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Biotech Science

Pope Denounces Some Biotech as Affront to 'Human Dignity' 1158

Posted by Zonk
from the weighing-in dept.
eldavojohn writes "Today in a speech the pope denounced human cloning, embryonic stem cell research and artificial insemination, citing them as a violation of 'human dignity.' That said, the pope did 'appreciate and encourage' research on stem cells from non-embryonic cells in the human body. The pope encouraged the Vatican to be a leading voice in the philosophy and discussion of bioethics. 'Church teaching certainly cannot and must not weigh in on every novelty of science, but it has the task to reiterate the great values which are on the line and to propose to faithful and all men of good will ethical-moral principles and direction for new, important questions,' Benedict said."
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Pope Denounces Some Biotech as Affront to 'Human Dignity'

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  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:42PM (#22250640)

    Who gives two shits what a kook who believes in invisible super-beings things?


    Far too many registered voters and politicians.
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:43PM (#22250650) Homepage Journal
    Well, it's not as if he had much of a choice of what to say, to maintain consistency with church doctrine. If he encouraged it, there would come some rather unpleasant questions as to what, exactly, would require baptism; if a cloned person has a cloned soul; whether you receive some of the soul of the fetus that gave the stem cells when, for whatever reason, you use said stem cells--all a bunch of nasty theological problems.

    Frankly, is there anything else he -could- have said?
  • by spun (1352) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `yranoituloverevol'> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:43PM (#22250656) Journal
    Catholics who can't conceive are gonna be pissed too. Though I thought nowadays it was acceptable to simply ignore the pope when he makes an ass out of himself.
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orclevegam (940336) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:45PM (#22250696) Journal

    Ethics? We don't need no steenkin' ethics!
    Sure we do, I just don't think that the pope is in a position to judge the ethics of science. That's a job for the scientists that actually understand what they're doing.
  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:47PM (#22250754)
    We listen to engineers and scientists when they have demonstrated some expertise in their fields of expertise.

    Considering how much scandal comes out of the religious leadership field, I'd say religious leaders are no more moral than ordinary people and have no better grasp of ethics than ordinary people.
  • by Abreu (173023) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:47PM (#22250758)
    Well, some geek protestants had to change churches when the leadership all went creationist-crazy... I know I had to :(
  • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:51PM (#22250808) Homepage

    So the majority of people who don't have legs use wheelchairs?

    Though people in religious traditions might disagree with the pope, they nonetheless would express some opinion about his pronouncements, as opposed to Slashdot atheists, who think he says nothing of import for or against their own metaphysical views (or lack thereof).

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:51PM (#22250810)
    If you don't like the research, refuse the treatments when you are sick in the hospital. Why do some religious types feel they need to impart their beliefs on everyone else?

    Don't agree with or like abortion - fine - don't have one. Don't like what you hear on the radio or see on TV - fine also, change the channel.

    Just don't tell me what to do - I have a brain in my skull and I know how to use it independently.

    -ted
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:52PM (#22250830) Homepage Journal
    Not an option. He's the pope. He has to say something, and he has to remain consistent with earlier doctrine--unless he decides to do something other than what he's been doing his entire papacy and take a bold new stance.

    John Paul II might have considered it, but Benedict is extremely conservative and is living up to the 'placeholder' assessment that most people had of him at the time of his election.
  • by nebrshugyo (1216152) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:55PM (#22250874) Journal
    Lets try a thought experiment: pretent that the Dalai Lama had spoken the Pope's words. Are those words more or less palatible based on who says them?

    You don't even need to be religious to see that the commodization of human life, to say nothing of unfettered transhumanism, are not, on their face, good things. Call me a pesimist, but I'm more with Bill Joy than Ray Kurzweil.

    A final thought: if there was the slightest chance that, by a snap of the fingers, I could remove all the harm to others attributed to the Roman Catholic Church, I'd do it - and I'm Catholic. Unfortunately, none of the evils attributed to Catholicism in particular or religion in general would disappear. So the cause must be elsewhere.
  • by Lady Jazzica (689768) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:55PM (#22250884)
    I think his point is that human beings shouldn't be made in labs, as if they were bacteria cultures or something like that.
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:59PM (#22250966)
    ehhh, that position is arguable. That's like saying we should leave it up to a bunch of cannibals to decide if we should be allowed to eat humans in our society. Or leaving it up to the IRA to decide whether more restrictions should be imposed on the sale of shotguns in the US. There's a huge bias involved in saying, "hey, let the scientists decide if we should allow science to progress unhindered or not." Science inherently comes with no ethics. Its a dangerous deal to say let science take care of it. I know my analogies are obviously extreme, but they focus on the point i'm trying to make. You're giving a very important decision to a very biased group. I'm not saying the church is the right one, but I know they at least consider that which isn't scientific (dignity for one is not a scientific principle).
  • by ArAgost (853804) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @02:59PM (#22250974) Homepage
    I think that catholics who can't conceive were already quite pissed off by the fact that they couldn't conceive.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:00PM (#22250996) Journal
    I'm not too sure how an organization that spent decades hiding pedophiles has any business lecturing anyone on human dignity.

    The only thing, apparently, more infinite than God is the human capacity for intense hypocrisy.
  • Pot, meet kettle. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:01PM (#22251006)
    You know what the real affront to human dignity is?

    Organized religion.
  • Secular Humanism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by katorga (623930) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:01PM (#22251010)
    The "dignity of man" referenced by the Catholic Pope, regardless of modern religion, is the basis of the enlightenment and of all modern secular humanist societies and of the concept of human rights. Once the concept of innate human dignity is gone, you end up with societies where human beings are nothing more than raw material for the State machine. As the concept fades you see inhumane state practices appear such as denying health care to the obese in the UK or mandatory abortions in China. The needs of people can be ignored when they become inconvenient or expensive to the state if there is no innate dignity of man.
  • Re:Big deal (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:01PM (#22251016) Homepage Journal

    Close, anyway. First thing I thought when I saw the headline "Pope denounces some biotech as affront to human dignity" was "Most religion is an affront to human dignity, Catholicism right at the head of the pack."

    I don't feel that it is my place to tell them what to believe, but that doesn't make me think they're anything but a bunch of whacked-out loonies, driven by insecurity, fear and an inability to deal with the idea that some questions may not have answers, and others we may never know the answers to.

