Pharyngula

Science is not your merkin

The Vatican has announced that they are having an evolution congress, and that no creationists or intelligent design creationists will be invited. Isn’t that sweet? They’re still inviting a swarm of theologians, though, so their exclusion is all window-dressing, a transparent attempt to sidle medieval peddlers of superstitious nonsense up next to some serious science for a photo op and a little propaganda. And they aren’t even trying to hide what they’re doing.

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.

Right. Strictly scientific. With theology.

He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

What an out — they’re only going to allow arguments critically defined as scientific, oh, and theology. Those are two different things, you know.

I eagerly await the announcement of the associated banquet for the participants. They will only be serving the highest quality food, made by master chefs of Europe, using only the freshest, best ingredients, oh, and there will be dollops of runny, rancid fecal material splattered over the tables and dishes. But the meal will be a magnificent gourmet experience, and the world will know that Vatican shit deserves to be served to the greatest minds of science.

I’m sure they’ll get some good smart people to go along with this, because there is no shortage of competent scientists willing to compromise the public face of science by associating it with wishful thinking and the supernatural. And the Vatican will, of course, throw buckets of pomp and money and somber news quotes at this, all to decorate the rotting flesh of their decrepit dogma with the jewels of science.

And look! Their exclusivity runs the other way, too!

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the other extreme of the evolution debate — proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection — also were not invited.

“Overly scientific conception of evolution”? What the heck? So the problem with evolution, to these Catholics, is that there’s too darned much science in it? I guess Richard Dawkins won’t be pining by his mailbox, hangdog with disappointment that his papal invitation hasn’t arrived yet. Why, the whole problem with evolutionary biology is that we don’t have enough religion in it, to poison and distort and attenuate the science. But not just any religion: it seriously needs more Catholicism.

Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence … and the discourse has suffered accordingly.”

My usual position is that we need a diversity of approaches to getting science across to the people, and I’ll normally hold my nose and say that those who want to accommodate their religious beliefs to evolution and reach out to people of faith are a necessary part of the process, and that they should be encouraged (but always, also, criticized!). I cannot say that of this conference. Scientists who willingly participate in this obvious game of propaganda are not helping science at all — they are simply selling sectarian Catholic dogma by adding a false luster of rationalism to a body of rank nonsense. The Vatican is asking for a façade of superficially presented science and an illusion of selectivity to make their lies and fantasies look specially favored by the scientific community … and they have even admitted that scientists who reject their teleology and their doctrines and their lunatic beliefs will not be permitted to question.

The conference is a lie. It’s an attempt to pad religion’s résumé. It will get only a sneer of contempt from me, but watch: some scientists and the media and the public, all the people who really, really want transubstantiating triune gods and inherited sins that damn all to hell to be true will lap it up. The Catholic Church will frame it masterfully to serve their corrupt and dishonest ends.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Gets my vote for top 5 post titles ever.

  2. #2 wazza
    September 17, 2008

    Someone was asking (I think over at Evolving Thoughts) what we think we’re doing shouting at people that they’re idiots for following religion…

    and then the Vatican shuts out some evolutionary theorists for being too scientific.

    So what is it we’re supposed to say instead?

  3. #3 David Lee
    September 17, 2008

    Here! Here!

  4. #4 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    “Overly scientific conception of evolution”? What the heck? So the problem with evolution, to these Catholics, is that there’s too darned much science in it?

    No thanks doc, you’ve got too much experience and eduction to perform my heart operation.

  5. #5 Matt Heath
    September 17, 2008

    “Too scientific” is something really special. If he’d have talked about “too reductive” or “too mechanistic” he’d have still been talking nonsense but at least it would have been nonsensical in a more subtle way.

    Presumably they will soon be announcing that that line was a bone-headed joke added to the speech by a junior priest and that Archbishop Ravasi invented the Blackberry.

  6. #6 Gene
    September 17, 2008

    “…there will be dollops of runny, rancid fecal material splattered over the tables and dishes.”

    The Catholics serve up only the best for science.

    What’s for dessert?

  7. #7 Sigmund
    September 17, 2008

    I wouldn’t write off all chances that this conference can be useful. It does provide an opportunity for pro-evolutionary Catholics like Kenneth Brown to push the Catholic church into taking a more outspoken position on the question rather than flirting with the ID crowd as Cardinal Schonberg seemed to be doing in recent years.
    As for the reason or the conference in the first place would suspect more cynical motives – such as competing with the evolution hatin’ evangelicals who have lately taken to poaching the popes flock.

  8. #8 Richard Harris
    September 17, 2008

    Fuck the Pope, and all other liers for Jebus.

  9. #9 nobody
    September 17, 2008

    Little Paul, the prophet who Knows All, including everything within The Realm Of Science, also claims that He Knows All Within The Realm of Religion.

    Hypocrite. You simply loathe the Church for its justifiable distaste of your abusive personality, so this is how you strike back.

    On second thought, this isn’t hypocrisy.

    This is a third-grade bully mentality.

    As for this:

    Posted by: David Lee | September 17, 2008 9:17 AM

    Here! Here!

    It’s “Hear hear”, you dolt.

  10. #10 Zeno
    September 17, 2008

    Religion always resents being found unnecessary.

    I have a modicum of sympathy for those defenders of religion who decry the argument that evolution and natural selection disprove God and faith. No, they merely show him to be irrelevant and unnecessary. (Then it’s Occam’s razor that disposes of him as an excess hypothesis.) But this Catholic conference on evolution is just trying to wedge religion into science’s world in order to give life “meaning.” It’s their last hope of salvaging something out of the wreckage of their God-centered philosophy — a form of unemployment insurance for a remaindered deity.

  11. #11 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Nobody you really are a one trick pony. And that trick sucks.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen you make an argument let alone a cohesive one yet.

  12. #12 ennui
    September 17, 2008

    pro-evolutionary Catholics like Kenneth Brown

    do you mean Kenneth Miller, at Brown University?

  13. #13 Steven Dunlap
    September 17, 2008

    For some reason reading this post I flashed on Don Novello, better known to fans of SNL as Father Guido Sarducci. The comedian was arrested by Vatican Police in 1981 for walking around the Vatican in costume blessing everyone he came upon. It seems you’re supposed to have some credentials to do that. They charged him with impersonating a priest.

    I think you all know where I’m going with this.

    We need science cops to raid the joint. Hmmm… but what would be the charges? Suggestions?

  14. #14 Sigmund
    September 17, 2008

    “do you mean Kenneth Miller, at Brown University?”

    Doh!

  15. #15 Ploon
    September 17, 2008

    Wow, they’re not even trying to hide their intellectual dishonesty. They want to preach to the choir, as always, and want to be the only ones doing so. It’s obvious that they’re not out for a vigorous debate (don’t want that in an authoritarian institution, now do we?) of evolution on its scientific merits. The outcome will doubtless be something wishy-washy and watered-down version of god-guided evolution that may be palatable to the great Catholic unwashed but will convince no one else. And meanwhile they get to say “See, see how enlightened we are?”. Ugh.

    As I like to say, Catholics are just as crazy as other Christian sects except in addition they like their leaders to wear funny hats. Things like this make me want to knock those hats off, shake them by the shoulders and shout “Join the fracking 21st century, you pillock!” until they cry.

  16. #16 God
    September 17, 2008

    Wazza – You’re supposed to say “Praise Jesus! HOSANNA! HOSANNA! GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!”

    You pagan-atheist baby-eater.

  17. #17 Reginald Selkirk
    September 17, 2008

    Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence …

    Huh? Ken Miller, Catholic. Michael Behe, Catholic. That Vatican astronomer guy, Catholic. Cardinal Schoenborn, Catholic. Francisco Ayala, former Dominican priest who refuses to discuss his current state of belief.

  18. #18 Ranson
    September 17, 2008

    Nobody you really are a one trick pony. And that trick sucks.

    So, you’re saying that “nobody” is Uri Geller? Or maybe Jon Edward?

    Sylvia Browne?

  19. #19 Deepsix
    September 17, 2008

    I hear the KKK is going to form an advisory council that is “non-racist”.

  20. #20 Darth Wader
    September 17, 2008

    do you mean Kenneth Miller, at Brown University

    Sylvia Browne?

    You seem to be saying “brown” an awful lot. Are you okay?
    -Ms. Hoover

  21. #21 S.Scott
    September 17, 2008

    Scientists who willingly participate in this obvious game of propaganda are not helping science at all — they are simply selling sectarian Catholic dogma by adding a false luster of rationalism to a body of rank nonsense.

    Are you claiming that all scientisis are atheist? Of course the “overly scientific” is meant to be atheist scientists.

    It’s perfectly reasonable for a church to exclude non- believers.

    I view this as a good thing for science.

  22. #22 wazza
    September 17, 2008

    But God… I don’t eat babies…

    jutht adventurouth femaleth over the age of theventeen and looking good in a nightdrethth.

  23. #23 Cafeeine
    September 17, 2008

    Huh? Ken Miller, Catholic. Michael Behe, Catholic. That Vatican astronomer guy, Catholic. Cardinal Schoenborn, Catholic. Francisco Ayala, former Dominican priest who refuses to discuss his current state of belief

    Lets also not forget Dinesh D’Souza….

    Actually no, lets forget him.

  24. #24 Benny the Icepick
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, I have to question your claim that theology isn’t science. I mean, it has “-ology” at the end of it. It HAS to be science!

    Fine, I’m leaving. Time to worship Tom Cruise in his jetliner spacecraft.

  25. #25 Matt Heath
    September 17, 2008

    @#17: Sure there are Catholics in the debate but by the RC church’s standards that’s not a strong presence. A strong Catholic presence would be something more like 12th century Europe.

  26. #26 Reginald Selkirk
    September 17, 2008

    Auletta said Popes Pius XII, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have expressed “a fundamental interest” in the theory of biological evolution. However, the pontiffs’ hopes that Catholics would gain greater understanding of the issues has not yet materialized, he said.

    Right. That explains this report from April, 2007:
    Evolution can’t be proven: Pope Benedict

  27. #27 Whateverman
    September 17, 2008

    Personally, I don’t find the Catholic institution to have any more credibility or moral authority than I do. Less in a number of areas.

    It’s your Blog, PZ, and you should be able to post whatever’s going through your head. With that said, this last topic just felt a bit too rabid (imho). I enjoy Pharyngula as it almost always demonstrates the value of reason over emotion, logic over faith – but I think this particular entry is not particularly representative of that.

    I’m one of the people you’ve criticized in the past; I tend to look favorably upon attempts to get science and religion to coexist. Although I think this “congress” isn’t going to be particularly effective, each and every instance of religion re-evaluating the cause of this conflict (ie. dogma) is a step in the right direction. I can’t help but giving this a cautious thumbs up – even if at the end of the day nothing’s changed.

  28. #28 James F
    September 17, 2008

    This is excellent news – Stephen Meyer must be apoplectic, no Cardinal Sch÷nborn letter this time around. The Vatican is strengthening its theistic evolutionary philosophy, so yes, there will be lots of theologians. The conference obviously won’t take the position of philosophical naturalism – I think this is what Archbishop Ravasi meant by his “proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution” gaffe. It would have been refreshing if scientific experts weren’t vetted for their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), but they’ve pre-selected a pool of theistic evolutionists for a theistic evolution conference, so it’s not so surprising.

  29. #29 eric
    September 17, 2008

    I can see value in back-to-back presentations of scientific research and theological argument.

    Maybe not this venue, but in general I think that such a direct comparison between theological “research” and scientific research isn’t going to (as PZ argues) make theologians look more credible. IMO its going to have the opposite effect.

  30. #30 tcb
    September 17, 2008

    “HOSANNA! HOSANNA! GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!”

    RAH! RAH! RAH! SISS … BOOM … BAHHHHHHHH!

    (/Twain)

  31. #31 Zeno
    September 17, 2008

    As I like to say, Catholics are just as crazy as other Christian sects except in addition they like their leaders to wear funny hats.

    How cruel of you to attack Catholicism’s one unambiguous advantage over most other Christian sects: funny hats!

  32. #32 Reginald Selkirk
    September 17, 2008

    More from that 2007 article:

    “The pope (John Paul) had his reasons for saying this,” Benedict said. “But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.”
    Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory.

  33. #33 Armchair Dissident
    September 17, 2008

    Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence … and the discourse has suffered accordingly.”

    I’d love to know what the difference is between ‘Catholic’ evolution and evolution.

  34. #34 Matt Heath
    September 17, 2008

    I think all the various Orthodox churches have silly hats. Really it’s only the Protestants that miss out (except the Anglicans who were founded in their present form by Elizabeth I as a compromise between the principles of the Reformation and silly hat wearing).

  35. #35 Rodibidably
    September 17, 2008

    I understand why PZ thinks this is a fraud, but I also see it as a positive step in the right direction. Basically the church is telling it’s 1.howevermany billion members, that ID and creationism are full of shit. That CAN’T be a bad thing.

  36. #36 D.S. Ellis
    September 17, 2008

    Anyone remember that debate between the theological pundits and the supercomputer Deep Thought from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

    “What we demand is an absence of total facts!”

    “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

  37. #37 Sigmund
    September 17, 2008

    #32
    I think all he’s saying is that we shouldn’t take it as gospel.

  38. #38 Canuck
    September 17, 2008

    That would be funny if it weren’t sad. Overly scientific? WTF is up with that. How do you get overly scientific? I would question the contention that such a thing was even possible. Religion really does make people loony.

  39. #39 Michael Kremer
    September 17, 2008

    I suggest everyone read the entire story, and then look a bit farther afield than this one story, before jumping to conclusions.

    PZ cherry-picks the story he links to for the bits that can be made to look bad, and manages to leave out all the parts that might make the conference organizers look good. For example, he leaves out that the organizers hope that “the encounter will help theologians and philosophers be “a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more” to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world.” And, that the organizers said that “hopes that Catholics would gain greater understanding of the issues has not yet materialized.” And, that “the March conference and other initiatives planned by Notre Dame and the Vatican would foster the development of “informed Catholic thought” on the subject.” (Phillip Sloan, who is quoted here and is one of the organizers from Notre Dame, is a historian of science specializing in 18th and 19th century biology.)

    Looking a bit farther afield, one discovers that the conference is not directly being organized by the Vatican, but by two (yes, Catholic) universities: the Gregorian in Rome and Notre Dame in the US.

    Here are a couple of secular sources: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4769085.ece
    http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSLG62672220080916?feedType=RSS&feedName=scienceNews&rpc=22&sp=true

    The Times reports that speakers will include “two Cambridge lecturers, the archaeologist Lord Renfrew, and the paleontologist Simon Conway Morris.”

    And from the Catholic News Agency (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=13812) we learn that the invitees include “Nobel laureate Werner Arber, the Templeton Prize winner Michael Heller, Prof. John Barrow of Cambridge, the great neurologist Marc Jeannerod and many others.”

  40. #40 Heresiarch
    September 17, 2008

    I’d love to know what the difference is between ‘Catholic’ evolution and evolution.

    In ‘Catholic’ evolution, carnivores eat fish instead of red meat on Fridays.

  41. #41 Christophe Thill
    September 17, 2008

    “I’d love to know what the difference is between ‘Catholic’ evolution and evolution.”

    Catholic evolution :
    If put in a suitable environment, a piece of bread can evolve into a piece of the flesh of a man who died 2,000 years ago.

  42. #42 James F
    September 17, 2008

    #39

    Thanks for that, Michael. If Prof. Heller is there, ID is in for a smackdown.

  43. #43 SC
    September 17, 2008

    and that they should be encouraged (but always, also, criticized!)

    In other words, use confusion-torture to make them more pliable. :)

  44. #44 Todd
    September 17, 2008

    I agree with BDC, awesome post title (and article). Can we get that on a T-shirt or other merkindise (sorry)?

  45. #45 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Are you claiming that all scientisis are atheist? Of course the “overly scientific” is meant to be atheist scientists.

    It’s perfectly reasonable for a church to exclude non- believers.

    I view this as a good thing for science.

    If this is to be a conference about evolution then the religious views of those attending is simply not relevant. What would matter would be the scientific credentials of the attendees.

    Where this to be a conference on the interface of evolution and faith, in particular Catholicism then the religious views of the attendees does matter.

    So what is this conference ? A science conference or one looking at science and religion ? Which ever it is, the Catholic Church is not being honest about it.

  46. #46 Darth Wader
    September 17, 2008

    I don’t like things overly sciencey either. Thats why I enjoy Science Lite. Its in the same packaging, but is watered down. Now with half the facts and 10% less integrity of other “world views”.

    Seriously its stupid, but I’d take them being stupid and having a retarded conference than putting scientists under house arrest.

  47. #47 Bernard Bumner
    September 17, 2008

    This is a third-grade bully mentality…

    It’s “Hear hear”, you dolt.

    On the other hand, mocking spelling is obviously an advanced technique, taught only at the highest levels (possibly some sort of advanced degree in schoolyard argumentation)…

    Hypocrite. You simply loathe the Church for its justifiable distaste of your abusive personality, so this is how you strike back.

    I’d imagine that the main source of repulsion for any observer of Catholisism is the pompous dictat handed out to the poor, the vulnerable, and well-meaning believers by a man who claims divinity, sits atop a throne whilst the meek and mild cow at his feet, and lives in a golden palace.

    A virgin who claims authority on sex; a blinkered theologist who claims authority on matters scientific and technological; a cosseted and unworldy aristocrat who claims to understand all things sociological and economic.

  48. #48 JÚr˘me ^
    September 17, 2008

    This conference looks like a good idea to me! It’s way past time the Catholic church incorporated facts from the real world into their theology. Oh, and by the way, they have been far better at this than a lot of Protestant churches, who stick to their fundamentalism since the days of Martin Luther.

  49. #49 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    Poor little deluded Nobody. Uptight Papist, eh?

    This is a third-grade bully mentality

    Touche! Except…

    Little Paul, the prophet who Knows All, including everything within The Realm Of Science, also claims that He Knows All Within The Realm of Religion.

    .
    A poet, no less! Ah yes, the “I know you are but what am I? Take that!” school of rebuttal. You left out “nanny nanny boo boo”. Are you going to stamp your feet and hold your breath because you feel PZ doesn’t respect your irrational belief in mystical bullshit? You’re old enough to put beliefs in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and non-existant deities behind you. Obviously you’re too childish to do so. Go say a few “Hail Marys” on your rosary before you have an apoplexy, and step away from the computer, dolt.

  50. #50 strongCatholicpresence386sx
    September 17, 2008

    I’d love to know what the difference is between ‘Catholic’ evolution and evolution.

    Simple. Catholic evolution is evolution with a strong Catholic presence! There you go.

  51. #51 Merkin Muffley
    September 17, 2008

    I am your merkin.

  52. #52 Stephen Couchman
    September 17, 2008

    I just want to strap these people into a chair, break out the Beethoven and eye drops, and show them two slides:

    1. The problem with evolution is there’s too darned much science in it.

    2. The problem with engineering is there’s too darned much math in it.

    And repeat until they show some sign of revulsion at the cognitive dissonance.

    Oh, and #23? Right on. D’Souza is a disgusting creature, a man whose only reason for pursing the credentials of a higher education was to bolster himself as an opponent of intellectual integrity, to use his degrees as a footstool at the rim of our common well, the better to pour his poison in.

  53. #53 astrobiologiste
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, I’m going to have to ask you to give them the benefit of the doubt. I studied all my life in a catholic school in Mexico, and my biology teacher in 7th grade was an ex-seminarist who had a degree in biology and no problems talking about evolution. I’ve also met several theologians who have no problem discussion the possibility of god not existing (I met one in the catholic high school i attended).Also, catholics in general, at least in Mexico (with a few notable exceptions) are open to the scientific facts.
    Theologians are serious folk, and have a good background in philosophy and are miles away from the creationists/ID bunch who, sometimes, can’t even spell correctly.

  54. #54 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    PZ cherry-picks the story he links to for the bits that can be made to look bad, and manages to leave out all the parts that might make the conference organizers look good. For example, he leaves out that the organizers hope that “the encounter will help theologians and philosophers be “a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more” to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world.”

    So it is NOT a science conference.

    Why are the organisers claim it is then ?

  55. #55 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory.

    Sorry for the tangent, but this statement brought to mind a segment from the National Geographic program “How to Build a Better Creature”. Although the program was a shameless “infomercial” for Spore, there was a lot of fascinating evo-devo presented. One piece in particular discussed the factors that contributed to the size of the human brain compared to other primates. All other primates have very powerful jaw muscles that restrict the size of the skull. Only humans have a mutation there that essentially gives us a form of “muscular dystrophy” of the jaw muscle, and this is very likely what allowed the human skull to enlarge to accommodate a larger brain. It seemed to me to be a very powerful argument for evolution and does not require a 2 million year laboratory experiment to replicate it in order to “verify or disprove” the theory.
    The thing is, it is not just this example, everywhere you look in biology, you see the same kind thing, small changes in the genome or its expression resulting in different species.

    “Means, motive and opportunity” all seem to be present and observable in support of evolution, isn’t that enough to “convict”, to say evolution is guilty of all this wonderful diversity around us?

  56. #56 Chemist
    September 17, 2008

    “What’s for dessert?” (#6)

    Why, a cup of blood and a loaf (biscuit) of flesh, of course!

    (Think I’ll dine down at the local McD or KFC.) ;-)

  57. #57 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    Merkin, huh? Are you implying the Vatican is lousy?

  58. #58 SC
    September 17, 2008

    For example, he leaves out that the organizers hope that “the encounter will help theologians and philosophers be “a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more” to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world.”

    High hopes indeed. I’m so tired of these people. They can take their sham humility and their “informed Catholic thought” and shove it. Seriously. What knowledge have they produced to justify anything but humility in the face of science?

  59. #59 Jason
    September 17, 2008

    Afterword, the Catholic Church will take on the issue of poverty, with a meeting in a room made of solid gold.
    This will be followed by an all you can eat brunch, featuring the worlds finest caterers, in which the Vatican will discuss the issue of global hunger.
    The Holy Council will then have a meeting in the Vatican’s own coal burning power plant, (driven there by SUV motorcade) to conteplate what to do about Global Warming.
    Finally, the church will solidify its commitment to rational, transparent, open dialogue, by sealing off the Vatican from the outside world forever.

  60. #60 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, I’m going to have to ask you to give them the benefit of the doubt. I studied all my life in a catholic school in Mexico, and my biology teacher in 7th grade was an ex-seminarist who had a degree in biology and no problems talking about evolution. I’ve also met several theologians who have no problem discussion the possibility of god not existing (I met one in the catholic high school i attended).Also, catholics in general, at least in Mexico (with a few notable exceptions) are open to the scientific facts.
    Theologians are serious folk, and have a good background in philosophy and are miles away from the creationists/ID bunch who, sometimes, can’t even spell correctly.

    I think the problem is that the organisers are claiming this is a scientific conference. Religion does not belong in a scientific conference. If they want the conference to look at how religion interacts with science, and in particular with evolution, then they need to stop claiming it is a scientific conference and sell it as a theological one.

  61. #61 Roger
    September 17, 2008

    Hmmm. Interesting that this comes within days of the Anglican church announcing a proposed apology to Darwin. Do you get the feeling that Christianity is backtracking rapidly in the hope of stopping the haemorraging of it’s flock ?

    Rog

  62. #62 dubiquiabs
    September 17, 2008

    Catholics are just as crazy as other Christian sects except in addition they like their leaders to wear funny hats.

