In other light reading, see also the leaflet: Famous Jewish Sports Legends.
September 8, 2014 at 8:28 am
Very good. Then again, apart from Catholics and the arch atheist and his fellow nu-atheists, does anyone care?
September 8, 2014 at 8:31 am
Some days ya just gotta mail it in, I guess. Tough weekend? 😉
September 8, 2014 at 9:09 am
Wasn’t geocentrism considered dogma until the Church began to waver on it in the 18th century, only allowing the Vatican astronomer to admit that the Earth moved in 1820? Wouldn’t you say that geocentrism was pretty much refuted well before then?
September 8, 2014 at 9:10 am
September 8, 2014 at 9:20 am
No, it wasn’t “really” dogma, or, no, you think the the stationary Earth is the center of the universe?
September 8, 2014 at 9:23 am
No, it was never dogma. And that the Earth was seen as the “center” was not a good thing: it was seen as a pit, where the sewers ran.
September 8, 2014 at 9:29 am
Having never been a Catholic, I’ll accept that I might have a faulty understanding of what Catholics mean by “dogma”. But in common parlance, a, well, dogmatic teaching, that persisted unchanged for centuries, whose contradiction was likely to get you excommunicated and possibly burned to death, you should understand, is called “dogma”. But words are used differently in different contexts, and in your headline you probably had in mind a far more restricted, technical meaning.
September 8, 2014 at 9:31 am
Is there a place where we can see a comprehensive list of what is considered to be a Catholic dogma?
September 8, 2014 at 9:35 am
Let’s see, how about a list of things aided or abetted by the Catholic Church: duplicity, arrogance, greed, deceit, self-aggrandizement, child abuse, mental abuse, denied fallibility, human indoctrination, fantasy-creation, philosophical gibberish, ecological destruction……..
(granted, not comprehensive)
September 8, 2014 at 9:36 am
Lee, there is a distinction between dogma, doctrine and discipline. In general, doctrine is all Church teaching in matters of faith and morals. Dogma is more narrowly defined as that part of doctrine which has been divinely revealed and which the Church has formally defined and declared to be believed as revealed.
Or, as explained in the Catechism:
“The Churchâ€™s magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these. (CCC 88).”
If you state your location, I’ll find out where there is an RCIA class for you to learn more about all this.
Neat!!! and very good for a Monday Morning.
September 8, 2014 at 9:43 am
Nate, here’s your list of teachings:
September 8, 2014 at 9:50 am
Nate, again I fumbled using html. Here’s a website other than the Catechism:
September 8, 2014 at 9:54 am
Hehe. Nice one.
Science can’t prove the dogmas either! E.g. transsubstantiation: it happens so sneakily that you can’t taste, smell or see it. So you can’t prove that it happens nor disprove that it does not happen.
September 8, 2014 at 10:05 am
Mr. Kurland’s definition of dogma appears to be correct. I’ve looked at the text of the Pope’s condemnation of Galileo, and other relevant texts, and it is quite clear that the geocentrism was in fact Catholic dogma. It was part of the “teaching in matters of faith” that was “divinely revealed and which the Church has formally defined and declared to be believed as revealed.” The church Fathers were unanimous that the proper interpretation of scripture required a geocentric universe. This was dogma, and considered to be dogma at the time by Catholics, just as much as immaculate conception. It’s not surprising that modern Catholics would prefer people to think that this was never dogma, but that is simply ahistorical. Mr. Briggs, your list is incomplete.
September 8, 2014 at 10:23 am
That the Earth was immobile in the center of the World was the consensus science for two thousand years. It was supported by all the empirical evidence while the dual motion of the Earth was “falsified” by that same evidence. As usual, the Church got in trouble for relying on “settled science” but the reason was that a well-known proponent of geomobility had written letters instructing some folks on how to interpret scriptures that seemed contrary. This was a clear transgression by a mathematician into the realm of theology. He was gently admonished not to do that. Cardinal Bellarmino told him that while the Church had no problem reading scriptures in the light of new knowledge, it had to be actual knowledge and not unproven hypotheses. The cardinal wanted to see hard evidence, while the astronomer wanted to be taken on faith.
Where the astronomy intersected with Church teachings was that the ancient Fathers of the Church had relied on the settled science when using astronomical imagery in their commentaries of scriptures. Bellarmino wrote:
“[I]f there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated.
But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration; none has been shown to me. It is not the same thing to show that the appearances are saved by assuming that the sun really is in the center and the earth in the heavens. I believe that the first demonstration might exist, but I have grave doubts about the second, and in a case of doubt, one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers.”
Letter to Foscarini
In any case, there is an extended discussion of the whole thing, including the reasons why the scientists of the time resisted the idea, starting here:
September 8, 2014 at 11:08 am
There is at least one error on that page. The comparison of the sizes of Procyon and Saturn. They probably mean the apparent brightness, because it is impossible to see either the disk and rings of Saturn, or the disc of Procyon. The Airy explanation doesn’t work. Human eyes do not have the resolving power to see Airy discs with the naked eye. You need a telescope for that that magnifies at least as much numerically as the diameter of the objective in mm, and that is the rule of thumb for people with excellent daylight vision.
If people saw a disk with the naked eye, then it would have been the result of near-sightedness, of astigmatism (cylinder), or both.
September 8, 2014 at 11:33 am
Or atmospheric aberration. Point is, it looked like stars had disks both to the naked eye and later to the telescope. This meant either that the stars were a whole new class of entities, humungous compared to the entire solar system, or that they were (relatively nearby). If (by Ockham’s Razor) the latter, then the Earth could not be revolving around the sun because parallax would have been clearly evident. The scientists were wrong — falsification is not that simple — but given the evidence available at the time had excellent reasons for supposing they were right and were correspondingly difficult to persuade.
September 8, 2014 at 11:41 am
Letâ€™s see, how about a list of things aided or abetted by the Catholic Church: duplicity, arrogance, greed, deceit, self-aggrandizement, child abuse, mental abuse, denied fallibility, human indoctrination, fantasy-creation, philosophical gibberish, ecological destructionâ€¦
If the Church is to be accused of anything, it should be the crimes peculiar to the Church, and not the common sins of all mankind. Otherwise, you come across like the president of Harvard when explaining to Alan Dershowitz why few Jews were admitted to Harvard. “Jews cheat,” said the WASP. When Dershowitz pointed out that so did students of all backgrounds, he was accused of changing the subject.
Although the “gibberish” business applies more pertinently to the 400 years of philosophical squid ink since the days of Descartes.
September 8, 2014 at 11:53 am
So Briggs, you’re saying that the Roman Catholic Church NEVER held as doctrine “that the Sun is NOT the center of the world and NOT immovable and that the Earth DOES NOT move, and also MOVE SUCH THAT IT HAS a diurnal motion.”?
I.E., Briggs, are you asserting that the Catholic Church did NOT hold as doctrine the idea of geocentrism (that the Earth was the center of the universe)?
Wait, if the Earth isn’t the center of the universe, where is the center then?
I thought so.
September 8, 2014 at 11:55 am
Just to clarify,
Briggs, to put the same question in yet again in different words, are you asserting that the idea of geocentrism with the Sun at the center & the Earth orbiting it (e.g. the version touted by Galileo) was NOT held by the Roman Catholic Church as false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture?
September 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm
“I.E., Briggs, are you asserting that the Catholic Church did NOT hold as doctrine the idea of geocentrism (that the Earth was the center of the universe)?”
Ken, there is a distinction between “doctrine” and “dogma”. One can, after an examination of conscience, not choose to hold some specific doctrine. That is not so for dogma. Please see the references listed in my previous comment.
September 8, 2014 at 12:20 pm
What about Jesus resurrecting from death?
September 8, 2014 at 12:23 pm
For a rational exposition of the Galileo controversy, and St. John Paul II’s apology for this error (which, by the way, was not a point of dogma) see
September 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm
stefano, how has science disproved the resurrection? I’m speaking as a physicist in this question? And as many other physicists and scientists have spoken.
