National Atheist Day 2013

Monday, April 1, AD 2013

atheism, atheist, delusion

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.” 
―    C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Our annual salute to atheists, those members in good standing of the herd of independent thinkers who are convinced there is no God, and that the Universe materialized from nothing in some scientific fashion that will be explained to us shortly.

Here at The American Catholic we do appreciate atheists and wish them to hone their arguments when they come visiting us.  Here are a few helpful hints:

1.  Catholics are not Fundamentalists-Atheists often have Bible verses that they memorize in order to attempt to discomfit Christians.  Unfortunately for them different sects of Christians read the Bible differently.  What might discomfit a Fundamentalist has no impact on a Catholic who has 2000 years of teaching as to the many ways in which a Biblical passage can be interpreted.

2.  Hitler was not a Catholic-Hitler was born a Catholic but had stopped believing in the Faith long before he became ruler of Germany.  In conversations he evinced a hatred for Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  When you attempt to use Hitler as a club against us, it merely displays a profound historical ignorance on your part.

3.  Religion starts all the Wars-After the bloody last century, in which most wars were caused by atheist totalitarian systems, that argument needs to be cast on the ashheap of history.

4.  Pedophile priests-Attempting to discredit Catholicism because some priests and bishops have caused great evil, is like attempting to discredit Christ because one of His chosen Apostles betrayed him.

5.  Read Saint Thomas Aquinas-You will quickly lose any Catholic audience unless you can show some familiarity with the proofs of the existence of God of the Angelic Doctor.

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40 Responses to National Atheist Day 2013

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  • That article seems to be written by a Catholic who has as little understanding of a reasoned Atheist as he claims most Atheists do of Catholics.

    “..and that the Universe materialized from nothing in some scientific fashion that will be explained to us shortly.”

    Who said anything about shortly? As the Church as 2,000 years of teaching, study and contemplation, why can’t science? The difference is, with this statement, you seem to have given up looking and are content with the bumper sticker answer of “God did it. I believe it. That settles it.” Atheists would like to continue looking for details, and it may take some time.

    I say “you” here, because there are many Catholics who separate the “who” from the “how” and have contributed mightily to the science of cosmology.

    But, then again, reasoned, rational, non-confrontational blog posts don’t generate as many hits, do they?

  • “Who said anything about shortly? As the Church as 2,000 years of teaching, study and contemplation, why can’t science?”
    Science proceeds at its own pace, set by the skill and wit of the scientists involved. The problem for atheists is their categorical statement that there is no God. Unless we take the non-existence of God simply as an article of faith, something most atheists deny, then the problem of Creation ex nihilo must be resolved. Such a problem does not present itself for Agnostics who are merely certain about their uncertainly.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrdKgzwnA9Y

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html?_r=0

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/05/not-understanding-nothing

  • I’m wary of “bigotry” arguments regarding religion. I assume many commenters here (and myself) think Islam in and of itself has issues for example, and it’s not bigotry to make that case. Likewise if people think Catholicism has certain negative teachings that make it unworthy of belief/support they can be debated.

    though yeah, once you extend criticism of a religion to religious people as individuals you’re getting in that territory

  • Atheism is a major part of the most murderous ideology ever devised by man.

    Since atheists deny god, then evidently the universe just went “poof” one day and began to exist, just by random chance. The same thing applies to all developments since.

    Such an argument is far more ridiculous than any half-baked atheist rant about a sky fairy.

  • Long time no read, Donald. Gosh, that song was a painful listen. Might I suggest substituting “Atheists Ain’t Got No Songs” by the Steep Canyon Rangers as an alternative that won’t make our ears bleed? 😉

  • I had used it on an earlier National Atheist’s Day, but just for you cminor here we go:

  • I agree that most atheists fail because they pick fights with strawmen, but let’s be careful not to do the same.

  • #3 is very important indeed. I still hear that argument and of course it’s very true that more people died under totalitarianism in the 20th century, totalitarianism which was atheistic in belief.

  • Donald — Correct, but for many “atheism” is a verbal shortcut not to “there is no God at all” to “the Christian concept of God is bunk”. But, yes, absolutists are frequently fools and we all know the admonition against arguing with fools…

    Penguins Fan — “Since atheists deny god, then evidently the universe just went “poof” one day and began to exist, just by random chance. The same thing applies to all developments since.”

    Wow, no. That last sentence is just flat out wrong. I suggest you read Thomas Aquinas’ Five Proofs of God’s Existence as suggested in the article. He deals with PRIME causes, not necessary everything that follows. Getting it started is the trick, not keeping it going.

    You say “I don’t know, so God did it”, I say “I don’t know, but we’re working on it”. The hard problems are the most fun.

  • “Donald — Correct, but for many “atheism” is a verbal shortcut not to “there is no God at all” to “the Christian concept of God is bunk”.”

    It is fascinating to me how people who would have deemed themselves agnostic a generation ago now claim the title atheist. I suspect it is because agnostic has developed a fairly weak connotation. Additionally, because most people, on all sides of issues, do not reason as tightly and with as great precision, as most people did say a half century ago. We live in sloppy times, both in our speech and in our thoughts.

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  • Good point. Reasoning is not valued as much in common debate. Sometimes its not even welcome. Try reasoning wiht the homosexual debate and all you will get is sentiment. They will talk over reason or write it off as bigotry. Reason doesn’t hold water a lot of times, unfortunately. As people reject the world created by God they give up a certain amout of reason too.

  • Atheist on deathbed; “the darkness..the darkness…the everlasting darkness.”

    I’m coming into my thirteenth year working in geriatric’s and their final days on Earth.
    One professed atheist on his deathbed SCREAMED and HOWLED uncontrollably just before giving up the ghost.
    It was then and there that I fully understood these words; “Only a fool doesn’t believe in God.”

  • Charles, don’t insult my intelligence and waste my time telling me I am wrong. You are wrong. Catholics have been among the world’s great scientists, especially among astronomy.

    Now, I don’t expect you to believe it, but I have had two experiences in my life that proved to me God is real and exists. My wife’s father saw the miracle of the sun at Fatima in 1917. So did 50,000 other people. They did not all make it up.

  • Penguins Fan-
    John Haffert’s book ( Meet the Witnesses ) is an excellent collection of on the scene witnesses giving their testimony of the Fatima miracle.
    Atheists, scoffers, journalist, doctors..the crowd of witnesses we’re present for different reasons, and the beauty of the Event unites them in ways unimaginable.
    Charles may find it humors, or not.

  • To raise issue with each of your points in turn with reasons as to why:

    1. Is this not a somewhat beneficial “hint” for the Theist side of the argument? My reasoning is that there are some atheists (like myself) have read the Bible and know it well and are able to quote certain teachings from it that may contradict a specific argument. To assume all atheists make such quotes purely to get a “fundamentalist” response is a somewhat narrowminded assumption of this section of society, and to suggest that such a thing be avoided is akin to an atheist saying “there is no God and you may say nothing to suggest otherwise”. A learned atheist often (not always) knows more than a theist as this is the reason they have become an atheist.

    2. True and false in one statement Hitler was born a Catholic and renounced that faith. He did not however renounce Christianity as a whole nor declare himself an atheist. His Nazi party supported a supposed forward thinking Protestant pressure group and he often spoke of promoting “positive Christianity” and to shy away from the “negative Christianity” he saw in Catholicism and the Protestant Churches of the time. Part of the aim of the Holocaust was to eradicate the Jewish influences of Christianity and instill a philosophy more akin to that of the Nazi Party. He may not have been Catholic during the worst atrocities of the 20th century, but he retained a sense of Christianity – if the full truth is to be told.

    3. Firstly it is true to say totalitarianism does not mean atheist, and given the definition of “totalitarianism” there are more similarities to religious states in history than there is non-religious. It is true though that religion does not start all wars, although in the modern era it is equally as culpable globally as capitalism for some of the major conflicts throughout the world. That is not to say that there have not been conflicts caused by atheist leaders, but it far from leaves the argument in need of casting aside, but more realistically it needs revising to reflect a more diverse world.

    4. This is a true assertion, but when the head of the Catholic church shows a greater inclination towards hiding the crime than supporting justice, there is an issue that needs resolving. Condemning Catholicism for the acts of the few is like condemning Germany for the leadership of one man. However, Germany accepted her involvement in allowing the crimes. Catholicism is yet to make the same apology for the acts of some representatives of the cloth.

    5. I have not read this, I will admit, but I hope readers feel this by no means discredits anything raised. I would promise to read it for greater understanding, but will not be disingenuous for a commitment I may not be able to keep. I feel this is justified as I I could argue a theist will lose an atheist audience if they have not read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, which I feel would be unfair.

    6. I hope it is clear that I do not hate Catholics or religion per se. There is alot to be learned from the history of society, and religion is a part of that. I dislike the bias against atheists though, as well as the assumptions that those without “faith” must be inherently evil. Ironically, I have probably been written off as a bigot already by some. For those who have not, I thank you.

    7. The history of Catholicism is indeed rich. In parts that history has been glorious – acts of charity, preservation of civilisation following the fall of Rome, etc – but in other parts it has been horrendous and controversial – inquisitions and stealing of babies for example. Apologies for some of the “atrocities” have been made, but not all, and some seemed genuine while others appeared to be disingenuous thanks to media pressure. The fact it is one of the earliest sects of Christianity is testament to the power is has had, used, or abused, in various measures throughout time, but Islam is equally as rich in parts, Judaism arguably richer and the multitude of Pagan faiths predating Constantine’s vision and the edict that later came from his victory in battle.

    8. The definition of a closed mind is indeed one that is intolerant of new ideas, beliefs or the opinions of others, and many atheists should be wary of this fact. The other half of the definition of close mindedness though is having an inflexibility and stubbornness to new evidence and ideas. The argument presented would not be tolerated if I was to now call Catholics closed minded for saying “God said it, so I believe it and that settles it”. A theist with a closed mind to anything other than their faith is as destructive to reasonable debate as an atheist unwilling to consider the arguments for a God, and to not even acknowledge that possibility is dismissive and perhaps shows a “closed minded” opinion of atheists as a whole.

    9. The same could be said of most Theists – learn your religions. And not just Catholicism or Islam or belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. A choice without truly knowing the options is not really a choice at all. If your entire choice in this area comes from only reading the Bible (or Quran, or a specific non-religious text of your choice as atheists have no equivalent), then have you genuinely exercised free will or made an educated choice? Or have you followed blindly? An argument of “well that is why it is called Faith” is not really an answer at all to a shortcoming that would be considered “uneducated” if applied to any other field or discipline.

    10. I am not a former Catholic. My heritage is in Church of England. However, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “A Catholic by any other name is still a Christian” and the issues raised here are as applicable to Catholicism and the Catholic Church as they are to any other branch of Christianity, Islam, Scientology or belief in an “Invisible Pink Unicorn” – and in each case are applicable considerations to any Atheists whose only argument is “there is no God because that is stupid”.

    I close by saying that (as I am sure is clear) that I am an atheist and am perfectly happy being so, and I hope at no point it is felt that I have tried to debunk the foundations of Catholicism or claim there is no God, as it was never my intention to do so.

  • 1. “To assume all atheists make such quotes purely to get a “fundamentalist” response” is based upon my experience at this blog since 2008. If you know the Bible thoroughly, well and good, but it would make you the exception to atheists who have dropped by here and brought up the Bible.

    2. “He may not have been Catholic during the worst atrocities of the 20th century, but he retained a sense of Christianity – if the full truth is to be told”. Not really. Hitler was a materialist with New Age overtones. He had nothing but contempt for Christianity. Here follows a rather lengthy quote from research I have done in this area. I will respond to your other comments either this evening or tomorrow depending upon the length of other matters that I must attend to:

    In regard to Hitler here are a few of his many diatribes against the Church contained in his “Table Talk” compiled following the war from notes taken at the time he spoke:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

    Martin Bormann Nazi Party Secretary was most forthright regarding the fundamental Nazi hostility to religion:

    We who have cast off superstitions have evolved to a better place.”

    “National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.”

    Martin Bormann, Chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery, 1942

    At Nuremburg after the war the Prosecution noted the Nazi hostitility to Christianity:

    “We come now to deal with the responsibility of the defendant Bormann with respect to the persecution of the Church. The defendant Bormann authorised, directed and participated in measures involving the persecution of the Christian Church. The Tribunal, of course, has heard much in this proceeding concerning the acts of the conspiracy involving the persecution of the Church. We have no desire now to rehash that evidence. We are interested in one thing alone, and that is nailing on the defendant Bormann his responsibility, his personal, individual responsibility, for that persecution.

    I shall now present the proofs showing the responsibility of Bormann with respect to such persecution of the Christian Churches.

    Bormann was among the most relentless enemies of the Christian Church and Christian Clergy in Germany and in German-occupied Europe. I refer the Tribunal, without quoting therefrom, to Document D-75, previously introduced in evidence as Exhibit USA 348, which contains a copy of the secret Bormann decree of 6th June, 1941, entitled “The Relationship of National Socialism to Christianity.” In this decree, as the Tribunal will well recall, Bormann bluntly declared that National Socialism and Christianity were incompatible, and he indicated that the ultimate aim of the conspirators was to assure the elimination of Christianity itself.

    I next refer the Tribunal, without quotation, to Document 098-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 350. This is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 22nd February, 1940, in which Bormann reaffirms the incompatibility of Christianity and National Socialism.

    Now, in furtherance of the conspirators’ aim to undermine the Christian Churches, Bormann took measures to eliminate the influence of the Christian Church from within the Nazi Party and its formations. I now offer in evidence Document 113-PS, as Exhibit USA 683. This is an order of the defendant Bormann, dated 27th July, 1938, issued as Chief of Staff to the Deputy of the

    [Page 300]

    Fuehrer, Hess, which prohibits clergymen, from holding Party offices. I shall not take the time of the Tribunal to put this quotation upon the, record. The point of it is, as indicated, that Bormann issued an order-forbidding the appointment of clergymen to Party positions.
    THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps this would be a good time to break off for ten minutes.

    (A recess was taken.)

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: May it please the Tribunal, we are dealing with the efforts of the defendant Bormann to expel and eliminate from the Party all Church and religious influence.

    I offer in evidence Document 838-PS, as Exhibit USA 684. I shall not burden the record with extensive quotation from this exhibit, but merely point out that this is a copy of a Bormann decree dated 3rd June, 1939, which laid it down that followers of Christian Science should be excluded from the Party.

    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 840-PS, previously introduced in evidence as Exhibit USA 355. The Tribunal will recall that this, was a Bormann decree of 14th July, 1939, referring with approval to an earlier Bormann decree of 9th February, 1937, in which he had ruled, that in the future all Party members who entered the clergy or who undertook the study of theology were to be expelled from the Party.

    I next offer in evidence Document 107-PS, Exhibit USA 3M. This is a circular directive of the defendant Bormann dated 17th June, 1938, addressed to all Reichsleiters and Gauleiters, top leaders of the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, transmitting a copy of directions relating. to the non-participation of the Reich Labour Service in religious celebrations. The Reich Labour Service, the Tribunal will recall, compulsorily incorporated all Germans within its organisation.

    DR. BERGOLD (Counsel for defendant Bormann): The member of the prosecution has just submitted a number of documents, in which he proves that, on the suggestion of Bormann, members of the Christian religion were to be excluded from the Party, or from certain organisations. I beg the High Tribunal to allow the member of the prosecution to explain to me how and why Bormann’s activity, that is, the exclusion of Christians from the Party, can be a War Crime. I cannot gather this evidence from the trial brief. The Party is described as a criminal conspiracy. Is it a crime to exclude certain people from membership in a criminal conspiracy? Is that considered a crime? How and why is the exclusion of certain members from the Party a crime?