    Hey, the RCC is a business. Consistent with the business model, there is a need for further product differentiation, beyond the funny hats. The conference aims to update the product:

    ‘Buy Catholic Woo?! New and improved, goes down better!!
    Now with 30% more Science content than other Woo!!!’

    (Suck on that, Baptists, Evangelicals, et al.)

  63. #63 Kobra
    September 17, 2008

    BLAM!

    That was the sound of PZ smacking the Vatican with the Warhammer of Fallacy! (+5, by the way.)

  64. #64 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    HOSANNA! HOSANNA! GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!

    Or, as we say in my religion, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

    And Michael Kremer, I note that you don’t actually refute any of the direct quotes about the “not too sciency”, religion-friendly nature of the conference and its participants (and here’s a hint: a “Templeton Prize winner” is by definition religion-friendly).

  65. #65 Bert Chadick
    September 17, 2008

    Top five things said at the Vatican’s Evolution Congress:
    5. Ooh! Nice Hat!
    4. So what’s the deal with all the crackers and cheap wine?
    3. No Padre, I don’t think alter boys are pretty due to natural selection.
    2. Mr Donohue, please stop burning heretics out on the lawn.
    1. So, Your Excellency. What do we do now? Do you mail me the check or what?

  66. #66 Glen Davidson
    September 17, 2008

    PZ’s objections seemed harmless but overdone–until I hit the “overly scientific” BS.

    Freedom and all that is a good reason not to be terribly concerned about people trying to make religion and science compatible, so long as they’re not going to be anti-science. When they’re worried that a discussion could have participants that are “overly scientific,” you know that they’re just concerned about those who would use the same standards to judge the Resurrection as they do an auto accident, or malarial evolution.

    Screw that.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  67. #67 Interrobang
    September 17, 2008

    For example, he leaves out that the organizers hope that “the encounter will help theologians and philosophers be “a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more” to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world.”

    That’s not “cherry-picking,” it’s leaving out information that’s irrelevant to the point. If the point of the conference is to educate theologians and philosophers, then it’s a theology and philosophy conference, and shouldn’t be masquerading as a scientific conference.

    Me, I’m an arts and social sciences kind of person all the way, so intersectionality (woo! grad school word!) really isn’t a big deal to me. On the other hand, the point of having an interdisciplinary conference is to, you know, cross-pollinate ideas (a concept to which the Catholic Church seems highly resistant if not immune), not to piggyback prestige off of the most highly-regarded discipline of the bunch…

  68. #68 AAB
    September 17, 2008

    The problem with evolution is that scientists are abandoning it by the flocks. Even the promiment atheist biologist PZ Myers quips in his latest post:
    “..the whole problem with evolutionary biology is that we don’t have enough religion in it..”

  69. #69 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Another point that need to be made is that a conference that looks at how religion and science can co-exist should still invite those who think they cannot.

  70. #70 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, I think you’re fundamentally wrong on this post. Yes, the “overly scientific” quote is risible, but I’m willing to attribute that to a language-challenged writer trying to sneak around the word “atheistic”.

    This conference strikes me as an attempt to reconcile science and religion in a rational way. Yes, I know that you consider the attempt preposterous, but I see it as a step forward for them. The mistake you are making is “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. You would condemn Austalopithecus as fundamentally not human, where I see Australopithecus as an evolutionary step forward.

  71. #71 Jams
    September 17, 2008

    Pontifical Council for Culture!

    …is Bono on that?

  72. #72 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    The problem with evolution is that scientists are abandoning it by the flocks. Even the promiment atheist biologist PZ Myers quips in his latest post:
    “..the whole problem with evolutionary biology is that we don’t have enough religion in it..”

    Please tell me this was supposed to be humour.

  73. #73 SiMPel MYnd
    September 17, 2008

    PZ cherry-picks the story he links to for the bits that can be made to look bad, and manages to leave out all the parts that might make the conference organizers look good.

    And which parts are those that make the organizers look good? From my perspective, the examples that are cited don’t make the organizers look particularly good. Headed in the right direction? Maybe. Let’s see what comes out of the conference. But, good? No way.

    Why should we reward them for being humble about what science reveals and listening to what scientists say about… oh… SCIENCE??!! (The reason they wear pointy hats is because it makes it easier for them to bury their heads in the sand. )

    That’s the real problem in this country (US)–the huge anti-intellectual sentiment. If an idea or area of study isn’t simple or doesn’t conform to “common sense”, then the average guy on the street doesn’t listen. They would rather elect a VP with “common sense”, “small town wisdom”, and “Xtian values” than someone who actually has experience and knowledge dealing with national issues. They would rather believe that the Earth is a few thousand years old because some old book, with enough inconsistencies and holes in it to drive an ark through, says so. They would rather believe that little Timmy has autism due to vaccinations because some celebrity says so.

    So, no, I don’t think that the conference organizers, or anyone else who refuses to use their Zeus-given brains, look particularly “good”.

  74. #74 Steven Dunlap
    September 17, 2008

    SteveM @55

    The old “it’s not something you can prove in a laboratory!” line. We’ve heard that one before. Your examples are all good, but lost on people who wipe their butts with evidence. Latching on to only one way to verify evidence as a way to attack the evidence and rational inferences made from it cleverly side-steps the whole underlying subtext: (which I liberally paraphrase) “I have no respect or use for evidence what-so-ever as all I need to know is in this book. But if I did regard evidence as having any importance, this evidence does not conform to my 5th grade understanding of how science works. Therefore, evolution can’t be true. So there.”

    Nice try though.

  75. #75 GentlePath
    September 17, 2008

    Catholic evolution is evolution with a strong Catholic presence! There you go.

    Catholic evolution begins with and is guided by an imaginary magical being who generally sits back and lets science roll along its merry way, but occasionally decides to magically suspend the rules.

    That’s allowed because he (not she) created the rules.

    Occasionally irreverent people forget who’s the boss so the magical being does some big juju as a reminder. That’s when you get Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich. But more often it’s just the every day magic of men in dresses that say special words which magically transform the flesh of a dead god into a cracker.

    This goes way beyond a mere presence. It’s super-duper magic + science.

  76. #76 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    This conference strikes me as an attempt to reconcile science and religion in a rational way. Yes, I know that you consider the attempt preposterous, but I see it as a step forward for them. The mistake you are making is “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. You would condemn Austalopithecus as fundamentally not human, where I see Australopithecus as an evolutionary step forward.

    You did not bother explaining what religion would be doing at a SCIENTIFIC conference.

    It seems you do not think this is a scientific conference, so can you explain why organisers are claiming it is ? It seems to me that you are condoning their wilful dishonesty. They are trying to pretend this is a scientific conference in order to garner some kudos, and yet it is really a theological conference. Such blatant dishonesty is not a step forward.

  77. #77 gma
    September 17, 2008

    I have the perfect US delegation for this conference: John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    He is wants the US to be on god’s side and she is a distinguished palinologist.

    The US will be a better place if they reform the Vatican instead of the US with more of the same we got from god’s disciple GWB.

  78. #78 Jose
    September 17, 2008

    Or we could, you know, approcah them on this in an intellectual and civil manner, and encourage them to embrace even more science.

    But, no, let’s dump all over them with scatological imagery straight out of the Middle School handbook. That’ll work *much* better. Has anyone fired off the “Liar liar pants on fire” gambit yet?

    Richard Harris said: Fuck the Pope

    Another genius speaks!

  79. #79 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Or we could, you know, approcah them on this in an intellectual and civil manner, and encourage them to embrace even more science.

    You mean civil as including being honest ?

    What is honest about their claiming this is a scientific conference when in fact it is a theological one ? Such a conference may well have some value if it helps them embrace reason but there is no excuse for them lying about the nature of the event.

  80. #80 Barry
    September 17, 2008

    Why all this unwarranted ridicule of “funny hats” and dress? It’s almost as if some of you have never been to a university graduation ceremony. Is that true?

  81. #81 Janine ID
    September 17, 2008

    I’m proud to be a merkin!
    Where at least I know I’m free!

  82. #82 BadeMart
    September 17, 2008

    What about simply waiting for the proceedings. Proof is so much better than prejudice, is it not?

  83. #83 dinkum
    September 17, 2008

    Or we could, you know, approcah them on this in an intellectual and civil manner, and encourage them to embrace even more science.

    Er, yeah. ‘Cause that’s worked SO fucken well to this point…

  84. #84 Jose
    September 17, 2008

    What is honest about their claiming this is a scientific conference when in fact it is a theological one ? Such a conference may well have some value if it helps them embrace reason but there is no excuse for them lying about the nature of the event.

    No, there is no excuse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil and try to draw them into the light of reality even more.

    But, you know, keep trying that “fuck the Pope” stratagem and fantasies of shit laced banquets. I’m sure that will work real soon now.

  85. #85 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    Why all this unwarranted ridicule of “funny hats” and dress? It’s almost as if some of you have never been to a university graduation ceremony. Is that true?

    Ah, but graduation is one day a year, the Pope and his heirarchy wear theirs every day.

  86. #86 Jose
    September 17, 2008

    Er, yeah. ‘Cause that’s worked SO fucken well to this point…

    If you say so.

    Will you be wearing your “Fuck the Pope” T-Shirt during the conference?

  87. #87 Hans
    September 17, 2008

    I’m proud to be a merkin!
    Where at least I know I’m free!

    And if I can’t be free, I’ll be cheap!

  88. #88 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    No, there is no excuse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be civil and try to draw them into the light of reality even more.

    You have already admitted they are dishonest.

    Why do you expect them to suddenly change ?

  89. #89 negentropyeater
    September 17, 2008

    This kind of conference is a big waste of time.

    To all these NOMA proponents, Catholic scientists, and other Science/Faith Compatibilizers, I challenge them to answer only one question :

    - say, at what time in our Evolution did homonids get a soul ?

    That should keep them busy for a while !

  90. #90 David in NY
    September 17, 2008

    I actually thought that the existing Catholic position on evolution was not bad. Does anyone here actually know what it is? I do fear that this may be a step backward, but I’m now sure that all the fulminating from PZ (though the “too much science” line surely begs for it) and others helps make clear what’s going on. (On re-reading the thread, I thank Sigmund and James F, who, unlike most others here, do give a little information and suggest that, contrary to my supposition, this may be a step away from flirtation with the ID-creationist position.)

  91. #91 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Or we could, you know, approcah them on this in an intellectual and civil manner, and encourage them to embrace even more science.

    But, no, let’s dump all over them with scatological imagery straight out of the Middle School handbook. That’ll work *much* better. Has anyone fired off the “Liar liar pants on fire” gambit yet?

    Richard Harris said: Fuck the Pope

    Another genius speaks!

    Concern noted.

  92. #92 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    Matt@76 argues that, since they claim this to be a scientific conference, they are being dishonest. My impression is that they are claiming this to be a conference addressing science, philosophy, and theology. There will apparently be credentialed scientists present. It is therefore not *exclusively* a scientific conference, but rather a conference *including* science.

    The fundamental difference here is that you prefer an exclusive approach, where they are attempting an inclusive approach — which I find more open-minded than your approach.

  93. #93 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    What’s the problem here. The Vatican is holding a conference to bring itself up to speed on the current status of evolutionary science in order to develop an “informed Catholic thought” on the subject. So why on earth would they invite creationists. They would have nothing to contribute to the discussion. The purpose is for the Vatican to reconcile contemporary science to their theology. So why on earth would Dawkins or PZ be invited since they have no theology and would have nothing to contribute to the purpose of the conference.

  94. #94 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    I actually thought that the existing Catholic position on evolution was not bad. Does anyone here actually know what it is? I do fear that this may be a step backward, but I’m now sure that all the fulminating from PZ (though the “too much science” line surely begs for it) and others helps make clear what’s going on. (On re-reading the thread, I thank Sigmund and James F, who, unlike most others here, do give a little information and suggest that, contrary to my supposition, this may be a step away from flirtation with the ID-creationist position.)

    Why should it take so much effort for the Catholic Church to decide its position with regards evolution ?

    How long does it take to say “Yeah, what the scientists say.” ? The only thing of importance is the science. Nothing else should matter, and whilst the Catholics continue to think it does, we have a problem.

  95. #95 extatyzoma
    September 17, 2008

    ‘overly scientific’ translates as ‘those who see evolution as an entirely naturalistic mechanism/process’.

    the vatican: grotesque old men playing at being important.

  96. #96 Armchair Dissident
    September 17, 2008

    In ‘Catholic’ evolution, carnivores eat fish instead of red meat on Fridays.

    I didn’t get that, so I had to look up the relevance of fish and Fridays to catholics. Wow, that’s a whole load of stupid I’m never going to be able to un-learn!

  97. #97 Bob L
    September 17, 2008

    Am I the only one who is stunned that PZ used the word “merkin” in the title of this post?

  98. #98 dinkum
    September 17, 2008

    Will you be wearing your “Fuck the Pope” T-Shirt during the conference?

    Don’t have one. Can I borrow yours?

  99. #99 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    What’s the problem here. The Vatican is holding a conference to bring itself up to speed on the current status of evolutionary science in order to develop an “informed Catholic thought” on the subject. So why on earth would they invite creationists. They would have nothing to contribute to the discussion. The purpose is for the Vatican to reconcile contemporary science to their theology. So why on earth would Dawkins or PZ be invited since they have no theology and would have nothing to contribute to the purpose of the conference.

    Why does the Catholic Church bother having a position with regards evolution anyway ? They only comment they should make on the validity of evolution, or any science, is that the Catholic Church is not a scientific organisation and that questions about science are outside their remit.

  100. #100 Michael Kremer
    September 17, 2008

    It’s quite clear from the whole report and from other sources that the conference is not intended to be purely scientific. It is intended to foster a dialogue between theology (and philosophy) and science.

    My guess is that the reporter for Catholic News Service did not quote exactly what was being said to her, or that some misunderstanding was involved — since she was interviewing or quoting from people whose first language is not English. I would guess that Leclerc’s point (represented in the story as his saying that the conference would be “strictly scientific”) was that the conference involves a dialogue between science and theology, and that creationism and ID are not scientific, and so would be excluded. And I would surmise that Ravasi’s point (represented in the story by a reference to “overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection”) was that the conference would not be inviting speakers who adopt a “scientistic” conception according to which science provides the answers to all interesting questions and thereby rule out all possible dialogue between science and religion. That such speakers would not be invited to a conference aimed at promoting such dialogue is not surprising.

  101. #101 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    the vatican: grotesque old men playing at being important.

    The problem is that they ARE important, vastly more important the PZ or anybody else here. They lead a group of about a billion people and they have enormous influence over those billion people. I would think that, if we atheists want to advance our agenda, we would applaud the Vatican’s effort as a step in the right direction. Denigrating their efforts is an act of pride and anger, not a rational expression of a desire to advance our agenda.

    PZ’s mistake is that he substitutes irrational anger for irrational faith. Rationalism will get us all further down the right road than either anger or faith.

  102. #102 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    It’s quite clear from the whole report and from other sources that the conference is not intended to be purely scientific. It is intended to foster a dialogue between theology (and philosophy) and science.

    Then it is a total waste of time.

    The Catholic Church should not have a position with regards evolution, other than to say it is not an issue they deal with as it lies outside their expertise.

    Either they accept the science or they reject it. If it is the former then why the need to discuss it ? If it is the latter then they simply intellectually dishonest.

  103. #103 Ploon
    September 17, 2008

    Barry #80:

    Lighten up. A sense of humour can be a great help in coping with life.

    And, funny enough, no, at my university graduation there weren’t any hats or robes that I recall, maybe because I did’t graduate in the US. Your point?

  104. #104 Mena
    September 17, 2008

    Would it be cynical for me to think that the only reason that they don’t want creationists or IDists to attend is that they want to exclude protestants, especially of the loud mouth Southern Baptist flavor who don’t think Catholics are actually Christians?

  105. #105 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    at what time in our Evolution did homonids get a soul ?

    Would it have been a sin to perform abortions on Homo erectus? Homo habilis? How about Neanderthals — did their fetuses have souls, even though they aren’t on the path of modern human evolution?

  106. #106 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Rationalism will get us all further down the right road than either anger or faith.

    Rationalism would be the Catholic Church admitting it has no place in deciding the validity of scientific theories.

    The only dialogue theology needs with science is to accept that the scientists say. Theology has nothing to say to science. It really should be a monologue, with science doing the talking.

  107. #107 Ploon
    September 17, 2008

    Mena #104:

    You don’t need to reason that far: the current pope is on record as saying that non-Catholic christians are not real christians.

    I think it’s probably because protestants don’t wear funny hats (except for Anglicans, yes, but in some ways they are more Catholic than the pope).

  108. #108 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Would it be cynical for me to think that the only reason that they don’t want creationists or IDists to attend is that they want to exclude protestants, especially of the loud mouth Southern Baptist flavor who don’t think Catholics are actually Christians?

    I can just see it.

    Baptist: You do know that Catholics are not real Christians ?

    Catholic: We fecking are, you gobshite!

  109. #109 Randy
    September 17, 2008

    Phillip Sloan, a professor at Notre Dame, told the press conference the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence … and the discourse has suffered accordingly.”

    The phantom ‘debate’ itself exists solely because of religion, not because of its exclusion. The scientific debate, the only one that matters, ended more than a century ago. Catholicism (indeed, religion in general) has absolutely nothing relevant to say on the matter whatsoever. As such, I give this conference no credence whatsoever and should be ignored by all who have been invited to take part in the charade.

  110. #110 Gibbon
    September 17, 2008

    If it is true that scientists who promote a non-conflicting co-existence of science and religion are guilty of compromising the public face of science, then it is equally true that scientists who promote science as conflicting and hostile to religion are guilty of the exact same thing.

    Science, by its nature, especially in regards to religion, is passive; it is not inherently agressive or hostile towards religion. And you guys have an unrealistically narrow and myopic view of religion if you believe otherwise.

  111. #111 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Science, by its nature, especially in regards to religion, is passive; it is not inherently agressive or hostile towards religion. And you guys have an unrealistically narrow and myopic view of religion if you believe otherwise.

    It’s not the scientists trying to corrupt religion. Any blowback is a result of an intrusion by religion into things scientific.

  112. #112 negentropyeater
    September 17, 2008

    Maybe these scientists and theologians at that conference have found some fossilised souls ?
    If not, what are they going to talk about ?

  113. #113 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    If it is true that scientists who promote a non-conflicting co-existence of science and religion are guilty of compromising the public face of science, then it is equally true that scientists who promote science as conflicting and hostile to religion are guilty of the exact same thing.

    The only tenable position religion can take towards science is one of simply accepting what science tells us.

    Once religion gets the idea it has a place in deciding what is and is not valid science we have a problem. There is no debate to be had between science and religion. Theology cannot inform science of anything, and if theology rejects what science says then it condemns itself to irrelevance.

    The Catholic Church has no more business taking a position on evolution than McDonald’s do.

  114. #114 Glazius
    September 17, 2008

    Aside from that comment about “the other extreme of the evolution debate” I actually can’t view this too badly. I mean, the Vatican has had an in-house observatory for centuries.

    …yeah, and a Google just revealed that the guy in charge had been sacked for standing up against Cardinal Schoenbaugh for his endorsement of ID. If Wojtyla was still in power I wouldn’t worry, but Ratzinger?

    The current on-the-books position, per “Humani Generis”, is that it’s no violation of faith to discuss biological evolution, even of humans, as long as it only concerns pre-existent and living matter. Which is like a mom warning her kid that he can play baseball as long as he only hits the ball with a bat instead of, say, his arm.

    I’d half believe that this was a matter of confusion on the cardinal’s part: he thought the sort of scientists you only see in Jack Chick tracts, who say that “gravity has evolved” and “evolution disproves morality”, actually exist. Certainly the language of “Humani Generis” indicates that was a common belief.

    If it wasn’t for the Vatican’s astronomer getting canned, that’s how I’d explain this. But now? I’m not so sure.

  115. #115 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    Science, by its nature, especially in regards to religion, is passive; it is not inherently agressive or hostile towards religion.

    That is exactly true — science is only hostile to religions that make any truth claims about the world. Of course, apart from Deism, that pretty much covers every extant religion, but in principle the statement is correct…

  116. #116 Armchair Dissident
    September 17, 2008

    And you guys have an unrealistically narrow and myopic view of religion if you believe otherwise.

    Terribly sorry. I didn’t realise that it was the scientists that coined idea of creationism.

  117. #117 MartinB
    September 17, 2008

    To Matt at #102
    “Either they accept the science or they reject it. If it is the former then why the need to discuss it ? ”

    Now this is simply ridiculous, considering how people like Dawkins, Myers etc. use evolution to *attack* religion. Of course the Vatican should try to understand exactly what it says and what it does not say and try to see if they can integrate this into their religion.
    And *of course* a conference on evolution organised by the catholic church is not a standard scientific conference – that much should be obvious. (Sorry, I know I should add more insults, but somehow it’s not my style.)

  118. #118 JonathanL
    September 17, 2008

    While there has been Catholic commentary on the compatibility of faith and evolutionary theories, there is no definitive written source to which people can refer to learn the church’s position, he said.

    Sloan said he hoped the March conference and other initiatives planned by Notre Dame and the Vatican would foster the development of “informed Catholic thought” on the subject.

    Well, I’m going to go on the side of seeing this as a possible positive step. Anyone in the church could investigate evolution in an independent manner but I suspect there is no way for them to avoid throwing theology in there when they try to do it in an official capacity. If they can investigate and discuss evolution on it’s own and then discuss the theological implications separately then maybe they can come up with something that at least is closer to reality. If however they do not have people who can explain/defend evolution well enough they may just come out of it with a vague and uncommitted position.

    I think getting a clearer position from the catholic church discounting creationism would be a positive step. That they will still believe god set the whole thing in motion is unavoidable for now.

  119. #119 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    some of you have never been to a university graduation ceremony. – SteveM

    Well, not my own. I’ve had two opportunities to do so, but on both occasions felt I had better things to do than sit around listening to tedious speeches in a silly hat.

  120. #120 JStein
    September 17, 2008

    You know, PZ, I always suspected there were too many hardline supporters of Newton’s laws. It’s very much like a cult.

    C’mon, these guys are ridiculous and posturing to make it seem like they’ve entered the twenty-first century. What idiots.

  121. #121 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Now this is simply ridiculous, considering how people like Dawkins, Myers etc. use evolution to *attack* religion. Of course the Vatican should try to understand exactly what it says and what it does not say and try to see if they can integrate this into their religion.

    I cannot speak for PZ, but Dawkins is on record as saying he would be far less outspoken against religion were religion not always intruding in the scientific debate.

    Religion does not have a place speaking about the origins of the universe, the origins of life, or of man. Those are scientific questions.

    And what is this “integrating” into their religion nonsense ? The only integration required is for Catholicism to decide not to take a position with regards evolution.

    And *of course* a conference on evolution organised by the catholic church is not a standard scientific conference – that much should be obvious. (Sorry, I know I should add more insults, but somehow it’s not my style.)

    Not obvious to the organisers it would seem. Which may explain why they are claiming it is a scientific conference.

    As for your being insulting, you did OK. Speaking out of your backside is enough to establish you as being a rude fucker.

  122. #122 a_different_Joe
    September 17, 2008

    Speaking as a reformed Catholic, I rather suspect that the phrase ‘informed Catholic thought’ refers to how they wish to inform Catholics about what they should think.

