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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Well, several of the people I mentioned I know or knew personally, so of course I know what they would claim.

Of course their belief system promotes modesty.  False perhaps to begin with, and then learned and made more personal through practice and habit.   A measure of modesty is necessary to actually care about and to serve others.  Ego, as in the unrestrained ego of some politicians, does not allow for true service to others or the community.

So the operation of the belief system has achieved its desired end and the result is efficacious.   You dismiss it because you don't understand it or your own bias gets in the way.  If it is efficacious, then does it matter that you can't see some things?  Electricity works, and we can't see electrons.  We claim they exist solely because we see the effects.

@Bob - It is not because of the charlatans and liars that I am an Atheist, it is because I could not follow or revere or think wonderful the god of your bible. Then came the analysing of the bible, adam and eve, virgin birth, where did the population of the earth come from, two people? Mmmm - bit of a worry, that. Very basic stuff.

From the ten commandments - "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Mmmm - what other gods - this was my initial drop of faith into the abyss, and the abyss filled up with more and more of the stupidity and evilness, of the bible.

'All fair and noble impulses of humanity, the dreams of poets and the agonies of martyrs, are shackled and bound in the service of organized and predatory greed.'

Upton Sinclair - 1878-1968

I have known one good priest, a lovely man, who would have a beer with my Dad, after Mass. My Dad was an Anglican and a Mason - no matter - they never spoke religion. The next good christian was a Nun. She would come around for coffee. No talk of religion - she knew that I was an Atheist. She gave solace to a friend of mine who had a two year old drown, BUT, never spoke of religion.

Both these people were innately good, nothing to do with religion. It is people like this that prop up the business of the catholic church - "The Firm' -

Christian hospitals make a fortune, yet pay no tax on the millions they make, all on the back of Science. The best of property - no tax - trillions sitting in the bank and insurance company - no tax.

I also give latitude to the new pope in the hope that he will actually do some good - the only way he can make up for misdeeds of the criminals in your midst, who lead your catholic church is -

1. Stop the harassing of victims of pedophilia in every catholic country in the world, and when they are paid a meagre amount of money - they were then forced to sign a Non-Disclosure", and can never sue the church, or talk about it, again. This, has been, by the way, finally overturned legally, and victims can now come forward and tell their story, of the catholic church's most protected people, the abusers of children .

The catholic church here spent millions in court, trying to stop the victims from telling their story - and thank my lovely white unicorn - the church, with it's hundreds of very highly paid lawyer's, failed. This, hopefully, will come to your country too.

2. Open the books of the Vatican bank, to show the places where the money has come from is not laundered money. It was, by the way, called The Institute for Works of Religion - a misnomer if there ever was one. Complete transparency, and the investigation to be made by people not involved with the bank. The money in the bank goes to clergy etc, to keep them in the lifestyle that they have become accustomed to.

3. Find out what happened to - "Roberto Calvi, nicknamed "God's Banker", was found hanged beneath London's Blackfriars Bridge, with investigators unable to rule whether he had committed suicide or was murdered."

The Vatican chose a Swiss firm to manage financial services inside the Vatican - because of Switzerland's secrecy on bank accounts.

4. Find where the millions given in good faith to the lovely Mother Teresa went, instead of to where it should have gone, building a hospital, and caring for the sick and dying, and still raking in millions, from good intentioned people, who assume the money will actually go to where it is intended, the sick and they dying.

5. Stop harbouring pedophiles at the Vatican, where they can't be touched by the law.

6. The Vatican should be cleaning out these cancerous people, who give the good people, doing good works etc. a bad, distrustful name.

You, sir, should not be supporting the bad guys with your apologetics , but band with the good people of your church and stop making excuses for the criminal element which now permeates your church.

I do think religon is a load of cosdwallop, but that is not my point - you want to believe in god - good for you.

Nor can I condemn the beliefs of 1.2 billion people because some acted badly -

That is not what I am doing - I am condemning the hierarchy, the hub, the controllers of your religion - who are hiding their criminal acts behind the cross, who take money from poor, superstitious people who want to go to heaven, to a church already weighed down by the amount of money it has, who are riding on the backs of the likes of you and others like you, who do believe, and like good little sheep, prop this cancerous cell - up.

I feel sorry for all the good people in all religions, who mean well, and act with propriety - but the hierarchy of any religion, any church, do not do this.

