Pope Francis Says There is No Hell

The Vatican has stopped short of calling the reports "Fake news."

Reports that Pope Francis told an atheist friend that there is no Hell are circulating widely in the blogosphere, most notably at CNS and Rorate Caeli. The Church, for its part, is stopping just short of calling it “fake news.”

National Catholic Reporter (“Vatican: Claim that pope denied hell’s existence is unreliable“):

The Vatican said comments attributed to Pope Francis denying the existence of hell are a product of an Italian journalist’s “reconstruction” of the pope’s remarks and not a faithful transcript of the pope’s real words.

Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor of La Repubblica, an Italian daily, said Francis — with whom he has had several telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings — invited him to his residence March 27.

During their conversation, Scalfari, 93, an avowed atheist, claims the pope said that while the souls of repentant sinners “receive the forgiveness of God and go among the line of souls who contemplate him, the souls of those who are unrepentant, and thus cannot be forgiven, disappear.”

“Hell does not exist, the disappearance of sinful souls exists,” Scalfari claims the pope said in the interview published March 29.

The Italian journalist has explained on more than one occasion that he does not take notes or record his conversations with the pope; he re-creates them afterward from memory, including the material he puts in quotation marks.

The Vatican issued a statement soon after the article was published, saying the pope did receive Scalfari “in a private meeting” to exchange Easter greetings, but he did not “give him an interview.”

Regarding the alleged words of the pope, which were also published in a similar article written by the journalist in 2014, the Vatican said Scalfari’s article “is a product of his own reconstruction in which the actual words pronounced by the pope are not cited.”

“No quotes of the aforementioned article should therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words,” the Vatican said.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “immediately after death, the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.'”

“The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs,” the catechism says.

The alleged quotes ascribed to Francis directly contradict the many public remarks he has made in homilies and speeches confirming the existence of hell.

Meeting a group of children and teens during a Rome parish visit March 8, 2015, a female Scout asked the pope, “If God forgives everybody, why does hell exist?”

The pope praised the question, saying it was “very important” as well as “a good and difficult question.”

Scalfari’s article (“Il Papa: ‘È un onore essere chiamato rivoluzionario'”) is behind a paywall and, in any case, in Italian. Rod Dreher quotes it thusly:

Your Holiness, in our previous meeting you told me that our species will disappear in a certain moment and that God, still out of his creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who died in sin and will go to hell to suffer it for eternity. You have however spoken to me of good souls, admitted to the contemplation of God. But what about bad souls? Where are they punished?

“They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

Dreher, who has fallen out with the Church, posits:

My guess, in charity, and given that Francis has in the past spoken of the reality of the demonic, is that this is made up by the atheist Scalfari. But I could be wrong. Who knows with Francis? The bizarre — truly bizarre — thing is that Francis continues to grant Scalfari interviews (this is his fifth) even though Scalfari doesn’t take notes, and the results of the interviews rattle the Vatican, over the things Scalfari quotes Francis as saying.

It is not the Pope’s fault if he is misquoted. It is very much the Pope’s fault if he continues to meet with a journalist who misquotes him, and he continues to allow that journalist to interview him without recording the conversation. Any confusion that results is entirely Francis’s fault. 

But note the non-denial denial of the Vatican statement:

No quotes of the aforementioned article should therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words

Not, “The Holy Father said no such thing” or “The Holy Father categorically denies the quotes attributed to him and furthermore reiterates longstanding Church teaching in the existence of Hell.” Francis seems to be playing a little game here. It’s quite probable that a 96-year-old transcribing an interview without benefit of notes got the quote wrong. It’s highly unlikely that he got the gist of the matter wrong.

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FILED UNDER: Religion
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. First, this particular Italian reporter has been caught exaggerating if not outright fabricating things that this Pope has said in the past that he’s been forced to walk back. Someone on another blog called him the Michael Wolff of Italy and that appears to be an accurate way of looking at it. Once again, it appears that this may be the case here. So, I would take the original reports with a grain of salt. This seems to be especially true given the fact that the article in question this time does not contain actual quotes but a summary by the reporter, who himself happens to be a well-known Italian atheist, of what he said the Pope said. As has been the case with some of his past inaccuracies, it’s quite probably his summary of Francis’s remarks is more a reflection of what he wanted to hear.

