IS THE VATICAN IN DECLINE?

Ireland has just elected its ninth president.  He is 70-year-old Michael D.Higgins – women’s rights advocate, poet, humanitarian.  Michael Higgins is also a Catholic and he takes up his office when the Catholic church in Ireland is in turmoil.  Some Irish Catholics are leaving the church, others have stopped going to Mass and for most respect for the hierarchy has plummetted.

On top of all this the  Irish government has announced it will close permanently its embassy to the Vatican.  This stunned Rome coming from the most Catholic country in the English-speaking world.  Incidentally, in Ireland there was little objection to this move.  The government said it was closing the embassy as a cost-cutting measure.  But most people saw through this and the move was seen as resulting from Catholic authorities in Rome and Ireland because they tried to obstruct the investigation into child sexual abuse.

There is another issue at play here.  Does this reveal the declining prestige of the Vatican.  Many countries now have two ambassadors in Rome – one to the Italian government and another to the Vatican.

Will other countries now do what Catholic Ireland  has done — save money closing their embassy to the Holy See and allow its ambassador to Italy carry on with the relationship.

What do these embassies to the Vatican do, what do they accomplish?

Should Canadian consider closing its embassy to the Holy Sea which costs us many thousands of dollars?

Is the Vatican in decline?

What do you think?

66 Comments »

  1. 1

    Yes. Oh, yes.

  2. 2
    jim Says:

    Lady Janus – You sound as if your having a big “O”
    Tony – Are you in Vancouver this afternoon?
    I just have that innard, rather that gut feeling.

  3. 3

    Jim, if you are trying to say you could hear me, then you better get to an otolaryngologist and have your head read. Absolutely the wrong accent on a nonexistent syllable…

  4. 4

    Closing embassies, around the world, including the Vatican, should be considered by all countries, if they have out lived their worth.
    Churches are empty and closing…why would this be a surprise?

  5. 5
    Barbara Says:

    In a time of tight government purse strings, it makes a lot of sense to close embassies to postage stamp countries and annex the services to the nearest large embassy. The Vatican State as a geopolitical entity belongs to another century. Any power and influence it has is in the arena of moral suasion — and that is diminishing quickly. The Vatican’s fortunes have risen and fallen over the centuries. If it gets its balancing act together, it will get the respect it craves. The balancing act I refer to is one between the eternal values it purports to espouse and the wisdom gleaned from well-intentioned worldly sources. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves is a phrase that comes to mind.

  6. 6
    Jim Says:

    Neil – Someone put the wrong photo of the pope in your blog. That photo was taken when he was a member of “Call in the Clowns” Jim

  7. 7
    John Says:

    “If it gets its balancing act together, it will get the respect it craves.”

    I’m not so sure that’s true. Even if the Catholic Church rebounds in some way, shape or form in the future, I don’t believe the same will hold true for the Vatican. It’s days are numbered.

    BTW that photograph scares the hell out of me…..which I guess is what a pope is supposed to do.

  8. 8
    Neil McKenty Says:

    The curious thing is that, as they go about their work draped in black skirts, I don’t think the male celibate septuagarians have a clue that the Vatican is burning around them.

  9. 9

    As life gets more complex, some people return to church to hear a message of hope and clarity. In my experience, I never got that from the Catholic Church.

  10. 10

    When I look around me I see no religious organized body bearing any credibility, be it The Vatican or any other see. They are all vestiges of the past and too embroiled in wordly politics.

  11. 11

    There is a survey making the news right now that puts “catholic” into perspective. Among the findings:

    Only 30% of Catholics say “Vatican authority” is important to them. What about priestly celibacy? Not a big deal — only 21% think it’s relevant. Even opposition to gay marriage and opposition to abortion scored 35% and 40% in terms of “importance,” respectively.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/11/14/survey-says-catholics-are-becoming-less-catholic/

    As I’ve long suspected in my personal dealings with catholics – none of them take it too seriously, they are mostly just cafeteria catholics these days…

  12. 12

    Do I understand? A cafeteria catholic, picks and chooses whatever suits them?
    If so, I was one- I couldn’t support the ban on birth control or abortion as a fundamental right of all women.
    I am long since removed from even arguing the points. I also favour Gay marriage.
    I could not receive absolution in any catholic church if I admitted, in confession, my sinful thinking.
    10 Hail Mary’s “ain’t” going to fix me.

