Chapters 8-10 in Greg Koukl’s The Story of Reality cover some broad territory as he discusses the nature of Nature and God. Greg has some unique names for these concepts:
- Chapter 8: Matter-ism
- Chapter 9: Mind-ism
- Chapter 10: Options
(If you are new to this series, check out the first post and the intervening posts to put this in context.)
Brief Road Map
- Look at the Venn diagram of overlapping circles representing Mind and Matter.
- Matter-ism ignores non-physical realities of the mind, objective moral duties, love, evil.
- Mind-ism ignores physical realities of the body. The material world is Maya (illusion).
- Christianity acknowledges the reality of BOTH mind and matter.
Some call it materialism or physicalism. It is the view that space time matter and energy are all that exist. Koukl points out that this is the story that most atheists, most “skeptics”, most humanists, and most Marxists believe is true.
On this view, we are ONLY co-located atoms, bags of meat and bones. Humanists might allow that we are special creatures due to our high level of function. But even this is increasingly seen as “speciesism”.
Talking about human rights and animal rights sounds very nice, but on Matterism, THERE ARE NO RIGHTS. There are only atoms. Any scheme of rights is merely one social system’s opinion of the way they want things to be.
(I was very careful to avoid using the phrase “the way things ought to be” because on Matterism, there are no OBJECTIVE oughts.)
There is also no overarching Purpose if we are merely a collection of atoms.
Our own frustration that the “world is not how it SHOULD be” is evidence that Matterism is leaving something REAL out of its vision of reality. There must be more to reality than just matter in motion.
In Mindism, an all-encompassing mind is the ultimate reality. This is not the personal God of Christianity but rather some unknowable Divine Mind. It is in everything and everything is in it. You are somewhat familiar with this view as The Force in Star Wars.
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
This view is present in Hinduism and Buddhism. A common phrase is:
“All is One; Brahman [God] is Atman [self], and Atman is Brahman.”
According to many schools of Hinduism, the world is an illusion, a play of the supreme consciousness of God. It is a projection of things and forms that are temporarily phenomenal and sustain the illusion of oneness and permanence. The illusion of phenomenal world is created and sustained by standalone objects thrown together either by an act of randomness or through the deliberate choice of conscious will.
Our scriptures declare that creation is the play of consciousness. It differentiates itself into diverse things and in the end withdraws everything into itself for no apparent and specific reason because God does nothing with any particular aim or desire. – Says the Yoga Vashista
Notice how in Mindism, either we become the mind and are god, or we are completely lost as we are absorbed into the mind of god. Either way, this is a distorted picture of the way we intuitively see the world, see ourselves, and see our moral obligations to each other in the present and in the future.
Mind AND Matter
Christianity operates in the overlap – the way things actually are. God is non-material, but he created a real material world with knowable and useable physics and mathematics.
We being made in His image are rational thinkers in physical bodies. God is a personal being, and we are personal beings.
[Genesis 2:7 ESV] 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground [material] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [spiritual], and the man became a living creature.
[1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV] 19 … do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
As you come across the claims of your friends, Internet celebrities, TED Talk lecturers, even your professors, listen carefully to what they say about reality. If they are telling you things like “There’s no such thing as free will”, “Life is an illusion or Maya”, or even “God is in all. All is in God, and You are in fact God.” Then you know they are not describing reality.
This deep knowledge of right and wrong, this bedrock intuition that there is a purpose to life, and this wonder at the interplay between mind and matter makes it clear that reality is greater than the reductionists claim.
To participate in this discussion, comment below.
Or if you are on the SHSU campus this spring (2017), come discuss this book with our Ratio Christi at SHSU chapter that meets Fridays at Noon in LSC 307. Bring your lunch and feed your soul.