Dualism is a very versatile theory. While resting on the concept that at least some aspect of human consciousness is rooted in a non-physical realm, individual dualist theories can vary greatly with which parts of the human mind are from outside of the body. Materialism is more rigid. Materialists focus on physical causes of self awareness. While bringing humans down to the level of machines turns many away from the theory, it is also the most scientific and effective method of seeking to understand the human experience.
Dualismís popularity is understandable. Death is terrifying. The idea of an immortal soul or consciousness is comforting to someone who is about to die. Unfortunately, comfort isnít the best criterion for evaluating a philosophical theory. By entering the debate with an agenda (i.e. to affirm oneís religious beliefs), the focus can shift from developing clear definitions of terms to developing convoluted definitions with the intention of shoring up preconceived beliefs. Logic is a better evaluator.
I support materialism for two reason: burden of proof and logical progression.
I can observe the world from the perspective of my mind. Through my physical senses I can learn about my surroundings. I then draw conclusions based on my experiences.
I can not remember events from before I came into existence. Though I know Ďhistory,í events from the past are not as Ďrealí as events I have directly experienced.
I can not imagine a the world without me. Even in the style of the movie "Itís a Wonderful Life," I would still have to exist in order to observe.
These things I know to be true. this is the nature of my consciousness.
Dualists want me to believe that my mind exists separately from my physical self. They claim that I have a soul that existed before by physical birth and will continue after my physical death.
I have seen children born and grow into adulthood. I believe that they have minds. However I can only see evidence of their minds when it manifests in physical action. Before they became laughing, crying babies, I had no concept of their souls or proof of their existence.
I have seen people die. Before their death, I interacted with them. I believed that they had minds when I saw physical activity indicative of a thinking being. After their deaths, I only saw lifeless objects: their bodies. I have no evidence that they continue to feel or think or believe.
To convince me of dualism, a dualist must present to me clear evidence that I existed before I entered the physical and will continue to exist after my physical being dies.
I can confirm my theory with my personal experience. The burden of proof rests on the dualists.
They physical world is much more real to me than the non-physical I canít see nor sense.
In my day to day life I see constant change computer software, medicine, machinery - all evolve. Gutenburg reinvented the printing press by replacing permanent type with movable type set. The press was refined over the years, becoming typewriters, computers and photocopiers. My world view is dependent on constant change and evolution.
Belief in divine creation requires faith in the existence of a supreme creator. I donít see clear evidence of his/her existence.
Intelligent design requires a designer. In the physical world I see architects and engineers. I can understand the design process. But buildings do not design and build themselves. Without proof of the divine creator, the progression of design collapses.
Materialism provides a framework for the evolution of intelligence. Though evolution theory has some Ďmissing linksí, itís a theory that I can conceptualize. I see evidence of change and development everyday; Iíve never seen God.
Materialism isnít necessarily comforting, but it does the best job of explaining real life experiences in the frame work a scientific examination. Because dualism has fantastic claims, it has a heavier burden of proof. Materialism can be affirmed in daily life. Dualism demands faith in things that can not necessarily be seen. Only when a dualist can convince me of the existence of an immortal soul and a divine creator, will I be able to accept the validity of dualism. Until then, Iím trapped in the dark cave of the real world.