1 Feb 2010
Chomsky was at his best in Language and Mind arguing against behaviourist, mechanistic ideas about language. It's a shame that he went on to develop a rather mechanical approach to language: generative grammar. And his politics are ghastly. But he's right in the paragraphs quoted here.
The socio-biologist reduces man to beast, often as a way of making excuses for male promiscuity. So does Islam. Coincidence?
2 Feb 2010
I enjoyed this article. However, I must point out that your idea of science is a little misguided, I fear.
Science is not a quest to accumulate facts. It is a philosophy of reasoning that tells us only how we should go about discovering facts. There are very few facts in this world that are not disputed. That grass is green may seem to be a fact at first glance. But what is green? What is grass? Why is it that we perceive grass to be green? Is it still green in the dark? If we shine infra-red light at it, it no longer appears green. So what colour is it really?
Our idea of what a fact is changes from generation to generation. In our own generation, for example, statistical disparities in the economic outcomes of different ethnic groups are widely considered to be evidence (particularly amongst lefties) that racial discrimination is at play. One hundred years ago, the same statistical disparities were used to argue that those same ethnic groups were genetically inferior to the rest of us.
Therefore, an important aspect of a "fact" is how we are conditioned to perceive it prior to observing it. Were you to ask Gary Kasparov to look at a chess game and relay the "facts" of it, he would almost certainly say something very different to a non-chess playing member of the public, who, rather than seeing a complex pairing between knight and castle, resulting in an inevitably checkmate, would instead comment on oddly shaped pieces of wood placed mysteriously and without purpose on a checkered board. The notion of a "fact" is very much in the eye of the beholder and the task of scientific enquiry is to constantly challenge the assumptions that underpin what we perceive to be fact using a set of rational enquiry tools.
That's all!I otherwise enjoyed the article, thank you!
By this rationale I find your description of science a bit too limited to be of valuable input to the crux of your argument.
2 Feb 2010
I really enjoyed this article. My take on "science" is somewhat different from yours.
I wish you had taken the time in this article to bring forth the idea of "progressive diminishment of man" via the route of religion.
Keep up the great work of education that you do.
3 Feb 2010
I very much enjoyed this.
7 Feb 2010
Thank you for an extremaly perceptive argument Rebecca. I always enjoy reading you.
Recently visiting Syria with a local guide who is a Christian, he made the point of distinction that Christianity was a religion because it was spiritual whereas Islam was not a religion because it was wholly material and its prayers mere vain repition clothed in empty physical gestures. This squares with the comment about Islam toward the end of your article.
I thought your point about the similarity of our genes with those of a dog as proof of the inadequacy of the material explanation (when human language, art, culture and I would add religion are taken into account) brilliant. I will make use of this insight! Thank you.
7 Feb 2010
This is an old, old argument. What is the path to knowledge or the true? Do we follow the inward path? Do we follow the outward path? This is much of the difference between Plato and Aristotle.
There are also echoes in the founding documents of Christianity. In the Gospel of Thomas we find: "Jesus said, If the flesh came into being because of the spirit, it is a marvel, but if the spirit came into being because of the body, it is a marvel of marvels.
What is primary? Is it mind or is it matter? Maybe it is probability amplitudes? David Mermin once speculated on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics that maybe only correlations have existence not correlata. This reminds me of your suggestion that patterns exist but not forces.
Perhaps Love is the key that allows a balanced treading of both the inward and outward paths. The insistence on the supremacy of any one concept or systems of concepts (such as miond or matter) will limit you and impede your progress.
Good luck. Jim Rose
1 Mar 2010
Rebecca Bynum is a pro-slavery right-wing authoritarian, who is angry at scientists. Why? Scientists teach people to use logic and ask for evidence to back up a statement. This is dangerous for right-wingers, as it makes it harder for fundamentalist pharisees and corporatist politicians to invoke religious infallibility, a principle they need to defend the kleptocracy of their corporate paymasters, and to protect the perverted pharisees leaders of religious fundamentalism.
