Creationist Wisdom #572: God, Not Science

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in The Southern Illinoisan of Carbondale, Illinois. The letter is titled God, not science, is the basis for truth. The newspaper has a comments section.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Stanley. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

In response to Jon Alexander’s recent column When ‘God’ Kills Progress, I say He does not.

The column Stanley linked to is a good one, blasting a bible-quoting, science-denying Congressman over the issue of climate change. Stanley supports the science-denier. He says:

Where would our world be without Isaac Newton (physics), Louis Pasteur (biology), Werner von Braun (Apollo space missions), Raymond Damadian (MRI) and many other Bible-believing scientist?

We see that a lot, although they never mention Galileo. Yes, there have been and still are religious scientists. But the scientific ideas they’re known for weren’t in scripture. Nothing in science has ever been based on Genesis. Then Stanley gives us some counter-examples:

On the other hand, secular evolution has spawned such “reasonable” thinkers as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who combined to murder over 30 million people.

Aaaargh!! Hey, that’s how these people think. They’re completely unhinged from reality. Stanley continues:

Leviticus doesn’t address thermonuclear reactions. [The earlier column mentioned that.] It does address conservation (chapter 7), personal hygiene (15), human dependence on blood (17), sexual immorality (18), caring for the poor (25), and many other issues, if you actually read it.

Should we bother to chase down those examples of biblical science? Okay, okay. Here’s what Leviticus 16 teaches us about hygiene: There are a few passages about washing before sacrificing a young bullock. That’s good to know. What about blood? Leviticus 17 talks about sprinkling the blood of sacrifices on the altar. Wait — there’s more. Verses 10 and 11 say:

10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Stanley’s right. That’s great science! Here’s more:

God affirms government and obedience to it (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). History gives valuable insight about governments. Those that respect God and the Bible prosper, while those that ignore God and use the Bible for toilet paper don’t.

Yeah, the bible is a great handbook for government. But for some reason, the American Constitution doesn’t establish a biblical monarchy.

Then Stanley criticizes Al Gore for traveling around in a Lear jet. That’s fine. Your Curmudgeon is no fan of Al Gore. Moving along:

God did promise Noah that “while the earth remains…seed time and harvest…shall not cease”. Conversely, the Climate Research Institute in England has been implicated in using bad data to promote the climate change agenda.

Yeah, okay. God promised there will be no climate problems. And now we come to the end:

So it all comes down to trust for me. Regarding this global “threat”, do I put my faith in highly speculative (and sometimes humanly manipulated) computer models, or the highly reliable word of God? I’ll stick with the word of God.

Well, that was mostly about climate change, which isn’t a big topic around here, but the anti-science attitude and the style of argument are the same as those used by creationists, so this is a good letter for our collection.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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30 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #572: God, Not Science

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    The bible explains about blood, that is his defense of it as being scientific? WOW.

  2. Where would our world be without Isaac Newton (physics), Louis Pasteur (biology), Werner von Braun (Apollo space missions), Raymond Damadian (MRI) and many other Bible-believing scientist?

    Werner von Braun, renowned for using slave laborers who were worked to death at Peenemunde. Of course, that’s justified in the Bible, so Stanley has a point.

    And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

    So anyone who eats a rare steak is destined for the Lake of Fire? This may offend plenty of Stanley’s fundagelical core audience.

    Then Stanley criticizes Al Gore for traveling around in a Lear jet. That’s fine. Your Curmudgeon is no fan of Al Gore.

    Yes, because Gore’s a Democrat. That saves Stanley and yourself from having to think any further. Me, although I’m not a Democrat, I hail him for having done more than just about anyone to publicize the danger of climate change. He’s right up there alongside (Republican) Jim Hansen.

  3. Dave Luckett

    Well, let’s go through this garbage, as a sort of five-finger exercise for the keyboard:

    “Where would our world be without Isaac Newton (physics), Louis Pasteur (biology), Werner von Braun (Apollo space missions), Raymond Damadian (MRI) and many other Bible-believing scientist?”

