ReligiON, ReligiOFF

The phenomenon of online-misery can be achieved by:

a) Reading the news.
b) Caring about the news.
c) Trolling Planned Parenthood’s Facebook for 2 or 3 minutes (can we have a day for that? (International Rick Roll Planned Parenthood Day?))

But do not despair! There is one pasture in the waste land, one myrrh-scented site guaranteed to lift the spirit back to the transcendent. I speaketh, of courseth, of r/atheism.

For those of you normal, healthy people unaware of the world of Reddit, I’ll make r/atheism simple for you — it’s where my atheist brothers and sisters post their really great ideas, observations, memes, and polemics. Like this:

And I have never left the site a sadder man. Because — and almost without fail — every post is either:

a) Obliviously and embarrassingly wrong, in which case much joyful correcting can be made.
b) Blisteringly right, in which case everything the Church has been saying is wrong with modern Christianity is vindicated.
c) Hilariously cliched, which lends itself to ecstasy of mockage, mimicry and spontaneous singing. (Oooooh, that freedom of religioooonnn means freedom from religiiooonn! ladadadaday!)

Thus, to share with you my joy, I’ve decided to begin sharing the Best of the Internet Atheists, may they live long, prosper, and bear much fruit. Here’s my choice for today:

(In case you’re wondering, I didn’t cunningly make that myself.) Because, as you know, religion is the only reason we don’t have crowded air traffic systems! And if it wasn’t for Jesus our skyscrapers would be taller! And the Star Wars universe would exist! And the sky would be that sexy yellow! That darn Catholic Church was too busy torturing scientists to establish the university system, or to create the Scientific Method, or — oh, wait.

That’s right, the Church did those things.

It hurts to even mutter the heresy, but Science didn’t spring forth from Richard Dawkins’ ass. Science as a discipline was developed in the High Middle Ages, in the Universities established by the Very Mean Roman Catholic Church. Robert Grosseteste — the bishop of Lincoln — is the first man credited with formalizing the Scientific Method, under the concept of “composition and resolution” using Christian, Islamic and Aristotelean texts. His ideas were translated into the Scientific Method we know (and hopefully love) today by Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar who used terms like “observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and independent verification” for the first time.

Sound like anti-intellectual dogma yet? Oh don’t cry about it guys. Keep pretending Galileo wasn’t a devout Catholic, it’ll make the facts go away. Oh, and don’t look at the founders of Modern Science. Especially not St. Albertus Magnus, Petrus Peregrinus, Witelo of Silesia, Johannes de Scartobosco, or William of Ockham.

But of course there’s more to it than the fact that the Big Bang Theory was developed by a priest, as was our Modern theory of genetics. The question must be asked: Why was it the Christian West that developed in empirical science and the scientific method? Why not in China? India? Why not ancient Greece or Rome?

Easy: Monotheistic Religion. Not only did Christianity save and preserve the precious scraps of intellectualism left after the collapse of the Roman Empire, but She introduced to the world the necessary philosophy on which the Scientific Method is founded: The Universe is the product of a supremely rational God. Therefore, the Universe is rational. (This was helped by the use of Islamic philosophy, which holds a similar view.) Not only did Atheism have absolutely nothing to do with the creation of Science, it could not have created Science. For its answer to the question, “why does the universe appear to obey laws?” can only be “It’s just how it is.” Hardly the basis of scientific thought. If however, laws come from a lawgiver, and we are made in the image of that lawgiver, then the Universe explodes with possibility. Everything can be studied.

So the irony is rich: The New Atheist claims that Science — created and promoted by religion, made possible by religion — invalidates the need for religion. And thus Religion=Death, Atheism=Spaceships.

What a terribly long-winded rebuttal of a picture that took 3 minutes to make. I should have just said:

Scientism's Aching Need to Make Suicide Inevitable
Creationism Is Materialism's Creation
Why Heaven Makes Sense
God and gods
  • Sonia

    Also, genetic inheritance as studied by the monk Gregor Mendel is taught in high school/university. He did all kinds of experiments with peas and how they pass on genes. Monk scientists ftw.

    • Shortside40

      Yes! Not only did Marc’s post make me laugh out loud, but so did “monk scientists ftw”. Thanks to both of you! :)

    • musiciangirl591

      we are learning about it at my very secular university right now :)

    • JC

      And the Big Bang theory was formulated by a Catholic priest, Fr Lemaitre. Of course, Mendel and Lemaitre were a bit late for the middle ages (after all, if we start counting them, then we might as well mention Pascal, Schrodinger, Biot, Coulomb, Poincare, Volta, Duhem, Lagrange, Roentgen…). On the other hand, there are Nicole Oresme and Albert of Saxony and John Buridan (and the rest of the faculty at the Sorbonne in the 14th century). Buridan in particular is important, because he first formulated Newton’s First Law, upon which Newton’s other laws (and much of classical mechanics and hence ultimately modern physics) stand. Oddly enough, his formulation/discovery of Newton’s First Law was for explicitly religious (faithfully Catholic) reasons, as he stumbled upon it while attempting to explain how it was possible that the heavens remained always in motion if they were not at the same time eternal (and hence unchangeable).

      • Newton

        I was not a faithful Catholic. Do some research.

        • Cal-J

          JC was talking about John Buridan. Read the comment.

        • Jay Elenion

          Where’s yours?

        • Quantumphisteen

          Isaac Newton was a Catholic priest, at that period of time one had to be a priest in order to teach at oxford.

          • MatthewBowman

            I’m afraid your history is almost as bad as Newton/Kyle’s. Not only did you not have to be a priest to teach at Oxford, Isaac Newton was born considerably after the English Revolt and lived during a time when Catholicism was illegal in all lands claimed by the Crown.

            I suppose it’s possible that Isaac Newton was a secret Catholic who had managed to get ordained without anyone noticing, but that’s . . . *ahem* HIGHLY unlikely.

          • Cal-J

            Ninja Catholicism. Trolling the Anglican Church since the dawn of its existence.

      • MatthewBowman

        (Repost because Disqus screwed up. If this shows up twice, I blame an inanimate object.)

        Jean Buridan’s original theory is actually a beautiful statement of physics, especially if you’re a believing Christian.

        “God, when He created the world, moved each of the celestial orbs as He pleased, and in moving them he impressed in them impetuses which moved them without his having to move them any more…And those impetuses which he impressed in the celestial bodies were not decreased or corrupted afterwards, because there was no inclination of the celestial bodies for other movements. Nor was there resistance which would be corruptive or repressive of that impetus.” (

        When I popped over to Wikipedia for the exact phrase, I happened to notice that it was no longer on Jean Buridan’s personal entry, and that the Theory of Impetus now has its own page. Buridan’s page is also much more detailed than the last time I visited it.

        Monk and priest scientists eff tee very much dubbleyew. Even the Internet agrees. ;)

  • Fisherman

    I usually just stick to r/funny. And is it weird that I hopped off on reddit, went to facebook, saw this link and read this? Also, not only was Galileo a devout Catholic, but his daughter was a swagtastic nun.

    • Spencer Mulesky

      Galileo was more or less a slave to public Catholicism. He had no choice but to claim publicly to be a Catholic, or he would have faced far worse than the house imprisonment that the Church imposed on him. We cannot consider legitimate the religious statements made by someone with a religious gun to their head. This probably extends to his family as well.

      • Cal-J

        “A slave to public Catholicism.” Huh. Are you trying to tell me that he was secretly protestant or that he was a closet atheist?

        “He had no choice but to claim publicly to be a Catholic”

        No choice? Of course. It’s not like he could become a Protestant. There were obviously no influential Protestant scholars and scientists around (No, Kepler, sit. Bad dog).

        “he would have faced far worse than the house imprisonment that the Church imposed on him”

        Naturally. The Church was lenient on him because he was Catholic. After all, there’s such a huge record of people being burned at the stake in Galileo’s time for BOTH being non-catholic and holding poorly espoused heliocentrism.

        “We cannot consider legitimate the religious statements made by someone with a religious gun to their head.”

        This statement would have a lot more bite if you would provide good source quotes that suggest Galileo wasn’t really Catholic, because all you’ve got right here is:

        “Even though Galileo claimed he was Catholic, and did so until he died, he was LYING. Because he wasn’t! And his daughter went through all the trouble to be a nun because she was a liar, too!”

        • Newton

          he wasnt a prodestant. He was what we consider today, to be an Agnostic Atheist.

          • Shawn


            Also what is an Agnostic Atheist? Being Agnostic means to be uncertain of a deity(s) or a belief system. Being Atheist is a rejection of beliefs or of deity(s).

          • Alexandra

            Agnosticism speaks to what we know, atheism is about what you believe. An agnostic atheist is someone who believes that we cannot know if there is or is not a deity, and does not believe that there is one. Most atheists fall into this category.

            There’s also gnositc atheists who believe that we can know if there is or isn’t a deity, and does not believe that there is a deity.

          • Cal-J

            So Galileo, who claimed there was a God, would not have been an agnostic atheist, then?

          • Escriva Fan

            That sounds like a bunch of confused people.

          • Alexandra

            It is a little hard to grasp at first, but it’s entirely logical.

          • Cal-J

            Alexandra’s right.

            Agnostic Atheists don’t believe in God and when it crops up it discussions they excuse themselves by claiming they can’t possibly know one way or the other. (One wonders how they know they can’t know, but I digress).

            Gnostic Atheists don’t believe in God, but don’t waste time by bowing out of discussions on the technicality of whether or not they can know or otherwise.

          • Cate

            Prove it, Newton. Let’s see some evidence. It’s really easy to make a bold statement like that, but just as Cal-J was saying… where’s the evidence for that claim?

          • Alexandra

            I’m pretty sure that’s not true. We don’t really know anything about Galileo’s religious beliefs, or lack of them.

            What would be a reasonable is statement that there is a good chance that had he been born today, he’d would be an atheist seeing as the vast majority of scientists are.

          • MatthewBowman

            I know many scientists. The vast majority of them are religious. One friend, colleague, and former instructor is a Baptist deacon. Sadly, also a liberal, as are the majority of the scientists I know; but liberalism is a stealth religion, so that might count for double.

          • Alexandra

            Your personal experience may be different, but research has shown that professional scientists are mostly atheists. Anecdotes don’t disprove massive studies.

          • MatthewBowman

            I’d have to take a look at this research. Do you have a link?

          • Alexandra

            You could google it if you were really interested. I’m not really interested in talking about this because this is so well documented we’re really on the LMGTFY level.

          • MatthewBowman

            By all means, use LMGTFY. The ones I’m coming up with aren’t giving me the data.

          • Linds


            Google “poll of scientists on religion,” first result. Site checks out as far as bias but like all polling/population samples, I wouldn’t take it as law just a general idea. But yeah there are a ton of others under that search from various years. Knock yourself out. : )

          • MatthewBowman

            Pew can be a little shakier than most large polling firms (say, Gallup), but they’re usually pretty sound. However, this data, while in the more general areas it tracks with what I’ve read over the years, is a far cry from Alexandra’s claim.

            And I still don’t have the raw data; in particular, the specific questions.

          • Noobs

            This is a very, very thin post.

          • Noobs

            Not thinner than this one!!!

          • Noobs


          • Penny Farthing1893

            Interestingly, the harder the science (physics, chemistry), the more religious the scientists tend to be. As you get into bio, behavioral, psych, etc, you get more athiests. brb with the stats on this…

          • Alexandra

            I’d definitely be interested in those stats, though I don’t think it proves anything. It’s different than anything I’ve ever seen.

            The one stat that I think really speaks volumes is that 93% of the members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences are atheists.

          • greenishkiwis

            At the risk of mass cries of “WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A SOURCE”, I give you this – I don’t think whichever studies you think you are referring to are as concrete as you think. There IS a generally accepted indirect correlation between education and religious conviction. And in comparison to the general populace, perhaps atheism is more prominent in the scientific field. But it looks like it’s not anymore popular than theism in its own community.

            Also, 93%? I can’t find stats on that ANYWHERE. But by no means is the National Academy of Science a representative sample population. You could not possibly know that.

          • Becatoz

            “One of the 18 NAS book committee members, Neil deGrasse Tyson, revealed this at a friendly atheists’ conference in 2006. At 40:45 of his presentation, Tyson remarked to fellow atheist, Lawrence Krause:

            “I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don’t. That’s really what we’ve got to address here. Otherwise, the public is secondary to this… Lawrence, if you can’t convert our colleagues, why do you have any hope that you’re going to convert the public?”
            A few moments later, atheist panelist Michael Shermer suggested that the true figure of NAS scientists who reject God is 93%.”
            (Quoted from June 17, 2010.)

            Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, William Thomson Kelvin, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein made ground-breaking scientific gains while openly practicing a belief in God.

            I wonder why the atheist NAS members would want the theist members’ conversions? Does it make them look bad…in their OWN eyes only?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            “Research has shown…” Very droll. To those of us in the harder sciences, citation of anything in the social “sciences” is really more cause for amusement.

          • Wonder

            Only to those in the “harder sciences” who make a point of being condescending chauvinists for their own field.

          • Cal-J

            What would be a reasonable statement, Alexandra, is that we don’t know what Galileo would be if he was born today because there are thousands upon thousands of factors to take into consideration, including his heritage and upbringing, and how that would translate after about 500 years of cultural/location/historical drift.

            Because if the best speculation you can extend is just “a good chance”, well then I could just as easily say there’s just as good a chance that he would be Catholic now, and perhaps even more so because we already know he was Catholic.

          • Ffwygant

            Actually, I believe there was a published collection of letters between G and his daughter that discussed, among other things, matters of their faith. I haven’t read them, but such primary source material would certainly be considered proof.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Show me the study.

            You quote a stat, you show me or at least identify (“a Princeton study” would be good enough) the study.

            Because actually, every study I ever remember reading says the hard sciences are religiously indistinguishable from society at large.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            I see mastery of history is as good as that of theology in some circles. You do know that we have Galileo’s correspondence, right? And we know who his friends were – like Cardinal Dini and Cardinal Piccolomini? It is very easy to project Late Modern/Post Modern categories of thought onto the Early Modern Age and mistake the milieu of Renaissance Italy for the modern Scientific State of the 1930s. When you start out with a theory and interpret the data (or lack of data) only in terms of that theory, then you cannot use that same data to demonstrate that theory. That is circular reasoning, aka “begging the question.”

          • Ghawaly

            I’m afraid sir, that you are mistaken. Galileo’s discovery was acknowledged by Church officials as correct both religiously and scientifically. The problem was is that the vast majority of those in the Church who were not clergy or scientists, had been of the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe and so on, and were therefore not properly equipped to handle the scientific conundrum this discovery created. So, to keep the general public from hysteria and what have you, the Pope had Galileo “imprisoned” in a huge mansion in the middle of Italy (we should all be so lucky). Further, the Pope allowed Galileo to travel around Italy so long as he was in the company of guards. Galileo for his part held no hostility towards the Pope, as he dedicated a number of literary works and scientific essays to the Pope and remained his close friend for the rest of his days. As for your second point, Agnosticism and Atheism are contradictory terms and so their use together is grammatically and logically flawed. Good day to you sir.

      • Anonymous

        Can we bear in mind that Galileo went under house imprisonment because he appeared to have insulted the Pope? It wasn’t religion, it was politics and potential libel.

        • enness

          He did kinda stab him in the back, from what I understand. Not too bright a move.

        • Alexandra

          But is insulting the pope really grounds for house arrest for the rest of your life? Regardless of the conditions, placing someone under house arrest is a pretty cruel punishment.

          • Cal-J

            Yes, we know. We’ve apologized several times (though you only probably know of the JP II one).

            Galileo was particularly bad about keeping his theories in their proper respect, and a lot of people were particularly bad about keeping their tempers.

            To make it up to him, he was given a variety of conveniences, which included a manservant.

          • Newton

            Ah, a slave, how quaint.

          • Escriva Fan

            Slavery isn’t servanthood. Being a servant is a job. Not slavery. Americans just don’t like either word.

          • Cal-J

            Manservant, hotshot. Or are you going to start insulting butlers, now, too?

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Well, it was the Renaissance—slavery had come back after a little hiatus called the Middle Ages—but they weren’t used for domestic duties, they were mainly convict-laborer rowers on Mediterranean galleys.

          • CPE Gaebler

            I only knew about the JPII one. Can you tell me about the others?

          • Cal-J

            The formal apology from JPII included a section about the Galileo affair, correct; I’m afraid I mispoke over a semantic point when I mentioned other apologiess.

            I was referring to Providentissimus Deus, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical (November 18, 1893) in which the latter essentially endorses Galileo’s approach to the reconciliation of supposed problems between the Catholic faith and science.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            They canceled the ban on teaching heliocentrism as fact in 1830 after Settele established from the experiments of Callendrelli and Guglielmini that there was a) stellar parallax and b) a Coriolis effect, thus providing the empirical evidence that the earth did in fact a) revolve and b) rotate. (An earlier deduction involving diffraction was apparently not well known in Italian.)

            Funny. Bellarmino had said it was permissible to teach a mathematical procedure (in those days called a “hypothesis”) but not until a demonstration could it be taught as fact. And Galileo’s old buddy and former protector, Urban VIII had wanted evidence that could not possibly have come from a geostationary system. And it took until the 1800s to get it. And as soon as they did; they lifted the ban. That’s why Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, commented that “the Church had the better case.”

          • MatthewBowman

            Actually, that wasn’t the reason for house arrest and imprisonment. That was just the reason why the Pope didn’t stop the trial.

            The reason he was put on trial was because Galileo went around teaching that his theories were fact when there was no proof, and occasionally in the face of contradicting proof. (Look up his theories on comets sometime. He insisted they were part of the weather.)

            His insistence of a heliocentric model actually had little to nothing to do with his crime. Heliocentrism was actually widely accepted; for some reason, the arguments attempting to use Galileo to prove the Church was anti-science always seem to overlook that Copernicus (a deacon) had published a full model of the heavens according to the heliocentric system and no one complained. The ONLY reason a heliocentric model wasn’t used was because making an accurate heliocentric model for star charts was far more difficult than a geocentric view, and usually fell short of the required accuracy for incidental things like determining the date of Easter.

            Let me underscore that for a moment. Have you taken a look at modern stargazing charts? Have you perhaps noticed that THEY ARE STILL ON A GEOCENTRIC MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE? It’s easier to think of Earth as the center of the universe when stargazing. It’s quicker, more accurate, and takes much less mental translation.

            I know this from personal experience, because I’ve taught this to students. They come in the classroom with heliocentric notions and invariably have trouble adjusting to a geocentric view. I can’t tell you how many times students get a star chart backward, precisely because they know everything is really on a heliocentric system. One otherwise bright student (she just didn’t take to astronomy very well; excellent with philosophy and theology, though) even got north and south mixed up; usually it was the east-west axis that tripped them up.

            So what was it that got Galileo in trouble? He had the misfortune of insisting that Church doctrines needed to be changed to suit his (then-unconfirmed) observations at a time when Europe was undergoing a great deal of strife over doctrinal differences. (There was this little tiff going on in the Germanies at the time. You might have heard of it. Lasted thirty years.) The Church was extra-sensitive about orthodoxy at the time, and THAT is where the apology comes in. The Church should have handled it better, because it wasn’t worth putting his teachings on the condemned-books list.

            But they did, and he kept teaching, and that meant he was in violation of the law. No, not Church law per se; secular law, which in this case said that what the Church listed as condemned was prohibited speech in all respects.

            This was usually how someone got hauled up in front of the Inquisition, by the way — by which I don’t mean the secular-controlled Spanish edition. Someone is accused of violating a local law that touches on something religious. The local authorities call in a competent panel of experts, namely the Inquisition. The Inquisition determines a verdict, but not punishment; it merely determines guilt or innocence on a particular case. When the accused is not a member of the clergy or a religious order, the Inquisition has no direct power over sentencing. Even when the accused is a clergyman, sentencing is usually carried out by the accused’s most direct superior, according to whatever jurisdiction is appropriate: bishop or abbot.

            That being said, the Church has a certain amount of influence over secular authorities; but much more often than not, the verdict was “not guilty” — and the Inquisition had by far the most fair and even-handed system of jurisprudence in Europe, and the modern English-style court system we use today is a direct descendant of the Papal Inquisition.

            In this case, interestingly enough, the jurisdiction was handed over to the Inquisition. The leading theory among historians was that this was because Pope Urban VIII took a personal interest in the case. He conspicuously stayed out of it, at least publicly; but somehow Galileo got great representation and a very light sentence.

            Light? you ask. He was imprisoned! Yes, in a very nice house, with lots of privileges, including a full library AND A STIPEND. You have to remember that this was the seventeenth century. Life wasn’t as hard as it was back during, say, the Lombard rule; but it was still nothing we’d call easy living today. In fact, the most accurate comparison to modern life would be if Galileo had been punished with 24/hour butler service, a broadband internet connection, free room and board, and a full medical benefits package. He was even able to continue teaching. By comparison, even Martha Stewart had it worse off when she went to prison.

