Should We Care That Pope Francis Said That Atheists, Too, Can Be Redeemed?

During yesterday’s Mass in Rome, Pope Francis made some noteworthy remarks that go against the Protestant notion that only those who believe in Christ’s divinity can be saved. (Sure, he’s Catholic, and this belief is nothing new, but we’re still not used to hearing it from someone in his position.)

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

Damn… this Pope’s making it really difficult to dislike him. Compared to the legacy the last one left behind, it’s like Francis is dragging Catholicism into the 19th century.

Of course, the underlying message — that were all “redeemed” because Christ died for us — is just fiction to atheists. You may also think it’s condescending to suggest that atheists need to be redeemed (from what, exactly?), but to have the Pope reiterate to Catholics that they’re not the only special ones is a big deal.

One commenter on Huffington Post put it perfectly: “I’m glad to know that an imaginary being has granted me imaginary forgiveness.”

Still, to have a religious leader of any sort tell his followers that people who aren’t part of the faith can be good and “saved” is a huge step forward. Usually, it’s the exact opposite.

Now if only he would come around on marriage equality and find a way to rein in the sexual abuse within the Church…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • dats3

    Should we care…? I think we should from the perspective that he’s trying to be more inclusive. I’m starting to get the sense from this pope that he’s more of a humanitarian that previous popes. I think we should care about that. From my perspective though, I don’t much care what others believe or say as much as I care what they do. So let’s see what he does from this point on. But you know, I can’t help but wonder if this is some sort of ruse. I guess I’m a skeptic but not surprise there.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Unless it’s about the teh gayz. Or women needing an abortion due to medical issues(or for any reason). Or condoms in Africa.

      • dats3

        Absolutely. Let’s see what the guy does. I’m honestly shocked at his remarks. Seems to me if he backs up his remarks about atheists then surely gays and birth control/abortion can’t be far behind. However, I’ll believe it when I see it.

        • dats3

          BTW, don’t take my remarks to mean I give two flying f*(ks about what he says to begin with.

        • The Other Weirdo

          I wouldn’t be so sure. I was told once, by a Catholic Bishop, that where homosexuality and birth control/abortion is concerned, the Church is firmly set on the OT side of things because its about sexuality-based. Everything is mutable, but not the sex-based prohibitions. I suppose it stands to reason that a group of sexless, dried up old men who had purposely cut themselves off from human existence are so obsessed with sex.

  • Gus Snarp

    If you’re having trouble disliking him, remember that he also said in his first homily as Pope

    he who doesn’t pray to the Lord prays to the devil.

    So yeah, he’s laid some nice liberal theology on us in this speech, but I’m pretty sure he’s not actually saying we get into heaven, especially since he also says we worship the devil. I’d rather just not hear a pope ever mention atheists again than to keep using us as a rhetorical tool.

    • http://www.honestuniverse.com/ Mark Hanna

      I’m not familiar with the context, but that sounds to me like it’s referring to people who pray to other gods, rather than people who don’t pray at all.

  • MD

    Point 1: the bar is set so low, that it really isn’t that difficult for Francis to be perceived as a nice Pope.

    Point 2: Many Catholics I know will be hearing from their boss that atheists are real! And can even be good people!

  • Gus Snarp

    You can also keep disliking him if you remember that he was silent in the face of a murderous government and possibly complicit with it, but incredibly vocal when it came to opposing a government that decided to allow gay marriage and adoption. So either he’s a moral coward or his morals are reprehensible and he thinks a loving gay couple getting married and adopting a child and giving her a loving home is worse than a government murdering its own citizens.

    • Hat Stealer

      Yup. Pay no attention to what amounts to lip-service from the new Pope. Pay attention to his policies, and you’ll see that (so far) he’s just as reprehensible as his predecessors.

  • YourDad

    “But do good: we will meet one another there.”

    I think this is an important notion, coming from a Christian. And frankly, it’s what I as a non-believer try to emphasize: it’s not what you say, or claim, but what you actually *do* that makes you a good person. It places an emphasis on action, which is what we non-believers keep saying is important.

    Now all he needs to do is pull the demon outta me and I’ll be all set!

  • primenumbers

    That’s interesting. He’s basically told us there’s no point to his religion at all. Nice.

    • YourDad

      I know, right? Here I was, just sitting at work, and I come to find I’ve been redeemed!

    • Ders

      I think what it boils down is that you don’t need to believe in jesus or god, but you are definitely not allowed to use birth control or be gay or anything like that. If you do any of those things you better give the catholic church some money.

      • C Peterson

        If you’re a priest, you’re allowed to stick your pecker anywhere you please. It’s only the laity that have to follow all the silly rules.

        • Ders

          Here’s how I think the new logic* has to go:
          1) Everybody is born with original sin and destined for hell.
          2) Through being good we can redeem ourselves and go to heaven.
          3) If we’re good, but we do even one little thing that is bad (as determined by Catholicism), then we go to hell.
          4) If we’ve done good, but have done anything bad as well, we can only go to heaven if we repent with Catholic priests, and start giving the Catholic church money.
          5) Since a priest can forgive himself (not herself obviously) and since giving money to yourself doesn’t have any meaning, a priest can basically do whatever he (not she) wants as long as he immediately forgives himself (not herself!).

          *This isn’t really logic and I do not ascribe to this silliness.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Ders:
            Every single one of your points is false. Your whole post is a crude caricature that has nothing to do with authentic Christianity. No wonder you reject Christianity if this farcical picture is what you believe about it.

            • Ders

              Andre:
              This is a comment on an atheist blog. There was some mild sarcasm in there just so you know. My rejection of Christianity is actually based upon a lack of evidence in support of God and God claims coupled with my analysis from reading the Bible. The supposed morals mixed in with the mythology of the Judeo-Christian God are absolutely horrible. Nowhere does it condemn slavery or child abuse. In fact, it actually strongly suggests it. Furthermore, it’s bigoted approach to homosexuality is extremely unfounded. Finally, I find that a book written in the Bronze Age by ignorant, barbaric people to be a poor choice of wisdom and advice.

              Is that better?

              • Andre Villeneuve

                Better? Hardly.

                You will of course never find empirical evidence or “proof” of God’s existence since He is spirit. However, it’s hardly more rational to believe that a world manifesting beauty, order, intelligence and love just created itself out of some random explosion billions of years ago.

                As for the Bible, authentic Christianity does not live by the Old Testament morals, which are indeed very much a product of their time. You fail to distinguish between the common ethics of the Ancient Near East (and God’s “accommodation”, so to speak, to man’s mentality back then), and the progressive unfolding of revelation as found in the New Testament and in the teachings of the Church (which obviously condemns slavery and child abuse, despite the grave failures of 1-2% of the clergy).

                You may find the Christian approach to homosexuality “bigoted” but the fact is that all sane civilizations, most religions, and most people of good will have always understood that there is a certain compatibility (sexual, emotional, etc…) between man and woman that “makes” marriage in a way that is not possible with same-sex couples. Any child can figure this out (for example, just looking at human anatomy), unless he/she has been brainwashed with modern secularist propaganda and its attempts at deconstructing the most foundational unit of society.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Oh for fuck’s sake.

                • C Peterson

                  You have no concept of how modern science understands the creation and evolution of the Universe. That said, your entire argument falls because if you are unwilling to accept a natural universe because it seems too complex, it is logically impossible to accept an even more complex god that was somehow there to create it.

                  I don’t know what “authentic” Christianity is, but the reality is, a good many people who consider themselves Christian take a good chunk of their moral beliefs from the Old Testament (as the words of Jesus require). The morality of the Old Testament is very poor by modern standards, of course, but nowhere near as poor as those of the New Testament.

                • Ders

                  Thank you C Peterson. For a while I was dealing with this person alone and it was getting very frustrating. Showing up on an atheist blog and expecting reverence to Christianity is a poor demonstration of decision making ability. Lol.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It was perhaps getting frustrating because someone is calling you out on your deceptive misrepresentations. Or is honesty an optional/negotiable value for atheists?

                • Ders

                  As an atheist I’m quite used to debating and being debated with, but you are a special breed of annoying. You just make claims and expect people to agree with you. You have said nothing on this ATHEIST blog that we haven’t heard before. We have rejected all of those arguments, and so have most serious thinkers. Go ahead and go back to your church and tell everyone about how illogical you think atheists on the internet are. I’m sure they’ll love it. The real truth is you are the one who is not used to criticism because you live in a world where criticizing religion has been taboo for centuries and centuries. Grow some thicker skin or go somewhere else.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I repeat: I don’t expect you to agree with me and I have no problem with criticism. It does seem to me, however, that fairly representing the positions of your opponent is a reasonable request in any honest debate.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Which you have not done. You have made up positions to attribute to several people here, while switching around your own words weasel-style. I repeat: we are no strangers to your garbage apologetics, or to your childish demands that any claim you make about how X affects Y be taken as truth without evidence. If you could read for comprehension, you would know this already.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You seem to be quite blind to your own ad hominem insults and very arrogant tone. I am quite willing to admit that my replies have not all been the most well thought out, but I am doing my best. I would like to see you simultaneously debate something like 10 people at the same time. On the other hand, I am not aware of switching my own positions.

                • Ders

                  This is not something I have to always do. If you want me to, I will. Please don’t pull the “no true Scotsman” trick on me and say that real Christians just do good things. In reality, religion creates false power that is routinely abused. I am fully opposed to this. That is what I have to say.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Very true: there are good atheists, and there are very bad Christians. As the saying goes, Christians are not perfect, they’re forgiven. You will find “false power that is routinely abused” wherever you will find human beings. It seems to me pretty hypocritical to just bash the Church in this respect. For every case of “abuse of power” you will find hundreds of humble priests, ministers and lay people who honestly strive to serve each other as Jesus commanded.

                • Ders

                  And how exactly do you know that I “just” bash the church in this respect? I bash all sorts of abuses of power. The Catholic Church happens to be the one we’re talking about here. Look, everything you say is full of the kind of assumptions and generalities that you think you are warning us of here. For every dollar spent on Bibles, the church could be feeding the hungry. I realize there are good Christians, but Christianity is not what makes them good. Sweden has done just fine being a secular place. The difference is that Sweden doesn’t have to worry (well at least until the muslim population grows more) about people trying to legislate based on 2000 year old books.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  No organization has fed the hungry more than the Catholic Church. What do you do to feed the hungry?

                  Sweden used to be a Christian country. It’s prosperity has been on borrowed capital, and it is quickly going downhill now.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  I think the point being attempted by Ders there is not so much that the entirety of the RCC is corrupt and evil, but the strangeness that many of God’s own “ordained” priests and people turn out to be surprisingly secular. Sure it is understandable that people, even God’s own chosen people, make mistakes even within their good intentions. However, it is difficult to argue that the priests who molest and embezzle are such people. Does this automatically make the rest of the Church evil molesters and embezzlers? Certainly not. However, it does call into question the divinity of the Church. One would expect that a faith so graced and chosen by God would at least be immune from such immoral people somehow gaining God’s divine ordination and sneaking into the hierarchy.

                  It all kind of leads to the problem of evil – why does God allow all or most suffering even though he supposedly can and has prevented it in the past? What about the prevention of natural disasters? Since you are a Catholic, then isn’t Mary the perfect example of a perfect human being who committed no sin due to God’s grace yet also retained free will? If God had graced the rest of humanity similarly, there wouldn’t be a need for the “mess” that resulted.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I don’t understand how you would expect Catholics and priests to be immune from the culture of promiscuity, pornography and self-indulgence that surrounds us? After all, they remain human, prone to temptations and to sin. Why would this call into question the divinity of the Church? Would your suggestion not require Catholics to be somehow magically turned into robots, unable to sin and thus deprived of free will? As awful as the scandals are in the Church (and let’s not forget, we are talking about 2-4% of priests), the are the consequence of the freedom that God gave us, the freedom we have to choose good and evil every day.

                  Yes, you are correct, Mary is the supreme example of someone who received the “fullness of grace” while retaining her free will. We can wish together and say that it would have been nice for God to bestow the same exceptional gift on everyone, but I suppose he was under no obligation to do so.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “I don’t understand how you would expect Catholics and priests to be immune from the culture of promiscuity, pornography and self-indulgence that surrounds us?”

                  Well like you say later on in your post, I would expect Catholics and priests to be immune from sin as it is within God’s desires and capabilities do so as evidenced by Mary if one is a Catholic – what better way to bring about the perfect world God desires than grace all of humanity like he supposedly did with Mary? No robots necessary for my suggestion, apparently. :)

                  Even disregarding that, I’m not necessarily requiring Catholics and priests to be sin free. However, I do think there is a big difference between slipping up now and then (falling a few times too) and deliberately & consistently choosing evil in order satisfy selfish desires. So no, I don’t expect Catholics or priests to be perfect – however I would expect from a religion chosen by God to be immune from child molesters, greedy thieves, and power-hungry individuals sneaking into the hierarchy as it serves absolutely no purpose for God to allow said individuals to wreak havoc. “God” clearly has the ability and desire to prevent these people from doing harm and making a bad name for his “true” church. So why doesn’t he?

                  Even disregarding that, shouldn’t God be able to intervene as a third party to at least prevent things like rape, genocide, abuse, etc. without violating free will? Hasn’t he supposedly done so in the past as described in various miracle stories? Why save one person and not the other? Furthermore, why allow natural disasters to occur? No one’s free will would be violated here either so why allow those to wreak havoc either?

                  “Would your suggestion not require Catholics to be somehow magically turned into robots, unable to sin and thus deprived of free will?”

                  How bad could that really be in all honesty? No suffering at all? I think I could live with that. Isn’t heaven (forgive me if I am misunderstanding the Catholic version of heaven) more or less the same thing? Free will but with temptation removed? Why can’t earth be like that? Isn’t God unable to sin?

                  “As awful as the scandals are in the Church (and let’s not forget, we are talking about 2-4% of priests), the are the consequence of the freedom that God gave us, the freedom we have to choose good and evil every day.”

                  This brings up the question of the good of free will versus the evil of free will. I realize that adversity can result in the cultivation of certain virtues such as resilience, hope, and mercy, but is it truly necessary and/or desirable? To me it seems difficult to justify. Does God really have to allow a rapist to fully manifest (not express or use) his/her free will at the cost of another’s innocence? Is it really worth it just so the rape victim can have a chance at moving on, forgiveness,and/or hope? Does a Jewish boy really have to be hanged in order for a Nazi soldier or general to be able to fully manifest his free will or so that the family can maybe learn resilience, hope, and/or forgiveness? Furthermore, you mentioned in an earlier post that God did not grant perfect morality to humanity because it wouldn’t be able to understand and/or accept it – due to a-child capacity. So then is granting humanity free will a very prudent move? If they weren’t ready for an accurate and complete morality, how could they possibly be ready to be given the ability to make moral decisions in the first place? Is that not at least somewhat similar to handing a two-year old a burning torch in a house drenched with oil?

                  “We can wish together and say that it would have been nice for God to bestow the same exceptional gift on everyone, but I suppose he was under no obligation to do so.”

                  Isn’t God under the obligation of his own character to be perfect and promote maximum truth, health, happiness, and harmony within society? Is the current state of the world really better than if God had graced all of humanity with the same grace he supposedly graced Mary with? Clearly, God doesn’t even need to violate free will in order to make people perfect. It’s not so much what I would like to be the case, rather more what is expected to be the case in an existence supposedly crafted by a perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing God.

                • Emmet

                  In reality, I think, humans have an inclination to abuse power. Think Obama, Jimmy Saville, your local school board, the nursing home down the road.

                • SeekerLancer

                  People are always going to have different interpretations of what their opponents believe because they’re viewing it from an entirely different perspective.

                  As far as Christianity goes there are so many different sects that all present Christianity in different ways that ultimately there is no one proper representation.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes I know, but I am speaking here for Catholicism. I was an evangelical in the past, so I understand well their position as well. Evangelicals rely only on the Bible as source of truth, and therefore you will find among them innumerable positions (some mutually conflicting). As Catholics we actually have a sure norm to distinguish established and official teachings on faith and morals, from varying customs and opinions. This is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

                • Matt D

                  Well, since there’s thousands of faiths out there, and most of them claim to be “truth”, why don’t you tell me how after all that “honest” study, how you dermined which one is correct.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Such a question would require at the very least an essay or book, but in a nutshell:

                  All religions represent man’s attempt to find God.

                  Christianity tells the story of God who came to man.

                  Religions are chiefly about embracing a certain philosophy or code of conduct to please the divinity and find some form of “redemption” from the sufferings of this world.

                  While not excluding the above, Christianity is chiefly about entering into a living relationship with the One who loves us more than anything. It is a relationship more than it is a religion.

                  For an excellent answer to your question, I recommend CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Having access to the Internet, you should be aware by now that C.S. Lewis’s shoddy apologetics were all dismantled decades ago.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  You cannot call someone out unless you provide proof that your conflicting view is true. And no, deeply feeling that your beliefs are true does not count.

                  And really, your honesty claim is laughable. Get back to me when Christians actually care about honesty, and then we can address your belief “This doesn’t match what I believe, so it must be false” issue.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I have been doing my best to reply to about 10 people at the same time, so sorry if you didn’t find the answers you were looking for. To be honest, I get the impression that a lot of people on this forum are not interested in having a correct view of Christianity. They are interested in creating this grotesque monster that has little or nothing to do with Christianity in order to attack it and tear it down.

                  As for your sweeping generalization re. honesty, I didn’t come here saying “all atheists are liars” – why do you make such an unfounded accusation against Christians? And then you lecture me about principles for debating?

                • Emmet

                  Pretty much agree with you there. I’ve been reading and commenting on atheist blogs for a year or two, and as much as I enjoy it, and as much as it has made me a better Catholic – really, if this is the alternative to Catholicism; this stunted, angry, unimaginative, cloth-eared, broken-record, irrational worldview, I’m more convinced than ever that the Catholic religion makes the most sense of the world in which we live – I’m starting to feel that I’m banging my head against a wall. I’m going to try and meet real life atheists (of a Kiwi variety – we have less of “those heathen kind of folks” here in NZ, perhaps, than the States) and get to know them, work alongside them in some project for the good of society, sit down for a beer with them and talk these things over IRL.

                  I think that’s the sanest way forward here.

                  And my wife will stop telling me to “Leave those atheists alone, love, and give the baby a bath”.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Thanks Emmet. I appreciate the thought. It was beginning to feel a bit lonely over here. So much for atheist open-mindedness. Your wife probably has the wisest piece of advice. :)

                  I’ve wanted to go visit NZ for a long time, I hope to make it there at some point, it looks like a beautiful place.

                  God bless,
                  Andre

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “So much for atheist open-mindedness.”

                  Ah, now who is making unfair generalizations? ;D

                  jk. I do understand your frustration, but hope you don’t actually stereotype all atheists that way.

                • Emmet

                  It’s refreshing to come across atheists in this kind of forum who are open-minded. And of course, this kind of forum doesn’t actually lend itself to kindness, patience, gentleness in discussion – we all know that, and we’re probably all guilty of using it instead to be snarky, sarcastic, obtuse and cruel.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  You don’t have to believe me, but I am sincerely interested in the truth and would like to know more about what makes Catholicism the most sensible worldview to you.

                  “this stunted, angry, unimaginative, cloth-eared, broken-record, irrational worldview”

                  What exactly are you referring to here? It sounds like you may have been looking in the wrong places.

                • Emmet

                  Some books I’d recommend for the person sincerely interested in the truth:

                  Peter Kreeft’s “Christianity for Modern Pagans” (and his website peterkreeft.com)
                  George Weigel’s “The Truth of Catholicism”
                  Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Storey Mountain”

                  Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth”

                  Benjamin Wiker’s “Moral Darwinism”

                  and Fr Robert Barron’s DVD series/book “Catholicism”.

                  “What exactly are you referring to here? ”

                  The worldview displayed on blogs like this. The “science must prove real a thing which by definition can’t be proved by the scientific method” attitude. The “religion is bad and evil” attitude, in which the abstract concept “religion” covers everything from Zeus-worship to Buddhism to Islam to astrology to fringe Christian groups to mainstream Christian groups to orthodox Catholicism. The “I’ll use a small g for God to show my disdain for the idea of God but will keep using capitals for Santa Claus because… I don’t know why, just because” attitude (“God” refers to what we’re talking about – God as understood by Christians; “god” is meaningless – Santa Claus gets capitals because the thing that’s referred to by the words “Santa Claus” is a person; “santa claus” … well, why would ya?) The “I know it all, and am smarter than you, and ho ho ho, what a soft-headed little git you are, Godder”. The “Catholic, you said? Rape-cover-up-abuse-piles of riches-opposition-to-condoms-kills-MILLIONS-OF-PEOPLE-IN-AFRICAAAAAAA!-hate-women-hate-gays-force-religion-down-my-throat” kind of carry on. The “oh oh oh wait for this one – I have no clue that the Church has heard this challenge before and rebuffed it – I just saw it in a youtube video and look here you thicko Xians listen to this what do you have to say now huh huh HUH? Boom I win that one hey guys look at me I’m such a brave and bold wee freethinker hey?!” kind of rant. The vile abuse and slander and calumny of public figures who deserve at the least, a fair trial facing accusations by named accusers not a court of anonymous blowhards. That kin of thing, y’know? That’s what I’m referring to. If blogs like this are “the wrong places” to look to see how atheism plays out in the 21st century, then why the hell do you people support them?

                  Ah, I can’t be bothered. I get the feeling you’re being disingenuous in your question. I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

                  Life requires imagination. The idea of “do good and avoid evil” requires imagination and a view of something beyond ourselves. Why be good unless it leads to an outcome that we can visualise/imagine but can never know for sure before we do the good? Atheists have this idea as much as Christians – thinking Christians just run with it further. Saints run with it completely. What if…? ask the Christian and the atheist: the Christian is prepared to keep asking.

                  A year or two of reading blogs like this show, sure, plenty of imagination and creativity and good living by atheists – but what I’ve also read shows just as often a stunted and cloth-eared refusal to lift the eyes beyond what can be touched and sifted and poked to something a bit more dynamic and adventurous.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Thank you for the reading suggestions, I will most certainly look into them. If you don’t mind, could I “bother” you for a general outline of your case? XD I’m sorry you feel I’m being disengenuous – I certainly don’t mean to be. True, I have heard of Christian frustrations before at having their specific doctrine misconstrued, but what I was asking was whether you were referring specific atheistic views or atheism in its entirety. Thank you answering that question with your last paragraph. I haven’t heard all of what you said before, your use of imagination and adventure is certainly a new argument to me.

                  I sincerely am primarily concerned with the truth and what we can know. That is why I have attempted this discussion with you – if Christianity truly is correct and true, then naturally that’s where I would want to be. It just so happens that with my current information, my specific form of atheism is most intellectually honest position to me. As a person with so much stated experience on the atheist/theist discussion, I thought I’d ask you for your case as so far the theists I have talked to have been unable to substantiate their religion beyond mere assertions and sentimental appeal. I do try to engage Christians elsewhere – I just happened to find you here.

                  “If blogs like this are “the wrong places” to look to see how atheism plays out in the 21st century, then why the hell do you people support them?”

                  One could also ask why you here since you are so tired of all the trash, but I am not particularly concerned with that. :) I have never stated nor implied that I necessarily support this blog. Just because there are atheists speaking on this blog does not automatically mean we support whatever is being promoted or whatever you believe is being promoted. I just happened upon this site through a link during some internet surfing :P. I don’t know about the rest of the articles on this blog, but this particular one doesn’t seem to particularly fit your objections. Personal opinion, it looks more like a reach across the isle from atheists to give Christians props for being placing an emphasis on lifestyle as the indicator of morality rather than purely one’s beliefs about the supernatural.

                  “Ah, I can’t be bothered.”

                  Yet here you are :). And thank you very much for discussing with me.

                  “Life requires imagination.”

                  I assume by “life” you mean sentient life.

                  “The idea of “do good and avoid evil” requires imagination and a view of something beyond ourselves. Why be good unless it leads to an outcome that we can visualise/imagine but can never know for sure before we do the good?”

                  I think this an essentially correct statement, but aren’t there also times when we do indeed know the primary outcome of doing good and avoiding evil and we act accordingly?

                  “Atheists have this idea as much as Christians – thinking Christians just run with it further. Saints run with it completely. What if…? ask the Christian and the atheist: the Christian is prepared to keep asking.””

                  Yet here I am, an atheist, continuing to ask as I have been for years. Here I am, asking you right now ;). There is a big difference between continuing to “keep asking” and actually “running with” something. That is the difference I think between many Christians and atheists – they both keeping asking questions but Christians see enough justification to run with certain answers while atheists naturally do not see enough justification to run with those answers but instead continue to search formulating their current positions based on knowledge available.

                  It really does depend on the Christian and the atheist. In religion, there is often a presumption of truth and perfection due to its claimed divine nature – thus many Christians may not be encouraged to “keep asking” as they are convinced the full truth is already before them. Some atheists also suffer the same problem of exaggerating science’s actual capabilities and rejecting theism absolutely. For myself, it is precisely because I don’t know everything that I am driven to keep searching. However, one cannot really know how valid or strong his/her worldview/case/position is nor improve or adapt it unless it is subjected and analysed by others – hence my questions to you. I keep asking the questions; I am just weary of many Christians who say they already have the answers. Naturally, we all must at least take an actual position when interacting in our world, but there is a big difference between having a firm position with an adaptable mindset and having a firm position one has convinced himself is complete and unequivocal.

                  Imagination, creativity, and adventure are all good and well – necessary for progress in fact – but there do need to guidelines and boundaries lest anyone justify anything he/she wishes based on whim. There needs to be an accurate measuring stick so to speak.

                • Emmet

                  You make some thoughtful points. Thanks.

                  I’m a Catholic because I think it’s true. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be there. “If the Eucharist isn’t actually Christ, God incarnate, then the hell with it”, to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor. That’s the general outline of my case.

                  Weigel’s book above gives a further outline.

                  Kreeft’s too.
                  I’d add FJ Sheed’s “Theology and Sanity” and “Theology for Beginners” and Christopher West’s “Theology of the Body for Beginners” to your reading list too.
                  Fr Barron’s work – many youtube clips, and his book/DVD series outlines Catholic beliefs succinctly and sanely.

                  Check them out – they put it better than I could.

                • Emmet

                  “‘Life requires imagination.’

                  I assume by ‘life’ you mean sentient life.”

                  The living of life I mean.

                • Jack Sonoran

                  Is that the same as atheists showing up on a Christian blog and ridicule them?

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Well, apart from your having to make up something to try to criticize this group of people over, Christian sites are notorious for heavy moderation or even disabling comments entirely. (Psst! It’s because they can’t hold up under scrutiny.)

                • Ders

                  I have been out, but I had to respond to this because this is exactly what I did not do. I was on an atheist blog and was criticized for not making a thorough case against Christianity. I do not troll theist blogs…ever. I poke fun at religion on atheist blogs because honestly religion deserves it. Religion has done nothing but abuse power and expect praise in return. Now that people aren’t doing this, theists are angry. Too bad.

                • Emmet

                  He wasn’t expecting deference to Catholicism – merely that you get you facts straight before pontificating. I think he’s helping you out, so you don’t come across as a blowhard merrily farting in the wind.

                • Ders

                  The problem is we never get the same “facts” about Catholicism from any two people. Everybody just kind of makes up their own rationalizations. For instance, how do you deal with slavery in the new testament? I’ve heard a million answers to this one. But go for it. I’m sure it will be a fun ride as you twist and stretch the Bible to make it somehow match to modern morality which is exponentially more advanced than it is in the Bible.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Have you even read the Catechism of the Catholic Church? There actually *is* such a thing as normative Catholicism that does not depend on the opinions of individual Catholics.

                • Ders

                  Yes I’ve read it, but I must say that the rationalizations for everything still vary from Catholic to Catholic. Probably because very few people actual read their own religion’s scripture. In any event, the Catholic church is a corrupt organization based on fraudulent mythology, drenched with misogyny, dressed in stolen gold, and cloaked in a beggar’s lies. I hope you cringe when you see every news story come out about how horrible the church is. In my home town of Troy, Michigan, the pastor embezzled $400,000. I also hope your doubts grow as you see studies that show that both financial success as well as personal well-being are negatively correlated with religious belief. We’ll go on doing our thing. You’ve inspired me though. I’ll start actively deconverting religious people now. It’s easy enough.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your continued cliches, sweeping generalizations and double standards, fixations on anything bad coming out of the Church while seemingly completely ignoring all the good that has and continues to come out of it are further evidence of your bad will. Good luck. Just remember that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

                • Ders

                  God doesn’t exist. Just remember that when you die, you just stop living. It’ll be exactly like it was before you were born. This is true for all of your deceased relatives as well. Mine too, so it’s not a big deal. I remember them so it’s cool.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You are in for a big surprise. I pray you will discover this in time.

                • Ders

                  oooooh….is it a pony?!?!?!?

                • Ders

                  Also just because you’re “praying for me” doesn’t mean you didn’t just threaten me. There’s the superiority masked as humility. I HAVE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU DON’T BUT I WILL TALK TO MY GUY AND SEE IF HE CAN DO SOMETHING FOR YOU. JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE.

                • Emmet

                  What has a pastor embezzling money got to do with the Church? Good grief.

                • Ders

                  Seriously? I’m sorry that you only see “the Church” as an abstract thing that is inherently good. In reality it is a really shitty charity organization with problems everywhere you look and while it “gives” it also makes demands on people based on Bronze aged thinking. If you define “the Church” as “the good things done by Christianity and a the only true source of being good and morality” then of course you’re going to think that atheists are wrong. We deal in reality not in the ideal. Good grief indeed.

                • Emmet

                  Of course I don’t see the Church as an abstract thing. I’m a Catholic. Your comment proves you don’t really understand what the Church is or what it teaches – if you did you wouldn’t suggest a Catholic doesn’t see the Church as being made up of the individuals – some of them horrible – in it.
                  The Church is a divine institution made up of human members, some of whom have screwed up badly in the past and some of whom continue to do so, unfortunately and shamefully, today.

                  A priest nicking money is not “the Church”. He’s one guy with a problem.That isn’t evidence that the Church is horrible – it’s evidence he is horrible. I don’t know how to explain that further if you can’t get it.

                  It’s like saying MacDonald’s is horrible because the manager of XYZ Store stole money from the store: I’m sure if you read a-MacDonaldism blogs you’ll find enough evidence to back up a claim that MacD’s is horrible without using that evidence.

                • Nox

                  But the biggest problems all come from upper management. The same religious hierarchy that decided what catholicism is in the first place are the ones who keep making the catholic church a force for evil.

                  If the CEO of McDonald’s ordered his employees to sell poisoned food to the public your analogy might fit.

                • Emmet

                  If the Church taught poison your analogy would fit. In your mind, that analogy does fit. In truth, it doesn’t. We could play “fix your analogy” all day, but because you’re already decided to be utterly convinced of the fact that the Catholic worldview is poison, you’ll never think any different.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  The priest “nicking money” is one of many priests engaging in similar or worse actions throughout the Church hierarchy. Aren’t all priests “ordained” and specially chosen by God? One would think God would be more discerning and active about who is allowed to act in his name. Certainly, most Catholics are not evil-intentioned people, the point being that the “divinity” being claimed ought to be questioned when supposedly “holy” or “special” individuals (chosen by God) turn out to be “secularists” using religion to satisfy their material needs/perversions.

                • Emmet

                  Come on. This is the stunted thinking I’m talking about – you completely misunderstand what a priest is, and what it means to be ordained. On what do you base your claim that God magically guarantees that no priest is going to sin? Catholics don’t claim that – why do you?
                  That a priest is a drunk, or a thief, or a liar, doesn’t surprise me at all – I know the crappy things I’m capable of, why would I be surprised at the crappy things other people do?
                  Ordination is not some conferring of magical superpowers or virtue – is that really how you see it?

                • Cannon Fodder

                  As you are the Catholic and I clearly have misunderstood
                  priesthood and ordination, please do inform me – I don’t want to be misconstruing anyone’s doctrine. I wouldn’t call it “stunted thinking” lol, probably misinformation by high school theology teachers.

                  “On what do you base your claim that God magically guarantees that no priest is going to sin? Catholics don’t claim that – why do you?”

                  I think you have misunderstood my point. I never made the claim that God magically guaranteed that no priest would ever sin, nor did I make the claim that Catholics held those beliefs. Hence, the question form of the pertinent statements you referred to. So no I do not see it as the magical conferring of virtue. I suppose the question I’m asking is, why isn’t it? If God can grace someone like Mary so much that she is perfect yet retains free will, then why not confer similar grace to priests or even the entirety of the church? Would that not be in God’s, as well as humanity’s, best interests?

                  “That a priest is a drunk, or a thief, or a liar, doesn’t surprise me at all – I know the crappy things I’m capable of, why would I be surprised at the crappy things other people do?”

                  You forgot to add in child molester. Yes, while every human being is certainly capable of vice, the thing that truly differentiates us is whether or not we act upon those capabilities and to what degree. There is a great deal of difference between most people who usually make mistakes out of good intentions, and those that deliberately act on bad intentions. Are you not surprised that some priests molest children and that the hierarchy played a role in covering the misdeeds up?

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Allow me to further explain. Surely you can agree that most Catholic priests are sincere, honest, and diligent people? If so, then surely you can also agree that there are certain individual Catholic priests who are only really interested in financial, political, and/or sexual gain? The point here isn’t of course that because the actions of a few of its members, the entire institution becomes completely evil. I believe you provided an example about a McDonald’s store manager stealing funds from the store which does not automatically by itself make McDonald’s a bad company to describe the relationship with abuse of power within the Catholic priesthood. This highlights my point that the Catholic Church is seemingly quite a secular institution rather than the special, chosen religion of God. Sure, all people make mistakes, but there are also those who intentionally do severe evil for their own selfish gain – they are whom I’m talking about. Why would God, being so caring for his people and church, allow these people into positions of power where they can do so much damage? He is God no? Again, surely it would be within the best interests and abilities of the Christian God and humanity to ensure that the people within his delegated hierarchy were at least sincere individuals with good intentions?

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Ah, but Catholic tradition also espouses supremacy of conscience – even by the former Pope himself. Thus, technically is possible for a Catholic to be a “true” Catholic yet disagree on some of the Church’s teachings. The Vatican naturally stands on certain positions with a presumption of truth in order to provide at least official position, but it is quite possible for there to be differences between “true” Catholics. Furthermore, there are always numerous interpretations and prioritizations with documents – the same holds true with the Catechism. Not saying that there is no clear position, just that you may want to allow for variations.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes of course, the world is full of dissenting Catholics. The presupposition is that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church into the fullness of truth, so that a well formed conscience will agree with the Church’s teachings. I realize this will seem like subjective and circular reasoning to you, but this is more or less how it worked for me:

                  When I was an agnostic, and later an anti-Catholic fundamentalist, my (poorly formed) conscience didn’t agree with many Catholic teachings (which I didn’t understand very well). However, I was aware that I am very easily prone to error and that I could be wrong on many issues. I also knew that the Church taught some moral ideals that were very respectable. Gradually, the more I studied Catholicism, the more I realized that a lot of my objections were due to prejudice, or misunderstandings, or immaturity, or other subjective factors. I began to see that there was much more wisdom and truth to be found in the teachings of a 2,000 year-old institution that has produced the most remarkable saints, than in my very limited, subjective and finite twenty something years of existence.

                  So eventually I agreed to conform my conscience to the teachings of the Church. Obviously it’s not like I don’t think anymore or I don’t ever have any moral dilemmas, but I do experience that it’s much more beneficial and fun to allow my conscience to be guided by God’s word rather than my own fallible perceptions and opinions.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Fair enough. One point here though.

                  “I realize this will seem like subjective and circular reasoning to you, but this is more or less how it worked for me:”

                  There is no question about what “it seems like to me”, personal experience is subjective and faith is circular by definition. That isn’t to diminish the sincerity or impact of your experiences on you, but rather to point out its limited effectiveness to others. This doesn’t mean that personal experience is bad or ought to always be disregarded. In fact, subjective experience can be quite useful in making determinations in one’s life, one just has to remember that one’s own experiences are by no means indicative of everyone else’s experiences – a considering factor in the background.

                • Emmet

                  So your job, then, is to discern if the Catholic you’re talking to knows what they’re talking about. A good question to ask to help in that discernment might be something like, “Do you give assent to all of the Church’s doctrinal teachings?”

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  My two sentences on creation were not an “argument”, just a thought that the emergence of a complex universe out of nothing is utterly irrational – certainly not more logical or intelligent than to posit an uncaused first Cause. Moreover, God is not complex at all – He is utterly simple. There is no logical fallacy in positing an eternal, simple, spiritual being. But it does seem to me inherently illogical to suggest that a world in constant flux which we know that had a beginning (whether we call it the “Big Bang” or anything else) just came into being as the result of a random explosion caused by nothing. (Of course I’m oversimplifying, but that is essentially the atheistic position, isn’t it?)

                  The moral standards of the New Testament are poor?

                  Sure, forgive and love one another, don’t lie, steal, or murder, honor your parents, honor and protect life, sanctify sexuality between husband and wife, sure sounds like barbarism and a recipe for social anarchy to me.

                  Much better to go with our modernist values: sleep around with whoever you want without any commitment, kill children in the womb if they come at an inconvenient time, etc…

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Women, sit down and shut up, for you have nothing of value to say and you’re all sluts anyways- paraphrase of Timothy

                  Jews are awful horrible people- paraphrase of Paul

                  Leave your families and follow me! No seriously, you have to break up your family- paraphrase of Jesus

                  URRGLE BLURRRGLE FIRE DOOM DESTRUCTION DEATH RAAAAGH!!!1!1!- paraphrase of Revelations

                  Yeap, clearly totally and only good moral lessons there in the New Testament. Nothing problematic at all. Keep moving, folks, nothing to see here.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  OK, so more misrepresentations. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it is seriously getting hard to presume honesty on your part.

                  - men and women sat separately in synagogues (it’s still the case in orthodox synagogues today). Raising their voices with questions or comments would have disturbed the assembly (as is the case in any church assembly today). The passage you are referring to asking women to be silent is entirely time/culturally conditioned. The status of women in ancient societies was very low, and Christianity actually really raised this status. Just look at the important role of women in the gospels. As for your comment about women being “sluts” I don’t know where the heck you get that from.

                  -Paul about the Jews: “I am speaking the truth in Christ– I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit– that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9:1-5)

                  -”Leave your father and mother” – a very common hyperbole, very typical of biblical literature, not to be taken literally (which no one does – except atheists obsessed with trying to knock down Christianity). The idea is that Christ should be first in our lives, yes, even above other earthly attachments which are good in of themselves.

                  -Final judgment: yes, this will indeed happen – the wicked will be judged at the end of times. However, we might be surprised as to who turns out to be on the side of truth and who is on the side of falsehood and wickedness.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  You’re right, the Orthodox were and are misogynists. You’ll note, however, that the lowly status of women is actually less enforced in the Old Testament in some ways- Ruth and Naomi are a big deal, Deborah was a judge, the Queen of Sheba matched Solomon in wisdom, and Yael killed General Sisera. It’s still a horribly misogynist text, what with the rape and women-as-property themes, but there are at least a few strong women characters.

                  The New Testament? Mary had a baby after being raped by God. A different Mary followed Jesus around, but wasn’t a disciple because women can’t be disciples even though she wrote her own gospel (which got burned by the Council of Nicaea) and did everything the males did. There was a story about listening to Jesus over being hospitable/baking bread/something like that. And then you have Timothy, which like it or not is still part of your holy book. You can’t point to it and say “well, that’s culturally determined, so let’s leave that out” and also claim the book as a divine book. Either God is always right or he isn’t; I know which one your theology claims. There’s nothing in the New Testament that’s positive towards women, and quite a bit that’s negative. Hell, the Quran is more progressive towards women than the New Testament!

                  As for the antisemitism, I admit I got the wrong name. It was the Gospel of John that’s clearly antisemitic, not Paul’s letters. For that error I do apologize. However, the antisemitic strand is real and strong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_and_the_New_Testament

                  As for breaking up families, you read it as clear hyperbole. Others read it as (forgive me) gospel truth. Which interpretation is correct, I wonder? And the story earlier about the bread baking- I’ve been told it’s a parable about how Jesus is more important than family. That’s not a healthy teaching.

                  Final judgment- yeah, gonna leave that one alone. You have to believe in a god, which is the Christian god, and then interpret a whole lot of incoherent “predictions” before you arrive at those conclusions. Lets just say I think incoherent is a more relevant term than prediction, OK?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “Mary had a baby after being raped by God.” -> distortion number xyz on your part. How am I supposed to take you seriously when you seem utterly unable to state a single Christian doctrine without grossly misrepresenting it?

                  Generally, you seem to read and understand the Bible like a fundamentalist. Catholics don’t read it like that. Yes, the Bible is the word of God, but it was also written by men, and so certainly it has some passages that are culturally conditioned and not to be taken as binding commandments for all time.

