back to article Science and religion collide for galactic conference

The Vatican is hosting its second astronomy conference in seven years, as the Roman Catholic church strives to avoid being seen as anti-science. Delegates are expected from 26 countries, including Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, and Russia, the BBC reports. Father Jose Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory, said the …

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  1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I think it's worth pointing out...

    The vatican has one of the oldest astronomical observatories in the world within its borders, which proves that you can do all the science you like but it'll mean squat if you come at it with pre-conceived notions.

  2. Paul

    I think it's worth pointing out...

    Pre-conceived notions like "all religous people are blinkerd to science"?

    Go and look up what they have done at the Vatican observetory and learn somthing befor posting such comments.

  3. Angus Wood

    Hmph

    "...that if you have faith, then you're never going to be afraid of what science is going to come up with."

    You're never going to belive what science comes up with would be more accurate.

  4. passerby

    Galileo, or Copernicus?

    Copernicus proposed it, then died. Galileo looked through a telescope, confirmed it, and got in trouble. At least, if i renember my history correctly.

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Guys and Gals and Sister Orders

    "Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, a member of Father Funes's 13-strong team, explains that the Church has maintained its interest because science holds no fears for the faithful."

    Does it provide for their Personal Pleasures, Brother?The Art that is in Faithful Science?!.

  6. alistair millington

    I like the thought of...

    Someone in his eighties wearing the full ceremonial catholic robes somewhere in the Arizona desert saying.

    "Disk galaxies are the hot topic."

    Made me smile anyway... What is that in Latin?

    I'll get me coat.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Disc Galaxies are a tot topic, any chance of them drilling down a bit

    and just discussing Discworld?

    Taxi for one.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christianity

    As a believer in Jesus Christ I am no believer in Catholism. The cult like religion of Catholics is so far from anything biblical it is no wonder there is no agreement on anything. Ask a Catholic when the last time they read their bible? Do they even own one? Did you know the Pope at one time made it illegal for "catholics" to have a bible?

    But worth noting .. Science assumes far too many things. For example oxygenation and carbon dating .. since it is IMPOSSIBLE to scientifically (and accurately) date anything beyond the levels of known atmospheric conditions (how much carbon/oxygen was in the air at THIS time) the fact that there is "scientific theory" presented as over 100 million years ago this dinosaur existed.. Since they have no idea how much carbon was in the envrionment in 100BC it could have been then just as easy.

  9. Rob

    Solid Science

    Yes, because i really want to rely on the wisdom of people who hear voices in their heads and feel proof is an optional extra, what a curious way of being scientific..

    Maybe we could also try to extend this interesting idea and use the wisdom of crowds effect to solve problems by building a beowulf cluster out of all the asylum inmates we have.

    We'll have quantum mechanics sussed in no time.

  10. amanfromMars Silver badge

    dDeep Faith is a Shared Pleasure and Priceless Treasure? A Little Bit More than just Belief.

    The Name of the Rose MetaMorphoSIS.... the Awakening?

  11. adnim

    Logic and common sense

    are required to qualify and quantify scientific discoveries. Religious types and those believing in a god are basically adrift of reality, twisting the laws of physics and the theory of evolution to fit their faith whilst living in a permanent state of denial. They are inherently unqualified to recognise the truth. And as such should not be trusted to perform the most rudimentary scientific experiment.

    Religious people blinkered to science? Maybe not. Blinkered to reality, fact and truth? most certainly.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worth mentioning

    That the Vatican head/chief astronomer (can't remember his name/exact title) recently waded into the ID 'debate' and said clearly that there is no way that ID should be in any science class, because it isn't science.

  13. A J Stiles

    Still fundamentally incompatible

    Religion and science are incompatible at a very fundamental level. Science is based on the idea that all observable phenomena that occur in the universe are explainable in terms of a set of natural laws that apply to everything in the universe, and never change. Religion is based on the idea that some observable phenomena are not explainable and must simply be accepted as mysteries.

    For a laugh sometime, try drawing a Young Earth reationist into a conversation about rainbows.

  14. Alex

    amanfromMars

    did he just post twice in the same topic? i feel special for seeing this happen ^^

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science / Religion = 2(pig + ear)

    I always like Hawking's story of when he attended one of these things. They had a sermon from the pope who said it was fine to look at what happened after the big bang, but not before. They think that god dwells in a singularity or at least in the first singularity because otherwise what the damn hell was he up to, and from where was he standing?

    Hawking's paper jumped all over that aim, but as none of the vatican's people could understand what he was on about, he got away with it.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Christianity

    Before you poke the Catholics with a pointed stick or nit pick in an ill-informed manner about the merits of carbon dating, consider the real reason for your belief in jesus.

    Met him? Seen evidence of his existence?

    No, someone told you a story once when you were small. Who was it, and how much would you trust their account now? Where do you think THEY got the idea?

  17. A J Stiles

    Still fundamentally incompatible

    Religion and science are absolutely incompatible at a very fundamental level. Science is based on the idea that all observable phenomena that occur in the universe are explainable in terms of a set of natural laws that apply to everything in the universe, and never change. Religion is based on the idea that some observable phenomena are *not* explainable and must simply be accepted as mysteries.

