This is an important question. Remember that I said relativistic mechanics had to satisfy two requirements. The first was that the speed of light be constant in all frames as observed by Michelson and Morley. The second was that it give the same results as Newtonian mechanics in those situations where Newtonian mechanics is well-tested. We cannot accept a theory that predicts something we have observed to be untrue.
For example, if my sources of spiritual truth tried to convince me that most people experience Santa in very direct and visible ways nearly every day, I would have to be very suspicious of them because neither I nor anyone I know experiences Santa in that way. The truths learned via our new spiritual epistemology cannot contradict our observations. So, we must reconcile the existence of spiritual things with their apparent absence from our daily life. If our spiritual epistemology tells us Santa is real, it must also explain why we don’t see Him.
I have found what I regard as a satisfactory answer to this. I think it is inescapable that Santa wishes not to be seen. But he must have a reason for wishing so. It begins with an understanding of faith. In the Bible, faith is described as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It’s easy to see that, if Santa were visibly present in your life, you could not have faith in Him. That is not to say you wouldn’t need faith in Him. I mean only that it’s impossible to have faith, according to the scriptural definition, in something that is seen. So, one reason for Santa to remain hidden is to enable us to have faith.
Please seperate the above statement from yours without resorting to a logical fallacy.
Exactly right. What I'm saying does not prove God exists any more than it proves Santa exists. Just because my system is self-consistent doesn't mean it's true. But can we agree that a system where God exists and you can't see God is self-consistent?
If so, then here's another post from my blog on why physicists should believe in God
. These are posted here out of order which may make the original post confusing. It may help to read this post, then return to the original:Are you willing to consider an alternate epistemology?
You’ve lived your scientific and working life relying on a method for discovering truth—-the scientific method. You’ve come to rely on it to lead to predictive conclusions. But, what if there are additional ways of discovering truth—-alternate epistemologies-—that are equally reliable? Is that so inconsistent with your experience? Is there precedent for such things?
The scientific method did not arise on its own. It developed over centuries in the hands of great minds such at Aristotle, Ibn Al-Haytham and Rene Descartes. By the end of the European Renaissance, the scientific method was firmly established as the method by which scientists of all kinds found access to predictive truths. It was Auguste Comte that forwarded the idea that the scientific method is the only method for discovering truth. This is referred to as positivism. But, faith in the scientific method does not, by itself, preclude other methods of seeking truth. The fact that you’re holding a hammer doesn’t make everything a nail.
I’m going to discuss this with a parallel from the world of physics (fizix!). About the same time Descartes and Comte were rewriting philosophy and sociology, Newtonian physics was supplanting Aristotelian mechanics as the most reliable explanation of the physical world. For centuries to follow, scientists of all kinds built a vast and glorious scientific edifice on this foundation. Newtonian physics conquered on its merits. It was a more predictive system for describing the world.
Then came the Michelson-Morley experiment
. The discovery that the speed of light is constant from any vantage point was in direct contradiction to Newton. Imagine traveling on a train and shining a flashlight straight ahead of you. If, to you, the light travels 300 million meters per second, then someone standing stationary next to the track should, according to Newton, see the light travel at 300 million meters/sec plus the speed of the train. As demonstrated by Michelson and Morley, this is not what happens. Both observers see the light travel at the same constant speed. It was clear, at least here on the fringes of physics, that Newtonian physics was inconsistent with observation.
Einstein’s special relativity restores sanity to our world view. Einstein sought and found an explanation of the universe that a) allowed for a constant speed of light in all frames of reference and b) reduced to familiar Newtonian mechanics at speeds much slower than the speed of light. Special relativity is not a band-aid on Newtonian physics that applies in certain situations. It is a fundamental rethinking of the nature of space and time. Newtonian mechanics is a subset of relativistic mechanics that applies in a subset of situations. Most of human experience is in this “subset,” but it’s an important distinction.
I believe the scientific method and a spiritual epistemology fit together in the same way. Our world is, in fact, a spiritual one just as it’s a special relativistic one. The spiritual explanation of the world is the right one. Your soul is eternal. There is a God who guides the universe. At the same time, science, as discovered via the scientific method, describes the world accurately in most situations, as Newtonian mechanics is right and predictive in most aspects of our life. Someone who doesn’t see the spiritual nature of the universe can be forgiven just like Newton can be forgiven for misinterpreting the nature of space and time and missing the special relativistic nature of the universe. He hadn’t made the observations that led to special relativity just as you have not had the experiences that lead to faith.
So, ask yourself whether there’s room in your thinking for an alternate epistemology—-for truths which are not available via the scientific method, but which are just as reliable. If so, there is a sure path to faith. At the end of it, you will be convinced that God exists and that you are an eternal and spiritual being.
An introduction to faith requires a few words of warning. A spiritual epistemology will embarrass you.
It’s meant to be visible only to the sincere seeker. Unfortunately, a spiritual epistemology will not help you win any arguments. There are many religious persons who seek demonstrable proof of their faith. In my opinion, they seek in vain. You must surrender your need for “I told you so.” Because finding religious truth requires more effort than the scientific method, you won’t see public demonstrations as you do with scientific truths. However, a spiritual epistemology is reliable and repeatable and an equally acceptable avenue for discovering truth.
And, it’s simple. The steps to discovering a spiritual truth are as follows:
Be willing to follow the truth you find. Spiritual truth is not revealed to the purely academic seeker.
Learn, and in some cases begin to apply, the knowledge you wish verify. Study religious texts. Use your scientific mind here, too. Greater minds than yours have considered these things and they didn’t break.
Express to God your desire to receive confirmation of this knowledge. Even if you don’t believe anyone is listening or you feel silly, pray.
There’s a wonderful example of this from the Book of Mormon. In it, a king has been taught of God for the first time. He is taught the system I described above. Then, he prays the following prayer.
O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.
This king received his answer in very dramatic fashion. We are not promised dramatic results. We are not even promised immediate freedom from doubt. But God has promised that He will give us knowledge if we seek it as He has outlined.
I’ve left a lot of business unattended to. My next entry will address some questions which an atheist might reasonably ask a believer in God including:
Why does God hide Himself?
and the age-old question
Why is there so much pain and ugliness in a world created by a loving and omnipotent God?