    THE PRESIDENT: Counsel will answer you.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: If the Tribunal will willingly accommodate argument at this stage, we find that the question –

    THE PRESIDENT: Only short argument.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: Yes, Sir – admits of a short, and, as it seems to us, easy answer.

    The point we are now trying to prove – and evidence is abounding on it – is that Bormann had a hatred and an enmity and took oppositional measures towards the Christian Church. The Party was the repository of political power in Germany. To have power one had to be in the Party or subject to its favour. By his efforts, concerted, continuing and consistent, to exclude clergymen, theological students or any persons sympathetic to the Christian, religion, Bormann could not have chosen a clearer method of showing and demonstrating his, hatred and his distrust of the Christian religion and those who supported it.

    THE PRESIDENT: Counsel for Bormann can present his argument upon this subject at a later stage. The documents appear to the Tribunal to be relevant.

    LIEUTENANT LAMBERT: With the Tribunal’s permission, I had just put in Document 107-PS and pointed out that it transmitted directions relating to the

    [Page 301]

    non-participation of the Reich Labour Service in religious celebrations. I quote merely the fourth and fifth paragraphs of Page 1 of the English translation of Document 107-PS, which reads as follows:
    “Every religious discussion is forbidden in the Reich Labour Service because it disturbs the comrade-like harmony of all working men and women.
    For this reason also, every participation of the Reich Labour Service in Church, i.e., religious, arrangements and celebrations is not possible.”

    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 070-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 349. The Tribunal will recall that this was a letter from Bormann’s office to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 25th April, 1941, in which Bormann declared that he had achieved progressive success in reducing and abolishing religious services in schools, and in replacing Christian prayers with National Socialist mottoes and rituals. In this letter, Bormann also proposed a Nazified morning service in the schools, in place of the existing confession and morning service.
    In his concerted efforts to undermine and subvert the Christian churches, Bormann authorised, directed and participated in measures leading to the closing, reduction and suppression of theological schools, faculties and institutions. The attention of the Tribunal is invited to Document 116-PS, Exhibit USA 685, which I offer in evidence. This is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 24th January, 1939, enclosing, for Rosenberg’s cognisance, a copy of Bormann’s letter to the Reich Minister for Science, Training and Public Education. In the enclosed letter, Bormann informs the Minister as to the Party’s position in favour of restricting and suppressing theological faculties. Bormann states that, owing to war conditions, it had become necessary to reorganise the German high schools, and in view of this situation, he requested the Minister to restrict and suppress certain theological faculties.

    I now quote from the first paragraph on Page 3 of the English translation of Document 116-PS, which reads as follows:

    “I, therefore, would like to see you put the theological faculties under appreciable limitations in so far as, according to the above statements, they cannot be entirely eliminated. This will concern not only the theological faculties at universities, but also the various State institutions which, as seminaries having no affiliation with any university, still exist in many places. I request you not to give any express explanations to churches or other institutions and to avoid public announcement of these measures. Complaints and the like, if they are to be answered at all, must be countered with this explanation, that these measures are carried out in the course of planned economy, and that the same is being done to other, faculties. I would be glad, if the professorial chairs thus made vacant could then be turned over to the fields of research newly created in recent years, such as racial research and archaeology.
    “Martin Bormann.”

    In our submission, what this document comes to is a request from Bormann to this effect: “Please close down the religious faculties and substitute in their place Nazi faculties and university chairs, with the mission of investigating racialism, cultism, Nazi archaeology.” This sort of thing was done in the Hohe Schule, as was so clearly demonstrated in the prosecution’s case against the plundering activities of the Einsatzstab Rosenberg.
    The attention of the Tribunal is next invited to Document 122-PS, previously put in as Exhibit USA 362. The Tribunal will recall that 122-PS is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 17th April, 1939, transmitting to Rosenberg a photostatic copy of the plan of the Reich

    [Page 302]

    Minister of Science, Training and Public Education for the combining and dissolving of certain specified theological faculties. In his letter of transmittal, Bormann requested Rosenberg “to take cognizance and prompt action” with respect to the proposed suppression of religious institutions.
    I next offer in evidence Document 123-PS, Exhibit USA 686. This is a confidential letter from the defendant Bormann to the Minister of Education, dated 23rd June, 1939, in which Bormann sets forth the Party’s decision to order the suppression of numerous theological faculties and religious institutions. The Tribunal will note that the letter lists 19 separate religious institutions with respect to which Bormann ordered dissolution or restriction.

    After directing the action to be taken by the Minister in connection with the various theological faculties, Bormann stated as follows, and I quote from the next to last paragraph of Page 3 of the English translation of Document 123-PS:

    “In the above I have informed you of the Party’s wishes, after thorough, investigation of the matter with all Party offices. I would be grateful if you would initiate the necessary measures as quickly as possible. With regard to the great political significance which every single case of such a combination will have for the Gau concerned, I ask you to take these measures, and particularly to fix dates for them always in agreement with me.”
    I next offer in evidence, without quotation, Document 131- PS, as Exhibit USA 687. In summary, without quotation therefrom, this is a letter from the defendant Bormann to the defendant Rosenberg, dated 12th December, 1939, relating to the suppression of seven professorships in the near-by University of Munich.
    Now, I deal briefly with the responsibility of Bormann for the confiscation of religious property and cultural property. Bormann used his paramount power and position to cause the confiscation of religious property and to subject the Christian churches and clergy to a discriminatory legal regime.

    I offer in evidence Document 099-PS, Exhibit USA 688. This is a copy of a letter from Bormann to the Reich Minister for Finance, dated 19th January, 1940, in which Bormann demanded a great increase in the special war tax imposed on the churches. I quote from the first two paragraphs of Page 2 of the English translation of this document, which reads as follows:

    “As it has been reported to me, the war contribution of the churches has been specified from 1st November, 1939 on, at first, for a period of three months, at R.M. 1,800,000 per month, of which R.M. 1,000,000 are to be paid by the Protestant church, and R.M. 800,000 by the Catholic church per month. The establishment of such a low amount has surprised me. I see from numerous reports that the political communities have to raise such a large war contribution, that the execution of their tasks, partially very important – for example, in the field of public welfare – is, endangered. In consideration of that, a larger quota from the churches appears to be absolutely appropriate.”
    The question may arise: Of what criminal effect is it to demand larger taxes from church institutions? As to this demand of Bormann’s taken by itself, the prosecution would not suggest that it had a criminal effect, but when viewed within the larger frame of Bormann’s demonstrated hostility to the Christian Church, and his efforts, not merely to circumscribe but to eliminate it, we suggest that this document has probative value in showing Bormann’s hostility and his concrete measures to effectuate that hostility against the Christian churches and clergy.”

    Bottom line, the only “god” Hitler worshipped was a mortal by the name of Adolph Hitler who he mistook for a god.

  • This post seems to imply that Atheism is a belief or a religion of its own, just because they have a symbol, fundraises and people willing to support the cause. In that case, you may as well consider the democratic party as a religion also.

    For those of you who are caught up in this misconception, please click this link and learn how atheism CANNOT fit the criteria of being classified as a system of faith, or a belief or a religion!

  • I will admit most of what you have quoted I had not read before, and makes enlightening reading. My reference though to “Nazi Christianity” is because much of what you have quoted – and I will not deny its validity – was put down by Hitler for fear of bad press as there was still a Christian majority (approximately 80%, mainly Protestant) in Germany at the time. Hitler’s vision for “christianity (and I shall not capitalise out of respect and the bastardisation being attempted here) was one where there was an acknowledgement of Jesus Christ’s existence and the concept of “positive christianity” they put forward was one where Jesus was more of a soldier who actively fought Judaisms influence upon his world. As you have quoted Borman, who had declared “national Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable”, I wish to also do so:

    “When we National Socialists speak of belief in God, we do not mean, like the naive Christians and their spiritual exploiters, a man-like being sitting around somewhere in the universe. The force governed by natural law by which all these countless planets move in the universe, we call omnipotence or God. The assertion that this universal force can trouble itself about the destiny of each individual being, every smallest earthly bacillus, can be influenced by so-called prayers or other surprising things, depends upon a requisite dose of naivety or else upon shameless professional self-interest.”

    Within this context, there is not a denial of God as a concept, only in the portrayal of said God by the establishment. It is perhaps more justifiable to say that this Nazi concept of “christianity” is closer to “naturalism” with more of a “mother nature” style guidance than an omnipotent being.

    As I said, there was a bastardisation of the Christian faith and perhaps much of this was posturing to appease the masses who at the time still maintained a more traditional stance on the matter – as well as providing a self-serving justification for the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

    I would argue, that perhaps in that respect Hitler and his closest followers are little different to the most extreme of fundamentalists, acting as a group to use “good words” as a weapon which people will follow blindly.

    I thank you for your response thus far though, and I will provide the courtesy of an equally respectful post to your response.

  • Very good research, Donald, on Hitler’s intellectual beliefs. He was in the tradition of nineteenth century occultism and steeped in silly linguistic and cultural ideas. Like other occultists before him, he was racist and aristocratic. And I would say very superstituous. I don’t know whether the materialist adjective applies to him, though perhaps it does.

  • And yes, he was rather Nietchean and had nothing but contempt for the Christianity of Germany. He saw the Roman and Lutheran churches as impediments to his agenda and soon began silencing them.

  • Of course it is a belief. There is no proof that there is no God. Atheism rests on belief just as purely as Theism. (Incidentally, I do believe that the Democrat Party operates as a substitute religion for some of its members.)

  • 3. “It is true though that religion does not start all wars, although in the modern era it is equally as culpable globally as capitalism for some of the major conflicts throughout the world.”

    I think precious few wars have been started by capitalism outside of some of the mercantilist struggles, for example the wars between the Dutch and the English in the Seventeenth Century. Religion, since the Seventeenth Century, has been the cause of very few wars, certainly large wars, unless one views Communism and Fascism as substitute religions, which, for many of their adherents, they clearly are. Communism has traditionally been hostile to religions as inimicable to their variant of State worship. Fascism, in both its Italian and German variants, had rocky relationships with Christian religions, and clearly viewed loyalty to the State to be more important than religion, although this was much more clearly demonstrated in Germany than in Italy.

    4. “Catholicism is yet to make the same apology for the acts of some representatives of the cloth.” Actually there have been endless apologies, up to and including the Pope. The problem of the sexual abuse of minors is a serious one, and afflicts all institutions and beliefs. We at The American Catholic have been quite severe in our condemnation of predator priests and the bishops who protected them. However, we also understand that many people who hate the Church merely use this as a club against the Church. I pray for the time when all institutions and groups receive the same scrutiny that the Church has received on this issue.

    5. “I have not read this, I will admit, but I hope readers feel this by no means discredits anything raised.” No, but when the subject of the existence of God comes up most educated Catholics will immediately think of Saint Thomas Aquinas and his proofs. It is our starting point, with the exception of Scripture.

    More tomorrow morning when I have more time available.

  • “6. I hope it is clear that I do not hate Catholics or religion per se.”

    I will take you at your word. As for atheists I have worked in the past with pro-life atheists and conservative atheists. One of my friends is a judge who is either an atheist or an agnostic depending upon his mood. As an intellectual proposition I think atheism fails to hold water, but I never allow intellectual disagreement to color how I view individuals. That is what character, conduct, humor and a myriad of other factors are for.

    “7. The history of Catholicism is indeed rich.”

    That is why it is important to understand it, both the good and the bad. Too many people today are bone ignorant of history and not a bit ashamed of their ignorance. It is impossible to understand a thing without having a deep knowledge of its history. Ignorance of history, and the advantage that unscrupulous politicians take of that lack of basic knowledge of history, is the cause of much evil around the globe.

    8. “A theist with a closed mind to anything other than their faith is as destructive to reasonable debate as an atheist unwilling to consider the arguments for a God, and to not even acknowledge that possibility is dismissive and perhaps shows a “closed minded” opinion of atheists as a whole.”

    My challenge was to atheists who wish to come to this site and debate us. “Debates” between people who will not change their minds no matter what are truly dialogues of the deaf and fruitless. A true debate has to be conducted in the same manner in which Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote his Summa Theologica which was to give the strongest possible arguments for views which he opposed. A true debate is a search for truth, first and foremost. There are very few true debates.

    “9. The same could be said of most Theists – learn your religions.”

    If one is going to be an evangelist for a religion, and I view atheism in most of its variants as a religion, it is certainly a good idea to become familiar with the faiths of those you are seeking to proselytize. However most people do not choose their religions through an intellectual inquiry. Most people get their religion through inheritance as children. Some convert to other religions as they grown, but I think emotion enters into such conversions fully as much as intellectual inquiry. Religion will always involve an admixture of heart and head, since it goes to our core, and such mixtures are we.

    “10. My heritage is in Church of England.”

    Ah, King Henry’s bastard contraption! That explains a lot! 🙂 Seriously, I find that atheists often vary in their atheism based upon their religious background, especially if the prior religion was held seriously and not of the type of, “Well, my family called themselves X, but Dad had 5 wives and we never went to Church unless it was Christmas or someone died.” If someone comes here and says that they are an atheist but were a Catholic it is usually easy to spot whether they were ever a serious Catholic or not, and that makes a difference in debating them.

  • The concept of a god is very childish. It doesn’t stand on the same level with a non agency origin of the universe. The religious people think that it should be a default conclusion that there is a god or at least a possibility as valid as its opposite. It is complete non sense in particular in the light of what we know about the physical cosmos. The logical arguments about the existence of god are childish and little mental games that somebody in kindergarten can play. And not, your inner feelings do not count as a proof.

  • https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=477184595681230&set=a.466072020125821.1073741828.464863890246634&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_comment

    You give the impression that tests are needed to be passed before someone can be an atheist. Just the opposite. We are all born an atheist. Everyone. At some point you started believing in a religion. Most don’t know why they believe because they were brought up to believe in it. It’s just something they do. They believe. And most believe whatever religion their parents believe. Most are ridiculed or chastised if they do not believe.
    If I tell you there is a Purple Unicorn in my closet …you would want proof. Same goes for religion. I refuse to leave my natural atheistic state of mind for any religion that requires nothing more than faith. My brain requires more. I believe in science, evolution, rational thought, fact finding, and common sense.
    Prove the bible was inspired by god? And I will shut-up.
    Otherwise …it’s just wishful thinking … like the other 2800 deities and 40,000 religions in human history.

  • Want to try again GS, this time making an argument based upon facts rather than ex cathedra conclusions by you? You might start by explaining how energy and matter can arise ex nihilo without a Creator.

  • “You give the impression that tests are needed to be passed before someone can be an atheist. Just the opposite. We are all born an atheist.”

    No, we are all born children of a loving God and some spend their sad lives running away from that simple fact.

  • “I believe in science, evolution, rational thought, fact finding, and common sense.”

    You give the impression that tests are needed to be passed before someone can disbelieve science. Just the opposite. We are all born without science. Everyone. At some point you started believing in a science. Most don’t know why they believe because they were brought up to believe in it.

    There’s more:

    You give the impression that tests are needed to be passed before someone can disbelieve evolution. Just the opposite. We are all born without belief in evolution. Everyone. At some point you started believing in a evolution. Most don’t know why they believe because they were brought up to believe in it.

    etc…

  • “I refuse to leave my natural atheistic state of mind for any religion that requires nothing more than faith.”

    Then why do you leave, pray tell, your natural state of mind for other things, like language, culture, science, politics, sports…

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

  • “If I tell you there is a Purple Unicorn in my closet …you would want proof.”

    No.

    I would…

    simply…

    not …

    care.

  • To finish: Just because people were brought up into believing in religion, doesn’t prove it false. That is called a genetic fallacy.

    And just because there are 2800 deities and 40,000 religions in human history, that doesn’t prove that there isn’t one that is true.

