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Pope not welcome.
Posted: 21 January 2008 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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George,

I agree, it is obviously possible to rise above immoral teachings, but this is a somewhat rare occurrence.  I think the point Erasmus is making, is that if God had a hand in the matter of choosing the best person to become Pope, as is implied by their methodology, then you would think God could find a candidate as flawless or immaculate as has been done in the past (Mary).  It’s as if God is advocating an upbringing in Hitler youth as un-harmful or character building process, despite the collateral damage.

Scott

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Posted: 21 January 2008 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Kirk,

For all the reasons it is wrong for the church to punish Galileo, it would be equally wrong to punish other people whose ideas defy the norm.  I would no more force Yoichiro Nambu or Michael Behe to recant their views, imprison them or ban their ideas from dialogue than I would anyone else.  These are the pitfalls of totalitarian establishments and faith.  It doesn’t matter that Galileo’s science wasn’t sound enough to convince the hardy (hearty) minds of the church.  The church had no right to take the actions they did.

I would take the same tit for tat response as the university.  Scientists are grudgers and the church knows it, which is why it took so long to get a semi formal apology.  Lets be real, this is a political move on the behalf of reason and inquiry against totalitarianism and faith.  In group / out group behavior, simple as that.

Scott

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Posted: 21 January 2008 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Retrospy, that is sort of what I am getting at.  Of course, there is no god.  It is people who place this man on a spiritual and moral pedestal, and who regard him and his moral views as “godly.”  A former Hitler Youth is a bad choice as a symbol of “godlyness,” which equates to goodness in christianity.  The same can be said about other of his past roles in this world.  For example, his role as grand inquisitor.  In this sense, Karol Wojtyla really does look like a saint compared to JR.

To be clear about how I see myself as a humanist, I may hold the thoughts and opinions of people like Paul Kurtz, Peter Singer, or Doug or George or one of the other forum moderators to a high regard.  But I don’t take their views as “moral authority.”  I respect what they say because they talk sense, if and when they do.  They have no significance as symbolic figures in representation of a “highest moral ideal.”

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Posted: 21 January 2008 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 21 January 2008 09:04 AM

I respect what [others] say because they talk sense, if and when they do.  They have no significance as symbolic figures in representation of a “highest moral ideal.”


Exactly right. Ratzinger can be critized for whatever nonsense might come out of his mouth. I agree he should not be respected because he might represent some “highest moral ideal,” but he should not also be criticized for being born at the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Posted: 21 January 2008 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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retrospy - 21 January 2008 07:55 AM

I think the point Erasmus is making, is that if God had a hand in the matter of choosing the best person to become Pope, ...

Nope, Scott, this is clearly not the point Erasmus is making.

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Posted: 21 January 2008 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Well George,  FWIW I don’t blame “the man named Joe” for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time.  As far as I’m concerned, he’s “only human.”

You are right.  Nobody’s perfect.  We all have skeletons in our closets.  We are all products of a deterministic universe who can not be blamed for matters of our circumstances… It’s about what you do here and now, not what’s in your past… etc.

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Posted: 21 January 2008 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Sign the Petition to support the Italian Lecturers who wrote a letter against the visit of pope Ratzinger at University La Sapienza, Rome. They have been attacked from many silly journalists and politicians.

http://www.petitiononline.com/386864c0/

Actually it’s the most active petition on petitionline.com

Related article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7188860.stm

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http://www.myspace.com/scienceoverreligions

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Posted: 22 January 2008 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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retrospy - 21 January 2008 07:55 AM

George,

I agree, it is obviously possible to rise above immoral teachings, but this is a somewhat rare occurrence.

How rare? And let’s be clear - there’s immoral teachings, and there’s paying attention to them, and there’s actually believing those teachings. Obviously immoral teachings don’t make you immoral, beleiving and internalizing them is the trouble. No-one here has given a shred of evidence that Benedict is or ever was a generally immoral character, especially the Nazi kind.

