Florida “Healer” Sentenced To Three Years Of Jail For Fraud

Sherry Tina Uwanawich, 29, has been sentenced to more than three years in jail in a novel case in Florida. Uwanawich was convicted of swindling a woman out of $1.6 million to lift a curse. A Gypsy healer, Uwanawich claimed to have a direct line to God. The case rekindles questions over the line between legitimate faith (and gifts to religious organizations) and faith-based fraud. Most of the major religions claim miracles as well as communications with God. Most receive large donations, including from people hoping to be healed or helped. The question is when such claims amount to fraud or just faith. We have previously discussed this issue over the liability of fortune telling and super-natural services (here and here).

The government calls it wire fraud, plain and simple.

Uwanawich, 29, operated under the name Jacklyn Miller, and insisted to the court that she did indeed have special divine powers to ward off curses. Such beliefs are common to the Roma culture and Uwanawich has worked as a fortune teller since age 17.

Uwanawich received the money from a medical student from Brazil who was depressed after losing her mother. Uwanawich said that a curse was at the heart of the depression. The woman would ultimately pay Uwanawich with student loans and borrowed money to lift the curse as well as her inheritance.

Most of us view the facts as horrific and fraudulent. However, most of us do not believe in curses or witches or the like. Many major religions bless people to ward of evil and even Sarah Palin witch-proofed herself before running for Vice President. Is the difference one of the extent of the contributions or the basis for the belief? What is not clear in the case is how the court articulated the distinction.

What do you think?

69 thoughts on “Florida “Healer” Sentenced To Three Years Of Jail For Fraud”

  1. This is a timely article for this discussion. If it’s being the NYT paywall, I can post the entire article:

    At the same time, we should resist an impulse that also afflicted the biblical Hebrews. In 1 Samuel 8, the Hebrews demand to become “like all the other nations” by abandoning their special obligation to God and choosing a king who fights for only them. Like Israel in its faithless moments, America is untrue to itself when we neglect individual rights and equality among citizens of various origins, faiths and creeds in favor of cohesion and power. Nationalism that opposes what is unique in the nation is not conservative. It is a contradiction in terms.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/opinion/america-religion-bible-nationalists.html

  2. I think it was fraud. I also think it is difficult for the government to try a case that is faith-based fraud.

    Gypsis, or similar groups like Travelers, are rather infamous con artists. Some families are considered organized crime. They have a bit of an us-and-them mentality, earned over hundreds of years of being pushed on by townsfolk. They live a nomadic existence, and the girls marry extremely young. They are not educated, typically. There is a reason why there are prejudicial cliches about gypsies, such as the verb, to be “gypped”. They were persecuted for centuries, and the Nazis targeted them as racially inferior, as their origin was India. On the other hand, they have a bad reputation as con artists. I don’t know what came first, the nomadic existence and persecution, or the crime. If the former was causal, or just coincidental.

    Obviously, not all gypsies engage in cons. It is, however, a common part of the culture. Caveat emptor when dealing with gypsies. They made a rather charming addition to the plot in Snatch, where Brad Pitt played a traveler.

    https://www.policemag.com/338798/gypsies-kings-of-con

    Here is the religious context to the Roma con:

    “A Gypsy child is raised being told the tale of the young Gypsy boy who saved the life of Jesus. The tale (with some variation) tells of four nails made to be used in the crucifixion: one each for the hands of Jesus, one for his feet and the fourth, a nail of gold, for his heart. Late at night the Gypsy boy stole the golden nail, so when the crucifixion took place the next day, only three nails remained. God appears to the young Gypsy boy telling the child his act of thievery saved Jesus from having the nail plunged through his heart. In payment for the boy’s deed, God allowed the Gypsies the right to steal with no moral consequences … forever and ever.”

    So, perhaps more accurately, not only are curses part of the Romany culture, but so is the con.

    I find the nomadic cultures of Rom Gypsies, Gypsy Cops, and Travelers to be fascinating. One would have to have their wits about them when dealing with them, to be realistic. The almost total lack of importance of education is frustrating, as it handicaps their children.

    Anyone who believes that all gypsies are con artists are over generalizing. Anyone who does not understand that crime, whether pretty or large, is part of gypsy culture, is not living in reality.

    Gypsies are a lightening rod. There are articles written about the Romany diaspora and persecution, and Gypsy crime families.

