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Bloody Pell! Q&A stoush with Dawkins fails to bridge the gap between faith and science

Watching the Q&A “debate” between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell made me realise, for the first time, why Professor Dawkins has become so impatient and intolerant when expressing his atheism…

Cardinal George Pell needs to sharpen his ideas if he’s going to take on science populist Richard Dawkins. Mark Coggins/AAP/Dean Lewins

Watching the Q&A “debate” between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell made me realise, for the first time, why Professor Dawkins has become so impatient and intolerant when expressing his atheism. His exasperation with narrow mindedness and wilful ignorance is as understandable as it is palpable.

If you are seriously going to go head to head with a leading scholar in his field – one who has written some of the best popular science books ever written – you really should know your facts. And aside from some of the more bigoted attitudes Cardinal Pell exhibited, which have understandably been the focus in the press, the most embarrassing moment in the debate came when he suggested that we had descended from Neanderthals.

Natural, not random, selection

It is probably one of the most grievous intellectual errors anybody can make to reject a position without knowing anything about it.

That error is compounded if you then purport to accept the position as “probably” true, but get the fundamental details wrong! This is not the kind of example we should set to our youngsters about how to pursue one of the greatest debates ever known in the history of humankind.

And as Dawkins rightly pointed out, the Cardinal repeated a prevalent misunderstanding about the doctrine of natural selection, namely, that we are here by chance. We are not. Natural selection is not a random process.

As Dawkins has explained, one of the assumptions that inclined English philosopher William Paley – and many people who are not aware of the power of Darwin’s evolutionary theory to explain life – to believe there must have been a designer was the notion that is impossible for something as complex, and as beautiful as the eye to have come about “by chance”. The probability assumed by a belief to the contrary, the argument goes, is just too great.

This assumption is one of the chief sources of bewilderment motivating the belief that there must have been some designer who is responsible for it. It is also one of the main reasons for the continuing rejection, by some, of Darwin’s alternative explanation of life.

But, as Dawkins points out, the belief that Darwin is committed to the view that complex natural things like the eye came about “by chance” is gravely mistaken. The eye itself is a result of a cumulative series of evolutionary steps, each of which consists of only a simple mutation.

It is, therefore, only simple, not complex, things that come about “by chance”. The probabilities assumed by Darwin are not great at all.

But more than this, the simple thing that comes about by chance, and is passed on genetically through several generations, is not passed on by chance either. Rather, it is “selected” by nature as the change or mutation that better enables its bearer (the organism possessing the mutated gene) to survive.

This combination of random mutation and non-random selection is the mechanism by which evolution occurs. It offers an explanation that is not saddled with any of the difficulties which motivated belief in the existence of a designer.

Religion for scientists

Where does that leave religion? I can only speak of Christianity, for that is the religion I know.

It is important to note that there a number of different takes on the doctrine of Christianity, all of which inform some church practice or another.

On the version of which I am fond, it rewrites the creation story in a fashion that is consistent with the creation of a new religion. The first verse in the Gospel of John, for example, speaks of “the word” as the source of life. And that, of course, is the message Jesus Christ said he came to bring: “I have come so that you might find life in all its fullness.”

It is not difficult to see that there may be some usurpation of a traditional belief system going on here.

Another interesting statement is this: “I and the Father are one”. This could mean many things, but one thing it could mean is: “forget about a metaphysical fairy in the sky. The way to divine happiness is to lead your life in the spirit that I lead mine, where you put others before your own interests, love rather than hate your enemies, turn the other cheek rather than exact revenge, etc. If you need to believe in God, I’ll be your God. But the most important thing is to live your life like I do.”

It’s a significant challenge, one that not many of us can live up to, but it certainly isn’t open to the kinds of objections that Dawkins makes, and there are churches that take this to be the essence of Christianity.

It is in this sense that Christianity is compatible with science. Is it just possible that the real Christian message has been lost by our having taken it in the wrong way?

Join the conversation

263 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    I would agree that there are some who take the Bible (and perhaps some other religious texts) too literally. Quite a lot of science can also be very dry, and lacking in spirituality, and even morality and ethics.

    Interesting that another article in The Conversation reports how many school children find maths boring.

    I can understand Richard Dawkins, although I don’t agree with him in a number of areas, and find him very boring.

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    1. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Dawkins seems to be more interested in selling Books and the Dawkins brand.. His scatter gun comments saying all religions are the same, when clearly they are not! And comments that do not recognize the significance of the new testament superseding the old testament are all examples of generalisations i would expect from a novice rather than a well researched expert or thought leader.

      I believe that Paul Davis is a person that has a true scientific approach to the questions of God.. which from…

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph Bernard
      I would agree Richard Dawkins is first and foremost attempting to sell Richard Dawkins. I have seen some of his videos, and the camera spent most of the time focussed on Richard Dawkins.

      I would also agree that many religions are attempting to explain a life force, but written or spoken words may not be adequate enough to explain that life force. At the same time, science attempting to reduce everything down to a series of mathematical equations is not adequate enough also.

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    3. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      “Both Pell and Dawkins have no life experience so how are they ever going to be able to answer these types of questions.."

      That's a blatant cop out, you seem to be forgetting that Pell makes pronouncements on behalf of the Catholic Church here in Australia, he is the acknowledged leader in this country after all. If he claims the right to do that, to make pronouncements which adversely affect the lives of women, homosexuals and others and, to influence gullible politicians despite our supposed separation of church and state, you and he should acknowledge the right of others to criticise him when he is blatantly wrong.

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    4. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "...science attempting to reduce everything down..." I think perhaps the more balanced way of expressing this is to say that science is attempting to explain how the natural world works, without resorting to supernatural explanations.

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    5. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "...science attempting to reduce everything down..." I think perhaps the more balanced way of expressing this is to say that science is attempting to explain how the natural world works, without resorting to supernatural explanations.

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    6. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @ Blair

      All Pell said was that "Marriage contract" is a standard contract between a man and women" ..

      do you know anything about writing a contract? They are designed to reflect the nature of the relationship and the terms and conditions of that relationship!

      Gay relationship are fundemantally different and so too should their contract be different..

      As for "Blatant cop out" .. what notable life experience do they have that equipes either of them to say whether God exists or Not?

      Let face it Dawkins is just after the buck and is no world beater or icon. Pell is just a bishop that has a right to defend His belief and tradition, but He is no Jesus.

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    7. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, to my knowledge neither of them have definitive proof that their imaginary friend exists in reality. I'm doubtful one exists but as I'm unable to explore the entire cosmos, I have to leave open the remote possibility a god does exist somewhere - but I'm not holding my breath. I prefer honest enquiry and where I don't know or understand the deep and meaningfuls of life, the universe and everything, to my satisfaction, I prefer “I don't know" to the intellectually bankrupt “goddidit" which answers exactly nothing.

      Over to you…

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    8. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      @Dale, the only people who seem concerned about science reducing everything to fundamentals are those believers who think they have been specially created. I'm happy knowing I'm just a particular combination of atoms already billions of years old, that have combined momentarily to make me, which will eventually disperse back into the ecosystem once I croak. The thought of eternity in some notional heaven (or hell :-) would be a hell in itself.

      But back to George Pell, pontificating on high using an unprovable authority figure has to be the greatest con job known to mankind. So long as his church demands tax exemptions, influences politicians, tells women what they can do with their bodies and denies homosexuals equal rights, I reserve the right to refuse to respect him, his church or the followers who refuse to question rules first written down by Bronze Age goatherds.

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    9. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      I welcome your admission as to "I'm unable to explore the cosmos" , was being to wonder if you are the authority on everything.

      As to your belief or non Belief.. that is your right and we all live with our own choices..

      you will be happy (maybe) to know that "I don't know" is the first step to enlightment acccording to Buddhist teachings, so maybe there is yet hope.

      as for the "goddidit"... as meantioned in a previous posting.. "God" is a term that is yet to be clearly defined.. once defined we may be able to have a discussion that maybe about the same thing.. in the meantime back to more of the same.

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    10. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Ian Ashman
      “explain how the natural world works”?

      As I have been attempting to explain to someone else recently, there are vast areas of nature that will never be known about, because it costs too much money to carry out research.

      There are also considerable areas of science that have the most minimal reliability or no reliability at all, such as social science that hasn’t been able to come up with one scientific law after all the time and money spent on it.

      So science on this small planet is not necessarily the greatest thing going.

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    11. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      As much as I would love to be an authority on everything, I learnt a long while ago that the more I learn, the less I know. Anyway, I generally find the position of AoE is already claimed by theists and their various leaders. When the answers to everything are presumed to come from a book that has itself been revised innumerable times, I become even more incredulous.

      As for definitions of “god", the fact that people can't even agree on what god is makes me wonder why they are so determined to…

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    12. Christine Bolt

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Not just telling women what they can do with their bodies-discriminating against women pretty much across the board.

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    13. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      yes, i agree that it is strange.. but as Ken wilber points out it is part of our "Hatching process" .. from an egg through to higher consciousness..

      It is a standard NLP concept to understand that words are not meaning.. the word ocean, hardly is adequate to describe the full implications of what an ocean is.

      So to the word "God" is hardly adequate to describe what it means to different people and of the 7 billion people on the planet there are close to that many definitions or understandings..

      So i think the questions "Does God Exist?" is a flawed question as long as we do not even know what each other person means by the word.

      Pell started to talk about the "Soul" that is in all living things.. Lets hazard "Life Force" as a gender neutral term and our ability to even contemplate these ideas as all as "Consciousness" .. What are these things and where do they come from? our brain?

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    14. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      I'll stick with mitochondria. “Life force", “soul" etc are just placeholders that are essentially meaningless unless or until everybody agrees with the definition. In any case, I don't really see the need or believe in life forces or souls. As far as I'm concerned, life is just a chemical process. But again, these nations aren't the subject of the OP.

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    15. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Luckily belief in or the definition of the "Life Force" is not a precursor to living.

      and consciousness is not limited to some testtube ..

      and for a chemical process it certainly does make alot of noise complaining about all sort of of things..

      I remember a quote "Life is wasted on the living"

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    16. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      "It's only believers who think ill of their fellow man."
      I would be interested to hear the logic that led you to this position. In particular, a corollary would seem to be that you see no reason for the government to set up:-
      scamwatch.gov.au

      "Euthanasia is a perfect case in point. I don't care if you or your fellow believers don't want that option but I would like to know it's available should I need it. Unfortunately the god squad insist on arguing that if a euthanasia law is enacted, it…

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    17. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "So science on this small planet is not necessarily the greatest thing going."

      I read that as "because we don't know everything yet, science is pointless and we should not bother doing more"

      Science is incremental acquisition of knowledge. One tiny step at a time. Social science is an examination of the people, cultures and structures within which the science is done.

      Neither is perfect, errors are common, but errors are not a negative in science.

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    18. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      If science is so important and sure then why do we have Dawkins vs Pell?

      I would rather see Dawkins vs Paul Davis.. ie men of science.

      I suggest that there is no science at all in this discussion.. it was suppose to be on whether God exists? and noboby has even bothered to define the term "God"... is there even a scientific defintion anywhere? what exactly is science explaining here?

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    19. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip, the logic that leads me to believe it's “generally” - (notably you left that bit out) believers who think ill of their fellow man comes from any number of theists and of course the writings of your precious holy book.

      The government setting up scamwatch only goes to show that the ill informed need protection from themselves and dodgy operators.

      As for your examples of children wanting to be rid of their parents sooner rather than later, that goes on already, you only need to look in any nursing home. You still haven't proved euthanasia would make the problem worse but in any case, nobody is forcing you to make use of it while myself and others would like to have that option to die with some dignity.

      I think Steven Weinberg best sums it up: “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion."

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    20. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Everyone has been specially created is what the Catholic Church teaches. We Catholics also desire to see science to continue flourishing, not reduced to "fundamentals". Catholic teaching doesn't have any teaching on any human beings not being human as we do not hold to reace theories that Fascism holds to. Why would Heaven be a hellish thought? Hell of course would be by definition a valid hellish thought however repentance and love should be with us not servile fears. Salutory fears are important…

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    21. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      "why do we have Dawkins vs Pell"

      Entertainment. It was hardly an in-depth serious examination of the questions posed.

      I take it you support the concept of non-overlapping magisteria as proposed by Gould and would rather see science not address religion at all?

