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Intellect Worship vs. Intellect Use

is under discussion over at the Register too.  When people talk about the Church’s Centuries-Old War On Science and point to Galileo, ask “And who else?”  Always fun to watch the mouth open and close with no words coming out.

  • The True Will

    My favorite is to ask what prominent religious figure had his life threatened for promoting smallpox innoculation. But I guess since he was Protestant, he doesn’t coun.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_Mather#Smallpox_inoculation_controversy

  • Benjamin

    It is less about specific incidents and more about how Catholic societies excessively defer to tradition which makes scientific progress more difficult. Why else do you think most of the scientific powerhouses of the last 500 years are almost all Protestant or Post-Protestant?

    • Benjamin

      This isn’t a uniquely Catholic issue though. Orthodox Christianity and Islam have the same overly excessive deference to tradition, even more so.

      • dude

        You’re so right, Benjamin, because so many Protestant religions have had & have brilliant Jesuit priest scientists, Pontifical Institutes of SCIENCE, Vatican Astronomy Observatories, & the FIRST (in at least Western civilization) universities, hospital & research facilities. Stupid scientifically ignorant Catholics! (Sarcasm off.) Mark Shea, always enjoy your writings. No nonsense or beating bushes. Just an ounce of humor & a pound of genius & common sense. Seriously, secularists/atheists (& apparently Protestants too) need to get off the high horses & spend more time reading history (& not believing everything Internet/TV/radio says).

        • Psy

          ” Seriously, secularists/atheists (& apparently Protestants too) need to get off the high horses & spend more time reading history (& not believing everything Internet/TV/radio says).”

          I defiantly have to agree the internet is limited on information, unfortunately my son lost his book collection in a house fire. His interest was tracing our family name which has remained the same since the 1100s and the family history before that to the 3rd century. Supposedly our family wrote some of the history for and against the Church, many were members of the church and at least one Bishop. Many were of my ancestors were executed in various fashions and on both sides of the crusades. Personalty I’ve only read part of Michaud’s History of the Crusades.
          Can anyone tell what the “Biographic Michaud” is an where I can find more information on it? I see it referenced in the Catholic Encyclopedia every so often when I do research.

          • Psy

            Never-mind, I found it, just not in English. “Biographie universelle”

    • dude

      Benjamin, you are very ignorant. Did you know that scientists also have traditions? (Gasp! the horror) Sunday (& Saturday, weekend rest) is an originally Catholic/Orthodox tradition (based on Sabbath, rest) & “post-Protestant” Anti-Catholic people, like Napoleon, have attempted to destroy such tradition. Since you’re so anti-Tradition, can you ask your boss to work on weekends too? Didn’t think so. As hard as it is for you to believe, Catholics & Orthodox were doing very well before Protestants came along to protest.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      It is less about specific incidents and more about how Catholic societies excessively defer to tradition which makes scientific progress more difficult.

      A completely nebulous and unprovable claim.

      Why else do you think most of the scientific powerhouses of the last 500 years are almost all Protestant or Post-Protestant?

      How is this different from a “God of the gaps” argument? There are many, many reasons why this could be true (if it is), which don’t have to rely on a Christian/Catholic/Protestant contrast. If I had to take one stab at it, I’d say it was because of money. The Church is less interested in spending her money toward scientific advancement (since, you know, it isn’t really her job) than other groups are.

      • Richard Bell

        Actually, it is only recently, historically speaking, that the Catholic Church has been a minor spender in pure research. Mendel did not explore genetics as a hobby, it was his assigned duty as a monk. If it were not for the light pollution from nearby cities, Castel Gandolfo would still be a working astronomical observatory. Before the night sky got too bright, the Vatican Observatory was a big part of an effort to create a complete star map. LeMaitre was not only the father of the Big Bang Theory, he was an ordained priest.

        The big thing about Galileo is that he was not only brilliant, he was a world class jerk. He not only wanted to prove the heliocentricity of the solar system, he wanted the credit, so he did not use any proof that he did not discover, so he did not use the phases of Venus, which pretty much require Venus to be passing behind and in front of the Sun (this is not a sufficient proof, but it does put the boot to celestial spheres). All Galileo was left with was how the tides, one high and one low, always occurred at noon and midnight. Basically, while we can see that he had the right idea, Galileo’s proof was completely bogus to anyone who had watched the sea and noticed that the Moon had a lot to do with the two high tides and two low tides that happened every day.

