What do Materialism and Santa Claus Have in Common?
|September 24, 2014||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
In my prior post UD News commented regarding someone who has denied that the difference between a random string of text and a string of text that consists of English sentences is that the latter conforms to a specification, i.e., the conventions of the English language. She said:
It is hard to believe anyone doesn’t know this.
My initial impulse was to write that I would modify her observation to: “It is impossible to believe anyone doesn’t know this; it is hard to believe anyone would not admit they know what they must know.”
Upon reflection, however, I decided it is not really hard to believe after all. I remember very vividly when my friends told me Santa Claus was not real. I distinctly remember resisting them with all my might. I said, “If that is right, then my parents have been lying to me,” and my young mind could not fathom a universe in which my parents would lie to me. Turns out they were lying about Santa Claus, and I had to make some painful worldview adjustments. And because of that experience, when my children were young, while we still did the whole Santa Clause thing, I always made sure they understood Santa was just a fun story, not a real person. I did not want them to go through what I went through.
Materialist metaphysics is for some grownups what belief in Santa Claus was for me when I was a child. I believed in Santa very strongly and was extremely reluctant to turn loose of that belief, even when I was confronted with some pretty powerful evidence that the belief was false. I suppose it is a natural human tendency to resist evidence when it contradicts our strongly held beliefs. This tendency is not confined to materialists or atheists of course. But it is a fact that on these pages we see it displayed prominently and often by materialists.
Once again, here are the two strings of text:
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
For what possible reason would a materialist deny knowing what he plainly must know – that we can know the second string is not a group of random letters because it is highly complex and also conforms to a specification?
The only answer I can think of is that the materialist denies this because admitting it is a point for ID, and he cannot bear to give any points to ID because to do so would call into question his belief in his Santa Claus substitute.