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Switch to Forum Live View Spirituality in the Scientific World
3 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2012 - 10:13PM #1
JimRigas
Posts: 2,950

In many of these threads the word spirituality comes up and is immediately attacked by the scientific-minded readers who demand scientific, objective proof of its existence, and when none is presented, they reject the arguments.   So I thought that we can use a separate thread to seriously discuss the existence of spirituality.   But first we must define it.   


I will define "spirituality,"  as the opposite of "materialism." Anything that is not material is spiritual.  which requires that we first define materialism.


Materialism is the belief that everything consists of atoms, electrons or any of the other subatomic particles, or of energy with which such materials are interchangeable.   These things can be detected and measured by our physical instruments. 


So if you remove all the material things from a human (bones, flesh, muscles, nerves, brain, blood, fluids and electric currents between these parts) whatever is left is spirit.  The only problem, of course, is that science tells us that there is nothing else left.  Science does not detect in the human body anything other than the material things we listed above.  So if not there, you will ask, can I point to anything in the Cosmos which is not material but spiritual?


During the last 90 years our material world has been explained by the physics of Quantum Mechanics.  And the main postulate of this theory is that unless a subatomic particle is being observed it has no physical properties (such as spin etc.) and it exists only as a mathematical wave.  The two-slit experiments have proved this a long time ago.  If we try to look  for the particle, it is there and we see it.  If we don't try to look for it, then there is  no particle but a wave.  And the more recent "delayed two-slit experiments" have revealed that the particle "decides" whether it will behave as a physical particle or as a wave even before the actual decision is made on whether we will look at it or not.  There is no material explanation for this phenomenon.   This is pure magic. 


To restate the scientific conclusion, the act or intent of a human to detect a part of the universe brings it into existence.  Yet science does not detect in the human body any separate organ, or capability that can cause such an event.  What is missing?


Similarly,  Quantum Mechanics explains the EPR Paradox by postulating that under some conditions, particles light years apart communicate instantaneously because, it explains, they belong to the same mathematical state.  But how is it done?  There is no accepted physical process for doing it.  Both examples reveal that there exists something in our physical universe that is not only beyond our detection capabilities but also beyond our imagination.


Your comments please.  


                                                      

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2012 - 10:19PM #2
REteach
Posts: 15,150

My husband and I are watching a series of video lectures on the Hubble Space Telescope.  Looking at the billions of galaxies with billions of stars and knowing that some galaxies are colliding leaving star trails hundreds of thousands of light years long and that suns have been born and lived and died and new stars are forming as I type leaves me in awe of the power of God.


We have also been listening to another lecture series while driving on the Joy of Science and the interactions going on at the subatomic level. That too leaves me in awe of the power of God.


So I think you are drawing a false dichotomy.  Knowledge of science, the materialism you apparently despise, actually increases my spirituality. I wonder how people who have never thought about how muons allow me to share thoughts or how many billions of galaxies there are so far away can really appreciate just what God gave us. 

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard was not what I meant...
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2012 - 10:51PM #3
JimRigas
Posts: 2,950

"the materialism you apparently despise"


 


Where did you get that idea?  All my life I was an engineer, except for three years when I was in the restaurant business.   I enjoy material values and beliefs a great deal.  I just oppose the "from dust you came and to dust you shall go" mentality.  I think there is more than that to life.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 2:08AM #4
Blü
Posts: 25,265

Jim


Materialism is the belief that everything consists of atoms, electrons or any of the other subatomic particles, or of energy with which such materials are interchangeable.   These things can be detected and measured by our physical instruments.


How about this: materialism is the position that the only entities and processes that exist in the universe are those recognized by physics.

(That was provided by Faustus based on Smart and Armstrong, two leading materialist philosophers. I agree with it.)


I will define "spirituality," as the opposite of "materialism." Anything that is not material is spiritual.


See if we can find some common ground.

I think thought, emotion, memory, speech, reason, insight, imagination, creativity, the gamut of feeling from great delicacy to great strength, every aspect of our mentation, are wholly physical, wholly material. So the only meaning I can derive for 'not material' is 'imaginary' or 'non-existent'.  That of course includes souls.