    1. I think the Gypsies are an example of a circular fate.

      Children are raised by nomadic, uneducated families, and are not given regular schooling. Many gypsies cannot read or right. The ones who are educated at all typically have not graduated high schools.

      A nomadic lifestyle combined with a lack of education means limited employment opportunities. They cannot get ahead on piecemeal work. Granted, they also don’t usually have mortgages. Crime is common in the families, and the children learn it. The only way to make significant money under these circumstances is crime.

      It’s a vicious cycle that repeats, generation after generation. Their nomadic culture precludes any different outcome. The only way out of it is to settle down, stay in one school district, and ensure the children graduate high school, and a trade school or college. That can almost never happen in a Romany family. The average age of marriage for a Romany gypsy is 15, and I believe Travelers are similar. They are therefor having babies during what would be all of their high school years.

      Outsiders can decry the lack of acceptance of the Romany, the high dropout rates, the poverty, and they can claim it’s the poverty that drives the crime, but much of it is self inflicted by people who seem to have no agency in the matter. It is all decided for them from birth by those already caught in the cycle.

  3. I start with the East.
    Chinese fortune tellers are called suan ming
    The Chicoms tried to stomp out both religion and superstition in China
    they failed at both objectives
    wisely, they have mostly given up at these insane objectives, and now just tax and control them

    across cultures I think this is what you would find from polling people:
    some fortune tellers have good reputations and are helpful
    some are just cheats

    here is a scam they pull sometimes
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blessing_scam

    this is nearly a universal institution across cultures
    for my part, i regard it as superstitions

    now I turn to “The West”
    a thing which exists and we come from it, like it or not.

    we had a good agreement for a long time on the difference between superstition and religion

    CIcero, a lawyer, and a pagan, put it wisely:

    “Superstitio est in qua timor inanis deorum, religio quæ deorum cultu pio continetur”, i.e.

    “Superstition is the baseless fear of the gods, religion the pious worship.”

    the Catholic faith traditionally identifies certain species of superstitions. most protestant sects essentially followed the same doctrines. from heading “superstition” in Catholic Encyclopedia

    “There are four species of superstitions:

    improper worship of the true God (indebitus veri Dei cultus);
    idolatry;
    divination;
    vain observances, which include magic and occult arts.
    This division is based upon the various ways in which religion may be vitiated by excess. Worship becomes indebitus cultus when incongruous, meaningless, improper elements are added to the proper and approved performance; it becomes idolatrous when it is offered to creatures set up as divinities or endowed with divine attributes. Divination consists in the attempt to extract from creatures, by means of religious rites, a knowledge of future events or of things known to God alone. Under the head of vain observances come all those beliefs and practices which, at least by implication, attribute supernatural or preternatural powers for good or for evil to causes evidently incapable of producing the expected effects. The number and variety of superstitions appear from the following list of those most in vogue at different periods of history:
    astrology, the reading of the future and of man’s destiny from the stars;
    aeromancy, divinations by means of the air and winds;
    amulets, things worn as a remedy or preservative against evils or mischief, such as diseases or witchcraft;
    chiromancy, or palmistry, divination by the lines of the hand;
    capnomancy, by the ascent or motion of smoke;
    catroptomancy, by mirrors;
    alomancy, by salt;
    cartomancy, by playing cards;
    anthropomancy, by inspection of human viscera;
    belomancy, by the shuffling of arrows (Ezekiel 21:21);
    geomancy, by points, lines or figures traced on the ground;
    hydromancy, by water;
    idolatry, the worship of idols;
    Sabianism, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars;
    Zoolatry, Anthropolatry, and Fetishism, the worship of animals, man, and things without sense;
    Devil-worship;
    the worship of abstract notions personified, e.g. Victory, Peace, Fame, Concord, which had temples and a priesthood for the performance of their cult;
    necromancy, the evocation of the dead, as old as history and perpetuated in contemporary Spiritism;
    oneiromancy, the interpretation of dreams;
    philtres, potions, or charms intended to excite love;
    omens or prognostics of future events;
    witchcraft and magic in all their ramifications;
    lucky and unlucky days, numbers, persons, things, actions;
    the evil eye, spells, incantations, ordeals, etc.”

    this quote and more information available at newadvent.org

  4. “…Jacklyn Miller…insisted to the court that she did…have special divine powers to ward off curses. Such beliefs are common to the Roma culture and Uwanawich has worked as a fortune teller since age 17…”

    Unfortunately Miller’s “divine powers” and “fortune teller” skills failed to warn her of an impending 3 year prison stay.