  123. #123 Jaded Skeptic
    September 17, 2008

    It makes me think back to the Pope’s visit to France last week. It went in hip deep about his respect and appreciation of “secular”. Then he went on to say there was not enough religion in the secular world…pointing to his actual opinion. After all the time he has worked to try and bring Anglican, Jewish, and Muslims together with Catholics to go after secularism, it is ridiculous to see this. It is clearly a new maneuver, after the speech to Muslims blew up in his face, to go after secular governance with a smile and scourge behind his back. This brings us back to this post, clearly a way to smile about science, while excluding those that could embarrass them and point out the trouble with faith. No doubt there will be a lot of talk about the wonder of waterfalls and sunsets. Does this means that the Church is excepting evolution again. They keep flip flopping in the way only an infallible personage can.

  124. #124 MartinB
    September 17, 2008

    “I cannot speak for PZ, but Dawkins is on record as saying he would be far less outspoken against religion were religion not always intruding in the scientific debate.”

    Well, Dawkins book has a chapter called “why there is almost certainly no god” (may be slightly off, quoting from memory). He uses evolution as an argument. So is it surprising that the church decides to look closely at evolution?

    “Religion does not have a place speaking about the origins of the universe, the origins of life, or of man. Those are scientific questions. ”

    Yes. I agree 110% ;-)
    But they are entitled (and welcome) to organise a conference to learn about it and discuss its philosophical implications.

  125. #125 Brachinus
    September 17, 2008

    He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

    So the world’s biggest Christian church declares that creationism doesn’t work as science, doesn’t work as philosophy, and doesn’t even work as theology?

    I can think of better ways to respond to that than by bashing the people who said it.

  126. #126 Jose
    September 17, 2008

    Why do you expect them to suddenly change ?

    Where did I say I did? All I advocate is talk and dialog, and I get mindless derision and labeled a “concern troll”. That’s why you lose.

    So don’t talk. Don’t engage. Call them names and howl your little insults.

    And when you lose the next election, and the next, and the next, blame everyone but yourselves. It’s be highly entertaining.

  127. #127 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    I actually thought that the existing Catholic position on evolution was not bad. Does anyone here actually know what it is? I do fear that this may be a step backward,…

    I don’t know what it is now but when I was growing up Catholic back in the ’60′s, it was clearly “Science is Science and Religion is Religion and never the ‘twain shall meet”. I was taught in CCD (catechism) that science is the proper tool to understand the workings of the universe. That the universe is rational and capable of being completely understood rationally. That faith was central to salvation, that faith was belief without proof, that if there was anything that could not be explained rationally, it would be proof of God and thus an end to faith. Yada yada yada. Therefore, it seems to me this conference is indeed a step backwards, an attempt to once again inject religion into science and not the other way ’round.

  128. #128 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Well, Dawkins book has a chapter called “why there is almost certainly no god” (may be slightly off, quoting from memory). He uses evolution as an argument. So is it surprising that the church decides to look closely at evolution?

    They hardly need a conference to do that. Can they not go online and but some books on the subject from Amazon ?

    The idea of a conference is that the is a mutual exchange of ideas. Theology has nothing to offer science. A better idea might be a series of lectures on the current state of evolution to which those senior in the Catholic hierarchy are invited.

    But they are entitled (and welcome) to organise a conference to learn about it and discuss its philosophical implications.

    Again, a conference is about the exchange of ideas. When it comes to science, it is science that should do the talking. Catholicism should simply listen.

    By all this talk of organising conferences the Catholic Church is merely trying to pretend it has a place in debating scientific theory. It has no such place, and it attempts to claim it does are merely it being self-important. Scientists should refrain from indulging the church in its attempts to appear more important that it is.

  129. #129 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    On of the things that help Cristianitty to grow in the first place was it,s capacity to absorb new ideas. It mingled the misticism of the orient and the racionality of the greek phylosophy. But now is on the verge of become a piece of museum.

    But at least they still have an advantage. They are no longer fundamentalist.

    Galileo gives them a clue “the bible is about how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes”…

    So they now can accept that science contradicts it, and just say… they bible is a alegory, it should not be interpretend literally (as a result other christian groups call them traitors…)

    I they put a good party where good scientiest can join, discus, and have a good dinner. Good.

    Let them have their theologist interpret their findings, thats their problem, not ours. And if they learn a little inf the process… also is good.

    What is important is to know is that the Catholic church is moving from a lukewam aceptance, to a fully acceptance

    Today, the position of Catholic Church on evolution is:

    According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5 – 4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.[10]
    (Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, plenary sessions held in Rome 2000-2002, published July 2004)

    Wow.. i just wish that all chatolics read it… this would avoid me many discusions.

    And this is very important to note:

    Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science. ”

    –Fr. George Coyne, Vatican’s chief astronomer between 1978 and 2006

    Independently of their dogmas, also there are intelligent people on the vatican…

    Just remember a certain fellow from the “PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdscien/own/documents/hawking.html

  130. #130 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Of course there is not shortage of conferences on evolution held around the world each year.

    Why cannot the Catholic Church merely send people to some of those ? I suppose the topics being discussed might be beyond most priests, but then that is even more reason why the Catholic Church should not be taking a position with regards evolution.

  131. #131 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Now this is simply ridiculous, considering how people like Dawkins, Myers etc. use evolution to *attack* religion.

    Dawkins, Myers, etc. attack religion where it makes claims that are demonstrably false. Do you think this is wrong? Is there something special about religion that makes it off limits to criticism?

  132. #132 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    “Religion does not have a place speaking about the origins of the universe, the origins of life, or of man. Those are scientific questions. ”
    Yes. I agree 110% ;-)
    But they are entitled (and welcome) to organise a conference to learn about it and discuss its philosophical implications.

    Of course they’re entitled to organize a conference like this — so are the believers in Thor, or in pixies, or in Martians. But it’s silly.

    Put another way, the Church doesn’t feel the need to organize such conferences on quantum mechanics, or plate tectonics, or any of the other domains of science. The fact that it does about evolution only speaks to how problematic its approach to the development of humans is, and not to any problems in evolution. Or put another way, the Church may need this conference, but evolution doesn’t.

  133. #133 Hairhead
    September 17, 2008

    ” . . . all to decorate the rotting flesh of their decrepit dogma with the jewels of science.”

    PZ! Must you be so circumspect? Tell us how you *really* feel!

    /snark off

    Thanks very much for my daily dose of contempt-of-religion. I take you the way I take a much-needed prescription. Religious-respect-free, I can breathe(think) clearly for another few hours.

  134. #134 Red
    September 17, 2008

    I just found out what a merkin is. It all makes sense now.

  135. #135 lurker_above
    September 17, 2008

    The one thing the church has always been clear on is the origin of Original Sin. It has always been attributed to the disobedience of a very real couple named Adam and Eve. After all, someone had to commit the first sin, otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for baptism and Jesus dying for our sins and all that other stuff.

    Please, O Catholic Congress on Evolution, definitively state how the doctrine of Original Sin comports with the church’s mealy-mouthed embrace of the theory of evolution.

  136. #136 And-U-Say
    September 17, 2008

    OK, we need a translation of this article. ’bout time someone provided one:

    The Catholic Church announced today that it is having a conference on how to deal with recent scientific work that has reduced the size of the gaps into which they try to pry their religious dogma.

    “When the Catholic Chuch was first formed, we could put our religion anywhere, there were no areas of understanding which could create something such as a gap” said a spokesman for the church. “Then that whole Gallileo thing occured and although we denied it, there was a realization that there were some areas we had to pull out of if the church was to remain relevant or even sane.”

    “As time passed, new discoveries like germ theory, anatomy, chemistry, geology, and others forced a general retreat in our dogma necessatating occasional reformulations which would fit into these newly created and rapidly shrinking ‘gaps’.” said the spokesman who spoke on the condition on anonimity because, “well, you know what happens when you try to be honest in these matters.”

    The newly revised dogma generated by this conference will be smaller, lighter, and well able to fit in these smaller gaps and still not look completely stupid, at least to those who have some gullability.

    *****************************
    There… much better.

  137. #137 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    This is not a conference ABOUT science. It is not even a conference about science versus faith. It is a conference about faith in light of contemporary science. To be ignorant of contemporary science might lead the faithful to conclude that science is contradicting faith. Science cannot do that. So in order to translate current science to faith, one must know what is being translated, i.e. current science. This is the way in which “informed Catholic thought” is formulated. The primacy of faith requires this and I suspect this is the purpose of the conference. It is to reconcile contemporary science to faith. There is no mystery here. The notification of the conference is quite clear on that.

  138. #138 robinsrule
    September 17, 2008

    Chris@101:

    …we would applaud the Vatican’s effort as a step in the right direction

    You know the story about the scorpion and the frog?. The scorpion in this case being the Vatican.

  139. #139 Hairhead
    September 17, 2008

    And-you-say, that was *outstanding!*

  140. #140 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    Now this is simply ridiculous, considering how people like Dawkins, Myers etc. use evolution to *attack* religion. Of course the Vatican should try to understand exactly what it says and what it does not say and try to see if they can integrate this into their religion.

    They don’t use evolution to attack religion, they use it to show that the world can be understand without religion. They attack religion using religion’s own arguments and showing them to be ridiculous.

    As for the church trying to “integrate it into their religion”, it already was, fully integrated, that God made the universe to be completely understood by people without having to believe in God. That faith in God had to be a completely free choice, if the universe could not be understood rationally then one would be forced to believe in God and so without free choice. Seperate magistera I think Gould called it. What they are doing now is a step backward, an attempt to inject religion into science. There is nothing in science that can “inform” theology. By definition.

  141. #141 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    Re 129:
    Galileo gives them a clue “the bible is about how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes”…

    Not Galileo:

    “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes.”
    — Cardinal Baronius, 1615

  142. #142 Jordan S
    September 17, 2008

    Haven’t you ever played poker PZ? You need to let other players at the table take each other out if you’re ever going to wind up the winner. You can’t beat everybody at the table yourself. This is great news. Catholics make up an increasing number of conservatives. Didn’t nine out of eleven (I think it was) conservative candidates for president raised their hands, to say they’re crazy, when asked if they believed in creationism? Catholics should think these people crazy too. Keep them out of office. Keep ID out of schools. Then, maybe as time goes on, less religion in general. All bickering between the religious is a good thing.

  143. #143 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    Tulse @132

    Since Stephen Hawkins is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, maybe they think they do not feel the need to organize such conferences …

    I am shure they have people able to understanding it. Jesuits are very good at science.

    The real problem with catholic curch is that there are factions in it that still dream to regain the power that the church once had. Just read about sinarquism…

    Their politicians are more dangerous than their theologians.

  144. #144 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    To be ignorant of contemporary science might lead the faithful to conclude that science is contradicting faith. Science cannot do that. – Max Verret

    This would only be true of a “faith” that made no empirical claims whatever. In fact, Catholicism makes many such claims, about miracles for example, which are scientifically absurd. Children are not borne by virgins, dead people do not come back to life, water does not turn into wine.

  145. #145 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    …science is contradicting faith. Science cannot do that.

    That naughty, naughty science. It should be spanked!

  146. #146 Jams
    September 17, 2008

    The press release from the Vatican.

    As indicated in the press release, this isn’t “an ecclesial event” because it’s being organized by two Catholic Universities. So, no possibility for bias there. Who could mistake that for anything but a strictly academic forum where “Christian scientists, philosophers and theologians” could, um, you know, “bring some clarification” to the debate on evolution.

    This event satirizes itself.

  147. #147 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    This is not a conference ABOUT science. It is not even a conference about science versus faith. It is a conference about faith in light of contemporary science. To be ignorant of contemporary science might lead the faithful to conclude that science is contradicting faith. Science cannot do that. So in order to translate current science to faith, one must know what is being translated, i.e. current science. This is the way in which “informed Catholic thought” is formulated. The primacy of faith requires this and I suspect this is the purpose of the conference. It is to reconcile contemporary science to faith. There is no mystery here. The notification of the conference is quite clear on that.

    No, the notification is not at all clear.

    “Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, told Catholic News Service Sept. 16 that organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries.”

    Strictly scientific but including theology and philosophy ?

  148. #148 Lee Picton
    September 17, 2008

    Re: #136

    Taking this analysis one step further: Once upon a time there was only one source of official knowledge – the Catholic Church. Since truth was what said church decided it was going to be, it was oh, awkward, to be so spectacularly on the wrong side of that Galileo thing. There are almost certainly men in funny red hats who actually do have brains, and know perfectly well that in an age where everyone has access to information, they cannot, must not, allow such a spectacular failure to occur again. So they sidle up to the truth, sometimes in fits and starts, in an attempt to validate their theology in the light of science that cannot be denied, no matter how hard they try. I suspect they even realize that the eventual result will be the total irrelevance of their existence, and what they are continuing to do in the 21st century is to fight a rear guard action to prolong what remains of their hegemony as long as possible.

  149. #149 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    Matt@103 writes: Either they accept the science or they reject it

    That is eerily reminiscent of Mr. Bush’s assertion that “You are either with us or against us” — and just as wrong.

    In #106, he continues: Rationalism would be the Catholic Church admitting it has no place in deciding the validity of scientific theories.

    Perhaps so. But the question is, are YOU going to take the rational route? Or are you going to insist that, if the Catholic Church refuses to be rational, then you won’t be rational?

    Randy@109 writes As such, I give this conference no credence whatsoever and should be ignored by all who have been invited to take part in the charade.

    This conference isn’t directed at you; you’re quite justified in giving it no credence. However, it DOES have credence for many Catholics, and it will influence them. I believe that the end result will be, in the long run, beneficial to our own agenda.

    Matt@113 writes The Catholic Church has no more business taking a position on evolution than McDonald’s do.

    Not quite. Catholics look to the Church for guidance on this question. If the Church embraces evolution, then that will advance the cause of science and rationalism.

  150. #150 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    SteveM @ 141

    “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes.”
    – Cardinal Baronius, 1615″

    Interesting… i have several history books atributing it to Galileo.

    Thanks for the correcion.

  151. #151 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    informed Catholic thought”

    Oxymoron

  152. #152 Patrick Quigley
    September 17, 2008

    Speaking of the Catholic Church, magical crackers are in the news again. Once again, Catholic priests are denying communion to people supporting Democratic candidates. The “victim” in this case is Douglas Kmiec, a former member of the Reagan administration who has publicly stated his support for Obama.

    In his article, The Day I Was Denied Communion for Endorsing Obama, he talks about how awful it was to be denied his weekly recommended allowance of demi-god meat. The silliness of it all makes me want to cry.

    This just proves how important an anti-cracker crusade is. This cult is trying to use magical crackers to influence the selection of the most powerful person on earth, and people are taking this tactic seriously. After 2000 years of cracker-based tyranny, it is time for this nonsense to end.

  153. #153 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    That is eerily reminiscent of Mr. Bush’s assertion that “You are either with us or against us” — and just as wrong.

    So a degree in theology equips the Pope and his Cardinals to assess the scientific evidence fully ?

    Perhaps so. But the question is, are YOU going to take the rational route? Or are you going to insist that, if the Catholic Church refuses to be rational, then you won’t be rational?

    Come back to me when you can be bothered to tell me where I have been irrational.

    Not quite. Catholics look to the Church for guidance on this question. If the Church embraces evolution, then that will advance the cause of science and rationalism

    Then the Church should merely state it is not part of its remit to provide such guidance and advise its members to look to what the scientists say.

  154. #154 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    This conference isn’t directed at you; you’re quite justified in giving it no credence. However, it DOES have credence for many Catholics, and it will influence them.

    That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? The Catholic Church has no valid opinion on evolution’s veracity. It isn’t decided by them. It isn’t a theological matter. All they are doing by having this conference is telling the followers of their faith that their opinion does matter.

    I believe that the end result will be, in the long run, beneficial to our own agenda.

    I believe it is just an attempt to maintain their power in a time when faith is becoming increasingly irrelevant. As someone else pointed out, they’re attempting to fit their god into steadily shrinking gaps.

  155. #155 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    The Day I Was Denied Communion for Endorsing Obama

    I couldn’t stop from imagining a Catholic version of the Seinfeldian “Soup Nazi” -”No cracker for YOU!”

  156. #156 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I can sum this whole shit up in one sentence: Christians claiming they are being discriminated against because the wording on a government form isn’t discriminatory enough.

    I can also sum it up in one word: Typical.

  157. #157 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Ignore my last post: wrong tab.

  158. #158 Former PZ Student
    September 17, 2008

    “Overly scientific conception of evolution”

    What does that even mean? Are they trying to degrade scientific reasearch? I’ve never heard of any scientific theory or hypothesis described like that. I would be flattered if someone described me as “overly scientific”.

  159. #159 SteveM
    September 17, 2008

    Re 150:
    Interesting… i have several history books atributing it to Galileo.

    This may explain the confusion (from wikipedia):

    [Baronius] is also famous for anticipating Galileo, saying: “The Bible teaches the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.” This idea was later publicly expressed by Galileo in his “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina” in the year 1615.

    The whole “Galileo thing” with the Pope and the RCC was not about the truth of Galileo’s books. It was about the RCC wanting to control the release of that truth. They felt that although it was true, it would be confusing to the “common people” and create chaos rather than enlightenment. It was his disobedience in publishing the book anyway that he was punished for, not for heresy (even if that was the official charge).

  160. #160 unGeDuLdig
    September 17, 2008

    The RC Church’s motives may be as dishonest as assumed here, but that doesn’t matter in the end. Benedict’s attempt to reconcile faith with reason opens the pandora’s box of rationalism, as Catholic fundamentalists doubtlessly look at it. A scientist believer is a contradiction in itself, in the best case scenario faith and reason achieve a temporal truce, but “you can’t serve two masters at the same time”, as Jesus would put it. If you let both coexist for some time in the same institution, one of them will start suffering from attrition, and it won’t be science who looks bad in the end. Something similar happens with theology, which under rationalist influence slowly shifts from mythology to philosophy, sociology and psychology, thereby undermining the supernatural. Let’s not forget that some of the deadliest blows against traditional faith came from within the church, by scientists and intellectuals on the papal payroll. From a certain point of view, the creationist fundamentalists are right: The slightest crack in the dam between science and faith can lead to a catastrophic chain reaction. If you accept one iota of Darwin, one train of thought will follow the other, loaded with tons of occam’s razors. You may achieve to salvage the existence of God, but he’ll be completely disconnected with the universe and therefore obsolete, a mere act of will whose revelations and commandments got broken down and translated into the rational. The Inquisition, the enemies of Galilei and Darwin knew pretty well what they were doing and the threat they were facing. Once the door to rationalism was opened, there was no holding back and enlightenment began its triumph. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but chances are that the church will find itself reenacting this historic process again, turning theological speculation into ethics. It wasn’t really voluntary the first time, and though it came to happen.

  161. #161 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    “Overly scientific conception of evolution”

    What does that even mean?

    It means “no room for the Catholic Church’s opinion.”

  162. #162 Sam C
    September 17, 2008

    So the Vatican’s level of debate is to be criticised by someone who thinks it’s oh so clever to compare them with shit?

    Still upset because they haven’t asked for one of your finger bones to stick in a monstrance, oh great one?

    This post includes insults, quote-mining and distortion worthy of a creationist, nay, worthy of an intelligent designerist. Is there anything that the Vatican could plausibly be expected to do that would get your approval? Short of them saying “oh, by the way, there’s no god and our bible is drivel”, how could this news be bettered? Isn’t it good that they want to engage constructively with the scientific world? Which, let’s face it, is more than you’re prepared to do with the religious world.

    I’m 100% pure atheist, but I’m not stupid enough to think that you win people over to your side with a vitriol-laden river of insults, anger and swearing. Now, distort that.

  163. #163 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I’m 100% pure atheist, but I’m not stupid enough to think that you win people over to your side with a vitriol-laden river of insults, anger and swearing. Now, distort that.

    Concern noted.

  164. #164 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    S.Scott @ #21 said:

    It’s perfectly reasonable for a church to exclude non- believers.

    It’s perfectly reasonable for a church to exclude nonbelievers from its cultist rituals and voodoo practices, sure. But to exclude non-believing scientists from a conference which was openly intended to be “strictly scientific?” No, that’s not perfectly reasonable. That’s propaganda.

    I view this as a good thing for science.

    I view science distancing itself from religion as a good thing. But I view this instance of religion attempting to appropriate science for its own ideological ends as wholly despicable.

    And Zeno at #10. Perfectly said. I wish more people understood that.

  165. #165 MartinB
    September 17, 2008

    “The idea of a conference is that the is a mutual exchange of ideas. Theology has nothing to offer science.”
    “Strictly scientific but including theology and philosophy ?”

    Believe it or not, but theology and philosophy are taught at universities and are usually considered as sciences – not natural sciences, obviously. This may be debatable, but it is the standard way nowadays, so there is nothing strange in these statements unless you take the point of view that only natural sciences qualify as science.

  166. #166 Jason S
    September 17, 2008

    “all to decorate the rotting flesh of their decrepit dogma with the jewels of science.”

    The perfect quote. Religion itself has nothing real to offer so it just parasitises science.

  167. #167 Trish
    September 17, 2008

    How about the pope puts on a pair of jeans and decides to go seek out science for himself?

    This whole thing is bullshit.

  168. #168 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    Jose:

    Richard Harris said: Fuck the Pope
    Another genius speaks!
    … Has anyone fired off the “Liar liar pants on fire” gambit yet?

    No… but we’ve tried snarking about someone’s intelligence punctuated with an exclaimation mark…

  169. #169 Qwerty
    September 17, 2008

    “Posted by: Heresiarch | September 17, 2008 10:10 AM
    ‘I’d love to know what the difference is between ‘Catholic’ evolution and evolution.”
    In ‘Catholic’ evolution, carnivores eat fish instead of red meat on Fridays.”

    No, you’re wrong. We had evolution because fish were trying to run away from Catholics which is why amphibians came into being.

  170. #170 PZ Myers
    September 17, 2008

    This post includes a full third of the original article, and links to it in the first line. The quotes are in their original context.

    As any idiot knows, you put a consecrated host in a monstrance, not a finger bone. Why would I aspire to having one of my bones put on display in a church?

    Yes, there is something the church could do. They could admit that their beliefs have nothing to do with science, and quit trying to cloak their views in this kind of fake conference. If they want to seriously address evolution in their religion (not that I believe they do), all they have to do is send people to legitimate conferences organized by real scientific societies. All they’re doing here is trying to dress up a pig in a lab coat.

    They are not trying to engage constructively with the scientific world. They are trying to coopt parts of scientific ideas to bolster up their mythology with some legitimacy.

  171. #171 E.V.
    September 17, 2008

    I’m 100% pure atheist, but I’m not stupid enough to think that you win people over to your side with a vitriol-laden river of insults, anger and swearing.

    Sam, what’s wrong? You sound so concerned.

  172. #172 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    Oh, and anyone who actually believes the Catholics are organizing this conference in order to “help theologians and philosophers be a bit more humble and learn to listen a bit more to what science is unveiling about humanity and the world” is f-ing high. Zeno already nailed it in comment #10: “this Catholic conference on evolution is just trying to wedge religion into science’s world in order to give life “meaning.”

    What theologians really want is for science to give deference to theology. Oh, they make a show of offering deference to science so that it seems like a two-way relationship. But as SC says, what knowledge has religion ever produced to justify anything but humility in the face of science? This is a situation where science has nothing to gain by this relationship, but religion gains everything.

    If you think this is “a step in the right direction” from the religionists, you’re being duped. They are using transparently using science for their own gains. Screw that.

  173. #173 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    …”vitriol-laden river of insults, anger and swearing.”
    Oh goodie! I’m not too late, the fun must be just getting started.

