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Dialectics Precede ... Part 6

Dialectics Precede … Part 6 (Why God Does Not Exist and Why It's Materialist Dialectics, Not Dialectical Materialism)

By Dennis Loo (1/10/18)

There are several different threads that could be continued on the themes and topics so far in this series.

Since I concluded in Part 3 of this series that proof for some people will never suffice because their worldview is so radically different, I will just say one more thing about so-called proof(s) of god, and then move on to other matters. Proof of God’s non-existence will not satisfy some people after all – not so much because they can’t see the proof but because there are social reasons why they are believers.

St. Thomas Aquinas in the 1200’s offered up what he called five proofs of god. His proofs are as good as any since his time. The first – and, according to him, his strongest argument - of his proofs will suffice: No. 1, motion. Per Aquinas, we cannot have an infinite series; it must begin somewhere and that original mover is god. Some things undoubtedly move, though cannot cause their own motion. Since, as Thomas believed, there can be no infinite chain of causes of motion, there must be a First Mover not moved by anything else, and this is what everyone understands by God.”

This is like throwing up your hands when you encounter something you can't deal with. Why can we not have an infinity? Why is throwing up your hands his "best argument"? Admittedly, they hadn't yet discovered infinity in the 13th Century, let alone come to terms with it. There are many people still who can't wrap their heads around infinity. But what is more difficult to believe: an omniscient, omnipresent, disembodied Spirit or infinity? We know that infinity exists. We don't have any proof that a God exists. 

Contrary to St. Aquinas, there is no reason to reject out-of-hand as he does an infinite universe and every reason why the universe in some form must have always existed and be unbounded – even before the Big Bang - and thus does not have a beginning or a boundary beyond which it is not part of. A beginning and an end in fact make no sense. The only thing that makes sense is that the Universe is infinite and has always existed in some physical form.

Otherwise, assuming a beginning, you get into a logically untenable position: you have to assume that before the universe there was nothing or you had god.

But either proposition makes no sense. You cannot conceive of nothingness absent your presence as a sentient consciousness/observer, therefore as I pointed out before, dialectics must have always existed, otherwise existence of any kind is unknowable and impossible without a distinction or contrast between things (e.g., object versus vacuum, sound versus silence, left versus right, in versus out…).

This is true whether any consciousness is present or not. The idea that a pure, all-knowing spirit without neurons or something else physical to think from, and with, and is alone, is illogical as well. How could such a being come to exist? If, like Aquinas, you give God that role as the originator, then how did God come to be in the first place? You are still stuck as before with an infinite series but you have “solved” it by introducing a fiction, created in our image, rather than the other way around, and made him immortal, omniscient, and all-powerful. Where do these imagined characteristics come from? Why, they come from us. We have evidence of that, and no physical evidence in support of god’s existence.

There is also the problem of omniscience. If God knows everything that happens, then why does he let bad things keep on happening? He must have a perverse sense of humor. 

Now it is possible that our knowledge is akin to our vision, in which with our eyes we can only see part of the spectrum and that in the future, if there is a future for humanity, we will think that our current knowledge is but a speck compared to what we then understand, and what we were sure about before – e.g., gravity – is completely wrong. But the odds that we are completely wrong about our logic and reasoning currently and that the truth is somehow qualitatively and radically different is vanishingly small.

There is scientific history to draw upon here. For hundreds of years, certain things have stood the test of time (e.g., Pythagorean theorem), while others (e.g., continental drift) were at first made fun of, but later proved true. Some point to the discredited, later proven true, or the deeper and more accurate Einsteinian Relativity over the classical model of Newton, to conclude that since we can’t do certain things some of us thought we could (e.g., know exact location and speed of an electron) that, therefore, we are just fabricating it all and we don’t know anything. We may as well throw the whole scientific method out of the window, according to this view.

There are precedents for junctures like this too: every time the prevailing view comes under a serious challenge, there are some who are ready to jump ship and declare we don’t know anything for sure.

We now know that all things are both particle and a wave, that quantum mechanics for subatomic particles/waves don’t behave in some ways as we expect, but we know that quantum mechanics’s mathematics approximately match the classical model, which is very different than saying: because we can’t do it all, we can’t say any things for sure.

It is true that some diseases now exceed our grasp, but if you come down with pneumonia, we now know how to defeat it with penicillin. Modern science has eliminated polio as a plague that used to be a feared disease. And so on. Furthermore, we have been around only a few hundred years applying the scientific method and yet in that short time we have managed to learn the essential structure of our DNA and we can create certain forms of life which have traits that we are looking for. The complexity and sometimes sheer beauty of life leads some to believe in a Creator, but given millions of years, wny shouldn't remarkable things happen due to evolution if in a few hundred years we can create life itself?

