Article

Science and Religion not Equivalent

Hiv_micrographHere is some visual evidence about the difference between faith and science. This is an electron micrograph of 3 different forms of HIV. Scientists are studying the form of the virus to look for new ways to defeat it. They may still be a ways off from a cure, but they are working. You can bet they are working their asses off. I guarantee you there are grad students, researchers and others working 90 hour weeks to solve this problem. You can look at this as true humanitarianism.

What are churches doing about this issue? The same thing they’ve been doing since the 1980s when HIV first surfaced: Blaming the victims. Interfering with condom distribution worldwide. Marching and holding up signs that say "God Hates Fags." That’s what religions are doing.Godhatesfags

And when a cure is found, and billions of people worldwide are celebrating their newfound freedom to express their sexuality without fear, you can bet the churches will still be there. Grumbling, moralizing. I will be rejoicing when this cure is found. Because it turns out HIV has been killing people for centuries. But that’s not the only reason. When the cure for HIV is found, it will be one more nail in the coffin of the stale, ridiculous argument that bleats like an old broken record: "Science is just another belief system."

[UPDATE 02.12.06 – from the Pew center: There has been a reduction in the number of people in the last 20 years who think HIV is god’s punishment, but it still remains ridiculously high:

A similar pattern is evident in changing public attitudes on whether AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behavior. A generation ago, the public was closely divided on this issue: in 1987, 43% felt AIDS was a punishment from God while 47% disagreed. Now by nearly three-to-one (70%-24%), Americans reject that idea.

White evangelical Protestants (42%) and black Protestants (36%) are more likely to feel that AIDS is God’s punishment than are white mainline Protestants (20%), white Catholics (18%) and the non-religious (14%). Still, moralistic interpretations of the AIDS disease have dropped among all groups about equally.
http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=757]

(Lest you think I’ve created a straw man with regard to attitudes about science as just another belief system, check the links below the fold:)

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Faith_vs_science_with_regard_to_the_Wikipedia

http://www.creationtheory.org/Database/Article0

http://music.unm.edu/faculty_staff/shultis_new/articles/articles_synesthesia.htm

http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/articles/interview.htm

http://www.mountainastrologer.com/scofield.html

https://listhost.uchicago.edu/pipermail/ane/2002-January/000204.html

http://www.yorku.ca/ycom/profiles/past/may97/current/dept/dispatch/dsp4.htm

http://www.aish.com/spirituality/odysseys/Growth_Through_Rules.asp


Comments (7 comments)

Daniel O'Connell / January 27th, 2006, 11:57 pm / #1

Blacksun: After following and reading each of the pages you linked to I find it curious that none of these other sites mention AIDS. Maybe I missed something?

Anyway, I think that you are a little too far sweeping in your conclusions about what the “churches” are or are not doing in the fight against AIDS. You may recall in the case of at least one “church”, (Church Universal and Triumphant or CUT), that in the 80’s, your mother Elizabeth Clare Prophet hosted a program on cable access TV called “Summit University Forum.” This program featured guest speakers who were supposed leaders in their fields of science and pseudo science. CUT also encouraged the use of condemns and no one that I know ever referred to gays as “fags”

One program that comes to mind is where a certain Dr. Stryker?made the assertion that the AIDS virus was in fact man made.

I would hope that you could at least look at the issues you discuss with at least some of the objectivity that you seem to aspire to. Science and the scientific method is after all a system of information gathering and fact finding.

I would also add that without belief science would cease to exist. I am speaking of belief as a premise that is the first steps to experimentation. The need to believe as an essential part of our evolutionary makeup.

Conversely belief can and does so often exist without science or scientific reasoning. I for one would not want to live in a society without the art of science.

Francois Tremblay / January 28th, 2006, 12:42 am / #2

What the hell is “the art of science” ?

BlackSun / January 28th, 2006, 2:41 am / #3

Daniel:

The links were provided to show how prevalent is the idea that science is “just another belief system” in many schools of thought. You will see this stated in each of these links. The ongoing research and promise of a cure for HIV (and the startling 3D image of the virus) was an example of why this is not true. The image struck me because of its beauty—but we are looking at a major enemy of the human race. Science delivers concrete results in the fight against this type of enemy, day after day after day.

