The acceptance of Darwinian evolution in the nineteenth century was the key development in moving the scientific world into hard-core materialism. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of leading physical scientists became convinced of the reality of a nonphysical world. Among them were Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner, one of the greatest physicists of the century, the mathematician and quantum mechanics theorist John von Neumann (sometimes called “the smartest man who ever lived”), and Sir Karl Popper, recognized as the most famous philosopher of science of recent times. Sir John Eccles quotes Popper as saying:
“According to determinism, any theory…is held because of a certain physical structure of the holder—perhaps of his brain. Accordingly, we are deceiving ourselves…whenever we believe that there are such things as arguments or reasons…. Purely physical conditions…make us say or accept whatever we say or accept.”
If materialism and determinism are true, then the theory of evolution itself must be the result of random thoughts and thus could not be true. In fact, the very concept of true and false, good and evil—and all other ideas and beliefs—would simply be the result of random motions of atoms in the brain which all began with a big bang billions of years ago and have proceeded by chance ever since. If so, then our thoughts have no meaning. On the contrary, the fact that the mind must be something other than brain, and that it formulates meaningful thoughts, is demanded by our everyday experience and forms another argument against materialism.