    For a laugh sometime, try drawing a Young Earth Creationist into a conversation about rainbows. Specifically, if the account in Genesis 7-9 is literally true, then how come there were no rainbows before the Flood?

    Christianity has perhaps about fifty to a hundred years left before it implodes with its own absurdity. Islam is already on borrowed time. Judaism is probably in the best position to adapt to an atheistic hypothesis.

  18. Steve

    RE: Christianity

    Yes, thank you, Anonymous Christian Coward for demonstrating so vividly that fuckwit fundamentalists have absolutely no understanding of how science works.

    We can start with "Science assumes to much", that's a giggle, if you weren't such a dribbling, brainwashed fuckwit who believes everything he is told by other dribbling, brainwashed fuckwits with more of the Big G's authority (because they tell you so), you would know that in fact science ASSUMES very little. Science hypothesises about stuff, and then tests it.

    That's not like faith, where you assume something is true because some kiddy fiddler in a dress tells you it is so and uses a 16th century translation of a 1400 year old compilation of edited myths that had already, by that time, undergone millennia of Chinese whispers, as supporting 'evidence'.

    You also appear to completely lack an understanding of how radio carbon dating works, although I'm not surprised, because although it's possible to develop a sophisticated layman's understanding of why C14 dating is so accurate with an hour's research, this level of independent thought is clearly beyond you.

    Congratulations on making yourself look like such a dumbass. If there is an all powerful being who created the entire universe, and she is also omniscient, rest assured she is laughing her tits off at your stupidity.

    Proof, if more were needed, that 'of faith', and 'drooling retard' are virtually synonymous in the modern world. Something that was not always true. Issac Newton, for instance was a stonking great scientific genius and a christian, so what's your fucking excuse ?

  19. Master Baker

    Kylie

    When I'm at home, alone, and at night, I like to look out from my bedroom window into the blackness and try to appreciate the utter vastness of it all. To see the thousands of diamond-twinkles winking at me, it really does make me wonder whether this really is nature or created by a 'higher intelligence'.

    Then the twinkles remind me of the glittering sequin's adorning Kylie's long, black, slinky dress. And that makes me smile. A lot. And it makes me hard.

    And as the stars above wink down at me, I start to wink back at them...

    I love to wink...

  20. Mark Rendle

    Re: Christianity

    You know nothing. Shut up.

  21. gareth

    what a load of christianity

    <quote>

    But worth noting .. Science assumes far too many things. For example oxygenation and carbon dating .. since it is IMPOSSIBLE to scientifically (and accurately) date anything beyond the levels of known atmospheric conditions (how much carbon/oxygen was in the air at THIS time) the fact that there is "scientific theory" presented as over 100 million years ago this dinosaur existed.. Since they have no idea how much carbon was in the envrionment in 100BC it could have been then just as easy.

    </quote>

    you can only carbon date something upto 60000 years old as the half life of carbon 14 means there woun't be a detectable level left in anything older.

    dinosaur bones would be data by the age of the geological strata they are contained using a radiologiacal dating method such as lead isochron dating. learn some science before you spowt crap

  22. Steve Roper

    Atheist zealotry

    What I'm seeing here is a bunch of atheists as bigoted about their belief system (the absence of any God) as any of the religious fundamentalists they so arrogantly despise. I am not religious, but I do respect my fellow human beings' right to form their own understandings and judgements about the Universe.

    All you people can do is point to things the Catholic Church did hundreds of years ago, because that's how long ago the Church was actually opposed to science. They have long since admitted their error, and have embraced science and learning now for at least a couple of hundred years. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Catholic monasteries were respected centres of scientific, philosophical and literary learning.

    This may come as a surprise to many of you, but most Christians are not fundamentalist zealots who deny any tenet of science. You hear mainly the noisy fundamentalists because the moderate majority do not go around bible-thumping and preaching in the streets. For many people, the co-existence of God and the Big Bang is not a difficult concept to reconcile.

    So instead of rubbishing anybody who believes in God with your blind atheist zealotry, you should be supporting the Church's efforts to heal the rift between religion and science. Religion isn't going to go away, however much you latter-day born-again God deniers piss and moan. Neither is science. So the best we can to is to try to find a way to end the pointless conflicts about people's beliefs and hopefully guide some of the more deluded religious believers to a factual understanding of the Universe they can accept within the context of their worldview.

    It IS possible. But not when those in the best position to understand reality are as bigoted as the fundamentalists they would supplant.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    And in this comment thread we see why folk say that those who just resort to insulting others, just show themselves up, and gain no legitimate support for their viewpoint.

  24. David Ralston

    what a load of christianity

    Again to prove my point..

    Whatever method of dating you use carbon or RD they are ONLY THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACTS, which inherently make them unprovable. Unless you have the KNOWN facts of the environment at THAT time it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old.

    Perhaps you should understand a little more about science or at least the difference between theories and facts.

    If dino's didn't exist with man why are there so many cave paintings which depict dino's with men? Case in point, we still have caveman today .. where o'where is that man Mr. Bin Laden at again?

  25. Richard Dawson

    Easy on the Fundy chaps

    Afterall, it's not good manners to be mean to the simple folk. I'm inferring from his posting that Jesus fought the dinosaurs and won, so think on that before posting.

