Is your trust in science based on faith or based on science?

What I mean is this: how much do you actually know about the science most atheists parrot? Most atheists know as little science as most Christians know as little theology. Just as a Christian trusts his priest to tell him what he believes, an atheist trusts scientists with a Ph.D. tacked to their name to tell them what they believe. But how many times have the scientists turned out to be wrong? I only ask this because it seems this is central to the problem that most atheists have. They are repulsed by the phrase “believe” – they are addicted instead to the phrase “know”. But honestly, do you really know, or are you just believing what you’re told? I would like to remind you that in the 1970′s the scientists of the day were seriously concerned that we were about to enter an ice age, and less than 30 years later they are now convinced Earth is about to turn into a desert.

Unless you’ve observed something yourself, or observed and interpreted the evidence yourself and drew your own conclusions, you are just as guilty as faith as any religious person.

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 I would like to remind you that in the 1970′s the scientists of the day were seriously concerned that we were about to enter an ice age, and less than 30 years later they are now convinced Earth is about to turn into a desert.

Incorrect. There were a few studies that predicted an entry into a cooling period, but the majority predicted warming. Between 1965 and 1979, 7 papers predicted a cooling effect while 42 predicted warming (19 were neutral or undetermined). What everyone remembers, however, are the Time and Newsweek articles talking about 'A new Ice Age'. Oddly enough, Time and Newsweek are not scientific journals.

In addition, the studies predicting a cooling had as an assumption that the ongoing increase in atmospheric aerosol content would continue to a point 4 times its existing levels. Not unreasonable, as sulfur dioxide emissions had been increasing dramatically over the past couple of decades. However, then countries started passing and enforcing clear air laws and the SO2 levels started to drop in the late 70s. If we did something similar with CO2 emissions, we might be able to make a difference in the current climate change, if it's not too late.

Unless you’ve observed something yourself, or observed and interpreted the evidence yourself and drew your own conclusions, you are just as guilty as faith as any religious person.

So many people conflate the different definitions of faith, often deliberately. Faith without evidence (or in spite of it) is what is usually meant when talking about religious faith. Faith that when I press the brake on my car it will slow down, or that the sun will rise in the east, is better described as confidence. It's based on a large amount of evidence and that evidence is available for anyone who wants to look it up. 

Another common misunderstanding is that science claims to be 100% right about anything. It doesn't, by definition. Scientific conclusions are always provisional, always subject to being modified due to new data. There are scientific findings that are so well established and have so much evidence supporting them that it would take a monumental amount of evidence to overturn them, but that is because any new hypothesis has to be able to account not only for the things that the current conclusion cannot, but also for everything that the current conclusion already explains. 

@Prof Bob - Do you pray, and do you use the Rosary to help with prayers?

Sure.

@Prof Bob - Is the Garden of Eden now being taught as a travesty, and now being taught that it is just a myth?

Is the snake in the Garden of Eden now taught as mythology?

Is it now being ttaught tha the Tree of Knowledge is the best tree to have?

Is the Virgin birth being taught as impossible.

Is the crucifixion now being taught as this was just the manner in which Pontius Pilate got rid of his enemies, and that there were thousands of people who died nailed to a pole.

Is it being taught that nobody can come back from the dead?

When will the leader of the catholic church in Rome be a woman, or even a priest or bishop, that would be a good start - as it is in the Anglican Church.

Is the Tower of Babel being taught as a totally evil act, perpetrated by a 'god' throwing a hissy fit.

@Suzanne, that's quite a list!  Is there a connection there that I'm not understanding? 

Ordinarily I'd tell my students that it's far better to develop your own knowledge rather than rely on mine.  There's plenty of sources out there where you can read about what my church teaches on various things.  Please keep in mind that for any of us who teach, what we teach isn't necessarily "true" in an absolute or pure sense.   I take my turn teaching freshman physics (actually I enjoy it sometimes... at least the major's course.  The pre-meds can be annoying. ;-) ).   For beginners, we teach simplified forms; for some things, we are really teaching our speculations or current best guess.   No different for what my church teaches. 

