Before we begin, let me make something clear. This is NOT about the content of Atheism, this is about the conduct shown at this event.
This is really quite upsetting...
The "Reason Rally" the largest public organised event for atheists ever held, is proving to be the worst example of the excesses of the "new" atheism
Firstly, although they happily welcome the people from the Westborough Baptist Church to come along and engage with them, the organisers have said to the people of Ratio Christi "Make no mistake - you are not welcome at the rally". This is classic strawman. I can completely understand the desire of the atheists organising the event to not want to do a debate, but you can't have it both ways. You can't invite the crazies to make yourself look good and then deny the moderates.
In his brief address, Dawkins encouraged fellow atheists to ridicule those who claim to be religious.
Exemplifying how he would approach religious persons, Dawkins said, "Do you really believe, for example if they're Catholic, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ?"
"Mock them, ridicule them in public," he urged. "Don't fall for the convention that we're all too polite to talk about religion."
Making fun? Mocking? Really? This is acceptable behaviour? This is ENCOURAGED behaviour?
Thirdly, as part of their advertising campaign, the rally quoted Collossians 3:22 completely out of the broader context of the passage, trying to imply that the Bible was supportive of the slavery seen in the New World, with pictures of African slaves in neck chains.
Is this really acceptable. This, at the largest atheist event in the world ever held? This, at the event to show the world that its okay to be an atheist?
If you've been on this forum for any significant length of time, you know my position on matters of religion, but I have known plenty of passionate, engaging and incredibly polite and reasonable atheists on this forum. This isn't what I am seeing in this event.
Surely you would agree that this kind of thing isn't what atheism should be about.
This went against the doctrine of the Catholic Church
This is the thing, it didn't. If it did, why was he not convicted of heresy, rather than mere suspicion of heresy.
Since, the church adopted the ideals of perfect harmonies and circular orbits as doctrine (the Pope said it was true and the Pope is infallible)
Can you provide proof of this. I have proof that it was not the case:
Third, I say that, if there were a real proof that the Sun is in the centre of the universe, that the Earth is in the third sphere, and that the Sun does not go round the Earth but the Earth round the Sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of Scripture which appear to teach the contrary, and we should rather have to say that we did not understand them than declare an opinion to be false which is proved to be true. But I do not think there is any such proof since none has been shown to me. To demonstrate that the appearances are saved by assuming the sun at the centre and the earth in the heavens is not the same thing as to demonstrate that in fact the sun is in the centre and the earth is in the heavens." Letter from Bellarmine to Father Foscarini April 4, 1615
Note the key words "Appear". They were well aware that if the evidence suggested otherwise, they would naturally assume they had misinterpreted the text, espeically since the section you quoted was a Psalm, which is poetry.
"Whereas you, Galileo, the son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, were in the year 1615 denounced to this Holy Office for holding as true the false doctrine...."
Note the language. "False Doctrine". The truth is there was no doctrine. Heliocentricism was never declare heretical.
His evidence was much stronger than that of Copernicus's Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs. Copernicus's ideas were easily met with skepticism, didn't provide the required accurate predictions, and generally not believed (if the Earth is moving, then why don't we always feel a wind?), and therefore not much notice was taken. Galileo's thoughts met with two Papel decrees (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/admonition.html), and charged with vehement suspicion of heresy. He was to be found guilty unless he retracted his assertions of a Heliocentric model, which he ended up doing, but his Dialogs were still banned by the Church.
What evidence? Galieo had theories, but no observational evidence that would distinguish his own model from the tychonic model. The following quote I think explains best why the Church reacted as they did.
When asked by the Pope to “represent all sides of the argument”, Galileo’s response was to ridicule the Aristotelian system (and ridicule the Pope at the same time), strongly argue for the Copernican system and omit the Tychonic system entirely. It is because of this vital point that his treatment of the Aristotelian system is regarded as a classic case of straw-man argument. The important point about his omission is this: The Copernican system (which Galileo represented) and the Tychonic system (which the Church favoured) are mathematically identical for all observations available at the time.
Galileo’s arguments were based around four main themes:
We note immediately the scientific thinness of his argument, as well as the straw-man nature. By deliberately ignoring the Tychonic system he avoided having to deal with the fact that there was no observational evidence by which he could definitively say that the Earth moves.
