To those of us who want to think deeply about what is right and what is wrong, what is best and what is worst, what we should and shouldn’t do, the question ultimately boils down to this simple question: What is morality, really?
There are two philosophies in the world today in competition for the hearts and minds of the people. The one we choose has profound effects on what we end up thinking about morality.
In one corner, is so-called “science”. That is, what the popular media spoon-feeds to the masses and labels “science”. It is the idea that nothing immaterial exists, that only the physical universe is real and nothing else. This philosophy doesn’t even allow things like math and reason to exist as a physical substance or particular configuration of substance. This makes math and reason wholly subservient to the material world. This is materialism.
It’s quite difficult to see materialism in the wild, and it’s even harder to get an honest definition of it. However, this doesn’t erase the fact that it exists and is being promulgated, often subconsciously. Statements such as “The only thing I know to be true is science” are really campaign posters for materialism.
The other corner has something called “realism”, because it represents more fully the world in which we live. In addition to the physical world that we all experience, there are things like math and science and thoughts and reason, logical or illogical, and minds and passions and meaning. That is, the super-natural realm of things, or things that simply cannot be contained in or constrained by the material universe.
The problem with realism is it logically leads to the conclusion of God, and then logically concludes with absolute, objective statements about morality. Realism is the wooden stake in the heart of all sorts of political philosophies, such as the modern-day liberalism (sic) or rather statism, and then the other philosophies such as socialism and communism.
Rather than disprove materialism, I want to focus on why this fight is so important. Disproving materialism is rather easy, since the philosophy that only the material universe exists is not, itself, part of the material universe and so if it were true, contradicts itself.
So let’s get down to the brass tacks of this discussion: Why is this fight so important?
Materialism teaches that the noble concepts of virtue, truth, morality, reason, logic, math, science, and other things do not exist, or rather, do not exist independent of matter. That is, these things are the creation of matter, and subject to its manipulation.
Realism teaches that these concepts are beyond the reach of matter, wholly independent of and even superior to it. Realism seeks to find out the principles and patterns that govern matter, including ourselves, and knowing these things, allows us to take advantage of them, even though we can’t manipulate them.
Suppose life is like a chess game where you cannot cheat. Materialists would have you believe that the chess pieces themselves determine the rules, and since we are a chess piece, we can change the rules if we really, really wanted to. They focus on this sort of tactic rather than studying the game and learning how to win, which Realists, consigned to the fact that the rules cannot be changed, are more than happy to do.
Materialists are like that kid on the playground who always makes up new rules so that he never loses. If you tag him, (tag is one of those games we used to play as kids where we actually touch each other and we treated one person different from everyone else), then he would make up silly rules about why the tag wasn’t valid, such as he had his fingers crossed or he was standing in the safe zone or he wasn’t even playing the game to begin with. When we were kids, our natural instinct was to ostracize and isolate such kids. The teachers would wonder why we wouldn’t play tag with him, and we would say, “Because he doesn’t follow the rules” and that would be that.
You can see the materialists trying to manipulate the rules in our society. They want to turn things like homosexual relationships, an obvious perversion of the plainest sort, into completely normal behavior, even virtuous behavior. They want to take people who have genuine mental health issues and believe they are something they are not, and turn them into a celebrated role model of what we should all do. Simultaneously, they take real heroes and try to turn them into villains, people who have sacrificed their lives, willingly, for the greater good, out of nothing more than a heartful desire to do good.
Pay attention to the people out there. One group is seeking to understand and exploit the rules, while the other side is focused on trying to change the rules. Which side would you rather be on?
It may seem tempting to be the one who changes the rules, but consider this: When you’ve manipulated the rules and you’re sitting on top, who’s to say the rules won’t change again and put you at the bottom? We joke that the Clinton campaign would “throw people under the bus” once they were no longer useful, but this is what actually happens. (Minus the bus part, of course.)
On the other hand, if you live by the rules, and others around you live by the rules, you need not watch your back and worry that someone will change the rules on you. The rules can be your foundation and center, and give you actual confidence in the future. Provided, of course, that the rules don’t change.