        It is worth repeating, to anyone with half a brain, Galileo was flat out wrong, as plain as the nose on your face. We moderns tend to ignore that, so we can get to the serious business of painting the Church as anti-science.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Quod gratis asseritur gratis negatur; but even granting your gratuitous claim, it’s still massively subject to cum & post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    • Jon W

      Yeah, and which societies suffered the worst results of the Industrial Revolution? Those same Protestant countries. There’s a reason why we go to Protestant countries to get our stuff manufactured, and we go to the Catholic countries to learn how to live.

    • Dale Price

      That’s how you can tell America is Britain’s child, if overly-muscled and wayward:

      The Black Legend is alive and well on our shores.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Without the tradition of the scientific method, how can you have scientific progress at all?

  • Ashley

    Giordano Bruno? An early promoter of not just Copernicanism, but of the idea of multiple inhabited worlds and a universe with no center. He was imprisoned for nearly a decade before being burned alive for heresy. He apparently would not be murdered quietly, as spikes were driven through his cheeks, tongue, and lips to silence him before he was set on fire.

    We could go all the way back to Hypatia, I suppose, though she was apparently butchered not for her philosophy but for her associations with various faction leaders in the murderous feuds between the Christians and Jews of Alexandria. Still, a mob of Christians kidnapped her, tore the flesh off her body, then mutilated and burned her corpse. Not specifically anti-science, but it was the beginning of the decline of the world’s greatest center of learning at the time.

    We could go on and on. Posters at the Register might be ignorant of history, but that’s understandable. The Christian church has been the most powerful religion on the planet for millenia, and it had and still has a powerful influence on what history gets told. Students today learn about the Black Plague, for instance, but nothing about the tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews that were blamed for the disease and slaughtered by hysterical Christians during outbreaks.

    Your Church is a human organization, like any other, and has created beauty, given hope and committed atrocities in equal measure with many other typical human organizations. It’s not special or powerful or transcendent. It’s a collection of people with lusts and jealousies and compassion and self-sacrifice and self-absorption, like any other.

    • Jon W

      You’re tilting at a windmill, Ashely, since the church has never claimed to not be “a collection of people with lusts and jealousies and compassion and self-sacrifice and self-absorption, like any other.”

    • Brian

      “We could go on and on. ”
      Please do. We’ll wait.

    • Dean

      On Hypatia
      http://m-francis.livejournal.com/159500.html

      From Wikipedia
      “According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology.”[39]”

      “He apparently would not be murdered quietly, as spikes were driven through his cheeks, tongue, and lips to silence him before he was set on fire.” Having never seen this before, source please?

    • Mark Shea

      You really should read the article I linked. You are engaging in intellect worship. Bruno and Hypatia will get you nowhere. And I’d love to hear the “on and on” you hand-wave about.

    • Jamie R

      Hypatia has nothing to do with science. Neo-Platonism isn’t scientific.

    • Jared

      “The Church covers up this history that I still know!”

      uh……huh.

      • Cinlef

        This. Every discussion/history course/book on the Black Death I’ve ever read/attended mentioned the massacring of Jews (well except Eifelheim strictly speaking but that was a novel where the action is confined to a small village that didn’t have any Jews so it probably doesn’t count)

        • Jared

          We live in an interesting age, when historical conspiracies revolve around actual history that was not covered up.

        • Adam

          Eifelheim does mention the massacre of Jews; more, specifically, it mentions how the Pope protected the Jews in Avignon.

          • Mark Shea

            Why should it? The novel is set in 1347. The massacre of the Rhenish Jews was centuries before.

            • Newp Ort

              Yeah, and everybody knows that book was written by an ignorant hack who wouldn’t know history of the church if it hit him over the head with a thurible.

              :) LOL jk !!

              I loved Eifelheim, and I love to read the TOF spot, even if it does melt my highlee edubacated nooodle with it’s incredibly inwsightful, exhaustive and knowledgeable treatment of subjects I thought I knew something about.

            • Ye Olde Statistician

              There were massacres in the Upper Rhineland and elsewhere in the wavefront of the plague. No one in that era had any experience or knowledge of pestilences that seems to travel so fast as to be everywhere. They looked for a cause that was everywhere and came up with Jews poisoning the wells. Think of them as the international bankers or 1% of the era.
              + + +
              There were also Rhenish massacres carried out by Count Emicho of Leiningen, who declared himself a crusader but never got near the Holy Land and was finally crushed in battle by the King of Hungary.
              http://books.google.com/books?id=fKYxKsgVpmMC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=emicho+of+leiningen&source=bl&ots=1dK4uj2Pkr&sig=owVMpUFRffS41gvpdZl1d3sRVxs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ntt2Ub_oEeeM0QGEloHwDQ&ved=0CEoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=emicho&f=false

              • Mark Shea

                Okay. I was thinking of the slaughters accompanying the Crusades.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      When a pantheist copernican is burned by the secular authorities after the Church finds him guilty of heresy it seems reasonable to assume that it is the pantheism and the denial of Christ that is the Church’s problem, not the astronomy unless you have a specific bit of evidence to the contrary.

