November 27, 2007

When you study science, there is a lot of stuff that you have to take on faith

Ulrich Mohrhoff koantum matters
Everything is based on faith, only scientists don’t seem to know this. When you sit down on a chair, your implicit faith is that it won’t collapse. When you set about doing something with a purpose in mind, your faith is that you can achieve this purpose. The nasty thing about science is that it clips the wings of your faith, thereby drastically limiting your potential...
Another rationalistic distortion, albeit one made up by the apostle John himself. If you want to know what and why Thomas was doubting, check out his own account. Thomas was a mystic who had found Jesus inside himself. For a mystic, the resurrection story lacks point. (Death, where is your sting?)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Make a comparison and tell me whom I am like.” Simon Peter said to him: “Thou art like an angel of righteousness.” Matthew said to him: “Thou art like a wise man (philosophos).” Thomas said to him: “Master, my mouth will not at all be capable of saying whom thou art like.” And Jesus said gently, am not thy master, because thou hast drunk, thou hast become drunk from the bubbling spring which I have measured out. And he took him and they withdrew. He spoke three words to him. When Thomas came back to his companions they asked him, “What did Jesus say to thee?” Thomas said to them: “If I tell you what he said to me, you will take up stones and throw them at me.” [Logion 13]
What were those three words? Not “I am the son of man,” for that expression was simply the Aramaic way of saying “I am an ordinary man like everybody else.” Not “I am the son of God,” for in none of the gospels did Jesus say that, and nobody referred to him in that way during his lifetime. Likewise nowhere did Jesus say that he wanted to be the Jewish messiah, let alone the Saviour-God of the Roman Empire. I’d put my money on something like the Vedantic tat twam asi: “This thou art,” meaning you are the One who has become All. It is not surprising that we can trace this same Thomas later preaching his gospel of oneness as far away as India, a country where he could speak of the oneness of God and man without being stoned, and could even be understood...
When you have genuine spiritual experiences, a healthy skepticism is at least as important, otherwise you get stuck in mental constructions based on a very preliminary set of experiences. On the other hand, when you study science, there is a lot of stuff that you have to take on faith. You are told that whatever you are told can be verified, but that’s equally true of genuine mystical experience...
The general framework of theoretical physics is a bunch of algorithms for calculating the probabilities of possible measurement outcomes on the basis of actual outcomes. Nobody has the slightest idea about the mechanisms or processes that correlate measurement outcomes, not only across time but also across space (i.e., outcomes of measurements that are simultaneous in some reference frames). What is more, there are so-called “no-go” theorems that rule out virtually every explanation that one can think of...
Forget about the metaphysical embroidery that comes with the classical (i.e., pre-quantum) stories about electromagnetism and gravity. The questions remain: where do the laws that correlate measurement outcomes come from, and why do they have the form that they do?

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