How do materialists see body and spirit?
Submitted by on Thu, 18/06/2020 - 12:14
Dear Brother / Sister,
The body and the spirit
The materialistic philosophy views man, like all other beings, as a collection of matter, and denies the existence of anything other than the body, which we know to consist of nearly 40 trillion cells. That is, in terms of basic building blocks, man is the same a handful of soil. Like all other beings, man consists of matter (or energy) only, and is subject to laws of physics. This view also forms the foundation of the deterministic philosophy. Upon decomposition of these cells after death and becoming part of the soil, a person ceases to exist.
Every difference between a live person and a dead one – life, seeing, hearing, consciousness, knowledge, free will, love, pain, pleasure, imagination, dreaming, individuality, greed, generosity, art appreciation, sense of justice, and the desire for immortality – is non-material. The collection of all these non-material attributes that are beyond time and space is called meaning or spirit. The materialistic philosophy views these meanings as the outcomes of the temporary manifestations of material interactions (whatever that means).
The brain is simply the control center of the human body – just like the pilot cabin is the command center of the huge body of an airplane.
Those who view meaning or the spirit as the kernel and the essence of being, and matter as the shell or clothing evaluate death as simply the departure of this essence of human being from the sheath of body:
“In the course of life, the spirit gradually changes its body-clothes, and at the time of death, it is suddenly undressed. It has been established through certain conjecture, indeed, through observation, that the body subsists through the spirit.”1
Those who regard beings as consisting of matter only and thus deny the existence of the spirit are also aware of the existence of a meaning that transcends the body and its non-matter attributes. However, they take the easy way out and associate all attributes of the spirit like to express preference and to give orders with the brain. Consequently, they are obliged to attach to the brain, which is no different materially than a piece of meat, a hard-to-comprehend extraordinary status approaching divineness. The brain is simply the control center of the human body – just like the pilot cabin is the command center of the huge body of an airplane. All parts of an airplane are connected through wires to the pilot cabin, like the network of nerves in the human body being connected to the brain; and they receive all commands from there. However, the thing that is in full command of the airplane and makes the necessary decisions is the pilot that is not of the same kind as the cabin, and that has attributes like consciousness, sight, hearing, and free will that do not exist in the material of the airplane. When pilots go on strike, all airplanes are still fully equipped with everything including the command center, but they remain grounded. Just like it is impossible to understand the true nature of a flying airplane by insisting on denying the existence of a pilot (or remote operator if remote controlled) and attributing all wondrous acts to the command center in the pilot cabin so too is it impossible to understand the true nature of human beings by insisting on denying the existence of a spirit and attributing all beyond-matter wondrous trait like life, consciousness, imagination, sight, and free will to the material of the brain sealed in a dark thick shell.Spirit is non-matter and hence is not subject to the limitations of time and space
The spirit is non-matter and thus beyond space and time, and as such it is not subject to any of the restrictions that matter is subject to, like the physical laws.
1.Nursi, B. S. Sözler. p. 642.
Questions on Islam
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- Question 51: How does a person’s hitting his head somewhere affect the spirit, which is a being independent of the body? This question made philosophers think a lot in the previous centuries.
- What is spirit (rooh)? Can spirit's essence be comprehended? Is spirit merely brain? What is the relationship between spirit and body?
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