    Presumably chickens evolved sometime in the Middle Ages.

  26. David Ralston

    what a load of christianity

    you can only carbon date something upto 60000 years old as the half life of carbon 14 means there woun't be a detectable level left in anything older.

    Or so you state as fact, but should be theory. Hence the problem. Science has no factual proof, just like Christianity. Except you believe your human theories because in my reality this happens.

    Hit me up in 60,000 years and present it as fact and I'll believe you. Until then shove your theory based science up your bosom.

  27. Ferry Boat

    Tumble Tots

    This set of comments has quickly degenerated into the 'science good, religion bad' vs. 'science bad, religion good' sort of thing one expects to read on The Guardian website. Surely men in dresses can't do science, they can't run fast enough when it goes wrong. Why do people believe in things that there is no basis for? Do they have some special need?

    At the entrance to hell there is a SPECIAL magic blue horse who kicks the good dead people up into the sky to heaven where they are given a special triangle of EVERLASTING 'laughing cow' cheese spread. The horse only works on Wednesdays because there are so few TRUE believers. On the other days a giant brown plastic man passes the evil people into hell proper through the PLASTIC LOOP on his head using an adapted third arm. Now that's my kind of belief system. Can't prove it wrong so it must be true. Wins every time.

    Anyway C14 can't work back that far, the world is only 6,000 years old.

  28. amanfromMyarse

    @Alex

    yes, but one is a fake IntelAIgent

  29. Andy White

    Moderation

    Overall I think religion and science ask different questions. Science generally wants to know how and religion asks why. In my mind that has always been compatible.

    I'm a "fuckwit fundamentalist" (thanks Steve) but I'm also did a PhD in Mathematical Physics (Perturbations Of Black Holes in Einstein-Cartan Theory) having studied the Torsion extension of General Relativity for three and a half years.

    Can't we just live and let live?

  30. James Pels

    what a load of christianity

    <quote>

    Whatever method of dating you use carbon or RD they are ONLY THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACTS, which inherently make them unprovable. Unless you have the KNOWN facts of the environment at THAT time it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old.

    </quote>

    OK, maybe not exactly 100 million years old... more like "between 90 and 110 million years old" - nobody claims infallibility. Also, the age of many discoveries is being revised continuously as methods of calculating them changes.

    Incidentally, one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the universe is far, far older than 100 million years old. We know the speed of light accurately (certainly in our local universe) and two simple, provable techniques (trigonometry using the diameter of Earth's orbit as a baseline and redshift of the light reaching Earth) give very accurate locations of at least the closer stars and galaxies. Combining these gives an irrefutable minimum age of our universe of at least a couple of billion years (I haven't gone back any further than this in case key properties of the universe such as the speed of light change outside our local region).

    <quote>

    If dino's didn't exist with man why are there so many cave paintings which depict dino's with men?

    </quote>

    These paintings being where, exactly??!

  31. Steve

    Still dribbling

    And still helping to underline my points about faith and the utter lack of rationality that it represents.

    "Or so you state as fact, but should be theory. Hence the problem. Science has no factual proof, just like Christianity"

    Again with fundamental misunderstanding of science. Do you know the difference between a scientific theory and something that some bearded twat just made up centuries ago?

    It's vast. As vast as the vacant space between your ears.

    And in any case, the decay of radio isotopes is measurable. It is a fact.

    "it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old."

    Yup, well done genius. There is a margin for error, but since you refuse to educate yourself about what this is, or what measures can be taken to narrow that margin, using factual data that is measurably correct, you once again put your ignorance on clear view for all to see.

    I continue to laugh of my ass off. I might even find time to pity you.

    If there is a deity, you are going straight to hell, for the entertainment of everyone with a brain that works properly.

    "What I'm seeing here is a bunch of atheists as bigoted about their belief system (the absence of any God) as any of the religious fundamentalists they so arrogantly despise."

    Then look closer. At no point in any of these comments has anyone stated "There is no God", merely that dribbling fuckwits who think dinosaurs just popped off last Thursday are retards.

    "I am not religious, but I do respect my fellow human beings' right to form their own understandings and judgements about the Universe."

    That's nice. But most religion has fuck all to do with forming your own judgements, quite the opposite in fact. That's what 'faith' means.

    And you are of course right, not ALL christians are total retards. The Gnostics have some cracking insights, for instance.

    Shame the rest of the christians persecuted them as heretics, eh ? Same old same old.

  32. Steve

    @Andy White

    "Religion is our aim, science our method" eh ?

    Good one. OK, maybe you can open my eyes a bit here, what is the difference between the 'fundamentalism' that you espouse, which allows you to encompass the vastness and enormous age of the universe while not necessarily denying the existence of a 'creator' entity (perfectly sensible, IMHO), and the 'fundamentalism' espoused by people who think the world was created in 4000 BC, or whatever the date was, and decry all science as heresy. (And yes fundys, though you aren't currently using that term in public fora, that is what you are doing)

    Clearly there *is* a difference, so perhaps you can enlighten me as to what it is ? I am genuinely curious.

