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 IAmAnAtheist » Dogmatic Materialism

Dogmatic Materialism

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

Two people waiting for a delayed plane at an airport

Barbara: If the delay goes on much longer, I’m going to have to get something to eat.

Caden: Me too. I’d feel better if they’d at least tell us what the problem is.

Barbara: Yeah. "Mechanical issues" really doesn’t mean a whole lot. I wish I knew if it was weather or something mechanical.

Caden: I guess it ultimately doesn’t matter. The wait’s killing me.

Barbara: Yeah. It’s good that they take such good care of the planes, though. Did you ever hear of flight 401?

Caden: No.

Barbara: It was a plane that crashed because of a bad light on the pilot’s dashboard. After the crash, the airline reused parts of the destroyed plane to repair other planes, and the ghosts of the flight crew were seen haunting the repaired planes until the airline removed the cursed parts.

Caden: There’s no way. I doubt that a bad light could make a plane crash, and there’s no such thing as ghosts.

Barbara: You might be right about the light. I think it was something like they were distracted by a broken light and didn’t notice they were getting close to the ground. The part about the ghosts, though, is absolutely true. There are dozens of witnesses.

Caden: It doesn’t matter. There are no ghosts. Ghosts would be immaterial beings, and immaterial things don’t exist.

Barbara: How can you say that?

Caden: It’s just a fact. The material world is all there is.

Barbara: What about God, angels, and the soul? Wouldn’t you say that all those are immaterial?

Caden: None of those exist. Or, if they do exist, it’s only in the way that any other imagined thing exists.

Barbara: Just because something is imagined, that’s not proof that it doesn’t exist.

Caden: No, but something having the property of being immaterial is proof that it doesn’t exist.

Barbara: Really? Can you prove that?

Caden: I don’t have to. You can’t point to an immaterial thing, you can’t meaningfully describe one, and there’s not even a plausible way you could interact with it. I can’t even think of a way it would make sense for an immaterial thing to exist.

Barbara: Aren’t you limiting yourself by being such a strict materialist?

Caden: I’m not limiting myself; reality is limiting me. It’s the first law of metaphysics — "Nothing unreal exists." Immaterial things are not real, so they don’t exist.

Barbara: I think I’ve heard that, but does it apply to immaterial things? What if they do exist?

Caden: But they don’t.

Barbara: Then how do you explain people who witness ghosts and things?

Caden: Not by saying that ghosts are real. I wouldn’t consider a supernatural explanation for anything anymore than I would consider an explanation that violated the laws of physics. It doesn’t make any sense.

Barbara: I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.

Caden: Then it’s back to waiting for something to happen with the darned airplane. I wonder why some airline employee who knows what’s going on isn’t out here handling things and keeping us informed?

Barbara: Maybe there’s no informed airline person here because nothing unreal exists.

Caden: Funny.


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Posted on September 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

One Response

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  1. Written by rwsgate
    on September 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Of course, the very definition of “immaterial” is the absence of material, i.e. atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. Non-existent is not precisely the same thing as something could have existed (like dinosaurs) which are now non-existent, but for all practical purposes, they are synonyms.

    Any pilot who would be so distracted by a red light on the panel that he would stop flying the airplane should not be a pilot. Any airline that would reuse parts following a crash should have their heads examined. All airlines replace instruments long before they reach failure, generally on a schedule. Strict FAA guidelines insure that the planes meet maintenance standards. That’s why airplanes 60-70 years old are as safe to fly as if they were made yesterday (although probably not as easy to fly).

    I have friends who believe in ghosts. They show me pictures and insist that ghostly female figures are there. Pointing out (as a professional photographer) that they are just looking at light and shadows and interpreting it as figures doesn’t faze them.

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