September 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm
the last comment should be “Resurrection” and “I’m speaking as a physicist.” (no question mark)…. geez, I wish we could edit our comments.
September 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm
It has no scientific demonstration and atleast until now what is dead stays dead
September 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm
Stefano, it’s evident from your last comment you don’t know how science works and what are the limits of science. Where is your scientific evidence that the Resurrection did not occur? Just because ordinarily the dead stay dead does not entail that this always happens. Read a few books to enlighten the darkness–“Who moved the stone”, “Miracles” (C.S. Lewis or Ralph McInerny),,, and until you do, there’s no point debating “invincible ignorance” (look up the Wikipedia definition).
September 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Stefano: What is dead stays dead? There have reports of people waking up coffinsâ€”presumably not involving being embalmed. It’s happened that what was declared dead was not. While this does not stay in line with the 3 day resurrection, it would cast doubt on your statement of “what is dead stays dead”, unless you want to explain exactly what you mean by “dead”.
September 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm
Medicine explains resurrection cannot happen, unless something new is discovered
September 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm
Bob, you [& Briggs] need to deal with reality. It’s actually rather straightforward.
Why not read the actual trial transcripts (or at least English translations of them)? This has the elegant advantage of not reproducing distortions of fact, an outright misrepresentations, of others…
The historical record is unquestionable (reference the Papal Condemnation of Galileo, June 22, 1633): The Roman Catholic Church held that, consistent with scripture, “The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.” (that’s a quote of the then Pope’s position, translated into English)
NOW YOU CAN PRETEND & QUIBBLE ABOUT AN “ERROR” AND DOCTRINE vs DOGMA … but nobody’s listening (at least nobody that can’t handle truth).
The Pope, in 1633, referred to it as doctrine.
The Pope, in 1633, along with the Inquisition, acted consistent with your description of “dogma.”
You’re playing semantics relative to words in modern meaning as if that meant something three & a half centuries ago when the Church was writing down its positions & rationale.
However, if “playing semantics” is your game consider: “Dissembling” — to put on a false appearance: conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense. Ponder that.
You’re not fooling anybody, except yourself and those that want to believe a particular answer.
Papal Condemnation of Galileo â€“ Official Church Doctrine is EXPLICITLY presentedâ€”Geocentrism was heretical: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/condemnation.html
Trial transcripts and related documents: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileo.html
1984 the Pope addresses the Churchâ€™s then on-going investigation of its handling of Galileo: http://www.cas.miamioh.edu/~marcumsd/p111/lectures/grehab.htm
Thirteen years after beginning its formal 20th century investigation (and some 360 yrs after the event), Pope John Paul II concedes the Church got it wrong: John Paul said the theologians who condemned Galileo did not recognize the formal distinction between the Bible and its interpretation. â€œThis led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith, a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation.â€ http://www.nytimes.com/1992/11/01/world/vatican-science-panel-told-by-pope-galileo-was-right.html
September 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm
Ok, that was cute. I reloaded twice before I realized what was going on. Messing with my mind. I’m so confused.
September 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm
Ken, your comment seems quite heated and contentious–as Briggs might say, too much coffee this morning? Indeed, I have read the transcripts. Have you the article by George Sim Johnston? http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0005.html )
and my post on this?
When you have we can have a rational discussion.
And, by the way, I don’t take anything in the New York Slime as authoritative about the Church.
And as far as the distinction be doctrine and dogma in the Church, it is not empty or for quibbling. As I commented earlier, you can dismiss, after due searching in conscience, items of doctrine. You can not do so with items of dogma. As a very learned priest told me when I was being catechised prior to being admitted to the Church, and as a scientist has qualms about the Assumption and Transubstantion,
“If it is dogma, you have to believe in the possibility, even if you have doubts.”
I’ll wait until you show some evidence of a less biased and emotional attitude before I continue this discussion.
September 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm
too many typos to correct…sigh.
September 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm
Ken, I forgot to mention…The trial transcripts by themselves are not totally informative. One needs an historical context, which is provided by George Sim Johnston’s article.
September 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm
The fellas at Quodlibeta are good value on the Galileo controversy among other things: http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/search?q=Galileo
There isn’t a moment in which one or more of their posts is not overturning the modern mythos.
September 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm
Briggs, I must admit it was a neat trick to generate so much debate by saying nothing. Very Seinfeld-esque.
September 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm
How ’bout reading Galileo’s recantation– the core of that recantation is the denial of his prior, admittedly heretical, assertion that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe (i.e. that helocentrism was in fact wrong…even though it wasn’t).
Does anybody really need “context” to understand that?
Especially since, in 1992, the Vatican conceded the Inquisition in 1633 was wrong??
Here’s an excerpt of Galileo’s recantation (the full narrative isn’t much longer, about 515 words or so total):
I, Galileo,â€¦ swear thatâ€¦will in the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. But whereas — after an injunction had been judicially intimated to me by this Holy Office, to the effect that I must altogether abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center of the world, and moves, and that I must not hold, defend, or teach in any way whatsoever, verbally or in writing, the said false doctrine, and after it had been notified to me that the said doctrine was contrary to Holy Scripture — I wrote and printed a book in which I discuss this new doctrine already condemned, and adduce arguments of great cogency in its favor, without presenting any solution of these, and for this reason I have been pronounced by the Holy Office to be vehemently suspected of heresy, that is to say, of having held and believed that the Sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves:
â€œTherefore,â€¦ I swear that in the future I will never again say or assert, verbally or in writing, anything that might furnish occasion for a similar suspicion regarding me; but that should I know any heretic, or person suspected of heresy, I will denounce him to this Holy Office, or to the Inquisitor or Ordinary of the place where I may be. â€¦â€
The full recantation is at: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/recantation.html
Back in those days the Church could have found itself within its authority to burn Galileo to death for honing to such then-heresy. That’s context.
Again, resorting to modern apologists that present hundreds upon hundreds of words to try & present what happened as somehow not a flagrant mistake of the Church is, still, dissembling.
BY THE WAY: By “New York Slime” I infer you mean the “New York Times” — nice shift to an ad-hominem diversion there as that’s what that kind of name-calling is.
Since that paper merely presented as short report, one of thousands reported world-wide, I’m left with the conclusion you resorted to the ad-hominem because you could not refute the reported quote attributed to the Pope (which is easily verified, especially with a Lexis-Nexis account).
Here’s a link with the then-Pope’s entire speech on the subject of Galileo:
Why not quote that–the top authority of the Vatican…rather than some apologist??
Here’s what John Paul II said about what happened in the 1630s (see para #9, link above, for the full quote):
“…one of the reasons for Galileo’s condemnation. The majority of theologians did not recognize the formal distinction between Sacred Scripture and its interpretation, and this led them unduly to transpose into the realm of the doctrine of the faith a question which in fact pertained to scientific investigation.”
In plain English, he conceded that the Church/Inquisition wrongly force-fit a literal interpretation onto scientific investigation.
That’s a theme the Pope emphasized coming out of the Galileo Affair of particular relevance here & now (see sections #7 & #8 at the above link for the full quotes of Pope John Paul II (1979):
The need for the Church authorities (and believers) to adjust their views & conclusions in the face of historical facts & scientific findings.
Briggs & Kurland are masquerading as objective when in fact they are working hard at doing precisely the opposite of the Pope’s admonitions on this point. Some relevant excerpts:
“…teaching must correspond to the truth. But it is a question of knowing how to judge a new scientific datum when it seems to contradict the truths of faith.”
“In the last century and at the beginning of our own, advances in the historical sciences made it possible to acquire a new understanding of the Bible and of the biblical world. The rationalist context in which these data were most often presented seemed to make them dangerous to the Christian faith. Certain people, in their concern to defend the faith, thought it necessary to reject firmly-based historical conclusions. That was a hasty and unhappy decision.”