Looking for an alternative, I check my dictionary for 'spiritual'.  The first meaning is relating to the spirit or soul and not to physical nature or matter; intangible.  The second is of, relating to or characteristic of sacred things, the Church, religion &c.  They don't get us far.  The third is, standing in a relationship based on communication between the souls or minds of the persons involved with the example 'one's spiritual father'.  If we delete 'souls', that leaves 'minds'; and I find when I try to define 'mind' that I'm refering to an inexact and arbitrary set of brain functions.  So I'm not really happy with that either.

That leaves the fourth: having a mind, or emotions, of a high and delicately refined quality.  The closest I get to that is linking the word 'spiritual' to certain reflective feelings and certain responses to music and poetry (in particular).

Will something along these lines, with perhaps some adjustment of wording, do?

I don't agree with your interpretation of the physics, but we can go on to that when we have some ground rules in place.


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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 4:51AM #5
Miguel_de_servet
Posts: 17,100

Jim


Apr 2, 2012 -- 10:13PM, JimRigas wrote:

I will define "spirituality,"  as the opposite of "materialism." Anything that is not material is spiritual.  which requires that we first define materialism.


Materialism is the belief that everything consists of atoms, electrons or any of the other subatomic particles, or of energy with which such materials are interchangeable.   These things can be detected and measured by our physical instruments. 


So if you remove all the material things from a human (bones, flesh, muscles, nerves, brain, blood, fluids and electric currents between these parts) whatever is left is spirit.  The only problem, of course, is that science tells us that there is nothing else left.  Science does not detect in the human body anything other than the material things we listed above.  So if not there, you will ask, can I point to anything in the Cosmos which is not material but spiritual?


Why oppose spirit and matter? This is far from obvious, and it implicitly implies that one accepts some sort of Cartesian metaphysical dichotomy between res extensa [matter] and res cogitans [spirit].


While there is nothing wrong with Natural Science accepting, as its first rule, methodological materialism ...


Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:

Rule No.1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.


Operational  science  takes no position about the existence or non-existence of  the supernatural; only that this factor is not to be invoked in scientific explanations. Calling down special-purpose miracles as explanations constitutes a form of intellectual "cheating."

(Richard E. Dickerson, The Game of Science: Reflections After Arguing With Some Rather Overwrought People, 1992, @ asa3.org)



... in fact, Dickerson's Rule No.1 is essential for Natural Science to remain objective science. Many people, though, confuse methodological naturalism/materialism with metaphysical naturalism/materialism.


[Jim] During the last 90 years our material world has been explained by the physics of Quantum Mechanics.  And the main postulate of this theory is that unless a subatomic particle is being observed it has no physical properties (such as spin etc.) and it exists only as a mathematical wave.  The two-slit experiments have proved this a long time ago.  If we try to look  for the particle, it is there and we see it.  If we don't try to look for it, then there is  no particle but a wave.  And the more recent "delayed two-slit experiments" have revealed that the particle "decides" whether it will behave as a physical particle or as a wave even before the actual decision is made on whether we will look at it or not.  There is no material explanation for this phenomenon.   This is pure magic. [umm ...]


To restate the scientific conclusion, the act or intent of a human to detect a part of the universe brings it into existence.  Yet science does not detect in the human body any separate organ, or capability that can cause such an event.  What is missing?


Similarly,  Quantum Mechanics explains the EPR Paradox by postulating that under some conditions, particles light years apart communicate instantaneously because, it explains, they belong to the same mathematical state.  But how is it done?  There is no accepted physical process for doing it.  Both examples reveal that there exists something in our physical universe that is not only beyond our detection capabilities but also beyond our imagination.


What you describe is NOT Quantum Mechanics itself, which, as such, is ONLY a mathematical theory that, BTW, yields astonishingly accurate results.


All the rest, like the presumed "influence" of the "observer" in "decohering the wave", is ONLY a highly controversial interpretation of QM.


And now let me tell you something that may seem unrelated.


This little neoclassical temple ...


... is located on a little island at the center of the beautiful Parco Querini in Vicenza, Italy. One day, during one summer in the eighties, a terrible thunderstorm broke on the town and two youths, who where in the park, sought refuge underneath the little temple's copper dome. Unfortunately the dome worked as an antenna and a thunderbolt stroke it, killing instantly the two unfortunate youths.


