Many Catholics are questioning whether they necessarily have to be nationalist…

Someone on Slugger came up with a great term, Catholic Unicorns for that fabled and vast herd of Catholics who habitually express what we might at best describe as a positive ambiguity towards the United Kingdom. It tends to arise any time anyone on Slugger is foolish enough to quote the relatively stable and consistent findings of the Life and Times survey.

Well, someone of some standing with the Catholic community has finally put their head above parapet and explained why it might be that even some Sinn Fein voters currently prefer things the way they are rather than risk a difficult manoeuvre at this stage at least. Father Eugene O’Neill has been speaking to the News Letter:

NO Roman Catholic priests under the age of 45 are interested in removing the border and many Catholics are re-thinking their nationalism, a Catholic priest has said. Fr Eugene O’Neill said that many Catholics were questioning whether as Catholics they necessarily had to be nationalist and look to Dublin when the United Kingdom was more respectful of Christian churches.

  • Greenflag

    @ son of strongbow,

    ‘Things must have been so intolerable for nationalists in the ‘Black North’ that they felt compelled to stay and multiply.’

    Indeed -ungrateful bastards one and all eh . Following the Lord’s command they were for it sayeth in the book to go forth and increase and multiply. And did they take the word of the lord literally -in this particular case anyway

    Those of the other persuasion however not only ignored the good book and refused to take the word of Jehovah literally but they so prefereth the goods of Mammon to the children of god that they thus did they become less numerous .

    And so it goeth or wenteth until the day the less than immaculate contraception became a much used tool among the fenians and they too now favoured the goods of Mammon to the children of God .

  • PaddyReilly

    The percentage of Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland has grown steadily since 1922.

    No, the %age of Catholics in NI diminished significantly in 1922, and then stayed stable or declined until the passage into law of the (1976) Fair Employment Act, when it began to rise by approximately 1% every two years.

  • BluesJazz
  • BluesJazz

    Meant to highlight from the link, and The Dawkins poll:

    One thing seems clear: religious think-tanks and lobby groups do not represent anything like the numbers of people who tick the same religion box in surveys, and shouldn’t be allowed to insinuate that they do.

  • lover not a fighter

    The priest could put himself up for election and see how he gets on North or South.

  • Greenflag

    The new Irish Trinity

    In the name of the Darwin the Dawkins and the Stephen Hawkings amen 😉

    Thanks for the Dara OBrian link a classic . And heres a link to an earlier doubting Thomas who found the Trinity tough going .

  • HeinzGuderian

    Ladies,your beloved ‘irish sovereignty’ has been sold down the Swanee by Uncle Bertie.
    The sooner you grasp this,the better for us all.

    On the world stage,dear aul ireland(rep of) is looked upon as a pint of Guinness (re HM visit/President Obama) and on a par with Greece,Outer Mongolia,and the Faeroe Islands.

    Now,what to vote for ?
    One of the Four most influential nations on the planet………OR…………a pat on the head on Plastic Paddy day by El Presidente ?

    Hmmm,it’s a toughie…………….;-)

  • Harry Flashman

    Another one of those non-existant Catholic unionists just passed away.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/tv-radio-obituaries/9100502/Frank-Carson.html

    James Francis Carson, papal knight, former corporal in the Parachute Regiment and member of the UK Independence Party RIP.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paddy, the boycott of the 71 and 81 censuses muddy the waters somewhat on that…

  • lover not a fighter

    Reply to : Heinz Guderian at 12:31 am.

    And what actual influence does NI bring to bear in westminister. Perhaps if the mathematics worked out in the very odd election, otherwise; Nada.

    In any case you are over estimating Britains influence in the world especially in the long term.

    But for British prime ministers positioning themselves firmly in lapdoggy position how much of an influence would britain have had in recent years.

  • Republic of Connaught

    @ son of strongbow,

    ‘Things must have been so intolerable for nationalists in the ‘Black North’ that they felt compelled to stay and multiply.’

    You obviously don’t know much about your own province, SOS. Read the Ulster Cycle of Irish history and it might teach you something about the nature of the Ulster Gael. It’d take a lot more than a few cantankerous Orangemen to drive them out of their part of Ireland.

  • ayeYerMa

    Getting back on topic, and away from the distractions caused by the usual disingenuous innuendo-filled MOPEry, here is a very interesting chart on political theory that I think is very relevant to the discussion (normally I find such charts BS, but I think this one is in fact so relevant and interesting in so many ways that it would deserve a blog post of its own):
    http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/cf_images/20030104/CSF914.gif

    http://www.economist.com/node/1511812

    Compare and contrast the positioning of Britain and Ireland in relation to Catholic Europe.

  • Greenflag

    @ ayeYerMa,

    What exactly do you mean by Catholic Europe ? or for that matter Protestant Europe ? The countries of Europe from Sweden to Italy and from Belarus to Ireland are predominantly secular societies with regular church attendance being mostly for a minority and an aging minority .

    Also your chart above is almost 10 years old during which time the situation in Ireland has changed quite a bit -perhaps not so much in Northern Ireland .

    Since the Bushes are no longer in the White House the USA’s image abroad has improved quite a bit . If the GOP and Israeli ‘nutters’ have their way and force an Iranian war then of course it’ll be a whole new world -assuming there’s one left 🙁

    Time to put away Catholic and Protestant -the only ‘religion’ which is significant in world politics today is Islam and that only because some of their fundamentalists are as bat shit crazy as their American equivalents and they each share a world view along with the RC Church which is more in tune with the 16th century than the present .

    Try and find a more up to date chart and focus on the ‘economics ‘ instead of ‘religions ‘ It’s said that some 40% of Americans don’t believe that evolution is a fact . The only other country that shares the same percentage of non belief is Turkey .Whether American backwardness in this regard is due to their poor educational and in particular science educational standards is unclear but it could be also due to the strong influence of the ‘creationist ‘ schools particularly in the Southern states which are served by the more batshit crazy evangelicals who have yet to come to terms with modern geology and who insist that the Earth is only 6,000 years old .

