Church of England criticizes government plans for same-sex marriage

first_img Inaugural Diocesan Feast Day Celebrating Juneteenth San Francisco, CA (and livestream) June 19 @ 2 p.m. PT Associate Rector Columbus, GA AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to PrintFriendlyPrintFriendlyShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis [Episcopal News Service] U.K. government plans to enable same-sex couples to have a civil marriage have come under attack by the Church of England, which says that “such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”The church’s comments were made in a submission to a government consultation on same-sex marriage, which was launched in March and closes on June 14.The consultation said that it plans to “enable all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.” The government has acknowledged that it intends to introduce same-sex civil marriage by the next general election in 2015.Civil partnerships were legalized in the United Kingdom by the Civil Partnership Act of 2004, which became law in December 2005. The Church of England currently makes no provisions for civil partnership ceremonies in its churches, although some clergy are believed to perform same-sex blessings at their discretion.The government intends to retain the option of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, including the ability to have a civil partnership registered on religious premises, but it says it would make no changes to religious marriages. “This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman,” its report states.The church’s submission, which is unsigned but reportedly drafted by members of the House of Bishops and other senior figures in the Church of England, states that marriage “benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which includes, for many, the possibility of procreation. The law should not seek to define away the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women.”The Church of England’s marriage liturgy notes: “Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship, as his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and in bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children.”The church’s submission criticizes the government for implying that there are two categories of marriage – civil and religious. “This is to mistake the wedding ceremony for the institution of marriage,” the submission says. “Changing the state’s understanding of marriage will, therefore, change the way marriage is defined for everybody and, despite the government’s assurances to the contrary, will change the nature of marriages solemnized in churches and other places of worship.”The Rev. Colin Coward, director of LGBT advocacy group Changing Attitude, issued a statement June 12 saying that the church’s submission was a “disaster” and that it had been drafted “without consulting those most affected by the proposal – lesbian and gay members of the Church of England.”“The Church of England’s statement and response have achieved headlines which send a message to the nation that Christians are prejudiced against lesbian and gay people and have set out to block moves to equality in marriage and justice for lesbian and gay couples,” he added. “It is a disaster for the mission and evangelism of the church.”Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the Church of England’s second-most-senior cleric, has been outspoken in opposing the government’s plans.In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper earlier this year, he said: “Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are.“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.”Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales also responded to the consultation urging the government not to proceed with the proposals “in the interest of upholding the uniqueness of marriage as a civil institution for the common good of society.”The Methodist Church of Great Britain also has opposed the government’s proposals.Among the religious groups that have supported same-sex marriage are Quakers in Britain, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism.The government has assured religious institutions that they would not be compelled to perform same-sex ceremonies on their premises.But the Church of England states that several major elements of the government’s proposals have not been thought through properly and are not legally sound.“Ministerial assurances that the freedom of the churches and other religious organizations would be safeguarded are, though genuine, of limited value given that once the law was changed the key decisions would be for the domestic and European courts,” the submission states, adding that the consultation exercise is “flawed, conceptually and legally.”Coward argues that many lesbian and gay Anglicans want equal marriage, religious as well as secular, in church “because for us marriage is a spiritual as well as a legal institution which strengthens and enriches both the couple and society.