Spirits in the Immaterial World

Matter: “It is fair to say that in physics, there is no broad consensus as to an exact definition of matter, and the term “matter” usually is used in conjunction with some modifier.” (Wikipedia – Matter)

Noam Chomsky on knowledge Rather, the material world is whatever we discover it to be, with whatever properties it must be assumed to have for the purposes of explanatory theory

Problem with matter is it’s hard to determine exactly what the hell it is (made of). This is the material world in which we find ourselves – everything is ‘matter’ and made up of many pieces. However, even matter in its finest building blocks cannot be truly identified. So what you see in front of you is ‘matter’ or ‘material’ – but what its exactly made of is another question.

Not the point. Now to the point via a diagram.

Immaterial      =>     Filter/Conduit     =>     Material

as

Idea     =>     Human Being     =>     Thing/Object

I was told an idea is not a living thing since it is ‘immaterial’…I will buy that to some degree. However it is ‘something’ since it is the construct to what will be made or shaped by the idea (which is immaterial).

For example, a political theory is not really anything but an ‘idea’. Is it something if I can write my theory down into a book? Does a political theory have to have some form of material expression (ie: a political party) to be considered ‘something’? Is the idea itself some thing, the building block for many ‘some things’?

There is a knock against faith in God – that its immaterial in a material world (and I am a material girl); which makes it legitimately useless and unknowable. Well faith in God is not much different than politics in its a conglomerate idea of many teachings that form a paradigm for living or viewing the world. We can also include economics in here and any social science and humanities area of study. Without material expression it functions in a realm of immeasurability (cannot be measured) and is thus useless.

Here is how the diagram works (a few examples):

No time for making supper => Restaraunt Involvement => Fast Food chains and drive throughs are created

Basketball was getting boring to watch => GM’s of league => All Star game and skills competitions

How can we save energy? => Engineers => various devices developed for energy efficiency (ie: appliance overhauls)

Teaching is to love my neighbor => person of that faith => I will help my neighbor cut his grass this week

The thing about ideas is exactly what faith teaches, if you can imagine it (idea) – it can be possible (thing/action/object). Faith is based in the idea of God, we cannot see God but we can look at His believers. What begins with an idea connected to faith in God, then becomes a tangible thing we can see or touch.

Everything starts as an idea (ie: political ideas or religious ones) and then moves into the hands of the conduit (ie: us) and is developed into something of material consequence (ie: an action, thing, or object). So what is reality exactly? The matter is not which came first – the idea or the material version of the idea – the question is – does the idea matter as much as the material version of it? Are directions as important as arrival?

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27 thoughts on “Spirits in the Immaterial World

  1. Your quote of Chomsky somewhat weakens your main premise in this argument. What is the one thing that Chomsky states must happen in order for there to be any type of knowledge? He states that we must “discover” something, i.e. materially speaking. Chomsky utilizes ‘discovery’ not as a mental thought experiment but as an actuality of what exists in the physical/corporeal world. If something is to be ‘known’ (i.e. description of its properties) then it must first be manifested, or else the very premise of ‘discovery’ is a failure.

    If we ‘discover’ God then god must be something that we can physically touch, taste, smell, etc. or else there is no basis for the materiality of a god. All the reverse and circular logic in the world cannot break that basic premise.

    What is existence? Descartes asked this a few hundred years ago and he was not able to completely answer it (“cogito ergo sum”). But, are you posing a materialist answer to something that is completely immaterial and personally-subjective? This may be akin to saying ‘we can know god because we have ideas about god’. This makes no sense at all. If we can ‘know’ god then this presupposes that a god must exist somewhere; but how do you support such an assumption without an actual discovery? In order to discover the properties of this god then it must be known in a materialist sense, and not in a subjective-ideal sense. Otherwise you will forever be trapped in that idealism without any relation to physical existence.

    Everything starts as an idea. The first cause is God. Matter is anything and everything even immaterial life.

    If this is your position on absolutely everything in this life then it will be impossible for you to completely support any materialist argument. The world for you is not a reality then, it is an abyss of sorts that has no real purpose in being material.