  13. 13

    Yes littlepatti – your definition of “cafeteria catholic” is correct. And I suspect that the majority of catholics are of this type. Certainly every single catholic I have ever met was… which made me wonder why they bother to claim catholicism at all!

  14. 14
    Jim Says:

    I am a Roman Catholic. My thinking today, is that I am very grateful for everything the clergy have taught me. As to the future teachings from the clergy, thanks but no thanks, don’t call me, I’ll call you. I must always remember, however, that I and my fellow Roman Catholics, who are on the loose, are the church.

  15. 15

    Just to clarify. I haven’t given up on God. I know that God never gives up on us!

  16. 16

    @Jim:

    I have to wonder whether you are a serious Catholic… Do you agree with the RCC on birth control? Homosexuality? Everything?

    Are you going to break my streak of meeting Catholics who don’t actually follow the rules or are you, like littlepatti was, a “cafeteria Catholic”?

    littepati wrote: “I know that God never gives up on us!”

    Unless you’re starving in Africa, or enduring a drought, flood, fire, terrorism attack, etc… That “God” sure has a strange way of “not giving up on us!”!

  17. 17

    Joe, we have it within our means as a society of humans to fix ALL the man made problems in the world.
    I believe that God does not punish us, He does not cause harm to us. If he wanted a society of robots, he could have. He gave us free will.
    That’s all I can offer on the subject, except:
    The fastest growing Christian churches are found in those countries with people who have absolutely nothing.

  18. 18

    littlepatti wrote: “The fastest growing Christian churches are found in those countries with people who have absolutely nothing”

    This is not surprising in the least… Religion has nothing to offer safe, secure and happy people (which is why religion is declining in countries whose citizens are safe, secure and happy). The only people religion has a chance with is the hopeless. It’s easy to prey on vulnerable people “who have absolutely nothing”! They have no hope, no dignity – they’re ripe for a dose of God and a false sense of hope.

    It is truly one of the sadder aspects of religions that they prey on the vulnerable in this way.

  19. 19

    littlepatti wrote: “we have it within our means as a society of humans to fix ALL the man made problems in the world.”

    What about the problems that aren’t “mad made”? What about the tsunami hitting Japan? That caused incredible damage and misery and wasn’t man made in the least! God seems to have “given up” on them at that time…
    What about the baby being born with severe birth defects? Isn’t God giving up on them?

    Note: I don’t think God is a jerk for doing these things. It’s my position that there are no gods – which would explain why (random) bad things happen.

  20. 20

    God is not the “weather man…or woman”.
    I have a handicapped child and never felt abandoned.
    I find it interesting that godless people are the most angry debaters, in a religious discussion. I don’t fault you for being godless. I respect your opinion, and I even feel a modicum of pity. (I’ll pray for your peace of mind). :-)

  21. 21

    littlepatti wrote:”I find it interesting that godless people are the most angry debaters, in a religious discussion.”

    I find it interesting that when a religious person “debates” religion with an atheist they almost always claim that the atheist is “angry” or an “angry debater”! Talk about paranioa!

    Tell me patti – which of my comments come off as particulary “angry”?

    I will note the patronizing tone you invoke when you wrote: “I even feel a modicum of pity. (I’ll pray for your peace of mind).”
    I suppose the smile-face might imply that you’re only kidding – but I’m not sure.
    For the record – I already have “peace of mind”, but by all means continue to interface with your imaginary friend on my behalf! anything that hinders your interaction with the real world is a good thing! :)

  22. 22

    PS: A group from Sarnia, Ont. named Samaritan’s Purse, went to Japan for a month Oct/Nov and helped rebuild some homes in a hard hit area. That was a real humanitarian effort- Ordinary Canadians, who took time off of work to help others-they worked 12 hours, 6 days a week, made friends, and lost weight!
    They make all Christians proud.

  23. 23

    JOE! Breathe. 1-2-3 breathe.
    Heavenly Father, show Joe how to find inner peace and calm.
    There! It’s done-
    I can get back to my real world… renovating the basement.
    I prayed for help, but he answered back. “I don’t do basements”.
    SHOOT!

  24. 24

    littlepatti wrote: “A group from Sarnia, Ont. named Samaritan’s Purse, went to Japan for a month Oct/Nov and helped rebuild some homes in a hard hit area.”

