Divided by a common language: Richard Dawkins clarifies his position

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Those of you who have been watching the blogs over the last few days know that a kerfluffle has gone on about Richard Dawkins’s position on religion and religious freedom. Basically, Dawkins signed this scary-sounding petition, it was linked from the Official Richard Dawkins website, an ID blog that likes to think the worst about Dawkins freaked out, Ed Brayton freaked out because the plain reading of the petition (to American ears; see below) seemed anti-civil liberties, then PZ Myers freaked out in reaction to Ed, etc., etc. PZ did helpfully get some clarification from Dawkins, who then retracted his signature of the petition, but the disavowal didn’t cover the issues of whether or not the government should prevent parents from giving their children religious instruction, leading to yet more thinking of the worst on the ID blogs and yet more confusion in the comments on the blogs of PZ and Ed.

Well, I know that it is far more fun to spend endless threads bickering about what Richard Dawkins probably meant and whether or not it is good or evil, but as PZ noted, it really is better to email the guy. We can’t blame Ed for not doing so, because the petition had a clear meaning on its face. But it seemed to me that the problem was that the petition meant very different things in British vs. American contexts. I sent my hypothesis to Dawkins and he has confirmed it; I comment a bit more at the bottom.

From: Richard Dawkins Subject: Re: Clarification on religion petition? Date: Sun, 31 Dec 2006 08:52:30 +0000 To: Nick Matzke matzkeATncseweb.org

On 31 Dec 2006, at 03:20, Nick Matzke wrote:

Dear Dr. Dawkins,

I have observed the kerfluffle surrounding the petition to the PM and your retraction of it on Ed Brayton’s blog. I think part of what is going on is that Americans interpret the petition language as a proposed universal statue [sic – “statute”] statute applying even to private communications in the home, parents taking children to church, etc. – whereas the petition, although poorly worded, was actually aimed at restricting the British government’s promotion of religion in the government schools. The first would be a major violation of standard constitutional rights (in the U.S.) which makes people freak out; whereas the second is just a quite reasonable request to move the UK closer to the US position of strong church-state separation.

If you have half a second I would like to get your answer and post it on the Panda’s Thumb blog (www.pandasthumb.org). It may seem silly, but this would avoid endless misrepresentation of your views on this point by creationists and others. So here goes:

1. Is my above understanding correct, i.e., that you read the petition in the second sense that I described?

Yes. In my all too cursory reading of the petition (if I had read the whole thing more carefully, I would have noticed the coercive phraseology and would not have signed it) I of course assumed that it referred to schools, not parents in the privacy of the home. I am sure that was also the intention of the petition organizer. The very idea of giving that control freak Tony Blair any more power over people than he already has appals me, and probably appals the author of the petition too. The problem in Britain is that Blair and his colleagues are hell bent on increasing the influence of religion in British schools. I want to reduce the power of religion in the schools. Blair wants to increase it. I now see that, since the petition lamentably failed to mention that it referred to schools, it can all too easily be read as an attempt to expand government power beyond the schools and into the home.

Incidentally, another reason why I would not have signed, if I had read the supporting statement as well as the petition itself, is that I am positively in favour of two aspects of religious education. I advocate teaching the Bible as literature. And I advocate teaching comparative religion as an important anthropological phenomenon. Schools should teach: ‘Christians believe X, Muslims believe Y, Buddhists believe Z.’ But a teacher should never say something like ‘You are a Christian child and we Christians believe …’

2. Obviously you are opposed to theism and think it is harmful. But do you actually think it would be a good idea for a government to make it *illegal* for parents to teach their religion to their children? (e.g., taking them to church, sending them to Sunday school, giving them private religious instruction, etc.)

Of course I don’t think it would be a good idea. I am horrified by the thought. My entire campaign against the labelling of children (what the petition called ‘defining’ children) by the religion of their parents has been a campaign of CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING. I want to educate people so that they flinch when they hear a phrase like ‘Catholic child’ or ‘Muslim child’ – just as feminists have taught us to wince when we hear ‘one man one vote’. But that is consciousness-raising, not legislation. No feminist that I would wish to know ever suggested a legal ban on masculine pronouns. And of course I don’t want to make it illegal to use religious labels for children. I want to raise consciousness, so that the phrase ‘Christian child’ sounds like a fingernail scraping on a blackboard. But if I dislike the use of religious words to label children, I dislike even more the idea that governments should police the words that anybody uses about anything. I don’t want a legal ban on the use of words like nigger and yid. I want people to feel ashamed of using them. Similarly, I want people to feel ashamed of using the phrase ‘Christian child’, but I don’t want to make it illegal to use it.

Also please let me know if I may post your answer on the Panda’s Thumb blog.

Yes, you may post this entire e-mail, and I hope you will include your own admirably clear introduction.