            By the way, the first people to condemn Galileo were the Protestants. The Church didn’t condemn his theories, just his methods. The Protestants thought he was a tool of Satan.

          • ah ha moment

            Thanks for this wonderful explanation, Mr. Bowman! Much appreciated.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Please, please recommend some sources so I can read up on the Inquisition in general, and Galileo’s trial in specific, so that I can tell people what REALLY went down when they ask ^____^

          • MatthewBowman

            Hmm. Specific sources? I don’t currently have any dedicated sources on either topic ready at hand. I’ve got some books on Galileo boxed up, if I haven’t donated them already (formerly research for a thesis paper that got abandoned in favor of a different topic that excited me more), but I don’t know their titles offhand.

            The Inquisition is a similar issue; I collect information from bits and pieces, various lectures both for college credit and extracurricular activity, including Teaching Company lectures I listen to simply because I don’t like having my brain stuck in idle.

            I always recommend the late Dr. Warren Carroll’s History of Christendom series, a six-part text on the title’s subject. (He was the founder of one of my alma maters, Christendom College, and recently passed after a lifetime of learning and passing things on to the likes of us.) He covers these subjects, and rather frankly points out when the Church makes mistakes, but they’re both only parts of much larger subjects.

            There is an upcoming lecture on the Spanish Inquisition from the Institute of Catholic Culture (it’s free to download once online) but I always point out that there is a SIGNIFICANT difference between the Spanish and Papal Inquisitions. For one thing, the Spanish Inquisition was controlled by secular authorities; for another, the Spanish Inquisition disbanded.

            (Yes, that’s right. The Papal Inquisition is still around. It’s just now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. You know, the office of the Church our current Pope was heading before his election. It was the subject of much good-natured mirth among my college friends.)

            The above link is to an episode of the EWTN series The Catholic Church: Builder of Civilization. The lecture is on the Galileo case, but you might want to start at the beginning. I haven’t read the lecturer’s book yet, but it’s been in my Amazon list for a while. (Also, the author has the same rule I have: cite non-Catholics as much as possible to show it’s not biased information.)

            Send me an email at bookwyrm.pendraconis (gmail). I get a lot of email through there, so if I don’t respond right away feel free to send again; your first email might have gotten lost. I’ll see what I can do to locate some reputable sources for you, including non-Catholic sources.

          • James H, London

            One good source is ‘God’s Philosophers’ by James Hannam

          • Lisa Krekelberg

            I have not read it yet, but I have heard that Annibale Fantoli’s works on Galileo are excellent references on this topic, and use primary source materials (Galileo’s writings, court transcripts) to give a detailed breakdown on what actually happened.

          • Howard Richards

            It’s a bit deceptive to say that stargazing charts are still on a geocentric model of the universe. They’re not so much modelling the universe as showing what it looks like from the perspective of the reader, who probably lives on earth. In exactly the same way, if I want to tell someone where to look for a given star, it’s better to give them the azimuth and elevation than the Right Ascension and Declination, even though the azimuth and elevation depend not just on being on earth, but also on the observer’s latitude and longitude and the date and time.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            They’re still very irksome if you’re trying to figure out which stars belong to which governments when you’re writing science fiction.

          • James H, London

            IIRC, about the same time as Galileo, a courtier in England cast aspersions on the sexuality King James (of KJV Bible fame). He turned up ‘murdered by bandits’ a day or two later.

            Going by the standards of the time, Galileo got off lightly for flipping off a head of state.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            You don’t really know Renaissance politics, do you?

            Every other prince would’ve stabbed him.

        • John

          Galileo actually insulted another author in a book he wrote about heleocenterism and he made fun of him and was very uncharitable to him in it.

          • Cal-J

            Galileo made a history of opposing the very common idea that science should be learned by direct study of nature rather than by the authorities of recorded history (Aristotle et al.), and made something of a career of leaving discredited opponents in his wake.

            His proclivity for massive controversy and razor wit endowed him with a massive ego, unfortunately, which is one of the main reasons why he managed to get himself into trouble.

      • barefoot cinderella

        today is as good as any to engage in speculation

      • Tom B follow link its pretty much what I’ve always heard about galileo. He writes extensively of his Catholic faith. He was aCatholic and by all accounts including the witness of his nun daughter to whom he wrote extensively, a devout Catholic. You’re agnosticism claim must be based on your ability to read the thoughts of dead people, that contradict their “public” statements. I cannot read his mind , so i take hima t his word.

        • Sophias_Favorite

          Also, anyone who knows the history of Renaissance hermeticism, alchemy, and sometimes full-on paganism can laugh in “Newton’s” face for that “religious gun to his head” crack. People openly trafficked in occultism, and nobody cared.

          While we’re on the subject, “Newton”, Isaac Newton was a liberal Christian with some quasi-Gnostic ideas mixed into his Anglicanism. We know, however, that he was a theist, because he was the guy who posited the occasional divine interventions in physical systems that are usually called “The God of the Gaps.”

          Interestingly, Buridan very specifically repudiated that idea, in his physics.

  • Tony Escobar

    Fact: The Catholic Church built western civilization.

    Thomas E. Woods has an awesome book on this. I mention a bit of it here

    • Nathan Beacom
      • Newton

        The spin and skew of these books are amazing. I’ve read 4 of the 6. They completely ignore the fact that a lot of what they discussed originally came from the general area of the middle east.

        • James H, London

          After having got there from ancient Greece, yes.

          You can’t escape the fact that it was Christendom that developed science, not the House of Submission. That’s not spin – it’s fact. An Inconvenient Truth, if you like!

          Mike Flynn the Thomist Ninja has the low-down:

        • Sophias_Favorite

          Most of which was Christian when it did its real intellectual work. Also, most scholars are agreed (though quietly) that much of the intellectual legwork of the early Caliphate was done by Dhimmi Christians and Jews—of whom Maimonides (Moises bar Maimon) was the most famous.

    • Keith

      First, it was hardly the Catholic Church alone: the Protestant Reformation happened in the 16th century. The Catholic Church started things off, but western civilization was hardly “built” when Christianity split.

      More to the underlying point, of course most of the scientific method was invented by Christians, there wasn’t anybody else around to do it.

      That’s like saying the scientific method was invented by people who didn’t know about the germ theory of disease. It’s true, but completely irrelevant as to whether or not Christianity is true.

      Try this rephrase: “The New Atheist claims the germ theory of disease — created and promoted by people who believed diseases spontaneously generated, made possible by people who believed diseases spontaneously generated — invalidates the need for believing that disease spontaneously generates.” Yeah, OK, sounds correct to me.

      In other words, Catholics, sorry, but you started humanity along a path that leads to the conclusion that your god, like so many others, does not exist.

      • Sadie

        “of course most of the scientific method was invented by Christians, there wasn’t anybody else around to do it”

        What? There were large chunks of the world that were non-Christian both before and during the era of development of the scientific method.

        • Spencer Mulesky

          If you weren’t a church leader, you wouldn’t have the money or power needed to be able to publish.

          • Newton

            Or for that matter, be literate.

          • Cal-J

            …And what?

            Is someone’s life worthless unless they can read?

          • Newton

            nope, but its a great way to control and maintain power.

          • Cal-J

            I need to figure out the smiley face for rolling eyes.

            Concrete accusations only, please.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Most noblemen could read in the Middle Ages, and pretty much all women from the middle class on up. Regine Pernoud, curator of France’s national archives, found that women bought more books than men in the 12th to 14th centuries.

            Of course, women could also own property, practice trades, file lawsuits, and vote. But tell us something else you “know” about the Middle Ages, little boy, it amuses the grownups.

          • Cal-J

            Unless you were a king. Or a prince. Or one of the various nobles. Or a successful merchant. Or an heir. Or a wealthy landowner.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Or any of the hundred plus crafts that had a guild—which is not a union, it’s a professional association. Medieval plumbers and bricklayers had a status we only give to doctors and lawyers.

            Also, women learned to read just as often as men, and Regine Pernoud, who was curator of France’s national archives, found that they actually bought more books.

            The medievals also invented the cam, the mechanical saw, the shoulder-harness, the fullering machine, and oh yes, the paper mill, using Roman numerals for their math—and then built Chartres cathedral (which was donated by the craftsmen who built it).

          • Shawn

            So what about the kings, princes, and the nobles?

          • Newton

            they all believed themselves to be really close to god. made the relic business pretty damn profitable. They were all in bed with the church, and the churched favored thoes with the most militaristic power.

          • MatthewBowman

            Exactly! That’s precisely why the Church considered it illegal and a sin to sell or profit in any way off of relics, even to the point of being unable to buy the golden reliquaries once they were put to use.

            And you’re exactly right on the military bits, too. That’s why the Church went to so much effort to negotiate laws that created peculiar rules on warfare, including the still-in-effect excommunication rule for killing another Christian with a crossbow.

            Oh. Wait. You were trying to prove something the opposite of reality again, weren’t you? Sorry. Pesky facts keep getting in the way.

        • whostolemyinternets?

          Yes, lets just gloss over the fact that this article only references Christian contributions to Science. So, if you lived in any part of the world that had Christianity as its church of state, you had to be part of the Christian church. If you did not profess to be Christian (lets say in Feudal Europe) at best you would be socially shunned by your Christian peers. At worst you may lose any land, title, money and respect you had, if you got labeled a Heretic. If you preached anything that did not meet approval by the leaders of the Church, you risked severe consequences if you did not publicly repent.

          • MatthewBowman

            At least you didn’t make blanket statements about random burnings at the stake for asking questions. That makes you the most reasoned anti-Christian commenter so far.

            It’s a shame the bar is set so low.

            1) What non-Christian contributions to science are you talking about? And I assume you mean actual science rather than technological advancement, which even after the advent of the scientific method remained more an art than a reasoned, experimental process.

            2) Actually, you generally got to keep your stuff if you got labeled a heretic, even if they used a capital-H. Even if you were excommunicated, you were still part of the local congregation and still welcome at Mass.

            3) The “consequences” of preaching something that “didn’t meet approval” generally amounted to the same thing that would happen today if you yourself went around preaching things contrary to the Church’s teachings. That is, pretty much nothing beyond “Honey, don’t pay any attention to the crazy guy standing on that soap box.” The Catholic Church has had a very long and rather proud history of tolerance of opinion, because debate leads to certainty and God wants us to use rationality. Sometimes members of the Church screw up. They’re human; we can’t have it both ways. That’s precisely why the Church has been so tolerant.

            Why is there a different image? Generally speaking, Protestants. First, English Protestants tended to control the printing presses that produced the books that covered these time-periods, and they had a rather large ax to grind. (This was also long before the modern obsession with accuracy, which I mentioned on another post.) Second, to a non-Christian, even one today who (I assume, though this comment stream tends to prove otherwise) has the time and desire to research the topic, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a Catholic and a much more dogmatic Fundamentalist who claims there is no such thing as allegory, symbolism, or a need for rational test.

    • Newton

      the Catholic church gave us Crusades, Low Literacy, Unprecedented Poverty, The Reclemation, Inquisitions, Political Power that would sell to the highest bidder…. the list goes on and on.

      Universities were actually an idea that built upon middle eastern practises (not to be confused with ISLAM)
      The new imperialist abrahamic religion during that time (Islam – as detrimental as catholicism) helped spread the learning and sharing of idea’s due to forced learning of Arabic for the general populus. This spread of ideas, literacy, and learning, in ways catholicism would never be able to achieve due to the sheer amount of people it ‘lifted’ (like a reversed tower of babel story). This advanced science further than the Catholic Church ever did). Lenses were revolutionalized in the midevil middle eastern world, giving us telescopes, and the first microscope.
      Modern algebra came from India, the base 10 number system we know today also came from midevil middle east.
      The periodic table due to Stanislao Cannizzaro (only catholic by social pressure and location), and further developed by Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (and orthadox Russian), and not the Catholic Church. Just because these people were within the catholic faith (note: it was really properous to be one of the clergy) doesnt mean the ‘Catholic Church’ did it. Need I also remind you, being anything but catholic/christian in the western world ment you’d be shunned from society alltogether. One didn’t have much of a choice, just like the middle east didnt have much of a choice becoming Islamic.

      Catholic ‘Universities’ tutored only the upper class (monarchs, lords, clergy, and the small amount of weathy) leaving the rest of the populous Illiterate, and highly empoverished. They rehashed old ideas from the greeks, earlier roman empire, and other middle eastern civilizations but all while enforcing the ‘law’ of the Bible. Basically the majority of discussion ended with (figuratively) god did it, dont question it.

      Lets take a look at Modern Chemistry. Ideas developed in the middle east due to learning and furthering the works of Egyptians and Greeks.
      Jābir ibn Hayyān (Gerber)(considered the father of chemistry), Abū al-Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (for the transmutation of metal and conservation of mass) were the earliest in the begining of Chemistry as we know it. Catholics as well as Islamists were teaching Alchemy, until it became laughed (though Chaucer & Dante’s writings) at and Pope John XXII then outlawed it because alchemists began making fradulent money (fools gold should ring a bell… the church wouldnt have its power lost to fake gold)
      Aristotle’s 4 Element theory as you stated was actually refuted by one Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī (aka Razes/Rasis). Others such as Georg Agricola (removed the mysticism of chemical reactions), Sir Francis Bacon (Creator of what we know as the scientific method), Jean Beguin (who drew the first ever chemical equation), Robert Boyle (founder of boyles law & writer of the skeptical chemist), Antoine Lavoisier, Alessandro Volta (founder of electrochemistry after he created the first modern battery), John Dalton, etc… The list goes on, and is not the elephant entity known as the Catholic Church.

      Galileo Galilei was forcefully a Catholic (again due to his living location), and was silenced many times from spreading his ‘heretical’ knowledge. He may not have been a full out atheist, but rather an Agnost. This is known due to his writings (again, which the church had deemed heretical). He furthered the work of Nicolaus Copernicus who, furthered the work of Al Battani (9th century, Damascus). Galileo and Nicolaus were catholic only by association (again, forced societal norm)

      You can blame Catholicism for keeping the western world scientifically stunted for almost 1400 years

      …they were known as the Dark Ages after all. ;)

      • Cal-J

        You’re entire post is basically dedicated to saying that other religions made contributions to science and that the ones that actually were Catholic weren’t really. Also, Galileo wasn’t declared heretical, and he didn’t do much in the way of “furthering” a whole heck of a lot; Galileo held that the sun was the center of the universe, the planets moved in perfect spheres about it, and that the earth was moved by its own tides.

        Nicolaus was Catholic only be forced societal norm? The man received minor orders; that’s a whole lot for someone who was only barely Catholic.

        “You can blame Catholicism for keeping the western world scientifically stunted for almost 1400 years…”

        This is the first accusation you’ve made that actually accuses the Catholic Church of doing something. Well, no, that’s not correct; you claim that Catholic Universities only taught people who could afford and had a demonstrable interest in schooling. And that a pope outlawed the study of alchemy because its chief purpose was as the main theme of a con game (complete with vague little aside that, still, THE CHURCH IS EVIL).

        Neither of these statements actually prove much in the way of “stunting” anything.

        “…they were known as the Dark Ages after all. ;)”

        And here I thought that the Dark Ages actually referred to the lack of historical record. C’mon, no grandiose, sweeping comments? For shame.

        • Kyle

          For saying other religions made contributions… no, other people (located in the middle east) made contributions. The only thing which I contributed to another religion is the quick spread of idea’s due to imposed literacy and linguistics of Arabic within a large part of the known world of the time.

          Nicholas Copernicus only recieved orders until much later in his life, soon after his sister became a benedictine nun.
          He did have the pressure of his uncle (an ordained priest) as well in his younger life guiding him,

          He was well off due to the fact his mother was the daughter of a wealthy Toruń merchant, and is father was a successful merchant in Danzig and was also close to the royal prussian family.

          However, his theological orientation had no effect on his research and about 1532 Copernicus had completed his work on the manuscript of ‘De revolutionibus orbium coelestium’ and even though his closest friends urged him, he resisted openly publishing his views, not wishing to risk the scorn of the church “to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses”. It was only by chance Pope Clement VII was actually interested in the theory when Johann Widmannsetter presented the work to said pope in 1953.

          Even though I was a bit exagerated in regards to the time frame of 1400 years, i still stand by my statement.

          Also, it is no secret that the catholic church was a political whore, Its how it kept its power, from french monarchy (start of the first crusade – Urban II), to the english monarchy – Eugene III , to the germanic ‘monarchy’ (spawning the new ‘holy roman empire’) – Urban III , and then over to the spanish (Reconquista), when such ‘alliances’ were neccessary for the church not to loose its vast weath. Then there were the Inquisitions (Gregory IX)…… So yeah, pretty evil in my opinion.

          • Kyle

            -1953 +1533 (pardon the error)

          • Shawn

            LOL, Newton = Kyle

            Either way, you still need to provide legitimate sources that state Copernicus and Galileo were agnostic.

          • God Bush

            I can be anything you want me to be

          • MatthewBowman

            So you’re exactly like your history sources: fabricated.

          • Cal-J

            So you’re a Republican?

          • Sophias_Favorite

            But I want you to be a being of human intelligence, and that is drastically beyond your capabilities.

          • Cal-J

            “For saying other religions made contributions… no, other people (located in the middle east) made contributions. The only thing which I contributed to another religion is the quick spread of idea’s due to imposed literacy and linguistics of Arabic within a large part of the known world of the time.”

            So… no, but yes?

            “However, his theological orientation had no effect on his research”

            And what does that even mean?

            “and about 1532 Copernicus had completed his work on the manuscript of ‘De revolutionibus orbium coelestium’ and even though his closest friends urged him, he resisted openly publishing his views, not wishing to risk the scorn of the church “to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses”.”

            The church as in the Catholic Church? A source for this quote would be nice. I could just as easily point out that Heliocentrism was actually quite well thought of amongst the Jesuits and opposed by Protestants.

            I could also point out that he did publish abstracts. And that, heck, Cardinal Schonberg, then Archbishop of Capua, actually encouraged the man to publish his work; the Archbishop even offered to pay to have it copied.

            That and the work was dedicated to Pope Paul III.

            “It was only by chance Pope Clement VII was actually interested in the theory when Johann Widmannsetter presented the work to said pope in 1953.”

            Clement VII died in 1534, Boss.

            “Also, it is no secret that the catholic church was a political whore, Its how it kept its power… So yeah, pretty evil in my opinion.”

            Depends on what you mean by “kept its power” and”political whore”; again, you’re not doing much to incriminate the Catholic Church. You’ve progressed from vague, unfounded statements to vague, unfounded name-dropping.

            We want the details, guy. C’mon. Then we can go a few rounds.

      • Newton

        I wrote all this hastily, so please excuse the grammatical errors.

        • James H, London

          Your grammatical errors are the least of your problems!

          Do you know why the universities in Islamic territories were eventually closed? it was because to Islam, it was heretical to think that God could be bound by natural laws. For them, it was literally ‘Goddidit!’

          By stark contrast, consider the following statement by William of Conches of the Uni. of Paris, in the 1100s:
          “[They say] ‘We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.’ You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.” (Dragmatikon)

          from Mike Flynn again:

          In Christian theology some of the consequences of the Christian concept of God are:

          1. Existence exists.
          2. There is an objective universe.
          3. That universe is rationally ordered. (There are natural laws.)
          4. The order of the universe is consistent.
          5. That order is knowable to human reasoning.
          6. It is knowable “by number, weight, and measure.”
          7. Material bodies have natures that have the power of acting directly upon one another (secondary causation) and therefore natural phenomena have natural causes.
          8. The universe had a beginning in time.
          9. All human beings share a common descent.
          10. Human beings have a “selfish gene” that makes them prone to pride and selfishness.
          11. New species of animals, if any such appear, would be produced by natural powers “which the stars and elements received at the beginning.” (Summa theologica, Part I Q73 A1 reply3)

          So, using Carnap’s formulation of logical positivism, the more of these consequences that can be verified empirically, the greater the probablity that the Christian God exists. For example, #8 might be verified if physics could solve the relativity equations and discover that there was some sort of “big bang” or something by which space and time commenced. The remainder will be left as an exercise to our Perceptive Reader.

      • Andy S

        The grammatical errors are no problem, of course. I can’t imagine you are really concerned about bothering someone with typing errors, while lobbing anti-Catholic fallacies. The factual errors are a problem. If you despise the Catholic Church, at least get there on some historical/factual basis.

        Let’s just look at one of your claims: ” The Catholic Church gave us…Unprecedented Poverty…” There was no poverty before the Church introduced it to the world? Or, poverty was not nearly as bad before the Church existed? Did you mean something else? If so, what exactly?

        It would be interesting to see what sort of support you have for this.

  • Joe Gehret

    Copernicus was a priest.

    • Joseph A’Hearn

      He never received priestly ordination, but just the minor orders–I believe lector and acolyte. But the point is that he was an ecclesiastic.

  • Brendan

    Giving up Reddit for lent was the best thing I’ve ever done.

  • Ohhh BOyyy

    The phenomenon of online-misery can be achieved by:

    a) Reading the news.
    b) Caring about the news.
    c) Trolling Planned Parenthood’s Facebook for 2 or 3 minutes (can we have a day for that? (International Rick Roll Planned Parenthood Day?))

