Last night, I was talking with some of my graduate student friends at our local pub. I would call them believers in the theory that consciousness is generated by brain tissue. By contrast I am one of those who says, “Brains come from consciousness” when we look at the world from its absolute substance (which we are). Despite our conversation my two friends remained materialists. The conversation moved to talking about science and its direction. I let them know about my view of science. They let me know about their view of science; that it doesn’t require faith (code word for religion).
I said that science does require dogmas in the sense of unjustified and unproven assumptions about reality, for example, there is no reality except material reality or consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the brain as with Carl Sagan’s claim sans evidence: “The cerebral cortex, where matter is transformed into consciousness, is the point of embarkation for all our cosmic voyages.”
I finally walked home and thought more of our conversation. I found it interesting that science gets a free pass with its unproven dogmas. On the other hand, religion, including theoretical knowledge and the paranormal, can’t have a free pass because they rest on first-person experience which doesn’t count much in the world of the empirical sciences. Science has to see consciousness in order to prove that it exists. It has to see the substance of the universe as something for the senses which, by the way, it still hasn’t managed to see. The way science looks at things, it is inconceivable to believe that the fundamental basis of existence is not, itself, an existent thing like an acorn.
According to science, why would anyone wish to take up a religion like Buddhism? There is no proof that there is an ultimate reality which is much more real than what the instruments of science can view and manipulate. Oh, but wait! We are confusing science with materialism. Materialism seems necessary insofar as we have no other way of answering the question is there any other reality besides matter? It is all most people perceive; it agrees with common sense. On the other hand, materialism tells the average person nothing about life in the same way that biology tells us nothing about life. It only tells us about living organisms, their structure and behavior. Studying the brain also, tells us nothing about life or the nature of mind or consciousness.
Materialism can tell us nothing about life which seems obviously at work in a vital being as compared with a dead body which is lifeless. One may even be led to suspect that the more we engage with materialism the less life has meaning for us. Our life begins to mean nothing. And as we sense it gradually becoming nothing we drink more of the poison of materialism. By this, we only hasten our suffering and death.