“There is no evidence to support the Anglican hierarchy’s claim that to change the nature of marriage to include same-sex couples will be divisive. The recognition of long-term same-sex relationships has no impact on the institution of marriage for heterosexuals.”About a quarter of weddings in England take place in Church of England churches. According to the church’s website, marriages in the Church of England increased by four percent in 2010 to 54,700. Rector/Priest in Charge (PT) Lisbon, ME The Reverend Canon Susan Russell says: Submit a Press Release Same-Sex Marriage The Church Pension Fund Invests $20 Million in Impact Investment Fund Designed to Preserve Workforce Housing Communities Nationwide Church Pension Group Family Ministry Coordinator Baton Rouge, LA Julian Malakar says: Assistant/Associate Priest Scottsdale, AZ By ENS staffPosted Jun 12, 2012 June 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm Now that our supposedly learned and liberal ArchBishop of Canterbury (first among ‘equals’) is leaving I was hoping the C of E would come to its senses. Especially since it has not agreed to sign the Anglican Covenant in its current draft. But, alas white male heterosexist patriarchy dominates not only the Anglican Communion but other parts of the communion. ‘Fight the Power’ and realize scripture evolves in its understanding and context. Ughhh. I will continue to sing in the choir and challenge the sunday school to see the history of the Church and its inherent biases since the Apostles. Priest-in-Charge Lebanon, OH Human Sexuality, June 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm The CoE’s and other churches’ position on same sex marriage is, as we say in New York City “BULL”. It may even be Papal !!! Ya no son extranjeros: Un diálogo acerca de inmigración Una conversación de Zoom June 22 @ 7 p.m. ET This Summer’s Anti-Racism Training Online Course (Diocese of New Jersey) June 18-July 16 Featured Events Rector Smithfield, NC TryTank Experimental Lab and York St. John University of England Launch Survey to Study the Impact of Covid-19 on the Episcopal Church TryTank Experimental Lab Tags Join the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Celebrating the Pauli Murray Feast Online Worship Service June 27 Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency Course Online Course Aug. 9-13 Youth Minister Lorton, VA June 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm Thanks God for opening eyes of Bishops finally in defending original true meaning of marriage between one man and one woman that carries from generation to generation. Denying traditional meaning is equal to denying history. Concept of sexual orientation is modern day invention, therefore it demands a new term for union of same sex. There is no superior or inferior of the word. It is win-win situation. Supporting traditional meaning of marriage does not mean, opposing equal rights of civil partnership of same sex, bigotry, hatred, etc. etc. World recognizes gay man and lesbian woman are different from straight man and woman, why should there not be a different term that expresses long term relationship between same sex? Forceful imposition of state law against faith of believers, violets principle of separation of state and church. John David Spangler says: Marylin Day says: June 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm Please come quickly Christ our Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To even have to debate on an “abomination” in the church is ridiculous. READ scripture and DON’T twist it to mean something it is not. But the “BIBLE” means nothing to those who don’t believe in” ABSOLUTE” truth anyway, even those who are so-called “educated”. I have friends who live an alternative lifestyle and most know that it’s wrong according to scripture and they do it anyway, and I love them anyway, just like Christ. I know what scripture says, and I try my best to follow it, if there is a problem it’s between those who support and live that lifestyle and Christ. Course Director Jerusalem, Israel Missioner for Disaster Resilience Sacramento, CA Director of Music Morristown, NJ Canon for Family Ministry Jackson, MS Michael Neal says: Rector Collierville, TN June 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm The only thing that is going to interfere with the “intrinsic state of marriage as a union between a man and a woman” is the man and the woman. They are the worst offenders with their extra curricular activities and living together before taking their vows, not to mention bringing children into the world. A relationship of commitment between two people does not require sexual orientation but, rather, it is a commitment of love, trust, friendship, devotion and fidelity. Sound familiar? If God brings two people together to share their lives and grow old together, so be it. Civil marriages, by the way, also apply to a man and a woman. Since marriage is a God given entity and if He is not invited to share in the ceremony then all you have is a civil union, whether heterosexual or homosexual. The church should bless the union and be done with it, with proper counselling of course . June 13, 2012 at 9:24 am I’m so tired of these accusations around “inclusive” and “exclusive.” My experience in higher education and Church have and continue to show me that those who yell “inclusive” the loudest tend to be the most exclusive – they allow for no other opinion than their own. It is an affront to the notion of “all welcome at the table,” because all are not welcome unless those others capitulate to the already determined conditions made by those who yell “inclusive/inclusion” the loudest.There are legitimate reasons held by some who wish to retain a man-woman definition for “marriage” that have nothing to do with an attempt to exclude anyone. I say this even though I favor same-sex marriage. If we want real “inclusion” (particularly as it might be defined by Jesus and not secular dogma), then we need to quite throwing dispersions at people who disagree with our