Pro-slavery pro-corporate authoritarians like Bynum are angry because scientific successes have demonstrated that asking for evidence to back up a statement is an effective way to improve our knowledge of the world. This they cannot tolerate! Right-wing authoritarians who serve the corporate kleptocracy must make sure that ordinary people are NOT taught to apply logic, or to ask for evidence to back up a statement. If that ever happened, powerful people--rich corporations, the corrupt pharisee leaders of religious fundamentalism, environmental rapists and monopolists -- would be held accountable for the destruction they've wrought-- or at least, they would be publicly shamed as the mass killers they are.
But authoritarians like Bynum will stop that from happening. How? Ridiculously, Bynum will protect her corporate overlords by lying to her readers about simple scientific facts.
Bynum lies to her readers that science "...cannot tell us what electricity is..." How pathetic! Even the stupidest D students in physics classes know that electricity is electrons moving in response to an electrostatic field!
This statement is a lie; she may try to weasel out of this lie by moving her goal posts, as anti-science thumbsuckers always try to weasel out by moving goal posts, but nothing she says can make this lie the truth.
Bynum lies some more: "Scientists observe the elliptical movements of the planets and the mathematical precision of the orbits of electrons around the atomic proton, and postulate the existence of forces to explain these motions, but they cannot tell us what these forces actually are." Another lie: quantum field theory says that fundamental forces are mediated by the momentum exchange of virtual bosons (particles of integral spin.)
Bynum compounds her lies when she says science "can no more predict that one hydrogen and two oxygen atoms combined would create water..." Again, lies: quantum mechanical simulations reproduce the formation of oxygen-hydrogen molecular bonds.
When I was a physics TA we had one class called "Physics for blondes" that was intended for cheerleaders and humanities majors--but even in that class, even the very stupidest students understood what electricity is!
There certainly are mysteries that science cannot solve now, at the cutting edge of research (for example, dark matter, dark energy). But anti-science crackpots are never interested in cutting edge research; for some reason I don't understand, anti-science authoritarians have an uncontrollable, sick compulsion to LIE about scientific problems that were solved decades, or centuries ago! Why? Is it some weird compulsion you can't control, like when OCD people wash their hands over and over? What, what, WHAT compels you right-wing authoritarians to lie about science!? What the hell is wrong with you people!?
Bynum must admit her basic, simple, obvious errors, not weasel out and not move her goal posts.
Now here's a real major lie, perhaps the whole reason why Bynum wrote her piece-- trick people with a bunch of pseudo-intellectual babble, then slide in her most essential lie:
Islam is, in essence, an extremely materialistic religion with many similarities to secular materialism: both remove human dignity and envision man as a slave.
Ah ha, we see what you did there! You want your readers to believe that "secular materialism" is the same as Islamic terrorism. Bynum must lie about this because Islamic terrorists, in their own words, say that they share the anti-materialism and anti-secularist values with Christian fundamentalist pharisees and with Rebecca Bynum. In their own words, Islamic terrorists make it clear that they are going to kill us, not because they share scientists' "secularist" or "materialist" values, but because they hate "materialism" and "secularism", they hate science, freedom, democracy and equality-- just like Bynum and Christian fundamentalists do. Here's an anti-secular Islamic terrorist bomber in his own words:
...in a prison interview, Mahmud Abouhalima, convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, stated that his war isn't against Christians but U.S. "secularists" who are exporting their way of life to the Muslim world....living in America allowed him "to understand what the hell is going on in the United States and in Europe about secularism of people, you know, who have no religion." He said the United States would be better off with a Christian government because "at least it would have morals." ...In his interviews...Abouhalima made it clear that his Islamic brothers have no fight with Christianity. He said the holy war is caused by the U.S. government supporting "enemies of Islam," such as the state of Israel... ...Abouhalima was asked what he thought of all those secular people walking around the streets of Cairo and New York, while he sat in federal prison for trying to blow up the World Trade Center. He called them lost people, nonbelievers who lacked the "soul of religion." Then he said: "They're just moving like dead bodies." [Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/2001]
Bynum has to lie about "secular materialism" because it is inconvenient for corporatist authoritarians that murderous Islamic terrorists, in their own words, say they share the exact same values and presuppositions as fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and Ted Haggard and Rebecca Bynum.