  174. #174 Matt Penfold
    September 17, 2008

    Believe it or not, but theology and philosophy are taught at universities and are usually considered as sciences – not natural sciences, obviously. This may be debatable, but it is the standard way nowadays, so there is nothing strange in these statements unless you take the point of view that only natural sciences qualify as science.

    I was assuming that we were taking the term “scientific” as being used in the normal sense of word, which is to mean the hard sciences.

    However I do not rule out the possibility that the person so quoted was relying on most people assuming he was using the term in its normal usage whilst actually meaning it in the usage you describe. If so it is just more evidence of their dishonesty.

  175. #175 BobC
    September 17, 2008

    Religious idiots talk about evolution more than any other branch of science because they know evolution is the greatest threat to their magic fairy. They know they look like hicks if they reject evolution, and they know their religion is doomed if they completely accept evolution. Their solution is to stick their fairy into it. They call themselves theistic evolutionists, implying that evolution couldn’t possibly work without sky fairy magic.

    In America half the population is so hopelessly insane they completely reject evolution. The 35% of Americans who stick their fairy into evolution aren’t much better. Only 15% of Americans accept evolution without invoking magic. The most powerful country on earth has a population that’s 85% retarded.

  176. #176 DrCogSci
    September 17, 2008

    You know, for a second there I thought this post might be overly strong, you know, that special tone of militant atheism that seems a little too vitriolic?

    Then I read that “their exclusivity runs the other way”

    Oh dear… Well done for the appropriate response PZ!

  177. #177 Marco
    September 17, 2008

    Breaking news: Earth is flat, says pope

  178. #178 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    I’d like to address the claim that the Catholic Church should recuse itself from scientific discussions. I agree with this claim, but I think it misunderstands the point of this conference. It seems to me that the purpose of the conference is to evaluate the impact of current science on philosophy and theology. Does anybody here have any objection to a conference of philosophers seeking to discuss the impact of current science on philosophy? Theology is merely a branch of philosophy — so what’s your beef? Nowhere do they claim any intent to present scientific conclusions. Why would you object to somebody exploring the philosophical or theological implications of current science? They are starting to walk down a road whose end we already know. Do you object that they begin the journey and have not already reached its end? Would you deflect them from that journey with your barking?

    And PZ is just flat wrong in claiming that they are attempting to coopt science. That is clearly NOT the intent of the conference as presented in its materials. A warning: whenever you attempt to declare another party’s intentions, you are on extremely thin ice.

  179. #179 Marty
    September 17, 2008

    I agree with Jordan @#142. This might be the wedge that drives Catholics apart from the fundies in the religious right. They buried the hatchet to make common cause on the abortion issue, but Catholics do not support the ID view, and generally think the hooping and hollering at fundie churches like Palin’s is crazy.

  180. #180 Marty
    September 17, 2008

    That should, of course, be “whooping and hollering”.

  181. #181 Hans
    September 17, 2008

    Thus spake Matt Penfold:

    Believe it or not, but theology and philosophy are taught at universities and are usually considered as sciences

    If my uni did that, I’d ask for my money back. But they didn’t. They taught theology and philosophy all right, but they were not considered sciences. ‘t Was a catholic uni, too!

  182. #182 frog
    September 17, 2008

    My translation of theology in this context: sophisticated mythology. Just like how the Neo-platonists would have looked down on those silly Jesus worshipers who imagined a bodily incarnate God.

    Silly people who can’t understand the sublime distinction between demiurge and sophia!

  183. #183 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    And PZ is just flat wrong in claiming that they are attempting to coopt science. That is clearly NOT the intent of the conference as presented in its materials.

    Sorry. The materials are a lie. The fact that they are not inviting “proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection” and went out of their way to mention it makes that abundantly clear.

    A warning: whenever you attempt to declare another party’s intentions, you are on extremely thin ice.

    Not when history is on your side, you aren’t.

    I’d love to be wrong about this. But I’m betting I’m not.

  184. #184 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford said

    And PZ is just flat wrong in claiming that they are attempting to coopt science. That is clearly NOT the intent of the conference as presented in its materials.

    You actually think that if it is their intention, they would be so stupid as to state it in their materials? Really? Or do you think they might actually be clever enough to mask their intentions with empty platitudes? One must consider the church’s relationship with science over the centuries and put this conference into the context of shifting power to understand what’s happening here. Trying to get themselves right with science this is not.

  185. #185 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    Good lord, I didn’t expect anybody to take serious issue with my claim that declaring the intentions of others is suspect, but H.H.@172 declares What theologians really want is for science to give deference to theology. and tsg@183 asserts that it is reasonable to do so when history is on your side.

    I think it a cheap shot to claim that a third party is taking a position for invidious reasons. I can accept it when such a claim is made rhetorically or subjunctively, as in “IF you are motivated by a desire for revenge, THEN you are going about this the wrong way.” or “Revenge is the wrong way to approach this.” But to flat-out assert something like “They’re just doing this for reasons of revenge” is logically indefensible (and no, I’m not imputing that specific argument to anybody here; I’m using it as a hypothetical).

    The Catholic Church of the 21st century is not the same as the Catholic Church of the 15th century. They don’t burn people at the stake anymore. They still have a long ways to go, but let’s not forget that the Catholic Church is way, way, ahead of most other religions in regard to its respect for rationalism. Compare it to American fundamentalist Christianity, or to Islam.

    I see an interesting parallel between those who condemn the Catholic Church for this conference with those who support Mr. Ralph Nader and reject Mr. Obama because he’s insufficiently liberal for their tastes. Again, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

  186. #186 forksmuggler
    September 17, 2008

    Terrific post, PZ. One if your best!

  187. #187 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    September 17, 2008

    What does that even mean?

    It means there’s just not enough goddidit in the theory.

  188. #188 MartinB
    September 17, 2008

    @Hans (#181)
    “Thus spake Matt Penfold:

    Believe it or not, but theology and philosophy are taught at universities and are usually considered as sciences”
    Actually, that was me whom Matt was quoting – he seemed to disagree.

    This may be a problem of English not being my native language – in German, “Wissenschaft” (science) is by most people considered to include at least mathematics and philosophy (and by many also to include part of theology, which, after all, uses scientific methods for example in analysing texts). If this is different in English, then it was my mistake (but might it not still be that Marc Leclerc made the same mistake – or, if his original phrase was not in English, that this happened during translation)?

  189. #189 Brian English
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, no comment on Wilkin’s latest disdain of Dawkins?

  190. #190 Dean
    September 17, 2008

    @ post 96:

    “I didn’t get that, so I had to look up the relevance of fish and Fridays to catholics.”

    For real fun you need to have it explained to you, as it was to me by the priest of my wife’s church, that “fish isn’t meat because a fish isn’t an animal.”

  191. #191 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Good lord, I didn’t expect anybody to take serious issue with my claim that declaring the intentions of others is suspect, but H.H.@172 declares What theologians really want is for science to give deference to theology. and tsg@183 asserts that it is reasonable to do so when history is on your side.

    I think it a cheap shot to claim that a third party is taking a position for invidious reasons.

    Oh, please. If someone lies to you over and over again, you stop trusting them.

    They still have a long ways to go, but let’s not forget that the Catholic Church is way, way, ahead of most other religions in regard to its respect for rationalism. Compare it to American fundamentalist Christianity, or to Islam.

    That isn’t saying much. It’s also a fallacy. The guy that steals once a month doesn’t stop being a thief just because a guy that steals everyday moves in next door.

    I see an interesting parallel between those who condemn the Catholic Church for this conference with those who support Mr. Ralph Nader and reject Mr. Obama because he’s insufficiently liberal for their tastes. Again, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    False analogy. Voting for Nader (arguably) makes it more likely that McCain will win when Obama would be preferable. Criticizing the Catholic Church for this transparent charade won’t enable others who are worse.

  192. #192 negentropyeater
    September 17, 2008

    They are trying to coopt parts of scientific ideas to bolster up their mythology with some legitimacy.

    Don’t forget that religion is a business. So this is above all a competitive move. By positioning itself more firmly pro-evolution, on the side of Science, parts of the Catholic hiearchy think this will give them a competitive advantage compared with its two biggest competitors, Islam and Evangelicalism. Still they will have to deal with the obvious contradictions with Genesis 1.
    Problem for them is that in the end, it’ll just precipitate the decline of religions overall.

  193. #193 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford @ #185 said

    The Catholic Church of the 21st century is not the same as the Catholic Church of the 15th century. They don’t burn people at the stake anymore.

    They are no longer able to burn people at the stake anymore. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to. (Crackergate demonstrated that.) And as this conference indicates, they still will not tolerate discussion or dissent about their theology. They perfectly censor out anyone who might challenge their authority on these matters or hold a differing opinion. They’re still trying to rig the game. Anyone who plays on their terms is a fool.

    So, no, they aren’t demonstrating merely “imperfect” rationality, they are a force for anti-rationality in the world. It deserves no quarter.

  194. #194 Randy
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford@149

    “This conference isn’t directed at you; you’re quite justified in giving it no credence. However, it DOES have credence for many Catholics, and it will influence them. I believe that the end result will be, in the long run, beneficial to our own agenda.”

    No, it will only serve to further their confirmation bias that some deity had anything to do with evolution. There is neither room nor use for theology in science. Philosophy, yes; theology, no.

  195. #195 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    tsg, it’s obvious that you and I are so far apart that we’ll never be able to reach agreement. You argue that the Catholic Church has lied over and over again. I disagree. Yes, they’ve been wrong about a great deal. But the Catholic Church, despite its many crimes, has also done some great things. It was the repository and transmitter of the classical heritage. That was so long ago that I don’t think that it has any bearing on this issue, but your claim that they have lied many times also reaches far back into the past. If we limit our discussion to the modern Church since, say, John XXIII, then I think we can agree that they have made a serious attempt to catch up with modernity. Yes, they are still deeply entrenched in archaic notions, but they are definitely showing some progress here. Would you kick a child in the teeth because he hasn’t mastered calculus yet?

    You reject the notion that the Church is better than other religions because, in your opinion, it’s still bad. What you’re doing here is denying the existence of gradations of error. You’re wrong. There are greater crimes and lesser crimes. The Church’s mistakes are of lesser magnitude than those of American fundamentalist Christians, and much lesser magnitude than those of Islam. Would you put litterbugs in the same class as murderers?

    Lastly, you reject my analogy to Mr. Nader, but I don’t buy your reasoning. My point is that, by tarring all religions with the same brush, you fail to distinguish the more progressive religions from the less progressive religions. That’s a form of blindness.

  196. #196 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    negentropyeater @ 192

    “Still they will have to deal with the obvious contradictions with Genesis 1.”

    No, currently the catholic church considers the bible an Allegory… not to be interpreted literally.

    I you read their position on Evolution and their rejection on creationism, (i posted earlier) you will find their have no problesm with that.

    Just go to the page of the Pontificial Academy of Sciences and look and their members.

    They know they can not affort another row against science, insted they will adapt… or perish.

    If they only could get ride of their dogmas…

  197. #197 frog
    September 17, 2008

    MartinB: This may be a problem of English not being my native language – in German, “Wissenschaft” (science) is by most people considered to include at least mathematics and philosophy (and by many also to include part of theology, which, after all, uses scientific methods for example in analysing texts).

    Don’t mistake historical administrative categorization with an actual rational division by function and structure. Archeology of the ME would be a scientific discipline; theology most definitely is not! At it’s best, philosophy is meta-science – which clearly makes it a non-science by any Russelian system of classification.

    Wissenschaft would be translated to English in this case simply as “academic” – wissen as opposed to wirt, right? Not applied versus applied is the distinction, correct?

  198. #198 WRMartin
    September 17, 2008

    Scene 1, Act 1.
    Outdoors. Tropical. Pope and other assorted Catholics slowly sinking into quicksand. One of them starts grasping. For something. Anything to help save them and their faith. Then they notice SCIENCE hanging overhead and start climbing on top of each other trying to grab onto some SCIENCE and rescue themselves.

    And…star wipe.
    </bad screenwriter>

    Also could work as a cartoon. (Catholicism could too but that’s for another episode.)

  199. #199 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Nanahuatzin: No, currently the catholic church considers the bible an Allegory… not to be interpreted literally.

    Yeah, the Catholic church conserves the old Jewish division between Oral and Written Law, which gives you a great deal more flexibility over time. Nothing written means what it is naively read to say, but has to be read in the context of the oral law, the tradition kept by the rabbis/priests/scholars etc.

    The Catholic church has a much, much more sophisticated mythology than the fundies — and even most non-fundy protestants. Things need not be literal in a carnal sense – they are literal in a metaphorical sense! (The magic crackers for example). The literal literal interpretations are for the masses, but the non-literal literal interpretations are for the lords.

  200. #200 Brian English
    September 17, 2008

    Just noticed you had commented PZ. My bad. :)

  201. #201 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    You reject the notion that the Church is better than other religions because, in your opinion, it’s still bad. What you’re doing here is denying the existence of gradations of error.

    No, I’m not. I fully recognize that there are less rational religions out there. I’m not, however, going to congratulate the Catholic Church for only being less irrational.

    There are greater crimes and lesser crimes. The Church’s mistakes are of lesser magnitude than those of American fundamentalist Christians, and much lesser magnitude than those of Islam. Would you put litterbugs in the same class as murderers?

    Of course not, but you’re suggesting I congratulate the litterbugs for not being murderers instead of complaining about them littering.

  202. #202 PZ Myers
    September 17, 2008

    My point is that, by tarring all religions with the same brush, you fail to distinguish the more progressive religions from the less progressive religions.

    My counterpoint would be that, by trying to emphasize that certain religions are more special than others, you are sweeping aside a fundamental, common failure of religious thought: that faith is sufficient to make something true. That some progressive religions do a better job of avoiding conflict with science doesn’t mean that they aren’t still rotten at the heart.

  203. #203 CJO
    September 17, 2008

    The Church’s mistakes are of lesser magnitude than those of American fundamentalist Christians

    Their “mistakes” may be, but their crimes are much, much worse. Starting with an international criminal conpiracy to harbor serial child rapists and obstruct justice.

  204. #204 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    Isn’t it good that they want to engage constructively with the scientific world?

    But they don’t. The point of this is not to have them provide any insights to science, but instead to shore up their belief system which is increasingly implausible in light of modern science. Just look at the quote: “In the United States, and now elsewhere, we have an ongoing public debate over evolution that has social, political and religious dimensions,” [Philip Sloan] says. “Most of this debate has been taking place without a strong Catholic theological presence, and the discussion has suffered accordingly.” That, frankly, is bullshit — there is nothing about the debate over evolution that can benefit from a “Catholic theological presence”. There is nothing about a “Catholic theological presence” that will change the objective aspects of evolutionary theory.

    If they wanted to have a conference on the implications of evolution for theological thought, that would be different. But they want the influence to run both ways, and that’s just not how science works.

    Look at this another way: If this were a conference put on by hard-core Marxists, with a history of adherence to Lysenkoism, and the topic of the conference was ostensibly about the communism and evolution, and non-communist biologists were explicitly excluded, would you be so sanguine about how “constructive” it would be?

  205. #205 MartinB
    September 17, 2008

    @frog

    I’m not sure about exact definitions of science (or “Wissenschaft”). German Wikipedia states:
    “Wissenschaft ist der Erwerb von neuem Wissen durch Forschung”
    roughly translated as
    “Science is the acquirement of new knowledge by research.”

    In this definition, I’d think that at least parts of philosophy qualify (for example, Kant surely acquired new knowledge by research, in this case, reasoning – and yes, reasoning alone counts since mathematics is also considered a science). Even parts of theology qualify (textual exegesis may use lingusitic methods, for example).

    All I’m trying to say is that stating that philosophy and theology may partake in a scientific debate may not be as absurd as it sounds if you only consider “hard science” as science.

  206. #206 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    H.H. argues that They are no longer able to burn people at the stake anymore. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to. (Crackergate demonstrated that.)

    Could you please cite some quotations from Church hierarchy suggesting a desire to burn that transgressor at the stake? I think you’re engaging in hyperbole. Yes, there were lots of individual Catholics who wanted revenge against the fellow, but we can no more hold the Church responsible for the actions of its wilder-eyed members than we can hold PZ responsible for some of the nasty statement a few of his wilder-eyed supporters give voice to here.

    they aren’t demonstrating merely “imperfect” rationality, they are a force for anti-rationality in the world. It deserves no quarter.

    tsg argues that we shouldn’t congratulate the Catholic Church for its more progressive stance. True, but we should be pleased with any progress they make, shouldn’t we? At the very least, shouldn’t we refrain from castigating them when they make a positive step? Shouldn’t we concentrate our efforts on the worst offenders?

  207. #207 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford: The Church’s mistakes are of lesser magnitude than those of American fundamentalist Christians, and much lesser magnitude than those of Islam.

    What are you talking about? They have different mistakes, but the kids starving on trash dumps in the Philippines because the CC has convinced their parents not to wear rubbers aren’t the responsibility of the Muslims.

    The Muslims belong to a wide variety of sects, each with different crimes to atone for. But with the size and power of the single CC, I doubt that in numbers of people dead or suffering, they can beat the CC. That goes as well for the varieties of American fundamentalist churches. The sins of the Southern Baptists are different (and worse) than the sins of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Amish. But none of them have the singular influence of the CC.

    These kinds of apologetics for the CC are delusional and/or morally monstrous.

  208. #208 John Phillips, FCD
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford. This more progressive religion. You mean the one that has indirectly killed thousands in Africa and other third world countries through its stance and actual LIES about condoms. Its enabling child rapists to avoid US law by allowing them sanctuary in the Vatican. Need I go on about this oh so more progressive religion.

    All these problems over issues such as evolution is only of relevance to the RC because the RC still wants/needs its developed world members and the associated influence and so has to try and accommodate science to at least appear to remain relevant to a more sophisticated population. In the parts of the world where the average person often has more important things to worry about than education, i.e. basic survival, it doesn’t need to bother or worry so much about science and its stance on most issues differs little from that of the US fundies.

    So yes, until proven otherwise I always assume that religious organisations are, at very the least, being disingenuous with just about everything they say officially. This being one such example, i.e. this is just to give them an appearance of relevance in an area they have none. Not that it stops them claiming relevance, then again, they have to keep the tills ringing like any business, so I understand it even as it disgusts me.

  209. #209 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    frog @#199

    “which gives you a great deal more flexibility over time”

    And that… is the point. Flexibility.

    The Catholic church has been adopting and adapting concepts from other religions in order to survive,and be accepted. Here in Mexico i can see aztec dances, once dedicated to the Tonantzin, the Mother earth, now dedicated to the Virgin Mary… I can just smile at that…

    But back to the point, CC knows they can not affort to denny science. They may need to find how to acomodate their beliefs, but no deny it.

    just see they position on evolution:

    Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism…

    Of course.. not all in the CC think like that.. but those who do, need to be encouraged.

  210. #210 Kristin
    September 17, 2008

    Will this be widely publicized, I wonder? Will everyday catholics hear about it, or will it just be the regular churchgoers whose religious leaders pass on the information? If it is not well publicized, I don’t see the harm… it will simply be more catholics stroking themselves…

  211. #211 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    Our host PZ writes by trying to emphasize that certain religions are more special than others, you are sweeping aside a fundamental, common failure of religious thought: that faith is sufficient to make something true. That some progressive religions do a better job of avoiding conflict with science doesn’t mean that they aren’t still rotten at the heart.

    But is not each of us rotten at the heart? Do you live a life of perfect rationalism? Have you never in your life done something silly or stupid? Have you never regretted an act made in haste or anger that hurt somebody? Are you without sin?

    You are attempting to assert an absolute standard of truth and rightness, but there is no human being or human group that can meet that standard. We’re all fallible; your failings are merely less egregious than those of the Church. Don’t try to draw an absolute line between yourself and the Church; you are further down the road of intellectual maturation, but you and I have yet to attain Nirvana.

  212. #212 Louis
    September 17, 2008

    I’m organising a conference myself, by coincidence. It’s a huge interracial discussion about the sociology of racism, the psychology of racism, the philosophy of racism etc. I am inviting experts from all relevant fields so we can once and for all try to sort out the problem of racism.

    Just one caveat, no overly black or white expert participants are allowed. They must be a slightly light or dark shade of tawny beige pinkness, and thus likely to be quite like me in colour. This will be an immensely scientific and intellectual discussion of the problem of racism.

    Waaaaaaiiiiiiiit a minute!

    Louis

  213. #213 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    But is not each of us rotten at the heart? Do you live a life of perfect rationalism? Have you never in your life done something silly or stupid? Have you never regretted an act made in haste or anger that hurt somebody? Are you without sin?

    Well first sin is a religious idea so that means little to me. However I do do stupid things everyday, ask Mrs. BigDumbChimp. But obligation to think irrationally is not built in to the foundation of the thing I point to to guide my life.

  214. #214 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    bah crap. blockquote fail via typo again. Man I just suck at preview.

  215. #215 robinsrule
    September 17, 2008

    Ratzinger on evolution:

    …the theory of evolution sees the truth but sees only half the truth: it does not see that behind it is the Spirit of the Creation.

  216. #216 BobC
    September 17, 2008

    The Catholic church accepts evolution. Good for them. Do they admit their fairy had absolutely nothing to do with the diversity of life? Do they also admit the human species is an ape species? Do they admit Jebus was a human ape? Do they admit they worship a dead ape?

    Any Catholic here want to explain why he worships a dead ape?

    Also, any Catholic want to explain why he believes in a magic fairy?

    Never mind. I know the answer. Catholics believe in the sky fairy because they are insane and too lazy to think. Or perhaps they’re too bloody stupid to think. Whatever their problem is, they’re a disgrace to the human race.

  217. #217 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    tsg argues that we shouldn’t congratulate the Catholic Church for its more progressive stance. True, but we should be pleased with any progress they make, shouldn’t we? At the very least, shouldn’t we refrain from castigating them when they make a positive step?

    I don’t believe this is a positive step. I believe this is trying to re-assert themselves into a world that doesn’t need them anymore.

    If they really, truly, honestly were having this conference so they could understand evolution, I’d be thrilled. But I don’t believe for one second that they are. I think they’re looking for a way to re-package and re-brand their faith, using science to prop it up.

    Shouldn’t we concentrate our efforts on the worst offenders?

    No. All offenders. Trying telling the next traffic cop who pulls you over for speeding that he should be concentrating on catching murderers. See how far that gets you.

    The problem with only concentrating on the worst offenders is that the ones you aren’t complaining about will only get worse because no one has objected to them yet.

  218. #218 Pierce R. Butler
    September 17, 2008

    … the evolution debate, “especially in the United States, has been taking place without a strong Catholic presence … and the discourse has suffered accordingly.”

    Well, naturally! Consider how the discussion at any scientific conference would be elevated if those making unacceptable remarks were to be promptly reprimanded by nuns slapping their knuckles with rulers. Very few would-be heretics would even have to receive guided tours of the Holy Inquisition’s, ah, laboratories…

  219. #219 Randy
    September 17, 2008

    @Chris Crawford

    “You are attempting to assert an absolute standard of truth and rightness, but there is no human being or human group that can meet that standard. We’re all fallible; your failings are merely less egregious than those of the Church. Don’t try to draw an absolute line between yourself and the Church; you are further down the road of intellectual maturation, but you and I have yet to attain Nirvana.”

    How on Earth did you conjure up this conclusion? Pointing out that the basic premises of every religion lacks rationality is not equivalent to promoting an absolute standard of truth and rightness. Religions are fallible from the get-go because their underlying assumptions are unverifiable and not falsifiable. Looking at evolution, or any other aspect of reality for that matter, through the lens of such assumptions is invalid and irrational.

