As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I am a philosophical simpleton. While I have a raging interest in philosophical things, most of my time is spent with my graduate studies, and I have my main blog, The Value of Saintliness, which takes up much of the remaining free time (though, since it piggybacks off my regular studies, it doesn’t take as much time as it could). As such, I don’t have enough time to really train myself in philosophical matters with enough precision to call myself an expert by any stretch. However, part of the purpose of this blog is for me to try to explain philosophical concepts to myself, and if others benefit as well, then even better. Hopefully, a few “experts” will stop by enough to correct the flaws in my thinking, and therefore I will leave comments open indefinitely on posts.
I grew up in the LDS Church, and the Latter-day Saint tradition has a quirky take on philosophy and metaphysics, compared to the more traditional and older Christian religions. It is more materialistic (in the philosophical sense) than Christianity, due to Mormon scripture that declares that God is a corporeal being and that spirit is material (though “fine” and “pure” in a way that causes us to not detect it). These things seemed “obvious” to me growing up, until I really decided to explore Christian theology and philosophy after my mission.
Then, I realized that the arguments for at least some immaterial things were actually very interesting and worth discussing, and in my case, convincing. Consequently, the arguments against a corporeal God also seemed convincing. I have taken a big fancy to hylemorphism thanks to Edward Feser, and I think it resolves a lot (not all, but a lot) of the problems of materialism. But apart from the arguments for and against materialism, I was partly just disappointed that my religious upbringing skimmed over 1800 years of Christian philosophy by calling it a “Great Apostasy” and therefore not worth getting into on anything more than a superficial level. As such, I don’t think I can accept Mormon materialism in any of its varieties unless I know 1) what it is, and 2) the arguments for and against it.
Unfortunately for #1, Mormonism doesn’t really have a settled metaphysics yet, only a few scriptures that indicate some kind of materialism. Now we can’t really blame Mormonism for that. Christianity didn’t have a settled metaphysics 200 years after it was founded either. However, without #1 in place, #2 can’t really get off the ground. All the arguments made by evangelical Christians against Mormon materialism must out of necessity argue against one Mormon philosopher’s version of materialism, and the response then can be, “Well, why should a Mormon accept that version? There are other versions.”
So where does that leave me? I’m not sure exactly, but I hope to hash out some of the issues here on this blog.