The “God Hates Fags” posters have been seen at rallies around the U.S. by radical fundamentalist zealots. Other zealots have called for expanding capital punishment to cover those caught committing homosexual acts. (And if you interpret the Bible literally, this is what it says should happen). These two scenarios can be seen in the excellent documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There.”

http://www.thegodmovie.com/

I wasn’t specifically addressing CUT’s position on condom use, but rather the Catholic Church, whose position is well known. This prohibition covers around a 1.1 billion Catholics, and kills at least tens of thousands in Africa alone each year. But CUT was not as tolerant as you think. My mom was vehemently opposed to homosexuality, and often referred to people who had gay sex as being like “animals.â€? She also specifically said in a staff meeting that her nemesis Gregory Mull was a “reincarnated black magician who brought homosexuality to the earth from another planet.â€? Really—I’m not making this up!

My point about this is that if it were up to the Catholics, or the 1 billion other christians, or the 1.3 billion muslims, we would consider anyone who contracted HIV to be a sinner who is deserving of their fate. There would not be any efforts to combat this dread disease, because it would be considered ‘god’s will’.

Research and genetic evidence traces HIV back at least 700 years and probably more. The idea that HIV is man-made is a pretty wild conspiracy theory with scant supporting evidence.

Here is an excerpt from a study entitled “The Black Plague, its Ramifications, and the CCR5-Delta 32 Deletion Mutation”, which shows a link between the Black Plague and HIV, documenting that HIV may have begun more than 700 years ago:

“The CCR-5 Delta 32 Deletion Mutation: How did Europeans survive the plague? A team of six scientists at the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Genetic Diversity in discovered that a genetic mutant (called CCR5) gave human carriers immunity against HIV and therefore AIDS (Cantor, 2001). The mutant CCR5 could only be traced back to seven hundred years ago. During the time of the Black Death, a pathogen that like HIV-1 utilizes CCR5 established an immunity in ancestral Caucasian populations. This shows a link between the Black Death and AIDS. Descendants from a Caucasian who contracted the plague in the mid-fourteenth century and survived, may have complete immunity to HIV/AIDS. It is believed that up to fifteen percent of the population falls into this category.”

As far as the need to believe is concerned, I think I addressed that in my post about the need for a sense of awe:

http://www.blacksunjournal.com/2006/01/buddhism_and_th.html

Both Carl Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan recognized this and wrote widely about it. The sense of awe is often a goad to devoting one’s life to science, but neither it nor belief are specifically required. (Maybe this is a semantic issue—we need to obviously trust our senses, because that is what we use to observe). What is required is that we eliminate our biases, so that we can be reasonably sure we are not being misled by either our senses or our equipment. Then we can proceed full steam ahead and gain the benefits.

Regarding your admonishment that I should be objective, I admit the post is a bit of a rant. I get emotional sometimes about stuff like this. But please tell me which statement I made that is not supported by the facts?

Mike Bommerson / January 29th, 2006, 12:11 pm / #4

I often participate in forums for the discussion between muslims and non-muslims in the Netherlands.
In the course of time I came to understand that the muslim holds his/her religion to be “God given but purely scientific”. (Many muslims that I spoke to even think that muslims did all the great inventions supervised by Allah… erm…)
Islam is not against birth control by the way, so not opposed to the use of condoms for that purpose. It is encouraged not to have more children than you can really support. On the other hand the use of condoms to be able to “play around” is strongly discouraged.

In the Dutch school system science and religion were more or less always presented as opposites. The idea that science is just another religion is absolutely not prevalent in our society. People tend to say that they don’t believe in any of the existing religions, but that “there’s definitely a higher force”. Not one that wants to keep us in check though.

Daniel O'Connell / January 30th, 2006, 7:20 pm / #5

Francois:

I think that even the simplest and seemingly mundane of tasks when entered into with imagination and creativity, can be raised to the level of an art.

BlackSun:

With respect to my comment about your non-objectivity, I was only trying to point out that your usage of “churches”, implies that all churches approach the discussion of HIV and AIDS, in the manner you portrayed. I gave as way of example, at least one church that did not share the sentiment that seems to be expressed, by the more fundamentalist of organized religions.

I agree your mother did not show the tolerance that I think she should have. Clearly, she had a great deal of difficulty with the same sex issue. In her later years (at the helm), she seemed to have tried to come to grips with homosexuality, when at one service, she described how long it had taken her, to just accept gay people for who they are and to love them.

Upon a second reading of your post, I realize that you did not even use the term “AIDS”; while the info I related was not HIV specific, but inlcuded AIDS as well. Sorry my mistake.

However, I feel no discussion of HIV and its ramifications e.g. leading to full-blown AIDS, can be entered into without a discussion of AIDS.