    Surely there’s nobody in Ireland who could be persuaded that the planet is only 6,000 years old is there?

  • It’s actually the other way round , that Nationalists are rethinking their Catholicism, and the Sex abuse really only solidified this trend recently.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Well there are some cases for mentioning both the rise of Anglo-Catholics and Eastern Catholics and others.

    Then again perhaps you get people from loyalist working class areas leaving to find jobs in the dreaded south.

    I will accept that being Catholic is no prerequisite for being a nationalist, nor that that the Roman Catholic Church is the main driver of Irish nationalism in the North through its education of children. The unionist community has to accept that the church stepped in to fill a void left by the state as it does in other parts of the UK and Ireland.

    We have two parties in government trying to change education for their own interests, yet doing very little to ensure that any gratitude in their future voters remains within these isles.

  • fordprefect

    F*** Nationalism, what’s wrong with Socialism? I am a Catholic, but when I look round at the Assholes that I am supposed to vote for it makes me laugh! If there was a Protestant fella/girl that stood for Socialism, I would vote for them.

  • Greenflag

    ‘what’s wrong with Socialism?’

    In small and medium size doses it can be a tonic as long as there is a civic minded society -In large doses like arsenic and the former Soviet Union in can be and was toxic to individuals and societies .

    You can say the same for ‘capitalism ‘ and ‘nationalism ‘ .

    For ‘financial services dominated capitalism ‘ probably not though. The ‘small dose ‘ of financial services dominated capitalism what the world has experienced over the past two decades has been toxic to a greater degree or lesser degree to every western economy . the jury is still out on the performance of the other modern brand of capitalism i.e ‘authoritarian one party state capitalism or for short the Chinese model ‘

    Very broadminded of you to putatively vote for a protestant if he or she was a socialist but would you vote for a jewish socialist or an islamic socialist or God forbid an atheist socialist ?

    Unfortunately present day ‘socialists ‘ in the west are just as bereft of solutions to the current economic and fiscal crisis as are their neo con idiot opponents and that ’emptiness ‘ is at the crux of the current crises in the EU and USA .

  • PaddyReilly

    i>And are they really Catholic?

    The thinking here seems to be quite illogical. A decline in
    bead-telling and mass-going among the Catholic population does not mean that they are going to be more responsive to salvationist Free Presbyterianism or pan-Protestant Orange marching, or the political parties that go in for this sort of thing.

    Equally, the fact that a Blackpool resident of Northern Irish Catholic origin should accept the inevitable consequences of his residence and choose to position himself within English politics, does not herald an outbreak of Empire Loyalism among those of his compatriots who stayed at home. Had he moved to France or Germany he would have been obliged to orient himself in the political set-up of those countries, or abstain altogether from having a political opinion.

    More to the point is how Unionists would cope with the parties on offer in a United Ireland. Previous form seems to suggest they might move toward Fine Gael:-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Dockrell_(1850%E2%80%931929)

    Other choices are Labour, which in the context of Irish coalitions is just an ally of Fine Gael, and Fianna Fáil, which has attracted one ex-Unionist to its ranks. According to the recent Opinions Poll SF is on the rise in the Republic. Opinion polls are in my view, only slightly more reliable than dreams: but sometimes dreams come true. If
    this is the case, the possibly all that is happening is that the Fianna Fáil vote is abandoning its cute hoor veneer and returning to its Republican roots. On the other hand success may be turning SF into FF.

    This will probably remove the FF option for Northern Protestants. What then is left? Well there are the Greens. And there is the path of total abstention from politics to concetrate on religious melancholy, currently espoused by Reformed Presbyterians, Plymouth Brethren and
    Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • Mickles

    Raised Catholic, now Athiest, never been in favour of a united Ireland, especially after living down there for a year (no change on the bus wtf?). But I’m not too keen on the UK either. I think that we should be independent, and call ourselves ‘North Ireland’. Like North Korea – only scarier.

  • Are we talking about actual Catholics in this thread, or are we just using the shorthand “Catholic” for “ethnic Nationalist” or “Taig”? Mickles here is a perfect example of the failure of such terminology.

  • Mickles

    I’m just a man, man.

  • PaddyReilly

    The no change racket is operated by several British cities

    http://lothianbuses.com/fares-a-tickets.html

    The United Kingdom is not actually a united bus service.

    Mickles the ‘athiest’ may not be all he seems. Certainly the professed enthusiasm for an independent NI, and entity that would tear itself apart the moment it came into existence, is either feigned, the sign of a defective intelligence, or a person who enjoys a good fight.

  • Mickles

    What’s with the quotes on Athiest? I can’t help what religion I was born into, but I can sure as shit reject it on every level, you are in no position to assign labels to anyone (and ‘Atheist’ is not a religion by the way, as it permits me to change my opinion based on facts, unlike religion).

    I’m not saying an independent NI would, could or should happen. I’m saying a lot of my generation (I’m 28) from whatever background care less about Unionism or Nationalism, and more about the fact that we’re sitting with degrees but no jobs, as we watch money that could be invested in local business and talent get eaten up by arguments about peace walls, parades, flags, dialects that are now languages, dredging up of the past, finger pointing, snubbing, oneupmanship and general fuckaboutery by our esteemed elected officials, whose constant re-election by the public amazes me.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Greenflag

    ‘…In large doses like … the former Soviet Union…’

    There was nothing socialist about the Soviet Union. Throughout its existence, the USSR was actually far more remote from socialism than was the UK or US.

    Sure, the USSR called itself socialist. North Korea calls itself a Democratic People’s Republic, and is at least as democratic as the USSR was socialist.