  220. #220 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    You are attempting to assert an absolute standard of truth and rightness, but there is no human being or human group that can meet that standard. We’re all fallible; your failings are merely less egregious than those of the Church. Don’t try to draw an absolute line between yourself and the Church; you are further down the road of intellectual maturation, but you and I have yet to attain Nirvana.

    Slippery Slope. You are arguing that because A and B only differ by degree that they are the same thing. Didn’t you just accuse me of putting litterbugs and murders in the same class?

  221. #221 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, poor baby. Would it help if I made you up a sugar-tit?

  222. #222 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    BobC @216

    “The Catholic church accepts evolution. Good for them. Do they admit their fairy had absolutely nothing to do with the diversity of life? Do they also admit the human species is an ape species? Do they admit Jebus was a human ape? Do they admit they worship a dead ape?”

    ok.. One step at a time, they move slowly… they still have trouble feeling like an ape species… the dead monkey isue may take some time :)

  223. #223 Quiet Desperation
    September 17, 2008

    Puck the Fope!

    Wait… D’oh!

  224. #224 SC
    September 17, 2008

    If we limit our discussion to the modern Church since, say, John XXIII, then I think we can agree that they have made a serious attempt to catch up with modernity.

    Tell it to the science faculty at La Sapienza University. They know what’s what.

    You reject the notion that the Church is better than other religions because, in your opinion, it’s still bad. What you’re doing here is denying the existence of gradations of error. You’re wrong. There are greater crimes and lesser crimes.

    Chris Crawford – Perhaps you can answer this question I’ve been asking since late July. I don’t think anyone else has yet:

    I’m curious: Has there ever been a government friendly toward the Catholic Church but at the same time heinous enough to be denounced by it? The Vatican climbed into bed with the most bloodthirsty regimes of the 20th century, turning away from them only when they began to lose their grip on power.

    http://www.concordatwatch.org/showtopic.php?org_id=871&kb_header_id=31871

    The primary, possibly the sole, criterion for the Vatican’s support of a regime appears to be its non-hostility to the Church’s power or ambitions. Are there any examples of regimes that have been accommodating to Catholicism and yet despicable enough that the Vatican has refused to support them? Of course, a few exceptions would do nothing to erase the long and sordid history of collaboration with dictatorships, but I’m wondering if there are any at all.

    Thanks in advance.

    This is not a conference ABOUT science. It is not even a conference about science versus faith. It is a conference about faith in light of contemporary science. To be ignorant of contemporary science might lead the faithful to conclude that science is contradicting faith. Science cannot do that. So in order to translate current science to faith, one must know what is being translated, i.e. current science. This is the way in which “informed Catholic thought” is formulated. The primacy of faith requires this and I suspect this is the purpose of the conference. It is to reconcile contemporary science to faith. There is no mystery here. The notification of the conference is quite clear on that.

    Please restate the above without using the word “faith.”

    Theology is merely a branch of philosophy

    Theology is a branch of bullshit. Philosophers seek knowledge.

  225. #225 BobC
    September 17, 2008

    Whenever Christians or Catholics or members of some other cult say they accept evolution, instead of congratulating them, I like to ask them why they still believe in magic. I ask them why don’t they grow up. It’s not enough to accept modern science. If they still believe in a fairy, they’re retarded, and they should never be allowed to forget how insane they are. Applauding their acceptance of science while ignoring their mental illness is never going to help them recover from their disease.

  226. #226 KGP
    September 17, 2008

    I assume PZ won’t be attending?

  227. #227 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, poor baby. Would it help if I made you up a sugar-tit?

    Hard to turn that down

  228. #228 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I assume PZ won’t be attending?

    They’re still mad about the cracker.

  229. #229 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, poor baby. Would it help if I made you up a sugar-tit?

    Can I have one, hold the sugar?

  230. #230 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    tsg argues against my asserting the fallibility of all humans by labeling it a slippery slope argument. That’s incorrect; a slippery slope argument does not assert similarity, but attempts to reject a proposal on claim that the proposal, while intrinsically unobjectionable, will eventually be expanded, stretched, or altered to yield consequences that ARE objectionable. My argument bears no resemblance whatever to a slippery slope argument.

    tsg then suggests that my taking him to task for lumping all transgressions into a single category contradicts my reference to a spectrum of degrees of rationality. In fact, my two points are of the same cloth: we should dispense with simplistic black-and-white thinking and pay heed to degrees of difference. Litterbugs differ from murderers in degree of injury inflicted; atheists differ from believers in degree of rationalism. But atheists are still imperfect rationalists and can only condemn believers by shedding their humility. The people here who castigate Christians for their irrationality should have the humility to recognize their own occasional irrationality. Feeling anger towards believers is irrational. Calling them names is irrational. The more mud you sling at them, the more similar to them you become.

  231. #231 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford:

    Could you please cite some quotations from Church hierarchy suggesting a desire to burn that transgressor at the stake? I think you’re engaging in hyperbole.

    Again, do you really think they’re going to come right out and state this? Name any fascist organization that has been honest about its ends. And it’s not hyperbole. They DID burn people at the stake. This is a historical fact. So we know this is something they are more than capable of. What you are saying is that you cannot imagine the church doing such a thing in modern times. But this is a quality of the times, not of the church. If the church still had the same influence and power it enjoyed centuries ago, what reason is there to think they wouldn’t silence its critics the fullest extent they could arrange? We clearly see them censoring non-theistic scientists from this conference, so the rule does appear that they will go to whatever extent they think they can get away with.

    Let he who embodies perfect rationality throw the first stone. ;-)

    But this isn’t about holding them to some unattainable ideal of rationality, as you keep erroneously asserting. It’s about have minimum standards.

    Because the Catholic Church does not simply engage in irrationality once in awhile nor by accident. They are actively promoting it. They celebrate its “mystery” and send out missionaries to disperse it. Faith is inherently anti-rational. Faith is the cause of the conflict between science and religion. Faith is what must be opposed. And I don’t see the church giving up faith anytime soon, so they aren’t further “down the road of intellectual maturation” as you naively imagine them to be.

  232. #232 Randy
    September 17, 2008

    “But atheists are still imperfect rationalists and can only condemn believers by shedding their humility.”

    Maybe. But then, we at least have a shot at being rationalists. Believers have no shot whatsoever.

  233. #233 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    @211

    But is not each of us rotten at the heart?

    I’m not.

    Are you without sin?

    Do I lack some undefinable, undetectable “spiritual” property that is the residue not only of every bad act I’ve ever done and will do, but also consists of a substrate that I spiritually inherited from the two mythological founders of the human species?

    Definitely yes.

  234. #234 SC
    September 17, 2008

    It is to reconcile contemporary science to faith. There is no mystery here.

    None at all. Thanks for acknowledging this.

  235. #235 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    Nott @144

    Of course the Church makes empirical claims. There is an empirical world. When the empirical world does not APPEAR to conform to faith and since there is a primacy of faith, then the task is to interpret the empirical world to faith which as I said before is probably the purpose of this conference

  236. #236 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    Is there anything that the Vatican could plausibly be expected to do that would get your approval? Short of them saying “oh, by the way, there’s no god and our bible is drivel”, how could this news be bettered?

    Well, they could start by repudiating their lies about condoms letting HIV through, abandoning their ban on artificial contraception, ceasing to protect child rapists, ceasing to kill women by denying them abortions, liquidating some of their vast wealth and doing something useful with the money, opening the closed files on the Vatican’s relations with fascist regimes…

    When they’ve done a few of those things, they might be considered worth talking to, despite their absurd beliefs.

  237. #237 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    What you are saying is that you cannot imagine the church doing such a thing in modern times.

    Here’s an “Ask him about the strawberries” moment: get Crawford to explain the role of the Catholic church in the Rwandan genocide.

  238. #238 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Silly tsg, if you hold the sugar you’ll have nothing but a hanky and a piece of string.

  239. #239 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    tsg argues against my asserting the fallibility of all humans by labeling it a slippery slope argument. That’s incorrect; a slippery slope argument does not assert similarity, but attempts to reject a proposal on claim that the proposal, while intrinsically unobjectionable, will eventually be expanded, stretched, or altered to yield consequences that ARE objectionable. My argument bears no resemblance whatever to a slippery slope argument.

    http://fallacyfiles.org/slipslop.html see Semantic Version. And stop talking about me like I’m not here. It’s incredibly pretentious.

    tsg then suggests that my taking him to task for lumping all transgressions into a single category contradicts my reference to a spectrum of degrees of rationality.

    I didn’t put them in a single category. This entire thread is about the Catholic Church’s farcical “evolution congress” and your complaint is we’re not talking about more irrational faiths. It’s a red herring.

    The people here who castigate Christians for their irrationality should have the humility to recognize their own occasional irrationality.

    I am well aware of my own irrationality. I work to correct it. The Church, on the other hand, tries to prop it up with science and pretend it’s not irrational.

    Feeling anger towards believers is irrational. Calling them names is irrational. The more mud you sling at them, the more similar to them you become.

    Vapid platitudes do not an argument make.

  240. #240 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    SC asks an interesting question: Has there ever been a government friendly toward the Catholic Church but at the same time heinous enough to be denounced by it?

    It’s not possible to answer the question as written because the crucial terms are indeterminate. What do we mean by “friendly” and “heinous” and “denounced”? For example, the Church has responded to many modern violent conflicts by reminding everybody of the desirability of peaceful resolutions. Does this mean that they “denounced” one side or the other? Just how serious does a conflict have to be to count as “heinous”? And what allows us to categorize one regime as “friendly” and another as “unfriendly”?

    For example, I believe that the Pope, when meeting with Mr. Bush, made some tactful comments regarding the war in Iraq. Does Mr. Bush’s regime count as friendly or unfriendly? Is the war in Iraq heinous, bad, or merely unpleasant? Did the Pope’s words constitute denunciation? All highly subjective.

    BobC writes I ask them why don’t they grow up. It’s not enough to accept modern science. If they still believe in a fairy, they’re retarded, and they should never be allowed to forget how insane they are.

    I ask BobC, have you attained the acme of maturity? Do you consider yourself mentally and psychologically perfect? Do you deserve to be constantly reminded of your flaws?

    Quiet Desperation writes Puck the Fope!

    I ask readers, what is the rationality content of this statement? Is it the pinnacle of Objective Rationalism? Does it represent the kind of thinking you extol as profoundly superior to the superstitions of religion?

  241. #241 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    Short of them saying “oh, by the way, there’s no god and our bible is drivel”

    Why shortchange such an empirically accurate and straightforward statement?

    Eventually, they WILL say it.

    just a matter of time…

  242. #242 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Quiet Desperation writes Puck the Fope!

    I ask readers, what is the rationality content of this statement? Is it the pinnacle of Objective Rationalism? Does it represent the kind of thinking you extol as profoundly superior to the superstitions of religion?

    It was funny.

  243. #243 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    Is it the pinnacle of Objective Rationalism?

    If you really ask readers this question, then you’re a moron.

    yeah, sucks, I know, to deflate your hyperbole in such an accurate manner.

  244. #244 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    your claim that they have lied many times also reaches far back into the past. If we limit our discussion to the modern Church since, say, John XXIII, then I think we can agree that they have made a serious attempt to catch up with modernity. – Chris Crawford@195

    On the contrary. They are very actively lying today – about condoms letting HIV through, about child rape by priests, about the possibility of “curing” gays, about the health implications of abortion, about the Vatican’s cosying up to Mussolini, Franco and Hitler. All of John XXIII’s successors, with the possibly exception of John-Paul I, have been thoroughly reactionary, misogynistic, homophobic, heresy-hunters.

  245. #245 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    It was funny.

    and it feels good to say it.

    IIRC, I put up a 172 point version of “Fuck you Ratzi!” in the original cracker thread.

    go ahead, Chris, ask me if I think that was the “pinnacle of Objective Rationalism”.

  246. #246 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    I ask readers, what is the rationality content of this statement? Is it the pinnacle of Objective Rationalism? Does it represent the kind of thinking you extol as profoundly superior to the superstitions of religion?

    Lighten up francis.

    Care to address my point (though poorly formatted) above?

  247. #247 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    Nanahuatzin #209:

    The Catholic church has been adopting and adapting concepts from other religions in order to survive,and be accepted.

    Isn’t that how they got started in the first place?

    Come to think of it, they’ve been using the same trick continuously for 2000 years now. Why change a successful policy?

  248. #248 Brian English
    September 17, 2008

    I ask BobC, have you attained the acme of maturity? Do you consider yourself mentally and psychologically perfect? Do you deserve to be constantly reminded of your flaws? This has to be a great exhibition in false equivalence. We ordinary folk are not perfect, thus we must allow the church her pecadillos. Rubbish! The church is not a person.

  249. #249 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    There is a pretty decent book called ‘Hitler’s Pope, The Secret History of Pius XII’ by John Cornwell , Viking 1999 that even my county library has. I haven’t read it lately, but as I recall it was full of secrets from the vatican archives.

  250. #250 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    heresy-hunters.

    Indeed, they never really got rid of the inquisitorial dept., after all.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1251677.stm

    I have long maintained that there is not another single institution that has done more to interfere with the normal social development of humanity, nor done more damage to more different cultures, than the Catholic Church.

    They should have closed it up in shame hundreds of years ago, but, no, they just keep pluggin’ away, trying to maintain their record…

  251. #251 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Silly tsg, if you hold the sugar you’ll have nothing but a hanky and a piece of string.

    You can dress them however you like. ;^)

  252. #252 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    tsg complains about my use of third person: And stop talking about me like I’m not here. It’s incredibly pretentious.

    It’s a formalism meant to clarify exactly to whom the response is directed. There are so many writers here that second person is impossibly ambiguous. Second, use of second person often carries a confrontational air. And use of second person imperative is most certainly confrontational. I’m here to discuss ideas, not wave my penis around at other people.

    tsg next differentiates himself from the Church with the claim that he attempts to correct his irrationalism, while the Church makes no such attempt. I would argue that this conference represents an obvious attempt to bring the Church’s theology in greater conformance with science — they are attempting to improve their level of rationality. Just like you. Good for both of you!

    Finally, tsg dismisses my arguments about mudslinging as vapid platitudes. Resorting to name-calling is an admission of failure.

    Heliobates argues that he is without sin — by defining sin in a purely theological sense. Fine. But we all know that every human being has done wrong many times in their life. Redefining the word “sin” does nothing to counter my point.

  253. #253 Irene Delse
    September 17, 2008

    Archbishop Ravasi’s comment about “overly scientific conception of evolution” puts me in mind of the “too many notes, Herr Mozart!” scene in Amadeus.

  254. #254 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    tsg #217:

    But I don’t believe for one second that they are. I think they’re looking for a way to re-package and re-brand their faith, using science to prop it up.

    See my previous post. Same old same old. They’re like the Borg, assimilating anything they can’t destroy.

    (Almost caught up with this thread… puff… pant…)

  255. #255 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    as I recall it was full of secrets from the vatican archives.

    like this kind of stuff?

    http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/exlibris/1998/01/msg00189.html

    Opened on Thursday alongside the Inquisition archives was the infamous Index of Forbidden Books, which Roman Catholics were forbidden to read or possess on pain of excommunication. They showed that even the Bible was once on the blacklist. Translations of the holy book ended up on the bonfires along with other “heretical” works because the Church, whose official language was Latin, was suspicious of allowing the faithful access to sacred texts without ecclesiastical guidance.

    such bastions of education and enlightenment!

  256. #256 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    There are so many writers here that second person is impossibly ambiguous.

    I think what he’s really asking, is if you are even capable of not spewing bullshit arguments like the one you just now used to excuse yourself from conversing with him directly.

    I agree with TSG, your inability to address him directly is quite disturbing (borders on amusing, though); suggests some underlying psychological malady, frankly.

    notice I’m speaking to you directly. it’s really not difficult.

  257. #257 SC
    September 17, 2008

    one must know what is being translated, i.e. current science

    That’s what books and articles are for. I assume these people are capable of reading. Instead they organize an event to make it look like they have something to offer to science. It’s a self-serving farce.

    It’s not possible to answer the question as written because the crucial terms are indeterminate. What do we mean by “friendly” and “heinous” and “denounced”? For example, the Church has responded to many modern violent conflicts by reminding everybody of the desirability of peaceful resolutions. [Like in Rwanda?] Does this mean that they “denounced” one side or the other? Just how serious does a conflict have to be to count as “heinous”? And what allows us to categorize one regime as “friendly” and another as “unfriendly”?

    Stop dancing. The link is to a piece about concordats with regimes, not conflicts. It points to specific facts about the Church’s relationship with brutal regimes. Do you have anything that you think is a counterexample? Offer it and we can hash out specific definitions.

    For example, I believe that the Pope, when meeting with Mr. Bush, made some tactful comments regarding the war in Iraq. Does Mr. Bush’s regime count as friendly or unfriendly?

    Friendly.

    Is the war in Iraq heinous, bad, or merely unpleasant?

    Heinous. (I suppose the Inquisition was just a bit bothersome.)

    Did the Pope’s words constitute denunciation?

    No. Any other stupid questions?

    All highly subjective.

    Spoken like a true Catholic.

  258. #258 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Nanahuatzin: “whic Here in Mexico i can see aztec dances, once dedicated to the Tonantzin, the Mother earth, now dedicated to the Virgin Mary… I can just smile at that…

    Yup, that one was particularly quick – didn’t the apparition of Guadalupe happen in the 16th century, just happening to be associated with the symbols of Tonantzin?

    If the church were now that quick, they would have made Teilhard’s Omega point part of doctrine as soon as he came up with it. I guess science is harder to subvert successfully.

  259. #259 Longtime Lurker
    September 17, 2008

    But the Catholic Church, despite its many crimes, has also done some great things. It was the repository and transmitter of the classical heritage.

    Hey, Mr Crawford, if I should burn down your house, but decide to remove the antique credenza that was passed down through generations of Crawfords before the conflagration raged too fiercely, would you laud me for saving your priceless heirloom?

    Please note, this is a hypothetical, an analogy. I have no desire to set fire to your house, or any other building.

  260. #260 S.Scott
    September 17, 2008

    Aaacckk! I could only read up to post 115 w/o starting to go blind – but this caught my eye …

    ” Catholicism (indeed, religion in general) has absolutely nothing relevant to say on the matter whatsoever.”

    AHEM — Raised a catholic – this is what I remember.

    Everything that man learns from science is necessary for man’s salvation

    So – there is your position, and it’s a good one. IMO – the catholics that haven’t been confused by the likes of Bill Donohue, are friends of science.

  261. #261 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    Is there anything that the Vatican could plausibly be expected to do that would get your approval?

    Oh yes. Report all the child abusers they are hiding in their midst to the authorities pronto. That would impress me at least.

  262. #262 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    It’s a formalism meant to clarify exactly to whom the response is directed. There are so many writers here that second person is impossibly ambiguous.

    Directly quoting what you are responding to makes it much more clear.

    Second, use of second person often carries a confrontational air. And use of second person imperative is most certainly confrontational.

    I’m a big boy. I can handle your disagreement with my ideas without taking it personally.

    tsg next differentiates himself from the Church with the claim that he attempts to correct his irrationalism, while the Church makes no such attempt. I would argue that this conference represents an obvious attempt to bring the Church’s theology in greater conformance with science — they are attempting to improve their level of rationality.

    I would argue that this is an incredibly naive view for reasons I have already mentioned and that you have completely failed to address short of saying “other people are worse”.

    In short, your entire argument hinges on the unsupported assertion that the claims in the press release can be taken at face value. I and others here have given you plenty of reason why we don’t think they should be and you have done nothing to assuage those doubts.

  263. #263 Andreas Johansson
    September 17, 2008

    PZ, I have to question your claim that theology isn’t science. I mean, it has “-ology” at the end of it. It HAS to be science!

    If we can trust Ray Martinez – and if we can’t trust rabid Usenet kooks, who can we trust? – “-ology” is a suffix indicating that the previous part of the word is considered divine. “Theology” is thus the claim that gods are divine.

  264. #264 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    Patricia at 249

    Hitler’s Pope: “A pretty decent book”.

    Compared to what? Jack and the bean stalk.

    Other pretty decent books you might find interesting at your level of fiction:

    Bride of Frankenstein
    Vampire’s curse
    Wizard of Oz (oops, that might be too deep)

  265. #265 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    @Max:
    probably the purpose of this conference

    IOW, what your saying is essentially as more and more evidence comes to fore empirically invalidating old Catholic Dogma, they have to invent new rationalizations and apologetic screeds.

    well, duh.

    The wonderful thing about apologetics is that there are an infinite number of gaps to stuff their rationalizations into.

    Eventually, though, even the dumbest among us will begin to wonder when the entirety of CC dogma can fit inside a walnut shell.

  266. #266 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    “Theology” is thus the claim that gods are divine.

    I always suspected that “biology” meant “divine nature”.

    er, not.

    :p

  267. #267 SC
    September 17, 2008

    Compared to what? Jack and the bean stalk.

    I’ve read it. I don’t have it here, but perhaps you can point us to specific egregious errors of scholarship that render his conclusions invalid. I’m always interested in hearing substantive criticism, and will investigate further.

  268. #268 dubiquiabs
    September 17, 2008

    “This conference strikes me as an attempt to reconcile science and religion in a rational way.”

    Huh? Exactly what is there to reconcile?

    “The phantom ‘debate’ itself exists solely because of religion, not because of its exclusion. The scientific debate, the only one that matters, ended more than a century ago. Catholicism (indeed, religion in general) has absolutely nothing relevant to say on the matter whatsoever.”

    Precisely!

    @Chris Crawford, Michael Kremer, et al.

    Show me where the RCC stepped back from claiming to be the ultimate power, judge and jury on the entire globe, as eg stated in Vatican I? Here is a 20th century reminder by Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, just to give you a flavor:

    “Yet before proceeding to explain these matters, that principle which Leo XIII so clearly established must be laid down at the outset here, namely, that there resides in Us the right and duty to pronounce with supreme authority upon social and economic matters. … [The Church] can in no wise renounce the duty God entrusted to her to interpose her authority, not of course in matters of technique for which she is neither suitably equipped nor endowed by office, but in all things that are connected with the moral law. For as to these, the deposit of truth that God committed to Us and the grave duty of disseminating and interpreting the whole moral law, and … bring under and subject to Our supreme jurisdiction not only social order but economic activities themselves.”

    And show me where the RCC exempted doing science from being “connected with the moral law” and where she exempted science from being a “social activity”. If you deem yourself xian, regardless of denomination, your ultimate authority in matters of truth is the RCC. (First Vatican Council, “Pastor Aeternus”, 18 July 1870)

    To the RCC, science is a threat to her authority as owner of the “Absolute Truth”? and where it suits, science is a handmaiden. Reconciling science and religion, yeah right, just look at how this worked out in embryonic stem cell research!

  269. #269 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    It was the repository and transmitter of the classical heritage.

    only because they would violently eliminate all competition that might have done a better job, along with those who would maintain works the church would have found “inappropriate”.

  270. #270 windy, OM
    September 17, 2008

    Translations of the holy book ended up on the bonfires along with other “heretical” works because the Church, whose official language was Latin, was suspicious of allowing the faithful access to sacred texts without ecclesiastical guidance.

    I’ll just repeat this nice quote from those times…

    “Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?”

