To Religion To last section of Religion

The Conclusion. With this explanation of how there is a perfect being in a spatiomaterial world like ours (see Religion), we have not only finished explaining how the world is whole, but have also paid off the last of the four mortgages that we took out in order to use spatiomaterialism as our foundation for proving necessary truths about the world. The final way that the world is whole is that God is immanent in the world, instead of transcending it. The world itself is a perfect being. Not only does the basic nature of the world give rise to progressive evolution, but the perfect rational being that inevitably comes into existence through evolution as ontological reason recognizes that there is something worthy of worship in a spatiomaterial world like ours is a perfect personal being. That not only explains the phenomenon of religion, but explains it in the most compelling way, namely, by showing that God exists necessarily in a spatiomaterial world like ours.

Let us first look back at the structure of the foregoing argument, confirming that its foundation is firm and that it is indeed a new way of doing philosophy, for that will put us in a position to see where we are landed here at the end.

Even though we had established that spatiomaterialism is the best ontological explanation of the world, if it is possible, it was necessary to take out three mortgages it order to use spatiomaterialism as the foundation for this philosophical argument, because there are certain phenomena that make it seem impossible. These phenomena were the existence of consciousness, the truth of Einsteinian relativity, the nature of goodness, and the widespread belief in the existence of something that is worthy of worship. Holiness has just been explained, for we have seen the sense in which God creates Himself in the rich soil of philosophical spiritual animals as ontological philosophy evolves. But before looking around to see where this argument had landed us, let us recall how the other three mortgages were paid off in the course of deriving this final necessary truth from spatiomaterialism.

Consciousness. The existence of consciousness was explained as one of the basic kinds of properties that exists in a world made of many material substances. Properties are aspects of substances that exist because the substances themselves exist, and in order to have properties by which they can have relations to one another, substances must be something in themselves. Since they must exist in some way or other in themselves, substances must have intrinsic properties and properties of that some kind can, in principle, explain consciousness.

Extrinsic properties are the properties that enable substances to have relations to one another. They include all the physical properties, though in in a world constituted by space and matter, as we have seen, there is a difference between two kinds of extrinsic properties. There are extrinsic properties of matter (and space) that enable bits of matter to coincide with parts of space (including motion), and there are extrinsic properties of bits of matter by which bits of matter that coincide with parts of space can be related to other bits of matter (that is, are able to interact with one another). The former account for location and motion, and the latter for interactions.

The ways that bits of matter are in themselves are their intrinsic properties, which afford an ontological explanation of consciousness. The so-called "hard problem" about consciousness is the fact that experience has an appearance or feels like something, and the intrinsic natures of bits of matter are of a kind that can, in principle, explain the simple sensory qualia, such as green and b-flat, that seem to be the elementary parts of the appearance that the natural world has for the subject in perception. (See Properties.)

Furthermore, if the intrinsic properties of bits of matter can explain qualia, they can also explain the complex configurations of sensory qualia by which qualia appear to be located in (phenomenal) space (along with other phenomenal properties). Given how the mammalian brain is structured to serve as a faculty of imagination, the photons it generates have extrinsic natures (the spatiotemporal structure they have as a result of being generated by the thalamocortical projection) that register the activity of the brain as a behavior guidance system, and thus, their intrinsic natures would explain the complex phenomenal properties that things have as subjects experience them (and as rational subjects reflect on them). Assuming that phenomenal properties are intrinsic properties, rational beings in a spatiomaterial world like ours are inevitably conscious. (See Change: Unity of consciousness.)

Absolute space. The truth of Einsteinian physics was explained in the course of deriving from spatiomaterialism truths about change. Changes in properties and relations that happen over time are simply aspects of the world that are constituted by the basic substances, space and matter, because of their nature and how they exist together as they endure through time. Beyond the principles of local motion and local action, which are ontologically necessary, there are local regularities about change that do not follow from spatiomaterialism, but are compatible with it. These contingent laws are known from experience of what happens in the world, and since those laws include the basic laws of contemporary physics, another mortgage had to be taken out on spatiomaterialism. That is, Einstein’s two theories of relativity are generally thought to be incompatible with absolute space and absolute time, and since absolute space and time are entailed by spatiomaterialism as an ontology of substances enduring through time, we had to promise to show that spatiomaterialism can explain the truth of Einstein’s theories of relativity in order to take spatiomaterialism as our foundation. That explanation was given in the course of showing how spatiomaterialism can explain the truth of all the basic laws of physics (see Special theory of relativity and General theory of relativity under Change). We did that and then went on to show that spatiomaterialism can also explain the truth of quantum mechanics and cosmology (including a spatiomaterialist theory of the basic particles of physics and a spatiomaterialist theory about how the universe is eternal, which could explain the apparent truth of big bang cosmogony). Thus, the theories of physics describe quantitatively precise regularities about change that we know could be constituted by space and matter enduring through time.