                  The idea that the NT is antisemitic has been refuted often enough. Since John and Paul and all the other writers (except Luke) were Jews, they could hardly be “antisemitic”. Certainly one feels a polemical tone in the Gospel of John, but since John was a Jew it’s generally recognized that the term “the Jews” in John refers to the Judeans who opposed Jesus.

                  So who reads the “family breakup” passages as literal truth. Can you give me some examples? It seems to me that even the most fundamentalist literalists don’t read them that way.

                  I don’t know why the final judgment is such a hard one to swallow. We all see that there is evil in the world, and we all long for this evil to disappear one day, and for righteousness and justice to reign on earth, don’t we?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Um, well, considering that God said “Mary, you’re totally having my baby!” without ever asking consent, I’d call that divine rape. There might not have been sex, but being impregnated by anything without them asking permission first is … squicky, to say the least. It doesn’t so much misrepresent Christianity as put a new and ugly light on the stories you’re used to hearing.

                  How do you decide which passages are culturally mediated and which are not? Usually, outside culture, which shows that we don’t need this book to be moral human beings. We’ve grown past it. Slavery was totally fine by the Catholic Church (and many Protestant churches) until people realized that slavery is totally not fine. Then, suddenly, those passages went from being “God’s true words” to “culturally mediated”. I just don’t understand how you can claim that some of the book is divine, some of it made by men, which is which keeps changing over time, and still take any of it seriously.

                  You really need to study your history. Intra-religious feuds are vicious, and John was part of a sect that was NOT friendly to other, more mainstream Jewish sects (he was Samaritan, we think). So he did indeed say very nasty things about Jews, which he did not consider himself to be, and which have been taken in turn to justify other really awful things.

                  I don’t know if anyone reads the family breakup passages literally. I do know they seem meant literally. Are there special codes or something that tell us “take it literally here” and “I didn’t really mean it” in other places? If you cherry pick, be honest about it, and don’t expect any of your biblical arguments to be terribly convincing to people who see the whole thing as “culturally mediated” and not divine at all.

                  Why does the final judgment make any sense? Evil exists because some people do bad things or simply don’t care enough to stop them. Just because you might want “evil to disappear one day, and for righteousness and justice to reign on earth” doesn’t make it likely to happen. Besides, it doesn’t sound very friendly- lots of natural disasters, lots of people dying, lots of wars, some people randomly disappearing, others condemned to Hell. And if God can do that, why hasn’t he? Why all the suffering and poverty and starvation and disease and bigotry, if he can just wave his hand and make it all disappear? And don’t tell me “free will”- final judgment destroys all free will anyways, so why not now?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel “behold the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy will” is commonly and universally understood as a declaration of consent. You are projecting the anti-God and anti-life mentality of our secularist age back unto the most pro-life woman who ever lived, and the most open to God’s salvific will.

                  “How do you decide which passages are culturally mediated and which are not?” This is the role of the Church’s magisterium (ecumenical councils, and the pope in communion with the bishops). There is a growth in the understanding of revelation over time. Some issues can remain fuzzy for a time, but once doctrines are officially defined, they never change. Also, sometimes it takes a while for a Church teaching to be applied in the lives of all believers (in fact, this is never fully accomplished – there is obviously a difference between the ideal and its application).

                  John, a Samaritan? I have never head this idea before. Where did you get it from?

                  Again, your question on which Bible passages are to be taken literally and which are to be taken figuratively reflects a fundamentalist understanding of the Scriptures. I recommend you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is our primary source for knowing the Church’s systematic teachings on faith and morals, not the Bible actually.

                  Your last question is a good and difficult one. I’m not sure how well I can answer it . Basically, there are the two aspects of God’s mercy and God’s judgment. He will judge sin, but this judgment is very often self-inflicted by humans (e.g. wars). Yes, God allows them to happen, but at the same time it’s not quite fair to blame him for the destruction that humans are able to inflict upon each other. Yes, technically the final judgment could happen right now. Bottom line, I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do know that every day is an opportunity to do good, and that God can turn the worst of evils of this world into good.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  1) So you show up at my door and break into my house. You have a gun, which you scrupulously never point at me. You ask me rather politely to take off my clothes and lie down, which I do. Have I consented to sex? No, no I have not. God is implicitly threatening- do you have any idea how many people he’s killed in the OT for disobeying him? Mary, having grown up Jewish, knows this. That ain’t consent.

                  2) Doctrines never change? Excuse me while I catch my breath- I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The Church’s magisterium decided the Earth was the center of the universe and the sun went around it. Yeah, they eventually fixed that, but that was a clearly doctrinal change from the same magisterium (though clearly different people) that had made the first decision. Whether Jews go to Hell or not has changed- Pope John Paul II made that change, or at least announced it, as I recall. Celibacy was a total requirement for a long time, then that doctrine got tweaked to allow for married Episcopal and Lutheran converts to Catholicism so they could retain their priesthoods and their families.

                  3) From the rabbi of my childhood congregation, who has done intensive research into the subject. He wanted to figure out why the NT was so intensely antisemitic, so he did a lot of historical research and talked to a lot of biblical scholars. That seems to be the consensus, based partly on the story of the Good Samaritan and how intensely anti-Jewish John was.

                  4) So I asked my ex-Catholic husband about some Catholic doctrine- he was quite religious growing up. He disagrees with you and says Catholic doctrine is very clear that the whole thing is the Word of God. People can interpret it, but Catholics pioneered that whole fundamentalist reading thing. Also, I refer again to my previous question- if we’ve outgrown the morality of the Bible, why keep it around? If only some of it is worth keeping, why call the whole thing holy? And since it changes over time, and it has, why think you’ve got it right this time?

                  5) Mysterious ways, eh? If I had a super awesome plan that was going to make the world great for everyone, but I had to kill and maim people to get there (natural disasters, cancer, disease, etc), maybe my plan isn’t so great. Especially not for the ‘collateral damage’ on the way to my great plan’s grand finale. In fact, we call people who do that sort of thing downright evil, arguing that the ends do not justify the means. Why hold God to a lower standard than humans?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  1) again, you are projecting your anti-life and anti-God views back onto Mary in a perverse way. God did not have sex with her. Your analogy is ridiculous. Can you not imagine that a young, devout woman might actually be *glad* and *honored* to be God’s instrument to bring salvation into the world?

                  2) you show total confusion as to the development of doctrines. Infallible, unchangeable doctrines regard only faith and morals, not scientific matters (the Earth’s place in the universe), disciplines (celibacy) or customs. There has not been any change as far as whether Jews or any non-Christians can be saved – the Church has always affirmed this, though it has become more strongly emphasized since Vatican II.

                  3) a lot of scholarship (Jewish, Christian, secular) does not accept these conclusions. As I said, the term Jews (ioudaioi) in the Gospel of John likely refers to Judeans. All the first Christians were Jews. Why in the world would they be anti-Semitic?

                  4) Yes, the whole Bible is the word of God, but this does not mean that every verse is to be interpreted in a literalist way. Morality does not change over time, though yes there was definitely a shift going from the Old Law to the law of the New Testament. It is kind of like if you have a 5 year old child you will have certain house rules, but when the child is 15 some of these rules will have become irrelevant while some new ones will become necessary.

                  5) as difficult, incomprehensible and heart wrenching as the sufferings in this life can be (not positively willed by God, but somehow permitted by Him because we live in a fallen world), they will all be but a pale shadow in light of eternity. God will turn all evil and suffering into good. This is what He did with the injustice and unspeakable suffering of Jesus on the cross. He turned the greatest of injustices into His instrument of salvation and life.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  1) She might well have been glad and honored. It’s still polite and, ya know, ethical to ask. No, there wasn’t sex, but don’t you think pregnancy is a teensy bit intimate as well, given as there’s a whole nother being growing inside you? That sort of thing should only happen with consent. And since God impregnated Mary with himself, you’d think he’d ask permission before taking up residence in her body.

                  2) Alright, you tell me what’s infallible doctrine and what isn’t. The Church hasn’t always been anti-death penalty, but now it is. Celibacy hasn’t always been doctrinally required but has been for a long time. So why don’t you tell me what is “unchangeable doctrine” and what is custom and discipline, since clearly you’re making some arbitrary distinction between the two.

                  3) Not all the early Christians were Jews, actually. A good number of them were, but the faith took off among the Greek-speaking gentiles, not Jews. There’s a reason the letters of Paul are written in Greek, to Greek-speaking congregations.

                  4) How do you tell? And if morality doesn’t change over time, was genocide always right or always wrong? Or did it used to be right, but is now wrong, which inverts that argument? Or is it only OK if God tells you to do it, in which case, how can you argue God is good? And where do you get your claims about abortion then, given that there isn’t a single word about not doing it in either the Old or New Testaments. Seriously. Not one.

                  5) People. Go. To. Hell.

                  There is nothing that justifies that. No grand plan, no transmuting suffering into joy or evil into good, nothing can make that morally acceptable. Your God set up that situation, thus your God is not morally acceptable.

                • Emmet

                  2) The Church teaches that the death penalty is an option – a last resort – still. The thinking is, though, that there will be very little call for it in today’s world with the technology we have. See here, 2267: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

                  Celibacy isn’t “doctrinally required” – you’re aware that some Catholic priests are married? The much-loved and always-atheist-friendly Fr Longenecker, on Patheos, for example? Celibacy is a changeable discipline, not an unchangeable doctrine.

                  5) See my points above. If a person wants to go to Hell – ie their choices in life reflect a desire to put themself first in everything, who is God to stand in their way? Isn’t it just, and fair, to give a person what they want?

                  An idea of hell as a state of “nothingness” or of “separation from God” might help to get that idea more than an idea of hell as a place of eternal flames and sulphur and red demons with pitchforks.

                  Your writing is lucid and thoughtful to a point but can you see that you’re not starting from solid ground? Backtrack a bit – be sure that what you’re criticising in the Church is actually in the Church.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Yes, I am aware some priests are married- the ones who converted from other religions, generally. That was actually part of my point- for a long time those men were required to divorce their wives and set aside their children in order to become Catholic priests. That changed- it certainly wasn’t always so. Since even something as important to the RCC as celibacy can change, how can one determine what is and isn’t infallible doctrine? Even more, how can one determine which parts of the Bible are eternal and which ones are ‘culturally mediated’ and written by people, as Andre has claimed? When you cherry pick the good stuff out of your book that is also full of bad stuff, and what is bad stuff changes over time, why should I think anything in the book is “holy”?

                  No one wants to go to Hell, obviously. It sounds like an unpleasant place. But 1) you have to believe Hell exists and 2) you have to believe that the specific God you believe in will stop you from gong there. Both beliefs are incredible on their face and require evidence, evidence that simply isn’t there. I don’t reject God- I say that there is no evidence for any divine being’s existence at all. If some God wants my belief, let alone my worship, there’d better be some really good evidence that he even exists. The God-claim isn’t special; it’s a truth-claim about how the world works. Since it has no evidence for it, I fail to reject the null hypothesis (there isn’t a God). Am I choosing to go to Hell with my insistence on logic and evidence? Or am I merely rejecting a claim that has absolutely no evidence behind it, like I reject many similar claims about all sorts of issues? Seriously, I reject conspiracy theories for lack of evidence too.

                  It also doesn’t matter how much I want something to be true. Ever since I was about 10, I have wanted magic and elves to be in the world. I wanted fairies and unicorns to exist. Wanting doesn’t make it true, and even then I knew they weren’t real. So it is with God- someone can want God to be real with all their being, but it doesn’t change any facts about his (non)existence.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  1) once again, it’s widely accepted belief that Mary’s “be it done to me according to thy will” was a humble, joyful expression of her consent to God that she may bring the Savior into the world. I’m just reading a book about that. What an unbelievable privilege not only to give birth to the Messiah, but also to raise him and spend 30 with him during his “hidden years.” Why do you keep seeing this in a negative light?

                  2) again, celibacy is not a doctrine, it’s a discipline. The Church tends to oppose the death penalty, but there remains some leeway and room for prudential judgment (it’s not an absolute like abortion – how could the killing by the state of a few criminals each year be equated with the killing of about 1.5 innocents in the womb in the same period of time?). I have already answered your question: unchangeable doctrine regards faith and morals; but disciplines, customs and traditions can change over time. The distinction between them is not arbitrary. Read the Catechism if you want to understand the faith and moral teachings proposed by the Church.

                  3) Yes, Gentiles started joining the Church fairly soon, beginning with Cornelius in the book of Acts, chapter 10. But if you read Acts 15, you see the Jewish leaders of an entirely Jewish Church discussing and arguing over whether it is acceptable at all to receive Gentiles in the Church.

                  4) morality definitely DID change between the Old and New Covenants. Jesus himself explained that many precepts of the Old Covenant (such as the permission for men to divorce their wives, cf. Mat 19:1-9) were concessions and compromises due to man’s “hardness of heart.” The same with rules regarding warfare and polygamy.

                  From the Catechism (paragraphs 1962-65)
                  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c3a1.htm#II
                  (click link for more explanations re. the relationship between Old and New Laws)

                  The Old Law is the first stage of revealed Law. Its moral prescriptions are summed up in the Ten Commandments. The precepts of the Decalogue lay the foundations for the vocation of man fashioned in the image of God; they prohibit what is contrary to the love of God and neighbor and prescribe what is essential to it. The Decalogue is a light offered to the conscience of every man to make God’s call and ways known to him and to protect him against evil…

                  1963 According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good, yet still imperfect. Like a tutor it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage. According to St. Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a “law of concupiscence” in the human heart. However, the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom. It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God. It provides a teaching which endures for ever, like the Word of God.

                  1964 The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel. “The Law is a pedagogy and a prophecy of things to come.” It prophesies and presages the work of liberation from sin which will be fulfilled in Christ…

                  5) again, people choose to go to hell by stubbornly rejecting truth and goodness, persistently choosing evil, and refusing to repent from it until their last breath.

                  I will ask you this: If it happens to be true that we have been created with immortal souls and with the freedom to choose good and evil, what is the other option to hell? Would you like to spend eternity together with an unrepentant Hitler, Stalin, or (insert name of mass murderer of your choice)? Would such a “heaven” not turn out to be just a repeat of the world of evil and injustices that we find here on earth?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Can’t we choose good while rejecting all the religious nonsense? Why is that a hell-worthy offense? Why is Christopher Hitchens being treated the same as Hitler? And how do you know Hitler was unrepentant? He was a Catholic in good standing with the Church for the vast majority of his reign and was never excommunicated. If he’s in Hell, it’s for suicide, not for mass murder.

                  As for the 10 Commandments- they’re pretty shitty laws to base a culture on, honestly. Oh, some of them are good- don’t murder, don’t lie, don’t steal. There’s 5 of them that are about how God’s better than all the other gods though, so those are the base for a theocracy which doesn’t usually work out well as a form of government. Honoring one’s mother and father is important, unless one’s mother and father are terrible people. That does happen sometimes. It certainly shouldn’t be an absolute. Don’t covet is good for society, but it’s awfully hard to police as it’s mostly a thought crime. And then there’s the laws that’re missing- don’t rape, don’t own other people.

                  I’ll just say Catholic interpretations of the OT are weird and seem to be pulled out of thin air. There’s lots of other discussions about how Jesus didn’t fulfill any prophecies, didn’t match up to any prophecies, so I’m not going to go there much, but I will say that pointing to the catechism like it’s going to be meaningful to me is not helpful. It’s debating minutiae when the whole damn structure doesn’t make any sense.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you really, sincerely and persistently choose good, then you are in a true sense moving “towards” God. Since God is the source of all truth and goodness He will not require you to believe something that is nonsensical, or unjust, or that violates your conscience. Finding the true faith is like a homecoming; it’s like arriving at a place where you always belonged.

                  I am not equating Hitchens with Hitler, though I am not optimistic for Hitchens’ soul. It’s one thing to be a sincere atheist; it’s another to spend your life leading people away from God (Jesus did reserve some of his harshest words for hypocrites and for those who cause scandal, i.e. lead other to stumble in their faith).

                  Yes perhaps Hitler repented, but from what is known of his last days I am not aware of any indication that this may have been the case.

                  ABC of excommunication: the Church very rarely issues formal decrees of excommunication. This would not only be completely impractical but also completely redundant, because any mortal sin is a de facto self-excommunication. Hitler was ABSOLUTELY NOT a “Catholic in good standing” but a great enemy of the Church. Your statement “If he’s in Hell, it’s for suicide, not for mass murder” is completely wrong.

                  If the “whole structure” of the faith doesn’t make sense to you – fair enough. The point of departure and goal, not just for Jesus but for the rabbis of his time (Hillel, etc…) is to love God with all your heart and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The rest of the law is a commentary on those two precepts. (I realize you have a problem with the first, so then focus on the second while not definitely excluding the possibility of reaching the first one day).

                • Nox

                  Where did orthodox jews get the idea that women were inferior if not from the commandments that god (that would be the same god from the new testament) gives them in the old testament?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Orthodox Jews don’t believe women are inferior. Ancient Near Eastern cultures believed that women were inferior (as Islam continues to do today).

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Uh … as someone who grew up Jewish, though not Orthodox- yes, yes they do. Women aren’t allowed to count for a minyan (you need 10 people together for group prayer. Only men and boys over 13 count). There’s a daily prayer that thanks God for not making them women. Women are treated really shabbily in a lot of ways- sit in the back, sit behind a curtain, dress modestly (for certain very conservative models of modest) or be spat upon and things thrown at you, etc.

                • Nox

                  And of course that is totally unrelated to god (the same god you are trying to absolve from responsibility for these trends) (also the same god who is Jesus later in the story) explicitly commanding the jews to believe women are inferior.

                  Are there any christians anywhere who have actually read the bible?

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

                  Yes, they’re called “Atheists”.

                • Emmet

                  Where do people get that idea from today? Faulty thinking?

                • Nox

                  Where did god get the idea? Seems like any halfway competent all knowing being should be above such faulty thinking.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  The passage you are referring to asking women to be silent is entirely time/culturally conditioned.

                  Your dishonest apologetics are noted.

                • Glasofruix

                  The passage you are referring to asking women to be silent is entirely time/culturally conditioned.

                  So who decides which part of the bible is time/culturally conditionned ans which is not?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  From a Catholic perspective, the determinative norm for faith and morals is the Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

                • Glasofruix

                  Totally arbitrary then, just as i thought…

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  No, not arbitrary at all. According to Catholicism, truth is revealed in the threefold structure of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church.

                • Glasofruix

                  truth is revealed in the threefold structure of Sacred Scripture

                  Which is bronze ages mythology, totally irrelevant in the present day.

                  Sacred Tradition

                  Which is based on irrelevant (and totally innapropriate) mythology

                  Magisterium of the Church

                  Bunch of old men in robes who live in the 15th century who decide which parts of the wholly babble are metaphors and which are the rules to follow, through extensive brainfarting and own agenda, basically…

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “men and women sat separately in synagogues (it’s still the case in orthodox synagogues today). Raising their voices with questions or comments would have disturbed the assembly (as is the case in any church assembly today). The passage you are referring to asking women to be silent is entirely time/culturally conditioned.”

                  Is God’s perfect morality not above petty cultural standards and is not within God’s ability to communicate and empower his followers to that perfect morality? Is it not within the Christian God’s best interests and goals to properly communicate true morality in a clear and undeniable form rather than by texts tainted by unacceptable cultural standards? If the Christian God does exist, then should such silly cultural standards not be ignored outright?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You misunderstand divine revelation. Sure, God could have thrown down from heaven a crystal clear list of commandments, rules and dogmas, but I doubt humanity as a whole would have accepted them any more than they accept revelation in its present form. :)

                  On the other hand, it IS absolutely God’s ability to “communicate and empower his followers to that perfect morality” in “clear and undeniable form.” I think you are presupposing a fundamentalist reading of Scripture, which indeed leaves a lot of room for guesswork as to what is “definitive truth” and what are passing customs (thus the thousands of Protestant denominations). The Catholic perspective is that God’s clear standards for belief and moral truth is communicated in the Church’s official teachings, today most clearly seen in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “You misunderstand divine revelation.”

                  Misunderstood the Catholic definition of divine revelation it seems. What exactly is it then?

                  “Sure, God could have thrown down from heaven a crystal
                  clear list of commandments, rules and dogmas, but I doubt humanity as a whole would have accepted them any more than they accept revelation in its present form.”

                  Well, that seems to be quite a big assumption – unfortunately since God has done no such thing we will never know. If God had provided a perfect morality from the start I think I myself would be much more inclined towards Christianity. Even were it the case that most of humanity would have largely rejected God’s perfect morality, it seems somewhat contradictory to God’s nature to not give people the chance at all, even if he knows some or most of them will reject his perfect morality. If the effect is more or less going to be the same whether God reveals his perfect morality or not, why not just come clear from the beginning?

                  The Bible and official Church teaching seem to ultimately base their legitimacy upon the presumption of truth that the Christian God does indeed exist and has made said revelation available. I didn’t mean to presuppose a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible, but rather to point out the strange lack of an accurate and complete text from a religion claiming a benevolent, all-powerful, and all-knowing god. An inerrant word of God would do quite well I think as a perfect morality in a clear and undeniable form.

                • Emmet

                  Whose paraphrases? Parsing done by somebody who can’t be arsed considering history, sociology, culture, hermeneutics etc etc. Try again.

                • C Peterson

                  It isn’t suggested that the Universe arose from nothing. It started as a very dense point (or near point) of energy. That it evolved complexity from that is fully consistent with the most basic laws of thermodynamics. No guidance was required.

                  Your god is simple? Well, I’d have to agree, although not quite in the way you mean. But if your god is simpler than the Universe, than there is no need to invoke it in the creation of that universe. Your logic is weak.

                  Don’t lie, steal, or murder are not NT morals, they are stated in the OT, and go back much further than that, being natural human morals.

                  Your idea of morality around sexual issues sounds to me like a form of dysfunction, and nothing to do with morality at all. Society’s growing recognition that sexual behavior is varied and not associated with morality is a big part of the improved overall morality and health of society in the last 50 years.

                • allein

                  You know, there is a middle ground between “only ever have sex with one person who you are married to” and “sleep around with whoever you want without any commitment.” I’m not married, and I’ve never had sex with anyone I wasn’t in a serious relationship with (and there have only been a few of those). No, they didn’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean there was no commitment to each other while we were together. (Marriage is hardly a guarantee of commitment, anyway.) And I’m not somehow damaged because of it.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Well it’s MAGIC damage, you see. It only shows up on your blue meter, not the green one.

                • allein

                  Oh, my bad…the blue one must be broken or something.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Your being too incompetent to know what a false dichotomy is, or that the Bible is loaded with God-sanctioned rape, child-rape, and murder, is noted.

                  The OT is not irrelevant to the NT. That is THE SAME GOD in both texts. This only makes sense in the context of it being a myth that was built upon later, something we have thousands of incidents of precedence for.

                  You’re continuing to demonstrate that you know nothing about the science behind the Big Bang, and yet are stupidly repeating yourself despite having been informed of such.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I know very well that the OT God is the same as the God of the NT. Most morally problematic passages in the OT are not divinely sanctioned. A few of them are, most notably the extermination of the Canaanites, which is indeed hard to digest from our perspective.

                  As for science, once again, I wasn’t arguing against science at all, only saying that it’s supremely arrogant to pretend that it makes perfect scientific sense for the universe to randomly emerge out of nothingness while ridiculing those who believe that there might be an intelligent being behind it all.

                  If you were fair you could at least acknowledge that, but from the aggressive and arrogant tone of your replies you don’t seem to be very interested in fairness.

                • Ders

                  How in the hell do you determine what is “divinely sanctioned” and what is not? Answer: you make it up as you learn that some positions are untenable.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It’s really simple: people in the OT do all kinds of things (e.g. polygamy, incest). It doesn’t mean that God commanded them to do these things.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “just a thought that the emergence of a complex universe out of nothing is utterly irrational – certainly not more logical or intelligent than to posit an uncaused first Cause.”

                  My friend, you have essentially compared nearly the exact same things – God supposedly created the universe out of nothing. I assume you meant the emergence of a complex universe at random. If that is the case, then yes the Christian worldview would be on even grounds with that.

                  However, that is not the technical atheist position. I understand your frustration at having your doctrine misconstrued, but you also ought to take care not to misconstrue your opponent’s position. Atheism is a very broad label that describes only one thing about an individual’s worldview – that the individual does not live as though any god exists. Beyond that, there is no doctrinal requirement in order for one to be considered “atheist”. Naturally though for ease of communication the word “atheist” is probably best, but I thought I’d let you know just in case.

                  The atheist position in general is one of suspending belief – certainly there are atheists who adopt a position absolutely rejecting theism – but in general there is a suspension of belief due to lack of empirical evidence (obviously in functionality both positions are more or less the same). So therefore technically is no official atheist position on the ultimate origins of existence as there is no evidence on the matter thus “requiring” the atheist to suspend his or her belief on the matter. In other words, there really isn’t anything to make the Christian account of the ultimate origins of existence any more legitimate or credible than any other theory currently available – it’s all guess work. Thus, it is best to continue to search for the answers (an impossible ideal sure, but the only path in order to progress), and not assume off the bat whatever may seem to be best answer – humbly recognizing our limited intellect (which goes for both theists and atheists).

                  “The moral standards of the New Testament are poor?

                  Sure, forgive and love one another, don’t lie, steal, or murder, honor your parents, honor and protect life, sanctify sexuality between husband and wife, sure sounds like barbarism and a recipe for social anarchy to me.”

                  You are correct in saying that the New Testament does indeed promote various admirable ethical values. However, you must also acknowledge the problems as well – “women having to cover their heads in church”, God intentionally damning people contrary to his redemptive goals, lack of any actual condemnation of the principle of slavery (though the implementation of it proposed by Paul in Philemon certainly was an improvement), Jesus talking about bringing the sword instead of peace, Jesus talking about hating one’s parents as a prerequisite, and technical cannabalism if you believe in transubstantiation within the Eucharist, etc I would agree with you however that claiming that the New Testament morals are poor would not be a fair assessment.

                  “Much better to go with our modernist values: sleep around with whoever you want without any commitment, kill children in the womb if they come at an inconvenient time, etc…”

                  Again, you seem to be making the same generalizations and judgments you yourself have deplored. The various principles, or lack thereof, you mentioned are products relavitism and materialism – not necessarily atheism. I myself an atheist/secularist agree with you that what you listed there are non-desireable behaviors – and I don’t need to believe in any God or his alleged texts or doctrine to justify or come to that position.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If the atheistic position is really the “suspension of belief due to lack of empirical evidence” – I have no problem with that (though this seems to me more like agnosticism than atheism, but no need to nit pick).

                  Unfortunately, from my discussions here, I have seen little evidence of such a noble atheism. If this is really the case, then why get together with a bunch of other atheists here to rant and rage, mock and vilify Christianity and religion in every possible way, with each one smugly slapping each other on the back for producing one awful distortion and caricature of Christianity after another? This seems very far from noble, open-minded “suspension of belief.” (I am not saying that you fall in that category; discussions with you and a few others have been fairly level headed and serene, but this has been the exception rather than the norm).

                  NT values: in a nutshell, some are culturally conditioned and not considered commandments (covering of women’s hair), some are a consequence of evil in the world (damnation, sword instead of peace), some were to develop and be clarified over time on the basis of NT principles (condemnation of slavery, abortion), some are hyperboles not intended to be taken literally (hating parents), and some are to be understood spiritually (transubstantiation). Catholics don’t read all the Scriptures literally like fundamentalists, but in light of Christian tradition and the teachings of the Church’s magisterium.

                  I commend you for not embracing the negative values that I have listed. You are right that they are especially the products of relativism and materialism. However it seems to me that these two ideologies are by far the most prevalent among atheists, so much so that they often go hand in hand – though I have no doubt that there are many exceptions.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  haha yes, it is true I would describe my position as more agnostic in principle – which kind of necessitates being atheist/secularist in function. The term atheism is the most recognizable label I can attach to my beliefs, but unfortunately it doesn’t really say much about my actual beliefs XD. I guess agnostic, secular rationalist might fit better.

                  I wouldn’t want to assume, but this site might not be the best or most representative place for the kind of discussion you seem to be looking for – I was fortunate enough to come across you so no complaints from me. Regardless of how prevalent relativism and materialism or any other undesirable traits you find commonly among atheists, this doesn’t really reflect upon the actual legitimacy of atheism itself. lol, technically there isn’t really a unified “institution” to reflect upon. Like I said before, in actuality it really is a very broad characteristic which probably gets used too much as the label of an institution, religion, and/or philosophy.

                  Thanks again for discussing all these things with me – I realize I am one of many, many people you are attempting to speak to simultaneously haha XD. Appreciate the sincerity and thought you have put into the discussion.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  In addition, “Moreover, God is not complex at all – He is utterly simple.”

                  Could you elaborate on that? It seems difficult to describe a three -in-one, infinite, incarnated, perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, somewhat anthropomorphic being who technically feeds his followers with his incarnated self’s flesh and blood as “utterly” simple. You truly are a genius if you can comprehend all that to the point that it is so simple. ;D

                  “There is no logical fallacy in positing an eternal, simple, spiritual being.”

                  Well sure, but that may be because God, being beyond time and space, is not constrained by logic. Furthermore, even granting there is no logical fallacy in the Christian God existing, there most certainly is a logical fallacy in attempting to posit him – the fallacy of arguing from incredulity (unless of course you have evidence to substantiate the Christian God’s existence) – in essence the question of whether it then is logical for one to believe in the Christian God’s existence.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  hahaha, certainly if you put it that way He doesn’t sound very simple. Simple is not easy.. :)

                  Let’s try to break up the difficulty: the Incarnation happened in time. God chose to become flesh and to become one of us some 2,000 years ago. This happened in time, in the economy of salvation. The Eucharist, receiving the Lord’s flesh and blood, derives from the Incarnation, so let’s leave all these aside for now.

                  When we consider God as Spirit, we remain with the following characteristics: infinite, perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. These traits are rather vast, rather ungraspable for our finite minds, but not inherently or logically impossible. (we’ll get back to the three-in-one in a minute).

                  (For a simple presentation of this argument in PowerPoint format, see here: http://goo.gl/fodlw)

                  Now if the world owes its existence to such an infinite, eternal being, and we see in the world evidence of intelligence, goodness and love, then it is not unreasonable that the originator of created intelligence, goodness and love would also possess these characteristics. In other words, if we observe personhood in the world (beings endowed with intelligence and will, and a desire for truth and goodness), it would make sense that their creator would possess the same attributes, and probably in much greater measure. If we are able to think and love, then God can most probably do the same.

                  Now regarding the Trinity. I will defer to Frank Sheed, one of my favorite authors. (In a nutshell: God the Son = God’s thought, God’s word, God’s self-reflection; God the Spirit = God’s love):

                  “An idea is… the mental double or image of the object we are contemplating; it expresses as much of that object as we can manage to get into it. Because of the limitation of our powers, the idea we form is never the perfect double or image, never totally expresses the object, in plain words is never totally adequate. But if God does, as we know from Himself that He does, generate an idea of Himself, this idea must be totally adequate, in no way less than the Being of which it is the Idea, lacking nothing that that Being has. The Idea must contain all the perfection of the Being of which it is the Idea. There can be nothing in the Thinker that is not in His Thought of Himself, otherwise the Thinker would be thinking of Himself inadequately, which is impossible for the Infinite. Thus the Idea, the Word that God generates, is Infinite, Eternal, living, a Person, equal in all things to Him who generates It – Someone as He is, conscious of Himself as he is, God as He is.” (Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity, pg 66).

                  “The First Person knows Himself; His act of knowing Himself produces and Idea, a Word; and this Idea, this Word, is the Second Person. The First Person and the Second combine in an act of love – love of one another, love of the glory of the Godhead which is their own; and just as the act of knowing produces an Idea within the Divine Nature, the act of loving produces a state of Lovingness within the Divine Nature. Into this Lovingness, Father and Son pour all that They have and all that They are, with no diminution, nothing held back. Thus this Lovingness within the Godhead is utterly equal to the Father and the Son, for They have poured Their all into it. There is nothing They have which their Lovingness does not have. Thus Their Lovingness too is Infinite, Eternal, Living, Someone, a Person, God. Observe that here again we are still within the Divine Nature. For love is wholly within the nature of the lover. But this love wholly contains the Divine Nature, for God puts the whole of Himself into love.”

                • Emmet

                  Modern science suggests something came from nothing, counter to everything we understand about matter. Catholics would say, fine, something seemed to come from nothing, but because that’s impossible, the something came from a Creator’s hand. Less faith required there than the faith needed to believe everything came from nothing.

                • Ders

                  Your last paragraph is why I hate religion. Lots of “sane civilizations” thought that: witchcraft was real, slavery was just fine, poor people shouldn’t be able to vote, nobody should be able to vote, the world is flat, the world is the center of the universe, etc. The thing is we gather knowledge and cast off the shackles of our ignorance. I care nothing for what sane civilizations have done in the past because they knew less than we do now. This is a fact. Studies are actually starting to show that homosexual couples have better families based on equality and void of presuppositions stemming from Victorian sensibilities. Grow up and realize that your views can be wrong and that the studies are actually showing that they are indeed wrong.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  However, it’s hardly more rational to believe that a world manifesting
                  beauty, order, intelligence and love just created itself out of some
                  random explosion billions of years ago.

                  The world doesn’t “manifest” any of those things. Beauty is one of the most subjective concepts there is. Intelligence has so many characteristics as to be impossible to define and is based in biology. Love is a chemical reaction. Order is largely subjective, except as regards the simplest parts of Physics, and we have no reason to suspect that someone is making those laws go.

                  Your own church accepts the idea of an ancient universe. Might want to look into that. They’re tired of looking stupid on scientific matters. Apart from that, one doesn’t “believe” that the universe originated according to the scientific theories surrounding it; one accepts the overwhelming evidence. Your false equivalences are not going to fool anyone here. If you want somebody who hasn’t been presented with this garbage and seen it dismantled before, the Yahoo forums are that way—->

                  Physics, including the Big Bang, is not “random” in the only way you understand the term. You’re ignorant of what you want to deride – legitimately ignorant, not the hypocritically-applied faux appellation you want to assign to people who don’t buy your brand of hoodoo.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Christianity has no problem in accepting any genuine scientific evidence that is out there. What am I deriding? I am only saying that it is no more “hoodoo” to accept the fact that an eternal, simple, spiritual and intelligent being is at the origin of creation, than to think that it emerged on its own out of nothing.

                  And if you are unable to see any intelligence, beauty or love in this world, you are really missing out. :)

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  You derided the body of research and evidence for the origins of the universe. You did so out of ignorance and childish smugness, and because you thought it would score you a “point.” You switched gears when it didn’t.

                  I am only saying that it is no more “hoodoo” to accept the fact that an
                  eternal, simple, spiritual and intelligent being is at the origin of
                  creation, than to think that it emerged on its own out of nothing.

                  That’s not what you wrote. You continually demonstrate an inability to stick to one story. You’re just using whatever seems handy at any given moment. Typical, worthless Apologist.

                  And if you are unable to see any intelligence, beauty or love in this world, you are really missing out.

                  And with that statement, which doesn’t even resemble what I wrote, you have admitted that you are either too stupid to comprehend what you read, or you are a merry liar.

                  Does Jesus love that you lie about what people say?

                • Carmelita Spats

                  People of good will? You mean bigoted brutes who want homosexuals in Africa to serve prison sentences? People of good will? You mean like Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who believes in executing homosexuals because homosexuality is not “natural”? People of good will? You mean like the former governor of the Mexican state of Chiapas who used the military to assassinate homosexuals? Fu)k you. If you want to bray on about the “natural” argument, then take on birth control which is just as “unnatural” as homosexuality. Verily I say unto thee, the wacky road of “natural” leads to women who are disallowed from using contraception because the purpose of a soggy Christoholic “marriage” (One man, One woman, ONE fucking time) is for the female to open her legs and squirt out a massive pile of crotch droppings, a mewling pile of semen demons, due to the “natural” god-ordained abuse of her uterus which is hysterical breeding using nothing but a hydraulic pump and a revolving door. Bottom line: Don’t understand gay people? Sexuality make you rashy? Don’t like abortion? Think Harry Potter teaches kids evil and witchcraft? Then don’t marry a sexy gay witch abortionist. But don’t you dare, based on your limited understanding of life, of human sexuality, and of “people of good will” make laws declaring that I can’t. Now, Mass has ended. You’ve earned a mouthful of Savior. Praise!

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your vulgarity is revolting and your anger is saddening. The people you mention at the beginning of your post are obviously not “people of good will.” They are despicable people. One can very well consider homosexual acts to be a sin while accepting and loving people with same-sex attractions. After all, we are all sinners. And yes, birth control is also unnatural and sinful. And abortion is obviously murder, by any standard (scientific, not religious). Your heart must be very troubled for you to defend all these evils. God loves you no less and is still calling you to choose goodness and life, not evil and death.

                • TCC

                  No, abortion is not “obviously murder,” unless you think that (for instance) science would declare the use of antibiotics to be murder. Science doesn’t make pronouncements about ethics or legality.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  And the whining about “bad” words completely covers my bingo card. Thanks, I can turn this one in now!

                  Please get over yourself. You’re not winning any points by trying to pretend that people doing things that you find wrong is in any way a demerit against them or a judgement of how they are as a person.

                  And stop lying. Abortion is not murder. Your own god orders it. He clearly has no issues with it. Further, science does not consider abortion murder by any standard; that claim is simply you trying to put weight behind your views.

                  And lastly, I really don’t care what your god is “calling” me to do. Your god is a sadistic, evil, egotistical jerk who purposely created humans with the inability to meet his standards. He needed willing ass-kissers to stroke his ego, so he willingly created his “beloved” humans incapable of meeting his requirements. I want nothing to do with that kind of being.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  When in the word did “my god” order abortion?

                  Please do a google search of the word “abortion”, look carefully at the pictures, and then come back and tell me that it’s not murder.

                  Or, listen to the testimony of this former abortionist who describes the abortion procedure:

                  http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/23/doctor-who-did-1200-abortions-tells-congress-to-ban-them/

                  Lastly, I also want nothing to do with the kind of divine being you describe. This being certainly has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian God.

                • allein

                  I’ve seen pictures, I know what the procedure entails. Such appeals to emotion don’t change my reasons for believing it should be legal and available to any woman who needs it, whatever her reasons. Would I like to see it happen less? Yes, but the way to bring that about is through effective birth control and education, and societal support for women who choose to keep their pregnancies. Not saying “you should have kept your legs shut, now you have to deal with the consequences, and if you choose to abort you’re a either a murderer or a poor, innocent victim who can’t possibly know what she’s doing,” which is what much of the anti-abortion rhetoric boils down to.”
                  .
                  Also, you keep saying “God isn’t like that” but I don’t see you telling us what you think God is like, and how you know that.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It’s not an appeal to emotion. It’s an appeal to right reason and to conscience. Anyone whose conscience has not been seared can see that abortion is the direct killing of a human life. Birth control is not a solution to abortion, it’s one of its main causes. http://onemoresoul.com/contraception-abortion/risks-consequences/the-connection-between-contraception-and-abortion.html

                  As for what God is like: He is good, merciful, loving, patient, forgiving, just, and holy. Read the Gospels and the Catechism. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

                  (I actually have other things to do today than pursue these conversations).

                • allein

                  It is most definitely an appeal to emotion.

                  You just don’t seem to grasp that we value other things (like a living, breathing woman’s right to control her own body) over the rights of non-sentient beings literally living inside and feeding off of their bodies.

                  (So do I, but I’m waiting for a query to finish running. Nobody’s forcing you to respond.)

                • TCC

                  Marriage is not about “parts fitting together,” FFS. And I’d like to remind you of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 13: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Maybe that should give you pause before you start appealing to the way that children see the world.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  Let’s see…Appeals to authority, No True Scotsman, veiled insults, lies, revisionist history, projection of personal views onto the entire world….I have a bingo!

                  Come back when you want to talk about reality. You’re very clearly not there now.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I don’t doubt my replies have lacked accuracy or rigor in a few places, but I certainly did not say any lies. As for “veiled insults”, I apologize if any statements came out giving this impression, but do realize that it is very annoying to discuss with people who constantly misrepresent at every turn what you hold dear. As I said before, I have no problem that you disagree with Christianity, just represent it fairly before you critique it.

                  As if you don’t also project your personal views onto the entire world. A bit of a double standard there… “Reality” according to your definition of reality I suppose…

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “You will of course never find empirical evidence or “proof” of God’s existence since He is spirit.”

                  Precisely, hence it is better to reject his supposed existence as his person and attributes are unverifiable by any valid and sufficient means – thus allowing anyone and everyone to make up and justify whatever they want with impunity. How does anyone know that “God” is your God, the Muslim God, the Hindu gods, etc.? All we really have to go on here is your word and the word of other theists, which frankly isn’t good enough when attempting to make policies/teachings which will affect real people.