    Shall the warden allow Miller to tell fortunes in prison, maybe in exchange for candy or other food favors?

  5. Religion, mythology, superstition and tradition all embody human beings’ irrational fear of existence.
    Human beings demonstrate or exhibit this irrational fear of existence because they deny or, attempt to deny, they are in nature; one species in a biological system. No more; no less.

    Logic:
    Hypothesis Before the fact.

    Law:
    Assumes a fact not in evidence.
    Assumes a fact which must be proven.

    Common Sense:
    Magical thinking creates fantasy, not fact.

    What is claimed without evidence must be dismissed without evidence.

    dennis hanna

    Xenophanes:
    1
    The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
    While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
    “If oxen and horses and lions had hands and were able to draw with their hands and do the same things as men, horses would draw the shapes of gods to look like horses and oxen would draw them to look like oxen, and each would make the gods’ bodies have the same shape as they themselves had.
    2
    Men create the gods in their own image.

    Xenophanes
    570 – 480 B.C.E. was a Greek philosopher, theologian, poet and social and religious critic

    dennis hanna

  6. The conviction should be overturned based on religious discrimination. In fact, christian churches along with other religions of the book and many other religions take money for healing people all the time. Sometimes they take sums as large or larger than this. If it is allowed in other religions then it must be allowed here, otherwise the government is violating the first amendment.

    Church’s should pay taxes and their books should be open to the public. The state needs to make plain that they will enforce laws against illegal behavior such as failure to pay minimum wages and child rape. However, if someone wants to pay for an exorcism by the priest at the Catholic church there is nothing different from this case. Unless the state starts jailing priests for exorcisms this violates our Constitution.

    1. False, law enforcement agencies acting in the scope of their duties can tell difference between a fraud and a standard religious practice.

      In America people don’t understand religion well perhaps this is why we don’t make the fraud Scientology subject to persecution as it is in other sane nations.

      As for Gypsies well if you’re from Europe or close enough to people who are, this one was an easy call.

    2. Jill,
      “christian churches along with other religions of the book and many other religions take money for healing people all the time”

      This is not accurate. Mainline Protestant churches most certainly do not do this.

      1. Prairie Rose,

        Some do and some don’t. It is necessary to face up to this. I know a mainstream christian faith healer and she does not charge for her healing work because that would violate her religious beliefs. However, I know plenty of other people who do charge for it. It really does depend on the person and the church community itself.

        The real point is this, arresting someone from one religion for receiving payment for services while ignoring payments made to religions that the government accepts violates our Constitution. Either they all get arrested or she goes free.

        1. Jill,
          “Some do and some don’t. It is necessary to face up to this.”

          While I do not have any hard numbers, I do not think this is as common or as mainstream as you perceive. None of the mainline Protestant churches I have attended do any such thing. By mainline, I mean Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, perhaps Baptist. While I have never attended a Baptist or an Episcopal church, I have attended various Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches in several states. They did not do ‘faith healing’.

          People lump all Christians together as though they all believe the same things. That tendency troubles me, and, your generalized statement–“In fact, christian churches along with other religions of the book and many other religions take money for healing people all the time.”–seemed to reflect this misperception. I am sure that was not your intent.

          I have attended many churches and have never met a ‘faith healer’.

          I do agree with you somewhat that there is an element of caveat emptor to the situation, and, like you, I support the First Amendment. However, I do disagree regarding churches paying taxes. Most churches are most definitely philanthropic and run on a shoestring budget. It is only a few bad apples that violate our sensibilities.

          1. Prairie Rose,

            This faith healer I spoke of is from a Methodist Church! Modern medicine runs out of answers many times. In some cases people turn to faith healing. Some faith healers are genuine. This does not mean they will always succeed in curing the sick. Remember too that even a cured person will eventually die.

            It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like faith healers or churches which engage in that. Certainly, the hatred I see in other posts towards people who are Gypsies would work well for the Nazi extermination plans. None of that hatred matters. The Constitution says the law must be neutral towards religion. It may not favor one over another, even if someone hates Gypsies or doesn’t trust in faith healing.

