The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

They ARE Joking, Aren’t They?

April 2, 2009 | 299 Comments

Bonnie Erbe’s April Fools Day post.

How come none of the pro-life commenters seem to get the joke?

Dean Katherine Ragsdale apparently has the same sense of humor as Erbe.

Comments

299 Responses to “They ARE Joking, Aren’t They?”

  1. Christina
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

    Because nothing lifts your spirits and helps you rally after a financial blow quite like a dead baby.

    My dad had just gotten laid off when my mom found out she was pregnant with me. I’m guessing that the proabortion folks wish that my parents had the option of “safe and legal abortion”!

  2. Matthew in Fairfax
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

    A interesting blurb from Lifesite news regarding Rev. Ragsdale’s remarks:

    She posted the sermon, given in Birmingham Alabama in 2007, in August last year, but it has flashed around the “bloggosphere” in the last 24 hours after it was linked to by two of the most popular American Catholic bloggers on the internet, “Diogenes” and Fr. John Zhulsdorf.

    The sermon was removed from her blog earlier today after 59 commenters urged her to repent of her support for abortion.

    After the sermon was removed from her blog, other bloggers found it here:
    http://www.prochoicetexas.org…

  3. Joanne
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

    “Because nothing lifts your spirits and helps you rally after a financial blow quite like a dead baby.”

    I know, right? The article is, among other things, poorly thought out. Recessions are temporary; abortions are forever.

  4. JoAnna
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

    Why don’t these couples consider (a) not having sex if they’re in such dire financial straits, given that no birth control is 100% effective; and/or (b) adoption?

    How can you kill your baby but not give it away? I just don’t get it.

  5. Disgustipated
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

    JoAnna, your heart’s in the right place, but the reality is that people will not stop having sex. You might as well ask them to stop eating, the sex drive is part of our collective desires to survive.

    Though no birth control is 100% effective, at least there are some forms that almost 100% effective. Wouldn’t it make sense to use these forms, instead of attempting the nearly impossible method called abstinence? Think, out of 100 couples having sex, the unprotected birth-rate would be, what… 30, 40 unwanted babies? Just think of the lives saved if the couples used condoms or other BC methods. Then there would only be one or two unwanted babies and fewer abortions.

    Maybe you can abstain, or I could, or some others here and elsewhere. But when you consider a general population, there is no way that a significant majority will participate in complete abstinence from sex. So, we look at alternatives, and birth control makes the most sense.

    Do you agree?

  6. JoAnna
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

    I don’t agree, Disgustipated. I think that social brainwashing is responsible for the notion that people MUST. HAVE. SEX. It’s simply not the case, despite the pervasive message of the MSM. We differ from animals in that we have reason, self-control, and willpower. We can say no. We can suppress our libidos.

    Is it easy? Certainly not. But it is possible — for EVERYONE — especially if you are in a situation where you literally cannot afford to have a child. If that’s the case, abstinence is the ONLY 100% guaranteed method of birth control.

    My husband and I use NFP and our times of abstinence are sometimes a trial, but we persevere because of our love for God and our love for each other.

    What about adoption, Disgustipated? Why do you think so many couples choose to murder their child as opposed to giving their baby both the gift of life as well as blessing another couple with a child?

  7. Louise
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    JoAnna, your heart’s in the right place, but the reality is that people will not stop having sex. You might as well ask them to stop eating, the sex drive is part of our collective desires to survive.

    Which is somewhat undermined by killling the baby your sex drive was driving you to conceive, no?

    I wonder what function the baby-killing drive serves for our collective desire to survive?

  8. frustrated (mk)
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 5:27 am

    You might as well ask them to stop eating, the sex drive is part of our collective desires to survive.

    This is what I keep saying…we call ourselves free, and yet we are actually enslaved.

    Free to have sex.

    Not free NOT to have it.

    Really sad.

  9. Joanne
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    “no way that a significant majority will participate”

    That many won’t participate doesn’t mean that they *can’t.* I can’t imagine a time in history when the means to preventing pregnancy, and failing that, preventing childbirth, have been as accessible and accepted. Yet somehow it doesn’t strike me that the problems that bc and abortion were supposed to fix have gone away over the past 40 or so years. If anything, they seem worse.

    “I wonder what function the baby-killing drive serves for our collective desire to survive?”

    I’ve wondered about this too. Hasn’t human sacrifice been part of alot of non-Christian cultures? What were the reasons for that? If I had to guess, I’d say the reasons we accept abortion are largely the same. Think even about Bonnie Erbe’s fantasy that the other 3 children of the pregnant woman in her story will be better off if their mother aborts their sibling, and that the culture at large is better off if we snuff out this innocent one. It’s the same belief, isn’t it? Individuals, families, and the culture will be more productive and prosperous, if only we offer up something precious in exchange. I think too about the way in which humans are so often able to rationalize treating others’ lives as dispensible. This comes into play also in the acceptance of abortion (obviously).

    In all this we can see again how being prolife saves us from our own most base and primal instincts.

  10. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

    Disgustipated,

    The Catholic Church teaches that parents should exercise responsible parenthood which includes deciding not to have more children if they are unable to care for them:

    “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”
    (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 10, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html)

    In such situations, Catholic moral teaching permits other alternatives than “complete abstinence from sex”:

    If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 16)

    Modern symptom-based methods of Natural Family Planning: the Basal Body Temperature method (1930s), the Billings Ovulation method (1960s), and the Sympto-thermal method (1971) use a combination of indicators of a woman’s fertility and do not assume a regular cycle. Secular medical studies show that, when used properly, these methods are as effective as the contraceptive pill:

    “Researchers have found that a method of natural family planning that uses two indicators to identify the fertile phase in a woman’s menstrual cycle is as effective as the contraceptive pill for avoiding unplanned pregnancies if used correctly, according to a report published online in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction today.”
    (European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology, February 21, 2007, http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/22/5/1310, summary: http://www.doctorslounge.com/gynecology/news/contraception_natural.shtml)

  11. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

    A common objection arises at this point: “Aren’t effective methods of NFP complicated & costly? I guess the poor and illiterate are out of luck…”

    Untrue! Symptom-based NFP methods have been successfully taught on a large-scale to the poor and illiterate.
    The Missionaries of Charity received expert training in the Ovulation method and how to train others to use them effectively. Over the past 40 years, they have taught it to tens of thousands of women (for the most part poor and illiterate) in West Bengal, India using agricultural images.

    R.E.J. Ryder did a study of these women in 1993, and found a very low pregnancy rate. In his article he also cites a 1981 WHO study of 869 women of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds: “Regardless of culture and education, 93% of the women recorded an interpretable ovulatory mucus pattern. Of the El Salvador women, 48.1% were illiterate and yet recognised the mucus symptoms.”

    He concludes his article as follows:

    “It might be argued that natural family planning being cheap, effective, without side effects, and potentially particularly effective and acceptable in areas of poverty may be the family planning method of choice for the Third World. The case for and against this may be argued and debated, but whatever the standpoint there is no doubt that it would be more efficient for the ongoing world debate on overpopulation, resources, environment, poverty, and health to be conducted against a background of truth rather than fallacy. It is therefore important that the misconception that Catholicism is synonymous with ineffective birth control is laid to rest.

    “Understanding the simple facts about the signs of fertility confers considerable power to couples to control their fertility, for achieving as well as preventing conception. The widespread dissemination of these simple facts would be useful everywhere but might be of particular value in the Third World.”
    (Ryder, R.E.J. (1993). Natural family planning: Effective birth control supported by the Catholic church. British Medical Journal, 307, 723-726. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/587813/posts)

  12. frustrated (mk)
    April 4th, 2009 @ 7:01 am

    Fr Terry,

    God is amazing. I was just having this discussion over on my own blog with 4 young people. Any words to help them understand the difference between NFP and artificial birth control?

    http://www.2secondsfaster.com/archives/3859/comment-page-2#comment-6342

  13. Martin T.
    April 4th, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

    You know, since having a baby is just like having an expensive car then I guess an abortion is like having your car repossessed…sort of. What I really mean is a baby is just another “thing”, an economic whatnot that I might want today but not tomorrow.

    This all makes me realise the real cure for abortion is a trade-in center. You know, if you get tired of your kid you could trade it in on a new one. If its a real nice kid, pretty and all that, you could actually get cash back. The centers could break even by selling the good ones to the highest bidder. The lousey ones could all be sold to the military…hey…no more draft for my kids!

  14. Christina
    April 4th, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    The nicest thing about NFP is that it puts the woman in control — she can use it to either reduce or increase the chances of conception, based on her preferences, without having to go back to some medical facility for help. It really respects the woman and her body. It doesn’t treat a woman’s healthy body as if it is pathological and needs to be “cured” with chemicals.

  15. JoAnna
    April 4th, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

    frustrated, this articleContraception: Why Not? by Dr. Janet Smith — is an excellent resource.

  16. Daniel M
    April 4th, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

    If there’s *anything* likely to spike the birth-rate of the ignorant, it’s teaching them that it’s a viable concept to time when to have sex based on arbitrary and poorly-understood bodily queues.

    We know how the body works now, and it’s safe and effective to take advantage of.

    If you don’t like abortions, don’t pretend that “trying not to have sex” (better known as abstinence) actually works. It’s not worked in the entire history of mankind or there’d be a lot less of us humans.

    If you don’t like the pill because you think a fertilized cell is a living, breathing person (quite apart from the benefits due to reduced period pain, reduced breast cancer risk and so on, not to mention the fact that the pill prevents ovulation so there’s no cell to fertilize), then use a condom.

    They’re cheap, they’re effective, they prevent transmission of STD’s and they’re a heck of a lot safer than this NFP bull$#!t.

    The article was a lot funnier when swift wrote it back in the 1700′s

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

  17. frustrated (mk)
    April 4th, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

    LOL, Martin, Don’t be giving Obama/Pelosi/Sebelius any more ideas….

  18. JoAnna
    April 5th, 2009 @ 1:04 am

    Daniel — if you want to intelligently discuss NFP, you may want to do some research before making comments such as the above that display such gross ignorance about the subject.

    Books: Try The Art of Natural Family Planning by John & Sheila Kipley; or, if you’d prefer a secular approach, Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

    Articles: Natural Family Planning Method As Effective As Contraceptive Pill, New Research Finds

    Physicians for Life: NFP Research Database

  19. Daniel M
    April 5th, 2009 @ 4:40 am

    hmm, I stand somewhat corrected – when used correctly (and it sure does sound complicated, with plenty of drawbacks and gotchas) it’s pretty effective.

    Of course, the devil’s in the details – namely it sounds hard to get right, with some studies presenting that 1/4 get it wrong (ie, very close to the number of people getting a baby by actually trying). I think the modern alternatives do better.

    It doesn’t give any of the benefits of the pill and doesn’t protect against disease, which would be the main reason for using condoms in places like Africa above and beyond their ease of use and effectiveness.

    The thing I don’t get though is this – if you think sperm are sacred, and that eggs are people too, then having sex murders 20 million people. Not taking the pill murders more eggs than taking the pill (since it prevents ovulation).

    Why is using a condom and the pill morally worse than deliberately making sure all sperm will die, as will the egg(s) (especially when taking the logically-following view that the pill and condoms “kills” less).

    It’s highly nonsensical, as is deliberately lying about the condom and being implicit in deaths due to aids.

  20. frustrated (mk)
    April 5th, 2009 @ 7:35 am

    If there’s *anything* likely to spike the birth-rate of the ignorant, it’s teaching them that it’s a viable concept to time when to have sex based on arbitrary and poorly-understood bodily queues,

    Oh, someone has a poor understanding all right…but it’s not us…

    Can you say 99% effective with NO side effects????

  21. frustrated (mk)
    April 5th, 2009 @ 7:39 am

    Daniel,

    The thing I don’t get though is this – if you think sperm are sacred, and that eggs are people too, then having sex murders 20 million people. Not taking the pill murders more eggs than taking the pill (since it prevents ovulation).

    And you got this idea, where????

    From Janet Smith:

    Now, this is the most amazing thing when you think about it. Sperm, this little sperm, it does not have an immortal soul. The little sperm does not have an immortal soul. It has a short and sometimes very happy life, but it does not have an immortal soul. And the ovum, you see, it does not have an immortal soul. It can have a short and happy life, but it doesn’t have an immortal soul. And when the two come together, where does that immortal soul come from? The sperm doesn’t carry it. The egg doesn’t carry it. Where does it come from? It comes from a new act of creation by God. In each act of conception, there needs to be a new act of creation by God. One of my priest friends says that “When a new human life is created, the whole universe is changed because something has come into existence which did not exist before and will exist forever.” It’s just like when God made the whole universe, He made something from nothing. And now, He’s made a new soul from nothing. It didn’t exist. There’s not a whole group of souls out there that are sort of waiting around for a landing place. God actually performs a new act of creation. So, when male and female participate in the sexual act, they have opened up this arena which God has designed for bringing forth new human life. And when they contracept, they are slamming that door in God’s face.

    Hmmmmm…the more you read, the more you know…

  22. Daniel M
    April 5th, 2009 @ 9:51 am

    Okay, okay, I think I get it now.

    sperm isn’t people, and an egg isn’t a person…wait, tell me why a condom is wrong again?

    And tell me why deliberately timing when to have sex so as to make sure that fertilization doesn’t occur isn’t at least as wrong as a condom is?

    And why it’s more right to not take the pill and condemn an egg to death (wait, an unfertilized egg isn’t a person, huh?) when taking the pill would prevent even the ovulation?

    If god’s will can be subverted by a tiny pill, he’s not really that mighty, is he? I don’t get this on again, off again god you talk of, I thought he knew everything and was all-powerful?

    If abstinence works so well they have “the ring thing” camps about it (hint, it doesn’t, and the kids who go to them have higher cases of abortion and pregnancy than those who get proper sex education), why do you need NFP? Why isn’t NFP taught in these camps instead?

    If NFP works so well, why do predominately religious people need more abortions?

  23. JoAnna
    April 5th, 2009 @ 11:24 am

    Daniel, read the whole article I referenced earlier… it answers every single one of your questions. An excerpt:

    “The first thing I want to say to such couples, such people, is, “Well, if contraception and Natural Family Planning are the same, why not just use Natural Family Planning?” And you know what they say, “But that would be completely different. I’d have to change everything.” I say, “Wait a second. You just told me there’s no difference and now you tell me it’d be completely different.” But, of course, what they mean is no moral difference, but they recognize that there’d be an enormous lifestyle difference. I say, “But wait a second. If there’s an enormous lifestyle difference, then that may be a hint that there’s some kind of a moral difference as well.” At first, I try to point out to them this simple principle in ethics that the ends do not justify the means. Stated another way: “You must have good means to good ends. Not only your goal must be good, but also the way you get there must be good.” So consider a couple who doesn’t want a child for probably a very good reason. A couple who is contracepting. Another couple using Natural Family Planning. Consider two men, or individuals, who both want to support their family. One robs a bank and one gets a job. They’re both doing the same thing — they’re both supporting their family, but they’ve chosen very different means.”

    For the record, I have used both the Pill (from 2001-2003) and NFP (2003-present). I find NFP much easier, and much more satisfying in terms of my health and my sex life. When I was on the Pill, it KILLED my libido. We could’ve had sex whenever we wanted, but I NEVER wanted to. It put a strain on our marriage.

    Everything changed when we converted to Catholicism and started using NFP. The temporary periods of abstinence are actually quite wonderful for our relationship; it builds anticipation and makes our non-fertile times very fun!

  24. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 6:04 am

    Dan,

    The first thing you have to ask is “Why do we have sex”. If you answer with a secular answer, then contraception makes perfect sense. If you answer with a Catholic perspective then you see sex in a whole different light.

    The long answer can be found by reading Theology of the Body.

    The short answer, is that God created the Natural World. It is ruled by what we call “Natural Law”…this law entails morality as well. The Moral Natural Law means that you work “with” nature, and behave in a way that conforms to how things were “Meant” to be. This should not be confused with Nature. Natural Law means Nature as she was meant to be, not nature when she runs amok. Hence, cancer is natural, but it is not following natural law. Cancer cells are not Nature gone right, but Nature gone wrong.

    Natural Law also means that our bodies were designed for specific purposes and to act in a certain way. It was not designed to have fertility cut off. It was designed so that you can tell when fertility occurs.

    It is morally licit to work with your body to achieve pregnancy or avoid pregnancy for serious reasons. It is not morally licit to mess with your body to stop a process that isn’t broken.

    Taking drugs to cure cancer is moral. Cancer is nature gone wrong, chemo is a solution that brings the body back to where it was intended to be.

    Fertility is the body acting normally. The pill is designed to “break” something that is working properly.

    Sex, within the Catholic Context, is for two purposes. One is to unite on a metaphysical as well as physical level with your spouse, and only your spouse. It is meant to be a mystical experience that images God’s relationship with us. The Eucharist is our “sexual” experience with God. Or put more properly, sex is our Eucharistic experience with our spouse.

    When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are experiencing Him both physically and spiritually, a mystical union.

    In the marriage bed, this is known as the Unitive purpose for sex. A way for a husband and wife, to become “ONE” on a mystical level. To cease being two people and to become One person.

    The second reason we have sex, is to create new life. This life is a gift from God. It is God’s way of allowing us to participate in His ability to make “new” souls. In His mercy and love, He has allowed us to share in this miracle.

    Contracepting is a major sin of pride. First it is rejecting the opportunity to participate with God in the greatest gift He has ever given us, and second it says that YOU know better than GOD. To love God is to trust God. To allow Him total control of your life. The paradox, is that the more control you give Him, the more freedom you attain.

    As I have said, our society is free to have sex whenever we want it, but we don’t seem free to abstain from sex. We are obsessed with it. We are slaves to it. So much so, that we are willing to sever our relationship with God to maintain the illusion that WE are in control, and that unrestricted sex is our Man given right. So much so, that we kill our own children, to protect this false right.

    So to sum up:

    Artifical contraception tries to fix something that isn’t broken, when actually it is breaking something that is working just as it was meant to.

    It takes control away from God and places it in our hands.

    It refuses God’s gifts to us, most notably marital union and new life.

    It goes against Natural Law, as opposed to NFP which works WITH Natural Law, breaking nothing.

    It objectifies our bodies, separating them from our souls and reduces us to mere animals. It takes away the unitive aspect of the sexual union.

    Marriage is supposed to reflect our relationship with God and His with us. It must be TOTAL giving. Not TOTAL taking. A total self donation. Contraception means holding part of yourself back. It says I give you myself except for this one part.

    And lastly the pill is meant to stop ovulation, but there are many scientists who acknowledge that what is known as breakthrough ovulation could occur, resulting in a FERTILIZED egg, or a new life, which would not be able to implant, thus actually taking a life.

    The condom, while not directly killing a new life, interferes with the Total Donation of oneself to their spouse, in that it is “holding back” a part of himself.

    NFP is Natural Law in practice. Artificial contraception is contrary to Natural Law and morally wrong.

  25. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 6:19 am

    Daniel,

    If abstinence works so well they have “the ring thing” camps about it (hint, it doesn’t, and the kids who go to them have higher cases of abortion and pregnancy than those who get proper sex education)

    First, abstinece works 100% of the time. What doesn’t work is when you DON’T practice it. The only way to get pregnant is to have sex. If you are having sex, then you are not practicing abstinence. What you are really saying is that people are weak. But to say that abstinence doesn’t work is simply incorrect. That’s like saying the pill doesn’t work. Of course it works. IF you take it properly. Abstinence works. IF you abstain. Go figure.

    As to religious people becoming pregnant…duh. ALL people that have sex can become pregnant. Faith doesn’t make you more fertile. Obviously, if people of faith are having sex outside of marriage and getting pregnant, they are not following their faith. Again, the fault lies not with the faith, but with the failure of people to practice it.

    Abstinence, Faith and the pill only work if the people are using them properly.

    Also, I’d like to see some stats that say kids who attempt to practice abstinence have higher rates of abortion…that’s just nonsense, and perhaps wishful thinking.

    If you look at the latest Gallup Poll you’ll see that there is a great difference between people views when they PRACTICE their faith, then when they don’t. Being Catholic in name only, can skew the stats on what “Catholics” are doing and not doing.

    Just look at Notre Dame. Father Jenkins may be a Catholic, but inviting Obama to speak at a school named after Our Lady, is hardly a good indicator of where the Catholic Church stands on abortion. Calling yourself Catholic does not make you Catholic. Any more than claiming to practice abstinence makes you celibate. You have to actually practice abstince, just as you have to actually live out your faith.

  26. Daniel M
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

    @23: i read the whole article and remain unimpressed and unenlightened. I’d have to put the rosary coloured specs back on to agree with it – to whit, sex is about bonding between married couples (fine) but somehow using contraceptives…cheapens the act? I was all set to believe you until that threw me for a loop (though I’m sure you’ll just say “yes, he gets it!” and leave it there). I don’t get why a married couple can’t bond just as well with contraceptives as without. If NFP is as good as the studies all say it is, then great – for couples who find that condoms irritate them or the pill kills the libido then it’s a fine alternative.

    For those not in the position to enjoy sex when they choose, or who can’t handle another kid to join the ones they’ve already got, or who find themselves forced to prostitute themselves, or who run the risk of disease (or any and all of the above) then barrier methods far outweigh any alternatives, a pragmatic approach which I find it hard to believe a supreme being would have a problem with. If you look at it secularly, then it’s human psychology and is indeed testable. Maybe somebody should do a study, it should be easy enough.

  27. Daniel M
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

    @24: thank you very much for writing that, I think it sums up exactly the catholic/religious viewpoints.

    I happen to have a hard time placing it upon the pedastal you do – it’s amoral to you. You’d have to prove your version of the magical sky daddy is actually the one true sky daddy to get everyone to agree to it, it’s something that can’t be argued with, as you stated at the beginning – secularly, contraception is morally right.

    I do have a beef with saying it’s immoral, simply because I reject the notion that morality must come from a superbeing, and that the morals dictated by your version of a superbeing are necessarily correct.

    further more, I think that labelling some things as “natural but not right” is cherry-picking. If all things are god’s will, then dying of cancer is natural and right, and interfering with that is wrong. Some say blood transfusions are wrong for the same reasons.

    I submit that one could say that our deciphering of the human body and ability to make condoms is god’s will, since it’s using the intellect he gave us.

  28. Daniel M
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

    @25: that’s not how the world works.

    If you have a method which you want to study, you need to study not only if it works as intended, but what the side-effects are.

    A glaring side-effect with abstinence is that most people can’t stick to it. If you’re going to teach that abstinence is 100% effective since some random study says so, but ignore those who don’t get it right, that’s a lie. A sin of omission, if you will.

    If you want to study a new birth control pill, you look at how many women can keep on taking it without symptoms, if not what they are, and last but not least how many find it hard to follow directions and why, and what happened if they failed to do as directed.

    I am worried by those who trumpet NFP for example that they will willfully remove from the study those who do not do as directed and subsequently get pregnant, since that furthers their agenda and allows them to downplay the risks by simply adding the catch-all “if persued as directed” without highlighting the extent of when and how it goes wrong (hence I’ve seen a few examples of suggesting that 25% of couples using NFP get pregnant).

    Would you suggest that thalidomide is still a wonderful drug for morning sickness now that you know the side-effects?

  29. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

    Daniel M,

    For those not in the position to enjoy sex when they choose, or who can’t handle another kid to join the ones they’ve already got, or who find themselves forced to prostitute themselves, or who run the risk of disease (or any and all of the above)…

    LOL, I’m pretty sure that by the time people are prostituting themselves, they’ve already decided not to care one way or the other what the Supreme Being thinks. And I’m pretty sure the Supreme Being wouldn’t be worrying about whether a prostitute was using condoms…

  30. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

    Daniel M,

    further more, I think that labelling some things as “natural but not right” is cherry-picking. If all things are god’s will, then dying of cancer is natural and right, and interfering with that is wrong. Some say blood transfusions are wrong for the same reasons.

    I submit that one could say that our deciphering of the human body and ability to make condoms is god’s will, since it’s using the intellect he gave us.

    I wouldn’t sweat it. Lots of people have a hard time understanding the difference between Natural and Natural Law.

    Unfortunately, if you can’t get Natural Law, then you aren’t going to understand “breaking it”.

    I would be willing to bet that you would think it was morally wrong to GIVE someone cancer, tho. Why?

    Dying of cancer, could be God’s plan for that person, but it is not the plan for all people. The body was not created to make cancer cells. We all die, so ultimately, everyone’s body will “break” the natural law. Something will go wrong. The point of course is that when things go wrong, it is God’s will and not ours.

    He set up these natural laws, so that the world would work correctly. Just like a watch. Change one piece of the watch, and it won’t keep time. It will no longer act the way it was created to act. It will no longer be following it’s natural law.

    The sun comes up in the east every day. Sets in the west. It follows a pattern. This is it’s “law”. It is also nature, yes, but it follows certain “laws” of nature.

    Everything in nature follows laws. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it cannot produce. Rain is water drawn up and poured down, in a discernible cycle. Gravity pulls things down. The entire world, ourselves included, operate on a set of laws. Surely you can see that?

    Surely, you understand that the laws of nature, when followed as intended, do not produce cancer cells. Please tell me you get at least that, or we really can’t go any further.

  31. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

    Daniel M,

    I submit that one could say that our deciphering of the human body and ability to make condoms is god’s will, since it’s using the intellect he gave us.

    One could say anything.

    But these aren’t childrens games. These are matters of life and death. Both in this world and the next. These are not ideas thrown around by a bunch of bored college students. Great, great minds have discovered natural laws, and great great minds have discerned natural moral law. This isn’t my argument. This is THE argument, and it has been going on since time began.

    There are good arguments out there on whether moral law can be objective, or whether it is subjective. And if it is objective, whether it comes from outside or inside.

    But “one could say” is not one of those arguments.

  32. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

    Daniel M,

    A glaring side-effect with abstinence is that most people can’t stick to it. If you’re going to teach that abstinence is 100% effective since some random study says so, but ignore those who don’t get it right, that’s a lie. A sin of omission, if you will.

    I’m getting the sense that you are young. If I’m wrong I apologize, but your arguments sound a lot like my teenage sons…

    You say that some random study says that abstinence is 100% effective.

    I can think of only one instance in the entire history of the world, where abstinence used properly, failed. And you don’t accept that God was born of a virgin, so there goes that case.

    All I can do, is ask you to point out an instance where abstinence, used properly failed, and then wait to see what you come up with. If a person practicing abstinence ends up pregnant, it happened during a time when they FAILED to practice abstinence, not when they SUCCEEDED in practicing abstinence. Pregnancy is the result of sex. Period. If someone is pregnant, they had sex. If they had sex, by definition, they were not abstaining. It’s that simple.

    As to people not being able to refrain from having sex, well, that is a different conversation. I keep saying, people these days are free to have sex, but they are not free not to have sex. They are not free at all. It is an illusion.

    When sex becomes more important than life, than relationships, than self worth, than dignity, than EVERYTHING else, then sex has become disordered. You should really be asking yourself why you find it so hard to reserve sex for the times when you can accept the consequences and when it is morally licit to do so.

  33. Joanne
    April 6th, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

    “I’m pretty sure that by the time people are prostituting themselves, they’ve already decided not to care one way or the other what the Supreme Being thinks.”

    I know alot of women who have come out of the sex industry, and I think the issue is not so much that they “decide not to care” what God thinks. It seems to me that prostitution (as well as stripping) is like abortion in the sense that it’s not so much a “choice” that women freely make as something they do when they feel they are out of choices. I don’t know any little girl who has ever grown up wanting to strip or prostitute herself, or to have an abortion. It seems there is always some desperation involved with both, either emotional or financial. The sex industry is also not exactly a great resume-builder; it becomes a trap.

  34. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

    Daniel,

    These are ALL things that can happen if you use the birth control pill the way it was INTENDED! There are NO side effects from abstinence if used as INTENDED! This is what you are not getting. Pregnancy is not a side effect. It is not a disease. It is the NATURAL consequence of the sexual act. It is SUPPOSED to happen. It is MEANT to happen. Contraception is fixing something that is NOT broken, and very likely breaking it in the process.

    THESE are side effects:

    Are There Side Effects Associated HC?

    Yes, although the majority are not serious. They include:

    * Nausea
    * Weight gain
    * Sore or swollen breasts
    * Small amount of blood, or spotting, between periods
    * Lighter periods
    * Mood changes

    The following side effects, easily remembered by the word “ACHES,” are less common but more serious. If you experience any of these, contact your doctor immediately. If you cannot reach your doctor, go to an emergency room or urgent care center for evaluation. These symptoms may indicate a serious disorder, such as liver disease, gallbladder disease, stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure, or heart disease. They include:

    * Abdominal pain (stomach pain)
    * Chest pain
    * Headaches (severe)
    * Eye problems (blurred vision)
    * Swelling and/or aching in the legs and thighs

    Can Any Woman Take HC?

    HC can be taken safely by most women, but is not recommended for women who are over the age of 35 and smoke. If you don’t smoke, you can use HC until menopause. In addition, you should not take HC if you have had:

    * Blood clots
    * Serious heart or liver disease
    * Cancer of the breast or uterus

    http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pill?page=3

    This is NOT a side effect:

    Pregnancy after sex.

  35. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    JoAnne,

    While that is true, Daniel made the assertion that God intended prostitutes to use contraception. The rest of my argument proceeded from there. By the time you are prostituting yourself, regardless of your reasons, it’s pretty late in the game to be worrying about whether or not God wants you to use contraception…

  36. some random guy
    April 6th, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

    Daniel,

    Just a thought… you mention:

    “A glaring side-effect with abstinence is that most people can’t stick to it. If you’re going to teach that abstinence is 100% effective since some random study says so, but ignore those who don’t get it right, that’s a lie. A sin of omission, if you will.”

    I think the problem you’re having is that you define abstinence as “trying not to have sex”. This is incorrect. To abstain from something means to refrain from that thing altogether. For instance, if I say I’m abstaining from eating cake, I mean I’m not eating cake. period. If I eat the cake, then I’m no longer abstaining. Similarly with sex, when I’m practicing abstinence, it simply means I’m not having sex. If I’m TRYING to be abstinent and do have sex, I’m not practicing abstinence any more. The failure lies on my part, not on the part of the abstention itself. So you can’t say a side effect of abstinence is that people have sex… that’s like saying a side effect of not eating cake is that people eat cake… it just doesn’t follow.

    Does that make sense?

    So when you say what I quoted above, you run into an immediate logical flaw due to your previous misunderstanding. Sexual abstinence is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Take the cake example again: What if I want to avoid digesting any cake… then the 100% effective solution to that dilemma is to abstain from cake. If you don’t want to digest cake, don’t eat cake. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. How is that not 100% effective? Does it really take a study to figure that out???

    You then say:

    If you want to study a new birth control pill, you look at how many women can keep on taking it without symptoms, if not what they are, and last but not least how many find it hard to follow directions and why, and what happened if they failed to do as directed.

    Your analogy is flawed. Consider abstinence as a pill meant for testing… So we test the pill according to your standards… but what if the test subjects forget to take the pill throughout the study? What if they deliberately don’t take it because they’re too lazy to swallow a pill? Does that mean the pill itself is not effective? I don’t think so… If my doctor gives me allergy meds and I don’t take them, then what would my doctor say when I showed up and yelled “your crappy pills don’t work”? He’d call me a loony. The defect is in me, not the medicine he prescribed. Likewise abstinence can’t be judged by the people who choose not to be abstinent… It just doesn’t make sense…

    Does that help?

  37. frustrated (mk)
    April 6th, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

    For some random guy, you sure did a great job with that…;)

  38. BlackMadonna
    April 6th, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

    Daniel, A reason why abstinence did not work in the nations schools has a lot to do with the fact that there was no solid religous indoctrination to go along with it. All of the people who have responded to you have a faith that informs their actions, while such faith cannot and should not be taught in a classroom. Conservatives will never be able to put the teaching of religion into our schools and so compromised the spirit of their religous beliefs by putting abstinence education into a secular setting.

  39. JoAnna
    April 6th, 2009 @ 9:22 pm

    Regarding abstinence programs in educational settings, there are good abstinence programs and bad abstinence programs. Most of the studies seem to be done on the bad ones.

    Good programs are supported by home instruction (this is absolutely KEY) and start in middle school and continue on to high school, even college. Bad abstinence programs start in high school when 50% of the kids have already had sex, involve a 10-20 minute lecture (maybe longer) about why sex is bad, have everyone sign a pledge card, and send the kids on their merry way with no further instruction.

    I can’t say I’m very surprised when studies then come out saying that abstinence programs like the latter fail. Unfortunately, those are the programs that seem to make it into most schools given that they’re cheaper than the more intensive programs to include in a curriculum.

    Daniel, are you married, or in a serious relationship? I ask to gain a better understanding of your background as well as the experiences you’ve had with the subject matter at hand. If you’d rather not share, I understand.

  40. some random guy
    April 6th, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

    Thanks frustrated (mk)!

    @ BlackMadonna

    You wrote the following and it left me a bit confused:

    “All of the people who have responded to you have a faith that informs their actions, while such faith cannot and should not be taught in a classroom. Conservatives will never be able to put the teaching of religion into our schools and so compromised the spirit of their religous beliefs by putting abstinence education into a secular setting.”

    I’m sure we could go round and round about what should be taught in a classroom (for instance, I think basic philosophy and logic should be mandatory in HS)… but that’s an aside. What I really am thrown by is your claim that the efficacy of abstinence is somehow relegated to the realm of “religious belief”. To me at least, it’s not that hard to deduce without invoking revelation: the only way to get pregnant is by sexual intercourse. Pregnancy following said intercourse can be prevented in some circumstances with varying effectiveness through contraception. However, the 100% foolproof, unassailable way to not get pregnant is abstinence.

    Where’d I miss the religion?

    Then we could bring in some simple statistics about contraception and birth control, some of which were mentioned above, as well as some psychology which would buttress the well documented fact that teens aren’t exactly the most emotionally bunch, and well… the case for contraception just doesn’t look so good.

    THEN we bring in the simple probability demonstration: For instance, if you roll a fair die, your probability of rolling a 6 is 1/6, right? Well what’s the probability of rolling two 6′s in a row? That’s 1/6 * 1.6, right? Well the same works for contraceptives. Even if we assume a 99% rate of success with contraceptives, the chances of surviving 100 sexual encounters sans pregnancy using that 99% effective condom falls to around 37%. (STD transmission is muuuuuch lower :) ) Needless to say, even with the “properly contracepting” teen… the horny little bugger WILL spawn a child eventually. The probability of success will fall off to zero.

    Now remind me… what is 0^100 again? oh yes, that’s right. It’s zero. So after abstaining from 100 possible sexual encounters, the abstinent teen still has a 0.0% chance of getting pregnant.

    I dunno about you all, but I don’t think I mentioned religion at all in any of that… So why can’t we teach simple math in schools?

  41. some random guy
    April 6th, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

    sigh… it should be (1/6 * 1/6)… stupid keyboard…

  42. BlackMadonna
    April 6th, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    What I refered to in my comments was the posts from frustrated and JoAnna. I was not specifically refering to your post, but I feel the need to ask: Are you fully commited to abstinence yourself, and if so, is it a secualr decision for you, or does a connection to God and a desire to do right in his eyes see you through temptation?

  43. BlackMadonna
    April 6th, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    Oy vey, sorry I meant secular. There, that’s better.

  44. Daniel M
    April 7th, 2009 @ 2:40 am

    “Perfect use” isn’t the problem. It’s imperfect use, general use, ease of use, that’s the key.

    If you teach abstinence as “the only 100% effective method of birth control” and gee golly whiz, it is, but shrug your shoulders and go “meh, they weren’t abstinent!” when people aren’t, then you’re overlooking the fact that being abstinent is very, very hard. You’re ignoring the fact that “abstinence” if treated like a pill should take into account failure rates which include somebody not being abstinent.

    Or are you seriously saying that everyone who tries to be abstinent, is? They aren’t.

    In addition to that, because of the lies taught them, like that condoms have microscopic holes that let sperm through, or the pill gives you cancer, or is certain to give you horrible side-effects, the kids learning about abstinence as the only way end up having more kids and more abortions than those who learn about “secular” birth control.

    I think telling kids not to have sex is a good idea, but I would follow it up with alternatives and truth, especially given that kids don’t stay abstinent (heck, adults don’t).

    @36: my analogy is not flawed, I suggest you read the portion you highlighted again, since I explicitly said that failure rates with the pill are taken into account, it’s an important measure to determine effectiveness. If 70+ % of couples using abstinence fail to stay abstinent, it’s only 30% effective.

    I might as well say “if used properly and it doesn’t break, a condom is 100% effective” because…well…it is.

    Even studies which take into account not putting them on properly, breakages and people who can’t be bothered at all after buying them still find condoms to be over 99% effective.

    Of course, you’re convinced that a broken condom and a broken promise aren’t the same in this context.

    @30: you’re confusing nature, natural philosophy and naturalism. You’re suggesting that cancer is unnatural, probably because you assume that nature was perfected ~6k years ago. Biology, anthropology, archeology and many more scientific disciplines would suggest otherwise.

    It may be interesting to note that at many times in the world’s past, the sun has come up in the West and set in the East, if you agree with the evidence.

  45. Daniel M
    April 7th, 2009 @ 2:46 am

    @40 (and anyone who uses this sort of math to try to prove anything):

    your reasoning is highly flawed, and I suggest you ask a maths teacher to tell you why, but I will try here:

    throw a dice – the chance of getting a 6 is 1/6

    throwing a dice again doesn’t change your chance of getting another six, it’s still 1/6.

    The act of throwing a dice doesn’t convey information from one throw to the other. It’s not more likely to get a 6 and a 1 than it is to get a 4 and a 3.

    The chance to get 6 and 6 is a different question, that is 1/36.

    that <1% chance to get pregnant is more like throwing a 100-sided dice every time you have sex, and getting pregnant if you get 23 and only if you get 23.

    It doesn’t mean that if you have sex 100 times with a condom you will get pregnant. It doesn’t mean if you use NFP that after 100 times in the sack you’ll get pregnant, statistics don’t work like that.

    This is basic math, people – I learnt about it when I was a child.

  46. Daniel M
    April 7th, 2009 @ 2:58 am

    frustrated, “one could say” is a very good argument. If you say that god created us with intelligence, then using that intelligence to discern the world around us and take advantage of it is natural.

    It is close to Spinoza’s god – everything we do or can do is natural, or we wouldn’t be able to do it.

    If you want to talk morality, then you have the assumption that it is objective or subjective – if it’s objective then you’re right. If it’s subjective then you’re wrong.

    The source of morality is something that has been argued about for ages by minds greater than mine or yours, and the argument isn’t one sided. If you are ignorant of such things as the humanist manifesto and secular morality then educate yourself. I have read both, and find the religious viewpoint lacking. It boils down to either “god said it right here therefore it’s true” or assuming the secular idea that it’s written down in a book because at some time some people agreed on that moral code.

    Brow-beating me with arguments from authority will not work.

    If your teenaged sons are asking the exact same question, then ask yourself if they have a point, since they seem to be making the same one I am – that uninformed ignorance is not the same as informed choice.

    I am not young, I don’t take that as an insult – if you’d called my childish I would have (and that may be what you meant). You may decide yourself if that was an ad hominem attack or not, I’m nonplussed.

  47. frustrated (mk)
    April 7th, 2009 @ 5:16 am

    I might as well say “if used properly and it doesn’t break, a condom is 100% effective” because…well…it is.,/i>

    That’s the point Daniel. No, it isn’t. Even if used exactly the way it is meant to be used, it is NOT 100% effective. And it isn’t a lie that condoms break or have holes. It’s a fact. It’s a chance you are taking.

    How often do condoms break or slip off?

    In the United States, most studies of breakage caused by fault in the condom itself have shown breakage rate is less than 2 condoms out of every 100 condoms. Studies also indicate that condoms slip off the penis in about 1-5% of acts of vaginal intercourse and slip down (but not off) about 3-13% of the time.20

    This is from a site that PROMOTES condom use! So if the stats are skewed, they’re skewed in your favor, not ours.

    http://www.avert.org/condoms.htm

    The pill if used perfectly is also NOT 100% effective. That’s also a fact. Not a lie. And it does cause certain types of cancer. It might also prevent certain types, but that doesn’t change the fact that it causes certain types.

    Here is a link to the National Cancer Institute. I trust that they are an acceptable source?

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/oral-contraceptives

  48. frustrated (mk)
    April 7th, 2009 @ 5:32 am

    Daniel,

    If you say that god created us with intelligence, then using that intelligence to discern the world around us and take advantage of it is natural.

    Again, you are simply not getting the difference between natural and Natural Law. As I said, until you do, we’re kind of stuck…

    The source of morality is something that has been argued about for ages by minds greater than mine or yours, and the argument isn’t one sided. If you are ignorant of such things as the humanist manifesto and secular morality then educate yourself. I have read both, and find the religious viewpoint lacking. It boils down to either “god said it right here therefore it’s true” or assuming the secular idea that it’s written down in a book because at some time some people agreed on that moral code.

    I as much as said the same thing. The only difference is that you have only allowed for 2 choices, while I have 3.

    Morality is objective and it comes from without.

    Morality is objective and it comes from within.

    Morality is subjective.

    If you adhere to either 1 or 2, we can talk. If you adhere to 3, then I’m afraid there is not much to say.

    I have not brow beaten you with authority. I don’t believe I have mentioned God at all except in the very first posts dealing with NFP as that is where the conversation started. You, however, keep bringing Him up. Many people that do NOT believe in God, DO believe in Objective Moral Law. They recognize that there are certain behaviors that have been unacceptable to societies since day one.

    Objective Moral Law is something that is “discovered” as is Natural Law. Subjective Law is something that is invented.

    No one, anywhere, argues that there is no Natural Law. All of science is based on this. What they argue is that there is Natural Moral Law.

    No society, anywhere, that adhered strictly to subjective Moral Law has ever lasted for any notable period of time. Eventually, they fall apart.

    Recognizing that there is Objective Moral Law, is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The minute we revert to subject moral law, better known as moral relativism, we begin to revert to beasts and start to lose our distinctly human nature. The very nature that we think we are controlling, begins to control us.

    So right now, we stand at, you don’t believe in God. You don’t believe in Objective Moral Law, either that comes from within or without and you don’t understand Natural Law.

    This conversation has hit a wall I’m afraid.

  49. frustrated (mk)
    April 7th, 2009 @ 5:49 am

    Daniel M,

    If your teenaged sons are asking the exact same question, then ask yourself if they have a point, since they seem to be making the same one I am – that uninformed ignorance is not the same as informed choice.

    Well, I agree with that last statement. Where we disagree is with which one of us is uninformed and ignorant. I am not the one that claims abstinence is not 100% effective, that birth control does not raise the risk of cancer, that NFP is ” based on arbitrary and poorly-understood bodily queues.”, that condoms are 100% effective if used properly, that pregnancy is a “side effect”, that natural is the same as Natural Law, that condoms don’t break or slip off…about the only thing you’ve gotten right so far, is the statistics post.

    @30: you’re confusing nature, natural philosophy and naturalism. You’re suggesting that cancer is unnatural, probably because you assume that nature was perfected ~6k years ago. Biology, anthropology, archeology and many more scientific disciplines would suggest otherwise.

    It may be interesting to note that at many times in the world’s past, the sun has come up in the West and set in the East, if you agree with the evidence.

    Once again, it is not I that am confused. Your sun example, while dubious, proves my point. Those times that the sun allegedly set in the east are notable, beeeeecccccaaaaaauuuuuuusssseeeee…

    wait for it…

    They went AGAINST Natural Law. When it rains fish, we all say “OOOOH, cool”, why? Because it’s not SUPPOSED to rain fish. If I started to float right now, you’d be amazed, why? Because it goes AGAINST the Natural Law of Gravity. If I became pregnant without ever having sex, you’d be dumbstruck. Why? Because Natural Law requires sex for pregnancy to occur.

    While the term Natural Law, CAN be used to describe a philosophy, I have gone out of my way to separate the two. I have specifically used the terms Natural Law and Natural Moral Law, to make sure that we understood each other.

    Granted, I am using Natural Law to defend Natural Moral Law, but I have made a distinction. Perhaps, you’d be more comfortable with different term? Physical Laws?

  50. some random guy
    April 7th, 2009 @ 7:43 am

    BlackMadonna,

    Yes I am committed to abstinence until I’m married. Quite honestly, it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the sum and totality of what sexual intercourse is actually meant to do. I think the logic and philosophy behind my decision is quite solid apart from faith. If you like, I can share it with you, though it’ll probably take some time.

    Daniel M,

    I guess I’ll go in reverse order. Have you ever taken a course in probability? Just asking cause there’s this entire method of calculating probability via prior conditions (information from past events) called conditional probability. It’s very valid. Fortunately though, I don’t even use conditional probability to buttress my example. I have to admit, I am confused by what you say though:

    “throw a dice – the chance of getting a 6 is 1/6

    throwing a dice again doesn’t change your chance of getting another six, it’s still 1/6.

    The act of throwing a dice doesn’t convey information from one throw to the other. It’s not more likely to get a 6 and a 1 than it is to get a 4 and a 3.

    The chance to get 6 and 6 is a different question, that is 1/36.”

    I think that confusion is on your part. See, you actually support what I said in your last sentence. If we ask “using a method of contraception that’s 99% effective, what are the chances of 100 sexual encounters not resulting in pregnancy? It’s .99*.99*.99*.99 … etc. Or (.99^100) which equals 37% like I reported. It’s ok though, while I don’t have a math teacher close at hand to ask, I’ll just look in the mirror and ask the dude with the physics and math degrees looking back if I’ve got it straight. Hold on a minute.

    He says yes.

    Anyway, your other objection to what I said is not based on my failure as you speculate, but on your apparent inability to make proper distinctions. So I ask again: Pretend I’m a pharmacist wanting to know what the efficacy of Allegra is. I round up 100 test subjects and give them all the pills, instructing them each to take only 1 pill a day. Let’s say 98 of them comply, and 2 blow off the study… Now, out of those 98, a few say they felt great (38%), and a large portion say that 1 pill a day isn’t enough to make a difference (60%). I note this all as a pharmacist and say something like 60% report little change in symptoms. Why didn’t I include the 2%? Cause they didn’t freaking take the pill… It would be wrong of me, both statistically and ethically to say that those 2% represent failures on behalf of the allegra. It’s just lunacy. It’s not like the pill refused to be swallowed, or ran away and hid each morning. It’s not even like it had a bad taste. You can’t count the failure to take an allergy med as a failure of allergy meds…

    So I ask “You’re ignoring the fact that “abstinence” if treated like a pill should take into account failure rates which include somebody not being abstinent.”

    Why? That makes no sense. It’s really really easy not to have sex. I’m about to step onto the metro this morning and ride to work with 100′s of beautiful women. I’m not magically or magnetically drawn to humping their leg like a horny jack russel. I’m not forced by some primal urge to make love to them. If I’m at home with my girlfriend and things start to get intimate, you know how I avoid having sex? I leave my pants buttoned and zipped. If we feel the urge, we take a breather. In fact, the only way for us to have sex is if we both will it. We both say, let’s have sex. I don’t see how anyone who’s really committed to abstinence would be bamboozled into finding themselves naked in bed. Sure people are tempted and lack willpower, but that’s not the fault of the method, that’s the fault of the person.

