A Catholic Version of ‘Don’t Be a Dick’

Did you know Catholic bloggers make arguments challenging atheists… and then smugly tell themselves that it works? They think their takedowns are effective! Who knew?! Not me.

Catholic blogger Frank Weathers says it doesn’t work — no kidding — and he essentially offers his fellow bloggers a religious version of the Don’t Be a Dick speech:

Oh, it looks like a lot of victory laps, and high fives are being exchanged everywhere in Catholic bubbleland when a good, snarky, post sticking it to the atheists is published. Don’t it feel so goooood ya’ll? But although folks may think you showed ‘em up, and all, it’s not *cough* sharing the Good News. Nor will it ever be perceived as such.

“But Frank, the atheist’s arguments are ridiculous, man. Besides, they seem so full of themselves. I gotta do something about it.”

Yes you do, but I doubt it can be done in a combox, or in a blog post, or in a YouTube video. But if it can be done in those ways, it can’t be done by trying to “one up” atheists in a game of I’m smarter than you are, nanny-nanny boo-boo. The clash of cold steel in the combox during The Reasoning Wars may feel right, but it rarely leads would-be evangelists to the prize. Showing how you can out smart the atheists by calling attention to their one dimensional arguments, or whatever? No joy, mon ami.

Still can’t get over the fact that Catholic bloggers think they convince us they’re right when it comes to reason… My mind is blown.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    If they want to convince us that they are good and moral, they should quit the church of indulgences and systematic cover-up of child rape.

  • Drew M.

    I am so glad I broke free of Catholicism.

  • articulett

    I’d like a Catholic to tell me why I should take them and their supernatural beliefs more seriously than THEY take Scientology.

     

    • Glasofruix

      Because they have the truth, duh..

  • Jesse

    Well, one first step would be actually *showing* their arguments to actual atheists…

    • Glasofruix

      What if the arguments are staring at you and you just can’t see them because of your atheist biais?

      (hint hint, sarcasm)

      • Ndonnan

        Good point,minus the sarcasm

        • amycas

           Maybe most of us used to be a believer of some kind and we have read and seen all the arguments and they just don’t really hold up to scrutiny. Plus, regardless of how many logical arguments you can come up with for a god, a logical argument does not equal evidence.

          • Ndonnan

            A lot of people carnt see the forest for the trees Amy. For the athiest philosepher AntonyFlew it was DNA that made him realise there had to be a creator behind creation.Now DNA has a new meaning for him,definately no athieism.You only think you have looked at the evidence,you are only beginning.

            • Wintermute

               IF the same piece of evidence can be interpreted in wildly divergent ways depending on the interpreter or the interpreter’s state of mind at the time, then it’s probably not such good evidence.

            • Pureone

              A Creator? How is that proof of a singular creator? I thought that that such “evidence” for 13 creators.  

              • pureone

                *was* for 13…

            • zeggman

               DNA is certainly fascinating, but even if one believes it is evidence for a creator, it is certainly not evidence that that creator is responsible for dictating this holy book or that one.

              Personally, I do not think DNA is evidence for a creator, omniscient or otherwise. It is imperfect and noisy; it changes over time and feels its way by generating many more unsuccessful variations than successful ones.

              Even so, if more theists studied the books of nature rather than books like the Bible for clues about the mindset of this creator they believe in, I think our society would be the better for it.

            • amycas

              How incredibly condescending of you to think that you would know what evidence I have or have not already seen and to imply that I have prematurely jumped to a conclusion. It took years of thought and research for me to get where I am today, and it’s insulting for you to wave your hand and act like I merely woke up this morning and decided to be an atheist.

              Please, don’t mention Antony Flew to people who actually knew who he was. Everybody knows that in his old age he was suffering from a bit of senility and some Christians took advantage of his mind’s weakened state. Hell, he didn’t even write most of the last book he published. And even then, he did not become any sort of christian. Thebest you could say is that he became a deist, but even that would not be good enough for the Christian god (meaning, if the Christian god exists, Antony Flew would still be going to hell). I know that another commenter on a different thread has already sent you the links you should read to know the full story of antony Flew. Since you are using this again, I can only assume that you don’t read information given to you, or you have read it and are choosing to ignore new information, which is intellectually dishonest.