      The problem with that approach is that in attempting to sidestep religion, science ignores the not infrequent transgressions of its own territory by religious adherents who seek to use whatever theology they ascribe to, to dictate policy imperatives.

      These are not restricted to Christianity of course but Pell's position on climate change is one example.

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    22. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Webb

      @Michael, you're welcome to believe you're the special creation of some ethereal deity, I don't need magical thinking to have meaning in my life. The people who care for me and who I, in turn, care for, is enough.

      You have entirely missed the point regarding my reference to Bronze Age goatherds. The point is that since their assorted mythologies were later written down, edited, recompiled and transcribed to suit the mores of the day, the world has moved on.

      Most adults have foregone magical…

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    23. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I provided the urls for a reason.
      I prefer reason and numbers to slogans.

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    24. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I wanted to understand the world and did a science degree. I realised then that I didn't understand people so I did a psychology degree.
      I realised then that people who claim to be simply rational and logical are the most delusional.
      Countless experiments have shown humans to be highly unscientific, and illogical in their behaviour.
      Perhaps you are an exception. If you are, you would be very valuable as a psychological subject, in the same way that identical twins are valuable.
      Would you like a manager? Only 10%

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    25. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Pell and others are able to recognize when scientists move outside their area of expertise and into the arena of religion.
      It is passing strange that scientists and doctors are so loathe to resist the march of pseudo-science in to their fields.
      It is only recently that the place of chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, etc. have been challenged for their place in Universities.
      The reduction of immunization in the general population has reduced the "herd immunity" to whooping cough, etc…

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    26. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I quoted your complete sentence. Where did the "generally" come from?
      I assumed that contributors are able to write appropriately qualified and nuanced sentences on this website.
      I am sorry that this assumption was incorrect.

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    27. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      If the question of whether god exists, is the one asked of science, then the answer would simply be that there is no evidence at all for the existence of god, so the reasonable conclusion, based on evidence, (or in this case a lack of evidence), would be that god does not exist.

      The question, however, is still an open one, and anyone providing evidence would be welcome to try and prove the existence of god, and people can evaluate that evidence for themselves. The evidence can be tested, reviewed, discussed, and judged, and if compelling enough the evidence will change the current view, this is what science is all about.

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    28. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Not ethereal deity but rather incarnational. Christ and His Apostles were flesh and blood just like the continuing Church Catholic today in 2012.

      Blair, it is nice to know that you care for people and they care for you; that is how Catholics feel about interactions too.
      We all need to believe ( or reject) hence Christ's own non-magical words in the real accounts called Gospels where He says "those who beleive will be saved; those who refuse to believe will be condemned".

      Jesus not only existed…

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    29. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      "Pell and others are able to recognize when scientists move outside their area of expertise and into the arena of religion."

      LOLz

      Really? Did you read my final paragraph - Pell spent the entire period of the debate outside how own area of expertise and made statements that caused collective apoplexy from biologists across the nation and you think he is qualified to recognize when others are on shaky ground?

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    30. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      We are all evolved from Neanderthals! heheheh

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    31. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael Carroll
      Science hit a wall sometime ago. Science discovered the cell, which according to cell theory, is that basis of all living things. But the cell has no neurons or ability to carry out thought, and science has never been able to figure out what makes the cell want to live and reproduce.

      Science has conveniently tucked away the question of “life force”, and has hoped not many people will ask about that.

      As for social science, it could be a very long time before anything reliable comes out of social science. In fact we may not be here when something reliable is finally produced, because science has also spread so many nuclear bombs around the planet.

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    32. Donncha Redmond

      Software Developer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Dale, we've had greater than 2000 years of religion, and 5-600 years of the scientific method and it's pretty easy to see that the scientific method has done more to explain who we are, where we came from and how than religion ever has.

      In almost every case where religion has made an attempt to explain the world, science has shown it to be wrong, so, even if, as you claim, "religion is attempting to explain a life force", why would anyone pay any attention to something that has such a poor track record at explaining anything?

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    33. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      A pity you didn't pay more attention to critical thinking when you did your science degree, had you done so you would recognise the logical fallacies in your comments above.

      There are any number of apparently intelligent people who believe weird things. You think that's a revelation? Of course humans can be highly unscientific, believing in conspiracy theories and alternative medicines, let alone the many religions perfectly illustrate that.

      Having listened to and enjoyed many interviews of people like Richard Weisman and James Randi, I'm fully aware of how easy it is for people (including myself - shock horror) to be deceived or to deceive themselves. Anybody who has observed a good magician experiences this very thing. The trick is being aware of it.

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    34. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Well some scientists also speak outside their area of expertise by speaking about or dismissing religion, theology and metaphysics.

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    35. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      It seems that climate change hysteria has brought about a religion of its own ie with carbon taxes to save the world before it too late nonsense. Well, the average family man and woman Labor voter have deserted the ALP in droves thanks to the inner city far left and also the libertraian permissives.

      Working class family Labor voters, many of whom believe in God and Church, have now switched sides in politics as they have a natural and rightful disdain from the mentalities of some on this discussion and the usual suspects on the ABC's Q & A saudience and twittersphere groupie self-indulgent libertraian and far left wackjobs. Hence the huge primary vote for the Liberal Party and the sad decline of the ALP.

      As for the middle class inner city chatterers and NIMBYS, well they too have abandoned the ALP for the misnamed Greens.

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    36. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian,

      just another example of your irrational behaviour.. sorry i hurt your feeling..

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    37. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Micaheal

      May i add that whether you believe the historical perspective or not of Jesus.. The teachings of Jesus challenge people to both a high standard of interpersonal and person standards.

      One such passage is where Jesus asks "Why focus at the speck in your brother's eye and ignore the Log in your own" ...

      What i find most amazing is two thousand years later and men are not much smarter and we are at best at times just "monkeys in suites"

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    38. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Judith Olney

      @Judith

      how can science claim anything about God? .. there is no evidence because there is no science... Where is the definition of the "God" that you expect?

      Dawkins admitted that at one stage he was looking for a 40ft Jesus or Man floating in the sky.. now that is proof!

      where is the proof that "Life force" and "consciousness" do not exist?

      hmm.. maybe this forum?

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    39. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      @Dale,

      sorry, but there is much more science than the narrow view presented in this forum.. The infinite possibilities of that quantum physics, parallel universes and the Holographic nature of this universe presents a wall that just shatters this little mind..

      I dare say that the biggest problem (challenge), we face is that of our own imagination and ability to let go of the past so that we can embrace new future view and life.

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    40. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      You're playing with semantics, not putting forward any useful information. There is no evidence for god/gods using any definition currently understood today. If you want to dream up a few more definitions of god, go ahead, and then show evidence for your god, and it will be evaluated just like all the others.

      Where is the proof that "Life Force" exists, if you make the claim, the burden of proof is on you?

      Consciousness resides in our brains, and is a complex result of chemicals, physiology, and our environment and experience. If you would like some proof of this, look at the evidence provided by science, and evaluate it for yourself.

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    41. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Donncha Redmond

      Donncha Redmond
      Someone can take various religious texts literally, in which case such texts provide minimal science information. For example, they would provide no information on why we eat something, and provide no information about our digestion systems.

      But the best science has been able to do that would equate to “life force” has been enthalpy and chemical reactions. So if enough energy is supplied, a chemical reaction can take place, and that chemical reaction may result in a protein being formed that may form some type of organelle that may be suitable in a cell, and that cell may be suitable for a multi-celled organism.

      So the next time you eat something, you are simply providing reactants for chemical reactions that are taking place in your body, and the one and only reason for your existence is to enable those chemical reactions to take place.

      If someone takes science literally, you are simply a series of chemical reactions, and that is all you are.

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    42. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Michael Webb

      Your point being what - that people often speak outside their area of 'expertise'? that is a given or anyone with a PhD or narrow field of experience would never be able to engage in public debate. Richard Dawkins has spent a considerable amount of time discussing and writing about religion, theology and metaphysics to the point where as well as his credentials in Biology he is often sought out for his expert opinion in opposition to apologists of religion, theology and metaphysics. The difference…

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    43. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "Science hit a wall sometime ago"

      Really? What kind of wall? I don't see any scientists sitting around the biology department looking glum and exclaiming "oh well, we will never know so we might as well not bother trying"

      In any case I fear you may be many kinds of wrong in your claim - perhaps it is because you have attempted to apply anthropomorphise cells when you state " But the cell has no neurons or ability to carry out thought, and science has never been able to figure out what makes…

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    44. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      edit fail "None have succeeded so far."

      should immediately follow

      "As for "life force" Science has not conveniently "tucked away the discussion" at all, it waits for yet another someone to develop a viable hypothesis that can be tested."

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    45. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Michael Webb

      The only reference to climate change as a religion that I see being made is from those who appear to have an ideological opposition to the idea than human activity can have an impact on climate - ie an ideological opposition to a scientific theory.

      This appears to be a similar claim as "science is now a religion" or "atheism is now a religion".

      None of the claims have a basis in fact but do make catchy "gotcha!" lines for those incapable of critical analysis.

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    46. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Dale - why does there need to be a "life force"?

      I personally find it quite remarkable enough that as a series of chemical reaction manage to power you, I and 7 billion other thinking, creative and loving creatures. Truly we are far more than the sum of our chemistry but a 'life force' is not required to explain why and how that came to be.

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    47. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Webb

      @Michael W, I'd really be interested to see your hard-won climate data that demonstrates your claims? Me, I prefer to defer to the experts on the matter, the vast majority of whom have seemingly legitimate concerns that are well reasoned and supported by empirical evidence.

      You on the other hand are armed by what, unfounded opinion, hatred, distrust, arrogance, an unwillingness to assess a subject objectively while laughably categorising those who disagree with you into simplistic groups? If only such complex subjects were as simple as you make them out to be.

      Try putting your prejudices to one side for a moment and have a look at the following:
      Merchants of Doubt, written by Naomi Oreskes And Erik M Conway
      http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/

      I wonder if you can acknowledge just how successfully you've been hoodwinked?

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    48. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael Carrol.
      I have carried out many chemical reactions, and never once was the end product a thinking, creative and loving creature.

      Many other things would be necessary for that to occur

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    49. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      @ Michael

      The world according to Dawkins is more about how much money can i make.. He is not the authority on anything in particular and he is just interested in selling His books..

      Paul Davis is a published research scientist that has describes Dawkins as frightening.. And FYI Paul describes Himself as "Post Religion"..

      Do yourself a favour and get more than one opinion so you have a more balanced view.

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    50. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Judith Olney

      @Judith

      where is your proof? which specific atom in the brain does consciousness actually reside?

      what about the consciouiness of a virus? and single cell organisim that have no brain? what they are not consciously reproducing?

      Proof what exactly would you accept as proof?

      If my feeble vioce does not rate a point then how about you check out Paul Davis in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tB1jppI3fo

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    51. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      this amazing example of logic.. the most comprehensive flowchart of life the universe and everything is ok for children.. If this is your evidence, then sorry try a little harder..

      Science through quantum pyshics requires something called the observer.. so what is it a particle or a wave? what is it that makes the difference? the act of observation.. weird science or imaginary results

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    52. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Donncha Redmond

      @Michael,

      Have you ever watched a person die? That moment after the heart stops and the body just becomes lifeless? The chemical reaction is still going.. Hair keeps growing, nails keep growing, but the person's body looks strangely different and lifeless..

      Experience that a few times and ask yourself what is different before and after that event? Ask yourself if the life force is required?

      and in a universe where there seems to be a continuum for energy and matter where nothing disappears just changes forms.. do you really believe that consciousness just sits magically in your brain and then disappears? or does it become part of a collective consciousness? Or you just asking me to believe in magic?

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    53. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Joseph, given your comments have been so childish I thought it best to keep it simple. I don't recall claiming it was “evidence", I was only trying to provide a simplified explanation of how science works, versus your blind faith. Evidently this simple explanation is beyond you. Let me guess, a sense of irony and humour aren't your strong points?

      With all due respect, I suspect your knowledge of quantum physics is little better than mine and that it would likely just fill the back of a matchbox. But to answer your last question, weird science is infinitely more appealing than imaginary results. I love physics, at least the bits I understand, why make up nonsense to fill in the gaps? That your domain.

