Science Asks: Why Are Angry Atheists Annoying?

The Temple of Reason (the guillotines are just offstage).
The Temple of Reason (the guillotines are just offstage).

What’s more annoying than an atheist who harangues passersby about “rationality”? Easy answer: a scientist who announces a discovery about human behavior that was known by everybody since Adam.

Our tip comes from New York magazine, in its “Finally, a Psychological Explanation for Why Angry Athiests [sic] Are So Annoying“.

For some (loud, argumentative) people, science isn’t just a collective endeavor to understand the world. It’s a moral system: To be unscientific is to be unethical, and they’ll be happy to tell you all about at the next housewarming party.

As that brand of atheistic evangelism exhibits, rationality taken to an extreme itself turns into ideology.

They’re talking about the peer-reviewed paper “Moralized Rationality: Relying on Logic and Evidence in the Formation and Evaluation of Belief Can Be Seen as a Moral Issue” by Tomas Stôhl, Maarten P. Zaal, and Linda J. Skitka in PLOS One.

The authors invent the term “moralized rationality” (MR) to describe those folks who prate on about their deep love of “evidence” and such forth. Incidentally, for moralized rationalizers, only that which can be observed counts as evidence, which of course leaves out all mathematics, logic, metaphysics, and, worst of all, the rules of rational argument; a most irrational position.

As is usual, the authors gathered some folks on the Internet and asked them a series of questions to which they assigned arbitrary numbers, submitted those numbers to classical statistics routines, and discovered wee p-values.

[Participants] were presented with a hypothetical scenario: a doctor (Richard) was presented with a devoutly Christian patient (Mary) with diffuse symptoms. In both narratives, Richard told Mary to pray for her health. In one version the doctor did so in order to harness a placebo effect; in the other, he did so because he thought that God answers prayers. The higher people scored on MR, the more upset they said they were about the prayer prescription and the more they wanted Richard punished.

We did not need an “experiment” to tell us that angry atheists are angry at people who recommend prayer. Interestingly, the observational effects of prayer have been striking throughout history. When confronted by this evidence (which they agree is evidence) moralized rationalizers typically extend alternate hypotheses which might explain the observations. That any cause beside God might exist is then used to dismiss the idea God answered the prayers. Yet since for any set of contingent observations endless theories of what might have caused the observations exist, this procedure used by moralized rationalizers can be used to dismiss any causal claim. And that isn’t very rational.

There is nothing in this paper that is interesting. Here’s the opening two sentences.

Human history is replete with examples of new scientific ideas and observations creating tension with normative beliefs of the day. Despite being backed up by strong evidence, defenders of heliocentrism, the theory of evolution by natural selection, as well as the current scientific consensus that human activity causes global warming have all faced ferocious resistance against their ideas.

To which we can say, the myths of scientism are strong in these authors. Here’s the beginning of the paper’s end:

[S]ome people view it as a moral virtue to rely on reason and evidence when forming and evaluating beliefs…Moralized rationality is not only related to the rejection of traditional beliefs that are not backed up by logic and evidence, but also leads to intolerance of those who endorse such beliefs…

Somehow it slipped the attention of the authors that some theists view it as a moral virtue to rely on reason and evidence when forming and evaluating beliefs. Or did the authors want to imply that “reason and evidence” only lead to atheism? That’s not a very rational position to take.

Lastly, “Because moralized rationality centers on the appropriate processes of evaluating beliefs, rather than on their specific contents, it may also be a safeguard against motivated reasoning biases.”

Farmers could fertilize their fields with that one—although what would sprout up wouldn’t be edible.

Contrary to what the authors say, atheists who feel obliged to proselytize (“solemn nonsense” and “grave sin” says Pope Francis) are more like a cartoon (with a varying punchline) you might have seen. One gentleman is standing at the leftmost of a line of urinals; the others are empty. Entering stage right is another fellow. He eschews all empty slots except for the one next to our hero. The new fellow arrives, pauses for a blank panel, then says, “I’m an atheist.”

(I’ve also seen “I’m a vegan” and “Bernie Sanders supporter.”)

84 Comments

  1. an annoying atheist who harangues passersby about “rationality”

    Equally annoying are proselytizing non-atheist missionaries.
    Both exhibit the smugness of “being in the right” implying their targets sadly are not.

  2. Interestingly, the observational effects of prayer have been striking throughout history. When confronted by this evidence (which they agree is evidence) moralized rationalizers typically extend alternate hypotheses which might explain the observations. That any cause beside God might exist is then used to dismiss the idea God answered the prayers.

    Hmmm… observational effects of prayers? What are they? If atheists don’t believe in God, is it irrational to consider non-God related causes? Well, what do I know? I do know that I really don’t know what human behavior was known by everyone since Adam. And I am pretty bad at guessing and assuming what other people don’t know.

  3. Oh… all angry people are annoying. And people who always think others don’t know anything are annoying. And I would be really annoying if I keep writing why some people are annoying… because it is annoying to keep trashing others, which is a sign of misery.

  4. The word “evidence” is indeed normally reserved for that which can be observed. Arguments are arguments; they are not evidence. When St. Anselm comes up with a clever proof for the existence of god, this is not evidence for anything except that St. Anselm is a clever dude. The reason we don’t call arguments “evidence” is that an argument, or deduction, is a demonstration that certain definitions and axioms lead to a particular conclusion. If the conclusion is “God exists”, that just means that “God exists” was implicit in the assumptions and definitions. Going through the deduction does not tell us anything new about the world that was not contained in the axioms; so it is not evidence of anything.

  5. “Has any atheist proved that God *doesn’t* exist?”

    An omnipotent and benevolent God would not have created a universe wherein such dunderheaded questions could exist. Therefore, there is no God. *QED*.

  6. DAV —

    At least “proselytizing non-atheist missionaries” believe they have something to offer beyond, “Aren’t I more cleaver than you?”

    I tend not to debate ardent atheist because, regardless of their intellectual abilities, they end up dropping their love of reason and going to the Spaghetti Monster faster than an Internet discussion devolves into Godwin’s Law.

    At its core, atheism is not reason. It is the negation of God, nothing else. And reason or Spaghetti Monsters suffice as an argument.

    As I have written before, even Marx got it right:

    “Atheism, as the denial of this unreality, has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God, and postulates the existence of man through this negation; but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation.”

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm

  7. ERROR: Comments have been temporarily disabled to prevent spam. Please try again later.

    But only when using Firefox. Let’s try IE.

  8. Prayer will never grow a limb back on an amputee but sometimes cures cancer, duh.
    Christians, your people used to hunt witches while arresting Galileo for stating a scientific fact. The latest greatest thing that came out of the church was… nothing, except pedophilia. If you possessed critical thinking skills you could, without difficulty, understand the illogical fallacy “prayer” is.
    -The Angry Atheist

  9. “If the conclusion is “God exists”, that just means that “God exists” was implicit in the assumptions and definitions.”

    So every successful argument commits the fallacy of circularity.

    Well, at least we will be spared an argument for this particular idiotic thesis.

  10. LOL! “Angry” is a popular epithet of the day. Just slap it behind whatever you like, and bango! It’s just irrational frothing and wailing, regardless of any actual amount of anger. Conservative racists used it on Michelle Obama. It had the effect of making them look like conservative racists.

    It’s sleazy and dumb. But hey, in the Age of Trump, what higher level of discourse could we possibly expect?

    JMJ

  11. @Lee Phillips:

    “No, it’s not circularity, per se. But every correct deduction is, formally, a tautology.”

    First, a tautology is a sentence that is true in virtue of its logical form. Since deductions are not sentences, deductions cannot be tautologies. So what you are saying does not even make sense, unless you are using “tautology” in a novel, entirely private sense. Second, being “formally a tautology” is formally irrelevant for what you actually wrote and for what arguments actually do, which is to establish their conclusions.

  12. “Since deductions are not sentences”

    It’s common in formal logic (especially with applications to proof-checking systems) to express deductions as sentences (“proof-sentences”). When the deductions are valid (express theorems) then the proof-sentences are tautologies. See https://projecteuclid.org/download/pdf_1/euclid.nmj/1118801540 for one example. I don’t think I’m saying anything that any student of logic doesn’t already understand. The point is to remind the reader that a proof is powerless to add new information to the world, but simply shows us what conclusions are already contained in the axioms and definitions; that’s why we don’t normally call deductions “evidence”. Nothing new or controversial here, just a reminder, since Briggs seems confused on this point.

  13. Good heavens; there’s a name I haven’t seen in a long time. I wonder how many “Lee Phillips” there are? I had some enjoyable atheist arguments over 20 years ago with a Lee Phillips, feminist from DC metro area.

    (S)he writes: “The word evidence is indeed normally reserved for that which can be observed.”

    Indeed; though there be only one observer, yet it is observed. I have observed things that you will not and cannot; for those things were ephemeral.

    “Arguments are arguments; they are not evidence.”

    Everything that exists is evidence. An argument is evidence that someone believes something and/or wishes you to believe it.

    “If the conclusion is God exists, that just means that God exists was implicit in the assumptions and definitions.”

    That is correct if for no other reason than the definition of God can be made to fit observations. God is the maker-of-light; is there light? There is! Thus, God the maker-of-light is confirmed or at least not disconfirmed.

    “Going through the deduction does not tell us anything new about the world that was not contained in the axioms; so it is not evidence of anything.”

    Everything that exists is evidence. Since any observation probably invokes many causes, deciding whether any of those causes is to be called “God” is a mostly personal decision.

    Lee Phillips invokes the No True Scotsman fallacy: “An omnipotent and benevolent God would not have created a universe wherein such dunderheaded questions could exist.”

    Or perhaps it is just a straw-god argument; you define your god, observe that no such thing exists, and pronounce yourself correct. If an omnipotent and benevolent God wished to create a universe where dunderhead questions exist, then dunderhead questions will exist. Why will they exist? Because someone wishes it, and a benevolent God allowed some of his creation to ask dunderhead questions. Why would he do that? To separate the dunderheads. Why do dunderheads exist? Because God wishes it. He wished light into existence to create contrast with dark. Without light there was only dark, but dark had no meaning.

    Then again, perhaps God is not as benevolent as you imagine.

  14. I’m a he, not a she, so probably not the Lee Phillips you have in mind. There are too many of them for my convenience, but not too many to keep me off the 1st page of Google.

  15. Lee Phillips writes “But every correct deduction is, formally, a tautology.”

    While I tend to agree, it is not clear to me why this topic has become about deductions.

    A god-seeker not gifted with revelation will proceed using induction, not deduction. That works backwards from what is observed (the evidence) to an unseen and probably no-longer existing cause. As many causes can exist, induction is not usually precise neither is it proof.

  16. ” it is not clear to me why this topic has become about deductions.”

    Because Briggs says,

    “Incidentally, for moralized rationalizers, only that which can be observed counts as evidence, which of course leaves out all mathematics, logic, metaphysics, and, worst of all, the rules of rational argument; a most irrational position.”

    So I was trying to explain the difference between evidence and deduction (mathematics, logic, …).

  17. This was previously rejected as spam. There are many reasons to suppose that “reason” is not an exclusive path to truth, as expressed best by Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical “Fides et Ratio”:

    Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.
    I’ve commented on this (and, peripherally, praising comments of YOS and C. Rodrigues) in a post on my blog reviewing a fine book by Ben Butera, “Faith with Good Reason”. (I’ll not give the URL since that was probably the reason this comment was previously rejected as spam; WordPress has learned to reject shameless self-promotion.)
    To my knowledge only two prominent atheists have been converted to belief by rational processes: C.S. Lewis and Anthony Flew. I’ll also include one agnostic (myself) in that “top-down” process.

  18. Ahhh…I’ve not yet learned to do the blockquote thingy…here’s the missing quote:
    “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

  19. @Lee Philips:

    “It’s common in formal logic (especially with applications to proof-checking systems) to express deductions as sentences (“proof-sentences”).”

    That from a language L and a proof theory you can concoct a second language L’ and a set of axioms such that valid deductions from premise to conclusion in L are tautologies in L’ is itself a theorem of mathematical logic. That does not make of proofs tautologies in any interesting non-vacuous sense.

    “The point is to remind the reader that a proof is powerless to add new information to the world, but simply shows us what conclusions are already contained in the axioms and definitions; that’s why we don’t normally call deductions “evidence”.”

    Proving something hitherto unknown satisfies my definition of adding to the stock of knowledge; apparently it does not in your view, so that Fermat’s Theorem, Poincare’s conjecture, Noether’s theorem on conserved quatities, the Bell inequalities, the uncertainty principle, etc. do not count as adding “new information to the world”. Who would a thunk it? And since even falsification of a physical theory relies on testing its logical entailments…

    And while “evidence” is usually reserved for the premises featuring in arguments, it is common to also call arguments “evidence”. One of the reasons why that is done is because even though arguments are deductive (sticking to metaphysical arguments here, like arguments for the existence of God), they may not be demonstrative, so while the arguments may be good their conclusions may be overriden by other considerations. They are still evidence in the sense of making the conclusion more probable (if taken in isolation).

