SCIENCE     versus     MATERIALISM

by     Reginald O. Kapp

SECTION III - THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE

Chapter XXIX - WHAT NEXT?


WE are left, in this final chapter, with more problems than we can easily enumerate. This is as it should be. Let us say our farewell to the reader on the crest of a hill, even a rather bleak hill, provided only it gives us a wide view of unexplored regions. If the horizon is hidden in mist, if the great spread of country unfolding itself at our feet reminds us for what a little way we have enjoyed each other's company, it is better so than that the final handshake should occur in the shelter of some pleasant grove where no outlook tempts to further adventure. We would rather have the reader feel that he had been brought to a starting point than to a resting place.

Right in the foreground of our view the land rises to another hill. This represents the problem how a diathete can control Matter. In the preceding pages we have only proved that this does happen. We have not even asked how it happens.

This hill looks steep and difficult to climb. For when we say that Matter is controlled we mean that material objects are caused to reach specified positions. When this happens forces are exerted on the objects. And forces are part of the Material Universe and can only originate in Matter. They are tied to location. A thing which is pushed, is pushed from somewhere, and a thing which is pulled, is pulled from somewhere.

Hence we must never, never make the mistake of regarding the forces which move the objects as diathetes. Though Bergson's none-too-happily chosen word "élan" is translated into English by the still less happy word "force", we must remember that forces do not control things; they themselves may be controlled or uncontrolled. When their movement is due only to the forces exerted on them things fly about indiscriminately. We then speak of the effect of "uncontrolled forces".

In this phrase we reveal our insight into a fundamental truth. That which exercises control cannot exert a force, and that which exerts a force cannot exercise control. Diathetes perform the one function and Matter the other and they can never change places or do each other's jobs.

Hence we have to face the puzzle that at the points of contact between the Material Universe and the Diathetic Universe no forces are applied. We must not picture diathetes as taking hold of pieces of Matter and placing them in their specified positions as a bricklayer picks up bricks and builds them into a wall. Such a picture would be too anthropomorphic. Reworded, our problem is how diathetes can control forces without applying any. But we must leave its consideration to another occasion.

Thus clearly stated, the problem which we have propounded, and do not propose immediately to solve, looks like an obstacle barring the way to further progress. Will this rouse the reader's eagerness for further adventure or will he be discouraged? It depends, no doubt, on his temperament. There are some for whom the difficulty of a problem adds to its attractiveness and others who regret the ground they have already covered as soon as they meet a serious obstacle.

These will now be tempted to retrace their steps. They will tell us that they cannot accept even the most cogent proof that a thing happens until they can also understand how it happens. Perhaps they will strain after arguments to prove that specifications are never followed, perhaps they will relapse into the habit of idealizing Matter and attributing organizing power to that which is a force, namely, mass multiphed by acceleration. Materialists have always vacillated between the two theories that either there are no diathemes or that Matter is a diathete. Our purpose has been to reveal the absurdity of these two theories and to show that materialism cannot be maintained without the one or the other of them. Having done this we have completed our present task.

Into the remaining, unknown, country which we can discern from our present hilltop others will prove better guides, for the further we look the less does this country resemble that in which the engineer has been taught to find his way.

Immediately behind the hill which represents the problem of how a diathete may influence Matter is another which represents the twin problem of how Matter may influence a diathete. One of its features represents the problem of perception, but the outline is not clearly discernible from here. We cannot even see by which path it should be approached.

Near these hills is another which represents the problem whether the word "Life" should stand for one single entity such as Bergson's expression "élan vitale" seems to suggest, or whether the Life in control of each living organism is something separate and discrete. The unity of all living things in their common ancestry seems to lead to one answer, individual personality seems to lead to the other. We do not know which to prefer.

Again, there is the problem of the relation between Life and Mind. Is Mind but a manifestation of Life or is it something distinct? Are some events in the organic world not only doubly determinate but trebly determinate: firstly by Matter, secondly by Life, thirdly by Mind?

As we let our gaze follow the horizon we see yet two other hills. We cannot distinguish them clearly, for in that direction we have the sun in our eyes. One of these represents the question whether the Soul of Man is immortal. Deprived of its workshop, does Life cease to exist or does it find another sphere of activity? We have, at least, gone a little way towards this problem. We have shown that Life is a real entity and a non-material entity. We have proved that the materialist is wrong when he asserts that there is nothing to survive. But whether it does survive is another question. Maybe the problem of immortality will one day be solved by science; maybe the only path to it is that of faith! Who knows?

The second of the hills which is just under the dazzling sun represents the question: Can the existence of a God be proved by science? Maybe this hill is separated from us by some impassable ravine. But even if it be so we should like to be able to reach the edge of that ravine. We should like to explore as much of the landscape before us as may be within man's feeble powers to traverse. But we, the engineer, have none of the equipment needed for travel into such distant regions. Those who, like us, wish to adventure there must seek other guides. They will be found, we believe, among theologians, philosophers, biologists and physicists.

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