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    54. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph - this is just silly. You are guilty of the same ignorance Pell displayed. Rejecting sciecce because of your own ignorance and poor understanding of it and therefore creating a need to believe in a mystical magical "life force" that is beyond explanation.

      Life, like consciousness, is an emergent phenomenon. The universe is full of such pehenomena. They emerge or are the observable result of processes which happen over time and are based on physical phenomena and processes that we can study and learn more about through intersubjective empiricism, best managed through the scientific method.

      Yes, I have watched someone die. It was a profound personal experience. When not enough of the processes necessary to give rise to the emergent phenomena of life were active - life stopped. There's nothing mystical about it. profoundly moving perhaps - and in a very real human way "miraculous" and wonderful. But not, in any way, supernatual

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    55. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Oh I get that you prefer Davies to Dawkins - but that appears to be because Davies says what you want to hear and Dawkins does not. As it happens I have read extensively of Dawkins, Davies and others - I don't tie myself to any one source of discussion.

      You should note that Davies is a physicist while Dawkins is a Biologist - Physicists like nicely balanced mathematical principles. Davies himself has expressed disquiet that biology appears so messy in detail compared to physics. They are, in a sense, from quite different worlds - if you want to see an excellent example of this here is a link to a discussion between Dawkins and Davies on this very topic: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/3858-discussion-between-richard-dawkins-and-paul-davies

      Oh, and "do yourself a favour and get more than one opinion so you have a more balanced view"

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    56. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      That appears to be an attempt to reduce my comments to the most simplistic level in order to make them appear absurd?

      Would you ever expect that the end product of a chemical reaction would be a thinking loving creature? I would be surprised if you did expect that. Nevertheless we are human animals - we are a mass of biochemical reactions that also have the capacity to reason - yet in spite of having these ongoing internal processes we are indeed the reasonable, emotional beings that we are.

      We are, as I stated, more than the sum of or chemistry - or biology, or biochemistry, but only if we choose to be.

      Other than attempting a cheap shot, I don't see what other point you were trying to make?

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    57. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark - your reply is sufficiently eloquent. I too have watched loved ones die and I also saw nothing mystical in the process, just a cessation of life. It is an emotional experience but not one that I found required any metaphysics to make me feel better.

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    58. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      @Mark,

      I have no idea how you claim i reject science? I am asking a simple question.. thats all.

      The collective conscious or unconscious is a carl jung term not mine.. is Carl considered to be scientific?

      I have made mention of Paul Davis on a number of occasions.. Is He considered to be a crack pot?

      I am open minded to all this and am asking questions and sharing examples thats all.. I have no need to be right and do not limited my exploration to a single school of thought.. Maybe read Ken Wilber's "a brief history of everything"

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    59. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      You cannot discuss the points in Michaels post, so you resort to attacking Richard Dawkins professionally and personally. Why not have a look at Dawkins work before you mouth off. He is an authority on biology, that is undisputed by his peers, and he has extensive knowledge on religion and theology. Says a lot about your credibility that you choose to ignore these facts, and use innuendo to try and discredit the man.

      I am sure there are many people who find Dawkins ideas frightening, particularly those that have a vested interest in keeping people ignorant about religion.

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    60. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph - now that you hav e been caught out you are simply being disingenuous. You are not "simply asking questions" - you are clearly advocating for some sort of metaphysical explanation when no evidence for one exists.

      Science is about explaining how reality works based on the evidence - not on what we would like it do be or by appeal to something mystical. You do "reject science" if draw conclusions or make claims without evidence as you have done - there is no evidence for a "mystical life force". It doesn't exist.

      To claim otherwise is to believe in magic. And that is to reject science - which is what you are doing.

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    61. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Paul Davis has some interesting theories, but that is all they are, certainly proof of nothing.

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    62. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      @Mark,

      magic.. Life is magic and may as well be the way you expect it to be explained.. "a simple chemical reaction".. hello, how is deluded is that? .. really.. and you pass that off as science?

      and consciousness somehow just sits in the brain! what sort of childish explanation is that.. next you will have me believe that santa clause is real..
      It is you that has some simplistic view of what life force is and the significance of consciousness..

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    63. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael Carroll
      Atoms do not have any reason to carry out a chemical reaction, other than trying to attain a full valence shell.

      So if science is followed literally, we are simply a bunch of atoms attempting to attain a full valence shell.

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    64. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      " if science is followed literally" you are made mostly of highly combustible elements and yet you have spontaneously caught fire lately.

      Fortunately science in relation to humans isn't about reducing things to the simplest possible explanation but about exploring and understanding the rich complexity of interactions that have led to us having conscious thought.

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    65. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph - it would appear your reading skills are on the same level as your understanding of science - which is to say "meagre" at best.

      Nowhere did I mention "a simple chemical reaction". I referred to emergent phenomena - something well documented within the science of complexity (a branch of chaos theory) about which apparently you have no knowledge or understanding.

      you are indeed like Pell - making (false) pronouncements about science and its capabilities based on ignroance.

      There is no "magic" involved in this approach - nor is it simplistic. Actually it is rather complex and wondrous - like a lot of science - which remains, in my view, the best way to understand reality as it is and appreciate it's wonders - rather than resorting to make believe meta=physics of religion.

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    66. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael Carroll
      Ah Ha. So atoms are being somehow manipulated so that some living things can finally have conscious thought.

      Disregarding the mechanics of it all, what compels something to have conscious thought? That is the area that science tends to avoid. Science may be able to say that a living thing is built up from atoms carrying out chemical reactions to produce various products, but science tends to avoid the bigger question of why.

      Too deep and meaningful perhaps, and easier for science to stay with exploring the mechanics only.

      There are some atheists who call religious people believers in “fairy tales”, but science tends to avoid asking the harder questions of “why” do living things operate, and tends to stay with the easier task of investigating “how” living things operate.

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    67. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      *headdesk*

      Dale - I'm seriously not going to bother. I suspect you see the world in a very particular way and are unlikely to be persuaded. So be it.

      You see science as shallow I see it as rich. Sadly your arguments are barely worthy of the appellation.

      If you honestly believe that science does not consider the big questions as well as focus on the minutia then I think you are not reading broadly enough.

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    68. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      @Mark,

      The universe and life is certainly complex and from what I can tell, we are but scratching the surface.. If it makes you feel better to try put me in a box and speculate what i know then hey.. go on .. relax and enjoy..

      I suspect that the chaos theory may describe some of the physical behaviour and tie in nicely with Darwin seemly random model of survival of the fittest.. And does that describe Life and where it came from.. seriously. Even Dawkin's admits he has no answer and…

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    69. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @ Joseph :) I'm very relaxed and happy Joseph - unlike you apparently (I nore you reply by changing the subject but seem unable to acknowledge your error)

      I make no speculation about what you know - I do comment on what you state - which has been shown to be plain wrong.

      It would appear you mistate Darwin as Pell did. There is nothing random about survival of the fittest. Mutation occurs at random to create a population of enetities of varying capabilities and non-random selection occurs…

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    70. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael Carroll
      Yes, well most atoms in the environment have actually reached their desired state, and have formed compounds to fill their valence shell.

      Atoms are quite content with that, but living things aren’t so content, and want to grow and then reproduce. I haven’t actually read too much by scientists why that is so.

      I think they tend to avoid that question.

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    71. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      The notion of atoms being "content" or otherwise is just plain silly - or fanciful anthropromorphism.

      Atoms have no "desired" state - nor the possibility of forming an "intention" to reach one. They will tend to their lowest energy state, all else being equal - and on this planet that usually involves the formation of compounds through a variety of mechanisms mostly involving sharing of electron orbits. That is their "nature"

      But elsewhere it's wrong. In stellar bodies they are bare nuclei and undergo profound changes to become entirely different elements.

      There is NO "avoidance" of serious questions in science - Indeed it progresses by asking the big questions.

      Although I suppose I should acknowledge that science does tend to avoid the idiotic and meaningless questions that Dale seems to be proposing. There not even worthy of make-believe metaphysics

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    72. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Often find it amusing how on one hand science says the law of entropy means everything goes to it's lowest state and that is it.. and yes it is useful for say a steam engine but what about Life?

      When i look at Life forms they are the total opposite forming amazingly complex DNA and life itself? Order, yes atoms, bonds and chemical reactions form proteins and the like rather than fade into dust… well until you die of course..
      So what happens when you die? Magic the whole process starts to reverse? Or is it that a magic ingredient is missing? Could even be a life force

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    73. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      You sir are an idiot who doesnt understand biology, clearly and then argues about your understanding of complex DNA structures.

      Stop the ignorance, please, it hurts baby jesus everytime you lie for god

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    74. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan
      Once an atom has reached a stable state with a full valence shell, (normally by combining with other atoms to form a molecule or compound) it has no need to do anything else. It can remain as part of a molecule for trillions of years.

      Why then do living things take in various molecules by ingestion or breathing them, split up these molecules and make other molecules?

      According to pure science that does not recognise a “life force”, the atoms should remain as they originally were, as that is the highest level of entropy.

      Living things are organising atoms and producing lower entropy, and I don’t think scientists have given many reasons for that.

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    75. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Michael Webb

      There are many areas of science. Every aspect of human endeavour falls under one or more of them. Some neuroscientists are studying what inclines people to have religious beliefs, while evolutionary biologists examine how it might arise from adaptive traits (though not necessarily being adaptive in itself). Epistemology tackles the very basis for belief in supernatural explanations.
      So at best you could complain about scientists whose expertise is not in one of these fields venturing into the debate. Even then, all scientists can (or should) make some claim for comprehending the rationale of science as a means to knowledge. This renders superstitution and theology open to their analysis.

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    76. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Shand

      @Michael

      thank you .. you make me look like a genious in comparison.. grow up and get back to testing.

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    77. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Right now there are scientists attempting to create life from scratch. Many of the steps once deemed impossible have been shown to be quite possible. Should they one day succeed, will you accept that there is no life force; and further, start to consider the possibility that consciousness can arise from sufficiently complex networks? Or will you simply shift your ground?

      (Btw, at what point in evolution do you think consciousness arose?)

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    78. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      @Derek,

      when and if! A living cell can be created in a test tube, then I will certainly concede and re-evaluate my position..

      In the meantime, in the total absence of any other proof.. it is fair to say that we can take apart a cell and break it down into atoms, molecules and chemicals.. but we have not be able to do the reverse.. It is fair to say something is possibly missing from the equation and that could be a "life force" .. no superstition or theology required

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    79. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      “Right now there are scientists attempting to create life from scratch.”

      So are the scientists now playing at God, or what is often referred to as GOD?

      According to the laws of entropy, living things should not exist. The laws of entropy say that atoms seek the least energy and least level of organisation. But living things are actually operating against the laws of entropy by organising atoms into more complex structures.

      The scientists are applying external reasoning and external energy to manipulate atoms to create complex structures and eventually create a living thing. The scientists are also operating against the laws of entropy.

      The big question remains, why do living things want to operate against the laws of entropy?

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    80. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      No, I said "life", not living cell. It's likely to be a big step from the first to the second, given the palaeontological record.

      Meanwhile, a thought experiment. Suppose you were to create an exact copy of a living organism, atom for atom, electron for electron, all placed and moving correctly (insofar as quantum uncertainty allows). Would the copy live? If not, why would its constituents, obeying the same physical laws, behave so differently - i.e. beyond the mere divergence that's expected from a nonlinear system?

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    81. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      A test tube is far too crude a vessel for creating cellular life? In any case an artificial cell has already been created - in 2010 by the J. Craig Venter Institute using An artificial copy of a bacteria genome.

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    82. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Full of gross errors. Nothing has yet lasted for trillions of years. The universe is 3 orders of magniture younger than that.

      If you are ignorant about the self-organising principles assocated with complexity theory and evolutionary biology then I cannot help you. But they explain these things reasonably well (with lots still to learn) without the need to resort to a mystical "life force"

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    83. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph you failure in understanding and need to talk about some sort of "life force" existing independently to explain life simply reveals some basic ignorance about science.

      Life is an emergent phenomena. It emerges from complex processes - it doesn't require a separate thing to exist. In complexity theory and emergence theory there are some interesting studies available showing that even if you know all the parts of a system and how they interact you will not be able to predict how such systems behave. (Google emergent phenomena and complexity). The mathematics is rather complex but the science is reasonably well understood. There is no need to resort to a mystical "life force" to explain being alive.