    –>O my! I was JUST doing this before i discovered this post on facebook…

  • Michele

    Haha…I love it!

  • Innternal

    have an upvote, good sir!

  • AttentionDeficitCatholic

    Missed an Oxford comma there, as well as misspelled “Aristotelian”: “using Christian, Islamic and Aristotelean texts” should be, I believe, “using Christian, Islamic, and Aristotelian texts.”

    Grammatical nitpicks aside, you have, as usual, done some excellent work! Continue getting that truth out there. In my experience, a lot of people will not listen (when you try to tell an atheist that Catholicism built Western Civilization, they tend to cover their ears like little children (or fundamentalists)), but there are those who do, and it opens their minds to just how reasonable Christianity is (Faith and Reason: having the first without the second is as bad as having the second without the first!).

    • Cal-J

      Thumbs up if Marc should let some of us read his work early (ahem) proof read.

  • Gail Finke

    I needed a laugh today, Thanks!!!

  • CMC

    Marc, your satire is funny but I want more posts like the ones you shared on Holy Week. Let the atheists do their thing. Your thoughts on your OWN faith are truly FTW and stunningly beautiful too.

    • Kyle

      beautiful like a lemonparty

      • the person above me is a troll


  • Kony

    I love this /r/circlejerk site.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      and I love your irony!

  • VM

    Constantly mocking atheists and non-Catholic Christians is getting really old. Grow up. You are an incredibly talented writer when you write about your own personal faith and the beauty of it. I honestly don’t read you all that often because of posts like this. Going out of your way to make non-Catholics look stupid is not gaining Catholicism any fans. You’re not going to humiliate anyone into believing the Truth.

    If you spend your time “trolling” Planned Parenthood and atheism threads, I honestly feel sorry for you. What do you think that is going to accomplish? Do you think they’ll listen to you? Your writing is so abraisive. It makes Catholics look bad.

    Also, “read or die”? Sometimes you make me ashamed to be associated with you.

    • Sadie

      “If you spend your time “trolling” Planned Parenthood and atheism threads, I honestly feel sorry for you. What do you think that is going to accomplish?”

      Do you watch comedy films to “accomplish” something? Normal people like to laugh, and Planned Parenthood and atheism threads are funny.

    • musiciangirl591

      he’s funny in my book :) i look forward to his posts whenever i log on to my computer :)

    • enness

      The thing is, VM, he isn’t going out of his way. That’s kind of the point: the picture is pretty stupid (I mean seriously, where/what is that? Post-Skynet apocolyptica? Aside from the planes, it’s like looking at the picture of futuristic squalid urban hell — those yellow clouds must be positively noxious). They’ve done that bit of heavy lifting for him. If this is any indication of the mainstream, we need better quality philosophical opponents.

      Also, “you make me ashamed to be associated with you”? I don’t know how I would feel being associated with somebody who reads too much importance into an obvious comic hyperbole, but maybe that’s just me.

    • enness

      BTW, if you want to see really abrasive you’re on the wrong page. Mark Shea makes him look like Mister Rogers. (I still read him, because when he hits the nail on the head he does so like nobody else, but there’s a lot of rhetoric I have to let go in one ear and out the other.)

      • Alexandra

        Mark Shea is really really mean. I tried commenting on his blog a few times trying to have civil conversation and he came at me with the mocking with all he had.

        • Cal-J

          Mark Shea has little patience. I’ve seen him go, myself. Still, I have to wonder if he was entirely one-sided in his meanness. A quick look through the backlog gives us an idea of what you consider “civil conversation”.

          • Alexandra

            I have been civil, and perhaps you haven’t noticed, but I’m purposefully not engaging with you anymore because you have not.

          • Cal-J

            No, “civil” is not the term for what you are when you come by and compose posts specifically to tell us we have reached new levels in being “hateful”.

            “Civil” is not the term for what you are when you enter into debates and get upset when people question your assertions.

            “Civil” is not the term for what you are when people engage you in debate and you resort to insulting, outright insulting, other combox posters because you can’t think of anything legitimate to say.

            “Civil” is not the term to be used when you make bogus allegations against us and then attempt to defend yourself when we call you out on it by claiming the dignity of the word for yourself.

            There’s a lot of stuff you do when you’re here, Alexandra, but I wouldn’t call being “civil” part of it.

          • Alexandra

            You and I have very different opinions on what is appropriate in adult conversation. I find your comments condescending, mocking, and a flippant. They’re unproductive and I’m not interested in engaging with you.

            Yes, I have said that the Church does hateful things. Yes, I called someone a bigot for their incredibly outlandish, and not Catholic, views on homosexuality. Yes, I’ve gotten upset when I was misunderstood and I didn’t feel like people didn’t try to understand what it was I was trying to say. Yes, I’ve said that I was done having a conversation with people when I thought that it wasn’t going anywhere, and just becoming emotional.

            To me, that counts as civil and productive. You very clearly disagree, and I do not think that you and I can have productive conversation because of how much you have decided you object to the way that I engage with people.

            Enjoy your bickering, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d try to do so without trying to engage with me.

          • Cal-J

            “I find your comments condescending, mocking, and a flippant. They’re unproductive and I’m not interested in engaging with you.”

            You do quite a few of those things as well, Alexandra. I’m sad that you seem to think I’m mocking you or that I think you’re beneath me; now, I will kid around and try to be fun, but I will call you out when it is necessary. I hardly think you’re beneath me; I go out of my way to address your points as you present them.

            You came here to have a conversation, and I’m having one with you. I like being jocular and I like indulging in snark here and there, and I will not hold back because I expect you can take it, because you dish it out just as easily, and I’m certain you’ve been doing it longer than I have.

            “Yes, I have said that the Church does hateful things. Yes, I called someone a bigot for their incredibly outlandish, and not Catholic, views on homosexuality. Yes, I’ve gotten upset when I was misunderstood and I didn’t feel like people didn’t try to understand what it was I was trying to say. Yes, I’ve said that I was done having a conversation with people when I thought that it wasn’t going anywhere, and just becoming emotional.

            To me, that counts as civil and productive.”

            Accusing us of being hateful, and insulting people (and I’m not talking about Rufus and his ilk – we all told them to stop) are not civil or productive at all, Alexandra, no matter how you try and square it.

            Now then, I would like some clarification: what parts of your posts were misunderstood and how? Help me understand them.

            “You very clearly disagree, and I do not think that you and I can have productive conversation because of how much you have decided you object to the way that I engage with people.”

            When you call Marc and Musiciangirl young and immature, that’s engaging with them? When you ignore their posts and make insinuations about them being unqualified to make any point whatsoever, yes, I will object to that.

            “Enjoy your bickering, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d try to do so without trying to engage with me.”

            Look, all I ever do is address your points. I’ve offered before to have a private conversation over e-mail. What conversation do you want to have?

          • Alexandra

            None, I’m serious. Please stop talking to me.

          • Rachel K

            Cal-J, if you think Alexandra hasn’t been civil, it’s been too long since you’ve seen a real troll. I almost never agree with what she has to say but am often pleasantly surprised by how politely she says it.

          • Cal-J

            I never said she was a troll. I’ve had conversations with her quite a few times where we actually have some legitimate back and forth.

            What I said was that Alexandra’s conversations are rarely just “Alexandra is civil, and everyone else is not.”

        • JoAnna Wahlund

          I’ve seen your comments on Shea’s blog, and I think you should look down to see if, perhaps, your pants need to be extinguished.

          • Alexandra

            I’m really not sure what you’re talking about. Once he got nasty, I didn’t stay entirely cool either, but he definitely was the one to escalate it.

            And not even to me, Shea is unnecessarily mean to anyone who doesn’t agree with him.

          • MatthewBowman

            I have to agree with Alexandra on this point. I’ve occasionally been called in to parse and (usually) correct something he’s written. The most recent was a travesty of a piece on Just War Theory that basically denied the very concept.

          • Justin

            I think when he said “your pants need to be extinguished” I think he meant to say that you were being dishonest in your post. You know, “liar liar pants on fire.”

          • Alexandra

            I understand the idiom, but I don’t know what she’s referring to me as not initiating civil discourse with Shea. Once he started mocking me, I indulged a little in that, but Shea is really quite a cranky man that escalates things incredibly fast.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      Will you please tell the same to the pro-aborts who constantly troll pro-life FB pages and blogs? And Twitter, for that matter? They’re pretty annoying.

      • MatthewBowman

        I know who that is, though she doesn’t know me. She’s not saying the pro-choice crowd is right, and she’s (as far as I am aware) a traditional Catholic. She’s just allergic to sarcasm and can’t stand snark.

    • CPE Gaebler

      “You are an incredibly talented writer when you write about your own personal faith…”
      Actually, he has a public faith that is inextricable from an institution constituting millions throughout millenia. Just so you know.

    • FeminineGenius

      He is not going out of his way to mock atheists he is merely defending his beloved religion. Whats really geting old is atheist and none catholic christians mocking catholicism along with other groups of people. Also its not making catholics look bad. Its making them seem like people that care about upholding the truth which is a lot more than i can say for other groups of people.

  • Aaron Nixon

    Just because people were religious when you would be hunted down and killed if you weren’t and also wanted to find answers doesn’t give religion the right to accept these things as their cause.

    Kinda dumb article, thanks for the laugh though.

    • Shawn

      Wait, so by your logic, the priests and friars that developed some of the sciences didn’t believe in God?

      • conditus

        That’s the narrative that they would like you to believe. Apparently these highly intelligent priests and friars were all only pretending to be believers because religion is only for the ignorant while science is reserved for the superior intellect. Therefore, all of these scientific religious were secretly atheists because that’s the only thing that a intelligent person can be.

    • Cal-J

      “Just because people were religious when you would be hunted down and killed if you weren’t and also wanted to find answers doesn’t give religion the right to accept these things as their cause.”

      Over a thousand years of history, distilled into the vaguest “Ha ha you’re all stupid” I’ve ever seen.

      Kinda dumb comment, thanks for the laugh, though.

      • Newton

        If you wernt a Catholic (or to a lesser extent, christian – Prodestant, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran Etc), you’d be a heretic. Punishable by death, to a lesser exten, exile from all society.

        • thom

          It is spelled “Protestant.” Because you are *protesting* against something. No D. :)

          • Newton

            I’m typing on a phone, and very hastily I might add. Autocorrect is abysmal.

          • Newton

            … also, yes, I know, Protestant’s came to be by ‘the reformation’, in turn caused by the imposed segregation of nobles/catholic church and the common people.

          • WJC

            Your history is worse than your spelling, Newton.

          • Cal-J

            Imposed segregation? Were the nobles only allowed to drink from the noble fountains?

        • Cal-J

          Technically, the definition of heretic is “someone who holds a post-baptismal denial of a religious truth”.

          Also, you’ve just made vague allegations and unspecific claims. Give me something to work with, here.

        • MatthewBowman

          Where do you get your history? Monty Python?

          • greenishkiwis

            Genuinely “lol’d” just now, thank you for that.

        • James H, London

          Yeah, like atheist countries (most of which have now collapsed) never, ever punished anyone for not having the right opinions!

          Oh, the irony…

  • John Miklavcic

    As a scientist and professional author of peer-reviewed scientific literature, I can confidently say that their is no discrepancy between my faith, as it parallels the Catholic Church, and science. If there’s any debate from atheists (the real atheists- not the ones that just don’t want morality imposed upon them) who use science as the standing point for arguing invalidity of religion, it’s as a result of greater ignorance of science than of faith, God, or religion.

    • Spencer Mulesky

      If you are posting under your real name, you are no recognized scientist. Instead you are a “Marketing Specialist” (you seem to be quite good at falsely marketing yourself), and an ex-teaching assistant.

      For the sake of accuracy.

      • Shawn

        So instead of addressing his point, you make a personal attack on him? Nice, way to squander your ethos.

      • Cal-J

        “You are no recognized scientist.”

        Uh huh. Because unless you show up on the first page of google, he doesn’t have to care.

      • Suzie Caldwell

        Not to mention that he is a professional author of peer-reviewed literature (if we are going by the first google hit which is a ridiculous thing to do).
        Very impressive!

      • Penny Farthing1893

        Wow, way to make a valid counterpoint. Nothing like an ad-hominem attack to show how reasonable you are…

    • The Catholic Science Geek

      Fellow Catholic Scientist FTW!

  • Melia

    My brother (who is a deist) introduced me to that website, and I’ve found it to be no more substantial than your average religious discussion on most popular websites. I think this article on says it all:

    • whostolemyinternets?

      So very fitting for this post.

      You are awarded 5,000 Internets!

  • Dan Zhang

    Great article dude, I especially like how your only rebuttal involves actions performed by people hundreds of years ago. Where’s your defense and analysis of the modern anti-science Christian?

    As you can see, there’s an extremely strong correlation between modern religiousness and a belief in Creationism. Much like how the Republican Party used to be the progressive party, religious people were pro-science hundreds of years ago. However, just like the Republican Party, things have changed quite a bit since then.

    • Tiff

      1) Science is always changing as in scientists are always making new discoveries. So to say what science as shown us (to date) is the absolute end-all, be-all is never a good idea.

      2) The Catholic Church doesn’t condemn belief in evolution. That poll only says “church attendance” it doesn’t say what church. While we do have many things that we agree on with our Protestant brethren, many times we have differing opinions on these very issues. Here’s an article that explains the Catholic position if you’re interested:

    • Brandon Vogt

      Marc’s talking about the Catholic Church in particular, not “religious people” in general. And the Church does not espouse Creationism. She also doesn’t reject Darwinian evolution, so long as it is not defined as random and unguided.

      The Church has been, is, and continues to be the world’s strongest patron of science.

    • Emily Dawn Scott

      Because the majority is always correct. Mhmm.

    • Cal-J

      “Do you, personally, believe in the theory of evolution, do you not believe in evolution, or don’t you have an opinion either way?”

      Okay, let’s be honest, crappy poll is crappy. For all the remarkable advances we have in understanding genetic drift and the associated terminology, there’s the habit of couching it all in the “theory of evolution”; and when one hears the “theory of evolution”, one may very well wonder what exactly believing in it signs you on for.

      Does it sign you onto believing, as Darwin did, that animals should be sprouting random mutations and other animal traits left and right? A billion and more transitional species halfway between rat, bat, and snake?

      Does it sign you onto believing that the universe, the tiny corner of which we inhabit already being filled with innumerable co-working parts, had the stars align in just the right formation (totally randomly) to allow one star yea distance from the sun (totally randomly) to develop living things from lifeless matter (totally randomly)?

      And which theory of evolution are we talking about, here? Gradualism (one species transitions into a new form over a veerrryyyy long time) or punctuated equilibrium (in which fully developed new species appear randomly and are replaced by further random jumps)?

      The most I get from that poll is that high school really sucks at teaching “evolution”.

      FURTHERMORE, there’s nothing about “Creationism” at all in your poll! There is one (1) offhanded comment in which the word “creation” appears, and it appears largely because the conversation MUST be about religion and not about how high school is miserable at teaching science.

      Also, just found this: “Americans who seldom or never attend church are slightly, but not overwhelmingly, more likely to correctly identify Darwin with this theory than are those who attend more often.”

      What that doesn’t point out is that “Americans who seldom or never attend church are slightly, but not overwhelmingly, more likely to” INCORRECTLY identify Darwin with a theory.

      Again, crappy poll is crappy.

      • Newton

        You cant ‘believe’ in the theory of evolution. You can only ‘understand’ the theory of evolution. Please note, Scientific Theory is not the same as your standard ‘Theory’

        • Cal-J

          Don’t tell me, tell Gallup. Their poll, their quote.

        • Tullius

          Learn English, Newton. To believe is to accept something as true, be it something that there is abundant evidence for, like the reliability of the senses, or none, like the existence of Nemesis. In both cases, “believe” means “accept as true.”

        • Sek5686

          Nope. If it’s a theory, then you believe in it, even if it’s scientific theory. Evolution is a slow, long process. We haven’t had a thousand-year long study or experiment that could prove or indisputably document the process of evolution. Therefore, it continues to be a theory that scientists believe in because of all the evidence that seems to point to the same conclusion.

          And to be clear, I’m correcting you out of respect for science, not opposition to it. The reason that science has brought so much advancement in our world is because scientists have been very precise in their terminology and what they can and cannot say. In the end, a good scientist might say that they are so confident in the theory of evolution that they would risk their life on it, however, they cannot say that it is a fact with a 0% possibility of mistake.

    • Tally Marx

      Because, you know, the picture of Church officials torturing people is just such a modern portrayal of Crhsitians…. *sarcasm*

      • Tally Marx

        “Christians” *sigh*

    • Philip

      Dan, there is a very vocal minority in the church that believes in Creationism. Neither Roman Catholicism, nor the majority of mainstream Protestant Churches subscribe to anything like Creationism. Nor is Creationism simply a characteristic of religious believers. You may want to read the following article from the Wall Street Journal:

      One can see that irrationality is not the sole domain of religious believers. Please, educate yourself from reputable sources before commenting on websites.

      • Alexandra

        That WSJ article had nothing to do with American beliefs in creationism. However, this Gallup poll does:

        ~40% of American adults do not believe that humans evolved, instead that God created them in their present form 10k yrs ago.

        • Cal-J

          And 38% believe that God guided whatever process got us here.

          • Derek Jeeter

            so then it shows the majority of americans polled to be delusional in some form or fashion.

          • Cal-J

            Ahhhhh, but here we get into whether or not God exists at all.

            So, tell me, Hot Shot, wanna go a few rounds over the existence of God?

  • musiciangirl591

    :) you make me smile, but its true, trolling the PP page is a source of misery (i would know this for a fact, i got called stupid, ugly, a waste of life, sexually frustrated, i also got told that my parents the night they conceived me should of used BC), so can we make a day for doing that please? i’m good any day ending in y, all the even and odd months, and everyday of those months :)

    • Cal-J

      I would call you sexually frustrated, too. Not much in the way of good marriage stock on university campuses, from what I see nowadays. :P

      • musiciangirl591

        i’m not sexually frustrated, and i’m only 19… so marriage is pretty much off until i graduate from graduate school

        • Cal-J

          Fair enough. Priorities are nice to see, these days.

          • musiciangirl591

            yes it is! =)

  • Emily Dawn Scott

    There are few things I have wanted more than an article on r/atheism. I am vastly pleased.

  • Patrick

    Good stuff. However, it’s worth noting that much of what Christians developed was based on the work of the ancient Greeks. Still not atheists, but also not Judeo-Christians.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      Plainly, you lack much knowledge of ancient Greek physics, and of the great works of medieval science.

      When Aristotelians, following the Ancient Greeks, told Buridan that there couldn’t be other worlds like the Earth (Aristotle believed the earth to be the only “world”, every other body being made of a different, celestial substance), he replied, “God can make as many worlds as he likes.”

      Because unlike the Greeks, nothing about this universe was sacred in itself—all of Aristotle’s silly ideas in physics followed from his belief that the heavens in the sense of “sky” were also heavens in the sense of “divine abode”. Thus, he mucked his physics up with pious pronouncements.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      And much of what the brewer produces is based on the work of the hop farmer. That does not make hop-farming the same as brewing. Greek rationality looms large in our consciousness precisely because Aristotle, Plato, Galen, et al. were preferentially copied and recopied by the medievals.

      Now, the work of the medievals was based mainly on the work of Aristotle (who was called simply “The Philosopher”) but one also finds citations of the Arabs, such as ibn Rushd (who was called “The Commentator”). However, natural science as such is not simply a congeries of odd facts and fanciful theories, any more than a house is a pile of bricks. We must not imagine that Heraclitus or Thales were doing anything remotely like what a natural scientist does.

  • DavinCreed

    Yeah, the Catholic Church is so up on science that they didn’t aplogise for what they did to Galileo until the 20th century… but that’s OK, I’m sure Galileo wouldn’t have come up with anything else even if he wasn’t punished, silenced and hidden away until he died.

    • Lily

      All Galileo did was come up with more proof of Copernicus’s theory, which the Catholic Church was fine with. He was pretty smart, but in no way revolutionary in his theories (although he was good at insulting his friend (the pope), publicly.)

      Also, I don’t think being under house arrest in a giant mansion counts as “hidden away”

      • Alexandra

        I don’t think you know a whole lot about Galileo’s works or if you really think “all” he did was provide proof for heliocentrism.

        • Cal-J

          From what I remember, he didn’t do much of providing proof for heliocentrism in the first place. Galileo’s biggest problem was that he couldn’t prove heliocentrism at all, and his attempts to do so ended up with him claiming the Earth was moved by its own tides.

          • Penny Farthing1893

            Thank you! None of his theories were backed up by observations until much later, when the necessary technology existed. The fact that he claimed he had proved all kinds of things when he hadn’t was the main thing that got him in trouble.

        • Penny Farthing1893

          She meant “all he did” as in “he didn’t do anything atrocious with his theory itself”, not “that was his only accomplishment. He did some nice thing in optics, for example.

