Friday, February 01, 2013

Mengele was a scientist

Reading about the Cambridge Union debate last night, "Dawkins has no place in the 21st Century", I was amused by the thought that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has taken the title Lord Williams of Oystermouth, I don't know if it it is a glancing comparison to St John Chrysostom, meaning Golden mouthed, so Rowan Ostreostom, has wormed its way into my brain.

But enough frivolity; Dawkins appeared defending himself in the debate and lost.

For Dawkins it is is either science or religion, he can't deal with both, this is not the position any religious person ever adopts. It is worth considering what the great scientists of the past would have been like without faith, is it conceivable to think of Copernicas or Galileo without the Catholic faith, even Newton with his odd breed of Anglicanism and what about Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaître, wasn't their faith behind their science?

The more I read about Dawkins, the more I feel he is not a very nice man, it is because hatred of religion seems to fuel him and most religions seem to teach hatred diminishes a man and is an indulgence to be overcome.

Sciences in the hands of a man who hates is very dangerous. I am sure who ever first dis covered how to make fire would, if he was approaching it scientifically, have used it to burn out his neighbour, the man who discovered flint knapping would have used a nice sharp spear to kill an enemy. As a Jewish friend says, "Dr Josef Mengele was a scientist". "

Science in the hands of scientists is truly dangerous, it has given us the Atom Bomb, better armaments, better torture methods. Scientific theories have justified slavery, racism, lobotomies, chemical castration of homosexuals, selective abortion of female foetuses. Weird scientific theories have moved in out of fashion, Mussolini's fascism was supported by scientists in the futurist movement. Hitler's racism, like apartheid South Africa was backed up by claims of scientific theory. The devilish Communist regimes claimed to be "scientific" and ripped the soul out of their people.

Dawkins arguments against religion seem essentially to be that religion claims to be right; the lived experience of most religious people is that it causes them to wonder and to ask about the ethics of an action. For someone with a religious sense, "God" is the unknown, the factor "X". In Aquinas' "Five Ways", he ends up by saying at the end of each  by saying this is what we call God. It is not God but what we call God, God is the great unknown. In fact to say there is no God, seems to demand as much faith as to to say there is God. For believers religion acts as the grit in the oyster.

Expecting science to be able to give all the answers is so, err..., unscientific.

A few months ago, when Dawkins had said we "Catholics are vile" one of my parishioners suggested a campaign, of sending sweets to Dawkins, with a tag "from a vile Catholic", I don't think it will take off, would it?
If you want to try his address is New College, Holywell Street, Oxford OX1 3BN


Fr Ray Blake said...

I would tremble to publish your comment. I agree but I think it will draw ire on both of us.

Physiocrat said...

"For Dawkins it is is either science or religion, he can't deal with both, this is not the position any religious person ever adopts."

Sadly this is not always true of fundamentalists. The great period of scientific development within the Islamic world took place during the period of the Mu'tazilites. Averroes' project to bring Greek philosophy into Islam was part of this movement. Unfortunately it did not succeed.

The Mu'tazilites were denounced as heretics and their philosophy expunged by the fundamentalist school around the 11th century, which has dominated Islamic thought ever since - it was a kind of collective intellectual suicide.

The work of Averroes ultimately bore fruit in Aquinas, which is why orthodox Christians can live with science today.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

yet science is a religion these days. how many times does the proud athiest insist that he believes in science? scientalists simply believe in schools (denominations) of academic thought that are free of historical understandings of good and evil. the devil loves that people think he's not true.

