Are Jesus, Buddha & Company Enemies of the People?

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Mon Sep 2 06:15:50 MDT 1996

Karl Carlisle gives short shrift to my seat--of--the--pants definition of
scientific inquiry:

>...some, if not many,  scientists possess conflicting views as to the
nature of scientific
>method. Some are even confused as to what science is and whether there is any
>one method at all.

And then goes on to modestly claim:

>An examination of relevant contemporary debate supports the
>above view of mine.

Karl claims such and such:

The famous philosopher of science, Kuhn has argued that
>there are scientific paradigms and that there is no
>scientific linear progression as you mistakenly suggest. According to
>Kuhn paradigms switches take place in the history of science in which
>one paradigm replaces another. Some would describe these switches as
>scientific revolutions.

But such and such is not true.   Nothing Karl has said here is the least bit
relevant to my point that science and religious faith in the supernatural
are fundamentally incompatible.    It is true,  as Karl suggests,  that
single contradictory facts do not overthrow theories in the sense that T.H.
Huxley could write of a "beautiful hypoothesis killed by an ugly fact."
Bogus theories continue to exist,  despite contradictory experiments and
observation,  until a better theory comes along to replace them.    It is
this series of "anomalies" that produce a "crisis" that leads,  eventually
to the "shift" of "paradigms" (or "revolution" in T.S.  Kuhn's words) within
science itself.    No such phenomenon occurs in the religious sphere,  and
it is specious to compare the two.

Feyerabend goes even further and bases much
>of his work on the view that anything goes in science. Indeed the
>very title of one of his books concerning science is called Against

The work of Paul Feyerabend,  N.R.  Hanson,  Hilary Putnam,  etc.,  are
primarily departures from Kuhn on the question of the centrality of
revolutions in considerations of the development of science.     They do not
abjure peer review and the rigorous testing of theory,  which is the issue
here.    Feyerabend himself is an atheist;  Karl,  apparently,  is using the
Devil to quote Scripture.

>Then there is the lack of linearity that obtains between quantum and
>relativity science in contemporary physics. Not unconnected with
>this is the view that the experimenter modifies the experiment
>by her/his experiment so that no absolutely objective experiment is
>possible: subjecitvity is always sticking its nose into objectivity.

Karl,  this is just mumbo-jumbo.   Lack of linearity proves nothing in
regards to your argument.    There is of course so such animal as total
objectivity (I never claimed otherwise).    There is however the accepted
norm in the testing of evidence, which, as the man or woman on the street
will tell you,  is the basis for our perception of reality.     A purposive
belief in superstition is a negation of our human capacities as it
specifically denies that avenue of investigation.

Rather,  I would,  in our modern age,  compare a belief in God with,  say,
Mesmer's theory of a special "fluid" in mammals that accounted for a sort of
"animal magnetism".    Although he won a large following among laymen and
even converted a few physicians,  his theory was ultimately rejected as
having no medical or scientific merit.     And remember the "N-Rays" at the
turn of the century?     These rays attracted great attention among the
scientific community,  and their discoverer,   Rene-Prosper Blondlot,
achieved great fame and notoriety.    But eventually it was shown that
"N-Rays" existed only in the mind of the discoverer and of other scientists
whose will to believe evidently produced a temporary suspension of their
normal scientific belief.
Similarly,  today,  a belief in the supernatural more properly falls into
the category of "fringe" or even "pathological" science.

>Finally I make reference to mathematics as a science. Here
>is an abstrract science that proceeds, to all intents and purposes,
>on an abstract basis independently of empirical realtiy yet it
>is still regarded as science. Indeed there have been and are prominent
>mathemticians who would describe mathematics in its foundations as
>intuitionist. Much of mathemtics' success, in a sense, has been its
>divergence from ordinary day to day experience.

You are speaking here of theory,  one that is widely acknowledged to be
tentative and in the process of development.    It bears no resemblance to
an unknowable ethereality to which you referred in your earlier post ("no
one can prove or disprove the existence of God").    You have proposed,  in
a sense,  a belief in the supernatural (the unknowable) for membership in
the community of empirical knowledge.    It is an application that I,  for
one,  consider bogus.

Let others make up their own minds.

Louis Godena

     --- from list marxism at ---

More information about the Marxism mailing list