      Hypatia’s case seems tragic but similarly not science based. As I understand the tale, it was her influence with Orestes and her supposed hardening of his heart against reconciliation with Bishop Cyril that caused the mob to form that ultimately killed her. Crazy stuff and very much not in the spirit of Christ but not persecution on scientific grounds.

      Are the rest of your claims as empty as these?

    • merkn

      You are aware that Copernicus was a catholic monk, buried honorably in a Catholic church?

    • http://www.usmc.mil S. Murphy

      SSSh! THEY’ll *hear* you. [/sarcasm]

      ———————————————————-
      IIRC, Crassus could’ve taught the merchant of Venice a thing or two about usury.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Giordano Bruno? An early promoter of not just Copernicanism, but of the idea of multiple inhabited worlds and a universe with no center.

      Giodano Bruno had no knowledge of astronomy, as evident in his “Ash Wednesday Supper,” where he mocked Copernicus as cowardly. He was a hermetic mystic, not a scientist, and thought the sun should be in the center because fire was nobler than earth. Multiple inhaboted worlds remains a fantasy to this day, but we should note that the Bishop of Paris denounced the Aristotelian belief that there could not possibly be multiple worlds back in the 13th century, so surely that could not have been an issue. There were eight counts in the indictment against Bruno and none of them had anything to do with astronomical mathematics.

      a mob of Christians kidnapped [Hypatia], tore the flesh off her body, then mutilated and burned her corpse. Not specifically anti-science, but it was the beginning of the decline of the world’s greatest center of learning at the time.

      Hypatia was a Neoplatonist mystic. (Remember, astronomy was not what we call astronomy, but simply the mathematical calculations required for calendar-making and casting horoscopes. To do that, Euclidean geometry was needed; but the main purpose of mathematics she taught was to approach the beauties of the mind of God. Further, as the pagan Romans attested, Alexandria was peculiarly disposed to mob violence. What happened to Hypatia was pretty much what happened to St. Mark (pagan mob), to Arian bishop George (pagan mob), to the Chrisitians of St. Alexander’s (Jewish mob), to Orthodox bishop Proterius (monophysite mob), and to the prefect Callistus (mob of unknown provenance). The corpses were burned to prevent remains from being used as relicts over which to erect a church, but likely also because you didn’t want to hang onto dead bodies in Egyptian climate.
      It did not mark the decline of Hellenistic learning in Egypt. Aedesia, a Neoplatonist woman philosopher held forth in the generation after, instructing Ammonius, who then instructed Damiscius, Simplicius, and John Philoponus. These were a few among many. (Note that Philoponus was a Christian while Damascius and Simplicius were pagans; just as most of Hypatia’s known students were Christian.) Alexandrian learning came to an end in the wake of the muslim conquest when, after the brutal suppression of the revolt, the Arabs built Cairo deliberately to supplant Alexandria.

      Students today learn about the Black Plague, for instance, but nothing about the tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews that were blamed for the disease and slaughtered by hysterical Christians

      Despite the efforts of the Pope [who issued two Bulls denouncing the violence and opened the palace at Avignon as a refuge for Jews] or of the Catholic princes like Alfonso of Aragon, Joanna of Naples, Albrecht of Austria, Casimir of Poland, all of whom offered sanctuary. Or the guild militia of Regensburg who formed up and stood guard over the Jewish Quarter of the city. It’s always hard to deal with the 99% when they take the bit in their teeth and it doesn’t much matter what if any religion they profess. Consider Peter Swaben and the town council of Strassburg who resisted the anti-Jewish cries of the townfolk only to be overthrown by People Power.

      History is always complex and local and does not react well to the imposition of a monist Theory.

      • The True Will

        And King Valdemar of Denmark, who proclaimed that the accusation was nonsense… for one thing, there were no Jews in Denmark.

    • Mr. X

      I don’t know enough to comment about Bruno or fourteenth-century pogroms, but given the various errors in what you said about Hypatia, I’m inclined to dismiss your opinions on these other subjects as well.

      “We could go all the way back to Hypatia, I suppose, though she was apparently butchered not for her philosophy but for her associations with various faction leaders in the murderous feuds between the Christians and Jews of Alexandria.”

      Hypatia’s death had nothing to do with Christian-Jewish struggles, and everything to do with the political conflict between the (Christian) Bishop of Alexandria and the (Christian) Prefect of the City.