    Religion is the crack-pipe of the masses. Makes some of them hyper, drives others to euphoria, costs them much time, treasure and effort, all the while debilitating their faculties of reason.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:02PM (#22251022)
    he has to remain consistent with earlier doctrine

    When given a choice between remaining consistent with earlier doctrine and remaining consistent with reality, why should we choose the former?
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RazzleFrog (537054) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:02PM (#22251024)
    It isn't the Roman Catholics you should fear. It is the other Christians who are running the country (meaning the US) right now.
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:02PM (#22251036)
    >> let's just stipulate that there is no god and be done with the pope already?

    Firstly let me make it clear that I personally do not follow any religion, so have no iterest in defending the christian church, however:
    * There is no evidence that proves God doesn't exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit.
    * His point seems to be that this stuff is an affront to human dignity, which has nothing to do with religion. E.g. I for example have dignity yet am not a follower of any religion.

    Actually without reading more than the headline, I think the pope's point is very well made. Personally I feel scientists in some cases are definately going too far. I also have seen more than enough evidence to prove that most companies will do anything to make money for now, regardless of the ethics or wider implication of their actions.
  • Re:dear pope: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FroBugg (24957) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:02PM (#22251044) Homepage
    As a scientist and agnostic, the most sensible delineation I've heard was outlined by Carl Sagan (though I don't know if it was originally his idea or not). At about sixth months, the fetus actually begins to think. There is a point where neural activity undergoes a significant change.

    It seems reasonable to me that what most makes us human is our minds, and thus once a fetus has a human mind, it should be considered human.
  • by ObiWonKanblomi (320618) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:03PM (#22251058) Journal
    It is odd, backwards thinking, and outright excessive for the vast majority of the posters who are stating the denouncement of artificial insemination is the only option for couples who can't have children.

    In many countries across the globe, there are large legitimate orphanages with many orphans seeking new parents. I find it closed-minded the posters here choose not to recognize many of these orphanages are backed by religious organizations including the Catholic Church. It's not like the Church denounces abortion and artificial insemination... they actually "walk the talk" when funding the alternative.

    In contrast to adoption, artificial insemination costs a lot of money and time. The procedure is not perfect, fails many times, and each time can cost in the tens of thousands of US dollars.
  • by Just some bastard (1113513) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:05PM (#22251110)

    Most children didn't have a whole lot of choice regarding their participation.

    Sounds exactly like religion to me!

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:06PM (#22251114) Journal
    First of all, I need you or the Pope to demonstrate that God exists. Then we'll talk about whether the Pope is any better informed on what this alleged being wants and demands than, say, your average auto-mechanic or a half-dead chipmunk.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:06PM (#22251120) Homepage

    Who gives two shits what a kook who believes in invisible super-beings things? The man is irrational and would gladly have us living back in the dark ages.
    Such a comment just confirms what I've said before about Atheists. They don't want people to really have an open mind. Yet they won't agree that everybody is open-minded until they agree with them!

    Look, I don't even recognize the papacy; but the silly attacks on this Pope on Slashdot have got to stop. You aren't even using logic and reasoning in your arguments. You just made two disjointed statements. The fact that the Pope belives in God (obviously) does not imply that he thinks we should abandon Science and Technology. In fact he never attacked anything regarding science. He just made his and the Catholic Churches opinion about the moral-ethical debate surrounding certain research and procedures known. There is nothing wrong with that. Religious people are not the only people who see an ethical dilemna within certain research and procedures. Do you mean to imply that all research is acceptable including research on unwilling medical subjects?
  • Re:Big deal (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Garridan (597129) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:07PM (#22251132)
    This is what I love about slashdot. Every biotech article gets tagged "whatcouldpossiblygowrong", yet every article which mentions religious people saying the same, it's all "religion is all lies".

    Newsflash: if there exist invisible super-beings, then there's no way to tell! If you get all holier-than-thou because you are so certain that unprovability is equal to nonexistance, you really need to read up on Gödel's incompleteness theorem. Your faith that there do not exist invisible super-beings is just as irrational as the Pope's faith that there are.
  • by krog (25663) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:07PM (#22251138) Homepage
    He's the fucking Pope. He defines reality.
  • by BytePusher (209961) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:09PM (#22251176) Homepage
    He might mean humanity as a whole rather than an individual human. It's a somewhat abstract and foreign concept to most Americans(Mostly Christian protestant or post-Christian protestant). I think a crime against humanity doesn't imply that the victims are only those directly harmed by the crime, but humanity as a whole. So, it calls all of humanity to respond to the crime. Catholicism is, by definition, not individualistic. So the pope is in essence trying to act as a voice of caution in the human conscience.

    I think his concern is that certain humans are being selected to die while others are being selected to live depending on their genetics. This is nearly identical to being opposed to genetic-screening during job interviews if you believe that a human embryo is a human life, except on even more ruthless terms(life and death). In other words genetic pre-screening during the interview for a 'job' as someones child.

    I am not Catholic, but I can see why he is concerned.
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:15PM (#22251264)
    I have a lot of experience with this. Its a complex emotional process whichever way you decide to go. It is so emotional and personal that I think both options should be widely available and I respect anyone who makes a choice in this area. I don't assign any moral ranking to these two choices. As for me, I've done both. Both are tough roads but the outcome is pure joy.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:18PM (#22251320) Journal

    A final thought: if there was the slightest chance that, by a snap of the fingers, I could remove all the harm to others attributed to the Roman Catholic Church, I'd do it - and I'm Catholic. Unfortunately, none of the evils attributed to Catholicism in particular or religion in general would disappear. So the cause must be elsewhere.


    The reason I point out the Church's sins, and that of most religions, is because it demonstrates rather well that whatever the particular claims of divine inspiration and guidance, religions are like all other human social constructs. There's no effective difference, either in governance or in command structure, between the Roman Catholic Church, China's Peoples Liberation Army or International Business Machines. The only meaningful difference is the leadership's particular claims as to the origins of their authority.
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:18PM (#22251344) Journal
    That's a job for the scientists that actually understand what they're doing.

    Actually, as a scientist, I would disagree with that. I agree that ethics should be judged by someone who understands what the scientists in question are doing (which clearly excludes the pope) but it should be judged by someone with a little more distance from the issue. Otherwise you end up with a conflict of interest between wanting to see if you are correct vs. doing the right thing.
  • by J0nne (924579) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:25PM (#22251488)

    * There is no evidence that proves God doesn't exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit.
    There's no evidence that proves the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist either...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:25PM (#22251498)
    >> * There is no evidence that proves God doesn't exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit.