      Let me give you a more simple example of mergent phenomena that we all experience. Where is "Colour"?

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    84. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      The laws of entropy say no such thing. They say that the entropy of the whole system increases. It's perfectly possible for one part of th system to reduce its entropy at the expense of its surroundings. A domestic refrigerator does that. Any living organism that did not have that trick would go extinct pretty quickly.

      You also misunderstand the relationship between entropy and complexity, but you're far from alone there. Low entropy states are very simple; high entropy states are very complex…

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    85. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Yes, but I didn't want to use that one. I believe only the genome was artificial. Someone desperate to sustain the "life force" view might argue it inherited that from the rest of the cell.

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    86. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael,

      So what happens now with genetic engineering and the use of T cells to reverse aging? does entropy disappear?

      And what about scientists that have kept cell cultures alive indefinitely.. It seems as long as they have the correct nutrients they live on.

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    87. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      Higher entropy is higher levels of disorder.

      http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/therm/entrop.html#e3

      Atoms are satisfied enough when they fill their valence shell, and become chemically stable. After that they have no great desire to break any chemical bonds and reform back into highly complex structures such as a protein.

      The scientists attempting to create living things are forcing atoms to form complex structures, (and probably supplying energy and catalysts to do this) but the atoms are not doing this of their own accord. The atoms actually seek to remain as simple molecules. It has to do with bonding angles, bonded pairs and lone pairs in molecules.

      The more complex the molecule, the greater the forces operating between any +ve and –ve areas of the molecule, so molecules tend to form as simply as possible.

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    88. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      See Derek's reply to Dale on entropy. You clearly have no uncerstanding of the science you quote to try and defend your mystical world view. You are just like Pell on the night of Q&A when heattacked evolutionary theory based on a complete misunderstanding of it. The law of entropy is not at all contradicted or in conflict with the emergence of life as a self organising system.

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    89. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      @Michael

      thank you for the Origins series link with Dawkins and Paul Davis.. Funny That the God question was bounced right out as off topic..

      Dawkins knows His topic but seems inflexible on anything outside of Darwin's principles... In my opinion Dawkins is unnecessarily dismissive of Larmarck's theories which currently are enjoying renewed interest.

      I suspect that the truth is a combination of thoughts rather than one or the other.. to Quote Darwin.

      "In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."

      this maybe viewed as the fittest mind maybe that which is most capable to adapting to the winning theory rather than just a theory. And Humans have demonstrated how the mind can lead to domination of all other species.

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    90. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Show me one scientist that has kept a a cell culture alive indefinitely ;-).

      Seriously, though, I'm not sure why Michael brought telomeres into the discussion. Here's a guess:

      Cells are subject to random damage; some damage can trigger cancers; cancers are cell colonies that replicate too much; the telomere mechanism puts a limit on replications; it improves the chances of surviving a moderate number of years at the expense of the chances of surviving a far greater number; other natural hazards make very long survival unlikely anyway, so the downside is not that great; the upside is surviving long enough to produce viable offspring; cancers remain a problem because some overcome the telomere mechanism, but a great many more die without ever being noticed.

      So telomeres are one of the ways life fends off the depradations of entropy, and there's no magic involved - just a rather neat mechanism.

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    91. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Yes, high entropy is high disorder, but that also means more complex.
      Imagine trying to specify the location of every molecule in an egg. Pretty complex, but you could gain some data compression from the ordered arrangement into shell, membrane, white, etc. Now put it through the blender and try again. Much more complex, but less organised.
      But don't just read me - read Gell-Mann.

      Each atom will head for the lowest energy in the circumstances in which it finds itself. The circumstances can…

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    92. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Can't let that go about Lamarck.

      It is popularly believed that Lamarck said an organism can pass on adaptive characteristics that it acquired in its lifetime. I don't think there's any solid evidence he said that. Certainly Steven Jay Gould read him differently.

      The main neo-Darwinian objection to such an idea is that it suggests the organism has a way to modify the triplet sequence in a goal-directed manner. That would be the implication if the acquired characteristics were to be passed…

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    93. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      "a molecule and its atoms would find their one happiest place in the world and stay there forever"

      That is exactly correct. Complex molecules such as proteins have many tensions and forces operating within them, and such complex molecules will try to split apart to relieve those tensions and forces. That is why proteins in cells have to be renewed so often, because the proteins decompose or split apart so quickly.

      So living things are operating against significant forces that want them dead, and then to dissociate into many simple molecules only, with a minimal number of complex molecules being formed.

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    94. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      You miss the point. He may have kept a cell culture alive for years, but he hasn't yet kept it alive indefinitely. Anyway, I was just being flippant there. The rest of what I said is the serious part.

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    95. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      I don't see how that rebuts what I wrote in the least.
      My point was that even totally inorganic processes produce change, which would not happen according to your argument.

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    96. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      Because there are many atoms in our universe it still doesn’t mean much, as atoms will attempt to form the simplest molecules they can form.

      Meanwhile, living things attempt to transform simple molecules into highly organised and structured molecules such as proteins, which can then be used to form cells, which can then be used to form tissue and organs etc.

      Why living things want to operate against entropy and form highly structured molecules is not talked about much by scientists, because there is no scientific answer. It is too spiritual or philosophical for many scientists to get involved in.

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    97. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael,
      so how many of the cells in your body at this moment have been with you since birth? yet you have maintained some degree of continuity throughout this period.. so where is your identity exactly and how do you explain the renewal process.. each of which re-establishes order of a living cell and the host (life form) and consciousness .. you must admit pretty amazing and we are only just guessing albeit educated guesses.

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    98. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      My argument about inorganic processes doesn't mean much? It illustrates my point that what constitutes the low energy state depends on context. Organic processes operate by providing the contexts that sustain them. At that level, there's no distinction between an organism maintaining its own context and a human creating one.

      You don't see the forest for the trees. Each atom is doing its own thing, obeying the laws of physics. They form complex molecules because the other atoms around them…

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    99. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      The theory of accidental formation of complex molecules doesn’t match VSEPR theory.

      http://winter.group.shef.ac.uk/vsepr/

      Highly complex molecules such as proteins are unstable. There are so many forces of attraction and repulsion operating within the molecules, they tend to break apart very quickly, (similar to an alloy that has incorrect amounts of metals mixed together).

      If a molecular network is only held together by hydrogen bonds or dipole-dipole forces, that network is also easily dissipated by other forces or by heat.

      So with agitation or higher heat energy, simple but strong molecules are more likely to form, and they will last much longer than other molecules.

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    100. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,
      If simple molecules such as H2 could last trillions of years, they would. Whereas highly complex molecular structures such as proteins will break apart quite rapidly.

      And in fact, it requires a number of highly specific enzymes and very specific conditions to make proteins in the first place.

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    101. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "proteins are unstable. There are so many forces of attraction and repulsion operating within the molecules, they tend to break apart very quickly"

      Wool, leather and hair, stored suitably, last millennia. As do insects in amber. Proteins are not particularly unstable. Rather, the environment is seething with organisms ready and able to exploit their little bit of stored chemical energy.

      I've said nothing about complex molecules forming accidentally. First, you'd have to clarify what you mean by an accident.

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    102. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph, I cannot provide a precise count, but the remaining Neurons in my brain (other than those in the hippocampus) have been with me since birth? Roughly 80-120 billion by most estimates.

      Unsurprising therefore that I am the same person...

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    103. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton,
      “stored suitably”, which means no exposure to heat, or exposure to substances that may create oxidation, reduction or general decomposition.

      There is the theory that if many atoms are jumbled together and heat energy applied, it is likely to produce a molecule such as an amino acid that can be used to produce a protein. The opposite is the case.

      The more agitation and more energy applied, the more likely simpler but stronger molecules are likely to form.

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    104. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Amino acids have indeed been produced from simple inorganic compounds merely by application of heat and electrical discharge. But that's an awfully long way from building a protein. Whose theory claims that?
      Of course, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that more complex arrangements would arise fleetingly in immeasurably small quantities.

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    105. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "“stored suitably”, which means no exposure to heat, or exposure to substances that may create oxidation, reduction or general decomposition."

      Actually it means "reduced" exposure to these things.

      In any case - what is your point? Life uses simple molecules to create complex ones - doesn't make it mystical, just wonderful.

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    106. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      @ Michael..

      some of the stats are, althought these do apply to living beings so may not apply.

      "The cells in our bodies are constantly dividing, regenerating, and dying, but each cell’s life cycle is different.
      The cells lining the stomach, because they’re exposed to acid, replace themselves about every five days.
      Cells in the epidermis last about a week.
      Red blood cells live for approximately four months in the body,
      while hepatocytes (liver cells) live about five. These hardworking but disposable cells take a lot of punishment; they’re easily manufactured and easily replaced.

      On the other end of the spectrum, some cells take much longer than seven years to regenerate. A bone completely remodels itself and replaces all of its cells every ten years or so. Cells in the intestinal tract (other than the lining of the stomach) last for about fifteen years, the same as certain muscles, such as the intercostals between the ribs"

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    107. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton
      Some very basic amino acids were possibly produced, (and possibly weren’t also) but such amino acids are likely to quickly disintegrate.

      The theory of accidental formation of complex molecules has many holes, and operates against other theories such as VSEPR theory.

      A protein is a highly complex structure, that has to be formed in a highly specific way under the most optimum conditions, otherwise the protein becomes non-functional. The possibility of accidentally forming a useful and functional protein is 0.

      It is similar to putting all the components of a TV set in a box and shaking the box in the hope the components will fit together and form a TV set. More likely, the shaking will just break the components, and the probability of forming a functional TV set is 0.

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    108. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph - I'm not sure I see where you are going with that. Yes, most of our cells are replaced at varying intervals over our lives, the DNA within each cell provides the instructions during cell division as to the function of the new cell. The exception for this are our neurons which are with us from birth. These do not regenerate over time - which makes damage to the brain so difficult to recover from since treatment must teach your brain new pathways that route around damaged areas - when this…

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    109. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      I shall take your complete shift of argument to indicate that you now accede to my earlier points.

      There's no basis for claiming the TV set analogy fairly represents the case for the simpler proteins in terms of complexity, timescale, range of environments, opportunity...
      But I'm no more an expert in molecular biology than you are, so I'm not getting into that argument.
      If you're going to claim sufficient expertise to go down that path then point me at a peer-reviewed paper.

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    110. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Derek Bolton,
      Peer review means little to me, as peer group pressure to conform to the status quo is much more powerful.

      But you may note that there are groups in NASA now carrying out research on the possibility of tera-formation of various planets and moons. That technology is still in its infancy, but given a few more hundred years and we may have that technology. There is also the possibility that life on this planet was initially seeded by some other life form, and the concept that life on this planet started from an amino acid formed during a thunder storm is not very likely at all. That is in the area of scientific fairy tales and make believe.

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    111. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      @Dale, “Peer review means little to me…". So it would seem. Do you understand the process? The reviewers aren't known to the author. They are specifically tasked to find faults in the paper. If you think there is pressure to conform, you're mistaken. If what you say was true, there would be no advance in any science. Remember the cold fusion debacle? It was peer that exposed that fraud.

      “The concept that life on this planet started from an amino acid formed during a thunderstorm…". Can you provide a source for this claim? Proponents of abiogenesis don't rely on such simplistic notions.

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    112. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      BlaireDonaldson,
      Abiogenesis is another term for developing a theory that is never proven. There are now dozens of theories within abiogenesis, because each time a theory is proposed and tested, it doesn’t work. So they have to develop another theory.

      They hit a brick wall every time, because they can’t reduce a cell down to something that could accidentally form, but still grow in size and then reproduce.

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  2. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    Pell clearly made a goose of himself with a number of his pronouncements, not only on natural selection but also on matters of race and metaphysics. Pell's relatively guarded words still gave a small inkling of the man's inner thinking - and it was scary.

    Interestingly, Dawkins didn't get away unscathed!

    When he attempted to explain how something can come from nothing he resorted to using the opposite analogy of annihalation of matter with anti-matter to create nothing. But this is plain wrong as such an annihaltion produces energy, which is a detectable something! Pell, quite rightly, gave him some discomfort over this.