opinions – and quit being so insecure within ourselves that this kind of childish and short-sighted response is all we get. We cannot have civil conversations that might actually change hearts and minds with those whose opinions differ from our own if this is how we respond. Curate Diocese of Nebraska Submit an Event Listing Church of England criticizes government plans for same-sex marriage Assistant/Associate Rector Morristown, NJ Judith Wood says: Seminary of the Southwest announces appointment of two new full time faculty members Seminary of the Southwest Rector (FT or PT) Indian River, MI Remember Holy Land Christians on Jerusalem Sunday, June 20 American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem Press Release Servicecenter_img Comments are closed. Comments (12) Rector and Chaplain Eugene, OR New Berrigan Book With Episcopal Roots Cascade Books Rector Martinsville, VA June 13, 2012 at 6:45 am All the more reason for not adopting the Anglican Covenant! Bob Griffith says: Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Virtual Prayer Vigil for World Refugee Day Facebook Live Prayer Vigil June 20 @ 7 p.m. ET Associate Priest for Pastoral Care New York, NY June 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm It is sad to see bigotry against homosexuals robed in religious prevarications as done by the Church of England in its submission on same-sex marriage. We have only to think of the abuse of homosexual people over the centuries and most especially during the Holocaust to understand that the time has arrived to end this campaign of discrimination, torture, and murder now. For the Church of England to inform the Civil Authority that it cannot adjust the civil law in favor of integrating the “least of these” into our society for trumped-up religious reasons is humiliating and wrong. I hope the Bishops in their wisdom will see fit to repent of their bad witness to the faith we share and rethink their submission. In-person Retreat: Thanksgiving Trinity Retreat Center (West Cornwall, CT) Nov. 24-28 An Evening with Aliya Cycon Playing the Oud Lancaster, PA (and streaming online) July 3 @ 7 p.m. ET The Church Investment Group Commends the Taskforce on the Theology of Money on its report, The Theology of Money and Investing as Doing Theology Church Investment Group Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Hires Reverend Kevin W. VanHook, II as Executive Director Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Rector Pittsburgh, PA Assistant/Associate Rector Washington, DC June 13, 2012 at 10:38 am It is not the “position” of the bishops with respect to marriage that bothers me. Everyone has his or her opinion on the subject that is unlikely to change. It’s the rationalization, the justification for the belief, which reveals the increasing narcissism found in the church at large. There is no way that any human law, any human oppression, any human-declared justification will ever change anything that is “intrinsic.” The glaring lack of understanding for the human psyche and the overstatement of one human’s ability to state the value of another in God’s eyes is not only frightening, but flies in the face of the “inherent” uniqueness of every human’s relationship with God. Enough pontification about your authority over the authenticity or “rightness” of another’s relationship! If you hate same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same gender and leave others alone. Director of Administration & Finance Atlanta, GA Episcopal Church releases new prayer book translations into Spanish and French, solicits feedback Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs Rector Shreveport, LA Rector Knoxville, TN Rector Albany, NY Virtual Celebration of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center Zoom Conversation June 19 @ 12 p.m. ET Featured Jobs & Calls Rector Washington, DC June 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm There seems to be some distress within the Church of England about this “submission.” It is unclear who is responsible for it — apparently not the House of Bishops or the General Synod — and what authority it has. There is considerable dissent about it in the Church of England — see, for example, remains to be seen how all this will develop. Associate Rector for Family Ministries Anchorage, AK Tod Roulette says: Rector Bath, NC Rector Belleville, IL Vally Sharpe says: Anglican Communion, Rector Hopkinsville, KY Bishop Diocesan Springfield, IL June 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm Why does the C of E want to continue to be an “exclusive” church which does not allow all members the same benefits? Please join us in the 21st century! Priest Associate or Director of Adult Ministries Greenville, SC Fred Horton says: The Rev. Canon Richard P. McDonnell, D.Min. says: An Evening with Presiding Bishop Curry and Iconographer Kelly Latimore Episcopal Migration Ministries via Zoom June 23 @ 6 p.m. ET Curate (Associate & Priest-in-Charge) Traverse City, MI John Speller says: June 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm Three quick takes on a Busy Tuesday:1- By this argument, same-sex couples change the nature of marriage the same way the ordination of women change the nature of priesthood.2 – You’ve got to love an “unsigned report” which was “reportedly drafted by senior officials” speaking for the Whole Church. Thank God for the Tea in the Boston Harbor!3 – Three cheers for the First Amendment. Submit a Job Listing Cathedral Dean Boise, ID Rector Tampa, FLlast_img read more

