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Got Evidence?

July 3, AD 2013 27 Comments

Light

This has become the atheist motto at Brandon Vogt’s new digital areopagus, Strange Notions, not an unfair question at all, but one that deserves addressing. It goes like this.

God exists.

Got evidence?

What is “evidence”? Evidence refers to that which is evident, that which is visible, manifest, conspicuous, on display, something serving as observable proof. If something is evident, then it can be determined by anyone (who looks) to be true. If something is not evident, it cannot be publicly verified.

Evidence refers to visible public information.

If it were true (it’s not) that the material world were all that existed, then someone who has a “belief in God” is merely holding an opinion in his brain matter, a delusion. So when they ask for evidence, they are asking for some visible, public object that anyone can see, knowing that God is not going to suddenly appear in physical form before them all to say, “Howdy I’m God!”

But what does science have to say about vision if it’s so critical for evidence? Oddly, science says vision is also a kind of delusion. This is from an essay provided to me by Max Weismann, philosopher and co-founder with Mortimer Adler of the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas. In this essay written by Sir Alfred Brian Pippard and first published in Contemporary Physics in 1988, titled The Invincible Ignorance of Science, he argues that science keeps leading us to more and more questions, every time we think we understand matter, we discover we don’t. I’ve read it numerous times now, and it takes some digesting. Here’s what he said about photons (broken into paragraphs for clarity).

Ever since Planck and Einstein, at the beginning of the century, we have lived with the idea of the photon as the quantum of light. To physicists and anyone concerned with photochemical processes the photon is as real a particle as the electron, and nobody questions the propriety of the concept of quantum efficiency applied to optical detectors.

The quantum efficiency of a single rod in the retina is close to unity—only one photon is needed to initiate a chemical process whose ultimate outcome can in principle be a nerve impulse to the brain.

[...]

Let us suppose, as is not technically possible, that a single atom is held isolated in a vacuum, and stimulated so that from time to time it emits a single photon, and that we sit watching for these photons as they emerge. According to standard theory, at every emission process the atom is to be imagined radiating an electromagnetic wave which spreads in all directions; the intensity of the wave that is focused on to a rod receptor in one of my eyes determines the probability that the photon will turn up there rather than outside the eye. But what about my other eye, or for that matter one of your eyes if you are also sitting there waiting for an event?

The wave reaches rods in every eye, yet there is only one photon available to stimulate a response. If I see a photon, how does your eye know that there is no photon for it, even though the wave is just as strong as it was for me? If we could believe that the atom emitted a real photon in one particular direction, and that the wave simply served to make some directions more likely than others, we should accept the uniqueness of the response without question.

But it is precisely this escape route which is firmly blocked by von Neumann’s hidden-variables theorem. Thus the only intuitively reasonable explanation is disallowed, while the unreasonable explanation provided by quantum mechanics yields the required answer without difficulty. We have to lump together into one grand Schrödinger equation the radiating atom and all the receptors that might be excited, and it then emerges that for every atomic process at most one receptor will record a stimulus.

In simpler words, we don’t know what photons are. We have mathematical models to explain appearances, but photons ultimately defy comprehension. The full document is here. I think I’d like to cover it in more depth next week.

My doctoral research focused, in part, on simulating photosynthesis and I had to use equations to measure the quantum yield of photons doing their thing on nano-composite materials. I had to place a great deal of faith in the equations people who lived before me derived, and I had to trust that they could adequately describe and predict experiments. My specimens looked like a glop of sand but instrumentation told me they had sophisticated photosynthetic polymers and inorganic monolayer crystalline sheets layered on them. I used a LASER beam, optically amplified light from the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation, but all I saw was a box with a lot of dials and an intense beam coming from it. I saw signals from Fourier-transformed time-resolved luminescence equipment, data on paper that told me to celebrate, or the other 99% of the time, to change something and try again. I never saw the artificial photosynthesis systems working directly.

To be a chemist is very much to operate in a realm of the invisible. People have asked me before how a scientist could become a Christian, believing in a God whom we cannot see. How could I find it possible to arrive at truth without visible evidence laid before me?

