Faith and TV dinners (was: DETOUR)

Russell Turpin
Mon, 24 Mar 2003 17:46:33 +0000

Joseph S Barrera III:
>But here are a couple of analogies..

The faithful are quick to take refuge in
poor analogies. Your analogies are the same
ones thrown out by the goofballs who believe
in chi, auras, and astrology.

>1. If you believe that light is a particle,
>than you need to refute those theories that
>say that it is a wave.

QM was developed to explain experiments that
refute both classical particle theories and
classical wave theories. So the task is done.
You do undertand that not all wave theories
are identical?

>2. If you believe in quantum mechanics, then you need to refute those you 
>believe in general relativity.

Most people would have a hard time pointing
to where there is a conflict between QM and

Your analogy fails for several reasons. First,
there is no objective evidence for theology's
subject matter. Physicists who study the
nature of light at least know that there is a
subject to their study, and have plenty of
experience and experiment to back that up.
Theologians who argue over the nature of the
god(s) are quite different from the physicists,
because the theologians don't even know that
they have a subject matter, nor do they have
the first evidence or experiment to demonstrate
what they are talking about.

>A very basic theological concept is that of
>many separate views of God, apparently
>contradictory yet each correct.

Completely irrelevant until they know that
there are gods to study.

>Sort of like...oh, I don't know... how scientific theories can be 
>contradictory and yet combine to provide a greater view of the truth.

No. Where scientific theories conflict, there
is a problem, and one or both of the theories
are mistaken. Scientists don't say "ah, well,
GR and QM conflict in this way, but hey, that
just gives us a 'greater view of the truth.'"
Instead, being rational, they say, "ah, there
is a problem here, because two conflicting
theories cannot both be correct. We need to
figure out better candidate theories to resolve
the issue, and what experiments we can do to
decide which of those candidates is the better
model." Any resemblance of that process to
theology is purely a figment of your imagination.

Now it IS the case that a superseded scientific
theory, such as Newtonian mechanics or the
classical wave theory of light, can be applied
quite usefully in various domains, as an
engineering approximation. Before you jump on
THAT analogy, let's be clear that this again
has no relevance to theology, where there is no
objective experimental evidence, where there
are no methods to test its theories, where
there is no measurement or approximation
process to bound errors, and where there isn't
even rigor in stating their theories.

>But I am not about to be your theological

This isn't an issue of theology, but one of
rationality. You're in the same boat, exactly
the same, as someone who believes in astrology
or auras. BEFORE you presume to teach the
latest theory and rhetoric in the subject
domain, you need to defend that there IS a
subject domain, and not just a lot of deluded
people arguing over how many angels can dance
on the head of a pin.

The question, at this point, is NOT: What are
the gods like? All the theologians throughout
history have not RATIONALLY gotten to that
point. The question is STILL this: Are there
any gods? Where is the evidence for them?

Until theologians provide an answer to that
very basic question, all analogies between
theology and scientific disciplines are
laughable. Except cryptozoology, perhaps.

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