                  “However, it’s hardly more rational to believe that a world manifesting beauty, order, intelligence and love just created itself out of some random explosion billions of years ago.”

                  Umm…actually it kind of is more rational to that as the Big Bang theory and evolution (accepted by the RCC even) demonstrate how we are where we are today. If you are referring to some ultimate purpose of existence and what was “before” the Big Bang, there isn’t any official atheist position on that – we reserve judgment due to lack of evidence (functionally meaning of course that we reject it). If your case is that love, sentience, love, and beauty require a creator and that it would be ridiculous to think otherwise you have 1) committed a fallacy of arguing from incredulity and 2) put yourself in an infinite regression as God (supposedly a beautiful, sentient, and loving being) now requires his own creator who requires his own creator on to infinity. Just because you or anyone else right now at this moment cannot think of a “better” explanation for existence doesn’t make your case anymore true or valid. The mystery of existence does not automatically justify the assumption of any god, much less the Christian God specifically.

                  “As for the Bible, authentic Christianity does not live by the Old Testament morals, which are indeed very much a product of their time.”

                  Which calls into question God actually designating the Israelites as his chosen people, God’s competence and good will, and/or why these clearly faulty texts remain in a “divinely-inspired” text. Not to mention that there is some questionable stuff within the NT itself – i.e. God intentionally damning people to hell instead of attempting redemption until the very end (2 Thessalonians)

                  And you clearly have been misinformed about homosexuality. Recent studies suggest that there is no real difference or problems resulting from homosexual marriages compared to heterosexual marriages. Those studies also suggest that the children of these homosexual couples tend to me – * cough – tolerant.

                  “You may find the Christian approach to homosexuality “bigoted” but the fact is that all sane civilizations, most religions, and most people of good will have always understood that there is a certain compatibility (sexual, emotional, etc…) between man and woman that “makes” marriage in a way that is not possible with same-sex couples.”

                  Wow, how presumptuous of you and all those other cultures and people judge something they themselves have no actual knowledge of. “Understood?” Please, I think you mean “assumed” or “asserted by virtue of subjective instinct/intuition” or “condemned due to fear of something outside cultural bounds”. You’ve got a lot of guts and zero credibility to take one glance at a relationship between two people and call it unnatural, incomplete, and/or broken just because it is between two people of the same gender and it blatantly violates your own beliefs.

                  “attempts at deconstructing the most foundational unit of society” – I’m pretty sure that Kim Kardashian’s shenanigans with Humphries present a far greater challenge to heterosexual marriages than homosexuality.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I have replied to many of these objections in other posts. Just a word here about the alleged problem of an infinite regression applied to God, who would “now requires his own creator who requires his own creator on to infinity.”

                  Your reasoning is seriously flawed. Why is an infinite regression of the material world around us logically impossible? because the world is in constant flux and movement. You come from your parents, they come from theirs, etc…, etc… The same can be said about a rabbit, or a tree (even allowing for evolution in whatever form you like). A chain of infinite regress is impossible because all beings here on earth are contingent upon some other being. This means that there ultimately has to be some “uncaused cause” that initiated the whole process.

                  But then, you say, this begs the question: who, then, created God? So we apparently have a new chain of infinite regress, of one creator creating the next, etc…

                  However, this is a fallacy. This just doesn’t work for God. The question “who created God” is irrelevant because there is logically no need for a spiritual, simple, non-changing, non-evolving, non-contingent being to be created. Such a spiritual, non-contingent being could very well and very logically have existed for all eternity.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Ah apologies, must have missed all those other posts.

                  I believe you have misconstrued my position. My words were:

                  “If your case is that love, sentience, love, and beauty require a creator and that it would be ridiculous to think otherwise you have 1) committed a fallacy of arguing from incredulity and 2) put yourself in an infinite regression as God (supposedly a beautiful, sentient, and loving being) now requires his own creator who requires his own creator on to infinity.”

                  As this clearly isn’t your case, then the infinite regression objection naturally does not apply. I think would agree with you that there does seemingly need to be some sort of uncaused cause. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to verify what that uncaused cause is. You’ll have to forgive my general ignorance on the subject, quantum physics is difficult for me to understand.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “You may find the Christian approach to homosexuality “bigoted” but the fact is that all sane civilizations, most religions, and most people of good will have always understood that there is a certain compatibility (sexual, emotional, etc…) between man and woman that “makes” marriage in a way that is not possible with same-sex couples. ”

                  1) Quite a broad and conclusive statement to make, do you have actual substantiation for that? Even granting that the statistic or conclusion is true, what then was the actual substantiation behind the claims made by these civilizations, peoples, and religions? I think we need to be weary of accepting certain ethics as true primarily or solely based upon the opinions or standards of cultures – i.e. slavery, gender-equality, etc.

                  2) What are these “sane” civilizations? To my knowledge, there have never been any civilizations, religions, or peoples that didn’t have their own hypocrisy and moral failings.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I made that statement more on the basis of common sense than on the basis of specific research (though there is such research which I am sure is not too hard to find). Sorry, but I am beginning to run out of time, these discussions have consumed me in the past 3 days. See here for more on the Catholic view of marriage: http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org

                • Cannon Fodder

                  I understand your exhaustion completely and you have my sympathies ;D – had similar experiences before. Thank you for providing a link. Rest well.

          • Emmet

            Andre is correct – you don’t know what you’re talking about. Know what you hate before you go a-hatin’.

      • Emmet

        Again, a lazy caricature. Sharpen up!

        • Ders

          I’m sorry. Religion is a fraud.

          • Emmet

            Oh, OK, you said it so it must be true. All this time! Deceived! I’ve been lied to! The scales are falling from my eyes! Ders, Ders, it was Ders who saved me!

    • viaten

      It’s such a relief I don’t have to worry about Pascal’s Wager any more, at least from Catholics.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        You’d think, but one is already doing it in this thread.

    • Zugswang

      I’m surprised he uttered something that sounds an awful lot like Pelagianism, which has been a heretical concept in the church since about 400AD.

      • ZenDruid

        As we speak, I am conjuring up demons of Sethian Gnosticism to invade his mind.

  • cryofly

    I just want to say to pope, “Dear Dude Jorge Bergoglio, you are the one who needs to be redeemed from all the fantasies of god in the burnin’ bush and fairies and demons and most of all, doing an awful lot of bad stuff”.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    I care, because I’d like my dad not to worry that his daughter is going to hell for not believing. Sure, I think it’s all bullshit, but it hurts him. If this eases his mind, that makes me happy.

  • Christopher Bruno

    “Now if only he would come around on marriage equality and find a way to rein in thesexual abuse within the Church…”

    Add to that contraception in the developing world.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Frankly, the entire thing could be stopped in one fell swoop if they would just accept that they cannot force others to live by their religious teachings.

  • Damon Icke

    I’d prefer he clean up his yard rather than an invite to his fake party.

  • Hat Stealer

    What a relief! That sure is a weight off my chest.

  • sam

    “LRH has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Tech: all of us, not just Scientologists. Everyone! ‘Father, the wogs?’ Even the wogs. Everyone! And this Tech makes us OTs of the 8th class! We are created children in the likeness of Thetans and the Tech has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to audit. And this commandment for everyone to audit, I think, is a beautiful path towards clearing the planet. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will clear the planet: we need
    that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, COB, I am an SP!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

  • Steve UK

    Does it matter what he says? He still has to follow his church’s teachings, no matter how inhuman they are. Francis, by all means pat us on the head and tell us we’re doing good things but that means absolutely nothing at all.

  • Heidi McClure

    It’s hard not to be an upgrade from Pope Palpatine. But yeah, I think we should care that he’s telling his followers we can be good without gods.

  • C Peterson

    Redemption is a measure of value. The value of a human life is ultimately determined by the good they do, the happiness they experience, the happiness they spread, and by what they leave behind, both genetically and memetically. Most atheists already have lives of value, to themselves and others. They don’t need “redemption”. The Pope, however, does. His life is one of negative value, a source of harm and damage in the world. But he could still be redeemed. He would need to give up his silly belief in a god, and turn his Church around into an organization for social good. I don’t see that happening, however. Like all Popes, I expect this one to die without redemption, a life wasted, a life littered with human wreckage.

    • Gus Snarp

      Indeed, it is the whole Catholic Church that needs redeeming. Even they know it, else why did the old Pope resign? Because he knows that the abuse and other scandals are not going to go away while a leader implicated in them sits on the throne. But it’s going to take a lot more than a few platitudes to redeem the Church.

  • ORAXX

    That the human race needed redeeming in the first place is based on the idea that a couple of nudists, in the very distant past, took dietary advice from a talking snake. This utterly irrelevant man can try to play nice with non believers all he wants but, history is pretty clear. When popes held the power of life and death, death, usually following torture, was the reward for non belief.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      The very idea that children are damned by the sin over very distant ancestor is not only absurd but morally reprehensible.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        I agree with you: this idea is morally reprehensible. It’s also not the teaching of Christianity.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Sure it is. Adam and Eve, the ancestors of all human beings, ate an apple and brought sin into the world which stained all humans (who are all their descendants) forever. Children are not exempt from this. Once they hit ~7 years old, by Catholic doctrine they too can go to Hell for not believing in the incredible rising Jesus, who was God and man at the same time yet somehow both and neither. Oh, and also God is all-good and all-loving yet made sure to have himself temporarily tortured to death so he could spare us from eternal torture (that he now clearly knows what it feels like, but got a reprieve from) that he himself created.

          Pretty sure I hit most of the highlights?

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Not really. You drew a good caricature of Christianity that I reject just as you do.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          Original sin is no longer a teaching of the Catholic Church? That’s news to me.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Original sin is still a teaching of the Church. However the caricature of original sin you have portrayed above is incorrect. We are indeed spiritually wounded and weakened because of the sin of our first parents. This, however, is very different from asserting that “children are damned” by this first sin.

            • TurelieTelcontar

              We are indeed spiritually wounded and weakened because of the sin of our
              first parents. This, however, is very different from asserting that
              “children are damned” by this first sin.

              What is the difference between weakened and wounded in such a way that we go to hell if we don’t accept the teachings of the church, and being damned?

              • Andre Villeneuve

                The difference is huge: you don’t necessarily “go to hell if you don’t accept the teachings of the church.” The Catholic Church doesn’t teach such a fundamentalist view of salvation (as the pope said, as (poorly) reported in the article above). As I have repeatedly posted in other comments here, those who don’t know Christ and the gospel but genuinely seek truth and goodness may also be saved. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 846-848 (especially 847): http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#III

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              Why would I be responsible for things my parents did? That makes no sense. Not only is that irrational, but it’s immoral to punish children for things their parents did. Or grandparents or further back. That’s sick and twisted. “Spiritually wounded and weakened”? That’s just word salad. What does that actually mean?

              • Andre Villeneuve

                Nobody gets punished for things their parents did. If you do get punished, it will be for your own sins that you have freely committed.

                So if I follow your logic: a) you are upset about original sin, by the fact that the world displays a certain woundedness due to people’s own sins that they committed by their own free choice; b) you ignore and/or reject the solution that God has generously provided at great cost to Himself (his Son’s death) to solve our sin problem; c) you reject Christianity as “morally reprehensible” as if sin in the world were God’s fault. In other words, you blame human sin on God, reject God’s solution to sin, and then have a bone to pick against Christianity?

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  LOL. Since I’m an atheist (this is an atheist site, in case you haven’t noticed) I don’t believe any of that nonsense. I do find the concept of original sin to be rather heinous but in the long list of absurd and hateful things taught by and practiced by the church, it’s not even in the top 10. I don’t believe in god. I don’t find there to be much evidence that Jesus ever existed (perhaps he is a composite of Messianic figures from that era, or maybe not). I also don’t think we have a sin problem. People sometimes do bad things which is why we have a judicial system, but as may of your so-called sins cause no harm to anyone (what kind of sex people have or not believing the “right” set of bronze age fairy tales) I don’t see that we have a sin problem. Some places have a crime problem, but that’s a problem that requires better law enforcement, not more religion.

                  As for the last part…if your god created the world with sin, then yes the fact that there is sin is that god’s fault. There’s no way around that which makes sense. I am happy to pick bones with Christianity but it’s no more ridiculous than any of the other religions. It just happens to be the dominant one where I live so I have to confront it every day. if I were in India I’d be picking bones with the Hindus. But I’m not so here we are. But yes, if there were a god and such a thing as sin, then that sin would be god’s fault. If I thought such a being existed I guess I would be angry that he (or she) created a disease and then demanded submission to a cure. it’s nonsense like all of Catholic theology. It only makes sense if you accept some basic unproven premises. I do not. From that faulty foundation comes layer upon layer of rationalizations and self-deceptions that lead us to absurdities like original sin and transubstantiation. You are free to believe whatever you want. But I don’t have to pretend that any of it makes sense to any rational person.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  God did not create the world with sin. We (humans) bring sin into the world. You have a very warped view of God. No wonder you reject Him, I also reject this strange view you have of Him.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  LOL. There is no god first of all. That is my view of the Catholic god(s). I reject all the others as well.

                  But I’m curious now. If god did not create sin, where did it come from? You say man created it? How did my ancient ancestors do that?

                  I think it’s funny that you think I have a warped view of your imaginary deity. Please explain what this god is and how you know he exists?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It seems to me that it takes a great amount of arrogance to affirm with certainty that there is no God. Have you searched the entire universe and all of its realms (intellectual, material, spiritual, emotional, etc…) to come to this firm conclusion? Do you not have even a small sense of our finitude and of our very, very limited perspective on the world, so that there is much, much more out there that you and I don’t know?

                  No one “creates” sin. Sin is not created. Sin is a lack. The sense of the Hebrew word is “missing the mark”. It’s missing the purpose for which we were created. Sin is not just broken laws, it leads to broken relationships, broken hearts, broken homes, broken lives.

                  What/who God is? God is the source of life. He is Spirit, eternal, infinite. He is also a person, intelligent and loving. He loves us unconditionally and infinitely. He made us so that we may share in His goodness and love. He provides for us and takes care of us.

                  Unfortunately, because we have all sinned in various ways, we have all strayed away from Him, trying to be “gods” ourselves. With sin, death came into the world. The result is that God, although still present in the world, is now somewhat hidden.

                  To free us from sin and death, God sent the Messiah, Jesus, who lived a sinless life, died as a sacrifice for our sins, and rose from the dead. In his atoning death, we receive the forgiveness of sins. In his resurrection, he conquered death and opened the way back to eternal life for us.

                  By sending the Holy Spirit, God comes to dwell within us. He re-adopts us as His children (which we were called to be in the first place), and shares His life and His love within us, giving us the power to grow in love and holiness. It’s a really great and joyful thing to live in God’s presence as it gives meaning to all of life, and we know that death is not the end but the entrance into the fullness of life with Him forever.

                  How do I know this is true? First, it makes no sense at all that a world that displays order, beauty, intelligence, and love randomly came into existence by chance as the result of a mysterious mega-explosion caused by nothing. Order, beauty, intelligence and love points to the existence of a “higher power” or Creator who has set all this in motion.

                  Then, the Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies that point to the coming of the Messiah. Though they were written hundreds of years before the coming of Christ, they are all fulfilled in a remarkable way in his life.

                  Jesus claimed to be God. He attested to this by his resurrection. Christianity would never have gotten off the ground if the first disciples had not witnessed something extraordinary that motivated them to drop everything and spread the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

                  Then, there is the constant witness of saints and believers in every age who have had their lives transformed by a living encounter with Christ and have lived exceptional lives of goodness and love by following him.

                  Finally, there is my own personal experience. I was once agnostic, and although I tried to be a good person, life did no make much sense, nor was it particularly satisfying. Several years back, I had a personal encounter with Christ and with His love which filled my life with meaning and purpose. It’s great to know that I am loved, and even though I am still very fallible and still sin, He is always willing to forgive me and accept me back into His home, so to speak.

                  I know this really brief and simplistic summary will probably raise more questions and objections than answers, but you asked…

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  First of all, I don’t believe that I claimed that in the entire universe there is nothing that someone might think of as a god. I couldn’t possibly. But I have as yet found any evidence that such a being or beings exist. I also can’t prove that unicorns don’t exist. Or goblins. Or leprechauns. Am I arrogant to assume that they don’t as well? But wait, why am I the arrogant one here. Why do you assume that the god for which you have no evidence and only the vaguest word salad of a definition for is that Roman Catholic one? Why not Odin or Zeus or Krishna? Assuming that gods exist? Which one(s) would be real?

                  Your definition of sin is baffling. Missing the mark? What mark? Set by whom? If got created the goals knowing we would fail (he is omniscient, no?) the that means he created sin and set humanity up to fail.

                  and all that goodness and love? Sorry, but I’ve read the Hebrew scriptures (in English, but that’s a more PC way of referring to them as the “old testament”…again, who is arrogant here?). That deity is mean and vengeful. he commits genocide, condones slavery and all sorts of other heinous acts. Your definition doesn’t go with your holy book. it’s feel-good nonsense unworthy of an adult.

                  And yes, many people claim to have personal experiences with Jesus. other claim to have personal experiences with other deities. More claim to have had encounters with UFOs. Again, I require evidence, not unsubstantiated anecdotes.

                  You are, of course, perfectly free to believe whatever you want. Just don’t pretend that it’s based on reason and evidence, because it’s not. All the things you claim could easily be claimed by someone practicing a religion with startlingly different claims than yours. You call me arrogant because I require proof, but you yourself reject the claims of all other religions other than your own. I only go one further and reject the claims of yours as well.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You said “There is no god first of all”. That sounded to me like a pretty (over-) confident declaration of God’s non-existence, going way beyond a prudent suspension of belief.

                  I understand your objection that it also seems over-confident to believe in one particular faith while excluding other religions. The short answer is that all religions show man’s attempt to find God and justify themselves before Him, while Christianity tells the story of God who came to us to redeem us. It is God’s initiative first. Buddha, at the end of his life, said that he was still searching for truth. Jesus said “I am the truth.” The Quran itself admits that Muhammad often asked forgiveness for his sins; Jesus never sinned and offered his life for sinners. No other religious founder was able to overcome death; Jesus did by rising from the dead, in order to give us the same victory over death. As I said, this is a really short answer.

                  Again, you seem to insist on blaming God for human sin that we commit out of our own free choice. Yes, He set a high mark, and yes we could say that He knew we would fail, but you keep ignoring the crucial fact that He has freely provided the solution to overcome this failure. I find it rather inspiring and exciting that he is calling us to goodness and holiness, and that he gives us the grace and power to resist and overcome the selfish evil inclination in us, so that it will one day be completely defeated.

                  As for OT morality, many things are tolerated without necessarily being condoned. They were concessions and compromises within the context of Ancient Near Eastern cultures, and the OT was a vast improvement over the moral abominations that were committed in surrounding cultures at that time (e.g. child sacrifices, etc…). As I just wrote to someone else:

                  Jesus himself referred to OT precepts (re. divorce), as concessions due to man’s “hardness of heart.” In some instances, we perceive today some things as intrinsically evil but in their context 3,000 years ago they weren’t always that bad. E.g. slavery: Abraham had slaves/servants. This wasn’t a blank check for oppressing them. He was responsible for their protection and well being. The Torah has several precepts protecting the rights of slaves. In many ages and places slaves had better lives than “free” workers that worked 16 hours a day, say, during the industrial revolution, or even in Chinese factories today.

                  The one really problematic moral issue of the OT is the command to exterminate the Canaanites and enemy nations. I grant that this seems pretty much inexcusable from our modern perspective. However, let’s keep in mind that these nations are described as thoroughly wicked, and judgment is often delayed until they have reached a “point of no return” in their wickedness (see Gen 15:16). Think of Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Lord was willing to spare if he even found 10 righteous in it (apparently He didn’t, but He still got Lot and his family out). Recall also that God sent Jonah to Israel’s arch-enemy Nineveh to get them to repent and avoid judgment. Bottom line: God will judge the world and nations for their sins and will extend mercy to its maximum extent (He is much more merciful than we are). We are all going to die anyway. As tragic as death is, in light of our eternal destination it will make little difference at what age and under which circumstances we left this world.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Wow. that’s a lot of rationalization. First there’s no evidence for the existence of god. Second, there is very little archeological confirmation of some of the tales in the Bible. And then you go and quote other holy books, whose teachings you reject, to quote mine for mentions of sin. Again, I don’t buy the concept. yes, there are things that are wrong because they harm others. But a lot of the list of “sings” includes things that are not harmful at all. In fact some of them are a lot of fun.

                  As for the genocide…are you telling me that an all-powerful god couldn’t have come up with a solution other than mass slaughter? Really? There are so many plot holes in this narrative.

                  Also, “no other religious founder was able to overcome death”. First there’s no evidence that Jesus even existed other than gospels written 70-100 years after he died. Second, there’s no confirmation of the resurrection. And finally, there are a number of religions in which a deity dies and comes back from the dead, all existing well before Christianity. Many believe that some of those stories, with which the Israelites would have been familiar, plus some ideas from Zaroastrianism, which they would have learned during the Babylonian captivity, were merged together by messianic jews to create the Jesus story. There’s not enough actual evidence to support any of the claims, including the one you just made.

                  And finally, I can’t believe you are rationalizing slavery. It is morally repugnant for one human to own another. Even if they don’t “mistreat” them. That’s beside the point. (Mistreatment is bad as well but a separate issue.) Do you even read what you wrote? One rationalization after another. No evidence. Just a lot of twisting of stories to make them sound moral when in fact they are not. If that’s your god’s idea of morality, then i wouldn’t trust him to define what sin is anyway. And drop the “you’re angry at god” nonsense. I’m not angry. Not even with you. Amused and annoyed, but not angry.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It all probably sounds like “rationalization” to you because you have decided a priori to explain it all away, and so probably no amount of explanation will convince you otherwise. Actually a lot of really smart and really good people from all walks of life and all cultures in history have accepted Christianity, so I tend to think that it’s worth at least respectful consideration, rather than dismissing it with contempt as you and other modern atheists do (with little else to offer providing coherence, meaning, or hope to life).

                  I was not rationalizing slavery. I was saying that they had very different values 3,000 years ago (e.g polygamy was also widespread), and the Torah only sets some limits to these moral standards. It was not intended to be the definitive code of morality. How is this better than today’s widespread rationalization of the murder of infants in the womb? (to the eternal shame of our own generation – ok this is off topic, but I couldn’t help thinking of this since rationalizing evil bothers you so much)

                  Your statements regarding Jesus and the gospels are factually incorrect. We don’t know exactly when the gospels were written, but some scholars date some of them as early as the 60s, so little more than 30 years after the crucifixion. The Pauline epistles were written in the 40s and 50s. And anyhow, this is irrelevant because the community of early believers was rapidly growing immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection (according to you, all seriously delusional or deceptive; according to Christians, because they had witnessed a man and event that had radically changed their lives). in the ancient world, history and traditions were usually passed on orally for generations before they were written down. To expect real-time written chronicles of the gospels is to project modern standards of literature back into a time when they didn’t exist.

                  “no evidence that Jesus even existed” -> also false. 1st century Roman historian Tacitus mentions him as well as 1st century historian Josephus. Do you realize how ludicrous your claim is? While I respect the fact that you don’t believe in Jesus’ divinity, it takes an enormous amount of blind faith (and anti-Christian prejudice) to posit that the most influential man in the history of mankind actually never existed. This would be quite a successful story of mass delusion for all the early Christians who left peaceful lives to die as martyrs, stoned or eaten by lions, all to follow a guy who didn’t exist, or if he did was a liar or lunatic who ended his days crucified in abject humiliation.

                  And then you accuse me of believing in wacky stuff??? (I know that many elements of Christianity are found in other ancient religions. Really what difference does it make? The fact that there are parallels between myths and real stories doesn’t automatically render every story a myth).

                  Last thing: do you believe that Plato and Julius Caesar existed? Why? We have less than 10 surviving manuscripts of their writings dated to about 1,000 years after they lived. By contrast, we have about 5,600 manuscripts of the New Testament, with some written less than 100 years after the events that they describe.

                  So why would you believe in the existence of Plato and Caesar on the basis of very very flimsy textual evidence, while denying the existence of Jesus, despite infinitely greater textual evidence. Double standard?

                  http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  I’m not even that good at this and I can smack down those arguments without even looking anything up.

                  1. Just because lots of people believe something doesn’t make it true. There are millions of people believing all sorts of things, some demonstrably false. That proves nothing.

                  2. The mention of Jesus by Josephus is a forgery inserted into the writings at a later date. That’s well known.

                  3. About slavery, if you actually got your morality from God or from the bible, then why is the Bible wrong about slavery? The idea that god’s truth is eternal but that ancient people were somehow allowed to do immoral things because they didn’t know better even though god supposedly had given them all kinds of commandments is contradictory. Why couldn’t god have just told them that it was wrong in the first place.

                  4. Again I didn’t say anyone was delusional. Not one of the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection was written by an eye witness. It may well have been added later. it was an oral tradition for decades as you admit. What are the chances that the story was transmitted with no changes over 30-70 years (or more)?

                  5. I didn’t say he never existed. My guess (and this is just a guess) is that he’s a composite of a number of messianic prophets from that time. There are other explanations as well. There are also multiple versions of the same story from the middle ages, far more recent, and no one claims that say Tristan and Iseult were real people (although the story could be based on a true story, we just don’t know).

                  Sorry but you keep making claims without the evidence to back them up other than “lots of people believed it in the past”. By that logic, we should still believe the sun orbits the earth. Your church did, after all, punish both Galileo and Copernicus. yes, they apologized…500 years after the fact. hardly a track record that gives them credibility in discerning the truth.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “Just because lots of people believe something doesn’t make it true.” Yes, you are right… I didn’t write that because I thought it was a “proof” of the truth of Christianity. It was merely to say that the testimony of really intelligent and really good people who embraced Christianity, and whose splendid achievements entirely derived from their embrace of Christ’s teachings, should at the very least make us pause before we dismiss the same faith with contempt as you do.

                  Is it really so reasonable to dismiss or scorn people like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, Mother Teresa, John Paul II (to name but a few), either intellectual giants or extraordinary saints (often both) and their vibrant living testimony of God’s love for us that overcomes all earthly suffering, and replace it with a hopeless atheistic proposal that would reduce us to being random products of blind evolution whose ultimate destiny is to rot in the ground and be eaten by worms?

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Again Wow. Mother Theresa refused to provide anything but the basics and certainly not good health care or pain killers for the poor people in India. She thought there was virtue in their poverty and suffering. But when she got sick she flew around in private jets to the best facilities in the world. I know a lot of idiots in the media bought her PR but she herself admitted that she prayed and didn’t think anyone was listening. Sorry but she’s not someone I would consider a role model. And then there’s JP2 who presided over the shuttle of child rapists from one parish to another without warning the parents. You have an odd sense of morality if you think I’d look up to either of those two monsters.

                  Meanwhile you dismiss many great thinkers who were not Christians. You selectively choose what you want to believe and ignore all evidence to the contrary. You like to think that this is all reasonable but again it’s nothing more than rationalizations to back up a conclusion you’ve reached with no evidence. No doubt a great many wonderful people were Christians. Bach, for example. One of my musician friends (also an atheist) likes to joke that the only compelling reason to believe in god is the music of J.S. Bach. Almost but not quite. Bach obviously believed. I can enjoy the beauty of the cantatas and passions without believing myself, just as I enjoy the works based on Greek, roman and norse mythology without believing any of that either. None of that is evidence for the existence of god.
                  Lots of great people believed irrational things. Isaac Newton, one of the great minds of all time, practiced alchemy in secret. Recently we’ve learned that he did that to a far greater extent that had previously been known. What a ridiculous waste of time for such a great mind. yet he did. I also meet very smart people who believe in astrology. That’s bunk too. They have been told that it’s bunk and shown evidence. They believe it anyway. That doesn’t make me smarter than those people. They certainly aren’t stupid. They just suspect reason and skepticism for just that one thing that they like to believe.

                  You still haven’t offered any evidence. Your arguments are so commonly debunked that they even have names. Argument from authority is this one. Sorry, just not good enough. thanks for playing. I think I’m done.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Well, now wow on my part. To dismiss the figures of Mother Teresa and JP2 on the basis of the most farcical secularist prejudices shows that you are so driven by your anti-Christian agenda that you are unable to even give a minimal amount of credit to people who anyone in their right mind (including many non-Christians) rightly recognize as remarkable by any standard.

                  And by the way, I did not dismiss any non-Christian thinker. I did not even allude to any. You keep complaining about the weakness of my “arguments” when I don’t even think I have even proposed any “arguments” at all, except to try to bring to your attention the fact that your rejection of Christianity is extremely prejudiced and narrow-minded. If any statement is not presented in iron-clad logic, you immediately chew it and spit it out. So much for nuances, perspectives and personal experiences that are usually the staple of human interaction. Any of these here is quickly categorized as “already debunked arguments” and thrown out without further attention given.

                  You claim to demand convincing arguments, but it seems rather obvious that you are not open to any argument at all; is your only goal not just to discredit Christianity which you have a priori rejected?

                  Of course God will only remain a superstitious fantasy to you as long as you remain entrenched in your cold, hard cynicism. God only reveals himself to the humble and to the pure of heart.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  LOL. You don’t actually counter what I said about Teresa and JP2. No, you just attack what I said as being “secularist”. I actually know a good many Christians who do remarkable things like volunteer in poor countries. But their goal is to make their lives better. Not fly around in private jets while they leave people in poverty. They want to help those people have better lives. MT did not. Sorry but that’s just the truth. Most of the people who admire her have never questioned what her ministry was actually doing in India. She was not exactly mourned in the streets when she passed. JP2 was a hard liner who continued horrible teachings of the church including banning condoms in the face of a horrible AIDS epidemic in Africa and covering up for child rapists in a way that would have sent any other human being on the planet to prison for a very long time. I don’t admire such people and if you do you are a sick twisted human being. You can’t dispute the facts so you try to make me out as some horrible person.

                  And yes, all of your arguments have already been debunked. What you call cynicism, I call skepticism. it is right to question what you are told and what you read. No one should believe what cannon be proven. I cannot stop you from doing so, that is your right. But your victim act is just plain dumb. I meet people like you every day. Anyone who questions your beliefs is “attacking the church” or on an anti-Christian crusade. It’s called special pleading. You have no evidence to support your beliefs so you want special privilege for your religion because you know as well as I do that it can’t stand up to any real scrutiny. As for being humble and pure of heart, is that what you claim you are? Because you come off as arrogant and willing to glibly excuse horrible crimes against humanity. To me that isn’t pure of anything. You are good at regurgitating the RCC talking points. You’ve obviously been indoctrinated well. I invite you to question what you believe. If it is true, it will stand up to that scrutiny. Frankly, all I see is a house of cards. Some personal anecdotes, unproven assertions and a whole lot of bizarrely twisted logic. And of course a long history of crimes against humanity for which the RCC has never had to answer. How any decent human being belongs to a criminal organization like this is beyond me. I do know some nice people who are Catholic and their cognitive dissonance on moral matters (like priests raping children) makes me want to puke. Even a “cold, hard cynic” like me can see that’s wrong. I don’t know why you can’t stand up and demand accountability from the church. Except that you want it to all be swept under the rug and pretend like it never happened.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  My friend, I have had lots of conversations with non-believers. I can tell fairly easily whether someone is actually interested in dialogue, or whether he/she is completely closed to it. From the beginning your tone has been hostile, contemptuous and disrespectful. My apologies if I come across as arrogant, but do try to understand that it does get frustrating to talk with people who hold such ingrained and irrational anti-Christian prejudice (your every reply has only confirmed and strengthened this impression). You are welcome to prove me wrong if you like.

                  Your negative attitude is the reason why I didn’t bother giving you any serious arguments. It is quite obvious that you will reject all of them, no matter how much I try, so why bother?

                  It’s doesn’t take much merit to criticize people who have done great things. I’m sure neither Mother Teresa nor JP2 were perfect, but history will judge. Did you ever hear of Malcolm Muggeridge who converted to Catholicism largely due to her testimony? http://goo.gl/qbH2g Oh sorry, I forgot, invalid argument, subjective anecdotes are worthless.

                  JP2 was a “hardliner” according to your radical secularist, anti-Christian perspective, of course. Every single pope is a hardliner according to you, because they happen to not agree, I assume, with your liberal sexual mores. But the truth is that condoms encourage promiscuity and thus increase the spread of AIDS. They do little to stem the disease. Here are a few sources, most non-Catholic, that support the pope’s position as actually very well founded. I suspect you will dismiss them without giving them any serious consideration, but it’s worth a shot:

                  http://goo.gl/Ue7zL
                  http://goo.gl/zVekq
                  http://goo.gl/PWh1x
                  http://goo.gl/6qm0D
                  http://onemoresoul.com/pdfs/PWWS.pdf

                  Even if condoms reduce the transmission of STDs by 90% (and some say that their effectiveness is much less than that), does it sound like a loving thing to do to encourage their use? Would you get into a plane that has a 10% or 20% chance of crashing? What hypocrisy to denigrate and attack the Church’s teachings on chastity and faithfulness, while having nothing to say against promiscuity and immoral sexual behaviors. As if condoms will solve the problem.

                  I don’t know where you get that I’m putting on a “victim act.” I’m actually quite happy about my life and faith, just perplexed by the incredibly negative perspective that people like you have on it.

                  Out of curiosity, what sympathetic sources have you consulted to form your opinion about Catholicism? Obviously you have had plenty of exposure to prejudiced anti-Christian sources, mainstream media, etc, but what serious material have you actually read with an open mind? Something by John Paul II or Benedict? The Catechism of the Catholic Church? Some biographies of saints perhaps?

                  And did you experience any particular personal incidents that caused you to become so hostile to Christianity?

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  You really are hilarious. You accuse ME of being close-minded? I suppose you could consider me anti-Christian but I am no more anti-Christian than I am anti-Islam or anti-Hinduism or anti-Budhism or anti-any-other-religion. What makes your particular brand of unproven assertions more special than any of the others. Again, your arrogance is showing.

                  You ask me what unbiased sources I have consulted to form my opinion of Catholicism and then you refer me to totally biased sources? have YOU read any unbiased sources with an open mind? It doesn’t sound like it.

                  As for condoms in Africa, the problem is that you have to use condoms all the time. There seems to have been a problem with people thinking that using them sometimes reduced their risk all the time. That’s obviously not true. (I did read your articles, and found them biased in favor of the Catholic position.) Yes, it would be better for them to cut down on the number of sexual partners too. I’m not saying that condoms alone are a panacea, but for women not to have that option to prevent them from being infected is cruel. But you don’t really care how many people get AIDS so long as you can cling to the hard line position of no condoms. It’s absurd and even most Christians don’t object to condom use.

                  I get why people like JP2. He was certainly presentable enough. I just have disagree with his policies. So do many non-Catholic Christians. (Actually, so do most Catholics since studies reveal that most Catholics use birth control.) Benedict is a criminal. He was the one in charge of covering up the child-rape scandal. There’s just no getting around that. And I suppose the story of someone converting to Catholicism on the testimony of MT is supposed to be moving to a non-Christian? Why do you think that means anything to anyone else? If someone’s testimony had caused the same man to convert to Islam or Buddhism would you be similarly impressed? Would that make their testimony evidence of the veracity of their claims? People convert to both of those religions every day. By your standard that makes them equally true with yours, which is impossible.

                  What’s funny is that you resort to ad hominem attacks to dismiss whatever I say and then pretend you have good reasons, then when asked for them you just present the same old long-debunked tripe that all theists use. It’s not convincing. I spent a long time studying religions before I rejected them all. About 40 years, in fact. I didn’t spend that much time with Catholicism (in spite of working for an RCC church as a musician for 2 years) because of nonsense like transubstantiation and immaculate conception. You are free to believe whatever I want, but I don’t have to pretend that it makes any sense. Again, where is the evidence for anything you believe?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Actually yes, I regretfully do stand by my claim that you are close-minded. I didn’t make it up. You are the one who has been ranting with anti-Christian cliches throughout this conversation, apparently oblivious to the fact that our entire Western civilization and culture are built on the very Christian foundations and principles that you despise. Of course one can always criticize this or that aspect of Christian history or the Church, but your wholly black picture hardly invites respect.

                  Your judgment of Benedict as a “criminal” only confirms this obvious fact that your view of Christianity is completely detached from reality. What is your source of information, the New York Times? Everyone who is remotely informed about the scandals knows very well that Ratzinger is one of those who did the most to deal with the abuses (though, no doubt, he probably made his share of mistakes too). It is obvious to anyone who has met him, read his works, or heard him speak that he is not only a brilliant mind but also a very humble, kind and good man. Again, sorry, I don’t want to attack you, but you are just shooting yourself in the leg by making such incredibly ignorant statements when it is more than obvious that you know nothing about the man.

                  Actually yes, I constantly read unbiased sources that critique Christianity and the Church. It’s not too hard because this is about the standard position of the media nowadays. I used to be an agnostic and anti-Catholic. I was vehemently against the Church, so yes I have read my fair share of anti-Christian literature. Now how about you? Are you able to mention two or three respectable works that you have read that present Christianity in a positive light?

                  So sources like the Washington Post, Guardian and Telegraph are “biased in favor of the Catholic position”? Really??? I had to rub my eyes when I saw that. Why biased, because they happen to not agree with your own views? Because it’s inconceivable that someone with a brain could actually agree with the pope?

                  I actually do care about people getting AIDS and I wish none did. I have a hard time understanding how saying to women that it’s fine to be promiscuous, just use a condom all the time because there is a 80-90% chance that it will block the virus – how this is supposed to be an example of caring for women? Yes, if they will be promiscuous anyway, then it’s probably better that they use condoms (which is exactly what the pope said), but if we really care about the dignity of women (and men) then the better message is “you are worth waiting for. Why give yourself to someone who is not committed to you and will probably abandon you, and might infect you with a deadly disease?” It’s really, really difficult to understand why you would hold in such contempt what is really a desire to uphold the dignity of men, women, and human sexuality as something best protected by the covenant of marriage.

                  If you are really interested in evidence for what I believe, I am happy to give you some references, but given your current attitude, (e.g. calling nonsense and rejecting with scorn things that you don’t understand) I don’t think it would do much good. You can’t approach God like a judge on the dock or prosecutor with your mind made up, shaking your fist at Him. His love and goodness are only revealed to the humble. This doesn’t mean you can’t have honest objections or difficulties with Catholicism – most people do. But there has to be a disposition to sincerely try to understand the other side as sympathetically as possible, even if you don’t agree, before judging and rejecting it. Isn’t that a good rule of thumb for any type of human interaction?

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  More of the same. If you have proof please offer it.

                  1. Proof that any supernatural entities exist.

                  2. Proof that any of those is the god that you worship.

                  And your position on Ratzinger is ridiculous. He was in charge of the cover-up. I followed the story in Boston quite closely. They stonewalled and blamed the victims. That is hardly dealing with the crimes in a responsible way. The church is still concealing its own records of the abuse. It was my understanding that in order to be forgiven one had to confess one’s sins. Certainly raping children is a serious sin in your religion. Where is the confession, the full one. Sorry, it never happened. Ratzinger was in charge of the cover-up and as compensation for that heinous job he was promoted to pope. How revolting a spectacle all this is and yet you defend it.

                  The media is out to get the church? What a laugh. The church mostly gets a free pass on everything. everyone once in a while they are critical of the Vatican and that is proclaimed by people like you as an attack and anti-Christian. Yes, that’s victimhood. Poor little Catholics. If only they weren’t the wealthiest organization on earth and able to commit crimes that no other organization would ever get away with! Pathetic.

                  You act like I never considered Christianity before rejecting it. I considered it for a long time. It took me decades to realize that the reason none of it made sense was because it simply wasn’t true. Again, I am welcome to hearing evidence if you have any. No, personal anecdotes don’t count. People from every religion offer such anecdotes. So do non-believers. So do people who believe in homeopathy. And astrology. Sorry but something that is true should be provable. If it isn’t then we are right to assume that it’s not. I’m not giving your religion a special pass because it hurts your feelings that I don’t accept your special pleading. Really you have offered nothing but a twisted version of reality.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Sorry about the delay in responding.

                  I am really perplexed by your comments on the abuses. It really sound like your source of info was the New York Times and nothing else. Benedict repeatedly apologized for the harm done. It is clear to anyone who knows him (and I know people who do) that he was genuinely devastated by the abuses (and not just because it was bad PR for the Church). He met several times with some of the victims to express his regret and sorrow at what happened.

                  Is it not conceivable to you that the leader of a billion member organization is not necessarily aware of everything that is going on at any given moment, or of the gravity of a particular situation, and neither is he going to be immune from making mistakes. If you are interested in being informed a little more objectively by the facts about Benedict’s role and reactions to the abuses, this may be helpful: http://popebenedictandclergyabuse.blogspot.com/

                  As for your more general questions and requests for “proof” about God, you may feel that you are getting “more of the same” from me because I feel I am getting “more of the same” from you. If your heart is not open to God, then no “proof” will ever convince you. Yes, there is a healthy, open minded skepticism that I think is a good thing, but there is also such a thing as a stubborn and closed skepticism that would box in the transcendent into one’s own narrow categories and criteria. I thought of you as I was reading something a little earlier today:

                  “Much in current Western scientific mentality has been tempted to deny the status of `fact’ (and so of truth) to everything not demonstrable in test-tubes or provable by `verification’. This instinctive reductionism of many contemporary philosophers sadly prevents them from reckoning with the historical meaning of faith and the deep inter-relation of both event, and mystery.”

