First, The bad: Vatican brother Guy Consolmagno, a Vatican astronomer much beloved of John Kw-k, spoke yesterday at Winona State University in Minnesota. His topic: “Astronomy, God, and the search for elegance.” I don’t have a transcript of his talk, but the pre-talk publicity was dire, for Consolmagno had the temerity to draw unfavorable comparisons between cats and humans:
His combined religious and scientific vocations give him the opportunity to consider “the big questions” — “the mysteries you breathe in and ponder.”
“These are human questions,” he said, pointing out that “my cat never asked these questions. My cat never wanted to look through a telescope.”
Seeking answers to questions of how the universe works and how we came to be part of it are distinctly human activities, “like doing a dance or making a painting or doing all the things that cats don’t do.”
So what? Consolmagno never wanted to catch a bird or bask in the sun on a roof.
The supposed conflict between religion and science really doesn’t exist, Consolmagno said. “Science grew out of religion.”
Historically, the church has fostered science and the academic life, he pointed out, and churchmen have been in the forefront of scientific advancement — in fact the originator of the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the universe was a priest [JAC: Georges Lemaitre].
“There is nothing in the Bible opposing evolution,” he pointed out, “but there is something in the Bible against astrology.” . .
. . To apply a modern reading to a 2,000 year old text “does violence to the text,” Consolmagno said, “and that’s not me saying it, it’s Augustine saying it.”
God, I am so sick of hearing about Augustine the Hippo. And what about all those theologians who were more literalist? Why is Augustine singled out and the others ignored? And, of course, Augustine believed in predestination, but Consolmagno conveniently omits that. But what do you expect from someone who denigrates cats in public?
The Ugly: Deepity Chopra! On the CNN “Belief” blog, he writes “Science and religion should be friends.” Deepity isn’t worth wasting much time on (although he’s rich—a severe indictment of America), but the piece contains, besides the usual atheist-bashing, LOLz like this:
Outside the view of the general public, science has reached a critical point. The physical building blocks of the universe have gradually vanished; that is, atoms and quarks no longer seem solid at all but are actually clouds of energy, which in turn disappear into the void that seems to be the source of creation.
Was mind also born in the same place outside space and time? Is the universe conscious? Do genes depend on quantum interactions? Science aims to understand nature down to its very essence, and now these once radical questions, long dismissed as unscientific, are unavoidable.
Yep, I’m gonna get right on the question of whether genes “depend on quantum interactions.”
And, The Good: a strident atheist article at HuffPo—and not by Vic Stenger, either! It’s by Frank Schaeffer, ex-evangelical Christian and author of the book Crazy for God, and his piece is called “We need freedom from religion no just freedom of religion.“ The piece isn’t written all that well, and jumps around all over the place, but hey, it’s amazing that something like this even appears in the Religion section of the Website of Boobs and Woo:
Would the IRS give al Qaeda tax-deductable status?
Then why does the Roman Catholic Church, which has done so little to make up for the pedophilia abuses, have that status? Why do the Scientologists? Why do countless fundamentalist Protestant schools that are more like madrassas than schools as most of us understand the term? Why aren’t parents who kill their children for God not serving life sentences? If The New Yorker article is true, why aren’t the leaders of Scientology in jail? Why wasn’t Cardinal Law prosecuted?
Answer: Because of our crazy ideas about religious freedom that on so many fronts trump not just common sense but the rule of law. . .
. . . The state needs to take away tax deductible status from any religious organization where child abuse is condoned (or hidden). This stripping of tax deductible status should apply to the extremist faith healing Evangelicals and pedophile enabling Catholics and to the Scientologists as well. And child abusers should be jailed be they in robes or hiding out behind “respectable” Hollywood stars.
I must admit that I see no justification for any religion (not just the nefarious ones described by Schaeffer) to get tax-exempt status in America.