Furthermore, American creationist anti-evolutionists, like Henry Morris and Duane Gish, went to Turkey in the 1990's to inflame Islamic extremists in their hatred of science and the separation of Church and State. Turkey has a secular government (for the time being) but US anti-science creationists would prefer an Islamic extremist creationist theocracy over the current secular government-- so much so that, since the 1990's they have traveled to Turkey to lie about scientific facts and inflame Turkish extremists' hatred of scientists and secular government and pluralistic tolerance-- just like Rebecca Bynum does, but to a more vulnerable audience. Thanks to US anti-evolution fundamentalists, the Islamic world now has a very angry, anti-secular, anti-science, anti-democratic movement.
Mustafa Akyol, the leading anti-evolutionist Intelligent Design supporter in Turkey, blackmails the West by telling us that we must abandon science, evolution and secular pluralistic government, or else his Muslic co-religionists will kill us all.
Muslims think that the West is a completely materialistic civilization that has turned its back on God. They are afraid that their children will be poisoned by the same ideas if they go to modern schools or follow the Western media...Unfortunately, that is one of the factors that create a breeding ground for radical Islam.[Source: testimony of Mustafa Akyol to the Kansas State Board of Education. May 7, 2005.]
Translation: "America-- convert to anti-science, or we'll kill you." He states clearly that Islamic terrorists are anti-materialist, anti-secular and anti-science authoritarians-- exactly like Rebecca Bynum and US fundamentalist authoritarians. Here's Akyol on anti-evolution:
Muslims should also note the great similarity between the arguments of the [anti-evolution] Intelligent Design Movement and Islamic sources. Hundreds of verses in the Qur’an call people to examine the natural world and see in it the evidence of God... What Intelligent Design theorists like [Michael] Behe or [William] Dembski do today is to refine the same argument with the findings of modern science. In short, Intelligent Design is not alien to Islam. It is very much our cause, and we should do everything we can to support it. [Source: Islam Online.net. Why Muslims Should Support Intelligent Design. By Mustafa Akyol. emphasis mine.]
The Kansas City paper, The Pitch, details the arguments used by Islamic extremists in their opposition to evolution-- which exactly mirror American fundamentalist anti-evolutionists, specifically Henry Morris' Institute for Creation Research. One Islamic extremist organization, the BAV, attacks scientists with arguments identical to that of American fundamentalists like Bynum:
Turkey is a secular country that aspires to join the European Union and boasts several institutions of higher learning on a par with good Western universities. But beginning in 1998, BAV spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught Darwinian theory. Professors there say they were harassed and threatened, and some of them were slandered in fliers that labeled them "Maoists" for teaching evolution...
But seven years after BAV's offensive began, says Istanbul University forensics professor Umit Sayin (one of the slandered faculty members), the battle is over. "There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war," Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. "In 1998, I was able to motivate six members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement. Today, it's impossible to motivate anyone. They're afraid they'll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV."
...The organization's source of funding and internal structure are well-guarded secrets, Sayin says. The Turkish government, he adds, refuses to take an interest, tacitly encouraging the ongoing effort against scientists. "It's hopeless here," Sayin says. "I've been fighting with these guys for six years, and it's come to nothing."
As a result of the BAV campaign and other efforts to denounce evolution, he adds, most members of Turkey's parliament today not only discount evolution but consider it a hoax. "Now creationism is in [high school] biology books," Sayin says. "Evolution is presented [by BAV] as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives ... and the majority of the people believe it."