    “Nothing new or controversial here, just a reminder, since Briggs seems confused on this point.”

    Briggs is not confused; your point, clarified, is indeed not new or controversial. Yes, conclusions follow necessarily from their premises in a deductive argument, and so they are only “as true as the premises”. Nothing substantial follows from stating the obvious.

  20. Of course theorems add to our knowledge; I never said otherwise. You’re confusing information with knowledge; the theorem does not contain information not present in the axioms and definitions; for that reason, deductions do not supply evidence about the world. A theorem only tells us something about the logical system in which it is a theorem.

  21. Briggs’ narrative is unclear — he seems to be critiquing the authors of the NY Times article, and not the authors of the paper that is the actual focus (though some quotes from the paper itself appear).

    Mentions of “angry atheist” do NOT appear in the actual paper, except in the title of footnoted references.

    The authors of the paper (the actual paper, not the NY Times newspaper) center their study on the following:

    QUOTE: “…the motives fueling advocates of science may be moral in nature as well. More specifically, these results suggest that they may be motivated by their conviction that it is morally wrong to rely on beliefs that are not backed up by logic and evidence.”

    The authors of the study paper (not newspaper) go on to this tentative conclusion, which they are studying further:

    QUOTE: “It is therefore possible that individuals who moralize rationality are less susceptible to motivated reasoning biases.”

    And which general group is more susceptible to “motivated reasoning biases”, those that require objective evidence, or, those that accept something else?

    **********
    Briggs mentions prayer as having evidence for healing. Objective analyses are mixed; consider: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802370/

    Is anybody at all curious as to why prayer would have any influence on a supreme being?

    Lee Iaccoca (former CEO of Chrysler) has described managing as sometimes being like a little kid walking a very big dog, sometimes you have to figure out where the dog is going to go and then try and stay out in front. Machiavelli (author of, The Prince) conveys a similar thing — sometimes a leader must do things to keep the masses, or his soldiers, satisfied and thus prevent an insurrection against their power/position/life. Modern politicians do this routinely, pandering to whatever interest group that has influence on their destiny as a necessity for holding their political office.

    Most modern Christian religions hold as a given that God responds to prayer; Catholics can, in a sense, “hire” professional “lobbyists” by praying for the intercession of a saint(s). Indulgences, got for a cash fee, have fallen out of fashion but were in vogue for a time…

    Doesn’t it seem odd that an everlasting all-powerful/almighty supreme deity IS manipulated by prayer…
    …. which isn’t all that different from one’s kid, or kids teaming up, begging to stay up late to watch a scary TV show one easily refuses?

    Or, is it odd that we simply accept that our almighty supreme deity is so susceptible to us & our nearly effortless self-serving pestering?

  22. Lee Phillips writes “So I was trying to explain the difference between evidence and deduction”

    Implying that anyone here needs to know and that you are the knower thereof.

    To me the difference is like bricks and bricklaying; bricks are objects, bricklaying is a process that uses those objects. Evidence of the objective kind are objects, deduction is a process.

  23. Equally annoying are proselytizing non-atheist missionaries.

    Not if they actually are missionaries. Then it’s truth in advertising. If atheists came into a village, set up clinics, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and also preached the good news that the villagers would some day pass into oblivion, then all would be okay. But not when they are like the enthusiast who, attending the wake for my mother’s funeral, insisted on haranguing me with his proselytizing for H.Ross Perot.

    The word “evidence” is indeed normally reserved for that which can be observed.

    Then there is testimony by the witnesses, also.

    Not many people appreciate the difference between mathematics and natural science as you do here. (Which is why many people confuse advances in mathematical calculations of stellar positions — astronomy — with advances in science.) Euclidean geometry was one of the most successful sciences in history, though not a natural science. Yet, people who do not believe in spirits will believe in mathematical entities at the drop of a functor.

    OTOH, the word “evidence” is broader than “empirical evidence.” This is what Nicholas of Autrecourt called evidentia naturalis (“natural evidence”) which, like Karl Popper, he regarded as less certain because it might be overturned by some new evidence. Valid reasoning from positively-known axioms, however, leads to certain conclusions, so this sort of evidence he called evidentia potissima (“most-powerful evidence”) since the conclusions were certain. That’s why the Pythagorean Theorem for plane right triangles is known with unquestioned certainty while phlogiston or superstrings or dark matter is not.

    If the conclusion is “God exists”, that just means that “God exists” was implicit in the assumptions and definitions.

    i.e., that God exists is known with the sort of certainty possessed by the Pythagorean Theorem? I don’t think you meant to say that.

    In one well-known argument for the existence of God, the starting assumption is that “in the world, we observe some things are in motion.” The definition of “motion” [kinesis] is “the actualization of a potential,” and matters proceed from there. You are welcome to point out where God lurks in those items.

  24. And which general group is more susceptible to “motivated reasoning biases”, those that require objective evidence, or, those that accept something else?

    Pretty much everyone. It is a common curse of mankind. A fact in itself is never self-demonstrating. Its meaning is always filtered through pre-existing theories, i.e., “beliefs.” Duhem once cited an experiment involving pressure whose result was interpreted by one physicist, who accepted the ideas of Laplace, as confirming the hypothesis, but was interpreted by another, who accepted the ideas of Lagrange and Poincare, as falsifying the hypothesis. Similarly, a rock strata rich in iridium is evidence of a primordial asteroid impact blanketing the world with its ejecta, or it is evidence of the sustained eruption of the Deccan Traps blanketing the world with its volcanic ejecta. And so it goes. If you have a commitment to a hammer, all the evidence looks like nails. In worst cases, you might force dissenting scientists off committees, or even ask friendly politicians to “investigate” them, or send letters to their deans. It may depend on how much funding is available more so than on the evidence.

  25. (Not sure if this is going to work; my attempt to post apparently crashed IE so this is my copy)

    Ken writes “The authors of the study paper (not newspaper) go on to this tentative conclusion, which they are studying further: QUOTE: It is therefore possible that individuals who moralize rationality are less susceptible to motivated reasoning biases.” Particularly if that same group defines the meanings of those words and further judges this to be a Bad Thing. But I interpret Briggs writing to the effect that “moralizing rationality” is somewhat of any oxymoron; you don’t use these two words together. Moral is one thing (emotions), rationality is computational. “And which general group is more susceptible to motivated reasoning biases, those that require objective evidence, or, those that accept something else?” Fallacy of the false alternatives. I do not require objective evidence to accept the existence of Beijing and neither do you. “Briggs mentions prayer as having evidence for healing.” It is so for me as well. “Objective analyses are mixed” Evidently not so objective, or more precisely, not deterministic. “Is anybody at all curious as to why prayer would have any influence on a supreme being?” Yes. “Most modern Christian religions hold as a given that God responds to prayer” It is unclear whether you assume that this is a compelled, deterministic response; or whether *sometimes* he responds, and if so, in what manners. “Doesn’t it seem odd that an everlasting all-powerful/almighty supreme deity IS manipulated by prayer” Yes, it does not seem odd either way. You can provide your god with whatever properties you wish, and then argue it. I can do that too but I doubt it would penetrate your “motivated reasoning biases.” “Or, is it odd that we simply accept that our almighty supreme deity is so susceptible to us & our nearly effortless self-serving pestering?” There is no “we”. You accept whatever you accept for reasons known only to you; I accept whatever I accept for reasons known only to me. Should it happen that you come down off your high horse and ask for some readers’ beliefs and their reasons, motivated or otherwise, you might get some answers rather than just more questions.

  26. There is an assumption that evidence must be transferable, that the evidence experienced by one person is invalid as evidence if it is not able to be communicated or transferred intact to another. I don’t agree with that assumption. If you are incapable of perceiving or understanding or appreciating the evidence for something I have perceived or understood or experienced, that says nothing of worth about the evidence itself.

  27. “Implying that anyone here needs to know”

    Here we are clearly dealing with a matter of abundant evidence, rather than implications.

    I note with amusement that the Pythagorean theorem, while true within Euclidean geometry, is a false statement about physical space – something that we’ve known for almost exactly 100 years.

  28. the Pythagorean theorem … is a false statement about physical space

    But the Pythagorean theorem is not a statement about physical space. It is a statement about plane right triangles. To what extent mathematics can be used to model or approximate physics is a separate question. (Unless the question is the extent to which physics approximates the mathematical ideals.)

  29. My daughter #2 questioned me in 2nd grade why people prayed. I asked why such question. She just wondered why some adults pretended that prayers work. I told her to call Grandma to find out.

    (Her school started and ended with prayers. I enjoyed hearing about those prayers because the prayers showed so much the innocence of young children and were the most reliable information source of those children’s family events.)

    Is it rational believing in the power of prayers? Briggs apparently thinks so.
    Anyway, it goes without saying that I am the most rational, objective people in the world.

    YOS,

    Yet, people who do not believe in spirits will believe in mathematical entities at the drop of a functor.

    What does it mean to say “believe in mathematical entities”?

  30. Gary in Erko wrote “There is an assumption that evidence must be transferable, that the evidence experienced by one person is invalid as evidence if it is not able to be communicated or transferred intact to another.”

    That kind is called physical evidence such as you have in a courtroom. It generally is not proof of something; it is evidence of something and to go from evidence to proof to belief are processes.

    “that says nothing of worth about the evidence itself.”

    Agreed; but perhaps because evidence has no worth of itself. It obtains worth in the perception of a beholder.

  31. Lee Phillips writes “something that we’ve known for almost exactly 100 years.”

    And still at the computer! You age remarkably well.

  32. Michael2, the point is, it’s well recorded that billions of people of almost all cultures across the world, running back for at least a few thousand years, have encountered evidence of a (or the) deity, and that evidence is not of a type that’s transferable to others. The anger of atheists is possibly due to their intuitive suspicion that they’re missing out on something.

  33. YOS,
    “I’ve always heard it said: “God answers all prayer. Sometimes the answer is No.””

    There’s the rub. “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

  34. Here we have our usual gaggle of angry atheists trying to impose their irrational ideology with nothing but a flood of scoffing and scorn.

    While it may not be technically possible to prove the existence of God (certainly not the straw man god they set up to ridicule) it is certainly possible to prove from evidence and logic the absolute necessity of an uncaused First Cause.

    The irrefutable evidence from observation: Things exist!

    The secure and certain premise: A thing that does not exist cannot cause itself to exist. That is secure and certain because the only alternative to the proposition is its contrary, and which contrary is self-contradictory and thus absurd.

    The reality we observe is constantly changing (or, at least, is changeable) (“movement” from potential). A changeable “thing” cannot be eternal because any change means that a “thing is not what (or where) it was or will be. And because a thing that does not exist cannot cause itself any change must have an anterior cause for the change.

    Any contingent existence must have a cause (e.g. light must have a source) so all contingent “things” must have an anterior cause all the way back to an uncaused First Cause.

    The corollary to “a thing that doesn’t exist cannot cause itself” is that an effect cannot be greater than its cause(s). Therefore, an infinite regression of causes would inevitably lead back to an infinite Cause. An infinite Cause would have no need of an infinite succession of causes to “arrive” at nowhere, notime, from nowhere, notime.

    The angry atheists irrationally insist on a suprestitious absurdity; that nothing turned itself into everything with no cause, no mechanism, no reason.

    Atheism has no defense but anger and a roundabout rationalisation of crass stupidity.

  35. @Lee Phillips:

    “Of course theorems add to our knowledge; I never said otherwise. You’re confusing information with knowledge; the theorem does not contain information not present in the axioms and definitions; for that reason, deductions do not supply evidence about the world. A theorem only tells us something about the logical system in which it is a theorem.”

    I am not confusing anything whatsoever. Neither do theorems “only tells us something about the logical system in which it is a theorem”. A theorem about groups is about groups, not about first order predicate logic or even the axiomatic system, ZFC say, in which it is proved, just like Noether’s theorem is a theorem about classical physical systems and the Bell inequalities is a theorem about large classes of physical theories. A theorem is about the “logical system”, or more precisely the theory (and or maybe the deductive calculi) in which it is proved only in the sense that it is provable from the axioms of the theory.

    On the other hand, if a theorem is provable from the axioms of a theory T, then it follows that it is true of all models of the theory T. You concede that this can be new knowledge but not “new information”. What is this concept of “information” you are invoking I do not know, but it follows that, since programs are the same as proofs by the Curry-Howard isomorphism, that no (pure) program (e.g. a simulation) adds new information. At any rate, since proofs can add new knowledge (e.g. a purported proof of the existence of God), not adding “new information” squeezed out boils down to the triviality and irrelevance that conclusions follow necessarily from their premises in a deductive argument, and so they are only “as true as the premises”.