    What depressed me most about this Q&A was the vapid nature of most of the audience questioning. Also, Dawkins did not challenge the validity of the notion of metaphysical reasoning as an alternative to evidence based reasoning. Pell retreated into this corner of the intelectual boxing ring on several occasions!

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  3. Michael Brown

    Professional & academic

    Goerge Pell and the rest of the local clergy are pretty harmless, and in practical terms they do a lot of good. I think Richard Dawkins' main motivation is concern about the creationists in the US, who want to subvert science teaching in schools there. These people are dangerous and need to be stopped, so Dawkins needs all the encouragement he can get.

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    1. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Brown

      George Pell and local clergy harmless? They promote institutional bigotry, cover-up paedophilia, demand exemptions afforded to no other group in the community and influence our weak politicians to the point that church and state are no longer separate.

      Simply because some members of churches do good is no reason to excuse the arrogance, ignorance and atrocious behaviour of other church members. There are plenty of secular organisations who do at least as much good but without the obligatory proselytising.

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    2. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair,
      your point is a gross exaggeration that is a bloody minded attitude that is an insult to all the good work done by the thousands of clergy everyday.. How about you take your bigotry finger and point back at yourself.

      Paedophilia has shown up everywhere and is a problems not limited to one institution. And the cases uncovered date back over the last 40 years and are certainly not the majority of Paedophile cases that have been uncovered over the years, which include our social services, docs and foster care.

      I very much doubt that you or the government services are there to take over the work that are currently carried out by the catholic church and other Christian organizations..

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    3. Laszlo O'Vari

      logged in via email @fixia.net

      In reply to Michael Brown

      That is the gravest mistake that a non-religious person can make.

      The words 'harmless' and 'clergy' or 'religion' should never appear in the same sentence.

      Organised religion is the largest, most effective and most dangerous propaganda machinery ever invented. When stripped from power, it always uses its cute, touchy-feely, do-good disguise - which makes it all the more dangerous. But make not mistakes; behind the facade it is always the same power hungry, cruel, militant organisation that…

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    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, I'd be surprised if you didn't try to defend the indefensible but nevertheless, the facts still hold, in the Christian world, the Catholic Church has presided over institutionalised abuse and instead making itself open to account, has fought accountability every step of the way. Your simple, self-imposed denial does you a disservice.

      Just because paedophilia [among other crimes] has occurred outside the Catholic Church in no way minimises the damage your church has done - you have entirely missed the point. Look at Ireland, Africa, the Philippines, the US, UK and even here in Australia. That you defend the church against its atrocities without even acknowledging the harm it has done, says a lot about your indoctrination.

      Partial list of secular charities:
      http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Secular_charities

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    5. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Laszlo O'Vari

      Sorry but ignorance is our greatest challenge and generalisations play right into that hand.
      religious organisations and political powers are very similar in that they wish to benefit from people power and both have used whatever means they have available to achieve their end goal. How many times do we see this played out.. However, has always been a mixed blessing, Sometimes for the better and other times well.. no so good and everything in between.

      BUT.. To tarnish the vision of Jesus or Buddha…

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    6. David Semmens

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph,

      The real problem is not that pedophilia occurs in the church. As you point out it happens in a number of institutions. The problem is that the church has actively worked to hide the crimes. And it's happened multiple times in multiple countries.

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    7. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      of course the catholic church is guilty of every crime and injustice on the planet! that make you feel better and now i am inline with your simple self-imposed indoctrinated crusade.. hooray.. now everything is better..
      and what else have the romans done for us.. absolutely nothing?
      Maybe the catholic church is also responsible for:
      Decades of failing to protect against child abuse as witnessed in http://www.vfpms.org.au/staging/documents/Impactofexposuretodomesticviolence.pdf

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    8. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to David Semmens

      @David

      Yes I agree.. the cover up has been a problem and this exposure has been very important..

      My issue is that these cases be kept in context and that the actions of a few does not totally wipe out all the excellent work that has been done by the many and is being done everyday as we speak..

      there are over 500,000 clergy in the world and how many exactly have been "guilty"? .. 100? 1000? how many? and how many years ago do we go back? to the romans maybe! what percentage is 1000/500000 over the number of years discussed... 0.2% of clergy.. and what about the Rest that have dedicated their lives to helping others?

      Always very suspicious of one sided arguments

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    9. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, I can understand your defensiveness seeing both George Pell and the Catholic Church haven't exactly covered themselves with glory in recent decades in this country or elsewhere. But was your churlishness necessary?

      Certainly the Catholic Church is responsible for child abuse given its opposition to effective AIDS prevention in Africa and the Philippines, (2 notable horrors among the many).

      Could you explain the difference between families sending boys into the Catholic Church where…

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    10. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      first of all i am not here to defend Pell or nor am I going to try convict Him.. That is a matter for the courts.

      as for your crusade against the catholic church, you seem over zealious and not shy of over stating some rumours as facts..

      Your opinion is just that and isolated examples are just that..

      I agree about the issue of HIV that the position of the church on condoms is stupid, but then again if people really took heed of the church there would not be sex outside of…

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    11. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      “ but then again if people really took heed of the church there would not be sex outside of marriage,"

      Perfectly illustrating how out of touch with reality church doctrine really is. It always seems to forget that “free will" stuff. I'm not sure how people can have free will yet live like automatons obeying a program, you can't have it both ways.

      My comments may be construed as overzealous but if there weren't zealots trying to defend the indefensible and imposing their zealous ideas into my life, I wouldn't need to comment. As for overstating rumours as fact, got any evidence? As best I can tell, everything I have stated is based in fact but I'm happy to be corrected.

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    12. Anthony Nolan

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph Bernard - notwithstanding that history has, as you say, shown respect for the Buddha it is nevertheless unseemly to associate him with this debate because he was avowedly an atheist.

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    13. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson
    14. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I have no problem with people criticising the Catholic Church. However I find it odd that their outrage tends to be rather limited. I note madrassas and the training of young suicide bombers is not considered a problem worthy of note, nor the use of suicide bombers by one Islamic sect to kill those of another at mosques, funerals and religious processions.
      As for slavery, it is curious that Mauritania - the Islamic Republic of Mauritania - fails to be mentioned.
      I am often puzzled as to whether people's choice of facts is due to ignorance or self-consorship.

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    15. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip,

      I agree totally, everything should be open to discussion, but lets keep things in some sense of balance and relevance. The example of slavery is a perfect example of a subject which I personally find repulsive and abhorrent.. Here is an example where a religion justifies slavery, and a long list of other violent acts, but hardly raises a single objection.. and yes wonder why?
      Why do people ignore the current practice of slavery as justified in Sharia Law? Has anyone noticed…

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    16. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Laszlo O'Vari

      We can already see America going down the road of allowing religions and the religious too much power. The Republican "War Against Women" , being a case in point.

      No religion is harmless, they are all dangerous, and all should play no part in government.

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    17. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      “Personal prejudices often lead to selective attention and selective amnesia."

      Agreed, I doubt anyone exists who doesn't have a prejudice about something. But that's a side issue in relation to the topic under discussion.

      It isn't prejudice or selective amnesia that has resulted in a (once) secret police report linking at least 40 suicides with a particular catholic school which has in turn led to calls for an enquiry into the church's lack of action and deliberate cover-up. Apologists for the Catholic Church keep ignoring this fact, I wonder why?

      Research reveals a lot of things but in this particular case, it wasn't stepfathers, de factos or family members who were responsible for the abuse, it was church figures moonlighting as authority figures and promoters of moral behaviour.

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    18. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip, again you're being disingenuous. There is plenty of outrage against the inhumane activities of other faiths but as I keep pointing out, they are not the subject of this discussion. There's nothing stopping you from writing an article in The Conversation on those very matters, I'm sure you'd be inundated with comments agreeing with you and condemning exactly the issues you raise.

      “I am often puzzled as to whether people's choice of facts is due to ignorance or self-consorship."

      Couldn't have said it better myself. Unfortunately you're not applying that question to your own commentary.

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    19. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      If the police believe that a crime was committed, or that someone was an accessory before or after the fact, the fact that the person was or is associated with the Catholic Church does not make them immune from state laws.
      The attribution of individual acts to an organization is something that you feel is necessary for the Catholic Church but not for the Labor Party nor for a rugby league.
      Does this behaviour have an explanation other than the bigotry one would expect from a militant atheist?

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    20. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      The Q & A program discussed in the article above featured Pell and Dawkins so naturally the main discussion will revolve around the catholic version of the Christian faith rather than other 'brands' or religions, so yeah, in this conversation lets crucify Christianity. Other religions can have their own articles written about them where they to can be dismantled.

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    21. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      For a long time the Church believed that they were in fact immune from the law of the state the 'Privilegium clericale' of English Law is a good example. While the church may now acknowledge the individual's legal culpability for crimes, their behaviors in many jurisdictions to move clergy who they have recognized as offenders, or to shield them from the attention of civil courts appears to demonstrate that some elements within the church continue to adhere to a belief that they are beyond the law of the state. These are the circumstance that in Ireland led the the payment by the Catholic Church of 128 million Euros to victims - accompanied by a gag order and an agreement that the identity of the abusers was also to be kept a secret.

      That sure seems like an immunity from the consequences of offending at an individual level.

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    22. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip, as I already pointed out, the behaviour of the Labour Party or the rugby league isn't under discussion here and there is nothing stopping you from writing an opinion piece and presenting it in The Conversation, knock yourself out. You need to familiarise yourself with the basic requirements of forum discussions and the primary need to stay on topic.

      I'm not sure if you're a little slow to catch on or being deliberately obtuse but to clarify, I don't care what the organisation is, if it or one of its representatives commit acts which are against the law, they should be held accountable. Your feeble effort to play the persecution card instead of addressing the issue highlights your prejudice.

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    23. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Joseph's defence of his church is understandable but it does highlight that many people like him just don't get it. The arguments he puts forward are specious at best:
      - "worse things happen in other churches" (maybe but we are talking about the systematic cover-up of child rape in the Catholic church, we can move onto other horrific churches in another debate).
      - "the % of Roman Catholic priests who are child rapists is small" (the number is actually unknown and the real point is that (a) one…

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    24. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian
      please.. spare me the pious, holier than thou rhetoric..
      This discussion is on whether God exists, but somehow the whole catholic church and Christian faith is on trial.. Pell has his Character assassinated and some hysterical claims are being made and what? You want to be justified and believe everything that is spewing off your keyboard is justified.. just grow up

      Your earlier hysteria regarding the jewish bigotry is probably why you are having to assassinate Pell.. and I am sure your will totally justify the antics of Israel in it’s unspeakable treatment of the people of Palestine for the last 70 years? Oh that is of course different..

      Please lets stick to the topic and leave your own bigotry where it belongs..

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    25. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, did you even watch the Q&A programme? It covered far more than just whether or not a god exists.

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    26. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair

      yes your point?

      was the purpose of the programe to discuss climate change for which neither are qualified?

      or was it to discuss the concept of God?

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    27. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Joseph, if you really did watch the programme you would know a variety of topics were covered. You only need to look at the transcript to see the subject matter wasn't a single issue discussion. The concept of a god was just one of many things discussed.

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    28. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      There is plenty of outrage against the inhumane activities of other faiths
      Evidence?
      Just asking.

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    29. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Michael,
      I am impressed with your knowledge of English Law.
      But is a Catholic allowed to become a King or Queen of England or to marry one?
      Is a Muslim or Buddhist allowed to marry a King or Queen of England?
      Was the shielding of Catholic priests from secular authority a practice that commenced under the rule of Cromwell? Or haven't you read that far back?
      Just asking?

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    30. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, Your claim of irrelevancy is well made.
      However your previous posts have failed to address the primary issue. The primary issue is whether science is sufficient and necessary to explain humanity and its experience, or have higher level religions been necessary for the development of a modern civilization.

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    31. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph - with respect. You seek to achieve some sort of moral "balance" when there isn't one.

      Yes, many in the church (and other faiths) do good. But the church as an institution seeks and claims a moral authority it does not have (since it rests on a specious claim of the existence of a deity without evidence) and which it has totally obliterated by its culpability in child abuse, it's mysogyny, it's anti-gay hatred and it's active promotion of views that result in the uncontrolled spread of HIV/AIDS in the third world.