“IT IS A DUTY FOR THEOLOGIANS TO KEEP THEMSELVES REGULARLY INFORMED OF SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES IN ORDER TO EXAMINE IF SUCH BE NECESSARY, WHETHER OR NOT THERE ARE REASONS FOR TAKING THEM INTO ACCOUNT IN THEIR REFLECTION OR FOR INTRODUCING CHANGES IN THEIR TEACHING.”
If there’s one thing that’s been ongoing & blatantly obvious of late on this blog, Briggs has not only not endeavored to keep informed of scientific advances (i.e. credible science) and adjust philosophical views & beliefs accordingly. Instead, he presents a recurring anti-science tendency to go backwards as illustrated by the affinity for medieval thinking of Augustine.
Where he presumes to consider scientific advances he in reality repeatedly has cherry-picked the most inane & obscure & least credible research (or research lacking in both credibility and general, or any real, acceptance), presented that as somehow relevant of serious consideration, and dismissed it accordingly under the contrived concept of “scientism.”
This backwards-looking philosophical affinity for Augustine coupled with cherry-picked obscure research from the lunatic fringe is effective the total opposite of the Pope’s injunction to keep abreast of ” seriously and solidly grounded” [Pope’s words/criteria] developments — rendering much of the content of this blog, in other words, an ongoing charade regarding what it purports to address.
As Pope John Paul II also put it, quoting Augustine:
“…this same wisdom and same respect for the divine Word guided St Augustine when he wrote: “If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets Scripture does not understand it correctly. It is not the meaning of Scripture which is opposed to the truth BUT THE MEANING HE HAS WANTED to give to it.”
You guys need to stop wanting a particular answer and start dealing with the facts & reality as they are; and, as they’re suspected to be (real science is self-correcting over time, so a flawed estimate of some facet of reality is no basis to dismiss everything outright…but is legitimate grounds for acceptance of a given possibility).
Start with First Principles — read & heed what your Church authority is saying, in total & without cherry-picking.
September 8, 2014 at 3:59 pm
Since lying for Jesus is such an established and respected tradition within the Church you will never win any actual argument against it.
September 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm
Mary and Jesus ascended with their bodies to heaven and live there.
Please explain at which point heaven was entered, because this dogma is fully based on a medieval geocentric cosmology, where God physically can descend from his physical seat in heaven, as was witnessed during the Fatima miracle, and dreamed by Jacob.
September 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm
I actually had to refresh the page several times just to see whether the last few comments were serious.
But Hans: Excellent Poe! That’s just what a village atheist would say, imagining Heaven to be a strict present geographical location and God to be something physical, even though this is heavily in conflict with what all great theist thinkers have stated. And who really cares about Augustine, Plotinus and Aquinas when you have a great takedown of pastor Bob? I mean: Something physical is the only thing that would make sense to them, right, even though all arguments go against it? They wouldn’t even understand the concept of analogy. Great parody, man. Keep it up! 🙂
Well, what do I know. I’ll just put on my lying-for-Jesus-badge and return to meeting my sectarian group where we’ll coordinate our upcoming world conspiracy. Who needs arguments when you have emotional assertions?
“Briggs, I must admit it was a neat trick to generate so much debate by saying nothing. Very Seinfeld-esque.”
Great indeed! 🙂
September 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm
Matt: here are two famous Jewish baseball stars that immediately come to mind–
Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, and in basketball Red Auerbach, coach of the Boston Celtics. Here’s a list of minor and major stars among the faithful… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jews_in_sports
Here’s my light reading list–intelligent and well-read atheists.
September 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm
Ken, reading your last comment, I’m not sure we’re all that much in disagreement, or I’m not sure what exactly in my comments it is that offends you. I entirely agree with your quote of St. JP II’s on taking Scripture literally… St. Augustine said much the same thing :
“Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances,… and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, lest the unbeliever see only ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.”(De Genesi ad litteram; the Literal Meaning of Genesis, an unfinished work.)
However, I’m not sure how your criticism of cherry-picking flaws in science pertains to the topic at hand, namely that nothing in science disproves Catholic DOGMA (not doctrine–and the distinction is important and useful, despite what you say). And it is not only theists who pick out problems with materialist biases in science–read what David Chalmers or Thomas Nagel, both non-theists, have to say about physicalist notions of consciousness and mind.
And, finally, I’ll say again it is necessary to consider the historical context of the Galileo affair, the relationship between Galileo and Bellarmine, the politics of a Church trying to initiate a counter-reformation. Queen Christina of Sweden said (and I don’t have the quote exactly)–the Church must be true to have survived so many bad people.
I’d suggest you fire your shots at the Catholic geo-centrists, Sungenis (sp?) and his crew, who do insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible.
September 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm
are you asserting that the idea of geocentrism with the Sun at the center & the Earth orbiting it … was NOT held by the Roman Catholic Church as false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture?
More that it was held contrary to scripture because it was false philosophically. The proofs why it was false had been convincing for 1400 years. Everybody reading and commenting on scriptures had assumed that the science was “settled science” and so statements referring to the stability of the earth as metaphors for other kinds of stability could be safely understood as literal. But as Bellarmino wrote, if there were a demonstration to the contrary, we would have to admit that we had not properly understood these passages as metaphorical-only rather than to insist that something demonstrated was false. But it had to be a demonstration, not simply a hypothesis.
September 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm
at least until now what is dead stays dead
A friend of mine was once dead (from drowning), but is alive and kicking now.
September 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm
Why not read the actual trial transcripts (or at least English translations of them)? This has the elegant advantage of not reproducing distortions of fact, an outright misrepresentations, of othersâ€¦
Or perhaps even the letters of Galileo:
“But my most holy intention, how clearly it would appear if some power would bring to light the slanders, frauds, stratagems, and trickeries that were used eighteen years ago in Rome in order to deceive the authorities! â€¦ You have read my writings, and from them you have certainly understood which was the true and real motive that caused, under the lying mask of religion, this war against meâ€¦”
Letters: Galileo to Peiresc, 22 Feb /16 March 1635, reported in (De Santillana 1955)
A 9-part series on the science involved in the century-long transition from the settled science to a new science begins here:
And an overview of the trial is covered in Part 8:
One can no more “do history” by proof-texting than one can do theology or science in the same way. Things did not always mean what we think they meant, especially in Machiavellian Italy. You must take account for example of the Thirty Years War, anti-Tuscan prejudice, Florentine political ambitions, and so on. Who, for example, sabotaged the plea bargain? Official government documents should not always be taken at face value, since they are often phrased in order to save that face. Consider: no one else was ever admonished over the hypothesis. They were trying to “get” Galileo, not trying to “get” Copernicanism.
Three useful books that cover the affair:
1. De Santillana, Giorgio. The Crime of Galileo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.
2. Rowland, Wade. Galileo’s Mistake. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003.
3. Shea, William R. & Mariano Artigas. Galileo in Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003
Back in those days the Church could have found itself within its authority to burn Galileo to death for honing to such then-heresy.
No, it was not a capital case. There were strict rules. The formal charge was simply disobedience to an injunction.
If you do not like “apologists,” how about commentary from an atheist?
or a comment by another atheist devoted to historical accuracy
The Renaissance Mathematicus is all told an excellent site for Renaissance and Early Modern history of science. (“Mathematicus” was the official title for an astronomer. Astronomy in those days was considered a specialized branch of mathematical science, not a branch of physical science.)
Since lying for Jesus is such an established and respected tradition within the Church you will never win any actual argument against it.
Perhaps you should lie down with a wet washrag over your face until the fever passes.
September 8, 2014 at 11:01 pm
“at least until now what is dead stays dead”
The definition of dead has changed drastically in the last 2000 years. Heck, it has changed drastically in the last 100 years.