  36. Lee Phillips does make an important point about logical argument. It is not vacuous in it’s truth.
    The fact that anything can be considered evidence is also important and that evidence is of different value.
    Gary I,E, makes an important point about the value of evidence,- certainly it was clear enough.

    None of this is new but the commentary on here implies that it is and yet people from the theist side are skirting the obvious.
    Bob K makes the most important point with respect to truth and reason.

    However I still note that the most sly and digging commentary here did not come from the atheists at all.
    Having faith in God does not give a person the right to be evasive, or feign misunderstanding.

    Which proves that the intellect is the place where immoral as well as moral choices are made. Unless, of course some want to admit that they are arguing from the place called emotion, which lives somewhere else!

    Ignoring this is dishonest. Doing so in preference for side showing is evidence for me of a known weak argument and a point of contention which is not going to be resolved any time soon.

    As for foul comments, innuendos, false inference and crass remarks, see theist comments.

    Jesus said,
    “Love the lord with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul.”
    He then goes on to say that the second most important thing is to love your neighbour.

    Atheists are made in the image of God as well. They have a reasonable expectation to expect to be treated as the faith suggests.
    Forgetting any usual considerations of normal politeness, manners and common decency, it is as well to understand this.

    Too many of a certain flavour of theism just want everything to be a two dimensional situation where the world exists in argument on paper and reality of the world is simply an inconvenience. Such things as emotion, for example, tush tush, just worldly, low down, nonsense.

    Jesus did not consider it to be nonsense. So when approaching your neighbour one should do so with love.
    Not every discussion is about converting a person to the faith. If your faith is being attacked then that is situation normal.
    Live with it. If fully grown men can’t grow a back bone but think it’s okay to harass and mistreat females then they don’t actually believe their self confessed beliefs about the fairer sex. Christians can expect to be persecuted. Stop thinking otherwise. Self defence is another matter and should be reserved for when a real injustice is being perpetrated. Internet discussion such as the above is not the place.

    The heart came first in Jesus’s commandment.
    Some religious old men in particular think the heart means sex. That’s exactly how it appears. As a result they are ridiculed for it. Thinking anything else is going to happen is being unrealistic.

  37. Gary in Erko wrote “The anger of atheists is possibly due to their intuitive suspicion that they’re missing out on something.”

    Likely so for some; for many I think it is simply herd maintenance. A process exists to push misfits to the edge of the herd for predators with constant jostling, pushing, shoving, biting, insulting to seek the safe center. The atheists I have known tend to be Democrats and also tend to be rude and combative; the very opposite traits of the ideal Christian. Few atheists are able to hold up their end of an argument. Oh, they have some stock phrases and memes but apart from ridiculing their “straw gods” they haven’t got an argument against the real thing and might even be afraid of it. The “pile on” against me at Evolution is True was impressive, somewhat predictable, and now my words no longer appear there; not conspicuously banned but since my words disrupt their herd my words no longer appear there.

    You argue with someone that is unsure hoping to make a change because it feels good to cause change; presumably for the better. But a person that knows what he knows isn’t likely to be changed by words on a computer screen.

    I enjoy a vigorous argument since it keeps my mind sharp and my beliefs lint-free.

  38. Lee Phillips writes “Those angry atheists. They should learn something from religious folk”

    I suppose so in the case that a person lacking knowledge, and wishing to receive knowledge, can obtain it from a person that also happens to be religious.

    You seem to impute a high degree of homogeneity to “religious folk” and also to “angry atheists”. From a left wing perspective both assumptions may have merit. The truth seems to be that atheists come in many flavors and so do religious folk. Whether any particular religious person has anything to teach any particular atheist is difficult to know in advance. I could teach some principles of network engineering to an atheist but I suspect that isn’t what you had in mind.

  39. JH wrote “She just wondered why some adults pretended that prayers work. I told her to call Grandma to find out.”

    I await the rest of this story…

    “Is it rational believing in the power of prayers?”

    It is rational where it is rational. That is to say, if you prayed for the sun to rise in the morning, and it did, you would feel strongly that your prayer was effective, the cause. That would be rational. Now if you prayed for something a bit less likely to happen naturally, and it happens, that is better confirmation, and even more rational to believe in its power, yet I think you can never be certain that it was you causing these events, and much more likely that you are simply asking a power that *is* capable of causing these events.

    Prayer is not *powerful*, it is at times *persuasive*. Moses was told to wrap two snakes on a pole and hoist it up for all to see. Those who had been bitten by snakes simply needed to look at this pole with snakes to be healed; those that refused, died.

    Do I presume that looking at snakes on a pole has healing powers? No. Instead, I presume that obedience has healing powers sometimes. It is a test, a natural selection, perhaps a bit unnaturally selecting, for who is obedient for building a new nation.

    The effective prayer is not chosen in advance or written by specially trained prayer-crafters. It comes from your heart and mind, and those words are put there by the same God to whom you are praying. But I use “god” somewhat generically since the work of god is almost always done by others in his employ (seraphim for instance) all the way down to cute naked cherubim.

    “Anyway, it goes without saying that I am the most rational, objective people in the world.”

    How many of you are in there?

    “What does it mean to say believe in mathematical entities?”

    Things that exist in abstract, such as a parabola or hyperbola or best of all a tesseract (4 dimensional cube). It is easy to believe these things have physical existence and can be used as “evidence” of something but have no more physical existence than spirits.

    Another good example is “I”, the square root of a negative 1. It can be used, but it does not exist outside of its imaginary realm. (I is for “imaginary”).

  40. “The “pile on” against me at Evolution is True was impressive, somewhat predictable, and now my words no longer appear there; not conspicuously banned but since my words disrupt their herd my words no longer appear there.”
    Is there some old discussion that’s still smarting?
    Herding? Didn’t you say something about the beliefs of atheists and Christians being homogenous?
    It’s the same error that you make right there.
    As for lint free, that’s more posing to cleanliness. It is snobbery.

    Everyone’s got their own ideas of what is ideal. that you think lint free is ideal shows your tasks simply require lint free rags.
    Cotton wool is used for other things, like healing, nurturing and absorbing fluid.
    Lint is a necessary accompaniment unless you’re french polishing or dealing with metals. Lint free is good for applying directly to wounds but never without the lint material to back it up. Lint can absorb a lot of rubbish.

  41. Joy writes “Is there some old discussion that’s still smarting?”

    Indeed there is. Remember back in the day when you are in school, the teacher asks a question of the class and you alone know the answer but it seems that the teacher is pointedly NOT allowing you to state the answer? Why might that be the case? I don’t know but I suspect the intention is to NOT have an answer, but to leave the question dangling suggesting that an answer does not exist (when in fact it does).

    This can happen when the teacher doesn’t know the answer and thus cannot judge the correctness of a student answer and also does not wish to seem ignorant of it.

    So over on Evolution is True you have some people that go to huge lengths to not talk about evolution. From time to time they admit into their arena a Christian to feed to the lions, figuratively speaking. They thought I was one such and I allowed them their joy at ridicule for a little while but I did not respond as others respond. When it became clear that I knew something for sure in a Descartes-certain way that they had been insisting did not exist, it increased the disturbance in the force and disrupted the tranquility of the herd.

    These are they that want to eat, drink and ridicule Christians for tomorrow they cease to exist. But just a hint of still existing and suddenly everything changes; now Pascal’s Wager kicks in and you’d better think about that next life just a little bit, occasionally, just in case!

    So the owner of that blog gets his jollies leading this little herd and he cannot have anyone else taking his thunder so my words no longer appear. But he also doesn’t “ban” me since that also conveys that I am worthy and dangerous to his herd and to his own superiority. He’s got a little flock and god allows such things to exist to create choice, and choice creates free will, and free will creates responsibility.

    “Herding? Didn’t you say something about the beliefs of atheists and Christians being homogenous?”

    Yes, I didn’t. Forces exist trying to make them homogeneous and other forces exist to detect disconformity and expel such persons from the herd, or more carefully, allow them to be at the edges for predators to eat.

    The herd itself is an abstraction; a collective intelligence formed by those that comprise the herd. It is not anchored to anything. Thus, my presence has a subtle influence on the herd whether its members wish it, wish it not, or are unaware. The herd of course has an influence on me but, unlike the herd, I have an anchor (several probably) and a moral compass oriented by culture, tradition, religion and my own experiences.

    “It’s the same error that you make right there.”

    If you say so.

    “As for lint free, that’s more posing to cleanliness. It is snobbery.”

    Indeed it is. My snob dial is on “9”. How about yours? Saul Alinsky tricks do not work on me because you don’t know what is my book of rules that I must live up to, or even if I have one, or if that book of rules requires me to always live up to those rules.

    The pharisees tried some Alinsky tricks on Jesus; except of course they weren’t known as Rules for Radicals back then (so far as I know). Jesus was slippery — difficult to bind Jesus to his own rules, but of course, they weren’t really Jesus’ rules but the pharisees interpretation of those rules. So, he was non-violent except when turning over money tables at the temple or telling his disciples to sell a garment and buy a sword. Jesus was a master of situational ethics.

    “that you think lint free is ideal shows your tasks simply require lint free rags.”

    That they do.

    “Lint is a necessary accompaniment unless you’re french polishing or dealing with metals.”

    Lint is bad around cameras and computers. I worth with both. Thought-lint is bad when making important life decisions many of which are religious.

    Churches have had a long time to embellish a simple religion with quite a lot of lint. In fact, its more like the contents of the lint filter on a dryer there’s so much lint.

    What is Christianity? It is the two great commandments; but on careful consideration, it boils down to just one — love your neighbor. To be sure the first is to love god, but what does he want? Nothing for himself; he wants you to love your neighbor.

    The method is also fairly straightforward: The only meaningful sacrifice is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Whoever does those things is a Christian even if never heard of Jesus Christ. Whoever does not those things is not a Christian even if he wears robes on a Sunday.

    But that’s not my judgment to make, neither is it yours. It is, however, what I believe.

    Truth withstands challenge, falsehoods (lint) does not. Therefore it is worthy to find opponents to challenge each of your beliefs. Finding worthy opponents is the difficult part, finding a place to have such a tournament is nearly impossible. The ancient Usenet was a great and unmoderated place for that sort of thing and it helped me understand the differences between what I know for sure and the many traditions that I accept but aren’t actually things I know for sure.

  42. Hans Erren writes: “Atheists annoying? Nothing beats Jehovas Witnesses.”

    I love it when JW’s come calling. They are commited to their beliefs and withstand some serious discussion. I don’t convert them, they don’t convert me, but I enjoy my interactions with JW’s. They do at times make me think about things and I admire their conviction. They stand for something. Do you?

  43. Michael 2
    That’s about the most sensible answer I’ve read for a long time.

    I don’t know the blog that you mention. I’d say though that in my experience atheists aren’t considering pascal’s wager at all. They truly and simply do not believe. If they are swayed by it then they could be said to have some faith. One has to believe to believe that pascal’s wager is of any interest at all.

    So the motives attributed by some hockey Christians about atheists just are incorrect. Simply in the same way as some atheists make silly and wrong headed remarks abut Christians all the time. The indignation of atheists, as I see it, is partly the perceived hypocrisy which is inevitable for any Christian since nobody is not a sinner; secondly, the indignation at the bare faced check of many Christians who level all sorts of untruthful accusations and unfounded assumptions. They are both rational reasons to be angry with Christians.

    The notion that they are jealous of their faith is simply one possibility and is I would think only really true of few atheists. In the same way as many Christians are Jealous, or act jealously towards atheists.

    Some Christians, let’s leave aside which, treat atheists like they are less than human because, ‘let’s face it, you’re going to hell anyway, you don’t matter.”

    Much of what you write could be levelled at this blog.

    I didn’t disagree with a single thing you said although I expect you will be surprised to hear that.
    Furthermore I don’t mean to imply, obviously, that you agree with what I say here. I am not expecting that either.

  44. Michael 2 (typos corrected and insertions included as previous comment was blocked in the spam filter so original without amendments appeared.)
    ………….
    That’s about the most sensible answer I’ve read for a long time, on this subject.

    I don’t know the blog that you mention. I’d say though that in my experience atheists aren’t considering pascal’s wager at all. They truly and simply do not believe. If they are swayed by it then they could be said to have some faith. One has to believe to believe that pascal’s wager is of any interest at all.

    So the motives attributed by some cocky Christians (not saying you are cocky) about atheists just are incorrect. Simply in the same way as some atheists make silly and wrong headed remarks abut Christians all the time. The indignation of atheists, as I see it, is partly the perceived hypocrisy which is inevitable for any Christian since nobody is not a sinner; secondly, the indignation at the bare faced cheek of many Christians who level all sorts of untruthful accusations and unfounded assumptions. They are both rational reasons to be angry with Christians.