Particularly important to note is the tidal argument. In Day 4 of the Dialogues, Galileo attempts to use the tides as “proof” that the Earth moves, which is not only incorrect, but also in direct contradiction with his earlier arguments about relative motion. His logic is internally inconsistent and offers a new theory which has no more power to explain the observations than the current (Tychonic) paradigm. His argument for its advantages over a system that serious astronomers didn’t even use anymore is irrelevant, and so, scientifically, his theory was too weak to be accepted. (Without the tidal arguments, his model would stand as an observationally equivalent hypothesis to the Tychonic model; with those arguments the logic is inferior).
For another opinion on the weakness of Galileo’s arguments, here is Albert Einstein’s assessment (from his foreword to a new translation of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems):
“It was Galileo’s longing for a mechanical proof of the motion of the earth which misled him … The fascinating arguments in the last conversation would hardly have been accepted as proof by Galileo, had his temperament not got the better of him.”
After further review, I am have to say that I can't find a source that states that the Ptolemaic model was held true by Papal Decree, but I still hold that it was the going dogma of the Church at the time. Perhaps you can disprove that it was not? However, while many members of the Church saw reason behind Galileo's push toward heliocentrism, not all were on his side, since it went against scripture (I provided one of the examples of such scripture earlier).
I admit that the Galileo v. Church situation is a bit more convoluted than I previously thought, but that does not change the fact that he was tried for heresy and forced to recant his claim on a heliocentric model. While he somewhat overstepped his predictions of the heliocentric model, it is a matter of the scientist to sort out what parts of a hypothesis are supported by evidence, and which are not supported by evidence. The Church should in no way interfere with this process, yet there is the Papal Decree of 1616 that clearly states that the heliocentric model is against the teachings of the church and condemns the Letter by Father Foscarini (Please read the link for it is too long to copy and paste: http://www1.umn.edu/ships/galileo/library/1616docs.htm). This is clear interference by the Church, who at that point in history had a say in what science should be supported and which should be condemned.
(Note: I wrote this prior to reading your response. I will add further comment if necessary)
Before I gather my sources, I put forth the question: If the heliocentric model was not considered to be against the current teachings of the Catholic Church, why was he tried in the first place?; why was his book banned?; and why was he forced to sign an abjuration?
Because Galileo was presenting it as though the heliocentric model necessarily undermined the Catholic Church, and that the Pope was a fool for not believing in his theory. Both of these things are ground for suspicion of, albeit not actual, heresy. It was against the current interpretation of the scripture, but it was known that this was just an interpretation, not actually what the scripture said (IE they inferred it, but they knew that since the scripture in question was a Psalm, they knew it wasn't entirely literal).
Reply to your comment on this comment:
So that was enough for the Catholic Church to ban Galileo's and Copernicus's works?
Also, yes, the Catholic Church did much to promote and fund science throughout history (we'll forget the so-called 'Dark' Ages, but fortunately science and mathematics were pushed forward by the Arabic/Islamic world). However, the Catholic Church is not without fault for at times promoting its dogma above science. This is especially the case when the new science forced the Church to have to revise it's doctrines and change it's world-view. The Church in these cases is very slow to do so often because of the idea of infallibility or troubles of reinterpreting the scripture to match the science without dismantling the fundamentals of religious doctrine [always a fun game].
Update: We seem to be talking about two different occurrences in the life of Galileo, and I am partly at fault for that. The charge of heresy did not come until later (1633), after he published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which he finished in 1630 and was published in Florence in 1632. The charge was brought forth because of his violation of the Decree of 1616, even though he had Inquisition and papal permission to publish. The Pope was not at all happy with his character Simplicio, who was a adherent to Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so the charge of heresy fell upon Galileo. At the hearing, Galileo recanted his Dialogs under threat of torture from the Inquisition (good job with the whole torture to get people to recant, but I know you, as I, are against the actions of the Inquisition, yet it was still an arm of the Church at this time). As for sentencing (condemning), seven cardinals signed for his imprisonment but it did not get papal ratification. Nevertheless, he was condemned to life in 'prison' at the villa of Archbishop Ascanio Piccolomini of Sienna, and his Dialogs was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books, where it remained until 1835.
While the accounts of heresy and the crimes are a bit in the gray, the obstruction of the Church clearly occurred.
While the accounts of heresy and the crimes are a bit in the gray, the obstruction of the Church clearly occurred.
Yes, but the obstruction wasn't based upon the belief in helieocentricism. If it was, the charge would have been far clearer.
I have to make a confession, in the interests of peace and harmony and just because I'm a blabber mouth.
Yes, I'm an atheist. Have been since I was confirmed a Catholic.