    Sure… but where was “God”? ;)

    I know that many (real) people care for the human race. There are many great charities (even secular and atheist ones!). Richard Dawkins runs an excellent charity that helped a lot of people in Japan too!

  25. 25

    I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t reply to my request:

    “Tell me patti – which of my comments come off as particulary “angry”?”

    I’ve re-read my comments so I understand why you ignored this request – no reasonable person would find any “anger” in my comments.

  26. 26

    “God is not the ‘weather man…or woman’.”

    Wrong. According to your own mythology, your diety created everything — including the weather — and is responsible for it all!

    “I find it interesting that godless people are the most angry debaters…”

    Who is angry?

  27. 27

    I know that many people of all backgrounds and beliefs rushed to help in Japan.
    I was not excluding them and their wonderful efforts.
    I said “Joe, we have it within our means as a society of humans to fix ALL the man made problems in the world.”
    I believe that. The fact that I don’t work diligently at that, from my safe, secure, happy world, doesn’t make me right & the concept wrong. I am complacent, but in my heart I believe we have all the tools needed to fix the world. That would mean, I would need to be a much better Christian person than I am & you would need to be a much better person than you are.
    It seems to me that SOME people are always angry (or let’s say combative) when faced with a subject they know nothing about.
    I can’t explain the Bible on this forum, we believe that God created the world & created man. He gave us free will. And he doesn’t “control” the weather. At least it’s not within our particular belief system.-However, I have learned that it doesn’t hurt to pray for good weather for your BBQ or rain for the Prairies. Prayer is meditation and a journey inward. If you meditate (or pray) you understand what I’m saying.
    He didn’t come down and fix my leaky basement either. Dang.
    I am not going to make any further comments on this subject.
    I offer my opinion, you offer yours and that’s all it’s about. N’est pas?

  28. 28

    littlepatti wrote: “I would need to be a much better Christian person than I am & you would need to be a much better person than you are.”

    That is your assumption that you know me and what I do to help people…
    I would say that I could certainly do more to help people than I do – but I would never assume to know that you have the same fault. That’s pretty insulting (though I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way.)

    littlepatti cont’d: “It seems to me that SOME people are always angry (or let’s say combative) when faced with a subject they know nothing about.”

    What is that supposed to mean? You’re clearly running from your earlier statement: “I find it interesting that godless people are the most angry debaters, in a religious discussion.”
    Since I’m a “godless person” and we’re having this “religious discussion” I had to assume you were referring to me. I called you on it (asking you to produce the comments you claimed were “angry”) and you seem unable or unwilling to back your statement up. It’s quite telling…

    littlepatti (hoping nobody noticed she didn’t back up her statement) wrote: “I am not going to make any further comments on this subject.
    (snip snip) N’est pas?

    You seem to be the one unable to discuss religious matters rationally patti… too bad.

  29. 29

    I found it interesting that I said that I have a handicapped daughter, and didn’t get one comment about that.
    Yet you are “ragging” on the angry issue.
    You’ve used a lot of !!! and ???- referred to the poor as “no hope, no dignity”, vulnerable,”ripe for a DOSE of God” “interface with your imaginary friend”.
    I would say they are all a bit “edgy”.
    I wasn’t just referring to you in the angry debaters sentence. But if the shoe fits…
    I have been called, paranoid, irrational, patronizing,-my religion has been called Mythology.
    I really don’t think that I have ever called anyone down for not believing in God.
    It’s a personal choice. But, I have been plenty insulted when I mention that I do believe in God.
    I opened this can of worms…see my comment no:15- Hey! I know better!
    TIME! :-)

  30. 30
    Jim Says:

    Littlepatti – There is one thing I learned about agnostics many years ago. Never argue or get into a discussion with them. They have dedicated theirs lives to getting to know our Bible better than even the Pope. In reading up on the Bible they try to find things that they believe don’t work, to fit in with their negative philosophy rather than reading it and trying to make it work.
    After I had finished reading the bible.the first time I put it down and said “that is a good book to live by” I grasped the meaning of life from it. It hasn’t dawned on me to pick apart those parts of the Bible that I don’t understand, because I don’t have to, as I do get the gist of it. People who walk around with a moniker like “agnost” are signalling that they are confrontational, and also in Joe’s case, by not beginning their proper name with an upper case “A”, tells me that it is made a Freudian slip and that doesn’t think much of himself. Agnost keeps on harping about man-made things, especially religion. What he doesn’t grasp is that Jesus never revealed if God had a religion. Because the Kingdom of God is within us, we inherently know that God is Omnipotent and that he does not need a religion. But I have a surprise for agnost. If he truly believes in everything he says from the very core of his being, God will accept that belief and will call Joe to join us in spirit some day.

