I've got irony poisoning!

The Vatican astronomer made some strong comments against creationism…but I find them bizarre.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a "destructive myth" had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.

Wait…did a priest of one weird cult full of bizarre ideas just claim that another weird cult was full of bizarre ideas? He's right, of course, but he seems to have a blind spot for his own superstitions.

This, unfortunately, is complete bullshit:

"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

His religion is a superstition, and I don't believe for a moment that he wants science to keep it close to reality — if that were true, he'd be chucking out all those myths about triune gods, ritual cannibalism, magical transformations of crackers into holy meat, virgin births, miracles, yadda yadda yadda.

The tripe that religion provides a conscience is just a cliche…and one that is completely false. We've seen just in this past week that the Catholic church would rather that 9 year old girls die in childbirth, and that Africans should eschew protection from sexually transmitted disease in order to better follow the advice of ancient celibates.

If he wants to talk credibly about morality and conscience, first thing he needs to do is dump the evil archaic religion.

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Uh-oh. Those Catholic creationists had better watch out: the Vatican thinks they're pagans. Believing that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday. Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in…
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Dear Dr Myers.

Thank you for posting this- it agrees with everything ID supporters keep saying. Darwinism IS a religeon.

Look, the Pope says so, so it must be.

"Darwinism" is a religion whose only adherents are creationists.

By Randomfactor (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Of course the Genesis myths are just reworked stories of nature gods. I believe that he knows that he is saying as much.

And it is true that Catholic philosophy owes more to Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas, than it does to ancient myths (of course the Greek philosophers were also pagans). There is a good deal of the "philosopher's god" in upper-level Catholic thought.

So I don't think that he's saying anything strange within the environs of the Vatican. That god really is supposed to be a kind of entity beyond observation who sort of pulls everything together without exactly becoming empirical. Too bad for him that Catholic philosophy is pretty much a thing of the past, except, I suppose, in a few Catholic enclaves.

It is a kind of junk view of god that went away (should have where it did not) as metaphysics became untenable. But I'd say that his only sin is against philosophy, not the worst intellectual "crime."

The practical problem is that ID does often rely on medieval philosophy, not just the Catholic Behe, but also in the antiquated metaphysics of Dembski. It's not without danger, then, but I doubt that it's a huge danger. I suspect that most keep it around just to make an excuse for god.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

These statements and Ratzinger's comment warning about the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion in Africa make me marvel at human capacity for cognitive dissidence.

By Christopher Lee (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

pfft, another morality-creationist. Of course just because you can do it, it doesn't mean it's a good idea. But seriously who ever operates on that level? Science needs religion about as much as science needs art... the notion that morality is a religious construct is holding society back.

Man scoffs at idea of unicorns in forest.

Says that the leprecauns frightened them all away.

Oh, but PZ - this show that you just don't understand. Christianity is different - I mean, it's got churches and tradition and so forth. Surely that means that demands for icky old things like facts and evidence don't apply to it?

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Well, You're right again and the overly simplistic argument goes like this:

1. The Christian god is above and not subject to natural law.
2. The root word for the applicable prefix comes from the Latin "supra" meaning over, or above.
3. When affixed to the base word and Anglicized becomes "supernatural."
4. The belief in the supernatural is superstition.
Q.E.D

By JHJEFFERY (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Pardon me, Elwood. Try clicking on Preview, the button just to the left of Post. From the Preview page you can see your comment as it will (mostly) appear after posting. You can also edit there by clicking on the box that contains your unformatted comment which appears just below your Preview. That lower box is this box in which we are typing now. Or just were.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

#5 Glen
There is a good deal of the "philosopher's god" in upper-level Catholic thought.

It is not just their idea of a 'God' however. It is all the offshoots that come about because of that idea. Here are just a few stuff the Catholics have weird ideas with:

Purgatory and Indulgences
Hell and Demonic possessions
The Virgin Mary and her countless avatars
Condoms
Masturbation

If you bunch them all together and taken at face value then PZ is spot on. It is just another superstition trying to gain credence by invoking science as its defender.

By Teddydeedodu (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.

The first part of that is better stated as, "Religion needs science to inform it when doctrine needs to be tweaked whenever science, and public awareness of science, causes the doctrine to appear weak or foolish to the general public."

The second part . . . has already been addressed in terms of ethics that predate the RCC by a long, long time and that are common currency among all peoples with little regard to their superstitions or lack thereof. We act ethically because it greatly increases the chances that we will be dealt with ethically by others.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

I know, I know. I'm usually quite careful when posting. Must be overtired.

Jaycubed: It's already been noted on the "Pope is a Quack" thread. Worth watching again though. I suggested calling her type of angry rant a "bogle" in her honour.

By Elwood Herring (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Actually, Kel, I think you can get away with writing that in even stronger terms, or use an even more absolute comparison. Science needs religion far less than science needs art. Art is an essential field for communicating and teaching all sciences and it plays a rather important role in geological (and probably biological) research.

the notion that morality is a religious construct is holding society back.

Well said.

The idea that scientists need religious instruction is laughable, especially from the Catholic Church. When was the last time a pope came out and said something enlightening that has advanced the moral foundations of society and fuelled progress? i.e. when was the last time the church did something for the betterment of man? From all accounts the church is playing catch-up and given the chance it would throw us back into the dark ages.

@ #8: Thank you, my friend (Good fictional god, I sound like John McCain) for that excellent... metaphor? Simile? Analogy? Yes, I think that's the one. Analogy. A wonderful thing to say whenever one of my more religious friends mocks someone else's religion.

By ProudCynic (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

The Vatican Observatory is run by Jesuits. Don't confuse them with the rest of the Catholic church. They've always had a bit of a rocky relationship - getting excommunicated by the Pope at various times for instance.

Actually, Kel, I think you can get away with writing that in even stronger terms, or use an even more absolute comparison. Science needs religion far less than science needs art. Art is an essential field for communicating and teaching all sciences and it plays a rather important role in geological (and probably biological) research.

Point received. I was just trying to think of something as irrelevant to science as possible (but not irrelevant on it's own terms) but it seems I've underestimated the involvement in the process.

Kel: I wish I could find the origin of the following quote. It may have been Robert Heinlein but I'm not sure. If anyone knows who said this, please let me know on this thread. I may not have it word-for-word, but here is how I remember it:

"No situation in all of history has ever been improved by the sticking into it of an ecclesiastical nose."

By Elwood Herring (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Hah, a man throws a stone, convinced that he lives in house that is sufficiently vague in its glass-like properties to be stoneproof. And the people he threw the stone at voluntarily pay a large portion of his mortgage.

Hah, a man throws a stone, convinced that he lives in house that is sufficiently vague in its glass-like properties to be stoneproof. And the people he threw the stone at voluntarily pay a large portion of his mortgage.

"And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

Holy crap! Let's rip the arms off of people who state the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Damn scientists and their evil condoms!

I don't suppose it crossed "Brother" Consolmagno's mind that he just nuked the entire point of the christian superstition. Without the creationism mythology, there is no "original sin" and without that bugaboo there is no need to be "saved" from said bugaboo. Making JC just another nice guy tying to convince his fellow humans to adhere to the Golden Rule.

Christoper Lee (#6) really nailed it with:

human capacity for cognitive dissidence

Point received. I was just trying to think of something as irrelevant to science as possible (but not irrelevant on it's own terms) but it seems I've underestimated the involvement in the process.

But I love the kernel of the statement.

Science needs religion like...like what?

It's great because I'm having a hard thinking up anything that science needs less than it needs religion.

Art? Nope. It needs religion less.
History? Nope. It needs religion less.
Philosophy? Nope. It needs religion less.
Economics? Nope. It needs religion less.

Literature? Maybe.

Wait - there's a Vatican observatory in Arizona run by Jesuits? What the hell kind of freak show are they running out there? It sounds like the lead-in to a raunchy joke.

I believe the only reason the Catholic Crutch are keen on keeping abreast of science is so they can have their crack team of apologists working on ways to interpret scripture to keep up - mostly in the hope that this might do something to dissuade people from noticing its growing irrelevance.

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Without the creationism mythology, there is no "original sin" and without that bugaboo there is no need to be "saved" from said bugaboo.

Good call, foxfire. Without the talking snake and the magic apple all that's left is the forlorn holiday tree laying in the gutter, it's non reflective tinsel softly turning in the icy wind, beckoning, calling, softly crying.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

But I love the kernel of the statement. Science needs religion like...like what?