...Sayin says that creationism in Turkey got key support in the 1980s and 1990s from American creationist organizations, and [Truman State University physicist Taner] Edis points out that BAV's [Harun] Yahya books resemble the same sorts of works put out by California's Institute for Creation Research. Except in Yahya's books, it's Allah that's doing the creating. [Source: The Pitch. By Tony Ortega. May 05, 2005. Emphasis mine.]
Bynum must lie and slander scientists as being pro-slavery, because it is she and her fundamentalist authoritarian pharisees who are literally pro-slavery and the closest equivalent we have to Islamic extremism. Here's Bynum's ploy to deflect attention from the pro-slavery extremist platform of the fundamentalists:
It is because science has progressively diminished man in his own eyes that philosophy has been stunted...both [Islam and secular materialism] remove human dignity and envision man as a slave... The reinvigoration of Western culture must include the restoration of man to a place of dignity in a meaningful universe.
Let me get this straight. The Bible specifically sanctions slavery [Exodus 21, Leviticus 25] and in many places sanctions the rape of war captives [Deut. 20:10–15; Deut. 21:10–14; Num. 31:1–47; Isaiah 13:16; Judges 5:30; Judges 21:10–14]; and these very same Bible passages were used by fundamentalists for 100+ years to rationalize slavery on US soil, even into the 20th century (see below); and Bynum has the guts to accuse secular humanists and scientists of being pro-slavery!? Wow, that takes chutzpah.
It sure as hell takes chutzpah for a right wing authoritarian to accuse scientists or secular humanists of opposing human dignity, when it was her fundamentalist pharisee leaders who literally legalized slavery on US soil in the 20th century also! It was fundamentalist Christian and Jewish rightists, specifically the corrupt and racist Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed, who made indentured servitude legal on the US Mariana Islands. And did it in the name of corporate "freedom". What could be a greater destruction of human dignity than religious fundamentalists making virtual slavery legal AGAIN on US soil? They were not motivated by the pluralism, equality, science and rationality that liberals value--no, their demolition of human dignity was, as we'll see, motivated by religious fundamentalism and right-wing demands for total obedience to rich corporations.
It was religious fundamentalism that inflated their corrupt amorality, their belief that they would never be held accountable for their actions. In Abramoff's emails we saw his racism toward American Indians when he was extorting Indian tribes for money. But of course, the people enslaved on those islands are Asians, not white. In this case, the racism of the religious right wasn't just words, like in Pat Robertson's "Haiti earthquake is God's revenge" racist slander--this time it was real people being enslaved on US soil! But they're not white, so that's all right as judged by fundamentalist authoritarian values, right, Bynum?
But this modern day, right wing authoritarian destruction of human dignity and enslavement in the name of religion and corporate power was just a replay of the 19th. century, when fundamentalists of the Bible belt used religion to destroy the dignity of black people, and enslave them. A partial list of fundamentalist pharisee theologians who supported black slavery:
James Henley Thornwell. Below, when Thornwell says "atheism", he means "opposition to slavery"; his critique is exactly the same as the attacks on "secular materialism" launched by Rebecca Bynum and her modern day, pro-slavery, right wing fundamentalist co-religionists. You people don't change, you just change your marketing.
The parties in this conflict [slavery] are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders - they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, Jacobins on one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground—Christianity and atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity at stake. -- J. H. Thornwell (1845).
And by "regulated freedom," Thornwell means slavery, in exactly the same way that religious fundamentalists today like DeLay, Abramoff and Ralph Reed legalize slavery for non-whites in the Mariana Islands in the name of "freedom"-- the freedom of big, rich corporations to enslave poor people. Same old, same old.
Next, Rev. Richard Fuller “What God sanctioned in the Old Testament [slavery, see Ex. 21 and Lev. 25], and permitted in the New, cannot be a sin.” (1845)
John Henry Hopkins, author of "A Scriptural, Ecclesiastical, and Historical View of Slavery" (1861).