  2. I just re-read your argument and I am not sure that if it runs directly counter to Christianity as a theology? The main premise of Christianity is the humanity of Jesus and his reconciliation of humanity to God. Is this not the most basic premise and the reason as to why Christ’s symbolic death on the cross? If Jesus is not an essential (material) piece for humanity to know god then his life and its teachings are null and void. Thus Christ becomes nothin more than a failed conduit. You shave said that “if you can imagine it then it can be possible.” Then what exactly is the position of Jesus as the messenger of God (Son of God) if we can simply out imagine his purpose?

    Why not just imagine that we know god intrinsically and that Christ and his teachings are not imperative in knowing God. If this is true then you have proven that the entire premise of Christianity is based upon a farce. Christ died for reconciliation to god but why not just imagine that we are completely connected to god in every phase of our thoughts? Thus surpassing the materiality of Christ and going straight to the first cause, i.e. God. Christ then becomes a useless “conduit”, as you say.

    I would have no need to follow the material existence of the Christ-ethic if I can simply tap into God with my ideas at any time. If my faith (as an idea) is that powerful that it can manifest anything I will it to, then Christ did not live and die for me to be reconciled with God. Because why would God need a material sacrifice if we could all simply plug into god straight through our faith-idea?

    I think you have refuted the very premise of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah.

  3. “He states that we must “discover” something, i.e. materially speaking” (Johnny)

    Begs the better question, what is material? If you onyl live by what you can see, then a lot of things should automatically go out the window. Love is not a material thing, it manifests in material actions, but it’s essence is unpinnable since it can be an emotion. Gravity is not a material substance, sure we can view an apple falling at a certain rate – but the apple is the material action proving something unseen. In fact, many physics processes are ‘unseen’ yet we can prove via other actions and tests they exist. So does this make the unseen a reality – like gravity?

    Sure we cannot ‘test’ for God, but this is not a concern of science in the same sense as if love is their concern – trying to prove that. Some things, based in the human experience, just are. Which for me means ideas and some of the inner self is the beginning of any reality we experience in this physical and material world.

  4. “If we ‘discover’ God then god must be something that we can physically touch, taste, smell, etc. or else there is no basis for the materiality of a god” (Johnny)

    All depends what God actually is. Discovery could be happening around us everyday for all we know – if the premise is God is immaterial (ie: a spirit for example or existing in another dimension and space). If our thoughts are immaterial, our inner selfs is immaterial, our egos and memories, why should I think a connection with something else immaterial isn’t possible?

    It’s like the connection a husband and wife feel for one another, which is immaterial in many senses. Love is not material for example, we can’t buy, bottle, and sell the material aspects of love. We cannot measure love by any material rating (how much is enough are we getting the right share we deserve?). Also, people that deeply love another have ‘instincts’ that are built into that connection – we can actually feel what the other is experiencing. Now we cannot see that connection nor measure it, yet I’d be hard pressed to think it doesn’t exist.

    Point being, some things that are immaterial and not physical are more real (in a meaningful sense) then some things we can see in front of us that are rather useless (like a coffee table). Why should I think a God cannot exist in that plain of existence? Cause we cannot prove that plain exists?

  5. “In order to discover the properties of this god then it must be known in a materialist sense, and not in a subjective-ideal sense” (Johnny)

    Why exactly? Is the human material alone and this is what we can live by? What about something like trust in someone? Should we discover the properties of trust first before we can actually rely on a friend? Should we not be scared of something until we can discover the material properties of fear?

    Fact is the human condition is in many ways effected and built upon things we cannot even see, emotions. We can cry because we ‘feel’ sad, but are the tears something that can be used to measure our sadness? But no rationale person is about the say ‘look cannot physically measure the sadness therefore I can doubt it exists’.

  6. “Why not just imagine that we know god intrinsically and that Christ and his teachings are not imperative in knowing God” (Johnny)

    People do this all the time – the imagination becomes ‘choice’. I ‘choose’ to follow the teachings of the scriptures becuase for me I find a lot of common sense and knowledge in them. I see this in Jesus’ teachings within the sermon on the mount, I could imagine those teachins do not exist in the neat little package they do, but they actually do.

    Imagination does not presuppose to change reality, in some cases imagination is just imagining it were a certain way even though it is. What I am referencing with ‘ideas’ is that this is the starting point for any choice we can make.

    As for the role of Jesus, I see a version of messiah that is about a ‘teacher’…leading his students to better understandings of God. I actually don’t buy into the atonement theories surrounding him.