Maybe a little *evidence* would be nice. I’ve already half-demolished the ‘charge’ against Benedict about Galileo (there’s the matter of the trial being just, versus the punishment - B endorsed the justice of the prosecution, not the punishement, and nothing in the quoted passage says otherwise.)

I’ve also pointed out just how weird may be one of the chief opponents of Benedict’s opening ceremony - once more, she compares Galileo to Zarathustra. For pity’s sake, has no-one a comment on that; or is she not a fit subject for debate, ‘cause she agrees with the assembly here?! It sure seems to me that one ought to take her anger with a larger than average grain of salt, and even open her up to a little more criticism. Why a petition? To what, make sure it’s on paper that a bunch of people happen to not like Benedict? Nay, sadly, it’s more likely that’s how academics justify themselves as ‘important’ at La Sapienza.

It’s as if God is advocating an upbringing in Hitler youth as un-harmful or character building process, despite the collateral damage.

Read what you wrote very carefully. ‘An upbringing in the Hitler Youth’ - hm. My mother was a little girl in Germany during the war - she had the same upbringing as Benedict. If you knew no more than that, would you find it so easy to characterize her as you have Benedict - if all you knew was she was ‘brought up’ with ‘immoral teachings’? So far, you’ve only explicitly criticized Benedict for that. (beyond his words about Galileo, which just don’t warrant the bile exuded in this thread. His words sure don’t merit a petition to prevent - what? another commencement address by His Holiness??)

You know, if this thread were about the upbringing of Jesse Jackson or Joseph Lieberman, 90% of the things said about Benedict here would have been suppressed as just beyond the pale of rational discussion. Because much said here is beyond the pale of rational discussion.

I’ve yet to see any proof for *anything* said here against Benedict. But don’t bother for my sake. As I mentioned earlier, I am not interested in defending Benedict. Jackson wondered why. My reply to Erasmus will make it clearer.

In puzzlement over the meaning of the ‘free’ in ‘freethinker’

Kirk

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Posted: 22 January 2008 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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retrospy - 21 January 2008 08:45 AM

Kirk,

For all the reasons it is wrong for the church to punish Galileo, it would be equally wrong to punish other people whose ideas defy the norm.

Benedict (as Ratzinger years ago) didn’t say he agreed with the punishment, but with the prosecution.

So this is a ‘red herring’ - you’re accusing Benedict of something he just didn’t do, if you read the quoted passage.

Recall the specific point - Benedict was not ‘welcome’ because he said, many years ago, that the Church’s trial against galileo was ‘just’ - not the punishment, the trial itself. I think i’ve shown well enough that there’s a case to be made that the trial was just (tho’ ‘englished’ by some of the characters involved).  Not that it’s certainly just, just that it’s ‘arguable’ as the saying goes. A reasonable man might believe it. Second, there’s the problem that this little frappe is based on one remark in decades of writing upon much more important and controversial matter. Surely there are meatier sins to ‘get’ Bnedict on?? I’ve also pointed out that the opposing professors don’t sound quite as full of sapience as the name of their university suggests. Again, i’m not just blanket condemning them - but it’s *arguable* that they’re overdoing their opposition, at the least.

So it’s safe to conclude that there’s little rationality in condemning Benedict *because of this incident*. And that’s the only grounds upon which i’ll defend Benedict. I’m just defending him in this narrow case.

Sincerely,

Kirk.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 08:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Dear Erasmus. I can do no better for you than to just summarize all the things you’ve said about Benedict.

(1) clearly a mean and intolerant man
(2) his views are both abhorrent and epidemically harmful to the world. 
(3) After all, he is a former Hitler youth. 
(4) Ratzinger should not be given an academic podium as a scholar
(5) his rights to think and say what he thinks should not be stifled.

(6) He is the moral authority and leader of the world’s largest religious denomination, with more influence than possibly anyone on moral issues.  Not an appropriate choice in my opinion.