    Second, having been raised Catholic I can say that the Catholic idea of “hell” is not exactly the fire and brimstone with the guy with horns and a pitchfork vision that most people think of. It’s not an easy idea to explain without getting into long details about Catholic teaching that would be impossible to summarize fairly in a blog comment. However, one example of what the Catholic teaching about “hell” actually is can be found in this quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church — “The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” When Pope Francis speaks about “hell” he is doing so in light of these teachings and well over 2,000 years of tradition and teaching.

    Third, a change in Catholic teaching such as this would not be rolled out via a casual conversation with a reporter. It would have been preceded by conferences with Bishops and Cardinals and be set forth in something like a Papal Encyclical.

    Finally, as with past articles about things that this Pope, or Benedict XVI, or John Paul II say it’s worth noting that most media outlets don’t do a very good job at explaining things because they usually don’t have a reporter on the “religious” beat who has at least some understanding of these matters. They also tend to jump at headlines like “Pope Says Being Gay Is Okay,” or “Pope Says Being Divorced Is Okay” without bothering to look at the details of what the Pope actually said.

    13
  2. One other point, it wasn’t very long ago that this same Pope was warning Mafia leaders that they would spend eternity in hell if they didn’t repent and change their ways.

    I think the media is getting this wrong again.

    5
  3. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Second, having been raised Catholic I can say that the Catholic idea of “hell” is not exactly the fire and brimstone with the guy with horns and a pitchfork vision that most people think of.

    Then what was that chapter from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man all about? You know, the one with the priest in the Jesuit school who gives the speech with a very literal fire-and-brimstone description of Hell.

    I know it’s just a novel, and I’m certainly not claiming it’s an accurate representation of all Catholic theology, but I got the sense it was based at least in part on Joyce’s own experiences in Catholic school.

    2
  4. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Fair enough. But two things: Francis keeps giving this guy private interviews. And the non-denial denial is very strange.

    2
  5. @Kylopod:

    Well two points in response.

    First, yea it’s only a novel and it’s not a novel in which religion per se plays a central role.

    Second, there have been major changes in Catholic teaching since the book was written in 1916, but they’ve all come via encyclicals and major undertakings such as the Second Vatican Council.

    1
  6. @James Joyner:

    That’s a fair point. My understanding, though, is that this reporter remains a major and well-respected figure in Italy and still writes for one of the major newspapers in Rome even though he’s fairly old.

    As for the rest, again, I’m not sure if the ambiguity in the statements you’re referring to is real or if its due to translation from Italian (or Latin) to English, or from an inadequate understanding of underlying teaching on the part of secular media.

    Suffice it to say that there have been enough push backs from these dramatic “Pope Says X” headlines that we’ve seen in the western media love to focus that one should probably take the reporting about this with a grain of salt at least.

    And one other point. I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that Dreher “fell away” from the Catholic Church. He converted from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodox many years ago now, but he still seems to be largely in line with the Church on most issues, largely because the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, while important between the two of them, are far less than, say, the differences between Catholicism and the teachings of American Baptists or Evangelicals. The same is largely true about the differences between Catholicism and the teachings of the Anglican Communion and most (but not all) denominations of the Lutheran Church.

    4
  7. mattb says:

    @Kylopod & @Doug Mataconis:
    Good points on both sides. Vatican 2 definitely changed a lot. But the larger point is that even in an organization that is seemingly as monolithic as the Catholic Church there are a wide range of interpretations of both scripture and the surrounding texts. It’s also worth noting that, all things considered, Hell isn’t discussed all that much in the bible.

    And good points about Catholicism and the Orthodoxy (beyond different popes and calendars, I think the biggest differences center around the Vatican 2 changes). I hadn’t realized that Dreher was a member of the Orthodox church — given his cultural conservatism, that makes perfect sense.

    1
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obviously Francis has not been inside trump’s White House.

    4
  9. Tyrell says:

    I think the Pope needs to go to his Bible and see what it says. That is basic theology. Jesus talked about hell.
    This issue is a basic review of the Protestant Reformation.
    “Sola scriptura”: thy word alone.

  10. @Tyrell:

    As you may or may not be aware, the Pope is not a Protestant.