    The notion that they are jealous of their faith is simply one possibility and is I would think only really true of few atheists. In the same way as many Christians are Jealous, or act jealously towards atheists.

    Some Christians, let’s leave aside which, treat atheists like they are less than human because, ‘let’s face it, you’re going to hell anyway, you don’t matter.”
    Plenty of Catholics treat protestants the same.

    Much of what you wrote could be levelled at this blog.

    I didn’t disagree with a single thing you said although I expect you will be surprised to hear that.
    I also don’t expect that you will agree, obviously, with what I say. I am not expecting that either.

    There’s nothing wrong with anger. Anger which is denied existence is silly.
    Anger is hurt turned outward. If put to good use it can be very useful. Everybody knows this. Some want it buried.

  45. Michael 2 (typos corrected and insertions included as previous comment was blocked in the spam filter so original without amendments appeared.)
    ………….
    That’s about the most sensible answer I’ve read for a long time, on this subject.

    I don’t know the blog that you mention. I’d say though that in my experience atheists aren’t considering pascal’s wager at all. They truly and simply do not believe. If they are swayed by it then they could be said to have some faith. One has to believe to believe that pascal’s wager is of any interest at all.

    So the motives attributed by some cocky Christians (not saying you are cocky) about atheists just are incorrect. Simply in the same way as some atheists make silly and wrong headed remarks abut Christians all the time. The indignation of atheists, as I see it, is partly the perceived hypocrisy which is inevitable for any Christian since nobody is not a sinner; secondly, the indignation at the bare faced cheek of many Christians who level all sorts of untruthful accusations and unfounded assumptions. They are both rational reasons to be angry with Christians.

    The notion that they are jealous of their faith is simply one possibility and is I would think only really true of few atheists. In the same way as many Christians are Jealous, or act jealously towards atheists.

    Some Christians, let’s leave aside which, treat atheists like they are less than human because, ‘let’s face it, you’re going to hell anyway, you don’t matter.”
    Plenty of Catholics treat protestants the same.

    Much of what you wrote could be levelled at this blog.

    I didn’t disagree with a single thing you said although I expect you will be surprised to hear that.
    I also don’t expect that you will agree, obviously, with what I say. I am not expecting that either.

    There’s nothing wrong with anger. Anger which is denied existence is silly.
    Anger is hurt turned outward. If put to good use it can be very useful. Everybody knows this. Some want it buried.

  46. Oh no, M2,
    There was this,
    That Jesus is slippery. No I don’t agree.
    That’s giving permission to certain pretence of misunderstanding which Jesus never did, even for comic effect.

  47. What does it mean to say “believe in mathematical entities”?

    Do you believe that functors and homeomorphisms exist? Complex numbers? Spheres?

  48. If you possessed critical thinking skills you could, without difficulty, understand the illogical fallacy “prayer” is.

    Anyone with critical thinking skills might, I pray, inform himself as to what “prayer” is. Suggestive examples include:
    “Glory to God in the highest etc.”
    “From the desire of being praised, deliver me, O Lord.”
    “Thy will be done”
    “Give us this day our daily bread.”
    “Forgive us our offenses the way we forgive those who offend us.”
    “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
    “Father in heaven, … make me a good mother to all my children after the example of Mary, the Mother of your Son.”
    “Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts.”
    “O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.”
    “Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”
    “If it is not God’s Will to cure me, give me strength to bear my burden and offer it up to Him, who suffered so much for me.”

    When I was suffering from septic shock a few years ago and my right kidney had shut down, I was scheduled to go into dialysis on the morning. Fr. Deogratias Rwegasira, who was then pastor of the parish I afflicted, came and prayed with me, asking God to guide the hands and minds of the doctors attending in the right paths. The next morning Kidney Guy stood at the door of the room as I awoke and said the kidney had started working overnight and dialysis was no longer called for.

    Surely, God is not so quotidian a thing as a vending machine into which one inserts a prayer and, hey presto!, out pops a miracle! I am not so special as to demand that the laws of the universe be suspended on my account. The prayer is Thy will be done, after all. But then a miracle need not be unnatural, either.
    #
    Christians, your people used to hunt witches

    That was a pagan thing that remained popular into Christian times, indeed even into modern times among the 99%. Cf. Roman law. Maleficiae were executed when brought to the praetors’ attention. The Church position was that witches as such did not exist, but were persons suffering delusions. There was a story told about a bishop — I have forgotten his name — in the early Middle Ages. A woman claimed to be a witch who could shrink to the size of a fly and pass through keyholes to reach her targets. So the bishop locked the door of the room and chased her with a broom, swatting her and commanding her to shrink and escape. Surely, this exhibited critical thinking skills.

    It was not until the great ergot poisoning that afflicted the Rhineland in the Late Middle Ages, when people saw hallucinations of the Devil that serious folks began to take demon-worshiping witches seriously and the mania began. Even so, one finds civil authorities leading the way (and confiscating the properties) and the Church dragging her heels. The Rhineland remained the epicenter of the mania, although there were outbreaks elsewhere. Had it not been for the deadly consequences, it was very much like modern UFO mania. The first organization to speak out against witch hunting was the Spanish Inquisition, just as on the Protestant side, the ones who spoke out against the Salem witch trials were the Puritan divines like Cotton Mather.

    …while arresting Galileo for stating a scientific fact.

    Not checking up on the facts of the case fails to exhibit critical thinking skills. The scientific facts were actually verified by Church astronomers (in some cases, anticipated by Church astronomers). The facts were not in controversy. The Jesuits at the Roman College even held a celebration in Galileo’s honor at which papers were read and his accomplishments lauded. [After which celebration, he could be called “a celebrity” and “a celebrated astronomer.” In those days, “celebrity” had to be earned.] His trial was for disobeying an injunction. Bellarmino had told him he could teach geomobility as a mathematical hypothesis but had asked him not to promote the theory of geomobility unless he had actual proof that the geo was in fact mobile (cf. Letter to Foscarini). Until then, he was to refrain from re-interpreting the teachings of the Church Fathers. [Alas, such proofs would not come along until the 1700s and early 1800s.] While there was political maneuvering and anti-Florentine prejudice that resulted in outright dishonesty in the preparation of the summula, the arrest was actually a moderate penance under the circumstances, its primary consequence being humiliation. [“Arrest” was to be loosely confined to his villa outside Florence and not have big parties there. It did not mean the coppers came a-knocking at the door to haul him off to the hoosegow.] Even the recitation of the penitential psalms were palmed off on his daughter, a nun. Since Galileo was not well, he was disinclined to leave his villa (“The Jewel”) in any case. It was very much wink-wink-nudge-nudge in the fine old Renaissance tradition.

    So it’s a bit disingenuous to say that “Christians, your people” arrested Galileo when Galileo himself, as well as his supporters were themselves Christians, and included powerful cardinals like Dini, Piccolomini, and Hohenzollern, as well as three of the ten judges on his tribunal. The hardest thing for us Moderns to wrap their minds around is that astronomical mathematics was not the most important matter in the minds of the lawyers and politicians of the day.

    The latest greatest thing that came out of the church was… nothing

    Except human rights, genetics, Secchi variable stars, or the Big Bang theory, depending on what one means by “latest” or “greatest.”

  49. Do you believe that functors and homeomorphisms exist? Complex numbers? Spheres?

    Whatever -ism position others may take, I believe that they exist in my brain. No, they are not omnipotent or God-like or whatever God is supposed to be. Is my belief wrong? Maybe. People might justify so by using all kinds of existing arguments as if they really know. However, I know it is a belief that neither affect my views about others, nor make me more superior, nor affect who I am as a human being, nor stop me from helping others, nor make me hate others, no make me a evil-free person. There are differences in various aspects between God and math entities. So I don’t see why it is contradictory or irrational between not believing in spirits and yet believing in mathematical entities.

  50. And the Protestant neo-atheists come in to bat under their own straw man banner… to wit, their god is Scripture that can be manipulated and interpreted according to personal convenience. Fact is, Joy, the Bible is the sole property of the Catholic Church. The Church was alive and kicking for about 400 years before She collected the books; even then the Bible only existed as a few hand-written copies in monastries and universities for another 1500 years or so.

    Then we have the phenomenon where Scripture is selectively quoted against itself i.e. instead of reconciling apparently “contradictory” (actually complementary) passages as real scholars had done a thousand years before they select the bits that suit their purpose and ignore the rest.

    In this case we’re being told that Christians are supposed to be milk sops that hide the light under a bushel so that it doesn’t offend the darkness that does not comprehend it, and that it doesn’t rattle the dead men’s bones in the whited sepulchres… so you don’t stand up where you might be ridiculed, blamed, or scourged, or crucified, or stoned, or roasted, or God only knows what else.

    Of course the atheists get angry! In their heart they know they’re selling an impossible nonsense… a crock of snake oil, a magic elixir to salve a wretched conscience.

  51. Galileo also made the shortsighted error of going against what Aristotle had said which had been ratified by the Church and the pope. He was friends with a man who became pope and wrote satirically of The Pope as a fool. So the church had sided with the philosophers and found itself with egg on it’s face.

    Oldavid,
    1 Peter: Chapter 3 Verse 15

    “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always be ready to make a defence to those who ask you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
    None of what you said there about me was true. None of what you imply is true. What you say about how Christians should behave is wrong both in depiction of what Christians are ‘expected to do’ or what is the correct way to approach and treat your fellow man.

    The only true part is of the bible’s origin.
    This is trivially obvious.

  52. More about Galileo.
    This is an excerpt from a comment I made to a group of cosmologists and mathematicians.

    “I claim that in “modern philosophy” (science) “rightness” or “wrongness” is determined by the suitability or convenience to the prevailing Materialist ideology, which also determines “marketability”.

    Now I can’t resist the urge to stick my metaphysical boot into another “sacred cow” of contemporary, popular ideological prejudice… namely Galileo, since he is already cited as a champion of “science”.

    I am happy to allow that Galileo is a “father” of MODERN “science” as he is a notable example of one who dispensed with an effective scientific method in favour of a rather didactic assertion of conjecture.

    If he had stuck to what he could realistically do, i.e. provide additional observational evidence for the Copernican model of the cosmos, then cosmology could have just evolved in an orderly fashion. The Copernican model was already becoming widely accepted in theological and philosophical circles. Indeed, just as Galileo was making a fool of himself and disgracing science, the Jesuits were proposing the Copernican model to Chinese astronomers who, to their immense credit, pulled out their charts etc. and found that wallah!!! it fits the observations!

    So what really happened to Galileo?

    He was very well received when he came to the Vatican to present his ideas to the Inquisition. In fact, Cardinal Bellarmine, who was the theologian heading the Inquisition, very sensibly observed that “if this (Copernican model) is true we will have to revise our interpretation of (the relevant) Scripture”. He was also an excellent philosopher (logician) who well knew the logical principle: if there is an apparent contradiction between two versions of one thing then the understanding of one, or both, is wrong. All good so far.

    But the emboldened arrogance of Galileo went out of his way to get up the nose of the Inquisition with a series of gratuitous assertions of his own conjecture (many of which were just plain wrong) including his vainglorious claim that “his discoveries” would turn all of philosophy and theology “on its head”. Of course, that set off all the alarm bells.

    To top it off Galileo set about deriding and ridiculing anyone who didn’t fall into his train, including his previously personal friend the pope. All this political chicanery culminated in another disgraceful political revenge attack… the blanket condemnation of Galileo and his “proposals”.

    Galileo was an impudent twerp who did more to discredit natural science than anyone else of his era that I know of.”

  53. More about witch hunting.
    There was a bod called Heinrich Kramer (I think he was a priest) who wrote up a tome called Malleus Malefacorum, which was a blueprint for witch hunting.

    Kramer was described by his contemporary local bishop as “a senile old man”… which, I guess, is a polite way of saying “a proper nutcase”. I have the book and I’ve read it and I can vouch for the “nutcase” assessment but he’s a very clever one (as all the truly dangerous nutcases are). The book has a papal approbation as an appendix. That approbation was obtained by some cunning political chicanery that I don’t remember the details of.

    Anyhow, even though the book was viewed askance by most Catholic churchmen the secular establishment grabbed it with glee and ran with it. Some 638 poor women are recorded as having been burned to death as a result… many (if not most) of which were in the new Protestant colonies of North America.

    Political cunning and hysteria trumps a cool head.

  54. “Political cunning and hysteria trumps a cool head.”
    What an odd thing to say.
    Still, I bow to your better knowledge when it comes to such cruel practices as witch hunting and general unkindness, you’re the man.

  55. While Oldavid speaks much sooth, it is always at the extremes that the fish begins to stink. Galileo was indeed arrogant. Grassi, a Jesuit astronomer, had the audacity to announce that the three comets of 1618 which he had studied diligently had originated far beyond the orb of the Moon. Galileo wrote that “It was given to me alone” to make such discoveries about the heavens, and announced that comets were instead emanations within the Earth’s own atmosphere. He was able to do this without making a single observation of the three comets. Galileo referred to comets afterward as “Tycho’s monkey planets.”