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    32. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Abuses by other religions are mentioned, on many medium, on a regular basis, including, but not limited to, child abuse, forced marriages, honour killings, female genital mutilation, discrimination and murder of gay people, and other horrors.

      This article happens to be about Dawkins and Pell, (a catholic), so it stands to reason that the abuses of the catholic church would be discussed.

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    33. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      With Respect Mark,

      I find much more wisdom in the words of Jesus than in your profound advice..

      Very easy to sit on your hands and complain about everything and everyone.. Very easy to be a expert on everything and i Love your charter of morals.. bag everyone and find faults in everything...

      with respect it is a very flat lander type thinking.. and just because you do not see or understand does not mean that Jesus is any less relevant today.. What you describe is a world without Love and that is a harsh cruel existence.. you may not believe this But humans can make a choice to live to a standard, a higher ideal.. Jesus offers a wonderful model..

      in the meantime, Keep complaining of the short comings.. great.. but that does not mean we can not learn and achieve more.. infact we have been.. I am sure you have more complaints but not sure what you yourself do to make this a better world

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    34. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph - you may well find comfort in the words of Jesus (as they are reported based on the Council of Nicea concensus). Indeed, as I have posted elsewhere, he may well have been the greates moral philospher in history.

      But there is no evidence for his being divine.

      As you have done many times on this thread you misrepresent those who have a different view to you. I have not "sat on my hands and complained about everyone".

      I HAVE pointed out that any moral authority the church may have is highly dubious and it is a matter of fact that as an istiution they have perpetrated all the ills and hatred to which I referred. Something I doubt Jesus would have encouraged or done

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    35. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Three red herrings in one post!

      Is short, and because I like to pickle a good herring from time to time:

      No.

      Yes.

      No. Pre-Cromwell law.I doubt that the Lord Protector would have had any interest in shielding clergy from a church he hated and feared.

      Herrings now warmed over, why do you consider those questions relevant to the point I raised? My use of English Law was purely as an example. Other countries where the Catholic Church held sway have similar examples that have lasted for…

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    36. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph, I called you out on your attempts to dissemble and you get upset. So be it but that doesn't change the fact that you haven't addressed the key issue - the institutionalised support for rapist priests by the RC church.

      As to the Jewish comments - I didn't make the anti-Semitic comments. Your Archbishop did. He has been widely criticised for these comments, especially in the Melbourne Jewish community. There is a strong feeling that he let the veil slip... 'inferior people"...'the Germans suffered more'.

      Your own anti-Semitic comments don't warrant a response. But maybe have a read of John Cornwell's book "Hitler's Pope" and maybe you will see things a little differently.

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    37. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      He clearly didnt watch the program.

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    38. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip, strange that you can use your browser to nitpick valid criticisms of Pell's demonstrable ignorance but you're incapable of doing a basic Google search of the abundant evidence you ask for, as though you were really interested.

      Here are some examples, the first of which is a charity I support:
      http://www.steppingstonesnigeria.org/
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_Children_in_Africa
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/25/middle-east-child-abuse-pederasty
      http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/article2915528.ece

      One thing you can guarantee about all religions, they are all equal opportunity abusers.

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    39. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Philip, I have already acknowledged that some people require a belief in something supernatural to feel happy and I suspect scientific explanations will never satisfy them. So be it. I prefer harsh reality to comforting fairytales. If people want to pretend ancient mythologies accurately describe the origins and features of the Cosmos, that's their choice. I'll stick with science but where it can't answer questions to my satisfaction, I'll remain content in the knowledge that people who value enquiry are still searching.

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    40. Donncha Redmond

      Software Developer

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      "The actions of a few"???

      The problem with your argument is that "the few" include the highest hierarchies of the church, who not only covered up the abuse, but moved abusing priests on to other dioceses where they were free to abuse again and actively hampered police investigations until they had no choice but to cooperate.

      For an organisation which sets itself up as the ultimate guide on how to live a moral and ethical life in the image of God, permitting and covering up child abuse is a SERIOUS failing and one that tarnishes every other thing they do.

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    41. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      @Mark,

      you are the person who is concerned with the 'divine" label, which by the way does not appear in any of my postings.. But I will say that His teachings are certain divine in the sense that make for a better world especially when compared to the advice that seems to be spew out of this discussion.

      As for the church or any other individual, i suspect, they are all challenged to be living a life that is far more Loving than is "normal" in this world.. Hence, the term we are all sinners is a common admission by Christian because we know it is a very challenging to be “Loving” all the time...

      What seems to be missing is a mindset of a champion.. A mindset that seeks to attain greater heights, rather than frantic race to the bottom.
      I think quote applies: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
      - Michelangelo

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    42. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Actually you are feigning moral indigamtion and outrage mate because if you were really and truly concerned about child rape we would be hearing your online concern for child rape in non-church i.e. government orphanages by public servants over many long years; and the fact that State government do not pay compensation to victims.

      At least with the Church, they do pay compensation etc.

      So let;s not feign outrage which is often just barely disguised hatred towards religion for personal angst reasons.

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    43. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Judith Olney

      @Judith,

      sorry but Pell is but a messenger, a representative of the Church and is no more the catholic church than Gillard is every Australian..

      Should we accept that every Australian was in favour of the Iraqi war simply because John Howard put us there? And that every Australian is a blood thirsty bigot because of how the Aboriginals have been treated?

      your logic is flawed and generalizations are just that

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    44. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian

      i am just looking at your responses and providing some possible reason for your Hysterical responses.. I use the word Hysterical because they are certainly an over reaction to what was said on the day, which seems to have touched on some personal insecurity or your own Bigotry.

      As for anti Semitic.. My partner's father has suffered the most bigotry from his own Jewish relatives as he is a "Dirty" Jew (half jew on His father's side)..
      The anti semitic card has been over played and very tiresome.. lets stick to the words infront of us without having to dredge back into the past for some irrelevant cases that have nothing to do with today

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    45. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair

      the truth and facts according to "Blair"? And what, your collation, interpretation, understanding of every minute details is a perfectly presented ‘Fact’?
      what makes you think that everything you say is totally based on facts.. The mere fact you make this claim is an indication of narcissism, because the world we live in is infinitely more complex than the black and white picture you attempt to paint.

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    46. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Pell is a catholic, ask him, he'll tell you the same thing. He speaks on behalf of the catholic church, and is responsible for covering up the abuses of the catholic church. He is absolutely responsible for his part in the abuse of children within his organisation.

      A person is an Australian by accident of birth, we didn't choose to be Australian unless we immigrated here. If you are a liberal party member, and helped put John Howard in power, then yes, you are responsible, at least in part, for Australia going to war with Iraq. If you treat Indigenous people badly, and vote for political parties that also treat Indigenous people badly, or turn a blind eye to others treating Indigenous people badly, then you are supporting racism, and are a bigot.

      George Pell supports the catholic church's inaction on child abuse, and he also is involved in the cover up of the crimes of priests, he is the one with blood on his hands, directly.

      Your analogies are silly, and badly thought out,

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    47. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      Do you really think that financial compensation is going to make up for a child being raped by a priest?

      The government is actively trying to address the wrongs done in past, in its institutions, the apology to the forgotten people, child migrants, and the stolen generation, have come about because the people of this country want those crimes acknowledged. Many of the perpetrators may be dead, so are beyond prosecution, but the crime is still acknowledged, not covered up.

      Contrast this with…

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    48. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, you can't see the fire because of all the smoke from your straw men going up in flames.

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    49. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Joseph,
      More of your straw men. As has already been pointed out, you have a tendency to misrepresent what others have said. If you cannot discuss matters in an adult fashion you should go to some other fora more in keeping with your persecution complex.

      Where I can I have provided evidence to support my comments. You resort to exaggeration and misrepresentation.

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    50. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Webb

      @Michael,

      Oh how wonderfully charitable. Your beloved church destroys countless lives and is forced kicking and screaming to make recompense for a few while doing its best to hide other horrors committed by its senior members. I'm glad my conscience isn't so plastic.

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    51. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Judith Olney

      @Judith,

      Child rape is not limited to priest, what with Boy Scouts, Judges, sex tours to Thialand, Social workers, Family members BLAH BLAH BLAH

      Cover ups everywhere.. BLAH BLAH BLAH..

      Some people are scared for life.. other like a gay friend of mine said that in hindsight he acualty enjoyed it! THIS IS NOT a justification, but one man's reality..

      The point is some people get over it others fall appart.. There are thousands of males that fall appart that have never been abiused sexually.. who are you going to blame there?

      There are people that inspire and those that follow the rabbit hole of despair all the way and drag everyone they can down with them.. There are bad priests, and many more good priests, boy scout masters, judges, etc..

      is this really about your own pain? projected onto others?

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    52. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Philip, okay, just for chuckles, let's pretend your god really exists.

      Tell me how he/she/it was created? Explain how it knew to apply certain properties to electrons, protons and neutrons that eventually led to planets, galaxies, proteins and us among countless other things? What colour is god? What does it eat for breakfast? Does it occasionally suffer from the flu? Is it left or right handed? Does it ever forget anything? Why does it condone genocide when it suits? Why is it necessary to stone…

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    53. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Judith Olney

      @Judith,

      make excuses you are an australian by choice.. you can leave an live in another country! Australian White Australian Policy, Stolen Generation, genocide of the Indegenious .. It was Australians that did this and you call yourself australian and now you are making excuses .. of course you are just as guilty ..

      stupid arguments about blame and tragedy are just a race to the bottom.. If you have a legal claim make it otherwise you are just raking up crap that solves nothing.

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    54. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      I thought you did not believe in imaginary concepts? yet you seem to be very good at making up Facts and stories on the fly..

      Wonder if you believe your own stories too?

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    55. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph - I'm astounded that you don;t get it (then again - maybe I'm not - I've noticed people who can defend the existence of a sky fairy are guilty of wondrous excursions in illusory logic).

      There are, indeed, many idividuals in many places who have done bad things.

      But here we are talking about the role of the institution - namely the Catholic Church - represented by Pell and for whom he is the chief spokesman in Australia - being complicit in aiding and abetting terrible evil being perpetrated…

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    56. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, you're really not very good at this game are you? I can imagine pink unicorns, life on other planets, UFOs on the other side of the Moon. Hell, with a stretch I can even imagine you might not always verbal people and actually be honest with them from time to time but that's a very big difference from believing it's really true.

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    57. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      PS, if you can point out where I've made up facts, please enlighten me. I'm not above being corrected. Time to put up or shut up Joseph.

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    58. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Judith,
      I am so glad that you mentioned female genital mutilation as a matter of concern.
      IMHO, society is so busy apologising for, investigating, compensating and condemning the actions of earlier generations that they forget to ask the most obvious question.
      What will the next generation condemn this generation for?
      I suggest that it will take a photogenic young African girl born in Australia to take to the world stage and to condemn you Judith and all the other women in Australia who were…

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    59. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      What are you on about? Are you suggesting that because some people manage to "get over it", that it is ok to cover up these crimes?

      The rest of your post suggests that you are trying to justify the cover up by the catholic church, for the abuses done by its members. Your lack of empathy for the victims of these crimes is repulsive, and to try and justify the cover up, and deny the victims justice, abuses them twice.

      As for your last sentence, my personal life is none of your business.

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    60. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      You are becoming incoherent, I had no choice as to where I was born, and because I was born here in Australia, even if I moved to another country, I would still be Australian.

      How does not supporting, (or even being alive at the time of the events you posted), make me guilty of committing these offences, simply by being born in this country? Your logic is very familiar, being the logic of the religious that says that every person is guilty of original sin, because of what some fictional first humans did.

      Although I did not commit any of the crimes against Indigenous Australians, I acknowledge that those crimes were committed, and that they have a right to an apology, and recognition of their suffering. I will also do what I can to see that those crimes are not allowed to occur again. This is what saying sorry is all about.

      As for the catholic church, and those that support it, they are absolutely responsible for what they allow to happen, and actively cover up.

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    61. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      @Mark,

      I understand, agree and support your objection to the abuse, breach of trust by the clergy involved and in approriate response by the institution since.

      but if a swimming coach shuts abuses / molests their students do we shut down all swimming schools and abandon swimming? or is one hand has cancer do we kill off the whole body? I believe not.

