back to article Science and religion collide for galactic conference

The Vatican is hosting its second astronomy conference in seven years, as the Roman Catholic church strives to avoid being seen as anti-science. Delegates are expected from 26 countries, including Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, and Russia, the BBC reports. Father Jose Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory, said the …

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I think it's worth pointing out...

The vatican has one of the oldest astronomical observatories in the world within its borders, which proves that you can do all the science you like but it'll mean squat if you come at it with pre-conceived notions.

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I think it's worth pointing out...

Pre-conceived notions like "all religous people are blinkerd to science"?

Go and look up what they have done at the Vatican observetory and learn somthing befor posting such comments.

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Hmph

"...that if you have faith, then you're never going to be afraid of what science is going to come up with."

You're never going to belive what science comes up with would be more accurate.

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Galileo, or Copernicus?

Copernicus proposed it, then died. Galileo looked through a telescope, confirmed it, and got in trouble. At least, if i renember my history correctly.

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Guys and Gals and Sister Orders

"Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, a member of Father Funes's 13-strong team, explains that the Church has maintained its interest because science holds no fears for the faithful."

Does it provide for their Personal Pleasures, Brother?The Art that is in Faithful Science?!.

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I like the thought of...

Someone in his eighties wearing the full ceremonial catholic robes somewhere in the Arizona desert saying.

"Disk galaxies are the hot topic."

Made me smile anyway... What is that in Latin?

I'll get me coat.

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Anonymous Coward

If Disc Galaxies are a tot topic, any chance of them drilling down a bit

and just discussing Discworld?

Taxi for one.

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Anonymous Coward

Christianity

As a believer in Jesus Christ I am no believer in Catholism. The cult like religion of Catholics is so far from anything biblical it is no wonder there is no agreement on anything. Ask a Catholic when the last time they read their bible? Do they even own one? Did you know the Pope at one time made it illegal for "catholics" to have a bible?

But worth noting .. Science assumes far too many things. For example oxygenation and carbon dating .. since it is IMPOSSIBLE to scientifically (and accurately) date anything beyond the levels of known atmospheric conditions (how much carbon/oxygen was in the air at THIS time) the fact that there is "scientific theory" presented as over 100 million years ago this dinosaur existed.. Since they have no idea how much carbon was in the envrionment in 100BC it could have been then just as easy.

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Rob

Solid Science

Yes, because i really want to rely on the wisdom of people who hear voices in their heads and feel proof is an optional extra, what a curious way of being scientific..

Maybe we could also try to extend this interesting idea and use the wisdom of crowds effect to solve problems by building a beowulf cluster out of all the asylum inmates we have.

We'll have quantum mechanics sussed in no time.

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dDeep Faith is a Shared Pleasure and Priceless Treasure? A Little Bit More than just Belief.

The Name of the Rose MetaMorphoSIS.... the Awakening?

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Logic and common sense

are required to qualify and quantify scientific discoveries. Religious types and those believing in a god are basically adrift of reality, twisting the laws of physics and the theory of evolution to fit their faith whilst living in a permanent state of denial. They are inherently unqualified to recognise the truth. And as such should not be trusted to perform the most rudimentary scientific experiment.

Religious people blinkered to science? Maybe not. Blinkered to reality, fact and truth? most certainly.

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Worth mentioning

That the Vatican head/chief astronomer (can't remember his name/exact title) recently waded into the ID 'debate' and said clearly that there is no way that ID should be in any science class, because it isn't science.

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Still fundamentally incompatible

Religion and science are incompatible at a very fundamental level. Science is based on the idea that all observable phenomena that occur in the universe are explainable in terms of a set of natural laws that apply to everything in the universe, and never change. Religion is based on the idea that some observable phenomena are not explainable and must simply be accepted as mysteries.

For a laugh sometime, try drawing a Young Earth reationist into a conversation about rainbows.

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amanfromMars

did he just post twice in the same topic? i feel special for seeing this happen ^^

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Anonymous Coward

Science / Religion = 2(pig + ear)

I always like Hawking's story of when he attended one of these things. They had a sermon from the pope who said it was fine to look at what happened after the big bang, but not before. They think that god dwells in a singularity or at least in the first singularity because otherwise what the damn hell was he up to, and from where was he standing?

Hawking's paper jumped all over that aim, but as none of the vatican's people could understand what he was on about, he got away with it.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Christianity

Before you poke the Catholics with a pointed stick or nit pick in an ill-informed manner about the merits of carbon dating, consider the real reason for your belief in jesus.

Met him? Seen evidence of his existence?

No, someone told you a story once when you were small. Who was it, and how much would you trust their account now? Where do you think THEY got the idea?