By the way, Ed Brayton himself made the same point very clearly during the exchanges on his blog:

“If the petition was specific to what could and could not be taught in government-fun [presumably government-run] and financed schools, I would absolutely be in favor of it. But the text never mentions schools or government indoctrination, it says that the government would make it illegal to “indoctrinate” any child, which would include their parents advocating and teaching their own religion as well. That is my objection to it. If it only dealt with what schools could teach, I would be all for it.”

Posted by: Ed Brayton | December 30, 2006 01:07 PM

Bloody hell! All that storm in a teacup for nothing! If only the petition had been worded properly in the first place … And if only I had read it more carefully … And if only Brayton had read it more charitably … No wonder lawyers and diplomats need special training. I’m out of my depth here.

Richard Dawkins

Thanks so much for your time, Nick Matzke

So, hopefully that answers all of the outstanding questions about Richard Dawkins’s committment to religious freedom, and those who desire can get back to discussing his actual views on science and/or religion.

A final comment: It is commonly said that the U.S. and the U.K. are divided by a common language, and I think we have a strong case of that here, particularly with the legal/political context that can be put behind the very same words. To Americans, where there is no established church, and separation of church and state is rigorously maintained, any mention that indoctrinating or labeling children by their religion should be “illegal” seems like it must be advocating a massive intrusion of governmental power into the home. But in the UK, there is an established state church, religion is taught in the government schools, and, I gather, parents have to check boxes on tax forms and school forms to classify their children as Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, etc., and tax revenue and religion courses are alotted on this basis. Protesting this elaborate system of official government classification of children to the British Prime Minister is quite reasonable, particularly for a guy like Dawkins.

I think some cultural background that contributed to this confusion is found in the fact that Americans tend to be extremely litigious and view any particular activity as either (a) illegal and absolutely forbidden or (b) an absolute civil right and therefore completely without restriction of any sort. This is so natural that Americans don’t even realize that their way of thinking is peculiar unless they have spent a significant amount of time overseas.

Examples include:

* Private property: In the U.S., public land is public and private property is private and usually absolutely forbidden to the public. But in many other countries (like New Zealand and probably most of the British commonwealth) private land is often open to the public by default for hiking etc. It is quite clear that the British position is more rational and civilized, but for whatever reason Americans prefer to guard their private land with shotguns as if their lives depended on keeping everyone else off.

* Alcohol: In the U.S., alcohol is absolutely forbidden until the late age of 21, at which point you are suddenly given a license to get schnokered at will without restriction, which many people do. In many European countries, alcohol is served to teenagers in moderate amounts, and a culture of moderation limits binge drinking.

* Public/private schools: In the U.S., public schools are rigorously made to adhere to the Constitution and the state science standards, whereas private schools can usually teach whatever they want; other countries do things in very different ways.

* Finally, we have the religious establishment difference discussed above where the U.S. really is rather radical even compared with most other industrialized democracies (many of which have state churches and government-sponsored religious education).

For extra fun and confusion, in the U.K., the “private” “state” schools are run by the government and the “public” schools are privately funded. “Common language,” indeed.

(* Note: see comments for clarification on the not-so-clear terminology in various parts of the UK)

4 TrackBacks

Heat, Light, and Comments from Threads from Henry's Web on December 31, 2006 6:58 AM

This morning I awoke to start my early morning blog and e-mail work only to find that co.mments.com had supplied me (at my request) with seven messages alerting me to comments on Ed Brayton’s most recent blog entry on the Richard Dawkins petition... Read More

You can now read Richard Dawkins official statement on the controversial petition over at the Panda's Thumb.... Read More

There is a bit of a flap over two petitions, one signed by Richard Dawkins and one not. The flap seems to have started with two interacting posts, one by Mike Gene on Telic Thoughts and the other by Ed... Read More

While the blogosphere has been getting its collective knickers in a twist about why Richard Dawkins signed a mindlessly worded (and six-month old) British anti-religion petition—a petition that plays right into the hands of the creationist crazies—the... Read More

290 Comments

Thank you for trying to bring the fratricide to an end.

Actually in England: State schools are run by the government, Faith (used to be called “Church”) schools are run by permitted religious groups (Christian, Jewish, Muslim only at present, I believe) but are funded by the government, Private schools are privately funded and Public schools are generally the most exclusive private schools.

Scotland, I think, is different.

Fun indeed…

I was just thinking yesterday, most European countries are far more secular in culture than the U.S.- less of a strong force of Christianity in their nations. And most of them don’t have a strong tradition of separation of church and state- not as much as the U.S. There might be something to this. That the strength of Christianity in the U.S. directly correlates to our commitment to separation of church and state, and as long as we stay committed to the latter, the former (or some other similar belief system) will prevail.

Meanwhile, ID is to be taught in English religious education classes. Hmmmmm.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/articl[…]2524442.html

Obviously the petition was vague enough to cause knee jerks, but in my years of arguing with strict libertarian-types, as a progressive or ‘leftist’ even attempts to merely raise public awareness are interpreted as direct attempts to get government force legislation.

