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Come, Let Us Do Science Together

Wine

An atheist invites a Catholic over for dinner. The atheist host graciously plans to serve pan fried sea bass with a sauce made of black pepper, vermouth, fresh thyme, saffron, and a delicate touch of cream for good measure. She selects some greens and tomatoes for the side. On the way over, the Catholic picks a H.R.M. Rex Goliath Free Range Red, the bomb of all wines even with bass, 2 bottles also for good measure, and grabs a bag of Lindt dark chocolate bars for dessert.

The two women prepare their meal with excitement. The Catholic recommends slightly lowering the skillet temperature after adding the thick fish, so it roasts as it sears. The atheist gives it a try and acquires a nuance in her cooking skills. The atheist recommends a vinaigrette for the greens, honey and cayenne, something bold to marry the subtle entrée with the wine. The Catholic never thought of such a combination, but discovers that it works well. They synthesize the meal, set the table, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It is a good evening, occurring within the greater context of each woman's life.

It's no different, really, in a laboratory. Two people can work together to achieve a mutual goal, and enjoy it despite differences beyond the immediate environment. Science, like cooking, occurs in a greater context of life. I think that point gets lost in the science vs. religion debates because there's some assumption that people of faith must set it aside to do science. It's exasperated by this new age idea that the only real kind of knowledge we can have is scientific knowledge, this belief that science can solve all of the tasks we face. I'd like to address these concerns from my perspective as a former research chemist in both academic and industrial settings. I was non-religious at the time. I had no convictions either way.

I worked alongside declared atheists, practicing Buddhists, faithful Muslims, evangelical Christians, and devout Catholics. In the decade I worked, I interacted with researchers from South Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, England, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. Science is a global enterprise, but scientific work is specialized. Therefore, people don't stand around arguing over religion before they design and run experiments, collect and communicate data. No one was expected to hide his or her faith as such a demand would have been childish and inhospitable, rudely narrow-minded.

Sure, over beer and chicken wings after work on Friday, during a cook-out at the boss's house in July, or while dining on a patio in Lyon, researchers had lively arguments on such topics beyond science, but it didn't interfere with our scientific work. Scientists are naturally interested in their peers because they are curious and open-minded, and routinely work in diverse teams united toward a common goal.

As a Catholic and full-time homemaker now, I study theology. I spend a lot of time trying to make sense of this science-religion Venn Diagram because it was not something I ever considered as a scientist. I've read Stephen J. Gould's generally accepted Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA) concept that holds theology and science as two separate spheres of teaching authority occasionally bumping into each other. NOMA doesn't seem accurate though, it seems like a mis-characterization, a veiled attempt to convince Catholics to check their faith at the door, which makes about as much sense as asking your dinner host to believe the kitchen is the only room in her house, or expecting your dinner guest to believe cooking is all there is to living. I don't buy it. The people I worked with were not that controlling or unreasonable.

NOMA just doesn't jive with my experience, and my doctoral research certainly begged the question of God's existence. I worked, in part, on simulating photosynthesis, and it was a given that we had to study the design in nature to design our experiments in the lab. Whether a person believed in God or not, she could still aim a Nd:YAG laser the size of artillery, generating 532 nanometer wavelength light (the sun) at a cubic millimeter quartz cuvette containing monodisperse 35 nanometer silica spheres (that she made) layered with photoreactive polymers (the leaves), and see what happened. No one demanded or forbade I profess faith in an intelligent designer, though that research played a role in my later conversion. I have poignant memories of hurling the cuvette in the trash can, gripping the windowsill next to my desk, and staring at the dogwood trees below wondering how they could possess such secrets and appear so care-free.

The NOMA diagram is not, I argue, consistent with Catholic thought either. St. Thomas Aquinas describes a hierarchy of the sciences, the highest science is the study of sacred doctrine (theology) because its object is God, and the other sciences ordered below it from the abstract and speculative to the observable and tangible. All of the sciences are an integrated search for truth, which is ultimately a search for God because God is the author of truth. No science, whether speculative or practical, occupies a conceptual sphere outside the realm of truth. Theology and science as two equal bubbles bumping around in the space of human knowledge just doesn't fit.

Catholics do everything in the context of their faith. Science, for a Catholic, is understood within the context of the theology of creation, the study of the created world, part of a greater truth. Atheists or people of other religions can operate inside that same circle of scientific truth, just as two people can cook together in a kitchen, because the material world appears to all of us as a common experience. A Catholic operating within the context of the Catholic faith keeps the dignity of the human person and the custodial responsibility as a steward of nature before her at all times. She has every motivation to seek the truth, whatever it demands -- noble goals for anyone.

This isn't to say that the NOMA diagram doesn't represent any reality. Some people do view the relationship of science and theology in this way, especially for certain hard questions regarding our moral conduct, our origins, and our place in the universe. At some point the research is not just like cooking in the kitchen because there are conflicts about which materials are ethical to use and conflicts about how to interpret the data based on one's worldview.

For instance, a non-Catholic may expect a Catholic to do research on human embryos or fetuses on grounds of subjective moral reasoning in opposition to Catholic teaching. The non-Catholic may expect the Catholic to separate her faith from her science, true to the NOMA diagram. But to the Catholic, that request would be as absurd and tyrannical as asking her to chop up children in her kitchen and cook them just because a non-Catholic thinks it's moral. We are not going to progress in knowledge by imposing injustice.

Or a non-Catholic may expect a Catholic to superimpose materialistic beliefs on evolutionary biology or neuroscience data, to deny that humans have souls, but a Catholic cannot do that. Would an atheist appreciate being told he must interpret data in the light of faith? Surely not. The NOMA diagram encourages division, and such behavior will not further our collective knowledge, which is why I argue that the harder questions don't support the NOMA diagram, not for Catholics, not for people of other faiths, not for atheists. Rather, they highlight why it is insufficient.

What the NOMA diagram reflects is our incomplete knowledge. For if we had complete knowledge the spheres would merge into one, all our knowledge coming together toward ultimate answers. As the pagan philosopher, Mortimer J. Adler, so beautifully expressed: “Ultimately there can be no disagreement between history, science, philosophy, and theology. Where there is disagreement, there is either ignorance or error.” In fact, Gould admitted mid-way through his NOMA essay that there is some "interdigitating in wondrously complex ways along [science and religion's] joint border" and by the end he even softened his definition by conceding that NOMA "enjoins...the prospect of respectful discourse, of constant input from both magisteria toward the common goal of wisdom."

Yes, that's more like it. Cross the barriers, dialogue, and strive for unity, an idea as deeply human as sharing meals. Just as cooking a culinary masterpiece is a celebration of our skills in manipulating natural resources for the common good, so too is science a celebration of our shared humanity, but on a larger scale. Nonetheless, I don't think it's impossible to gather round that table.
 
 
(Image credit: Wine Palate)

Dr. Stacy Trasancos

Written by

Stacy A. Trasancos is a wife and homeschooling mother of seven. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State University and a MA in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She teaches chemistry and physics for Kolbe Academy online homeschool program and serves as the Science Department Chair. She teaches Reading Science in the Light of Faith at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. She is author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki. Her new book, Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (Ave Maria Press) comes out October 2016. She works from her family’s 100-year old restored lodge in the Adirondack mountains, where her husband, children, and two German Shepherds remain top priority. Her website can be found here.

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  • I am sure I have not thought about this as deeply as you have, but it seems to me that working scientists do have to set aside, or bracket, their religious faith when actually "doing science." Over on First Things not long ago, Dr. Stephen Barr, a committed Catholic and a prominent physicist, wrote a piece about a paper he and his colleagues had written in 1997. Here is an excerpt:

    It all has to do with one of the main theoretical puzzles in fundamental physics: why is the mass of the Higgs particle 17 orders of magnitude smaller than its “natural” value? (“Natural” here is a technical term in particle physics. It has nothing to do with natural vs. supernatural.) There are several explanations of the Higgs mass that preserve the principle of “naturalness”. All of these ideas predict that new kinds of particles should be seen by the LHC. But so far, none of them has turned up. Physicists are beginning to think that maybe they won’t.

    Then how would one explain the puzzle of the Higgs mass being so light? The only physics idea left is the one proposed in 1997 in that paper by me and my friends—namely that we live in a multiverse. I hasten to add that we didn’t invent the multiverse idea; we only made the connection between the multiverse idea and the Higgs mass puzzle.

    There were many comments to the piece, and in response to one of them he wrote:

    That tuning could be explained by saying that God tuned the laws for the sake of life, or it could be explained by a multiverse scenario, I have no way of knowing which of those possibilities, if either, is correct. In the above piece, I was careful to say, “the only PHYSICS idea” that would be left in the event all the conventional ones failed would be a multiverse scenario. Divine fine-tuning, while I think it quite possibly the correct explanation, is not a “physics explanation”.

    As a physicist, I think Stephen Barr would say that his job is to "do physics." He may personally believe in "divine fine-tuning," but that is not physics.

    The danger of mixing science and religion is, of course, that if you believe religion has given you an answer—say, to the question of whether the sun revolves around the earth or the earth revolves around the sun—you will dismiss empirical evidence and go with your religious belief.

    Dr. Barr's book on science and religion is Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, which I have not read yet, but based on his impressive work for First Things, I am sure must be well worth reading. (It's in the Strange Notions list of recommended books, too.)

    • Excellent article by Dr. Trasancos, excellent comment by Mr. Nickols, and utterly devastating quote from Dr. Barr.

      It's a ballgame quote.

      It shows why science has gone crazy.

      " All of these ideas predict that new kinds of particles should be seen by the LHC. But so far, none of them has turned up. Physicists are beginning to think that maybe they won’t."

      >> The phenomenon is also seen in cosmology, where dark matter should have been seen long since. But it hasn't. Cosmologists are not yet, generally, beginning to think that it won't be, since the implications are utterly catastrophic for Einstein's Relativity- so devastating that Einstein could not survive even under the multiverse option; his physics have to work in this one, and absent dark matter, *they don't*.

      Such a failure to demonstrate and experimentally verify the existence of dark matter would, really, mark the end of the road for the entire Copernican enterprise, and that end of the road would be humiliating failure, devastating failure, and failure demonstrably ascribable to the adoption of a philosophical absurdity in the face of experimental evidence which could have been interpreted, otherwise, only in the context of the unthinkable.

      The other interpretation consistent with the evidence which led Einstein to Relativity- the unthinkable interpretation- happens to be the ancient cosmology which places Earth at the center of a rotating cosmos.

      Faced with a similar, rapidly approaching moment of truth, the particle physicists have another possibility open to them, the multiverse....which, ironically, represents the end of science altogether, as a means for providing knowledge of the universe.

      The scientific method does not allow us experimental access to these multiverses.

      If science leads us to conclude that, under its operational methodologies, we must propose a multiverse, then science has been led, by its own operational methodologies, to the falsification of science as a means of obtaining valid universal knowledge of reality.

      It is the moment of truth for science.

      There is an alternative, the alternative is unthinkable for them, and yet, in the end, we shall have no other way forward:

      http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2011/12/why-has-science-gone-crazy.html

      • There is yet one deeper irony.

        Let us suppose that science does, in the end, go through the looking glass and into the multiverse.

        Stop and think for a moment.

        Given:

        A multiverse.

        How does one continue to do science, even scientific metaphysics, in a multiverse?

        Here's how:

        http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1006.4148

      • David Egan

        Dark matter has been observed through gravitational lensing. I'm sure you have some convoluted reason not to accept this but for those of us in the real world, it's pretty compelling evidence.

        • To the contrary.

          There are monumental challenges to the concept of gravitational lensing, chief among which include:

          1. Einstein's Cross, which shows objects changing position, shape, and brightness between 1991 and 1994, although all are alleged to be the same object under gravitational lensing assumptions.

          2. The assertion that lensing is caused by black holes; if true, why do we not observe any gravitational lensing when we observe toward the center of the Milky Way, where it is theoretically required that a supermassive black hole exist?

          There are many other challenges, but these are adequate to refute the logical fallacy gravitational lensing=dark matter.

          Indeed, even if gravitational lensing could somehow be established, that alone would do nothing to establish the existence of dark matter.

          Dark matter must be experimentally detected and observed and reproduced experimentally in order to attain the status of "real world" evidence.

          Fifty years on, we're still trying to satisfy that irreducibly scientific requirement.

          • josh

            The early experimental confirmation of general relativity was the observed bending of light by the sun in 1919. Gravitational lensing follows from this. It has been observed for many objects in the sky.

            Einstein's cross is one of the demonstrations of this phenomenon. The same object (a quasar) behind a massive galaxy produces four images of itself in our telescopes due to the bending of light at different angles around the galaxy. Changes can of course be produced by changes in the background or foreground object, or their position relative to each other in our line of sight. Do you have any citation for your claim that this presents a serious problem for general relativity?

            The center of the Milky Way is extremely bright and close by astronomical standards. Where is the evidence that graviational lensing should be observed but isn't?

            Dark matter is postulated via several pieces of evidence. Among these are graviatational lensing, galaxy rotation curves, the Bullet Cluster and similar colliding objects, and the consistency with the Cosmic Microwave Background peaks. Some direct detection experiments have shown possible hints of dark matter effects, but these are inconclusive so far. There remains a large parameter space in even simplified models where we don't expect to see direct detection with the current level of sensitivity.

            On the whole, particle dark matter remains the most compelling explanation of the observed phenomena, but scientists are still looking for more evidence to confirm this.

          • "The early experimental confirmation of general relativity was the observed bending of light by the sun in 1919. Gravitational lensing follows from this. It has been observed for many objects in the sky."

            >> The bending of light has been observed for centuries. It can be attributed to refraction in a medium, which is consistent with non-vacuum models, as well as the curved spacetime model of Einstein. No observation of 1919 requires us to attribute it to a curvature of spacetime. The claim is that this precise bending was predicted by the theory in advance: this is not correct.

            After presenting the table of observations compiled by Eddington from the 1919 eclipse, Charles Poor notes:

            "The difference between the deflection of the star
            nearest the sun and that of the farthest star
            should be, according to Einstein, 0.56”;
            while the observed or measured difference
            was 0.82”, practically 50% out of the way.
            The diagrams...show clearly that the
            observed displacements of the stars do not
            agree in direction with the predicted
            Einstein effect." (Gravitation vs. Relativity, p 218-219).

            At a meeting of theRoyal Astronomical Society in 1919, Ludwik Silberstein revealed that the displacements were not
            radial as Einstein’s theory claims, often deflecting
            from the radial direction by as much as 35o, leading
            Silberstein to conclude: “If we had not the prejudice
            of Einstein’s theory we should not say that the
            figures strongly indicated a radial law of
            displacement.”

            Now these objections were ignored at the time, and they deserve to be reexamined now that observational evidence of the universe on its largest visible scales has disclosed dramatic challenges to the General Theory in the form of discrepancies of matter/energy content of the universe, drastically insufficient to account for observations under the theory, as well as Earth-oriented structure in the CMB which defines a preferred direction in space, in contradiction to the FLRW solutions to the Einstein equations.

            "Einstein's cross is one of the demonstrations of this phenomenon. The same object (a quasar) behind a massive galaxy produces four images of itself in our telescopes due to the bending of light at different angles around the galaxy. Changes can of course be produced by changes in the background or foreground object, or their position relative to each other in our line of sight. Do you have any citation for your claim that this presents a serious problem for general relativity?"

            >> First, the claim stands on its own merits; that is, you assert, but do not demonstrate, that it is the same object. I reply, that the "same object" is instead four objects.

            But since you wish a citation, here is one that is particularly devastating to the "gravitational lensing" claim, since it discloses the rather amazing degrees of manipulation of the imagery that have been undertaken:

            http://www.discordancyreport.com/pg111580/

            Excerpt:

            "The image to the right is a 7+ hour exposure of PG1115+080 made by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. If the light from a background quasar and its host galaxy is supposedly being lensed and is showing as a ring in infrared and possibly visible wavelengths why is there no trace of the hosting galaxy when it is viewed in the x-ray portion of the electromagnetic spectrum? The most likely explanation is that there is no real ring nor any gravitational lensing occurring at all other than what scientists so desperately wish to see rather than face the stunning reality of their observations."

            "Dark matter is postulated via several pieces of evidence. Among these are graviatational lensing, galaxy rotation curves, the Bullet Cluster and similar colliding objects, and the consistency with the Cosmic Microwave Background peaks. Some direct detection experiments have shown possible hints of dark matter effects, but these are inconclusive so far. There remains a large parameter space in even simplified models where we don't expect to see direct detection with the current level of sensitivity."

            >> In other words, it has not been detected and some are prepared to insist its detection is not required.

            I reply that this is a perversion of the scientific method itself.

            We are not permitted to postulate entities which bridge the gap between theory and observation, and so define them as to render them invisible.

            "On the whole, particle dark matter remains the most compelling explanation of the observed phenomena, but scientists are still looking for more evidence to confirm this."

            >> To the contrary. It is quite clear that some "scientists" have long since ceased doing science, and frankly propose to replace it with metaphysics.

          • josh

            Ummm, the 1919 observation was one of the first pieces of confirming evidence, not the last. Do you know of any theory whose earliest evidence was completely precise and without error? Especially with the level of precision available in 1919? I'm just going to quote Wikipedia on this one: "Poor published a series of papers (see bibliography) that reflect his lack of understanding for the theory of relativity."

            Current observations do not require dramatic changes in General Relativity, that's what is great about it. They indicate the energy/matter content of the universe is not what was thought 50 years ago, that doesn't affect the validity of GR. One possibility is adding a cosmological constant, which is technically a change to the theory but one entirely consistent with the broader theory and an addition Einstein himself contemplated.

            The evidence for lensing in the Einstein Cross and everywhere else is to be found in the scientific literature. I'm not going to switch fields and rerun the experiments and analysis for you. Please don't send me to crank websites any more, the lack of systematic analysis or math or professional knowledge makes my head hurt.

            I really don't know why you think building a theory based on multiple lines of evidence and then searching for more based on its predictions is a perversion of the scientific method.

          • josh

            I want to add that there are theories which attempt to explain dark matter effects via modifications of gravity. So far they seem to be much less compelling than particle dark matter. It's not wrong to hold that the case is not closed. It is wrong to think that particle dark matter is ruled out and unscientific. It would also be wrong to think that GR will be overturned rather than expanded into a larger theory which will retain the implications of GR for almost every observable.

      • Thanks Rick.

      • WHB

        "The other interpretation consistent with the evidence which led Einstein
        to Relativity- the unthinkable interpretation- happens to be the
        ancient cosmology which places Earth at the center of a rotating cosmos."

        Isn't this exactly what Ernst Mach proposed? There is no reason why the frame of reference could not be centered on the earth. I am not mathematician enough to go through this so one of you physicists need to verify this.

        • "Isn't this exactly what Ernst Mach proposed?"

          >> Exactly. And from Mach we arrive at Einstein and Relativity.

          "There is no reason why the frame of reference could not be centered on the earth."

          >> In fact, if it could not be, then Relativity would be falsified by that very demonstration.

          "I am not mathematician enough to go through this so one of you physicists need to verify this."

          >> Recently published in the European Journal of Physics (January 2013):

          http://arxiv.org/pdf/1301.6045.pdf

          All the math is there.

          Relevant excerpt:

          "According to Mach’s principle, the Earth could be considered as the “pivot point” of the Universe: the fact that the Universe is orbiting around the Earth will create the exact same forces that we usually ascribe to the motion of the
          Earth."

          This has been well established physics for over one hundred years, but is still able to stun the modern mind into speechless- or sputtering- incredulity.

        • josh

          You can center your frame of reference anywhere, that's the point of relativity. There is no absolute frame. The earth and other astronomical objects are in motion with respect to each other. They move in each others' rest frames.

    • Oh, I remember that article. I agree with you, when doing physics, do physics. But he also makes the point I'm making too: He does it in the greater context of his faith, in the theology of creation. Especially in theoretical physics, I don't think there's any reason that religion would confine the exploration of mathematical models that explain appearances.

      I know Rick won't agree with me, but before I duck to avoid the paper wads he's about to throw my way, let me just say that so much of physics is already mathematical models that explain appearances and defy comprehension. Scientists need the models to keep furthering the field.

      This is why I've been so interested in trying to understand Sir Pippard's essay, "The Invincible Ignorance of Science." He explains why they need those models, they are like scaffolding to help the imagination along. I more take the attitude that whatever it is, it is God's creation, so let's go see what we can figure out.

      http://www.thegreatideas.org/awq/pieb0801.pdf

      • Oh, I remember that article. I agree with you, when doing physics, do physics. But he also makes the point I'm making too: He does it in the greater context of his faith, in the theology of creation.

        I have no problem with this at all. If scientists believe God is the creator of the physical universe or the multiverse, and all of science is an exploration of God's creation, that's fine by me. They are still discovering the laws of nature, even if they believe God created the laws of nature. However, if Stephen Barr claimed that the universe was fine-tuned, that this was evidence that God created the universe for human beings, and that the idea of the multiverse was just an invention of atheistic scientists who want to explain away God's fine-tuning of the universe, he wouldn't be doing physics.

        He does, by the say, address that issue (the charge that the multiverse is an atheist invention) in the comments section of the thread I linked to.

    • The danger of mixing science and religion is, of course, that if you believe religion has given you an answer...

      I don't agree with you here. I see no danger. Think of the hierarchy in other areas. Physicists study quantum mechanics, but q.m. have only so much to do with what the chemist does. The chemist knows helium atoms exist, and he needs to verify that their properties agree with the rules of q.m. The chemist in turn tells the physicist that two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms form a V-shaped molecule, and the physicist seeks to persuade himself and the chemist that this arrangement is in accord with quantum laws.

      In other words, they need to reconcile their finding, not because they are constrained by dangerous insanities, but because when the bigger picture fits, they are more certain they are on the right path.

      In a right relationship, Divine revelation guides science, and science can help to understand revelation better. If they are ever doing each other harm, something's not right.

      • In a right relationship . . .

        Well, this is they key issue. How do you know when the relationship is right? The theologians in Galileo's time thought religion was right and Galileo was wrong. Some people here believe that what Pius XII said necessarily rules out the currently accepted evolutionary theory of human origins and that theory must be rejected. Some people who believe the Bible is literally true will deny that the earth is billions (or even millions) of years old.

        I think, rightly understood, there should be no conflict between science and religion, including Catholicism. But my definition of "rightly understood" may be very different from yours. It seems to me that atheist scientists and Catholic scientists should have no trouble at all coming to the same scientific solutions. That is why I quoted Stephen Barr, who makes it clear that while he may personally believe God fine-tuned the universe, that's not a scientific explanation of why the universe is the way it is.

        Once you say, "The only explanation for why this is the case is that God made it that way," you cease looking for naturalistic explanations, which means you cease scientific investigation.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          One quibble over "The theologians in Galileo's time thought." *Some* theologians thought one thing and others thought another. There was not a monolithic view about Copernicus and Sacred Scripture.

          I think the ultimate solution to "rightly understood" will be found in the doctrine of realism. Science, history, philosophy, theology, and every other field of study have as their object "what is really the case" in their respective field and they use tools appropriate to their field.

          "God made it that way" is of course never an acceptable answer in science. It is not even an acceptable answer in theology. For example, while it is true to say that Baptism requires water because that is the way God made it, theologians want to see why water is fitting and find it in the ways water gives life, washes, and even drowns.

          • *Some* theologians thought one thing and others thought another. There was not a monolithic view about Copernicus and Sacred Scripture.

            I don't know for a fact, but it seems reasonable to assume there was not unanimity among theologians. However, the theologians that wielded the power were able to put Galileo under house arrest and get his books banned for the next 200 years.

            I doubt that there is unanimity of opinion among Catholic theologians today regarding just about anything. However, there is within the Church a structure in which certain theologians have extraordinary power and can discipline or even silence those who do not agree with them. It is, thankfully, rare in this day and age. And of course we have seen theologians who have been silenced (e.g. John Courtney Murray) triumph in the long run.

          • In the long run, Mr. Nickols?

            The Catholic Church has a very developed sense of the meaning of that phrase; one which is quite incomparable to any other continuously-operating institution of the human race.

          • In the long run, Mr. Nickols?

            Who is Mr. Nickols?

          • Apologies. Spelling corrected in Edit.

          • " Science, history, philosophy, theology, and every other field of study have as their object "what is really the case" in their respective field and they use tools appropriate to their field."

            >> Quite true. Galileo's error was to assume that the tools appropriate to experimental science had been shown to be adequate to the task of falsifying Catholic dogma concerning the inerrancy of, and correct interpretation of, Scripture.

            St. Bellarmine refused to bite.

            The war was on.

            The Church surrendered as a matter of practical application of Her condemnations- but did not reverse Herself- in 1822, when She removed Copernicus from the Index.

            If She had held on just another 73 years, She would have found Herself completely vindicated in all of Her objections, by Albert Einstein himself.

        • Exactly, we are always striving for the right relationship, but that doesn't mean we've got it yet.

          It's such a big issue, the Galileo Affair, volumes exist. But it really wasn't religion is right, science is wrong. The conflict started between philosophers (who were very esteemed then) and a mathematician named Galileo that threatened them. The philosophers got the theologians involved.

          Some theologians were fine with Galileo exploring the question. Copernicus had already done so, as a mathematician, describing models to "save appearances" (like physicists do now). When Galileo decided to stop treating his theory like a mathematical model and instead started proposing it as *if it were true* the problems intensified.

          The Church said, "Hold on! We need proof before we reinterpret scripture!" That's reasonable. They needed proof. Galileo had none. It's a myth that the whole thing was over science vs. religion, and that the Church is an enemy of science. There were anti-clerics who propagated those myths after Galileo died.

          Shutting up now. Like I said, volumes written... I've read original sources though. The whole thing was a fiasco.

          • But it really wasn't religion is right, science is wrong.

            While I am sure you don't want to rehash the whole thing here, and I don't either, nevertheless it is true that the Vatican banned all books dealing with heliocentrism from 1664 to 1757, and it wasn't until 1835 that Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems was removed from the Index. It is very difficult to deny that this was an official act of the Catholic Church itself.

          • Martin Snigg

            There's really no excuse these days to repeat hoary myths about Galileo: science v religion. Hopefully this will be the last we hear about it in here . http://m-francis.livejournal.com/179415.html and 'reading history backwards' can be put to sleep.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      As a physicist, I think Stephen Barr would say that his job is to "do
      physics." He may personally believe in "divine fine-tuning," but that
      is not physics.

      Agreed. One way science and (natural) theology can overlap is when scientific evidence is used in philosophical arguments for the existence of God. I think Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., does this quite effectively in his "New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of contemporary physics and philosophy."

      • WHB

        Here, here, Kevin. Spitzer's book, esspecially the first part about the incredible fine-tuning of the parameters of this universe God created is very hard to ignore. I have yet to hear one non-believer deal effectively with that presentation of scientific information. Maybe someone here will take up the challenge?

        • It's on my Kindle. Someone else mentioned how important the first part is. I've got to read it. Thank you.

        • epeeist

          I have yet to hear one non-believer deal effectively with that presentation of scientific information.

          You might try this paper as a starter. The authors are a bio-physicist and a cosmologist.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Is this a draft of a paper that is being submitted for peer review?

          • It most certainly is not, Kevin. The paper is not intended for scientific publication, nor could it possibly receivepeer-reviewed publication in a scientific journal in its present form.

            If anyone finds a single one of the arguments compelling, I would be delighted to hear about it.

          • epeeist

            Is this a draft of a paper that is being submitted for peer review?

            No, it is meant to be a discussion at the popular level.

          • Randy Gritter

            They don't seem to understand fine tuning. The point is not that we have the best possible universe for life. We can always imagine God making a better world than He did. God's ways are higher than ours. Rather it is the falsifiability of the randomness hypothesis. Is there any point where asserting randomness becomes untenable? You can always say the works of Shakespeare were done by enough monkeys typing randomly. String theory just imagines more monkeys. You can always do that. Is that always the rational thing to do?

          • epeeist

            They don't seem to understand fine tuning.

            Given that one of them is actually a cosmologist I find this unlikely. Could I ask what your background is?

          • And here we have a museum-quality specimen of the argumentum ad verecundam.

          • I am searching the paper for an argument.

            There does not appear to be one, at least in the first eight pages or so.

            Shall I slog further, or would you be good enough to extract from the paper an argument to be examined here?

  • clod

    Am unable to comment as drooling copiously in consideration of the sea bass in a pepper and vermouth sauce.

  • WHB

    Gravitational lensing is the same as any other scientific tool--it tells you the "How it works" but never reveals "Why it is that way?" Who made black holes? I can't get there without a Transcendental God Who created all, even black holes.

    • I can't get there without a Transcendental God Who created all, even black holes.

      And dark matter.

    • primenumbers

      "Why it is that way?" Who made black holes?" - as you say, it makes it plainly clear that such a "why" question implies there's an agent who can give their reason why. If there's no agent, the "why" question ceases to have real meaning and should not be asked. If you want the answer to "why" either accept it's a daft question, or find the agent (if there is one) and ask them.

      • WHB

        I know the Agent. Don't you?

        • primenumbers

          I know of no such agent. I presume by the capitalization of Agent you think the agent in question is your God? Please tell me by what means you can determine that the agent in question is your God not a lesser deity?

