Dear Bad Catholic, You Haven’t Knocked Down Our Arguments

Marc Barnes at Bad Catholic thinks atheists need to stop using certain arguments… but he misses the point of each argument entirely:

1) Babies are atheists

Barnes says that religion is innate! Babies believe in the supernatural from early on! One study showed it! So there! How dare all the atheists equate religious indoctrination with child abuse!?

Well, babies don’t believe in god the same way that many adults do… so we’re not actually off base. Still, no atheist ever suggests that babies are thinking, “There’s no proof for God’s existence.” We’re saying babies aren’t mature enough to consider questions about the supernatural at all. Just because they might have thoughts about the supernatural at a young age doesn’t mean any of it is accurate. Just because children believe in Santa doesn’t make him real. And no one really believes babies are thinking about Jesus or Allah or Vishnu or miracles or all the other nonsense that comes along with belief in god…

When parents teach children — who are not old enough to challenge them — that Genesis is factual or that they must pray five times a day (or else!), that is a form of abuse because you’re not allowing the child to make up his or her own mind about a very serious issue. And we’re not even talking about the threat of hellfire for not believing these things…

2) Priests Rape Boys

This is a sell-out argument, right up there with HITLER WAS AN ATHEIST SO ATHEISM IS BAD! Now to be fair, the Internet-Atheist crowd hardly ever use it as an actual argument. It’s just this awkward, religiously pasted bit of snark that ends every post about why the Catholic Church is the worst thing in the world.

You know why atheists say priests rape boys? Because priests have raped boys.

To be sure, even if all priests raped boys, that wouldn’t be an argument against god’s existence, only an argument that no one in their right mind ought to support the Catholic Church.

But no one’s saying all priests are rapists. What we object to is the way the Church covered up the pedophilia that existed for so long, how priests were shifted from one parish to another in a way that let some of them rape young boys again.

Zach Weiner captured our side of this well:

Yes, there are also other pedophiles out there in other professions. But the pedo-priests’ devout faith obviously didn’t stop them from committing these awful crimes. So what good did it do?

3) Light before the sun? #godsfake

Barnes is responding to the idea that, in Genesis, God created light on Day 1… but the Sun/Moon/Stars on Day 4. (His response: God just created photons on Day 1, you guys…)

Well, I guess if you think a fertilized egg is basically the same thing as a grown fetus, that’s not a huge stretch…

I don’t even need to get into the science, though. This is only one of *many* things Genesis gets wrong if taken at face value. And it goes against the 60% of Americans who believe in the literal six-day-Creation-myth in Genesis (according to The Barna Group).

After all that, Barnes still thinks he has a slam dunk. He doesn’t. And he ought to know better than to create atheist strawmen.

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.

  • Glasofruix

    Whoa, the comments out there are quite scary…

  • jdm8

    The Catholic Church doctrine is pro-evolution, why is a Catholic talking about a literal Genesis creation story?

    • Kyle Anderson

      What are you talking about? 

      • jdm8

        In reality, it’s more complicated than that, but the Catholic Church accepts evolution, albeit limited by theistic evolution.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_evolution

        They’re not really concerned about claiming Genesis 1 as a literal text, so a Catholic trying to defend it literally isn’t actually necessary.

        • Kyle Anderson

          What I mean is I didn’t see where Marc was defending a literal creation account. He mentions the Big Bang and photons…I’m not sure how that constitutes a defense of literal creationism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

       was, the old Pope was pro-Theistic-Evolution (which is not even evolution, but was at least something). The current Pope is more medieval.

    • compl3x

       Seems to be pro-evolution but certainly not anti-creationist. Trying to keep everyone happy by not really defending or siding with one over the other if a conflict comes up.

    • Stev84

      They still have to believe in Original Sin, otherwise the whole house of cards comes crashing down. Though that refers more to the Adam/Eve thing that Earth’s creation

  • Kyle

    Marc Barnes…not Mark Shea.

    • Hemant

      Fixed!

      • CoboWowbo

        You still have Shea under points 1 & 3. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Babies can’t believe in the supernatural, because they can’t even have a concept of what that is. The very idea that something is “supernatural” requires a “natural” law that the supernatural violates, which requires experience that infants lack. It’s like what Tim Minchin said about alternative medicine: Do you know what they call a supernatural phenomenon that’s been shown to occur? Natural.

    Until an infant learns what is normal, the concept of the paranormal is meaningless.

    • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

       I agree with you. But babies aside, I don’t even know if I can believe in anything “supernatural” or in anything “natural” for that matter. Suppose we had this hitherto undiscovered hypothetical phenomenon x. As of now no one knows if x is an actual phenomenon. It might be discovered in the future, it might not. It might exist regardless of whether it’s discovered, it might now. Suppose we’re naturalists. What kind of phenomenon does naturalism exclude from ever being discovered? What kind of criteria would x have to satisfy in order to be classified as either natural or supernatural?

      As you yourself said, if a supernatural phenomenon is shown to occur, it’s classified as natural. But then naturalism doesn’t actually pick out anything at all, since it doesn’t make any meaningful prediction beyond “whatever exists exists.” If we find out the Higgs boson exists? Hey, it’s natural! If we find out ghosts exist? Hey, they’re natural!

      So is there any usefulness to these words at all? Because I’m thoroughly confused as to which ontological position is supposed to be staked out by proclaiming oneself a naturalist or a supernaturalist. It seems more like a proclamation of loyalty to one tribe or another than any meaningful position.

  • machintelligence

    God just created photons on day one.

    Well OK, but they were so energetic that they were in the X-ray to gamma ray part of the spectrum. Even red shifted as far as they have been by universal expansion, they still are in the microwave region, not the visible spectrum.

    • miller

      The cosmic microwave background radiation originates from year 300,000, not day one.

      • Jussi

        Not that it really makes a difference for the credibility, or lack thereof, of the bible, the first photons came into existence during the first second after the Big Bang.

        The cosmic microwave background had its peak intensity in the near infared and didn’t produce basically any X-ray or gamma ray photons.

        • GZep

          Photons existed, sure, but the universe was opaque until decoupling, so there wasn’t exactly “light”.

  • Savoy47

    When someone give me the old; There are  other pedophiles out there in other professions.  I hit them with a quote from one of their own.

    Priests are “other Christs,” who stand in for Jesus, …they also show the faithful why and what Jesus offers by preaching the good news of God’s desire for friendship with man. –Father Ron P. Floyd, parochial vicar at St. Patrick’s Parish in Fall River” 

    • Kodie

       It’s a tu quoque argument. Why should pedophiles in other professions take the heat off the Catholic Church for their cover-ups? Yes, it is all horrible, and it should all be dealt with. Catholics who act like that is only happening in someone else’s church and not their problem don’t get it. If anything, I would like Catholics in whose churches there seems to be no abuse make an approach on their priests and bishops (whatever that hierarchy is) to protest the cover-ups and hold the bad priests accountable all the way up the line to whoever covered it up. If it is happening at schools, don’t be a dummy and say that at least my kids are safe because they go to a different school, likewise. Jerry Sandusky’s (for a famous example) abuse is his abuse, and was eventually found out. That cover-up was bad, in the name of football and academia, a terrible thing. If it is happening in other professions, or other religions, though, it doesn’t negate the fact that some priests molest boys and are systematically protected by the church their church belongs to and their priest accounts to.

