The most disturbing thing about this video is that, even though it’s made by The Thinking Atheist, I can imagine it being shown in a church to the approval of the congregation.
Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more stories in the news and on blogs about religious people speaking out on quite a few topics… from a religious standpoint. Whether the topic is competing religions, education, church-state separation, politics, science, or human rights, it seems that religious folks, be they Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, or some offshoot, seem to feel that they have sole access to universal truths and anyone who disagrees with them is immoral, unpatriotic, or just plain evil.
Some Christians in the United States are frequently lamenting how they are persecuted… how their religious rights are being curtailed… how their freedom to worship is being stripped away… how their religion is prohibited in any public setting. Many Muslims seem to spew outrage over words and pictures they feel disrespect their beliefs… over opposition to their teachings… over perceived persecution or unfair treatment.
Yet, at the same time, these religious people will attempt to push their beliefs into public policy, into education, into government… all the while seemingly completely unaware of their own hypocrisy; not seeing how their adamant proclamations of superiority are exactly the same as the adamant proclamations of competing religious claims.
Why is that? How is it that some religious people seem completely closed off to the very notion that there are competing ideologies? How is it that some religious people will dismiss conflicting ideological claims without even the passing wonder if their own claims could just as easily be dismissed? How is it that one argument can be discarded as absurd when referring to one religion but that same argument can be held in high regard when referring to another? Why does religion seem to generate so much unrest… so much controversy… so much intolerance?
I’ve created a partial list of ideas with my interpretation of each one. It is by no means complete, nor is it absolute. Based on what I’ve seen, heard, read, and experienced, this is simply my understanding about some of the consequences of religious teachings and religious beliefs. Feel free to correct, debate, or add to any and all of my points.
This is one of the most pervasive problems with religions, in my opinion, and it’s always been a problem. If there is a phenomenon that isn’t understood… for which science has no current answer… the religious answer is “God did it.” Case closed. From the origin of the universe to the intricacies of biological development, “God did it” is a common refrain heard from religious proponents.
It’s not a real answer. It’s the religious way of saying, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” By attributing the cause to an invisible, all-powerful, undetectable entity, religion absolves its adherents from any investigative work… from any intellectual responsibility… from any curiosity.
Probably every deistic religion teaches its adherents to not question authority, whether that authority be a minister, the bible, the Pope, or God. The bible is true. The Qur’an is true. The Book of Mormon is true. L. Ron Hubbard’s missives about Xenu are true (for the right price, anyway). All these religions make absolute claims on the truth. If these claims are questioned, the questioner is branded a heretic… a non-believer… an enemy of God. Obviously, some religions are more strict about this than others, but the truth claims are still the same.
Question God’s motives when hundreds die in an earthquake and the likely answer is something about how He works in mysterious ways… that He has a plan… that all suffering is for a reason. In other words, it’s God’s will. Don’t question it. The Catholic concept of Papal Infallibility is a perfect example of discouraging the questioning of authority. Both Christian and Muslim religions claim that their holy books are the Word of God. In the case of the Qur’an, the claim is that the words (in their original Arabic) are the exact transcription of Allah’s words to Muhammad. If ever there was a demand to not question authority, that’s it.
The problem is that questioning authority is, in my opinion, necessary for a healthy, honest society… especially when the authority figure is making claims of a questionable nature. That doesn’t mean that every time an authority figures makes a statement, he should be challenged. Questioning the skydiving instructor when he says to pull the cord to open the chute probably isn’t prudent. Questioning the priest who says that 10% of your income has to go to the church because God needs your money… that’s a different matter.
When questioned about the existence of God, a common religious response is something like, “God is all around you” or “God is self-evident.” If pressed further on the issue, the responses become more like, “Just look how beautiful the trees are. That can only be God’s work.”
Another response about claims of Jesus’ divinity is the “Lord, Liar or Lunatic” argument (“Lewis’s Trilemma” originally popularized by C. S. Lewis). Logically, it’s flawed, yet I’ve heard it used multiple times in religious discussions that I’ve had in the past year… with complete sincerity.
These are just two examples of how religion twists the ideas of logic and evidence. “Trees are beautiful” is not evidence. Lewis’s Trilemma is not logical. Most of the apologetic arguments for the existence of God have huge gaps in logic (ontological, cosmological, etc). The fact remains that no actual evidence exists to support the existence of God, yet defenders of religious faith will present heaps of what they claim is evidence… because they don’t seem to understand what evidence really is.
The fallback argument is, of course, that it’s just a matter of having faith… which is no evidence at all.