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Still fundamentally incompatible

Religion and science are absolutely incompatible at a very fundamental level. Science is based on the idea that all observable phenomena that occur in the universe are explainable in terms of a set of natural laws that apply to everything in the universe, and never change. Religion is based on the idea that some observable phenomena are *not* explainable and must simply be accepted as mysteries.

For a laugh sometime, try drawing a Young Earth Creationist into a conversation about rainbows. Specifically, if the account in Genesis 7-9 is literally true, then how come there were no rainbows before the Flood?

Christianity has perhaps about fifty to a hundred years left before it implodes with its own absurdity. Islam is already on borrowed time. Judaism is probably in the best position to adapt to an atheistic hypothesis.

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RE: Christianity

Yes, thank you, Anonymous Christian Coward for demonstrating so vividly that fuckwit fundamentalists have absolutely no understanding of how science works.

We can start with "Science assumes to much", that's a giggle, if you weren't such a dribbling, brainwashed fuckwit who believes everything he is told by other dribbling, brainwashed fuckwits with more of the Big G's authority (because they tell you so), you would know that in fact science ASSUMES very little. Science hypothesises about stuff, and then tests it.

That's not like faith, where you assume something is true because some kiddy fiddler in a dress tells you it is so and uses a 16th century translation of a 1400 year old compilation of edited myths that had already, by that time, undergone millennia of Chinese whispers, as supporting 'evidence'.

You also appear to completely lack an understanding of how radio carbon dating works, although I'm not surprised, because although it's possible to develop a sophisticated layman's understanding of why C14 dating is so accurate with an hour's research, this level of independent thought is clearly beyond you.

Congratulations on making yourself look like such a dumbass. If there is an all powerful being who created the entire universe, and she is also omniscient, rest assured she is laughing her tits off at your stupidity.

Proof, if more were needed, that 'of faith', and 'drooling retard' are virtually synonymous in the modern world. Something that was not always true. Issac Newton, for instance was a stonking great scientific genius and a christian, so what's your fucking excuse ?

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Kylie

When I'm at home, alone, and at night, I like to look out from my bedroom window into the blackness and try to appreciate the utter vastness of it all. To see the thousands of diamond-twinkles winking at me, it really does make me wonder whether this really is nature or created by a 'higher intelligence'.

Then the twinkles remind me of the glittering sequin's adorning Kylie's long, black, slinky dress. And that makes me smile. A lot. And it makes me hard.

And as the stars above wink down at me, I start to wink back at them...

I love to wink...

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Re: Christianity

You know nothing. Shut up.

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what a load of christianity

<quote>

But worth noting .. Science assumes far too many things. For example oxygenation and carbon dating .. since it is IMPOSSIBLE to scientifically (and accurately) date anything beyond the levels of known atmospheric conditions (how much carbon/oxygen was in the air at THIS time) the fact that there is "scientific theory" presented as over 100 million years ago this dinosaur existed.. Since they have no idea how much carbon was in the envrionment in 100BC it could have been then just as easy.

</quote>

you can only carbon date something upto 60000 years old as the half life of carbon 14 means there woun't be a detectable level left in anything older.

dinosaur bones would be data by the age of the geological strata they are contained using a radiologiacal dating method such as lead isochron dating. learn some science before you spowt crap

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Atheist zealotry

What I'm seeing here is a bunch of atheists as bigoted about their belief system (the absence of any God) as any of the religious fundamentalists they so arrogantly despise. I am not religious, but I do respect my fellow human beings' right to form their own understandings and judgements about the Universe.

All you people can do is point to things the Catholic Church did hundreds of years ago, because that's how long ago the Church was actually opposed to science. They have long since admitted their error, and have embraced science and learning now for at least a couple of hundred years. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Catholic monasteries were respected centres of scientific, philosophical and literary learning.

This may come as a surprise to many of you, but most Christians are not fundamentalist zealots who deny any tenet of science. You hear mainly the noisy fundamentalists because the moderate majority do not go around bible-thumping and preaching in the streets. For many people, the co-existence of God and the Big Bang is not a difficult concept to reconcile.

So instead of rubbishing anybody who believes in God with your blind atheist zealotry, you should be supporting the Church's efforts to heal the rift between religion and science. Religion isn't going to go away, however much you latter-day born-again God deniers piss and moan. Neither is science. So the best we can to is to try to find a way to end the pointless conflicts about people's beliefs and hopefully guide some of the more deluded religious believers to a factual understanding of the Universe they can accept within the context of their worldview.