Council call for children’s respite house to be opened

first_imgNeil Shanahan stands up for his brother Martin with his mum Martina at St Gabriel’s Respite Centre.Photo: Arthur EllisTHE fact that St Gabriel’s Respite House for children with acute, life-limiting conditions remains closed a year after completion was this week blamed on a “totally dysfunctional HSE”.Independent councillor Fergus Kilcoyne had a motion before this Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan District calling on the Council to ask the incoming government to release funds so the respite house can be opened without delay.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up He went onto suggest that until a new government is formed that a letter to that effect should be sent to all political parties.Fianna Fáil councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the Mungret-based centre has been “neglected”. It should be a matter of urgency for the next government and he supported the call for funding to be found to open the centre.Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler said there was a high level of demand for the service and agreed that the state-of-the-art facility needs to be funded as a matter of urgency.“It is the HSE’s decision at the end of the day. Children could be using it and instead, a valuable resource is lying idle,” he said.Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin said it beggared belief that the respite house remains closed one year after its completion. He hit out at the HSE describing it as “totally dysfunctional” and laid blame with the “shambolic management structure at the higher echelons of the HSE”.“China built a hospital in ten days,” he pointed out.Party colleague Elena Secas agreed that the HSE needed to be held accountable and called for members of its management to be invited to answer questions at City Hall.Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins spoke of meeting the families of children with life-limiting conditions at the respite house in the run-up to the General Election to hear their stories. He said the most “heartbreaking” part of the encounter was having to leave the respite house and see its doors closed behind them after the event.“We are not looking at a plan, we are looking at a dream. The building is there.“St Gabriel’s don’t want to take funding away from anyone else. They want the HSE to provide funding so that families whose children have life-limiting illnesses can go for a sleepover so parents can take a break,” he concluded. Linkedin Facebook NewsHealthPoliticsCouncil call for children’s respite house to be openedBy Alan Jacques – February 21, 2020 110 Twitter WhatsAppcenter_img Previous articleThe Breakdown EP131: Ireland travel to Twickenham to face EnglandNext articleCity councillor calls for an end to online trolling Alan Jacques Advertisement Print Emaillast_img read more

Cake Brands names Rachel Clark accounts manager

first_imgBaked goods supplier Cake Brands has appointed Rachel Clark as national accounts manager for its Sussex-based More Food business.Clark has 20 years’ experience in the baking sector, said the company, and formerly worked at Handmade Speciality Products, where her role included production and buying.Established in 2003, Chichester-based More Food entered administration last September, and was immediately sold as part of a going concern to Sussex Bakes, part of the Cake Brands business.Clark joined the firm just ahead of the launch of More Foodservice, a new brand and website to enable online ordering of wholesale cakes for next-day delivery.“I have joined More Food to help with the growth of sales,” said Clark. “In a short space of time, I have made many contacts, and things are looking promising.”Cake Brands explained that its commitment to innovation, and increasing demand from customers, led it to look for an addition to the team who would fit the ethos of “innovation and exceptional service”.“Cake Brands are confident Rachel will play a key role in providing and implementing a high-quality service for their customers,” stated the company.last_img read more

Governor Wolf Announces $2.1 Million for Advanced Training to Retain, Diversity Teachers and School Leaders