    Would any reasonable person argue that North Korea provides an argument against democracy?

  • Greenflag

    @ Billy Pilgrim,

    ‘There was nothing socialist about the Soviet Union.’

    Fair enough BP they were pre communists practicing a form of less bizarre leadership cult than either the Chinese or later North Koreans or the German post Weimaraners .

    The theory was willing (maybe ) but the practice was weak . Human nature at the time just did’nt suit the ideologues . Nor does it today in the case of financial services led capitalistic chaos .

    ‘Would any reasonable person argue that North Korea provides an argument against democracy?’

    I would’nt think so but they certainly prove the case against hereditary monarchy in particular communist hereditary monarchy disguised as a cultish kleptocracy .

  • Greenflag

    @ paddy reilly ,

    The Plymouth Brethern were not founded in Plymouth .

    It’s not widely known just as well 😉

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth_Brethren

  • The yokel

    Anyone with an open mind on “atheism” may like to listen to this:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01cjm4c/

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GF

    There’s nothing complicated about the definition of socialism. A socialist society is one in which working people directly control production. So, for example, those who work in a factory, own it, and control it.

    Nothing like this ever happened in the USSR. Workers were virtual slaves. In fact, the first thing the Bolsheviks did upon assuming power was to abolish the socialist institutions (ie workers’ soviets) that had come into existence before, and during the revolutionary period – being a doctrinaire Marxist, Lenin didn’t believe Russia was ready for socialism, and so made sure it didn’t get ahead of itself; for the Bolsheviks, the October Revolution was a holding pattern, ahead of the real revolution, which was to happen in Germany.

    This isn’t simply a matter of nomenclature. The USSR was an utter tyranny, and as remote from socialism as its possible to imagine. North Korea is more democratic than the USSR was socialist.

  • Greenflag

    ‘A socialist society is one in which working people directly control production. So, for example, those who work in a factory, own it, and control it.’

    Does this happen or has it ever happened anywhere And if it has how long has it lasted. Would government employees working in a government office control their production also even if it is in most cases paperwork or meetings /discussions etc etc .

    The USSR was a tyranny to those who were not part of the party elite or who were outside the ‘pale ‘

    When working people in factories as you put it, make up 11% of the population how much do you think they can ‘control ‘ production in a modern economy such as the UK.

    The market controls production in the working out of supply and demand . The pace of change in the production and technological environment in today’ s world is vastly different from what it was in Karl Marx’s time or James Connoly.

    Socialism in the West has got to redefine itself if it is to provide a credible longer term alternative to either financial services dominated capitalistic chaos or authoritarian one party state Chinese state capitalism.

    AsI look at the British Labour Party and the Irish Labour Party I don’t see anything other than virtual compliance with the bankster controlled kleptocracies that have evolved (if thats the right word ) these past several decades and ditto for the USA’s Democrats.
    The only claim to power is that they are not quite as bat shit crazy as the right wing neo cons but that is’nt going to get these countries out of their current stagnation .

  • Brian

    “Try and find a more up to date chart and focus on the ‘economics ‘ instead of ‘religions ‘ It’s said that some 40% of Americans don’t believe that evolution is a fact . The only other country that shares the same percentage of non belief is Turkey ”

    Not true

  • Greenflag

    @ Brian,

    ‘The only other country that shares the same percentage of non belief is Turkey

    Not true ‘

    True -What I omitted was the word NATO as in

    ‘The only other NATO country that shares the same percentage of non belief in the fact of evolution is Turkey ‘

    Of course there other countries and regions of the planet and areas within countries where non belief or ignorance of the fact of evolution is even greater than 40% e.g Afghanistan , Chad , Sudan , Djibouti etc .

    I would have included Northern Ireland along with the USA and Turkey but for two mitigating factors . One is that NI being part of the UK is lumped in with the UK and thus it’s particular regional percentage of unbelief in evolution as a fact is swamped by the belief in evolution as a fact by the vast majority of English< Scots and Welsh .

    Secondly a couple of years back DUP Northern Ireland Culture Minister claimed that a third of the Northern Irish population believe in creationism, and said that "the diversity of views" on this should be reflected in the region's museums. I can't vouch for Mr McCausland's estimate of one third but in any event 33.3% < 40% .

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jun/19/creationism-northern-ireland

  • Brian

    Okay, that makes more sense.

    Having lived in the USA for a little over a decade now, I still find that 40% figure hard to believe…Although if I left the urban areas and ventured out into the ‘heartlands’ I’d probably meet some creationists

  • Greenflag

    ‘Having lived in the USA for a little over a decade now, I still find that 40% figure hard to believe .

    Indeed . A country which produces 333 Nobel Prize winners to date as compared to the UK’s 109 or Germany’s 98 or Ireland’s 9 .Here is a Pew survey of the breakdown by descending percentages of non belief in evolution as the best explanation for the origin of human life on Earth or alternatively ‘creationists’ by denomination .

    Jehovah’s Witnesses’s 92%.
    Mormons 78%
    Evangelical Protestants 76%
    Historic Black Protestants 55%
    Muslims 49%
    Mainline Protestants 46%
    Orthodox Christians 42%
    Catholic 42%
    Unaffiliated 28%
    Jewish 23%
    Hindu 20%
    Buddhist 19%

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution

    There are probably significant differences within each denomination based on ethnic origins , educational achievement , location (urban v rural ) , north east versus south etc .

    The USA is NOT NYC or Boston or Chicago or Philadelphia. . Those four cities together make up a total population of at most 17 million out of 330 million or 5% of the total.

  • Mark

    What percentage of people in this country who claim to be catholic practice their religion in modern day Ireland ? Sex before marriage , living in sin , mass on a sunday , ash wed , lent , contraception , divorce , abortion etc etc ……..