                  Kenneth E. Bailey. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (p. 19).

                  This said, I can’t look into your heart, so I don’t know if your skepticism is sincere and open-minded, or insincere and close-minded. That’s up to you to figure out. It is abundantly clear to me that if the latter is true, then any arguments I propose to you will be a waste of time. Nevertheless…

                  Regarding the existence of God, try this: http://goo.gl/uOV6E

                  As for Christ, you could try this:
                  http://www.the-case-for-christ.com/
                  http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/christ-divinity.htm

                  Or, laid out very simplistically, in PowerPoint format:

                  On the existence and attributes of God: http://goo.gl/fodlw
                  On the person of Jesus and the resurrection: http://goo.gl/6jUVl

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Now I think you’re a poe. Pascal’s wager? The Ontological Argument? That whole list is easily refuted. I invite you to call into a show called the Atheist Experience and give them your best proof of the existence of god. But listen to the show or look at the archives first because pretty much every one of the arguments in your link comes up at least once a month and none of them are even close to convincing to anyone with the least bit of skepticism. You offer no proof and then put the blame on me for not accepting it just because you say so. or someone else says so. Yes, I believe that things that are true should be provable. You might want to check out a website called Ironchariots.org which refutes most (if not all) of your “proofs” for god.

                  As for Ratzinger, sorry but he didn’t do nearly enough. There are still records being withheld from investigators. there are still priests being shielded. And while I have my own problems with the NY Times (there’s a very elitist Ivy League mentality there that is often out of touch with working people living in the city as well as the rest of the country…we don’t all have trust funds), but the reporting they and the Boston Globe did on the scandal over the last 15 years was remarkable and brave as church officials and their supporters put enormous pressure on both papers. This has been done in the past and all over the country. I grew up in texas and since New Mexico (which shares an archdioces with Texas) is where they were sending the pedophile priests back in the 70s and 80s the scandal really broke there in the mid 1980s. Yes, it’s been going on at least that long. They paid people off, threatened them, intimidated them, etc. Am I really suppose to believe that multimillion dollar lawsuits were being paid out without knowledge of the Vatican? How dumb do you think I am. They’ve know about this for a long time. Every bishop and cardinal knew about this decades ago and their hands are all dirty. I’ll believe they are truly sorry and repenting when I see a huge turnover in the hierarchy of the church. Ratzinger’s apologies (and I did read them) were pathetic to anyone who isn’t an apologist for the church. Too little, too late. The church only felt bad when it was costing them millions in lawsuits per year. And even know they seem to prefer blaming this on gay priests and worst of all Cardinal Dolan in NYC blamed it on the temptation of the young people to the priests. Really? Really?

                  I’m not impressed. It’s a corrupt and wicked organization at present. Honestly if some nuns had position of power in the church I don’t think this would have gone on so long or been allowed to get so bad. maybe the nuns I know (my mom works for a catholic hospital so I’ve met dozens over the years) are not typical but I kind of think they are from what I read and the experience of others. Women don’t tolerate this behavior and don’t excuse it, especially where children are concerned. it’s corrupt. You really think Ratzinger has done enough? Why are there still victims pleading with courts to get records that are being withheld? Why were victims shunned by their own congregations. You should be ashamed to be affiliated with that mess. I know I would. Look what happened at Penn State and that was ONE person who was abusing children. There were easily 100 in the RCC and what has really been done to fix the problem besides blaming others and promoting the cardinal in charge of the cover-up to pope?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Just like I said… Why do you think I was reluctant to even propose some arguments? Do you think I had the pretense of coming up with some new genius “proof” that hadn’t been said before and would suddenly convince you? Of course not. I stand by what I said: there is no such thing as a perfect “proof” for the existence of God. Arguments can help remove the obstacles to faith, but they can only go so far. Again, I can’t judge the honesty (or lack thereof) of your search, but one thing is clear: by locking yourself into this very narrow framework of looking for empirical “proofs”, you have already predetermined your own conclusion. The search for God has to begin with the heart. It doesn’t contradict the head – the intellectual search – but in most cases, the heart must precede it.

                  As for the scandals, I wasn’t in the US when everything blew up, so I don’t really know the details of what happened here. I was actually in Rome part of that time. It’s obvious that many people in the hierarchy failed, from the abusers themselves to the bishops guilty of cover ups. I also know the “Vaticanese” mentality and the shocking inefficiency of the Roman Curia, and I’m not that surprised at all that the scandals were so mismanaged. I would just urge you to be a little more prudent before laying the blame on Benedict. It’s simply inaccurate and the product of a massive slander campaign against him.

                  As bad as the scandals are, and although I can understand that lots of people are disgusted with the Church because of them, they are actually nearly irrelevant to the essence of the faith. The Church has always been made up of sinners. There are plenty in the Old Testament, and plenty in the New (beginning with Judas), and there were always plenty of sinners in every age. As painful as the scandals are, it’s dishonest to judge an institution on the basis of the people who have miserably failed to live out its teachings. A much better indicator, it seems to me, is to look at the lives of those who have lived out its teachings most successfully, the saints. Their joy and self-sacrificial love is the true picture of the Church.

                  EDIT: and by the way, your Iron Chariots website doesn’t answer well at all the arguments for the existence of God. It’s also pretty obvious from the speed of your response that you didn’t read Kreeft’s article, which again seems to confirm your lack of sincere interest in the matter.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Well, this is pointless and has gone on for many exchanges loner than it should have. Yes, I require real proof. A powerpoint presentation with pictures of outer space and Bible verses isn’t going to do it. I was raised in church. I’ve read the entire Bible cover to cover more than once. I’m not closed-minded about religion. it took me a long time to accept that it’s just not true. Empty platitudes and circular reasoning are not valid arguments. Basically you have decided what you believe and then look for things to help your rationalize your beliefs. You are perfectly free to do so, but stop acting like there’s some defect in my character because i actually want proof. You admit you have none. There doesn’t seem to be much reason for further discussion on that matter since you admit you have nothing to offer.

                  As for the church…you have clearly decided to accept that the same bishops who knowingly shuttled child rapists from parish to parish where over and over again they continued to rape children isn’t that big a deal. Nevermind that those bishops were never charged (as they would have been had they done the same thing in a secular organization. Those bishops are STILL IN THE CHURCH. No, I would not attend such a church and in fact I regularly turn down work in Catholic churches for just that reason. Just being there make me want to vomit. No, the apologies are not enough. I don’t believe they are sorry. If they are they should take actions like removing the bishops that allowed children to be raped while doing nothing to stop it. Yes, people are imperfect. That’s why we have laws. That’s why we like to have power systems with checks and balances. That is exactly the problem with the church. There is no accountability except to the hierarchy and if the hierarchy itself is abusing its power? This kind of thing may have been acceptable in the middle ages when no one dared to question the authority of the church (for fear of being burned alive in the Inquisition for example) but we now live in a time when people are free to speak and question. People are leaving in the church in droves and who can blame them. (many going to other churches, many to none at all) I just can’t have any part of something so heinous as to allow child sexual abuse to go on for decades. it’s clear that the church’s main concern was lawsuits and not the well being of the children. Worse, they obviously were more afraid of the judgement of society than the judgement of the deity they claim to believe in. That to me is evidence that they don’t believe what they claim. That’s not being imperfect. it’s a sign of a group of people who are corrupt and rotten to the core. I can’t even imagine being part of such a thing. Your excuses are revolting. Any caring or compassionate person would be just as revolted. You seem to be fine with it. Oh, sorry, you feel bad. You deeply regret it. This isn’t over either. There are more and more revelations every year. It wasn’t just America. This was a global problem. There’s something deeply sick in the church hierarchy. That’s not a criticism of the theology but of the people who hold the power in the world’s wealthiest organization. I’ll say this one more time: if the superintendent of the Boston Public school system had shuttled pedophiles from one school to another where they raped children at each school, he’d be in jail. Cardinal Law did the same thing in Boston and he was not punished at all. That’s why I can’t respect the church. There was no punishment under secular or church law. That’s a travesty.

                  About the article, once I saw that it was a rehash of the same old same old, no I didn’t bother reading further. I’ve already read and questioned all of this. I did so before I deconverted. You act as if I never considered any of this. I used these rationalizations for years trying to hold on to the idea of god until I realized that it just wasn’t true. That wasn’t an easy thing to do because of the way I was raised. You seem to think that I owe you yet another rehash of the same things. I’ve already considered those arguments. Sorry but you have to come up with something convincing. I’m not suspending my demand for evidence just for this one thing. I wouldn’t do it for anything else. I am not as inflexible as you think. last fall I completely changed my view on an important matter in my field. I realized I was wrong when presented with a good argument, facts and critical thinking. I admit I was wrong and I have changed my teaching radically as a result (with good results I might add). Things that are true are provable. That goes for everything. Provide me with evidence, real evidence not empty platitudes, and I’m all ears. Offer me the same long disproven nonsense and I will bore quickly. Again, if you have the one good argument, then please call in to The Atheist Experience cable access show. They are better at logic and philosophy than I am. I’ve heard them tear apart all the standard arguments many times. it’s honestly not that hard. You’re going to have to do better and again stop blaming me for demanding evidence. The fault is yours for not having a convincing argument, not mine for demanding one.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  We apparently come from really different places. I may have mentioned that I was an agnostic for several years, then was involved with evangelical Christianity for a few years before I returned to the Catholic Church (having been originally raised Catholic). In the last decade I have probably met hundreds of priests: a few mediocre ones, many good ones, and a few exceptional ones. No criminals. No child rapists. Not a single one. But really a lot of humble and good men at the service of their people. How you get your totally black picture of the Church on the basis of the abuses of about 2-3% of priests, while wholly ignoring the good work of the other 97% – and then claim that your criticism is fair and/or balanced is beyond me. I am absolutely not “fine” with the abuses, they are extremely distressing and horrible. But they are still ***2-3%*** of priests – a much lower ratio than the ratio of abuses committed by single or married men. You don’t see the double standard in your extremely harsh judgment? It is completely out of proportion with the facts. I suppose I can’t blame you for it because this has been pretty much the approach of most of the media.

                  About the existence of God, you have instantly dismissed 20 arguments with no real explanation, which actually would have interested me. It seems to me common sense: is it so reasonable to believe that a very complex universe entirely made of contingent beings in constant flux, displaying order, beauty, intelligence and love, somehow came into existence from nothing by a mysterious explosion caused by… nothing? Are you aware of the amount of faith you need to believe that? Is it not more reasonable by far to think that an uncontingent, eternal, spiritual, uncaused cause set it all in motion?

                  I don’t know how you manage to reject so quickly all arguments encompassing many realms of life including nature, logic, countless testimonies including people who have died and returned to tell their story, our innate sense of morality and conscience (if we are all but the result of a blind, meaningless evolution, why do you even care about the Church scandals? what is morality, what is right and wrong and why does it matter? is it not all an arbitrary social construct ultimately devoid of meaning?)

                  Anyway, obviously we could continue to argue ad nauseam with little profit. I have myself seen several miracles (as in blind people who began to see and crippled children who began to walk) and experienced many times the power of Jesus Christ in my life and in the lives of others. I have experienced first hand the difference between, on the one hand, an ultimately hopeless and meaningless atheism/agnosticism, where everything that we love and value the most here on earth are only ephemeral illusions that we will lose one day to rot in the ground and be eaten by worms, and on the other hand the joy and hope of being loved, knowing that our life here is of extreme meaning and importance, not only because we can already live in communion with God now, but also because it is all a preparation for our eternal destination where we will meet Love face to face and understand that the very purpose of our existence was to encounter this personal Love and to share in His life forever.

                  I sincerely wish you all the best in your continued journey.

  • Spanish Inquisitor

    Does this mean I can now go to heaven without believing in the heaven I’m going to?

    • Luther

      Only if it exists. But they will be joining us “in” the non-place, no matter what they believe.

  • Dean Hiler

    Actually, I asked a priest about this, and he said there is a difference between redemption and salvation. He isn’t saying non-Christians get to go to heaven. He’s saying that Jesus’s sacrifice counts for them, but they STILL have to believe in Jesus to get to heaven.
    “But do good: we will meet one another there.” means we’ll meet each other doing good works on earth, not we’ll see each other in heaven.

    • Art_Vandelay

      That’s exactly right. According to their theology, “redemption” already happened in the form of this blood sacrifice in Palestine a couple thousand years ago. “Salvation” only comes with accepting the idea that your existence requires redemption and believing in the divinity of all this nonsense. All the Pope is saying is that it’s available to atheists. We already knew that and we’ve already eschewed it because it’s not believable and lets face it…kind of creepy.

    • Gus Snarp

      This needs more upvotes. Jokes and rhetorical points aside, it seems like a lot of people aren’t reading it.

    • Andre Villeneuve

      Yes, your statement is essentially correct. However the Church also teaches (unlike fundamentalist groups) that although Christ is the only way to salvation, non-Christians *may* (not *will* but *may*) also be saved if they didn’t have an honest chance to accept the Gospel:

      “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 847)

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Which makes believing in Hell at all any more ethical how?

        • Andre Villeneuve

          People don’t go to hell because an angry, vindictive God likes to cast people there who just didn’t know any better and by chance happened to not believe in the right creed.

          People who go to hell choose it for themselves, so to speak, by stubbornly violating their own conscience, doing evil, and rejecting the truth that was given to them. This may well include Christians. Conversely, an atheist who sincerely and humbly sought truth and goodness throughout his/her life may well be saved in the end.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            So it’s all my fault for believing in the evidence of my own eyes and the logic of my own brain (which is actually universal logic, but hey). It’s my fault that I chose to follow the rational path that’s led to knowledge, that’s led to life expectancies doubling in 100 years, that’s saved my life from pneumonia and mono by modern medicine. It’s my fault I looked at a hodge-podge of a morally bankrupt book that condones rape, genocide, and slavery and said “that can’t be good”. It’s my fault I looked at that same book and saw culturally-appropriate ancient myths instead of a universal message from a timeless, invisible, unphysical, all-good, all-powerful, all-benevolent deity who nevertheless allows for and created eternal torture, malaria, and Tay-Sachs.

            If (your specific version of) God wanted my belief so much, why not show up in some testable, quantifiable form? Or just “speak in my heart”? Blame the victim much?

            EDIT: I realized you said that belief in God wasn’t a prerequisite to not go to Hell. If that’s the case, then why bother with the whole God-thing anyways?

            • Andre Villeneuve

              As long as you genuinely and humbly seek the truth, God, who is the author of all truth, will respect that. I don’t understand the relevance of your comments regarding scientific advances and medecine, since most of them came out of Christian cultures (unless you are trying to argue against the canard that the Church is against science? also false by the way).

              As I’ve said before, Old Testament morality emerged out of the Ancient Near East mentality and all of its corrupt practices. The Ten Commandments are but a “first step” and foundation of morality that limited the worst practices in the ancient world. No one (or nearly no one) advocates living according to Old Testament standards today.

              God did come in a “testable, quantifiable” form in the person of Jesus Christ. And He does also “speak in your heart.” Do listen to your heart and your conscience in humility and honesty, and they will lead you to Him. Then you will realize that your ideas of a cruel “tyrant-divinity” have nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian God. He shares any genuine longing for truth, goodness and justice that you may have.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                I can’t see Jesus or hear him. Nor can I speak to anyone who’s seen or heard him. A warm, fuzzy feeling is easily induced by multiple methods, including but not limited to meditation, alcohol, and sex. Feeling that is not an indication of any gods talking to me, but rather a known if not well understood brain chemical cascade.

                Your “evidence” is a 2,000 year old mishmash of stories and writings by authors who were not Jesus’s contemporaries. The earliest ones can be fairly definitively placed at ~60 years after Jesus’s supposed death. Furthermore, of the many gospels that could have become the bible, the majority were thrown out and then hunted down and burned by the Council of Nicaea. The remainder wouldn’t count as evidence in any forum other than religion, and it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) count there either. The Romans, who were rather obsessive about record-keeping, don’t record anything about Jesus at all.

                As for tyranny- anyone who says do what I say or I’ll hurt you is, um, not nice. We call them abusers, actually. The existence of Hell in your theology means that God has absolutely no problems sending people there. He’s all-powerful, remember? If he doesn’t want to, he doesn’t have to. No one can make him do anything. The fact that he does send people to Hell makes your god a sadist and an abuser.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I answered your question about hell in another post. People go to hell out of their own free choice. It is not God’s choice. It’s kind of like a fish who decides to leave the ocean and go for a trek in the desert. He will die there because he was made for water. If we persistently run away from truth and goodness, we are essentially running away from God who is the source of our very life. Since we have free will, He will respect that choice. So hell is the self-willed absence of God. The Catechism calls hell the “definitive self-exclusion from communion with God.” It’s really a consequence of free will. Since we are free, there exists the possibility of rejecting God and His love forever.

                  Your statement on the gospels are factually incorrect. The Pauline epistles date back to the 50s, so less than 20 years after Christ’s death and resurrection. Christianity would have never gotten off the ground without the resurrection happening. Both the Romans and the Jews could have simply produced Jesus’ corpse and that would have been the end of the story. Why didn’t they? And why did all the early Christians decided to die for a lie or for a delusion? do you really think they were that stupid?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  God created Hell. God determined the rules for who goes there or not. Therefore, your all-good, all-loving god is fine with people burning in Hell for eternity for a decision they made over an infinitesimally small lifetime. Sounds like a swell guy, really. I wouldn’t do that, not to my worst enemy, not ever. Infinite punishment for finite mistakes is inherently immoral. And if you think Hell is the absence of God, well, welcome to Hell. You live in that universe right now, and overall it’s a pretty fine place. If, after death, I go to another Earth instead of my consciousness just ceasing to exist, I’m OK with that. I’d be thrilled I still existed at all!

                  On the resurrection stuff: riiight. When random guys several hundred miles away were talking to poor people about a resurrection and empty tomb, those people totally had a way to fact-check. NOT! Christianity totally could have gotten off the ground without anything ever happening, and even without Jesus actually ever existing. I mean, a lot of the expansion happened because a guy (Saul/Paul, I think?) got a vision but never actually met Jesus. Roman records talk about Christians starting in the 2nd century, but there is no mention of a Yeshua ben Yoseph or other messianic figure that got crucified at the appropriate time. There’s also no mention of other dead people getting up and walking around- at least one of the gospels talks about hundreds of dead people walking around Jerusalem! That seems like it would’ve gotten a mention in the Roman records, but nope! Not a word.

                  Not to mention the many contradictions in the empty tomb story itself. Was there anyone there? How many women? How big a crowd saw the empty tomb? Who knows? The stories are all very different, almost as if they’d been made up or something.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  When several people see an event, say an accident on the street, it is absolutely normal that you will get slightly different accounts of what happened. The four gospels have some variations but they are not “very different”. For more on this and the other points you mention, see Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that demands a Verdict.”

                  If your goal is just to argue against Christianity, then obviously there is nothing I can say that will change your mind. It is up to you to search your conscience and see whether you are genuinely interested in seeking truth, no matter where it may lead you, or whether you are just interested in arguing.

                  And God is certainly not absent from our world right now. True, He is hidden, but He can be found by those who seek Him. Children don’t have much of a problem in seeing him; it’s us grown ups who usually obscure His loving presence when we lose our childhood innocence and allow sin to separate us from Him.

                  I am off now, all the best and God bless!

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh for fuck’s sake. Go read the comments here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2013/02/bertrand-russells-why-i-am-not-a-christian/ I’m not going over this again.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  If your goal is just to argue against Christianity, then obviously there
                  is nothing I can say that will change your mind. It is up to you to
                  search your conscience and see whether you are genuinely interested in
                  seeking truth, no matter where it may lead you, or whether you are just
                  interested in arguing.

                  Behold that beam, son. And you’re making things up about Feminerd. Does Jesus love it when you make up things about people.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Or, y’know, God could just make fish that breath sand?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes, he definitely could, but he didn’t. :)

                • Hat Stealer

                  Why? God knew perfectly well in advance that creating non-sand breathing fish would result in some fish dying a horrible, painful death, so why did he make them that way? An all loving God would not, in my opinion, doom some of his creations from the start by making them incapable of living in some situations, and then making it inevitable that they would get in said situations.

                  To extend the analogy to humans, surely you would agree that the very fact that you are debating atheists on an atheist blog would imply that some humans have been given (as you say, by God) the ability to question and reject the existence of God. Why would God do this to us? He knew perfectly well in advance that he was creating a creature that would reject him. To then go on and make the punishment for his rejection everlasting torture is just sadistic. Again, God KNEW that there would be people that he created that WOULD go to hell, but he did it anyway. He essentially created specks of conscientiousness just to put in eternal pain forever (in case you didn’t get the eternal part.) Free will does not excuse that.Unless you’re saying that God though that everyone would make the right choice and choose to believe in him specifically… which of course would mean he’s not omniscient.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  We ALL have the ability to question and reject the existence of God. We are free. Yes, God knew some would go to hell, but it still remains the free choice of those people. Again, understand me correctly: people don’t go to hell because they just sincerely got it wrong or happened to believe in the wrong creed. People go to hell when they pridefully persist in doing evil, refuse to repent, refuse to seek truth and goodness until their very breath. So their definitive rejection of God, who is the the source of life, is their choice.

                • Hat Stealer

                  ” Yes, God knew some would go to hell, but it still remains the free choice of those people.”

                  Then I’m afraid our disagreement is entirely one of opinion. I am of the opinion that creating something so it can be tortured is wrong. You apparently are not. There are no arguments against that, it is simply a difference in morals.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “creating
                  something so it can be tortured is wrong” -> false. They were created to live in loving communion with God.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Then I revise my previous statement to say “creating something knowing that it will be tortured is wrong.” Again, that is just my opinion.

                  EDIT: In fact, I’ll just go out on a limb and say that torture forever is wrong. If someone thinks that torture forever is right, well, there are no rational arguments against that. It is again, simply a difference of opinion.

              • Charles Honeycutt

                The Christian Church retarded scientific advancement for centuries. As an example, the Greeks determined that the Earth was round. The Bible contradicted that. Guess which one the RCC went with for a very long time?

                Another example: The Bible claims that disease is caused by “evil spirits”. Beliefs like this retarded medical advancement.

                Another example: Galileo.

                Again, you’re very ignorant of what you are spewing.

                It’s irrelevant that scientific advancement came from Christian cultures. Alan Turing invented the computer. That doesn’t make computers homosexual.

                Citation needed on those “corrupt practices”, mostly because they’re fictional. The OT laws were cribbed directly from that “Ancient Near East” mentality. Google Hammurabi. Hell, Google ANYTHING.

                The possible existence of a proselytizing carpenter who led a small cult that became successful after a few hundred years, the basis of which was taken wholesale from older myth cycles, is not a test of the existence of anything supernatural. You’re smugly playing word games, the same word games that get shredded over and over again in the marketplace of ideas. You’re presenting nothing new or even intelligible. Please learn to present arguments like an adult.

              • TCC

                As long as you genuinely and humbly seek the truth, God, who is the author of all truth, will respect that.

                How do you know this?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Hmm, good question. Objectively I know it because that is what divine revelation teaches (in Scripture and the teachings of the Church). There can never be any real contradiction between God and what is genuinely true, because He is the author of all truth (scientific, human, moral, etc…).

                  Subjectively, I know it from about 18 years of trying to live in communion with God by following Christ…

                • Glasofruix

                  So, you know jack shit then?

                • TCC

                  That’s not much of an answer. What in Scripture or Catholic teachings suggests that people who “genuinely and humbly seek the truth” will be “respected” by God (by which I hope you mean that they won’t be damned, else this whole line of discussion is pretty pointless)? Doesn’t Romans 1:20 undercut this argument, for starters?

                  And I would really caution you about saying that “There can never be any real contradiction between God and what is genuinely true,” since that will lead you to ignore or rationalize any contrary evidence, thus making the very idea of God utterly unfalsifiable (which it generally is, but I’m assuming, rightly or not, that you are attempting to draw a rational conclusion). That’s neither objective nor honest.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 846-48
                  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#III

                  846 Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

                  847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

                  Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

                  848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”

                  As for your comment on the non-contradiction between God and truth, see my reply (above?) to Cannon Fodder. If there is a God, unless He is a very cruel one He would not send one message through nature and science, and a contradictory one through divine revelation.

                  See John Paul II’s encyclical on faith and reason (http://goo.gl/enWZ). Here is the introduction:

                  “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

                • Cannon Fodder

                  My friend, you should look into what “objective” means. Accepting the claims of scripture and church doctrine because you believe and/or someone else has said they are “divine” is blatantly subjective opinion unless you can offer substantiation beyond verbal assertions that demonstrates that the scripture and doctrine are indeed somehow divine.

                  “There can never be any real contradiction between God and what is genuinely true, because He is the author of all truth (scientific, human, moral, etc…).”

                  That is assuming that the Christian God does indeed exist, which has yet to be sufficiently and validly substantiated.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes I see what you mean that from your perspective as a non-believer the criterion of divine revelation does not seem very objective. Nevertheless, if God has really spoken to man, then there is an objectivity to that even though not all are able to see it. But I get your point.

                  On the other hand,as for the statement that “There can never be any real contradiction between God and what is genuinely true”, I disagree that this presupposes the existence of the Christian God. To me this just presupposes common sense. If there is a divine being who is somehow interested in communicating with his creation, is it not fair to hope that he will not send conflicting, contradictory and confusing messages to us through the various channels of knowledge available to us (science, nature, conscience, morality, emotions, intellect, etc…)?

                  The more I progress in my faith, the more I feel this harmonious integration of all realms of life (intellectual, affective, moral). So while the content of revelation and the world remain complex, true faith in its essence has a beautiful simplicity to it.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “On the other hand,as for the statement that “There can never be any real contradiction between God and what is genuinely true”, I disagree that this presupposes the existence of the Christian God. To me this just presupposes common sense.”

                  What I meant is that in order for the statement to be true, the Christian God actually has to exist first. If the Christian God doesn’t exist, then there is no comparison to make at all in the first place. You said it yourself “If there is a divine being who is somehow interested in communicating with his creation…”. That is a big “if”.

                  “If there is a divine being who is somehow interested in communicating with his creation, is it not fair to hope that he will not send conflicting, contradictory and confusing messages to us through the various channels of knowledge available to us (science, nature, conscience, morality, emotions, intellect, etc…)?”

                  I’m not sure what was meant by this statement. I myself at least am fairly sure that “God” has indeed sent many conflicting, contradictory, and confusing messages through various channels of knowledge. If the opposite were true, then I’d be almost entirely sure that 99.9% of humanity would be Christian.

                  “The more I progress in my faith, the more I feel this harmonious integration of all realms of life (intellectual, affective, moral). So while the content of revelation and the world remain complex, true faith in its essence has a beautiful simplicity to it.”

                  I am sincerely glad you have been able to find what works for you in world.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Thanks for your last sentence, I appreciate it.

                  Regarding your second point, I don’t deny that our fallen world reflects “conflicting, contradictory, and confusing messages through various channels of knowledge.” Although God obviously permits this, it doesn’t mean that He is the one actively “sending” these conflicting messages. We humans are pretty good at creating myriad theories, philosophies, religions, and ideologies on our own. Since God made us free, He also gives us free reign in spreading all the ideas we want. Despite all this apparent confusion, Jesus promises (often) that God lets Himself be found by those who truly and honestly seek Him. The key: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Once we find truth and learn to distinguish it from all the errors out there, we also find inner peace and everything becomes much more simple

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “Although God obviously permits this, it doesn’t mean that He is the one actively “sending” these conflicting messages. ”

                  Well, to use some Catholic terminology, there are sins of commission and sins of omission. “God” seems to be somewhat neglectful. Allowing various ideas to spread and doing nothing is quite different from allowing various ideas to spread but making it undeniable what the truth is.

                  “Jesus promises (often) that God lets Himself be found by those who truly and honestly seek Him. The key: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

                  I have yet to see that particular promise fulfilled, but I understand the point. According to general Christian doctrine (forgive me if I have misunderstood it), isn’t it impossible to be pure of heart without first receiving the mercy of Christ to cover our personal and original sin? If that is the case, then isn’t it kind of circular in legitimizing itself?

                  “Once we find truth and learn to distinguish it from all the errors out there, we also find inner peace and everything becomes much more simple”

                  Personal opinion, I honestly doubt we will ever get to the truth/ideal.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  The other element that should not be forgotten is the fact that there is an enemy of our souls who is also going around sowing lies in the world:

                  “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also… (Mat 13:24-26, it’s worth reading the entire parable)

                  As I’m sure you know, the existence of Satan does not imply a dualistic struggle between a good and an evil deity, but it does imply that our fallen world is under the influence of evil powers which God allows.

                  And technically yes, we can’t become *perfectly* pure in heart without receiving sanctifying grace but I don’t think the saying should be taken to that extreme. Any sinner can have a sense of his unworthiness leading him to turn to God and ask for His mercy. Think of the parable of the pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:10-14). The tax collector was really a sinner, yet he was justified because of his sincere and humble repentance.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  God’s word against Satan? Should that not be an easy win for God? God supposedly could just think a thought and remove Satan from existence.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  True, He will eventually. Most of your objections come back to the same thing: God could just make everything right, right now. He could, but He didn’t. In the meantime, the presence of evil in the world is an opportunity for us to learn to combat it, to exercise our free will and become holy in the midst of a fallen world. I’m not sure this would be possible if we could just return to an idyllic Garden of Eden situation. It would be the story of the fall all over again.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “Most of your objections come back to the same thing: God could just make everything right, right now. He could, but He didn’t.”

                  Exactly, which seems to strongly suggest either incompetence or maliciousness.

                  “In the meantime, the presence of evil in the world is an opportunity for us to learn to combat it, to exercise our free will and become holy in the midst of a fallen world.”

                  1) This too easily dismisses the point of my objections.

                  2) What is the point if the ultimate destination is heaven where there is no further temptation?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Saints are the triumph of the marriage between God’s grace and human free will. God created us without asking our permission, but He will not save us nor sanctify without our consent. The presence of evil and suffering in the world is the “stuff” that makes saints. Faced with adversity, temptation, suffering, we are forced to make choices, to struggle, to make mistakes, and decide to constantly choose good and reject evil. That is the essence of virtue: not just choosing good once in a while, but becoming so trained to reject evil and choose good that it becomes second nature, so to speak. It’s “training for heaven” so that by the time we are ready for eternity, we have been so purified by God’s grace through suffering that we become “unable” to sin, so to speak, and yet it still remains 100% our choice not to sin. Don’t know if I’m making sense.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “God created us without asking our permission, but He will not
                  save us nor sanctify without our consent.”

                  Exactly, God placed human beings into broken bodies onto a broken earth knowing in his omniscience that most will be damned and all will suffer. God also supposedly created us with a plethora of limitations, and proceeded to beat around the bush since the beginning of history allowing confusion and “lies” to run rampant. God also supposedly allowed and continues to allow Satan to continue to exist after his rebellion and play his games with humanity. I believe my example of handing a two-year old a burning torch in a house drenched with oil describes my position well here.

                  “The presence of evil and suffering in the world is the “stuff” that makes saints.”

                  Yes, but the presence of evil and suffering in the world is also the “stuff” that makes much more broken, destroyed, and/or demented people. For every one person that rises above, there are at least a thousand more who are crushed – simply because they were not “created” or “graced” with same constitution and will of the few. Not all of us are lucky enough to have that extraordinary in-born constitution or have “God’s” grace.

                  Furthermore, as I asked earlier, what is the point if God is simply going to perfect us in heaven and if there is no evil to struggle against in heaven?

                  “It’s “training for heaven” so that by the time we are ready for eternity”

                  Again, training for what exactly? God has supposedly completed his work and perfected the “appropriate” people.

                  “we have been so purified by God’s grace through suffering that we become “unable” to sin, so to speak, and yet it still remains 100% our choice not to sin”

                  In other words, this what God supposedly could have already done and spared humanity and himself a lot of trouble – as evidenced by Mary in Catholicism

                  I also forgot to ask in my previous post how you reconcile God’s omniscience with free will – the two seem to inherently contradict each other.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “God placed human beings into broken bodies onto a broken earth knowing in his omniscience that most will be damned and all will suffer.”

                  You know that this is a caricature. No, He created a perfect world which WE broke, and all of His activity since then has been for the sake of our redemption and salvation. We are the ones who constantly mess it up. Those who humbly seek Him, turn away from sin, and keep his commandments do find Him.

                  It’s not a problem for God, who is outside of time, to know the ultimate outcome of the world and of our lives, and yet at the same time to give us the freedom to make the choices that will affect our destiny.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “You know that this is a caricature.”

                  Yes, you are correct, forgive me my poor wording of that statement. I meant that God knew that said events would occur – “the Fall”, suffering, death, original sin, etc. Again, this all goes back towards the issue of God being able to make, design, and influence a much better world than the one we live in.

                  “No, He created a perfect world which WE broke, and all of His activity since then has been for the sake of our redemption and salvation.”

                  No need to preach to me my friend. I am well aware of God’s supposed intentions and actions as claimed by Christianity. Continuing to make baseless assertions of faith doesn’t add anything to this discussion, but of course it is your right to speak as you wish.

                  I’m curious as to your position on the whether Genesis is a narrative or an actual occurrence (I assume the former). If Genesis is only a narrative, then the question of how exactly sin arrives into the world comes into question. Humanity can hardly be held accountable for sin it had no knowledge of. If Genesis is indeed supposed to be an actual occurrence, then the question only becomes more pressing. Why were Adam and Eve put into a situation in which they had no knowledge of right and wrong and would have no such knowledge until it was already too late? Why was Satan/the serpent allowed to perform such temptations?

                  “It’s not a problem for God, who is outside of time, to know the ultimate outcome of the world and of our lives, and yet at the same time to give us the freedom to make the choices that will affect our destiny.”

                  You are going to have to substantiate this my friend. Just saying that it is does not make it so.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I wasn’t preaching, I was just correcting your mischaracterization/caricature of the problem of original sin and the brokenness of creation.

                  As for what I think of Genesis 1-3. According to the Catechism:

                  390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

                  I’m agnostic as to how symbolically Gen 1-3 should be read, but I tend to think that the rest of Genesis is generally reliable. The Catholic position on the origin of man is definitely that all humanity derives from one original couple – through there is room for debate as to how this first couple came into being.

                  Almost all of your questions, it seems to me, go back to free will. Because Adam and Eve were free to choose God or not, to love or to disobey, there had to exist some possibility of choosing “not God” – and that is represented as the tree and the fruit. The very possibility of sinning derives from God’s gift of freedom. No real possibility of sinning = no freedom = no real possibility to love.

                  “You are going to have to substantiate this my friend.”

                  It seems to me to be common sense. If God is eternal and all knowing, then of course He knew the outcome of our choices from the beginning. And at the center of the biblical world view is the concept of human freedom. I experience every day that I can choose how to act, and yet I don’t feel that I’m surprising God in any way.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “Almost all of your questions, it seems to me, go back to free will. Because Adam and Eve were free to choose God or not, to love or to disobey, there had to exist some possibility of choosing “not God” – and that is represented as the tree and the fruit. The very possibility of sinning derives from God’s gift of freedom. No real possibility of sinning = no freedom = no real possibility to love.”

                  Yes, most of my line of questioning deals with free will – is that problematic?

                  Sure, supposedly even in heaven there is a possibility of not choosing God. However, I noticed that nowhere is temptation argued to be necessary for love. I seem to recall that in heaven supposedly that there is the possibility but no temptation to sin. This raises the questions – is God capable of evil? is there really a real possibility of sin in heaven?

                  “If God is eternal and all knowing, then of course He knew the outcome of our choices from the beginning.”

                  Ok, I think I can see how that would work. However, there still seems to be a very strong sense of predetermination here. People seem doomed or saved from the start as God more or less knows exactly what choices they will make due to their disposition, whim, and circumstances.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “is there really a real possibility of sin in heaven?”

                  I would say that although theoretically it would seem like sin (or the possibility of choosing “not God”) remains possible in heaven because those in heaven remain completely free, in reality it will not be possible. Two reasons intuitively come to mind: first, saints in heaven are so thoroughly perfected and purified that the last thing that will be on their mind will be to sin. They will have grown to the fullest extent of love and goodness so that holiness will become their second nature, so to speak. The idea of committing the smallest of venial sins will be akin to the idea of me murdering my mom or whatever most heinous crime that I can think of today. Sin will be the most contrary thing to the nature that they have become. Second, they will see God face to face (the glory of the beatific vision), and the unmediated divine presence will render sin impossible.

                  Temptation is not necessary for love, strictly speaking, but freedom is. And where there is freedom, there must be the possibility of saying “no”. In heaven, the saints have already freely and irrevocably offered their “yes”, and so that’s why they remain free and at the same time there is no more sin or temptation. (Keep in mind that sin is not a real being but rather the absence of good).

                  As for predestination, the Catholic Church rejects Calvin’s idea of “double predestination” stating that God, more or less, created some people predetermining that they will go to hell. I see our entire life as God’s constantly extending invitations to us to find truth, goodness and beauty in Him.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “I would say that although theoretically it would seem like sin (or the possibility of choosing “not God”) remains possible in heaven because those in heaven remain completely free, in reality it will not be possible.”

                  Then you seem to have diminished or eliminated the quality of love in heaven by your own words – “No real possibility of sinning = no freedom = no real possibility to love.”

                  “Second, they will see God face to face (the glory of the beatific vision), and the unmediated divine presence will render sin impossible.”

                  Isn’t this sort of contradicted by Satan’s rebellion?

                  “Temptation is not necessary for love, strictly speaking, but freedom is.”

                  Then why earth? Why the devil and temptation? Aren’t these things now unnecessary and undesirable?

                  “As for predestination, the Catholic Church rejects Calvin’s idea of “double predestination” stating that God, more or less, created some people predetermining that they will go to hell.”

                  Well certainly I am well aware the Catholic Church rejects predestination but when making the claim that free will and omniscience are compatible, predestination seems to be strongly suggested whether by commission or omission.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Just one last thing:

                  “Then you seem to have diminished or eliminated the quality of love in heaven by your own words – “No real possibility of sinning = no freedom = no real possibility to love.”

                  If a man decides to marry a woman and promises to remain with her “till death do us part”, does he thereby lose his freedom? Or does he rather continue to exercise his freedom in remaining faithful to his decision to remain with the woman he loves through illness, tribulations, and crisis? Does he love more or less by remaining faithful to this commitment? Yes, there is a certain type of “freedom” where he might say “the heck with it” when there is some crisis in the marriage, but there is another type of freedom whereby he chooses to stick to his commitment. The freedom to selfishly do what we want is the false freedom promoted by the world. The freedom to remain faithful and love until death is a much harder freedom, but that is the freedom that is heavenly, where the saints’ greatest desire is to freely remain faithful to their “yes” to God forever.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  I’m unclear how this addresses my point my friend – all you seem to have said is that free choice and adversity are good cultivators of love if one has the will to take the high road, which doesn’t explain why love and virtues aren’t diminished in heaven due to the lack of temptation/adversity (the real possibility of sin). I certainly do agree that true freedom is the ability/capacity to do right, but that doesn’t address the point I made – the freedom I am referring to here is simply the ability to choose a decision.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  How about: “I choose in full freedom to remain faithful to God forever and to never turn back on this decision.”

                • Cannon Fodder

                  But according to your own words, the full freedom you are describing (the ability to choose) requires the real possibility of sin, which would hardly seem to be the case in heaven due a supposed lack of strife and temptation. So is there a real possibility of sinning in heaven (if yes then how does one reconcile this with heaven’s supposed perfection + if yes then why is life on earth necessary at all if love can be cultivated in full freedom in heaven)? If not, then is it not the case then that love in heaven is lesser or diminished by definition?

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Just like to thank you for having this discussion with me. Your civility, honesty, and good will are much appreciated. I really am quite interested in the subject. Plus, my family and most of my friends are all Christians, so its nice to be able to express my true position haha.

              • Cannon Fodder

                If the OT morality truly was incomplete and blatantly wrong, then does that not suggest God was entirely incompetent in accurately communicating perfect moral law to his own chosen people, waiting several thousand years to bring “truth” revelation through Jesus, to the detriment of millions? Is it not in God’s and humanity’s best interest to actually communicate the correct morality? Furthermore, why include the OT within “divinely inspired scripture” when it is clearly so faulty? Why is not apocryphal like the gospel of thomas? You must understand that when books are included within scripture, people tend to assume it is because the institution backing the scripture believes it holds some legitimacy.