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter August 06, 2019 Governor Wolf Announces $2.1 Million for Advanced Training to Retain, Diversity Teachers and School Leaderscenter_img Education,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the Pennsylvania Department of Education has awarded $2.1 million in grants to 11 universities to support innovative teacher and school leader preparation programs designed to expand, diversify, and strengthen the commonwealth’s educator workforce. The grants represent the second year of funding for one of the nation’s most ambitious year-long educator residency initiatives.“Many of our communities with the greatest needs also struggle to attract and retain teachers and school leaders, which directly impacts students,” said Governor Wolf. “These grants will allow our universities to provide advanced training to better prepare educators to serve in our most high-need areas.”The universities and awards include:Expansion Grant Awards – Funding may be used to provide financial support to teachers or principals who undergo a full year of clinical experience before earning their instructional or administrative certification.Principal Residencies:Lehigh University, Bethlehem – $298,665Robert Morris University, Moon Township – $199,416Millersville University, Millersville – $299,599University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia – $299,869Teacher Residencies:Clarion University, Clarion – $74,598Drexel University, Philadelphia – $200,000Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana – $200,000Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown – $300,000Planning Grant Awards – Planning grants are used to identify and develop strategies for embedding a full year of clinical residency experience within the teacher or school leader preparation program.Principal Residency:Temple University, Philadelphia – $75,000Teacher Residencies:Gannon University, Erie – $75,000Penn State Main Campus, State College – $75,000Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera noted that increasing the number of collaborative field-based, practical educator preparation experiences was a priority recommendation within Pennsylvania’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan. He added that this year’s round of grants will ensure equitable, geographically balanced expansion of the initiative.“Year-long clinical residency programs offer a greater level of involvement in classrooms and schools, providing novice teachers and principals with vital, hands-on experience that will make them better educators and will increase the likelihood that they remain in the profession,” he said. “This year, we’re expanding the scope to reach more areas of the state. Grant recipients involve both traditional and charter schools, and engage an array of partner local education agencies, from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, to smaller urban districts, to rural districts in between.”Clinical residency programs must be developed in partnership with at least one high-need local education agency (LEA) that serves high rates of historically underserved students or demonstrates chronic, multiple teacher shortages in key certification areas including special education and teaching English as a second language.For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.last_img read more

Nelson’s Megale wins gold at Provincial Series Boardercross

first_imgRiders from BC, Alberta and Yukon competed for two days at Big White on sunny and icy conditions for a chance to qualify for the national finals coming up in April.BC Snowboard Association (BC Snowboard) is a non-profit society incorporated under the laws of the Province of British Columbia and is recognized by the Canadian Snowboard Federation (Canada~Snowboard) as the official provincial sports organization responsible for snowboarding within BC. Finnegan Megale of Nelson captured the gold medal in the men’s under-13 division at the Provincial Series Boardercross event this past weekend at Kelowna’s Big White Ski Hill.Megale, riding for the Ripping Giraffe Boardshop team, edged out Xander Appels of the Kelowna Big White Freestyle team and Daniel Loban of Lake Country for the top prize.last_img read more

Oshane Bailey – good start to 2016

first_imgFormer national champion, Oshane Bailey, is looking forward to an injury-free season and a bid for a place in the Jamaican Olympic team.Speaking just after a controlled 100-metre win at the Western Relays in Montego Bay on Saturday, Bailey was cautiously optimistic about his prospects for 2016.Asked to assess his early season races, he said: “Yes, fairly good start to the season right now.”At the Grace Jackson/Queens meet two weeks earlier, he looked zippy over 60 metres, as he stopped the National Stadium clock at 6.60 seconds. On Saturday in Montego Bay, he smoothly sprinted to a winning time of 10.32 seconds. His run was aided by a wind barely over the allowable limit at 2.2 metres per second.He said his move from Akan Track Club to the GC Foster College of Physical Education and the Sprintec Club has been “alright so far”. He had been coached by Michael Clarke ever since his transfer from Vauxhall High School to Calabar High, and stayed with Clarke at Akan when his schoolboy days ended in 2009. Now he is coached by Maurice Wilson.His new training partners include 2008 Olympic 100-metre silver medallist Sherone Simpson and 2014 Commonwealth 200-metre winner, Rasheed Dwyer.”I’m getting myself used to the camp right now,” he said of his new training environment at Angels, Spanish Town, where the college is located.His senior career started well as he beat Olympic finalist Michael Frater to win the 2010 national 100-metre title and reached the Commonwealth Games final. Now 26, he set his personal best of 10.11 at the 2010 NACAC Under 23 championships.Consistent since then in the 10.1 range, he got a taste of high-level international action as anchorman of the Jamaican 4×100 team in the heats at the 2013 World Championships.With injury trouble and the change of camps behind him, Bailey is taking the Olympic year step by step. The three-time individual Boys’ Championships medal winner has straightforward goals for this season.”Going to the Trials injury- free, going to make the final,” he said. “The rest will come.”last_img read more


