The schools of thought of materialism and atheism have something in common: they both affirm the non-existence of God. In materialism, the only thing that can be said to exist is matter. Therefore, God, who is spirit, does not exist. Atheism, likewise, also understands that there is no God and that mankind does not need Him to live and be happy. Of course, from a philosophical point of view, such approaches are nothing but scientific reductionism. They are analyses of reality that do not consider all the variants of the question and are structured on considerations that they cannot prove.

Materialism sees only matter in the world. Even human thought and feelings, for materialism, are only manifestations of singular states of matter. In this context, biological life itself comes from inert matter. The "self" and the "consciousness" of the human being are just old ideas that need to be better described. There is an effort by materialists to deconstruct this language in order to introduce a new one consistent with their theories. But materialism does not explain the origin of matter and what set in motion its dynamic of transformations and movement in the world.  

Atheism, on the other hand, understands that morals and ethics dissociated from religion are possible. Yes, a morality that comes from reason is possible. If we adopt, for example, human life as the supreme value, it is possible to arrive at an excellent morality without considering God. This, however, is not proof that God does not exist. Plato and Aristotle, for example, concluded, by reason, the necessity of god to explain the world. Note, however, that they arrived only at the idea of god and not at the true God and Creator, for this knowledge is beyond human thought. Knowledge of God is only possible to man if it is revealed to him. 

The fact is that both materialism and atheism feed on science for their conceptual development. However, Karl Popper, considered one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, says that

"there are excellent reasons for saying that what we have in science is to describe and (as far as possible) explain reality. We do this with the help of conjectural theories; that is, theories that we hope are true (or close to the truth), but which we cannot firm as certain [...]" (POPPER apud ZILLES, 2016, p. 209).

Scientific knowledge does not constitute absolute knowledge, that is, truth. The science of today will not be the science of tomorrow. For more than a thousand years Aristotelian science reigned unchallenged until it began to be questioned in the early Modern Age. A new physics came with Galileo Galilei, then came Newtonian physics, then Einstein's, and now quantum physics. The truth today will not be the same tomorrow. For more than a thousand years science claimed that the Sun revolved around the Earth until Copernicus, a religious man who believed in God, proved that it was the Earth that revolved around the Sun.

Thus, scientific knowledge does not constitute the truth, but only an approximation of the truth. In this regard, the important philosopher of science Thomas S. Kuhn (2018, p.91) states

...we rarely find areas in which a scientific theory can be directly compared with nature, especially if it is expressed in a predominantly mathematical form. So far no more than three such areas are accessible to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Moreover, even in those areas where application is possible, it often requires theoretical and instrumental approximations that severely limit the agreement to be expected.

Although materialism does not see God, but only matter, by a question of method, it simply cannot prove that there is no spiritual reality in the physical world. Likewise, atheism cannot prove that God does not exist. It is not possible to prepare a slide of the "substance of God" (Augustine, 2011, p.144) to be analyzed under the microscope. Even so, materialism and atheism declare that God does not exist and build a whole conceptual framework considering this statement. Just stating, however, is not enough. It is necessary to prove it. In this way, materialism and atheism are just discourse, and those who follow them do so out of an exercise of faith.

Yes, that's right. The absence of evidence reduces materialism and atheism to mere beliefs. But their conceptual and theoretical frameworks are sophisticated, and this helps to attract many adherents. Basically, however, it all boils down to faith that things are as these currents of thought claim. It is an easier faith to adhere to than the Christian faith, because it is based on what one sees. The Christian faith, on the other hand, is based on the absurd to human eyes, on what is impossible to human reason. For "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise... God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are" (1 Corinthians 1:18,27,28). This is why many prefer to believe in materialism and atheism. It is as the Apostle Paul said: faith in God is not for everyone (2 Thessalonians 3:2).Antônio Maia – Ph B. M.Div.   

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AGOSTINHO, Santo. Confissões. Petrópoles - RJ: Ed Vozes, 2011.

KUHN, Thomas S. A Estrutura das Revoluções Científicas. São Paulo: Ed Perspectiva, 2018.

ZILLES, Urbano. Panorama das Filosofias do Século XX. São Paulo: Paulus, 2016.


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