Modern scientists use the model of materialism because they believe it is necessary to practice science. For example, in a classic article on quantum physics, entitled, “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” the authors, Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen, write, “Any serious consideration of a physical theory must take into account the distinction between the objective reality, which is independent of any theory, and the physical concepts with which the theory operates.”
The late Ernst Mayr, one of history’s leading biologists, expressed the subject this way:
“Despite the openness of science to new facts and hypotheses, it must be said that virtually all scientists-somewhat like theologians-bring a set of what we call “first principles” with them to the study of the natural world. One of these axiomatic assumptions is that there is real world independent of human perceptions. This might be called the principle of objectivity (as opposed to subjectivity) or common-sense realism. This does not mean that individual scientists are always “objective” or even that objectivity among human beings is possible in any absolute sense. What it does mean is that an objective world exists outside of the influence of subjective perception. Most scientists-though not all-believe in this axiom.”
Even though the objective-world model is a popular viewpoint — since everyone wants there to be a “real world independent of human perceptions” — it does suffer from one notable flaw: no one has ever shown it is either true or necessary. Indeed, no one has shown that science cannot be practiced within a different conceptual model. If there is one criticism modern scientists deserve is that they have convinced the public at large that only within the materialistic model is the practice of science possible; using any other approach, they announce, veers off the road into unscientific religious dogma and new-age hocus-pocus.
Another drawback of the materialistic model is that it has forced modern science down a series of dead-end streets as it attempts to piece together a complete theory of the cosmos while being shackled by its own model. Here is a short list of the conundrums material science now faces:
- The origin of the matter and energy that exploded in the Big Bang
- The mechanism for inflation
- The source of the laws of nature
- The character and existence of dark matter and dark energy
- The difficulty of reconciling the particle/wave duality of quantum physics with objective reality
- The incompatibility between quantum physics and gravity
- The origin of life and the DNA molecule
- The origin of consciousness
- The manner in which nature’s laws appear fine-tuned just so life can exist.
Despite these deep quandaries, modern theorists give no thought to the notion that the source of the problem might not be their incomplete understanding of a mind-independent material world, but rather the very model of materialism.
Would scientists be willing to try a new model of the universe if it explained more but made them discard many of their materialistic-based theories? Or, are modern scientists so wedded to the model of materialism that they would rather practice science within this comforting — but ultimately false — model rather than try something different that might ultimately explain more and lead to a better theoretical framework?
Suppose we took the view that matter emerged from mind rather than the other way around? If this alternative viewpoint is in fact true, should we ignore the world’s make-up and go on practicing science only within the materialist model, or should we at least determine whether science can be practiced in this mind-generated, dream world and see where that leads us?
What is Science?
Science is commonly defined as “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a “pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.” Empirical science,
“seeks to explore, to describe, to explain, and to predict the occurrences in the world we live in. [Scientific] statements, therefore, must be checked against the facts of our experience, and they are acceptable only if they are properly supported by empirical evidence. Such evidence is obtained in many different ways: by experimentation, by systematic observations, by interviews, surveys, by psychological or clinical testing, by careful examination of documents, inscriptions, coins, archeological relics, and so forth.”
Another feature of science is that seeks to furnish natural explanations for physical phenomena, as opposed to supernatural or immeasurable, untestable, or unverifiable explanations. This feature helps explain why scientists generally prefer Darwin over Genesis for accounting for the variety of life-forms present on the Earth: Darwin offered an explanation verifiable by observation; Genesis simply says God did it, without explaining how. As we will, we will not need to discard any of these features of science if we change to a mind-created or dream model of the cosmos.
Why the Independent World Assumption is False
There are several critical problems with materialism’s assumption of a mind-independent world. But while modern scientists show no hesitation in questioning theories and ideas framed within the materialist model (such as string theory, multi-universes, or the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics), they never once question the underlying assumption of their own materialistic model. This is the critical error of modern science.