    What’s more, if we take up your conjecture that for some reason defects in willpower equal defects in method, then why the heck would we not include it with contraception as well? It’s not like in the heat of the moment no-one’s ever forgotten to put on a condom before. Even if we allow that absurdity, then contraception and abstinence are both effected: neither is effective if it’s not actually used, and only partially effective if used intermittently.

    So I ask, why embrace the absurd?

  51. Catholic Cat
    April 7th, 2009 @ 7:57 am

    It appears as if A.N. Wilson (author of God’s Funeral) has become a Christian.

  52. Daniel M
    April 7th, 2009 @ 7:57 am

    I am not denying that actually not having sex results in no pregnancies.

    I am saying that staying abstinent is too difficult in a large number of cases, and that the alternatives such as condoms (<1% pregnancy rate) and the pill (<1% pregnancy rate) DO work as advertised.

    I am saying that teachings about these alternatives is deliberately lacking and/or incorrect, resulting in an overall higher pregnancy and abortion rate for religious couples than secular ones.

    The statistics back me up, and I therefore think it is immoral not to teach that.

    I think your version of natural law is actually religious law somehow bound together, an amalgam of church doctrine and dogma from Aquinas’ or other similar sources and I contend that many would not agree with your statement towards it’s objectivity without proving whence it came – if god doesn’t exist, then church dogma is “made up”, subjective, not objective. Your objections to the pill and to the condom follow from that dogma and subjectivity, and not from any hard and fast law of nature of the same class as gravity or electromagnetism.

    As Aristotle would have said, any law which can be broken is no law at all.

  53. frustrated (mk)
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:11 am

    Daniel M,

    Ummmm…I’m pretty sure Aristotle is on my side…

    First, then, let us take laws and see how they are to be used in persuasion and dissuasion, in accusation and defence. If the written law tells against our case, clearly we must appeal to the universal law, and insist on its greater equity and justice. We must argue that the juror’s oath “I will give my verdict according to honest opinion” means that one will not simply follow the letter of the written law. We must urge that the principles of equity are permanent and changeless, and that the universal law does not change either, for it is the law of nature, whereas written laws often do change. This is the bearing the lines in Sophocles’ Antigone, where Antigone pleads that in burying her brother she had broken Creon’s law, but not the unwritten law:

    I am saying that teachings about these alternatives is deliberately lacking and/or incorrect, resulting in an overall higher pregnancy and abortion rate for religious couples than secular ones.
    The statistics back me up, and I therefore think it is immoral not to teach that.

    Ummmmm…No, they don’t. As I’ve shown.

    The problem with claiming that religious people have more abortions is threefold. One, there are more religious people in the general population. Two, Not all religions oppose abortion. As far as I know, only the Catholic Church opposes abortion as part of their doctrine. I mean a hindu or a wiccan are considered religious people. Why would they NOT have an abortion? And Last, just because someone was “born” into a religion, does not mean that they are practicing it. I have 4 sons, three of which do not practice their faith, yet all four would claim to be Catholic…

  54. some random guy
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:14 am

    Heh, I was thinking on the train this morning, and I now understand where we’re having a mis-communication about the probability, Daniel. Did you think that I meant that an individual method of contraception such as a condom somehow degrades in success with each use? Like a probabilistic half life? If so, then your comment makes a bit more sense, but it wasn’t how I meant it. Ah well.

  55. frustrated (mk)
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:20 am

    Daniel,

    Also the Catholic Church is the only one that is opposed to birth control. So while protestants might be having abortion, there is no evidence that they weren’t also using birth control.

    Which would be an argument for my side, which is that birth control does nothing to stem unwanted pregnancies or abortions…in fact, birth control gives one a false sense of security, resulting in more sex, and as we have already shown, it is sex that causes pregnancy.

    If birth control was the answer to the problem of unwanted pregnancies then there would be less, not MORE of them. Which of course, is not the case.

  56. Daniel M
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:30 am

    @49: Ok, you know what, I’m going to add up using your method what the chance is of becoming pregnant using a condom which is 99% good.

    So, that’s 0.01×0.01×0.01….x0.01 – or 0.01^100, right?

    I’m following your exact method. My calculator rounds that down to zero.

    That guy in the mirror, he needs to go turn in his degrees. Seriously, you’re making yourself look foolish.

    Can somebody get a maths teacher to explain to this guy why he’s so wrong?

  57. Matthew in Fairfax
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:46 am

    Daniel M.

    You get a different answer than Some Random Guy because you are solving a different problem.

    So, that’s 0.01×0.01×0.01….x0.01 – or 0.01^100, right?

    You just calculated the odds of getting pregnant 100 times in a row using a condom every time (assuming the condom is 99% effective).

  58. some random guy
    April 7th, 2009 @ 9:47 am

    Daniel,

    I’m a bit embarrassed for you. First, your tone is uncharitable and arrogant. Second, you’re still wrong.

    You write:

    “Ok, you know what, I’m going to add up using your method what the chance is of becoming pregnant using a condom which is 99% good.

    So, that’s 0.01×0.01×0.01….x0.01 – or 0.01^100, right?”

    No. That’s the method for finding the probability that a person will get pregnant 100 times in a row. I’ll wait for the apology.

  59. Oliver
    April 7th, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

    Daniel: “Can somebody get a maths teacher to explain to this guy why he’s so wrong?”

    I also teach math and you are wrong. Let me explain it in simpler terms.

    First of all, ask yourself, what happens when you raise ANY number between 0 and 1 to a positive power? Thats right, the number gets SMALLER.

    Example.

    (1/2)^2 = 1/4
    (1/2)^3 = 1/8
    (1/2)^4 = 1/16….etc

    So before I go on to explain the problem mathematically, lets just use a “common sense” check, assuming you have any.

    Your chance of becoming pregnant on one condom use under your method is 1/100. The chance of getting pregnant on TWO condom uses is 1/10000 according to your twisted math. Do you mean to suggest that by having sex twice you are actually DECREASING the risk of pregnancy? So would it be wise for someone to be on the safe side to repeatedly have sex instead of just one time?

    Hold that thought. Lets simply try the problem with a coin flip, using your math.

    Lets agree that a coin flip has an equal chance ending up as Heads or Tails. For the purposes of the question, lets assume that you DO NOT want Heads. (Heads is pregnancy essentially.) You know you have a 1/2 chance of NOT getting Heads correct? So now what is your chance of NOT getting Heads across 100 flips? Under your math, we would simply take 1/2 to the 100th power, which is a very VERY tiny number. Are you to suggest that it is a low possibility of earning even one Heads in 100 flips? If so you may have not understood some of the jokes in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

    Now, lets explain how to solve the problem properly. The issue you are having is in how you phrase the problem. What are we trying to find the probability of anyhow?

    Our goal is to find the probability of getting pregnant AT LEAST one time out of 100 tries. So how do we solve for something as obtuse as “at least once?” The trick is that you must solve for the EXACT opposite and then subtract from one, as the prob(x) + prob(not x) = 1

    So what IS the opposite of getting pregnant AT LEAST one time? Yes, getting pregnant 0 times. So lets set the problem up….

    1 2 3 4 5 ….. 100
    .99 .99 .99 .99 .99 .99

    Now we know the prob of not getting pregant on each attempt at sex is .99 when using a condom. All we have to do now is set it up so that each attempt has an equal chance of success at .99. Now all we do is ask ourselves, are these events dependent or independent events? They are obviously dependent, because we want to NEVER get pregnant, so we therefore multiply. The effect is (.99)^100.

    The number comes out to be .366 chance of NOT getting pregnant in 100 attempts. This is not the chance of becoming pregnant AT LEAST one time though, this is the chance of the opposite happening. We now need to subtract from 1 to get a .644 chance of becoming pregnant in 100 uses.

    Make sense? Additionally, the numbers do what our common sense woudl expect them to do…go down. It makes more sense that a repeated risk becomes exageratted, not diminished.

    Of course, all this relies on the basic premise that the 99% success rate is an accurate number and not truncated or rounded, and also upon the premise that the 99% success rate is refering to a single shot use with a condom and not to the yearly use. If the latter is false then the chance of becoming pregnant becomes 66% over 100 YEARS.

    Either way, the math is pretty simple to understand. In a nutshell, you need to apologize to “some random guy” for your baseless insults. You may also want to pick up a good little resource on elementary math called “Math Smart!” Ive used it with my students before who struggle with some of the simpler concepts of math. You may find it useful in the future.

  60. frustrated (mk)
    April 8th, 2009 @ 7:10 am

    Where has the Theist gone????

  61. Daniel M
    April 9th, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

    random guy and maths teacher are right. crow is very tasty. I’m not sure if it’s a valid question, but he got the maths right and I was wrong. If I had a hat, I’d be eating it. I’m very sorry.

    However I don’t agree with suggesting that STD transmission with unprotected sex is lower than pregnancy via protected sex though, that IS ludicrous (and it appears to be part of what he originally was saying)

    I stand behind the idea that condoms (and others) as well are better than abstinence only though because I find it unlikely (impossible) that people stay abstinent, so “typical use” of abstinence (the textbook definition being “method not always used correctly or consistently”) will be less than 100%, or do you deny that? It’s not been measured (you may ask yourselves why not), but we can take a guess.

    If you don’t stay abstinent, you’re having sex (and abstinence as a contraceptive has failed) and then if you’re having sex and NOT using any other form of contraception, you are much more likely to get pregnant than those who are.

    This is one for the maths teacher to check – if 60% of people who pledge to stay abstinent don’t, and then 85% of those get pregnant, what’s the typical use? 51%? We know that ~25% get pregnant for “periodic abstinence”.

    49% effective (typical use of abstinence) vs 87% (typical use of condoms) effective is a huge difference – even 75% vs 87% is a big difference.

    When talking about contraceptives, you DO indeed measure when the method doesn’t work. You should (and they do) measure when the pill isn’t taken, when the condom breaks or slips off or whatever. You also measure how well it works under ideal conditions. Comparing abstinence only under ideal conditions and everything else under typical use too isn’t apples to apples, and only teaching abstinence-only-as-a-contraceptive is a lie of omission. If typical use of abstinence were 100%, there’d be studies saying it is. There aren’t, we don’t know, but as sure as it being more likely you’ll get pregnant the more often you have sex, I think it the more likely you’re tempted, the more likely you are to have sex…

  62. frustrated (mk)
    April 10th, 2009 @ 12:01 am

    Daniel M,

    You’ll find this post interesting…

    http://www.2secondsfaster.com/archives/3970

    Read it ALL the way through. Condoms don’t work. Abstinence does. And it seems that a whole lot of Catholics ARE able to abstain. Consistently.

  63. some random guy
    April 10th, 2009 @ 10:57 am

    Against my better judgment to respond… (who am I kidding… because I’m arrogant and like to hear myself talk:)

    random guy and maths teacher are right. crow is very tasty. I’m not sure if it’s a valid question, but he got the maths right and I was wrong. If I had a hat, I’d be eating it. I’m very sorry.

    Apology accepted. Though I don’t know what you mean by “Valid question”, as you never provided a subject to which your “it” refers.

    However I don’t agree with suggesting that STD transmission with unprotected sex is lower than pregnancy via protected sex though, that IS ludicrous (and it appears to be part of what he originally was saying)

    Find where I said that. I dare you. What I mentioned (as an aside) was that the probability of preventing STD transmission after 100 contracepted sexual encounters was lower than the probability of pregnancy prevention under the same circumstances.

    I stand behind the idea that condoms (and others) as well are better than abstinence only though because I find it unlikely (impossible) that people stay abstinent,

    So all the celibate (read: abstinent) clergy in all the Catholic Churches in all the world are secretly having sex? If not, then it’s not impossible. Nor is it unlikely. Granted, you won’t even accept my personal testimony to the contrary either, so the prospect of you seeing the light on this issue is looking pretty grim…

    “typical use” of abstinence (the textbook definition being “method not always used correctly or consistently”) will be less than 100%, or do you deny that? It’s not been measured (you may ask yourselves why not), but we can take a guess.

    Engrish? In what textbook does the definition of abstinence read as follows: Abstinence (n): method not always used correctly or consistently ??? How does one use abstinence incorrectly? The mind reels…

    Who else can tell us why they’ve never measured the number of pregnancies amongst abstinent couples? Anyone? Anyone? Golly gee why on earth would there be no statistics on it… It must be a plot! They don’t want us to know about all the people getting pregnant from not having sex. For that matter, why haven’t they every measured the number of people who died by drinking too much water or drowning in the Sahara Desert? Conspiracy! Why are statisticians so silent about the people who eat their way into death by starvation? It can only mean that eating isn’t an effective way of preventing starvation…

    If you don’t stay abstinent, you’re having sex

    Yay! It seems too good to be true, you made a correct distinction… but wait:

    (and abstinence as a contraceptive has failed)

    So close… So if I decide to have sex, and I take a condom out of a box and put it on the nightstand next to the bed… never using it… proceed through having sex… my girlfriend gets pregnant… just making sure I’ve got this strait… the pregnancy was due to the failure of the condom as a contraceptive??? (Bad condom… how dare you not leap into… well… the fray…)

    This is one for the maths teacher to check – if 60% of people who pledge to stay abstinent don’t, and then 85% of those get pregnant, what’s the typical use? 51%? We know that ~25% get pregnant for “periodic abstinence”.

    49% effective (typical use of abstinence) vs 87% (typical use of condoms) effective is a huge difference – even 75% vs 87% is a big difference.

    I don’t know where you’re getting your statistics from… I picked 99% because everyone and their brother above was saying that contraception was > 99% effective. So I ran with the number. Mind telling us where you’re getting yours? Then there’s the whole distinction issue again…

    When talking about contraceptives, you DO indeed measure when the method doesn’t work. You should (and they do) measure when the pill isn’t taken, when the condom breaks or slips off or whatever.

    Ok, we’ll try this one last time: A condom breaking is a defect in a condom. A condom not used is not a defective condom. Show me these studies you keep talking about.
    So let’s review: If you’re abstinent, you’re not having sex. Check. We’ve got this far. If you’re having sex, you’re not practicing abstinence. Still with me? Here’s where it gets tricky: If you’re having sex, you’re not “using abstinence” as a “method of contraception”. Just like if you’re having sex without a condom on, you’re not using a condom as a method of contraception. There are no ideal or imperfect conditions, because there’s no scenario.

    One final illustration, and then if we don’t seem to make any progress, I’m done:

    Say you’re a scientist from the country of Kerplacystan, and you want to develop your space program to launch a space shuttle into orbit. You pitch the idea to the Supreme Presidente of your country, and he asks how likely it is for such missions to succeed. So, you look to NASA to find out how many rocket launches were successfully executed in the past year. You call them up, and they say “We launched 100 rockets last year, we can only launch one per day maximum and 99 missions were successful.” Now, the logical person would look at such a situation and say “Ok, 100 rockets were launched, and 99 of them worked. That’s a 99% rate of success.” But then you come flailing in with your statistical wisdom. “WAIT!” you bellow at your fellow scientists, “We also have to measure when they didn’t launch any rockets and see how many of those made it into space! If they didn’t launch a rocket and that not-rocket didn’t make it into space, then it counts as a failure!!!” So you calculate up some statistics: 365 days a year means 365 potential rockets! But only 99 made it into space… so 99/365… that’s a 27% rate of success. Blast, now the Presidente will never let us proceed…

    Can you see the problem with the 27% analysis? If not, then I think this is my stop… I wish you no ill will, Godspeed, and I sincerely hope you stay FAR FAR away from any critical pieces of technology.

    If typical use of abstinence were 100%, there’d be studies saying it is. There aren’t, we don’t know, but as sure as it being more likely you’ll get pregnant the more often you have sex, I think it the more likely you’re tempted, the more likely you are to have sex…

    1 + 1 must equal 5 today…

  64. Lily
    April 10th, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    Don’t be too hard on Daniel, random guy. I don’t think he is fighting you, math, or statistics, really. I think he is trying to make sense of it and make it all square up with the Received Wisdom(tm) of a promiscuous age. It is very hard to give up what you have been taught (Nobody can be abstinent! Nobody!) and hold to be true.

    I hope both of you stick around.

  65. frustrated (mk)
    April 10th, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

    RT,

    Good Luck tomorrow. I’ve been praying for you. Wish I could be there. But you won’t be alone. The entire communion of saints will be there. And all of heaven will be rejoicing…now there’s a party I’d like to go to!

  66. Oliver
    April 11th, 2009 @ 10:52 pm

    He may not be fighting math or statistics, but he has certainly jabbed them both in the face with a sharp edge a few times.

  67. frustrated (mk)
    April 12th, 2009 @ 5:40 am

    Hey Oliver,

    How are you? How’s your better half?

  68. Angela Quattrano
    April 12th, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    I have to agree with Daniel. But this is not a forum about reality or real world consequences of real choices. It is a magical place where make-believe and wishful thinking trumps reality every time.

    In the make-believe world, people (read: poor women) should be given every opportunity to fail (read: ever have sex even once in their lives) so that God’s punishment (read: pregnancy) can be visited on them and curse them with poverty and misery for the rest of their lives.

  69. nephilim
    April 12th, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    Everything is magic when it comes to Christianity. The idea that God came to Earth in the person of Jesus in order to die for our sins is laughable. So God was crucified, knowing full well what awaited him after death when so many other souls have had to face death with doubt, and got to spend two nights and a day in paradise with the other part of his split personality, as if spending less than three days dead was some sort of quantifyable sacrifice that could make up for all of our suffering here down below. Total crap.

  70. Lauren
    April 12th, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

    Nephilim, you don’t have a very good understanding of the nature of God, Calvary, or Christianity as a whole. I suggest you investigate Christian doctrine before coming here again.

    Unless, of course, you enjoy pushing over your own strawmen.

  71. Lauren
    April 12th, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

    Angela, you’re so far out in left field with that one I hardly know where to start. Are you a leftist propaganda spambot?

    Nothing you said has any validity. Punishing poor women with a baby? Seriously? I thought we had gotten past that nonsense.

  72. Margaret Catherine
    April 12th, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    Nephilim –

    ***”So God was crucified, knowing full well what awaited him after death when so many other souls have had to face death with doubt,”***

    Yes, He was, and He did indeed know. And by reason of that sacrifice and those three days, any real doubt is taken away. We know what awaits us: either of two possible outcomes, and the choice of which is really up to us. That’s our faith. That’s the certainty His sacrifice gave (along with much else).

    ***”and got to spend two nights and a day in paradise with the other part of his split personality,”***

    He was never a split personality – two *natures*, yes, one *person*. For an incredibly bad analogy, think of chocolate milk…it’s no longer one or the other, but both together. And the two nights/one day were in paradise’s “waiting room”, Christian doctrine has Him rather permanently established in heaven these days.

    ***”as if spending less than three days dead was some sort of quantifyable sacrifice that could make up for all of our suffering here down below.”

    It wasn’t the time spent dead: it was the fact of dying. It wasn’t to ‘make up’ for our suffering: it was to make up for our sins, and to give even our sufferings a purpose.. It’s not quantifiable: it’s infinite. There’s not going to be a point, for humanity in general or for us individually, after which God decides that’s enough, He’s filled His salvation quota.

  73. Margaret Catherine
    April 12th, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

    To RT, and everyone here – Have a Blessed Easter/Pascha! Christ is Risen!

  74. some random guy
    April 13th, 2009 @ 10:03 am

    Angela,

    “But this is not a forum about reality or real world consequences of real choices.”

    So Pregnancy isn’t a real world consequence of sex?

    “It is a magical place where make-believe and wishful thinking trumps reality every time.”

    You mean like the wishful thinking that blatantly ignores the fact that A) contraception is not 100% effective and B) the probability of multiple successful outcomes from any scenario with less than 100% return rate degrades with each new attempt? Or the wishful thinking that subverting a biological function of the human body and eliminating it’s functional purpose will somehow not screw with people psychologically and physically? Yeah, we’re the wishful thinkers here.

    But let’s read your next part, substituting those “read” passages for the actual text:

    “Poor women should be given every opportunity to ever have sex even once in their lives so that pregnancy can be visited on them and curse them with poverty and misery for the rest of their lives.”

    Temporarily putting aside the issue of whether anyone here that believes in God would call pregnancy “God’s punishment”… Do you realize that the above is senseless gibberish? If that’s the land of make believe, then what should the real world look like? This:

    “Poor women shouldn’t be given every opportunity to have sex even once in their lives so that pregnancy can be visited upon them… etc. etc…” ?

    Are you or are you not advocating abstinence in the real world? Cause in the horrible make-believe world you mention, it seems to look like people are incorrectly being given the ability to have sex…

  75. some random guy
    April 13th, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    And then there’s Nephilim…

    Ok… so one of my big pet peeves about the atheist community is that they resort (as demonstrated many times above) to the straw-man logical fallacy when addressing Christianity in a bizarre attempt at reductio ad absurdum.

    Case in point:

    “Everything is magic when it comes to Christianity.”

    FAIL. Magic is different from faith on a fundamental level. Magic deals with an arbitrary and impersonal force that can be harnessed as a means to an end by some form of causal principle (incantation). It’s mechanical, you say the words and the magic does the rest automatically. The faith posited by Judeo-Christianity deals with an extremely personal God. You can pray all you want in Christianity, but there’s no prayer that “makes” the Christian God do anything. There are no Christian spells, and no mechanizations to the relationship they posit.

    So call Christianity false if you like, but calling it magic is just intellectually dishonest. Plus, even if you successfully debunk “magic”, then you haven’t achieved your goal of disproving the Christian God. Zum beispiel: If I say that I believe in Zeus, you can’t prove me wrong by setting up a huge case to disprove Vishnu, ‘cause they aren’t the same thing. No straw-men allowed. So… I guess in summary, ditch the crappy reasoning and rhetoric.

    And while I’m on my soapbox about logic and category errors: Some genius on another post thought it was cute to call Jesus a zombie. ‘Kay. Apparently you haven’t seen many Zombie movies or read the Bible. Even if you think Christianity is a myth, Jesus just can’t be said to be a Zombie. Zombies don’t speak, they eat brains, they stumble forward and they elicit fear. Resurrected Jesus speaks words of comfort, eats fish and bread, appears through solid walls miraculously, moves normally and doesn’t freak people out (other than the initial shock of his appearance). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there’s a difference.

    Sheesh. It’s like having the lame parents who can’t see the difference between Superman and the X-men… “Well I don’t get it, they both have powers so Superman must be a mutant, right?” No, Superman’s from Krypton, they’re not the same and Jesus is not and never will be a Zombie. It’s sad that we can’t even get to the issue of whether these people exist or not, because we can’t even get the facts straight about them to begin with.

  76. JoAnna
    April 13th, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

    Angela,

    It seems to me that what you’re saying is in the “real world,” actions don’t have consequences. That seems to defy some pretty basic logic. Who’s in the land of make-believe, again?

    Also, your comments indicate that you are pretty ignorant of the pro-life movement in general. I suggest volunteering at a pro-life CPC so you can get some of your misconceptions cleared up.

  77. nephilim
    April 13th, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

    Hey,
    When something happens in the world that breaks all of the natural laws of physics, it’s magic, no matter how many hairs you split.

  78. nephilim
    April 13th, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

    And since magic doesn’t exist…

  79. some random guy
    April 13th, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

    Ok, so basically your response is:

    “I don’t care what the definitions are, and basic philosophical distinctions are hard for me. Therefore I’ll make up my own definitions and call everyone else illogical for not using them.”

    That’s fine, really. At least now we all know not to take you seriously or expect you to make sense. I wish you a blissful ignorance!

  80. nephilim
    April 13th, 2009 @ 9:03 pm

    Random Guy,
    There are faith traditions that use magic that ask their gods to help with the magical working they are undertaking, in essence using the ritual as a psychological reinforcement to empower their main request. It’s not like pushing a button but rather asking for a supernatural effect in a polite and stately manner from their deity. This occurs in demonolatry, Wicca, and other esoteric traditions. It’s no different from the nonsense of Mass where the priest changes that little cracker into… a little cracker. Transubstantiation is pure magic, and pure hokum. Just like any other “working”. Add to that the fact that these faiths require you to have faith in your working, that it will indeed affect the world or your life in the manner you want, and the difference between faith and magic becomes non-existent. All of these faiths try to impart the lesson that we are all divine, or our own gods in some manner, and so your claims become even easier to debunk due to the fact that these people are being asked to have faith in their own divinity. It’s their apprehension of that “fact” that is supposed to empower their spells, prayers, and rituals along with the help of their external gods. So what were you saying again, Some Random Guy? You were mumbling some silly text book definition of magic without understanding the way its actually pursued and “understood” in the real world, right? Putz.

  81. some random guy
    April 13th, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

    “You were mumbling some silly text book definition of magic without understanding the way its actually pursued and “understood” in the real world, right?”

    Ah yes, the “real world” understanding is always the right one, isn’t it? Heaven forbid one should seek recourse to a dictionary, right? Because even amongst Catholic Christians, everyone understands terminology and takes the time to make sure what they “know is true” stacks up to the true definitions of the terms they’re using, right?

    Sorry, but Webster’s dictionary beats an incense-happy “witch” anyday.

    Here’s the deal. You can talk all you want about Wicca and “demonolatry”, but the fact of the matter is, you’re not using terms correctly. But, let’s have this here putz take a look at what you said…

    “There are faith traditions that use magic that ask their gods to help with the magical working they are undertaking, in essence using the ritual as a psychological reinforcement to empower their main request.

    So they ask gods to help with something called Magic. What is that magic? Is it not understood by the Wiccan or whatever as a force to be harnessed and used by some means of spell or incantation? Is that “god” not viewed as nothing but an ultimate master of that force? Seems like it to me. So Magic is still as both I and Mr. Webster define it. Which is to say, it’s not “Faith” as defined by Christianity. Just sayin’. When Christians pray, they don’t ask God for help to harness an impersonal supernatural force to do their bidding. It’s just not true.

    As for the second part of your statement, I have a hunch you’re not using terms correctly again. The psychological reinforcement part doesn’t gel with the first half, as they seem to be asking for something more than just a little encouragement.

    ” It’s not like pushing a button but rather asking for a supernatural effect in a polite and stately manner from their deity.”

    No, as you stated above, it’s asking the “deity” to help them push a button. Otherwise they’d just cut the magic part out and ask the deity to solve the problem for them. Either they believe in magic as an external force and ask the deity to help them wield it, in which case I’m right, or they don’t believe in an external impersonal force, in which case it ain’t magic and I’m still right.

    ” It’s no different from the nonsense of Mass where the priest changes that little cracker into… a little cracker.”

    And if you look closely here, you’ll see another instance where you seem to have trouble with the facts and making simple philosophical distinctions. For instance, it’s not the Priest who asks God to change the “little cracker” (wow, never heard that one before) into God’s body, it’s God who asks the Priest to change it. Even if you take Catholicism for a myth, you have to admit that the God they believe in asked them to do it. He said do this in memory of me, and the Church believes that a personal God acts in a personal way through a personal priest to bring about said miracle. No impersonal force, and no magic. They’re different.

    And then… you sort of careen off of a cliff and it gets much harder to understand you. If you’d like to clarify this next bit, I’d be much obliged, but here’s what I got so far:

    “Add to that the fact that these faiths require you to have faith in your working, that it will indeed affect the world or your life in the manner you want, and the difference between faith and magic becomes non-existent.”

    Um… how does that difference become non-existent again? By faith here, I assume you mean “belief” or “confidence”, which first of all isn’t the totality of what Christians mean by faith. Plus, it’s clear from this little blurb that even the objects to which said “faith” is directed are different. The wiccan, you claim, has faith in his or her “working”. Not in the deity’s working alone, but in her ability to harness that impersonal force (albeit with the help of the deity). Christian faith isn’t at all directed at the Christian’s ability to “work a magic” or “do stuff”.

    Ask any Priest worth his salt if he has faith in HIS OWN ability to transubstantiate or wield that skill, he’ll tell you no, that in Catholic theology God does the transubstantiating as a personal act. He just does it incarnationally through the priest.

    “All of these faiths try to impart the lesson that we are all divine, or our own gods in some manner, and so your claims become even easier to debunk due to the fact that these people are being asked to have faith in their own divinity.”

    ‘Kay. You do know that Christian faith doesn’t ask us to have faith in our own divinity, right??? I’m starting to get the sense that you really don’t know a whole lot about Christianity… Anyone else getting that?

    “It’s their apprehension of that “fact” that is supposed to empower their spells, prayers, and rituals along with the help of their external gods”

    So lemme get this straight… You think that Christians feel “empowered” to change things by their prayer because they’re conscious of their own divinity? Or that an external God is just a helper and not the sole source of supernatural action? Good sir, you might know more about Wicca than I do, and I’ll admit that, but if you believe what I just wrote, you’ve demonstrated you know next to nothing about what Christians really believe.

    So what was I saying again in my putz-ish way? I was mumbling something if I recall… I think it was:

    FAIL.

    Get thee to a dictionary.

  82. frustrated (mk)
    April 14th, 2009 @ 6:38 am

    Nephilim,

    I know a bit about wicca AND Catholicism. And for the win? Random guy shoots and scores.

    Think of parenting. Wiccans/Satanists want to BE the parents. Christian recognized that they are the children, and God is the parent. We don’t try to take matters into our own hands. Pagans do.

    And the irony is that the more you try to harness nature, to control her, the more she will end up controlling you.

    We are all subject to Natural Law. Christians go to the Author of that law when they want something. Pagans try to change the law.

    But the more you try to change the law, the more you become subject to the law. Take birth control. Our attempt to control the cycle of life, has turned us into mere beasts. Instead of controlling our sexual urges, we try to control the sexual act itself. This means we (believe) we are free to indulge in any sexual activity we want. We fool ourselves into believing we have harnessed nature, when really nature has harnessed us. Instead of elevating the act of sex to it’s highest form, we have denigrated it to a mere animal act. We think we are in control, but we are controlled. Now we rut like animals. And nature is in charge. We are no longer able to control our “urges”. Our urges control us.

    Who was it that said “no one can remain abstinent?”

    Trying to control nature and calling it “magic” is an illusion. And that is all that magic is. Illusion. Misdirection. The false notion that “something” has taken place, when really the only thing that has taken place is that you have been duped.

    God is not illusion. He is reality. No hocus pocus involved. He doesn’t pretend to control nature. He really does control it.

    So the next time you tell yourself that you have things under control, remember David Copperfield, and ask yourself, do I really have things under control? Or am I the victim of a really good illusion.

    BTW, your name says it all. You have chosen as your moniker, the very princes of illusion. The whole idea that you can control nature was what drove the fallen angels out of heaven. In turn, they attempted to sell their snake oil to humanity. Some poor saps fell for it. Those same poor saps call US fools.

  83. Marcela
    April 14th, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

    I’m sorry to interrupt the debate, but where has the theist gone?

  84. frustrated(mk)
    April 14th, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

    Nobody knows. My theory is that he went through RCIA and was pretty busy this last couple of weeks, but I thought we’d hear SOMETHING by now. It’s been over 10 days. His last post was April 2nd.

    RT…just let us know that you’re okay!

  85. Daniel M
    April 16th, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

    @62:

    http://www.avert.org/aidsuganda.htm
    he was wrong on uganda – the drop in numbers with aids was due to death, the prevention started in ’86 after the war as “ABC” (Abstinence, Be faithful, use a Condom). It has nothing to do with abstinence alone, or why was there a surge to some 27% before the prevention effort started, if abstinence was so well taught (or was everyone an atheist before then?).

    There’s an upswing now possibly due to free drugs making some think aids isn’t such an issue, as well as a move AWAY from condoms to pushing abstinence only.

    http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2002/february/burundi.htm
    He’s wrong in Burundi. With an 18% infection rate (in non-urban areas), not 2% (in the whole country?), and:

    “the Burundi minister for HIV/AIDS issues…attributed the stabilisation in urban areas to a higher literacy rate, better means of communication, and increased acceptance and availability of condoms.”

    …in any event, the low infection rate is also due to condoms.

    http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/Countries/africa/angola.html
    He’s wrong in Angola – sheltered by war (ironic) it has been kept low, but also:

    “In Angola, USAID conducts focused HIV/AIDS prevention and condom distribution activities among groups at risk of transmitting or contracting the disease; supports voluntary counseling and testing in four health facilities; and promotes abstinence and delaying sexual debut among youth.”

    I say he’s wrong about Botswana, which seems to have been lax in starting prevention programs, is now doing things right, but it’s an uphill struggle.

    I can’t see that a possible correlation is a cause (and I can’t see a believable correlation so far) especially not gathering the reverse is not true. If abstinence and catholicism were the only thing that mattered, we’d see similar rates of infections globally where catholicism is taught.

    Britain – similarly non-catholic, highly immorally pro-sexual-freedom as it is, has about 8% of it’s population being catholic, and a whopping 0.2% of it’s population having aids, and most of that is due to African immigrants.

    of carriers, only 42% are men who have sex with men, so it’s not the naughty bumsex brigade getting it the most…

    (South Africa is a hotbed of Aids for a number of reasons, go to http://www.badscience.net/2009/04/matthias-rath-steal-this-chapter/ to find out why not having condoms and ARV’s boosts infection and transmission rates)

    And the Phillipines…well, it’s similarly a whole other world from Africa, so it’s apples to oranges in any case, and again cause and correlation are two different things – but one thing to note is that it is held to be at risk of an explosion due directly to the religious conservatism.

    So, I read the whole thing and I’m not impressed and not swayed – and my reasons are listed here.

  86. Daniel M
    April 16th, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    Magic:

    1 a: the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b: magic rites or incantations
    2 a: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source b: something that seems to cast a spell : enchantment

    Prayer:

    1 a
    (1): an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought
    (2): a set order of words used in praying b: an earnest request or wish

    If an address or a petition to god is a “use of means”, in a set order of words (it has a specific structure) then a prayer is functionally identical to a magical rite.

    If the power of god is an extraordinary (supernatural) power and it answers prayers, then it is functionally equivalent to magic.

    therefore performing prayers and having god answer them is functionally equivalent to magic, and fits the definition to boot.

  87. Lily
    April 16th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    I am afraid that you are not even close, Daniel. Prayer and magic have absolutely nothing in common, unless you want to hold that because both use language they are the same thing. But by that definition so is opera magic, so is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, so is the oath Obamessiah took, so is a poem recited for proud parents at a school function, etc. That isn’t a very useful definition.

    Magic is an attempt by humans to control nature. Supposedly, if you have the right words, you can force nature to bend to your will.

    Christians were taught by Christ to ask God for what they *need*. At the same time we understand that the answer can be no. There is simply no guarantee that God will do what we want him to do– only that he will do what is best for us. Asking him for what we need reminds us that we depend on his loving kindness and that he is always in control.

    On another level, prayer is a sort of conversation with God. But I think we might want to leave the deeper meanings to another discussion. Let’s tackle the easier to understand stuff first.

  88. some random guy
    April 16th, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

    And we’ve now heard from our resident Rhodes Scholar again…

    Dearest Daniel,

    When you were looking up the definitions in the dictionary, did you happen to notice the subtle difference that prayer is an address or petition? Did you notice that the address or petition is directed at a person, real or imagined?

    Did you, in your brilliance, notice that the “use of means” casts magic spells in the role of a wrench or hammer, a tool if you will? Did you pick up on the fact that there’s no “other person” necessarily involved in magic?

    I mention all this because I’ve said it quite clearly before in my response to Nephilim. But… you seem to miss the point, which Lily so wonderfully illustrated.

    I’ll make it quite clear: No one forces the God of Christianity to do anything.

    Got it? Good.

    As for your contraception post, well you’re still off in left field. No one ever said contraception wouldn’t slow the spread of HIV, we just said that abstinence works better when practiced. Again, it’s the same old lack of reading comprehension… So let’s try again:

    If no-one in Angola is having sex outside of marriage, how many of those non-married couples would you say are at risk from AIDS as an STD?

    Now… here’s the 24 Million Dollar question… If one member of a couple has AIDS, and the other doesn’t… and then all of a sudden they both have AIDS… were they practicing abstinence?

    What’s more, if a man has AIDS and uses condoms, as we discussed in our probability ventures above, he WILL eventually pass it on. Contraception only SLOWS the spread.

  89. Lily
    April 16th, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

    SRG– Thanks for making a really important point that I was berating myself for not having made clearly. You said:

    Did you notice that the address or petition is directed at a person, real or imagined?

    Did you pick up on the fact that there’s no “other person” necessarily involved in magic?

    Daniel, it is hard to overstate how important this distinction is, although atheists naturally find it difficult, since they are virtually unable to differentiate among supernatural claims, phenomena, etc. Thus they assume that magic, prayer, miracles, etc. are the same thing, when in fact they represent very different worldviews. One of my favorite bloggers wrote the following on this very subject. Since I cannot say it better than he, I will quote him:

    Belief in magic has to do with controlling supernatural forces (which may or may not be personal) to achieve some desired goal or end. But the worldview of magic is essentially impersonal. Certain ends follow necessarily from certain actions (the right magic words, the right spell or incantation, etc.).

    Belief in supernatural agency, on the other hand (essentially the worldview of monotheistic religions), says that the universe is fundamentally personal. There are no impersonal supernatural forces at work in the world, but there are supernatural beings with will and power to affect the physical world. This distinction is crucial, but difficult if not impossible for a naturalist (his preferred term for atheist) to understand or appreciate. …

  90. frustrated(mk)
    April 17th, 2009 @ 6:56 am

    If an address or a petition to god is a “use of means”, in a set order of words (it has a specific structure) then a prayer is functionally identical to a magical rite.

    Daniel,

    The reason dictionaries use numbers in their definitions is to show that there can be more than one meaning.

    You’ll note that the “specific structure” definition was given a number 2. This is because definition number one is talking about what prayer in general is, and def number 2 is talking about specific prayers.

    As in “What is dinner”? and “What are we having FOR dinner?”

    Dinner is a meal. A specific dinner might consist of specific foods. But that doesn’t mean that ALL dinners contain those and only those foods.

    All prayer is a petition. “A” prayer might be the Our Father, the Hail Mary, The Memorare…

    When doing magic, you don’t say “A” magic. You say a magic “spell/incantation”.

    When praying you might say “A” prayer…

    Def #1: prayer/magic
    Def #2: A specific prayer/A specific incantation.

    Abra Cadabra is a SPECIFIC incantation, but not required of all magical rituals.

    The Our Father is a SPECIFIC prayer, but not required each and every time you pray…

  91. Katie
    April 25th, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

    Hope all is well, RT.

  92. Daniel M
    April 27th, 2009 @ 11:30 am

    If only I *were* a Rhodes Scholar! As it is, I am someone with a real job and a life, lacking the time to counter every single argument, facetious or not, through proper research into areas of history, geography, physics, maths and chemistry which do not come into my daily life.

    However, I can say this regarding magic vs prayer – theists have already drawn a line in the sand that says “this is magic” and “this is prayer”, even though the line is often blurred.

    I can see the distinction you make – magic is coercion of some sort (and therefore impious and wrong – the Greeks thought the same way, it’s probably from them) whilst a prayer is a request. Don’t think I don’t understand your viewpoint, I do.

    However, to people standing on the other side of yet another line, one that says “supernatural” and “magic” are identical, they cannot see a meaningful difference (and one could argue the dictionary supports this definition) between a successful prayer and a successful spell, or indeed a failed prayer and a failed spell – they both result in a supernatural effect on the natural order of the world (or the absense of one).

    I’m not quite sure what frustrated in #90 is getting at, because s/he seems to be agreeing with me…

    As it is, I find it rather silly – if a god can be forced by a mere human to do their bidding, what sort of god is it?

    Of course, if you argue that magic power always comes from some devil or demon, it’s obvious why it should be wrong (but then, every advancement made by man has been called “demonic”, from printed books, to television, to rock and roll music, and frankly I’m getting rather tired of it).

  93. Lily
    April 27th, 2009 @ 11:50 am

    Daniel, it is hard for me to see how we can state more clearly than we have what the difference between magic and prayer is. Really, if secular anthropologists get it, and they do; the distinction is important in their work, it must be pretty straightforward. Let me lay it out as clearly and simply as I can:

    1. Magic: Command. Get the words right, nature must obey.

    2. Prayer: Request. God may say no. He may do something else. The person who prays has no control over the outcome; only confidence that God will always do what is right and just.

    Do you see the difference?

  94. frustrated(mk)
    April 27th, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

    The difference between prayer and magic?

    Humility and Pride.

    As for demons being responsible for magic. Television might be demonic, but it isn’t a demon. Pornography might be demonic, but it isn’t a demon.

    Every advancement can indeed be demonic. It can also be good. And it can be demonic and good at the same time.

    Demons are persons. God is a person. Persons influence. Demons influence for evil, God influences for good.

    If demons are behind magic, then it is evil.

    In truth, demons can be behind prayers. You can pray to a demon. All prayer is not good. Only the “beings” being prayed TO can be good or evil. If you are manipulating nature to do your bidding, you are doing God’s job. This is an evil. If you are imploring demons to manipulate nature, you are asking an evil entity to do your bidding.

    If you implore God to grant you a favor, you are trusting in His judgment as to whether what you are asking is good or evil.

    If demons do you bidding, you are simply being duped into believing that you are the cause. It’s an illusion. Which is what I said to begin with.

    Magic is illusion.
    God is the real thing.

    In the end, there is actually very, very little that we have any control over at all…except for our own wills.

  95. BlackMadonna
    April 27th, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

    Daniel,
    This isn’t really a site where you can convince people that the supernatural doesn’t exist. No one here understands that there is no such thing as the supernatural, and you will only get frustrated (pun intended) by trying to get them to see it. This isn’t really a site for us, but an amen chorus for the believers. It provides its own reinforcement.

  96. some random guy
    April 27th, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    “I am someone with a real job and a life, lacking the time to counter every single argument, facetious or not, through proper research into areas of history, geography, physics, maths and chemistry which do not come into my daily life.”

    And yet, that didn’t stop you from telling us we’re wrong. Now I admit I’m snarky and arrogant, but usually I try to avoid speaking authoritatively on subjects which I haven’t really thought about. Just sayin’.

    “theists have already drawn a line in the sand that says “this is magic” and “this is prayer”, even though the line is often blurred.”

    It’s only blurry for people with sand in their eyes. Especially if they refuse to wash it out properly with logic.

    “I can see the distinction you make – magic is coercion of some sort (and therefore impious and wrong – the Greeks thought the same way, it’s probably from them) whilst a prayer is a request. Don’t think I don’t understand your viewpoint, I do.

    Actually, that’s not our point at all, but as others have covered it, I’ll say no more.

    “They cannot see a meaningful difference (and one could argue the dictionary supports this definition) between a successful prayer and a successful spell, or indeed a failed prayer and a failed spell – they both result in a supernatural effect on the natural order of the world (or the absense of one).”

    That’s like someone saying they can’t see the difference between an employee and a slave. Both do work! A good slave and a good employee both work well! A bad slave and a bad employee both work poorly.

    The difference, in both cases (prayer/magic and employee/slave) is freedom. I’d say that would be a pretty important, non-philosophical point.

  97. Lily
    April 27th, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

    I so love commenters like “BlackMadonna” who honestly thinks she has said something meaningful. Yet, if we were to point out that Pharyngula, Atheist Forums, Raving Atheists, et al. are amen choruses for atheists whose belief in their sadly limited world view is pathetic to behold, I suppose BM would have a hissy fit. I suspect we would learn that clear thinking, sound logic and truth reign there and there alone.

    It is a wonder any of us can hold our heads up for shame!

  98. Tor Hershman
    April 28th, 2009 @ 9:51 am

    My video about God and Satan and more

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m6qC6FCiY0

    .

  99. Swk6
    April 28th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    Oh Lily….eat shit you old pathetic bag.

  100. BlackMadonna
    April 28th, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

    Swk6,
    I hate these people very much, but there is no need to be demeaning to them. As time goes on, we see more and more of the Catholic Church and mainline denominations disintegrating and falling apart due to people waking up from superstition and tiring of constantly being the children of some Deity or other. They are growing up and taking on the responsiblilty of their own lives rather than putting those lives into the hand of blind faith.
    I can even see in some of the posts on here that these believers have children who refuse to be ruled by dogma despite the hold it has over their more credulous parents. This is good news for atheists like ourselves, because as time goes on their sort of belief will have less and less of an effect on politics and by extension, our lives. I myslef have done everything in my power to convince those believers around me that the Bible and the faith it inspires is a huge con, and alomst every time their eyes open up and they move on with their lives.
    They don’t have to worry about Hell, they don’t have to waste their time praying, subjecting themselves to confession, “cannibalizing” a Deity, or being told what to do in bed.
    So please Swk6 and Daniel, go out there and open some eyes instead of coming here to hit a brick wall.

  101. Lily
    April 28th, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

    You are joking, aren’t you, BM? You really believe that an institution that has been around for 2000 years and looks good for another 2000 is simply going to disintegrate and go away? Riiggghhht.

    You have no power, by the way, to persuade anyone who actually knows something about his/or her faith that it is a “waste of time”. Your ignorance shows with every word you write. “Subject themselves to confession”? Are you kidding? It is required once a year and it is pathetic that that reminder needs to exist. Confession is the most liberating act possible and only the half-hearted who don’t want to change their ways fear it.

    “Cannibalizing Deity?” That is a 9th grader’s take on the Eucharist. “Being told what to do in bed?” Like what? I have never been given any such instructions. What am I missing? MK, fill me in!

    So please, BM, go out there and open your eyes to reality then come here and tell us how wrong we are. It makes no sense to come here to be laughed at. We appreciate your attempt to amuse us but it isn’t necessary. Ignorant, arrogant atheists are a dime a dozen. Strive for originality!

  102. Beelzebub
    April 29th, 2009 @ 1:54 am

    I see the atheist/theist slapfest is still in fine form, but what of the RT? Looks like he’s down for the count. I just re-watched “The God Who Wasn’t There” and listened to the commentary with tRT. Hard to believe that what he said there can be made to jibe with his conversion, althought there was one harbinger, something about “infants, the most innocent of people” — but I think that was in reference to religious indoctrination of the young.

  103. Matthew in Fairfax
    April 29th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

    BM, good luck forming a new society with the aid of a misogynist who refuses to believe that a baby in the womb is an actual human being. A life without God will get you nowhere, leave you empty, and allow hate to consume you, and Swk6 is Exhibit A for someone doing just that.

  104. frustrated(mk)
    April 29th, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    Lily,

    How about there were 6 million new converts this year to Catholicism?

  105. Lily
    April 29th, 2009 @ 8:01 am

    Fine. Be like that. Don’t tell me what we are supposed to do in bed, MK! See if I come to you for any further instruction :(

    And what about those six million converts, eh? Who is going to tell them what to do in bed?

    Oh Black Madonnnnnaaaa! Come back here and fill us in.

  106. Dean
    April 29th, 2009 @ 9:00 am

    Didn’t think I’d agree w/ Beelzebub, but hopefully RT is doing well.

