No Liberty at Liberty

Last week, Liberty University shut down its College Democrats chapter, claiming that the organization runs counter to the values of the university. The group is no longer recognized as a student organization, meaning that it cannot advertise on campus or hold meetings on campus.

According to Liberty University vice president of student affairs Mark Hine, “the Democratic party violates the school’s principles by supporting abortion, socialism and the “‘LGBT’ agenda,” referring to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people” and that even though the group “may not support the more radical planks of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is still the parent organization of the club on campus.”

The group’s faculty sponsor has said that she was simply trying to allow alternative views to be heard on a campus where the Republican Party’s agenda is  “preached on every avenue.” The Liberty University College Republicans have a large presence on campus and have not been the target of any action from the administration.

Now, Liberty University is a private institution and as such they can deny recognition to whatever groups they wish. However, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. If Liberty wants to suppress free speech and intellectual discourse on their campus, they can do that. But they are only hurting themselves.

As I wrote in an earlier post, allowing ideas to engage in free competition with each other will allow the best ideas to win out. Attempts to control the competition of ideas only make it appear that the controllers have something to hide. This only increases interest in whatever it is they are trying to suppress. It also lends less credibility to whatever ideas end up winning in Liberty’s competition of ideas. After all, a victor with no competition is no victor at all. And finally, students who are educated in an environment where only one viewpoint is presented are ill equipped to defend their views once they enter the real world.

Liberty is within its legal rights to ban the College Democrats club from campus, but by limiting the competition of ideas, Liberty is only hurting itself and its students.

46 thoughts on “No Liberty at Liberty

  1. Just goes to show that the leftist model doesn’t work. Here’s the leftist model:

    “No space for hate, there’s no debate.”

    Oh, ok. No debate. We’ll ban your chapter. How do you like that?

    What a fail by Liberty.

  2. “If Liberty want [sic] to suppress free speech and intellectual discourse on their campus, they can do that. But they are only hurting themselves.”

    Why would a Christian school publicly sponsor a group that promotes the murder of children? That’s not to say that there can’t be debate on certain elements of abortion, but, in the end, we are still debating whether or not a woman should have the legal right to murder her child.

    I suppose, Chris, that this is an example of your tolerance, and an example of how you have been influenced by the environment of “free speech” and “tolerance” at UNC. You are tolerant of abortion, because, while 4,000 babies are killed mercilessly every day, you are content to have powwows about it. And you call my views “deeply morally offensive”…

    In light of this, I hope that Carolina Review conservative readers will take your criticisms of YWC with a pound of salt, instead of merely a grain.

  3. Mr. Matheson: Eliminating the College Democrats will not eliminate the issue of abortion, nor will it prevent individuals from thinking about it and having questions and opinions regarding its morality. Rather, essentially prohibiting discussion of the issue gives the impression that the university (and, as a result, the pro-life cause) fears what may come of such a discussion–perhaps even fears that their position cannot stand up to the scrutiny of their opponents.

    Honestly, I’m surprised that you, of all people, would scoff at the importance of debate, considering it was your group which was recently silenced by student protests due to the unpopularity of its opinions.

    Furthermore, just as the Republican Party is more than just pro-life and the Iraq War, so the Democratic Party is more than just abortion and LGBT. (As for socialism, while I do not personally believe it to be a viable option, I see no reason as to why it would so violate the school’s principles. Nowhere in the Bible does it say: “Thou shalt be a representative democracy.”) Banning an entire political party’s presence on campus benefits neither the students still examining the political spectrum nor the ones firmly decided in their political beliefs. The world does not consist of one political party, and at some point these students will be called upon to defend their beliefs. It is doing the students a disservice to pretend otherwise.

  4. Riley, maybe you should get off of Chris’ nuts? Why are you routinely attacking him for being less conservative than you want him to be? Did he say something critical about YWC? Aww, you poor thing.

    You are putting on display a clear problem with the Republican Party: it has become TOO conservative. Any conservative who makes a claim or has a belief that is even quasi-centrist or -GASP!- liberal is thrown over the boat. Take a page out of the Democratic Party’s book… Sen. Bob Casey is a great example. He’s a pro-choice Democrat who is accepted with open arms by his Democratic colleagues.

    Stop with the nonsense. We need a strong two-party system for the country’s sake. Try being a little more accepting of your conservative brethren, even if they are not ultra-conservative.

  5. So, let me get this straight Johnny. We need a strong two-party system, but both conservatives and liberals need to be open to compromise? Wouldn’t that muddle the concept of the two party system? Maybe you should try again and think before posting…….

    This isn’t a matter of “stifling” debate. Would it make sense for a truly Catholic University to sponsor a group that promotes a tenant that is decidedly anti-Catholic? The debate can and will go on, but Liberty University simply doesn’t want its name associated with a group espouses ideas that diametrically opposed to the university’s principles. I don’t think that Liberty handled the situation well at all, but the reasoning behind their actions is somewhat sound.

    Johnny, Chris is a big boy and I’m sure he’s confident enough to defend himself. Also, when you post something on the internet or post something publicly at all, you better be ready for someone to criticize your work.

  6. EC: Look, Liberty is a Christian university. There should not be debate at a Christian university about abortion. Liberty is taking a wise step, for the day when pro-abortion advocates feel comfortable at a Christian university is the day when that university is no longer Christian.

    “Eliminating the College Democrats will not eliminate the issue of abortion, nor will it prevent individuals from thinking about it and having questions and opinions regarding its morality.”

    No kidding. But that doesn’t mean that a Christian university should sponsor a group that supports abortion. And if Liberty is admitting students who have “alternative views” on the morality of abortion, then, as I just said, Liberty has huge problems regarding its Christian identity.

    “Honestly, I’m surprised that you, of all people, would scoff at the importance of debate, considering it was your group which was recently silenced by student protests due to the unpopularity of its opinions.”

    To be perfectly honest, I’m not nearly as concerned about my group’s being silenced as I am about wolves in sheep’s clothing such as Chris Jones. Also, I pride myself on doing my best not to let my experiences cloud my judgment. Just because my group was silenced at a public university about an issue that doesn’t involve murder or basic rational/Christian morality, doesn’t mean that I want to see Christian universities tolerant of people who promote the murder of children.

    “Furthermore, just as the Republican Party is more than just pro-life and the Iraq War, so the Democratic Party is more than just abortion and LGBT. (As for socialism, while I do not personally believe it to be a viable option, I see no reason as to why it would so violate the school’s principles. Nowhere in the Bible does it say: “Thou shalt be a representative democracy.”) Banning an entire political party’s presence on campus benefits neither the students still examining the political spectrum nor the ones firmly decided in their political beliefs. The world does not consist of one political party, and at some point these students will be called upon to defend their beliefs. It is doing the students a disservice to pretend otherwise.”

    I nor Liberty mentioned anything about socialism or taxes. The Democrats’ position on abortion is sufficient grounds for shutting them down on a Christian campus. As a Catholic, I am ashamed of such schools as Notre Dame. I’m just glad that at least some Christian schools are sticking to their principles.

    Johnny Q: I go after Chris simply because I think that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I want to expose him for who he truly is: A man who (kind of) calls himself a conservative, but who has a liberal gut with liberal intellectual tendencies.

    “Did he say something critical about YWC? Aww, you poor thing.”

    It’s more like he was, at best, intellectually inconsistent about YWC to the point of slander, or, at worst, he was just outright slanderous about YWC, but I won’t rack your brain with those details if you haven’t already read what I’ve written about that.

    “You are putting on display a clear problem with the Republican Party: it has become TOO conservative. Any conservative who makes a claim or has a belief that is even quasi-centrist or -GASP!- liberal is thrown over the boat. Take a page out of the Democratic Party’s book… Sen. Bob Casey is a great example. He’s a pro-choice Democrat who is accepted with open arms by his Democratic colleagues.”

    Where to begin with such ignorance–it certainly can’t be addressed on a forum such as this. I suppose you meant to say that Sen. Casey is a pro-life Democrat. Obviously, there are pro-life Democrats. Only someone completely ignorant in American politics would think otherwise. But, at the same time, only someone equally ignorant in American politics would not recognize that the Democratic party is the party of the pro-abortionists. That’s not to say that Republicans are great on the issue, but Democrats are BY FAR the party most accommodating to, supportive of and friendly with the pro-choice movement.

    “Stop with the nonsense. We need a strong two-party system for the country’s sake. Try being a little more accepting of your conservative brethren, even if they are not ultra-conservative.”