To speak generally about all your questions, my church would teach that the creation story in the book of Genesis is a story.  It establishes a common language and some important principles, but it's not a literal history.  Besides, it's really compiled fragments from an oral history, with edits down the centuries, so it's a bit of a mishmash.   Some years back when the first findings on genetic (mitochondrial) Eve were published, an old Monsignor friend of mine rolled his eyes and laughed and commented "now we may have to jump in bed with the fundamentalists!"

The point of Genesis is that God is Creator, and is reflected in Creation.  So new understanding of Creation, like emerging understanding of evolution or the discovery of mitochondrial Eve, changes the way we understand God and scripture.  All the original Christian faiths (Roman Catholics, other Catholics, the Orthodox Churches, etc.) are not fundamentalist in their reading of scripture.  That's a "modern" innovation in some of our protestant brethren.

When will we have a woman pope?  No idea.   Marriage of clergy is just a discipline, not something doctrinal.  That's a policy that could change relatively easily.  Ordination of women touches some slightly deeper issues, but none are really insurmountable.  I think what you have to realize is that we're a worldwide church, so some changes have to be right for everyone before they proceed.  It has to work in Baltimore and in Bangladesh.  It's much easier for the American Episcopal church which serves only middle and upper class North Americans, or even for the Anglican community which serves Britain's former empire. 

@Doc Bob - speaking of the Creator --

LOL!  Thanks, @archaeopteryx.  That was a stitch.

(Shrugs) It's what I do --

@Robert - Where did the rosary concept come from?

@Robert - that's quite a list!  Is there a connection there that I'm not understanding?

No, not really. And thank you for answering. This for me is a first :) Christians usually either run away, or not answer.

- Develop your own knowledge rather than rely on mine -

This is exactly what I have done, over many years. Read the bible, analysed the bible, asked questions. I was raised a catholic, complete with scapular and guardian angels. Every Saturday afternoon off to confession.

Please keep in mind that for any of us who teach, what we teach isn't necessarily "true" in an absolute or pure sense -

So how do you choose what to believe or not believe?

There's plenty of sources out there where you can read about what my church teaches on various things -

I had already been immersed in the teachings of Jesus, I needed to go further, and a few years later, started doing a lot of research. I was fascinated with Noah's Ark, and found there had been many similar stories such as the Mesopotamia floods and Gilgamesh.

Oral history, with edits down the centuries - so if the story of the Garden of Eden is watered down, why does the catholic church's subjugation of women, as siren as she was, Eve enticed poor Adam into being disobedient. The repercussions of that story has had an enormous impact on the behavior of the catholic church, down to baptism, to erase original sin.

God as creator, that's OK, but if the Garden of Eden is a story, why not the story of god also? There was already a myriad of gods, why that particular one?

Mitochondrial Eve existed - Where was Adam? Why wasn't this Eve named as the daughter of god?

So the all knowing god didn't know about this earlier female? Who named her Eve? The Vatican certainly doesn't recognise an early female, hence on with baptism to get rid of original sin, as with catholic doctrine every baby born is born with original sin. Maybe you should have a few words with the new Pope.

Marriage of clergy is just a discipline, not something doctrinal. - just something else man made up, and is causing havoc to innocent people. Do you think that this man made dogma will change in our lifetime.

If the catholic church catches up with todays society, how will the catholic church be any different to any other christian religion.

I think what you have to realize is that we're a worldwide church, - Isn't the Pope infallible. I was taught never to question Jesus, God or the Pope. Besides the following of the bible causing horrific deeds in the world, the Pope and the catholic church has also.

The other question was about the Rosary, which we had to say after confession. Did you know it was originally called the Witches Ladder? Yet another pagan tradition usurped. Have you ever read anything that takes you back further than the bible. What do you think of all the man made mandates in the bible? How do you choose what to believe?

There would be many ex-catholics on this site. I for one find your answers fascinating, in how two people, for instance, can have come to such different conclusions after reading the same book that then controls lives.

Read bible, analyse bible, research into origins of bible = ex catholic.

Thank you again for not running away :)

"'Scrutumini scripturas'
('Let us examine the scriptures')
These two words have undone the world."

-- John Selden --
(1584-1658)

Mitochondrial Eve is a very interesting story from science. I'm pretty sure the Prof was alluding to the same story, er, research.

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