Empirical evidence, also known as sense
experience, is the knowledge or source of knowledge acquired by means of the
senses, particularly by observation and experimentation. The term comes from the
Greek word for experience, ἐμπειρία (empeiría).
Example: I see my neighbors’ bulldog. Now,
I have empirical evidence of a bulldog. I write on paper, “I saw my
neighbor’s bulldog”, and give the note to you. You now have written,
testimonial “evidence” that I saw my neighbor’s dog. But not empirical
evidence: you didn’t see/hear/feel/smell/taste the bulldog yourself.
The ancient Greeks got a dose of empirical
evidence of their god Athena regularly. The crowd would gather at the temple;
the picture is a replica in Nashville, TN. The worshippers saw it’s
construction, especially the SUV sized stone doors, far too heavy to budge
The priests would build a huge fire in the
alter, and call out to Athena. Slowly, on noisy hinges, the doors would move,
untouched. As the crowd reacted to the presence of Athena, faster the doors
moved, and opened fully after 10 minutes. They settled in place with a startling
thud. The crowd would file thru the temple to worship Athena.
Meanwhile, the scientists and mechanical
engineers who were the true Greek Gods, snickered. The huge fire pit hid their
pipes, which carried steam to a crude engine. After the priests got everyone out
of the temple, the fire would be extinguished, and the doors closed.
Seeing is believing, right? Irony: Athena
was the goddess of wisdom.