    So, your argument is purely based on this idolizing of the “natural state of mind”. Well, then you should tell me what’s so spectacular about that “natural state of mind”, for it to be a reliable arbitre of what is true or false.

  • PS: Just to avoid the usual ad hominem, I declare that I’m a scientist and an evolutionist. But I do know that a lot of people don’t know anything about science or evolution, other than it must be true, because those people in white robes told me so.

    And a lot of people use science and evolution as a pretext to not believe in the discomforting concept of God.

  • Giovanni…”the concept of god is childish”….given that many great men and women did great things with a belief in God proves that you don’t know what you are talking about. Giovanni, you are the one who comes off as childish. the New Atheism comes off as angry, condescending and obnoxious in its own false belief that the universe was created by random chance.

    Giovanni is proof that atheism tolerates no other belief but itself. it isn’t enough for Giovanni to be an atheist. No, Giovanni, in his own childish way, mocks religions faith…while having complete faith in his own belief system with no proof to back it up.

    david Whatley….Hey david Whatley, did you get your punctuation from e.e. cummings? The notion that everyone is born an atheist is one of the most ridiculous things I have read on the Internet. david Whatley, you confuse opinion with intelligence. your opinion is not better simply because you have it, david Whatley. your opinion is not better because your opinion is that of Hutchins, or Dawkins, or O’Hair, or that of modern popular (slopular) culture.

    One thing the Internet has done is give untold millions to prove to others how ridiculously silly they are.

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Richard Dawkins: Bigot and Coward

Thursday, February 28, AD 2013

Atheism

Atheist blowhard Richard Dawkins never has the least hesitation in bashing Christians and Jews, but when the subject of Islam comes up, at least when he is being interviewed by Al-Jazeerah that will blast his comments throughout the Islamic world, well that is another matter:

While you may not agree with the views of the new breed of aggressive atheists who have emerged in recent years you have to admire their courage for bravely standing up and speaking truth to power against the various religious institutions whose integrity they seek to undermine. No matter what consequences they might face, they aren’t afraid to lay out their case against religion in terms that are often harsh and sure to offend.

Here is an example from an article called Facing uncomfortable truths:

In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of “the Old Testament” is “hideous” and “a monster”, and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character “in fiction”.

As you can see, Dawkins has no trouble attacking the Hebrew God in a most direct and uncompromising manner. No atheist wallflower he.

Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: “Well, um, the God of the Koran I don’t know so much about.”

How can it be that the world’s most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Koran? Has he not had the time? Or is Professor Dawkins simply demonstrating that most crucial trait of his species: survival instinct.

Whoops. It’s funny how these confident, cocksure prophets of atheism-who barely have time to take a breath between slamming the tenets of Christianity and Judaism-often get curiously tongue-tied and shy when the subject of Islam comes up. The idea that Dawkins doesn’t “know so much about” the God of the Koran is absurd. Of course he knows about Islam. And the same disdain and disregard that he has for Judaism and Christianity should surely apply to Islam as well.

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99 Responses to Richard Dawkins: Bigot and Coward

  • Glenn Hubbard at Instapundit, “Don’t want your religion attacked? Behead a few attackers. It doesn’t take many — most of them are cowards and poseurs, and will shut up at the least hint of risk. Hey, don’t blame me. I didn’t set up this incentive system.”

  • Of course anything atheists associate with the God of the Old Testament would equally apply to the Koran, if not more so. The fact is that Islam gets a free pass while Christianity and Judaism are bashed. Islam is covered under political correctness, I guess. Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, pointed out that Islam is so far away in people’s minds that it simply doesn’t present itself as something they feel they need to argue. Also, many people have only a very abstract sense of Islam while remaining ignorant of its implications.

  • You also have to be careful to avoid being sued in more civilized lands

    Make remarks seen as anti-Islamic in Canada and you will be before the CHRC in no time

    Feel free to be snide towards Catholics though

    Why is it though that human rights codes protect peoples’ beliefs in their imaginary invisible friends but not rational thought?

  • Hitchens was an equal-opportunity basher. He was a formidable intellect, a witty writer, and a worthy debater. He was also, shocker, relatively pro-life. About him, Bill Donahue lauded his free-thinking, unPC stances, and said “his style would at least get people to listen to him. I don’t think you can say the same for the others. They lack that panache that Christopher had.” (Hitchens comments on Mother Theresa were detestable, however). I liked listening to him and he made me think.

    I heard Dawkins out initially, because he had a sort of kindly stooped-over-geezer look about him, but quickly realized he was a mere scientist posing as a great mind; he was absolutely destroyed by Rowan Williams in their Oxford debate. He is also intellectually inconsistent, essentially making arguments along the lines of “I don’t believe in God but he wouldn’t do that if he actually existed.”

    My biggest problem is with Sam Harris; the man is an idiot. Not content to merely say that God doesn’t exist, he instead thinks one can create an entire system of morality solely using science, as not only a metric of morality but as a provider of moral first principles. His dismisses philosophy but fails to recognize that the hinge to his entire argument, the premise that existence is better than non-existence, is fundamentally non-scientific. People like him bother me the most, ridiculing those who base principles off un-provable premises but then go and do the same thing, just without mentioning that “g” word.

  • I guess my overarching problem with all of them, and most atheists in fact, is that they’re far more avid scriptural literalists than most Christians and certainly most Catholics are.

  • Perhaps Dawkins was simply a coward.

  • I think Dawkins probably really is ignorant of Islam.

    He has criticized it in the past:

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2012/11/4/-there-s-no-god-and-islam-is-evil-speech-earns-richard-dawkins-ovation-from-islanders

    I always wanted to visit the Hebrides. I hope they’re not all Dawkinites there.

  • Yes, it seems that when atheists wish to discredit the Bible, they view it very literally. They try to make it seem as absurd as possible instead of acknowledging things like context and the real sense intended by the writer. Clarence Darrow took full advantage of that during the Scopes Trial.

  • Another issue at stake might be people’s desperate desire to maintain friendly relations with Islamic peoples. It may be a defensive tactic to avoid controversy.

    But I agree that many people simply don’t know Islam. And they really don’t know Islamic culture and society as it exists throughout much of the Middle East and northern Africa and Indonesia. They are unaware of the conflict of ideals that exists between the Islamic and Western worlds. People often travel, but how many of us spend an extended amount of time in a total Islamic society? If we did, we would realize how much of what we cherish is actually frowned upon, prohibited, or even punished oftentimes.

  • Jon,

    I have lived in the Middle East, specifically Cairo. I’ve had a similar conversation with Donald, but I think it’s a mistake to look at the Islamic world and say “they got it all wrong, and we got it all right.” Islam has definitely been hostile towards modernity, with demonstrable ill effects, but our headlong rush into the modern era has certainly bred its share of calamities.

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  • Stop playing the victim card, will you?

    Dawkins regularly criticises islam.

    Dawkins, like me, grew up with the bible, not the koran. Note that Dawkins says “merry christmas”, not “happy holidays”.

    So yes, Dawkin’s got intimate knowledge of the OT and the NT, but less so the koran.

  • Dawkins is just as critical of Islam as all of the other religions, perhaps more so. He talks a lot about the huge injustices and threats of Islam. A quick search on YouTube and you will find tons and tons of videos where Dawkins is bashing Islam.

    In this specific case, he was asked a specific question about a literary character that he doesn’t know about, and so he rightly said he doesn’t know about it.

    This article takes the quote out of context and uses it to paint a picture that just simply isn’t true.

  • “He has criticized it in the past:”

    Indeed he has in the West. Suddenly he became tongue tied when he was being interviewed by Al- Jazeerah and realized his comments would be blasted all over the Middle East.

  • “I guess my overarching problem with all of them, and most atheists in fact, is that they’re far more avid scriptural literalists than most Christians and certainly most Catholics are.”

    Bingo. We see that in the atheist trolls who come here and attempt to roll out their “proof texts” that they use against Evangelicals and are stunned to learn that Catholics have a completely different way of looking at Scripture. The bone ignorance of Catholicism is often deep and wide among most atheists I have encountered, including those who claim to be ex-Catholics.

  • “Stop playing the victim card, will you?”

    No use of the victim card here Ian. We are Catholics who refuse to be used as punching bags by bigots. Get used to us, because you are going to see much more of this type of Catholic in the years to come.

  • Dawkins, like me, grew up with the bible, not the koran. Note that Dawkins says “merry christmas”, not “happy holidays”.

    Well, you said it. Dawkins’ shtick is not philosophical or implicitly theological in character, but cultural. It is conceivable that Britain has less of a disjunction between elite opinion and popular opinion on questions religious than does the United States, but little doubt that religious observance is characteristic of only a modest minority in both sets. He applies a great deal of rhetorical force against 7% of the population; the vociferous element of that 7% is hardly trenchant. He’s a bully at heart.

    On another matter, Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post recently appeared at a panel discussion and debate at one of the universities in Britain. It is on YouTube. The behavior of the patrician and intellectual audience left such a bad taste that she said she thought she would never visit Britain again. Among a certain social set, gross hostility to Jews is quite respectable in the British Isles and Dawkins comments need to be seen in that light (Morning’s Minion’s as well).

  • “Among a certain social set, gross hostility to Jews is quite respectable in the British Isles and Dawkins comments need to be seen in that light (Morning’s Minion’s as well).”

    Anti-Semitism has ever been a popular bigotry among most of England’s ruling elite, along with anti-Catholicism. Some of the most rabid anti-Churchill commentary in the Thirties in England depicted him as in bed with the Jews and an agent of the Rothschilds.

  • It’s about tearing down the West. It’s the same old self-destructive trait. So full of anger at themselves, they trash their room (institutions of the West). So full of doubt over their sins, they burn bridges and isolate (influences of the West). They’re suicidal patients writ large.

  • It’s about tearing down the West. It’s the same old self-destructive trait. So full of anger at themselves, they trash their room (institutions of the West). So full of doubt over their sins, they burn bridges and isolate (influences of the West). They’re suicidal patients writ large.

    I disagree. A hypothesis: the impulse in question is one of self-aggrandizement of one’s own subculture against various rivals – competing subcultures in one’s own time and previous generations. Anthony Esolen and George Will have made this point about phenomena in contemporary academic discourse (e.g. the impulse to debunk the works of the cohorts who fought and won the 2d World War). There is nothing truly self-lacerating about it. Elizabeth Wurtzel is self-lacerating; I do not think she qualifies as much of a cultural warrior.

  • Glenn Hubbard at Instapundit

    Glenn Harlan Reynolds is “Instapundit”.

    R. Glenn Hubbard is an economist who worked for the Bush Administration.

  • Anti-Semitism has ever been a popular bigotry among most of England’s ruling elite, along with anti-Catholicism. Some of the most rabid anti-Churchill commentary in the Thirties in England depicted him as in bed with the Jews and an agent of the Rothschilds.

    I suspect nowadays it is the chatterati and not members of aristocracy and gentry who are the source of this miasma. The Rothemeres were then. John Pilger is now.

  • AD:

    Righto!

    I was much sharper when I was drinking.

  • The chatterati in England are not infrequently drawn from the ranks of the elite Art, and those who aren’t tend to emulate elite attitudes. “Aping their betters” I believe was the expression in a more honest time when class prejudice tended to be blunt and open.

  • Clearly, Richard Dawkins is familiar with the travails of writer Salman Rushdie, a fellow Brit. Attacking “the Hebrew God” is helpful to a leftist like Dawkins because it legitimizes his attacks on Israel. As for Dawkins’ attacks on Christianity, he can take comfort in knowing he is not alone. Aided by Western media, academia and many politicians, Dawkins can rely on secular culture to continue the destruction of Christendom. What atheists like Dawkins fail to appreciate is GK Chesterton’s observation that a “man who ceases to believe in God does not believe nothing; he believes anything.” The darkness waiting to replace God will consume atheists like Dawkins along with believers, and even those who believe in Allah.

  • Afraid of attacking Muslims, not likely. I dare any Christian cleric to go on record like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu7AQTs_y5A

  • It’s a wonder there isn’t a fatwa on him.

    Dawkins attacks ‘alien rubbish’ taught in Muslim faith schools

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2046715/Richard-Dawkins-attacks-alien-rubbish-taught-Muslim-faith-schools.html

    Dawkins: Islam is ‘one of the great evils in the world’

    http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/479-richard-dawkins-islam-is-one-of-the-great-evils-of-the-world.html

    Richard Dawkins destroys muslim on morality

  • And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to say any of that on Al Jazeera, choosing to dissemble instead.

    And, yes, there is a Christian cleric, Father Zakaria Botros, who’s ballsier than Dawkins, saying all of that and more in Arabic. For his trouble, he has a $60 million Al Qaeda fatwa on his head.

  • I love this argument. Christianity is no worse than Islam! Why don’t you slam go Islam and leave us alone for a while?

    Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me, whereas Christianity is constantly applying pressure to force The immoral parts of the bible into law.

    The fact that most of the Christians I talk to don’t seem to agree with these things either just makes if more infuriating.

    If Dawkins read up on Islam, would you go after him for not being an expert on Hinduism?

    Face it, Christianity is the religion whose evil affects most atheists you will come across on the internet.

    People in most Islamic countries probably can’t even read this blog. Atheists in many Islamic countries are either dead already or smart enough to shut up about it.

  • Does anyone have a link to the interview? Do you suppose if perhaps he critized Islam they may not have broadcast it? And do you think the author of this article should have done due diligence to see that Prof. Dawkins is an outspoken critic of Islam before calling him a bigot and a coward?

  • “And do you think the author of this article should have done due diligence to see that Prof. Dawkins is an outspoken critic of Islam before calling him a bigot and a coward? ”

    Due diligence was done and Dawkins is both a bigot and a coward.

  • “Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me, whereas Christianity is constantly applying pressure to force The immoral parts of the bible into law.”

    Oh, I assure you that the jihadists want you dead just as much as they want us believers dead. What “immoral” parts of the Bible do you claim that Christians wish to have made into law?

  • Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me, whereas Christianity is constantly applying pressure to force The immoral parts of the bible into law.

    The immoral parts of the Bible?

    Pray tell inform the community which “immoral” parts of the Bible – or moral, for that matter – Christians are trying to force into law?

  • Sorry, I see Donald beat me to the punch.

    I often stand in disbelief as angry atheists loudly proclaim about us scary Christianists and our desire to implement sharia, American style. And yet time and time and time again, as I’ve documented, it’s quite the other way around as it’s Christians fighting rearguard actions to ensure that secularists don’t force their amorality down our throats.

  • Tsingi but i thought Dawkins was on a crusade for Unbelief everywhere, as a matter of principle. you’re saying no, he’s more like your run-of-the-mill ACLU member. good to know

  • Donald R. McClarey – The author didn’t even post a link to the supposed interview. Is that the way you think one should disparage people? As far as I know he made the entire thing up (just like the Bible and Koran were).

  • ” . . . The immoral parts of the Bible . . . ”

    Isaiah 5:20- Woe to those that call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light . . .

  • “As far as I know he made the entire thing up (just like the Bible and Koran were).”

    Spare me what passes for atheist wittiness. Let me know when Dawkins appears on Al-Jazeera and condemns Allah as a monster.

  • Paul Zummo says:
    Friday, March 1, 2013 A.D. at 11:55am

    Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me, whereas Christianity is constantly applying pressure to force The immoral parts of the bible into law.

    The immoral parts of the Bible?

    Pray tell inform the community which “immoral” parts of the Bible – or moral, for that matter – Christians are trying to force into law?

    I was going to ask the same question along with “Tsingi, by what standard do you judge something as “evil”?

  • Donald R. McClarey – Have you found the interview in question? Have you watched it? How do you know he isn’t as aggressive with Islam and he is with other religions? Or can you just take it on faith, evidence being superfluous and potentially contradictory to your opinion?

