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Is there some kind of experiment we could run on the Eucharist to determine whether or not it is in fact "the body and blood of Christ"?

If so, what outcome would serve as proof of the hypothesis?

Steve Shiffrin

Do you deny the existence of beauty and morality on the ground that there is no empirical test for determining their existence or do you reserve measurement requirements for the supernatural which by definition is not measurable. If you believe in morality and think, for example, that the Holocaust (or torture for entertainment purposes) was actually immoral, how do you justify distinguishing the supernatural?


There is no such thing as supernatural. The word is used by superstitious folks who attribute things they can't understand or explain (gravity, heliocentricity, etc) to the supernatural.

It is not the job of a non-superstitious scientist to explain beauty, morality or the Eucharist, unless he were to advance a hypothesis as to their existence or qualities.

It is the job of the person who asserts that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, or that prayer actually works, to offer a way to test the hypothesis and a standard that can be used to refute or prove it.

That's what was famously done in the proof of Einstein's wild hypothesis regarding the effect of General Relativity on the precession of the perihelion of Mercury.

Anyone anywhere can assert fantastic things like the Assumption of Mary or her Immaculate Conception. Ditto beauty and morality. Those fantasies are probably not amenable to proof.

The same is not true, however, of the Eucharist and prayer, as I can propose simple tests that would prove or disprove both of those fantasies.

Steve Shiffrin

The claim that the scientific method should apply to questions of
beauty, morality, or the supernatural is not a scientific claim. It
is a philosophical claim. Your attempt to elevate science to a
general theory stretching beyond science requires a defense, and
name calling is not a defense. To suggest that moral beliefs
(including the idea that torturing babies is immoral) are mere
superstitions as if your claim were obvious is remarkable,
unpersuasive, and undefended.


Whether prayer works and whether the Eucharist is the body and blood of a person are indeed scientific questions. Research into such hypotheses is carried out every day in clinical trials and could easily be applied to such questions of fact and reality.

Science deals only with questions of fact and reality (involving epistemology, logic and metaphysics), not with questions of beauty or morals (that would be aesthetics or ethics). Questions involving "ought to/ought not to" such as those of killing babies, in particular, or of morality in general are not amenable to scientific analysis.

Efficacy of prayer and characteristics of the Eucharist, however, are indeed questions of science and are amenable to scientific analysis, same as Galileo's claim of earth's heliocentricity against the RC superstition of geocentricity that prevailed until the Pope finally apologized and pardoned Galileo in 2000.

cf. http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/71.htm

Where did you study philosophy? Are you degreed in Jesuitry?

Steve Shiffrin

I leave to the side your claim that logic, epistemology, and
metaphysics are scientific studies, and simply ask you to explain
how you leap to the conclusion that because ethics cannot be pursued
scientifically, those who arrive at conclusions in that area are
superstitious. As I said before that is not a scientific claim, so
what is the basis for it?
I also wonder what your inquiry about my philosophic background has
to do with the argument. And I also wonder whether you intend the
term Jesuitry as an anti-Catholic slur? If so, is that based on a
scientific analysis or are you engaging in a realm that you have
called superstition?


It may be news to you, but no scientist believes in anything, especially in believing. Belief is at the basis of superstition, definitions of which are:

Superstition = Excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.

Superstition = A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice.

I invite you to overcome the charge of superstition in your view of the Eucharist or in your view of ethics and morality. I have set forth the procedure: form a hypothesis, give a procedure that can confirm or refute it, and give the criteria for confirmation.

To the extent that you rely on supernatural forces to justify your ethics, you are superstitious. But I am not interested in joining you in attempting scientific proof of ethical questions.

Try to stick to proving that prayer works or that the Eucharist has anything to do with the body and blood of Christ. Once you fail at that, we can move on to attack other superstitions like assumptions, virgin births, and immaculate conceptions.

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Steve Shiffrin

I was hoping to get you to attempt to justify the use of the scientific method in realms of morality and religion. Definitions are not arguments. I will give up trying.


No moral or aesthetic beliefs are falsifiable and many religious claims aren't either. Hence they are not subject to scientific analysis.

Claims about the consistency of wine and bread and the outcome of prayers, however, are falsifiable and thus subject to scientific analysis and proof. I would be happy to set up a study to analyze your claims about the Eucharist and power of prayer, not to mention Shrouds of Turin and weeping Marys, provided that you publish the outcomes here.

Read some Kuhn and Popper if you still need enlightenment.

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