      • Martin Snigg

        Science is about causes, it's anti-rational to follow a causal series using why questions and then stop arbitrarily because of a prior metaphysical commitment. Atheism of the gaps I've heard it called.

        • Thank you Martin!

        • primenumbers

          No, what is irrational is to invent causes and especially mysterious causal agents. The not asking of "why" questions is only in the case of causal agents that are not evidenced. Science has no arbitrary stopping borders, it just follows the evidence where it leads. What of course you're doing is pre-supposing a God and engaging in circular reasoning, which is hardly a rational way to proceed.

          • primenumbers

            So the argument is "I can't understand photons, therefore God exists"?

            If you don't have evidence for God, how do you know he exists?

          • Martin Snigg

            No. We're talking about the tendency of atheists when pushed to the limits of matter/energy explanation to stop and exclaim "brute fact" or "that question is meaningless". We all have a curiousity about material things and the cause of their becoming what they are - we share the working principles of causality and non-contradition - but mysteriously this tends to stop under atheistic naturalism[sic] when those principles reveal causes that threaten the belief that matter and energy are necessary beings, self created and account for their own existence. To put it bluntly things exist, following their underlying ratio to their limit and then exclaiming 'there is no ratio" is mysterianism.

          • TristanVick

            Quantum vacuum.
            Higgs field.
            Matter
            Energy.

            God is not a necessary hypothesis.

            Any questions?

          • Martin Snigg

            Yes Tristan I do. Why would you simply restate the issue? If my meaning wasn't clear then you probably can't go past Fr Copelston and Bertrand Russell as they lay it out. 18min. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXPdpEJk78E

          • TristanVick

            I do not believe I restated the issue.

            But perhaps I can clarify what I meant.

            The quantum vacuum energy explains, strangley, why we have energy.

            The higgs field, with the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, shows how particles interact with this field, via the Higgs mechanism and thereby give rise to mass.

            Mass, along with gravity, in a fluctuating energy field is what allows for matter to be created.

            All this out of a zero-point energy of quantum vacuum (although other possible ground states are possible--the average being the expectation value, which comes out to zero).

            Although I'm not a physicist, and therefore you should not take my word at face value without double checking me first, I do think what I have relayed is thus accurate.

            So my point was: Where then is the necessity to posit a supernatural Creator?

            I think you alluded to contingency and necessary being as a way to posit an explanation for the first cause. But this premise is faulty for the very fact that our causal perceptions can only be taken back as far as the singularity of the Big Bang. At which point, causality ceases to have any meaning.

            So, at this point, positing a "Causal being" in order to support the assumption that there must have been something to "cause" the universe, thereby derive a necessary being is incorrect reasoning.

            You cannot get a necessary being from the argument from first cause, because our modern understanding of physics has shown how causes have no meaning past the singularity, since we do not know whether there existed any casual properties prior to the singularity.

            It is possible, but not known.

            Missing information, by the way, does not entail: God did it.

            All it means is we do not have a reason for the cause of the singularity.

            But as Bertrand Russell explained well enough in the debate, physicists don't necessarily assume there will be a "cause."

            This rings even more true given the weird properties of quantum field theory. In other words, the question does not presuppose God, and the evidence certainly doesn't support that proposition.

            I am sure if Russell had our contemporary understanding of physics, he would have simply stated "Casimir effect," or the fact that we have measured the empty space inside the nucleus of a proton, or the fact that physicists have demonstrated how bouncing virtual protons can spontaneously give rise to actual protons, and thereby created light from nothingness.

            The *reason for these strange effects is to be answered in the realm of physics where they take place. I do not see how an application of a priori metaphysical assumptions would in anyway add to our knowledge of simple physical observations.

            And like Russell, I do not presuppose all observed causal interaction with come with tidy explanations for such causes. Sometimes, as with the case of quantum mechanics, it seems that such things like the quantum vacuum just are.

            Although that still remains to be seen. All I am pointing out is that there is not reason to posit a metaphysics in place of actual physics simply because you do not find an answer or a cause merely because you expected to.

            Our expectations are often proved wrong. Our mistaken assumptions must be amendable to the evidence. There remains no demonstrable evidence for God.

          • epeeist

            God is not a necessary hypothesis.

            I get the feeling that a number of the Catholics here don't get the idea of "necessity". Take the theory of evolution, which some posters don't accept at all. It removes the necessity for a god in the production of the biosphere.

            Does it show that gods do not exist? No it does not, but it does mean that if you want to insert gods into the theory of evolution then you have to demonstrate why the theory requires it and what it adds to the explanatory power of the theory. One cannot simply assert that it is necessary based upon authority.

          • TristanVick

            I agree.

            But I think many theologians talk about 'necessary' from a philosophical standpoint, and this is usually derived via logical syllogisms.

            But just because something is logically coherent doesn't mean it is necessarily true, as even correct logic can yield false results in certain instances.

            Goodman's paradox, Nicod's criterion, and Hempel's paradox all demonstrate instances when correct logic should yield answers but cannot, thereby demonstrating how logic is not always entirely reliable (in every instance).

            I think Goodman's paradox points out the reason for the limitations of logic quite nicely. Logic can only work if--and only if--the universe is statistically uniform, and therefore mathematically, uniform. It is not. Therefore, given certain conditions, logic fails and paradoxes arise.

          • God can be known by natural reason. That doesn't mean everyone will choose to know. Not all people seek God though. Some turn away intentionally.

            Careful about tossing out our ability to reason soundly. If you do that, ultimately, everything we know can be said to be an illusion, including your own ability to reason.

          • epeeist

            Careful about tossing out our ability to reason soundly.

            Nobody is doing that, what is being said is that it is a lot harder than you think.

          • TristanVick

            Stacy, that is an assertion.

            Can you demonstrate it?

          • "Stacy, that is an assertion."

            Tristan, that is an assertion. Can you demonstrate it?

            See how that works? I've been in a lot of these discussions and I'm happy to discuss how God can be known by reason if someone really wants to know. If it's going to amount to "Nuh-uh, prove it!" I've learned that it is a waste of time. There's a discussion at this site about who has the burden of proof in these discussions. My answer to that is -- yourself. If you want to know/learn/understand something, you have to seek it and try. If you don't, I can't hold your eyes open and make you see. I respect your free will, but I also respect how I use my time.

            At this point I've concluded there are two kinds of people: Those who believe truth exists and seek it, and those who are still asking whether truth exists or not. If you're in the first group, we can discuss. If you're in the last group, you've got to figure that out for yourself first.

          • TristanVick

            Yes, I often run into this insecurity as well. To make an unverifiable claim and then complain when someone asks it to be verified as a way to show that you've made an unverifiable claim.

            I am curious as to why you consider yourself a theist seing as, unfalsifiable propositions which cannot be verified force one to begin from a position of agnosticism, especially when certainty can so easily be dismissed as a matter of conviction, not knowing.

            Indeed, the very nature of something which cannot be verified or falsified is that you cannot know either way as to whether or not it constitutes a truth.

            In the end, the best you could say is, "I simply do not know."

            Do I know that a God does *not exist? No. Do I know one does exist. No, I do not.

            I am agnostic on this front.

            Do I think the Christian God exists? Here is where I can defend the assertion that, no, no the Christian God does not exist.

            That is a defensible claim. Based on evidence from multiple areas such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, science, and philosophy. The atheistic argument is far stronger on almost every front than the theistic one, and this is also a defensible claim.

            Of course, I can't hold your eyes open to see the truth in it any more you could me. Besides, it is not for me to decide your truths for you.

            All I can ask of you is that you might consult with the evidence, and be honest in your evaluation of it.

            In which case, it is curious that you are not agnostic with respect to the God question, as I am.

            It seems, you skipped right over the truth seeking part and jumped straight to the conclusion you liked/wanted.

            I will wait to make any final verdict with respect to the question, and will gladly change my mind if the evidence warrants such a consideration, but until then the burden of proof is on the person making a positive claim.

            There is no reason for me to prove a negative. If there was compelling evidence, I would most likely recognize it and reconsider my position. But I am atheist precisely because there is no compelling evidence.

            Sadly, I have to waste my all too precious time reminding theists of this fact far more than I'd like.

            And if you just run around the challenge, as it seems to me you are doing here, then it's clear you do not care about the truth--as you aren't willing to defend it--just hold it--regardless of whether or not it is genuine.

            Well, if it doesn't bother you that you might be holding to unfounded truths, more power to you.

            I like to test my truths against the evidence, against experience, and see whether or not it is viable. But that's just my preference.

          • It sounds like you just said you're in the last camp. You don't know if truth exists or not. Is that correct?

            As far as evidence goes, I have empirical evidence, but like any other evidence, you have to be willing to see it.

            I don't accept the burden of proof for you. That's your work to do. You first have to decide whether truth exists. If it doesn't, then there's no point in trying to prove anything, is there?

          • TristanVick

            It probably sounds like I am in the second camp because you are restricting your definition of truth too narrowly.

            I take the view that there is truth, but that truth is mundane.

            There is no such thing as an absolute truth. There are only varieties of truths.

            Objective truth, subjective truth, and universal truths.

            Let me give you one example of why truth is mundane.

            Blue is a color, is a universal truth.
            I like blue, is a subjective truth.
            Not everyone will like blue, is an objective truth.

            This is the nature of how truth functions.

            Nobody has ever provided any other working definition of truth, contrary to those who spout the metaphysical proposition that there is an absolute truth.

            That, as I mentioned above, is only an assertion.

            But truth exists. So I am always open and willing to learn new truths. But not from those who merely *pretend to have the truth and dodge the questions of why they hold the truths they do by deflecting the question.

            Again, I would be interested to know why you profess theism over agnosticism.

            What compels you to believe your truth, if not evidence?

          • "There is no such thing as an absolute truth."

            Then there is no such thing as truth.

            I can't help it if you think I'm dodging. Call it experience. Been there, done that. I've learned that unless someone acknowledges that truth exists, can be searched for, and known, it's useless to try to prove anything. Anything I say can be dismissed as, "Well that's just your truth."

            And we're stuck there. Sorry.

          • TristanVick

            Wow. Really?

            I just stated I believe in truth, and then you assume I hold there is no such thing as truth?

            Do you realize, that you are putting words into my mouth?

            An absolute truth, is a metaphysical proposition. What I am saying that there is no such thing as 'absolute' truth because no such truth has yet been formally demonstrated and is highly unlikely given what we know about the properties of truth claims.

            Meanwhile, we have a working definition of truth, which as I demonstrated, is mundane. Perhaps no less important, but mundane none the less.

            Were stuck, because you will only accept YOUR own definition of truth and no others. As I stated, that is your limitation, not mine.

          • You are almost getting to Kantian philosophy in the inability to know the thing-in-itself (ding an sich). It seems odd that there would, for example, be an absolute truth of the colour of that flower, since it depends on your sensory mechanisms and subjective experience. No one can access its true colour because it does not have one. Perhaps, then, it has true properties which can only be subjectively interpreted. But where does that leave truth?

          • Perhaps it means that truth lies beyond the sensory experience of flower color? If we are going to search for truth, and you're still stuck at "What color is this flower?" then I recommend Dora the Explorer. She deals with those questions quite brilliantly.

            *Edit: In two different languages even!

          • Are you equating Kantian philosophy with Dora the Explorer? That's a little presumptuous. Look, I presume you take some kind of Correspondence Theory of truth as being representative of reality. However, the problem is in defining any kind of absolute truth of that reality which takes into account the fact that I interpret a red flag differently to a bat, a bull and an ant.

          • I don't speak in terms of Correspondence Theory, no. It seems needless to do that. I guess you could call me more a realist than an idealist or skeptic.

            I think with the Church, with St. Thomas, somewhat with Aristotle. God is Truth. I believe that if I see a flower, it is real. If you forever question whether you can sense and reason reality, you'll be stuck there. Some of us choose to move on.

          • epeeist

            think with the Church, with St. Thomas, somewhat with Aristotle

            But Aristotle was the first person (as far as I am aware) to formulate a theory of truth that looks very much like the correspondence theory:

            To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.

          • And CT can mean a whole lot of things that Aristotle never meant. If reality and truth are the same, you don't call that a theory as if someone else may come up with a better idea. You just call it.

          • epeeist

            If reality and truth are the same, you don't call that a theory as if someone else may come up with a better idea.

            There are a variety of different theories of truth, see this article for details. Most philosophers seem to either follow the correspondence or deflationary theories.

          • Ah yes, but I look at it like Chesterton, the "Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy."

            This is the thrilling romance of Orthodoxy. People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic.

            The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so as exactly to avoid enormous obstacles. She left on one hand the huge bulk of Arianism, buttressed by all the worldly powers to make Christianity too worldly. The next instant she was swerving to avoid an orientalism, which would have made it too unworldly.

            The orthodox Church never took the tame course or accepted the conventions; the orthodox Church was never respectable. It would have been easier to have accepted the earthly power of the Arians. It would have been easy, in the Calvinistic seventeenth century, to fall into the bottomless pit of predestination. It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob.

            To have fallen into any of those open traps of error and exaggeration which fashion after fashion and sect after sect set along the historic path of Christendom— that would indeed have been simple. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of the fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

          • epeeist

            Ah yes, but I look at it like Chesterton, the "Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy."

            I am trying, with no success, to determine what this has to do with theories of truth. It all seems, to use a phrase of Tom Lehrer's in respect of Gilbert and Sullivan, to be "full of words and music, and signifying nothing".

          • severalspeciesof

            I think she's trying to say that she sees the theory of truth through the orthodoxy of the church, which, BTW, is tautologically(?) tight...

          • epeeist

            I think she's trying to say that she sees the theory of truth through the orthodoxy of the church, which, BTW, is tautologically(?) tight...

            You mean she only accepts as true what the church says is true? Sorry, must be in Winnie the Pooh mode at the moment.

          • severalspeciesof

            I'll let her respond, as I shouldn't have tried to read her mind... as it is true that I do not know what her 'truth' really is...

            Ahh, the slipperiness of language: "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" ;-)

            (Not sure why that thought popped into my mind, but there you go...)

            Glen

          • I see God as Truth, and the Church the guardian of it. It may seem like a foreign idea to you, but it isn't to me. When I was studying science, I accepted what my professors taught me as true because they are the authorities. I thought with them, not against them because I trusted them to know more than I did. I wanted to learn. I'd have never gotten anywhere if the profs has said, "Make up your own truth, see ya." :-)

          • epeeist

            When I was studying science, I accepted what my professors taught me as true because they are the authorities.

            Do you know the motto of the Royal Society?

            I'd have never gotten anywhere if the profs has said, "Make up your own truth, see ya." :-)

            To use a tongue-in-cheek phrase I have used elsewhere, a statement that has enough straw to contain an infinite number of Edward Woodwards.

            Do you really think that there are only two positions, that of authority or "anything goes"?

          • severalspeciesof

            Thanks for the clarification. But I am curious, has anyone here said that science should be 'Make up your own truth'?

            Glen

          • I'd have never gotten anywhere if the profs has said, "Make up your own truth, see ya."

            Your profs would never have gotten to be your profs, in science, if they taught students that way. You have to go to the postmodernist or theology dept. for that. Science tests against empirical evidence. If the test does not work the theory must change, not the other way around, which seem to be the case when you write:

            I see God as Truth, and the Church the guardian of it.

            In science, the conclusion is the last step, not the first.

          • Susan

            Beautiful post, Q. Quine.

          • Thank you, Susan.

          • Quite to the contrary.

            Take a nice internship at Hell's Creek, Montana.

            Find a dinosaur bone in a Cretaceous layer.

            Take it to the lab.

            Open it up.

            Notice blood cells, soft tissue, collagen.

            Call your prof.

            Have him look through the microscope.

            Notice how he frowns.

            "What do you think they are?", asks prof.

            "Looks like blood cells and soft tissue to me", replies intern.

            "So prove to me that they aren't", says prof.

            True story.

            The intern was Mary Schweitzer.

            The prof was Jack Horner.

            The story is told in "Blood From Stone", in a 2011 issue of Scientific American.

            Evolution is not a scientific research program.

            As Karl Popper had it right the first time, evolution is a metaphysical research program.

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Max Driffill

            The more I hear of Chesterton, the less impressed I become. Sometimes witty, I suppose. But deep and insightful, not so much. His notion that the Church was never respectable, is so preposterous, it caused me to laugh out loud. But it fits with the rest of his overheated prose I suppose.

            I imagine its easy to forget that orthodoxy has more or less had all the political power since its wagon was hitched to the state. How hard can it be really to quash your intellectual rivals when you have the ear of state power?

            Not very.Just ask these people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_burned_as_heretics

          • Here Max, you might find this helpful.

          • Max Driffill

            There was a great line in the comments about Chesterton being merely clever and not often profound. It think that characterizes the quoted passage above. A clever writer, but not a clever philosopher or apologist. I"m sure if one were a Christian his musings would seem excellent. But to an outsider his musings look unexamined, and shallow.

          • As you hint, Tristan, a Bayesian analysis would show that the prior probability of Christianity being true (at the exclusion of all other religions) is entirely minimal given every truth claim of every sect and religion and cult in the history of man. As Loftus really well point out in his OTF book, the probabilities are stacked against Christianity. The high level of evidence to overcome this with a very very high consequent probability is simply not there.

          • You have committed a serious misapplication of method, Jonathan. More tomorrow. Until then I hope you can demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and defend it. Christianity being true is not a Bayesian construct.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Christianity being true is not a Bayesian construct.

            But it can be applied to miraculous assertions, whether Christian or otherwise.

            http://astore.amazon.com/supportcarrier-20/detail/1616145595

            http://www.richardcarrier.info/bayescalculator.html

          • Oh good Lord! <---That's a prayer. Is this where you both are getting the word Bayesian? Richard Carrier may be a historian, but I doubt that any serious journals of Bayesian statistical theory have published a word he's written.

            Is your premise that you can apply Bayesian probability to every single question? I'm interested to know how you get there.

            Bayes' Theorem asks if what's happened recently is likely to happen later. It is predictive, and within limits. There was a time when BT would have also concluded that since people report seeing a flat earth, we don't expect to see a round earth. It's not a tool for determining truth statements. It's a tool for predictive modeling, based on past observances, and like any model, its conclusions depend on the quality of the probability input.

            It's used in the insurance and financial industries to assess risks, in health and science data modeling to predict outcomes, in weather predictions (What is the probability, based on past events, that a hurricane is likely to hit point X?). But, like I said, Christianity being true is not -- I repeat not -- a Bayesian construct. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a single event. To say, "Oh, it was a single event, therefore it did not happen!" is to reveal a profound ignorance of both Christianity and the purpose of statistical analysis.

          • Andrew G.

            To say that Bayesian probability can't tell you about single events is to reveal a profound ignorance of probability. In fact the ability to talk in a meaningful way about the epistemic probability of events which have occurred only once or have never occurred is rather fundamentally useful. (You yourself mentioned insurance: how does one set a premium for insurance against something that hasn't happened? An insurance company that approaches this problem other than in a Bayesian fashion will almost certainly go broke.)

            Is your premise that you can apply Bayesian probability to every single question? I'm interested to know how you get there.

            There is certainly a reasonable argument that Bayesian probability is the only consistent quantitative way to talk about degrees of belief in some hypothesis, and is therefore applicable to any question outside formal logic. Its application to history is relatively new but by no means limited to Carrier's work.

          • I have Carrier's Proving History but have not read it yet, so this may be a stupid question, but alleged historical occurrences either happened or they didn't. And of course the improbable happens all the time. So how can calculating the probability that something happened tell you whether it did or didn't happen, even if you can do a meaningful calculation?

            Not infrequently, someone who has won a state lottery, with the odds being millions to one, wins it a second time, with the odds against that happening being dramatically higher. Of course, we know that statistically, it's pretty much a sure thing that some people will be multiple winners. But certainly the fact that those particular people would win twice or more is highly improbable. And yet it happens.

          • "So how can calculating the probability that something happened tell you whether it did or didn't happen, even if you can do a meaningful calculation?"

            Bingo. It can't. That's my point.

            Bayes' Theorem would apply to history insofar as you studied past events, and used the conditions surrounding them to predict the probability of the events happening again under a variety of those same conditions.

            It isn't used to prove whether a single event ever occurred or not. It's predictive, not explanatory.

          • Andrew G.

            Well, "the improbable happens all the time" is not really true. One person winning a lottery isn't improbable because somebody (on average) wins every week. Even a second win isn't all that improbable when you consider the number of players, the number of times each one enters, and so on.

            Saying that it's improbable that this person won the lottery is missing the point - unless you have some prior reason to highlight that specific person. When a Bayesian analyzes a lottery, he has to divide his prior probability for the chance that the lottery was rigged by the number of players equally, unless he already has a reason to single someone out, and then when updating after the result is known, the posterior probability of rigging is generally close to the prior.

            Genuinely improbable things do happen - but not very often. Being hit by a falling meteorite for example - there are not many documented cases of that. But, of course, that's exactly where we start to require careful attention to evidence.

            And the purpose of applying Bayes' theorem is specifically to analyze the question of how much evidence do we need, and how confident can we be of our conclusions once we have it.

          • Thanks for the detailed reply. I hope to get around to reading more about this. But I am very skeptical, and from what I know (which is admittedly very little), this approach to evaluating historical knowledge is very new and not widely accepted, although I am spending a lot of time recently reading about relativity and quantum theory, and of course there was a time when they were very new and not widely accepted.

          • josh

            "So how can calculating the probability that something happened tell you
            whether it did or didn't happen, even if you can do a meaningful
            calculation?" If it's a good calculation then the probability that something happened or not tells you how reasonable it is to believe that such a thing happened or not. We do this in physics: you calculate some probabilities that you would see a given signal, say for the Higgs searches, if the Higgs theory is correct and for a theory without the Higgs. If the Higgs theory gives a reasonable probability of accounting for the data and a Higgs-less one doesn't then it is unreasonable to believe the Higgs-less theory.

            In the lottery example you are comparing two different things. The probability that you predict a specific person will win the lottery is extremely low. The probability that you observe someone winning the lottery is basically 1.

          • If an event happened only once, BA cannot tell you whether it is true or not. You don't need an equation to tell you that if you never saw anyone rise from the dead, you wouldn't expect that to happen in the future.

            Insurance premiums are not based on things that have never happened. They deal with probabilities of future events happening based on past behaviors of groups of people. Statistics don't deal with individuals; they deal with populations.

          • "Its application to history is relatively new but by no means limited to Carrier's work."

            Do you have a link? I'd like to see that.

          • josh

            "Bayes' Theorem asks if what's happened recently is likely to happen later."

            This is badly incorrect. Bayes Theorem is just a simple consequence of a consistent treatment of probability. It is used to update estimates of probability based on new evidence. Therefore it can be used as a model of inductive reasoning.

            The purported life of Christ is actually a long string of events. No one, I mean NO ONE argues that because it is a particular event that it didn't happen. But we can argue probabalistically if it was likely to have happened as per Christian myth based on the available evidence of if other explanations are a better fit to the data. That's what some people use the Bayesian framework to do.

          • You say I'm incorrect and then say the same thing in the first paragraph. Why?

            "But we can argue probabalistically if it was likely to have happened as per Christian myth based on the available evidence of if other explanations are a better fit to the data."

            And that wouldn't mean anything. Christianity itself doesn't hold that there are a population of Christs. It holds that there is one. All it says is that Christ's life, death, and resurrection were radically different than any other man's life. Yeah, we know that.

          • josh

            "You say I'm incorrect and then say the same thing in the first paragraph. Why?"
            I'm not clear on what you are asking here. You misunderstood Bayes theorem. I explained in brief what it actually is. It doesn't have anything to do with 'happened recently' and it isn't only used for predictions.

            Christianity holds that Jesus ate, breathed and walked around Jerusalem talking to his contemporaries before dying in a common manner and being buried in the normal way. (Well, the Gospel authors got some details wrong but that is the claim anyhow.) Jesus allegedly performed various miracles and taught wisdom, just as many other religious icons are alleged to do around the world. The question isn't what Christian's hold to be true but what they or anyone are justified in believing. Here's a hint: assuming your conclusion isn't justification.

          • You don't need to explain Bayes' Theorem to me.

            I'm not interested in arguing about the truth of Christianity with someone who already hates it. I'll pray for you. I'm interested right now in correcting this misapplication of method.

            For the third time, has any industry journal for Bayesian statistical theory published Carrier's work?

          • josh

            Evidently you do need it explained since you got it wrong. It's okay, just back up and say 'I made a mistake in what I wrote'. If you aren't willing to defend your beliefs or consider that they may be wrong, I think you've misunderstood the point of this website. I haven't said anything about hating Christianity, only pointed out flaws in your 'reason'.

            And why are you asking me (for the first time) about Carrier? I don't know. As I understand, he's a historian; why would he publish in a statistics industry journal? He's arguing for an application of statistics/probability in his field, not claiming any new analysis in a mathematical sense. If you want to take up his particular arguments about Jesus you can go read up on them, but right now you seem hung up on the notion that we actually can analyze historical claims based on evidence.

          • I did check out his claims, and I responded to Jonathan's.

            I'm not arguing about the religious beliefs. I'm arguing about the math. He's wrong. Anyone can feed the theorem probabilities and crank out a number, but it's obvious common sense that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is not statistically likely based on prior events.

            My husband is a recognized expert in the field of applied analytics. I'm telling you that this is a misapplication of method,

          • Andrew G.

            but it's obvious common sense that the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is not statistically likely based on prior events.

            So it has a low prior. The real question is, what's the posterior probability based on the available evidence?

          • There's only one Christ. You do the math.

            (Hint: You don't need a big fancy equation.)

            To get into what various people did is a matter of historical interpretation. If Carrier is really so confident in his evidence, he doesn't need to hide behind a misapplication of mathematics as if that somehow gives his research credit.

            But since he did... I don't know, go ask him? It's revealing that no atheists have challenged him on that. It took me all of 5 seconds to dismiss the Christian Bayesian argument.

          • Andrew G.

            I don't regard someone who doesn't understand thirds (or who mistakes a popular non-mathematician's misunderstanding as being a genuine mathematical controversy) to be in any position to pontificate about what is or is not a misapplication of mathematics.

            Carrier has not yet published the actual analysis of evidence (that's due out this year). Proving History is a book specifically on method, written as groundwork for the project he was actually commissioned to do.

          • Who commissioned him?

            I understand thirds. One exact third is not expressible as a final decimal point.

          • Andrew G.

            He was commissioned by a group of donors, some of whom are acknowledged in the book.

            I understand thirds. One exact third is not expressible as a final decimal point.

            And how, exactly, does this constitute a controversy? In fact, what mathematician would care?

          • Can you get me a list of the donors? Or point me to a link?

            I'll ask again. If his historical evidence is so compelling, why hide behind a statistical method that doesn't apply and that you don't need? The evidence should be able to stand on its own -- which is why I keep saying the Bayesian analysis to this question is a misapplication of method. This is not what Bayesian statistics are used for.

            My point was that you can, in practice, cut a pie into thirds, but theoretically never put it back together again.

          • Andrew G.

            It's in the preface of the book, which I have only in dead-tree form.

            Who said the historical evidence was "so compelling"? Carrier certainly has not. The problem in this case is that both the religious believers, and the lunatic-fringe mythicists (who Carrier argues against frequently), are massively overstating their cases, and the only way to move the debate forward is to find some acceptable methodology. The existing methods used in Jesus studies (criteria of embarrassment and so on) are acknowledged as inadequate even within the field (see for example Keith and Le Donne's recent book), and the standards of NT historical scholarship are not at all up to the standards of modern secular history. By applying the best available method for assessing all the available evidence (not just arguing one side), it should be possible to, at least, shed some light on the dispute.

            Of course the chances of most believing Christians paying any attention to any argument that goes against them is slim - just look at how often the claim that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts is made here, despite its rejection by the vast majority of scholars.

            As for "what Bayesian statistics are used for", there is no theoretical reason whatsoever not to use them for assessment of historical evidence and every reason to do so, if only to validate or reject other standards of evidence.

            My point was that you can, in practice, cut a pie into thirds, but theoretically never put it back together again.

            Now that's just nonsense.

          • "The real question is, what's the posterior probability based on the available evidence?

            >> Quite high, I should say, given the subsequent fulfillment of highly improbable prior prophecies, and the universal spread of His Church so as to bring into being that thing which we call "modern civilization".

            How do you quantify those?

          • Bing --- o!

          • josh

            So is it quite high or unquantifiable? I wish the Catholics would be consistent.

          • You tell me, Josh.

            I would never propose to apply Bayesian probability to the question in the first place.

            It is an interesting chance to examine how atheists might attempt to do so.

            So- I ask you.

            Is it quite high, or unquantifiable?

            If unquantifiable, then it would seem the question is not susceptible of Bayesian analysis in the first place, which was Stacy's point, right?

          • josh

            So you withdraw your answers. Smart move, the correct answer is 'low, because there are other explanations which account for the current state of the Catholic Church and other predictions which would follow from it's divine origin have been disconfirmed.' What kind of probability would you like to apply, incidentally?

          • "the correct answer is 'low, because there are other explanations which account for the current state of the Catholic Church"

            >> Which ones? How are they assessed to be more likely than the historical records of eyewitness testimony themselves?

            "and other predictions which would follow from it's divine origin have been disconfirmed"

            >> Which ones? And how do you quantify the ones you implicitly acknowledge to have been confirmed?