    The numbers would be interesting …..

  • Roy Walsh

    Why the persistent concentration on a few unionist catholics rather than the many pro-reunion protestants?
    No, not all protestants are pro-UK

  • Harry Flashman

    “It’s said that some 40% of Americans don’t believe that evolution is a fact .”

    Ah yes, the uncritical belief in a massively dodgy, unproven theory that has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese is clearly the sign of a rational, discerning mind.

  • Mickles

    Ah the old ‘evolution is a theory’ chestnut. The Earth goes round the Sun is theory too. Not ‘a theory’, just ‘theory’. Read this real carefully: In science – the word ‘theory’ means Scientific Theory, which is not the same as regular theory – see the dictionary for meaning of the two words please.

    I’d be interested to hear what ‘holes’ you’ve found in the evolution, that can’t be plugged by opening your eyes and learning the information. There seems to be a need by religions types to put evolution and science on the same shelf as religion. Science allows for new information, such as is derived from facts, testing and verifiable data, to alter one’s line of thinking, religion does not.

    I’m not trying to get at anyone who has faith, I think it’s a good thing and can help so many, but to use it to affect public policy and interfere in people’s live who don’t necessarily subscribe to that particular brand of religion is unfair and wrong. As wrong as saying that your religion should determine how you feel about the unification of Ireland.

  • Brian

    “The USA is NOT NYC or Boston or Chicago or Philadelphia. . Those four cities together make up a total population of at most 17 million out of 330 million or 5% of the total.”

    Haha The only places I’ve lived here are NYC and Washington, DC. I guess I haven’t spent much time in deep red American…where nuts like Santorum actually find voters.

  • Harry Flashman

    You see Mickles you approach evolution with all the mindless fervour of a religious cult member, you will not even contemplate the heretical ideas that there might be any doubt in the absolute certainty of your dogma.

    Just for the record I am not remotely religious having abandoned the religion of my birth to convert meaninglessly to another religion to please my missus, that’s how little I adhere to any religious tenets.

    I don’t believe a man in the sky invented the world in seven days but being a rational person I also can’t accept that the simply mind-boggling complexity and sophistication of life on earth all came about by random selection. There has to be something more to it than those two deeply unsatisfactory theories which are held by such devotion by their respective followers.

    Religion was a way for primitive man to explain the unknowable, evolution is the means by which marginally more sophisticated men convinced themselves they had worked it all out.

    For me I’m open to admitting that we might possibly never know the origins of life, perhaps because it is beyond our feeble attempts to understand. I am a rationalist, I have a healthy dose of scepticism, something which fundamentalist Darwiniacs could learn to their benefit.

  • Mickles

    Harry, you said I “will not even contemplate the heretical ideas that there might be any doubt in the absolute certainty of your dogma” – you’re wrong, did you not read? I said “Science allows for new information, such as is derived from facts, testing and verifiable data, to alter one’s line of thinking”. If any new evidence or facts come to light then I’m happy to accept new information.

    You’re equating science with religion as competing theories, which is not the case.

    Have we found all the answers from science? No, not yet, but we’re not going to find the answers by looking to a text from the dark ages that never changes (unless a monarch wants to bang some new chick), we’re going to find them when we give precedence to scientific learning based on facts which may or may not change as new information comes to light. Not by teaching it as ‘a theory’ alongside creationism as two sides of an argument.

    Claiming that evolution is only ‘a theory’ is a trite response. Evolution deniers really need to learn the difference between ‘theory’ and ‘a theory’.

  • The yokel

    I don’t think scientists believe in scientific theories, you don’t hear them out crying in the wilderness about the 2nd law of thermodynamics or even Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Theories are considered to be the best current understanding of the natural world based on observation and tested by experiment.
    However belief in evolution is a mantra of militant atheism, which paradoxically appears to be the chosen faith of many today. I am not a religious person myself and like to think I am tolerant of other people’s beliefs, so I find bigotry disturbing.
    Paisley and Dawkins have much more in common than either would admit to.

  • Greenflag

    @ Harry ,

    The reason you happen to be on the planet earth as of now is due to a long train of fortuitous events stretching back to the very early universe when shortly after the Big Bang the number of matter particles was greater than the number of anti matter particles and thus gave rise to the material universe and everything in it . Had the numbers been equal there would have been nothing for when matter touches antimatter they both disappear .

    The ‘crashing ‘ of the mini planet Theta into the Earth gave us the Moon which slowed down the Earth’s spin and eventually made it possible to have life. There have been 4 major mass extinctions of life in the Earth’s history the first was Snowball Earth which lasted 25 million years a billion years ago which only microbial life survived , the second was great the Permian extinction which came from the 100,000 year long vulcanism which covered an area the size of the USA in Siberia known as the Siberian traps . That event was 250 million years and 95% of life on land became extinct and 80% of life in the sea . The prevalence of trilobites all over the planet prior to that extinction and the complete absence of same after that event in the thousands of fossilised trilobites can be seen in any half decent natural history museum anywhere . The London Natural History has about 20,000 fossils from that era. The third major extinction was extra terrestrial in origin whereas the other two were geologic . Some 65 million years ago the Earth was struck by a huge asteriod which crashed into the Yucatan peninsula and partially into the Gulf . This event is estimated to have wiped out the dinosaurs and given the earliest mammals their ‘opportunity’ to inherit the Earth .

    had it not been for those 3 major exterminations and several minor ones as well as fortuitous plate tectonic movements around the globe which changed weather and topography then hom sapiens would not be here and neither would several other species .