  107. Swk6
    April 29th, 2009 @ 9:19 am

    Yes Matthew I am exhibit A. I have read Lily’s drivel for a few years now. It’s the same OLD record player. Most who have read Lily over time end up calling her names as well. But really, what would you know….you’re a douche.

  108. JoAnna
    April 29th, 2009 @ 11:02 am

    I sent an e-mail to RT expressing concern and he responded that be’s fine, but swamped with some higher-priority projects right now.

    Swk6 – how did your comment contribute to the conversation at hand? At least BM, Bbub and Daniel have more substantative comments to share. Is it a reflection of the gaping void in your own life that you can only offer pathetic insults?

    BM, if you ever care to learn what Catholicism really teaches, we are here. :)

  109. Daniel M
    April 29th, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

    I don’t presume to speak with any authority save my own, sometimes I’m wrong. Unlike some, I am not sure of my place in the world. I of course like to think it’s because I’m trying to think my way logically through it, rather than go on blind faith.

    I had a somewhat religious upbringing, went to Sunday School and frankly grew rather tired of it. My parents saw fit to allow me to cease going. I’d never met the idea that people could just toss out the laws of physics and declare that god could actually, really make the world in 7 days and thought some on it…and came to the conclusion that god probably didn’t make it in 7 days, since there seems to be far too much history for it to be so. I’m not so willing to stick my fingers in my ears when it comes to carbon dating and geology.

    On the other hand, the fact that we’re here is amazing, and I’ve not come to a firm conclusion of why.

    The problem of other faiths became obvious to me, so either they are equally right, or equally wrong was my conclusion.

    So, I’ll colour myself agnostic because that lets me swear “god dammit!” when I’m angry and not ignore the amazing work which started way back when, culminating in the renaissance, Gallileo, Darwin, Einstein and the wonderful improvements in life which have come with the scientific method.

    What that means for morality is perplexing – I’ve not studied morality and ethics, we had the far less useful religious studies in our school, which basically stood for “light hearted indoctrination”. so I’m feeling my way through things myself. I’ve come to the conclusion that morals are the products of humans, leaving the idea of good and evil to be solely ours, and the responsibility for it too.

    I find it therefore wrong to presume to tell a person what is right for them, when their situation is theirs alone. Not only does the decision lie with them, but the responsibility. The responsibility of the state, and therefore of the law, is to facilitate the choice, not demand it.

    I am sure in my decisions, when I make them, and if the creator of everything *should* appear on my doorstop and tell me “how dare you?” I would point to the fact that I was given the choice, presumably, by it, and as a free man, any burden or yoke placed on people long dead and presumed to be my ancestor was a contract which has no bearing on my person, and I reject the source as well as the outcome.

    I’m sure some of you will be aghast, but no – I think I have a better moral platform than many who profess to be religious, since my morals come from within, and voices in my head cannot tell me to do wrong.

    You will note that rarely do I say what *I* would do.

  110. Vince R
    April 29th, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

    Don’t worry guys the Raving Theist is just busy researching some more Catholic anti-abortion propaganda so’s he can edify your souls with MORE wit and…erm edification?
    He’s bumming the Poep you fools!

  111. frustrated(mk)
    April 30th, 2009 @ 6:08 am

    Daniel M,

    If you are truly interested in logical thinking and learning the Truth, I suggest you read the Abolition of Man. It addresses your comments far better than I could.

    You are not the first person to think that morality is relative, or changeable, or that God should be subject to you. This line of thinking is as old as belief in God itself.

    And for the record? Catholics agree with all of the objections you put forth of your protestant upbringing.
    We do not believe the world was created in 7 days, or that physics should be tossed out the window. As a matter of fact, Catholics are responsible for a lot of our scientific methods and knowledge. The church has always been in the forefront when it comes to science and knowledge. Who do you think runs all those universities? Astronomy, Geology, Climatology, Medicine…you name it, Catholics were/are there.

    “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
    Dr Seuss

  112. Lily
    April 30th, 2009 @ 6:46 am

    Of course, there was also Georges Lemaitre who was a professor of physics and astronomer in Belgium. He proposed the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe and he came up with “Hubbles law” before Hubble did.

    Oh yeah. He was also a Catholic priest teaching at a Catholic university.

    Reality is a great deal more complex than most people, particularly young ones, give it credit for being.

  113. Dean
    April 30th, 2009 @ 8:46 am

    Vince R,
    From the Mirriam-Webster online dictionary:
    pro·pa·gan·da
    Pronunciation: \ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də, ˌprō-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: New Latin, from Congregatio de propaganda fide Congregation for propagating the faith, organization established by Pope Gregory XV †1623
    Date: 1718
    1capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
    2: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
    3: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause ; also : a public action having such an effect
    — pro·pa·gan·dist \-dist\ noun or adjective
    — pro·pa·gan·dis·tic \-ˌgan-ˈdis-tik\ adjective
    — pro·pa·gan·dis·ti·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

    I will assume you don’t mean definition #1.

    So your comment
    “Don’t worry guys the Raving Theist is just busy researching some more Catholic anti-abortion propaganda so’s he can edify your souls with MORE wit and…erm edification?”
    could instead be read as
    “Don’t worry guys the Raving Theist is just busy researching some more Catholic anti-abortion information so’s he can edify your souls with MORE wit and…erm edification?”

    Thank you, what a nice thing to say.

  114. frustrated(mk)
    April 30th, 2009 @ 11:06 am

    Dean,

    I’m still trying to figure out what a “poep” is, and how you bum one… ;)

  115. Daniel M
    April 30th, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

    Be careful when you say things like that, it smacks of revisionism. Galileo was condemned by the church for his heretical scientific theory that the earth revolved around the sun, in direct opposition to scripture that it was set firm.

    That wasn’t the first or the last occasion, and catholicism is in no way the only religion guilty of such things, but to whitewash the past and forget it is wrong.

  116. Lily
    April 30th, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

    No, Galileo was not condemned for his scientific theory. See this is a good example of not knowing what you think you know. You are buying into a myth that has been widely shown to be a myth but it doesn’t make a dent in the conscious thoughts of millions who have been fed the myth since childhood.

    Since it is quite easy to find out the truth of the matter, I will leave it to you to do a little investigating. We actually discussed the subject here a couple of months ago but I am darned if I remember when or where. Maybe someone else does.

  117. frustrated(mk)
    April 30th, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

    Daniel,

    I would not go to a science blog and tell scientists how to do their job.

    I would not go to a medical blog and try to diagnose people.

    I would not go to a law blog and tell the lawyers there how to be lawyers.

    Why? Because I know nothing at all about science, medicine or law. Except what I’ve picked up from the History Channel or CSI. I’m simply not qualified.

    What’s more, I have enough humility to admit that I don’t know what I am talking about. When you come here and say things like you did about Galileo it would be like me telling a doctor how antibiotics work because I read an article in Field and Stream.

    You simply don’t know anything about the Catholic Church, but you think that you do. I’m not saying that to be mean, but you have gotten so much stuff wrong since you starting commenting here, I can’t keep up!

    I don’t second guess my doctor because I know that he knows things that I don’t know. When I want to know something, I ask questions. I don’t just make accusations and assumptions.

    You constantly confuse protestant beliefs with Catholic beliefs and then don’t get either one of them right.

    I understand that you don’t believe in God. Maybe you should just leave it at that and stop trying to justify yourself. Perhaps you have no interest in the Catholic Church and that’s fine! But please stop dissing Her, as it only makes you look silly…Note: I’m not calling you silly, I’m saying attacking something you know nothing about makes you look silly.

    If you’d like to know about the Church, we’d be happy to teach you. We can give you links, the catechism, personal experience…THEN you can diss Her all you want. Until then, just say you don’t believe in God and move on….

  118. frustrated(mk)
    April 30th, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    For the record, Galileo was “condemned” because he insisted on putting forth his THEORY before it had been properly tested. The church couldn’t afford to put it’s name on something that turned out to be erroneous, especially since it was going to upset the protestants who DO believe that the word of the bible is literal. Galileo was asked to wait, and he refused. As it turns out, he had some stuff wrong. Had he gone forth, under the heading of the Catholic Church, She would have lost a LOT of credibility.

  119. frustrated(mk)
    April 30th, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    Here’s a few to chew on…

    * José de Acosta (1540–1600), one of the first naturalists and anthropologists of the Americas.
    * François d’Aguilon-Belgian mathematician and physicist who worked on optics.
    * Giuseppe Asclepi-Italian astronomer.
    * Joseph Bayma-He did work relating to stereochemistry.
    * Giuseppe Biancani-Astronomer and selenographer who wrote Sphaera mundi, seu cosmographia demonstrativa, ac facili methodo tradita
    * Bonaventure Berloty-first director of the Ksara Observatory in Lebanon.
    * Michel Benoist-Missionary to China and scientist.
    * Mario Bettinus-Mathematician and astronomer.
    * Jacques de Billy-He wrote on number theory and astronomy.
    * Michał Boym-Missionary to China known for botanical and zoological works.
    * Roger Joseph Boscovich-Polymath famous for his atomic theory in part. Also for devising perhaps the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position.
    * Paolo Casati-Meteorology and speculation on Vacuums.
    * Tommaso Ceva-Mathematician and poet who wrote a work on geometry.
    * Christopher Clavius-Most noted in connection with the Gregorian calendar, but also his arithmetic books were used by many mathematicians including Leibniz and Descartes.
    * Guy Consolmagno-An astronomer at the Vatican Observatory who has primarily devoted himself to planetary science.
    * George V. Coyne-Astronomer whose research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects including Seyfert galaxies.
    * Albert Curtz-German astronomer.
    * James Cullen (mathematician)-Known for the Cullen numbers.
    * Johann Baptist Cysat-He did important research on comets and the Orion nebula.
    * Jean-Charles de la Faille-Belgian mathematician.
    * Josef Dobrovský-philologist, linguist, slavist and historian. One of most promminent persons in Czech national revival.
    * Gyula Fényi-Hungarian astronomer noted for his observations of the Sun.
    * José Gabriel Funes-Argentine who currently heads the Vatican Observatory, succeeding George Coyne.
    * Christoph Grienberger-Astronomer and mathematician.
    * Francesco Maria Grimaldi-He coined the word ‘diffraction’ and used instruments to measure geological features on the Moon.
    * Maximilian Hell-A director of the Vienna Observatory who wrote astronomy tables and observed the Transit of Venus.
    * Pierre Marie Heude-French missionary and zoologist.
    * Georg Joseph Kamel-Missionary and botanist, the genus Camellia is named for him.
    * Athanasius Kircher-In his Scrutinium Pestis of 1658 he noted the presence of “little worms” or “animalcules” in the blood, and concluded that the disease was caused by microorganisms. This is antecedent to germ theory.
    * Wenceslas Pantaleon Kirwitzer-Astronomer and missionary to China.
    * Franz Xaver Kugler-Most known for his study of cuneiform tablets he was also a chemist.
    * Antoine de Laloubère-Mathematician who studied the properties of the helix.
    * Eugene Lafont- Founder of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
    * Manuel Magri (1851-1907) – Maltese folklorist and archaeologist.
    * Charles Malapert-Known for observing the stars of the southern sky and being against Copernicus.
    * Paul McNally-American astronomer who was a director of the Georgetown observatory.
    * Christian Mayer-Czech astronomer known for pioneering study of binary stars.
    * Juan Ignacio Molina-Chilean ornithologist and a botanist with a Author citation (botany).
    * Alexius Sylvius Polonus-Polish astronomer.
    * Franz Reinzer-He wrote about comets, meteors, lightning, winds, fossils, metals, etc.
    * Vincenzo Riccati-Jesuit mathematician and physicist.
    * Matteo Ricci-Mathematician, math translator, and noted for importance to the Jesuit China missions.
    * Giovanni Battista Riccioli-He wrote several works on astronomy and was the first to note that Mizar was a “double star.”
    * Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri-A mathematician who was perhaps the first European to write about Non-Euclidean geometry.
    * Christoph Scheiner-Astronomer noted for a dispute with Galileo Galilei over the discovery of Sunspots.
    * Gaspar Schott-He wrote on various mechanical and scientific topics, example gear, but little original research.
    * Angelo Secchi-He discovered the existence of solar spicules and drew an early map of Mars
    * Gerolamo Sersale-Selenographer, the crater Sirsalis (crater) is named for him.
    * Ignacije Szentmartony-”obtained the title of royal mathematician and astronomer” and used his astronomical knowledge in mapping parts of Brazil
    * André Tacquet-His work prepared ground for the eventual discovery of calculus.
    * Pierre Teilhard de Chardin-French Palaeontologist and philosopher involved in the discovery of the so-called Peking Man.
    * Franz de Paula Triesnecker-Austrian astronomer.
    * Theodor Wulf-Among the first experimenters to detect excess atmospheric radiation.
    * Niccolo Zucchi-Italian astronomer known for his study of Jupiter and work on telescope design.
    * Giovanni Battista Zupi-Italian astronomer who discovered that Mercury had orbital phases.

  120. Lily
    April 30th, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

    MK– that was a nice summary and says plainly what I was trying to get at– so much of what we all (and I mean me, too) think we know we don’t– we have gotten snippets here and there; we have had most of our views shaped by the books we have read, newspapers, the movies we have seen, etc. Pseudo facts and factoids on every conceivable subject are in the air we breathe and in the water we drink.

    It is hard to overcome the pre-judgements one has made based on this received “wisdom”. Strangely enough, it is those who most vociferously deny that virtually all their views are derived from the zeitgeist, urban and suburban myth, and the culture in which they live who are usually the most closed-minded and certain that they are free thinkers.

    Even those of us who work at it, can only become reasonably grounded and reasonably reliable in our judgments in a limited number of subjects. It makes sense, as you say, to assume that people on a science blog are well-informed about science; on a medical blog, well-informed about medicine, etc. I appreciate the reminder.

  121. Nile
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    The reason that the church ‘condemned’ Galileo had a meaning beyond whether his theory was acceptable or not. The main point was that the clergy was losing their authority to men of science. Men of science had started solving the problems of nature with no need of any interference from the church. Now, with their mathematics, the scientists had the keys to the universe and they were the ones to decipher nature rather than the clergy. The church was losing authority, it had no say on mundane matters anymore and indeed through Renaissance and Enlightment, secular institutions replaced religious institutions and religion was pushed into the small sphere of the conscience of the individual. Galileo was the life or death war of the church. The church lost the war then; but we must admit that it has revived itself to an extent in the 21st century.

  122. Lily
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

    I am afraid that is pure myth, Nile. Galileo got into trouble for drawing theological conclusions from his discoveries– he fell into a trap set for him by his scientific enemies who challenged him to defend his theories using scripture. Unwisely, he agreed. You can read a much better account of what happened (i.e. one that gets at the facts better and doesn’t overplay the myth) here: http://www.2020site.org/galileo/church.html

  123. frustrated (mk)
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

    Please, this is just getting silly…

    A. Astronomers

    * Eugenius I – Archbishop of Toledo; famous as an astronomer and astronomical mathematician
    * Dungal – Irish monk, teacher, astronomer, and poet
    * Averroes – Arabian philosopher, astronomer
    * Sacrobosco, Joannes de – English monk; astronomer, mathematician

    * Blessed Albertus Magnus – (ALBERT the GREAT), scientist, philosopher, and theologian
    * Roger Bacon – philosopher, author, mathematician, scientist, astronomer
    * George von Peuerbach – called the father of observational and mathematical astronomy
    * Muller, Johann (Regiomontanus) – astronomer, mathematician, known for a critique of Ptolemy

    * Ruysch, John – Astronomer, cartographer
    * Copernicus, Nicolaus – Dominican; founder of the heliocentric planetary theory
    * Nunez, Pedro – astronomer, professorship of higher mathematics
    * Piccolomini, Alessandro – litterateur, philosopher, astronomer

    * Clavius, Christopher – German Jesuit; mathematician, astronomer; reformed calendar under Pope Gregory XIII
    * Ricci, Matteo – Jesuit; founder of the Catholic missions in China; used mathematics and astronomy to gain their trust
    * Galilei, Galileo – famous for his work in mechanics, and especially of dynamics, optics, and astronomy
    * Scheiner, Christopher – German Jesuit; astronomer; anatomist; pantograph inventor; famous for pioneering work on sunspots

    * Schall von Bell, Johann Adam – German Jesuit; reformed the Chinese calendar, indeed, the entire system of Chinese mathematics
    * Gassendi, Pierre – Doctor of theology, professor of mathematics (College Royal); amateur astronomer; tried to reconcile materialism with Catholicism
    * Riccioli, Giovanni Battista – Italian Jesuit; astronomer; treatsies on geography and chronology
    * Campani, Giuseppe – Italian optician and astronomer

    * Picard, Jean – French priest, founder of modern astronomy in France
    * Stansel, Valentin – Jesuit; missionary; taught mathematics, astronomy; well-published in astronomy
    * Verbiest, Ferdinand – Jesuit missionary to China; mechanician; mathematician; astronomer
    * Cassini, Giovanni Domenico – Jesuit educated astronomer; engineer; professor

    * Galien, Joseph – Dominican, professor of philosophy and theology, meteorologist, physicist, writer on aeronautics
    * Pingre, Alexandre Guy – professor of astronomy; member of the Academie des Sciences; 40 years of meticulous observation
    * Bouvet, Joachim – Jesuit missionary in China; mathematician; surveyor; astronomer
    * Mayer, Christian – Jesuit; professor of mathematics and physics in the University of Heidelberg; astronomer

    * Hell, Maximilian – Jesuit; professor of mathematics; director of the Imperial observatory at Vienna
    * Fixlmillner, Placidus – Benedictine; director of the observatory of Kremsmunster
    * Alzate, Jose Antonio – Mexican priest; treatsies on astronomy, physics, meteorology, cartography, antiquities, metallurgy
    * Triesnecker, Francis a Paula – geographer, mathematician, astronomer

    * Piazzi, Giuseppe – Theatine monk; mathematician, astronomer; built observatory in Sicily; discovered Ceres
    * Oriani, Barnaba – Italian priest; astronomer; director of Observatory of Brera
    * Inghirami, Giovanni – Italian priest; professor of mathematics, astronomy; director of the San Giovannino observatory
    * Binet, Jacques-Philippe-Marie – French mathematician, astronomer; professor; devout Catholic

    * Santini, Giovanni Sante Gaspero – director of the observatory at Padua; practical and theoretic astronomer
    * Forster, Thomas Ignatius Maria – Convert to Catholicism; meteorologist, naturalist, astronomer; fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
    * Koller, Marian Wolfgang – Benedictine; director of the Kremsmunster observatory; woked in astronomy, physics and meteorology
    * Curley, James – Jesuit; director of Georgetown Observatory

    * Kreil, Karl – Benedictine educated; Austrian meteorologist and astronomer; director of the Prague Observatory
    * Vico, Francescoe – Jesuit; professor of mathematics, astronomy; director of the Roman College Observatory; composer
    * Lamont, Johann von – Astronomer; physicist; professor of astronomy (University of Munich); director of Bogenhausen Observatory
    * Heis, Eduard – German astronomer; chair of mathematics and astronomy at (University of) Munster;

    * Abbadie, Antoine d’ – astronomer, geodetist, geographer, physician, numismatist, philologian
    * Le Verrier, Urbain-Jean-Joseph – Astronomer; director of the Paris Observatory; predicted Neptune with theoretical calculations; zealous Catholic
    * Faye, Herve-Auguste-Etienne-Albans – invented the zenithal collimator; chair of astronomy at the Ecole Polytechnique
    * Sestini, Benedict – Jesuit; astronomer, mathematician, naturalist, theoretical mechanics

    * Secchi, Angelo – Jesuit; astronomer, astrophysicist, meteorologist; doctor of theology
    * Serpieri, Alessandro – Italian ecclesiastic; seismologist, astronomer, physicist
    * Denza, Francesco – Italian ecclesiastic; meteorologist, astronomer; director of the Vatican Observatory
    * Clerke, Agnes Mary – devout Catholic; prolific writer on astronomy and astrophysics; honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society

    B. Mathematicians

    * Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus – Roman statesman; Christian philosopher; mathematician
    * Grosseteste, Robert – “No one really knew the sciences, except the Lord Robert, Bishop of Lincoln” –Roger Bacon
    * Oresme, Nicole – Bishop of Lisieux; philosopher, economist, mathematician, physicist; one of the principal founders of modern science
    * Henry of Langenstein – theologian and mathematician

    * Toscanelli, Paolo Dal Pozzo – Astronomer, cosmographer; one of the most distinguished mathematicians of his time
    * Nemore, Jordanus de – mathematician
    * Pacioli, Lucas – Franciscan friar; professor of mathematics; collaborator with da Vinci
    * Nunez, Pedro – astronomer, professorship of higher mathematics

    * Tartaglia, Nicolo – Italian mathematician; known for general solution to cubic equations
    * Lilius, Aloisius – Professor of medicine, University of Perugia; principal author of the Gregorian Calendar
    * Clavius, Christopher – German Jesuit; mathematician, astronomer; reformed calendar under Pope Gregory XIII
    * Vieta, Francois – Father of modern algebra; Catholic at death

    * Stevin, Simon – prolific treatises on trigonometry, geography, cosmography, perspective; calculus; finance
    * Ricci, Matteo – Jesuit; founder of the Catholic missions in China; used mathematics and astronomy to gain their trust
    * Arrighetti, Nicola – distinguished as a litterateur, but chiefly as mathematician and philosopher; prominent disciple of Galileo
    * Castelli, Benedetto – Benedictine abott; physicist; civil engineer; mathematician to Pope Urban VIII

    * Mersenne, Marin – French ecclesiastic; theologian, philosopher, and mathematician
    * Gassendi, Pierre – French ecclesiastic; doctor of theology, professor of mathematics at College Royal; astronomer
    * Stansel, Valentin – Jesuit; missionary; taught mathematics, astronomy
    * Cavalieri, Bonaventura – Italian ecclesiastic; mathematician; illustrious disciple of Galileo

    * de Renty, Gaston Jean Baptiste – Jesuit educated; wrote several treatises on mathematics
    * Pascal, Blaise – Invented the arithmetical machine; scientist, Christian apologist
    * Lana, Francesco – Jesuit; naturalist; professor of physical science and mathematics; scientific founder of aeronautics
    * Pardies, Ignace-Gaston – French Jesuit; profssor of philosophy and mathematics

    * La Hire, Philippe de – mathematician, astronomer, physicist, naturalist, painter; member of Academy of Sciences
    * Hopital, Guillaume-Francois-Antoine de L’ – French mathematician; rivaled Newton, Huyghens, Leibniz, and the Bernoullis in the use of calculus
    * Fagnano, Giulio Carlo De’ Toschi di – Italian mathematician; known for his work with lemniscate curves; pious Catholic
    * Jacquier, Francois – Franciscan; French mathematician and physicist; chairs of experimental physics and mathematics at the Roman College

    * Laplace, Pierre-Simon – Mathematical and physical astronomer, called the Newton of France; born and died Catholic
    * Halma, Nicholas – French mathematician; scholar of ancient astronomy
    * Guglielmini, Giovanni Battista – Italian ecclesiastic; professor of mathematics at the University of Bologna
    * Ampere, Andre-Marie – French physicist and mathematician; published in calculus, chemistry, zoology; founded electro-dynamics and electro-magnetics fields

    * Bolzano, Bernhard – Austrian mathematician and philosopher;
    * Pianciani, Giambattista – Jesuit; professor of mathematics and physics at the Roman College
    * Dupin, Pierre-Charles-Fancois – French mathematician and economist; long career in politics; never failed to assert his Catholic convictions
    * Binet, Jacques-Philippe-Marie – French mathematician and astronomer; devout Catholic.

    * Cauchy, Augustin-Louis – Celebrated French mathematician; true Catholic savant
    * Coriolis, Gaspard-Gustave de – French mathematician; researcher in theoretical and applied mechanics
    * Anderson, Henry James – professor of mathematics and astronomy in Columbia College; zealous convert; founded The New York Catholic Protectory
    * Casey, John – Third Order of St. Francis; professor of higher mathematics and mathematical–Catholic University (Dublin)

    * Bayma, Joseph – Italian Jesuit; mathematician and scientist
    * Puiseux, Victor-Alexandre – French mathematician and astronomer; founded a student Society of St. Vincent de Paul
    * Boncompagni, Balthasar – Italian mathematician
    * Hermite, Charles – one of the greatest mathematicians of the nineteenth century

    * Respighi, Lorenzo – Mathematician, one of the most prominent Italian astronomers of the nineteenth century.
    * Faa di Bruno, Francesco – Italian mathematician, inventor, priest; professor of Mathematics at Turin University
    * Carbonnelle, Ignatius – Belgian Jesuit; missionary to India; professor of mathematics and astronomy at Louvain

    C. Mechanicians

    * da Vinci, Leonardo – One of the greatest minds of the Renaissance
    * Hartmann, Georg – Mechanician and physicist; d. 1564
    * Vernier, Pierre – Inventor of the instrument which bears his name
    * Bourdon, Jean – First engineer-in-chief and land-surveyor in the colony of New France

    * Charles-Michel de L’ Epee – philanthropic priest; inventor; started systematic instruction of the deaf and dumb
    * Charpentier, Francois-Philippe – French engraver, inventor, and mechanician
    * Montgolfier, Joseph-Michel – French inventor; specialized in hydraulics and aeronautics
    * Minkelers, Jean-Pierre – professor of physics and chemistry; inventor of illuminating gas

    * Foucault, Jean-Bertrand-Leon – Physicist, mechanician; famous for Foucault pendulum; notable instrumentation inventor; prolific experimentalist; Catholic
    * Hengler, Lawrence – Catholic priest; inventor of the horizontal pendulum (used in seismographs)
    * Jouffroy, Claude-François-Dorothée de – mechanician; inventor of steam-propulsion vehicles
    * Schols, Charles Mathieu – Civil engineer; professor; cartographer and surveyor; mathematician

    D. Physicians

    * Luke, Saint – Physician; Evangelist
    * Caesarius of Nazianzus – Saint, physician, younger and only brother of Gregory of Nazianzus
    * Avicenna – Arabian physician and philosopher
    * Avempace – Arabian philosopher, physician, astronomer, mathematician

    * Thierry of Freiburg – Dominican; philosopher and physician of the Middle Ages
    * Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez – Sixteenth-century explorer and faith-healer
    * Bar Hebraeus – Syrian bishop, philosopher, poet, grammarian, physician, Biblical commentator, historian, and theologian
    * Villanovanus, Arnaldus – celebrated physician, pharmacist, alchemist

    * Marsilius of Padua – physician and theologian
    * Chanca, Diego Alvarez – physician-in-ordinary to Ferdinand and Isabella; accompanied Columbus on 2nd voyage
    * Linacre, Thomas – English physician and clergyman; founder, Royal College of Physicians
    * Paracelsus, Theophrastus – celebrated physician and reformer of therapeutics

    * Agricola, George – Physician, mineralogist, historian, and controversialist; strenuous defender of Catholic faith
    * Caius, John – physician and scholar; royal physician, but dismissed due to his Catholic Faith
    * Lilius, Aloisius – Professor of medicine, University of Perugia; principal author of the Gregorian Calendar
    * Pare, Ambroise – French surgeon; first surgeon and chamberlain to King Charles IX; lifelong Catholic

    * Cesalpino, Andrea – physician, philosopher, and naturalist; steadfast proponent of Catholic principles
    * Mercuriali, Geronimo – Famous philologist and physician; chair of medicine at University of Pisa
    * Alpini, Prospero – physician and botanist
    * Castelli, Pietro – botanist, chemist, anatomist, and surgeon

    * Theophraste Renaudot – a pioneer in relief work for the poor, journalism, and medicine
    * Perrault, Claude – successful physician, anatomist, architect and author; inventor; scholar of physics, chemistry, zoology
    * Sorbait, Paul de – Ph.D. in Philosophy and Medicine; professor of medicine, University of Vienna
    * Redi, Francesco – Italian poet; physician to the Grand dukes Ferdinand II and Cosimo III
    * Malpighi, Marcello – founder of comparative physiology; papal physician; professor of medicine (Papal Medical School)
    * Morgagni, Giovanni Battista – Called the “Father of Modern Pathology”, a distinguished Italian physician and investigator in medicine
    * Galvani, Luigi – Italian physician; noted surgeon; researcher in comparative anatomy and physiology
    * Pierre-Desault, Joseph – Jesuit educated; surgeon and anatomist; member, Academy of Surgeons

    * MacNeven, William James – Barred from schooling because he was Catholic; distinguished Irish-American physician and medical educator
    * Ruffini, Paolo – physician-lecturer and celebrated mathematician; zealous Catholic apologist
    * Larrey, Dominique-Jean – Called “he first and the greatest” of military surgeons for many ingenious surgical inventions and significant advances in clinical surgery
    * Windischmann, Karl Joseph Hieronymus – Court physician; professor of philosophy and medicine at the University of Bonn

    * Laennec, Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe – French physician, father of modern pulmonary disease research; invented the stethoscope
    * McLoughlin, John – Physician and pioneer; convert to the Faith; known as the Father of Oregon
    * Veith, Johann Emanuel – Director of the school of veterinary medicine at Vienna; botanical medicine; convert to the Faith; Redemptorist preacher;
    * Rolph, Thomas – English surgeon; Catholic apologist

    * Muller, Johann – Professor of anatomy at Berlin; founder of modern physiology; loyal Catholic
    * Corrigan, Sir Dominic – Physician; heart disease researcher; President of Dublin Pathological Society, of the Dublin Pharmaceutical Society, and five times of the College of Physicians in Dublin
    * Skoda, Josef – Celebrated clinical lecturer and diagnostician and co-founder of the modern medical school of Vienna
    * Feuchtersleben, Baron Ernst Von – Austrian poet, philosopher, and physician; authored “Principles of Medical Psychology”

    * Nelaton, Auguste – Called “one of the greatest of French surgeons of the nineteenth century”; member of the Paris Academy of Medicine
    * Schwann, Theodor – German physiologist; founder of the theory of the cellular structure of animal organisms; prolific researcher
    * Noble, Daniel – Physician; member of the Royal College of Surgeons; specialized in mental disease
    * Semmelweis, Ignaz Philipp – Physician; discoverer of the cause of puerperal fever

    * Van Buren, William Home – Distinguished American surgeon; professor of anatomy and surgey; convert to the Faith
    * Kneipp, Sebastian – Bavarian priest and hydro-therapeutist
    * Hingston, William Hales – Canadian physician and surgeon; professor of clinical surgery; Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pius IX
    * O’Dwyer, Joseph – Physician; inventor of intubation; fervent Catholic

    E. Anatomists

    * Mondino dei Lucci – Medieval anatomist; his textbook was used for centuries
    * Vesalius, Andreas – Professor of surgery and anatomy at Padua; reorganizer of the study of anatomy
    * Colombo, Matteo Realdo – First professor of anatomy at University of Pisa; discoverer of the pulmonary circulation
    * Fortunato of Brescia – Spanish ecclesiastic; pioneer in anatomical microscopy; morphologist

    * Fallopio, Gabriello – Multi-talented physician; professor of anatomy; discovered the fallopian tube; prolific researcher
    * Fabricius, Hieronymus – Distinguished Italian anatomist and surgeon
    * Perrault, Claude – Successful physician, anatomist, architect and author; inventor; scholar of physics, chemistry, zoology
    * Steno, Nicolaus – Eminent Danish anatomist and geologist, convert and saintly bishop

    * Dupuytren, Guillaume – French anatomist and surgeon
    * Hyrtl, Joseph – Austrian anatomist; educator and textbook author; chair of anatomy at Vienna; firm opponent of materialism

    F. Physicists

    * Aristotle – greatest of the ancient Greek philosophers
    * Grosseteste, Robert – “No one really knew the sciences, except the Lord Robert, Bishop of Lincoln” –Roger Bacon.
    * Blessed Albertus Magnus – (ALBERT the GREAT), scientist, philosopher, and theologian
    * Roger Bacon – philosopher, author, mathematician, scientist, astronomer

    * Oresme, Nicole – Bishop of Lisieux; philosopher, economist, mathematician, physicist; one of the principal founders of modern science
    * Albert of Saxony – philosopher, geophysicist, logician
    * Georg Hartmann – Mechanician and physicist; d. 1564
    * Castelli, Benedetto – Benedictine abbott; physicist; civil engineer; mathematician to Pope Urban VIII

    * Maignan, Emmanuel – French friar, physicist, theologian, professor of mathematics
    * Kircher, Athanasius – Scholar of the natural sciences
    * Schott, Gaspar – German Jesuit; physicist; deep piety made him an object of veneration to the Protestants
    * Grimaldi, Francesco Maria – Italian Jesuit; physicist, astronomer; noted researcher in optics

    * Mariotte, Edme – French physicist; noted researcher in hydrostatics and gases
    * Duhamel, Jean-Baptiste – French scientist, philosopher, and theologian; parish priest
    * Hautefeuille, Jean de – French ecclesiastic; physicist; noted for work on horology, acoustics, optics
    * Amontons, Guillaume – Experimental physicist; important discoveries on pressure, temperature, vacuums, instrumentation

    * Poleni, Giovanni – Professor of astronomy at Padua; chair of physics; professor of mathematics; hydraulic engineer; architect; antiquarian
    * Divisch, Procopius – Norbertine; doctor of theology; parich priest; experimentalist in hydraulics, electricity; inventor (first lightning rod, instrumentation)
    * Galien, Joseph – Dominican; professor of philosophy, theology (University of Avignon); meteorologist, physicist; and writer on aeronautics

    * Condamine, Charles-Marie de La – Explorer; topographer; physicist; established flattening of our globe at the poles
    * Gordon, Andrew – Benedictine monk, physicist; invented electrostatic reaction motor
    * d’Alembert, Jean-Baptiste le Rond – Physicist; reduced problems of motion to problems of equilibrium; explained the precession of the equinoxes
    * Toaldo, Giuseppe – Priest; physicist; chair of astronomy in the University of Padua

    * Aepinus, Franz Ulrich Theodor Hoch – Experimental physicist in electricity and magnetism
    * Spallanzani, Lazzaro – Priest; distinguished eighteenth-century physical scientist; biologist; noted for charity, piety, and faith
    * Alzate, Jose Antonio – Mexican priest; treatsies on astronomy, physics, meteorology, cartography, antiquities, metallurgy
    * Volta, Alessandro – Invented the “condensing electroscope”, voltaic battery

    * Imhof, Maximus von – German Augustinian; physicist; publications in electro-physics, physical chemistry; director, Munich Academy of Sciences
    * Biot, Jean-Baptiste – physicist, mathematician, astronomer; high-altitude atmospheric experimentalist; more devout in later life
    * Ampere, Andre-Marie – French physicist and mathematician; published in calculus, chemistry, zoology; founded electro-dynamics and electro-magnetics fields
    * Zamboni, Giuseppe – Priest; physicist; invented the “dry” battery and other electrical devices

    * Pianciani, Giambattista – Italian Jesuit; professor of mathematics and physics at the Roman College
    * Fraunhofer, Joseph Von – Optics; invented screw micrometer, heliometer; important theoretical work on diffraction; founded spectal analysis
    * Fresnel, Augustin-Jean – Physicist; famous for work in optics; revolutionized lighthouse illumination
    * Becquerel, Antoine-Cesar – French physicist; pioneer in electro-chemistry

    * Koller, Marian Wolfgang – Benedictine; director of the Kremsmunster observatory; woked in astronomy, physics and meteorology
    * Babinet, Jacques – French physicist; famous for work in optics, but also physics and mechanics
    * Zantedeschi, Francesco – Priest; physicist; chair of physics, University of Padua; researcher in electro-magnetism, electro-dynamics, optics
    * Despretz, Cesar-Mansuete – chemist and physicist; foundational work in modern heat physics; Catholic apologist

    * Moigno, Francois Napoleon Marie – Priest; physicist; professor of mathematics; linguist; Catholic apologist
    * Palmieri, Luigi – Italian physicist; meteorologist; geologist; architect; inventor; “The Catholic religion was the guide of his studies”
    * Jolly, Philipp Johann Gustav von – German physicist; prolific inventor; physics professor, University of Munich
    * Regnault, Henri Victor – Chemist; physicist; chair of physics (College de France); notable work in organic and physical chemistry

    * Matteucci, Carlo – physicist; important studies in electro-statics, electro-dynamics, electro-physiology; physics chair (University of Pisa)
    * Desains, Paul-Quentin – chair of physics (Sorbonne); geo-magnetism; heat physics;
    * Foucault, Jean-Bertrand-Leon – Physicist, mechanician; famous for Foucault pendulum; notable instrumentation inventor; prolific experimentalist; Catholic
    * Fizeau, Armand-Hippolyte-Louis – physicist; Foucault collaborator; determined experimentally the velocity of light; convinced Catholic

    * Mendel, Gregor Johann – Priest; Abbot; physics teacher (Realschule); famous for work in hybridization
    * Pernter, Joseph Maria – Professor of cosmic physics (University of Innsbruck); director of the Central Meteorological Institute (Vienna)
    * Branly, Edouard – French physicist; physician; inventor; “discovered the principle of wireless telegraphy”; divided his time between the practice of medicine and his research in physics (Catholic University); devout Catholic

    G. Chemists

    * Schwarz, Berthold – German friar, reputed as inventor of gunpowder and firearms
    * Blessed Albertus Magnus – (ALBERT the GREAT), scientist, philosopher, and theologian
    * Roger Bacon – philosopher, author, mathematician, scientist, astronomer
    * John of Roquetaillade – Franciscan; distillation alchemist

    * Helmont, Jan Baptista Van – distinguished in the early annals of chemistry
    * Neri, Antonio – Florentine priest; glass chemist
    * Lavoisier, Antoine-Laurent – Mineralogist, philosopher, economist; justly called “the father of modern chemistry”; devout Catholic; guillotined by the French Revolution
    * Chaptal, Jean-Antoine – doctor of medicine; chair of chemistry at Montpellier University; member of the Academy of Sciences

    * Vauquelin, Louis-Nicolas – voluminous studies in analytical chemistry; discovered many important compounds
    * Fuchs, Johann Nepomuk von – Jesuit educated; chemist and mineralogist
    * Chevreul, Michel-Eugene – chemist, physicist, philosopher; member, Academy of Sciences: Legion of Honor, Grand Cross; ardent Catholic
    * Pelletier, Pierre-Joseph – Pharmacist; convinced Catholic; awarded the Paris Academy of Science Montyon prize for the discovery of quinine

    * Despretz, Cesar-Mansuete – chemist and physicist; foundational work in modern heat physics; Catholic apologist
    * Dumas, Jean-Baptiste – In the first rank of 19th century chemists; French senator; able defender of his Catholic faith
    * Kaiser, Kajetan Georg von – chemist, inventor; “his Catholic belief was the invulnerable spot in his heart”
    * Pelouze, Theophile-Jules – Pharmacist, organic and inorganic chemist; member of French Academy of Sciences; Catholic

    * Regnault, Henri Victor – Chemist; physicist; chair of physics (College de France); notable work in organic and physical chemistry
    * Sainte-Claire Deville, Charles – meteorologist, geologist, molecular physicist; member of French Academy of Sciences
    * Pasteur, Louis – Chemist, founder of physio-chemistry, father of bacteriology, inventor of bio-therapeuties; devout Catholic

    H. Naturalists

    * Blessed Albertus Magnus – (ALBERT the GREAT), scientist, philosopher, and theologian
    * Aldrovandi, Ulissi – Italian naturalist, ; professor of natural history in the University of Bologna; rich collections in botany and zoology
    * Alpini, Prospero – physician and botanist
    * Castelli, Pietro – botanist, chemist, anatomist, and surgeon

    * Jussieu, Adrien-Henri de – professor of agricultural botany (Jardin des Plantes); textbook author; president, French Academy of Sciences
    * Jussieu, Antoine de – Physician; botanist; studies in human anatomy, zoology, palaeontology, mineralogy
    * Jussieu, Antoine-Laurent de – professor of botany in the medical faculty at Paris; member, Academy of Sciences
    * Jussieu, Bernard de – Physician; botanist; zoologist; member, Academy of Sciences
    * Jussieu, Joseph de – Explorer; botanist; engineer; and mathematician

    * Kircher, Athanasius – Scholar of the natural sciences
    * Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de – Jesuit educated; French botanist; doctor and professor of medicine; prolific collector; known for classification system
    * Marsigli, Luigi Ferdinando – Italian geographer, naturalist, significant specimen collections from his many travels
    * Camel, George Joseph – Jesuit ecclesiastic; botanist and missionary in the Philippines; the “Camellia” genus is named after him
    * Gusmao, Bartholomeu Lourenco de – Naturalist, inventor; the first aeronaut; Doctor of Canon Law

    * Belgrado, Giacopo – Italian Jesuit; professor of mathematics and physics (Parma University); natural philosopher
    * Ulloa, Antonio de – Naval officer; geo-physical scientist; credited with establishing first natural history museum
    * Fontana, Felice – Italian naturalist; physiologist; organized the Florence museum’s geological, zoological, physical and astronomical instruments collections
    * Mutis, Jose Celestino – Ecclesiastic; eminent naturalist and scientist in South America

    * Molina, Juan Ignacio – Jesuit; naturalist and scientist; prominent historian and geographer of Chile
    * Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de – Distinguished botanist, zoologist, and natural philosopher
    * Azara, Feliz de – Spanish naturalist, engineer; shrewd observer of South America mammals
    * Schrank,Franz Paula von – German Jesuit; theologian; prolific dissertations in natural sciences

    * Rodrigues Ferreira, Alexandre – Brazilian natural scientist and explorer
    * Latreille, Pierre-Andre – French priest; prominent zoologist; founder of modern entomology; prolific writer
    * Hladnik, Franz von Paula – Austrian priest; professor of botany and natural history (Central School of Laibach); rich botanical collection
    * Waterton, Charles – English Catholic; naturalist and explorer of South America; staunch Catholic

    * Forster, Thomas Ignatius Maria – Convert to Catholicism; meteorologist, naturalist, astronomer; fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
    * Barrande, Joachim – Notable French palaeontologist
    * Lacordaire, Jean-Baptiste-Henri-Dominique – Distinguished French entomologist; professor of zoology and comparative anatomy (University of Liege); devout Catholic
    * Bonaparte, Charles – French ornithologist

    * Endlicher, Stephan Ladislaus – Austrian botanist, linguist, and historian; collected 30,000 species of plants
    * Van Beneden, Pierre-Joseph – Curator, natural history museum (University of Louvain); professor of zoology and comparative anatomy (Catholic University)
    * Forster, Arnold – German entomologist, botanist; devout Catholic
    * Tulasne, Louis-Rene – French botanist; noted mycologist; professed his desire to glorify God by his scientific labors

    * Parlatore, Filippo – Italian botanist; prolific collector and writer; devout Catholic
    * Castracane degli Antelminelli, Francesco – Italian Jesuit; naturalist; one of the first to use microphotography in biology
    * Provancher, Leon Abel – Canadian priest; naturalist; known as the “Father of Natural History in Canada”
    * David, Armand – Missionary priest, zoologist (China); the International Scientific Congress of Catholics reports a collection of 200 mammal species and 807 bird species

    * Mivart, St. George Jackson – Distinguished biologist; received degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Pope Pius IX
    * Heude, Pierre – Jesuit missionary (China); botanist; zoologist
    * Mendel, Gregor Johann – Priest; Abbot; physics teacher (Realschule); famous for work in hybridization

    I. Geologists

    * Steno, Nicolaus – eminent Danish anatomist and geologist, convert and saintly bishop
    * Jean-Baptiste-Julien D’omalius Halloy – Belgian geologist; devoted Catholic; one of the pioneers of modern geology
    * Hauy, Rene-Just – Norbertine priest; mineralogist; father of modern crystallography; member, Academy of Sciences
    * Elhuyar y de Suvisa, Fausto de – distinguished mineralogist and chemist; first to isolate tungsten (Wolfram)

    * Fuchs, Johann Nepomuk von – Jesuit educated; chemist and mineralogist
    * Elie de Beaumont, Jean-Baptiste-Armand-Louis-Leonce – Geologist; member Academy of Sciences; President of the Geological Society of France; ardent Catholic
    * Sainte-Claire Deville, Charles – meteorologist, geologist, molecular physicist; member of French Academy of Sciences
    * Daubree, Gabriel-Auguste – French geologist, professor of geology and mineralogy

    * Pouget, Jean-Francois-Albert Du – distinguished work in paleontology and anthropology; earnest Catholic
    * Vallee-Poussin, Charles-Louis-Joseph-Xavier de La – among the foremost ranks of Belgian geologists and crystallographers
    * Woods, Julian Edmund Tenison – Priest; specialist in the geology and zoology of Australia and the Southeast Asia
    * Lapparent, Albert Auguste de – president of the Geological Society of France; president of the French Society of Mineralogy

    * Waagen, Wilhelm Heinrich – geologist and paleontologist; university professor; geological survey of India; loyal Catholic

    Retrieved from “http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Curricula:_Science”

    http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Curricula:_Science

  124. Lily
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

    MK, lol! That’s hilarious! Well, if your list were three times as long, I don’t think it would put a dent in most naturalists’ belief that science and religion are incompatible. But it is certainly worth the effort to keep trying.

  125. frustrated (mk)
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

    Lily,

    If they were trying to argue that Catholics were not the MOST prolific, or leaders, it would be one thing, but to claim that the Catholic Church is not compatible with science????? Puhleeeze.

    Science is science is science. It’s not a belief system. There is nothing about science that gets in the way of faith…It’s like saying music or art are incompatible with Faith, and then refusing to look at religious art as proof that it’s not true! NONE of these things contradict the other. In fact, they support each other!

  126. Nile
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 2:35 am

    But science does contradict religion. As a result, the religious had to convert to the use of symbolic meaning to cope with science. What is ridiculous is to claim that all the myths of the sacred books do not contradict science. It seems you have never envolved yourselves with the philosophies of 18th century enlightment. Europe had to go a long way to get rid of religion – to get human rights, to bring tolerance, to establish institutions based on public preference, to understand that the universe is not some static placement of things valued in comparison to their distance from the First Mover, that the nature is a process in itself and that it is the scientist who has the formulas (mathematical principles) to solve its mysteries.

    Starting with Bronu and Leonardo, Kopernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Descartes all questioned the faith; do you think they could have admitted their agnosticism openly? It is not until the 18th century that it could be done. In the best case, religion has been made a matter of conscience and mind by Bacon, Descartes,Kant, Hume, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire and all the rest of the enlightment philosophers and writers.

    Religion does not support science; it supports the feelings and emotions of the individual believer. It supports to improve the ethical behaviour of the unlearned men. And it’s all there is to it.