Narcissism and a self-righteous feeling of superiority are byproducts of any religion that claims to be the only true religion. Teaching adherents that they are special because they alone hold the truth and they alone will be saved by an all-powerful god and that they alone are holy in the eyes of that god is a surefire way to create a feeling of supremacy. Teaching that humans are a special creation of an omnipotent creator who watches over them with love and mercy is a surefire way to generate strong feelings of narcissism… especially if the creator is the “right” creator.
These feelings frequently manifest themselves in politics, where religious politicians cry about being persecuted, all the while attempting to gain special privilege for their own religion of choice despite the unconstitutionality of their end goal. Another good example is Christians claiming that the United States is a “Christian nation” because they feel that their beliefs are somehow special… true as opposed to those other religions… solely worthy of influencing government policies (again, despite the Constitution)… even necessary for the United States to succeed. It’s completely false, but they cling to it because “they’re special.”
The narcissism and feeling of superiority create, maintain, and worsen divisions among people of differing beliefs. “I’m better than you” doesn’t make for strong relationships.
Hand in hand with the previous point is the point that religion advocates intolerance… partly because of the previous point, but also because some religious tenants explicitly promote intolerance. Islam makes the news on a regular basis for this, but Christianity is no slouch, either. From homosexuality to sexism to disbelief, religions have forbidden people for breaking the (ever changing) rules and have condemned, damned, and killed people for doing so. And even though we don’t live in medieval times, most religions still do at least some of those things.
The nature of the major holy books is that they can be read, interpreted, and cherry-picked to back up almost any position imaginable… not just love and kindness, but also slavery, racism, pedophilia, bigotry, discrimination, murder, genocide, and a host of other positions that, without the holy books, would be not only morally reprehensible, but virtually unthinkable (they’re still morally reprehensible, but sadly, all too thinkable). If a religion’s tenants say that unbelievers should be killed or that people who don’t follow the rules will be tortured for all eternity or that women are inferior or that homosexuals are abominations, it doesn’t leave much room for tolerance and kindness.
Those religious people who are tolerant and loving cannot espouse all the teachings of their religion. They must, in order to maintain their faith, cherry pick certain parts of the bible and follow certain parts of the church’s teachings while rationalizing away other parts or ignoring them altogether. Taking religious teachings as a whole would put them in an untenable position.
I’ve written about this before but it bears repeating… often. Religion, particularly versions of Christianity, certainly do not promote moral behavior. Sure, Christianity offers the whole “carrot and burning-in-hell-for-eternity stick” scenario for encouraging good behavior (which is morally questionable on its own), but based on Christian principles, you can ignore the carrot for as long as you like and simply ask for forgiveness later… with no consequences. That’s about as far as you can get from encouraging moral behavior… to the point of implicitly condoning immoral behavior.
“Go ahead and do your worst,” Christianity says. “Just ask for forgiveness and place you faith in Jesus later and all will be well.”
Of course, if you don’t ask for forgiveness and place your faith in Jesus, then you get the fiery pit… forever. Interestingly enough, Islam doesn’t teach eternal punishment. There’s a “Hell” if you will, but it’s not eternal. It seems that, in this particular case, Islam is a much more merciful religion than Christianity. In Islam, simply asking for forgiveness doesn’t get you out of the punishment, either, so it lacks Christianity’s flaw in that regard. Of course, that doesn’t free it from its own promotion of immorality, including debasing women and pedophilia.
Religious rules can frequently be irrelevant or immoral in their own ways as well, and if you add multiple interpretations and cherry-picking to the mix, things get even more muddied. Certainly, you can dig out some gems of wisdom and kindness from religious doctrine, but you have to work through mountains of rubbish to find them.
Religion promotes inaction by encouraging prayer. It’s as simple as that. Other than possibly creating a calming effect on the person praying, prayer does nothing. “Prayer,” as the saying goes, “is the best way to do nothing and still think you’re helping”… or “The hard work of one does more than the prayers of millions”… or “Nothing fails like prayer.”
Sometimes bumper sticker wisdom says it all.
Say what you will about the debate on whether religion and science are compatible, the main opponents to scientific research are bible-thumping members of fundamentalist religions. They will deny scientific data, no matter how overwhelming, if it conflicts with their ancient dogma or challenges their ideological loyalties. From the time of Galileo to present day arguments about evolution and global warming an stem cell research, the people on the front lines of denialism are almost exclusively hyper religious.
Evolution versus creationism is probably one of the most publicized debates in this regard. The creationists want their mythology taught in science classes even though it isn’t science by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve tried to couch it in scientific language, calling it “Intelligent Design,” but it’s no more scientific with it’s fancy name. They reject factual data about the age of the universe, the age of the Earth, the age of fossils, the process of evolution, the effects of natural selection, and the unequivocal lineage of humans from ape-like ancestors.