    Well, I think that our country’s need for a two-party system is moot. Also, Chris isn’t really a conservative. And are you saying that only an “ultra-conservative” would support Liberty’s decision? Look, Johnny, the bottom line is that a conservative blogger just doesn’t report on this story. There are much more important things for a conservative writer to write about than the “closed-mindedness” of fellow conservatives. Perhaps Chris should take your advice and be “a little more accepting of [his] conservative brethren.” He started this fight, not I.

  7. @Riley Matheson Hey while we’re at it, lets just go back to a single-party state and forget about two-party politics. Because we know that worked so well in the late 19th century up until the mid 20th century.

    I don’t care if the issue at hand is who likes or doesn’t like to pick flowers out of a field. If you remove the right of the other party (or any party) to have any say in a matter, then you are eliminating progress.

  8. bd, you’re ostensibly so ignorant that I almost didn’t respond. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY SPONSORING A GROUP WHOSE PURPOSE IS TO PROMOTE “ANOTHER” GROUP (THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY) THAT IS THE PRO-ABORTION PARTY. A Christian university should not sponsor such a group. Period. I’m not saying we should shut the Democrats down, but, by Christian standards, they should be shut down on Christian campuses. What don’t you get about what I’m saying?

  9. Allowing a student organization to exist on campus is not the same as endorsing that organization’s views. After all, UNC allows YWC to exist without endorsing or supporting its views.

  10. Chris, are you honestly that dense? I never said that a university’s sponsoring (or allowing to exist, or officially reçognizing–whatever you want to call it) a group was tantamount to said university’s endorsing the views of said group. I was trying to say that a truly Christian school does not officially recognize or allow to exist a group that promotes abortion. Period.

    Think about it this way, Chris: A Christian university should be like a Christian family. Just as a good Christian parent shields his/her children from dangerous thoughts, ideas, philosophies, heresies, etc., so a Christian university should shield her children from people and an organization who promote the well-packaged, but highly fallacious, opinions of the Democrats concerning abortion. You, my neo-con friend, are putting your political values of free speech before your faith.

    1. So if a child in a Christian family admits to being gay, he/she should be thrown out of the family? Interesting.

  11. Chris is right, delegitimizing any form of debate is counter-productive. It’s the intellectual equivalent of inbreeding. As everyone knows, you can only shrink the gene pool so much before you become mentally retarded.

    But this all shirks the real issue surrounding LU, which is the fact that it’s a fourth-tier university. Fourth tier! It’s one of the least selective colleges in America. If people shouldn’t go to LU it’s not just because they won’t find good, robust political debate there. It’s because it’s a bad school.

  12. Actually, Jonathan, if you know that you are right on an issue, then what good does it do you to consider opinions that you know run counter to the truth that you’ve discovered?

    Example. I know that 2 + 2 is 4. What good does it do me to consider the opinion that 2 + 2 is 5? Perhaps it would do me good to seek new and deeper ways to know and prove that 2 + 2 is 4, but that doesn’t mean that we should consider opinions we know to be fallacious.

    Your belittling Liberty on account of its rank is a red herring, and commits the logical fallacy “cum hoc ergo propter hoc.” That’s the problem w/students who go to elite schools like UNC: They spend the rest of their (intellectual) lives hiding behind their degrees.

  13. Riley Matheson:

    The issue I have with your argument is that it assumes several things:

    1. That a member of the Democratic Party automatically supports everything that the party has ever done or supported (i.e. abortion).

    This was point I was (poorly) trying to make when I stating that neither party can be fully reduced to a few of its issues. There are many more pro-life Democrats than perhaps you realize. It is fully possible that the members of the College Democrats at Liberty were such Democrats. Now, I realize that, by belonging to a group it is, in a way, stating that you agree with all of its tenets. However, I would argue that abortion, rather than being solely a political issue (as it is so frequently characterized), is rather much more a moral issue. The danger comes in treating it as an either/or political issue: either you are a Republican and against it or a Democrat and for it. If it is truly a purely moral issue, then it only makes sense that there would be pro-life individuals who also support other aspects of the Democratic Party.

    I realize this may be a horrible idealistic point of view, and I’m not saying your point about the connection between the Democratic Party and abortion is not unfounded. However, I would like to believe that, should abortion be allowed to become a purely moral, bipartisan issue rather than a politically polarized one, it would be much more possible to work towards an agreement on its immorality.

    2. That it is impossible for a supporter of the Democratic Party to be Christian.

    This is connected to my point above about political parties being more than a few issues. I, as a Christian, personally belong to neither party because I cannot fully agree with the ideologies of either. However, when it comes down to an election, I am forced to choose between the two parties’ candidates, even though I do not support everything that either one supports. I have voted Democrat. I have also voted Republican. I would argue that neither of these make me a better or worse Christian.

    3. That abortion in all its forms is always a morally black and white issue.

    First off, I do not personally support abortion in the majority of cases. However, there are certain medical instances where I am not sure which course of action (abortion or no abortion) is always morally superior. Though it is certainly rare, there are situations where the mother’s life–or even both the mother’s and the child’s lives–are in danger should an abortion not be performed. In the case of either the mother or the child, a decision must be made: whose life is more worth saving? Is it more morally sound to allow the mother to die? Though I would perhaps lean towards saying that saving the child is best, I can’t say with 100% conviction that either approach is fully irreproachable. And what if both mother and child will die and an abortion would perhaps save the life of the mother? Is the saving of one life (versus losing two) enough to justify the deliberate ending of one? I wish I could say for certain that I knew the right answer.
    These kinds of situations regarding abortion, I would argue, are the ones that certainly have a place for debate on a Christian campus.

    “I nor Liberty mentioned anything about socialism or taxes.”

    I was merely responding to the quote given in the article above stating that “the Democratic party violates the school’s principles by supporting abortion, socialism and the “‘LGBT’ agenda.”

  14. “1. That a member of the Democratic Party automatically supports everything that the party has ever done or supported (i.e. abortion).”

    “2. That it is impossible for a supporter of the Democratic Party to be Christian.”

    “However, when it comes down to an election, I am forced to choose between the two parties’ candidates, even though I do not support everything that either one supports. I have voted Democrat. I have also voted Republican. I would argue that neither of these make me a better or worse Christian.”

    EC, I am basically in agreement with you on these points. I have actually participated in a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate (running, of course, against a Republican–a fairly prominent one at that).

    There is a huge difference, however, between voting for or supporting specific Democrats, or even being a Democrat yourself, and being a member of or allowing to exist in a Christian environment a club or organization whose purpose is to promote the Democratic party, whose true colors have been shown time and again in the candidates they have nominated for the presidency. Observe whom they provided for this past election: The choice was between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–Satan versus Lucifer when it comes to abortion. Obama is narrowly worse, and, of course, he’s whom they provide. The Democrats cannot be supported as Democrats, only as individuals on a case-by-case basis.

    “However, I would argue that abortion, rather than being solely a political issue (as it is so frequently characterized), is rather much more a moral issue. The danger comes in treating it as an either/or political issue: either you are a Republican and against it or a Democrat and for it. If it is truly a purely moral issue, then it only makes sense that there would be pro-life individuals who also support other aspects of the Democratic Party.”

    I disagree that morality can be separated from politics. And while it is certainly true that there are a lot of pro-choice Republicans (indeed, there are more pro-choice Republicans than there are pro-life Democrats), at least the Republican party as a whole has done a decent job maintaining at least a nominally pro-life public image, and has certainly helped the pro-life movement much more than the Democrats have. Let’s see the Democrats nominate someone for the presidency like Bob Casey. Won’t happen–you know it just as well as I do.

    “I was merely responding to the quote given in the article above stating that “the Democratic party violates the school’s principles by supporting abortion, socialism and the “‘LGBT’ agenda.” ”

    I’m sorry, I’ll eat that one. I had stupidly forgotten that Liberty mentions socialism (assuming that Chris got his quote right–I can’t help but notice the sloppy quotation marks that make the quote dubious). I disagree with Liberty here. Although I think Christians should be wary of socialism (and capitalism), I certainly would not consider either doctrine inherently opposed to Christianity, and therefore do not believe that Liberty should use socialism as a reason for shutting the College Democrats down. Nevertheless, their action is justified considering the Democrats’ view on abortion.

  15. A few things strike me about your response, Riley.

    First, I have to say that the muddled old metaphor of ethics-as-simple-arithmetic can’t really be taken seriously. Concerning certain actions one is taking in real time, maybe you can say it’s as simple as that. But with the broad, abstract considerations of general ethical debate, which is what Chris identifies the issue surrounding LU to be, this isn’t addition and subtraction. It’s a chaotic algorithm. To pretend that it’s anything simpler is self-deception.