Robert Lewis Dabney, Southern Presbyterian pastor, supported slavery in the name of religion before and after the Civil War, and founded the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas. Dabney's writings inspired the 20th-century anti-evolutionist creationist super-racist pro-slavery theologian John Rousas Rushdoony. Rushdoony in turn influenced much of the modern religious right, like D. James Kennedy. Pat Robertson's Regent University, which turns out reams of anti-evolution anti-scientist fundamentalists, was named after Rushdoony's theological ideas.
Rev. William Johnson (Southern Baptist), who said Baptists ministers would be free “to promote slavery as a Bible institution." Also, Iveson Brookes, Nathan Price (Presbyterian), William Brownlow (Methodist), etc. etc.
Charles Darwin. Oops I forgot, Darwin opposed slavery his entire life and opposed racism in "The Descent of Man"!
John Patrick Daly wrote a book on the pro-slavery fundamentalists, and called it "When Slavery Was Called Freedom," by which he meant the 19th. century. But it's still true today. Religious fundamentalists were on the side of slavery and against human dignity in the 19th. century, they supported slavery in the 20th. century and they support it now.
Just as in the quote from Thornwell above, fundamentalists called slavery "regulated freedom" then-- and today, authoritarian fundamentalists like Rebecca Bynum, DeLay, Ralph Reed, and Abramoff still insist that the rich can enslave the poor, whites can enslave non-whites, Americans can enslave non-Americans, in the name of "freeedom" for coporations, monopolists, environmental rapists and for the rich. Right wing authoritarians like Bynum want to crush anyone who holds the corporate overlords, monopolists and environmental rapists accountable for the destruction they cause.
Science is dangerous because it teaches ordinary people to ask for evidence and think logically. This is dangerous for the authoritarian destroyers of human dignity and enablers of modern slavery like Rebecca Bynum; so they are forced to say the most ridiculous lies imaginable.
Read more or comment at this blog.
14 Mar 2010
I'm working to make sense of your post...what? What's that? Oh, sorry, I have to go serve my corrupt corporate overlords now. After that I have a secret meeting at the Vatican to attend. I suppose this will have to wait.
15 Mar 2010
You write: "Even the stupidest D students in physics classes know that electricity is electrons moving in response to an electrostatic field!"
I don't believe it will do to "define" electricity by using electricity - charge is electricity too, I believe.
You write: "quantum field theory says that fundamental forces are mediated by the momentum exchange of virtual bosons (particles of integral spin.)"
Virtual bosons are not actually an observed aspect of reality, are they?
You write: "quantum mechanical simulations reproduce the formation of oxygen-hydrogen molecular bonds."
That wasn't my point, my point was that no one could possibly predict that two combustible gases would combine to produce liquid water.
And I'm afraid I will stand by my assertions about Islam's essential materialist nature. If materialism were a religion, it would look an awful lot like Islam. Mustafa Akyol seeking to ally himself with Christian creationists changes nothing about my analysis. And furthermore, when you cite the opposition of Muslims to secularism, I must point out that Western secularism and materialism are too different things. I really don't think secularism alone can stand over the long term against Islam.
I'm afraid you've missed the gist of my article concerning free will. If the materialists are correct and man is nothing more than his physical form, then the values by which free will is measured are meaningless, and man is simply "tricked" by his genes to think he is serving a higher cause than himself. In reality he is enslaved to genetics, enslaved to matter and freedom is an illusion. I don't see how one can draw any other conclusion. The social Darwinists set this out quite plainly.
I am not anti-science, I simply am pointing out where I believe science has overstepped.
As to all that rant about physical slavery, I have no idea what you're talking about. I was addressing mental and philosophical slavery.
All the best, Rebecca
30 Mar 2010
First, I apologize for the strident and excessively accusatory tone of my last comment. I apologize for accusing you of being pro-slavery. There is no implication in your writing that you are pro-slavery, racist, etc. I have edited and toned down the corresponding posts on my blog; the links to which are given at the bottom of this comment.