It was something I read Lawrence Krauss say.I once put it to theologians at a meeting at the Vatican: theologians have to listen to scientists, because if they want to try to create a consistent theology (and while I have opinions about whether this is possible, but my opinions about this are neither particularly important nor informed) they at least need to know how the world works. But scientists don't have to listen to theologians, because it has no effect whatsoever on the scientific process. The only downside I can see to this is by neglecting religion in the process, it runs the risk of alienating a powerful organisation and as such could fuel an anti-science assault on the world. We don't need religion at all, but we need religion to be onside because of the threat it poses if it's against us.

Man, I'm torn here.

Brother Guy is a really nice guy and an excellent astronomer. Heck, he was a Science Guest of Honor at our local SF convention (PZ was as well a few years later). And the thing is, a lot of what he's saying is partially against Catholic ideology.

But he's still out in Catholic-land. Having met him, I'm really not sure why that is.

Science needs religion like a submarine needs a screen door.

Science needs religion like a snake needs legs.

Science needs religion like a boar needs tits.

. . . isn't there one about a fish needing a bicycle?

OT, and probably too revealing of my home life, the Celtics are leading the Heat in OT. *I used to cheer for Russel and Cousy and the Jones Boys. Now I've dated myself. But there is a leprechaun in the Garden, you know. It's the last of its kind though.*

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

[john kwok]

Brother Guy and I went to the same school

[/john kwok]

well, it was elementary school, and a couple of years apart, and we didn't know each other at all, but still...

does this give me any cred to talk about religion? (didn't think so)

Art? Nope. It needs religion less.

Actually, religion as performance art has some legs.

In fact, if you remove the silly superstition and just have bunches of gaudily dressed millionaires making up silly rules for members of their club, who are guilt-ridden if they don't follow them, it could be a fine sport. There wouldn't be anything to complain about, if it was all just consenting adults (you can only be an altar boy if you're over the age of consent, though...) I can see different "sects" having float-building contests and perhaps freestyle rapping contests - it'd be kinda cool, really.

Oops, did I just driveby the unitarians?

The only downside I can see to this is by neglecting religion in the process, it runs the risk of alienating a powerful organisation and as such could fuel an anti-science assault on the world. We don't need religion at all, but we need religion to be onside because of the threat it poses if it's against us.

That's a good point.

Well I think this fellow has a point. You can't go about trying to figure out morality using sciency stuff like reason and logic. Thats just silly. What you really need are very old books read by old men in funny hats.

Can one be cognitively dissident and conscious at the same time?

Yes, if the evidence of the senses are counted as misleading in the extreme and the products of reason are counted as even worse.

This approach sounds familiar. I first heard it in an outwardly lovely little church in Florida. There, in an atmosphere of dedicated brother and sisterhood (really!), I was told that my own thoughts, the workings of my very brain was not under my control. I was told that my mind was a playground for demons and ungodly powers. I felt like Josh (on second thought, an anti-Josh) from the earlier Testimonial post; everything I assumed was suddenly challenged by a group that seemed at ease with insight, with enlightenment, with power. Well, I was young, OK? I was hooked for a while but I got better. Never looked back. Well, I did once. But I swear I'm only a little salty.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

"Brother Consolmagno [...] said a 'destructive myth' had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies."

I agree but I'd take that statement further. It's not a myth but a fact. Science will eventually lead to the destruction of religion. The gaps are getting smaller...

I can't wait, but I doubt very much I'll see it in my lifetime and my grandchildren probably won't either. :-(

By Random Mutant (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

...who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona

I still can't get past this sentence.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.

What? Wait a minute. What?

[shaking head]

Okay. Wait a minute. If his god isn't responsible for natural events, then what the @#$&%! is he responsible for?

Our souls, I guess: a.k.a., our feelings and beliefs and morals and actions and so on. But isn't that stuff generated by our brains? And aren't our brains part of the natural world?

[shaking head, whacking on side]

Nope. Still not making any sense.

While I have very little sympathy with Christianity in any of its forms, at least the point being made is somewhat similar to one I have used against religious people sympathetic to creationism - when I don't think there's any use in attacking the religious beliefs but at least think that I can convince them to reject creationism (which is, to be honest, a more urgent matter):

- Creationists' main claim is that invoking God is necessary to explain natural phenomena.

- A rather curious thing about this is: If God wanted his existence to be provable or shown, then why doesn't he just send forth angelic hordes with trumpets and blazing chariots to combat the wicked and evil, or smite down his enemies with lightning bolts, or write his name with the constellations in the night sky (or something similar)?

- Whereas the best explanation for this is, of course, that there is really no one there, the second best (but still infinitely inferior) is: Of course not; he doesn't want his presence to be verified. And this is actually a crucial point in Christian doctrine.

- From the point of view of traditional Christian theology the whole central notion is "faith"; that is, you should rely on faith (faith, and nothing else, is what will absolve you of your sins and grant you the kingdom of heaven, etc. etc.) and not think that you will find evidence or proof for his existence - this would exactly undermine the whole point of the faith part.

- Thus, the God of the gaps invoked by creationists ultimately involves a form of idol worshipping, a sort of Golden calf idolatry - since the God invoked by creationists cannot possibly be the God of faith of the New Testament - which, again from the point of view of Christianity itself, amounts to no less than blasphemy and a violation the very first commandment.

- In other words: Creationism is actually incompatible with Christianity.

While I don't personally buy the premises here, of course, I've found that this argument is, in fact, surprisingly effective as a quick and easy way to undermine creationist sympathies.

While I agree that this fellow's reasoning is wrong, I don't think you're taking the right tack in vilifying him so eagerly. He is essentially agreeing with our position; it's just that his reasons are different. If we attack people like this, pretty soon they will stop saying intelligent things for fear of getting shit on from both sides.
I say we support him and people like him, and slowly phase him out with other people who are slightly less into woo, and repeat this over and over.
Obviously impractical in the short term, but I'm just saying: if someone's agreeing with you on a very basic level, let his justifications slide for a little while. Keep the endgame in mind.

By Jim Bob Cooter (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

"Darwinism" is a religion whose only adherents are creationists.

Yeah, a religion where dogs give birth to cats, where the Cambrian explosion lasted for like five minutres or something, and where "Lucy" is the only fossil in existence. Lol. Quite the little cult religion they made out of it.

By tweetbirdie386sx (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

If you google recent Vatican Evolution Conference, you will find an interesting new twist that excludes Creationism and ID!

I say we support him and people like him, and slowly phase him out with other people who are slightly less into woo, and repeat this over and over

Interesting approach, Jim Bob.

Just where do we find these "other people" and will we know them when we see them?

I ask in good faith while asking you to consider the immense amount of cultural inertia that propels the Catholics and their lesser and greater self flagellant brethren. It represents perhaps the largest repository of social influence on the planet.

Instead of slowly infiltrating and subverting, inflicting yet another kind of social cancer on our fellows, I recommend ridicule and good natured tolerance. With, when needed, an injection of acidic reality. I've observed that approach to effective. It gets the faithful riled up, it makes some of them think, a lesser subset will actually pursue facts and every now and again a few leave their churches and prayer meetings and join the real world.

Everyone else gets a hearty chuckle and the world goes on in a slightly more jaunty gait.

Ridicule and its den mates satire, wry wit and burlesque are our three chief weapons. And science! Our four . . . our five chief weapons are . . .

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

I believe the only reason the Catholic Crutch are keen on keeping abreast of science is so they can have their crack team of apologists working on ways to interpret scripture to keep up - mostly in the hope that this might do something to dissuade people from noticing its growing irrelevance.

So afraid of that irrelevance that they're actually making sure that if and when extraterrestrial life is found that they can be roped into that mythology as well...

His religion is a superstition, and I don't believe for a moment that he wants science to keep it close to reality — if that were true, he'd be chucking out all those myths about triune gods, ritual cannibalism, magical transformations of crackers into holy meat, virgin births, miracles, yadda yadda yadda.

If he wants to talk credibly about morality and conscience, first thing he needs to do is dump the evil archaic religion.

as an ex-protestant, you bring hatred gene against Catholic. Probably you read a lot of Jack Chick's comics.

The evil is still with you, you can't see the Truth.

Albert Einstein even said "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Wait: the Vatican has an observatory and a meteorite collection?

Scene 1

Chapel, the Vatican Observatory, Ajo, Arizona

enter Brother Consolmagno, hereafter called Connie, humming. He wears a t-shirt designed to look like a Jesuit surplice, and a baseball cap inscribed "Hard Rock Rome". He carries a putter.

