Zeus exists, so do atoms…

Religion-Science Philosophy articles series

Paul Feyerabend made in one of his books a weird claim. He said that if we are to suppose that atoms or electromagnetic fields exist, then we should also accept that the Gods of Olympus exist as well! This may sound weird to someone who hears about it for the first time, but it is absolutely true!

Let us take a close look at what we “know” about atoms or electromagnetic fields. Take a close look and you will see that they are not things you actually “see”. Take a close look and you will understand that what you think “exist” it does not (or it does, just like… Zeus!) The fact is that you only witness phenomena that you ATTRIBUTE to those entities. But you do not have immediate experience of those entities! Even the SEM images that claim to be “images of atoms” are simply interferences to the electromagnetic field the electronic microscope uses, which we translate as “atoms”. Let us suppose an electric charge exists somewhere. We claim that this mass produces a field around it so as to explain the forces it exerts to other charges. But we should not mistake what we see as “proof of existence”. We have CHOSEN to believe in a specific scientific model. Just that! Nothing claimed about “reality” here!

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And we should also remember that even the ultimate goal of science and philosophy alike, “Reality”, is something purely subjective. It could be the case that you “see” something and I don’t. It could be the case that you “sense” something and I don’t. It could be the case that you think of something as “logical” and I don’t.

We know think thunder comes from electricity and electric fields and charges. In the old days people thought the thunder came from Zeus. We talk about models of exegesis. If we want the people 1,000,000 years from now not to say “ok, those stupid people really thought electromagnetic fields existed! Hahaha!!” (since it is certain that by then the models of science will have radically changes – as the curved timespace of Einstein completely destroyed the ides of a gravity field), then we should see with respect the ideas and the models people in the past used.

If atoms and electromagnetism “exist”, then so does Zeus!!!

Back in the days of Homer, there was no distinction between “real” and “not real” thing. Maybe we should forget our dogmatism (and arrogance of the form “I know, the previous ones were primitive”) and go back to the free thinking of the ancient ones…

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  1. Against Enlightenment: The Enlightenment was not light. The Enlightenment is darkness. | Harmonia Philosophica

    […] Zeus exists, so do atoms… [Harmonia Philosophica] […]

  2. Hannah Wassel

    I agree- why can science be real but “mythology” is classified as non-existant? It all had to start somewhere so who are we to say what is and isn’t real?

    1. skakos

      Unfortunately arrogance plays a major role in our modern civilization…

      1. dan’s obsessions

        Arrogance or ‘stubborness’ * is the prime reason behind our ‘genetic machines’ struggle for ahem ‘perpetual motion’ [ if one should call it that]

        But to this end your machinations, proves nothing whatsoever, the extrapolation of a ‘deity’ that weaves thunders, is a simplified version for the lay people of that age [countless amongst nowadays as well] A need to put a ‘guise’ behind the fear of the unkown forces of nature. [ needless to say that ‘brilliant minds’ at thε helliinstic age, had already thought of the first steps, that would proliferate the Scientific understanding we hold today]

        Nowadays, we make a ‘clear distinction’ to what we are able to ‘paraller’ with scientific apparatus, and what we think we can deduce with other scientic tools.. But to answer on your thesis

        From your part, I don’t see any arrogance, just the (ideal shape) of a ‘simpleton’ who is embeddd on his positions.

        Το σύμπαν είναι απέραντο. Όπως και ηανθρώπινη βλακεία

      2. skakos

        Giving something a name does not mean that you understand it. But this is exactly what we do. What we observe is what we observe. Nothing more. When we start naming things, thus forming “theories”, we believe we are an inch closer to “reality”. In… reality we have just made a theory. Nothing more. The “lay people of that age” laid the foundations of philosophy on which science today is based. When you speak about atoms you speak about them because you believe in the Platonic world of “ideas” and because you believe in the ideas of Democritus about how things can be divided but not infinitely. Weird how our “advanced” civilization is based on such old ideas don’t you think?

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