    I watched a short clip of it and heard him condemning Muslim suicide bombers while the interviewer sought to distance them from Islam.

  • I’ve watched the interview. It is linked below:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/general/2012/12/2012121791038231381.html

    Dawkins said nothing in the interview about Islam that remotely compares with his statement that God in the Old Testament is a monster. The idea that Dawkins is unfamiliar with the Koran I find fanciful, although I guess it is possible that he is as ill-informed about the Koran as he is about the Bible.

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  • How do you know it wasn’t cut? He’s certainly outspoken on Islam as well as Christanity. Several people on the web there said their questions were cut from the show as too condemning of Islam.

  • Yeah, Donald, how do you know that Dawkins didn’t launch in a 25 minute long epic monologue on the evils of Islam, punched up by a juggling clown riding on the back of a unicorn to the tune of “Have Nagila?” You can’t say that didn’t happen, now can you?

  • “How do you know it wasn’t cut?”

    I don’t. I would be surprised however if Al-Jazeera would go through the trouble of getting Dawkins and then excise comments that their audience would find most interesting, if enraging. Certainly Al-Jazeera in the past has played up to their audience alleged attacks on Islam from western sources.

  • Allah has no son to love or to love him. The Triune God of the Old and New Testament is love and loves. The Supreme Sovereign Being is existence and exsts. A god without love and mercy does not exist. After bigot and coward, it is all said.

  • Donald R. McClarey – and besides, we know Muslim fanatics can get incensed over books published in Britain, cartoons in Denmark, and videos on Youtube.

    Paul Zummo – “how do you know that Dawkins didn’t launch in a 25 minute long epic monologue on the evils of Islam, punched up by a juggling clown riding on the back of a unicorn to the tune of “Have Nagila?” You can’t say that didn’t happen, now can you?”

    I ave faith that all you said happened :->

  • “Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me, whereas Christianity is constantly applying pressure to force The immoral parts of the bible into law.” –

    Michael, for more than 50 years, just about every significant political dispute over legislation attempting to constrain vice has begun with exercises of discretion by either judges or prosecutors, exercises which either explicitly or implicitly annulled duly enacted legislation. The collapse of anti-obscenity law, the end of regulation of the traffic in contraceptives, the excision of abortion as an offense in penal codes, the disappearance of the ‘morals charge’ were, with few exceptions, not the initiatives of elected officials.

    As for impositions, I would remind you that people send their children to school compelled by truancy law. The content of school curriculum will be a public issue as long as schooling is, functionally a state monopoly. Who made the schools loci for distributing contraceptives, who made them meat-and-potatoes for Howard Zinn’s publishers, and who now seeks to make them loci for public mobilizations on behalf of the bien-pensants’ special snowflakes?

  • Art Deco – I’m not sure what jurisdiction you are in but parents have access to a public system but can choose private school (my choice) or religious schools or home school.

  • “I watched a short clip of it and heard him condemning Muslim suicide bombers”

    gutsy call

  • people can pay for private school? problem solved

  • Art Deco – I’m not sure what jurisdiction you are in but parents have access to a public system but can choose private school (my choice) or religious schools or home school.

    Translation: when my viewpoints are shoved down your throat, it’s just good policy. You, on the other hand, are a backward theocrat who must be opposed at all costs.

    Not to mention that Michael is effectively telling the poor and disabled (e.g., those unable to take advantage of the “alternatives”) to shove off, but given that most evangelical atheists tend to be upper middle class or better, that’s unsurprising.

  • Dale Price – As opposed to you who want to inflict your religious taboos on the public system. Most religious people have no trouble with contraception, gays or remarriage. Catholics do. Who should the public system accommodate.

    Actually where I live in Canada, Catholics can send their children to publicly funded Catholic school where there are allowed to teach against all those things.

  • There are many things I dislike about public schools. but it has to do with their pedagogy rather than than my need to impose my beliefs upon them. I have found them open to religion, open to differing point of view, not pushing contraception but teaching children to be tolerant of others. Unfortunately these are many of the features some religious people gate.

  • Thank you for proving my point, Michael. Your beliefs are already accommodated, so there’s naught to be done but to ensure the backwards haters are beaten down.

    Though imposing a prohibitive tax on those who object but are too poor or otherwise unable to escape the local public school is…unegalitarian, for starters.

    Your candor is–believe it or not–genuinely appreciated. With one exception:

    Actually where I live in Canada, Catholics can send their children to publicly funded Catholic school where there are allowed to teach against all those things.

    No, that’s not correct, and you know it.

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-schools-will-follow-ontarios-gay-straight-club-requirement/

    http://www.cp24.com/news/tories-say-they-won-t-re-open-abortion-debate-1.990010#ixzz28vYJJdfn

    Education Minister Broten’s comments are illuminating:

    Broten also said publicly-funded Catholic schools in Ontario should not be teaching students that abortion is wrong because the anti-bullying law prohibits misogyny.

    “Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” she said.

    “I don’t think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”

    As to not pushing contraceptives, the antics of the Toronto school district make that assertion rather dubious as well.

  • Think about it. In your ideal world, you (or your church since you are required to believe what your church teaches) would dictate curriculum to everyone. No way. Public schools need to teach children with a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds and not all can be accommodated at all times. And I like said, I do not agree with everything the public school teaches and does but I’m not as self centered to think they need to do everything my way. Apparently you are.

  • Art Deco – I’m not sure what jurisdiction you are in but parents have access to a public system but can choose private school (my choice) or religious schools or home school.

    1. In the county in which I grew up, 89% of the primary and secondary enrollment was in the state schools. I grew up in a metropolitan county which had a critical mass of Catholics to build a parallel system and had had, at one time, one of the most vigorous diocesan administrations in the history of the American Church. If you were in a non-metropolitan county, you were generally out of luck. I should note that the economy of Catholic education was crucially dependent upon the vigor of the religious orders. Schools not staffed by celibate Catholic religious enrolled about 1.4% of the students in my home county. Yes, state schools are a functional monopoly.

    2. The vast majority of people have children at one time or another and thus enroll children in school at some point in their life. However, at any one time, most adults are paying taxes to cross-subsidize the extant corps of parents. There is no problem with that per se; what goes around comes around. However, these same adults are compelled to support schools who carry a pedagogy that violates their conscience. In effect, they are dhimmi paying the jizya.

    3. The problem is compounded for people who have school age children right now. They not only pay the jizya, or they are compelled to pay tuition and fees to make alternative arrangements, leave the labor force to make alternative arrangements (Advocate Price can elaborate on that, as can Mrs. Price), or contend around the dinner table with the filthy runoff of the places they send their children to school.

    4. Please recall that primary and secondary schooling is not a ‘public good’ in the sense that roads are or in the sense that the services of the police or the military are. Schools are service enterprises which can and do arise spontaneously thrive on the open market as do other service enterprises. It is just that it was deemed desirable, around about 1840, that there be a baseline of educational services produced in this country; it was later deemed desirable that there be a baseline consumed – hence truancy laws. There are civic and economic reasons for this (well or ill-considered). However, to achieve that end, state governments in this country elected to use the tool of public agency. Given the record-keeping technology and practice and the mindsets of the time, this may have been the only practical option – then, not now.

    5. Sixty years ago, you had less contention on certain social and moral questions and a great deal more local discretion in the staffing, curriculum, and disciplinary standards of local schools. They were ‘common schools’ to a much greater degree than they are today. Now, they belong to, to the occupational associations, to the unions, to NCATE and the teacher training faculties, to local politicians, and to state and local educrats who embody these stake-holders.

    6. Sorry, but various and sundry agitators in this country have just no sense of restraint or courtesy when dealing with the larger society, and the judiciary and the apparat are verrry responsive to them. Politicized homosexuals are the worst, followed by the educational wing of the industry which produces contraceptives, followed by ethnic particularists.

    Actually where I live in Canada, Catholics can send their children to publicly funded Catholic school where there are allowed to teach against all those things.

    Yeah, we heard all about it.

    http://www.cpco.on.ca/News/PrincipalConnections/PastIssues/2006-2007/Fall/A%20Precious%20Legacy%20Lost.pdf

  • “Think about it. In your ideal world, you (or your church since you are required to believe what your church teaches) would dictate curriculum to everyone.”

    Incorrect Michael as even a cursory study of the history of states where Catholicism is the dominant religion would quickly demonstrate. You have a cartoon vision of the Church and Catholics and the reality is at complete variance with your cartoon image. Even Catholics who are completely Orthodox differ quite a bit in their views. We see that every day in the comboxes. Unlike the totalitarian atheist ideologies of the last century, Catholicism has never cherished complete conformity in secular matters as either possible or even desirable. There is a reason why the Church has championed subsidiarity, because she has always understood that on most matters it is a big world out there and good people are going to differ endlessly.

  • Watching you silently backpedal away from your confident assertions is fascinating, I’ll say that.

    Um, no, I don’t expect public schools to follow a curriculum dictated by myself. I’d be happy if they were neutral–as opposed to, say, sponsoring a regular mosque service, as Toronto’s public schools did. I trust you registered your disapproval of that? Or having materials promoting group sex (again, the Toronto schools, which are just amazing. Bipolar, apparently, but amazing).

    But since you don’t object to the state dictating to Catholic schools what they can and cannot teach, I suspect this discussion is played out. If it’s only a problem when your ox is gored, then what’s the point?

  • Michael, I think someone already asked you to do this, but could you please give an account of the objective, normative system of morality, by which you are able to evaluate policies and determine whether they are “immoral” or not?

  • Donald R. McClarey -Catholics may certainly disagree on their views of many things but I said beliefs and you cannot disagree on your beliefs unless you are a cafeteria Catholic, picking what you like and discarding what you don’t. Are you a cafeteria Catholic?

  • Belief in the Real Presence? Of course. Belief in one way of organizing a government? Not at all. One of the beliefs which Catholics treasure is freedom of religion which is enshrined in DIGNITATIS HUMANAE.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

  • 1. There’s no aw that makes state schools a functional monopoly in any western jurisdiction I know of.

    2. And I disagree with spending money to support wars I don’t agree with, or to build roads I’ll never use. Can everyone opt out of what they disagree with?

    3. I have no idea what jizya is.

    4. How is education different from a military?

    5. Sixty years ago mixed race marriages were illegal in many jusrisdictions, homosexuals could be jailed and blacks were denied access to the same schools as whites. Do you long for those halcyon days?

  • Sixty years ago mixed race marriages were illegal in many jusrisdictions, homosexuals could be jailed and blacks were denied access to the same schools as whites. Do you long for those halcyon days?

    It’s obnoxious that you can’t argue without presuming the worst about those with whom you disagree. How do ascriptions of hateful motives in those you disagree with rationally advance your arguments?

  • 3. I have no idea what jizya is.

    Jizya is the tax traditionally leveled by Muslim states upon their non-Muslim subjects, the dhimmis. It had the effect of marginalizing those subjects and, over time, forcing their conversion to Islam to escape the onerous financial burden.

  • Dale Price – So it gone full circle. If Donald R. McClarey can call Prof Dawkins a bigot and a coward without foundation why do you decry my comment when I do no such thing. I asked the question, didn’t impose the answer.

  • St. Augustine wrote in The City of God, “The only evils these people recognize are having to endure hunger, disease, and murder.”

    These people don’t believe in a supreme being and so have no objective, moral authority except fear of police state retribution, or fear of Muslims beheading them if they mistreat Islam the way they do Christianity.

    Be nice to Michael. Soon we’ll be fleeing to Canada.

  • Donald R. McClarey – We were dicussing beliefs, not views. Are you a cafeteria Catholics? Do you reject the Catholic Church’s teaching on any issues?

  • I asked the question, didn’t impose the answer.

    Ah. So the following is cool by you, then. Good:

    “Michael, are you a fan of Toronto Public Schools promoting group sex to high schoolers?”

    No answer is imposed.

    Oh, and Dawkins is a scorching anti-religious bigot: anyone who compares religious education of children by their parents to child abuse can be described with no other terms.

    His comparatively-bashful performance on Al Jazeera certainly raises interesting questions about his starch. If he was misrepresented in that interview, he should be thumping the tub like he does about catechism of youngsters.

  • there were aspects of society that were more positive “back in the day,” yes, despite people’s tendency to reduce it to its flaws.

  • “Michael, I think someone already asked you to do this, but could you please give an account of the objective, normative system of morality, by which you are able to evaluate policies and determine whether they are “immoral” or not?”

    Because we both get much of our morality from the secular world around us. See the video I posted above “Richard Dawkins destroys muslim on morality”. He uised it to answer essentially the same question you asked here.

  • Think about it. In your ideal world, you (or your church since you are required to believe what your church teaches) would dictate curriculum to everyone. No way. Public schools need to teach children with a wide variety of beliefs and backgrounds and not all can be accommodated at all times. And I like said, I do not agree with everything the public school teaches and does but I’m not as self centered to think they need to do everything my way. Apparently you are.

    Michael, I have a multi-part suggestion:

    1. Re-incorporate all the state schools as philanthropic enterprises. Place schools comprehending 93% of the berths under the authority of trusteeships elected in a postal ballot by locally resident alumni. Have the local sheriff as the trustee of the other 7% (basically dumping grounds for incorrigibles no one else will take).

    2. Charter about two dozen regental colleges. These colleges would be para-statal occupational associations. You would have one college for the accountants, one for statisticians and actuaries, one for retired military, one for school teachers, one for engineers, several for different fractions of the arts and sciences faculties & c. Hold postal ballots among members of each college to nominate candidates for a board of regents, say, three per college. You can have the Lt. Governor or whomever pick one of the three.

    3. Extend to the board of regents the task of composing school examinations within guidelines delineated in statutory law. You could have a basic education series with five or six paces, an academic secondary series with two paces, and a vocational series with one pace. Test all the young twice a year, wherever they are enrolled.

    4. Produce league tables for all schools in the province. The ideal metric, if you can produce it, would be a measure of semester-to-semester improvement controlling for the psychometric profile of the school. Identify the schools at the very bottom of the table (leaving aside those under the sheriff’s government) who comprehend 1.5% of the registered students. Revoke their charters and remand them to the courts for a supervised liquidation.

    5. Identify any home-schooled children scoring especially poorly. Send their parents a notice that they have to register with an incorporated school the following year or be in violation of truancy laws.

    6. Finance the whole shebang with vouchers issued by the state education ministry. A voucher would be issued to a custodial parent for each child between the ages of 5 and 18. The parent would register their young at the town clerk’s office and turn the voucher over to the school authorities each semester. The school principal would forward these to the state treasury for redemption. Should the parent wish to home school or make some other sort of alternative arrangement, the voucher can be turned into the town clerk who will rebate a portion of the parents’ direct tax payments up to a dollar value maximum. What is key is that the young appear twice a year for their examinations, proctored by the board of regents.

    7. Incorporated schools participating in the voucher program, whether quondam state schools, Catholic schools, sundry private academies, or those with provisional accreditations, will operate under a regulatory regime, with the corporation and staff bound to respect local land use regulations, health and safety regulations (notably fire and building codes), the penal code, elements of commercial law which prohibit collusive pricing and deceptive solicitation and advertising; and elements of labor law which prescribe wage and hour standards and provide for civil penalties for specified abuses inflicted on employees. As philanthropies, they will have to deposit their financial statements with the Secretary of State and face legal limits on the permissible compensation of their officers. They will face limits on nepotism in hiring and contracting; they will be compelled to bank all retained income in an audited endowment; they will face civil and criminal penalties for crimes analogous to commercial bribery and extortion should they attempt that; they will be prohibited from charging tuition and fees (though not from soliciting donations). Otherwise, leave them alone to set their hiring standards, compose their curriculum, and set their disciplinary standards. If they do an exceptionally poor job, the results of regents’ examinations will compel their closure.

