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Comment: Re:God of the gaps (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48270097) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

The "God of the Gaps" is an argument that, since there are things we can't figure out, there must be a God that did it. I think of it as an argument for people who don't think God could do something outside the limits of their imagination. This isn't what the Catholics do. They believe there is a God that created all things, and hence the laws of nature were God's doing, and evolution was God's way of creating species. They don't use evolution as an argument that God exists.

The "God of the Gaps" argument is more a fundamentalist Protestant argument, where they pick away at evolution until they think they've found a fatal flaw with it, and then say that proves God did it. Even saying that evolution is compatible with Christianity (which the Catholics have said for a long time) removes the God of the Gaps argument.

In your last paragraph, you fail to provide support for Catholic doctrine being at odds with scientific theory. You provide examples of the Catholic church saying some things are immoral, which is not a conflict with science. The use of embryonic stem cells could be immoral even if it's scientifically useful (consider some of the Nazi experiments on Jews in WWII for a parallel). Contraception could have lots of demonstrated benefits and still be immoral. The church can tell people to do things one way because that's the moral way, while knowing it isn't going to work in almost all cases. You and I don't agree with those moral stances, but they aren't anti-scientific.

Removing all the cases where the Church says something is possible but immoral, you have one stupid statement by a Pope in 2009. I don't think that comprises evidence that the church is anti-science.

Comment: Re:Not actually a new stance (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269763) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

The Catholic Church teaches that evolution happened. The Pope just said it did. Therefore, any Catholics who believe otherwise are already considered wrong by the mainstream church. What more do you ask? Should there be a modern-day Inquisition in which Catholics who are Young-Earth Creationists are forced to recant?

As far as telling people to believe goes, I can attest to at least one Catholic school offering at least one course in theology in the lower grades, which my friend who took it described as arguing (and much preferable to the Biblical History, aka "whobegat", class). This suggests that they were trying to encourage people to think about their faith.

I've noticed an idea among some Christians that it's okay if you lose your belief for now, because you're having some sort of spiritual or spiritual-related problem, and that presumably when that's resolved you'll regain it. I don't know how common this is with Catholics.

Really, there's a whole lot of Christians who are very reasonable about most things.

Comment: Re:Trying hard... (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269651) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

"Magic" has some connotations that many people don't like. Let's just consider the possibility that God has worked a very small number of miracles that go against natural law. That wouldn't affect scientific progress or scientific discoveries, since the miracles can be disregarded as misperceptions or lies. The laws of nature would have to be understood as the laws of nature when God isn't directly mucking with things, but since true miracles are extremely rare that would not be a problem.

When we find that so many things can be explained scientifically, and that lots of things that apparently cannot be explained scientifically are mistakes or hoaxes or such, it's tempting to think that everything can be explained scientifically, and this is indeed a good assumption to make. That doesn't mean it's always true.

Comment: Re:Only YEC denies it (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269471) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

Huh? Past the "cogito, ergo sum", there's nothing you're going to figure out from first principles that applies to the real world. (That's not even from first principles, since there's no logical reason anything has to exist. It's an observation that's really hard to get out of.) Anything Descartes came up with in the second Meditation and later was going to be based on his prior beliefs, and I suspect he had a strong desire to come up with some sort of reason to believe the world is real (IIRC, in the Sixth Meditation).

I'm also curious how, using the principle of the Meditations, he was supposed to come to the conclusion that there was no God.

Comment: Re:Only YEC denies it (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269445) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

It's not necessarily compartmentalized thinking, but the natural limits to science. If you can find a way to do objective measurements, you can make a science out of it. Bill James applied scientific methods to baseball and baseball stats (which are objective measurements, although there was a certain amount of subjectivity in making some of them).

If we had some objective means of determining the morality of something, we could have a scientific theory of ethics and morals. We don't. Therefore, to say anything meaningful about morals, we have to come up with something outside the process of science.

Comment: Re:Only YEC denies it (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269405) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

If your churchmates don't really care about the science, that's not really bad. Having a false opinion of something because you never looked into it and never needed to is pretty much harmless. We've all got tons of such opinions. People on slashdot usually have more or less considered opinions on science, but that's because they get interested in it. If somebody's busy trying to make sure poor people have enough to eat, I don't really care about their scientific opinions.

The problems is if they get vocal and insistent about their false opinions, and you said nothing about that. It also appears that any of them who do get interested in science have opportunities to do so.

Comment: Re: Haleluja ... (Score 1) 627

by david_thornley (#48269167) Attached to: Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

There are matters of Catholic doctrine, that Catholics are pretty well stuck with, and there's everything else, which Catholics get to interpret on their own, although there is frequently a strong majority view or lots of discussion. As for why the Pope...why the Dalai Lama? Why an Ayatollah? Why a monarch? These are leadership positions that do not rely on being infallible.

Comment: Re:Will they just pull the words, and ask... (Score 1) 413

by david_thornley (#48268777) Attached to: Ken Ham's Ark Torpedoed With Charges of Religious Discrimination

I'm rather expecting a few people who aren't in Ham's peculiar sect of Christianity to apply, with the intention of filing suit. This is likely going to be seen as a big deal now. Even without that, in Minnesota (at least) it's possible to file a discrimination complaint with the State without all that much expense or bother.

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