            "What kind of probability would you like to apply, incidentally?"

            >> Whichever you consider to be the most appropriate- how about evidential?

          • josh

            Since you don't seem to understand the theorem and haven't shown any errors in math, I'm not going to concede the argument based on your husbands alleged credentials. As noted by Andrew, the question is if the evidence can raise your low prior probability. Carrier's schtick isn't to plug random numbers in and argue whether there is a 15 or 20 percent chance that Christ was the son of God. He argues that putting things in a Bayesian framework can help make clear exactly what kinds of evidence does and doesn't support your conclusion and what assumptions underlie them.

            If you want to dismiss this you need an actual argument and not a claim that you know someone who understands math.

            Ironically, there were many Christs, since the term just means "Anointed" and refers to a long tradition of Jewish stories about God's chosen champions/prophets and could be applied to a number of claimants to the messiah expectation running around 1st century Jerusalem.

            And, for the record, there are various atheists who disagree with Carrier on some of his conclusions, and some who don't think his fondness for Bayes in history is as important as he seems to think. But you have yet to make a valid criticism.

          • Can you link to an atheist who disagrees with Carrier's use of Bayes' Theorem? I'd be interested to read that. Thank you.

          • Ignorant Amos

            So you haven't read Carrier's argument for its application then?

            Therefore you get to define its scope of application?

            "When applied, the probabilities involved in Bayes' theorem may have any of a number of probability interpretations. In one of these interpretations, the theorem is used directly as part of a particular approach to statistical inference. In particular, with the Bayesian interpretation of probability, the theorem expresses how a subjective degree of belief should rationally change to account for evidence: this is Bayesian inference, which is fundamental to Bayesian statistics. However, Bayes' theorem has applications in a wide range of calculations involving probabilities, not just in Bayesian inference."

            A brief history...

            http://lesswrong.com/lw/774/a_history_of_bayes_theorem/

            But, like I said, Christianity being true is not -- I repeat not -- a Bayesian construct. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a single event.

            No, it was a number of events...they are all there in the gospels if you believe that sort of thing. Most certainly not all are true, even if you believe some may be. BT is not required to prove those that are not true.

            To say, "Oh, it was a single event, therefore it did not happen!" is to reveal a profound ignorance of both Christianity and the purpose of statistical analysis.

            The news is, there isn't one Christianity, get over it. You cannot prove your version anymore than the other 38,000+ can prove theirs.

            But since you insist, here are some Christians doing what you say can't be done.

            http://maxandrews.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/bayess-theorem-and-the-resurrection9.pdf

            The fact that they are using GIGO is not relevant to their use of the application.

          • And they commit the same error. That's not what Bayesian analysis is for. You will never hear me use probability theory to try to prove Christianity.

            Can you provide a single industry journal of Bayesian statistical theory that has published any of Carrier's work, or anyone like him? I'd like to see it.

          • "Therefore you get to define its scope of application?"

            I might know a little more about than you. I'm not defining its scope, I'm respecting it.

          • If you could successfully show how God can be known by reason, which by this I assume you mean prove, then you would win the Nobel and Templeton prizes. IT can't be done. This is why faith exists.

            And it IS an assertion. I think your claims are little disingenuous, with all due respect, since you ARE making an assertion, and then refusing to back it up and having a go at Tristan for not having open eyes and going to find that reason himself when he has quite plainly asked you for it.

          • Faith is a gift, you have to want it. I'm not interested in winning prizes, faith is enough. I've also learned the futility of trying to prove something to someone who has rejected it already, and still stomps his foot demanding the proof he knows he rejects.

          • epeeist

            But I think many theologians talk about 'necessary' from a philosophical standpoint, and this is usually derived via logical syllogisms.

            I have always assumed it to come from classical modal logic, and nobody has ever contradicted me.

            But just because something is logically coherent doesn't mean it is necessarily true

            As Betrand Russell noted when it comes to a coherence theory of truth, it is perfectly possible to generate a completely consistent fairy tale.

            Goodman's paradox, Nicod's criterion, and Hempel's paradox all demonstrate instances when correct logic should yield answers but cannot, thereby demonstrating how logic is not always entirely reliable (in every instance).

            Yes, all of these are quite fun to get your head around.

            Logic can only work if--and only if--the universe is statistically uniform, and therefore mathematically, uniform.

            I would state it another way, it can only work if your premisses are true, and for anything synthetic this is always problematic.

          • I've made this point several times. You are confusing creation with natural causes. That's where the word necessity comes in.

            Evolutionary theory doesn't "remove the necessity". That's the same error as a Creationist makes (sometimes) in saying that evolution shows God is necessary. It's the error Martin was talking about. If God of the Gaps doesn't work, then neither does Atheist of the Gaps.

            That's why I used the cooking analogy. Cooking a meal (natural changes) neither proves or disproves God. An atheist may just see the food, fine -- it doesn't make the food any less real. A believer would see the food though, and say grace to bless the meal before eating it because, in the greater context of her faith, she sees that meal as a gift from the Creator.

          • BenS

            Evolutionary theory doesn't "remove the necessity".

            I believe the full text 'remove the necessity for a god in the production of the biosphere'. If the biosphere can be shown to come about entirely through natural causes then a god is not a necessary part of that.

            If you want to insert a god in the process somewhere then you need to show where it goes - otherwise simply stating 'well, yes, evolution alone can account entirely for the diversity of the biosphere but god's in there somewhere, y'know' is just an empty assertion and adds nothing of value.

          • epeeist

            Exactly that. You have pre-empted the response I was going to make.

          • You are still not getting the difference between Creation and natural causes.

            When someone says grace before breakfast, does that mean she is inserting God in between the syrup and the pancake?

          • Good old reference to Laplace there!

          • epeeist

            We're talking about the tendency of atheists when pushed to the limits of matter/energy explanation to stop and exclaim "brute fact" or "that question is meaningless".

            So when we come to the limits of what we can currently explain what would you have use do? Say that we don't know, extrapolate from the things we currently know (however imperfectly) or simply insert an entity which effectively explains nothing and is designed to put an end to further exploration?

          • Martin Snigg

            Inserting in principle unobservable multiverses, that forever put an end to verification (checking against sense data) as a perfectly acceptable unprincipled exception to an atheism that militantly declaims competing philosophies to be 'irrational' and by a process of institutional self selection excluding these people from public life - is exactly what we should not do as a people.

            I have to say, the practical atheism that dominates politics and public life has all the qualities of an irrational fideism of say a Calvin's Geneva. It's a horrible experience. Nagel I think knows a little of what it is like with his heresy trial for 'Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Establishment gatekeepers feel terribly threatened.

            Take Dawkins Parmenidian monism, that Dr Trasancos linked to below, as a response to the intractable difficulties of reductive materialism. This was a question at the START of philosophy. It is a regression not progress. Without Aristotle's rebuttal of Parmenides and Heraclitus, and his radical commitment to the inescable reality of change - you don't get the traditions of the study of changeable being - natural science. And theism follows logically upon this commitment to the reality of change. Now to at once claim the livery of science and hold a philosophy that dissolves the ground under its feet is incoherent and ultimately deadly. Nagel is trying to show his colleagues why, he is trying to encourage them to not be cowed by institutional inertia.

          • epeeist

            Inserting in principle unobservable multiverses, that forever put an end to verification (checking against sense data), as a perfectly acceptable unprincipled exception to atheism and then deny it is doing it, is NOT what we should do.

            A long response which barely touches on the trilemma I raised.

            Can I rephrase the above?

            Inserting in principle unobservable deities, that forever put an end to verification

            Now if scientists are simply inserting ad hoc entities in order to rescue theories with the assumption that such entities would be treated as definitively existent then I would be with you, especially if these entities were in principle unobservable.

            But if you look at the literature you would see that the existence of multiverses is regarded as speculative, accepted as one way forward by some and rejected by others. While others do not accept that these entities are in principle causally disconnected from our universe and are actively looking for evidence for connections.

            Take Dawkins Parmenidian monism, that Dr Trasancos

            Ah, so "Dawkins" has no qualifications while those of Stacy Trasancos are obviously significant.

            Without Aristotle's rebuttal of Parmenides and Heraclitus

            This is so vague I am unsure what you are actually getting at. I tend to see Aristotle providing some sort of unification between the two rather than a complete rebuttal.

          • Don't be silly. It isn't one opinion vs. another. The Dawkins video just demonstrates the point that Martin was making. Dawkins does, in fact, say that the question of purpose is meaningless.

          • epeeist

            The Dawkins video just demonstrates the point that Martin was making.

            Given the appalling human factors of Disqus I can't actually see a video and I am not about to attempt to search for it.

            Dawkins does, in fact, say that the question of purpose is meaningless.

            Does he say this with reference to the universe, or to people?

          • Yeah, I couldn't find it either. Here it is again. At 12:30 they were discussing the "why" of people, but Dawkins ends at 13:30 by switching to the "why" of the universe.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX7tz78RVEI

          • epeeist

            but Dawkins ends at 13:30 by switching to the "why" of the universe.

            If the universe came into existence without the assistance of an entity (deity or otherwise) then I would agree, it is pointless to talk about its meaning or purpose.

            If you look at the universe it is essentially empty and incredibly simple. To credit a meaning or purpose to it, especially one that has smart apes at its centre is hubris, nothing more.

          • I have heard Richard Dawkins do exactly that. I have also heard prominent neuroscientists and brain-mind philosophers do that. I have videos if anyone wants me to link them for discussion.

          • BenS

            Please.

            [Edit: I'd prefer articles, though. Videos have a low information density and are time consuming. If you can state the time to skip to, though, that would help.]

          • Agree! I don't like being handed an hour long video to make a point. Here's the video I had in mind. It's from 12:30 - 13:30.

            [This one is Dawkins.]

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX7tz78RVEI

          • This one is the brain-mind folks - Mysterianism.

            http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4044190/events/2110194/videos/20156087

            Mysterianism at 1:17:00-1:20:00.

            I had already transcribed this part:

            -----
            I have a longing for materialism to be true. It would make things simpler if mental events are caused by brain events.

            Materialism is the most attractive view by the philosophy and the science of it. Intellectual honesty requires us to admit it’s not true, at least we don’t have any sentiment it could be true because it seems as if, as Christof thinks, experience is just “a different kind of thing” than the brain state and that’s the whole problem — it seems like a different kind of thing and yet if we accept the dualism that comes with that, we run into all sorts of problems. It’d be great if materialism were true, I’d love it if materialism were true.
            -----

            The moderator pressed, “So in the face of your dislike of materialism and your dislike of dualism, what’s mind to you?”
            -----

            That’s where my Mysterianism comes in. The idea is that, as I was saying in my remarks, I believe the mind and brain and mind are, objectively in nature harmoniously interwoven together. They are not, as they appear to us now, a dualistic separation where they are just travelling on separate tracks. There is a point of view from which they can be seen to be fully integrated and intelligibly so.

            We just don’t have that point of view. They way we think about the mind and the brain makes them seem as if they must be irreducibly distinct, but that can’t really be so for all different kinds of reasons. After all, the mind evolved from physical things, from evolution. It didn’t come from outside the universe, from some othermysterious … you know, from some other universe.

            So my position is that monism is true, it’s just that we don’t have the conception of monism that we can understand what makes it true, but really there has to be some kind of uniformity running through all of nature which fully integrates the mind with the body; it’s just that we don’t have that perspective on nature. Now I suspect, though I don’t have a proof of it, that the reason we don’t have that is verydeep-seated.

            It’s not just the current state of science, because this problem has been going on a long time and we just don’t really have any concepts, apart from our concepts of the spacio-temporal world, from our introspectively based concepts of our minds which provide any way to unify these apparently disparate entities.

            -----

            End.

  • Loreen Lee

    First of all, may I clarify that due to my 'ignorance' I cannot be part of the dialogue on physics, science, etc. But perhaps you will accept a parallel in a consideration of religion vs. social science. We are talking 'morality' here. We are also talking about to what extent separation of church and state is an 'actuality'.

    The specifics that come to mind are the arguments in the abortion, (and eugenics) debate. But, as I believe this is a 'dangerous' topic to get into, without relevant time and opportunity for detail, I will simply assert the opinion, also held by the atheist philosopher Jurgen Habermas, that such issues can lead to dangerous slopes. I believe there is 'evidence' for this in the abortion debate.

    The philosophical issue however, is with respect to 'relativity' in moral issues. Just as you found difficulties with the NOMA dictate, I find difficulties with the complete eradication of moral or I should say ethical relativity. I believe that there are parallels with your viewpoint on NOMA, and that the church would hold that personal Aristotelian virtue ethics is superior to a consequentialism, or a deontology based on 'reason' alone.
    I would like to assert that perhaps there is a hierarchy here too, from an ethics based on say 'the greatest happiness for the greatest number' - (a very useful criteria for the social programs, such as welfare run by the state) - through Kant's universality and necessity grounded duty directed towards the ends of treating all people 'as if' they were ends and not merely means - through to the Catholic ideal, which I believe not only recognizes 'individual' i.e. personal needs (is this a clarification of the difference between universal and absolute - the first the all within the one, the latter the one within the all, forgive my vagueness), but an ultimate divine will, with is the 'Good', a love poignantly described by the Greeks as 'agape'.

    I thus agree on this parallel problematic, that there is a place possibly for different perspectives on the spectrum. There is a place for 'relativity'.....(A disagreement with Catholic orthodoxy perhaps, but I remember Christ saying - Render onto Caesar....etc. so I have faith that He would agree with me!!!!)

    • Randy Gritter

      Social sciences are a bit different. There is a lot more fuzziness in experimental design. So in social science you will get a ton of research that "proves" the ideology of the sponsor. So the tail wags the dog. The philosophy drives the science. That is true with both secular philosophy and religiously based philosophy. It makes the science pretty useless. It is just something that can be bought and paid for and can be very effective in persuading people. There is just no reason to believe its conclusions are actually true.

      • Loreen Lee

        I will hold, despite the seemingly contrary point of view expressed in my first paragraph, that what is of the highest value is Life/life, (the truth and the way) both within an eternal and temporal context. (Truth, Beauty Goodness,/ Science, Art, Ethics,/ Logos, Pathos, Ethos.)That is why, despite the relativity I endorsed, I hold that a personal morality can be supported by reason, and that the world would be a much better world, if a personal morality underscored the relativity of value within the secular world. I do not hold this as a contradiction, and would even extend it to include an underlying raison d'etre for those who work within the wider field of the hard sciences. I also do not believe that a 'personal morality' can be equated with either an ideology or a dogma. Rather it is an 'aspiration, an inspiration', a purpose to be regarded as the 'fundament' of all relative values, including the 'values of science'.

        • You are definitely a Kantian, Loreen :-)

          I simply respond:

          Were morality to be neither ideological, nor dogmatic, but instead aspirational, inspirational, or purposeful as fundament of all relative values......

          We are left with nothing at all other than the Nietzschean Will rather prettily dressed up in nice lace.

          • Loreen Lee

            I just remember an inspiration/aspiration I learned in grade school: the author I believe was St. Thomas. As I remember it: Why did God make me. God made me to show forth his goodness, and to share with Him His everlasting happiness in heaven. (A purpose - a why of the will!!)

            There is also: The 'supreme'? commandment. Thou shalt love God with thy whole heart, they whole mind, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself for the love of God. A purpose of the will here too.

            But then there's a more difficult one: Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

            This latter one involves me in the relativism/absolutism paradox of the will. What if I am Nietzschean and hold that all people should be as voluntaristic, even about pragmatic as distinguished from ethical/moral goals and purposes? What if in my sinful ways, I would want others to adopt my 'sinful' ways of being? There is something about morality, which I learned from Kant, that makes having some understanding of worldly things very help in 'choosing' right or the moral over wrong, and the !!!!!. If I am too naive about the worldly, I might not even recognize the occasion of sin. Indeed, I have learned to distinguish many relative values that I am discussing through my experience with them has help me to identify them as roads I no longer want to take.

            There have been many relative truths in my life.

            But I find that I have gained much through my philosophic journey into the philosophies of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and the atheist existentialists. 'Living' through their 'worldviews' has made I believe, for a richer experience of life. Dare I say a 'better' person?

            Nowhere in the Credo, the dogma I believe of Catholicism, is there any reference to 'personal morality'. Perhaps you would educate me regarding what constitutes 'Catholic dogma' if I am incorrect on this issue. I do believe, however, that I have been given free will, (which I believe is a 'higher' metaphysical category and indeed more 'fundamental to my person' than legalities, and even ethical constructs that would be considered dogma, or specific beliefs that I am required to hold,

            On Nietzsche, a 'purely' voluntaristic self-absorbed will could not be free by definition. As even Hegel said: Freedom is the recognition of necessity, and I believe necessity implies going beyond the somewhat shattered ego whose only defiinition would depend on the empirical constraints of the modern world.

            Nietzsche I believe anticipated rather than endorsed the 'nihilism' of the age.
            After writing Ecco Homo, the onset of his madness, I understand occurred when he witness the cruel beating of a horse, and again identified with Jesus (and the horse possibly) by thinking of himself as 'the crucified' - or something.

            Lest I repeat myself, reading the philosophers, for me, was like meeting the acquaintance of individuals in life situations. I would hope not to search out their faults, but rather to understand their limitations, and hope to learn from the 'good' I discern in each and every one. (Even Kant. grin grin) If I could only learn to stand on their shoulders, (an achievement Kant believed he made) perhaps I too could see farther, and within a perspective that I could truly own, in the sense of being responsible for.. But rarely do I get beyond the bootstrap.

          • "But then there's a more difficult one: Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

            This latter one involves me in the relativism/absolutism paradox of the will. What if I am Nietzschean and hold that all people should be as voluntaristic, even about pragmatic as distinguished from ethical/moral goals and purposes? What if in my sinful ways, I would want others to adopt my 'sinful' ways of being?"

            >> It is just the problem of evil, isn't it?

            "The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seeds in his field. [25] But while men were asleep, his enemy came and oversowed cockle among the wheat and went his way.

            [26] And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. [27] And the servants of the goodman of the house coming said to him: Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it cockle? [28] And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? [29]And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. [30] Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn."

            The short answer is that the evil person will neither love God with all her heart, soul and mind, nor will she love her neighbor as herself for God's sake.

            Very well.

            Do not root her up, but fertilize and water both, until the day of harvest.

            It is unsatisfying to the philosophers, of course, since philosophy wishes to arrive at heaven on earth.

            It is unsatisfying to the rulers, since evil must be punished on earth for civilization to exist.

            It is unsatisfying to Traditional catholics, God knows, since we should dearly love to see the heretics expelled and the Church purified.

            But Jesus has other ideas.

            Thanks for reminding me.

          • Loreen Lee

            Thanks so much for this Rick. I just don't think it possible to escape either the relativism or the pluralism of the age. And perhaps even as 'necessary' evils? in the sense that in a way they cannot be avoided in a global context, it does not mean that I 'personally' have the answer. Is it called grin and bear it. Not always. I love the pluralism of different cultures, for instance.
            Hopefully, on this my return, I am a 'modern ' Catholic, and realize that the 'evil' has not been uprooted even from the church on earth. The Virgin has yet to stamp on the head of the beast, whether secular or.... The church is the 'mystical' body of Christ, I believe. I don't think we are there yet!

          • It is both now and not yet, Loreen.

            I rejoice in your return.

          • "After writing Ecco Homo, the onset of Nietzsche's madness, I understand, occurred when he witnessed the cruel beating of a horse, and again identified with Jesus (and the horse possibly) by thinking of himself as 'the crucified' - or something."

            >> Nietzsche was the greatest genius of his time, by far, the only human being apart from the Catholic Popes who understood the true meaning of the Copernican revolution:

            ""Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

            "How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

            Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves."

            The astonishing genius of these words is terrifying.

            It is difficult for me to conceive of a man who could see so clearly without the light of Faith to guide him.

          • Loreen Lee

            Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

            I do 'believe' that along his path Nietzsche explored this possibility; i.e. whether we, humanity could become 'gods'. He 'dared'. It would account for his extension of Hegel's placement of psychological/'spiritual' development within a temporal context. The development of psychology etc. follows from the work of these philosophers. It was Hegel who first said 'God is dead'.

            Although my interest in relativity perhaps steered the conversation from that of 'physics' and 'science' generally, perhaps your posting of this excerpt is 'relative' to some of the comments regarding the perplexity within science today. 'Personally' I have often been tempted to regard the 'pronouncements' of science as a kind of 'blathering of the gods'....!!!! But you yourself have remarked about the metaphysical content of so many modern scientific theories.

            More than 15 years ago now, when my son was still in University, (he's an epidemologist now) he presented me with a mathematical puzzle, which I could not relate to the 'constraints' of the physical world. Seeing my perplexity he said: "Oh mom. This is math!!!!" - meaning that like comments regarding philosophical i.e. metaphysical 'ideologies' etc. the problem he gave me demonstrates that math too can be said to operate beyond the contexts of 'evidence' - to bring up a controversial work/topic.

            I learned, I believe from Kant, that there are two 'formal causes' (back to Aristotle): the mathematical and the dynamic. Metaphysics of the mind would then fall into the latter; metaphysics of the empirical? into the former?????

            Oh! the metaphysics of madness: The madness of metaphysics. (From my 'book') Thanks for the quotation that recognizes the 'divinity of madness' or as it's called 'divine madness'.

            I believe that the modern world has to be understood. (As a totality, perhaps this is possible). It is possible that we are 'going through' a transformation that is comparable to that which occurred 2500-2000 years ago: the axial age. But we are blinded in our movements. Do we want to remain the blind leading the blind. What ever we do, it makes no sense to me to merely 'condemn' what 'is'.

            We can't overcome even ourselves' without understanding. A sinner can only change, grow, repent if he is able to recognize, to be aware of the 'limitation'. "Love the sinner- hate the sin?" We can then take up the modern/post-modern apocalyptic vision, and like them acknowledge the death of God/Christ, but we are saved from the anarchy of despair through our faith in the resurrection. We can only 'begin' with ourselves.

            Does not the idea of resurrection give hope in the possibility of transformation even within a 'temporal' context. This I believe is where Nietzsche put his faith: in the development of the idea of an ubermensch, the over man.

            Because of this, I'm not sure Nietzsche saw clearly. I am not sure he could deal with his 'vision' of what was to be. A prophet? Yes. A priest, no. I believe he was an individual very troubled by the powerlessness he found in the human condition.. I believe he had humility, and could only see himself as 'human, too human'. the possibilities contributing to his final insanity.

          • "I learned, I believe from Kant, that there are two 'formal causes' (back to Aristotle): the mathematical and the dynamic. Metaphysics of the mind would then fall into the latter; metaphysics of the empirical? into the former?????

            >> The universe is intelligible to reason, Loreen. The metaphysics of mind and the metaphysics of cosmos are- and this is among the most astonishing miracles of all- congruent.

            My mind works the same way the cosmos works.

            My mind can discover the hidden principles, inaccessible to sense perception, by which the Composer has Composed.

            There is one, unified hierarchy of truthful knowledge, composed in a hierarchical domain, from theological truth all the way down to sense perception, and these domains are sovereign as to their proper objects.

            Isn't this amazing?

            The hermeticization of Kant would have been unthinkable to a genius like Mozart, or his excellent father, who presented his young genius with an harpsichord, upon which was inscribed the achingly beautiful prayer of a civilization that was Catholic to the marrow of its bones:

            Sine scientia, ars nihil est.

            And the reverse is also true, as Wolfgang, who could write a decent fugue when he had a mind to do so, would have immediately understood.

            We lost a glorious civilization when we lost Christendom.

            "I'm not sure Nietzsche saw clearly. I am not sure he could deal with his 'vision' of what was to be. A prophet? Yes. A priest, no."

            >> That is an exceptionally beautiful insight.

          • Loreen Lee

            Thanks for all your help. Rick.

  • Howard

    Excellent article Stacy, well said.

    I would extend your chemist example to other work place relationships. My work with other people in software development was also one of cooperation towards a common task. The only time personal beliefs came into the picture was when the task itself or some knowledge about another person became known, touched upon a sensitive social or moral issue. For example; today I would have great trouble agreeing (actually I would not agree) to develop a marriage license system for any government agency directed by law to marry people of the same sex.

    This issue of separating religion and science I do not believe is predicated on the common reason given that science is the only true way to know anything for sure. I believe that the underlying truth of this popular attitude is the desire to withdraw to the self where all power can be imagined. Too much denial of the details of Christianity and not enough attention paid to the limits of science.

    I am currently reading Pascendi Dominici Gregis written in 1907 by Pius X discussing the threat of Modernism, the fruits of which we are discussing here, and which quotes Vat1 1869-70;

    “If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.”

    • Rationalist1

      I don't know anyone who says science is the only way to know anything for sure as scientific knowledge is always contingent, always open to revision, always tentative. If you need certainty in your beliefs, pick a religion. It won't be necessarily right, but you'll have the comfort of certainty.

      • FairPlay

        I agree (as a scientist). And isn't it wonderful when we learn new things which may give us a paradigm shift. I think it must be very difficult to have a belief system that cannot be threatened with change. However, we are all different. Some of us want certainty, some of us like to live on the edge. That is why I don't like to be told "you believe in evolution". It is not a belief system, it is a constant striving for understanding, which may be changed by new evidence.

        • But evolution cannot be falsified by any conceivable scientific observation, FairPlay, because (as Popper had it right the first time around) evolution is a metaphysical, not a scientific, research program:

          http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Rationalist1

            Fossilized rabbit in the Precambrian and the evolution is false.

        • Click the link.

          We have something arguably more astonishing than the rabbit in the Precambrian, and you guys won't do science on it.

          • severalspeciesof

            I clicked the link, and there is nothing in it that is arguably more astonishing than 'a rabbit in the Precambrian' would be. It's classic cherry picking.

            Seriously.

            The substance found in the T-Rex bones and others can be explained:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%E2%80%9CDinosaur%20Peptides%20Suggest%20Mechanisms%20of%20Protein%20Survival%2C%E2%80%9D

            Plus this (which incidentally links also to the link above):

            http://www.reasons.org/articles/structure-of-dinosaur-collagen-unravels-the-case-for-a-young-earth

          • Thank you for confirming the thesis on my blog, several.

            You say:

            "It's classic cherry picking.

            Seriously.

            The substance found in the T-Rex bones and others can be explained:"

            But of course it can be explained, several.

            That is what metaphysical research programs do.

            They find plausible explanations to deal with observed anomalies.

            Scientific research programs consider every observed anomaly an opportunity to subject what we think we know to experimental test, *with the intention of possibly falsifying it*.

            Your comment above is perfect.

            It completely establishes that you, yourself, believe evolution as a metaphysical system, to be defended against anomolous observation by plausible explanation.

            Here is what Karl Popper has to say about such strategies:

            "Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.")

            One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability."

            The explanation provided is, exactly, a "conventionalist twist", designed to resolve the problem not by experiment, but by plausible explanation.

            My blog and the links contained in it show that your post above is, exactly, a conventionalist twist, which supports my thesis "H1":

            Evolution is a metaphysical, not a scientific, research program.

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • severalspeciesof
      • primenumbers

        (Finally time for post 666)

        Even worse than the comfort of certainty, is that there is absolutely no way for them to know that they're right, so although they can feel that their knowledge is certain, they certainly have no way of knowing they're knowledge is certain. One could say they've traded truth for comfort. (hopefully not Ray comfort.....)

        Because we know science is "always contingent, always open to revision, always tentative" what do we do? We check, check and check again. We try to check in different ways, we seek to confirm and more importantly we seek to falsify.

        But religion has no method to check it's holy books or it's beliefs. So not only do religions not check, they cannot check. And anyone who is religion can invent any religious statement in the full and certain knowledge nobody can definitively call them on it because religious knowledge cannot be checked.

        We see the world full of religion, and it's a chaos that is only adequately explained by the fact that religious truths cannot be checked.

        • Rationalist1

          It's worse that religion has no method to check, but that they see no reason to check.

        • Randy Gritter

          If you are religious then you can still check your science. If you are not religious you can't check your philosophy or your irreligion. You can be sure Jesus Christ is God incarnate. You can be sure He is not. Or you can say you are unsure. I don't see how checking your science again and again buys you anything here. You need to arrive at religious truth in other ways. Atheists and Christians use the same methods to arrive at their conclusions both in science and religion. One just responds to the claims of Jesus with a Yes and the other with a No.

          • primenumbers

            "You need to arrive at religious truth in other ways. " and those ways are utterly un-reliable, have lead to the vast chaos of religious belief on this planet and when you think you've found your truth you can't even check, never mind double-check you've found it.

            "Atheists and Christians use the same methods to arrive at their conclusions both in science and religion" - no we don't. We don't use faith. We don't pretend to know things we don't know. We only use demonstrably reliable epistemology.

          • Like:

            The universe consists 96% in undiscovered entities.

            Trust us.

            We never take things on faith.

            We only deal in empirical facts.

          • primenumbers

            "We never take things on faith.

            We only deal in empirical facts."

            Only empirical facts eh? No faith what so ever?

          • Randy Gritter

            and those ways are utterly un-reliable, have lead to the vast chaos of religious belief on this planet

            I don't think it is so bad. We do have differences. It is not exactly chaos. There are a few basic claims to divine revelation that you can accept or reject. We can evaluate those using reason. I would not describe that as completely unreliable. I guess I have a higher view of reason than you do.

            no we don't. We don't use faith. We don't pretend to know things we don't know.

