15 Aug 2011
Excellent essay, Rebecca. I agree with you on all major points. But take heart; not all scientists are hard core materialists. There are quite a few of us who quietly feel as you do, that there is something missing in the materialist paradigm. But scientists, at least the good ones, tend to be drawn from the ranks of the Asperger-like, almost all possessing an extraordinary capability to focus on minutiae, so science has accordingly evolved with an emphasis on the particular at the expense of the general, and to exclude as unimportant things that aren't directly or indirectly perceivable by material instruments. This approach has not been without its successes, as I think anyone who reflects a bit about why airplanes fly and x-ray machines can take images of our innards would appreciate.
Yet, you are right. The picture is missing something; everything, in fact, that isn't measureable by physical instruments or describable in terms of physical laws. But while the materialists may have the advantage at the moment, in time the paradigm will be forced to change to include those things you cite that are missing, as well as others. The vocabulary that eventually emerges to encompass both the material and immaterial worlds within some sort of unified conceptual structure will probably be unfamiliar to both sides, though.
I have read your previous articles on NER expressing similar sentiments, and hope you continue to press this issue. It will only be by persistently pointing out the weaknesses in the materialist paradigm, as you do in this article, that science will finally be forced to become serious about these matters.
FWIW, the authentication question "2 + 1 = ?" the answer to which is required for submission of a comment, is an example of a question I pose to my students to illustrate the existence of nonmaterial things that we use to manipulate the physical world. The underlying point of the question is to decide whether the number "2" enjoys an independent existence outside the material world (you can't smell, taste, weigh, or destroy it, and it is persistent across eternity. No material entity can claim that.) This is perhaps trivial compared to the important questions you pose in your essay, but useful nevertheless for chipping away at the edifice of materialism.
18 Aug 2011
Eastview - I agree and I think mathematics is one of the best demonstrations of mind as an independent entity there is.
30 Aug 2011
Unfortunately for us, America has had an almost unbroken succession of weak and divided governments with vacillating leadership since the end of the Second World War.
Not sure what you mean by this, but on the face of it, this statement is flatly wrong. Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, and Reagan were not weak or vacillating. They didn't always make good decisions, but they did not make those decisions out of weakness.