  127. Beelzebub
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 3:01 am

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say there’s NO incompatibility between science and religion. It depends heavily on what science and what religion and what doctrine you’re talking about. Catholicism, for instance, seems to have made a certain peace with the idea of evolution. It also seems to have finally relented to heliocentrism, though I think it formally took until 1992. Sure, there will be no incompatibility as long as the religion in question continues to subsume at least the gist of the scientific framework. I think I would argue that religion often doesn’t rest in total amity with scientific findings. For instance, CC might grudgingly acquiesce to evolution, but it certainly still claims special human status, for the human mind and soul. It doesn’t go along with the scientific view that we are just hairless apes with big brains. Similarly, biology gives no credence to the idea that a fertilized human egg is fundamentally different than the zygote of a monkey or a chicken, at least no difference other than the obvious biological one. These aren’t trivial incompatibilities, as recent history shows, they determine how we regard and treat them, how we formulate laws and research funding, etc.

    Mk’s list is impressive and I could have guessed at one of equal or longer length. There’s no question that highly religious people have contributed massively to science. Newton himself was what would be called these days a religious “nut.” Even some of you would probably be impressed with his more bizarre beliefs. (To be fair, he may have unwittingly poisoned himself with mercury during his work.) Of course, it’s important to remember that throughout history, religious belief has more or less been the only game in town. It was kind of like history’s NSF funding. Religion and the CC in particular has only had a problem with science when, like you have said, it goes too fast and can’t be integrated into the power structure of the Church itself. Is that a good or a bad thing? Galileo’s most offensive work wasn’t taken out of the register of banned works until the early 19th century, which means it was officially denied for centuries, and like I mentioned, it wasn’t until 1992 that John Paul made the official proclamation — the actual apology had to wait until 2000. Better late than never, I guess.

    Finally, let me end with my favorite subject here: the scientific quest to determine when a blob of cells becomes a person! Of course, it’s never happened and probably never will because neither side of the abortion debate is in the slightest bit interested in conducting it, but let’s just play pretend. Are you seriously contending that science and religion would remain compatible in this project?

  128. Lily
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 8:35 am

    Bbub that was the most factually tortured account of science and western history I have ever read in one place. Seriously, it reads like a parody. I could refute it bit by bit but I have a better idea– there is a history of science Brit out there who has a wonderful site “Bede’s Library”. He has a whole section devoted to science and the supposed conflict between science and faith which will be very useful to you, if you want a more accurate understanding: http://www.bede.org.uk/scienceindex.htm

    That same Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 also has a far more sophisticated understanding of evolution than you have demonstrated. Even today, nobody thinks we are apes with big brains.

    As far as heliocentrism is concerned? Well, the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 takes it completely for granted so we can assume that your guess of 1922 is wrong. The Pope did not apologize for the Church not believing Galileo which it basically did. He apologized for its mishandling of the problems that arose from Galileo’s amateur theologizing. Even then, there was no agreement on his condemnation– 3 of the 10 cardinals who had to vote on it voted against it.

    You obviously haven’t read a word mk has written or you wouldn’t use the word “person” of the developing infant, as though that had any meaning in the abortion debate. Nor would you write howlers like ” Similarly, biology gives no credence to the idea that a fertilized human egg is fundamentally different than the zygote of a monkey or a chicken, at least no difference other than the obvious biological one.” Is the obvious biological one the fact that the fertilized human egg is, wait for it …. human? I’d say that was a fundamental difference!

    Nile, nobody claims that the “myths” in the Bible don’t contradict what science has learned about the natural world. We differ greatly as to what the definition of “myth” is. To take the most obvious example, non-believers routinely say things like “miracles can’t happen” and that they “contradict” nature. Well, no. They don’t. Since I think this is the sort of thing you have in mind, I will say the following:

    Miracles can’t be disproven a priori, since that would mean they are logically impossible. But miracles do not violate any rule of logic. Supposedly they violate physical laws, or laws of nature, but that assumption demonstrates a confusion that many atheists have about the laws of logic and the laws of nature. They are not synonymous and it is a category error that those with no training in logic routinely make.

    So do you want to define myth for us or am I safe in concluding that you mean the ususal sorts of miracles that are found in the Bible and the Resurrection, itself? If so, we have a problem since they cannot be disproven a priori, nor can they be ruled out empirically or a posteriori unless you possess all knowledge of everything.

    I know a lot of people think science knows it all or will be some day, but that’s nonsense. There are some things that science can never know, even on an empirical level. I think I have stated this before but I will say it again. Such limits on knowledge are the basis of quantum theory and chaos theory, for example.

    What happened during the Planck era of the Big Bang is a limit on empirical knowledge, too, since The laws of physics (so far as we know them) break down at that moment at the beginning of the universe (Big Bang). So the most that science can say with regard to miracles or the Resurrection is “we don’t know.” But it can never formally disprove them. Thus, we look at the historical record to see if it yields better, more useful knowledge.

  129. Daniel M
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    you know it’s interesting, but religious types over and over on this blog do two things;

    1) they chide the atheist (or theist from another religion) on misquoting history and not getting the “whole” story (ie, from friendly sources)

    and

    2) routinely ignore works and conclusions from atheist or other-theist sources

    for example:

    the pill both prevents ovulation and prevents fertilization, as well as preventing the egg from attaching itself, yet many theists (here at least) will dwell entirely on the last effect, and ignore or deny the other two.

    They will ignore the apparently normal practice in testing contraception methods, of quoting both “proper use” as well as “ideal use”, and only claim the last (since it suits their purposes).

    They’ll cut and paste a long list of scientists who have been affiliated with some religion, as if that proves anything beyond the fact that lots of people have been baptized (in one form or another).

    They will state that ethics and morality are a field conquered by religion alone, that somehow all accept god (in their heart of hearts) and that somehow saying “god said this” isn’t the fallacy many suggest it is, ignoring the euthypro dilemma and the is-ought problem entirely.

    Nile and Beelzebub just get told “you’re wrong, and this guy agrees with me” as if that ends the matter, it doesn’t.

    The catholic church may agree with the theory of evolution (it should, it’s as undeniable a fact as the theory of gravity), but that doesn’t mean they like it – to the scientific method, there essentially IS no difference between a human zygote and pig or a mouse. To the scientific method, we really ARE just monkeys with big brains. where exactly on the tree of life we sit is a subject for argument amongst scientists, but declaring we are not animalia, chordata and the rest of it right down to “species: sapiens” is where religion in general disagrees.

    It also misses the point entirely that many religious denominations (mostly from the US and far east, from what I can see) deny it and many other scientific facts (from why people get sick to how old the Earth is.

    Pretending that there are no dissenting viewpoints from that put forth in religious texts won’t broaden your outlook.

    Pretending that science and religion agree with each other over everything is a huge problem – from whether the Earth is fixed in space and flat or goes around the sun, to whether it is 6000 years old or 4 billion.

    Where religion dictates how the physical world is arranged (including miracles), then science does not agree or support it.

    Pleading that “if you haven’t seen a miracle, you can’t disprove it” is an empty phrase – you may as well believe in the shroud of turin (despite the fact that it is demonstrably younger than the age it must be) or the exodus (despite the fact that there appear no writings or journals or proof of any kind that the narrative described in the old testament ever happened, and that Egypt itself appears never to have suffered such a hardship, and indeed was at it’s most powerful around, during and after that time).

    You may as well believe that Jesus was real, that he was born of a virgin and died as the king of the jews, when nobody of his time frame seems to remember the guy.

    you ask why I come here, why I don’t just say “I don’t believe in god” and move on?

    That’s why – because the R(A)T seems to have gone through a total conversion from atheist to theist despite these issues with history and facts and I’d like to understand why. I’d like to hear well thought-out rational reasons for faith from the other side. I feel I’ve got half and half – some good rational reasons, but decidedly one-sided, as if argued from a podium of complete superiority.

    I don’t set out to diss the church, but when I hear Galileo was put under house arrest until he died, with his books banned, by the catholic church for not writing how the church wanted, I will say so.

    When I hear that the doctors who gave that girl who was raped an abortion were excommunicated, but the rapist was *not*, I call it.

    When I hear about the shame within the catholic church which is the pedophilia scandal *and* the cover up, I will speak out.

    You have to take the good with the bad – the simple fact is that the catholic church has been around for many centuries, and as a major force in human lives has been around and done many things (I find it amusing that a theist can say “catholics killed christians, muslims and jews” with a straight face).

    If you want to talk horrors of a religion, there are currently far, far worse. The hateful stance of the phelps clan, the insanity displayed by muslim extremists, the cover ups and killings inside scientology…it’s a long list I could write without saying the word “catholic” even once.

    Why does it come up so much? well, contraception is something in every day life – and when it’s mainly catholic reasons I hear for banning it, I respond to the catholic viewpoint. Somebody who’s not a catholic and opposes the condom, speak up for a change!

    I’m not arguing for sake of argument, and I am pleased when my views are challenged, even corrected. If you think me a troll, you are incorrect. Loud mouthed, perhaps, mistaken to some degree, sure, but that’s how I roll.

    and to frustrated, this isn’t a blog for lawyers, or doctors, or whoever. If you presume to talk for all christians…well, I AM one of those (at least nominally).

  130. Lily
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

    We don’t think you are a troll, Daniel (or Bbub or any other regular). We know that you are ignorant. This is not to say unintelligent. It is to say– uninformed. What are the sources of your information? We can and do point to scholarly sources over and over again. You point to nothing. You merely repeat the same uninformed, internet atheist “truisms”.

    The full story of Galileo, for instance, is out there. I am not talking about atheist blogs or popular sites. I am talking about finding out the truth, if you want to, in scholarly sources.

    Despite everything we have written, you have learned nothing. You brought up this nonsesne again: When I hear that the doctors who gave that girl who was raped an abortion were excommunicated, but the rapist was *not*, I call it. What don’t you understand in the concept that excommunication is automatic where rape is concerned?

    What don’t you understand about the concept that under very limited circumstances an abortion might not be illicit? No one thinks rape is ok. But many do think abortion is ok. So making a public pronouncement when it is done illicitly makes sense.

    There is no point in going over any of your other “points”. Others may wish to. I think you ought to have learned something from what we have said already and improved your arguments or changed your mind. That you haven’t, tells me you don’t want to. Heaven forbid that I should try to spoil your fun.

  131. Daniel M
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

    So…this is wrong?

    Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, the conservative regional archbishop for Pernambuco where the girl was rushed to hospital, has said that the man would not be thrown out of the Church, because although he had allegedly committed “a heinous crime”, the Church took the view that “the abortion, the elimination of an innocent life, was more serious”.

    from

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/church-excommunicates-mother-of-9yearold-rape-victim-ndash-but-not-accused-rapist-14218389.html

  132. Daniel M
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 5:19 pm

    I quote my sources, where I can. I haven’t seem them refuted, only ignored or denied. I have learned much, but for every denial, it is you who has learned nothing.

    the pill and what it does:

    http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/contraception/contraception_birth.html#a_How_Does_It_Work_

    perfect use vs typical use:

    http://www.sexetc.org/faq/birth_control/987

    (it at least highlights the necessity)

    I’ll leave out the “euthypro dilemma” and the “naturalistic fallacy” and “the is-ought problem” and the “moralistic fallacy”, as wikipedia has them (amongst others) – I didn’t know about these. They weren’t mentioned, I suspect you didn’t either. I stumbled upon the fact that many had thought through the same arguments as I had, but I lacked the verbage to explain.

    I’ve read up on proving Jesus even existed. I thought it would be easy! In actual fact, there is nothing to go on apart from the bible itself, which isn’t even internally consistent.

    I’ve read up on the supposed exodus, and it seems unlikely it ever happened, since the plagues would have destroyed egypt totally (rendering it fit only for dragons, I believe the bible words were), yet it’s power remained undiminished for centuries before, during and after this event. There seems to be little proof that jews even lived in the area in as large numbers as they must have.

    whilst hardly scholarly, try http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/egyptexodus.htm

    and I’m surprised that you have such a problem with Galileo – he was condemned for heresy and narrowly escaped death, I’ve done my best to read up on the story, but I haven’t found anywhere not directly aligned with the church where this story is contradicted. I understand you don’t want to speak ill of your church, but it is not I who has a problem with history.

  133. Daniel M
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

    ..drat and an important comment with many sources remains awaiting moderation.

    you’ll have to believe I have sources, until R(A)T approves it…

  134. Lily
    May 3rd, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

    I doubt the veracity of the quote (and really, I wouldn’t convict a dog of fleas based on newspaper reports– to steal a line from CS Lewis). Why do I doubt it? Because no one is thrown out of the Church, ever. The Church is a hospital for sinners; not a country club for the righteous. Excommunication does not throw any one out of the Church. This is such a basic fact and we have been over it here numerous times. Why don’t you get it yet? I don’t say agree with it. I am asking what it would take for you to get it, finally?

    The Archbishop can weigh two evils and decide that abortion is graver than rape, on the grounds that killing is graver than physical injury. But do you suppose that is any sort of exuse for rape? Both are evil and both will get you sent to hell, without sincere repentance. So, just exactly how shocked am I supposed to be by the Archbishop’s statement?

    MK– It is time for you to weigh in!

  135. Beelzebub
    May 4th, 2009 @ 3:45 am

    Lily,
    One interesting quote from that site:


    One reason that there are militantly atheistic scientists and “fundamentalists-turned-logical-positivists” is that sometimes Christians are massively, bone headedly, and dogmatically wrong in their claims to have absolute knowledge of the world. The condemnation of Galileo was a complex struggle that had more to do with politics than with religion. So was the Scopes trial. In both, a close reading of the historical context is necessary. Regardless, these were cases in which the church and large numbers of Christians used dogma and obscurantism to suppress scientifically gained truth.

    That’s probably a fair and conciliatory assessment and I’m willing to leave it at that. That site is a couple grades up from the usual theist reconciliations with science, but I still stick to my claim that science and — allow me to generalize a little — supernaturalism are incompatible. The usual spiel goes that science is a methodology to investigate the naturalistic world and can say nothing about the supernatural, since by definition supernatural is outside, or “above” (etymologically) the natural world. The problem is that religious accounts of supernatural don’t stop there. If they did, supernatural would have no more implication than some undetected yet theorized quark or something like that, certainly nothing we ever need worry our pretty heads over. Actually, religion makes a more aggressive claim, that supernatural impinges on the natural world, and hence becomes a part of it. The supernatural ceases being strictly supernatural and adopts a natural phenomenology. This may manifest as ghosts or guys named Thomas sticking his finger in bloody wounds of people who should be dead, or whatever. The point is, in order for supernatural to have any meaning for us (outside dreams, perhaps) it must manifest itself in the natural world. At the very least, if we are to gain any knowledge of the supernatural, it must first enter the sphere of our senses, and unless you’re partial to clairvoyance or ESP, that means the natural world. You probably see where I’m going with this. When it moves into the realm of nature it becomes subject to scientific examination.

    Now, at this point the supernaturalist (one who believes in the supernatural) has a few options. Numero Uno: Science has already detected the supernatural. Due: Science hasn’t detected the supernatural but only because it dismisses it as statistical noise. Three: The supernatural plays coy in a kind of Heisenbergian sense, the moment you attempt to characterize it, it slips through your hands like sand. Others…

    So I’ll just pause here and ask what your thoughts are so far. And please don’t respond by sending me to another web site.

  136. Matthew in Fairfax
    May 4th, 2009 @ 7:09 am

    The quote of Archbishop Sobrinho is accurate. CNN reports:
    Archbishop Don Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Recife excommunicated the doctor, the child’s mother and the medical team involved in the procedure.
    However, the stepfather was not excommunicated, with Sobrinho telling Globo TV that, “A graver act than (rape) is abortion, to eliminate an innocent life.”

    edition.cnn.com…

    A Portuguese report at Globo.com has a video interview and more of the quote:
    “Ele cometeu um crime enorme, mas não está incluído na excomunhão”, afirmou Sobrinho. “Esse padrasto cometeu um pecado gravíssimo. Agora, mais grave do que isso, sabe o que é? O aborto, eliminar uma vida inocente.”
    g1.globo.com/Noticias/Brasil….

    FWIW, here is GoogleTranslate:
    ”He committed a huge crime, but is not included in the ban,” said Sobrinho. “The father committed a serious sin. Now, more serious than that, you know what? Abortion, eliminating one innocent life.”

    I have not watched the video, so I do not know what is on there.

  137. Lily
    May 4th, 2009 @ 10:35 am

    Bbub– this was a coffee out the nose moment: That site is a couple grades up from the usual theist reconciliations with science… I am sure that this Oxford-trained historian of science is grateful for your enthusiastic review. However, it also shows why I tend to point to websites that I think are valuable. Arguing on the Internet with atheists is mostly pointless. So I tend not to repeat what others have said better than I ever could and more fully than a comment box can permit.

    There are serious intellectual arguments being made by philosophers, scientists, and historians of science out there that are not degraded by the scientism of the enthusiastic but untutored. You might be surprised how much even those grounded in science will learn by spending a little more time at Bede’s. You might even be surprised by the variety of sites he links to. He links, for instance, to Victor Stenger’s site because “it is well written and a forceful argument for atheistic science”. This is how honest scholars approach a subject.

    So, my thoughts on the subject amount to this: The supernatural does not “become natural” when it “impinges on the natural world”. This is a claim you are making with no logical argument at all. But stating it simply isn’t enough.

    It is a proposition that the supernatural and natural cannot intersect and a weak one at that. They already have and continue to do so. I suppose we ought to examine exactly what you mean when you use the term. I tend only to mean the existence of God and the historicity and veracity of Christianity, when talking about the supernatural.

    So far as I can tell, and I may be completely wrong, your view appears rather old-fashioned in that it seems to reflect a newtonian view of the universe as running by fixed, unchanging laws. But modern physics has shown us that there are limits on our knowledge. Our conclusions about “natural laws” are inductive and subject to revision when better or contradictory evidence is presented.

    You simply cannot say, logically, that the supernatural does not exist. Science cannot possibly demonstrate this. Since science cannot help you here, you are left with accounting for the data in other ways. So when talking about Christianity, we have to deal with a mass of historical evidence and claims about Jesus. Science is not the tool for that. We need logic, an understanding of history, and knowledge of how historical evidence is evaluated.

    Science is just not up to the job.

  138. Lily
    May 4th, 2009 @ 10:44 am

    Matthew, I am not disputing the quote. I am disputing the assumption that the rapist was not also excommunicated. He was by his actions. Most excommunications, and I do mean most, are self-imposed by virtue of the mortal sin committed. The Archbishop was theologically correct, though his PR skills were seriously lacking, to say that deliberate killing is a worse crime than rape. That really needed a whole lot more explanation than he apparently gave. He also does not seem to have met with the mother and doctors which he should have … nor did he (apparently) speak with the compassion and wisdom that were so badly needed in this situation. Being morally correct under such circumstances is better than nothing but not by much.

  139. Beelzebub
    May 4th, 2009 @ 2:48 pm


    So, my thoughts on the subject amount to this: The supernatural does not “become natural” when it “impinges on the natural world”. This is a claim you are making with no logical argument at all. But stating it simply isn’t enough.

    It is a proposition that the supernatural and natural cannot intersect and a weak one at that.

    That’s pretty much the gist of it, but I don’t see where I need any heavy duty logic to prove anything. We have five senses that operate in the natural world. Unless you think the supernatural is only experienced through ESP or illusion or being possessed with the holy spirit, and so on, you must concede that at some point people have used ordinary sense perception to perceive the supernatural. If the supernatural has no real component, how do you explain that we can perceive it? For instance, suppose a person sees a ghost. Either photons are coming off that apparition and impinging on the retina of the observer, or the observer is having some kind of hallucination. If five people see the ghost, they’re either seeing photons in the real world or they’re each having parallel simultaneous hallucination. When Jesus appeared to people after the Resurrection, either they were all under the spell of a false vision, or they were at the very least perceiving photons coming off Jesus so they could see him. If they had had a spectroscope they could have conducted a simple experiment on him.

    In other worlds, either the supernatural is subject to scientific investigation, or it is extremely divorced from our existence and nearly imperceptible. Historical accounts of miracles, and so forth, most definitely don’t give the impression that supernatural manifestations are quite that subtle. To me this seems to be a suspicious inconsistency.

  140. Daniel M
    May 4th, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    I’m really not surprised that the many-times-backed-up quote proving lily wrong was brushed aside as unbelievable, and sadly proves my point.

    I am of the opinion that there is something fundamentally wrong when you excommunicate doctors and a mother (they would have excommunicated the girl too, but she was a minor) but not somebody guilty of rape, incest and pedophilia.

    It makes sense, however (according to the simplistic twisted logic of the church) – murder is worse than rape, incest and pedophilia (or even all three at once). masturbation is worse than rape, incest and pedophilia (as is, apparently, coitus interruptus, which is apparently fundamentally different enough from “NFP” to be sinful, although there is nothing unnatural about either and they both have the same effect).

    I’m sure you’ll just shrug, ignore the issue and say I’m ignorant again.

  141. Lily
    May 4th, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    If I understand you correctly, Bbub, it is hard for me to see what your argument actually is. I don’t need to concede anything because I have never denied that we use our 5 senses to apprehend supernatural phenomena. How could it be otherwise?

    You could measure the physical effects of seeing, say, the risen Christ, I suppose. But what would that tell you? If there are physical effects, as I suppose there would be, then you can prove that the person has seen something. But your scientific measurements don’t yield even a shred of data about the nature of the “object” seen, do they? In fact, you don’t need any fancy equipment for that because if there is something to be seen, you will have seen it too!

    Likewise, if someone claims to have been miraculously cured of cancer, what will your instruments tell you? Yes, David had terminal cancer, as his blood work and x-rays show clearly. Now, however, not a trace of the cancer can be found by any scientifc device. That is fine, as far as it goes, but deciding what it means requires something other than a scientific instrument. That decision requires something that looks remarkably like logic, the ability to weigh evidence and then come to reasonable conclusions.

  142. Daniel M
    May 4th, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

    to say that science (and by this, you mean the scientific method, since science itself is just a process) isn’t up to the job of examining “the data” (whatever you mean by that) is very disingenuous.

    data is exactly where the scientific method excels.

    It’s why creationism in all it’s weasel forms falls flat – the creationist method is to say “we have the data, now come up with facts to support it”. this, as any school kid learns, is precisely the wrong way around.

    If you have data, you can analyze it, whether from effect or result. If you could spectrographically analyze a sample of ghost-goop, you could say what physical substance they’re made of.

    People have analyzed historical records for the existence of biblical accuracy and found the bible lacking (not to mention the whole “the world isn’t flat” type of thing).

    There’s a million dollars out there to be won if you have any supernatural power…the power of prayer included.

    I would like to know what you consider proof (external to the bible) of Jesus’ existence. I’m not ragging on the catholics here, any denomination.

  143. some random guy
    May 4th, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

    oy. just…. oy…

    Beelzebub,

    Your argument against the supernatural is flawed. I ‘ll be back for it in a couple of hours.

    Daniel,

    Just…. no…

    I’ll be back later for that too.

    Science and Faith don’t contradict.

  144. Lily
    May 4th, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

    Daniel– I simply don’t have the psychic energy to explain to you all over again what others have spent serious time explaining to you in careful detail. I really don’t. And now you have trotted out not a single straw man but a battalion of straw men! There isn’t a single creationist here– at least if there is, s/he has kept silent. So why do you bring that up? What does it have to do with anything?

    As far as evidence for Jesus is concerned, there are numerous historical sources for his life and ministry. 27 of them, independent historical documents written at different times, in different places by different people all attest to the same thing. They have been collected and published together as the “New Testament”.

    No historian (except for a very small handful of radicals, who are, or were mostly serious flakes like poor John Allegro) thinks Jesus is a non-existent person. “Jesus never existed ” is simply out of fashion these days as a credible thesis.

    Even the Jesus Seminar which came together to debunk Christianity didn’t posit that– they had scholarly reputations to protect and knew they’d be laughed out of the academy, if they took such a position. I cannot recapitulate all the evidence for the historicity of the New Testament in a comment box, though I will be glad to point you to some reliable sources– scholarly or popular. Your choice.

  145. Beelzebub
    May 4th, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

    Random guy,
    It’s not an argument against s/n, it’s a dialog about possible ramifications about its existence in conjunction with applying the scientific method — and I’m not done yet, but any commentary about it so far along is appreciated.

  146. some random guy
    May 4th, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

    Beelzebub,

    Ok, upon rereading, I misinterpreted your post as an argument when it was more of a… statement. Apologies. Let’s take a look at what we have so far:

    ”That’s pretty much the gist of it, but I don’t see where I need any heavy duty logic to prove anything.”

    I really wish you had done some heavy duty logical thinking… not to be snarky, but I think in order to understand and avoid the mistake you’re making, your point requires a bit more distinction and nuance.
    Continuing:

    “We have five senses that operate in the natural world.”

    We should be more precise: We have five senses through which we receive material stimuli from the physical world. We see light, it’s a material, physical thing. We touch a stone. Etc…

    However, it’s important to note that not all things we perceive are the result of said material stimuli channeled through those senses. For instance, take the feeling of either love or loneliness. One says “I feel loved” or “I feel lonely”, but said feelings, though really perceived and truly existing, are not necessarily the result of any material cause. When I say “I feel loved”, I don’t mean that I’m smelling a bunch of love odours or my hands are being bombarded by love particles. And yet, the feeling is perceived and real. No experiment can verify someone feeling loved or lonely, and yet it does happen.

    The point of all this blather is that real things like feelings, thoughts and senses can be experienced or perceived outside the realm of both science and the physical senses.
    Moving along:

    ” Unless you think the supernatural is only experienced through ESP or illusion or being possessed with the holy spirit, and so on, you must concede that at some point people have used ordinary sense perception to perceive the supernatural.”

    Not so, I say! What if there is an additional component or “sense” to the human person through which the supernatural is perceived and impacted? Like say… a soul? And what if changes to that soul were usually felt in those non-measurable things we discussed before. (I’m not arguing that this is purely and simply the case, as I think the supernatural can affect both body and soul, especially in humans as the two in humans are linked.) Alls I’m sayin’ is that there are additional cases which you haven’t considered.

    “If the supernatural has no real component, how do you explain that we can perceive it?”

    Here you make a dangerous statement/assumption (implicitly) that all things real must be materially perceptible, and thus scientifically verifiable. Mathematics disproved this easily. Imaginary Numbers (square roots of a negatives) are “real” in that they do exist and have important roles in tons of real world applications, (Alternating Current, for instance), yet they’re not materially perceptible… Likewise, Love is not a material thing, and yet people are constantly falling into it. I dare you to try and say it isn’t real! Long of the short of it: There are other methods of proving things real outside of science and material interaction.

    ”For instance, suppose a person sees a ghost. Either photons are coming off that apparition and impinging on the retina of the observer, or the observer is having some kind of hallucination. If five people see the ghost, they’re either seeing photons in the real world or they’re each having parallel simultaneous hallucination. When Jesus appeared to people after the Resurrection, either they were all under the spell of a false vision, or they were at the very least perceiving photons coming off Jesus so they could see him. If they had had a spectroscope they could have conducted a simple experiment on him.”

    And here we get into the real meat and potatoes of the issue: You say the people observing the ghost, if it’s real, are observing the supernatural through material means which therefore can be verified by science. I partially agree. I agree that if they are truly “seeing” a ghost, with seeing defined as receiving photonic stimuli to the eyes, then I fully agree that they’re seeing scientifically measurable photons. However, I disagree on the area further than that. The photons are not the ghost, just as the light in your house is not the lamp. What they are seeing, and what you would measure, would be the EFFECTS of the ghost. I fully agree that science can measure the effects of the supernatural in the material world, but it cannot measure the subject generating those effects. So, if Thomas had been a scientist and reached out and touched the wounds of Christ, he would have measured their depth and breadth, Jesus’s flesh and all the other effects of the Resurrection manifest in this world. However, he could not measure the God making them exist, or the supernatural force (grace) that brought the event about.
    Of course, your assumption here is also invalid in general. Why could a supernatural force not imprint it’s image upon the mind, really existing, and make all present perceive its visage even though no photons were actually emitted. In other words, who says a God who created light and the human brain would have to emit light to be visible to us? If he’s God, doesn’t he get to do whatever he wants, which means he could make us all “see” him (sorta like the people in the Matrix “see” their world) without ever emitting a detectable signal?

    Which brings us to our next topic: How does the supernatural interact with the world… you write:

    ”In other worlds, either the supernatural is subject to scientific investigation, or it is extremely divorced from our existence and nearly imperceptible.”

    Nope. Have you ever read or heard of the book “Flatland”? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland
    I highly recommend it. I find that mathematical dimensions help a great deal in at least breaking down the barrier to logically accepting the possibility of other, semi-perceivable portions of reality. For instance, in Flatland, the “people” in the 2d world are only capable of perceiving the projections or intersections of the 3d beings in their world, not the 3d beings in their entirety. If we were citizens in 2d land, then a sphere intersecting with our world would only be seen and perceived as a circle at the point of intersection. We would perceive the effects of that intersection, but not the sphere as a whole. Likewise, no matter how we test the sphere’s projected circle in our 2d land, our 2d science could never verify or pierce through to that 3rd dimension. It’s just not observable through that method of verification. Likewise, Science tells us about material things. It only measures tangible stuff in our realm of reality. So things that transcend that realm, while they could really exist, can never be measured within its scope. So while we might measure the material properties of Jesus, science is deaf and dumb to the question of the divine because it transcends the material realm. Make sense?

    Perhaps this is all too abstract. You might say: “Well, that’s all well and good in theory, but give me a real example of a real thing which we can only measure the effects and not the actuality, even though it really exists.” Cool. How about Time? We don’t actually measure time, we measure it’s passage. We measure the effects of its progression. No one perceives an instant of time. We perceive and live as it intersects with our portion of reality one instant after another, like a sphere passing through 2d world. The sphere is only perceptible as a growing/shrinking circle to the 2d folks, just as time is only perceptible as a progression of instants to us…

    Anyway… I hope I haven’t rambled too much. It’s late so let me know if I’ve been unclear.

    I’ll get to Daniel tomorrow.

  147. Beelzebub
    May 5th, 2009 @ 3:45 am

    Random Guy,
    Thanks for the interesting comments.


    Ok, upon rereading, I misinterpreted your post as an argument when it was more of a… statement. Apologies. Let’s take a look at what we have so far:

    Now you have me feeling a little guilty. In confessional (if you will), I guess I’ll have to admit that my ultimate goal is an argument against supernaturalism, but I’m only ambling in that direction conversationally, and perhaps the whole thing will get shot down — and you’ve already made a pretty good effort toward that end, however I have a few objections.


    However, it’s important to note that not all things we perceive are the result of said material stimuli channeled through those senses. For instance, take the feeling of either love or loneliness. One says “I feel loved” or “I feel lonely”, but said feelings, though really perceived and truly existing, are not necessarily the result of any material cause. When I say “I feel loved”, I don’t mean that I’m smelling a bunch of love odours or my hands are being bombarded by love particles. And yet, the feeling is perceived and real. No experiment can verify someone feeling loved or lonely, and yet it does happen.

    There’s some question whether “love” is thought, emotion, feeling, or sense perception. You can certainly “feel” (which probably ultimately means “think”) love without any perception at all. But more importantly, my “argument” doesn’t rely on the non-existence of ESP, simply the theoretical possibility and historical precedent that supernatural has been perceived through ordinary sense. So, I’ll concede the point, but I don’t think it matters. You haven’t upset my apple cart yet.


    Alls I’m sayin’ is that there are additional cases which you haven’t considered.

    Fine. I’ll agree with that.


    “If the supernatural has no real component, how do you explain that we can perceive it?”
    Here you make a dangerous statement/assumption (implicitly) that all things real must be materially perceptible, and thus scientifically verifiable.

    Again, I agree, and mostly because I carelessly abbreviated what I was trying to get at. I was merely saying that there have in fact been supernatural accounts perceived through natural senses, therefore the events themselves must at some point make the jump between the realm of supernatural to natural. Whether the supernatural event itself is shadowed by its natural manifestation is immaterial (so to speak) . The “event” we speak of is the natural consequent of the antecedent supernatural event, and we perceive it through our senses. You can think of the natural world as an interface through which the event (or chain of events, however you care to think about it) must pass in order for us to know about it. However, see below for more on your objection to this part.


    However, I disagree on the area further than that. The photons are not the ghost, just as the light in your house is not the lamp. What they are seeing, and what you would measure, would be the EFFECTS of the ghost.

    Okay, fine. Then we kind of agree here. Except that…


    Of course, your assumption here is also invalid in general. Why could a supernatural force not imprint it’s image upon the mind, really existing, and make all present perceive its visage even though no photons were actually emitted. In other words, who says a God who created light and the human brain would have to emit light to be visible to us? If he’s God, doesn’t he get to do whatever he wants, which means he could make us all “see” him (sorta like the people in the Matrix “see” their world) without ever emitting a detectable signal?

    This is great, and I was hoping someone would bring something like it up. In many ways this is the most coherent way to account for the supernatural, although it can’t cover cases where supernatural events have lasting effects in the real world. But I have to admit it pretty much zaps the “photons hitting the retina” scenario. It’s not a very satisfying conception of the supernatural, though is it?


    ”In other worlds, either the supernatural is subject to scientific investigation, or it is extremely divorced from our existence and nearly imperceptible.”

    Nope. Have you ever read or heard of the book “Flatland”?

    Yes, I think I read it at one point or another. The question is why you think it supports your contention that the supernatural can’t be investigated through natural scientific means? It seems to me a perfect example why supernatural may be eminently investigable by science. Even though the sphere has a 2D circular projection, going from circle to sphere merely requires postulating a third dimension and the necessary generalization of x^2 + y^2 = C to add a z^2 term. If only investigating God were that simple. I guess it’s my turn at snarkiness, but really this is a picture perfect setup. You couldn’t have pitched me a better ball (sphere?) if you’d been trying. I mean, I understand what you’re driving at, but when you think about it, the relationship between Flatland and “Fat” land is no stranger than Hugh Everett’s bizarre “many-worlds” formulation of quantum mechanics, yet nobody has ever suggested he was trying to foist supernaturalism on physics — although I guess someone could make a pretty good go of it.

    Anyway, thanks for your very interesting response.

    And btw, I’m still not done. I haven’t even started the second leg of my dialog.

  148. frustrated (mk)
    May 5th, 2009 @ 5:45 am

    Random Guy,

    Will you marry me?

    Bbub,

    I SO appreciate your intelligent, thoughtful and considerate comments. THIS is why I came here. Hoping to have REAL discussions. Not brawls. I disagree with you, obviously, but am thrilled that the conversation has remained civil and very, very interesting.

    Lily,

    I’m battling a serious sinus infection and my brain has taken a hiatus, so while I’ve been reading everything, I haven’t been able to put two sentences together. I’m loving this conversation. Too bad RA isn’t in on it!

    Daniel M,

    Pay attention. There is so much here and it would do you good to get a little background. Lily is right, you keep assuming that we think like protestants, but we don’t. We don’t believe the world was created in 6 days, we don’t believe it is only 6,000 years old and we don’t dispute evolution. No offense to my protestant brothers and sisters. I’m just saying that accusing us of believing a certain way, when we don’t, isn’t doing your cause any good. You need to read up on the Catholic Faith.

  149. some random guy
    May 5th, 2009 @ 6:40 am

    Beelzebub,

    ”But more importantly, my “argument” doesn’t rely on the non-existence of ESP, simply the theoretical possibility and historical precedent that supernatural has been perceived through ordinary sense. “

    True. I was just setting the stage to show that the spectrum of “real things felt” extends beyond the grasp of the senses. ‘Twas just setting the stage, is all.

    “The “event” we speak of is the natural consequent of the antecedent supernatural event, and we perceive it through our senses. “

    Also true. However, the natural consequent, in some cases, measurable by the scientific method. The supernatural cause, in that it transcends the scope of the scientific method. If a ghost moves a couch across the room, you can measure the couch, its movement and any eerie material glows or goop given off by the ghost, but the ghost itself, by definition of being supernatural, is beyond the grasp of the scientific method. Case in point: Ghost stories always involve the Ghost vanishing through solid walls and violating other sundry laws of physics. If the ghost is capably of defying the laws of physics themselves, then how can it possibly be contained by them enough to be logically measured?

    When I spoke of the “effects” of the ghost on the natural world, I really am hammering at a key point here. By definition, the supernatural, if it exists, has to transcend the natural. If the scientific method is usable only to investigate falsifiable hypotheses in the natural, material order, then how in the world can it possibly measure anything other than the effects or projection (natural consequent) of the supernatural on the natural world. Again, it’s a matter of ontological definition.

    And we haven’t even gotten into the concept of supernatural PERSONS yet. A person doesn’t always give repeatable results, even if they’re measurable.

    “It’s not a very satisfying conception of the supernatural, though is it?”

    I disagree. If God exists, I fully expect Him to be able to transcend His created laws. The only way such a view would be unsatisfactory is if we constrained a satisfactory explanation to “an explanation that can be verified by the scientific method”. I think that’s unreasonable, mostly because of the above.

    “the question is why you think it supports your contention that the supernatural can’t be investigated through natural scientific means?”

    Erm… I wasn’t trying to make the argument that the supernatural is another Mathematically describable dimension, or even a “dimension” in the physics sense. I only brought up Flatland to illustrate the concept of perception of the transcendent. If we lived in a 2d world, then a third dimension would be postulate-able, but not empirically verifiable. Again, I’m not saying that heaven is a dimension that can be described by some mathematical bounds. I’m saying that the NOTION of transcendence and perception of transcendental worlds found in Flatland can be analogously applied to our discussion on the supernatural.

    As heaven isn’t a mathematical space, adding a z term doesn’t get us there, but one can prove or disprove things in ways other than math and science. This falls into the realm of Philosophy and Logic.

    I’d say a better comparison would be between the Supernatural and String Theory. I join a few others in saying that while String Theory is a cool and interesting framework, I just don’t see how it’s falsifiable. Thus, while it makes the mathematical equations turn out all pretty and neat, there’s no experiment (at least IMHO) that one can run to prove it true or false. It falls outside of the domain of science. Yet, it is describable by math. Analogously, The Supernatural, which includes the subset of the natural like 3d includes 2d, can’t be described by math OR science, but it can be truthfully checked by logic and philosophy.

    Anyway, I don’t see how I lobbed you a softball. Perhaps you could clarify?

    For me however, it’s off to work!

  150. some random guy
    May 5th, 2009 @ 7:54 am

    However, the natural consequent, in some cases, measurable by the scientific method. The supernatural cause, in that it transcends the scope of the scientific method.

    go go lack of proofreading skills!

    this should read:

    However, the natural consequent, in some cases, IS measurable by the scientific method. The supernatural cause, however, is not because it transcends the scope of the scientific method.

  151. JoAnna
    May 5th, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

    Careful, MK… I once facetiously asked a guy in a message board that question you asked SRG, and we’ll be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary this September. :)

  152. frustrated (mk)
    May 5th, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    JoAnna,

    Ooops…I’m actually already married and have 6 kids…28 to 9. But I LOVE your story! Very cool!

  153. Beelzebub
    May 6th, 2009 @ 2:44 am

    If a ghost moves a couch across the room, you can measure the couch, its movement and any eerie material glows or goop given off by the ghost, but the ghost itself, by definition of being supernatural, is beyond the grasp of the scientific method.

    If by that you mean the ultimate nature, or super-nature, of the ghost, then I agree that that’s true. However, we could still employ methods of science to describe the properties of the ghost as they manifest in nature, and we could learn quite a bit about it. This isn’t terribly different from studying subatomic particles in a fog chamber; you aren’t observing the particles themselves, but their after-effects as vapor tracks in the fog. The difference, of course, is that if the particles were supernatural they wouldn’t exist in natural reality.


    By definition, the supernatural, if it exists, has to transcend the natural. If the scientific method is usable only to investigate falsifiable hypotheses in the natural, material order, then how in the world can it possibly measure anything other than the effects or projection (natural consequent) of the supernatural on the natural world.

    But we’re still studying the supernatural by means of the scientific method, just as we really are studying the behavior of subatomic particles in the fog chamber.


    “It’s not a very satisfying conception of the supernatural, though is it?”
    I disagree. If God exists, I fully expect Him to be able to transcend His created laws. The only way such a view would be unsatisfactory is if we constrained a satisfactory explanation to “an explanation that can be verified by the scientific method”. I think that’s unreasonable, mostly because of the above.

    Even if perceptions are beamed directly onto the visual cortex of our brains, it wouldn’t necessarily be beyond scientific means of investigation, especially considering the advancing state of brain imaging. The day may come quite soon, if it hasn’t already arrived, when we can monitor brain function down to the neuron or even individual synapse. In this case you would merely be left with an inexplicably firing axon that can’t be accounted for through stimulation of the dendrites. Perhaps you could take it even further microscopically to an unexplained transfer of cellular vesicles, or the a counter-physical variance in permeability of a membrane. Ultimately you might work your way down to the level of the atom, but since we already understand the statistical nature of quantum mechanics, this would mean that we have traced the supernatural down to certain violations of laws of probability. These would actually be subject to statistical analysis, though I think at that stage we would have hit a wall beyond which we could not go further.


    I only brought up Flatland to illustrate the concept of perception of the transcendent. If we lived in a 2d world, then a third dimension would be postulate-able, but not empirically verifiable.

    I think I understood what you meant with the Flatland analogy. I’m just attempting to commandeer it to my own nefarious end. Extra dimensions are a flawed metaphor for the supernatural since even if God is locked away in the 8th dimension, you still have to account for how he interacts with our own. The denizens of Flatland can be completely oblivious to the third dimension as long as the mechanics remain within their two. As long as a sphere moves without any z component they will only perceive a circle undergoing normal motion. (Actually, I guess they’d only see a line, since they’d have no vantage above the plane.) If the sphere cut perpendicularly across their world, what they’d see would be the appearance of a point that grew into a circle and then shrank back down to a point and disappeared. This would probably remain extremely puzzling until some Einstein if Flatland posed 3D geometry.


    If we lived in a 2d world, then a third dimension would be postulate-able, but not empirically verifiable.

    I disagree, for the reason given above. We could observe the circle transitions. With enough observations we could make the needed induction. We may never see the sphere or be able to see it, but we could be reasonably sure of its existence. They only way we could never know of the sphere is if it had no z component to its motion vector. In other words, the only way we would never learn anything about the transcendent reality is if it had no interaction with us at all.


    I’m saying that the NOTION of transcendence and perception of transcendental worlds found in Flatland can be analogously applied to our discussion on the supernatural.

    Flatland isn’t a good analogy for the claims most people make about the supernatural. It implies that our world is somehow a projection of another super dimensional nature. I’m not saying it’s not an attractive model. I like it quite a bit, since it would mean we could learn quite a bit about the supernatural, it’s just not even close to what most people mean when they speak of the supernatural. What is usually meant is a kind of random process where anything goes and all bets are off. In other words, not only does the supernatural transcend our world, it is utterly incomprehensible and you might as well not try.

    So, anyway, I think it’s time for me to move on to Phase 2. I’ll start with a simple question. After everything that’s been said so far, what reasons can be given for the fact that science has not already verified the existence of super-nature? Or, do you think it already has. For instance, are the random processes at the core of physics, quantum mechanics, supernatural?

  154. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 6:12 am

    Bbub,

    I disagree, for the reason given above. We could observe the circle transitions. With enough observations we could make the needed induction. We may never see the sphere or be able to see it, but we could be reasonably sure of its existence. They only way we could never know of the sphere is if it had no z component to its motion vector. In other words, the only way we would never learn anything about the transcendent reality is if it had no interaction with us at all.

    By Jove, now you’ve got it!

    We can’t know God by measuring Him and we might not know Him at all if He didn’t interact with us, but He does, and we CAN see those interactions, and measure them to a degree.

    Billions of people have a relationship with Him. Billions of people can testify to situations where He has “influenced” their lives. As in Flatland, not everyone is able to comprehend the sphere, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I cannot make you “see” my God’s influence. I can tell you what he has done, but I cannot “Make” YOU see it. I love my husband. I can show you ways in which I express that love. But I cannot show you that “love”. You can either believe that I love him or not. But that doesn’t change the fact that I DO love him. How can you scientifically measure that love?

    Your inability to love my husband, does not negate the reality that I love my husband.

    Your inability to know my God, does not negate the reality of my God.

    I have pointed to miracles and apparitions before. These are things that cannot be explained in any other way, and yet they exist. They are physical manifestations of the supernatural, so while you can’t measure God, you CAN measure these unexplainable events.

    I myself had huge changes take place in my life after I committed myself to doing His bidding. HUGE changes. Changes that I can’t explain. While I cannot show you the God that caused these changes, I CAN show you these changes. Supernatural? Maybe not, but certainly extraordinary.

    Could the changes be attributed to changes in my brain? Maybe. But how do you prove which came first? The changes in my life, or the changes in my brain caused by believing I could change?

    How do you explain millions of people having similar changes?

    Life itself, and where it came from, has NEVER been explained. You can measure it, and guess at the when, define the whats, and meet the who’s, but you cannot tell me how life began. You cannot create life out of nothing. Life can only come from life, so where did the first “life” come from? To me, life is the ultimate miracle.

    So while you can measure life as we see it, the source of that life remains “supernatural”. You can measure life forms, but you cannot measure “life” any more than you can measure love. Our bodies are the natural, visible expression of something supernatural and invisible.

    For instance, are the random processes at the core of physics, quantum mechanics, supernatural?

    First we need to define supernatural. I wouldn’t want a God that be totally comprehended by man. God, if He exists, should by definition be incomprehensible to us. Otherwise He’d just be another really smart human.

    We are an arrogant people. We believe that if WE can’t understand something, then it must not exist. We can only know the supernatural IS supernatural by first knowing the natural. Then if something breaks the laws of the “natural”, we can say that it is outside of the natural, thus “super”natural. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be explained or understood, just that it is beyond OUR comprehension. You seem to be saying that if it cannot be measure or understood then it cannot exist, when by it’s very definition, supernatural means it cannot be measured or understood. If it could, it would cease to be supernatural and become natural.

    Natural simply means that which occurs with regularity. If the supernatural occurred with regularity, it would cease to be supernatural…

  155. Beelzebub
    May 6th, 2009 @ 6:12 am

    Oh, and thanks Mk. Your example has more than a little to do with how I try to conduct myself online these days, tho it’s sometimes hard to do. Hope you’re feeling better.

  156. Beelzebub
    May 6th, 2009 @ 6:17 am

    Hey, that’s a remarkable bit of synchronicity. Your comment wasn’t there when I commented. Alas, it’s turn-in time…and so tomorrow.

  157. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 6:28 am

    May I just add, that it is possible that when you get right down to it, science is actually the method by which we are trying to understand God. First by understanding the natural world which He created, and then trying to understand the “un”natural world. Isn’t it possible that science is really the physical exploration of faith?

    Wouldn’t it be ironic to realize that science is just a way to explain God? That you’ve got it backwards? That we aren’t using faith to dispute science, but we are actually using science to discover faith?

    I mean if there IS a God, and He DID create everything, then science is actually the method we use to know Him?

  158. some random guy
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:13 am

    Ok, I think we’re getting somewhere:

    “But we’re still studying the supernatural by means of the scientific method, just as we really are studying the behavior of subatomic particles in the fog chamber.”