    There is no evidence that proves God doesn't not exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit.

    That's why proving imaginary things don't exist isn't science.

  • if my mother (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:30PM (#22251618) Homepage Journal
    was in a emotional or financial situation where bringing a baby to term would cause her undue stress, resulting in a child she did not love, and all the psychological f***ups that accompany that, i would prefer that my mother not continue her pregnancy past the 3 month old part, and she would have done nothing wrong by my judgment

    because before 3 months, what i was inside my mother was not me, and was not alive in any human sense

    there is hamburger on my plate. i will eat it, and it will become the stuff of my organs and bones, it will become human life. so i should look at the hamburger on my plate with the spiritual and legal reverence of a human life?

    pfffffffft

    same observation applies to the blob inside a woman before 3 months

    it's POTENTIAL human life. NOT human life. in any spiritual, intellectual, logical, moral, or legal consideration you can devise
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:33PM (#22251696)
    Why should the null hypothesis be "God exists"?! That's a terrible hypothesis.

    Your point is easily refuted by simple subsitution.

    "There is no evidence that proves an invisible pink/purple unicorn with 12 teeth is not sitting on my desk".

    Should you accept that based on faith alone until someone proves me wrong?

    THINK!
  • I'm not too sure how an organization that spent decades hiding pedophiles has any business lecturing anyone on human dignity. The only thing, apparently, more infinite than God is the human capacity for intense hypocrisy.

    Your statement sounds nice and everything, but it's awfully flawed.

    a) The Catholic Church has not hidden pedophiles. SOME PRIESTS AND BISHOPS have. By your standards, the United States should disappear from the face of the earth since they has decades abusing human rights. Right? RIGHT?

    b) Usually the priests who lecture people on human dignity are NOT the ones hiding pedophiles. If you disagree, I challenge you to mention anything evil John Paul II has done, because he lectured A LOT about human dignity.

    c) All catholics *ARE* the Catholic Church. If you want to say something bad about priests and bishops, don't say "Catholic Church". Say "the Clergy".

    d) By generalizing, you make all the good priests look worse than the bad ones. Because it's the bad ones who are pedophiles, and the good priests are the ones fighting for human rights. Oh but since they're all catholic anyway, they're all part of the same corrupt organization and all should be labelled as hypocrites. Perhaps we should label Martin Luther King Jr. as a hypocrite too, since he endorsed christianity (he was a Lutheran pastor, after all) and Christianity is full of hypocrites?

    I'm amazed how bashing and name calling granted you insightful. You'd be a wonderful Fox News reporter.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:42PM (#22251868)

    He's the fucking Pope. He defines reality.

    And I'm a scientist - so let's test that. I'll hold a piano over his head suspended by a pulley and a rope. The Pope can say that he declares gravity to be heresy. I'll let go of the rope.

    If he really does define reality, he should be in no danger. I have a theory on how the test would end, though.

    The short of it is these people should not be dictating to scientists. Why?

    Read up on what they did to Galileo [wikipedia.org], for daring to suggest the Earth is not the center of the universe - which they just got around to forgiving him for, which took them until 1992 [bibletopics.com] to fucking get around to.

    There is no way these people should have any input whatsoever in a scientific context.

  • by yakmans_dad (1144003) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:43PM (#22251886)
    Wow, to go against reason AND God's decree, they must really hate embryonic stem cell a lot... or perhaps they just want to rake in some more donation from crazy people who want to blame ESC for the moral degeneration of our society.

    You're truncating his argument to make it sound ridiculous. What's hated is the use of embryos. He's arguing that a human embryo has the same dignity the rest of us do. You may reject that -- and that rejection has its own moral danger -- but you shouldn't mis-state his argument.
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:47PM (#22251978) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I think most of the problem is with his conservative stance--he's trying to stay still, as it were, rather than moving with the times.

    And in some places, this works. Catholicism has been gaining a lot of ground in Africa and South America even as it loses influence in the 'richer' countries--leading to, amongst other things, rather amusing conflicts between hereditarily Catholic (but not actively participating) Quebecois and immigrants to Quebec who are 'taking over' the old Catholic churches.

    JPII actually endorsed evolution at one point--though Benedict has made a few noises about that 'intelligent design' nonsense. (And I hear that Ben Stein's buying into that old fallacy with some movie that makes him look like he's trying to be the next Michael Moore--but I digress.)

    As Christian churches go, though, the Catholic church really isn't that bad. Its main problems are its pre-eminence as the largest christian denomination and its two millenia (minus a couple hundred years, if you're counting from the Council of Nicea) of institutional inertia. Benedict does represent the inertial side of things, yes, but he's not forever--and the next pope, the way these things go, should be a bit more on the progressive side.

    What you really have to watch out for are certain of the protestant denominations--they're the ones who're trumpeting creationism, setting up creationist museums, actively picketing abortion clinics, etc.
  • by Irvu (248207) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:47PM (#22251984)
    Artificial Insemination is an interesting one. Basically it is using externam equipment to produce a fertilized egg and then insert it into a woman who otherwize cannot succeed through normal means. It is a well-known practice and can even, for the squeamish, be performed for a married couple using only their eggs and sperm, no external players are needed.

    Interestingly this procedure, well-accepted in most western societies is banned in Italy even for married couples using their own genetic material thanks to the Church. The argument goes something along the lines of: "If god wanted them to have kids he would let them do it normally."

    It is interesting because most /.ers might scoff at the pope and in many countries even ones with large Catholic populations like the U.S. his claims don't carry the weight of law. But in modern democratic Italy he can still arrainge for consenting married couples who want to raise healthy children of their own to be denied it because the process is "an affront".
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:48PM (#22251998)

    if he can come up with a rational scientific reason for not cloning
    There is no rational scientific reason for not doing ANYTHING. Nuking the entire crust of the planet to see if you can get it to liquefy and join with the mantle is a valid scientific experiment. It's an extreme example, but that's the point: science has no morals whatsoever, its only pursuit is knowledge.