    26
  11. MarkedMan says:

    James, you are a better man than I if you are still reading Dreher on a regular basis. His columns today consist of near hysterical rants against teh gays, the SJWs and the Pope in that order. He has been ramping up for nearly a year now and I finally had to give him up. His level of panic and vituperation has achieved the level of, say, Andrew Sullivan on his worst 3 hour jag, but sustained it for week after week after week.

    5
  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Got a giggle from me.

    1
  13. Hal_10000 says:

    My suspicions about this interview were raised a bit when the Pope supposedly went on to say that there were no countries, above us only sky, nothing to kill or die for and all the people were living in peace, yoouuuuu.

    10
  14. @Hal_10000:

    I blame Yoko Ono

    3
  15. michael reynolds says:

    I can clarify this.

    Is there a hell? No. Also no heaven. No angels. No demons. No God.

    8
  16. Joe says:

    @mattb, @Doug Mataconis, and @Kylopod:

    As a lifelong Catholic, also Jesuit trained, and a student of Joyce, I am very familiar with the passage @Kylopod refers to. I, personally, also share an understanding of the Catholic teachings on hell that are roughly similar to what @Doug Mataconis explains. I am, nonetheless, aware that what Catholics learn comes in almost as many variations as there Catholics doing the teaching.

    I am sure that I stand next to people in Mass every week whose understanding of Church’s teachings on hell is best summarized by Joyce in that passage. I went to college with a Catholic whose mother gave him a scapular and a promise that he could absolutely not go to hell if he died wearing that scapular, no matter what he did (and he was a full on test of that principal).

    I also agree with @Doug Mataconis that Catholicism is much closer to Orthodoxy that it is to Evangelicalism, but I am sure I share my parish with many of my co-religionists who couldn’t distinguish a Baptist sermon from Catholic teaching on a dare.

    I regularly come across people who can not understand my continued participation in the Catholic Church because they do not share my understanding of what it is or means. I can’t criticize their understanding because it has a real basis, and frankly they may have a better understanding of what’s really going on here than I do.

    I am reminded of a famous quote attributed to Joyce. Faced with a woman who said that she had heard Joyce had left the Catholic Church so she assumed he was now a Protestant, he is reported to have responded, “Madam, I have lost my faith. I have not lost my mind.”

    7
  17. Fog says:

    @michael reynolds: I just can’t get past the idea that existence implies creation. On that point, I think Alan Watts makes the most sense to me.

  18. Surreal Normerican says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As you may or may not be aware, the Pope is not a Protestant.

    Whoa if true!

    2
  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Hell is a town in Michigan.
    Since there is no Fire Department for Hell listed in the phone book we can assume there is no such thing as Hellfire.

    3
  20. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    This issue is a basic review of the Protestant Reformation.
    “Sola scriptura”: thy word alone.

    Well, as long as we’re reaching for Protestant Reformation source material …

    As you know, Martin Luther was strongly anti-semitic, and in his On the Jews and Their Lies, he counseled that we (non-Jews) should “Set fire to their synagogues or schools,” that Jewish homes “be razed and destroyed,” and Jewish “prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.” In addition, “their rabbis be forbidden to teach on pain of loss of life and limb.” He also told us that “safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews,” and finally, the timeless exhortation that “all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them.”

    Sounds like Martin Luther wanted to make life a living Hell for Jews.

    2
  21. Mister Bluster says:

    @Fog:..existence implies creation.

    I exist. My parents created me when they took a roll in the hay some 70+ years ago.
    I don’t think Alan Watts was there.

    5
  22. Kathy says:

    I´m an atheist and was raised Jewish. So speaking as an outsider, it seems to me Hell is the whole point of Christianity.

    8
  23. Franklin says:
  24. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    James, you are a better man than I if you are still reading Dreher on a regular basis.

    I was just looking for a more authoritative source on this than CNS and a blog of which I’d never before heard. Dreher has some extreme views but I figure he’s at least knowledgeable on the theological fights.

    @Hal_10000: I barely resisted a John Lennon reference in the OP.

    2
  25. CSK says:

    I was raised from birth in a completely secular household–which was unusual for someone of my generation, and I gather still isn’t commonplace–so I find discussions like this very interesting. I participate, or at least listen to them, with the awareness that most people have had an experience I haven’t had.