    Almost certainly we’d be where we are now, since their religious beliefs had nothing to do with their contributions to science. Newton was a unitarian and therefore in heresy. Werner von Braun’s occasional Lutheranism did not prevent him from joining the Nazi party or the SS, although his later conversion to evangelical Christianity might have been caused by conscience.

    “On the other hand, secular evolution has spawned such “reasonable” thinkers as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who combined to murder over 30 million people.”

    Obviously untrue. None of those monsters ever knew or cared about “secular evolution”. Hitler actually denied it; Stalin promoted a weird inversion of it; Pol Pot… who knows? The writer is not promoting a mere misapprehension. What he has written is a flat lie.

    “Leviticus doesn’t address thermonuclear reactions. It does address conservation (chapter 7), personal hygiene (15), human dependence on blood (17), sexual immorality (18), caring for the poor (25), and many other issues, if you actually read it.”

    Sure it does. It lays down all sorts of precepts. All of them it bases on divine authority, not observation of nature. My actual favorite comes from Deuteronomy 23:13, which provides that when on campaign every man is to carry a trowel with which to bury his feces outside the camp, lest the Lord, who travels with the army, be offended by the sight thereof. Sensible practice, yes. Germ theory of disease, no.

    “God affirms government and obedience to it (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2).”

    Actually, Paul asserted that God appoints all governments, from which it would follow that it is untrue that governments are instituted by the people. Whoever wrote Peter 1 implies the same. Secular democracy, therefore, isn’t biblical.

    And there, in that uncompromising espousal of theocracy, we have the real danger that festers in minds like the writer’s.

    History gives valuable insight about governments. Those that respect God and the Bible prosper, while those that ignore God and use the Bible for toilet paper don’t.

    The Roman empire commonly trashed the Jewish Bible and threw Christians to the lions in the time of its greatest strength. After it officially adopted Christianity, it went into rapid and terminal decline.

    Christianity began to lose its hold on the west with the Enlightenment, and the decline of Christianity after the mid-nineteenth century coincides with the apogee of western hegemony, rapid advance in knowledge, and social improvement.

    That’s two counter-examples, both very significant. The claim is thus falsified.

    Lear jets carry attendees to climate change conferences. Al Gore has an opulent California beach front home. Is this about “prolonging the existence of the species” or about power over the species? God did promise Noah that “while the earth remains…seed time and harvest…shall not cease”. Conversely, the Climate Research Institute in England has been implicated in using bad data to promote the climate change agenda.

    So it all comes down to trust for me. Regarding this global “threat”, do I put my faith in highly speculative (and sometimes humanly manipulated) computer models, or the highly reliable word of God? I’ll stick with the word of God.

    Ah. So from evolution denial, we wander away in the direction of denial of anthropogenic climate change, plus vague conspiracy theory, plus general refusal to consider any and all evidence, plus mudslinging. Goes with the creationist territory.

    Seed time and harvest won’t cease, or if they do, we can take it that the earth no longer remains – or at least the one we know doesn’t. I hope that the seed will not be sown, nor the harvest reaped, by starving peasants at stoop labor in barren fields ravaged by drought, but if that were to be, it would be consonant with God’s promise to Noah. I hope we can contrive something better. I think probably we can, but if we don’t, it will partly be down to fools like this writer.

  4. “The bible explains about blood, that is his defense of it as being scientific? WOW.”

    No doubt the reference is to the Torah scripture “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” It is a favorite among “creation science” advocates because they follow it up with, “In ancient times when other cultures started bloodletting the sick, a dangerous practice which continued for many centuries right up until George Washington died from, the Hebrews already knew that the blood was essential to life and not merely a waste product to be removed.” Ken Ham likes to bring this up and say that blood-letting shows “yet another error of man-based ‘science’ that was sure that sick people needed their blood removed until they got better. So much for Science!”