    What we need to determine is whether it's right or moral to do something. Is a single sperm considered a human life? I would say no. Is an egg? I would say no. What about a blastocyst? Fetus? It's easy to say that a baby's not a life until they're born, but what if my wife's going into labor, but outside the hospital some jackass punches her in the stomach until the baby dies? Is that assault or is it murder?

    Science doesn't have these answers. If you look purely to science to see whether research should be done or not, you end up skinning Jews alive to see how long they live just as easily as you end up shooting beta particles at a thin gold sheet. Science can give us the information to make those decisions, but science can't make them for us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:51PM (#22252052)
    * There is no evidence that proves God doesn't exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit.

    There is no evidence that proves ghosts don't exist. Until that is found, your [argument that ghosts don't exist] [has no merit]
    There is no evidence that proves midichlorians don't exist. Until that is found, your [argument that the force doesn't exist] [has no merit]
    There is no evidence that proves invisible giant elephants don't exist. Until that is found, your [argument that they don't exist] [has no merit]
    There is no evidence that proves undetectable/invisible spherical beings don't exist. Until that is found, your [argument that they don't exist] [has no merit]
    There is no evidence that proves the Mormon golden plates didn't exist. Until that is found, Mormons are right.
    There is no evidence that proves we're not part of the Matrix. Until that is found [your argument that the Matrix doesn't exist] [has no merit]

    Same goes for anything.

    Proving that some things don't exist is practically impossible.

    We gather evidence. The evidence points to possible conclusions. Some more likely than others.

    There is no proof of the tooth Fairy, we don't believe in it (her?).
    There is no proof of Santa Clause, we don't believe in him.
    There is no proof of many other creatures from many other cultures, we don't believe in them.

    As kids you believed in them because there was evidence... you got presents. Then you got told the truth.

    Same goes for God. Why do adults still believe in God?

    You do not need to believe in God to have ethics.

    As for ethics, I do agree that science has many gray areas. There are gray areas for any Society.
  • by Jewfro_Macabbi (1000217) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:54PM (#22252130) Homepage
    "* There is no evidence that proves God doesn't exist. Until that is found your stipulation has no merit." I propose my theory a giant ball of cream cheese is at the edge of the universe. Can you disprove that? No - well then until you can we should all assume the ball of cream cheese to be true.
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:55PM (#22252154) Journal
    Oil tycoons, and the auto industry were not very happy when scientists started saying that their products were hurting the earth. Of course, they kept on doing it and encouraging every one else to. And they can continue to now. However, there are long term consequences for doing the wrong thing, even if you disagree that its wrong. Rush Limbaugh can get together a bunch of people and have an anti global warming party, and they can feel all nice a fuzzy that its culturally acceptable to disbelieve in global warming and laugh at Al Gore and the Nobel committee. It still doesn't mean they are correct, or that there won't be severe consequences for everyone if we don't do something about it.

    The Pope is speaking on similar moral truths. If allow ourselves to start restricting further and further the definition of life, it will become easier for us to eliminate everyone else that falls outside those boundaries. Humans can't be trusted to decide who lives and who dies.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @03:59PM (#22252220)

    One of us has been force fed, I just don't think it's me.

    They had a problem with him telling people how to interperet the bible, which was their monopoly.

    And therein lies the rub - what happens when an experiment contradicts what's in the Bible? If you discuss your results you are guilty of exactly that.

    "And yet it moves."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:04PM (#22252326)
    Letting everyone make there own independent decisions is all well and good...right up until those decisions infringe upon the basic rights of another person. In this case Pope Benedict believes an embryo (at any stage of development) is a human being, having the basic right to life. So any decision to destroy said embryo is infringing upon its right to life.

    Would you argue that the Pope (and your local authorities) should stand by and let you make any decision your heart desires, including killing your neighbor? I doubt it.
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orclevegam (940336) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:10PM (#22252422) Journal

    There is no rational scientific reason for not doing ANYTHING. Nuking the entire crust of the planet to see if you can get it to liquefy and join with the mantle is a valid scientific experiment. It's an extreme example, but that's the point: science has no morals whatsoever, its only pursuit is knowledge.
    Sure there is. If you nuked the mantle it would in addition to killing lots of people and therefore reducing that countries productivity, also tend to cause all kinds of environmental destruction which has the potential to destroy the biosphere.
    At the bare minimum you could use economic and social theories to show why murdering people is wrong and leads to unsustainable societies. It's possible to argue against things scientifically it's just a lot harder then just saying "because I say so".
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:13PM (#22252478) Homepage Journal
    And the Pope - as a cover-up artist for internationally-organized pederasty? That's NOT a problem?

    Some pole-smoker in a gold hat? Jesus would kick that Pharisee from the temple!
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:14PM (#22252488) Journal
    But if you count the good and the bad that science brings us, we're unquestionably much better off because of science. You can't say the same for religion.
  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:15PM (#22252530) Journal

    They're turning to the true Islam, not that of terrorists.
    As it wasn't the "true Christianity" that murdered hundreds of thousands of people during the time of the Inquisition, it was merely the "actual Christians"? Sure, whatever, "true Islam" may be all rainbows and unicorn giggles, but meanwhile the "actual Muslims" are really sentencing rape victims to 200 lashes for being sluts, and murdering women who don't marry who they're told to (the latter even in America).

    Mr100Percent says:

    Have you ever been in a mosque? It's a peaceful and relaxing place.
    Muhammed says:

    The best mosques for women are the inner parts of their houses.
    I'd thinking the guy with the 9-year-old bride has the more informative quote when it comes to how women are treated.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:16PM (#22252542)

    It's a better comment than you're taking credit for. Religious people really DO think their beliefs shape the universe. That's why Galileo is such a wonderful example. The book says one thing - the telescope says another. Which is right?

    Turns out the Inquisition thought the book was right. Didn't matter that anyone could duplicate Galileo's observations - they're right there in the sky. Anyone with good glass working skills can see the same stuff Galileo saw.

    And it took the Catholics 359 years to admit it. Three hundred, and fifty nine years to admit that they were wrong about condemning a guy who dared to notice that the Earth isn't the center of the universe. Do we really want this medieval bureaucracy clogging down scientific progress?

    A good example of what I'm talking about is artificial insemination. The Catholics are against it - it's another one of those "affronts to human dignity" they're talking about. But when an otherwise sterile couple gets to have a family because of it, it's hard to see how some ethereal affront to dignity has any context whatsoever to the joy having a family can bring you.