(7) Ratzinger is an absolute nut.

(8) I don’t condemn ... the Joey Ratzinger (or myself) for the “sins” of our pasts.  Nobody’s perfect.
(9) neither you nor DJ nor I pretend to be know a “god’s” wishes or possess “spiritual” authorities over others.
(10) Joey spends a great deal of his time dishing out moral advice and charging hateful moral judgments upon others with immense authoritarian zeal.
(11) He is represented by his cult as a moral exemplar and a cultural symbol of goodness.
(12) such an “unclean” man is regarded as the closest person there is to god.
(13) The catholic church could have chosen many individuals for the role of"pope.”

(14) They chose a former member of the Hitler youth. 
(15) [Ratzinger] was a repulsive choice. 
(16) And this narrow minded hypocrite of a man is a significant cause for misery and pain for a great deal of people.
(17) There is something very hypocritical, and entirely different, about a pope with such a background.
(18) A former Hitler Youth is a bad choice as a symbol of “godliness,” which equates to goodness in christianity.
(19) his role as grand inquisitor. 
(20) Karol Wojtyla really does look like a saint compared to JR.

Hm.

These are from every post you’ve contributed that makes some claim about Benedict/Ratzinger. I think they speak for themselves. I’ve included any evidence you’ve provided for these claims. Your evidence also speaks for itself.

I’ll only sort out a few details:

(8) is rather drowned out by the rest.
(9) I doubt that you, Erasmus, alone among mortals, can read the mind of Benedict to tell us that he’s pretending anything. I can set it at almost probability = 1 that you haven’t found him admitting to pretending his beliefs in any of his writings.
(10) No-one has a clue what immense authoritarian zeal looks like. Does the man lick his chops?
(11) ‘Cult’ is not the word for a mainstream, traditional world religion, no matter what Erasmus thinks. It simply stretches the word past any utility. Words need to stay put.
(19) there hasn’t been a Grand Inquisitor for over a century, if Wikipedia is any indication. The New Catholic Encyclopedia that’s now online (well, new in 1912 or so) isn’t so clear, but there’s no-one called the Grand Inquisitor since the ‘Holy Office’ was re-organized from the Inquisition, three centuries ago. The article on ‘the Inquisition’ is interesting in its own right, btw. The old-fashioned flavor of the old-New encyclopedia will givea few people a little thrill, also.

By the way, interesting use of ‘Joe’ - will you be calling him Uncle Joe soon, so that the comparison with Stalin will be clear even to a dunce? And ‘JR’ as a parallel with the evil brother in *Dallas*. So one sincere question: why won’t you use ‘Benedict’? Why any insult but his actual (taken) name? And when will a moderator step in? But then such threads have no direction, no evidence, and no permanent impact. So maybe the moderators are as disgusted by this odd conspiracy-theory-plus-intellectual mugging, but know that such things run their course and die alone and unmourned. I’m just too crazy to let it go, while the rest have been keeping their hands off this tar-baby of a thread.

Look, to be blunt. If you need to fart loudly, go ahead. Ben Franklin approved of farting - keeping it in is bad for you, he believed. And it’s not a bad analogy from real farting to needing to blow off intellectual steam. Just don’t take my silence about your multiple claims as proof you’ve ‘won’ in any justified way.

Lastly, by piling up in one place the claims Erasmus has made about Benedict from the ‘con’ side, Jackson now can guess why I earlier avoided defending Benedict even on the very narrow point that began this sorry thread, about some thing Benedict said about Galileo years ago.

Sincerely,

Kirk

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Posted: 22 January 2008 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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inthegobi - 22 January 2008 06:49 PM

No-one here has given a shred of evidence that Benedict is or ever was a generally immoral character, especially the Nazi kind.

No, he is not a Nazi. An immoral character? But of course!

