Accentuate the Positive

Via Kieran Healy an example of the happy coexistence of science and religion: The Vatican Observatory. I particularly like Kieran's comment regarding the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope:


I think that's just fantastic--like something out of Phillip Pullman. Is it too much to hope for the Vatican Superconducting Supercollider, which would once and for all resolve the question of how many angels would be killed if a stream of particles were smashed into the head of a pin?

I was already aware of the Vatican Observatory, thanks to Brother Guy Consolmagno, planetary scientist, Jesuit, and SF fan, who's appeared at a few cons that I've gone to. He was on a panel at Noreascon that was basically devoted to True Lab Stories, including a hilarious tale involving a freezer full of cyanide. I've met him once or twice, and he strikes me as an extremely smart and funny guy, and he has never once attempted to brainwash me or anyone I know into giving up rationalism (which would be a little out of character for a Jesuit, after all...).

Just a reminder that the War On Science is a little more complicated than it sometimes appears.

(Grabbing a little mid-day blogging time while waiting for a student who may or may not show up for a meeting...)

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Lest we all forget what the Catholic church did to Galileo, the supposedly infallible Papal Bulls on the subject clearly state the earth is the center of the universe. These statements have never been contradicted by the church. Technically, any Catholic believing otherwise risks his/her soul.

I refer you to The End of Faith by Sam Harris for an excellent discussion of Science v. Religion.

By Michael Nord (not verified) on 31 Jan 2006 #permalink

Lest we all forget what the Catholic church did to Galileo

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-04-02-pope-highlights_x.htm

search for "Galileo"

the supposedly infallible Papal Bulls on the subject clearly state the earth is the center of the universe.

The famously misunderstood dogma of infallibility, rather. It applies only in the circumstances when it is explicitly invoked.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility

These statements have never been contradicted by the church. Technically, any Catholic believing otherwise risks his/her soul.

Absurd. Go ask any Catholic priest.

Lest we all forget what the Catholic church did to Galileo, the supposedly infallible Papal Bulls on the subject clearly state the earth is the center of the universe. These statements have never been contradicted by the church. Technically, any Catholic believing otherwise risks his/her soul.

As Roman points out, this isn't true. Pope John Paul II stated that the Church erred in the case of Galileo. Granted, it took better than three hundred years, but they did admit the mistake eventually.

I'm not going to touch the doctrine of infallibility.

The war on science, at least the Western Front, is fought almost exclusively by fundamentalist christians. A true fundamentalist christian (American variety) believes, although he often will not say (GW Bush, for example), that catholics are going to hell, along with jews, muslims, nonfundamentalist christians, buddhists, hindus, wiccans, satan worshippers and atheists. There may be some other groups that I have neglected to mention. Let us just assume that everyone is going to hell.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 31 Jan 2006 #permalink

Roman, I wish you could come over to the US and see firsthand what I am talking about. You might have the mistaken notion that fundamentalist christians are like the catholics you see where you live. If so, you are mistaken. They are much more like the fundamentalist muslims that you hear about blowing up cafes in Israel or convoys in Iraq. Also, if you think that because GWB attended a funeral and does not openly say (today) what he truly believes that he is not a true fundamentalist, you are mistaken about that, as well. The record is there from his days in Texas, before his politcal handlers told him about offending too many people who don't believe as he does. GWB is perfectly happy with votes from hell-bound, non-believers, but he does not expect to see any of those particular voters when he goes to heaven.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 31 Jan 2006 #permalink

That's all pretty vicious stuff, Mark.

Fred, I sometimes engage in a little hyperbole. There are lots of fundamentalists that are very nice people. I have met some, and at one time even went to church with some of them. I'm not talking about the blowhards on TV or the abortion clinic bombers. I mean everyday people, schoolteachers, bank officers, feed-and-seed store workers. If you can get them to admit it, they honestly believe that if you do not believe pretty much exactly as they do, then you will go to hell. The nice ones certainly regret that, but they figure that's just the way god set it up, and once they tell you, it's your fault for not believing. So, I might be a little vicious when I describe them (I would argue that I am simply being brutally honest about it) but the true viciousness is in the belief. One reason I get so heated up about it is that I have actually read their bible and I know that what they believe is not what Jesus taught. You know, the part about "love your neighbor as you love yourself." And "judge not that ye be not judged."

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 31 Jan 2006 #permalink

And, by the way, when I compare them to fundamentalist islamists, I don't mean that they are suicide bombers. I mean that their beliefs are every bit as rigid and uncompromising, that they are every bit as certain that they are the owners of the one and only true religion, and that everyone should believe as they do.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 31 Jan 2006 #permalink

Would you rather everyone believe as you do?

"Judge not that ye be not judged."

You know the words but, somehow missed any connection to your life.

Roman, it is all about semantics so it is hard to make a tight argument, my point was that your argument implies non-relativitic QM is non-local in a very wide sense, so wide that any non-relativitic classical mechanics is non-local as well (for example any diffusion process as I pointed out). The usual arguments for quantum non-locality are different, I think they are misguided but at least they are specific to quantum mechanics.

That of course belongs in the other thread, serves me right trying to comment before coffee.

Fred, I never said I am a christian - I am not - so I don't feel obligated to observe the teachings of that religion. I simply point out that some people who call themselves christians also do not observe the clearly stated teachings of their own religion. We have a saying down here: "The hit dog hollers." Does that apply?

Also, upon reflection, I realized that the war on science in the US is not fought only by religious fundamentalists. There are quite a few who fight it because they fear what the findings of science might mean regarding their businesses. Global warming comes to mind. So, it looks like it boils down to two of the strongest drives in society: religion and money.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 01 Feb 2006 #permalink