  7. “Begs the better question, what is material?” SVS

    You are taking your logic to limits that are irrational and in basic misrepresentation of waht is a material thing. We have a good sense as to what constitutes a ‘material thing’ and what does not. Do not get lost in your own mind on this.

    If nothing is material, then you we not even exist in any form. But do you exist in a form? Yes, of course you do. “Cogito ergo sum” as Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am”. There is a material existence even if we cannot fully explain every detail of it.

    “Love is not a material thing, it manifests in material actions, but it’s essence is unpinnable since it can be an emotion.” SVS

    In this logic you have just proven that love is a material thing! “Love” can only manifest itself in a material action (a material action that you do not even fully believe exists? = circular logic), or else it is just empty symbolism.

    I know that I “love” my son, not becuase I speak some stupid word that we have agreed upon as a society but becasue my actions are based in kindness and caring, i.e. an actual physical response to him as a being that I care for.

    “Love” is just a simple word that humanity has given to our feeling. “Love” is not a real thing, but its actions are real. Love is the just the symbolic name we give to those caring actions. Is this not true? Do you actually presuppose that “love” owns its own chunk of the brain and there is a house in our mind that is specifically called “love”? This is the immaterial thing that you propose.

    “Gravity is not a material substance” SVS

    Then how exactly are we physically in orbit around the sun? Are we not in a physical orbit around the sun as we speak? Or is this just a ruse of the mind that we are totally fooled into beleiving that we are in actual orbit and that the sun is keeping us in this orbit? If you cannot see the materiality of gravity then you have completely lost all connection to what is material.

    I do not think you comprehend the difference between immaterial thoughts and material things at all. If something is material then it manifests itself in a corporeal manner, i.e. a physical manner, and then we can know its properties and its existence through this physical thing; in which it has manifested itself. If it is immaterial then it can never manifest itself in a corporeal/bodily manner because this is what makes it immaterial. God is spirit and as such it is an immaterial construct of your own mind, but gravity is not a spirit.

    The fact that you can sit firmly on the surface of the Earth without exploding into pure gas is a good enough proof to me about the material existence of gravitational pull. If gravitational pull was a mere ‘immaterial thing’ then we would have never existed in any manner in the first place. But it is not an immaterial idea, it is a physical actuality.

  8. God is a spirit. Is this what you propose?

    If this is indeed the truth, then god is completely immaterial and a basic construct of the mind. You have just supported the non-material existence of any living god in any manner. Because the ‘spirit’ is not an actuality or a physical property of anything that materially exists. The ‘spirit’ is pure immaterial construct.

    the spirit of the West, the spirit of the Rockies, the spirit of the buffalo, the spirit of God, etc etc etc. These are all constructs and not actualities.

  9. “the spirit of the West, the spirit of the Rockies, the spirit of the buffalo, the spirit of God, etc etc etc. These are all constructs and not actualities.”

    they aren’t? so love, all of philosophy, psychology, and sociology are all constructs and not actualities. seems a bit elementary.

    • No, Ghost you are completely in error of what is material and what is not. Define for all of us the physical properties of the spirit of God, or the spirit of the buffalo, or the spirit of the evergreen tree (which is a living thing by the way)? It is an impossible task to undertake.

      But I can easily define what the academic fields of political science, philosophy, sociology, psychology, etc, seek to examine and it can be done very easily: they seek to examine some aspect of our material existence. These fields all have their bases in material life and not some other-worldy explanations that are ‘out there’ in the cosmos; the explanations are here and now and are based purely in our corporeal existence. All these academic disciplines seek to define, or explain, or discover, a material part of our everyday lives; case closed.

      Philosophy is complex, but at its root there are always rational explanations and quests for basic knowledge, even something we may call a “truth.” The knowlege that philosophy seeks is not irrational argument rather it is usually based in a rational discourse/dialectic that can be added to and changed when pertinent discoveries are made.

      I will paraphrase Marx and his critique of modern philosophy: ‘the philosophers have only, up to this point, tried to explain life. The point is to change it.’ Marx presents a deeply materialist reading of philosophy. The most beautiful thought is that we can change our existnce and we are not guided by some irrational thoughts about the spirit of our life.

      We do not need the ‘spirit’ of anything to explain and guide our fleshly/corporeal existences, we need the flesh to explain and guide the flesh.

