likelihood of life arising in hypothetical universes with different laws? Even supposing that physical constants are in fact "tunable" (which they may not be), constants might take on different values in other universes; and as Carroll puts it, "intelligent observers will only measure the values which obtain in those regions which are consistent with the existence of such observers." Finally, cosmology betrays unintelligent design: entire classes of fundamental particles exist that would have no impact on life if they had never existed. Evidently, a simple materialist formalism could offer a complete description of the universe.


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Materialism: is a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter[1]. Another definition says that materialism is the Philosophy of the theory that matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena [2]. In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena, including consciousness, are the result of material interactions. In other words, the theory claims that our reality consists entirely of physical matter that is the sole cause of every possible occurrence, including human thought, feeling, and action. The materialism has always assumed that life is wholly the product of natural processes. All human thought and feeling emerges from the nonliving, inorganic matrix of physical nature and ends at death. Our mind is reducible to natural processes that can be translated into the language of math and physics. An event or perception is said to be paranormal if it involves forces or existences that are beyond scientific explanation. Generally in a negative prospective, materialism is regarded as a concept that economic (monetary) relations are the basis of all social interactions and relationships. Materialists are not necessarily atheists, nor do they deny the reality of morality or such things as love or justice, beauty or goodness. Philosophical materialism is the metaphysical view that there is only one substance in the universe and that substance is physical or material.

Creationism: is a kind of knowledge based on Revelation which is the main subject of all monotheistic religions. Terminologically Creationism is not a new concept. As a matter of fact creationism does not refute any law evolved by Modern Science through EmpiricalKnowledge based on experiments and true bonafide observations. However, there is academic debate and a conflict of faith in the origination of nature by accident or by a creator, besides this, all scientists and general people respect and accept all branches of science alike. Science interacts with knowledge and time, this interaction is called the originator of scientific theories, whereas change in knowledge (improvement) affects the scientific theories and resulted in new or improved theory of Science. On the other hand, knowledge by revelation cannot be changed by experiments of time; however, modification remains in hand of its originator. This aspect is the root cause of belief and disbelief and results in faith. Revelation knowledge is transformed by “information” through fiction and malafide interest. The knowledge based on original revelation still holds good and leads us towards ultimate end of intellects in true science of logic by constituting axes or dimensions and resultant path deduced from equilibrium is called Sirat-e-Mustaqeen (Arabic Words). Hence true Creationism does not revolve in spherical scientific fiction. Creationism does not object to empirical knowledge but accord it due respect and recognize as natural gift.

Materialistic and creationists conflict[edit]

Basically materialism appears to be based on four main philosophical concepts:

(1) Theory asserting that universe came into existence by accident ignoring any cause and effect. This theory also postulates that universe has no creator.

(2) Theory suggesting that matter is perpetual and it had neither a beginning nor an end. Hence logic for replacement of universal existence in the absence of its creator is baseless.

(3) Concept of afterworld life is a Dogma and god is just a hypothesis.

(4) Science and Religion cannot be followed jointly declaring them as two separate entities and follower of a religion cannot be faithful to science or it is very hard for a religious person to be a student of science and religion simultaneously, thus materialist’s used a phrase of Pseudo Science for all creationists.

Anti religious materialistic theories are replied through Creationism with divine guide: Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and debate with them in the most dignified manner. Your Lord is aware of those who stray from His path, and He is aware of those who are guided (Quran 16:125) [3]. No creationists deny the fact that Science itself is benign and does not have Language, Region, Religion and no definition in term of living and nonliving whether tangible or intangible and in all such spheres it is acceptable and respectable. Islamic Philosophy gives a distinction between religious and worldly (empirical) knowledge & education that: Subject of Religious education is mankind which not only teaches for after world but for present world also, whereas worldly education is for present world, so to do good deeds for afterworld in the present world and have faith in oneness of God in accordance with the knowledge granted through revelation, in Islam there is no restriction on acquiring empirical knowledge based on truth for the betterment of mankind.

Materialism in Education & Science[edit]

There is a high correlation between materialism and atheism as atheism is fundamentally a materialistic philosophy. Materialism is delivering education to student leading them to undervalue unseen aspects of life. They are also undermining science making it an atheistic intellectual progressive property. Materialism teaches that if one talks of immaterial existences it means he is talking of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul.