Nor is it puzzling why this has been overlooked by physics. Physics assumes that the only way of knowing about the nature of the natural world is to infer to the best efficient-cause explanation of what is perceived, and since the mathematically simplest theories for predicting quantitatively precise changes refer to spacetime, instead of space as a substance in time, it has been led to believe that space cannot be absolute.

Goodness. The nature of goodness was explained in the course of deriving truths about evolution as a global regularity constituted by space and reproductive cycles. Goodness poses a problem for every contemporary kind of naturalism, because what is currently known by science (especially contemporary Darwinism) does not seem to afford any explanation of the difference between facts and values that does not make values subjective, that is, mere projections of the feelings, beliefs or special interests of human beings onto the world, suggesting that nothing corresponds to them in natural world. But with the proof that evolution in a spatiomaterial world like ours is change in the direction of natural perfection, it was possible to explain what is good as what contributes to the natural perfection of the whole of which it is part. (See Natural perfection: Goodness under Reproductive Causation under Change.)

All the kinds of things that are usually thought to be good turn out to be true, according to this evolutionary theory about the nature of goodness, including not only what is good for organisms of all kinds and the ecology, but also what is in the individual, spiritual and religious self interest of rational beings. (See What ought to be.)

However, not only does it explain what is good, the ontological explanation of the nature of goodness also explains why the good is good. It is good because it contributes to natural perfection. Natural perfection is the kind of perfection that is appropriate to a spatiomaterial world like ours, because evolution makes the most out of the material and structural global regularities, that is, out of the basic nature of matter and space. There is a general direction of change in the world because of the thermodynamic flow of matter from potential energy to evenly distributed heat, and what evolves are structural causes that use the free energy provided to make things happen in the world that would not otherwise happen. The optimal part-whole relation is one that does the most with the least, and since in this case, the part-whole relation is how structural causes are combined to control relevant conditions in the world, such part-whole relations are optimal when they control relevant conditions as much as possible with the fewest and simplest structural causes. That is, evolution produces as much order out of chaos as is possible. And the parts that contribute to such optimal part-whole relations are good because they contribute to natural perfection.

Since all four mortgages have been paid off, there is no good reason to doubt that spatiomaterialism is true. No other phenomena in the world seems even remotely incompatible with spatiomaterialism. We conclude, therefore, that what seems to be the best ontological explanation of the world is actually the true explanation of the nature of what exists. We and our world are constituted by space and matter as substances enduring through time.

To whole diagramThe implications of spatiomaterialism about the world are, therefore, ontologically necessary relative to what is known by ordinary arguments and the experience of what happens in the world. That is the structure that the whole diagram represents the argument of ontological philosophy as having.

Though spatiomaterialism is itself established by an empirical argument, it is prior to empirical science and all the ordinary arguments in the culture of rational level spiritual animals, because it is the conclusion of an inference to the best ontological-cause explanation of the natural world, rather than an inference to the best efficient-cause explanation. And by and large, the ontologically necessary truths that follow from it are not recognized (though some are merely not recognized as being necessary for ontological reasons), because naturalists have failed to recognize that spatiomaterialism is the best ontological explanation of the natural world (as a result of their inference to Einsteinian physics as the best efficient-cause explanation of what happens at high velocity and in gravitational fields).

Since most of the ontologically necessary truths that follow from spatiomaterialism depend on space and matter having the detailed natures described by the basic laws of physics, most are conditionally necessary and hold only in spatiomaterial worlds like our own. They depend on the laws of physics being true. But since there is no reason to doubt that the laws of physics are true as far as they go, there is no reason to doubt these truths are ontologically necessary in our world. And these ontologically necessary truths are most surprising, for they include an ontological explanation of evolution as a global regularity which implies that evolution is progressive, that is, change in the direction of natural perfection, thereby explaining goodness as contributing to natural perfection. Moreover, evolution follows an inevitable course through a series of stages of evolution up to rational beings like us and beyond.

