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Scientists should unite against threat from religion

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Just when you thought things couldn’t get any sillier, now Sam Harris, author of “Letter to a Christian Nation” publishes a letter in Nature calling all good scientists to oppose religion at every turn. Unfortunately for Sam, the letter is frought with inaccuracies and mischaracterizations that would make PiZza Myers proud. He even goes so far as to scold Nature for not taking a hard enough line against this pernicious evil.

Nature 448, 864 (23 August 2007) | doi:10.1038/448864a;  Published online 22
August 2007

Scientists should unite against threat from religion

Sam Harris1
     1      Address withheld by request http://www.samharris.org

Sir

It was genuinely alarming to encounter Ziauddin Sardar’s whitewash of Islam
in the pages of your journal (‘Beyond the troubled relationship’ Nature 448,
131-133; 2007). Here, as elsewhere, Nature’s coverage of religion has been
unfailingly tactful – to the point of obscurantism.

In his Commentary, Sardar seems to accept, at face value, the claim that
Islam constitutes an “intrinsically rational world view”. Perhaps there are
occasions where public intellectuals must proclaim the teachings of Islam to
be perfectly in harmony with scientific naturalism. But let us not do so,
just yet, in the world’s foremost scientific journal.

Under the basic teachings of Islam, the Koran cannot be challenged or
contradicted, being the perfect word of the creator of the Universe. To
speak of the compatibility of science and Islam in 2007 is rather like
speaking of the compatibility of science and Christianity in the year 1633,
just as Galileo was being forced, under threat of death, to recant his
understanding of the Earth’s motion.

An Editorial announcing the publication of Francis Collins’s book, The
Language of God (‘Building bridges’ Nature 442, 110; doi:10.1038/442110a
2006) represents another instance of high-minded squeamishness in addressing
the incompatibility of faith and reason. Nature praises Collins, a devout
Christian, for engaging “with people of faith to explore how science – both
in its mode of thought and its results – is consistent with their religious
beliefs”.

But here is Collins on how he, as a scientist, finally became convinced of
the divinity of Jesus Christ: “On a beautiful fall day, as I was hiking in
the Cascade Mountains… the majesty and beauty of God’s creation
overwhelmed my resistance. As I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful and
unexpected frozen waterfall, hundreds of feet high, I knew the search was
over. The next morning, I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and
surrendered to Jesus Christ.”

What does the “mode of thought” displayed by Collins have in common with
science? The Language of God should have sparked gasping outrage from the
editors at Nature. Instead, they deemed Collins’s efforts “moving” and
“laudable”, commending him for building a “bridge across the social and
intellectual divide that exists between most of US academia and the
so-called heartlands.”

At a time when Muslim doctors and engineers stand accused of attempting
atrocities in the expectation of supernatural reward, when the Catholic
Church still preaches the sinfulness of condom use in villages devastated by
AIDS, when the president of the United States repeatedly vetoes the most
promising medical research for religious reasons, much depends on the
scientific community presenting a united front against the forces of
unreason.

There are bridges and there are gangplanks, and it is the business of
journals such as Nature to know the difference.

49 Replies to “Scientists should unite against threat from religion

  1. 1
    Beast Rabban says:

    It’s another example of how the ‘New Atheists’ know precious little philosophy or even the history of science. Harris, Dawkins and co. believe that science should take the lead in public life in attacking religion. Yet other scientists, better versed in philosophy, have rejected this.

    For example, the pioneering German sociologist, Carl Weber, took seriously Leo Tolstoy’s famous question, ‘What should we do? How are we to live?’ Addressing this issue, Weber concluded from his reading of Kant that science alone could not tell people how to live, as that had to come from the wider matrix of values and beliefs in broader society. In that respect, he felt that scientists should not mix themselves up with politics.

    To be sure, Weber was not apolitical. He was a founding member of the German Democratic Party, a centrist party which collaborated with the Socialists in German politics. However, he did not believe that scientists had to be political agitators, a la Marxism.

    As a statement of the failings of empirical science to address wider concerns, Weber’s views still stand, as the criticisms of the logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle demonstrate, and the way contemporary secular Humanism has to incorporate values from literature and philosophy, and even the Bible(!) to make positive statements about morality and life.

