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Physics from a Catholic perspective

Started by Geremia, June 07, 2016, 11:24:53 AM

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Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
Quote from: Geremia on May 17, 2016, 04:28:04 PMMy friend, a Catholic physics teacher, wrote the following; it's an excellent summary of modern physics from a Catholic perspective. Homeschoolers would also benefit from it because of the summary questions at the end:
Traditional Thomists can't even come up with a good explanation for the principle of inertia, radioactive decay, or the double-slit experiment.
What sort of explanation would satisfy you? (cf. the section on material and formal causes in Hugon, O.P.'s Cosmology)

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteI. The Nature of Physical Science
We are often correct in our assertions about the world, but cannot say why. We cannot give a reasoned account of our knowledge. We merely have true opinions. Science, then, to distinguish it from true opinion, is defined as "knowledge through causes."
We can know something to be true even if we don't know why it is true.
Do you mean facts? We can know that facts are without knowing why they are.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteNaturally, some events cannot even in principle be the subject of human science. Any contingent event, that is, any event that may or may not occur in a fixed set of circumstances, cannot be the subject of a science.
False.  These events can be, and are, studied statistically.  We cannot predict every individual event, but we can predict (with great accuracy) things like statistical averages.  And this is exactly what is predicted in modern physics.
Modern physics can understand the effects of freewill, e.g., predict every choice I will make in my lifetime?
Statistical physics is done because of a lack of information, not that atoms in a gas have freewill.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteIn general, if the causes of anything are inaccessible to our human intellects, that thing cannot be the subject of a human science.
Again, false.
How so? It follows from his definition of science as knowledge through causes.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteIt is clear that faith cannot be the same as science, because we do not know the causes of much that is comprehended under faith. There are two reasons for this. First, many articles of the Faith concern contingent events: the fall of man, the Incarnation, the Redemption, and many others.
We do not know the cause of the Incarnation and the Redemption?
Yes, sin is a cause of these things, but doesn't it require faith to know that?
For example, do we know the cause of why God is Triune?
Also, he appears to be holding the Thomist position that the same object can be known both by faith and by reason in the same person, whereas you appear to be holding St. Albert's .

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteSecond, some of the articles of faith transcend our human capacities of rational demonstration. Examples here must include the doctrine of the Trinity and the miracles performed by Christ. At this point the modernist goes wrong, because he is really a rationalist. Logically speaking, if the whole universe is knowable by human science, and human science has no way of evaluating the articles of faith, these articles must not correspond to anything in reality.
(Parenthetically, that's faulty logic; what it would entail is that these articles are not knowable in reality, not that they necessarily aren't true.)
So the articles are truths that have nothing to do with reality? (cf. Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi §16-17)

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteThese false friends of religion therefore seek some substitute for objective reality. All that remains to them is their subjective consciousness, so they set up a correspondence between faith and subjective feeling instead. Faith for the modernist is not about the world "out there" (reality), but about the world "in here" (feeling). Consequently authentic religion is for the modernist not a life in conformity with the Divine Will, but one in conformity with personal longings.
A false dichotomy.  No, it isn't all that remains to them.  An interior need or desire for communion with the Divine, while indeed interior, is nevertheless an objective fact about the world.
Sure, but that's not what the Modernists mean.
cf. Pascendi §39:
QuoteLet us for a moment put the question: if experiences have so much value in their eyes, why do they not attach equal weight to the experience that thousands upon thousands of Catholics have that the Modernists are on the wrong road? It is, perchance, that all experiences except those felt by the Modernists are false and deceptive? The vast majority of mankind holds and always will hold firmly that sentiment and experience alone, when not enlightened and guided by reason, do not lead to the knowledge of God.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteBut what allows us to profess the Faith with this absolute certainty?  What character does it have beyond true opinion? An act of faith is an act of trust in the authority of a revealer. It is an entirely reasonable and rational act if we can ascertain that the revealer both has the knowledge in question and will not deceive us.
But it is not reasonable if we cannot ascertain what the revealer has actually revealed, which is the real question at hand.
Is this a problem, though? There are countless proofs (e.g., miracles) and testimonies.
(Also, we even know why God's revealed truths are true: because of the authority Who revealed them.)

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteThe act of faith that the Catholic makes is similar, but more certain and absolute, depending also upon the gift of God. First he determines, either by his own reason, by his common sense, or by following the reasoning of another, that there is a God, Who has every perfection of Being, including Truth and Goodness. These truths are sometimes called the "Preambles of the Faith," because they are the reasonable foundation on which our act of faith depends. Now God has intervened in human history, initially by sending the prophets, but finally by sending His Eternally-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born into time of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By His public miracles and especially by His Resurrection from the dead, He has proven His Divinity.
And, our intrepid student asks, how exactly do you know of the existence of miracles and His Resurrection?  By science (but you just said science has no way of evaluating faith claims, and that these miracles can't be rationally demonstrated
Does that mean they can't be known as facts?

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM)?  Or because someone wrote it down?  But then why have faith in the writer, and isn't that a mere human faith rather than a Divine faith, at bottom anyway?

Our even more irritating student asks, haven't you, in reality, actually used science to determine what is revealed? How is your methodology and hermeneutic really all that different from a rationalist?
Because he doesn't exclude knowledge through faith.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteThis hierarchy of abstraction among metaphysics, mathematics, and the physical sciences, is also a hierarchy of principles. A superior (more abstract) science is able to supply principles of study to its subordinate sciences. The definition of motion in physics must be taken from metaphysics, for physics cannot define its own subject matter...

Well, this is true in one sense, but false in another.  Physicists aren't obliged to wait until philosophers can agree on a precise definition of motion in order to accurately study it.  They just need a "good enough" concept of it.
Yes, they just need to know the object of their science exists, not a definition of it.

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteThe classical physics of Aristotle regards the world as filled with various natures. For instance, there is the nature of a stone, the nature of a tree, and the nature of a horse. The first is a mineral, the second a plant, and the third an animal. The Greek "φύσις," from which we derive the word "physics," and the Latin "natura," from which we derive the word "nature," have the same basic meaning. They refer to the essence of a thing insofar as it is a principle of operation and motion. ...
And this is all metaphysics.  This nostalgia for the "golden age" completely ignores what Aristotle got wrong about physics (pretty much everything) when he attempted to make physical predictions based on those various natures alone.
cf. this

Quote from: Quaremerepulisti on June 06, 2016, 12:05:49 PM
QuoteForm had become nothing but a particular arrangement of matter. The only remaining option was to identify these operations with matter itself. So the leveling of reality became an inversion: Matter is the basic reality; form and spirit, so-called, are but fleeting arrangements of matter. In this way were born the pernicious doctrines of Darwinism and Marxist materialism.
It's just not that simple.  A "particular arrangement" of matter is something beyond matter and is, therefore, a form, at least at some level.  We could be "reductionist"-like and give the quark a substantial form but deny any other substantial forms except for animals and humans, and say that all other inert manner and bacterial and plant life is simply an arrangement of quarks.  We can say that, for whatever reason, God gives a human or animal soul to inert matter when it reaches a certain level of complexity.  This can't be refuted either empirically or philosophically.  But there is a substantial form there, and yet in practice everything unfolds like Darwinism or Marxism.
I don't think he's denying that a "'particular arrangement' of matter is something beyond matter and is, therefore, a form, at least at some level." He's saying that for the materialists, it's nothing more than that.