    5
  26. al-Ameda says:

    @Kathy:

    I’m an atheist and was raised Jewish. So speaking as an outsider, it seems to me Hell is the whole point of Christianity.

    I was raised Catholic, and I’ve long since lapsed. However, I can tell you that as a child it was a bit disturbing to enter a beautiful church and see the altar area dominated by a representation of Jesus nailed to a cross, being crucified (executed).

    So, while Hell may not be the whole point of Christianity, it sure seems that conservative evangelicals emphasize a Hell a lot more than they do the compassion and good works of Jesus.

    8
  27. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    it’s not a novel in which religion per se plays a central role.

    I disagree. I took the novel to be heavily about religion, Catholicism in particular. The chapter I referenced takes up a pretty significant chunk of the book. While the protagonist is no longer religious by the end of the book, part of the point is that he can never shake its influences. As his friend puts it, “It is a curious thing how your mind is supersaturated in the religion with which you say you disbelieve.”

    2
  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Joe: I was also raised a Catholic and spent 12 years in Catholic schools, and am frequently astonished by what people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, think is official Catholic doctrine. For instance, Papal Infallibility. Many take this to mean whatever the Pope says is canon law. Although the concept of Papal Infallibility has existed for the past century and a half or so, there are only two pronouncements that all Catholic Theologians agree fall into this category. Both are unprovable and must be taken as faith: The Immaculate Conception and The Assumption. Which brings up another thing that almost everyone else gets wrong: The Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Birth. Rather it refers to the Mary, alone among all humans up until that point, being born without original sin on her soul. Try proving or disproving that.

    Another concept that Sister Imelda droned on and on about in fifth grade was that of Limbo, where unbaptized babies spent eternity. It is neither good nor bad, but because the babies weren’t baptized they were not fully human and did not have a soul yet and therefore could not be judged and sent to heaven or hell. Truly bizarre. It’s something debated amongst the kind of kooky theologians that also debate what angels look like, but it’s not part of Catholic teaching. It’s also interesting that in the 1960’s it was common “knowledge” that unbaptized babies did not have souls, but today it is equally common “knowledge” that the soul is created at the moment of conception, and therefore abortion is murder.

    3
  29. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Fair enough. Although Dreher has long been a bit gullible when it comes to accepting what he wants to hear, especially about people he doesn’t like.

    3
  30. Kylopod says:

    @al-Ameda: It is true that Luther was strongly anti-Semitic, but so was the Catholic Church. Until Vatican II it was official Church doctrine that all Jews everywhere carried blame for the death of Christ. It is not an accident that the Holocaust happened in a country whose two main denominations had a long history of anti-Semitism. Hitler himself was nominally a Catholic, and while he wasn’t especially devout, he was definitely influenced by Church teachings regarding the Jews. It was part of Germany’s religious heritage.

    4
  31. Gustopher says:

    Maybe our hippie pope is about to go all Universal Unitarian on us — God’s mercy and forgiveness is infinite, so everyone goes to heaven.

  32. Anonne says:

    @Kylopod:
    It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding that Christ came precisely to die, not to overthrow the current regime at the time. The compassion of Jesus Christ was not only in the miracles he performed but that he came to offer himself as a sacrifice, a ransom for the world, because there is no earthly sacrifice good enough to redeem us from our sins. Therein is the true compassion of Christ, in that he bore our sins and suffered on the cross. The Jews are still God’s people, but even then, God has punished his own people for their transgressions and left a remnant that was faithful. To hate and persecute the Jews because they engineered his death would be to not desire the sacrifice he made and ultimately thwarting God’s plan. The gift cannot come without his death. So the deep hatred of Jews, I never understood. Rather, I just see it as badly misunderstood theology.

  33. Anonne says:

    Your anti-spam filters are really aggressive.

  34. Joe says:

    @Kylopod:

    Until Vatican II it was official Church doctrine that all Jews everywhere carried blame for the death of Christ.

    I don’t have a source, but I dispute that this was a Church doctrine. I don’t think its coincidental that Creed we recite every Sunday says about Jesus’ death “who suffered under Pontious Pilate and was crucified.” Although I was educated during and after VII, I always understood this to be a direct repudiation of the idea that the Jewish people were to blame. I know the whole Barabbas deal, but crucifixion was, after all, a Roman punishment.