    • Cal-J

      Galileo died in 1642.

      The first edition of his complete works of Galileo got an imprimatur from Pope Benedict XIV in 1741. When science could actually prove the Copernican theory, a new edition of the Index of Forbidden Books (1757) allowed works that supported it.

      You correctly cite the 20th century apology, but neglect to do the same for the 19th.

      “…punished, silenced and hidden away until he died.”

      I have to give you props; most people would just claim we executed him. You’ve done at least some research, though I have to question whether an honorable detention, mild reproof, and free manservant really fit in with your attempted narrative.

      • Sophias_Favorite

        I also like how DavinCreed neglects to mention that every single other Renaissance prince would’ve simply stabbed Galileo in the face, along with any of his family members who happened to be nearby, for the personal insults he offered the Pope—who, as a citizen of the papal states, was also his secular sovereign.

  • Spencer Mulesky

    There is a problem with your account of religion and with your attempted rebuttal. Wind, Water, Earth and Fire were part of ancient polytheistic religion(s), so they are certainly not representative of ReligOFF.

    Secondly, the reason that the priests were the only people making scientific advances was because of two main reasons:

    First of all, the Church and it’s leaders were the only money-havers in those days. They were the only ones who had the monetary ability to be able to afford ANYTHING really, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they were the only ones making schools/being educated.

    Secondly, their goal was the selfish and frankly unscientific goal of “making the world fit with God.” Ever since this religious people attempted to use science to fuse Christianity with Aristotle, any attempts to undo this combination have lead to burnt-at-the-stake scientists or the burning of great books. If I called myself a scientist and claimed to be attempting to make the world fit with my personal belief system, I would be shunned from the scientific community for damn good reason.

    Your attempted mockery of a “single picture telling a story” is really sad, because it is clear that religious leaders these days are not only minimal scientific contributors (the few that are religious at all practice religion second to their science). The attempted image is that we KNOW religious people, major popular religious people today, are anti-science and will attempt to stop funding for scientific projects. The anti-NASA-funding community is as strictly a religious community as is the homophobic community and the genital mutilation communities. I think that is enough to justify some flying cars.

    • Shawn

      “The attempted image is that we KNOW religious people, major popular religious people today, are anti-science and will attempt to stop funding for scientific projects.”

      Obviously you are ignorant on this subject. Check this out,

      • Philip

        And of people like Alister McGrath and John Polkinghorn, exemplary scientists that later studied theology and are both ordained priests now. Nevermind the fact that for these scientists, one cannot separate their religion from their science. Their vocations are the outworking of their beliefs. I speak of these two as of the many others who happen not to be ordained priests.

        • Newton

          Theology = Study of religious faith, practise, and experience. That pretty much makes your argument moot.

          • Suzie Caldwell


          • Jared Clark

            Because no one has the attention span to study two things!!

          • musiciangirl591

            i studied theology and that included some of the sciences…

          • Sophias_Favorite

            Dude, your username is the guy who came up with the “God of the gaps” argument in physics.

            Are you actually that ignorant?

    • Cal-J

      “First of all, the Church and it’s leaders were the only money-havers in those days. They were the only ones who had the monetary ability to be able to afford ANYTHING really, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they were the only ones making schools/being educated.”

      Kings? Princes? Associated nobles? What, were they all dirt poor?

      “Secondly, their goal was the selfish and frankly unscientific goal of “making the world fit with God.” Ever since this religious people attempted to use science to fuse Christianity with Aristotle, any attempts to undo this combination have lead to burnt-at-the-stake scientists or the burning of great books.”

      Vague and unappealing. Tell me, how did we “make the world fit with God”? This accusation would make sense if we made stuff up, but that leaves you with the burden of demonstrating what, exactly, we made up.

      Oh, and name five scientists who were burnt at the stake for being wrong by the Catholic Church. Here, I’ll make it easier: name four.

      “If I called myself a scientist and claimed to be attempting to make the world fit with my personal belief system, I would be shunned from the scientific community for damn good reason.”

      Funny, because I was under the impression that was what scienists did all the time. The scientific community is notorious, violently so, for rejecting new evidence that comes up that rejects their vague consensus.

      “Your attempted mockery of a “single picture telling a story” is really sad, because it is clear that religious leaders these days are not only minimal scientific contributors (the few that are religious at all practice religion second to their science).”

      And… what? Religion and science can’t mix unless the religious leaders take time out of their busy schedule to discover new principles of the universe? Laymen can’t? Also, how on earth would you know the rates of primary and secondary focus? What, did the latest news story only briefly mention that geneticist such-and-such attended his local baptist church? It obviously didn’t spend a whole paragraph on it, so it mustn’t be important to him?

      C’mon. Knock a little harder.

    • Inigo

      Dude, did you even read the links? To address your points, somewhat in order.
      1) There is a problem with your account of religion and with your attempted rebuttal. Wind, Water, Earth and Fire were part of ancient polytheistic religion(s), so they are certainly not representative of ReligOFF.
      I’d argue that he was representing the difference between polytheistic and monotheistic religions. Or maybe, and just a big maybe, he was having some light-hearted fun and was making a joke.
      2) Your points about the Church having the money. The
      medieval universities of the day (Bologna, Oxford, Salamanca, Cambridge, Padua, Paris) were already well established before it received a specific foundation act from the Church in 1200. Provide a link with substantial evidence, otherwise I’m going to have to dismiss your point as angsty-atheist banter.
      In regards to the point being made about the goal being selfish, the goal still doesn’t take away from the fact that the Scientific Method was originally invented by a Catholic. That’s the point Marc is trying to get across here, that Catholics were responsible for the creation of these integral scientific points. Your ignoring key points of his argument. Atheism had how many years to come up with the Scientific Method and didn’t? Why didn’t they? Marc came up with an answer that shows there was no basis of finding scientific answers UNTIL the Scientific Method was established with the basic premise that there is a God who developed the world with rational thought with logical reasons, thus science is possible. Figured if you’re going to rip on the author for being a “google-educated person”, you’d be intelligent enough to understand that Franciscan College is one of the finest institutions we have in the United States. If you’re getting your kicks off of being a Hoosier, you’ve got your priorities mixed up sir
      Can you show how Catholic institutions today are anti-science? Please, I’d love to know. Otherwise, Franciscan University, Notre Dame, Xavier, and other reputable institutions are going to laugh in your face.

    • Tullius

      Many religious people today are anti-scientism, not anti-science. Look up the difference, and while you’re at it, crack a history book from an actual historian, not a Hitchens or Harris hit piece.

      It’s also not nice or reasonable to lump all religious people into the same category as genital mutilators with no reference to time, place, culture or for that matter, their own stated beliefs.

      I was going to write more, but I see from the wall of anti-theist quotes adorning your Facebook page that you are probably a zealot who wouldn’t let the facts interfere with your ideology.

    • CPE Gaebler

      “If I called myself a scientist and claimed to be attempting to make the world fit with my personal belief system, I would be shunned from the scientific community for damn good reason. ”

      Right, because atheists never do that. Riiiiight.
      There’s a reason cosmologists objected to the fact that the Big Bang theory implied a beginning of the universe. Hint: It ain’t because the evidence favored steady-state.

    • Philip Jude

      “There is a problem with your account of religion and with your attempted rebuttal. Wind, Water, Earth and Fire were part of ancient polytheistic religion(s)”

      Actually, this is not true. The notion that the universe is composed of fire or water or air or earth or some combination thereof was first professed by the Milesians (Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes), who were natural philosophers, proto-scientists, who made little or no use of the gods. Their cosmology was not a facet of their polytheism, if indeed they were polytheists at all. In fact, it was a reaction against polytheism.

      • Sophias_Favorite

        The Hindus have the exact same elements as the Greeks; while they might have gotten them in the Alexandrian era, it’s just as likely they’re a common heritage of Indo-European thought.

    • Empedocles

      No, the four elements are part of Pre-Socratic philosophical systems. Nice try, thought.

    • QDefenestration

      As to your only the church could fund stuff remark: Tycho Brahe says hello

  • Alexandra

    I used to really enjoy your blog, but now that you’ve taken to just making fun of atheism and secularism in the most arrogant way possible, I’m totally over it.

    • Cal-J

      Thank you for dropping by. We’ll miss you.

    • Shawn

      So are you leaving or not?

      • Alexandra

        No, not yet anyway. I wasn’t flouncing, as super classy as flouncing is (can someone invent a sarcasm font?). I still like bickering in the comments section, but I really dislike his articles. I used to actually like reading his articles because there was some kind of wisdom in there, but this is just juvenile and insipid.

        • Cal-J

          Put the sarcasm in Html italics. Or maybe bold italics, since just italics can be used for emphasis.

    • CPE Gaebler

      Because he totally said that r/atheism is representative of atheists in general.

  • Dan Zhang

    Nice echo chamber in here guys. I like how you deleted my post even though it was well-argued and contained supporting evidence with links for my claims.

  • Zofia Kaminski

    Normally, while I agree with many of your points, I am not a fan of your rhetoric (just not my style). However, this…this was absolutely hilarious!

    Hats off to you, good sir.

  • observer

    r/atheism is more focused toward the closed minded, bible banging people who reject science and equality for everyone due to lack of education or just being generally hateful. having said that a lot of their posts are pretty dumb like the spaceship flying by sky scrapers. not a bad post but i think ur missing the point.

    • Tom

      Regardless of what r/atheism is more focused to, it doesn’t change the fact that 90% of their posts are about bashing religious people and their beliefs (or what they think are their beliefs). I think we can all agree that no matter how irrational and incredible someone elses’ religious beliefs (or lack thereof) seem, that doesn’t give anyone the right to mock them.

    • Sek5686

      You can say that they’re focusing on a sub group, but that’s not what they say. They say “religion” and “religious people,” which refer to much broader groups. If I say, “The world would be better off without Islam,” then I have insulted every Muslim, even if I was focusing on radical Islamic terrorists. Likewise, if I say “White people are stupid,” then I insult all white people, even if I’m just focusing on the uneducated, hillbilly, swamp-dwellers that are mentally retarded. In fact, I believe the words “stereotype” and “prejudice” are often used to describe just such actions and attitudes.

    • Sophias_Favorite

      That’d be like saying is more focused toward Black criminals than on hating black people in general. Since the whole premise is the assumption that the negative examples are typical, it is not a valid defense.

  • Jay Elenion

    Ha!! I knew you were a redditor!! /r/Catholicism ftw!!!!!

  • Thom Bombadil

    Marc, thanks so much for this post – its publication was unbelievable well-timed for me. I can get really really depressed if I spend too much time talking religion online or with non-Catholics. This did wonders to cheer me up. God bless ya.

  • Starman

    yes, here is a great example of religions “science”

    You of course ignore the burning of scientists at the stake for little things like claiming anything that was contradicted in the bible such as the world being round. You cant skirt around history and try to spin it your own way. This has been the stand of religion and science vs real science:

    • Kyle

      all hail warlock science.

    • Tom

      Sir, you have posted absolutely no evidence to support the claims in your picture. If the Catholic Church really did decree that the beaver was a fish, please, show this to me. A funny little picture with absolutely no source for its claims that from the bowels of the internet does not constitute evidence. Surely, as someone who espouses science, such as you do, would know when something is considered evidence for a claim, and when it is not.

      I’m not even addressing your other picture, as it also proves nothing, because, once again, it isn’t evidence for anything.

      Try harder, friend.

      • Starman

        Again, you of course would not do something as simple as searching Google for “Catholic church beaver”. Heck… Its even on the Wiki page for a Beaver. But you want to live in your bubble. No need to try harder, its so easy. But again, here is another great example:

        • Tom

          Sir, that is not how it works. You do not make claims and then make ME go look for research. YOU make the claims, YOU provide the research. YOU made the claim, by posting that picture, that the Catholic Church considered the beaver a fish, YOU should provide the evidence (how easy would it have been to actually include a link to said Wikipedia article?). That’s how rational debate and discussion works.

          Addressing the beaver claim, the ruling was made based on the arguments of St. Thomas Aquinas, which classified animals not based purely on anatomy, but more on habit, i.e. how they live. Beavers, spending a large time in the water, could be classified as an aquatic creature, and thus, not be subject to the prohibition of meat on the Fridays of Lent.

          You can agree or disagree with this if you like. That’s fine. However, I think your main objection to the beaver thing is that, because the Church wasn’t EXACTLY following science by classifying the beaver as a mammal (Which it did. It was only saying that the beaver was a fish in the context of Lenten definitions of meat), it is irrational. Are you saying that the Church OUGHT to EXACTLY follow scientific law? Why? Even if you believe the Church is wrong, that doesn’t mean you get to dictate Her beliefs. By the same token, the Church could dictate to scientists what they should or shouldn’t believe. And aren’t you all about how science and religion can’t co-exist? If that is the case, then don’t try and tell the Church how it should form its teachings.

          Once again, cute pictures from the internet does not a rational argument make.

          • MatthewBowman

            I’ll also quote from The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, by Ian Mortimer. This books is by no means kind to the Church (if at the same time not unkind either, simply stating facts from a secular and very British but still fair perspective).

            “Seals, porpoises, dolphins, barnacle geese, puffins, and beavers are all classed as fish as their lives begin in the sea or in a river. Hence they are eaten gleefully, even on nonmeat days. Medieval knowledge of the fish _at sea_ [emphasis in the original] might be limited — the chronicler Thomas Walsingham believes that dolphins can fly over the sails of ships — but once landed, and brought to the kitchen, they are perfectly understood.”

            Never, ever make the mistake of attributing modern sensibilities to older centuries. The peculiar modern obsession with accuracy is just that: both peculiar and modern.

            Granted, I say that out of my own obsession for accuracy, but that by no means makes the point less sound, simply more ironic. Taxonomy is by no means something to expect out of the minds of those who lived in past centuries, no matter which religion they professed. Why would they bother? They knew what was most useful to their lives, and had no time for that which wasn’t. It is only in the modern age, with its excesses that allow the masses the ability and luxury of spare time, that allows us to care about things not directly applicable to our daily survival.

          • CaraAlSol


          • Penny Farthing1893

            In the Middle Ages the idea of taxonomy was different than it is today, although that was when the modern idea of taxonomy was developed. They weren’t saying a beaver was exactly the same type of animal as a fish, just that beavers and fish were both the same category – water-dwelling animal. Which is true, if somewhat vague. The specific incident with the beaver, and also, in the New World, the capybara, was to give poor people a break during Lent, so they could get some protein into them. They were being helpful.

    • Contra Mundum

      Regarding your second picture… Did you not read the article? The Scientific Method was made and refined by members of the Catholic Church.

      I applaud you, Starman. You have just proved the point of the Marc’s article.

    • Sek5686

      Is that really the game you want to play? Ok, I’m in! But only if I get to play by the same rules. So, I’m just going to post a link and say that science is an invalid way of looking at the world because it once held beliefs that we now find to be ridiculous. I will not offer any further explanation or any historic or philosophical context, and I certainly won’t take into account that the scientific position may have changed since the 1600s.

      And this is why you can’t use modern scientific standards to judge the past.

    • CPE Gaebler

      “You of course ignore the burning of scientists at the stake for little things like claiming anything that was contradicted in the bible such as the world being round.”
      AHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!! Guys, we have a genuine Flat Earther here!!
      (By Flat Earther, of course, I mean someone who believes the utterly false and hilarious theory that the Church actually taught as dogma, at any point, that the Earth was flat. Not only that, but that the Church actually burned literally anyone at the stake for believing otherwise.)
      I feel like I just walked downstairs and ran face-first into a dinosaur. A dinosaur that was trying, just really TRYING, to figure out why 1+1 does not equal 11.

    • CPE Gaebler

      Your first image is especially silly because Linnaean taxonomy didn’t even exist until the 18th century.

    • Penny Farthing1893

      Give one example where the Catholic Church burned a scientist at the stake. Go on, I’ll wait.

    • Renee

      The world was accepted as round since the early Greek philosophers. The notion of a flat world was part of ancient Mesopotamian mythology. If your actually interested, you can look it up.

  • MatthewBowman

    I made a similar point back when I attended Christendom College and wrote my Old Testament paper on the development of modern science being only possible in a culture with the teachings of the Bible. Even Islam couldn’t do it as well as Christianity and Judaism (though actually, all you need is the Old Testament so Christianity’s main contribution was in organization and application), because Islam actually teaches that X happens because “insh’Allah”: God wills it. The great Islamic natural philosophers were more often than not considered at least borderline heretics, because their theories suggested that God operates under limitation. Even a self-imposed limitation was (and is) too much for most imams.

    The same was actually true of many Christian theologians and natural philosophers, actually. There was a backlash against some of the results of codifying what we think of as a scientific method, because it meant that natural philosophy had to be re-designed. Ironically, Bishop Tempier of Paris, in the 13th century, is credited with condemning some parts of natural philosophy in a manner that wound up encouraging actual science. I say it’s ironic because the bishop reacted in a manner similar to the Islamic objections, namely condemning limitations on God; and yet his specific complaints re-affirmed that God DOES place limits on Himself, and that the limits are voluntary, uniform, and not necessarily according to the theories of man.

    In addition to actual heresy (such as denying that Adam and Eve ever existed, or that time has a beginning and an end), the Condemnations of 1270 and 1277 effectively stated that God’s universe is a reflection of Himself, in that it is ordered and abhors chaos and arbitrary behavior. For example, the Condemnations specifically stated that if God wanted a vacuum to exist, it would exist. The bishop even went so far as to say that definitively teaching that there is only one universe is an unnecessary limitation on God, and that speculation on other worlds should not be prohibited. (In the terminology of the time, a universe and a solar system were effectively the same thing; so one could say that Bishop Tempier was the great-great-many-times-great-granddaddy of the Spelljammer Campaign Setting. Yes, I went there.)

  • MatthewBowman

    Buridan’s postulation is actually really cool to read, and another thing I snuck into a paper in college (this time a history paper).

    “God, when He created the world, moved each of the celestial orbs as He pleased, and in moving them he impressed in them impetuses which moved them without his having to move them any more…And those impetuses which he impressed in the celestial bodies were not decreased or corrupted afterwards, because there was no inclination of the celestial bodies for other movements. Nor was there resistance which would be corruptive or repressive of that impetus.”[9]

  • Jay E.

    LOL well said as always. I think you should do a post about how nearly all atheists’ objections to Catholicism are some sort of straw man.

    • Alexandra

      That’s not at all true. With the Catholic Church, more so than any other faith system, because of the existence of a hierarchy and catechism that clearly outlines the beliefs typical New Atheist objections to the Church are to real Catholic teachings.

      Obviously I don’t claim to speak for all atheists, but my own objections are to things that are definitely part of the Catholic faith.

      • MaggieMelchior

        Glad to see you’re still around Alexandra! I would agree with part of your argument, (that because the catechism outlines things so distinctly it’s easier for a non-Catholic to debate our beliefs). I think this is a strength, actually. Because many of our Catholic beliefs (especially moral ones) are based on Natural Law as well as the deposit of faith (bible, catechism, etc), there is more room to dialogue with atheists.

        Back in my evangelical days, it was frustrating that my only answer to an atheist’s objection was “well the Bible says so.” Which doesn’t hold water with anyone who doesn’t accept the bible as inspired by God. As I was learning more about Catholicism, I was so relieved, because not only did the church allow for scientific thinking (like the examples cited above), but so much of her teachings weren’t just based on “bible only.” Creationism, for example, was a huge issue for me at my evangelical church in college, because I was studying evolutionary biology. When I read Catholic writings that accept a non-literal reading of the Genesis chapters (other than the “original man and woman who committed original sin” piece) I was thrilled and relieved.

  • Ben of Two Men

    I highly recommend a book called “How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by
    Thomas E. Woods Jr. It’s enough to make an grown athiest cry.

  • Padrebarnes

    When I think of the New Evangelization and a strong defense of the Faith, I think Bad Catholic.

  • Mary Liz Bartell

    Quite Logical of you, thanks, I love my religion. Catholics rule the scientific method! Poor Dawkins and Hawkings just miss the big elephant in their universe that is, the WHO made that Bang happen, who initiated the spark of life? It’s not a what happed as much as it is God is who happened. And not to say that Our Creator can make that all perfectly clear to them when they die? If only they didn’t try to out think, out ego, out create science without Him that gave us science to begin with.

  • John

    Thus, to share with you my joy, I’ve decided to begin sharing the Best of the Internet Atheists, may they live long, prosper, and bear much fruit. Here’s my choice for today:

    (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t cunningly make that myself.) Because, as you know, religion is the only reason we don’t have crowded air traffic systems! And if it wasn’t for Jesus our skyscrapers would be taller! And the Star Wars universe would exist! And the sky would be that sexy yellow! That darn Catholic Church was too busy torturing scientists to establish the university system, or to create the Scientific Method, or — oh, wait.

    That’s right, the Church did those things.

    Hahahaha so true!

    Thank you!