    That's why these people shouldn't have any vote on scientific issues. The Church is a medieval institution. It becomes dangerously dated when discussing things in a modern context.

  • by Rolgar (556636) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:19PM (#22252594)

    Well, it's not as if he had much of a choice of what to say, to maintain consistency with church doctrine. If he encouraged it, there would come some rather unpleasant questions as to what, exactly, would require baptism; if a cloned person has a cloned soul; whether you receive some of the soul of the fetus that gave the stem cells when, for whatever reason, you use said stem cells--all a bunch of nasty theological problems.
    It's not so much an issue on the state of the soul, since all souls (if such a thing exists) are created by God on demand. I'm not sure how God would handle the issue of cloned beings and souls. What the Catholic Church is concerned with on this issue is that God is the Creator of all life, and he has created a perfectly good method of creating new individuals that also is an important way for humans to learn who God is. In Catholic theology, human sexual expression is an imitation of the Trinity, where the Father's great intellect is the Son, and the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, and he has given us the gift of sexuality as a way of imitating him by men and women procreating to make children which are the physical manifestation of their love for one another. Any act of sex that rejects this principle, or life creating that does not happen through sex is always to be a violation God's will.

    Unlike the common misconception that the Church does not like sex is strongly misguided, otherwise the Church would be doing God a great disservice to associate him so closely with sex. The Church just disagrees with the way that many people chose to express their sexuality.

    For more or this teaching, look up the Theology of the Body, a phrase that refers to the sexual teachings of John Paul II.
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:25PM (#22252704)

    If you nuked the mantle it would in addition to killing lots of people and therefore reducing that countries productivity, also tend to cause all kinds of environmental destruction which has the potential to destroy the biosphere.
    You're missing the point. The results of nuking the mantle are bad, but science can't show what's bad and why. Your personal morals may say that destroying the biosphere is bad, but there's no experiment you can do to show that it's bad. There is no "evil particle" whose levels go up whenever something bad happens. There's no measurable way to say whether something's good or bad, ultimately it's about someone's opinion and their conscience.
  • Re:Ethics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:31PM (#22252806)

    And religion can guide us in those decisions?...Why should their writings tell us what's right and wrong?
    Religion can be viewed as a moral framework that's been handed down through the generations, being added to and subtracted from to reflect what the people of that time thought was good and just. Morals don't change all that much from one generation to another; as you said, they've been evolved into the human race. If this is the case, then having the wisdom of people that came before guide us in those decisions makes sense. Use your own brain, but don't believe for a second that religion doesn't have something to offer. Even if it's just a bunch of shit that someone made up and that some people took too seriously, at least you have the analysis and the critiques and support for the writings that have come down. Relying on your instincts to solve the problems of morality is like relying on your instincts to say what you should and should not eat. Study and thought should be put into it.

    The other aspect of this is that people change as they go through their lives. I'm only 23, but I know a lot more about life and morality than I did at 18. I'm sure that perspective will change again by the time I'm a father and again by the time I'm a grandfather. Getting more knowledge of what other people have thought were moral through their lives can help balance your own perspective.
  • by KeithJM (1024071) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:40PM (#22252998) Homepage


    If you disagree, I challenge you to mention anything evil John Paul II has done, because he lectured A LOT about human dignity.
    One evil thing that Pope John Paul II did -- he actively discouraged condom use in countries with almost pandemic levels of AIDS. Yes, he also discouraged premarital sex, but people are more easily convinced to avoid condoms than to avoid sex. I'm sure all of those sick and dieing people felt a lot more dignified than they would have if they'd used condoms -- after all, buying condoms can be kind of awkward.
  • by n-baxley (103975) <<gro.syelxab> <ta> <etan>> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @04:50PM (#22253260) Homepage Journal
    >> If you don't like the research, refuse the treatments when you are sick in the hospital.
    Well, okay I refuse all treatments derived from embryonic stem cells. Oh wait, there aren't any. Meanwhile research goes on with adult stem cells which have zero controversy around them and don't kill innocent embryos. How you make the leap from don't research embryonic stem cells to all medical research is beyond me.

    And by the way, what does a person like yourself who doesn't want to hear the pope's views doing commenting? Why not just change the channel. Or maybe you're just trying to protect the rest of us. Well, I appreciate your concern, but I think that the Pope's probably got a little more altruism to his views than you do. I don't know you, but it's just a guess.
  • by CheekyBastard (1142171) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:00PM (#22253466)
    Such a comment just confirms what I've said before about Atheists.

    Nice generalization. I'm an atheist, but just because I don't believe in that superstitious junk doesn't mean I give a damn whether you have an open mind (by my definition, or yours). I don't.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:01PM (#22253472)

    Are you trying to say that anything connected to science is "untouchable" when it comes to morality? Perhaps you would have had a successful career in Nazi Germany, doing scientific studies on Jews.

    It's a lovely straw man you've constructed there, but I'll answer anyways.

    Morality does indeed have a place in science. Just not medieval morality.

    For instance, embryonic stem cells. If you object because you feel that one life is being traded for another, that is a modern and logical stance. You can back that up with rational argument. You can discuss this, make points, make counter-arguments. You can debate.

    If you object because you think God put a soul in there at conception and you're committing an affront to the Creator by using them - well, that doesn't belong in a scientific context. There can't be any discussion, because faith is making the argument. Faith simply believes - there is no room for negotiation. God said it, that settles it.

    That's why the Catholics had such a hard time with Galileo. God said one thing, and now any yutz with $100 to go buy a telescope can prove that wrong. In the end, the Catholics had to "adjust" how they were interpreting the scripture to make the whole "foundations of the earth" thing less literal and more figurative. They moved the fault to themselves, since clearly someone was at fault, and it can't be The Book since it's never wrong. A very clever sidestep, IMHO.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gm a i l.com> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:13PM (#22253698) Homepage Journal
    Your morals are not the same as everyone else's morals--as such, your definition of 'barbaric' will differ; I, for one, consider the standpoint where one lets someone die painfully rather than hurt a clump of cells that may not actually grow into something capable of living on its own to be barbaric.

    Fair enough. But once we start making that choice to extinguish one life to save another, where does it end? We could just as easily go to the other end of the scale and say, exterminate all the muslims pre-emptively rather than risk a nuclear attack on the West, thus saving millions of lives by killing a billion. Or, for that matter, vice versa.

