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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Both science and religion are human endeavors, trying honestly to understand things that are much bigger than humans.

I don't agree: science does not depend on humanity - any thinking beings who can observe and interact with the world around them will develop their own version of science and will come to understand the same scientific phenomena that we do or will understand.  The way we approach it will be different, but we will come to the same answers ultimately.

On the other hand, the religion that even humans would develop if starting completely from scratch will be totally different and other beings in the Universe might not even think of developing what we call religion and if they did, it would be completely different as well.

Religion may be a human endeavor, but science transcends human endeavors.

I don't agree: science does not depend on humanity - any thinking beings who can observe and interact with the world around them will develop their own version of science and will come to understand the same scientific phenomena that we do or will understand.

I used to think this, @Jim.  In some ways I still do, but I confess the anthropologists have rather convinced me that the argument is pretty tenuous.  Yes, if we believe in universal natural law, then it should be possible for any sentient to discern it.

Except there's no evidence for that claim.  Modern science is really a western cultural phenomenon, that arose out of one culture.  It's not obvious to all sentient beings, or it would have developed much sooner.   In fact, despite Western imperialism most of the humans on the planet even now don't really grok science.  "Traditional" medicine is still practiced throughout China and Africa.  Even here in the heart of Western scientific culture large swaths of people deny global warming, reject evolution, turn to crystals and magnets and neo-paganism, etc.

...despite Western imperialism most of the humans on the planet even now don't really grok science.

Science doesn't depend on what the common human knows or understands.  If we had to vote on science using the knowledge of the average human, we'd still believe the Earth was flat.  Science advances in spite of what the average human understands about it.  The average human hasn't a clue about how their cell phone works or at best they have a cursory idea of what gravity is but if put on the spot would have little ability to describe the principals of even Newtonian Gravity, let alone something like General Relativity.  It would be nice if they did grasp at least a little of it.  But they'd rather pay attention to what Justin Bieber is up to.

Ahh, Heinlein, circa the Seventies - I'm impressed!

One of the "faith" elements of science is that there are natural laws and that they are discernible. 

No such faith is required. Faith is belief without evidence. We have overwhelming evidence that nature has laws which are discernible. Science works.

Even the small violation of the assumption of predictability is what gave Einstein fits about quantum mechanics, because in some ways the shoe really can just do something different! 

Consider Diane's experiment again. Get everyone on earth to hold a shoe and drop it. Every last shoe-- billions of them-- will fall. That is not faith-- belief without evidence-- but rather acceptance of the evidence that this particular law (gravity) is consistent. What evidence is that? The shoes fell yesterday. They fell today. So we predict they will fall tomorrow. And they do. It works. So it is true. It can be tested. It can be falsified. That is science. That is reason. That is evidence. Not faith.

Honestly, once you move away from the fundamentalists, religion is very much the same. 

Whenever you say "honestly" Robert, your wooden nose gets a little longer. Religion is NOTHING like science.

There are a few things which are taken on "faith", but most things are the accumulation of experience with the world, with people, and with divinity. 

Are you saying religion is like science because it's based on accumulated experience with the world, people and-- heh-- the supernatural? Make no mistake, because that's what "divinity" is a euphemism for: supernatural beings with magical powers.

Are you making some distinction between "faith" and these alleged accumulated "experiences" with supernatural beings, Robert? Unless you have scientific proof of the latter there IS no such distinction. You just stacked two layers of faith on top of each other, wedged a 'but' between them as if there is some difference, and compared them falsely with science.

And what do you mean a few things are taken on faith in religion, Robert?

Here is the Nicene creed used by the Episcopal Church (not fundamentalists) which is not unlike the version used by Catholics and other so-called non-fundie Christians. It is considered to be the profession of the Christian faith.

If "a few" is three or four things, read the creed, and find any two lines that don't require some massive leap of faith: a belief in something completely outrageous for which there exists not a single tattered shred of proof.

It's still shocking to see Robert making comparisons between something as magnificent and useful and accomplished as science, and something as primitive and feeble and childish as religion. But there it is. I have mentioned the concept of delusion recently in a different thread.

