Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The In Side of Evidence

I have written about the characteristics of evidence before. Evidence is the mantra of Atheists: “We must have evidence in order to believe a thing” (Bertrand Russell); and, “Proof! Proof! We must have proof!” (Thomas Edison). But never is there a discussion of how to determine what constitutes valid evidence, nor how evidence is to be gathered, judged and internalized.

In fact, Atheism is based on the repressive philosophical stance of total materialism, in a single, physical reality, a self-refuting position that is required for support. And Philosophical Materialism attempts to co-opt empirical science as its foundational principle, falsely implying that the voluntary materialism of empirical science translates to total materialism and a single, physical reality – a proposition easily refuted, and one never proposed by science.

When Atheists demand evidence, they mean physical evidence. If non-physical entities are claimed, Atheists demand physical evidence as proof. This is consistent with their repression of reality into a single, physical reality, and their misapprehension of the principles of science.

But this post is not about the characteristics of evidence.

This is about the other side of evidence, the evaluation of it. When we think of evidence, first of all we decide who or what to trust. Evidence must be trustworthy if it is to be held as credible. So now we will consider not “what can be trusted”, but ”how do we trust?”

Then what is “trust”? If we are to trust a piece of evidence or a source of evidence, we have to go through our discernment process.

Then what is “discernment”? Discernment[1] is an internal human faculty that first allows discrimination between data inputs and then allows judgment to be made on these discriminated inputs. These data inputs are restricted to sensory inputs only if the dogmatic worldview is Philosophical Materialism. But there is no rational reason to lock out non-sensory input from the discernment process.

If evidence is sensory, then all the questions surrounding the quality and reality of the sensory inputs come into play. These have been discussed in detail before, including the errors that are possible; the techniques, including the scientific method, for minimizing the potential errors; the problems of dogma and ego which sacrifice accuracy for agenda.

But there is another source which is non-sensory. It is intuitive, intellectual.

If the evidence is intellectual (non-sensory) then new questions arise. For example, how can these purely intellectual understandings be tested physically? How do they interact with the material world? How can I know if they are valid?

I can document my contact with the First Principles and my comprehension of the nature of those principles. But I cannot supply physical evidence for impartial testing. I can do the same with logic. I can do the same with math, especially higher math. [2] Nor can I share my actual experience of comprehension – the moment of understanding; I can relate that experience as an historical anecdote, but the personal nature of apprehending and comprehending – say math or logic, for example - means that it is up to each individual to capture the experience for himself. This is entirely different from physically existential experiences, which can be shared simultaneously, although viewed from separate personal viewpoints.

None of these entities, First Principles, logic, math, were discovered by examining the physical world. They were discovered by examining the non-physical, intellectual region of existence – a reality that is non-material.

How to deny this reality? Is there a rational way to deny this non-material reality without denying the source of rationality itself which is non-material? The only philosophers to deny non-material reality and its contents are those who devolved into Anti-Rational philosophies.

Even evolutionists and scientism-ists agree that logic exists, math exists. But then they must develop new denials, such as Dennett’s idea that consciousness is only an illusion, or Minsky's idea that the mind is merely a meat machine, and that free agency doesn’t exist – all attempts to kill the idea of dual realities. And all without a hint or jot of material evidence to support them.

So on what rational basis can the non-physical intellectual region of reality be denied? Here is their problem: Because that position involves denial of the reality space that contains rationality, no denial of the existence of non-physical reality can be rational.

Now an impertinent question: What is it that has NEVER BEEN WRONG? The laws of physics crumble in black holes. The laws of biology haven’t even been completely written yet, and the ones that have been are contradictory.[3] Clearly only the non-physical reality entities – the First Principles, logic, math – are universal, correct throughout space and time, have always been and always will be (in this universe) valid. And again they are understood to be so without the possibility of materialist, empirical testing.

To repeat a prior theme, if you don’t value Truth, then what is it that you value? In order to value a thing, that thing must be worth defending and defended: in this case defending the existence of non-material reality and the value of its entities is essential to rationality and a rational worldview. It is the use of these non-material entities that determines the true value of evidence, including both material and non-material evidence.

And this leads to the final magnificent question: what is the source of these perpetually valid axioms? Can we just a deny a source and move on? (Caution: inserting ego always corrupts an intellectual process). Are these coherent entities an accident? Should we give credibility to new fables such as multiverses and other untestable tales designed to refute a source?

It becomes clear that there is an undeniable liklihood that they do have a source, just as the universe has a source. And because we must and have restricted their validity to this universe, then they are probably epiphenomenal to the initiation of the universe.

So the material reality and the non-material reality were likely initiated simultaneously – gaseous mass and energy, time and space all in one reality, and valid, cognizable relationships in a second, co-reality.

And again, what is the source of these realities?

Let’s investigate some responses that are possible.

First: “There is no “proof”.
This always means material, empirical proof. And no, physical proof of non-physical axioms is not expected. And empirically, proof is never expected since every experiment provides only an instance of falsification or non-falsification.

[As a side issue, there is no material, experimental empirical “proof” of evolution, either; it is all conjecture, extrapolative inferences that do not, of necessity, follow categorically from the data. It is based on a random occurrence in minerals producing random life forms that ultimately produce intelligence randomly, non-purposefully.]