It was Dr. Strecker (not Stryker as I incorrectly stated), that your mother had on the S.U. Forum. Strecker an internist from L.A. CA., first stated in 1985, that HIV/AIDS was a man made disease. Details about the Strecker memorandum can be found here: http://www.eaec.org/dove/dove1994sp/is_aids_man_made.htm

Strecker states that there is evidence that the World Health Organization (WHO) created the AIDS virus (either intentionally or accidentally), durring the Smallpox vaccination program that took place in Africa in the early 1980’s.

A full length video can be downloaded here: http://www.thule.org/brains/aroundtheconspiracy.html

Alan Cantwell M.D. an AIDS and Cancer reseracher and author of two books on the subject tells of a connection between the Hepatitis-B virus and HIV AIDS. Cantwell purports that HIV/AIDS can be linked directly to a study that was done in Manhattan, New York in 1978. This study was done to create an effective a Hepatitis -B vaccine and used only homosexual male participants (1,000 gay males).

To further bolster his case, Cantwell sites that HIV appeared on the world stage in 1979, (one year later) in Manhattan.

Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis:

There is also group of researchers t(among whom is a Noble prize winning chemist) that say that any connection of HIV to AIDS has never been scientifically been proven. Dr. Kary Mullis, Biochemist, 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry:

“If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document.” (Sunday Times (London) 28 nov. 1993) See http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/controversy.htm

The Group for the Scientific Reappraisal of the HIV-AIDS Hypothesis, also offers an award of £1000 to anyone that can provide scientific documentation of the existance of any relationship of HIV to AIDS: http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/award.htm

It is frightneing to me to think that there are people as dense and closed minded as to believe that HIV or AIDS is God’s will or a curse from God. A simple reading of history, ought to be proof enough, that same sex realtions have gone on for a very long time.

But if the pics on your weblog are any indication, these kind of people do not read. IMO, the bible quotes mentioned in the picket signs held by the protesters, make no mention of homosexuality.

http://gaytoday.badpuppy.com/garchive/health/060997he.htm

http://www.politicalgateway.com/news/read.html?id=5420

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0917211251/ref=ase_politicalgate-20/102-6477827-5306523?n=283155&tagActionCode=politicalgate-20

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_for_the_Scientific_Reappraisal_of_the_HIV-AIDS_Hypothesis

http://www.unaids.org/en/Regions_Countries/Regions/default.asp

BlackSun / January 31st, 2006, 8:36 pm / #6

Daniel–

“she described how long it had taken her, to just accept gay people for who they are and to love them.”

As far as I know, she never really accepted them. She would have kicked any she found out about off staff right up until the end. And she also humiliated some people in “karmic readings” by talking about their “past lives” where they were gay and assigning them penance. That doesn’t sound like acceptance to me.

Re: Cantwell, Strecker, et. al, they do have some evidence on their side. But with all the money/politics/lives on the line, you’d think that they would have been listened to if there was any truth to their hypothesis. Also, 20 years is an eternity in science. I think it’s long enough for their theories to have been vetted or rejected. But I’m not closing the door to the fact that they may be right. It’s just that right now, to me, it doens’t seem like the evidence points in that direction. (But it’s a good alternate point of view to keep in mind–thanks for reminding me.)

Daniel O'Connell / January 31st, 2006, 10:57 pm / #7

BlackSun:

During a service that was given in 1998 your mother made the comment that it had taken her a very long time to love homosexuals to just accept them for who they are. She had a lot of moments during this time in which she publicly mentioned mistakes she had made and asked for forgiveness to anyone she had harmed or wronged. Granted I think she still would have kicked any practicing gay people off of staff or out of the membership.

Re: HIV/AIDS, what evidence? There appears to be no scientific evidence which proves that HIV is the cause of AIDS. the 1993 Noble prize winner Dr. Kary Mulls, The inventor of polymerase chain reaction has this to say

“We have not been able to discover any good reasons why most of the people on earth believe that AIDS is a disease caused by a virus called HIV. There is simply no scientific evidence demonstrating that this is true.” http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/data/kmforeword.htm

Many scientists and researchers have joined a petition on the virus myth website, challenging the conventional wisdom that HIV causes AIDS. It is a discussion that I think anyone concerned about AIDS or just humanity in general, should be having.

If there really is no scientific evidence (as the group from virusmyth.net and many other very smart Ph.D, scientific minded people assert) to support a causal connection between HIV and AIDS, then perhaps everything we are told to believe about HIV/AIDS is a big fat lie.

of course the equation then comes down to, who stands to benefit from such a hoax? My money would be on the pharmaceutical industry and in a darker twist, the the Population Council http://www.popcouncil.org/hivaids/index.html

Check it out for yourself. Pretty shocking stuff.

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