Actually in England: State schools are run by the government, Faith (used to be called “Church”) schools are run by permitted religious groups (Christian, Jewish, Muslim only at present, I believe) but are funded by the government, Private schools are privately funded and Public schools are generally the most exclusive private schools.

Scotland, I think, is different.

Fun indeed…

In Northern Ireland things are different again. The state schools (which are open to children of any religion/faith) are attended by mainly Protestant children. The Roman Catholic church has it’s own schools/education system and these are known as “the Catholic maintained sector”. They are often connected to Catholic churches (chapels). Most Roman Catholic children attend these. There is also a small, but growing, number of religiously integrated schools in the province. At least one fundamentalist Protestant school in the province is teaching YECism as science.

In addition to all of this, we still have academic selection, with the top 25% of children attending grammar schools and the remainder having to suffer the inferior secondary ones.

No moral person could possibly object to the petition. Needless to say, most Amereicans are immoral. Specifically, I live in a state (Arizona, one of many) that specifically protects the “rights” of religious parents to physically torture and kill their children in the name of religion.

The Apostrophe Avenger (Elf Eye’s alter ego [apostrophe for possession–used with nouns only!]) has arisen like Cthulhu, hungry for the flesh of writers who profane the sacred marks of punctuation. Not meaning to pick on Peter Henderson particularly, but it’s (apostrophe for contraction!) not “The Roman Catholic church has it’s own schools/education system.…” Therefore, will the aforesaid writer please return the misappropriated apostrophe to the supply room so that it will be there when you really need it. I know this may seem like a really petty point, but, hey, an apostrophe there and an apostrophe there, and pretty soon we’re talking real language decay. OK, having thoroughly embarrassed myself and revealed my true identity as a pedantic English professor, I will now shut up and slink back into my cubbyhole, where I will caress semicolons and dream of ellipses.

Peter, no offense I hope. Your post just happened to be the one to hand. I certainly don’t want to start a Henderson versus Apostrophe Avenger “kerfluffle”! Eeek! I can see it now: the partisans of possession beating up on the connoisseurs of contraction.

Cthulhu, I really am embarrassing myself!

Nick, thanks very much for your efforts. I am both a strong atheist and a strong civil libertarian. I become very concerned when atheists make statements or take actions which might in any way be interpreted as advocating limiting civil liberties, particularly freedom of conscience (or religion, if you prefer). In his ranting about theism, Dawkins has not been clear enough about his views on freedom of religion, and thus I have been bothered that people would think that Dawkins represents all atheists. I especially appreciate that he admits he has been “out of my depth” on the issue, something that was very apparent to me from reading his book. I hope his consciousness is being raised in this regard. The public image of atheists is poor, and we don’t need people like Dawkins (and PZ Myers) adding fuel to the fire. Now I agree with them that theistic beliefs are silly and are properly criticized, but we should emphasize that, in America, at least, freedom of religion is the law of the land. I am much more concerned about whether people understand and support civil liberties (including freedom of religion) than I am about whether they are theistic or not.

It is quite clear that the British position is more rational and civilized, but for whatever reason Americans prefer to guard their private land with shotguns as if their lives depended on keeping everyone else off.

Why is it “quite clear” that the British position is more “rational and civilized”?

“one people separated by a common language”

I dunno if it should be attributed to Twain,Wilde,Shaw,Churchill or others but I do know that the confusion can be embarrassing.

Don’t tell a Brit that you shag flies or an Aussie that you root for the home team.

One Yank consultant posited a foreign firm the question: “Do you have corporate muscle to pull it off?”

I’ll leave it at that.

Cheers!

OK, having thoroughly embarrassed myself and revealed my true identity as a pedantic English professor

I definitely couldn’t argue with a pedantic english professor ! Just as long as you don’t make any spelling mistakes !

Meanwhile, ID is to be taught in English religious education classes. Hmmmmm.

Why not? It’s a religious movement.

Peter,

Right! Now I will have to be vewy, vewy cahful.

For extra fun and confusion, in the U.K., the “private” schools are run by the government and the “public” schools are privately funded.

No, the “state” schools are run by the government - although sometimes in collaboration with various faith groups or (in recent years) private contractors (hence the Peter Vardy controversy). “Private” schools and “public” schools are both privately run, the difference being that the “public” schools are extremely posh - e.g. Eton. I’m sure that makes it all clear.

My understanding is that public schools in the UK were originally called that to distinguish them from the church-run schools. Any member of the public could attend (provided they paid the fees).

Years ago when I had to take religious instruction in school (before there had been much non-Christian immigration) most of us regarded it as a boring drag. From what I recall we concentrated on parables and similar uplifting stories. We were seldom encouraged to ask questions about the bible because invariably someone would find one of the passages most Christians would like to keep quietly hidden. All in all I think it acted as a fairly effective inoculation against the more extreme religious views.