If you follow the medical literature, it is fairly clear that resurrection is very possible relative to what was considered “dead” 2000 years ago.
September 9, 2014 at 4:11 am
IV 4 , You got to be kidding, right?
IV 5 Seems to be contradicted by Mary having 4 other children with Joseph which were presumably produced in the usual fashion. (Matt. 12:46; 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19).
XI 1,2,3 should be scientifically testable provided the evidence collection was reliable. Not like this blatant con : http://www.bubblews.com/news/428870-eucharistic-miracle-in-buenos-aires. The church should be agreeable to this shouldn’t it? Objective proof of god’s existence and the daily performance of miracles?
September 9, 2014 at 6:33 am
Where [Briggs] presumes to consider scientific advances he in reality repeatedly has cherry-picked the most inane & obscure & least credible research (or research lacking in both credibility and general, or any real, acceptance), presented that as somehow relevant of serious consideration, and dismissed it accordingly under the contrived concept of â€œscientism.â€
Briggs does take swipes at evolution, human sexuality and climatology, which I deem relevant, important and credible fields of study. The way he does so is by citing weak and/or speculative papers, or simply declaring by fiat that no evidence exists to support them. I have no significant issue with his definition of “scientism”. I do take exception to his portrayal of the entire aforementioned fields of scientific inquiry as “scientism” via his narrowly selections from literature.
Be that as it may, apathy is not an option in my book. One never knows who their words will reach, nor how long it will take for them to be heard. Allowing lies to stand unchallenged is as evil as the lies themselves. Problem is that so very few of us think we’re actually lying … so it must be the other guy. It’s up to any silent, third-party observers to sort out for themselves who is making more sense than not.
Who needs arguments when you have emotional assertions?
Good question, especially since the substance of your rebuttal was directed at the “village atheist” and did not actually address any of Hans’ questions.
However, Iâ€™m not sure how your criticism of cherry-picking flaws in science pertains to the topic at hand, namely that nothing in science disproves Catholic DOGMA (not doctrineâ€“and the distinction is important and useful, despite what you say). And it is not only theists who pick out problems with materialist biases in scienceâ€“read what David Chalmers or Thomas Nagel, both non-theists, have to say about physicalist notions of consciousness and mind.
It’s a big aggravating when someone, in the space of two sentences, questions the relevance of an argument to the topic at hand, and then introduces something else irrelevant to the topic at hand. Or was that your point?
My curiosity is piqued … how are dogma and doctrine materially different, and what is important and useful about the distinction?
A friend of mine was once dead (from drowning), but is alive and kicking now.
A friend of mine died in surgery, and was brought back. The staff were a little … worried … that he knew about this without them having told him anything. He also now emphatically claims there is a God who is nothing like any extant man-made religion on the planet has described.
September 9, 2014 at 6:49 am
But stars do *NOT* look like disks to the naked eye. Unless your eyesight is terrible. And we know that certain people in those days then had excellent eyesight, as they could see upto 14 stars in the Pleiades. You cannot do that if you see them as disks, they will overlap or appear too faint to be seen.
So if lots of people saw disks, because of their bad eyesight, different people would have seen the same star having different sizes. They should have been able to figure that out. I’m nearsighted and without glasses stars look like a disk to me too. But big enough to be measurable with the instruments of those days. If they could measure the position of the planets accurately enough (there’s talk of an error of 9 arc minutes, almost â…“ rd of the apparent diameter if the moon,), they could measure the apparent sizes of the stars too, and figure out that everybody measured a different size, with some people seeing points.
September 9, 2014 at 7:05 am
I seem to recall having to translate an early HOWTO when I was taking Latin about declaring death resulting from crucifixion but I don’t remember the source or why the author even cared. Waiting for the bodies to be eaten was one of the ways.
September 9, 2014 at 7:57 am
Brandon, the additional statement was meant to relate to Ken’s criticism of Briggs “anti-science” stance. It was not relevant to the thread but to the tenor, not the specifics, of his comments. However, I’ll admit the connection is not that obvious and only offer in excuse
â€œWhen you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.â€ A.A. Milne
September 9, 2014 at 8:48 am
This conversation seems to be going around in circles.
I initially brought up geocentrism, but Mr. Briggs claimed that it was never Catholic dogma. I conceded that I was not familiar with the peculiar meaning of this term to Catholics, and Mr. Kurland helped me out by briefly explaining the difference between doctrine and dogma.
But after looking into it some more, it became clear that, aside from certain partial lists of central dogmas, there is no way to definitively decide whether any claim made by the church is actually dogma, just doctrine, or something else. You have to examine what Church Fathers say about the claim in historical context, and how they reacted when it was challenged. There is room for a difference of opinion among reasonable people.
Geocentric cosmology looks very much like Dogma. Cosmology was not just a matter of curiosity to the Church, but intimately bound up with its theology, with its picture of the relationship between man and various supernatural beings. The Galileo affair is largely a distraction, full of confusing politics. But emerging from that affair are some comments by the Fathers, including the Pope at the time, strongly suggestive that geocentrism had the status of a Dogma.
Once something attains the status of Dogma, is is an infallible article of faith and can not change. That is why no modern Catholic can admit, no matter the evidence, that geocentrism was ever considered Dogma. It’s the only way out for them (aside from a lunatic fringe that actually still believes in geocentrism). They KNOW that geocentrism was never Dogma; it can’t have been, because it’s wrong.
That’s why they enjoy talking about the Galileo affair, because it’s widely misunderstood and serves to show that the critics of their church are confused on the details. Which they usually are. But the issue is not what was happening at the time of Galileo. The issue is, was geocentric cosmology a Catholic Dogma in the year 900 AD? If it was, then Mr. Briggs list is incomplete. I think it was, but again, I know it’s useless to talk about evidence, because literally no evidence or argument can convince a Catholic of this, unless they are prepared to stop being a Catholic. It can not be true.
This is not special to Catholics. It’s human nature. It’s hard for scientists to give up beloved world views with which they’ve been raised, too. That’s why major new theories are usually not widely adopted until the current generation dies off and is replaced by a new one that can accept them.
Nevertheless it’s possible to find intelligent Catholics to talk to, even about their faith. But you usually won’t find them talking about the NY “Slime” or implying that all atheists are stupid and ill-read.
September 9, 2014 at 9:24 am
In my opinion, we’re all a bit like Pooh in that our brains are gray fluff which blew in there by accident.
I don’t think Briggs is anti-scientific, but I do observe he isn’t writing scientifically when the topic is religion or climatology. I get frustrated as hell when I or someone else points out a specific objection, and it’s met with stonewalling, diversion, semantics, or doubling down on the derisive snark already present in his original article. So yes, Ken’s comment obviously referred to more than just the topic of this particular post. I don’t think it was beyond the pale for him to have done so, nor was the tenor of his comments any more scathingly acerbic than Briggs himself. I think the rest of his comments were on point and topical to the original post.
Which again brings me to: What’s the material difference between doctrine and dogma, ans why is that important to this discussion?
September 9, 2014 at 9:31 am
No “seems” about it.
But you usually wonâ€™t find them talking about the NY â€œSlimeâ€ or implying that all atheists are stupid and ill-read.
It was more than an implication, and that’s standard fare in these parts.
PS: bonus points for invoking my favorite Planck quote. Once can never over-discuss confirmation bias in religion or science, but especially not when the subject is both at the same time.
September 9, 2014 at 9:50 am
BTW, is there a list of dogma’s sciencists tried to refute using the scientific method?
It’s always nice to be able to boast that you were never defeated by Achilles in a direct running contest, but for that to have any merit, you and and Achilles needed to have run at least once against each other.
September 9, 2014 at 10:13 am
I’ll try one last time.
An item of Dogma such as “There is only one God” can not be approached using the scientific method because it has no empirical content. It would be absurd to boast that science has not refuted this.
An item of Dogma that does make a claim about the empirical world, such as geocentrism, can not really have been Dogma, because it was refuted, and Dogma is eternal and infallible. Understand?