Maybe they don’t realize how little we understand about the light striking our own eyes. Saying we see light is not altogether different from saying we see God, but even light will elude our eyes if we squeeze them shut hard enough.

 

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Hello, and thank you for reading. My name is Stacy Trasancos. I am a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. I write from my tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge that overlooks a small spring-fed lake. Read more about me here. Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or contact me by email. God bless you!
  • Jeff_McLeod

    I fully admit physics and chemistry are not areas of expertise to me.

    So I would love if someone were to tell me what the evidence is for curvature of space.

    Don’t go yapping about Riemannian geometry. I get all that.

    I am asking what the atheist asks. Show me something right here, right now, to tell me that space is curved.

    Your answer has to be, well it’s going to require a lot of context and what philosophers of science call long “derivation chains.” Which is to say the “evidence” is far removed from the concept. It requires some reasoning. There are observations that are CONSISTENT with the curvature of space. Which is to say, there are observations which, in conjunction with physical laws, mathematics, and long chains of inference, are predicted by the concept of curvature of space. But the concept of curvature of space itself is not exhausted by those observations.

    Please don’t bluster. What I’ve just said is acknowledged by the great minds in philosophy of science. Trust me. I’ve talked to a few of them!

    I think the requirement of “evidence” is incoherent and actually a relic of the 19th century. Lots of people much smarter than I am agree with me.

  • Ben @ Two Catholic Men

    The strange thing is that everyone believes all kinds of things they can’t prove (empirically) and don’t even seem to realize it.
    Example:
    An unborn baby is a “non-person”.
    Got evidence?

  • Loreen Lee

    Well I couldn’t follow the physicist argument, but it got me thinking of Descartes again and the idea of ‘self-evidence’. Couldn’t that be what the Cogito ergo sum is all about? I rely on an argument I once read that this phrase is not an argument. The ‘mind’ and what is ‘evident’ to the mind are conceived within a unity. The Ontological argument is thus both epistemological and ontological, at ‘one and the same time’. The consciousness of mind, is a consciousness of being, (however imperfect of ‘incomplete’) the self-evidence of this experience is to me.

    Thus, although the philosophy of foundationalism has suffered a demise along with Cartesianism, I can regard my experience(s) of each moment as self-evident, as long as I don’t bring in such things as memory, imagination, extension of the thought beyond the particular moment, (I’d need logic to do that!) etc. Would though, what is acknowledged to be ‘self-evident’, be accepted by others to constitute ‘evidence’. Probably not. Yet it was the mind which fashioned all of those physical entities out of the self-evidence of their mathematics!

  • John Morgan

    It’s always intrigued me that we can build a rocket ship to the moon. But we can’t understand the most basic living processes on this earth. Yet scientists still think they can outdo God and build a better plant. If they can build one with better efficiency and productivity, It would seem that this would call into question the evolutionary process. Maybe they should ask themselves why plants haven’t already evolved into this higher form of existence. I think I’ll stick with the watermelons in my backyard garden.

  • benedict1

    I am glad you have opened this subject. Immediately, Romans 1:20 comes to mind:

    “For unseen things about him have been made conspicuous,
    since the creation of the world, being understood by the things that
    were made………” (Douay-Rheims) Or, by His works we know HIm.

    If we open our eyes, and use what Aristotle termed our most important sense, We See! As Science digs deeper it is constantly knowing HIm futher by His works. What scientists see, or infer by secondary means through instruments or mathematical manipulation of data, is the unfolding of that which He has made. What no scientist can ever say is “I know why……”, instead it must always be “I know how…..” after the experiments, data analysis and the inductive conclusions are reached about any phenomenon. The Why? must come from God. Science will never discover Why we have a mind or where it came from since it is incorporeal; all attempts fail miserably. As Sherlock Holmes so wisely observed, and I paraphrase, “Watson, when all else has been investigated, what remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth……” Just watching the frenetic twisting and turning to make the multiverse arguments plausible by the cosmologists is proof enough for me. They will do anything to avoid The Transcendental God.