It IS possible. But not when those in the best position to understand reality are as bigoted as the fundamentalists they would supplant.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

And in this comment thread we see why folk say that those who just resort to insulting others, just show themselves up, and gain no legitimate support for their viewpoint.

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what a load of christianity

Again to prove my point..

Whatever method of dating you use carbon or RD they are ONLY THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACTS, which inherently make them unprovable. Unless you have the KNOWN facts of the environment at THAT time it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old.

Perhaps you should understand a little more about science or at least the difference between theories and facts.

If dino's didn't exist with man why are there so many cave paintings which depict dino's with men? Case in point, we still have caveman today .. where o'where is that man Mr. Bin Laden at again?

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Easy on the Fundy chaps

Afterall, it's not good manners to be mean to the simple folk. I'm inferring from his posting that Jesus fought the dinosaurs and won, so think on that before posting.

Presumably chickens evolved sometime in the Middle Ages.

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what a load of christianity

you can only carbon date something upto 60000 years old as the half life of carbon 14 means there woun't be a detectable level left in anything older.

Or so you state as fact, but should be theory. Hence the problem. Science has no factual proof, just like Christianity. Except you believe your human theories because in my reality this happens.

Hit me up in 60,000 years and present it as fact and I'll believe you. Until then shove your theory based science up your bosom.

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Tumble Tots

This set of comments has quickly degenerated into the 'science good, religion bad' vs. 'science bad, religion good' sort of thing one expects to read on The Guardian website. Surely men in dresses can't do science, they can't run fast enough when it goes wrong. Why do people believe in things that there is no basis for? Do they have some special need?

At the entrance to hell there is a SPECIAL magic blue horse who kicks the good dead people up into the sky to heaven where they are given a special triangle of EVERLASTING 'laughing cow' cheese spread. The horse only works on Wednesdays because there are so few TRUE believers. On the other days a giant brown plastic man passes the evil people into hell proper through the PLASTIC LOOP on his head using an adapted third arm. Now that's my kind of belief system. Can't prove it wrong so it must be true. Wins every time.

Anyway C14 can't work back that far, the world is only 6,000 years old.

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@Alex

yes, but one is a fake IntelAIgent

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Moderation

Overall I think religion and science ask different questions. Science generally wants to know how and religion asks why. In my mind that has always been compatible.

I'm a "fuckwit fundamentalist" (thanks Steve) but I'm also did a PhD in Mathematical Physics (Perturbations Of Black Holes in Einstein-Cartan Theory) having studied the Torsion extension of General Relativity for three and a half years.

Can't we just live and let live?

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what a load of christianity

<quote>

Whatever method of dating you use carbon or RD they are ONLY THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACTS, which inherently make them unprovable. Unless you have the KNOWN facts of the environment at THAT time it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old.

</quote>

OK, maybe not exactly 100 million years old... more like "between 90 and 110 million years old" - nobody claims infallibility. Also, the age of many discoveries is being revised continuously as methods of calculating them changes.

Incidentally, one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that the universe is far, far older than 100 million years old. We know the speed of light accurately (certainly in our local universe) and two simple, provable techniques (trigonometry using the diameter of Earth's orbit as a baseline and redshift of the light reaching Earth) give very accurate locations of at least the closer stars and galaxies. Combining these gives an irrefutable minimum age of our universe of at least a couple of billion years (I haven't gone back any further than this in case key properties of the universe such as the speed of light change outside our local region).

<quote>

If dino's didn't exist with man why are there so many cave paintings which depict dino's with men?

</quote>

These paintings being where, exactly??!

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Still dribbling

And still helping to underline my points about faith and the utter lack of rationality that it represents.

"Or so you state as fact, but should be theory. Hence the problem. Science has no factual proof, just like Christianity"

Again with fundamental misunderstanding of science. Do you know the difference between a scientific theory and something that some bearded twat just made up centuries ago?

It's vast. As vast as the vacant space between your ears.

And in any case, the decay of radio isotopes is measurable. It is a fact.

"it is impossible to STATE 100% this thing is 100 million years old."

Yup, well done genius. There is a margin for error, but since you refuse to educate yourself about what this is, or what measures can be taken to narrow that margin, using factual data that is measurably correct, you once again put your ignorance on clear view for all to see.

I continue to laugh of my ass off. I might even find time to pity you.

If there is a deity, you are going straight to hell, for the entertainment of everyone with a brain that works properly.

"What I'm seeing here is a bunch of atheists as bigoted about their belief system (the absence of any God) as any of the religious fundamentalists they so arrogantly despise."

Then look closer. At no point in any of these comments has anyone stated "There is no God", merely that dribbling fuckwits who think dinosaurs just popped off last Thursday are retards.