"Ask a college student today what he knows about the Catholic Church and his answer might come down to one word: "corruption." But that one word should be "civilization." Western civilization has given us the miracles of modern science, the wealth of free-market economics, the security of the rule of law, a unique sense of human rights and freedom, charity as a virtue, splendid art and music, a philosophy grounded in reason, and innumerable other gifts that we take for granted as the wealthiest and most powerful civilization in history. But what is the ultimate source of these gifts? the Catholic Church. [Thomas] Woods’s story goes far beyond the familiar tale of monks copying manuscripts and preserving the wisdom of classical antiquity. In How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, you’ll learn: · Why modern science was born in the Catholic Church · How Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith · How the Catholic Church invented the university · Why what you know about the Galileo affair is wrong · How Western law grew out of Church canon law · How the Church humanized the West by insisting on the sacredness of all human life..."

if people are going to feel at home these days they must:

A - live as if there's no such thing as history gusto
B - despise their own heritage as if it could only ever have been worthless and adore others' no matter how devilish, in which case one must evince the modern virtue par excellence - sympathy for the devil
C - insist that saints can only be secular
D - insist that any gifted Catholic contributors to knowledge over the past 2000 years were all heretics

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

p.s. as for the 'fruit' of averroes - give Thomas his due:

"Certain circles, moreover, were led to reject Aristotle by the presentation of this philosopher which had been made by the Arab commentators Avicenna and Averroës. Indeed, it was they who had transmitted the Aristotelian philosophy to the Latin world. For example, these commentators had taught that men have no personal intelligence but that there is a single universal intelligence, a spiritual substance common to all, that works in all as “one”: hence, a depersonalization of man. Another disputable point passed on by the Arab commentators was that the world was eternal like God. This understandably unleashed never-ending disputes in the university and clerical worlds. Aristotelian philosophy was continuing to spread even among the populace. Thomas Aquinas, at the school of Albert the Great, did something of fundamental importance for the history of philosophy and theology, I would say for the history of culture: he made a thorough study of Aristotle and his interpreters, obtaining for himself new Latin translations of the original Greek texts. Consequently he no longer relied solely on the Arab commentators but was able to read the original texts for himself. He commented on most of the Aristotelian opus, distinguishing between what was valid and what was dubious or to be completely rejected, showing its consonance with the events of Christian revelation and drawing abundantly and perceptively from Aristotle’s thought in the explanation of the theological texts he was uniting. In short, Thomas Aquinas showed that a natural harmony exists between Christian faith and reason. And this was the great achievement of Thomas, who, at that time of clashes between two cultures—that time when it seemed that faith would have to give in to reason—showed that they go hand in hand, that insofar as reason appeared incompatible with faith, it was not reason and that what appeared to be faith was not faith if it was in opposition to true rationality; thus he created a new synthesis which formed the culture of the centuries to come."

Benedict XVI, "Holy Men and Women Of the Middle Ages and Beyond". Ignatius Press.

Physiocrat said...

We must be careful about how we associate ourselves with free market economics. It is not the prevailing system in most countries which purport to have espoused the system.

Within 5 minutes walk of St Mary Magdalens is a busy city centre shopping centre, yet many of the shops, even those in the best positions, are vacant and have been for, in some cases, as much as a couple of years. Also in the city, surveys have shown that there are more vacant homes than badly-housed and homeless people. In this way people are literally locked out of both the means of earning a livelihood and a home for themselves and their families to live.

It is not a free market but a pretence of one. Under a free market, rents and property prices would be dropping to market-clearing levels, so that the properties were available for use by people who need them. It is important that we make that distinction and do no identify ourselves with a system which is unjust and on the way to collapse.

On a related issue, it would also be a good thing if the Catholic church ie its living members, reasserted the ancient condemnation of usury. What is the principal cause of the present economic crisis? Usury. We have something useful to say and we are not saying it.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I often wonder where hate comes from in somebody like Dawkins. Is it that his intellect is telling him one thing and his heart the opposite and this conflict drives him to say the things he says?

Likewise with accusations of homophobia. Do some people hate the things they do themselves and then hating themselves assume that other people will hate them as well and accuse them of hating?

Frederick Jones said...

Prof Fred Hoyle, the founder of Jodrell Bank was an Anglican Church organist.He found no difficulty in reconciling his faith and his extensive kmowledge of cosmology. One notices also that Prof Brian Cox, although himself not a believer, said recently that when confronted with the wonder of the universe he could understand how colleagues accepted a religious interpretation.

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