By drawing out the implications of materialism and theism together, it becomes more clear which makes better sense of the life we actually experience.
And that is how we should choose our position. It makes no sense start from a conclusion, constantly using the terms “illusion” and “brute fact” for what one can’t fit into our theory. Life should be considered the “data” that our position is meant to explain.
This being the case, I thought it might be good to put together a short list:
1. Free Will
Materialism entails determinism, and therefore denies that we act of our own free will.
Issues of free will have been raised under certain types of theism, of course, but most types live quite comfortably with it.
2. Moral Realism
Materialism is incompatible with moral realism. And therefore leads its adherents to claim that moral truth is illusory.
Theism, by contrast, is a good explanation of moral realism.
Most claim to have a sense that there is a purpose to life. Materialism denies this.
And, of course, theism is an explanation of meaning in life.
Probably the most basic fact that each of us knows is “I have thoughts”. But materialism denies it. Thoughts, since they can’t be reduced to the physical–and certainly haven’t been supported by physical evidence–are seen as illusory.
Theism has no trouble with the idea that we have thoughts, and offers explanations of that fact.
5. Others’ Consciousness
Materialism offers no explanation of or reason to believe that others actually have consciousness (as opposed to simply behaving as if they do).
Under theism, however, consciousness is perfectly explicable.
6. Sensory Experience
Contrary to general impressions, materialism denies any part of sense experience that cannot be reduced to a mathematical model. It, therefore, denies the actual experience itself and believes only in mathematical abstractions.
Though it completely agrees that mathematical models can be very helpful in understanding the physical world, theism has no need to deny the reality of experience itself.
7. The Physical Universe
Again, this seems a thing that materialism would fervently support. But it cannot explain the existence of the physical universe (and simply calls it a brute fact). Nor, incidentally, does it explain why the other things it cannot explain are not equally “brute facts”.
Theism, on the other hand, offers explanation of the physical universe.
This actually seems to be everything. Really, I can’t seem to find anything at all about real-world experience that materialism explains. And certainly nothing that it explains better than theism. If one is of the position that theories should fit the data, then, the latter is clearly the more reasonable view.