    Of course, Ham doesn’t know what Science is. Blood-letting was NOT the result of the Scientific Method. It was based upon ancient philosophies concerning the “balancing of humours” where the person was sick because of that imbalance and getting rid of some blood would restore that balance. Ham doesn’t understand that while empirical science in Europe had largely ended the blood-letting which they had learned centuries before from Galen’s writings. [Yes, the physician to the Roman gladiators.] Unfortunately, in the American Colonies where there weren’t many medical schools, medical science had yet to catch on, George Washington was bled to death because of ancient tradition, not science.

    So, Ken Ham & Co., once again you got the science wrong.
    ___________________________

    P.S. Here’s a fun fact to know and tell: Over half of the entire corpus of surviving text from ancient Greece was authored by Dr. Galen (M.D.) So it is no surprise that his ideas on the practice of medicine dominated Europe for around thirteen centuries or so.

  5. ““Where would our world be without….”

    Isn’t it annoying when people pretend that if some particular famous scientist hadn’t discovered/invented this or that, we’d have had to do without their discovery/invention to this day? Do they really think that some other scientist would not have made those contributions to science?

  6. “Germ theory of disease, no.”

    In those terms? No. But the Leviticus text does stipulate quite elaborate personal hygiene, sanitation, quarantine, and sterilization procedures in order to stop infectious diseases, rashes, fevers, and even dangerous mold getting established on residences, clothing, and other personal items. These health maintenance rules and procedures in Leviticus would not be standard in other cultures until not all that long ago. So this is a situation where the ancient Hebrews were way ahead of other cultures.

    Now this is a situation where stereotypical Torah-haters are bound to say, “But Leviticus only said to do all of that stuff in order to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, not to avoid disease.” WRONG. The text of Leviticus also said that if the Children of Israel would observe these health and hygiene regulations, they would suffer “none of these diseases” which were common among neighboring cultures. So that portion of Torah Law was enacted for both reasons. In ancient Hebrew culture, ceremonial cleanness/uncleaness and actual physical/literal cleanliness were closely linked. Of course, in a pre-scientific culture where people had no concept of microbes nor the physiology of bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi, and yeasts, linking hygiene and health practices together, to integrate all/everything into the overall life of the culture (i.e., both the tangible and intangible, spiritual and material), is hardly surprising.

    The bottom line is that the health and hygiene regulations of the Torah would have been quite effective, especially in contrast to the standard practices found in other cultures of the ancient world. (For that matter, they would be quite effective and a marked improvement in many areas of the world today.)

  7. As much as I’ve written over the years in shredding a lot of Young Earth Creationist nonsense, in this instance I have the rare opportunity to commend them in getting at least one science-related topic correct with the Leviticus references to health and hygiene regulations. Unfortunately, by affirming Senator Inhofe’s ridiculous claim that the post-flood Genesis passage “summer and winter…shall not cease” means that “Global warming is a hoax!”, they managed to cancel out and disqualify themselves from any pat on the head that might have been coming their way. Apparently Inhofe thinks that “climate change” means no more seasonal changes. It just goes to show that “creation science” often manages to butcher Biblical hermeneutics just as badly as they butcher real science. Wow. (That takes a modicum of talent…of a sort.)

  8. Those that respect God and the Bible prosper, while those that ignore God and use the Bible for toilet paper don’t.

    Wow. They got yet another one wrong. The Sinaitic Covenant (the Torah) promises prosperity in exchange for obedience; disaster in exchange for failing to worship God and obey the Torah. The other covenants of the scriptures (such as the New Testament) make no such promises to everybody else. So unless the original author of the quoted statement is a citizen of ancient Israel, that simplistic formula does not apply. In fact, the New Testament (i.e., the New Covenant, aka the New Contract) even says that the followers of Jesus will suffer much and do without prosperity because “Is a servant better than his master?” and Jesus was the master who said “the Son of Man has not a place to rest his head to sleep”.

    So it does indeed sound like we are dealing with a OT Theocracy brand of confused person.

