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Modern Science And Materialism

What is real? This question has puzzled many what is really real or what is
reality. Reality as I shall explain is one that is according to materialism and
proven by science. Materialism is defined, as the metaphysical view holding that
matter alone is real. This is what Hugh Elliot proves in his argument Modern
Science and Materialism. By use of his argument I will answer the questions of
what is real, what humans need to know, if it is possible to know what is real
and how, how to distinguish real for non-real, where humans fit in, and how we
can benefit from materialism. First, what is real? Reality is only one thing,
and it is all principles of matter and energy. When you reach out and touch
something it is matter, when you look to the skies all around you sense this
reality of matter and energy from the light in the sky to the ground beneath us.


Elliot says that the “universe consists of matter and energy in a state of
permanent change.”(Pg. 307 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot) What
Elliot is saying is matter is all objects being discerned, energy consisting of
motion, heat, light, sound, electricity, and etc., and permanent change is real.


This permanent change means that everything when you take a look around our
universe it never stands still relative to the rest of the universe, and even
science has proven this with the second law of thermodynamics it states that all
systems will change spontaneously to less ordered. Now this is a scary thought
that we wouldn’t be able to grasp reality if it always changes on its own.


This raises a serious question, how can we understand or live according to
reality if it always is changing? Well, there is no need to worry about this
fact of change, because we can understand how it works we our not helpless
against nature. The universe will change according to Elliot and science, but
the universe is not a chaotic place. It has procedures or fixed sequences that
is follows it gives us humans’ knowledge about events so certain that we can
predict the future. Elliot also states this he says that the universe “it
follows certain fixed sequences-usually called laws-which are so definite that
even in the present state of knowledge many future events can be prophesied with
certainty.”(Pg. 308 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot) Yes, now we
have something to follow according to reality it is these, as Elliot states,
laws. But unlike the laws of the government that are sometimes hard to follow
these laws of the universe our “fixed sequences” that can’t be broken, and
what a relief. I have already mentioned one of these laws, but there is still
others that govern us for our good. One is the law of gravity that states that
large masses will exert a pull on other masses, and this is a law for the good
of mankind. For if large masses didn’t attract we would lose our atmosphere to
space and so too we would be blown out into space. Yet, we have these laws that
govern reality, but is it possible for us to gain the knowledge of all reality?
Well, for us as humans to have knowledge we must have the facts, the ultimate
facts of reality. When a mind has a small amount of real facts the reality that
he constructs is less real. The more facts that we can accumulate the closer we
get to true reality or what is really real. Hugh Elliot knew this he states”before we can discern the deeper relationships of existence and the universe,
we must know about these ultimate facts.”(Pg. 308 Modern Science and
Materialism, Hugh Elliot) This is how is we know reality we must construct it
out of facts, and as Elliot stated we must know about these ultimate facts. This
is what makes Elliots argument so easy to believe because he knew where to go to
get these facts he gained knowledge before he gave his argument. To make this
easy how many times have you thought that for sure you knew something and then
as your education grows you see the world in a new light? Therefore it is
possible to know what is real, but how? We already know that to have knowledge
we need fact, but where and how do we get the facts that are consistent with
reality? Hugh Elliot understood exactly where knowledge comes from he states”all human knowledge is derived by observation and experiment.”(Pg. 308
Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot) This is the source of facts, this
is truth, and this is the ground on to which knowledge is built. By following
this procedure many things have been learned and proven. Sir Isaac Newton tested
his observations of falling matter by using experiments to find out the facts on
the laws of gravity. And because of the knowledge that became available it has
changed our world for the better. We were able to use the fundamentals of this
law to make and use machines. Our world went from an agricultural society to one
of a booming industrial, space travel became possible, and countless lives have
been saved. Although one law helped to change our understanding of the world
there is much more that others have gathered. All knowledge that is based of the
fore mentioned procedures have been gathered together into the various fields of
science. This is where we can go to look for our answers to questions on
reality. This is where Elliot argues we must go he says “the first thing to be