September 9, 2014 at 10:55 am
Lee, I read you 5 by 5.
September 9, 2014 at 11:32 am
I get frustrated as hell when I or someone else points out a specific objection, and itâ€™s met with stonewalling, diversion, semantics, or doubling down on the derisive snark
September 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Lee and Brandon, you have it all wrong on the distinction between doctrine and dogma. Instead of trying to construct your own theology, why not go to the references cited in my comments and learn what the distinction is.
There is the Church Magisterium, the teachings of the Church, which include Dogma (Articles of Faith set forth by Church Councils and/or the Pope “ex cathedra” explicitly introduced as dogma), Doctrine, set forth in Papal letters, etc. , Discipline (teachings about how to practice the faith) .
Example of dogma: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950)…see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary
For other dogmas see
I quote from there:
“Roman Catholic Dogma is thus: ‘a truth revealed by God, which the magisterium of the Church declared as binding.;
 Example of doctrine: The Doctrine of Purgatory (as a waystation to heaven)…see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm#I
There are also doctrines on divorce, homosexuality, almsgiving….
Can either of you cite the SPECIFIC pronouncement of a Pope or of a Church Council that declares geocentrism is an article of faith, i.e. dogma conforming to the above definitions? I don’t think so.
Brandon, with respect to the reference to the “NY SLIME”, I’ll stand by that…and use it again when someone attempts to cite that liberally biased, politically correct journal for commentary on Church doings.
With respect to the reference to light reading “list of intelligent and well-read atheists”, that was possibly over the top–but light reading doesn’t mean no one on the list. I’ll count you, Thomas Nagel, and David Chalmers as some on the one page list. Can’t think of any of the other commentors here to put on.. :> )
September 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Of all the resurrection or ghost stories I’ve ever heard, including those of Jesus, Gandalf, Spock, some real Chinese historical figures and my Grandmaâ€™s sister-in-law, I like Spockâ€™s resurrection the best.
September 9, 2014 at 12:49 pm
JH: Interesting, since the whole project that precipitated said “resurrection” (not sure if it wasn’t more like a reincarnation since he would have had to relearn everything as he grew if it were not for the handy Dr. Mccoy holding onto his memories for him) was named Genesis.
September 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm
In reference to the comment by
Bob Kurland, 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 AT 12:00 PM:
As I explained, modern Catholics have an overriding interest in believing that geocentrism was never dogmatic. Mr. Kurland sets his hopes on the absence of an official pronouncement that geocentrism was an official Dogma. He thinks that since there isnâ€™t one (and I donâ€™t think there is, nor did I ever claim there was) that meets his definition, thatâ€™s the last word.
Itâ€™s not nearly that simple. The formal idea of Dogma entered the Church in the sixth century. This was an attempt to begin to bring order to the Churchâ€™s teachings, to codify an evolving belief system that already existed, that already contained binding articles of faith (Dogmas). There is no reason to believe that the Churchâ€™s subsequent official, explicit, lists of Dogmas cover everything that was understood to be Dogma by the Church and its adherents. The modern criteria for what counts as an official Dogma has not existed from year zero.
A workable definition that avoids projecting modern ideas on to the past might define Dogma to be something like a belief that you canâ€™t reject without being a heretic and getting kicked out of the Church (and maybe burned to death, but thatâ€™s not required). There is considerable evidence that Catholic cosmology, an intimate part of their theology, was such a Dogma. Catholics can and do argue about what should be considered dogmatic. According to Mr. Kurland, they must be confused, because all they need to do is consult a List.
A good example is Purgatory. Mr. Kurland â€œknowsâ€ that its existence is not Dogma, because itâ€™s not on a List. Tell that to Ratzinger, who referred to the â€œpermanent content of the doctrine of purgatoryâ€ in his book Eschatology. He didnâ€™t use the â€œDâ€ word, but a doctrine that is â€œpermanentâ€, that can not be changed, is what many Catholics would call a Dogma, and many Catholics do consider the existence of Purgatory to be such. (Recall that Ratzinger later became one of your Popes.) In the textbook Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott, he explicitly lists Purgatory, and several fun facts about it, as among the Dogmas. This book is used in seminaries to train future Roman Catholic Priests.
September 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm
Geocentric cosmology looks very much like Dogma.
Except no one at the time believed that, including Galileo. If it had been, they would have had to try Galileo for out-and-out heresy, rather than disobedience to an injunction. Remember, Copernicus’ book had been in circulation for some 70 years without raising a theological eyebrow, although it had encountered much ridicule from the physicists, and even the mathematicians gave up on it after a while, since it was no more accurate to its purpose — making calendars and casting horoscopes — than the Ptolemaic model.
Something that is not a heresy ex parte objecti (on the part of the object or “objectively so”) may become a heresy ex parte dicentis (on the part of the speaker) when it is held in such a way as to set the speaker against the Church. That is, it becomes a matter of intention more so than the subject matter. Hence, it was possible for Galileo to speak heretically without the subject matter being heretical. Hence, the focus in the trial on Galileo’s intentions.
After secular scientists began making noises, Copernicus’ book was only withdrawn “pending amendments,” which consisted of inserting the word “if” into various places and marginalia. Galileo dutifully made these amendments in his own copy. Even in 1632, the judge-extensor recommended only similar amendments to Galileo’s Dialogue. If the Pope had not felt himself personally ridiculed in the Conclusion and that Galileo had not hidden from him an injunction he had supposedly been given in 1616, things might have proceeded with a lot less fuss and feathers.
Heck, Maculano, the Commissary General (prosecutor), thought Copernicanism was true and certainly not a matter for trial. A number of cardinals thought the same. But there were Romans on the Curia who wanted to strike a blow against the Tuscans through one of their pet courtiers. That’s likely why the plea bargain was sabotaged. Perhaps also why the Pope did not sign the Summary — one of the most dishonest documents ever written since it did not in fact summarize the contents of the depositions, raised facts not in evidence, etc. For a modern comparison, imagine a very large analysis of scientific papers on, say, climate change — and then a “summary for policy makers” that does not actually reflect the findings of the working groups.
What “geocentrism” was was the “settled science,” or “the consensus,” of the physicists, pretty much unquestioned since the time of Aristotle. So, the Church Fathers relied on the settled science when commenting on various metaphors. Seemed safe enough. Very little was known with the same certainty as the stability of the earth. A comparable situation today would be as if a theologian were to explicate some scripture on the basis of Darwinian evolution. Then people 1400 years from now will laugh at their naivete and claim Darwinian evolution was once Church dogma.
But emerging from that affair are some comments by the Fathers, including the Pope at the time, strongly suggestive that geocentrism had the status of a Dogma.
That’s not how it works. It needs a papal proclamation ex cathedra or a formal conclusion of an ecumenical council. Suggestive comments don’t make it.
The next year for example, Descartes wrote to Mersenne: “As I do not see that this censure has been confirmed either by a Council or by the Pope, but proceeds solely from a committee of cardinals, it still may happen to the Copernican theory as it did to that of the antipodes.” And a few years later, Gassendi remarked that “in the absence of papal ratification, the negation of the Copernican theory is not an article of faith.”
[W]as geocentric cosmology a Catholic Dogma in the year 900 AD? … I think it was, but again, I know itâ€™s useless to talk about evidence, because literally no evidence or argument can convince a Catholic of this…
What “evidence”? What you “think” is not “evidence.”
In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: â€˜I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon.â€™ The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature.
— Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Contra Faustum manichaeum
Moderns often find it difficult to realize that questions of astronomical mathematics did not strike people as the single most important thing in life.
That so many Late Modern atheists are pig-ignorant of history is a complaint one hears from atheist historians, too. Fewer fables; more facts, please.
September 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm
I’ve only got room for twelve internet favourites on my LG ‘smart’ TV and you’ll have to do better than this to stay on it. Aquinas was one strike, this is two.