    -Pope Paul V, 1606

  271. #271 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Max – pretty decent compared to the other less than tripe books in my county library.
    You are right about The Wizard of Oz, those flying monkeys scare me. :)

  272. #272 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    I’m always interested in hearing substantive criticism,

    That you would address that to MAX made my day, though I now have to pour myself a new cup of coffee.

    excuse me.

  273. #273 Chris Crawford
    September 17, 2008

    if you are even capable of not spewing bullshit arguments like the one you just now used to excuse yourself from conversing with him directly.
    I agree with TSG, your inability to address him directly is quite disturbing (borders on amusing, though); suggests some underlying psychological malady, frankly.

    There seems to be a Second Law of Thermodynamics for internet discussions, which decrees that all internet discussions must inevitably degenerate into mudslinging and chaos. This discussion has certainly obeyed that law. I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

  274. #274 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    There seems to be a Second Law of Thermodynamics for internet discussions, which decrees that all internet discussions must inevitably degenerate into mudslinging and chaos. This discussion has certainly obeyed that law. I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

    Oh, please. Drama queen exit, stage right…

  275. #275 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    There seems to be a Second Law of Thermodynamics for internet discussions,

    completely nonsensical

    I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

    good riddens to bad rubbish, I say for my part. others may or may not agree.

  276. #276 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    Jack & the Beanstalk – now there’s a fine wholesome tale! The simple story of a young lad from a poor neighbourhood who suffers from delusions of grandeur and quickly turns to crime for no apparent reason – to wit: breaking & entering, theft and ultimately murder (one rather large gentleman that took us all day to draw a chalk outline round, sargeant.)

  277. #277 Ed Darrell
    September 17, 2008

    It’s a good thing, overall. The Catholics are inviting scientists, but not Dawkins, and I suppose not you. Unfortunately, they’re not inviting me, either (I could use the air miles, I’d represent educators — but I’m not on the list).

    Hawking is invited, I understand. That’ll frost the creationists, and it’s close enough to being straight up that I’ll not carp too much.

    The question is, is the Pope in a listening mood? Can this Pope be in a listening mood?

    No Catholic University teaches creationism. No Catholic school teaches creationism. That’s more hopeful than troubling.

  278. #278 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    tsg – you may be a bit confused as to what a sugar-tit actually is. Or are you being a big smarty pants? ;o)

  279. #279 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    This discussion has certainly obeyed that law. I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

    I like to call this the “I’m taking my ball and going home” law of the internet discussion. As soon as someone who’s point is being handled senses the avenue of escape by claiming insult, he will use this escape to get out of the real discussion.

  280. #280 SC
    September 17, 2008

    …[ludicrous excuse]…I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

    Wish you well, too, Crawford. Boy, do I wish you well.

    I wonder what the odds are that he’ll reappear on another thread in the not-too-distant future and begin anew as though this discussion had never happened…

  281. #281 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    tsg – you may be a bit confused as to what a sugar-tit actually is. Or are you being a big smarty pants? ;o)

    A little from Column A and a little from Column B…

    I did look it up, but I couldn’t pass up the obvious joke. I guess I’m a little irrational that way….

  282. #282 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    tsg – you may be a bit confused as to what a sugar-tit actually is. Or are you being a big smarty pants? ;o)

    ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh that sugar tit.

    nevermind.

  283. #283 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I like to call this the “I’m taking my ball and going home” law of the internet discussion. As soon as someone who’s point is being handled senses the avenue of escape by claiming insult, he will use this escape to get out of the real discussion.

    The only thing missing was the broad accusations of refusing to listen to reason.

  284. #284 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    SC – You’re right, of course he will, just like Petey, Llurra, and the two trolls PZ banned recently. They also never answer questins they don’t like. *grin*

  285. #285 windy, OM
    September 17, 2008

    Hawking is invited, I understand. That’ll frost the creationists, and it’s close enough to being straight up that I’ll not carp too much.

    Inviting a physicist to discuss evolution is “close enough”?

  286. #286 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    There seems to be a Second Law of Thermodynamics for internet discussions, which decrees that all internet discussions must inevitably degenerate into mudslinging and chaos. This discussion has certainly obeyed that law. I am therefore going to take my leave and wish all well.

    Actually, the rule is that whenever someone finds themselves being bested in an internet discussion, they will point at the crassest post they can manage to find, claim it represents the totality of the current debate, feign the vapors and declare themselves too offended to continue in a vain effort to save face. I see you’ve executed the maneuver perfectly. Too bad it never actually fools anyone. Your moral indignation does not mask your failed arguments. If you had anything worthwhile to say, you certainly could ignore any perceived slights and answer the many substantial criticisms of your position. They won’t go away just because you do.

  287. #287 Llurra
    September 17, 2008

    Oh wow Patricia, did I miss something? Am I a troll here?
    And was I banned by PZ? I don’t think so dear.

  288. #288 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Oh wow Patricia, did I miss something? Am I a troll here?
    And was I banned by PZ? I don’t think so dear.

    Lluara

    * Wave

    There’s a questions still floating out there for you.

  289. #289 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    I wonder what the odds are that he’ll reappear on another thread in the not-too-distant future and begin anew as though this discussion had never happened…

    let me put it this way, I wouldn’t bet against it, and I’m a betting man.

  290. #290 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Why BigNaughtyChimp, someone that eats grits should know better! Such disgraceful behaviour. ;D

  291. #291 John Phillips, FCD
    September 17, 2008

    Chris Crawford the drama queen: Here’s a bit of irrationality for you. Fuck off wuss, as your continued apologetics and lies for that odious organisation fills me with disgust, especially knowing what we do about the organisation’s methods, even today. The only difference between today and the past is that your organisation of child rapists and killers of third world humans no longer wields the power it does, thank FSM, though it is obvious it wishes it still did.

    When the importance of maintaining control over the sheep takes precedence over the lives of those very sheep (the AIDS and condoms issue/the protecting child rapist gambit, actually formulated by the very scum who is now chief shit stirrer at the very top of the RC dung heap) then the RC has lost all possible claims to the moral high ground on just abut any subject you care to mention.

  292. #292 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    …the two trolls PZ banned recently

    I think you might be confusing Pistol Pete for Sinbad (who was tossed yesterday), which of course is understandable.

    as to Lluraluralei… I also can’t fault you for a bit of wishful thinking.

    Unless you just want to poke the monkeys with a stick, I rather think a killfile is the way to go with those two at this point.

  293. #293 Longtime Lurker
    September 17, 2008

    I like to call this the “I’m taking my ball and going home” law of the internet discussion.

    Rev, I prefer to call it Snagglepuss’ corollary… law, even:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4qFxTTi8q0

  294. #294 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    Oh wow Patricia, did I miss something?

    you actually haven’t caught anything yet.

    Am I a troll here?

    was that a rhetorical question?

  295. #295 echidna
    September 17, 2008

    Llurra/lluara/etc/etc certainly would qualify for the dungeon on the grounds of morphing, if nothing else….

  296. #296 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    No, Llurra – that isn’t what I wrote. Look at it again.

  297. #297 Pierce R. Butler
    September 17, 2008

    Glazius @ # 114: … a Google just revealed that the guy in charge had been sacked for standing up against Cardinal Schoenbaugh for his endorsement of ID.

    I don’t have time to dig up the links, but numerous posts on SciBlogs & Panda’s Thumb have reported that Msgr. Coyne was not canned, but retired voluntarily for personal reasons (mostly age).

  298. #298 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I think you might be confusing Pistol Pete for Sinbad (who was tossed yesterday), which of course is understandable.

    as to Lluraluralei… I also can’t fault you for a bit of wishful thinking.

    Unless you just want to poke the monkeys with a stick, I rather think a killfile is the way to go with those two at this point.

    Unless I’m missing something, she said:

    just like Petey, Llurra, and the two trolls PZ banned recently [emphasis mine]

    In other words, four people total.

  299. #299 PZ Myers
    September 17, 2008

    People — ease up on the trigger a little. I think Chris Crawford was annoyingly wrong, but he was making a sincere argument and actually engaging with the criticisms. Could we not treat people like that as if they are an obtuse kenny or lluaara? Please? Smack their arguments down hard, but at least recognize that they’re trying to argue on the same playing field we are.

  300. #300 SC
    September 17, 2008

    I like to call this the “I’m taking my ball and going home” law of the internet discussion. As soon as someone who’s point is being handled senses the avenue of escape by claiming insult, he will use this escape to get out of the real discussion.

    I think for entertainment I’m going to start ranking these exits on a YAM (You’re All Mean] scale, on which Dr. Jay Gordon falls at the the extreme (10), for, among other things, responding with threats/attempts to “out” anonymous bloggers. Contestants will be scored on the following:

    - general poutiness
    - level of pomposity
    - endurance
    - timing of onset of first reference to insults and/or “abuse”
    - quality of rhetoric of indignation
    - use of insulting language
    - number of substantive points ignored
    - number of substantive arguments left hanging upon departure
    - comedic value (if any)

    Hmmm…What else…?

  301. #301 kmarissa
    September 17, 2008

    You’re right, of course he will, just like Petey, Llurra, and the two trolls PZ banned recently.

    Am I a troll here?
    And was I banned by PZ? I don’t think so dear.

    Patricia lists you in addition to two trolls who were banned. The “and” is one name to the left of where you seem to have read it.

  302. #302 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    he was making a sincere argument

    Sincerely dishonest, you mean.

  303. #303 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    The “and” is one name to the left of where you seem to have read it.

    I missed it too.

  304. #304 dubiquiabs
    September 17, 2008

    @Max, #137

    “The primacy of faith requires this and I suspect this is the purpose of the conference. It is to reconcile contemporary science to faith. There is no mystery here.”

    [emphases mine]

    Precious! Ah, the arrogance!

  305. #305 kmarissa
    September 17, 2008

    Hah, to the *right* of course. Had it BEEN one name to the left, you’d have been correct.

  306. #306 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    People — ease up on the trigger a little. I think Chris Crawford was annoyingly wrong, but he was making a sincere argument and actually engaging with the criticisms. Could we not treat people like that as if they are an obtuse kenny or lluaara? Please? Smack their arguments down hard, but at least recognize that they’re trying to argue on the same playing field we are.

    I was trying to be civil. I didn’t get snarky until he started pouting.

  307. #307 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    SC@267

    Well the first piece of substantive criticism you need to investigate is the TITLE -Hitler’s Pope.

    There is no evidence that the Pope’s actions were motivated so as to promote Hitler’s deranged agenda. The Pope’s passivity, aimed at protecting the safety of those who would be victimized by Hitler’s deranged agenda if their cause were to be promoted, cannot be interpreted as the Pope carrying a brief for Hitler except by those who don’t like Popes or, for that matter, anything else that smacks of religion. Hitler limited his carnage mostly to Jews. The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people – a much larger population. So, I suppose a case could be made that Hitler was preferable to today’s “scientific naturalist”.

  308. #308 SC
    September 17, 2008

    Could we not treat people like that as if they are an obtuse kenny or lluaara? Please? Smack their arguments down hard, but at least recognize that they’re trying to argue on the same playing field we are.

    It’s the practice that H.H. mentions – to “point at the crassest post they can manage to find” and “claim it represents the totality of the current debate” – that sets me off. He did this with a comment, I think, from Quiet Desperation, who wasn’t even involved in the substantive argument:

    I ask readers, what is the rationality content of this statement? Is it the pinnacle of Objective Rationalism? Does it represent the kind of thinking you extol as profoundly superior to the superstitions of religion?

    Then he proceeded to ignore everything of substance on this basis. It’s an infuriatingly dishonest tactic.

  309. #309 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people – a much larger population. So, I suppose a case could be made that Hitler was preferable to today’s “scientific naturalist”.

    I’m sorry, but that is one of the dumbest things I’ve read here recently and we have Lluara.

  310. #310 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    SC@267

    Well the first piece of substantive criticism you need to investigate is the TITLE -Hitler’s Pope.

    There is no evidence that the Pope’s actions were motivated so as to promote Hitler’s deranged agenda. The Pope’s passivity, aimed at protecting the safety of those who would be victimized by Hitler’s deranged agenda if their cause were to be promoted, cannot be interpreted as the Pope carrying a brief for Hitler except by those who don’t like Popes or, for that matter, anything else that smacks of religion. Hitler limited his carnage mostly to Jews. The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people – a much larger population. So, I suppose a case could be made that Hitler was preferable to today’s “scientific naturalist”.

  311. #311 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people – a much larger population.

    Care to substantiate that?

    Nevermind. You Godwined yourself in two posts.

  312. #312 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    SC – Now my curiosity is going wild. I’m going to recheck out ‘Hitler’s Pope’ and see what was so bad about it. The colander I wear on my head does nothing to keep memories in my brain.

  313. #313 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    So, I suppose a case could be made that Hitler was preferable to today’s “scientific naturalist”.

    Sure, if you’re as insane as Rev. Kennedy was.

    funny, I don’t recall anyone on this board ever recommending we fire up the ovens, or stock the coliseum with lions for some half-time entertainment at the next [put your favorite NFL team here] game.

    your persecution complex is flaring up again, there, maxy.

    you really need to start separating your religious beliefs from YOU.

    it’s the first step to sanity.

    really.

  314. #314 SC
    September 17, 2008

    Max Verret,

    That was not a response to my request for substantive criticism of his historical research. It was a series of baseless assertions which, incidentally, lead me to believe you’ve not read the book in any serious way. Oh, and you’re a silly paranoiac.

  315. #315 frog
    September 17, 2008

    ferret: There is no evidence that the Pope’s actions were motivated so as to promote Hitler’s deranged agenda. The Pope’s passivity, aimed at protecting the safety of those who would be victimized by Hitler’s deranged agenda if their cause were to be promoted, cannot be interpreted as the Pope carrying a brief for Hitler except by those who don’t like Popes or, for that matter, anything else that smacks of religion

    Oh give me a damn break. The Pope’s passivity was just an attempt to protect the church. The concordat proves that — all Pius gave a damn about was protecting the CC in case that Hitler succeeded. He could have done a hell of a lot more by not signing the concordat and screaming to the high heavens that everything associated with Nazism was an excommunicable offense.

    The church would have paid a price – but not the price the entire human race had to pay for it’s moral cowardice.

    What a surprise! The CC acting in it’s organizational interest to the exclusion of all moral principle. When has it acted otherwise?

  316. #316 H.H.
    September 17, 2008

    Max Verret wrote:

    Well the first piece of substantive criticism you need to investigate is the TITLE -Hitler’s Pope.

    You mean you’ve never gotten past the title. This reminds me of the creationist who tried to vilify Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as racist propaganda solely on the basis that it’s subtitled “Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

    Man, criticizing books is so much easier when you don’t have to go through the bother of actually reading them.

  317. #317 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Man, criticizing books is so much easier when you don’t have to go through the bother of actually reading them.

    I remember something about judging a book buy its..um…. its…. humm…. what was that again?

  318. #318 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    I remember something about judging a book buy its..um…. its…. humm…. what was that again?

    Content. Never judge a book by its content.

  319. #319 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    I remember something about judging a book buy its..um…. its…. humm…. what was that again?

    …Title?

    …insert?

    …introduction?

    …forward?

    Now that I think about it, most of the books I read these days are in electronic format… I don’t think they could even be considered to HAVE covers.

  320. #320 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    good point

  321. #321 JoJo
    September 17, 2008

    I’m sorry that Mr. Crawford decided to retrieve his spheroid and retire to his domicile. I had a few questions for him.

    However, Mr. Verret is here, ready to defend Pius XII of the charge of sucking up to Mussolini and Hitler. Philippe PÚtain, President of the Vichy puppet government, asked if the Vatican objected to anti-Jewish laws. Pius responded that the church condemned antisemitism, but would not comment on specific rules. Similarly, when PÚtain’s government adopted the “Jewish statutes,” the Vichy ambassador to the Vatican was told that the legislation did not conflict with Catholic teachings. This legislation included excluding Jews from any governmental or educational jobs, revoking licenses to practice for Jewish doctors and lawyers, disallowing Jewish employers from having any non-Jewish employees, not allowing Jews to marry non-Jews, etc., etc. The papal nuncio to France was “embarrassed” when he learned of this publicly from PÚtain and personally checked the information with the Vatican who confirmed the Pope’s position.

    So, Max, tell us what a great guy Pius was, doing all he could for those French Jews.

  322. #322 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    This reminds me of the creationist who tried to vilify Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as racist propaganda solely on the basis that it’s subtitled “Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

    yes… I recall that… lesseee… crazy canuk creationist IIRC…

    There was a thread devoted to him on Pharyngula a few months back, yes?

  323. #323 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    I always judge em’ by the purty picthrs.

  324. #324 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Now that I think about it, most of the books I read these days are in electronic format… I don’t think they could even be considered to HAVE covers.

    Call me irrational, but I still prefer a paper book to electronic ones, even though I’m a certifiable geek.

  325. #325 TomJoe
    September 17, 2008

    PZ’s just upset because he didn’t get invited.

  326. #326 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    That’s the point I was subtly trying to make with my Jack & the Beanstalk post.

  327. #327 El Herring
    September 17, 2008

    Sorry, my comment 326 was referring to comments 316-319.

  328. #328 SC
    September 17, 2008

    I remember something about judging a book buy its..um…. its…. humm…. what was that again?

    The funny thing is that in this case there was some (valid) controversy over the original cover photo. I went to wikipedia to look for a good link, and again I see evidence that the Church or some affiliated group has been very involved with the editing of pages related to it or its history. I found the same thing with some of the articles on Galileo, and it’s troubling. It’s possibly just my imagination, but I’m keeping an eye out.

  329. #329 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    ahh, *bing*

    the search engine sure is a pleasure to use now that it’s been “googleized”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/01/theres_more_to_a_book_than_a_t.php

  330. #330 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Jojo: So, Max, tell us what a great guy Pius was, doing all he could for those French Jews.

    Let me answer for rat-face! By protecting the continuation of the faith at all costs, in the long term he was securing the welfare of the human race.

    It’s a wonderful apologetic that applies to any cowardly, sniveling organization trying to rationalize it’s lack of principle.

    Even Hitler did it — he justified genocide on the basis that, even though it caused current suffering, in the long term he was protecting the hygiene of the human race.

    Long-term being “until everyone forgets this particular moral monstrosity, and we’ve collected our profits”.

  331. #331 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    That’s the point I was subtly trying to make with my Jack & the Beanstalk post.

    I stopped using subtlety five years ago because I was tired of getting funny looks.

  332. #332 SC
    September 17, 2008

    and screaming to the high heavens that everything associated with Nazism was an excommunicable offense.

    Or merely unpleasant? All highly subjective.

  333. #333 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    Call me irrational, but I still prefer a paper book to electronic ones, even though I’m a certifiable geek.

    not in the slightest!

    I much prefer hard copy myself; I certainly didn’t grow up reading from a screen. When I really want to enjoy a book, I’ll borrow a hardback copy from the library to read.

    It’s just that if I kept all my references in hard copy form, my library would take up more space than is available in the entirety of my house.

    Yes, I do lament it from time to time, but I have to admit to it being WAY more convenient, and as I get older, I find it great to be able to search all my texts for specific passages without having to pull the books down and thumb through them.

    cross-referencing is bloody easier, too!

    OK, enough electronic geekdom.

  334. #334 Longtime Lurker
    September 17, 2008

    The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people

    Religious SENTIMENT, ya gobshite.

  335. #335 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    Ich @313

    “I don’t recall anyone on this board recommending that we stoke up the ovens”

    Mantra of scientific naturalistic aka atheist: religion is a virus of the mind. Now what reasonable person would not want to get rid of a virus. So, I don’t know if you would rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or the Coliseum, or whatever other means you might devise. But it doesn’t take a paranoid to conclude that you would like to rid the world of this virus and the people infected by it. At the risk of being repetitious there are a lot more people “infected” by religion than there are Jews. So, again, the analogy of scientific naturalism to Hitler seems appropriate

  336. #336 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    religion is a virus of the mind

    yes.

    so how do we normally treat diseases, max?

    do we burn the patient to death?

    no?

  337. #337 SC
    September 17, 2008

    I much prefer hard copy myself; I certainly didn’t grow up reading from a screen. When I really want to enjoy a book, I’ll borrow a hardback copy from the library to read.

    Me too. What really ticks me off, though, are people who write books or theses that use up like more than a ream of paper. I mean, try to be more concise, for trees’ sake! What’s wrong with these people?
    ;)

  338. #338 Kel
    September 17, 2008

    The scientific naturalist of today (atheists) would rid the world of all religious people

    Let’s all sing the persecution song…

    Pers-e-cuuuu-tion
    Perse–a-cuuuuuuu-tion
    Peeerrrsss-e-cu-tion
    persecution
    persecution
    pers-e-cu-u-u-u-tion

  339. #339 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    …hey, that reminds me of a joke someone put up around these parts a while back:

    “Light a fire for a man, and he’ll be warm for a night.”

    “Light a man ON fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

  340. #340 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Mantra of scientific naturalistic aka atheist: religion is a virus of the mind.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/metaphor

  341. #341 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    mean, try to be more concise, for trees’ sake! What’s wrong with these people?

    ROFLMAO

    I assume you got my email last night?

  342. #342 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    …hey, that reminds me of a joke someone put up around these parts a while back:

    “If you fail me, you can be assured you will spend the rest of your life in complete and utter agony where your only consolation will be that it won’t be for very long.”

  343. #343 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    September 17, 2008

    “Theology” is thus the claim that gods are divine.

    I gotta wonder about specialists in toxicology now….

  344. #344 SC
    September 17, 2008

    I assume you got my email last night?

    I did. I was out for most of the day and as soon as I returned home I jumped into this discussion. I’ll write as soon as I can tear myself away from here. :)

  345. #345 j h woodyatt
    September 17, 2008

    “…overly scientific conception of evolution…”

    That’s a dead giveaway, isn’t it? Up until that point, I was ready to argue that maybe the motivation was purely defensive, i.e. they’re trying to figure out how to rejigger their theology so it doesn’t look quite so ridiculous in the face what evolution tells us about the origin of life.

    An “overly scientific conception” eh? Wow, that’s being pretty up-front about what they’re doing. This is no defensive move. They’re on the attack.

  346. #346 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Ferret: Mantra of scientific naturalistic aka atheist: religion is a virus of the mind. Now what reasonable person would not want to get rid of a virus. So, I don’t know if you would rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or the Coliseum, or whatever other means you might devise

    Wow, what a projective monster you are! Let me see, who burned people at the stake to keep their evil ideas from spreading… who who who… I can’t remember who put Bruno on the faggots…

    Max, you are an unempathetic monster. Let’s imagine how you think we could “cure” AIDS… Let’s just try to take your point of view, what could possibly cause you to think that you get rid of a “virus” by killing the victims…

  347. #347 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    “If you fail me, you can be assured you will spend the rest of your life in complete and utter agony where your only consolation will be that it won’t be for very long.”

    my google-fu failed me.

    what’s that from?

    I’ll take a stab:

    5th Element?

    sounds like something Gary Oldman’s character in that flick would have said.

  348. #348 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    …hey, that reminds me of a joke someone put up around these parts a while back:

    “Light a fire for a man, and he’ll be warm for a night.”

    “Light a man ON fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

    Which reminds me of an old saying

    never pet a burning dog

  349. #349 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    my google-fu failed me.

    what’s that from?

    I’ll take a stab:

    5th Element?

    sounds like something Gary Oldman’s character in that flick would have said.

    Terry Pratchett, paraphrased from memory. In fact, until I saw the Gary Oldman reference, I thought you had written 5th Elephant.

  350. #350 Sven DiMilo
    September 17, 2008

    What really ticks me off, though, are people who write books or theses that use up like more than a ream of paper.

