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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Actually, I was thinking in terms of ancient Greece.  I agree NAMBLA is mostly a canard, though the priest @Suzanne keeps bringing up was apparently actually involved with that group when it existed.

They want to change the law, so they can legally start fucking younger boys!

And I get criticized for loving the taste of ice-cold vodka in the morning!

You are always very thoughtful and well-reasoned, @Kris.  I appreciate your willingness to engage in the discussion, and be genuinely reflective.

I think that saying something is "wrong" is at some level a moral absolutist argument, don't you think?  It implies pretty clearly that you intend your version of morality should apply not just to yourself, but to others.

Do you think that's OK, to make judgments in that way?  To "impose your morality" on others, so to speak?  If so, why?

What exactly are the "intrinsic merits and faults" that you are weighing, and how do you do that weighing?

In ancient Greece, pederasty was a socially normative "mentoring" relationship with adolescent boys.  We really don't have any hard data on whether or how much it harmed those children; like most human endeavors there was probably both harm and benefit.   Our modern data on harm comes solely from cultures where sexual relationships of any sort with children is strongly taboo, so that the only men pursuing it are those who are willing to be criminals.   That really doesn't provide sufficient data to make any sort of objective decision about a different culture and population.  Certainly not to conclude that an entire cultural practice in a relatively successful culture was "wrong."

Are you willing to state that to be the case regardless?  If so, why?

No, it's an arguable position.

Ah.  OK, thanks.  I understand I think.  We may be using slightly different definitions of "moral absolutist".

'My way' is defined by my moral convictions, not personal desire to assert myself over others.

I had you up to this point.  I will agree that law is different than morality; it's an oblique construct.   It's more about defining/organizing efficient societal norms.  "Creating" the legal/societal world we live in, as you say.  

I didn't understand when you said passing a law (affecting others) means you got your way, and your way is defined by your moral convictions.  That to me is imposing your moral convictions on others.  Can you explain that some more?

I agree we use "wrong" in a variety of contexts, and also with varying levels of implied contingency.  The long route to the grocery store may be "wrong", with the implied contingency that you want the most time efficient rather than the more scenic route.   The issue in terms of morality would seem to be at what point do we advocate or intervene in the choices of others?  We wouldn't in the case of a choice about the route to the store; we would intervene, perhaps with violent force if necessary, if someone chose to rape a child.   That's the point when we are asserting that our morality is objectively true in some way.  It justifies interfering with the freedom of others.

There are some factors which are fairly objective.

These seem more problematic, though perhaps you're encompassing that with the "fairly."

From a medical perspective, anal penetrative sex is something that even adult bodies are not suited for.  Are you also making an argument about gay male sex here?   The bigger issue is that there are many types of molestation that don't involve penetration.  To my knowledge, whether it was the ancient Greeks or the deviant modern priests, penetration was by no measure universal.  I'm not even sure it applied in the majority of cases.  So we're still left with the question of whether fondling, groping, and all that other stuff is OK or not.

Children who are capable of becoming pregnant are, generally speaking, perfectly well equipped biologically to deal with pregnancy.  If a child is not mentally/socially prepared, then is that the society's fault? 

That same objection would seem to apply to your other points as well.  In aboriginal peoples, kids are perfectly capable of assessing risks, making choices, and all the rest.  Bar Mitzvahs and other rights of passage into adulthood at age 12 were the norm for humanity into the industrial age.  Many of our great-grandparents got married at ages that would be considered "children" now (and many of our middle school aged children are experimenting on their own without the benefit of adult guidance).

In short, those "objective" notions seem really very culturally subjective. 

Then why bring it up? You can speculate all you like, but if there is no path to move forward from that speculation, it's just a fun pastime, not an argument.

Because it's an example of a cultural norm not contaminated by Judeo-Christendom.  Our own notion in Western culture that this behavior is "wrong" is the product of the spread of a particular religious tradition.   While we cannot make claims about individual Greek children, widespread long-term damage to children should have macro effects on Greek society, and there seems to be no evidence of that.  Ancient Greece was, by most measures of "civilization", very prosperous.

