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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@Gallup, it's truly amusing to have a non-Catholic play fundamentalist and tell a Catholic what it is he believes.  Do you pick up high school chemistry texts and quote them to tell research chemists that they're wrong about chemistry? 

I'm going to have to start making up things that atheists must believe and quote some English translation of a French text.

The Catechism is written in Latin, and only translated into English.  "Catechism" translates roughly as "teaching text for beginners" who are called catechumens.  So the Catechism is just a compilation of stuff we think is important ("fundamental") for beginners.   There have been dozens of them.  One of the most widely used in the first half of last century in the U.S. was referred to as the Baltimore Catechism.  A lot of the stuff in it was good, some of it has been re-thought and de-emphasized.

The reference you want with respect to "infallibility" (which is probably better translated as "inerrancy") is Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican council.  Again, the original is in Latin and very much in the cultural language of the Church.  There are OK English translations, but they don't quite convey the proper sense.  Here's the relevant text that describes the doctrine:

The body of the faithful as a whole... cannot err in matters of belief.  Thanks to a supernatural sense of the faith which characterizes the People as a whole, it manifests this unerring quality when from the bishops down to the last member of the laity it shows universal agreement in matters of faith and morals...

This is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in the faith, he proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.

The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of bishops...

You will note that this is the language I have been using all along, which is also copied into the Catechism in the parts you skipped over.

I'm not getting into this thing between you and Gallup, Bob, despite the fact that it appears to have begun over a remark I made, regarding papal infallibility, simply because, a) Gallup is perfectly capable of holding his own and doesn't need my help, and b) Gallup has clearly done extensive research which, at the moment, I have neither the time nor inclination to duplicate.

However, in your response to Gallup, you made a statement with which I would like to beg askance, that when the bishops convened, and made a unanimous decision, the results of that decision are indeed infallible.

Now I have no idea how many bishops there are in the world, hundreds? thousands? You would know better than I, and looking it up would serve no purpose as regards my question.

You're clearly an intelligent man, Bob, well-read, well-educated, and for that reason, not only do I not understand your belief in religion - ANY religion - but I'm even more amazed at how you can possibly believe that the unanimous conclusion reached by however many old virgins, could possibly attain any degree of infallibility. It boggles the mind.

If you were a Falwell, a Robertson, a Shirley Phelps, or any other of those basket cases, I could much more easily understand it.

Let me toss in an example, and since this is an afterthought and I have only 11 minutes to do it, I may not make it.

You've stated that Gallop doesn't understand how this infallibility thing works, that one would have to know much more than he has been able to glean, in order to do so, and that may or may not be true.

However, I HAVE extensively studied the 325 CE Council of Nicea, in which it was "infallibly" decided that a trinity existed, consisting of old Yahweh, Yeshua, and the Holy Spook - firmly, inexorably, infallibly established, despite the many references I haven't time to list, present in the Gospels, in which Yeshua admits that he would have no power except that given to him by his Father, who prays in Gethsemane to god to release him from his agreement, his quoting of the Psalm, "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?" - not to mention that the entire purpose of the sacrifice of a "perfect lamb" is to appease a god, which, according to the Council, would have been himself.

There was as much, if not more arm-twisting going on in that Council as happens regularly in Congress or Parliament, yet somehow, we are to conclude that that decision was true for all time, divinely inspired and infallible. Grimm's Fairy Tales are more credible.

Good heavens!   You're doing the isolated quote-verses out of context thing that the fundamentalist Christians do when trying to prove a point.   Have you noticed how much your thinking and approach resembles theirs?  Why you even seem to believe in a literal Noah's Ark!

For just one example, slavery in nomadic middle eastern tribes was not the chattel slavery of North America.  It was closer to indentured servitude.  You could "sell" yourself as a laborer, or "sell" your son or daughter as a laborer (which later became the practice of apprenticing).   These are cultural and economic practices.  So reading that Exodus chapter in that light, what you have is an effort to make that cultural practice more humane.    I personally believe prostitution is degrading of women, yet it's legal in Nevada, people choose to do it voluntarily for money.  So Nevada has laws to regulate it.    In Israel, you can buy someone's labor, but you are responsible for their upkeep.  You can re-sell their labor, but not to foreigners who may not follow our laws or who may abuse them.  If you marry them they are your full wife, not a concubine.  That all seems fairly progressive for nomadic tribes of the day.