    Far from becoming more widely accepted in theological and philosophical circles, the Copernican model was fading in popularity, because the accuracy of its predictions were not very good; esp. where Mars was concerned. Even mathematicians, initially very excited, were losing interest. Too many epicycles. More epicycles, in fact, than were required by Peuerbach’s then-current edition of Ptolemy.

    The reason for that was the resurgence of Neoplatonism and Hermetic mysticism. Copernicus, who made very few actual observations, simply performed new math on old data and insisted on pure Platonic circles. And circles within circles. (Little did he know that the Alphonsine Tables had been corrupted by centuries of copyist errors. Hence, he was relying on the same bad data as the Ptolemaic model.) Since the planets actually run on multiply-perturbed elliptical orbits, and Mars is most elliptical of all those then known, epicycles were required to save the appearances of the heavens. Even so, these orbits were not homocentric. That is, no two planetary orbits had the same center. Remember two things:

    1. No one was looking at the system of the world from the bird’s-eye view we use today, but from the view of earth’s surface; iow back-and-forth across the sky.
    2. Astronomy was a specialized branch of mathematics, not a branch of physics. The planets were not conceptualized as physical places until the invention of the telescope, which Copernicus, Tycho, Ursus, and Kepler did not possess. That is why the term for “astronomer” used during the Renaissance, mathematicus, was also used for “astrologer.”

    The sole purpose of astronomical mathematics was to “save the appearances”; that is, to correctly predict the seasons, sunrises, eclipses, and other useful events for calendar-making, horoscopes, and ocean navigation. Because the Tychonic model did this just as accurately as the Copernican model there was no way to choose between them. Even the phases of Venus, though they blew Ptolemy into tiny pieces, fit into both models.

    Indeed, just as Galileo was making a fool of himself and disgracing science, the Jesuits were proposing the Copernican model to Chinese astronomers who, to their immense credit, pulled out their charts etc. and found that wallah!!! it fits the observations!

    The preferred model at the time was Tycho’s, which was mathematically equivalent to Copernicus. (That was why they yielded the same predictions.) They used the Copernican model as alternative calculations, but did not assert that the model was physically real. Neither a physically real Copernican model nor the accepted Aristotelian physics made sense to the Chinese of that era, because
    a) they had no concept of Euclidean geometry and logical derivation of theorems and
    b) their cosmology consisted of an Earth flat like a blanket with China in its center, the Middle Kingdom.
    So they did not even accept the spherical Earth that had been known in the West since ancient Greece. Chinese astronomy was entirely arithmetical. Western astronomy was informed by geometry. Some Chinese scholars were blown away by Euclid, which they found so awesome that they converted to Catholicism.

    He was very well received when he came to the Vatican to present his ideas to the Inquisition.

    His factual discoveries were verified by the Jesuit astronomers, in some cases anticipated by them, and the Roman College threw a big celebration in his honor when he came to town on a book tour. But there was no presentation “to the Inquisition.” The whole thing was outside the remit of the Holy Office, which concerned itself only with matters of heresy. Its proceedings were secret for the same reason that the proceedings of the confessional are secret. They are penitential rites, not judicial.

    Cardinal Bellarmine, who was the theologian heading the Inquisition

    No. Bellarmino was a member of the Congregation of the Index, not of the Holy Office. His committee was charged with editing books to remove problematic text. (For example, in his commentary on the comets, Galileo frequently cited Scripture and accused his opponents of heresy, but the Index insisted these had no place in a scientific text and Galileo had no authority to say so and ordered them removed.) Most of the time, this consisted of inserting the word “If” in selected passages. This was actually the recommendation of the extensor in Galileo’s case. If he hadn’t made so many personal enemies, esp. of his former supporters, the Jesuits, (and if he hadn’t been the fair-haired boy of the Grand Duke of Florence and hence had political enemies among the Romans; cf. Hapsburg v. Bourbon) he could have gotten away with a lot. Most people in power didn’t really care about astronomical mathematics. Don’t you know there’s a war on? (The Thirty Years War, to be exact. The Pope was financing, via Bourbon France, the so-called “Protestant” side, honking off the pro-Hapsburg cardinals. A fistfight erupted in the consistory, and the Pope saw Hapsburg plots behind every curtain. So when Galileo’s book came out and seemed calculated to make him look like a fool…)

    very sensibly observed that “if this (Copernican model) is true we will have to revise our interpretation of (the relevant) Scripture”.

    Roughly speaking. But this was in a letter to Foscarini informing him that the Copernican theory had been condemned as contrary to the way Church Fathers’ read the Scriptures. Unless there were conclusive evidence that the Earth moved, we ought to stick with the obvious evidence of our senses. But if the evidence showed that the Earth did move, then we would have to admit our understanding had been mistaken. Karl Popper later contended that this showed Bellarmino to have a better grasp of the scientific method than did Galileo. Alas, the empirical evidence was not had until the mid-1700s and the early 1800s, when the two major “falsifications” — the apparent lack of Coriolis effects from a rotating Earth and the apparent lack of stellar parallax due to a revolving Earth — were finally countered.

    However, the model was accepted long before, when Kepler’s elliptical orbits proved more mathematically elegant and when Newton’s theory of gravity provided a narrative by which it All Made Sense. Abandoning perfect Platonic circles was actually the key, and Galileo would not do that, despite being urged by Count Cesi and others.

    There is a more detailed history of the business here:
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-great-ptolemaic-smackdown-table-of.html

  56. Hmm, last Christmas Eve I had the pleasure of needing to look up the word ‘Cod’ ‘in the urban dictionary. What an education! A troubling experience.

    “Galileo also made the shortsighted error of going against what Aristotle had said which had been ratified by the Church and the pope. He was friends with a man who became pope and wrote satirically of The Pope as a fool. So the church had sided with the philosophers and found itself with egg on it’s face.”
    This in no way justifies any mistreatment of anybody for any religious reason. However and whenever it happens.
    The restatement at the top is information which I took directly from a lecture by John Lennox.
    I trust the man implicitly. The Church like other organisations, governments, companies and even individuals find themselves on the wrong side of a matter about which they have been vociferously arguing and have a difficult time climbing down. The Church has no place making judgements on science. It is none of the Church’s business to take an official line. This is one of the Catholic church’s biggest problems. It is not there to control truth. Hide truth, or adulterate it in any way.

    There are always people wanting history to have happened differently, “if only…” which is a waste of energy even thinking about. Then to take that a stage further and say if only X happened Y would then follow in matters of history is a conversation for schoolboys.
    What happened, happened and not for reasons simply to upset modern Catholics or anybody else.

  57. Thanks for the extra info, YOS. I must admit that my condensation of the Galileo affair is mainly based on only 4 not very dispassionate accounts of G and his “trial”.

    However, I must dispute your assertion that the Copernican model was falling out of favour. It was, even as G was making a fool of himself, being significantly improved by the likes of Kepler (after Brae) by the observationally more accurate proposition of elliptical orbits.

    At least one Chinese astronomer of the time had mentioned in his notes the Heliocentric Solar System… leading some habitual Western civilisation-bashers to proclaim (when I was in high school) that the Chinaman got there first and that Western science was being stunted by Church interference.

    I have not the slightest criticism of the Inquisition of the time. It displayed a most commendable prudence in not taking G’s speculations as proof of anything… considering his style of “argument” and his many associated vainglorious proclamations that were just plain wrong.

    That the pope abused his authority by making a proclamation that was out of his jurisprudence is an embarrassment but it has happened many times before and since.

    Of course, that it was the Protestants who most hysterically opposed (based on feelings and emotion, no doubt) the Copernican Model is studiously ignored as though it didn’t happen.

  58. [quote YOS] the apparent lack of stellar parallax due to a revolving Earth — were finally countered. [/quote]
    Parallax due to an Earth orbiting the Sun.

    Angry atheists suddenly retreat when it gets down to arguing matters of fact, eh?

  59. Joy writes “This in no way justifies any mistreatment of anybody for any religious reason.”

    Says who? You? The very word “justifies” implies the existence of a judge and a universal moral code. Well, such things just happened to exist in the 1600’s and Galileo wasn’t the judge and he wasn’t obeying the universal moral code of the day. You might be glad not to have lived in Florence in the 1600’s (I am!) but you seem to be judging LDP (Long Dead People) based on your own modern moral compass. What will that accomplish?

    Now the Earth boasts about 7 billion judges and as many moral codes.

    “…the wrong side of a matter about which they have been vociferously arguing and have a difficult time climbing down.”

    Fortunately for me I always know what is the wrong side of any and all matters so I don’t have to do any of this climbing down.

    “The Church has no place making judgements on science.”

    Says who; you? But the church has never made a judgment on “science” for science is not a thing; it has no mind, it says nothing, it knows nothing. People say things; the church judges claims made by people, and people (you, for instance) judge claims made by churches. It is all very nicely symmetrical and reciprocal, and that’s because “church” also does not exist. People exist! If some of them think similarly and they gather round the fire, they are suddenly a church. They might, and probably will, start imposing their ideas on other people and that’s true of politics, religion, or good fishing spots.

    “It is none of the Church’s business to take an official line.”

    Says who? It is precisely the church’s business to declare its official lines; otherwise it isn’t a church with its dogmas of right and wrong, destiny and so forth. It is still just people, but one of them is more equal than the others and imposes his thinking on as many people as are willing to go along with the idea.

    The grand battle is over the existence of God and the resulting alignment of moral codes if so. If not so, then you can do whatever you can get away with. So it is a very important question for nearly everyone even atheists.

    “This is one of the Catholic church’s biggest problems. It is not there to control truth. Hide truth, or adulterate it in any way.”

    Unless of course a church exists for that very purpose (Scientology comes to mind). I allow each church to declare its biggest problems; what may seem like a problem to me may actually be a feature!

    “There are always people wanting history to have happened differently”

    You being an example.

    “which is a waste of energy even thinking about.”

    Or me reading about your wishing and judging and my subsequent response. However, many books and movies have been made with alternate timelines so while it may well be a waste, it is an enjoyable waste with many lesser wastings possible.

  60. The Church has no place making judgements on science. It is none of the Church’s business to take an official line.

    Here is the irony. The scientific consensus was that the earth was immobile in the center (bottom) of the world. This had been established in ancient Greek times. For one thing, you could see the sun and stars moving around the earth. For another, there were several falsifications of its mobility. If the earth were spinning toward the east, there would be a strong and persistent headwind out of the east, and there was none. If the earth were whirling around the sun, the moon would be left behind. If the earth were whirling around the sun, there would be observable parallax among the fixed stars, and there was none. If the earth were spinning on its axis, there would be what we call Coriolis effects: objects dropped from towers would fall east of the plumb line, and they did not. Now, there are answers to all those objections are now known, but they required data and mental constructions (like inertia) that were unknown in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance times; and you cannot solve one unproven hypothesis by adding a second unproven hypothesis (e.g., the stars are much more distant than their apparent diameters indicate).

    Given that the science was about as solid as any natural science has ever been, the Church Fathers, like Basil, Gregory, and the rest, had in commenting on Scripture, interpreting passages referring to the fixity of the earth as being unquestionably in line with the settled science and therefore read the passages as literal.

    Now here comes a mathematician (not even a physicist!) who says a model that treats the earth as mobile is not only computationally tolerable, but insists that it is physically true; and he does so without the slightest physical proof. Well, okay, he has shown that a planet may circle the sun (Jupiter) and not leave its (newly discovered) moons behind; but that doesn’t mean the Earth does so. (After all, you cannot feel the earth spinning and whirling, can you?) That it might be possible does not mean that it must be so.

    But the kicker was that this mathematician was also reinterpreting Scripture in terms of his mathematical hypothesis, something at which he had no skill or authority. Bellarmino ruled that it was imprudent to abandon the teachings of the Church Fathers on a mere mathematical hypothesis. It would require a proven fact to do so, and the mathematician did not have that. He did not even have a consensus of scientists, who had concluded that the hypothesis was “absurd in philosophy” for the reasons just stated.

    IOW, the Church did not rule on a matter of science. The scientific community did so, and the Church, taking their word for it, decided not to alter its teaching of the Church Fathers until the facts were in. Had Galileo resisted the temptation in his Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina to run on about Scriptural interpretation, he probably could have kept out of trouble.

    The Facts came in as follows:

    1728. Building on efforts by Flamsteed, Hooke, and others attempting to detect that old bugaboo, parallax, James Bradley detects instead stellar aberration in ?-Draconis (Phil. Trans. Royal Soc., 1729). This proved that the Earth is moving.