  33. Ferry Boat

    Humboldt Penguin

    <quote>

    Overall I think religion and science ask different questions. Science generally wants to know how and religion asks why. In my mind that has always been compatible.

    </quote>

    Nope, all depends on how you phrase the question. Science wants to know why the earth goes around the sun. Religion, well, not sure it wants to know why. It just tells you what to believe and not to question. Be a good person and give us your money to help fix our roof.

  34. Chris Green

    Re: what a load of christianity & Paintings are where?

    I've heard of these paintings, but can't be sure where they are.

    However, I have a feeling they are on walls in a recently opened ID museum.

    Maybe they should be carbon dated, to make sure they are really old.

  35. James

    Atheist Fundamentalists?

    What on earth is an atheist fundamentalist? If you follow the scientific method then the stance of the atheist is simply that a negative cannot be proven but a positive can be. This isn't fundamentalism, it's the refusal to believe fairy stories unless there's some solid evidence to back them up.

    It is easy to be an exasperated atheist, however, as the frustration mounts with theists who don't understand simple scientific principles and the tenet:

    It is not up to me to show there is no invisible unicorn in this room, it is up to you to prove that the invisible unicorn you claim is there, actually is.

    Scientists have done amazing work unravelling the mysteries of the universe, previously and incorrectly attributed to god, and there are plenty left. A theist with a modicum of observation should be worried by the continued erosion of god's alleged role as he shrinks to become a vanishing "god of gaps". In defiance of reason the fundamentalist shrilly declares "There just is a god!" and is regarded as foolish by the non-fundamentalist scientific thinkers.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Atheist zealotry

    First things first, thanks for being civil, it goes to prove that not EVERYONE is an ass. I take it from your post, you are Christian. I happen to be Atheist, but certainly believe that your beliefs have no effect on me, and as such, you're welcome to them. I wish more people could get their heads around that concept, ah well, too bad.

    But anyway, regarding your comment "So the best we can to is to try to find a way to end the pointless conflicts about people's beliefs and hopefully guide some of the more deluded religious believers to a factual understanding of the Universe they can accept within the context of their worldview.", I propose we follow the Simpsons here, and put a restraining order into effect. Religion and Science are no longer allowed within 500 feet of each other.

  37. Richard Dawson

    Moschops

    According to a rather fine Moschops DVD compilation I've just analysed, Dinosaurs could talk and were made of felt.

    I just don't know what to believe any more.

  38. Elijah

    Good Laughs!

    I was relieved to see so many smart people on here that did not have imaginary friends. I thought the maturity of some of the comments could have been a bit more so but then I wouldn't have laughed as much ;).

    I am amazed at how much of our world has imaginary friends.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Valid point

    'Surely men in dresses can't do science, they can't run fast enough when it goes wrong.'

    Nah they do experimental magic instead

  40. Ferry Boat

    Jumbo No-Tear Paper Clips

    re: re: Atheist zealotry

    I suppose the real problem is that religion is taken into account when people make important decisions. This is bad. We should wherever possible base decisions on facts.

    So, please, believe in what you want, invisible teapots, invisible unicorns, gods, magic potatoes etc... Please let's keep that mumbo jumbo away from politics, education and science. We don't need it as it clouds our judgement and makes people cross with each other.

    I'm off home for tea. As it's a Monday my god has told me to have fish. He's as mad as a goat but I love him oh, so much.

  41. Dan

    RE: Christianity by Steve

    Crikey Steve you sound like a Wiccan fundamentalist with that little rant lol

    On a lighter note though. You will find that Science and Religion, (regardless of which religion it is,) are frequently incompatible. Less so at the general lay practitioner levels, but utterly incompatible at the top end Hardcore Fundamentalist levels.

    Im a Pagan and I've heard some truly bizarre explanations for creation. Just amongst other Pagan's alone for example: That nature or the Goddess and God created everything instantly, or that a Diannic Lesbian Goddess birthed the world from her womb.....eww ick. I don't believe in Deities. I've done far too much research in to them to believe that they are anything other than pseudo stand-in Parental figures for humanities various cultures. Or in some cases, an excuse for the excesses of humanity. (Muhammed getting to do more than any other Muslim is always described in the Koran as Allah letting him do it.)

    I wish I could do that. I think I'll go rob a bank and say "Hey Nature didn't like you killing all the tree's, so Im here to liberate the paper money !!" Sadly we don't live in the loony past, but the modern era. Where Science, not Superstition, rules !!

    Im frankly dubious of the Vatican's scientists but I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, just to hear what they have to say. But rest assured I'd have no problem disagreeing with them.

  42. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Hey look, everyone missed my point!

    Pre-conceived notions rule the day.

    Again.

    I'd laugh but it's just so damn depressing...

  43. Richard Dawson

    Moschops

    According to a rather fine Moschops DVD compilation I've just analysed, Dinosaurs could talk and were made of felt.

    I just don't know what to believe any more.

  44. Steve

    RE RE: Christianity by Steve

    To be honest Dan, I'm not that fond of most Wiccans either, they have an irritating way of simply replacing christian myths with Wiccan myths and then carrying on as though that's that, job done, when they are, in fact, still caught in the same trap.