The church preys upon the insecurities inherent in human beings to keep them under control, and engender the fears, to boost the numbers. Religion has peddled this notion of a mythical place called hell, it's working a treat for uneducated superstitious peoples.

As in the quote above - it is all about predatory greed, which is once again, full steam ahead in third world countries - in your name.

@Suzanne, there are millions of people in the institutional "hierarchy" of my Church.  Are you really comfortable with the claim that all of them should be condemned?  Do you honestly feel that's well-reasoned or fair?

Christian hospitals make a fortune, yet pay no tax on the millions they make, all on the back of Science.

University hospitals make a fortune, yet pay no tax on the millions they make.  Private hospitals make a fortune, yet pay not tax on the millions they make.  That's because they're hospitals, not because they are religious.   And let's not forget that many, many Christians were and are involved in the development of the (capital-S)cience that you revere.

trillions sitting in the bank and insurance company

Trillions?  2x10^12?  I think your orders of magnitude are off.  The Vatican bank's total assets are less than 10 billion. 

Let's take a look at your other claims.

1. When a civil tort case is tried, the insurance company is the one who defends the case, not the church, because the insurance company is on the hook to pay any judgment.  For example, if you run over someone with your car, your auto insurance company will defend the case in court, and you will have no say in the terms.  They may well demand a non-disclosure statement in a settlement, as a way of protecting themselves from other cases, and you would have no say.  That's the way insurance and the American legal system work.  Do you believe the church is responsible for the American legal system?

2. The Vatican bank's balance sheets and financial statements have been open for some time.  Can you name for me one bank in the free world whose entire set of accounts is open in the way you suggest?  Here in the U.S. that would be an unconscionable invasion of privacy which would require warrants and subpoenas.  Is it reasonable to expect that religious people should be afforded the same civil rights and protections as everyone else, perhaps?

3. If the police investigators in Great Britain were unsuccessful in an investigation of a possible homicide, despite their training and access to forensic scientists and resources, you are going to expect a bunch of priests trained in philosophy and theology to do a better job?  Really?

3b.  Did you ever consider that perhaps the reason to hire a Swiss firm for a banking job could be because the Swiss have a worldwide reputation for banking?  Or perhaps because of the long-standing relationship between the Vatican and the Catholic cantons in Switzerland (like the Swiss Guard?).

4. This was tin-foil-hat conspiracy stuff, so I had to go look it up online.  I can only guess that you're getting this stuff from Hitchens' book.  Do you truly believe that is an unbiased source?  It's more than a bit like citing Glen Beck on the criminal activity of President Obama, don't you think?

5. The Vatican is a nation.  Anyone there can be touched by canon law, and by treaty can also be prosecuted under the laws of Italy.

6. Why should the Vatican be euthanizing people with cancer?

It's OK to hate us, to vent anti-Catholic vitriol and spin odd stories to make yourself feel righteous. It hurts, but we understand the psychology. 

My question is whether, as a free-thinker and rational atheist, you are really living up to your own ideals in doing so?

@Bobm - Don't hate you, don't hate anybody, just feel sorry for you. What vitriol, only truth supported by fact. You keep on saying, what about them, look what they are doing. Just because some companies are doing bad, wrong things, as in Wall Street Global Finance collapse, there are many that should have gone to jail, but didn't, doesn't let your lot off the hook of evil misdeeds. You should be above criminal behavior, that is why so many people cannot believe what the catholic church has been doing, that is why people are shocked, that is why it has taken so long to investigate the crimes. The catholic church runs on it's 'good' Public Relations with the people of the world, when in fact it has been hiding devious, criminal behavior, that is what you are supporting, not the good guys in your church who are getting flack for these wrongdoings.

OK.  I can agree with all that.

It's quite natural to want religious people to be better people than average.  I expect we want atheists to be more well-reasoned and objective than average.

Such stereotypes probably aren't all that rational, if we're honest with ourselves.  Certainly, they're not rational if we try to apply them to the entire population without allowing for the tails of the distribution.   Lots of religious people are going to be assholes.  Lots of atheists aren't going to be well reasoned.  Every population has distribution tails; and the bigger the population the wider the variance is likely to be.

@Bob -
This next one really takes imagination -

Once again,Bob, what are your beliefs - Atheists aren't biased, they are realists. If religion produced, even more good than bad, no problem, but the bad has overtaken any good that good people may be doing around the world. That is the problem.

@Bob - Don't hate you, don't hate anybody, just feel sorry for you.