    Evolution is just life’s way of continuing to exist and it don’t much matter whether that life is human or non human or plant or avian or insect or bacteria or a lichen but if it can survive and adapt to live in a new environment it will and if it can’t it will become extinct . 99% of all the species that ever lived on Earth have become extinct and all for reasons over which they had no control . And had the isthmus of Panama not joined up North and South America and the Indian subcontinent not crashed into the Asian continent primates would not have evolved as they have .

    in 5 million years time the Meditteranean Sea will be gone and it will be replaced by the already named Mediterranean Mountains which will soar higher than the present Himalayas from Spain to Turkey and will probably leave thos e North of the range in a permanent Arctic zone and those south of it in a fertile plain .

    Science is not religion or faith . Science is subject to ‘proof’ and hard evidence . Faith is belief in the absence of evidence . Gravity is real and so is evolution .Neither is a God .

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Harry

    ‘…I also can’t accept that the simply mind-boggling complexity and sophistication of life on earth all came about by random selection.’

    Why not?

    Would you at least accept that more intelligent and knowledgeable minds than yours and mine HAVE accepted it?

    ‘…being a rational person…’

    Are you really being rational? Or are you being sectarian, and lining up against the liberals, that you so despise?

  • GF,

    Theia, after the mother of Selene, the moon goddess.

  • Harry Flashman

    @Mickles

    “we’re not going to find the answers by looking to a text from the dark ages that never changes”

    Straw man when it comes to me old chum.

    @Greenflag

    Ah my dear Greenie, how I do so envy the absolute certainty of your brilliant mind, thank you for enlightening me in so few paragraphs about the single most, unimaginably complex and fantastically incomprehensible conundrum; how life on earth came to be as it is today.

    It must be wonderful to know so much, it must be magnificent to be so assured that man, with his tiny brain, who a few short millennia ago was living bare-arsed in a mud hut and painting himself blue has suddenly worked it all out with such certainty and precision, truly marvellous. Your absolute faith in unproven theories, shows how clever you are, I salute you sir.

    @Billy Pilgrim

    “Why not?”

    Because I choose to think for myself and question what I am told.

    I am also humble enough to say that man may not be capable of understanding life, in the same way that a cockroach living behind a fridge, can not possibly comprehend what his environment is and how it came to be. A particularly bright cockroach may be able to grasp 0.0001% of what is going on around him and think himself a very “knowledgeable” cockroach but that does not mean he has cracked it all beyond any reasonable doubt.

    “Would you at least accept that more intelligent and knowledgeable minds than yours and mine HAVE accepted it?”

    I would of course accept that fact, in the same way I accept the fact that “more intelligent and knowledgeable minds” than mine once conclusively proved that the earth was flat and the sun moved around the earth. These terribly clever men held to their theories with the same certitude that evolutionists do today.

    “Or are you being sectarian, and lining up against the liberals, that you so despise?”

    Oh dear yet more straw men, I am incapable of being sectarian given my ridiculous religious history, it would be absurd.

    Furthermore far from despising liberals I am a genuine liberal (not left wing ideologue which people seem to conflate with liberalism), I think for myself, I question authority and I don’t impose my beliefs on others.

  • Greenflag

    @ harry flashman ,

    ‘how I do so envy the absolute certainty of your brilliant mind,’

    Not mine Harry but the minds of thousands of life scientists , paleontolgists, anthropologists , geologists , biologists , physicists , bio archaeologists and the results of their accumulated findings based on evidence and research over the past couple of centuries and from countries all over the world.

    BTW I’m absolutely certain of death and taxes and gravity and the fact of evolution.:)

    As to ‘man ‘suddenly working it all out with certainty and precision -I would’nt use the word all for there is much unknown and there probably always will be the ‘unknown’ -but our knowledge of the history of life and how we have come to be what we are today from a life origin (on Earth ) some 4 billion years ago is in the main ‘known’ if not by the general population then by the scientific community and those interested in the life sciences .

    ‘I am also humble enough to say that man may not be capable of understanding life, in the same way that a cockroach living behind a fridge, can not possibly comprehend what his environment is and how it came to be.’

    There are major differences in cognitive capacity between man and the cockroach or for that matter between a cat and a cockroach but all life on Earth shares the same kind of DNA. All life is one .As to how the first twitch of life came into existence on the early Earth some 3.8 billion years ago that is as yet not fully known but they are a lot closer to that understanding than they were 40 years ago or 400 years ago .

    As to humbling yourself before the more intelligent and knowledgeable minds than your own proving that the Earth was flat and the Sun moved around the Earth -well they did’nt . Had they had the benefit of modern technology they’d have corrected their misbeliefs . However no matter how far forward science progresses nobody in the future is going to prove that the Sun moves around the Earth and likewise nobody in the future is going to prove that ‘evolution’ is unproven theory .

    I’m delighted to hear you are a genuine liberal and think for yourself and question authority and somewhat relieved that you don’t impose your beliefs on others 🙂

    I could give you a reading list 200 tomes long but Richard Fortey’s book ‘LIfe ‘ a natural history of the first 4 billion years of life on Earth ‘ is a good intro for anybody who still remains unconvinced that evolution is a fact of life .

    Don’t worry -Evolution is not compulsory and you can take your time about it 🙂

  • Greenflag

    @ Andrew Gallagher

    ‘Theia, after the mother of Selene, the moon goddess.’

    Mother of God 🙂 lol pickey pickey

  • Greenflag

    @ harry flashman ,

    ‘For me I’m open to admitting that we might possibly never know the origins of life, perhaps because it is beyond our feeble attempts to understand”

    Now there you make a plausible point at least in respect of how exactly where and when did ‘life ‘ originate and whether it originated on the Earth or elsewhere in the universe – i.e this universe . And yes it is possible that we may be in the bigger picture not much more than the ‘ant ‘ forever circling the ball and never finding where the ball begins or ends .