“Alcohol: In the U.S., alcohol is absolutely forbidden until the late age of 21” …

Not “absolutely.” The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 allows alcohol to minors for the following:

An established religious purpose, when accompanied by a parent, spouse or legal guardian age 21 or older

Medical purposes when prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, hospital or medical institution

re SteveF’s comment #152481:

Most unintentionally funny quote in that Times article:

“Canon Jeremy Davies, Precentor of Salisbury cathedral, said: “I don’t see why religious education should be a dumping ground for fantasies.”

Scariest quote in same article:

“Lord Pearson, a Tory peer and supporter of ID, who asked the question that prompted Adonis’s statement, said: “Advances in DNA science show that the DNA molecule is so complicated that it could not have happened by accident. It shows there is a design behind it.”

It’s 31 December. Shouldn’t you rather be deciding on the silliest words or deeds by an ID supporter over the last year?

“Alcohol: In the U.S., alcohol is absolutely forbidden until the late age of 21” …

Not “absolutely.” The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 allows alcohol to minors for the following:

OK, OK, not that I don’t appreciate pedantry, but I think everyone knew what I meant…

How much more evidence do you need to see that these kinds of antics are dividing the pro-science side and uniting and motivating the creationists? To my mind, Kenneth Miller–who is a devout Catholic–has done more to stop ID from insinuating itself into the public schools than Dawkins will ever do. His testimony was pivotal during Kitzmiller, and the results speak for themselves. I’m an atheist, but personally I admire Christians who can think their way past Biblical literalism and can accomodate their faith with the modern world. Dawkins, on the other hand, is becoming a liability to the movement by making it appear as if the rest of us have an anti-religious axe to grind. These kinds of games are starting to wear a little thin. The struggle isn’t against mainstream Christians. It’s against the fundies who want to sneak their religious beliefs into the public schools.

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I have junked a comment both because it was a bizarre detour (something about the n-word) and it was plagiarized from here.

Well, that should give us a respite of at least a week until someone else decides to prove their ‘moderation’ by going after the best contemporary expositor of evolutionary biology because he happens (horrors) also be an atheist who has the effrontery to articulate his world-view.

It is quite clear that the British position is more rational and civilized, but for whatever reason Americans prefer to guard their private land with shotguns as if their lives depended on keeping everyone else off.

Why is it “quite clear” that the British position is more “rational and civilized”?

Go to New Zealand, see how much of the countryside – sheep farms and the like – is open to treking and hiking etc. – and you will see what I mean.

but for whatever reason Americans prefer to guard their private land with shotguns as if their lives depended on keeping everyone else off.

Given the litigious nature of American society, and the screwed up fact that trespassers can successfully sue landowners for injuries suffered on private property, perhaps their lives do depend on it in a sense.

I’ve spent large amounts of time in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. The biggest thing that you said in your final comment that I actually agreed with is that Americans are unfortunately litigious. That’s an embarrassment and a terrible fact of life here.

But I mostly disagree with your opinions on a lot of the rest of it. In the end, that’s not really the point of your post or this space, so I guess I won’t bother writing a long comment about it. But I do hope you’re aware that there are people who HAVE spent significant amounts of time overseas, but still think you’ve got a lot of it wrong.

Meanwhile, the site is great, and your post here is helpful.

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A Courtier Wrote:

If that is all Richard Dawkins did I would not have a problem with him. It is his ignorant forays into philosophical theism and Christianity I object to.

A Shepherd Wrote:

Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

I am glad that this is settled. I really enjoy reading Dawkins’ popularizing of science, but would have eliminated him from my reading altogether over this. I find myself mostly agreeing with him, on his clarification of his views.

I am also horrified to learn what I have about the British school system/s?, as a result of this. Being the ignorant American (though I read a lot of British lit), I assumed that their public schools were much like those here. While the U.S. has it’s quirks and negatives, I am damn glad to have recieved the education I did.

Katarina: thanks for the Paulina example. This example shows, at least, that one’s choice of words, and choice of venue for propagating those words, is, in its consequences, just about as important as the actual content of the message itself. You can’t have it both ways: if you want people to listen to what you say, then they will listen to what you say, and how you say it, not what you “really meant;” Blaming others after the fact for not understanding you the “right” way, is no substitute for getting your message right before the fact.

Bee, let’s not go down this road again. Dawkins doesn’t regret his words (do you know what they are?), only a document he signed. Are his subsequent statements not enough for ya? He’s only human.

The Peril of Paulina was meant to illustrate how people mis-use, mis-represent, and mis-understand the words of those who make careful statements about their views.

To quote Dennett again from his book,

The Peril of Paulina that we naturalists face is that whenever we put forward circumspect, precise versions of our positions, some of these guardians of the public good turn their cleverness to tranforming our careful claims into sound bites that are indeed foolish and irresponsible. I have found hat the more care I devote to making my message clear and compelling, for instance, the more suspicious these guardians become. What they say, in paraphrase, is this: “Don’t pay attention to all the caveats and complications masked by slick rhetoric! All he’s really saying is that you don’t have consciousness, you don’t have a mind, you don’t have free will! We’re all just zombies and nothing matters–that’s what he’s really saying!” How can I dael with this? (For the record, that’s not what I’m really saying.)