    They also have an upsetting tendency towards smugness that I find deeply annoying, especially in a religion that was largely made up by uncle Al Crowley and his mates for a laugh.

  45. Luther Blissett

    I think it's worth pointing out...

    The Big Bang is a religious invention anyway, first devised by Father Georges Henri Joseph Éduard Lemaître (July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer (and, yup, that came from Wiki, but it happens to be correct).

    Down at the Vatican they're luvinit, luvinit, luvinit. Because "the consensus" that continues to believe in it is wrong.

    Think about it: big bang, black holes .... getting a shade to close to pederasty and pedophilia for comfort.

  46. Justin Stone

    Puh...

    An Interdimensional Sky Wizard from another dimension that has no start came to our dimension created a universe and then created the earth in 6 days, rested, and then hung around to see what humans would do for 6000 years then made "special human" who turns into a zombie and becomes an Interdimensional Sky Wizard himself then disappears to their other dimension never too be heard of again?

    One day I hope the Vatican holds a biology conference and invites Richard Dawkins...I'd pay to see that.

  47. J

    @David Ralston

    That was really funny (not in a good way), but at least kudos to you for not posting "anonymously"...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the coming of the great white hankerchief

    is all that you need to fear.... all the rest is just make-believe ...

  49. system

    fanatics all around

    Science has not convincingly dispelled the idea of a god.

    Sure, bits and pieces of the bible can be disproved, but the idea of a creator cannot.

    "Scientists have done amazing work unravelling the mysteries of the universe, previously and incorrectly attributed to god"

    So the earth orbits the sun because of gravity. This does not prove in any way that a god or gods don't exist or that they play no part in the earths orbit.

    If I set a wheel spinning, the spin is a direct result of my actions whatever the forces and physics involved in the how.

    There are a whole load of unknowns still out there, and according to some scientific theories it is impossible for humans to know everything. Unless you can know everything, you cannot say definitively that there is no god, or that a god did not play a role in one of the "mysteries of the universe".

    The only thing you can say is that the existance of god has not been proven.

    Particles smaller than quarks have not been proven to exist, however their existance cannot be ruled out. Anyone venemently denying their existance because of lack of evidence is displaying a fanatical form of faith.

    I am not a great supporter of religions, nor a believer in god. However, I do think those calling themselves scientists should be able to keep an open mind.

    Closed minds are a bad thing, whether they are closed to science or religion.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Walking on water

    OK...

    How much Carbon-14 Isotopes in the world?

    ...Lots

    Pick ANY amount of it.

    See if it decays in line with the 'Half Life' Hypothesis...

    pick some more...

    etc..

    How many people are there in the world?

    ...Lets say 6 billion.

    Pick one of them.

    Ask them to walk on some water...

    Ask them to ummm make lots of fish...

    etc, etc, etc...

    After lots of testing what do we have?

    I expect a lot of supporting evidence for the Carbon-14 half life theory, and a lot of supporting evidence that people just dont walk on water.

    Now if someone said to you after your testing that they had seen some carbon-14 with a different half-life I imagine you would be sceptical.

    Just as sceptical as a sane person would be if they were told that someone can walk on water.

    People dont walk on water. Its nonsense. Grow up. Santa doesnt come down your chimney either. Its a nice thought, but, no. Im sorry to break it to you. There is no tooth fairy either. I know, I know, its terrible.

  51. Kevin Turnquist

    @Steve Roper and Anonymous Vulture

    First, @Steve Roper.

    Thank you. I was going to post very close to what you said, but you beat me to it, and probably did a better job of it.

    The amount of pure hatred in some of the posts is, well, fundamentalist. Kind of amusing irony when people spout so much about fundamentalists and then act like one.

    Every group - EVERY group - has fringe elements.

    @ Anonymous Vulture

    That Simpsons reference made my day - thanks ^.^ Good advice.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my 2 cents...

    Sorry to get all teacherish here, but some of you are getting a little out of hand. Arguments for and against religion are fine, but insulting people is unnecessary and unlikely to change their mind.

    I do not believe in a creator, because of the simple size of the universe. With billions of galaxies and billions of stars in each one, and (best guess here) millions of planets, we are not the 'most intelligent beings' in the universe. Just look at the news to confirm this :-) And the 'creator', if she did create us, doesn't care that much about us (or alternately, if you prefer, she cares about all creatures she created - not just humans). Who says a cow/worm/amoeba doesn't have a soul?? Either way, we are not high on the priority list. And heaven is getting awfully crowded, in the last few billion years...

    BTW, everyone seem to have forgotten the obligatory 'where's the IT angle' comment... :-P

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    title

    To quote Christopher Morris:

    "Your comments tonight have been variously described as 'Rabid', 'Pig ignorant' and 'Stultifyingly ill informed', thanks for those."

  54. Chad H.

    there is a suprisingly simple answer to all of this.

    The answer is simple. There is no universe as we know it. There is instead a multiverse, created by an overlapping of "mini universes" each with one soul at the centre. What exists in the multiverse exists by agreement of the majority of universes. Gods, Spritis, angels, deamons, unicorns, etc, do not exist in all universes, only select ones that overlap at the right spot. Therefore, what is painfully obvious to me (I have two spirit guides) may not be obvious to you, because my spirit guides may not exist in your local universe. It is for each of us to discover what beings exist in our own local universe, be it a creator god whos son is Jebus, or a flying spagetti monster.