At times, pro-materialists suggest secular education as step for reconciliation on the other hand propagate something else as Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist and one of the today's leading advocate of Darwinian evolution quotes in his book (God Delusion) … to the secularist founding fathers of postcolonial India, especially the religious Gandhi (I am a Hindu, I am a Moslem, I am a Jew, I am a Christian, I am a Buddhist!), and the atheist Nehru: The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organized religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests. Nehru's definition of the secular India of Gandhi's dream (would that it had been realized, instead of the partitioning of their country amid an interfaith bloodbath) might almost have been ghosted by Jefferson himself: We talk about a secular India . . . Some people think that it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct. What it means is that it is a State which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities; India has a long history of religious tolerance . . . In a country like India, which has many faiths and religions, no real nationalism can be built up except on the basis of secularity.

Study of the above statement is self sufficient to suggest that denial of god is for desire of godliness in delusion for the creations that had not been created by that one. Any academic student of the political and social sciences can derive a simple conclusion that playing with extreme sentiments is an intellectual crime. In Islamic terminology it is not a war amongst mankind instead a war between man and a supernatural knowingly is called Ablees i.e Shaitan (an Elf by origin and an angle by portfolio after service of 6000 unknown years prior to Adam & Eve).

Religion and non-religion knowledge[edit]

In Islam there is no distinction between secular education and religious education. Amongst other personalities, two famous are: Khawaja Naseer Uddin Tusi (Minister to King Halako Khan) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) whose book “Shifa” consisting of 18 volumes is well known in West and Europe, [4] both were not only religious scholar and clergy but also cosmologist, logician, theologian and scientist of their time (Islamic Golden Age). Therefore, it is rationally obvious that there is no conflict between religion and science in IslamicCreationism. Materialist’s propagation of some pessimistic view as a general concept of Islamic thought is a biased tendency and negation of universal truth. Theologically, creationism provides that one must use his intellect until he reaches the rational limit and beyond this limit, he must listen to the teaching of Prophets and Imams. Teaching of Prophet is received through revelation, in the broad sense revelation is guide and empiricalknowledge is tool for intellect to apply, thus no conflict between empirical knowledge and revelation (Divine) can be deduced. The Noble Quran is not a scientific treatise. It is a book of guidance and a book of wisdom. Again and again the Quran urges men to use their reason, to ponder and to reflect, while materialists think there is conflict between religion and science. In Islamic Creationism revelation and empirical knowledge both are branches of science. Quran is a divine guide for whole mankind and not only for Muslims and there is no theory that could be refuted or falsified, hence conflict with modern sciences is beyond perception, that is why Muslims claim that this Quran is a guide & code for social science, in no way is a scientific treatise. Without truth and justice (equilibrium) no knowledge is accepted and respected and all subjects of such science are termed as Pseudo i.e. Pseudo Science. Creationism does not apply this term for benign mistakes or researched based non-designed errors and unintentional wrong projection of scientific investigation. Creationists do not claim the science as their intellectual property they declare its ownership propriety for all mankind just as the Muslim’s Quran is for whole world. There is question, where are seculars?

Importance of Ilm (Science) and Education in Islam[edit]

It may be said that Islam is the path of “knowledge.” No other religion or ideology has so much emphasized the importance of “ilm” (knowledge & wisdom). In the Quran the word “alim” (an scholar) has occurred in 140 places, while alilm in 27. In all, the total number of verses in which ilm or its derivatives and associated words are used is 704. The stuff of knowledge like book, pen or ink etc. have been reiterated to almost the same number. Qalam (pen) occurs in two places, al-kitab (book) in 230 verses, among which al-kitab for al-Quran occurs in 81 verses. Islam never maintained that only theology was useful and the empirical sciences useless or harmful. This concept was made common by semi-literate clerics or by the time servers among them who wanted to keep common Muslims in the darkness of ignorance and blind faith so that they would not be able to oppose unjust rulers and resist clerics attached to the courts of tyrants. Other words associated with writing occur in 319 verses. It is important to note that pen and book are essential to the acquisition of knowledge. The Islamic revelation started with the word “ iqra” (read! or recite!).

According to the Quran, the first teaching class for Adam started soon after his creation and Adam was taught all the Names. Allah is the first teacher and the absolute guide of humanity. This knowledge was not imparted to even the Angels. In Usul al-Kafi (a shia book of Hadith) there is a tradition narrated by Imam Musa al-Kazim (7th Imam of Shia by default) that “ilm” is of three types: ayatun muhkamah (irrefutable signs of God), faridatun adilah (just obligations) and sunnat al-qa'imah (established traditions of the Prophet). This implies that ilm, attainment of which is obligatory upon all Muslims covers the sciences of theology, philosophy, law, ethics, politics and the wisdom imparted to the Ummah by the Prophet. Islam actually does not consider any type of knowledge as harmful to human beings. However, what has been called in the Quran as useless or rather harmful knowledge consists of pseudosciences or the lore’s prevalent in the Jahiliyyah (ignorance). In brief, it may be justifiably claimed that the Islamic theory of knowledge was responsible for blossoming of a culture of free inquiry and rational scientific thinking that also encompassed the spheres of both theory and practice. [5] .