Since you don’t even have a clue what Dawkins is actually saying, how can you even begin to paraphrase what he is really saying?

So, is that intermediate output from somebody’s Weasel program?

Henry

I mean, who will pay for the building, the staff, etc?

you didn’t go quite far enough considering what I was asking, so I’ll pose the obvious extension:

what exactly, do you need a building, staff, etc. for?

just to be blatantly obvious, have you considered the problem might really arise from the “organized” part of organized religion?

do you need a building and a staff to have faith?

hmm.

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I don’t know, STJ. Organized can be good, if people have a worthwhile objective. Such as debunking creationism. Or charity. I don’t object to the organized part so much as I object to the objective of spreading the Word.

RB Wrote:

the wrong way (by signing a poorly-worded petition, and making over-generalized statements that divert attention away from specific abuses and raise legitimate questions about his real intentions).

The first part was put to rest earlier.

The second part may be true, but that wasn’t what you said. What I objected to was when you said”Whenever they equate “religious indoctrination” with “child abuse” (or, worse yet, with the sexual abuse of children by priests), they are laying the groundwork to justify such laws.” Dawkins should be free to make his case without being made responsible for others actions, as you should be free to state such points as the second part above. Especially when he argues against those very actions.

But I find I’m repeating myself, exactly as you are.

hello having read these posts as a whole ,having bumped upon this page googling “war on science”, i’m happy to see that there are still on this planet free thinking people

some comments on comments (I spent all night writing,I’m on the other hemisphere):

153016,153377,153379,153061,153217,153114,153465,153488153846 and … Anton Mates,Torbjorn,Carol Clouser

anton and torbjorn (although i agree with you in principle opposing carol)some remarks: determinsm is one thing causality is another. Quantum Mechanics is a non deterministic theory,NOT non causal.Very important distinction. (i can’t recall of a non causal physical theory,at least not at some level of persumed reality…) ie causality according to present theories maybe breaks down inside black holes…that’s partly why we don’t think that we have the right theories…) Everything in QM happens for a reason(instabillity of nuclei and so on),the non deterministicity is happening randomly with respect to time. Why is it like that happening we don’t know… Causality is not exactly derived from physical laws .they’re correlated or perhaps equivalent but perhaps in a far abstract way.in fact one may define science as the ultimate search of and for causility but of the very (if existing)measurable objective kind. ie initial values problems of differential equations require -physics-mathematics,mathematics require rational thinking aka causality(unfortunatelly selfreference but still…) . Your whole discussion is in,on,at,by the front or boundaries of science but both sides treat frontline theories of theoretical physics as solid ground(ie parallel cosmoi(universe = singular) )

Carol as many others have explained the problem in your arguments is that you alternate between acceptance of scientific principles and non acceptance at will and at the same time you regard yourself as rational.To a scientifically thinking person science=rationality.… Explaining that the non material god exists and created the world in a way that we cannot understand ,leaving no proof and we cannot understand it because he intentionally created it thus, is an explanation of faith and not logic (classic false proof via self reference. Long Live Russel!).if you cannot tell the difference your apparent high and broad education was acquired i think in vain. ie 1 if so why not assume that there are two(or three and so on) non corporeal non rational binded first causes and not name the former god and the latter hmmmm satan???? and lets say that the omnipotence property of these beings is shared 40 (former) to 60 (latter)… 2 i’m surprised and amazed.how can an obviously educated person in both modern (pseudo-) philosophy and science cannot cope with principles as occam’s razor and so on? 3 jewish theology.the peaceful and philathropous judeo-cristian-muslim world-belief is based on the torah aka old testament. any (non believer) reader of it can see that it’s a quite interesting book.in fact in this lovelly holly book the chosen highly sophisticated nomad people of god slains or calls the fair god to slay the following minor civilisations of antiquity :Babylonians-Aegyptians-Phoenicians-Cretans-Greeks. :) (no antisemism meant here but … scripta manent) and you talk about god.For the love of god!!!!!

Anton on the causality-first cause(aristotle’s “proton kinoun” meaning first thing moving other things)-fundamental element ad infinitum upon f. element theories of everything we come to the classical endless loop or chain.things may be so.maybe there isn’t out there in the platonic or the material world the Divine M theory,the explanation of the rock,sex,dvd player,milky way,banana,…,everything.maybe we ‘ll always have to search to find the more basic more fundamental theory upon theory ad infinitum.there is no scientific proof of the opposite.But i think that (at least conventional) science aesthetics cannot deal very pleasantly or easely with this view as a true explanation. and Although infinity (small or big) is commonly used in science have in mind that although as far as now we can’t do without it it maybe the source of all of our problems, being equivalent or the creator of self reference problems that are still everywhere in science.v=dx/dt what really means-is dx or dt(continuum problem)? and if spacetime is discrete what is to move? and if mass equals energy then mass creates field that is energy that is mass that creates field … and if the forces between particles came to being via virtual particles then the virtual one create real-virtual ones that create virtual that create real … and if to define the field of mass you need a mass without field … Zeno,Zeno where are you? (also remember one of the schools of modern mathematics rejects every notion of infinity)

