Why We Need Science, Not Philosophy #9

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Dr. Fred Bauer

This essay is one link in a quasi-sorites. As you know from your logic course, a sorites is an extended syllogism in which the predicate of one proposition forms the subject of the next one. In the present ‘quasi’ context, however, it means that the main ideas of the preceding ad-essays form the premises for a lengthy, many-stage argument to explain why it’s a disgrace that learning representationalism is not required in every institution of higher learning. At a time when secularism, agnosticism, even atheism, are replacing theism in our culture, it’s scandalous that representationalism is ignored at such Catholic institutions as Assumption.

To see how massively it’s ignored, ask yourself whether any of your professors, e.g., those who teach science or philosophy, have explained or even referred to this second most-important modern discovery, namely, the discovery of representationalism by Descartes, “the Father of Modern Philosophy.” (See Wikipedia.)

Recall that this series of essays began by explaining the impact on Catholics of the first, most important discovery of modern science, namely, Galileo’s discovery of heliocentrism, the recognition that the sun, not the earth, is the center of our world. That discovery changed forever the attitude of Catholics toward the Bible, which is why even popes no longer appeal to Genesis to prove that God created the world with a moving earth and a relatively-unmoving sun in just six days. Nevertheless, the subsequent condemnation and imprisonment of Galileo by Roman Catholic authorities is still used by atheists to argue that religion and science are incompatible.

But what atheists overlook is that representationalism, the second most important scientific discovery of modern times, a discovery made by Descartes (a Catholic, no less), proves that no one, atheists included, has ever seen either the sun or the earth. Or stars, e.g., the supernova star 1987A, or the planet Jupiter . . . or books, or libraries, or librarians, etc. The reason Descartes is given the title, “Father of Modern Philosophy,” is because many of the most famous later thinkers—ranging from Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, to James and Einstein—began with and further explored the implications of his discovery, in relation to all five of our major senses.

And yet, despite such facts, most people in academia tend to think science is proven knowledge based on sense observation, in contrast to religion based on faith. Wrong!

To help explain representationalism to student readers whose professors, shockingly, ignore its discovery, subsequent essays in this series have focused, not on representationalism in general (we do not see or hear or smell or even feel anything physical), but on one single sense, namely, sight and its object, color. To grasp representationalism in relation to this sense, the one we rely on most to make correct inferences regarding the never-sensed physical world (if there is one), it helps to learn about Newton’s discovery re the correlation of invisible light with visible color, Roemer’s discovery of the velocity of invisible light, other discoveries concerning the different functions of the eyes’ rods and cones, of the neurons that take stimuli from the eyes to the rear part of the brain, etc. Most crucially, the fourth essay in this series pointed out that the text used by AC’s psychology profs in PSY 101 to introduce students to their science fails to recognize the unbridgeable gulf between the physical brain and the immaterial mind. Recall that text’s author’s blunder, his claim that the colors we experience—e.g., the red of ripe tomatoes—are in “the theater of the brain”!!! In the rear of the brain. (Are these black-against-white letters that you are scanning behind you or in front of you?)

Finally, assume what was discussed in the first of these essays, viz., that the earth goes around the sun. Let me wind up the second-to-last essay in this series with three questions.

First, ask yourself, “What evidence led Galileo to contradict the clear implications of Joshua 10:13, where we read, “So the sun stood still . . . till the nation avenged itself on its enemies.” If we define “faith” as “believing something without proof,” it is obvious that students and even professors take it on faith that the earth is doing the moving. Why faith? Because we cannot feel the earth we live on doing any moving, and because it seems obvious to anyone who watches the sun ‘come up’ in the morning and ‘go down’ in the evening that the sun does the moving. So strong is that ‘seeming,’ that the modern, opposite belief has been called “a rape of our senses.” If you can’t prove the earth is turning on its axis, you’re taking heliocentrism on faith.

Second, ask yourself, “Why do we all believe Galileo ever existed and got into trouble with Church authorities?” I never met Galileo. I don’t know anyone who ever met him. Obviously, therefore, he never personally told me what he did or did not believe. I take it on faith in what I’ve read or learned from people who also never met or talked with him.

Third, ask yourself , “What do I know of past history, that is, of what happened before I was born?” Once you begin to realize—I mean, really realize!—how much you believe about the world outside your own personal experience, you’ll understand that the theologians have no corner on faith. (To be concluded)

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