      “Still, a mob of Christians kidnapped her, tore the flesh off her body, then mutilated and burned her corpse.”

      That “tore the flesh off her body” stuff is a myth going back to Gibbon’s mistranslation. The ancient sources say that they killed Hypatia with “ostraka”, which could mean either shellfish or roof-tiles. Gibbon for some reason interpreted this as “they scraped her flesh off with oyster shells”, when a more natural reading would be “they got tiles from the roofs of the nearby houses and pelted her to death with them”. Not a pleasant way to be killed by any means, but not nearly as lurid and gruesome as what you’re suggesting.

      Also, “Hypatia was killed by a mob of Christians” is technically correct but nevertheless misleading, as their Christianity was incidental to their murdering her. You might as well say “Both World Wars were started by men with moustaches”, it’d be about as relevant.

      “Not specifically anti-science, but it was the beginning of the decline of the world’s greatest center of learning at the time.”

      First of all, the decline of Alexandria didn’t actually start then, as another poster pointed out to you.

      Secondly, we know nothing about Hypatia’s teachings except that she was a Neoplatonist and that she was widely regarded as being very intelligent (including by Christian writers, BTW). We don’t know what her religious beliefs were (since many Christians as well as many pagans were Neoplatonists), and we certainly don’t know that she was into anything approaching scientific experiment.

  • Mike Petrik

    Ashley,
    Bruno’s treatment, while problematic, cannot be explained as simply as you suggest. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908), “Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc.” Similarly, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy asserts that “in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology.” Indeed, many scholars have expressed discomfort with the Bruno episode being viewed as an example of the the Church’s putative war on science. And the same is certainly true of Galileo. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0005.html

  • Joseph

    Apparently Ashley thinks that reading and regurgitating Christopher Hitchens and Co. = well read and knowledgeable. Good for her.

    • Dale Price

      Except that’s she’s nowhere near as nasty as they are. That’s a point in her favor, even if her facts are off.

  • Ed the Roman

    Nothing significant from Catholics since the reformation? Brother Mendel and Father LeMaitre will be very disappointed.

    • Jared

      Shhhh….they don’t like it when you suggest genetics and the big bang come from Catholic scientists.

      • Richard Bell

        What is funny is how hard the atheists fought against the Big Bang theory. The sticking point being that a Steady State Universe has always been and would always be, so it could never have been created. The Big Bang Theory gave the universe a starting point, which begs the question how it came to be.

        To add insult to injury is the Coincidence Scandal– How we seem to exist at a very special time in the history of the universe. Originally, the universe was nothing but photons, plus a rounding error. Next came an era when the universe was nothing but matter (both atomic and Dark) plus rounding errors. the last era will be a universe made up of Dark Energy, plus rounding errors. Right now, we live in the short time when there is still nearly as much matter as Dark Energy. If that was not enough of a coincidence, we live at a time when we can still see the Cosmic Microwave Background (once the space that the glow comes from expands at faster than light speed, it will disappear, forever), so we can both observe how the universe began and figure out how the universe will end. To theists, this coincidence is a no-brainer, to atheist cosmologists, it is a Big Deal.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      René Descartes, Louis Pasteur, Blaise Pascal, André-Marie Ampère, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, Gregor Mendel, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, Pierre de Fermat, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Marin Mersenne, Alessandro Volta, Bernard Bolzano, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Henri Becquerel, Jules Henri Poincaré, Angelo Secchi, Pierre Duhem, Mateo Realdo Colombo, Carl Ferdinand & Gerty Cori, Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis, Gabriele Falloppio, Sr. Mary Celine Fasenmyer, Joseph von Fraunhofer, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, Alessandro Volta, Pierre Gassendi, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac, Riccardo Giacconi, Francesco Maria Grimaldi. John von Neumann was a convert.

  • Michael Matthew

    I don’t care how the great you think your church is and what contributions it has made to the world because everyone knows that the Church is rotten because _________________!!! (Please choose from the following to fill in the blank.)
    1. it’s priests are pedophiles
    2. it discriminates against women and is dominated by grumpy old men.
    3. it is sexually repressive.
    4. the Pope is more concerned about wearing expensive red shoes instead of the poor.
    5. it hoards artwork and sculptures that should be sold to feed the poor.
    6. opposes the advancement of science because we all know about Galileo and all the other scientists such as…………er…………………..ah………………..Oh never mind.

    • Jared

      Don’t forget the crusades!

    • Cinlef

      Also the Inquisition, oh and witch burning…..

    • The True Will

      And the conquest of the New World, which happened ONLY on orders from the Pope. Greed had ntohing to do with it.