Stops, suddenly, and looks closely at a glass-front cabinet, which we now notice is full of various stones. One door stands slightly ajar; there is a prominent space where a stone seems to have been removed. Peers more closely; makes an aimless waving gesture with the putter, pauses; calls

Connie: Anselmo!

No answer.

Connie, loudly: Anselmo!

Enter Brother Anselmo, stage right, carrying a large wine glass (half full, a muscular red by the look of it) and a human skull. He wears a beret inscribed with the crest of the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales.

Anselmo: Yes, yes, you little bitch--what is it now?

Connie, exasperated with Anselmo's attitude: Who's been in the collection?

Anselmo, simpering: Haven't the faintest, dear. I'd ask Brother Ben but he's popped up the road to Tucson.

Connie: Don't patronize me. (without heat) He's up at Kitt Peak fraternizing with the Benedictines, isn't he.

Anselmo: ahh, who can keep track. We're all so demoralized since the Greeks found that dwarf planet.

Connie: Well, we're not going to find anything if we don't stand to our shifts.

Anselmo: Bopp was a Catholic, you know. It should count. (takes a big, appreciative hit on the wine).

Connie: Who's been in the collection? And where's the big beryllium?

A sudden loud grinding sound from above...

SiMon?

Will it go or is it Poe?
Only de Shadow know.

Einstein quote = Large clue.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

FWIW, Brother Consolmagno is correct from a theological standpoint, and this theological viewpoint is hardly new. IIRC, this is something that St. Augustine discussed.

If a person is serious in his pursuit of truth, and theologians allegedly are (and I think it's fair to say at one point there was no need to say "alleged"), then it's important to recognize that empirical processes, as embodied by science, cannot be rejected in a wholesale manner simply because they differ from one's preconceptions. A person who had actual faith would understand that.

That line of thought leads me to the conclusion that many of the people who purport to be leaders in faith are no more religious in their hearts than Paul Dano's preacher character in There Will Be Blood. They view theological struggles along the lines of a game of King of the Hill, and care not a whit about the logical consistency or philosophical value of their arguments.

Christians have poor morals, that's part of the problem. Christians are faced with the dilemma of choosing between their barbaric religion or what is good for society. Prodded by their christian leaders they usually make the wrong choice.

Albert Einstein even said "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Einstein also said that what he considered religious is to be awe-inspired about the universe. He also said that morality needs no religious base, and called religious superstitution "childish". If you are going to quote someone simon, make sure you understand the context of the quote.

#54
Christians have poor morals, that's part of the problem.

what is moral ? free-sex, homosexual and abortion are morals ?

Please tell me your moral standard,

1. free sex allowed
2. homo sex and lesbian allowed
3. abortion allowed
3. euthansia allowed
4. suicide allowed
5. .....
6. ...

are these your moral guidance ?

Simon-
Go brush your teeth! I can smell the stupid on your breath again.

By WTFinterrobang (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

For the record, siMon, here's Einstein:

The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this... For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

Cheers,
qc

I'm so sorry about this, everyone, he really is a nice boy.

SiMon! Stop bothering all these good people and finish your homework!

Again, my apologies.

By siMon's mother (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Posted by: siMon | March 18, 2009 11:49 PM

#54
Christians have poor morals, that's part of the problem.

what is moral ? free-sex, homosexual and abortion are morals ?

Please tell me your moral standard,

1. free sex allowed

Yes.

2. homo sex and lesbian allowed

Yes.

3. abortion allowed

Yes.

3. euthansia allowed

Sometimes.

4. suicide allowed

Well it's not the kind of thing you can prosecute after the fact.

3. abortion allowed

3. euthansia allowed

Heh, I guess it would be tough for a Christian, or any other death-cultist, to choose which is higher on the list of important shit to masturbateobsess over.

;)

as opposed to:

1)painful death by ectopic pregnancy

2)painful death in childbirth, because twins don't fit into a 9-year-old

3)Having to marry your rapist

4)Dying from HIV, because condoms are immoral

5) ....

6) ...

cognitive dissidence dissonance.

sorry, that really needed to be fixed.

NOW it's accurate.

Simon, as a former ardent, active, and very involved Catholic, IMO, PZ pegged it in the quote you commented on. Pull another poor, un-evidenced, ill-informed hypothesis out of your ass and try again.

Aren't the Vatican Astronomers already on the outs with Ratz? I thought they got moved out of their Vatican digs, had their budget cut and don't get invited to the cool parties anymore.

"I'm not an atheist !!!" Albert Einstein-Time Magazine

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. - Albert Einstein.

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

siMon and simOn:

Who said Einstein was an atheist?

By castletonsnob (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Well it's not the kind of thing you can prosecute after the fact.

If successful, anyway.

which I guess makes it one of the few crimes one can get away with even if caught, provided one does it correctly.

"I'm not an atheist !!!" Albert Einstein-Time Magazine

you're so clueless it hurts.

1)He was a Jew
2)He was a deist at best, afraid to be called a commie at worst

"I'm not an atheist !!!" Albert Einstein-Time Magazine

No-one is saying that he was (at least not by the standards of the word at the time,) we're jsut pointing out to you that Einstein used the words god and religion in an almost alien way to how theists use the word. Einstein's god was Spinoza's, Einstein's religion was the universe itself. You're interpreting Einstein to further your own agenda, misrepresenting what he is saying and appealing to the authority of his intellect. And if you are going to quote someone, the least you can do is make sure you don't misrepresent what the quote is about. Though asking a theist to be honest seems a stretch too far... they can be anti-pretty much everything but when it comes to a behaviour that's on the 10 commandments then it's okay to break it for the sake of feeling superior!

Simon, why is it always about our genitals and gestation and generation and all such slippery and slimy sorts of things? I get the impression that you are just a bit uncertain about it all, seeing that it is so fundamental to existence and yet ignites your every guilt receptor at once.

If the Invisible Supernatural Spook didn't want us to fiddle and diddle it wouldn't have arranged for doing so to be so nice, so convenient and so much fun. I mean, a spook ain't really a spook if it can't separate procreation and recreation. Like it did with free will and faith? Works and faith? Action and prayer? Ahhhg. Skip it.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Simon should really be working on getting immunity at the Survivor thread, if Simon wants to keep trolling.

Einstein quotes, FWIW.

By John Morales (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

eheh #56

You know, the funny thing about all the common high note culture war things -- no one would care if religious people just didn't participate in them. Religion is a choice. You can live by some strict metaphysical rulebook if you want. You can't force other people to follow your rules.
That's the problem, its not enough for Christians to set an example by never having pre-marital sex, by never um, "choosing" to be gay (lol), never choosing to get an abortion, never committing suicide, never letting their terminally ill and elderly choose to die, or whatever. No, it had to be made illegal, as if that would make it go away. And like christians don't fuck, get abortions, are gay, get divorced, and kill themselves as much as everyone else anyway

PZ wrote:

Wait…did a priest of one weird cult full of bizarre ideas just claim that another weird cult was full of bizarre ideas? He's right, of course, but he seems to have a blind spot for his own superstitions.

No, they're actually often members of the same cult. There are creationist Catholics. The finer points of religious definitions are quite a puzzle. For example, would you say that this is a fairly accurate definition of a pantheist:

Believes that God does not “exist” so much as he is “existence.”

If you said yes, you might be wrong. See the comments in this blog post:

http://deepsoftime.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/are-a-self-existing-god-and…

The guy who wrote the post said "God does not 'exist' so much as he is 'existence.'" So I asked him if he was a pantheist. He said:

No. I was trying to convey the idea that God’s existence is not a property of His, but is rather identical with his essence, as is every other “property” he has. God is Pure Act, with no potency, in the Scholastic terminology. Are you familiar with the distinction between a necessary and a contingent being? God is the former; everything else is the latter.

Does that sound a bit like Orwellian newspeak to anyone else?

Simon, 4 questions:

Why the changing, random capitalizations in your name?

English is not your first language. (Not making fun or anything, it wasn't mine either.) Where are you from?

Why are you so obsessed with sex?

What are you hoping to accomplish with your participation here?

#70

Einstein's god was Spinoza's, Einstein's religion was the universe itself.

"I don't think I can call myself a pantheist !!!. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds !!!" Albert Einstein - Time Magazine

Of course, the creationists say similar things about Catholics.