153494 Glen Davidson quite right as a strategy but not very appauling to scientists

153408,153678,153799,153846,153799 Anton MAtes and Katarina

what’s UM,UW church? meaning what um,uw stands for? cristianity and-or religion isn’t viewed outside US as you do in fact there are not 2,3,4,5 but maaany views.ie The main divisions of cristianity isn’t according to other cristian dogmata catholic,protestants and …others.You think in such terms because of the dominence there of these dogmata. ie all of the (almost homogeneously) orthodox eastern europe barelly thinks protestants as cristians (on the borderline)and evangelists,jehova’s witnesses,… as not at all

the following isn’t exactly :) the nicene creed as you wrote…

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

This text has the so called filioque (latin for “and from the son”) roman catholic addition to it. (language of prototype -and of the last parts of the old testament and all of the whole of the new testament-was greek as greek was the lingua franca of the the roman empire and of the age.something that mel gibson seems to have -intentionally????- got totally wrong in his Truely(here,now we laugh) represented passions of the christ. america,america…) The nicene creed is as the above without the filioque part (…who proceedeth from the Father,who with the Father…) (orthodox cristians keep onto the original mix :) ) The catholic wasn’t the main nor the only cristian dogma before luther.catholics came to life at 1056 (changing formally to the above version of the creed) when the great schism took place between the western (latin dominated) and eastern (greek dominated) roman empire dividing the church into catholic(means “of the whole” in greek) and orthodox(means “of the right faith-dogma” in greek) something (among infinite others) that dan brown also got wrong in davinci code (heretic from hereticus or haereticus as dan says isn’t a latin word but the latin form of the greek word haeretikos meaning he who chooses. many heresies had gone against the main or conventional or formal body of the church till the nicene creed and after it) have you americans(besides katarina) ever heard something of the above????)

in general Katarina i agree with you,in fact your posts show a quite fascinating cpmbination of knowledge and anticonformal boldness for an american (sorry guys but.…)are you really one???

153105,153389,153452,153491,… Raging Bee and others As a general friendly comment.And to all of you out there proud citizens of the United Stated of America.THERE IS A PLANET OUTSIDE THE USA.The World Series cannot really be world series because it’s only in the U.S. .In fact most of humanity doesn’t play baseball.The most popular sport on the planet is football meaning soccer…Your world champion of boxing is not the world champion of boxing but of the USA.Homo sapiens sapiens doesn’t in his vast majority speak english(take all my spelling,grammatical or syntactical mistakes in this text as clues(go non anglophones go!),this is obviously meant for the brits also).The American Dream is the dream of the americans.WE the 5.5+ billion REMAINING HUMANS have MORE interesting things to dream about. It’s maybe hard for you to grasp but the planet isn’t the USA. states,laws,religions,customs,languages,ethics,… differ from yours.People don’t think like you,don’t live like you,and don’t want to. Try to think in context of that…

sorrygreat schism took place in 1054ad not 1056ad and i would like to point out that the complete history behind those events is quite more complex (as always),here simplified…and by the way good morning :) to all of you out there here is 4:53am

sorry great schism took place in 1054ad not 1056ad and i would like to point out that the complete history behind those events is quite more complex (as always),here simplified…and by the way good morning :) to all of you out there here is 4:53am

Thanatos, welcome to PT.

By UM I meant United Methodist, and I am not sure what the other one is. You are right, I forgot to include Orthodox views. Shame on me for forgetting my “roots” (blame it on my commie daddy). But you are wrong, the posters here are very knowledgable and culturally aware, and they support the theory of evolution in spite of the popular tendency (in America, but now increasingly abroad) to dismiss it as “just a theory, not a fact,” which is a testament to their independence of thought.

Thanks for your contribution to the discussion, late as it is, and I hope you stick around, this is a great blog with great people, most of whom are much more educated and knowledgable than myself.

Just a note, a constructive criticism, it was rather difficult to read your comment since you don’t seem to care for, although you seem to be familiar with, the proper use of punctuation and capitalization. May I suggest that you make better use of these tools so as to make it easier for us to understand you without straining?

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Katarina (and others) I’m very sorry for my lack of punctuation or capitalization and for the -I’m sure- many other errors.As I mentioned,when I began reading the thread,I found it very interesting, so I started again from the top,writing down some major objections ,thoughts etc.Then having finished reading , I started writing my comment,realising that there were so many and diverse things to write that I had to choose only the most important and only the ones I could express without having to write a book (the major problem was and is that usually when talking to most americans (even educated,are your universities so specialised?don’t you ever talk about (non trivial not on the news)things concerning the world outside US,aren’t you curious at all?) one unfortunatelly discovers that they are so hyper-ultra-selfcentred at everything that one has to reinvent the wheel and rediscover America :-) backing his thesis up),so I stopped caring for punctuation rules etc and focused on expressing myself ,as better and as fast as I could ,in english again after a long long time on non trivial issues.