    This to me clearly demonstrates that Harris is talking out of his hat.

  2. 2
    nullasalus says:

    Did Bush veto ‘the most promising medical research’ for religious reasons? I thought they were moral/ethical reasons – and isn’t it a common claim that atheists, too, can be as moral and ethical as those faith-heads and religionists?

    Sam Harris strikes me as someone who would be enraged at finding out some atheists (not to mention agnostics) can side with the religious on a host of moral, “religious” issues. Even an atheist can be against stem cell research.

    But this just shows me that the fight over religion is motivated less by actual questions of faith or lack thereof, and more about – what a surprise – politics and social aims. Still, I have to admit that it’s fun to see Sam Harris writing. The guy seems almost superstitious in his fear of being polite to believers.

  3. 3
    russ says:

    Did Bush veto ‘the most promising medical research’ for religious reasons? I thought they were moral/ethical reasons – and isn’t it a common claim that atheists, too, can be as moral and ethical as those faith-heads and religionists?

    Anyone can go out and do stem cell research tomorrow if they want. Bush didn’t “veto” that. He just vetoed a bill requiring TAXPAYERS to do so. That’s why taxpayers in the state of California are on the hook for billions in stem cell research, and its why stem cell researchers can still spend their own money on infant stem cell experimentation.

  4. 4
    russ says:

    I should have said payers of FEDERAL TAX. The states can do whatever they want to fund stem cell research.

  5. 5
    nullasalus says:

    russ,

    Thank you, good point – I had forgotten about that part.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm:

    What intrigues me is not that Mr Harris is so ill-informed — cf here on Galileo for instance for a few balancing thoughts — and hostile to/ contemptuous of ethics [cf the ongoing thread on CD’s 1861 quote on ID! Note too how “religious” is now a dismissive smear word, and how philistine Mr Harris is about the experience of Wonder in the face of God’s Creation]; but, that Nature apparently did not seriously fact-check or “peer review” the letter before publishing it.

    Would Nature be so generous with space and review policy to say a Behe or a Dembski?

    Worth a thought

    GEM of TKI

    PS: On Mr Harris’ contempt-filled sneer on the Catholic Church, AIDS, condoms and villages, what was all that about the successful Abstinence and Fidelity-based Uganda ABc – I stress the lower case on the “c” deliberately – strategy again as Ted Green of Harvard reported it?

  7. 7
    Mats says:

    As it is the case with atheists, they equivocate Islam with Christianity. He compares Muslim medical doctors engaging in terrorrist activities with Christians who oppose, for example, steem cell research, or the use of condoms.

    Poor Sam Harris..

  8. 8

    Like the other proponents of “reason”, Harris assumes in his argument that reason was handed down from heaven on a plate. That’s fine by me, but completely indefensible from his point of view.

    Where does this “reason” which needs to be defended with such drastic action come from? Why is it important? How can we know it’s reliable? Science can’t answer these questions – they are beyond its boundaries. In calling for science to exclude that which is beyond the boundaries of science in order to defend reason, Harris’s letter is just one more atheist exercise in self-contradiction.

    David
    http://bcse-revealed.blogspot.com

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    Scientists should unite against threat from religion.

    Yeah thats right Sam Harris true “truth seeking scientists” should unite against the false religion and science of Darwinism!

  10. 10
    DLH says:

    Sam Harris presumes rational thought as primary truth and upholds Darwinian evolution with religious fervor. These assumptions led to Hitler’s Holocaust to advance the Aryan race by destroying those “less fit”. They are the basis of Communism’s great sword which killed some 135 million people in the 20th century to destroy religion and advance atheism in the name of the “People.” They are the foundation of the lucrative abortion industry’s silent slaughter of over 50 million in the US alone at the altar of profit and convenience. Such is Darwinian “morality” founded on random mutation and survival of the fittest. Harris raises a desperate cry against “religion” lest his own “morality” be exposed.

  11. 11
    tribune7 says:

    Russ, you beat me too it w/regard to embryonic stem cell research.