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    He’s advising that Catholics ignore bad arguments? Seems less like “don’t be a dick” and more like “Don’t have a discussion because you won’t win.”

    • Fortuna Veritas

      Well, to be fair, it could well be argued that a component of not being a dick  could be to avoid pointless bickering that is only going to lead to negative emotion and thoughts.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PWUAB6VWGQWUV4GQTMTPBBU33Q JessicaR

    In all these years not once have I read a Catholic blog.
    Don’t intend to start now.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I just came across a particularly smug and smarmy example of a Catholic blogger thinking they’ve taken down an atheist argument. Anyone care to tear it apart?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/04/the-love-atheists-have-for-gay-folks-2.html 

    • Drew M.

      I know better than to try and debate people stupid enough to believe in transubstantiation. I used to be one of them.

      • newavocation

        Drew, what changed you? 

        • Drew M.

          Hmm. Well, reading the bible helped (KJV & NIV), but what really opened my eyes was compassion. My own, that is, along with a bit of self-realization. You see, I used to be one of these homophobic jerks. Fortunately, over the last 15 years or so, I met a lot of wonderful people who were on the fast-track to hell, according to Christianity. As I got to know people different from me, I learned that my bigoted views were wrong and by extension, those who taught them to me were wrong as well.

          I did have one memorable “eureka” moment and I wrote about it over on my ThinkAtheist blog (If two posts counts as blog, that is):

          http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/epiphany-1

          After that event, I became one of those “spiritual” people who believes in some nondescript higher power. After a few more years, some good friends and I got into a deep theism discussion and I blurted out that I didn’t believe in god. That was when I realized it myself.

          What does really chap my ass is that I still haven’t gotten rid of the classical Catholic guilt. ‘Tis amazing how 18 years of brainwashing really screws up your psyche.

          • Sharon Hypatia

             You see, Drew, your “mistake” was that you weren’t filled with righteous anger at those two young men. The anger that comes from believing they were sinners who were disobeying god and DESERVED the wrath poured out upon them His followers.
            Simple human empathy always cuts righteous anger off at the knees. (It also works for believing that non-believers will end up in tortured in hell for eternity.)
            I think that is what I find most disturbing about religions – one has to shut off human empathy or pervert it into ” the evil I do is for a greater good”.

    • linford86

       I just put a response on there. Let’s see what happens…

    • Patterrssonn

      Just looked at the blog and the smarmy self congratulatory creepiness of the post and the responses are…are… I’m lost for words.

    • korou

      Yes, please do pay that thread a visit! There’s a commenter there, Alexandra, who is getting under a bit of pressure right now. She’s doing a great job, being polite and on target, but I think she could do with a bit of support.

      But let’s keep it civil! Let’s not let the Catholics wriggle away from the argument by being able to say the atheists were too rude to play with. It’d be great to see their arguments answered properly.

  • Fsq

    Sorry, this is nothing more than a classic ase of trying to polish a turd.

    Great, so they say be polite in feeling superior….but they still emit the stench of self importance and righteousness.

    Then, he says to use that smug self satisfactions feel superior without letting on they feel superior.

    I’d rather they just came out and said what we all know to be true, that they feel they have a smug sense of moral superiority that is theirs and only theirs.

    Fail.

  • The Captain

    Whats really funny is most atheist I know may not like your “tone” or think your a dick, but that doesn’t effect their assessment of wether your points are correct or not. So catholics can be as nice about it they like, or dicks, it doesn’t really matter since it’s their arguments that are shit. 

    • amycas

       Thank you. I’m able to read a snarky and sarcastic and sometimes down-right insulting post without losing track of the writer’s point. Sometimes, I laugh at the sarcasm and their arguments change my mind. Other times I laugh at the sarcasm, and their arguments don’t change my mind. And then there are the times when all it does is make me rethink some position I once held. In any case, if the ridicule is done well, I laugh.