The Profession of Faith

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

Through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and His kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Both science and religion are human endeavors, trying honestly to understand things that are much bigger than humans.

That is true, except for the parts where religion claims to be honest-- most are deeply dishonest-- or that religion is seeking understanding when most religions claim to possesses monopolies on truth and understanding-- with supernatural backing-- already.

RE: "If I were born in an Arabic country, I would understand the Koran and Islamic culture much better than I do, to be able to make a less biased observation.  I would still have a choice."

That's absolutely true - conform or face charges of apostasy and die, your choice.

Wait, I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin' --

As is frequently the case, Pinocchio cites no sources and includes no links, so consider all of his numbers suspect until or unless he does. But proceeding from what he's got:

What has my church done for humanity?

For starters, note that when Robert tallied this list of what his Church has been up to lately, he left off the international sexual and physical abuse scandal and cover-up. This in the midst of tossing frequent digs about the personal bias in others. Mind you, I don't claim these boards are free of bias, only that if bias is worth noting then bias paired with hypocrisy surely is too.

Here in the U.S. there are now over 6,800 Catholic schools (5% of the national total);

For humanity? Catholic parents raising their own kids as Catholics in private schools? Scratch that one off.

630 hospitals (11%) plus a similar number of smaller health facilities;

We'll come back to modern medicine shortly.

and 244 colleges and universities. Many of these institutions are known for excellence: seven of the leading 25 part-time law school programmes in America are Catholic (five are run by Jesuits).

That's out of 4,495 degree-granting institutions. Some of those 244 are seminaries granting mainly degrees in Theology, a non-subject that does as much for humanity as the study of Leprechaun-ology. Scratch those off.

There would be a Creation Science Museum and a Church of Scientology and a Patriot University out there "educating" people in every country and city on earth, with the operators claiming service to humanity, but for the accidents of history and money on the side of the Catholic Church.

What would they deserve credit for? Education?

Education is not a product of "Bob's Church". That is, unless Bob is implying his Church invented education, public education, higher education, or most subjects taught in these institutions besides things like Religious Studies.

A quarter of the 100 top-ranked hospitals are Catholic.

Now we get come to the part where Homer Simpson steals an award from the trophy case down at the bowling alley, crosses out the recipient's name, and writes "Homer" on it with a black crayon.

Medical science is a product of science, not "Bob's Church". The medical expertise in those hospitals was provided by doctors who learned those skills in medical schools, not in Catholic seminaries. Catholic hospitals accept private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid like any other hospitals do, so most of the cost of the care comes from outside sources, not Catholic charities. 

Yet, Bob points to medical science, medical care, and the cost of it all, and says look at what MY Church did for you.

It matters not one bit even if 100% of the doctors and nurses and staff at those hospitals are practicing Catholics. Take away the Catholicism and the patients suffer not in the slightest. Take away modern medicine and all success they ever had as a hospital is eradicated.

The Church deserves credit for operating these places. The credit behind their success and what they do for humanity belongs to science, not to Bob's Church.

If you really care about the children, and the sick in Africa and all the rest, why aren't you there?  We are.

Unless Bob jetted over to write this from Africa or somewhere else in the developing world, he isn't there himself (his profile says he is in the US). Why would personal travel to such places be necessary to help? And unless he's suggesting it is, where does Bob get off assuming lack of care or failure to lift a finger to help the developing world on ANY of our parts?

The many governments of the world (including the secular government of the United States) which represent us DO provide financial, medical, food, economic, trade, military, and diplomatic aid to the developing world.

Beyond that, there are numerous secular charities, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates is an agnostic), Doctors Without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, Oxfam International, The United Nations Children's Fund, Kiva (microfinancing), and Goodwill.

We're supposed to think Bob doesn't understand that? Of course not. He does. He was attacking the character of an atheist because she is an atheist; something he chides others about doing with Catholics, albeit falsely. More hypocrisy.

For humanity? Catholic parents raising their own kids as Catholics in private schools? Scratch that one off.

