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back to article Pope says gravity proves technology can't supplant God

The Pope has warned the faithful of the folly of thinking that technology could replace the almighty. Pope Benedict, speaking at a Palm Sunday Mass to kick off Holy Week, noted that mankind had always sought to become "like God". But, Reuters reports, Pope Benedict said: "Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can …

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Happy

Science can not replace God

God: A made-up idea to (a) stop people going nuts because they don't understand everything (b) provide an emotional crutch and (c) provide a way of abusing power and influence to keep the stupid masses under control.

Science: The study of nature with a view to (a) working out how and why things work the way they do (b) expanding the mind (c) presenting basic tools from which all modern societies have been built.

Mmm... yes, maybe the pope does have a point - how could Science ever replace God? Now he's made his point, maybe he should consider getting a proper job that has tangible benefit to human-kind at large? Or at the very least, stop sponging off the stupid masses?

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Self-contained in your madness.

It must be so disappointing to spend your entire working life equivocating, so I can understand why "scientists" do it, but puh-lease stop cloaking your "faith" as "fact".

"I believe there is no God" - a statement of faith.

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A Grave Situation

The Pope needs to be a bit more scientific - gravity doesn't have 'down'. We made that bit up for convenience. He's sort of suggesting that there is a force-field of godness that keeps us mere mortals in place.

So where the hell does the devil hang out if god's keeping us here on earth?

Sweet Jayzus, I'm so glad hiswotsitness has the answers, this 'science' thing really is diffcult.

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Your email address is never published

"I believe there is no God" - a statement of faith.

"I believe there are no faries" - a statement of faith.

"I believe there is no Santa Claus" - a statement of faith.

"I believe there are no Goblins" - a statement of faith.

"I believe there are no Werewolves" - a statement of faith.

Go on, admit you can't provide any evidence either for or against any of those things. You're just as much of a fruitcake believing in your beardy sky man as those nutjobs who believe they've got faries in the garden. The only trouble with your particular fantasy is that it's state sanctioned and force fed to children.

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@Ivor 1

Oh, that old play on words.

"I believe that you are a self-important twat" - does that make me religious?

It seems that the religious and lawyers both make their careers out of twisting language so that words can be forced into meanings almost certainly not intended by the people who wrote them down. (Exception: recent UK Parliaments - I'm pretty sure that the weasel-words used in writing laws these days are deliberately designed to be as twisted and flexible as possible.)

Scientists, however polysyllabic and difficult to understand the vocabulary, at least try to make things open - they even have a process of vetting each others' papers to try to ensure integrity.

Religion - bringing intolerance and hatred to all those not of that faith for 2k+ years. Which is strange, as often some of the text in each of the holy writings for the various faiths talk about being nice to your fellow human beings. Or is that part of the stuff that gets twisted so that it can be ignored?

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Coat

Wait. What?

I admit no-one has yet proved the existence of any of those things. Or will likely ever disprove any of those things.

That's scientific that is.

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Happy

@Ivor 1

I assume you make your statements from the point of view of someone who DOES have a completely irrational and unsupportable belief in a deity?

If you wish to believe such clap-trap then that is, of course, your prerogative, however misguided that belief may be. However, please do not judge those who have a more rational mind, grounded in common-sense and an analysis of the evidence presented to them, using your own baseline of nonsensical gibberish.

Just to hammer home the point, "I believe there is no God" is NOT a statement of faith. It is a statement of common sense. And while I must accept that this statement could (in theory) be proven incorrect, until such time, it is for all intents and purposes, a "fact". if you find that fact uncomfortable or find that it kicks away that emotional crutch that many people seem to rely on because they can't cope with reality, then I'm sorry, but that's not my fault.

yours,

OP

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Anonymous Coward

the wisest

The wisest course of action when it comes to the existence or not of deities is to file it in the "I neither see evidence for or against their existence and will therefore wait to find out."

It may turn out that when we pop our collective clogs we discover that actually that the universe was created by a gang of bored sentient super meerkats to while away the endless hours in their infinite flat meerkativerse. But as it is, there's little point in arguing about it, it just makes you look silly, on either side of the debate.

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Re: Self-contained in your madness.

"I believe there is no God" - a statement of faith.

Not necessarily. I'm fully willing to believe there are atheists who are so convinced of their position that they reject even the possibility of a God. The fact that I've never met or even heard of one doesn't matter. I'm sure you can find one somewhere in this big world of ours (although you might explain to them that they should really call themselves an antitheist rather than an atheist).

But your normal atheist will say "I believe there is no God" in the same way he would say "I believe that your asthmatic three-legged horse will not win the Grand National". It isn't a statement of faith, simply an opinion on probability. It is _possible_ that your horse will win, it is just that, based upon the available evidence, it is very very very unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

@Ivor

Don't be a . Every fcuking person on the planet is an atheist. You are too.