Catholics, of course, adhere to idea that "Truth cannot contradict truth"... that nature is supposedly the "Word of God" in addition to the Bible... and that anytime an apparent contradictions is found between scripture and nature, it is a faulty interpretation of EITHER source.

So for the Catholics, they err on the side of nature when it comes to Genesis (Although many seem to have a secret fetish for ID).

To an inerrant literalist.. this is tantamount to idolatry. Nature cannot 'correct' any truth in scripture. Hence, the creationist would say the Catholic worships nature over God.

Its hard to tell who is more primed for de-conversion. On one hand, any creationist who is intellectually honest enough to do an unbiased appraisal of the philosophy of science, vs literalist pre-suppositionalism as explanations for reality will have no choice but to kill his own god-belief at the hands of material evidence... but the Catholic already has no problem changing his view of scripture based on material evidence... and also compartmentalized to such a degree that he can nearly explain the material word without the need for scripture at all.

I would appear to me that the worship of nature, or aspects of nature, the sun, the earth etc has a fundamental grounding in reality (The sun actually does exist, and is the giver of life) tjan the more 'sophisticated' modern religions.

#76: #72.

By John Morales (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Does that sound a bit like Orwellian newspeak to anyone else?

It sounds like postmodernism, to be honest. Here's an example to compare:

We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously.

-Felix Guattari

But it isn't surprising. Both are failing manifestly to argue their points clearly, and instead take cover in a thicket of jargon. The worst part is when you ask for clarification, and are promptly called small minded for not putting up with their semantic hairsplitting.

"…a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests…. The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge." - Albert Einstein"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." - Albert Einstein"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein"Although I cannot believe that the individual survives the death of his body, feeble souls harbor such thought through fear or ridiculous egotism." - Albert Einstein"I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet." - Albert Einstein"I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature." - Albert Einstein"I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it." - Albert Einstein"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." - Albert Einstein"The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer become his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task…" - Albert Einstein"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery— even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man." - Albert Einstein"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism" - Albert EinsteinDone quoting Einstein yet?

Would it be counted a wonder if Simon actually spoke for himself?

Would it be constructive if he posited an honest question or an original thought?

I only ask because I do care about my neighbors, from the lurid bottom of my abysmally corrupt and dogless (alas, I'm a true brother of the Border Collie) heart.

Take a moment, Simon. Look deep into yourself. Once you get past the fear and loathing and rotating knives and swim the river of doubt and haul yourself ashore on the grim shores of self reliance you might, might I caution, have the germ of something new. Something that might be concerned with the best of humanity instead of its worst, perhaps? Something that might engage constructive conversation, eschewing inane incantations of ineptitude that are the exception and instead highlighting reasonable responses to intelligent inquiry which is more the norm?

Can you do something like this? I'd like to think so. But if you can't then just skip it. You'll never feel a thing.

(I'm likely flirting with troll feeding, I know. Confident apologies. But there is always some small probability that something very unlikely will actually happen. Whether anyone is paying attention is not important yet I suspect there could be some historical value in a written record. Hope lies hard against the heart.)

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

With christians it is always about controlling someone else. Simon everything in your list is about forcing yourself on others. That probably has a connection with christians raping [children even], torturing and, murdering. It is a fact that religious societies are more violent.

Yes simon, I would accept all in your list as long as the actions are consensual and not done under duress, that would be much better than the violent christian dominated society that the United States has.

Simon, I don't mind if you shit yourself but, don't wipe it off on me.

One more Einstein quote just to ramm the point home."You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religiosity of the naive man. For the latter, God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands, so to speak, in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation… There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection… It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages." - Albert Einstein

'Tis slightly OT for this thread, but there's a new poll on the page of the radio station that recently interviewed PZ about embryonic stem cells. It's titled "Is there a God?"
http://nachonblog.com/2009/03/this-weeks-show-is-there-a-god-god-invite…

(I would've posted it in the KPFT interview thread, but it's now 7 days dead. A generic poll-submission thread/form/box/thingy would be nice.)

By «bønez_brigade» (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

What I think Simple Simon fails to understand* is that, even if Einstein had been a fervent Christian (of any denomination) it makes no difference to anything. He wouldn't have had any evidence to support the existence of God, miracles, a young Earth or any of the other nonsense religious believers blather on about.

*Well, to be completely accurate, amongst the many, many things Simple Simon fails to understand.

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Isn't Consolmagno latin for "Great Dildo", from consolari (dildo) and magnum (great) ?

By ramiro quai (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Is that not the comments of a desparate man clinging to whatever straw he can find. As Sam Harris said, it is small praise indeed if the best we can say about scripture is that can ignore certain passages in the Bible, or not take them literally.

By Rasmus Holm (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

So science needs religion to know that just because you can molest children that you should molest children? Got it.

OK, I'll swim against the flow. Let's take a lesson from Jesus (a good guy, who said that we should be nice to each other and never claimed to be god, and certainly wasn't an unsympathetic shitbag like many modern religious leaders). He said that heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. You sneer aggressively at any little bit of progress and always paint everything in the worst possible light.

Of course this guy isn't going to be saying "ohnoez I wuz rong al the tiem, therez no godz!". If he thought that (and could bear losing his job), he would quietly leave the church.

Rather than mocking this guy for not meeting your standards, wouldn't it be better to rejoice that the Vatican is accepting of modern science and its general interpretation of the world? It is progress on the road to bringing it fully into the modern world and then - I hope - seeing it wither and fade.

Sneering about the Brazilian rape/excommunication horror story is rather like a Christian saying "all atheists are murderers" just because he's heard of one murderer who was an atheist, isn't? I doubt if many Catholics are happy about the Brazilian scandal.

We have to live together on this world. That's important. That means a less fighting and more tolerance, more appreciation of good points rather than just finding the bad in everything.

Perhaps it's inevitable though; atheism is defined by a negative (the lack of belief in supernatural entities), so perhaps it's inevitable that it spawns this negative approach in its most aggressive self-identifiers.

I say it's a good thing whenever senior religious folks explicitly acknowledge modern science. It's progress.

If you can't see the difference between a superstition and a religion, you need a new dictionary. That's just puerile name-calling.

Sam C, the difference between a superstition and a religion is that the latter is codified - and I don't need a new dictionary.

By John Morales (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

Sam C, a religion is a complex of superstitions, made acceptable by age and popularity - nothing more.

And the idea that atheism, being a 'negative' (ie a lack of belief), should lead to more negative attitudes is simply horseshit - nothing more.

I am negative about nonsense, especially when that nonsense has the power to cause harm. Why is that a problem?

Rather than mocking this guy for not meeting your standards, wouldn't it be better to rejoice that the Vatican is accepting of modern science and its general interpretation of the world?

If they were actually doing that, great. But they are only partly doing that by ignoring all science on morality.

The real question here is.....

What does the Vatican need a meteorite collection for??

If you can't see the difference between a superstition and a religion, you need a new dictionary.

It's not a matter of dictionary definitions. It's a matter of classification. It's like this:
- All chickens are birds
- Not all birds are chickens
Got it?
- All religions are superstitions
- Not all superstitions are religions

Although lots and lots of superstitions (being afraid of 13) are tied to bits of myths, others aren't. Unless one of the apostles had an accident walking under a ladder that I didn't hear about (maybe saul was hit on the head by a paint can?)

atheism is defined by a negative (the lack of belief in supernatural entities)

It's a useful term because there are so many people who believe in such a wide variety of weird supernatural beings; personally I prefer "rationalist" or just "sane".

If you want to try really negative, talk to us nihilists. We think the atheists are jollying themselves along with their silly notion that they can "choose" to have morals and whatnot. Bah, humbug, etc.

Sam C @ 91,

Let's take a lesson from Jesus (a good guy, who said that we should be nice to each other and never claimed to be god, and certainly wasn't an unsympathetic shitbag like many modern religious leaders)

And you know all this how??

If you want to try really negative, talk to us nihilists. We think the atheists are jollying themselves along with their silly notion that they can "choose" to have morals and whatnot. Bah, humbug, etc.

And I guess that my study of science has led me to the notion that morals are programmed into our genetic code, so we have a moral system whether one wants to acknowledge it or not. The drives are there, whether we can "choose" is irrelevant.

