[asa] The whole of reality (subject name changed)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Thu May 28 2009 - 09:56:34 EDT

Gregory,
The reason science cannot study the nonphysical and the supernatural is that by definition those two sets are the relative complement of the purely physical elements of the physical set. This is so since science has been defined by its subject matter, which is data that can be collected, in principle, by purely physical devices. In other words, purely physical devices cannot detect thoughts and other mental concepts, self, etc. nor the supernatural.
The physical and the supernatural sets do overlap, but are not the same. For instance, humans are elements of the union of the physical, nonphysical, and supernatural sets. This is the reason I take the supernatural as being part of Nature because humans are part of Nature. In addition, the creation of man in the image of God forces us to make the supernatural an aspect of Nature.
Knowledge, the number pi, mental abstractions, etc., are nonphysical but certainly not supernatural. I think, as C.S. Lewis indicates, reasoning is indeed supernatural. However, God is Supernatural but, as Creator, is not in Nature. Of course, the incarnation is a deliberate invasion of God himself into His creation.
Different kinds of knowledge study different aspects of the whole of reality. For instance, to study only the physical aspect of man does not tell us who man truly is. The claim that it does, is reductionism at its worst. This is my qualm with evolutionary theory, which will eventual base all on genetic coding, which is purely physical.
I am here merely indicating what my thoughts are regarding what is real. Future research may prove some aspects of this wrong. However, I doubt it.
I am attempting to order the different kinds of knowledge, which are defined by their subject matters, and integrate them so that we truly deal with the whole of reality. This must be accomplished without any sort of reductionism.
I hope I have answered all your questions Gregory. If not, keep on asking. Some of this material can be found in my website: http://origins.swau.edu/who/moorad/cmoorad98.html
Moorad

________________________________
From: Gregory Arago [gregoryarago@yahoo.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 12:49 PM
To: Bill Powers; Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: Cameron Wybrow; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)

Hi Bill and Alexanian,

I suppose the thread has turned a bit off topic, since nobody,s talking about Behe any more. But then again, that,s often when the fun begins on ASA, when people diverge from often travelled pathways. : - )

As with Bill, I agree that that what Moorad is proposing is appealing. The triad of physical/non-physical/supernatural means that <science> cannot study the <non-physical> or the <supernatural>. It also restricts the <physical> and the <supernatural> from overlapping. And it claims that <science> only studies one-third of what constitutes human beings, i.e. as an <entity>, which is what Moorad calls them/us.

I can,t help but suggest that Moorad,s triad echos the language of <positive science>, like what a zoologist would speak, and not the language of <reflexive science>, as an anthropologist would speak. But perhaps that is part of his legitimization strategy.

I wonder how Moorad distinguishes between what is <non-physical> and what is <supernatural> given that if we *are* (as a fact) created imago Dei, the <non-physical> aspects of humanity would be presumably available also in/to the <supernatural>. I also wonder if Moorad,s triad is reasonable or logical or mystical given that it opposes two different base concepts. Why not <natural>, <non-natural> and <supernatural> instead? Why not <superphysical> instead of <supernatural>? Perhaps he,ll address these questions here or in a new thread.

How does he distinguish the <natural> from the <physical.> (Or is that not important?) For example, <physics>, as a scientific and academic discipline, is typically categorized as a <natural science.> Is he taking offence that <natural> is typical a <larger> or <wider> category than <physical> and thus trying to simplify his definition of <science>?

And then what about all of those <sciences>, i.e. as many people call them, that do not particularly study <physical> things? Does his perspective disqualify them as <science> or devalue their contribution to human (self-)knowledge? Or does his position actually uplift those fields because they study human beings, which are partly <supernatural> entities? And what about all of the human-social scientists who don,t think that there is anything <supernatural> about human beings? Are they contradictory in their own disciplines?

It also doesn't seem to me that Moorad has answered Bill,s question, or at least not directly. Bill asked: <The materialist will argue that if ,every, behavior can be accounted for by a physical process that the living are nothing but physical. What would you say to that?>

Moorad answered: <To the materialist I would say, go tell your wife, husband, children, friends, etc. that they are nothing but a complicated solution of the Schrödinger equation. Let us see how they take that.>

The materialist, as you know, Moorad, can argue for <non-physical> things just as easily as the person who believes in spiritual reality. I think this is partly what was behind Bill,s question. Aren't there various <levels> of explanation, which are available even to materialists, Moorad? Or is it just something simple like <vulgar materialism> and not something more sophisticated like <dialectical materialism> that you would argue this way against? One could just as easily point the figure at <mechanistic> thinkers in our age of electricity and computers (i.e. machines).
Indeed, there are those in science who think <consciousness> will one day be explained via physical or material processes. How do you respond to them? Is it merely fantasy? Is the <power> of <science> blown way out of proportion (no pun intended given the DPRKs recent posturing on the Korean Penninsula) to what is most important in people,s lives? Are you <promoting> a humanisation of <science> or rather greater relevance for whatever fields study the <supernatural> in human existence, to contribute to our self-community knowledge? I,d sure appreciate your insights, Moorad, as I think you offer a unique view amongst the ASA listserve community.

I think Moorad,s position can help to <put science in its place>, to <situate> it or draw boundaries around it, so to speak. But I worry that by limiting <science> to merely physical things, he,ll lose the strongest weapon available against scientism. The uniqueness of human-social scholarship conveys something that <science> as Moorad considers it can never address. But don,t trust me on the <never>, folks, just because I,m on your side working in a (roughly 2/3 of the academy) realm that is predominantly against us.

Gregory

--- On Tue, 5/26/09, Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu> wrote:

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
To: "Bill Powers" <wjp@swcp.com>
Cc: "Cameron Wybrow" <wybrowc@sympatico.ca>, "asa@calvin.edu" <asa@calvin.edu>
Received: Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 7:14 PM

Bill,

A human is a physical/nonphysical/supernatural entity. Also, life cannot be characterized in purely physical terms. I totally reject physicalism; however, the subject matter of science is data that can be collected, in principle, with the aid of purely physical devises.

To the materialist I would say, go tell your wife, husband, children, friends, etc. that they are nothing but a complicated solution of the Schrödinger equation. Let us see how they take that. Also, let the materialist live by what he/she preaches by not using words that cannot be characterized in terms of the purely physical. For instance, do not use the words like love, kindness, sin, etc. Let us face it, if a materialist description of him/her was realized, then he/she would be reduced to a pile of useless chemicals, viz. no life, no consciousness not self at all, the original dirt.

Moorad

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Received on Thu May 28 09:57:04 2009

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