    Again, I think it’s important to make the distinction. We’re not studying supernature by science. We’re studying however a supernatural entity manifests itself in nature. If a ghost emits light, then yes, we can study the light emitted by a ghost and say “ghosts emit light as such”. But the light itself isn’t supernatural. There’s no way to prove that there’s anything beyond nature at work. We could only associate those properties with the natural phenomenon of a ghost. Postulating or ascribing qualities outside of nature falls beyond the realm of science.

    “Ultimately you might work your way down to the level of the atom, but since we already understand the statistical nature of quantum mechanics, this would mean that we have traced the supernatural down to certain violations of laws of probability. These would actually be subject to statistical analysis, though I think at that stage we would have hit a wall beyond which we could not go further. “

    ‘Kay. Show me how the firing of neuron “x” can be directly tied to the thought or perception “I want a cheese sandwich. Sure we could observe the brain and say “It’s reacting as if receiving a visual stimulus, but there is no visual stimulus present.” That’s a far cry from telling what that stimulus is, or what’s causing it. That’s also a far cry from “observing the supernatural” with science. You’re looking at a brain, a natural thing, and saying: I don’t know why it’s doing this. Just like with a ghost suspending something in mid-air. You can observe the object and its defiance of gravity, but not what’s making it do so. I still think you’re extending science beyond its bounds.

    “I think I understood what you meant with the Flatland analogy. I’m just attempting to commandeer it to my own nefarious end.”

    If the point you’re trying to make is true, then why is it nefarious? :)

    “Extra dimensions are a flawed metaphor for the supernatural since even if God is locked away in the 8th dimension, you still have to account for how he interacts with our own.”

    I’m not saying supernature is a dimension as x,y,z are dimensions. I’m saying that the relationships between supernature and nature can be plausibly explained by analogy, not metaphor, to the relationships found in mathematical dimensions. By analogy, if God is a sphere and we are in 2d land, God is already by definition interacting with the second dimension as part of his existence. He may not be intersecting the plane described by x=0 y=0 at a given moment, but that doesn’t mean that he has no interaction with x and y. It also does not forbid him from interacting with that particular plane, if we ascribe to him a property of motion. Now… that analogy IS somewhat flawed because God isn’t merely a sphere, he’s not even an infinitely dimensional object capable of interacting with all hyper-planes. He’d be a cross between that, and the mathematician who draws the shapes in those dimensions and a million other qualities. Tell me, if a moving hyper-sphere can intersect with the 3d world and have effects here, how come God, who is NOT locked in any dimension and is much greater than a sphere, cannot interact with “dimensions” lesser than himself?

    “I disagree, for the reason given above. We could observe the circle transitions. With enough observations we could make the needed induction. We may never see the sphere or be able to see it, but we could be reasonably sure of its existence.”

    ARGH!!!! No! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Science cannot EVER give the answer “God did it!” by induction. Science only works with the observable evidence. All they could conclude is that there is a circle which grows and shrinks and sometimes even disappears within their world. That’s ALL their science could tell them. Their philosophy could lead them to postulate a 3d object generating the change, and the mathematics could reach the possibility of a 3rd dimension, but science would and should be silent on the subject. There is no evidence to verify. All that they can observe is the transient circle. That’s it. So all the paper written on the subject could say would be that a circle is growing and shrinking. It could postulate a 3rd dimension, but not expound it as a theory any more verifiable than string theory.

    When science has no affirmative data, it doesn’t make intuitive leaps. It only makes conclusions from falsifiable hypotheses. Within a 2d existence, a 3rd dimensional existence is not falsifiable.

    “In other words, the only way we would never learn anything about the transcendent reality is if it had no interaction with us at all. “

    Careful, that’s dangerously close to theism! Since God is so transcendent of our understanding, the only way we can know anything about him is if he reveals himself to us. :) If he chooses to interact within the natural subset of supernature, then we can see those NATURAL interactions. And we can observe those natural interactions, but our science can’t verify that they definitely have a supernatural cause! (Where’s your scepticism????)

    “It implies that our world is somehow a projection of another super dimensional nature. I’m not saying it’s not an attractive model. I like it quite a bit, since it would mean we could learn quite a bit about the supernatural, it’s just not even close to what most people mean when they speak of the supernatural. What is usually meant is a kind of random process where anything goes and all bets are off. In other words, not only does the supernatural transcend our world, it is utterly incomprehensible and you might as well not try.”

    No, because it’s an analogy, the analogous portion is only confined to the fundamentals of the relationship of the interaction between supernature and nature. I specifically say that the supernatural is not a mathematical or physical “dimension”. The whole reason I brought it up was to show that these relational properties that we’re giving to supernature and the included subset “nature” are not completely implausible, because similar analogs exist in math and scientific speculation. It’s a tool for understanding, not a definition.

    Also, when Catholics speak of the supernatural, we actually see it as quite ordered. God’s at the top, and what he says goes. That’s the whole Logos and Truth schtick. Nothing is random, and it’s extremely comprehensible to the extent that it’s been revealed (an interaction analogous to a dimensional intersection in math).

    “After everything that’s been said so far, what reasons can be given for the fact that science has not already verified the existence of super-nature?”

    Cause it can’t. Science can’t verify things beyond its scope. For instance, science can’t verify whether the earth was created with apparent age, like the “creationists” think. It’s not falsifiable. So it makes no comment. It only comments on the data.

    “For instance, are the random processes at the core of physics, quantum mechanics, supernatural?”

    No, but I do think if we take the entire observable universe as a huge quantum mechanical process, comprising hundreds of smaller quantum interactions, then I think by definition it implies an external observer! Someone’s gotta actualize those probability functions and cause them to decay to either 1 or 0. Food for thought. :)

  159. some random guy
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:16 am

    Mk – Thanks for the offer! :) I’m honored but I did remember that you said you were married with kids earlier.

    JoAnna – That definitely is an awesome story! Not to sidetrack the thread or pry, but do you mind sharing a bit more, just because it sounds so interesting?

  160. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:24 am

    ARGH!!!! No! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Science cannot EVER give the answer “God did it!” by induction. Science only works with the observable evidence. All they could conclude is that there is a circle which grows and shrinks and sometimes even disappears within their world. That’s ALL their science could tell them. Their philosophy could lead them to postulate a 3d object generating the change, and the mathematics could reach the possibility of a 3rd dimension, but science would and should be silent on the subject.

    The Crowd Roars!

  161. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:33 am

    Bbub,

    Oh, and thanks Mk. Your example has more than a little to do with how I try to conduct myself online these days, tho it’s sometimes hard to do. Hope you’re feeling better.

    That is one of the nicest compliments I have ever had. But I gotta tell, I am motivated by selfishness. Reading yours and Randoms conversation has become one of the highlights of my day. It’s like reading a really good book, serial style. I have to wait patiently for the next installment. This is exactly why I find leaving the snarkiness at the door is so beneficial…it leads to discussions like this.

    Hey, that’s a remarkable bit of synchronicity. Your comment wasn’t there when I commented. Alas, it’s turn-in time…and so tomorrow.

    Mwahahahahahaha…there are no coincidences…. ;)

  162. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:35 am

    Love your comment mk– and I think you are actually exactly on target!

    Science does not promise the certainties that so many materialists want it to, nor does it explain very much, given a universe to try and understand. Let’s talk about a mystery nearly as great as walking on water-

    Science accepts that the universe began as a singularity, a point of zero volume and infinite density. But how can such a thing actually exist? How can something have mass but no volume? We don’t even really understand what matter is, since on its most fundamental level, you need things like quantum theory to try to explain it. The entire universe is really very mysterious and, yet, so much of it is comprehensible to us and can be explained in the language of mathematics.

    What seems very strange, or, at least, very naïve to me is the belief that this is enough. Hawking is instructive here– he wrote, “Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.”

    We see all too often a naïve belief in scientists (or scientist wannabes) that if they can describe something with an equation, they’ve explained it. Hawking at least realizes this is neither accurate nor the right way to approach the question. Of course, materialists think you can explain it all away and that there is no need for God but they haven’t yet and they never will (imho).

    It seems to me that instead of starting with particular phenomena (ghosts! For example) we really need to look at the big picture—this universe in which we find ourselves and ask what we can say about it. This is really where materialism shows how limited it is. It cannot explain why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe behaves as though governed by laws, why it is describable in the language of mathematics, and why it’s accessible to human reason. Science developed out of the belief that the universe is comprehensible because it is the product of a vastly superior intelligence, and that our intelligence was designed to comprehend it. Science cannot explain any of this. It simply takes it for granted. But it really shouldn’t!

  163. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 7:50 am

    How infuriating!!! :( While I was composing my message, in between feeding cats, making coffee, etc. much better, more interesting comments were being posted. Honestly, I should give it up and watch.

    JoAnna, I second SR Guy. I would love to hear your story!

  164. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:01 am

    frustrated, lily et al – I know catholics don’t think the world was made in 6 days, nor that it’s 6000 years old. if I’ve (apparently repeatedly) given that impression, then I appologize. I did not mean to. It comes as a side-effect of using comments as a forum, a clumsy method of interaction.

    when im talking about creationists, I mean creationists, meaning people who believe in biblical literalism and creationism. If they happen to be catholics as well, that is neither here nor there.

    To me, not all christians are catholics, although all catholics ARE christians, but please do not assume I must mean “catholic” if i say “christian”. I wasn’t aware that this blog was solely for the benefit of catholic theists…

    quickly checking what I wrote, I don’t see where I’ve said catholics believe in biblical literalism. If you can show me where I have, I can attempt to clarify what I meant. If you can’t, then please stop saying I have. If you have a guilty conscience over your personal beliefs, stop projecting.

  165. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:10 am

    lily, I think saying “science does not explain very much” is…well, stupid.

    I’ll give you one point, and that is that science does not deal in certainties – we cannot know for sure that gravity will accelerate a body towards another identically every moment, but pretending that people fly by will alone won’t get you very far.

    All we can do is say “this theory explains these facts and can accurately predict other facts”. If that’s not good enough for you, then absolutely nothing any scientist ever says about anything from electricity, to magnetism, to gravity, to thermodynamics, to the nitrogen cycle and so much much more will ever be convincing to you.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m relatively certain my lightbulb in my room will turn on when I press the switch.

    many scientists have run up against this “ultimate” question of why – even einstein (I think it was) said “the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible”.

    However, just because we don’t know the answer doesn’t mean you get to say “god did it”.

  166. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:23 am

    Daniel M,

    You haven’t specifically said it, but you argue against it. The problem there, is that we agree, so using the argument against creationism is futile. The discussion began by saying that science and religion are incompatible.

    We claim they aren’t. You and others claim they are.

    But using protestant arguments to prove we are wrong won’t work, because that’s not what we believe.

    You either have to argue against the idea than any God can exist, or argue specifically against the God that Catholics believe in.

    While ALL denominations are welcome to join in, it appears for whatever reason, only Catholics have chosen to stick with this site. And this discussion.

    See what I’m saying?

  167. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    actually, saying “science doesn’t explain very much” is very, very insulting to science and scientists.

    Your very life is due to scientific advances, for the food you eat to the injections you got as a child, to the power that lights, heats and cools your home, for the fuel that runs your car, the machines inside your house (and the machines that made them, and your house itself), for the knowledge of germs and virii that keeps you well, the materials that make up the clothes on your back, for the very computer you’re using to tell me how unimpressed you are.

    thanks to science, we can talk to anyone, anywhere, instantly. we can eat what we want, when we want. we can travel anywhere in luxury, we can live longer and healthier lives than ever, we can each know everything known to mankind.

    We’ve even walked on the surface of the moon and survived in space and at the bottom of the ocean and one day we will live in the stars.

    If you’re not impressed with science, go live without it, naked in a cave.

  168. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:31 am

    Daniel,

    However, just because we don’t know the answer doesn’t mean you get to say “god did it”.

    Well, first of all, yes she does. She can believe any explanation that she wants. This is America after all.

    BUT, she didn’t say “therefore” God did it. She said she believes God did it. She is not making a factual statement, but a faith statement.

    I believe Random addressed this when he stated that science can tell us many things about the material world, but that we need a different venue when discussing the immaterial.

    At that point, philosophy and logic take over. They don’t contradict each other, and can often complement each other.

    All Lily is saying is that science is WONDERFUL, as far as it goes. It can answer, where, when, how, what…but it cannot answer the ultimate question, how did it come to be. That question is simply not within Sciences realm.

    So we have different realms to address this question. Religion, philosophy and logic.

    And they can ALL be compatible with each other. Compatible doesn’t mean identical.

    They are all answering different questions. Believing in a supernatural being or the supernatural period, does not mean you stop believing in science, any more than believing in science means you must forgo the supernatural.

    How does the world work? Answered by science.

    Why does the world exist? Can’t be answered by science.

    Any more than color can be explained in musical terms.
    Yet color and music are compatible. Proof of one is not disproof of the other.

  169. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:37 am

    frustrated, so “religion” always means catholicism?

    so you’re basically saying you’re an atheist when it comes to all other forms of god than the catholic christian god?

    And that all arguments about other forms of silly superstition are obviously wrong because hey, they’re not about your god?

    that’s very frustrating a mindset to deal with and explains why you’ve been telling me I’m so wrong when I don’t think I am.

    Since I’m not a catholic, that’s hardly a fair playing field and I somehow thought better of you than that.

    that’s pretty petty, since it should have been obvious to anyone that i wasn’t meaning catholicism when I spoke about things which aren’t specifically catholic and/or didn’t mention it by name – such as the boneheaded evangelical positions of the bible belt in the US (biblical inerrancy, literacy and so on).

    Well, short of throwing up my hands in disgust and walking away, what would YOU say is a prime example of faith reinforcing science?

  170. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    Mk did a pretty darned good job of answering this However, just because we don’t know the answer doesn’t mean you get to say “god did it”. already but I am going to weigh in here to say:

    Oh, yeah? Who sez? I get so tired of hearing atheists trot out the “god of the gaps” argument. In fact, saying that God did it is a perfectly reasonable answer. It does not violate logic and is a perfectly adequate answer when talking about ultimate causes. Until you can explain the universe comprehensively (and Hawking, at least, has come to believe that there will never be a comprehensive “theory of everything”), I would leave that “argument” alone. It goes nowhere.

    If you’re not impressed with science, go live without it, naked in a cave.

    Ye gads, man! Anyone who can derive that from anything I said, is too prejudiced to argue with. I cannot deal with your distaste (and that of other atheists) for God. That is something you will have to resolve for yourselves.

  171. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    She can believe any explanation that she wants. This is America after all.

    BUT, she didn’t say “therefore” God did it. She said she believes God did it. She is not making a factual statement, but a faith statement.

    actually, frustrated, I find myself agreeing with you there!

    since it’s not factual and it’s a faith statement, it has no bearing on any scientific theory, and certainly won’t reinforce one.

    regarding immaterial versus material, we’re back to the measuring argument again – if you can’t measure it, science has nothing to say about it. I don’t understand what you mean by “compatible” if you’re saying that the one cannot be used in exploring the other. that sounds like “incompatible” to me.

    And…science can say how there is a world here, and why. It can even speculate as to where the universe came from and how. There are theories as to why the universe is the way it is – the simplest is that there are an infinite number of universes, and therefore it is inevitable that one of them is like this one, and we’re in it. If you want to say “but it’s so amazingly perfect for life!” then you’re pulling the creationist argument, which isn’t really a very good one, since it’s “god did it” and does NOT have any scientific value as a theory.

    If you’re complaining that we don’t know for sure, then please look in the mirror when saying that…

  172. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:51 am

    First off Daniel,

    I never said that Only Catholics Need apply. I simply said that you are discussing religion with a bunch of people that are Catholic. If you are going to argue against a specific belief, then it should be the belief that we maintain.

    OR

    You could argue against a general Supernatural Being, in which case you shouldn’t bring up things like creationism because that narrows your “god” to the Christian one.

    I wasn’t chastising you so much as asking you to clarify which argument we are having? I can go either way.

    Secondly, I didn’t claim that Faith reinforces Science any more than I claim that music reinforces color theory. I said, that they do not disqualify each other.

    They can complement each other without proving or disproving each other. They can lie next to each other without becoming each other.

    Why are you so angry all of the time?

  173. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 9:56 am

    lily, you said “science cannot explain very much” – the fact that the world as we know it is shaped by the results of several hundred years of the scientific method and the progression of human knowledge puts paid to that statement. If you meant something else by it, choose your words more carefully.

    If you say “god did it” and think it a logical explanation, that’s fine, it’s just not scientific and is, in fact, the creationist argument.

    Which is it to be, deism or fideism?

  174. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:03 am

    Daniel,

    . There are theories as to why the universe is the way it is – the simplest is that there are an infinite number of universes, and therefore it is inevitable that one of them is like this one, and we’re in it.

    Well, there you go. You have explained yet another how. How this particular universe might have come to be. Now the question is how did the universe that we exist in come to be. Eventually you get to the question that science cannot answer. What was the very first thing that ever existed and how did IT come to be.

    Also, I don’t think it is the job of religion to reinforce science. I think to be “compatible” it is enough that they don’t contradict each other.

    As I said, they can exist side by side without refuting one another.

    If religion were to claim something that science can unequivocally prove isn’t so, then you would have incompatibility. But again, it is not religions to job to measure, and define.

    When science proved that the world is round, religion had no choice but to accede. It’s not religions job to decide if the world goes around the sun or the sun goes around the world. We leave science to science, and science can leave religious questions to philosophers.

    Yes, there are those who STILL believe that the bible is literal, and yes, I do believe they are wrong. This is why I emphasize the Catholic view. You think the protestant view is wrong. So do I. Of course I also believe that the Hindu view is wrong, and the Muslim view is wrong. Duh. That’s what faith is. Believing that you have the truth. What would be the point of being Catholic if I thought all religions were equally true?

    Since I’m not a catholic, that’s hardly a fair playing field and I somehow thought better of you than that.

    I didn’t say that YOU needed to be Catholic, I just said that as a Catholic, I’m certainly not going to defend non-catholic beliefs. If you give me an example of something a pagan believes as an argument against God, I’m not going to defend that either. All I asked is that WHEN you get religion specific, you keep in mind that you are arguing with Catholics, who have very specific religious beliefs…

  175. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:07 am

    Daniel,

    Ahhhh, I see where the problem is. To me creationism is a protestant belief. My understanding of creationism is the literal interpretation of the bible. I think Catholics subscribe more to the “Intelligent Design” theory.

    This is why every time you accuse us of being creationists we balk, as our understanding of creationists and yours seem to be different.

  176. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    OK. I guess I will tackle this, even knowing as I do, that mk will do it better and probably while I am composing this! :(

    so you’re basically saying you’re an atheist when it comes to all other forms of god than the catholic christian god?

    There is only one God. Believers of whatever hue or stripe worship the same and the only God. The difference is that some religions know more/understand better than others. Obviously we believe that Christianity gets it entirely right, as we have argued for ever and ever.

    And that all arguments about other forms of silly superstition are obviously wrong because hey, they’re not about your god? that’s very frustrating a mindset to deal with and explains why you’ve been telling me I’m so wrong when I don’t think I am.

    If you insist on arguing about the infinite variety of superstitions and false understandings of less educated peoples, we will never get anywhere. I, for one, am not interested in defending ignorant or silly beliefs. If you are not willing to argue with thoughtful theists, say so and move on. But in order to argue with us, you need to know what thoughtful and/or educated Christians believe. Not what some dirt poor, uneducated family of snake handlers in Appalachia believes or some equally ignorant animist in the Sudan or Bedouin in Egypt (do they still exist?) believes.

    Since I’m not a catholic, that’s hardly a fair playing field and I somehow thought better of you than that.

    I am skeptical that you thought about it at all. Like I said, we are talking about what thoughtful Christians believe. That includes Protestants, Evangelical and Mainline. It is all Christianity and Protestant/Catholic plays no role at the level we are talking.

    In other words, we have been talking past each other because you have a mental picture of what Christians believe that is simply incompatible with reality. It is incredibly simplistic and appears to have been derived from Hollywood and the admittedly nauseating example of so many televangelists. But reality is so much larger and much more complex! That is where listening to those of us who say that you haven’t quite got what we believe right is valuable.

    You can win all your battles with straw men. But how will you fare if you fight with a trained boxer? Are you up to the challenge?

  177. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    why am I angry? I’m annoyed that any argument not about catholicism, on a site which is not called “the raving catholicist”, is used as a strawman argument calling me ignorant about catholicism. surely you can see that’d piss anyone off? don’t do it. srsly.

    and if you said “science talks about the world of the five senses, and religion talks about the rest” I would agree with you, in principle.

    I’m agnostic, for that reason in particular – the history of the bible is inaccurate at best and fiction at worst. The koran is basically a self-help book which somebody has decided is yet another source of ultimate and inerrant wisdom. Thor, Wotan, Set, Ra…they are each either equally correct or equally made up – if you will demand that your god is the correct god, there’s a hell of a lot of other people who will demand the same thing, and all of them have a lot of proving to do. Some of them would cut off your head for saying it, too. Here, I merely get shouted at.

    The Pope is real, the church is real, nobody is denying that, but the catholic god? This is sincerely something which interests me – why are you so sure that your god in particular is real, and the one true god? This is the same question I would ask any theist.

    If you could convince me you were right, I’d have no problem accepting it. I might still disagree with your god on many of his actions (I think killing 32 million people in a flood or commanding genocide are pretty horrific acts) and I would probably refuse to worship such a god, but if I could be shown that I was wrong, I’d have to accept it.

  178. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:12 am

    And again Daniel,

    Reason and Science are not the same thing. To admit that science cannot prove God, is not the same as saying reason cannot be used to prove God.

    You can’t use science and reason interchangeably any more than you can use faith and science interchangeably. It is enough that they do not contradict each other.

  179. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:12 am

    @175:

    Ok, that’s fair – if you think I have said something which no sane catholic would believe in, just say “that’s not a catholic belief”.

    chances are, I didn’t mean that it should be taken as one…a lot of my arguments are with theism in general, all I have as examples are what I know.

  180. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:16 am

    Daniel,

    Obviously I cannot prove that my God is the one true God, as we have already shown, empirical proof is not the business of religion.

    I can, however, know that all religions cannot be right. Why? Because they contradict each other. SO, if we agree that there is a God for the sake of argument, then we would need to look at all the claims of Gods, and ferret out which one seems the most reasonable.

    For one thing, as far as I know, our religion is the only one (and here I WILL include all Christians) that claims their God has revealed Himself to us. In the flesh. That, at least is a starting point.

  181. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:17 am

    Daniel,

    178…peace then? I’m sorry for the confusion. I think we’re on the same page now… :)

  182. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:19 am

    @178: what about where faith says “if I pray for this person, god will help and they will get better” ?

    that’s…measurable. if people got better always after prayers, it would be obvious. If they don’t always seem to fair any better, or get better equally well without, how can you tell it’s working?

    If you don’t call that faith and reason contradicting each other, what do you call it?

    does faith only cure things like demon posession?

  183. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    @181: yay, peace! (or at least a better understanding).

    Despite my lack of knowledge in many fields, I do wish to learn. I’m sometimes belligerent and loud and am sometimes very wrong, but I do try not to deliberately lie.

  184. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:24 am

    …as for gods being revealed in the flesh, you could try here:

    http://englishatheist.org/indexd.shtml

    it’s actually a rather common story.

  185. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:26 am

    Daniel,

    That’s a fair question. But this is where understanding our particular beliefs comes into play.

    For us, God is a parent and a spouse. We can ask, but the ultimate answer is up to Him. We are encouraged to communicate with Him, but the bottom line is that He IS God and we trust that He knows what He is doing.

    Sometimes a person can be ill and we will pray for Him. The answer could be, “You’re faith has healed them”, or it could be “I need more, I require some form of sacrifice” or it could be “I am so sorry, but it is simply this persons time to come home”.

    There are two parts to a person dying. There is the completely human reaction, which is loss and sadness, and there is the higher reaction which is joy. For if a person dies, and goes to heaven, they have accomplished what they set out to do by being born.

    It’s a bittersweet scenario. We will all die. That is simply a fact. No matter when we go, someone will miss us, someone will grieve us. It won’t be any easier to let someone go on Tuesday than it would have been on Saturday. Eventually, they WILL go. If we haven’t gone first, we will have to say good bye.

    Eventually, the answer to our prayer will be “no”.

  186. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    This is what we were trying to explain about the difference between magic and faith. With magic we would say a “prayer” and it would be our “prayer” that healed the person.

    With faith, it is a request, and God either grants that request or doesn’t. We leave it up to Him. WE are not doing the healing….He is. Or isn’t.

  187. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:29 am

    it’s actually a rather common story

    It is actually not a particularly relevant story.

    Do you really not see the difference between these accounts and the Gospels? Have you ever actually read a Gospel from beginning to end as though it were a book like any other that you might pick up? If not, I would suggest that you try to find the time to do so because you might be surprised at what you find there.

  188. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Daniel,

    Despite my lack of knowledge in many fields, I do wish to learn. I’m sometimes belligerent and loud and am sometimes very wrong, but I do try not to deliberately lie.

    Oh gosh, I never thought you were lying. Just misinformed and making assumptions about what we believe based on that misinformation.

    I’m sorry we’ve gotten off to a shaky start. The fact that you’re still here is proof (or at least can be reasoned ;) ) that you are indeed willing to learn. Kudos to you for that.

    I think we can go on now and see where it leads.

  189. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:40 am

    thank you frustrated (and what does the mk mean?) :)

    and magic vs prayer I understand – magic is the commandment of power, perhaps of gods, and therefore wrong (it got Moses into trouble, right, when he struck the rock to create a spring?).

    Prayer is asking god to do magic for you.

    to somebody who believes in neither, you must admit they wouldn’t see much functional difference.

    that’s all I meant.

    the why of pain and suffering, and the apparent capriciousness of gods will, is a theological question of great import.

    To non-believers, it can be proof of the non-existence of god, when good people get hurt and bad people walk away smiling. surely, they say, a good god wouldn’t let this happen?

  190. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:53 am

    Daniel,

    Didn’t desert you there. I was trying to find something on mythology vs Christianity. I remember hearing an hour show on this very thing on Relevant Radio but I was in my car and cannot for the life of me remember who the guest was…I’ll keep looking. Tolkien however is a good source about religion and mythology.

    Yes, of course I can see that they would appear similar to you. Magic/Supernatural intervention. But they really aren’t. Magic is trickery. Illusion. God is the real deal. While magic might give you the illusion that you are suspending natural law, it is only that. An illusion. Because man does not have that power. If he did, we’d know it. So the power must be coming from somewhere else.

    As to the question of suffering, the answer is complicated.

    To us, suffering is a way to alleviate sin. Sin is it’s cause, not God. The more sin, the more suffering. To me suffering in not proof that God exists, but “proof” that sin does.

    I can expound but it’s hard to know where to begin.

    Let me try this. You say that suffering is proof that God doesn’t exist (well, you say that some say). So you tell me. Whether God exists or not, suffering DOES exist. What is your explanation for why we suffer?

  191. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 10:58 am

    Daniel,

    When I first started commenting here I kept getting filtered as spam. I was commenting under the moniker MK. Which stands for Mary Kay, my name. I had to change my moniker so that my comments would go through, thus the frustrated (at putting much time and effort into my comments only to have them swallowed up) and adding the MK so that people would still know it was me.

  192. JoAnna
    May 6th, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    Well, to make a long story short –

    The Mr. and I met online in 2000 via a Yahoo! e-mail listgroup called “Harry Potter for Grown-Ups.” The conversation had segued into a discussion about body image, teenage self-esteem, etc. I made a comment about how most teenagers had magazine models as their standards, and given it was impossible to live up to those standards, that’s why self-esteem suffered. The Mr. posted a msg in reply saying that he thought most magazine models looked anorexic and digustingly thin, and he much preferred women with a more natural shape. My reply was, “Will you marry me?” That started a bit of online flirtation, which led to exchanging e-mail addresses, which eventually led to meeting, then dating, etc. At the time, I was in college in WY and he was in Mpls, MN; but it turns out we’d grown up 40 miles apart from one another in North Dakota. Small world and all that. We were married on 9/1/01.

  193. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 11:43 am

    Great story, JoAnna. But boy, I would never encourage anyone to meet an Internet stranger! It is amazing that you beat the odds. Still, someone who grew up in North Dakota is pretty certain to be normal, I suppose …

  194. JoAnna
    May 6th, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

    As long as you follow basic safety precautions, it’s fine… our first meeting was in a well-lit, crowded public place, for example. I’ve met several Internet friends in person and have never had problems.

  195. some random guy
    May 6th, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

    “so you’re basically saying you’re an atheist when it comes to all other forms of god than the catholic christian god? so you’re basically saying you’re an atheist when it comes to all other forms of god than the catholic christian god?”

    Yes. I don’t believe in any Gods other than the one I believe in. Or, I only believe in the God I believe in.

    “Yes, there are those who STILL believe that the bible is literal, and yes, I do believe they are wrong.”

    The Bible does have parts that are literal. Jesus eating fish is literal. All passages have a literal meaning, too. The literal meaning is different from the literalistic meaning. For instance, when the Hebrews describe the Promised Land as a “Land of Milk and Honey”, the passage doesn’t literally mean it’s made of milk and honey. That’s the literalistic interpretation. But it does have a literal meaning: The promised land is pretty sweet. So I’d say the whole Bible has a literal meaning, but it differs from a literalistic meaning. Plus, Genesis is not a Science Text. Thus, attempts to read it as a Science text will fail. It’s a poetic account of Creation.

    “the history of the bible is inaccurate at best and fiction at worst.”

    Care to share a few of these inaccuracies?

    “and if you said “science talks about the world of the five senses, and religion talks about the rest” I would agree with you, in principle.”

    Everyone repeat after me: Science requires and deals with two things: Observable data and Falsifiable Hypotheses. You have to have both for science to be able to comment. If it ain’t observable by definition, then it ain’t in the scope of science. Can you build a detector of love? Of thinking “I like cake”? No? Then it ain’t in the realm of science. Likewise, if you can’t come up with an experiment to test if it’s true or not, then it can’t be covered by science.

    So when we see:

    “that’s…measurable. if people got better always after prayers, it would be obvious. If they don’t always seem to fair any better, or get better equally well without, how can you tell it’s working?

    No, because God is a person, not a vending machine. Although you CAN observe the effects of miracles, you can’t devise and implement an experiment to see if God exists based on them. There’s no law that states “God always answers prayers the way we want him to.” Just like there’s no law that says “If you make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I’ll always eat it.” I might not. I don’t have to, so making 100 PB&J Sandwiches over 100 days isn’t a good experiment. Just because I choose not to eat a sandwich doesn’t disprove my existence. Similarly, just because God doesn’t do exactly what we’d like doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. We can’t say “I’ll pray, and if things don’t go the way I like, God doesn’t exist.”… not a vending machine….

  196. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

    JoAnna,

    I too have met in person, many people that I have encountered on the internet. All of those have worked out fine. Doesn’t mean there isn’t danger involved, but you’re right, you can take reasonable precautions Like NEVER going alone, or meeting in a deserted place.

    I prefer to have faces and bodies attached to my friends.

    I’ve met people from Florida, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri, quite a few from Illinois, have plans to meet someone from New Hampshire and have at least a dozen more from Alabama, New York, California…that I would meet in a heartbeat if it could be arranged. I’ve talked to tons by phone and have grown a “family” this way.

    Lily,

    I’d meet you in a New York second!

  197. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    well, there are many passages in the bible which specifically say “ask and ye shall receive” (more or less), with the reasons being why god might not answer your prayers as basically boiling down to “you’re not doing what god told you to do”. It seems consistently difficult to be the sort of person that god will keep his promise to.

    inaccuracies/inconsistencies in the bible? that’s a loooonnngg article.

    you could start at genesis, with both versions of the creation story. you could continue with both versions of the ten commandments. you may wonder about the resurrection story itself as related by at least four different disciples, with differing amounts of angels and so on. You could ask about unfulfilled prophecies (tyre, egypt, damascus, babylon…) and other promises not kept…you really want me to list them all?

  198. Daniel M
    May 6th, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

    …and yeah, dealing with IDiots (capitalization intentional) is painful at best, teeth-grindingly so.

  199. frustrated (mk)
    May 6th, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

    Daniel,

    again, you’re going to have to define what you mean by ID. For me, in it’s simplistic form it just means that the everything was created by a something or a someone. That there was a first cause…what does it mean to you?

  200. Lily
    May 6th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Daniel: in a funny way you are as much a fundamentalist as the believers you look down on. This is true of most atheists I run into on the Internet. This is not a bad thing, in itself– it is quite natural. But it goes back to what I and the others have been saying about understanding who you are talking to and what they actually believe.

    To raise the objections that you have you need to believe, on some level, that the Bible is not bound by the same rules that every other work of literature is. Yes, the Bible is literature. It is 60 some odd books written over nearly 1600 + years (depending on whose dating you accept) in several different languages and in many different genres (law, court chronicles, tales, mythology, poetry, etc, history, letters (epistles) etc. etc.). The one thing it isn’t is a user’s manual such as comes with your new rototiller.

    So, when approaching it, you need to use the tools that we use when approaching any written text. You need to know what you have. A poem is not the same thing as a historical account of a battle. The Sermon on the Mount is not the same thing as a story. You need to recognize hyperbole when you see it; recognize a metaphor when you see one. You learned how to do a lot of this before you were out of high school. Well, you need to bring that knowledge to the reading of all ancient texts, including the Bible.

    Then you need to understand the culture, history and mode of literary expression of the author at the time he was writing. You need to understand his intentions. What was he writing for? To take your example of the two accounts of the creation in Genesis 1 and 2– Have you actually read them any time recently? If so, did you not notice that the first is cosmocentric and the second anthropocentric? These are not conflicting accounts. They are quite deliberate, carefully crafted and are there to convey something the author wanted to his audience to know.

    These creation accounts are a great example of how some knowledge of the culture and the language are important. If you read the account attentively, you will see that the author is taking great pains to distinguish the God of the Hebrews from the gods of the surrounding nations. For that reason he uses the plural word for “seas” (or waters) because the singular form was the name of the Canaanite sea god and he wanted his audience to make no mistake about who their God is (the two languages were still so close then that the two groups could still understand each other).

    You could fill a football field many times over with the many amazing insights literary, historical, archaeological, cultural and linguistic scholarship have yielded that have immensely enriched our understanding of these ancient texts. But that depends on approaching these stories as the literary artifacts they are, instead of approaching the Bible as a magical text and then demanding that it demonstrate 21st century insights into science, et al.

    Now, as far as the Gospels are concerned, just exactly what “contradictions” concern you? Do disagreements about details prove that the stories are fiction? Do disagreements about details sink murder trials when all 4 eyewitnesses agree that X killed Y in the library with a knife? I think not. You can’t just dismiss the gospels. They all attest quite emphatically to the same important thing. How do you account for that? Were the writers lying? Deluded? What?

  201. some random guy
    May 6th, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

    Daniel,

    First thing’s first: I think you would be well advised to avoid the standard boilerplate rhetoric. I only bring it up because as others have made it clear, you’re not talking to over-literal anti-science fundamentalists. We don’t need to know or really care that you find proponents of ID insufferable. Just the facts please.

    That said:

    “well, there are many passages in the bible which specifically say “ask and ye shall receive” (more or less), with the reasons being why god might not answer your prayers as basically boiling down to “you’re not doing what god told you to do”. “

    The God of Christianity is a good Father. Thus, you must view the command “Ask and ye shall receive” in the correct context. Would a loving father give his child candy for dinner every night if the kid demanded it? No. Because it’s not healthy. The God of Christianity is also omniscient, so he knows what’s best for us. Thus, seemingly unanswered prayers aren’t and shouldn’t be interpreted as: “You didn’t do what God told you to” but as “That might not be what God sees as best for you”.

    I admit my life would be a smashing success if I won the lottery. If I pray to win the lottery and don’t win, it’s not because God broke his promise, it’s because winning the lottery might not be in the best interest of my eternal salvation. I might become corrupt and lazy with all the money and land myself in hell. So he says no. I don’t have the slightest problem with that.

    “It seems consistently difficult to be the sort of person that god will keep his promise to.”

    No, God always keeps his promise to be faithful. It’s just hard to learn to ask for what we really need as opposed to what we want. It’s hard to be humble, in other words…

    “inaccuracies/inconsistencies in the bible? that’s a loooonnngg article.”

    Write them down here. All of them. I want to see all of them, and we’ll pick through them one by one. I demand it. Such an accusation requires some research, and if you really want to do us a favor and convince us of the futility of faith in the Bible, then you should have no problem doing it.

    This paragraph however, is not sufficient:

    “you could start at genesis, with both versions of the creation story. you could continue with both versions of the ten commandments. you may wonder about the resurrection story itself as related by at least four different disciples, with differing amounts of angels and so on. You could ask about unfulfilled prophecies (tyre, egypt, damascus, babylon…) and other promises not kept…you really want me to list them all?”

    It already shows a lack of understanding of what the Bible is, as well as how to interpret the Bible. For starters, it’s not one book, it’s a collection of books. It’s written by many people over a span of hundreds of years. It’s also written in different literary styles.

    So the two accounts of Genesis… are like two poems about the creation of the world… They describe the same thing but through different devices and perspectives. Neither is scientific. For instance, if I wrote two poems about a beautiful woman, and in one said “her eyes were shining stars in the evening sky” and in the other said “her eyes danced with fire”, you’d be a fool to say “NOW WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE! Those poems are contradictory! Her eyes are stars in one, and like fire in another. I cry foul!”

    Same goes with genesis. Two accounts, not meant literalistically, and not contradictory.

    I’ll get to the others later….

  202. Beelzebub
    May 7th, 2009 @ 3:38 am

    A few comments that I have time for:

    Mk:

    How do you explain millions of people having similar changes?

    I can’t deny that an idea itself can have profound effect on masses of people. The thing you need to convince me of is the requirement for truthfulness. A well-told lie can have as inspirational an effect on someone as any mundane truth, so verity is not the only fount of glad-tidings.

    Random Guy:


    I’m not saying supernature is a dimension as x,y,z are dimensions. I’m saying that the relationships between supernature and nature can be plausibly explained by analogy, not metaphor, to the relationships found in mathematical dimensions.

    Well, I personally think it works better as metaphor for our relationship with supernature, but I think we’ve beaten Flatland into a single dimension by now; maybe it’s best to move on.


    ARGH!!!! No! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Science cannot EVER give the answer “God did it!” by induction. Science only works with the observable evidence.

    And later:


    Everyone repeat after me: Science requires and deals with two things: Observable data and Falsifiable Hypotheses. You have to have both for science to be able to comment. If it ain’t observable by definition, then it ain’t in the scope of science.

    First, I don’t think you can justifiably seal science hermetically within the bounds of “the scientific method” and deny it access to both philosophy and logic, certainly not logic. There seems to be a — I would go so far as to call it — anti-science trend these days to isolate and then demote science, deriding it is as “scientism” the moment it slips the bounds of pure observation-induction.

    More seriously, I think you’re falling prey to the common error of using an antiquated version of what is considered the scientific method. It used to mean only the Baconian method, after Francis Bacon, who, along with others, came up with it. (I can just hear Lily gearing up to tell me I’m torturing history again.) At that time science meant the iterative cycle of observation and induction, but as the method matured it also incorporated what can be called the rational-deductive method. Both require scads of data collection,; the difference is in the nature of the observation, which is key to why your final sentence above is wrong. We can in fact apply the method to events not observed. A perfect example is the process of speciation in evolution, which requires duration of time longer than any scientist’s lifespan. Nobody has ever observed the appearance of a new species, yet the process is accepted science. In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis, perhaps about an event we cannot observe. If the event happened, what should be the consequences? (the deductive part). Perhaps fossils should be found in a certain strata. The data that confirms the hypothesis may already be known a priori, or it may be sought after the fact. The only fly in the ointment here is the case where confirming data is already known a priori because it generates accusations of just-so story telling and logical error. Actually, a lot of people dislike this sub-method of science vehemently and accuse it of not being “real” science. However, the fact of the matter is that it does generate hypotheses that can be further tested with more data. It is falsifiable. And you will note that the central contentions of its hypotheses are not observed and perhaps can never be.

  203. Beelzebub
    May 7th, 2009 @ 3:43 am

    And perhaps the first one to wield the full power of the rational-deductive (I think it’s also called the hypothetico-deductive method, or something like that. It definitely needs a better name) was Darwin himself.

  204. Beelzebub
    May 7th, 2009 @ 3:49 am

    A short and not terribly helpful wiki article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetico-deductive_method

  205. frustrated (mk)
    May 7th, 2009 @ 5:07 am

    Bbub,

    Nobody has ever observed the appearance of a new species, yet the process is accepted science. In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis, perhaps about an event we cannot observe.

    Bingo. Now apply that to the “theory” that Jesus lived, died and rose again. We’ve never seen it happen, but we have collected data (Scripture, archeology, non scriptural accounts, a faith that has lasted 6,000 years if you count the fact that it really started with the Jews, miracles…). If the “theory” had no validity whatsoever, we wouldn’t even be discussing it right now.

    Billions of people have looked at the “data” and believe what it claims. Faith isn’t going anywhere. I’m afraid you’re stuck with it, a fact which in itself is a piece of data.

    A well told lie could definitely have long term effects. From where I sit, all religions but the Christian one are proof of this. But even a lie, must have some basis in truth. Good lies are usually truth, twisted. And I use the term lie as in falsehood, not necessarily deliberate.

    Take any religion. You will see that there are some core principals that are constant. Almost ALL religions recognize certain things as being morally wrong. This is a Truth. This is something that comes out, even among the lies. So we have to take ALL of the hypothesis and decide which one holds the full Truth, and which ones only hold partial truths.

    But the notion that there is a supernatural is pretty much a running theme in all religions, by definition.

    I think it would be unscientific to ignore the fact that there has NEVER been a time in history when man did not believe in a supernatural being. He hadn’t revealed Himself to us yet, so we got a lot of it wrong, but we have ALWAYS “known” that there is something else. Faith persists.

  206. some random guy
    May 7th, 2009 @ 6:41 am

    Bbub,

    Pet peeve # 1 breached:

    “First, I don’t think you can justifiably seal science hermetically within the bounds of “the scientific method” and deny it access to both philosophy and logic, certainly not logic.”

    Please don’t put words or concepts into my mouth. I may be less than clear on my explanations of things at times, but I’m at least smart enough to explicitly state a claim like the above. To my memory and my quick perusal, I never denied access to logic or philosophy. In fact, the whole notion of testable hypotheses is based on logic and philosophy. I only constrained science to work with observable data and falsifiable predictions.

    “There seems to be a — I would go so far as to call it — anti-science trend these days to isolate and then demote science, deriding it is as “scientism” the moment it slips the bounds of pure observation-induction.”

    So in your science-nouveau, what would the cycle look like? Induction-induction? Observation-observation? Induction-observation? Would it not involve collecting data? Or perhaps the testable hypothesis is the part that needs to “get with it”? Perhaps the new science will just be data collection. Or perhaps just hypotheses never being tested.

    Me: “I have a theory that the moon is made of cheese…”
    Scientist: “By jove, I think we’ve had a scientific breakthrough!”

    or

    Scientist: “There are 20 apples in this box. We found fossils in a mountain. These are our discoveries for today. Please chronicle them in textbooks accordingly.”

    I don’t think I’m isolating or demoting. I’m just giving Science its proper place and function.

    “Both require scads of data collection,; the difference is in the nature of the observation, which is key to why your final sentence above is wrong. We can in fact apply the method to events not observed. “

    Oy. You seem to take what I write in the worst possible way. In shorthand I quipped:

    If it ain’t observable by definition, then it ain’t in the scope of science.

    Do you really think that I meant that you had to observe the actual event? As a physicist, do you think I doubt something like the big bang cause no-one was around to see it? Is that a reasonable interpretation of what I wrote, given this other sentence you quoted:

    Science only works with the observable evidence.

    So what I’m talking about is the EVIDENCE. Not necessarily the event itself.

    “In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis, perhaps about an event we cannot observe. If the event happened, what should be the consequences? (the deductive part). Perhaps fossils should be found in a certain strata

    You’re missing my point. Fossils are observable evidence of a natural phenomenon. We see that living creatures have skeletons. We see living things die and leave those skeletons behind. We find other skeletons which have been preserved since antiquity and therefore postulate that there had to be animals to leave them behind. Then we formulate a hypothesis based on this data and test it. For instance: “Dinosaurs were all herbivores”. We then set out to attempt to disprove this notion and we find that the evidence flatly contradicts such an assertion.

    “However, the fact of the matter is that it does generate hypotheses that can be further tested with more data. It is falsifiable. And you will note that the central contentions of its hypotheses are not observed and perhaps can never be.”

    Yes, but there was observable evidence that generates said hypothesis, and observable evidence to test it by. It doesn’t matter that the event can’t be directly observed.

    Evolution is similar. We find observable evidence that suggests evolution, we then formulate a falsifiable hypothesis and seek to test it. Saying “Man evolved from trees” is a testable hypothesis. Etc…

    To make a long story short and to try to refocus the discussion, let’s try a gedanken experiment:

    Say you walk into a room with your friend and see your couch suspended in mid-air. You test it via all the known methods of science, you check for magnets, strings, air currents, fluctuations in the gravitational field etc etc…

    You come to the conclusion that there is no known observable explanation for why this is happening. You make the observation: “This means there has to be a supernatural force at work!”

    Is this a scientific hypothesis? Is it testable? How could you falsify it?

    Then your friend pipes up: “I think it must be a Ghost!”

    Is this a scientific hypothesis? Is it testable? How could you falsify it?

    Then I pipe up: “No, it’s actually the work of undetectable couch elves. They use their elven powers to levitate cushy furniture.”

    Is this a scientific hypothesis? Is it testable? How could you falsify it?

    Then another question: If we need natural evidence like a fossil record to make a theory about something natural like evolution… then what type of evidence should we be looking for to test for something Supernatural, like God? Can you think of any good supernatural evidence detectors? How could they be falsified?

  207. Lily
    May 7th, 2009 @ 6:45 am

    Where all scientific approaches to debunking Christianity fail is that they simply refuse to deal with the facts. Christianity makes very specific historical claims that no other religion does. Christ ministered, was tried, executed and was seen after death, not by one or two people, but by many hundreds and those events are multiply attested. Paul even names a bunch of men who were witnesses, knowing that the recipients of his letter would know who they are.

    Islam depends on believing that private revelations were made to Mohammad. Most other religions make very vague claims about people/events in a misty, dim past. They are not historical claims.

    Historical claims must be weighed using the tools appropriate to dealing with history. Science is simply the wrong tool. It can never prove or disprove miracles, the Resurrection, etc. It is all very fine and good to say these things can’t happen; that they are outside the realm of “nature” but there are very credible claims that they *did* happen. We have to deal with reality no matter what our private preferences may be and no matter what our presuppositions may be.

  208. Beelzebub
    May 8th, 2009 @ 2:34 am

    Random Guy:


    To my memory and my quick perusal, I never denied access to logic or philosophy. In fact, the whole notion of testable hypotheses is based on logic and philosophy.

    I’m sure that’s probably what you meant, but these quotes are what led me to at least suspect you were trying to build a wall between science and philosophy.