It just happens that i/we are atheists about *your* god. You are an atheist of every *other* god from history.

There is no need for belief or faith that there is no god.

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Headmaster

Whassat now?

Something unproven is a fact until proved otherwise?

I thought that something unproven was a theory until proved?

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Coat

I'm not sure. It might be.

Can you quote a bit more precisely which text you are referring to?

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Recent scientific discoveries...

...point to the existence of alternative universes and some kind of design to the universe we're in.

I'm afraid your Newtonian view of a cold, clockwork universe is outdated - science itself is leading us to some very strange ideas about the universe. Science still can't explain gravity properly as one example. See 'the Quantum self' by danah zohar for example.

If ever you're in real big need of help then try praying - you might be surprised.

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I have seen no convincing evidence FOR the existence of God- FACT.

your point?

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@Ivor 1

> "I believe there is no God" - a statement of faith.

Hmm... perhaps it should be stated as "I don't believe there is a god"

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Tit.le.

Something unproven is a fact until proved otherwise?

Nope - that there's called a hypothesis, idea, wondering, dream or imagining.

Theory or theorum comes later with the collation of data that supports it.

Data which that refutes that there hypothesis leads to it not becoming a theory.

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@Ivor 1, 13:38

> "I believe there is no God" - a statement of faith.

Only because you choose to interpret it that way based on how you've phrased it and conflate belief (as spiritual) and belief (as conclusion of thought).

Personally, I _think_ there is no God. No faith needed.

I don't believe (and or think) there's a teapot in orbit with Betrand Russell's name on it either.

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Headmaster

@mike2R: presumption unsupported by evidence

"But your normal atheist will say "I believe there is no God" in the same way he would say "I believe that your asthmatic three-legged horse will not win the Grand National". It isn't a statement of faith, simply an opinion on probability."

Those who use the term "probability" or "improbability" to justify a proposition as "reasonable" should be asked either:

a. to demonstrate how they calculated their number close to zero (if improbable) or close to one (if probable), showing assumptions, formulae, computations and method

b. or they can't begin to do this so they should admit that they really don't know.

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You don't understand science do you?

Science requires the postulation of a disprovable hypothesis. The notion of a god is not testable by science because it is based on faith not proof or disproof.

So from a scientific perspective god is irrelevant.

And then there is Occam's razor ....

.... which tends to get rid of the need for a god as there are better explanations (i.e. scientific ones) for the natural phenomenon we see around us.

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Title

hypothesis: a proposition assumed as a premise in an argument

theory: a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.

fact: something known to exist or to have happened

Therefore, "I believe there is no God" is not a statement of "fact" but, at best, could be considered a Theory. However, theory (or theorem for those maths people) is something at seems to work, but doesn't have definitive proof to make it a "law" or "fact." So, the statement then takes the actual role of "hypothesis" since there has been no supporting evidence for or against the existence of the beardy sky-man.

However, I think everyone is missing the point that a religious leader has denounced humankind's push to control the world around us and stated we should all give it up. This is definitely blind devotion if I've ever heard of it. Any (other) religious person would suggest beardy sky-man would want us to learn and grow in knowledge....or was that passage simply skipped over in bible study?

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Headmaster

Something unproven is a theory until proved...

A hypothesis is a proposition that attempts to explain a set of facts in a unified way. It generally forms the basis of experiments designed to establish its plausibility.

A scientific law is a hypothesis that is assumed to be universally true. A law has good predictive power, allowing a scientist (or engineer) to model a physical system and predict what will happen under various conditions.

A theory is a set of statements, including laws and hypotheses, that explains a group of observations or phenomena in terms of those laws and hypotheses. A theory thus accounts for a wider variety of events than a law does. Broad acceptance of a theory comes when it has been tested repeatedly on new data and been used to make accurate predictions.

Theories aren't facts. Theories don't get proved right...a good one just doesn't get proved wrong for a long time.

[/pedant]

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Jobs Horns

Shades of Galileo

Didn't this Nazi pope's predecessors try this same BS on Galileo many centuries ago. Of course like any politician, when in trouble (did he mention in his pronouncement on gravity anything about covering up priestly pedifiles) deflect by confusion with some saintly edict. This ex Nazi needs to get a serious day job!!!

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Lay off everyone

Fact: There is absolutely nothing that proves that the existence of God, by whatever name, can't exist. In fact, it's quite easy to reconcile the belief in a higher power with our current scientific knowledge.

Faith: There can't be a God because our science can explain everything.

Fact: The universe is an infinitely complex place. The odds against it even coming into existence randomly are astronomical. So much so in fact that it requires a 'many worlds' theory to account for the very existence of our planet. That taken into consideration, atheism and and belief in a higher power require approximately equal amounts of faith.