  • Francis Choudhury

    The Church affirms the concept of Sensus fidei (sense of the faith), also
    called sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) which, when exercised by the
    body of the faithful as a whole, is “the supernatural appreciation of
    faith on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of
    the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and
    morals”.

    In the wider world too we clearly witness something similar at play – from
    time immemorial the overwhelming majority of humankind has shared an innate
    sense of the transcendental, a collective “gut feel” that there exists more
    than what merely the eye (of science) can see.

    Even scientists themselves (universally) have to start out with the
    essential premise of intelligibility in all things that exist. They have to
    assume that things aren’t just dumbly, randomly, chaotically there, but that
    they have some form and order and logic (caused in them by some great
    “intelligence”) otherwise how could anything ever be studied or analyzed or
    measured – let alone any equation developed?

    Enter St Paul, who addresses the phenomenon of atheism bluntly: “The wrath
    of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness
    of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known
    about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since
    the creation of the world God’s

    invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen,
    being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks
    to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were
    darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the
    glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and
    birds and animals and reptiles.”

    It’s no co-incidence that atheism, by and large, thrives mainly among
    materially privileged (and therefore tragically bored) peoples, in cultures
    where the titillation of sin, and its easy access, abound.

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  • Bob Drury

    Incisive essay. What impresses me is that no scientist has
    the time or ability to do the science and engineering from scratch that is
    required to substantiate as evidence the data personally generated in a current
    experiment. In my thesis on succinate oxidation in isolated tomato fruit
    mitochondria, the only thing of which I really had direct evidence was that I
    started with tomato fruit. Yet, many in the general population say they accept
    only empirical evidence wherever it may lead. What they mean is that they will
    believe whatever a scientist will tell them. Stacey had every reason to accept
    the data she generated by the instrumentation used in her thesis as evidence.
    Nevertheless, it was all based on faith in prior scientific reports and in the
    instrumentation used. To recognize the role of faith in scientific experimentation
    is not to belittle the experimentation or science, because the faith is well
    founded. But, it is faith in humans. What is evidence to us all is not science,
    but the fruit of technology, e.g. vroom, vroom, vroom. In contrast to science,
    the beauty of philosophy is that it depends solely upon one’s own experience.

    • Martin Snigg

      Bob I was just reading Fr Benedict Ashley on just that difference you mentioned. Heisenberg in his Gifford Lectures was explicit about ultimate reliance on sense experience and natural language for to the deliverances and sharing of natural scientific knowledge. Hope you don’t mind a long quote.

      The Way Toward Wisdom
      Chapter 3: Natural Science is Epistemologically First
      Natural senses v Instruments and Experiments p85

      I have shown how Aristotle demonstrates that all changeable being must have the nine categories of properties. In doing this, I have shown that these facts can be explained in terms of Aristotle’s four causes. The obvious response of the reader must be: “Is this consistent with the findings of modern science or relevant to them?”

      To answer this question, two observations are necessary. First, it is of the utmost importance to note that, in natural science, the foundations of the discipline must be considered prior to the application of artificial techniques of observation. It is often supposed that science has proved thenatural observations made by our unaided senses have been shown to be in many cases false. For example, to our senses the earth does not
      seem to move; yet science has proved that it is rotating on its axis
      and also orbiting the sun. Again, what seems to us to be a solid
      continuous object, like a static dinner table, has been shown to be
      an empty space sparsely populated by molecules or atoms, which also
      are largely empty space traversed by elementary particles in constant
      motion.

      On further examination, however, it is evident that such examples do not
      prove that are senses are in positive error. All that they show is that while our senses correctly inform us about the broader aspects of reality, they cannot directly fill in all the details. The “errors” of normal sense knowledge (if they can even be called that) are purely negative; they
      are insufficiently sensitive to show reality in all its details. But what they do show us is really there. Relative to us on the surface of the earth, the earth
      is stationary and the sun moves. The tabletop does resist our hand
      and uphold most anything set on it.