      So saying it is happening everywhere, and is nothing we can do about it – when we find priests who do it, they are being protected. At least own up to it and do something about it. There is no valid argument, only a device that allows it to continue. Until they say, yes, it is horrible and I intend to do something about it because I care about those children and I care about belonging to a religion that always does the right thing, there is no other valid argument. Dodging the accusation does not negate the facts. Any other answer than “I’m going to do something about it, wherever I see it or hear about it, even if it is my church,” is contributing to the abuse and in compliance with the systematic cover-ups.

      • Fsq

        Precisely!!!!

        One of the most heard arguments for the defense of catholic pedophilia is the “well, other people do it too, so why are you making us the bad guy?”

        Even in the most generous circumstances, allowing that others do indeed do such awful thin gs, it does not excuse your bad behavior. It is like guy who gets a speeding ticket when everyone else was speeding. His defense of, well everyone else was speeding does not mean he is not-guilty of speeding. It just means he is the one who got caught and ticketed.

        For the Catholics, there has been a clear cut case of cover up, collusion, conspiracy and outright lying to hide, and allow the priests to continue fucking little kids.

        Shame on them. Shame on all of them.

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          “It is like guy who gets a speeding ticket when everyone else was speeding.”

          Except in this case, it’s more like the cop was the one speeding!  Or at least a guy who claims to be a cop.

    • Stev84

      The problem isn’t even so much that so many priests are pedophiles, it’s the systematic coverup being organized by the highest levels of the church. That part is unique to them. Instead of punishing those priests with the help of civil authorities, they pretended it didn’t happen and moved the priests around from parish to parish. Even know they are fighting against accountability and still want to handle such incidents within the church.

      • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

         It’s not unique to them, unfortunately. But it’s still evil. As you said, the problem is the treatment of the priests, not their very existence (although that’s certainly not a joy).

  • Mark Shea

    Um, you’ll have trouble selling an audience on the claim that atheists are careful readers of religious arguments when you repeatedly attribute an entire arguement to me that was, in fact, made by Marc Barnes, who runs the Bad Catholic blog.  Thanks for playing though.

    Mark Shea

    • Hemant

      Fixed! My apologies!

    • TiltedHorizon

      And had you carefully read the arguments you would have in fact noted someone already raised the error.  You are only two hours late. Not you worry, you have never needed facts before, why start now.

      • Reade Selle

        I think you mean ‘comments’ not ‘arguments.’ And really, who doesn’t need facts? They’re just so damn useful. 

    • Fentwin

      “Um” is such an arrogant, condescending opening.

      • Alexandra

        Meet Mark Shea.

        He must be comfortable with being perceived as arrogant and condescending because that’s the way that he not only opens, but also continues to be.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

        Um, that’s a lot to read into two letters, even if one of them IS an “m.”

  • Stev84

    I’m sometimes annoyed with the “priests rape boys” thing, but for other reasons. Priests have raped girls too. It’s just that traditionally, they’ve had easier access to boys. Girls weren’t always allowed to be altar servers (and some traditional groups are still against it) and girls were more often under the care of nuns. But when they could, some priests went after girls too.

    • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

       And abuse happened in convents and other places under the control of nuns as well, sadly. The fact is that some sorts of institutional settings are a just ripe for abuse.

    • Coyotenose

      Indeed. I prefer to write that they rape or cover up the rape of children, rather than assigning a gender to their victims. That’s because bigoted religionists like to equate molesting boys to homosexuality, when of course the two have nothing to do with one another.

      • Vee Kast

        as a Catholic, I can agree with you. A lot of people do try to equate the two, which is sad, because we know you don’t need to be a homosexual to be a pedophile.
        And in response to the church covering up details, its very sad to know that these abusers were being bounced from church to church, in fact it sucks. The men in charge were wrong. The abusers should have been turned into authorities. But just as every institution is lurking with some kind of perverted whack jobs, we are all still human, and those sick bastids (I spelt that wrong to add the new England effect) took advantage of a system they knew they could easily access children, and it’s a damn shame.
        This whole Hitler argument is ridiculous, and I don’t care what you believe, or don’t believe rather, the dude was just a twisted eff who used any way he could to appeal to anyone who might support him. He had no real beliefs in any one “religion” so to argue what his religion was is kind of irrelevant. I don’t care if he was Christian or atheist, and as a Christian, even if HE was atheist, I wouldn’t use that against his as to why he was a nut job. Because at the end of the day, he was still just some twisted German with a nasty mustache.
        The end.

    • Hi There

      Not to be an asshole – So priests rape girls too… was this to help.

  • articulett

    Hitler was a Catholic.

    Who started the rumor that Hitler was an atheist? Shame on Mark Shea for continuing the lie. The Nazis considered themselves Christian– not atheist.

    • JA

      Hitler strongly disliked atheists and said secular schools shouldn’t be tolerated.

    • John Purcell

       Wasn’t the whole “Jews are evil, Jews are inferior, Jews killed our Savior ” a Catholic thing? Hitler was simply continuing a Grand Tradition.

      • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

        Well, if you believe the OT, lots of other people didn’t like the Jews either.

        Then again, if you believe the OT, the Jews back then engaged in genocidal warfare under the orders of their god. They were hardly alone in this, which means that sensible people hated ALL their neighbors at that time.

      • TiltedHorizon

        Its was the natural progression of Papal Bull Pope Paul IV authored called: “Cum nimis absurdum”. Which opens with…

        “Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery…”

        It goes on to explain that Jews should be segregated, placed in Ghettos, prohibited from amassing wealth, be forced into unskilled labor, and wear clothing which identifies them as Jewish. 

        Add two parts crazy and mix with some delusions of grandeur and we get a holocaust.

      • Guest

        Jesus _was_ a Jew… how could a Catholic hate Jews if the Catholic Church is only the fulfillment of the Jewish faith!

      • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

        It wasn’t only a Catholic tradition. German anti-Semitism also had some of its roots in protestantism. I’m thinking particularly (but not exclusively) about Martin Luther’s book On the Jews and Their Lies. However, if you want to get all historically nuanced about it there were societal reasons for the bigotry too. It’s not entirely naive to argue that religion was but one factor or even just a rationalisation or cheap excuse.

    • SJH

      Hitler was born Catholic but not practicing. In fact he sent priests to his concentration camps. From his writing you can glene that he was a non-christian and perhaps an atheist though it is hard to pinpoint his actual faith. It seems to me that he was a bit crazy and probably did not have consistent beliefs. I would guess that he put himself first and expected everyone else to put him before any religion.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I would not characterize him as a non-Christian. I’d call him a self-modified Catholic; he held onto a mishmash of Catholic dogma and Germanic mythology. In fact, his version of Christianity was no more extreme than that held by many Latin American Catholics (who often incorporate non-Christian mythology into their Christian mythology), or American fundies, who radically reinterpret Christian mythology.

        Hitler was certainly not remotely atheist.

        • CBrachyrhynchos

          Interestingly, the father of Eugenics, Galton, wasn’t atheist either. 

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Why would anybody expect him to be?

            • CBrachyrhynchos

              The usual argument is that atheism + evolution = social darwinism + eugenics. Although many of the advocates of social darwinism and eugenics historically argued for, at a minimum, faith in faith, while those arguing against it were usually early secular humanists. 

