Materialism is a philosophical concept that asserts that everything is, or can be explained, in relation to matter alone.1 Many secular humanists and atheists subscribe to this without reservation. But lately, Materialism is a philosophy in decline. Like many other “sacred cows” of contemporary culture, there are ideas surfacing which will challenge its status in the world. It was once thought that time and space, dualism, determinism, reductionism, locality, causality, realism, and materialism were absolute.2 Today, some quantum theorists and experimental physicists would suggest that these are not as irrefutable as once thought. Let me explain.
As Rachel Wolchover says in Quanta Magazine,
Nature, at the deepest level, may not differentiate between scales. With scale symmetry, physicists start with a basic equation that sets forth a massless collection of particles, each a unique confluence of characteristics such as whether it is matter or antimatter and has positive or negative electric charge. As these particles attract and repel one another and the effects of their interactions cascade like dominoes through the calculations, scale symmetry “breaks,” and masses and lengths spontaneously arise.3
What she is saying is that quantum particles start out as massless, dimensionless, units3 that only develop length, width, height, and mass in relation to one another. Take for example the Higgs Boson: it is theorized that other particles only have mass in relation to the Higgs Boson. It is further theorized, and there is now some evidence to suggest,4 that other elementary particles do not have the three dimensions of length, width, and height except when operated upon by other unknown particles.
What are the philosophical implications of this? If the universe is a massless, dimensionless void except in relation to greater powers, then it seems it would be more accurate to say that we live in a spiritual universe rather than a material universe. Now, if everything starts out dimensionless and ethereal before it solidifies into dimensions and masses, then we are closer to a spirit world than we might have otherwise imagined; and then, truly, everything is holy.
1 “What is Materialism;” Philosophy Now; Michael Philips 2003; https://philosophynow.org/issues/42/What_is_Materialism
2 Huffington Post; “Beyond Reason Blog;” Dave Pruett; March 20, 2015; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-pruett/beyond-reason_1_b_6874664.html
3 “At Multiverse Impasse, a New Theory of Scale;” Natalie Wolchover; Quanta Magazine;
4 “Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis;” Wired magazine; Natalie Wolchover, Quanta Magazine Science; August 25, 2014; http://www.wired.com/2014/08/multiverse/