      Yet, as we focus the lens of telescope or microscope, the more precise
      visual resolution provided by these instruments shows us more and
      more details in what we first saw correctly but only, as it were, in
      outline. To arrive at finer details than our naked senses can give
      us, the use of instruments and controlled experimentation becomes
      necessary. Thus, the difference between ancient Greek and medieval
      science, compared to modern science, lies not so much in their
      epistemology as in the modern invention of observational and
      measuring tools and in techniques of controlled experimentation. My
      eyes can provide only an incomplete picture of reality, and the use
      of instruments may reveal much more. Sir James Jeans made the famous
      assertion that all modern scientific knowledge “reduces to
      pointer-readings on a scale.”

      Hence,natural science would be impossible without human observers able to read the scale correctly and check each other’s readings. Thus, if
      what little I do see could be proved to be in positive error, then no instruments could ever help me arrive at the truth, not even at probable truth. If my senses deceive me in reading my instruments, these instruments are useless. The obstinate Aristotelians who would not look through Galileo’s telescope had a right to be suspicious of what information it might give about distant objects until it had been tested by
      looking at nearer objects already well known to them by their unaided
      eyes, but they had no right to preserve their obstinacy by refusing
      to make such tests.

      This priority of ordinary experience over artificial observation (of
      cenoscopic, [directly viewed] over ideoscopic[specially viewed]
      knowledge, as it were) applies to observations made by experimentally
      isolating objects and by comparing these observations with controls.
      Experiments have an artificial character and cannot be evaluated
      without first showing they are consistent with naturally observed
      facts. Thus we cannot be sure that the behaviour of a caged monkey is
      the same as its behaviour in its normal habitat until we can compare
      its behaviours in both situations. Hence, epistemologically, all of
      natural science depends on basic sense experiences, and, to be valid,
      must consistent with them, even though ideoscopic knowledge carries
      us far beyond what could ever be established or even guessed at by
      purely cenoscopic means. Thus if Aristotle’s analysis of what we know
      about changeable things based on natural observation is accurate, it
      cannot be refuted by modern techniques of observation. Rather, the
      data obtained by these techniques must be shown to be consistent with
      this foundational analysis and interpreted in its light in order to
      become practical.
      —————————————————————————————-
      P.s.
      I know Dr Trasancos is interested, as it happens, in Fr Ashley’s
      book, and might be interested in this perspective:

      Note p220
      “Duhem’s pioneering history of science . . . has also greatly influenced one US Catholic writer who has done the most to promote good relations between Catholicism and science, Stanley L.Jaki OSB; see Jaki’s Scientist and Catholic (1991) and his Gifford Lectures for 1974-1976, The Road of Science and the Ways to God (1978).
      Unfortunately, Jaki accepts Duhem’s “save the appearances” view
      of science and underrates the Aristotelian tradition in science.
      [Duhem attributed the rise of modern science not the Aristotelian but
      the Nominalist tradition of the Okhamists, [dealing with the phenomenal, rather than the essences of natural things; Aquinas/Aristotle's philosophia naturalis]. The problem with this is that, for Aquinas, one cannot formally apply the term scientia (Aristotle’s episteme) to a body of knowledge that attains only probable conclusions [saving
      appearances]. Instead, as pointed out by Charles DeKoninck, such a
      saving of appearances is a dialectic that can serve genuine science but cannot be formally distinguished from it as one genuine science in relation to another genuine science. Thus Aquinas would have called emperiometric science “mixed science of mathematical physics”. Hence those of its negative conclusions that attain certitude render this mixed science a true science, but, as regards its positive and thus merely probably conclusions, it is only a dialectical instrument of natural science.

      [..]

      Moreover, as William Wallace O.P., has shown, [Is Nature Accessible to the Mathematical Physicist? “....it is possible for the mathematical physicist to secure strict demonstrations and thus to possess true scientific knowledge in the Aristotelian sense.”] it is not true that modern science reaches only probable conclusions, although admittedly at any given stage of scientific progress much scientific theory remains only dialectical and probably, and increasingly so as it deals more and more with questions concerning details difficult to observe.”