      • Coyotenose

         He referenced the Christian God quite often, and as noted above, punished non-Christians and secular entities. While individual priests were victims of the Nazis, the RCC itself was essentially an ally, and had officially commended the regime. He was certainly just a megalomaniacal opportunist using religion to control people, but that would just be a No True Scotsman argument.

        He was crazy, lacked consistent beliefs, and put himself first, but he was definitely religious.

        • Ken

          So, it appears Hitler was a convenience Christian who made up his own rules of faith.  Hmm, sounds like a lot of Evangelicals in America, especially the prosperity version.

        • Rissa Dawn

          “Religious”
          Everyone is ‘religious’ in some way. 

          Everyone has a religion whether they admit it or not. EVEN ATHEISM IS A RELIGION. To be religious is to believe that something is divine–that which is self-existent and independent of all other things and yet everything else depends upon it and explained by it. The Biblical religions (judeo-christian) believe the divine is an infinite eternal personal being. Pantheists believe that all reality is divine (all is god) and that whatever is not divine is explained as illusory. Pagans believe that an aspect of the world is divine…so the divine is contained within something, a piece. Heck, pythagoreans believed that numbers and numerical relations were divine. And MODERN ATHEISTS believe that matter is divine. They are RELIGIOUS IN MATERIAL THINGS rather than spiritual things. They serve the world and matter. They have more faith in the theory of evolution and the theory that everything can come out of nothing, than the faith needed to believe in God–which does not contradict rationality. 

          The point, yes, Hitler may have been RELIGIOUS, that does not mean he was a Catholic Christian. Someone who wants to be catholic / christian but not believe AND FOLLOW everything Christ teaches through the Church is not truly a Christian at heart. No matter how much one insists he is a monkey because he has similarities or wants to be a monkey, does not make him a monkey. This is precisely why these arguments are so bogus that atheists make. It is obvious since they can’t even acknowledge truth and history: MANY catholics were murdered by the Nazis. FACTS. Not lies. 

          One cannot prove a faith false because it’s followers don’t always follow it. The Christian faith does not present itself as ‘perfect’, but ‘true’. It’s scriptures acknowledge evil doings and sin like no other religious text. It is honest about the reality of sin and wrongdoing even in Christians who do not persevere. There would be no Old Testament and little New Testament if the Church was perfect. Many of Paul’s letters are chastising ‘followers’ and even Peter-the first pope- was chastised in the New Testament. There’s a saying, “You can’t leave Peter because of Judas…hell, you can’t leave Peter because of Peter!” Christ decided to work through imperfect men. Does that make Him not truly God?  Does the fact that Judas betrayed Christ prove that Christ didn’t exist???  Should we not follow Christ because someone else didn’t?  Should just ignore all the beautiful saints who did / do follow Christ? You can be obsessed with lies and sin, or you can accept it and revel in the good and beauty and truth. 

          To judge God’s ways in sin is ridiculous. People fall to sin. Sin is the absence of good, of God. If anything, it is a MIRACLE the Catholic Church is still around because of all the chaff.  But God will separate the wheat and chaff, Himself. He tells us there are weeds! He knows! Why is it so hard to accept? It’s reality! It’s not a case for the non-existence of God. Rather, the fact that we can know abstract things such as love and have the rational to judge what is good and evil, prove we are more than just ACCIDENTAL BLOBS OF CHEMICALS AND ATOMS. 

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

             “ATHEISM IS A RELIGION”

            BOLLOCKS!

          • Hi There

            So god can kill a planet full of people, was everyone there simply Chaff other than Noah and His family and in the bible we’re all born form 2 people so god also tells us we’re incest children in the form of this divine. And how exactly does god tell you does he whisper it in your ear at church?

      • Specops17

        That’s funny; from his speeches, I can glean he was a catholic.

        • Jtmmeasner

          Please provide evidence. What a stupid comment.

          • Hi There

            Hitler’s excuse to kill Jews was that they killed our “Messiah” so… look who read the gospel.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maryliziz Mary Liz Bartell

       Yes Hitler was baptized a Catholic, but he did not practice the Catholic Faith in his adulthood.  His Nazi Regime murdered Catholics too along with the Jews.  Like Maximillian Kolbe and many others who were sympathetic  to the plight of the Jews.  In fact in Poland under the Nazi control before the Communists came the Nazis ordered that the Catholic dioceses could not ordain new priests, but the Church ordained many contrary to that order and one of them became John Paul II later in his life… who was a great advocate for exposing abuse, and directly responsible for opening investigations uncovering cases of abuse in the Church.  Many convents and Churches were looted by Nazis.  Some Catholics were underground, some denied their faith and swore allegiance to the Nazi party out of fear of persecution… sorry to say, Most northern German Nazis were Lutherans or Protestants.  In Bavaria most Germans were raised Catholic.   Hitler while he liked some precepts of the faith was obsessed with the occult, and his fervor for the Arian race was directly opposed to the Love of God in neighbor that the Church espouses.  The Church teaches to Love thy enemy and to pray for them, not their eradication or persecution, but for conversion to Christ… for the Church recognizes itself as the “Bride of Christ” or the Body of Christ, many parts in one function, to bring Christ to the world.  Hitler was not about evangelization or any such effort to promote Christian Ideals.  He was about his own dreams and though many Nazis were “Christians” the powers in charge started persecuting many Catholics and others who were not compliant with Nazi dogma.  

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

         ‘e was a Catholic, get over it.

        (I refuse to call ‘em “cat-lickers” because, dude, cats are awesome, and I don’t want some weird guy in a frock molesting my cat.)

        • http://www.facebook.com/maryliziz Mary Liz Bartell

           As a cat owner I find your humor amusing, but never once was I ever molested by a priest.  I was almost by a 16 year old boyscout, a computer geek, and a cocaine user who was neighborly.   Molestation happens outside of Catholic churches, get over it, all of the ones I met wore jeans and T-shirts.   And I love my Roman Catholic community. 

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Yeah, where did I say that kiddy-fiddling was limited to Catholic priests? I can google “child molestation” and “religious communities” and point you to any number of examples of non-Catholic molesters.

            I don’t see how you can love your community when your “community” is implicitly supporting child molestation.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Sure it happens outside the Catholic Church. But the Catholics are the only organization I know of that systematically sheltered the molesters. They probably still would be if it weren’t for the fact that it’s costing them real dollars now.

            • sue

              ie PENN STATE

            • Jtmmeasner

              Try Southern Baptists. They refuse to keep a database of their molesters. They move from church to church. The Catholic Church keeps a database. I suggest you visit http://www.stopbaptistpredators.org.

      • Onamission5

        Aaaand, the catholic church also helped wanted nazi war criminals escape Europe after the war, and then took more than 50 years to issue an apology. So there’s also that, lest your rewriting of history in your own favor go unchallenged.

      • Stev84

        His Nazi Regime murdered Catholics too along with the Jews

        You can’t write revisionist nonsense like that and be serious about it. Jews were murdered because they were Jews. No Catholic was murdered because they were Catholics. They were killed for other reasons, such as political opposition. If priests kept quiet, they were usually left alone. It was the same for many other groups.