    The point is, once you've given yourself the right to kill to save a life, regardless of the tiniest smattering of cellular humanity that it might be, someone else is going to claim the right for themselves as well, and you've turned discussion about something that we intuitively think should be sacred, into a political punting game. For a more real example, consider the death penalty. Murderers have very high recidivism rate, particularly serial killers. If you kill them, then, you obviously save lives. But some people won't make that moral choice. It all rather depends on whether you think a fetus has more social redeeming value than the likes of John Gacy.
  • by Weirsbaski (585954) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:21PM (#22253804)

    As a Catholic Geek who is big into both (I am studying to be a priest and I write software that will serve me as a Priest), it is important to understand what is going on, the parallels to the Borg collective and what isn't parallel. In the case of the Borg collective, it is a community dedicated to unity through compulsive slavery. The difference is that when we chant our prayers in unison, we are affirming what we have individually chosen to believe (which ought to be in unison with every other Catholic). It is a large organization, but not one based on slavery (like the Borg) but one based on a personal choice. I personally thing that chanting psalms in community is awesome.


    From the Borg perspective, I doubt that many consider it "unity through compulsive slavery"; they consider it as they were created and taught in a group that needs common beliefs and goals, forgoing personal good for the group's good, and assimilation, to survive. Borg that stay in the collective do so "voluntarily", according to their beliefs.

    Compared to the Catholics, which members consider it as they were born and raised in a society that needs common beliefs and goals, forgoing personal good for church's and society's good, and recruiting, to survive. Catholics that stay with the church do so "voluntarily", according to their beliefs.

    From the members' point of view, they're not so different...
  • by bigtangringo (800328) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:22PM (#22253836) Homepage
    I'd suggest that the vast majority of believers haven't honestly considered the possibility there is no god, or that they might've been raised to believe in the wrong one. Indeed, to deny the existence of the Abrahamic god is an unforgivable sin.

    Indoctrination does not really lend itself to free choice; people are tremendously easy to manipulate. It's one of the oldest skills, and now one of the most perfected.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @05:40PM (#22254172)
    Different anonymous coward here.

    What you've essentially said above is that the Catholic church doesn't forcibly brainwash and enslave. Instead it relies on the weakness of the individual ad that you personally think this is wonderful. Hey, most Nazi's weren't forced to march or rally in the beginning either. (Please invoke Godwin if you wish, I have no interest in long protracted arguments with people that refuse to reason)

    The problem is simply this. No religion is logically consistent. Whenever I bring up this fact in discussion with a religious person they start rambling about metaphysics, what can and can't be proven, different kinds of knowledge etc. but the fact is this. You believe things that are unlikely and/or proven false to the best limits of human knowledge. You don't construct arguments on a logical basis but rather on cultural history in the form of books. This simply doesn't allow for self correction the way scientific method does. Religions only change very slowly over time, otherwise they lose their identity and splinter. Instead religions reinforce falsehoods and confuse moral argument (which admittedly is very difficult to construct on logical grounds, but that doesn't mean we should be sheep who chant and look to myths written hundreds or thousands of years ago for our morality).
  • by Zanth_ (157695) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:04PM (#22254568)
    Yes they were intertwined but only in so much as the state had a "recognized" religion. The idea of "Separation of Church and State" in the US was more an experiment in ensuring that every religion had equal opportunity under the law. That is, no one religion would usurp all others. True the Pope did wield quite a bit of power, again, when the monarchs so chose to go against the Papacy, they did so with ease more often than not. In fact, the Holy See was often under the thumb of state powers, particularly in having to "appoint" those hand picked individuals of the State to be ordained bishops and act as nuncios. Too often people make bold blanket statements with regards to the Catholic Church without much knowledge in history whatsoever. I'm not stating you are doing that, but you are certainly mistaken on a few points.

    As for the "charges" brought against him, those listed were for his excommunication indeed, but after the "guilty" verdict, his excommunication was finalized. The secular authorities then burned him not because of his excommunication, nor by the request of the Inquisition but because of his practicing magic and divination. Reading Firpo among others will shed much light on this.

    The point though that must be driven home is that the Catholic Church (as an entity) did not put people to death, secular institutions did. If in particular places examples exist where people who were Catholic and held power killed people (as in Spain for instance) this must be distinguished from claiming "The Catholic Church did it!" Because that is not the case. Rogue individuals or extremists in any organization act on their own in such matters. When discussing the horrors that went on during the Spanish Inquisition, the Pope was attempting to gain control of the rogue bishops and cardinals but was oftne thwarted by the Spanish monarchy at the time.
  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:10PM (#22254674) Homepage
    You wouldn't say you could rightly kill someone sleeping, in a coma, suspended animation, etc., simply because they had temporarily ceased their conscious thought. You would bring into consideration their potential to resume conscious thinking. So I think it's far from clear that the line of humanity is drawn once consciousness initiates. The fact that it *will* initiate, provided you make no intentionally destructive interventions, seems suspiciously like other cases where we intuitively feel that it is wrong to end life. I'm not saying it is necessarily the same. I feel that it is, quite possibly, impossible to know. But, the thing is, you don't demolish a building until you're sure it's been evacuated, and you don't kill someone or something on a 50/50 hope that it isn't actually murder.
  • That's smokescreen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cicho (45472) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:18PM (#22254790) Homepage
    "The issue is not the baby, but the method."

    I don't think so. The method is what the church attacks, but it's only to have a tangible handle on the issue. The church's problem, I think, is that the closer science gets to understanding life and how to bring life about, the more it strips away divinity or metaphysics from life and birth. And *that* the church cannot allow - the shrinking of its domain.

    Once the sun was a god, because we had no way of understanding what it was. Currently, conception still carries a lot of metaphysics about it. When that goes away, what will remain? The church will think of something, but they'll have to backpedal a lot, so they do what they can to avert it.
  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:19PM (#22254794) Journal

    As for the politics of the Vatican... meh... at least they are consistent nowadays (no abortion, no war, no death penalty, etc)... they don't really have many "EXCEPT WHEN...." statements

    Really? No "except when" statements you say? You say this about the organization that moved Priests around to avoid them being discovered as/prosecuted for being child molesters?

    Sorry, but the Catholic Church has no claim to the moral high ground in my eyes. I can respect them slightly more then the typical Evangelical Baptist church, because I haven't had any Catholics try and convert me, but they still don't get to claim any sort of moral high ground in my eyes.