    Which brings me to my next point. If ethical considerations are not simple (and if they were, why would we debate them so vigorously and so often?) , then the geist of debate and intellectual pluralism is all-important. For such a classicist, it’s a wonder that you quote Latin so much and Greek so little. You’re the one ostensibly defening Western Civ. So defend Socrates. Defend the dialectical method, and skepticism, which have both been so crucial to the history of western thought (and are infinitely more important today than the legacy of Rome). Socrates was the practitioner of that “ dangerous and pernicious science, which was, to make the worse matter seem the better.” No thesis is complete. They all have their antitheses, and they have to be perpetually re-evaluated. And very often, they lead us to conclusions that defy common sense. Ethics, in short, is not arithmetic. Maybe you know that 2 + 2 = 4. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to stop re-considering your moral points of view.

    And yes, my argument was a red herring. I definitely think that this issue should be shifted to something more note-worthy. I state that explicitly. LU is shutting down debate? Who’s suprised? LU is a pathetic excuse for a liberal arts university, a fourth-tier institution that accepts just about anyone who applies? Now there’s something to talk about! The real conclusion to be taken away from LU’s action is not that they’ve done something bad. It’s that they ARE something bad, and have probably always been: a place where people go, not to be challenged and confronted and to grow, but to be buttered up in what they already believe, and to be given tools to deflect the intellectual onslaught that will inevitably fall upon them in Enlightened societies. (I take my definition of Enlightenment from Kant, before anyone wants to jump on that one.) Chris is a fair-minded thinker and a good writer, whose stories I actually enjoy reading. The point of my red herring was to encourage him to expend those powers on something more worthy of ink (or pixels).

    And finally, I have to ask, how was my argument an example of “cum hoc ergo propter hoc?” There wasn’t really much “ergo” to it. It was mostly just “cum hoc.” LU is a bad school. No “ergo” is required. The fact stands on its own.

  16. Jonathan:

    My point wasn’t that the study of ethics is as simple as the arithmetic that we teach to kindergartners. My point was that there is no point in questioning the truth of something when you know that it is true, regardless of how complicated it may be. Allow me to quote myself again: “Perhaps it would do me good to seek new and deeper ways to know and prove that 2 + 2 is 4, but that doesn’t mean that we should consider opinions we know to be fallacious.” I’ve actually never studied math higher than calculus 2, but, apparently, in ridiculously high levels of math, mathematicians actually come up with elaborate and complicated ways to prove that 2 + 2 = 4. My understanding of their study is that it is not intended to prove that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4, but to come to a deeper understanding of why 2 + 2 = 4.

    Ultimately, if abortion is not wrong, then Christians pretty much need to abandon their faith. Thus, your point about Socrates is irrelevant here (by the way, I read the Apology of Socrates in Greek, so be careful about questioning my knowledge about him, at least). Either way, I’m not going to get into a silly debate with you about Socrates–it’s simply irrelevant in this circumstance, for anyone who knows Christianity knows that it can’t ever be in favor of abortion. Christianity has taught for two thousand years that abortion is wrong, so if now, after anti-Christian leftists show us the light, Liberty is supposed question that teaching, what does that say about the faith they practice?

    “And yes, my argument was a red herring.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone admit that they just used a red herring. At least you’re honest. And not that you’d ever recognize it, but perhaps you could learn something substantive from Liberty–you’re clearly ignorant about Christian philosophy. But in the end, I’m not going to be involved in a discussion about what schools suck, and what schools rock. I’m above that discussion. Maybe a discussion you should have with yourself is on the topic of pride: Am I too cocky because I go to UNC (assuming you do)? Is it possible for me to learn something from someone – wait for it – who attended a less prestigious institution than UNC?

    “And finally, I have to ask, how was my argument an example of “cum hoc ergo propter hoc?” There wasn’t really much “ergo” to it. It was mostly just “cum hoc.” LU is a bad school. No “ergo” is required. The fact stands on its own.”

    Okay, I’ll eat that one, too. When I initially read your comment, I, for some reason, thought that you were saying that Liberty was a crappy institution because of her exercising her right, as a private institution, to control dialogue on her campus. To be honest, after I posted it, I was waiting for someone to call me out on that one.

    But while we are talking about it, I’d like to note that every institution, in one way or another, controls dialogue–including UNC. UNC hires liberal faculty, for the most part, and the conservative faculty members they do hire are intimidated into silence. Is this not controlling dialogue? Look at how the curriculum has changed–this definitely changes the dialogue, which implies that the dialogue is being controlled. The politically correct atmosphere of UNC serves to control dialogue so that conservatives feel as uncomfortable as possible speaking their opinions. For all UNC’s diversity, UNC students are highly uniform in the way in which they think–how do you think this makes conservatives feel? Doesn’t this influence dialogue in a negative way?

    Again, that’s why hiding behind a degree from a prestigious institution is so dangerous. You’re so focused on Liberty’s more overt control of dialogue (hey, at least they’re honest) that you are blind to the more covert control that exists at UNC.

  17. Riley,

    You’ll have to forgive my assumption that you were equating ethics with simple arithmetic, if that was not in fact what you were doing. It’s a common metaphor used in Christian apologetics, like the writings of C. S. Lewis, and you seemed to be using it. Even if you reject the metaphor, my point still stands that in light of the facts that ethical considerations are extremely complicated, and that knowledge is uncertain, the skeptical worldview is the most useful. You pretty obviously disagree, and that’s fine. You have your idea of Western Civ. and I have mine. Thank god there is no one single understanding of Western Civ. that needs to be protected by today’s youth, else we might run out of work very quickly.

    The point about the Socratic dialectic is clearly relevant, both historically and fundamentally. It is historically important because Christian churches, Rome in particular, are known for revising their statements of belief in the face of controversies. How many years did the Church hold fast to the theory of geocentrism? And what do they claim to be at the center of the solar system today? Is this a crisis of faith too? If you say that faith can’t suffer revisions, then it’s clear that your idea of faith long ago went out the window. Alternatively, Christians can (as most of them have) embrace the dialectical method, and even, by measures, the skeptical one. Plenty of people question their faith and the moral beliefs that extend from that faith, and they are stronger, smarter people than those who run LU.

    The point about dialectics is also fundamentally relevant, because self-questioning and self-challenging are fundamental requirements for anything that can usefully be called human knowledge. The question isn’t whether or not Christians or Christian institutions can “ever be in favor of abortion.” The question is whether or not they can ask themselves if they can be in favor of abortion. If they can’t do this then they are out of touch with the Western intellectual heritage you so adore; they are bunk. But they can do this, and they should do this. Every living person should do this, no matter what it’s for.

    As for the red herring bit, I misspoke. What I should have said was that my argument was an inverted red herring. I was trying to change the subject, and I admit that explicitly. But I was trying to change it from an irrelevant argument to a relevant one.

    I hope to god that you’re being ironic when you tell me I should tackle the question of my own pride (“Jonathan, am I too cocky?”), right after saying that you are “above” certain discussions and bragging about your ability to read Greek. But that’s just me floatin’ a prayer.

    “UNC hires liberal faculty, for the most part, and the conservative faculty members they do hire are intimidated into silence. Is this not controlling dialogue? Look at how the curriculum has changed–this definitely changes the dialogue, which implies that the dialogue is being controlled.”
    The intimidation factor is a control of dialogue that can be attributed to a personal force, yes. The rest of the argument, I think, is subject the the criticism of the “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy.

    And finally, though it’s a personal thing, I have to say you’re a bit of an ungracious bastard for calling me blind to the covert control of opinion at UNC. You should know I’m well aware of it. I apologized to you in person after Virgil Goode’s circus of a lecture in April. I apologized on behalf of liberals and leftists everywhere, almost all of whom do not want to be seen as would-be anarchist dolts who stifle debate. I don’t expect you to remember me, but I do expect you to know who you’re talking to before you say things that you clearly don’t understand.

  18. “…knowledge is uncertain…”

    I just thought that I’d point out that this is an oxymoron. I may seem to be acting like a jerk, but I think that it’s very relevant to this discussion. We have to assume that we can know things, otherwise we will make no progress in any field. Although humans should not take everything for granted, it is clear that not every (or, for that matter, any) human can prove every belief that they hold. This is not saying that people shouldn’t prove to themselves that their faith is true.