    May 5 6:40
    As heaven isn’t a mathematical space, adding a z term doesn’t get us there, but one can prove or disprove things in ways other than math and science. This falls into the realm of Philosophy and Logic.

    The Supernatural, which includes the subset of the natural like 3d includes 2d, can’t be described by math OR science, but it can be truthfully checked by logic and philosophy.

    May 6 7:13
    Their philosophy could lead them to postulate a 3d object generating the change, and the mathematics could reach the possibility of a 3rd dimension, but science would and should be silent on the subject

    I don’t necessarily disagree with most of what you’re saying. Science is more method than philosophy, and there are times when only philosophy can address a subject. I just dislike the subordinate ranking science sometimes gets when compared to metaphysical philosophy — as if philosophy is science’s big brother ready to tap it on the shoulder with “you’ve overstepped your bounds; time to let me take over.” If anything the roles are reversed, it has been the prerogative of science to disqualify philosophic ramblings, to vet them, disprove them and eventually disqualify them if they don’t pass muster. All manner of bizarre philosophy has been relegated to the dustbin of intellectual history, shot down by science. But, significantly, not vice versa.

    A case in point is a new book I was just perusing in B&N called “Out of Our Minds.” It’s a new philosophical proposition that consciousness is not strictly produced by the brain, but the brain working in concert with body and environment, external stimuli, etc. It’s an interesting reformulation of mind/body dualism and appears at first pass to be a work of philosophic conjecture. The point is, without scientific verification, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.


    So in your science-nouveau, what would the cycle look like? Induction-induction? Observation-observation? Induction-observation? Would it not involve collecting data? Or perhaps the testable hypothesis is the part that needs to “get with it”? Perhaps the new science will just be data collection. Or perhaps just hypotheses never being tested.
    Me: “I have a theory that the moon is made of cheese…”
    Scientist: “By jove, I think we’ve had a scientific breakthrough!”

    No, I think we should move in the opposite direction, where science incorporates more philosophy. At least it would dampen the critics screaming “scientism” these days. Physicists used to be called Natural Philosophers and it was more than just self-appellation. I would, however, recommend that science be the top-dog.


    Do you really think that I meant that you had to observe the actual event? As a physicist, do you think I doubt something like the big bang cause no-one was around to see it?

    Nobody could see the sphere from Flatland, yet you seemed to think it was beyond the reach of Flatlander science.


    Then another question: If we need natural evidence like a fossil record to make a theory about something natural like evolution… then what type of evidence should we be looking for to test for something Supernatural, like God? Can you think of any good supernatural evidence detectors? How could they be falsified?

    This is a perfect segue into what I hoped would be Part II of my dialog. Scientists have been programmed to not touch this question with a ten foot pole since the accepted doctrine is that supernatural is not approachable by science. Fortunately I don’t have the same prejudice.

    A first attempt might be to say that supernatural is that which is not explained by science. Since science is the study of the natural world, it should be able to characterize that which is in nature. The obvious oversight is that the unexplained phenomenon may not be explicable by the current body of scientific knowledge, but will be at a later date. So the very optimism of science to explain everything eventually renders it a useless approach to the supernatural. Unless…you could be reasonably sure no future science could explain something. I think this is the reason things like “a personal God” and the extraordinary powers of the monotheistic god have proven so enduring — because I don’t think this is a new argument and was probably ruminated by the ancients. It would be hard to argue that something like omniscience is not supernatural. The fact that there is personality there is also significant, for the same reason that the appearance of an intelligent persona is significant in SETI (search for ET). When pulsars were first detected astronomers thought they had found ET, but how do you test for non-physical origins in a random or even patterned signal? It turned out pulsars are rotating neutron stars with no intelligence required. In a similar way, science would have a hard time trying to designate unexplained phenomena supernatural, but it would be quite a bit easier if the process began to interact with you, talk to you, and maybe even predict the future.

  209. Beelzebub
    May 8th, 2009 @ 2:40 am


    Bingo. Now apply that to the “theory” that Jesus lived, died and rose again. We’ve never seen it happen, but we have collected data (Scripture, archeology, non scriptural accounts, a faith that has lasted 6,000 years if you count the fact that it really started with the Jews, miracles…). If the “theory” had no validity whatsoever, we wouldn’t even be discussing it right now.

    I think the problem here begins with the hypothesis in question: that someone rose from the dead. Although, actually, as William Lane Craig has maintained, the problem people have is with the notion of god or gods. If there is a God, the idea of resurrection is no big deal.

  210. frustrated (mk)
    May 8th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

    Bbub,
    I think the problem here begins with the hypothesis in question: that someone rose from the dead. Although, actually, as William Lane Craig has maintained, the problem people have is with the notion of god or gods. If there is a God, the idea of resurrection is no big deal.

    You brought up the point that collected data can be used to form a hypothesis. I’m just saying that we have collected data about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and we have formed a hypothesis.

    Nobody has ever observed the appearance of a new species, yet the process is accepted science. In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis, perhaps about an event we cannot observe.

    Just change the words a little and it would read:

    Nobody alive today has ever observed a man rise from the dead, yet the process is accepted by believers. In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis…we can look at the data that we have collected (scripture, non scripture, historical books, archeology) and see that Jesus most likely, really existed, that many, many, many people DID think that He rose from the dead, and that many, many, many people today accept the veracity of the collected data.

    Granted much of this isn’t hard scientific evidence, but logically, it holds.

  211. some random guy
    May 8th, 2009 @ 9:16 am

    Bbub,

    I just dislike the subordinate ranking science sometimes gets when compared to metaphysical philosophy — as if philosophy is science’s big brother ready to tap it on the shoulder with “you’ve overstepped your bounds; time to let me take over.” If anything the roles are reversed, it has been the prerogative of science to disqualify philosophic ramblings, to vet them, disprove them and eventually disqualify them if they don’t pass muster.

    The answer is not either/or. It’s a both/and. There is a sort of “wall” between science and philosophy in that they are distict subjects with distinct rules and intentions. However, there are doors in that wall for them to interact and mutually inform eachother. I haven’t tried once to make science subordinate to anything, let alone philosophy or theology. Yet, I think you have repeatedly claimed that philosophy is somehow inferior to science. This is nonsense, and I kinda wish you would stop.

    “I would, however, recommend that science be the top-dog.”

    See? There ya go again. It’s sorta like the relationship between Physics and Mathematics. Math is involved in Physics, but Physics isn’t necessarily involved in Math. Something can be verifiable mathematically, but not by empiracal physics and vice versa. I’d love to see you make the nonsensical argument that “Physics should include more Math, but Physics should be top dog.”

    They’re equal in worth and importance. They mutually inform eachother and can be related, although not necessarily so.

    “Nobody could see the sphere from Flatland, yet you seemed to think it was beyond the reach of Flatlander science.”

    Apples to oranges. The flatlanders can’t “see” the sphere, but that’s not the heart of the reason why their science can’t address and pin down its existence. That reason is because there isn’t an empirical observable that is one-to-one necessarily correlated with the existence of a sphere as a sphere within flatland. In other words, they might see a circle changing diameter or vanishing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the circle HAS to be the projected intersection of a sphere. It could just be a circle that grows and shrinks for all they know. There is no way in their two-dimensional world to falsify the hypothesis “The circle really only the intersection of a 3 dimensional sphere” because they simply cannot empirically, quantitatively measure the 3rd dimension. If they could, they’d be living in a 3 dimensional plane and not 2 dimensional plane.

    The difference is, the big bang is both empirically observable throug evidence and falsifiable in this 4 dimensional existence.

    “Scientists have been programmed to not touch this question with a ten foot pole since the accepted doctrine is that supernatural is not approachable by science. Fortunately I don’t have the same prejudice.

    Oooh good! Now I get to ask the question: Are you not prejudiced because you’re not a scientist, or you are a scientist who just doesn’t understand the scientific method?

    See, I’m highly prejudiced in my research in that I have to be able to repeatedly empirically observe, quantify and theoretically falsify any hypothesis that I wish to later expound as theory. If I can’t observe it, measure it, repeat it or come up with a scenario in which I could hypothetically disprove it, then I don’t go around telling people it’s scientifically knowable. It might be knowable, but not scientifically so.

    For instance, I know it’s always wrong to rape. I can’t empirically prove its “wrongness”, but I can ethically prove it. I just don’t say: Science tells me rape is wrong. It doesn’t. Science doesn’t comment on rape.

    (Sorry for the graphic example, but I wanted something universally repulsive.)

    “Since science is the study of the natural world, it should be able to characterize that which is in nature.”

    Science is the study of the natural world using a particular method. A… scientific method.

    “The obvious oversight is that the unexplained phenomenon may not be explicable by the current body of scientific knowledge, but will be at a later date. So the very optimism of science to explain everything eventually renders it a useless approach to the supernatural.

    How does this not support what I’m saying? If science can’t explain something, it doesn’t just leap and say “Well that proves the supernatural.” It can’t. It just says: “We don’t know the answer right now.”

    “Unless…you could be reasonably sure no future science could explain something.”

    How does one get this reasonable certainty? For instance, I’m extremely cetain that no future science will ever explain or verify/prove or disprove the supernatural. Does that end our dispute?

    “When pulsars were first detected astronomers thought they had found ET, but how do you test for non-physical origins in a random or even patterned signal?”

    Well apparently they found a way, otherwise they wouldn’t know they were pulsars. In any event, they didn’t jump up and down saying “Unexplained event! It must mean we’ve got ET!!!” What they did was look for a way to falsify that hypothesis using the empirical data.

    “In a similar way, science would have a hard time trying to designate unexplained phenomena supernatural, but it would be quite a bit easier if the process began to interact with you, talk to you, and maybe even predict the future.”

    And how, if that unexplained phenomena interacted with you through the natural world, would you be able to scientifically test to see if that phenomena was telling the truth? If it said “Watch this!” and provided what appeared to be a miracle, why would science suddenly abandon its scepticism and declare it a miracle? Wouldn’t it, like the pulsar scenario, just claim to need more data? Wouldn’t it claim that the current state of science couldn’t explain it, but perhaps future breakthroughs could?

    What I feel you’re trying to do here, good sir, is push us into a “God-of-the-gaps” scenario: God explains the stuff science can’t. I refuse to go there. I say God also explains the stuff science can too!

    Science has no theories to add about the supernatural, morality, ethics, feelings, art, music, and a whole host of other things. It may inform and enrich those areas, but it doesn’t control them, nor is it superior to them.

    “Nobody alive today has ever observed a man rise from the dead, yet the process is accepted by believers. In the rational-deductive process collected data is used to formulate a hypothesis…we can look at the data that we have collected (scripture, non scripture, historical books, archeology) and see that Jesus most likely, really existed, that many, many, many people DID think that He rose from the dead, and that many, many, many people today accept the veracity of the collected data.

    :) mk’s got you over a barrel there. If we take your view of “science”, then there’s no reasonable way to invalidate the above claim. Welcome to the faith!

  212. some random guy
    May 8th, 2009 @ 9:21 am

    PS, you still didn’t answer my gedanken experiment…

    What experiment would you run that could falsify the claim that: “The levitating couch is caused by a supernatural ghost, and not a couch elf.”?

  213. Beelzebub
    May 9th, 2009 @ 3:24 am


    Yet, I think you have repeatedly claimed that philosophy is somehow inferior to science. This is nonsense, and I kinda wish you would stop.

    Well, I do place science over philosophy and theology, but that’s just my worldview. I’m not asking you to like it. I even think ethics could benefit from a scientific framework, at least it would help silence the ubiquitous Moral Law arguments for a supreme being. If secular humanism ever wants to be taken seriously it has to assume the mantles traditionally held by religion. Looking at the state of things, perhaps it’s time religion lets someone else have a whack at it anyhow. Of course, adopting a scientific framework doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. There’s the Jacobins to counter the idea that enlightenment ideals always lead to the optimal solution. On the other hand, there’s a great case to be made that they didn’t understand their own rubric. Yes, I think science easily ranks above philosophy in significance, but perhaps not theology at this point. It may be used for good or ill (A-bombs, napalm and nerve agent, oh my!), but however you think of it, you don’t see vast research parks devoted to Existentialism, do you?


    I’d love to see you make the nonsensical argument that “Physics should include more Math, but Physics should be top dog.”

    Actually, we don’t seem to agree on much, because I don’t think that’s a nonsensical statement, at least when dealing with the physical world. If you’re talking pure mathematics, sure, but there’s always been a surfeit of math to apply to physics, and picking the right one and rejecting the wrong (which sounds a lot like being “bottom dog”) is critical to the process.


    In other words, they might see a circle changing diameter or vanishing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the circle HAS to be the projected intersection of a sphere. It could just be a circle that grows and shrinks for all they know.

    Okay, I’ll agree with you there. As a play to salvage a point I’ll just add that if the Flatlanders experienced further, more complicated projections from the 3rd dimension, e.g. if 3D ovoid rotated in and out of their plane, creating shifting hyperbola (? My Analytic Geometry is a little rusty), they might eventually be very justified to conclude the 3rd dimensional origin of the observed phenomena. The theory would be falsified by observing a 2D sequence of shapes that could not be a projection of a 3D object(s) — although that might be pretty hard to do, come to think of it, given arbitrary objects.


    Oooh good! Now I get to ask the question: Are you not prejudiced because you’re not a scientist, or you are a scientist who just doesn’t understand the scientific method?

    The general idea is this: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence — except when the absence lasts for a hundred, thousand, or ten thousand years of concerted effort. Even that maxim is going to fall away in the fullness of time. Technically that violates the scientific credo, but I don’t think it makes it any less true.


    I can’t empirically prove its “wrongness”, but I can ethically prove it. I just don’t say: Science tells me rape is wrong. It doesn’t. Science doesn’t comment on rape.

    But, RG, you can’t prove it’s wrong because there’s no scientific metric as touchstone enabling you to do it. If there was you could probably use Excel. Maybe this sounds crass. It shouldn’t. There’s no reason you can’t use your innate moral sensibilities in conjunction with a scientifically based morality. If either are any good, they really ought to agree for the most part. Maybe you can start with the Golden Rule, or “maximize happiness” as an objective function.

    I think the reason people have been reluctant to do something like this is that, inevitably, there will have to be compromise. Do you ship the relief food to x and not y? Nobody actually wants to face the prospect of a scientific ethic that leaves a paper trail. Instead we leave it to antiquated regimes of thought that are more than happy to make the life or death decisions based on polished ignorance. Oh, either x or y still goes without food, but by the time the ignoramuses get through, nobody feels bad about it.


    How does this not support what I’m saying? If science can’t explain something, it doesn’t just leap and say “Well that proves the supernatural.” It can’t. It just says: “We don’t know the answer right now.”

    And 3000 years from now?

    I have to go. I’ll pick up on the “God of Gaps” later.

  214. Rachael C.
    May 9th, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

    LOL, this thread is still going

  215. Beelzebub
    May 10th, 2009 @ 3:04 am


    What I feel you’re trying to do here, good sir, is push us into a “God-of-the-gaps” scenario: God explains the stuff science can’t. I refuse to go there. I say God also explains the stuff science can too!

    As Laplace quipped, why are you in need of that hypothesis? As Hitchens has sarcastically said, this is where theists break out their “Hallmark Moment” arguments. Springtime wildflowers, honeysuckle and kisses, rainbows and new love…there must be a God. Shermer is at least polite enough to just say it’s needless complication. Christians (often, for some reason, Catholics) often charge atheists with not wanting to believe in a God — usually because they think we want to keep doing all kinds of nasty stuff. Of course the charge can be turned around and reversed. The only place this loses traction is when God does live in the gaps, at least there He’s beyond reach of alternative explanation.


    Science has no theories to add about the supernatural, morality, ethics, feelings, art, music, and a whole host of other things. It may inform and enrich those areas, but it doesn’t control them, nor is it superior to them.

    I fee some of those disciplines could use a larger dose of scientific kibitzing.


    What experiment would you run that could falsify the claim that: “The levitating couch is caused by a supernatural ghost, and not a couch elf.”?

    I’m assuming you mean that the levitating couch elves are of natural origin, else I can’t see the difference between them and the supernatural ghosts. I wouldn’t need to run an experiment, I would merely observe the elves doing it. So, yes, the ghostly levitation is falsifiable through any observation of a real cause. In my opinion, though, falsifiability through observation is weaker as a proposition than through experiment since observational falsification is often fortuitous and serendipitous. In other words, we luck out and falsify absurd explanations. There are those who say Christianity is falsifiable because if we ever discovered the bones of Jesus it would dispose of Christianity. The problem is the extreme fortuity of that event. For all practical purposes Christianity is non-falsifiable.

    If we never discovered a natural cause and could not see the elves would we ever be able to conclude a supernatural cause? If the couch were blatantly violating a fundamental law of nature, like conservation of energy, it would perhaps be prudent to conclude supernaturalism, tho I’d be more convinced if Satan himself popped into appearance on it smoking a cigar.

  216. Beelzebub
    May 10th, 2009 @ 3:13 am

    To me, and I think most supernaturalism skeptics, this is the most convincing argument against the supernatural. Levitating couch occurrence is about at frequent as UFO sightings, about as anecdotal, and about as infuriatingly vague and fleeting. The question you have to seriously ask yourself is not why you believe in the supernatural, but why there are hordes of people like me who don’t. Why isn’t supernaturalism blatantly obvious? And “believing is seeing” is not and has never been a good reason.

  217. Beelzebub
    May 10th, 2009 @ 3:18 am

    – in fact, it’s a damn good reason against it. “if only you’d allow Jesus into your heart you’d understand” is an argument worthy of Rev. Moon, and I think you know it. That being said, I’m currently reading “The End of Materialism” which promises to convince me of spiritualism and the para-noraml. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  218. Lily
    May 10th, 2009 @ 5:46 am

    Well, I will give you props, Bbub, for the most blatant scientism I have ever seen demonstrated. You have left nothing unsaid that the worshippers of scince have ever trotted out. Once you bring up Hitchens in such a context, you have lost. The man is as superficial and as uninformed a thinker about religion as Dawkins– and that is no compliment.

    Who here has said “if only you’d allow Jesus into your heart you’d understand” ? I guess you can ultimately win every argument, if you argue only with the voices in your head.

    The supernatural is blatantly obvious to millions and has been since the beginning of recorded history. Your “scientific” arguments have still failed utterly to deal with reality. We have historical claims multiply and credibly attested about certain events. The fact that you can’t falsify Christianity is meaningless. We can’t falsify the Punic Wars, Socrates’ life, Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul and every other single historical human life or event. We can only weigh the evidence and come to some conclusions about it.

    It is amazing to me that you can look at science and claim for it ultimate explanatory power for everything. That is a shockingly naive point of view. Science has a limited domain. It can’t demonstrate or even comment on whether or not there are things outside of the physical realm. Those are metaphysical claims, and science is limited to the physical.

    Scientism is really bad philosophy. It is self-refuting, since the proposition, “we should only believe things that can be proven scientifically” cannot itself be proven scientifically. I find many compelling reasons to infer the existence of God and the truth of Christianity.

    Scientism and the atheism it inevitably spawns is much less rational than belief in God. Scientism explains nothing and just assumes that everything is the way it is because … well, because that is the way things are. Belief in God is far more rational. It takes far more faith than I can muster to be an atheist.

  219. some random guy
    May 10th, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

    Bbub,

    Wow… ok, well now that you’ve fully revealed your ideology…

    “Well, I do place science over philosophy and theology, but that’s just my worldview.”

    And it’s an illogical one at that. It’s like putting music over dancing. “I say, this music is much better than your hobby of dancing. If we didn’t have music, where would dancing be, anyhow?”

    “I even think ethics could benefit from a scientific framework, at least it would help silence the ubiquitous Moral Law arguments for a supreme being.”

    Yeah, good luck deriving ethics from science. Usually that ends up in stuff like eugenics and genocide.

    I mean really, what type of experiment could you run to show that the survival of the human race is ethically good? You can’t. You have to make the assumption (from a humanist perspective). Nonsense. Absolute bollox.

    “If secular humanism ever wants to be taken seriously it has to assume the mantles traditionally held by religion.”

    From your posts, I can see it’s already assimilated a sense of religious faith in your life…

    “Looking at the state of things, perhaps it’s time religion lets someone else have a whack at it anyhow.

    Standard boilerplate. Religion causes wars and hatred blah blah… All religions are the same blah blah… Seriously, now this is getting trite and boring…

    “but however you think of it, you don’t see vast research parks devoted to Existentialism, do you? “

    Does this even make sense as an argument? If the work of philosophy is done in the head and not necessarily in the lab, then why would they need “vast” research parks?????

    “Actually, we don’t seem to agree on much, because I don’t think that’s a nonsensical statement, at least when dealing with the physical world. If you’re talking pure mathematics, sure, but there’s always been a surfeit of math to apply to physics, and picking the right one and rejecting the wrong (which sounds a lot like being “bottom dog”) is critical to the process.”

    So quantum mechanics, which is highly probabilistic and involves heavy uncertainty, is not checked by mathematical logic??? Did I miss something in school?

    “The theory would be falsified by observing a 2D sequence of shapes that could not be a projection of a 3D object(s) — although that might be pretty hard to do, come to think of it, given arbitrary objects.”

    No, it wouldn’t. How would they know the difference between the 2D projection of a changing object and a regular old changing 2D object? From the second dimension, both would have exactly the same characteristics.

    “The general idea is this: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence — except when the absence lasts for a hundred, thousand, or ten thousand years of concerted effort”

    You didn’t answer my question. Are you a scientist or not? What is your background?

    I’m not arguing that science can’t probe the supernatural because we haven’t had any evidence of it doing so yet. I’m telling you, repeatedly even, that it can’t happen because it’s a logical impossibility. There will never be a scientific theory regarding the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural. It can’t happen.

    “But, RG, you can’t prove it’s wrong because there’s no scientific metric as touchstone enabling you to do it.

    And there we have it folks. You just implied that all proofs must be verifiable by science. Lily kindly toasted this theory in my absence. It’s gibberish. I realize I’m being a bit snippy and uncharitable here, and I ask your forgiveness, but you must realize that I hate this garbage. This notion that science can somehow comment on right and wrong, that it can somehow be used to prove everything… it’s bullshit.
    What’s more, it’s insulting to those of us with a legitimate background in science. This stupid concept distorts everything we work for and tarnishes the good name of science by seeking to make it the slave of the “new world order”. We get awful quotes like “science will replace religion”… what does religion do? It typically involves faith in a supreme being, teachings and ritual. Why the hell would science ever be interested in cornering that market? It’s like suggesting that History will one day replace Architecture. Wrong. All wrong.

    “Maybe you can start with the Golden Rule, or “maximize happiness” as an objective function.”

    Oh geez, now we’re even wheeling out this crap. Listen, if we were all capable of living by some asinine platitude, then we wouldn’t need laws. If no-one in the world ever had the desire to desire to steal, and then carried through with that desire, we wouldn’t need anti-theft legislation. Even if we accepted the golden rule as standard, we could never have a hope to live up to it. So isn’t it a bit stupid to ask for the impossible? (Taking an atheistic frame of reference?) Then we get into the problems on the Golden Rule. For instance, if one person gets horribly sick, they may want to be killed. However, if I get horribly sick, I don’t want to be exterminated. But… say I couldn’t speak for myself cause I was unconscious, does that mean that if that person were taking care of me and had legal rights, they could kill me without guilty? Perhaps we should stick with “maximize happiness”… Sunshine and skittles and kittens…

    Let’s see how that’d play out with your next boilerplate example:

  220. some random guy
    May 10th, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

    “I think the reason people have been reluctant to do something like this is that, inevitably, there will have to be compromise. Do you ship the relief food to x and not y? “

    Heck no, you keep the food for yourself and drop a nuclear warhead on the poor people. Duh. Your happiness is maximized, you get plenty of food, and they’re put out of their misery. Dilemma solved. Also, you’ve now provided the people on the international space station with a new glow-in-the-dark nightlight. Maximizing happiness means that the people with the power get to stamp out those who don’t. After all, who’s unhappy when they’re dead, right? There’s no afterlife, right? So you’ve just culled the herd a bit.

    Psh.

    “As Laplace quipped, why are you in need of that hypothesis?”

    Because it’s true.

    “As Hitchens has sarcastically said, this is where theists break out their “Hallmark Moment” arguments. Springtime wildflowers, honeysuckle and kisses, rainbows and new love…there must be a God”

    Ah! The Prophet Hitchens (Pbuh). His writing on religion is error free! Listening to Hitchens talk about Religion is like listening to Fred Phelps talk about Science. It’s a trainwreck, so it’s understandable that you can’t seem to look away. Anyway, no-ones making the springtime argument. Drop the boilerplate.

    “Christians (often, for some reason, Catholics) often charge atheists with not wanting to believe in a God”

    Lemme ask you something: Have you put any effort into understanding Christianity from the actual Catholic POV, or do you just read up on Dawkins and the like? You don’t want to believe in a God, otherwise you’d be trying to find something to eliminate your atheist. Yes, you can turn that around. And I admit it openly. I have no desire to become an atheist. What could it possibly give me that I don’t already have? Freedom from oppressive rules and rituals and beliefs? Nah, I like em. Don’t find em oppressive. Plus, having actually experience God and His presence, why would I ever want to ignore it?

    “I fee some of those disciplines could use a larger dose of scientific kibitzing.”

    Of course you do. Unfortunately, it’s not possible.

    “I’m assuming you mean that the levitating couch elves are of natural origin, else I can’t see the difference between them and the supernatural ghosts.”

    Wow… I thought the point of the couch example was pretty clear… but I guess this is why it never works to assume things. No. Both the elves and the ghost are supernatural theories not distinguishable or verifiable by science. If we saw a levitating couch, not only could we not scientifically conclude the supernatural exists, but we also couldn’t peg whether it’s a ghost or an elf. The cause is hidden to the observer. Science has nothing to say in this scenario. End. of. Story.

    “So, yes, the ghostly levitation is falsifiable through any observation of a real cause.”

    I get the sense that you don’t really understand what scientists mean by a falsifiable experiment. It’s the same scenario as with flatland. If there was a natural, unexplained cause for a couch floating, how would it be empirically different from a supernatural one? Ans: It wouldn’t. Does this make sense yet???

    “If we never discovered a natural cause and could not see the elves would we ever be able to conclude a supernatural cause? If the couch were blatantly violating a fundamental law of nature, like conservation of energy, it would perhaps be prudent to conclude supernaturalism”

    Ah I see, just like when we postulated supernatural causes when we found that the atomic and quantum world doesn’t work by Newtonian mechanics… Or like when we observe that the universe was expanding faster and faster rather than slowing down as physically expected… oh wait…

    “The question you have to seriously ask yourself is not why you believe in the supernatural, but why there are hordes of people like me who don’t. “

    Probably for the same reason that there are hordes of people that don’t agree with me when I say that Truth isn’t relative, it is knowable and you can be certain of it. Because they’re not thinking properly. Or in some cases living properly. Hell, here you sit trying to convince me of a logical impossibility. You’re telling me that years of training and schooling and research have failed to teach me that science is really the ultimate evolution of philosophy, religion, art etc…

    Forgive me, but I can’t help but think of the inimitable Homer Simpson: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.”

    “Why isn’t supernaturalism blatantly obvious?”

    It’s obvious in a hidden way. Like a magic-eye picture.

    “in fact, it’s a damn good reason against it. “if only you’d allow Jesus into your heart you’d understand” is an argument worthy of Rev. Moon, and I think you know it.

    Nah, I think it’s a concept worthy of a god. It doesn’t fare well as a logical argument, but that’s why I haven’t used it. Wanna set up a different straw-man?

  221. Beelzebub
    May 11th, 2009 @ 3:54 am


    Well, I will give you props, Bbub, for the most blatant scientism I have ever seen demonstrated. You have left nothing unsaid that the worshippers of scince have ever trotted out. Once you bring up Hitchens in such a context, you have lost.

    I have only advocated for more involvement of science in certain disciplines. I don’t think I yet qualify for your accusation of “scientism.” If we could expand our knowledge radically to encompass rational explanation of everything I might be more inclined to embrace “scientism” (sorry, but for me the term has as much cringe worthiness as “Darwinism”) so I’ll continue with the scare quotes.


    Yeah, good luck deriving ethics from science. Usually that ends up in stuff like eugenics and genocide.
    I mean really, what type of experiment could you run to show that the survival of the human race is ethically good? You can’t. You have to make the assumption (from a humanist perspective). Nonsense. Absolute bollox.

    I haven’t denied that horrible things are enabled by science. We have A-bombs, the prospect of engineered viruses, chemical warfare, etc. Since I’m not one to think the genie can be put back in the bottle I don’t think the solution is neo-Ludditism, rather wiser and restrained application of the power of science. You may say that we can’t arrive at the wisdom, morals, ethics from science itself; it has to come from without. I’ll draw your attention to the fact that the USA was a Christian nation when it dropped the bombs on Japan and its decision was surely informed by Christian ethics. For that matter, we were a Christian nation when eugenics was applied. And for those of you who don’t know, eugenics started in America, not Europe. For that matter, for those who don’t know, Nazi Germany was a Christian nation, in spite of what 60 years of propaganda has misinformed you. They married and prayed in Christian churches, were buried in Christian cemeteries. If it walks, quacks and lives like a duck…it’s a duck, and a very nasty one at that.

    So, basically, where’s that awesome Christian scorecard I’ve heard so much about?


    “If secular humanism ever wants to be taken seriously it has to assume the mantles traditionally held by religion.”
    From your posts, I can see it’s already assimilated a sense of religious faith in your life…

    Hmm, that almost sounds like derision. Could it be that you don’t place much merit on faith-based belief?


    “Looking at the state of things, perhaps it’s time religion lets someone else have a whack at it anyhow.
    Standard boilerplate. Religion causes wars and hatred blah blah… All religions are the same blah blah… Seriously, now this is getting trite and boring…

    Well, then you’re boring yourself because that’s misconstrued. I actually place a lot of credence in the notion that it was the denial of religion and the subsequent moral vacuum that killed millions in Stalinist Russia and Communist China, so you can’t really pin me with that charge.


    Does this even make sense as an argument? If the work of philosophy is done in the head and not necessarily in the lab, then why would they need “vast” research parks?????

    Perhaps they would need vast industrial parks if something of practical use actually came out of them. But this is just making my point, science is more significant than philosophy. Even entertainment seems to play a more significant role in our daily lives and economy than philosophy. You seem to be under the spell of a romantic notion elevating “the life of the mind” onto a pedestal.


    So quantum mechanics, which is highly probabilistic and involves heavy uncertainty, is not checked by mathematical logic??? Did I miss something in school?

    No, but when it came to mathematics there was no dearth to choose from. In the end it was Linear Algebra on Hilbert spaces. It could have been any number of other maths.


    No, it wouldn’t. How would they know the difference between the 2D projection of a changing object and a regular old changing 2D object? From the second dimension, both would have exactly the same characteristics.

    I think they would lean on the fact that the 3D explanation is simpler, explained with fewer variables (Occam’s razor), but there’s probably more than can be said of this.


    And there we have it folks. You just implied that all proofs must be verifiable by science. Lily kindly toasted this theory in my absence. It’s gibberish. I realize I’m being a bit snippy and uncharitable here, and I ask your forgiveness,

    You and Lily are projecting your own prejudiced judgment. Science may be able to inform moral prescriptions, not take them over.


    “Maybe you can start with the Golden Rule, or “maximize happiness” as an objective function.”
    Oh geez, now we’re even wheeling out this crap. Listen, if we were all capable of living by some asinine platitude, then we wouldn’t need laws.

    I think you missed the word “start” in my statement. Besides, are you calling Jesus a purveyor of asinine platitude? Shame on you. Also, you keep asking my forgiveness, then launch right back into another derogation. Catholics… You do know that I’m not sanctioned to take confession.


    Heck no, you keep the food for yourself and drop a nuclear warhead on the poor people.

    Okay, so you think the optimal good is for you and not everyone. Just keep talking.

    Unfortunately, you do…


    Lemme ask you something: Have you put any effort into understanding Christianity from the actual Catholic POV, or do you just read up on Dawkins and the like?

    I make no claims to understand the intricacies of Catholicism, but I can say that IF there is a God, yes, I would like to know about it. Don’t smirk, that’s more than a lot of skeptics will ever tell you.


    I get the sense that you don’t really understand what scientists mean by a falsifiable experiment. It’s the same scenario as with flatland. If there was a natural, unexplained cause for a couch floating, how would it be empirically different from a supernatural one? Ans: It wouldn’t. Does this make sense yet???

    At this point I’m not sure who’s torturing Karl Popper more, but I agree that if the levitation is operating through a PROCESS that is unknown, unexplained and untheorized, then yes, it’s unfalsifiable by modern science — but not in theory by tomorrow’s. In this sense, the supernatural is unfalsifiable. I still maintain that as the years rolled on, explication unforthcoming, even science would become convinced that a phenomenon was supernatural by the failure of the scientific method to identify a cause. If would be the negative conclusions of science that would seal the deal. How fast that would take is probably highly dependent on how weird the event was. Maybe you think Science could never bring itself to utter the pronouncement. I find your lack of faith disturbing.


    Ah I see, just like when we postulated supernatural causes when we found that the atomic and quantum world doesn’t work by Newtonian mechanics… Or like when we observe that the universe was expanding faster and faster rather than slowing down as physically expected… oh wait…

    I don’t believe there’s a Newtonian law violated outright by QM, is there? Newtonian mechanics was just formulated at higher masses.


    Forgive me, but I can’t help but think of the inimitable Homer Simpson: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.”

    Exactly.


    “in fact, it’s a damn good reason against it. “if only you’d allow Jesus into your heart you’d understand” is an argument worthy of Rev. Moon, and I think you know it.
    Nah, I think it’s a concept worthy of a god. It doesn’t fare well as a logical argument, but that’s why I haven’t used it. Wanna set up a different straw-man?

    Don’t ever buy a vehicle at a used car dealer.

  222. frustrated (mk)
    May 11th, 2009 @ 6:00 am

    Bbub,

    Hmm, that almost sounds like derision. Could it be that you don’t place much merit on faith-based belief?

    It’s not the “faith-based” belief we’re having a problem with. It’s what you are basing your faith on.

    Doesn’t everything come down to faith, really? The difference is in WHAT you believe in.

    We opt for Truth.

  223. frustrated (mk)
    May 11th, 2009 @ 6:14 am

    Bbub,

    I think they would lean on the fact that the 3D explanation is simpler, explained with fewer variables (Occam’s razor), but there’s probably more than can be said of this.</I.

    You’re so close. Isn’t it Occam’s razor operating to say that everything has a cause, life itself must have had a cause? And that eventually you will come to a point where there is one uncaused cause?

    No matter how long this discussion goes on, you’ll never be able to answer the question “What came first?”. You have to keep going back…what caused the big bang? What caused the “matter” that banged? What caused the universe that contained the matter?

    In the end you always come to there must have been something that was NOT caused.

    It’s the simplest explanation.

    Tell me this. Why are flowers colorful? Seriously. Why are they bright, and beautiful and why do they smell so delicious?

    If you tell me that it is to attract birds and bees, then tell me why birds and bees are attracted to flowers.

    Which evolved first? The need for nectar? Or the beauty of the flower?

    My point is that everything, EVERYTHING in the natural world is ordered to perfection. Without man, the world would run beautifully. From everything we know in the world, doesn’t this point to an intelligenct designer? Name me something that works with the precision of nature that was NOT created by someone/something else? Name me one thing…anything…as complex and intricate as the natural world, that came into being on it’s own, and is not part of nature…

    Occam’s Razor says we know of nothing that fits this description. Therefore the simplest answer, the one that takes the least amount of imagination, is that someone/something had a hand in natures design. Because scientifically, we know of NO OTHER occasion where something this complex exists without an author.

  224. some random guy
    May 11th, 2009 @ 8:34 am

    “I have only advocated for more involvement of science in certain disciplines. I have only advocated for more involvement of science in certain disciplines.”

    False. You were advocating for the superiority of science to other disciplines. Do I need to copy and paste the quotes?

    If you were only advocating for more inclusion of scientific discovery as fodder and occasional reproach for other disciplines, we’d be just fine. Remember all those times when I said that science can only inform these disciplines, and vice versa? That’s different from applying the scientific method to problems of philosophy and theology. For instance, I don’t mind the fact that the theory of evolution points to the fact that Genesis can’t be interpreted literalistically. I DO have a problem with people saying: No experiment has proven God’s existence, so he doesn’t exist. They’re two totally different applications of the scientific method. The former tests falsifiable hypotheses with empirically observable data in repeatable experiments. The latter is just rhetoric.

    Bottom line: What we mean by “involvement” is vastly different.

    “So, basically, where’s that awesome Christian scorecard I’ve heard so much about?”

    Ah yes, so Christians not living up to the standard of Christ invalidates Christ? Does that mean if I steal something, that invalidates the anti-theft laws? We’re judging ideals by the people who fail to live up to them???

    Want a good Christian example? Pick a fight with any of our Saints. You know, people we actually hold up as good examples…

    “Hmm, that almost sounds like derision. Could it be that you don’t place much merit on faith-based belief?”

    MK’s beat me to the punch again! It’s not faith that’s our problem, it’s faith in something less than God, less than the Truth that bothers us.

    “Well, then you’re boring yourself because that’s misconstrued. I actually place a lot of credence in the notion that it was the denial of religion and the subsequent moral vacuum that killed millions in Stalinist Russia and Communist China, so you can’t really pin me with that charge.”

    Oh please, you utter this in the same breath as when you ask to see the “Christian Track Record” and speak of “Christian Nazis”? Tell me, if you weren’t insinuating that “religion poisons everything”, then what did you mean when you wrote:

    “Looking at the state of things, perhaps it’s time religion lets someone else have a whack at it anyhow.”

    Does that not sound like the typical “religion seems to have failed” argument? Yep, sure does. Then you open your most recent post with “if it walks like a duck” etc. Nah, I think I’ve got your boilerplate pegged.

    “Perhaps they would need vast industrial parks if something of practical use actually came out of them”

    You’re right, I admit it. Nothing practical has ever come out of philosophy or logic. We’ve never got anything useful out of thinking.

    “Even entertainment seems to play a more significant role in our daily lives and economy than philosophy. You seem to be under the spell of a romantic notion elevating “the life of the mind” onto a pedestal.”

    Ah, I see. Our lives are currently ordered as they should be. Because people spend more time watching American Idol and barking like seals at the TV screen than thinking about philosophical concepts and the intellectual side of life, that means entertainment and science are definitely above philosophy in importance.

    You’re right again. I’m laboring under the romantic delusion that the world would be a better place if people actually read books and analytically thought through their opinions before vomiting them out in public. Silly me.

    “It could have been any number of other maths.”

    Like what, praytell?

    “I think they would lean on the fact that the 3D explanation is simpler, explained with fewer variables (Occam’s razor), but there’s probably more than can be said of this.”

    Oh, okay! I get it now. We’re going with the theory that people feel is simpler. So faced with the prospect of a super-string/ m-theory universe full of omni-dimensional spaces, colliding branes and the like, the truly scientific person would just plunk with the one easier to swallow: God did it. Works for me!

    “You and Lily are projecting your own prejudiced judgment. Science may be able to inform moral prescriptions, not take them over.”

    We ain’t projecting a thing. You said in regard to a logical proof of ethics:

    “But, RG, you can’t prove it’s wrong because there’s no scientific metric as touchstone enabling you to do it.”

    What does that imply that we’ve missed? It seems pretty clear to me. It also seems clear that you’re re-adjusting your opinion. If you had agreed with me earlier that science could inform moral prescriptions, and not said the above, then we’d be fine. But you didn’t. You said that science should be the “top dog”. Tell me, if the top dog doesn’t dictate the lower dogs, then what makes it a top dog?

    “Besides, are you calling Jesus a purveyor of asinine platitude? Shame on you.”

    Jesus said LOVE your neighbor as yourself. Within this context, he also said LOVE one another as I have LOVED you. And on top of this all, he said: Love your God with your whole heart.

    What type of love was this: Complete self gift.

    That’s a world of difference from “Do unto others as you would have done to you.” Jesus’ words demand that we love with the love of God, the love he showed us. Asinine platitude “A” says “If you’re ok with it, go ahead and do it. No love is invoked, only personal opinion.

    “Okay, so you think the optimal good is for you and not everyone. Just keep talking.

    Yep, if there is no God, and no afterlife, then I don’t see why those in great suffering shouldn’t be euthanized as quickly as possible. They aren’t really happy, and aren’t really living well, and they won’t be any less happy or worse off dead. Prove me wrong from the platitudes.

    This isn’t my personal opinion, but hey, if I take your worldview, who’s to say I’m wrong?

    “I don’t believe there’s a Newtonian law violated outright by QM, is there? Newtonian mechanics was just formulated at higher masses.

    There’s a good deal of difference actually. For instance, in the Quantum world, we largely speak of probabilities. Expectation values etc. Uncertainty is very big. In the Newtonian world, we’re in a sense more “certain” of things. Plus, when we get near the speed of light, Newtonian mechanics tends to break down. So… yes and no.

    “Don’t ever buy a vehicle at a used car dealer.”

    ‘Kay…

  225. Lily
    May 11th, 2009 @ 9:53 am

    I was going to leave this spectacular bit of nonsense alone, esp, as SRG is doing so well on his own, but upon reflection, I realize that it needs to dealt with as vigorously as possible:

    For that matter, for those who don’t know, Nazi Germany was a Christian nation, in spite of what 60 years of propaganda has misinformed you. They married and prayed in Christian churches, were buried in Christian cemeteries. If it walks, quacks and lives like a duck…it’s a duck, and a very nasty one at that.

    This is so fundamentally flawed it is hard to know where to begin. It also helps debunk, once and for all, the idea that a “scientific” education is, even remotely, a comprehensive education. It clearly hasn’t helped B-Bub understand human nature at all.

    There is no such thing as a “Christian” nation, Bbub. Germany was no such thing, the U.S. is no such thing. Christianity has radically shaped our western values but it is not and never has been realized anywhere and won’t be until Christ returns. Do you suppose Christ was joking when he said that many are called but few are chosen?

    If you really understood human nature, you wouldn’t suppose that it will ever be possible to shape it from the outside to become perfect– perfectly loving, perfectly just, perfectly whatever. Individuals vary in their willingness and ability to do the hard work of becoming Christ-like. We are not automatons; we are not empty vessels into which you can pour Christianity and, viola! it is done.

    You forget (don’t know? don’t care?) that Nazi Germany also gave the world Christians like Martin Niemoller, Dietrich and his less well known, but equally heroic brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer, Adenauer, and many more whose names you won’t know and many who are known only to God. All of them resisted the Nazis; many of them were executed for it.

    The ranks of those who imitate Christ most closely will always be thinner than the ranks of those who don’t. Fortunately, numbers are not proof of the truth of Christianity– only how hard it is to live up to its demands.

  226. frustrated (mk)
    May 11th, 2009 @ 9:54 am

    Bbub,

    I think the problem is coming from trying to compare things that aren’t really comparable. Which is not the same as not “compatible”.

    The problem with fighting over whether science is more important or philosophy is more important, is that they both answer different questions.

    What is the question you are asking? Are you asking if the earth revolves around the sun? Then science is your man.

    Are you asking if lying is wrong? Then it’s philosophy your looking for.

    However when you ask if abortion is wrong, you can use both. Is an unborn child a human being? Science can answer that. Is it wrong to kill an innocent human being? Philosophy can answer that. If science says that the unborn child is indeed a human being is it wrong, and philosophy says that murder is wrong, then it is wrong to kill an unborn child.

    The first example shows that philosophy is not science and cannot answer the question.
    The second example shows that science is not philosophy and cannot answer the question.
    They are not comparable.

    The third example shows that philosophy and science can work together to answer the question logically.
    They ARE compatible.

    It’s that example I gave a Peter Kreefts’ a while ago…

    The taking of innocent human life is murder.
    Murder is wrong.
    Abortion is the taking of innocent human life.
    Therefore:

    A. Abortion is wrong
    or
    B. Murder is not wrong

    In this example you use science,(an unborn child is a human being), philosophy (murder is wrong) and logic.

    Abortion is wrong.

    They can work together. But only if you believe science, know philosophy and think logically.

  227. some random guy
    May 11th, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    “I think the problem is coming from trying to compare things that aren’t really comparable. Which is not the same as not “compatible”.

    The problem with fighting over whether science is more important or philosophy is more important, is that they both answer different questions.”

    I like how MK says clearly in four sentences what it’s taken me 500,000,000,000 posts to say. Not fair I tell you, not fair at all. :)

  228. Lily
    May 11th, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

    Ain’t it the truth, SRG? It is so annoying of her… Stop it this instant, mk!

  229. frustrated (mk)
    May 11th, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

    Awww you guys. It’s because I have no education. I’m stuck just seeing it in it’s simplest form. I’ve had to look up every word with more than two syllables that you’ve used! lol

    Seriously, Lily knows that I have only a high school education (where I averaged low C’s and D’s), so while I know the “principles” you are talking about, the words you use are somewhat confounding.

    I mean honestly! Newtonian mechanics??? Linear Algebra on Hilbert spaces????? Quantum theory????

    But it doesn’t really matter what examples you use…how complicated or intricate. The truths that they are illustrating are pretty straightforward. And that’s what comes through.

    I just took a book out of the library, hoping it would help me keep up and it’s awesome. It breaks down all the philosophical arguments and uses jokes to illustrate them.

    So many light bulbs came on! Who knew there were “words” to describe what I just call common sense.

    The book is called “Plato and a Platypus Go Into a Bar”…Hilarious! I’m sure I’ll be using some examples from the book! I’ve learned more in an hour than I could have with a years worth of college courses!

    Sure enough, I just read the chapter on Falsifiability!

    I learned the word Telos. What a great word! What a great concept! I think I love philosophy!

  230. Beelzebub
    May 12th, 2009 @ 3:35 am


    You’re so close. Isn’t it Occam’s razor operating to say that everything has a cause, life itself must have had a cause? And that eventually you will come to a point where there is one uncaused cause?

    I agree to a certain point. In many ways “God” is the simplest explanation for everything, except, of course, you’re left with attempting to explain God himself or itself, which is decidedly complicated. Christians solve this by saying that God just is, and is ultimately unknowable, mysterious and unpredictable. To put it another way, to buy the Occam’s Razor concession, Christians must become agnostics to a large extend regarding the central premise of their belief: God.

    A-gnosis: without knowledge.


    False. You were advocating for the superiority of science to other disciplines. Do I need to copy and paste the quotes?

    Alright, so I might have moved the goalposts a little. My belief is this: science is a formalism for representing exact knowledge. To my mind it trumps tradition and certainly superstitious humbug. Sorry, but when the pope says condoms are detrimental to the spread of AIDS in Africa and the CDC quickly refutes him, I’m going with the CDC. When rational explanation comes online where before there was only philosophical or theological supposition, reason should be ascendant.


    “So, basically, where’s that awesome Christian scorecard I’ve heard so much about?”
    Ah yes, so Christians not living up to the standard of Christ invalidates Christ? Does that mean if I steal something, that invalidates the anti-theft laws? We’re judging ideals by the people who fail to live up to them???