  31. 31

    “I found it interesting that I said that I have a handicapped daughter, and didn’t get one comment about that.
    Yet you are “ragging” on the angry issue.”

    Possibly because your having a handicapped daughter is not something we can change by discussing it, but your accusing others of being “angry” becuase they are “godless” IS.

    And your religion IS mythology. Everyone’s is. Mythology is not a negative; it’s simply a category.

  32. 32
    Jim Says:

    Tony – Was it that bad that you had to escape to New Jersey

  33. 33

    Thanks Jim, What a great description of “faith”.

    LJ How do you propose to change…by discussing anger? I think that I pointed out the angry, intolerant comments in No:29. And why are you defending Joe?
    And you should argue with Webster on the definition of Mythology.
    And btw- Joe asked about a baby born with defects “is God giving up on them?
    That’s a question, which suggests discussion.
    Okay, I take it back- You guys are NOT angry. You are NOT godless, you are just ignorant.

  34. 34

    littlepatti wrote: “referred to the poor as ‘no hope, no dignity’, vulnerable,’ripe for a DOSE of God’ ‘interface with your imaginary friend’.”

    But you neglect to show how these comments are “angry”. Claiming that poor and hungry people in places like Africa have little hope and are ripe pickings for a con-man offering false hope is ~not~ anger – it’s accurate. And you do (think you) interface with an imaginary friend – how can you deny that? It’s simply the truth and I’m not sure why the truth hurts or embarrasses you so much.

    And as Janus already said, your religion ~is~ mythology – why should saying that be seen as angry? Why should religion get a free pass? In discussing religion you seem to think every negative statement is made out of “anger” when it’s simply the way I see it and not angry at all.

    Jim wrote: “People who walk around with a moniker like ‘agnost’ are signalling that they are confrontational, and also in Joe’s case, by not beginning their proper name with an upper case ‘A’, tells me that it is made a Freudian slip and that doesn’t think much of himself.”

    Nice ad hom Jim! It’s good to see you have nothing to offer the discussion as usual… btw – “agnost” is the UNconfrontational little brother of “atheist”. It might not surprise you to learn then that I’m actually an atheist now.

    Jim cont’d: “What he doesn’t grasp is that Jesus never revealed if God had a religion. Because the Kingdom of God is within us, we inherently know that God is Omnipotent and that he does not need a religion.”

    Blah blah blah… it’s all meaningless UNTIL you provide some meaningful evidence that god(s) exist.

    littlepatti wrote: “You guys are NOT angry. You are NOT godless, you are just ignorant.”

    You really have trouble understanding how language works patti… you’re right that I’m not angry – but I ~am~ godless (we all are) and proud of my intellectual abilities used to arrive there. The third adjective ~does~ apply to someone in this discussion… here’s a hint: it’s not me.

  35. 35

    I am ready to bet that SOME of you “intellectuals” didn’t get out of high school.
    Thus: Ignorant on many subjects-so instead of formulating your own opinion, you need to argue, slam, and demean someone else.
    Your opinions lack substance in a real debate, they are just combative.

    I’ve said many times- I don’t want to argue & defend my point of view. I want to state my opinion and am very interested in other people’s opinion.

    I gather from all the “palaver” that you don’t believe in God. Aside from that, I only see that you are angry that I do.

  36. 36

    littlepatti wrote: “I am ready to bet that SOME of you ‘intellectuals’ didn’t get out of high school.”

    Classy patti… wwjd eh?

    littlepatti cont’d: “I want to state my opinion and am very interested in other people’s opinion.”

    Unless you disagree with the other person’s opinion – then you’ll simply ignore the substance of those opinions and just complain that the commenter is “angry”.

    littlepatti cont’d: “you don’t believe in God. Aside from that, I only see that you are angry that I do.”

    And yet when you are infomred that I am ~not~ “angry” you don’t believe me. When I point out that the statements you claim ~are~ angry are in fact ~not~ angry you ignore that.