So it's an example of a culture where no one began by assuming this is "wrong" for religious reasons, and where there's no evidence of harm.   It serves therefore as an example of a possible society if we remove "Sky God" ways of thinking.

" Most atheists know as little science as most Christians know as little theology."

What G fails to get is that many people are atheist because of what they know of religion, which is often more than most religious types, not necessarily because of what they know about science. There are scientist of every religious belief that go to a church/mosque/synagogue/etc. every day and bend both beliefs to make them fit, so religion and science are not mutually exclusive. As an atheist I don't believe science is a religion, but if it were I bet they would have one hell of a service.

Without reading past the first page of comments, I felt really sorry for the OP.

I don't know about their education, but where I went to school we actually did the three sciences. Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Greenwood Academy, Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom. I'll not comment on the education system here in the USA.

We were educated in, encouraged to take part in all experiments and required to draw our conclusions from them. Even took exams to confirm our recollections at the end of the years.

To assume that I am just acting on faith is probably the most insulting comment I've heard with regard to my education. And the education system in my home country. Not to mention the hard work and repetitions of the scientists who have shaped the modern world and brought humanity out of the stone age.

Now on to reading the rest of the onslaught that I'm sure my fellow site members have provided for my/our entertainment.

@Bob - Wrong question to ask me - The thing I could not do, is put myself in the position of a boy or girl being raped by an adult male - with the priest singing in their ear, 'Jesus loves You'. I cannot imagine what it would be like, to be raped for years, then told you are a liar, and none of that happened, it was just part of a very elaborate imagination. When a child actually found the courage to tell his story, when many of them found out, in a lot of cases, by accident, that other boys had also been raped, by the priest that had raped him.

I cannot imagine the depths of despair these thousands of, mainly boys went through, how it ruined lives, how many suicided, how many became drug abusers, how many could never have a normal relationship.

So, dear Bob, you would be wise, and as part of your education, to realise the depths that thousands of your catholic priests sunk to, before you ask that question. The depths that Bishops like Robert Finn, who is not, to this day, in jail for aiding and abetting, went to, to cover up these crimes.

What would it be like, Bob. Maybe you could imagine what it would be like, being at least male, to be the victim of a liar, who fooled parents into believing that the 'priest' was a protector of children, and 'gave' over their sons and daughters to very practiced criminals, charlatans, cowards, a systematic rapist, hiding their 'authentic self' behind the guise of a good, honourable and trusted person, a man of the cloth.

Masters of 'Dodge and Deflect'. Nothing is going to change with the latest pope. He could remove all these dregs, but will not do so.

I have stuck to the US, as you seem to be, in your bubble, ignorant that this is going on over the entire catholic community, in every catholic country.

The following is the court case of Oliver O'Grady - who was given a seven year sentence, which is a disgrace. I can't get through a whole video. There are many of these, produced through news items by journalists.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HhT59yFdUE

The sad thing is, that the men who rape children has been made by the system of the catholic church.

And now, this same system is moving into third world countries, where the children and families, once again trust the catholic religion and it's priests as their saviour, as their key to heaven, are completely controlled by the local priest.

No one will hear their screams.

When a theist comes onto this site, I am usually taken to their dark side, of the crimes against humanity, and the excuses for abhorrent behavior, with the theist head hitting his knees. Can't do it anymore. It does my head in that these people are allowed to walk the earth, and are protected by the vatican and the law. Shame on all the catholics who are sitting on their hands, and pretend it does not affect them, personally, so why should they care. Many catholics are screaming about it - just read a few catholic newspapers, such as the following -

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/survivors-group-if-francis-ser...

There goes that clunk again - head hitting knees.

@ Suzanne, was there an answer in there?

