That’s the title of a new article at the Patheos website, which describes itself as “the world’s homepage for all religion”. The article is the first in a series by Ted Peters, emeritus professor of theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, who understands the threat that materialism (aka physicalism) poses to traditional religious views regarding the self.
There are quite a few misconceptions in the article (and in the others in the series), but I think it’s a good springboard for continuing the discussion we’ve been having in CharlieM’s Body, Soul, and Spirit thread.
Did I lose my mind to science? Actually, it was stolen. Who are the thieves? The thieves are the scientific materialists who have eliminated from our cosmology everything that is mental, conscious, meaningful, spiritual, and ideal. You’ll recognize the thieves when you hear them mutter, “the mind is only the brain, ya know.”
I agree. The question remains: Does the physical universe extend to the whole of reality?
Should reality be constrained to only that which can be detected by human scientists?
Why the laws of physics don’t actually exist Story by Sankar Das Sarma
Of course he is. He’s absolutely explicit about it. How can you watch that video and not see that he’s trying (and failing miserably) to present an argument for geocentrism?
For the purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t matter, because as I keep reminding you, I am not assuming that the physical world is all that exists. I believe that’s the case, but my arguments against the soul do not depend on that assumption.
In my arguments, I am actually assuming that there is a nonphysical part of reality in addition to the physical part, and I am showing that even if that is true, the soul as you envision it does not exist.
Please allow that to sink in. Even if you are correct, and reality extends beyond the physical, you can be sure that the soul you believe in does not exist. No nonphysical entity can control the body. The laws of physics don’t leave any room for that.
Look how far you’ve retreated in this thread. You started out affirming that the laws of physics are never violated. Then you started suggesting that maybe they are violated at times. Now you’re suggesting that they don’t even exist.
Yes, there are a lot of crackpots who claim that Einstein was wrong, despite being utterly unable to demonstrate it. Smith is one such crackpot, and I have shown you a number of the stupid mistakes he makes in that video.
Practically every field has crackpots like that who despite their incompetence assert that they are lone geniuses who have seen the truth, while their conformist colleagues mindlessly hew to the established dogma. It’s called ‘grandiosity’, and it’s laughable.
Here’s my diagnosis: You are attracted to crackpots like Steiner and Smith because they say things that resonate with you and make you feel good. Never mind that they’re wrong. You aren’t interested in truth. You like that warm fuzzy feeling, and you will defend anyone, no matter how stupid, if they give you that warm fuzzy feeling.
I was talking about the idea, not how it is applied to make an argument.
I should have been more specific. He is not making an argument from physics, which he agrees should not treat the earth as if it were central. He is arguing from the point of view which includes his proposed intermediary realm. This realm is within time but not space, it is correct to regard the earth as central.
Believe me, this persistent argument you have been making has sunk deeply into my mind. The laws of physics apply to the whole of non-living nature and to the physical part of living organisms. They also feature in, but do not determine processes within life that involve creativity, purposeful behaviour, cooperation, coordination and other such activities.
Do you agree with Wolfgang Smith’s, um, fulsome assessment of Dembski’s work?
In your opinion, did Dembski “invalidate, in a single mathematical stroke, the mechanistic worldview that has dominated Western civilization since the Enlightenment”?
Good. I’m glad to hear that.
If those things have a partly nonphysical origin, how do they evade the problem of physics?
Did we watch the same video? He absolutely is making an argument from physics. An extremely poor one. And he does think that physicists should treat the earth as central, because he is a geocentrist. He believes that in actual reality, the earth is at absolute rest, and that the cosmos revolves around it once a day. Total batshit crackpot stuff, and it’s about physics.
He claims that classical physics shows that there is an absolute frame of reference. He claims that the Michelson-Morley experiment shows that the earth is at rest with respect to that reference frame. He claims that Einstein knew this but was unable to accept it, and that he developed his theories of relativity, which are wrong, as a way of avoiding the issue.
You yourself wrote the following:
He is trying to make scientific arguments, and those quotes show that you are aware of that.
It looks to me like you’re trying to soften his claims, because you now realize that they are crazy. If you can convince yourself that he doesn’t really mean what he says, and that his claims aren’t so crazy after all, then you’ll have an excuse for continuing to spend time on him.
Sorry, Charlie. He means what he says, and he is a full-blown crackpot. If you continue to spend time on him, be honest with yourself and admit that you are wasting time on a person who lacks insight and is an incompetent thinker.
And please, please, take some time to ask yourself why you get sucked into the orbit of these people. There is something seriously wrong with the way you evaluate these folks and decide that they are worth spending time on. You’ve spent enough of your life on crackpots. It’s time to give reality-based folks their due.
I’m not sure where you are seeing any retreat. More like a broadening of my understanding as I find out more about what others have to say. Do you agree that the law of the conservation of energy is limited, and that it is said not to apply to the universe as a whole?
I haven’t suggested that the laws don’t exist, I’ve merely linked to a place where someone is arguing that they should not be understood as laws. I have no reason to doubt that the formulas derived from Newton’s laws of motion can be successfully applied to inanimate physical objects. I don’t expect Newton’s cradle to suddenly deviate from what I expect when I set it in motion. But if I tried to apply Newton’s laws to calculate the movement of individuals in a herd of cattle I wouldn’t have much success.
People like Newton who were looking for these laws did so because the regularities they witnessed suggested a law maker. They believed they were revealing the handiwork of the ultimate lawgiver, God.
It doesn’t matter to me if they are called laws, or regularities, or highly probable happenings or whatever. What has not changed is my point that their application has limits.
You were fine with saying that the laws of physics were never violated until you learned that this means that the soul doesn’t exist. Then you started talking about possible violations of physical law, and of the possibility that the laws of physics don’t even exist. That’s a clear retreat.
Here’s how I’d put it: The law of conservation of energy is an approximation, just as Newton’s laws are an approximation. They are damn good approximations when we are dealing with everyday conditions, such as those you and I are experiencing right now. They are such good approximations that we treat them as exact for all practical purposes. The actual laws are more complicated, but we use the approximations because they are more than good enough in most situations, and dealing with the extra complexity of the actual laws doesn’t buy us anything and therefore isn’t worth it.
The bottom line is that you will never observe violations of Newton’s laws in your everyday life, and you will also never observe violations of the conservation of energy. Your brain and body operate under everyday conditions, and so neither your brain nor your body will ever noticeably deviate from those approximate laws. If your nonphysical soul were calling the shots and directing your body, there would have to be a huge deviation from the laws of physics. There isn’t, so we know that your nonphysical soul, if it exists at all, is not calling the shots.
You wouldn’t have success, but that isn’t because Newton’s laws don’t apply. They do. It’s just that the system you are studying — the herd of cattle — is way too complicated for you to model successfully.
You keep thinking that Newton’s laws don’t apply to living things, but that’s untrue. You won’t find a violation of Newton’s laws anywhere within any living body.
Sure. Now suppose that Newton was right, and that the laws of physics do point to the existence of a divine lawgiver. How does that support the existence of the soul? It doesn’t. The problem of physics still applies, and the soul therefore does not exist.
The laws of physics apply to the entire physical universe, every nook and cranny of it, including your brain and body. There is no room for a soul to intervene.