    • Fortuna Veritas

       Well, it’s not even so much the quality of the arguments as the appropriateness of making an argument in the first place. 

      At least, that’s my understanding of the general scenario.

  • Heide

    When I was about 6 years old I new I did not believe in god. It felt much like pretending my Raggedy Ann doll was a real child or baby. I saw all the other girls my age pretending their dolls were real babies and I tried to copy that model but it felt so stupid. As a young atheist attending 8 years of Catholic school it felt much the same way.

    It is a matter of logic and there is too much absence of logic when it comes to religion – especially the Catholic religion.

  • Mark

    Well, I actually read the blog…and I can’t really disagree with what the guy is trying to say.  I think he’s saying the that the problem is too many are talking at people, not talking to people.  He’s talking about why people shouldn’t be trying to shout over one and other, instead of discussing their concepts or ideas.  This is not exactly a Catholic or Christian or even a religion only problem.  While I would probably disagree with almost every idea on religion he may have, I can appreciate that he wants us to discuss it not just yell it at each other and then plug our ears.  I was somewhat disappointed when I looked at their comments section and saw mostly comments that fell under “You’re right we should love them even if they are different, lets talk to them.”, then I looked here and saw that most comments were the equivalent of ,”What a smug asshole, and here’s reason X why he’s stupid.”  So, that’s my 2 cents, let the games begin.

  • AshBowie

    “Don’t it feel so goooood ya’ll?” The author is clearly on the cusp of grasping what’s really going on here. The smug high fives he is witnessing is all about compensating for the feeling of threat due to atheism. Catholics have no rational reason to believe what they believe, which atheists remind them of…but because they identify personally with the church, they emotionally need to defend their irrational faith. 

    It’s funny that the author thinks that we need leading and that the problem is that we atheists would be more likely to convert if we were only exposed to good Catholic role models. He seems to believe that if we were “corrected” using better manners, then we might actually see the light.  Dude, “loving” and praying for us is going to do nothing in terms of changing our non-belief. The problem isn’t your tone, it’s the fact that your faith is logically unsupportable. Although we would appreciate a reduction in Catholic malice, we would be much more impressed if the Catholic rank and file stopped trying to hurt gays and women while starting to demand justice for the countless sexual abuse victims of the clergy. 

    • JohnnieCanuck

      This. Whether the theist is aggressively anti-atheist or professes warmth and love towards me, their argument is still based on delusion. Until they bring evidence to the table, there’s not going to be a lot of conversion to their faith happening, not for me.

      I guess that makes me arrogant and militant. At least I’m not persecuting them by refusing to believe their funny story, or am I?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    Time and time again, I hear of the one-dimensional naivety that atheists display when arguing against religion. I can’t help but feel that they are referring to an intuition of the divine. A sense that there is something greater than we can perceive, yet not truly conveyable with words or evidence. Our arguments will always ring hollow to the majority of people who place their faith atop this ineffable pillar. I have yet to witness an explanation of the divine that makes sense without including this x-factor. The educated philosophical arguments feel like smoke and mirrors, rather than anything with explanatory power. I am occasionally told that we have hardened our hearts against God, and I suppose that this is the bridge to understanding that we can never truly cross. A leap of faith is the ultimate precursor to true belief, not logic. We look before we leap, and have yet to find someone there to catch us.

    • http://profiles.google.com/emasters7 Elizabeth Hiatt

      Yes! The philosophical arguments feel like the most elaborate productions. They don’t make a single lick of sense to somebody who doesn’t look to them already convinced that they are right. 

