Is Materialism a Faith?

One often hears the claim that the worldview of atheists is based on faith, so that we have no more reason for our beliefs than the religious have for theirs. (Though many who say such things strangely enough consider their own faith to be perfectly justified!) One of the common atheist beliefs criticized this way is materialism. Supposedly, materialists say there is nothing beyond the physical world simply because they prefer to believe this. But is that true?

I get the impression that, in many cases at least, those who make the above claim know better. It is simply a way for them to quickly dismiss their opponent’s view. For the fact is that materialism has always been based on evidence. And as science has advanced, the case for it has only become stronger.

There are several arguments that support materialism (see chapter 7 of my book The Truth about God for more), but one of the clearest is the following: Damage to the brain, whether from trauma or from disease, damages the mind. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s, for example, loses many of their mental abilities. Yet if the mind is a separate entity — and in particular one that can survive the death of the body — then that is not what should happen. There isn’t any greater damage to the brain than death. If Alzheimer’s, or a serious blow to the head, can damage one’s mind, then how can that mind survive the total annihilation of the brain at the end of its life?

The evidence clearly favors materialism over the belief in a soul. Materialism is not a faith.