    8. Each youngster, on reaching the age of 18, will have a book of certificates with one for each examination successfully completed. The content of that book will influence what sort of tertiary education he seeks out and qualifies for; tertiary education will be strictly fee-for-service, not subsidized, and lightly regulated.

    Complete parental choice with quality control measures. Why not? Well…

    I guarantee you, a mass of vested interests would loathe most every element of such a system, and you would also have blowhards like the late Robert Hughes kvetching about the state giving so much as a dime to parochial schools.

  • “Donald R. McClarey – We were dicussing beliefs, not views. Are you a cafeteria Catholics? Do you reject the Catholic Church’s teaching on any issues?”

    Depends upon what you mean by teaching. Non-Catholics tend to have an erroneous view of what is dogma in the Catholic Church and what is not. Here are two links where we had vigorous disagreement among Orthodox Catholics:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/07/24/father-wison-miscamble-defends-bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/

    http://the-american-catholic.com/tag/bomfog/

    You will almost always find more diversity of beliefs and opinions in a gathering of Orthodox Catholics than you will among the faculty of almost all universities, although admittedly that is a low bar.

  • 2. And I disagree with spending money to support wars I don’t agree with, or to build roads I’ll never use. Can everyone opt out of what they disagree with?

    As indicated above. Both the military and the road network are what economists call ‘public goods’. They only come into being with the erection of government. This is not the case with schools, which can and do thrive on the open market. By the way, the Selective Service System in this country regularly provided dispensations from military service for Mennonites and various others.

    3. I have no idea what jizya is.

    Among other things.

    4. How is education different from a military?

    The salient difference is noted above. Among other things, military service is inherently stereotypes. Schooling is not.

    Sixty years ago mixed race marriages were illegal in many jusrisdictions, homosexuals could be jailed and blacks were denied access to the same schools as whites. Do you long for those halcyon days?

    This is completely non sequitur and faintly malicious. However, if you are at all curious:

    1. Anti-micegenation laws were a comparatively recent innovation (all post-bellum, I believe. Mr. McClarey will know) and not universal. I am from New York, where they were not in force. They were not of much importance because there was almost no interest on either side of the color bar in contracting marriages across it. (By the way, black women in the United States generally disapprove of cross-racial amatory affiliations).

    2. Consensual sodomy was a class b misdemeanor where I grew up (similar to other sex offenses, like patronizing a prostitute). Petty misdemeanors seldom result in jail time in New York (and I believe that was true 60 years ago as well), but municipal judges do have that option. The maximal sentence would be 90 days. Bar in very odd circumstances, you had to be collared going down on someone in a public place to be hauled in for consensual sodomy.

    3. Segregated schools systems were problematic primarily where blacks were thin on the ground and assembling a small corps of black students for a segregated school imposed various sorts of costs on that population; they could also be problematic when they were short-changed on funding. Caste regulations do incorporate insult into public life. However, as has been known for 40-odd years, beginning with James Coleman’s research published in 1966, they were not particularly problematic in any injuries to the intellectual development of black pupils, at least as regards the post-war period when a certain meliorist strain was abroad among Southern politicians (e.g. James Byrnes) reflected in educational administration. A great deal of injury was done after 1955 in attempts to engineer integrated schools (as distinct from desegregated schools). You have to compare the reality of before and after, not a caricature of the before next to aspirations for the after.

    My mother and father grew up in a world which had much to recommend it and much that is no longer present. That standards and practices of that world produced better-reared people. As Peter Hitchens says, we chose the wrong future.

  • “Anti-micegenation laws were a comparatively recent innovation (all post-bellum, I believe. Mr. McClarey will know) and not universal.”
    About 30 states had anti-miscegeny laws at one time. Democrats tended to push for them and Republicans to oppose them. By the time of Loving v. Virginia which struck down anti-miscegency laws, about 16 states had them, all former slave holding states, and, except for Delaware, almost totally controlled by Democrats. One of the groups supporting the challenge to the anti-miscegeny laws in 1967 was the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the predecessor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • Read up, Michael. The “same-sex marriage is ou generations interracial marriage” argument is made by emotional children.

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/05/1324/

  • I still think that apart from revelation, there is no convincing argument to be made against it. The reason we oppose homosexuality is because it is a matter of creation. We hold that a triune God created humanity and that through his plan we move toward a telos. Apart from the scriptural narrative, it sounds highly unreasonable to condemn alternative lifestyles.

  • We can cite the biological makeup of people and the medical complications which arise from the behavior, but without a creational framework I’m not sure it would make much sense.

  • I agree Jon. Natural law itself is not sufficient. It needs God to move it from a description of what is to a guide of what we ought to do.

  • Jon: “Apart from the scriptural narrative, it sounds highly unreasonable to condemn alternative lifestyles.”
    The homosexual agenda is militating for equality in marriage. Once the laws are readjusted, not one homosexual in an alternate lifestyle will do what married people do. Is this not fraud, saying one thing and doing another? Once the homosexual does the heterosexual thing, he can no longer call himself homosexual, now, can he or she?
    If God has indeed allowed homosexuality, God has promised you to Himself as celibate. Or does the idea of virginity disturb you? and why would that be?

  • Mary, you misunderstood what I said. I’m saying we can’t argue against homosexuality on the grounds of a ‘nature’ people do not acknowledge. We must simply argue against it on scriptural grounds. Our argument begins with creation and it’s rooted in the entire scriptural narrative.

  • It is true we can argue against homosexuality on the basis of biology and medical reports, but how far will we get? Without a creational context, people will simply argue something like this: If homosexuals wish to do something different and its consensual, who are we to judge? Isn’t that the reply we usually get? So I maintain we argue on scriptural grounds, and not on the grounds of ‘nature’ as we understand it.

  • And if homosexual marriage is legalized, the man and man or woman and woman will remain homosexuals. They will still be called homosexuals because they’re homosexual, even if marriage of homoseuxals is legal. The terminology wiil remain. I also agree it does not imply monogomy. They may be polygomous as many married heterosexual couples are today. They may be far more so.

  • “4. How is education different from a military?

    The salient difference is noted above. Among other things, military service is inherently stereotypes. Schooling is not.”

    The infant children, not having reached the age of emancipation and informed consent, become a captive audience in any school. Some jurisdictions of the Ninth Circut Court in California have said that once the child crosses the threshhold of the school, parents no longer have any jurisdiction over what and how their legally minor children are taught. State Kidnapping. Unlawful imprisonment. Criminal indoctrination. If the child passes away while at the school, will the state then be liable for manslaughter or homicide?

    The atheist denies our Creator and then demands endowed unalienable civil rights from the state, from the people, to dictate to the people and to indoctrinate the peoples’ children in the means to use laws against the people, to use endowed unalienable rights against God.

    Only truth has freedom of speech. Atheism is not free to tell our minor children that there is no Creator, and that our Creator is not the endower of all unalienable rights. The rest is nasty totalitarianism.

  • “Mary, you misunderstood what I said. I’m saying we can’t argue against homosexuality on the grounds of a ‘nature’ people do not acknowledge. We must simply argue against it on scriptural grounds. Our argument begins with creation and it’s rooted in the entire scriptural narrative.”

    Jon. I am arguing that homosexual practice is unlawful. The state can make laws against obesity before they can make laws against homosexuality. It is the act of free will to engage in homosexual behavior that violates nature and man’s human nature and the community. It is an insult to God to abuse nature and the human body. For the homosexual person to say that he is driven to be addicted to lust and to violate his body is a LIE, for there is grace that is sufficient. To enshrine the vice of homosexual behavior and the assault and battery that it is to oneself and to another, in law, is uncivilized, worse than barbarian. For the state to enshrine “gay-marriage” into law is for the state to deny the homosexual citizen’s endowed, unalienable rights and his sovereign personhood. The homosexual practitioner redefines the human being when he denies his human soul. For the state to redefine the human being as having no soul is nasty totalitarianism.
    Persons with same-sex attraction are called homosexual. Persons practicing homosexual behavior are called sodomites.

  • “They may be polygomous as many married heterosexual couples are today”

    think you mean polyamorous, and “many” is a stretch (obviously some people cheat but it’s still seen as a failing, contrast with prominent male same-sex marriage advocates saying agreed-upon cheating should be accepted as a part of the relationship)

  • “Personally it’s because Islam has no direct effect on me… If Dawkins read up on Islam, would you go after him for not being an expert on Hinduism?”

    Translation: Dawkins and I find it easier to convert Western Christians to Western Narcissism, Materialism and Secular Liberalism than convert Muslims or Hindus to our religion. I know better how to confuse, sow division, introduce strife, promote sin and encourage vice in Christians than I do members of cultures I’m less familiar with.

  • Mary, I really don’t understand why you always insist upon “reading” Catholicism into the the American political ethos, as if it is the embodiment of Catholic political thought and was originally conceived and articulated with Catholicism in mind. It isn’t and it wasn’t.

  • Michael,

    Dawkins proves my point. Atheism can never provide an objective, normative moral framework. Under atheism, morality is simply an individual’s opinion, or the consensus of the community. It is not something that exists independent of whether people are conscious of it and it can never actually tell someone why they “ought” to do something, save some utilitarian schema of incentives and consequences. When arguing about morality, atheist invariably end up talking in circles, because they have no sound first principles with which to work from.

    Dawkins did not destroy the Muslim’s question. He didn’t even engage it. Materialist atheists like Dawkins, Harris, etc will continue to base their “systems of morality” on unspoken and unprovable assumptions, like that existence is to be preferred over non-existence. Prove it Dawkins! As the Muslim audience member correctly alludes to in his question, this is highly ironic, as it constitutes the type of “leap of faith” that Dawkins and his ilk so vehemently assault.

    Dawkins may be a brilliant biologist but he is also an awful, awful, awful failure of a philosopher (seriously, did you see him get DESTROYED by Rowan Williams? It was embarrassing and painful to watch). He is also intellectually inconsistent, and therefore a hypocrite.

    Your boy, Richard, has categorically failed to provide what I asked for. Can you do any better, Michael?

  • To Atheist; “Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency…” Mic.7:18

    This was part of my morning prayer, from a Lenten reflection booklet. I have been listening to this thread then this passage this am.
    Enough name calling. Question is who is like Our God?

  • Michael,
    Catholic Clerics (most anyway) operate in Persona Christi ( person in Christ) . It is highly common to get the point across in a manner that is foreign. to most of the world.

    God Bless

  • Jeanne Marie: Catholic priests and only Catholic priests operate in “persona Christi” only when they consecrate the Sacred Species using Jesus Christ’s words at Mass and when they give absolution to sins in the Sacrament of Penance. It is almost like power of attorney to operate in Christ’s stead. The rest of the time, the Catholic priest operates as “alter Christ”, another Christ, through his ordination and his vocation. As lay persons, the laity operate as the prieshood of the laity, unordained, and only throught the ordained priesthood and through the Catholic Church.

  • “as if it is the embodiment of Catholic political thought and was originally conceived and articulated with Catholicism in mind. It isn’t and it wasn’t.”
    JL:
    It is and it was.
    “The Declaration of Independence states that: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” Therefore, “We” as a nation hold that all men have a Creator. We petition Divine Providence and seek to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” from the Preamble to our Constitution. Only the articles and amendments to our Constitution may be changed by 2/3 of the states ratifying the change.
    It constantly amazes me that some atheists will thumbs down our founding principles and then demand their civil rights.
    God created freedom and Catholic political thought expresses this freedom explicitly.

  • Dawkins a Bigot and Coward. I would also throw in “Moron” with it. Dawkins, like his late friend Hitchins, always made sure they are infront of a cheering audience. They are both smart asses who appealed to the knuckle head college crowd. But these fools could be shut down in a debate with a knowledgeable person.

  • “Pray tell inform the community which “immoral” parts of the Bible”

    I’ve heard atheists state that the Ten Commandments are offensive.
    So, “thou shall not steal” and “thou shall not kill” are offensive?

    Ok neighbor, I’ll keep my doors locked with the likes of you around.

  • JL:
    Practicing homosexuals cannot and will not consummate their sexual relations in their flesh, why should practicing homosexuals demand consummation of their fallacy in the law and in the culture, to be taught as an alternate lifestyle to minor children in public school or in any way be accorded a good for the people?

  • Mary, was that an actual question?

    And I’ll await your evidence that the Founders were all devout Catholics, inspired more so by Aquinas and Augustine than Locke and Spinoza.

  • The assumption on the part of non-Christians is that homosexuality is harmless. That it does nothing to the fabric of society. That people who complain about it are merely bigoted. A lot of false information exists. But I often think that if we cited medical findings on the matter, we would have a better argument to make in the public forum. These days people think in terms of pragmatism. They want to know what works and what doesn’t. Not what’s right and wrong. So if we cite evidence that homosexuality is dangerous to individual’s and the public’s health, we might have something relevant to say. Otherwise, our argument is rooted in the scriptural story of how God created the world and what he wishes to do with it, and we need faith to believe in that.

Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

Sunday, December 16, AD 2012

Sadly it often takes tragedies for religious faith to grow. It seems an unfortunate part of our fallen nature. We have been hit by a spate of tragedies as of late; in its wake we often see churches full of worshippers seeking answers where once there were but a few. Following both world wars, there existed a religious resurgence that unlike the recent tragedies did not ebb and flow. It remained constant due in large part to the horrific loses of human life.

Modernism was alive and well and condemned by the likes of Pope Pius X even before the Guns of August began in 1914. The Catholic and Protestant churches were increasingly seeing relativistic elements entering their seminaries. However unlike recent times, they were quickly addressed. Though we are gaining the upper hand, it has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI lamented that “The Smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I speak about the positive events occurring within the Church, as well as those movements who aim to do us harm. In addition, the book delves into how we got into this mess in the first place.

Following World War I there was a great return to religious devotions, especially those having to do with the Blessed Mother. The events of Fatima which had occurred during the war and were being followed closely around the Catholic globe. As I mentioned in my article on the Schoenstatt Movement, the likes of Father Josef Kentenich chastised theological authorities who were giving short shrift to these devotions as well as those who dismissed popular devotions to those who recently passed away like the future Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower.) Father Kentenich reminded these scoffers that Jesus did indeed say that we must become like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom.

The well heeled of Europe and many American ex pats found their way to Paris to rebel against the religious side of the equation. On the whole, they were a gloomy lot who seemed to drown their sorrows in all matter of drink and sexual exploits which only made them more unbearable. Some even found their way to more exotic locales like Casablanca, as did the fictional Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the epic film Casablanca.

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7 Responses to Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

  • In Spain, the Franco regime and its views led to pent-up hostility towards the Catholic church after Franco died.

    France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution and not even the numerous apparitions of Mary have been able to return the French to her former status as Eldest Daughter of the Church.

    The unification of Italy in the 19th century unleashed hostility towards the Catholic clergy, seeing them as privileged (gross oversimplification).

    Germany, Holland, Austria….others know the reason for the decline better than I do.

    In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.

  • Dave.
    Fr. John Hardon, (d.2000) gave striking warnings of a future American landscape if Catholics didn’t return to the sacraments.
    Catholics because they are the privileged members of the Body of Christ.
    Fr. Hardon; “If American Catholics do not return to the true faith, return to frequent the sacraments, then they will experience the sufferings of First century Christians.”

    The battleground is Christian America.

  • Penguins Fan wrote

    “France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution…”

    The “slipping away” began almost a century and a half earlier, in the aftermath of the Wars of Religion in France (1562-1598) and the Thirty Years War in Germany (1618-1648) These ended in a stalemate; the Reformation gained no new territory, but it proved impossible to restore the unity of Christendom. The all but inevitable result was the growth of scepticism: both sides could not be right, but they could both be wrong. Theology, as a science (a means of knowledge) was generally viewed as discredited. It was to such people that the Pensées of Pascal were addressed.