"I am not religious, but I do respect my fellow human beings' right to form their own understandings and judgements about the Universe."

That's nice. But most religion has fuck all to do with forming your own judgements, quite the opposite in fact. That's what 'faith' means.

And you are of course right, not ALL christians are total retards. The Gnostics have some cracking insights, for instance.

Shame the rest of the christians persecuted them as heretics, eh ? Same old same old.

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@Andy White

"Religion is our aim, science our method" eh ?

Good one. OK, maybe you can open my eyes a bit here, what is the difference between the 'fundamentalism' that you espouse, which allows you to encompass the vastness and enormous age of the universe while not necessarily denying the existence of a 'creator' entity (perfectly sensible, IMHO), and the 'fundamentalism' espoused by people who think the world was created in 4000 BC, or whatever the date was, and decry all science as heresy. (And yes fundys, though you aren't currently using that term in public fora, that is what you are doing)

Clearly there *is* a difference, so perhaps you can enlighten me as to what it is ? I am genuinely curious.

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Humboldt Penguin

<quote>

Overall I think religion and science ask different questions. Science generally wants to know how and religion asks why. In my mind that has always been compatible.

</quote>

Nope, all depends on how you phrase the question. Science wants to know why the earth goes around the sun. Religion, well, not sure it wants to know why. It just tells you what to believe and not to question. Be a good person and give us your money to help fix our roof.

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Re: what a load of christianity & Paintings are where?

I've heard of these paintings, but can't be sure where they are.

However, I have a feeling they are on walls in a recently opened ID museum.

Maybe they should be carbon dated, to make sure they are really old.

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Atheist Fundamentalists?

What on earth is an atheist fundamentalist? If you follow the scientific method then the stance of the atheist is simply that a negative cannot be proven but a positive can be. This isn't fundamentalism, it's the refusal to believe fairy stories unless there's some solid evidence to back them up.

It is easy to be an exasperated atheist, however, as the frustration mounts with theists who don't understand simple scientific principles and the tenet:

It is not up to me to show there is no invisible unicorn in this room, it is up to you to prove that the invisible unicorn you claim is there, actually is.

Scientists have done amazing work unravelling the mysteries of the universe, previously and incorrectly attributed to god, and there are plenty left. A theist with a modicum of observation should be worried by the continued erosion of god's alleged role as he shrinks to become a vanishing "god of gaps". In defiance of reason the fundamentalist shrilly declares "There just is a god!" and is regarded as foolish by the non-fundamentalist scientific thinkers.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Atheist zealotry

First things first, thanks for being civil, it goes to prove that not EVERYONE is an ass. I take it from your post, you are Christian. I happen to be Atheist, but certainly believe that your beliefs have no effect on me, and as such, you're welcome to them. I wish more people could get their heads around that concept, ah well, too bad.

But anyway, regarding your comment "So the best we can to is to try to find a way to end the pointless conflicts about people's beliefs and hopefully guide some of the more deluded religious believers to a factual understanding of the Universe they can accept within the context of their worldview.", I propose we follow the Simpsons here, and put a restraining order into effect. Religion and Science are no longer allowed within 500 feet of each other.

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Moschops

According to a rather fine Moschops DVD compilation I've just analysed, Dinosaurs could talk and were made of felt.

I just don't know what to believe any more.

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Good Laughs!

I was relieved to see so many smart people on here that did not have imaginary friends. I thought the maturity of some of the comments could have been a bit more so but then I wouldn't have laughed as much ;).

I am amazed at how much of our world has imaginary friends.

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Anonymous Coward

Valid point

'Surely men in dresses can't do science, they can't run fast enough when it goes wrong.'

Nah they do experimental magic instead

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Jumbo No-Tear Paper Clips

re: re: Atheist zealotry

I suppose the real problem is that religion is taken into account when people make important decisions. This is bad. We should wherever possible base decisions on facts.

So, please, believe in what you want, invisible teapots, invisible unicorns, gods, magic potatoes etc... Please let's keep that mumbo jumbo away from politics, education and science. We don't need it as it clouds our judgement and makes people cross with each other.

I'm off home for tea. As it's a Monday my god has told me to have fish. He's as mad as a goat but I love him oh, so much.

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Dan

RE: Christianity by Steve

Crikey Steve you sound like a Wiccan fundamentalist with that little rant lol

On a lighter note though. You will find that Science and Religion, (regardless of which religion it is,) are frequently incompatible. Less so at the general lay practitioner levels, but utterly incompatible at the top end Hardcore Fundamentalist levels.