Now, if we can all behave like civilized, modern men instead of like the barbaric civilizations of yore that felt the need to belittle and attack everyone who didn't share their faith I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated by all.

Kudos to Ivan for having the balls to openly point out the extremely erroneous thinking that leads one to believe that faith is foolish. Now I'll just take my coat and go before you all descend into adolescent name calling and frothy rage at the thought that someone intelligent enough to be reading El Reg can still accept the possibility of a higher power.

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Boffin

I'm ambivalent about whether or not there may be a 'god'

but I am very confident nothing humanity has dreamed up would come minutely close if there is.

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Alert

Geez ... Gravity's **easy**

The earth sucks!

(You people are soooo superstitious....)

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Well

When when people start pestering me on religion I don't use the word believe I just say there is no god (or if they piss me off there is no all knowing sky fairy) ;)

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Joke

That would be...

...a YES vote for AV then?

"Don't be a . Every fcuking person on the planet is an atheist. You are too.

It just happens that i/we are atheists about *your* god. You are an atheist of every *other* god from history."

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re: Lay off everyone

"So much so in fact that it requires a 'many worlds' theory to account for the very existence of our planet. That taken into consideration, atheism and and belief in a higher power require approximately equal amounts of faith."

Not remotely. The odds for the existence of an Earthlike world are pretty good actually. The odds of the universe itself coming into being? We don't know. We don't have enough information. You really can't infer anything from that. And "we don't know" DOES NOT mean "God did it," it only means we don't yet know, and don't know if we can ever know.

Besides, even if "God did it," that just turns the question into "So where did God come from then?" Any answer to that can just as easily be applied to the beginning of the universe in the same way, without any need to invoke a "God" in the first place.

Equal amounts of faith? Not hardly. The God-botherers are the ones postulating the existence of a God in the first place, it's up to them to find hard evidence that he exists. The rest of us simply have more useful things to do. We don't need to prove nonexistence.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Recent scientific discoveries...

"If ever you're in real big need of help then try praying - you might be surprised."

You can spend your life grovelling on your knees in the misguided hope that some hate filled mythical being will listen to your whining rather than damn you to everlasting torture on a whim.

I prefer to live my life in reality and solve my problems like a grown up.

Oh and that help you pray for, had any replies lately?

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Ok, let's just go over this simply

1. Reconcile is the important word. It's possible to reconcile the belief that Zeus causes lightning by flinging bolts from the sky, but when you have to reconcile a belief you shouldn't be asking "how can I make this fit in with the real world", you should be asking "could it just be that that belief is wrong?" The fun thing about believers is that the second question almost never gets asked, and mostly, I've found, when they do ask themselves it they either go off on an extremist tangent (i.e. proper fundy) or lose their faith. I'm not a fan of anecdotal evidence, but the above is more impressive than evidence for prayer.

2. You know what? It'd be nice if there was a benevolent god up there, I just don't think it's likely, and I find it even more unlikely that it's the Judeo-Christian one, and quite frankly I wouldn't want it to be anyway, he's a pretty horrible god, not very far removed from his warlike bronze age roots. Saying that something is so complicated therefore conjecture A must be right is utterly ridiculous. If you don't see this, just replace it with something else that humans have created. Computers are ridiculously complicated, therefore God. See why it's silly?

3. The universe isn't infinitely complex.

4. The universe is here, just because we haven't explained it yet doesn't mean we should assume god. Tell you what, show me one piece of evidence that isn't revelatory, doesn't mention complexity or isn't a thinly veiled argument against scientific reasoning that god exists based on the formation of the universe and I'll convert if it's actually reasonable.

5. Why do you think that the many worlds theory is bizarre? I don't get this at all. Yes it's counter-intuitive, but that doesn't make it wrong. In one of those recent sciencey programmes on BBC4 the guy went to a lab where they supercooled a liquid so that it could pass through a stopper. Is that intuitive? Or how about quantum tunnelling or quantum entanglement? Is that intuitive? Do you deny that it occurs? Goodness, you believe in something that your own revelatory text says can't be explained, yet you think that is more natural and intuitive than a many worlds outlook? If the many worlds outlook explains all the evidence, why not use it as a framework? Look at it this way, the Bible says that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Which is more intuitive, that it's a flat out lie, plain wrong, or that Jesus was actually the Son of an immeasurably powerful being who knows everything, sees everything, and changes the course of history once in a while.

6. "That taken into consideration, atheism and and belief in a higher power require approximately equal amounts of faith." This is ridiculous. Do you put more or less effort in cultivating your belief in a god than your belief that fairies do not exist? How often do you spend each day considering your belief that fairies do not exist? See where I'm going?