Obviously, science can’t disprove Catholic ‘dogmas’ because no evidence exists to support them which it could disprove. The evidence in favour of (for example) the resurrection is the eyewitness testimony of a small number of gullible individuals who may not even have existed. The evidence in favour of UFOs, by contrast, is far stronger: thousands of eyewitnesses, photographs, videos and even radar echos. I don’t believe in UFOs.
It is not up to science to disprove religion, it is up to religion to prove itself to be true. It cannot do so.
September 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Lee, you are wrong…
There are many Catholics who take geocentrism as dogma, along with literal interpretation of the Bible–Sungenis and his crew. Fr. Ott may very well have been one of those, but to claim this is what priest are taught is, to say the least, stretching it.
Until you can produce other than speculative, extrapolative stuff, I’ll take you as wrong. Pope Benedict (Ratzinger) referred to permanent doctrine…that is not the same as dogma. I’m talking after having had four years training as an Ecclesial Lay Minister in Church History , Theology, Doctrine and Dogma…
I repeat, you’re wrong, and until you cite the Council or Dogmatic declaration of a Pope that Geocentrism was dogma, i.e. an Article of Faith that a Catholic of the Roman Rite must believe, I’ll take what you have to say with a ton of salt.
September 9, 2014 at 2:57 pm
Lee, a postscript…go and contend with the geocentrists–you and they have the same assumptions:
September 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm
As I explained, modern Catholics have an overriding interest in believing that geocentrism was never dogmatic.
Whether geocentrism was or was not dogma seems to be an question that can be answered, and has been answered, whatever one’s overriding interests, except, it appears, of some new atheists.
For a modern comparison, imagine a very large analysis of scientific papers on, say, climate change â€” and then a â€œsummary for policy makersâ€ that does not actually reflect the findings of the working groups.
September 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm
An item of Dogma such as â€œThere is only one Godâ€ can not be approached using the scientific method because it has no empirical content. It would be absurd to boast that science has not refuted this.
And certainly no less absurd to claim that science has done so. That would be like science proving the existence of an objective universe. You have to assume an objective universe in order to believe you have empirical evidence in the first place. The same is true of such things as the irrationality of pi. No empirical measurement can ever demonstrate this. That’s why physics, mathematics, and metaphysics are three distinct realms.
The following was offered as an example of a Dogma that could be disproven by Science!â„¢
“The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharist.”
But it is hard to see how Science!â„¢ can get any traction on this, since it denies the existence of substances a priori, that is, as an “axiom” not as a “conclusion,” and certainly not as a scientific conclusion. And if a methodology cannot recognize substance, then it certainly cannot recognize whether anything is substantially present or not. Modern science deals only with accidents, not with substances.
The second item “Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and of the whole substance of the wine into His Blood” is technically incorrect. Transformation means the form of a thing is changed to another form, as when the matter of lumber, etc. is transformed into a ship, or the matter in chlorine and sodium is transformed into a salt. The correct term is “transubstantiation,” which brings us back to substances.
The third item offered was “The accidents of bread and wine continue after the change of the substance,” and this can be tested by science. The bread continues to possess the accidents of bread: the consistency, molecular structure, taste, color, weight, and so on do not change. I would be very surprised is science ever proves this wrong.
There was another comment somewhere about Mary having other sons and daughters; but I’m pretty sure the traditions were that Jesus had other brothers and sisters, not that they were Mary’s children. In the Greek tradition, Joseph is supposed to have been an older widower and the brothers and sisters are his by a prior marriage. In the Latin tradition, it is noted that the term translated as ‘brother and sister’ could mean any close relative: incl. step-brother, foster brother, or cousin. In neither tradition is it a matter of Dogma; only that Mary had no other children. This goes back to most ancient times, so it’s not a new thing like the Protestant notion that Mary simply had lots of kids. They made that up in the Early Modern period.
September 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm
I am remiss for having not reading the entire comment thread wherein you and others explained the difference between dogma and doctrine. I came into this discussion knowing there was a difference, just not knowing specifics.
Having read what went before, I have gained a little more insight than I previously had, yet remain puzzled … confused even. It seems to me that both dogma and doctrine as presently defined are limited to spiritual and/or moral matters which would preclude such questions as the structure of the Solar System. I could be (and I have the feeling I probably am) that my reading is too narrow. Whatever the case, it seems that Briggs’ (non)list would be blank by definition, rendering the entire topic moot.
As far as constructing my own theology … I’ll cop to that because I have. It’s real simple; it’s God’s job to construct theology, not any person’s … including myself. What God’s theology is, I haven’t the foggiest clue — I’m not even sure there is a God. I’m far from sure that there is not a God. You might find that the list of intelligent and knowledgeable agnostics is longer than that of atheists … or not — it really depends on the knowledge domain. And it is of course well known that another person’s intelligence is inversely proportional to how much we find them in agreement with ourselves.
September 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm
But it is hard to see how Science!â„¢ can get any traction on this, since it denies the existence of substances a priori, that is, as an â€œaxiomâ€ not as a â€œconclusion,â€ and certainly not as a scientific conclusion.
I’m curious … when you get sick do you ever see a doctor?
September 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm
There IS an active AGW thread going …
September 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm
YOS, Iâ€™m curious â€¦ when you get sick do you ever see a doctor?
Sure. I just don’t ask him to answer metaphysical questions.
September 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm
Brandon: How sick am I? Is there any chance I can self-diagnose and not need a prescription?
YOS: Some of my doctors would enjoy being asked metaphysical questions instead of the pointed ones I usually ask!
September 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm
Mr. Kurland thinks that I’m wrong. I pointed out that a standard Catholic text, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott, disagrees with his description of purgatory as being merely doctrine, not rising to the level of Dogma. His training as lay clergy might not have familiarized him with higher level texts that assume some reading knowledge of Latin. Since Ott disagrees with him, Ott must be some kind of fringe character:
Fr. Ott may very well have been one of those, but to claim this is what priest are taught is, to say the least, stretching it.
I don’t know if he’s actually never heard of this extremely well-known text or is just being disingenuous, but it is referenced all over the place by Catholic types. It is in fact used in seminaries to train priests. (Not as much now as in the decades following 1955 or so, when it came out.) It is not “stretching it.” Take a look at the course descriptions of Holy Apostles College & Seminary, a Catholic Seminary in Connecticut, just for one example. Ott’s book is listed on the recommended reading list for several courses in theology.
Now maybe you can help me out here:
Pope Benedict (Ratzinger) referred to permanent doctrineâ€¦that is not the same as dogma.
How can a Church doctrine, that is not Dogma, be permanent? Isn’t non-Dogma doctrine subject to change? What could “permanent doctrine” mean?
September 9, 2014 at 11:26 pm
It don’t know whether to consider this bizarre or just par for the course, but in the very website that Mr. Kurland sends us to for a look at the Dogmas of the Church, we find Purgatory (http://www.theworkofgod.org/dogmas.htm).
The Dogmas listed there are the same ones listed by Ott.
Remember that in trying to instruct us about the distinction between Dogma are mere doctrine, Mr. Kurland listed Purgatory as an example of the latter, and insisted I was wrong that it was a Dogma.
I’m giving up, now that I see what I’m dealing with. Far from the first Catholic I’ve encountered who’s confused about what his Church teaches.
September 9, 2014 at 11:28 pm
Typo: should be
the distinction between Dogma and mere doctrine
September 10, 2014 at 3:16 am
Attempting to argue that geocentrism is or ever was Catholic dogma displays profound ignorance of what dogma is and how it’s formed.
Simply stated, dogma is an authoritative last word in a doctrinal dispute. Consulting the lists linked above shows that the Church has rather few dogmas, especially considering her 2000 year history. The reason is that dogmatic definitions are extraordinary–and therefore rare–exercises of magisterial authority that only come about when a doctrine is challenged.