    I don’t think there is a jurisdiction in the U.S. where it is illegal.

    The debate is entirely about money. The embryonic stem cell researchers apparetnly cannot get private funding because private investors do not see their claims as promising and do not feel it is the worth the risk.

    So the researchers are now going to the public, building those who oppose it for ethical reasons into strawmen, and saying GIVE ME MONEY AND YOUR CHILD WILL WALK.

    All they need is a flashy suit and a pompadour.

    And, cynic that I am, I really believe that many of those researchers don’t expect much in the way of results.

    But they (and a lot of politically connected people) are going to get nice paychecks and it will be hard to hold them accountable for the promises they make.

    We don’t have the results yet BECAUSE YOU HAVEN”T GIVEN US ENOUGH MONEY!!! WE NEED MORE MONEY!!! DON’T YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO WALK?????

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    DLH, I think you may be interested in this TV special coming on Sat and Sun;
    http://www.coralridge.org/darwin/

    This 60 minute special featuring Ann Coulter, author of Godless; Richard Weikart, author of From Darwin to Hitler, Lee Strobel, author of The Case for a Creator; Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution; Phillip Johnson, author of Darwin on Trial; Michael Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box, and Ian Taylor, author of In the Minds of Men will show why evolution is a bad idea that should be discarded into the dustbin of history.

  13. 13
    Atom says:

    Catholics out there,

    I may be wrong, but is Harris correct in saying the Catholic Church opposes condom use? I thought the Church only opposed methods of contraception that killed the embryo, but was perfectly fine with barrier methods. (This could be a misunderstanding on my part, since I have never been Catholic.)

    Thanks,
    Atom

  14. 14
    tribune7 says:

    I may be wrong, but is Harris correct in saying the Catholic Church opposes condom use?

    The Catholic Church condemns all forms of artificial contraception, including condoms.

  15. 15
    Atom says:

    Thanks tribune, I wasn’t aware that the ban was total.

  16. 16
    gpuccio says:

    Tribune7 is perfectly right. The Catholic Church condemns all forms of artificial contraception, including condoms.
    The only form of contraception allowed is the “Ogino-Knaus” form, which, for reasons which I don’t really understand, is considered “natural”.
    The most serious consequences are that many catholics have to meet deep inner contradictions when the prohibition of condoms is in conflict with other moral problems, like the risk of transmitting HIV, for instance.

  17. 17
    Lurker says:

    Michael Shermer thinks Harris is irrational. Oh, the irony!!

    “It is irrational to take a hostile or condescending attitude toward religion because by doing so we [atheists] virtually guarantee that religious people will respond in kind.”

  18. 18
    Jehu says:

    I wasn’t aware that AIDS was ravaging the Catholic Church for lack of condom use. So I guess what is happening is that AIDS is spread in Africa by Catholics who ignore the Church’s teaching on fornication but listen when it comes to condoms? “The bad news is I am committing fornication but the good news is I am not using birh control.”

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    I don’t think that being a friend of science requires one to promote condom use. The same love of intelligent design in nature should also foster a love of the natural moral law. That means that the emphasis should be on chastity and not condom use. No one ever acquired AIDs by following the Church’s teaching. Here in America, secularists say “well, they are goin to do it anyway, so let’s just give up and pass out the condoms.” That same principle is in danger of being applied abroad. Anyone or any group can benefit from sound moral training.

  20. 20
    bork says:

    Isn’t there some irony here? I mean Sam Harris believes in reincarnation- isn’t that considered “ignorant” by most of his peers?

    I don’t PZ or Dawkins attacking him for this “fallacious” belief.

  21. 21

    Well, now, people, one thing you gotta realize is that, while condoms may be unnatural, so is waiting to get married, and therefore have sexual relations, until your 20s at least. We’re biologically adults once we can breed, pretty much. We delay adulthood because we have a complex enough society that it would be very difficult for a 14-year-old to deal on their own, but that 14-year-old’s instincts haven’t changed.

    Revealed religions and their ethics can be perfectly good things, but for those who either weren’t raised with them (some few of us), and who didn’t live through the times their scriptures describe (all of us), there is nothing about them that compels us to believe what they say. I’m no athiest, but I cannot accept 2000-year-old writings as true just because others say they are. And, there are older religions out there, those that had goddesses of fiery sexual appetite and such things.