The Catholic schools in American urban centers like Cleveland and Chicago are educating kids who are 80% or more non-Catholics.  They're doing it with donated money just to try to give kids a safe and happy school environment in places where the public schools are failing.

Of course, worldwide there are many places where Catholic schools are the only schools, or the only schools that will admit girls...

That is, unless Bob is implying his Church invented education, public education, higher education, or most subjects taught in these institutions.

Have you ever been to a graduation?  Ever noticed that the graduates are all wearing ceremonial monks' robes?   Why, even when we give Ph.D.s in science I get to put a monk's hood on my students!   Who else do you think invented the western university system?

The medical expertise in those hospitals was provided by doctors who learned those skills in medical schools, not in Catholic seminaries.

Certainly, though some of them were in Catholic medical schools. 

However the hospital that they work in is provided by the Church.  In the U.S., of course we take insurance.  At the same time, we also offer insurance and have put together insurance pools to help get people insured.  That's how you do medical care in the U.S. 

Most of those Catholic hospitals of course got started because only the Church was available in those areas to provide medical care, just as right now in many countries across the world the Church is one of the few consistent on-the-ground organizations available.

There are lots of groups that do good work.  That in no way diminishes the work that we do as a Church, and of course many of our members are founders of such NGOs or volunteer for such NGO work in part because of what the Church has taught them.  Melinda Gates is a devout Catholic, and I think just about everyone knows that she is the driving force behind the founding and work of the Gates Foundation.  Doctors without borders is a wonderful group (with many Catholic physicians, and Catholic and Jewish co-founders IIRC); Oxfam is a great group founded by Quakers, Bread for the World by a Catholic, and Goodwill of course was founded by a Methodist minister.

I had no desire to "attack the character" of anyone, of course, and if @Suzanne took it that way I apologize.   My only point is that if you are going to accuse anyone or any group of not doing enough to help the poor in Africa, then it is perhaps worth considering what you yourself have done to help the poor in Africa first.

Well put. May compassion and objectivity win over anger. (Oh, even in atheists.)

The Catholic schools in American urban centers like Cleveland and Chicago are educating kids who are 80% or more non-Catholics.  They're doing it with donated money just to try to give kids a safe and happy school environment in places where the public schools are failing.

Let's assume again you are being truthful (a rare event). As a percentage of all the Catholic schools in the US, how many are doing this? 100%? 50%? 1%?

I don't suppose whatever source of information that says 80% of Catholic school kids in Cleveland are "non-Catholic" expands upon that enough to say what sort of "non-Catholics" they are. I rather doubt it.

Why does it make a difference?

About a third of the kids in the Catholic schools I went to were also the children of "non-Catholic" parents. They still said all the same prayers, participated in religion classes, came to mass on holy days, wore the same uniforms, and were treated exactly the same way: i.e. were being raised Catholic. 

Would anyone care to guess what percentage of those children of "non-Catholic" parents were the children of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, Atheists, and otherwise non-Christian parents?

None.

They were all the children of Christian parents: Christians raising their children as Christians (but not caring so much that it happened to be Catholic-branded Christianity).

For humanity? Please. It's still scratched off.

Of course, worldwide there are many places where Catholic schools are the only schools, or the only schools that will admit girls...

Catholic schools participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church, so religious education (as a Catholic of course) is integrated into the core subject of the curriculum.

If these schools gave kids an entirely secular education, no strings attached, I would be truly impressed. But they don't. So I'm not.

You will be Catholic or you will be ignorant. For humanity indeed.

Have you ever been to a graduation?  Ever noticed that the graduates are all wearing ceremonial monks' robes?   Why, even when we give Ph.D.s in science I get to put a monk's hood on my students!   Who else do you think invented the western university system?

Please do tell us Bob, you're not implying by these statements that the Church (as I said) invented education, higher education, and most subjects taught in these institutions.

Not the "university system". Not monk's hoods. Not some other dodge. But what I actually said: education itself and the subjects of higher education: such as archeology, astrophysics, biochemistry, the biological and biomedical sciences, chemistry, computer science, genetics, geological sciences, materials science, mathematics, neuroscience, pathology, pharmacology, physical sciences, physics, plant sciences, psychology, zoology, and the list goes on and on.