        The only other religious group the Nazis went after systematically were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

        Also, Hitler wasn’t nearly as much into the occult as some people think. Himmler was and Hitler and some others were bemused at it. Not everyone of them bought into the neo-pagan/Nordic stuff to the same extent

        • Jake E

          #Fr.MaximilianKolbe

        • Sue

          you are wrong on so many levels…number one and foremost…catholic’s political beliefs are based on their faith so yes, many catholics were killed for their faith and beliefs…i just love those who write about what they do not KNOW….if you do not understand the faith do not write about it…to draw comparisons between protestants and catholics shows your intellectual flaws….research and study before making such ridiculous “arguments”

          • Hi There

            Well in contrast, catholics and protestants believe that an extremely old man lured animals onto a giant boat after spending most of his life building it and survives a world wide flood because when Martin Luther broke away from the corrupt Roman Catholic Church he still founded Lutherism(Protestantism) with the same bible, how do they “KNOW” this happened, I don’t know or really care what religion or faith you follow but you cannot tell me I do not understand it (followed god blindly for a lot of my life, it was forced) of course to anyone who believes the bible and most of the nonsense in it would think this guy is making an argument, these things can be found in most high school text books…and people are killed every day atheists can understand the value of a human life better than religious people because for them the greatest possible thing is a human, also he never compares the Protestants and Catholics (either way they both profess to Jesus Christ the magic son of  god) he just states they were ok with persecutions and generally co-operated with Hitler because their cowardice exceeded their testicular fortitude. 

        • Jtmmeasner

          So a dead jew counts more than a dead Catholic? I thought murder was murder.

          • Onamission5

            He is neither keeping score nor implying differential value to certain groups of humans. He is merely disallowing revisionist history by correcting someone else’s statement for accuracy.

      • sue

        you are absolutley right, there were many catholics that died under hitler…he was a “god-less” man

    • http://www.facebook.com/jadelackey Jade Lackey

       In many of his speeches he said he was doing god’s work, and was for “good christians”. http://www.inspirationalstories.com/quotes/t/adolf-hitler-on-god/

    • 1strangecatholic

      no he wasnt catholic maybe some form of unavesalist buf for sure not catholic,

  • Fsq

    What do you expect from a group of people who believe a cracker gets turned into the body of a savior dude, and a sippy cup full of bad wine magically turns into the blood of Christ?

    These are people who are already lowering the bar of incredulity.

    Expecting logical arguments from Catholics is like expecting Ronald McDonald to give a well thought out speech on the merits of veganism.

    • banana slug

      “a sippy cup full of bad wine magically turns into the blood of Christ”

      Not entirely true.  I’ve been to some churches where some really excellent wine magically turns into blood.  The crackers are still pretty tasteless though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maryliziz Mary Liz Bartell

        There are Catholics out there that truly believe in God, Jesus, and the Sacraments and Grace, Mercy, Love, which will explain the meaning of life at all levels.  Pre-birth, post-birth, second birth, it’s all in the context of things atheists cannot wrap around because they don’t talk to God, don’t acknowledge God, and find their own intellect far more entertaining on the Web, then anything we believers could type in rebuttal to inane theories of what happens to us when we die… I certainly don’t see the point in trying to argue with Bad Catholic’s blog because if you don’t believe in total what Marc believes then you have absolutely nothing to prove.  Catholics need only prove one thing, that we Love, Know and Serve the Lord.  And we Love God by Loving Atheists, Teaching Atheists, and Serving God by feeding, clothing, and educating atheists all over the world, not to mention healthcare, heat, clean water, housing… drug counseling, AA groups, project Rachael, Catholic Charities, Rural ministries, helping people who aren’t even Catholic to survive through desperate times.  There is no reward in this life, there is no gratitude these days, we don’t get paid for our efforts here, you seem to think that we believe in a tooth fairy.  I believe in something pure and holy, that calls us to be pure and holy.  Evidence of failure to that call happens all the time, even by Apostles and saints who go through a dark night of the soul.  But in the end, we have to Love one another regardless of your opposing views.  Even people who have never encountered this God person of which I speak, have some draw to seek the ones they love in the afterlife.  Ancestor worship, deities, why do human’s seek out the divine, if the seed wasn’t there to seek the divine?  Maybe our “souls” come from someplace that they long to return to, or from a person who Loves us?  If energy cannot be destroyed as Einstein theorized then the part of us that defines our spirit, or the energy that powers our brains must go somewhere when we die!!! I would theorize that it returns either to its source, or it doesn’t.  The source being God would be heaven.  The nothingness – Hell.  Like molecules searching for like molecules those that seek God join together, and those that reject God are drawn to darkness.  Why is that so hard to believe?  The big joke is on you if you die to find there really is a God and that you worked all your life to cause those who believed in him to give up, and to ignore what their hearts tell them.   I don’t think our eternities, be they a mythical heaven of the designs of men like Dante, or if they be visions of mystics like St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, or the Children at Fatima were given, will be anything like you think or I think that they will be like.  How can we wrap minds of limited knowledge around the imagery of a place where there is not any suffering?  A place where God’s light shines perpetually.  And then the extreme opposite, a lake of cold fire, torment, eternal suffering where the ones who reject the Love of God and the Love of Neighbor spend all eternity wallowing in self pity, self-indignation, and perhaps blind hatred of the dupe that they put themselves into by rejecting thousands of years of revelation to the true existence of God and his Love for us children.   Men fail God, not the other way around.  Men test him, they ask for things and then write God off if the prayer isn’t answered in the manner of their expectations.  I’m sorry for poor souls who think God ‘s their personal punching bag.  Every single day I am called to mind how I act, to forgive those who harm me, to love those who persecute me, and to instruct the ignorant, console the grieving, feed the hungry, etc, etc.  Do you think the world would be so bad off if we actually acted the way Jesus instructed us to do?   Heck?  Can you find anything he spoke to be untrue?  Jesus was real, is real, and is alive and well thank you very much.  Only those who seek him will find him, and only those who ask for faith will get it.  I challenge you to seek the Truth.

      • Onamission5

        Have any evidence to support your many, mightily lofty claims, or did you just feel the need to wave your banner for a moment?

        This is the wrong forum to go all incredulous on someone so in the future you might want to keep that in mind.

        • Reade Selle

          Hey, give the girl credit, it’s a really nice banner. Paragraphs might be nice, but other than that, at least she lets you know that she really means it. 

      • Ndonnan

        Thanks Mary,keep up the good work

    • Rissa Dawn

      Logical arguments. Hahaha. Try taking on St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Heck, I met an atheist who was SCARED to read Plato and Aristotle because he knew that by reason alone they concluded there could only be one God and they argued the logical necessity of God to even be discussing morals, natural laws, justice, etc.. All he could do to resist the rationality of God was to indulge in the illogical lies and spins of Christianity. 
      If you’re courageous enough, work yourself up to reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church….all logical, reasonable, and rational. It might be ‘unbelievable’ to you-but that’s your problem. Objectively, it is ‘logical’. 

  • Kodie

    Babies don’t have a really good perspective or any experience how the world works. They think they are the center of the universe and every need is attended to as it occurs. We grow out of that, don’t we? Religious analogies of a faithful adult to god is more like a child of 5-17. I am making up a rough age limit here based on my childhood, but eventually kids ask for more than a parent can allow, and sometimes a child is too young to understand why they cannot get what they desire, and the answer is still “no”. This is how believers describe their relationship with god. 