    God bless

  • Alejandro

    It also should be noted that it was a catholic, Petrarch, that ended the Dark Ages, and fostered the Renaissance. He is also consider the father of Humanism, which is something atheists love. Also Leonardo Da Vinci was a catholic and also contributed to science. And don’t get me with islamic society. They helped create algebra, developed medicine, physics, optics, etc. Though I do contend with something. Christianity being a monotheist religion regarded all the other religions as wrong, so they destroyed and burnt alot of books of knowledge from pagan societies, having been lost forever. For example while it wasn’t the entire fault of the church, mayan texts and codices were burnt and several were lost, to the point that we don’t know alot from them. And she also forbid books that considered harmful, which were obviously detrimental in many ways. There’s a reason why the French revolutionarians hated the church. She tried to ban the Encyclopedia for example. All in all, religion did alot of good but also alot of bad at the same time.

    • MatthewBowman

      Actually, the Church has consistently tried to SAVE the books of pagan cultures. Most of the lost knowledge of pagan societies were among pre- or semi-literate societies that didn’t bother committing oral traditions to writing. Some societies were more successful than others (such as the Irish) thanks to particular factors. In the rare cases of actual book-burning, it was either from overzealous converts (or conquerors, but that was even rarer) or from simple ignorance (“Hey, throw another bunch of papers with those ink squiggles on the fire.”).

      You mention the Mayan codices. This was one of the above-mentioned rare-of-the-rare instances of a conqueror burning what was seen as idolatrous evil, thanks to horror over human sacrifice (not as prevalent as among the Aztecs, but the latter made the overzealous and rather illiterate Spaniard explorers a bit jumpy). The Catholic priests and monks along with them not only prevented unneeded bloodshed, but also saved some of the codices and over the following years committed many of the local tales to writing.

      The translation of the Mayan written language would have been difficult even with the few instances of written-on-bark pieces that had been found, even if none of them had been burned. The only ones who knew any of it were the Mayan priests, who I think could be forgiven for being somewhat . . . uncooperative. :)

      All that being said, the Catholics’ efforts to write down the oral tales of the Mayan people were a large part of the eventual translation of their written language in the last few years. If not for that, we would have no basis for comparison.

    • Penny Farthing1893

      Some encyclopedias were written by saints…..

  • CaraAlSol

    Jajajajajajaj (that’s how we laugh in spanish, J’s instead of H’s :P )

    This topic is the same one as the one I was studying today in Politica y Ciudadania at high school.WITH THE SAME EXPLANATIONS.
    I shall ask my teacher if he got something from here ;P

    Its’ funny you know, that many people accuse and put the blame on the church of today problems because S.Development wasnt “fast” enough during the middle ages, when in fact, the Church didn’t condemn scientific development at all. What people fail to perceive are two facts regarding the “Middle Ages”:

    1-The printing press was not available, thus, spreading information and keeping it was a total pain in the arse. Which also leads to the explanation of the famous question (silly acusation): “HURRR DURRR, WHY DID THE CHURCH KEPT ALL THE INFO IN THE MONASTERIES/ABBEYS, THEY WERE DRUGGIN THE PEOPLE TO BE IGNORANT HURR DURR!”

    which, also, leads to:

    2-Scientific development was (is) like a functional graph. You start from the bottom and then steadily go up BUT the line is not rect, rather, it’s like a plane take-off (shitty explanation, but that’s all I got right now). You start very, but very slowly, then, as the engines gain power and you get off the runway, you start to gain height, while all this happens, the engines gain more power, thus, gaining more height.
    Mathematically, it’s like this:
    0.1+0.2=0.3; 0.3+0,2=0,5 and so on and so on.

  • Mnp

    In my country, the priests number among the most well-educated. (They have to learn Latin, for one thing, and are often afforded high positions in the academe.) And I buy that throughout history, priests have contributed a lot to science.

    But at the same time, they do promote a certain rigid thinking, especially when it comes to questions like contraception, sexuality, or evolution and cosmology. Comes with the territory, I guess.

    This post and some of the comments/rebuttals are a little too simplistic. And also, looking at history is one thing, but looking at current events is another matter entirely. This idea that intelligent design should be taught in science class is really, really stupid, whether or not you believe in God.

    • Alejandro

      It’s a good thing ID doesn’t have anything to do with catholicism.

      • Mnp

        Yeah, my Catholic mom told me the Genesis was a metaphor. Catholics just like to pick and choose which parts of the Bible fits their world-view. My beef with Catholicism as a religion is less about their impact on science, and more about the still-ongoing sexism and homophobia that the institution promotes. Although, I am sure there are Catholics who don’t buy those parts of the Bible either.

        • MatthewBowman

          Catholicism doesn’t “pick and choose” parts of the Bible.

          The Church doesn’t promote sexism or homophobia. I can only imagine that the first accusation is about the priesthood while the second arises from a confusion of a sin with bigotry.

          And yes, sadly, there are many cafeteria Catholics.

          • Alexandra

            The Church absolutely promotes homophobia. Encouraging Catholics to fight against marriage rights for all is incredibly homophobic. Teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful is homophobic. The Church may say that they love everyone, but cannot accept their sins, but when their sins are homosexuality hating their sins is homophobia.

          • Guest

            A starter for understanding the Church’s teachings on marriage and sex–the human body as man as the human body as woman
            Please don’t do this:
            Church = ignorant people in the Church–includes even preachers at the podium, obtuse teachers who teach their own personal intelligence–but don’t do much faith education.

          • Tom

            What is homophobia? An irrational fear of homosexuals, no?

            How is it fearful of homosexuals to say that their actions (homosexual acts) are sinful?

          • Mnp

            I guess one would be speaking from a position of hate, and the other from a position of condemnation and moral superiority. Not really seeing much difference, thanks.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            “This act is wrong” is a statement that is either true or false, and has no connotation of moral superiority on the part of the person who says it.

            If a man on death row for multiple murder says you shouldn’t steal, is he wrong?

          • MatthewBowman

            Again, your prejudice is clouding your judgement. (Perhaps this would be Christianphobia, by your definition?)

          • Alexandra

            Prejudice implies ignorance or making a judgement based on something that isn’t true. The reasons that I dislike Christianity are because of what I know about it’s central teachings. Prejudice isn’t exactly the right word for my views of the Church. I know that the Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, and I dislike the Church for that. That’s an informed position, not a prejudiced one.

            A phobia in a more social sense refers to a prejudice and hate, not necessarily fear the way it does in a clinical sense. So it isn’t entirely accurate to say that homophobia is an irrational fear of homosexuals the way that Tom did.

            Hating the sin of homosexual behavior and attempting to deny people civil rights in a secular society is homophobic no matter how you try to spin it.

          • MatthewBowman

            Actually, prejudice is literally a pre-judgement, a judgement formed without taking care to fully understand the facts.

            In this case, you have formed a judgement about the Church based on the fact that it teaches homosexual acts are sinful. You don’t care to explore why or listen to arguments about it, or even to tolerate it as a differing opinion.

            You are obviously prejudicial about Christianity in general, and certainly about the Church. Your numerous posts on this page have proven that you not only have little knowledge about the Church, but you also have no interest in distinguishing between fact, fiction, and even individual Christian denominations.

            I suggest you consult the nearest dictionary and ascertain whether you want to use the standard English language, or one with your own personal definitions.

            In addition to the dictionary, you might also want to consult the DSM-IV on the clinical definition of a phobia, including a social phobia. It is, in fact, an irrational reaction out of proportion to a given stimulus.

            The word you’re looking for is not “phobia,” but “bigotry.” It’s a state of being that you seem quite acquainted with yourself, though you obviously don’t want to admit it.

            Further, why is it so sinful, in your regard, to protest against a proposition of civil rights? Or are you confusing civil and human rights? Marriage is a civil right, not a human one; there is no human right to copulation, much less marriage, the latter of which requires the existence of either a social or religious construct to become meaningful.

            In the social construct, marriage is therefore governed by law. In a republican or democratic social construct, laws are enacted by vote, and to one degree or another swayed by popular opinion. If popular opinion is not included, the social construct ceases to be either republican or democratic (note the lack of capitalization, and yes there is a difference between the two forms of government) and has become autocratic. If you are arguing that one area of the population should not be heard from, then you are denying not only a civil right but arguably a human right to have one’s opinion heard.

            In the religious construct, a marriage becomes a ceremony primarily between those being wed and whatever deity they profess to worship. In that case, the rules for said marriage are bound with the rules for said religion. In a religious construct, therefore, outside interference with said rules is also a violation of civil and arguably human rights.

            The truth that you want to deny is that the Catholic Church is not against a social construct marriage between two homosexual persons. In point of fact, the Church’s only stance on this subject in the political arena is and has always been that the Church should not be forced to recognize or support sin as anything other than something to be avoided.

            It is you, instead, who are attempting to force others to accept a standard of life contrary to their beliefs.

            You speak of rights, yet deny them to others. You deny that you are prejudiced or bigoted, yet your very stance of irrational and disproportional hatred to the Church, on a subject that you clearly have no desire to understand, proves otherwise.

          • Alexandra

            I went to 12 years of Catholic school and tried very very hard to believe and be a Catholic. I really wanted to be a Catholic, but it is completely hateful and illogical and I had to let it go.

            I’m not ignorant on this subject at all, you’ve just decided I am because I don’t see it exactly the way you do.

            Not all opinions are valid or deserving of respect. A recent study showed that 60% of Mississippi residents believe that inter-racial marriage shouldn’t be legal. Their opinion is hateful, and if we respected it and gave them a voice in our law making, people would be denied their civil rights.

            The rest of your arguments aren’t really worth arguing about to me because you’ve clearly already formed an opinion of me and adhere to a completely different definition of prejudice and homophobia. That’s where the our problem lies and I doubt there’s any give for either of us on that topic.

          • MatthewBowman

            Really? I think you’ve got the numbers on that poll backward. Source:

            If Catholicism is “completely hateful and illogical,” then how do you explain, let’s see . . . pretty much the foundation of the metaculture you live in, popularly known as “Western Culture”? It’s intricately tied with Catholicism in origin. I guess Western culture is also completely hateful and illogical.

            If not all opinions are valid or deserving of respect, how shall we go about deciding which is good and which is evil? You claim that Catholicism is evil; what is good?

            On the other hand, you said this isn’t worth arguing. That’s fine. You can leave any time.

            Unless of course you LIKE it here. Perhaps, deep down, you want to come back to Catholicism?

            *imitates zombie stereotype* Jooooooooooinnnnn uuuusssssssss . . . .

          • Mnp

            I’m sure the Catholic Church contributed a lot to Western Culture, and I find parts of it beautiful but it doesn’t mean other parts are not hateful and illogical. It’s a little hard to explain some things to people who are still drinking the kool-aid. Sorry if I come across like a troll. I tried being respectful and understanding, but it seems more and more futile. I’ll just leave now.

          • Ben Dunlap

            Careful — marriage is “from the beginning.” I don’t know if that makes it a “human right” but it certainly does not require either state or religion to validate it or make it meaningful. Natural marriage is prior to both church and state, in many senses of the word “prior”.

            And I think it’s precisely for this reason that the Church is so vigorously opposed to civil redefinitions of marriage.

            The point of the Church’s opposition to “gay marriage” is not homophobia at all, nor is it even free exercise of religion — it flows rather from a firm conviction about what marriage is, and the fact that neither church nor state has the power to change that.

            In the Church’s view, the term “gay marriage” is a contradiction in terms — a lie — and it does no one, least of all children, any favors for the state to tell lies about marriage, which is the foundation of civil society and any sort of meaningful culture.

          • MatthewBowman

            No; marriage is indeed from the beginning, and the first established sacrament, and the only sacrament which has as its entire purpose something independent of Original Sin. That, however, does not make it a human right.

            In Catholic terms (or in the terms of the Founders and Framers), a human right is something that exists in natural law. Much of natural law is grounded in human rights, but that does not mean all of it becomes a human right.

            A human right is something that exists in and of the human person, by him- or herself, in and of him- or herself. There are three basic human rights: the right to one’s life; the right to one’s freedom; and the right to own property. These can be said to give rise to other rights, though it is just as accurate to say they are part of the same rights. For example, the right to freedom also includes the right to freedom of movement, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression.

            They also impose limitations. The right to own property is necessary in order to gather food and shelter, but it directly results in the abrogation of any perceived right to someone ELSE’S property. The two cannot exist at the same time. If you have the right to someone else’s property, then you have trespassed on something fundamental.

            Of course, that point of conflict also means primitive contracts. I’m not referring to Hobbes’ state of nature, mind you; he didn’t accept the idea of natural rights. Locke, on the other hand, did; and he got the idea directly out of Catholicism.

            Once you have more than one human in the picture, you have the basis for a society. The smallest building block of a society is the family; it is the most intimate form of society, both literally and figuratively. The basis for that social block is marriage itself.

            Marriage is therefore not a human right, but a social one. In reality, it’s a religious right; in Alexandra’s reality, it is entirely a civil one (though I suspect she considers it a human right, as do most leftists; modern liberalism confuses individual identity with social constructs, so it’s to be expected that the nature of a human right would become degraded).

            Whether it is religious or civil in nature, it is a social construct, and only has meaning as a social construct.

          • Ben Dunlap

            Alexandra, are you familiar with the Church’s reasons for teaching that homosexual behavior is objectively wrong (not “sinful” — that word implies subjective culpability)?

            I suppose this is a bit OT at this point, but I’d just like to mention that homosexuality is not being singled out here. The Church teaches that there is a “narrow way” within which sex is wonderful — and /any/ sexual activity outside of this narrow way gets the moral axe. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church for 2,000 years and homosexual activity is really not a big focus of that teaching at all — it just happens to be a hot-button issue right now in North America and Western Europe.

            At any rate I can understand why someone might not be thrilled about this narrow way at first glance, but it’s pretty rich and life-affirming when you crack it open and examine it. This will probably sound like a cliche but it’s precisely because the Church loves all people and wants them to be happy in this life that she has be uncompromising about serious moral issues. The truth is the truth is the truth and the Church can’t change that, as painful as that may seem at times.

            BTW I also went to 12 years of Catholic primary and secondary school and I want my money back (well, it was my parents’ money, but you get the point).

          • Alexandra

            I’m aware of the other teachings about sexual deviancy, and I think they’re awful as well.

            Someone had just stated that the Church isn’t homophobic, which is clearly untrue, so that was the reason I was addressing homosexuality in particular.

          • Ben Dunlap

            But are you familiar with the reasons that underlie the Church’s teachings on sexual morality?

          • Alexandra

            Yes, and I disagree with the logic.

          • Ben Dunlap

            @Alexandra, can you say more? What are your principles of sexual morality? Everyone draws the line somewhere — even if only at something obvious like man-boy love or marriage to multiple horses.

          • Mnp

            Why don’t you enlighten us? I’m sure the Church promotes a healthy sexuality for its followers. Because that’s clearly important to them.

          • MatthewBowman

            Actually, you’re the one who brought the subject up in the first place.

            Yummy, yummy troll for dinner!

          • MatthewBowman

            As to that last paragraph: I was tempted to make the same point, but not knowing the specifics I figured it was best ignored. In my case, I’m a convert and didn’t get that cradle-Catholicism, good or bad. Fuzzywuzzy religiosity doesn’t grab me; logic does, and I didn’t get any religious logic growing up. Just the fuzzywuzzy, and even that was mostly non-Catholic.

            So instead, I got four years of effective on-the-job training at one of the toughest schools in the world, playing catch-up to my classmates and wondering how my GPA would ever survive.

            I wouldn’t trade THAT for anything.

          • Alexandra

            I’m really not sure what point you were making there, but I feel like it was something about the quality of education at Catholic schools.

            Mine was superb. It definitely prepared me for college and helped me develop logical thinking. Which is probably part of the reason it ended up being pretty liberal Catholicism, because you really can’t create truly rational and free thinking individuals by insisting on the truth of all of the Catholic dogma.

          • musiciangirl591

            liberal Catholicism? thats not true Catholicism honey

          • CPE Gaebler

            Is this the sort of thing you have elsewhere in this thread referred to as an “attempt at a civilized discussion?” If so, I can see why Shea et al have little patience with you.

          • Alexandra

            Are you saying that calling people out on their hypocrisy citing real real examples isn’t part of civil discourse? I guess it’s abrasive if you read it with an abrasive tone, but that wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t mocking or stooping to name calling, I think it was civil. I’m sorry if you don’t.

          • CPE Gaebler

            I’m afraid I don’t understand. Who did you say was being hypocritical and how?

          • Alexandra

            That’s okay. We don’t have to agree.

          • MatthewBowman

            NICE way to duck the issue!

          • CPE Gaebler

            … What?
            I’m not saying we have to agree. I’m saying, please explain to me where you were saying someone was being hypocritical.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Seriously, please explain what you meant. I was responding to this post:

            “The Church absolutely promotes homophobia. Encouraging Catholics to fight against marriage rights for all is incredibly homophobic. Teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful is homophobic. The Church may say that they love everyone, but cannot accept their sins, but when their sins are homosexuality hating their sins is homophobia.”

            Who were you calling hypocritical exactly? You called them “homophobic” according to some unstated definition of the term, but not “hypocritical.” Unless you think the Church is not being loving in telling people they’re doing something wrong and harmful when they believe those people are doing something wrong and harmful?

          • CPE Gaebler

            I cannot find my reply to this, nor your reply to me, for some reason.
            At any rate, my reply was not particularly thought and I refine it thus.
            You do yourself no favors if you lump many different behaviors with the same word, “homophobia,” and acting as if they are all thus morally equivalent. I am not certain that is what you or doing, or if it is if you are aware of it, but I do hope you are aware that:
            1) Thinking homosexual acts are sinful, and hoping that those who perform such acts will be convinced to stop doing so and instead pursue the greatest good, that they have the best life attainable here on this Earth AND a pretty kickass afterlife too,
            is not as bad as:
            2) Thinking homosexual acts are disgusting, and anyone who does them is disgusting, and hoping that people who do them won’t touch me because ewwww,
            which is not as bad as:
            3) Thinking homosexual acts are terrible, and anyone who does them is terrible, and hoping that people who do them will die screaming,
            which is not as bad as:
            4) Thinking homosexual acts are terrible, and anyone who even wants to do them is evil, and hoping that they go to hell to scream in agony forever.
            I would say that it is fair to call the latter three “homophobia” and to be offended by anyone who shares those views. You expand the definition to include number 1 as well, but insist on applying the moral outrage to people who hold those views.
            Now, there are two possibilities. You could honestly think that number 1 is bad any any Church which teaches it is bad. Or you could have merely reasoned thus:
            Views 2-4 are homophobic.
            Views 2-4 are bad.
            Therefore, homophobia is bad.
            View 1 is also homophobic, because I say so.
            Therefore, view 1 is bad and everyone who believes it is a homophobe.
            I submit that it is unfair to put all four views under the same word and treat them all with the same moral outrage, because there is a qualitative difference between view 1 and the other 3. Namely, that view 1 is characterized by hoping good things, indeed, the best things, for the individuals in question, whereas views 2-4 are malicious at worst and callous at best.
            But if you really wish to salvage any sort of moral outrage, I challenge you to explain why view 1 is awful without using the word “homophobia.” Because even if homosexuality WEREN’T sinful, I don’t see how the Catholic position would be any more awful than telling someone not to drink alcohol because it’s bad for you, or telling someone that there’s a car about to hit them when there actually isn’t.

          • Mnp

            You’re just splitting hairs. Do you really think shaming gay people about their sexuality is a good thing? (Or shaming people about their sexuality, period: another Catholic specialty.)

            Maybe you’re not personally homophobic, as per the definition you are using, but by treating homosexuality as a sin, isn’t the effect the same? Besides, there are so many Catholics who say they believe # 1, but act more like #s 2-4. Also, “greatest good”? “best life”? What does that have to do with homosexuality?

          • CPE Gaebler

            Are you suggesting that people shouldn’t say the truth because other people might be ashamed? I don’t buy it.

            “by treating homosexuality as a sin, isn’t the effect the same? ”
            …. No? It isn’t the same?
            What exactly do you think “treating it as a sin” entails?
            Also, just so you know, it is the action that is the sin. “Homosexuality” is not a sin, it is a disorder that makes one inclined to commit sinful actions. See this post from a gay Catholic:

            “Besides, there are so many Catholics who say they believe # 1, but act more like #s 2-4.”
            So there are Catholics who do not do what the Church teaches they are supposed to do. Big surprise.

            “Also, “greatest good”? “best life”? What does that have to do with homosexuality?”
            In case you weren’t aware, sinful actions aren’t just something a big bearded guy in the sky finds icky, but are also harmful to the people involved. Thus the Church teaches that homosexual activity is not just sinful, but also not conducive to human flourishing – something that is wished that all people would attain.

          • Sophias_Favorite

            And characterizing beliefs you disagree with as arising from a mental illness—which is what a phobia is—is Stalinist.

            Give me “phobias” any day of the week over that, thank you.

          • Mnp

            Uh, yes, it does. Unless you tell me you really believe everything the Bible says… even the parts that clearly contradict evolutionary theory, even the Noah’s Ark story. Or maybe you believe the whole thing is real, but you pick and choose which parts to follow, because clearly some instructions are dated. (Not shaving for instance…)

            It doesn’t? Then why are women treated as men’s property in the Bible? If that isn’t sexism, what is it? The natural order of things?