If you're actually going to credit the Church with that, do it gently, as my abdominals still ache from the last round of laughing I did at that 'Pope Frank believes Papal infallibility is silly' thing.

"The medical expertise in those hospitals was provided by doctors who learned those skills in medical schools, not in Catholic seminaries.-- Gallop"  Certainly, though some of them were in Catholic medical schools. 

Which means nothing for exactly the same reasons: take away the Catholicism at those medical schools and they'll still be turning out doctors. Take away the medical science and they never turn out a doctor again.

However the hospital that they work in is provided by the Church.  In the U.S., of course we take insurance.  At the same time, we also offer insurance and have put together insurance pools to help get people insured.  That's how you do medical care in the U.S. 

I credited the Church for operating the hospital. The credit for their success as a hospital, including the medical expertise they provide, the quality of that expertise, and the cost of it, goes to medical science and the US health insurance system, not the Church.

Most of those Catholic hospitals of course got started because only the Church was available in those areas to provide medical care, just as right now in many countries across the world the Church is one of the few consistent on-the-ground organizations available.

Evidence, please.

There are lots of groups that do good work.  That in no way diminishes the work that we do as a Church,

I didn't say the work of other groups diminishes what the Church does.

You overstated what the Church does for humanity, left out the recent harm it did, and implied that an atheist is doing nothing to help the developing world because she is an atheist.

I simply set the record straight. The Church deserves some credit for what it does, but it does some of what you listed in its own interest, deserves no credit for other things you listed, and secular organizations and atheists DO make efforts to help the developing world.

Melinda Gates is a devout Catholic, and I think just about everyone knows that she is the driving force behind the founding and work of the Gates Foundation. 

No, Bob. That's just you overstating the role of Church again. The Gates' ability to do philanthropic work on a global scale is a result of Bill's personal fortune, not his wife's Catholicism. The Gates Foundation is a secular charity. They did not hand that $36 billion over to Catholic charities.

Doctors without borders is a wonderful group (with many Catholic physicians, and Catholic and Jewish co-founders IIRC); Oxfam is a great group founded by Quakers, and Goodwill of course was founded by a Methodist minister.

The secular charities I listed (regardless of who founded them and who works for them) are examples of groups that provide much-needed assistance to the developing world. And that's all. No evangelizing. No holy books. No religious education. No strings attached. The members and donors include atheists and theists alike.

That's what I call: for humanity.

I had no desire to "attack the character" of anyone, of course, and if @Suzanne took it that way I apologize.   My only point is that if you are going to accuse anyone or any group of not doing enough to help the poor in Africa, then it is perhaps worth considering what you yourself have done to help the poor in Africa first.

What have YOU done to help the poor in Africa, Bob? Were any strings attached to that help once it got there?

@Bob - I am so sorry, I didn't know of the good works you were doing in Africa - I thought you were ensconced in a catholic University - my mistake.

If I were born in an Arabic country, I would understand the Koran and Islamic culture much better than I do -

Understanding a book, doesn't make it true. I understand the bible, doesn't make it true, but even more importantly it doesn't make it right. I understand my book on Goblins, doesn't make it true. There are also ex-muslims on this site - they understand the koran really well, do not want to follow a violent, misogynistic pedophile.

Muslims used to be a vibrant, educated group of inventors, of builders of beautiful artifacts, of respect for women - but have returned to the old ways of religion - violence, stone them, or cut off their heads, if you disagree with Alah. Exactly what catholics used to do. Burn at stake stoning, drowning, general torture. Men women, children.

As part of your general education, read up on Peter the Hermit, who claimed a letter was written by god and delivered to him personally by Jesus. Just wouldn't wash these days, by catholics, but is still being claimed by certain christians.

The biggest charlatans of all are the people of rank in the catholic church. They cannot believe what they preach, or else why fight to keep criminal activity away from authorities - they have to protect 'The Firm',that is losing numbers in their thousands, so the catholic church is doing what it has always done, preyed on the gullible and superstitious people in third world countries, where there is very little, if any education.

