Fred drops a logic bomb

Regarding the knowability of the supernatural:

Note that the sciences are incapable of recognizing such phenomena. For the sake of discussion, let us suppose that some unscientific event actually occurred—say, that the shade of Elvis in fact appeared in my living room one night, sang Blue Moon Over Kentucky, and then vanished. Would science, or any scientist, be able to know it?

I could tell a physicist that I had seen Elvis, of course. He would assume that I was joking, lying, or deluded. I could report that the neighbors had heard Blue Moon, but the physicist would say that I had played the song on my stereo. I might show him video that I had shot of the appearance, but he would say that I had hired an Elvis impersonator, or that I had faked the footage with video-editing software.

In sum, even though it had really happened, he could never know that it had.

The difficulty is that the sciences can apprehend only the repeatable. If I could summon Elvis at will, again and again in an instrumented laboratory, physicists would eventually have to concede that something was happening, whatever it might be. While scientists defend their paradigms as fiercely as Marxists or Moslems, they can, after sufficient demonstration, be swayed by evidence. But without repeatability, they see no evidence.

Not uncommonly, those in the sciences say that they “do not accept supernatural explanations.” One might observe that the world remains the same, no matter what they accept. I might choose not to accept the existence of gravity, but could nonetheless fall over a cliff.

Yet those who do not accept the supernatural never say just what they mean by “supernatural.” By “nature,” do we not simply mean, “that which is”? If for example genuine premonitions exist (which I do not know), how can they be supernatural, as distinct from poorly understood?

I think that by supernatural scientists mean “not deducible from physics.” But of course a great many things are not so deducible—thought, consciousness, free will if any, sorrow, beauty. Scientists do not accept things which seem to have no physical cause, and of course as scientists should not accept them. If a comet were suddenly to change course, it would hardly be useful if an astronomer said that it just happened, or that a herd of invisible unicorns had pushed it off course. He, properly, would want to find a gravitational influence.

Trouble comes when the sciences overstep their bounds. It is one thing to study physical phenomena, another to say that only physical phenomena exist. Here science blurs into ideology, an ideology being a systematic and emotionally held way of misunderstanding the world. A science is open and descriptive, an ideology closed and prescriptive. A scientists says, in principle at least, “Give me the facts and I will endeavor to derive a theory that describes them.” The ideologist says, “I have the theory, and nothing that does not fit it can be a fact.” Having chosen his rut, he never sees beyond it. This has not been the way of the greats of science, but of the middle ranks, adequate to swell a progress or work in a laboratory.

I have written on this phenomenon before myself. Does it trouble no one that many of the greatest scientists in history believed in things supernatural? That nearly every physics supremacist’s pet theories have eventually been proven to be wrong by their fellows?

Science, as a tool and a method of increasing knowledge, is invaluable. Science as a substitute faith for materialist idealogues is a sham. Despite the vast difference between “we know” and “as far as we can tell at this point in time”, second-rate minds arrogantly continue to confuse the two, often, ironically, when they are deviating wildly from the strictures of logic.