National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

Materialism is a belief system that holds that only physical matter and its interactions are ultimately real, and that mental and spiritual phenomena can be explained in terms of material processes. Materialists believe that everything in the universe, including human consciousness and subjective experiences, can be reduced to or explained by physical processes in the brain and nervous system.

Materialism is often contrasted with dualism, which posits that the mind and body are separate entities, and with idealism, which holds that only consciousness or ideas are ultimately real, and that physical matter is an illusion.

Materialism is a prominent worldview in modern science, which seeks to explain natural phenomena through empirical observation and experimentation. It has been influential in fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology.

Critics of materialism argue that it cannot fully account for subjective experiences such as consciousness, free will, and morality. They contend that these aspects of human experience cannot be reduced to purely physical explanations, and that they require a non-material or spiritual explanation.

Overall, materialism remains a subject of philosophical debate, with proponents and critics offering a wide range of arguments for and against its claims.