    I think, for all the abstract comprehension inside an infant’s head, there is a god. They don’t know where things come from, it just appears from these people who stay around. Those people, they will learn, are called parents, and that they went to something called a store and bought that stuff, and they do everything for you because you are helpless. It is not too difficult to think that a growing child’s concepts will continue on this theme in the manner of invention. People want what they cannot have and wish for magic to make it true. But for all the magic appearance of things, we eventually learn that we don’t always have enough money to buy whatever we want, and that it doesn’t just show up in the yard. I don’t really think babies are born atheists, but they are not born with any particular knowledge of a particular god. I also think there is a mythology surrounding what babies do know but can’t tell us, or “wisdom” that is grown out of them by impressing our own information and perspective on them. That is why a Christian might tell you in order to access the god, you have to shed away what you’ve learned and become like a child; open up yourself to what you used to know but forgot with all the learning and experience. Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re young at heart. And that we are only atheists because we are too rigid and learned and rational, as if that’s a terrible way to navigate one’s life.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Babies are certainly atheists. Of course, they’re “a-” just about everything. Maybe the only thing they “believe” is that if they cry loud enough, a teat full of milk will come their way.

    One thing is certain: whatever words you want to use to characterize a baby’s belief system, “atheist” comes a lot closer to the truth than “theist”. And it’s a really stupid argument to suggest that children develop a sense of the supernatural. That’s supposed to bolster the validity of religion? It tells us a lot about how the brain works, and absolutely nothing about the roots of nature. Take three groups of children and raise them separately on islands, and they’ll all come up with their own superstition/naturalism to explain their worlds. None will be the same, and none will resemble Christianity. Hardly what you’d expect if there really was a One God running the show.

  • Fentwin

    So, children innately invoke the supernatural to explain various phenomena because, I’m guessing, they have yet to learn the scientific method of investigation.

    Based on this, I’m willing to say that perhaps while babies are not atheists by strict definition, it seems we can safely say that most religionists think like children.

  • Alexandra

    I lol’ed at the accidentally attributing this to Shea. 

    This piece is much more like Shea’s nonsense than Barnes’s usual style. 

    Anyway, he’s just trolling.  Barnes recent posts have been more often been about atheism than Catholicism.  But what can you expect from a 19 yr old with an internet connection? 

    • Kubricks_Rube

      You’ve been doing good work in the comment sections over there. I applaud your patience.

  • Onamission5

    The only counter argument I have heard that remotely holds water regarding babies and atheism is that they are agnostic because babies have no knowledge of deities one way or another. Sure, says I, but they are also atheists because they don’t believe in deities. Anyone who claims that babies are not atheists is welcome to explain to me in which deity or deities an infant believes.

    So, infants are agnostic atheists because they neither know about nor believe in deities, while I am a gnostic atheist because I know about deities and still don’t believe they exist.

    • amycas

       That’s an odd use of the word “gnostic.”  Normally a person says they are a “gnostic atheist” because they claim to know that no gods exist.

    • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

      Infants are implicit atheists regardless of what kind of magical thinking they might be predisposed to entertain as they grow into cognition.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit_atheism

      I don’t think it’s right to call infants agnostics though, since agnosticism is a deliberate epistemological position. Infants don’t have a position on epistemology for the same reason that they don’t have a position on the existence of gods – i.e. because they don’t have a position on anything whatever.

    • Seekingalways

      I feel the beginning premise is wrong.   Arguing that an infant is anything other than “innocent” or at least ignorant is to start with a false premise.  The age of reason, of self-aware consciousness, is commonly considered to be around the age of 8 by psychologists.  So if you argue that an infant is an Atheist, you are wrong.  If you argue that an infant is an Agnostic, you are wrong.  If you argue that an infant is a Theist, you are again wrong.  They are merely aware, but not self-aware.   You can’t make an argument either way, other than that they have a very basic sense of existence and that they themselves do exist. 

      • Seekingalways

         To clarify:  To be either of the three options above (Atheist, Agnostic or Theist) requires a choice.  (Even if you were to self identify as Agnostic, it’s still a “choice”).  That issues from a fully-formed consciousness. An infant doesn’t have that…  Maybe I’m getting too cute, but I don’t think the argument holds any way you look at it.

  • Guest

    Something tells me I’ll regret this, but I’d like to offer the perspective of at least one devout Catholic on the pedophilia scandals.

    Here is something that many non-Catholics don’t realize about the Catholic Church:  It is very common for priests to be moved around from parish to parish, for reasons that have nothing to do with any sort of scandal.  Some people picture all Christian churches on the congregationalist Protestant model — a group of 100 or so close-knit people who have a single well-loved pastor for, say, 20 or 30 years, until he eventually retires, and then they get a new one.  But Catholic parishes don’t work that way.  Priests are assigned to their parishes by the bishop, who takes into account various factors, including the relative strengths and weaknesses of a given priest, and they rotate the priests on a fairly regular basis.  There are several good reasons for this.  Priests try very heroically to wear dozens of different hats all at once, with varying levels of success.  Someone comfortable with one-on-one counseling may give lousy sermons.  Someone good at grief counseling may be bad a marriage counseling.  Priests at the beginning of their careers may more easily connect with college-age kids, and so they are assigned to campus ministries.  Older priests are sometimes better at ministering to those who are ill or dying.  Some priests offer highly intellectual sermons about ancient Greek and Hebrew, while others are more plain-spoken and discuss ordinary daily struggles.  The former might be better suited for a community grappling with intellectual doubts, while the latter might better suit a community dealing with intense personal tragedy.  In short, it would be unfair for one community to never hear a lecture about Church history in the 30 years it takes a minister to retire, while another community is stuck with a lousy marriage counselor for 30 years.   So priests are rotated.  Also, some Catholic parishes are tiny, while others are huge – over 9000 people – and a shortage of priests means that sometimes one or two overworked people are ministering to all those thousands, and they’d quickly get burnt out if they were there for more than a few years.  Finally, the rotation of priests is designed to help ensure that a “cult of personality” doesn’t form around a popular figure, where the personality of the priest becomes more important to people than the tenets of the faith. The Church rejects the idea that the differences between different Christian denominations are trivial, and resents modern trends in “church-shopping” where people move around until they find the priest or minister that they feel the best “connection” with.  The idea is to accept the priest you have and realize that Christ and the Eucharist are more important.  A regular rotation of priests is thought to help the congregation focus on what is permanent and unchanging:  Christ’s love, and the endurance of the Church He founded.

    So when non-Catholics hear about a priest being moved from one parish to another, they might immediately assume “Cover up!  Mens rea!  Why else would a priest be transferred??”  But any Catholic would know that there would be nothing remarkable about a priest being transferred in and of itself.  It happens all the time.  I read the articles in the media about various sex abuse accusations, and the only conclusion I can reach at the end of most articles is, “I still have no idea what actually happened, but I hope the accusations aren’t true.  But whether or not they are true, thank God that additional reporting protocol and safeguards are being put in place for the future.”  I think a lot of people want to assume the worst about the Catholic Church whenever possible, and so they read articles that say almost nothing factual and then somehow walk away with the conclusion, “Yeah, they did it!  Those monsters!”  