I am anti-catholic because of experience, I went through the catholic system. The same would be true of ex-muslim, ex-judaism, ex scientology, ex exclusive brethren, ex-jehovah witness, What vitriol, only truth. You keep on saying, what about them, look what they are doing. Just because some companies are doing bad, wrong things, as in Wall Street Global Finance collapse, there are many that should have gone to jail, but didn't, doesn't let your lot off the hook of evil misdeeds. The catholic church could/should have been getting these men out of the system, but instead chose to hide their crimes systematically.That is why so many people cannot believe what the catholic church has been doing, that is why people are shocked, that is why people are so disillusioned and saddened, that is why it has taken so long to investigate the crimes. The catholic church runs on it's 'good' Public Relations with the people of the world. It is not just the fact that there has been criminal behavior from the popes down, but the fact that criminal behavior has been systematically hidden. The good guys in your church are getting flack for these wrongdoings.

There are people inside your church who are also fighting the vatican. They understand the crimes against humanity that the catholic church has perpetrated.
That is why Ireland, with a catholic population of 92%, has told the vatican to sod off.

You should join them, you should help in cleaning up this debacle, instead of making excuses for the criminals, and trying to convince Atheists of what good guys you are, and that mere humans make mistakes. Once again, not just the crimes, but the behavior after the fact.

Swiss Bank - Known for it's secret accounts.

Mother Tesesa - Haven't read Hitchens book - this was taken from volunteers working in the so called hospital - it is what they saw, they experienced, open your eyes, get out of the bubble.

To explain why she had not built a modern hospital with the millions that came to her, she said she ran a hospices, not a hospital - good diversion, camper beds covered in plastic, where the dying are looked after by volunteers and nuns, so where did the millions go, where has the money gone since her death?

I think that some people who are christian, or want to do good works, realize the amount of money that can be made, what kudos can come from it, as in Teresa building Nunneries etc with her name on the buildings, when in fact it should have been spent on the poor in Calcutta. There are very few women who gained the recognition that Terese did, so it is mostly men who are the frauds.

If they make it to archbishop, yahhhyyy, and if they make it to the vatican, couldn't be better. Our very own Archbishop George Pell built some digs at the vatican for a mere 23 million, Meanwhile telling people who had been sodomised by priests, "They should really move on".

Ha,ha Righteous - hardly. I don't 'believe' in a god, or any gods. I am dismayed at, appalled at, in this case the catholic church's behavior, as should you be, instead of making excuses, and 'oh, but' statements.

As a free thinker and atheist, I am calling on christians to clean up the mess, the disillusionment, the sadness the hierarchy have perpetuated, the trust that parents put into their clergy, and how that was abused, by thousands over decades. Your lot certainly aren't the only ones who are hiding behind the cross, you are just the largest group. Just a small example, Exclusive Brethren, the Mormon polygamists having sex with under age girls, like Warren Jeffs, who at least is in jail. He should be joined by thousands of others.

I am anti-catholic because of experience, I went through the catholic system. The same would be true of ex-muslim, ex-judaism, ex scientology, ex exclusive brethren, ex-jehovah witness,

Sure.  Few people are as zealous as converts; that's a well-recognized truism no matter what philosophy they have converted to.

There are people inside your church who are also fighting the vatican. They understand the crimes against humanity that the catholic church has perpetrated.

"Fighting" is probably too strong a word.  Criticize, want reform, pose alternate theories, sure.

As to "crimes against humanity", that's a legal term of art referring to genocide.  This is where I think "vitriol" comes in on your part.  One can certainly point to examples of financial corruption; one can rightly be furious over incidents of child molestation or episcopal arrogance. 

I just don't think it's fair to accuse an entire people of participating in deliberate genocide.  As you know from your Catholic background, the "church" in Catholic Church refers to people, not buildings, not institutions.  I don't think a claim that anybody is committing genocide is rational, certainly not 1.2 billion people.

You should join them, you should help in cleaning up this debacle

Do you know that I'm not?  Well, not Ireland, I suppose, since I'm in the U.S. 

I think you also need to take a step back from the biased sources like Hitchens or Stern, and consider what is normative in charitable enterprises.  What does it really cost to run, not build, a single charitable hospital?  Building a building is the cheap and easy part.   If a religious order is building "nunneries", is that really so bad?  Don't people doing work deserve a place to live, at least?  What sort of buildings are most likely to be donated?  A modest house which is a family's primary residence, or a vacation mansion that a rich person uses only once or twice a year?   All charitable organizations have these issues.