The point is that we can look at the works of Leonardo da Vinci and can certainly point out how many ways he got anatomy wrong, or how his proposed devices are obviously stupid and would not work based on what we know now.   Or we can look at the works of da Vinci and say "wow, he really did quite well for his day, and was remarkably prescient about a number of things."   Most smart people choose the latter.

For the rest, as I've said repeatedly, absolutely there is corruption in the Vatican bank.  Absolutely, members of the church hierarchy have at many times been foolish and at some points been wicked, and most of the time been arrogant.   Cover-ups, corruption, cases of murder, rape, intrigue... yep, all real.  Yep, absolutely, they should be condemned.

No, they in no way affect the question as to whether or not the theory or principles are correct, any more than corruption in U.S. banks means that capitalism is wicked, the presence of corrupt politicians and coverups means that democracy is not a good form of government or scientists committing fraud or murder affect whether science is a good descriptor of the universe.

To be honest intellectually you must address the merits of an idea independent of the character of individual proponents of the idea, just as morally you must not ascribe the failings of some members of the group to the entire group.

Your faith must be in something greater than what humanity has created. It must be in something greater than what the institutions of the world have created.

You see your faith is meant to keep your mind focused on a Greater Power that resides within you and within the minds and hearts of all who dwell here. It is this power within you and around you that must be the focus and substance of your faith.

For consider, if your faith is based upon the manifestations of life—the creations of humanity, what human institutions have developed—then how can this faith be sustained into the future? What will happen to your faith when nations clash, when terrible acts are committed against innocent people in the name of God and religion? What will happen to your faith when people go hungry and starvation increases as the world’s supply of fresh water and food declines due to environmental degradation and overuse? What will happen to your faith when holy sites are desecrated, when places beloved by people are destroyed through turmoil, through competition, conflict and war?

What will happen to your faith within these scenarios? If you believe that God is the author of all that takes place, how will you justify these things? How will you keep God holy, merciful and beneficial if you think God is the author of human behavior and human conflict? There must be a clarification here. There must be a greater understanding, or faith will fail you if it has not done so already.

There are many people today whose faith has already been shattered. They have grown cynical and their fear has become justified. They do not believe in a greater promise for humanity. And if they are religious, they will think that humanity will suffer under the weight of God’s recrimination and punishment.

They think these things because they have lost faith in what is most essential in life. They are unaware of the great endowment of Knowledge—a greater intelligence that has been given to the human family that resides within each heart, as a potential within each person. They have seen their dreams be shattered through human conflict, corruption and degradation. And now their heart is closed and their minds are dark. They will easily succumb to the Greater Darkness in the world that will speak to their fear, to their anger and to their distrust. They are unaware of the great endowment from the Creator of all life.

RE: "What will happen to your faith when people go hungry and starvation increases as the world’s supply of fresh water and food declines due to environmental degradation and overuse?"

Some of that, Lionel, can definitely be attributed to Humanity's greed and self-absorption, but I can't help wondering if some of it is due to those who believe there's no need to conserve or to protect the environment, as, in their minds, the "second coming" is right around the corner --

Already, forces of change have been unleashed on the world, which will alter, in some cases radically, the circumstances of large parts of the human family. Even if we were to alter course, even if we were to restrain ourselves and our activities, we have already set in motion forces we cannot change.

Some may call these forces “acts of God”. Some may think that God is bringing violent weather and drought conditions as a kind of punishment, but it is not true. These represent our impact upon the environment.

If you empty the well, the well is dry. If you do not farm correctly, the soil blows away. If you burn too many things into the environment, the weather changes. If you overexploit the world for resources, the resources disappear. It does not take a genius to figure this out. It takes common sense, but common sense is not common, it seems. And so here we are facing the consequences of humanity’s destructive impact upon the world, and these impacts will continue.

God is not creating them though God has created the mechanisms of life and set in motion the geological forces that have shaped the physical Universe and continue to shape it in an evolutionary pattern. Some can blame God for the fact that there are hurricanes. “Why did you create hurricanes?” Some may ask, but God only created the conditions under which hurricanes emerge. That was before there was any life in this world. But God did not create this hurricane to punish humanity. This is foolishness. This is ignorance.