    • Alexandra

      That is a good point that I hadn’t thought of before.  I grew up Catholic, and I remember the rotation of priests.  The movement of priests is unrelated to the abuse scandals. 

      That said, you say that people are so quick to demonize the Catholic Church and say, “Yeah, they did it!  Those monsters!” That true, but it’s because they did do it, and it is monstrous. 

      • Guest

        I understand and agree that some of them did do it, and that is monsterous.  My point was that when the public takes a neutral fact like priest rotation and reads it as proof of a larger cover-up, that to me suggests a eagerness to demonize even those who may be wrongly accused.  And when calm-headed, cradle-Catholics like yourself never considered that there are neutral reasons for priest rotation, that strengthens my opinion that the media stories presented are incomplete.  I am hopeful that justice will prevail in the criminal and civil trials, for all involved.

        • Alexandra

          I just never saw how it was relevant that abusers were moved around.  I mean it’s still awful, even if it wasn’t specifically part of the cover up.  Covering up of sex abuse happened, and while the rotation of priests might be a normal thing, it definitely is especially awful that these men were rotated instead of removed.

          There might be a legitimate reason for the moves, but it’s nothing more than an interesting explanation, it doesn’t matter why it happened, it matters than it happened.

          • JohnnieCanuck

            What you are managing to ignore is that getting exposed as a child abuser is typically cause for an immediate rotation. As soon as the lid can no longer be kept on the situation, the hierarchy solves their little problem by whisking him off somewhere else. Tabula rasa.

            He gets to start over. With a fresh batch of innocents and unsuspecting parents.

            So yes, most priests are rotated without having been involved in criminal abuse of children. However you have offered no evidence that rotation has not been the standard response that attempts to avoid embarrassing Mother Church and her hierarchy.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think anyone is jumping to conclusions based on neutral priest rotations. Hide your head in the sand. It certainly makes it easier to cover up abuse, but nobody’s going “look at that, it must be another pedophile they’re covering up!” The abuse happened/happens. You are accusing people of saying bad things about your church on rumors and speculation, and you are happy to ignore it because it just looks like business as usual, and the media is making too much of it. The media isn’t making enough of it, in my opinion. You seem to think they ever see their day in court, and assume this is how it goes in your church. I can imagine you think, if it were as prevalent as the media says, there would be a lot more court cases, and making your own backwards assumption that no court cases means it’s not happening.

          It’s not being reported because it’s being covered up. Systematically, from the top. The rotations make it really convenient for you to see nothing amiss.

        • amycas

           We know that priests are routinely rotated, that’s no the problem. We also know that many times (and there are documents to prove this) once complaints about the priest started coming in, they were transferred to another parish. When we say “they move abusive priests from parish to parish,” we’re not referencing the routine rotation, we’re referencing the multitude of times that the priests were rotated specifically to cover-up the abuse. The rotation of the priest to another parish as part of a cover-up is important to understand. By moving the priest, they are often moving them out of the jurisdiction of whatever civil authority there was at their previous location. This makes it sometimes impossible for the civil authority to investigate and charge the priest. They were rotating the priests, after complaints were made, specifically to keep the civil authorities from investigating and punishing the priests. The rotation also allowed the abusive priest access to a new crop of potential victims, among people who had no idea about complaints from previous parishes.

    • Stev84

      That depends on where you are I guess. It’s not universal and probably varies from country to country. In my experience and from what I hear from the past, priests tend to stay where they are as long as possible. Sometimes indeed decades. That has only changed recently with the drastic shortage of priests and the resulting reorganization of parishes.

      Also, the pedophile scandal is really just one of countless crimes the Catholic church is responsible for. Without going through the middle ages, there are for example the Magdalene asylums in Ireland where young women where held in virtual slavery and physically, mentally and sexually abused. Some for “crimes” such as being too flirty or too pretty.
      In Spain, Australia and other countries they have for decades stolen and sold the babies of tens of thousands of mothers whom they deemed unfit parents. They told them their children had died and then placed them for adoption.
      Or their support for all kinds of dictatorships all over South America and in Spain.

      • Ndonnan

        Dont know why you would think any baby has been sold in Australia.Orphans were sent from other countries last century,but sold,never

    • Mitch W.

      OK, much of what you state is in fact true, but it is about 99% irrelevant.  You are rationalizing the horrors that are known to have happened with technical operational details that don’t apply.  You, and millions upon millions of well meaning, but misguided Catholics just like you are the absolute power behind actual horrors.  By rationalizing and minimizing crimes, plus your financial support, you give the current Pope (Ben the Rat was personally involved in several known cover-ups), the College of Cardinals, and the Bishops the power they need to skirt the law, and forego justice. 

      I have known many Catholic priests in my life, and have liked almost all of them.  To the best of my knowledge, they were all good people, and none molested children.  I was educated, quite well I might add, by Christian Brothers in Jr High and High School; I know some of them were gay, and I know of none that molested a single child, and can’t even imagine they would.  I’ve personally met three Arch Bishops, and I had concerns about only one of those guys because he managed to become personally, exceptionally wealthy by the time he finally died at like 92 years old (vows of poverty and what-not). So 2 out of 3 Arch Bishops are good, right?  WRONG! 

      This problem spans countries and continents; local churches and Bishops could not have covered this up without the explicit support of RCC “Management.”  It was shown in several cases that did make it to court in the US that church management’s number 1 concern was to protect the reputation of the Church.  They thought the best way to protect the church was to prevent the truth from coming out, so they tried to cover it up. They went that way because in their mind, the church was so important to civilization that it was better to allow a few pedophiles to get away with child abuse than to soil the name of the church, because the Church was so important you see.  They used Mr. Spock’s axiom, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” but they got the whole many and few parts backwards.  To RCC management, the many was the church management, and the few were the molested children; in reality the many was society, and the few was church management, and the church’s reputation.  I think, when you believe you are working for a god, it’s both easy and common to make BIG freaking mistakes in logic like that.

      If you want to stop hearing the complaints of the atheist community about the ‘sins’ of the RCC, then you, as a devout Catholic, should cease the rationalizations post haste, and convince all the other good people in the pews with you to withhold all financial support of the RCC until the evil Nazi Pope returns Cardinal Law to Boston to face the charges against him.  The church should also hand over all other known / and accused pedophiles to the civil authorities in the place where each crime was alleged.  The RCC may punish the offenders for their crimes against god, but only the local authorities get to punish them for their crimes against children.

      Sorry for the rant, and I don’t mean this as a personal attack against you, Guest. It just frustrates me so damn much that you and the other parishioners have the power to fix the church’s problem, but not by rationalizing the crime.  You have to hold management’s butt to the fire, and make them come clean.  Treat the RCC management like you’d treat a drug addict (their drug is power), and hold them accountable for every freakin’ action, and every word out of their mouth, and don’t stop until you’re convinced they have been “clean” for years.  Even once they are clean for years, you still have to be on the look-out for future slips.  Quit enabling the no-account bastards, and make then freakin’ accountable.

      MmKay?

  • SJH

    1. Your statement that babies do not believe in God because babies don’t have a full understanding of God, does not make sense to me. They don’t have a full understanding of anything. None of us do. That does not mean that they innately are or are not atheists.