                “God did come in a “testable, quantifiable” form in the person of Jesus Christ.”

                Evidence please. Without any substantiation all that is left is the claim made by a text that God did come down to earth as Jesus and that Jesus actually did and said the things claimed by the Bible.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  OT morality is indeed incomplete, but this does not mean that it is “blatantly wrong.” It was a great step forward in its context of the Ancient Near East laws and customs of 3,000 years ago.

                  A foundational concept for understanding Christianity is the idea of progressive revelation: God didn’t reveal everything at once to His people. They would not have been able to handle it. (Just like the process of forming and educating a child as he/she grows up. No one expects a two-year old, five-year old, or twelve-year old to understand and live up to responsible adult codes of conduct and behaviors). Heck, most people still have a hard time today with the standard set by the Gospels. This is why the economy of salvation progressively unfolds in stages until the revelation of the New Covenant.

                  So the OT certainly holds very high legitimacy and is part of Sacred Scripture

                  From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 121-123: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#IV

                  The Old Testament

                  121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

                  122 Indeed, “the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men.” “Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,” the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God’s saving love: these writings “are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.”

                  123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).

                  “God did come in a “testable, quantifiable” form in the person of Jesus Christ.”

                  Evidence? You will never get absolute empirical proof for the divinity of Christ. Do you know how he responded to those who asked for signs, or “proofs” in the gospels? He said that they, precisely, would be the ones who would remain unable to recognize the Messiah, because their hearts were not in the right place.

                  It’s not that God demands from us blind faith. It’s fair to ask for reasonable evidence before one believes in something (and reasonable evidence there is: the fulfillment of OT prophecies, the testimony of the resurrection, the witness of the early apostles who were all willing to die for their faith, etc… ). But there is something profound in Jesus saying that the Kingdom would be revealed to children.

                  Don’t expect God to reveal Himself to you through a series of flawless syllogisms. He will not. Seek the truth with your mind, but also and especially with your heart.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “OT morality is indeed incomplete, but this does not mean that it is “blatantly wrong.””

                  Apologies, I was referring to specific examples throughout the OT which demonstrated at best a contradictory morality to that of the one described by the Ten Commandments – I do understand that the OT is not entirely wrong in regards to moral standards. I hope you can agree that slavery, genocide, murder, etc. were all described as being condoned by God in the OT, and that these immoral actions are most certainly “blatantly wrong”.

                  “It was a great step forward in its context of the Ancient Near East laws and customs of 3,000 years ago.”

                  Under normal circumstances, yes the changes would be quite a big plus to the development of human morality – either way of course any improvement is better than none. However, because of a claimed divine origin, the text really does seem to fall short which suggests a secular origin rather than a divine one.

                  “A foundational concept for understanding Christianity is

                  the idea of progressive revelation: God didn’t reveal everything at once to His people. They would not have been able to handle it. (Just like the process of forming and educating a child as he/she grows up. No one expects a two-year old, five-year old, or twelve-year old to understand and live up to responsible adult codes of conduct and behaviors). Heck, most people still have a hard time today with the standard set by the Gospels. This is why the economy of salvation progressively unfolds in stages until the revelation of the New Covenant.”

                  1) God is supposedly God and creator, why not simply “create” humans with the capacity to understand at least basic morality – no slavery, genocide, killing children for making fun of baldness, etc. Are those types of things really that difficult to understand? Are those types of things really beyond God’s ability to easily, accurately, and undeniably communicate to all human beings? Why wouldn’t God simply make those rules and have people follow them even if they didn’t completely understand them? It truly is strange that “divinely-inspired” scripture is incomplete and imperfect.

                  2) There is a considerable difference between struggling to meet a standard and knowing what the standard is. Even if people would have had trouble following God’s morality, would it not be better and more legitimate to command the correct morality, even if only for the record?

                  3) The progression of morality within the Bible occurs at the detriment of millions or seems makes Christianity negligible. While God “took his time” in conveying proper morality, both the various offenders and victims up until Christ essentially got the very short end of the stick – suffering, incorrect morality, death, damnation. If you are one who holds the belief that God does not send people to hell for their belief in the supernatural by their actions and intentions, then Christianity seems to become negligible as it simply is not necessary to achieve salvation.

                  “Evidence? You will never get absolute empirical proof for the divinity of Christ.”

                  The request for evidence was meant to be a rhetorical statement highlighting the painful fact that there is no empirical evidence (the best kind of evidence) to substantiate Christianity.

                  “Do you know how he responded to those who asked for signs, or “proofs” in the gospels? He said that they, precisely, would be the ones who would remain unable to recognize the Messiah, because their hearts were not in the right place.”

                  I understand that you believe Jesus Christ to be the actual Son of God and therefore omniscient, but it seems that his words there are the perfect cop-out – “you wouldn’t understand anyway so I am not going to bother”. Sure, there will always be some people who will refuse to be convinced no matter, but shouldn’t God, in accordance with his merciful and redemptive goals, at least try to continue to save them instead of just kind of writing them off even if he knows they won’t be convinced? Furthermore, what about all of the non-Christians who would indeed convert on the spot if God appeared to us, demonstrated his power/truth, etc.? Not all, or even most, atheists reject Christianity because we secretly know God exists but reject him out of anger, bitterness, or pride. There are quite a few of us reserving judgment solely because of lack of substantive evidence – God appearing undeniably and communicating with every single human being would count I think. What about those who never have and/or never will hear of Christianity?

                  “It’s not that God demands from us blind faith. It’s fair to ask for reasonable evidence before one believes in something (and reasonable evidence there is: the fulfillment of OT prophecies, the testimony of the resurrection, the witness of the early apostles who were all willing to die for their faith, etc… ).”

                  You may have to provide me with several more examples of “reasonable evidence” my friend. Fulfillment of OT prophecies? It seems more like the NT writers were very familiar with the OT prophecies. The testimony of the Resurrection? What evidence substantiates this? The witness of the early apostles who were all willing to die for their faith? While admirable, martyrdom does not grant any legitimacy to Christianity. Just because people are willing to follow their beliefs to extremes does not necessarily mean those beliefs are accurate, moral, or consistent with reality. Hitler and Himmler were firmly convicted of their “God-given” mission to wipe out the Jews and conquer the world. Osama bin laden and Islam extremists are firmly convinced Allah has called them to wage actual war against infidels. You get the idea. Due to lack of empirical evidence which we are both well aware of, you must understand how Christianity does indeed seem to fundamentally require blind faith – this is a problem as blind faith is easily abused and misled as there is now no grounding in reality to check one’s determinations and actions. This statement from you somewhat confirms this.

                  “But there is something profound in Jesus saying that the Kingdom would be revealed to children.”

                  Children tend to be very impressionable and naturally tend to “blindly” believe in the words and actions of their parents. This particular call to adopt a child-like demeanor seems extremely easy to abuse as it seems to require one to largely or completely abandon one’s faculties of critical thinking.

                  “Don’t expect God to reveal Himself to you through a series of flawless syllogisms. He will not. Seek the truth with your mind, but also and especially with your heart.”

                  I’ve never expected any syllogisms from the Christian God to reveal himself if he existed- undeniable evidence within the physical universe or God personally and undeniably visiting me would be much appreciated though. Though for that matter, why wouldn’t God want to reveal himself to me in an undeniable way – through syllogisms or otherwise? I don’t need to have faith my biological father exists, possesses certain attributes, and loves me, why do need to have faith that God exists? Would it really be so bad for “God” to stop beating around the bush and make himself known to every human being in an undeniable way? Or perhaps to grace every human being as he supposedly graced Mary?

                  My friend, please believe me when I say that I searched for God with everything I had, and I received no revelation, conviction, or anything at all. I was sincere, followed the doctrine, sincerely did the rituals/practices, and desired a “living” and real relationship with “My father”/”My savior”/”My dearest friend”. I prayed, fasted, read the Bible, and asked for “God’s help” because I “knew” I could not do it alone. I did those things not because they were supposed to guarantee a relationship with God, but because they were supposed to facilitate a relationship with God. I had faith and I believed in it at all cost. I cried myself to sleep and begged on my knees for God to just give me something that would be undeniably indicative of his existence and character. I needed it. And nothing. I arrived at the end of my rope, fell to ground, and there was no “God” who caught me. My world fell to pieces. I fell into a deep depression which I alone had to fight out of. Call me a liar or a not a true Christian, but that’s the way it was.

                  Looking back, I feel like quite a sucker, but am glad I was able to stop deceiving myself. I know it is common for Christians to implore non-theists to truly seek for God, even embrace Christianity to “test” it for themselves, guaranteeing some profound experience or lesson which would undeniably prove God to an individual, but the fact of the matter is that many of us have been there, done that, and have been left to deal with the following destruction alone. For every divine experience claimed by Christians, there are at least a thousand experiences of disappointment and nothingness experienced by the rest of humanity.

                  No, my poor experience with Christianity was not nor is it the primary reason I have chosen to be an atheist/secularist – I made my choice upon realizing there was no actual empirical or substantive reason to take that “leap of faith”, at least for me if no one else. My poor experience with Christianity merely serves as a personal experience to be used only as a considering factor.

                  I appreciate your sincerity – thanks for discussing with me.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  OT morality: Jesus himself referred to its precepts regarding divorce, saying it was a concession due to man’s “hardness of heart.” In some instances, we perceive today some things as intrinsically evil but in their context 3,000 years ago they weren’t always that bad. E.g. slavery: Abraham had slaves/servants. He was responsible for their protection and well being. The Torah has several precepts protecting the rights of slaves. In many ages and places slaves had better lives than “free” workers that worked 16 hours a day, say, during the industrial revolution, or even in Chinese factories today.

                  In my opinion, the really problematic moral issue of the OT is the command to exterminate the Canaanites and enemy nations. I grant that this seems pretty much inexcusable from our modern perspective. However, let’s keep in mind that these nations are described as thoroughly wicked, and judgment is often delayed until they have reached a “point of no return” in their wickedness (see Gen 15:16). Think of Sodom and Gomorrah, which the Lord was willing to spare if he even found 10 righteous in it (apparently He didn’t, but He still got Lot and his family out). Recall also that God sent Jonah to Israel’s arch-enemy Nineveh to get them to repent and avoid judgment. Bottom line: God will judge the world and nations for their sins; and we are all going to die anyway. As tragic as death is, in light of our eternal destination it will make little difference at what age and under which circumstances we left this world.

                  I get your objections to the “progression of morality” in the Bible, and I can understand your wish to have all precepts of morality clearly laid out from the start, but perhaps you should be cautious about retrojecting your own views back 3,000 years ago to an age, place and culture that are very, very far remote from your own 21st century western mentality. The fact is, since the coming of Christ, Christian moral precepts have been extremely consistent (though there has been development and growth in understanding too. We can’t expect the Bible to speak about IVF and human cloning)

                  “What about those who never have and/or never will hear of Christianity?”

                  As I think we’ve discussed, the Church does not condemn those who never had a chance to accept the Gospel through no fault of their own:

                  “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” (Catechism 847)
                  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#III

                  “What about all of the non-Christians who would indeed convert on the spot if God appeared to us, demonstrated his power/truth, etc.?”

                  Keep in mind that the Gospels show us exactly this scenario. We see God incarnate appearing to people, demonstrating his power and truth, and in fact only a minority of people believe in Him. I know that many people sincerely have trouble believing, but many others also find pretexts because they don’t want to be accountable to God. Only God can search the hearts and know who is sincere and who is not.

                  I appreciate you sharing some of your personal story and I think I can relate to it. It sounds like you have really and sincerely sought God. I also prayed similar prayers of supplication for God to give me a “sign”, and then at some point I gave up. What kind of sign or experience were you hoping to get?

                  Eventually, I realized that life as an agnostic, life without God, is hopeless and meaningless. Plus it becomes much harder to avoid falling into various sins, and there is simply no solution to guilt and death.

                  When I cautiously returned to Christianity, I was still on the lookout for some “sign” to confirm that all this wasn’t the product of human imagination. Then someone told me that faith was very much like Peter walking on the water. When you live the life of faith, it works. There may be long periods of relative darkness – no signs, no goose bumps, no angelic voices, crosses and difficulties – but you still manage to walk on the water and in the long run you see that it’s true. No Christian is spared what Jesus himself had to endure – not just suffering and death but the feeling of “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?” But in the end, nothing “rings true” like the idea that God was willing to show the greatest extent of self-sacrificial love for me, and that I am called to imitate the same sacrificial love.

                  But the moment you doubt and ask for signs and rationalizations, you start sinking.

                  Keep in mind Jesus’ words: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

                  Note the order of things: he doesn’t say that first you need to figure out the truth, and when you have enough evidence you can cautiously begin to live it out. No, he says to first abide in His word, and out of this obedience and faithful discipleship the truth that sets us free becomes revealed to us.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “In some instances, we perceive today some things as intrinsically evil but in their context 3,000 years ago they weren’t always that bad.”

                  Now who is appealing to moral relativism? ;D Slavery is bad and unacceptable period.

                  “E.g. slavery: Abraham had slaves/servants. He was responsible for their protection and well being. The Torah has several precepts protecting the rights of slaves. In many ages and places slaves had better lives than “free” workers that worked 16 hours a day, say, during the industrial revolution, or even in Chinese factories today.”

                  Fair enough, but the issue I think is more about principle – attempting to make other human beings property subject to the good will of their “owners”.

                  “In my opinion, the really problematic moral issue of the OT is the command to exterminate the Canaanites and enemy nations. I grant that this seems pretty much inexcusable from our modern perspective. However, let’s keep in mind that these nations are described as thoroughly wicked, and judgment is often delayed until they have reached a “point of no return” in their wickedness (see Gen 15:16).”

                  Were the children of those peoples’ really responsible for the actions of their parents and forefathers?

                  “What kind of sign or experience were you hoping to get?”

                  Some sort of vivid and undeniable experience that God has supposedly visited upon other Christians throughout history and some within my own community. A flawless syllogism would have worked as well XD. Is it truly too much to ask?

                  “Keep in mind that the Gospels show us exactly this scenario. We see God incarnate appearing to people, demonstrating his power and truth, and in fact only a minority of people believe in Him.”

                  You and I have different standards of what counts as undeniable demonstrations of power and truth. If there have been these types of events and experiences, they surely have never been visited upon me.

                  I appreciate you sharing your spiritual journey with me as well. It is always quite interesting to see how people can go through many of the same things yet end up in very different places.

                  “there is simply no solution to guilt and death.”

                  What exactly do you mean by referencing guilt? As for death, is a final end to own’s consciousness really so bad?

                  “Keep in mind Jesus’ words: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)Note the order of things: he doesn’t say that first you need to figure out the truth, and when you have enough evidence you can cautiously begin to live it out. No, he says to first abide in His word, and out of this obedience and faithful discipleship the truth that sets us free becomes revealed to us.”

                  I think you have probably guessed what I am going to say – I more or less “did this” – and nothing. I was sinking to the bottom the entire time, all the way telling myself I was walking on water. Calls to blind obedience/faith simply are far too easy to abuse. I see no reason to take the leap of faith, nor any reason why I should wait my entire life hoping that somewhere in between “God” might decide to pop-in and prove/demonstrate/ to me he is there. I’m am truly glad it has worked for you – it just doesn’t work for me. Hope you understand.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes my comment about slavery probably didn’t come out the way I wanted, but let’s agree to disagree. I believe OT morality, though a vast improvement over the morality of surrounding cultures at the time, is still an imperfect concession that was appropriate for that age. It’s unrealistic to think that the Sermon on the Mount would have worked for the Israelites, who were steeped in a “slave mentality” and Egyptian idolatry.

                  I don’t deny that the extermination of Canaanite children is really problematic from our perspective, but this problem of suffering has not changed that much since then: why did God allow all those kids to die in the Oklahoma tornado, for example? It seems horrible and there are no words to explain it now, but again I’m confident that in light of eternity we will understand. It’s not a cop out, it just makes sense. Whether we spend 7 or 70 years here on earth, does it really make that much difference in light of eternity? it’s not how long but how well we live that matters.

                  As for hoping for “some vivid and undeniable” experience of God, I think it’s a very natural thing to ask, but perhaps actually yes, it might be “too much to ask”. If you would get some indisputable proof of his existence, you wouldn’t need any faith. I don’t deny that God does grant such experiences, but they come according to His timing, not ours. Sometimes they can come as an initial “nudge” to lead someone to faith, sometimes they don’t.

                  Without judging your motivations or experience, could the fact that you abandoned the faith say something about why you didn’t get any “sign”? From your perspective, you think: I didn’t get a sign, therefore I’m abandoning the faith; what if God said: “I know that he will abandon the faith, why should I give him a sign?” (I may be totally wrong on this, but it’s food for thought)

                  Guilt and death – well, are there not things you have done that you’re not proud of? We can try to sweep our sins under the carpet, but it’s still baggage we carry. And what if there is really a heaven and a hell? (not just a final annihilation of our soul)

                  If you say that you really tried to seek God, I am certainly not in a position to cast doubt on your efforts. By the way, were you a Catholic or a Protestant? (this may make a difference)

                  “I see no reason to take the leap of faith, nor any reason why I should wait my entire life hoping that somewhere in between “God” might decide to pop-in and prove/demonstrate/ to me he is there.”

                  You do realize that such an attitude is quite contrary to the attitude of faith that Jesus invites us to in the Gospels, don’t you?

                  To sum up, I hear where you’re coming from, and I don’t doubt the sincerity (and frustration) of your search. Something tells me that you will not find long term satisfaction in the atheism/agnosticism that you currently espouse. I have no doubt God heard all your prayers, and even though it seems like He didn’t answer them, maybe the timing just wasn’t right and He wants you to experience this current time, “away” from Him, to grant you the beauty and joy of a “Prodigal Son” experience.

                  Again, I really don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud (or rather in writing :)

                  I sincerely wish you well in your continued life and search, and I promise that I will pray for you.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Apologies for the long response time. Been working at least 9 hours everyday for the last three weeks XD. Then when I found saw your responses and try to reply, the page displayed strangely which prevented me from responding. Finally got it working today though haha. Hope you are doing well.

                  “Yes my comment about slavery probably didn’t come out the way I wanted, but let’s agree to disagree. I believe OT morality, though a vast improvement over the morality of surrounding cultures at the time, is still an imperfect concession that was appropriate for that age.”

                  I think we will have to indeed have to agree to disagree here. Under normal circumstances, the developing morality you describe would be fine. The problem arises because divine and supernatural influence is claimed. To me, God’s omnipotence, perfection, and resources ought to be able to overcome easily any human deficiency. It is ironic to me that you attempt to use human deficiency to justify God’s clear and apparent ambiguity in regards both to his existence and morality – isn’t one of the biggest things about Christianity that God can overcome any and all human deficiencies? If God can supposedly just more or less make Mary perfect and able to comprehend his morality, why can’t he do that for the rest of us when that clearly is the best option?

                  Even disregarding this, why not have the perfect morality written down just for the record even if the people at the time couldn’t understand? At least then at this point in history, we could examine the OT and stare in amazement at how OT morality was completely right – this would grant Christianity more legitimacy rather than one of its largest headaches that can only be dealt with by clinging to baseless faith. Furthermore, aren’t humans supposed to just obey God regardless of whether his commands make sense?

                  And even disregarding all of the above, it seems God is perfectly capable of creating beings with the capacity to more or less comprehend his existence and morality – i.e. supposedly angels. To me it seems as if God is either impotent, neglectful, or non-existent in regards to this matter.

                  “I don’t deny that the extermination of Canaanite children is really problematic from our perspective, but this problem of suffering has not changed that much since then: why did God allow all those kids to die in the Oklahoma tornado, for example?”

                  I never said anything about the problem of suffering changing much, the Oklahoma example you provided only strengthens my case by leaving you unable to sufficiently justify the damage caused by natural disasters that could be prevented by God without violating free will.

                  “It seems horrible and there are no words to explain it now, but again I’m confident that in light of eternity we will understand.”

                  Quite a stretch you are making. I don’t see a “seems horrible” – it is horrible. Worse, it is entirely unnecessary if a perfect and all-powerful God who wants the best for humanity does exist. I truly appreciate and respect your sincere conviction, but I’m sure you also understand that this particular line of subjective, baseless assertions doesn’t make anything easier or clearer for me. As you know, people have had extremely strong convictions about things across the spectrum of what they thought reality and morality were. If we are going to trust and rely on something, it is best to be able to sufficiently and validly gauge its veracity and reliability.

                  “It’s not a cop out, it just makes sense.”

                  Granted, it may not be a cop out, but neither does it in anyway make sense without the foundational assumption of faith. Sure, it works if you believe everything just works out because God is God. But, at least for me, that is quite problematic. I know that faith is faith and it is a defining characteristic of religion, but I hope you can see how it is hardly reliable.

                  “Whether we spend 7 or 70 years here on earth, does it really make that much difference in light of eternity? it’s not how long but how well we live that matters.”

                  I am interested to know why how well we live on earth matters at all in heaven beyond merely granting us access to paradise. In heaven, at least in my understanding of it, God supposedly finally completes our perfection, and there is no sin/pain/death/etc. (which seems false because of Satan). If heavenly is infinitely good and perfect and enjoyable, then it seems to utterly negate any meaningfulness our lives had on earth. What good are the virtues we struggled to acquire in a place where they are not needed because there is no temptation or evil? In essence I suppose, why have a life on earth at all? If heaven really is the goal, if God can apparently grace humans into automatic perfection in both heaven and earth, and if beings in heaven can have free will, what is the point of life on earth?

                  “As for hoping for “some vivid and undeniable” experience of God, I think it’s a very natural thing to ask, but perhaps actually yes, it might be “too much to ask”. If you would get some indisputable proof of his existence, you wouldn’t need any faith.”

                  You have yet to make an actual case for why faith is necessary at all – you have only claimed that it is. Why is undeniable proof “too much to ask”? Why do I need faith to have a relationship with God? Having knowledge or proof does not violate free will. Have knowledge or proof virtually guarantees the automatic goal God seeks with humanity – who wouldn’t want to be in a close relationship with an all perfect being who cares about us who is indisputably real? Rhetorical question. Yes, some might still reject God regardless, but at least God has now in all likeliness saved upwards of 90% of humanity rather than less than 50% if what is required for salvation is to accept Christ’s sacrifice.

                  Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I seem to recall you stating that the only thing required for salvation or the avoidance of damnation is the sincere search for God and commitment to good. If such is the case, then Christianity becomes unnecessary (arguably even negligible) and Christ’s sacrifice seems diminished as it is no longer necessary for salvation – I believe according to your position on salvation then Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t even necessary for those before Christ and those that never hear of him.

                  “I don’t deny that God does grant such experiences, but they come according to His timing, not ours”

                  And I daresay most of the time said experiences never come at all, thus all but ensuring the damnation of the many who find themselves because of circumstances and personal dispositions (which supposedly are the result of God’s design) unable to make the baseless leap of faith towards Christianity rather than the other thousand options available.

                  “Without judging your motivations or experience, could the fact that you abandoned the faith say something about why you didn’t get any “sign”?”

                  First, thank you very much for not judging my experience as insincere. Anything’s possible I suppose, but honestly I am a human being – I have my limitations and breaking points (which God supposedly knows all too well). Surely you can perhaps understand the struggle and absurdity to maintain belief in something that lacks sufficient and valid grounding within reality and which everything else screams doesn’t exist? It is the equivalent of continuing to actually believe in the existence of Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. I know you don’t see it that way, but that is how it “feels” or “seems” to me.

                  Isn’t an important theme in Christianity that God supposedly helps us when we need it and because we need it? Well, I certainly needed it, and “God” did not grant it to me – whether because of impotence, neglect, or non-existence I suppose I will never know. If I had been able to hold on any longer or had “God” graced me enough to hold on longer, I would have. But nothing. The rest you already know. I believe I have mentioned this (forgive me if I have not), but I did not cease being a Christian solely or even primarily because of its non-functioning in my life – I ceased being a Christian because I made a decision (during a time I had actually come back to Christianity after the struggle described) that as a honest and responsible person, I could no longer ignore or dismiss the contradictions, implications, and problems within Christianity. People have also sorts of experiences in life, by themselves they do not make convictions any more or less true. I simply cite my experience in order to counter the prevalent line of “argument” from Christians that God will somehow “magically” and profoundly reveal himself to all that just believe and give Christianity a try.

                  “Guilt and death – well, are there not things you have done that you’re not proud of?”

                  Of course there are, but why does that now require some sort of “solution”? And what do my mistakes have to do with death? You sound a bit like a couple of my professors with whom I have had similar conversations with. They both told me they more or less retain faith despite the problems because they couldn’t imagine a world that lacked an ultimate justice and/or restoration. The sentiment is nice, but that is all it is – sentimental appeal. It is what we want to be true, rather than what actually may or may not be true.

                  “We can try to sweep our sins under the carpet, but it’s still baggage we carry.”

                  Not sure what point you are attempting to make here – I understand the meaning but seem to have missed what part of my case it is attempting to address.

                  “And what if there is really a heaven and a hell? (not just a final annihilation of our soul)”

                  If there is, then I hope I will be judged on the sincerity of my life rather than what guess I happened to make or mistakes made from the limitations of my humanity. If there is, then I think I might just request for the final annihilation of my soul.

                  “If you say that you really tried to seek God, I am certainly not in a position to cast doubt on your efforts. By the way, were you a Catholic or a Protestant? (this may make a difference)”

                  Again, thank you. I was a non-denominational, evangelical, charismatic Christian. I am however generally familiar with Catholic theology and religious perspectives.

                  “”I see no reason to take the leap of faith, nor any reason why I should wait my entire life hoping that somewhere in between “God” might decide to pop-in and prove/demonstrate/ to me he is there.”

                  You do realize that such an attitude is quite contrary to the attitude of faith that Jesus invites us to in the Gospels, don’t you?”

                  Yes, I am painfully aware of the attitude of faith promoted in the gospels. I am also painfully aware of the dire straits an attitude of faith can lead people into – the Crusades, Inquisition, 9/11, the Holocaust, etc. That is the problem with faith, you might happen to get it right, but you also have a big chance of getting it horribly wrong – because there aren’t really any external standards to measure with many times you won’t even know if you are right or wrong.

                  The line you quote here refers to my current position, not the one I maintained while still a Christian. I repeat – I did my sincerest utmost to hold onto to faith and believe without seeing. If something or someone you trust and have given all of your being to betrays or disappears on you, how eager would you be to trust that something or someone again?

                  “Something tells me that you will not find long term satisfaction in the atheism/agnosticism that you currently espouse.”

                  What do you mean by “satisfaction”? In terms of legitimacy and functionality, I am satisfied enough with the intellectual foundation of my agnostic atheism to base my actions, words, and thoughts though certainly I am not satisfied enough to think I have come across ultimate truth and stop searching.

                  In terms of personal satisfaction, it really doesn’t matter how I feel about the reality described by agnostic/atheism – it’s veracity is neither enhanced nor diminished by how much I like it. I am primarily concerned with what is the case, not what I wish it to be. I wish there was indeed an all-powerful, omniscient God who actually cared about me and wanted a relationship with me. I wish there was indeed eternal bliss, peace, and rest. I still frequently listen to Christian music because the songs promote ideals and passion that I happen to enjoy and espouse. However, none of that makes Christianity anymore true than the Harry Potter series.

                  In all honesty, I am not personally satisfied with the worldview my agnostic/atheism leads me to – that doesn’t make it any more or less true. I’m not going to lie to myself just so that I can taste some happiness – nor do I think I’d be able to.

                  I never asked to be “put” on earth, but here I am. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. Doesn’t mean that atheism is any less true or false – it is the sufficient and valid evidence (as well as the lack thereof) of certain things that makes claims and convictions true or false (more accurate or less accurate). When lacking said sufficient and valid evidence, one must then suspend belief (agnostic in principle) which then requires a response in the negative (atheist in function).

                  “I have no doubt God heard all your prayers, and even though it seems like He didn’t answer them, maybe the timing just wasn’t right and He wants you to experience this current time, “away” from Him, to grant you the beauty and joy of a “Prodigal Son” experience.

                  Again, I really don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud (or rather in writing :)”

                  I appreciate the sentiment and honesty. Thank you.

                  “I sincerely wish you well in your continued life and search, and I promise that I will pray for you.”

                  I wish you the same, and thank you for the good will intended by your prayers.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Hey Cannon Fodder (interesting name), welcome back. Unfortunately I’ve become pretty busy in the last while so I won’t be able to respond very thoroughly. Just a few brief comments:

                  Clearly, we can all say “God could have…” or “God should have…” ad infinitum, but I don’t really see the purpose nor the benefit of this. If God is God, who are we to tell Him how He should have done things? We obviously lack the capacity to fully understand His purposes. It’s not that we can’t understand anything about Him, but that there is a good chance that our own way of rationalizing will fall short.

                  This said, I continue to maintain that wishing that God would have given the Sermon on the Mount or Catechism of the Catholic Church (a “perfect morality”) to a rag tag bunch of Israelite slaves steeped in idolatry who were fleeing Egypt in 1400 B.C. is not realistic. They would have been completely unable to comprehend such a standard of morality.

                  “I am interested to know why how well we live on earth matters at all in heaven beyond merely granting us access to paradise.”

                  On earth, basically, we learn to love God and our neighbor, and we learn to be holy. God could do this in an instant, perhaps, but since he usually does it within the limits of our own free will, this usually takes a while.

                  “What good are the virtues we struggled to acquire in a place where they are not needed because there is no temptation or evil?”

                  Virtues are not external attributes that are “tacked on” to our nature. They are simply the character and very person that we become here on earth. True, in heaven there will be no temptation, but more importantly, we will be joyful saints who have learned to love fully.

                  Faith is necessary because we are miserable without it. Sure, we can delude ourselves for a while, finding comfort in temporal goods, but in the end, since we will lose everything we have here, our heart longs for a love that is eternal.

                  “I seem to recall you stating that the only thing required for salvation or the avoidance of damnation is the sincere search for God and commitment to good. If such is the case, then Christianity becomes unnecessary (arguably even negligible) and Christ’s sacrifice seems diminished as it is no longer necessary for salvation – I believe according to your position on salvation then Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t even necessary for those before Christ and those that never hear of him.”

                  No that’s incorrect. Objectively, Christ is necessary for salvation. All those who are saved are saved through him. However, God who is infinitely just does understand that some people never had a real chance to accept the gospel; others, through not fault of their own, have a rather distorted view of it. So unbelievers are not automatically saved, but the Church does not exclude the possibility of their salvation.

                  “Surely you can perhaps understand the struggle and absurdity to maintain belief in something that lacks sufficient and valid grounding within reality and which everything else screams doesn’t exist?”

                  Actually I, like millions of others, find on the contrary that the world screams that God exists.

                  http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm

                  “God supposedly helps us when we need it and because we need it? Well, I certainly needed it, and “God” did not grant it to me – whether because of impotence, neglect, or non-existence I suppose I will never know.”

                  God certainly heard you, but He answers in His timing. Yes, it can be frustrating when He doesn’t give us the answer that we want when we want it. God did not stop loving you when you left him. But I get the impression that you had a bit of a temper tantrum with Him… The first quality necessary to see and know God is humility. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but turning your back on Him because He didn’t give you the answers you demanded does not seem like the optimal attitude to build a relationship with Him.

                  The fact that you were a non-denominational Christian to me is significant. I was one for about 7 years, at the end of which I came to the conclusion that this form of Christianity is fundamentally flawed, especially because of the absence of the sacraments. Years ago, when I returned to the Catholic Church, I wrote an article proposing that evangelical Christianity is inherently unstable and in the long run leads to either fundamentalism, unbelief, or Catholicism.

                  http://www.catholicsforisrael.com/en/articles/the-catholic-faith/43-the-tendencies-of-evangelicalism

                  I recommend that you leave some of the lives of the saints. For example, St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul” or Teresa of Avila’s Life. Your search seems like a very intellectual one, which is fine, but there is nothing like encountering the testimony of joy of those who lived out the closest of relationships with God.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  Please feel free to respond at your convenience – I completely understand that you are busy – I’d rather have fully thought out responses than brief comments constrained by time and fatigue. You’ll have to forgive me if point out things you weren’t able to cover or may have misread due to your time constraints – it is just so the points are not forgotten in the future.

                  I’m glad you find my name interesting haha – I think it suits me quite well.

                  “Clearly, we can all say “God could have…” or “God should have…” ad infinitum, but I don’t really see the purpose nor the benefit of this.”

                  Perhaps you are unable to see the point of this line of questioning my friend because you find yourself unable to possibly imagine a world in which Christianity is false in your wildest dreams. Perhaps you do not see the point because you like many Christians have unknowingly or knowingly accepted the notion that Christianity is correct regardless of any other evidence, logic, or science that says otherwise – a common thing that comes with faith. If this is the case, then I would caution you to reconsider this position – if one assumes the correct answer from the beginning, then any further analyzation and research becomes tainted with a serious bias.

                  That being said, the “point” behind this line of questioning is to demonstrate the shaky foundation upon which religion is inherently founded upon – faith. Too many people take this fact for granted – that the primary foundation of Christianity at its core is nothing but an unverifiable, unfalsifiable assumption/claim that can be used to justify anything and everything. Most people don’t accept such a dangerously low criteria for many of their other important beliefs, yet here for some reason with religion they are willing to lower the bar.

                  The “point” behind this line of questioning is to strip away all of the tenuous explanations Christians attempt to reconcile a broken world with the existence of a perfect God, and force them to concede that the only thing that actually “works” is a baseless assertion of faith – “it just works out because God is God” – which is where you seem to have found yourself my friend. While I certainly respectyour steadfast convictions, surely you realize how poor and abusable this line of argumentation is. If I took a similar style of position as the one you used here, this discussion would be nothing more than meaningless yea-huh’s and nuh-uh’s.

                  “If God is God, who are we to tell Him how He should have done things? We obviously lack the capacity to fully understand His purposes. It’s not that we can’t understand anything about Him, but that there is a good chance that our own way of rationalizing will fall short.”

                  That is a very big “if” my friend. If God is truly God and largely beyond our understanding, then you’ll have to forgive me for not accepting Christianity based on the evidence and lack thereof available. If God truly is God, then for all practical means God is absurd – demonstrated by Christians being forced to justify the problem of evil with baseless faith assertions. If God is truly God, then anything and everything can now be justified – as God is eternal and infinite, people can now distort anything to be permissible with impunity. You still have yet to actually demonstrate and explain why faith is necessary.

                  “This said, I continue to maintain that wishing that God would have given the Sermon on the Mount or Catechism of the Catholic Church (a “perfect morality”) to a rag tag bunch of Israelite slaves steeped in idolatry who were fleeing Egypt in 1400 B.C. is not realistic. They would have been completely unable to comprehend such a standard of morality.”

                  And I continue to maintain that if God is God, then said human deficiencies should pose negligible or non-existent barriers towards a largely if not completely perfect world. As I have said, a common theme in Christianity is that God is indeed able to overcome any and all deficiencies and obstacles, yet when a crucial part of the Christian worldview hangs in the balance God suddenly becomes impotent or unwilling? That seems to be quite convenient. Furthermore, you have yet to answer either of my other objections that it would have been better to have the perfect morality at least for the record and that wouldn’t the Israelites be expected to simply obey God’d commands whether they understood them or not, like Abraham for example?

                  “On earth, basically, we learn to love God and our neighbor, and we learn to be holy. God could do this in an instant, perhaps, but since he usually does it within the limits of our own free will, this usually takes a while.”

                  Again, why can’t a similar situation take place in heaven if that is the ideal and ultimate goal? So God does make people instantly holy – i.e. Mary – yet for the majority of humanity he does things the hard way? If the two most ideal figures in Catholicism – Jesus and Mary – were more or less made instantly perfect, then it begs the question “why shouldn’t the rest of us be graced with the same ideal?” Furthermore, having knowledge in no way violates free will so I fail to see what “limits of free will” you are referring to here. If what God requires is my explicit consent to make me instantly perfect, then he’s had it for years.

                  “Virtues are not external attributes that are “tacked on” to our nature. They are simply the character and very person that we become here on earth. True, in heaven there will be no temptation, but more importantly, we will be joyful saints who have learned to love fully.”

                  I don’t believe I ever said they were tacked on – they are however acquired characteristics. The point being, what use is forgiveness in a place without offence, what use is hope in a place without despair, what use is strength of character in a place without temptation or suffering, etc. The question remains “why bother with life on earth”? Loving fully is all good and well, but as supposedly evidenced by God himself, love does not require temptation to do wrong – again, why is life on earth necessary to cultivate love?

                  “Faith is necessary because we are miserable without it. Sure, we can delude ourselves for a while, finding comfort in temporal goods, but in the end, since we will lose everything we have here, our heart longs for a love that is eternal.”

                  This argument requires a lot more explanation – what does being miserable or happy have to do with why faith is necessary for a relationship with God? I myself would be quite happy knowing God undeniably exists rather than playing this never-ending hide-and-go-seek game. Furthermore, what does it matter what our hearts long for in regards to truth? Again, just because we want something to be true or believe something to be true, doesn’t make it so. I think I would argue that is precisely because we lose things that those things have value. Good things have value precisely because they are scarce or limited. Gold only has value because people value it and it is not an unlimited good. Life becomes all the more precious, if we wish it to be, because it is so short and limited. Deluding ourselves in finding temporal comforts? Please explain with examples.

                  “No that’s incorrect. Objectively, Christ is necessary for salvation. All those who are saved are saved through him. However, God who is infinitely just does understand that some people never had a real chance to accept the gospel; others, through not fault of their own, have a rather distorted view of it. So unbelievers are not automatically saved, but the Church does not exclude the possibility of their salvation.”

                  I never said unbelievers were automatically saved; I used the qualifier of those that sincerely search for God and the good. You seem to be sending contradictory messages – is Christ necessary for salvation or not? This – “Objectively, Christ is necessary for salvation. All those who are saved are saved through him” – clearly contradicts this – “So unbelievers are not automatically saved, but the Church does not exclude the possibility of their salvation”. If Christ is absolutely necessary, then God has seemingly become patently unjust. If Christ is not absolutely necessary, then his sacrifice is not necessary. So which is it for you? Christianity cannot have its cake and eat it too on issue.

                  “Actually I, like millions of others, find on the contrary that the world screams that God exists.”

                  You misunderstand my words – I am well aware that a majority of the world holds the conviction that some god or gods exist. What I was asking was if you could relate to how Christianity seemed to me, though obviously concerning a different subject. I will however examine the various arguments provided by the link.

                  “God certainly heard you, but He answers in His timing. Yes, it can be frustrating when He doesn’t give us the answer that we want when we want it. God did not stop loving you when you left him.”

                  Opinions my friend.

                  “But I get the impression that you had a bit of a temper tantrum with Him…”

                  Haha, well I won’t deny that there was indeed a period of great anger and bitterness, but as I have also said none of it was directly related to my final decision to leave Christianity.

                  “The first quality necessary to see and know God is humility.”

                  I think I have done my best to be humble. I recognize all too well my own limitations as well as the limitations of humanity in general. However, this leads me to be more wary of the various claims of truth made, rather than more inclined to blindly believe.

                  “Forgive me if I’m wrong, but turning your back on Him because He didn’t give you the answers you demanded does not seem like the optimal attitude to build a relationship with Him.”

                  Humans have limits, I reached mine. Indeed, it seems “God” turned his back on me rather than other way around. Make all of the baseless assertions that he was and still is right next to me, but the fact remains that “his presence” was and is invisible and un-interactable, rendering it negligible for all intents and purposes – what good is an invisible, un-interactable, and silent God? Furthermore, you have yet to adequately answer why the answers shouldn’t already be given in the first place.

                  “The fact that you were a non-denominational Christian to me is significant. I was one for about 7 years, at the end of which I came to the conclusion that this form of Christianity is fundamentally flawed, especially because of the absence of the sacraments. Years ago, when I returned to the Catholic Church, I wrote an article proposing that evangelical Christianity is inherently unstable and in the long run leads to either fundamentalism, unbelief, or Catholicism.”

                  Interesting point, but irrelevant until the doctrinal issues that create problematic contradictions and implications for both types of Christianity are resolved. Your thesis is interesting however, and I will read over your article.

                  “Your search seems like a very intellectual one, which is fine, but there is nothing like encountering the testimony of joy of those who lived out the closest of relationships with God.”

                  Second-hand experience is a poor substitute for first-hand experience. Experience and emotions alone are poor indicators and evaluators of the truth. Nonetheless I will examine your suggested readings if I can find the time.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “Perhaps you are unable to see the point of this line of questioning my friend because you find yourself unable to possibly imagine a world in which Christianity is false in your wildest dreams…”

                  Actually that’s not true. I used to be an agnostic and I thoroughly questioned Christianity generally, and then Catholicism specifically, before I accepted them. My conversion process was a combination of personal experience and logical deduction and reason. I really think Christianity is not “shaky” at all. It makes much more sense – and offers much more hope and joy by far – than any other world view out there. What is logical about the universe randomly coming into existence billions of years ago because of a massive explosion that was caused by… nothing?