    Jonathan, I do realize that there are many people who tend to think that the study of ethics is highly complicated. And although I do think so, too, I’m also of the belief that it’s pretty self-evident that pulling a baby’s head out of the birth canal, opening the back of it with a pair of scissors, and sucking the brain out with a vacuum is not morally right. Personally, I don’t think anyone should question whether or not this is acceptable, not just Christians.

    Obviously, there are other forms of abortion that are not as grotesque. Of course, liberals are always going to want to debate these, and not whether or not partial birth abortion is a savage practice. Should these less grotesque forms be debated on a Christian campus? Perhaps they should be debated or discussed, but in terms of having a group that more-or-less outright supports it (I know, I know–maybe the College Democrats at LU were pro-life–see my previous posts for my response to this objection), this is simply unacceptable for a Christian university.

    You see, Jonathan, the purpose of a Christian university is that there is supposed to be intellectual GROWTH on the basis of Christianity. If students are constantly trying to prove the fibers of their Christian philosophy, then they will never progress to the tissues and organs of their philosophy, to use the body as a metaphor. A student at a Christian university has already decided that he/she is Christian, and therefore he/she has already considered and determined the morality of such a mundane thing as abortion.

    If you are interested in reading more about how Christian philosophy works (it really is no different from secular philosophy, except that it starts by proving the Christian religion and then uses that (since it has been proven) as a basis), I suggest reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica.” Aquinas starts by proving that God exists, and then proves certain elements of God’s nature, etc., and, finally, he ends up discussing a hugely wide variety of other topics that often don’t seem to have anything to do with theology. Trust me, Aquinas wouldn’t/didn’t spend too much time thinking about abortion, per se.

    When it comes to the Church and Galileo, as a Catholic, I particularly like answering this question. The Church never, to the best of my knowledge, really had a dogmatic teaching affirming geocentrism. The Church, therefore, was at liberty to alter its stance on geocentrism. Thus, there are certain teachings that can be altered, certain ones that can’t. Those ones on abortion are some of those that can’t.

    “The question is whether or not they can ask themselves if they can be in favor of abortion.”

    I suppose I need to be more clear. It’s not that Christians don’t ever ask themselves if they can be in favor of abortion. It’s that students at a Christian university should have already come to the conclusion that they are against abortion, because, if they’ve come to the conclusion that they are in favor of it, then they are not truly Christian, and therefore do not belong at a truly Christian university. Education at the university level shouldn’t teach you arithmetic (you should already know arithmetic going in), it should teach at least algebra and calculus, to use a math metaphor.

    “I hope to god that you’re being ironic when you tell me I should tackle the question of my own pride (”Jonathan, am I too cocky?”), right after saying that you are “above” certain discussions and bragging about your ability to read Greek. But that’s just me floatin’ a prayer.”

    Well, Jonathan, I’m not the one who started bashing other lesser institutions. I consider that a below-the-belt technique. I never called anyone else inferior in order to build myself up–I do read Greek, but that’s just a fact: I don’t need someone else to be stupid in order for me to be smart. Although, I’m sure you’ve done things that would make me look stupid. Such is the nature of life.

    “The rest of the argument, I think, is subject the the criticism of the “cum hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy.”

    I agree that it is subject to the criticism, at least at first glance. But then, when you look at the Women’s Studies Department, you end up coming to the conclusion that there is a controlled and well-planned effort to focus students’ minds on what the Left wants students’ minds to be focused on.

    I’m sorry I was being a bit of a bastard. I shouldn’t have said that you are blind. I still think, however, that it needed to be noted that there is thought control in every era, in every institution, in every community, in every family, in every nation, etc. It’s not that I think that thought control is necessarily evil, it’s just that we need to recognize that LU is not the only place practicing it. You clearly are aware of that, and so I humbly apologize for what I said. (By the way, I do remember you coming up to me after the Goode speech. Thanks again.)

  19. Thank you for clearing up my misunderstanding of your argument. It has helped me to realize a few things both about your position (or at least what I can perceive of it) and my own. I apologize if this

    It seems to me that the fundamental difference in our beliefs lies in how we personally view the issue of abortion–and perhaps moral issues in general. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but, based on your previous arguments, abortion for you is a clear-cut moral issue with an easily-reached conclusion. Perhaps most moral and religious conclusions come easily to you. I can’t pretend to know. However, for some of us–myself included–such answers are not easily found. Some of us must constantly struggle to define what we believe and why. In such a situation the answers don’t appear black and white but shades of murky gray. I’m not saying it’s a positive (though hopefully some good may eventually come of it). It’s simply the way things are.

    For this same reason, you perhaps don’t see the benefit of debate on this issue since for you the answer is so obvious. However, for those of us for whom answers don’t come so easily, such debate is necessary in order for us to fully define our beliefs.

    You previously stated that “A student at a Christian university has already decided that he/she is Christian, and therefore he/she has already considered and determined the morality of such a mundane thing as abortion.” See, while this may be the case for you, it is not the case for all. It is possible to be both a decided Christian and still not fully decided in your position on abortion. To you the question is mundane, but for some of us the question–even after we have reached our conclusions–still troubles us. Debate helps to strengthen those conclusions and reveal the weaknesses within them.

    You also stated: “It’s that students at a Christian university should have already come to the conclusion that they are against abortion, because, if they’ve come to the conclusion that they are in favor of it, then they are not truly Christian, and therefore do not belong at a truly Christian university.” First off, as I previously stated, not everyone has fully solidified their stance in either direction, even if they are Christian and have chosen to attend a Christian university. Secondly, I must challenge your statement that an individual cannot truly be Christian and support abortion.
    Assuming that supporting abortion is a sin (whether it truly is or not is a completely different question), what makes it so heinous as to disqualify someone from being a “true Christian”? At least based on my reading, all sins are forgivable save for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10) and, save for that, all sins are equal in the eyes of God (James 2:10). If this is the case, and a murderer and a liar are equally sinners (as we are all sinners), what makes supporting abortion so much worse as to disqualify someone from being a Christian altogether? I would like to believe in a God who would forgive us our mistaken conclusions as to what is right and wrong.

    Now, I realize this does not put forth an exceptional argument in favor of Liberty University supporting a group which promotes something with which it morally disagrees. I can only say that I believe that allowing debate on campus is important not only because for some the issue is not yet decided, but on the principle that human interpretation of God’s will is always susceptible to error. Debate, I believe, is the best way to attempt to expose the errors and find the truth.

  20. EC,

    When someone no longer agrees with a dogmatically stated principle of Christianity, they haven’t “sinned” in the manner that you describe. Rather, they’ve separated themselves from that group. For example, the Catholic Church believes that Jesus Christ was and is God. If you do not believe that Christ was God, you are not Catholic. Yes, you have sinned, but you can no longer call yourself Catholic. It’s that simple. Yes, all sins can be forgiven, but in order for them to be forgiven, you must also be sorry. If you persist in an erroneous teaching, then you are not sorry, and are not forgiven. Your comment on all sins being equal is interesting, especially given the fact that you quoted one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance. If all sins were equal, then there wouldn’t be a sin that could not be forgiven.

    Liberty hasn’t shut down debate by refusing the recognize this group. Do you honestly think that apologetics is not taught simply because they don’t allow a group like this to be formed? As a Catholic, I was taught to defend my faith, and I was shown the arguments that people used against things like the existence of God. Yet, I didn’t need a group that promotes atheism at my church in order to learn how to debate the topic.

    We live in a country that has legalized abortion. To say that these students aren’t being exposed to both sides of the issue because they won’t allow a pro-abortion group to exist on campus is absurd.

    Jonathan,

    On the issue of geocentrism: It’s a common misconception that the Catholic Church condemned Galileo’s writing because he disagreed with the Church’s “teaching” on geocentrism. The Catholic Church has no dogmatic teaching regarding this. The Catholic Church condemned Galileo’s writing’s because of the heretical ideas that he supported in those writings. He did not just write on astrology and math, but also declared his beliefs on theology and his own interpretation of the Bible. He also claimed that the Copernican model was fact, rather than a hypothesis. Galileo had previously agreed to refrain from labeling the Copernican model as a fact unless he found evidence to support it. Seeing as the evidence to solidly back the Copernican model wasn’t found until around 150 years after Galileo’s death, it is fairly obvious that he was printing unsubstantiated claims. THAT is why he was condemned by the Catholic Church. So, please do not make the claim that the Roman Catholic Church has a history of revising dogmas in the face of controversy.