A Vatican observatory in Arizona? Are they trying to obtain images of the Sky Fairy?

superstition |ˌsoōpərˈsti sh ən|
noun

excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings : he dismissed the ghost stories as mere superstition.
• a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief : she touched her locket for luck, a superstition she had had since childhood.

religion |riˈlijən|
noun

the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods : ideas about the relationship between science and religion.
• details of belief as taught or discussed : when the school first opened they taught only religion, Italian, and mathematics.
• a particular system of faith and worship : the world's great religions.
• a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance : consumerism is the new religion.

=========================================

If you can't see the difference between a superstition and a religion, you need a new dictionary. That's just puerile name-calling.

If you can't see the glaringly obvious similarities between those two, you need a new brain, dimwit.

There are enough non-NOMA creationist idiots around. Couldn't you restrict yourself to bashing those?
If it was possible for reason to defeat faith, we would have won 200 years ago. I think religion is here to stay, and all we can do is balancing it with reason.
Please don't punish those who try doing that from the other side. So far we have common enemies...

Tilia, your opinion is noted - though the socio-cultural and technological landscape is much changed from earlier periods in history.

Religion may be here to stay, but perhaps it can cease to be the norm and exert significant influence.

Now that you've expressed your concern, have you any substantive criticism of either PZ's post or others' comments?

By John Morales (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

#98
And I guess that my study of science has led me to the notion that morals are programmed into our genetic code, so we have a moral system whether one wants to acknowledge it or not. The drives are there, whether we can "choose" is irrelevant.

that's your freewill to choose good or bad. there must be a standard to justify your choice otherwise killing someone is good.

Simple Simon the Gay Lieman, you have free will whether to post your idiocy or not. Use it wisely, and shut up. Your god doesn't exist, and your bible is fiction. Get with the program.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Rather than mocking this guy for not meeting your standards, wouldn't it be better to rejoice that the Vatican is accepting of modern science and its general interpretation of the world?

Rejoicing isn't really something I do so much, and when this guy makes statements like:

And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.

then I, as a scientist, am going to take him to task for it. I don't care if he's on "our side" or not. I would have been just as annoyed at Steve Gould (someone unquestionably on "our side") if he had said that, and I would hope people would call me on it if I said something so foolish.

The statement presumes that every scientist involved in doing things that "he" views as "bad" are/were non-religious. It wasn't clear what things he was referring to that were "not good to do," but I'll go out on a limb and presume that he'd quite likely put napalm, thermonuclear warheads, white phosphorous, and Africanized honey bees on the list. Good luck finding demonstrable support for the idea that every scientist involved in the development of just those four examples was a non-theist. If not, then where was their religiously-inspired moral compass during those projects?

that's your freewill to choose good or bad. there must be a standard to justify your choice otherwise killing someone is good.

Simple standard: I don't want to be killed, so I don't kill.
Or differnetly: We are all just human and want to live happily.

there must be a standard to justify your choice otherwise killing someone is good.

Oh FFS, Simon. Have you slept through the last decade? If I just go out on the street and kill the wrong person, then yes, you will judge me and punish me. If, however, I kill the right person, then you give me medals.

Killing is seen as good or bad depending on who it is and the circumstances under which it happened.

Simon #104

that's your freewill to choose good or bad. there must be a standard to justify your choice otherwise killing someone is good.

Standards are formed by societies of individuals acting under free will. Most people innately derive satisfaction from making positive contributions to the wellbeing of others, and that influences the standards. Therefore, killing is going to be seen as bad.

John Morales #103,

yeah, you could tell me the difference between statements like "all catholic priests molests little boys" and "all atheists think like Stalin".

Or you could just tell me, if you believe that everybody who has a slightly different opinion than you is a concern troll.

Live with it: I think it's annoying if intelligent people ignore possible allies against creationism just because they are catholic.

Tilia: "If it was possible for reason to defeat faith, we would have won 200 years ago. I think religion is here to stay, and all we can do is balancing it with reason."

We have only relatively recently started to see a reduction in religious belief (in developed countries). Although I agree with you that religion will never go away entirely (FFS, there are still people who genuinely believe that the Earth is flat!), I see no reason why it couldn't tend towards zero.

Remember that most people who claim to be religious are so because they were raised to believe that stories they would otherwise regard as fiction, were fact. That their beliefs were never challenged meant that they had no reason to doubt them. In this age of instant global communication, however, their beliefs are easily shown as no more valid than the countless other irrational beliefs people have (and used to have).

"yeah, you could tell me the difference between statements like "all catholic priests molests little boys" and "all atheists think like Stalin"."

I don't think anyone believes that "all catholic priests molests little boys". There are many people (including some Catholics, no doubt) that justifiably believe that the Catholic Church's protection of child abusing priests doesn't do anything to discourage the abuse, which combined with the demand for celibacy, means that such abuse may be endemic in the Church.

The argument is not that all priests are child abuses, but that the RCC is an environment which is conducive to child abuse.

@ 76
Um... SImoN? sImOn? Sigh-man? I'm pretty sure Einstein never said anything that ended with 3 exclamation points.

Can we please stop with the Einstein quote battle now? His personal belief has absolutely no bearing on the existence or non of gods singular or plural. It's an argument from authority either way, right?

I think it's annoying if intelligent people ignore possible allies against creationism just because they are catholic.

Anyone attempting to hijack science to support their own interpretation of a religion is hardly an ally.

Also, why do you assume that any of us should automatically support someone simply because they agree with one aspect of a much more nuanced philosophy? In particular, you want an alliance with an official representative of one of the most toxic and far-reaching religious organisations in existance?

Say what you want about the Facists, but they really know how to wear a crisp shirt and jackboots. If we just stick to talking about fashion, then there is really no problem...

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

MH,
religion is more complex than just believing in irrational stories. I seriously hope that it's possible to erase those. Everybody should be educated enough not to believe in creationism or ID, but the human brain seems to be constructed in a way that we need security where we can't have any. I know enough about science to be pretty sure that the Earth won't stop turning tomorrow, but I can't expect everybody to spend years in science classes. I'd rather have them believe in a vaguely defined deity than worship science.
And I see reduction in religiosity since Voltaire, at least among the educated.

Sorry Joerg, I didn't read your comment (#107) until after I posted a near-duplicate (#109).

Tilia @110:

yeah, [1] you could tell me the difference between statements like "all catholic priests molests little boys" and "all atheists think like Stalin".
[2] Or you could just tell me, if you believe that everybody who has a slightly different opinion than you is a concern troll.
Live with it: [3] I think it's annoying if intelligent people ignore possible allies against creationism just because they are catholic.

1. Well, the words are different. But yes, they're both unfounded, ridiculous and counterfactual hasty generalisations - the latter more than the former. So what?
2. No. I only consider those who exhibit the characteristics of concern trolls as concern trolls, and you don't meet my criteria for such. I think you are, however, extremely defensive, and bring Proverbs 28:1 to mind.
3. Allies against creationism? Heh.
Maybe so, but the way I see it, creationism is primarily driven by religious considerations, and the moderate religious enable the fundamentalist religious.
You might as well say that Christians are allies against Islam, and Muslims are allies against Christians.

The issue is delusional thinking, whether wilful or just uncritical. Thus the irony to which the post refers.

By John Morales (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Bernhard Bumner: Anyone attempting to hijack science to support their own interpretation of a religion is hardly an ally.

Consolmagno isn't trying to "hijack" science. He clearly believes in NOMA. If he's right about that is another question. I definitely don't want to defend the catholic church like it is today, but who do you think can reach their brainwashed children better: A priest who says that creationism is pagan nonsense or a militant atheist who says that everything they believe is rubbish?
As soon as the priest made them trust science, they can use their own reasoning to figure out if Christianity is worth believing in.
Why can't we "hijack" the catholic church when they leave the door open like in this case?

Tilia,

The normal human fears that religions exploit are often due to the fear of the unknown. Is it any surprise that good science-education and non-belief are correlated? Knowledge about nature alleviates fear (in showing that the fear is unnecessary). Our knowledge of nature comes from science, but there is no reason to worship it (indeed, how would one worship science?); it is simply a demonstratively effective method of increasing knowledge about reality.

Religion, on the other hand, actively scares people into believing in things which can't even be shown to exist.

but who do you think can reach their brainwashed children better: A priest who says that creationism is pagan nonsense or a militant atheist who says that everything they believe is rubbish?

Let me guess,a "militant atheist" to you is someone who will not shut up when confronted with religious bigotry,who will mock and ridicule and confront,and point out the inconsistencies,and not play "nice" and "offend".

Right?