    1734. Bradley’s paper is translated into Italian

    1744. A “corrected” copy of Galileo’s Dialogue is printed in Italy. Not a word is changed, but the term “if” is inserted in various marginal topic headers. This would have been all that was necessary had the original recommendation of the Extensor been followed in the Galileo trial.

    1758. Copernicanism is removed from the Index.

    1791. Giovanni Guglielmini, a diocesan priest and professor of mathematics at the University of Bologna, drops weights from the Torre dei Asinelli in Bologna* and finds an eastward (and southward) deflection. Concerned with windage, he repeats the experiment down the center of the spiral staircase at the Instituto della Scienze and finds a 4 mm Coriolis deflection over a 29 m drop; thus providing direct empirical evidence of the rotation of the Earth.

    (* This is the same tower from which Fr. Riccioli and Fr. Grimaldi had dropped weights to produce the first estimate of the acceleration due to gravity.)

    1806. Giuseppi Calandrelli SJ, director of the observatory at the Roman College publishes “Ozzervatione e riflessione sulla paralasse annua dall’alfa della Lira,” reporting parallax in ?-Lyrae. This provides empirical evidence of the revolution of the Earth. (Ironically, he may have been mistaken; but Bessel found parallax in another star in 1830.)

    1820. Giuseppe Settele, astronomy professor at the Sapienza (now the University of Rome) incorporates these findings into the second volume of his Elementa di Ottica e di Astronomia, and tells his colleague, Benedetto Olivieri (who is then Commissary of the Holy Office) that this provides the demonstration requested by Bellarmino back in 1616. Olivieri agrees, and convinces the Office and Pope Pius VII, who then removes the injunction on teaching geomobility as empirical fact.

    The Church always gets in trouble when she relies on Science.

  61. the Copernican model was … being significantly improved by the likes of Kepler (after Brae) by the observationally more accurate proposition of elliptical orbits.

    At the time, the Keplerian model was considered a rival to the Copernican model. It was done before Galileo hit the scene and was “the Last Hurrah of Eyeball Astronomy.” The problem, briefly summarized:

    Copernicus had done new math on old data — the Alphonsine Tables — to produce the Prussian Tables. The problem was that the Alphonsine Tables had been recopied many times since they were originally compiled and copyist errors had crept in. Hence, Copernican predictions were little better (and sometimes worse) than Ptolemaic predictions.

    Tycho Brahe, dissatisfied with both Copernicus and Ptolemy decided the solution was better data and set up an observatory at Uranaborg with funding from the Danish Crown comparable in percentage to the funding of NASA by the US Gov’t. His instruments were astonishingly precise — the diameter of a quarter at the distance of a football field — and were calibrated. Using these new data he developed a new model, an improvement on the ancient Heraclidean model: the sun and moon circled the earth and everything else circled the sun. This worked as well as the Copernican model, largely because it was mathematically equivalent: just a change of coordinate systems.

    Mars was defiant. It was off its predicted position by an intolerable amount. Six minutes of arc IIRC. Neither Ptolemy, Copernicus, or Tycho could give a good account.

    Meanwhile, the Imperial Mathematician, Baer, who went by the name “Ursus”, put out his own model, which was identical to Tycho’s except he allowed the earth to rotate on its axis. This didn’t help Mars, and Tycho was livid, cried plagiarism, and locked up all his data.

    Tycho hired Kepler to work on the orbit of Mars, but would only allow him to access the super-secret data of Uranaborg at the fortress of solitude, which kinda slowed things down. Ursus died, and Tycho was appointed Imperial Mathematician, but he did not enjoy the honor long before he too died and Kepler was appointed to the position. There was a struggle with Longomontanus, who was Tycho’s heir and keeper of the super-secret data; but the emperor swung heavy throw-weight of metal and a compromise was reached.

    Kepler worked Mars in the Ptolemaic, Copernican, and Tychonic models, and none of them gave a good account. He then assumed (as Copernicus had not) that all orbital planes passed through the Sun, which reduced the error to eight or nine arc minutes. Still not good enough. He even tried re-introducing the @#$%^; equants, though his heart wasn’t in it. (cf. Crombie 1959, .pp. 176-182.)

    A Neoplatonic mystic, Kepler was convinced that physics must reduce to simple mathematical forms, but he was more liberal than Copernicus. He began to try ovals.

    This bugged Longomontanus, who accused Kepler of shoveling shit and gave the world a colorful phrase to replace “your argument is lacking in merit.” In a letter of 6 May 1604, Longomontanus told Kepler he was “submerged in shit in the Augean stable of old…” Kepler replied in early 1605:

    “If you are angry that I cannot eliminate the oval path, how much more ought you to be angry with the spirals [epicycles], which I abolished. … This is like being punished for leaving behind one barrow full of shit although I have cleaned the rest of the Augean stables.”

    Scientists have been accusing one another of shoveling it ever since.

    The mathematical difficulty of generating ovals had led Kepler to complain earlier that year (4 July 1603) to David Fabricius in France: “I lack something: knowledge of the geometrical generation of the oval path … If the figure were a perfect ellipse…!”

    Yeah, if only.

    Kepler decided to chuck two basics of physics:

    1. the motion of heavenly bodies is uniform
    2. the motion of heavenly bodies is perfectly circular

    He wondered if the reason why Mars seemed to speed up or slow down was that – wait for it – it was speeding up and slowing down, and not moving uniformly around a circular epicycle riding along a circular (but off-center) deferent. This almost worked.

    In 1604 he gave up Platonic circles.

    He was able to show geometrically that movement along an ellipse was mathematically equivalent to movement along an epicycle on a deferent. Shazaam! – the Martian orbit suddenly made sense! And btw, the other focus of the ellipse does kinda sorta look like that @#$^&;% equant…

    Without Tycho’s precise new data, Kepler would never have found his ellipse. No one before Tycho could possibly have done so. The old tables were just too badly corrupted. The interesting corollary to this is that as soon as it was possible to do so, European astronomers discovered elliptical orbits.

    Kepler wrote this up in Astronomia nova (1609). Since he believed mathematics caused physics, he decided that there must be a universal cause of planetary motions: the Sun projected a “field,” which by rotating would chivvy the planets around their ellipses with an impetus inversely proportional to their distance. Okay, you can’t get everything right; but this prepared the way for Newton. Kepler thought the field was the Holy Spirit, which proceeded from the Father (the Sun) toward the Son (the fixed stars). This did not prepare the way for Newton.

    Game, set, and match, dudes and dudettes! Kepler had the correct mathematical answer before the telescope was invented. Hear the applause?

    That’s the sound of one hand clapping while a tree falls in the forest. In later years, Kepler will admit ruefully that he tried to read his own book once and couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. As a writer, his scintillating prose can be summarized as “WTF?”

    Besides, Kepler had only Platonic number mysticism to back himself up. He had neither empirical evidence nor physical theory that his model was physically true. It predicted the heavens; but then, so did the Ursine/Tychonic system. And the latter explained the lack of parallax and Coriolis directly, without making additional assumptions. He went to work on his Rudolphine Tables, but sometimes had to flee town when one army or another in the Thirty Years War came to lay siege.

    Kepler sent a copy of Astronomia nova to Galileo – but Galileo never read it. To the bitter end, he refused to consider ellipses. Having done no original mathematics of his own, he stuck with Copernicus, epicycles and all.

    At this point there were seven models in competition:

    Geocentric:
    1. Ptolemaic (epicycles, deferants, equants)
    2. Gilbertian (Ptolemaic + rotating earth)
    Heliocentric
    3. Copernican (20+ epicycles)
    4. Keplerian (elliptical orbits, no epicycles)
    Geo-Heliocentric
    5. Heraclidean (Mercury and Venus circle Sun; all else circles earth)
    6. Tychonic (Sun and Moon circle Earth; all else circles Sun)
    7. Ursine (Tychonic + rotating earth)

    More math wouldn’t settle things. What was needed was different kinds of data. Enter the telescope.

  62. quote YOS “If the earth were spinning on its axis, there would be what we call Coriolis effects: objects dropped from towers would fall east of the plumb line, and they did not. Now, there are answers to all those objections are now known, but they required data and mental constructions (like inertia) that were unknown in ancient, medieval, and Renaissance times; and you cannot solve one unproven hypothesis by adding a second unproven hypothesis” /quote

    You’re trying to make the case that ordinary people were as daft as the “experts”.

    Any ordinary man pushing a wheelbarrow that something fell from knew from observation and experience that the falling object had with it the forward momentum of the wheelbarrow and it didn’t land exactly where it fell off but continued its forward momentum even rolling along in the direction of travel.

    Now, I accept that such things might not have been codified into rules or laws but they were well known to ordinary people.

    Things like inertia were also well known to anyone who ever threw a rock and inertia and gravity were well known to anyone who tried to carry a weight up a hill even if the relationship was not mathematically defined. Big, heavy rocks are harder to lift up a hill than smaller, lighter ones. Everyone already knew that one twice as heavy took twice the effort to lift over the same distance. No big deal! Gravity and inertia were well known for thousands of years before Isaac Newton was even a twinkle in his father’s eye.

    This is a preposterous nonsense to imply that the laws of physics did not exist before they were defined in mathematical terms.

    The Coriolis Effect is simply that fluid “stuff” closer to the Equator has more “sideways” momentum than “stuff” nearer the poles. Interestingly, cannoneers discovered that they had to adjust the intended trajectory of their projectiles to account for whether they were shooting towards, or away from, the Equator. I am exceedingly suspicious that any weight dropped from one latitude to the same latitude could exhibit any Coriolis effect other than a slight rotation of the weight.

    Blardy angry atheists are still notable by their absence.

  63. Any ordinary man pushing a wheelbarrow that something fell from knew from observation and experience that the falling object had with it the forward momentum of the wheelbarrow

    Not the same thing, M’Gee. They were familiar with momentum [impetus], which was defined by the medievals as a combination of weight and speed. A body with a motion [change of state] would continue to change for a little while until the impetus was dissipated by resistance. But this was not the same as either the Coriolis effect or inertia. In the first place, the fact that the body already had a motion imparted by the rotation of the earth was the very thing to be proved, so it could not be assumed a priori. The idea is that if the earth is spinning sec. arg. then a body taken to the top of a tower would have a higher eastward velocity than a body at the base of the tower. It would retain this eastward speed when released in its vertical drop and so would drop slightly east of its plumb line. However, when Hooke tried the experiment at Newton’s urging, he found no consistent result. This was because the effect is relatively small and was beyond the precision of the instrumentation that was then available. A breezy day could affect the results.

    The inertia was also known but was conceptualized differently. It was not the weight of the body, which is what you are describing. It is what Aquinas was describing in his First Way when he wrote that “anything that is changing is being changed by another.” Essentially, this is Newton’s First Law: an acceleration requires an outside force, only more broadly stated. Inertia is “resistance to change [of state]”

  64. YOS,

    Coincidentally, I just read today in American’s Bishop that Jim Jordan went to the same school at the same time as Fulton Sheen in Peoria, and that Mary Jordan went to the school across the street.

  65. “Michael writes”

    “This in no way justifies any mistreatment of anybody for any religious reason.”

    Says who?

    Here we have Michael 2 deliberately missing the point of the response or just being too keen to disagree. The tail is wagging the dog again.

    There are moral judgements being made all through the above discussion regarding the rights and wrongs of what took place and who’s fault it was and who was a fool and who wasn’t. This is more post- mortem of history and what took place. I would add, by non historians but individuals who have read books to their taste. No doubt on the reading list of all good ‘modern Catholics’. That’s a pretty safe guess.

    If I wanted really to know the truth about history I would go to a good source. Just as If I wanted to know about cameras I’d ask an electronic engineer. History is a minefield of propaganda and bias. There are good sources of historical fact and evidence. If the Catholic commenters on this post were not so biased clearly in their argumentation I would also be more inclined to take what they say on it’s face. Since I’ve been wading through a lot of rubbish and still get nowhere when it comes to the simplest truth I am by now very weary.

    As for who say so Me? Yes I am as entitled to an opinion as anybody else including you Michael.

    To excuse away the actions of the spannish inquisition in such a sleazy way whilst holding the idea that all treatment by protestants was naturally wrong is simply showing bias. I take it by the conspicuous absence of disagreement over Oldavid’s rants about protestants and atheists that this is true. It is implicit in the absence of having been criticised. You may make excuses.

    You say nothing new or interesting about judgement. Nor is your judgement sound in this instance.
    Says me.
    “…the wrong side of a matter about which they have been vociferously arguing …and have a difficult time climbing down.”
    “Fortunately for me I always know what is the wrong side of any and all matters so I don’t have to do any of this climbing down.”

    Ha! That is funny. There was the little matter of the scotch? Was that scotch mist?
    However Michael, this isn’t about you. You may take whatever line you like, clearly, but the Catholic church has rules about what decent is allowed, what positions are considered allowed and so forth This is just politics.
    It is about the Church. Which behaves like a gangster mob by tradition.