  21. njr,

    I was going to let this point, previously made by Riley, slip by the wayside, because it didn’t seem that important. Even if the geocentric example was inappropriate (which it isn’t), it wouldn’t be hard to find another example of a place where a Church has changed its doctrine. But you bring it back up, so I guess it needs to be addressed.

    The claim that Rome didn’t persecute Galileo for his geocentric theory is disingenuous at best and a flat lie at worst. Perhaps Rome didn’t have an official “dogma” concerning the theory; I don’t know enough about obscure and official Catholic terminology to speak to that. What I can speak to is the fact that the Consultant’s Report on Copernicanism, dated 24 February 1616, saw the Holy Office in Rome assess the geocentric model and conclude that “this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture, according to the literal meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and the doctors of theology. ” Minutes from the Inquisitional hearing held the next day, which was of course well-documented, indicate that Cardinal Bellarmine was ordered by the Pope to warn Galileo “to abandon [his] opinion” that “the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves even with the diurnal motion.” The special injunction against Galileo issued on 26 February re-uses the same description of his geocentric theory. The Inquisitional minutes from 3 March 1616 likewise describes the theory.

    The Decree of the Index, dated 5 March 1616, bans a number of books for espousing geocentric theories, stating that “This Holy Congregation has also learned about the spreading and acceptance by many of the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to the Holy Scripture, that the earth moves and the sun is motionless.” It concludes, “Therefore, in order that this opinion {geocentrism} may not creep any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth, the Congregation has decided that the books by Nicolaus Copernicus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Diego de Zuniga (On Job) be suspended until corrected.”

    Cardinal Bellarmine’s Certificate, dated 26 May 1616, states that Galileo “has…been notified of the declaration made by the Holy Father…whose content is that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus (that the earth moves around the sun and the sun stands at the center of the world without moving from east to west) is contrary to Holy Scripture and therefore cannot be defended or held.”

    Finally, Galileo’s sentence, dated 22 June 1633, states: “That the sun is the center of the world and motionless is a proposition which is philosophically absurd and false, and formally heretical, for being explicitly contrary to Holy Scripture; That the earth is neither the center of the world nor motionless but moves even with diurnal motion is philosophically equally absurd and false, and theologically at least erroneous in the Faith.” The formal sentence is explicated thus: “We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the above-mentioned Galileo, because of the things deduced in the trial and confessed by you as above, have rendered yourself according to this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believed a doctine which is false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture: that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and the earth moves and is not the center of the world, and that one may hold and defend as probable an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture.”

    (All of these documents are widely available from university websites, particularly in the syllabi of astronomy departments. The translation I am using come from the syllabus of a West Chester University astronomy class, and can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20070930013053/http://astro.wcupa.edu/mgagne/ess362/resources/finocchiaro.html#conreport)

    It doesn’t matter what way you shake it. Galileo’s geocentric theory was a large, if not the largest reason for his persecution at the hands of the Inquisition and Rome. Say, hypothetically, “the evidence to solidly back the Copernican model wasn’t found until around 150 years after Galileo’s death,” and therefore Galileo was propagating “unsubstantiated claims,” as you say. It still means Rome persecuted a man for his scientific opinion (once again, even if it was unsubstantiated). We don’t persecute people today for holding unsubstantiated beliefs because it’s a barbaric thing to do. This time Rome just happened to do it to a man who turned out, in the long run, to be right.

  22. Let me clarify something. First, the opinions of the scientists and theologians who were members of the Catholic Church do not represent Catholic teaching. There is obviously a large difference between the opinions of certain members of a group, and the official standing that a group has.

    That being said, let’s look at your quotes and the conclusions that you draw from them. “…this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture, according to the literal meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and the doctors of theology.” You claimed that this was the opinion of the Holy See. However, your own source indicates that this opinion was held by those theologians and clergymen who actually signed the document you are sourcing. While they may be attached to the Church, as previously stated, their opinions do not represent the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    The Inquisition submitted Galileo’s claims to Rome, and had asked them to assess his two main propositions. Like most scientists of the day, they looked at his claims and his lack of real evidence and rightly declared him to be mistaken. Galileo had attempted to make such proofs through an argument based on the earth’s tides (a scientifically incorrect one) but 17th century science was simply incapable of establishing that the earth did, in fact, orbit the sun. I’m sure that you know what the Scientific Method is. Any time that someone skips a step in the scientific method, their findings are dismissed, regardless of whether they happen to be correct or not. Today, if I published a claim that was not backed by any real evidence, I’d simply be laughed at. I would be told that I needed to find proof for my claim before declaring that my hypothesis was substantiated well enough to be called a theory. THAT is exactly what the Catholic Church did to Galileo.

    I’ll use your same source (the book) to put Galileo’s claims into context: “…one must begin not with the authority of scriptural passages but with sensory experience and necessary demonstrations”. This because “Scripture appear to be full not only of contradictions but also of serious heresies and blasphemies; for one would have to attribute to God feet, hands, eyes, and bodily sensations, as well as human feelings like anger contrition, and hatred, and such conditions as the forgetfulness of things past and the ignorance of future ones”. So, we see that Galileo was not only publicly pushing the unproven hypothesis of heliocentrism, but he was also attacking the Bible.

    In addition to that, Galileo made a point of attacking the Pope himself. Galileo had placed the Pope’s favorite argument (that the omnipotent God could have created any universe, including a heliocentric one), which he had been asked to include, “in the mouth of a fool”.

    I also have a question for you. If the Church had wanted to condemn the Copernican Model, then why was Copernicus’ book on heliocentrism allowed to be published? Why was it not placed on the Church’s Index of Forbidden Books? Copernicus’ book had long been permitted, and Galileo’s own Letters on Sunspots of 1613 had been censored only where it referred to scripture, not where it asserted heliocentrism. We both know that Galileo wasn’t the first scientist to put forth the idea of heliocentrism. Copernicus had proposed it as a possible hypothesis. However, the difference between Galileo and Copernicus is that Copernicus didn’t arrogantly and wrongfully claim that his hypothesis was true, because he himself had not actually found proof for the claim. So, why is there no Copernicus Affair, Jonathan? You make the claim that the Church persecuted him for his beliefs regarding science, but they left Copernicus, the original supporter of heliocentrism, alone? Care to explain why that could be the case? Don’t worry; I’ll explain it for you.

    Anyone who has studying Galileo knows that he had a tendency to overstate his own case, and condemn his opposition (that is putting it nicely). He was extremely arrogant and even had the nick name “The Wrangler” at the University of Padua because he constantly started arguments there with everyone. So, we’ve got an arrogant and Catholic scientist, making judgments on the Scriptures (something he has no right to do), and publicly pushing for and teaching a claim that was not proven. They jumped on Galileo because he had delved into a realm that had little to do with science, he had insulted the Pope, and he was making unsubstantiated claims.

    “It still means Rome persecuted a man for his scientific opinion (once again, even if it was unsubstantiated). We don’t persecute people today for holding unsubstantiated beliefs because it’s a barbaric thing to do.” I sincerely hope that you do not really believe this. When you make a claim in the scientific world, you are expected to provide backing for your claims. In fact, forget just the scientific world. For any paper that you turn into school, whether it be High School, or College, you are required to provide proof and evidence to back up your claims. If you do not do this, then you fail the paper. If someone today did what Galileo did, he would be ostracized by the scientific community and his findings would be ignored. That is “persecution”, my friend and rightly so.

  23. Since njr has demonstrated that the Roman Catholic Church is not “known for revising their statements of belief in the face of controversies,” I will say in summation that the Church isn’t going to change her position on abortion. Not only has the Church taught for two thousand years that abortion is wrong, her teachings on the issue have stood the test of modern medicine/science. In fact, modern medicine/science does nothing but support the Church’s teaching.

    As a matter of fact, most leftists get the impression that the RCC is too staunch in her teachings, not that she stumbles in face of the Dragon.

    In any event, good luck trying to get the Church to change her teachings on abortion–ain’t gonna happen.

    Thus, since I view a good Catholic as THE ideal Christian, I believe that Liberty is acting in a Christian manner by banning a group that basically promotes abortion.

  24. Oh, by the way, unless I am horribly mistaken, the only reason Galileo made it into the history books is because he is the symbol of the resistance movement against the Catholic Church. The rebels use their misrepresentation of Galileo v. Church to show that the Church can be wrong on something, and therefore theoretically wrong on everything.

  25. njr,

    I’m sorry to have to put it this way. I’ve been refraining, but it has to come out. I understand that as a Roman Catholic you feel the need to defend your church. What you are actually doing, though, is acting as an apologist for the Roman Inquisition. You are also lying.