            What is faith? The bible defines it as the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen. Do you make judgements about things you do not see? If you deny the resurrection of Jesus it is making a judgement just as much as accepting it is. Then you live by that judgement. Is it so different a process? I don't see it.

          • primenumbers

            Of course you don't see it - that's the very problem. You claim to know about Jesus and God, the Trinity concept, heaven and hell, etc. etc. You claim to know all that on faith.

          • Randy Gritter

            And you claim to know nothing? Hardly. Atheists are every bit as sure of themselves as any religion. How do they arrive at this knowledge? Mostly by thinking about religion and coming to the opposite conclusion that theists do. Eventually they gain the same kind of certainty that Christians call faith.

          • primenumbers

            Now you appear to be conflating knowledge of religions with religious knowledge. Atheists in general have much knowledge of religions, their beliefs, history etc. What I don't have is religious knowledge. I don't think I actually know about the things religious people claim to know, I know the claims, I just don't know about the supposed things they refer to. Please tell us how you can know "Jesus and God, the Trinity concept, heaven and hell, etc. etc." without using faith.

          • Randy Gritter

            I am not conflating at all. I am saying that knowing Christianity is true is similar to knowing Christianity is false. Often the evidence weighed is the same. One person just makes a decision to believe it and another makes a decision to disbelieve. It is a choice we make.

          • primenumbers

            "One person just makes a decision to believe it and another makes a decision to disbelieve. It is a choice we make" - so you are saying you use faith then?

          • Randy Gritter

            Sure, I call it faith. Those that disbelieve use different terms. But is it really different? I can see those who have never really investigated a religion might be in a different boat. Are there any of those? Perhaps some who just accepted the religion or lack of religion of their upbringing.

          • primenumbers

            But atheists generally speaking don't disbelieve, they lack a belief and that takes no faith at all. It takes no faith at all to not have a positive belief in Christianity because it's not that the evidence is such that it could go either way, but because the evidence available to us is significantly not strong enough to support the weight of the claims made of it. Faith is just what you're using to fill in the epistemological gap between the meagre evidence that's available through to belief.

          • In other words, you lack supernatural faith.

            It is a gift.

            It must be sought diligently and received as cool water on parched lips.

            Otherwise it will remain, in its essence, incomprehensible.

            "For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. [22] For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: [24] But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."

          • primenumbers

            It's not supernatural faith we lack, but faith. But you must lack faith also?

            "Trust us.

            We never take things on faith.

            We only deal in empirical facts." is what you said earlier today.

            Got any empirical facts for us? Of God, Jesus, the Resurrection?

          • Your citation of my earlier post has neglected to notice its ironic intent.

            Yes, there are multitudinous empirical facts concerning God, Jesus, and His resurrection.

            For example, we have the most widely-attested historical source of all antiquity, the Gospels, which circulated throughout the world, through various nations, tongues, cultures, in such a way that the reports of this Resurrection constitute, as above, the best-attested historical event of the ancient world.

            This can be denied only on the selective redefinition of "empirical" to mean "materialist"; that is, you must decide in advance that the testimonies are false, since if you do not, you are confronted with the historical fact that ancient humanity considered this evidence to be of such overwhelming importance, that it is distributed more widely than any other event in ancient history- by FAR.

            Next we notice that the report, as difficult as it might be to accept, is corroborated by the altogether astonishing fact of the predicted spread of this Church, in the documents themselves, written centuries before the events, to include even the subjection of the Roman Empire itself- which HAPPENED.

            We will pause for refreshment here.

          • Next, we see that this astonishing conquest- without army, without power, without wealth or influence of any meaningful kind, indeed as the Christians were being subjected to periodic ferocious persecution- continues on to civilize the tribes of the European forests, and raise from their midst the greatest civilization to have ever arisen on the face of the Earth; the civilization of Da Vinci and Aquinas, of Palestrina and Mozart and Bach and Beethoven, of Kepler and Galileo, of Liebniz and Newton, of science and the calculus, of the Cathedrals and the incomparable Sign of the Duomo at Fiorenzia, where the catenary rises above the city as a principle of the newhigher hypothesis- the *method* of science!- which will shortly transform the whole world..............

            I could go on but that is enough for now.

            Oh- one last thing.

            The Founder tells us that His Church will endure to the end of the world.

            This prophecy cannot be definitively affirmed until that Day, but we notice, empirically, that the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome is now the oldest continuously operating institution of that human race which lately begins to insist that no empirical evidence exists for her claims.

          • primenumbers

            "the best-attested historical event of the ancient world" - really? No eye-witness accounts, no archeological evidence. I guess there you go on faith again, pretending to know things you don't really know.

          • The evidence is precisely historical evidence, primenumbers, just as is the evidence for Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

            The main difference is that we have such massively greater source documentation of the Resurrection, than we have for Caesar's fateful choice of Empire, that it is abundantly clear that, to the men of the age, the two events were of such disparate significance as to relegate Caesar to the peanut gallery- as in fact, historically speaking, he has in fact been relegated.

          • primenumbers

            SO you think non-contemporary religious stories by anonymous authors who were not eye witnesses is evidence? That's faith speaking for sure.

          • You have asked.

            I have answered.

            There it sits.

          • primenumbers

            So just to be clear, you think that "non-contemporary religious stories by anonymous authors who were not eye witnesses is evidence" is enough evidence to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus?

          • Just to be clear:

            The eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection, written in the Gospels, are to be assessed on exactly the same grounds the eyewitness reports of the crossing of the Rubicon by Caesar are to be assessed; that is, if the historical consequences flowing from the reports can be seen to verify them, then they are historically established.

            Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

            Christ rose from the dead.

            The second assertion requires much greater verification, given its supernatural, and hence extraordinary, nature.

            We would require much greater historical confirmation of this latter event.

            This much greater historical confirmation is found in my posts concerning the historical development of the Catholic Church in the world, on this thread.

            Thanks for asking.

          • The eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection, written in the Gospels . . .

            Are you suggesting that the authors of the Gospels were themselves eyewitnesses to the events about which they wrote, or that they are reporting events witnessed by others. An eyewitness account given by an eyewitness is (or at least can be) quite different from one person's account of what another person witnessed.

          • Are you suggesting that the copyist who gave us Suetonius' "Lives of the Caesar's" in 121 AD, was not working from eyewitness reports of the event?

            Are you suggesting that the author of the Gospel of John is lying, when he says:

            "This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            If you deny this to be a truthful statement, then you must be in possession of evidence sufficient to establish him to have been lying.

            The witness has spoken, and has testified.

            I invite you to attempt to impeach his eyewitness testimony.

          • Let me verify if I understand what you are asserting. The disciple in your quote is the Beloved Disciple, who is not the author of the Gospel, but someone who has given testimony, presumably both oral and written. But the author of the Gospel is presumably relying on the Beloved Disciple's testimony, since the author says, "We know that his testimony is true," since the Beloved Disciple would presumably not say of his own testimony, "We know his testimony is true." Is that correct? The author of the Gospel of John is not the Beloved Disciple, but has access to the Beloved Disciple, who was an eyewitness?

          • Max Driffill

            I will say that John is probably not exactly lying, and probably in the tradition John and its authors, they probably thought they were telling the truth. Its unlikely the author of John was speaking to eye-witnesses. It is certainly the latest of the canonical Gospels, 90-100 AD, But if you assume a single author, who penned the gospel in or around 90-100 AD it is unlikely that said author could have access to any eyewitnesses. Jesus was in his early 30s when he was crucified. His disciples were probably around the same age, some older, some younger, say 10 years in either direction to be conservative. That would put many disciples within a decade of the average life expectancy (which was around 40 years old, granted that average is depressed a bit because of high infant mortality, including infant mortality data, the actual life expectancy was about 28). But still in world where 50 is old how many of Jesus discples do you think were still kicking around in 90-100 AD? My guess would be none, especially given their attachment to poverty and itinerancy.

            Its possible that the original sources for John might have had contact with an eyewitness. But that doesn't mean that their accounts were translated accurately, and by the time it gets into the writer(s?) of John it is essentially hearsay evidence at best.

            Just a thought.

          • CrismusCactus

            >>Are you suggesting that the author of the Gospel of John is lying, when he says:

            "This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            If you deny this to be a truthful statement, then you must be in possession of evidence sufficient to establish him to have been lying.>>

            The bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because the bible says it's true the bible is true because...

            Zombies do make for great symbolism when talking about Catholics. Just not the way Fr. Barron sees it in today's article...

          • It is indeed a good word you have chosen there, Crismus.

            It is indeed zombie-esque, what you have posted above.

          • Max Driffill

            Um what eye-witness reports? WHo took down these reports of Christ risen? And if we have to take them seriously, why do they contradict one another?

          • There exists no contradiction, of course.

            Your neurons are again good at asserting.

            Can they reconfigure themselves so as to demonstrate?

          • primenumbers

            "The eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection, written in the Gospels," - that's just it - the Gospel accounts were written by later anonymous authors, not eye witnesses. You don't actually have eye witness accounts.

          • To the contrary.

            The author of the Gospel of John explicitly contradicts you:

            "This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            On what evidentiary grounds are we to choose to believe you, a man two thousand years removed from the events, over an eyewitness to them?

          • primenumbers

            You say "The author of the Gospel of John" - if you knew who the author was, you'd not use this round-about way to reference the author. Fact is we don't know who the author is.

            The rest of your argument is basically that because someone claims something it's therefore true unless other people can prove otherwise, and then you'd not believe us anyway because you have a prior religious belief that it's all true. Nothing will convince you otherwise because you don't want to be convinced.

          • Fact is we know exactly who the author is.

            It is John, "that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            You have not yet so much as waved your hand at the work of demonstrating your contrary claim, and you are already waving the white flag of surrender?

            Come, come my good fellow.

            You certainly must be capable of a better showing then *that*?

          • primenumbers

            No, there is nothing in the text that identifies the author. I don't have to show contrary - you have to prove who authored it, and that they were witnesses. I thought it was only evangelicals who believed the Gospels were actually written by the named people and they were eye-witnesses. I didn't think Catholics suffered from that delusion.

          • You think a very great many strange things, prime.

            But as to the author of the Gospel, we have his direct testimony, which you have not been able to contradict:

            "This is that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            You wish evidence for the explicit identity of that disciple, which I now provide:

            St. Irenaeus was a disciple of St. Polycarp. St. Polycarp was converted directly by St. John the Evangelist.

            Writing circa 180 AD, St. Irenaeus reports:

            “Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”--Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3. 3. 4 (~180 A.D.)

            Notice that this John "leaned upon the breast" of Our Lord.

            I can connect the dots further if you require it, but notice:

            Jn 13:

            Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. [24] Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him: Who is it of whom he speaketh? [25] He therefore, leaning on the breast of Jesus, saith to him: Lord, who is it?"

            The author of the Gospel of John is established, unsurprisingly, as the disciple, John, who leaned upon His breast.

            So the case is established and now it is up to you to propose your evidence to the contrary.

          • primenumbers

            You have no idea of what constitutes reasonable evidence do you?

            Irenaeus writes about 100yrs after the date of the Gospel named for John, so he obviously doesn't know first hand - he's merely repeating what he's heard. Irenaeus says that Polycarp knew John, but Polycarp himself doesn't mention this. So we have no primary source, just hearsay and you think that's good enough?

            Basically, you'll just believe any ancient writing that supports your belief without question. You have left your skeptical and critical faculties behind when it comes to Christianity. Remember, you're reading the words of believing Christians writing apologetic works.

            "So the case is established" - hearsay establishes nothing.

          • To the contrary, prime.

            We have the direct testimony of Irenaeus, who reports the direct testimony of Polycarp, who reports the direct testimony of John.

            You have nothing.

            This is dispositive.

            Thanks for playing.

          • primenumbers

            No, that's not direct testimony, that's hearsay: "Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience." - and hearsay is all you have, and worse still, it's the hearsay of a believing Christian with a vested interest in promoting their religious beliefs.

          • By your own criteria, then, prime-

            We have no evidence that Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

            But Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

            The interested follower of our exchange can apply your criteria to any given historical report from antiquity, and see that the application of your criteria yields the inescapable conclusion that we cannot know any single thing about antiquity.

            Which is absurd.

            The same interested follower can then apply exactly the same historical criteria to the Gospel of John, as we would apply to the report of Caesar crossing the Rubicon in Suetonius, and see that this method yields the conclusion that:

            1. Caesar crossed the Rubicon

            2. Christ rose from the dead

            In which case we possess the tools by which to render our present an intelligible outcome of our past.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • CrismusCactus

            There is a small difference here. Crossing the Rubicon requires a horse. Coming back from the dead requires loads of supernatural nonsense to be true, which it isn't.

          • CrismusCactus

            And just to clarify, I've seen horses. With my own two eyes.

          • Yet you have not seen quantum foam, nor have you seen virtual particles, nor have you seen a Big Bang, or an inflaton, or curved spacetime, or a Planck particle, or dark matter, or dark energy.....

            Knowledge, you see, Crismus, is not limited for us to sense perception, as it is for beasts.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • CrismusCactus

            Rick, to be really honest now, I don't for a minute believe that your "faith", or anyone else's on this forum or in the rest of the theist world, is in any sense real.

            Neuroscience will eventually tell us why grown adults elaborately pretend to believe incoherent nonsense in front of others (and possibly themselves), and what unacknowledged needs this might serve. The compulsion to regurgitate 2,000-year-old gibberish is a fascinating affliction to investigate, but the sooner our species eradicates it from the planet, the better things will be for everyone. It is a grave misuse of our faculties.

          • "Neuroscience will eventually tell us why"

            We see that Crismus does have faith.

          • CrismusCactus

            I have hope.

          • Why?

            The nano particles give you a configuration which corresponds to hope.

            Why should that configuration be hopeful?

            Why should a contrary configuration of nanoparticles, perceived as "hope" by some other vessel of nanoparticles, be any more, or less, hopeful, than the configuration of nanoparticles you report to us as "hope"?

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • CrismusCactus

            The configuration itself is not "hopeful". What would that even mean? The configuration produces the feeling of hope.

          • But wait a minute. If the "feeling" is "produced" by the nanoparticles, then some configuration on nano particles corresponds to "hope".

            Therefore some other vessel of nanoparticles must feel the same thing from the same configuration.

            Yet I have a completely different "hope" than you have.

            Therefore, either:

            1. The same configuration of nanoparticles produces two directly contrary outcomes, or

            2. Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

            Which is it?

          • CrismusCactus

            You and I hope for different things, but the feeling of hope is the same, and so is the replicated neural configuration that produces it.

            There is nothing "contrary" about different causes producing the same sensation. You are, as usual, trying to force a false dichotomy.

            Catholicism is an infantile delusion.

          • "You and I hope for different things, but the feeling of hope is the same, and so is the replicated neural configuration that produces it."

            >> But this is a problem for you, since you said above:

            "Neuroscience will eventually tell us why grown adults elaborately pretend to believe incoherent nonsense in front of others"

            But you have just stated that it can never do any such thing, since you admit that the same configuration of nanoparticles will produce directly contradictory outcomes.

            In other words, atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • CrismusCactus

            When I hope that all theistic religion is destroyed, and when you hope that the Roman church dominates the world, we experience the same sensation caused by the same "configuration of nanoparticles," and we do this because our brains have learned to replicate this state through social interaction. If we examine social interaction and brain responses, we learn what "configurations of nanoparticles" to expect when the brain responds to different social formations. Sooner or later, we will know what causes people to insist that dead people walk, that women get sucked up into heaven flesh and all, and that the sun circles the earth.

            Just like I enjoy my hope for a more rational world, you somehow enjoy the prospect of a thoughtless and subjugated one. Something in your social makeup makes this dangerous vision pleasurable for you. We need to find out what causes this, so that we can stop it in others.

          • So, you're advocating brain control?

          • He can't even get that far, Stacy. How can brain control solve his problem, when he claims that the problem and the solution are the same brain state?

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • CrismusCactus

            Our brains are already controlled.

          • When I hope that all theistic religion is destroyed, and when you hope that the Roman church dominates the world, we experience the same sensation caused by the same "configuration of nanoparticles,"

            >> I am afraid this is not possible.

            The same configuration of any determinative set of elements must, by definition, produce the same determined result.

            We have arrived at a devastating self-contradiction in your "theory", and it is conclusive.

          • CrismusCactus

            Did you include your entire life, upbringing, and all social interactions in this "determinative set of elements"? How about your language?

            Or does your brain create your consciousness in a conceptual vacuum?

          • It does not matter, in terms of your devastatingly impotent theory, Crismus.

            We can ascribe an unlimited number of factors to the class of determinative causes.

            All that matters is the assertion that the brain state is the outcome of all of them.

            You assert that this brain state:

            "will eventually tell us why grown adults elaborately pretend to believe incoherent nonsense in front of others"

            But then you tell us:

            "When I hope that all theistic religion is destroyed, and when you hope that the Roman church dominates the world, we experience the same sensation caused by the same "configuration of nanoparticles,:

            Which directly contradicts your first premise.

            The contradiction is devastating, and conclusive.

          • CrismusCactus

            >>You assert that this brain state:

            "will eventually tell us why grown adults elaborately pretend to believe incoherent nonsense in front of others">>

            I asserted that a "brain state" will do this?

          • Yes, of course.

            It is quite instructive to see that, having been shown a clear contradiction in your argument, you claim not to have advanced the argument in the first place.

            But of course you did:

            "You and I hope for different things, but the feeling of hope is the same, ********and so is the replicated neural configuration that produces it********.

            There it is.

          • CrismusCactus

            People can arrive at a feeling of hope through different experiences. I don't know why this is so difficult for you, or why you've latched on to this. As I've told you before, you're tedious.

            My original objection to your usual bag of hot wind was that you want the bible to hold true based on hearsay, while demanding from others material proof against the hearsay.

            My other objection was my personal belief that you don't believe any of the nonsense you say, but that you continue to say it in order to create social situations and reactions which gratify you emotionally.

            I have observed this in other people of faith. I hope that, if you live long enough, you may eventually be able to have this error corrected through neurological means, once the mechanism of religious belief is completely understood.

          • CrismusCactus

            For the sake of clarification, I'd like to emphasize that this is not an assessment of you alone, but of all people of faith, and that this is why I feel justified, even compelled, to make it here.

            Take this as the atheist version of the "We've come to save your souls" schtick which you should be familiar with. I care, I really do. I care about people living out their lives trapped in a delusion, infecting their children with it, and making unsound moral decisions because of it.

          • CrismusCactus

            I know you want your consciousness to come from god, Rick, but it actually comes from the environment, because there are no gods. If we alter the social environment, we can get rid of theists and their compulsive disagreements with reality.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            CC, this website is a place of respectful dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

            "Catholicism is an infantile delusion" does nothing to advance that aim.

          • CrismusCactus

            How about "Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications?"

          • David Egan

            If you haven't figured it out yet, you will soon. There is a massive and ridiculous double standard on this board.

          • Not so much any more.

            I used to be censored quite regularly, now I am allowed to answer our atheist friends.

            Good.

          • Andrew G.

            We can't possibly make the Catholics look as ridiculous as you do, after all.

          • n the other hand, Andrew, perhaps you find it ridiculous that the Catholic Faith is actually exactly what the Scriptures, Fathers, Doctors, Saints, Popes and Councils have claimed it to be from the inception of the Church; that is, the recipient and guardian of a direct revelation from God, which revelation is to be defended against all spurious claims of human reason to be somehow capable of falsifying it.

            But that is exactly what I do.

            If you find it ridiculous, that is fine.

            Others have lodged similar objections before you.

            For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: [24] But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. [25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

          • Ignorant Amos

            The Fred Phelps of Catholicism...even conservative fundamentalists cringe...problem is, from an honest Catholic doctrinal position, is he wrong?

            I must give Rick praise for his convictions, it is all those Catholics that are contradictory to the dogma that have the issues to deal with.

            Still, it is good craic to watch.

          • I am indeed, by the grace of God, Catholic, and I am persuaded that no one should ever be presented with anything but the straight goods.

            After all, it converted the world.

            This modern, watered down stuff sure isn;t working, which is why our atheist friends recognize in li' ol' Rick a target worth shooting at :-)

            I completely understand.

          • That latter is an assertion susceptible of argumentative disproof.

            That former is a slur and a bigot's admission of intellectual defeat.

            For example, if any atheist were to be of a mind to advance the claim:

            "Catholicism is a dead end in each and all of its applications", I would relish the opportunity to argue the contrary position :-)

          • CrismusCactus

            >>That former is a slur and a bigot's admission of intellectual defeat.>>

            I'm not a bigot, I just want what's best for you Rick. And I do understand that that's difficult for you. So often the abused take up the defense of their abusers...

          • I am glad to hear it, Crismus.

            Since what is best for me is a matter to be determined, I am sure you will agree, by.....well.....*me*, may I extend to you the cordial invitation to believe me when I tell you this.

            I am impressed by valid forms of argumentation, often even when these are wrong, since the identification and bringing into clear view the internal contradictions in erroneous argumentation is exactly what makes me better.

            For example, I am in your debt for your argument earlier today concerning brain states.

            The process of identifying and bringing into clear view the foundational contradiction in that argument made both of us better.

            Whether you choose to secure the benefits, is also a matter entirely up to......well.....*you*.

          • CrismusCactus

            The religious are allowed to tell me that I have a soul that needs saving by Jesus. I'd like to tell the religious that they are committing a devastating cognitive error, convincing themselves that they believe something they actually don't.

            Now, why should my declared beliefs/concerns regarding the faith of the faithful be any less valid than the declared beliefs of the faithful regarding the nature of my person and the world I live in? Why should either side be more deserving of respect or consideration?

          • "The religious are allowed to tell me that I have a soul that needs saving by Jesus."

            >> That would appear to be consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution.

            "I'd like to tell the religious that they are committing a devastating cognitive error, convincing themselves that they believe something they actually don't."

            >> That would also appear to be consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution.

            "Now, why should my declared beliefs/concerns regarding the faith of the faithful be any less valid than the declared beliefs of the faithful regarding the nature of my person and the world I live in? Why should either side be more deserving of respect or consideration?"

            >> Strictly on the merits, my friend.

            Strictly on the merits.

          • CrismusCactus

            The gospels are hearsay and they have no merit as an accurate account of reality.

          • This has been adequately answered, above.

            1. The claim of "hearsay", here, would, if applied generally and systematically across the entirety of historical evidence, render us unable to affirm that any event of antiquity occurred

            2. No atheist actually attempts to apply the above criteria uniformly; it is seen that they apply it only to instances of reported supernatural occurrences.

            3. This is a circulus in probando; that is, the conclusion is present in the premise. This is a classic form of illogic.

            4. The subsequent, empirical facts of the Church's universal spread, and civilization-building triumph over the Roman Empire (predicted, by the way, centuries before it happened, in the very Scriptures our atheist friends insist cannot possibly involve supernatural events) is congruent with the empirical fact that the men of antiquity considered the Gospels to be so important, that they reporduced and disseminated this document to an extent that dwarfs any other single document of antiquity.

            In short, the atheist case is one of circulus in probando, and special pleading, which leads us nowhere.

          • Andrew G.

            I wouldn't normally bother answering nonsense at this level, but this is a good demonstration of a common error that might be worth explaining.

            While it's obviously an oversimplification to say that some specific brain state corresponds to "hope" (or some other mental state), it's certainly conceivable that some detectable features of brain states can be used to classify some subset of them as "hopeful".

            But it's a mistake to think that it's necessarily the case that those features are the same for every individual brain. Brains aren't constructed from a fixed plan; they can only develop from interactions with the environment which are different for everyone. The overall result has some features which are consistent between most brains, e.g. the locations of specific functions, but even then there are exceptions.

            An analogy: you and I are both sitting at our computers viewing this webpage, but if you took a measurement of the charge density of the RAM chips, they would have almost nothing in common, and trying to copy one to the other would result in garbage. But two computers - even if they are running different operating systems on different hardware architectures - are much more similar to each other than two different human brains are.

          • Well it is nice to see at least some degree of correction being applied to the catastrophic "theory" of Crismus.

            Who knows, we might actually get to an exmaination of the thesis:

            "Hope" is a brain state.

          • CrismusCactus

            What's the alternative? A "soul state"?

          • josh

            This is like arguing two different chess programs can't declare checkmate because they made different moves to get there. Rick's brain and Crismus are not exactly the same. They are similar in many ways but different in others, which means they can have similar emotions but different causes can engender this reaction BECAUSE they have different reasoning (I use the term loosely) mechanisms that are instantiated by different structure at some level.

            And what this has to do with Atheism is anyone's guess. Whether of not Rick understands the human mind isn't going to tell us God exists.

          • CrismusCactus

            Rick cannot allow the concept of free will to be questioned or re-evaluated, because this upsets the premise on which his god supposedly operates.

          • josh

            Rick is pretty bad at re-evaluating any of his concepts or premises.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            One of the atheist arguments used here is called search/replace. What you say against "faith" can apply equally to "atheism":

            "Neuroscience will eventually tell us why grown adults elaborately pretend to believe incoherent nonsense like atheism in front of others (and possibly themselves), and what unacknowledged needs this might serve. The
            compulsion to regurgitate atheist gibberish is a fascinating
            affliction to investigate, but the sooner our species eradicates it from the planet, the better things will be for everyone. It is a grave misuse of our faculties."

          • josh

            Atheism is just pointing out that religion is a dead end, that's its application. Everything else is secular rationalism, which has many applications but keeps reinforcing atheism's conclusion among other things.

          • This is an assertion which has not been demonstrated here, josh, while the contrary position has been demonstrated, above.

            I invite any attempt to demonstrate your assertion, since it is in no way self-evident.

          • Atheism is just pointing out that religion is a dead end, that's its application.

            Even setting aside whether there is a God or any particular religion is true, atheism can't say that religion is a "dead end" (assuming that has any meaning). Religion is a human universal. Rarely if ever has there been a human society without religion. Religious rituals (as far as we can tell) go back further than recorded history. It may be that in many circumstances, human beings are healthier and happier believing in something beyond themselves, whether that something actually exists at all. There are many perfectly adaptive ways in which human beings fool themselves. Maybe belief in the supernatural is one of them. Or maybe there is a nearly universal tendency for humans to believe in the supernatural because there is a supernatural. Most atheists here don't claim there is no God or not supernatural. They say there is no evidence, or no good evidence. For most of human history, until the middle of the 19th century, there was not the least bit of evidence for radio waves, but that didn't mean they didn't exist.

          • josh

            I meant intellectual dead end of course. I don't know what will happen culturally in the future although religion currently seems to be in slow decline. I'm inclined to believe that religion doesn't make people happier and healthier on the whole compared to some of the alternatives which we see emerging in societies. But that's another argument.

            No one prior to the last couple of centuries believed in radio waves based on ancient 'revelations' and theological 'reasoning', and was then vindicated by their discovery. We may discover many unthought of things in the future. But I would bet anything against us confirming religion as a rational conclusion, rather than the collection of psychological biases we know it to be now. That's like arguing that in the future we may confirm that Dracula is a documentary.

          • That's like arguing that in the future we may confirm that Dracula is a documentary.

            Have you ever read it? It is made up entirely of letters, newspaper stories, diary entries, ships' log entries, and so on.

          • josh

            And we know it is fiction.

          • Should we notice a civilization of vampires arising, we might have to consider altering our classification of the literary genre employed by Bram Stoker.

            Until then..........

          • josh

            Also, according to Suetonius: "As he stood in doubt, this sign was given him. On a sudden there
            appeared hard by a being of wondrous stature and beauty, who sat and
            played upon a reed; and when not only the shepherds flocked to hear him,
            but many of the soldiers left their posts, and among them some of the
            trumpeters, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, rushed
            to the river, and sounding the war-note with mighty blast, strode to the
            opposite bank. Then Caesar cried: "Take we the course which the signs
            of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out. The die is
            cast," said he."

            So it's historical fact that Caesar was given a supernatural sign by the Roman pantheon. No one could make that up. Or stage it.

          • Indeed, considering that we would require verification of the supernatural claim, evidenced, say, in the historical continuity of the Roman Empire down to our present day, subsequent to a resurrection of Caesar.

            Absent these things, we notice the claim, we consider whether it was considered important enough to have spread throughout the world, motivated men to create a civilization based on it, and to have succeeded in that undertaking.

            We notice it wasn't.

            The civilization died, Caesar died, and the claim can be dispensed with, without necessarily ruling it out.

            It might have happened; after all, the pagan Constantine reports a supernatural vision on the night before the Battle of Milvian, which visions both prophesied his victory, and obtained from it the triumph of the Church, as prophesied centuries before in the Scriptures.

            Pretty wide gap between the two reports.

            But it is simple prejudice to reject all claims of the supernatural in advance.

            It is, in fact, a form of illogic.

          • So the circulus in probando is magnificently presented here by Crismus, who has at least evolved from zombie to logically-challenged.

            The conclusion is present in the premise.

            Supernatural events cannot occur, therefore the Gospel cannot be true.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • primenumbers

            Why do you bring up red herrings? Is it because you know that you're basing your beliefs on hearsay? What is absurd is how you cling to hearsay and try to claim that it's direct testimony.