Philosophy & Ilm AL-Kalam as Science in Islamic Creationism[edit]

It is true that Arabs were not familiar with philosophical thoughts. Beginning of marginal philosophical discussion can be seen after translation of some books of Greek philosophy into Arabic in the second century Hijri of Islamic Calendar (722-822 A.D.). Half hearted welcome to the philosophical concepts had seen a turning point when a number of philosophical books were destroyed and dumped into ocean in the 3rd century Hijri by fundamentalists on the motivation of rulers of that time for safeguarding their vested interests. In the fourth century Hijri (922-1022 AD), credit for revival of philosophy in the Islamic Hikmat (Scince & Wisdom) went to Al-Farabi, who strived hard for restoration of this branch of knowledge and education. This endevour was further boosted by Avesinna and other Islamic thinkers and clergy namely, Shaikh Shahabuddin Umar Soharwardi (born in 539 Hijri/1145 AD), Ibn Rushad (born Hijri 520/AD 1126) etc. After Khwajah Nasir Tusi (born Hijri 597/1201 AD & died in Hijri 672/1274 AD), Saddaruddin Muhammad Sherazi (979 to 1050 Hijri) is that Islamic philosopher who established the philosophy on mathematical patterns by removing the lacunas of assumptions with rationality making room for religious and empirical knowledge as branches of Hikmat (Science & Wisdom). Saddaruddin Muhammad Sherazi had written about 50 books and magazines one of his classic book is “Asphar” in four volume. He also attempted to produce the theory of nucleolus motion. However, prior to Saddaruddin Sherazi, similar attempts were tried by some Islamic scholars e.g. Shahabuddin Soharwardi (writer of Hikmat-ul-Ishraq in Arabic) during sixth century Hijri and Shamsuddin Muhammad Tarka (an 8th century Hijri philosopher/1322-1422 AD) [6].

Ilm al-Kalam: For a definition of ilm al-kalam, it is sufficient to say that, it is a science which studies the basic doctrines of the Islamic faith (usul al-Din). It identifies the basic doctrines and seeks to prove their validity and answers any doubts which may be cast upon them. Besides theological belief some beliefs of Mu'tazilah ( that is an school of Islamic doctrines), regarding physics concerning the modern science are reproduced below for evaluation of relationship between religious and empirical knowledge [7] :

(i) Physical bodies are made up of indivisible particles. (ii) Smell relates to particles scattered in air. (iii) Taste is nothing but the effect of particles. (iv) Light is made up of particles scattered in space. (v) Interpenetration of bodies is not impossible (this belief is attributed to some Mu'tazilah). (vi) Leap (of particles) (i.e. tafrah) is not impossible (this belief, too, is attributed to some Mu'tazilah).

Modern Science & Islamic Creationism[edit]

Confining to a limited approach, it is considered that Creationism refers to a wide range of beliefs, whereas most of us place all creationists in one group and all materialists/evolutionists in another. In fact, besides Islamic Creationism, there are varieties of Creationism like Young-Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Progressive Creationism, Day-Age Creationism, and Intelligent Design Creationism etc. Creationism and Materialism (e.g. Ancient Greek Materialism & Modern Materialism) both are old concepts with changing styles and can be traced out prehistorically. With undeniable relation of parentship, creationism is older than materialism approach and rationally acceptable in term of life origination of mankind.

The Old name of Knowledge in the Islamic theology can be traced with the term of Ḥikmah, which includes both wisdom and philosophy and any division or sub-categorization of knowledge had been marked as Ilm (Science) of that particular subject e.g. Ilm-ul-Hayat (Biology), Ilm-ul-Falkiyat (Cosmology or Astronomy) etc. Generally the Hikmah or Hikmat is taught and Ilm is gained, one who teaches was called as Hakeem not only a Doctor but also a Master (literally scholar). This statement can Historically be traced out with reference to empiricalknowledge, IslamicCreationism (Hikmat & Knowledge) recognized the Aristotle as First Master and to Abu Nasar Farabi (generally called Al-Farabi) as second, who was known in the West as Alpharabius and a renowned scientist and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age. He was also a cosmologist, logician, and Musician. This fact is a rational proof that empiricalknowledge in Islamic Creationism does not account for religion, region or language. The true picture is that it recognizes not only to Revelation but also to empiricalknowledge and discusses both branches on case to case basis and declares that true knowledge is real science whether open or occult.