However, while my critique was overbroad, it is still true that your characterization of science is cartoonish, your statement that Islam is "materialist" is absurd, and your equation of "materialism" with slavery and opposition to free will, is both inaccurate and biased.
You throw around a lot of terms that are very poorly defined--"materialism", "free will"-- and it's clear that you want them to be poorly defined, so that you can gloss over the self-contradictory and illogical aspects of your argument.
The fact that you define Islam as "materialist" is proof that you have redefined the word "materialism" somewhere, sneaking it in like we won't notice.
To have a fair analysis, it is crucial to define such terms precisely and objectively, and then don't redefine them halfway through.
It is common nowadays for right-wingers to demand thjat scientists (especially evolutionary biologists) swear allegiance to supernaturalism, by telling schoolkids that scientific problems are unsolved and unsolvable, even after-- especially after-- they've already been solved. Basically, scientists must lie to schoolkids, or else they're atheists.
Now Rebecca Bynum adds to this the accusation that, not only are they atheists, but they're also in favor of slavery. Why? Because problem-solvers solved some problems and think more problems are solvable? This is a ridiculous slander.
And police detectives are not required to do the same thing. If a police detective has solved many crimes, and is working on solving more crimes, the right wing does not force the detective to tell schoolkids that he never caught that murderer he caught decades ago-- or tell kids the murder must have been committed by invisible fairies or elves or witches, and the crime will forever be unsolvable, thus proving fairies exist.
No plumber is told that if he tries to fix your drain, and does not attribute your drain problems to invisible fairies, then he is an atheist and in favor of enslaving mankind.
No, only scientists-- not police detectives, not forensic experts, not plumbers-- only scientists are told that if they attempt to solve difficult problems, they're goddamn atheists and trying to enslave mankind.
That is anti-science. Ridiculously biased. No plumber or police detective would put up with that, why should scientists?
Now, back to the way you evince bias in your redefinition of terms, particularly "free will" and "materialism".
There are countless preachers on TV who assert that you're a materialist if you believe this universe is the only one--no Heaven, no Hell.
The definition of "materialism" used by the Discovery Institute (anti-evolution) is that the universe is a closed system of causes and effects. But of course to assert the opposite as the DI does, is to assert as a theology that central scientific problems are forever unsolvable. This mean that if scientists seek to solve new problems, or if they truthfully describe previously solved problems as being previously solved, they are atheists by definition.
By the above defintions, Islam is obviously, obviously, OBVIOUSLY not materialistic. Suicide bombers really do believe they're going to get 72 virgins in Paradise. Why would someone who believes matter is all that exists, blow himself up to go to an invisible Paradise?
This trick you pulled is crooked for two reasons. The first sneaky trick you pulled was in redefining "materialism" as meaning "being against free will." You have probably noted that "Islam" means "submission to God." So your logic (insofar as you have any) appears to be, Islam is anti-free will, therefore it is materialist. Both these terms are poorly defined, but they cannot be the same--as we'll see in a moment.
Second, you're stating that Islam envisions man as a slave, and you imply Islam does this to a greater degree than Christianity and Judaism. Bull.
Christians are always telling us that we must obey God and God's representatives on earth, obey, obey, obey, we're God's slaves and toys and playthings. Orthodox Jews have to obey, obey, obey. Calvinists do not even believe in free will. Islam is not particularly worse than Christianity or Orthodox Judaism in this respect. (Granted, Islam does envision women as possessions. But for men, it's no worse than Catholicism.)
To state again: neither materialism nor anti-materialism are the same as being for, or against, free will. Religious people are not materialists, yet many religious people are against free will. Especially Calvinists, who believe you can't even choose to get saved by Christ and go to Heaven; Calvinists are more opposed to free will than atheist neuroscientists.
The concept "free will" is very poorly defined, and you don't define it. But there are many definitions of "free will" that may be consistent with the (eventual) solvability of all scientific problems-- or may not be.
