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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Robert, your remark The Attorney General of Massachusetts decided that under the laws of the Commonwealth in force at the time, there was no case to be made inspired me to do some research.

Martha Coakley is Roman Catholic.


1) her work in child sexual abuse, including prosecution of several priests for such abuse, and

2) her saying that practicing Catholics probably ought not work in health care.

Con: Because I have no information

1) on her personal relation to Bernard Law, or

2) on her legal reasoning for saying there was no case to be made,

I can suspend judgment. (Science, NOT religion, helped me learn how to do that.)

During my Catholic teens and early 20s, the bible's "judge not lest..." didn't stop me from judging. Because Catholicism considers this life unimportant, it doesn't address the cause of judging.

@Gallup, unfortunately your claim doesn't hold legal water, because Bernard Law clearly did not learn of the abuse of children through a religious confession.  He learned about it through his administrative position as local ordinary.  So the religious exception in the law did not apply.

The legal problem is a different one.  Mandatory reporting statutes were historically enacted to pierce the parental privilege.  Even today, child abuse and neglect in most states can only be committed by a parent or other legal custodian, and only child abuse is subject to reporting requirements.   Citizens, supervisors, employees are not, in U.S. law, required to report crimes more generally.   I'd argue we have a moral obligation, but we don't have a legal one.  We eschewed that sort of reporting regimen because it was associated with the worst of Soviet abuses - neighbors reporting on neighbors, upset children reporting on parents, etc.

Molestation by a priest, teacher, coach, etc. is a crime of sexual battery.  There is no mandatory reporting requirement in most states, and also no immunity from a slander suit if you do choose to report.

When a jerk like Bernard Law does something like this, there's always a quite natural desire to lynch the man.   However, in American jurisprudence we endeavor to err on the side of law over that form of justice, because we recognize that constraining the arbitrary power of the state to mete out punishment is a good thing for everybody overall.

Perhaps that's why it's sometimes satisfying to believe in Hell, I suppose.

How about Cardinal Dolan?  News today broke that his concealment of that $57 million from legal access for sexual abuse victims was actually ratified by the Vatican.  It's all a bit tawdry really.  In the old days, without the internet, so many were operating in blissful ignorance of these awful activities. 

I don't blame you for not knowing about stuff that wasn't all that widely available when you were younger, but now it is available and now it can be acknowledged and addressed.  If you are working to improve the quality of the behaviour of the catholic priesthood, that's great. 

What makes me feel uncomfortable in your posts, however, is that you seem to be dismissing these various issues with a shrug and a smile.  You come over kind of patronising, and I honestly don't think that's your intent.  Please take this as constructive criticism, because I think you might find it easier to communicate with others here if your posts didn't always seem to carry the tone of an amused parent talking to a naughty child.

Well, I will admit to being somewhat pedantic and professorial at least. ;-)  That's just who I am, I suppose.

You'll have to forgive me if I come across as patronizing, however.  That's not my intent, though I expect it's a quite natural reaction to some of the posters here that come across as, well, childish.  I don't know if that's their intent either, but it makes it more difficult to interact with those who are more mature and thoughtful. It's truly hard to take anybody who calls me "Pinocchio" seriously, though I do find myself humming the little ditty "I've Got No Strings..."

I was going to raise that in a blog post just to see what the community here felt, but I really think it's up to a community's regular members to raise those issues with each other. 

Strega, you are FAR more diplomatic than I could ever be.

Robert, you know confession is good for your soul.

local ordinary, the religious exception ... did not apply, and much more.

Your knowledge of Church organization marks you as a graduate of more than a Catholic high school. C'mon, give us some truth. College? Graduate studies? Subjects?

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Are you able?

Catholic elementary school, non-Catholic high school.  Catholic (Jesuit) college, degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics, but also a number of credits in Theology.   Masters from Notre Dame; took some canon law and theology on the side as I dabbled with the notion of the priesthood, even spent time in the major seminary there for a year.   Doctorate from a major public research university.  Consult with the National Catholic Education Association on science curriculum issues, still have a number of friends who are genuine theologians or canonists, including a couple Jesuits who know Pope Francis personally.

Really, though, while religion is an important part of my life, it's functionally a small part.  My professional life is in physics and increasingly in physics/science education.

Thank you, Professor. I majored in mathematics, minored in physics. In grad school more math and physics. About the math: after 12 years of being told to believe what priests said, I loved the mental exercise of having to prove conclusions.

I don't remember any anti-evolution dogma in the Catholic schools I attended but there must have been some. In the Univ. of Fla. natural history museum I saw skeletal similarities and, amazed, asked How can humans and [other] animals not be related?

Until recently Catholicism has avoided Protestant fundamentalism's excesses. Sexual politics makes strange bedfellows.

I don't remember any anti-evolution dogma in the Catholic schools I attended but there must have been some.

Why must there have been some?  We have no particular problem with evolution.

Until recently Catholicism has avoided Protestant fundamentalism's excesses.

Yes, we are being afflicted by the creeping morass of reactionary fundamentalism, at least on some levels.  One can only roll one's eyes at times at the inanity of individual members of the episcopate, or right now groups of them.  Those positions attract the same sort of people that are attracted to political positions or CEO-type positions, and they can suffer from the same myopia.  

Happily, they are not the Church, or even the religion. 

@Bob - I dub thee "Complacent Catholic" - Let the children, who have been sacrificed on the Alter of Catholicism, fight their own battles. Obfuscate, defect, 'Oh, catholics can't do anything about it".

You just sit on your hands, while other catholics fight the power system that is the catholic church. Let other catholics start partitions to wake up, shine a light on the latest pope, the same as his predecessors have done, protected criminals at the vatican.

Let other catholics, who love their church, help to clean out the rats in the ranks. Let other priests and archbishops get thousands of signatures from all over the world, to let the latest pope, the world knows what they are up to. Let other catholics fight for the children and adults involved, that this church has ruined their lives.

Let other catholics fight to stop the rot that is in the catholic church.

You just keep sitting on your hands - and make light talk. Just not good enough.

@Suzanne, you may dub me whatever you like.   However, in honesty you must admit that you know very little about me, and certainly not enough to make the claims that you do.  I was in actuality one of the early members of VOTF, and an active party with some of the clergy who got Bernard Law removed. 

It's not my calling, though.  I teach and do research. 

I forget whether you are a U.S. citizen or somewhere else, but the same argument can be used when addressed to the abuses of states.  NSA wiretapping, overbroad warrants, drone strikes in sovereign nations against U.S. citizens, torture of captives.  Do you sit on your hands for these?  Let other people fight for you?

I suspect, like me, you do what you can when it's in your neighborhood, you support organizations that try to make change, you are an informed citizen who tries to keep a focus on correcting these abuses while for most of your life you do other work. 

Are you truly judging me and others by the same yardstick you judge yourself?

@Professor Robert

If you click on the persons picture/avatar against their name, you get taken to their page, where in the vast majority of cases (some people are extraordinarily private) you can see their basic info, notably in the top left hand side just under their picture on the page

That way you can usually see where the person lives, and their gender. Some of our names are not so obvious to determine gender from, and the location is often helpful when you want to make a point referencing a particular country.  Hope this helps.


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