We're sort of over that,you know.
The Catholic church is a disgusting organisation that with its money and means could do a lot of good,but decides to do evil and cover up the evil done by its clergy.
And we point that out.

I definitely don't want to defend the catholic church like it is today, but who do you think can reach their brainwashed children better: A priest who says that creationism is pagan nonsense or a militant atheist who says that everything they believe is rubbish?

I think that moderates have their part to play, but that outspoken critics are also vital to effecting change. There is no reason to draw up a list of us and them. We might agree one day, but disagree the next - I give unconditional allegiance to noone.

In particular, I could not offer support to somebody who remains part of a particularly terrible organisation, simply because they offer a single sentiment which is similar to my own.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.

If I were to pick a single thing about religious people that I find the most infuriating it's that quote. By what providence do religious people gain ethical and moral insight that is not available to the poor heathen?

"Choice! The boy has no real choice, has he? Self interest, fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice." Isn't that what Christianity (and Islam, and Judaism) really is? Do good, or be damned to an eternity of tormet? I wonder what Anthony Burgess thought about religion...

For those here amazed (and amused?) that the Catholics have a large observatory system, you need to look into the history of Catholicism and astronomy. It really is kinda weird, but yeah - they are really big into astronomy.

For all the wrong reasons, of course, but still...

One of the oldest observatories in the world at the Vatican (you just gotta love that article heading typo - 'Observatoriesin' - one can easily make a seperation before the third-to-last letter...), and more.

As earlier stated, having a religious view should not have an influence on "good science". As odd as it sounds, an awful lot of "good science" gets done by the religious - and I can only speculate on how much more might have been made available if perhaps some had not been able to set aside their preconceptions, destroyed by what they found.

JC

Bernard Bumner @114

And I understand they made the trains run on time....

Louis

Consolmagno isn't trying to "hijack" science. He clearly believes in NOMA. If he's right about that is another question.

OK, but what if we disagree with him on that question? Why should we argue with one set of people who hold false opinions about science, but let another off the hook?

but who do you think can reach their brainwashed children better: A priest who says that creationism is pagan nonsense or a militant atheist who says that everything they believe is rubbish?

It's hard to take someone who says creationism is a load of nonsense as anything more than a hypocrite when they believe that morality is created, that a soul is imbued to our ancestral bodies that means that we have the ability to obey or disobey God. They are only criticising a particular form of creationism, these priests are still creationists themselves. It's just they do it on a more controversial topic (morality) as opposed to the body itself.Dualism is so freaking stupid.

clinteas,
I'm a militant atheist, but I first start the mocking and ridiculing when nothing else helps and only if the other part somehow tries to restrict my or other people's freedom.
Consolmagno's "Science needs religion" part is admittedly fishy, but even some Catholics can understand that abortion can be the right thing to do under some circumstances if you come with arguments and not with mockery.

FWIW, I think that simon the dumbass is changing which letters are capitals to avoid being killfiled.

By Fred Mounts (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

but even some Catholics can understand that abortion can be the right thing to do under some circumstances if you come with arguments and not with mockery.

Strawman argument.
Im not mocking anyone about abortion,neither is anyone else here AFAICT.
And Im not saying either that some catholics,like jews or muslims,cant be reasoned with or be scientists or be rational,but its the moderates on the sidelines in any religion that allow the fundamentalists and creeps to do what they do.

Consolmagno's "Science needs religion" part is admittedly fishy, but even some Catholics can understand that abortion can be the right thing to do under some circumstances if you come with arguments and not with mockery.

but that's not because of their religion, it's in spite of their religion. The priest is talking about the Church's relevance for behavioural guidelines, but really any moral action done by a believer in almost the entire history of the world has been in spite of the conservative dogmatic agenda that the institution of religion is. It's hard to think of any example in the last 400 years where the church has led the way either politically, intellectually, or morally. Rather it feels like we are dragging a kicking & screaming child into the 21st century. Religion is not necessary for anything any more, it's relevance comes from it proclaiming it's own relevance and we have to be accommodating because of it's historical clout. So really I don't see the problem of calling them on their hypocritical bullshit. This guy is a creationist, it's just he believes that the shells our souls reside in have gradually emerged over time. A morality-creationist is still a creationist.

Tilia #127

I'm a militant atheist, but I first start the mocking and ridiculing when nothing else helps and only if the other part somehow tries to restrict my or other people's freedom.

I thinks it's the other way around. People try to restrict your freedom and you do whatever you can do without getting burnt at the stake. So mocking and ridiculing is really the last thing to do. When you're allowed to do that without restriction, you won. We just need to keep it up a little longer...
As for the "internal" discussion, you are right - a priest can reach the really brainwashed people much better, so it's nice if he tells them the truth - if only by accident.

#130
So really I don't see the problem of calling them on their hypocritical bullshit.

what if Catholic Church agrees with your morality, do you still hate him ?

i am curious to know what behind the hatred .

what if Catholic Church agrees with your morality, do you still hate him ?

The Catholic Church clearly doesn't share a sense of morality with any reasonably minded person, so that question doesn't actually make sense.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

What's with the obsessive fear of being even remotely a little pagan? Maybe that's why I always hated being a catholic. The whole, dreary church and jesus thing with no connection to creation? how can you say god created something and yet not want to be connected to it?

So glad I got the fuck out of that nightmare. \

what if Catholic Church agrees with your morality, do you still hate him ?

First of all, this question makes no grammatical sense.
Secondly, The Catholic Church exists in this strange world where it has a list of a million restrictive rules and regulations that 90% of Catholics know nothing about. (Trust me, many of them don't even know that they are supposed to believe in transubstantiation.) What an individual catholic may believe, and what the catholic church says they should believe may vary. From my perspective this makes them all idiotic hypocrites. The people who do believe it only believe it because it was written in a book, and the people who don't claim to espouse a religion that they do not in fact espouse.

Dr. Myers,

Given that religion won't be going away anytime soon no matter how much we stamp our feet and demand that people recognize it's irrationality, given that a *massive* fraction of this country's christians believe in a young earth creation story in face of all evidence and take an antagonistic view towards natural history, and given that it's silly to think a religious leader is going to disavow his own faith no matter how much you think he should, we should be quite happy that there exists a major, influential Christian denomination that is willing to not only endorse scientific rationality on a respectable level, but attack the religiously-inspired alternative.

I think that's a pretty reasonable, real-world position. Religion is not going away anytime soon, nor are the massive fraction of societies that constitute the religious. Better to have them be religious and accept scientific rationality than think them at odds, no?

When it comes to making them look scientifically ignorant, Genesis is paganism. But, when it comes to backing up their ideas on birth control or gay marriage, it magically becomes Scripture. The Catholic Church is so wonderfully schizophrenic when it comes to the Pentateuch.

Tilia,

Everybody should be educated enough not to believe in creationism or ID, but the human brain seems to be constructed in a way that we need security where we can't have any.

The brain has been through some different times during its evolutionary path. You could replace "security" with many other words and still have a true statement concerning what the older parts of our brain are urging us to obtain.

But feeding the security urge with religion is satisfying the urge with a lie which is not good. But it is worse because it provides a haven for an even less secure environment and less secure society, filled with manipulation, lies and false hope.

My brain would like to have me eat my favorite foods all the time but unfortunately that would kill me.

#134

First of all, this question makes no grammatical sense.
Secondly, The Catholic Church exists in this strange world where it has a list of a million restrictive rules and regulations that 90% of Catholics know nothing about.

Such rules makes the world, where you live, be better. Do you know there are Vatican embassy in most of countries and in the UN ?

(Trust me, many of them don't even know that they are supposed to believe in transubstantiation.) What an individual catholic may believe, and what the catholic church says they should believe may vary. From my perspective this makes them all idiotic hypocrites. The people who do believe it only believe it because it was written in a book, and the people who don't claim to espouse a religion that they do not in fact espouse.

thirdly, you know nothing about Catholic. You are just a quacking atheist duck with good English. Sorry, I don't trust a duck.

Point of information: Brother Consolmagno is not a priest. Were he a priest, he would be Father Consolmagno.

Simple Simon the Gay Lieman, still working on getting plonked I see. You just gained +1 on my stupidity rankings. And I haven't voted yet.