Commie daddy in america? You must have had a very interesting childhood over there ,trying to persuade your friends that commies don’t eat children. :-)

Representing the other hemisphere good night to you all!

would have to take a chisel to my head

Don’t get our hopes up :)

Commie daddy in america? You must have had a very interesting childhood over there ,trying to persuade your friends that commies don’t eat children. :-)

LOL! I didn’t know communism was a bad thing until I came here, and was very shocked to learn it! In fact the principles formed my ethical foundation for life. We came to America in 1987 when I was 10 years old. I’ve still not decided to apply for citizenship, but someday I probably will, having had children here with my American husband. Our hope is to spend at least part of our lives in Europe, later on.

I don’t mean to pick on your grammer, but it does make it easier to communicate when we all use the same rules, and in addition, it demonstrates respect for the group when we make an effort to make ourselves more easily understood.

No big deal though, BTW, which part of Eastern Europe are you from? I am Serbian.

Thanatos Wrote:

determinsm is one thing causality is another. Quantum Mechanics is a non deterministic theory,NOT non causal.Very important distinction. (i can’t recall of a non causal physical theory,at least not at some level of persumed reality…) ie causality according to present theories maybe breaks down inside black holes…that’s partly why we don’t think that we have the right theories…) Everything in QM happens for a reason(instabillity of nuclei and so on),the non deterministicity is happening randomly with respect to time. Why is it like that happening we don’t know…

You’ll have to give me a definition of causality before I know how to respond. Certainly both necessary and sufficient causes in the usual sense are out the window in QM, as the present (observable) state of a system in general neither implies nor is implied by its past state.

Bell’s Theorem is usually taken to torpedo causality, unless you go with many-worlds. At a minimum, if a formerly entangled particle’s observed state has a cause, that cause is no longer necessarily in its past.

3 jewish theology.the peaceful and philathropous judeo-cristian-muslim world-belief is based on the torah aka old testament. any (non believer) reader of it can see that it’s a quite interesting book.in fact in this lovelly holly book the chosen highly sophisticated nomad people of god slains or calls the fair god to slay the following minor civilisations of antiquity :Babylonians-Aegyptians-Phoenicians-Cretans-Greeks. :)

You probably don’t know this, but it’s rather a waste of time to discuss the Torah with Carol. If you search back through the PT archives, you’ll find that she’s the editor and publicist for Judah Landa’s book on how the Torah, when translated “literally,” is completely consistent with modern science. You’ll also find out that her definition of “literally” is rather a, er, nonliteral one.

cristianity and-or religion isn’t viewed outside US as you do in fact there are not 2,3,4,5 but maaany views.ie The main divisions of cristianity isn’t according to other cristian dogmata catholic,protestants and …others.You think in such terms because of the dominence there of these dogmata. ie all of the (almost homogeneously) orthodox eastern europe barelly thinks protestants as cristians (on the borderline)and evangelists,jehova’s witnesses,… as not at all

I’m not sure what you’re saying there…the last bit seems to imply that eastern Europeans recognize fewer views as “properly Christian” than do Americans. We’ve got Mormons, Moonies and Pentecostals, after all.

many heresies had gone against the main or conventional or formal body of the church till the nicene creed and after it) have you americans(besides katarina) ever heard something of the above????)

From what I recall from my Magic, Religion & Law class, there was no “main body” of the church until well after the Council of Nicea; or rather, that “main body” got redefined with each new emperor’s religious preference. Christians were calling each other heretics for centuries prior, but no one sect had the power to define orthodoxy until the Imperial government was behind them.

It’s maybe hard for you to grasp but the planet isn’t the USA. states,laws,religions,customs,languages,ethics,… differ from yours.People don’t think like you,don’t live like you,and don’t want to. Try to think in context of that…

Laws, religions, customs, languages and ethics also differ within the USA. It’s probably wise to find out how any one American thinks before deciding how

It’s probably wise to find out how any one American thinks before deciding how

…ignorant they are of global cultural diversity, I meant to finish by saying.

Panda seemed to have crashed-gone to sleep for some hours.Or is it just me? prothysterally (oh my god I’ve written two pages) Anyway

To Anton Mates

Regarding causality and physics. Causality (aka aetioty :the property of having a cause) is usually defined as “An effect has A cause” ,cause preceding effect and determinism (aka aetiocracy:the rule of causes) as “The (same) effect has The (same) cause” (roughly speaking something like 1-1 function or not).Causality is much more fundamental than determinism.Determinism can’t exist without causality ,causality can exist without determinism.Perhaps in future superhypersuper theories (I mean theories fully explaining and fully predecting not just the sperms (of them?) now existing) everything will be otherwise understood.But till then ,everything after the bigbang(leaving at this point the “before”-how else to put it? and the “event” itself- STILL to scientific research (and not god of course)) is being understood in its totality in tempore or cum tempore but not sine tempore. (parallel cosmoi,multiverses,copenhagen and so on are semi-scientifical,semi-philosophical interpretations of QM ,not QM itself.The measurement paradox at least from what I have heard STILL stands.…)