Why is it wrong?  Is it just because it gives you personal pleasure being self-righteous and condemning others?   I know theists who functionally treat questions of right and wrong that way, more's the pity.  It's wrong if done by others so that I can gloat about it.  Perhaps you picked up that bad habit from your days as a believer.

The Australians participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of children killed, maimed, left homeless or without family, impoverished.  The anguish, the depths of despair, those poor maimed and dead children, those grieving parents. 

Was it wrong?   Why?

Did you sign any petitions?  Energize the "grass roots"?  Should we be heaping shame on you?  Does your head hit your knees, as you pretend it doesn't affect you personally?  Were you the victim of a liar? Believing that politicians were there to do the right thing, serve your best interest?   Do you still participate in politics and believe in democracy, after all the heinous evil it has done to innocent children and their families?   Or are you the hypocrite you see in others?

A lot more children were maimed and killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than were molested by priests.  No doubt many more were raped or abused.  What are you doing about it?

"A lot more children were maimed and killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than were molested by priests." -Bob

What evidence/statistics supports that assertion? There has been priestly pedophilia going on for hundreds of years.

The Burnham et. al. (2006) study of Iraq war mortality is considered the most methodologically sound estimates; for the first 3 years of the war it estimated 650K deaths, 79,000 of them children under the age of 14.  Of course the Iraq mess has continued since then, so 100,000 children dead is not unreasonable.  Medical authorities estimate injury rate runs 3x fatality rate or higher (it's about 20 times higher for U.S. soldiers, but our medical care is a lot better).  Permanent / disabling injuries run at least equal to fatalities, with brain injuries and long term post-traumatic stress being much worse.  Let's be conservative, though, and settle on about 160,000 killed or maimed, and another 160,000 seriously hurt.  This does not include children damaged in other ways, like being raped, being orphaned, etc.

The Jay Report listed 10.7K individuals making allegations of child abuse in a 50-year period in the U.S., 6.7K of which were substantiated in some way.  

If we assume the problem is worldwide with the same frequency as in the U.S., then it's 6.7K / 78M Catholics or 0.008% of the Catholic population.  We've got a lot of people, though the ratio of priests to population is much lower than the U.S. in much of the world.  Let's ignore that and take the worst case, 103K victims over a 50 year period as a gross estimate.  Keep in mind that the data from the Jay Report show that the abuse rate spiked in the mid-'60s through mid-'80s, corresponding to broader American social trends.  Thus the estimated rate we get from U.S. figures may be a significant overestimate for the rest of the world and for other time periods.

Even if it isn't, it would take 150 years at modern population levels for the number of worldwide kids molested by priests to equal killed and maimed kids as a result of the Iraq war alone.  Adjusting for population, we're looking at hundreds of years.  Keep in mind that's "molested", which includes behaviors that stopped well short of rape.

Of course, we have no evidence that priestly pedophilia has been going on for hundreds of years.  As mentioned, the U.S. reports showed a substantial spike during the "sexual revolution".  Other factors, like smaller communities without a lot of mobility that existed in prior centuries which can make abuse harder to perpetrate may also suggest that modern rates are too high to make for good historical estimates.

And now we have it straight from Bob's fingers to our eyes - priestly pedophilia isn't so bad, because there's something worse!

@Bob b - Didn't read one of your comments - bad Suzanne -

About Gays wanting to marry - What do you think Bob?

Why should they be able to? Society has a choice to marry or not to marry - I don't understand the theists point of view on this. They love each other, and could well be - dare I say, sshhh, say it quietly - having sex, therefore committing a sin, so why aren't christians clamouring for them to get married, and therefore not be committing sin in the eyes of theists. I have been married and divorced, and have been a tart, not married for the last thirty years. Tart is much more fun than being married :)

I prefer not to be married - that is my choice, so if Gays want to marry or not - their choice, certainly nobody else's.

Still haven't answered the other question about contraception, Bob. Yay or Nay?

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