    On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority. Nothing better illustrates the condition of the Church than that priests like the Abbé Sieyès and bishops like Talleyrand were not untypical. Acton notes that “Those among them who had been chosen by the Church itself for its supreme reward, the Cardinal’s hat—Rohan, Loménie de Brienne, Bernis, Montmorency and Talleyrand—were men notoriously of evil repute.” Maury, afterwards Cardinal and Archbishop of Paris, was a man whose character was below his talents.

  • ‘However, what price will it take for our hubris and narcissism to defer to God’s love, truth and reason?’

    Vital question. Something like pulling the plug or a ‘forty’ day or year span of character building or voices to balance the scale in culture.

    ‘In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.’

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.’ –

    … to the point of Churches being locked due to the victimization.

    The violent insane seem to attack the defenseless, such as in schools, theaters, and gatherings. What provokes violent behavior are celebrated elements of the culture which have lost civility and balanced character traits of decent restraint.

    I think of some not funny comedians, the loss of board games to computer ones played alone, the gang phenomenon, the irony of the women’s liberation movement and the outrageous displays of today’s women, artisans becoming ‘artists’ of the useless, and more, and vaguely, electronic replacement of human activity/work. Mental inability and illness, loss of human care to gov. regulations and courts strangling progress.

    ‘On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority.

    … a man whose character was below his talents.’ ***

    Education becoming unrelated to the character building of good judgement or virtue. Lifetimes given to learning from the inspirations and beauty of our Creator have value. So what will bring more than a temporary turn to religion in reaction to sorrowful tragedy is what M P-S wrote. Character. The culture of death is deterring religious growth and its strength of character; so maybe, simply accepting God’s gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love (in even horrible circumstances brought on by evil afoot) would serve to rebuild His recommended culture of life.

    People finding the great comfort of a more religious life, however found, will grow to see the discomfort in a solely material world and loss therein. Hunger and thirst for more works both ways.

  • I think this is a complete misreading of the past century.

    WWI saw the collapse of faith in state, royalty, race, and progress, which were the reigning beliefs in Europe. The facade of faith was slipping away, and France drifted into despair. Nihilism, drugs, and eventually existentialism did little to fill the void. Russia fell. The US won the war and retained its optimism or something like it, until the decadence of the 1920’s collapsed into the Great Depression. Germany went a different route, re-embracing race and progress in an awful way. By the end of WWII, the spirit of despair ruled most everywhere. European countries gave up their empires and gave in emotionally to the Soviets. America held together because of its devil rather than because of its god.

    There are little ripples throughout history which can make it seem like one decade is holier than another. And we are affected by (not controlled by) our culture, so I shouldn’t say that all of us within a given country move in lockstep. But the trendline for the past 100 years has been ugly. The wars led to loss of faith among millions.

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  • There are some great posts here. Yes, Penguins Fan when faith begins to slip it can fall in a hurry, much like someone climbing a mountain, a momentary slip can take the climber a great deal of time to return from where he momentarily slipped.

    Philip, Father Hardon was prophetic, he was fond of saying the modern rebellion began in the 1930s. I can’t remember exactly the date he was referring to but it had to do with a group of priests in pre- WWII (Belgium?) taking liturgical matters in their own hands. He saw the slipping away of reverance and the degree to which the sacraments were being dismissed as a harbinger of something awful to come.

    Michael Paterson Semour, yes few realize the true impact of the Reformation when it was put into the hands of men like Jean Calvin who saw to it that mystery was dismissed. In addition, Calvin saw to it that churches were closed during the week to prevent “superstitious rituals” like Marian Devotion and Eucharistic Adoration from continuing. Putting doubts in people’s minds certainly set the stage for the unholy terror that was the French Revolution. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton saw it for what it was but even thinkers like Thomas Jefferson were fooled into thinking that it was an Englightened event.

    PM, yes as I indicated in my article it is hard to believe that Hollywood helped the faith with many fantastic films, and it even had powerful messages in TV dramas as late as the 1970s. However, Father Peyton saw the troubling signs years before and tried to prevent the catastrophe which is now controlling our media culture. In the 1940s, Father Peyton believed Hollywood could evangelize the world through films, but he also knew it would also become a target of the dark side.

    Pinky, true we are responsible for our actions but wealth and prosperity have always been the tool to which the dark side lures societies going back to Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, Rome etc to walk away from God. However, tragedies have sobered people up long enough to see the error of their ways. For a decade starting in the mid 1990s, Poland was ordaining half of Europe’s priests. Look at the saints France gave us after the nightmare of 1789.

    It is important to note that we will be the last man standing so to speak. The faithful will come our way because Jesus predicted that it would happen (The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.) Let’s hope and pray that in the final showdown large segments of the populace see through the demonic disguise of the evil one.

Why I Think You’ll Like Jennifer Fulwiler’s ‘Minor Revisions’

Thursday, December 13, AD 2012

Sooo…Jen has a reality show that debuts tonight. It’s called Minor Revisions.

While Jen found it a little bit awkward to tell you about this new mini-series of hers, I’m tickled pink to tell you why I think you’ll love the series. She gave me a little sneak preview since we both engage with atheists and we both are converts. We have other things in common: We both are fascinated by science, we both have a lot of little kids, and we both have a fondness for Texas. She lives there, I grew up there. She hates the scorpions that invade her house; I hate the spiders that compete for mine.

Anyway, here are three things (in true Jennifer Fulwiler bullet point style) that I think you’ll like — no love! — about her mini-series ‘Minor Revisions.’ These are things that I did not expect, pleasant surprises.

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10 Responses to Why I Think You’ll Like Jennifer Fulwiler’s ‘Minor Revisions’

How I Chose To Argue For Free Will

Monday, September 17, AD 2012

Hello TAC, it is good to be posting again after a prolonged illness that left me unable to do anything but make half-conscious Facebook updates. I have been following the news, and for the sake of our collective sanity, I am going to refrain from extended commentary on foreign affairs. Instead I wanted to share with you an interesting discussion I had recently with some rather confident, cocky atheists on the question of free will.

It had begun as a debate on the so-called “problem of evil.” They think we have a problem with evil; maybe some Christians do, but I don’t. But I do think atheists – by which I mean Western, science-worshiping, philosophical materialists – have a problem with evil. Namely, how do materialists who reject free will (either explicitly or implicitly, depending on how well they’ve thought it out) even speak of such a thing as “evil”? Assuming we are speaking of human acts, and not things like bad weather, to describe an act as “evil” or malicious or malevolent or something similar assumes and implies that it was freely chosen. No one speaks of a lion’s decision to tear apart a zebra for sustenance as an “evil” act. What mindless animals do has no moral significance whatsoever. What people do has significance solely on the assumption that we can choose otherwise. In other words, free will. Without the assumption of free will, morality utterly collapses into a meaningless rubbish heap.

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7 Responses to How I Chose To Argue For Free Will

  • It is worth pointing out that determinism is an “empty” concept. It is incapable of distinguishing any conceivable sequence of events from any other and so adds nothing to a description of them. Put another way, what test can be used to distinguish an irresistible impulse from one that is merely unresisted?

    An hypothesis that cannot possibly be falsified is “not even wrong,” but meaningless.

  • I am sorry you were Il, Bonchamps. I pray that you are now restored to full good health. As for the tactic that you employed against your atheist detractor as described in your post, I say bravo.

  • Thank you for the post Bonchamps.
    Freewill is the medium used to love God, or distance oneself from Him. He Loves perfectly.
    We have a distorted love, however time and the practice of virtue, allows us to partake in refining our imperfect love. Thank God for freewill.

  • In my experience, materialists are not living lives totally disconnected from their beliefs. They are like those who claim they hold Christian beliefs yet hold back some area of their lives, such as a fond sin, an unforgivable hurt, or a small piece of autonomy.
    What materialists usually hang onto are generally profound things. They hang on to a deep desire for meaning in life, to a sense of good and evil, and to an acknowledgement that they are moral agents; that they have free will.
    I appreciate the frustration of dealing with people who are not totally conscious of their real worldview, whether they claim to be Christian or materialist. In the materialist camp, only the nihilists have completely thought thru their worldviews. I don’t know if Dawkins puts himself in that camp, but I put him there. He has written that asking what the meaning of life is, is itself a meaningless question.
    In dealing with these people I urge acting in love and praying for the quidance of the Holy Spirit. Finding that non-materialist nugget they are holding on to may be the key to their salvation, just as that last piece of our lives we’ve withheld from Christ is the key to our damnation.

  • I read somewhere that Fulton Sheen (I think) had the argument that atheists obviously do believe in God because they spend too much time worrying & thinking about Him. If I don’t believe in zombies & don’t think they exist, I can get on with my days quite nicely without having to shout from the rooftops or put up billboards or force others to not celebrate them. I can easily just say, “I don’t believe in zombies,” and live & let live. There’s no bullying involved in my hoping that everyone else would give up the idea that zombies do exist. I don’t need to start the Humans Against Zombies Club & hope that everyone will see my way. I don’t need to hurl insults at those who believe in zombies.

  • MaryAnne…nice point of view. Thanks. I know I’ll use this next week…if you don’t mind. Non-believer acquaintance…Phil.

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Dr. Stenger and the Folly of Free-Thinking

Tuesday, July 10, AD 2012

Are we to believe the New Atheist free-thinkers see themselves as reasonable as rocks?

I was hesitant to write this because I don’t like picking battles with atheists. At first I didn’t see how anyone would take this idea about free will and our judicial system seriously, but it seems some people are. So I offer the following with the hope that if more people know about this discussion, more people can see it for the nonsense that it is. 

Victor Stenger, Ph.D. particle physicist and best-selling author of God and the Folly of Faith has written an essay at Huffington Post “Free Will is an Illusion” and it took an unexpected turn. Certainly, the atheistic consideration of free will is nothing new, but Dr. Stenger also makes a connection between free will, or the lack thereof, and our judicial system in the United States. This position has disturbing societal implications.

Keep in mind, this is the man who popularized the phrase: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” He has also published such titles as God: The Failed Hypothesis and The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason. Victor Stenger has made it known that he thinks science can prove there is no god, and that he considers religion dangerous to society.

In this Huffington Post essay he references a book by another physicist, Leonard Mlodinow, who says that the unconscious plays a dominant role in human behavior. As Dr. Stenger puts it, “before we become aware of making a decision, our brains have already laid the groundwork for it.” He goes on to say (read carefully), “This recognition challenges fundamental assumptions about free will and the associated religious teachings about sin and redemption, as well as our judicial concepts of responsibility and punishment. If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions? How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren’t in full control of their decision-making processes?”

He also references the book Free Will by neuroscientist Sam Harris and title-quotes him in stating that “free will is an illusion.” Dr. Stenger writes, “We don’t exist as immaterial conscious controllers, but are instead entirely physical beings whose decisions and behaviors are the fully caused products of the brain and body.”

So, essentially having established that humans are determinant blobs of matter with no free will, he then makes the case to the Huffington Post readers that “our largely retributive moral and justice systems need to be re-evaluated, and maybe even drastically revamped” if the people in society are going to be able to protect themselves from “people who are dangerous to others because of whatever it is inside their brains and nervous systems that makes them dangerous.”

That is, he is calling for a new system of morality and justice based on the the presumption that no one is ultimately responsible for his actions, and remember, he’s made it clear who he thinks the “dangerous” people are. This is eerily like the argument used to justify abortion, only we’re all blobs of tissue now.

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28 Responses to Dr. Stenger and the Folly of Free-Thinking

  • What they are saying is “science proves there is no God and so your free will is an illusion; so do what I tell you to do”.

  • When a person believes that he is evolved from an ape and is therefore just an ape – an animal subject to the instinct of the wild – then that person debases himself to become an animal and nothing more, hence what Stacy has written above.

    Good post, Stacy!

  • Fascinating.
    Our lunch time conversation with our own family apostate was not too appetizing, and a bit similar to the thrust of this post, in that it denies real choice in behavior, albeit in rats.
    A virus that lives in a cat’s gut, when it gets into a rat, affects the rat’s brain, making the rat not only lose it’s fear of cats, thus more likely to be caught by a cat; but also makes rats more likely to have sex/propagate, providing more meals for cats.
    None of this is quite the same as your atheist’s idea, but it does lay the same groundwork for not being in control of what goes on in our brains or behavior. A virus can influence brain activity that makes the rats ( or the person?) hapless. Extended to humans it can make us not responsible; not really having an intellect to call our own, much less a free will.
    Dr. Stenger’s ideas are such a denial of Truth and Beauty and Freedom. I’m hoping it is heartbreaking enough to bring the atheists and heretics back to the table of Fides et Ratio.

  • If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions? How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren’t in full control of their decision-making processes?”

    I am curious as to how a legal system (i.e., the individuals operating therein) punishing criminals is any more in control of the action of punishing and thus responsible for it.

    Of course, one shouldn’t be too hard on this sort of thinking, since it is subconsciously compelled. But then again, being too hard on this sort of thinking is likewise subconsciously compelled, and so on and so forth.

  • way to go jason

  • If atheists believe that they are just animals operating on hardwired instinct in their brains and all this stuff about free will and intellect is self-delusion, then why not treat them like wild animals and lock them up behind cages where they can’t do any harm? After all, that’s what is done with other dangerous animals and none is more dangerous than the human one.

    But who would be the zoo keepers?

  • Freethinking – you get what you pay for.

  • Good post, Stacy.

    No free will went into typing that compliment. It just happened.

  • “In this Huffington Post essay he references a book by another physicist, Leonard Mlodinow, who says that the unconscious plays a dominant role in human behavior. As Dr. Stenger puts it, “before we become aware of making a decision, our brains have already laid the groundwork for it.” He goes on to say (read carefully), “This recognition challenges fundamental assumptions about free will and the associated religious teachings about sin and redemption, as well as our judicial concepts of responsibility and punishment. If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions? How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren’t in full control of their decision-making processes?”
    This is the heresy of predestination.
    God gives man sovereign personhood, the sovereignty with which to override our inclinations, also called concupiscence. God gives and creates man, the species Homo sapiens, man of wisdom, a rational, immortal soul, the virtues and grace and Wisdom. To repudiate God, the way the atheist repudiates God, leaves the atheist piecemeal, a consciousness here, a free will there, a subconscious anywhere. Religion is a relationship with almighty God, our Creator and Endower of unalienable rights, Who constantly, in Divine Providence, steers us clear of buildings and brings us success and safety. The atheist, servant to the devil, is jealous of God and the people of God, who enjoy the blessings of Liberty . Remember, the atheist is only one opinion, a badly formed and thoughtless opinion. Jesus Christ said: I testify to myself and my Father in heaven testifies to me.” (Two witnesses establish a judicial fact) The TRUTH of God stands up in a court of law. The atheist does not have any legal standing in a court of law as he has repudiated his unalienable rights.

  • Everybody here, I enjoyed your thinking. Does your subconscious brain know that you are thinking? Great shades of Dr. Strangelove, the real title for: The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason.

  • here’s an excerpt from a nifty article at National Affairs:

    “This concept of choice is articulated near the beginning of ‘The Long Winter’, when Pa gets his first sense that a difficult season is coming as he and Laura observe the thickness of the muskrats’ lodges. Laura wants to know how the muskrats anticipate a hard winter; Pa replies, “God tells them, somehow, I suppose.”

    “Then why doesn’t God tell us?” Laura wanted to know.

    “Because,” said Pa, “we’re not animals. We’re humans, and, like it says in the Declaration of Independence, God created us free. That means we got to take care of ourselves.”

    Laura said faintly, “I thought God takes care of us.”