    So Simple. So Easy. Kills any argument dead. "But how cant you belive in X?" Simple, he doesnt exist in my universe.

    Its also good for the ego (Yes, I *AM* the centre of the universe).

  55. Josh

    Re: Good Laughs!

    I find it just as funny that the world is in such denial about our "Invisible friends" as you put it.

    P.S. Have you ever looked up what your name means in Hebrew?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad... Very bad...

    OK, this is like watching a train wreck in slow motion... Even worse, looking at the aftermath of a horrific crash on the expressway...

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stand corrected...

    <interruption>

    Oh the humor.... the humor....

    Actually, this is funnier than watching two economists with opposing views duking it out.

    OK, please continue, I need my comedy fix...

    </interruption>

  58. Steve Roper

    Response

    I should point out that I'm not a Christian; as I stated in my previous comment, I'm not religious. I'm actually Agnostic; I make no claims whatsoever about God's existence because I don't have enough information about the Universe to make that judgment - and neither does anybody else on this planet.

    For those who cite the scientific principle regarding onus of proof in relation to Atheism, I cite another well-known scientific principle: the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. If you claim that God does NOT exist, and the Universe came into existence by unintelligent natural forces, you are making a positive claim about how the universe came to exist, and thereby assume burden of proof. By way of analogy, if I were to say that galaxies do not exist, but are merely an optical illusion affecting the mirrors of telescopes, I would have to assume a burden of proof to back that claim up.

    So nobody can make any claims regarding whether the forces that gave rise to the Universe were directed by intelligence or not. This is why I'm Agnostic. It has nothing to do with fence-sitting (as some Atheists say of Agnostics) or not listening to reason; it is because the questions asked by religion and science alike in relation to this subject are, for the present, unanswerable.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @system ... God of the Gaps

    Quote: "The only thing you can say is that the existance of god has not been proven."

    What does that sentence mean? It doesn't mean anything without a definition for what "God" is supposed to be, or a theory of what "God" is.

    You cant simply say that wherever something is an unknown factor it might be "God".

    By saying that, all you are doing is saying that the word "God" is another word for the word "Unknown".

    That is the point. Religious people (I'll call them cretins from here on) are guilty of looking at any case where there is not certainty and saying "That is God" at the results, when what they mean is "That is unknown".

    Cretins then go on to say that "you can't prove anything with 100% certainty, so you can't prove that there is no God". All this means is that "you can't prove anything with 100% certainty, so there is uncertainty".

    But, actually, you certainly can DISprove things. And any solid meaningful theory for what "God" actually is, or where he lives, or whether he has a shlong or a pair of breasts etc, is often very EASY to disprove. So the cretins never stick their necks out and actually suggest a theory. They just hide and get away with whatever confusion and mistruths they can.

    Back to the topic...

    No doubt the first thing that someone sees through this telescope that isnt immediately explainable, the Pope will say "oh look it's Gods presence". Well at least until someone says something like "No, it's not, it's the lens cap" or whatever and disproves it. Then the Pope will wait until the next thing they find that can't be explained... "Oh look, maybe that's God's presence over there"...etc

    PS. System, I thought that was a pretty good post and I agree with keeping an open mind, but not so open that you can draw a line-of-best-fit through a random set of points.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jesus Puncher

    "Religeous People, I'll call them cretins from here on"

    Followed by a PS of "[you] agree with keeping an open mind"

    This is obviously some useage of the expression "keeping an open mind" with which I have previously not been made familiar. Could you enlighten me as to what you may mean by it. Without insults, ad hominim attacks, abuse, wild generalisations etc.

    PS, I love it when someone is so comfortable in their beliefs that they have to make up an offensive name just to hide who they really are.

  61. Erlang Lacod

    peace

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so whosoever believes in him shall not persish but have eternal life."

    Interesting how many here seem to really get their rocks off by trying to knock established religeous ideologies that teach equality and mutual respect.

    It's inevitably caused by feelings of guilt that express themselves as defensive aggression. It really doesnt matter though as God knows you measure up, is ready to forgive you and will always keep His door open for you.

  62. Graham Davis

    Just think for a moment

    There is no shortage of intelligent people on both sides of the argument who have rational reasons for their beliefs. If you dismiss that then you are not one of them.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Fraser

    I don't believe in God. I am an atheist. For now. But

    I would throw away my beliefs tomorrow if someone showed me some decent evidence that they were wrong, and had something supported by more evidence to replace them with.

    That is what I mean by keeping an open mind.

    I don't mean that I will continue to believe what ever sounds the most comfortable to me because it was told to me by someone who I like, despite evidence staring me in the face that points to it being nonsense.

    -

    If a study could prove that a society who followed the ten commandments indeed lead to the most happy way of life, then I would embrace those commandments, and reject any other way of living.

    If a study could prove that a society who followed something other than the ten commandments lead to the most happy way of life, then I wonder how many of its followers would reject them?

    Believing in something basically, for the sake of it, is not having an open mind.

    -

    So let's assume that God is hiding from us in outer space somewhere (hence the observatories ?), or in some other dimension, or in the teeming quantum nothingness.