    No – you aren’t interested in anyone’s opinions when it comes to religion as you are clearly too sensitive to handle actual criticism of it.

  37. 37

    “Your opinions lack substance in a real debate, they are just combative.”

    Pot and kettlism, girl. Look in a mirror, sometime.

    “I’ve said many times- I don’t want to argue & defend my point of view.”

    And yet, you continue to do so! Why are you blaming everyone else for your doing what you say you do not want to do and yet clearly cannot resist doing?

    “…you don’t believe in God. Aside from that, I only see that you are angry that I do.”

    In that case, you really need to get your eyes checked, because you are “seeing” things that do not exist.

  38. 38
    Jim Says:

    Joe – To be able for you to see what I have to write about God’s existance, you would need a pair of glasses. That is why it is a waste of time for anyone to even try to explain Him to you because you can’t see. To quote your contribution in rebuttal to my last offering all you could say was “blah,blah,blah”. That is all the proof I needed to point out the correctiveness of a remark I made in the past, that we should never get into a discussion with yo-yos. It seems that you have gone from bad to worse when you switched from agnostic to athiest. Now you are really far out in the space, that God didn’t create.

  39. 39

    Jim wrote: “Jesus never revealed if God had a religion. Because the Kingdom of God is within us, we inherently know that God is Omnipotent and that he does not need a religion.”

    Can you ~really~ not understand why this is meaningless ~until~ you provide evidence (any evidence) that god(s) exist??

    It’s like positing that unicorns have golden horns… it’s meaningless until unicorn are shown to exist.

    I notice you quote the “blah blah blah” part of my reply but ignore the meat of the reply… Nice job.

  40. 40

    Hi Jim- Thanks for you’re comments. I give up, when I get a “whiff” of that beligerence. “Birds of a feather”.

  41. 41
    Jim Says:

    Joe – Having noticed that you are a switcher from agnostic to athiest, maybe you will switch on the light, and if you put on your glasses you might be able to see the Light. But there is a problem at this stage. God has made the scene just for you because you are struggling so hard to find answers to your dilemma. What I would like to know, without asking God to prove He is God, such as asking him to perform miracles, what would it take for you to accept that the real God is standing right in front of you, and is talking to you..

  42. 42
    Barbara Says:

    One book I read in grad school, Knowing and Unknowing by Michael Novak, had a profound effect on me. One point he made is that both believers and nonbelievers face the same blank wall. The difference is in our explanation of that experience.

    Hurling epithets at one another — I am looking in both directions! — is pointless and won’t convince the other side of the “error” in their thinking. What impresses anyone is a life well-lived, with kindness and generosity of heart. Let’s be nice to one another because it will shame the other side.

  43. 43
    Barbara Says:

    Sorry, the book is Belief and Unbelief.

  44. 44

    Thank you, Barbara, for the Voice of Reason!

    Sounds like an interesting book. I’ll look it up… :)

  45. 45
    Jim Says:

    Barbara your complaining about commenters hurling epithets at each other, doesn’t exactly play sincere, especially when you hurled one at Neil, in which you said he contradicted himself when he wrote an opinion on the subjects of Penn State and the R.C.Church earlier this week.
    Barbara, Joe and I are getting along just fine. Joe, for my own edification could you please find time to contribute an answer to my request, I asked of you in this blog?

  46. 46
    Barbara Says:

    I’m not perfect, Jim. I sometimes go over the line — especially when I sense an irrational or overboard bias. However, calling a person out for what appears to be a contradictory or incorrect statement is part of debate. An epithet is a disparaging word or phrase used instead of a person’s name. I state what I feel is a discrepancy and ask for a clarification. I do not call that person a nasty name. I tend to write in the first person, speaking for myself, or about a third party. I am very cautious about speaking for another person or point of view.

  47. 47

    jim wrote: “Having noticed that you are a switcher from agnostic to athiest…”

    It’s not so much as “switching” from agnostic to atheist – it was more a matter of understanding the terms and labelling myself more appropriately. I’ve always been an atheist but in my younger years I thought (wrongly) that agnostic was a nicer, milder term for atheism.

    jim cont’d: “…you are struggling so hard to find answers to your dilemma.”

    What “dilemma” do you imagine that I’m “struggling” with? I can’t imagine…

    jim cont’d: “…what would it take for you to accept that the real God is standing right in front of you, and is talking to you.”