    No, you implied that a the only thing a science viewpoint would produced would be eugenics, genocide and their ilk. I’m just saying that Christian regency doesn’t guarantee a good outcome either.


    Oh please, you utter this in the same breath as when you ask to see the “Christian Track Record” and speak of “Christian Nazis”? Tell me, if you weren’t insinuating that “religion poisons everything”, then what did you mean when you wrote:
    “Looking at the state of things, perhaps it’s time religion lets someone else have a whack at it anyhow.”

    I meant the same thing I might mean when I look at statistics for Christian teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, domestic abuse and murder, that the Christian ethos doesn’t guarantee good outcome and that when I suggest that we should perhaps pursue other avenues of endeavor I don’t expect to be summarily dismissed.


    Does that not sound like the typical “religion seems to have failed” argument? Yep, sure does.

    You seem to have made that inference pretty easily. I wouldn’t go as far as to use the word “fail” but if theists took themselves down a notch or two, especially when derisively dismissing any kind of secular humanist solution, I can’t say I wouldn’t be relieved.


    “It could have been any number of other maths.”
    Like what, praytell?

    Here’s one on amazon.com and available at fine bookstores:
    http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Phase-Space-Scientific/dp/9812383840


    Oh, okay! I get it now. We’re going with the theory that people feel is simpler. So faced with the prospect of a super-string/ m-theory universe full of omni-dimensional spaces, colliding branes and the like, the truly scientific person would just plunk with the one easier to swallow: God did it. Works for me!

    See above, at my response to Mk’s comment.


    What does that imply that we’ve missed? It seems pretty clear to me. It also seems clear that you’re re-adjusting your opinion. If you had agreed with me earlier that science could inform moral prescriptions, and not said the above, then we’d be fine. But you didn’t. You said that science should be the “top dog”. Tell me, if the top dog doesn’t dictate the lower dogs, then what makes it a top dog?

    If scientific command of a subject grows to be definitive, it will trump any other moral prescription, IMO. If a week from now scientists send down a result saying that human personage cannot exists before 12 weeks, gives reasons for it, that anyone with sufficient education can understand and verify, and makes some attempt to explain it to the layperson, then it should be recognized, theists be damned. That’s my opinion. And the fact that there are theists who disagree is why science and religion will never reconcile.


    “Besides, are you calling Jesus a purveyor of asinine platitude? Shame on you.”
    Jesus said LOVE your neighbor as yourself. Within this context, he also said LOVE one another as I have LOVED you. And on top of this all, he said: Love your God with your whole heart.

    Sorry, but Jesus laid it down as asinine platitude (your description):

    Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)
    12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    Out of time for the moment.

  231. Beelzebub
    May 12th, 2009 @ 3:56 am

    One more thing because I can’t resist:

    Mk:
    “Tell me this. Why are flowers colorful? Seriously. Why are they bright, and beautiful and why do they smell so delicious?”

    Careful, you’re stepping perilously close to Hallmark Moment Cliff. My answer is I don’t know exactly. Perhaps flowers contain the same esters that fruits have and attract us to eat them, or attracted our ancestors. Humans and bees share the same visual spectrum and flowers must attract bees to distribute pollen. I mean, there are a lot of possibilities that are of quite natural origin.

  232. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 5:37 am

    BBUB,

    Sorry, but when the pope says condoms are detrimental to the spread of AIDS in Africa and the CDC quickly refutes him, I’m going with the CDC.

    Now that one cracks me up. It doesn’t matter what the pope says, or the CDC says. Science backs the pope. The “empirical” evidence shows that countries that use condoms to prevent the spread of aids, have more aids than countries that promote abstinence and marital chastity.

    Look at the numbers. Don’t look at whether they are a country that promotes condoms or chastity until AFTER you’ve looked at the numbers. Look at the countries with the highest success rate in stemming the spread of aids, and THEN see which method they promote. You’ll find that chastity trumps condoms every time.

  233. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

    Bbub,

    If scientific command of a subject grows to be definitive, it will trump any other moral prescription, IMO. If a week from now scientists send down a result saying that human personage cannot exists before 12 weeks, gives reasons for it, that anyone with sufficient education can understand and verify, and makes some attempt to explain it to the layperson, then it should be recognized, theists be damned. That’s my opinion. And the fact that there are theists who disagree is why science and religion will never reconcile.

    But that’s just it! It has NEVER happened. First off, it is not sciences job to define personhood. Only human life. All science could say is that the life growing inside of a woman, is of human origin. That is the question that science can answer.

    It CANNOT answer whether or not that life is worth saving, if that “life” equals personage, or if taking that life is right or wrong.

    It can tell us whether the life is sentient, viable, male or female…it can tell us what the accidents of human life are, but not the essentials. That is simply not it’s job.

    I don’t think you can give me a single example of where science has proclaimed something and the Catholic Church has refused to accept it. It won’t happen, because it can’t happen.

    Why? Because the Catholic Church is not in the business of making scientific declarations. Just as science is not in the business of making moral ones.

    There might be Catholic Scientists, but the two are not comparable. They might cooperate with each other but they do not rely on each other.

    It’s just like men and woman. They are equal in dignity yet different in reality. Part of the 21st centuries problem comes from a misunderstanding of this concept.

    Like trying to make science and religion identical, trying to make men and women identical is impossible.

    They can be equal, yet completely different. When we strive to eliminate those differences, making men women, and women men, or science religion and religion science, we render all of them impotent.

    It is only in recognizing each of their unique qualities and treating them as separate, but equal, that they are of any use to us whatsoever.

  234. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 5:59 am

    Bbub,

    Jesus said LOVE your neighbor as yourself. Within this context, he also said LOVE one another as I have LOVED you. And on top of this all, he said: Love your God with your whole heart.

    Does simplifying this law, make it any less true?

    We say what goes up, must come down. While that may sound like a platitude, it is basically a law of nature. It is a very profound insight, expressed in a simple way.

    So is the concept of Love one another as God loves us.

    I mean if Jesus had said “Go forth and be nice”, you’d have a point. What the heck is “nice” anyway? That would be a command that relied on subjectivity. THAT would be a platitude.

    But He said “love one another as I have loved you”, which is a much greater command. He set the example. To know what He means, you must study His life. How did He love? There is nothing simple, banal, obvious or trite in that statement. It might even be the most complicated sentence ever uttered.

  235. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:01 am

    And here is what the Catechism says about science and faith:

    39 In defending the ability of human reason to know God, the Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists.

    159 Faith and science : “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” (Dei Filius 4: DS 3017) “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (GS 36 ‘ 1)

    2293 Basic scientific research, as well as applied research, is a significant expression of man’s dominion over creation. Science and technology are precious resources when placed at the service of man and promote his integral development for the benefit of all. By themselves however they cannot disclose the meaning of existence and of human progress. Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits.

    2294 It is an illusion to claim moral neutrality in scientific research and its applications. On the other hand, guiding principles cannot be inferred from simple technical efficiency, or from the usefulness accruing to some at the expense of others or, even worse, from prevailing ideologies. Science and technology by their very nature require unconditional respect for fundamental moral criteria. They must be at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, of his true and integral good, in conformity with the plan and the will of God.

    2295 Research or experimentation on the human being cannot legitimate acts that are in themselves contrary to the dignity of persons and to the moral law. The subjects’ potential consent does not justify such acts. Experimentation on human beings is not morally legitimate if it exposes the subject’s life or physical and psychological integrity to disproportionate or avoidable risks. Experimentation on human beings does not conform to the dignity of the person if it takes place without the informed consent of the subject or those who legitimately speak for him.

    http://www.its.caltech.edu/~nmcenter/sci-cp/cat-sci.html

  236. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:11 am

    Bbub,

    I agree to a certain point. In many ways “God” is the simplest explanation for everything, except, of course, you’re left with attempting to explain God himself or itself, which is decidedly complicated. Christians solve this by saying that God just is, and is ultimately unknowable, mysterious and unpredictable. To put it another way, to buy the Occam’s Razor concession, Christians must become agnostics to a large extend regarding the central premise of their belief: God.

    Ohhhhh this is FUN! There was a chapter on this very thing in the Platypus book.

    This would be a paradox. In coming to the conclusion that God is the simplest answer you run into the problem of not being able to define or know God. The simplest answer (God) proves to be too complicated to understand.

    Here’s the examples the book gave…

    If a man tries to fail, and succeeds, which did he do?

    And

    True or false: “This sentence is false”.

  237. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:24 am

    B,
    Careful, you’re stepping perilously close to Hallmark Moment Cliff.

    Why? Don’t you think “beauty” is worth discussing? If beauty is always a utilitarian thing, then why do we recognize it? I think things like truth, beauty, love…are quite important to this discussion. They are things that make humans unique in the animal kingdom. Our ability to perceive beauty is one of the things that separates us from our lesser relatives. It is one of the things that argues for a soul. For something “more”.

    While there might be a utilitarian reason for flowers being pink, there is no utilitarian reason for us to be touched on an emotional level by them.

    I hesitate to dismiss this ability as trite. I think it speaks to the very heart of what makes humans, well, human.

  238. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:25 am

    Wow,

    I think I may have taken up more than my share of space…sorry.

  239. Lily
    May 12th, 2009 @ 8:06 am

    Oh dear.

    In many ways “God” is the simplest explanation for everything, except, of course, you’re left with attempting to explain God himself or itself, which is decidedly complicated. Christians solve this by saying that God just is, and is ultimately unknowable, mysterious and unpredictable. To put it another way, to buy the Occam’s Razor concession, Christians must become agnostics to a large extend regarding the central premise of their belief: God.

    This is exhibit I in any discussion of the need to know what informed believers actually believe. Let’s look at logic and see if we can untangle this:

    The existence of the supernatural is an inference, not an a priori assumption. It can be inferred from several different arguments. The cosmological argument, for example, demonstrates that something outside of the universe caused it to exist. It goes like this: 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause, 2. The universe began to exist, therefore 3. The universe had a cause. This is a deductive argument, so the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. If the premises are true, the conclusion is true also.

    The Big Bang theory empirically demonstrates the truth of premise #2. The truth of premise #1, while perhaps not empirically demonstrable, certainly appears to be true. How can something begin to exist uncaused out of nothing? Normally one can expect the atheist to object here that God must also have been caused. However, that is a faulty objection. God is postulated as an uncaused cause.

    It isn’t hard to see that there must have been some uncaused cause, since an infinite regress of causes is impossible or nothing would exist. We know that the universe itself was not uncaused, since it had a beginning. Only something with no beginning can be uncaused. So we’re at least to the point of recognizing that there must be something outside of the physical universe. What that something is another question.

    By itself, this argument does not tell us what the cause of the universe was. However, it is consistent with the Christian worldview of the universe being created by the will of an immensely powerful being that we refer to as God. As for infinite regression, this is bound to be a logical problem in any worldview.

    The atheist has no solution to offer other than to pick an arbitrary stopping point beyond which it can explain nothing. Theism doesn’t have this problem since its explanations go back to a being which is a necessary being. The existence of a necessary being is actually the only logical way to avoid an infinite regress.

  240. some random guy
    May 12th, 2009 @ 8:39 am

    To put it another way, to buy the Occam’s Razor concession, Christians must become agnostics to a large extend regarding the central premise of their belief: God.

    And this is somehow illogical? If we have finite minds and are finite beings, then doesn’t that necessarily mean we could never fully and completely understand and comprehend God? I think Christianity is fine with not knowing the infinite tangibly. Not quite the destructor you were counting on.

    “My belief is this: science is a formalism for representing exact knowledge.”

    Right, in the non-quantum sense. However, Philosophy is another such formalism. So is Mathematics. You can prove something exactly true in either one. Once again, our problem isn’t with Science, just this next part:

    “To my mind it trumps tradition and certainly superstitious humbug”

    You assume all religion to be superstitious humbug, and all philosophy supporting it as inferior to science, because it hasn’t been verified by science, and then point to the fact that it hasn’t been verified by science as the reason for discounting it as nonsense.

    Circle much?

    “When rational explanation comes online where before there was only philosophical or theological supposition, reason should be ascendant.”

    Oh good, more boilerplate! Now we have the usual false dichotomy between Faith and Reason. “Rational explanation is separate from, and replaces philosophy and theology. No philosopher has ever made a rational explanation before!!!”

    Step away from the Dawkins and Hitchens books.

    “No, you implied that a the only thing a science viewpoint would produced would be eugenics, genocide and their ilk. I’m just saying that Christian regency doesn’t guarantee a good outcome either.”

    No I implied that Science provides no moral compass. Therefore if we wipe out current morality to replace it with a science-driven mentality, then there’s nothing to stop us from eugenics. And historically speaking, when there’s nothing to stop an atrocity which would benefit the abuser at the expense of the abused… humans do that sort of thing.

    Again though, you make the same mistake as in your previous post. If all Christians lived like Christ, do you really doubt the world would be a better place? If every man was like a John Paul II and every woman a Mother Theresa, do you really think that things wouldn’t be a bit better?

    What similar exemplars of the scientific morality can be brought forward? Where is this scientific ethic? Where can I look up the teachings of the new church of scientific morality?

    “I meant the same thing I might mean when I look at statistics for Christian teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, domestic abuse and murder, that the Christian ethos doesn’t guarantee good outcome and that when I suggest that we should perhaps pursue other avenues of endeavor I don’t expect to be summarily dismissed.”

    Nope, you’re summarily dismissed again because you can’t seem to grasp that Christians who commit domestic abuse, murder etc aren’t living up to the Christian Ethos. It’s not the fault of the Religion if people don’t follow it. I mean really, what do you want us to do, force everyone to behave like Christ? Then you’d say “look at how oppressive that Christian religion is”… We just can’t win!

    “You seem to have made that inference pretty easily. I wouldn’t go as far as to use the word “fail” but if theists took themselves down a notch or two, especially when derisively dismissing any kind of secular humanist solution, I can’t say I wouldn’t be relieved.

    I really wish we could give the secular humanists of the world their own colony to test their grand theories. I’d give it about 5-10 years before it’d explode. But that’s speculation. My “inference”, however, was based on your text, tone and intentions. It was pretty easy to infer, because it was all right there on the page!

    Here’s one on amazon.com and available at fine bookstores:
    http://www.amazon.com/Quantum-Mechanics-Phase-Space-Scientific/dp/9812383840

    Fair enough, though it’s not quite what I meant by “other mathematical theories”. I was looking for a mathematical theory which was in contradiction to the uncertainty principle or something like that. Phase space versus hilbert space really doesn’t convince me that the math presented different physical theories.

    See above, at my response to Mk’s comment.

    Did. I still disagree.

    “If scientific command of a subject grows to be definitive, it will trump any other moral prescription, IMO. If a week from now scientists send down a result saying that human personage cannot exists before 12 weeks, gives reasons for it, that anyone with sufficient education can understand and verify, and makes some attempt to explain it to the layperson, then it should be recognized, theists be damned

    If musical command of a subject grows to be definitive, it will trump any other artistic prescription, IMO. If a week from now musicians send down a result saying that expression is only validly captured in music, gives reasons for it, that anyone with sufficient bias can understand and verify, and makes some attempt to explain it to the layperson, then it should be recognized, sculptors be damned.

    Yeah, that looks pretty much the same to me. You’re assuming what you need to prove to me. I, using a standard definition of science, don’t see how science can comment on personage, as MK illustrates. You haven’t proven otherwise, just shouted “Yes it can, theist!” a bunch of times. Saying Science can probe the supernatural a bunch of times doesn’t make it true.

    That’s my opinion. And the fact that there are theists who disagree is why science and religion will never reconcile.

    Scientists also disagree. Atheists also disagree. There are tons of religious scientists who disagree. The two can be reconciled, no matter how much you stamp your feet.

    “12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    Read it in context, Chief. The passage that comes before it describes how a good Father treats his Children, and draws the parallel between the Father’s actions and our own towards our neighbor. He then identifies God as the heavenly Father. The gist of it is that we are to treat others not only how we want, but how our Father treats us. The context is always within divine Love.

    Even if that weren’t the case, the “Love one another as I have loved you” context still reigns supreme, as it is not only a restatement of the law, but a fulfillment and fruition of it. For instance, say we were going to a restaurant and I asked you to get me a hamburger with pickles and ketchup while we were enroute. Once we got there, I ducked into the bathroom and say “Yeah, I want that hamburger”.

    Even though I didn’t mention the pickles and ketchup, I still want them, as it’s contained within the context of the hamburger I wanted, even though they’re separated by time. Same goes for God in this case. Even though he says the above as a summation of the law, the revelation contained in Christ is greater than the law and thus must be the context for any interpretation.

    In other words, yeah Christ said it was the summation of the law, but Christ also calls us beyond the law. He really intends much more than is meant by your parsing of the statement.

  241. some other random guy
    May 12th, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    “The atheist has no solution to offer other than to pick an arbitrary stopping point beyond which it can explain nothing.”

    This is not true. You are misunderstanding atheists if you are stating this. We do not need to offer explanations nor solutions. Even a simple, humble “we do not know” will suffice for our atheism, and our intellectual honesty forbids us to make any conclusion on the matter, as any person should do with a responsible method of epistemology.
    By the way, what the heck happened on this site? This is listed as Raving Atheist in Google, but this is a blog about pro-life issues. Is this a clever, albeit dishonest search-engine trick? Could somebody give me an update?

  242. JoAnna
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    SORG, the the Raving Atheist became the Raving Theist this past December. He was (and still is) pro-life.

  243. Lily
    May 12th, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

    SORG– I am afraid you are not correct. It would be excellent, if you were. While some atheists undoubtedly do have enough scientific understanding and intellectual integrity to admit that they do not know and that they cannot know it all, that has never been the case in the conversations I have been in with worshippers at the altar of science. The bad scientists and the scientist wannabes think they will know it all some day; the good ones admit it is highly unlikely. Hawkings is in this last group,by the way.

  244. frustrated (mk)
    May 12th, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

    Bbub,

    “I meant the same thing I might mean when I look at statistics for Christian teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, domestic abuse and murder, that the Christian ethos doesn’t guarantee good outcome and that when I suggest that we should perhaps pursue other avenues of endeavor I don’t expect to be summarily dismissed.”

    Mozart wrote beautiful music. But that is no guarantee that everyone who plays it will play it equally well. I’d wager to say that some might even play it poorly. But this has no bearing on whether or not Mozart was a great musician.

    Christianity, more specifically, Jesus’ way, is a beautiful philosophy and then some…but that is no guarantee that everyone who follows it will follow it well. I’d wager to say that some might even follow it poorly. But this has no bearing on whether or not what Jesus taught is good and true.

    You ARE right in this. If the only Mozart you ever heard was played by a tone deaf pianist, who can’t read music and has no sense of timing, you might very well think that Mozart was an awful composer.

    If the only Christians you knew were those that claimed to be Christian while stealing, lying and kicking dogs you might very well walk away believing that Christianity was a really lousy religion.

    However, if you were a musician with a good understanding of music, you could easily tell that the composer was not at fault, and that Mozart was an excellent maker of music, in spite of the guy trashing the piece you were hearing.

    Just as if you knew the Catholic faith, you would understand that Jesus knew His stuff and was not at fault when His “followers” behaved like buffoons. You would know that the faith itself was awesome, in spite of the guy that steals candy from babies.

  245. Beelzebub
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:32 am

    Look at the numbers. Don’t look at whether they are a country that promotes condoms or chastity until AFTER you’ve looked at the numbers. Look at the countries with the highest success rate in stemming the spread of aids, and THEN see which method they promote. You’ll find that chastity trumps condoms every time.

    As would be expected, if within countries where abstinence and faithfulness are promoted successfully AIDS incidence decreases, I think that’s great. I still don’t agree with the Pope’s pronouncement that the presence of condoms is creating some kind of moral hazard. I don’t see convincing proof that promiscuity is being caused by a false sense of security, and even if it were, I can’t see how denying condom availability could be considered a morally correct act. In the simplest scenarios, a husband and wife pair wherein one partner is infected should be provided condoms; the wife of a promiscuous husband should be provided condoms, etc. Instances like these outline the inherent immorality of making the kind of sweeping generalizations the Pope did — he has a responsibility not to do it. To me his statement was negligent, even if abstinence/fidelity has met with good success.


    They can be equal, yet completely different. When we strive to eliminate those differences, making men women, and women men, or science religion and religion science, we render all of them impotent.

    It’s a relief to hear you say it. I’ve visited blogs that ardently maintain the idea that our biological differences are tantamount to inequality on any transcendent level.


    Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason.

    An interesting statement. I’d like to see how RG handles it — hypocrisy free.


    Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.

    This is a pretty confident statement, and I wonder how well it will stand up to the test of time. As the Galileo story showed us, religion and science will never conflict as long as religion tactfully adjusts its position when the juggernaut of human knowledge threatens to steamroll it. What happens, for instance, if brain science completes its elucidation of consciousness without ever revealing the soul? Is that going to be just another piece of church doctrine jettisoned when it becomes a little too inconvenient? Also, there’s a strong tautology here — because theists are insistent that science cannot address the supernatural, it’s already a given that religion and science can’t conflict. Brilliant. Let’s say we have a fertilized egg. The church says it has a soul; science says nothing like that has been detected, you might as well have just made it up. The church says, nevertheless it’s there, it’s outside science, and you should probably take our word for it because there’s no conflict and you’re powerless to say we’re wrong. I can’t say there‘s an inconsistency here, but then tautologies are always self-consistent, by definition.


    If a man tries to fail, and succeeds, which did he do?
    And
    True or false: “This sentence is false”.

    I don’t get how the paradoxes relate to Occam’s Razor.


    While there might be a utilitarian reason for flowers being pink, there is no utilitarian reason for us to be touched on an emotional level by them.

    You’re assuming that emotional response is innate and not learned via culture. Can you be certain that if you were completely flower-naïve that you’d link they were beautiful when you saw them first?


    How can something begin to exist uncaused out of nothing? Normally one can expect the atheist to object here that God must also have been caused. However, that is a faulty objection. God is postulated as an uncaused cause.

    And that doesn’t have an element of agnosticism in it?


    No I implied that Science provides no moral compass. Therefore if we wipe out current morality to replace it with a science-driven mentality, then there’s nothing to stop us from eugenics. And historically speaking, when there’s nothing to stop an atrocity which would benefit the abuser at the expense of the abused… humans do that sort of thing.

    Why isn’t the rest of the animal kingdom ripping itself to shreds, hmmm? Even wolves take care of their young with tenderness. I doubt they’re following moral law. Why don’t birds kick their eggs out of the nest or dogs eat their pups?


    Again though, you make the same mistake as in your previous post. If all Christians lived like Christ, do you really doubt the world would be a better place? If every man was like a John Paul II and every woman a Mother Theresa, do you really think that things wouldn’t be a bit better?

    Well, I haven’t read “The Missionary Position” yet, but…

    But you’re missing MY point repeatedly. My beef isn’t against virtuous Christians, it’s against the claim that Christendom has a corner on the good behavior market.


    What similar exemplars of the scientific morality can be brought forward? Where is this scientific ethic? Where can I look up the teachings of the new church of scientific morality?

    You can’t yet. So in the mean time we’re stuck with Windows 98, Christian moral ethic.


    I really wish we could give the secular humanists of the world their own colony to test their grand theories. I’d give it about 5-10 years before it’d explode.

    This is often held as indictment against secular humanism, that we’re all a bunch of crypto-Christians anyway, or at least moral parasites operating off its tenets. Perhaps true for the time being. Again, we’re all in thrall of Windows 98 until a better OS gets written.


    Read it in context, Chief. The passage that comes before it describes how a good Father treats his Children, and draws the parallel between the Father’s actions and our own towards our neighbor. He then identifies God as the heavenly Father. The gist of it is that we are to treat others not only how we want, but how our Father treats us. The context is always within divine Love.

    Of course, that’s how you like to interpret it. Christians always want to tie everything back to God. It’s not enough that perhaps we can find a working axiom to build something like a moral system without absolute antecedent. To you, this is magical conjuring and a little dangerous, and perhaps the workings of the Evil One. How about if it’s just what it appears to be: a sound precept from which good things, happiness, peace tranquility, come? The problem is your basic mistrust of humanity, reinforced by the stories of religion. Because there are evil men you conclude that people, in general, are not good. Therefore anything originating from humanity is tainted, like the creature itself.

  246. Beelzebub
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:45 am

    Christianity, more specifically, Jesus’ way, is a beautiful philosophy and then some…

    My knowledge of the account of JC isn’t complete enough for me to conclude that he was 100% “Okay.” As a preliminary statement I’d just like to say that “my way or the highway” has never struck me as an overriding dictum of merit. The notion that this make me “disobedient” just raises further red flags.

  247. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 6:00 am

    Bbub,

    The church says it has a soul; science says nothing like that has been detected, you might as well have just made it up. The church says, nevertheless it’s there, it’s outside science, and you should probably take our word for it because there’s no conflict and you’re powerless to say we’re wrong. I can’t say there‘s an inconsistency here, but then tautologies are always self-consistent, by definition.

    Let’s stick with Mozart. Billions of people think his music is brilliant. Can science prove it? If it cannot, do you have the same problem? I mean, we might as well have just made it up! People say, nevertheless, Mozart is a great composer, and you are powerless to say they are wrong.

    Why isn’t the rest of the animal kingdom ripping itself to shreds, hmmm? Even wolves take care of their young with tenderness. I doubt they’re following moral law. Why don’t birds kick their eggs out of the nest or dogs eat their pups?

    By definition, morality is only morality if you can CHOOSE. Animals can’t choose. They are programmed to do what they do. They don’t DECIDE to take care of their young. The MUST take care of their young, thus animals (other than the human kind) are incapable of morality or immorality.

    If a man tries to fail, and succeeds, which did he do?
    And
    True or false: “This sentence is false”.

    I don’t get how the paradoxes relate to Occam’s Razor.

    They don’t. You said that while the simplest answer (Occam’s Razor) might be to say that God is at the center of it all, God Himself is NOT simple. Thus, we have a paradox. The answer is both very simple and yet the answer itself is incomprehensible. The simplest answer cannot be understood, thus it ceases to be simple.

    You’re assuming that emotional response is innate and not learned via culture. Can you be certain that if you were completely flower-naïve that you’d link they were beautiful when you saw them first?

    I can know that cultures for 6 million years have found flowers beautiful…from the simplest to the most complex, cultures across the board recognize beauty.
    Therefore the understanding of beauty must come from within and not without. Something inside of us, something innate, allows us to recognize beauty in spite of a thing lacking any utilitarian purpose.

    While it is possible that we are culturally programmed to like roses, it is not possible that we are culturally programmed to BE ABLE to like roses. The appreciation of beauty is a singularly human trait.

    And that doesn’t have an element of agnosticism in it?

    Not if you use the word agnosticism correctly. While translated literally it means “not known” it was coined to describe spiritual and metaphysical beliefs. To use it to describe mundane things, I believe, is a misuse of the word. However, it is true that we do not KNOW everything. We never claimed to know everything, no do we believe that we need to know everything.

    Of course, that’s how you like to interpret it. Christians always want to tie everything back to God.

    Ya think? Lol. Sorry, but taken on it’s own, that statement is hilarious. I couldn’t help myself.

    The problem is your basic mistrust of humanity, reinforced by the stories of religion. Because there are evil men you conclude that people, in general, are not good. Therefore anything originating from humanity is tainted, like the creature itself.

    We don’t think humans are bad. That was a heresy that was thrown out centuries ago. We do believe that there is a set of laws, (read Natural Law) that humans were created to live by. We believe that these laws can be discovered, not invented. We believe that as with any other thing God created, we work best when acting the way we were meant to act.

    Cells are meant to act a certain way. Sometimes they don’t and people die of cancer. But when they work the way they were intended, people live long healthy lives.

    Cells are not “bad”. They just are. Humans are not bad. They just are. They do, however have the potential to be good, simply by following the instruction manual that came with them… ;) And the potential to be bad, by ignoring it.

    I understand that you wish you could make up your own instruction manual, and not have to rely on a single Christian tenet, but that is like throwing out the baby with the bath water. How do you build a civilization without using a single Christian moral law? Whether you acknowledge that these laws are specifically Christian or not, surely you acknowledge that they are beneficial and common sensical!

  248. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 6:05 am

    Bbub,

    The problem is your basic mistrust of humanity, reinforced by the stories of religion. Because there are evil men you conclude that people, in general, are not good. Therefore anything originating from humanity is tainted, like the creature itself.

    Isn’t that exactly what you are doing with Christianity?

    The problem is your basic mistrust of Christians, reinforced by the stories of non-religion. Because there are evil Christians you conclude that Christians, in general, are not good. Therefore anything originating from Christianity is tainted, like the bad Christians themself.

  249. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 6:15 am

    Bbub,

    My knowledge of the account of JC isn’t complete enough for me to conclude that he was 100% “Okay.” As a preliminary statement I’d just like to say that “my way or the highway” has never struck me as an overriding dictum of merit. The notion that this make me “disobedient” just raises further red flags.

    Do you brush your teeth? Wear clothes? Eat healthy foods. If you don’t, your teeth will rot, you’ll get arrested and you’ll die of rickets! If you got malaria, would you take quinine tablets?

    My point is that when something is “right”, you do it. And yet I could say that these things are “My way or the highway” concepts.

    Brush your teeth. My way or the highway. Damn dentist.
    Wear clothes. My way or the highway. Stupid society.
    Eat Healthy food. My way or the highway. Assisnine nutritionists.
    Take quinine. My way or the highway. Pain in the ass doctors.

    My point is that when something is right, you don’t refuse to do it because it’s the right way or the highway.

    Yet you seem content to do this with God’s laws. Do not murder. Do not steal. Love one another as God loves you.
    All my way or the highway scenarios. Are you telling me that you refuse to refrain from murder and theft, simply because you view them as ultimatums? That you will not love your neighbor, on the principal that God can’t tell you what to do?

    My three year old granddaughter does that. Sometimes she won’t do what I tell her, precisely BECAUSE, and ONLY because I told her to do it.

    The point is that you probably follow God’s law, naturally. You might not admit that it IS God’s law, but you most likely recognize that it is GOOD law. So you follow it, in spite of it being God’s law. In spite of the fact that you think you MUST.

    It’s not like God just made up these laws to irritate you. He made them because by following them, our lives will be enhanced and we will become the best “we” that we can. It is for our own benefit, that these laws were fashioned. Why would you refuse to acknowledge or follow them, simply because someone else made them?

  250. some other random guy
    May 13th, 2009 @ 6:24 am

    “Lily”: You will need to understand your anecdotal experience with scientists is not representative of even normal thinking. Let us not even get into the realm of science then; clear, normal reasoning dictates that our limited knowledge of anything (or somethings) leaves us, at best, to conclude “we don’t know for sure”, “we can’t say for sure”, “we can’t confirm or deny”, hence the position I (we) take is atheism. It is a position of “I do not know”.

    Some of us take the positive position of “it / gods definitely do not exist”. I cannot really agree with this mode of thinking as it cannot be 100% confirmed, even though the evidence “strongly suggests” this position far more than “it / gods definitely exist”. There is no evidence whatsoever to confirm the existence of any deities. The evidence we do have, in fact, point strongly away from this conclusion. So we can only choose from 3 positions:

    1) We DO know it exists.
    2) We know it DOES NOT exist.
    3) We do not know.

    Two out of three equals atheism, or, if you wish, a sort of agnosticism. On what basis or evidence or deductive reasoning are you a theist then? So much so that you can confidently, honestly and accurately claim option one? And I, who has made my life revolve around integrity of truth and evidence, somehow missed that? If, however, you do not claim any evidence or positive claim, but simply “faith”, then I accept it as such and we have nothing to talk about further. We will simply not ever be on the same level of conversation.

    “JoAnna”: I have read some of the previous blogs, thank you. As an atheist I would be fascinated why he has taken this position. You can imagine how valuable this conversion story would be for atheists and theists alike. Surely you would like to know too? I now remembered his input on the “Jesus never existed” film, and I would really, really like to understand on what basis such a change would occur.

  251. Lily
    May 13th, 2009 @ 6:46 am

    SORG– You may be amused to know that you are a breath of fresh air in some ways. Yours is not the default position by any means. At this point in my life my opinions are hardly anecdotal, however they are mostly informed by arguing over the years with aheists on internet forums which is a sort of limit in itself.

    My comment in 162 prettty much sums up comprehensively where I stand. The backing and forthing between Bbub and Some Random Guy (starting at 195 or so) has been really instructive on the Science v Faith angle with incredibly interesting insights thrown in by Frustrated (mk) and me (I hope you stick around but I can see trouble trying to keep you two straight. When I read in your first post “I am an atheist, I practically had a heart attack).

  252. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 7:45 am

    SORG,
    normal reasoning dictates that our limited knowledge of anything (or somethings) leaves us, at best, to conclude “we don’t know for sure”, “we can’t say for sure”, “we can’t confirm or deny”, hence the position I (we) take is atheism. It is a position of “I do not know”.

    And normal reasoning dictates to us, that from personal experience, scripture, historical accounts, etc., our limited knowledge of anything leaves us, at best, to conclude that while we cannot KNOW, we do BELIEVE. I think this is just as reasonable and viable an option as atheism. Neither can be proved, nor disproved. Only approved. It’s the glass half empty or half full dilemma. It’s all how you look at it.

  253. some other random guy
    May 13th, 2009 @ 9:40 am

    No, Frustrated (mk), your epistemology is faulty. I have made it clear that any specific conclusions either in favour of “strong” atheism (gods definitely do not exist) or theism (one or more gods definitely exist) is equally invalid. Most atheists do not need to go as far as claiming no gods exist. Simply occupying the default position will suffice.

    Your assertion that your position is as reasonable and viable as atheism tells me you either do not understand atheism, or we have a problem of definition what reasonable means between you and I.

    We have no “position”. You cannot judge something as reasonable or unreasonable if no claim has been made.
    We do not “make” any existential claims.
    We do not need to “prove” anything.

    As I have said to Lily, if your reason is “belief”, our discussion on the subject will be fruitless. In general “belief” is by definition without an acknowledged, reason-based epistemology and hence immune to reason and logic. I guess this is why Lily would be frustrated by dialogue with other atheists – it is often not the content that is at issue, but two different world-views of knowledge, differing of integrity of “truth” and intellectual honesty. What makes it even more complex, is that theists would genuinely believe and claim the same about their position as “truth” and “honest”.

    I came here for a search of knowledge about a unique event: I have rarely, if ever, come across a conversion of a well-informed atheist to theist. I have a respect of knowledge and the sanctity of truth (wherever she may leads), and the reasons for this conversion could’ve guided myself and many atheists looking for information about this topic. Yet, even as Raving Theist, it is misleading. There is no “raving” of theism here whatsoever. This is a pro-life blog site. This is not even an issue that divides atheists and theists.
    As a potential source of amazing new information or insights there is nothing for either atheists or theists to learn here.

    What a monumental shame.

  254. Lily
    May 13th, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    We have heard all this before, sorg. If you want to inform yourself better, you need to take some time to read what we have written (you do not understand where we stand at all. You are making tremendous assumptions. Again, I have pointed to some helpful posts just in this thread alone). While most of us don’t mind repeating ourselves, it would be gracious for you, the newcomer, to take some time to figure out who we are and what we actually believe before repeating the same old same old.

    Oh– and atheist conversions are far more frequent than you know. When you start looking, it is quite amazing. So much so that we are always told “Well, you weren’t a true atheist to begin with”. I have heard it said to me, RA hears it and so can umpteen hundreds/thousands/hundreds of thousands (?) of other happy former atheists.

  255. some random guy
    May 13th, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

    ”I don’t see convincing proof that promiscuity is being caused by a false sense of security, and even if it were, I can’t see how denying condom availability could be considered a morally correct act.”

    We (the Pope included) aren’t arguing that promiscuity is being primarily caused by a false sense of security (caused in turn by condoms). What we’re saying, and the statistics back this up (see above, which is where I originally entered the fray) is that condoms are not an effective solution to curtailing the spread of disease in Africa. What we’re faced with is a contagion spread most efficiently through sex. Condoms do not present a 100% foolproof solution as they are not 100% effective. Therefore, unless the culture of promiscuity is checked, the disease will continue to spread, albeit at a slower rate. Thus, given enough time, the populace will be infected.

    The problem with condoms (moral basis of the sex act aside) is that people don’t understand how probability works. If we take each contracepted sex act as a statistically independent act, then the probability of surviving 100 such acts without infection shows considerable decay. Eventually that function will tend to zero. However, because people don’t understand this, they mistakenly think that condoms give suitable protection to have sex time and time again. Thus, it leads to a false sense of security. Condoms don’t cause the fire, but they certainly act as secondary fuel. The solution is abstinence on the part of the infected. This is usually where people throw fits. Tell me, how is it morally correct for someone infected with a deadly virus to deliberately engage in an activity which not only spreads the virus, but does so in an alarmingly efficient fashion? It’s just not morally responsible. It’s like me buying you a Kevlar vest and then proceeding to shoot you repeatedly in the chest for sport. How is that moral or sensible?

    “An interesting statement. I’d like to see how RG handles it — hypocrisy free.”

    Well, it matters to know what MK means when she says Faith is Superior. I think she means in the sense of Teleology, in which case she’s right. In other words, if the Christian worldview is true, then Faith is the was we reach our eternal goal and respond to God, and therefore has a higher teleological value than reason. (Reason isn’t the tool used to get into heaven). However, it we’re considering which is “superior” in the sense of solving a Math problem… Reason “wins”. However… you’d likely deny the teleological importance, and thus say that faith is useless. I think this is premature, as it is often “reasonable” to act on faith in a non-theological sense, even when circumstances warrant no cut and dry logical evidence to support such actions.

    For instance, I took it on faith that the elevator cable wouldn’t snap as I rode to my office this morning. I didn’t observe the elevator and take measurements. I didn’t even calculate the probability of such a disaster and take the elevator after concluding it was low. I just got in and assumed it would work. Second example: My coworker told me he had eggs for breakfast. I don’t need to validate it or cultivate a report on his honesty. I just assume he’s telling the truth. Much of ancient history is built on this kind of faith, the faith that the historians aren’t misinterpreting and aren’t lying. Third example: My friend tells me to meet him at the train station at a certain time. I show up and meet him, having faith that he’ll be there. There’s no rational reason to assume he has to be there. He could get delayed, or cancel or any such thing. But I still go. Thus, I think even a non-teleological view of faith can sometimes be “superior” to reason, most easily evidenced in personal, day to day interactions. Just as reason can sometimes be “superior” to faith in terms of problem solving. In certain situations, one is “superior” to the other, like in science, reason is “superior” to faith, but that doesn’t really give you any ground in terms of your false dichotomy between the two.

    “As the Galileo story showed us, religion and science will never conflict as long as religion tactfully adjusts its position when the juggernaut of human knowledge threatens to steamroll it”

    Oy. Historical Massacre. Which Doctrine was dropped because of Galileo again?

    “What happens, for instance, if brain science completes its elucidation of consciousness without ever revealing the soul?”

    Well then we simply point out that the soul is not contained within consciousness. We do believe people still have souls when they’re unconscious, you know… Heck, even after they die too…

    “because theists are insistent that science cannot address the supernatural, it’s already a given that religion and science can’t conflict.”

    Woah there buddy! We said science and religion don’t necessarily conflict in general. Specific religions can and do contradict science. Just typically not the High Church Christian ones. There’s a big difference between me contradicting you in saying the two are irreconcilable, and that they can’t conflict. If my religion made a scientific claim, like say “the universe revolves around the earth” and declares that dogma, then science can contradict it, and should. (PS before you go off on a rant: The Church never held heliocentricity as dogma, just the scientific opinion of the day.)

    However, science is still powerless to probe the supernatural, and also powerless to concoct an ethical framework.

    Why isn’t the rest of the animal kingdom ripping itself to shreds, hmmm? Even wolves take care of their young with tenderness. I doubt they’re following moral law. Why don’t birds kick their eggs out of the nest or dogs eat their pups?

    Probably for the same reason that they’re not painting frescos and posting on blogs. Could it be that there’s a difference between man and animal? I think MK nails this one. You have to have a will to follow the moral law.

    (PPS some animals do eat their young. Let’s not base our morality on “what other animals do”…)

    “And that doesn’t have an element of agnosticism in it?”

    Why are you so afraid of agnosticism? Christians never claim to know everything. We’re quite comfortable with saying I don’t know and then attempting to figure it out later.

    “My beef isn’t against virtuous Christians, it’s against the claim that Christendom has a corner on the good behavior market.”

    ‘Kay. No-one said it was.

    “You can’t yet. So in the mean time we’re stuck with Windows 98, Christian moral ethic.”

    So if there is no Science-ethics… who gets to write it? Where does it come from? Do I get a say because I’m a scientist?

    “Of course, that’s how you like to interpret it. Christians always want to tie everything back to God.”

    Go figure, it’s like the Bible is a book about God or something. I like to interpret it in the way the Church likes to interpret it. Which is the way it should be interpreted, as it’s our book.

    But seriously, don’t turn to relativism to make a point. It’s not pretty.

    “It’s not enough that perhaps we can find a working axiom to build something like a moral system without absolute antecedent. To you, this is magical conjuring and a little dangerous, and perhaps the workings of the Evil One.

    No, it’s just not logically consistent. Reason dictates it’s impossible.

    “How about if it’s just what it appears to be: a sound precept from which good things, happiness, peace tranquility, come?”

    If it’s just an idea or concept, then it has no binding authority. Therefore, it it makes me happy or benefits me, I’m free to discard it.

    “The problem is your basic mistrust of humanity, reinforced by the stories of religion. Because there are evil men you conclude that people, in general, are not good. Therefore anything originating from humanity is tainted, like the creature itself”

    Where did I conclude people are not good? All I conclude is that people make mistakes and poor decisions. People also do evil things from time to time. Please show me how you even need religion to see this?

    In other words: What planet are you from?

    “As a preliminary statement I’d just like to say that “my way or the highway” has never struck me as an overriding dictum of merit.”

    So I guess you’re not a big fan of the US legal system. They pretty much insist that you follow the law or be punished. Hmmm….

  256. some random guy
    May 13th, 2009 @ 1:41 pm

    “Your assertion that your position is as reasonable and viable as atheism tells me you either do not understand atheism, or we have a problem of definition what reasonable means between you and I.”

    Actually um… er… “other random guy”, I get the sense that you’re muddy-ing the waters a little.

    Theism means belief in God, savvy?

    I think we both agree on that.

    Yet you seem to be implying that A-theism somehow includes what’s typically referred to as Agnosticism.

    I don’t accept this definition. Atheism both implies and literally means “Without belief in God”. Agnosticism claims your honorable “I don’t know” and says “there could be or couldn’t be”.

    The two are not to be absorbed into eachother, as they are different viewpoints. To say “I don’t know” is a different animal than “there is no”.

    So naturally I disagree with the following:

    “Two out of three equals atheism, or, if you wish, a sort of agnosticism.

    Just as much as you presumably would if I had said “Two out of three equals theism”.

    “There is no evidence whatsoever to confirm the existence of any deities. The evidence we do have, in fact, point strongly away from this conclusion.”

    That sounds like a grandiose claim. What evidence would that be again? And what would you consider to be this “evidence” that you seek?

    “And I, who has made my life revolve around integrity of truth and evidence, somehow missed that?”

    Well I certainly hope you’re not claiming omniscience here… Surely there are things you don’t know???

    “I have a respect of knowledge and the sanctity of truth (wherever she may leads)”

    Yay! Just thought I’d throw that in there…

    “There is no “raving” of theism here whatsoever. This is a pro-life blog site. This is not even an issue that divides atheists and theists.”

    As happy as I am to hear that last sentence, I would ask you to give RT some time. Big life changes take time to cope with, and plus, in the case of Atheist to Christian or vice versa conversion, I’m sure the individual wants to spend some time mulling the change before claiming the mantel of authority and telling their story.

    Just sayin’… We’s people, not robots.

  257. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

    SRG,

    Actually um… er… “other random guy”, I get the sense that you’re muddy-ing the waters a little.

    Theism means belief in God, savvy?

    I think we both agree on that.

    Yet you seem to be implying that A-theism somehow includes what’s typically referred to as Agnosticism.

    Thank you. I was getting a little worried there. I was pretty sure that atheism was an absence of belief while agnosticism was refusal to commit one way or the other.

    Again, it’s the glass half full/half empty thingy.

    I look at the glass and say there is enough evidence to convince me that the truth can be known with some certainty, and SORG looks and the glass and determines that the lack of evidence seals the deal, and that no God exists. An agnostic looks at the glass and says 1/2 ain’t enough, I’m not convinced!

    All three views can be seen as reasonable. However all three views cannot be accepted as truth. Only one can be right. If anything, the agnostic seems to me to be the most reasonable, tho somewhat cowardly, as his options remain open.

    Reasonably, I, a theist, see evidence that convinces me. An atheist does not see evidence that convinces him, yet cannot explain away the evidence that DOES exist. So while I make a leap of faith, the atheist dismisses that which is staring him in the face, calling it nonsense. To me, dismissing evidence out of hand as wishful thinking is unreasonable.

    I’d be curious to hear the “reasons” for claiming that the Gospel writers, eyewitnesses and historians are all out of their mind or have been totally duped.

  258. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

    Some Random Guy,

    I hate when I screw up the italics…let’s try that again!

    Actually um… er… “other random guy”, I get the sense that you’re muddy-ing the waters a little.

    Theism means belief in God, savvy?

    I think we both agree on that.

    Yet you seem to be implying that A-theism somehow includes what’s typically referred to as Agnosticism.

    Thank you. I was getting a little worried there. I was pretty sure that atheism was an absence of belief while agnosticism was refusal to commit one way or the other.

    Again, it’s the glass half full/half empty thingy.

    I look at the glass and say there is enough evidence to convince me that the truth can be known with some certainty, and SORG looks and the glass and determines that the lack of evidence seals the deal, and that no God exists. An agnostic looks at the glass and says 1/2 ain’t enough, I’m not convinced!

    All three views can be seen as reasonable. However all three views cannot be accepted as truth. Only one can be right. If anything, the agnostic seems to me to be the most reasonable, tho somewhat cowardly, as his options remain open.

    Reasonably, I, a theist, see evidence that convinces me. An atheist does not see evidence that convinces him, yet cannot explain away the evidence that DOES exist. So while I make a leap of faith, the atheist dismisses that which is staring him in the face, calling it nonsense. To me, dismissing evidence out of hand as wishful thinking is unreasonable.

    I’d be curious to hear the “reasons” for claiming that the Gospel writers, eyewitnesses and historians are all out of their mind or have been totally duped.

  259. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

    Sorg,

    1) We DO know it exists.
    2) We know it DOES NOT exist.
    3) We do not know.

    You dismiss me because I use the word faith. But this is exactly the conversation we have been having with Bbub.

    Acceptance of God IS faith based. We have already acknowledged that His existence cannot be empirically proven. But that is because empirical methods are useless. God is not an empirical being. You can no more empirically prove that God exists than you can empirically prove that Mozart was a great composer or that I love my husband. You cannot empirically prove things that do not exist in the empirical world. So to claim that I fall back on that old standby, faith, is silly. Of course I fall back on faith. God is not something you PROVE, He is someone you BELIEVE in.