    • The True Will

      And it kills millions of unspecified Africans in non-Catholic countries because they follow the “ban on condoms” while they are violating the ‘ban” on adultery and fornication.

  • astorian

    From time to time, you can probably make a few dollars by betting hardcore atheists how Galileo died. They’re often so sure that he was burned at the stake or drawn and quartered that they’ll bet a pile against you if you wager he died of natural causes in his seventies while under loose house arrest.

  • Joseph

    @ Astorian… don’t forget about the “he went blind because the Church stuck hot skewers into his eye sockets” narrative. You can make a pretty packet off that one too. Silly atheists, Trix are for kids.

    • Jared

      ………………………………wut?

  • kenneth

    The Church’s War on Science is running as hot now as it ever was in Galileo’s day. When it comes to homosexuality and transgender issues, the Church simply refuses to even acknowledge the existence of science which inconveniences its assertions about these phenomenon. Essentially all mainstream science relative to homosexuality produced since 1973 just simply never happened, in the Church’s eyes, or is just wrong or a gay conspiracy. They assert that having never actually engaged the science on a scientific basis, never once took the findings head on on science’s own turf.

    It’s been denial, a campaign to de-legitimize science as a discipline, and sometimes attempts to counter the scientific findings with junk science ala NARTH and the Regnerus study. In the area of transgender science, the Church’s record is even more abysmal. There is a huge body of science which shows that biology and gender identity are not cleanly linked in many many people. Doesn’t matter. To the Church, they’re all just dudes in dresses who want to stick their thumb in the eye of social convention and get carte blanch to ogle real ladies in restrooms!

    On these issues, the Church is as anti-intellectual as the Creation Museum. The Church is not anti-intellectual for its own sake, and has indeed produced some good work under its auspices. However, when push comes to shove over a belief they have heavily invested themselves in, the science goes out the window, every time.

    • Jon W

      Your inclusion of transgender issues and homosexuality in hard science is problematic. There is a significant admixture of human culture and free choice in those phenomena that increases the complexity and difficulty of interpretation exponentially. Human sexual behavior is nowhere near as simple as gravity or even quantum mechanics. The church will carefully, slowly, and honestly look at any data that comes along, but stop implying that data comes from pure and unbiased sources. It comes from human beings studying very complex human phenomena.

    • Dale Price

      I have to admit, kenneth’s Catholic-bashing is truly sophisticated. I mean, leaving aside the fact that psychology’s volte-face on homosexuality is itself just two generations old, the social science is newly-minted, and that there is a veritable inquisition deployed against uncongenial findings (e.g., Mark Regnerus)–I grudgingly admire a secular apologetic that offers vague praise for Catholicism while damning it in white-hot terms as indistinguishable from the sixteenth century.

      Jack Chick should take notes: this is how it’s done.

    • sbark

      I’m sorry, but WHAT? The standpoint of the Catholic Church is that engaging in homosexual relations is gravely sinful. Has science developed some way of measuring what is and isn’t sinful that the Church is failing to consider? How could a stance that engaging in particular actions is sinful possibly be anti-science?

      • kenneth

        I’m not talking about the theological and philosophical arguements put forth by the Church. Science has nothing to say about those. The problem is that the hierarchy, and moreso their partisan lay defenders, continue to make or insinuate claims about homosexuality which are couched in scientific terms, without doing real science or engaging the debate with the standards of evidence used by science.

        • sbark

          Can you give some examples of these claims made by the hierarchy of the Church?

          In terms of individuals you describe as “lay defenders,” it’s pretty clear that they do not speak on behalf of the Catholic Church. What they say may or may not match Catholic teaching. You can find lay individuals who claim to be Catholic who put forth just about any position you want to name, whether that supports church teaching, contradicts church teaching, or is unrelated to church teaching. Labeling that as a “war on science” by the Church is nonsense.

        • Theodore Seeber

          Of course, that fits the pro-homosexuality movement, who continue to make or insinuate claims about homosexuality which are couched in scientific terms, without doing real science or engaging the debate with the standards of evidence used by science.

          I’ve yet to see a study on homosexuality even reach statistical significance. Pretty hard to do when the percentage of homosexuals in a population (2-3%) is less than the margin of error (4-6%).

    • Theodore Seeber

      Could that possibly be because 99% of the mainstream science on homosexuality was bought and paid for by homosexual activists and is thus biased?