    You know as well as I do that popes and cardinals played highly active roles in the Roman Inquisition, and were therefore complicit in its activities. You also know as well as I do that in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition for heresy. What that heresy was is of no import; he was killed by the Roman Inquisition for his beliefs. You also know as well as I do that the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo to house arrest in 1633, where he died, even after he recanted the heretical belief for which he was tried. So, you know as well as I do that Galileo was on trial for his life against the Inquisition.

    Therefore, when you say “Today, if I published a claim that was not backed by any real evidence, I’d simply be laughed at. I would be told that I needed to find proof for my claim before declaring that my hypothesis was substantiated well enough to be called a theory. THAT is exactly what the Catholic Church did to Galileo,” you are being dishonest in the extreme.

    But when you write, “If someone today did what Galileo did, he would be ostracized by the scientific community and his findings would be ignored,” you are right. That is probably what the scientific community would do. You completely ignore the fact, however, that the Catholic Church had no intention of simply ostracizing Galileo in the scientific community. As if the Roman Inquisition was the governing board of an academic astronomical journal! Academics don’t burn people at the stake. Religious lunatics do that. The Inquisition was the political organ of a mob of religious lunatics, and they burned people at the stake. And that is what you are justifying.

    Maybe Galileo had a penchant for making unsubstantiated claims. Maybe he was contentious and arrogant. Maybe he insulted the pope. Maybe he defecated in the milk of the Virgin Mary, as the Spanish expression goes. None of this matters, when set against the fact that the Roman Inquisition forced him to recant his beliefs under the very probable pain of death. Anyone who thinks that the honor of the pope is politically more important than the freedoms of speech and conscience cannot honestly consider themselves American.

    As for why there is no Copernican Affair, your response is woefully inadequate. You do not address the fact, as I previously provided, that ‘The Decree of the Index, dated 5 March 1616, bans a number of books for espousing geocentric theories, stating that “This Holy Congregation has also learned about the spreading and acceptance by many of the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to the Holy Scripture, that the earth moves and the sun is motionless.” It concludes, “Therefore, in order that this opinion {geocentrism} may not creep any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth, the Congregation has decided that the books by Nicolaus Copernicus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Diego de Zuniga (On Job) be suspended until corrected.” ‘ The book was clearly added to the index, and for the fact that it promoted heliocentrism. Yes, it was years after the book came out. But why would Rome ban a book by Copernicus just because Galileo was an arrogant prick?

    For that matter, if heliocentric theory was not a serious reason for the Church’s persecution of Galileo, why would they explicitly state over and over again that he was “vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believed a doctine which is false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture: that the sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and the earth moves and is not the center of the world.”

    I don’t need to explain why there is no Copernicus Affair, because I have the explicit words of the Church to examine. You’re conjecturing; I’m quoting.

    It also does not matter who exactly determines Catholic teachings, and what exactly they are called. Is it dogma? It doesn’t matter. Does it come from the Holy See? It doesn’t matter. What matters is the fact that the Roman Inquisition, with the acquiescence of cardinals and popes, burned people at the stake for heresy. That makes the converse of the heresy, by all practical standards, the held position of the church. If the Roman Inquisition declares that Galileo’s heliocentric theory is heretical, and that geocentrism is the only doctrine consistent with the literal interpretation of scripture, and the pope allows his conviction, then that is what the church holds as a belief. So, in short, the church held and enforced a belief that was wrong. Maybe they didn’t and couldn’t have known better, but this is tangential. They were wrong, and they persecuted someone who was right, even if that person couldn’t have truly known.

    Yes, you’re right, I do know what the scientific method is. I also know that no one should be persecuted for heresy because they skip a step in the process. (And by persecution I don’t mean derisive laugh, or a rejection of a paper for publication. I mean the threat of execution. That was another seriously dishonest quibble from your corner.) It took them a long time, but Rome finally figured that out too. To say that Galileo was being academically reprimanded in a way that is comparable to contemporary scientific debates is either the world’s most dangerous game of make-believe, or a very flimsy lie.

    A side note for Riley: I accept your apology, and apologize for calling you a bastard. And your point is a good one: there is a form of control, even if it is decentralized, operating on the curriculum of many classes at UNC, and it is decidedly from the left-wing of the political spectrum. Even though I’m a leftist, I disapprove of such political unbalance. I can’t tell you how boring it is to sit around and not be challenged in my political beliefs. That’s why I read the Carolina Review; that’s why I went to see Virgil Goode speak, and why I tried to go see Tom Tancredo.

  26. Thanks, Jonathan. No apology needed–I knew you didn’t mean it literally.

    I’ll let njr make his response, but I’ll just say for my part that defining Catholic beliefs and distinguishing between them (are they dogma, are they not) is ESSENTIAL not only to this debate, but to the Catholic Faith as a whole. The Roman Inquisition does not define Catholic doctrine. The statements of the Roman Inquisition are not infallible. For that matter, statements by the pope himself are not considered infallible unless certain criteria are met. A catechism published by bishops is not necessarily free from error. The reason we are even discussing this is because you asserted that the Church has a history of changing its teachings. But the teachings that can be altered…can be altered. But there are those that can’t be changed. Therefore, defining which ones can be changed and which ones can’t is of the highest importance in this discussion.

    Take Pope John Paul II. He said and did stuff that made educated Catholics cringe. But those cringing Catholics needn’t worry anymore: JPII didn’t claim that any of his shenanigans were infallible.

    Ultimately, however, in order to make your argument (that the Church changes its teachings) complete, you would have to provide a DOGMATIC/LEGALLY INFALLIBLE (yes, that’s very important) document saying that geocentrism is no longer dogma. Of course, that would make your case, because it would involve the Church admitting that geocentrism had been dogma, and it would involve the Church CHANGING said dogma. I can guarantee you that you will find no such document. So, if you can prove that geocentrism was dogma, but you can’t prove that it no longer is, then, technically, that means that geocentrism is still a dogma of the Church. Which means that the Church didn’t change anything.

    I’m not saying that geocentrism is or was dogma. I’m simply saying that it’s very important to define exactly the nature of the Church’s teaching on geocentrism.

  27. You’ve brought up an entirely different topic by attacking the Inquisition. I have no intention of debating the legitimacy of the Inquisition because it hardly has any bearing on your claim that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for his scientific beliefs. Rene Descartes, a friend of Galileo, noted the censure was not confirmed by a Council or the pope but “proceeds solely from a committee of cardinals.”

    You keep harping on the Roman Inquisition, but the Inquisition was not the Catholic Church. Yes, Catholic Cardinals played a significant role in it, but you also have to realize that at the time, Catholic Cardinals were some of the finest minds that those times had to offer. They didn’t become Cardinals by being dumb, or because they had connections. The Church picked the best of the best that they could find. So, it makes perfect sense for them to be involved.

    “The book was clearly added to the index, and for the fact that it promoted heliocentrism.” Here, I’ll provide the quotes that I apparently lack: From the First Inquisition regarding heliocentrism, according to The Galileo Affair “mild censoring of Copernicus’ book (viz., removal of a passage concerning the conflict with the Bible and a handful of expressions which insinuated the physical truth of the theory)” I’ve got page numbers, if you’d like. Also, Copernicus’s book and thus the heliocentric system were removed from the Index of Prohibited Books in the eighteenth century, which interestingly enough, was the time in which stellar aberration was first discovered by Bradley.

    Let’s separate the two inquisitions and how they affected Galileo. The first inquisition was made by the Congregation of the Index. As you state, the Index did indeed place Copernicus’ book on the Index, until certain aspects of it, and some wording could be changed. Galileo precipitated this condemnation, but none of his works were mentioned in the text itself. The Congregation demanded that Galileo not advocate the claim as a theory and he agreed to follow the Congregation’s injunction. He was allowed to discuss the Copernican system as a scientific hypothesis, offering astronomical and physical arguments for and against it, but he was forbidden to advocate it as a theory. He continued to work on arguments for and against the theory, but he did not advocate it, even though he still believed that it was true and that good arguments would be forthcoming. Referring to Cardinal Bellarmine’s letter of 1615, if the “orbiting of the Earth around the sun were ever to be demonstrated to be certain, then theologians… would have to review biblical passages apparently opposed to the Copernican theories so as to avoid asserting the error of opinions proven to be true.” The difficulty in 1616 and 1633 was that Galileo had not succeeded in proving irrefutably the double motion of the Earth… More than 150 years still had to pass before such proofs were scientifically established. Yes, these are the words of those trying to crush scientific progress and persecute an innocent man.