            We remain in disagreement on tax exemption for churches.

            1. i think taxing more nonprofit assets and activities is a really good idea, churches included

              HOWEVER i do not agree that the Constitution says “The law must be neutral towards religion.”

              it says:

              “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

              Folks often think it means quite a bit more than what the text actually reads. The SCOTUS has a lot of cases on that which over time have drifted more and more towards overt hostility to “organized religion.” That is not a matter of democracy, that has been a matter of judicial tyrranny based on occasions supplied by special interest groups and fanatics like michael newdow. he by the way is a jewish atheist, which is relevant in light of the history of jewish persecution by chrstian sects, etc,

              https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1281&context=jcl

              the issue is complicated and maybe the article i linked helps illuminate the topic

              my main point in this small post is that the First Amendment is used for a lot more by the courts, than what the text says

              i could get into the most obvious thing here, which is that it was a restriction on the US and NOT the states– but it was only after the civil war it was incorporated against the states. some of which had their own “Established Churches” for quite some time, with no legal troubles from the SCOTUS

              but then it will be too much like law school and heaven forbid i usurp the professor’s role on his own blog….. but you can read up on it here

              https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/801/established-churches-in-early-america

            2. Jill,
              “This faith healer I spoke of is from a Methodist Church! ”

              That blows my mind. I have never belonged to a Methodist Church which had or advocated faith healing.

              Makes me think of a scene from The Muppet Movie when Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog stop by an old country church and inside Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem are jammin’. Fozzie says, “They don’t look like Presbyterians to me!” 🙂

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdnbZUn4Ajc

              I do agree that mainstream medicine can run out of answers for some people’s struggles. I suppose it depends upon what is meant by ‘faith healing’. It doesn’t have to look like the ‘pastor’ in Leap of Faith.

              We can remain in disagreement regarding tax exemption for churches, but I do not understand why you are in support of taxing churches.

            3. Jill,
              “It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like faith healers or churches which engage in that.”

              I wouldn’t say I don’t like faith healers. I am highly skeptical of them in general, as it often seems to be almost superstitious and New-Agey, but also recognize that there are some practices that may actually have benefit. I guess that might be described as open but guarded.

    3. Church’s should pay taxes and their books should be open to the public

      Does that apply to other philanthropies, Jill? While we’re at it, on what set of transactions are you expecting them to pay taxes?

      1. The faith healer uses laying on of hands. She is a really kind, genuine person who tries very hard to help others.

        Everything should be taxed because we all use the roads, bridges, harbors, etc. that taxes pay for. It is also necessary to keep organizations honest. Churches need their books independently audited. That said, at this point, USGinc. is so utterly evil and corrupt that I think no one should pay one dime. FASBI56 was passed which allows the govt. to have a secret, non-disclosed budget. At that point, they have no accountability to the people at all and they are not entitled to our tax money. (See Catherine Austin Fitz for a good explanation of this situation.)

        1. Jill,
          I am sure she is a lovely person. Touch can most definitely help with healing.

          “Churches need their books independently audited.”

          Our church undergoes an audit every now and again (it is regular, but I do not know how frequently). People within the church want accountability for how their money is spent, too.

          1. Everyone can fall short (sin). Therefore, churches need to be audited by outside entities for real transparency. That way, people understand what they are giving money for and where that money is actually going, etc. If people want to buy their pastor a private jet, I will criticize that, but as long as they understand that’s what they are giving money for, then you can’t fix stupid!

            There is always a right to know about churches and other entities such as this govt.!

            1. Jill,
              “Therefore, churches need to be audited by outside entities for real transparency. ”

              Yes, I am pretty sure ours is.

        2. Everything should be taxed because we all use the roads, bridges, harbors, etc. that taxes pay for.

          Jill, my questions was ‘what set of transactions’? I have news for you ‘everything’ isn’t taxed.

        3. Everything should be taxed because we all use the roads, bridges, harbors, etc. that taxes pay for.

          So you want to do away with Religious, tax-exempt non-profits. In doing so you will also have to eliminate it for all these other organizations as well. Make your case.