The Church has only two methods for defining dogma: formal decrees of ecumenical councils (e.g. the Hypostatic Union) and ex cathedra papal decrees (e.g. the Immaculate Conception). Though admitting of minor variations, the conditions and formulae required in both cases are easily recognizable.
No ecumenical council defined geocentrism as a doctrine to which anathemas were attached.
More significantly, no Pope has dogmatically defined geocentrism via an ex cathedra decree. This process wasn’t fully developed until Vatican Council I, but the Pope’s condemnation of Galileo doesn’t meet the criteria anyway.
We do well to remember that dogmatic definitions are restricted to matters of faith and morals; not questions of physical science. Even if a papal commission ignored this fact, they still had no canonical power to define dogma.
NB: the terms “dogma” and “infallible teaching” are not identical.
September 10, 2014 at 6:13 am
Relevant: “The Myth of Catholic Social Teaching.”
September 10, 2014 at 6:23 am
And this counterpoint to the above:
September 10, 2014 at 6:26 am
Briggs, you sir have achieved “troll” mastery. I mean this as a compliment.
It’s amazing that a post with zero words in its body has created so much debate.
September 10, 2014 at 6:29 am
No, sir. You are wrong. There are several words at the bottom, all of which were missed by everybody.
September 10, 2014 at 7:46 am
What about Hank Greenberg?
September 10, 2014 at 8:48 am
Sure. I just donâ€™t ask him to answer metaphysical questions.
I’ve noted before my personal view that the existential question of God(s) is unanswerable empirically. We may be in rough agreement there. When religions make empirically testable claims which are subsequently falsified, I don’t see any good reason to not stand on science. I view statements like, “That wasn’t Official Doctrineâ„¢,” as cause for intense skepticism. I don’t believe I’m the only one … I can’t think of any mainline Christian religion which doesn’t increasingly avoid taking up doctrinal positions on scientific theories unless there’s a clear moral conflict — i.e. sexuality. Heck, even the Mormons have backed away from their previous hard stance against evolution, and perhaps more significantly, the “principal ancestors” of Native Americans.
How sick am I? Is there any chance I can self-diagnose and not need a prescription?
You’re quite ill … take three of these and call me in the morning. Seriously, in all likelihood you can safely self-diagnose and self-treat without an Rx. I offer even in that, you are the beneficiary of the fact that much medical science is available and comprehensible to the lay public. Surely you know that aspirin and/or acetaminophen and fluids are best for mitigating a fever whereas less than 200 years ago a severe case of influenza or pneumonia likely would have warranted a visit from the local barber for a bloodletting session to remove the “bad humours”.
In some sense, marketing is more to blame for the … ills … of medical misinformation in contemporary society. To wit, you’ll not catch me purchasing antibacterial soaps and detergents. And surely a goodly number of pills and elixirs that have passed FDA muster are no more effective than the patent medicines and other snake oils of the 19th century. One exception may be laudanum … I’d rather take opium or an opioid derivative for acute pain than an ulcer-inducing, liver-damaging high dose NSAIDs.
Which lends further weight to my contention above that any list of dogmas refuted by science would be blank by definition. It should also be clear by the following that our host was having us on.
No, sir. You are wrong. There are several words at the bottom, all of which were missed by everybody.
That’s what makes it a good troll, the art of which is sorely lacking in kids these days. I agree with Will … compliments are in order.
September 10, 2014 at 10:13 am
Far from the first Catholic Iâ€™ve encountered whoâ€™s confused about what his Church teaches.
Or the first non-Catholic, for that matter. Many folks today are accustomed to a sort of socialism, in which debate and heterodox beliefs are incomprehensible and any pronouncement by a Catholic of any sort is taken as authoritative. Though one need only recall that Luther was an ordained priest to realize that this may not be the case. There is a movement called “rad trads” who overemphasize the manner of teaching in their youth. There are even “sedevacantists,” who contend that the Holy See has been vacant ever since Pius XII! Some of them, like the Lefevbrists, even run their own seminaries. A friend of mine claims to be an ordained Catholic priestess because she was ordained by a group that calls itself the Old Catholic Church.
I don’t understand the hoo-hah over Purgatory, since it is indeed something proclaimed by the Council of Florence, and can be found discussed in the English translation of the Catechism here:
Among the Orthodox, there is a general rejection of Purgatory — or at least of a misunderstanding of what the Catholic church teaches about Purgatory. There is actually a mixture of rejection and acceptance, probably because the Eastern Churches never encountered the heretical notions that led Florence to establish the doctrine. The default is that when the Traditions support more than one interpretation, both may be held pending later developments. Sometimes the Church mulls things over for a century or so before calling time on the debate and deciding one way or another.
Dr. Ott’s book is from the 50s and was written in German. The English translation has come under criticism for various errors and obscurities, but it can still be used by people trained in theology. The French version is apparently closer to the German original. Catholics are used to Bad English Translations.
When religions make empirically testable claims which are subsequently falsified, I donâ€™t see any good reason to not stand on science.
Well, except for that falsifiablity shtick and the Late Modern assumption that scientific conclusions are never known with certainty. Recall that the Church got in deep kimchee because they relied on the settled science of geocentrism.
I view statements like, â€œThat wasnâ€™t Official Doctrineâ„¢,â€ as cause for intense skepticism.
You could also view it as a simple statement of fact. Facts are usually well thought of in some quarters. However, atheists and other protestants generally hold to the individual interpretation thingie and find the idea of Official Doctrine one difficult to grasp.
September 10, 2014 at 10:29 am
Matt, if you noticed my earlier comment to the little bit about light reading, I mentioned Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax and Red Auerbach, and gave a web site for famous Jewish athletes.
Brian, thanks for expressing concisely and correctly the difference between doctrine and dogma. Much better than I tried to do.
September 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm
Ye Olde Statisician, 9 sep 2014 2:05 pm wrote:
Geocentric cosmology looks very much like Dogma.
Except no one at the time believed that, including Galileo.”
Except no one at the time believed that, including Galileo.”
But what did Aquinas believe in 1250 AD?
Every author of the Bible used the flat earth cosmology where one can ascend into heaven using a long ladder, or see the extent of the whole earth from a high mountain.
Mat 4:8 “Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”
September 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm
I’m glad to help. Thanks for your thought-provoking guest posts and comments. I take sincere delight in your conversion and your hunger for the fullness of truth.
“…any list of dogmas refuted by science would be blank by definition.”
Amen. Thank you for clearly saying in one sentence what I failed to convey in a page.
Mea culpa for missing the exquisite Airplane! reference.
September 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm
But what did Aquinas believe in 1250 AD?
Yet it is not necessary that the various suppositions which they [the astronomers] hit upon be true â€” for although these suppositions save the appearances, we are nevertheless not obliged to say that these suppositions are true, because perhaps there is some other way men have not yet grasped by which the things which appear as to the stars are saved.
— De coelo, II, lect. 17, #451
Illorum tamen suppositiones quas adinvenerunt, non est necessarium esse veras: licet enim, talibus suppositionibus factis, apparentia salvarentur, non tamen oportet dicere has suppositiones esse veras; quia forte secundum aliquem alium modum, nondum ab hominibus comprehensum, apparentia circa stellas salvantur.
“the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them.”
— Summa theologica, I, q.32, a.1, reply ad. 2
sicut in astrologia ponitur ratio excentricorum et epicyclorum ex hoc quod, hac positione facta, possunt salvari apparentia sensibilia circa motus caelestes, non tamen ratio haec est sufficienter probans, quia etiam forte alia positione facta salvari possent.
Note that in neither case is the matter treated as doctrinal. The first is from his lectures on Aristotle’s On the heavens and the latter brings it up only to serve as an example of distinguishing sufficient reason from supporting evidence.
Hope this helps.