      The tradition of the church is to share and promote the teachings of Jesus.. "Better tie a millstone arround your neck and throw yourself…

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    62. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair,
      I would suggest that the evidence supports the view that rather paedophilia rather than being a peculiarity of religion is a common human minority trait.
      I note that these references are to overseas websites, which supports my argument.
      I note your concern for the Nigerian Delta children. It is to be commended. However your charity is what i call retail. I prefer Mo ibrahim's approach which is rather more wholesale in approach.
      Nigeria is a major oil producer after all.

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    63. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph this analogy is specious and stupid. Swimming coaches are NOT an instituion complict in cover up of child sex abuse or indulging in routine homophobia and mysogyny and claiming a moral high ground that gives them the right to dictate to others. They don't oppose abortion or the use of condoms to prevent HIV. They just teach swmming. The fact that a few individuals are guilty of crimes is reflective of broader society.

      nN matter how you twist to try and avoid it the instiution of the Catholic Church, as represented by Pell in Australia, indeed does many good works - but it is guility of terrible offences for which it refuses to take accountability whilst at the same time preaching beiief in a sky fairy ansd telling its followers (and indeed everyone else) how they should live their lives.

      I have enormous respect for many who have faith and many who do good works within that faith.

      I have none for the institution of the Church itself.

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    64. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I'd like to know why bees, fleas, trees, well anything other than humans, don't get an afterlife. This little song explains why, and also answers all those other sticky questions, particularly the one about who or what created god.

      Thank you Ronnie Willians (2008) for this song.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9bMi4s_yOE

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    65. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Judith,
      In case you missed my earlier comment, you are responsible for similar convictions in Australia surely. Just asking?
      But then again many primary school teachers would know of cases of FGM but fail to report them despite the law requiring them to do so. The majority of primary school teachers are FEMALE.
      Does that make you feel proud?
      http://www.desertflowerfoundation.org/en/fgm-conviction/
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_Adem
      http://www.monaeltahawy.com/blog/?p=224

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    66. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Judith,
      These are interesting claims . Surely if you know of any these cases, you have informed the police. Or are they dinner table assertions.
      FGM on the other hand is a subject you seem to think is not so bad. Even when it is performed by licensed doctors in Australia.
      Correct me if I am wrong.

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    67. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Phillip this is both insulting and idiotic.

      Your use (continually) of the phrase "Just asking" is a classic form of passive aggressive accusation - you are now by implication accusing Judith in some way of supporting FGM - which is ridiculous and offensive. Nowhere has Judith made any such comments. Indeed from what I can read she has been nothing but forthright, on topic and logical.

      All she, and others, have done - is point to the EVIDENCE in relation to the continued abuses pepetrated…

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    68. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      I have informed the police of the information I personally have, thank you for your concern. I'm not sure what you are asking in regards to dinner table assertions, perhaps you are just being nasty.

      Where have I suggested that FGM is not so bad? I am correcting you, and you are wrong.

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    69. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      What are you talking about, I am not a primary school teacher, and have no associations with primary school teachers, so have no idea whether they know of cases of FGM and don't report them.

      I do not support FGM and belong to no organisation or religion that supports FGM, so no I am not guilty of anything.

      You obviously have me confused with someone else.

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    70. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      What utter nonsense, I do not support FGM or any organisation or religion that supports FGM or engages in this barbaric practice. I am actively against FGM.

      How is this the same as people who are members of a religion, and active supporters of that religion, who participate in the cover up of crimes committed by other members of that religion?

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    71. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Judith,
      I must congratulate you for informing the police.
      I am not trying to judge you. Whatever the status of an offender, we should be all be equal before the law.
      As FGM, I am pleased that unlike most female politicians you are not prepared to normalise it as an acceptable practice in Australia. I apologize.

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    72. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Abuse issues were not the subject under discussion on Q & A. That was not the topic.

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    73. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair, I am totally non-plussed with your response. For it is you who think it perfectly OK to attack the Catholic Faith which I take ownership for. It is you who have been uncharitable.
      Amazing how bigotry rears its ugly head against Catholics especially on Q & A when you get off topic.

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    74. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I will tell Socrates that he was wrong next time I bump into him, because Dr Mark Harrigan said so.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method
      Does your last paragraph use logic, or is it an attitude more likely found in places such as Northern Ireland? Bigotry transplanted to Australia or is it native grown?
      Your last comment "It's shameful" I take as a compliment.

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    75. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Judith Olney

      No they are not covering up. Covering up means aiding and abetting criminal activity.
      If you give me the details I will gladly go to the police as a support person and see if charges can be laid.
      As a Catholic, I'd like to see any alleged abuser face investigation.

      If you have something ready, go straight to the police.

      The Crimes Act in each State can be used to arrest anyone no matter how high up they are in any church or organisation.

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    76. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      They may not have been discussed but abuse issues were certainly alluded to. Did you notice the audience reaction when Pell mentioned preparing young boys?

      It was actually quite confusing as to what was the main subject of the Q&A discussion, it seemed to veer from biology, Neanderthals, climate change to religious belief. Over all not very enlightening on any point.

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    77. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Blair,
      I don't actually recall saying that I believe in a god of any description.
      Perhaps you could remind me where I said this.
      Of course, some people believe in a transcendent god and others in an immanent god. Animists such as Aborigines believe in spirits inhabiting trees, rocks, hills etc. The Federal Government would seem to acknowledge this belief in its legislation.
      Some of your other questions have been answered rather earlier by the likes of St Thomas Aquinas inter alia.
      You seem to be a millennium behind in your general knowledge. While some have stood on the shoulders of giants, others seem content to sit on their big toe.

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    78. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      If you raised French law as a precedent in an Australian court and an opponent raised a precedent basedon English common law, I was under the apprehension that the English precedent may be accorded weight, while the French precedent is unlikely to be considered as relevant.
      N'est-ce pas? Check at least. Possibly mate.

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    79. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Oh dear.

      What are you suggesting? Where on earth did you decide that this was an issue of precedent between jurisdictions. I'm more than happy to discuss the question within the context of any one legal jurisdiction but your assumption that some kind of precedent is in play is obtuse and so remarkably incorrect. Perhaps to simplify: Within France similar protections existed for clergy until overthrown by the Revolutionaries. Similarly in Italy until Garibaldi - although Mussolini reinstated these. In England, yes, Cromwell stripped the protections afforded to clergy in relation to prosecution under civil law.

      HOWEVER

      Policy within the Roman Catholic church quite remarkably seems to assume that these events never happened.

      Don't call check on your second move.

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    80. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      Where does Mark Harrigan mention Socrates? You have a very bad habit of attributing your own words to others. You are creating straw men to slay, not producing any logical argument.

      Why the dig about Northern Ireland? There was no bigotry in Mark's last paragraph.

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    81. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      I have already been to the police, and charges have been laid.

      Perhaps you can direct your support to those damaged by the clergy of your church.

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    82. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Phillip - "Just Asking" is not a representation of the Socratic Method. Perhaps you should look it up? It is plain you neither understand Socrates nor can apply his methods. You were NOT inquiring about a philosophical or moral point in order to eluccidate truth - you were making a veiled accusation.

      How you have managed to introduce Socrates as a defence and then involve Northern island and make allusions of bigotry only shows the paucity of your argument and the mendaciousness of your logic

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    83. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      The French have a civil law system that does not rely on the doctrine of precedent, and unlike our common law system, no precedent is legally binding on a French court.

      It is unlikely that even a British precedent would be given much weight in Australia today, as British precedent is no longer legally binding on any Australian court, since all ties with the Privy Council were severed in 1986.

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    84. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      Joseph,
      I think Mark is making the point that jesus as portrayed in the new testament was a moral philosopher. Clearly the writers of the new testament used him as an example of virtue ethics where divine in this sense may be taken to be 'perfect'. As a perfect example of virtue jesus's example is certainly an apt model, this appears to be the point you're making. That's my secular atheist take on this. You will do no good resorting to the 'divine' when arguing with an atheist, we have no idea what you're talking about.

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    85. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Citizen SG

      @Sean,

      for a start.. I did not start the "divine" thread. As far as i am concerned language is at best an approximation of meaning.. Combine this with chinese whispers, it is a miracle that any of the orignal teachings made it through the maze of people and language over the last 2000 years.

      Of the teachings of Jesus that I have read and understand, i believe, there is some high qualtiy content / wisedom and the only reason Jesus became a topic of discussion was because of the blind…

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    86. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Pell's not harmless. He speaks as a climate change denier and even advised his supporters not to vote for the Greens. That last brought him a reminder from the ATO about the conditions under which the church enjoys its charitable status.

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    87. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Webb

      @Michael W, you seem to be nonplussed about lots of things. But I have to admit you do your martyr act very well while ignoring what other people have said. You provide an object example of how blind faith destroys reason.

      I dislike all religions so don't get too precious thinking your particular variety of magical thinking is all that special.

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    88. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Philip Dowling

      @Philip, so can you answer any of my questions in your own words, yes or no? Please enlighten me, what were the answers provided by St Thomas Aquinas that dealt specifically with my questions?

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    89. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      @Joseph, your own words have helped us establish you tend to fabricate or dissemble when you are caught out, or you conveniently change the subject when your ignorance is exposed. You accused me of making up my own facts and I asked you to provide examples. That you have failed to do so suggests you are the one with a tendency to lie (for Jesus?).

      As I understand it, the Catholic Church warns of dire outcomes for those who committed sins. Isn't bearing false witness a sin? As a defender of your church, why do you lie in its name?

      I'll ask you again, would you provide an example of me making up my own facts? I won't be expecting any apology when you fail to deliver, you don't have the cojones to admit you got it wrong.

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    90. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Its one of my favourites, but can be a bit of an ear worm :)

      Its a particularly good song for explaining religion to children.

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    91. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      I'm not interested in blind faith Blair. I seek a living Faith based upon truth and engaged with reason after the good example of Pope John Paul II: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

      Being a martyr is not something to actively seek, yet if we profess Christ, it might come to pass and one should alwasy be ready.

      You keep on mentioning magic Blair. Now that's not being fair and open but blind to the difference…

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    92. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Judith Olney

      Some in the audience reacted rudely. Yes I noticed their rudeness. Did you?
      Or is open mocking and disdain towards a oanellist OK, even miscontrueing what he was about to say?

      Can Catholics muck around with too against atheists if it is OK to treat Cardianl Pell to such obvious mockery?

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    93. Grendelus Malleolus

      Senior Nerd

      In reply to Michael Webb

      "Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization.[1] It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities.[2] The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief"[3] and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine".[4] Dogma came to signify laws or ordinances adjudged and imposed upon others by the First Century. The plural is either dogmas or dogmata, from Greek δόγματα. Today, It is sometimes used as a synonym for systematic theology."

      In other words you're required to take on faith what you are told without question and in the face of evidence to the contrary.

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    94. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      Magic is the suspension of rational thought, seeing and believing in what is not real, so is religious belief, so it is quite correct to call religion magic.

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    95. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      The audience reacted with a lack of manners and respect for both panellists, personally I thought this reflected badly on members of the audience, but it did show peoples passion, dislike, and wariness of religion, and to a lesser degree, Atheism. I personally don't like poor manners, but am glad that I live in a country where open mockery of religion, or any ism, is not punishable by the state, or churches.

      The disdain, disrespect, and mockery of Pell, he brings on himself, with his own actions, and in the case of child abuse within the catholic church, his inaction. If he wants the position, and power that comes with that position, he must accept the responsibilities that go along with it. So to answer your question, yes, it is OK to mock Pell, or anyone else that displays such ignorance, hubris and contempt for the lives of others, whether they are a cult leader, politician, or anyone else that brings shame on the people, or institution they represent.

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    96. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Webb

      @Michael W, if unquestioned belief in magical claims made by dead people is a living faith, knock yourself out. Just don't be surprised if others suspect your BS meter is terminally damaged.

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    97. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Michael Webb

      Pell also deserves to be mocked as the vocally ignorant should be. He chose to display his bigotry and ignorance, and was judged accordingly.

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    98. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair.

      Not sure what you hang up is regarding magical claims.. In a universe of infinite possibilities there is absolutely no harm in allowing our imagination to embrace the wonders of the universe. If your life is enriched and what is the harm?.. If you Die and nothing is real, then what have you lost? If you die and there is a continuum of consciousness, well then bonus.. Bing you win.. Looks like there is more to gain than lose.