If you define "free will" as the inability of humans to completely determine or control human behavior, then free will might be compatible with a universe where all scientific problems are eventually solved. Because there might be permanent limitations to our knowledge or control, owing to the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics and the dynamics of chaotic systems, the complexity of neuroscience, technology limitations, etc.
Moreover, your attempt to classify modern science and Islam as "materialist" is a chauvinists' naked attempt to deny the many parallels between conservative Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, by putting them in the "materialist" pro-slavery box with scientists, while your conservative Christian and Jewish friends are in the saintly "non-materialist:" pro-freedom box.
Consider the use of anti-materialism in the history of anti-Semitism. For centuries Christians accused Jews of crimes that were empirically unprovable and unfalsifiable. For example, Jews would be accused of having desecrated communion wafers, then killed in a pogrom. Because there's no scientific test for "desecrated", there was no way for Jews to defend themselves against this charge.
From the eighteenth century onward, the non-empirical accusations shifted to accusing Jews of being what you would call "materialist", especially in German theology and philosophy. The theologian Michaelis simply asserted that Judaism was not a religion, because Jews did not believe in salvation by faith; they only had a moral code that must be obeyed. That made Judaism just an exclusive private club, not a religion. The philosopher Schopenhauer asserted that Jews were "immanent" and not "transcendent" like Christians, thus he said they were what you call materialists. This promoted stereotypes of materialist, worldly (therefore greedy and scheming) Jews. In this tradition, the Nazis opposed materialism and atheism (many quotes to prove this), and Hitler thought Schopenhauer was a genius.
I am certainly not accusing you of anti-Semitism, obviously. I am pointing out how chauvinism and discrimination are promoted by making accusations of intangible states that cannot be empirically verified or falsified. Jews could not disprove the accusation that they were "immanent not transcendent." Likewise, scientists cannot disprove that they are not "materialists", except by lying and telling schoolkids that already-solved scientific problems were not solved.
Throughout history, chauvinists have employed accusations of undetectable, intangible states to justify putting people they don't like in the same mental box with people who do bad things (scientists with Islamic terrorists, in your case; Jews with sorcerers and witches, in the Middle Ages). And sometimes, they put them in an actual physical box.
You stick in the same pigeonhole people you don't like with real criminals (scientists with Islamic terrorists); and then in the other pigeonhole, put your conservative Christian and Jewish friends, and imagine your side is inherently, innately different and better. Why? You're not materialist, like all the bad people are, so that makes you pro-freedom and good. Right.
And you wish away your side's history of blood, and your shared responsibility for the mess the world is in.
I will now address your grievous science errors.
You write "I don't believe it will do to "define" electricity by using electricity - charge is electricity too, I believe." No, it is not. Electricity is moving particles that have the property of charge.
You write: "Virtual bosons are not actually an observed aspect of reality, are they?" But anti-scientists redefine the word "observation" in contrived ways so as to exclude experiments whose results they don't like. (e.g. Transitional fossils.) Quantum field theory can predict some particle interactions with an accuracy far exceeding one part in a billion, the most accurate scientific predictions in all of history, much more accurate than Newton's law of gravity, by far. Field theory is more well-confirmed than the Earth going around the sun, literally. Also, Casimir pressure experiments directly measure the forces exerted by virtual particles. Virtual particles literally push two metal plates together.
You write: "my point was that no one could possibly predict that two combustible gases would combine to produce liquid water." Wrong, it is predicted by scientists who employ quantum mechanical simulations on supercomputers to predict the formation of molecular bonds.
And lastly, here are the links to my blog posts on the fake opposition to materialism:
Hilariously bad science errors by anti-scientists opposed to "materialism": http://lamp-of-diogenes.blogspot.com/2010/03/creationists-and-anti-science-right.html
Anti-science creationists and Islamic extremists agree in their opposition to "materialism": http://lamp-of-diogenes.blogspot.com/2010/03/fundamentalists-creationists-and.html.
What is this opposition to "materialism" really about? http://lamp-of-diogenes.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-is-right-wing-war-against.html