  9. So anyone who eats a rare steak is destined for the Lake of Fire?

    No. You are confusing the covenants. In ancient Israel, where the Torah (the Pentateuch) was both the national constitution of the Nation of Israel and the loyalty oath of every citizen, violating the dietary laws was basically an outward renunciation of one’s oath of citizenship. It also was a breaking of the formal contract between God and the nation, and that contract said that the prosperity and security of the nation was dependent upon that obedience. That is why various “minor infractions”–especially those acts which represented one’s adopting the ritual practices involved in the worship of the gods of the neighboring nations (e.g., drinking blood, cooking a calf in the mother’s milk, wearing mixed fabrics, etc.)–were such serious crimes. Yes, eating a rare steak today is a matter of taste in much of the world. Yet, in ancient Israel it was an act of defiance stating that one had decided to defy society, to ignore the laws of God and men, to renege on one’s loyalty oath of citizenship, and to shake one fist at one’s entire family, tribe, nation, and YHWH.

    [Many nations today also have serious criminal penalties for “minor” acts which people from other cultures would find harsh and even baffling. For example, wearing the Nazi swastika in the wrong context in various European nations following WWII was (and still is to an extent) a serious crime punishable quite harshly. Yet, in many parts of Asia where that same symbol is basically a “good luck charm” and a wish for world peace and prosperity, the anti-swastika laws in Germany and Austria (for example) seem bizarre, illogical, and silly. Of course, whenever members of one culture judge the culture of another, there are bound to be strong reactions because of very different perspectives.]

    As to “the Lake of Fire”, that is part of The New Contract (or to put it in King James Bible terms, The New Testament” or The New Covenant.” The Lake of Fire was not a Torah provision for punishment. In the New Testament is described as the place originally prepared for the judgment of Satan and his demons (the fallen angels.)

    So, to mix eating a rare steak with the Lake of Fire is analogous to mixing Judaism and Christianity.

  10. My html tags are starting to mismatch so it is time to call it a night.

  11. “We see that a lot”
    But this combination is new:

    “Where would our world be without ….. Werner von Braun (Apollo space missions) ….. and many other Bible-believing scientist?”
    “secular evolution has spawned such “reasonable” thinkers as Hitler”
    See, before entering the Apollo space mission the Bible-believing scientist Von Braun worked at Peenemünde

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

    paid by the very same Hitler. And our Bible-believing scientist had exactly zero problems with slavery:

    http://www.dora.uah.edu/slavelabor.html

    That’s what happened when Von Braun put his faith in the word of Stanley’s god ….

    Ah, Realthog beat me.

  12. According to Wikipedia, V2 rocket attacks against Allied targets resulted in about 9,000 deaths.

  13. Re “In response to Jon Alexander’s recent column When ‘God’ Kills Progress, I say He does not.”

    God does not kill progress … ? Has the gentleman ever heard of the great Flood. I believe progress was set back the better part of a thousand years, no?

  14. And as to what this dude and Pro Tertius says does not matter as most xtians, who have never read the buyBull, state that jesus’ death negated the OT and so they don’t count no more (except for evil gay stuff). Also jesus stated that the ‘health practices’ of the OT are no longer needed as in ‘you don’t need to wash your hands’. But then much of the torah is not very logical or scientific as it is just old men giving orders.
    For the most part the dude is just another LIAR4jesus, lying, knowing not too many xtians will bother to do much more then nod their heads in agreement.

  15. Diogenes' Lamp

    I am still hoping Prof. Tertius, as I previously requested, will present us with a link to the discussion he mentioned in a recent thread– of failing a link, at least some clues to assist us in googling:

    when I pointed out to a anti-evolution blogger that he can’t rationally call Science a religion when in another blog article the week before he had complained that Science always refuses to recognize the transcendent, he told me, “Our critics use equivocation fallacies all the time so we can too. Science is full of contradictions–such as light being called both a wave and a particle–so we can play by the same rules. If they don’t have to be consistent, we don’t either. It’s all a part of post-modernist thinking.”

    Extensive googling has so far failed.

  16. Diogenes' Lamp

    Dave Luckett, great takedown.