    “He does,” Pa said, “so far as we do what’s right. And He gives us a conscience and brains to know what’s right. But He leaves us to do as we please. That’s the difference between us and everything else in creation.”

    “Can’t muskrats do what they please?” Laura asked, amazed.

    “No,” said Pa. “I don’t know why they can’t but you can see they can’t. Look at that muskrat house. Muskrats have to build that kind of house. They always have and they always will. It’s plain they can’t build any other kind. But folks build all kinds of houses. A man can build any kind of house he can think of. So if his house don’t keep out the weather, that’s his look-out; he’s free and independent.”

    http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/lessons-in-liberty-from-laura-ingalls-wilder

  • This guy would have failed a first year philosophy course. The theory self destructs. If there is no free will because our subconscious mind makes us do things, then there can be no real knowledge because it’s our subconscious mind framing the input of our senses and how we think about it. Because there’s no real knowledge, Stenger can’t know that there is no free will. So we have no need to listen to him. The theory is only an artifact of the complex interaction of particles, and so it itself is uninformative and we can disregard it in favor of the workings of our own subconscious minds.

    But in reality, the advocate for this sort of theory is unconcerned about its actual truth, falsehood, or incoherency. It’s only a rationalization for the use of power against Christians. Nothing more, nothing less. The true believer will be unconcerned about whether it is true or false, but how it can be used to bludgeon those he doesn’t like.

  • It never ceases to astonish me how atheists will trot out some remark that they expect to confound believers, blissfully unaware that it is a commonplace of theology.

    “before we become aware of making a decision, our brains have already laid the groundwork for it.”

    The eminently orthodox Dominican theologian, Michael Bañez (1528-1604) argued “Inasmuch as the Divine influence precedes all acts of the creature, not in the order of time, but in that of causality, the motion emanating from God and seconded by free intelligent agents takes on the character of a physical premotion (proemotio physica) of the free acts, which may also be called a physical predetermination (proedeterminatio physica), because the free determination of the will is accomplished only by virtue of the divine predetermination.”

    In Bañez’s view, since God is the primal cause (causa prima) and the prime mover (motor primus), it is concluded that every act and every movement of the thoroughly contingent secondary causes (causae secundae) or creatures must emanate from the first cause, and that by the application of their potentiality to the act.

    Neither Bañez nor anyone else thought that this undermined the doctrine of free will, or, more properly,“free choice,” [liberum arbitrium) as and his opinion (for it is a theological opinion, not dogma) was staunchly defended by the Dominicans against the Jesuits. It was thrashed out threadbare during the Jansenist controversies of the 17th century and was still being ably defended by Père Reginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange OP until the middle of the last century.

    If Dr Stenger is going to write about free will, is it too much to expect him to have a nodding acquaintance with the literature?

  • Stenger, Mlodinow, and Harris all illustrate that the concepts “will”, “unconscious”, and “making a decision” are imperfectly understood. Like Zeno whose understanding of the concept “infinite” came up short, their misunderstandings lead them into constructing apparent paradoxes that they cannot solve except through a resort to the bizzare and obviously impossible. In Zeno’s case, he denied the possibility of motion despite all common sense and experience. Stenger, Mlodinow, and Harris are also headed down the path of denying common sense and experience.

  • It’s only a rationalization for the use of power against Christians.

    Against anyone not part of the intellectual class, I think.

  • All of which reminds me of Mike Flynn’s line about the new atheists being essentially Calvinists. They end up by refuting themselves, but I guess a part of free-thinking means overlooking contradictions if they are your own.

  • I wonder if the article made anyone else think about Les Miserables. It’s ironic that atheists, who consider themselves to be “humanists,” would seriously revert to a deterministic model in which a person is a perceived threat because they are “defective,” rather than because of their actions. This also brings to mind CS Lewis’ That Hideous Strength – a police state that replaces retributive justice with “rehabilitation,” which, conveniently, is a standard determined not in proportion to the crime, but according to the whim of the State. Only those in power can determine “normal,” “healthy,” and “rehabilitated.” When we deny free will, we create a society based on the Will to Power.

  • Michael,

    Amazing quote – I’m always astounded at how thoroughly all this has, indeed, been thrashed out by great Christian thinkers many centuries ago. Aside from allowing one the fun of tweaking liberals by saying we intellectually peaked with Aquinas and its all been downhill since then, it shows that the pursuit of truth has been relentless among Christians and the half-baked philosophies of the critics are nothing more than a sophomoric attempt to confound the Teacher.

  • Mark

    I sometimes wonder if intense specialisation in one field unfits people for another. Descartes was one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived, but a disaster as a philosopher. Then again, we have the pantheism of physicists like Einstein, Sir James Jeans and Schrödinger, who managed to combine Hindu mysticism with a form of Neo-Kantianism. A rather different example would be Freud’s venture into linguistics. Great composers have had a tin ear, when it comes to their librettos and, dare I say, theologians have not always distinguished themselves in their ventures into politics or economics.

  • “Sir, we know our will is free, and there’s an end on it.”
    Boswell: Life
    With greater elaboration:

    Boswell: “The argument for the moral necessity of human actions is always, I observe, fortified by supposing universal prescience to be one of the attributes of the Deity.” Johnson: “You are surer that you are free, than you are of prescience; you are surer that you can lift up your finger or not as you please, than you are of any conclusion from a deduction of reasoning. But let us consider a little the objection from prescience. It is certain I am either to go home tonight or not; that does not prevent my freedom.” Boswell: “That it is certain you are either to go home or not, does not prevent your freedom; because the liberty of choice between the two is compatible with that certainty. But if one of these events be certain now, you have no future power of volition. If it be certain you are to go home to-night, you must go home.” Johnson: “If I am well acquainted with a man, I can judge with great probability how he will act in any case, without his being restrained by my judging. God may have this probability increased to certainty.” Boswell: When it is increased to certainty, freedom ceases, because that cannot be certainly foreknown, which is not certain at the time; but if it be certain at the time, it is a contradiction in terms to maintain that there can be afterwards any contingency dependent on the exercise of will or anything else.” Johnson: “All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it.”
    Boswell: Life

  • Boswell falls into a fallacy long ago exposes by Aristotle. He is confusing a logical relationship with a causal one

    What is going to happen tomorrow will certainly happen and nothing I do today can possibly change that. But what I do today can certainly change what would have happened on Monday.

    “For although it be true that a man who is freely sitting cannot at the same time be standing (sensus compositus), nevertheless his freedom in sitting is maintained by the fact that he might be standing instead of sitting (sensus divisus)” as Laurentius Berti, (1696–1766) one of the “later Augustinians” points out. Of course, such arguments were central to the great question of grace and free will, which is why so much ink has been spilt over it. Pascal gives a satirical account of such debates in the first of his Provincial Letters; do not read it for the first time in a library, as I did and was turned out for laughing uncontrollably. Works of theology rarely have that effect, more’s the pity. But do read it in French, if you can.

  • Cmatt,

    “Freethinking – you get what you pay for.”

    LarryD,

    “No free will went into typing that compliment. It just happened.”

    Funny! 😀

  • In case anyone is interested, there’s a discussion on my blog about this article too and it’s quite different because there are several atheists and agnostics who comment there. One atheist already admitted that there “is no freedom.” 🙁

    It’s fascinating to see their reasoning, but a lot of it is just sniping too. Some are asking questions though.

    The discussion here has gotten deeper.

    Michael, There is definitely something to that thought that people should know the limits of their knowledge of a field. Descartes was a disaster as a philosopher. I’ve read before that Newton dedicated more ink to theology than physics, but his theology was so messed up.

    It seems there is a general misunderstanding today for many people about what philosophy and theology even are, or science for that matter. And I think that’s where Dr. Stenger really goes awry. He’s jumping around from science to religion to philosophy to politics kind of like a kid with a new box of crayons who hasn’t learned to stay in the lines yet, scribbling all over the page and calling it a work of art.

    I would love for him to answer the question, “If there’s no free will, then how can there be free-thinking?” That kind of talk so reminds me of my toddler who wouldn’t confess to coloring on the wall. “My crayon did it, not me.” Um, no. Won’t work.

    Anyway…thanks all for the discussion. I am loving reading all the input and really benefit from it. THANK YOU!!!

  • Michael,

    Indeed – each must keep to his own. I don’t go to theologians to build a better power plant and I don’t go to scientists to explain the nature of God. The problem with a lot of our intellectuals over the past few centuries has been attempts to willy-nilly transfer a skill in one area to a totally different area. This is compounded by the fact that over the ages scientists have ceased to be educated sufficiently in non-scientific areas.

  • “Stenger, Mlodinow, and Harris all illustrate that the concepts “will”, “unconscious”, and “making a decision” are imperfectly understood.”

    I feel I am going the way of Zeno and the others on this point. What is the proper understanding of these terms?

    Also, what is so bad about Descartes?

    Finally, if everything is determined, then nothing changes. People still believe in free will (and have to), and the same discussions go on. I do not see how, even if somehow there is no free will, anything will change, in terms of ethics or politics.

    —–

    Finally, a strange Pascal’s wager for determinism:

    If determinism is the case and I believe that determinism is the case, then what I believe is true, and I have a more realistic view of the world than I would otherwise have, if I denied determinism. My acceptance of determinism at this time could not have been otherwise.

    If determinism is the case, and I deny determinism, then what I believe is false, and my view of the world is less accurate than it would otherwise be. My refusing determinism at this time could not have been otherwise.

    If determinism is not the case, and I deny determinism, then what I believe is false, but I could chose to change my mind, and come to a deeper understanding of reality.

    It seems then that the default position most likely to align with reality is to accept determinism, because if you are right, it could not be otherwise, but if you are wrong, there is the hope of changing your mind.

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  • The truth is that the only real free-thinkers are Christians. When atheists claim to be free-thinkers, they’re speaking out of pride, not truth. In reality, they aren’t free-thinkers at all, but slaves to their passions and egos.

  • From a purely scientific point of view, atoms which make up molecules which make up our physical world, including our physical bodies, are not living things. So no matter how you arrange the molecules, they in and of themselves do not give life. This means God has to exist and we have to have souls given to us by God in order to have life.

Father Barron and Edmund Burke on Atheism

Sunday, February 26, AD 2012

 

 

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.

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9 Responses to Father Barron and Edmund Burke on Atheism

  • In Obama We Trust

    E PLURIBUS OBAMA

    Obama Bless America

    We swear on our sacred Obama . . .

    I love my master . . .

    Stop me!

  • Atheism – the easy way out.

  • The American Catholic The finite mind cannot comprehend the Infinite Mind. The sovereign being cannot comprehend the Supreme Sovereign Being. If there were two Supreme Sovereign Beings, neither would be Supreme. There can be only ONE Supreme Sovereign Being or each will preempt the other as the word” Supreme” implies.
    There is no way a finite mind will comprehend an Infinite Mind because the finite mind does not have the capacity to encompass and make his own, the intimate knowledge of an infinite nature. There is no way a finite mind can be offended by an Infinite Mind, because of the lack of information needed to make an informed consent. Unless the finite mind perjured itself and pretended to know, the finite mind can only know what the Infinite Mind instills in it. Therefore, since God is not offended by Himself, neither can man be offended by God. God instills only love in man’s finite mind.
    The devil, created as Lucifer, the Great Angel of Light is a creature with a finite mind having had a beginning and needing to be created. Lucifer rebelled against the Infinite, Supreme Sovereign Being, our Creator, without the knowledge of WHO God really is. Lucifer made war against God without knowing WHO IS LIKE UNTO GOD. Lucifer lies and murders the soul of man. Lucifer does not know God, yet, Lucifer promises to make Adam and Eve, already created as finite human beings into Infinite Human Beings. A pretty good trick since Lucifer himself is not infinite. WHO is like unto God.
    Almighty God adopts the children of men and makes of us children of God and, as his children, almighty God refers to man as “lesser gods”. God does not change the nature of man as Lucifer promised to do. God accepts man as his children and loves us forever.
    Militant factions have demanded legal equality under the law and have successfully achieved their goals. Among these are atheists, homosexuals and feminists. And now, they are MORE equal than the body of people. The atheist denies to ALL men the freedom to acknowledge almighty God, our Creator, who endows men with freedom and creates men equal. The atheist denies to all men the infused immortal soul. Man’s immortal, rational soul makes of man the crown of God’s creation. Atheism makes of man despair and hopelessness, property of the state, soulless, powerless and servile. The homosexual militants practicing psychiatry have foisted arrested development as “normal” on the medical profession. The radical feminists have emasculated our culture. Militant feminists have refused to be feminine and have refused to allow other women to be feminine. So, women are acting out, appearing in public naked to prove that they are female, rather than neuter. Men, too, are acting out in violence to prove that they are not neuter, murdering other people, raping and vandalizing. Some people are teaching trans-genderism in public school to prove that they are not neuter.
    Man’s immortal soul and his human dignity is denied to us by our current interpretation of rights, giving to atheists the freedom to tyrannize, to deny the same freedom to all people. The freest soul among us is the newly begotten sovereign person in the womb when two become one. This free soul has no moral or legal guilt, is endowed with virtue and has the gift of virginity. This free soul is hunted down and aborted, killed by his parents, neutered to make him equal to the atheists. The free will choice by the atheist has denied the American citizen his free will right to acknowledge God, our Creator, the freedom to express his immortal soul through response to the gift of Faith from God in speech, press and peace.
    The atheist uses “our Creator endowed UNALIENABLE rights” to deny to others the self-same “our Creator endowed UNALIENABLE rights”. To paraphrase Pope John Paul II “When one person is denied human rights all persons are denied human rights.” When that one Person is the Person of God and the nation is America, every citizen is a victim of the anti-Christ. It is time for a renewal of the Spirit of ’76.

  • and speaking of superstitions again: Superstition in the Supremacy of TRUTH is Catholic. If it is not true, than it is a lie. The infallibility of the Truth is Catholic. Moral relativism is like wandering in the desert. We know where we are to go but we do not know how to get there. Moral relativism is a map to nowhere, a map to more moral relativism and more relativism and finally to being nowhere. God bless us one and all…from a Christmas Carol

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  • Very true Atheism has become the opium of the masses

  • I actually liked the bus sign campaign by atheists precisely because it wasn’t directly anti-religion (i.e., it did not bash any particular religion to make its point). If religious adverts were like political campaigns, these ads would clearly not be considered a negative/attack ad.

  • The superstition of religion brings comfort and has calmed some groups while causing friction and killing among others. Our instincts do seek this kind of ease but reason creates doubts. Reason and close communication can ulitimately bring peace to our species. I wish I had the comfort of “the gift of faith” but it was not given to me.

  • There is a difference between superstition and true religion as revealed by God Frank. It is one of the key teachings of the Catholic Church that faith and reason are completely compatible. God is always extending the gift of faith to us, but we have to accept that gift. Some of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church have struggled with their acceptance of that gift. A prime example is Saint Augustine who possessed one of the sharpest intellects of his day, or any day. Good luck on your journey.

Vaclav Havel: Requiescat In Pace

Sunday, December 18, AD 2011

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.
                                                                     Vaclav Havel

 

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has died.  One of the giants of our time, he was one of the dissident heroes in the Eighties who helped end Communist rule in Eastern Europe.  He was also a profound thinker and writer.  In recent years, although his own personal religious beliefs were murky, he has bemoaned the atheism and the flight from God that has become a hallmark of modern Europe.  Last year he gave a remarkable speech, in which the following passage sums up what is wrong with Europe and much of the rest of the West:

We are living in the first truly global civilisation. That means that whatever comes into existence on its soil can very quickly and easily span the whole world.

But we are also living in the first atheistic civilisation, in other words, a civilisation that has lost its connection with the infinite and eternity. For that reason it prefers short-term profit to long-term profit. What is important is whether an investment will provide a return in ten or fifteen years; how it will affect the lives of our descendants in a hundred years is less important.

