Monday, May 30, 2011

Science and Religion … Stupid Catholics.

Every time I hear that all of religion is against science, I just sigh.

They want to cite Galileo. You can read about him in my evolution article. Short version: Considering that he found himself on trial by insulting the Pope, he was lucky, and merely put under house arrest. The charges basically amounted to being a jerk without a license … I should note that Richard Dawkins has such a license. He's British.

Well, I'm Catholic. I think I'm part of the only religion that has it's own observatory. Two of them. One of them is parked outside the Pope's summer home of Castel Gandalfo. We also have a very odd blessing … in 1924, the Church has a blessing for a seismograph.

My church is weird.

Then they whine: evolution!!!  I reply: the Church gave it its "blessing" in 1926 -- meaning that if it is true, that's merely the mechanism of God's action, and it's perfectly okay for Catholics to believe in it.

The major cry about religion being against science amounts to a cry of “Oh, what about embryonic stem cells. Waaaahhhh!!!!!” The short version on embryonic stem cells is that they have been portrayed as a potential miracle cure for practically everything from cancer to paraplegia, and the evil religious people are against it, because all religious people are against science, and progress, etc.

The stated position of most religions I've kept up on has been “Can we have a scientific advancement that doesn't involve killing infants in utero? Thanks.”

However.... Considering that, in 2007, Kyoto University researcher Shinya Yamanaka has already been able to transform skin cells into any other type of cell, I don't think stems cells are really relevant, do you? (Nature, June 6, 2007).

But, what do I know? I'm only the stupid Catholic. Richard Dawkins says that all religious people are stupid, and Dawkins is an educated man.

Let's go through a brief history of scientific research. However, I have a little list … actually, it's a long, long list, and a good chunk of them are here.

I think I'll cover the big names to start with. Below the break

Polish cleric Nicolaus Copernicus (birth name: Mikołaj Kopernik): Doctor of canon law, practiced medicine, deputy counselor of the financial regulations of Prussia. Best known for going against the Ptolemaic understanding of the universe with his heliocentric theory (Earth goes round the sun). His theories formed the basis for the modern calendar. Pope Clement VII was an admirer. Copernicus self-censored himself to a degree that even priests were wondering what was wrong with him. When asked to participate on the Lateran counsel, he said that he didn't understand the solar year enough … if Galileo taught science with this level of honesty, he never would have been brought before anybody (unless, of course, he wanted to slam the Pope anyway, in which case, he'd be screwed one way or another.)

There are three people who should be well known, but really aren't. Men named Ampere, Volta, and Coulomb, for whom the electrical units Amp, Volt, and Coulombs are named. They're all Catholic.

Sixteenth century Abbe Jean-Antoine Nollet was the first to recognize the importance of points on conductors in electrical discharge—which helped with creating the lightning rod … which was invented by a Norbertine priest named Divisch before he had heard of Benjamin Franklin. Divisch also tried to use electricity for the treatment of disease … don't ask how he did it, because I didn't look it up further, and I shudder at the thought.

But, what do I know? The great and powerful Richard Dawkins says that all religious people are stupid, and Dawkins is an educated man.

In the field of genetics, Darwin is more or less a loser compared to Gregor Mendel, abbot of the Abbey of St. Thomas. Instead of hopping on a boat to sail the world, Mendel stayed in his abbey and ran experiments, and discovered the patterns of heredity that we now call dominant and recessive genes. Not bad for a guy on a church paycheck, is it?

The father of pathology, Giovanni Battista Morgagni, was a consultant to five Popes, devout Catholic, spawned fifteen children—all eight daughters became nuns, and one of his sons became a Jesuit priest.

The father of modern crystallography was Father Rene-Just Hauy … professor of literature, developer of pyro-electricity … prisoner of the atheist French Revolution.

But Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens say that all religious people are stupid, and they are all educated men.

You have multiple genera and species named after priests who were botanists—look up Hladnik and the Austrian Jesuit von Wulfen, to start.

Father Christopher Scheiner (1575-1650), studied the sun, and discovered sunspots before Galileo. Though he didn't publish immediately because, according to his own journals and friends, he was scared of being made fun of by fellow academics.

Father Pietro Angelo Secchi (19th century), surveyed over 4,000 stars; his division of spectral types is what Harvard's own classification system is based on.

The first map of the moon's surface was made by two priests named Grimaldi and Riccioli (it now hangs in the front entrance of the National Space Museum in DC.)

Individual Jesuits have 35 craters named after them because of their mathematical tributes …(Crap. You can't even get away from the Jesuits on the moon.)

Father Riccioli was also the first person to determine the rate of a freefalling body, and the first to create a pendulum so accurate he calculated the constant of gravity. Father Grimaldi discovered the diffraction of light, and even coined the term diffraction.

But, they must all have been truly stupid. For Richard Dawkins says that all religious people are stupid, and Dawkins is an educated man. They are all educated men....

That's not a smack against educated men. Nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg admitted at reality is designed in such a way that even the improbably is essentially possible.  He is quoted as having said "The first swallow from the cup of the natural sciences makes atheists -- but at the bottom of the cup God is waiting."

Heisenberg only has a Nobel Prize, but what does he know ....

Wait? What's that? Richard Dawkins doesn't have one of those? I guess being a zoologist doesn't leave you open to such things. Oh well.

“The Republic has no need of scientists or chemists; the course of justice cannot be suspended.” Jean-Baptist Coffin Hall, President of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Atheist and anti-Catholic.

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