Cosmos Upsets the Courtiers

I'm greatly enjoying the new Cosmos, but there are those who are none too pleased by it. Some of the critics are too laughable to take seriously, like the creationists who're whining about not getting equal time. Then there are the ones who represent an allegedly more sophisticated theology, like this post by Andrew Sullivan, in which he straightfacedly asserts that Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson's popularization efforts are giving science a bad name. Why? His complaint stems largely from … [Read more...]

The World Is Changing and the Churches Are Afraid

Last week, a Daylight Atheism commenter (thanks, Nathaniel!) pointed out that my post "Aid in Dying" had been cited on a blog on the Patheos Catholic channel, Public Catholic, whose author, Rebecca Hamilton, is a member of the Oklahoma state legislature. Needless to say, she was perturbed:Last night, when I googled euthanasia, I came across a forever-to-be-nameless blog that was chortling over the rise in public acceptance of medical murder, which polite folk like to call euthanasia. This … [Read more...]

Aid in Dying

In 1994, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill. The Bush administration filed a lawsuit to overturn the referendum, but lost at the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, despite this victory, for many years Oregon stood alone in allowing doctors to ease their patients' passing. But that's now starting to change:In January, a district court in New Mexico authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right … [Read more...]

Who Speaks for American Catholics?

Last week during my interview on the Nick Givas Radio Show, the host, himself a conservative Catholic, asserted that the Obama administration has offended American Catholics by mandating that health insurance plans cover contraception, and now has a duty to placate them by making whatever legislative changes they demand. I only had time for a brief response to that, so I want to expand on it today.Now, I'll agree that the Catholic hierarchy - the Vatican, the U.S. bishops, the presidents of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: December 28

While you rest and recover from all the holiday feasting, some links:• The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried the Roman city of Pompeii also buried another town, Herculaneum. One of the buildings that's been unearthed was a rich Roman's villa - including the library. The thousands of scrolls it contained were thought to be charred beyond recognition, but high-resolution CAT scans and multispectral imaging are finally making it possible to read the lost scrolls from the Villa of the … [Read more...]

When Bishops Tie the Doctor’s Hands

Although the media has been thrilled by some symbolic statements about poverty by Pope Francis, the inconvenient fact remains that he's changed none of the doctrines that were the biggest reason for atheists to object to Catholicism in the first place. Last week in Michigan, we saw another example of that:Tamesha Means, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said that when she was 18 weeks pregnant her water broke and she rushed to Mercy Health, the only hospital in her county.Her fetus had … [Read more...]

New Pope, Same Old Dogmas

Earlier this summer, I wrote about some conciliatory (but ultimately meaningless) remarks from Pope Francis about gay people. Now he's given a longer interview to the Jesuit magazine America in which he appeared to suggest that the church has been talking about abortion, contraception and gay rights too much:"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was … [Read more...]

The Dreamy Hormones of Matrimony

Last week on Twitter, I saw a link to a Catholic site calling itself Fix the Family, which had posted an essay titled 6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College. It was so hilariously over-the-top that I wondered at first if it was a parody. But after perusing the site for a while, I'm persuaded that it's for real.At the beginning of the essay, the author responds to what he sees as the obvious objections:"You believe in taking away opportunities for women and trapping them into a … [Read more...]

Moral Relativism in the Catholic Church

Back in March, I wrote a post about how the Catholic church isn't a democracy and therefore has no obligation to change its teachings in line with popular opinion. One theist commenter enthusiastically chimed in to agree and to insist that this was exactly the point:From my own perspective, the constancy (and internal consistency) of Church teaching is an enormously reassuring thing. How am I supposed to trust a religious tradition which claims to teach about right and wrong but is willing … [Read more...]

The Pope and Gay People: Nothing’s Changed

The media has been in a tizzy these past few days over some remarks made by Pope Francis on an airplane flight back from a trip to Brazil:"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word "gay."Judging by the rapturous response from some quarters, one might think that these few mildly conciliatory, off-the-cuff sentences had wiped away centuries of dogmatically entrenched … [Read more...]