          • I have established here, prime, that your method yields absurdities, and the historical method yields the means by which we can account for our present, as the outcome of our past.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • primenumbers

            You've established one thing for sure - you'll believe in any old hearsay if it supports a pre-supposed religious belief, and that in discussions on historicity you'll throw out red-herrings to disguise how weak your case is.

          • What I have established, prime, is that your method renders us incapable of knowing any historical event of antiquity.

            The historical method allows us to know those historical events of antiquity, which can be seen to have shaped our time as an outcome of those events.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • primenumbers

            Lack of total reliance on hearsay does not render ancient history dead, but it does rather demolish the historical claims of your religion which is why you hold hearsay in such high regard.

          • To the contrary.

            The interested follower of our discussion can apply your criticism of the direct, eyewitness testimony in John's Gospel rigorously across the board, and see quite easily that this generalized application yields us exactly zero knowledge of any event which occurred in antiquity.

            The method is, in short, a dead end.

            But this is to be expected.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • primenumbers

            We don't have any direct eye witness testimony though - that's the point. What you have is hearsay that leads you in your religiously motivated pre-supposed belief to make you think you have eye-witness testimony. You only have hearsay and hearsay is all you have got. No physical evidence, no contemporary evidence of any kind, no mention in the contemporary historical record. Just hearsay.

          • There is no eyewitness testimony able to affirm the crossing of the Rubicon, prime.

            You accept this, however.

            This is because you advance an argument based on the logical fallacy:

            Circulus in probando.

            That is, your conclusion is present in your premise.

            You accept eyewitness reports in documents written by others, when they report that which is not supernatural.

            Because you reject the possibility of any supernatural event ever taking place at all.

            So it is not upon historical grounds that you accept or reject a given document.

            It is upon grounds of your pre-determined rejection of the possibility of supernatural events.

            You have a problem here.

            You cannot even account for the existence of the cosmos itself, by denying the existence of at least one definitively supernatural event.

            You are left with a devastating self-contradiction.

            A dead end, in fact.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • primenumbers

            We do have Caesars own words (In his The Civil War) that he was at Ravenna, 20 miles north of the Rubicon and he then marched with his soldiers to Arimium which is 10 miles south of the Rubicon. So although he doesn't explicitly say in his own words that he crossed the Rubicon, he does describe where he was at, and where he went next, and we know by looking at a map that the route would cross the Rubicon.

            You are going on about eye-witnesses for the Resurrection, which are non-existent. We don't have eye witness testimony for the events in the life of Jesus. We only have anonymous stories written by non-eye-witnesses many many years after.

            The problem here is you want to believe hearsay as fact.

            I don't have to account for the existence of the universe as it's undeniably here, but you do have to account for a sufficient reason why a self-contained perfect, all knowing, all powerful being would actually create anything, let alone a universe.

          • Max Driffill

            Crucially too, there is nothing to really arose skepticism in the account of Ceasar's words or the history. If I may summarize in the following way: We walked from here to there, and no impossible distance. No violations of the laws of physics and everything we know about biology.

          • There is no eyewitness testimony able to affirm the crossing of the Rubicon . . .

            Didn't you know? "Crossing the Rubicon" is just a figure of speech.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Hee! Hee! Spoiler alert!

            "Suetonius's account depicts Caesar as undecided as he approached the river, and attributes the crossing to a supernatural apparition. The phrase "crossing the Rubicon" has survived to refer to any individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action, similar to the modern phrase "passing the point of no return".

            Whether a real historical event or not...it matters not a jot. The same cannot be said of the resurrection. But please, let the train wreck continue.

          • "Whether a real historical event or not...it matters not a jot. "

            Heh heh heh.

            Not according to this "real historian" of Andrew's :-)

            "In case you are still skeptical, take a good look at a map: there is no way to march an army from Ravenna to Ariminum except through the Rubicon. The only other road available was the Via Aemilia, and though there would have been no logical reason for Caesar to take such a detour, this road also crosses the Rubicon. And the Rubicon at the time flowed from nearby mountains impassable to an army. So there is no possible way Caesar could have marched from Ravenna to Ariminum without crossing the Rubicon. Therefore, when Caesar says he made that march, he is saying he crossed the Rubicon."

            Now notice the next little dipsy do:

            "By analogy, no one reports ever having seen Jesus rise from the grave. They only infer this from related facts (a burial, an empty tomb, and subsequent appearances),

            >> Subsequent appearances??????

            My, that sounds like He rose from the grave.

            You know.

            The one they *put Him in*?

            Sheesh.

            "and these have various possible explanations. Caesar's march from Ravenna to Ariminum has only one.[1]"

            >> As if there was any other way for Jesus to subsequently appear, unless He had risen from the grave.

            Got any more pizza?

          • Ignorant Amos

            The one they *put Him in*?

            Who said who put who where Rickster?

            As if there was any other way for Jesus to subsequently appear, unless He had risen from the grave.

            Spoiiiing!!! I guess Elvis is besties with Jebus then?

            I'm stuffed with all this pizza, so much so I'm giving it away.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Folk crossing streams isn't a big issue with probability.

            Princes to paupers, all have traversed gravitationally flowing bodies of water.

            Now, although resurrection is an uncommon asserted event....not a single person can attest to a genuine first hand eyewitness instance of such nonsense, including NT accounts.

            Catholicism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

            ...furthermore....

            Christianity is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

            ...furthermore...

            Religion is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

          • "Folk crossing streams isn't a big issue with probability."

            >> Actually, it is. Did Caesar cross this particular stream at this particular time?

            How probable is it that he did?

            How do we find out?

            Why, we read the historical texts that tell us he did, and we compare those texts to other historically-connected events, and we are able to conclude that quite probably, he did.

            "Princes to paupers, all have traversed gravitationally flowing bodies of water."

            >> Princes to paupers, all have also not crossed them. So the point is, how do we know whether a given prince, or a given pauper, did or did not cross this particular stream at this particular time?

            Why, we look at the historical records, is how ;-)

            "Now, although resurrection is an uncommon asserted event....not a single person can attest to a genuine first hand eyewitness instance of such nonsense, including NT accounts."

            >> Neither can a single person attest to a genuine first hand eyewitness instance of Caesar crossing the Rubicon, including the oldest manuscript which recounts the crossing, which is separated from it by a thousand years.

            The NT, on the other hand, includes documents written by eyewitnesses, and that provides us an excellent basis upon which to assess the remarkable claim of a Resurrection.

            Did it happen?

            How can we know?

            Why, the same way we can know whether Caesar crossed the Rubicon, is how.

            We read the historical texts that tell us He did, and we compare those texts to other historically-connected events, and we are able to conclude that quite probably- far more probably than Caesar crossed the Rubicon, in fact- He did.

            As for dead ends, Iggy, we have been around for lots of folks to dance in advance of our funeral.

            We buried them all.

            And prayed for their souls.

            And always will.

            Know why?

            Because Christ rose from the dead and you can do nothing whatever to destroy His Church.

            It will endure to the end of the world.

          • Andrew G.
          • Ignorant Amos

            Neither can a single person attest to a genuine first hand eyewitness instance of Caesar crossing the Rubicon, including the oldest manuscript which recounts the crossing, which is separated from it by a thousand years.

            I'm happy enough to concede Caesar didn't cross the Rubicon based on the historical archive..that he was a real person is not contested. Historians of old were notoriously unreliable and told their history from political perspectives. Dio Cassius and Plutarch on Cleopatra are prime examples historical licence.

            .

            The NT, on the other hand, includes documents written by eyewitnesses,...

            Say it till ya are blue in the face, but it just isn't the case.

            ...and that provides us an excellent basis upon which to assess the remarkable claim of a Resurrection.

            "A" resurrection> Glad you admitted that such claims were ten a penny in antiquity. Disd you know Marvel comics claim Superman can fly....among others?

            Say it till ya are blue in the face, but it just isn't the case.

            Unless ya have evidence....got evidence?

          • I think that it is significant that Julius Caesar wrote about things that happened contemporaneously, himself. We can read, today, what he thought about it in his own words in his native language. I wonder why Jesus did not think of that?

          • Ignorant Amos

            Myth's don't write about themselves...even if it is just all that mythical made up stuff.

          • Max Driffill

            Rick
            Um we cannot know any historical even with 100% certainty (like you exhibit when you proclaim, on terrible evidence that John the Apostle is the author of the Gospel that bears that name).

            Using your methods of granting extreme hearsay, we have to credit the H'addith as true and reliable, and probably whole reams of other mythologies. I am ready for the study of the historical Hercules.

          • Actually, we do not, Max.

            The claims of the Gospels involve certain specific predictions, concerning the historical development of the catholic Church, written centuries before these events occurred, and they did occur.

            This is, of course, exactly as supernatural as the initial report of a Resurrection, and serve to reinforce the strictly empirical evidence, based on the extraordinarily greater degree of dissemination of these Gospels over any document of antiquity, that the Founder's claims of supernatural power, which are evidenced both in His Resurrection, and in the subsequent universal and civilization-creating development of His Church, are historically verified.

            I am delighted to hear your case for Hercules.

            I was not aware he had claimed a Resurrection, much less to have founded a supernaturally-protected society which would spread throughout the world and endure to the end of time.

            Ditto for the H'addith.

            Over to you.

          • It is John, "that disciple who giveth testimony of these things, and
            hath written these things; and we know that his testimony is true."

            Is John the Evangelist saying, "We know that his testimony is true," referring to himself in the third person?

          • Certainly.

            Just as we know Rick.

            He told us he was a hardhead, a few posts ago.

            And we know his testimony is true, don't we, Mr. Nickol?

          • Max Driffill

            Rick,

            Prime is correct here. We don't know who the author is. Most scholars tend to think it was not John, but that it is part of Johaninne tradition and community. For an interesting overview:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John

          • Max:

            I have provided the direct testimony of Irenaeus, who reports the direct testimony of Polycarp, who received directly from John himself, the intelligence that John himself authored the Gospel, unsurprisingly, known as "John's Gospel".

            This is evidence.

            The speculations of scholars two millenia removed from the events does not constitute evidence.

            It constitutes opinion.

          • Max Driffill

            Rick,
            Irenaeus is reporting hearsay. And hearsay evidence isn't compelling.

          • Max Driffill

            Rick,
            I should point out that while it is indeed opinion, it is expert opinion by scholars who are experts in greek, Aramaic, Latin etc. Who spend their every waking moment with the text in question, as well as with numerous ancient versions and translations.
            Your opinion is not so informed as that, and not really to be trusted as it seems to dig on hearsay evidence.

          • Thank you, Max.

            Your neurons have agreed that the evidence establishes John's authorship, and the expert opinions contest it.

            This brings to its logical conclusion our examination of the question, it would appear.

          • Max Driffill

            Actually Rick this is untrue. I did no such thing.

            It isn't eye-witness testimony not about the authorship of John and probably not about the John itself.

            Concerning your "convincing evidence" John's authorship of the Gospel of John. What you have offered is not eye witness testimony. It is hearsay, second and third hand reporting. This is even more unreliable than eye witness testimony.

            We don't know that much about John the Apostle, but it seems it is possible that his life overlapped, barely with that of Polycarp, but this overlap would probably not have been long. John would have been nearly the same age as Jesus and thus not much longer for the world if his life ended on the average (around 40-50 yrs old) for that period. Polycarp wasn't born until 69 AD, which would have made John around 60-65 at the time of Polycarp's birth (this is, assuming John was still alive) So Polycarp may have met John, but it would have been as a young man. How accurate were his recollections? Was it really John the Apostle that he heard? These are reasonable questions, which Ireneaus never asked,because he only heard Polycarp speak as a young man himself as their dates don't overlap exceedingly well.

            So we have a claim that John wrote the gospel that bears that name, but no from John, and not from Polycarp, but from Ireneaus claim such. This not a first hand account in the slightest. It isn't eye witness testimony. It is second and third hand hearsay.

            There is no way to corroborate Ireneaus, and some reason to doubt the veracity of the claim however much he may have believed Polycarp, or however much Polycarp may have believed what he said when he said it.

            Not the slam dunk you were hoping for Rick sorry.

            Dates:

            John the Apostle AD 6 -?? AD Church tradition holds he out lived all the other apostles, but we have no way to verify it.

            Polycarp: AD 69-155 Polycarp it might be noted was a disciple of John the Evangelist, and there is some debate about whether or not John the Evangelist is the same person as John the Apostle. So it is possible that Polycarp was not talking of John the Apostle, though he may have thought he was, or was mistaken. Or, he was talking John the apostle. I'm not sure the historical record can help here.

            Ireneaus: AD ??-202 We don't have any concrete dates for his birth. Some scholars put it as early as AD 115-to as late as AD 142. He was a hearer of Polycarp, not a friend or someone it appears who was able to perform any kind of detailed interview with him.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Science is something which by its nature requires checking over and over. It is constantly dealing with new knowledge.

          It is also not true that no religion checks itself. That is a gross misrepresentation of world religions. Some don't even have formal doctrines. Others have no need to check their doctrines because they are based on things that don't change. For example, Buddhists see desire as the basis of suffering. What needs to be "checked" about that?

          Protestantism *is* a religion which checks itself. That is why there are 10,000 denominations.

          • primenumbers

            Protestantism is part of Christianity. It's Christianity that has the splinters.

            What needs to be checked? Everything. Why - to see if it's true! If you're looking for truth you check, check, and check again and re-evaluate. If Christianity had a reliable method of checking religious statements there'd be no splintering, and if religion in general had such a method there'd be one religion or none.

      • Howard

        Rationalist1,
        If you eliminate philosophy from the discussion of what can be “known” and enter the arguments of those who reject religion, the main claim is that God cannot be proven in the same way an observation can prove a physical law or theory.

        True there is the claim of open-mindedness, a claim of lack of final acceptance and belief in the truth of a scientific assertion, but, we go along happily TEACHING and using physical laws as if they will be always true. When a future search reveals that we have accepted a falsehood, there is no rational reaction except to change our views. Those who have been very outspoken in the past and fight the newer knowledge will be ridiculed. This is not a superior method that pure scientists use, it is just being human and trying to pick those things that can have more certainty than others to speak of or use confidently. Applied science has to be certain and have confidence in knowing for sure if it’s products are to be created – often at great cost of money and life if wrong.

        Just as God created the universe, He gave us laws. When I meet Him and find I have misinterpreted some of them, I will also change my mind and admit to being wrong.

      • Martin Snigg

        To actually do science you have to assume something persists despite change, absolute flux (Heraclitus) or illusory flux (Parmenides) undermines the foundation of the scientific project - that there is an underlying logos that can be discovered, a nature, that persists amidst change. This is a certainty. Theism is the only way to account for this working certainty. If the validity of the methods of scientific investigation are uncontested then, under atheistic naturalism[sic], these working certainties are unprincipled exceptions to this atheistic worldview.

      • Did you see this Rationalist1? Scientists studied scientism, and found that the "belief in science" increases in a secular context when people are under stress. Especially note Table 1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103113001042

        • VelikaBuna
        • Rationalist1

          I agree with most of the statements in Table 1. In times of stress one relies on what works and science can be very efficient, It't not perfect but if you're experiencing a serious illness, unless your a follower of Mary Baker Eddy, you see scientific medical help.

          • Michael Murray

            Abstract

            Growing evidence indicates that religious belief helps individuals to cope with stress and anxiety. But is this effect specific to supernatural beliefs, or is it a more general function of belief — including belief in science? We developed a measure of belief in science and conducted two experiments in which we manipulated stress and existential anxiety. In Experiment 1, we assessed rowers about to compete (high-stress condition) and rowers at a training session (low-stress condition). As predicted, rowers in the high-stress group reported greater belief in science. In Experiment 2, participants primed with mortality (vs. participants in a control condition) reported greater belief in science. In both experiments, belief in science was negatively correlated with religiosity. Thus, some secular individuals may use science as a form of “faith” that helps them to deal with stressful and anxiety-provoking situations.

            Short version: "Science proves it doesn't matter what you believe in".

            I can live with that.

          • Science proves scientism is real.

          • Howard

            Actually your conclusion does not consider the end game, or injuries along the way. The study shows the human need for faith, but does not attempt to investigate those beliefs that are the subject of faith.

          • Rationalist1

            I found when I switched from being a believer to non believer, initially there was an instinctive response to pray in a stressful situation. Instead I spent that time thinking through my options and knowing that I can handle this myself and with the help of family and friends.

          • Which statements specifically? Do you believe that all the tasks humans face are solvable by science?

          • Rationalist1

            Saying all task humans face are solvable by science is a bit presumptuous. I wouldn't like to bet which ones science can't solve as I never thought science would do many thinks but it has but to say everything is solvable is unwarranted.

    • Thank you Howard. I've read Pascendi. Pope Pius X pulls no punches. Modernism - the "synthesis of all heresies."

  • Rationalist1

    People who practice Science and Religion may be able to get together and make a meal, conduct an experiment and be friends but the two fields are perhaps not ontologically different but are certainly methodologically different.

    To see the difference ask these questions which I've done this many times to scientists in different fields and to believers in different religions.

    Ask a scientist to name ways in which science has been wrong in its fundamental assertions. They start listing ways. Stop them and ask how their particular branch of science has been wrong in its teachings in the past. They'll keep listing ways without stopping. It doesn't matter if the scientist is a biologist, chemist, geologist, whatever, they find fault.

    Ask a religious person how religions have been wrong in the past and they'll start listing all sorts of ways. Stop them and ask then to list only errors in their own denomination's teaching and you'll hear silence. It doesn't matter if you ask a Catholic, a Baptist, a Jehovah's Witness, whatever, they never find faulty.

    To me that's why it's chalk and cheese here.

    • Randy Gritter

      Most protestants can't name an error from their denomination because they don't know their own history. When I was a protestant I accepted contraception but I simply didn't know that my denomination had opposed it for most of its history.

      Catholics believe in error.They just don't believe the church has taught anything with its full authority that was wrong. That is because the church at its heart is a God thing. It is not a purely human endeavor. All sciences and all protestant denominations claim to be merely human efforts. So a Catholic can believe that the inquisition was an error. They can't believe the council of Trent got justification wrong. Not because Catholics are so smart but because God would not let us get something that fundamental wrong. The gospel is the power for God for salvation. He won't let us mess it up.

      • Rationalist1

        While I will certainly agree that science is solely a human effort, can you get any protestant to agree that their denomination is "merely [a] human effort"? Your answer is typical of what I get.

        • Randy Gritter

          Protestants are a bit inconsistent on the point. As a matter of doctrine they believe their denomination is just a human institution. It can make errors even on fundamental matters. In practice they don't believe that. They really believe their church has the key issues right. They will deny infallibility but they won't allow for error either.

          The truth is that we can't put something in the center of our lives unless we are convinced it is true. Even secular people need to be sure before they can be fully committed. Catholicism offers it. Others need to manufacture it. That is where you get fundamentalism. People pick certain fundamentals and treat them as infallible (but don't use the word because it is too Catholic).

      • FairPlay

        Does this mean that it is not possible for Catholics to believe that the doctrine may have got it wrong when it comes to the use of condoms? Or does that not receive the full authority of the church? Does every Catholic think that preventing spread of AIDS in Africa through encouraging condom use is wrong?

        • Randy Gritter

          Opposing artificial contraception has been the teaching of the church for a long time. Even during the Roman empire they talked about contraception, abortion and infanticide as 3 things Romans society accepted and Christianity opposed.

          It is not a matter of what every Catholic thinks. It s what God is saying through His church. Pope Paul VI and John Paul II made strong statements on the issue. Pope Benedict has affirmed the position several times. Don't expect the church to change on it.

          • FairPlay

            That makes me quite sad. I think that it is something that non-Catholics will always struggle to understand about Catholic doctrine. From the outside, it is hard to fathom how such a benefit to humanity can be seen as wrong. Do you really think that producing children that are born to suffer is the will of God?

          • Do you really think you are omniscient, to know which child should and should not live?

            Bunk.

          • FairPlay

            Of course not. But I don't believe anyone, or any deity is either. Therefore I think that we should reduce suffering wherever we can, because we have that ability.

          • In other words, you deny that God could know, and you deny that you could know, and yet you propose that the sensible thing to do is to kill the child.

            Murderous and savage evil.

          • FairPlay

            How is preventing conception killing a child? If the sperm and egg can never meet, there is no child who could be born, innocently infected with a deadly virus. Or indeed, a child born whose parents cannot provide for it. You cannot murder what has never existed.

          • My apologies, I misrepresented your argument.

            I restate:

            "In other words, you deny that God could know, and you deny that you could know, and yet you propose that the sensible thing to do is to close off the possibility of a child entering into life.

            Drastically and irredeemably pessimistic, and the very essence of the Culture of Death.

          • Randy Gritter

            Have you looked at the numbers? There are many secular studies that show condom distribution has been anything but effective in preventing AIDS. Certainly countries with Catholic or Muslim populations that have opposed condoms have not done worse in the fight against AIDS.

        • Contraception is fully and infallibly known to be contrary to the ends of the conjugal act; it is therefore disordered in its every application.

          The contrary AIDS in Africa argument would be a claim to be evaluated under the principle of double effect- that a given act is permissible, given its proportionate value, even though it might involve harming some other good.

          Contraception fails the first test of the principle of double effect:

          the nature of the act is itself good, or at least morally neutral;
          the agent intends the good effect and not the bad either as a means to the good or as an end itself;
          the good effect outweighs the bad effect in circumstances sufficiently grave to justify causing the bad effect and the agent exercises due diligence to minimize the harm.

          • Contraception is fully and infallibly known to be contrary to the ends
            of the conjugal act; it is therefore disordered in its every
            application.

            Using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV is not "contraception."

            The Church has not taught that it is immoral to use condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV. At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, a study was done by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care both on the effectiveness and the morality of the use of condoms to prevent HIV transmission in sero-discordant married couples (that is, couples in which one spouse is infected and the other is not). Note this news story:

            Rome, Italy, Nov 22, 2006 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, announced on Tuesday his dicastery has finished a study on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.

            During press conference the Mexican cardinal said the study, which was requested by Pope Benedict XVI, is now in the hands of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Our dicastery does not deal with doctrinal matters, only those that are pastoral,” he said. Therefore the study has been passed on to the CDF for a final decision.

            Cardinal Barragan said the study looks at the scientific, theological and moral aspects of the issue. . . .

            The last news about the study was that it had been given to the pope. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been mentioned by any Vatican source since then.

            The Church does not tell those engaging in illicit sex not to use condoms. It is basically the position of the Church that if people are going to do something wrong, the message of the Church is, "Don't do something wrong." Therefore, for those engaging in illicit (and risky) sex, the message of the Church is, "Don't engage in illicit (and risky) sex." The Church does not say, "If you are going to engage in illicit and risky sex, at least use a condom." But neither does it say, "If you are going to engage in illicit and risky sex, don't use a condom." The Church does not teach that using a condom for illicit sex compounds the sin of having illicit sex."

          • Rationalist1

            Is artificial Contraception an intrinsic evil or not. If it is, then using artificial contraception by a heterosexual married couple can never be justified, according to Catholic ethical teaching.

            If artificial contraception is not an intrinsic evil, then it can be justified in some circumstances.

          • It is an intrinsic evil, and can never be justified under any circumstances.

            CCC 2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

          • To the contrary.

            The Catholic Church teaches as infallible under the ordinary magisterium, that contraception is intrinsically evil, and this applies to every act of sexual intercourse:

            "Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)"

            Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae

            Your will wait in vain for any reversal of this teaching, which is an expression of the ordinary magisterium of the Catholic Church, and is not susceptible of reversal by any means whatever.

          • is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means

            Condom use to prevent transmission of HIV is not specifically intended to prevent procreation," just as use of the pill to treat endometriosis is not specifically intended to prevent procreation. They both do, but they are not specifically intended to. The fact that Benedict XVI commissioned a study of both the effectiveness and the morality clearly indicates that, at the time at least, there was no airtight case against condom use by sero-discordant married couples.

            Note, by the way, that sero-discordant married couples can include couples who are past their childbearing years. It is impossible for those incapable of having children to do anything "specifically intended to prevent procreation," since there is nothing to prevent.

            I must say that your posts on Catholic doctrine make it sound like Catholicism is a sterile, inflexible list of rules culled from various documents over the centuries to which blind obedience is demanded. It is cold, cerebral, and inhumane and without any hint of nuance. Why anyone would be drawn to your personal brand of Catholicism is beyond me. I would say any visitor to this site who is not already a Catholic and who takes your pontifications on dogma seriously would be repelled by the thought of even giving Catholicism a second thought.

        • Rationalist1

          "Does this mean that it is not possible for Catholics to believe that the doctrine may have got it wrong when it comes to the use of condoms?"

          According to the Church, Catholics are required to believe all magisterial teaching of the Church that pertain to ethics and doctrine.

          "Or does that not receive the full authority of the church? "

          That will probablyby the line a few decades from now when Catholic apologists arge that the Church was never against condom usage persey.

          "Does every Catholic think that preventing spread of AIDS in Africa through encouraging condom use is wrong?"
          No, most don't.

          • I counter predict.

            The Catholic Church will never abandon Her Lord's teaching, and it is folly to continue in the weary paths of those who have triumphantly expected to dance on her grave.

            The Church has buried them all, and prays for them.

    • It is certainly the case that either all religions are false, or else all but one are.

      This does not mean that everything flase religions teach is false.

      Only that one religion- at most- can authenticate its claims to be in possession of a direct revelation from God.

      Unsurprisingly, the Catholic Church- the only universal, and still by far the largest, religious communion in the history of the world, is that one.

      It is certainly the case that false religions ought to constantly use their reason to try and make their man-made religion as reasonable as possible.

      It were unutterable blasphemy to propose that the true religion should do so.

      • FairPlay

        Has it ever occurred to you that all religions might be manmade?

        • See above, Fair:

          Either all religions are false, or all but one are.

          The Catholic proposes that all but one are.

          • FairPlay

            Of course, but followers of every other religion think the same. This is why there is the danger of religion leading to intolerance of others. My religion is right, so yours must be wrong. I like to think that my lack of religion allows me to look at everyone as having potentially an equally valid viewpoint.

          • Your lack of religion certainly allows you to look at everyone without a prior religious orientation.

            It does not allow you to look at them as having, even potentially, an equally valid viewpoint.

            The reason is that you will notice directly contradictory claims being advanced by different religious groups.

            They cannot both be equally valid.

            It is possible they are both invalid.

            Even unequally invalid.

            But two directly contradictory assertions as to the same object at the same time, cannot both be true.

            A bit of Aristotle that the Church picked up along Her way, recognizing in it a tiny seed of Her treasure, which the Holy Spirit had spread abroad as preparation for the Gospel.

          • FairPlay

            A very convincing point Rick. I am now more firmly convinced than ever that all religions are false, just that some are more tolerant than others. It is a shame that you have made the Catholic faith look particularly unattractive and intolerant to others, but I won't judge a whole religion on the basis of one respondent.

          • It is a very wise conclusion for the atheist to arrive at, and that quite early on, that the atheist need fear no religion on Earth but one.

            You have learned well.

          • Randy Gritter

            How is asserting that all religions are false leave everyone with an equally valid viewpoint? Would not those that agree with you about that have a more valid view? Could one not become intolerant of religion? Especially when making statements about absolute morality is something you find to be absolutely immoral. Then tolerance demands you become intolerant of such people,

          • An excellent point, Randy. "Tolerance", in the mouth of an atheist, ultimately comes to mean tolerance for that with which the atheist can cut a deal.

            There is no cutting a deal with the Catholics, on dogma.

            They will die in numbers before surrendering the Faith.

            This is an empirical truth of history, without which the emergence of European civilization cannot be explained adequately.

          • FairPlay

            The key word I used was potentially. This means that I can accept people's viewpoints as valid, if I feel that their argument is well made, and has evidence of clear thought. I could not accept an argument on basis of "my church/the Pope/my immam says so". If a Moslem friend gave me a good argument on their views, I can give it as much respect as my Catholic friend, or Buddist friend. The respect depends on the validity of their argument, not their religious doctrine. Personally I think this comes easier to people of no religion, but that is based on observation of comments on such sites as this.

          • Randy Gritter

            Actually that kind of acceptance is required of all Catholics. We must listen to people who reject Catholicism and listen expecting to learn something about God that we don't already know. Every person, atheists included, knows God in his own heart. So even the holiest Catholic can learn about God from the worst atheist.

            I can't say we all listen that well but it is the teaching of the church that we should.

          • The dogmas of the Catholic Faith are not subject to the investigation, review, approval, or disapproval of human reason in any way at all.

            This is a scandalous truth, especially to the modern mind.

            It is the very essence of the Faith, and the very essence of its immunity to homogenization into any Pantheon, whether of Rome or the New World Order.

            It is very good for the dialogue to continue, because it is growing late for this civilization.

            As many as can be persuaded ought to board the Ark.

            Soon.

          • Randy Gritter

            Who said anything about rejecting the dogmas of the faith? What I said in that post is a dogma of the faith. It is in Vatican II. We listen. We know we won't discover the virgin birth is false. But we listen expecting to learn. This person's experience of living can give them insights we would not otherwise have. This is because God is real and He does not just talk to Catholics.

          • Who said anything about you having rejected any dogma of the Faith?

            I am honestly intrigued to know better why you felt yourself to be the target of my words.....

          • Randy Gritter

            Because Discus said your comment was in reply to mine. Maybe you just clicked the wrong "Reply" button.

          • Ah.