first_imgBRITISH Army soldiers sparked a Donegal lifeboat launch, it has emerged.The soldiers were taking part in exercises at Magilligan Point in County Derry on Thursday.However they also used numerous flares, sparking emergency calls to the Irish Coast Guard. Greencastle Lifeboat crews were despatched into Lough Foyle fearing a boat was in distress.But the crew was stood down when Malin Head Coast Guard station was later able to establish the flares were from British military exercises.The presence of the military zone – just across the water from County Donegal – has long angered local people on both sides of the Border.Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín wants the British Army training area at Magilligan to be closed “if there is any chance of building a tourist industry in the area.” Large sections of Benone beach are closed during long periods due to British Army live training exercises along the beach. This includes helicopter gunships strafing the dunes with rockets and machine gun fire.“When the live firing exercises are being held fishermen and boat users are prevented from using a section of Lough Foyle and a large section of the beach is closed. This is having a detrimental effect on those who make a living from the sea and those in the tourist industry,” he has said.The British Army base is also polluting the Lough with untreated sewage being pumped directly into the sea. BRITISH ARMY EXERCISES SPARK DONEGAL SEA SEARCH ALERT was last modified: July 26th, 2013 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:GreencastleMagilliganmilitary exercisesRNLIsea alertlast_img read more

49ers add WR Bolden, DL Delaire before facing Cardinals

first_imgSANTA CLARA — The 49ers not only activated wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr. to their roster Saturday but they also elevated defensive lineman Ryan Delaire from the practice squad, making both available for Sunday’s home game against the Cardinals.Defensive back Tyvis Powell and offensive lineman Najee Toran were released.Bolden is coming off a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and he adds depth at wide receiver and as a return specialist. The …last_img

What Can Science Really Know?