    I think it’s a damn shame there are so many negative consequences possible from sex. It is simply unrealistic, and may even be a sign of mental illness, to expect people, by and large, to resist their most basic and powerful urges.

    The problem in Africa isn’t really sex in and of itself, anyway. The sad truth is, many men in Africa force young girls to have anal sex with them by threatening to withold food if they don’t. Africa is a war-ravaged, starving hellhole in many ways besides the spread of AIDS. With the level of depravity, I think you might be foolish to expect people to go from coerced sodomy to chastity.

    http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/

  22. 22
    StephenB says:

    Charles F, you frame the issue very well. That is precisely what all the fuss if about. Should we encourage natural appetites no matter what bizarre direction they would choose to lead us, or should we use our reason to tame them to in accordance to some higher standard that may well cause some frustration. I don’t think self control is synonymous with mental illness. I think mental illness prompts one to think self control is impossible.

  23. 23

    You misrepresent me, StephenB. Of course self-control is not synonymous with mental illness, though I perhaps wrote poorly on that point. My only point is, there are limits. If you really want people to have sex only in the context of marriage, a stance I agree with, than you need to let people get married sooner. Large-scale, long-term chastity in the general population has NEVER been achieved. What makes you think it’s realistic?

    In the case of Africa, their lives are so terrible, that asking them to give up their few pleasures is almost cruel. “Gee, I sure am glad I’m chaste, now! No AIDS for me! Too bad I just had both hands chopped off because I live too close to a diamond mine. Gee, how will I farm?”

    This is all making me sound way more like a liberal than I actually am, but I would like a reason why chastity is actually preferable to barriers, besides those of revealed religions. I’m not saying those are wrong, I’m saying they’re not going to be compelling for everyone.

  24. 24
    littlejon says:

    Foljambe: interesting point. Surely the “barrier” that condom use is often intended for is when rape has been used as a weapon of war, then subsequently to stop transmission within marriage. It seems slightly unrealistic to expect married couples to abstain for the rest of their lives if this particular evil has been visited upon the wife.

  25. 25

    It’s very easy for us, in the civilized world, where rapists and murderers are punished and there is plenty of food and TV and the interwebs to say, “Bad Afwicans! Woo shoed be Abstwaining!” Especially since we’ve eliminated teenage pregnancy and AIDS in our own countries… Acutally, as far as I know, the only places that come close are places where a girl suspected of not being a virgin can be “tested”, and raped and/or killed if she fails.

    http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    Well, of course no sane society can be achieved right away. The point is, someone must choose which direction the moral sensibilities are going to go, not just in terms of sex but also in terms of what a well-ordered society should be like.

    Sure, you have to navigate through this hell the best way you can.
    But what about the long run? Do we simply say these people will always be in hell, or do we look to the future? What “principle” are we going to promote? Are we going to teach people that sex is for strengthening the bond between husband and wife and for propagating the species–or are we going to say that sex if strictly for fun.

    People don’t just behave from instinct, they act on what they believe. Those countries are hell holes because of what their leaders believe. The question is, what do we want them to believe. There are two extremes to be avoided: 1)Puritainism,which says that sex is bad, 2)Secularism, which says is an unqualified good.

    The reasonable position is that sex is good when it is used the way it was designed (there’s that word again) to be used. Since we are always selling ideas, why not sell that idea to one family at a time.

    Condoms may slow the rate at which AIDs is spread, but it will not solve the problem. That requires changing minds and hearts. Obviously, that includes the hearts of rapists.

    Why is chastity better than a “barrier?” Because chastity reinforces the principle that sex has a purpose. If that brings God into the equation, then so be it. While I am at it, I might as well go all the way. I mean the Christian God and no other. I don’t think any other revealed religion characterizes sex in an authentic way.

    By the way, don’t hold the other bloggers accountable for my views. I seem to be alone here.