    Good evidence. That’s all it would take… good, solid evidence. Like the “real God” standing in front of me talking to me – that would do it!

    When the specifics of particular religions are presented they never cease to be ridiculous. Some people choose to explain the ridiculousness of their relgions by claiming the stories are allegory while others accept the ridiculousness wholly.

    I have never been presented with decent evidence that any god(s) exist – and thus I don’t see any purpose in putting my faith in something I find wholly unbelievable and at the same time harmfull to humanity.

  48. 48
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Joe,
    would you realize it if God stood in front of you and talked to you?

  49. 49

    Heidi asked: “would you realize it if God stood in front of you and talked to you?”

    Would he be wearing his halo? ;)

    Frankly, a god (or gods) actually existing would be the best possible scenario. It would answer a lot of question and perhaps we could actually find out what god really wants of us. It would make life MUCH easier to navigate. It’s not a choice I have made (to disbelieve in god(s)), it’s simply what I believe. I can no more decide to believe in god(s) than I can decide that I like the taste of celery – it’s not a choice, it just “is”.
    But the simple fact of the matter is that there is no decent evidence that any god(s) have ever existed. It doesn’t make rational sense and is impossible for me the believe.

  50. 50
    Jim Says:

    Joe – The “good evidence” you ask for is standing right in front of you. Let’s say He says “Joe, allow Me to introduce Myself – I am God. What would you like to ask of Me, that an answer would prove that ‘I am who I am'”. I have faith that you can ask the quintessential question, Joe. Go for it.

  51. 51

    Jim wrote: “The ‘good evidence’ you ask for is standing right in front of you.”

    Is there any chance you could be a little more specific and less vague? You say there is “good evidence”, but completely fail to mention this evidence.
    It seems like you’re saying something like: ‘look: a rainbow! Therefore god’. That isn’t convincing in the slightest…

    Either admit that there is no “good evidence” or present the evidence for all to see…

    Hmmmm… a question for god that would lead me to believe it’s really him? How about: ‘what did I dream about last night?’, or ‘what is my fondest memory of my year in Germany when I was 10?’
    I don’t really see the point of this though… what is your point?

  52. 52
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I think we will not get much further in this discussion unless we use terms precisely. Joe insists that no evidence exists for God’s existence. If Joe means scientific evidence he is correct. There is none.

    Furthermore, I would contend that faith in God is not based on reason, but neither is such a belief unreasonable..

  53. 53

    “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:”
    Jeremiah 5-21

    – 1769 Oxford King James Bible ‘Authorized Version

  54. 54

    Neil wrote: “I would contend that faith in God is not based on reason, but neither is such a belief unreasonable.”

    If the faith is “not based on reason”, then by definition it’s “unreasonable”. Isn’t that right?

  55. 55
    Jim Says:

    Joe, I’m cutting to the chase here. When you asked the person standing in front of you the two questions you posed, (the dream and Germany) and He answered correctly with information that no one in the world knew except you, would you then agree that you are speaking to God or as a good athiest would you say that He was a mind reader? Joe, on second thought, don’t answer my question. Let’s settle with “to thine own self be true”.

  56. 56
    Barbara Says:

    Not really, Joe. One can make what appears to another an “unreasonable” demand, but back it up with reasons that make sense to you. I think a better dichotomy is rational vs irrational. Rational, to me, means based on evidence, logical, substantiated with concrete proof. Irrational is without a shred of logic and not based on evidence, impossible to prove.

    Under which of those categories would you classify poetry, an appreciation of beauty, loyalty without personal gain, a thirst for life even under difficult circumstances, striving for what seems to be an impossible goal, self-sacrifice … ? I don’t think they fit either one. Yet we make room for them in our lives. Quite rational people will do things that defy logic, but are meaningful to them. For some people, this includes a belief in God.

    There would be no quantum mechanics if scientists were wedded to what seemed ironclad logic.

  57. 57
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Joe
    I do not know about the halo but I know that God gave us choices. So I respect yours.

  58. 58

    Jim wrote: “…would you then agree that you are speaking to God or as a good athiest would you say that He was a mind reader?”

    You clearly don’t know anything about atheism or what a “good athiest(sic)” would do with solid evidence for god(s)… I made it pretty clear in a previous comment that life would be FAR easier if there were god(s) and we knew what they (he) wanted. This would be a good thing.