    Actually, Paul asserted that God appoints all governments, from which it would follow that it is untrue that governments are instituted by the people

    It would also mean that God appointed the governments of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., so God is to blame for totalitarianism, even atheist totalitarianism

    If you believe this, how can people ever be held accountable for supporting bad governments? If you voted for George W., were you exercising your free will– or did God make you do it– like when God discarded free will and made Pharaoh prolong the suffering of the Israelites?

  17. Extensive googling has so far failed.

    That’s because the fellow took down his website some years ago and is no longer a Young Earth Creationist. Apparently he quit paying for his domain renewal because the domain ended up the property of one of those domain squatter companies. The last I heard from him, he had accepted the fact that the universe is billions of years old. Whether or not he ever came to accept The Theory of Evolution, I don’t know.

    Several years ago I tried to look him up in the Way Back Machine archives but couldn’t find him. I first learned of him through a Newsgroup [remember those?] where he promoted both his ideas and his website. That was probably around 1995 (??) when the word “blog” had not been coined yet but the phenomenon existed in the form of what were simply called “personal websites”. [It wasn’t that hard to simply add a link to the top of one’s index.html page that took readers to the new page that contained the latest blog entry, even though the word “blog” was not in the dictionary yet. Some people back then called each day’s thoughts a “diary entry” but now we would call it a blog.] The guy was an old-style Christian Reconstructionist and probably slept under a huge poster of R. J. Rushdoony. He would post every day on the Newsgroup and remind everyone to read all of his “creation science wisdom” on his website.

    Whether he now accepts The Theory of Evolution, I don’t know. Of course, twenty years later he could also be long dead.

  18. Diogenes’ Lamp, I don’t always read the comments on this blog so if you post a question again and I don’t respond, you can message me through the Bible.and.Science.Forum address or https://bibleandscienceforum.wordpress.com/

  19. I’m always depressed when I see people as ignorant as Stanley are from my home state. Then I remember everything south of I-80 is basically a colder version of Alabama.

  20. What the heck happened to I-80. My zero turned into an o. Maybe I’m channeling Stanley.

  21. History gives valuable insight about governments. Those that respect God and the Bible prosper, while those that ignore God and use the Bible for toilet paper don’t.
    Which governments lasted the longest?
    Should we mention the sequence of Egyptian dynasties? China? How about the Japanese emperors? Should we mention as the longest-lived Christian dynasty the Papacy?

  22. Mnbo wrote: “And our Bible-believing scientist [von Braun] had exactly zero problems with slavery.”

    Von Braun was raised Lutheran and joined the church but by all indications and reports, both from von Braun himself and his friends/family, he did not become that “Bible-believing scientist” until the early 1960’s. As to von Braun having “zero problems with slavery”, in researching this years ago, I was not able to resolve that question. Slave laborers who later testified that von Braun did nothing to protest their terrible treatment would not have been able to observe von Braun throughout his visits to know whether he objected or not. (Also, many of those reports did not check out in terms of Nazi records telling where von Braun–and the airplane provided him at government expense– was working on various dates. Slave laborers who survived and testified often turned out to have misidentified who was who among the various engineers and VIPs who checked on progress at the various facilities.

    Even so, von Braun’s feelings at any particular point in time is largely a moot point in terms of improving the terrible conditions of the slave laborers. People who protested what the brutal Nazis did at such places had a habit of ending up dead on the spot. (And even von Braun was eventually arrested and imprisoned for a while by the Gestapo.) Even common sense tells us that any protests by von Braun would have made no difference whatsoever. Some claim that von Braun could not have reached his rank without being fully in favor of everything that the Nazis were doing but anybody familiar with the compromises and inconsistencies of the Nazis when war effort pragmatics trumped ideology know that rank alone did not necessarily tell us much about an individual German’s personal beliefs and sympathies. [As discovered by the Allies in compiling evidence of war crimes at various “death camps”, it seemed like with everything the Germans did, the rules were followed/ignored/made-up according to how those in charge felt inclined at a given moment. Of course, I’m referring to the general trend that developed once it was clear that the war was becoming more and more difficult and hopeless. In fact, various of the brass even implored the bosses to force those in charge at Peenemunde and other sites to ease up on the slaves because if they killed off many more, there would be not enough left to do the necessary work.]