    But this difference between us really just demonstrates the bigger point here – we were both educated as Catholics and have opposite understandings of its teachings.

  35. de stijl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    A “bit” gullible?!

    Dreher is the walking manifestation of confirmation bias.

    1
  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Fog:
    It’s just can-kicking. If existence implies creation then it similarly insists that the creator was created. You have an infinite regression that answers nothing.

    Look at the assumptions: 1) That a singularity appeared and matter expanded rapidly, many billions of years later leading to evolution. 2) A God appeared and created everything else, while cleverly leaving no evidence of His existence, and tons of scientific evidence of the big bang and evolution.

    6
  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    I hope not. I strongly object to being dragged off to heaven.

  38. Kathy says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I was raised Catholic, and I’ve long since lapsed. However, I can tell you that as a child it was a bit disturbing to enter a beautiful church and see the altar area dominated by a representation of Jesus nailed to a cross, being crucified (executed).

    I’ve never understood that, either. I’ve had Catholic priests explain it, but it makes no logical sense to me at all.

    2
  39. MarkedMan says:

    @de stijl: At times like these I’m tempted to say “Amen, brother.” But over the years he has shown more ability to put himself in the shoes of those on the other side then most, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they are on. He’s also been willing to honestly engage with his reader’s comments.

    My own theory (as a psychoanalyst with qualifications on par with Lucy van Pelt) is that Dreher tries to be a moral and fair person and desperately wants to be seen as such. Unfortunately his beliefs, most notably his stringent anti-gay core, have led many to see him as just another alt-right crank. (This is far from fair.) He is continuously distressed by this perception and tends to lash out at those that express it. Which is why I think he has been raving especially hard against what he calls the SJWs. And he has fallen into the intellectually lazy trap of searching for “someone on the internet who is wrong” and then generalizing to all those who disagree with his stands.

  40. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s just can-kicking. If existence implies creation then it similarly insists that the creator was created. You have an infinite regression that answers nothing.

    Logically, this is so.

    What Christians, and I suppose others, do is employ a plot device called a non-contingent entity. That is, an entity whose existence is not dependent on the prior existence of anything or anyone else. And guess who gets tagged as such.

    This is still fallacious, but the rationalization can be sold.

    Some also point to the Big bang as proof of some kind of god, but this misunderstands the theory. One Fr. Lemaitre, who came up with the Big Bang theory’s insight, counseled the church against using this as a proof.

    4
  41. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s just can-kicking.

    Fair enough. But there is another way of looking at it. At the core of many religions is the concept that we cannot comprehend God, that to look upon his/her/its face would destroy us. One possibility, a very real one, is that there is so much going on outside of our ability to comprehend that we have no real standing to judge what the universe is. As an example, take my cat. He’s a very smart cat (actually, no, he’s dumb as a box of rocks but for the sake of this discussion, he is the Newton of cats). But no matter how much I try to teach him, he’ll never understand calculus. He’ll never even understand the concept of calculus. Never even understand that there is something there to learn. I think it’s quite likely that there are many things in the universe that make cats of us. So, while I think it is vanishingly unlikely that anyone has the right picture of life, the universe and everything, I think that at least some religious people are responding to that unknowable essence. Your died in the wool atheist may be simplifying the world to “If its gots tiny little paws I can eat it, and if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t real exist”.

  42. Charon says:

    @Kathy:

    an entity whose existence is not dependent on the prior existence of anything or anyone else

    Given that time (according to most cosmological thinking) exists within the Universe and has an absolute zero time (thus no earlier time exists), said entity could be the Universe, no?

    existence implies creation

    Fallacious logic, see above.

    2
  43. Kathy says:

    @Charon:

    Given that time (according to most cosmological thinking) exists within the Universe and has an absolute zero time (thus no earlier time exists), said entity could be the Universe, no?

    That’s one point I argue often. Another is that we constantly see simple entities, provided some kind of energy input, organize themselves into more complex ones. This does mean carbon molecules organizing into proteins, proteins into amino acids, etc. But also simpler stuff like carbon atoms organized as diamonds, silicon as quartz, etc.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that we cannot, as yet, directly observe the Big Bang, but only from shortly afterwards.