            Homosexual acts are an abomination to God. Leviticus 18:22
            If a man has sex with another man, kill them both. Leviticus 20:13

            So the Church considers homosexuality a sin, but they’re not bigots? Isn’t the result the same? The Church makes them ashamed of being themselves. Now that sounds more sinful to me.

          • Tom

            So homosexual acts completely define who a person is? A person’s desires are what defines what kind of person they are and what is morally right or wrong? By that logic, it is wrong for people to make serial killers feel ashamed of themselves, since they’re just being themselves.

            You overlook perhaps the most critical teaching of Catholicism: The emptying of oneself for the glorification of God, through serving others. This includes, but is not limited to, emptying oneself of the desire for worldly goods, emptying oneself of sinful sexual natures (which are NOT limited to homosexuality: It includes any disordered sexual desires), emptying of the ego, etc. The Church teaches that one is closest to God precisely when they have the least (Jesus was closest to God when he was on the cross: when he had nothing).

            The Church does not make homosexual ashamed of having homosexual desires anymore than they make heterosexuals ashamed of lusting after another person (Which the Church doesn’t do. The tell them their desires are disordered (but not sinful in and of themselves). If telling someone that what they are doing is wrong is considered bigotry, then you yourself would be a bigot for telling the Church Her teaching on homosexuality is wrong).

    • MatthewBowman

      All systems of belief necessarily impose some form of rigidity. Belief X describes Tenant Y, which contradicts and therefore precludes Proposition Z. If X = True / then Z = False.

      For example, we can see in this comment thread that the belief system “Atheism” describes the tenant “Religion is only for the stupid” and therefore the proposition “Some members of a religion might be intelligent” would have to be false.

      I do want to point out, though, that the Catholic teachings on contraception and sexuality are moral in nature, not scientific; that is, describing behavioral codes rather than simple physical properties. Therefore, that counterexample is irrelevant to this discussion.

      Further, I know of no cosmological rigidity to Catholicism, save perhaps that some atheists insist that there is no evidence for a beginning to the universe (which is in contradiction of observable evidence, most particularly found by studying the nature of entropy).

      On evolution, there exists a slight rigidity, but either these have no bearing on scientific study (such as the tenant that God exists and started the process), or are borne out by observable evidence as well as the evolutionary theory (the human species is descended from one common male/female ancestral pair). The closest one comes to a true conflict arises when one tries to prove the existence of evolutionary chaos, usually in an effort to combat Intelligent Design (which particular theory very few Catholics, and none in the hierarchy, promote in the first place).

      • Alexandra

        No one said that religion is only for the stupid. That is just something some people throw around, not the dogma of the non-existence Church of Atheism.

        Religion does apply some odd restrictions on science. Like the idea that miracles can happen. Science says humans don’t have virgin births, resurrections, driving out of demons or anything else that is described in the bible or elsewhere. Religion requires accepting that these miracles, which we know through science could not have happened, really did happen. That kind of throws a wrench in the scientific method. When miracles are feasible, then what is to say that things that we can’t explain yet aren’t miracles?

        You can’t do science properly if you believe that it is possible that the model that you use to describe things can be disrupted by a deity.

        The Catholic bending of science that comes to mind is transubstantiation. If it really does become the body and blood of Christ, shouldn’t there be some physical change? Shouldn’t we be able to apply our normal science to it to show that? The answer is we can’t, and therefore science is restricted because it apparently doesn’t work. Catholicism says that it has been transformed, but science says it hasn’t, and Catholicism requires that we accept the teaching that it has.

        If the results of scientific inquiry are subject to being falsified simply because we believe it to be untrue, we’ve really messed with scientific thinking.

        • MatthewBowman

          I’ll assume you’re referring to yourself with that first comment and not to other posters here or on Reddit.

          A miracle is, by definition, something that is unexplained by physics. Ergo, even if miracles happen, they happen in a manner that presupposes and REQUIRES physics; else why would a miracle be a miracle? It would just happen, like everything else just happens.

          Many things have happened, and have been documented as having happened, with no scientific explanation. These are termed miracles. Were they supernatural in origin? That is up to belief. Science cannot confirm belief. It cannot also prove a negative; some things that have been documented as miracles have later been reexamined and had doubt cast upon them, sometimes with certainty that there was a mundane, physical, completely-natural cause.

          Examples of miracles include the incorrupt bodies of saints and the Eucharistic Miracle of Bolsena. (I’ve personally witnessed both. Scientifically fascinating.)

          A rather spectacular POSSIBLE miracle is the Holy House of Loreto, which according to legend is the house Jesus grew up in. That sounds rather mundane, except that Loreto is in Italy. The legend states that when Muslims captured the Holy Land, angels took up Christ’s earthly home and deposited it in a place of safety. If you think this to be highly improbable, you’d be right; and the Church is actually quite skeptical about such things, and rarely proclaims something so extraordinary. The interesting thing about this house, however, is that it shows absolutely no sign of having been constructed on the spot, or even taken apart and moved by hand. The mortar that holds the stones together even contains insect eggs and carcasses unique to the Holy Lands, and nothing of the surrounding Italian ecology. True miracle? Maybe — but a mundane explanation is not scientifically impossible. Just very, very improbable, almost as improbable as the legend itself.

          As for transubstantiation, that has been proven as well. While it contains the accidents (technical term for “superficial traits,” which I’m sure you know but others might not) of bread or wine, its substance is changed. Testing that under a microscope is rather difficult, but I can prove it personally.

          You see, my mother developed acute seliac in 1998. Since then, she has been unable to consume anything containing gluten without becoming violently ill. When she is hospitalized for whatever reason, invariably the nursing staff gets the first meal wrong (no matter how forceful we are about it), and even a taste has made her sick for days. Recently, after about two years of successfully avoiding gluten entirely, she accidentally ate a bite of my lunch while my back was turned, and even though she spat it out after realizing what it was, wiping her tongue with a paper towel, and rinsing with water, she was still sick for three days.

          And yet she can receive the Body of Christ without any ill effects.

          If transubstantiation is not true, then my mother would be unable to consume the Eucharist. It would be simply a wafer of wheat, which of course contains gluten.

          If it were simply a placebo effect, then she would not have become sick in the first place, as she spent nearly three years suffering from the disease before it was finally identified. (Note that this was 1998, well before gluten intolerance became a matter of mainstream knowledge and gluten-free prepared foods were labeled as such. Seliac is still quite rare and doctors — and all scientists — always start with what is most likely.) During that time, a sandwich or a pizza would make her ill, but it takes nearly a day for the symptoms to show, so we could never identify a particular food.

          I still remember, quite clearly, the shock I felt when I suddenly realized — about a year after my mother’s diagnosis and her eventual stabilization (she’s never fully recovered, but that’s neither here nor there) — that she “ought” to be getting sick from Mass.

          I never needed evidence for transubstantiation, unlike the priest at the center of the Miracle of Bolsena; but I had it, and I witness it every time I take my mother to church.

          If you wish to observe it as well, you need only ask. I live in Silver Spring, MD, and we attend St. Michael the Archangel in the same. We normally attend the 7pm Mass on Sundays. The odds are against you being in the area, but if that ever changes, look me up.

        • Tom

          To say that miracles violate the natural order is arguing in circles. You’re saying that miracles violate the principle, according to science, that miracles don’t happen. You’re begging the question.

          Furthermore, just because miracles happen doesn’t mean the scientific method is moot.

          For example, consider a doctor who is treating a cancer patient for a very long time. One day he discovers that his patient has absolutely no trace of cancer in him. It’s completely gone. Confused, the doctor (who is, of course, by nature, a scientist bound to the use of the scientific method) runs a whole slew of tests. He checks for every possible explanation as to the seemingly miraculous event. He follows all the prescriptions of the Scientific Method in his testing. He finds out that the patient was cured after visiting Lourdes, and bathing in the pools there (which are said to have miraculous properties). He goes there, tests the water in the pools for every possible substance or phenomena that might explain his patients healing.

          After using the Scientific Method for many, many tests, and without finding an explanation, the doctor is forced to admit that AS A SCIENTIST, he can find no plausible EMPIRICAL explanation for what has happened to his patient.

          Furthermore, upon visiting Lourdes, he becomes moved by the faith of those who come to bathe in the waters, as well as being moved by the new-found joy and charity in his cured patient. He is so moved, that he comes to believe, AS A PERSON WHO IS ALSO A SCIENTIST, that God did specifically intervene in curing his patient and that no description that left God out would be adequate.

          Notice, that through this whole thing, the doctor/scientist did not come to disbelieve in empirical explanation. He didn’t stop being a scientist. He simply acknowledged that empirical explanation has its limitations and believed that, in this case, the true explanation transcended them (empirical explanations).

          • Penny Farthing1893

            Interesting example, as it is very close to life. Alexis Carrel, the scientist who, along with Charles Lindbergh, invented the perfusion pump for use in organ transplants, witnessed something at Lourdes. Keep in mind that he was probably an agnostic, was definitely a eugenicist, and had no use for religious ideas of morality. He was a surgeon in France, and was an attending physician on a train with pilgrims to Lourdes. One patient had tuberculosis in most of her internal organs, and Carrel doubted she would survive the train ride. She was cured at Lourdes. Carrel, being a properly open-minded scientist, said he had no explanation for the event, and wanted to study it further. That was all he said – not a statement of faith, just curiosity. This admission got him blackballed from every institute of medicine and/or medicine in France. It’s one of the reasons he continued his research in America. Unlike the scientist in your example, Carrel never did come to believe anything at Lourdes. But the scientific establishment in France was obviously worried that he might.

  • Greg

    been waiting a loooong time for someone else to comment on this. I go to reddit everyday to look at funny pictures but find myself constantly surrounded by atheists who make ridiculous claims and attack pretty well just Christianity because they grew up in suburban America. Whenever you try and explain this sorts of things to people you get laughed at because you’re using actual facts

    • Alejandro

      Debating religion in the internet is the worst thing you can do. It’s just a waste of time and an effort in futility. Sorry, meant Christianity and Islam, because those are the only two religions atheists tackle on.

    • MissHansen88

      You know, when I am feeling discouraged and fearful, I visit one of these atheist sites. I see the arrogance, hopelessness, and general unhappiness of it all and am usually consoled by the teachings and the Love of the One True Church.

  • MissHansen88

    Dear Bad Catholic,

    Sometimes, you are my voice in the wilderness. PLEASE keep at it. You rock.


  • Escriva Fan

    “If however, laws come from a lawgiver, and we are made in the image of that lawgiver, then the Universe explodes with possibility.”

    Pretty much the reason I am Catholic :) Freedom through order and rule. Can’t experience freedom any other way honestly.

    • jerry148

      Because, as my Christian Morality teacher once put it, “freedom….doesn’t actually mean ‘freedom’. In society, we are ‘free’, but we are still very much bound by the laws which we make”.

  • The Catholic Science Geek

    This made me cry a little bit…TEARS OF JOY! Thanks for putting a good word in for those of us who love science and religion. This may rank as one of my favorite posts do date! Keep them coming!

  • Jsofio87

    well written! AGREE, AGREE, AGREE

  • Emily B. Pell

    I am somewhat ashamed, but mostly happy to admit that this quote made my day,

    “It hurts to even mutter the heresy, but Science didn’t spring forth from Richard Dawkins’ ass. ”

    Thank you. I also feel myself irritated with New Atheism..but you’re right, laughing is a better way to handle those feelings.

  • Alexandra

    Matthew, you’re right. I did get the numbers wrong. It was ~60% of Mississippi republicans believed that interracial marriage should be illegal, and ~40% of everyone surveyed.

    You’re right, these are serious questions that need to be asked about what constitutes as good and worthy of respect. I really enjoyed Sam Harris’s book “The Moral Landscape” and his neurological and sociological arguments. Perhaps I am just ignorant, but I don’t think that his approach to defining morality would be contrary to Christian teachings as it is about what creates the most well being for the most amount of people. Even if you believe morality comes from God, it doesn’t seem incompatible with the criteria Harris uses.

    As an atheist I do not believe that any sort of religious dogma holds any claim to having special knowledge of morality. All we can really know, IMO, is what increases human flourishing. Denying people the right to form a civil union with a person they love, or labeling their physical relationship with that person as deviant decreases human flourishing. Empirical evidence shows us that a stable and loving family structure is what is important, regardless of who makes up that family, and therefore I find it heinous to try to limit what we legally recognize as a family based on anything but the emotional health of the family unit.

    There really are just some topics that aren’t worth addressing. It ends in a lot of frustrating headbutting. I really do like talking about the ones that aren’t in that category, and I like the majority of the people who comment on this blog. I don’t have plans on leaving, but that is not because I still wish I was Catholic. It’s because it is really fun and educational for all us to talk to people with very different views and having grown up Catholic, this is a topic that I’m comfortable discussing.

    • CPE Gaebler

      I note that, personally, I would not feel particularly impelled to respond at all to a poll on interracial marriage. To me, interracial marriage is perfectly fine, there isn’t to my knowledge much of any effort at all to restrict it in the US, so it is simply not an issue worth working up any steam over. I suggest that since it has had so little recent media exposure (to my knowledge), people who think it should be banned may be disproportionately more likely to respond to such a poll in the first place, since it is much more likely that they actually care about it at all. If I had to guess, many of the people who didn’t respond may not have ever met or even heard of a single individual who disapproves of interracial marriage. I certainly haven’t.

      • Alexandra

        That wasn’t really my point in bringing it up. The point is that there ARE people, and a lot of people, who believe that it should be illegal. It’s shocking and perhaps not entirely accurate of the general population, but the fact that more than one person even responded that way is meaningful and speaks to that no, not everyone’s opinion is deserving of respect or consideration in lawmaking.

        • Tom

          If not everyone’s opinion is deserving of consideration, who gets to decide which opinions are worthy of consideration? You? The liberal media? Congress? Doesn’t it seem rather arbitrary?

          • Alexandra

            It does if you say it like that, but when you say it like that I’m not sure why anything that the Church has to say is any less arbitrary.

            There are people who study human and civil rights and the Constitution, and we have a system of government that is influenced by, and made up of, those scholars. Definitely not my field of expertise, but human rights is not a purely arbitrary decision.

          • CPE Gaebler

            Nor is the Church’s policy arbitrary. There are people who study human nature, human flourishing, and Natural Law, and there is a Church that is influenced by, and made up of, those scholars. Definitely not my field of expertise, but virtue and sin are not arbitrary decisions in the least.

          • Alexandra

            I didn’t say the Church’s moral code was arbitrary. I was saying that there is nothing that sets the Church apart that makes its idea of morality any less arbitrary than a secular view of morality.

          • Tom

            Well, that’s because you (I presume, from your rhetoric and arguments) work from the assumption that morality is in and of itself, arbitrary (i.e. moral relativism). Of course, when you hold such an assumption, then of course the Church’s morality seems arbitrary. But also, by the same token, secular morality is also arbitrary. Which one, then, should we use?

          • Alexandra

            Well in America, we’ve decided to strive to use secular morality since it doesn’t so preference to any one faith tradition. You can’t really have religious freedom for all if your legislation is influenced by religious ideas, especially if it is the religious ideas of the majority.

          • Tom

            Again, it’s not a practical question, it’s a question about the principle of the matter. If secular morality is just as arbitrary as religious morality, why should I follow secular morality over my religious morality? Why should I follow ANY morality, if they are all equally arbitrary?

            Note, I am not saying secular morality is wrong, just that, if it is arbitrary, then why OUGHT I follow it? Why SHOULD I follow a set of arbitrary rules? Of course, like you said, this also applies to the Church’s morality (From your point of view, at least. The Church believes that She teaches objective, not subjective, truth).

    • Ben Dunlap

      I think Catholics would say that by and large morality comes from God only indirectly, insofar as he is the creator/designer of all that is. More immediately, morality comes from observable reality. Things have a certain nature and purpose, which can be known, and in theory can be known without recourse to Scripture or tradition (although this can be pretty tough, which complicates the issue), and we deduce certain moral limits from our understanding of the nature and purpose of things.

      There are some topics where this is pretty obvious and uncontroversial — take alcohol, for example. Because of what it is and what it does when consumed, it’s kind of important to use it responsibly.

      Sex on the other hand is not so obvious, and it’s obviously quite controversial. So set that aside for the moment. I think it’s striking that you used the term “human flourishing” because the only other contexts I’ve ever heard this phrase in are in very traditional/orthodox Catholic circles. It’s what we all /think/ we’re aiming at with ethical codes, etc., and to that extent at least I suppose we should all try to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

      I do think, though, that a well-grounded Catholic would have to reject the idea of “most well being for the most amount of people” as a basic principle of moral/ethical reasoning. Apart from the practical problems this raises (how exactly does one calculate these things in any reliable way?) it seems inevitably to lead to decisions where the end justifies the means.

      But the Church is quite convinced that some actions are just wrong, always and everywhere — and no amount of forecasted good can justify direct intentional wrongdoing. And I do tend to suspect that almost everyone subscribes to this idea to some extent — just a matter of where you draw that “always wrong” line. How about female genital mutilation? Child rape? Nuclear warfare? Does anyone actually hold, in their deepest convictions, that there is no action that’s just plain morally out of bounds, period, end of sentence? I really doubt it but maybe I’m quite wrong about that.

      • Alexandra

        I think the issues of what is moral in sex and sexuality is much more simple than you think it is. If you do not hold any religious ideas about what is good, and simply observe what is healthy, normal, and does not cause people harm, it’s pretty simple.

        Of course a purely utilitarian approach to morality isn’t complex enough, but it’s a good starting point for talking about it. There are definitely things that are always wrong, but these things are backed up by reasoning instead of religious dogma.

        This isn’t a topic that I am able to talk very eloquently on, I’m definitely not a philosopher, but there are real differences between saying something is wrong because of what you have observed and a priori believing something is wrong because of the fact that it is dogma and then explaining why based on what is observed. It’s definitely a biased way to approach things. If it really is wrong, even people who do not know the Church’s stance should be able to reach the conclusion that it is wrong. In my experience, that just isn’t the case.

        The things that the Church holds as always wrong that I disagree with, such as homosexual behavior, are not backed up by empirical evidence, only religious dogma. I find ignoring the empirical truth and continuing to assert dogma to be heinous. Perhaps you don’t agree with the word, but I think it’s appropriate.

        Obviously a lot of this is arguing from my own experience and isn’t backed up by a lot of hard facts, but I think the bottom line is that evolutionarily we are caring and social animals and we are capable of discerning what is best without religious teachings. And when religious teachings disagree with what we find through our own reasoning, those religious teachings that the things that are flawed and trying to push otherwise is not moral.

        • CPE Gaebler

          “I find ignoring the empirical truth and continuing to assert dogma to be heinous.”
          Ignoring which empirical truth, specifically?

        • CPE Gaebler

          “If you do not hold any religious ideas about what is good, and simply observe what is healthy, normal, and does not cause people harm, it’s pretty simple. ”
          Of course, you have to get your ideas about what is healthy, what is normal, and what causes harm from SOMEWHERE.

    • Ben Dunlap

      One last thought before I cut myself off for the night — on whether the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage is “heinous”.

      I think I can understand where you’re coming from. If one’s moral/ethical framework is based on some form of utilitarianism or consequentialism then yes — one embraces what social science suggests will maximize overall happiness. (Frankly this /still/ seems fairly shaky to me, especially in the area of same-sex couples raising children, where the available data is so minimal, but maybe I’m not giving social science enough credit or maybe I’m just misinformed).

      But as I tried to get at above, utilitarianism is just not where the Church is coming from. The Church thinks that marriage and sex have a knowable nature and purpose, and that behavior which works against or contradicts this nature and purpose is wrong — and “wrong” in this context is just shorthand for saying that in the long term such behavior is incapable of contributing to deep and lasting human flourishing.

      In this way of thinking, it is even more wrong for the state to enshrine in law a denial of the nature and purpose of marriage and sex.

      Thus from a Catholic perspective, opposition to same-sex marriage really has nothing to do with fear — it’s rather impelled by a deeply held conviction that law and truth need to go hand in hand if law is to serve /its/ purpose of promoting and protecting the common good.

      Non-Catholics are certainly free to disagree with, and debate, the Church’s understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage and sex (and in fact I think that would really be the only fruitful way to discuss this topic in any depth), but to label as “heinous” the practical conclusions that follow from the Church’s understanding is, I think, to fundamentally misunderstand the Church, which sees her own mission as nothing other than the promotion of long-term human flourishing.

      Popular misconceptions, bad runs, and human failures notwithstanding, the Church at her best is precisely about facilitating our achievement of the promise of Jesus in John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

  • Jacob Neeson

    Here’s an article about why Catholics love Einstein. Just thought you’d enjoy this Marc and others.

    • SavannahRob

      I suppose that’s why he was inundated with hate mail from Christians for opposing the idea of a personal God. Probably also for his support of socialism. By the power of the Church, we retroactively approve of Einstein forever!

