CNN's Credulous Reporting on Catholicism

I’m watching CNN right now and cannot believe how thoroughly this report dispenses with all standards of journalistic evidence and detachment in presenting dubious miracle claims as straight facts with reasonable, undisputed evidence behind them. The first part of the report, which I wish I could find but CNN hasn’t seemed to put anywhere online yet, is just as credulous. They’re referring to miracles as though they’re flat out indisputable occurrences. They’re reporting on the status of specific people as “holy” and “saints” as matter-of-factly as if they were describing objective statuses and mundane occupations.  And they unquestionably lionize this Andrea Ambrosi character who charges tens of thousands of dollars a year to multiple groups and individuals to advocate for the sainthood seemingly of anyone who a given Catholic desperately wants to see get the status. And there’s not the slightest hint of question about the dubious PR motives of the pope in loosening the requirements of sainthood to make more saints. This whole willfully gullible puff piece should embarrass CNN:

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Sheesh

    Hur hur hur, I heard the truth claims of the religious were boring. There’s no way this can be harmful, amirite?!

  • MLR

    I’m not too surprised. While CNN may be a bit more “liberal” than say, Fox News, they’ve really gone into the woo-woo realm lately. Their website has the “belief blog” which, as far as I can recall, has only addressed atheism a couple times. It’s mostly “Religious person says this!” with pretty much zero effort to determine the truth about what he or she is saying. I guess, as the first comment here mentioned, that would be too boring to read.

    As for miracles, it’s really surprising how much the average religious person accepts angels, miracles and etc as reality. A friend of mine has a relative who is writing a book about this exact topic. She’s calling it “Glimpses of Heaven” and it’s all about events in her life that she insists must have been God. One silly example is she had car trouble and was stranded along the side of some road, when an old man stopped to help her. And he was apparently some sort of magical man, because he knew exactly what to do to fix her car and send her on her way, and refused to take any money for a reward. Therefore, Jesus! I don’t understand why she can’t possibly accept that she was helped by a human being, but instead has to deny that and give credit to some entirely imaginary thing. It’s actually denying that real live person of the thanks he deserves in an effort to preserve the religious delusion.

    I guess the go-to response to people that talk about miracles happening so matter-of-factly is always the “Why does God hate amputees?” concept. But people who believe that magical miracles are happening in the physical world are usually capable of Olympic-level mental gymnastics and can somehow keep those beliefs while admitting that if somebody loses a limb they can never, ever pray it back. But I honestly don’t know how a person’s head doesn’t explode from the cognitive dissonance, just like a cheesy sci-fi robot caught in a logical paradox.

    • Sheesh

      Does not compute, DOES NOT COMPUTE! :)

      I don’t understand why she can’t possibly accept that she was helped by a human being, but instead has to deny that and give credit to some entirely imaginary thing. It’s actually denying that real live person of the thanks he deserves in an effort to preserve the religious delusion.

      I loosely have this argument with family and friends every year at Thanksgiving. I insist, don’t thank God for your good fortune this year (He doesn’t need it, assuming for the sake of social grace that he exists). The people who helped you and made your life better in the face of hardship are right here. You can thank them right now at this table. Real people deserve thanks (and can use and enjoy it), and shifting that thanks off to a god is a denial of their goodwill towards you. It should be seen as an absolute insult to say that it’s God’s Will when a friend or family member (or even a stranger) helps you and you turn around and say, “Thank God you’re here! I can’t change my flat!”. How about instead you remember to say, “Thank you for coming” or “Thank you for stopping.”

  • Jeff Sherry

    The Indianapolis Star has some reportage of this “miracle” and the Chicago Arch diocese (or would it be Detroit) would have reportage as well.

  • Cuttlefish

    What I find amusing is that when you look at the comments on CNN’s Belief Blog, it is clear that a good many believers are utterly convinced that CNN’s sole purpose in life is to bash religion in general, and the Catholic church in particular.

    • MLR

      That is too true. If an article isn’t 100% favorable of whatever particular belief the comment poster has, then they moan about persecution. When an atheist posts, they trot out the same old ignorant misconceptions about atheists that only proves they’ve never bothered to read anything about atheism. But that’s not surprising since most of them know very little about the tenants of the faith they claim to cherish and refuse to see criticized, so they haven’t even bothered to read about that either. Yet they get totally offended at the mere suggestion that the faith they know nothing about might be wrong!

    • MLR

      Oops, I meant to type “tenets of faith” not tenants. Foiled by spell check once again.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      most of them know very little about the tenets of the faith they claim to cherish and refuse to see criticized, so they haven’t even bothered to read about that either. Yet they get totally offended at the mere suggestion that the faith they know nothing about might be wrong!

      I wrote about such believers last week in this post Against the Religiously Lazy Defenders of the Pious

  • http://www.facebook.com/ZenoFerox Zeno

    Canonizations have become big business in the Vatican. It really took off with John Paul II, who churned out saints for every region of the Church. Therefore it’s not at all surprising that enterprising people would set themselves up as canonization advocates (for a reasonable fee, of course). See “The Economics of Sainthood” by Barro et al. for some fascinating details on the scope of the sainthood enterprise. (In particular, check out Fig. 1 on p. 32.)

  • Bryan

    I blanch nearly every time I read the Belief Blog. They give a lot of credence to religious “professionals”, and the scant few posts they have on atheism are usually skewed towards the milquetoast variety (i.e., Botton’s recent article where he claims we have “no mechanisms for expressing gratitude”).

  • http://qpr.ca/blogs Alan Cooper

    Oh you grinch! I bet you complain also when the NORAD guys report a mysterious UFO on Dec 25.

    But seriously, although I doubt the payoff from arguing with believers in miracles, I am totally with you in being offended at the media for pandering to such beliefs.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X