      • Kenneth

        Really? The NIH, NSF, HHS, CDC, the federal granting agencies that dispense many tens of billions of dollars each year PLUS the entire academic and medical and psychological professional infrastructure is all bought and paid for by “homosexual activists”

        According to you, there aren’t even enough homosexuals running around the planet to do any valid science on them whatsoever, but the tiny sliver of that tiny demographic, the “activists” have enough juice to keep an airtight lid on all science pertaining to LGBT issues over 40 plus years.

        • SteveP

          You have noted elsewhere “gay” equality is bought; the purchasing of conclusions is stolidly anti-science.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    The case for an anti-science Church is almost suspiciously thin, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you think, just by chance, some scientist or other would’ve run afoul of the Inquisition, or been condemned by some synod? Something?

    But no, apparently it really is just Galileo. If there were anyone else that whackjob Bruno wouldn’t always be #2 on the list, despite the fact that having him on the list weakens the bigots’ argument.

  • Michael Matthew

    In support of John W’s response, Kenneth makes the assumption that at all the science on homosexuality is objective and measurable. The whole debate essentially stems around nature verus nurture. In this regard, psychology and social science comes into play just as much as biology. However, it is difficult to call psychology and social science even a hard science because these often do not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability. I find NARTH reasonable in their hypotheses and correlations, but I actually agree Kenneth’s claim of NARTH as “junk” science has validity. But it goes both ways. Each side is trying to claim as hard science to that what is actually soft science. And to be fair, both sides attempt to redefine science. Science, redefined, is no longer the empirical analysis of the natural world; instead, it is any topic that manipulates a few numbers around. Under such a loose definition, anything can qualify as science. And when anything qualifies as science, science can no longer claim to have a unique grasp on secular truth. This ultimately directs us back to a teleological argument on the nature of man and the Church’s understanding of man.

  • LaVallette

    At its most fundamental, life is about surviving ( eating, self defence shelter etc) and procreation. Homosexuaiity of every kind is sterile. Does no take any scientific research to establish that there is something nor quite right. It is not unusual for common sense to be far wiser than science

    • Kenneth

      It was once common sense that the sun revolved around the Earth and that the plague was caused by a bad alignment of planets. Your “common sense” that homosexuality of every kind is sterile is being proven wrong by science. It’s not a fully resolved issue, but it appears that the gene sets which tend to produce gay males also increase the fertility of the women in the family bearing such genes. The mothers and maternal aunts of gay men actually bear more children than those of straight men. Of course, one can avoid that dilemma of inconvenient facts, as you have, by simply declaring something “self evident” whenever the science doesn’t happen to confirm your preconception.

      • Jon W

        Once again, the adaptivity or inadaptivity of a particular (supposedly congenital) behavior within a species or subspecies in no way guarantees the justice or goodness of the behavior. You’re arguing from false premises, kenneth.

        • Kenneth

          I never attempted to argue justice or goodness on this thread. Someone said as a matter of science that homosexuality is self-evidently self defeating from a standpoint of evolutionary biology. I simply pointed out that the data is giving the lie to that assumption.

          • Jon W

            I got that. But the church’s arguments against homosexuality are not based on that data. By suggesting that this new scientific evidence overthrows the church’s traditional position (which you did do on this thread), you are presuming that the church’s position is based on an analysis of the effects of homosexuality on a society’s reproductive capacity.

            However, when push comes to shove over a belief they have heavily invested themselves in, the science goes out the window, every time.

            This, however, I completely agree with. “Sauce for the goose, etc, etc, etc.”

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        It was also consonant with all the hard, empirical data that the sun revolved around the earth. Not until the discovery of stellar aberration in the mid-1700s, followed by the observation of Coriolis effects at the turn of the 18th/19th centuries, and the observation of stellar parallax in 1803 was there hard data to the contrary. And this was actual science — physics — not mushy stuff all mixed up with political goals.
        I do admit to curiosity over the question of how homosexuality in one person can lead to increased fecundity in another person. There seems to be no causal connection. But even so, it remains that a homosexual pairing in inherently reproductively unsuccessful, even if someone else works harder to make up the difference, something so far asserted but not shown.

        • Jon W

          Maybe it’s a worker bee kind of situation. Having a couple of childless uncles and aunts around aids in survival and increases quality of life and, hence, reproductive success. Just an idea, though.

          • Kenneth

            That very thing has been explored in work with other animals and there seems to be something to it. If I remember which type of animal or who did the study, I’ll post a link. That may well not translate well to human situations. There are lots of anecdotal observations about gay aunts and uncles lavishing some extra resources on their siblings kids, sometimes even paying for college etc., but that doesn’t necessarily confer a “survival advantage” or boost their reproductive fitness, and anyway, gay humans often do have their own kids through prior marriage, adoption, IVF etc.