Some of that can be credited toward a belief in a 6,000 year old Earth, but much can be credited to the narcissism addressed earlier. How can a religious believer admit that humans are just the most recent product of the evolutionary process and not a special creation of a loving, caring, all-knowing god? If the holy books are supposed to be true, contradictory facts must be eliminated… either by ignoring them or attempting to discredit them.
Religion is a self-perpetuating hindrance to honest, ethical, and yes, moral living. Despite a religious influence, many people still maintain just such a life… by compartmentalizing their beliefs, cherry-picking which doctrines to follow (“cafeteria Christians”), or simply ignoring doctrines altogether in favor of simply calling themselves “spiritual.” Those who lead a good and moral life do so not because of religious teachings, but because of an innate sense of morality combined with societal norms defining appropriate behavior.
Religion clouds the issue of morality… and many other issues. The disadvantages far outweigh the benefits. The promotion of perpetual ignorance is reason enough for religion to be abandoned. Sadly, that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. Religion doesn’t need the truth. It needs followers.
As Nietzsche said, “Faith [is] not wanting to know what is true.”
Sometimes bumper sticker wisdom says it all.
This story is horrific. In the year 2010 we still have people accusing others of witchcraft and satanic possession. It was bad enough 300 years ago when people were accused of witchcraft in Salem, Ma. but at least the people involved were adults. Now there is a Nigerian woman named Helen Ukpabio who suggests that Satan likes to posses young children. Some of the children that have been “outed” have actually been burned, splashed with acid or, if they are fortunate enough, only abandoned. Remember, the year is 2010!
An HBO documentary will be airing tonight called, “Saving Africaâ€™s Witch Children.” It follows the horrible story of these criminally and religiously abused children. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we live in the current century.
One of the biggest reasons that I dislike religion is because it is considered infallible and therefore can not be questioned. There are so many reasons to dislike religion from the hypocrisy of those in leadership, silly superstitious beliefs, etc. Of all the things to dislike, I think it is the unquestioning nature of religion I hate the most. Don’t question the priest, don’t question the Imam, don’t question the bible. Everywhere you turn are "answers" but no questions. This leads me to the title of this article.
I received this comment recently on an article I wrote:
youâ€™re ignorant. go to church you sick pig. find god in your life, maybe then youâ€™ll have different views."
Oh…I’m sure I’d have different views alright. I wanted to start this article with the obvious comments:
…but I didn’t want to take the easy road, so I’m not going to make any of those comments, *ahem*.
You, CCB, are the reason this website exists. Well, maybe not "you" specifically but people like you. When you suggest I go to church, which one should it be? Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or is any God ok, as long as there is one in my life? I have a sneaking suspicion that two out of those three Gods would not be on your approved God list. Your unquestioning and insulting nature is what fuels this site and those like it. You may not like my style of sarcastic humor but you can’t argue with the facts of the article you commented about.
The Pope was involved with a cover-up of child rape. The Pope did ignore rape allegations. The Vatican will not accept responsibility for it’s lack of oversight of priests. These are facts. You may not like them but they are true.
So, CCB (if that is your real name… and if it is, it’s a weird name) thanks for reading and keep the insightful comments coming.
The concept of “scapegoating” dates back to a biblical age. The theory was that a community could load all of their problems on the back of some hapless goat and exile it into the desert, effectively excising the troubles of the community. Sometimes I pine for the good ‘ole days. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could load up a goat with the Pat Robertsons of the world? Unfortunately this idea didn’t work then and it won’t work now, but that hasn’t stopped the Vatican.
Some of you may be saying, “Geesh, Craig what’s with all the Catholic articles lately?”. I’ll tell you. I think Catholicism is and should be on the ropes. The fact that NO charges of any kind have been brought against any member of leadership within the Vatican is absurd. It is now well documented that charges of rape were well known within the Catholic church for decades, it is also well documented that a coordinated cover up was in place to keep the proper authorities in the dark and that the current Pope was intimately involved with sex abuse policy making before becoming the church’s moral compass and God’s inspired messenger. Now back to Catholic scapegoating…
There seems to be a floodÂ of news articles from people looking to “solve” the mystery of , “how this could have happened” Here are two articles from the same magazine. April 12, Newsweek; one of the featured articles is “What Went Wrong”, by George Weigel.Â In the article Mr. Weigel promotes the theory that the church doctrine of celibacy led to the current Catholic crisis. April 12, Newsweek; another featured article is “A Woman’s Place Is In The Church”, by Lisa Miller. In this article Ms. Miller, in no uncertain terms, blames the sexual abuse scandal on the utter lack of femaile involvement within the church. The sexual abuse scandal rocking the Catholic church is really not that hard to figure out. It has NOTHING to do with celibacy and NOTHING to do with a lack of female involvement.