    Nevertheless, I would not be in the least surprised if it were actually proven that von Braun (to at least some degree) favored forced labor if it helped further his rocketry research goals. He admitted that as a young engineer many years before his “born again experience” in the early 1960’s, he was virtually obsessed with amassing a long list of personal achievements. Moreover, the allies sanitized the incriminating histories of virtually every Nazi whose brains were needed in the Cold War which soon followed the war, so it can be very hard to ascertain the actual facts from the remaining Nazi records. [German bureaucracy was legendary and the vast archives of records left by the Nazis was a prosecutor’s dream. But we had “Joe” aka JIOA (Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency) to carry out the President’s order to deprive Stalin of the best German scientists. We ignored Truman’s rules about not including any Nazis and pro-Hitler Germans because otherwise the Soviets would have gotten all of the best talent. You may have seen History Channel documentaries talking about Operation Paperclip (though it was originally Operation Overcast because one of the safe houses where German VIP talent were kept for a while became known as “Camp Overcast”.) Paperclips were needed to attach the false biographies and bogus work histories quickly generated to allow the German scientists to get processed into the USA and even their eventual security clearances! So by the time von Braun’s dossier would have gone through the routine bureaucracy, he looked pure as the driven snow or at least close enough to innocence to get his necessary papers.]

    Young Earth Creationist “creation science” ministries like to point to von Braun as one of their prime examples of “a great scientist who was also a creationist Christian” so they are emphatic that von Braun was simply following orders when “forced” to work for the Nazis. We will probably never know all of the relevant facts about von Braun’s loyalties and thoughts during the war. However, we do know that his post-war religious proclivities (and his “born again” experience which he freely discussed in his later years) were quite different from the staunch and private brand of German Lutheranism of his family background and early life. Those who evaluate a person’s self-description as a “Christian” as if it were a simple Boolean state will miss so much of the complex reality of someone like von Braun. Most of us are very different people in our fifties and in old age than we were as young adults, and the differences can be even more radical when our war-time experience and aftermath drastically changed us. [With WWII, it was not just combat itself that changed so many of my generation. It was often the aftermath of the carnage and the mental images, the frozen moments of time that stick with you and sicken the stomach. It’s not just the scene itself which seers one’s memories and reappears at any moment, even while dreaming about something else in your sleep. It’s also the indescribable stench, the buzzing of the flies, and the background noise which included that distinctive, halting slow-shuffle of the camp inmate whose eye gaze is vacant and dead and whose internal organs have already shut down and can’t be saved… and even the dreadful sounds which accompany the decomposition of stacked corpses. I don’t recall seeing anyone writing about that last element but that’s what still sickens me the most. I digress. My point is that I have little difficulty grasping that the Werner von Braun I met only briefly in the 1960’s was a very different man with very different beliefs than the 30-something engineer at Peenemünde.

    Obviously, presuming and casually linking pro-slavery sentiments with someone being “Bible-believing” is simplistic at best. [I’m not saying that Mnbo did that. I mention it only because I often see that linkage debated on various Internet discussion forums.] The American abolitionist movement led by a great many Bible-believing ministers was an obvious counter-example. Of course, Young Earth Creationist ministry leaders carefully avoid mentioning the fact that Charles Darwin & family were the biggest financial supporters of prominent anti-slavery ministers in the States–and most YECs ignore the fact that when Darwin died, American newspapers published Sunday sermons eulogizing “the oppressed African’s greatest friend.” Despite denialist propaganda, Darwin and his theory were not universally denounced by “Bible-believing ministers” in the nineteenth century. Even Dr. Benjamin Warfield, “the Father of Biblical Inerrancy” doctrine, who fundamentalist Christians laud so glowingly, was very pro-Darwin and his science.