Question: can you think of any "spiritual" interpretation for the above event?


MdS

Revelation is above, not against Reason

“The everlasting God is a refuge, and underneath you are his eternal arms ...” (Deut 33:27)
“Do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9)
“By the Lord’s word [dabar] the heavens were made; and by the breath [ruwach] of his mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6)
“Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the arm of the Lord revealed through him?” (Isaiah 53:1)
“Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:38)
“For not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13)

“Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”(Romans 13:8)
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 6:20AM #6
koolpoi
Posts: 6,595

Apr 3, 2012 -- 4:51AM, Miguel_de_servet wrote:


Jim


Apr 2, 2012 -- 10:13PM, JimRigas wrote:

I will define "spirituality,"  as the opposite of "materialism." Anything that is not material is spiritual.  which requires that we first define materialism.


Materialism is the belief that everything consists of atoms, electrons or any of the other subatomic particles, or of energy with which such materials are interchangeable.   These things can be detected and measured by our physical instruments. 


So if you remove all the material things from a human (bones, flesh, muscles, nerves, brain, blood, fluids and electric currents between these parts) whatever is left is spirit.  The only problem, of course, is that science tells us that there is nothing else left.  Science does not detect in the human body anything other than the material things we listed above.  So if not there, you will ask, can I point to anything in the Cosmos which is not material but spiritual?


Why oppose spirit and matter? This is far from obvious, and it implicitly implies that one accepts some sort of Cartesian metaphysical dichotomy between res extensa [matter] and res cogitans [spirit].


While there is nothing wrong with Natural Science accepting, as its first rule, methodological materialism ...


Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:

Rule No.1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.


Operational  science  takes no position about the existence or non-existence of  the supernatural; only that this factor is not to be invoked in scientific explanations. Calling down special-purpose miracles as explanations constitutes a form of intellectual "cheating."

(Richard E. Dickerson, The Game of Science: Reflections After Arguing With Some Rather Overwrought People, 1992, @ asa3.org)



... in fact, Dickerson's Rule No.1 is essential for Natural Science to remain objective science. Many people, though, confuse methodological naturalism/materialism with metaphysical naturalism/materialism.


[Jim] During the last 90 years our material world has been explained by the physics of Quantum Mechanics.  And the main postulate of this theory is that unless a subatomic particle is being observed it has no physical properties (such as spin etc.) and it exists only as a mathematical wave.  The two-slit experiments have proved this a long time ago.  If we try to look  for the particle, it is there and we see it.  If we don't try to look for it, then there is  no particle but a wave.  And the more recent "delayed two-slit experiments" have revealed that the particle "decides" whether it will behave as a physical particle or as a wave even before the actual decision is made on whether we will look at it or not.  There is no material explanation for this phenomenon.   This is pure magic. [umm ...]


To restate the scientific conclusion, the act or intent of a human to detect a part of the universe brings it into existence.  Yet science does not detect in the human body any separate organ, or capability that can cause such an event.  What is missing?


Similarly,  Quantum Mechanics explains the EPR Paradox by postulating that under some conditions, particles light years apart communicate instantaneously because, it explains, they belong to the same mathematical state.  But how is it done?  There is no accepted physical process for doing it.  Both examples reveal that there exists something in our physical universe that is not only beyond our detection capabilities but also beyond our imagination.


What you describe is NOT Quantum Mechanics itself, which, as such, is ONLY a mathematical theory that, BTW, yields astonishingly accurate results.


All the rest, like the presumed "influence" of the "observer" in "decohering the wave", is ONLY a highly controversial interpretation of QM.


And now let me tell you something that may seem unrelated.


This little neoclassical temple ...


... is located on a little island at the center of the beautiful Parco Querini in Vicenza, Italy. One day, during one summer in the eighties, a terrible thunderstorm broke on the town and two youths, who where in the park, sought refuge underneath the little temple's copper dome. Unfortunately the dome worked as an antenna and a thunderbolt stroke it, killing instantly the two unfortunate youths.