first_imgTwo book reviews on philosophy of science appeared in the leading general-science journals Nature and Science last week.  Both of them downplayed the oft-told triumphalist portrayal of science as a progressive path toward infallible knowledge – the picture most students get in school.    In Nature,1 N. David Mermin (Cornell) gave a surprising reprimand to an icon of triumphalist science: Alan Sokal (see 06/03/2008 commentary).  Sokal’s famous hoax against the postmodern deconstructionists in 1996 embarrassed them soundly and signalled the approaching end of the Science Wars of the 1990s.2  Sokal emerged as a champion of scientific realism.  His bold trick made him a darling of the scientific establishment.  The hoax’s value as a victory for scientific claims to epistemic superiority is debatable, though.  Some viewed it more as a boyish taunt than a serious conflict over ideas.  Among them is the reviewer of Sokal’s new collection of essays, Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture (Oxford, 2008).  Mermin, a physicist and colleague of Sokal, did not have much good to say about this book.  He considered Sokal’s treatment of critics of the triumphalist spirit of science as ill-informed, dismissive and shallow.  He found much to agree on, “But Sokal’s unwillingness to expand his frame of reference to accommodate legitimately different points of view undermines his effectiveness as a scourge of genuine rubbish,” he concluded.  “I would like to think that we are not only beyond Sokal’s hoax, but beyond the science wars themselves.  This book might be a small step backwards.”    In Science,3 Kim Sterelny (philosophy program, Australian National University and Victoria University of Wellington) reviewed William C. Wimsatt’s essay compendium, Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality (Harvard, 2007).  Wimsatt, whom Sterelny considers “among the most creative, original, and empirically informed philosophers of our day,” dealt with the problem of finite humans trying to form idealized conceptions of natural phenomena that are too complex to grasp in their entirety.  These idealizations are heuristic devices.  Scientists believe by faith they can be refined with further research and become better approximations to reality.  In turn, higher-order complex phenomena can then be reduced in terms of their simpler components: i.e., biology reduces to chemistry, which reduces to physics.  Scientific explanation becomes organized into hierarchical domains of increasing complexity.  So much for the triumphal picture:It is common ground between Wimsatt and his targets that these ideas about science are idealizations, perhaps even extreme ones.  But Wimsatt argues that they are unhelpful idealizations.  For they idealize away from what we most need to explain: the cognitive success of limited beings.  Treating science as ideally rational is like a developmental biologist using preformationism to model development: the subject matter of the discipline has been idealized away.Wimsatt respects the success of science but understands that causes and effects are not simple.  There exists a “causal thicket” because elements at one level are not always influenced by adjacent levels.  If you understand the chemistry of the atomic bonds in DNA, for instance, how much do you really understand DNA translation?The world is messy.  We are fallible and bounded.  Yet science progresses with great reliability.  Wimsatt’s conception of science is organized around these three facts.  Like science itself, his account is partial and incomplete, an approximation organized around the idea of a heuristic.  Many questions are left open, and much could be challenged.Perhaps one question that arises immediately is how a messy, heuristic approach to epistemology could yield reliable knowledge.  In a new lecture series on the solar system,4 professor Frank Summers (Southwest Research Institute) stated openly that concordance with reality is not important in science.  If a theory has good explanatory power and makes good predictions, that’s what matters.  With that in mind, he had surprisingly good things to say about Ptolemy’s earth-centered model of the solar system.  It explained complex motions in terms of simple geometrical shapes, and helped its users make predictions to sufficient accuracy for 1500 years – hardly an achievement to sneeze it, whether or not the model corresponded to the way things “really are.”1.  N. David Mermin, “Science wars revisited,” Nature 454, 276-277 (17 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454276a.2.  The Sokal Hoax episode is discussed at length in a lecture series by the Teaching Company, “Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It” by Steven L Goldman, Lehigh University.3.  Kim Sterelny, “Philosophy of Science: Addressing Complexity,” Science, 18 July 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5887, p. 344, DOI: 10.1126/science.1156895.4.  Frank Summers, New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System, The Teaching Company, 2008.As these book reviews show, it’s overdue to dispense with the triumphalist, progressivist view of science.  None of these factors guarantee science has a grip on truth: (1) it gets a lot of money, (2) a lot of smart people practice it, (3), it appears to be successful, (4) the textbooks portray it as victorious over superstition, (5) it wins Nobel Prizes, (6) it has a “scientific method” (whatever that is), (7) geeks major in it at school, (8) it’s hard and uses a lot of math, (9) it explains things, (10) it uses a peer review system, (11) it has big organizations and publishes impressive journals, or (12) it owns lots of big buildings and museums.    Clearly science seems “on to something” because of its practical successes in medicine, electronics and the space program, but even then, how much of the success is due to trial and error?  How much is due to practical engineering?  How much do we assume is true simply because it works according to the best theories of the day?  One only need look at history to see many examples of practical success using theories we now believe are wrong.    The “hard sciences” like physics and chemistry arguably have the best case to make.  They give us practical benefits like lasers, computers and robotic spacecraft that arrive at distant planets on schedule.  But arriving at Saturn and taking pictures of its rings is different from explaining how Saturn got there in the first place.  Even physics gets pretty far out when it comes to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, or the many-worlds interpretation, or cosmology.  How much more the storytelling that goes on in psychology and evolutionary biology and uniformitarian geology?  It’s not beyond belief to foresee today’s leading theories being tomorrow’s pseudosciences.Look at how many of science’s claims to epistemic priority have been undermined by philosophers of science:There is no one scientific method.Even if there were a scientific method, exercising a method cannot be done without making assumptions and judgments.There are no demarcation criteria between science and pseudoscience that can reliably keep the good stuff in (physics) and the bad stuff out (e.g., astrology).Scientific discovery follows no rules: it can come from hard work, tacit knowledge, accident, or even dreams.Scientific hypothesis-making follows no rules.  Few scientists arrive at a hypothesis out of raw data without some hunch or intuition of what to look for.  Many scientists have their hypothesis before looking at any evidence at all.Scientific explanations are fraught with logical pitfalls.  Reducing a complex phenomenon into simple principles runs the risk, for instance, of “explaining away” the very thing to be explained. Induction is subject to serious criticism.  It begs the question that patterns in past experience will continue in the future.Prediction is no reliable guide to good science.  Astrologers and other pseudoscientists often succeed at predictions.  Predictive success runs the risk of affirming the consequent: a logical fallacy.  That’s why Karl Popper denied predictive success has any role in scientific justification.Falsification rarely succeeds in overcoming a paradigm’s web of belief.Scientific reasoning may differ in diligence but not in substance from other kinds of reasoning.The requirement for natural laws is fraught with pitfalls.  Are laws descriptive or normative?  Statements that sound like laws may be nothing more than accidental generalizations.  Laws also make claims that far outrun experience; on what basis can they be justified?  Should natural laws be permitted that have zero instances?  Newton’s did – e.g., “A body in motion acted on by no external forces will continue in a straight line forever.”  Some legitimate sciences, like biology, employ few natural laws, and the ones they do employ are often plagued by exceptions.Science is a vague term with wannabees trying to latch onto the prestige of the word.  Where does one draw the line?  At social science?  political science?  economics?  Christian Science?  Scientology?  The speculations even within a “hard science” like physics are arguably just as unproveable as those of a “soft science” like psychology.What are you left with?  “What works for our needs right now.”  We call something scientific if it gives us some nice feelings with its explanations, allows us to make useful predictions, or gives us some practical control over the world.  Its grip on reality or truth is tenuous at best.    Once we get past triumphalist science, we should take a more informed look at other avenues of human knowledge.  History and the humanities might want to re-assert some of their claims in the marketplace of ideas.  Likewise, philosophy and theology have been footstools of imperial science for too long.  Provided that scholars in other fields apply sound principles of reason, use thorough research methods, interact where theories are analyzed and different points of view are considered, and build on prior knowledge, are their methods really so different from those of science?  Aren’t these good practices for any kind of research?    At the end of the 19th century, science was king.  Two world wars later, and a century of revolutions in philosophy of science later (with no clear winners), it’s time to re-evaluate science’s claims to special epistemic status and cultural priority.  Take another look at that quote by Dr. Daniel Robinson at the top right of this page.(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA scientists to unearth fossils live online