  • SavannahRob

    Yes, religion is responsible for all of our modern miracles. Thanks, Christians!

    I realize that r/atheism is only mentioned to make fun, but if you spent more than a few minutes looking for things to poke fun at you’d realize that that subreddit is increasingly disliked by everyone on Reddit for many of the reasons you list. Try r/freethought, perhaps.

    Try, also, to realize that many of the posters on r/atheism are young and still learning how to think as much as what to think. Many of them have spent countless hours being indoctrinated into the Church’s bizarre teachings. Often, r/atheism is the first outlet they’ve really had where they can sound out new ideas without being slapped down. One doesn’t jump directly from mindlessly parroting someone else’s opinions to thoughtfully articulating one’s own.

    As ridiculous and repetitive as r/atheism can be, I’d bet you and many of your readers could still have interesting discussions there. On average, I’d wager that they know Scripture better than the ardent pew-warmer. On the other hand, I’ve read a few of your posts now and I see that your general “discussion” tactic is about as refined as it is there. So I wonder when will Catholics start referring to Bad Catholic as a sad, stereotype-reinforcing circlejerk in the way that many atheists speak of r/atheism.

    • CPE Gaebler

      One notable difference is that Marc did not paint large swathes of people who disagree with him with an enormously broad brush. The r/atheism crowd says “Religious people, and Christians in particular, are teh stupid dum dums.” In this article, Marc said “r/atheism has a lot of teh stupid dum dums, like this one in specific, which I will single out for my mockery.”

      The other notable difference is that Marc actually knows his arse from Thursday.

      • SavannahRob

        From the front page today. I’m not subscribed, so I only see things like that when I happen to be logged out but it’s certainly not the first time. So, some people paint with a broad brush, but clearly not Marc only the people who disagree with him. Got it.

        Could you find an example in Marc’s writing where he compliments atheists or people of another faith, or at least implies that they aren’t all evil nihilistic monsters out to destroy all that is good and right in the world? I haven’t been reading long, so I’d appreciate the help.

        What I love about Christians is how different they are. It’s that sort of thing that just makes me want to know what it is they know that I don’t.

        • CPE Gaebler

          From the front page today.
          You’re welcome. ;-)

          • CPE Gaebler

            Curses! I know not how to insert hyperlink like you did. Are you a wizard, sir??

          • SavannahRob

            Sorry, no, I also deny wizardry. :) You have to type out the A tag for links.

            “Why I believe” boils down to “Jews were terrified of God, I’m terrified of Jews, therefore Christianity”. I’m not really sure why he’s terrified of Jews or how that’s a compliment but- look! – a smiling Jewish child!

            I guess it’s not the kumbaya moment I was hoping for when I saw your reply, but it’s something.

          • CPE Gaebler

            The point, as I understood it, was that the Jews were solidly grounded in reality and willing to change their lives in reaction to the God they’d encountered. In other words, he’s “terrified” of the Jews because they were way better at religion than he is.

          • SavannahRob

            He’s terrified at the Jew’s ability to do religion better- not at all sure I understand the use of the word “terrified” here- but parts ways to make significant modifications to their understanding of God. I’m still not sure I see the compliment in all that.

            The beliefs of most (all?) religious adherents are shaped by similar realities, meaning “things that happened according to the designated keepers of the faith”. I’ll try reading through it another time or two and maybe ask questions there. Thanks.

        • Catholic biblical student

          I really hate to agree with you, because I probably couldn’t be more different from you, but I do agree with your last statement. When Christians fail to show love, and to be loving, to our fellow Christians and to our fellow man, then we fail. We’re all growing, and failure is part of the process. But Christians can and should strive to love better and more than we do.

          • badkungfu

            Oh, I bet we’re far more alike than you think. The primary reason I’m wary of religion is because I feel that it encourages us to feel like we’re different- that there are ‘others’ who are utterly different from us.

            You’re right, though, all of us can practice being more loving. It’s not natural (not for me, anyway), but I think the thing that sets humans apart is our ability to examine our own motives and act differently than our selfish, tribal, survivalist natures.

          • CPE Gaebler

            I don’t know what you mean by “utterly different.” Christianity teaches that all men are utterly the same, in that all are sinful and need repentance. The “difference” is that some repent and seek forgiveness to greater degrees than others. Thinking that believers are a sort of special class that are just totally better than everyone else is actually rather frowned upon. We’re not supposed to view those outside the fold as Others who are Terrible, but as darkened and needing enlightenment.

        • Guest

          Read this

  • Angela Pea

    *grin*…you just made my day.

  • AngelaJoyce

    I can’t believe the number of comments to this post!

  • Guest

    “It hurts to even mutter the heresy, but Science didn’t spring forth from Richard Dawkins’ ass.”

    *SNORT…hack…cough…choked laughter…sputter*

    This line is worth several million dollars…you made my day man :)

  • Christie

    Those types of trolling photos don’t leave you a sadder man? I’m always left feeling disillusioned about the collective ignorance of society. So much of the (a) in your list!

  • Montague

    My favorite atheism poster shows Thor with his hammer and says “Your god was nailed to a cross. Our god (!?) has a hammer. Any questions?” to which the obvious reply is:

    Dragon kill Thor. Jesus kill Dragon. After dying. Duh.

    Oh well.

  • Bioengineer

    The author, Marc, is highly ethnocentric:
    “The question must be asked: Why was it the Christian West that developed in empirical science and the scientific method? Why not in China? India? Why not ancient Greece or Rome?”

    It’s well known that Indian, Chinese, and Arab mathematical and scientific achievements predate those of Christian scientists. Here in the Western world, we don’t learn much about them; Europeans wouldn’t have liked to admit they weren’t the first to discover what they did, as anyone, and our tradition of ignoring non-European achievements continues.

    For example, Copernicus wasn’t the first to think of heliocentrism. Many non-Christian scientists around the world had much before. A quote from the ancient Indian Yajurveda : “The sun strings these worlds – the earth, the planets, the atmosphere – to himself on a thread.”
    Another of many example, the Ancient Roman scholar Galen’s physiological texts were used well into the European Scientific Revolution, undisputed. They were even used into the 1800s.

    The scientific method is a prescribed form of logic. Earlier scholars used the scientific method without it being prescribed. In fact, we use it in our lives without thinking of it as the scientific method. It’s not a thing that was invented by Christian scholars. It’s logic.

    So in no way can the author attribute the rise of science to any kind of Christian thought. Scientific thought existed well before Christianity and was demonstrated independently among non-Christian peoples well before Christianity.

    It’s a fact that Christians participated in science. It’s wishful thinking that it was because of Christian monotheism:

    “Not only did Atheism have absolutely nothing to do with the creation of Science, it could not have created Science. For its answer to the question, “why does the universe appear to obey laws?” can only be “It’s just how it is.” ”

    “It’s just how it is” is more of a theistic response than atheistic, as God can be slapped upon all natural phenomena as an explanation.
    An atheist would respond “It’s just how it is” if he/she neither believed in God nor felt science could rationally explain it. But most mainstream atheists logically conclude that science can explain everything, as science has been explaining the natural world acceleratedly and with ever surmounting proof.

    Atheism is incorrectly capitalized, btw. Absence of religion isn’t a religion. (just like how the boy said cold isn’t real; it’s just the absence of heat)

    Anyhow… who even claims that atheism created science?? Why is the author making an argument against this?
    Neither is atheism a product of science, nor is science a product of atheism. They’re entirely different ideas.
    It is true, however, that atheists are often so because they choose not to believe in things that lack evidence, and so they adopt the standards of science in order to decide what they believe–which is whatever explanations of the world that have the most evidence for them. Because those beliefs are based on evidence, they’re not truly beliefs, but rather logical conclusions. However, atheists can potentially choose not to believe in gods for other reasons that I don’t know. Christian scientists can practice science because of these choiceful reinterpretations and because the Bible doesn’t strive to explain things at the depth most scientists study, and so there are few contradictions. They separate their profession from their beliefs.
    So religious preferences, atheists or theist, have nothing necessarily to do with science, the body of empirically-acquired knowledge and empirically-established theories.

    Let it be known that I’ve never used Reddit or ever blogged. And I was a humanist for the same reason as I am now before I came to know anything of Dawkins.
    And my reason is that I choose not to blindly believe in things, but rather come to logical conclusions based on evidence.

    • Obliged_Cornball

      I know I’m about a year late on this, but bravo sir.

      • theofloinn

        Well, save that he conflates engineering and mathematics with natural science. They are not the same things. Until recently, advances in engineering were achieved by tinkering, and science back-filled the explanations. (China demonstrates how advances in technology can be achieved without any concept of natural science.) Mathematics deals with the certain deductions from idealized postulates, not with inductions from empirical experience.

        And a metaphorical passage from Yajuraveda is not even a heliocentric mathematical system, let alone a heliocentric physics. (Otherwise, explain why no one in India was doing heliocentric astronomy centuries later. Ditto for the Pythagoreans. Jonathon Swift gave Mars two moons in Gulliver’s Travels, but we don’t credit him with their discovery.) Heliocentrism was not established scientifically until there was empirical evidence of the dual motion of the earth, and that came in the 1790s with the demonstration of Coriolis effects by Guglielmini (Earth rotates) and in 1803 with Calendrelli’s demonstration of parallax in a-Cygni. (There was also a more remote demonstration in the 1730s with Bradley’s observation of stellar aberration.)

  • Alexandra


    Here’s a link to a letter in Nature about atheism among scientists and NAS. I can’t find a real source for the 93% right now, though I swear I’ve seen one before. I need to find a source if I want to keep quoting that one! Anyway, this Nature letter shows consistently over half of NAS being atheist at different polling times. Atheism is generally at 10% in the general population. NAS is representative of the best American scientists, and the best American scientists are mostly atheists.

    • Alexandra

      Ah! I see it! In that article:

      “This year, we closely imitated the second phase of Leuba’s 1914 survey to gauge belief among “greater” scientists, and find the rate of belief lower than ever — a mere 7% of respondents.”

  • Bill_Hallahan

    Pot, kettle, black!

  • James Romaine

    Remember atheist/agnostics don’t have a place to congregate. We lack a place to come together, to share ideas and meet new people who share our common belief. Some sites over the years have had strong atheist communities but when reddit sprang up it quickly became something else. It is easily the biggest secular message board in the world, and for some people it really is the only place they get to share their thoughts. R/Atheism can be a massive circlejerk sometimes, but don’t knock it. The last graphic also eliminates all credibility you had.

    • JoAnna Wahlund

      “The last graphic also eliminates all credibility you had. ”

      Because….? I hate to break it to you, but your credibility isn’t exactly stellar when you make a statement like that but give absolutely zero evidence as to why your statement is valid.

      • Alexandra

        Well, I mean I got what he meant. You don’t always have to explicitly lay everything out for a point to be valid, or even well supported. And if you present yourself humbly, without acting like you are “breaking” something to people, I don’t know why you don’t have credibility.

        What is wrong with that graphic is pretty obvious to me. Marc is the one making an extraordinary claim without any compelling evidence. There’s a lot of different ways that you can argue the point he is making in the graphic, and you have to qualify what you mean by the Church, by the scientific method, and by developing. In a very narrow sense, Marc has a point. But in a broader, and more historically accurate way, no it’s entirely false.

        Marc’s graphic is no more informative or correct than the one he pulled from reddit to tear down. In a very narrow sense that reddit graphic is very true and has a poignant message, but if you’re going to really think about it, and analyze it for it’s real meaning, it completely falls apart.

        • CPE Gaebler

          “There’s a lot of different ways that you can argue the point he is making in the graphic, and you have to qualify what you mean by the Church, by the scientific method, and by developing.”

          Which he did, in the rest of the post. The Catholic Church taught that since God was rational, the universe was rational, and encouraged people to study how it worked.

          Please do elaborate on how it “completely falls apart” and “in a more historically accurate way, it’s completely false.”

  • S.O. Michael

    “This was helped by the use of Islamic philosophy, which holds a similar view” No, it very expressly doesn’t. Islam holds that it is blasphemous to limit Allah’s powers by assuming set laws or limits in the created order. Allah is seen as totally sovereign and free to change “up” to “down”, “black” to white” and “good” to “bad” as and when he wishes. This idea is present from the very beginning of Islam (in the Koran), runs as a constant through the first 500 years of Islamic history and is finally set in stone by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1128) in his enormously influential, “Incoherence of the Philosophers” which was the major factor in the “closing of the gate of Ijtihad”, i.e. the end of individual speculation, discussion, theological and scientific debate and exploration outside the bounds of Islamic clerical consensus (ijmah of the Ulema).

  • S_o_Michael

    “This was helped by the use of Islamic philosophy, which holds a similar view”. No, it very expressly doesn’t. Islam holds it blasphemous to limit Allah’s power by assuming rules, laws and limits in the created order. Allah can change “up” to “down”, “hot” to “cold”, “black” to “white” and “good” to “bad” whenever he pleases. Allah is totally sovereign. This is present from the very beginning of Islam (in the Koran), runs as a constant through the first 500 years of Islamic history and is finally set in stone by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058 – 1128) with his enormously influential, “The Incoherence of the Philosophers”, one of the main “bolts on the gates of Ijtihad (individual questioning and debate in Sharia and theology)”. Unlike Christianity, Islam held that trying to find underlying and unifying principles and laws in the material world was, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, blasphemous, anti-Islamic and punishable by death.

  • S_o_Michael

    Duh, sorry, I thought the first posting had vanished into the ether, hence the repeat.

  • Raul De La Garza III

    Musical notation. Yep, the Church ‘had an app for that’ too, cf. Guido D’Arezzo.

  • Nicole Resweber

    “It hurts to even mutter the heresy, but Science didn’t spring forth from Richard Dawkins’ ass.”

    Well that made my morning. :)

  • Alexandra

    Tom, I guess I’m confused as to what you’re asking, but I’ll try and respond. Philosophy isn’t my strong suit, and I don’t claim to have anything but a decently informed opinion about this, so please keep that in mind. I don’t know what I think exactly in terms of morality being objective or subjective, but there do seem to be universals truths that we know as humans. Some things appear to be objectively wrong, like murder or rape. The more subtle, and typically the things that aren’t corporal, moral issues like are hard to discern whether you think it comes from God or whether you think it is simply a human decision.

    I just don’t see the difference whether we’re humans trying to discern what God wants, or if we’re humans trying to discern what is the most moral decision. They’re both subject to human error, but we have a sense of fairness and goodness that helps us find what the most moral decision is.

    Mentally and emotionally healthy human adults can typically agree on what promotes human flourishing and that human flourishing is preferable. People follow rules, arbitrary or objective, because they care about living in harmony and working towards the common good. You OUGHT to and SHOULD follow the rules because they promote your happiness and the happiness of others. Clearly it’s more complex than that, but it works in practice.

    I don’t follow Church teachings that don’t promote human flourishing because I think that they’ve made the wrong call. I think that the Church’s morality is just as arbitrary because it is just as subject to human error as secular morality is.

    • Tom

      I see where you are coming from.

      I’m glad you say there does seem to be certain universal truths, and that human beings do have a sense of fairness and goodness. I previously assumed (looking at your previous arguments and wording) that you ascribed to the notion of moral relativism. I was wrong for assuming that, and I apologize.

      Yes, one should follow said rules because they promote the happiness of oneself and others. This is precisely what the Church teaches: that the teachings of Christ and His Church lead you, not just to happiness, but to the FULLNESS of happiness in this life, and infinite joy and eternal life after earthly death.

      Addressing your other point: As one of my engineering professors once said “If you say ‘Well, we could have had human error here, and a calculation error there, and some more human error here’ then your whole experiment is meaningless!” We’re still left with the old dilemma: if the Church’s morality is just as subject to human error as secular morality is, what makes secular morality better? Who is to say that it is, in fact, secular morality that “made the wrong call”, since it’s just as subject to error?

  • MarylandBill

    There are (at least) two different types of atheism; atheism and Atheism. The latter doesn’t seem to understand that it has its own articles of faith and is therefore at least a belief system if not a religion itself. I will share a few of them.

    1. Though shall monitor religious blogs and if anyone mentions atheism in any way, though shall swarm that blog.

    2. Religion and religious people never contributed anything positive in the history of the world ever. This is especially true of Christianity, and doubly so for Catholicism.

    3. If anyone shows that anything positive seemed to emerge from the Christian world, try to show how it really didn’t or did despite the church or that it already existed somewhere else.

    4. Religion is the source of all evil in the world, even the evils performed by atheists. No matter how it is shown that human nature is flawed and prone to violence, deny it has anything to do with our flawed beings and everything to do with believing in a religion.

    5. Attack anyone who questions whether your atheism is a belief system.

    6. Attack anyone who questions the atheist conception of reality.

    7. Attack anyone who exposed the Atheist articles of faith…

    Oh wait… Oh well… :)

    • Alexandra

      I really hope that you don’t actually believe that. It’s a pretty fair hyperbolic stereotype of a New Atheist, but it’s definitely just that.

      The only point I’ll challenge you on is calling atheism a religion. A religion deals with faith and/or the supernatural. You just can’t say that atheism is a religion because it doesn’t include either of those things. New Atheism is a belief system, yes, but none of the things you listed are actually the beliefs that New Atheists share, and calling it a religion is just trolly and inaccurate.

      Seeing as New Atheism mostly exists on the internet, clearly there’s a fair amount of talking on religious blogs. I wouldn’t say swarming, and honestly would you prefer if New Atheists didn’t bicker on the blogs? I’d happily stop if Marc asked me to, but I’m of the impression that the dialogue is welcome.

      • MarylandBill

        Alexandra, if its a hyperbolic stereotype, it is one encouraged by many of the New Atheists themselves, and certainly no more hyperbolic than the rhetoric often used by some New Atheists. In fact I have seen blogs not just here, but many other blogs, including blogs hosted by Catholic news papers swarmed the moment atheism is mentioned. I have seen at least one post in this very thread trying to claim very hard that the Scientific Revolution was not unique to the West and therefore the Church can’t be credited with it.

        • Alexandra

          I’m not sure what your point is about science and the Church. Claiming that the Church is to thank for as much of science as Marc seems to claim is just as ridiculous saying that it isn’t responsible for any of it.

          I don’t know why people think that the Church should or shouldn’t be credited with science. People are to be credited for their contributions to science. Sometimes those people happened to be Catholic, and sometimes they happened to be funded by the Church, but it wasn’t the Church that did the work or developed the knowledge, it was the people.

          These days when scientific achievements are made we don’t credit the US government because the scientists were US citizens or because they were funded by the government, we credit the people who did the work. Maybe other people see it differently, but it’s all a matter of perspective and semantics.

  • Robert Hagedorn

    Google First Scandal.

  • Billy Bean

    I feel so totally ripped off by my public school education.

  • TychaBrahe

    Hang on a second. First, many of the groups responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire were Christian. The Visigoths, for example, were Arians. The Church was also responsible for prolonging the Dark Ages, which is what happens when you forbid the common people to read even their own holy book, a tradition which the Catholic church continued up until Vatican II. Yes, there were people holding onto knowledge during that time. Most of them were Irish monks. There were also church leaders burning texts they felt contradicted the Bible. Don’t credit all of Christianity with the work of a few.

    Second, your graphic is inaccurate. Aristotle, who came up with the four elements idea, was a religious man, albeit not a Christian one. That would have been pretty difficult, seeing as he lived over 300 years BC. In addition, the belief in those elements continued for almost two millennia, long after the Church could have changed it had anyone had a better idea. (And Democritus was the first person to suggest what we would now call atomic theory, that tin has an inherent tin-ness because at some infinitesimally small size, it is made up of bits of tin, whereas gold is made up of bits of gold, which make it different from tin.)

    Now, many of your statements are indeed true. Much early science was done by religious people. However, since pretty much everyone was religious back then, that’s hardly a salient point. You might as well claim that there were no Protestant priests engaging in preserving scientific knowledge as the Irish monks were doing. It’s not like there were atheists sitting around outside St. Thomas’s Abbey indulging in carnal delights and eating babies while Mendel was inside cross-breeding plants. Further, with the conditions for most of human history, only the wealthy and the clerics had the free time necessary to devote to scientific research. Everyone else was pretty much involved in back-breaking labor for as many hours as there was light, which left precious little time for philosophizing.

    And let’s not forget that the Church was not all, “Onward into the light of knowledge.” Giordano Bruno was tortured by the Inquisition and burned at the stake for the heresy of suggesting that the Sun did not go around the Earth as the Bible states. And as late as 1942, a spokesman for the Catholic Church said that his prosecution was justified, and in 2003, on the 400th anniversary of his execution, Cardinal Sodano defended his prosecutors.

    Galileo narrowly escaped a similar fate by recanting. Galileo, by the way, wasn’t officially pardoned by the Church until 1992, when the Ulysses spacecraft flew by Jupiter in a gravitational assist to redirect its path toward a polar orbit of the Sun. Pioneer X and XI, Voyager I and II, and the Galileo missions had all returned images of Jupiter’s moons that Galileo was put on trial for claiming existed, but I guess the fourth time was the charm.