  • by Danse (1026) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:28PM (#22254898)

    Also, Baptism gives grace, and grace always enables the freedom of choice.
    Not sure how you figure that one. Baptism gets you wet, but that's about it. Anything else is just the beliefs of the people performing the act. People who aren't baptised have freedom of choice as well.
  • by Danse (1026) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @06:41PM (#22255100)

    Like all mathematicians who believe that 1 + 1 = 2 or all software developers thinking that memory leaks are a bad thing?
    Big difference between agreeing on verifiable facts and agreeing to have blind faith in something. As another Catholic poster pointed out, confirmation is supposed to be done based on faith alone or not at all.
  • by CrashPoint (564165) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:02PM (#22255396)
    Your "greatest evidence" sucks [logicalfallacies.info].
  • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:27PM (#22255694) Homepage
    There are a lot of agreements on things that *aren't* verifiable facts, or are easily 'verifiable' either way depending on which side of the fence you're on.

    Gay marriage is wrong. (Objective opinion held by lots of people)
    America is a good/bad place to live. (Again, objective opinion which people pull various facts to prove either way)
    Sex before the age of consent is bad. (Age of consent varies worldwide with no major issues, so the actual age is just an arbitrary value people agreed on)
    Speaking ill of the dead is not polite. (Some cultures don't care, others have *any* speaking of the dead as not polite)
    The atom is the smallest possible particle. (For a time, it looked to be)
    Slim women are attractive. (Pick a culture, any culture...)
    Guns are good. (See NRA)
  • by Herby Sagues (925683) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:40PM (#22255850)
    If it weren't for this "method" the boy wouldn't exist. Are you going to tell my nephew that the catholic church would rather see him not existing? I'm glad my brother is not raising him as catholic (despite his mother being a practicing catholic, the fact that the church officially considers her son undesirable is a very good argument for the father).
  • by theophilosophilus (606876) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:47PM (#22255930) Homepage Journal

    If you don't like the research, refuse the treatments when you are sick in the hospital. Why do some religious types feel they need to impart their beliefs on everyone else? Don't agree with or like abortion - fine - don't have one. Don't like what you hear on the radio or see on TV - fine also, change the channel. Just don't tell me what to do - I have a brain in my skull and I know how to use it independently.
    While I agree with the sentiment that there are major problems with legislated morality (and the religious right's approach) - I need to point out the limits (fallacies) to your argument. The law, in every country, is legislated morality. There is a codification of right and wrong in the law. It is not simply the "religious kooks" that seek to impose their version of morality.

    Gay marriage is a good example. There are groups of people that are fighting for acceptance of the word "marriage" to be affixed to a union of a same sex couple. The law currently affords the legal equivalent (not tax consequences - the marriage penalty etc.) through contract (marriage is a contractual relationship) and power of attorney. However, the "legal equivalent" is insufficient - the word "marriage" must be used. Why? acceptance - forcing a version of morality on society.

    The better position, in my opinion, is not to reject legislated morality (because the law is legislated morality) - it is to define the parameters that are acceptable for legislation. We must first recognize that every one has a definition of morality that they would prefer the world recognized. For example, even advocates of gay marriage legislation (from the courthouse or the state house) will draw lines as to what is moral. In the varied surveys I have taken, advocates draw the lines for marriage at children-adult, incestuous, multiple persons, and human-animals. The same people that claim that, by not being allowed to use the word "married", their rights are being infringed on would deny others loving relationships. It is not irrational to set differing standards of morality.

    Next, we have to observe that some behavior, while consistent with our personal rights, infringes on other's rights. The "if you don't like it - don't do it" approach is really insufficient because the same reasoning works for actions which are (nearly) universally decried as immoral such as rape and pedophilia (or even murder).

    The third step is to use our understanding to define the boundaries of legislation. A logical approach would to be legislate at the boundaries where exercise of personal rights intersect and conflict with other's personal rights. Therein lies the point of contention in the controversy presented by the Pope. It is perfectly rational to reason that life begins at conception (science tells us this). It is also within the ambit of reason to put a high value on life and to have differing opinions on where the line should be drawn in bestowing the rights granted to all humans. For those that set the line low your argument is similar to "don't think killing your newborn is good, then don't do it." The fact is, you've drawn a moral line somewhere (late term pregnancy? 2 years old? 4? 15?), and you weren't irrational in doing it. Further, you want to impose your version of morality on everyone else. Sure, people that use a religious text as a science book have logical problems but maybe you aren't too far off from the "religious types" you deride.
  • by OSXCPA (805476) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @07:56PM (#22256036) Journal
    Awesomely Catholic post - brings me back to my Sunday school days, but without Mr. Rheingold telling me I was going to hell for arguing with my sister. You gave us the what (natural law) without the why ('what is natural law, even briefly and how is it relevant').

    For interested readers, here is the relevant passage from the link provided:

    QUOTE ...They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.

    Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."

    Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person
    END QUOTE

    Did you get that? The conjugal act has intrinsic meaning, and if you get knocked up by any other method, the 'meaning' is not there, because the act itself has meaning that cannot be moved elsewhere, nor can any other act have that meaning. The church has bound a specific physical act (copulation between husband and wife) with a specific meaning and decreed that everyone must interpret this conglomeration their way.

    So, even if you artificially conceive out of love, in a loving marriage, to raise beautiful children, sorry - 'natural law' says you can't, because the meanings the church has given cannot be changed, nor should they be. Nothing natural about it, actually...

    Clearly, the Catholic Church does not have a 'humble' opinion. Must be nice to be right 100% of the time, whilst avoiding the sin of pride too.
  • by Tack (4642) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:13PM (#22256244) Homepage

    Catholics, myself included, believe that life begins at conception and so when you get rid of an embryo, anytime after fertilization, you are destroying a life.

    Life begins at conception, which presumably means the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception. What happens when the zygote later divides, to form identical twins? Does God intervene and inject a new soul into the womb? What happens, in those rare cases, when two zygotes merge, to form a chimera? Does God intervene and pluck a soul from the womb? Where does it go?

    To quote Sam Harris, "this arithmetic of souls simply does not make sense."