  27. 27
    Jehu says:

    Oh give me a break. It is entirely possible for people to abstain from premarital sex. Of course, if you believe it is impossible for you, it is. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

  28. 28
    gpuccio says:

    A few comments:

    Self control in sex and other things is certainly a good thing, but I try to differentiate what is good for those who freely accept it and what can be imposed to vast numbers of people by ideology. Prsonally, I believe that the purpose of religion is more to advice the individual in his personal search for truth and God, than to create rigid rules for everyone.

    Anyway, even from a moral point of view, the moral distinction between using a condom and having sex with the explicit purpose of not procreating, like in the Ogino-Knaus method, simply eludes me. I think that, in both cases, the couple is practicing sex for its sake, and so bypassing the ideal of “sex for procreation”. I really can’t see the difefrence from the point of view of the individual’s moral attitude, outside of the problem of obeying or not obeying what a church says.

    Finally, I remember many years ago, on italian TV, a young catholic guy who, with great courage, faith and sincerity shared his personal experience. He had become HIV positive because of a transfusion (it was the beginning of AIDS diffusion), and he had chosen to go public about his condition to be of help to others with the problem. He was married, and he confessed that for a long time he had gone through a very deep inner suffering, before deciding that, for love of his wife, he did have to use condoms, in opposition to the church’s advice.
    I admired him greatly for his sincerity, and can see no fault in his decision. I would have liked that a higher flexibility in the church’s attitude had made things easier for him.

    Finally, I am not advocating condoms, or the pill, as a solution to anything. I am only saying that, as religious people, we should not judge others too easily, especially when big social issues like AIDS epidemics or the great number of unwanted pregnancies in very young people are at stake.

  29. 29
    JJS P.Eng. says:

    I think this is the proper thread for this.

    I was casually surfing and found a vague reference on PT by Mark Perakh to an essay by the “deserving of tenure” Hector Avalos entitled Creationists for Genocide. I could only read through a little bit before being absolutely disgusted by his blatant misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Christianity! Hopefully, someone is more able to calmly analyse and comment on this. If I try to say more, I may regret my words.

  30. 30
    DrDan says:

    The fact that this op-ed piece was published in Nature is rediculous. As a scientist, I don’t want to read this kind of garbage in a scientific journal.

    Oh well, it is what it is. As Beast Rabban said in post 1, Harris knows little about the history of science. Gallileo, was ostrisized by his fellow members of the academy, who followed the teaching of Aristotle, not by the Pope or Cardinals. It is a myth that is being perpetuated to this day that Harris has bought into. I guess when it comes to using reason, Harris does not use the same standards in history as he does in science.

  31. 31
    Lurker says:

    Not sure why my comment (#17) was held in moderation, but thank you Mr. Moderator for releasing it.

  32. 32
    scordova says:

    Lurker,

    Generally weblinks are prone to trigger our automatic spam measures. Because UD is heavily targeted, the admins have raised the level of automated defense very high.

    Regrettably this catches good comments as well. If it’s any consolation, on threads that I don’t start at UD, my comments get held up by the spam-defense-bots periodically as well.

    Sal

  33. 33
    Jehu says:

    I find it hard to believe that in a case where a husband has AIDS the catholic church opposes use of a condom. If they beleive that they are nuts! However, I think the prohibition is on birth control, not disease control. Also the catholic church does not oppose the rythm method, so the prohibition is just on artificial forms of birth control.

  34. 34

    I hate to bring up such a sore point, but the Catholic Church’s value of chastity, to the point that its clergy must be entirely chaste, is probably the biggest single factor in the sex abuse scandals of the past few years. These days, you don’t send your youngest son off to the Church to be trained as a priest: each person chooses. I think that any person, particularly any male, that would choose to NEVER have sex has some imbalances already. The problem is that, the dirtier you think sex itself is, the less dirty perversions of sex seem in that context. If sex for pleasure is already a sin, a necessary evil, and the wages of sin, ANY sin great or small, is death, what, really, is the difference between having normal sex for pleasure and raping children? God treats both the same. The idea that lust, in and of itself, even without acting on it, is a sin, in the end makes our sexuality inherently dirty and sinful. Sex is seen as necessary only in a fallen state. Jesus and Mary are both thought purer because neither was produced by “dirty” sex. Can you see how damaging it is to tell people that one of their strongest urges is evil? Celebrate sex, and even lust, make them sacred, and people will naturally treat them as some of their most treasured possessions, sharing them with only the most worthy. Villify sex and lust, and people will naturally hate them, and thus will be tempted to degrade and abuse them.

