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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Thu May 28 2009 - 21:43:13 EDT


There is indeed progress in the physical sciences. The most modern concepts are fields. Thanks to the Christians Michael Faraday and Clerk Maxwell. Therefore, particles are really quanta of different fields.

From: Bill Powers []
Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2009 7:24 PM
To: dfsiemensjr
Cc: Alexanian, Moorad;;;
Subject: Re: [asa] The whole of reality (subject name changed)

Equivalent? Not the way that I would use the word "equivalent," meaning
that the two can be substituted one for the other in a semantic sense.
Energy is, as we say, convertible, one into the other. One of the most
bizarre ideas I have ever heard and we swallow it as if it comes with
our morning cereal. That a massless "particle" could carry energy is
itself bizarre and only shows how far we've come in our notions of
"material" in the last hundred years. The photon is, we are again told,
a quantized electromagnetic field. Not too long ago such an idea would
have been thought a spirit, and therefore not suited for a
mechancial science.


On Thu, 28 May 2009, dfsiemensjr wrote:

> Bill,
> How can you call photons immaterial when they carry energy? Are not
> energy and matter equivalent?
> Dave (ASA)
> On Thu, 28 May 2009 14:19:05 -0600 (MDT) Bill Powers <>
> writes:
>> Moorad:
>> Just some quick questions.
>> Why do we say that science can only investigate the physical?
>> Is there a difference between the material and the physical?
>> Are some immaterial things physical?
>> It is not at all clear why we presume that the spiritual and the
>> physical
>> cannot interact.
>> Science all the time investigates the invisible, even in principle
>> invisible (quarks). When it does so is it utterly clear that it is
>> investigating the physical?
>> Science studies phenomena; and what are phenomena?
>> Ultimately, in all cases, phenomena must be capable of human
>> sensible
>> experience.
>> Complex instruments, in conjunction with complex theory of the
>> invisible,
>> are employed in enabling us to make of the invisible phenomena.
>> Are all phenomena physical?
>> Why presume that because we can make of the invisible something that
>> influences our senses that it is physical?
>> Are all such invisible entities physical by definition, or is it an
>> empirical conclusion.
>> It seems that it is definitional.
>> It is perhaps better to drop notions such as physical, immaterial,
>> and
>> nonphysical, and speak instead of just the phenomena and the stories
>> we
>> concoct about the phenomena. Does it really add anything to call
>> photons physical, although they are immaterial? What is spirit and
>> how do
>> we distinguish it from the physical? This is by no means clear.
>> What is
>> called physical today in the early days of science was considered a
>> type
>> of spirit.
>> bill
>> On Thu, 28 May 2009,
>> Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
>>> 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:
>>> Moorad
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: Gregory Arago []
>>> Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 12:49 PM
>>> To: Bill Powers; Alexanian, Moorad
>>> Cc: Cameron Wybrow;
>>> 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 <>
>> wrote:
>>> From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
>>> Subject: RE: [asa] ID/Miracles/Design (Behe vs. Behe)
>>> To: "Bill Powers" <>
>>> Cc: "Cameron Wybrow" <>, ""
>> <>
>>> 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 21:43:49 2009

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