Re: MD Science vs. Theism: Where's The Beef?

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Tue May 03 2005 - 03:07:56 BST

  • Next message: Matt Kundert: "Re: MD Science vs. Theism: Where's The Beef?"

    Hi Sam,

    On 2 May 2005 at 20:47, Sam Norton wrote:

    > Subject change, since I think we might move this beyond the
    > transubstantion debate....

    Very happy to make it wider and let go of TS, but isn't this what we're
    covering in the 'scientific beliefs and religious faith' thread?

    Probably, but it's been awhile since I've seen anything there.
    Besides, I think my subject line is cuter, don't you?

    > 1) Ant offered the belief in transubstantion as evidence of a
    > science/theism conflict.
    > 2) Sam said TS implies no conflict, citing Aquinas' explanation of
    > TS as making a distinction between substance and accidents, saying
    > that the bread and wine change in substance, not accidents and, since
    > science is able to mark changes in accidents, not substance, there is
    > no conflict.

    Between 1 and 2 there was quite a dialogue between Scott and Ant which
    covered a lot of ground.

    Yeah, Scott's already sent me a scolding post. Like, I'm supposed to
    remember EVERYTHING?

    > 3) Sam claimed, therefore, that no Catholics really believe they are
    > eating flesh and drinking blood.

    That's *roughly* the implication, but I don't think they were my words. But,
    taken in a certain way, OK.

    > 5) I claimed that this is not the impression I got as a young
    > Catechism student. But maybe Sister Mary hadn't read Aquinas.
    > 6) Ant said that maybe she had but was doing what the church seeks to
    > do: indoctrinating members to adopt non-questioning, non-scientific,
    > authoritarian explanations of what is and isn't true.

    This is where I want to quote Ian about 99% propaganda. This just seems to
    be passing on other people's opinions. No independent thought required, just
    parrot the criticisms made by the governments of Protestant countries in the
    sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The whole question - as I see it - is
    about what counts as 'questioning, scientific explanation', which I was
    hoping Ian was going to comment on.

    I think he said "99% twaddle," but he was referring to someone else.
    I would have said 99% dogmatic bullshit, but I'm not as polite.

    > 7) In a similar vein, very recently, DMB said that this is how
    > theologians protect themselves from scientific criticism, claiming,
    > basically, for example in this case (TS), there is a substantial
    > change that is not measurable by science, but is nevertheless real.

    Ditto my comments above. But also there wasn't much of a 'scientific'
    problem when TS began. The 'evidence' is perceived through faith, however
    you want to define 'nevertheless real'. Or is the argument that only what is
    scientific is real? (does anyone who accepts the MoQ believe that?)

    It depends on what you mean by science. My idea of science is that
    proposed by RMP, who despite the noise from the ani-intellectuals on
    this list, is neither anti-science nor anti-intellectual. A careful
    reading of either ZMM or LILA shows that he has a great respect for
    both. His comments re Henri Poincare, Einstein... and Dusenberry, for
    example. IMO, Pirsig's intention is to EXPAND quotidian scientific
    inquiry to include moral evaluations and relative "betterness",
    right-wrong, good and bad. His claim is that the best scientists do
    this already and always have; it's the only way real science can
    proceed, since we cannot test every possible explanation of any one
    phenomenon. The best scientists choose the best path of inquiry
    based on their innate sense of Quality and, therefore, come with the
    best explanations for the phenomena we experience.

    However, even with this expanded understanding of science, I'd say
    that "faith" cannot produce evidence of anything, other than of it's
    own existence.

    > msh now says:
    > If David is correct, and I think he is, then it will be IMPOSSIBLE
    > for any scientist to show a conflict between science and theology.
    > This doesn't bother me much, because I've always claimed that science
    > and theology are mutually exclusive areas of investigation, one with
    > its roots in practical empiricism, the other stemming from
    > assumptions based on faith.
    > It seems to me that, at this point, the discussion would be over but,
    > because, for whatever reason, most (all?) theologians are desirous
    > of science's stamp of approval, they constantly offer challenges
    > exactly like the challenge offered by Scott to begin this thread.
    > And the circle goes round...

    I think Feyarabend's missive was to the point.

    I'll see if I can find it... but I thought we all agreed to keep
    secondary informational scavenger hunts to a minimum.

    > So, to me the interesting question has always been, why do
    > theologians so often appear to seek the imprimatur of science?

    Because they've absorbed the ideology of the age.

    BUt why the absorption one way and not the other? Why wasn't
    Oppenheimer running around trying to get Reinhold Niebuhr's approval?

    > I'll appreciate any comments along these lines, but please bear in
    > mind that I have little familiarity with modern theology.
    > Nevertheless, you should be able to make valid ideas understandable,
    > even to a theological dufus like me. Just as I can discuss any
    > aspect of computer science in terms understandable to non CS
    > Engineers.

    See my other post, when it comes through.

    Will do.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
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    "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why,
    why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he
    understand." - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

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