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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dr. Sich - The Name Fits!

We met Dr. Sich in the last post, and when I had searched for the video which I embedded, I saw a second one which is more recent (uploaded Jan, 2012).  It has to do with science and theology and I was curious as to whether Sich would stand up for science or not.  Well, you know the answer from the title.

Let's dig in!

I also went to the webpage of the university which uploaded the videos, the Franciscan University of Steubenville (in Ohio).  It's odd because they don't offer a major in physics nor one in nuclear engineering.  He's just teaching physics to those seeking other majors (like Chemistry or Biology).

Then I just had to peak at their Biology major.  Would the central core of biology, evolution, be the major's central core or not?

Answer:  NOT.  It's a freakin' elective, only offered every other year!  And it's a controversial topic!  HA!

"EVOLUTION is designed to provide a contemporary examination of the study of evolution from a biological perspective. The course will deal with the various meanings of the term evolution, the various methods by which evolution is studied, and the conclusions about evolution that can be drawn from the evidence at hand. This course will give students a thorough understanding of the latest biological theories of evolution and equip them with the ability to intelligently discuss this controversial topic. (Spring term odd numbered years)"

Those biology majors are getting ripped off, and Dr. Sich is an accomplice.

Now, I still wasn't sure where Sich would end up on the science and theology issue because this video contains an assertion by one guy followed by Sich's response.  Sich's differing with the first guy isn't the point of this post.

The point of this post is to point out where Sich gets his science and philosophy of science wrong.

Let's skip the first guy, Sich comes on at 50:00;

Sich says he agrees with what the first speaker said in the latter half of his talk, but not the former half, dealing with reification.  Reification deals with making the mistake of thinking a mental construct is something physically real in the world.

Sich says all human knowledge comes to us from our 5 senses with the exception of mystical knowledge!

Made-up stuff isn't knowledge at's hooey!

He says philosophy and theology are "fully fledged sciences".  No they're not.  We incorporate philosophy into the sciences (and vice-versa) and science has no use for theology.

All knowledge is sensory knowledge, you wouldn't know anything if you couldn't sense it.

He gives an example of stealing candy from a baby.  The fact that we "see" a privation of justice doesn't mean science can't address this scenario.  First, note, we used our senses to know that the candy had been stolen.  Second, we empathize with the baby due to the evolution of our brain which includes components like mirror neurons.  Of course, when you are intentionally ignorant of evolution....

Sich then goes into a discourse on "motion".  He tries to compare physical motion with an emotion, "being moved by the beauty of his wife".  The latter instance is a change in emotional state, which is studied using neuroscience and fMRI imaging.

He plays on the historic reality that back in Newton's day, there were natural philosophers (not scientists and philosophers).  Natural philosophy had evolved from medieval scholasticism.  Scholasticism was basically early apologetics (defending the faith when the evidence argues otherwise). Natural philosophy did away with what books or men said and looked to nature itself for answers about nature.  Today, scientists (in the narrow sense) do experiments, and they incorporate philosophy.  Philosophers don't do experiments, but they may contemplate the results of them.  Theology adds nothing.

Sich says that energy and matter are not the same thing.  Well, each can be interchanged, which is why most people say they are the same thing.  But they're not the same thing in the sense we have different words for each.

We don't think space-time exists because of the mathematics, like Sich states.  We think so because the math makes predictions about the Universe, and when we look at the evidence it suggests space-time exists.  The evidence includes things like gravitational time delay and gravitational lensing.

He says neither space nor time exists without matter.  Well in our Universe, except for the very beginning, they have all coexisted.  But that doesn't mean it is impossible for space or time to exist in another Universe without matter.

He says orderliness is presupposed by modern empirical scientists...well, yes, because that's what the evidence shows.  If it didn't we wouldn't presuppose it.

Sich says scientists can't explain orderliness in any deep sense, which itself is reification.  That things are orderly or not is a mental construct.  The Universe simply is and we've found that it seems to follow certain rules.  It could certainly be more ordered, and in fact it is less orderly everyday (entropy is increasing).

But just because we can't explain the Universe's orderliness doesn't mean he gets to play the pseudo-answer: "goddidit".  That's the god-of-the-gaps fallacy.

He criticizes someone for stating that nothing created the Universe.

Ok,  what created god? (Can't say "nothing", right?)

Then Sich has the hubris to claim that evolutionary biology (Darwinism) unscientifically tries to eliminate god and quantum mechanics tries to unscientifically eliminate cause.

Well, I had enough, that about made me sich (not me in photo).

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