            I’ll be the first to say the science is far from settled, but it is clear that homosexuality plays some evolutionary role. If it was truly the Darwinian dead end intuition says it should be, we would not be having debates about gay rights because there would be essentially no gay people, maybe a few out of every 100,000, not a few percent. But here they are, and they seem to have been around at more or less steady levels throughout history and throughout cultures which variously celebrated them, tolerated them, or killed them upon discovery. Camperio Ciani offers a genetic model which fits very well with the empirical data about gay men and the fecundity in their maternal lines. It won’t be the final word on the subject, but it’s not a bad body of work. The anti-SSM lobby, for all its sniping of mainstream science, has had nothing of any substance to put on the table to counter it.

            • Jon W

              And I have no quarrel with this science as presented (assuming it’s good science). I would only say that it does not morally justify same sex behavior, nor provide anything like a public argument for gay marriage.

  • Michael Matthew

    Kenneth:

    Regarding the study you reference above:

    “Your “common sense” that homos*xuality of every kind is sterile is being proven wrong by science. It’s not a fully resolved issue, but it appears that the gene sets which tend to produce gay males also increase the fertility of the women in the family bearing such genes. The mothers and maternal aunts of gay men actually bear more children than those of straight men.”

    Did you even at least read the abstract of the article you referenced? If you did, you would have read the following taken from the Article first published online: 22 MAY 2012, The Journal of S*xual Medicine,Volume 9, Issue 11, pages 2878–2887, November 2012, from lead researcher, Andrea S. Camperio Ciani:

    “Our analysis showed that both mothers and maternal aunts of homos*xual men show increased fecundity compared with corresponding maternal female relatives of heteros*xual men. A two-step statistical analysis, which was based on t-tests and multiple logistic regression analysis, showed that mothers and maternal aunts of homos*xual men
    (i) had fewer gynecological disorders;
    (ii) had fewer complicated pregnancies;
    (iii) had LESS interest in having children;
    (iv) placed LESS emphasis on romantic love within couples;
    (v) placed LESS importance on their social life;
    (vi) showed REDUCED family stability;
    (vii) were more extraverted; and
    (viii) had divorced or separated from their spouses MORE frequently.

    Result i and ii MAY affect fecundity but the study says nothing about actual live births nor does it show as you stated that “ the mothers and maternal aunts of gay men actually bear more children than those of straight men.” Increased fecundity is NOT the same as “bear more children.” And assuming i and ii affect fecundity, please explain to me how results iii-viii increase fecundity?
    (iii) had LESS interest in having children;
    (iv) placed LESS emphasis on romantic love within couples;
    (v) placed LESS importance on their social life;
    (vi) showed REDUCED family stability;
    (vii) were more extraverted; and
    (viii) had divorced or separated from their spouses MORE frequently

    Are you friggin kidding me? Any substantial gain in fecundity is negated by results iii through viii.
    Also, a questionnaire-based approach was used to investigate fecundity in a whopping 161 female European subjects. The study was based in Italy and assuming most of the 161 subjects were Italian, are we to then extrapolate this across the 60 million people of Italy. And how do you factor in the very low fertility rate of 1.4 births/women of Italy and the ridiculously low fertility rate across all of old Europe?
    I can not speak about other studies on the proposed increased fecundity, but this study proves nothing but confusion and certainly not the conclusion the authors are proposing. This scientific study smells “junky” if you know what I mean.

    • Kenneth

      The 2012 study isn’t the only work Camperio Ciani has done on the subject. In 2004, his team looked specifically at the issue of fertility in the maternal lines of gay vs straight men, about 100 of each involving a total of 4,600 people (relatives of the men etc. ) Mothers of gay men produced an average of 2.7 babies compared with 2.3 born to mothers of straight men. And maternal aunts of gay men had 2.0 babies compared with 1.5 born to the maternal aunts of straight men.

      His work never purported to solve the whole “nature vs nurture’ debate about what causes homosexuality, but he makes a clean and mathematically sophisticated case for showing that a model involving two genes and one linked to the X-Chromosome best explains the disparity in these fecundity patterns, and also offers a plausible explanation for the “Darwinian Paradox” the anti-gay forces like to seize upon. They say that gay people are invariably an evolutionary dead end, and yet there they are, generation after generation in relatively stable levels. The Italians have shown how this is probably happening, and it’s real, peer reviewed science.

      • SteveP

        And who paid for the conclusion?