    2. The vast majority of the priests which you refer to were not pedophiles. This was something created by the media. Most of the priest’s victims were post-pubescent. This means that it was more of a homosexual priest problem. Obviously the local bishops should not have tried to cover anything up but that does not mean that you throw out a whole religion for a few problem individuals.  If someone is sick enough, not even their faith will save them. It is also my understanding that the public school system has a much higher rate of such incidents.

    3. The insistence on the literal interpretation of Genesis is a relatively new concept. Many of the earliest Christians did not believe this even before modern science revealed anything otherwise.

    • Alexandra

      No, #2 is pure garbage. 

      73% of the victims of the sex abuse were under the age of 12.  That is pre-pubescent. 

      • SJH

        I saw that number on wikipedia but there is conflicting information on the web. I found something thatstated that about 63% were above the age of 13. Even though, this is less than my previous understanding so the correction is well taken. This, however does not address the issue that you cannot throw an entire religion out for the bad behavior of a few. That would simply be prejudice.

        • Alexandra

           You can throw the religion out for plenty of reasons.

          One of them would be that it makes otherwise good people come up with excuses for sex abuse of minors.  Like claiming that it’s not actually a big deal because most of them were teenagers.  That’s not true on any level.

          • Mitch W.

            I wanted to reply to SJH’s nonsense as well, but this hits the nail right on the head.

            Also, I was never a Catholic, but I went to Catholic schools for most of my primary and secondary education.  I’ve never known Catholics to teach the Old Testament as factual / scientific history.  They consider it allegory, or that’s what they taught me in religion class anyway.  I’m surprised a Catholic would answer the light before the star issue like that, which causes me to question the actual religious knowledge of the original knuckle-head this article was written about.

            • Alexandra

              Marc is just being an asshat.  He’s normally pretty reasonable and insightful, but he’s getting off on the attention he’s getting from atheists right now.  I don’t think anyone is proud of his addressing Genesis this way. 

              • Reade Selle

                I don’t much mind. It seems reasonable that God could have created photons before he created stars. 

        • CBrachyrhynchos

          Church sex scandals have very little to do with my atheism. I wasn’t a Christian for almost a decade before I became atheist and my doubts about Christianity are purely theological.

          However, as an abuse survivor I’m outraged at the Catholic church for many of the same reasons I’m outraged at Penn State. When a person commits child abuse, shame on them. When an organization conspires to push the problems of an abuse under the rug, (and we have reasonable evidence of such in both cases, at least at the regional level) shame on the institution. While both have the potential to clean house so to speak, I’m not obligated to extend my trust to them. 

        • Coyotenose

          Molesting children above the age of 13 is not technically pedophilia, but an obscure word I can’t recall, but the point still stands. Trying to diminish the suffering of children like that is simply playing word games in defense of evil.

          And this issue has nothing to do with homosexuality, thanks. That’s a myth invented by bigots. Pedophila/”adolescentphilia” occurs in homosexuals at the same rate as in heterosexuals. This is an issue with people whose minds are knotted up with a contradictory, shame-based religion that forces them to compartmentalize everything they know and believe and adds sexual frustration to the mix. Then said religion ENABLES them by letting them see how its members get sanctioned protection when they commit crimes against children.

          Your last two sentences indicate that you’re pretending the religion did not protect the molesters. And no, condemning an institution that commits overt, proven evil is nothing like prejudice. I recommend reading a book.

          • Stev84

            Hebephilia is the attraction to young pubescent youth (ca. 11-14), while ephebophilia is the attraction to mid-to-late adolescents

            • AAA

              What is the -philia  of waiting for young female actors (the olson twins, emma watson, etc) to turn 18?

          • SJH

            Not trying to excuse it just trying to understand the issue.
            The religion does not give sanctioned protection some of the bishops unfortunately gave them protection when they should not have. This, again speaks nothing of the institution because the institution is comprised of billions of bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people whom had nothing to do with the actions of a few and who do not sanction, condone or protect any pedophiles. So it seems to me that it is prejudice.
            Also, sorry about bringing homosexuality into the discussion. I can see how my statement has some implications and I apologize to anyone that was offended.

            • JohnnieCanuck

              The RCC may indeed consist mostly of people that have not actively committed or hidden child abuse.

              That does not make a single one of them blameless, especially the Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals. They supported evil by taking no action (though perhaps they prayed). They closed their eyes, allowing it to be hidden and hoped it wouldn’t happen again.To be blameless, a Catholic must have done everything possible to prevent abuse. That would include outing every priest known by them as an abuser, and as a first priority, to the civil authorities. 

            • Patterrssonn

               Hard to believe there were any bishops or even priests unaware of the problem, considering how routine it was to shop the pedophiles around once they were found out.
              Personally I think its the result of the church’s stance on sex, since all sex is sin to a priest there is no difference between sex with a child or sex with an adult.

        • Patterrssonn

           “This, however does not address the issue that you cannot throw an entire religion out for the bad behavior of a few”

          Considering the pedophilia was covered up, in other words aided and abetted, by the present pope and the church in general, I think you pretty much can.

        • Derrik Pates

          The problem with the Catholic Church wasn’t even the pedophilia – it was the fact that the whole church hierarchy decided that their public image was more important than stopping their own priests (however small or large a segment that actually made up) from raping kids. The child-rape was widespread, but arguably not “institutional”; the cover-up was.

          That’s why people are painting the entire Catholic Church, and those who continue to follow the Catholic faith, with a broad brush – because they seem to have no problem with doing nothing about it, and the hierarchy and their followers are still, even after all the surprise and promises of “taking care” of the problem, they’d still rather hide the problem and protect their image, instead of keeping kids from getting raped. Can you seriously argue against that?

          • Reade Selle

            Are they doing nothing about it?

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      1. Your statement that babies do not believe in God because babies don’t have a full understanding of God, does not make sense to me. They don’t have a full understanding of anything. None of us do. That does not mean that they innately are or are not atheists.

      Babies can’t believe in gods. They don’t have the mental ability. Furthermore, you can’t believe in something you’ve never heard of. If you take some babies and raise them on an island without ever mentioning gods or goddesses, they will not spontaneously start believing in them. Belief requires an introduction to the concept first.

  • David

    Most young  children believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy and grow out of it. Even if they are taught about other supernatural beings they are as free to reject them as they are Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Not so. Society allows older children to see the ‘harmless deception’ involving Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

      You don’t graduate from Sunday School when cookies and games can no longer fool you into believing the stories. No-one in the Church is likely to acknowledge your doubts, let alone implicitly congratulate you for seeing through it all, as a rite of passage.

  • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

    That study is quite a stretch. So because children can’t process different point of views before the age of four, that means they’re inherently theists? What? How does that make sense? Sure, children are limited in their reasoning capacities but since when did that equate to a belief in gods? Wait, forget I said anything. I think Marc Barnes might be making a tacit concession here…

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Barnes says that religion is innate! Babies believe in the supernatural from early on! One study showed it! So there!

    I can never figure out why theists think this is a point in their favor. In the first place, children will adopt whatever supernatural beliefs you teach them. All that proves is that children are easily swayed towards magical thinking. It doesn’t indicate that a particular god is real, since children are not predisposed to believe in one god over another, or even any god at all, if their culture happens not to have one.