BBCPope rejects condoms for Africa

The spread of HIV and Aids in Africa should be tackled through fidelity and abstinence and not by condoms, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

<snip>

[The pope told the African bishops]: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.”

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Posted: 22 January 2008 08:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Quotes from the BBC article that Scienceoverreligions helpfully gave:

In 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret at the way Galileo had been treated. “The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture,” he said.

Since John Paul was getting his chief advice from then Ratzinger, it’s difficult to see why one would make out Ratzinger’s remarks on Galileo to be so at variance with John Paul’s communique. ‘Just’ isn’t ‘correct’ (rational and successful aren’t identical); the trial can be just but the punishment regrettable.

The academics at La Sapienza signed a letter saying Pope Benedict’s views on Galileo “offend and humiliate us”.

A man’s words about a very dead man cannot rationally offend and humiliate strangers.

They said it would be inappropriate for the Pope to open their academic year on Thursday.

See, why not stick with that, instead of the blather about offense and humiliation?

 

It’s a good thing that someone in Italy has the courage to say no to the Pope.
Stefano, Cuneo, Italy

This was a comment on the article. Heh, this Italian obviously hasn’t knocked elbows with all the anti-clerical Italians out there. ‘Someone in Italy’, ho ho. Like it’s *finally* happend, *after all these years of kow-towing*. Ho ho ho.

“In the name of the secular nature of science we hope this incongruous event can be cancelled,” said the letter addressed to the university’s rector, Renato Guarini.

That’s just weird. Besides, La Sapienza has more than science majors.

In a separate initiative, students at La Sapienza organised four days of protest this week. The first revolved around an anti-clerical meal of bread, pork and wine.

I wish the BBC had told us why bread pork and wine are anti-clerical - or did the writer just want to tell us what they had for dinner while being anti-clerical?

The banner at their lunch read: “Knowledge needs neither fathers nor priests”.

Well, obviously false in the first part. Every student needs a teacher, an intellectual father. And materially false in the second part - natural science was practiced by pretty much only priests for centuries (since they had the education.) There’s also an ‘arguable’ thesis that a certain religious view of the world was necessary for scientific knowledge to grow. I won’t defend it - it’s out there.

Vatican Radio said the protest at La Sapienza had “a censorious tone”.

Is this rather mild response one of the ‘silly’ journalists mentioned in this thread?

For a rather (!) different picture, here’s the link to another forum I participate in:
http://forum.catholic.org/viewtopic.php?f=157&t=47929&p=641269&hilit=La+Sapienza#p641269.

Cheers,

Kirk

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Posted: 22 January 2008 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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inthegobi - 22 January 2008 08:41 PM

The banner at their lunch read: “Knowledge needs neither fathers nor priests”.

Well, obviously false in the first part. Every student needs a teacher, an intellectual father. And materially false in the second part - natural science was practiced by pretty much only priests for centuries (since they had the education.) There’s also an ‘arguable’ thesis that a certain religious view of the world was necessary for scientific knowledge to grow. I won’t defend it - it’s out there.

Hum. You can have mothers who are teachers, or even teachers who have no children. Or you can be self-taught. So the first disjunct is true.

The second is also true, on its face. Indeed, insofar as priests seek to stifle any knowledge that conflicts with their a priori “faith” about “things unseen”, priests can be a positive hazard to knowledge. As they were to Galileo.

I can’t think of any time period of “centuries” in which natural science was practiced pretty much only by priests. The only time when they had the only education was during the Middle Ages when what was going on was not natural science but natural philosophy of a particularly abstruse sort. I am well aware that this time period has been all the rage in history of science classrooms over the last couple of decades (yes, I pulled my oars in those classes too), but the work done then was very thin beer. One could pretty well jump from Ptolemy to Galileo and not miss a beat; perhaps give Copernicus some weak applause on the way.

Of course, once science really got started (that would be after the enlightenment) it diverged quite markedly from the priests.