            No, I was attempting to respond to FairPlay.

            Apologies for the confusion.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Calm down, R.

            We welcome anyone who wishes rationally to investigate the claims of the Catholic faith. We are just not going to change Catholic teachings because someone doesn't like them or thinks if he were God they would be different.

          • Do I strike you as uncalm, Kevin?

            Perhaps, instead, you find yourself made uncomfortable by the simple statement, so scandalous to the modern mind, that the Catholic Faith is not something to be negotiated with our atheist friends.

            May I say, in such a case, I am happy to offend.....

          • Kevin Aldrich

            A principle of dialogue is respect, which I fail at myself a lot.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think Randy pointed out the fallacy of thinking yourself "balanced" by not having a viewpoint (which is a viewpoint).

            It's like the 60's dictum, "Question authority" (expect the authority that says to question authority), or "Everything's relative" (except this statement which is absolute).

            But yeah, "respect depends on the validity of their argument" absolutely.

          • GreatSilence

            It is also possible that (a) God exists and (b) he regards all forms of religion as fair expressions of human faith, and that He is ok with all of them, hence all religions are true / not-false.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          This has occurred to many Catholics, who are able to answer the question to their satisfaction.

          • FairPlay

            I am more interested in how and why they have come to that conclusion. When you see it written down, the assertion that my religion is real and the rest are man-made looks incredibly arrogant. Where does this certainty come from. As someone who is married to an ex-Catholic, and having very devout C of E parents myself, I cannot see how any one religion can make this assertion. I'll stick with all of them being man-made, as that makes the most rational sense to me.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            FairPlay, let's be rational.

            How does your being an atheist, your spouse being an ex-Catholic, and your having Anglican parents have any bearing on question of which religion, if any, is true?

            The Catholic faith, for one, does not make the bald assertion that every other religion besides itself is man-made. For example, the Catholic Church sees the Orthodox Churches as real churches. It sees other baptized Christians (Protestants) as separated brethren. It sees other non-Christian religions as containing in themselves elements of truth. It just claims that it has the fullness of truth as a gift.

          • The Catholic faith, for one, does not make the bald assertion that every other religion besides itself is man-made.

            This is absolutely true, and FairPlay is just wrong, so I am not sure why this response received a down vote. (It would be interesting to see the names of those who vote down and not just those who vote up.)

            One the other hand, much as I admire the spirit of Nostra Aetate, this sentence bothers me: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions." Why would any religion that values truth and holiness reject the true and holy in any other religion? It is like saying, "I completely agree with you . . . when you agree with me."

            In any case, FairPlay is just wrong. I normally don't vote. I think it is kind of silly. But I am giving you an up vote!

          • VelikaBuna

            Voting is something designed to make atheists feel good, because it gives them sense of direction, I can see how they all like to vote down Rick DeLano, although the man makes perfect sense.

          • Michael Murray

            Yes. Why didn't I see that. I don't need to kill myself because my life lacks purpose. I can vote up or down on StrangeNotions. That is my purpose. I live to vote. I vote to live.

            I voted you down. Sorry. I had to.

          • VelikaBuna

            Did you make that choice freely or as a result of complex interactions of matter, where the choice was not real but only an illusion?

          • Michael Murray

            Complex interactions of matter of course.

          • VelikaBuna

            So makes no sense what you just did, because there is no free choice or free will. Yet oddly enough you feel some irrational sense of accomplishment. Why is that?

          • Michael Murray

            Sure. That's the the question. Why do we feel like we have free will even though we clearly don't. I don't know.

          • I love the way your neurons admit to the their inadequacy to bring their assertions into agreement with their experiences.

            Is there neuron therapy?

          • So free thought is an illusion too?

          • So free thought is an illusion too?

            Certainly in some cases it is. People who are given post-hypnotic suggestions to perform a specific action triggered by a cue will invent reasons for their actions. For example, a man who is given a post-hypnotic suggestion to open a window when he is given a cue will, when he complies with the suggestion, give a reason for his action. When asked why he opened the window, he won't say, I don't know. He'll say something like, "I thought it was getting stuffy in here."

            Split-brain experiments show that people will rationalize with the speech half of their brain actions they take because of stimuli presented to the other half of their brain. Here is a link to an example. And here is a quote about the phenomenon:

            This is an example of a rationalization - a rational but false explanation. It occurs so smoothly and quickly that it suggests rationalization of mysterious brain activity is a well-developed talent in humans. Perhaps we often have no idea why a thought or feeling occurs to us. If we have to explain our behavior, we simply make up something that sounds reasonable.

            I think many of the religious people here believe that the atheists are really atheists for reasons other than the ones they give here, no matter how honestly and sincerely the atheists are trying to report their thoughts and feelings. And I suspect many of the atheists here believe this is true of the religious people. We all suspect that people don't really believe the positions they claim (no matter how honest and sincere they think they are being), but that they are influenced by something outside their consciousness.

          • Michael Murray

            That seems to be what modern science suggests. It's not my area of expertise. All I know is that it's clear that the assumption many people make that "it must be how it appears or how it feels" when applied to our minds is wrong. You can see that in simple things like vision where our assumption that we have a space and time continuous rich field of vision is false. So I can well imagine that consciousness, free will, free thought, which are a lot more complicated than vision, suffer likewise.

          • "That seems to be what modern science suggests."

            >> Really? Cool. Let me help these poor guys out.

            I shall now type a sentence and I shall end it with a........well, let me see here, I shall end it with an exclamation point!

            'Now.

            I could have ended it with a period, as I shall end this one.

            But I chose not to.

            Please make sure the geniuses get the memo.

          • Max Driffill

            Actually he doesn't. And he makes even less sense, but is the champion of non sequitur, at his blog.

          • Your neurons are really good at assertion, but they seem to need some more synapses when it comes to demonstration.

            But you have no choice in the matter, so it must be treated as a belch, I guess....

          • Max Driffill

            A hot belch of truth.

          • The neurons belch truth?

            What about the other neurons that belch the contrary?

            How shall the neurons confer amongst themselves, to determine which configuration of neurons is true?

          • Max Driffill

            Also,
            Do you know anything about brain organization? It seems as if you don't.

          • Michael Murray

            And he apparently know nothing about the study of consciousness.

          • How could your neurons know anything about themselves, since they are not free to choose between two options in describing themselves to themselves, but are fully determined in their configurations by..........

            what, exactly?

          • Max Driffill

            But he does know words like synapse and neuron, and that has to count for something.

          • It is, apparently, merely a configuration of neurons, that cannot possibly count for anything, right?

            Why should any particular configuration of neurons "count for something", anyway?

            Our atheist friends do not seem noticeably eager to address these questions, do they?

          • Invitation extended to rational souls, to assess whether Max's neurons have belched the truth here:

            Belching configurations of neurons also welcome.......

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2013/05/another-day-another-anti-copernican.html

          • Max Driffill

            I'm not sure its something I can grasp, apparently I may need more, what did you suggest, synapses? Which might mean I need more neurons, or it might mean some deficiency in my dendrites, its all very difficult to say, since brains are, according to Rick, just a mess of disorganized neurons. Well thank Zeus for souls I guess.

          • Yes, Max, your neurons do not seem capable of accounting for their belches, and what is much worse, seem to be schizophrenic, in that they simultaneously assert, and deny, the existence of a neuron configuration that answers to the signification "truth".

            It is a disastrously absurd thicket of illogic into which your neurons have plunged you, isn't it, Max?

          • Max Driffill

            Do neurons contain truth?

          • You have said so, Max.

          • Max Driffill

            Can they discern truth by themselves or must they utilize method like those found in science?

          • How do neurons discern anything, Max?

            What configuration of neurons corresponds to "discernment"?

          • I can see how they all like to vote down Rick DeLano, although the man makes perfect sense.

            Perfect sense?

            So you—and apparently Stacy Transancos—believe the sun revolves around the earth? You believe the human race descended from two and only two "first parents"? You believe Jews who don't convert to Catholicism will go to hell? How about aborted (and therefore unbaptized) babies? Do they go to hell, too?

          • "So you—and apparently Stacy Transancos—believe the sun revolves around the earth? "

            >> According to present scientific theory, there is no physical difference between the statements:

            1. The Sun revolves around the Earth
            2. The Earth revolves around the Sun

            It is completely established that the physics are identical under either postulate, under Relativity.

            "You believe the human race descended from two and only two "first parents"?

            >> If they don't, they do not hold the Catholic Faith.

            "You believe Jews who don't convert to Catholicism will go to hell?"

            >> If they don't, they do not hold the Catholic Faith.

            " How about aborted (and therefore unbaptized) babies? Do they go to hell, too?"

            >> Absent some unknown and unknowable intervention by God, for which we are always allowed to hope, they go to Limbo, a place of greater natural happiness than anything you have ever known, according to the ancient consensus of the Doctors of the Holy Catholic Church.

            What is absolutely certain, is that we are conceived in original sin, and absent regeneration, no human being will enter the kingdom of heaven.

            If there were five people in the world who stood firm on this point, then there would be five Catholics in the world.

          • according to the ancient consensus of the Doctors of the Holy Catholic Church

            Which—if true—still does not make the existence of Limbo or the belief that unbaptized babies go there an official teaching of the Catholic Church. There is no infallible teaching about the existence of Limbo, is that not correct?

          • VelikaBuna

            Yes until proven otherwise, yes until proven otherwise, maybe, don't know, but don't think aborted babies go to hell, because God is not bound by normative ways of salvation, that is why we believe many unbaptized before Christ established baptism as normative form of salvation, went to heaven.

          • I've considered the arguments for both heliocentrism and geocentrism, and the science is beyond me. I don't understand all of it. I can see how our observations tell us the earth is the center. I can see how mathematical models might indicate otherwise. I don't know. I'm not committed to either conclusion.

            I don't think it's fair to just dismiss the geocentrists as nuts though (as so many people do) without hearing their arguments.

            I do take exception to the notion that a good Catholic must be a geocentrist. I don't agree with that at all.

            Two parents? Yes, I believe that. It's dogma.

            Jews go to Hell? I don't know. I'm not God. I hope they do not.

            Unbaptized, unborn babies? I believe God is merciful and not bound by my limited human understanding. I've lost 5, and I never give up hope.

          • Rationalist1

            Stacy - Of course you accept the heliocentric solar system. The evidence for it is overwhelming and no one should doubt it, especially a erson as well educated as you. I truly hope it's not some legacy of preserving the Church's face in its smack down of Galileo.

            I'm sorry to hear about your lost children, I share your grief and you have my sympathy.

          • On that question I just say I don't know. Honestly, most days I find myself looking around my immediate surroundings thinking I couldn't care less whether the earth was the center of the world or not.

            And thank you. Sorry for your loss too.

          • Rationalist1

            On an immediate practical level it seems like it doesn't matter. But them we rely on satellites orbiting this planet to warn us of approaching storms and satellites orbiting th sun scanning for asteroids and warning us of solar flares (a concern for our communication satellites and electrical transmission grids). All of that requires accepting a heliocentric theory and all of that matters.

          • Rationalist, you are apparently unaware of the fact that the entire calculation in JPL's software, used by NASA in navigational control of both GPS *and* deep space probes, is done in the Earth Centered Inertial (ECI) frame.

            But this is indeed a *fact*.

            The fact, on its own, does not establish geocentrism as the abolsute frame; after all, if relativity is true, the calculations could, theoretically, be done from some other frame.

            But as a matter of empirical, engineering *fact*.....

            You simply do not have the slightest idea of what you are talking about here, and I have remedied an important gap in your knowledge concerning spacecraft navigation.

          • Rationalist1

            Gee Rick - I've actually done those calculations in a forth year classical mechanics course. We had to compute the trajectory of Voyager through the solar system especially the sling shot effect it got from Jupiter and the other planets. I got an "A" in the course. Do you think I know what I'm talking about. Do you have "the slightest idea of what you are talking about here"?

          • I acknowledge you could care less, Stacy.

            Of course, the atheist movement depends completely upon the myth that the Church has been proven wrong in Her magisterial acts concerning geocentrism.

            In the end, there is simply no getting around the fact that the restoration of the Church in the minds of men depends, *absolutely*, upon a generation of Catholics arising with the courage and knowledge to demonstrate the falsity of the atheist claim *on scientific grounds alone*.

            Otherwise, why on earth should the atheist not assume that, having proven an error concerning the interpretation of Scripture by the magisterium on geocentrism, other errors cannot similarly be established, ultimately, concerning, say....

            Contraception
            Women's ordination
            Celibate priesthood
            Inerrancy of Scripture
            Original Sin

            In the end God will raise up his hardheads, Stacy, and you will be very uncomfortable with them.

            More uncomfortable than you are now.

          • Geocentrism is not what will save the Church, but I admire your passion.

          • Geocentrism is not a dogma of the Faith, Stacy.

            The inerrancy of Scripture is.

            The inadmissibility of any interpretation of Scripture in contradiction to a unanimous interpretation of the Fathers is.

            As the catastrophe continues to devastate the vineyard, I invite you to consider this.

            If the Popes, the Holy Office, and the Saints, Doctors, Fathers were in error in affirming geocentrism, then it logically follows that the Popes, Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith, and theologians being formed in the seminaries of the conciliar era can also be wrong in denying it.

            As St. Bellarmine very wisely foresaw, such a condition is catastrophic.

            We live, today, as witnesses to the catastrophe.

            It will end.

            God will raise up his hardheads.

          • As St. Bellarmine very wisely foresaw, such a condition is catastrophic.

            We live, today, as witnesses to the catastrophe.

            Is this statement by John Paul II part of the catastrophe?

            Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture....

            Was John Paul II in at least denying the inerrancy of scripture?

          • It was apparently Fr. Jaki who wrote these words, and the Pope delivered them as an allocution, not to the Church, but to the PAS.

            Therefore it cannot, in any way, reverse, derogate, or set aside magisterial teaching at the higher levels we see exercised in the Galileo affair.

            The author is subtle enough to refer to unidentified "theologians".

            The fact of the matter is that the Popes, the Saints, and the Holy Office upheld precisely those things the allocution identifies as "error".

            This is a catastrophe, since, logically, if the Popes, Saints, and Holy Office could have been in error in the 17th century, so could the Pope have been in error in the 20th century.

            Even more so, since the level of magisterial authority attached to the actions of the 16th century is much higher.

            It is a disaster.

            It will end.

            God will raise up His hardheads.

          • But (assuming you are correct) how would you characterize the actions of Fr. Jaki in writing the words, and Pope John Paul II in reading them to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as if, apparently, they were his own? I certainly acknowledge that John Paul II was not speaking infallibly, or speaking to or for the Church. Suppose he was speaking publicly but in his private capacity as Karol Jozef Wojtyla. Certainly if speaking in that manner he said something like, "Jesus didn't really rise from the dead, but merely lived on in the hearts and minds of his followers," that would not change in any way the teachings of the Church, but it would be astounding and catastrophic. Are you saying that giving in to heliocentrism in his private capacity who just happens to be pope is insignificant? Or are you including his statement regarding heliocentrism as part of the catastrophe you are talking about?

          • "Jews go to Hell? I don't know. I'm not God. I hope they do not."

            >> If you do not believe the following, God-affirmed, infallible, irreformable dogma, then you are not Catholic.

            It is an uncomfortable truth.

            God wishes you to know this day, Stacy, that:

            "The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives..."
            (Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, 1441, ex cathedra)

          • Rationalist1

            Ad you want to worship a God like that?

          • The God I worship will be vindicated in all of His judgements, Rationalist.

            Atheism is a dead end in each and all of its applications.

            In terms of the final state of outcome of one's life lived as an atheist.....

            Horrifyingly so.

          • From Pope Francis' encyclical available today. We worship God who is Truth and Love, far, far more perfect than we can ever comprehend.

            "Love cannot be reduced to an ephemeral emotion. True, it engages our affectivity, but in order to open it to the beloved and thus to blaze a trail leading away from self-centredness and towards another person, in order to build a lasting relationship; love aims at union with the beloved. Here we begin to see how love requires truth. Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey. If love is not tied to truth, it falls prey to fickle emotions and cannot stand the test of time. True love, on the other hand, unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light pointing the way to a great and fulfilled life. Without truth, love is incapable of establishing a firm bond; it cannot liberate our isolated ego or redeem it from the fleeting moment in order to create life and bear fruit.

            If love needs truth, truth also needs love. Love and truth are inseparable." - Pope Francis, ‎LumenFidei

          • I've considered the arguments for both heliocentrism and geocentrism, and the science is beyond me. . . . I don't know. I'm not committed to either conclusion.

            So the fact that NASA or virtually every astronomy textbook in the world says the earth revolves around the sun is not enough to tip you toward heliocentrism because the math is beyond you? The fact that Pope John Paul II said Galileo was right and the error of the theologians of Galileo's day, "when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture...."?

          • NASA can make no such claim.

            NASA controls its spacecraft- both GPS and deep space probes- with JPL-supplied software which does the entire calculation in the Earth Centered Inertial (ECI) frame.

            Textbooks which assert an absolute motion of Earth around Sun are nothing but indoctrination tools designed to inculcate a preferred world view by which the catholic Church can be bludgeoned later on.

            John Paul II never said Galileo was right as to the science- that would have made Him a dummy.

            John Paul II said that Galileo was a better theologian than the Popes, the Holy Office, and St. Robert Bellarmine.

            That opinion is catastrophic on many levels, but it certainly is not Catholic doctrine.

            Thank God.

            It would be horrifying were the Church to assert doctrinally that the Church was in doctrinal error, just in time to have the rug pulled out from under Her feet by the very science which some, apparently, find more reliable and trustworthy than the theology of the Catholic Church since the time of the Fathers.

            Science has a way of shifting on these matters......

          • NASA can make no such claim.

            Check out Launch a Rocket from a Spinning Planet, an educational explanation and activity for kids, on the NASA web site. It says in part:

            Earth goes around the sun at a brisk 107,000 kilometers per hour (66,000 miles per hour)! If our interplanetary spacecraft is aimed in the same direction Earth is already going, it will get a big head start.

            Also, Earth rotates eastward on its axis, one complete turn each day. At the equator, Earth's surface is rotating at 1675 kilometers per hour (1041 miles per hour)! So if we launch the rocket toward the east, it will get another big boost from Earth's rotational motion.

            Now, we launch eastward. We pick the time of launch (in Deep Space 1's case, early morning) to give the rocket time to accelerate as it goes partway around Earth. Then, when the spacecraft is headed in the same direction as Earth's orbital motion around the sun, the rocket gives it a final boost out of Earth orbit and on its way.

            Using both the rotational motion of Earth on its axis and the orbital motion of Earth around the Sun, we can save a lot of fuel and a lot of time in getting to our far distant destination!

          • Here David, a bit of astronomy will also help you with this:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3RXa0GLeHI

          • "Earth goes around the sun at a brisk 107,000 kilometers per hour (66,000 miles per hour)! If our interplanetary spacecraft is aimed in the same direction Earth is already going, it will get a big head start."

            >> If you have any compassion in your heart for the poor, innocent victims of such absurdity, please contact NASA and point out to them that they are lying here.

            Jump.

            Go to a nice diving board and jump off it.

            Notice that you did not get a head start at 66,000 miles per hour in the direction of the Earth's orbit around the sun, before you hit the water.

            Neither does any satellite, ever, get any such head start.

            Notice further that, were the above absurdity true, then no plane could take off from Earth except in the direction of its orbit around the Sun, since it would have to achieve a velocity of 66,000 miles per hour in order not to move backwards.

            Un-be-lieveable.

            "Also, Earth rotates eastward on its axis, one complete turn each day. At the equator, Earth's surface is rotating at 1675 kilometers per hour (1041 miles per hour)! So if we launch the rocket toward the east, it will get another big boost from Earth's rotational motion."

            >> Wait a minute, How is 1,041mph another "big boost" against 66,000mph?

            It is instead a tiny boost.

            It is this second force which is *actually* measured at the surface of the Earth, as the centrifugal force associated with, indifferently:

            1. The rotation of the Earth on its axis every 23 hours and 56 minutes, or

            2. The rotation of the cosmos around the Earth every 23 hours and 56 minutes.

            As Einstein has already told you:

            “One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating fromthe motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.” --Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921

            "Now, we launch eastward."

            >> Wait a minute- I thought we had to launch in the direction of the Earth's orbit??? That direction is, manifestly, not always eastward.

            But the direction of relative rotation of Earth/cosmos, *is*, manifestly, always eastward.

            Which is another reason why, if you have any compassion at all for these poor youngsters, you will begin to oppose the truly despicable fraud which this government agency is perpetrating upon their innocent minds.

            "Then, when the spacecraft is headed in the same direction as Earth's orbital motion around the sun"

            >> Speechless. Literally speechless. These frauds first tell the kids we launch in the firection of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, and then tell us we have to first launch eastward, and *then* change the orientation to account for the direction of the Earth's orbit......

            Incredible.

            No wonder kids are so stupid these days.

          • I've considered the arguments for both heliocentrism and geocentrism, and the science is beyond me. I don't understand all of it. . . . I don't know. I'm not
            committed to either conclusion.

            With all due respect, I can't imagine how seriously the call, "Come, let us do science together," can be taken coming from someone who can't decide whether the earth revolves around the sun or the sun revolves around the earth!

            I don't think it's fair to just dismiss the geocentrists as nuts though (as so many people do) without hearing their arguments.

            But this is a matter that has been debated for over 350 years! It is not a matter of scientific controversy.

          • I know. You're a heretic if you don't and a dummy if you do. This is not an area where I am an expert. It's OK to say when you don't know something.

          • You're a heretic if you don't and a dummy if you do.

            You're right about the dummy part, but not about the heretic part. :-)

            Surely you don't believe that Pope John Paul II made heretical statements about the truth of heliocentrism and the error of the theologians who condemned Galileo, do you? Doesn't the "rehabilitation" of Galileo by the Church provide adequate cover for accepting heliocentrism?

          • I would never, ever put Blessed Pope John Paul II and _________ in the same sentence. (heretical)

            The Church has said it is acceptable to hold Copernican astronomy as true, and that was back in 1820 by Pope Pius VII. I have no problem with that, of course, but I tend to view the terms geocentric and heliocentric as models.

            I teach the kids that the planets orbit the sun and the earth rotates on an axis, so I guess that makes me in the heliocentric camp. But I also don't have a problem hearing what geocentrist have to say (at least until they start using the word "heretic").

          • In other words, Stacy, you won't listen to what theChurch had to say about the question in 1616 and 1633.

            Too bad.

            But there is a silver lining.

            The Relativity claim that absolute frames cannot be established is now in serious duress, since the CMB defines a preferred direction pointing directly at the Earth.

            Perhaps your children will live to see the day when it is affirmed that God is smarter than Einstein.

            I expect it would be much more difficult for you to come to live with the corollary, should Relativity fall, because in that case.......

            Saint Robert Bellarmine was right, and Blessed Pope John Paul II was wrong.

          • Rick, I have never called into question your faith, your intentions with your children, or your education. I've given you the benefit of the doubt. But you, you are mean-spirited. You have no right to question my faith or intentions.

            Men, including you, are not angels, and do not know everything at a glance.

          • 'Scuse me, ma'am, noone has questioned either your faith, or your intentions with your children, and I honestly do not care whether you give me the benefit of any doubt.

            If you consider the defense of Catholic dogma to be mean spirited, may I say that I do not receive this rebuke.

            I consider it to have been an emotional reaction on your part, a defense mechanism.

            Men, including you, are not angels, and can learn only by continuing to glance.

          • JP II never made any statement about any truth of heliocentrism.

            JP II's crucial statement involved asserting the superiority of Galileo as a theologian, over what in fact were the Popes, Saints, and Holy Office of the 17th century.

            This is problematic in the extreme, obviously, since if the Popes, Saints, and Holy Office of the 17th century were poorer theologians than Galileo, it follows that the Popes, Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, and theologians formed in post-conciliar seminaries could be poorer theologians than St. Robert Bellarmine.

            "Doesn't the "rehabilitation" of Galileo by the Church provide adequate cover for accepting heliocentrism?"

            >> Cover. An immensely helpful term, giving an insight into the entire process of disorientation, fuzzing, and calling into question the ancient and unanimous witness of the Fathers, Doctors, Saints, Popes, and Councils of the Catholic Church, all of which labored in darkness until the moderns came along to straighten us all out with science.

            Except the science shows Galileo was wrong.

            As a scientist.

            I suppose we shall have to see whether he was also wrong as a theologian.

            By their fruits you shall know them.

          • Yes, it is OK.

            On the other hand, the science is absolutely non-controversial.

            Physics; that is, relativistic physics as the current consensus upholds,

            Can.

            Not.

            Tell.

            Us.

            Whether.

            The.

            Earth.

            Is.

            Going.

            Around.

            The.

            Sun.

            The reason is this:

            Physics, that is, relativistic physics as the current consensus upholds, *depends absolutely upon the condition that there is no physical difference whatsoever between the two assertions*:

            1. The Earth is at rest and the Sun moves

            2. The Sun moves and the earth is at rest

            Now Einstein has al;ready told us this, I will reproduce other, affirmative statements of this *foundational* assumption of Relativity below:

            "...Thus we may return to Ptolemy's point of view of a 'motionless earth'...One has to show that the transformed metric can be regarded as produced according to Einstein's field equations, by distant rotating masses. This has been done by Thirring. He calculated a field due to a rotating, hollow, thick-walled sphere and proved that inside the cavity it behaved as though there were centrifugal and other inertial forces usually attributed to absolute space.

            Thus from Einstein's point of view, Ptolemy and Corpenicus are equally right."---Max Born

            ""We know that the difference between a heliocentric theory and a geocentric theory is one of relative motion only, and that such a difference has no physical significance."--- Fred Hoyle

            "“One need not view the existence of such centrifugal forces as originating fromthe motion of K’ [the Earth]; one could just as well account for them as resulting from the average rotational effect of distant, detectable masses as evidenced in the vicinity of K’ [the Earth], whereby K’ [the Earth] is treated as being at rest.” --Albert Einstein, quoted in Hans Thirring, “On the Effect of Distant Rotating Masses in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation”, Physikalische Zeitschrift 22, 29, 1921

            This is not rocket science, folks.

          • With all due respect, it is a matter of profound scientific illiteracy- it is much worse than that in your case, Mr. Nickol, since I have already provided the direct citations of the originator of the Theory of relativity- to assert that we can decide on any physical basis whatever that the Earth goes around the Sun.

            Physics cannot establish that.

            This has been known for a century and more.

            Einstein has already told you, and will tell you again:

            "The struggle, so violent in the early days of science, between the views of Ptolemy and Copernicus would then be quite meaningless. Either CS [coordinate system] could be used with equal justification. The two sentences, 'the sun is at rest and the earth moves', or 'the sun moves and the earth is at rest', would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different CS [coordinate systems]."

            ---"The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster 1938, 1966 p.212

            ***************************

            There is no scientific controversy about the meaning of Relativity for this question, Mr. Nickols, merely the habituated ignorant bullheadedness of folks who cannot believe the science they falsely purport to defend.

          • But the position of the Church was not that, depending on the coordinate system one chose, it was equally possible to say the earth moved around the sun and the sun moved around the earth. Galileo was condemned for saying the earth moved around the sun because, according to the Church, the earth was at the center of the "world," the earth did not move, and the sun moved around the earth. According to the quote you give, Galileo couldn't say he was right and the Church was wrong, but it was equally the case that the Church couldn't say Galileo was wrong and it was right.

          • "But the position of the Church was not that, depending on the coordinate system one chose, it was equally possible to say the earth moved around the sun and the sun moved around the earth."

            >> That is correct. In due course it can be shown that Relativity cannot, in fact, be true as a matter of metaphysics, or of theology.

            It might, however, be true as a matter of science; that is, science might turn out to be incapable of establishing any absolute motion by any of its techniques.

            Relativity does, however, deprive the heliocentrist of all of his "proofs", by which the Church was alleged to have been shown to be in error as a matter of *science* (philosophy, in the usage of the Holy Office).

            "Galileo was condemned for saying the earth moved around the sun because, according to the Church, the earth was at the center of the "world," the earth did not move, and the sun moved around the earth."

            >> More exactly, Galileo was condemned for saying the Earth was moving and not at the center of the world, but this was not condemned as formally heretical, but rather "absurd and false philosophically and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith."

            The proposition that the Sun was at the center of the world and did not move was condemned as "false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture."

            "According to the quote you give, Galileo couldn't say he was right and the Church was wrong,

            >> Agreed, both as to science *and* as to theology.

            "but it was equally the case that the Church couldn't say Galileo was wrong and it was right."

            >> No. The Church was, and is, quite capable of telling Galileo he was wrong as a matter of Scripture, since She did so and has never formally reversed this magisterial act, including, as has already been addressed, the allocution of Pope John Paul II to a group of scientists.

            The question of "absurd and false philosophically" can be considered a draw, if one believes Relativity.

            But if Relativity falls, then the Church is the only one in the game.

            Galileo is deprived even of his draw on point number two in that case.

            So.

            We summarize:

            As to Galileo's contention concerning the Sun's motionlessness and centrality, the Church wins.

            As to the Church's contention that the Earth does not move: certainly true as a matter of Scripture, still not fully established as a matter of science.

            Church 1, Galileo 0, with one point still at issue.