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

that's your freewill to choose good or bad

You're a meat robot. Programmed to think you have free will. "Good" and "bad" are evaluations based on another one of those very flexible programs that each of us runs - which is why no two meat robots agree exactly on what they are. You also think that you have 3D vision, and that the world doesn't cease to exist when you blink your meat-optics to keep them damp. You're trapped in an existence in which everything you can possibly do is constrained by events that happened before you even existed, controlled by little random decisions at the quantum level. In substance, you're a fairly thin cloud of molecules, mostly water, that constantly exchanges material with its surroundings. What you call "things" and try to control are nothing more than a fluke of the scale at which you operate. You have "choice" only to the extent that your brain evolved enough complexity for you to sneak up on lettuce and bash them on the heads, and post on the internet - but not enough to understand how truly and utterly trapped you are.

I couldn't help posting this comment.

Simon #138:

Such rules makes the world, where you live, be better.

You don't need religion to obtain ethical standards: you could use humanism, for example.

leftside,

Given that the world is flat why would you want to go to the edge and fall off?

I think that's a pretty reasonable, real-world position. Religion is not going away anytime soon, nor are the massive fraction of societies that constitute the religious. Better to have them be religious and accept scientific rationality than think them at odds, no?

No. Not all societies are religious. No. It doesn't matter how many members the christians claim to have, their foundation is still built on lies and their method of finding truth has always been lacking. Science is built on a foundation of finding the truth and has done a remarkable job of it. Society and government would do well to acknowledge the success of science by adopting its honest foundation and methods. Religion is useless and dangerous and needs fade away as it is headed in that direction anyway.

leftside, have you been on holiday for the past decade? You've been doing some off planet travel?

Was this the old guy interviewed in the Bill Maher vehicle, Religulous?

I found him quite sympathetic. This is a gentleman who was very heavily indoctrinated at some point (as many of us, myself included, were). So heavily, however, that he dedicated his life to glorifying this belief.

He is taking those things which he sees to be incompatible with his beliefs and neither discounting them nor twisting them around. He is instead modifying his underlying worldview to encompass these observations.

The final leap may be into an existential nothingness for this man, so cut him some slack, he's closer to the end than we probably are.

what if Catholic Church agrees with your morality, do you still hate him ?

what part of "let a 9-year old die in childbirth" could I possibly interpret as agreeing with my morality?!

and the RCC is a "her", if you're going to randomly assign gender (note: English doesn't have grammatical gender, so it's actually an "it")

Posted by: Simon | March 19, 2009

You are just a quacking atheist duck with good English. Sorry, I don't trust a duck.

But simpering siMon, you are so good with duckspeak.

By Janine, Insult… (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Such rules makes the world, where you live, be better. Do you know there are Vatican embassy in most of countries and in the UN ?

1) those rules do NOT make the world a better place 2) of course the vatican has an embassy in all countries. so does germany, sweden etc.

thirdly, you know nothing about Catholic. You are just a quacking atheist duck with good English. Sorry, I don't trust a duck

hahahahh, you're an idiot. as a former Catholic, I can assure you that the statement in #134 was correct. and I can prove it by the vast amount of Catholics on birth control, or having live-in boyfriends, or happily eating sausage and drinking gluhwein at the christmas market, etc ad nauseam. (and that's just for the obvious rules. don't even get me started on the more obscure ones!)

Jadehawk, all derivatives of christianity is masculine. So the RCC is not a her or an it. RCC is him.

By Janine, Insult… (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

One thing to think about though, is that luckily every one of the religions are at odds with each other - imagine if all the Christians got together and agreed on the same stuff - then we'd really have a fight on our hands. Or even worse, if there was just one world religion. Then all reason would be lost. All we can count on from the wackaloons is that they cannot agree with each other half the time, about much of anything. I think it is great when the pot calls the kettle black in these cases. It points out the insanity for all to see...

By Praetorianstalker (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

PZ

Consolmagno is a very progressive thinker, you should really listen to his take on religion and creationists. See this (fantastic!) video were he discusses religion with bible-literalist-astronauts (really!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUyiQufyiK0

I really like your texts, dr. Myers, but when you take all religious people to be stupid and supertitious, that's a prejudice.

"chucking out all those myths about triune gods, ritual cannibalism, magical transformations of crackers into holy meat, virgin births, miracles, yadda yadda yadda."

Please consider this: it's a metaphor sir! It's a friggin Poem, a compendium of folk tales about the nature of humans, and rituals meant to teach something.

If you cannot see this, position yourself in the same boat of those fundamentalists you so much hate, including that priest that excomungated the raped girl and that pope that blabbers about condoms.

Consolmagno is not one of them, and I really believe you not to be neither. So pelase take a moment and listen to something he ever said.

but when you take all religious people to be stupid and supertitious

News flash: all religion IS superstition.

Jadehawk, all derivatives of christianity is masculine. So the RCC is not a her or an it. RCC is him.

that doesn't make sense, unless christianity is into gay marriage, since the church is "the bride of christ". so all churches would be female (kinda like ships), while "derivative of christianity" would be catholicism, which for all i know could be male...

alexandre is a prime example of why religion is so dangerous. it's not that there's nutcases in it. the flat earth society does, too, but they're properly marginalized and shunned by sane people. religion on the other hand has a bunch of "moderate" religionists, that build a defensive wall around all the insanity at the core. if all the halfway sane people in them would just stop defending them and leave them to the nutcases at their core, the world would be a much better place.

"No. Not all societies are religious. No. It doesn't matter how many members the christians claim to have, their foundation is still built on lies and their method of finding truth has always been lacking. Science is built on a foundation of finding the truth and has done a remarkable job of it. Society and government would do well to acknowledge the success of science by adopting its honest foundation and methods. Religion is useless and dangerous and needs fade away as it is headed in that direction anyway.

leftside, have you been on holiday for the past decade? You've been doing some off planet travel?"

I am not sure why the response I received was so sneering but:

You simply have to accept that relgion and the religious are not going away, no matter how dangerous, irrational, stupid, etc. you (or I) think them to be. It's simply true. There is always be religious faith and religous practice at some level in every free society in the world. There are very few societies today or in history where even a simple majority of the population professes zero religious faith or observance, except for perhaps some various totalitarian dictatorships in the 20th century. You simply must accept this reality.

What needs to happen is that religious people (who by and large simply aren't going to stop being religious no matter what you want) need to understand that scientific rationality and natural history do not obviate their faith. when you tell them it does, they close their ears, and everything gets worse. And in a country like ours, they're a big fraction of the population.

In short, drop the sanctimony.

...wouldn't it be better to rejoice that the Vatican is accepting of modern science and its general interpretation of the world?

Put your thinking cap on for a minute - if Rat-zinger & Co accepted a scientific interpretation of the world they'd be putting themselves out of business. Instead they claim they have the "ultimate truth," and science is a subset of that "truth."

By robinsrule (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Tilia #102 wrote:

There are enough non-NOMA creationist idiots around. Couldn't you restrict yourself to bashing those?
If it was possible for reason to defeat faith, we would have won 200 years ago. I think religion is here to stay, and all we can do is balancing it with reason.Please don't punish those who try doing that from the other side. So far we have common enemies...

I will argue that this position is more insulting to both religion -- and the religious -- than honest attacks against error as we see it. Ironically, your 'let's just concentrate on where we agree' position places the religious in a little category called "Them."

Is religion true? Does God exist? Is there a supernatural? Do morals require religion?

No, but let's not make that generally know. Yes, we can handle the truth. We can take reason all the way, can analyze and think and accept reality and the scientific implications of reality. But we're different. We're special. We're elite.

They, on the other hand, can't handle it. The religious can't go that far. Because they're not capable of caring more about following the evidence where it leads, than they care about following their instincts and feelings and emotions and intuitions and rationalizing, rationalizing, rationalizing. They can't help themselves.

Unlike us.

And we need to respect that difference, and give them credit for coming as far as they have come, and expect them to come no further. Don't make them work at anything they can't handle.

Do you really think that science-minded theists will appreciate that?

I think it's annoying if intelligent people ignore possible allies against creationism just because they are catholic.

Do you? Well, perhaps I shouldn't argue against you, because -- after all -- you're an atheist. And I'm an atheist.

Shouldn't that be enough?

Let's focus then on our mutual agreement on atheism, and not expect the other one to listen to reason and change their minds on whether or not we should give science-friendly religious liberals a free pass on considering their views seriously -- all their views. I think it's annoying if intelligent people ignore possible allies against theism just because they advocate different tactics.

Let it go, then, let it go ...

Posted by: alexandre van de sande | March 19, 2009 12:14 PM

PZ

Consolmagno is a very progressive thinker, you should really listen to his take on religion and creationists.

