Just was on a retreat...

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by Manus Domini, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Not sure ........... just casually watched a TV program on it. His subjects describe what the experience feels like, not him. If they feel it was similar to a religious one, that is what he will note down, unless he is a fraud. Unlike religion, science doesn't distort facts to fit a theory.

    But if extreme religious experiences are shown to be merely biological artifacts as some people already suspect, it will open up a whole can of worms.
     
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  2. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, there are not, unless they indulge in evil deeds using scientific technology. That has little to do with the scientific method.

    Two things are not equally bad because one of them may have problems. It doesn't work that way. Galileo was not a scientific extremist for saying the sun does not go around the earth. He was correct, religious extremists were wrong. Both were not equally wrong. One was right, other was wrong. And that has been shown time and time again.
     
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  3. Polaris

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    By scientific extremists, do you mean people who believe that science can answer everything? If so, I agree with you. Science most certainly cannot answer everything.

    If, by scientific extremists, you mean people who use the scientific method for evil things, then I disagree with you. The method is based on making hypothesis, and testing them for truth as rigorously as possible. It is just a way of life, not a license to do bad things.

    If, by scientific extremists, you mean people who use the products of science to do evil things, then again I disagree with you. Such people commit their evil deeds based on an ideology that has nothing to do with the scientific method.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
    #53
  4. Polaris

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    Yes, I've read about this in several popular science books, though I have yet to consult a proper textbook on it. Several experiments have shown increased levels of dopamine (either congenitally or induced) among people who have ecstatic experiences. I may be wrong, but isn't dopamine somehow related to the production of the neurotransmitter anandamide ?

    I thought it was a joke when I first read it but the name "anandamide" literally comes from the Sanskrit "ananda" ( = joy, delight, bliss ) !! :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
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  5. max

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    It's worth it to examine the "is/ought" distinction. suresh if you're really way into science, take a look at the book Cosmos Bios Theos, which contains scientists discussing their religious views. Interesting stuff. And of course the polling shows scientists are more religious than the general public. . . but what do they know?

    Speaking seriously, it's really worth looking into.
     
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  6. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    They are religious in the sense that they are often conservative in their personal life and also are interested in the ultimate nature of reality. They are introspective people, as opposed to party animals (most of the time). I am not a scientist but I am like that too. But I don't extend that to scientific method. Science is the same whether you are a conservative family guy like me or a philanderer like Feynman.

    That is the good thing. The bad thing is that there are scientists who are not scientific at all when it comes to fundamental thinking (they are good at what they do, but they refuse to take their scientific spirit further). There are also scientists who discover that they can get more funds and promotions if they give a nod to religion, which makes them much sought after. After a point, scientists are like everyone else - they like money and power, or they convince themselves they need to "compromise" to continue their work.

    Let me give you an example. I attend religious services every weekend and there is a professor, of all things, origins of life and molecular biology, at a famed institute here. Two weeks ago, he told a group of children: if you are willing to read about science and experiment with it, what prevents you from believing that everything in the scriptures is literally true? Why do you resist?

    I am like, c'mon, you think this is a logical statement? But what will people say? Here is a biology professor who is a fundamentalist, shouldn't he know? No, answer is I am more scientific than he his, because I understand how to think scientifically, while he has stopped after a certain point.
     
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  7. Love Game

    Love Game Talk Tennis Guru

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    interesting. but not on topic. that topic is about "biological artifacts" and "extreme religious experiences," which is well outside the scope of the OP's purpose in this thread. one person's psychological reaction to a laboratory stimulus to the brain can be wildly different from another person's psychological reaction to the identical laboratory stimulus to the brain.

    The OP is asking in this thread to hear about people's personal, real-life (not laboratory) reactions to any Retreats. I assume that "retreat" in the context of this thread is used in the sense of time taken to reflect or meditate in the company of others who are doing the same.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
    #57
  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Yes that is correct
     
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  9. ruerooo

    ruerooo Legend

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    Hey, LG - I am chasing you around TW to ask about something that is also not on topic, LOL.

    I've been thinking - since all the top five are playing doubles this tournament, do we need a doubles poll and/or thread?
     
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  10. Love Game

    Love Game Talk Tennis Guru

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    good idea . there w/b some good ones. i'll dig it out!

    wilco, over and out!
     
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  11. SoBad

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    Yes, that’s what I was asking.

    I wasn’t asking for pictures of people. You claimed that God was there and provided pictures in an attempt to corroborate. I was merely trying to ascertain where God was depicted in the pictures that you posted.

    I don’t think I am judgmental at all, but I suppose I can see how someone indoctrinated into blind faith might have that misperception. Neither the thread title nor the original post itself hinted that this could be one of those religious threads. If these discussions are deemed appropriate on this forum, just make sure to label them appropriately in the thread title/OP, so people know to stay away.
     
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  12. SoBad

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    Mary,

    You may have misinterpreted my comments – I was just looking for proof of God (same old, you know) and was examining the photos from that angle. I’m sure the OP would flood me with personal photos upon request as you suggested, but naturally I am concerned about my computer exploding from data overload or maybe even a server rack in some bunker data center in N Dakota.

    In any event, I was misled into this discussion by the seemingly innocent thread title and original post. I have no interest in this discussion now that I see what it’s about. Perhaps with your knowledge and understanding of the issues, you will be the better voice of reason going forward in this thread.
     
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  13. Love Game

    Love Game Talk Tennis Guru

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    "someone indoctrinated into blind faith" is a judgmental phrase.

    miriam-webster definition of "retreat" = "a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director "

    the word "retreat" is in the title, so it is "labeled appropriately"
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
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  14. Manus Domini

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    squares are rectangles but rectangles aren't necessarily squares. Catholics are Christians but so are Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, etc. I'm not saying it's just Catholics that are Christians...

    However, the poster I was referring to believed Catholics are not Christians...

    Anyway, can we veer off discussion of religion and stay on discussion of retreats?
     
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  15. Polaris

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    I never implied that you did.

    That was exactly what KK was referring to, as well.

    Of course, yes. As I mentioned earlier, for me the distinction is too insignificant to matter. Speaking of retreats, I would think that central California in the coming months (Big Sur area) would be awesome for an astronomy retreat. I camped there recently, and the stargazing was just out of this world! It was genuinely a retreat from perpetually cloudy New England skies.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
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  16. Manus Domini

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    What's an astronomy retreat like? What did you get from your first?
     
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  17. Polaris

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    Well, technically it was not a retreat, just a camping trip - and it was far from my first. And stargazing just happened to become a part of it because the skies were clear, as they often are in California.

    So, you lie down in your tent and check out constellations, planets, a shooting-star or two. You watch the band of the Milky Way across the sky. Don't know if this counts as a spiritual retreat in your book, but in my book, it is. There are probably only about two or three occasions a year like this. Even though I am an atheist, it is a quiet, wondrous feeling (spiritual, if you want to call it that) - to know that you are contemplating 400 billion stars and an unimaginable vastness while sleeping in an insignificant tent on an insignificant planet in a miniscule solar system in a garden-variety galaxy, to understand that even if there are well-studied explanations for how all this came to be, the universe remains full of tantalizing mystery.

    But yes, stargazing is just one part of it. There are birds of course, and since this is springtime, you hear birdsong and try to identify a few of them. There is wildlife and trees - oaks of all kinds, eucalyptus groves, redwoods, and so on. Just as you would marvel at God's creation, I would marvel at the incredible power and range of an evolutionary process spanning a billion years and more. But, even without all this high-falutin marveling, sometimes, it is just fun to go away from your daily work and walk in the wilderness, and observe things around you. For me this is a retreat even though it does not confirm to the usual (narrow) definition given by Love Game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
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  18. Manus Domini

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    That sounds awesome. Yeah, I would put a religious spin on it, but I am sure we both feel the same sense of awe; just would interpret its cause differently.

    I would love to go on a camping trip like that. Problem is money. Were you in your own tent or pre-set up tents?
     
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  19. Polaris

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    We were two people, and my companion had a tent and some rudimentary cooking stuff. There were no pre-setup tents, we set our own. I rented a backpack from REI. First cost is high, but given that you reuse these things over and over, it turns out not to be so expensive amortized over a number of years.

    If you are a REI member, they can rent you all camping gear for around $60-80 a night, I believe.
     
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  20. Sentinel

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    What if someone showed that love was also some bio-chemical reaction, and he could induce it by injecting some chemical ? Would that disprove our love for our children and families ? Would you stop loving those you love ?

    And btw, we already do understand in Hinduism and Buddhism that religious and spiritual experiences are mind-creations and to be ignored.
     
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  21. SoBad

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    Indeed, I see that definition at the end of the long list of interpretations in the online version of the MW entry for “retreat”. Item 1(c)1 (“a signal given by bugle at the beginning of a military flag-lowering ceremony”) is also on the list and appears above the one you cherry-picked in an attempt to make your point. Neither of these two obscure interpretations come to mind of an average forumer in the context of the thread title though, so I stand by my recommendation to the OP.
     
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  22. Manus Domini

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    I really do not understand your recommendation, SoBad...
     
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  23. Manus Domini

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    True, I have a tent, but can't go backpacking with it; it is too large. I love camping trips though. My scout troop does like nothing on them but movies and video games :(
     
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  24. SoBad

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    I was just suggesting that you clearly identify your thread as religiously oriented in the thread title or the original post (at a minimum).
     
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  25. Manus Domini

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    Why would I do that? The thread is about retreats, not necessarily religious ones, and I am not going to do something I know to be against the rules...
     
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  26. Love Game

    Love Game Talk Tennis Guru

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    That's the one i "cherry picked" because that's the connotation of the word I instantly recognized when I read the title and the one that the OP obviously intended, a connotation with which you were admittedly not familiar ...

    I'm reporting you, because that's not what you were doing at all, and everybody can see it for themselves when they read your posts from the beginning of the thread. this far into it, you're STILL trolling your bait, hoping for a bite for an excuse to continue your attempts to hijack the discussion. It's plain to see that that's been your intention since your very first post ... There's no reason that the limits of your understanding or interest should in any way limit the disussion of others.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2011
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  27. dParis

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    Every day, more and more members are realizing what the Velvet Troll is all about.
     
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  28. SoBad

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    Your claim of (lack of) intent is fine with me, whether true or not. It’s kind of surprising though how this allegedly secular retreat thread has attracted a flock of zealots who refuse to even recognise the very term “retreat” outside of religious context.

    I have nothing further on the subject unless you have another question. We have already lost our fine “Rants and Raves” section to political/religious trolling. I will certainly try to do my best to avoid contributing to the recent proliferation of similar “discussion” in “Odds and Ends”.
     
    #78
  29. max

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    Ask the library to pull out a very interesting little title, Cosmos Bios Theos, in which a number of Nobel laureates in science discuss their religious belief. I don't think religion is too far from science; interestingly, every poll I've run into shows scientists are more religious than the general public (despite the handful of high profile best selling, scoffers).
     
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  30. Polaris

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    I would like to read this book, and determine whether scientists truly discuss religious belief or if the questions are posed in a way that invites them to express their awe at something they don't yet comprehend.

    I disagree here. Science works by doubting, hypothesizing, testing, and verifying claims. Religion (of the organized variety) works by postulating without evidence. Galileo claimed that the earth revolved round the Sun. The Church denied it. We all know who was right. The same is true for evolution.


    I would sincerely like to read about these polls. Perhaps, my sources are extensively biased, because I keep hearing that the National Academy of Sciences has a much larger percentage of non-believers than the general public. So, if it is possible to keep this thread respectable with this discussion, I would like to see which polls you are referring to. I would also like to check the questions asked in these polls, and who was conducting these polls. E.g., the Templeton Foundation actively funds and awards researchers who advocate ambiguity in the discussion of rational science versus religion.

    Lastly, what scores of scientists and non-scientists say is beside the point. It has no bearing on whether the claimed statement is true of false. Thousands of years ago, 100 percent of the smartest men and women felt that the earth was flat. Observation, when it was possible, showed that they were wrong. As Bertrand Russell used to say: Aristotle claimed that women had fewer teeth than men. Now, he married three times, yet never once did he have the good sense to ask Mrs. Aristotle to open her mouth so he could count her teeth. If a postulate does not agree with observation, it is wrong. So far, tangible, verifiable evidence for God has turned up a blank.

    There are personal testimonials of spiritual experience, and these should not be summarily disregarded. But, until they can be shown to repeatable, the existence of God cannot be confirmed, at least in a scientific sense. Thus science and religion are not really similar at all - each is corrosive to the other.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011
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  31. Manus Domini

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    Remember, most scientists throughout history were religious people and philosophers. Euler, Pythagoras, Newton, Einstein, Galileo

    Did Galileo claim that a heliocentric path disproved Christianity? No. The Church is made up of humans; humans are not perfect; .'. the Church is not perfect.

    And the Church does commend those who doubt, hypothesize, test, and verify their faith. They recommend that you doubt because it will double your faith when you prove yourself right.

    rational science and religion are not mutually exclusive.

    1] How many thousands of years ago? Many. Remember, Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth with an error of 100 miles.

    2] "Innocent until proven guilty". The scientists cannot prove God doesn't exist, can they?

    They are mutually inclusive. It is misinterpretation that would disprove God. And if you go on a retreat--like your astronomy trips--you realize there are things you cannot explain, right? That isn't proof, that isn't evidence, but you still feel awe at something. Until that awe from retreats is undoubtedly disproved, I don't see how science and religion are mutually exclusive.
     
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  32. Polaris

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    Absolutely true. This is because they did not know any better. Personality-wise, Newton was a selfish narcissist; this does not mean that everyone should be the same. Also, it has been conclusively demonstrated from Einstein's writings and letters that he was _not_ religious in the Christian sense. He was religious in the pantheistic sense and vehemently repudiated the concept of a personal God. He equated God with all that was unknown and awe-inspiring about the Universe. Still, Einstein was not correct about everything, so we should not just replicate his beliefs just because they are Einstein's. We should think independently.

    I didn't imply anything of the kind. I said that: Galileo claimed that a heliocentric system. The Church denied it, tried him for it, and jailed him for it.

    I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. The Church, only in modern times, tries to acquiesce doubt. The Church burned Giordano Bruno at the stake for heresy, along with hundreds of others. People who doubted were brutally murdered with express orders from the Church. There are independently verifiable historical records of this.

    Yes, but Eratosthenes lived more than 2000 years ago. Thus, 5000 years ago, most people did believe that the earth was flat.

    I agree, they can't. It is logically impossible to prove a negative. However, "Innocent until proven guilty", which is a wonderful maxim for the court of law, becomes a ridiculous maxim for the nature of physical reality. To repeat an oft-quoted metaphor, the scientists cannot prove that an invisible teapot is not orbiting the earth. The scientists cannot prove that an invisible pink unicorn does not live in my house. Similarly, they cannot prove that God does not exist. Thus, if we say "Innocent until proven guilty", you must agree that there is, in fact, a teapot and an unicorn, until someone proves otherwise!

    Good point. However, I'm comfortable saying that "I don't know where that awe comes from." I think it is not rational to claim,"I don't know X, therefore God did X".
     
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  33. max

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    It's selective history being cited. For every Galileo, you have competent Christian scientists in history. Talk to me about Mendel. Read, when you have a chance, Crombie's work on medieval science. Also look at current scientists thinking, Ian Barbour, and a nice intro is Cosmos Bios Theos. For those wanting polls on scientists and belief, just do a Google search and you'll be happy.
     
    #83
  34. max

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    John D. Barrow (2006)up

    John D. Barrow is Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University and Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College in London. His writings on the relationship between life and the universe draw insights from mathematics, physics, and astronomy, challenging scientists and theologians to cross disciplinary boundaries to test what they may or may not understand about the origins of time, space, and matter and the behavior of the universe. Download/Links

    Charles H. Townes (2005)up

    Charles H. Townes, Professor in the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley, shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics. His 1966 article, “The Convergence of Science and Religion,” established him as a voice seeking commonality between the two disciplines. He describes his 1951 discovery of the principles of the maser—while sitting on a park bench—as a “revelation” and an example of the interplay between the “how” and “why” of science and religion. Download/Links

    George F. R. Ellis (2004)up

    George F. R. Ellis is a theoretical cosmologist and Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has investigated whether or not there was a start to the universe, if there is one universe or many, the evolution of complexity, and the functioning of the human mind, as well as the intersection of these issues with areas beyond the boundaries of science. Download/Links

    Holmes Rolston III (2003)up

    Holmes Rolston III is University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and a Presbyterian minister whose 40 years of research on the religious imperative to respect nature helped to establish the field of environmental ethics. His work assigns value not only to human beings but also to plants, animals, species, and ecosystems as core issues of theological and scientific concern. Download/Links

    John C. Polkinghorne (2002)up

    John C. Polkinghorne is a mathematical physicist and Anglican priest whose treatment of theology as a natural science has invigorated the search for an interface between science and religion. His writings apply scientific approaches to the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy and have brought him recognition as a unique voice for understanding the Bible and Christian doctrine. Download/Links

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    Arthur Peacocke was a biochemist who, after pioneering early research into the physical chemistry of DNA, received a Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Birmingham and was ordained in the Church of England as a priest-scientist. In 1973, he became Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, where he pursued his interdisciplinary vocation. He also founded the Society of Ordained Scientists to advance the development of the field of science and religion.

    Freeman Dyson (2000)up

    Freeman Dyson is a physicist and mathematician and Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. His contributions to science include the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga. Dyson’s writings on the meaning of science and its relation to other disciplines, especially religion and ethics, challenge humankind to reconcile technology and social justice.
     
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  35. Manus Domini

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    Your main points are three:

    A} just because a scientist did something doesn't mean we should follow

    B} God can neither be proven nor disproven

    C} Unknown quantities =/= God

    I can answer them in one word: Faith

    Yes, a five-letter word is my answer. Please prove that that is irrelevant and weak in evidence.

    Note, I am not trying to dissuade you from your opinion but show you why I believe what I believe.
     
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  36. Polaris

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    Yes, with the addition of "blindly".

    Somewhat incorrect. My point was that God cannot be disproven. There is a subtle but significant difference.

    Precisely.

    It is certainly not irrelevant. I never claimed that. Everyone is free to believe what they want.
    It is definitely weak in evidence, because expressing faith does not constitute evidence.

    Yes, of course. I appreciate that we are having a civil discussion.
     
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  37. Polaris

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    Max, thanks for the references. I shall check these out. When all is said and done, the opinions of scientists do not concern me. Their experimental evidence does.

    I could do a Google search, but none of the (credible) searches that I _have_ done indicate that scientists are more religious than normal folks. Hence, I asked you for a credible poll.

    I mean that polls conducted by overt propaganda machines like the Discovery Institute and subtle propaganda bodies like the Templeton Foundation don't count. It is like trusting cigarette companies' surveys on whether cigarettes are harmful.
     
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  38. max

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    The Galileo Controversy


    It is commonly believed that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for abandoning the geocentric (earth-at-the-center) view of the solar system for the heliocentric (sun-at-the-center) view.

    The Galileo case, for many anti-Catholics, is thought to prove that the Church abhors science, refuses to abandon outdated teachings, and is not infallible. For Catholics, the episode is often an embarrassment. It shouldn’t be.

    This tract provides a brief explanation of what really happened to Galileo.



    Anti-scientific?


    The Church is not anti-scientific. It has supported scientific endeavors for centuries. During Galileo’s time, the Jesuits had a highly respected group of astronomers and scientists in Rome. In addition, many notable scientists received encouragement and funding from the Church and from individual Church officials. Many of the scientific advances during this period were made either by clerics or as a result of Church funding.

    Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated his most famous work, On the Revolution of the Celestial Orbs, in which he gave an excellent account of heliocentricity, to Pope Paul III. Copernicus entrusted this work to Andreas Osiander, a Lutheran clergyman who knew that Protestant reaction to it would be negative, since Martin Luther seemed to have condemned the new theory, and, as a result, the book would be condemned. Osiander wrote a preface to the book, in which heliocentrism was presented only as a theory that would account for the movements of the planets more simply than geocentrism did—something Copernicus did not intend.

    Ten years prior to Galileo, Johannes Kepler
    published a heliocentric work that expanded on Copernicus’ work. As a result, Kepler also found opposition among his fellow Protestants for his heliocentric views and found a welcome reception among some Jesuits who were known for their scientific achievements.



    Clinging to Tradition?


    Anti-Catholics often cite the Galileo case as an example of the Church refusing to abandon outdated or incorrect teaching, and clinging to a "tradition." They fail to realize that the judges who presided over Galileo’s case were not the only people who held to a geocentric view of the universe. It was the received view among scientists at the time.

    Centuries earlier, Aristotle had refuted heliocentricity, and by Galileo’s time, nearly every major thinker subscribed to a geocentric view. Copernicus refrained from publishing his heliocentric theory for some time, not out of fear of censure from the Church, but out of fear of ridicule from his colleagues.

    Many people wrongly believe Galileo proved heliocentricity. He could not answer the strongest argument against it, which had been made nearly two thousand years earlier by Aristotle: If heliocentrism were true, then there would be observable parallax shifts in the stars’ positions as the earth moved in its orbit around the sun. However, given the technology of Galileo’s time, no such shifts in their positions could be observed. It would require more sensitive measuring equipment than was available in Galileo’s day to document the existence of these shifts, given the stars’ great distance. Until then, the available evidence suggested that the stars were fixed in their positions relative to the earth, and, thus, that the earth and the stars were not moving in space—only the sun, moon, and planets were.

    Thus Galileo did not prove the theory by the Aristotelian standards of science in his day. In his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina and other documents, Galileo claimed that the Copernican theory had the "sensible demonstrations" needed according to Aristotelian science, but most knew that such demonstrations were not yet forthcoming. Most astronomers in that day were not convinced of the great distance of the stars that the Copernican theory required to account for the absence of observable parallax shifts. This is one of the main reasons why the respected astronomer Tycho Brahe refused to adopt Copernicus fully.

    Galileo could have safely proposed heliocentricity as a theory or a method to more simply account for the planets’ motions. His problem arose when he stopped proposing it as a scientific theory and began proclaiming it as truth, though there was no conclusive proof of it at the time. Even so, Galileo would not have been in so much trouble if he had chosen to stay within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology. But, despite his friends’ warnings, he insisted on moving the debate onto theological grounds.

    In 1614, Galileo felt compelled to answer the charge that this "new science" was contrary to certain Scripture passages. His opponents pointed to Bible passages with statements like, "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed . . ." (Josh. 10:13). This is not an isolated occurrence. Psalms 93 and 104 and Ecclesiastes 1:5 also speak of celestial motion and terrestrial stability. A literalistic reading of these passages would have to be abandoned if the heliocentric theory were adopted. Yet this should not have posed a problem. As Augustine put it, "One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For he willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians." Following Augustine’s example, Galileo urged caution in not interpreting these biblical statements too literally.

    Unfortunately, throughout Church history there have been those who insist on reading the Bible in a more literal sense than it was intended. They fail to appreciate, for example, instances in which Scripture uses what is called "phenomenological" language—that is, the language of appearances. Just as we today speak of the sun rising and setting to cause day and night, rather than the earth turning, so did the ancients. From an earthbound perspective, the sun does appear to rise and appear to set, and the earth appears to be immobile. When we describe these things according to their appearances, we are using phenomenological language.

    The phenomenological language concerning the motion of the heavens and the non-motion of the earth is obvious to us today, but was less so in previous centuries. Scripture scholars of the past were willing to consider whether particular statements were to be taken literally or phenomenologically, but they did not like being told by a non-Scripture scholar, such as Galileo, that the words of the sacred page must be taken in a particular sense.

    During this period, personal interpretation of Scripture was a sensitive subject. In the early 1600s, the Church had just been through the Reformation experience, and one of the chief quarrels with Protestants was over individual interpretation of the Bible.

    Theologians were not prepared to entertain the heliocentric theory based on a layman’s interpretation. Yet Galileo insisted on moving the debate into a theological realm. There is little question that if Galileo had kept the discussion within the accepted boundaries of astronomy (i.e., predicting planetary motions) and had not claimed physical truth for the heliocentric theory, the issue would not have escalated to the point it did. After all, he had not proved the new theory beyond reasonable doubt.



    Galileo "Confronts" Rome


    Galileo came to Rome to see Pope Paul V (1605-1621). The pope, weary of controversy, turned the matter over to the Holy Office, which issued a condemnation of Galileo’s theory in 1616. Things returned to relative quiet for a time, until Galileo forced another showdown.

    At Galileo’s request, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit—one of the most important Catholic theologians of the day—issued a certificate that, although it forbade Galileo to hold or defend the heliocentric theory, did not prevent him from conjecturing it. When Galileo met with the new pope, Urban VIII, in 1623, he received permission from his longtime friend to write a work on heliocentrism, but the new pontiff cautioned him not to advocate the new position, only to present arguments for and against it. When Galileo wrote the Dialogue on the Two World Systems, he used an argument the pope had offered, and placed it in the mouth of his character Simplicio. Galileo, perhaps inadvertently, made fun of the pope, a result that could only have disastrous consequences. Urban felt mocked and could not believe how his friend could disgrace him publicly. Galileo had mocked the very person he needed as a benefactor. He also alienated his long-time supporters, the Jesuits, with attacks on one of their astronomers. The result was the infamous trial, which is still heralded as the final separation of science and religion.



    Tortured for His Beliefs?


    In the end, Galileo recanted his heliocentric teachings, but it was not—as is commonly supposed—under torture nor after a harsh imprison- ment. Galileo was, in fact, treated surprisingly well.

    As historian Giorgio de Santillana, who is not overly fond of the Catholic Church, noted, "We must, if anything, admire the cautiousness and legal scruples of the Roman authorities." Galileo was offered every convenience possible to make his imprisonment in his home bearable.

    Galileo’s friend Nicolini, Tuscan ambassador to the Vatican, sent regular reports to the court regarding affairs in Rome. Many of his letters dealt with the ongoing controversy surrounding Galileo.
     
    #88
  39. max

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    Nicolini revealed the circumstances surrounding Galileo’s "imprisonment" when he reported to the Tuscan king: "The pope told me that he had shown Galileo a favor never accorded to another" (letter dated Feb. 13, 1633); " . . . he has a servant and every convenience" (letter, April 16); and "n regard to the person of Galileo, he ought to be imprisoned for some time because he disobeyed the orders of 1616, but the pope says that after the publication of the sentence he will consider with me as to what can be done to afflict him as little as possible" (letter, June 18).

    Had Galileo been tortured, Nicolini would have reported it to his king. While instruments of torture may have been present during Galileo’s recantation (this was the custom of the legal system in Europe at that time), they definitely were not used.

    The records demonstrate that Galileo could not be tortured because of regulations laid down in The Directory for Inquisitors (Nicholas Eymeric, 1595). This was the official guide of the Holy Office, the Church office charged with dealing with such matters, and was followed to the letter.

    As noted scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead remarked, in an age that saw a large number of "witches" subjected to torture and execution by Protestants in New England, "the worst that happened to the men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof." Even so, the Catholic Church today acknowledges that Galileo’s condemnation was wrong. The Vatican has even issued two stamps of Galileo as an expression of regret for his mistreatment.



    Infallibility


    Although three of the ten cardinals who judged Galileo refused to sign the verdict, his works were eventually condemned. Anti-Catholics often assert that his conviction and later rehabilitation somehow disproves the doctrine of papal infallibility, but this is not the case, for the pope never tried to make an infallible ruling concerning Galileo’s views.

    The Church has never claimed ordinary tribunals, such as the one that judged Galileo, to be infallible. Church tribunals have disciplinary and juridical authority only; neither they nor their decisions are infallible.

    No ecumenical council met concerning Galileo, and the pope was not at the center of the discussions, which were handled by the Holy Office. When the Holy Office finished its work, Urban VIII ratified its verdict, but did not attempt to engage infallibility.

    Three conditions must be met for a pope to exercise the charism of infallibility: (1) he must speak in his official capacity as the successor of Peter; (2) he must speak on a matter of faith or morals; and (3) he must solemnly define the doctrine as one that must be held by all the faithful.

    In Galileo’s case, the second and third conditions were not present, and possibly not even the first. Catholic theology has never claimed that a mere papal ratification of a tribunal decree is an exercise of infallibility. It is a straw man argument to represent the Catholic Church as having infallibly defined a scientific theory that turned out to be false. The strongest claim that can be made is that the Church of Galileo’s day issued a non-infallible disciplinary ruling concerning a scientist who was advocating a new and still-unproved theory and demanding that the Church change its understanding of Scripture to fit his.

    It is a good thing that the Church did not rush to embrace Galileo’s views, because it turned out that his ideas were not entirely correct, either. Galileo believed that the sun was not just the fixed center of the solar system but the fixed center of the universe. We now know that the sun is not the center of the universe and that it does move—it simply orbits the center of the galaxy rather than the earth.

    As more recent science has shown, both Galileo and his opponents were partly right and partly wrong. Galileo was right in asserting the mobility of the earth and wrong in asserting the immobility of the sun. His opponents were right in asserting the mobility of the sun and wrong in asserting the immobility of the earth.

    Had the Catholic Church rushed to endorse Galileo’s views—and there were many in the Church who were quite favorable to them—the Church would have embraced what modern science has disproved.
     
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  40. max

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    . . . of course, the whole episode shows the difficulties of closely tying church rules to secular authority.

    Sharia law anyone?
     
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  41. Manus Domini

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    I forgot blindly :oops:

    Faith is evidence enough for me. Why do courts have "experts"? Because people have faith in others who are qualified.
     
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  42. Polaris

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    Max, Thanks for the article. I read it.

    Firstly, it is posted from catholic.com, which isn't really expected to provide an objective picture of events.

    Secondly, the writer clearly calls people who don't share his view as anti-Catholic. This is oversimplified at best, wrong at worst.

    Thirdly, he resorts to the commonly used tactic of "blacken the subject in question", by patronizingly pointing out that Galileo wasn't the first to demolish the geo-centric universe. The implication is that the church's critics, those scientifically minded folks have not even heard of Copernicus! Underestimating one's ideological opponent is not advisable. Perhaps it should be pointed out to him, that even before all of these people, Hindu scripture has been completely comfortable with the notion of a universe millions of years old, and some portions of it are clearly humbler than the church's theism. "Maybe God knows who or what created the world", it says (I paraphrase), "and maybe, he knows not".

    Fourthly, he outrightly denies documented history by writing that the church is not anti-science, and by diminishing its role in the persecution. It is known that Galileo faced persecution from religious authority. Whether it was a particular church, or a particular pontiff, or a particular faction, is a matter of piddling and irrelevant detail.

    Fifthly, it is revisionist in that it tries to glorify its own blunders, by repainting them as skepticism, as follows:
    This is disingenuous in the extreme! To claim that they were skeptical of Galileo who later turned out to be wrong, is in direct contrast to the overwhelmingly held Christian and Catholic views of the world, that continue to be held despite mountains of scientific evidence. For e.g., that the world is 6000 years old, whereas all scientific evidence points to a much older universe. As Dawkins loves to quip, the church's embarrassing error in postulating the age of the universe is equivalent to saying that the distance between NY and SFO is a few yards. The church has absolutely no leg to stand on, let on point fingers and say to Galileo, "See, we knew there was something wrong about your theories!". Next, are they going to revise their history of Darwin and say "Hey, we're skeptical about Darwinism because Darwin knew nothing about genes, and so he made some mistakes in his theory. So, we were just withholding judgement, until the matter became clearer, you know. All this creationist rhetoric in schools was just an eyewash for our genuine scientific curiosity!!",

    That last bit was extremely annoying. Science does not claim to be right. It hypothesizes, experiments, and discards hypotheses when they are found to be wrong. This is unlike the Church. For two thousand years, they have maintained that the earth is 6000 years old, that evolution didn't happen, and so on. For the writer to cast false aspersions on Galileo in order to make the Church look good using selective confirmation bias is pernicious and immoral. I am genuinely saddened and angered by the fact that people believe articles like these.

    Religious people ought to be honest with themselves, just like everyone else. The reason that an organization (which is what a church is) opposes Galileo is not because they are thinking of a much larger universe than Galileo's piddling heliocentric universe. It is because they feel threatened that Galileo will demolish their idea of a trivial geocentric universe. The reason that an organization opposes Darwin is not because they are thinking of a much more accurate explanation of heredity and the propagation of species. It is because they feel threatened that Darwin will demolish their unproven idea of an interventionist creator.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
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  43. Manus Domini

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    Bolded my replies in there. This will be a fun non-trolling (for anyone who tries to get this thread deleted for religious trolling) debate :)
     
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  44. Polaris

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    I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with people claiming that it was something other than keeping face.

    This is true, yes.

    Thanks, yes. I hope that some of his readers told him that.

    For all practical purposes: Creationism = Intelligent Design. Actually, the ICR and the Discovery Institute have been found guilty of taking creationist texts, and replacing all "creation" references by "intelligent design". Like literally, using "Find and Replace" in a word processor! It was funny, actually. I believe they found a work like "intelligent designist" or something and that clued them in that someone just replaced one word by the other. It is just a political redefinition. They are the same thing. I actually attended a presentation from a Harvard Biology Ph.D. who went on to deny all that he had done in his Ph.D. and espoused Intelligent design! Then, when people pressed him, he was forced to admit that it is just Creationism. Guy's name is Nathaniel Jeanson and he gave this talk at the Longwood Galleria in Boston. If you leave aside Deepak Chopra who is a true charlatan, Jeanson's speech was among the most shocking scientifically bankrupt talks I have ever heard anyone give. The guy had a bright future, and I was sad that the ICR, Discovery Institute and his own Church lured him with money and God. :(

    True, but it is debatable whether his Catholicism motivated him to do research. It might have, though. I can accept that.

    Yes, I'm glad that this thread has lasted for as long as it has.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
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  45. Manus Domini

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    Ok nice we are on the same page.

    You claimed it was false :p

    Catholic MD: 1, Polaris: 1000000000000000 lol

    They probably did lol

    I was always told Intelligent Design=theistic evolution guided by the Christian God. Well. I'll look into it tomorrow with my religion teacher. I'm theistic evolutionist, but not a fundemental creationist. Creationism has very weak defenses. Have you seen Inherit the Wind? I love the battle between the lawyers about the rock's age and the age of the earth lol

    I think it did. Again, I will look into it.

    Because we are insulting no religious group, and are having civil discussion. It better stay open, this is interesting, unlike the Paris Lowhand and Kimmy Cardishin junk we see in society
     
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  46. mightyrick

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    After reading the last 10 posts, I'm still trying to figure out what you guys are even debating about.
     
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  47. Polaris

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    The topic keeps jumping around. Is that a surprise to you? BTW, if you actually read the last 10 posts, Kudos! You are now officially in the top 2 percentile of TT@TW posters! :)
     
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  48. Manus Domini

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    Neither do we. We are just having fun like normal Americans. Debating points of theological, philosophical, and historical interest based on years minutes of study and proof texting. In addition, we are making use of our rhetorical skills strengthened by years of debate on galimatias in the Agora, and are vying for 2011's Ostrakos Award lol
     
    #98
  49. max

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    Someone trying to paint the Catholic Church as anti-science either has some weird personal crotchet or simply hasn't done any elementary fact-finding. The Galileo thing is old and very misconstrued, as most charges against the church are, sadly enough. Much antireligious propaganda (and ignorance) out there.
     
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  50. max

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