Islamic Creationism prescribes that if there are two theories then one is wrong, therefore, knowledge granted by revelation holds yes and no criteria for creationists and materialists or evolutionists. There are no differences with regard to application & education of scientific method and technological advancement, Creationists and materialists or evolutionists do not have separate system of science. However, intellectual attack from materialistic side is obvious by using the term of Metaphysics asserting this term in a narrow sense to means the opposite of science, stating that Science uses "left-brain thinking", reason and scientific method to come to an understanding of reality. Metaphysics uses "right-brain thinking", reason in the service or intuition, or even intuition or imagination alone.

Big Bang theory a copy concept[edit]

Man contemplates everything around him and tries to understand its essence. He asks himself that how did the universe come into existence? Does it have a beginning? That is why most of the atheists, materialists or evolutionists have accepted the theory of Big Bang without giving any credit to a creator and ignoring the cause of Big Bang event. Acceptance of theory is itself a Cosmological/Astronomical belief, as we know that before describing or writing a theory without practical or personal observation, it is just a belief, whereas belief is a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true. So the Big Bang theory is a Scientific belief as well as a theory for materialists or evolutionists accepting it an event of chance or accident.

With reference to Islamic Creationists view point the theory of Big Bang is not a new concept for the mankind in general, in fact it is a copy concept as Islamic Books have already contained such explanations and point to point information, vide book “Nahjul Balagha in Arabic” and its translation into English as Peak of Eloquence (ISBN: 0-941724-18-2 Pages 248-262) is just a reference.

Concept of Evil in Creationism and materialism[edit]

There are two kinds of evil: moral and natural. Moral evil is sin, such as murder, rape, abuse, terrorism, or genocide, whereas natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes wreak havoc, vehicles crash, diseases and horrific wars. In creationism evil is a derived action and may not necessarily be the divine actions e.g. murder/rape etc. However, owner of all things (God) may award punishment through natural evils like earthquakes, feminine & diseases etc. Derived Actions clearly concern to powers bestowed to mankind and other livings with accounting thereof in good and worse rewards in the present or afterworld life. On the other hand materialism is unable to give a clear concept on this topic; however, main branch of materialism (Atheists) considered the religions responsible for evils!

Real Conflict and a challenge[edit]

Real conflict from materialist side is labeling to all creationists as owner of pseudo science, declaring god as hypothesis and considering religions responsible for social evils. The view point from creationist side may be derived from following citation:

Among People: it is believed that a large part of conflict exists in the world because of a failure to understand each other, whether it is in our businesses, in our homes, in our houses of worship, in our communities, in government or in conflicts between nations. It is believed that often the true source of conflict is a failure to communicate with each other, to listen to each other but more importantly to really express empathy to what others are saying. When we speak we usually try to convince someone else why we’re right. Even when we try to listen to another we still often listen to what they say but interpret it in terms of our own narrow context [8].

In response to challenges raised hereunder, materialists are unable to respond or pay heed for giving a future timeframe:

He will destroy the earth after its existence, till all that exists on it will become nonexistent. But the extinction of the world after its creation is no more marvelous than its first formation and invention. How could it be otherwise? Even if all the animals of the earth, whether birds or beasts, stabled cattle or pasturing ones, of different origins and species, dull people and sagacious men -- all jointly try to create (even) a mosquito they are not able to bring it into being and do not understand what is the way to its creation. Their wits are bewildered and wandering. Their powers fall short and fail, and return dazzled and weary, knowing that they are defeated and admitting their inability to produce it, also realizing that they are too weak (even) to destroy it! [9]



(1) - Exploring the Scientific Miracle of The Holy Quran By: Dr. Mohammad N. Wagdi, Ph.D.

(2) Creation of the Universe : The True Description from Islam, Author: Kamillah Khan Publisher: Tawakkul Publications (March 2010) ISBN: 9780615355030

(3) Evolution and /Or Creation: An Islamic Perspective by T. O. Shanavas (Author)

(4) An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam (Prometheus Books, 2007) by Taner Edis Associate Professor of Physics at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO, USA.

(5) Leaman, O. (1985) An Introduction to Medieval Islamic Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (A general approach to the role of philosophy in Islam.)

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