    And second of all, there is no control group! You can’t say that theism is innate when you are studying children who all live in the same theistic culture. Even children with atheist parents are exposed to religion in the media, at school, etc. In order to examine whether god-belief arises naturally, you would have to separate out the two groups and study them over time, in isolation, to make sure that your secular pool wasn’t contaminated. No one has ever that, and (for practical reasons) it seems unlikely that we could ever conduct such a social experiment today.

  • Jay E.

    “When parents teach children — who are not old enough to challenge them —
    that Genesis is factual or that they must pray five times a day (or
    else!), that is a form of abuse because you’re not allowing the child to make up his or her own mind about a very serious issue.”

    Once again, atheists make the mistake of assuming that our religion should stay within the four walls of a church and should have no bearing upon how individuals (much less families) live their lives. My religion is not a private thing, bro. When I believe something is true, and when this truth happens to be the most important information one can ever come to know, you bet your life I’ll teach it to my kids.

    “Yes, there are also other pedophiles out there in other professions.
    But the pedo-priests’ devout faith obviously didn’t stop them from
    committing these awful crimes. So what good did it do?”

    It may well have done a whole lot of good, had it been devout faith. Clearly the faith of the pedophile priests was not devout. Contrast their faith to the faith of thousands of saintly holy devout priests and celibates living out their celibacy in joy. It was Chesterton who said: Christianity has not been tried and found lacking, it has been found difficult and left untried. Your argument that the pedophile priests had devout faith is laughable, especially if you know much about the degradation of seminary formation since the 70s. And thus, essentially, the argument is an ad hominem. If you want to judge how the Catholic faith affected peoples lives, look at the saints: the ones with devout faith.

    As for Genesis, atheists would prefer Catholics to be Fundamentalists who believe that Genesis is some sort of scientific explanation of the creation of the world. We have never believed so. It’s alarming on how much atheists and fundamentalists would prefer to agree, if anything because they’re arguments are stupid and easy to refute.

    • amycas

       1) So you’re saying your children won’t be allowed to make up their own minds. If it can’t stand up to scrutiny, it’s not worth believing.

      2) Your argument about priests is a “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

      3) Hemant’s article is a direct response to a Catholic trying to reconcile Genesis with actual science. If you have a problem with Catholics treating Genesis like science, then go complian to the Catholic blogger.

      ps. sorry about typos, hurt my writst at work, so it’s hard to type.,

      • Reade Selle

        …What if the Scotsman really is no true Scottsman? I’m being a little simple here, but I don’t think it is actually a “No True Scotsman” argument. 

      • newenglandsun

        There was actually a priest by the name of Cutie (no joke) who left the Catholic Church after they caught him cheating on a woman. He’s now an Episcopalian. While no one lives up to perfect standards, there is a point that was made by Jay E.

        To insist that the Catholic Church has done nothing and has taken no disciplinary action against the priests as most anti-Catholic bigots argue is actually telling a lie because they have done a lot.

  • Jake E
  • Zmeck

    Mr. Mehta, you are, of course, correct when you point out that the evil of the abuse perpetrated by priests is not mitigated by statistics.  You make an insightful point reminding us that the scandal of abuse is far greater in the Church, that claims to connect people with God, than in secular institutions. I promise you the members of the Church who really seek to live and be in union with Christ are deeply disturbed and even angry about this horrendous breach of trust. However, while it is a terrible tragedy when men called to a higher standard fail so wretchedly, injuring the innocent, this horrible aberrant behavior is not the standard to judge the true Church by. The Body of Christ may be diseased in its members, but that does not make it an inherently evil entity. Every organization must be cleansed and renewed from time to time, returning to its principles. The reason such corruption has tainted some of the structure and operation of Christ’s Body is actually because of concessions to SECULAR thoughts. I am NOT accusing ‘secular’ people of being horrible human beings. I am sharing the truth that when one begins to obscure the fulfillment and end of human nature, along with the means to attain that end, it becomes much easier to find oneself doing evil things. I DO NOT speak as some pure, perfect paragon of virtue and excellence, but as just another human being with foibles and personal difficulties.
    Have a great day!

  • Aaron Alford

    Especially regarding number 3, did you actually read Barnes’s piece?  Barnes is not a Creationist, and never claims that Genesis should be taken at face-value.  

    Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy, dude.  Elevate the conversation or get out of it.

  • http://twitter.com/lovellspice lovellespice

    see alvin plantinga’s “properly basic beliefs” and understand why babies can’t be atheists :)

    • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

       Begging the question. There is a difference of opinion between Plantinga and most atheists about what atheism entails. Google implicit atheism.

  • dr_esq

    Responding to most of these “points” (ugh, I hate that I just used quotes there) feels a little like entering one of those pettifogging arguments that misses the point before it began. Nevertheless, we Catholics are found of self-flagellation, so, what the… heck. 

    While babies may not engage in any doctrinal religion, there has always been and will always be (Nietzsche be damned) a preternatural thrust towards a higher power- something that you obviously can’t say about anything that’s not a sentient being (read: animals). This has been the case for as long as there have been humans and will continue to be the case despite the desire of atheists to desire otherwise. 

    There is simply something lacking in this place that the world does not have to offer. That something is powerful enough to make life not worth living. IF our deeds mean nothing to us, as in, it serves no purpose of the self other than perhaps vanity, there is no meaning to life. How can there be meaning to you, personally, on your deathbed, if what you did ultimately will die with you or, at best, a few generations away from you?

    Because, guess what, by definition, there is no future, yet. Posterity fundamentally doesn’t exist. The only answer to, “is there a purpose of life?” that answer with a “yes,” is with a higher power. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-A-Carlson/100001401488797 David A. Carlson

    The thing about the six day creation thing is this, people just dont know what a day is. They assume it is a 24 hour period. But that is only a terrestrial day, there is also a galactic day and a cosmic day. And maybe even a universal day. One galactic year is not 365 earth days. Its something like 15000 years. One cosmic year is even larger. So a universal day may be several eons, or several billion eons.

  • Jdungan7070

    None of your arguments are very good Hemant.

    1) Not everyone starts out believing in God

    How does this prove that God doesn’t exist??

    2) People who believe in God do bad things

    Duh!

    3) Genesis doesn’t quite make sense scientifically

    Genesis was never meant to be read as a science textbook. Come on!

    The problem with atheism is that it is not pro-atheism but rather anti-religion. You need to fix this Hemant.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      It would help if you would accurately characterize what Hemant said. For instance, on 1), he said:

      Well, babies don’t believe in god the same way that many adults do… so we’re not actually off base. Still, no atheist ever suggests that babies are thinking, “There’s no proof for God’s existence.” We’re saying babies aren’t mature enough to consider questions about the supernatural at all.

      And for 3), Barnes is the one who was making the argument for a scientific (even if non-literal) reading of Genesis by saying that photons could have been created before the “light carriers.”

      Finally, atheism is not inherently anti-religious but a-religious. Get your facts right.

  • Bjcub13

    You logic is completely flawed.  Sorry.

  • newenglandsun

    Off to make a White Russian on par with Marc’s command. Good thing I’m old enough to drink now.

  • newenglandsun

    Sorry, make that two. No…maybe four is there. Does anybody know if Marc wants us to make two for every paragraph quoted out of context?

    Any way, I’ll be drinking a lot and that’s all.


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