How many times have we heard the stories of sexual abuse taking place from witin a family or by a close friend of the family. How many times has the “new boyfriend” or “favorite uncle” been the perpetrator of such a vile act? Were they celibate? I don’t remember hearing about the rash of “celibacy rapes”, do you? Were any of these “boyfriends” or “uncles” married? One of the most important traits that seperates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is that we fornicate for fun, not just for procreation. That means we CAN control our libidos. The notion that, “well the priest wasn’t gettin’ any, so he raped some kids” is preposterous. Entering the priesthood is a voluntary act, period. If you find that you can’t handle a celibate lifestyle, resign from the priesthood, don’t rape children. Sorry, Mr. Weigel but your postulate has more holes in it than a thurible! (Catholic incense burner…I had to look it up).
As for Ms. Miller’s claim, that a lack of female influence is to blame, I disagree. While the Catholic church is world renown, second only to the Islamic faith, for it’s misogynistic viewpoints, it’s not the lack of women that caused men to rape children. It is just silly to suggest that over the last four decades of child raping within the Catholic priesthood, not one woman was aware and in a position to blow a whistle. No Nun? No church secretary? No one? Let’s not forget, this type of abuse came to light when adults came forward about what happened to them as children. It was in the early 2000’s when the stories and lawsuits began to emerge. Let’s not also forget that it is with a wry smile and a laugh that adult products of a Catholic education often tell stories about abusive Nuns (females) in school. You know, “the Nun used to wrap my knuckles with a ruler” routine, and I’ve heard worse. Females, while not as “powerful” as their male superiors,Â were every bit as much into corporal punishment and suffering for school children back in “the day”.
Now to my postulate for the current sexual abuse scandal assailing the Vatican. When asked, why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied, ” ’cause that’s where the money is”. Sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one. Why did so many pedophiles become Catholic Priests, ’cause that’s where the kids were. Think about it. If you’re a pedophile, what more idealic a place to work than where you have regular unchallenged access to children under the guise of spirituality. In a system like Catholicism, designed to engender guilt at every turn, what better place to make children fearful of coming forward about being raped by the very person they perceive to be the gate keeper to eternal happiness?Â Rule number one is nobody talks about rape. Rule number two is nobody talks about rape.
The priesthood served as an ideal hunting ground for pedophiles. Trust, love and divinity. All the ingredients for the pefect serial pedophile.
Catholicism became a (dare I use the word) victim of it’s own dogmatic heirarchy. Had the Vatican truly cared about the children, there would have been dismissals, criminal charges and an outpouring of concern, when these revelations came to light.
Thousands of children worldwide have been raped by their Catholic spiritual caregivers. I’m curious how many times these children prayed to God, asking him to stop their local priest from molesting them? I’m more curious to know how many times God actually did. I guess we should be thankful to God. We all “know” he answers prayers. Just think of how many more rapes would have taken place if God hadn’t stepped in toÂ stop his shepards from raping the youngÂ sheep within his fold! Thanks God.
In March, the Pope wrote an open letter to the country of Ireland. I have posted a copy of the letter and his follow up prayer. Please note I have added additional comments in parenthesis! The comments in parenthesis are what I can only imagine the Pope was really thinking when he wrote this garbage. Belt up. This letter is long and it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
OF THE HOLY FATHER
POPE BENEDICT XVI
TO THE CATHOLICS OF IRELAND
1. Dear Brothers and Sisters (CUSTOMERS) of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light (A FEW DECADES AGO) regarding the abuse (RAPE) of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland , particularly by priests and religious. (I WAS SO DISTURBED, I ORDERED PRIESTS TO BE MOVED FROM PARISH TO PARISH, ALWAYS STAYING ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE FUZZ) I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them. (NOT TO MENTION THE COVER UPS AND DENIALS FLOODING OUT OF THE VATICAN AT MY DIRECTION)
As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation. (AND JUST LIKE IN THE PAST, I HOPE THEY AVOIDED THE PROPER AUTHORITIES AND SWEPT THINGS NEATLY UNDER THE CLOSEST RUG, LIKE THEY WERE INSTRUCTED TO DO BY ME, BEFORE I GOT TO WEAR THE RING!) Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made (CHIEFLY, THEY RAPED KIDS) and lessons learned (DON’T RAPE ANY KIDS), and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place (WE’LL STOP RAPING KIDS). Our discussions were frank and constructive. (UNLIKE PAST DISCUSSIONS WE HAVE HAD WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS) I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse (RAPE) of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.
2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country (AGAIN, I ORDERED YOU NOT TO COOPERATE WITH AUTHORITIESâ€¦MY BAD), I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.
