By far, the most widely misunderstood topic.
|Instead of the usual opening quote, we will start with definitions of terms. There are several terms that must be defined for clarity.
Materialism: In its soft form, the idea that all things except God himself are fundamentally material. In its hard form, a very specific type of Atheism that says all things are fundamentally material, full stop.
Substance Dualism: The idea that body and mind are fully independent and co-fundamental substances.
Idealism: The idea that all things, both material and immaterial, exist fundamentally as information in the mind of God.
Solipsism: The idea that our own minds are fundamental, and that all else is an illusion thereof.
We can immediately eliminate both Materialism and Solipsism, for the following reasons. Hard Materialism, like all denials of God, fails to account for the 1st Cause Argument and physical reality having had a beginning. Soft Materialism has always been condemned by the Church for denying the existence of Angels, among other things. Solipsism arrogates from God the office of Creator.
This leaves only Substance Dualism and Idealism. However, Substance Dualism fails to account for the correlation of mind and brain.
When the brain enters a physical state of fatigue, the mind becomes hazy and tired. When the brain is beset by foreign chemicals, the mind becomes impaired. A concussion likewise affects not only the material brain but also the immaterial mind. Everyone knows this correlation, even in day-to-day experience. The apparent causal direction of this correlation constitutes a further mark against Solipsism. For example, you can not create alcohol molecules in your brain by imagining yourself to be drunk, as you would expect to be able if Solipsism were true.
By process of elimination, Idealism is true. The fundamental mind is that of God, not your own. The fact that you can not create new molecules in your brain by imagining them, then, is well explained.
You are a creature of God, and God uses information as the foundation of all reality. The mere existence of the above explained correlation and the fact that you do not actually experience yourself as two substances, then, are equally well explained.
Genesis discusses a God who speaks his creation into existence. What are words but information? The fundamentality of information, also known as Idealism, likewise runs hand-in-hand with the common wisdom that mathematics is more fundamental than physics.
When distinguishing our own minds from the much larger mind of God, our own sensations and thoughts can be called Qualia. The singular form is Qualium.
Objection 1: "Everything around us seems to be real! Why wouldn't all this be real?"
This objection is based on a confusion between Idealism and Solipsism. Solipsism says that the world is an illusion, created by our own minds. Idealism says that the world is just as real as we are, with all things existing fundamentally as information in the mind of God.
Objection 2: "Why couldn't God create the world according to Soft Materialism, despite the Church's declarations to the contrary?"
When Jesus appointed Peter as the first Bishop, he told him that the Gates of Hell will not prevail. The Church may slip up in small details now and then, but to be completely wrong, about the entire nature and paradigm of the world, would constitute letting the Gates of Hell prevail.
Objection 3: "Can you cite Scriptural or Credal support for such a view?"
As it says in Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." The Scripture here is very consistent with all things existing fundamentally as information, in the mind of God, who holds all things together precisely by creating out of nothingness.
Furthermore, one line of the Nicene Creeds gives "Creator of all things both visible and invisible" as one of the titles of God. In the context from which the Nicene Council Fathers were writing, "visible" and "invisible" were correlated with tangible and intangible, respectively. Intangible things are often outside of time, in which case they do not have an initial moment of creation in the way that temporal things do. Yet God is still the Creator of even things eternal, implying that his act of creation is (at least in some sense or on some level) constant and not merely initial. This correlates easily with all things existing fundamentally in the mind of God.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.