Ontologically necessary truths are the context of the contingent. That is, necessary truths constitute the possibilities and set the limits to what actually exists in the world. The contingent is “contained” by the necessary, and thus, there are two levels of contingency, according to ontological philosophy. What spatiomaterialism entails holds of every possible spatiomaterial world, and that is the context in which we explained the truth of the laws of physics. Second, the nature of what exists in a spatiomaterial world like our own gives rise to all the differences among material objects and alternative ways in which events can unfold. From all that is possible, only some possibilities come into existence. That is the actual. The world exists only at the present moment, and it is contingent, insofar as it depends on how the world was at some earlier time. But global regularities about change are among the necessary truths, and that means that in a wide range of circumstances, regardless what else happens, certain kinds of events will occur and certain kinds of objects will come to exist, including the entire course of evolution.  

Ontological philosophy has, therefore, established itself as a new way of doing philosophy, which is unfazed by the problems that have plagued traditional epistemological philosophy.

It is a way of doing philosophy, because, like epistemological philosophy, it is a two step argument, which would unite all the arguments of rational-level culture into a single argument. First, it establishes a foundation, and then it uses that foundation to prove that certain propositions hold necessarily. But instead of using as its foundation a theory about the nature of reason that is formulated on the basis of what rational subjects know about knowing by reflecting on how they know and showing that certain proposition are known with certainty, it uses as its foundation a theory about the nature of the basic substances that constitute everything in and about the world and shows that certain aspects of the world are ontologically necessary.

Thus, instead of assuming that intuition is a valid way of knowing about the world, ontological philosophy assumes that substances are a valid way of explaining what exists in the world. And instead of epistemologically necessary truths about the world (including the various forms of "realism" that are supposed to be known with certainty), it defends ontologically necessary truths.

Its necessary truths eventually put ontological philosophy in a position to give its own explanation of the nature of reason, including the appearance that reason involves an intuition of some kind (that is, the phenomenal properties generated by a brain with rational imagination as the intrinsic natures of the photon it gives off), and thus, it explains all the same phenomena as epistemological philosophy. That affords an ontological critique of epistemological philosophy.

In the end, therefore, ontological and epistemological philosophy can both be seen as arguments about arguments. That is what makes them a higher level of forensic organization in the evolution of arguments in culture by rational selection. But since ontological philosophy succeeds in explaining everything in and about the world, it unites all the arguments of reflective stage culture and there is no room for the kinds of disputes that arose within epistemological philosophy. There may still be disputes, but they will be of a different kind.

Nor will the disputes that do persist cripple ontological philosophy in the way that epistemological philosophy has been crippled by its problems. Though epistemological philosophy is also an argument from the whole to the part, the "whole" from which epistemological philosophy argues is just a theory about the nature of reason, rather than an theory about the nature of what exists in the world. And since epistemological philosophy has different ways of explaining the nature of reason, it has, as we have seen, different ways of explaining the validity of ordinary, first level arguments (of rational spiritual animals). But there is only one way of explaining how the world itself is whole, if we establish our philosophical foundation by inferring to the best ontological explanation of the world, and thus, there is no room for alternative ways of doing ontological philosophy.

At this point, however, it is relevant to recall what we acknowledged at the beginning, that this argument is not just a new way of doing philosophy, but equally a new way of doing science. Indeed, it is the unification of science and philosophy. That is what I have been calling "ontological reason."

Science and philosophy look like mutually exclusive alternatives, because they have different methods. Science is committed to the empirical method, whereas philosophy aspires to find a higher or deeper foundation for knowing that will unite all the arguments of culture into a single argument and justify propositions that are necessary relative to them.

In the end, however, science and philosophy are identical. What unites them is empirical ontology. And empirical ontology is a legitimate heir of both science and philosophy, though it ultimately assimilates both of them, uniting them as aspects of a single way of knowing.

Science provides the empirical method, and philosophy supplies the notion of ontological explanation. Hence, "empirical ontology."

To be sure, empirical ontology requires philosophy to accept the empirical method as the way of determining which ontology is true. That means giving up epistemology as the foundation of its two-level argument, because its ontological beliefs will be determined by what is the best ontological-cause explanation of the natural world, rather than by what supposedly follows from its reflection-based theory about the nature of reason. But philosophy will keep its philosophical method, because it will use that ontology as a foundation for demonstrating necessary truths. The difference is that those truths are ontologically necessary, rather than epistemologically necessary, or certain, as traditional epistemological philosophy assumed.

