Toward a Post-Materialistic Science


I came across a recent article by Dave Pruett in the Huffington Post discussing a “Manifesto for a Post-Materialistic Science” that was published in the Fall Issue of Explore. I had not previously heard of the “Manifesto” but it was written by eight reputable scientists and is long overdue to challenge the “religion” of materialism that is prevalent in many scientific circles and segments of modern Western society.

I encourage you to read the entire article here, but set forth below is an an excerpt:

“Science is at its best when open to the potential significance of “damned facts.” It’s at its worst when, constrained by dogma, it ignores them. History records that some of Galileo’s contemporaries, having peered through the telescope to observe the moons of Jupiter, denied the witness of their own eyes, believing these moons “illusions of the devil.” Such is the power of dogma.

Classical physics, which is based upon a mechanistic and materialistic view of nature, has been wildly successful. It’s brought us the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, mechanization, automobiles, air travel, and space exploration.

Quantum mechanics, however, supersedes Newtonian mechanics and undermines the classical assumption of materialism. Nevertheless, many, if not most scientists, remain as firmly locked into the ideology of “scientific materialism” as Galileo’s contemporaries remained in the thrall of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

The newest frontier of science is the study of consciousness, for which a materialistic bias is particularly prejudicial. That is, investigations of consciousness reveal phenomena that appear to violate the existing materialistic paradigm. Materialistically oriented scientists typically reject these so-called “paranormal” phenomena out-of-hand because they fly in the face of cherished preconceptions. The refusal to accept the “damned facts” at face value and confront them head-on is, according to the authors, “antithetical to the true spirit of scientific inquiry.”

The authors then propose a radical, post-materialistic paradigm: “Mind represents an aspect of reality as primordial as the physical world. Mind is fundamental in the universe; i.e., it cannot be derived from matter and reduced to anything more basic.”

* * *

The idea is neither original nor new. One can find intimations of this point of view in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Hegel, and articulation of it in the writings of paleontologist-priest Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and “geologian”Thomas Berry (1914-2009). What’s new, however, is the naming of the science of the future as “post-materialistic” and that the idea is gaining traction.

* * *

The post-materialistic paradigm grants equal primacy to mind and matter. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin: “There is neither spirit nor matter in the world. The stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could have produced the human molecule.”

Read Entire Article


About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog ( explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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2 Responses to Toward a Post-Materialistic Science

  1. Post-materialistic science would be a great step forward for humankind.

  2. Thanks for posting in this area of concern. As you know, I do love to encourage Christian and spiritual interests in science. One of the authors of the manifesto document, Rupert Sheldrake, is in my opinion one of the greatest contributors of science transforming to rediscover the necessity of understanding that God is the source of life and the laws of the universe.While it is correct that we as humans are unable to comprehend God, we must always strive to seek His guidance. I believe that God’s presence is gradual in human consciousness. However, consciousness is not derived from the brain and body. Thus we must transcend the human form to connect with consciousness and to progress in form to come to a higher spiritual conscious awareness. It is by this growing awareness that deepening acceptance begins to be inclusive in imitation of spiritual laws and that action (behavior) becomes positively inclusive and divinity-correcting.

    If I may add these references of interest for those that may like to know more about the joining of science with spiritual progression:

    Rupert Sheldrake, PhD,

    Rupert Sheldrake – The Science Delusion: Why Materialism is not the Answer

    Rediscovering God with Rupert Sheldrake

    Thanks so much for continuing in this blog and in your sharing an inclusive acceptance of expressions of spiritual progress.

    ~ Eric

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