  • TristanVick

    Evidence is also something that can be measured, either directly or indirectly.

    Not a trivial point.

    • Martin Snigg

      Agreed but we have be careful. Newton’s interpreters often caused him grief:

      “Those violate the accuracy of language which ought to be kept precise, who interpret these words [space, place and motion] for the measured quantities. Nor do those less defile the purity of mathematical and philosophical truths, who confound real quantities with their relations and sensible measures.

      Moreover since body is here proposed for investigation not insofar as it is a physical substance endowed with sensible qualities but only insofar as it is extended mobile and impenetrable I have not defined it in a philosophical manner but abstracting from sensible qualities I have
      postulated only the properties needed for local motion so that
      instead of physical bodies you may understand abstract figures in the
      same way they are considered by geometers when they assign motion to them.”

      Over time this metaphysical guidance as to the place of mathematics in natural philosophy has been lost – mostly for power political reasons. It is easier to do what you want when nature and man is reduced to quantity. In fact Alfred North Whitehead lamented early in the C20th on the fallacy of the misplaced concrete at the centre of scientism:

      “The enormous success of [the enlightenment’s] scientific abstractions,
      yielding on the one hand matter with its simple location in space and
      time, on the other hand mind, perceiving, suffering, reasoning, but
      not interfering, has foisted onto philosophy the task of accepting
      them as the most concrete rendering of fact. Thereby, modern
      philosophy has been ruined. It has oscillated in a complex manner
      between three extremes. There are the dualists, who accept matter and mind as on an equal basis, and the two varieties of monists, those
      who put mind inside matter, and those who put matter inside mind. But
      this juggling with abstractions can never overcome the inherent
      confusion introduced by the [wrongful] ascription of misplaced
      concreteness to the scientific scheme of the seventeenth century.”

      Edward Feser gives an account of that C17th mechanical philosophy’s birth, and it’s zombie like existence today. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com.au/search?q=burtt

      • TristanVick

        I’m not refering to causes, but measurable effects.

        Relativity demonstrated shows we live in a causal universe where space-time are variations of the same physical law.

        As such, all causal events within space-time are measurable, regardless of how some may interpret Newton, or whatever.

        I take the Wittgensteinian view that philosophical truths do not exist, since that would require philosophy to demonstrate an ability to supply answers to its questions. I think natural philosophy, i.e. science, is the only methodology that has successfully done so with any reliability.

        It seems to me that you are merely talking about logical consistencies when it comes to proofs. I am talking about demonstrations. Systems which cannot demonstrate their claims usually prove to be false.

        • Martin Snigg

          Tristan the piont Newton was making is that people were mistaking properties that measurements reveal for the complete account of the nature of thing. Mathematics and measurements are abstractions from and musn’t be mistaken for the thing itself. After all mathematics abstracts from change itself which is the very sine qua non of natural philosophy.

          If philosophical truths don’t exist then he has to remain silent ” Why did Wittgenstein feel
          the need to philosophize his way out of philosophy? He should have known
          that metaphilosophy and anti-philosophy are just more philosophy with
          all that that entails: inconclusiveness, endlessness . . . . He should
          have just walked away from it.” http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2012/05/a-wittgenstein-paradox.html

          And one can’t do a science without accepting a priori the very principles that guide the science, but the science itself can’t demonstrate those principles. I’d suggest having a close read of DeKoninck http://www.charlesdekoninck.com/natural-science-as-philosophy/

          • TristanVick

            Whatever Newton may have been saying doesn’t impact my initial point, as I was not talking about the nature of a thing, merely the ability to measure things which exist in a causal universe thereby specifying the term of what constitutes evidence.

            As far as mathematics being correct, well, very much of it wasn’t initially. Maths has been revised, and tested, over long periods of time against observation, to therefore gain a reliability which makes it reliably correct.

