• Meta
    185
    There is an entity called soul. It is in your body. It is in everybody. You will only be able to find it if you come to my church and and do whatever I say. After practicing meditation and prayer for several years you will be able to experience the spiritual world but only with my help since I am the only connection between the spiritual and material world. If you come to my temple you will see the high moral standards there and how the members are not affected by material thinking, so this really works.
    -A religious leader

    There is an elementary particle called quark. Basically it is everywhere in the universe. You will be able to understand it after several years of studying Mathematics and Physics. We can only observe these quarks at CERN but believe me our highly qualified scientists know what they are doing and believe us since we are the only ones capable of observing the truth. You can see how many new technologies we have invented so trust me.
    -A scientist.

    What is the difference between the two arguments from a scientific methodology perspective?
  • T Clark
    1.2k
    There is an entity called soul. It is in your body. It is in everybody.Meta

    There is an elementary particle called quark. Basically it is everywhere in the universe.Meta

    These are really the only statements in what you've written that can really be judged from a scientific perspective. I guess as rational people we should say that the first is not falsifiable and so is not a scientific statement while the second is not only falsifiable, but also has been verified in numerous scientific studies.

    The rest is mostly advertising.
  • Meta
    185
    I think both the quark and the soul are things we (everyday individuals) will never be able to observe. We can only believe what the church or the scientific community says. (edit: and this is why the other parts of the text are important and not for advertising reasons)

    You say that "quarks exist" is scientific and "souls exist" is not scientific. Based on what criteria?
  • T Clark
    1.2k
    I think both the quark and the soul are things we (everyday individuals) will never be able to observe. We can only believe what the church or the scientific community says. (edit: and this is why the other parts of the text are important and not for advertising reasons)Meta

    I think both the quark and the soul are experienceable. I know some physics. I have a pretty good grasp of how scientists think the subatomic world is put together and what role quarks play. Also of how they went about figuring it out. I have a reasonably strong confidence in the scientific method and establishment that makes me believe what I have been told, at least as the best current explanation.

    As for the soul - I have personal experience of something I believe corresponds to what others call a soul. I call it various things, mostly just "me."

    You say that "quarks exist" is scientific and "souls exist" is not scientific. Based on what criteria?Meta

    The existence of quarks has been verified (?), confirmed (?), established (?) following a set of procedures known as the scientific method. Ergo - science. It is my understanding that the soul, at least in the religious sense, has not been established using the scientific method. Now if we are just talking about a non-supernatural phenomenon called consciousness, we could address it using science. I don't think that is what our friend the priest is talking about.
  • Meta
    185

    I think both the quark and the soul are experienceable. I know some prayers. I have a pretty good grasp of how priests feel the spiritual world is put together and what role souls play. Also of how God told that to the priests. I have a reasonably strong confidence in the spiritual method and establishment that makes me believe what I have been told, at least as the best current explanation.
    -The priest

    The existence of quarks has been verified (?), confirmed (?), established (?) following a set of procedures known as the scientific method.
    My problem is I don't know what you mean by scientific method. In my understanding observation is a basic concept of scientific method. I will never be able to observe quarks. Same with the soul. The method which is capable of telling which possible reality is real from the infinite possible mathematical universes is not accessible for me. So my observation is indirect. But I can also have an indirect observation of the soul if religion is true. So my question still remains. What is the criteria? What is scientific method?
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    You say that "quarks exist" is scientific and "souls exist" is not scientific. Based on what criteria?Meta

    Based on the criteria that the theoretical model which supports the existence of quarks make predictions which provide evidence for the existence of the quark (although it should be noted that there remains an element of controversy about the quark). But the in-principle answer is that, a scientific hypothesis makes a prediction which can be tested against experiment or observation and either confirmed or falsified. The existence of ‘the soul’ is much more like a poetic metaphor; that doesn’t make it less true, but it makes it a different kind of truth to the kinds of models that physicists deal with.