first_img A laboratory studio, designed in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, will be built at the Maropeng Visitor Centre in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. It will allow the public to view the preparation of this skeleton live if they visit Maropeng, or live on the internet. “The laboratory studio will be also linked to laboratories at Wits University and the Malapa site,” Berger said.Virtual outposts Access to the laboratory studio will not be limited only to visitors to the Cradle of Humankind and the internet. “We intend to create virtual ‘outposts’ in major partner museums around the world,” he said. “These outposts will allow visitors to these partner museums the chance to interact with scientists in real time in a way we simply could not conceive of a few years ago. “It is anticipated that the laboratory and virtual infrastructure will be built within a year, expanding our ambitious tourism and smart province infrastructure programme.” Negotiations have begun with the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. “We have already donated casts of Australopithecus sediba to these three institutions, among others,” said Berger. “It has also just been confirmed that one of the virtual outposts will be hosted in the new Shanghai Natural History Museum due to open later this year.” SAinfo reporter 16 July 2012 South African scientists will share the country’s latest fossil discovery with the world when the uncovering of these remains is transmitted live on the internet from a laboratory studio in Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind. Professor Lee Berger from the Wits Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg announced the plan to uncover the fossils live in Shanghai, China last week. Berger was visiting China as part of a South African delegation promoting trade, business and tourism relations between the two competitive city regions, Gauteng and Shanghai.‘The most complete early human ancestor skeleton’ The skeleton housed in the rock is believed to be the remains of early human ancestor Australopithecus sediba, known as ‘Karabo’, which was discovered by Berger at the Malapa Site in the Cradle of Humankind in 2009. The rock containing the fossils was discovered almost three years ago, but lay in the Wits laboratories until early last month, when Justin Mukanku from the Institute for Human Evolution spotted a tooth in the rock. It was then scanned in a state-of-the- art CT scanner, which revealed more bones. “We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record,” Berger said in a statement. “This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock.”Encouraging ‘open access to science’ To faciliate open access to science and public participation, Wits, the Gauteng provincial government and national government announced that, for the first time in history, the process of exploring and uncovering these fossil remains would be conducted live, captured on video, and conveyed to the world in real time. “This will allow members of the public and the scientific community to share in the unfolding discovery in an unprecedented way,” Wits said in a statement.last_img read more