Materialism: The Superstition of an Age
by: Harun Yahya
Ancient Greek thinkers imagined that all bodies consisted of tiny particles called atoms. They maintained that these atoms shaped the universe and all living things, without intention or direction and without being subjected to any conscious intervention. According to this belief, matter was timeless and eternal, and nothing beyond matter could exist. Supernatural events that intervened in entities’ behavior and altered their structures was sheer superstition, unacceptable. All axioms and principles were based on the assumption that matter was an absolute reality.
Since matter was eternal, the universe must be eternal as well, and that idea served as the foundation of atheism. If the entire universe had existed for all time, then according to the perversion of materialist belief, it was impossible for matter and the universe to ever have been created.
According to materialists, the universe was eternal, and therefore, there was no purpose or special creation in it. Materialists imagined that all the balances, equilibrium, harmony and order in the universe were solely the results of chance. They claimed that everything came into being as the result of unconscious atoms assembling at random. And no matter how much complexity, balance and magnificent regularity exhibited by the external world, these were still the result of purposeless coincidences.
Materialist minds had held this preconception or idée fixe ever since the days of Ancient Greece. Since materialism rejected the concepts of purpose and creation to the universe, it also denied the existence of a Creator. To be strictly accurate, materialism was a philosophy which had been formulated to reject Allah (God). Many movements, ideologies and intellectual systems that rejected belief in Allah were, similarly, rooted in materialism. In other words, materialism was the most influential religion of atheism.
Stanley Sobottka, a professor of physics from Virginia University, describes the perversion of materialism in these terms:
If we believe this way [believe in materialism], we must conclude that everything, including ourselves and all of life, is governed completely by physical law. Physical law is the only law governing our desires, our hopes, our ethics, our goals, and our destinies. Matter and energy must be our primary focus, the object of all of our desires and ambitions. Specifically, this means that our lives must be focused on acquiring material goods (including bodies), or at least rearranging or exchanging them, in order to produce the maximum material satisfaction and pleasure. We must expend all of our energy in this quest, for there can be no other goal. And in all of this, we have no choice, because we are totally governed by physical law. We may feel trapped by these beliefs and desires, but we cannot shake them. They totally dominate us.
A succinct, personalized, summary statement of materialist philosophy is, “I am a body.” (Stanley Sobottka, “A Course in Consciousness)
In Ancient Greece, materialists held that religious adherents were illogically opposed to science. For that reason, materialists throughout history have sought to give the impression that belief in Allah and science are incompatible. In fact, however, science has increasingly showed evidence of His existence, and those discoveries worked against the materialist mindset that fought against belief in Allah.
This included Darwinism, of course. The struggle against Darwinism is basically an attack on its materialist origins.
Throughout the course of history, materialists claimed that entities consisted merely of assemblages of atoms, and that the human brain was nothing more than a network of neurons. They were unable to account for the human mind, and attempted to explain it as the electro-chemical interaction between its neurons.
Materialists had no qualms about describing themselves as animals or machines. They denied that they had the status of entities with consciousness and claimed that they had come into existence by chance. Yet this was a grave misconception and a lie fabricated in order to deny Allah.
In the words of the quantum particle physicist Stephen M. Barr, of the Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, these people who believed in the absolute reality of matter were almost no different from the pagans of the past. Just like the ancient pagans, materialists describe humans as essentially sub-human. Pagans deified matter; materialists did the same thing by denying the soul and reducing everything to the level of matter. Pagans declared that events were determined by the orbits of the planets and the stars; materialists claimed that they were controlled by the ebb and flow of the hormones in their brains. Pagans prostrated themselves to worship in front of false animal deities; materialists claimed that they were no more than animals themselves.
(Stephen M. Barr, “Retelling the Story of Science,” March 2003)
Amit Goswami, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Theoretical Science, describes the fundamental logic with which materialists sought to indoctrinate people:
We are conditioned to believe that we are machines—that all our actions are determined by the stimuli we receive and by our prior conditioning. As exiles, we have no responsibility, no choice; our free will is a mirage. (Amit Goswami, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World, Tarcher/ Penguin Books, 1995, p. 12.)