    Perhaps it was festering guilt over all the trees that died to print Infinite Jest that finally pushed DF Wallace over the edge last week.

    C’mon people! Weep for the treeeees!

  351. #351 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Mantra of scientific naturalistic aka atheist: religion is a virus of the mind. Now what reasonable person would not want to get rid of a virus. So, I don’t know if you would rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or the Coliseum, or whatever other means you might devise. But it doesn’t take a paranoid to conclude that you would like to rid the world of this virus and the people infected by it. At the risk of being repetitious there are a lot more people “infected” by religion than there are Jews.

    I hope to fuck you aren’t a doctor.

    “Sorry Billy, that cold requires that we set you on fire with kerosene. You won’t have the cold any longer, but it won’t matter”

    max, logic you’re doing it wrong

    So, again, the analogy of scientific naturalism to Hitler seems appropriate

    Only to someone with the logic skills of a rabid hamster.

  352. #352 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    Max,
    You really are a disgusting individual. How dare you project your sick genocidal fantasies onto others? You’re in the right Church, I will say that – the one whose misogyny and lies have condemned millions to die of AIDS.

  353. #353 Sphere Coupler
    September 17, 2008

    Ive seen several post commenting that theology has nothing to offer to science, to this I must disagree. Albeit on another level. The study of the mind where some humans find comfort to “give it all up to a higher power” and those who find comfort in knowing reality.Humans can be wired so differently.I like sci-fi but religifiction is too far out there.

    Perhaps shorter hats?

  354. #354 SC
    September 17, 2008

    Perhaps it was festering guilt over all the trees that died to print Infinite Jest that finally pushed DF Wallace over the edge last week.

    *cringe*

    C’mon people! Weep for the treeeees!

    That’s one bad trip, bra. Please tell me it’s a fake. I beg of you.

  355. #355 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    frog 346

    Bad science and bad logic, frog. we can cure a bacterial infection with antibiotics; we can treat AIDS. But a virus. Well you have to let it run its course or kill the host. I will take the scientific naturalist at their word; they would like to rid the world of this religious virus. You’re obviously not willing to let it run its course. So, what is the alternative. Just come out with it: the scientific naturalists would like to rid the world of those infected with the religious virus. I agree it would make you sound callous and insensitive, a fiendish blob of humanity, but just admit it, you can’t make an omelet with breaking a couple of billion eggs.

  356. #356 CJO
    September 17, 2008

    we can treat AIDS. But a virus.

    That’s just priceless.

  357. #357 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Ferret: we can cure a bacterial infection with antibiotics; we can treat AIDS. But a virus. Well you have to let it run its course or kill the host.

    You’re just an unalloyed dumbfuck aren’t you? HIV is a virus. It can be treated not with antibiotics, but with anti-virals. We also have these little things called vaccines that are used to treat epidemics.

    Wow, you’ve just blown your cover as a moron of the highest magnitude who wants to pontificate on science without the least bit of education on anything, whatsoever. We’re not talking about cutting edge science – we’re talking elementary school education. We could go to the poorest third-world country and find kids who left school at eight who have a better grasp of science, history and philosophy than you.

    Serious cretinage. Please try to read a book. Any book at all. A certain level of ignorance revokes any right to blather on your opinions – they are rendered worthless by a mind completely empty of substance.

  358. #358 SC
    September 17, 2008

    we can treat AIDS. But a virus…

    ???

  359. #359 Sphere Coupler
    September 17, 2008

    Come on people religion is not a virus, it is a security blanket that we have held for a very very long time. Its always been a very big scary world and the god concept has helped us manage our fears thru time. However the more we know (science)the less we have to rely on a god concept.The human race is still very young but I’d say we are progressing nicely.

  360. #360 frog
    September 17, 2008

    SphereCoupler: Come on people religion is not a virus, it is a security blanket that we have held for a very very long time.

    Evangelical religions really do look like viruses, plowing through their hosts trying to outrace the devastation they leave behind – maybe weeds is better? Looking for ecosystems that have been disturbed?

    Traditional religions are more like security blankets – unfortunately often laced with cyanide. You can get some tolerance, but ohoh if you get a little to snuggly.

  361. #361 Joshua Bowers
    September 17, 2008

    Max @355: wow, you are dishonest. While their efficacy might be limited, such things as antiviral medications do exist. And where we do not have medications to kill viruses in-situ, we do have vaccines to boost the immune system to prevent infection. The only viruses we really have trouble with are those that successfully integrate themselves into their hosts genetic code (such as HIV), and there are researchers who are looking for ways to combat even those forms.

    You are being completely disingenuous with your analogy: as should be evidenced enough by many of the minions of PZ, it is entirely possible to rid the mind of a meme-virus without killing the host.

  362. #362 TomJoe
    September 17, 2008

    Last time I checked, AIDS was not a virus and HIV was. So for all the idiots who jumped on that guys case, he was technically correct. In their zeal to attack religion, they wound up the fools.

  363. #363 Sphere Coupler
    September 17, 2008

    I agree their are those religions who reek havoc on the unaware, and by all means those should be dealt with accordingly.However the innocent that were dupt should not suffer any thing more than reeducation or to put it in agreeable terms, a freeing of the mind. It is the mind that was stolen from these individuals.

  364. #364 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    frog 357

    Yes, frog, we cure bacterial infections, we treat AIDS – we don’t cure AIDS; virus, that what the V is for in HIV. We let AIDS run its course and usually the host dies of AIDS. The only other way of eliminating the AIDS virus is to kill the host – as you would do with those infected with the religious virus. Unlike AIDS, you have no effective treatment because the infected ones think you should be treated not them. You are not willing to let it linger on. So, I repeat what is the alternative?

  365. #365 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Ferret: Bad science and bad logic, frog. we can cure a bacterial infection with antibiotics; we can treat AIDS. But a virus. Well you have to let it run its course or kill the host.

    TomJoe: Last time I checked, AIDS was not a virus and HIV was. So for all the idiots who jumped on that guys case, he was technically correct. In their zeal to attack religion, they wound up the fools.

    I just had to make sure no one misses that! And no, polio is not a virus – the polio virus is a virus.

    Wow, Poe’s Law rides again! How can you figure out how to turn on your computer when you’re such a cretin? Does Mommy turn it on for you in your basement bedroom?

  366. #366 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Shite! Now that I’m back from the library I see you’ve changed the subject. Tricksy Ilk!

  367. #367 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Ferret: Yes, frog, we cure bacterial infections, we treat AIDS – we don’t cure AIDS; virus, that what the V is for in HIV

    You won’t give it up, will you? You insist on showing your complete vacuity. Wow, you really fall into the troll hall of fame – I just can’t help myself — must feed troll!

    Virii are cured all the time, just like bacteria. We stop epidemics; we give anti-virals that work with the immune system to cure the infection, just as antibiotics work with the immune system to clear bacterial infections.

    It sometimes takes decades to find a cure and AIDS is particularly nasty. But there’s no logical reason to believe that a cure for AIDS will not be developed — several cures have been tested. That’s the scientific process, you know? Trial and error, develop theories until you finally understand the workings.

    We have a cure for the epidemic — have had one for decades, if your damn, lousy, genocidal church wouldn’t keep on trying to screw it up in order to maximize the number of damaged people produced in the world that they can parasitize.

    Begone, Foul Troll! Light the Ways of the World, as an example to Humankind of the Dangers of your Church!

  368. #368 JoJo
    September 17, 2008

    Must not feed troll…must resist temptation…

  369. #369 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    September 17, 2008

    I don’t recall anyone on this board ever recommending we fire up the ovens, or stock the coliseum with lions

    I’ve seen worse, though. Some have actually suggested that — GASP! — we need to educate people better! *shivers with disgust*

  370. #370 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    Verret, you disgusting ignoramus, we do not let AIDS “run its course”. It is treated, with anti-virals, with the result that in an increasing number of countries, the death rate has been greatly reduced. I guess you think we should just let it “run its course”; after all, you appear to be the only one here with a genocidal mindset.

  371. #371 Nick Gotts
    September 17, 2008

    kill the host – as you would do with those infected with the religious virus. Verret

    You really have no shame, do you? You know very well this is a filthy lie, and you repeat it again and again. Pheeew! What a stench!

  372. #372 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    September 17, 2008

    I don’t know if you would rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or the Coliseum

    I strongly recommend that you find a better HMO, Max, if that’s how they do things where you go now.

  373. #373 Nanahuatzin
    September 17, 2008

    El Herring @247.

    “Come to think of it, they’ve been using the same trick continuously for 2000 years now. Why change a successful policy?”

    Thas is one of the things i am expecting. One thing is adopt and polish emotional but meaningless ritual of local religions.

    Another is adopt a way of thinking and reasoning.

    We are fortunate that contepmorary CC does not reject science, like their fundamentalist counterparts.

    We should not try to converte them to ateism. It the CC lears about science and reason, then, time will do the rest.

  374. #374 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    Last time I checked, AIDS was not a virus and HIV was.

    your argument equates to saying you want to draw a distinction between the rhinovirus and the mucous congestion that results from having a cold.

    IOW, it’s pretty lame to draw on such a pedantic technicality to say we jumped on Max’s point incorrectly.

    go wash your brain out with soap.

  375. #375 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    @252

    Redefining the word “sin” does nothing to counter my point.

    Is there some meaning of “sin” that doesn’t directly or indirectly allude to a species of unprovable supernatural essentialism?

  376. #376 frog
    September 17, 2008

    heliobates: Is there some meaning of “sin” that doesn’t directly or indirectly allude to a species of unprovable supernatural essentialism?

    Well, you could try writing in a different language – in Spanish it means ‘without’!

    It makes these jokers’ arguments much clearer if you speak in tongues.

  377. #377 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    @364

    The only other way of eliminating the AIDS virus is to kill the host – as you would do with those infected with the religious virus.

    Not a shred of intellectual integrity.

  378. #378 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    naked at 372

    “rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or in the Coliseum”

    That was clever, but not subtle, of you to cut the sentence off in the middle. The rest of the sentence said “or whatever other method you might devise”. I would never underestimate the brites in formulating creative, imaginative and inventive ways of extermination. Maybe you could light upon a form of putting the religitoids in suspended animation – a cryogenic freeze. The beauty of that would be to get them out of the way and avoid any charge of genocide.

  379. #379 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    Max how do you walk around with your world spinning like that?

  380. #380 tsg
    September 17, 2008

    Last time I checked, AIDS was not a virus and HIV was. So for all the idiots who jumped on that guys case, he was technically correct. In their zeal to attack religion, they wound up the fools.

    Someone made a minor technical error on what was a huge stretch to a really bad analogy to begin with, and you’re calling victory?

    I can totally see that: “Those atheists think HIV is a virus, therefore they really do want to kill all religious people!”

    Moron.

  381. #381 Feynmaniac
    September 17, 2008

    Max Verret,
    “But it doesn’t take a paranoid to conclude that you would like to rid the world of this virus and the people infected by it. At the risk of being repetitious there are a lot more people “infected” by religion than there are Jews. So, again, the analogy of scientific naturalism to Hitler seems appropriate”

    Yes it does take a paranoid mind to conclue that.

    How is changing people’s minds about religion through rational discourse the same as genocide?

    “But a virus. Well you have to let it run its course or kill the host.”

    No, no, no. You can treat viruses with medication. Do you honestly believe the only options upon getting a virus is do nothing or kill the patient?! Similarly the only options aren’t letting the religious do whatever the fuck they want unopposed or killing them all. You can have a debate with the religious and let them make up their own minds.

    You misunderstood the metaphor and then used bad logic to conclude atheists want to kill all relgious people. Why go through all that trouble when you can simply find a quote of atheists saying to kill all religious people? Is it because no respectable atheist is actually advocating that?

  382. #382 frog
    September 17, 2008

    Ferret: I would never underestimate the brites in formulating creative, imaginative and inventive ways of extermination. Maybe you could light upon a form of putting the religitoids in suspended animation – a cryogenic freeze. The beauty of that would be to get them out of the way and avoid any charge of genocide.

    You really spend a lot of time imagining new ways to kill people, don’t you?

  383. #383 Sphere Coupler
    September 17, 2008

    Max, I think you are confused, perhaps you should lie down for awhile. From what I’ve seen on these post, the PZ minions value human life and the human condition to ever consider such atrocities. If you persist you shall morph into a troll.

  384. #384 Ichthyic
    September 17, 2008

    I would never underestimate the brites in formulating creative, imaginative and inventive ways of extermination.

    I’ve got it, Max!

    we could fight fire with fire!

    use a virus like Ebola to wipe out the religious, right, Max?

    dude, get a fucking grip and see a shrink already.

    you’re bordering on paranoid schizophrenia, and it ain’t pretty.

    (and, for the record, we don’t burn people suffering from schizophrenia, either).

  385. #385 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    Re: Nazism/Atheism false analogy.

    I’m still trying to understand this. If we grant the ahistorical presumption that Hitler was an atheist, how does it follow that the Nazi atrocities were the result of atheism?

    I mean, were the average-Klaus Wehrmacht (i.e. rank and file, as opposed to the SS elite) soldiers indulging in some kind of cynical irony when they went to war with “Gott Mit Uns” on their belts?

    Hitler may have been a atheist, but the people who pulled the triggers, hooked up the exhaust pipes and lit the incinerators were run-of-the mill Christians. And mostly Catholics to boot.

  386. #386 David C.
    September 17, 2008

    I hope Jewish scientists will be invited to the conference.I can’t stand bland wafers without some cream cheese and lox on them.

  387. #387 Patricia
    September 17, 2008

    Good Grief! He really isn’t going to give it up.
    I’ve never seen any post by any of the Ilk recommending mass murder of the religious. That’s absurd.
    Max it was Pope Leo X that said Kill them all, god will know his own. Not PZ or any of the Ilk.

  388. #388 Sphere Coupler
    September 17, 2008

    Hitler’s only true love was power. After he had finished with one group he would have had to continue with the next and then the next until he was the last human on earth.Such was the source of his power.Pure hate and It wouldn’t have mattered what beliefs he had professed.

  389. #389 Travis
    September 17, 2008

    Documentary evidence suggests that Hitler considered himself Catholic;

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_hitler.html

  390. #390 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    Documentary evidence suggests that Hitler considered himself Catholic

    Hitler is actually irrelevant to the argument. Again, even if we ignore the historical record where the Nazi elite were concerned, Hitler did not personally kill 6 million Jews, half-a-million Gypsies, a quarter-million mentally or physically-disabled Germans, millions of Russians, an unknown number of homosexuals, political dissidents…

    The argument is supposed to be: “atheism made me do it”. But there is no evidence that the German volk renounced Christianity en masse. Which means the people committing the atrocities considered themselves Christians and were primarily Catholic. This argument is a non-starter, except as rank propoganda.

  391. #391 Pierce R. Butler
    September 17, 2008

    If you want to get into the church/Nazi morass, Hitler’s Pope might be the most widely available introduction, but it focuses rather narrowly on Eugenio Pacelli, alias Pius XII, and thus overlooks much.

    The best book I’ve found so far on the subject is Michael Phayer’s The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930 to 1965; I also recommend Susan Zuccoti’s Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy.

  392. #392 Dale Husband
    September 17, 2008

    I’m not Catholic or even Christian at all, but reading this post by P Z Myers makes me wonder if his extreme anti-religious bias is really justified. He actually BASHES the Catholic Church for hosting a conference on evolution??? Evolution has been accepted as a valid scientific theory by the Church for many decades, so hosting a conference about it to address it from the Catholic perspective seems appropriate to me.

    I eagerly await the announcement of the associated banquet for the participants. They will only be serving the highest quality food, made by master chefs of Europe, using only the freshest, best ingredients, oh, and there will be dollops of runny, rancid fecal material splattered over the tables and dishes. But the meal will be a magnificent gourmet experience, and the world will know that Vatican shit deserves to be served to the greatest minds of science.

    That was totally uncalled for!

  393. #393 Pierce R. Butler
    September 17, 2008

    As for the proposed conference, it at least takes one step towards meeting a personal demand of mine: If the Roman Catholic Church insists on declaring itself “pro-life” and the primary proponent of “the culture of life”, then it should damn well incorporate the study of biology into its doctrines.

    Let us all look forward to future Catholic confabs on cell function, ecology, physiology, DNA, zoology, botany, microbes, and all the other topics (even embryology!) they’ll need to cram to achieve their avowed position.

  394. #394 Sven DiMilo
    September 17, 2008

    I bold, therefore I am.

  395. #395 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    @392

    He actually BASHES the Catholic Church for hosting a conference on evolution???

    Reeding komprehenshun. Yr doin it rong.

  396. #396 heliobates
    September 17, 2008

    Blockquotes.

    I can has doin it rong?

  397. #397 Dale Husband
    September 17, 2008

    From that same website:

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/movies/08mv071.htm

    Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

    By Harry Forbes and John Mulderig
    Catholic News Service

    NEW YORK (CNS) — Unlike some Christian communities, the Catholic Church considers the theory that the human body evolved from pre-existing living matter, proposed originally by Charles Darwin (1809-1882), to be compatible with the religious truth revealed in the creation narratives in the Book of Genesis — provided the theory does not pass beyond the realm of science to a denial of humanity’s spiritual dimension, the creation of each human soul by God and God’s creative providence itself.

    “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” (Premise/Rampant) is a provocative documentary that focuses on the conflict between adherents of what is called today Neo-Darwinism, which denies any such purposeful providence, and proponents of the alternate theory of intelligent design, known as ID.

    The film’s purpose is to show that academics and research scientists are penalized for even suggesting that there might be flaws in prevailing evolutionary theory and that scientific evidence for intelligent design is systematically ignored.

    Director Nathan Frankowski’s unabashedly partisan movie is hosted by former presidential speechwriter, economist and sometime actor Ben Stein, who co-wrote the script with Kevin Miller. In his impish manner, Stein interviews several members of the scientific community who say they lost grants, were denied tenure or were dismissed from their jobs for their views.

    After a scientific journal edited by Richard Sternberg (“Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington”) published an article advocating intelligent design, for instance, Sternberg asserts there was a concerted effort to force him out of his position as a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

    (A preliminary investigation by the federal Office of Special Counsel did indeed find evidence upholding Sternberg’s charges. But the investigation was apparently stymied when the Smithsonian exercised its right not to cooperate.)

    Similarly, professor Caroline Crocker says that she was dismissed by George Mason University for lecturing on the shortcomings of evolutionary theory, an assertion the university denies. And assistant astronomy professor Guillermo Gonzalez maintains that he was denied tenure at Iowa State University because of his pro-ID stance. The president of Iowa State explains that Gonzalez was turned down because “he simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect in a candidate seeking tenure.”

    While these institutions uniformly reject the claim that anyone is being persecuted for questioning Darwinism, at least some admit that evolutionary skeptics and ID supporters do face hostility for their beliefs.

    Other supporters of intelligent design featured here include mathematician David Berlinski, theologian Alister McGrath and Baylor University engineering professor Robert J. Marks II.

    A study of academic and scientific freedom is a valid springboard for a documentary, but “Expelled” is far less persuasive when it tries to explore the moral and cultural consequences of evolutionary theory.

    Certainly the attempt to apply it to social conditions, called “social Darwinism,” was linked to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. However, the script’s tangential attempt to demonstrate an intrinsic connection between the scientific theory and perversions of it by Nazism seem extreme, with Stein solemnly walking the halls of the psychiatric hospital in Hadamar, Germany, where the mentally challenged were gassed.

    The film also equates Darwinism with lack of faith, and to prove the point Stein interviews two prominent atheists: Oxford don Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” and professor William Provine, a Cornell University science historian. The latter also rejects the possibility of free will as incompatible with Darwinian ideas.

    Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, and associate professor PZ Myers, of the University of Minnesota, all view intelligent design as no more than religious creationism masquerading as science. Perhaps in an effort to skirt such charges, the film mostly ignores the religious views of the “IDers,” while focusing on the godlessness of those on the other side.

    Clad in his signature business suit and sneakers, Stein maintains a slightly mischievous air. Contrary to his persona in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” in which he played a soporific economics teacher, here he’s a roving gadfly demanding answers.

    Like provocateur Michael Moore, Frankowski makes copious use of old movie clips (documentary footage of the Berlin Wall, Dorothy unmasking the Wizard of Oz, Charlton Heston battling the primates in “Planet of the Apes,” and so on) to humorously — if simplistically — hammer home the themes of suppression and duplicity.

    At least some of the talking heads seem caught off guard. This may help to explain Dawkins’ straight-faced suggestion that life on earth may have been “seeded” by aliens, an explanation blurted out in response to Stein’s aggressive questioning. (The filmmakers maintain all interviewees were duly briefed beforehand.)

    As the Vatican’s International Theological Commission pointed out in a 2004 document, “Communion and Stewardship,” this debate “involves scientific observation and generalization … and cannot be settled by theology.” It also cannot be settled by documentary — although, as evidenced after a recent promotional screening, this method can certainly stimulate discussion.

    Resource materials produced in tandem with the film include a guide to organizing church and classroom debates.

    The film contains Holocaust imagery and mature philosophical issues. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

    - – -

    Forbes is director and Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at http://www.usccb.org/movies.

    END

  398. #398 Kagato
    September 17, 2008

    I would never underestimate the brites in formulating creative, imaginative and inventive ways of extermination.

    And yet, here you are, the only one in this thread spending multiple posts coming up with creative ways to murder people!

    Maybe you should reflect on that for a moment.

  399. #399 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    WHAT?

  400. #400 Travis
    September 17, 2008

    @390:

    “Hitler is actually irrelevant to the argument.”

    “Hitler was an atheist” is a widespread and baseless claim that theists like to spread; the factual issue seemed worthy of correction.

    I do agree with your point.

  401. #401 Max Verret
    September 17, 2008

    Feyn. 381

    “How is changing people’s minds about religion through rational discourse the same as genocide”

    Are you serious? Are you on some kind of parallel universe?

    The people whose minds you are going to to try to change
    think that you are the satanic scum of the earth and that you are well on your way to the pit of hell for all eternity. They are no more interested in having their minds changed through rational discourse, hynoptic induction, guided imagery or any other mental aberration. They are saved and your represent an evil pestilence which God will banish to Gehenna and the sooner the better.

    And you are going to change their minds through “rational discourse”. You must be living in an altered state of consciousness.

  402. #402 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 17, 2008

    And you are going to change their minds through “rational discourse”. You must be living in an altered state of consciousness.

    Say the person that said this

    Mantra of scientific naturalistic aka atheist: religion is a virus of the mind. Now what reasonable person would not want to get rid of a virus. So, I don’t know if you would rid the world of this virus by putting it in the oven or the Coliseum, or whatever other means you might devise. But it doesn’t take a paranoid to conclude that you would like to rid the world of this virus and the people infected by it. At the risk of being repetitious there are a lot more people “infected” by religion than there are Jews. So, again, the analogy of scientific naturalism to Hitler seems appropriate.

    Right Max. You keep all that logic you have going there.

  403. #403 Tulse
    September 17, 2008

    ‘Cuz no one who was formerly religious has ever become an atheist, especially after rational arguments.