Im a Pagan and I've heard some truly bizarre explanations for creation. Just amongst other Pagan's alone for example: That nature or the Goddess and God created everything instantly, or that a Diannic Lesbian Goddess birthed the world from her womb.....eww ick. I don't believe in Deities. I've done far too much research in to them to believe that they are anything other than pseudo stand-in Parental figures for humanities various cultures. Or in some cases, an excuse for the excesses of humanity. (Muhammed getting to do more than any other Muslim is always described in the Koran as Allah letting him do it.)

I wish I could do that. I think I'll go rob a bank and say "Hey Nature didn't like you killing all the tree's, so Im here to liberate the paper money !!" Sadly we don't live in the loony past, but the modern era. Where Science, not Superstition, rules !!

Im frankly dubious of the Vatican's scientists but I'd give them the benefit of the doubt, just to hear what they have to say. But rest assured I'd have no problem disagreeing with them.

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Hey look, everyone missed my point!

Pre-conceived notions rule the day.

Again.

I'd laugh but it's just so damn depressing...

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Moschops

According to a rather fine Moschops DVD compilation I've just analysed, Dinosaurs could talk and were made of felt.

I just don't know what to believe any more.

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RE RE: Christianity by Steve

To be honest Dan, I'm not that fond of most Wiccans either, they have an irritating way of simply replacing christian myths with Wiccan myths and then carrying on as though that's that, job done, when they are, in fact, still caught in the same trap.

They also have an upsetting tendency towards smugness that I find deeply annoying, especially in a religion that was largely made up by uncle Al Crowley and his mates for a laugh.

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I think it's worth pointing out...

The Big Bang is a religious invention anyway, first devised by Father Georges Henri Joseph Éduard Lemaître (July 17, 1894 – June 20, 1966) was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, honorary prelate, professor of physics and astronomer (and, yup, that came from Wiki, but it happens to be correct).

Down at the Vatican they're luvinit, luvinit, luvinit. Because "the consensus" that continues to believe in it is wrong.

Think about it: big bang, black holes .... getting a shade to close to pederasty and pedophilia for comfort.

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Puh...

An Interdimensional Sky Wizard from another dimension that has no start came to our dimension created a universe and then created the earth in 6 days, rested, and then hung around to see what humans would do for 6000 years then made "special human" who turns into a zombie and becomes an Interdimensional Sky Wizard himself then disappears to their other dimension never too be heard of again?

One day I hope the Vatican holds a biology conference and invites Richard Dawkins...I'd pay to see that.

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J

@David Ralston

That was really funny (not in a good way), but at least kudos to you for not posting "anonymously"...

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Anonymous Coward

the coming of the great white hankerchief

is all that you need to fear.... all the rest is just make-believe ...

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fanatics all around

Science has not convincingly dispelled the idea of a god.

Sure, bits and pieces of the bible can be disproved, but the idea of a creator cannot.

"Scientists have done amazing work unravelling the mysteries of the universe, previously and incorrectly attributed to god"

So the earth orbits the sun because of gravity. This does not prove in any way that a god or gods don't exist or that they play no part in the earths orbit.

If I set a wheel spinning, the spin is a direct result of my actions whatever the forces and physics involved in the how.

There are a whole load of unknowns still out there, and according to some scientific theories it is impossible for humans to know everything. Unless you can know everything, you cannot say definitively that there is no god, or that a god did not play a role in one of the "mysteries of the universe".

The only thing you can say is that the existance of god has not been proven.

Particles smaller than quarks have not been proven to exist, however their existance cannot be ruled out. Anyone venemently denying their existance because of lack of evidence is displaying a fanatical form of faith.

I am not a great supporter of religions, nor a believer in god. However, I do think those calling themselves scientists should be able to keep an open mind.

Closed minds are a bad thing, whether they are closed to science or religion.

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Anonymous Coward

Walking on water

OK...

How much Carbon-14 Isotopes in the world?

...Lots

Pick ANY amount of it.

See if it decays in line with the 'Half Life' Hypothesis...

pick some more...

etc..

How many people are there in the world?

...Lets say 6 billion.

Pick one of them.

Ask them to walk on some water...

Ask them to ummm make lots of fish...

etc, etc, etc...

After lots of testing what do we have?

I expect a lot of supporting evidence for the Carbon-14 half life theory, and a lot of supporting evidence that people just dont walk on water.

Now if someone said to you after your testing that they had seen some carbon-14 with a different half-life I imagine you would be sceptical.

Just as sceptical as a sane person would be if they were told that someone can walk on water.

People dont walk on water. Its nonsense. Grow up. Santa doesnt come down your chimney either. Its a nice thought, but, no. Im sorry to break it to you. There is no tooth fairy either. I know, I know, its terrible.

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