The fact is, however, that Allah created man. And man is not an entity devoid of purpose and responsibility. Contrary to what materialists claim, man is not an unthinking machine. Man is an entity with a responsibility to Allah and will be held to account for all his deeds in the Hereafter.
The materialist logic that seeks to divert people away from this fact has been evident at all times throughout history, ever since the days of Ancient Greece. Yet it was only in the 19th century that this belief spread and became established as a settled intellectual system. In the 19th century, the great majority of classical physicists thought that the fundamental components of matter were inanimate and indivisible atoms, just like tiny billiard balls, and that the perfect regularity and complexity in the universe were the result of the random motion and compounds of these atoms. In their view, everything on Earth, life included, came into being by accident through a series of blind, unconscious processes. Atoms established unreasoning unions and gave rise to the world we see with all its perfect features—and also to ourselves, with our minds and consciousness.
By setting out these claims, materialists sought to indoctrinate people with the idea that man was not made by a Creator and that apart from matter, nothing existed. The fact is, though, that man was obviously created with perfect systems and mechanisms, through an extraordinary mind and intelligence. There were no unconscious processes on Earth of the kind suggested by materialists, and no unthinking structures and systems arose as a consequence. Everything displays a complexity and sublimity that often exceeds the capacity of human minds to comprehend, and so perfect are these details that they exclude all possibility of chance. The Earth itself reveals proofs of creation.
Despite these facts, however, materialists insisted in their claims that unconscious atoms were the basis of all things. So what, according to materialists, were these atoms, the source of all else that exists?
In one respect, we now know that the atom is an almost complete void, and that is a proven fact. We can explain this as follows: If you imagine the atomic nucleus, comprised of neutrons and protons, as a pinhead just 1 millimeter (0.039 of an inch) in diameter, then an electron revolving around that nucleus does so at a distance of 100 meters (328 feet)! (Taskin Tuna, Ol Dedi Oldu: Big Bang’in Nefes Kesen Öyküsü, October 2005, Sule Publications, p. 59)
In this considerable volume between the nucleus and the electrons, the only thing that exists is empty space. This 100-meter void is literally empty. That is why in one sense, experts are justified in regarding the atom as an empty vacuum. In the words of the British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington, matter is mostly ghostly empty space. (Peter Russell, “The Primacy of Consciousness) To be more precise, it is 99.9999999% empty.
Fred Alan Wolf, a particle physicist at the University of California describes this fact regarding the atom:
If you stop to think about it at all, you might realize that life on planet as we live it is really a surprise, considering just how empty the universe really is. In fact, the universe is more than 99 percent nothing! And considering that the universe is still expanding at an alarming rate, it’s getting to be more nothing than it ever was!
So while looking out at it leaves us in awe, when we consider the microworld of subatomic matter, it’s even worse. There, nothing exists in spades, so to speak. (Fred Alan Wolf, The Spiritual Universe: One Physicist’s Vision of Spirit, Soul, Matter and Self, Moment Point Press, 1999, p. 99)
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was known that there was a giant empty space inside the atom, which was regarded as the smallest component of all things, and that this space contained a nucleus and electrons revolving around it. However, only the general lines of matter—the atom and its fundamental parts—were understood. So what was there in the atomic nucleus, in a space just 10-18 kilometer in size, or one millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a kilometer? That was something unknown to scientists.
In the 1960s, a most significant scientific discovery was made. It was realized that in the depths of the proton, there were particles known as quarks. These extraordinarily minute particles caused protons to have a positive electric charge, and neutrons to have no charge. Research eventually revealed the presence of a gloriously complex world in what comprised just 0.0000001 of the atom.
The more that materialists descended into the depths of the atom and the more extraordinary details they saw in matter’s smallest building block, the more they sought some solution by developing their theory in another direction. In order for the entire universe to form unconsciously and haphazardly, they had to explain how not just atoms but also the world inside the atom,—in other words, the motions of sub-atomic particles—had come into being. The idea that matter was the only thing that existed survived in the materialist mind, until the discovery of quantum physics.