          Becoming a Non-Profit
          Charitable nonprofits that wish to become 501(c)(3) tax-exempt must meet three tests:

          The Organizational Test
          Tax-exempt nonprofits must be organized for a lawful purpose in one of these categories:

          Educational
          Religious
          Charitable
          Scientific
          Literary
          Testing for public safety
          Fostering certain national or international amateur sports competitions
          Preventing cruelty to children or animals
          The Political Test

          Organizations seeking 501(c)(3) status must state explicitly in their organizing papers that they will not participate in any political campaign on the behalf of any candidate or make expenditures for political purposes. There are 501(c) groups that can engage in these activities, but not 501(c)(3) organizations.

          The Asset Test
          A nonprofit’s charter must state that it prohibits distribution of assets or income to individuals (except as fair compensation for their services). The organization must also explicitly state that it will not be used for the personal gain or benefit of its founders, employees, supporters, relatives, or associates.

  7. “All religions have failed to prove their prime assertion that there is a higher power.” Well, atheists have failed to prove their prime assertion that there isn’t a higher power. So their prime assertion is as faith-based as the Pope’s. That makes atheism just another religion. And every time a court says a monument or display must be taken down isn’t that an establishment of religion?

    By the way, Uwanawich’s mistake was not pulling this scam in San Francisco.

  8. It is far past time to tax all religious/spiritual organizations which profit from their adherents. By itself this would eliminate 1000’s of cases of fraud yearly.

    1. Churches do not profit from their congregants. Most churches run on shoestring budgets. People give money to not only keep the lights on and doors open, but also to support food pantries, grief counseling, addiction counseling, bringing meals to the elderly and infirm, digging wells in poor countries, etc.

      You could attend several churches of various sizes and denominations to actually see what they are quietly doing for the people in their communities and beyond.

  9. Woody Allen has spent at least that amount on psychologist, etc. and his curse has not been lifted. Why are they going after this poor girl?

    1. Well, a curse was sentenced to jail. That may have been God’s plan all along.

      Isaiah 55:8-9
      8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
      9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  10. Kenneth Copeland is a pastor & business man…..And business has been good

    Ken’s net worth is about $760 million dollars…..Tax exempt….God willing

    1. And therein lies the source of the problem. Want to know about televangelism? As with everywhere else, follow the money. Copeland got nothing on Paisley.

    1. Do you (u) want a (wana) witch (wich)?

      When she gets her interview at the Pearly Gates there will be a stand in for Saint Peter. His name will be Bill Gates and he will “bill” her for her right of entry.

  11. “Most of the major religions claim miracles as well as communications with God. Most receive large donations, including from people hoping to be healed or helped.”

    This seriously twists how churches actually operate. It is a misapprehension of church and prayer and God. The large donations to churches are typically to support the works of the church for the elderly, grieving, poor, abused, ignorant, addicted. There is prayer for the healing of people who are sick, but that is not why people give. People give to help others.

    1. I’ve always had problems with the mechanics of intercessory prayer. It seems to rely on the notion that pleading with an all-powerful, all-knowing supernatural being will somehow convince it to change reality, a reality that logically cannot change given the being’s perfect knowledge of the future. Further complicating the mechanics is the notion that pleading with other supernatural beings, such as angels and saints, will also convince God to change his unchangeable mind. (I don’t object to prayer as a meditation, but not as a means to change reality).

      1. Al O’Heem,
        I, too, struggle with intercessory prayer to a degree. I like the element of it that people, thinking of the pain and suffering of others, desire to, somehow, alleviate the hurts others are experiencing. An individual who knows that others are praying for them can experience a sense of peace. In this way, I applaud the concept of intercessory prayer. It is another way people can think about helping others; it is good for people to think about the well-being of others.

        Yet, like you, I think bending the laws of physics to change reality would be wrong. Socrates said something to the effect that people should pray for blessings in general [or, acknowledge those they have] because God knows what is good. That seems very humble.

        Prayer, in its meditative form, can be a way to help settle down chaotic thinking, help with self-reflection, and help people consider ways to live better lives.

        “God to change his unchangeable mind”

        I am not certain his mind is unchangeable. Perhaps some of the examples where He seems to change His mind are really tests of the people, I am not certain. Abraham said, “Will not the Lord of all the Universe do what is right?” and Moses pointed out that God would be breaking His word if He destroyed the Israelites in the desert after getting them out of bondage in Egypt.