    1
  44. george says:

    I’m surprised no one has quoted from Lennon’s “Imagine” yet …

  45. Mister Bluster says:

    @george:..go 4 it…

  46. Mister Bluster says:

    @MarkedMan:.. “If its gots tiny little paws I can eat it, and if I can’t eat it, it doesn’t real exist”.

    One of my cats said this years ago right after he ate a mouse.

  47. Kylopod says:

    @Joe:

    Although I was educated during and after VII, I always understood this to be a direct repudiation of the idea that the Jewish people were to blame.

    It’s not a direct repudiation or even an indirect one. It’s possible to hold more than one party responsible for a crime. Everyone agrees that Romans carried out the execution, but Jews, according to the tradition, are the ones who put Jesus on trial and turned him over to Pontius Pilate.

    Besides, if it were a direct repudiation, why would there have been any need for the Nostra aetate portion of Vatican II?

    we were both educated as Catholics

    I was educated as a Jew, not a Catholic.

    2
  48. g byron says:

    Who in their right mind would give the Trumpism “fake news” any credibility? Trump coined the word to just mean any news that tells people what a jackass he is.

  49. Tyrell says:

    A few years ago the Pope rocked the church world when he made the statement that most marriages were not “valid”. People, even Protestants, were simply stunned and left in total bewilderment.
    The Pope does this sort of thing from time to time – makes some off the wall statement. Then the church officials scramble to put the train in reverse!

  50. Kylopod says:

    @g byron:

    Who in their right mind would give the Trumpism “fake news” any credibility? Trump coined the word to just mean any news that tells people what a jackass he is.

    That isn’t quite correct. While I’m not sure exactly when the phrase was first used, it came to public prominence during the 2016 election when it referred to outright hoaxes being spread on social media in the form of real news stories.

    https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/fake-news-stories-make-real-news-headlines/story?id=43845383

    Trump coopted the term and began using it to question any news story reporting something he didn’t like. It was an Orwellian sabotage of a legitimate term, and it’s unfortunately had the effect of drowning out the genuine problem the term originally referred to.

  51. Joe says:

    @Kylopod:

    My apologies for my error about your educational background. I was confusing different posters. But you clearly are well educated with a more sophisticated knowledge of Catholicism than most (Catholics). My lame response to your nostra aetate reference goes back to my more fundamental point – there are lots of commonly held, frequently repeated and frequently contradictory understandings of Catholic teaching that are just wrong. The Church makes efforts every once in a while to try to “correct” the record.

    I would also note that the only “people” named in the Creed are God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary and Pilate. That’s a pretty big shout out to say who did it, especially for a Church headquartered in Rome.

  52. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: I’ve always thought that the shortfall in the pure atheists thinking is that our ability to comprehend the Universe is limited by by our senses and our psychological processes which hav e developed in the equivalent of isolation on Earth…a mote of dust in a 100 billion+ star galaxy. We’ve done well understand the spectrum of light…assuming there are no others. What would the discovery about new spectrums reveal about our surroundings? Perhaps other beings inhabit them like humans inhabit this spectrum?

    Even our tool-making that we’ve used to instrument our world and the solar system to gain unprecedented amounts of data about the universe– is still informed and guided by our relatively limited and primitive senses and brain processing power. The athesist making absolute pronouncements based on what we’ve disovered to date reveals as deep as blind spot in reasoning as the creationist.

    One of the most fascinating discoveries coming out of quantum physics is that this Universe appears to be influenced by the mere activity of being observed. Multiple inferences can be drawn from that…the most interesting being…perhaps that’s the reason the Universe is here.

    3
  53. Mister Bluster says:

    “The athesist making absolute pronouncements based on what we’ve disovered to date reveals as deep as blind spot in reasoning as the creationist.”

    No one who uses the scientific method of finding things out makes absolute pronouncements. Hypotheses are always subject to scrutiny if new evidence is developed.
    Creationism does not use reasoning to get it’s results. It is clearly based on the extrordinay claim of supernatural intervention.

    Oh yeah.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    Sagan

    4
  54. george says:

    @g byron:

    According to the Washington Post

    Trump

    its fake news that Trump coined the term fake-news (despite his claims to have done so). How’s that for great irony?

  55. george says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    One of the most fascinating discoveries coming out of quantum physics is that this Universe appears to be influenced by the mere activity of being observed. Multiple inferences can be drawn from that…the most interesting being…perhaps that’s the reason the Universe is here.