    “The Church has no place making judgements on science.”

    Says who; you?

    Absolutely yes says me. The church does and did have an official position on all sorts of matters, the current example being global warming.

    “It is none of the Church’s business to take an official line.”
    Yep

    Says who?

    Me.

    The grand battle is over the existence of God and the resulting alignment of moral codes if so. If not so, then you can do whatever you can get away with.”

    Here, Michael as so often with commentary on here, you are preaching to the choir. Don’t believe the propaganda that is put about by people calling me an atheist or a pagan or a sociopath. Neither clever argument or truth but mud slinging for the sensory appetites of the men who like to live in the dustbin, rubbing their knees no doubt as they go. No better than mainstream media.

    “This is one of the Catholic church’s biggest problems. It is not there to control truth. Hide truth, or adulterate it in any way.”

    Unless of course a church exists for that very purpose (Scientology comes to mind). I allow each church to declare its biggest problems;

    We are currently discussing ‘The Church’ are we not? Or have we changed the goal post? Will you be including the church of satan?

    Other religions have to answer for themselves. Since the Catholic and church of England are both of one Christian religion that is what I am concerned with. In America, all sorts of churches exist as they have a right to. Same here, but we don’t have the same extremes and numbers of whacky anything as in the US. However. I note as I have noted on here before that in every service on a Sunday the creed is read or recited by the congregation for a reason. It includes the words,
    “I believe in the holy Catholic and apostolic church” The same approach is completely absent on the Catholic side and I have been amazed to discover this on reading this now Catholic blog. Absolutely it is something which protestants need to be aware of and guard against. It is now hard for me to say I believe in a Church that conducts itself as the commentary on here implies. I have now to contemplate Catholics as individuals who I know personally and who are nothing like the false witnesses and bullies which does seem to be a feature of a certain element and by policy. So in that sense, my faith in the Catholic church has altered.

    “There are always people wanting history to have happened differently” You being an example.”

    Show me where I want history to have happened differently? What happened happened is what I said and history must be told accurately and without bias. Difficult when for years now fortunes have been spent writing and rewriting what actually happened. As for wishing things had happened differently you are simply wrong about my take on the church and to say that I am wishing things were different is
    1 to pretend to read my mind
    2 to say something untrue.
    Frankly I am delighted that England is not a Catholic country like all the other failures that are. Catholic and C of E coexist without any trouble or strife in England today. It looks as though there’s going to be a threat to that peaceful co-existence and I will be right in there when someone tries to ferment sectarian trouble. Northern Ireland was always about the haves and the have nots. It was gangsters and organised criminals. It had nothing to do with God or Jesus Christ or the virgin Mary for that matter. Neither does any of the nasty anti Christian, (in both senses) ranting on here.
    Viewing a happening with sadness is not the same thing as arguing as Oldavid does, If only…and the follow up excuses for why people did what they did or said what they did on such a matter of now uninteresting science. It is the Godwin’s law of scientific and religious discussion to bring up Galileo.
    Galileo was a Christian, for a start. The rest is history. Unless, of course, some want to empower a new Spanish inquisition. (I believe the old one was never actually dismantled) Once bitten twice shy.

    As for what you enjoy doing with your time? That’s your concern. I would say though, don’t take up preaching any time soon. Stick to cameras, legal or illegal ones, covert or overt, permission granted or not. It’s your conscience.

  66. Joy replied. Thank you! The parts that I do not additionally comment on either exist in agreement or at least do not require further comment if disagreement although you might be interested in which it is.

    “There are moral judgements being made all through the above discussion regarding the rights and wrongs of what took place and who’s fault it was and who was a fool and who wasn’t.”

    Indeed; that is my point, more or less. You make judgments, so do I, but if there’s a difference it is my libertarian point of view — I choose for me and you choose for you. But by making these judgments “global”, you show that you choose not only for you but for me and everyone else.

    “If I wanted really to know the truth about history I would go to a good source.”

    Unfortunately, all history books are written by people with a bias. You approach the topic with a bias. It cannot be any other way and that fact alone makes it not exactly “truth”.

    “Just as If I wanted to know about cameras I’d ask an electronic engineer.”

    You would do well to do exactly that since essentially all modern cameras are electronic. But it still isn’t “truth” since some aspects of cameras are style rather than fact.

    “History is a minefield of propaganda and bias.”

    That it is.

    “There are good sources of historical fact and evidence.”

    Maybe, but here we go with the *global* statements again. What you consider good maybe I do not, and what I consider good maybe you do not.

    “If the Catholic commenters on this post were not so biased clearly in their argumentation I would also be more inclined to take what they say on it’s face.”

    That of course is your own bias! Who should you talk to to get information about Catholics? It would seem obvious that you should talk to Catholics.

    “Since I’ve been wading through a lot of rubbish and still get nowhere when it comes to the simplest truth I am by now very weary.”

    Where were you trying to go? That you feel you have gotten nowhere means you do indeed have an intention or expectation of what you expected to find at the end of your journey.

    “As for who say so Me? Yes I am as entitled to an opinion as anybody else including you Michael.”

    It is interesting to watch this realization develop upon you. It is quite liberating!

    “To excuse away the actions of the spannish inquisition in such a sleazy way whilst holding the idea that all treatment by protestants was naturally wrong is simply showing bias.”

    That seems to be a non-sequitur; or in other words, I have made no linkage between any or all treatment by protestants nor have I made excuses, nor do I need to, for the Spanish Inquisition.

    “Excuse” is what a judge can do; you offer an excuse and see if it is adequate. This kind of language shows that you are strongly bound to the idea of a universal morality, and a universal judge, from whom you seek to be excused from penalty.

    Instead, you can approve (or not) specific or all actions of the Spanish Inquisition, or any or all actions of protestants; but that’s a rather broad field so it would be better if you made judgment on specific behaviors.

    “However Michael, this isn’t about you.”

    Sure it is. You struggle with my libertarian detatchment from your absolute morality. I have not offered my own simply because you already have one. As is said in the movie “Avatar”: It is difficult to add to a cup that is already full.

    “You may take whatever line you like”

    Naturally! It’s called the internet and this isn’t your blog. I do have to be mindful of our host.

    “the Catholic church has rules about what decent is allowed, what positions are considered allowed and so forth.”

    And so do you. Apparently your rules differ slightly from that of the Catholic church. In order for Galileo to be judged as having been mistreated, some Catholics violated your behavioral rules!

    “It is about the Church. Which behaves like a gangster mob by tradition.”

    Gangster mobs are extremely common; hardly limited to Catholics. Recent examples include behavior by SJW Snowflakes and BLM.

    “Absolutely yes says me.”

    I salute an awakening libertarian. It is likely that all persons make their own judgments, but to awaken to that fact and take responsibility for it is refreshing.

    “The church does and did have an official position on all sorts of matters”

    Many churches do that, sometimes in an advisory role; varying degree of compulsion in other words. Can you be an Anglican and almost anything else? Yes; Anglicans have almost no rules. Because of that they also have little social power. Catholics, Baptists and Mormons have well structured rules and to be a “good” any of these your social life is fairly well regulated and aligned; but from that comes social power.

    “Don’t believe the propaganda that is put about by people calling me an atheist or a pagan or a sociopath.”

    I have not encountered that neither would it be particularly influential. I am by nature not a herd animal. All of these things are judgments of course based on someone else’s moral compass.

    “We are currently discussing ‘The Church’ are we not? Or have we changed the goal post? Will you be including the church of satan?”

    Yes, yes and no. The topic is “angry atheists”; not “angry anti-Catholics”.

    Therefore all religions are presumably tarred by the “atheist” brush when in my observation essentially all atheists are actually anti-something, anti-Catholic, anti-Methodist, anti-Baptist; whatever they grew up with and which inhibits their pleasure seeking.

    “I note as I have noted on here before that in every service on a Sunday the creed is read or recited by the congregation for a reason”

    I suspect that the reason is “inertia”. 🙂

    When I attended a Lutheran service I noticed that the Athanasian Creed and the Apostles Creed, on facing pages of their book, seem to say quite differently on the nature of God and neither is particularly comprehensible.

    Mormons don’t have a creed per se but I suppose the “articles of faith” is about the same thing.

    “I believe in the holy Catholic and apostolic church”

    Alas, no apostles!

    “It is now hard for me to say I believe in a Church that conducts itself as the commentary on here implies.”

    That didn’t exactly make sense; while I have heard this phrase “believe in” something all my life I wonder if it means the same thing to others. In some cases it means “subscribe to and obey” but the plain meaning of the words is that I believe Catholics exist. Well, yes, they do.

    “So in that sense, my faith in the Catholic church has altered.”

    As has mine in mine for similar reasons but I have a finely compartmented mind easily separating “church” its docrines and principles from “church” a hugely varying body of people some of whom are Christian (faith, hope and charity) and many of whom less so.

    “Show me where I want history to have happened differently?”

    Making moral judgments on past events implicitly invokes a wish for it to have been different, for Galileo to NOT have been mistreated.

    “to say that I am wishing things were different is 1 to pretend to read my mind 2 to say something untrue.”

    Since I am pretty good at reading minds through words I doubt I erred. Do I misread your words, and hence your mind, that you do NOT wish for there not to have been a Spanish Inquisition?

    “It is the Godwin’s law of scientific and religious discussion to bring up Galileo.”

    You got that part right! WUWT mentioned Catholic and the resulting stampede of “Galileo” persuaded me to mention the 14 off-topic mentions of his name.

    I have enjoyed and appreciated the commentary here pertaining to Galileo and his peers and competitors, and why they were peers and competitors, in the 1600’s. Back then astronomy wasn’t exactly a profession; people like him that did not grow his own food had to have a “patron”; royalty, church or governments — and in those days governments didn’t amount to much generally speaking. So it was a sport, nearly a contact sport, the truth of a claim didn’t matter as much as being dramatic about it and bringing fame and credit to your patron.

    It is of course very similar to global warming patronage and claiming.

    “I would say though, don’t take up preaching any time soon.”

    On the contrary; that is what I have been doing and am doing, but in a different way I suppose. The truth is out there; making others THINK is the hard part and a good preacher merely opens the doors of your mind to the possibilities inherent in what you already know. Sometimes that requires to break barriers and boundaries and get “off script”. At my church a couple of years ago the teacher said, “Is anyone here perfect?” — that’s terribly cliche’ so I raised my hand and said “yes!” Looking around I saw another man doing likewise so we congratulated each other on being perfect.

    The lesson was (probably) intended to excuse his bad behavior because everyone has bad behavior, in other words, don’t judge me (or anyone else) because you are also bad. It is extremely common for people to use this erroneously as a “proof text” and so I like to point out that the very next paragraph explains how to judge, advises bishops they *must* judge and they must be a husband and father so he knows how to judge and discipline his family and by extension also his parish, church, or whatever. All people must judge right and wrong for themselves!

    When Jesus said (or it is written that he said) Be ye therefore perfect, I accept that it is possible, in this life, to be perfect. If that requires modifying what you think “perfect” actually means, then that is what you do, rather than taking the easy road “nobody’s perfect.” If it is commanded it is possible, and not just barely possible but probable for almost anyone with relatively minimal effort: mostly a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Faith, hope and charity. Got those covered? yes? You are perfect. Welcome to the club.

  67. Ho hum! The sanctimonious libertarians have taken over from the angry atheists.

    A self-righteous libertarian (no matter what kind of “free thinker” they claim to be) is a relativist… in which case the idea that the “truth is out there” (which implies that there is an objective truth to be sought) is the kind of self-contradiction to be expected from such wizardry. Rather like the agnostic: “the only thing you can know is that you can’t know anything”.

    It boils down to “the truth is in here”… i.e. my opinion (or lack of) is the truth.

    I’m jolly glad that the people who make aeroplanes don’t think that physics is that arbitrary.

  68. Oldavid wrote… well, not sure what exactly. “I’m jolly glad that the people who make aeroplanes don’t think that physics is that arbitrary.”

    I agree! Perhaps the next time we discuss making aeroplanes this will be an important consideration. Meanwhile, being an atheist carries with it the interesting proposition of having to define the thing you believe does not exist (or at least accept someone else’s definition of the thing that does not exist).

    Very relativistic indeed; a good observation.

  69. Michael 2 —

    As I wrote earlier, even Marx got that right.

    At its core, atheism is not reason. It is the negation of God, nothing else.

    “Atheism, as the denial of this unreality, has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God, and postulates the existence of man through this negation; but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation.”

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm

  70. being an atheist carries with it the interesting proposition of having to define the thing you believe does not exist

    Oddly enough, I’ve never seen this done. At most, I’ve seen denials of invisible sky fairies or beings much like humans but with super powers. I’ve never seen a glove laid on the God of Aristotle, Plato, ibn Rushd, Maimonedes, and the rest. Given that one of the definitions in question is “Existence Itself,” one would have a pretty hairy time denying that Existence does not exist.