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5 Responses to Vaclav Havel: Requiescat In Pace

The Materialism of Limited Toolset

Wednesday, January 19, AD 2011

I make a point of always trying to listed on the EconTalk podcast each week — a venue in which George Mason University economics professor Russ Roberts conducts a roughly hour-long interview with an author or academic about some topic related to economics. A couple weeks ago, the guest was Robin Hanson, also an economics professor at GMU, who was talking about the “technological singularity” which could result from perfecting the technique of “porting” copies of humans into computers. Usually the topic is much more down-to-earth, but these kinds of speculations can be interesting to play with, and there were a couple of things which really struck me listening to the interview with Hanson, which ran to some 90 minutes.

Hanson’s basic contention is that the next big technological leap that will change the face of the world economy will be the ability to create a working copy of a human by “porting” that person’s brain into a computer. He argues that this could come much sooner than the ability to create an “artificial intelligence” from scratch, because it doesn’t require knowing how intelligence works — you simply create an emulation program on a really powerful computer, and then do a scan of the brain which picks up the current state of every part of it and how those parts interact. (There’s a wikipedia article on the concept, called “whole brain emulation” here.) Hanson thinks this would create an effectively unlimited supply of what are, functionally, human beings, though they may look like computer programs or robots, and that this would fundamentally change the economy by creating an effectively infinite supply of labor.

Let’s leave all that aside for a moment, because what fascinates me here is something which Roberts, a practicing Jew, homed in on right away: Why should we believe that the sum and total of what you can physically scan in the brain is all there is to know about a person? Why shouldn’t we think that there’s something else to the “mind” than just the parts of the brain and their current state? Couldn’t there be some kind of will which is not materially detectable and is what is causing the brain to act the way it is?

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15 Responses to The Materialism of Limited Toolset

  • This is like saying, “I’ve examined books with the most powerful microscopes and chemical detection kits, and I can’t detect anything except ink and paper. Therefore books do not refer to anything else and do not contain any ‘meaning’ — it’s all just ink and paper.”

  • The atheist would respond by saying:
    1. Our non-deterministic mind may be like a computer’s random number generator. In certain situations, or perhaps constantly, our brains pick random paths and this can be emulated by a computer though obviously the computer would end up picking different paths.
    2. Things like appreciation for beauty and justice are hardwired.
    3. It’s illogical to believe in something that has no proof of being or at the very least it’s reasonable not to believe in something that has no proof of being.

  • SB,

    Well, I think it’s a bit different, in that a book is a static record of information, while a human brain clearly has a lot going on in it — it’s just unclear to me a that the measurable activity includes the actual cause of the activity. But I’m having trouble coming up with another analogy. Perhaps trying to replicate a car and expecting it to drive itself around while neglecting to account for the existence of a driver?

    RR,

    Oh, and believe me, I’ve encountered those in conversations. However:

    1. The random explanation does not seem to explain the actual experience. My experience of why I married my wife rather that someone else seems neither deterministic nor random, it seems chosen.
    2. If so, there’s no particular reason we should adhere to them, and yet most people do not think that. (Actually, more frequently, I’m told that justice and beauty are evolutionary adaptations for efficiency and can be arrived at through game theory, but again I don’t think that fits with our experience.)
    3. My whole beef with this line of thinking is that we do have evidence for the existence of the will — the evidence of experience. But in this line of thinking we completely dispense with that experience of being an I who decides things and instead assume that we’re not, simply because the particular set of tools we are using isn’t able to come up with a measurable thing which correllates to our experience. Now, I can accept it if someone is willing to explicitly say that he’s making a dogmatic choice to believe in the existence only of what is physically measurable, but I’m unclear why that should be considered an obvious or even necessarily rational choice.

  • They’re still better off trying to make artificial intelligence because it will be the will and intellect of man essentially presupposing decision questions and programming in the appropriate answers. If they ported the brain of a man into a computer, the computer would fail miserably, but would have the benefit of proving the effect of the will.

    Here’s what would happen, a robot run on a ported human brain would not have the will to help keep it in check. Let’s say the robot is set off to engineer a hybrid melon that is larger, sweeter, and juicier. The robot will start comparing known melon varieties and then naturally, because it has the mind of a man, start thinking of boobs. There will be no will to consider social norms or inter-human consequences and then divert the attention to the task at hand. The robot will then head off to grope the nearest woman and won’t stop until someone pulls the plug.

  • Doubt it? Then address how a harmless discussion about artificial intelligence led to mentioning boobs?

    🙂

  • So in all those Star Trek episodes where Kirk had to make an evil super-computer blow up by telling it something like, “Everything I tell you is a lie,” the easier approach would have been to send Uhura into flash the computer?

  • “…the easier approach would have been to send Uhura into flash the computer?”

    Gives a new meaning to flash drive.

  • I think a computer with a ported human brain would still have a self-preservation instinct.

  • The funny thing is, I already know what would happen when the copy failed; it would be decided that the computer wasn’t set up right, or didn’t account for interactions properly, or other hardware failure.

    Failure is always a hardware problem, not a theory problem.

  • How’s this for an analogy: you walk down a beach with a metal detector. You find nothing but metal. You conclude that there’s nothing buried in the sand but metal, and since you’ve swept it already, there’s nothing left buried in the sand.

  • If it was possible, then the real question is will this human-computer hybrid have the same mental defects that humans do? If so, what will an interconnected, pervasive, system-wide binary intelligence with feelings of envy, greed, lust and pride do?

    Will it be SkyNet, or will it be the Borg?

    Either way, nothing good can come from it. One has to wonder why Bill Gates has been hiring biologists at an alarming rate? What is he really up to? With his intellectual inheritance of population control and eugenics – it could go either way – wipe people out, or assimilate them. Hmm . . . it is much more pleasant to think about a different kind of boob than Bill Gates.

  • AK – You raise a good point: why would anyone want to recreate the human brain, if not for its will? To a materialist, the human brain is only a thinking machine, and a screwy one at that. So why enshrine it? Why limit a computer to the confines of human thought?

  • Initially I thought that speeding up the computerized brain would be a benefit but trying to make it do things that the biological brain wouldn’t, might drive it crazy.

  • Pinky,

    If you are a materialist, then you necessarily live in fear of being wiped out of existence as if you never existed in the first place, since material existence is all that there is. Liberated from the oppressive commandments of an imaginary god, all ten of those pesky thou shat nots, then you are free to do all that is within your evolutionary impulses and technological know-how.

    What could be better than ‘living’ on forever, so you can become god, yourself? Since your thoughts and superiority are naturally selected by chance, then you MUST exercise this superior power, before another intelligent monkey figures it out and uses it against you.

    This brain download thingy will make the one who controls it, the god of the machine that is our paltry meaningless existence. Boy, I wish I’d spent more time studying computer science, now I’ll never get to be god.

  • Darwin — in either case, the question is whether the material, directly observable object is all there is, or whether there could be something beyond that.

Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

Tuesday, August 3, AD 2010

The New York Times runs an article about how the national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to address concerns about shrinking membership as they celebrate 100 years of boy scouting in the US. The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978, with 2.8 million boys currently in the Scouts.

To judge from the commentariat at the Times, you would think this is entirely the result of the BSA remaining firm in their ban of gay scout leaders and statement that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with obligations in the Scout Oath.” Not to mention saying that boys who refuse to recite the Scout Oath because of its references to God and reverence may simply not have a place in the program. Commenters claiming to be Eagle Scouts line up one after another in the comments to announce that no son of theirs will ever be a member of the Scouts while it remains homophobic and theocratic.

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6 Responses to Scouting in a Fractured American Culture

  • After a year in scouts, I allowed my son to walk away. My girl is still in scouts. There are many, many factors involved. A lot of it is the parental leaders. The pool is small for those able to do it, and they are volunteers after all. Another factor is other activities. There is a lot more for children to do, and of course those activities are also run by adult volunteers. Then there are the not so good reasons like there being more entertainment available at home through electronics.

    I always find the political explanations somewhat entertaining. In neither scouting group was their a vast amount of ideological diversity. For a den we’re talking 8-12 children. Politics and political issues don’t come up all that often and were it ever to come up, whatever instruction the kid had from the parent would generally be respected. Most people when they are off the Internet don’t look for excuses to beat other people over the head.

  • My sons are currently in scouting. My oldest son is 12 and in Scouts. My 8yr old is in Cubscouts. I am a den leader for the Cubscouts. I have been a leader for 6 years and being that I have a 2 year old will probably end up being a leader for about 15 years. I have found that in Cubscouts the focus is learning morals and some responsibility but also to have alot of fun with friends in your den and Pack but also to foster fun within the family. Parents are a key component to the success of the Scouts. The more you involve the parents the better chance that the boys will remain in Scouts and the better chance that they will get more out of the program.

    My goal has always been to get the boys to have fun at the den meetings, pack meetings and at home with the family. I enjoy seeing the boys mature in there confidence and there relationships with other members of the Pack and especially with there family. For me there is nothing more satisfying then getting the Cubscouts into Boyscouts where they will fully mature and learn life skills that are not taught today in the culture in general.

    Along with the factors you talked about another factor contributing to the loss of members in Scouting is the idea of sacrifice. I think that a culture that loses its connection with Christianity loses the idea of sacrifice. I think sometimes People are a little selfish with there time. They seem to feel that it is there time and they don’t have to share it with anyone. Now this is a small percentage that I am talking about but just wanted to add to the things that are affecting attendace.

    Scouts is one of the greatest organizations for boys to be involved with. Of course that is second to the Church.

  • “The number of boy scouts has declined 42% since it’s peak in 1978….”

    Umm, there’s an even easier and more straightforward reason for this decline. The Baby Boom. The number of boys born between 1946 and 1964 accounts for the peak number in 1978.

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

  • Good point. Maybe simplier is more correct.

  • The population went through a sudden period of growth with the baby boom, but the population has continued to grow since that time. The absolute number of boys 8-18 is higher now than it was in 1978.

  • My husband is the scoutmaster of my son’s troop at our parish church. My son-15 is the oldest scout in the troop and hopefully will complete his Eagle project within the next year and a half. That being said, my son has told me repeatedly that it’s not “cool” to be in Scouts. He likes Scouts but doesn’t want it mentioned to anyone. I embarrassed him once by mentioning he was in Scouts to two girls he liked. In our troop, once the boys make Eagle or turn driving age, they drop out of the troop, leaving the troop pretty leaderless(as the troop is supposed to be self-led. we do have adult volunteers). Being a clean cut Scout is no longer appealing to a lot of teenage boys.

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God

Tuesday, February 9, AD 2010

The title of this article almost sounds surreal. At first one could be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of low budget End Times movie seen on some local cable access channel. However, the information contained within this article is real, fortunately, as believers and specifically those of us who are Catholic we know that Jesus promised that His Church would not fall despite the attempts of those working for the evil one. God is the truth and God is love, but the mere fact that He is both has caused many rebellions against him literally from day one. Sadly, those who often claim to be the smartest act the most childish, by at first claiming God doesn’t exist and then claiming if He does exist, He doesn’t make sense at least to them. This article will look at this behavior from the world’s earliest moments, but will mainly focus on what has happened in the last few years, right up until this very moment.

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If You Want The Political Left To Run Governments, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters)

Monday, January 25, AD 2010

There is a undercurrent in American society that somehow believes that if the mafia ran things, the country would be better off. There was one city (Newark, New Jersey) where the mafia once controlled much of the city. When their grip on power was done, the city was in tatters. The same could be said for liberals running religion.

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A Perfect Post

Wednesday, December 9, AD 2009

Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:

[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.

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Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

Monday, December 7, AD 2009

17 Responses to Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

  • Leftist Catholics rightly identify Christ as the savior of human beings, body and soul alike. What they fail to understand is the consequences of Original Sin for the body, and the limitations on human life imposed by sin and finitude. They wrongly think that if everyone on Earth was a Saint, there would be no more suffering. Leftist Catholics think that there are no limits to human progress, which is to say they are very modern.

  • Some Leftist Catholics remind me of the Zealots who thought to bring about the Kingdom of God through the sword. A communist dictatorship though is a funny sort of Kingdom of God.

  • Such words for the “Catholic Left.” Then what is wrong with the “Catholic Right,” I wonder? Or does the “Right” comprise of the Catholics who “get it?”

  • Selective interpretation of the social teaching of the Church… which ultimately stems from liberalism as Leo XIII and Pius XI understood it.

  • In regard to the Catholic Right Eric, I can’t think of a comparable attempt by Catholic conservatives to trojan horse a body of doctrine completely inimical to Catholicism into the Church as has been the ongoing effort of some Catholics on the Left to baptize Marx. The nearest parallel I can think of predates the French Revolution with the unfortunate throne and altar doctrine of many clerics, although at least they could make the argument that the states they sought to wed the Church with were not anti-Catholic. In the case of Marxism, its overwhelming anti-Christian praxis should have innoculated Catholics from it without the necessity of papal intervention, but such was not the case.

  • Tito,

    No. 🙂

  • I think there’s a pretty strong throne and altar doctrine on the Catholic Right today, at least in the U.S., where the throne takes the form of military power.

    A case could also be made for a “‘Shut up, your Excellencies,’ he explained” doctrine, which denigrates the role of the bishops, individually and especially collectively, in developing social policies.

  • I read the Pope’s document carefully.

    Now I’m perplexed:

    1. Exactly what is objectionable in what he said?

    2. Has the Pope not condemned, in this very document, the arms buildup and the disgrace of military solutions? He only appears as a right winger if you’re looking from the vantage point of an extreme left wing ideologue.

    Maybe a few here ought to put down their Che Guevara coffee mugs read it again. The Holy Father is spot on.

    It is simply a fact of history that collectivist movements have enslaved the very people they promised to liberate.

    I am frankly a little more than concerned at the prideful inability of many leftists to acknowledge this fact of history, nay, the desire to whitewash this disgrace from history.

  • Who here is attacking the Pope?

  • MI,

    They participated and got deeply involved with Marxist governments. Dissidents such as Jesuit “Father” Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua who was involved with the Communist government then.

  • I’m always amused when people, especially conservatives who decry the tactic in others, appoint themselves the experts of All Things Liberal.

    I don’t think that Acts 4:32 is a bad things for which to strive. Certainly better than cuddling up to Pinochet or Cheney.

  • I’d rather cuddle up to Cheney than Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin any day of the week.

  • The early Christians quickly abandoned common ownership as completely unworkable Todd. Outside of monasteries and convents it has only been revived by Christians for short periods, usually with dire results. The Pilgrims tried it, and almost starved to death. William Bradford, the governor of the colony relates what happened next:

    “All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

    The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

  • Michael I.,

    Donald will delete it at his leisure.

    For the time being I’m just amusing myself by reading your comments, thanks!

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 6, AD 2009

 

 

Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

reagan pope john paul ii

1. Today is the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin WallPope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all played pivotal roles in bringing down Communism and discredited all socialistic and atheistic systems the world over.  Pope John Paul II played the most important role of the three, providing the moral backbone that is needed when confronting these manifestations of evil.

Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, and Vince Haley wrote a timely article concerning this important anniversary titled The Victory of the Cross: How spiritual renewal helped bring down the Berlin Wall.  For this article click here.

2. Dave Hartline has already posted three articles here with us.  His latest is titled, Following the 2009 Election Results which Way is the Tide Turning toward Truth or Relativism?

For the article click here.

For all of Dave Hartline’s articles on The American Catholic click here.

3. Catholic Culture has changed their look again.  Unlike the last time I mentioned their new look, I have to say it is a major improvement.  It’s much easier to find Diogenes of Off the Record (under Commentary).  Blue has replaced what I think was the color pink as it’s primary color and the fonts are much stronger.

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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