Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Materialism in the deepest sense

“In the post-Enlightenment Western world, the framework of cosmic ontology has become strictly material—that is, the cosmos is perceived to exist because it has material properties that can be detected by the senses. The functioning of the cosmos is consequently understood as resulting from its material properties, and its origins are described in material terms. In a material ontology, something is created when it is given or otherwise gains its material properties. In material ontology, there is great interest in investigating and understanding the physical nature of reality, especially in terms of its building blocks, from the smallest constituents, including molecules, atoms, cells, quarks, and so on (the constituent parts), to the largest agglomerations of constituents, including planets, solar systems, and galaxies. In a material ontology, material origins are of ultimate importance and of central concern.

“However, we have no reason to think that cosmic ontology in the ancient world was conceived as having a material basis. Though an ancient material cosmic ontology cannot be ruled out, it certainly should not be assumed as the starting point for our consideration. Good methodology demands that we take our lead from the texts themselves when thinking about how the ancients framed their own ontological perspectives. If their ontology was not material, then they likely would have had little interest in material origins. The focus of their ontology would also naturally be reflected in their accounts of origins.”—Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, pages 23-24

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