    Even when the Church didn’t attempt to kill the authors, they banned books, preventing them from being read by other scientists. Conrad Gessner’s Historiae Animalium was banned because Gessner was a Protestant. His work, thousands and thousands of pages consisting of descriptions and natural history of all of the animals known at the time, was inherently flawed, because he was not a Catholic.

    But let’s put aside little things like the torture and execution of scientists. We acknowledge the contributions of the religious men of the past. But as the saying goes, “What have you done for me lately.”

    The Catholic Church has a record in the last few centuries of supporting scientific research that doesn’t conflict with its basic beliefs. You can do all the basic sciences. The Vatican operates a nice observatory for astronomical research. Of course you can’t do any sort of research with human stem cells, but that’s not surprising, and I don’t condemn them for it. Of course, they’re trying to pass laws preventing other people from doing research with human stem cells, even those harvested from the amniotic cord blood after the baby has been born. I do have a huge problem with people forcing everyone else to go along with their religious beliefs. I don’t see Catholics giving up pork because it’s offensive to Muslims, but that door never does swing both ways.

    But Catholics aren’t the only Christians around. And the fact is that there is a huge anti-science bias in the US, and it’s coming from fundamentalist Christians. (It would also be coming from fundamentalist Muslims, but there aren’t enough of them in the US yet.) They are the ones who are saying that Creationism, now labeled Intelligent Design, should be taught alongside evolution in science classes. Some Catholics accept evolution, but say it is guided by God, but many others refute it, including the Kolbe Center, which is a Catholic lay apostolate dedicated to promoting Creationism. Evolution is the foundation of modern biology. If you don’t teach evolution, you might as well not bother to teach any of the life sciences. You might as well ask physics to give up math.

    Similarly, these people oppose the teaching of modern astronomy, because a huge part of astronomy is cosmology, and the Genesis contradicts the Big Bang theory. You can also toss out about 50% of geology, because the time required for the processes we describe is out of bounds with a strict Ussherian view that the Earth was created in 4004 BC. On October 23rd, no less. (I wonder if he accounted for the Gregorian calendar adjustment in 1582 or if he was 11 days off.)

    So in summary, sweetheart, for those thinking TL:DR, you cannot claim that religious people were more scientific than atheists during a time when there were no atheists. And, despite the neutral-to-good position on science espoused by the modern Catholic Church, religious people today in general are trying to hold back science.

    To quote Stan Marsh on South Park, “You’re not just lying, you’re slowing down the progress of all mankind.”

    • guest

      On the stem cell point, the Catholic Church says nothing against human stem cell research. The problem is with Embryonic stem cell research; numerous Catholic scientists have done remarkable work with adult stem cells. Don’t generalize!

    • guest

      and eating pork doesn’t violate the dignity of the human person, even if your friend doesn’t eat it because he’s muslim.

    • David

      Hang on a second: The Catholic Church forbid the common people to read even their own holy book up until Vatican II?

      “An indulgence of three hundred says is granted to all the Faithful who read the Holy Gospels at least a quarter of an hour. A Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions is granted once a month for the daily reading.” Pope Leo VIII, 13 December 1898.

      Wow, this is awkward.

  • Stephen K.

    You showed me I’m not the only Catholic redditor, thank you. /r/atheism is indeed humorous as it is depressing, although the /r/christianity does not help in any way.

  • michaels

    Just because a person associated with religion makes a scientific discovery doesn’t mean you can claim that discovery as scoring a point for religion. Mendel and others made their discoveries using the scientific method, not Holy Writ or Divine Revelation.

    • CPE Gaebler

      And the Scientific Method was itself based on the rational character of God expressed in Holy Writ and the Divine Revelation inherent in Creation. Which was kinda the point of the article. Did you bother reading it all the way through before commenting, or was this merely a failure of reading comprehension? They have that on standardized tests for a reason, you know.

  • jerry148

    Marc, that comment on science and Richard Dawkins’ rear actually made me laugh. Keep up the excellent work!

  • jerry148

    I’d like to add that “modern atheism” (as we know it) is simply a bandwagon. Like the Kony 2012 thing. Sure, people are free to believe, or not believe. I like to present this view of the afterlife. Atheists believe that when you die, you simply go into a hole in the ground. Most religions believe in some form of afterlife, with an eternal reward.

    I like to think that the latter has a greater appeal…

  • LOL

    China, India Greece and Rome have all had impressive scientific breakthroughs throughout history. Somewhat arrogant to credit the Christian West as being the only ones to do so.

    • CPE Gaebler

      They had engineering, but not “science.” Engineering is study for the purposes of building things. Science is study for the purposes of understanding how things work. China in particular had some interesting developments for a while, but it was for the purposes of utility. When they got to the point where they didn’t see that they needed any further advancement, they stagnated, HARD.

  • Kelly

    Thank you!! This image annoyed me so much, due to its completely illogical nature, so thank you for spending the time to refute it.

  • Aaronieru

    “That darn Catholic Church was too busy torturing scientists to establish the university system, or to create the Scientific Method, or — oh, wait.

    That’s right, the Church did those things.”

    Yes, that’s right, they did torture scientist. And that thing about the Catholic church creating the scientific method? That is quite hilarious! So is that why they persecuted Galileo, because he didn’t do the scientific method good enough? Ha ha ha! The 4 element science is the type of science the church promotes. And the reason we have a yellow sky now is because of religion. The evangelical nut jobs in America believe it’s our God given right to pollute and exploit the earth as much as we want and won’t give environmental experts an ear. So yes that is why religion is harmful to society.

  • http://htt::// chrisgale

    You have just designed a good T shirt. Particularly if you like offending the high church of Athiesm.

    I think you need to send it to cafepress… I wants one, I does.

  • http://htt::// chrisgale

    Oh, Newton is a believer. Just an Anglican one. (Professor post reformation in Oxenford: you had to take holy orders to teach).

  • Georgius Edo Sriputra Pratama

    Hey, i think you should add this to the post Yeah… tons of Catholic Cleric-Scientists!

  • guest

    Please allow me to take issue with your laudatory comments on Islamic science and philosophy and quote to you from Robert Spencer’s book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)”: “Allah as absolutely sovereign [is] bound by nothing. This soverignty was so absolute that it precluded a key assumption that helped foster the development of science in Europe: Jews and Christians believe that God is good, and that His goodness is consistent. Therefore, He created the universe according to rational laws that can be discovered, making scientific investigation worthwhile. . . ” A longer quote from St. Thomas Aquinas follows and then Spencer concludes with “But in Islam, Allah is absolutely free. Al-Ghazali and other took issue with the very idea that there were laws of nature; that would be blasphemy, a denial of Allah’s freedom. To say that he created the universe according to consistent, rational laws, or that he “cannot” do something–as Aquinas affirms here–would be to bind his absolute sovereignty. His will conrols all, but it is inscrutable.”
    Please refer to the book for more on the exposition of the myth of the Islamic golden age of science and philosophy.

  • Betoquintas
  • mateo

    I just stumbled on your blog and I must weigh in. Too often I see religious people arguing for their religion from the shoulders of deism. But I know you believe far more than that. You are upgrading your position when you remove the baggage of religion like you did in the ante-penultimate paragraph of your blog post. Anyway, why one god? Why not eight, for example? One god for each fundamental force, matter, energy, dark matter, and dark energy. You could see how the claim that there has to be a supernatural explanation for the laws that govern our universe could result in an infinity of possibilities. It in no way endorses monotheism as the only explanation.

    I don’t know exactly what your beliefs are so it’s kind of hard for me to make any points against them, but I’ll try anyway. I know you are Catholic, which is a branch of Christianity. Christians have to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, who came to Earth to perform miracles to prove he was the son of God (also God himself). Then he sacrificed himself to himself by letting himself be crucified for the sins that he himself created as a grudge against a woman he also created who, at the advice of a talking snake, ate a forbidden apple, which he should have foreseen.

    What I’m trying to say is, the evasive Christian might dismiss the impossible parts as simple allegory, and the horrible rules as outdated, but the creation story is clear myth. I would like to see you defend just this part, which is fundamental to your religion.

    The rest I don’t care about. Noah’s Ark, for instance, is impossible in a million different ways, but that story is not fundamental to your religion and so you could easily dismiss it as a metaphor. What reason do you have to believe the creation story and resurrection of Jesus are true?

    Also, why Catholicism? There are other faiths that have just as much evidence as yours. They include lawgivers and personal gods. You could even believe in more than one at once! How can be sure that blindly you chose the right path?

    Finally, I would like to say that the general idea of your post may be sound, but whether it is or isn’t doesn’t speak to the veracity of your religion. The fact that theists may have invented science as a discipline doesn’t at all lessen science as a tool for dismantling religion. It would be fallacious to state otherwise. I would really like to hear how scientifically a snake can talk. Or maybe it was a Satanic ventriloquist act. Or maybe Eve was a parseltongue. How does a virgin give birth? Parthenogenesis? Yes, you could come down from the deistic pedestal and try to explain many of the Bible’s absurdities, but here’s the real challenge: prove that the figure we have for the age of the Earth, the global scientific consensus, repeatedly verified and absolutely unbiased, is in fact off by a factor of a million.

    I would like to also say I enjoyed reading a few of your blog posts and that if every theist were like you, well, I wouldn’t mind it much. So, respectfully, my challenge is on the table. Defend not just God but your religion.

    • QDefenestration

      Well, defending his religion wouldn’t really involve many of the questions you ask.
      No practicing catholic is going to claim that the genesis story is literal, nor claim that the earth’s age as determined scientifically is off by a factor of a million.
      Sums up the position nicely.

      The polytheism remark works only for non-Thomistic versions of God.

      Your questions about the Incarnation are valid. The question isn’t there “explain this scientifically” for it is not a story about how the world works, but a story in which the way the world works is pointedly subverted. The question would be is it evil for an ordering God to subvert the order he has created?

      Also, congrats on writing a post that was at once fairly sarcastic in wording but not offensive or mean spirited at all. That balance is insanely hard to pull off on the internet period, let alone when discussing religion.

  • Katie P.

    I really like this blog, but I also read r/atheism, and you’re missing the point. Badly.

    Everyone on r/atheism will tell you that the front page is mostly cliched pictures and facebook arguments, and that all of the good content is buried in the new page and the various subreddits. But there is a community there. And it’s a community for kids who are leaving families who have told them they are worthless without religion, who have told them they hope they’ll go to hell, who have been threatened and left homeless and sent death threats for not believing.

    The average age of r/atheism is, I believe, 17.

    So they put up stupid pictures? Yeah. They do. But if this makes you feel superior – or if, even worse, you feel the need to use this as a clever feel-good strawman atheist to laugh at – then you’re really, really not looking closely enough.

  • Rachel R

    Just found this blog. You are awesome, and just my style. LOVE IT!

  • stochasticsoul

    The notion that the Catholic Church developed the scientific method is a joke, right? Otherwise, you clearly have some (non-church-approved) reading to do. Maybe start with this: “The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity 1210-1685. ”
    At best, it started within the Catholic academic tradition since that’s really all there was at the time, but science emerged as a separate discipline in part by differentiating itself from the Church and the Scholastic tradition. But beyond that, serious historians today question whether there can be said to be a single scientific method or even a method at all (ala Feyerabend).
    Since you linked to the Wikipedia article on Roger Bacon, I’ll quote from it: “more recent reevaluations emphasize that he was essentially a medieval thinker, with much of his “experimental” knowledge obtained from books, in the scholastic tradition.”
    Maybe you were thinking of Francis Bacon.
    His religious thinking was definitely independent of the Catholic Church.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      The notion that the Catholic Church developed the scientific method is a joke, right?

      Nope. Cf. Robert Grosseteste, rector of Oxford and Bishop of Lincoln. He built on notions first proposed by Aristotle and commented on by some of the Arabs. Composition and resolution. Galileo, who learned the method from the Jesuits, called it “demonstrative regress.”

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      you clearly have some (non-church-approved) reading to do.

      There is no “church-approved” reading on the subject. However, you might try Toby Huff’s The Rise of Early Modern Science and Edward Grant’s The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages.

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      At best, it started within the Catholic academic tradition


      Stochastic Soul wrote
      science emerged as a separate discipline in part by differentiating itself from the Church and the Scholastic tradition.

      Somewhat the latter, but not the former. Natural philosophy was not the Church. And much of the differentiation was a blind alley, such as the denial of causation, that was honored in the breach.

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      serious historians today question whether there can be said to be a single scientific method or even a method at all (ala Feyerabend).

      Feyerabend was a post-modern philosopher, not an historian. He was correct insofar as scientists have relied upon inspiration, lucky guesses, cherry-picking data, fashion, and all sorts of other methods. But I remain a bit skeptical, given the anti-scientific agenda of that crowd. Besides, the practices of individual scientists are not dispositive. Resolution and composition are a cycle, and it doesn’t matter all that much where on the cycle you jump in.

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      Wikipedia: “more recent reevaluations emphasize that he Roger Bacon was essentially a medieval thinker, with much of his “experimental” knowledge obtained from books, in the scholastic tradition.”

      Another “Duh!” moment from Wikipedia. A great many people who write about natural philosophy are writing philosophy, not physics. Francis Bacon did help revolutionize science. In “The Masculine Birth of Time,” he compared the new science with a grown up man who can impregnate women, the woman being Nature brought in chains to be mastered and dominated. But he was smarter than Descartes as regards finality in nature. I’m not sure that subordinated natural science to engineering and industry has been an entirely win-win situation.

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      while the belief in a rational deity may have provided the breeding ground for later scientific thought, it has ultimately been superseded by it. i.e. That hypothesis is no longer used because it isn’t necessary (or taken seriously anymore).

      That’s like saying science superseded music. Or that the edifice superseded the foundation. The existence of a rational deity is not even a “hypothesis” in the scientific sense. Certainly one may cry “IT JUST IS!” to answer the question whether the universe is rationally ordered. That differs from appeal to a rational Godhead in a very important respect: it claims that the inexplicable begins inside the material universe rather than outside in the divine order. Ultimately, it claims that natural science has limits within its own proper object of material bodies.

      Stochastic Soul wrote
      belief in a rational deity that set up the laws of the universe is [now] a hindrance to further progress.

      How? It didn’t stop Mendel from discovering genetics, nor Lemaitre from discovering the “Big Bang” solution to the relativistic field equations.

      • stochasticsoul

        So you’re making the same mistake Bad Catholic did. Of course there are Catholic _priests and bishops_ in the history of western science, but that doesn’t mean the Catholic _Church_ systematically developed the scientific method in an institutional way. That’s as idiotic as saying the Church created Rock ‘n’ Roll since we can trace the roots of western music back to cathedral choirs. Since the Church dominated the cultural and intellectual life of Europe for so long, you could trace almost anything in western civilization to it, but that would be vapid.

        Clearly Grosseteste is part of the many threads of science history, but the modern scientific method comes to us more directly from the experimentalist tradition of the late 1600s started by Robert Boyle and the other members of the Royal Society. If anyone deserves credit, they do. Not the Church. But my point about mentioning Feyerabend was to say that it would be difficult to perfectly equate the scientific methods in use today with the ones in use in the past. Just as current discoveries supersede discoveries of the past, so current methodologies have superseded older ones (include those used by Grosseteste and Bacon). Nobody uses the “Catholic” scientific method today any more than they use vacuum tube computers.

        Some of your other points are confused, so it isn’t possible to address them. Perhaps if you make your points clearer, I can address them. For instance, “That’s like saying science superseded music.” doesn’t make sense at all. And this statement: “Or that the edifice superseded the foundation.” misses the point altogether. You’ve ASSUMED the foundation even exists at all! That’s exactly what’s in dispute. I’m not saying science supersedes “God”. I’m saying it supersedes the need to believe in the supernatural at all. But Bad Catholic was arguing a pragmatic point: that the BELIEF (or philosophy) that “The Universe is the product of a supremely rational God” was NECESSARY for the creation of science. I’m not necessarily arguing with that. I’m saying, so what? It isn’t a necessary philosophy today to be able to do science. (And further, I think it’s a hindrance. So why don’t we all just drop it?)

        I’ll end with a few points. I included that quote about Roger Bacon specifically b/c Bad Catholic cited him as one of the founders of the Scientific Method. If we’re talking about modern science, that clearly isn’t true. I’ll take your “Duh!” to mean you agree with me.

        Finally, positing a rational deity as a cause for natural phenomena is most definitely a hypothesis in the scientific sense. It doesn’t matter whether you call it the godhead or the divine order, either. There are no “limits” to natural science even though that nonsense gets tossed around a lot. The domain of science is anything that is empirically testable in principle (not everything is testable in practice today but it might be one day). Science is concerned with pragmatic explanations. If an entity is useful for making predictions, it doesn’t matter whether it’s “real” or not.

        Hypotheses involving rational deities aren’t normally taken seriously however b/c they aren’t included in the list of accepted elementary particles (and because we don’t need them currently to explain anything). But we can always posit whatever causes we want. What I’m suggesting is that positing a rational deity (or a Godhead or a divine order) is a bad idea since it is almost always a hindrance to progress. Lemaître may have been inspired to come up with his model b/c of a belief in creation, but he didn’t include a rational deity anywhere in his work. As far as I remember, Mendel didn’t either.

        I’m thinking of examples like Kurt Wise, a young earth creationist and geologist who studied under Stephen Gould. Wise has said, “As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.” If his beliefs were universal, that would be a clear hindrance to progress.

        Another example is scientist Michael Behe, a Catholic. Behe’s belief in a rational deity led him to stop looking for further explanations when he found himself unable to understand how various cellular mechanisms might have evolved. On the other hand, scientist Ken Miller, another Catholic, is able to set aside that belief when he does science and hence is able to find other (non-supernatural) explanations.

        For an individual to believe in a rational deity is not necessarily a hindrance to his or her ability to do science, but to enshrine that hypothesis as part of science today would be disastrous. And if you need something to explain why you think the universe is “rationally ordered” (assuming it is), go ahead. It makes no difference whatsoever. It that explanation becomes empirically testable, then it falls within the realm of science. If it isn’t testable, then each person can take it or leave it depending on how they feel.

  • stochasticsoul

    Also, appealing to “the necessary philosophy on which the Scientific Method is founded: The Universe is the product of a supremely rational God” doesn’t help your case. A parallel can be seen in how physicists in the early 20th had to assume classic Newtonian mechanics in order to have a framework from which to develop quantum mechanics.
    By analogy, while the belief in a rational deity may have provided the breeding ground for later scientific thought, it has ultimately been superseded by it. i.e. That hypothesis is no longer used because it isn’t necessary (or taken seriously anymore).
    Or here’s another analogy: belief in a rational deity that set up the laws of the universe is like the stones used to hold up an arched doorway while you’re building it. They may have been necessary in the beginning, but if you don’t remove them after the arch is built, you won’t be able to go anywhere. i.e. Now both are a hindrance to further progress.

  • Mikeccampbell

    Thanks for your evidence that people invented the scientific method, and not the Catholic church. And also for putting me right that the enlightenment of hte rennaisance had nothign to do with bringing ideas from the (Orthodox & Islam) by people fleeing the (Catholic) sack of Constantinople in 1204…….

  • Micah Williams

    I think a lot of people are running off of religious indignance and simply parroting what smarter people are saying. A lot of things like this I personally find amusing and inoffensive but if someone were to actually try to present these as actual arguments I’d laugh in their face.

  • Blake

    ‘the Church urged the creation of scientific method’
    Tell that to Galileo.

    Step 1 of the scientific method:
    Decide what makes sense
    Step 2:
    Don’t test it
    Step 3:
    Tell your kids to do the same

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Galileo recorded “the” scientific method, called the demonstrative regress at the time, in Tractatio de demonstratione which he appropriated from the course on logic and demonstration taught at the Roman College the previous year by Paulus Vallius SJ. Vallius in turn got it from Ioannes Lorinus SJ, also at Collegio Romano, who had gotten it from Jacopo Zabarella SJ at Univ. of Padua. The Paduan philosophers had perfected it during the 14th and 15th centuries from the resolutio et compositio of Robert Grosseteste, the 13th century bishop of Lincoln and rector of Oxford who is sometimes called the “Father of the Scientific Method.” (In the history of science, no one is ever the one-and-only “father” of anything.).

      There is a discussion of the demonstrative regress here:

      Using these methods, Albrecht of Saxony determined by thought experiment in the 14th century that under normal conditions heavier bodies will not fall faster than lighter bodies, or at least no so much faster that the available means of measurement would detect the difference.

      (Obviously, a stone will reach the ground faster than a leaf. Less obviously, the Moon (if dropped straight down) would reach the ground faster than the stone because the Moon will attract the Earth upward far more than the stone will, thus shortening the distance traversed. F=GMm/d²)

      However, Simon Stevin dropped two balls of differing weights from the church tower in Delft in 1586, well before Galileo came along, proving that they fell at the same rate.

  • Wonder

    This raises a question, though. how much fundamentalist Christian anti-science preaching (and it does exist) began its existence as veiled anti-Catholic sentiment?