If humanity continues in its present course, it will generate more events of this kind. Large parts of the world will be heavily damaged, and great droughts will fall upon the arid regions, driving people out. Nations will collapse. There will be millions of refugees with nowhere to go.

Humanity will lose its most valuable resources through overexploitation, through ignorant use, through a heedlessness of the future. Not thinking ahead, humanity is going to take everything now, robbing our children of their future, creating a future of unimaginable difficulties. There is no punishment here. It is merely consequence.

GENESIS . . . last chapter

In the end,
There was Earth, and it was with form and beauty.
And Man dwelt upon the lands of the Earth, among the meadows and the trees, and he said,
“Let us build our dwellings in this place of beauty.”
And he built cities and covered the Earth with concrete and steel.
And the meadows were gone.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the second day, Man looked upon the waters of the Earth.
And Man said, “Let us put our wastes into the waters,
That the dirt will be washed away.”
And Man did.
And the waters became polluted and foul in their smell.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the third day, Man looked upon the forests of the Earth
And saw that they were beautiful.
And Man said, “Let us cut the timber for our homes and grind the wood for our use.”
And Man did.
And the lands became barren and the trees were gone.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the fourth day, Man saw that animals were in abundance
And ran in the fields and played in the sun.
And Man said, “Let us cage these animals for our amusement and kill them for our sport.”
And Man did.
And there were no more animals on the face of the Earth.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the fifth day, Man breathed the sweet air of the Earth.
And Man said, “Let us dispose of our wastes into the air
So the winds might blow them away.”
And Man did.
And the air became filled with the smoke and the fumes could not be blown away.
And the air became heavy with dust, and choked and burned.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the sixth day, Man saw himself, in skins of many colors;
And speaking many tongues and languages, and Man feared.
And that which he feared, he hated.
And Man said, “Let us build great machines of war and destroy these, lest they destroy us.”
And Man built great machines, and the Earth was fired with the rage of great wars.
And Man said, “It is good.”

On the seventh day, Man rested from his labors
And the Earth was still,
For Man no longer dwelt upon the Earth.
And it was good.

Kenneth Ross
Reprinted from The Idaho Wildlife Review
May/June 1967

• Humanity’s supernatural statements say nothing about nature —

Unless they are treated as testable hypotheses, each falsifiable. However the appropriate testing procedures belong to contemporary science — not 17th century Puritan theology, not 13th century RC theology, and not 11th century Muslim religious philosophy.

Nature itself is neither meaningful nor meaningless. Neither a source of comfort, as in natural theology, nor a source of despair, as in existentialism. Both comfort and despair are interpretive errors rooted in the same mistaken presupposition that meaning or purpose could be found by searching “the starry heavens” for divine agents or by quarrying human inwardness for “the moral law within [us].”

Finally, the existence (or non-existence) of any divinity is irrelevant to our right to be members of a secular, open society.

Even if the immoral, vicious, paternalistic 1-god of the Big-3 Monster Theisms could be proven to exist, even if old Tom Paine’s white-washed deistic divinity could be established by Reason — we have the sovereign right to reject any claim that it must be acknowledged, accepted, or worshiped.

@Bob - Last time I looked popes or archbishops or bishops etc.etc. are not Democratically elected - as are politicians. When a politician has committed a crime, they are kicked out. Popes just keep on going, ignoring the heartache and destitution of families, just as long as the brand keeps going.

Very different.

"Popes just keep on going" and going and going and going...Pope Everyready. :D

Well, popes are elected, but you are correct in that they cannot be easily removed.  Of course, the same is true of U.S. Supreme Court justices (and all judges on the federal bench).  They just keep going...

I'm curious if you think modern American democracy isn't ignoring the heartache and destitution of families?  How many millions of people do we have permanently unemployed?   How many hundreds of thousands of innocents did we kill in Iraq over a lie (and over the strong objections of the pope)?  How many tortured?  How many politicians and presidents have committed crimes?   Can you name one president who has actually been impeached and convicted, rather than resigning?

I'm not sure you really want to hold democracy up as the paragon of virtue.  With 90% of Americans in agreement, our elected officials still can't pass a basic background check bill for gun purchases.

@Bob - Yep, the pope has only recently been demoted - not infallible anymore, not god's representative on earth anymore. Catholics know about all the criminal cover ups by successive popes, and were leaving in droves. Wonder if he took a paycut?


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