    Actually ‘observed’ in quantum mechanical terms just means an interaction; for example, an interaction measuring the electron’s spin makes an observation whether or not a conscious being observes it. Moreover, any present conscious observer influences that observation by means of a physical measurement (its the measurement that they observe).

    There are a few philosophical interpretations of QM which speculate that a conscious observer might be required (although most interpretations don’t take that view point), but there’s nothing in the fundamental assumptions or equations of quantum mechanics that require a conscious observer; all that’s required is interactions. Which is why in practice physicists don’t bother much with philosophical interpretations of QM – it adds nothing to the experiments or to our understanding of the theory. To paraphrase Feynman, you do the math and run the experiments; the math and the results speak for themselves, and underlying interpretations are just a way of amusing yourself while the experiment is humming along.

    None of this says anything one way or another about whether there is some underlying consciousness behind the universe; QM, like science in general, is neutral on the question, for the obvious reason: its not a question that can be put to an experimental test. People justifying either atheism or their particular belief on the basis of science have got the science part wrong.

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  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    With all due respect, Francis has obviously never driven on the FDR on a Friday afternoon …

  57. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Actual scientist do not…you are correct. But pundits and social media commenters of the non-religious nature absolutely make absolute statements about the nature of being and reality…as if it’s a settled fact. It’s akin to blind men ridiculing the others blindness. Instead of acknowledging that science is a guided process that humans have developed to guide exploration and discovery… the laymen of “science” throw the term around as it it ends all debate and criticism about debate surrounding conclusions drawn from data. It is neither observable nor repeatable the How & Why of Earth or life on it…which puts those questions out of the scope of science and into the realm of storytelling. That’s by the way not a bad thing. Storytelling is one of those activities that are fundamental to human existence. We have to tell them…about everything. Personally I don’t care what story people tell themselves or chose to believe about how and why humans are here. I care how those stories cause people to interact with their surroundings. There are stories that make atheists, religious people, “spiritual” people, and agnostics act like d1ck$. There are stories that also make people in those same categories someone you’d want as a neighbor.

  58. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @george: You are correct. However, humans need to tell stories…it’s fundamental to our nature. The scientist can explore away but stories will be weaved around the data. I would argue there is little distinction between a measurement and an observation. The former assumes the latter or else a measurement has no need to be taken

  59. george says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I agree stories need to be told. But we should be aware of when we’re telling stories, and when we’re doing physics. That doesn’t mean the stories are wrong, but pretending a story is backed by a successful theory when that theory is in fact neutral to all the stories is dishonest.

    In terms of physics there’s a huge difference between a measure that requires a conscious observer, and one which just needs to occur (an interaction which occurs whether or not there is an observer). And the theory and math is very clear: no consciousness is needed, that’s something added by philosophy.

    As far as the theory goes, it all works out the same whether the experiment is run by a conscious observer, or just two mindless electrons colliding in space. You’re interpreting ‘measurement’ as something a conscious being does, but that’s not what the theory requires; we use often use measurement because its a convenient word, but interaction or event describes it perfectly, with or without an observer.

    If you are a physicist, take a look for instance at say the Dirac equation, and find the function that describes a conscious observer – you won’t find it, because it simply doesn’t exist. Nor will you find it in any other of the fundamental equations.

    There’s no reason to believe those galaxies whose light took billions of years to reach suddenly sprung into existence the first time a human (or some alien on another planet) observed them. Some philosophers disagree (ie things don’t exist until observed), but that’s not backed (or refuted) by the theory. And if you are going to philosophize, its pretty arrogant to think the existence of say a galaxy depends upon some human looking at it.

  60. An Interested Party says:

    It is rather amusing how this pope makes the heads of so many conservatives explode…he certainly is quite different from his immediate predecessor…

  61. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Babies not being born fully human is not as strange as you might think. I don’t know how common it is, but some Yiddish hold that the soul (?) enters the child’s body only after 100 days has passed. Korean’s also have a celebration for new borns after 100 days that carries connections to having become fully human.

  62. Mike Schilling says:

    You’re all missing it.

    Francis starts by talking about when humanity ends. At that point, hell ends too, because Hell Is Other People.