      As for dead people, well just because a person is…

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    99. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Joseph, it's you who are making the magical claims, not me. But I do enjoy the irony of your fondness for fantasy while accusing others of making things up. Who said there was any harm in imagining things? You don't understand the problem occurs when people believe those imagined things to be real, ghosts, gods, fairies, 900-year-old boat builders and unicorns for starters.

      The rest of your silly rant seems to be a variant of Pascal's Wager mixed with jumbled thoughts of no consequence. Joseph's…

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    100. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Blair,

      funny how you have to resort to all sorts of personal abuse and add your own commentary which then you seem to believe as a truth. At no point do i defend the bible but that little detail has escaped your amazing skills of observation and sharp logic.

      I am certainly not sure what "imaginary" accusations have be made against you or anyone else.. I am certainly not your judge and i certainly and not telling you what you should think..

      However, i will question your logic and i believe i am allowed to share some thoughts.. If that is too hard for you then maybe you should take a rest and clam down.. nobody is out to accuse you of anything.

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  4. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    Pell's ignorance of science is not restricted to evolution.

    He is a climate science denier who had to be corrected by Dr Greg Ayers, Head of the Bureau of Meteorology after Pell wrote an scientifically illiterate letter to the Senate's Environment and Communications Legislation Committee .

    "At one stage [Cardinal Pell] lists greenhouse gases. Included in the list is the gas nitrogen. That is not a greenhouse gas; it is 78 per cent of the atmosphere. You cannot have people out there telling the public that nitrogen is a greenhouse gas, because it is not."

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/the_bureau_of_meteorology_figh.php

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    1. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, what's amazing is that he can continue to be so ill-informed on the topic. I understand that he is a fan of Plimer and Plimer has sucked in many people with his pseudo-scientific anti climate change mumbo-jumbo.

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    2. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian, maybe Pell sees Ian Plimer as something of a buttress against the young Earth creationists and hence an indirect supporter of the church establishment. The enemy of my enemy is my friend… :-)

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    3. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      It's an interesting point you make - the loopy end of the evangelical spectrum have been making in-roads not just in the West but in the traditional third world feeding grounds of the RC's. I'd always put it down to Pell's right-wing leanings (old school DLP) and the people he chooses to listen to (or not as the case may be).

      The frightening thing is that his reactionary stance actually carries some weight amongst his 'flock'.

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    4. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Ian, In some other fora I've encountered Islamic fundamentalists who like the quaint notion of young earth/creationist origins. Doesn't seem to matter how much evidence you present to them, if it conflicts with their faith, it's irrelevant. It's kind of spooky that people can allow themselves to be so thoroughly brainwashed.

      As for the “flock", it's hard to think of a more apt name :-)

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    5. Joseph Bernard

      Director

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian,

      did you watch the program? not sure how you can make all these claims or why you would be upset.. what is frightening is your own reactionary stance.

      get a grip

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    6. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      @Ian, I guess when people are indoctrinated by magical thinking from an early age, at least before they have learned how to think critically, it must be difficult for them to honestly question their teachings. Even so, I've had some amazing discussions with a number of ex-theists who found the courage to question what they had been taught when the stories just didn't square with reality. For many the cost has been lost families, relationships, careers and even communities but for all that, they've said they had never felt more alive after sloughing off the yoke of blind faith. I admire their courage and wonder if I could have done the same in their shoes?

      I'm very glad I enjoyed a secular education.

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    7. Blair Donaldson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      @Michael C, I hope they eventually come around and realise family is everything. Still, it highlights how poisonous faith can be when it splits families because believers cannot bring themselves to accept the choice of those who don't feel the same way.

      If you don't mind me asking, has the effort been worth the cost?

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    8. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Yes indeed it has been worth it. The family issues are more a mild disgruntlement from some - and horror from others that I could abandon the family faith, but in reality I could not continue to profess what I was incapable of accepting to be true.

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    9. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Actually this all sounds quite smug and self congratulatory. There are myriad examples of those with acute critical thinking skills who are religious. There's quite a few scientists who are even practicing theists. To state that the two are exclusive of each other is incorrect.
      I take your point that fundamentalist or literal readings of religious texts is exclusive of critical thinking, but be aware that many religious people quite happily exist in a state where they separate their faith from other areas of their life. I would assume that those who do this and are members of organised religion take their religious texts to be figurative or allegorical.

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    10. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Sean, it is ENTIRELY smu and self-congratulatory, but also entirely within my own personal context. I am not suggesting that people who hold religious views, including many scientists for whom I have immense affection and respect, are in any way lessened intellectually by their faith. However, even they will acknowledge that they have to make a distinction in their own minds where religious faith is concerned in much the way that you described.

      My own personal experience was that I was much more…

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  5. Ian Ashman

    Manager

    Pell showed himself to be out of touch, ill-informed and arrogant. It was an extremely bizarre performance:
    - his invoking of Godwin's Law so early on showed he had no intellectual capacity to argue with Dawkins
    - his anti-semitic comments, saying that Jews were inferior people was disgusting
    - his claim that Germans suffered more than Jews in WW2 is equally disgusuting and disturbing
    - his inability to understand even the basics of natural selection shows a mind that, well let's be charitable…

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    1. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Blair Donaldson

      Krauss is a much better speaker than Dawkins (who just doesnt suffer fools very well).

      There seems to be a concerted effort to discredit Krauss at the moment - some of the Christian commentariat are particularly challenged by his views.

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    2. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Krauss:
      "There is another reason, however, to bring such a large group of individuals together who share an unwillingness to accept on faith various outrageous claims of divinity associated with books compiled by long-dead and sometimes [url=http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/join-the-real-world-and-show-faith-in-reasoned-debate-20120413-1wyn0.html#ixzz1rzzSEX9y]illiterate peasants[/url] thousands of years ago."

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    3. Dave Smith

      Energy Consultant

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      To me, it seemed that Pell is not particularly bright. He seemed to be as clueless about theology as he was about science.

      Dawkins, on the other hand, suffers from being too bright.

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  6. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    Thank you to the author for this statement

    “forget about a metaphysical fairy in the sky. The way to divine happiness is to lead your life in the spirit that I lead mine, where you put others before your own interests, love rather than hate your enemies, turn the other cheek rather than exact revenge, etc. If you need to believe in God, I’ll be your God. But the most important thing is to live your life like I do.”

    That's a refreshing take.

    For my own part I was disgusted that Pell, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia could wear his ignorance and bigotry so blatantly.

    Many in the church do good - but the institution has been shown to be morally corrupt in many areas - most notably in relation to child sexual abuse.

    When those who have faith use it solely to guide there own lives, not to use it a world view of reality and attempt to dicate to and judge others, the world will be a better place. Pell failed this test miserably.

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  7. Michael Webb

    Administrator

    I thought that Cardinal Pell passed yet would have almost scored a credit. Simialr thoughts on Richard Dawkins.

    Believers and atheists alike have their baises and so like to give their respective hero a distinction and a fail to the person representing what they are hostile to.

    I do feel though that atheists have a major struggle in controlling their disdain, not to mention contempt, at times for believers in God, particularly when it comes to Christians, especially Catholics.

    The usual phoney feelings based on poltical correctness were apparent when the Cardinal spoke about the Jews. There was no offence given when he spoke of stages in history where neighbouring civilisations had developed more; yet the politically correct fail to mention how the Cardinal says that the Jewish people became great intellectuals later on in history.

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    1. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Michael Webb

      Pell's principal failing in that section of the debate was to appear to equate lack of culture and education within a nomadic culture with a lack of intellect.

      I would not have given Pell as much as a Pass, and Dawkins barely scraped one in - his open-mouthed gasping at Pell's ridiculousness was a waste of good debating time. If your opponent is failing badly then not taking the opportunity to make that clear is a serious flaw. Tony Jones actually did this in place or Dawkins.

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    2. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      I don't think Dawkins was that great but as he said on Pharyngula, he was basically buggered after the flight and he was taken aback by the constant interjections from the audience and from Tony Jones (who was hopeless in my view).

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    3. Philip Dowling

      IT teacher

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      Does Krauss do this better?

      "There is another reason, however, to bring such a large group of individuals together who share an unwillingness to accept on faith various outrageous claims of divinity associated with books compiled by long-dead and sometimes [url=http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/join-the-real-world-and-show-faith-in-reasoned-debate-20120413-1wyn0.html#ixzz1rzzSEX9y]illiterate peasants[/url] thousands of years ago."

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    4. Michael Webb

      Administrator

      In reply to Michael Carroll

      More to do with lack of a developed intellect; don't think that the Cardinal was saying they never had the brain matter to develop and train thier brains along intellectual pathways. Every civilisation is at different levels of intellectual development compared to where they are geographically, who they come into contact with , where they are in terms of agrarian, industrial et al.

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  8. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    I find it halerious that the author suggests that christianity can exist where the almighty god is relaxed about whether you need a god or not.

    The very point of christianity is that jesus died for our sins and that only through him can we enter the kingdom of heaven......so what the fuck are you talking about at the end of this article where you suggest that some christians only care about whether they you are a good person or not...thats not what christ taught, thats not following christ hence thats not christianity.

    If you want to define christianity as humanism you can but your wrong

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  9. Sam Adeloju

    Professor

    Andrew, your bias cannot be more obvious by your reference to Cardinal Pell as "Bloody Pell". This almost disqualifies your article as readable by anyone who has a balanced view about Richard Dawkins and Cardinal Pell. Your bias was even more obvious in the way you picked on what Cardinal Pell said and made no criticism or comment about what Richard Dawkins said. Yet one of the fundamental flaws of Dawkins argument in that debate was his suggestion that “Why? is a silly question". In anybody who…

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    1. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Sam Adeloju

      As Dawkins was at pains to point out, there are two separate why questions: why in terms of cause and effect, why in the sense of purpose.
      He said that the second question was meaningless. You're interpreting it as though he said that of the first question.

      Hawking is a great physicist, but he's guilty of having a bob each way on the existence of a god. He has also been involved in attempts to produce physical theories to explain how a universe could come into existence from nothing.
      Anyway, what definition of god are we using here? Is your god one that set the universe going and then took no further part? Doesn't fit with any of the major religions I'm aware of.

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    2. Michael Carroll

      Student, UWA School of Law at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Sam Adeloju

      "Why" can indeed be a silly question - it all depends on the context. If you are standing on train tracks and I tell you to get off them, asking "why" may come with a cost you can't afford to pay. In the context of the debate, Dawkins was suggesting that to merely ask "why are we here" or "what is the purpose of the universe" lacks a contextual framework - particularly if the universe has no 'purpose' to its existence. Dawkins' approach appears to consist of asking questions to which we can find some answers such as "What are the factors that led to something coming into existence?" as a more reasoned approach.

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  10. Roxane Paczensky

    Registered Nurse

    Why do atheists and scientists continue to be lured into discussing deistic, or "lifeforce", concepts when the conversation starts out with the a discussion of theistic claims. If the world was full of Atheists, Deists and Lifeforce believers we wouldn't have a problem. It isn't though is it. It's full of believers in various texts that make fantastical claims that have been reinterpreted into oblivion to make what they say fit better with what we now know. So Jesus was a nice guy who had some good…

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  11. Chucky

    logged in via Twitter

    > The most embarrassing moment in the debate came when he suggested that we had descended from Neanderthals.

    Actually, we do. There was interbreeding, and so around 1-4% of current human DNA comes from Neanderthals as reported by Science.

    See for example,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/science/07neanderthal.html
    http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/neandertal/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/06/neanderthals-dna-humans-genome
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8660940.stm

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    1. Andrew McGee

      Lecturer, Faculty of Law at Queensland University of Technology

      In reply to Chucky

      Chucky

      None of those websites show that we evolved from Neanderthals, and for very good reason: if we were able to interbreed with them, then we must already have existed. We didn’t descend from them through an evolutionary change in species. Rather, we both evolved from a common ancestor and we were sufficiently related to each other that some interbreeding took place between us, and that means that some humans now contain Neanderthal DNA. In the evolutionary context, 'descend from' means 'evolve from'. Have a look at the BBC diagram, as it makes the point very clear. It shows Homo sapiens and Neanderthals having a common ancestor, rather than Homo sapiens evolving from Neanderthals.

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