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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Dr. Ricky Bobby says:

...Science isn't only testing.  One has to have a theory to test.

(chuckle) Theory first??? (chuckle)

What is written in the bible is near impossible to observe (miracles, living to over 100 easily etc.) Yet all I have to do is look at a photograph that was taken anywhere any time and I see the proof of all images are created by light. Look up at the skies and I see a Moon and Stars that are there every night. I jump from a tree I hit the ground. So yeah I don't have faith in science as such because I can see proof of science in every day things and for what it's worth I like the idea of not having all the answers  having new things to look for we can still have the great explorers and adventurers just in a different construct.
Peace be the Journey.

@ Professor Bob

Would you be willing to admit that the scientific studies conducted through the auspices of the Vatican seem to be more inclined to favor research that supports the writings of your holy book? The Catholic Church seems very slow, or even reluctant, at times to acknowledge scientific data that goes 'against the grain' of it's own findings. The church is evolving at a snails pace though; one day they might even allow women an equal footing.

I shall never forget walking the halls of the massive St Peters in Rome. The gaudy structure was capped off with a huge obelisk behind the ceremonial area that is direct symbolism to the Egyptian sun god Ra. I would think the church would attempt to purify itself a tad by removing these references to pagan gods. The pomp and circumstance of the catholic religion has to be somewhat embarrassing to a person of your educated standing. I've never understood the excessive use of ritualism in their services; trying to impress their flock I gather.

Would you be willing to admit that the scientific studies conducted through the auspices of the Vatican seem to be more inclined to favor research that supports the writings of your holy book?

Again, we're not fundamentalists.  The Catholic position would be that God reveals himself through Creation, as well as through his interactions with humanity, and that God gave us a brain so that we may use it to try to discern his revelation in each.  The Bible (along with other texts) largely chronicles His interactions with humanity, as viewed by humans of different ages; science looks at his revelation through the created universe; lots of writings and commentaries by lots of people attempt to apply reason to both and build understanding.

To the extent that there is clear evidence of a scientific conclusion on a matter, our interpretation of other religious notions must humbly yield to that evidence.  We don't get to tell God what the Bible means; He tells us.  If His universe is telling us we got it wrong, then we got it wrong. 

To my knowledge, the scientific research that the Vatican funds directly through the Vatican Observatory or other arms has all been good science.  Certainly they are well respected and well published in the scientific community.  That's not to say that politics won't interfere occasionally or that individual researchers won't have their own biases, but that's true of all science.

I would think the church would attempt to purify itself a tad by removing these references to pagan gods.

Why? It's good art.  Part of the mission of the Vatican Museum is to preserve art and learning over the centuries for all humanity.   We also preserve quite a lot of art from pagan ancient Rome. 

The pomp and circumstance of the catholic religion has to be somewhat embarrassing to a person of your educated standing.

Sometimes.  Sometimes it's quite moving.

I do object to the conservatives in the modern church who seem to want to re-introduce over-the-top ritual.  I call it the Multiplication of Meaningless Ritual.  Vatican II and the Holy Spirit I think are taking us away from that, because in the modern world it is no longer necessary.  Some ritual remains valuable, for sure, but not quite all that pomp.  However, as with many things, the reforms generated a bit of a backlash which we're taking time to work through.    That's humanity. 

You are correct, though.  Of all the original 5 patriarchates, Rome has always moved the slowest and most cautiously.  That can be a blessing which keeps us away from fads of the day (like the modern worldwide trend toward fundamentalism), but also a disadvantage in some ways.  I think overall it's probably a good thing, but it's a close call.   We've sidelined or even murdered more than a few saints along the way who we had to acknowledge later on were right.

"Would you be willing to admit that the scientific studies conducted through the auspices of the Vatican seem to be more inclined to favor research that supports the writings of your holy book?"

Hey, I know Ed - let's ask Galileo - oh, that's right, he's out back, watching the sun revolve around the earth --

Sometimes [the pomp and circumstance of the catholic religion] is quite moving.

Seated, standing, kneeling -- it moved me for a few years.

How does it move you?

Rome's moving most slowly and most cautiously can be a blessing which keeps us away from fads of the day (like the modern worldwide trend toward [Protestant] fundamentalism).

Catholic fundamentalism? The Latin mass?

I once found it interesting that Catholic fundamentalistism went back only to when papal infallibility began, when Catholic opposition to abortion began, etc.

"Seated, standing, kneeling" - sounds like a human yo-yo.

I once found it interesting that Catholic fundamentalistism went back only to when papal infallibility began, when Catholic opposition to abortion began, etc.

Yes, that's sort of true.  That's why it doesn't get as much traction.

Not just Protestant fundamentalism, though.   Islamic fundamentalism is very real; so is Jewish fundamentalism, particularly in Israel/Palestine.  This is a worldwide phenomenon affecting multiple religions.

I like to satirize conservatism with "It takes people back no further than to the first use of dental anesthesia."

 We also preserve quite a lot of art from pagan ancient Rome. 

Using the rules laid down by the Council of Trent, Pope Paul IV mandated the use of concealing fig leaves, promulgating the church’s attack on nudity in art in a papal bull dated 1557.

Most of the fig leaves that we see were put in place on the personal initiative of Pope Innocent X (1644-1655). Pope Clement XIII (1693 –1769)... (source)

LOL.  I hadn't heard that one.  It's pretty funny.  Shades of John Ashcroft putting clothes on Lady Justice.

The Vatican Museum and many of the Church's holdings in Italy are probably the largest collections of preserved Roman art.

The Dragon In My Garage
by
Carl Sagan

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"


Suppose I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick."

And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.

The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility.

Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative-- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proven."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons--to say nothing about invisible ones--you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages--but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence"--no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it--is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

(The preceding is an excerpt from The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In the Dark by Carl Sagan.)

"The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."
-- Delos B. McKowan --

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