    How do people communicate with God? What is the agent of communication? If you are proposing that it is something other than the known forces then you had better come up with something to support that claim which not only incorporates the whole phenomena of already explained observations but also accurately and predicts some new and unexplained ones. Or maybe God communicates through one of the known forces?, then we should be able to detect it eventually through our equipment.... or perhaps people are special and they are made of particles that don't behave in the same way as non-people particles? Maybe the brain cells are made up electrons with a God-communicating spin? Well, sure, say what you want, but just put it down for the rest of us to see so that we can check if it's correct or not.

    What is the speed of Prayer? Is it as fast as light? as fast as quantum tunnelling? is it slowed down by a strong gravitational field? Can you pray from within a black hole?

    Is a prayer cancelled out by an anti-prayer? or a prayer travelling backwards in time?

    does a prayer need to travel anywhere at all, or is it heard instantaneously? does god see across all of time? if so then do we need to pray in sequence or can we pray tomorrow for something that happened yesterday?

    etc, etc.

    What is your theory? I am open to hearing a plausible well treated theory of God.

    The problem for religion is that as scientific theories become more and more advanced, and more and more accurate, they leave less and less room for alternative theories because the alternative theory has to explain everything already explained, or simply reject it. I'm sure there are plenty of people at Intel and AMD that can tell you that current theories work very well in terms of predictable phenomena and are as close to being provable as you can get.

    Maybe we can extract a small sample of some of these God particles from a willing priests brain, and use them to develop faster processors, or maybe compile them into a great big autonomous praying machine that would take the work load off all the busy priests?

    I'm open to suggestions.

  64. Graham Bartlett

    @David Ralston

    Radiocarbon dating? Sure, carbon has a half-life that doesn't help us for very long periods of time. Now try uranium and all the other radioactive isotopes of elements. "Oh no, my stopwatch doesn't count past 1 hour, therefore times greater than 1 hour cannot exist..."

    "Whatever method of dating you use carbon or RD they are ONLY THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACTS, which inherently make them unprovable. Unless you have the KNOWN facts of the environment at THAT time it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old."

    Science makes the explicit assumption that physical laws (as they are currently understood) are the same in all places and at all times. Sure, God could have set us up with a starting point, planting dinosaur bones and setting the initial state of every atom so that the universe was indistinguishable from how it would look if it originated from a Big Bang. Fine. But if God's done that, there is no physical evidence which would let us tell the difference - you're damn sure not going to have Jesus riding on a dinosaur, for instance.

    "Perhaps you should understand a little more about science or at least the difference between theories and facts."

    As indeed should you. In particular, the difference between facts, theories and hypotheses. A hypothesis is an idea that you think might represent the truth. A fact is a measurement of some quantity in the universe. Facts cannot tell you that your hypothesis is true - all they can do is tell you that it's wrong. A theory is a hypothesis (an idea) which has been tested over time by many, many facts and has never been disproved, to the extent that science considers it the best explanation so far of how the universe behaves.

    Radioactive decay is one such well-examined theory.

    Bishop Ussher's dating of the origin of the world to 4004BC, on the other hand, is a hypothesis which has been thoroughly disproved by many, many pieces of evidence.

    "If dino's didn't exist with man why are there so many cave paintings which depict dino's with men?"

    There aren't. Any. Anywhere. There are cave paintings of deer, bison, mammoths, etc., but not one with a dinosaur. Sorry to rain on your parade.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vatican

    All we can hope for now is a direct hit by a small asteroid. Just big enough to give Rome a new swimming hole!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jesus loves you

    Everyone else thinks you're a cunt

    nuff said

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science, scientists, and religion

    It absolutely amazes me how people say that religion and science can't co-exist when most of the founders of modern science WERE CHRISTIANS. Newton wrote as much about religion as he did science. In fact, there are many, many believers who are scientists as well even today.

    It also amazes me that people take science for absolute fact, when in reality most of it is guesses applied to guesses that were made previously. Science redefines itself every 100-150 years or so and we get the "(almost) everything you know is wrong" effect (see atomic theory at the beginning of the 1900's).

    As a Christian, who has a masters in chemistry BTW, I simply look at the world as a great creation of a amazing God. Everything is just too perfectly put together to be happenstance. I look at science as man's attempt to figure out what's here, but due to the fact that we are human and prone to errors I don't put a whole lot of faith in what they find when dealing with the past. And that's what it is...faith. People that believe what science tells them are using faith in much the same way when I believe what the Bible tells me.

    When you get down to it, there are the people who believe that we were randomly put here for no reason at all and therefore we do not have to answer for our actions. They have no hope, but they also have no consequence. Then there's the folks who believe we were put here by a creator for a purpose. We have to answer for our actions, but we have hope.

    To put it another way, it's like a child that has no parents and is living on their own. In their mind, there's no rules, no boundaries, but there's also no one there to catch them when they fall. A child with (good) parents has to obey rules and boundaries, but there is a love there that catches and keeps them.