I think what I was taught since infancy was aborrhent. The experience of religious people, particularly in my family, shows them to be people who deflect responsibility to an invisible man, worship nonsense, look down their nose at everyone else, and generally, act like scum. I've seen this experience repeated in what is commonly known as the Sunday Christian effect and I think it's fair to say, it's institutional, and there's a doctrinal basis for it. Having been taken through that ringer and learned a few things about how wide that river runs, there was a period there when I was very angry and I said some nasty, but not strictly speaking, dishonest things. And to this day it makes me angry that the religion 'Christianity' (in the case of my country anyway) is falsely claimed to be my country's religion even though this has no basis in fact and it's sole purpose is to allow even more discriminatory laws to creep in than we already have.
This is what gets my goat
I've found that zealotry can occur in anyone, and that includes me. So even though I contend that all religions are, without exception, complete and utter bullshit, and have no place in schools, in the minds of children, in politics, and in science (except when being studied ie religious studies), and the world would be better off without religion in general, I'd have to say as far as human nature is concerned it's a neutral effect over all. Assholes are assholes are asssholes. Nice guys are nice guys are nice guys. My parish priest cherry picked being nice to your neighbour, because he's a nice guy, it's as simple as that. I'm honest about that because I personally value honesty, it's as simple as that.
And as far as 'speaking for atheists' people like Dawkins may already know that they can't really do that. They can only speak for themselves, and hold gatherings and raise awareness of their ideas. Dawkins doesn't speak for me, and never has. Nor has his kindred. But when the movement points out, oh ok, so finally NOW we can be openly atheist, I get that. I really do. It's difficult to be openly atheist amongst religious people. But even though I was, it was much easier than being openly non-heterosexual.
And, the thing is there, is I think challenging the beliefs, and calling it on the bullshit that it is, is in fact, completely healthy in an open society that values free debate. Criticising the speaker (ie ad hominem) isn't. Setting debate agendas that don't allow for free and fair debate, isn't; and that shouldn't matter if the debate is set up by Dawkins or the mainstream media, or between student groups at a university.
So, in short, fuck your God, but not you.
Then there's the definitional issues of 'atheist'. I know people who are defined as atheists by other people but prefer to not have any label at all. Their beliefs are identical to mine, except they say that the word 'atheist' was made up by religious people, and they're not (nor have they ever been) religious, so the word doesn't belong to them. I've chosen to adopt the word for myself even though that makes sense because of my background alone.....so it's not just "in opposition to god" it's "we're not even on the same playing field" as well. And there are others who don't think religion is negative, it's just some silly ideas other people have. I waver....despite what I said before.
So atheism shouldn't be about anything....because it isn't about anything...is it? Not in it's whole at least. Or it's simplest form....
Point of clarification: I have beef with the Vatican because of how it handled the incidents with pedophilic priests, not because of the pedophiles themselves. Every group has it's bad apples, not every group sticks those bad apples back where they can do more harm without warning anyone and generally just blowing off the issue. I'm mad at the structure of the church and a few of the decisions they've made, but otherwise I could care less about Catholocism. By which I mean a good person is good, a bad person is bad, and an actual, non hypothetical person is somewhere in between, and I judge that last person based on where I think they lie. Religion has nothing to do with it, although truth be told I'm prejudiced against really outspoken Christians, something which I acknowledge and am in the process of changing.
Point of clarification: I have beef with the Vatican because of how it handled the incidents with pedophilic priests, not because of the pedophiles themselves.
Cheers. To clarify, I was making a reference to about 5 years of internet debates on a dozen other websites I can't even be bothered naming and hadn't even read whatever it is you needed to clarify. I've heard the conflation "PRIEST = PEDOPHILE" a lot, and it gets my goat. I mostly agree with your point on this one. It's how they handled it that sucked.
I just happened to focus on Catholicism cos of my background. Speaking of which, do you really think a religion that is centered around events associated with a 12 year old farm girl getting raped by the magical ghost-seed of god delivered by a sky fairy to give birth to himself is one that is kid friendly? Just sayin' the joke 'anal doesn't count' also has a real world cultural basis in some parts of the world....and Catholics are supposed to obey everything the authority tells them (it's part of the nicean creed) so doctrine is related....how much though....
I just happened to focus on Catholicism cos of my background. Speaking of which, do you really think a religion that is centered around events associated with a 12 year old farm girl getting raped by the magical ghost-seed of god delivered by a sky fairy to give birth to himself is one that is kid friendly?
Catholics and indeed Christians as a whole do not believe that God had sex with Mary. He caused her to conceive. Being God however, he does not need to have sex with her in order to do that.