            How math originated, intuitively or via induction (inductive reasoning), doesn’t so much matter. At least it doesn’t make any difference for whether or not it works. Alternatively, the correctness of maths could simply have been a lucky guess. But the origin doesn’t change the reliability of it, regardless of whether it is an abstraction.

            So it seems to me a moot point.

            Unless I am misunderstanding your point. If so, please restate it with a simple clarification.

            Anti-philosophy?

            It is clear to me you have misunderstood Wittgenstein superbly.

            He observed, as a matter of fact, that most philosophical inquires only impose the question but do not supply the methodology to provide reliable answers.

            I have to agree. I do not see any active methodoliges other than science, which yield any reliable answers. I could be mistaken, but it seems the challenge of deriving reliable answers is an easy enough one to test.

            When we test for whether or not a philosophy justifiably lends reliable answers, it seems most lack any independent methodology. What we do find is that philosophy acts as a good way to reflect about experience and ask questions about that experience, as we compare and contrast them against other experiences.

            It does not, with the exception of science, provide a means to explain the why or how of the experiences. Hence metaphysical naturalism seems to be correct based on the success of empiricism, and this lends justification to the validity of natural philosophy.

            Other metaphysics, as far as I can tell, do not have the same support. That isn’t to claim all metaphysics is impotent, as there may be other potentially valid forms of metaphysics. How might we test them becomes the question.

          • Martin Snigg

            What is it about Newton’s statement that is obscure?

            But Tristan we measure things in order to discover what a thing is through its powers and sensible effects properties of natural things, its powers, i.e the principles of being the thing it is.

            And my point about mathematics stands I don’t see how origins affects what the subject of the science either, but it isn’t a response to my point. DeKoninck might help you understand the division of the sciences, otherwise I don’t think I can be clearer. Maybe William Wallace OP’s philosophy of nature course? http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c02000.htm

            Tristan, read the link I supplied re: Wittgenstein, to see how it is self-refuting. When you talk about methodology, you are doing philosophy. A method supplies the principles of enquiry you reason tells you ought to be fitted to the kind of entities you want to study. The study itself doesn’t supply those principles needed, they are prior to experience.

            Your last paragraphs are an even greater confusion, coming as they do from foundational misunderstandings. I’ll leave it at that and hope you do a bit of reading.

          • TristanVick

            I wasn’t talking about “doing” philosophy, per se.

            I was citing Wittengstein’s approach so as to relate that doing something doesn’t, by default, necessarily yield answers.

            That was his point. He wasn’t making any contradictions. He was reflecting on the fact that philosophy is not reliable in itself to answer all the questions it raises.

            It’s that simple.

          • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

            What have you read besides Wittengstein? Just curious. I haven’t read Wittengstein. I can barely spell it.

            Martin is not obfuscating and meandering though. I understand what he is saying. Infinite doubt gets you nowhere.

            It’s like some people are standing at the crossroads of truth and lies, still scratching their heads wondering if the paths are really there.

          • TristanVick

            I’ve read my Kant. Twice. Then thrice at the bequest of my friend who is a PhD candidate in theology and has joined the catholic clergy as a priest.

            Many of my metaphysical views are Kantian.

            Of course I’ve read my Aristotle. My Hume. My Kierkegaard. My Plato. Friedrich Nietzsche. Thomas Hobbes. Rene Descartes. Spinoza, Locke, and many others.

            I’ve read most of the enlightenment philosophers. I’ve studied the Golden Age of Freethought extensively, going back to the French revolutionists .

            I’ve read my Lao Tsu, Zhang Zai, and I have studied Zen Buddhism for half a decade. Including the parables of Tanzan, among my personal favorites.

            I’ve read William James thoroughly. I think he is one of the greatest philosophical minds of all time. As you know, he helped create the field of study known as the psychology of religion.

            I have studied philosophy extensively, even reading contemporaries like Graham Oppy, J.D. Trout, Michael Bishop and more.

            Most of what I read, however, is in the field of psychology and physics. But I am not a psychologist or physicist.