Empirical ontology requires science to change as well, for science must accept the validity of ontological-cause explanations, as well as efficient-cause explanations. Since ontological-cause explanations are prior to efficient-cause explanations, that is to recognize empirical ontology as a more basic branch of science than physics. And that is what requires science to give up Einsteinian spacetime in favor of the belief in space as a substance enduring through time (with an inherent motion). But ontological science is no less empirical, and it will keep all the efficient-cause explanations of natural science. The conclusions of empirical science describe aspects of the world (namely, regularities) that must be explained ontologically. But such an ontological reduction of the laws of science to spatiomaterialism is quite fruitful. Inferring to the best spatiomaterialist explanation of the basic laws of physics leads to deeper theories in physics, solving basic problems confronted by contemporary physics, and the reduction of laws in less general branches of science to spatiomaterialism leads, for example, to the discovery of new global regularities, such as the inevitable course of evolution.

Indeed, the ontological explanation of the conclusions of empirical science is essential to ontological philosophy, because that is what gives ontological philosophy a theory about the nature of reason by which to unite all the arguments of rational level culture as parts of a single argument about the world. Without science, ontological philosophy could not succeed in doing what epistemological philosophy tried and failed to do. Though it could still demonstrate more elementary necessary truths about the world, physics is required to show the inevitability of evolution, and without contemporary neurophysiology, it would not be possible to trace the stages of evolution to an explanation of the nature of reason. Since the ontological critique of epistemological philosophy depends on that ontological reduction of reason, ontologists without modern science would be no better off than the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Ontological reason would still lie in the distant future.

In other words, empirical ontology makes both science and philosophy ontological, and the union of ontological science and ontological philosophy is "ontological reason."

It may seem that after the advent of ontological reason there is still a difference between science and philosophy. Each may seem to use the spatiomaterialist ontology in a different way. Science will use spatiomaterialism to explain why its laws and efficient-cause explanations are true, that is, to reduce them to ontology. On the other hand, philosophy will use spatiomaterialism to show why certain propositions about the world are necessary.

These projects are not, however, as different as they seem. The argument by which ontological philosophy demonstrates necessary truths is formally the same argument by which the conclusions of science are reduced ontologically. And it is the ontological necessity of those implications of spatiomaterialism that supplies the long-sought explanation of causal necessity. The necessary connection between efficient causes and their effects (which eluded Hume) is provided by taking into account the substances constituting the relevant events, because substances endure though time with the same nature.

Thus, science and philosophy are parts of a more complete knowledge. Philosophy provides science with the necessity that it needs, and science provides philosophy with the method that it needs to establish its foundation as well as the detailed conclusions about efficient causes that are needed to explain the nature of reason.

At the beginning, I said that ontological philosophy is an explanation of the wholeness of the world, but that I could not explain fully what I meant by “the wholeness of the world” until the end. We are now in a position to see what it means. To explain the wholeness of the world is to explain how everything fits together as a whole. And ontological philosophy reveals, as we have seen, that everything fits together as a Perfect Being. The wholeness of the world is ultimately the perfection of the world. It includes all the others forms of wholeness, for they all make essential contributions to the perfection of the world.

An ontological explanation of the world can claim to be whole because it offers a complete explanation of everything in the world, not only its existence, but every aspect of its existence, including all the properties, relations and regularities about change. And spatiomaterialism had a special claim to explaining the wholeness of the world, because it differs from received ontologies by recognizing the existence of a substance that makes the world whole. Space not only provides a location for everything in the world, but also, by enduring through time with all the matter, imposes local and global regularities on the change that takes place in the world. Moreover, the large scale structure of the universe inevitably gives rise to situations in which evolutionary change takes place over long periods of time. Evolution is change in the direction of a natural perfection that includes rational beings, like us, who come to recognize the wholeness of the world. Hence, it inevitably leads to beings who act for the good of the world as a whole, making the world more perfect, more whole.

There is, therefore, an Absolute Truth about the world. Not only does it hold for everyone in the world, but it is also the complete truth about the world. And since it shows that the world itself, because of its nature, is a Perfect Being, it answers all the most profound questions that rational beings can expect to be answered. The Absolute Truth is, in short, the explanation of the wholeness of the world, which reveals that the world itself is perfect.

The world is a way of existing that makes the most of existence.

Hugh Renbircs
Philosopher