        • Kenneth

          According to his disclosures, he had no special funding for that project, so apparently it was done within his usual budget at the University of Padova. I suppose next you’ll allege that the U.S. gay lobby is really pulling all of the strings in Padova

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        a clean and mathematically sophisticated case
        Someone evidently thinks a t-test and a logistic regression analysis with multiple X’s and Y’s is “sophisticated.” Given enough Xs and Ys, a “significant” p-value is virtually guaranteed on at least some of the pairings.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Oh, mon Ghu! A statistical correlation? No doubt with weenie p-values. And multiple logistic regression analysis, no less. This is dangerous stuff even when dealing with actual measured variables in electro-mechanical situations, let alone when the “measurement” is made by a questionnaire. Heh.

      • Kenneth

        Stating that people can play games with statistics is true, but it is not a substantial critique of Camperio Ciani’s studies. If you are in fact a statistician, do the work and publish a review article detailing whatever weaknesses in his methodology you find. Sniping ain’t scholarship. One can always debate the strength of someone’s findings or the conclusions that may be drawn from them, but I doubt you’d find amateurish methodology or gamesmanship in his work. It’s peer reviewed and published in real journals.

        It’s also worth nothing that Camperio Ciani’s lab, which has been around since 1992, and his general area of study has no obvious overarching interest in the gay marriage culture war. Much of his work has to do with non-human primate genetics and a wide range of evolutionary psychology topics. His work on gay men and fertility accounts for three out of about 50 of his scientific publications over 30 years.

  • The True Will

    Meanwhile, Kenneth has still not pointed to a concrete, checkable instance of TheChurch’s “campaign to de-legitimize science as a discipline, and sometimes attempts to counter the scientific findings with junk science ala NARTH and the Regnerus study. ” Or is he using the “TheCatholicChurch is a hive mind” line of argument?

    • Kenneth

      The Church clearly roots at least some of its theological positions in scientific claims about “the nature of man” etc. One such claim, or inferred claim, is that men and women are always assigned clearly unambiguous gender identities at birth, which we know not to be true.

      Furthermore ,the Church does not exist in isolation as doctrine-generating body. It exists as a political organization in the real world, and in that capacity, it certainly has campaigned to de-legitimize science around LGBT issues in order to further its position. The narrative of the anti-SSM movement is all science which doesn’t find homosexual orientation to be pathological or purely by choice or curable is illegitimate. The fact that a pope may not say that word for word in some encyclical means nothing because the Church has allied itself with this movement and funded it, and never disavowed any part of the narrative in any substantial way. The organization and strategic connectivity between the Church and its affiliate lay groups and groups like NOM and the conservative think tanks that funded Regnerus is seamless.

      Bishops also frequently make claims that gay marriage will harm children, ie worse outcomes. That’s a scientific claim, and one for which never are willing or able to produce the data. The overall campaign to fight SSM and other gay issues in the legal arena depends 100% on the de-legitimization of science and the propagation of junk science because public policy decisions in secular societies turn on data, not theology or natural law philosophy. There is simply no way to fight this battle on the ground without de-legitimizing science, and the Church has been fighting the battle since it began.

  • Noah D

    Let me see if I can apply a layman’s common sense to this. Assume the usual caveats.

    Given that homosexuals do not reproduce and homosexuality keeps manifesting in the human population, perhaps homosexuality isn’t an inherited trait…

  • Michael Matthew

    Noah:

    The scientific understanding of your proposition is called sexually antagonistic selection. This is what the studies Kenneth is referring to and I critiqued above. It is a plausible way to explain why homos*xuality continues to manifest in the gene pool so to speak. Essentially, it espouses the theory where there is genetic benefit for the female and diminished or lost benefit for the male. Stated another way, the decreased male fitness for offspring of a homos*xual actually confers increased fitness for offspring for the female. I have no bones with the theory but just find the second study by Camperio Ciani in 2012 very weak compared to the study done in 2004.

    As is the case with this debate, sexually antagonistic selection only offers the “how” homosexuality may persist in the population. The “why” is open to interpretation and in my opinion is a teleological argument which for me points one back to the Church’s understanding of man and the natural law.

  • Michael Matthew

    Kenneth:

    “because public policy decisions in secular societies turn on data, not theology or natural law philosophy. ”

    Oh really. I guess the US founding fathers did not get your memo or email. How dare those people reference to inalienable

  • Michael Matthew

    (let”s try this again)
    Kenneth:

    “because public policy decisions in secular societies turn on data, not theology or natural law philosophy. ”

    Oh really. I guess the US founding fathers did not get your memo or email. How dare those guys reference “truths to be self evident” and “inalienable rights.” What were they smoking?

  • Michael Matthew

    Kenneth:
    Also, I said the argument for homosexuality is ‘teleological” and not “theological”. One does not have to believe in a “theos” to make a “teleological” argument.


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