  23. TomS wrote: “Should we mention as the longest-lived Christian dynasty the Papacy?”

    I had never thought of it that way but the word “dynasty” probably comes closest to describing the Papal line, even though, technically speaking, a dynasty requires a line of successors in the same family. Yet, I’m willing to stretch the term and treat each “Vicar of Christ on earth” as “an adopted son of Peter” with a bit of a wink.

    Of course, historically speaking, the problem of priests, cardinals, bishops, and archbishops (from which the Pope was chosen) bequeathing their office and amassed property to a son was why the celibacy of priests was adopted into Roman Catholic tradition. What a great way to address what had already become a major problem and putting a pious twist on it. (Celibacy was yet another way to emphasize how separate and superior were clergy over and above everybody else.) I am resisting the urge to cite many interesting and even humorous anecdotes from papal history.

    As to “Those that respect God and the Bible prosper”, I would like to ask the author of that comment if that would be the conclusion from reading Hebrews 11. Martyrdom, even sometimes involving “being sawn asunder”, hardly sounds like earthly “prospering” to me!

  24. Re the great scientist Von Braun.
    He was an engineer. I am not aware of any scientific endeavors.

  25. He was an engineer. I am not aware of any scientific endeavors.

    Von Braun compiled enormous quantities of very important scientific data and analyzed that data from countless experiments to test a great many scientific hypotheses. However, virtually everything he did for the Germans (such as the V-2 rocket project) and for the USA (in the Cold War space race) was classified. His scientific papers were basically internal documents which could only be read by people with security clearances.

    While it is certainly true that most engineers spend most of their time implementing already established science, an aeronautical engineer like von Braun who is working at the boundaries of science to discover new properties of never before produced metal alloys and novel craft configurations, air flow and water flow around wings, fins, and fluidics in general, Venturi and Bernoulli forces in wind tunnel experiments, and you-name-it was truly engaged in “rocket science”,”fluid dynamics”, metallurgy, and . It would be interesting to see what all of von Braun’s science has been made public under the Freedom of Information Act and even the auto-declassification of Top Secret documents, etc.

    I always heard that he was a poor student of mathematics and physics in his younger years. I don’t know if he ever addressed that deficiency or if he simply depended upon the many scientists on his staff (including his brother) who were stronger in such areas.

    Everybody I ever knew who actually worked with von Braun at NASA said that he was an incredible administrator/manager of people and was able to foster a productive atmosphere and team efforts under difficult, stressful conditions of what was truly a space race. (In fact, even after the Gestapo had imprisoned von Braun to prevent his heading to the ever approaching American forces, Hitler himself approved von Braun being returned to work because they told Hitler that only with von Braun leading them could the desperately needed, last ditch effort wonder-weapons be developed.) So whatever his skills as a scientist–which were significant in any case–he apparently had that rare combination of administrative, management, and engineering skills which made incredibly breakthroughs possible. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been a scientist “star” in a publish-or-perish university environment, everybody at JIOA (Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency) considered delivering von Braun stateside one of their greatest accomplishments. (I remember several of the bigshots talking as if they were almost entirely responsible for “winning him over” as if von Braun somehow had to be convinced of anything…..when, in fact, it was Werner’s brother who loudly announced in his accented English to every American G.I. he saw at the front “My brother designed the V-2!” and something like “We want to join you!”