7. "modern men instead of like the barbaric civilizations of yore that felt the need to belittle and attack everyone who didn't share their faith" Presumably you mean the Israelites under the command of the Judeo-Christian god. Take your god out of our schools, our science, and our politics and I'll consider it.

8. I do believe that faith is foolish if it's something that has no real basis. I would call someone a fool if they told me that they had faith the world was flat, or if they told me that they had faith that Santa was coming (and they were over the age of about 7), or if they told me that they had faith that a voice in their head had told them something. I have faith that time will continue going forward, but there's a very good reason for that. Unquestioning faith in something that leads to framing unrelated events and discarding anything that might disagree with your belief is foolish, there's no question of that.

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Odds of existence

"The odds for the existence of an Earthlike world are pretty good actually. The odds of the universe itself coming into being? We don't know."

In fact, we *do* know the odds of the universe coming into being: 1. It happened. There is no *chance* of it being, it *is*.

As a matter of fact, given the evidence available you can conclude that a universe cannot fail to be created -- to date, all known universes exist, there are none that failed to come into being.

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supporters of ancient fantasy, wrong again !!

"become "like God". " - why set your sights so low ?

God can't fix my computer, but i can

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Joke

@Sarah

You are being too narrow minded. Those who embrace god never need to fix their computer because it never goes wrong!

Or alternatively, they just need to pick it up and shake it upside-down to re-boot and then twiddle the two grey knobs again until they get the picture that they had before. (with acknowledgement to Dilbert)

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LOL!

The Etch-a-sketch approach to fixing a PC LOL!!

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Joke

@ Bristol

So those closest to gods... Use a mac?

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Not quite there..

>Those who embrace god never need to fix their computer because it never goes wrong!

I would imagine* that it's more likely that the computer is working the way that God wants it to, it's all part of his plan and it is not likely that a humble being such as a user would understand why anyway.

:-)

*cos lord knows I don't intend to actually think about it.

ttfn

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@Sarah

"God can't fix my computer, but i can"

and you know what God can and cannot do, how exactly?

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Title

A dead guy said so a couple of thousand years ago. If you can't trust a two millennia old stiff, his chroniclers several centuries later, and various successive sets of partisan translators, who can you trust?

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Jobs Halo

No no no no no...

God designed the mac...

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Alert

@Bristol

No, no, no! You're really missing the point. Those who embrace god will never need (nor use) a computer...because they **know* whatever answer they already have to a question or issue is automatically right.

(ref. evangelicals, Tea Baggers, Taliban, Whazzits Armadinnerjacket, etc. and you're soon see my point)

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praise the lord !

Just curious: is this the pope with the shady past that doesn't seem to register that his staff has an issue with staying away from kids ? Did he mention anything about this in that Mass ?

For the record: I live in Belgium, I'm baptized (tradition, apparently) but my kiddo's are not. I've heard that in the near future we'll be able to mention on our tax forms which religion (if any) we want our tax euro's go to, and I can't wait for the day that happens.

I have no issue with religion (in moderation), but I wouldn't mind if the Vatican encountered 3 of the apocalyptic Horsemen (not Death, he would be too nice. I read Pterry's works, so I am biased. As for War: maybe better send his wife).

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Anonymous Coward

Popes should have a GCSE in science

"like God"

Actually, better than God: he doesn't exist, and I stubbornly do, so I win.

"we can fly (...) yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful"

Well, electro magnetism is a lot more powerful, so does that mean that God used his weakest force to keep us on earth, only to eventaully see us flying? Slap your forehead God! You should have put more iron in our blood, and a bigger magnet in earth's core!

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Exist ?

Are you sure ? I thought I'd made you up.

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Happy

True

I was surprised he chose gravitation as the "powerful" example. Or maybe that's his point, that even "God's" weakest force can defeat us ;-)

"The Lord is veangeful. Oh Spiteful One, show me who to smite, and he shall be smoten!" - H. Simpson

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Nope

"I was surprised he chose gravitation as the "powerful" example. Or maybe that's his point, that even "God's" weakest force can defeat us ;-)"

Probably because he's never heard of the others.

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Boffin

Least powerful force?

There are quite a few examples in nature of where gravitational attraction exceeds electromagnetic repulsion. Neutron stars and black holes, for starters.

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Gravity doesn't even exist, you know.

It's the curvature of spacetime, not a force of attraction - ask Einstein.

You fall down because space is bent.

(Also the Strong Force is much stronger than electromagnetism. Hence the name.)

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Fundamentals

I think they meant in their smallest measurable amount a Photon is 6 x 10 -39 stronger than a Graviton(?)

It's possible the Papal schools don't cover the fundamental interactions in particle physics.

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Education these days

National curriculum ftw.

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Man should abandon hopes of being like God...

...because no matter how hard we try, we'll never achieve his level of malevolence and ironic humour.

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