          • FairPlay

            Hey, I was just responding to Rick, who does indeed seem to think that the Catholic faith can make that bold assertion. The type of things that Rick says are one of the reasons why my husband is more staunchly atheist than anyone else I know. Having experienced it, he's never going back.

          • Michael Murray

            The type of things that Rick says are one of the reasons why my husband is more staunchly atheist than anyone else I know.

            That's why it's so great having Rick on these boards. I'm sure he does more to convert people away from Catholicism than the rest of us atheists combined.

          • Says the atheist who proposes, of course, to take care of the apostatization of the rest.

            It has been a very effective strategy, it picks off the weakest.

            But they will come back under the same circumstances under which they left; that is, when Goliath is lying in the dust wondering what hit him.

          • You may ignore Rick and find more congenial expressions of the Faith.

            Rick is a hardhead.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are not 'playing fair'.

            Your argument is that because Catholics believe there is *one* true faith that your husband believes there is *no* true faith.

            What is the logical connection?

          • FairPlay

            It is because it makes no sense. There is so much that seems illogical to me about organised religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, that I have not accepted religion since I was 8 years old. For my husband, it was the bad experiences that he had from his catholic upbringing, and the type of assertions that it is the one true faith, and you must believe or be condemned to hell, that convinced him that if it that faith or nothing, nothing was much more preferable. My atheism came from reasoning, his from dislike of the doctrine, and people involved in enforcing it. He has backed his atheism up with reasoning in adulthood however.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      The Catholic Church teaches that she has the fullness of truth, even though her members have constantly failed to live out that truth.

      In addition, the Church teaches that there is truth and goodness in other religions and this truth is a reflection of the fullness of truth entrusted to the Church, including whatever truth and goodness there is in atheism, if any.

  • Corylus

    Question: why do you guys always eventually end up talking about sex?

    Stacy's article seems more fitting to a cheerful discussion of gluttony - if science must be set aside for individual concerns.

    • Rationalist1

      I would love to talk about ethical situation that happen while fully clothed but no one ever does here.

      • I do believe the contraception question was initiated by........

        TA DA!!!!!!

        One of our atheist friends......

        • Rationalist1

          I believe it was brought up by Randy Gritter.

          • Randy Gritter

            Guilty as charged. It was the first example of changing morality I could think of. Maybe it is because my mind is in the gutter!

          • Rationalist1

            No problem. In matters sexual, one will almost always get a disagreement between Catholics and non believers. But on other ethical issues such as the war in Iraq and capital punishment one might get a more interesting discussion going as we find out that on those two topics (both of which the Catholic Church opposed) one would get less of a religious balkanization and more of a real discussion.

          • Both questions of the clothed nature above are prudential questions, upon which good Catholics can differ.

          • Rationalist1

            The Vatican declared the war in Iraq an unjust war.

            "The Holy See is convinced that in the efforts to draw strength from the wealth of peaceful tools provided by the international law, to resort to force would not be a just one. "

            http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/2003/documents/rc_seg-st_20030219_migliore-security-council_en.html

            Why are you picking and choosing what you believe now?

          • Randy Gritter

            The Vatican did oppose the war. It just was not magisterial teaching. There is a distinction. I opposed the war as well. Both the church and I tend towards the liberal side of the political spectrum when talking about something that is not considered a social issue.

            Still the social issues are considered to have greater moral gravity. So abortion is not just wrong. It is worse to be wrong on abortion than it is to be wrong on immigration or the environment. That is counter to what most secular people say. They might have a lot of views on sexual morality but they tend to see sexual issues as minor in moral seriousness. The church tends to say they are all quite major. So pornography, contraception, abortion, etc would be serious sins.

          • Rationalist1

            "So pornography, contraception, abortion, etc would be serious sins." So is death, destruction and maimed for life. These are all major moral issues.

            Did not Pope John Paul II speak out against the war. Did he have no control over his administration when they announced the Holy See found this war o be not just? Why can they not take a firm stand on any moral issue that doesn't involve sex?

          • They take firm stands on many issues, Rationalist.

            Not all of these firm stands constitute an exercise of the heaven-protected power of binding and loosing.

          • Randy Gritter

            They can. It would be odd for a pope to make a definitive statement on a matter of political judgement. He is not supposed to tell secular leaders what to do. The pope does teach on faith and morals. So he can teach on just war principles but should tread lightly when applying them to a specific decision to go to war.

          • Rationalist1

            So what good is he is he can't give moral guidance in one of the most important decisions a country can make. Also I see no reluctance on the part of the Vatican to tell secular leaders what to do when it comes to sexual issues.

          • Randy Gritter

            He can provide guidance in what questions to ask. He can't answer them for you. Like telling you how to pick a wife but not actually telling you who to marry.

            As far as sexual issues go, he does the same thing. On those issues the principle is what is being questioned. So the application is more trivial. So with same-sex marriage the principle of society supporting marriage between a man and a woman was defined. Applying that principle to the same-sex marriage debate is not hard.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            To clarify (or muddle) the issue, the Church teaches that both contraception and unjust war are immoral. It is easy to evaluate if one is contracepting, but whether a particular war is just or not requires applying four different criteria so it is a prudential judgment.

            Generally when something is a prudential judgment, the decision belongs to the person who has the authority to make the decision, not to an advisor, even if it's the pope. So, if someone has "sinned" it was Bush and Congress.

          • Michael Murray

            It is easy to evaluate if one is contracepting,

            Is it really ? I never understood why a couple who choose to have sex using a condom are any more or less trying not to have children than a couple who choose to have sex when she is not ovulating. Both are trying to prevent conception which sounds awfully like contraception to me.

            The only thing that is easy that I can see is that one method is not on the list of Catholic contraceptive methods and the other is.

          • Michael Murray

            Did not Pope John Paul II speak out against the war. Did he have no control over his administration when they announced the Holy See found this war o be not just? Why can they not take a firm stand on any moral issue that doesn't involve sex?

            You don't survive 2000 years without knowing how to do politics. Can you imagine how long the Holy See would last if it starting telling Catholics that taking part in a particular war would lead to excommunication ? Or priests refused to give communion to people in military uniform ? Safer to pontificate (sorry) on issues that don't offend governments.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Can you imagine how long the RCC would last if it starting telling Catholics that taking part in a particular war would lead to excommunication so they should refuse ? Or priests refused to give communion to people in military uniform ?

            In all fairness, that's what the Catholic church in Germany did about Nationalist Socialism up until 1933....all the while the Vatican was organizing concordats behind their backs. It was only after Pacelli sold them out in 1933 Reichs concordat and subsequent disbandment of the Catholic Centre Party on Vatican orders that Catholics rushed to the become Nationalist Socialists.

            All to get control of the education too, who'd have thought it?

          • Max Driffill

            That is fascinating. I knew that Catholic Centre Party had been a vocal, and decent opposition to National Socialism, but I didn't know what the Church in Germany was doing until the concordats silenced them.

          • Michael Murray

            Thanks IA. I wasn't aware of all the background.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Ya have no idea Michael. FATHER Ludwig Kaas, chairman of the Catholic Party, puppet and sycophant to Cardinal Pacelli, coerced the party on Vatican instructions to vote for for Hitler's Enabling Act, against the advice of Heinrich Brüning, which gave the Fuhrer dictatorial powers. Those powers included his ability to sign a concordat with Hitler without consultation. Something the Germans had resisted prior. The same concordat that demanded Catholic exclusion of all things political in Germany. Hence, when the Nazi's started their sterilization programme of eugenics (Lebensunwertes Leben) of over 350,000 innocents, 70,000 murdered under Action T4, a "euthanasia" program. Catholics were toothless to complain due to the concordat article that prohibited Catholic involvement in German politics, which included protest of any kind.

            The whole sorry edifice is worse than that...and at the centre was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later to become Pope Pius XII, a liar, blackmailer, conniving manipulator with the blood of millions on his hands...that is what can be proven. There are other assertions that can be made on hearsay.

            Incidentally, while the self serving cleric was conspiring the concordat, German Catholics were being dragged onto the streets of Germany and being beaten and murdered by Hitlers SA brownshirts...and he knew about it.

            So, next time a Catholic throws out Hitler along with Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and the rest...make them eat humble pie.

          • Michael Murray

            Maybe this is something I should add to my reading list. What do you recommend ?

          • Ignorant Amos

            Hitlers Pope....while looking for the IBN for ya, I've found a number of pdf..here's one...

            http://endtimedeception.org/books/hitlers%20pope%20secret%20history%20of%20pius%20XII.pdf

            ...enjoy, like I know you will Michael.

            BTW...have you noticed the silence?

          • Michael Murray

            Luverly -- thanks.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Reichskonkordat:

            Articles 31-32 relate to the issue of Catholic organizations “devoted exclusively to religious, cultural and charitable purposes” and allowed for the Reich government and German episcopate to “determine, by mutual agreement , the organizations and associations which fall within the provisions of this article.” Organizations that had any political aims no longer had any place in the new Germany so are not even mentioned in these clauses.

            Article 32 gave to Hitler one of his principal objectives: the exclusion of the clergy from politics such that “the Holy See will issue ordinances by which the clergy and the religious will be forbidden to be members of political parties or to be active on their behalf.”

            The one obstacle that stood in Hitler's way was removed paving the way for what we all know as the Third Reich and the next 12 years of horrors.

          • Ignorant Amos

            Father/Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, later Hitlers pope, was the architect of two concordats that had direct implications in facilitating both world wars. Best let them stick to what they don't know about...SEX!

          • Because I am not required to believe a prudential decision of the Church on a matter which is not explicitly declared to be binding, is why.

            On this particular question, however, I do stand with the Church.

            I simply don;t accuse Catholics of good will and honest discernment of being heretics for arriving at a contrary conclusion.

            I just think they're wrong.

          • Rationalist1

            So is waging an unjust war not against Catholic teaching. It's in your Catechism and the Vatican declared the war not just.

          • The just war doctrine was not invoked by Pope John Paul II as binding upon the conscience of Catholics, Rationalist.

            That is because the Church leaves these prudential decisions to the State, which bears responsibility for them and for the consequences.

            I think it is clear at this point that the United States of America would have been very wise to listen to Pope John Paul II.

            They didn't.

            They will now bear the consequences.

          • FairPlay

            I'm not required to believe anything that I don't want to. I make my own decisions on such issues. It's something I value, and would never change. Each to their own.

          • Indeed.

            But if you have come here to understand the difference between us, know this:

            If there is a God, then your own happiness and freedom are inextricably bound up in submitting your freedom to Him Who created you, and it, in the first place.

            If not, then you're entirely on your own.

            I tell you truthfully, you are not on your own.

          • FairPlay

            Indeed, Rationalist. This is my first time on here, and I looked at the site because I am interested in thought processes and conflicts between science and religion. I am not anti religion, but struggle to understand religious thought. The contraception question seemed a good example of where people of a religious persuasion might feel that the doctrine could be wrong. Rick's responses, whilst being rather strident, are interesting to me nevertheless.

          • Rationalist1

            Rick's responses are unique.

            I think it sells issues short to demand proclaim one Church's position is right and all the others err. I've often said that if you take any modern moral issue, abortion, birth control, capital punishment, divorce, euthanasia, feminism, gay marriage, ... even just staying within mainline Christian denominations you get intelligent, educated, sincere, prayfu people of different denominations holding very differnt views. To me its the height of hubris to declare one own denomination's position is correct on all matters and all those that differ are wrong.

          • Randy Gritter

            The Catholic church does make such a declaration. So Catholics who don't claim this just do not know their faith. Of course it was the height of hubris for Jesus to claim He is the way the truth and the life. That nobody comes to the Father except through Him. True claims of divine knowledge are going to sound arrogant. Yet we can only know about God if there is one discernible truth in the mass of human opinions you refer to.

          • I do not declare any denomination to be right.

            Only the Body of Christ can claim infallibility.

            None of the separated communities so much as dare to do so, since they understand themselves, at a deep level, to be guided by their own best thinking.

            Which is, obviously, not nearly good enough.

          • Michael Murray

            Rick's responses are unique.

            Well that's one point of view :-)

          • FairPlay, I'll address that ASAP. Been there, done that.

          • FairPlay, When I converted I struggled with that teaching, and even rejected it for a while. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about the reasons, I couldn't deny that it was good, true, beautiful, and right, and I know that is the truth every day as I watch my seven children grow. The people that talk about children like they are commodities and not gifts are the ones that are wrong.

          • Michael Murray

            The people that talk about children like they are commodities and not gifts are the ones that are wrong.

            Of course. But what has that to do with whether something is on or off the list of Catholic approved methods of contraception?

          • Everything!

          • Michael Murray

            Yes … could you illustrate with an example perhaps ...

          • Michael, I could sit down with you, alongside my husband, and give you as many examples as you want until you are bored listening to our happiness. I see all it as one big picture, marriage, the children, the openness. But how can I communicate that to someone else who has never accepted it? I don't know how. Plus, it is difficult for me to discuss such private issues with people I don't know very well. I'm way better off sticking to science and theology. Suffice it to say, I've sat on both sides of this fence, to the extremes, and I see very clearly which way is right. I respect if you don't agree, though I wish you could see what I see.

          • Michael Murray

            Thanks Stacy. Sorry I wasn't meaning to pry into your privacy like that. I was interested in examples of

            " The people that talk about children like they are commodities"

            to get an idea of what you mean.

        • FairPlay

          I was responding to Randy Gritter's point about contraception. Is this an example of confirmation bias Rick?

      • Corylus

        Yes - most peculiar. One could even wonder if over-regulation and
        needless proscriptions might lead to obsessional ideation.

        Woah. What a thought.

        • Michael Murray

          The Catholic Church is opposed to prescriptions. Thermometers are OK but not prescriptions.

        • One might also wonder if reliance on pills and devices rather than self-control might lead to the objectification of persons.

          • Michael Murray

            Every couple has periods when for some reason sex is not possible. Illness, pregnancy, tiredness, they don't want to have sex when wife has her period, partners are separated, children, etc, etc. Self-control is not exclusive to Catholic couples.

          • Randy Gritter

            Self control is essential. That is the truth. But society seems determined to deny this. They want to accept premarital sex, pornography, masturbation, divorce, contraception, etc. What do they have in common? Someone has a sexual desire and we can't imagine asking them not to act on it. Somehow the lack of sexual self control has become the goal. It is a silly goal as you point out. Yet it is at the center of most of society's sexual thinking.

          • Rationalist1

            Yes. I've been married for quite a few years and it's the truth.

          • Michael Murray

            They want to accept premarital sex, pornography, masturbation, divorce, contraception, etc. What do they have in common? Someone has a sexual desire and we can't imagine asking them not to act on it.

            That's just not true. We ask people not to act on their sexual desires all the time and they nearly always comply. If someone can't control their desire to have sex, look at pornography or masturbate to the point of being able to do these things in a socially acceptable manner they have a psychological problem and probably a legal one.

          • Max Driffill

            Randy (and others)

            I'm not sure why utilizing things like IUDs, birth control etc should reflect lack of self-control. In fact it demonstrates forsight as well as personal insight. If you are a young couple that have plans, and no desire for children (perfectly reasonable) then why not avail one's self of modern means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy?

            I'm also not sure what the problem is with pre-marital sex. If done responsibly. Or masturbation. Why torment people over this perfectly natural act (which according to most polls, almost every one does and harms no one).

            Whatever you may think of divorce, what a couple decides to dissolve, or not is, to be very precise neither your business nor mine. Also contrary to your belief, divorce isn't soley about inappropriate sexual desires, it can be about simply being a bad match, or it can be an abusive situation. SHould a woman who has spent the last five years of her life married to a drunk and abusive person, not be able leave a horrible situation and try again at a better life? The Catholic answer is no. Fine and well if you are Catholic, but don't expect non-Catholics to observe that rather odd stance.

            There is no reason why two consenting adults, should not, if they want to enjoy a night, or day or morning of intimacy so long as it doesn't violate their integrity to do so, do so. Such acts should not be done recklessly, and should, ideally, bring no harm to others.

            We do ask people to exhibit self-control. Don't bother me with your sexual escapades, keep it in your home, and please tell me there are more clothes under that trenchcoat, and respect a no when given. But these are not really an issues where activities take place in the privacy of homes and occur between two or more consenting adults.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Given your premises your conclusions are perfectly logical.

            Catholics begin with much different ones.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,
            I totally support Catholics doing their thing by the way. I just don't want the church interfering state law trying to obstruct me doing my own thing, or treating my fellows unfairly at the hands of the state.

            By all means be Catholic, enjoy. Extend to me, RCC the same courtesy.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Currently, the executive branch of the Federal Government in the United States is attempting to interfere with the conscience rights of Catholics and others by forcing them to provide or pay for the abortions and contraceptives of others.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,
            No they aren't. They are trying allow employees to get services they pay for through insurance. Perfectly legal procedures and products.

            Catholic Orgs that employ people, don't provide insurance free of charge, employees pay for that. I pay for my insurance, I want to have available to me the full legal suite of products available to me through my insurance. If my employer suddenly decided that bone marrow transplants were against his religion, how fair would it be for him to impose his religious views on me? Not very, and considering he/she isn't paying for my insurance its not really any of his or her business.

          • That doesn't make sense, Max. If you employer provides insurance, then your employer pays for it, even if you also pay a smaller fraction of that cost. It's part of your compensation package.

          • Max Driffill

            No my employer doesn't.
            I pay for whatever insurance package I pay for. My employer is able to help reduce my cost because of the fact he or she can use the leverage of large purchases from an insurance provider. If I don't pay for insurance, my employer doesn't provide it. He or she isn't paying my insurance cost. So even if they were, with their own money, helping to offset my costs, I should still have a say in what my insurance covers and what my insurance covers shouldn't be forced on me by my employer, At the very least it should cover what is allowed by law.
            You did not address my point about bone marrow transplants either. Should an employer have the right to limit their employee's medical care?

          • The Catholic organizations that are suing don't work like that though. The employer does pay for the insurance, the employee pays a fraction of the premium, usually 80/20 split.
            Anyone who is forced to pay for something that violates his conscience has a right to challenge it or refuse to comply.

          • Here's a question to which I have never seen an adequat answer from those who oppose the "contraception mandate."

            Most insured Americans (60%) get their health insurance through their employer. Most employees pay something toward their coverage. Most employer-provided insurance covers contraception. Many employer-provided insurance plans even cover abortion.

            Consequently, most insured people (and no doubt most insured Catholics) are paying toward the cost of insurance coverage of contraception, and many of them are paying something toward the coverage of abortion.

            Does the Catholic Church tell individual Catholics with employer-provided insurance that covers contraception or abortion that they must opt out of their employer's insurance plan and find their own insurance that does not cover contraception or abortion? Apparently not.

            I understand the position of the Catholic Church in opposition to the "contraceptive mandate," and I do think it is a legitimate issue involving religious liberty. But isn't it seriously inconsistent to maintain that Catholic organizations, if forced to provide contraceptive coverage, will be "cooperating with evil," when individual Catholics are "cooperating with evil" by paying part of the cost of employer-provided coverage that includes contraception and abortion. If the principle that one may not cooperate with evil is invoked in the case of religious employers, why is it not invoked in the case of individual Catholics who seem to be quite free to pay for contraception and abortion coverage?

          • "But isn't it seriously inconsistent to maintain that Catholic organizations, if forced to provide contraceptive coverage, will be "cooperating with evil," when individual Catholics are "cooperating with evil" by paying part of the cost of employer-provided coverage that includes contraception and abortion."

            >> Bravo. It is.

            In this way we arrive at another of the devastating innovations of the post-conciliar Church, the notion of "religious liberty".

            Under this notion the Catholic Church finds Herself required to uphold the "religious liberty" of the pro-child murder fanatics who chant "Hail Satan" in the Texas legislature.

            Because, you see, religious liberty is a good thing.

            It applies to everyone, equally.

            The Catholic Church of all ages, places, nations, tongues, the Church of the Saints, the Fathers, the Doctors, the Popes and the Councils up until VII, would have recoiled in sheer horror from this.

            It is a disaster.

            It will end.

            God will raise up His hardheads.

          • Mikegalanx

            "The Catholic Church of all ages, places, nations, tongues, the Church of
            the Saints, the Fathers, the Doctors, the Popes and the Councils up
            until VII, would have recoiled in sheer horror from this."

            And then started burning people alive?

          • Ignorant Amos
          • Thanks for that link. I saw this in the article, and it pretty much sums up how I think it will all get sorted:

            “Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.

          • Mikegalanx

            Under the rather strange American system, your employer pays for your insurance as part of your compensation package. It is not a gift that you get out of the goodness of his heart.

            Your Catholic employer has no more right to tell you that you can't use it for contraception than a JW boss can say you can't use it for blood transfusion, or a Muslim boss can tell you you can't use your salary to buy a six-pack, or a Hindu boss that you're not allowed to buy a steak or a Jewish boss that you can't buy bacon- or an atheist boss that you are not allowed to use your vacation time to go to a Catholic pilgrimage site.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            It is not up to you, Mike. It will be decided by the courts, and if an institution or individual who supplies health insurance still disagrees, it or he will refuse to comply.

          • It will be decided by the courts, and if an institution or individual who supplies health insurance still disagrees, it or he will refuse to comply.

            We already have some notable examples of Catholic organizations that have complied with very similar state laws. Most notable are the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Madison. Some bishops went too far in claiming Catholic organizations couldn't comply because to do so would be cooperation with evil. When Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York are complying, it is difficult to make the case that complying is evil.

            I think there is a fair chance religious organizations opposing the mandate will eventually win in court, but if they don't, they have two options. One is just to decline to provide insurance coverage and pay the fine/tax involved. It is actually cheaper to pay the $2000 per employee than to provide insurance. The other is simply to comply with the law, which I would bet most organizations do if they lose in court.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I haven't read through the post I'm directing you to, but I think the answer lies in the limits of cooperation in evil:

            http://www.ascensionhealth.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:principles-of-formal-and-material-cooperation&Itemid=171

          • Max Driffill

            Stacy,

            I'm quite prepared to take your word for the Catholic billing of insurance and to accept that Catholic employers pay 80/20.

            Anyone who is forced to pay for something that violates his conscience has a right to challenge it or refuse to comply.

            Even though it is small fraction, employees are paying for something, isn't it their right to argue that their employers, in this case RCC orbs are violating their right of conscience and challenge this rule via any legal means at their disposal? Seems fair to me. Catholics do not solely employ catholics in RCC orgs, like hospitals etc. It seems a grave imposition to me, that Catholic leaders wish to impose on their non-catholic employees.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Employees get services. Employees get benefits which insurance plans cover. What is covered is not determined by the employee.

            Employees pay for these services. No they don’t. All the money flows from the employer to the employee.

            Perfectly legal procedures and products. Legal does not equal moral.

            Bone marrow transplants. If your employer decided this, you and all the other employees could quit and find work elsewhere, putting this moron out of business.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,

            Do you have a job?

            I pay for my insurance. I can show you where my pay check is deducted for the cost of the insurance that I pay for if you like. I'm not sure what it is you don't get about this. I pay for it through my employer with is cheaper than trying to buy insurance on my own (I do not have the ability leverage lower prices because I am not going to be purchasing a large number of policies -with other people's money, namely employees). That is the benefit. Which is cool and all, but I am not sure why you think that I am not still paying for insurance.

            So according to my paycheck, not Kevin, I am still paying for it out of my wages, and the robustness of my insurance plan is a function of which plan I choose and how much I want to pay per month to have the plan. In what sense, again am I not paying for my insurance?

            Employees get services. Employees get benefits which insurance plans cover. What is covered is not determined by the employee.

            But generally neither do employers get to decided what is covered. If we are going to allow that, then employees who foot the bulk of the bill for their insurance should also get a say in what is covered.

            As to legal not always equalling moral? That is fair. But there is a great deal of gray in that. Would it be okay for newly converted Christian scientist who owned a company to suddenly do away with employee health insurance based on his religious conviction? I don't share it I just work a place x making widgets.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Employees don't bring money to the table. They bring knowledge, skills and labor for which they receive wages and benefits from the employer. Let's say an employee has an 80/20 plan where the employer pays 80% and the employee past 20%. In reality, the employer has to provide 100%, of which the 20% is paid to the employee on paper and immediately reimbursed to the employee to pay the premium.

          • BenS

            Following this logic, the only person who gets to call the shots is the Royal Mint / HM Treasury (or Federal Mint or whatever is the counterpart). They're the only ones who make money. Everyone else just pushes it around.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't want to get us too far into economics, but I think only successful capitalists increase the wealth that many people benefit from.

            What government entities do is to seize wealth directly through taxes or indirectly by printing more money, which dilutes the value of the money already in circulation.

          • But that is exactly what in fact is the case, Ben.

            Money is simply a fiction created out of thin air by oligarchs.

            The rest of us chase it around until the scam falls apart.

            Rinse.

            Repeat.

            Another word for this is "capitalism"; that particular variation on the Cargo Cult where money creates wealth.

            I can disprove this instantly.

            Take a dollar.

            Water it, coo at it, click your heels three times and repeat "There's No Hand Like The Invisible Hand" over and over again, as you like.

            Notice.

            One dollar in, one dollar out.

            Money does not create anything at all.

            It certainly does not create wealth.

            To create wealth, you need a mind.

            Minds are often found outside the domains of oligarchs with printing presses.

            Some have argued they are only found outside those realms, but this is not fair.

            Criminals don't become mindless, just because they become evil.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,
            This is just ridiculous. If the employer gave me the money for labor and skills, I earned that money, it then became my money. The employer would not be able to pay me money if I, and others, did not work for the company and help it profit. When I am given my money which I earned it becomes money I bring to the table.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Then take your earnings and go purchase your own health insurance, but don't try to make your employer or make your government make your employer act against his conscience if he doesn't want to help you get contraception or abortion.

          • Bravo, Kevin.

            The problem of course is that only a Catholic civilization can secure these protections.

            As we are all about to learn the hard way.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,
            You seem to think that employers should have all the power and workers none? Why should that be the case, considering that I pay for the infrastructure they use, my community has generally reduced their start-up costs by extending utilities etc to them. I'm not sure that your stance is reasonable.

            Why should a company be able to dictate my healthcare? Individual health care costs are generally too expensive to purchase with out using a work place's ability to purchase large quantities of healthcare policies. This is especially true of people who work at low paying wages? Why should they be victimized by the whims of their employer, whose beliefs they may not share? Such people do not have such transferable skills that they can just go to another job. Again there is no reason why an employer should have this kind of power over their employees.

            Furthermore I am completely with in my right to petition the company or the government, to organize and argue for laws that I think safe guard workers.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think you have legitimate points. We are into the political/economic realm which certainly raises ethical questions. The Church has a well-developed body of teachings on social justice--not that that will make you click your heels with joy.

            I'm trying to make some limited points. First, wealth is created in the private sector. Individuals and corporations create wealth. Second, the government doesn't create wealth. It can only take wealth from individuals and corporations and redistribute it, sometimes for good things, like roads and land-grant colleges, and sometime for bad things, like cronyism. When it tries to take over the economy, disaster results.

            Finally, those who own a company are moral agents who have the right not to act against their consciences. Government has no right to try to make them or me or you do so.

          • Andrew G.

            Governments can and do create wealth by solving coordination problems and creating infrastructure. These kinds of things are net gains for the (real) economy, not mere redistributions; and depending on the condition of the private sector they may not even require taking anything from anybody.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            How can a government build a road without raw materials, machinery, and labor? Where does it get the money?

            A government often solves a coordination problem by picking winners and losers. The winners are the ones who help the government decide how to coordinate (in their favor), and then these winners reward the government officials with political donations and other benefits, so they can repeat the cycle of crony capitalism or socialism.

          • Andrew G.

            Even if the government has to get the money via taxes, the net benefit to the economy is positive as long as the economic value of the road exceeds the real resources expended in building it. But in an economy in which there is underutilized supply - for example unused labour in the form of unemployment - the government can obtain the resources it needs without increasing either taxes or inflation. (Unfortunately, most governments are not really aware of this.)

            Even if government solutions to coordination problems are less than perfect they are usually better than not addressing the problem at all, which is where you end up if you blindly reject the idea of government action. If you are dissatisfied with the solutions your government comes up with then your recourse is to improve your government (by whatever means are appropriate) not to deny the value of government in principle.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            > In an economy in which there is underutilized supply - for example unused labour in the form of unemployment - the government can obtain the resources it needs without increasing either taxes or inflation.

            You mean slave labor?

            > Even if government solutions to coordination problems are less than perfect they are usually better than not addressing the problem at all, which is where you end up if you blindly reject the idea of government action.

            Some economists argue that the Great Depression was caused and perpetuated by government action. Wage and price controls cause shortages. The devastating housing bubble would never have happened without government action.

          • Andrew G.

            Who said anything about slave labour? The government can hire people directly at minimum wage without risking inflation, or it can buy what it needs from the private sector with increased spending. This is only inflationary if the government ends up competing with the private sector for items in limited supply; otherwise, the normal response to increased demand is increased production, not price.

            And yes, some economists think that the Great Depression was caused or prolonged by government action - but they often have mutually inconsistent beliefs about which actions were helpful or harmful. For every economist there is an equal and opposite economist.