    His first and only inquisition resulted from disobeying his previous agreement. His Dialogue on the Two Great World Systems was suspected of advocating the heliocentric model as a theory, when no substantial proof for it had been found. He was condemned for advocating the heliocentric model as a theory in his book.

    “Maybe they didn’t and couldn’t have known better, but this is tangential. They were wrong, and they persecuted someone who was right, even if that person couldn’t have truly known.” That you make this claim is absolutely incredible. Are you telling me that we shouldn’t censure errors? That he turned out to be correct is irrelevant. At the time, science could not prove that the Copernican Model was correct, but Galileo persisted in advocating it as a theory. He had the freedom to pursue arguments regarding the Copernican model, provided that he didn’t proclaim it to be true, without backing. Here’s the thing about “Freedom of Speech”. It isn’t as complete “free” as you might believe. We are not allowed to slander people, we cannot infringe upon another person’s right to free speech, and we cannot publicly lie, whether it be through a false publication, or lying under oath. Freedom of speech does not mean that you get to say whatever you want. Just as I don’t have a right to publicly state that quantum mechanics is completely wrong when I don’t provide any sort of evidence, Galileo did not have the right to proclaim the heliocentric model to be true without any sort of evidence.

    I’d also like for you to find actual proof that Galileo was on trial for his life. No where in the sentencing of Galileo does it even mention the word “death”. In fact, in the official sentence, Galileo was being threatened with imprisonment. “…that if you did not acquiesce in this injunction, you should be imprisoned.” So, while it may or may not be true that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, you have no proof, or even an indication that Galileo was being threatened with death. Instead, his writings were condemned as they proclaimed an unsubstantiated hypothesis to be a physical truth. You have the gall to call me a liar and accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, but you do so based on the false assumption that Galileo was on trial for his life. If anything, I should be the one accusing you of intellectual dishonesty.

  28. Also, based on njr’s observations, it seems that Galileo’s “heresy” of which certain clergymen spoke was stemming not from an explicit document from an infallible Council, Papal Bull, or any other dogmatic Church document, but from a Biblical interpretation held by most theologians of the day. Unless, however, there is an explicit Church teaching (i.e., a dogma) affirming such an interpretation, the interpretation is not infallible. Because, however, geocentrism was the accepted view not only of theologians of the day, but also of scientists, forgiveness must, in fairness, be granted to the clergymen who considered heliocentrism a heresy. With a lack of scientific knowledge on the topic, and with most scientists of the day disagreeing w/Galileo, it made perfect sense to take the Scriptures literally. Thus, from the perspective of literal interpretation of Scripture, and not from the perspective of a dogmatic Church document, was heliocentrism thought heretical by certain clergymen.

  29. Riley,

    I appreciate your point. The definitions of dogma and infallible v. fallible teachings are certainly relevant to this discussion. They are not, however, relevant to my particular point about religions “revising statements of belief.” I did not intend this phrase to be interpreted by a strict Catholic understanding of what it means for Rome to issue an official, infallible statement of belief. I meant it loosely: Rome has taken positions on certain topics and enforced those positions through Inquisitions. I have provided plenty of historical evidence for this. All I meant by this is that at one point in time Rome disallowed people from believing in a certain thing, and today they accept these same things as fact. Even if it’s a fallible belief that they’re technically allowed to revise, it doesn’t change the fact that at one point they persecuted people for it, and then they admitted it to be true. That is why the issue connects to LU’s banning of the Young Dems: dialectical methods of argumentation have to be permitted, which requires permitting the presentation of antitheses to any thesis, to allow us to refine our positions. Churches in the past have refused to allow the discussion of anti-theses that today they allow; it would have been best for them to just allow free debate in the first place. Please don’t think I’m picking on the Catholic Church either. I just as easily could have provided the horrendous example of the Southern Baptist Convention’s belief in the scriptural defense of white supremacy, or the Mormon church’s scriptural justification of denying blacks into their clergy, both of which have sense been refuted by the religious bodies that once held them. There is no particular reason I used the example of Galileo, but I still stand by it.

    njr,

    I’m done with this. You have:

    A) Conflated the definitions of the words “censure” and “persecute” in your sixth paragraph. Between these two words lies an infinitely large gap, so I suggest you look them up in a dictionary. Galileo suffered both, but the more important one is not the one you reference;

    B) Continued to defend the Roman Inquisition in your second paragraph, which is clearly barbaric;

    C) Not lifted a finger towards the refutation of the wealth of historical evidence that I provided, from the mouth of the Roman Inquisition which was a political organ of the Roman Catholic Church, that Galileo Galilei was put on trial for maintaining the heretical belief that the earth revolves around the sun and does not stand still, and was sentenced to house arrest after recanting this belief;

    and

    D) Stated that one does not have the right to publicly maintain a fact that is scientifically inaccurate or unverified, which is clearly wrong if it is an interpretation of the First Amendment, or tyrannical if it is a statement of political belief.

    You’re right about only one thing: I don’t have hard evidence to support the claim that Galileo was on trial for his life. As far as I can tell, that’s the one place where I’m actually conjecturing. I said what I did because I have a supreme distrust in the humanity of an institution that can murder a man for his beliefs, as the Inquisition did to Bruno. Sure, they said they would have put Galileo under arrest. But coming from the monsters that put the torch to the Bruno’s pyre, that’s not very reassuring or believable. That’s conjecture, yes, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find people in this world, other than the Catholic faithful, who will put their faith in Rome’s evil Inquisition.

    I’m done. Have at it. I encourage anyone interested in this debate to go to the link I posted above and read the documents for themselves. The history is clear.

  30. A) I believe that it is you who have muddled the lines between censure and persecution. With the ideas that you’ve presented, any time that someone is censured, they are being persecuted. According to the source that you provided, Galileo and his writings were censured. You are the one who has taken those documents, and interpreted them to mean that he was being persecuted.

    B) This is quite an interesting claim. The only comment that I made specifically geared towards the Roman Inquisition was that while Catholic Cardinals were involved, the Roman Inquisition did not and does not reflect the official teachings of the Church. How you manage to find any sort of defense for or against the Roman Inquisition is rather incredible.

    C) The “wealth” of information? My friend, you posted one link to a primary source, and then made the claim that the Roman Inquisition was in essence, the Catholic Church. I fail to see the “wealth” of information. You’re last sentence is incorrect, however. If you have read the actual documents concerning his inquisition, and put it into context with Galileo’s original agreement with the Congregation of the Index, your claim is simply false. Obviously, you can interpret it as you like, but do not be so arrogant as to claim that you have provided a “wealth” of information that I summarily ignored.

    D) Is a kindergarten teacher allowed to teach young children that 1+1 = 3? There is a massive controversy surrounding what teachers allowed to teach their students. Yet, you seem to live in this dream world where anyone can say what they desire, publicly teacher whatever they please, and even publish those potentially false beliefs. We both know that it is illegal to publish a false claim. You simply cannot do it. Just as you cannot slander someone publicly, I cannot publish a work that claims that Einstein’s physics are completely bogus without offering any sort of proof for the claim. What world are you living in to think that freedom means that you can do absolutely ANYTHING that you desire?

    You’ve also changed gears with your statement. You began with this:

    How many years did the Church hold fast to the theory of geocentrism? And what do they claim to be at the center of the solar system today? Is this a crisis of faith too? If you say that faith can’t suffer revisions, then it’s clear that your idea of faith long ago went out the window.

    The only reason why I even addressed your claim was because you 1. Claimed that the Catholic Church had an actual teaching regarding geocentrism (a claim which is false) and 2. that the Catholic Church is known for changing its position and revising it’s official teachings in the face of adversity.

    However, you now make the claim that your intention was only to point out that the Roman Inquisition censured (I guess you’ll read this as persecuted) what was perceived to be error, and enforced that censuring, with the threat of imprisonment (again, you’ll read this as death, I’ll assume).

    These are two VERY different claims. In one, you attack the Catholic Church and my Faith by claiming that our teachings and dogmas change as time goes on and in the face of controversy, which is a rather loaded accusation. In the other, you attack the Roman Inquisition as being a tyrant and forcing people to think one way, and then you draw the link between the Roman Inquisition and Liberty’s actions.

    So, Jonathan, which is it?