FWIW, my experience with diocesan finance is that it is mostly well meaning but bumbling, carried out by folks without a whole lot of financial training on a shoestring budget.  Sadly, that also makes it a target for corrupt individuals who can take advantage of the trusting naivete of church workers.  It is a problem.

I can't speak to Cardinal Pell and anything going on in the Archdiocese of Sydney.  Just not enough information available over here.

Certainly, we have some responsibility to "clean things up".  However, we don't have any ability to punish or imprison those members of the clergy who broke the trust of so many.    For that we must turn to the State. 

Ever since I posted those findings here for Bob's review on May 6, 2013-- in the midst of a spirited conversation with Bob about clergy getting away with crime and covering up crime-- Bob abruptly stopped responding.

I've responded with regard to the Archdiocese of Boston and Bernard Law several times.  I agree with you.  What went on in the Archdiocese was criminal.  Bernard Law, whom I have met on several occasions, was always a pompous ass, but even I was stunned by the revelations of the extent of his arrogance.  I encouraged the Attorney General of Massachusetts to prosecute the man to the fullest extent possible, as well as a couple of others in diocesan administration who had been complicit.   The AG demurred, largely because there wasn't a good case to be made in terms of state law.   I have been and continue to be supportive of "Voice of the Faithful", the lay group formed in response to the Boston debacle, and I also advised some of the pastors who helped get Bernard Law canned as bishop.

So absolutely, one should be furious about such things.  I am, probably far more than you, because I was living there at the time.  If there were hope of prosecution in Massachusetts I'd be all for snatching the man from the Vatican.  There isn't.  That's an issue for the state to address, because it applies equally to anyone who is complicit in such things, not just religious.

In the end, what went on in Boston was perpetrated by a tiny minority of people.  That doesn't make it less heinous, any more than Oklahoma City's bombing or the 9/11 attacks being perpetrated by relatively small groups of people makes those things less heinous.

What it does mean is that honest free-thinkers must avoid believing all conservative Oklahomans or all Muslims are corrupt and worthy of condemnation.   That's what you imply every time you say "your Church" and "your lot" with respect to these crimes.  We should never say "you blacks" are responsible for murderous crimes in cities, even though some blacks are.  Why do you find it acceptable to do that for members of a religion, even though some members of that religion are indeed criminals?

@Gallup, now I've got to track you across multiple threads in order to respond in the proper one?  LOL.

I provided some statistics on child abuse in other venues in one of these threads somewhere (the search feature here is not very robust).  Even a glance at the number of perpetrators per population from any of them shows them to be on par with clerical abuse in the Catholic Church.

The Boy Scouts in America, as just one example, have been heavily in the news for similar sorts of things.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Boy Scouts and the Catholics is that they're large, national/international organizations with centralized structures that preserved records that were eventually made public.

I don't think I've ever heard of the BSA shifting Scoutmasters around to prevent their arrest --

I think the L.A. Times investigation into the Boy Scouts identified many cases like that, @archaeopteryx.  It came out in the Oregon lawsuit as well.

I'm an older fellow, so I remember the times better than some here perhaps.  Obtaining convictions for rape of any sort was quite hard, because it often turned on relative credibility.  That was true for women, and even more so for children; the credibility of a child witness compared with a "respected" adult was quite low.   The social norm was that parents did not want their children involved in such cases because there were few protections for witnesses, and so much potential for social stigma.  Mandatory reporting for parental abuse really didn't come about until the 80s.   The Scouts according to reports didn't even start requiring background checks until a few years ago. 

Much has changed over the years, thank goodness.  More needs to.

So employers of all sorts, not just religious, tended to "move these people along" back then.  With no likelihood of prosecution, the goal was to get them out of their current circumstances.  Smaller organizations allowed them to resign and get new jobs serving youth elsewhere.  They wrote qualified letters of recommendation because of (legitimate) fear of a slander suit, or because they could not find contractual grounds to fire them without establish cause.   Sometimes, they were more concerned about scandal than they were about victims.  Larger organizations tried treatment programs or moving them to other roles.

Teachers, ministers, coaches, scout leaders, parents - all people with a great deal of access to youth and a great deal of community trust and respect.  All ideal roles for predators.  We didn't do well by kids.

For me, though, parent, priest, and teacher perpetrators are the most... I don't have a word.  Disgusting.  Infuriating.  Something.  Just because those roles are very close to me, they feel like a bigger betrayal.


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