    [Mac von Braun, Wernher von Braun’s brother (“Wernher” was the spelling on most of the original paperwork), was no slouch himself. He was another important rocket engineer at Peenemunde and for a long time was Wernher’s assistant. However, his brother eventually put him in charge of gyroscope modules that were essential to rocket guidance systems. (Some people at the time mistakenly called him “Max” but his nickname was actually “Mac” and was short for Magnus von Braun.) A lot of the G.I.’s laughed when telling about Magnus riding up to the American forces on his bicycle with some white rags or handkerchiefs tied to look like surrender flags. It’s a wonder that he didn’t get shot because at the time there was concern that as we got farther into German, there would be desperate Nazis willing to sacrifice themselves by being human bombs intent on taking as many American soldiers with them as they possibly could. But Magnus had good enough English that the troops seeing him approaching with surrender flags (as he did on that bicycle) and speaking English instead of German, it apparently provoked enough curiosity and seemed harmless enough that everybody just froze and watched to see what was happening. It didn’t take that long to assess the situation and Magnus rode his bicycle back up the pass to rejoin Wernher and some other of the engineers so that they could all turn themselves in at the frontline. The last I heard, Magnus von Braun worked for Chrysler in Europe importing their vehicles and he retired to the American Southwest. He was considered to be a great manager, like his brother. A lot of German’s were skilled managers and bureaucrats and together with a lot of great German military strategists it is scary to consider what might have happened if Hitler’s hadn’t interfered so much in running the war [especially on two fronts] and the war machine of German industry. Left to do their jobs on their own, the war might have had a very different outcome, perhaps even some sort of negotiated peace.]

  26. For example, wearing the Nazi swastika in the wrong context in various European nations following WWII was (and still is to an extent) a serious crime punishable quite harshly. Yet, in many parts of Asia where that same symbol is basically a “good luck charm” and a wish for world peace and prosperity, the anti-swastika laws in Germany and Austria (for example) seem bizarre, illogical, and silly.

    But the SS mystics who borrowed the Hindu swastika reversed it, as in a mirror. This was akin to the Black Mass practice of inverting the cross, and served a similar purpose: the lunatics of the SS believed that their version of the swastika summoned dark power in the service of the Reich.

  27. Eric Lipps wrote “But the SS mystics who borrowed the Hindu swastika reversed it, as in a mirror.”

    Interesting. I wonder if the SS mystics realized that both the Hindus and the Buddhists used the ancient symbol in both the clock-wise and counter-clockwise directions? (Even those both orientations of the symbol were used in both religious traditions, each generally preferred one of the orientations over the other. I do recall that Buddhists and Hindus generally showed opposite preferences for the orientation but I can’t remember which was which.)

    Likewise, I remember that one of the orientations was called “sauwastika” (or something like that??) to distinguish the one version from the other version, the swastika.

    No doubt there are a dozen dissertations scattered around world which analyzed the differences between the two symbols in actual texts and applications down through the centuries. (Of course, those who have taken a world religions intro course or a “Religious Traditions of East Asia” course know that Buddhism was basically a spin-off of Hinduism, so one can expect to see a lot of similarities in the art and symbolism.)

  28. TomS wrote: “Re the great scientist Von Braun.
    He was an engineer. I am not aware of any scientific endeavors.”

    The more I think about this, I think he had a science doctorate. (I don’t recall if it was a PhD per se because so many European degrees involved initials not so familiar to Americans.) But he probably went straight into pursuing his passions with military applications and didn’t do a conventional post-doc or straight science research. I don’t think his terminal degree was engineering per se. [It is also possible that I’m confusing his background with his brother, Magnus.]

    I think the U.S. government also gave von Braun some major science award. He had collected a long list of honorary science doctorates, probably every time he spoke at some university. (A mutual friend once told me “Wernher collects honorary sheepskins like paperclips, and empties his pockets of them when he gets home.” I didn’t think to ask the guy if that was meant as a subtle jab because of the “Operation Paperclip” that fabricated von Braun’s de-Nazified work history!

  29. Dave Luckett

    There is a story that on the title page of Von Braun’s autobiography “I Aim for the Stars” in the British Library, someone has added the words “But Sometimes I Hit London”.

    There is also Tom Lehrer’s eponymous song about him, the one that might have been the reason for Lehrer quitting the songwriting business after threats of a libel suit.

  30. The Wikipedia article on Von Braun says:

    He was awarded a doctorate in physics[23] (aerospace engineering) on July 27, 1934, from the University of Berlin for a thesis entitled About Combustion Tests; his doctoral supervisor was Erich Schumann.[16]:61 However, this thesis was only the public part of Braun’s work. His actual full thesis, Construction, Theoretical, and Experimental Solution to the Problem of the Liquid Propellant Rocket (dated April 16, 1934) …