    My problem is I don't know what you mean by scientific method.Meta

    Modern science emerged in the seventeenth century with two fundamental ideas: planned experiments (Francis Bacon) and the mathematical representation of relations among phenomena (Galileo). This basic experimental-mathematical epistemology evolved until, in the first half of the twentieth century, it took a stringent form involving (1) a mathematical theory constituting scientific knowledge, (2) a formal operational correspondence between the theory and quantitative empirical measurements, and (3) predictions of future measurements based on the theory. The “truth” (validity) of the theory is judged based on the concordance between the predictions and the observations. While the epistemological details are subtle and require expertise relating to experimental protocol, mathematical modeling, and statistical analysis, the general notion of scientific knowledge is expressed in these three requirements.

    Science is neither rationalism nor empiricism. It includes both in a particular way. In demanding quantitative predictions of future experience, science requires formulation of mathematical models whose relations can be tested against future observations. Prediction is a product of reason, but reason grounded in the empirical.

    E R Doherty
  • Meta
    185
    My idea of scientific method is about the same as the one you showed. But this definition still raises the same question (at least for me). Quarks are considered real because the theory which describes quarks describes reality better than the competing physical theories. Now my problem is I havent observed any quarks and I won't ever observe any. From my perspective the only option is to believe these observations exist.

    What is the difference between the observations in CERN and the observations of saints and gurus? They dont have any significant predictions which influence my life in any way. And the priest's and the scientist's theory of everyday physical reality are the same in a sense.

    You could say that religious predictions are not quantitative but some predictions of lets say evolutionary biology are also qualitative.

    Edit: so when defining the scientific method we cant just say something is observable, we have to clarify what kind of observable phenomena we are talking about. What counts as observable? Phenomena observed by an authority?
  • Wayfarer
    4.8k
    What is the difference between the observations in CERN and the observations of saints and gurus? They dont have any significant predictions which influence my life in any way. And the priest's and the scientist's theory of everyday physical reality are the same in a sense.Meta

    A lot rides on 'in a sense'. The point about religious principles, as distinct from scientific ones, is that in the first case, you yourself are the subject of the discipline. That is very different from a case where the object of analysis is external or objective. And that difference has many implications and consequences.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.3k
    You didn't define "soul". i'm not knocking any points off your OP for that failure, but at least with quarks there is a definition.

    There are several words that are synonyms for "whatever it is": soul, psyche, spirit, vital force, pneuma, anima, atman, embodiment, incarnation animating principle...

      Soul
    • the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.
    • the nonphysical part of a person regarded as a person's true self and as capable of surviving physical death or separation.
    • the nonphysical part of a person manifested as an apparition after their death; a ghost.
    • archaic
    • a highly refined substance or fluid thought to govern vital phenomena.

    If you collect all the definitions you can find for "soul", and collect all the definitions for all the synonyms of soul, you can thoroughly define "soul". Some of these definitions will turn out to be observable and testable. For instance, "emotions and character" are observable and testable. Anything that survives death, or something as vague as "a highly refined substance or fluid thought to govern vital phenomena" most likely won't be observable or testable.

    Religions teach all sorts of things that are not observable or testable, but this doesn't mean that everything that religions teach is hogwash. Some of it is hogwash, of course.

    A young child taught to believe that something called his soul will survive his death is like to find this comforting and (probably) true, even though he will never never never be able to observe or test out the concept. No harm done. Add Heaven and Hell as two alternate destinations for the soul, depending on whether he behaved just right or not, and you have some real leverage over the kid. Harm starts to become possible, if not probable. Add many kinds of ghosts, spirits, demons, devils, angels, and so forth, some who are capable of causing great harm if they are regularly and properly propitiated, and you have a real mess on your hands. Add "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (the title of a famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards) and you have a terrorist.

    So... decide what is worth defining and what is not. There may be a kernel of truth buried under the pile of religious bullshit.
  • andrewk
    907
    believe me our highly qualified scientists know what they are doing and believe us since we are the only ones capable of observing the truth. You can see how many new technologies we have invented so trust me.Meta
    I have never observed a scientist say anything like that about quarks. Why should a scientist care whether a lay person believes in quarks? Such a belief has no consequences for the lay person. What she probably would care about is whether a lay person believes her prediction that a certain observable physical event such as a hurricane will occur - because lives can depend on such a belief.