It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse (RAPE) is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. (YEAH, EVERYONE’S DOING IT) Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse (RAPE) that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. (HONESTY NEVER HURTS EITHER) No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. (THIS IS GONNA COST US) Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of Godâ€™s grace.
At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others (BUT NOT THE COPS, WE CLEAR ON THIS? NO FIVE O’S!) the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.
As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember â€œthe rock from which you were hewnâ€ (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ. (THE GIG IS UP PADRES. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE KIDS)
3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like Saint Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of medieval monastic culture. The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith (AND TOTALLY SCREWED UP BY US) found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe. (DAMN, WE HAD THE GOD MARKET CORNERED) Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.
From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances. Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel. After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century. The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world. They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, (WAY TO BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY FOLKS) but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.
In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone â€“ a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle â€“ who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.
4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting peopleâ€™s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. (IN OTHER WORDS, WE DIDN’T START RAPING KIDS UNTIL SOCIETY’S MORALITY BEGAN TO BREAKDOWN) All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. (YEAH, THAT’S IT! IT WAS YOUR FAULT IN THE SECULAR WORLD THAT CATHOLIC PRIESTS STARTED GETTING CAUGHT MOLESTING THE KIDS) Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. (HMMMâ€¦"AVOIDED PENAL APPROACHES"? THAT’S RIGHT, WE AVOIDED THE LAW AT ALL COSTS! AND BY "CANONICALLY IRREGULAR SITUATIONS", I AM OF COURSE REFERRING TO THE RAPE OF SMALL CHILDRENâ€¦JUST SO WE’RE CLEAR HERE.) It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings. (SEE, WHEN WE STARTED RAPING KIDS, FOLKS STARTED THINKING LESS OF US. WEIRD, HUH?)
Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life (ALLOWING PEDOPHILES TO JOIN UP); insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates (ALLOWING PEDOPHILES TO JOIN UP AND THEN IGNORING THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS); a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. (OR "APPLYING" THESE PEDOPHILES â€¦TO THE COPS!) Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing. (AND BY URGENT ACTION I MEAN, WHEN WE GET FOUND OUT!)
5. On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. (AND ON MANY MORE OCCASIONS I HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO, ‘CAUSE TAKING RESPONSIBILITY MIGHT NOT LOOK TOO HOT IN COURT) I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, â€œto establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected,(*WINK*, *WINK*) and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimesâ€ (Address to the Bishops of Ireland, 28 October 2006).
With this Letter, I wish to exhort all of you, as Godâ€™s people in Ireland, to reflect on the wounds inflicted on Christâ€™s body, the sometimes painful remedies needed to bind and heal them, and the need for unity, charity and mutual support in the long-term process of restoration and ecclesial renewal. I now turn to you with words that come from my heart, and I wish to speak to each of you individually and to all of you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
6. To the victims of abuse and their families
You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. (SORRY. WELL KINDA’. …WILLING TO HAPPILY PAY OUT MILLIONS IN REPARATIONSâ€¦ DON’T PUSH IT) I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. (SO LET’S JUST KEEP THIS BETWEEN US, HUH?) Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. (AND INTELLIGENCE INSULTED) Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. (LIKE ME, THE POPE) Those of you who were abused (RAPED) in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. (THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE NOW. YEARS AGO WHEN I KNEW IT WAS HAPPENING, I WAS TO BUSY SHUFFLING PEDOPHILE PRIESTS AROUND TO APOLOGIZE) At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. (BE A MENCHE, WOULD YA’ ?) It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you (WITHOUT THE RAPE), he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christâ€™s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love (SO IF YOU COULD JUST DROP IT AND TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM, I’D APPRECIATE IT. REMEMBER YOU’RE JUST LIKE CHRIST AND STUFFâ€¦ OK?) â€“ even in the darkest and most hopeless situations â€“ to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.
Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all Godâ€™s children (EXCEPT FOR WHEN IT HITS THE VATICAN IN THE PURSE) , I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church â€“ a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity â€“ you will come to rediscover Christâ€™s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace. (ALTHOUGH, I’M SURE SOME OF YOU ARE GONNA’ WANT CASH DAMMIT!)
7. To priests and religious who have abused (RAPED) children (STOP RAPING KIDS GODAMMIT!)
You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. (WE’LL SEE WHAT WE CAN DO TO KEEP YOU OUT OF COURT, THOUGH) You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. (NICE GOING, NOW YOU’RE MAKING JESUS LOOK BAD) Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church (MORE TO THE POINT) and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.