    …except for me, I guess…

  404. #404 JosephU
    September 17, 2008

    The first sentence of the article is:
    “The Vatican has announced
    that they are having an evolution congress,”

    Over the years,
    the Catholic Church has addressed the
    creation-evolution topic …
    appended is a sample of several statements:

    - Genesis does not contain purified myths.
    (Pontifical Biblical Commission 1909)

    - Genesis contains real history–
    it gives an account of things that really happened. (Pius XII)

    - St. Peter and Christ Himself in the New Testament confirmed
    the global Flood of Noah. It covered all the then high mountains and
    destroyed all land dwelling creatures except eight human beings and all kinds of non-human creatures aboard the Ark (Unam Sanctam, 1302)

    - Evolution must not be taught as fact,
    but instead the pros and cons of evolution must be taught.
    (Pius XII, Humani Generis)

    For more info,
    see:
    What does the Catholic Church Teach about Origins?
    http://www.kolbecenter.org/church_teaches.htm

    And:
    Genesis 1-11
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis1-11;&version=31;

  405. #405 Gibbon
    September 18, 2008

    Surely there is no problem with the Catholic Church holding a dialogue regarding evolution? Because it appears that they are simply trying to reach a position where they feel that Church dogma is being informed by science so as to avoid conflict. In the very least, it would appear that they are doing precisely what Einstein described in the latter part of his quote: “science with religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.

    Where is the problem with the Roman Catholic Church simply modifying their doctrine so it is more scientifically enlightened?

  406. #406 Nanahuatzin
    September 18, 2008

    JosephU @404

    ┐do you realize what is your source of those statements?

    “The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation”

    This is not a mainstream catholic site. It is an extreme right site that holds:

    … That is because so many of her influential thinkers have abandoned the sound creation theology of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and have embraced instead the false principles of evolutionism.

    Instead the oficial position of the CC goes more like this:

    “According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5 – 4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.[10]”
    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2004)

  407. #407 Ichthyic
    September 18, 2008

    Are you serious? Are you on some kind of parallel universe?

    projecting again, Max?

    I thought it was suggested you try NOT dosing yourself with psychedelics for a day, and see how that worked out for you?

  408. #408 Nanahuatzin
    September 18, 2008

    an interesting note:

    Vatican official, professor dismayed by Christian groups that reject evolution

    http://thechurchofjesuschrist.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/vatican-official-professor-dismayed-by-christian-groups-that-reject-evolution/

    Of course.. now that the oficial position of the CC on evolution seems clear… the fundamentalist will cry “heressy”!!!

  409. #409 Nanahuatzin
    September 18, 2008

    sorry…

    wrong link, this is the correct one:

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-09-16-vatican-evolution_N.htm

    The other is to a blog from a pentescostalist… who does not like it…

  410. #410 Feynmaniac
    September 18, 2008

    Max,
    “And you are going to change their minds through “rational discourse”. You must be living in an altered state of consciousness.”

    Pretty much all of Europe four centuries ago was Christian. Many, if not most, would have thought that atheist should be executed. Today about 1/5 of the EU doesn’t believe in God. That may be a minority, but it’s a sizable one that would have seemed impossible four centuries ago.

    There are many die hards who won’t ever change their minds irregardless of the evidence. There are still people who believe the world is flat! However there are reasonable people who might change their minds after weighing the arguments carefully (many people here I believe fall in that category).

    You seem to think that the only options available are apathy or kill all religious people. No one has suggested the later except for you in a sloppy attempt to equate atheists with Hitler.

  411. #411 Nick Gotts
    September 18, 2008

    The people whose minds you are going to to try to change
    think that you are the satanic scum of the earth and that you are well on your way to the pit of hell for all eternity. They are no more interested in having their minds changed through rational discourse, hynoptic induction, guided imagery or any other mental aberration. They are saved and your represent an evil pestilence which God will banish to Gehenna and the sooner the better.
    – Max Verret

    Well Max, from the account you give, perhaps it’s us atheists who should be worried about being exterminated by the godly, not the other way round? After all, the vast majority of atheists view theists in general as fundamentally mistaken, but not as an “evil pestilence”. And as has been noted several times it is you, the theist, who keeps coming up here with sketches for extermination plans.

  412. #412 frog
    September 18, 2008

    Ferret: They are no more interested in having their minds changed through rational discourse, hynoptic induction, guided imagery or any other mental aberration.

    Wow, you consider rational discourse a kind of “mental aberration”. Really explains it all – we have a hell of a lot of work to do!

  413. #413 JimC
    September 18, 2008

    but let’s not forget that the Catholic Church is way, way, ahead of most other religions in regard to its respect for rationalism. Compare it to American fundamentalist Christianity, or to Islam.

    This statement is just so stupid as to be unbelievable. To say the most superstitous and ritualistic sect of Christianity has more respect for rationalism than the Protestants is silly. Protestants(some sects) have problems with evolution but by and large they are free from the absurd irrational and mundane beliefs of the RCC past the staples of the faith both share.

    Don’t see much holy water and magic wafers in the Protestant churches.

  414. #414 Sam
    September 18, 2008

    Oh, how delicious is the irony!

    On the one side, we have narrow-minded bigots who want to restrict areas of inquiry into narrowly-defined roles.

    And on the other side, we have the Catholic Church.

    What’s not to love with that!

  415. #415 Nick Gotts
    September 18, 2008

    Sam@414,

    Which “side” is it that’s announced that “proponents of an overly scientific conception of evolution and natural selection” will not be invited? Oh, that’s right, its the Catholic Church! Whereas at a real scientific conference, anyone who submits a paper of sufficient quality can attend and present, whatever conceptions they are proponents of.

  416. #416 Sam
    September 18, 2008

    Nick, you might have noted also that fundamentalists and literalists were not to be invited. This means that narrow-minded bigots of either stripe will not be invited. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

  417. #417 Nick Gotts
    September 18, 2008

    Sam,
    A genuine scientific conference does not exclude literalists or fundamentalists: selection is made on the basis of quality of submitted papers. Excluding anyone from a conference on science on the grounds of their beliefs is what is narrow-minded – and I see it is something you applaud. What a surprise.

  418. #418 negentropyeater
    September 18, 2008

    This is obviously not a genuine scientific conference, but a congress organised by two Catholic universties where scientists, philosophers and theologians will have a dialogue about Evolution.

    IMHO, a waste of time, but if that rocks their boat, who cares ?

  419. #419 Sam
    September 18, 2008

    Nick–
    As you say, “A genuine scientific conference does not exclude literalists or fundamentalists: selection is made on the basis of quality of submitted papers.” Generally speaking, those who are blinded by ideological presuppositions tend not to be the broadest or the most reliable of thinkers, and their papers tend not to be of the highest quality. Wouldn’t you agree? So rather than waste the time of narrow-minded idiots of any persuasion, they are pointing to the direction of the conference.

    Go back to the basic point. The instigators of the conference to which PZ linked are the ones who are willing to open and broaden avenues of inquiry, while PZ and his minions are the ones to restrict avenues of inquiry. To quote PZ, “What an out — they’re only going to allow arguments critically defined as scientific, oh, and theology. Those are two different things, you know.” In other words, we really should not try to broaden out science or theology to find areas where they might be able to inform each other, because, you know, we all know in advance that they can’t. Might as well not try.

    Broad-minded indeed, eh? As you say, what a surprise!

  420. #420 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    This is obviously not a genuine scientific conference, but a congress organised by two Catholic universties where scientists, philosophers and theologians will have a dialogue about Evolution.

    IMHO, a waste of time, but if that rocks their boat, who cares ?

    Also helps to pad their CV for tenure time.

  421. #421 Nick Gotts
    September 18, 2008

    So rather than waste the time of narrow-minded idiots of any persuasion, they are pointing to the direction of the conference. – Sam

    Bilge. What you do for a scientific conference is issue a call for papers. Anyone can send one in and have it reviewed. It’s actually not clear from the linked article whether this is a “conference” in the scientific sense at all – that would require that papers or abstracts can be submitted. If it is an invitation-only event, then that’s a “workshop” in current parlance. Of course if the Vatican want to organise an event where theistic interpretations of evolution are discussed in an atmosphere of cosy agreement, that’s up to them – but a scientific conference, it ain’t.

    Theology has absolutely nothing of any intellectual value to inform anything. If you dispute this, I suggest you give counterexamples.

  422. #422 negentropyeater
    September 18, 2008

    Sam,

    please, just give us ONE example of where and how theology might be able to inform Science, or broaden it. Please be specfic.

  423. #423 Jason Quintanilla
    September 18, 2008

    ….well isn’t this rant fairly rabid? Seriously. It’s this kind of rabid, anti-religious shit that gives scientists a bad name.

    Is it so bad that they want to have a conference on a hotbed topic(one which many catholics are quite ignorant about too, when it comes to the church’s official views)? So they’re inviting religious scientists. I’m catholic. I’m a biologist. Neither of these things conflicts with the other, and I find your disrespect quite inappropriate.

  424. #424 Nanahuatzin
    September 18, 2008

    JimC @ 413

    “To say the most superstitous and ritualistic sect of Christianity has more respect for rationalism than the Protestants is silly”

    Can you show a statement about evolution of a protestant church that comes closer to the statement of the CC?

    At least you wont see “speaking in thonges”, or a promise to teach you to prophetise, nor hand impositions, etc.

    I would say that most christian denomination haver more or less the same level of superstitions: catholic, ortodox, protestant, calvinist, anabaptist. I hardly see diference

    All of them believe in miracles.

    I would put mormons in another category…

    By the way. the ortodox church is more ritualistic.

  425. #425 Patricia
    September 18, 2008

    That ‘Gehenna’ phrasing Max uses had me stumped. So I looked it up. Quite interesting – The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem.
    No fundies I know think that’s where atheists are going after death.

  426. #426 Tulse
    September 18, 2008

    I’m catholic. I’m a biologist. Neither of these things conflicts with the other

    Do your samples regularly rise from the dead? Do you find you have fish multiplying in your lab?

    The acceptance of the possibility of miracles means that one is not actually committed to science.

    I find your disrespect quite inappropriate.

    Concern noted.

  427. #427 CJO
    September 18, 2008

    I’m catholic. I’m a biologist. Neither of these things conflicts with the other, and I find your disrespect quite inappropriate.

    Perhaps they don’t conflict –in your mind, or while you’re working as a biologist. But the point being made here is not that biology and the Catholic Church are locked in an intractable conflict, but that they do not and cannot inform each other in any meaningful sense. The disrespect comes out of the perception that the Church is pretending, dishonestly, that it has something to contribute to science in order to give it some unearned repectibility in the secular world.

    And believing in magic does actually conflict with science, although I am told that via the subtle art of mental gymnastics, some are able to hide their belief in fairies and magic and virgin births and whatnot in order to minimize the dissonance. Seems unnecessarily complicated to me, but I guess everyone should have a hobby.

  428. #428 Nick Gotts
    September 18, 2008

    I find your disrespect quite inappropriate – Jason Quintanilla.

    I find your pomposity quite risible.

  429. #429 negentropyeater
    September 18, 2008

    The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem.
    No fundies I know think that’s where atheists are going after death.

    Yeah, but Gehenna was also the place where they used to burn the garbage of the city of Jerusalem, and also throw corpses of criminals.

  430. #430 Sam
    September 18, 2008

    Such a low level of intellectual curiosity here! My goodness, you would think that this were some fundamentalist board, not one dedicated to “free thinking.”

    “Theology has absolutely nothing of any intellectual value to inform anything. If you dispute this, I suggest you give counterexamples.’

    “please, just give us ONE example of where and how theology might be able to inform Science, or broaden it. Please be specfic.”

    In other words, come up with the answer before you ask any questions. As I say, the lack of intellectual curiosity, of a tendency to ask bigger questions, is really quite startling here. It seems to point to a lack of trust in those of a scientific mindset, that scientists must restrict themselves to a very narrow area. That, to me, seems rather sad.

    The whole point of the conference to which PZ linked (or workshop, call it what you will) was that scholars in various disciplines should come together, not with answers and minds all shut and made up, but with questions, and an open mind and a spirit of inquiry. The responses here seem to suggest that this is an impossibility.

    I’m neither a scientist nor a theologian, so any thoughts that I have will necessarily be speculative. However, let’s try to think a bit of how theology and science might try to inform one another.

    How about this one. Would it be safe to say that science is dedicated to seeking the truth? Or perhaps that it is dedicated to finding true explanations for observable nature? Theology, along with other avenues of inquiry, is likewise in the business of finding the truth. I think that is is also safe to say that truth, by definition, must be indivisible. That which is true cannot be in self-conflict. Assuming that both avenues of inquiry search for the truth, what is the relationship between the objects of inquiry for each discipline? In what way can the objects of scientific inquiry help theologians to understand their objects of inquiry? Not being especially smart, I’m not sure how, but I would think that scientists could be of some assistance to theologians on this matter.

    Here’s another one. What is the purpose of science? Does the purpose of science stop short at providing a true definition of a natural process, or is it the job of science to apply the fruits of these labors to some good? If the second, how are those good ends determined? Science can’t answer this any more completely than theology can; but can they meet somewhere to identify those good ends?

    How about this one. Science presupposes, and depends on, a material world that “acts” (for lack of a better word) according to laws that are accessible to a rational mind. The mind seems to be made for the world. Could it be in the realm of science to explore this fundamental assumption? As Thomas Nagel, certainly no close friend of the Catholic Church, noted, “naturalistic physicalism does not explain the laws of physics.” If so, this is an area that theology can help to inform this scientific explanation.

    As I said, I’m neither a scientist nor a theologian, and no doubt I haven’t framed these options particularly well. But shoot–if I, just a simple fuckwit, can think of some of these possibilities, surely some much smarter scientist with a degree of imagination could do much better.

    Or are you advocating that scientists should just shut up and do science, leaving any broader questions for others?

  431. #431 negentropyeater
    September 18, 2008

    “naturalistic physicalism does not explain the laws of physics.” If so, this is an area that theology can help to inform this scientific explanation.

    I don’t see how theology helps science to explain the laws of Physics. It just assumes that “God did it”. But that’s no explanation, that’s exactly equivallent to “something unknown explains something else”.
    Works to convince young kids, maybe, and deluded people, but it certainly doesn’t help to inform or broaden the perspective of intelligent rational adults.

    Or are you advocating that scientists should just shut up and do science, leaving any broader questions for others?

    No, Science, together with Philosophy and the Humanities, can help to answer broader questions.
    Theology is simply pre-medieval litterature, just informs us about the old myths, traditions and fictons that people used to write about when they were completely ignorant and incapable of answering any broader questions.
    Also, some questions such as “where do the laws of Physics come from”, are borderline metaphysical, but Science is the only discipline that’ll be able to answer it. Not philosophy, nor litterature.

  432. #432 Lee Picton
    September 18, 2008

    Shorter Sam:

    Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah, blah! (MaJeff, someone’s gotta do it.)

  433. #433 Tulse
    September 18, 2008

    Theology, along with other avenues of inquiry, is likewise in the business of finding the truth.

    Nonsense — it is in the business of trying to resolve inherent contradictions in a fictional belief system. A theologian is no more in the business of “finding the truth” than a Klingon linguist, or a Hogwarts expert.

  434. #434 Shmuel
    September 18, 2008

    He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include”

    What an out — they’re only going to allow arguments critically defined as scientific, oh, and theology. Those are two different things, you know.

    So are and and or.

  435. #435 Shmuel
    September 18, 2008

    …you know.

  436. #436 CJO
    September 18, 2008

    Such a low level of intellectual curiosity here! My goodness, you would think that this were some fundamentalist board, not one dedicated to “free thinking.”

    Look, if there are no gods, then theology (as Tulse alludes to) is nothing more than a particularly obsessive and sad sort of fan-fic, devoted to a less-than-brilliant genre of literature. “Intellectual curiosity” seems to mean, to you, a wide-eyed and gullible appetite for whatever flavor of bullshit they’re handing out this week. We atheists have learned what it smells like, and we don’t need to try it, over and over again, every time they add a new color of sprinkles, just to find out, yep, it’s still shit. The truly intellectually curious will go in search of better-tasting and more nourishing fare.

  437. #437 Alex
    September 18, 2008

    what are these hate-filled rants accomplishing? the fact that ANYONE reduces themselves to petty arguments such as declaring that the Vatican will feed the scientists “shit” is ridiculous and only suceeds in alienting people from genuine diologue and deepens the different factions. we should all remember what are mothers said, “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”

  438. #438 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 18, 2008

    Your concern is noted.

  439. #439 Ichthyic
    September 18, 2008

    …and it is stupid.

  440. #440 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    Interesting point, what can theologians teach scientists? Well there isn’t much at all outside an individual level. Theology is just bad philosophy, weak thinking that inevitably leads to a supernatural evocation for an explanation.
    So really, what does science have to learn from religion? The best I can think of is how to make a successful meme, but to have scientific thought propagate in the way that religion does defeats the purpose. Rather it’s science that is destroying religion and all events like this show is that the vatican is trying to put up it’s hand and say “look, you can have both”. This will do nothing for science, it will do everything for modern Catholicism.

  441. #441 Sphere Coupler
    September 18, 2008

    There are millions of people who “claim to be religious”, and out of those millions a certain percentage feel an overpowering need to believe. For some humans this is almost a drive like hunger and sex. To deprive these people of what some would call a necessity would reek havoc on society. I suppose any church that tries to adapt to modern science is IMHO working towards a compromised future. And yes I am aware of the atrocities that have been committed by religions in the past, as some are continuing.

  442. #442 Rey Fox
    September 18, 2008

    “what are these hate-filled rants accomplishing?”

    Just tellin’ it like it is, bro.

  443. #443 SC
    September 18, 2008

    Here’s another one. What is the purpose of science? Does the purpose of science stop short at providing a true definition of a natural process, or is it the job of science to apply the fruits of these labors to some good? If the second, how are those good ends determined? Science can’t answer this any more completely than theology can; but can they meet somewhere to identify those good ends?

    The ends to which science and technology should be put can and should not be determined by any discipline or combination of disciplines (and I include theology here only for the sake of argument). In a democratic society, these decisions are ideally made by the public through the process of reasoned discussion and debate. Scientists in their professional role have a place in this discussion in that they can provide knowledge to be utilized in making informed decisions. They also have a place in this debate in their role as citizens. Theology has no place in this public discussion, and neither do theologians acting as theologians. There is no place for supernatural fantasies and superstitions here, and they are a noxious intrusion into the deliberative process. If the religious can translate their ideas into reasoned, secular arguments that can be debated openly like any others, then fine. If not, they can STFU.

  444. #444 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    SC #443, Amen brother, tell it like it should be.

  445. #445 SC
    September 18, 2008

    Thanks, Nerd of Redhead. FYI: (I may not be a lady, but) I’m all woman. :)

  446. #446 Nerd of Redhead
    September 18, 2008

    My sincere apologies SC, you are correct as your previous posts have made clear. My only excuse is hoisting a libation for PZ at his big party. To rephrase, amen sister.

  447. #447 SC
    September 18, 2008

    Well, thanks again! Good excuse!

  448. #448 Sastra
    September 18, 2008

    Sam #430 wrote:

    The whole point of the conference to which PZ linked (or workshop, call it what you will) was that scholars in various disciplines should come together, not with answers and minds all shut and made up, but with questions, and an open mind and a spirit of inquiry. The responses here seem to suggest that this is an impossibility.

    The reason I think this sort of collaborative effort won’t work is that you’re only going to get the sort of situation you describe if both the scientists and theologians decide they’re going to use science to find out whether or not God exists.

    That’s not going to happen. Contrary to what you say, theology is not “in the business of finding truth.” It is in the business of finding (or coming up with) truths about God. It assumes the conclusion. There is no good will agreement to search and find out.

    Whatever morals and values religion brings to the table are either good and reasonable (and thus stand on their own ethically), or are only good and reasonable given that they have been put in place and revealed by God (which means they can be anything at all, with no way to decide between competing ‘revelations.’)

    How about this one. Science presupposes, and depends on, a material world that “acts” (for lack of a better word) according to laws that are accessible to a rational mind. The mind seems to be made for the world. Could it be in the realm of science to explore this fundamental assumption?

    When science explored that assumption, it discovered a bottom-up world where minds evolved to fit their environment. Theology approaches the question from the wrong end, with an egocentric mind-first mindset. It is the puddle wondering who dug the hole to fit its shape so perfectly.

    If you are going to use science to find God, then you have to be prepared to accept that God may be an unnecessary hypothesis cluttering up the harmony of the universe, and should be discarded. You have to be willing to formulate the idea clearly, make it falsifiable, and subject it to the same rigorous analysis as other empirical claims.

    If, on the other hand, you KNOW God exists — or don’t know, but really want to keep religion for sentimental reasons anyway — then keep it away from science. And drop the pretense of being “open-minded.”

  449. #449 Nick Gotts
    September 19, 2008

    Theology, along with other avenues of inquiry, is likewise in the business of finding the truth. – Sam

    Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Good one Sam! The old jokes are the best ones, eh?

  450. #450 Arthur Cato
    September 21, 2008

    This…amuses me, actually, as it seems that in your pursuit of ‘reason’ you are wilfully viewing any possible action taken by religious people in the worst possible light. I agree that this isn’t really within the Church’s purview, but given what a mess other religious groups are making of it, you could at least act civil towards this one. No, I’m not Catholic. Actually, I’m not particularly fond of the current Pope, Curia, or Church as it is. I feel that it’s overly rulebound, byzantine, and Gormenghastian. But there’s a difference between being rational and letting fly blanket insults and incredibly demeaning language at people who are (even if it’s a bit…disjointedly) trying to make sesne of things. Virulent spew serves to alienate people and make you look like a prick, not ‘advance reason’ or whatever.

  451. #451 Misha
    September 22, 2008

    WHY IS IT SENSELESS TO BELIEVE IN GOD AND IN THEORY OF EVOLUTION AT THE SAME TIME?

    Could people who believe in evolution have a right idea about God?

    Let us see what is the character of a “God” who makes the world and man through evolution. First of all, that kind of “God” is not capable of creating something perfect at once. Angels do not comment on his work with a song of praise and with words: “and it was very good”, but instead, they say: “It is not good enough! It has to be improved! It looks vague! Just like some protein stain!”

    Then such a “God”, in order to improve his work, seeks help from blind chance. He counts on a gamble, just like in lottery. He has to allow further faults on creatures he has already created, in order to transform them into something better. In order to succeed in that endeavour, that “God” allows negative influences, removes the water canopy, and opens the door to the cosmic rays, in order that some “positive” mutation might appear. Many creatures and various malformations appear, to which the angels say: “Oh! This one is the best!” Then the “God” intentionally creates unfavorable conditions, which are lethal for the most of the original beings, so that only the positive specimens are selected. And thus, for the first time, death came upon this world – and it came from “God”, not the devil.

    Watching such a deed of creation, angels are covering their faces with hands, not because they cannot stand the revealed glory of “God”, but because they cannot watch so many organisms dying in terrible disasters, with the purpose that only the most resistant ones survive. Then the angels say: “This is better, but millions of years of experimentation are needed to get the best specimens!”

    And, at last, when the creation is finished, angels are singing a song of praise, but not to the “God”; instead, they are singing a song of praise to the holly chance which has helped the “God” in the process of creation. Then they sing praise to Death too, because without death, better specimens could not be selected.

    In the meantime, man was also created. But he does not know why would he glorify and praise “God”. He is just cursing Him because he himself has to suffer in the struggle for survival. But, there are pleasant things in life too. We believe that Adam was delighted with Eve’s beauty. And then Adam thanked deeply to the holy chance and holy probability, for giving him such a beautiful creature as a gift.

    These are the implications when one theist stands for the evolution theory. With that kind of understanding, not only God’s power, but His character of love are disputed as well. … (“Origin and Degradation – Genetical, psychological and linguistic arguments against the theory of evolution” by Milos Bogdanovic, milos@net.yu)

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