                  You have written many other things but basically I have said what I had to say. I’m sorry I really don’t have more time to dedicate to this conversation… also because I think there is not much more that I could say that hasn’t been said or written much more eloquently by others. If you would like more references I would be more than happy to provide some.

                  In conclusion, I can only say that Christianity works. Jesus is alive. Yes, He does provide the intellectual answers that we long for, but the order in which you approach them is flawed. He will not give you all the rational answers in a neat, ordered, rational manner, and then add on some supernatural experience so that you are able to believe in Him. That’s just not the way it works. The way to know the Lord and His peace is to repent from our sins, be baptized, follow His commandments, receive Him in the sacraments, and then once we become His disciples “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31-32) and you will experience the peace that you long for.

                  I do sincerely wish you the best and assure you of my prayers!

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “Actually that’s not true. I used to be an agnostic and I thoroughly questioned Christianity generally, and then Catholicism specifically, before I accepted them.”

                  That is why I used the qualifier “perhaps”. XD.

                  “I really think Christianity is not “shaky” at all.”

                  But of course, that is why you are a Christian. I do not doubt the sincerity of your convictions, but having been an agnostic I’m sure you at least somewhat understand how it looks to me.

                  “It makes much more sense – and offers much more hope and joy by far – than any other world view out there.”

                  Perhaps. You know all too well at this point the various ways in which Christianity makes absolutely no sense to me. As for joy and hope, these are not indicators of truth – hate to beat a dead horse, but wishing things were true doesn’t make them true.

                  “I do sincerely wish you the best and assure you of my prayers!”

                  I wish you the same and thank you for your good will. I have truly enjoyed this conversation. All the best my friend.

          • Ders

            Nobody ever chose to go to hell. God is all powerful and has the ability to make whatever rules he chooses. He chose that people needed to love him otherwise they burn in eternity. Nobody has ever chosen to burn in hell. Ever.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              Again: God is the author and source of all life, truth and goodness. Hell is the absence of all life, truth, and goodness – in other words, the absence of God.

              Those who genuinely seek life, truth and goodness, whether they know it or not, are actually seeking God (to come back to the article on the pope’s statement that initiated all these discussions). Those who consistently and persistently reject life, truth, goodness are also rejecting God.

              Since we are free to reject God, there is a “state” in the afterlife where the rejection of life, truth and goodness becomes “solidified” forever, so to speak. Those who rage against God and persistently reject His offer of reconciliation and peace will remain with this raging hatred of God forever. We could say that God’s love for them will continue forever, even in “hell” – but they will have made this irrevocable choice of rejecting God’s mercy forever.

              This is why Pope Francis’ exhortation to “do good” is really another way of inviting people to draw closer to God, who is the author of all goodness.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Your god created people completely incapable of not sinning. He *knew* what was going to happen, and he condemned us anyway.

            In any form of justice, that renders us completely unaccountable for what we do. We’re unable to adhere to the requirements in any way, shape or form because of how we were born.

            And, no. “God is different and mysterious” doesn’t explain this.

            Further, you assume that what you consider evil is the irrefutable standard, that everyones’ conscious agrees with you and that if people do things that you don’t like, they’re going against that and god. You have no grounds to make these calls. Once again, you’re projecting yourself as god.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              False again. Yes, we do have a tendency to sin, but God has also provided the solution to our sin problem. First by granting us forgiveness for our sins in Christ, and then by giving us the power to overcome sin by remaining and growing in communion with Him. This is what the sacraments do: they feed our soul and communicate to us the presence of the Holy Spirit, or God’s grace, which transforms us from sinners to saints. Of course, all this is dependent upon our free collaboration with God’s grace. It’s not magic.

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

            “People who go to hell choose it for themselves”

            Bollocks.

            That’s like saying a battered woman “chose it for herself”.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              Not at all. A battered women is (usually) the innocent victim of an act of violence against her. Those who go to hell walk by countless signs and warnings along the roadside of their conscience: “wrong way”, “dangerous route”, “dead end ahead”, and they still persistently and stubbornly choose to continue going that way.

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

                Fuck. You.

                Your “God” is nothing more than an abuser, keeping his victims in line with threats and then saying, “why do you keep making me hit you?”

                http://atheism.about.com/od/whatisgod/p/AbuserAbusive.htm

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

                From the article…

                * Abused spouses avoid topics which set off the abuser; believers avoid thinking about certain things to avoid angering God.

                * Abusers make one feel like there is no way to escape a relationship; believers are told that there is no way to escape God’s wrath and eventual punishment.

                * God is portrayed as using violence to force people to comply with certain rules and Hell is the ultimate threat of violence. God might even punish an entire nation for the transgressions of a few members.

                * God is also depicted as exercising control over people by controlling their resources — if people are insufficiently obedient, for example, God may cause crops to fail or water to turn bad. The basic necessities of living are conditioned on obeying God.

                * Believers are taught that they are depraved sinners, unable to do anything right and unable to have good, decent, or moral lives independent of God. Everything good that a believer achieves is due to God, not their own efforts.

                * Victims are typically made to feel responsible for all of an abuser’s actions, not just deserving of the punishments inflicted. Thus victims are told that it’s their fault when an abuser gets angry, feels suicidal, or indeed when anything at all goes wrong. Humanity is also blamed for everything that goes wrong — although God created humanity and can stop any unwanted actions, all responsibility for all evil in the world is laid entirely at the feet of human beings.

                Your “god” is an abuser, flat out.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your laughable caricatures have nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian God. It’s too bad you understand nothing about the fact that God is love.

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

                  Yeah, my abuser claimed he loved me, too.

                  If that’s “love”, I don’t want it.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you have been abused, you don’t know what love is. You are projecting your experience of abuse back onto God. However, God is nothing like you think. I wouldn’t approach a divinity like you describe it with a 1,000 foot pole either.

                  EDIT: I communicated very poorly what I wanted to say yesterday. My apologies. Please disregard the words above. This is what I wanted to say:

                  I am sorry that you have been abused. This is awful and can in no way be justified on the part of whoever committed this abuse. Do know that your human dignity and worth in the eyes of God are intact. He loves you no less – a love that is unconditional, non controlling, non abusive, and a love that would fully support you in being and becoming the beautiful woman that He has created you to be.

                  This said, the analogy you have made above, projecting your experience of abuse back onto God and comparing Him to an abusive spouse is entirely false and inappropriate. I fully join you in rejecting the “abusive divinity” you have described above. This monstrous deity has nothing to do with the Judeo-Christian God.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Ok, bull-fucking-shit. I’ve never been abused, but I’ve met people who’ve escaped. They know perfectly well what love is, and more importantly, what love isn’t. That is a degrading, dehumanizing thing to say about anyone, let alone people who’ve lived through a Hell you clearly can’t imagine and then walked out again.

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

                  THANK YOU!

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Listen Feminerd, I wasn’t talking to you. I apologize if my comment lacks sensitivity, but try to understand that it does get tiresome and annoying to read for two full days uninterrupted lies and nonsense about Christianity, completely imaginary portrayals of the Christian God as a bloodthirsty monster, and then repeated expressions of hatred against Him on the basis of these nonsensical misrepresentations. The most patient person in the world would eventually get annoyed at this. If wmdkitty wants respectful and kind replies, she might want to think twice about her crude and vulgar insults (in several posts) and about her downright idiotic comparison above. Respect is a two way street.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No, you weren’t talking to me. Why does that matter? You said something beyond awful- what am I supposed to do, stand by and let you get away with it? How is that ethical?

                  Look, we’ve been having something of a good conversation. I know I’ve gotten annoyed with you more than a few times, and I’m sure you’ve gotten annoyed with me a few times, but it’s been a good back-and-forth. However, something that’s shown through very clearly is your utter cluelessness about privilege and women’s issues. You don’t get to take offense at someone’s tone and turn around to tell them that they are sub-human (your implicit argument was that love is an innate part of humanity, so if someone can’t recognize love, they’re not truly human) for having been a victim. You just don’t. I do not understand why you would ever think that was an acceptable thing to say to anyone, ever. No one said you had to be respectful to wmdkitty or even polite to her. That’s doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to call her broken or less-than-human.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Ok, I was very tired last night. wmdkitty’s nasty, unwarranted insults definitely got the better of me and I was careless in my replies. You have read into my post something that I had no intention of implying at all (less-than-human, etc..), but I will go back and edit my reply to better communicate what I wanted to say..

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Your rewording does much more clearly convey your idea, and the apology was well-worded. It’s hard to back down at all on the Internet, so thanks for that.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  No problem.

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

                  Respect is earned, and you have not earned it.

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

                  Spoken like a brainwashed asshole who thinks “love” means making threats and thoroughly controlling someone else’s life.

                  STFU, jackass — you wouldn’t know real love if it came up, introduced itself, and whacked you with a clue-by-four.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “God is Love”: Pope Benedict XVI on the nature of God’s love, eros, agape, and more http://goo.gl/tRpv

          • Cannon Fodder

            Himmler of the Gestappo wasn’t stubbornly violating his conscinence nor rejecting the truth given to him – according to his personal trainer Himmler underwent severe bouts of guilt about not killing Jews when the trainer managed to convince him to spare some Jews. Rarely does anyone ever think they are doing wrong.

            In any event, what crimes could possibly justify eternal and unimaginable torment meant as punishment rather than restoration? Is this not fundamentally contradictory towards God’s supposed nature of mercy and justice? Surely God can simply punish the person for his/her crimes and then remove his/her soul from existence?

            I’m glad though that you realize that it is our actions and intentions within life that ought to matter, not what guess we happened to make because of our experiences, personality, and limited knowledge.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              Himmler wasn’t violating his conscience? Seriously? You seem to be presupposing the morally bankrupt doctrine of moral relativism. True, “rarely does anyone ever think they are doing wrong” (I discovered this when I was doing prison ministry and very few of the inmates were willing to admit that they deserved to be in jail). But does this invalidate the fact that there are universal moral laws that ought to be observed for the good of mankind (do not murder, do not steal, do not lie, do not commit adultery, etc…)?

              Following your conscience does not mean doing whatever you feel is ok. Any habit, whether good or bad, becomes a type of second nature once it has been repeated enough times. I am sure that Himmler trampled his conscience enough that he eventually felt no remorse at all about killing Jews.

              And to lead into your second question, this is precisely the nature of hell: once someone has trampled his conscience enough so that goodness, love and truth have been all but stamped out, once he has become so ingrained in selfishness, pride, and hatred that repentance becomes nearly impossible, he has already invited hell into his soul, so to speak. The state of hell after death is merely the perpetual continuation of the state in which the evil person has freely chosen to become.

              • Cannon Fodder

                You misconstrue my words my friend. Nowhere have I ever stated that because Himmler believed his morality was correct that was somehow indeed correct due to moral relavitism. What I stated was simple, Himmler really believed he himself was doing the right thing and it pained his “conscience” when he spared Jews – this suggests that the divine “moral hardwiring” you seem to believe in either doesn’t exist or is negligible, not that there are no universal morals that ought to be observed for the good of all. I will grant though that all human life seems to be “hard-wired” to seek health, happiness, and a thriving community.

                “Following your conscience does not mean doing whatever you feel is ok. Any habit, whether good or bad, becomes a type of second nature once it has been repeated enough times.”

                I’m quite unsure what this particular statement is supposed to address. Of course following one’s conscience does not mean acting on whim – I’ve never stated anything to the contrary.

                “I am sure that Himmler trampled his conscience enough that he eventually felt no remorse at all about killing Jews.”

                Speculation at best. Some people just seem to be unable to recognize universal moral “laws” due to personality, upbringing, or mental affliction.

                So to you hell is some sort of non-existence?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  No, our souls are immortal, so hell is the definitive and permanent rejection of God’s truth, goodness and love, a “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed” (CCC 1033)
                  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a12.htm#IV

                  I really don’t think that when Himmler was 5 or 7 years old he was “wired” to kill Jews. I have never studied his childhood and life in detail, but I am pretty sure that he began with the child-like innocence and innate sense of the good that all children have, perhaps this sense of goodness was wounded early on by abuse from others, eventually he allowed sin in his life and left it unchecked until it became hatred and untrammeled murderous evil. After having trampled his conscience to death, he may have said that it “pained his conscience” to spare Jews, but this is obviously a monstrous distortion of the meaning of conscience.

                • Cannon Fodder

                  “No, our souls are immortal, so hell is the definitive and

                  permanent rejection of God’s truth, goodness and love, a “state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed””

                  Again, what could possibly merit such eternal and unimaginable torment? Why not simply mete out the appropriate punishment for crimes made and then remove offending souls from existence (kill the souls)?

                  “I really don’t think that when Himmler was 5 or 7 years old he was “wired” to kill Jews.”

                  I’ve heard of multiple stories of children 5 to 7 years old killing other people, sometimes their own siblings, so I wouldn’t be horribly surprised if Himmler was somewhat similar. I didn’t mean to say that Himmler was “wired” to kill Jews, but rather that it seems that his personal disposition seemed to lead him to where he went.

                  “After having trampled his conscience to death, he may have said that it “pained his conscience” to spare Jews, but this is obviously a monstrous distortion of the meaning of conscience.”

                  Agreed. I however was referring here to a more general definition of conscience – one’s “sense” of right and wrong – but that of course is besides the point. :)

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  We might have to disagree on that one. It seems to me pretty common sense that children have a certain innocence and purity, but soon enough we see other, negative forces at work in the human soul (i.e. original sin + external negative influences).

      • Charles Honeycutt

        Yes, we all here are well aware that the RCC has spent many centuries crafting sophistries to cover for the holes in religion, thanks. You aren’t going to win points by citing qualifiers to magic spells as argumentation.

      • BrandonUB

        Perfect! It’s not my fault that I’m simply built in such a fashion that I’m incapable of accepting claims without evidence, so I should be good to go.

        • Andre Villeneuve

          Nice try :) God sees your heart and knows whether you are honest or dishonest in your search for truth. Remember that pride and presumption are some of the greatest obstacles to encountering God. Do you think He is less interested in your salvation than anyone else’s?

          • allein

            I like how you talk about pride and presumption while making definitive claims about something no one on this Earth could possibly know.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              You make a valid point, and I understand how my position can be perceived as presumptuous. However, I think there is a difference. If I said “I know for sure my wallet is in the house” and you said “I know for sure your wallet is NOT in the house.” For you to be able to affirm with absolute confidence that the wallet is not in the house, you would have to meticulously search every corner of the entire house and not find the wallet anywhere. I, on the other hand, if I remembered seeing the wallet on top of the fridge, would not have to search the whole house. I could make a confident claim that the wallet is in the house. It’s much easier to affirm with confidence the existence of something than its non-existence.

              Of course the analogy limps because with God we are talking about a spiritual being who cannot be seen. But do you see the parallel? One who has had his life transformed by a real experience of God can make a reasonably confident claim about God’s presence in his/her life. However, the atheist is on much shakier ground because for him/her to make a confident claim about God’s non-existence – he/she would have to search the entire universe, so to speak, to arrive at a confident conclusion that God does not exist. This is why it seems to me that calling oneself agnostic is much more realistic and humble than declaring oneself atheist – because the atheist who is convinced of the non-existence of God would have to have searched the entire universe and not found him. But since our human means of searching for the transcendent are extremely limited, it is rather presumptuous to claim with confidence that God does not exist.

              • allein

                I know of very few atheists who “make a confident claim about God’s non-existence.” Most of us simply say we see no evidence of gods and live our lives accordingly. (At least that’s my position, and probably most of the regular commenters on this blog as well.)
                .
                I’m agnostic says “I don’t know” (or “I can’t know,” depending on how technical you want to get with definitions). I’m atheist says “I don’t believe”; it says nothing about what we know to be empirically true. I am both agnostic and atheist. The difference in your wallet analogy is that it doesn’t require any extraordinary evidence for me to believe that you do, in fact, own a wallet. You can tell me what it looks like, and if it were important enough for me to find it, I could and would search the entire house. A “spiritual being” that no one can see, for which the only “evidence” you have is in your own mind, isn’t anywhere near in the same category. Even if I could search the entire universe, what exactly would I be looking for?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  The fact that you can’t see God does not mean that you can’t find Him. Every person has a certain longing for truth, goodness and beauty, for justice and love. This is a longing for God. We search for meaning and for happiness. God is the one who can fulfill these desires. You can always pray the skeptic’s prayer: “God, if you exist, please help me to discover you” or something like that. God will reveal Himself to anyone who genuinely seeks Him.

                  Jesus said: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” So one way of discovering who God is is to get acquainted with who Jesus is. (Joh 14:9)

                • Theory_of_I

                  To rephrase comments you made upthread for purposes of evidentiary accuracy:

                  >>All religions represent man’s attempt to interface with his illimited imagination.

                  Christianity tells the imaginary story of a god who came to man.

                  Religions are chiefly about imagining a certain philosophy or code of conduct to please an imagined divinity and find some form of “redemption” from the sufferings of this world.

                  While not excluding the above, Christianity is chiefly about imagining a living relationship with one’s own imaginaary concept of the One who loves us more than anything. It is a delusion tribally formalized into a religion.<<
                  .
                  .

                  You are a prime example of a thoroughly inculcated member of the tribe.
                  beginning with your initial indoctrination (probably at a very early age), and subsequently reinforced through continual and unrelenting repetition and the power of suggestion imposed upon you by well meaning but deluded parents, friends and clergy, all members of the tribe, you have engaged in a dialog with your own imagination, the parameters of which have been pre-established by those who seek to control what you think.

                  You won't spend a moment contemplating the validity of my comments because you have promised yourself you will never violate the compact you have made with your imaginary divine companion, and that's ok. Just stop proselytizing. No one here is interested in converting from healthy skepticism to mindless gullibility.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  One day, when you will be be confronted with God, all your imaginary speculations will collapse like a deck of cards and you will know that you were wrong.

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

                  One day, your heart will be weighed against the Feather of Maat, and all your imaginary speculations will collapse like a deck of cards and you will know you were wrong.

                • Theory_of_I

                  As I said above, not a moment of contemplation, just mindless regurgitation. You seem quite intelligent, but the tribe has stolen your capacity to think independently. Sad.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I have debated people like you for two days now and I am getting tired. Without knowing a single thing about me, you have decided that you know it all. Fine. Keep on playing God. I prefer to invest my energy with people who are interested in real dialogue.

                • Theory_of_I

                  >>I prefer to invest my energy with people who are interested in real dialogue.<<

                  What? You think regurgitating the same old, tired and worn out platitudes are *real dialog*? If you disagree with my assessment of your tribal conditioning, you are encouraged to refute it, but your butt-hurt dismissal only tells me of your lack of substantive refutation.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you are really interested in my views, you are more than welcome to read the dozens of other posts that I have written on this page. As a former agnostic, I have studied the topic of faith and reason for decades, and I think I have thought through every single point that you mention. I have nothing to prove to you. For future reference, next time if you want to engage in serious discussion, you might want to rethink your approach of pretending to know everything about a person you have never met. Such arrogance does not exactly predispose someone for conversation.

                  You can go on pretending to be God, hopelessly locked in your proud, closed world that shuts off any possible opening for the transcendent. You are missing out on a vast, rich and beautiful spiritual realm that your haughty mind is unable to comprehend. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

                • Theory_of_I

                  Ah. the typical retort of the holier-than-thou, self-righteous prick…always good for a chuckle.

                  You claim to be a professor of Catholic theology. Isn’t that tantamount to taking pride in acting as consigliere to the largest crime family the world has ever known?

                  I’ve read your posts, and in total, you have not produced one single original thought. For all your babbling, you could be replaced by a cheap voice recorder. Actually, the recorder would be preferable…it could be shut off, erased and made useful as you obviously cannot.

                • Theory_of_I

                  Ah, the typical retort of a holier-than-thou, self-righteous prick…always good for a chuckle.

                  You have rather proudly claimed to be a Catholic profesor of theology. Isn’t that tantamount to taking pride in acting as a consigliere to the largest crime family the world has ever known?

                  I’ve read your posts, and in total, you have not produced so much as a single original thought. You just barf up the same superstitious nonsense over and over. For all your blather, you could be replaced by a cheap voice recorder loaded with lie for Jesus slogans. In fact, the recorder would be far preferable…it can be shut off, or erased and restored to usefulness, as you most obviously cannot.

              • SeekerLancer

                You’re right there is a difference. Most of us affirm nothing and presume nothing. Our stance is that we do not believe in a god without being provided evidence. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive stances. One can not believe in a god and not be absolutely certain one doesn’t exist in the same way a theist can believe in a god but not be certain one does exist.

                Are there hard atheists with the arrogant position that god does not exist and there is no way they will be convinced otherwise? Yes, but you’ll find that most are healthy skeptics open to hearing new arguments. There just haven’t been any new arguments. The best possible argument for the existence of god is what you already said, a person’s personal experience with god. However, that experience cannot be shared with other people or be confirmed as real so as evidence to convince someone it’s useless. I hold no ill will towards anyone who claims to have had a personal connection to god nor do I even think they’re always lying about what they believe they’ve felt or experienced. It just fails to prove anything to me.

                Ultimately the burden is not on me to prove your god doesn’t exist. I can’t prove he doesn’t exist any more that I can’t prove leprechauns don’t exist and surely you realize how ludicrous it would be for me to ask you for proof of leprechauns and if you can’t provide them then they must exist.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I would like you to be right when you say that “most [atheists] are healthy skeptics open to hearing new arguments” – but unfortunately this is not what I have observed here on this forum.

                  If you have ever read the Song of Songs, it’s a love story in the Bible (one of the only books in the Bible that doesn’t mention God at all). The romance between lover and beloved has been read by Jews and Christians to be an allegory of the love between God and His people. Like in the Song of Songs, God’s relationship with us is a romance and adventure with a lot of tension, including seeking the beloved who is gone, who hides, and who lets Himself be found. Yes, God is very much hidden (especially to the proud), but He lets Himself be discovered by the humble.

            • Emmet

              Claims like, “There is no God”? Cuts both ways.

              • allein

                Which is not a claim I have made.

                • Emmet

                  No, but others have – my comment was directed at a general audience – I could have been clearer.

          • Baby_Raptor

            If god gave a damn about anyone’s salvation, he wouldn’t be hiding in heaven relying on a Bronze Age book and “sinners” to spread his message. He would make himself openly known. He would provide actual proof of his existence. He would make an effort to actively stop things that prevent people from wanting to find him.

            In short, he would actually be there.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              He’s not “hiding in heaven”. He can be found if you seek Him. If you don’t know Him, it’s not for want of syllogisms. It’s because your heart is not in the right place. You can’t completely misrepresent God (as in your other post), then point your finger at Him and arrogantly blame Him for not being there. Only the humble find Him.

              • allein

                How can anyone “misrepresent God” when no one seems to be able to agree on what characteristics God has in the first place?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes, there are many conceptions of God of course. The problem is, more precisely, misrepresenting the God of Christianity. If you’re going to discuss Christianity, whose God is understood by all Christian sources, catechisms and saints as a loving, merciful and good God, it’s hardly honest to describe him as a “divine tyrant who sets standards that no one can attain and then cruelly tortures them for eternity”. This is what a lot of people are doing on this forum.

                • Hat Stealer

                  And how do you correctly interpret the God of Christianity?

                  Look at the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis, where it talks about how God made the world in 6 days. Some people take that literally, some don’t. How do you know which one is true, based solely on the Bible?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  There is no official Catholic position on the six days of creation. People are free to take a more literal or more symbolic interpretation of this text. Salvation does not hinge upon one’s view of Genesis 1.

                • allein

                  “Christianity” is a rather broad category and they do not all agree on what it is that God wants or expects of us, or how we are supposed to find out, or what happens if (when) we fall short.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  This is true. I am speaking here more specifically of Catholicism, but there is broad agreement in all Christian groups about the general nature of God as revealed in Scripture.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  whose God is understood by all Christian sources, catechisms and saints as a loving, merciful and good God

                  You know the saying “Actions speak louder than words”?

                  Of course god is called loving. But it only works if one, like you, insists that atheists and members of other religions actually can “feel” your god, and ignore whenever they say they don’t. Otherwise, you are basically stuck with the fact that god created humans, gave them one book among millions in which to belief, even though it’s contradictory. The only way to figure out which of these books is right is a feeling, that the majority of people doesn’t have. (Otherwise, they would not willfully go against it!) And then he punishes those who guess wrong.
                  You know what the moment of my deconversion was? When I realized that for all the talk about love, your god is much less loving than my human parents.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “your god is much less loving than my human parents”. This is incorrect. If your human parents are loving, then God is infinitely more loving. Whatever impression you may have of God being “less loving” is wrong. When you genuinely seek truth and goodness you are seeking God. He will not punish anyone for “picking the wrong book” because they didn’t know better.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  then God is infinitely more loving.
                  On what do you base this?
                  My parents made it abundantly clear that nothing I could ever do would be so bad that they would stop loving me.
                  On the other hand, your god insists on people denying earthly love if the person they are in love with happens to be of the same sex/gender. Otherwise, they are tortured for eternity.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  God is the author and source of all love, so any genuine love that you experience here on earth is but a pale reflection of His eternal and infinite love. And so it’s also the case that there is nothing you could ever do that would be so bad that God would stop loving you.

                  God does not deny any genuine earthly love. Love between two persons of the same gender is legitimate, only it is supposed to be phileo love, not eros love. True love does not seek self-satisfaction but wants the best for the beloved. Sexual acts between two persons of the same sex is disordered love. There may be an element of true affection, caring, and love in some sense between them, but it is not meant to be sexual.

                  And they are not necessarily “tortured for eternity”. We are all sinners and Christ came to love and save sinners.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  And so it’s also the case that there is nothing you could ever do that would be so bad that God would stop loving you.

                  And they are not necessarily “tortured for eternity”. We are all sinners and Christ came to love and save sinners.

                  Really? He doesn’t stop loving people, yet can still consider torturing them for eternity, just not necessarily? Your and mine definition of love seems very, very different.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Gosh, how many times must I repeat myself? Or perhaps it was another thread. It is not God’s will that anyone be lost. He doesn’t “torture” anyone. People who go to hell choose it. They proudly and stubbornly reject truth and goodness throughout their lives and refuse to repent. They run away from the One who is the source of all truth, goodness and life, and then you still expect them to get eternal life after death? Where is the logic? Hell is only the consequence of free choice, the possibility of rejecting God forever. (which, as I have said many times before, does not necessarily imply that all atheists are going to hell, because any genuine search for truth and goodness is in fact a search for God).

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

                  Your so-called god is an ABUSER of the highest order.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  Love between two persons of the same gender is legitimate, only it is supposed to be phileo love, not eros love.
                  And you know this because – the magisterium decided it? The same one that decided the sun was orbiting the earth?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  No! Again, opinions about the movements of astral bodies are not magisterial decisions!

                  And you don’t need a Bible, Church or any religion to see that homosexual acts are wrong. Anyone can see that there is a natural compatibility between man and woman that does not exist with two persons of the same sex.

                • allein

                  “Anyone can see that there is a natural compatibility between man and woman that does not exist with two persons of the same sex.”
                  .
                  Even if we grant you that, why should that necessarily make other types of relationships morally wrong?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you presuppose an atheistic worldview whereby we are but the product of blind, random evolution, then I suppose it becomes much more difficult to argue that other types of relationships are morally wrong. Indeed, who cares what two consenting adults decide to do with their bodies if there is no such thing as a universal moral law and no deeper purpose to human sexuality than to express the pleasurable union of two people who are attracted to each other and feel affection for one another?

                  Far more serious than what adults choose to do in their bedrooms is the public push for so-called gay “marriage.” The normalization and institutionalization of such a new social construct will of course have deep repercussions on any society that accepts it. Here are a few articles attempting to argue for the negative effects of legalizing gay “marriage” from a “natural law” point of view (so not presupposing God’s existence or revealed moral law):

                  http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11B30.pdf
                  http://carm.org/gay-marriage-harm

                  I personally find these arguments to be of value but they can only go so far as long as one presupposes an atheistic or agnostic worldview.

                  Approaching the issue from a theistic perspective, there is the added dimension that God created man male and female for a specific purpose; that the male-female complementarity (physical, sexual, emotional,etc..), especially fulfilled in the union of marriage, is not just arbitrary but an integral dimension of our humanity, not only for the sake of procreation but also for the sake of reflecting the very nature of God. The moral position affirmed in divine revelation that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong and that marriage, by its very nature, consists of the life-long union of man and woman, is really but a confirmation of what most nations in history have intuitively accepted as the best model for the flourishing of society.

                  http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org

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

                  Nature (and reality) beg to differ…

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  Anyone can see that there is a natural compatibility between man and woman that does not exist with two persons of the same sex.

                  Natural compatibility in what way? The fact that a penis goes into a vagina? Or the fact that a lot of women aren’t build so that that alone can actually give them an orgasm? The female body is not really designed for PIV sex, so this argument is rather weak. In addition, how do you get from “this way fits the best way” to “any other way is wrong”?

                  The problem with a lot of your arguments is that they hinge on “everyone knows” or “everyone can feel this”. For those of us who don’t know, and don’t feel this, it is extremely annoying. You are continually telling us that our experiences and feelings aren’t real, or we’re interpreting them wrong.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Here is my reply to someone else’s question, which was rather similar to yours. (I don’t quite understand how Disqus organizes the discussion threads, it seems like some posts only appear in certain contexts. Sorry if this is duplicated)

                  If you presuppose an atheistic worldview whereby we are but the product of blind, random evolution, then I suppose it becomes much more difficult to argue that other types of relationships are morally wrong. Indeed, who cares what two consenting adults decide to do with their bodies if there is no such thing as a universal moral law and no deeper purpose to human sexuality than to express the pleasurable union of two people who are attracted to each other and feel affection for one another?

                  Far more serious than what adults choose to do in their bedrooms is the public push for so-called gay “marriage.” The normalization and institutionalization of such a new social construct will of course have deep repercussions on any society that accepts it. Here are a few articles attempting to argue for the negative effects of legalizing gay “marriage” from a “natural law” point of view (so not presupposing God’s existence or revealed moral law):

                  http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11B30.pdf

                  http://carm.org/gay-marriage-harm

                  I personally find these arguments to be of value but they can only go so far as long as one presupposes an atheistic or agnostic worldview.

                  Approaching the issue from a theistic perspective, there is the added dimension that God created man male and female for a specific purpose; that the male-female complementarity (physical, sexual, emotional,etc..), especially fulfilled in the union of marriage, is not just arbitrary but an integral dimension of our humanity, not only for the sake of procreation but also for the sake of reflecting the very nature of God. The moral position affirmed in divine revelation that homosexual acts are intrinsically wrong and that marriage, by its very nature, consists of the life-long union of man and woman, is really but a confirmation of what most nations in history have intuitively accepted as the best model for the flourishing of society.

                  http://www.marriageuniqueforareason.org

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  (hmm I thought I already answered this. Did my reply disappear?). As much as your human parents are loving, their love is but a spark emanating from the fireball of love that is God. God does not punish anyone for “choosing the wrong book”. People punish themselves for persistently rejecting truth and goodness until the moment of their death.

  • Charles Raymond Miller

    I’m not surprised nor am I impressed. I fully expected the new co-pope to be focused on the institutional image of the Roman Catholic Church. So far, the Church has executed a PR campaign to get the public focused on what they consider to be positives to create a more compassionate image. Hemant, your last line sums that up nicely.

  • Gus Snarp

    I suddenly wonder if he’s been reading Rumi:

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

  • 0xabad1dea

    I care – because his words might bring safety and relief to some atheists in particularly religious areas. Of course I want him to say more, to rein in his followers further, but really, every little scrap at this point is quite an improvement

    • Gus Snarp

      I see your point, and it may have some beneficial effects. But this also assumes that people listen with that much detail to what the Pope says, and that they give this priority over when he said we were devil worshipers.

  • peter garayt

    As an atheist I took great exception to the poops comment.
    I do NOT need to be sanctioned by the likes of you!

    peter g

  • Beth

    Atheists in heaven: There goes the neighborhood! ;-)

    I guess it would be hell for me to be in heaven for eternity…

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I’m not impressed and I’m not interested. It’s just more nonsense from the high priest of absurdities. If he wants to impress me, he’ll turn over all records of sexual abuse by priests, bishops and cardinals over to local authorities. That will impress me. I don’t care if he thinks I’m going to hell or not. Why would I?

  • Tony Debono

    Silly Pope! Being redeemed by blood is gross! We are not redeemed by the blood of his Christ, but by the pure white semen of Hercules!

    • The Other Weirdo

      I don’t know what I just read, but LOL!

    • Tony Debono

      Not only does Hercules gladly impart his holy baby batter of redemption and salvation regardless of anyone’s faith, NO ONE HAD TO DIE!!

      In all seriousness though, I want no part in this Christian blood sacrifice thing. It’s gross, not to mention that the Pope’s insinuation that I’ve done ANYTHING in my life that is so horrible as to require a human sacrifice or the taking of any life is simply offensive in the highest degree!

  • Artor

    Well, Pope Joe seems to be more inclusive in his delusions, but I still don’t want to be included. If he can make his followers act a little more like decent people, then kudos to him. At least he’s doing better PR work than Palpatine did. I still don’t trust him, even if I can throw him a few yards.

  • JET

    1) “Just do good…” What a concept!
    2) He should practice what he preaches.

  • JA

    It’ll be interesting seeing how the fundies react to this.

  • Rain

    “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!”

    That’s actually a way more coherent theology than the insane Protestant theology where everyone was not redeemed and then Jesus came down and performed the ultimate bestest sacrifice in history to redeem everyone, and then everyone is still not redeemed. Protestants (pretend to) appear to be blissfully unaware of the insane illogic of that.

  • The Other Weirdo

    “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of
    Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the Jews?’
    Even the Jews. Everyone, except the icky gays! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created

    There. Fixed it for him. Doesn’t sound quite so good now, does it? If what he says is true, why did the Church spend nearly 2,000 beating the crap out of Jews? Or atheists? It can’t be true that both he and his predecessors are right. One of them has to be wrong. Why is his view more correct than that of past Popes, other than the wider society expects such things?

    • Emmet

      The Church has always taught that every person is redeemed. Both Francis and his predecessors are right.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Of course, the underlying message — that were all “redeemed” because Christ died for us — is just fiction to atheists

    It is also not supported by the Gospel verse to which he is referring. His Royal Popeness has completely misinterpreted the text. That verse says that nonbelievers can be morally good. This is not the same as saying that they will be granted salvation (generally interpreted as eternal life in Heaven). There are ample other NT verses insisting that salvation is granted based on belief, not on good actions, so this opens up the prospect that nonbelievers might engage in good behaviour, but still be condemned to eternal torment. Gee thanks, God.

    • Emmet

      Thing is, he’s Catholic, not a fundamentalist, so your appeal to “Bible dunt say it” falls flat.

      He’s saying nothing new: that everyone is redeemed and anyone can be saved: only God can read the human heart.

  • viaten

    All do-gooders including atheists are redeemed? Say it “ex cathedra” or it isn’t “true”.

    • Emmet

      I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

      • viaten

        It sounded like the Pope was saying atheists will go to heaven if they’re good which seems like a significant change to catholic dogma. If that’s the case, I’d challenge him to make it official by stating it as officially as possible which I assume would by “ex cathedra” which is when the Pope, I think, is at his most “infallible”. But from other discussion here it seems redeemed is not the same as saved. All are redeemed meaning they have the option of not going to hell which no one had before. Looking again at what the Pope said, heaven is not really mentioned at all, just a figurative “meeting place” of doing good in this world.

        • Emmet

          “…at his most ‘infallible’” – that made me smile. Infallibility is like pregnancy – you either are or you aren’t: there’s no scale from “a wee bit infallible” to “most infallible”.

          The Church believes (and has always believed) that people who don’t know Christ, or even outright reject Christ (or – crucially – what they *think* Christ to be), may still go to heaven. So Pope Francis is saying nothing new – especially because, as you correctly point out, there is a difference between redemption and salvation.

          Think of it this way – a person who is formed by their choice to love and serve others all (or most!) of their life, is making a choice for heaven: they get for eternity what they chose in life – namely relationship, love, self-sacrifice, community; conversely, a person who is formed by their constant choice to put themself first in everything (and how many people actually do that anyway?), gets for eternity what they chose in life – just themself, alone, forever.

          (I can’t think of anything worse than spending eternity with just myself for company.)

          So the caricature of the evil atheist, spitting bile everywhere and following a philosophy of “might is right and every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” may find himself in Hades; the friendly atheist who loves his friends and family and tries to put them first and is involved in his community and serves others and helps the needy might find himself, in that split-second moment that we call “dying”, seeing the face of Christ and saying, “Oh, you’re who I had an inkling of all this time when I wanted to know what was real and true; you’re who I was serving when I followed my conscience to serve my fellow man – yes, I will!” and be welcomed into Paradise.

          • Emmet

            Sorry – a little sermon there…

          • viaten

            I understand infallibility doesn’t come in degrees. That was the joke. Note that I used quotes.

            I agree the Pope is saying nothing new in the vague way the RCC usually says things like this. But I think the Church doesn’t say Heaven and Hell are tailored to how individuals lived on Earth. I also think it’s silly to say people “choose” their kind of hell as if that alleviates the idea that a judgement is made and a punishment is imposed against their will. I think the Church and some Christians don’t want to say good non-believers go to Hell since it sounds too harsh, though other Christians seem to relish the idea. So they’ll say it’s at least possible under the right conditions that good non-believers can still go to heaven.

            I doubt any atheist has an “inkling” like you’re suggesting, consciously or subconsciously.

            Also, since the distinction between redemption and salvation was mentioned, let me point out the Hades and Hell refer to different things, more so than Paradise and Heaven which are mostly used as synonyms though some people might make a distinction. It seems some Christians use Hades as a euphemism for Hell because they consider Hell to be a curse word no matter in what context it’s used.

            • Emmet

              Oh, you were joking! …Nice save.

              “But I think the Church doesn’t say Heaven and Hell are tailored to how individuals lived on Earth.”
              In effect, she does. God knows the heart of each human, and weighs their actions on the scales of judgement and mercy. If God is a mystery – and he is – who can comprehend him fully such that they can reject him explicitly? (Is this you atheists’ Get Out of Jail Free card? :) the image of Christ you’ve been presented with is a faulty one because of the Church’s piss-poor efforts to be a witness to that same Christ.)

              God’s judgement is a statement of reality.

              A person wants to love, and lives their life in that vein: they’re choosing heaven.

              That’s what I, a Catholic, believe – I understand that an atheist couldn’t care less about that because they don’t see heaven as real. I believe there’ll be plenty of atheists in heaven because most people, when you get down to it, actually do live their lives – imperfectly and inconsistently, of course – in this manner.

              A person doesn’t want the inconvenience of loving, just wants to put themself first in everything: they’re choosing hell. God doesn’t send a person to hell – they send themself there. That might sound a bit glib, but it’s the way I see it.

              Any of us might look at a person and say, “They are selfish and cruel” but perhaps their selfishness and cruelty isn’t really a clear choice – they are acting out of weakness and pain. Another person’s selfishness and cruelty, however, is a clear choice. They know what they’re doing and while maybe not actually enjoying the specific actions, enjoy what it gets them – money, power, status, convenience, no-strings sex, whatever. Those choices can’t help but form them (I think atheists can agree with the concept of vice – that bad habits form a person’s character) and can lead them into apathy and numbness and antipathy towards good – and that’s the “broad road” to hell.

              (And, for what it’s worth, while I’m not a universalist (ie don’t believe that one can make a statement that everyone goes to heaven) I wonder if perhaps hell is almost or even completely empty – and that’s a legitimate Catholic view as far as I understand it (the Church has never claimed any one individual to be in hell) – because how many people actually live their lives *completely* and utterly *selfishly*?

              “My sins are but a drop of water in the ocean of God’s mercy” as St Therese said.)

  • Cortex_Returns

    The question is, what is a Pope’s definition of “doing good?”

    • GCT

      Bingo. The pope isn’t saying that atheists can do good without god, he’s exhorting us to do good (while implying that he is already doing good).

      Many Xians would tell you that believing in god is part of (and a prerequisite to) “doing good.” This has not been ruled out by the pope. Nor has hatred of gays/women/minorities/atheists been ruled out as being equated with good.

      This is largely a meaningless statement by the pope. It’s meant to sound nice so as to make him come across as a nice guy, but there’s no content there except his religious privilege.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    It’d be nice if he’d come around to the radical, absurd, and modern idea that women are people, too. People forget that the RCC is one of the biggest movers in holding back women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, in the world. They’re not just homophobic, and it’s really important to recognize the vast scale of their awfulness in this area, especially when talking about them making progress in joining the last century.

  • Oranje

    Reform the ones handing out the pinot and the magic cookies before you talk to me about redemption.

  • Space Cadet

    I’d like for the Pope to define “good”. I have a feeling that his idea of “doing good” might be a bit different form my idea of “doing good”.