  31. “Oh, by the way, unless I am horribly mistaken, the only reason Galileo made it into the history books is because he is the symbol of the resistance movement against the Catholic Church. The rebels use their misrepresentation of Galileo v. Church to show that the Church can be wrong on something, and therefore theoretically wrong on everything.”

    You are, in fact, horribly mistaken.

  32. *

    Obviously, Galileo’s discoveries and contributions to the fields of astrology and math were significant enough for him to be put into history books. I believe that Riley’s point, when put into the context of this discussion, was that Galileo’s celebrity status, especially among anti-Catholics and Protestants, was and is the direct result of his being a “martyr” for science, who’s “genius” was stifled by the EVIL Catholic Church.

  33. *:

    Ask the average person who Copernicus was. Then, ask who Galileo was. Observe the different responses you get. Which one really is more significant to the scientific world? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Copernicus is much more important. And seeing that more people can identify Galileo, what can they identify him for?

    Look, the bottom line is that Galileo is only famous because he’s a symbol of the anti-Catholic movement.

  34. After having thought about it a little, I’ve concluded that I didn’t speak very well earlier. Galileo certainly contributed many things, and therefore would have “made it into the history books” in the sense that his inventions and discoveries are studied and appreciated, and he would have been credited with them.

    As njr has rightly noted, however, Galileo is more than just famous inventor and scientist. He is a celebrity who is known by most people for one thing: The controversy between him and the Church. How many people know about his work in inventing the telescope (for the purpose of observing the heavenly bodies, specifically), or his discovery of the isochronism of the pendulum, or his invention of the geometrical compass, etc.? The woefully large majority of people simply know him, as njr has noted, as a “martyr” for science. Had it not been for his controversy with the Church, the very large majority of people wouldn’t have a clue who “Galileo” was, just as most people have no idea who Alexander Fleming was, even though he has saved countless lives with his discovery of penicillin. And for all the forensics shows that people watch nowadays, how many of them know who James Watson and Francis Crick are? My point is simply that, typically, people know the inventions or the discoveries, and not the inventors or discoverers. With Galileo, it’s the exact opposite–people know him and not what he discovered or invented. They only know that he was “persecuted” by the Church. Why? Because, again, he is the symbol of the anti-Catholic movement.

    Thus, I still hold to the gist of my statement, which is that GALILEO wouldn’t have really made it into the history books–he as an individual would have only made it in the same limited way in which most other influential scientists have made it.

  35. OK, so Galileo would still be a significant figure in the history of science, but his persecution by the church elevated him to celebrity status which he didn’t otherwise deserve? He’s lucky they didn’t just burn him at the stake, like they did Giordano Bruno.

  36. His “persecution” by the Church is not what elevated him–rather, the anti-Catholic movement elevated him, using their distorted, exaggerated, and misleading account as a justification.

  37. * :

    I have already provided ample evidence to prove that Galileo was censured for his comments regarding theology, and for publishing a unsubstantiated hypothesis as a theory and fact. If you equate his censorship with persecution, then that is your choice and by your thinking, he was “persecuted”.

  38. njr, I suspect that if you were placed under house arrest for the final years of your life, you would say that was persecution. But maybe not, perhaps you would embrace the authority of the church to control your speech and movement, and rejoice in their mercy, as you recall that not so long ago others were burned at the stake for similar transgressions.

  39. While under house arrest, Galileo wrote an important book on mechanics, including his theories on acceleration, motion and inertia. To say that he was “persecuted” while under house arrest is ridiculous.

    I’ll address your persistence with regards to Bruno, as you seem to use that to justify every single one of your comments.

    You see, I can respect Galileo because he actually did contribute something to the scientific community. As I said before, his contributions to science alone were enough to get him into the history books. Giordano Bruno, however, is NOTHING like Galileo. Bruno hardly contributed anything to science in his writings. His celebrity status and mentioning in history books is due SOLELY to the fact that he was burned at the stake.

    I’ll assume that you’ve never actually read his writing. With a few select passages being the exception, very little of his writing has anything to do with astrology, and in fact, he had a fairly poor grasp of astrology.

    Your “argument” seems to revolve around the idea that Bruno was burned at the stake for his belief in the Copernican Model. However, his actual writings seem to indicate something different. The theme of his “On the Infinite Universe and Worlds” is not Copernicanism but, is rather pantheism, a theme also developed in his On Shadows of Ideas. It wasn’t so much that his writing was really on Copernicanism, but that it rather fit his personal feelings on the cosmology of the universe.

    It must also be remembered that the Catholic Church did not formally express an opinion on the Copernican Model until well after Bruno’s death. It should also be noted that one of Bruno’s inquisitors, a Jesuit, Robert Bellarmine, was Cardinal Bellarmine and the Head of the Collegium Romanum, which in 1616, was charged by Pope Paul V with examining Copernicanism in the Foscarini case (Foscarini being the first to publish a defense for Copernicanism). Interestingly enough, Bellarmine did not mention Bruno at all when addressing the Copernican Model. One would certainly think that at least some mention of his name would be made if Bruno’s condemnation was the result of his support of the Copernican Model.

    Unfortunately, unlike the case with Galileo, the records surrounding Bruno’s inquisition were lost when Rome was sacked. I can only indicate that it was unlikely that Bruno was burned at the stake for the reasons which you claim. Bruno was a formal heretic in the true sense of the word. His writings are rife with claims concerning Catholic dogmas, such as the divinity of Christ, the Real Presence, the Holy Trinity etc….His writings directly contradicted Church teachings, and I suspect that he was burned at the stake for refusing to cease teaching his false beliefs as a Dominican Priest.

    I’ll assume your response to my comment in advance: Regardless of why Bruno was killed, the Inquisition still killed a man for his beliefs.

    Here’s the thing. Catholics are “allowed” to maintain private beliefs, even if they are contrary to Catholic Teaching, provided that they do not 1. try to teach others their own private beliefs, and 2. post or publish anything to that effect. I’ll give you a real live example.

    In my church when I was about 16, we had a family that did not believe that the current Pope at the time (Pope John Paul II) was the real pope, which is obviously contrary to Catholic teaching. Everyone at the church, including the priest, had known this for years. However, it wasn’t until that particular family published those beliefs, and the defenses for those beliefs, that our priest took action. Immediately following the Sunday that they handed out their “literature” he publicly refused them the Sacraments and told them, in front of the entire church that they would not receive the Sacraments from him for their behavior.

    Here’s why Bruno was killed, in my opinion, based on what I’ve read. Bruno was a Dominican priest, and he refused to concede to any of the requests made by the Inquisition. We do know that the Inquisition requested that he agree to be stripped of his position as a priest and that he refused.

    As a priest, Bruno was a symbol of authority and knowledge. To allow him to continue to preach heretical was unthinkable, for in the eyes of the Catholic Church, the common people’s soul was at stake. They would rather kill an unrepentant and heretical priest than allow him to potentially condemn even one soul to hell for eternity.

  40. …all of this talk sure does make me happy to be an atheist. So, we have Galileo: only famous because he was muzzled by the church, which he deserved anyway. Bruno: only famous because he was burned alive by the church, which he deserved anyway.

    I could point out your amply-demonstrated ignorance wrt Bruno but I’m afraid it would be a waste of time. Let’s talk about the petty tyrants over at Liberty U. some more.

  41. You’ve taken my words, and twisted them. Galileo’s celebrity status and symbol of the bogus “science versus the Catholic Church” is the result of his censuring by the Catholic Church.

    It’s not worth pointing out my ignorance? That’s a cop out if I’ve ever seen one. If it is SO obvious, then go for it. Prove me wrong, but don’t pull crap like saying “I would prove you wrong, because you are so obviously wrong, but it’s not worth my time.” That doesn’t hold water anywhere.

  42. Yes, it’s a waste of time, and pretty far off topic here. You’re clearly no expert on Bruno and neither am I, so it seems silly to debate him. I’ll just say his story is worth investigating further.

  43. While we are certainly off topic, I highly doubt that anyone minds. In fact, I believe that one of the CD Daily’s staff commented that they had enjoyed the discussion surrounding Galileo.

    Once again, I ask you to indicate where I am so obviously “ignorant”. By your own admission, you say that you are no expert, and then in the same sentence tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Once again, that is a cop out. If you want to say that you think I’m wrong, then that is fine, but don’t claim that I don’t know a thing about Bruno and then refuse to back that claim up.

    You’re correct. His story is worth investigating further. So, go read some of what he has written. You’ll find all sorts of interesting things in his writings like extraterrestrials, that Christ was simply a very skilled magician, oh, and he discusses something akin to the Copernican Model.

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