    But if our species manages to hang around for another few millenia then I’m sure our descendants will know more than this generation as to the answers to the great questions . It’s conceivable that other life forms based on entirely different DNA structures somewhere else in the universe may have the ‘answers ‘ but they not be able to communicate them to us just as you would be unable to communicate with that ‘cockroach ‘ scurrying around the back of your fridge that he/she/it needs to find another place of abode or else 😉

    This thread has wandered far from it’s original universe so I’d better stop now before I enter the twilight zone 🙂

  • The yokel

    Too many atheists miss the point of religion, it’s about how to live your life, not what to believe.

  • Harry Flashman

    “thousands of life scientists , paleontolgists, anthropologists , geologists , biologists , physicists , bio archaeologists and the results of their accumulated findings based on evidence and research”

    Why does that bring to mind the little colony of cockroaches behind the fridge, interminably debating their origins and their universe?

    The oh so superior clever cockroaches confidently state as facts that the big metal box came about through spontaneous combustion of mannooki gas which then hardened into its current shape and that the world is heated and cooled by random openings of the great portal which blasts forth light, cool air and occasionally crumbs of food.

    The other more spiritual cockroaches tell you that a great cockroach in the sky many months and months ago spirited down the great box as a gift to his cockroaches on earth. Bless their little cockroach socks they argue with great vehemence over this issue for hours on end, each convinced of not simply the rightness but the righteousness of their beliefs.

    Interesting creatures cockroaches, they’ve been around in their current form for millions of years before man walked on the earth. Perfectly developed then as they are now. One time there were no cockroaches, then amazingly there were cockroaches. We have never found fossils of proto-cockroaches, just about to emerge into fully-evolved cockroaches. Some three legged cockroaches about to mate with seven legged cockroaches to create the randomly optimal six legged variety. Just cockroaches, as they are now, as they always have been. No sign of evolution whatsoever.

    How come in the millions of years they’ve been knocking around, billions of generations they haven’t evolved further, why are they not sending manned (cockroached?) flights to the moon given they had such a time advantage over us?

    Why have they never managed to evolve a way of righting themselves after they topple over on to their backs? In billions of generations of evolution the cockroach hasn’t come up with a way to deal with this design flaw other than to lie on his back wiggle his little legs until he dies.

    Evolution, it’s a perfectly water tight, absolutely, 100%, rooting-tootingly, no-doubts-may-be-entertained, total certainty, and only god-bothering rednecks waiting for Rapture could possibly question it in any way.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Yokel, that seems to me to be the fallback position of religious belief. When the mythical foundations of religious belief are exposed then those who can recognise this but still want religion as part of their lives often point to the structures of religion that help people lead better lives. This essentially is a kind of lifestyle choice. Go for it if you believe it does you good but I wouldn’t build a house on those kind of foundations.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I can’t seem to access comments 113-151. Is it just me, or is there a missing page here?

  • Greenflag

    Not just you Billy P . I noticed that too .Perhaps the powers that be haven’t noticed or its a tech error or somebody or something has not done those things which they ought to have done ? Who knows . I hope they’re restored or a reason given as to why they won’t be or can’t be ?

  • Harry Flashman

    They’re still there, including my extremely well-reasoned and wonderfully erudite cockroach theory, shame you can’t access it.

  • The yokel

    TS I have no particular religious belief,( I would class my self as a devout agnostic) but I find Dawkins as arrogant and dogmatic as ‘born agains’ like Paisley.
    It is an entirely artificial division to equate non- belief in evolution with with belief in religion i.e. many religious people have no problem accepting evolution, big bang theory etc.
    Below is an article by John Grey from the BBC web site