Regarding eastern christianity. Eastern christianity has not “mixed” or “lived” together with prostestants(and offsprings) at all.It’s what Katarina mentioned about the nicene creed and how (formal) christianity is defined around it.Since the eastern christian world (orthodoxy,monophysitism,koptism etc) never went through the lutheran ,calvinian,protestant ,in general, reform (and of course the relevant wars) ,

- and as it didn’t also went through renaissenance end enlightment (mainly due to the turks) but bumped onto modernity in a very violent way -

the nicene creed and the “holy” tradition (mysteries,saints,seremonies,monastecism,language in use,non polyphonic byzantine music (not totally valid for rusia and some others) etc) in the east are strictly kept.

-Over here in a statistical weight manner of speaking a. non orthodox-catholic-jew-muslims are simply non corporeal :-) and b. the corporeals are in a random combination constantly at war with one another :-)

-Even if you are a non believer or an opposer of the religion and although the power of the church isn’t now like in older times, religion,nationality,culture etc are so (homogenoously) closely intermixed-interweaven that there is no escape. Ie for orthodoxs(!?! -es!?!) like catholics on each day in the calendar there is the in memoriam celebration of a saint-martyr-hosius (or of two or more). So even if you do hate christ and his teachings ,even if you indeed are a devoted atheist , you expect that your friends,relatives,… call you and wish you many years on your name’s celebration (the celebration of the homonym saint mentioned above) and hold a grudge and feel very lonely if they don’t.… :-)

The deniers ( aka you :-) ) of the above are simply either not considered because there are simply not around :) or considered not as simply heretics -like ie the catholics due mainly to the “filioque” - but as heretics to the point of another not dogma-doctrine but religion. So yes much fewer as properly christian are recognised. Damn you Heretics!!! :-)))))

Regarding faith and the creed Yes in general you are right about the main body of the church and Synode of Nicaea(the complexity of the history of synodes,faith,people,doctrine,empire) but that’s in general what I also meant(formality, historically, in christianity after all is defined by constantine’s the great action of inagaurating christianity as the official religion of the imperium) The problem is obviously inherent ->>> “Should I mention this ,is this meant,should I mention that,does he-she knows what-where-when-why is that?” Repeating myself again and again the problem is how to communicate with people that although are multicultural,multiethnical… ,they unfortunately STATISTICALLY also are ignorant of all the others and of their affairs in general. Politics,dreams,regimes,races,history,culture,religion,language(not just english and spanish for an increasing minority or some words-expressions of languages to be forgotten in two-three generations),economy,technology(do they use missiles or poison-darts? :-) ) ,geopolitics,geography , geography-location not in gps accuracy, simply on which continent on the globe :-) accuracy ,,,,,, .….….….… How many americans do you believe(and you live over there —at least I suppose you do-so you are infinitely more trustworthy than me ) STATISTICALLY ie have ever heard of the nicene creed(not to forget some text driven to life by some event long long time ago somewhere far far away!!!!) ?????? In my country most would be lying if they said that they remembered what the Oecumenical Synodus of Nicaea was or was about, but everyone,I mean 99% everyone knows or knows about the nicene creed here being called the “Pisteuo”= “I believe” or “Symbolon tes Pisteos”= “Symbol of Faith”.In my country chances are that one may point on the map to most major countries.I don’t believe that most americans can point to my country or many foreign countries. I understand that you mean that you are not all the same.OF COURSE. I don’t wish to offend you as in fact and indeed I’m very merry-happy :) communicating with penseurs like you. I just want to point out to some people that Earth isn’t “ US Americans and others…”,that infact Earth in most places isn’t called Earth.

About Carol. No I didn’t know(or anyway happened to notice) about hers literallity of interpretation. I can’t really understand the manichaism-binarity of such combined rational-non rational thought. eeeennnn- does not compute - does not compute-divide by zero error at #0234A5432 Long live the kingdom of superfuzzy logic!

to Katarina I’m from Greece.Greetings!

Dear Carol please, please forgive me! I have indeed errored! I’m wrong ,wrong,I’m totally wrong, you obviously aren’t well educated,not educated at all.

Although I must admit that due to my erroneous disregard of formality,due to the lack of practicing serious writing in english for a long time(some years I might say) and due to the other problems already mentioned elsewhere ,my writings were not so easy to comprehend, it’s a plain fact to me now that my BABBLE of self-reference Russell paradox,Zeno of Elea infinity paradoxes,continuum problem,definition of a field,points and facts on the very history of christianity and so on, couldn’t even in a thousand years be understood by you.

Bises :)

PS: By the way, it’s Thanatos

Good night to you all!

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on December 31, 2006 4:54 AM.

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