September 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm
Thanks. Here’s another from The Pontifical Academy of Sciences:
Statement of the Workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, at http://www.pas.va/content/accademia/en/events/2014/sustainable/statement.html
September 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Well, except for that falsifiablity shtick and the Late Modern assumption that scientific conclusions are never known with certainty. Recall that the Church got in deep kimchee because they relied on the settled science of geocentrism.
It’s hard to imagine a Late Modern astronomer calling heliocentrism anything but settled. It’s not hard to imagine a Late Modern thinker falsifying God’s existence for lack of sufficient evidence. Not being encumbered by any particular school of thought but my own, I consider it silly to question the structure of the Solar System as currently described — and beyond hubris to assume our feeble powers of perception can definitively speak to the (non)existence of God by appeals to empirical investigation.
Poking holes in, say, the literal interpretation of Noah’s flood … different matter entirely. My doubts about the God of Abraham are completely separate from the question of what God(s) might actually exist.
… atheists and other protestants generally hold to the individual interpretation thingie and find the idea of Official Doctrine one difficult to grasp.
Or you could be suffering from the same malaise of misunderstanding you so often complain about in others when they question or critique Catholicism. It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to grasp that atheism has no centrally-defined creed, that protestant sects are varied and numerous, and that what you see as difficulty understanding may actually be outright rejection of the concept.
This agnostic conceptually understands Official Doctrine just fine. I also understand that it’s not immutable in practice, and therefore also never settled. From my perspective, science doesn’t look so shabby by comparison.
Thank you for clearly saying in one sentence what I failed to convey in a page.
You’re welcome, but I cannot take much credit. My comment would not have stood on its own without background given by you and others.
September 10, 2014 at 11:50 pm
“Modern science deals only with accidents, not with substances.
September 11, 2014 at 8:56 am
atheism has no centrally-defined creed, that protestant sects are varied and numerous
By this token, atheism has even more sects than their fundamentalist brethren, since every individual is a law unto himself. In fact, there are two main schools, as John Adams once wrote: 1) the determinist atheist holds that everything is mechanical and a predetermined working out of the inexorable laws of physics; 2) the quantum atheist holds that everything is chance and a random collision of atoms and/or genes. Most atheists one assumes are “cafeteria atheists,” going one way or the other as the situation warrants. When free will is on the table, they go with determinism; when first cause is on the table they go with chance.
September 11, 2014 at 10:04 am
Itâ€™s hard to imagine a Late Modern astronomer calling heliocentrism anything but settled.
But the analogy here would be to the Standard Model nowadays.
Jim : S
â€œModern science deals only with accidents, not with substances.
Why the Lulz? The statement is true. If you think it isn’t you could of course just present your criticisms.
September 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm
By this token, atheism has even more sects than their fundamentalist brethren, since every individual is a law unto himself.
My view exactly.
Most atheists one assumes are â€œcafeteria atheists,â€ going one way or the other as the situation warrants.
Not unlike … well … most everyone, atheist or not. The world is a rather large cafeteria. Even in large top-down religions I’ve noticed variations from locale to locale and even individually within a particular congregation. I can only recall two Christians who stood by every verse of the Bible I brought into the discussion as something I considered problematic. One was an evangelical, the other was a Calvinist. Both absolutely insisted that we are saved by grace alone, but the Calvinist fellow obviously argued that his salvation was predestined while the evangelical woman claimed her salvation was her personal choice.
Both similar but rather significantly different beliefs based on the same underlying text, albeit likely different English translations. Individualism is tough to suppress entirely, which I consider a Good Thing.
When free will is on the table, they go with determinism; when first cause is on the table they go with chance.
That’s one school of thought out of many, as you rightfully note above. I personally think it’s a rather silly view of how the universe works. I’ll double-down on that and say that I know many atheists who are just as dogmatic about their own (dis)beliefs as some devoutly religious folk.
September 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm
Even in large top-down religions Iâ€™ve noticed variations from locale to locale and even individually within a particular congregation.
That’s why it’s useful to have a “standards and calibration” department. In the Orthodox and Catholic churches it doesn’t matter what idiosyncrasies individuals manage to come up with.
I can only recall two Christians who stood by every verse of the Bible
That’s why the Orthodox and Catholic churches don’t get their faith from the Bible, but from the Traditions as applied to the Bible. (The Orthodox do not usually even bother putting all the scriptures together into a single book.) You have discovered that idiosyncratic individuals reading the Bible on their own are actually reading their own beliefs into it. Congratulations.
September 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm
The inadequacies of the Standard Model are amply described in literature, which explains the active development of various Grand Unified Theories, as well as the Holy Grail of physics: the Theory of Everything.
The Big Bang is certainly controversial, though it’s worth noting Georges LemaÃ®tre was a Jesuit priest. Abiogenesis and evolution almost go without saying, yet again it’s worth noting that there are no official pronouncements by universal magisterial authority against any of these. Quite the opposite, really.
What isn’t settled are the details of how … or an even more potentially contentious word: why.
September 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm
In the Orthodox and Catholic churches it doesnâ€™t matter what idiosyncrasies individuals manage to come up with.
An organizational expedience more than anything, in my view. It surely matters to individuals, and many have been known to leave when their personal views are met with ill-favor. Even the mainline Protestant churches find themselves struggling to maintain membership in the US due to the competing draw of more local and independent churches.
You have discovered that idiosyncratic individuals reading the Bible on their own are actually reading their own beliefs into it.
What need for a standards and calibration department if individuals are not idiosyncratic, fully capable of forming their own beliefs? Is not Quaestiones Disputatae a long-running and rich tradition among Catholic theologians?
September 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm
many [individuals] have been known to leave when their personal views are met with ill-favor.
Yes, they are called “protestants.” But that does not change what the Church teaches.
What need for a standards and calibration department if individuals are not idiosyncratic
fully capable of forming their own beliefs?
As capable as most operators of calibrating their own instruments? But the Church does not consist of individuals “forming their own beliefs.” That’s the whole point, hard as it is for Late Moderns to grasp.
Is not Quaestiones Disputatae a long-running and rich tradition among Catholic theologians?
Absolutely. The tradition of “academic freedom” derives from it. The entire Summa theologica is a series of such questions, with the best arguments for and against each.
September 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm
David Stove, Briggs, and others have done a good enough job of showing the limitations of Popper’s epistemology, but isn’t it interesting that Christianity was and is the only religious tradition with an explicitly and empirically falsifiable claim?
And by that I mean the central tenet of Xtianity: Jesus rose from the dead. If his bones were discovered in the first century or two after his death, that would be the end of it.
September 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Yes, they are called â€œprotestants.â€
Or sedevacantists as the case may be.
But that does not change what the Church teaches.
It clearly helps to have a vote on the proceedings of an ecumenical council, especially if one belongs to a large minority of dissenters.
As capable as most operators of calibrating their own instruments?
Setting aside the issue that humans are not precision instruments, there is a difference between not being able to calibrate an instrument having not taken the time to learn how, and not being capable of learning how even after having taken the time. Additionally, who calibrates the calibrators? History suggests that not all tuning forks are created equal.
Thatâ€™s the whole point, hard as it is for Late Moderns to grasp.
The Late Moderns are not a monolithic bunch, and I wouldn’t presume to speak for them on this point even if they were. As for myself, I don’t believe my skepticism has anything whatsoever to do with lack of grasping the concept.
The entire Summa theologica is a series of such questions, with the best arguments for and against each.
Popular myth holds that a good way to get one’s knuckles rapped is to ask too many questions not found within the commentary. Not all perceived differences between mere student and credentialed academic are defensible. But then again I’m not a big fan of orthodoxy for the sake of continuity and tradition. And most especially not for appeasing authority.
September 12, 2014 at 3:15 am
If geocentrism was a dogma (but even a simple doctrine), nor Bellarmine (see his letter to Foscarini in 1625), nor Urban VIII (in his meetings with Galileo in 1624) would have never allowed to treat the Copernican theory as a hypothesis!
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