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Posted: 22 January 2008 08:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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George - 22 January 2008 08:40 PM
inthegobi - 22 January 2008 06:49 PM

No-one here has given a shred of evidence that Benedict is or ever was a generally immoral character, especially the Nazi kind.

No, he is not a Nazi. An immoral character? But of course!

BBCPope rejects condoms for Africa

The spread of HIV and Aids in Africa should be tackled through fidelity and abstinence and not by condoms, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

[The pope told the African bishops]: “The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.”

His claim is arguable, not obviously immoral. So the ‘of course’ is just rhetorical dust.

Which of Erasmus’ claims does this support? Is anyone who agrees with him on this matter also one of the Erasmian claims? Benedict says how AIDS (not ‘Aids’) *should* be tackled. That’s what moral advice is supposed to be - about morals, not (directly) about expediency, or efficiency, or the easier path. Ultimately Benedict, no doubt, would claim that anything less then abstinence and fidelity is inefficient, ineffecitve, and ultimately causes more problems than it solves. That’s ‘arguable’ but again, not immoral on its face. It’s only immoral to people who believe abortion is not just a woman’s right but her duty, sometimes. (Having a right to A isn’t the same as A being the right act to do; acting wrongly isn’t identical to it being anyone’s business to stop the act from occurring.)

And - this has little to do directly with that little thing Benedict said about Galileo. That’s the thread. It seems I’ve satisfied the requirements Jackson gave me and I accepted as modified. No-one’s given good evidence otherwise, so far. They fact the thread has has to stray so far might be silent acceptance of my defence.

How about someone starts a ‘Ten Thousand Arguments Against Benedict’ thread, to distinguish it from this thread.

Kirk

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Posted: 22 January 2008 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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dougsmith - 22 January 2008 08:48 PM

I can’t think of any time period of “centuries” in which natural science was practiced pretty much only by priests. The only time when they had the only education was during the Middle Ages when what was going on was not natural science but natural philosophy of a particularly abstruse sort. I am well aware that this time period has been all the rage in history of science classrooms over the last couple of decades (yes, I pulled my oars in those classes too), but the work done then was very thin beer. One could pretty well jump from Ptolemy to Galileo and not miss a beat; perhaps give Copernicus some weak applause on the way.

(raised eyebrow) Thanks much for the vote of confidence in my research. I’m not a full partisan, and I won’t ‘rave’ about anything that’s all the rage - but no, you cannot bypass medieval science, nor its advances, which were slow but real. The main issues were epistemic, not factual, but people need to do groundwork. I’m sorry if you had to pull oars. Some is abstruse, some not. But the math of particle physics - is it not abstruse? Or maybe you meant a different word. Now that I can show there’s good research being done during the Middle Ages (especially in mathematical modelling; developing justifications for experiments that aren’t in situ; and piling up the inconsistencies of aristotelian physics, for which there was practically a cottage industry in refuting), shall we now fall to wrangling over the percentages?

I can think of one very significant advance that any scientist needs to know about - the groundwork and some actual work on experiment. See articles on the method of ex suppositione reasoning. Wallace has a groundbreaking paper on this (from decades ago). Theodoric of Freiburg is a common example, in his explanation of the rainbow (which wasn’t all correct, but the point is he’d made use of an experimental apparatus, simplifying assumptions, and a mathematical underpinning.)

Of course, once science really got started (that would be after the enlightenment) it diverged quite markedly from the priests.

Which priests? All of them? Dalton, the enunciator of modern atomic theory in 1801, was a Quaker (not technically a priest, but a pretty funny bunch of folk all the same). There’s Gassendi, and Fracastoro, and several generations of astronomers at the Vatican Observatory (of course they taught Copernicanism, ever since before 1600 - they just made sure they kept calling it a hypothesis and waited til the advanced class!) Newton’s always a funny person to pin down on religious views, but he’s no friend of the free-thinker on religious matters broadly construed, considering his obsession with numerology in the Bible.

So, hm.

Kirk

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