    “Too many atheists miss the point of religion, it’s about how we live and not what we believe, writes John Gray.
    When he recounts the story of his conversion to Catholicism in his autobiography A Sort of Life, Graham Greene writes that he went for instruction to Father Trollope, a very tall and very fat man who had once been an actor in the West End.
    Trollope was a convert who became a priest and led a highly ascetic life, and Greene didn’t warm to him very much, at least to begin with.
    Yet the writer came to feel that in dealing with his instructor he was faced with “the challenge of an inexplicable goodness”. It was this impression – rather than any of the arguments the devout Father presented to the writer for the existence of God – that eventually led to Greene’s conversion.
    The arguments that were patiently rehearsed by Father Trollope faded from his memory, and Greene had no interest in retrieving them. “I cannot be bothered to remember,” he writes. “I accept.”
    It’s clear that what Greene accepted wasn’t what he called “those unconvincing philosophical arguments”. But what was it that he had accepted?
    We tend to assume that religion is a question of what we believe or don’t believe. It’s an assumption with a long history in western philosophy, which has been reinforced in recent years by the dull debate on atheism.
    In this view belonging to a religion involves accepting a set of beliefs, which are held before the mind and assessed in terms of the evidence that exists for and against them. Religion is then not fundamentally different from science, both seem like attempts to frame true beliefs about the world. That way of thinking tends to see science and religion as rivals, and it then becomes tempting to conclude that there’s no longer any need for religion.
    This was the view presented by the Victorian anthropologist JG Frazer in his book The Golden Bough, a study of the myths of primitive peoples that is still in print. According to Frazer, human thought advances through a series of stages that culminate in science. Starting with magic and religion, which view the world simply as an extension of the human mind, we eventually reach the age of science in which we view the world as being ruled by universal laws.
    Frazer’s account has been immensely influential. It lies behind the confident assertions of the new atheists, and for many people it’s just commonsense. My own view is closer to that of the philosopher Wittgenstein, who commented that Frazer was much more savage than the savages he studied.
    I don’t belong to any religion, but the idea that religion is a relic of primitive thinking strikes me as itself incredibly primitive.
    Science helps us understand how the world works – but to what extent?
    In most religions – polytheism, Hinduism and Buddhism, Daoism and Shinto, many strands of Judaism and some Christian and Muslim traditions – belief has never been particularly important. Practice – ritual, meditation, a way of life – is what counts. What practitioners believe is secondary, if it matters at all.
    The idea that religions are essentially creeds, lists of propositions that you have to accept, doesn’t come from religion. It’s an inheritance from Greek philosophy, which shaped much of Western Christianity and led to practitioners trying to defend their way of life as an expression of what they believe.
    This is where Frazer and the new atheists today come in. When they attack religion they are assuming that religion is what this Western tradition says it is – a body of beliefs that needs to be given a rational justification.
    Obviously, there are areas of life where having good reasons for what we believe is very important. Courts of law and medicine are evidence-based practices, which need rigorous procedures to establish the facts. The decisions of governments rest on claims about how their policies will work, and it would be useful if these claims were regularly scrutinised – though you’d be well advised not to hold your breath.
    But many areas of life aren’t like this. Art and poetry aren’t about establishing facts. Even science isn’t the attempt to frame true beliefs that it’s commonly supposed to be. Scientific inquiry is the best method we have for finding out how the world works, and we know a lot more today than we did in the past. That doesn’t mean we have to believe the latest scientific consensus. If we know anything, it’s that our current theories will turn out to be riddled with errors. Yet we go on using them until we can come up with something better.
    Science isn’t actually about belief – any more than religion is about belief. If science produces theories that we can use without believing them, religion is a repository of myth.
    Myths aren’t relics of childish thinking that humanity leaves behind as it marches towards a more grown-up view of things. They’re stories that tell us something about ourselves that can’t be captured in scientific theories.
    Just as you don’t have to believe that a scientific theory is true in order to use it, you don’t have to believe a story for it to give meaning to your life.
    Myths can’t be verified or falsified in the way theories can be. But they can be more or less truthful to human experience, and I’ve no doubt that some of the ancient myths we inherit from religion are far more truthful than the stories the modern world tells about itself.
    The idea that science can enable us to live without myths is one of these silly modern stories. There’s nothing in science that says the world can be finally understood by the human mind.
    If Darwin’s theory of evolution is even roughly right, humans aren’t built to understand how the universe works. The human brain evolved under the pressures of the struggle for life.
    Through science humans can lift themselves beyond the view of things that’s forced on them by day-to-day existence. They can’t overcome the fact that they remain animals, with minds that aren’t equipped to see into the nature of things.
    Darwin’s theory is unlikely to be the final truth. It may be just a rough account of how life has developed in our part of the cosmos. Even so, the clear implication of the theory of evolution is that human knowledge is by its nature limited.
    It’s been said that the universe is a queerer place than we can possibly imagine, and I’m sure that’s right. However rapidly our knowledge increases, we’ll always be surrounded by the unknowable.
    Science hasn’t enabled us to dispense with myths. Instead it has become a vehicle for myths – chief among them, the myth of salvation through science. Many of the people who scoff at religion are sublimely confident that, by using science, humanity can march onwards to a better world.
    But “humanity” isn’t marching anywhere. Humanity doesn’t exist, there are only human beings, each of them ruled by passions and illusions that conflict with one another and within themselves.
    Science has given us many vital benefits, so many that they would be hard to sum up. But it can’t save the human species from itself.
    Because it’s a human invention, science – just like religion – will always be used for all kinds of purposes, good and bad. Unbelievers in religion who think science can save the world are possessed by a fantasy that’s far more childish than any myth. The idea that humans will rise from the dead may be incredible, but no more so than the notion that “humanity” can use science to remake the world.
    No doubt there will be some who are deeply shocked by Graham Greene’s nonchalance about the arguments that led him to convert to Catholicism. How could he go on practising a religion when he couldn’t even remember his reasons for joining it?
    The answer is that he did remember – but his reasons had nothing to do with arguments.
    Human beings don’t live by argumentation, and it’s only religious fundamentalists and ignorant rationalists who think the myths we live by are literal truths.
    Evangelical atheists who want to convert the world to unbelief are copying religion at its dogmatic worst. They think human life would be vastly improved if only everyone believed as they do, when a little history shows that trying to get everyone to believe the same thing is a recipe for unending conflict.
    We’d all be better off if we stopped believing in belief. Not everyone needs a religion. But if you do, you shouldn’t be bothered about finding arguments for joining or practising one. Just go into the church, synagogue, mosque or temple and take it from there.
    What we believe doesn’t in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Lol Harry. Sorry to have missed that!

  • Greenflag

    @ yokel ,

    I found myself nodding mostly in agreement at your epistle to the unbelievers/rationalists / scientists / atheists above until I got close to the end . There were a few points that struck me as worth commenting on as it seems you may have misread or misunderstood some comments.

    ‘Science has given us many vital benefits, so many that they would be hard to sum up. But it can’t save the human species from itself.’

    It could be argued that science has given man the capabability and know how to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth . Is this what you mean by ‘it can’t save humanity from itself ‘? Humanity is probably more likely to destroy itself in a nuclear armageddon or be destroyed by a major geological or extra terrestrial catacysmic event than anything else . And there is not a whole lot if anything that humanity can do to prevent or avoid the latter two exit methods if the dice falls on either of those sides.

    ‘They think human life would be vastly improved if only everyone believed as they do, when a little history shows that trying to get everyone to believe the same thing is a recipe for unending conflict’

    Well full marks for the obvious here . The medieval RC Church was very keen on conformity of belief so too was Mohammed so too was Calvin and so too are the ‘modern ‘ Ayatollahs .However those advocating belief in ‘evolution’ are not espousing any religion -they are simply the modern day equivalent of espousers of gravity, plate tectonics , or modern physics .

    ‘What we believe doesn’t in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.’