  71. This comment is split as the comment box is deleting the comment and not allowing typing. Furthermore, it appears to have nothing to do with the length of the comment. The illness of the old laptop has finally found it’s way to the brand new one.
    Speech software and magnification being affected the most.
    Michael 2

    But by making these judgments “global”, you show that you choose not only for you but for me and everyone else. Of course, if I say there’s ‘No excuse for x’ means that the guilt is a given, whoever and wherever it occurs. Murder is murder, there is no excuse.
    There is pardon where innocence is later discovered. There is clemency but that follows the judgement stage. Just to be clear, there is the guilt which is the verdict and there is gilt which is the emotion. These are not the same but both exist. Guilt and shame are not the same either.

    Now this is not complicated. Nor On Judgement:
    Criminal law is what concerns me. Socially, mistreatment of people is generally and globally call it what you like unacceptable. It is within closed networks and in small enclaves where all sorts of bullying and intimidation is a viable option.

    It is a given that everybody is biased. Strange that you thought it necessary to point this out in defence of the commentary on here.
    Bias is not something which is consistent. There is severe bias, for example and there is slight bias. You will say that the judgement of how much bias there is simply makes the bias impossible to measure but I am afraid this is not something you will find anyone to agree with except to pose. I note the extreme bias of commentary on here.
    If there is an overriding disappointment then it was this discovery. So I conclude that if I am going to receive information or listen to ‘facts’ from someone then I need to know something of their tendency to give way to bias. The best judges are not biased.

    “Unfortunately, all history books are written by people with a bias. You approach the topic with a bias. It cannot be any other way and that fact alone makes it not exactly “truth”.”
    Yes, It is evidence and some pieces of historical evidence are absolute truth, The Magna Carta, The Crown Jewels, to use silly examples.

    You cannot possibly think, that you are conversing with someone who thinks political statements are absolute truth? I have never met a person who believed that the truth they speak would be accurately characterised in that way. I have however been accused of it several times on here. The truth that is spoken is as good as our knowledge. In some people’s case it would be better stated as it is as good as their ignorance. Something like a testimony can be truthful or nobody would bother to ask. To say ‘gotcha’’ because a statement of politics or a statement of a well known and considered opinion is being misrepresented as absolute truth is, in a word, cheating!

    Truth is not relative. It might appear that people argue and insist on a thing being true but that is still based on the amount of knowledge which informs their statement of truth.
    I have heard it said that this means that is to say that truth is relative.
    The truth is ‘out there’ but it cannot always and mostly be known. This does not mean that continued search for truth has to stop or stagnate, or that Chief Nockenpotty has told us all we need to know and the rest is commentary.

    Keats has some interesting and truthful things to say about irritably reaching for facts and reason. The person given to loving statements of pure logical language by which I mean non literature, would say that is an appeal to ignorance and would entirely miss the point.
    He goes on to say ’this brings no revelation’. He is right, I think.

    “There are good sources of historical fact and evidence.”
    Maybe, but here we go with the *global* statements again. What you consider good maybe I do not,” We generally only use the parts on which there is agreement if we want a result.

    The statement in question was a judgement of the commentary mainly where it comes to history and particularly on the matter of Thomas Aquinas. Having watched the debate I find it not straight forward, also assuming, extremely so, Caveat Emptor.

    This is not to say something final about truth of an argument but it is certainly to say that I have formed an impression.

    ” …about Catholics? It would seem obvious that you should talk to Catholics.”
    Yes, there are all types. What I discover is that the Catholics I know and have known through life are not the same flavour, shall we say, as those who have flown and landed on this merry little tree potted on the good ship Briggs.

    Those I’ve known have been rather more realistic about the church. I have known Catholics who stopped going to mass or stopped believing as well as one who went to mass twice and three times a day; grew up with Catholic neighbours;, played on the streets on our bikes, built dens, performed to passers by and charged them for that privilege! I am a member of a choir and we spend most of our time singing in the Catholic or Anglican churches. One Catholic member said something recently about her dog in conversation and it struck me how she would be shot down in flames for saying such a thing around here. Something about playing God and so not having her dog spayed. Their’s no doubt she takes her faith seriously. I also know of one who committed suicide at age 21 in response to the backdrop of Catholic “social power” as it has been described.

    The biggest opponent is often a good source on any subject. If I were talking to a priest I would expect bias and it would be completely welcome.

  72. “Where were you trying to go? That you feel you have gotten nowhere means you do indeed have an intention or expectation of what you expected to find at the end of your journey.”
    Michael, here I would rather not indulge the matter any further. There are snakes about.
    “To excuse away the actions of the Inquisition in such a sleazy way whilst holding the idea that all treatment by protestants was naturally wrong is simply showing bias.”
    That seems to be a non-sequitur; or in other words, I have made no linkage between any or all treatment by protestants nor have I made excuses, nor do I need to, for the Spanish Inquisition.”

    No, Michael, if you remember correctly it was Oldavid who made the remarks about Galileo, protestants, witch burning and holier than thou Catholics. It was me who said that this in no way excuses mistreatment of a person on religious grounds. So you go from there to saying that ‘you’ don’t have to give an account. Nobody said you did. If you think that the Spanish inquisition was a good thing it’s your right to hold that view. There’s a reason why today it has no power although technically it never went away but has been renamed as I recall.

    “Excuse” is what a judge can do; you offer an excuse and see if it is adequate. This kind of language shows that you are strongly bound to the idea of a universal morality, and a universal judge, from whom you seek to be excused from penalty.”

    You see all you have to do is ask.
    If I say there is no excuse then I say that the guilt is on the individual who mistreats someone in fashion of the Spanish inquisition. You are not going to find anyone anywhere else, for example who will say,
    “Let’s have the Spanish inquisition back again, medieval style”
    Except, perhaps some very unusual and rather sadistic individuals of which there is always a small supply from some nook or cranny in Christendom.

    “Instead, you can approve (or not) specific or all actions of the Spanish Inquisition, or any or all actions of protestants; but that’s a rather broad field so it would be better if you made judgment on specific behaviors.”

    It would be better for you. However, I’m not buying the idea that because they did some good they weren’t on balance a very bad thing. That remains my conclusion. If they made nice wine or were kind to old ladies who didn’t say boo I don’t give a fig.

    “However Michael, this isn’t about you.”
    Sure it is. You struggle with my libertarian detatchment from your absolute morality. I have not offered my own simply because you already have one. As is said in the movie “Avatar”: It is difficult to add to a cup that is already full.” No I don’t and you don’t know about my ideas outside of what is written here. I simply haven’t given much of what I think. I have still given too much though, which is used and abused elsewhere as evidence of goodness knows only what.

    Avatar? Michael don’t bore me with sci-fi. It is the worst form of entertainment outside of watching The Spanish Inquisition Goes Quantity Surveying A For A Sociology Project’s Eco Build in Eastern Europe’s Culture District. Director’s cut.
    The theme music is fine, I like Adeamus very much even though I can’t spell it.

    However, I haven’t a clue what your’e talking about. I don’t object to your Libertarian anything since I don’t know that about you.
    You do enjoy the usual illness of arbitrary binning or grouping of thinker types?

    “You may take whatever line you like” Naturally! It’s called the internet and this isn’t your blog. I do have to be mindful of our host.’

    You may take any line you want, i.e. you may think what you like or conclude what you like.
    This does not have to be done mindful of anyone. Certainly on giving commentary, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    “the Catholic church has rules about what descent is allowed, what positions are considered allowed and so forth.”
    And so do you. Apparently your rules differ slightly from that of the Catholic church. In order for Galileo to be judged as having been mistreated, some Catholics violated your behavioral rules!” (I am not a church, I am an individual person with all of the freedom that entails.)

    Oh Michael, nobody sensible would argue that Galileo wasn’t mistreated. To do so is like I say, showing an uncomfortable level of bias.
    The important thing missed here is that the Church wasn’t the government. The church had the power of the law to keep Galileo under house arrest for ten years or so amongst other things. That is neither liberty or freedom of thought or expression, leave aside the sheer wickedness of it. I’m sure if a man was kept under house arrest for his views on climate change he would consider this to be mistreatment.

    So to try and say in any form other than the obvious, “that’s normal for the day” is to say something that although true, gives no indication for us as to what God might judge. Which seems to be what people actually argue about. Everybody thinks they know God best.

    It is to give pardon subconsciously and then say so should everybody else. Why not just admit that it was a blot on the copybook and move on? After all this was a church, not a government. That medieval times were brutal and cruel, not just occasionally but a lot of the time is a fact.

    “Gangster mobs are extremely common; hardly limited to Catholics. Recent examples include behavior by SJW Snowflakes and BLM.” Yes, so? What’s a BLM? It took weeks to discover what an SJW was I thought it was a sex thing! Until someone wrote out in full, it wasn’t googlable although my google was nobbled for quite a time.

    Anglicans have almost no rules: (Not true, they use the same bible). Because of that they also have little social power. Catholics, Baptists and Mormons have well structured rules and to be a “good” any of these your social life is fairly well regulated and aligned; but from that comes social power.” Baptist churches in England come under the banner of the church of England along with methodists. The only churches that use those ‘powers’ are Plymouth Brethren who are particularly cruel to their members. Much child shunning, misuse of substances and general rebellion often results.

    Or do you refer to social pressure. which works in any social group it is the same in the Anglican church, part of the effect of fellowship. There are always social dynamics. As for shunning Jesus made a point of showing that this was wrong.

    “The topic is “angry atheists”; not “angry anti-Catholics”. Nor is it Angry Catholics, although they are the ones who are mostly angry, it seems with the angry atheists these days.

    I’m interested to hear all about it. I don’t find angry atheists annoying any more because the arguments are mostly false ones on both sides. People are annoying for all sorts of reasons. Used to be affected quite severely by my old friend Luis Dias, bless him, but more so Dawkins and Hitchens in particular. However when one sees how elements of the other side behave you can hardly wonder at the atheist outrage. They don’t need it or want it but they have my sympathy, that’s it. People hold positions for a reason, i.e. if they give a thing a thought.

    “It is now hard for me to say I believe in a Church that conducts itself as the commentary on here implies.”
    “That didn’t exactly make sense; while I have heard this phrase “believe in” something all my life I wonder if it means the same thing to others. In some cases it means “subscribe to and obey” but the plain meaning of the words is that I believe Catholics exist. Well, yes, they do.” , Michael yes, I thought that when I was fourteen and first read the thing but of course a little deeper thought reveals ‘I have faith in,’ which then really means trust and acknowledgement of another Christian group. It prevents trouble.

    What didn’t make sense? What I say is that given my lack of trust in the Catholic Church, which is recent development, I can’t say that creed and mean it. It isn’t true. I have to contemplate believing in the goodness that is within people who are of the Catholic faith. The Church official politics and doctrine is not currently to be trusted. Perhaps I would have always thought this had I had the knowledge I now have. The Church will henceforth mean ’the ‘ordinary people’ or some visual imagined cue bypassing all the cloak and dagger.

    “Making moral judgments on past events implicitly invokes a wish for it to have been different.”
    Trivially so, yes, in the same way as wishing anything bad had never happened. However it is not a matter for contemplation such as is the habit of the whatiffers. Acceptance of what happened in medieval history comes with an understanding of the times. The perspective of and knowledge of a modern person imposed on a medieval person is something only a very strange person would do. However my point is that this is exactly what Catholic excusers are doing when they wish Galileo hadn’t behaved as he did. It does not alter the moral rights and wrongs that Galileo was mistreated. Just as Christians being fed to the lions is morally wrong and is wrong in the eyes of what is written in the bible and frankly the eyes of any civilised compassionate human being. There is an actual distinction there which I don’t think is understood. This is not moral relativism at all.

    This is why it is toxic that the law today all over the world is stepping into the realm of sin rather than crime. We are heading back to a time rather like the medieval but the ones holding the scales are secular. That’s the difference, tyranny is tyranny whoever holds a tyrannical power. People must be allowed to live free from folks grabbing them and holding them off the roof.

    I said Inquisition mistreated Galileo because that was what happened. What Oldavid is doing and which is missed here was,
    “if only he had done X or not done X” So my point is to say that given all that everybody knows for sure about Galileo, who was not deserving of mistreatment on either account. It is cheeky to moan about negative Catholic PR impact and lay the blame at his door.

    I learned all about moral relativism from Luis Dias many years ago. I learned, the hard way, that I am not one. One shouldn’t expect to have to constantly declare moral credentials in order to take part in a discussion. Furthermore, the truth is no more true or false whoever’s telling it, obviously.

    I thank you Michael for not doing that. Since time is the most precious thing we have, thank you for taking the time.

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