Question: can you think of any "spiritual" interpretation for the above event?


MdS




When God insists you take a cold shower,don't refuse?

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 8:06AM #7
Adelphe
Posts: 28,744

Apr 2, 2012 -- 10:13PM, JimRigas wrote:


In many of these threads the word spirituality comes up and is immediately attacked by the scientific-minded readers who demand scientific, objective proof of its existence, and when none is presented, they reject the arguments.   So I thought that we can use a separate thread to seriously discuss the existence of spirituality.   But first we must define it.   


I will define "spirituality,"  as the opposite of "materialism." Anything that is not material is spiritual.  which requires that we first define materialism.


Materialism is the belief that everything consists of atoms, electrons or any of the other subatomic particles, or of energy with which such materials are interchangeable.   These things can be detected and measured by our physical instruments. 


So if you remove all the material things from a human (bones, flesh, muscles, nerves, brain, blood, fluids and electric currents between these parts) whatever is left is spirit.  The only problem, of course, is that science tells us that there is nothing else left.  Science does not detect in the human body anything other than the material things we listed above.  So if not there, you will ask, can I point to anything in the Cosmos which is not material but spiritual?


During the last 90 years our material world has been explained by the physics of Quantum Mechanics.  And the main postulate of this theory is that unless a subatomic particle is being observed it has no physical properties (such as spin etc.) and it exists only as a mathematical wave.  The two-slit experiments have proved this a long time ago.  If we try to look  for the particle, it is there and we see it.  If we don't try to look for it, then there is  no particle but a wave.  And the more recent "delayed two-slit experiments" have revealed that the particle "decides" whether it will behave as a physical particle or as a wave even before the actual decision is made on whether we will look at it or not.  There is no material explanation for this phenomenon.   This is pure magic. 


To restate the scientific conclusion, the act or intent of a human to detect a part of the universe brings it into existence.  Yet science does not detect in the human body any separate organ, or capability that can cause such an event.  What is missing?


Similarly,  Quantum Mechanics explains the EPR Paradox by postulating that under some conditions, particles light years apart communicate instantaneously because, it explains, they belong to the same mathematical state.  But how is it done?  There is no accepted physical process for doing it.  Both examples reveal that there exists something in our physical universe that is not only beyond our detection capabilities but also beyond our imagination.


Your comments please.  


                                                      




If I were a materialist (I'm not), I could think of a dozen ways to attack this argument.


For instance, I wouldn't agree with you that the opposite of materialism is spiritualism and that anything that isn't "material" is thus then "spiritual."


I also very much doubt you're going to find a scientist or materialist who is going to agree with your characterization of QM as "pure magic."


You did hit on an important point of dispute, though, between materialists and non-materialists--the concept of intention.


A hard materialist would argue that we don't (really) "intend" anything.  We simply execute a series of deterministic...processes.  I don't think they really believe that--however, it's the argument they know they have to make to be consistent.




Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 8:14AM #8
amcolph
Posts: 18,236

Apr 3, 2012 -- 8:06AM, Adelphe wrote:


 


A hard materialist would argue that we don't (really) "intend" anything.  We simply execute a series of deterministic...processes.  I don't think they really believe that--however, it's the argument they know they have to make to be consistent.







No, and neither would a soft one.


There is nothing in materialism which requires determinism.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 9:02AM #9
Adelphe
Posts: 28,744

Apr 3, 2012 -- 8:14AM, amcolph wrote:


No,



"No", what?


and neither would a soft one.



"Neither would a soft one" what?



There is nothing in materialism which requires determinism.




First, I'd be interested in your definition of determinism.


Second, where, then--according to you--does intent come from?

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe.  Here I stand.  I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2012 - 9:16AM #10
Blü
Posts: 25,265

Adelphe


First, I'd be interested in your definition of determinism.


Determinism is the position that all events including human choices and actions are fully determined by preceding events and states of affairs.


It asserts that the universe is totally explained by chains of cause and effect stretching back and forward endlessly.  The idea of quantum probability - lack of certainty - is incompatible with determinism. However a fully determined future is consistent with Einstein's description of spacetime.



Second, where, then--according to you--does intent come from?


What do you mean by 'intent'?

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