      • “No, Ghost you are completely in error of what is material and what is not.”

        how? you just put down what i was saying. there are inmaterial things that affect us and explain and guide our fleshly/corporeal existences. the “spirit” of manifest destiny guided the US to commit a quite genocide on first nations people, go to war with spain, colonize hawaii, guam, and puerto rico. this spirit has political and sociological material aspects to it, but the thought is still zeitgeist and ideology.

  10. “There is a material existence even if we cannot fully explain every detail of it” (Johnny)

    Agreed. However, if we cannot explain every detail of something that makes up everything that is material (ie: matter) than why should the mystery of God be an issue at all? We cannot fully explain whats before our very eyes (fact) – why is it the immaterialism of God is a problem for any reasonable person?

    ““Love” is not a real thing, but its actions are real. Love is the just the symbolic name we give to those caring actions. Is this not true?” (Johnny)

    Interesting use of the term ‘love’. So when we say we ‘love’ someone we are using a term that is not an ‘actual thing’…correct?

    I agree the caring actions are the sum of the term love – which means when we make the term up called love – we mean actions like a hug, a kiss, a handshake, some playful teasing, etc. Yet, they all culminate in something we label ‘love’ (as an catch all term). I get that.

    So why is the mystery of God a mystery at all? If love can be understood to be a ‘catch all’ term for a variety of emotions and thoughts we have towards another – can’t faith in God be seen in the same realm? I don’t know what God is or where he is or what he is made of, yet many of my emotions and thoughts are consumed with him…delusions of grandeur or similar to a pattern we can actually see…love.

    God is love…one writer went on to say.

  11. “God is love…one writer went on to say.” SVS

    Yes, this is a very nice and poetic quote and it is a beautiful thought to say what love and god are. But, as another writer once said, “what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Love is just a stupid name that we give a feeling or thought in our mind. Love does not have its own separate existence outside our mind and our physical reactions to that feeling/thought. Have you ever seen the physical properties of “love” outside of human interaction? No, of course not. Because human interaction is the surface of love, is this not true?

    But as I have just proposed and I think it is quite accurate, the term “love” is not a real actuality on its own. Love cannot exist on its own without a physical interaction between beings. “Love” is a symbolic name that we have given to an emotion or a basic feeling but what we call love is only manifest through action. Thus if ‘God is love’ then God is also just a name we give to a feeling in our own minds.

    But god would not be an actuality without human interaction, just like love. Thus as you have just proposed: the thing we call “God” does not exist without human interaction, which is the same as the thing we call “love”. Therefore humanity is the first cause of both god and love because without human interactions there would be neither love or god. Thus if humanity were to never exist, neither would “love” or “god”.

  12. “Thus if humanity were to never exist, neither would “love” or “god”.”

    so what you’re saying is “when two or three are gathered…”? sounds awfully biblical. also complete bullocks. if humanity were never to exist, how would we be able to verify whether love or god exists? this is an untestable hypothesis and irrational to as it is made by a human… so i assume. humanity does exist. there are intangible, untestable, immeasurable, and unverifiable things out there. love and self being two “real” concepts. “God” being more a theological belief set. yet for a panenthesis, existence = God, and since we’re here and are able to view and interact with existence yet never fully understand it, thus so is God.

  13. “if humanity were never to exist, how would we be able to verify whether love or god exists?” Ghost

    You have just beautifully re-stated my main point, thank you for putting humanity as the first cause. Exactly, how would we verify “god” and “love” without there first being humans to create these notions?

  14. “this is an untestable hypothesis…” Ghost

    Yes, this is true and you again have re-stated my best point. It is completely untestable because this thing we call “God” does not have a corporeal existence. How can you test the validity of an immaterial mental construct? You cannot. Thanks again.

    • “How can you test the validity of an immaterial mental construct? You cannot. Thanks again.”

      yup, looks like we’re in agreement. however it doesn’t just rest with concepts like God, it has political and psychological consequences. it ends in the admission that all of us, theists and atheists alike, are indeed just interpreting reality and are on equal footing. just as capitalists and Marxists are interpreting and developing a system of economics, they interpret reality in a certain way and act accordingly. i don’t think you’re willing to go that far though.

  15. If a person was to simply state that: “they love me” then I would just have to take their word for it. But how could I actually prove this supposed love without an action to back it up? I could not.

    Same thing with God. Someone tells me: “God is the creator of all life and he exists”. I will just have to take their word for it, won’t I? Because they could never actually prove that their construct of god exists without some actual material and tangible discovery.

