An interesting critique of materialism from an unlikely source


#1

The late British fantasy writer, Terry Pratchett, ended his book, Hogfather, with this interesting critique of materialist thinking:

Terry Pratchett’s publicly stated religious views were clearly atheist/agnostic:

“I think I’m probably an atheist, but rather angry with God for not existing.” In a 1999 interview he told Anne Gay, "I’m an atheist, at least to the extent that I don’t believe in the objective existence of any big beards in the sky. . .
http://www.celebatheists.com/wiki/Terry_Pratchett

As stated in the video do people really need to believe “lies” such as justice, mercy, duty, etc. even if they have no material existence?

If so, what is the difference between belief in these ideals and religious belief?


#2

"You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become [true.]

I love Terry Pratchett and his philosophy as extolled in his books. But people should read the whole of The Hogfather to understand what Death is getting at.


#3

Yes, the context makes more sense if you see the movie or read the book.

A definition of materialism is the belief that all that exists is some form of matter or energy, which leaves no place for justice, mercy, duty, etc. Terry Pratchett seems to make the point that bringing justice, mercy, etc. involves an act of faith.

According to the link in the OP, “he rejects supernaturalism but considers himself culturally and morally Christian.” Is it possible to be a Christian and be an atheist at the same time?

If someone claims to believe in God but denies justice, mercy, and other values that Christ preached can they still be Christian?


#4

Sure there’s a place for justice, mercy, etc in a materialist framework.


#5

Justice and mercy are not based on particles of matter. They have no physical reality.

How does that fit into a purely materialist framework?


#6

Absolutely they are based on particles of matter and energy.


#7

Cool, what is the chemical formula for mercy?


#8

That’s tricky. I guess it’s possible to believe in the teachings of Christ which are some of the greatest ideas the world has ever seen and not believe that he is the son of God.

I consider myself to be Christian but my faith gets shaken everyday by religion and events. I separate from God quite frequently.


#9

. . .what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Is it possible to walk with God and not recognize that God is there?


#10

The concepts of mercy and justice are derived from observation of physical phenomena as much as the speed of light is derived from the study of matter and energy.


#11

Is a concept matter or energy? Materialism denies that anything exists outside or matter and energy.

Modern physics shows that the physical universe does not agree with materialism; physics is dependent on the observer: