Monday, September 20, 2010

Richard Dawkins incites anti-Catholic hatred



And before the learned Professor disses His Grace again or mobilises his hate-filled disciples or deigns to refer to His Grace’s writing as ‘nasty’, perhaps he would acknowledge that at least His Grace is sufficiently secure in his beliefs and broad in his worldview to entertain the Professor’s views upon his blog, while that of the Professor, which purports to be a ‘Clear Thinking Oasis’, admits of no view but the Professor’s insular own.

It is not, of course, the first time.

Though the eminent Professor never had the courtesy to reply.

Perhaps there weren’t enough book sales in it to make it worth his while.

Freedom of speech; freedom of expression; freedom of association; freedom to offend – these are the precious liberties of our liberal democracy, the acquisition of which over the centuries has been a cause of great suffering and not infrequently horrific torture and death. These foundations are being chipped and cracked to a perilous degree, and it is only a matter of time before the whole edifice crumbles to dust.

Richard Dawkins is one of the Pope’s ‘aggressive secularists’ who are rendering the public sphere increasingly illiberal to expressions of faith, deceptively under the guise of enlightenment. But his dogma is as absolute as any fundamentalist religion; his demands as uncompromising as any divine precept. Professor Richard Dawkins has become the self-appointed infallible prophet of the sharia of biological evolution.

As one might expect, he immerses his audience in a predictable flood of indignation: most of it anti-Ratzinger, much of it anti-Catholic, some of it anti-Christian. He often confuses fact with opinion and conflates historical proposition with scientific method, But His Grace does not demur from the Professor’s anger at the Pope’s purposeful juxtaposition of atheism with Nazism. It was not quite as inopportune as quoting a Byzantine emperor on Mohammed or the incommunication of a holocaust denier, but it was hardly a textbook example of missionary inculturation.

Not to believe in God does not make one evil: indeed, there are many who profess God, even the Christian one, and are utterly depraved in their morality and desiccated in their spirituality. And His Grace has said and made it clear that he would rather engage with an honest, self-confessed atheist than with a duplicitous hypocrite who professes to be Christian.

Christians can learn many lessons from the aggressive secularists – like how not to communicate, how not to coerce or impose and how not to disregard the sincerely-held beliefs of millions of rational and reasonable people.

Perhaps the aggressive secularists might reciprocally consider that not all Christians hold to papal teaching on contraception, or that homosexuals are ‘intrinsically disordered’, or that liberation theology is dangerously subversive, or that paedophile priests have lost their free will and those who covered up such heinous crimes should be protected.

But many of those who do hold such views also work tirelessly for the common good, often for nothing, at great expense and huge personal cost.

There are not many aggressive secularists who work for any motive other than personal gain.

There is a balance to be struck between the freedom of individuals and what best serves the common good. This is, of course, the realm of politics. One can be short-term and pragmatic about it, or visionary and prophetic. Prime ministers have elections to win; popes do not. The prophet does not have to concern himself with coercive democratic populism; the politician does not have the luxury to be a philosopher-king.

Professor Dawkins does not need religion, but he cannot abjure politics. And politics needs the insights of religion, especially if that religion is intrinsic to societal cohesion and the pursuit of the common good. He appears to be incapable of perceiving religion as anything other than unconstrained sectarianism and bigoted fundamentalism. Certainly, there is much of it about. But the Anglican tradition has fused faith, tradition and reason in a benign via media, and forged a place for the expression of religious belief within the political process. It does not eschew secular rationality, but the aggressive secularists repudiate the world of religious belief.

In the present context of pervasive Newmania, perhaps Professor Dawkins might join with the Blessed John Henry in his famous toast: ‘To conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards!’.

That is Protestant liberation.

It is the fount of the very liberty by which Professor Dawkins is free to pour out his hateful invective.

But Roman Catholics are an easy target, Professor, for they are bound to respond in love. And so is His Holiness the Pope, for he is obliged to turn the other cheek.

Let us see you ascend your secular pulpit and proclaim your sermon of damnation to Islam. Defame their Prophet as you denigrate the Pope. Mock Qur'anic teachings as you pour scorn over Catholic theology.

There will undoubtedly be a few book sales in that.

There will also be danger.

But then you might begin to understand the importance of the primacy of the liberty of conscience.

178 Comments:

Blogger Botogol said...

to be fair - the reason he was attacking a Pope on Saturday, and not an Ayatollah, was becasue it was the Pope who was parading around London on a state visti inviting the approbation of the crowds. If an Ayatollah ever did the same I have no doubt that Dawkins would be adressing the protest rally.

20 September 2010 at 10:31  
Anonymous BryantPedia said...

Your Grace has read my mind! >>> http://twitter.com/BryantPedia/status/24941054094

20 September 2010 at 10:34  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

The difficulty for Dawkins and those foolish atheists is that once revealed truth is denied there is no basis for making moral judgments.


‘When asked in an interview, "If we do not acknowledge some sort of external [standard], what is to prevent us from saying that the Muslim [extremists] aren’t right?", Dawkins replied, "What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question, but whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible. If it was, we’d be stoning people for breaking the Sabbath."
The interviewer wrote, regarding the Hitler comment, "I was stupefied. He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point."’

From Conservapedia

20 September 2010 at 10:48  
Anonymous The Ancient said...

Let us see you ascend your secular pulpit and proclaim your sermon of damnation to Islam.

I very much doubt the good professor would care to see his own head treated with the same casual derision that now afflicts the partial remains of Jeremy Bentham.

P.S. Your Grace -- Like so many others, I'm happy to see you back, fighting the good fight.

20 September 2010 at 10:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe not altogether relevant - an interview with Scott Hahn about Dawkins' book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc8oRO0XfkQ&feature=related

20 September 2010 at 11:25  
Anonymous R said...

Recently, a lefty friend of mine told me that he was considering giving up his (very liberal) religion altogether following a reading of Dawkins.

This made me wonder what Marx himself would say about Dawkins & co.

Would the man who wrote that "religion is the opium of the masses" slap old Dickie D on the back and applaud his efforts? I imagine most lefty-atheists think he would.

On the other hand, reading Spiked-Online has made me wonder if Marx would be upset at the sincere expression of long-suppressed human yearning was being dismissed as the domain of a few bloody fools.

As for the 'positive' tendency of Dawkins etc. towards 'scientific naturalism' - well, I am not a Marxist, but I can't but think Karl would be horrified. Rich, educated, Western scientist-priests dictating dogmatic metaphysical truths based on an intellectual system so complicated that, I'm afraid, you wouldn't be able understand (unless you have a PhD in zoology) and in a language far more opaque than medieval latin? Crikey.

(Yes lefties, I am saying that you are only embracing Dawkins cos he lets you have your cake and eat it: you get to be good-hearted, enlightened liberals AND still believe that the West is the best! Surely it is not too long before we see atheist missionaries heading into darkest Africa, clutching copies of The God Delusion and holding Victorian ideas about bringing civilisation and enlightenment with them?)

20 September 2010 at 12:07  
Anonymous rose said...

On the BBC's Today programme AC Grayling compared the RC church to a drug cartel - the day the Pope arrived.

20 September 2010 at 12:10  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr D Singh's citation of the interview with Dawkins, if a true account of what The Dawk actually said, reveals something other than 'intellectual honesty.' It reveals complete idiocy. Here goes:

'‘When asked in an interview, "If we do not acknowledge some sort of external [standard], what is to prevent us from saying that the Muslim [extremists] aren’t right?", Dawkins replied, "What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question, but whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible. If it was, we’d be stoning people for breaking the Sabbath."’

Apart from a profound ignorance of the Bible, to which he has the nerve to refer, The Dawk shows not intellectual honesty but distressing inconsistency. He says,"What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right?", in other words, as the interviewer observes, there is no rational basis for moral judgements, but then goes on to dismiss airily one particular set of moral judgements. To put it briefly, The Dawk tells us that any standard of morality is defensible except that of the Bible.

He won't accept the Bible as a standard because he doesn't happen to like it.

His grounds for not liking it are lost in the relativistic stew of his ethical thinking. "I can't say that Hitler's views were wrong; but I can say that those of the Bible are wrong." This, from a man who has no basis whatsoever even for using the concept of 'wrong', and who insists that we all conform to his alleged logical rigour.

20 September 2010 at 12:16  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

"Freedom of speech; freedom of expression; freedom of association; freedom to offend"

Despite your claims to the contrary. I have never heard Dawkins deny these freedoms to those who he considers to be wrong or "nasty". Where is your evidence?

Just because people disagree with you strongly it doesn't mean that they wish to deny your right to free speech. Perhaps you are making the assumption that your opponents think the say way as yourself?

20 September 2010 at 12:32  
Anonymous tory boys never grow up said...

D Singh

It is quite possible for atheists and agnostics to draw upon the values and beliefs developed by religions. They do believe them to be man made, and they can appreciate that that people may be right on somethings while still being wrong/not having sufficent evidence to support their views on the existence of gods.

In my own experience many of those who have very strong beliefs on atheism/agnosticism are often highly moral individuals on a personal level probably because they have spent some time thinking about such matters. The same also applies to those with deep religous beliefs.

20 September 2010 at 12:47  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer said...

Perhaps the aggressive secularists might reciprocally consider that not all Christians hold to papal teaching on contraception, or that homosexuals are ‘intrinsically disordered’, or that liberation theology is dangerously subversive, or that paedophile priests have lost their free will and those who covered up such heinous crimes should be protected. But many of those who do work tirelessly for the common good, often for nothing, at great expense and huge personal cost.

You have just said that working “tirelessly for the common good” (whatever that means) excuses the cover up of heinous crimes. I cannot believe that is what you meant to say so please clarify.

I was at the Protest the Pope rally and the most moving speech was by an American victim of rape by a catholic priest. She said she was overwhelmed by the support and concern of the 10,000-20,000 people who attended the march. This was in stark contrast to the despicable bullying that she received from the church when she tried to tell them what had happened.

The opinions of many here are beneath contempt. Even now the church must be protected from aggressive secularists rather than accept the horrors perpetrated in its name and by its represntatives. The catholic church is morally bankrupt and those who remain within and hope that its heinous crimes will somehow go away should hang their heads in shame.

20 September 2010 at 12:47  
Anonymous Katayusha said...

Monday 13 September 2010
How the New Atheists are abusing the truth
Did Catholic priests really rape 10,000 children over the past 50 years, as respectable media outlets claim? No, they didn't.
Brendan O’Neill
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/printable/9548/


Apparently the British state is about to roll out the red carpet for a seriously evil rape facilitator. Pope Benedict XVI is the boss of a church that acts as a ‘patron, protector and financier of child rape’, says one secularist writer. Last week the UK Independent reported that in America, ‘over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped as part of this misery-go-round’ overseen by His Holiness and His Lackeys. In Ireland alone, a tiny country of 4.5million people, ‘Thousands were raped in reform schools’, said a British broadsheet headline last year, ramming home the ugly truth of how many kids have been raped by the Catholic Church’s army of paedophile priests.

But how true is this ugly truth? Were 10,000 children in America and thousands more in Ireland really raped by Catholic priests? In a word, no. Instead, what has happened is that in the increasingly caliginous, almost Inquisitorial mindset of sections of the New Atheist anti-pope lobby, every allegation of abuse against a Catholic priest - whether it involved sex talk or fondling or actual penile penetration - has been lumped together under the heading of ‘rape’, and every allegation has been described as an actual proven ‘rape’ regardless of whether it resulted in a legal trial, never mind a conviction.

20 September 2010 at 12:52  
Blogger D. Singh said...

TBNGU: ‘Despite your claims to the contrary. I have never heard Dawkins deny these freedoms to those who he considers to be wrong or "nasty". Where is your evidence?’

Dawkins: ‘"What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question…’

Genuinely difficult? After the murder of six million Jews?

Do you agree?

20 September 2010 at 12:52  
Anonymous Katayusha said...

The term ‘paedophile priest’ has become such a part of everyday cultural lingo that most people, when they read in last week’s relatively respectable UK Independent that ‘over 10,000 children have come forward to say they were raped [by Catholic priests]’, would probably think, ‘Yeah, that’s possible’. But it isn’t true. The Independent was referring to a study commissioned in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was published in 2004 under the heading ‘The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States’. This study covered the period of 1950 to 2002, and it did indeed find that 10,000 individuals in the US - 10,667, to be precise - had made allegations of sexual abuse against priests (against 4,392 priests in total, around four per cent of the 109,694 Catholic priests active in the US between 1950 and 2002). But this doesn’t mean that these 10,000 ‘[came] forward to say they were raped’.

The 10,667 made various allegations, ranging from verbal abuse (being forced to indulge in sex talk) to being shown pornography to being touched by a priest over or under their clothing. Then there were the more serious allegations, which included being coerced into mutual masturbation, oral sex and, in some instances, rape. Yet where 3,553 of the individuals claimed to have been touched over their clothing and 3,981 to have been touched under their clothing, a smaller number claimed to have been subjected to what is described in the report as ‘penile penetration or attempted penile penetration’, that is rape or attempted rape; 990 boys and 213 girls made this allegation – a total of 1,203 individuals, not 10,000.

Moreover, if we are serious about such Enlightened ideals as justice and equality before the law, then we have to accept the fact that not all of these allegations were ultimately proven to be true. Out of the 10,000-plus allegations made against priests in America, 3,300 were not investigated at all because they were made after the accused priest had died (surely even the most riled anti-pope commentator accepts that a man who is no longer around to defend himself cannot be convicted of a crime). Of the 4,392 priests in America who were accused of sexual abuse in the period of 1950 to 2002, 1,021 were investigated by the police, and of these, 384 were charged, of whom 252 were convicted. So around six per cent of all American priests who had allegations made against them were finally convicted. (Of course there are many reasons for this relatively tiny number of convictions: some alleged victims were pressured to keep quiet; some (25 per cent in the US) didn’t make their allegations for more than 30 years after the alleged incident occurred; and in some instances there was just a lack of evidence.)

So nothing like 10,000 individuals in America ‘say they were raped’ by Catholic priests. In truth, 1,203 made this allegation. And not all of them resulted in a conviction. Every allegation of rape should be treated seriously, of course, but what happened to the idea of innocent until proven guilty? How did a complex US report about all manner of allegations against priests come to be translated in the words of the Independent into the idea that ‘over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped [by priests]’? Because in the outlook of certain sections of the intolerant New Atheist lobby, everything from sex talk to fondling to being shown a porn flick is ‘rape’ - if it’s done by a priest, that is - and every priest is guilty of what he is accused of despite the question of whether or not he was convicted in a court of law.

20 September 2010 at 12:53  
Anonymous Katayusha said...

How the New Atheists are abusing the truth
Did Catholic priests really rape 10,000 children over the past 50 years, as respectable media outlets claim? No, they didn't.
Brendan O’Neill
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/printable/9548/

Apparently the British state is about to roll out the red carpet for a seriously evil rape facilitator. Pope Benedict XVI is the boss of a church that acts as a ‘patron, protector and financier of child rape’, says one secularist writer. Last week the UK Independent reported that in America, ‘over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped as part of this misery-go-round’ overseen by His Holiness and His Lackeys. In Ireland alone, a tiny country of 4.5million people, ‘Thousands were raped in reform schools’, said a British broadsheet headline last year, ramming home the ugly truth of how many kids have been raped by the Catholic Church’s army of paedophile priests.

But how true is this ugly truth? Were 10,000 children in America and thousands more in Ireland really raped by Catholic priests? In a word, no. Instead, what has happened is that in the increasingly caliginous, almost Inquisitorial mindset of sections of the New Atheist anti-pope lobby, every allegation of abuse against a Catholic priest - whether it involved sex talk or fondling or actual penile penetration - has been lumped together under the heading of ‘rape’, and every allegation has been described as an actual proven ‘rape’ regardless of whether it resulted in a legal trial, never mind a conviction.

The term ‘paedophile priest’ has become such a part of everyday cultural lingo that most people, when they read in last week’s relatively respectable UK Independent that ‘over 10,000 children have come forward to say they were raped [by Catholic priests]’, would probably think, ‘Yeah, that’s possible’. But it isn’t true. The Independent was referring to a study commissioned in 2002 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was published in 2004 under the heading ‘The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States’. This study covered the period of 1950 to 2002, and it did indeed find that 10,000 individuals in the US - 10,667, to be precise - had made allegations of sexual abuse against priests (against 4,392 priests in total, around four per cent of the 109,694 Catholic priests active in the US between 1950 and 2002). But this doesn’t mean that these 10,000 ‘[came] forward to say they were raped’.

20 September 2010 at 12:54  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Graham Davis,

His Grace has said nothing of the sort. The word 'excuses' appears nowhere in his text. It is perfectly possible to hold to any of those beliefs, however offensive each may may be, and still work for the 'common good' (look it up).

20 September 2010 at 13:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father told me you can judge a mans character by the company he keeps. How sad, look how far Richard Dawkins has fallen, hanging round with the likes of Peter Tatchell. Doesn't Richard realise that Peters lifestyle disproves Darwins Theory of Evolution?

20 September 2010 at 13:23  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I'm inclined to believe that Dawkins is a publicity whore who takes every opportunity to promote his own brand of zealotry. We have the right not to pay attention to his ranting because neither opinion nor rationalisation constitute empirical evidence that deities do not exist. Without evidence his claims mean precisely San Ferry Ann. As a scientist he should know that. Meanwhile I'll remain open minded.

Mind you, it would be interesting to see him take on the Muzzies. Anyone want to take bets on how fast they would jihad his nether cheeks?

20 September 2010 at 13:29  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Cranmer

You have just repeated the offence! You said it is possible to hold offensive views and still work for the common good. Can you not say the absurdity of that statement? The papal teaching on contraception is not simply offensive it is immoral.

In the third world hundreds of thousands of babies die in infancy every year because their parents are too poor to support a family of 10 or so children. The reason they have so many children is because unlike their first world counterparts they do not use contraception because the catholic church tells them it is a sin.

So this is you idea of working for the common good!

20 September 2010 at 13:41  
Blogger I am Stan said...

"jihad his nether cheeks?

lol..:)

20 September 2010 at 13:46  
Blogger DaveF said...

Gnostic:

Dawkins won't take on the Moslems; he doesn't have the intestinal fortitude. He's like a playground bully who loves to pick on those whose principles don't lead to a vicious retaliation. If he had some reasonable and valid arguments I would respect him, but all he does it to recycle his prejudices.

20 September 2010 at 13:49  
Blogger D. Singh said...

‘The reason they have so many children is because unlike their first world counterparts they do not use contraception because the catholic church tells them it is a sin.’

And in a ‘first world’ country like Britain the teachers flick condoms at their pupils’ faces and we still have the highest abortion and pregnancy rates in Europe.

20 September 2010 at 13:49  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

Perhaps you would address this particular issue....

In the third world hundreds of thousands of babies die in infancy every year because their parents are too poor to support a family of 10 or so children. The reason they have so many children is because unlike their first world counterparts they do not use contraception because the catholic church tells them it is a sin.

...and tell me how this is morally acceptable

20 September 2010 at 13:52  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

What is the purpose of sexual intercourse?

20 September 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger I am Stan said...

Your Grace,

The Pope`s charm, goodwill and sincerity has dealt the odious and spiritually vacant Prof Dorkins and co a holy right hook.

Dorky and his disciples are now combing an empty beach, spitting out the foul taste of defeat wondering how their sand castle of darkness was washed away by a four day tide of reverence,belief and worship.

Tatchell with his cracked bucket, Dorkins with his torn net,both empty,pointless, worn out,exposed and defeated.

20 September 2010 at 14:14  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

Your moral cowardice knows no bounds. Why did I expect you to answer such a simple question.

20 September 2010 at 14:18  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

Your expectation was fullfilled.

20 September 2010 at 14:20  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Mr Graham Davis

Despite having ready access to contraception, millions of babies are killed in utero in the 'developed' world because they are a nuisance or an economic burden because secular humanism says that to let them live would be a sin

.. can you tell how this is morally acceptable?

Your faux concern for the suffering of the 3rd world makes me want to vomit.

20 September 2010 at 14:22  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Many here are so blinded by a fear that the faith in which they have invested so much may be nothing more that an evaporating puddle that they swathe themselves in cloak of self-righteousness never having the courage to answer criticism.

20 September 2010 at 14:43  
Blogger D. Singh said...

‘To conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards!’.

‘That is Protestant liberation.

‘It is the fount of the very liberty by which Professor Dawkins is free to pour out his hateful invective.’

Dawkins has signed this petition:

‘We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.

‘In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.’

If the State acquiesces, how will the State prevent parents from teaching their children about Jesus?

Dawkins and his supporters invite State repression. But that is only to be expected as they see human beings not as moral agents but as collections of molecules.

20 September 2010 at 14:46  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Mr Davis, can I ask you to kindly put a condom on your head, where your dick is. [Apologies YG!] That might stop us all getting infected with your bilious nonsense.

20 September 2010 at 14:49  
Blogger Theresa said...

Your Grace

I think the Pope was telling it like it is; the 20th century was an age of aggressive secularism and as someone who lived through it, he had every right to comment on it. Sometimes I think the trouble with Britain is that it hasn't been invaded since 1066 and as a result we have less idea of what it is like to live under totalitarianism. The pope as a European, is giving us a warning from the past, and Dawkins and co would do well to pay heed to it.

Oh, and welcome back, your grace. You've been missed.

20 September 2010 at 15:08  
Blogger D. Singh said...

TBNGU at 12.47

‘It is quite possible for atheists and agnostics to draw upon the values and beliefs developed by religions.’

Indeed they do by snapping them in half, producing a new ethic, and imposing it through State sponsored oppression.

Example:

‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’

The Socialist snaps that command in half: love thy neighbour.

That becomes a State demand through legislation.

And the result is that the Christian is driven out of the public square.

You can no more invent a new ethic that will not lead to disastrous consequences, than you can invent a new solar system.

20 September 2010 at 15:16  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Truth is the first casualty of faith. Rather than honestly confronting the consequences of their beliefs Catholics and their running dogs hide behind the frock of a corrupt Pope who presides over a jealously guarded, multi-billion dollar fortune rather than offer it to the poor as Jesus would surely have done. The spectacle is sickening and the hypocrisy breathtaking.

20 September 2010 at 15:17  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

It is written:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.

"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

20 September 2010 at 15:22  
Anonymous Dick the Prick said...

Your Grace

Bravo!

DtP

20 September 2010 at 15:27  
Anonymous IanCad said...

TBNGU @ 12:32
I hardly think you are correct on this. I have heard Dawkins, on an NPR interview, advocate for the criminilization of the teaching of Christianity to one's own children. Please do not annoint this intolerant showman with any semblance of liberality.

20 September 2010 at 15:32  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

Do you really think that if Jesus were alive today that he would be indulging himself in the splendours of Rome whilst millions suffer because of the grotesque teachings and abominable practices of the catholic church? If he was the man that most Christians claim then I trust he would be fighting for the poor, the ignorant and the oppressed rather than supporting policies the oppress them further.

20 September 2010 at 15:36  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

It is pleasing, Your Grace, to see that you have responded so wholeheartedly to the Pope's appeal for religionists everywhere to club together against nasty intolerant atheists (who are little better than Nazis). Given that the Catholic Church once burned you to death, you are displaying a truly superhuman ability to set aside such petty grievances in order to deal with the true serpent in our midst.

"Let us see you ascend your secular pulpit and proclaim your sermon of damnation to Islam."

Ah yes, that predicable request that we should attack your rival superstitions, thereby saving you the trouble. But in truth, Dawkins and the horrible "new atheists" have been very vocal about Islam, and in so doing have displayed considerably more courage than Your Grace.

"There will undoubtedly be a few book sales in that."

Hilarious. At least when you stop to consider all the printed rubbish clogging up the religious section at the bookshop, including of course that all time bestseller, the Bible.

20 September 2010 at 15:47  
Blogger Gnostic said...

D. Singh

TBNGU at 12.47

‘It is quite possible for atheists and agnostics to draw upon the values and beliefs developed by religions.’

Indeed they do by snapping them in half, producing a new ethic, and imposing it through State sponsored oppression.


As an agnostic I call BS on that. I adhere to the moral values taught me as a child and I spit in the face of State sponsored oppression. Please do not insinuate and accuse using discriminatory generalisations. It tiddles poeople off.

20 September 2010 at 15:54  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Dawkins specialised I believe in the bio-mechanics of animals and has a Chair at Oxford funded by Simonyi, a Hungarian who made his fortune at Microsoft and endowed a Chair so Dawkins could propagate and propound his new Cult of Anti-Religion with the full fervour of a Jesuit.

Unfortunately Dawkins is a bit of a cartoon character and hard to take seriously. There is nothing even remotely amusing about this sad misanthrope

20 September 2010 at 16:09  
Anonymous The Ultimate Pedant said...

Your Grace
It is good to have you back. Especially when you skewer the ungodly.

20 September 2010 at 16:09  
Anonymous Hank said...

Haha, Graham Davis, you are a joke. Seeing you get worked up is hilarious. So tell me, were you frothing at the mouth when you wrote

"Many here are so blinded by a fear that the faith in which they have invested so much may be nothing more that an evaporating puddle that they swathe themselves in cloak of self-righteousness never having the courage to answer criticism." ?

Bro, you're trying too hard! Lighten up! Stop listening to so much Bad Religion and try some Arcade Fire. Not only will you stop being so aggressive, but perhaps be in a better position to get laid. Seriously man, to write something so angry on a blog (a Christian blog no less!) really shows the world that you have some issues you need to work through. God bless!

Criticize all you want. Don't be a douchebag about it.

20 September 2010 at 16:26  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Glad you enjoy a joke Hank. Perhaps as a Christian you might give moments thought for a woman bleeding to death giving birth to her tenth child after being told by her priest that contraception is a sin. Yes Hanks it’s very funny isn’t it?

20 September 2010 at 16:34  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

First of all Your Grace, I am rolling around on the floor laughing in tears because I have this image of Mr Davis wearing a condom on his head.

I am only too glad we are all able to espouse our opinions in this way, it is surely a refreshing privilege.

God bless you all.

20 September 2010 at 16:49  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis

You have already established that there is no right or wrong. Therefore, one can only assume that this "Christian baiting" that you repeatedly pursue is purely for your own amusement. Something to pass the time until your molecules are redistributed?

20 September 2010 at 16:54  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

||Do you really think that if Jesus were alive today that he would be indulging himself in the splendours of Rome whilst millions suffer because of the grotesque teachings and abominable practices of the catholic church? If he was the man that most Christians claim then I trust he would be fighting for the poor, the ignorant and the oppressed rather than supporting policies the oppress them further.//

Mr Davis, it strikes me that a man who argues like this has more faith in the Lord Jesus than he realises.

God bless the Holy Spirit.

20 September 2010 at 16:54  
Blogger Botogol said...

I think that taking potshots at Dawkins might have diverted Your Grace and led you to underestimate the significance of the march on Saturday.

By all accounts more than 10,000people were there.

It must have been the largest demonstration in this country against a church (any church) in modern times. Perhaps for hundreds of years? (I have no doubt Your Grace will correct me if I am wrong).

10,000 people demonstrating against a church. Isn't that an interesting religio-political phenomenen? Yet Your Grace has missed it.

20 September 2010 at 17:09  
Anonymous Hank said...

Haha, Graham, you continue to be a giant tool bag. I've served as a mission aid worker in eastern and central Africa for the past several years. What you've dreamed up and imagined in your frothing from the mouth induced rage I've actually seen with my own eyes, and with my hands have buried the remains. In short, you know nothing, and have no moral authority what so ever. Stop being a dick, and perhaps people will listen to you.

20 September 2010 at 17:11  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I suspect that the Professor might be feeling a little vulnerable following the research in New Zealand which indicates that the calibration of the electro-magnetic force may differ in different parts of the Universe.

Stephen Hawking was able to say that it was not 'necessary" to have a Creator because there is a way that the "Universal Constants" could create a universe like ours given an infinity of them ( The "Multiverse" ) and an infinity of time.

If however, one "Universal Constant" is not er.... constant, there is no reason to believe that all the others are either, and the mathematical probability of any set of random variable "constants" creating a coherent life creating universe in the finite lifetime of any individual universe has become infinitely less probable.

Dawkins likes to jibe that Christians have an "Imaginary friend". We now know that not only does he have imaginary universes ( an infinite variety of them) for which there is not a shred of evidence, but that the probability of them delivering life has just become immeasurably less likely.

No wonder he prefers to attack Christians.

20 September 2010 at 17:12  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Well I am glad that I am keeping you all amused. Having had the snip I don’t have much use for condoms on my head or otherwise although I thoroughly recommend them for someone about to have sex with a partner who is HIV positive. I guess it has been exciting time for you lot, everyone talking about religion at least for a few days and what about Cranmer who rose from the dead (again) at such an opportune time. But you have had your moment, soon it will pass and all will be back to normal, i.e. a complete indifference towards religion by most people in the UK.

But all is not lost as the politicians are still in its thrall and doubtless we shall see some nice new Sharia Free Schools in the coming year so you have that to look forward to, or is that the wrong sort of God?

Thanks for the advice Hank, I assume you’re a yank Hank so let’s keep it simple, Africa eh, I am surprised you have heard of it, it’s where the poor black people are. A bit of advice, steer clear of northern Nigeria they don’t like Christians there, particularly the proselytizing types. If you do want to do a bit of good then try helping out in your own back yard and forget about god, there isn’t one!

20 September 2010 at 17:37  
Blogger falterer said...

Dawkins first refuted Ratzinger's claim that the Nazis "wished to eradicate God from society" by pointing out that Hitler considered himself a Roman Catholic who received apparent support from the Church during his lifetime. His point was clear, it was precise, it was relevant, and to suggest that it was intended to incite general hatred toward Catholics is deceitful, Cranmer.

Dawkins' second point was to list the offenses which Ratzinger, as the head of the Catholic church, is responsible for. He called Ratzinger an enemy of various fields, but at no point during the speech did he so much as hint at raising a fist against any Catholic, not even the Pope to whom his rebuke was so clearly and precisely directed.

You're suggesting that Dawkins was trying to incite hatred against all Catholics, or even against all Christians, when he was quite clearly and precisely explaining the crimes of Mr. Ratzinger and suggested physical harm to no human being. This is deceitful.

20 September 2010 at 17:52  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis says "although I thoroughly recommend them (condoms) for someone about to have sex with a partner who is HIV positive."

He is obviously a fan of Russian roulette!

20 September 2010 at 18:22  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

The Godless Delusion: Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism

20 September 2010 at 18:33  
Anonymous Hank said...

Graham, stop talking. You are embarrassing yourself. I'm a physician who specializes with women who are dying of AIDS.

And you are a tool.

20 September 2010 at 18:33  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Well I am glad that you are doing something useful. Unlike many here I am sure that you are an advocate of condom use (as a protection against infection) whether married or not, straight or gay?

20 September 2010 at 18:40  
Anonymous caesars wife said...

Graham Davies: why do athiest politcal constructs end up producuing corrupt despots that run there economies to create death amongst the poor , either by poor economics or mob/stais enforcers , perhaps they lack somthing ?
As to post I am still amazed at some of the early Dawkins televisual treats useually based around the brain and not conscience , for surely the brain is just a vessel as its corporeal , ergo if consience is enviromentally developed , god should have died out long ago rather than the socialists need/attempts to eradicate it .

20 September 2010 at 18:42  
Anonymous len said...

The 'good' Prof Dawkins doesn`t seem to be so much pro -truth as anti-God,and seeks to justify this position by whatever means possible.
Is this a scientific method or is he just outliving and promoting personal prejudices and opinions ?

The Bible says that "what can be known about God" should be clear to us by studying His creation. The clockwork mechanism of the universe, the laws of physics, human anatomy and the physical sciences themselves present the evidence of a Creator, so much so that - if we fail to discern the "eternal power and divine nature of God" by studying His creation - we are without excuse:
.......
Much of Catholicism (and other religions) is inexcusable but this shouldn`t blind us to the reality of the true God whom I am sure would distance Himself from much of what is done in His name.

20 September 2010 at 18:44  
Blogger Theresa said...

'
I think that taking potshots at Dawkins might have diverted Your Grace and led you to underestimate the significance of the march on Saturday.

By all accounts more than 10,000people were there.

It must have been the largest demonstration in this country against a church (any church) in
modern times. Perhaps for hundreds of years? (I have no doubt Your Grace will correct me if I am wrong).

10,000 people demonstrating against a church. Isn't that an interesting religio-political phenomenen? Yet Your Grace has missed it.'

No, Bogotol. The Saturday before the 12th of July in Glasgow, 20-30 000 men, women and children assemble dressed in orange and bang their way through the streets. And I prefer them to Dawkins; at least they are honest about their bigotry. The Pope has been kicked by better people by Dawkins and there is nothing unusual about anti Catholicism in this country; Dawkins is just a warmed up version of the white Anglo Saxon Protestant and he doesnt even realise it.

20 September 2010 at 18:47  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

caesars wife

Atheism is an absence of belief, it doesn’t motivate, no-one acts in the name of atheism. Stalin was a murderer who was also an atheist, Hitler was a murderer who was also a Catholic, neither were motivated by their faith or lack of it although there have been and continue to be those who murder because of religious belief (9/11, 7/11)

Conscience along with all other facets of human nature resides in the brain, there is nothing else. The brain dies, we die and that’s it, so make the most of it as there aint nothin else!

20 September 2010 at 19:05  
Blogger Botogol said...

Orange Day marches is a good answer, Theresa. But still, I think something different happened last weekend - something english, and something that wasn't caught up in tribalism like the Orange marches are.

This wasn't about tribes, it was about values, and I think it was significant. The scale of it caught even the organisers by surprise.

20 September 2010 at 19:13  
Blogger Botogol said...

and it was much more significant than Dawkins, IMO, to whom His Grace consistently ascribes far too much importance, and far too much blog space. There are more atheists out there than Richard Dawkins.

20 September 2010 at 19:15  
Anonymous PJ said...

Hitler may have been a "Catholic", but if we look at other Atheist totalitarian regimes, they're actions are just as bad if not worse. For Example

China: Between 1958-1962 45 million were killed through torture, brutality and startvation due to the enforcement of the "Great Leap Forward"

20 September 2010 at 19:35  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mao was an atheist, he also had black hair, neither of these factors motivated his appalling regime. Like all demagogues he sought power and used whatever means at his disposal to achieve it. Throughout history this has been the case, sometimes as in the Crusades with a particular religious motive but often not. The one think that you can say is that religious belief has been more likely to have been the cause of conflict than to have inhibited it.

20 September 2010 at 19:58  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Theresa

It is perfectly reasonable to be anti catholic. The catholic church has been the cause of immense suffering for all the reasons previously mentioned. That its adherents sit back and do nothing about it is appalling. I am anti communist, anti fascist, anti any dogma that increases human suffering and is totalitarian in nature. Secularism and Humanism are the inevitable consequences of atheism. They uphold the dignity of humankind, support equality and a society free from oppression whether political or religious.

The Protest the Pope march and rally saw between 10 and 20 thousand demonstrators. It was full of goodwill and concern for those oppressed by the catholic church. The heavy police presence was unnecessary as the one thing that secular humanists are concerned about is morality and goodwill. As my son said later when I noted that the press coverage had not reflected the scale of the demo, “the cameras would have been there if violence had erupted” but of course it didn’t

20 September 2010 at 20:16  
Anonymous len said...

Fron the comments above it seems that Atheists promote their position as being 'neutral'.
There is a spiritual battle being fought on this Earth between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, truth and error.
To say " I am neutral in this is to be in supreme ignorance"
There is no middle ground, there is no neutrality.
You are either on the side of Truth or against it!

20 September 2010 at 21:03  
Anonymous len said...

Man stands on the dunghill of his accumulated' knowledge and wisdom'and crows like a cockerel for all to hear him .
Man`s 'wisdom'contaminated and corrupted by the fall is in the eyes of God "foolishness", without true perception or wisdom.

"Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.... For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:20-29).

20 September 2010 at 21:18  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Len, I suspect Thomas Aquinas, a follower of natural theology, would not agree with you. Neither do I.

20 September 2010 at 23:14  
Anonymous len said...

Gnostic,
To what do you not agree?

(W V Joust LOL )

20 September 2010 at 23:38  
Blogger Northampton Saint said...

His Secularism and anti religion stance, has, in itself, become an Article of Faith

21 September 2010 at 00:03  
Anonymous caesars wife said...

Graham davies : you only part answered , why is it that time after time athiests throw up corrupt despotic regiemes that leads to death of the poor under there power ?
useually under some sort of socialist athiest construct .
Do you not see that the christian faith is bound to a different approach and therefore end .
Name one current athiest ruler who you think is running there country in a way that helps the poor rather than encasing them in propoganda .

21 September 2010 at 00:32  
Blogger Theresa said...

I think it was a more middle class crowd than you get at the average Orange march, Bogotol, but that's precisely why I cannot excuse their lapping up of what Dawkins is saying to them. There will be students of history that will know how anti-church Hitler was, although he publicly professed himself a Christian. They will be perhaps acquainted with Einstein's observation of the rise of Nazi Germany when he said that only the church stood squarely across Hitler's path in his campaign to supress the truth. As a scientist, Dawkins will know that embryonic stem cell research has produced no medical cures and is unlikely to do so, because they aren't compatible with the adult body. Only adult stem cells are, and my church doesn't have any objection to them. Anyone from Africa will know that my church is the biggest charity out there and provides practical support to the poor people he's banging on about. They will also know that poor people have big families as a form of health insurance; if they fall ill, there is a son/daughter to look after them. Statisticians will know that countries in Africa with a bigger Catholic population tend to do better in the HIV stakes, because they have fewer sexual partners. There will be social workers who know that although Catholic child abuse has got a lot of publicity, that teachers, lawyers and doctors are further up the abusers scale than clergy and that the archetypal abuser is in fact a boyfriend of the mother who is not the father of the child she has. And in that respect, I suppose it is a different demonstration. I think I am going to agree with you.

Look at the video. Look at Peter Tatchell, a man campaigning for the age of sexual consent to be lowered to 14 and who said that man/boy relationships are misunderstood and ask yourself why Dawkins is associating with him, if he cares about abuse. Ask yourself why Peter Tatchell is waving such a banner. The truth is that their interest in it begins and ends with my church, and they do not care about child abuse, the poor of Africa, totalitarianism of the 20th century or anything else. If they did, they would be campaigning for justice in all spheres and if they did, they would find the Catholic church a great ally in that respect.

21 September 2010 at 00:32  
Blogger Theresa said...

And while we're on the subject, Dawkins will be aware that the first person to postulate the Big Bang theory was Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic priest, that his own subject owes much to Mendel the father of genetics and an Austrian Catholic abbot, and that his own university was set up by the Catholic church (as most of the great universities of Europe were) and its colleges were the various orders of monks involved in teaching there. Enemy of reason indeed..

21 September 2010 at 00:41  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis:

As other correspondents have noted, your advice on condoms is flawed. The risk of contracting AIDS during so-called “protected sex” approaches 100 percent as the number of episodes of sexual intercourse with an infected person increases. Promotion of condoms has increased, not decreased HIV infection rates.

See article Condom Roulette and the references therein for more details. This is a scientific issue about which the Pope is correct. Please inform yourself of the science.

21 September 2010 at 00:43  
Anonymous PJ said...

Theresa, an excellent post, thank you. Hitler and his regime were indeed anti-church to much extent and went completely against the values of the Catholic and Christian Church. In 1941 Hitler tried to remove crucifixes from all Bavarian schools and this was met by fierce opposition and protest so did not go ahead. The Nazi T4 Euthanaisa campaign was met with outcry from many Catholic Bishops most notably of that of Bishop Galen. These are just two examples of the anti-Christian nature of Nazi policies.

21 September 2010 at 00:52  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Theresa - thank you, an excellent post.

As ever in these 'debates' the opposition like to dwell on every major & minor failing. We like to remind them of all the outstandingly positive successes.

This review from the ship-of-fools gets it just about right I think:

"BEYOND ALL THESE UNREASONABLE generalisations about religion, however, the greatest failure of Dawkins's case is his refusal to recognise any good that any religion has done. He talks about the crusades, but not medieval hospitals. He tells the story of Oral Roberts getting $8 million out of his flock to stop God killing him, but not of William Wilberforce (along with a lot of other Christians) devoting his life to fighting the slave trade. He details Catholic opposition to science, but not the work of monasteries – and Islamic scholars – who rescued Greek philosophical writings from oblivion.

Christian Voice is here, but not Christian Aid. Neither are the 19th-century reformers and philanthropists: Shaftsbury, Fry, Müller, Barnardo. Religious conflict in Northern Ireland, yes. Christian peace-building organisations, no. Etc., etc.

The most outrageous example is Martin Luther King. He does get a brief mention – but not as someone driven by faith to fight for justice and equality; not as someone inspired by his religion to achieve change without violence; not as someone who was sustained through fear for his life and for his family by an encounter with Jesus. Instead, King was one of those leaders "whose religion was incidental. Although Martin Luther King was a Christian, he derived his philosophy of non-violent civil obedience directly from Gandhi, who was not." And that's it."

21 September 2010 at 01:13  
Blogger falterer said...

Fellow readers may be interested in this: Dawkins has published the full text of his planned speech (he had to cut it considerably due to the size of the rally) online at his own website:

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/521113-ratzinger-is-an-enemy-of-humanity

It goes into much more detail about the Catholic Church's support for Hitler and Hitler's faith in God, about the church's doctrine of antisemitism, about the Vatican's statehood being a result of its support for Mussolini, and other such documented historical facts that alarm and shame moral Catholics.

Hopefully it will inspire Cranmer to make a more insightful comment than merely misrepresenting Dawkins' message.

21 September 2010 at 03:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a historical point I don't think Hitler was driven to torture and kill Christians by militant atheism in the way Stalin or Mao were.

That said, Mr Dawkins and Hitler have something in common. They both wrongly believe Christianity is a disease.

21 September 2010 at 07:37  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Len, I look at both extremes of this endless argument and want nothing to do with either of them. My choice has little to do with good or evil, spiritualism or secularism, ignorance or knowledge and everything to do with reason.

Many years ago I dabbled in Philosophy and since I'm interested in religion I read some of Thomas Aquinas' work. While I can't agree with all of his concepts he did come up with some gems. For instance:

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.

A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.

Beware of the man of one book. I believe he was referring to received theology as opposed to natural theology which leads to:

Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches. And expands on this:

The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing.

I choose to govern my own actions.

Thomas Aquinas also wrote about many things you would find of interest, Len. He was a Dominican; a teacher and priest. He was also a man of vision, centuries ahead of his time. He believed in freedom as well as justice and love. Just because I choose not to share his (or your) religious belief doesn't mean I have to ignore or denigrate Thomas' teaching as might Dawkins.

I hope we understand each other a little better now.

21 September 2010 at 07:50  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Theresa shoots. She scores!

And makes a very valid point.

21 September 2010 at 07:55  
Blogger Botogol said...

Theresa, yes, yes - but still I think that in focussing on Tatchell and Dawkins you are failing to see the wood from the trees.

The significant event of the weekend wasn't the same-old, same-old from Dawkins and Tatchell, doing and saying exactly what they had the week before, but the unprecendeted and unexpected appearance of >10,000 marchers in central london protesting against the values of the catholic church.

that march was something new, something different. That was the religio-political story of the weekend, not an over-excited speech from Richard Dawkins. And you missed it.

21 September 2010 at 08:54  
Anonymous len said...

Gnostic,
Thanks for your answer.
Thomas Aquinas never finished the
Summa Theoligica, considered by many to be his greatest work.
Why?
We find a clue in the fact that his unfinished work was composed of three parts "On God , "The Moral Life of Man", and "On Christ"
He had completed the first two sections and was deep in the work of the third "On Christ" when something happened to him, a profound and emotionally shattering spiritual experience.

Many believe that on writing, studying, and meditating on Christ`s word Aquinas had a vision when he met the risen Lord face to face.
Following this encounter Aquinas stopped writing, he said,
"I can no longer write, for God has given me such glorious knowledge that all contained in my works are as straw - barely fit to absorb the holy wonders that fall in a stable,"

All human pursuits-even the study of religion and theology pale into insignificance once we meet the risen Lord.

Three months later Thomas Aquinas died.
..........
(This revelation given to Aquinas came from direct revelation Spirit to spirit and was not acquired through the intellect.which was the point I was making.)

21 September 2010 at 09:02  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Len

Atheism is neutral to this extent; it exists only in opposition to belief in god. It is like a vacuum before religion and other superstitions rushed in to fill the void. But as religions still exploit the gullible and especially the young and often oppress women and gays, atheists feel duty bound to oppose the injustice and undue privilege that is associated with some (not all) religions. So to that extent we are not neutral.


Theresa

Your defence is predicated on defending the corrupt teachings of the catholic church. You do not honestly address the issue of contraception and poverty. A family living in the slums the surround every south American city routinely have 8 or 10 children. Many mothers will die in or soon after childbirth as will a horrific percentage of their children. Contraception would help them to reduce their family size and the strain on their meagre resources.

Even if you agreed (as many do) that the humanitarian policy of birth control would be beneficial to the poor you still would not sanction it. Why? Because it is more important to you Theresa to uphold the “teachings” of you church than to reduce suffering, that is why I have contempt for your views and those of your rotten church.

21 September 2010 at 09:02  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Thomas Aquinas was an intellectual. He reached his conclusions through rational thought as well as faith. He was truly a great teacher.

21 September 2010 at 09:12  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Bogotol is correct

I was on the march (my first ever) and the most convincing speeches were from Geoffrey Robertson, the human rights lawyer whose coruscating analysis of the last 30 years of the catholic church read like an indictment for crimes against humanity but most of all was the speech by a victim that I mentioned earlier. It was heart-warming to hear her say that at last she felt she was among friends. A priest had raped her and the catholic church abandoned her.

21 September 2010 at 09:15  
Anonymous len said...

Graham Davis,
As a Christian I am in total agreement with you.
This is a deplorable situation and one I believe has exposed the catholic church to be more interested in self preservation and concealment than the outworking of the love and compassion as portrayed by Jesus Christ.

21 September 2010 at 09:47  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

thanks Len

21 September 2010 at 09:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not believe in miracles until Pope Benedict visited Britain. Then he used the Power of Christ to turn Richard Dawkins into his South Park character at the Ms Garrison Parade. It was a joy to see Richard protesting cheek to cheek with Peter Tatchell "the retarded offspring of five monkeys having butt sex with a fish-squirrel!"


"You've just been too soft on religious people in the past. Think about it, Richard. With your intellect and my balls, we can change the future of the world"
-Ms Garrison

21 September 2010 at 11:36  
Anonymous PJ said...

Graham Davis, you say
"A family living in the slums the surround every south American city routinely have 8 or 10 children. Many mothers will die in or soon after childbirth as will a horrific percentage of their children"

What if those families actually, want to have large families? What if they are scared if they only a had a few children that they would die and they would have no children? "Underdeveloped" countries tend to have high birth rates, but this can be due to the fact that they need more children to work on the farm, or will lose some to disease.

21 September 2010 at 11:52  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

PJ said...
What if those families actually, want to have large families? What if they are scared if they only a had a few children that they would die and they would have no children? "Underdeveloped" countries tend to have high birth rates, but this can be due to the fact that they need more children to work on the farm, or will lose some to disease.

Of course they should have the choice and in rural areas there may be valid reasons for having larger families. However the example I gave of slum dwellers (in Catholic S America) who often scavenge for a living would probably benefit from smaller families but they told in no uncertain terms by the catholic church that to use contraception would mean Hell and damnation, and unlike their counterparts in the developed world, they believe it! This is why it is so immoral, exploiting the gullibility of ignorant people.

21 September 2010 at 13:29  
Anonymous The Ancient said...

10,000 people demonstrating against a church. Isn't that an interesting religio-political phenomenen?

Considering that twenty times that number could be gathered to defend (or protest) the ritual killing of foxes, no, it is not remotely interesting.

When one looks back over the past forty years and considers how very often much larger numbers were achieved in support of causes that were, in retrospect, either wrong or deluded, it is tempting to note the common presence that ran through them all: "that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat." "Secular humanists," every one.

21 September 2010 at 13:37  
Blogger Mike A said...

Dawkins has gone beyond atheism to the position that religion has led to much evil, and so opposes it. He may be strident but he is coherent, and easier to follow than the Archbishop!

However, the nub of the atheist position is this: if there are no gods then everything in religion, absolutely everything, is man-made and deserving of no special consideration beyond any intrinsic merits. That means Bible, Koran, learned commentaries and sermons, everything.

There are no morals in nature; living things act simply to maximise their genes' chance of survival. Man does have an innate moral sense covering five broad areas, which psychology explains as an evolved survival tool, and this is the basis of the allegedly divine inspirations such as those in the Bible and Koran. Indeed, there is emerging evidence that religion and perhaps language may be by-products of the evolutionary pressure to escape disease (and so stay 'clean') by delimiting communities from each other.

Working from this understanding, it follows that there are no moral absolutes - what is wrong is what people disapprove of here and now, and it may well differ from time to time and place to place although extremes will usually be deplored by a consensus view. A further point is that when we refer to the wisdom of people like Newman we limit ourselves to their world view in 1870 or whenever it was - p-erhaps Occam or Aquinas would have become atheists if they were educated in modern biology, physics and cosmology!

21 September 2010 at 14:43  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mike A

Spot on!

21 September 2010 at 14:55  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Mike A wrote:
'...deserving of no special consideration beyond any intrinsic merits...

Well summed up, Mr Mike, except for one thing in the section I quote above. The rub is, what are intrinsic merits? Who or what defines those merits?

It is all very well for some relativist like The Dawk or Mr Graham Davis to tell us that intrinsic merit is that which serves the interests of the majority, or is for the common good, or that which I would like to have done to me, or some other such construct.

But who says such considerations invest an action with 'intrinsic merit'? The trouble is, you see, that as soon as you say there is no authority to define merit, there is no such thing as merit.

My fun is as much a valid measure as the survival of the gene pool. Indeed, my fun might prove necessary to the survival of the gene pool, or to its enhancement in some unexpected way. But even that would provide no justification for it or defence of it in our valueless, meaningless cosmos.

I'm afraid 'intrinsic merit' is nothing other than a mirage, as is the idea that you can have morality without belief.

21 September 2010 at 15:01  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Anabaptist

Intrinsic merits are not “defined” having evolved alongside everything else. Our morality such as it is, is simply the result of this development. We didn’t stop killing and eating each other because it was “wrong” but because it has not proved genetically successful. Our evolved intelligence allows us to reflect upon this behaviour so that it is also culturally reinforced.

21 September 2010 at 15:39  
Blogger Mike A said...

Anabaptist, do please have fun but don't miss the point. By intrinsic merit, about which I ought perhaps to have been clearer, I meant simply what we humans see in something. Any of us has 'authority' to define merit, and anyone else can agree or disagree; we don't need some expert or deity as referee or court of last resort.

As for "..a mirage, as is the idea that you can have morality without belief.." words almost fail me. Whence comes this delusion? Morality is just a set of rules and principles, which can be 'good' in that most people agree with them or 'bad' in that most can see their baleful effect. An example of the first would be 'do not commit murder' and of the second 'thou sha;t not suffer a witch to live'. Subject to differing degrees of emphasis, we all think it bad to harm others, value fairness and loyalty to the group, defer to legitimate authority and view impurity of various kinds as wrong. These concepts are innate and not based on religion - they are found across human societies and history.

21 September 2010 at 15:48  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Perhaps, then, it would be a good idea to stop going on about intrinsic merits, since there is nothing either intrinsic about them, or meritorious.

Oddly, though, Mr Graham Davis, this is not the argument you used in our exchanges on this subject a few months ago, when you said the basis of morality was the 'golden rule' (not your phrase, I acknowledge) whereby we should refrain from doing those things that we would not wish done to us.

It is a strange thing that other people's intelligence should have evolved so as to allow them to engage in mass murder, genocide, etc., but somehow their 'evolved intelligence' isn't a valid argument in favour of their actions. Somehow, the survival of Slavs or Jews or Gypsies is a 'good' that we should uphold.

Can't think why. Perhaps my intelligence hasn't evolved as far as yours.

21 September 2010 at 15:52  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mike, your reply arrived after my response to Graham Davis.

First, you authorise my fun (thank you), but with no idea what my fun might entail. Let's just suppose it entails something you and your friends disapprove of. Surely you wouldn't continue to authorise it. But on what grounds? On the grounds, you suggest, that the majority would agree with you.

Fair enough, I suppose, given the majority's ability to wield force in defence of its preferences. But the majority's ability to deploy force is a pretty long way from 'intrinsic merit'. You could of course claim that the majority's opinion constitutes or defines good; but which majority? The majority who held that it was good to eliminate Jews? Or the majority that held that it was good to murder aristocrats? Or the majority which supported eugenics?

The fact is that at some point you have to define a base for your moral stance, and that base is a belief or set of beliefs which you hold to be non-negotiable. You might not like the idea, but I can't see any alternative in your reply to me, which seems to consist of little more than a re-phrasing.

21 September 2010 at 16:18  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Anabaptist

The “golden rule” or perhaps the default “moral” position is indeed the do as you would be done by dictum. But this is not a philosophical position arrived at by logic or belief but again the result of evolutionary development and this is simply because in the main it has proved beneficial. But within that are a variety of behaviours including those that are fortunately not the norm like genocide and mass murder. It’s not about intelligence and although I’m sure that I sound arrogant (I’m not really), I have no doubt that most who post here are very intelligent. My contention has always been that you will not submit your belief to the forensic examination that might threaten it, hence my insistence that you keep it behind a firewall.

21 September 2010 at 16:38  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Anabaptist

I didn’t respond to your final point about defining a base for your moral stance. Based on what I said previously those evolved characteristics that can loosely be defined as moral are indeed defined but by law and custom these days and not by god. As they are not absolutes they will change. Even in my lifetime we have seen a huge shift in attitudes towards homosexuality for example from being illegal to being socially (and for most) morally acceptable. Those moral goalposts have moved as have many others.

Some here regard our society as degenerate and cite a lack of absolute values as to blame. Even if this were the case it would not justify the invention god and religion simply to keep us in check.

21 September 2010 at 17:10  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Graham Davis

I don't think you sound arrogant, and I hope you don't think I do.

I would like to know why you consider that my opinions are not open to forensic examination. If you perceive that to be the case with others who respond to this blog (and I don't say I would share that opinion) I am at a loss to understand why you should therefore think it of me.

As to your 'forensic examination', that seems as often as not to descend in your rheotric to accusations of believing in 'sky fairies' or 'old men in the sky' or 'imaginary friends'. Frankly, I can't be bothered with forensic examination of that sort.

You talk about behaviours that have in the main proved beneficial. But beneficial to whom? To the majority? Well, why is that a good thing? Why should my freedom be constrained by that which is perceived to be the good of the majority?

And what's this 'norm' all about? You presumably mean the norm in advanced, civilised, refined societies, such as I expect you hold ours to be. It's all rather arbitrary.

If I may engage in a little forensic examination of my own, I again ask how you have moved from a 'default "moral" position' of do-as-you-would-be-done-by to that which is 'genetically successful' and then slid back again.

You will not be surprised to hear that I think all your talk about morality is mere trespassing on the ground of categories to which your beliefs have no right of access, and that you are sheltering behind them as a firewall because you don't like the empty, nihilistic, meaningless consequences which are the logic of your position.

21 September 2010 at 17:15  
Blogger Mike A said...

Anabaptist, thanks for your clarification. As you might have expected, I don't agree with you!

Intrinsic merit can be rephrased as intrinsic appeal. Some of us will devise complex justifications for that appeal, and a few may becaome archbishops, but that sort of thing is just intellectual gaming.

I do not have a non-negotiable basis for my moral beliefs, since nothing is absolutely right or wrong for all time. If some people were trying to kill me, I can see nothing wrong with killing them first; death is final and in its avoidance ultimate force is justifiable. So my adherence to 'killing is wrong' is not absolute but conditional and so, for the same reasons, is my adherence to any other 'moral rule'. In your example about murdering aristocrats, where I expect you have the French or Russian revolutionaries in mind, the point isn't that they were obeying a 'moral rule' but simply that they were oppressing people for no good reason. In those circumstances it would have been perfectly all right to kill the aggressors iof that is what it took to stop them.

21 September 2010 at 17:34  
Blogger Siônnyn said...

It is clear that those of you who attack Richard Dawkins have not read any of his books.

'The God delusion' is the best of them that I have read so far. I have also read Thomas Aquinas, the Bible, and of all of them, Dawkins is the most consistent and compassionate of all. He even has nice things to say about the Bible as literature, and the beauty of religious ceremony.

You should try reading him, and if you read with an open mind, and still believe, then good luck to you!

I can find points where I would disagree with him, in some cases fundamentally, but I see none of them raised here by any of the catholic apologists.

I would like to ask, by the way, why the files on most of the paedophile priests adjudicated by Cardinal Ratzinger are still locked away in the vatican? The ones made public are bad enough, so what do the others contain?

21 September 2010 at 17:39  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

I think we might be getting somewhere now, Mike A.

Your morality is being revealed as something not unlike the law of the jungle.

Actually the French and Rusian oppressors were oppressing for very good reason: namely, it pleased them to do so and enhanced their own pleasures and comforts. And it was their might that perpetuated their liberty to continue accordingly.

Until they were overtaken by a greater might, the oppressed people in arms. But please don't let me hear any weasely stuff about how the people were 'right' to rise up and slaughter their oppressors, 'cos, as you correctly observe, 'nothing is absolutely right or wrong...' The only right in the jungle is that which is supported by fang and claw.

Keep going along those lines and you will achieve consistency.

21 September 2010 at 17:42  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Siônnyn, please don't mistake critics of The Dawk for Catholic apologists.

I have little time for the RC organisation. I don't have much time, either, for those canting hypocrites who orate against the ghastly child-abusing priests, and yet cannot find a word to say against the far more abusive practices of secular orphanages and children's homes, such as those in Marxist Romania and Bulgaria, whose child abuse made the RCs' amateurish efforts look like an Xmas tea party, to say nothing of those in our own country.

And I've read The Dawk's GD, which is well written, but deeply ignorant. The Dawk seems unfortunately to have been taken in by his own rhetoric. And why should I care if The Dawk enjoys literature or other forms of beauty? If he had his way none of them would have been produced.

And am I supposed to welcome the suggestion that I am infected by a virus, which I must be prevented by law from passing on to my children?

21 September 2010 at 17:51  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Athiesm has to lead to an elite legislature and propganda as it seeks to eradicate its contradictions , as time and time again it has shown to lead lack of choice via enforcement , it cannot win by free choice and argument , for it must win as it isnt wrong , if it isnt wrong it cannot show humility , if it cannot show humility I would cast doubt on its claims to be humanitarian .

21 September 2010 at 17:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delighted to learn than Professor Dawkins supports the Holy Orders of the Church of England. He's wrong about original sin, though.His very words are shot through with it.

21 September 2010 at 18:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find Graham Davis's position puzzling. If I've understood correctly, Graham, you explain the universality of the moral code (eg people shouldn't murder each other) by appeal to its expediency. That, however, doesn't seem to explain moral behaviour which disbenefits the agent, for example, a passer-by handing in to the police station a lost wallet containing £50.

Jay

21 September 2010 at 18:55  
Blogger philip said...

A bit late perhaps, but I am so glad to see Cranmer blogging again, welcome back your grace.

21 September 2010 at 21:42  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Off topic slightly ... but would someone please explain to me why some acids have a 'desire' to survive and others don't. Just what is it about deoxyribonucleic acid that makes it 'want' to survive whereas hydrochloric acid doesn't? [Not a rhetorical question btw?]

21 September 2010 at 21:57  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Anabaptist said

You talk about behaviours that have in the main proved beneficial. But beneficial to whom? To the majority? Well, why is that a good thing? Why should my freedom be constrained by that which is perceived to be the good of the majority?

Yes always beneficial to the majority, that’s natural selection. I suggest that this is simply the mechanism by which human traits have evolved. It is neither good nor bad it simply is! There is no inconsistency in my argument since do-as-you-would-be-done-by is also a consequence of this process as this reciprocity avoids conflict and in most circumstances it is beneficial to the individual. I know people here loath Dawkins but this is all spelled out in the Selfish Gene and his other books.

Dawkins has helped to develop what I think is now biological orthodoxy namely that any species (humans included) are simply vehicles for their genes. Occasionally some of those genes mutate creating a new one. Trial and error is the name of the game. All the genes that we have now have been successful (beneficial) or they (and we) would not be having this conversation.

Altruism and empathy (the precursors of morality) have evolved as an essential component of human nature because they are necessary to ensure the survival of our offspring (genes). As humans infants require nurturing over such a long period we must put their needs above our own as many other species do, birds for example.

However as well as being the vehicle for our genes we have several thousand years of cultural and more recently scientific development that is now enabling us (for better or worse) to influence our further evolution and we have evolved institutions like the law and schools in addition to the family that reinforce and codify our behaviour.

To answer Jay’s point; as we mature most of us develop a moral sense that has been building since infancy, we experience the consequences of do-as-you-would-be-done-by almost every day. So if we find a £50 note we are confronted with a dilemma; we realise that someone has lost it and we can empathise with that person’s plight. We also realise that when we loose something valuable we stand a better chance of retrieving it in a society where most do the decent thing.

So this behaviour is still reasonably consistent with its evolutionary origins albeit with a measure of cultural reinforcement.

21 September 2010 at 22:32  
Anonymous not a machine said...

GD can you prove Alturism and empathy are pre cursors of morality ? oppps

rebelsaint : I am not sure describing ribonucleicacid as having a survial nature works , but the way in which the 4 substances guanine , adonine ,trypotsine and the one that begins with C (cant recall it sorry) sorry cytosine , forms this stable and more importantly replicable complex sequences is rather amazing in that it produces somthing more complex than what is effectively organic memory .
It may also be somthing to do with lack of halon elements

22 September 2010 at 01:47  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Is it not immensely ironic that evolution is making the world more religious. Looking at global population growth there is absolutely no doubt that natural selection seems to be favouring those with religious faith whilst secularists seem on a path of demographic annihilation.

Anyone care to tell me why the chemicals in our bodies 'want to survive' whereas other chemicals others don't?

22 September 2010 at 01:52  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@not a machine ... sorry, your post appeared before I'd completed mine.

Not sure I understood your answer I'm afraid. I appreciate the process of DNA replication, but what I am trying to grasp is - if we are purely chemical automatons - what causes this 'survival' instinct? Why does our concoction of chemicals 'want' to survive whereas sodium chloride doesn't (I presume!). Why do we 'desire' to have our genes passed on? Which chemical within us is it that wants us to reproduce?

22 September 2010 at 02:07  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis wrote:

‘Do you really think that if Jesus were alive today that he would be indulging himself in the splendours of Rome whilst millions suffer because of the grotesque teachings and abominable practices of the catholic church? If he was the man that most Christians claim then I trust he would be fighting for the poor, the ignorant and the oppressed rather than supporting policies the oppress them further.’

20 September 2010 15:36


Mr Davis, Jesus is alive today. That is my testimony.

But I suspect that you are really asking: what if Jesus returned today, what would He do?

He is coming back – shortly.

His long-suffering and patience with mankind will soon come to an end.

He left this Earth riding a donkey – a symbol of peace – He will come back riding a horse – a symbol of war.

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! . . . the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light" (Amos 5:18).

"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come" (Joel 2:31).

"The great day of the LORD . . . is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness" (Zephaniah 1:14-15).

"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger" (Isaiah 13:9).

22 September 2010 at 08:46  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis @22:32 has put forward some very interesting theories which I will attempt to summarise:

(1) There is no good or bad.

(2) However, we can influence our evolution "for better or worse"! (Surely he means we can influence our evolution one way or another. If there is no good or bad then there is no better or worse!)

(3) People who abuse children are neither good nor bad, because there is no good or bad.

(4) He believes that his objections to people who abuse children have ultimately been "established" (please insert a better word) in him by evolution.

I can only conclude that his thoughts, desires, objections have no meaning, because they are merely the product of a process (evolution) that itself has no meaning.

Is this a fair summary?

22 September 2010 at 09:15  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Not a machine

Science provides a best guess at everything it seeks to explain but it is a better guess than faith because it provides logical roadmaps that include tests than can be replicated by others and in that way theories become “fact”. Faith, by definition, excludes evidence so its assertions are mere speculation. Proof can never be 100% (hence “fact” in inverted commas) and no scientist would claim that. The legal presumption of “beyond reasonable doubt” is the best we can do.

Rebel Saint

I’m not sure what your point is (apart from opposing mine) but it is not difficult to understand the evolutionary process. Chemicals, genes or whatever don’t “want to survive”, they only exist now because they have proved successful in our ancestors.

22 September 2010 at 09:39  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

Not quite as I would have put it but yes a fair summary.

There is no purpose to life and therefore no meaning to be found. We are born, we die and of the bit in between we make of it what we can. Evolution has provided our operating system (human nature) and throughout life we continue to install the upgrades based on our heritable characteristics and our response to our environment.

22 September 2010 at 09:51  
Blogger D. Singh said...

‘There is no purpose to life and therefore no meaning to be found.’

Mr Davis will you please stop paraphrasing, Mao, Stalin and Hitler?

22 September 2010 at 10:00  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

Not really a helpful contribution

22 September 2010 at 10:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

The scales are dropping from your left eye.

You see men like trees?

22 September 2010 at 10:15  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Yes Mr Singh we are very much like trees, more nimble perhaps but are the result of the same evolutionary process.

22 September 2010 at 10:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...

No Mr Davis.

You musn't comment; you must remain consistent:

‘There is no purpose to life and therefore no meaning to be found.’

22 September 2010 at 10:53  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis says

"There is no purpose to life and therefore no meaning to be found. We are born, we die and of the bit in between we make of it what we can. Evolution has provided our operating system (human nature) and throughout life we continue to install the upgrades based on our heritable characteristics and our response to our environment."

So you appear to confirm that your objections to anything (religion, the Pope, child abuse, Jesus) are the result of something that was installed in you by a meaningless process (either before you were born or at some point during your lifetime)?

They (your objections) can be reduced to being merely the output of some meaningless (but quite complicated) program?

In short, I am conversing with a robot? And everything it says I can consider to be meaningless?

22 September 2010 at 10:59  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

I have found a present for you: John Cage’s piece 4'33".

Shh!

22 September 2010 at 11:02  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh (and William)

We robots prefer John Lee Hooker, strange that.

22 September 2010 at 11:04  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

A determinist has no preferences. You are not being consistent.

Indeed, you are closer to Islam and its fatalism: what will be will be - proclaim the followers of the Prophet of the Moon.

22 September 2010 at 11:11  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis

If "life is meaningless" then your life is meaningless.

If your life is meaningless then everything you say is meaningless.

If everything you say is meaningless then I should ignore it.

Do you agree?

I am not trying to be rude, I am trying to explore your theory.

22 September 2010 at 11:15  
Anonymous len said...

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

(C S Lewis, Evolutionary Hymn )

22 September 2010 at 11:50  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

So you appear to confirm that your objections to anything (religion, the Pope, child abuse, Jesus) are the result of something that was installed in you by a meaningless process (either before you were born or at some point during your lifetime)? They (your objections) can be reduced to being merely the output of some meaningless (but quite complicated) program?

An excellent summary.

Many feel uncomfortable with this description of themselves and invent a purpose beyond the purely biological process of ensuring the future of our genes. However as we do this by sexual reproduction we need a mate and a family in which to nurture the next generation of our genes and the family has evolved as the best means of ensuring this. We are programmed to respond to our offspring and our mate in a way that doesn’t need further description here. What we call love is an evolved mechanism for cementing these relationships. All other human activity stems from this simple biological process.

Think of it like musical notation, a meaningless string of symbols to most of us but when it is played it becomes something else.

22 September 2010 at 12:10  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Graham Davis said ... "we need a mate and a family in which to nurture the next generation of our genes and the family has evolved as the best means of ensuring this"

Why do we 'need' a mate? Why does our DNA need to be passed onto another generation? Are there any other chemicals or materials that possess these traits? [None of these are rhetorical questions]

22 September 2010 at 13:05  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Rebel Saint

We need a mate because we have evolved as a species that uses sexual reproduction as the means of passing on our genes, other living things do it differently. If underlying your question is why are living things so organised that they “need” to pass on there genes that is a good question to which I do not have an answer (I am not a scientist).

As far as I can see everything is in motion, nothing is stable or fixed from the universe to all life on earth, there seems to be a linear progression, perhaps the energy created by the Big Bang infuses all things? However to put a god at the head of this program raises more questions than it answers particularly when you insist that he/she/it can only be accessed through a particular set of religious principles. I am content to form opinions using the little knowledge that I have and confident that others in the future will be able to explain some of the things that we find difficult now. Just imagine how impossible it would have been to appreciate that the earth is round is you lived 10,000 years ago.

22 September 2010 at 14:10  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Thank you for having the good grace to admit that you do not know why certain chemicals "want" to survive. I am always amazed at how our genes are given anthropomorphic-like qualities ... they have desires and needs apparently, yet they are just a chemical compound like any other. They have no 'need' or 'purpose' to survive or propagate themselves into the future any more than any other chemical compound.

"I am content to form opinions using the little knowledge that I have and confident that others in the future will be able to explain some of the things that we find difficult now."

That is almost biblical. I too am content not to have all the answers now but confident that one day we will.

22 September 2010 at 14:49  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

there=their! Damn no edit option

22 September 2010 at 14:52  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Rebel Saint said

I am always amazed at how our genes are given anthropomorphic-like qualities ... they have desires and needs apparently, yet they are just a chemical compound like any other.

I suppose it is because we don’t have the words to describe them adequately and so as you say resort to anthropomorphic ones.

22 September 2010 at 14:57  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

‘Just imagine how impossible it would have been to appreciate that the earth is round is you lived 10,000 years ago.’

‘impossible… to appreciate…’?

Ancient man never believed, unlike (some) 21st century men, that the Earth was flat.

When ancient man climbed a hill he saw the Earth was curved on all sides – that is why he referred to it as a dome or an upturned bowl.

I see why the common sense and historical explanation cannot be appreciated by your mind: it would contradict the notion of the evolution of the human mind.

22 September 2010 at 15:04  
Blogger Theresa said...

I wonder why it is that people who postulate that the sole meaning in life is to reproduce and pass our genes on, are so supportive of contraception.

Just a thought..

22 September 2010 at 15:34  
Blogger Theresa said...

Bogotol,

Maybe I have missed something. I (obviously) wasn't at the Protest the Pope march so I don't know all the different reasons that people were there, but it appeared to me that there were two main groups there; one was those who objected to my church's sexual teachings and the other was those who saw the church as a threat to science and progress. Both groups were represented by Peter Tatchell and Dawkins respectively. Now, I would be willing enough to argue and agree to disgree with those people on that ground. But it isn't possible for me to do that. Before I can have a discussion, I am expected to accept that the Pope is a leering old man in a frock that covered up child abuse. I am expected to accept that Catholic teaching in Africa has spread HIV. I am expected to accept that my church is the enemy of science and has done nothing in that sphere except to put Galileo on trial. I am expected to accept that Pius did nothing for the Jews and that he was the 'Nazi pope' as Dawkins called him. (The fact that an agnostic Jewish scientist who lived in Nazi Germany saw him as a protector of the truth is completely lost on him.) And then and only then will they deign to have a conversation with me. I have a problem with that, because I know all of those things to be untrue, I know that those questioning me could easily check the veracity or otherwise of those statements and they don't. Instead we are confronted with the casual slander of Stephen Fry on the Poles and their role in the Holocaust. Is it possible that he doesn't know that 3 million Polish Catholics perished in the Holocaust, along with 3 million of their Jewish neighbours? A man who is a polymath, of Jewish origin and who presents a programme dedicated to getting at the truth?
Now I know that you're going to say that these media types don't represent you, Bogotol. But they are leading these marches.They are doing the documentaries. They are planning 'Arrest the Pope'. And they are re-writing history to suit themselves. If you don't want them to represent you, then you need to find someone else quick, otherwise you are going to find the middle ground polarised into a new form of anti-Catholicism. And I think you might be too late.

22 September 2010 at 15:58  
Anonymous Septimus said...

I thought Mr. Davis' analogy, of a string of music notation symbols being meaningless, unless one understood them and could play, is a good one.

This analogy could well apply to Mr. Davis' evolving nihilism theory. He leads a life similar to looking at meaningless symbols on the page because he is unable to read or hear the music.
Because he can't, he does not want to believe that anyone else can, or that music even exists.This very limited and egocentric approach to a joyless life without any cerebral rigour is all too prevalent and depressing.
I place the blame squarely on an
uninspiring,inadequate education system reflecting a secular society obsessed with consumerism.

22 September 2010 at 17:14  
Blogger Mike A said...

Septimus, what Mr Davis actually said was " .. musical notation, a meaningless string of symbols to most of us but when it is played it becomes something else." He didn't say that if you can't follow musical notation you can't hear music. You, Septimus, could learn enough about evolution and the rest of biology to follow his arguments, just as I could (probably!) learn enough to follow a musical stave. We have overwhelming evidence for evolution and for the development of the universe in ways which do not require divine intervention; we can read the music.

22 September 2010 at 18:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Mike A - what is "the overwhelming evidence for the development of the universe in ways which do not require divine intervention"?

Jay

22 September 2010 at 18:46  
Blogger Mike A said...

Well, Anon, how long do you have? Putting it very, very briefly, first of all the big bang created matter, energy and time; subsequently galaxies and solar systems formed (including planets) and life evolved certainly on Earth and possibly elsewhere. At no stage was there any necessity for divine intervention, and we have no evidence for it (or indeed for gods) either. If you start with Hawking on cosmology, and then read Dawkins on evolution (The Blind Watchmaker is particularly good) I would be interested to hear your views afterwards.

22 September 2010 at 22:41  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis states that I have made "An excellent summary" of his theory. Confirming that all his views, objections and utterances should be treated as meaningless, pre-programmed, irrelevances and, consequently, should be ignored by all rational, free-thinking people.

22 September 2010 at 22:51  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis:

Where on earth do you obtain your data? You say that:

"A family living in the slums that surround every South American city routinely have 8 or 10 children."

Below are some fertility rates in Latin America. It can be seen that most of the continent is close to or even below the relacement fertility level of 2.1 below which population falls. A graphic Fig 2.1 at

pennance.us/?page_id=206

shows that these rates are dropping rapidly. The world is rapidly approaching a population implosion.

The population control agenda, which you advocate, will wreck economies and bring about a culture of death, in which abortion becomes the backup contraceptive. Please see the site Thepillkills.org on the serious health risks associated with oral contraceptives.

Argentina 2.16
Bolivia 3.1
Brazil 2.15
Chile 2.0
Colombia 2.1
Costa Rica 1.94
Mexico 2.04
Paraguay 2.76
Peru 2.37
Suriname 2.3
Uruguay 2.03
Venezuela 2.4

23 September 2010 at 00:29  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

And as for condoms:

According to Dr. Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies,

“There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates,”

23 September 2010 at 01:40  
Anonymous Septimus said...

Mike , I understand biology and evolution. What I was trying to express through a metaphor was that
science will never be able to provide all the answers. There is another dimension of life that is beyond science.I also believe that
that understanding the notation and hearing the music is denied to some, whether it comes from the resistance of a closed mind or a genuine inability to comprehend,I don't know.I do know that those who deny the existence of a higher
being are hollow and suffer because of it.They are constantly trying to fll a void of emptiness.

23 September 2010 at 05:49  
Anonymous Michal said...

Oh well, if the christians who hold to papal teaching on contraception, or that homosexuals are ‘intrinsically disordered’, or that liberation theology is dangerously subversive, or that paedophile priests have lost their free will and those who covered up such heinous crimes should be protected make sacrifices at great expense and huge personal costs, clearly this absolves catholic church of all it's wrongdoings.

I suppose atheists never do such things. Those evil aggressive secularists.

Furthermore, who says religion is intrinsic to societal cohesion?

23 September 2010 at 08:04  
Anonymous Michal said...

And by such things, I mean the "sacrifices at great expense and huge personal costs."

23 September 2010 at 08:06  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mike A at 10.41 pm

‘Putting it very, very briefly, first of all the big bang created matter, energy and time;…’

In order to have the ‘big bang’ you need matter in the first place. You cannot have a ‘bang’ without matter.

23 September 2010 at 09:10  
Blogger William said...

Mike A appears to be taken in by the Hawk's throw-away line that we don't need God to explain the big bang because we have gravity. Which seems to me the same as saying we don't God to explain the existence of apples because we have apple trees.

23 September 2010 at 09:18  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Further, there are three principal choices:

1. Matter has always existed (in which case abolish the Second Law of Thermodynamics – and cease from addressing reality).
2. Matter appeared ex nihilo.
3. ‘The Mr Davis Theory’ nothing came out of nothing – no meaning, no purpose, we are nothing.

23 September 2010 at 09:19  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh said

In order to have the ‘big bang’ you need matter in the first place. You cannot have a ‘bang’ without matter.

The origin of the universe is indeed a vexing question. The Big Bang is a difficult idea to get your head round for the reason that you have stated (amongst others). However the same applies to god, this idea that he/she/it has been around forever is also counterintuitive.

The atheist is content to accept that there is still a list of phenomena for which we do not have a complete understanding but every day that list is getting smaller as knowledge increases.

Simply saying “its god what dun it” doesn’t explain anything, however I would not have any objection to that belief if you didn’t invent a religion to go with it and not only that but claim that somehow your god decided to reveal all to a group of his believers. Of all the gods in all the world you chose this one! Its just daft.

23 September 2010 at 10:13  
Anonymous len said...

If you wish to depose God then you must bring in an alternative to explain the questions every thinking human being eventually asks,and science demands evidence not unproven theories.
Since Theists cannot 'prove'God to the Atheists satisfaction, and Atheists cannot disprove God where does this leave us?

Atheists proclaiming Evolutionary theory as fact are somewhat like Christians following a belief system which they cannot prove conclusively.How for instance was the Universe created?

How about God being the why,and science being the how? The material World being created by the Spiritual World.
With God all things are possible.

23 September 2010 at 10:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Davis

When a man repeatedly says to God ‘my will be done’ then I am sure there comes a day when God says to that man: ‘All right then: thy will be done.’

23 September 2010 at 11:04  
Blogger Mike A said...

I must have words with Septimus and William.

Septimus, if you understand evolution and biology you should understand the sequence and age of life on the Earth, and understand that there is no evidence for any 'moment of creation'. What is the 'dimension of life' which is beyond scientific enquiry? Are people like me 'hollow' and 'suffering'? I don't think so; I rather think that this 'dimension' needs evidence and explanation - isn't it just in your mind?

William, we can track back far beyond the apple tree to the earliest bacteria-like cells more than 3 billion years ago, before them to the formation of the solar system about 4 billion years ago, and to the big bang about 14 billion years ago! At no point is there any need of a divine finger in the pie, and there is no evidence for one either. If we don't know what was 'before' the bang well, just give us time!

23 September 2010 at 11:29  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Len

If every human being asks the “question” why not reply that we don’t have all the answers (yet) rather than fill the gap with myth and superstition?

As I said in a previous post, scientific theories are never unalterable truths, they are the result of empirical evidence that is painstakingly assembled and that can be checked by others. Evolution by natural selection is backed by an overwhelming body of evidence and you can witness it happening to bacteria in a lab, you can see it in every breed of dog so until someone comes along with a better explanation that fits the evidence then you and I might as well accept it.

Compare this to beliefs in the supernatural and the notion of a spiritual realm. This is all in your imagination. There is not one shred of evidence to suggest that any of it exists. There has never been a scientifically attested miracle or that a prayer has been answered.

In virtually all human activity apart from religion evidence is central, economics, education, politics and the law for example. Can you imagine a court case where a barrister is not required to present a case based on evidence, “I believe this man to be guilty” is not enough!

You are willing to take it all on trust simply because you “believe”. Forgive me for saying this as I know it is insulting but I once believed that Santa was responsible for my Christmas presents until one day in common with all children I began to question it and when I did the myth was exposed. A few years later when I began to question the existence of god the same thing happened.

23 September 2010 at 11:31  
Anonymous len said...

Mr Singh,(11.04)
When a man repeatedly says to God ‘my will be done’ then I am sure there comes a day when God says to that man: ‘All right then: thy will be done.’

This is an inescapable truth.

Jesus said "be it unto you according to your faith"

To be given up by God is to be in one of the most terrifying dilemma`s I can think of,cut off without hope.

23 September 2010 at 11:51  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Len and Mr Singh

An “inescapable truth”, no just a belief.

“Terrifying dilemma” and “Cut off without hope”. These are such fearful remarks.

I simply don’t get it or what drives such a plaintive cry.

I don’t want to die but I know that when I do there is nothing else, so I get on with this life without worrying there will not be another.

It is interesting that I find it so easy not to believe whilst for you are terrified of the prospect, perhaps it’s in the Genes?

23 September 2010 at 12:17  
Blogger William said...

Mr Davis says "“Terrifying dilemma” and “Cut off without hope”. These are such fearful remarks. I simply don’t get it or what drives such a plaintive cry."

The reason for that is simple. You have no hope to be cut off from. Your only long-term goal is to become a fossil. There is no other path for you! You have no idea what you are missing.

23 September 2010 at 12:48  
Blogger William said...

Mike A

Thanks for those words. I thought that space and time came into existence at the big bang? Are you saying that science will be able to describe something that existed before space and time? Your faith is indeed great.

By the way, God has revealed Himself in numerous ways. You could start by reading the Bible. I would be interested to hear your views afterwards.

23 September 2010 at 12:50  
Anonymous len said...

There is a time,
Mr Davis.

Many times the observation is made that the crowds which cheered for Jesus on Sunday were shouting for his death by Friday. But while the crowds where crying out with joy, Jesus was crying out with anguish. They danced and he wept. Both for the same reasons – because even though they had all the pieces to the puzzle they failed to recognize that God himself had come down among them. They thought he was the messiah they wanted, he knew they had rejected the messiah he really was.

They missed the time of their visitation.

23 September 2010 at 12:50  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

William

Why is hope so necessary to you? I live happily without hope being an issue.

In fact I live happily. What make you think I am missing what you clearly need? Insulin is of no benefit unless you are a diabetic.

23 September 2010 at 14:04  
Blogger Mike A said...

Hello again, William. My understanding is also that space and time came into existence with the bang. Whatever there may have been 'beforehand' would indeed be strange in our terms, but that doesn't mean that it may not be deduced and described some time in the future! I'm not clever enough to follow quantum theory, but take comfort from Feynman who said that, if you think you do, that proves you don't.

Believe it or not, in my teens I was the mainstay of the local Scripture Union quiz team and won prizes for Bible reading, before turning my back on it all at the age of 15. I haven't opened the Bible for a long time but my views today can be quickly given. I see it as a book written by humans, containing stories and teachings varying in their degree of truth from attempts at history to complete invention, interesting from that viewpoint but not otherwise.

You clearly value the Bible more than I do, and I hope it is reasonable for me to assume that you base your personal religious observances on it (I'll be staggered if you say that actually you're Dawkins under an alias!). But for someone like me, looking at the range of sacred texts which mankind has written, the question is why go for one as against another? Adherents will say that the Book of Mormon and the Koran are both divinely dictated; is that so, or is it only one, or neither? How many gods are there? If you have a preferred figure, why? I have thought much about these things, poor fellow that I am.

23 September 2010 at 16:00  
Anonymous len said...

Mike A .
How do you explain Bible prophesy if the Bible was only written by Humans?

23 September 2010 at 18:13  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

"My understanding is also that space and time came into existence with the bang. Whatever there may have been 'beforehand' would indeed be strange in our terms, but that doesn't mean that it may not be deduced and described some time in the future! " — Mike A

Mike: However, for logical reasons, it turns out that there will always be something outside our theory which cannot be deduced. This is provable.

According to Hans Primas:

philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000951/00/Realism&QuantumMechanics.pdf

"Every theory which attempts to describe its own means of verification is necessarily self referential. In order to avoid paradoxes of self reference, we need an at least two level theory where the second level represents the metatheory which must be formulated in another language, a so called metalanguage. ... So we have to split the world into two parts, the observed part and the observing part. Our description depends on this cut but this cut cannot be derived from any kind of ultimate theory. Hence the language of a hypothetically posited universal theory at most can at most describe a part of the full reality, perhaps even only a tiny area. Traditionally, the physical sciences exclude the subject of cognizance from their enquiry. No known physical theory deals with the reality of man in his freedom. "

Hawkins and Dawkins, while perhaps fairly able in areas of Science, are inept in Philosophy. Primas has a strong reputation in Chemistry, Mathematics and Philosophy.

23 September 2010 at 19:14  
Blogger Mike A said...

CSPB - impressive! Primas is indeed a remarkable man, and I am certainly nowhere near him in intellect. If you have the ability to explain his argument somewhat mnore simply than he does in the paper you quote, I'd be interested. I have read the whole paper and would like to offer this: he seems to be saying that Cartesian dualism may be 'misconceived' and 'radically in error', and also that the 'cut' required in quantum physics is not the same as the Cartesian cut. He also seems to say that observable finite closed systems in the old-fashioned physical sense do not exist under the new quantum physical understanding of the world, and it appears to be in this sense that he is discussing the inside and outside of theories - in quantum physics, I can see that the difference between observer and the observed is crucial. For myself, I doubt the validity of Cartesian dualism as an explanation of mind and matter; I consider there is only matter.