As a supposed intellectual, have you not been even a tad curious about where the version of your bible came from. Have you no want of knowledge, to at least become a good teacher, of where the bible that you adhere to came from. It is very traceable, and really should have been part of your education - but seemingly not.

Without you doing your homework - you fail. And until you do your homework, you are not being truthful, and lose any creditability you may wish to gain by calling yourself professor.

You did very well in keeping Legions of Christ and Opus Dai from your door, pity the vatican didn't do likewise. Both of these cults are practicing their hypocrisy world wide. Yes, there are good people in both groups, but the good gullible are being dragged into the pit, along with the bad. Close these cults down, by vatican decree, and move the others around, just like the catholic church does with pedophiles. They have had so much practice at moving people around, I am sure they could find the time to do it for some good people, too, don't you think.

You, dear sir, are a big part of the problem, along with a few thousand others, of being cogs in the wheel, of being sheep,of protecting these hypocrites.

A question for you - You, as a practicing catholic, what are you doing to expose the pedophilia in your church. Do you tell your students about the untold wealth of the catholic church, do you speak of the lifestyle of these people in the hierarchy, the multi million dollar apartments they live in - the sumptuous travel, the housekeepers, the male prostitutes. Do you speak of all the inaccuracies in your particular version of the bible. Do you quote to them, out of your bible, the evil verses, or do you just stick to God loves you' scenario?

@Bob - I am so sorry, I didn't know of the good works you were doing in Africa - I thought you were ensconced in a catholic University - my mistake.

No, I work at a major public research university, not a Catholic one.  But I did write a blog post about my travel to East Africa and my work with some of the church and folks there. 

As a supposed intellectual, have you not been even a tad curious about where the version of your bible came from.

Why would you assume that I don't know where our version of the Bible came from?  I'm not a biblical scholar by any means, but I think I've been clear that my Church compiled the thing over time from a variety of disparate sources.  The history and the mishmash of different sources is really quite interesting, as is the extent to which apocryphal sources like the book of Enoch enter into Christian understanding.   Which part of that would you like to explore and discuss?

lose any creditability you may wish to gain by calling yourself professor.

You should never base an assessment of credibility on the title "Professor" or any other title for that matter.  Certainly I don't.  I just happened to type that in when I joined because my students tend to call me "Dr. Bob".  I don't know, perhaps I was feeling formal or maybe I was worried you all would think I was a surgeon, so I just put in "Professor Robert".

You did very well in keeping Legions of Christ and Opus Dai from your door, pity the vatican didn't do likewise.

As I mentioned, I would agree with you about suppressing the Legionaries of Christ.  Not because most of them aren't good men, but because there's such a taint on the order from the behavior of its founder.   Opus Dei from my limited contact with people in it is essentially an intellectual and committed group that supported Eastern European Catholic lay people who were living under atheist communist repression for decades and had to meet in secret out of fear for themselves and their families.  I at least know some real people in Opus Dei.  Do you?

Now, a question for you - as an American, what are you doing to expose the pedophilia in your public schools?  The failure of your social service agencies to protect kids?   Do you tell your friends about the untold wealth of the unions or the hedge fund bankers?  Do you speak of the lifestyle of the Hollywood elite with contempt - the multi-million dollar homes, the sumptuous travel, the housekeepers, the male and female prostitutes?  Or do you like all Americans worship them on television?   How about the American politicians with the same perqs?   Do you point out the inaccuracies in your Constitution and Supreme Court interpretations?  Do you quote people, out of American history books or the laws of your state the evil stuff?  Or do you just stick to the good stuff for the most part?

Those would be the sort of objections a pro-Sharia law Islamic fundamentalist might ask an American. When you ask those sorts of things about the Catholic Church, you are just emulating that sort of highly biased fundamentalist fanatic.

You, and they, are right of course.  American politicians and other financial and social elites are in many cases wealthy, self-centered, even wicked.  So are Catholic clerics, though they tend not to be anywhere near as wealthy or as wicked. 

None of that means that we should replace constitutional democracy, just as it doesn't mean that Catholic teaching isn't perfectly valid.

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