            The recent housing bubble and subsequent collapse is much more clear-cut: a long period of increasing government deregulation enabled the private sector to set up a system in which the people deciding to make loans were able to take a guaranteed cut and then hand off the risk to someone else, giving them incentives to make more loans, more risky loans, bigger loans, apply pressure to appraisers to inflate prices artificially, and so on; all of these are well documented. This is therefore a problem of government inaction, not action.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            How do you pay people minimum wage without taxing somebody else? You mean just print the money?

            On the housing bubble, you forgot to mention the federal government pressuring lenders to loan money to people who were bad credit risks.

          • epeeist

            How do you pay people minimum wage without taxing somebody else?

            What do you think of the ethics of a corporation or government that pays its employees less than it is possible to live on?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The Church's social doctrine includes the concept of a living wage.

            In reality, in a country like the United States, minimum wage laws raise unemployment, preventing unskilled workers like young people from getting jobs and learning skills that could make them more valuable to employers.

            In the U.S. are people paid so little they are homeless, and starving, and wearing rags?

          • Andrew G.

            There is no evidence that minimum wage laws raise unemployment; meta-analysis of published studies on the subject shows an effect size of 0 and a strong publication bias. (When studying a real effect, you expect the statistical significance reported by studies to increase according to study power: larger and more powerful studies should show greater significance. When studying a null effect with a publication bias, you expect that most studies show a "publishable" significance (usually p=0.05) regardless of study size.)

          • The minimum-wage debate is a lot like the debate between theists and atheists. There is basically nothing one side can do to convince the other.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            As I said above in regard to the housing bubble, not according to the economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, and Milton Freedmen, I might add.

          • Andrew G.

            Meta-analysis of empirical studies trumps "economist X said so", sorry.

            (Equal and opposite economists, remember - the only way to sort out the reality from the dogma is to look at the evidence, and a nice funnel plot converging on an effect size of 0 is pretty damning evidence.)

          • The Catechism says

            2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice. In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. "Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good." Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.

            Catholic social teaching on wages is basically illegal in the United States. For example, suppose two men with equal experience do the same job and are equally productive. According to Catholic social teaching, if the first man is unmarried and has no extraordinary expenses, and the second man has a wife and five children, the second man should be paid significantly more than the first man, because "both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account."

            Certainly in the United States, and I think in every other fully capitalist country, wages are set by market forces in the vast majority of cases. There is absolutely no guarantee that the free market forces will result in just wages for all employees.

            Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were highly critical of capitalism, particularly laissez-faire capitalism.

            In the U.S. are people paid so little they are homeless, and starving, and wearing rags?

            Few homeless people have full-time jobs, but some do, and others have part-time jobs. But there aren't enough jobs to go around in the United States at the moment.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Another point in the Catechism directs me to avoid activities on Sunday which would detract from the meaning of the LORD's Day, so I'm leaving all economic discussions up to you guys.

          • Another point in the Catechism directs me to avoid activities on Sunday which would detract from the meaning of the LORD's Day . . .

            Certainly making Catholic social teaching (CST) known is a worthy activity for the Lord's day, but the problem is that even though it appears to me that CST is left of center, those who are right of center have all kinds of rationalizations why CST doesn't mean what it says.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I fully support CST (as you call it). It consists of doctrinal principles, principles of application, and prudence.

          • I fully support CST (as you call it). It consists of doctrinal principles, principles of application, and prudence.

            The Catholic bishops (USCCB) are big supporters of the minimum wage. But of course, as you note, people can agree on the doctrinal principles and disagree on everything else. It seems to me—and this is a purely personal opinion—that CST as a guide for public policy is close to worthless in a society like ours in which right and left disagree fundamentally about almost everything. If liberals think helping the poor requires government assistance and social programs, and conservatives believe helping the poor requires not "fostering a culture of dependency," they can take opposite positions on policy and both claim they are good Catholic because they are both "helping the poor."

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I agree. I think experience is the best guide in determining which approaches to helping the poor are more effective.

          • Michael Murray

            So the Catholic Catechism position is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" ? Where have I heard that before ? :-)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need

          • Andrew G.

            the federal government pressuring lenders to loan money to people who were bad credit risks.

            This is a lie.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Not according to the economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell.

          • Andrew G.

            It is a matter of public record that the overwhelming majority of subprime lending during the bubble was made, securitized, sold and bought by private-sector entities not subject to government regulations or pressure. It is also amply documented that the pressure to increase the number and size of loans, by inflating valuations and reducing lending standards, was caused by private-sector demand for more mortgages to process into mortgage-backed securities.

          • The civilization begins on Catholic premises, which are perverted into atheist premises.

            This is called a "Constitutional Republic", and was alleged, by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to be compatible with Catholic principles, just so long as the American, rather than the French, Republic were in view.

            It is very sad that the Holy Father has had to live to see the imposition of abortion, same sex marriage, and now imposed remote material cooperation in both, by the American Republic in which He placed his hope for the Church in the post conciliar era.

            It was a very serious misreading of the signs of the times, for which Catholics will now either suffer persecution, or the infinitely worse alternative:

            apostatization.

            As usual, they will apostatize in droves.

            What will be new this time around, is that they will apostatize in place; that is, they will continue to make blasphemous communions, assured by their pastors that it is permissible to cooperate in evil.

            It is, after all, only a bit of incense being asked.

            The hardheads will, as usual, go to concentration camps or else be martyred outright.

          • Corylus

            Just as one could wonder whether the examination of one's own cervical mucus puts paid to the 'dignity' argument for NFP.

          • Does changing diapers make child-rearing undignified?

          • Corylus

            For the child-rearer - an unpleasant necessity would be a more accurate characterization. Of course, caring for children (and people generally) is a morally laudable action, but there is no need to assume that this moral currency is translated into dignity.

            For the child, yes, undignified is an accurate term. This is why we toilet train as soon as we can: and why children can get so hugely proud of themselves when the 'fly solo' on the lavatory.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Corylus, all work has dignity and can be sanctified, even wiping poopy bottoms.

          • Corylus

            All work? Are you sure? Has the oldest profession dignity and can it be sanctified?

            Of course, historically it has been considered such, but I don't think you are making that particular point.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right. Every moral occupation has dignity and can be sanctified. The Mafia's out, too.

          • Corylus

            Right. Every moral occupation has dignity and can be sanctified. The Mafia's out, too.

            Thank you Kevin, that is a great demonstration of how we tend to use the word 'dignity' differently. For you it a synonym for something 'worthy' (sometimes on here this 'worthiness' slips from the merely laudable to the magical, but that is a worry for another day) for me is it a synonym for poise and self control.

            So, an undignified job for you is something you do not consider 'worthy' and undignified job for me is something that impinges on my autonomy and my self control. So, while we can both see employment with the Mafia as undignified, we can do so for different reasons.

            By the way, prostitution is an interesting case in that some people would not consider it undignified, as they choose to be employed in this way. I would be undignified for me, certainly, as I would not choose it*, but not so for others. If someone is happy with the job choice then I am not going to denigrate them for it. In fact, I can even see situations where this is a moral choice. For example, it is possible to specialise in working with the disabled. There are opportunities for compassion and care in many unexpected places.

            Now, in order to bring this back on thread, (and off sex) we can see Stacy using the term 'dignity' as a synonym for 'worth' in her article.

            A Catholic operating within the context of the Catholic faith keeps the dignity of the human person and the custodial responsibility as a steward of nature before her at all times.

            It is a common place where words, and wires, get crossed.

            -=-=-=

            *Hah! I would also have the worry about making a profit ;)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Thanks.

            I meant for my emphasis to be on the word "moral."

            I meant that any "moral" occupation can have dignity (worth) because it is done by a human being with intrinsic dignity and can help that person develop himself or her self, serve others, and promote the common good.

          • Corylus

            Of course, Kevin, quite understood.

          • Michael Murray

            *Hah! I would also have the worry about making a profit ;)

            Nah. Come on. There's always the speciality stuff like dominatrix.

            Seriously you make an important point about the disabled. What happens to the disabled Catholics who have been blessed by God with the inability to masturbate?

          • Corylus

            Nah. Come on. There's always the speciality stuff like dominatrix.

            That is an utterly shocking notion, Michael.

            You are evidently not worthy of licking my shiny, thigh-high, black leather boots.

          • Corylus, I think you misread Kevin. He wrote, "... even wiping poopy bottoms." not "... even whipping poopy bottoms."

          • Corylus

            Opps!

          • Ignorant Amos

            I'm not sure my Alzheimer suffering grandfather thought it was dignified when strangers, his daughters and his granddaughters, had to clean his backside among other things, regardless of what those attending him thought. But I'm sure some god, some where had a divine purpose and plan in place. When it comes the time for Kev to have his privates wiped off of all the muck by his granddaughters, he'll be okay with it too, I guess.

          • Nothing more noble in all the world, than a child seeing their parents through the years of decline.

            To somehow be able to summon up from one's soul an eruption of scorn in the face of something so holy allows one to truly see where the Fred Phelps of Atheism is coming from.

            No place I want to ever be.

          • Ignorant Amos

            No place I want to ever be

            It seems gods dish out this indignity with impartiality.

            My granda was a believer.

          • Corylus

            My granda was a believer.

            So was my grandmother. I helped out a great deal with her care when she was moved back into the family home due to being poorly. The worst part was not the personal care aspect, even though I have a nose like a bloodhound and felt very sick as a result. No. The worst part was knowing that she hated it and felt mortified.

            If I am wrong and find myself allowed through the pearly gates due to what I did for her, then that would be an abomination. What I did was for for her, not for myself.

            Bottom line: I would rather for her not to have gone through it at all and for myself to be locked out. Stuff nobility.

          • Rationalist1

            No. Any good father has to be better at it than his wife. I could change a diaper no matter how fussy the baby was.

          • Hehe. You're wife is gooood! Brilliant woman! ;-)

          • Rationalist1

            You mean it was a trick. Does that mean she gets to paint the porch tomorrow?

          • Michael Murray

            My wife seemed unable to smell the smelliest ones. Strange really. Probably something different about the female olfactory system.

          • Michael Murray

            God should have just let us keep the signalling of ovulation like other primates. Would have saved all these problems.

          • Rationalist1

            Michael - Humans have evolved to have a hidden estrus cycle (possibly to encourage male attentiveness at all times) so the contraceptive methods that make the estrus cycle visible are not natural for humans. I have no problem with that, but some are hung up on the natural vs artificial aspect of it.

          • Michael Murray

            I have no problem with that, but some are hung up on the natural vs artificial aspect of it.

            Yes I never understood that bit. I would have thought it was all about intent. Condoms, pills, barriers, safe times, it all amounts to the same thing. You are trying to avoid conception. Contra … ception. I'd just send the lot of them downstairs to the hot place.

          • Rationalist1

            Michael - Strangley intent seems to have nothing to do with contraception. Indeed I think it's the only moral action where intent isn't considered. In my opinion Catholics would make a much better case if they went after the contraceptive mentality instead of the contraceptive specifics especially when they promote NFP as more effective than "artificial" means.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            "Contraceptive mentality"?

            R1 you betray your canny lack of ignorance when you decry the Church for failing to address the contraceptive mentality when the contraceptive mentality is something the Church decries!

            The Church says NFP users can have an illegitimate contraceptive mentality when they don't have a sufficiently serious reason for abstaining from sex during the fertile times.

            As I bet you know, the Church in order to legitimately attempt to avoid pregnancy you need both a serious reason and abstinence.

          • Rationalist1

            But stress that instead of touting how much more effective NFP is than using condoms. Better still allow both, because, according to the FP litterature, condoms allow for more procreation than NFP. But the Church was in a bind, It had always banned condoms and they couldn't reverse it. Plus it's easier to ban a specific action that get people to think about their intent.

            I don't have "a canny lack of ignorance", the Church just has a canny lack of consistency.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            My wife and I have taught NFP and we currently teach marriage preparation courses for Catholic couples and I assure you that the Church's teaching on responsible parenthood does include both the end and means. The goal is to not get pregnant. The motivation must be to have a serious reason to postpone pregnancy. The means is to not have sex during the fertile time.

            With contraception, the goal is to not get pregnant (same as NFP). The motivation may be good (a serious reason) or bad.

            The means are bad (rendering coitus infertile).

          • Rationalist1

            Both natural and artificial contraception can be used with the same motivation (intent). Most descriptions of NFP stress how effective it is, saying it better than most artificial means. Even so all intercourse is potentially fertile no matter what type of contraception one uses. It's only the method that differs.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If you know what "contraceptive mentality" means you also know perfectly well why NFP has to defend itself against Planned Parenthood and the women's magazines' relentless depiction of NFP as "Catholic roulette."

            So you are both canny and coy.

          • Rationalist1

            I know what the contraceptive mentality means and I could care less about Planned Parenthood and women's magazines. And just because Catholics are hung up on natuiral does not mean you need to brand all others who use artificial methods as having the contraceptive mentality. Many of them have the same intent are Catholics.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Maybe I don't know what you mean by "contraceptive mentality"?

            I would have thought you thought the "contraceptive mentality" was a good thing.

          • Rationalist1

            Contraceptive mentality means that contraception solves all, you don't have to worry about children as the condom, the pill, etc. will take care of it. No having sex always brings about the possibility of pregnancy as long as both partners are fertile. Couples, IMO, must always be open to that, whether they use natural, artificial or whatever methods.

            And why do you think people who don't fall for the natural is different from artificial line, be they atheists, Protestants, Jews, etc. would think the contraceptive mentality is a good thing. Some do, some don't. As I'm sure some Catholics do as well.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'm glad you think both partners must always be open to the possibility of pregnancy if they use contraception, since abortion has become back up contraception. This means they must be open to protecting the life and health of this new person and providing for and educating this child once born. This child needs their life-long love most of all.

            The problem with this is that contraception makes it possible for anyone to think they can have sex for pleasure or bonding, period. They can and do reject they child they have conceived.

          • Michael Murray

            The problem with this is that contraception makes it possible for anyone to think they can have sex for pleasure or bonding, period. They can and do reject they child they have conceived.

            So my wife and I should be denied the opportunity for a convenient method of planning our family because someone else might abuse it? Why not ban us from drinking because others abuse alcohol? Definitely take away our cars as some people use those really dangerously.

            In any case if the woman has a regular, reliable menstrual cycle they can have sex for pleasure and avoid children. The Church has shown them how. It would work quite well for couples who aren't living together and happy to catch up a few times each month for just sexual pleasure. If something goes wrong she can just have an abortion. Is that what you want?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are reading what I wrote out of context. If I understand him, R1 was saying something I thought remarkable, that a couple who have sex should be responsible for the child they conceive. I was saying that contraception works against that, since it lets people outside marriage have sex for sex sake, people who have no interest in babies.

            It was not an argument for or against what you and your wife should do.

          • Michael Murray

            It was not an argument for or against what you and your wife should do.

            But Catholic moral teaching is always about telling non-Catholic's what to do. If it limited itself to just telling Catholic's what to do there would be a lot less of us non-Catholic's here arguing, I mean having dialogue, with you.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are right that Catholic moral teaching is universal, so it does apply to all persons (except those matters that do only apply to Catholics).

            My brilliant statement, which you quoted above, was prudential in nature. I can't imagine that anything Catholic moral theology has to say about human sexuality would have any effect on you except to raise your ire. Also, John Wayne taught me not to talk about another man's wife or sister.

            So if you want to fight - I mean dialogue - on this topic, you'll have to save it for another day.

          • Michael Murray

            You are right that Catholic moral teaching is universal, so it does apply to all persons (except those matters that do only apply to Catholics).

            I've often wondered what history would have looked like if there had been an 11th commandment (maybe on the tablet Moses dropped)

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAtRCJIqnk

            which had said "Most importantly love all those who do not follow My laws. They will find their own way to Me." Kind of out of character for the Old Testament I know because they weren't strong on the concept of secularism! But I wonder if such a religion could survive or whether it would be selected out.

          • Well, the Ten Commandments were given to the Jews, but the Jews didn't believe everybody else had to follow them. The Jews expected people to follow the Noahide Laws:

            1. The prohibition of Idolatry.
            2. The prohibition of Murder.
            3. The prohibition of Theft.
            4. The prohibition of Sexual immorality.
            5. The prohibition of Blasphemy.
            6. The prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
            7. The requirement of maintaining courts to provide legal recourse.

            According to the New Testament, Gentile converts to Christianity were bound by these laws (see Acts 15), and not Jewish Law.

            ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you [Gentile converts] any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’

            That means Christians are basically supposed to eat only kosher meat.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think the "necessities" in regard to blood were prudential only, because those practices could scandalize people. As times changed those requirements could be set aside because in reality Christians can eat anything edible.

          • I think the "necessities" in regard to blood were prudential only, because those practices could scandalize people.

            That is the kind of Biblical interpretation that allows you to make the text mean just about anything you want it to. The "necessities" clearly come from Noahide law. Christians allegedly can eat what Jews considered unclean, but the eating of blood or animals slaughtered by means other than kosher was not unclean.

            Jesus allegedly declared all foods clean in Mark 7:18-19:

            He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

            But it seems clear that the Apostles didn't know that in Acts 15. And of course Paul himself kept Jewish dietary laws.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That's not my private interpretation. I think you've overlooked Acts 10 and 11, Peter's net vision.

          • Honest question: Have you read the OT?

          • Michael Murray

            No. But I estimate attending mass 600 times which usually meant an old testament and new testament reading if memory serves me correctly.

            My only point here is that my memory of those times that there wasn't a particularly clear distinction between civil and religious law. Correct me if that is wrong. In which case I withdraw that remark.

            Personally I am interested in the more general question. Can a religion that isn't "expansionist" in philosophy prosper and survive though history or does it succumb to other religions that are ? Are their examples ? Bahai maybe ?

          • Max Driffill

            I have.

          • Rationalist1

            "I'm glad you think both partners must always be open to the possibility of pregnancy if they use contraception"

            Yes, they should be open to the possibility of conception no matter what method they use. I just find that the NFP by pushing how effective the method is (I've seen 100% effective - if used properly) , paradoxically encourage that mindset,

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            But NFP also renders coitus infertile. There is no actual difference between them.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            NFP does *not* render coitus infertile. Coitus is naturally infertile at that time.

            Contraception *does* render coitus infertile with a condom, pill, etc.

            That is a substantial difference.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Timing renders that sexual act infertile. Or chemicals render that sex act fertile.

            No difference.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            The difference is doing something to the act (making it infertile) and not doing something to the act (waiting until it is infertile).

            Anyway, why do you care?

  • Andrew G.

    I do wonder why we should be expected to take comments about science seriously from someone who apparently doesn't understand the concept of "thirds" :-)

  • Howard

    This discussion should be named Fast and Furious 8

  • Francis Choudhury

    Stacy, I find it so "sweet" that it was experimentation with photosynthesis that led you to God (if I'm reading you right)! How fitting!

    In the beginning was the "deep" (darkness, THE metaphor for nothingness). And the Spirit of God "hovered over the deep"...

    Then God began His work of Creation, first saying, "Let there be light!" - God Himself being Light, the very ground and essence of Being (without which/Whom is nothingness)! The "light" had to appear first, the precursor to, the very basis, (the principal particle, so to speak) of all else! "And there was light!" Then all of creation, all of energy and matter and motion and happening, all of God's material and spatial expression of Himself, sprang into existence! "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:3-5) This is why there is (still, despite all the flux) "something" instead of "nothing" - light instead of merely the dark, an, intelligent, intelligible and illuminated universe instead of merely one giant "dense" black hole!

    "I am the light of the world." He sure is that - perhaps even more literally than we realize! Anyway, that's my $0.02c worth of understanding!

    Thank you for your very interesting articles. I'm a newcomer to your blog - which led me here to this other interesting place!

    • Yes, you read that right. I never forget those moments, brief bright spots in an otherwise dark time. Those leaves!

    • FairPlay

      Hi Frances. I'm a newcomer too, and have enjoyed seeing people's views. As a Biology teacher, I was interested to see how important you feel photosynthesis is for your faith. For me, photosynthesis is the most fundamentally beautiful scientific process. The fact that a plant can take the inorganic molecules of carbon dioxide and water, and convert them into organic glucose is the moment of what defines living things for me. The fact that the waste product oxygen has allowed more efficient respiration in other organisms, and so the subsequent evolution of higher forms of living things makes a beautiful mutualism in the ecosystem. When I ask the students why plants are green I enjoy the light bulb moment when they realise that it is because green light is the wrong wavelength for photolysis, so it is reflected, not absorbed.
      I am not sure that science needs to be separated from religion for everyone, but in my case I have no need of religion to find a beauty and great meaning in a process. For you it adds something, for me it takes something away. Maybe that is why there can be no overlap for me.

  • Francis Choudhury

    All science commences with a reasonable assumption or theory, to be investigated and verified (or otherwise) by observation, experimentation and empirical evidence. So why should reasoning or assumptions to be investigated by ready observations, evidence/consideration of outcomes, or testing for logic (truth) by disciplines such as philosophy or theology be anathema to a "man of science"? Why do these activities in common quest of knowledge or understanding be mutually exclusive? Can the one not have any bearing on or provide insights to the other? I too don't understand this NOMA concept.

  • Chip Awalt

    Great article! I am not a scientist, but a from my point as a person who knows a bit about theology, I RELY on Science to inform me about the world which God created. I wrote a review of Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the science faculty
    at Regensburg University where I stated:

    "The pope proposes a new synthesis and interrelationship of
    the two. Science has the ability to inform religion precisely with the new
    discoveries it encounters. Each discovery has the potential to give us a deeper
    understanding of the nature of man, the universe, and God. Conversely religion
    will inform science about what their discovery can tell us as well as the proper
    use of the discovery. This is turn will lead to even greater scientific discoveries." One example of Religion both fostering and relying on scientific development and discovery is in the area human reproduction. NaProTechnology has developed scientific methods in response to Pope Paul VI request for scientists to develop natural methods to help with women's health issues. The Catholic Church in particular relied on science to help them better understand the human person in this way, but it was the Church and the teachings of the faith that brought into existence and entire field of scientific discovery.

    Having said this there are areas of the empirical sciences that religion is silent on, because they are not in religion's area of expertise. True religion respects the domain of science, but it never sees her as something completely separate, but rather as complimentary.

    • "Conversely religion will inform science about what their discovery can tell us as well as the proper use of the discovery. This is turn will lead to even greater scientific discoveries." <---So true. And NaPro is a great example. I have lamented the fact that such professionals are hard to find, and too many women are left with little choice but to go see a doctor who relies on pills and foreign objects to solve problems rather than trying to understand the body.

  • Bill

    That was fun to read. Thanks for the wine tip.

    • Oh, do try it if you haven't. It's a good price, and it goes with everything if you like red's.

  • Howard

    Dr. Trasancos, my experiences are the same as yours, and I have been making the same argument for years.

  • Paul Rimmer

    Stacy,

    I think this is one of your best articles. It's excellent, and I will be sharing it with colleagues.

    There is one problem I would like to bring up.

    You did top notch work. A publication in Science and over 500 citations before getting a PhD. This is work you did while you were an atheist (or at least not a Christian). Now you are a Christian, and you no longer do science.

    Don't take this the wrong way. I'm not trying to challenge your life choices. Being a father is the most important job I have, no contest. The fact remains that you became a Christian and dropped out of science. Several of my colleagues have done the same. Currently, the best scientists out there are mostly atheists and agnostics. Very few are Catholic.

    You think that Christians and non-Christians can both work together on science, and both can contribute equally to quality research. If that's true, why are there so few Christians in science, and why does it seem that conversion to Christianity, or becoming more serious about one's faith, leads so often to an exodus from the scientific community?

    • Thank you Paul. That's one of the best questions I've ever been asked. I'll answer honestly, but let me think it over.

      I say I was "non-religious" because I never once identified as atheist. No reason really, I just never thought about it. I was against religion though. Morally, my life was a mess. I left my career because of my daughter, before I converted. Long story. It's in my conversion story, but that link seems down. Part of it is explained here: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/06/trasancos-when-moms-a-convert-the-distance-in-your-eyes/

      I want to say that there are plenty of Catholics who are scientists, but you may be right. I'll get back to you with my thoughts. People have written to me expressing hesitation to pursue science because they don't want to be asked to compromise their faith, mostly young people. I'll answer you, but I don't want to give a half-baked response to an excellent question.

      Thank you again. Thanks for the compliment.

  • John Darrouzet

    Once a man heard a voice in a garden that said: "Take and read." In light of this ongoing conversation, I would urge all participants to "Take and read" Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) by Pope Francis and see and hear what the latest articulation is concerning ways in which faith and reason work together: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html

    • Betcha I can tell ya at least one part Papa Francis added, and it's a doozy........

      Check out #57, here:

      "Let us refuse to be robbed of hope, or to allow our hope to be dimmed by facile answers and solutions which block our progress, "fragmenting" time and changing it into space. Time is always much greater than space. Space hardens processes, whereas time propels towards the future and encourages us to go forward in hope."

      First, that is not Pope Benedict talking, I wager.

      Second, there are certain interesting implications for those of us who understand that the foundational metaphysical world view of modernity is predicated on an assumption directly at odds with the above sentence:

      spacetime.

      • Ignorant Amos

        First, that is not Pope Benedict talking, I wager.

        Cherry picking the hearsay for Jesus...keep it up...just going to get another bowl of popcorn.

  • Howard

    372 comments and counting………

    “Don't stop for nobody
    This time I'll keep my feet on solid ground
    Now I understand myself when I'm down
    Like the sweet sound of hip music
    There'll always be something new
    To keep the tables turning
    Hey this super song
    There'll never be an ending.

    And the beat goes on”

    -The Whispers

  • Ben

    I liked this article for as long as it was about those mismatched Catholic/non-Catholic women who were clearly very much into each other and about to make out drunkenly in the kitchen. I want to hear a lot more about the Catholic one struggling with her faith as she succumbs to wave after wave of pleasure.

    The last two-thirds lost me, though. Obviously Gould's non-overlapping magisteria thing was nonsense. It's not like punctuated equilibria worked out. It seems a little cruel to his memory to emphasise his follies nowadays.

    But please write more about the atheist and the Catholic who have dinner together (alone? doesn't the atheist have a boyfriend? where is the Catholic's husband?) and the way they experiment with the luscious white flesh of the fish as a way of sublimating their desire to experiment with each others' luscious white flesh. I can't help but wonder if that compelling opening is drawn from Stacy Trasancos' own true life experience of bi-curiosity. Perhaps she has had dinner with Leah Libresco, and they ended up guiltily lapping at each others' magisteria. Please write more about this soon.

  • The_Monk

    As the author observes, there is but a single body of Truth. The truth of religion can never depose the truth of science, nor vice versa. Facts have meaning. That thing we know as life is far more than simply a mechanical process. The problems with, say, evolution have less to do with religion than with the fact that the fundamentals of science don't support evolution. True science can NEVER contradict true religion. The contradictions arise from the OPINIONS that individual scientists proffer....

  • michael angelo castoro jr

    What can your background shed on this. During body decomposition the rapture takes place while our microbes remain ascending and descending born again. World without end because science took dominion and subdued the earth.

    • I honestly don't know what you are asking. Can you clarify?

  • Kevin Aldrich

    I've been thinking about an atheist argument I have heard in comments in this post and other places.

    I'm seeing it down in hopes that my atheist buddies can confirm I've got it right or clarify it further if I'm missing something.

    Scientific knowledge is by definition tentative and so always open to revision. By checking results, scientists eliminate errors and science makes progress.

    Theology is by definition “certain” because it is based on assumed dogmas and so is not open to revision. By not checking religious knowledge, theologians cannot eliminate errors so theology makes no progress.

    Because scientists check their uncertain results, they can approach some certainty with confidence. Because theologians cannot check their certain dogmas, they have no idea if their ideas are true.

    Atheists are scientific people who love the truth and so check to confirm what they think and seek to falsify. Religious people love certainty and so choose the comfort
    of certainty over truth.

    • If the above argument survives the inevitable atheist peer review to come, I would love to point out the immediate logical fallacy which is embedded within it.

  • Ben

    I wrote a nice, positive comment saying how much I enjoyed Stacy's touching portrayal of the forbidden love between her and her atheist friend, and it was deleted. I guess because it doesn't fit the narrative of atheists being negative? Honestly, this site...

  • Well written article, Stacy. Yes, people of all different religions, or none, can do science together, when they set preconceptions aside at work. It is harder for some to get to that point, however. In some places in the United States, the Theory of Evolution is so poorly taught in high school biology that the students have to start behind the rest at university. I was listening to a conference on science education in Cairo Egypt where one of the science teachers told how astronomy class had to be halted because Muslim students protested that it was blasphemy to teach that Muhammad had not split the moon.

    • Thank you Q. Any scientist has a priori knowledge, it is necessary for science.

      The Theory of Evolution teaching is way down on the priority list of educational problems. The things a kid needs to know to be successful in college have very little, if anything, to do with knowing about evolutionary biology.

      As far as Cairo goes, yes that's what happens when freedom of thought, religion, and speech are violated. Egypt has never known democracy, even if they call it that for now.

      • Stacy, the question has been examined. Please take a look at:

        http://ncse.com/rncse/18/3/quantifying-importance-evolution

        • That article is about getting into college (passing standardized tests), not being successful once there, or thereafter.

          I appreciate your concern. I have no problem teaching evolution, I support it, I teach it to my own children. I study it myself. I just don't think it is the biggest educational crisis before us, and if your point was that religious values hurt education, I strongly disagree. But that's a whole other discussion.