I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. (JUST DON’T TALK TO ANY COPS! THAT’S WHAT OUR ATTORNEYS ARE FOR) Sincere repentance opens the door to Godâ€™s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christâ€™s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. (LIKE RAPING KIDS AND STUFF) At the same time, Godâ€™s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. (UNLESS IT’S THE POLICE YOU’RE TALKING TO) Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, (AND BY SUBMIT I MEAN MUM’S THE WORD. IXNAY ON THE ALKTAY) but do not despair of Godâ€™s mercy.
8. To parents
You have been deeply shocked to learn of the terrible things that took place in what ought to be the safest and most secure environment of all. In todayâ€™s world it is not easy to build a home and to bring up children.(PARTICULARLY WHEN PRIEST STOP BY FOR A VISIT AND RAPE THE KIDS) They deserve to grow up in security, loved and cherished, with a strong sense of their identity and worth. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person, to be inspired by the truth of our Catholic faith and to learn ways of behaving and acting that lead to healthy self-esteem and lasting happiness. This noble but demanding task is entrusted in the first place to you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments. As you carry out your vital responsibilities, be assured that I remain close to you and I offer you the support of my prayers. (BUT IF IT’S CASH YOU’RE LOOKING FORâ€¦SEE YOU IN COURT SUCKER!)
9. To the children and young people of Ireland
I wish to offer you a particular word of encouragement. Your experience of the Church is very different from that of your parents and grandparents. The world has changed greatly since they were your age. (YEAH BACK THEN WHEN PRIESTS RAPED YOUR PARENTS, KIDS HAD ENOUGH CATHOLIC GUILT AND FEAR TO KEEP QUIET. AHHH THE GOOD ‘OLE DAYS) Yet all people, in every generation, are called to travel the same path through life, whatever their circumstances may be. We are all scandalized by the sins and failures of some of the Church’s members, particularly those who were chosen especially to guide and serve young people. (INSTEAD OF RAPE THEM) But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). He loves you and he has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with him within the communion of his Church, for he will never betray your trust! (NOW POPES AND PRIESTS ON THE OTHER HAND, THAT’S A DIFFERENT STORY) He alone can satisfy your deepest longings and give your lives their fullest meaning by directing them to the service of others. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his goodness, and shelter the flame of faith in your heart. (JUST LIKE ALL THE CHILD RAPING PRIESTS DID. SEE HOW BELIEF IN JESUS HELPED THEM IN THEIR MOMENTS OF WEAKNESS) Together with your fellow Catholics in Ireland, I look to you to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to bring your much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved Church.
10. To the priests and religious of Ireland
All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned.(MOSTLY BECAUSE YOU FIND YOURSELF WILLINGLY A MEMEBR OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT WOULD COVER UP THE SYSTEMATIC RAPE OF CHILDREN) I am also aware that in some peopleâ€™s eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. (AGAIN,MOSTLY BECAUSE YOU FIND YOURSELF WILLINGLY A MEMBER OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT WOULD COVER UP THE SYSTEMATIC RAPE OF CHILDREN) At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of his Church and your confidence in the Gospel’s promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (TRUST ME, THERE’S A S@#T LOAD OF GRACE AROUND HERE) (cf. Rom 5:20).
I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors.(LIKEâ€¦UHâ€¦HMMâ€¦OK, ME FOR INSTANCE) Yet, it is essential that you cooperate closely with those in authority (AGAIN, IXNAY ON THE OOPERATIONCAY) and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective. Above all, I urge you to become ever more clearly men and women of prayer, courageously following the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation. In this way, the Church in Ireland will draw new life and vitality from your witness to the Lord’s redeeming power made visible in your lives.
11. To my brother bishops
It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, (I’LL BE GODAMMED IF I’M GOING TO TAKE THE HEAT ALONE HERE FELLAS) at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse.(RAPE) Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations.(FOR EXAMPLEâ€¦IGNORING THEM ALTOGETHER WAS PROBABLY NOT THE MOST PROACTIVE MEASURE TO TAKE) I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice.(THERE WERE SO MANY EXPERTS SUGGESTING THAT WE SHOULD IGNORE ALL THE "STORIES" OF PRIESTS RAPING KIDS) Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. (YEAH! NOT MINE AS POPE OR ANYTHING, JUST YOURS! NICE GOING JERKS) I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse (RAPE), continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters. It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.(FOR EXAMPLE, IT SHOULD NOW BE CONSIDERED "NOT" NORMAL TO RAPE KIDS AND HIDE THE TRUTH. IS EVERYBODY COOL WITH THAT?)
Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal. The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of Saint Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ (cf. Sermon 340, 1). I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock. In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests.(TELL ‘EM TO KNOCK OF THE RAPING, OK?) Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ (AND PUT OUT THE FLAMES OF THEIR LOVE FOR KIDS! JESUS, I’M DYING OUT HERE PEOPLE) and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.