Len - what prophecies are you referring to? If to the Messiah, we only have opinion as to whether Jesus may have been that figure. There are far too many examples in recent history of how easily people are deceived into believing in what they desire.

23 September 2010 at 22:07  
Blogger DJB said...

The trouble with religion is that it is relativistic. To a truly religious person, who obeys God, there can be no absolute morality.

That is why the Catholic Church did deals with Hitler, Mussolini, Petain, Franco etc., despite now claiming them as "atheistic" (even if they weren't).

To illustrate the point, see the story of the Binding of Isaac, Genesis 22:1-24. This is religious morality in a nutshell.

23 September 2010 at 22:32  
Anonymous Sydneysider said...

You have all instantly and magically reappeared from nowhere ,battling it out again. This is miraculous as far as I am concerned. Who says there is no God?

25 September 2010 at 07:37  
Blogger D. Singh said...

CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI

Why don't you write a book for the Judaeo-Christian layman?

I would urge you to do so.

27 September 2010 at 07:58  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Mike A: Primas is indeed amazing. Unfortunately, my knowledge of quantum mechanics is limited to a fraction of what Primas calls "Pioneer Quantum Mechanics". However, to fully appreciate modern QM, one needs a good understanding of C* and W* algebras, something which I do not possess.

I disagree with you that Primas seems to be saying that Cartesian dualism may be 'misconceived' and 'radically in error'. To the contrary, he claims that "the often heard statement that quantum mechanics has already given up on Cartesian dualism is unfounded". He does say that observable finite closed systems, in the old-fashioned physical sense, do not exist under the new quantum physical understanding of the world. Even in the old Quantum Mechanics, this belief was forced by the EPR "correlations" which so bothered Einstein. However I disagree that he is discussing the inside and outside of theories only in this sense. For example, he says that "the context dependence of every description of physical reality is inevitable even in classical physics." His claim that metatheories are required is based on theorems of logic. Primas points out that today's physics is "ill-disposed and technically incapable of creating a non-Cartesian Science" and that it would be science fiction to "include consciousness in the realm of physics". He says that all physical theories are "incapable of dealing with the complementarity of matter and spirit."

27 September 2010 at 18:57  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Mike A.
You say that you doubt the validity of Cartesian dualism as an explanation of mind and matter and consider that there is only matter. Materialism is an act of faith. Materialism seems to rest on one or more (metaphysical) assumptions -for which there is no possibility of proof:

1. The fundamental axiom of scientism --that all truth is material. Yet metaphysics appears to be a logical necessity.

2. That matter is spontaneously generated from nothing.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist." Stephen Hawking

The bizarre phrase "the Universe can and will create itself from nothing" contains glaring contradictions. A future tense "will" is used in the context of a non existent Universe in which, before "creating itself" -whatever that means- neither time nor space existed although, if Hawking is to be believed, there was a gravitational constant floating around.

3. That the mind is reducible to individual atoms and molecules and explicable by the scientific method.

One does not see how. Nor it seems do the greatest philosophers and scientists. We know we are conscious but we cannot explain our consciousness.

4. That dead matter spontaneously became living and by -unknown- biochemical and mechanical pathways thereby produces all species.

Ignoring the problem of biogenesis, no precise biochemical or mechanical “pathway” between two macroscopically distinct species has ever been found and, in the absence of continuous fossil records, none is ever likely to be found. Even when conceivable paths between two species exist, lack of uniqueness coupled with insufficiency of fossils makes it impossible to determine which, if any, “path” was actually followed. Thus, the concept of “intermediate form” between distinct species seems to be an ill-defined notion. In particular, the notion of the progressive appearance of, say, ‘whaleness’ is subjective and likely untestable. In reality, the almost total ignorance of precise homotopies between species coupled with the sparsity of fossils results in a whale of a model, one slack enough to accommodate the Titanic.

The mere invention of plausible reasons why a certain hypothesized intermediate stage should be favored by “natural selection” does not pass muster as a scientific test. Many so called fossils have actually turned out to be fake. Australopithecine was the skull of an extinct ape, Piltdown Man was the jaw of an orangutan fitted into a human, Java Man was a mere gorilla, Nebraska Man was the teeth and body parts of an extinct pig, and Pithecanthropus Alalus, a fairy tale. Archaeoraptor was intelligently designed by a Chinese farmer who affixed bits of a theropod dinosaur to the head and body of a microraptor (the resulting fiction —like the discredited Gospel of Judas— was then sold to the ever amenable National Geographic Magazine). Thus, macro evolution, while a possibility I do not discount, is, in practice a matter of faith. One has first to believe in all kinds of unknown and unknowable biochemical mechanisms.

In summary, science is very powerful but, as Thomas Aquinas well understood, is limited in the sorts of truth it can reveal. Our very notions of matter, space, time, energy, etc. are but abstractions with only local validity. There can be no “theory of everything” for, by Gödel’s theorem, no logical system which is sufficiently descriptive is all powerful. A sufficiently powerful and consistent theory will always admit semantically true statements which are unprovable.

27 September 2010 at 19:07  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Mike A: Primas is indeed amazing. Unfortunately, my knowledge of quantum mechanics is limited to a fraction of what Primas calls "Pioneer Quantum Mechanics". However, to fully appreciate modern QM, one needs a good understanding of C* and W* algebras, something which I do not possess.

I disagree with you that Primas seems to be saying that Cartesian dualism may be 'misconceived' and 'radically in error'. To the contrary, he claims that "the often heard statement that quantum mechanics has already given up on Cartesian dualism is unfounded". He does say that observable finite closed systems, in the old-fashioned physical sense, do not exist under the new quantum physical understanding of the world. Even in the old Quantum Mechanics, this belief was forced by the EPR "correlations" which so bothered Einstein. However I disagree that he is discussing the inside and outside of theories only in this sense. For example, he says that "the context dependence of every description of physical reality is inevitable even in classical physics." His claim that metatheories are required is based on theorems of logic. Primas points out that today's physics is "ill-disposed and technically incapable of creating a non-Cartesian Science" and that it would be science fiction to "include consciousness in the realm of physics". He says that all physical theories are "incapable of dealing with the complementarity of matter and spirit."
Mike A.
You say that you doubt the validity of Cartesian dualism as an explanation of mind and matter and consider that there is only matter. Materialism is an act of faith. Materialism seems to rest on one or more (metaphysical) assumptions -for which there is no possibility of proof:

1. The fundamental axiom of scientism --that all truth is material. Yet metaphysics appears to be a logical necessity.

2. That matter is spontaneously generated from nothing.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist." Stephen Hawking

The bizarre phrase "the Universe can and will create itself from nothing" contains glaring contradictions. A future tense "will" is used in the context of a non existent Universe in which, before "creating itself" -whatever that means- neither time nor space existed although, if Hawking is to be believed, there was a gravitational constant floating around.

3. That the mind is reducible to individual atoms and molecules and explicable by the scientific method.

One does not see how. Nor it seems do the greatest philosophers and scientists. We know we are conscious but we cannot explain our consciousness.

27 September 2010 at 19:08  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Mike A.
You say that you doubt the validity of Cartesian dualism as an explanation of mind and matter and consider that there is only matter. Materialism is an act of faith. Materialism seems to rest on one or more (metaphysical) assumptions -for which there is no possibility of proof:

1. The fundamental axiom of scientism --that all truth is material. Yet metaphysics appears to be a logical necessity.

2. That matter is spontaneously generated from nothing.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist." Stephen Hawking

The bizarre phrase "the Universe can and will create itself from nothing" contains glaring contradictions. A future tense "will" is used in the context of a non existent Universe in which, before "creating itself" -whatever that means- neither time nor space existed although, if Hawking is to be believed, there was a gravitational constant floating around.

Continued in following post.

27 September 2010 at 19:11  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Cintinued from previous post

3. That the mind is reducible to individual atoms and molecules and explicable by the scientific method.

One does not see how. Nor it seems do the greatest philosophers and scientists. We know we are conscious but we cannot explain our consciousness.

4. That dead matter spontaneously became living and by -unknown- biochemical and mechanical pathways thereby produces all species.

Ignoring the problem of biogenesis, no precise biochemical or mechanical “pathway” between two macroscopically distinct species has ever been found and, in the absence of continuous fossil records, none is ever likely to be found. Even when conceivable paths between two species exist, lack of uniqueness coupled with insufficiency of fossils makes it impossible to determine which, if any, “path” was actually followed. Thus, the concept of “intermediate form” between distinct species seems to be an ill-defined notion. In particular, the notion of the progressive appearance of, say, ‘whaleness’ is subjective and likely untestable. In reality, the almost total ignorance of precise homotopies between species coupled with the sparsity of fossils results in a whale of a model, one slack enough to accommodate the Titanic.

The mere invention of plausible reasons why a certain hypothesized intermediate stage should be favored by “natural selection” does not pass muster as a scientific test. Many so called fossils have actually turned out to be fake. Australopithecine was the skull of an extinct ape, Piltdown Man was the jaw of an orangutan fitted into a human, Java Man was a mere gorilla, Nebraska Man was the teeth and body parts of an extinct pig, and Pithecanthropus Alalus, a fairy tale. Archaeoraptor was intelligently designed by a Chinese farmer who affixed bits of a theropod dinosaur to the head and body of a microraptor (the resulting fiction —like the discredited Gospel of Judas— was then sold to the ever amenable National Geographic Magazine). Thus, macro evolution, while a possibility I do not discount, is, in practice a matter of faith. One has first to believe in all kinds of unknown and unknowable biochemical mechanisms.

In summary, science is very powerful but, as Thomas Aquinas well understood, is limited in the sorts of truth it can reveal. Our very notions of matter, space, time, energy, etc. are but abstractions with only local validity. There can be no “theory of everything” for, by Gödel’s theorem, no logical system which is sufficiently descriptive is all powerful. A sufficiently powerful and consistent theory will always admit semantically true statements which are unprovable.

27 September 2010 at 19:13  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Continued from above

3. That the mind is reducible to individual atoms and molecules and explicable by the scientific method.

One does not see how. Nor it seems do the greatest philosophers and scientists. We know we are conscious but we cannot explain our consciousness.

4. That dead matter spontaneously became living and by -unknown- biochemical and mechanical pathways thereby produces all species.

Ignoring the problem of biogenesis, no precise biochemical or mechanical “pathway” between two macroscopically distinct species has ever been found and, in the absence of continuous fossil records, none is ever likely to be found. Even when conceivable paths between two species exist, lack of uniqueness coupled with insufficiency of fossils makes it impossible to determine which, if any, “path” was actually followed. Thus, the concept of “intermediate form” between distinct species seems to be an ill-defined notion. In particular, the notion of the progressive appearance of, say, ‘whaleness’ is subjective and likely untestable. In reality, the almost total ignorance of precise homotopies between species coupled with the sparsity of fossils results in a whale of a model, one slack enough to accommodate the Titanic.

27 September 2010 at 19:23  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

D. Singh

Thank you very much for the suggestion. Maybe I will when I retire. Meanwhile, I recommend for the layman:

The Science before Science by Anthony Rizzi
IAP Press.

27 September 2010 at 19:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is either; Islam, Atheism or Catholicism - Take your pick.

Atheism is the next logical step from Protestantism, where each man is his own Pope and determines for himself what is right or wrong.

Interestingly enough even the Moslems can recognize that point:

http://gloria.tv/?media=99441

Something to think about.

28 September 2010 at 02:13  
OpenID Sentinel said...

Your Grace,

A splendid post, thank you!

Theresa @ 22/09/2010 15:34,

Bravo!

William,

Thanks for all your contributions. You ahve introduced a much-needed element of sanity and rationality to the discussion.

CRUX,

Thanks especially for the stats on S. America that you provided (and the HIV/condom use correlation).

As a Catholic frind of mine recently said:

"It's pretty ludicrous to blame the Catholic stance on contraception for HIV outbreaks. If you're sleeping around, you clearly don't give a toss what the Pope thinks anyway."
(And yes, I'm aware that there are other ways to pick up HIV, but condoms wouldn't help with them).

1 October 2010 at 15:58  

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