    And, by the way, I am married, and my 11-year relationship with my wife is the only, ahem, serious relationship I’ve ever had. This is partly because I was blessed with the opportunity to find someone, at the tender age of 17, who was truly special, and I took that opportunity and held onto it, over the objections of many others, because I would not settle for anything less, nor give it up once I found it. I have a profound respect for sex and sexuality, and by it I achieved a “purity” that most Catholics, and Christians in general, do not live up to. Christianity has many good features, but its attitude towards sex is not one of them.

    http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    I don’t understand why people use words like “judge” or “impose,” in this kind of dialogue. Some religious traditions propose slavery, torture, or murder after hearing the word no. I would call that imposing one’s beliefs. Some religious traditions deny the inherent dignity of the human person and condemn anyone who doesn’t agree with them. I would call that judging. Simple exhortations do not rise to this level. I submit, therefore, that those two words should not be used without due reflection.

  36. 36
    scordova says:

    DrDan wrote:

    The fact that this op-ed piece was published in Nature is rediculous. As a scientist, I don’t want to read this kind of garbage in a scientific journal.

    Agreed. It is especially ironic that Harris is demanding an emotional angry response from a scientific journal rather one of reasoned argument.

    How “scientific” is Harris’s behavior? Not to mention, he might have a bit more regard for a scientist like Francis Collins that has excelled Harris by light years.

  37. 37
    Jehu says:

    Charles,

    You are not accurately representing the Chrisitan view of sex. The Christian view of sex is that it is good and pleasureable within the context of marriage. Only sex outside marriage is wrong. Now about the celebacy thing, that is a Roman Catholic deal, it is not normative for Chrisitianity. Even the Catholics did not require priests to be celebate until about 1000 years ago. The apostle Paul argued that a minister should be allowed to have a wife. The Eastern Orthodox church allows their preists to mary. Protestants priests and pastors get married.

  38. 38
    StephenB says:

    The charge made on post #34 that the Catholic Church regards the “sexual urge as evil” is so juvenile and misguided that it can only be a product of willful ignorance, So I am not going to respond to it. Besides I don’t want to wear out my welcome on this valued forum.

  39. 39

    Paul also said that it was better not to marry, to stay celibate, and only if one was too weak to do that, should one get married. Paul’s attitude was clearly to say that it was better not to be sexual than to be sexual. Further, the very term “immaculate conception” implies that normal conceptions are corrupt and dirty. Also, while the priests that serve the laiety in Orthodox traditions are allowed to be married, higher-ranking clergy may not be. I am aware that traditions outside of Catholicism allow the marriage of clergy. Still, even protestant congregations tend to disapprove of such things as revealing or otherwise “sexy” clothing. Not the most liberal congregations, certainly, but once you get to that point, even the appelation of “Christian” becomes questionable.

  40. 40
    StephenB says:

    Well, I was hoping I could leave this alone.
    1)Yes, St.Paul did say that the consecrated life of celibacy for priests surpasses that of the married life. One may disagree with that point, but no one has the moral right to twist its meaning into the notion that the sexual urge is “evil.” One can surpass many good things with better things. A little logic is in order here.

    2)The immaculate conception does not imply that normal conceptions are dirty. It implies that only way to avoid passing on the stain of original sin through human generation is to for that generation to occur through the Holy Spirit. Again, it has nothing to do with the sex act or the act of conception being dirty.

    I can understand folks who don’t agree with the Catholic Church. I don’t understand those who want to make it something it is not.

  41. 41
    jerry says:

    For those of you who do not know what the term “Immaculate Conception” means, here is the definition from Wikipedia which I assume was written by Catholics. There is apparently a lot of misperception of the term.

    “The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother’s womb: the dogma thus says that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, by sexual intercourse, should not be confused with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus.”

