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Science and the Objective Fallacy.

Amusingly, the Encyclopedia Britannica article on consciousness relates one notion of the Skinnerian school of thought as being that, since the subjective factor of “mind” cannot be objectively apprehended as anything other than a physically reactive human functionality “we can only say that people behave “as if” they were conscious.” But how can you suggest that people behave “as if” they were conscious unless you agree that “conscious” behavior exists in the first place? Secondly, and far more importantly, how can we negate the subjective viewpoint of the mind and thence posit an only external, objective vision of human behavior, when the subjective position, i.e. our own “subjective” awareness, is all that we actually have by which to assess such behavior? That without this subjective awareness of human states unique to mind, there could be no psychology in the first place?

But this conceited inversion of logic we see in the behaviorist school of thought is not so much amusing as it is downright dangerous. Not only does it make a nonsense of the most inspired yearnings and capacities of the human mind and heart, its affect within the physical sciences promotes the vision of a hostile universe in which conscious life is little more than a kind accidental and often unfortunate fungus which occasionally spreads across planetary systems when the physical conditions are fortuitous.  It is true that his notion – that we are somehow a mere artifact or product of the extremely limited cosmos we apprehend – has ever set the background to even our most religious apprehensions of our place in the universe, but as a built in assumption within the materialist science which now has us in thrall of its technological magic, it is no longer a merely limited philosophical viewpoint set by a lack of greater knowledge, but a damning limitation of our humanity; a despicable creed which insists we cannot be anything other than that which the feted high priests of either religion or materialist science tell us we are.

Let us be quite clear about this. Today’s materialist science insists that life arises purely from the fortuitous mechanics of matter, and that consciousness is a secondary product of life’s evolved complexity. Thus, they assert, that in the profound silence and utter darkness of non-being, where no thing is aware, where neither stimulus nor registered reaction exist, things nevertheless “happen” between particles of energy in such a way as to form not only the “universe” but also the structures of life. Further, that at some point, at some miraculous moment, out of no thing, awareness suddenly becomes.

Science’s vision assumes an a-priori and objective, third person viewpoint from which it  posits the activities of “matter” before it became aware. I am quite sure science is not here championing the existence of God, so what is it doing? It is reasoning after the fact, taking its own human awareness for granted within a vision of the cosmos which pre-existed awareness. Science conveniently forgets that there is no such vision of the cosmos; that without some other godlike consciousness, there is no prior existence to anything. But science insists that matter precedes awareness. Thus in its view, matter must contain all the intelligence of nature’s evolved forms within itself; within its own laws. The laws of matter therefore pre-exist all creation. Matter then becomes the creator of all things, and reveals itself to us as no more, and no less, than God himself.

Within a reasoning which places all but mind into an objectified cosmos, there is no escape from this ultimate agreement between science and religion. The two are forced together, and indeed, were never separate in the first place. They differ only in the one minor area of focus, and both reveal to us the same ultimate position: that the workings of the entire universe are revealed in the study of its apparently objective parts, and that regardless of how you conceive him, whether as law or as love,  whether you come to him through the study of his justice or his mercy, an unknown and indescribable God rests at the bottom of all things.

The longed for eschatological peak of science’s investigations is the ultimate “theory of everything” in which all is explained. Some scientists and mathematicians believe we are even close to such a universe collapsing explanation. Study of the apparent facts and explanations science has amassed reveals a very different story however: a story whose reading  shows us that the scientific mind lives in a fantasized cosmos little different to those found in religious mythologies; a kind of “just so” universe in which the apparent or “objective” facts are overlaid with a grid of metaphysical explanation, any part of which has no more fundamental substance than its need to fulfill an explanatory role within a particularly biased representational image of archetypal forms.

Here, we encounter – both in religion and science -  the metaphysics of clunk working on the grandest of scales. The universe reveals itself to us as no more and no less than the projected imagery of our most discriminating ideas. Ideas which, at bottom, both arise from and are constrained by the laws relating what we call “psyche” to its material representation; laws whose function, and the specific values which arise from their dynamic relationship, create the very substrate and logic of our perceptions. Without an understanding of these laws; without a clear picture of our own conscious relationship to the cosmos we perceive, there can be no “ultimate theory”; nor can we assert, beyond our “commonsense” fashioning of subjectively satisfying explanations for phenomena, that we know anything fundamental about the universe in which we find ourselves.