I'm sorry, but there is a huge difference between knowledge which is "in principle knowable directly", and that which is merely based on "believing what someone says". The fact that most people don't actually do a physics degree (I did by the way) doesn't mean that physics isn't based on empirical evidence, it just means that most people get it second-hand. There is, of course, vastly more knowledge in the world than anyone could ever acquire directly in a million lifetimes, but that doesn't render it all equivalent to things taken merely on faith.Zech wrote:For those not familiar with parallax, Cephid variables, supernovae and red shifts, the way of knowing how far away the stars are is not based on empirical evidence, it's based on believing what someone says. The fact that the results of science are in principle knowable directly - i.e. you could take the measurements and do the calculations for yourself if you wanted to - becomes increasingly remote as science becomes more advanced.
Whilst it's true that I could never come up with the equipment necessary to independently derive quantum mechanics, I have access to other evidence that it is a reasonably accurate model of reality - namely that the computer which I'm using to create this message, and all the intervening electronics, fibre-optics, and so forth which delivers it to you, actually works. If our collective understanding of quantum mechanics was significantly wrong, then we wouldn't be able to build functioning systems which rely on its principles. Similarly, I know relativity must be tolerably accurate by the simple fact that my GPS works.
I never get tired of seeing people using the internet to argue that science is just another belief system... It's like seeing the Flat Earth Society launch their own satellite.