    • swbarnes2

      Yup. If atheists’ idea of good is to save women who are dying from their pregnancies, and to welcome gay people as full people, not just as celibate cripples, the Catholic church as a whole is not going to encounter atheists there, because they don’t think that stuff is good.

  • http://robertanthonydavis.com/ Rob Davis

    Missed this post until now, but here’s my take: http://whoisrobdavis.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/thanks-but-no-thanks/

  • http://twitter.com/Don_Gwinn Don_Gwinn

    So, basically, this could have been worse. Should I care? I dunno. Do I care? I haven’t worked up much excitement about it. But I’ll give him credit for trying to make nice.

  • Ida Know

    I *am* redeemed… from being religious.

  • Guest

    Pope shmope, dope on a rope. Who cares what he or his geriatric, pedo cronies say or think?

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I do. I have to live among them. They have a very powerful congressional lobby. Any small bit of progress that makes their church doctrine less horrid can result in less horrid laws that affect me. Their religion doesn’t belong in secular law, of course, but the reality on the ground is they still have tremendous political power, and that’s the world I have to live in.

    • Emmet

      Do you always go around calumniating people you don’t agree with? Part of the “good” that the pope hopes atheists will do is probably simply treating others as they’d like to be treated. You do your “movement” no favours by your slander.

  • Mark Heil

    One bright side of this could be that some catholic parents will be more tolerant of their kids who may be out atheists.

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    I am *thrilled* by the Pope’s statement. Seriously. A misogynistic homophobic church that says I am NOT a monster is preferable to a misogynistic homophobic church that says I am a monster. This is a step forward. Progress is often a long series of small steps. We can’t seriously expect a Catholic to ever say being an atheist is just peachy, and just as good a being Catholic. What he said is huge, for a Catholic. Aren’t we all tired of Christians asking us why we don’t axe murder? Well, now maybe less Catholics will ask us that. Yay, I say!

    • GCT

      Except, I don’t see anywhere in there where he actually says any of that.

    • Andre Villeneuve

      Your impression of the Church is a figment of your imagination that has nothing to do with reality. The Church is neither misogynistic nor homophobic, nor does it view atheists as “monsters.”

      • Baby_Raptor

        You keep using words, but you have no idea what they mean. Or you’re purposely denying that they mean what they mean.

        Hint: The fact that being called a sexist bigot makes you butthurt does not mean that it isn’t true.

        • Andre Villeneuve

          I know very well what the words mean. The Church loves all people. Condemning destructive acts and behaviors is quite the contrary of hating people.

          • TurelieTelcontar

            Really? Does that mean you are alright with me demanding that all churches are closed down, because I honestly, sincerely believe that organized religion is destructive and hurtful to your mind? I’m very sincerely not hating but loving you, and want only your best.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              I’m not defending “organized religion” which is a vague and meaningless term. You have a warped image of Christianity. God has sent His Son into the world to reveal His love to us, and Jesus is revealed in the Church. Christ is good for the mind, soul and entire person. You are attacking something that you don’t understand.

              • TurelieTelcontar

                No. I don’t have a warped view of Christianity. I have quite a good grasp of the concepts, theory, and practical application and history. I just disagree with you.
                And Giordano Bruno would sure agree with you about Christ being good for the mind, soul and body.

                Seriously, why should your seriously held beliefs be relevant for me, and mine not for you? I mean, I don’t want to ban it entirely, I just really think that if you have to continue with this damaging and destructive behaviour, that you should do this in the privacy of your own home, and not where children can be influenced.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It’s dishonest to use the misdeeds of Christians who violated the teachings of Christ as a standard by which to judge Christianity.

                  Sorry for wanting to teach children that God loves them, that He calls them to love one another and to forgive each other, that we should respect and defend the sanctity of life, that we should not murder, steal, lie, cheat, that sexuality is something great that is best kept for marriage, that we should be honest and put the good of our neighbor above ourselves. Yes, these things sure sound like really bad things that should be banned from schools and from the public square.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Soooo… you don’t want us to judge Christianity by the bad stuff it’s done, but you do want us to judge Christianity by the good stuff its done? Can I say No True Scotsman?

                  And yes, I would prefer it if you didn’t teach that stuff to my hypothetical future children. Some of it I don’t agree with, and I wouldn’t want forced upon anyone’s children.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You are the one who is illogical in your first statement. You can judge *Christians* for the bad things they have done if you like, but if these bad things violated the precepts taught by Christ, then you can’t blame Christ or Christianity, can you? To judge a religion as a religion, you need to judge it according to the precepts that it teaches and those who have lived out these teachings, not according to how some of its adherents have failed to keep these very precepts.

                  As for your second statement… hard to respond really.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  So, we are supposed to judge Christians by the things Christ taught.
                  We know what Jesus taught, because it’s in the bible.
                  But we don’t take everything he said in the bible seriously, because that would be fundamentalist.
                  Instead, we take the interpretation of the magisterium. They tell us what Christ actually meant.
                  And if their opinion/decision turns out to have horrific consequences, the magisterium, some 500 years later, can basically say “Oh no, that’s not what Christ taught. It’s actually completely different!”, and the church in itself can’t be blamed, because all the earlier believers were Christans that didn’t actually follow Christ. They just followed the magisterium’s (wrong) opinion on what Christ said, but now the magisterium has it totally figured out. Of course.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Sigh. We *do* take seriously what Jesus taught. I teach the Scriptures. I love them and I take them very seriously – but I read them in light of the Church’s tradition. You are speaking in sweeping (caricaturized) generalizations, which makes it rather hard to answer. If you are really interested in how we understand the Scriptures, read the Catechism. Or perhaps the Constitution on Divine Revelation would be a smaller bite and a good place to start:

                  http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  (I thought I replied to this too. Is someone moderating/deleting posts?)
                  Do you not see the fallacy in your comment? So you’re saying that in order to accurately judge Christianity, we need to find Christians who violate the precepts Christ taught, ignore all the Christians who were actually successful at observing those precepts, and this will show us the true colors of Christianity. Makes perfect sense to me (not!).

                  If this is your way of evaluating a religion or philosophy, then all I need to do is find a few mass murderers who happened to be atheists (let’s say Stalin) and there you go: the inevitable fruit of atheism!

                • Hat Stealer

                  Disquss sometimes acts a little weird. However, your original post is still there, right below this one.

                  Anyways, that’s not really what I said. All I’m saying is that we should look at what viewpoints contribute to the world. I look at all Catholics, all Christians (good and bad) and indeed all religions, and I come to the conclusion that religion is bad for the world.

                  The Stalin thing is another tired argument. Stalin, while he certainly set about persecuting the religous (mostly because they would get in the way of his cult of personality) did not commit the vast majority of his murders because of his athiesm. His actions resulted in a buge number of deaths because he was paranoid, power hungry, and handled the country irresponsibly.

                  It doesn’t matter if you think that the people who are doing evil (or at least dickish) aren’t true christians, because they’re doing harm in Christs name, as Christians.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  So basically, you know what god wants because of the things written in the bible, and what the magisterium decided, but when the magisterium decided on some not so great things it was the misdeeds of Christians not following Christ.

                  And these things are either common sense, would-you-want-it-done-to-you-things, or wrong. I especially don’t want my hypothetical future children to get the idea that “love” means what your god does.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You are again confusing the (infallible) teaching authority of the magisterium with the fallible opinions and actions of Christians (including clergy, bishops and popes).

                  Yes, most opposition and hatred against the Church in our hedonistic times very much derive from her teachings on sexuality and the dignity of life. A really good read on this is Benedict’s first encyclical, “God is Love”.

                  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html

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

                  You’re a lying sack of shit. You’re so dishonest that you wouldn’t know the truth if it walked up and clubbed you over the head with a clue-by-four.

          • Hat Stealer

            Crusades and Inquisition?

            • Andre Villeneuve

              Sad chapters in the history of the Church. I never denied that Christians have done at times horrible things in the name of Christ, quite contrary to his commandments and example.

  • Andre Villeneuve

    Pope Francis did not say anything new at all. His words need to be taken in the context of the entire Catholic faith. It’s absolutely standard and common Catholic and Christian belief that “Christ died for all” and that he redeemed all humanity. However, this does not mean that everyone is automatically “saved” and will inherit eternal life. Every person still has the choice to accept or reject Christ’s offer of salvation. “Doing good” is certainly valuable, but it’s really a way of discovering our own unworthiness and need of a Savior.

    Hemant, you ask: “atheists need to be redeemed (from what, exactly?)”. If you honestly search your conscience, you know very well that in your life you have done things that are wrong. You know that one day you will be faced with your own mortality, and if you are humble enough to admit it, you know that there is at least a faint possibility that you are wrong, and that you *might* one day have to give account of your life to your Creator.

    • Ders

      Oh Pascal’s wager eh? You might be wrong too. Maybe it’s Allah, or Thor, or any of the other few thousand God’s that have been conjured up. Furthermore, Pascal’s wager neglects the cost you pay while you’re living. Every minute you spend dealing with praising God is a moment lost in what is a finite life. If this life is all we get, those moments are incredibly valuable.

      We know we have done things that are wrong, but we try to avoid it and we try to do good things. That’s exactly what you do, except you think that you also have to worship a God that created us sick and commanded us to be well. This is the worship of a dictator. Do you really think that none of us have thought about this? We’ve thought about it more than you have. Trust me.

      And yes I’m going to reply you to death on this thread.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        Here too you are wrong. There is no “cost to pay” for praising God. Serving God is a source of life and a source of joy. A loving relationship with One who loves us above all does not diminish our appreciation of this life, it infinitely enhances it.

        Your idea of a God-dictator is very warped and has nothing to do with the God of Christianity. I wholeheartedly join you in rejecting your warped picture of a divine tyrant. :)

        • Ders

          Has it ever occurred to you that you just declare things to be true? Various quality of life metrics indicate that the most secular countries in the world are happier and better places to live. There has never been any indication that belief in God actually makes you live a better life. Furthermore, my personal experiences is that atheists have more fun. With that, I’m going to go to a bar and watch a hockey game because that is what I most want to do and it will not harm anyone.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Have fun! Next time you can share how in the world someone can measure how people in secular countries are “happier.” Last time I checked, it didn’t seem to be the case (and I have traveled a lot). Seems to me that there is a fair amount of despair and hopelessness in our modern secular societies.

            And by the way, belief in God is not a theoretical delusion. It’s a living relationship with Someone who loves us, and so there is a certain speaking out of experience. And it’s a lot of fun and a source of great joy too.

            Enjoy the hockey game.

            • Charles Honeycutt

              Claiming that your vague anecdote beats out measured data and research is disingenuous and incredibly arrogant. You’re being an arrogant and disingenuous.

              And as Ders notes, all of your posts are just you claiming things and demanding they be true. You won’t even post an actual argument to refute, which I now suspect is your intent.

              • Andre Villeneuve

                It seems to me that you are trapped in your closed-system that leaves no place for the transcendent. Spiritual things cannot always be demonstrated with empirical evidence. Is it fair to reject a priori the experience and testimony of countless people who have had their lives positively transformed by Christ, just because these experiences don’t fit within your narrow categories of empirical arguments and proofs?

                • Hat Stealer

                  Problem is, there are also plenty of people who say that they had their lives positively transformed by Muhammad, or Vishnu. Without any empirical evidence, how do you distinguish between all the faiths that say they are the one true religion, and that you just need to have faith to believe?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It’s a complex question, but actually looking at the sources helps: Muhammad led a rather violent life; Islam preaches holy war and there is no concept of forgiveness in Islam. Christians have done bad things too, but the ethics of the Gospels seem to me to be much superior.

                  All religions represent man’s attempt to find God; Christianity tells the story of God who came to find man.

                  (Sorry, I really have to go, no time for more lengthy answers…)

        • allein

          I prefer relationships with people I can actually see, hear, touch.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      And you know there is a faint possibility that Odin will cast you down to Valhalla, and thus you should make sure to die in glorious battle, drenched in the blood of your foes.

      Does this counterexample in any way help you to understand the intellectual, moral, and philosophical poverty of the apologetics you’ve been taught?

      • Andre Villeneuve

        What an absurd comparison. Who believes in Odin? Has he ever been more than mythology? Perhaps a more appropriate example would have been Allah or some other relevant religion.

        Many religions propose many tenets, but only Christ came to save sinners and lead us to God’s love. What has He ever done to you that you hate him so much?

        • Antinomian

          “What an absurd comparison. Who believes in Odin? Has he ever been more than mythology? ”

          2000 years ago a Viking would be saying the same thing about the previous gods.

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

          Well, there’s this little thing called Asatru…

        • Baby_Raptor

          Has your god ever been more than mythology? And, again, no. Your deeply felt personal beliefs do not count as proof.

          As to your second paragraph, you *really* need to educate yourself. There isn’t a single thing about the Jesus story that wasn’t ripped from religions that were practiced at the time. Even the supposed torture death for redemption line.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            You will never find absolute “proof” for the truth of Christianity that will do away with the necessity of faith; however there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that it is very plausible. Many people from all walks of society have joyfully embraced Christianity, and sorry to disappoint you but they were not all morons. From your comments, you seem to get your information on Christianity especially from anti-Christian bigots, but I find myself in better company with the likes of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Teresa of Avila, Blaise Pascal, John Paul II, etc…

            I know very well that much of what we find in the gospels has parallels in other religions.

            Bottom line, Christianity is a great source of joy and hope, to know that we are infinitely loved and called to live forever with our loving Creator and Father. What hope does atheism give you? That you are the product of a blind, random process of evolution, that you will one day lose everything you love and hold dear, and that your ultimate destiny is to be eaten by worms in the grave?

        • Charles Honeycutt

          Pretending that actual religions weren’t real things is a display of some combination of extreme ignorance and dishonesty on your part. I’ll leave the exact ratio to you to determine. “Mythology” is not stories deemed fictional at the time. It is stories that we now know to have been fictional. For that reason, it applies to virtually all of the OT and NT, which almost never align with exhaustively researched history and science.

          There are groups who worship the Norse mythos NOW. Learn to Google before you say stupid things.

          What has He ever done to you that you hate him so much?

          I don’t hate Yahweh for the same reason I don’t hate leprechauns. You can’t hate a nonexistent thing. You can hate a terrible idea, and Yahweh is a much worse idea than leprechauns. He’s a vile, childish genocidal maniac who doesn’t grasp the ideas of justice, compassion, or humility, and who punishes those who do.

          That you pose such a ridiculous question, one that has been well refuted for far longer than you’ve been alive, is again a display of your extreme ignorance of the very basics of the available arguments and/or your dishonesty in the name of your religion. Feel free to pick one, and in the meantime, try, TRY to grasp that your Catholic school teachers were instructing you in garbage arguments in order to keep you in line, not to prepare you for the real world. Most of them are well aware that Apologetics don’t hold up under scrutiny. They’re meant to make you feel confident in your beliefs, not competent in them. It’s exactly like how the Army teaches combat classes in Basic that aren’t long or involved enough to actually make decent fighters. They’re just designed to make soldiers feel confident about going into battle in the first place.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Of all the people I discussed with here, I think you win the prize for the greatest display of nasty, disrespectful, contemptuous arrogance. Not worthy of a reply.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Or, if female, die in childbirth. Women who died in childbirth were seen to have died in battle as well and went straight to Valhalla.

        Also note that this is partly because so many women died in childbirth, more than men who died in battle.

        • Charles Honeycutt

          That’s actually pretty cool, other than the horrifying death rate and the possible implication that they would continue having children and dying from it in Valhalla.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Nah, they didn’t keep having children in Valhalla :). They got to be warriors too, I think. I’ll admit my knowledge of Norse mythology is, ah, fairly sparse, I just remember reading that and thinking it was really neat at the time. And, as you say, horrifying for what it implies about the death rate.

    • Baby_Raptor

      You’re joking, right? Or are you so brainwashed and desperate that you’ll turn *anything* into a way to preach at people?

      I don’t need your god to do good things. And I don’t need your savior to save me from how your god created me in the first place.

      If *you* need the threat of a giant sky daddy watching your every move to force you to behave like a human being, then that is your personal issue. Stop projecting it on everyone. There are quite a few of us who manage to be decent human beings and do good things by default, and you insult us highly when you lump us in the same category as you.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        Your misrepresentations of Christianity are so ludicrous and your cynicism so obvious that I see there is no point in talking to you. Just remember this: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Pet 5:5)

  • WillBell

    Be fair… he’s bringing the church into the 1950s. :D

  • Andre Villeneuve

    What is this? Reading the comments below, one has the impression that this is a gathering place for anti-Christian bigots and ignorants who not only understand nothing about Christianity but love to erect farcical paper tigers (that no Christian believes) in order to better tear it down. While the former might be forgivable in this age of great religious ignorance, the latter casts serious doubt on the intellectual and moral integrity of the commentators

    • Ders

      This is an atheist blog. Look at the top. Most of us think religion is quite poisonous to society and we have very strong reasons. If you care enough, please go look at how “Christians” have treated atheists over the past couple thousand years. Then come back and tell us how we are bigots. Or just go somewhere where everybody agrees with your view that Christianity is a source of good by mere fiat. I mean this seriously.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        I know well that this is an atheist blog. I’m not asking you to agree with Christianity. I’m saying that totally misrepresenting it with farcical caricatures that have nothing to do with Christianity itself demonstrates great intellectual dishonesty and ignorance. If you’re going to oppose Christianity (which is your right), at least know what you’re talking about and portray it fairly and accurately before you critique it. About 99% of the comments below (and the article above) fail this most basic test.

        • Ders

          So I have to, at length, accurately describe all the nuanced positions of my argument for every blog comment I make in a small corner of the internet? This seems like an undue requirement. If I’m wrong, people will know. We’re mostly preaching to the choir here anyway (to borrow a phrase). It’s not like Christians are coming here and saying “Whoa I’m totally wrong”.

          Basically, I can say whatever I want here. I’m not going into public schools and forcing children to learn things that I believe (sound familiar? [cough intelligent design cough]). Who are you to tell me what kind of arguments I can make. If I’m wrong, refute me. Don’t just tell me I’m wrong or that I’m not making appropriate comments. If I wanted to say FUCK JESUS, I could (and just did), but I actually chose to be a little more tactful until you came in and told me “THE RULES”.

          • Andre Villeneuve

            Yes, you can say whatever you want indeed. However your contemptuous tone and your near total misrepresentation of Christianity below (not just you) seems to indicate that you guys are more interested in engaging in mindless Christianity-bashing than any kind of intelligent or fair-minded conversation.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              How are we misrepresenting Christianity, Andre? You keep saying that, but I want examples and why they’re wrong. You know, that evidence thingy people keep harping on.

              • Andre Villeneuve

                Just about every post here misrepresents Christianity in the most crude caricatures. Just a few examples:

                - salvation depends on giving money to the Church (false)
                -it’s ok for priests to abuse children (completely false, the ca. 2% of priests who committed abuses betrayed their priesthood and vocation in complete violation of the Church’s teachings)
                -”children are damned by the sin of their ancestors” (false)
                -the Church is “homophobic” (false)
                -the Church hates gays/women/minorities/atheists (false)
                -the Church denies that “women are people, too” and “holds back women’s rights” (completely false)

                etc, etc…

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  1. Historically true, still de facto true in places.
                  2. The RCC is very well-documented as having hidden and protected child rapists.
                  3. The Fall. You don’t know your own book.
                  4. The RCC regularly spreads falsehoods about homosexuals to its, what, 600 million followers.
                  5. See #4, replace “homosexuals” with gays, abortion, contraception, womens’ roles in society, atheists… all of which groups are minorities.
                  6. The RCC does not support women having control over their own bodies. That is assigning them a subhuman status. Likewise, it attempts to deny them rights as regards their own bodies.

                  Your ignorance of what your popes and bishops have been saying and doing is not an argument against anything anyone here says. This blog alone – and it is one of many, many sources of information on the subject – has helped pass along documented information on all of these points.

                  At best, you are completely ignorant of the arguments presented and yet are talking anyway without educating yourself, despite access to the entire Internet. At worst, you’re preparing to engage in a round of dishonest apologetics and word games like virtually all of your lot that take offense to people discussing public data.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I am a doctor and professor of Scripture/theology, so I think I know what I am talking about. In case you are interested in replacing your false prejudices with actual facts, I recommend you read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (or its shorter Compendium, both available online).

                  Only a brief comment here: your comment reflects a great confusion between people and sinful actions. You surely know the common saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Yes, of course homosexual acts are gravely sinful, but this does not mean that the Church “hates” homosexual persons. Under nr. 5 you completely confuse people with sins. Abortion is the murder of a child in the womb; of course the Church condemns it. The idea is not to condemn people, it is to defend the dignity and life of the unborn and of their mothers. A woman’s body, as far as I know, does not have four legs, four arms, two heads, two beating hearts, and two DNAs. By opposing abortion the Church defends the rights of women. Women who kill their own children are themselves committing the greatest act of misogyny possible, inflicting upon themselves wounds that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh, I get it. It’s all about protecting women from their own choices. I mean, men don’t have to donate organs or blood or bone marrow, even if someone else will die. But women? They’re so much less important they can be literally tied to another person for nine months in a life- and health-threatening process known as pregnancy, then forced to go through agonizing and life-threatening labor (or abdominal surgery). Why, even a fetus that is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence is more important than a woman is. Silly me, thinking that the ability to control my own body was actually respect for me. Clearly, respect is ignoring my wishes and desires altogether!

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  In 99% of abortion cases (not involving rape), I don’t have to tell you that it’s not like a child is miraculously conceived in the woman’s womb and she has no idea how it got there. The child is conceived as a consequence of the woman’s choice to have sex. Women, generally, understand that sex results in babies. Yes, she had a choice to have sex or not. Your caricaturization of a fetus smaller than “a period” seems to me very dishonest. Have ever done serious research on what abortion actually is? A child in the womb has a beating hearts after 21 days, feels pain, etc… You know very well that a child in the womb is not “your own body.” It’s another human being. Just look it up, if you have the courage and honesty. Do a Google image search of abortion and then come back and tell me that the images you will see are the “body of a woman.”

                  Abortion is never good for a woman. It’s the worse possible form of woman abuse. The Church defends the dignity and beauty of life and sexuality: sex belongs in marriage and should be open to the beautiful gift of life (regulated by NFP if need be). Pre-marital sex hurts women, and abortion infinitely more. Abortion = one dead, one wounded.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  A beating heart does not make a PERSON. A living thing without thought is not a PERSON. A human is not the same thing as a PERSON. Try again please.

                  Fetuses don’t experience any brain activity until about five months in. Again, you’re very ignorant of what you want to deride others over.

                  You make it very clear in the first few sentences that your philosophy regards women as deserving of punishment for sex.

                  You have no data or argument whatsoever to back up your various claims in the last paragraph, merely a foot-stomping demand that you be right.

                  And frankly, that thing you wrote above about “planning” being equal to contraception? On that basis, you are, at best, a fucking idiot.

                • Emmet

                  Balls. What human being is not a human person?

                  And: Does a one-day old baby think? How do you know? Does a person in a coma, or asleep, think? Again, how do you know? And if they don’t, are they then not a person?

                  Foetuses don’t experience “brain activity” until 5 months in? What brain activity do you refer to?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your insulting comments are not worthy of a reply. If you want to dialogue, the least thing you can do is show a minimum of respect towards your opponent. Since you are apparently unable to do that, you can go back and laugh at your ridiculous caricatures of Christianity with your fellow atheists.

                • marzipanpieplate

                  “Pre-marital sex hurts women, and abortion infinitely more.”

                  Gee golly! I guess I’ve been doing it wrong all these years because I’ve found sex mutually fulfilling, pleasurable, and just all around amazing.

                  In all seriousness, how very condescending to speak for all women. Pre-marital sex does not hurt all women. Go ahead and ask some yourself.

                  I’ve never had to have an abortion, but I know for a fact carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth would be immensely more traumatic than having an abortion. It’s not an option for me. I would sooner die. You don’t speak for all women. Stop pretending to.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Of course sex is “mutually fulfilling, pleasurable, and just all around amazing.” It’s also an act of total self-gift to the other. When it’s done outside of a context of total trust and commitment to one another, and when it’s followed by a separation of the two partners, it causes damage and pain. Serial relationships often lead to a certain numbness and destroy one’s ability to truly love another person. Obviously, sex without total commitment can also become totally self-serving, instrumentalizing and using the other to satisfy one’s own personal needs & desires, etc…

                  It is very sad that you think that bringing the gift of new life into the world would be more traumatic to you than causing the death of your own child.

                • allein

                  When it’s done outside of a context of total trust and commitment to one another, and when it’s followed by a separation of the two partners, it causes damage and pain.

                  Just because you’re not married doesn’t mean you don’t have trust and commitment, and just because you are married doesn’t mean you do, or that you’ll never break up. It’s not the fact of having had sex that causes pain when a couple breaks up. And while breakups generally cause some pain in the short term, they don’t necessarily cause damage; it all depends on the circumstances of the relationship. I’ve had relationships that ended on good terms; I was sad for a while and then I moved on. I’ve had a relationship that ended on bad terms but after getting over the sadness and anger that resulted from the circumstances, in retrospect I realize that it wasn’t all negative, and I am wiser for it. Learning from those experiences will make me more likely to have a better relationship next time around.

                  Serial relationships often lead to a certain numbness and destroy one’s ability to truly love another person.

                  Citation needed.

                  It is very sad that you think that bringing the gift of new life into the world would be more traumatic to you than causing the death of your own child.

                  Have you ever been through a pregnancy that had you sick all day, every day for 9 months? Have you done it three times? My cousin has, and while she doesn’t regret having her kids she decided 3 was enough because she couldn’t handle that again. Have you ever given birth? How about giving birth against your will, to a child you didn’t want to have? How about giving birth and giving that child up for adoption because you know you can’t raise it? Or because you felt you had no other options? How would you view it? (Women who choose adoption almost always have a harder time emotionally than those who have an early abortion.) Bringing a child into the world is not a universally happy thing for everyone.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I fully grant you that I will never be able to fully understand a woman’s perspective and the hardships that accompany pregnancy and birth. However (and my many female friends who understand these things much better than me agree), life, though filled with pain and hardships, remains a blessing and death a curse.

                  In light of eternity, all our sacrifices for the sake of others (and especially for our children) will become our crown of glory, a small reflection of God’s own self-giving and self-sacrificing love, while every act of selfishness and of instrumentalizing others for our own well-being will be nothing but a source of regret and shame.

                • lozen

                  Andre Villaneuve
                  I have to tell you sonny, you have a head full of false ideas about women. I am an old woman and I know what I’m talking about. You are not a woman and you don’t know what you are talking about and you never will. You will never face the prospect of finding out you’re pregnant when having a child would wreck your life!

                  You claim to know abortion is never good for a woman! How would you know that? I know several women whose lives would have been ruined by having a child. Abortion was the only choice for them at the time and this was both before and after abortion was legalized. One of those women loved an African American man in the south in the 60′s. There is no way she could have had that child. She got a coat hanger stuck up there in somebody’s house and thankfully she didn’t get an infection and die as many women did back then.

                  Oh, I know you claim she shouldn’t have had sex if she didn’t want to have a child. Amazing how you arrogant men think you are entitled to tell all women when, where and with whom they are allowed to have sex! You do not have that right!

                  The abuse you practice would force every woman to have children she didn’t want. It is not woman abuse when the woman chooses what she wants for her life. How you can twist that personal choice, that is none of your business in any way, into woman abuse is just plain crazy.

                  You are free to believe in any invisible being you want and to follow the rules you think this invisible being set for you. That’s fine. I don’t care what you personally believe.

                  But I do care when you try to make laws that control the lives of others who do not believe what you believe.

                  You are an arrogant, totalitarian who wants to control others, esp women, based on your religious beliefs. It is your church that taught you to be who you are and that’s why so many of us want nothing to do with religion.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Lozen – I very much grant you that I am not a woman and I will never know experientially what it means to be pregnant. However, I do know countless women who know that the Church’s teachings on the dignity of life are for the good of every woman. Unwanted pregnancies are surely very hard, but as I said, 99% of the time they are the result of the woman’s own choice to have sex. There are long waiting lists of couples who would like to adopt children. Why not give up the unwanted child for adoption rather than murdering it in the most horrible ways?

                  Yes, women have the right to have sex when with whomever they want. But I think it’s a free country and we also have the right to say that sex outside of marriage is wrong, it’s a serious sin that causes unspeakable damage to both women and men: broken relationships, broken hearts, unwanted pregnancies, babies killed in abortions, etc…

                  God is inviting us to holiness and freedom, and this comes through receiving His offer of forgiveness and salvation, and following his commandments.

                  This is not about controlling others at all. It’s about inviting everyone to choose holiness and not sin, life and not death. And if we have failed and fallen, God’s mercy and forgiveness are superabundant.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. Babies are not punishment for sex. Women get to control their bodies- if I can’t take your blood, a fetus can’t take mine. I am not less important than a microscopic clump of cells that might, if I let it, turn into a person. Its right to life does not override my right to control my body, any more than my right to life overrides your right to control your body. Unless you’re totally cool with legally mandated organ and blood and bone marrow “donations”? Then at least you’d be consistent, even if utterly immoral.

                  I’ve seen pictures of embryos and fetuses in all stages of development, actually. A 21 day fetus (3 weeks) looks like … not much, really. Even less when you consider that most pregnancies are counted from the last menstrual period, so it’s had about a week of actual development time. The brain in a fetus can’t possibly translate stimuli into anything resembling pain until ~24 weeks, and maybe as late as 28 weeks, both of which are past the point of viability. I don’t know where you get this idea that I think a fetus is the same as a woman- clearly they’re different entities. However, a fetus is dependent upon a woman’s body. It is, biologically, a parasite. A woman has the right to remove it from her body; that is, control her own body and choose whether or not to be a walking, talking, breathing life-support system. Women should only ever be willing hosts for their offspring- forcing unwilling women to be pregnant is torture.

                  EDIT: As for woman abuse- why not let women make that determination for themselves? As a man, you never had to worry about unwanted pregnancy. You never panicked at the late period, going “ohgodohgodohgod please let it be cancer, I’d rather it was cancer”. That’s how much an unwanted pregnancy sucks for some women, and how desperate some women can be to be not-pregnant. Let women make the choice, and respect that choice, instead of telling us from your awesome male vantage point how much abortion hurts us.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  So men don’t have a right to an opinion on abortion? Scores of women are just as opposed to abortion. I find it incredibly sad that you speak of your potential child as being a “parasite.” Incredibly sad. (Sorry my responses are getting short, I’m getting pretty tired)

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Biologically, it is. There’s a lot of negative connotations with the word that I can’t help. I’m sorry you see women as so unimportant that what they think, feel, and want doesn’t matter as soon as they become walking incubators.

                  Men can have an opinion, of course. They shouldn’t tell women what abortion does to them, though, as they simply can’t know. “Abortion hurts women”, they cry. Really? Have you talked to anyone who’s had an abortion? Some people really regret it and have been hurt by it. Some regret it but still think it was the best choice for them; a road-not-taken sort of regret. They’re still glad they had that choice. Some women breathe a sigh of relief and never look back- see imnotsorry.net. Some women deeply regret the loss of a wanted child but know that they would have died, or the child had horrific birth defects and would have suffered and diied, so the abortion was the right choice given the sad circumstances. You want to take abortion away from all these women and more besides, without ever knowing or caring how they actually feel about it- how dare you?

                  It’s a common theme, that of men telling women what women’s experiences mean. Thanks but no thanks; I can decide for myself the meaning of my experiences. So men can have an opinion on abortion; they can debate what life means and when it starts and what bodily autonomy means and where it ends. What they can’t do is tell women what abortion does to women- they can’t know, and to claim they can is extremely condescending.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Fair enough that my insight into the matter is limited. But you make it sound as if all women are in favor of abortion. That’s ludicrous. Most young women I know rightly recognize that abortion is a moral crime and amounts to the direct killing of innocent life (not getting rid of a “parasite” – I’m still shocked and saddened that you are so hardened as to consider your own potential child a parasite).

                  Yes I have talked with women who have had abortions, and I have seen a wound there that will never be taken away. What is more horrific than murdering your own child right in the place where it should be the most secure? I have no doubt that many women are in denial about it. How could they not be? It must be atrocious to come to terms with what they have done.

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

                  You’re a bigoted misogynistic asshole, and you use your moronic “religion” to back it up.

                  STFU and GTFO, you papist ass-licker.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  wmdkitty: your poisonous posts say a lot more about you than about anyone else who might be the object of your hatred. God bless.

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

                  Go fuck yourself.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  What’s more horrific? Oh, I don’t know- being forced to watch your body warp and twist and change as the child you don’t want sucks away your energy, knowing that he is still controlling your life? Dying of gestational diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, or auto-immune disorders? Growing up knowing your existence is the source of your mother’s shitty life and wishing you’d never been born? Getting fired for being pregnant (totally legal in the US!) and watching your other children become homeless and hungry? Watching your wanted child struggle to breathe, and struggle to breathe, and struggle to breathe, until finally the struggle stops, knowing you could have spared hir this agony?

                  Shit happens. Life isn’t fair. There’s way worse things that can happen to a person than “murdering” a not-yet-person.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  These things are indeed horrible. I don’t underestimate them. However, everything changes in light of knowing Christ. God’s very essence is that of self-sacrificial love. We can’t do it on our own, and many hardships of life seem unbearable when we are left to our own strength. But in union with Christ we are transformed; we can grow to be more like him and grow in generous, self-sacrificial love. It is only such love that will manifest God’s redemption to the world.

                  As I wrote elsewhere:

                  In light of eternity, all our sacrifices for the sake of others (and especially for our children) will become our crown of glory, a small reflection of God’s own self-giving and self-sacrificial love, while every act of selfishness and of instrumentalizing others for our own well-being will be nothing but a source of regret and shame.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  You believe that. That’s fine. Why would you ever force people who don’t believe that to abide by it, though? What if a person just doesn’t want to suffer? Why is it ethical or moral to make her?

                  That’s the thing about anti-choicers. It’s not that they don’t like abortion, or wouldn’t get it themselves. It’s that they want to remove that choice from women who disagree with them. If you think your suffering somehow gets transmuted for God’s glory, you can think that. I don’t think that, and forcing me to carry an unwanted pregnancy (or die from one) because you think that is immoral. I’m not pro-abortion; I think it’s quite sad, and I wish it was never necessary. Unfortunately, it is, and I am fiercely in favor of letting people make the choice that they feel is right for them. If a woman doesn’t want an abortion, she shouldn’t have one. She can tell people that she thinks abortion is murder and they shouldn’t have one either. What she, and you, and every other anti-choicer cannot and should not do is take that choice away from other people who have come to different conclusions about life, bodily autonomy, and personhood than you have.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I’m not forcing anyone to believe the theological idea of self-sacrifice or redemptive suffering. However, as you know, the problem with abortion is that it does not only concern the “woman’s body”, but concerns the taking – the killing – of a human life, no, sorry, 1.5 million innocent human lives per year, in America alone.

                  Did you ever try your logic and argumentation of “choice” on other big moral issues? IMAGINE SOMEONE SAID: “Don’t like rape? Then don’t do it but don’t tell men what to do with their body.” Or replace rape by any sin you like (theft, murder, incest…). You probably (rightly) shiver in horror at my example. Now, do you not see that if abortion is really the killing of an innocent life, then the relativistic argument of “don’t like it? don’t do it but let each woman choose” doesn’t hold water for a second.

                  The topic of abortion is not a religious argument at all. Science is on the side of pro-lifers here. Have you seriously done research on the development of the embryo? Watched pictures or videos of ultrasounds? Do you know what is partial-birth abortion? Have you followed the Gosnell trial? Did you ever seriously listen to the testimony of ex-abortionists who describe their grisly former trade? (Here is one: I challenge you to honestly listen to it: http://goo.gl/K1ZXx).

                  When, according to you, does a fetus become a human person? (What are the options? Birth? After an arbitrarily chosen number of days of pregnancy? Conception?)

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Seriously? You brought up rape in this context? That’s it. We’re done. You clearly see women as so subhuman that their oppression in the name of sexual availability to men and incubators to fetuses is more important than their very humanity. I’ve been trying, but I just can’t talk to you anymore.

                • Anna

                  You made a valiant effort! I read through the conversation but was too disgusted to attempt to engage with this person.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Oh puh-leaze. Read it again. I was NOT justifying rape in any shape or form. The example that I used is entirely rhetorical, to make the point that if something like rape is objectively and always morally wrong (which it is), it’s illogical and perverse to say “I personally won’t do it but we should give others the possibility to choose.” You are rightly disgusted by this kind of rationale applied to rape, yet you use the exact same argumentation regarding abortion. Do you not see the inconsistency of your position?

                  Frankly, you are intelligent enough to identify a rhetorical argument. Bit of a knee-jerk reaction? You almost seem to want to jump at any opportunity to dismiss me as a woman hater.

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

                  If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck….

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

                  No. Men don’t get to have an opinion.

                  Why?

                  ‘Cuz it’s not your body, your health, your life at risk.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Then talk to one of the countless brave women who also have a body and have the moral clarity and courage to call abortion what it is. Lila Rose, for example. http://www.liveaction.org/

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

                  Keep in mind that by “brave”, he really means “beaten down and brainwashed in bullshit”.

                  Any woman with even a single iota of self-respect recognizes that her body is HERS ALONE, and that NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO USE IT WITHOUT HER EXPLICIT AND ONGOING CONSENT.

                  “Pro-Life” == ANTI-WOMAN.

                • Emmet

                  And anonymously denigrating other women who you don’t even know is pro-woman how, exactly?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  1) No one argues the Church says you must give money to be saved, just there does seem to be an awful lot of asking for lots of money. And, actually, are tithes voluntary?

                  2) The RCC doesn’t say it’s ok to abuse children. They do act as though the reputation of the church is more important than punishing or bringing to light those who do abuse children, though. We condemn them not for having child abusers among their ranks, but for protecting them and covering for them.

                  3) The entire idea of original sin is that all people, including children, are damned by the sin of their first ancestors Adam and Eve. That’s totally “children are damned by the sin of their ancestors”.

                  4) The church says gay people are unnatural and aren’t allowed to have loving relationships with other gay people. It’s also worked very hard against recognizing gay rights as human rights and against such basic things as marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and adoption. That counts as homophobic, sir.

                  5) For women, see below. I don’t think the RCC is terribly racist, actually. It’s a religion and treats atheists poorly because of its ideas of Hell, but the RCC isn’t uniquely bad in that regard today. Historically, it has been, but what’s a few burnings-at-the-stake and retarding scientific progress for centuries between friends? And, to be fair, the RCC is much less scary today than it has been in the past.

                  6) The church clearly thinks women are inferior. Women aren’t Godly enough to be priests, they can’t rise in the hierarchy, their divine position is to have lots of babies, they’re not allowed to control their own fertility through effective means of birth control. Priests still teach that Eve’s sin of eating the apple first means all women are tricksy, sly, and spiritually inferior to men. When the RCC is heavily involved against abortion rights and access to contraception, it clearly thinks women aren’t full people. When it censures American nuns for daring to buck the hierarchy and focus on poverty instead of teh gayz, it clearly thinks that women shouldn’t be allowed to make their own decisions AND that homosexuality is a more important issue than poverty, which is … unethical, to say the least. When women aren’t allowed to be part of the power structure of the church, it says the RCC thinks women aren’t full human beings with full rights.

                  Still missing how these are crude caricatures of Christianity as a whole, when they’ve been mostly on point about Catholicism’s flaws (some of which is shares with all of Christianity, some of which are its own).

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  1) money: any organization needs money to function. It’s hardly fair to treat the Church as if it were exempt from this necessity. And yes, of course tithes are entirely voluntary.

                  2) Abuse cover-ups: I grant you this point. There were some instances of abuse cover-ups and they are shameful. Like you, I hope that the hierarchy will clean up the house.

                  3) Original sin: You are describing the most fundamentalist view of Christianity, which even most conservative Christians would reject. The Catholic Church, in any case, completely rejects your depiction of original sin. Yes, we are wounded in a certain way, and our relationship with God has been negatively affected by original sin. Yet, as I have explained elsewhere, this does not mean at all that we are “damned” because of the sin of our ancestors. If anyone is “damned”, it is because of his/her own sins.

                  4) “Homophobia”, by definition, is an irrational fear of homosexual persons. You are confusing this with the moral disapproval of homosexual acts. So-called “gay rights” are in fact not human rights. Homosexuals can already do just about anything they want in most Western countries. Obviously, Christianity sees homosexual acts as a serious sin, but this is not the same thing as “homophobia” or hating people who feel same-sex attractions.