    So, I think the second para above is an unfair and inaccurate depiction of scientists.

    But also the first para above is an unfair and inaccurate depiction of many religious leaders. I can't imagine the Dalai Lama or Dietrich Boenhoffer saying anything like the arrogant, dogmatic words that are above ascribed to an imaginary priest.

    In addition to which: Georges Lemaitre.
  • Meta
    185
    @Wayfarer
    When I was reading your answer I thought I found the criteria I had been looking for. But then I realized psychology also has a lot of subjective elements and the self is its subject.

    @Bitter Crank
    Not defining the soul was a deliberate attempt to show first we have to believe the existence of the soul and second we have to put a lot of effort and time just to be able to define it or to have an intuition about it.

    @andrewk
    Of course the speech did not occur anywhere. It is just a hypothetical text based on my understanding of how science works. The scientific community only accepts something if it was verified by science. And the proof for science is working is technology.
  • Hanover
    2.2k
    Is it your position that quarks are a purely dogmatic creation, without empirical basis? I think you'd have to argue that if you wish to sustain your analogy that souls : people : : quarks : physical world.
  • Hanover
    2.2k
    What she probably would care about is whether a lay person believes her prediction that a certain observable physical event such as a hurricane will occur - because lives can depend on such a belief.andrewk

    I agree with you in principle, but question the example. We're really bad at predicting hurricanes, including even predicting their path once formed.
  • Meta
    185
    My analogy is simply souls:world::quarks:world. I dont see why should I argue that quarks are a dogmatic creation. Or what you mean by dogmatic?

    My problem is that the so called empirical facts are not empirical for me. So Im struggling with the definition of "empirical" maybe.

    What is empirical in Cern is dogmatic here in my room. What is empirical for a saint is dogmatic here.
  • unenlightened
    1.7k
    What is the difference between the two argumentsMeta

    They are not arguments. They are descriptions of ways of life.

    What is empirical in Cern is dogmatic here in my room. What is empirical for a saint is dogmatic here.Meta

    Of course. I am neither a sage nor a saint, because either takes dedication and time and effort. So all I will ever have is second hand dogma recited from the armchair. If it's a problem to you, get out of the chair and get to work.
  • Meta
    185
    They are not arguments. They are descriptions of ways of life.
    Both the priest and the scientist argue that their knowledge is true, observable and worth believing.

    If it's a problem to you, get out of the chair and get to work.
    Even if Im out of the chair, most probably I will never be able to observe an elementary particle at Cern or anywhere. Plus it is unreasonable and impossible to test every (most likely contradictiory) belief system.
  • unenlightened
    1.7k
    Both the priest and the scientist argue that their knowledge is true, observable and worth believing.Meta

    They claim it rather more than argue it.

    it is unreasonable and impossible to test every (most likely contradictiory) belief system.Meta

    Yes. So all one can do, at best, is to seriously question received wisdom in one area, and take most of the rest on trust. Even if you're out of the chair. So I conclude that the accumulation of knowledge is a cooperative venture founded on trust with occasional reinvestigation. But the builders of the monasteries and CERN already knew that.
  • Meta
    185
    So the question remains. Who do I cooperate with: the priest or the scientist? Based on what?
  • unenlightened
    1.7k
    Oh the priest, obviously. We're not short on manipulating matter, but very short on living well together.
  • Meta
    185
    But after a couple of years it turns out that the priest was a criminal. Oh dear! We bet on red and our life and career was the price.

    Later another priest turns up saying he has the truth. Do we bet again?
    Then comes a scientist saying this priest is a liar.

    Basically the origin of this problem for me is I read some flat Earth stuff and I was wondering if there is an empirical (or scientific in the strict sense) way to prove these people that the Earth is not flat. I have made some calculations which proved the flat earther guy was right in his calculations. I am still looking for the demarcation line which tells us what is the difference between science and pseudo science. But if no one has found this line for decades we also wont find it I suppose. I am turning into a nihilist.
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