The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Churchâ€™s life and mission. This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.
12. To all the faithful of Ireland
A young personâ€™s experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community. In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition.(IN OTHER WORDS, THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT PRIESTS RAPING THEM. CLEAR ENOUGH?) In our increasingly secularized society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church. In confronting the present crisis (YOU KNOW THE WHOLE PRIESTS RAPING KIDS THING) , measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: ( SO WHY EVEN BOTHER NOTIFYING THE PROPER AUTHORITIES,OK?) a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.
13. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is out of deep concern for all of you at this painful time in which the fragility of the human condition has been so starkly revealed that I have wished to offer these words of encouragement and support. I hope that you will receive them as a sign of my spiritual closeness and my confidence in your ability to respond to the challenges of the present hour by drawing renewed inspiration and strength from Irelandâ€™s noble traditions of fidelity to the Gospel, perseverance in the faith and steadfastness in the pursuit of holiness.In solidarity with all of you, I am praying earnestly that, by Godâ€™s grace, the wounds afflicting so many individuals and families may be healed and that the Church in Ireland may experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal. (OH GOD PLEASE, OH PLEASE, OH PLEASE DON’T FILE A LAWSUIT)
14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.
At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of Godâ€™s mercy and the Holy Spiritâ€™s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace. (I ALSO ENCOURAGE YOU NOT TO FILE LAWSUITS! LET’S DEAL WITH THIS INTERNALLY, WHAT DO YOU SAY BUDDY?)
Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.
I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of Godâ€™s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (I’M NOT SAYING THAT WE SHOULD START TELLING THE TRUTH NOW, I’M JUST SAYING IN THE "FUTURE" WE SHOULD TELL THE TRUTH) (cf. Jn 8:32).
Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, (I PRAYED FOR ANSWERS EVEN THOUGH GOD NEVER ANSWERED THE PRAYERS OF THE CHILDREN WHO WERE BEING RAPED BY MY PRIESTS) I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. (GAS UP THE POPE-MOBILE. THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS I’M GOING ON TOUR!) The details will be announced in due course.
I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church. (IN OTHER WORDS, REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE THERE! FUND RAISING! SO KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE KIDS!)
In this Year for Priests, (BECAUSE GOD KNOWS THEY’VE EARNED A SPECIALLY DEDICATED YEAR) I commend to you most particularly the figure of Saint John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood. â€œThe priestâ€, he wrote, â€œholds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods.â€ (OH, THEY ADMINISTERED THE GOODS ALRIGHT) The CurÃ© dâ€™Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: â€œA good shepherd, a pastor after Godâ€™s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.â€ Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.
I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organizing the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments.(‘CAUSE GOD KNOWS I DIDN’T DO S$@T TO PROTECT ANY CHILDREN) Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, (OK, MAYBE NOT SINCE IT FIRST BEGAN OVER THREE DECADES AGO BUT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS WE’VE BEEN SORTA’ INTERESTED IN THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN) the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it. While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow. (I ALMOST SAID THAT WITHOUT LAUGHINGâ€¦SERIOUSLY)
I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalized and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church. As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you (JUST LIKE SHE DID WHILE YOU WERE BEING RAPED. SHE’S NOT TOO SWIFT ON THE WHOLE "PROTECTION" THING) to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen. With great affection and unswerving confidence in Godâ€™s promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.
From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Prayer for the Church in Ireland
God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.
Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.
May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.
To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.
(WHEWâ€¦WE ALL GOOD NOW? GREAT, I ‘GOTTA GET BACK TO BANNING CONDOMS IN AFRICA! )
For weeks now, the Pope has continued his long established policy of ignoring the allegations of rape being perpetrated on children by his cadre of priests. This is not only astounding for the obvious moral hypocrisy but also because the church has been through this before. The Catholic church dealt with all of these allegations years ago in the United States. Their policy of avoidance and subterfuge didn’t work then. What made them think it would work for this round of child rape charges that are originating from Europe?
Didn’t God give Moses a list of suggestions that we should try to live by? Hmmm… I think one had to do with baring false witness or something, you know, lying. You may be asking yourself, “why doesn’t the church just accept responsibility and apologize?”
It is sadly ironic that a church that bases its foundations on the teachings of Jesus Christ should be making rudimentary moral decisions based on economics. Remember, Jesus was alleged to be a man of the people who held the meek and impoverished in his favor. The meekest of Jesus’ flock, of course, being the children! The Pope has chosen to ignore and deny any opportunity for justice or protection from the very ones that Jesus loved the most. Remember, Pope Ratzinger knew for years that children were being raped and, instead of helping to bring the guilty under his charge to justice, he just moved them to a fresh and unsuspecting hunting ground. How many children could have been psychologically saved if Ratzinger had followed his “savior’s” example. In stark contrast, Ratzinger chose to be his brother’s keeper . And by brother’s keeper, I mean keeping his brothers out of prison.
