"...but when I die, just like you, I will be nothing more than space dust and all the molecules of matter..."Such statements are wide-spread and betray the philosophical naivety and unexamined assumptions of the typical village atheist. Do you see the incoherence of this claim of an atheist material monist? He says he "...will be nothing more." This atheist's language betrays his belief that he is currently something more than molecules.
However, on the material monist view and his assumption of the uniformity of nature he was, is and will always be nothing more than matter. To be perfectly clear, according to material monism, this atheist is at present nothing more than molecules. This is a matter of logical consistency. The atheist's faith commitment to the uniformity of nature requires this conclusion. Of course, it is true that his current configuration of molecules is different than those of a dispersed configuration of those molecules, and as such, they exhibit different properties than the dispersed molecules. This is no more puzzling than Hydrogen molecules and Oxygen molecules having different properties than water when they are combined chemically to produce H2O. But such properties, sometimes termed "emergent," are not autonomous properties.1 All of the properties of water are reducible to the underlying laws of matter by way of the equations of quantum mechanics. The behavior of water is determined by the underlying quantum mechanical properties of the ultimate material constituents (the quantum fields which we have discussed here). This is the case for all configurational properties of matter, they are all reducible to the underlying physics. In fact, according to material monism and the uniformity of nature they must be. This is the scientific ideal of atheistic science -- all of reality must ultimately come within the purview of physical causal laws. After all, it is called material monism, right? Reality is closed with respect to matter and its motions via physical causes. According to the myth of macro-evolution, the physical processes that produced the stars, galaxies, solar systems, planets then ultimately life, then conscious life along with the human intellect, are necessarily, by continuity, the same processes producing the present behaviors of particular molecular configurations called "man." Any "mental" properties of this particular configuration of molecules are determined by the dance of the quantum fields, not the other way around. So much for free rational thought. Ironically, these philosophies and theories are the products of self-styled atheist "free thinkers!"
This atheist, like all village atheists, maintains the mutually incoherent assumptions of human autonomy, uniformity of nature (their principle of necessity) and the ultimate chance character of reality. These are uncritically examined presuppositions of the typical unbeliever. To maintain human autonomy in the face of material monism is to believe that humans are magical configurations of matter. In a solely material universe human autonomy would not exist. Nonetheless, village atheist Richard Dawkins unabashedly believes in atheist miracles.2 "Consistent" atheists like Provine, Rosenberg and Harris (as discussed here, here and here) can clearly see the logical conclusion of their faith in material monism and the uniformity of nature and thereby deny human rational autonomy -- even though it reduces their epistemology and ethics to absurdity. It follows from their presupposition that they know nothing, despite their claim to "scientific" knowledge, and they acknowledge the total amoral character of reality.
1 Philosopher John Searle's favorite example of emergent properties is digestion. He correctly points out that digestion is not a property of elementary particles. However, it is obvious that such an emergent biological property is not autonomous and is reducible to bio-chemistry, then to physics and quantum mechanics. To deny that would be to destroy the continuity of nature and the entire atheist reductionist "scientific" enterprise. Reductionism is a necessary corollary of material monism. And bottom-up physical causation is the only causation in town.↩
2 Discussed here. Dawkins, by maintaining human autonomy, is apparently unaware that he has implicitly thrown out the uniformity of nature. Hence, human autonomy to Dawkins is an irrational miracle.↩