Will Godel’s proof of the Incompleteness Theorem stand up? It is, after all, a proof. Once we prove something, and it is reproduced over and over, we don’t go back and find we were wrong. Will we get to the point of being able to do without dialectics and find out that we were wrong to distinguish figure versus ground? Again, I suppose almost nothing is impossible, but I don’t think so. I think infinities will still be infinities, and Mexico is never going to pay for a wall!

Now as to other matters:

Dialectics precedes materiality (matter in motion) for the same reason: with or without consciousness, whether you have matter or not, and whether you, or anything, exists or not, dialectics – or some kind of contrast (e.g., figure and ground, frame versus not-frame) – pre-exists materiality, else existence itself cannot be. Try to imagine this contrast not existing: you cannot, unless you smuggle into the picture an observer, but an observer is impermissible because it is itself a part of the scenario and proves my point: you have thereby made a distinction between observer and observed, or created that contrast.

This is not playing word games but goes to the very basic nature of reality.

Now let us consider the consequences of this.

First, let us talk about correct terminology. If it is true that dialectics precede and make possible matter-in-motion, then dialectics is also more important than materiality. Without dialectics, matter is impossible. Analyses based on “dialectical materialism,” which became the term most often used in the communist movement (see, for example, Stalin) makes “materialism” primary, and the noun, and “dialectical” the adjective or modifier or type of materialism, but the noun or type of thing should be the reverse: with “dialectics” the noun, and with the type of dialectics being “materialist.” “Materialist dialectics,” thus is the correct term, and “dialectical materialism” the wrong term.

Second, analyses which take as their starting point “dialectical materialism” go astray sometimes, as they tend to not fully apply and appreciate the dialectics and the nuances involved.

See, for example, my critique of the RCP’s analysis that because certain people such as Trump, Pence, and those who will follow them anywhere, are fascists (which they undoubtedly are), this translates more or less automatically in their successfully imposing fascism on the whole country and makes this fool of a POTUS a “juggernaut,” despite most of his attempts backfiring on him. Among those failures was that he never wanted to win the presidency in the first place; he only wanted to do well-enough to obtain a better reality-TV deal.

There is also a failure to take into account adequately the resistance to these fascists, what people will go along with, as well as the common mistake of judging it by appearance only. The RCP see, for example, part of the GOP as responsible for fascism, rather than seeing the key role that Democrats have had, and do have, responsibility for this too. They thus end up fighting a cause whose origins are nebulous.

To quote from my article:

This … reflects a different understanding of this phenomenon than I had before: it is not enough to say that the right-wing has the initiative because it is not the right-wing’s doing it as much as it is the whole bourgeoisie doing it – all of them moving rightward. You can make a very good argument in fact that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are more responsible for the whole ruling class moving rightward than the GOP. After all, the Democrats first moved rightward – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made no secret of the fact that they were not liberals - and then forced the GOP to position itself to the right of them, because the GOP certainly aren’t going to position themselves to the left of their electoral rivals. This is why the GOP has to adopt shriller and more ridiculous positions, because of the Democrats.

This raises a larger point. Are the Democrats and Republicans more different or more alike each other and how does that relate to bourgeois rule? There is a great difference between seeing that the bourgeoisie is moving rightward due to the GOP taking the initiative versus seeing that they are both moving rightward and that it just falls to the GOP to be on the cutting edge of that and to play a more open role that way more often. In the first instance, you are attributing more agency to the GOP for what’s going on and in the second instance you are arguing that there exists a kind of division of labor between the two parties, but they are mainly colluding overall. (Boldfacing and italics in the original).

This pointing to the “main danger” as fascism has a long history in the communist movement. The COMINTERM under Stalin’s leadership and people like Dimitrov were responsible for some grievous errors that are being repeated now. I am still waiting for the RCP to engage my points and tell me where I am wrong.

The main danger to the earth is capitalism and imperialism. Fascism is not the main danger.

In this series: Dialectics Precede and Are Primary Over Materailism Part I 

Part 2 (On the Basic Nature of Reality)

Part 3 (The Liar's Paradox Solved and Godel's Incompleteness Theorem Revisited)

Part 4 (On Theses on Feuerbach and Marx Melding Materialism with Dialectics)

Part 5 (our decoding of Theses on Feuerbach Continues and Preview Why Dialectics Are Key Even As To Materialism)

Part 6 (Why God Does Not Exist and Why It's Materialist Dialectics, Not Dialectical Materialism)

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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12