    In the end I am taking the word of someone else in both cases because I have no proof to base their claim upon.

    • yup. looks like it doesn’t it. you grasp my point fully. God, like love, is not so much a being, but an experience. this is the whole of the gospels. the gospels, and i would state the bible in total, were written down to both explain life AND point is to change it. it’s part history, yet commentary stating “this should or shouldn’t happen again.” or it looks at it’s present social location (in bondage, in exile, with a corrupt or wise king, under roman oppression) and then casts a vision for the future. it’s all immaterial because humans are largely immaterial.

      now usually in these type of debates, the counter cry would be “well reason and verifiable data will win the day!” and my counter is “humans are not rational creatures but creatures who can reason” (descartes), and despite all our verifiable data there will always be an unknown quantity, there will always be the uncertainty principle because life is fluid and moving and changing all the time. the problem with life is we live if forwards but can only understand it backwards (Kierkegaard). what say you?

  16. “there will always be the uncertainty principle because life is fluid and moving and changing all the time. the problem with life is we live if forwards but can only understand it backwards (Kierkegaard). what say you?” (Z1G)

    Good point, never really though about the time-spatial thing and how that relates to this topic. But it reveals a level of ‘faith – trust’ we will all have as we continue to move forward – and considering what is behind us.

  17. “Have you ever seen the physical properties of “love” outside of human interaction?” (Johnny)

    Yes, in artistic creations like music, art, film, writing. One could say the action of continuing to do something for a period of time (ie’ blog) could reveal a nature of loving that action. This is not something neccesarily shared between 2 people not is it neccesarily physical – it manifests physically – but the continuance is like a ritual we continue to be pulled towards.

    Regardless of that, my contention is love is an ‘idea’ – and like most ‘ideas’ – they manifest into some reality (action or thing). But I would contend the thought/idea itself can be as real to the person as the action, or at least as deeply meaningful.

    For example, in schizophrenics with a certain chemical imbalance where they hear ‘voices’ and ‘sounds’ that alarm them – even feel asks them to committ certain ‘actions’. Well, here is the question – which is worse – the action or the thoughts? Without the thoughts would the action happen? Without the action would the thoughts happen?

    My contention is that in some ways what is within the person, ie: thoughts and ideas, is just as real and tangible as it’s material expression.

  18. Pingback: Which Is More Meaningful – The Thought or the Action? « Loosing My Religion

  19. “God, like love, is not so much a being, but an experience” Ghost

    Yes, I think I can agree with this point in some aspect of its basic premise. I do not think that there is a god that objectively exists somewhere in the cosmos and is the creator of anything; I probably never actually did. “God” was the mere name that I gave to my feeling, or emotion, a shared experience, or even a thought in my mind. Thus the name of this emotion, i.e. God, is what gave me some comfort in any scenario. This is the same thing as love, at least as I philosophically present it. I do not see love as an objective thing that can have a bodily existence/experience outside the human condition. “Love” is the proper name that we have socially agreed upon to give a certain emotion/feeling/etc, so is “God”. This is my only point.

    As such, these things cannot exist as objective beings on their own without human motion and interaction. Thus god and love are in the same category as flat immaterial constructs. They are subjective ideas until an individual inflates them and puts them into action. God is a flawed idea as I see it but that is another thought.

  20. “No, Ghost you are completely in error of what is material and what is not.” Johnny

    I take this point back and I apologize to you. I misread the statement. my bad. Sorry, again.

  21. “just as capitalists and Marxists are interpreting and developing a system of economics, they interpret reality in a certain way and act accordingly. i don’t think you’re willing to go that far though.” Ghost

    I doubt that I would. I am not a dogmatic Marxist, I am Marxian, but I have not seen nor heard a better critique of the capitalist world we are part and parcel to, other than Marx and his critical brand of materialism.

    As for capital, it objectively shapes a world in its own image and it exploits the greatest mass of humanity for very selfish reasons; political economy is its proper name but that is just a name. The contention that I have is in its actual shaping of our objecitve existence. If Capital were to be completely subject to the page and the pen and were to never project its realization into our social life then that would be fine by me.

    If Capital was completely immaterial then I would not care about its ideology. But if we take up Marx’s critique of Capital, we can see the objective motions of that worldview (i.e. capital-ism) and its inherent strive to be the total material ‘objective’ of the world. But I digress, this could get long and boring.

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