    Being an atheist doesn’t meant that I don’t want there to be god(s) – it just means that I don’t see any evidence that there are god(s). That’s a big difference.

    @Barbera: My comment was directed at Neil’s comment. I think you’re correct to some degree, but when Neil states that “I would contend that faith in God is not based on reason, but neither is such a belief unreasonable” I think he’s contradicting himself. You can’t have it both ways!

    @Heidi: Thank you. I wish more people tolerated a disbelief in god(s) and didn’t assume we’re evil for our stance.

  59. 59
    Jim Says:

    Memo to Jim – Remember that old mnemonic, i before e except after c or when used as A, as in neighbour or weigh, – but the ditty does note apply to the word atheists. Secondly, always remember that it makes more sense to believe that the big bang came from something and was initiated by someone, rather than to think it happened all by itself from nothing.

  60. 60

    “…it makes more sense to believe…”

    That depend entirely upon who is doing the believing and why. What “makes sense” to you may very well make no sense to someone else. And sometimes for the same reasons.

  61. 61

    jim wrote: “…it makes more sense to believe that the big bang came from something and was initiated by someone, rather than to think it happened all by itself from nothing.”

    Of course I strongly disagree with this statement.
    Believing that it was “initiated by someone” or “came from something” just leaves you having to explain what that “something/someone” is and how that “something/someone” began. It doesn’t have any practical meaning, it just shifts the unknown to “something/someone”.
    It might make sense (to you) to simply say that this “something/someone” has always been there or doesn’t require a beginning – but that’s just special pleading for which there is NO evidence. Basically it’s a non-answer.

    The big bang is the natural result of the laws of gravity and quantum mechanics – the scientists working on this (Hawking et al) don’t posit that the big bang “happened all by itself from nothing” because that idea is insane (and incidentally is only used by religious people when talking about how their God started the universe). Steven Hawking’s latest book makes an excellent scientific claim as to how the universe happened and why and it doesn’t invoke any magic or “it’s always been there” special pleading – just science.

    There is no decent reason to believe that god(s) exist or that they’re required to explain anything about the physical world – science is all that you need in that regard because science, unlike religion, has a track record that works.

  62. 62
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    Joe,
    can you explain love to me? Where did it come from?

  63. 63

    Heidi asked: “can you explain love to me?”

    Sure. “love” is an emotional reaction to something. It’s the feeling one gets when certain chemicals are released in the brain.

    Heidi cont’d: “Where did it come from?”

    It’s one (of many) results of evolution. Like hunger tells us we should eat, “love” tells us to charish and keep safe the object of said “love”. The “love” we feel for our offspring is a perfect example – it’s makes evolutionary sense that we should do all we can to keep our offspring safe (and therefore propagating our genes) and thus the feeling of “love” would be selected for (if you don’t feel “love” you won’t protect your offspring and your genes will die out).

    I am not a biologist so this might not be fully correct – but it’s how I understand it.

    And you should note that understanding the chemistry/biology of this IN NO WAY takes anything away from the feelings of “love” that I enjoy. Like knowing that my enjoyment of grilled steak is the result of chemicals in my brain doesn’t make me enjoy steak any less, knowing that “love” is also the result of chemicals acting on my brain doesn’t make the “love” I feel any less real or powerful.

  64. 64

    And BTW – I’m not sure what “love” has to do with atheism/God, but I do know that even if we couldn’t/didn’t understand “love” that it still wouldn’t be evidence that god(s) exist. It would just be evidence of our ignorance about “love”.

    Here is an apt cartoon for this very thing:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/24/yes-the-religion-and-science-conflict-only-cuter/

  65. 65
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    joe
    I find your explanation of love very interesting. Thank you for expressing it.

  66. 66

    Sure Heidi, no problem.

    I just want to reiterate – because this is an important piece that is often overlooked – that knowing how something works scientifically does not make the “something” any less real, beautiful or amazing!

    It’s often said that atheists are cold hearted and without feelings – that atheists think everything is just random chemicals mixing in certain ways. This just isn’t true – atheists feel love and enjoy a beautiful sunset just as much as anyone else, we just happen to be interested in knowing how it all works and why. Knowing that a rainbow is the result of light bouncing of water particles in the air doesn’t make a rainbow any less beautiful and amazing.

    Cheers.


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