    It saddens me to see so many bitter people on here with such a hatred for religion and God. Unfortunately, there are many "believers" that's perverted what Christianity really should be. And for that I apologize. However, there is a God and he does love each one of you folks very much, regardless of how misguided his "followers" are sometimes.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Science / Religion = 2(pig + ear)

    "It's OK to look at things after the big bang, but not before" ...um well I guess that's alright then, since there's no way I know of to view events that happened before the universe existed---and probably no time in which they could occur. Just remember that our universe is simply one tiny particle in a giant's scrotum somewhere, ad infinitum and you'll be OK.

  69. Chris Goodchild Silver badge

    Science..

    is according to the definition in word web:- Research into questions posed by scientific theories and hypotheses. That research is carried out by testing, experimenting and observing. Having done that, proof of of anything is NOT assumed but a conclusion is made that based on the testing, experimentation and observation of those tests and experiments it is conclude that X will tend to happen each time a given action occurs. Science is about looking into actions and their reactions. When a force of X is applied to an object Y in a particular direction Y will TEND to move in that direction. When Y has moved in that direction and it's movement has been measured and analysed then those results can be called a Fact nothing else can.

    As far as Religion is concerned it is a much more personal thing and is a matter of FAITH for the individual concerned. Different religions vary enormously as to how rigorously their followers must comply with their tenets and the degree of belief in the various followers varies enormously too. To the world at large it doesn't matter a damn whether or not an individual is a believer or not and it shouldn't matter to anyone else either, unless that believer is trying to force their beliefs on you or are persecutiong you for not agreeing with those beliefs.

    Beliefs, whether scientific or religious are down to each individual and each individual is entitled to them, it's one of the reasons why we fought WW2.

    As far as the Vatican is concerned, it's a multi-national institution with 500 million customers to keep happy. They have to show interest in the sciences it is just good business sense to do so. Personally I am surprised at the lack of overt interaction coming from an all merciful, all seeing ,omnipotent god. When you look at the level of fuck up occuring on a relatively recently created 6000 yr old planet. Famine, AIDS,nuclear proliferation, crappy politics and millions of god's subjects being tortured starved and otherwise abused by despots all over the planet. If I had made it and then had to suffer the people on the planet murdering my son in a very grusome manner by now I would probably intervene. but then I'm not god.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The setting of a fundemental law of nature...

    Cronus - created existence by splitting his dads head open = WRONG

    Zeus commands lightning = WRONG

    Yahweh committed infanticide against the Egyptians, nice parallels with Hitler but still = WRONG

    God created the world in 6 days = WRONG

    Explanations of existence based on human belief is always wrong = Natural Law

  71. Wizbit

    Oh-manipadnihum...

    Personally I'm agnostic, father's an atheist and mother's a Catholic; so inevitable really.

    Life is probably nicer and more secure if you believe, but I see nothing that requires a god.

    People with faith and common sense are generally really nice people.

    Religion seems to be a generally bad thing. So many of the most horrific acts in history tend to be excused with it.

    Live; let live... Really nice bit in the catechism I learned prior to my decent into science: "Do unto others as you'd have others do unto you"... with the exception of masochists; world would probably be nicer if more people followed just this idea.

    Still, fun read... many contenders, but my fav quote would have to be:

    "At no point in any of these comments has anyone stated "There is no God", merely that dribbling fuckwits who think dinosaurs just popped off last Thursday are retards."

    Ranks with : "...it's not 2 billion rats in a wheely bin."

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science and Religion are not compatible

    Historicially,

    Science eventually changes when one of its tenets is found to be wrong.

    That's its nature. Repeatably demonstrate that a theory or hypothesis is incorrect and whether you like it or not, a change must occur.

    Religion has changed over time. From multiple gods to a single god shouldn't be considered an advancement or natural progression. It really made religion xenophobic. No longer was getting your butt kicked a sign of a god that wasn't powerful enough, it became 'now we'll be rewarded for our suffering in the afterlife'. It is used to justify nonsense.

    Besides the only consistency in religion through the ages has been the fact that atheists were here before religion, through religion and will be around after the current batch of mainstream religions fades to make room for some 'new and improved' version.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And I forgot the following...

    As to the individual with a masters in chemistry.

    "Everything is just too perfectly put together to be happenstance."

    You obviously never paid attention in biology class and you probably ignore certain laws of thermodynamics.

    As for most modern scientists being Christians... are you really that ignorant?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not most...many

    To Anonymous Vulture... 10/3/07 14:53

    Reread my post please, I didn't say most modern, I said many. Major difference (however I DID say most of the modern founders of science were). And yes there are plenty of scientists out there who don't seem to have a problem with science and religion.

    Personally I don't have a problem with it. However it does change the way I look at things. Instead of seeing some weird creature living in a steam vent underwater and going "Wow, isn't evolution cool?", I say "Wow, what a creative Creator we have." It doesn't make the science of studying said creatures any less important, it just changes the view.

    And yes I did pay attention in Bio class thank you. Well enough to know that there are so many ways for people (or any creature for that matter) not to be born, that it truly is something of a miracle that life exists here at all.

    Again, it's all about the lens in which you view life. My lens focuses on the fact that we do have a reason to be here and that life is unique and precious. An atheist's lens shows a bunch of sacks of mud that were randomly placed here and have no purpose other than the 3Fs.

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