    Also from Wikipedia:

    “There is a widespread misunderstanding of the term immaculate conception: many believe it refers to the conception of Jesus by Mary, a confusion met also in the mass media. In the sense in which the phrase “Immaculate Conception” is used in the Roman Catholic doctrine, it is not directly connected to the concept of Mary’s “virginal conception” and the Incarnation of Christ. “

  42. 42
    The Scubaredneck says:

    While this is all very interetsing, it has nothing to do with the original point of the thread. Can we please get back on point?

    Thanks,

    The Scubaredneck

  43. 43

    Revelation 14:4: “These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins.”

    And, from the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Although a person who is a virgin may fail to correspond to the sublime graces of his or her state, and may be inferior in merit to a married person, yet experience bears witness to the marvellous spiritual fruit produced by the example of those men and women who emulate the purity of the angels.” (emphasis added)

    Also in their “virginity” section are several references to the preservation of “bodily integrity”, implying damage is done to a person when virginity is lost.

    In the end, virginity is seen as the ideal, and everyone unwilling to be a virgin for all their lives is less than ideal. Sex makes you less, according to Catholic doctrine and the bible itself. It makes you impure.

  44. 44
    Borne says:

    Charles Foljambe:

    “I’m no athiest, but I cannot accept 2000-year-old writings as true just because others say they are. And, there are older religions out there, those that had goddesses of fiery sexual appetite and such things.”

    Your information about the ‘2000 year old’ book is about 100 years out of date.

    There is no other manuscript of ancient history as well supported by solid evidence as that old book of books.

    Far more copies of old MSS of the scriptures exist than for any other well accepted MSS in history. That includes Homer, Aristotle and many many others.

    There are only a few copies of MSS for those well known characters and the most ancient date to over 1000 years after their writing!

    The NT alone has more than 20000 copies of MSS, the most ancient dating to less than 1 century after the events described.

    And no, there are no older religions out there. The goddessis just another demon looking for dupes… er I mean worshipers.

    As noted by Don Richardson in Eternity in their Hearts (and some others) the most compelling evidence tells us that belief in one true God is the oldest belief system in every ancient culture.

    Christianity and Judaism is the belief in one True God as described in the Hebrew scriptures which date back far longer than 2000 years ago. Christianity is based entirely upon the ancient Jewish scriptures. Christ is a Jew.

    As for Paul’s views on marriage – he himself wrote that much of what he said in the passages you mention was his own view and not God’s.

    Paul is thought by some to have been married himself since he was supposed to belong to the Sanhedrin which only received marriage men as members. Figure it out.

    You’re so far off into unadulterated ignorance it’s not funny – like most other agnostics, atheists – like Dawkins, Harris et al..

    Shame on you for not even doing your homework.

  45. 45

    Well, as I point out in my divinely inspired blog, http://outrageoracle.blogspot.com/, you can’t argue with experts. If it helps any, I think athiest fundamentalists are just as ridiculous as you…

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    Bless your heart Charles, you missed my point again and went off and insulted a new blogger. I feel jilted. I was trying to honor the wishes of scubaredneck and stay off religion. But your lapse in logic persists. If A surpasses B that doesn’t make B EVIL. What is it about good, better, best that you do not understand.

  47. 47
    John Kelly says:

    “Scientists should unite against threat from religion”

    Science and Religion do not threaten each other; they are merely complementary in purpose. It is believers and non-believers that threaten each other. Whoever Sam Harris is, he is a foaming idiot. It is inevitable that this type of reasoning from people like this will fall off to the way-side. It’s not a question of “If”, it is a question of “When”. Those who understand Intelligent Design also understand that the ability to predict the future is a function of the Intelligence within the Design; therefore, I can confidently say there is no need to worry about articles such as this, or even posting about anymore, they have no future.

  48. 48

    Well, now, I was actually taking rather a long time on my second-to-last post, and the Scubaredneck posted when I couldn’t see. I will simply say that second place is the first loser. See what I’m saying. Besides, “defiled” does not imply any good.

  49. 49
    Jason Rennie says:

    Don’t be too hard on old Sam Harris. He is basically the new atheists class clown.

    Although he has stiff competition for that title.

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