        1. It is interesting the way God “tested” people in the Old Testament. Surely he would know the outcome of any test. God knew that Job was a good man: the bet with the devil had to be a sham if you believe God is omniscient. The same with Abraham: no need to cause such emotional stress about murdering his son when his righteousness was assured. The only thing one might guess about the mind of God is that it is nothing like our own, even if we are made in his image.

          1. Al O’Heem,
            Yes, there are many interesting paradoxes in the Bible.

            “The same with Abraham: no need to cause such emotional stress about murdering his son when his righteousness was assured.”

            I don’t know if the story is so much for Abraham and his righteousness at being faithful to God as it was for everyone else reading/hearing about the rest of the embedded elements of the story. Yes, Abraham was faithful and was going to do the horrific–sacrifice his beloved son. There is also the important element of God essentially declaring that human sacrifice should not be done in His Name (considering it was a common practice of other religions) by stopping Abraham and redirecting him to the ram. I think it is interesting the ram was caught in the thicket. Strikes me as symbolic… Anyway, Jordan Peterson has a fascinating discussion of this story from a psychological perspective, if you have not yet listened to/watched it:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yUP40gwht0

            “The only thing one might guess about the mind of God is that it is nothing like our own, even if we are made in his image.” 🙂

            https://appletree101.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/made_in_gods_image_by_maciomhair.jpg

  12. Faith is a matter of believing something which is not supported by valid reasoning or evidence. Sometimes it means persistent belief in the teeth of contrary argument and evidence. People with faith are often commended by other believers for their ability to do this.

    This is a gift to fraudsters. If you can inspire faith, you can get away with anything. The problem for the law is drawing a distinction between sincere faith and deliberate exploitation and making it stick.

    It seems that the likes of the FBI are happy to do this in the case of small-timers but confronting large, well-resourced organisations doesn’t have the same cost-benefit ratio for them, so the do nothing about large-scale organised abuse, e.g. the ‘Church’ of Scientology.

    1. Faith is a matter of believing something which is not supported by valid reasoning or evidence. [Trump/Russia Collusion] Sometimes it means persistent belief in the teeth of contrary argument and evidence. [Post-Mueller Nadler et al] People with faith are often commended by other believers for their ability to do this. [Trump Derangement Syndrome.]

      This is a gift to fraudsters. If you can inspire faith, you can get away with anything.[Political class] The problem for the law is drawing a distinction between sincere faith and deliberate exploitation and making it stick.

      I’m with Jesus Christ!

      1. I’m sorry, I don’t see your point here. You can apply what I wrote to unquestioned political ideology just as much as to religious ideology. Fine.

        I take your final line to mean that you think Christian faith is different, but it isn’t.

        Churches, with all their varied and often incompatible doctrines serve to mediate between the individual and the divine. They are human institutions and they are what most people place their faith in, in practice. Mad, greedy, televangalists are living proof that this faith is often misplaced.

        I can’t see how someone can directly place their faith in Christ unless they believe they are a prophet with privileged access to the divine. That and the fact that I’m an atheist.

        It still seems to me that believing in things without valid reasons or evidence on the basis of culturally-bound numinous experience is unreliable at best.

        1. most “belief” in complicated phenomena is culturally inculcated via language itself
          and by belief i mean stuff like the notion that the sun is the center of the solar system

          99.99999 % of people alive today have no direct observational experience which verifies for them that the sun is the center of the universe. probably even less. most of us just believe it based on confidence and authority.

          all the observable reality of non-telescopically observable heavenly bodies can be worked out in a geocentric system

          you skeptic type guys who always pop up to scold believers underestimate the extent to which you yourselves are just believers too

          1. and I’m not trying to refute the heliocentric model of the solar system. i am just asking for people to appreciate that a lot if not most of our beliefs about “systems” and complicated phenomena is passed down according to social proof and authority and not “reason”

            you can see how totally irrational beliefs are being passed down today on the basis of social proof and authority in university subjects and courses of bogus “study” which actually do fly in the face of observable reality

            in fact I contend that the reflexive condemnation of all religion as irrational is as much an unfounded, arbitrary “belief” as the any of the religions themselves

            though I am not a bible thumping fundamentalist, and I do not associate with them, I agree with what i heard one say many decades ago — a very smart assertion:

            “secular humanism is itself a religion”

          2. I didn’t intend to scould anyone, and I speak for myself. Putting me into a category (sceptic) may be way to discount what I say without considering it. That and I’m English, so I’m unfamiliar with the discourse you ascribed to me.