All of this because he knew, and rightfully so, that lawsuits would start cropping up all over the place. In the end it comes down to money.
The Catholic church, with its ornately robed, gold jewel be-speckled leaders, and it’s opulent architecture should have learned one lesson long ago from Jesus. The love of money is the root of all evil.
A local church recently changed its sign to read:
Begin to weave and God will provide you with the thread.
I’ve heard a similar statement made by Christians trying to "convert" those of different religious persuasions, but it goes something like, "Just have faith in Jesus and He will show Himself to you." This isn’t something that is used only by fundamentalists or TV evangelists. I’ve heard it from far more moderate sects.
The problem, of course, is that it’s a "cart before the horse" sort of thing. The request is for someone to reach a conclusion before seeing any evidence… just have faith in Jesus (the conclusion) and He will show Himself to you (the evidence).
Faith, of course, in a religious context, is belief that is not based on evidence, so the evidence is something that is somewhat irrelevant here, not just because you’re supposed to get to the conclusion without it, but also because, in this case, it’s non-existent (before or after your application of faith). Jesus doesn’t appear and play a game of Frisbee with people and visions, hearing voices, and Jesus pareidolia don’t really qualify as "appearing."
Requesting evidence for religious claims is something that, for some reason, tends to offend a lot of fundamentalists. Not all of them, of course, but enough that it makes them seem a bit disingenuous. If someone makes a claim (Jesus was born of a virgin… Jesus performed miracles… Jesus rose from the dead… Jesus is God… God is real) without providing supporting evidence, he has no justification for being upset that his claims are dismissed. This, in general, is a huge failure of theists (of any denomination) and is, perhaps, the reason that "faith" is placed in a position of such high regard.
With no evidence to back them up, all they have is faith.
Ok, Ok… I know. You’re saying this time you’ve lost it. Hear me out. The theme of many of the articles that I have written has been that religion is most certainly a man made creation. I believe the evidence in biblical text, for me at least, is clear. The Christian God is a flawed God, particularly in the Old Testament. As I began thinking about how man went about to create a God, IÂ tried to think about how modern day fictional writers would “create” a God. Star Trek came to mind. There are many episodes of the original Star Trek that dealt with God or God-like beings. I think it’s interesting as we look at some of these episodes, how man chose to portray a modernÂ interpretation of what a God-like entityÂ might be like.
Chronologically the first episode to portray a “God” was titled, Where No Man Has Gone Before. In short, a crewman on the Enterprise is the victim of an energy field that grants him exponentially stronger telepathic and telekinetic powers as the hours go by. After the accident he grows increasing intolerant of mankind’s comparative weakness. He begins to consider himself a God andÂ many of his human foibles become accentuated by his new found powers. He begins to exhibit the same traits as many of those exhibited by the God of the old testament. He becomes, arrogant, cruel and tormenting. Kirk eventually “takes care of business” before his crewman’s abilities continue to grow beyond their ability to contain him. In this episode mankind is far too immature to deal with supernatural powers of this magnitude.
Interestingly, the beings in the next two episodes evolved into their powers over millions of years. The Metrons (Arena) Â and the Organians (Errand of Mercy)Â were powerful beings who used their abilities to bring peace and end violence. With their powers they found there was no reason for the petty behavior they were at one time capable of. They had evolved beyond the need for vengeance or wrathful behavior, a lesson the Christian God never seemed to learn (particularly in the Old Testament).
Star Trek is also full of powerful beings that are not so nice, just like the Bible.
Wouldn’t a real God, logically act more like a being who is mature and peaceful? If God is all knowing and all powerful what would be the point ofÂ putting people through sickness, infant death, war, pestilence, plague, blight, starvation, etc. I know, we shouldn’t ask what God’s purpose is right? Well… why? Why should it be considered impertinent to ask? Â Why would God have given us brains if we were meant not to use them for problem solving?
Science fiction writers come in all shapes and sizes. Some like to write about mean spirited supernatural beings and some write about gentle and loving supernatural beings. That describes the writers of Star Trek, the Old Testament and the New Testament. All three works of fiction.
I just read this post by vjack on Atheist Revolution and agree wholeheartedly with his sentiment, so I thought I’d pass it along. He writes concerning the labels we use to define ourselves, specifically relating to atheism.
A choice quote:
And how dare any religious person give me the load of crap about “How can you be an atheist? I can’t imagine going through life not believing in anything.” I believe in plenty of things.
As do I. As do I.