done in any search after philosophic principles is to travel over special
sciences with a view to extracting from them such information relevant to our
purpose.”(Pg. 308 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot) this is where
we get the knowledge it is here that others like us who want the truth have been
going and they are also the ones increasing our knowledge through science. But
can we be sure that what many like ourselves have constructed are real? How can
we distinguish it from unreal? Well, to determine what is really real we have
some guidelines that we can follow, and this is what Elliot says he denies”any form of existence other than… existences that have some kind of
palpable material characteristics or qualities.”(Pg. 310 Modern Science and
Materialism, Hugh Elliot) This is the first guideline we can use to identify if
something is real or not. Elliot is saying that we can let go of any ideas that
wouldn’t fit in to a world of matter and energy. No longer do we need to
believe in a world of gods, spirits, or an entity called mind. When we sense
something we know that it is matter out there and when we are thinking about
anything that mental event is real too. Elliot continues this idea by saying”every event occurring in the universe, including those events known as mental
processes and all kinds of human actions or conduct, are expressible purely in
terms of matter and motion.”(Pg. 310 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh
Elliot) The second guideline humans can follow has major implications for humans
thought of the universe. Elliot states “scientific materialism warmly denies
that there is any such thing as a purpose in the universe.”(Pg. 309 Modern
Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot) What this means is that if we are going to
try to figure out this vast universe we don’t need to look for purpose the
reality has its laws of matter and energy. The universe has its laws to which it
follows, beyond those it is a universe that sole purpose is none. This also has
implications for humans as well. Where do we fit in this reality? Well, if you
even pondered that question you are concluding that humans are somehow exempt or
special in the universe, but according to Elliot “the universe, down to its
smallest parts, is regarded by primitive superstition as existing for the
special benefit of man.”(Pg. 309 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot)
And so Elliot says it is because of the small mind that we believe that we are
significant. Yes it is because we see the universe from our own eyes that we
believe we are special, and this view is one of the uneducated. It is because of
the knowledge of the sciences and our search for facts that we start to see that
the universe is very different then we perceive. Elliot argues this when he says”our education endows us with a wider out look and wider knowledge, we can
come to see that the objective universe is very different from our own private
subjective universe.”(Pg. 309 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot)
From the knowledge of science we have learned that no god ever created the
universe with any purpose, and now we know that we are not significant in the
cosmos. Even throughout history we somehow saw the humans species as central to
the universe like the idea that the universe revolved around the earth. It took
us centuries of knowledge before we even realized that the earth is just one of
billions of planets out there not even a big planet at that in the universe. It
does seem sad to answer our question about whether we are important or not with
this “the human species is, indeed, a mere incident in the universal
redistribution of matter and motion; its existence has not the smallest cosmic
significant.”(Pg. 310 Modern Science and Materialism, Hugh Elliot). Although
it may seem like a horrible conclusion to our lives it does offer hope and
benefits never before dream possible. We are now truly free, no longer do we
have to fear a god who will strike us down, or have to worry what we should do
in our lives. We control our lives, and we do what we want to, and no ones will
do we bend except that of reality. If these are not good enough benefits, then
just think how wonderful it is to know, to have gained the knowledge, that we
understand reality. When we go out side we can enjoy the smell of a rose or feel
the warm air on our cheek and know that it is real. We can also benefit by being
able to figure out how things work but just understanding realities laws, and
also that our lives our here because of these laws. So we can benefit,
understand, and learn to appreciate all that knowledge of reality has taught us.


Thus, when we know think of reality we can now say we understand it. It is
purposeless, always changing according to laws, and it is all matter and energy.


We have come to terms that it means that the only things that are real are those
that go according to those things. There are no gods, or spirits, or any
nonphysical entities like mind. We also know now that our place in reality is
insignificant, but that it doesn’t mean that we need have no happiness because
of this. We can now enjoy life in total freedom always learning and growing in
this knowledge. May you take to heart what has been given you so you can enjoy
your life along with those like you who today are happier because of what they
now know.