            My training is in rhetoric and English theory. I also have degrees in history.

            I enjoy Wittgenstein because many of his philosophical insights line up with recent studies in constructivism with regard to learning theory as a sound epistemological starting point.

            I could keep writing lists of people I’ve read, but I don’t want to bore you.

            And sorry to say, but Martin was obfuscating. Even if you caught his meaning, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing it. Which he was. I was just giving him some constructive criticism. He can take it or leave it.

          • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

            Alright. Thank you for that explanation. It’s hard to *know* people on the internet combox. I’ve known Martin for a while, and I know he is trying to communicate and I know he is knowledgeable about the philosophy and the history. He’s not argumentative, he’s sincere. I think you missed that.

            You have read much more philosophy than I have, but I’m working on it. I have a hard time reading anyone who opposes Catholic thought. Catholic thought makes sense to me, and so often other writers who oppose it, down through history, seem to be so transparently writing from a perspective of opposition. It takes away from the scholarly intent. I don’t want the bias, I want the objective analysis.

            The Eastern religions, nothing here. I defer to you.

            Welcome! I write to learn, and there are some good people commenting here. It’s slower than Strange Notions, but we like it that way. Long comments are great.

          • TristanVick

            Stacy, I may come off as argumentative but that is not always my intent. I simply do not concede to points as a matter of fact when a person hasn’t attempted to support their arguments.

            The reason I approach the discourse in this direct fashion is because I want to challenge people to try and reason through their claims. We learn more about ourselves, and others, if we take the time to think about these issues in depth.

            I wasn’t trying to pick on Martin. I think he has a lot of ideas he wants to express, and that’s a good thing. But a little clarity will go a long ways.

            Also, I noticed he defers to authorities, and that’s fine, but there is a difference between using an authority to support your point, and then simply saying go read this without explaining why it helps support your point. That is why it is an obfuscation. He’s confusing the matter by not making it clear what he wants you to gleam from reading such and such an author/paper.

            So I hope he takes my constructive criticism to heart. Teaching how to construct a coherent argument and then defend one’s premise is an area of expertise for me. But I don’t rely too much on credentials. Good critical thinking is a skill we all can improve on, I find.

            As for philosophy, yes, I tend to be well read. But I wasn’t always. Philosophy, like theology, has a very specific vernacular and word usage. It takes a while to get comfortable with the language.

            I look forward to having more in depth conversations with you all.

      • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

        Martin, thanks for that quote and that link.

        I’ll never forget a brief conversation I had with some peers upon graduation with our coveted degrees.

        We all admitted that it was kind of scary because, as much as we knew how to do our experiments and run our equipment, we didn’t really feel like we knew all the much more than when we started.

        Doctor of philosophy? The only time I heard that word was in the name of the degree. But what was “philosophy”?

        For a while I thought it was just an oversight in the education system. But it’s not, is it? It’s more than that.

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Then how do we measure a photon of light? In your own words.

      • TristanVick

        By observing them via either stimulated emission or lasers. Large particle accelerators can also be used to detect and measure them.

        In the lab photons are isolated in coherence beams of high powered lasers.

        There are many experiments used in the past to detect them and measure their strange properties. Thomas Young’s double-slit experiment, for example. All of which led up to James Klerk Maxwell’s predictions which were later confirmed by Neinrich Hertz.

        Here’s a picture of a physicist using a coherence beam to emit photons of light.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Military_laser_experiment.jpg

        • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

          Did you read and try to understand Pippard’s explanation about measuring photons above? That’s the point. We don’t really know how to measure them. We don’t measure them so much as we have equations which explain appearances, but those equations also defy comprehension.

          • Lamonte McClung

            Please let me know the “evidence” for the Verfiability Criterion Of Meaning-only those propositions are meaningful that can be verified by evidence. This “Criterion” is one of the basic unprovable-by-evidence dogmas of atheistic materialists and of many scientists. But many scientists are believers and know that God’s grandeur “shakes out like shining from shook foil.”

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