    Yet you CAN come to believe in Him through reason. Not proof, but REASON.

    So I turn the tables on you and say there are three choices.

    1. You BELIEVE that God does NOT exist.
    2. You BELIEVE that God does exist.
    3. You BELIEVE that you cannot know.

    Well, 3 is obvious. We CANNOT know. Duh. Hence, we believe. If you have a problem with that, then you have less understanding of faith, then I have of atheism.

    Also, I would change 1. to 1.a and 1.b as you seem to draw a distinction between believing God does not exist and not believing that God does exist.

    1. You believe God DOES NOT exist.
    1a.You do not BELIEVE that God exists.
    2. You BELIEVE that God does exist.
    3. You believe nothing, either way.

  260. Lily
    May 13th, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Boy, some people sure have a lot of faith in … reason! If reason is not God-given, then it (whatever “it” is) evolved– presumably blindly. I wonder what then makes it a reliable source of real knowledge? How do we determine that it is real knowledge and not just some neuron firing blindly?

    Wait! I know. By the use of reason.

    Oh.

  261. frustrated (mk)
    May 13th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Lily,

    :)

  262. Beelzebub
    May 14th, 2009 @ 2:11 am

    Tell me, how is it morally correct for someone infected with a deadly virus to deliberately engage in an activity which not only spreads the virus, but does so in an alarmingly efficient fashion? It’s just not morally responsible. It’s like me buying you a Kevlar vest and then proceeding to shoot you repeatedly in the chest for sport. How is that moral or sensible?

    It’s not moral or sensible, it’s also a false framing of the problem. My sympathies aren’t with the promiscuous long-haul truck driver so much as with his as-yet uninfected wife. There is, of course, no reason to think she will be able to apply the condom to her husband with any degree of certainty. In many parts of Africa condom use appears to be manifestly unpopular with men, since it blunts sexual pleasure. However, denying free access to them is like placing these women before a firing squad without your Kevlar vest. It is simply not moral to deny a tool that women can use to protect themselves. If you attempt to advance the idea that women in these circumstances should be able to say NO to their husbands’ claims to sex-due, I’d couldn’t agree more. The status of women should be elevated in all these nations. In the mean time women will become infected by promiscuous partners where condoms, not 100% effect though they may be, might have protected them.

    Heliocentrism was what the CC battled. That the Earth was the center of the universe was its dogma, which it abandoned only when it became logically untenable. Technically heliocentric isn’t true either, since Sol is in no way “the center of the universe.”


    And that doesn’t have an element of agnosticism in it?”
    Why are you so afraid of agnosticism? Christians never claim to know everything. We’re quite comfortable with saying I don’t know and then attempting to figure it out later.

    I’m not afraid of agnosticism, in fact, we’re all agnostics whether we like it or not. None of us is omniscient. We’re all agnostics, and I’d insist that this is true on any subject. Faith is not knowledge; it’s belief. Neither you nor I “know” anything for sure. You don’t “know” your religion is true, and I don’t “know” it’s false. Weighing incomplete evidence, you “believe” it’s true. The gap between incomplete evidence and belief is what you call faith — actually it’s what I call it too. But neither of us “know” anything. We’re agnostics, whether we realize it or not. A person who specifically identifies himself with agnosticism is simply smart enough to declare the honest truth.


    “As a preliminary statement I’d just like to say that “my way or the highway” has never struck me as an overriding dictum of merit.”
    So I guess you’re not a big fan of the US legal system. They pretty much insist that you follow the law or be punished. Hmmm….

    That’s a good point, but at least I have a modicum of say in how the legal system comes down on me. If I don’t like it, I can lobby to change it. To an extent it’s my law too. The law of JC is arbitrary authority, which is fine if 1) he has the right to it (which, apparently he does, if you believe the bible), and 2) he metes out perfect justice. Let’s just say No 2 is highly suspect in my mind. The analogy also fails since I can choose to not live under US jurisprudence. God’s Law appears to be mandatory. Forcing people to live under a certain legal requirement is what tyranny is all about.

  263. Beelzebub
    May 14th, 2009 @ 2:22 am


    Boy, some people sure have a lot of faith in … reason! If reason is not God-given, then it (whatever “it” is) evolved– presumably blindly. I wonder what then makes it a reliable source of real knowledge? How do we determine that it is real knowledge and not just some neuron firing blindly?
    Wait! I know. By the use of reason.
    Oh.

    You might as well ask why we have the conscious experience that we do and not the altered state of being people can know when they’re on LSD. Why aren’t we born on LSD and require drugs to know the normal experience that we usually have? The evolutionary answer is that our minds, like those of other animals, have evolved to optimize survival, and they do that by modeling reality. To model reality you must be able to derived truth from truth, that is, you must be able to reason. Can you be on LSD and still reason? Apparently not as effectively as when normal, at least when it comes to evading lions. In my opinion this is a prime reason to believe that how our minds normally apprehend reality is the most accurate way possible, and altered states, though they may be informative, do not provide as much information.

  264. frustrated (mk)
    May 14th, 2009 @ 5:49 am

    Bbub,

    Heliocentrism was what the CC battled. That the Earth was the center of the universe was its dogma, which it abandoned only when it became logically untenable. Technically heliocentric isn’t true either, since Sol is in no way “the center of the universe.”

    Wrong on two counts. 1, You’ve misused the word Dogma. The church has no “Dogma” on scientific matters, which is what SRG has been trying to tell you for days now. And 2, we keep pointing out to you that it was Copernicus, a CATHOLIC that first came up with heliocentricity, and that the Church had NO Problem with it. EVER. They DID have a problem with Galileo jumping the gun on announcing it.

    Why don’t you get this? I’m not being snide, I just don’t understand why you keep insisting on things when we have told you umpteen times that they are not and have never been what the Church believes?

    Some of the greatest observatories in the world were owned by the Catholic Church at the time of Galileo. She was all over astronomy. As well as other hard sciences. BUT she never mistook science for faith or visa versa.

    Science and Church teaching are COMPATIBLE but NOT COMPARABLE.

  265. frustrated (mk)
    May 14th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

    Bbub,

    I’m not afraid of agnosticism, in fact, we’re all agnostics whether we like it or not. None of us is omniscient. We’re all agnostics, and I’d insist that this is true on any subject. Faith is not knowledge; it’s belief. Neither you nor I “know” anything for sure. You don’t “know” your religion is true, and I don’t “know” it’s false. Weighing incomplete evidence, you “believe” it’s true. The gap between incomplete evidence and belief is what you call faith — actually it’s what I call it too. But neither of us “know” anything. We’re agnostics, whether we realize it or not. A person who specifically identifies himself with agnosticism is simply smart enough to declare the honest truth.

    Well, Hallelujah! When I said those exact same words I was accused of falling into the “faith” argument by SORG.
    Religion is a different beast than the empirical sciences. One requires belief. One requires knowledge.

    Why is that not a valid statement?

  266. Lily
    May 14th, 2009 @ 7:27 am

    Bbub:

    The idea that our minds evolved to maximize survival is an argument that has been thoroughly refuted. No evolutionary advantage is conferred by our ability to have rational access to the universe. No other species on the planet has the ability to describe the universe mathematically as homo sapiens does, and there’s no reason to think that this actually confers an advantage in terms of either survival or reproduction.

    Since homo sapiens was already a successful species before the rise of math and science, you can’t even argue that it’s necessary or even helpful for the survival of our own species. Of course, this line of reasoning ignores the question of why the universe behaves in a law-like manner and why it is describable in the language of mathematics and why we apprehend these things. So no, evolution doesn’t come close to really explaining anything about reason.

    You are misusing the word agnosticism when you apply it to us in the realm of faith. It is not that the word, strictly parsed doesn’t mean “without knowledge”, it does. But it has a well defined meaning (God is unknown and likely unknowable) and is not used correctly to describe us. We do know God– we know Jesus Christ. We can infer a whole lot about God from nature by the use of reason. While we do realize that it is possible we are wrong, we don’t think so. It simply doesn’t make sense to call this “agnosticism”.

    The Greek word for faith that is used most often by Paul is “pistis” It is much stronger than mere “belief” and in rhetoric (in which Paul was schooled) refers to “persuasive argument”. It is the word that Paul uses in this passage from Acts (17:30-31)

    Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

    So yes, we could be wrong. But we don’t think so. We are not wishy-washy agnostics!

    Really, why don’t you save us and yourself alot of trouble and just convert now?

  267. some random guy
    May 14th, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

    However, denying free access to them is like placing these women before a firing squad without your Kevlar vest. It is simply not moral to deny a tool that women can use to protect themselves.

    I think you might be forgetting the part I mentioned about probability. Since condoms aren’t perfect, they don’t prevent infection, they only displace the event by an arbitrary time. It’s like having a fire rushing towards your house. Instead of enacting a method to stop the fire, you only find a way to slow it down, say, by building a makeshift wall of sorts, or perhaps watering the lawn to make it less flammable. Well… as we’ve seen in CA many times, it’s still gonna wipe out your house. It’ll just take a bit longer.

    The girl in your scenario will still eventually be infected if sex between the two is recurring, which it typically is. Kevlar or not, all it takes is one bullet. The Church teaches that age old adage that two wrongs don’t make a right, even in this case. Condoms are morally impermissible because they contradict the point of the intercourse itself, and in this case they’re still wrong because they allow people to engage in the act of murder, albeit a little slower than without the condom. I don’t think it makes a huge difference to a victim in the end if they’re stabbed quickly or slowly… either way, they’re still stabbed.

    If you attempt to advance the idea that women in these circumstances should be able to say NO to their husbands’ claims to sex-due, I’d couldn’t agree more.

    I find your advocacy for women’s rights admirable. We agree here that a women should be able to say no and have the guy back off. The Church agrees here too. We also, however, put responsibility not only on the women to say no, but on the man as well. He shouldn’t really be asking in the first place. People can live just fine without sex. If the man really loves his wife, he won’t put her in danger for a few minutes’ pleasure. If he doesn’t really love her, then he has no business having sex with her in the first place. Bottom line is, condoms won’t stop the spread of aids. Teaching abstinence, responsibility and personal accountability will. If the world were to stop whining for one second about how unfair it is that infected people can’t have sex (which it’s not) under an abstinence program, they might actually be able to put the effort into banishing this monster once and for all.

    “Heliocentrism was what the CC battled. That the Earth was the center of the universe was its dogma, which it abandoned only when it became logically untenable.

    I admit I was bating you here… Heliocentricity was never dogma, or a held religious belief of the Church. It was the scientific theory at the time, and the Church merely sought how to incorporate that knowledge and make it mesh with their doctrines. Kinda like the Big Bang today. We say that the Big Bang supports our conception of God and the creation of the universe, but if it’s proven wrong in 50 years or so, the Church won’t crumble because of it. There’s no creed or catechism that says “We believe in the Big Bang as an article of faith.” I think my handled this already though…

    “I’m not afraid of agnosticism, in fact, we’re all agnostics whether we like it or not. None of us is omniscient. We’re all agnostics, and I’d insist that this is true on any subject. Faith is not knowledge; it’s belief. Neither you nor I “know” anything for sure.”

    Nonsense. When I endorsed “agnosticism” in a Christian context, I meant that we plead agnostic when asked “Exactly how does God create the universe?” or “How did he gather infinity into the womb of a woman?” . That, we don’t know for sure. However, we can know many things for sure. If we couldn’t, it’d violate the law of non-contradiction.

    1) There is absolute truth.
    2) It is knowable.
    3) We can be sure of it.

    Negating any of those premises results in a necessary contradiction. Thus they are all true.

    “You don’t “know” your religion is true, and I don’t “know” it’s false. Weighing incomplete evidence, you “believe” it’s true.”

    No, I do know it’s true. Just like I know you exist… somewhere. I also “know” I ate cereal for breakfast. None of this is empirically verifiable, but yet I’d stake my life on all three.

    Either way, we operate as if we know it’s true, and in that act of faith, come into an affirmation of that knowledge. Case in point, you can’t prove from your current set of evidence that I actually exist. I can assure you that I do, you can even run a series of Turing Tests to see if I’m a machine… But you can’t actually prove it. And yet… you type responses. You respond because you know somewhere out there that I’m writing back too. Agnosticism never enters your mind. Yes you could say you’re acting on faith, but that faith serves to deepen what you already know, even if it provides no additional empirical proof: I exist.

    “That’s a good point, but at least I have a modicum of say in how the legal system comes down on me. If I don’t like it, I can lobby to change it.”

    So the only way a law can be fair is if you can lobby to change it?

    Can a person on trial for speeding lobby to change the speed limit?

    Can someone planning a theft realistically lobby to make it legal?

    “The analogy also fails since I can choose to not live under US jurisprudence.”

    Analogies don’t have to be perfect in every sense. They aren’t one-to-one mappings. For example, if I said Rock is Hard as Water is Wet, it doesn’t imply that rock has to be liquid, or that water is made of stone.

    Would you prefer I invoked an example of gravity? That’s a law that enforces itself mercilessly. Either you remember to heed it, or you get hurt. Where’s the fairness of that? No appeal?

    God’s Law appears to be mandatory. Forcing people to live under a certain legal requirement is what tyranny is all about.

    Nah, God does allow you to live outside his laws. That’s why Catholics believe in Free Will. We believe that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, he merely allows them to freely choose it themselves. It’s like playing in a symphony and having the part in front of you. You can freely choose to obey the law of notes in front of you and thus play beautiful harmonies, or you can play any old thing. The choice is yours. But, the dischord that comes from not following the score is also freely chosen by you. Death is just the end of the recording session, when you’re stuck with the choices you’ve made and there’s no opportunity to edit. Let’s face it, if your CD consists only of you dicking around while the rest of the orchestra tries to play… you’re not gonna win a grammy.

    God isn’t a tyrant. He’s the father from the story of the prodigal son. You can walk right up and spit in his face, turn and leave the family farm if you want to. He’ll be sad, but he’ll respect your freedom. It only comes with the warning: You don’t get better than the farm, and… well… if you choose to go elsewhere for eternity, you’re gonna regret it.

  268. Beelzebub
    May 15th, 2009 @ 3:24 am


    And 2, we keep pointing out to you that it was Copernicus, a CATHOLIC that first came up with heliocentricity, and that the Church had NO Problem with it. EVER. They DID have a problem with Galileo jumping the gun on announcing it.

    The reason I have a problem with that rationale is this:

    Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543)
    Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642)

    If that’s jumping the gun I’d like to know what race you’re running.


    Of course, this line of reasoning ignores the question of why the universe behaves in a law-like manner and why it is describable in the language of mathematics and why we apprehend these things. So no, evolution doesn’t come close to really explaining anything about reason.

    Those are two different questions, of course. I don’t understand your problem about apprehending the laws of nature. This seems to be another needless complication. When we got smart enough, we were able to understand them. Apes can recognize geometric shapes and correlate them with other symbols. They’re halfway there already. Why are there laws of nature and why are they the ones we have? Dunno.

    Why did we evolve mathematical ability before discovering our ability to do it? Rhetorically, why did animals develop the ability for love, affection and attachment before Shakespeare had the opportunity to write about them? Flipping things around, it’s also possible that we have only discovered or invented the math and written the plays that our evolutionary abilities have enabled us to do. Evidence for this comes from the history of mathematical innovation. First there was Euclidean geometry and only later more abstract and counter-intuitive mathematics. If God gave us the ability to do math, why didn’t we start off non-Euclidean? Why, for that matter, do we need to educate ourselves from the ground up — and why are there math morons?

    You’d probably profit from Douglas Adams puddle analogy. A puddle of water finds itself in a hole perfectly shaped to fit it and wonders how that could possibly have happened.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams#Sentient_puddle


    Really, why don’t you save us and yourself alot of trouble and just convert now?

    Sure, you convince me and I’ll convert. Personally I think you’ll deconvert before that happens.


    It’s like having a fire rushing towards your house. Instead of enacting a method to stop the fire, you only find a way to slow it down, say, by building a makeshift wall of sorts, or perhaps watering the lawn to make it less flammable. Well… as we’ve seen in CA many times, it’s still gonna wipe out your house. It’ll just take a bit longer.

    Not necessarily. If you can delay it long enough there are a number of contingencies that might save the house/woman. You aren’t going to stop the fire dead; you aren’t going to stop the philandering husband. So spray the fire-retardant foam on the house, and give the wife some condoms.


    The girl in your scenario will still eventually be infected if sex between the two is recurring, which it typically is. Kevlar or not, all it takes is one bullet. The Church teaches that age old adage that two wrongs don’t make a right, even in this case. Condoms are morally impermissible because they contradict the point of the intercourse itself, and in this case they’re still wrong because they allow people to engage in the act of murder, albeit a little slower than without the condom. I don’t think it makes a huge difference to a victim in the end if they’re stabbed quickly or slowly… either way, they’re still stabbed.

    Well, needless to say, I think this is wrong because I don’t think using a condom is a sin. Your last sentence is more amenable to evaluation. I don’t agree, the CDC doesn’t agree and most relief workers would probably not agree. Can you actually imagine yourself in a village uttering the words: “Well, your husband is going to give it to you eventually anyway, so just get it over with.”


    No, I do know it’s true. Just like I know you exist… somewhere. I also “know” I ate cereal for breakfast. None of this is empirically verifiable, but yet I’d stake my life on all three.

    Considering your credo, I might be Satan sending you signals through the Internet. (I’m not, btw.) If anything, I’m in a better position to know stuff for sure than you could ever be. Your world is filled with Gods and demons and monsters, supernatural spirits, etc. Mine just has a bunch of mundane physical structures, more or less knowable, eventually. For you, very little is for sure, except the nebulous promise that God has it all in control.

  269. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 5:18 am

    Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was the first astronomer to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe.[1] His epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published in 1543 just before he died, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the defining epiphany that began the Scientific Revolution. His heliocentric model, with the sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting the Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmark in the history of modern science that is now often referred to as the Copernican Revolution.

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

  270. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 5:47 am

    Here is another article that I think you’ll find interesting.

    While it may be true that for reasons only She can comprehend, the Catholic Church did not fare well in the Galileo affair, it is unreasonable to point to that single incident to prove that the church has never been involved in the sciences.

    She has been a leader in many scientific fields. The fact that Copernicus and Galileo were Catholics, practicing Catholics, can attest to that.

    Astronomy was part of the original seven subjects taught at the medieval universities founded by the church. Direct Vatican support for astronomy dates to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII asked Jesuit mathematician Christopher Clavius to help reform the calendar.

    You have to understand that the problem with Galileo’s theory was not scientific. It would stand the world on it’s head. If someone today “discovered” some equally earth shattering, bit of knowledge…something that would completely change the way we look at ourselves and the world, we might react the same way.

    Suppose someone told you, someone somewhat renowned, that was hired by the US government to study the invisible world around us, that he had observed angels first hand with a homemade invention called the angelscope. He wanted to announce to the world that he could see these angels and he wanted the US government to back him up…He wanted to make this announcement under full authority of the US. The US tells him that it won’t back him but he goes out to other countries and tells them that the US IS backing him, and continues to do so until they finally arrest him. Years later it is proved that there are indeed angels and they can be seen and Joe Angelfinder was right. Would the US be mocked forever because they didn’t believe his insane assertions at the time? Would you forever say that the US was backwards and anti science?

  271. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 5:48 am
  272. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 5:56 am

    Bbub,

    Rhetorically, why did animals develop the ability for love, affection and attachment before Shakespeare had the opportunity to write about them?

    First, are you implying that they could ever have read Shakespeare to get a better understanding of love, affection and attachment?

    Second, again, because animals have instincts, not reason. They do what they do because they have to do it, not because they choose to do it. People on the other hand, choose to love, choose to become attacched…

    As for your math question, math DID exist from the beginning. Math isn’t something that was invented, it is something that was discovered. Just as all natural law existed from day one. Natural Law AND Natural Moral Law.

    We don’t invent morals any more than we invented gravity. We discover them.

    There might not have been a word for gravity, and there might not have been scientific theories based on gravity in the first days of the world, but even the most uneducated cave man knew that if you threw a rock in the sky, it came back.

  273. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 6:00 am

    B,
    Can you actually imagine yourself in a village uttering the words: “Well, your husband is going to give it to you eventually anyway, so just get it over with.”

    No, that would be ludicrous. But I can see myself and the church uttering the words “Your husband is going to give you a life threatening disease. Condoms will postpone it, but only refraining from having sex with stop it.”

    You act like the church is going door to door confiscating condoms. She doesn’t condone their use, and she doesn’t pass them out, true, but it’s not like she is stopping others from doing so. What she does is proclaim the truth. Sex spreads aids. Condoms won’t stop that. Using condoms is not the solution. Abstinence is.

    This might be impossible advice to follow, given individual countries view of woman, but it is still the truth.

    What you are saying is “Your husband has a disease which he will give to you via sex and it will kill you. But here, use this condom and it will kill you later rather than sooner.” How merciful is that?

  274. frustrated (mk)
    May 15th, 2009 @ 6:05 am

    B,

    Your world is filled with Gods and demons and monsters, supernatural spirits, etc. Mine just has a bunch of mundane physical structures, more or less knowable, eventually. For you, very little is for sure, except the nebulous promise that God has it all in control.

    Your world sounds very, very small. Seriously, read what you just wrote. My world is filled with possiblity, with wonders, with awe, with beauty and with love.

    You cannot empirically prove honor, love, beauty, mercy, atruism, hope…do these not exist in your world?

  275. Beelzebub
    May 15th, 2009 @ 6:16 am


    You have to understand that the problem with Galileo’s theory was not scientific. It would stand the world on it’s head. If someone today “discovered” some equally earth shattering, bit of knowledge…something that would completely change the way we look at ourselves and the world, we might react the same way.

    The moral of the story is not that the Church was attempting to protect its power structure, but that the Church was eventually made to relent on its on recognizance, which leads me to postulate that perhaps it’s a good idea that the moment someone comes up with reasonable theory about something that contradicts ancient ignoramuses, maybe we should go with them and not tradition. These attempts to whitewash the CC are hilarious. Galileo was called to Rome to give an account of his works. While there, he was not tortured, though there is evidence that the Inquisition showed him the instruments of torture, which was a prescribed procedure. He was made to recant or give an account of his works in accordance with Church dogma under threat of indictment for heresy which would entail torture. An institution doesn’t do that if it wholeheartedly embraces a new concept, and that’s pretty much the same as rejecting it. You can dance around it all you want. The historical accounts are on my side.

    I’m not trying to “mock” the Church, although I think it’s a little suspicious that an institution supposedly with a direct line to God can get something so fundamental utterly wrong.

  276. Lily
    May 15th, 2009 @ 7:08 am

    Again, Bbub, you are overstating your case, Galileo was not condemned on purely scientific grounds but because he unwisely allowed his enemies to involve him in defending his theories from the Bible. The minute he stepped onto that turf he was in trouble. It didn’t help that he had written a treatise mocking the Pope (who had been his friend and always maintained an interest in him).

    This is just nonsense:

    The moral of the story is not that the Church was attempting to protect its power structure, but that the Church was eventually made to relent on its on recognizance, which leads me to postulate that perhaps it’s a good idea that the moment someone comes up with reasonable theory about something that contradicts ancient ignoramuses, maybe we should go with them and not tradition. These attempts to whitewash the CC are hilarious.

    It isn’t a matter of trying to whitewash the CC. It is painfully ahistoric and anachronistic to look at the CC as merely a “religious institution” guarding its teachings. It played important political and social roles, as well as being the center of intellectual life at that time and it demonstrates a lack of understanding of human nature not to understand that there were different personalities involved with different motives for their actions.

    I am going out on a limb here but I will bet you haven’t read one decent book on the subject. You don’t seem to know who the players were, what Galileo had actually done that led up to his going to Rome (his own decision), you don’t seem to have a clue about the intellectual and power games being played and, above all, you don’t seem to have a clue that Galileo had real enemies among his scientific brethren. The Church did not act well in its treatment of him but the story is far more complex than you know. It is simply not a case of a brave scientist bringing truth and light to ignorant, superstitious clergy.

    I recommend to you a book: The Galileo Affair: A documentary history by Maurice A. Finocchiaro (Univ. of Calif. Press, 1989) This is one stop shopping for a wealth of primary documents, the proceedings and minutes of the inquisition, etc. It also has a very useful introduction (much of which you can find on Google books) that sets out the complex issues involved.

  277. Beelzebub
    May 15th, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

    Alright, I’ll investigate further, when I get the time. Thx for the refs.

  278. Lily
    May 15th, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

    If you like reading up on history, I think you will like the book. The introduction is fascinating and the issues complex but I thought it was written in a very readable (not overly academic) style.

  279. some random guy
    May 15th, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

    First there was Euclidean geometry and only later more abstract and counter-intuitive mathematics. If God gave us the ability to do math, why didn’t we start off non-Euclidean? Why, for that matter, do we need to educate ourselves from the ground up — and why are there math morons?

    Well to answer your first question: We didn’t start with Riemannian Manifolds for the same reason that construction workers don’t start building a house with the second floor. It’s impossible. You have to build up to it. I think this example highlights what we mean when we say God gave us the ability to do Math. Like the construction worker before the project begins, we are physically able to do math just as they are physically capable of building a house. But the next steps involve drawing up schematics, gathering the supplies from the mental construction yard, and then ordering those supplies even before assembly begins. Then, like math evolved, you have to start by putting piece by piece in place. You can only put the pieces of the second floor (non-euclidean geometry, complex analysis etc) together after you’ve laid the foundation (algebra and geometry) and built the first floor (calculus and real analysis etc). Being “able” to build a house or do math doesn’t mean you get to do things out of logical order or just pop them into existence.

    So why do we need to educate ourselves? Well, because God wants and wanted us to fall in love with Him and enjoy his creation through exploration. Change through growth, be it falling in love or intellectual, requires a starting point that’s different than the end. It’s part of being human. I could talk more on the subject… but I have a hunch I’m longwinded enough as it is…

    Why are there math morons? Well, perhaps because making us a bland omniscient group of equally skilled and intelligent beings would leave us bereft of a sense of individuality, which is essential to personhood. Plus, if we were all the same and could do everything equally well ourselves, we wouldn’t be able to experience Love as God intended it. It’s hard to fall in Love with a mirror image of yourself. If we were all equally skilled, we wouldn’t be able to develop humility or the concept of serving one another on a personal level… but alas… I’m rambling again…

    “You’d probably profit from Douglas Adams puddle analogy”

    Ah the sentient puddle analogy… I think there are a number of problems with the analogy… but instead of me yammering as usual, how about you explain it to me. I get that the sentient puddle is supposed to represent a theist, or theistic humanity rather… but here’s where I get confused: Is the crater the world, or the entire universe? What does gravity represent? What does the Sun represent? I’m only asking because while I’m pretty sure that I get its intended meaning, I want to make sure I’m not misinterpreting the analogy. Finally, if you’ve obliged me thus far… What could the puddle have done differently?

    “Not necessarily. If you can delay it long enough there are a number of contingencies that might save the house/woman. You aren’t going to stop the fire dead; you aren’t going to stop the philandering husband. So spray the fire-retardant foam on the house, and give the wife some condoms.

    All of them involve putting out the fire, no? The only way to stop the fire is to put it out. The only way to stop the spread of aids is to stop having sex amongst infected people. I’m loath to take a defeatist attitude when it comes to people’s lives.

    Your last sentence is more amenable to evaluation. I don’t agree, the CDC doesn’t agree and most relief workers would probably not agree.

    They don’t agree with what? My last sentence? Or my stance on condoms? Either way, the math speaks for itself.

    ”Can you actually imagine yourself in a village uttering the words: “Well, your husband is going to give it to you eventually anyway, so just get it over with.”

    No because as a Catholic, that’s not what I’d say. I’d say it’s time for the infected people to have some responsibility and live lives of celibacy, because at that point (after infection) every act of sexual intercourse is an attempted murder.

    “Considering your credo, I might be Satan sending you signals through the Internet. (I’m not, btw.)”

    Wait… what “credo” is this??? Trust me, if you were Satan, your arguments would be better. No offense… but I’d imagine the Prince of Darkness could do better than the Galileo affair. Nope, I don’t buy it. You’re a real person, I know it, and not only are you not Satan (nowhere close), but you seem to actually have some good intentions.

    “If anything, I’m in a better position to know stuff for sure than you could ever be.”

    How’dya figure that? Is there some secret knowledge bank that’s only available to atheist blog commenters?

    “Your world is filled with Gods and demons and monsters, supernatural spirits, etc.

    Well actually there’s only one God, a few demons, no monsters, and trillions of souls… But yes, my world is filled with these things. Yours is too…

    “Mine just has a bunch of mundane physical structures, more or less knowable, eventually.

    So wait, your “world” is better not only because it has less in it, but it’s more mundane too?
    That’s got to be the weirdest argument ever… Like driving by an ad for bland food.

    “For you, very little is for sure, except the nebulous promise that God has it all in control.”

    Actually, by definition more is sure in my world than yours. I can have every physical surety that you can, plus more. I can be experimentally sure that g=9.8 m/s^2 AND faithfully sure that God loves me.

    How or what do I gain from atheism again?

    I won’t be around till Tuesday at least, but please do answer my puddle questions.

  280. Beelzebub
    May 16th, 2009 @ 1:48 am


    You’re a real person, I know it, and not only are you not Satan (nowhere close), but you seem to actually have some good intentions.

    If God can posture behind apparently bad intention like the Sri Lanka tsunami, then why can’t Satan pose behind my relatively doltish comments? If my logic were devilishly intricate, the content of my delivery unbelievably sophisticated and erudite, you might immediately suspect me to be the Evil One. Instead I seem to have convinced you utterly of my mortal existence. So tell me, why can’t I be Satan again, the great deceiver? And while you’re at it, why are you sure of anything?


    ”Can you actually imagine yourself in a village uttering the words: “Well, your husband is going to give it to you eventually anyway, so just get it over with.”

    No because as a Catholic, that’s not what I’d say. I’d say it’s time for the infected people to have some responsibility and live lives of celibacy, because at that point (after infection) every act of sexual intercourse is an attempted murder.

    This is just where Catholic always fall flat on their faces. You see, it’s not the husband who will pay for the policy that you’re advocating, it’s his wife, who is innocent of his transgression. You don’t have the right to deny her any reasonable resort against becoming infected. (Well, of course, you do if you think condoms are sinful, but that’s exactly where the CC and the rest of the world differ.) Because of your petulant insistence on your single ideal solution of celibacy you deny people practical means to protect themselves. The issue is not whether your solution would work (by definition it would) and not whether it’s realistic (it’s not), it’s that the CC is in conflict with anyone with common sense who has been spared the (to us) absurd sexual proscriptions.

    Here we have another perfect example of the conflict between science and religion. Nobody can force the CC to release funding for condom distribution, but we can cite science agencies like CDC that contradict its policy. The CC once again finds itself between a rock and a hard place. You see, in order for the CC to maintain the kind of concordance that Mk listed in the Catechism condoms must be found detrimental to the AIDS effort, in every scenario that can be outlined. Well I just described one where condoms would clearly be a probable benefit, perhaps even life saving. There are three contingencies:

    1. The claim will be proven.
    2. The claim will be disproved and the Church will reverse itself (when hell freezes over).
    3. The claim will be disproved and the Church will not reverse itself.

    If number 3 comes to pass — and it very well may if AIDS continues to fester and gain ground — the Church will have placed more primacy on superstitious belief than human lives.

    In all probability what will happen is this: The CC will never reverse itself. Anti-retroviral therapies will continue to drop in price and be distributed more widely. Eventually the virus will mutate to a less virulent form or we’ll eventually create a working vaccine. The Church will spend the next 500 years pretending it was right, and the number of people who died because of condom unavailability will never be calculated.

    But, you see, the real take-home from this example is not who’s on the right or wrong side. It’s the fact that because of Church doctrine, it already must know what the right answer is, without ever consulting a single epidemiological study. It could have made the call a hundred years ago, five hundred. The CC has posited scientific truth without doing science!

    Do…do you see what I’m getting at?

  281. Beelzebub
    May 16th, 2009 @ 2:19 am

    The puddle analogy is useful on a number of levels and in a number of subjects. I think where Adams used it was in objections to evolution, dealing with intelligent design, etc. It could also be used as a possible response to the Anthropic Principle, or any number of post hoc arguments involving “why are things the way they are” or “why do things seem to be so fitting for our existence.” The puddle water is metaphor for ourselves, the human species. The puddle crater is the rest of our world or the universe. The puddle asks why the crater fits it so perfectly, surely it must have been made specifically for it in mind with exacting demand. The crater must have had a maker, etc. What eludes the puddle is that it is simply the result of its own intrinsic properties and the nature of the system itself that such perfection arose.

    There’s an element of the puddle analogy in Hitchens’s Hallmark moment derision. You often hear theists talk of birds and bees and springtime wildflowers, love and rainbows, fragrant scents and beautiful vistas. This is again the puddle speaking of the perfection of its hole. If our minds had not evolved with the capacity for a certain respite in contentment, what a dour existence it would be. Og might well have not avoided that charging wildebeest on purpose. I see no reason why our capacity to enjoy beauty can’t be construed as puddle properties. An alien visiting from another plant may well think our Earth is the most ghastly place it’s visited.

  282. Beelzebub
    May 16th, 2009 @ 5:04 am

    In case anyone is interested, I think the analogy came from one of Adams’s talks, although I’m not sure. It’s on Youtube, which is where I first heard it. There he uses it as a theory for the origins of a religious conception of our world. Prehistoric “Man” (and woman, oh you know language is so sexist) found himself in a situation that just before he froze to death, Spring came and thawed everything out. He did not stave because of the abundant rabbits jumping about him. He did not thirst because of the streams. He made is bed out of soft leaves. His or her mate have him/her comfort in the night. How could it possibly not be the case that all this wasn’t made for…him? And if it was made for him then there must have been a maker.

  283. Beelzebub
    May 16th, 2009 @ 5:11 am

    Sorry, make that :

    “How could it possibly not be the case that all this WAS made for…him?” Those damn double negatives.

    While I’m at it I have to say that I think I’m going to have to quit this discussion pretty soon since I’m back in California and in a residence that only has very VERY slow dial-up. I literally have to wait minutes for this posting to download.

  284. Lily
    May 16th, 2009 @ 8:46 am

    It is wonderful to me, in the more original sense of “wonder”, how you continue to argue for condoms though you have been shown “scientifically” that they can only slow down the rate of infection. Thus this makes no sense:

    In all probability what will happen is this: The CC will never reverse itself. Anti-retroviral therapies will continue to drop in price and be distributed more widely. Eventually the virus will mutate to a less virulent form or we’ll eventually create a working vaccine. The Church will spend the next 500 years pretending it was right, and the number of people who died because of condom unavailability will never be calculated.

    The Church is right. There is nothing to pretend. And, if its refusal to sign on to a faux solution drives the successful search for a real one, how is that not entirely to its credit?

    Oh– and how many have died already despite the availability of condoms? They have been available in this country for many decades but I seem to recall that a person or two has died from AIDS here and in other countries where condoms are widely available as well.

  285. Beelzebub
    May 16th, 2009 @ 4:52 pm


    It is wonderful to me, in the more original sense of “wonder”, how you continue to argue for condoms though you have been shown “scientifically” that they can only slow down the rate of infection.

    This is a ridiculous argument — like saying that since seat belts are only XX% effective that they should be eliminated.

    Analogously, for the case of the forlorn village woman, you would have her go belt-free even though she is forced to drive with her suicidal husband on a regular basis.

  286. Lily
    May 16th, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

    Wow, just wow, Bbub. Not every act of driving carries with it the certainty of being involved in an accident, does it? At least I have been driving for decades, accident free, as has my entire family. I rarely use seat belts, either, scofflaw that I am.

    But every act of intercourse with an infected person dos carry with it the certainty of being infected, eventually, if the two players have sex regularly. This doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Those who buy your argument might knowingly have sex with an infected person but most of us who have a fairly well developed sense of self-preservation won’t. I wonder why that is?

  287. Beelzebub
    May 17th, 2009 @ 2:53 am

    But every act of intercourse with an infected person dos carry with it the certainty of being infected, eventually, if the two players have sex regularly. This doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Those who buy your argument might knowingly have sex with an infected person but most of us who have a fairly well developed sense of self-preservation won’t. I wonder why that is?

    Lily, I think you need a vacation or a long restful sleep. Driving in a car virtually guarantees the certainty of accident “eventually” in exactly the same why that even protected sexual intercourse guarantees infection “eventually.” There may be that one lucky and cautious person who can avoid mishap forever, but there is also a well-known subset of genetically endowed humans who will never contract AIDS either.

    It’s interesting to note that even for people without the CCR5 mutation that prevents transmission, unprotected sex does not guarantee transmission, just as a rabid dog bite does not strictly foretell the fate of an untreated victim. Humans are rather resistant to the rabies virus and also HIV, our immune system is able to repel certain encounters. Now, why on Earth would you be insane enough to NOT do everything in your power to aid in that process?

  288. frustrated (mk)
    May 17th, 2009 @ 4:56 am

    I think the analogy would work better if you said that the husband ALWAYS drive while intoxicated and ALWAYS drive over 120 miles an hour.

    Bbub says we should hand out free seat belts and helmets, and the CC says “Don’t get in the car”.

  289. Lily
    May 17th, 2009 @ 8:02 am

    Of course, mk. What an excellent analogy. Bbub’s “objection” is ridiculous and, actually, shameful, since on some level, he must know that.

    The act of driving will never cause an accident– those happen due to operator error or mechanical failure. Millions of people drive their whole lives and never have an accident. If we qualify that with “fatal”, many millions more around the world drive their whole lives and never have a fatal accident.

  290. Beelzebub
    May 17th, 2009 @ 2:41 pm


    Bbub says we should hand out free seat belts and helmets, and the CC says “Don’t get in the car”.

    And if there’s no choice?


    The act of driving will never cause an accident– those happen due to operator error or mechanical failure.

    Even if that were true (it isn’t, you can be in an accident sitting in a parking lot) it doesn’t break down the analogy, since we are, in fact, talking about driver negligence and passenger innocence.

    Let me spell it out, in case there’s no confusion. In many parts of Africa, Asia, South America, the wife has to get in the car, otherwise she’s abdicating the pitiful role that “wife” connotes in these parts of the world. I hate to rub salt in this wound, but CC influence probably only exacerbates this precept. At the same time the CC denies her a seatbelt.

    BTW — I didn’t mean to imply that you’re insane, but the do think the CC policy, that places the act of reproduction above safety, particularly of women, is.

  291. JoAnna
    May 17th, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

    Bbub, if an African man is hell-bent on raping his wife, do you honestly think that he, out of loving and tender concern for her health, will first don a condom?

    Moreover, many healthcare workers in Africa have said that another reason condoms fail is because the climate is not conducive to condom storage. The heat drastically reduces condom effectiveness.

  292. Richard Norris
    May 18th, 2009 @ 12:33 am

    Ok, yeah, I’m back. Don’t go getting emotional. I just want to ask a very simple question and get a very simple answer. If all condom distribution to Africa stopped and abstinence was the method taught to prevent the spread of HIV, does anyone know approximately how many people will wish to follow through with the method in order to prevent infection? Any percentage or (groan) statistic?

  293. Beelzebub
    May 18th, 2009 @ 2:15 am

    He may not consider it rape. SHE may not consider it rape. He may not think he’s infected, but she may suspect. The possibilities abound.

    Just what is it that is so horrible about condoms anyway. In what functional way are they any different than your “timing” contraception. In the end the result is the same. The egg doesn’t get fertilized, the sperm die without finding one. The point of both is to have sex without pregnancy. The act of sex is no less the object with timing things right than with using a condom. The only real difference is that condoms provide a margin of prevention against a range of venereal diseases as well.

  294. Lily
    May 18th, 2009 @ 6:55 am

    You have thrown oranges in with the apples, Bbub– we haven’t been talking about contraception (though we have covered it thoroughly in other threads). We are talking disease prevention. So far we have established that condoms slow down the rate of infection, they cannot entirely prevent it. We also know that men will not use condoms 100% of the time– some won’t use them at all, so that has to be factored in to any discussion of the real life efficacy of condom distribution, particularly in the absence of other forms of disease prevention.

    Abstinence would, presumably, be as successful with these men as condoms. This is one of many reasons it is also blindingly obvious that women need real power to protect themselves, which is to say the legal right (backed up with the actual force of law) to refuse sex and to separate themselves from abusive me. Women, particularly those with small children and/or exhausting jobs,find abstinence rather easy. In fact, many women find it a blessing.

    It is quite amusing to me that, as always, it is men who are most horrified at the very notion of abstinence. I am pretty sure that some large subset of endangered women would choose abstinence over condoms every time.

  295. frustrated (mk)
    May 18th, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    Bbub,

    You have to understand that we are not running around tearing seat belts off of women or snatching their helmets. Besides that analogy only goes so far, as we see nothing morally wrong with helmets or seat belts. We’d need an analogy where the solution was as immoral as the problem.

    However, having said that, there is a difference between speaking the truth and saying that condoms are a.) not effective in the long run and b.) we believe that condoms are morally wrong and saying that we will take your condoms from you.

    You are giving the church waaaaay too much power. We are obligated to speak as we believe, but this doesn’t mean we are stopping others from speaking as they believe. We, the Church say, condoms are morally wrong. But you don’t see anyone listening do you? You don’t see anyone taking peoples condoms at gunpoint?

    Not so with your side tho. You ARE passing them out along with misinformation. You ARE taking MY tax dollars and promoting abortion, using MY money to pay for it.

    (I mean you in a general “you, the pro choice side” not you BBub)…

    So while I hear you complaining that the church has no business stickin’ it’s nose in, that’s ALL she IS doing. Talking. Which is not what I would say about the condom pushers.

  296. BobJ
    May 18th, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    Even though the Catholic church condems abortion in writing, in actuality, they don’t see to concerned about people who support abortion rights, like Obama. I mean, the catholic church just gave the most pro-abortion president ever an honorary degree!!

  297. Margaret Catherine
    May 18th, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

    A Catholic university did do so, against the express wishes of the bishop of that diocese, and numerous other bishops and Cardinals. It’s shameful however you look at it, for the reasons you mention – but it was not “the Catholic Church” the conferred the degree.

  298. some random guy
    May 20th, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    Hokay… I’m back and not sure why I’m really pressing on with this thread…. probably to feed my ego by giving myself an outlet to jabber… but…

    If God can posture behind apparently bad intention like the Sri Lanka tsunami, then why can’t Satan pose behind my relatively doltish comments? If my logic were devilishly intricate, the content of my delivery unbelievably sophisticated and erudite, you might immediately suspect me to be the Evil One. Instead I seem to have convinced you utterly of my mortal existence. So tell me, why can’t I be Satan again, the great deceiver? And while you’re at it, why are you sure of anything?

    Well, for starters I assume Satan wouldn’t waste his time trying to convince me of atheism in an online forum. I mean, there are so many more colorful sins he could get me to commit, knowing full well that I’d fall for them a right bit quicker than for a couple screaming fits over contraception. Let’s face it… which would be more enticing to me: A half cooked Douglas Adams parable (we’ll get to that in a moment) or a scantily clad woman of model proportions happening to stumble across my path. Psh. You’re not even on the radar. I’ve felt the pull of evil… Evil that comes in the fiery seduction of rage, or the delicate whisper of sexuality. Both are infinitely more dangerous and persuasive than this discourse. No offense, while you might pose some interesting questions, you don’t strike near the heart. Besides… what would be the point of Satan using bad arguments to convince me that you’re not him? Then I would… erm… not listen to you? Or let down my defenses… or something?

    Why am I sure of anything: Well because the world is unintelligible, irrational and illogical if I can’t make those small faith based assumptions even if I can’t prove them logically, rationally or scientifically. For instance, I can’t really “prove” my dog exists. Yet I am extremely sure that she does exist. Why? Because surely existing or no, if I don’t take her out at 6am each morning, I’ll find a mess on my floor, really existing or not, that I’ll be forced to clean as if it did exist. In other words, my life as I experience it doesn’t allow me to act on the option of uncertainty. It seems very real to me. Looking for a rational explanation for EVERYTHING in order to prove it true, and specifically a scientific explanation, leads to madness.

    Chesterton deals with this in his book “Orthodoxy”

    http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=199665&pageno=7

    Read up a few pages and then let me know what you think about having to completely understand everything rationally before surely knowing it. We know things as surety without complete understanding or analysis of them.

    ”This is just where Catholic always fall flat on their faces. You see, it’s not the husband who will pay for the policy that you’re advocating, it’s his wife, who is innocent of his transgression. You don’t have the right to deny her any reasonable resort against becoming infected “

    Wait, how does the wife get hurt in a celibate situation?

    Perhaps you mean if the wife gets raped? Or the husband doesn’t practice the celibacy he’s called to embrace? Well, in either situation, if he wants sex that badly, do you really think he gives a crap about his wife enough to use a condom?

    Naïve.

    “not whether it’s realistic (it’s not), it’s that the CC is in conflict with anyone with common sense who has been spared the (to us) absurd sexual proscriptions. “

    I think it’s incredibly realistic. There are millions and billions of people all over the world this instant Not. Having. Sex. All the people with HIV have to do is join them. Tell me there’s magnets in their genitals which can’t resist coupling and I might reconsider.

    “The Church will spend the next 500 years pretending it was right, and the number of people who died because of condom unavailability will never be calculated.”

    So wait, not only does the Church oppose condom use, but it’s now preventing their availability? Wow, we have more power than we know!

    “It’s the fact that because of Church doctrine, it already must know what the right answer is, without ever consulting a single epidemiological study. It could have made the call a hundred years ago, five hundred. The CC has posited scientific truth without doing science!”

    No, because you’re conflating morality with science. Just because we can do something and it has good results doesn’t mean it’s moral to do it. For example, it’s morally wrong to harvest retarded babies for organs, even though a normal child might benefit and live a longer life from them. Condoms are immoral and in this situation ineffective. If you wish to counter the Church on this, at least speak to the Theology or the Math. So far you’ve done little more than sneer at both.

    “The puddle water is metaphor for ourselves, the human species. The puddle crater is the rest of our world or the universe. The puddle asks why the crater fits it so perfectly, surely it must have been made specifically for it in mind with exacting demand.

    That’s what I thought. Ok so in Adam’s example… gravity is the external force that draws the puddle water into conformation of the crater. It’s necessary for the analogy. What is gravity’s analog? Evolution? (Hint: think about what this implies about evolution…) Also, in Adam’s analogy, the sun comes out and dries up/kills the puddle. What is the sun? What could the puddle have done differently from an atheistic perspective?

    “I see no reason why our capacity to enjoy beauty can’t be construed as puddle properties. An alien visiting from another plant may well think our Earth is the most ghastly place it’s visited. “

    Perhaps, but that’s not what I’m getting at….

    Sorry to hear about the slow connection, hope you have time to answer.

  299. gluten intolearance
    August 29th, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a brand
    new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on.
    You’ve performed an impressive task and our whole group might be thankful to you.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links

    Switch to our mobile site