            You can play with epicycles (wheels within wheels) and fudge an Earth- centered system of perfect circles to produce inaccurate results.

            This doesn’t alter the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun, planetary orbit s are elliptical (simplifying calculations enormously) and telescopes are cool (what do you have against them?).

            All of the arguments and evidence to support this are out there in forms that anyone can check for themselves, if they have the intellect and put in the work.

            If things were simpler, the universe would be impoverished – but there are always those who need a simple answer to a complicated question.

            Besides, if your thesis is true, it rebounds on you because you are “just” a believer, with no evidence of reason in your corner.

            1. your beliefs about logic too may have faith at the root too or perhaps you forgot intro to algebra

              the faith comes in the form of axioms

              a= a, etc

              supposedly according to some this is a self evident law of nature

              now, for fun, quantum mechanics enters the conversation
              built upon the edifice of experimental science, with its rigorous adherence to reason and observable fact and testable, falsifiable hypotheses and so forth, they have come up with “experimental proof” that in fact an electron can both spin left and spin right all at once

              moreover, it can supposedly be in two places at once!

              moreover, if you look at it, it may start spinning in the other direction just because you looked at it!

              so in these things, quantum mechnics has apparently undermined both identity and causality

              figure that one out. i am not that smart, i been trying to make sense of it for 30 years, and the best sense anybody made of it was when a physicist told me “this is just on the super small or super large scale. on our scale all the normal stuff applies”

              OK DOC I WILL JUST TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT SINCE YOU ARE A HIGH PRIEST OF ACADEMIA — see how that works?

              back to faith and social proof for big systemic things and supposed “laws” of nature —
              and your own common sense for observable reality

        2. scicrit,
          “It still seems to me that believing in things without valid reasons or evidence on the basis of culturally-bound numinous experience is unreliable at best.”

          What is it that you think people are believing in? What constitutes valid reasons?

          I really do want to know. Those are important points.

        3. You can apply what I wrote to unquestioned political ideology just as much as to religious ideology. Fine.

          The point is wherever human nature is involved, what people have faith in matters. Without God, what is the highest power? In civil society, it is the government. In nature, it is the individual. What do you get from a government perceived to be the highest power? You get a government that is accountable to no one but themselves. Oaths don’t matter. And that is exactly where we are today.

          I take your final line to mean that you think Christian faith is different, but it isn’t.

          It’s only different in one major way; Christians don’t believe government is the highest power; there is a God. And there is no intermediaries between them and God. Leaders within their faith may set themselves up as such, but once again, they have exactly the same nature as those they are leading. What do you get from a government perceived to be equal under the law? You get a government accountable to the people because they are ultimately accountable to God? Oaths matter.

  13. What do you think?

    That this sort of post brings the usual clods out of the woodwork, which should apprise you of the pitfalls of trying to protect people at every turn from the wiles of others and their own bad judgment.

  14. I think someone needs to look at Scientology for this, and worse, crimes…

    … giving “faith” a free pass give a free pass to all kinds of fraud and abuse.

  15. What /is/ the difference between faith and fraud? One is better organized. All religions have failed to prove their prime assertion that there is a higher power.

    Should this turn out to be the fulcrum upon which religion is relieved of its tax-privileged privilege cash flow we will be better off as a nation.

    1. Not all religions assert a “higher power.” Neither Buddhism, Taoism nor Shinto, for that matter, engage in any higher-power hallucinations about an imaginary creator entity.

      1. some sects of Buddhism are jam packed with gods ,godlings, demons, curses, and all the rest
        Taoism is barely a distinct religion anymore, mostly absorbed into other cultural things

        you are thinking of Zen perhaps which is non-theistic, perhaps.

        Shinto certainly believes in a world populated by invisible spirits.

    2. you’re a fool. there’s a huge difference. this is obvious except to a small number of ideology-obsessed atheist fanatics

      it takes a lot of presumptuousness to believe that you are the highest creature in the vast universe, or outside of it; but that doesnt stop folk like you from believing it

    1. That sort of thing is a reminder that in certain respects there’s a degree of decadence in the culture that hadn’t yet been reached in 1973 (not a golden age, to be sure).

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