    • amycas

       I want to steal your last line. That’s amazing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

        Thanks, I was trying to convey what that ‘leap’ means to me. I’m glad someone liked my analogy, and of course you can steal it. :)

  • hoverFrog

    I’ve been in conversation with a fervent Catholic for some time now and he simply doesn’t grasp the steps that would be required for a non-believer to convert to his faith. He argues constantly that his religion is the right one and makes suggestions for Catholic books to read and presents Catholic arguments for why all the other religions are wrong.  It just hasn’t registered that belief in gods is a requirement before choosing a religion.  I lack belief in gods so all of his arguments are wasted

    So he gets angry and calls atheism a religion, demands proof of no God and all the other crap that is expected from believers.  I’ve pointed this out numerous times but he just doesn’t grasp it.  When I show how his Catholic religion fails to serve the needs of adherents or does something horrific in the name of faith (there’s no shortage of such news events) he blames bad Catholics while claiming that the religion is still good.  When another religion does something bad he claims that it is the fault of their false faith and that it would never have happened under Catholicism.

    ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’ 

    • http://profiles.google.com/emasters7 Elizabeth Hiatt

      I think they all have the same talking points. I too have been talking with a Catholic who I don’t think gets it. He creates so many rules for the discussion that it’s impossible to make any point. He actually told me that I shouldn’t read the bible because I am “uninitiated” and need the RCC to properly interpret it for me. Of course the no true Scotsmen has been thrown in there, and I’ve been told that I cannot ask for evidence of gods because if there was, then it would take away my free will. Gah! There’s no way to talk about this stuff in a rational way with these people. 

  • Fortuna Veritas

    Certainly beats policing the church and clergy, I imagine.  At least atheist-bashing is something that can afford the illusion of control over one’s course.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Still can’t get over the fact that Catholic bloggers think they convince us they’re right when it comes to reason… My mind is blown.

    Well, obviously we’re on shaky ground, Hemant. I’m really worried that someone might think to ask me me how, if we evolved from 
    chimps, then why are there still chimps around today.

  • jemiller226

    This reads to me less as “don’t be a dick” than “don’t bother because they’re too dumb to get it anyway”.

  • Carrie

    Makes me wonder why they don’t expend their efforts on other people that worship the wrong god, or that worship Jebus improperly….why the focus on atheists? Disingenuous, is what it is. 

  • AAA

    I don’t get the point.  You take us to a Catholic blogger who shares your view of having mature and peaceful arguments.  Then don’t even give him credit and use some out of context quote from his post?  Then you complain Catholics post stuff about atheism when they shouldn’t (I don’t know why) and then make a post about not posting?  Someone’s got reasoning problems.  Then you make a wise crack comment trying to bash Catholic reason after it’s obvious your post has no reason!  There are no points you make at all, no arguments made, no appeal to any type or reason.  The response “I just won’t listen” then complain Catholics don’t listen to atheist reason is once again… bad reasoning.  Instead of just laughing it up taking your “victory laps” with your atheist followers over nothing why don’t you actually try and show a display of this reason that you claim to have.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Magy-Stelling/100000938458375 Magy Stelling

    I have this most wonderful “friend” on FB.  He lives thousands of miles away.  He is an atheist and I am Roman Catholic.  I don’t judge him nor does he judge me.  We discuss  religion and atheism among many other topics. We listen to one another and HEAR one another with respect. I value his friendship.  Enough said!!!

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    I actually think it’s funny whenever anybody narrates a tale of an argument they won.  War stories are always chock full of exaggeration and false bravado.  When the subject is a debate one almost always gets the added bonus of a straw man thrown built right into the plot-line just so the hero can declare victory.

  • Chuck Hamilton

    Unfortunately the Catholics on a lot of these pages are “preaching the good news” rather than reflecting the Word of Jesus in their actions.  Find a real Catholic.  A humble servant of humanity who performs acts of charity, kindness and love for the sake of being able to bring love into the world and not looking for recognition, payout, or attention.  That’s a Catholic.  Jesus tells me to be a humble servant to the rest of humanity.  I am a weak useless instrument that He uses to reflect his love to the rest of humanity.  I am not perfect and do not speak out against anyone else’s sins.  None of us are perfect.  Hemant I appreciate you having this blog to allow people to openly discuss their views. 


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