But back to Materialist proof of non-material entities: that requirement is a tactic used to identify science with a cult, the cult of pure Philosophical Materialism that dogmatically restricts all reality to material reality – which science does not do. Science voluntarily accepts material limits to its investigations, which cannot be applied to non-physical phenomena due to the measurements and replicability required by empirical investigation. Philosophical Materialism is a parasite on science – it is not science nor scientific.

Second: This is all inferential.
Yes it is; in fact it is intuitive and it survives both the process of discernment and the concept that a rational, coherent universe exists, based on rational principles. There is no rational way to exclude a purposeful creation without also excluding rationality itself, as Materialism does.

Third: This is just another God-dunnit.
It is actually the use of all possible reality information to base a rational conclusion on all evidence available. The charge of “God-dunnit” is a simplistic statement of refusal to acknowledge certain evidence because it is contrary to Philosophical Materialism. The refusal to acknowledge data is irrational and cultish.

Fourth: Science will prove you wrong
I will not hold my breath for the day that science changes its position on measuring the unmeasurable. Absolute belief in science for all answers to all realities is “scientism”: a sub-cult of Philosophical Materialism. It is based on incorrect “axioms” and is speculative in a highly credulous and dogmatic fashion, eschewing intellectual humility for arrogance and locked-down intellects. Science will never answer the question “How should we live?” through laboratory experimentation.

There is no rational way to deny that the source for rational thought exists in a non-material reality. Similarly there is no rational way to deny that the source of the dual realities was powerful and rational and purposeful.

But there also is no way to provide physical evidence of that which must be personally experienced intuitively to be known to be valid.

Seeking a personal experience then, makes more sense than seeking physical evidence.

[1] A more complete description of the process of discernment includes apprehension, comparison, differentiation, judgment, comprehension.

[2] Higher math is abstract; e.g. integral calculus involves an infinite number of zero-size differentials.

[3] This lemur is mottled to “camouflage it from predators”: that lemur is brilliant solid gold to “stand out in the forest and attract mates”. An actual claim on PBS, 10-5-09.


Martin said...

Two thoughts:

1) When people demand physical evidence for immaterial entities, many times it is because the postulated entity is supposed to have physical world effects. I.E., the Empty Tomb. It is these intrusions into the natural world that we seek.

2) I can't speak for everyone obviously, but I use the word "evidence" very loosely. Usually I just mean "back up." If a Wiccan says to you that Mother Goddess exists, you would quite rightly demand more than just that mere assertion before accepting her statement.

It is number 2 that I am most interested in for Yahweh. What can I read that backs up the statement "Yahweh exists?"

Stan said...

As you well know, there is no "proof" either way for the empty tomb. Nor for Lourdes, nor for any other temporary event that is historical: eye witness records are all that we have. Finding an empty tomb would prove nothing - it's already been done, and it is deniable without recourse. So it is with Lourdes despite the community testimony. Seeking physical proof is futile.

And there is nothing anyone can read that constitutes "proof" of anything. If you are considering that "proof" equates to "truth", then you must intuit that for yourself: truth is not a physical entity. You wish to reach out and touch an untouchable entity. You cannot.

It's as if you are demanding to watch a football game while sitting in a basketball gymnasium... You're in the wrong place. Such a pursuit is futile.

In terms of "back up", you still seem to really mean to back up categorically, in terms of "proof"; if not, then the back-up has no value. There are plenty of signs that loosely back up a deity; you have rejected them all as watchmaker arguments or some other reason - which still seems to point to your need to personally encounter a full-blown deity before you will accept any argument. Plus you want to do it in the realm of physical reality.

You continually approach the same needs from different directions, seeking answers where they cannot possibly exist. Perhaps you want that.

Many decades ago I attended a Christian Science meeting. I came away with the firm idea that the "seekers" would not accept a deity if he showed up in a pillar of fire and set their hair on fire. They want not to believe and not to be subject to the humiliation of being subjects instead of elites.

You say you want to believe or at least be convinced, yet you continue to muck around in the physical reality only. You are wasting your time, it is not there.

Martin said...

But aren't watchmaker arguments included in the physical reality category? Looking for design in the universe?

And secondly, it's not that I don't want to believe; it's that while I may concede deism from watchmaker arguments, what is the bridge from deism to Yahweh specifically? I can never seem to get specifics from anyone.

"I want to believe." - Agent Mulder

Stan said...

Are you a deist?

Martin said...

Openly agnostic.

If I hear a good design argument, I might sometimes tilt a little toward deism; I hear the objections to the argument and I tilt back.

I really don't know.

Stan said...

As I said in my response to your comments below, no argumentation can provide an incorrigible, final proof in the sense that you are seeking. You will come in and go out with the tides.

You really have a couple of choices. First to make a decision based on what you do know. Or, second to decide what it is that you need to know and go find that out.

You might ask yourself what is your process of knowing? Is it purely sensory data input? Is there any intuition involved? How do you know that? What are the limits of each: sensory input to knowledge v.s. intuited input to knowledge?

And how do these apply to your search?

Stan said...

Error Correction:
In the comment above I meant Unitarian, not Christian Science.