    Fair enough comment if what you believe in does’nt affect how you live your life but what if it does and lets say you believe that all westerners are infidels and Mohammad has told you to kill them ? We know from history that what some people believe can matter very much for other people who don’t share those beliefs. When Hitler was ranting about the Jews and Socialists and Gypsys and Communists there were many who scoffed and said he was just being a little crazy and that he’d never do anything if/when he got into power . When Mohammad said his faith would be spread by the sword he meant it . When the Popes gave their blessings for ethnic slaughter during the Crusades one presumes they meant what they said ?

    ‘What matters is how we live ? Well yes as long as you don’t try to impose any wacky belief systems on other’s simply because it’s the path of least resistance and makes for a trouble free earthly sojourn for your ‘saved’ as opposed to the great unwashed ?

    Perhaps

    ‘Never mind what they say but watch what they do’ would be a better guiding principle AND it does matter what people believe in particular if their beliefs are wacky enough to get themselves and hundreds , thousands and millions of people killed for reasons patently insane 🙁

    Hers a short list of belief sytems that have ‘mattered ‘ and some which still matter .

    Stalinism
    Nazism
    Islam
    Christianity
    Judaism
    Imperialism
    Capitalism
    Fascism
    Racism.

  • The yokel

    GF Apologies, I did not make it clear that most of what I posted was written by John Grey and copied straight from the BBC web site. I thought it was an excellent and thought provoking article so I posted it.
    I think ‘Never mind what they say but watch what they do’ is one of the points both he and I are trying to make, or as it says in the bible ‘by their fruits shall ye know them’. If I was Paisley I would be getting worried.

  • Greenflag

    ‘If I was Paisley I would be getting worried.’

    But why ? I can think of hundreds of other clerics on this island and in other parts of the world from all religions who ‘ought ‘ to be more worried if they truly believed their ‘faiths’ but then perhaps they never did and thus why would they worry if they’re not going anywhere other than a hole in the ground or up a chimney flue ?

    .And then there is the ‘forgiveness’ add on of most faiths in which those who have erred are forgiven in a form of soul therapy .

    There’s a lot worse out there than Paisley and frankly while I could never agree with the man’s politics I think it can be said that he has lived long enough to make a positive difference .

    I’ve probably been harsher on Paisley and his unique religion /politics combo than most and I probably regret some of the things I may have stated in the past about the Doc but for those who believe in a hereafter -don’t be too surprised if you ever get there to find the Rev Member for Ballymena off to one side in the non drinkers of the Devil’s Buttermilk lounge having a forever Chuckie brothers laugh in with his peers .

    I can accept evolution as a proven fact of life and the scientific method as the most important tool of material progress and also accept the artistic side of our nature’s as a critical component of our humanitarian advance . But I can’t prove there is a God nor can I prove there isn’t . That’s a matter of faith for those who have it -which I don’t . But there are times when I wish to God I could believe in a God which is they say the default position of the Irish atheist or perhaps even Irish agnostic ?

  • The yokel

    But there are times when I wish to God I could believe in a God which is they say the default position of the Irish atheist or perhaps even Irish agnostic ?
    Depends what you mean by God, GF. I suspect there are as many different answers to that as there are people who believe( or don’t believe) in a God

  • Mick Fealty

    Since te conversation has shifted, well worth listening to Eamonn’s interview with Michael Longley for the reference to Dawkins:

  • Greenflag

    @ yokel,

    No need to apologise it was thought provoking and I can agree that Richard Dawkins can be irritating for some but then thats the way of it . I used to find quite a few priests & bishops ‘irritating ‘ in their messaging and some quite frankly off the wall with a small number if not loathsome then bat shit crazy . But then there were also those who were first class teachers and were the best people you could ever meet in your life -regardless of your faith or non faith or denomination.

  • Greenflag

    @Mick ,

    Thanks for the video . I’m not into poetry apart from an odd personal sally into the rhyming (in the broadest sense ) McGonigalls ) but Michael Longley always comes across as a genuine ‘dacent ‘ and honest man for whose works the entire island should be grateful .

  • Greenflag

    @harry flash c/o cockroach zone somewhere in another universe

    ‘Interesting creatures cockroaches’

    True they don’t have an anus and they excrete through the soles of their feet . It’s got to get out somewhere ‘

    .’We have never found fossils of proto-cockroaches, just about to emerge into fully-evolved cockroaches.’

    Fossils are very rare anyway and 98% of all fossils found are from creatures which lived in the sea/oceans . Any creature which dies on land leaves no trace of it’s existence after a few years never mind millions of years . Those which do become fossilised are very rare indeed .

    ‘How come in the millions of years they’ve been knocking around, billions of generations they haven’t evolved further’

    They fill a niche and are perfectly adapted to it and as long as that niche continues to exist so will they .

    ‘ why are they not sending manned (cockroached?) flights to the moon given they had such a time advantage over us?’

    For a start they don’t have a hand with fingers which can make tools and secondly they lack the cognitive capacity -you may understand the phenomenon . Our hominoid ancestor Homo Erectus survived for a million years whereas Homo Sapiens has been around for maybe 150,000 so while time is important it’s not the only factor in evolution . Environmental change , climate change , geographical isolation and periodic mass exterminations of life forms by geological events related to plate tectonic activity and vulcanism as well as external -extra terrestrial asteroid impacts also are major factors .

    ‘Why have they never managed to evolve a way of righting themselves after they topple over on to their backs’

    They don’t have to . They are a successful species . Just like the millions of ‘bacteria ‘ that use the surface of the human body as a food court and the trillions of bacteria that live and die in your intestines all doing the necessary work which helps to keep you and I alive to provide them with a food source . Bacteria have been around for some 3.5 billion years on Earth and perhaps longer elsewhere and they’ll never fly to the Moon or drive a car or read a book but they’ll be around when the Sun explodes which won’t be the case for homo sapiens .

    Go and read Mr Darwin and stop reading those Jehovah Witness comicuts 😉