He may be a progressive thinker, but he willingly belongs to an organization that teaches that using condoms is a sin, and he willingly acknowledges the authority of a man who excommunicated a mother for helping her 9-year-old rape victim daughter get an abortion.

I really like your texts, dr. Myers, but when you take all religious people to be stupid and supertitious, that's a prejudice.

But they are all superstitous.

"chucking out all those myths about triune gods, ritual cannibalism, magical transformations of crackers into holy meat, virgin births, miracles, yadda yadda yadda."

Please consider this: it's a metaphor sir! It's a friggin Poem, a compendium of folk tales about the nature of humans, and rituals meant to teach something.

This idea is in direct violation of Catholic doctrine. If Consolmagno really believes it's all a metaphor, then he is not religious and PZ's complaints do not apply to him. It also means he's lying about being Catholic.

what if Catholic Church agrees with your morality, do you still hate him ?

i am curious to know what behind the hatred .

You really don't get it, do you? It's not about them agreeing with "my morality," it's about the hypocrisy of criticising creationists when the person professing this is a creationist. It's nothing to do with hatred, it's that this guy professes a faith that is every bit as creationist as the people he's complaining about.

leftside said

Better to have them be religious and accept scientific rationality than think them at odds, no?

Unfortunately, if we rely on their support on those issues where we do agree we can be in real danger. As the RC, through the pope, can change its mind on an issue at any time. The only reason it does support science, where it does that is, is either because it no longer has any choice, i.e. because of irrefutable evidence, or because it has found a way to rationalise it with their superstition. And yes, it is still superstition even if millions/billions believe it without evidence.

Over only the last couple of years, Nazinger has made a number of contradictory statements regarding evolution, as have others in senior positions in the RC, such that it is difficult at times to understand whether they truly accept it as a scientific 'fact' or not.

Additionally, its support of science often depends on whether that science is in accord with its teachings. Such as not only its ignoring of research showing that condom use with proper education leads to lower AIDS rates, but actually stating the opposite is true. It also campaigns against condom use in those parts of the world most likely to benefit as well as telling lies about condom use with regard to AIDS transmission.

Thus in some ways, actually siding with them where we do agree with them can give others the appearance of us giving them legitimacy in areas that we definitely don't agree with them. Much like the moderate believer legitimises the extremist believer. After all, they both base their beliefs on the faith, i.e. belief in something without any evidence to support it.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

"Probably you read a lot of Jack Chick's comics."
Posted by: siMon

I love reading Chick Tracts, and highly recommend that anybody who wants a good look at what our local pagans (ie. Protestant Christians of the Baptist/Adventist sub-cults, the religion of the pagus in the U.S.A.) believe.

http://www.chick.com/catalog/tractlist.asp

My enjoyment of their idiocy has little to do with the specifics of their anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, anti-science, anti-"socialist", anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-everybody-but-us philosophy espoused in the comics. Their Religious enemies actually come out looking fairly good in comparison to their twisted Beliefs.

Those of us who are their Social enemies are the ones happily laughing our asses off at their evil stupidity.

And for those of us who have read all the Chick Tracts and want more laughs, there's:

http://www.weirdcrap.com/chick/archive.html

Enjoy, my fellow heathens.

I don't get what he was getting at with creationism. I dislike creationism (in particular the young earth variety) simply because it is not supported by the evidence (scientific or biblical). If some YEC was to come up with some evidence for a Young earth I would be glad to change my position.
I was just also thinking about how much better his charge would be against a naturalist. They bestow creative powers and intent and power to the laws of nature.Laws of nature basically are omnipotent for a naturalist .
Theist:How did X come about??
(Insert consciousness,intentionality, morality ,rationality or specified complexity for X)
Naturalist: Natural processes did it. There is nothing nature cannot do.

I agree with him that religion needs science to keep it close to reality.I also agree science needs religion for its conscience. we've seen some nasty things come about when science had no conscience. Stuff like eugenics and the kind of concoction between Nietsche's Ubermensch and evolutionary biology . Even more recently we have stories like this
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/dec/06121202.html
(Where a Ukranian Stem cell company kills newborn babies to meet its quote of stem cells)

I also agree science needs religion for its conscience.

That's because you are a fool. Just what does science need religion in order to tell it what to do?

@Kel
Did you look at the examples of what science has done without a conscience?

Facilis, have you looked at the atrocities religion has committed before your open your ignorant mouth?

By Nerd of Redhead, OM (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

Did you look at the examples of what science has done without a conscience?

The scientific process is laden with ethical constraints, I just contend that those constraints are secular - which is a good thing too because the dogmatic law of the Church may have been the thing 1700 years ago but now it's archaic and draconian by modern standards. Scientists operate within a certain ethical area, I just contend that a) that ethical area is entirely secular in nature, and b) that religion has added nothing to the progress of mankind for about 400 years now. It's in spite of religion that free-thinkers were providing the foundation by which secularism was build.

Naturalist: Natural processes did it. There is nothing nature cannot do.

So untrue. Natural processes cannot, for instance, cause seven loaves of bread and seven fishes to be enough nourishment for four thousand people with leftovers, or transform water into wine, or cause a four-day dead corpse to be reanimated.

So please explain what it is about "consciousness, intentionality, morality, rationality or specified complexity for X" that you feel calls for a miraculous or supernatural cause.

facilis wrote:

Did you look at the examples of what science has done without a conscience?

And you suggest religion could be that conscience? Funny, I can only see that leading to it being okay to use science to do horrible things to people not of the same religion (or sect of religion) as you - since that is what religious people hold the most dear, wiping out those who don't believe in their god (or precise interpretation of that god) if they can't be converted.

You yourself have already shown that your religious beliefs, if applied to science, would lead to many more deaths - otherwise you would support condom use as an AIDS preventative in Africa instead of condemning it.

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

What needs to happen is that religious people (who by and large simply aren't going to stop being religious no matter what you want) need to understand that scientific rationality and natural history do not obviate their faith. - leftside

The problem with that approach is that they do. NOMA is crap: all forms of religion except the most austere deism, and perhaps some forms of Buddhism, make claims about what the world is like, which science routinely disproves. As for your claims that there will always be religion - how on earth do you think you know that? Simply saying that X has always been so, therefore X will always be so, is obviously invalid - there are far too many examples of things that were always so until recently - and now are not.

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

Furthermore, I could contend that religion is a terrible voice for any consciousness, secularism has left it for dead. Instead we've had to drag the churches kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and all the churches can offer us is dogma born 2000 years ago. The reliance on dogma makes a church a useless conscience, it can only offer up 2000 year old words of wisdom. In that time, we've taken on board the good, discarded the bad, and progressed the ideas further and applied them more broadly. The role of the church in it's history has never been about morality, it's been about control and justifying it's own existence. Like in this case here, science doesn't need religion yet the priest is pushing the myth that religion puts a behavioural constraint on mankind. Science in general and scientists do need constraints, I agree with that sentiment. I disagree that any organised religion can be of any value in adding those contraints. Read The Demon-Haunted World and how Sagan talks about the role of ethics in science. What you neglect [sic]fail is that in the last 300 years or so, society has moved away from the religious instruction on morality and come up with a far more equitable and inclusive system. Just look at the bill of rights.

If Jesus was responsible for moral and social improvement, why didn't the world because a far better place when he allegedly appeared? Why has so much bad stuff happened in the 2,000 years since, and many positive changes in human society only been occurring very recently?

By Wowbagger, OM (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

Sneering about the Brazilian rape/excommunication horror story is rather like a Christian saying "all atheists are murderers" just because he's heard of one murderer who was an atheist, isn't? - Sam C.

Indeed, the similarities are striking. After all, the Office of the Chief Atheist has made its approval of the murder abundantly clear, hasn't it, just as the Vatican approved the excommunications?

By Knockgoats (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

And once again, I recommend that facilis watch The Ascent Of Man to learn about the scientific progress of mankind. The episode Knowledge or Certainty is possibly one of the most important messages ever put on television and facilis should pay close attention to what Bronowski says.Besides it'll be good for him to see what a real science documentary is.

Jadehawk.

It is highly unlikely you are a former Catholic.

You may be a lapsed Catholic, or even a bad Catholic ("Bad Ctholic- no zombie flesh"), but as I understand it it is near impossible to be an EX catholic- Doesn't Papa have to say so?

By Last Hussar (not verified) on 22 Mar 2009 #permalink