  • by Tack (4642) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:25PM (#22256344) Homepage

    condoms are NOT the only thing keeping people from unknowingly spreading a horrible, deadly disease. It can curb it, but abstinence is MUCH better

    That may be true, but since people aren't going to stop fucking because the pope says it's a bad idea, I'm fairly certain the next best thing is not to tell them they will suffer eternal torment if they use a condom.

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @08:26PM (#22256362)
    "How come God gets credit whenever something good happens? Where was he when her heart stopped?" — Dr. Gregory House
  • by davethewebb (1230960) on Thursday January 31, 2008 @09:25PM (#22256894) Homepage
    I'm sorry you don't agree, but if you won't acknowledge the church's teaching on these issues, you're not a catholic! No matter how much you say you are, if you disown the pope's teaching, you shouldn't be saying you're catholic. Part of being a catholic is accepting the truths of that church.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 31, 2008 @10:57PM (#22257486)
    WTF is an 'objective opinion'..?
  • by jotok (728554) on Friday February 01, 2008 @02:45AM (#22258594)
    Seems as if everything is completely polarized now. You get to choose between theocracy, or unrestricted experimentation...at least, that's what people tell me. How did it get like this? Why is there no dialogue?

    I once read Mao's book on guerilla warfare and he points out that you have to polarize the target culture. You want people to be with you or against you...no middle ground willing to "negotiate" because they keep you from accomplishing your goals. I wonder if the black-and-white mentality so pervasive is an artifact of the culture wars going on or what.

    Anyway, very good observations here. I keep reading religious or scientific people basically painting themselves into a corner with these extreme statements and I wish more people would realize...you don't have to agree with the Pope or with Dawkins or whomever, but you really ought to be thinking and talking about the issue instead of imagining it's universally "settled" and ignoring its existence.
  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Friday February 01, 2008 @03:10AM (#22258692)
    I mean seriously, while the Catholic church has the biggest following of any religion I know of (and the includes baptists, which while not a religion as opposed to a fanatic cult) I haven't seen the Church provide any guidance to anyone as of late... especially since the passing of JPII. I tend to find that if nothing else, the Church seems to put more effort into being heard than listened to.

    In the modern world where religion has less and less impact on the operation of governments, corporations and educational institutions. During a time when people regularly openly mock Christians in general as being brain dead (if you haven't noticed it, you're not listening). In an era where people are actually turned down for jobs because they wear a cross around their neck, the Churches will need to now, more than ever show they're evolving with the times. More and more, their followers are the sheep of society, not the leaders.

    If the Church genuinely wants to make a difference, they need to, instead of playing the "Moral grounds card", since most people working on the projects do see themselves on higher moral grounds than the Church, provide research to show it's not a good idea. Hire independant (non-religion, possibly atheist) scientists to research the topic as well and present good reasoning that would specifically back up their arguments.

    If we go back, long before the Catholic church to the days of exodus, Kosher was presented to a weak people dieing from tape worm, food poisening and other such issues an uneducated population travelling in the desert would be forced to survive. The morals behind Kosher had deeper meaning than "You should not cook thine cattle in the milk of its mother". The problem was that Egyptians classically would baste their meat in milk overnight to cause it to be much more tender. The moral was in reality that deadly tiny little bacteria would form in the meat when it's left on a rock in the desert overnight.

    If the Church genuinely feels they have out best interest in mind, remember, we're not a bunch of uneducated brick makers with families travelling in a desert. Do the research to tell us what in fact is morally wrong. Show us the actual answer, we are reasonable and rational people. If you can show that a certain form of scientific progress will has a very highly likelyhood of having a morally negative impact on humankind, we will listen... at least we'll alter our research to avoid the complication.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Friday February 01, 2008 @03:11AM (#22258702) Homepage Journal

    Yea,, I looked into that rip off of Egyptian mythology thing and found it to be very lacking when you attempt to verify what is being said.
    I'm not quite sure where that came from, but it sounds a bit questionable. There's some decent weight to substantiate the idea that most of the modern Judeo/Christian lore stemmed from multiple other traditions. The Genesis story is a prime example, and folds together strands of several other creation stories from the region in which it developed. As for the new Christian bits... well, I don't think anyone had a lock on the messiah idea. People had been doing that practically forever in any culture that had a messiah myth. After all, if someone says, "your new king will appear soon," someone's going to think, "hey, that could be me!" Jesus's only real contribution being yet another face in the crowd was in creating a stable following (probably more the work of those who came after) and in preaching an unusually pacifistic dogma, at least if we buy into the contents of Matthew.

    We supposedly celebrate on the 25th because that is around the time conception would have happened and the birth of the soul that was Jesus. This is a big reason why religious organizations don't support abortion and claim that life begins at conception.
    Someone's been retconning at you. The reason that that date was chosen was many-fold, but essentially it was a compromise. Celebrations such as Saturnalia [wikipedia.org] and the Feast of Sol Invictus [wikipedia.org] were terribly important to Pagan Rome at the time of its conversion to Christianity. Recall that the Unconquered Sun and the Crucified God were in a dead-heat for control of decaying Rome's theology at one point, and that Christianity won out was almost certainly as much a matter of politics as religion. In the end, setting a new official holiday on the solstice allowed Rome to bless all existing celebrations on the 25th as worship of their new god.

    The whole conception thing is absurd. Conception and the exact period of gestation were part of women's Mysteries and not to be toyed with by men (the ones making the laws about holidays).

    But this Christmas celebration in December is a relatively recent event, not something that has been around in religion.
    Name a religion that did NOT have a solstice celebration prior to, say... 1300 AD (which neatly avoids the emergence of science and the demystification of celestial motion). Just one.

    That entire Egyptian thing is a creation of someone's imagination.
    Sounds plausible.

    Either way, it doesn't matter much, There are people who will believe and people who will not.
    What you believe is one thing. What you try to assert about history is another.

  • by Tack (4642) on Friday February 01, 2008 @08:30AM (#22259994) Homepage
    Ahh, I get it. And in the case of the chimera, God simply changed his mind afterward. Omnipotence and omniscience is a lot of pressure, we certainly can't expect him to always get it right the first time!
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:58AM (#22260908)
    So how do you explain Popes teachings that diverge from the teachings of previous Popes? Was the Sun revolving around the earth when the church condemned Galileo? Did the Sun and Earth reverse their relative roles when the church finally acknowledged the truth of Galileo's observations? Which 'truth of the church' should I accept?

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