                  5) Hate: The Church, being made up of fallible and sinful people, indeed has its share of historical baggage that is not all glorious. But to even suggest the idea that the Catholic (=universal) Church is racist is downright ridiculous

                  6) Women:On this one, you are completely wrong in almost all points. The vocation to the priesthood has absolutely nothing to do with being “more godly”. To suggest that the Church teaches that women are “spiritually inferior to men” is ludicrous. If any gender is superior than the other according to Catholicism, then women as the “crown of creation” are the ones who are superior. The priesthood is intrinsically related to fatherhood, and women are unable to be fathers. Women are like temples, sanctuaries of life. Our highest vocation is not to be priests, it is to be saints. Look at who is the most highly revered saint in the Catholic Church: the Blessed Virgin Mary. The history of the Church is full of remarkable and holy women who are greatly loved and honored for their great contributions to the Church and to the world.

                  “Abortion rights” is an oxymoron. What does killing one’s own child in the womb have to do with “women’s rights”? It is the greatest wound that a woman can inflict upon herself.

                  Married women are allowed to control their fertility through Natural Family Planning, which is just as effective as artificial contraceptives while respecting the dignity of the sexual act.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Moved to larger reply above. This is now blank space.

                • Charles Honeycutt

                  Still more informative than what it was responding to.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Ok, now for a fuller reply-

                  3) I’ll admit I don’t know Catholic theology in detail, but I gave you the explanation I’ve been given by Catholics. Clearly your version of Catholicism is different from others’; that’s not a problem, except when/if you claim to speak for the RCC as a whole.

                  4) The common usage of the term “homophobia” includes every action and attitude you describe. If you would prefer, I can just call it bigotry. The label matters much less than the actual harm of what the RCC has said and done to homosexual people. “I hate you and want you to have no rights” and “I love you but want you to have no rights” have the exact same policy outcome and, quite frankly, both feel very hateful.

                  5) The church is not racist. It has treated atheists very badly in the past, and still treats them poorly. The “Historically, it has been, but what’s a few burnings-at-the-stake and retarding scientific progress for centuries between friends?” line refers to poor treatment of atheists, not racial or ethnic minorities.

                  6) Oh, the wimminz can’t possibly handle temporal power. Why, they’re so spiritual and moral that we (the men) couldn’t possibly let them soil their pretty little hands with power and all the temptations that go with it. They don’t know how good they have it, with how we won’t let them make hard decisions nor be leaders. Now fathers, men, that’s where it’s at. Men are at the apex of the power structure and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Women are revered for having babies. That’s their sole purpose in life. Letting them do anything else would clearly interfere with this God-given purpose, so we simply won’t let them have careers or power. Your arguments are the same patriarchal bullshit that women have been fighting for centuries.

                  Tell you what. Men can be spiritually superior and women can have all the temporal power. You willing to make that trade? Didn’t think so.

                  How is it that the only people who have the right to literally steal another person’s organs, blood, energy, and nutrients are fetuses, which by some (religious) definitions aren’t even people yet? If you’re a match for me, I can’t take your blood, your kidney, or a liver lobe without your consent. Not even if I’ll die without it. Not even if you’re already dead. Why is a corpse given more human dignity and autonomy than a living woman? If anyone doesn’t want to be a life support system for another, they don’t have to be. End of story.

                  As for NFP, I’ll just refer you to recent posts by Libby Anne on Love, Joy, Feminism (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/05/bad-logic-from-bad-catholic.html, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/05/bad-catholics-grating-paternalism.html ) and the comments thereto. Long story short, it doesn’t work for a lot of people, the studies supporting it have horrible methodology, and artificial contraception in no way devalues or disrespects sex acts.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  4) homosexual acts are a sin which, like all sins, harm the human person at the deepest level of one’s being. People can already do whatever they want in their bedroom, but such acts are not “rights” that should be enshrined in legislation, to completely confuse the next generations of kids until we realize the folly and the damages of deconstructing marriage. Obviously on this one we will have to agree to disagree.

                  6) I’m sorry you have such a warped view of power and spirituality. Again, great women have done and continue to do great things for the Church, for society and for the world. Furthermore, the priesthood is not about power but about service. The rest of your comment is so cynical, distorted and false that I don’t see much point in continuing.

                  You may want to read John Paul II’s apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women if you are truly interested in the Church’s view on women: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  4) Adultery isn’t against the law. Disrespecting one’s parents isn’t against the law. Coveting anything isn’t against the law. Our laws are not, and should not be, driven by anyone’s notions of sin. Considering that those are all commandments, and the homosexuality thing is based on one Levitical verse (which is in the context of a whole gazillion other laws Christians no longer follow) and one NT verse, one would think the commandments would be more important to see set into law, yet somehow Christians manage to avoid trying to do that. Could it be their animus towards gay people is a driving force, not their desire for a Godly nation?

                  6) I merely restated your arguments in less pretty words. Power is power, and any reason used to deny some people power while reserving it to others is wrong. The “women are more spiritual so they don’t need power” argument was used to deny giving women the right to vote, you know. It was bs then and it’s bs now.

                  As for that letter- wow it’s long. I found the crux of it, though, midway through: “These two dimensions will find their loftiest expression at the “fullness of time” (cf. Gal 4:4) in the “woman” of Nazareth: the Virgin-Mother.” Women are valuable as virgins and as mothers. Their highest calling and most sacred duty is to be pure until their husbands take them from their fathers, at which point they become mothers. That’s it. No room for career, science, writing, any expression of individuality. No. Woman = virgin or mother, and any woman who isn’t one of those two things and doesn’t want to be those things is looked down upon as inferior. Know what neither a virgin nor a mother gets by virtue of her role? Power. Is that a coincidence? I hardly think so.

                  I’d also love to hear why mandatory organ donation is only acceptable when it happens to women.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I didn’t say that homosexual acts should be against the law. I am saying that marriage by its very nature exists not only to bring together two people who love each other, but also to bring new life into the world. Homosexuals can do what they want but same-sex unions are simply not equivalent to marriage.

                  Thanks for looking at that letter. Yes unfortunately conciseness was not one of JPII’s strengths. Once again, you say things that are false: “No room for career, science, writing, any expression of individuality.” Where in the world do you get that idea? I know plenty of joyful, beautiful and amazing women, single and married, religious and mothers, writers, artists, accomplished career women, who love Christ and the Church. None of them are upset that they can’t be priests. Heck, I don’t know where you get this idea of “power”. Again, the priesthood is about service, not power. If any priest is in there for the power, he should not be in ministry in the first place.

                  Come to think of it, it’s no wonder that secularists and atheists hate the Church so much. The Church exalts the beauty of virginity and motherhood, two of the most beautiful gifts a woman can have, and both virginity and motherhood are precisely under such scorn and attack nowadays.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  *Headdesk* Yeap, you totally missed the point. There’s nothing wrong with virginity or motherhood. There’s everything wrong with claiming that those are somehow the most important aspects of what “being a woman” means or that people who aren’t those things are somehow “less-than”. They’re important to some women, not so important to others. Exalting virginity and motherhood is exactly the opposite of respecting women as full human beings. Simply put, to the RCC, while women are allowed to do things other than be only virgins or mothers, they must also be those things. The most important thing a woman can do is be a virgin and then be a mother, says the pope, and you don’t see the problem with that?

                  As for power- yes, not all priests join for power. But are you really going to argue that the pope and cardinals and bishops have no power? Or that people don’t join the priesthood for the wrong reasons? That women have a full voice in the policies and theologies of the RCC? Because if you make those claims, I’m going to laugh at you. A lot. And then probably pound my head on my desk some more. Being a man in the RCC gives one inherently more power than being a woman. Women’s voices are marginalized, their stories untold, their opinions ignored. Why? You might know the answer- I certainly don’t. All I know is that an institution that claims to be a moral guide in the world shouldn’t be full of policies that’re immoral, unethical, unfair, unhealthy, and an outright stupid waste of talent.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I do believe that virginity (total consecration to God) and motherhood (self-sacrifice for the sake of her children) are two of the most beautiful vocations of a woman and certainly ideals to look up to. However I don’t believe that a woman is diminished by being neither one.

                  Sure, the pope and cardinals have a certain power, but to understand the Church as a “power organization” is really misplaced. The Church exists to mediate God’s life to the world. It’s not a democracy where people get to change her teachings. Not even the pope can do that. Why are you so fixated on this issue of power?

                  St. Augustine saw his vocation of baptized Christian as an immense privilege whereas he saw his office of bishop as a great burden: “I am fearful of what I am for you, but I draw strength from what I am with you. For you I am a bishop, and with you I am a Christian. The former designates an office received, the latter the foundation of salvation.”

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  That’s the thing. Parenthood requires some sacrifice, but we already know that total self-sacrifice is actually really bad for both parent and child(ren). Furthermore, fathers also sacrifice for their child(ren), or should, anyways. This whole ideal of motherhood as self-sacrifice is sick, and holds women back from expressing their own opinions and wants.

                  Because power only seems unimportant if you already have it? Hello privilege, how’re you doing today? What the pope and RCC say affects millions of women every day, yet they have literally zero input into what is said. That doesn’t strike you as even a little unfair or problematic? Clearly church hierarchy is not a democracy, but it does change over time, and women should have a voice in that change.

                  My take on St. Augustine: “Oh woe is me, I have to be a role model and leader! My life is so hard! Better to have been born a woman, bought and sold like a milch-cow and worn out with too many babies too fast before I was 25! Then my near-inevitable death in childbirth would get me to heaven faster”. Wait, you doubt he thought that? Me too. Only the powerful complain about the hardships of power- they forget its many, many privileges and how much life sucks without it. When Augustine complains about the burdens of his office, it’s like the mock-complaining/actually-boasting of “I have too much money and it’s growing too fast! It’s such a burden being rich- I have to buy a new fancy car every six months or people look down on me!” Sympathy from me? Zero. Try not having money for awhile. Try not having power for awhile. You’ll beg for your former “burdens” back.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your fixation on power would probably change if you had a living relationship with Christ. After all, (as is our belief), he was the Son of God so he was not lacking in any power, and yet He chose to be born in a stable, to grow up in a poor carpenter’s house, to wash the feet of his disciples, and to offer his life as a total self-sacrifice for us. Obviously, this is a lofty ideal, and though Church leaders are called to follow this example, they are not exempt from all the typical worldly temptations to seek after power, riches, and honors.

                  I find the lives of the saints are real inspiring example of people who radiated with God’s joy in following Christ’s example. Read a book on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, for example – the son of a wealthy, noble family who decided to forsake everything and embrace what he called “Lady Poverty” and be at the service of all.

                  And if you are so hungry for money and power, then why don’t you become a businesswoman or CEO? You will find these things there in much greater abundance that in the hierarchy of the church. Are you aware that most priests actually live very simple, frugal lives?

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

                  Then the Vatican should give up every. last. penny. of its largely-stolen wealth to the poor.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Your are obviously completely ignorant of the fact that no organization in the history of the world has done more for the poor than the Catholic Church. Of course, from your other comments, it’s easy to see that you are not interested in truth at all but only in spewing irrational anti-Christian venom.

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

                  I was raised Catholic. I have read the bible, cover to cover.

                  I chose to walk away from that moral blight on the landscape of humanity.

                  You, clearly, have been brainwashed.

                • Emmet

                  “I have read the bible, cover to cover.”

                  Did you read it with any kind of guide? You know, it’s about 2000 years old. Would you expect to understand any other text that was that old without some kind of guide?

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

                  Actually, yes, because I don’t need some brainwashed asshat telling me what it “really” means.

                  I’m more than smart enough to figure it out on my own.

                • Emmet

                  Sure you are. So what parts of the Bible are allegory, what parts are poetry, what parts are letters, what parts are history? You knew all that at the time, as you read? – you figured it out on your own. You must be some kind of genius!

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

                  Most of it is MYTHOLOGY.

                  NONE is history.

                  Very little is “allegory” or “poetry”, and the “letters” are 100% crap.

                • Emmet

                  :) Because you say so, I guess.

                  You’re a scripture scholar then? Where did you study? “Crap” is a technical word in this field of learning, is it?

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

                  I’m done with you and your stupid insistence that a book of FAIRY TALES is Da Troof.

                • Emmet

                  Sure. I’m done with your and your stupid insistence that you understand the Bible. We’re done with each other then. Cool.

                • Emmet

                  Sure. I’m done with your and your stupid insistence that you understand the Bible. We’re done with each other then. Cool.

                  PS. It must be fairy tales, because you said so, and you said so in CAPITALS!!!

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Jesus is an opiate so that the downtrodden don’t rise up against their “betters”, yeah, I’ve heard that before. I just never heard it put as a good thing.

                  I don’t want power personally. I want everyone to have the ability to grow into who they are and who they can become, without being held back. Structural power, not personal power, is what I’m referring to. Seriously, read what Foucault says about power and get back to me, because clearly you’re working off a very different definition than I am. Also, you are choosing not to recognize the power and privilege you have- you are male, Christian, straight, and probably white. You’re also probably at least middle class. You’ve never had any of your salient characteristics work against you; you don’t understand that in the game of life, you’re playing easy mode. No one has ever told you that “men can’t do math” or “you’re too smart to ever find a girlfriend”. You’ve never sat, gritting your teeth, through a public school choir performance of highly religious songs to a God you don’t believe in and that you’ve been told will send you to Hell. You never worked up the courage to walk out of said concert to make a statement- I was 10. You’ve never had a giant fucking target on your back saying “Proselytize Me” in high school (figuratively speaking), you’ve never had to worry about losing friends or your job for disclosing your religious beliefs, and you’ve never had someone, upon hearing that you’re Jewish, exclaim “I’ve never met a Jew before! Why, you don’t have horns or anything!” Your places of worship don’t have to hire security guards and have other safety measures in place because hateful people target you and yours. These are all minor events, but they add up into a lifetime on the outside, just a little bit.

                  And to borrow other people’s stories; you’ve never had to fear being beaten up for holding your love’s hand. You’ve never been followed in a store by security, merely for being the “wrong” skin color. You’ve never been pulled over for DWB. Your power and your privilege insulate you from that; it doesn’t happen to you, so you can be blind to it. Everyone should have the ability to be so blind, because no one should ever have to deal with this crap. The power to ignore it, to not care because it doesn’t happen to you? That’s the power I want everyone to have.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  By the way, I love Jews. I lived in Israel for 12 years (including 3-4 years in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood) and I was just at synagogue and at a great Sabbath meal last night with Jewish friends (I now live in Denver).

                  Actually, you have no idea of what I have or have not experienced in life (my “power and my privilege” ehm… what?), but I did read your own experience with interest.

                  There is little I can say in response to such a personal testimony, but to tell you that God understands what you have been through and is close to you and loves you no matter what you feel about Him.

                  And do you understand clearly that according to Catholicism you are not necessarily (and hopefully not) going to hell?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  You’re right, I don’t know your story. I’m making some assumptions based on what you’ve written, while knowing that they could be totally off-base. The Christian, male, and straight parts I’m pretty sure of. The others (white, middle-class+) are guesses based on attitude more than anything.

                  And I’m pretty sure by Catholic doctrine I’m totally going to Hell. While I am open to the possibility of a deity of some sort, the Christian version is right out. I am quite sure Jesus wasn’t divine, the Trinity is purely mythical and doesn’t make any sense at all, and an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent deity is logically impossible and thus easily rejected. Since I’ve been exposed to Catholicism and rejected it about as thoroughly as one can, that means I’m pretty damned.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Whether or not you’re on the pathway towards hell, only God knows, but I think you can have a certain sense of it by searching your conscience and your heart: even as a self-declared atheist, do you honestly seek the truth? do you seek goodness? do you resist selfishness and self-love and strive towards generosity, selflessness, and love of your neighbor? if you feel guilt for sins you have committed, do you try to make reparation for them? Do you try to cultivate a humble attitude towards truth and towards life, and do you resist the natural human tendency towards pride?

                  (these are questions for you of course, I’m not asking for an answer)

                  Our heart, our state of mind and soul, and the habits we form are actually quite a good indicator of the path we’re on. Inner peace, joy, love, purity, humility, goodness are the “firstfruits” of heaven that progressively “solidify” until they reach an eternal state.

                  Conversely, selfishness, hatred, inner restlessness, guilt, anger, etc… are alarm signs indicating that one is on the wrong path. These too “solidify” in our soul and heart and turn into hell.

                  So heaven and hell are really but the permanent and eternal state of what we have allowed our soul to become in this life.

                  Regarding the conclusions you have reached, as you describe them in your 2nd paragraph: how do you explain the fact that countless very good people in every age and every culture who were/are much smarter and at the same time much holier than you and I believed in Christianity, and this belief actually produced remarkably good fruit in their lives? Have you read any of them? St. Augustine? Teresa of Avila? Therese of Lisieux? GK Chesterton? Tolkien? CS Lewis? Edith Stein (atheist Jewish philosopher & convert who became a Carmelite nun and died in Auschwitz)? Mother Teresa? John Paul II?

                  Last thing: why is an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent deity “logically impossible”? The problem of evil and suffering, I suppose?

                • Baby_Raptor

                  There is absolutely no proof whatsoever outside of some peoples’ religious claims that homosexuality hurts people.

                • allein
                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Fixed. Thanks.

                • allein

                  It is the greatest wound that a woman can inflict upon herself.

                  People do all sorts of things to harm themselves in all sorts of ways which are not illegal. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. If I want to take that risk, that’s on me. How about you let other people live their lives as they see fit?

                  Married women are allowed to control their fertility

                  I used this line on another thread the other day, but it fits here too…Do you have any clue how utterly patronising that sounds? Who the hell are you, or “the church,” or anyone else, to decide whether and how we are allowed to control our own bodies?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Sorry for sounding patronising. But the Church exists to help us know right from wrong. I am personally very glad the Church provides this guidance and helps curb my own sinful inclinations and tendencies. The essence of man’s rebellion against God is that we scorn His commandments and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong (cf. the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Yet God’s commandments are always for our good, and sin is always destructive and enslaving. People are free to sin, but it seems to me the Church is also free to invite all people to find freedom and life in God’s commandments.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Then why couldn’t the church figure out that slavery was wrong?

                • Andre Villeneuve
                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  I’m not reading an article that long that is obviously more rationalization of the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church. they thought it was wrong but didn’t stop it? Well whoop dee doo! Give them a medal. In only the church in the middle ages through the 19th century had had any power or influence. Oh wait. They had a lot! Seriously, this bizarre rationalization of heinous acts is why I refuse to take gigs in Catholic churches. I just can’t stomach it. I did it for a few years in the 90s and even then I was just appalled at the nonsense that come out of priests’ mouths week after week. Embrace reason and leave this superstitious nonsense behind.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Thanks for confirming your closed-mindedness. We wouldn’t want to bother your prejudices with facts or evidence or anything like that.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  What facts? What evidence? You have none. I’m not the one who is close minded. I simply expect proof for your claims. You have no proof starting with the existence of god and going forward from there.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  Regarding the money: The treaty between the church and Germany, at least, makes tithing a normal tax for German catholics. The only way to not give money to the church, is to leave it officially, which in turn is younted by the church as defection, and therefor a de facto excommunication. Now tell me again how free donating money to the church is.

                  And with the abuse scandal and homophobia: Wouldn’t you agree that generally a harsher punishment correlates with a worse crime being done? So, what does it say that the church excommunicates:
                  - people who don’t want to pay church taxes
                  - a priest who advocates for gay marriage
                  - an 11-year old rape victim for having an abortion
                  While to this day none of the priests that raped children were excommunicated?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I grant you that I don’t like at all the system of Church tax in Germany. It’s the product of another age and I’m not sure it does more good than harm in our own age and culture.

                  Your question about excommunication is a good one. I’m not sure I have a satisfying answer to it, but this is what I can say: people don’t get officially excommunicated for sins, no matter how grave. When a person commits a mortal sin, he/she has already “self-excommunicated” himself/herself. If the Church had to intervene any time a Catholic committed a serious sin, the Church would have to excommunicate thousands of people every day.

                  The idea of excommunication usually has to do with someone causing serious scandal, such as the case of a priest who betrays his vocation by advocating for gay “marriage.” He is not only committing a sin, he is potentially leading many others astray as a leader and pastor of the Church.

                  Please give me some more details about your case of the 11-year old rape victim.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  I grant you that I don’t like at all the system of Church tax in
                  Germany. It’s the product of another age and I’m not sure it does more
                  good than harm in our own age and culture.
                  Well, it’s about 70 years old (yes, Hitler signed it with Paul), and the decision that not wanting to pay taxes anymore was considered an act that excommunicates yourself is from the end of last year.

                  I kind of get the process, but it’s interesting that the priests involved in the child rape cases were not considered excommunicated by the church, as they kept on working as priests, and you are not allowed to give the sacraments while in a state of excommunication. So, Hitler was never officially mentioned as excommunicated, all the child rapists were never consicered excommunicated by their superiors, but a priest that supports gay marriage is immediately suspended from working as a priest because he excommunicated himself.

                  And I’m sorry, it was a 9-year old rape victim:
                  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/brazil-rocked-by-abortion-for-9yearold-rape-victim-1640165.html

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  The child was not excommunicated. The mother and the abortionist were, not by some decree of the Holy See, but because abortion, because it is such a heinous crime, incurs the automatic sanction of excommunication.

                  As for the rest, yes I understand that it seems inconsistent. Bottom line, any mortal sin is a kind of self-excommunication.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  Bottom line, any mortal sin is a kind of self-excommunication.

                  But the only time it is actually made clear to the public that that’s what happened is when the topics are abortion or gay marriage. Child rape and mass murder on the other hand are not considered mortal sins. (Read the article: Not only were the mother and doctors, who save the girl’s live excommunicated, the same didn’t happen to the rapist).

                  I might accept the point on abortion being a mortal sin in normal circumstances*, but when it comes to denying one to a woman/girl that would save her life, while there is no way the foetus could survive to birth/being born, effectively killing the mother in addition to a deemed foetus, this looks rather morally broken. And punishing the people trying to help, while considering child rape a much lesser crime, I don’t have words for how broken that is.

                  *accept it as a moral position of valuing life generally more than personal autonomy, not agree with it

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  ?!?! Of course child rape and mass murder are mortal sins. That goes without saying. What makes you think that they are not?

                  As for the scenario you describe, I believe it is acceptable to try to save the life of the mother (if it is in danger), even if it results in the loss of the fetus, as long as the death of the child was not directly intended, but occurs as the unintended result of the attempt to save the mother’s life.

                • allein

                  When it is the pregnancy itself that is endangering the mother’s life, as was the case in the 9-year-old’s pregnancy, there is only one way to save her life, and that is by ending the pregnancy. It really is that simple. The loopholes the church comes up with to justify what should be the obvious medical treatment are ridiculous.

                • TurelieTelcontar

                  ?!?! Of course child rape and mass murder are mortal sins. That goes without saying. What makes you think that they are not?
                  The fact that they aren’t any kind of self-excommunication? Look to the article I psoted: The rapist wasn’t excommunicated, and not considered self-excommunicated. The bishop said that the abortion was “a much worse crime”.
                  And if that is not part of the official church position, I find it interesting that no one higher up made that clear.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Yes, in a sense we might say that abortion is a worse crime than rape. Rape is awful (a mortal sin of the gravest kind), but abortion is even worse because it is the direct killing of an innocent life.

                  Again, any mortal sin (including rape) is already a self-excommunication. No one who is in a state of mortal sin is allowed to go and receive communion (thus ex-communication). And again, there is no need for the Church to issue a formal decree of excommunication to people who commit mortal sins (including rape and abortion). It’s just not necessary. In the case of abortion, the attached penalty of excommunication latae sententiae (“by the very commission of the offense”) is perhaps emphasized in canon law because so many people contest or deny the gravity of the crime (whereas few people would contest the gravity of the crime of rape).

                  Note also this: “To actually incur the excommunication one must know that it is an excommunicable offense at the time of the abortion. Canon 1323 provides that the following do not incur a sanction, those who are not yet 16, are unaware of a law, do not advert to it or are in error about its scope, were forced or had an unforeseeable accident, acted out of grave fear, or who lacked the use of reason (except culpably, as by drunkenness). Thus a woman forced by an abusive husband to have an abortion would not incur an excommunication, for instance, whereas someone culpably under the influence of drugs or alcohol would (canon 1325).”

                  http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/abortio2.htm

                • Carmelita Spats

                  Abortion is worse than rape? This zips right by “touching” and races right past “disturbing” and lurches its way, heaving and gasping and sweating from Christ’s very own soggy armpits, straight into “Oh my science, what the hell is wrong with you people?”

                  http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1883598,00.html

                  Your freak pedo cult does not see violent child rape as a heinous crime..Hell, it’s the slutty KIDS who seduce 60-year-old, paunchy and pasty, maladjusted virgins:

                  http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/5389

                  http://atheism.about.com/b/2012/09/05/father-benedict-groeschel-slutty-kids-seduce-hapless-priests.htm

                  What about women who are on the pill and the IUD? Your cult claims that chemical contraception KILLS tiny people since it affects the lining of the uterus and leads to miscarriages…If you swallow the pill or insert an IUD, your death cult claims that you have created a Dachau-in-Utero since “tiny people” are sentenced to death by starvation…So, women who use chemical contraception are endangering children!!!! Consistency in wide-eyed cult practices is all that I ask…Catholic women who are on the pill should be excommunicated. They should be obligated to turn in a weekly report as to their menstrual cycle, birth control method, and whether or not they are endangering lives through the wanton use of the pill…All of this if they want to open wide for a moist, slippery, titillating mouthful of Savior on Sundays…And who doesn’t like to munch on Jesus?

                  http://www.thepillkills.com/

                  This is why the “celibate” kiddie fuckers who run your asylum only accept a grotesque “method” which is completely ineffective: the Rhythm/Billings/Creyton method. This method requires abstaining during ovulation but since the female body is not a computer, you have to schedule “cushion days” before and after ovulation…By the time you calculate the total number of days you abstain, cushion days, PLUS the days of menstrual bleeding, you are left with a week for sexual activity. In the creepy “Pre Cana” freak-show I had to take, the idiot teaching the class even suggested that women have sex DURING menstruation!!! He had the gall to state, “menstrual blood acts like a lubricant.” Mr. Fuckwit KNEW that abstinence to prevent pregnancy among MARRIED couples would be a problem so he suggested that females be treated like dogs in heat: playing with our sacrosanct vulvas as we search for “slippery stretchy” mucus, taking our temperature, and then spreading wide for sex when we are bleeding like a stuck pig…Menstrual blood smells worse than rotting asparagus and besides, who cleans the sheets? The woman? I could go on and on about the Catholic woman’s hysterical breeding for Jesus but it is not for this space to visualize frighteningly capacious vaginal
                  dimensions. It is not for this space to imagine a pedophile priest’s soggy
                  sexual mutations. We just do not have enough wine on hand for that. Praise!

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you are interested in a respectful dialogue, you can rewrite your comments in a way that are free of gross vulgarities and caricatures, and then perhaps next time it will be more worthy of an answer.

                  For now, to just correct one of your many errors, here is the Church’s teaching on rape:

                  2356 Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2356)
                  http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#IV

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

                  Not only were the pedo priests not excommunicated, they and their crimes were actively shielded and covered up by the Church hierarchy.

                  The RCC is rotten to the core.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  The vast majority were never prosecuted or removed from the priesthood. That’s just a fact. Denying it doesn’t make it go away.

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

                  I know. The freakin’ POPE aided in the coverup of their crimes!

                • Emmet

                  Did he? Is this a “i read it on a atheist blog!” kind of truth, or an actual truth kind of truth?

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

                  It’s an actual DOCUMENTED truth, which you’d know if you bothered to pull your head out of your ass.

                • Emmet

                  Sure it is. You can give me some sort of source of course?

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

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

                  Second paragraph, emphasis mine:

                  In the 1950s, Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children, concluded “(such) offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry,” and this was discussed with Pope Paul VI (1897 – 1978) and “in correspondence with several bishops.”[6] In 2001, sex abuse cases were first required to be reported to Rome with the publication of Pope John Paul II’s Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela[7] – previously, an individual Ordinary was permitted to handle the accusations.[8] This change placed all such cases under the auspices of Cardinal Ratzinger, who served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 until he was named Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.[9] The Dallas Morning News did a year-long investigation, after the 2002 revelation that cases of abuse were widespread in the Church.[1] The results made public in 2004 showed that even after the public outcry, priests were moved out of the countries where they had been accused and were still in “settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary.”[1] Among the investigation’s findings is that nearly half of 200 cases “involved clergy who tried to elude law enforcement.”[1] In July 2010, the Vatican doubled the length of time after the 18th birthday of the victim that clergymen can be tried in a church court and streamlined the processes for removing “pedophile priests.”[10][11][12]

                • Emmet

                  Ah, Wikipedia. You’re doing your research in the shallow end of the pool then.

                  That quote (emphasis – of nothing much at all – yours) says …what? about Benedict? (Who is, of course, not actually “the pope”, as you described him here: it’s a minor quibble, but you should have said “the pope emeritus” – but hey, you know, intellectual rigour: who needs it when you’ve got an axe to grind against the Church, right?)

                  Is there any there there? What does your extract prove?

                • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

                  I’ll grant that Catholics don’t believe salvation hinges on donations, and I don’t remember the status of original sin doctrine in Catholicism.

                  As for the rest… Those aren’t misrepresentations, they are opinions that you happen to disagree with. For example, the Church opposes same-sex sex, and I consider this homophobic regardless of any other mitigating factors. I know the Catechism advocates compassion towards LGB people, but this isn’t enough.

                • Hat Stealer

                  “- salvation depends on giving money to the Church (false)”

                  *cough* *cough*

                  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19699581

                  EDIT: I see that you have already responded to this. It gets hard to keep up with who says what when there are so many comments. Feel free to ignore this post.

                • Emmet

                  Pro-tip: don’t look to the BBC for information on Catholic issues.

                • Hat Stealer

                  Why? Are they suddenly biased against Catholics for reporting the facts?

            • Ders

              We are interested in reality and reality indicates that there are no gods. At least so far that is the case. We are in the business of doing what was for so long not allowed; that is we criticize the church because it can and does do harm to individuals and society at large. You are demonstrating that you are intolerant of criticism. To refute this, please list some things about Christianity that bother you. If you can list none, you’re done here.

              • Andre Villeneuve

                How am I intolerant of criticism? If any criticism is justified, I have no problem accepting it. The sexual abuses in the Church bother me tremendously (although the double standard of secularists who attack the failures of Catholics at every opportunity while ignoring the evils of the culture of promiscuity and pornography around them bothers me even more). Some chapters in the Church’s history bother me. Lukewarm or ignorant Christians bother me. My own unworthiness bothers me a lot. But we are a Church of sinners and none of us have reached perfection.

                On the other hand (being a convert/revert), I fully accept and love the teachings of the Catholic Church, as I have experienced and seen in my own and in countless lives that communion with Christ through the Church is the key to true human freedom and happiness.

                • Ders

                  Who gets to decide what criticism is justified? You? Also the sexual abuses have not been apologized for. Furthermore, you have a ton to apologize for in Africa. You should probably apologize for how you’ve treated atheists and apostates in the past. You should certainly apologize for your discrimination against women (can’t be priests…although maybe that’s a good thing) and their reproductive rights. I think it would be great if you apologized for your battle against stem cell research. You should probably apologize for the constant claims of financial problems while slowly buying out the hospital system of the United States. Any more? Oh yeah, you really have to apologize for Mother Teresa. Even she thought you guys were totally wrong in the end. Too bad she had to spend years glorifying suffering before that.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  “Mother Teresa thought you guys were totally wrong in the end”??? what the heck are you talking about? Are you speaking about her “dark night” – her feeling a certain “absence of God” for prolonged periods in her last years? This is typical of the testing of some of the greatest of saints. Just read St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night of the Soul.”

                  Personally I have never committed any sexual abuse or never oppressed any women, atheists or apostates. However, I do very much regret the way some Catholics have behaved in the past (and present).

                  However, for many things there is nothing to apologize for. There is no such thing as “discrimination against women” in the Church. (The fact that the priesthood is reserved to men has nothing to do with discrimination). So-called “reproductive rights” are a well-known euphemism for the immoral practices of abortion and contraception – direct attacks against life, and so there is no apology needed for defending the dignity of life. The same with opposing embryonic stem-cell research – all in all a tremendous waste of money that has yielded little results at the costs of the destruction of countless other human lives (on the other hand, the Church fully supports adult stem-cell research, which is much more effective and not at the cost of the destruction of embryos).

                • Emmet

                  Oh, you’re priceless. Know what you’re talking about before you pop it out there: otherwise you look like an arse. As Villeneuve points out, you’re mistaken about Mother Teresa. You may have – just a thought here – been getting your information about Catholic issues from less-than-rigorous sources. An atheist who claims to love reason and rationality should, surely, know what he is talking about before he opens his mouth.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yup, we’re all dumb anti-Christian bigots with no integrity because we disagree with things you believe.

      Newsflash: You are not the sole arbiter of what Christians do and don’t believe. Nor do you know what every single Christian in the world does and does not believe. You can sit there with your fingers in your ears all you want, but your vague statements and insistence that what you’re saying is absolute fact just show how far you have your head up your own ass.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        For the nth time, the problem is not with the disagreeing, the problem is with the dishonest misrepresentations (of which you are one of the prime culprits, with your farcical caricature below of a horrific divinity that has nothing to do with the Christian God).

    • Hat Stealer

      “God hates gays.”

      Say no Christian believes that.

      C’mon

      I dare you.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        I know that some (few, I think) Christians would claim that and they are completely wrong. Such a statement is very far from the Catholic approach to homosexuals.

        • Hat Stealer

          Well then (I had to go back to your original post to remember what I was saying) that is an example of something that Christianity teaches that we disagree with. It is not a straw man. It is not a paper tiger. The Catholic approach to homosexuals- and correct me if I’m wrong- is that they are intrinsically disordered, must remain celibate for their entire lives, and cannot get married. Most people here would say that is also wrong. Is that a misrepresentation of your particular flavor of Christianity?

          • Andre Villeneuve

            This is again the fallacy of confusing the sin with the sinner. Yes, homosexual acts are considered to be intrinsically disordered. But we don’t say that the *people* who have same-sex attractions are “disordered” (unless we want to generalize and say that every person is somewhat “disordered” because we are all sinners – but this in my opinion is an overly negative approach). At the same time, people with same-sex attraction do *choose* to do those acts. They are not forced to have sex. It is the act, not the feeling or attraction, that carries the burden of the moral responsibility.

            However I also agree that it’s not fair to be fixated on homosexual acts. Any sexual activity outside of a marriage between husband and wife is sinful. We are all called to living out our sexuality chastely and in a dignified way according to God’s purpose for human sexuality. In the long run, this is the only way to find fulfillment and happiness:

            “Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint.” (CCC 2339) http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#II

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Many of us are former Christians and are well versed in Christian theology. I use that term advisedly since there is a great deal of disagreement on various theological points among Christians.

      • Andre Villeneuve

        I did not see any evidence here that many (any?) of those in this forum are anywhere close to being “well versed in Christian theology.” On the contrary, I have observed rather astounding ignorance and colossal errors on the most basic of topics.

      • Emmet

        A claim that’s often made, yet there are several examples just in this thread of a distinct lack of knowledge of Catholic theology or doctrine. This ties into the atheist “worshipping of the intellect rather than use of it”.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

    I’m very surprised that this isn’t either a) in the Catholic catechism and thus not news, or b) flatly contradicted by the catechism. Anyone know which it is?

    • Andre Villeneuve

      a) is correct. But don’t confuse God’s offer of redemption to everyone with whether or not everyone will accept the offer.

      • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ trivialknot

        Thanks.

        So it’s like that time that the news said Pope Benedict approved of condoms. Just as we were all thinking, “Oh, the Pope said something nice for once”, the Church decides to clarify that actually the Pope was not being nearly as enlightened as suggested.

        • Andre Villeneuve

          Pope Benedict never approved of condoms. Condoms are obviously a huge part of the problem of promiscuity and immorality in our society. They are not a solution to anything. The solution to the healing of our society is to return to a healthy understanding of sexuality as a life-giving gift between husband and wife. Treating teens like they are animals, unable to resist their sexual urges and getting into serial sexual relationships that will be broken one after another is not doing them any favor.

          • Charles Honeycutt

            Citation needed.for your magical claims. However, no citation will by itself overcome the sheer ignorance needed to claim that contraception doesn’t improve the overall quality of life.

            (Pro Tip: the evidence is overwhelming that it does.)

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            The pope was talking about condoms in the context of the AIDS epidemic in Africa … clearly, using a rubber is waaay worse than risking getting and/or spreading an infection we cannot cure and can only keep under control with very harsh drugs. Go RCC, where rubbers are worse than pandemics!

            • Emmet

              No he wasn’t. He was talking about condoms in the context of male prostitution and AIDS.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Male prostitution and monogamous relationships in which one partner is known to be infected, actually. It might’ve also covered female prostitution, but might not have. I don’t remember.

                • Emmet

                  You don’t remember, but you’ll go ahead and have a stab at it anyway? OK.

                  The Church would say that the use of contraception is never permissible in marriage.
                  Two articles that might help you understand what the pope was getting at – the second is longer but clearer I think.

                  http://catholicism.about.com/b/2010/11/23/pope-benedict-and-condoms-what-he-did-and-did-not-say.htm

                  http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/benedict-xvi-condoms-and-the-light-of-the-world

                  How loving is it for a person infected with AIDS to have sex with their spouse while using a condom, with the risk of the condom breaking? Not very loving at all, I’d suggest.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Clearly you’ve never met someone who’s HIV+. With antiretrovirals to reduce virus load and condoms, the chance of passing the virus on is quite low. If the couple is willing to take that risk, who is the church to tell them they must live abstinent (which many relationships can’t take) or have super-risky sex? People with HIV are people first, and the Pope’s callous dismissal of that is just another example that the RCC is not a shining moral light in the world. Let the couple decide if sex is loving or not; they’re the ones in the situation, after all.

            • Andre Villeneuve

              The wholesale distribution of condoms in Africa has been a total failure in stopping the spread of AIDS – as widespread availability of condoms encourages promiscuity and irresponsible/risky sexual behaviors. Education promoting abstinence and faithfulness to one’s spouse have obviously proven much more effective in preventing the spread of AIDS.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                It’s been a partial success, actually. New infection rates have slowed significantly. The most effective approaches have combined condoms with approaches emphasizing monogamy and/or abstinence, but condoms are a crucial aspect of it. People were already promiscuous and doing risky behavior- condoms make it less risky. Condoms also help prostitutes, who by definition have risky sex, be safer, which in turn protects their clients. You clearly think prostitution shouldn’t exist, but it does, so what do you do about it? Ignore it and watch HIV spread further and faster than it has to because of a fixation on fertility? Or work with the world you have?

                So have condoms been a panacea that’s “fixed” the problem? No. But they’ve helped slow the epidemic and saved thousands or millions of lives. One of the biggest vectors of disease spread was and is husbands to their wives- teaching the women to be faithful was pointless, as most of them already were. Condoms are what protect people, not words. Another thing that’s proved fairly effective, if hard to achieve, is changing attitudes of sexual entitlement among men and helping them respect women as people. Of course, the RCC is less than no help with that.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  I think what you’re saying is the jist of what Benedict XVI said when he seemed to cautiously say that using condoms can in some circumstances be a “lesser evil”, for example in the case of prostitutes. So I can understand the rationale, though of course the risk is that the moment you tolerate their use as “lesser evil” then it’s a small step to interpret this as an endorsement of them.

                  Your last statement, sorry to say, again reflects total ignorance as to what the Church actually teaches regarding the dignity of women. Attitudes of sexual entitlement among men are completely unacceptable according to Catholicism. That plenty of Catholics don’t live up to the Church’s teachings (as in every other area), is unfortunately another story.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  That’s hilarious. Women obviously have a lower status in the church otherwise there would be women priests, bishops and cardinals. As for the “lesser evil”…the whole thing is absurd. Condoms are effective and in places where they are used the spread of STDs is MUCH lower. That’s just a fact. The insane idea that sex is only for procreation is the problem. Note that not all Christians accept this nonsense and use contraception.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  You are confusing equal dignity and value with identical roles – one of the most common errors of our days. The fact that men and women are equal in dignity does not mean that they are to play an identical role in every circumstance. The priesthood has nothing to do with human competence or personal state of holiness. It has to do with the fact that it is intrinsically related to fatherhood, and the best woman in the world is not qualified to be a father.

                  I never said that “sex is only for procreation” and neither does the Catholic Church. But it is not *only* for enjoyment either.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  More ridiculous nonsense. Women are prevented from having any power in society and yet they are “equal in dignity”? What bullshit. why any woman puts up with this nonsense from celibate (and mostly closeted gay) men is beyond me.

                  About sex…so the catholic church is okay with birth control so married couples can be intimate without risking a pregnancy?

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  If you want “power in society” then become a businesswoman or CEO. You will get lots more power there than in the Church, which is a ministry of service to God’s people. There are also plenty of powerful women in the Church. We call them saints, beginning with the most exalted one, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

                  The Church is okay with married couples planning births through Natural Family Planning. If you’re interested in learning more about the disastrous effects of contraception on women and families: http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/courses/264/popepaul.htm

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

                  Funny, I’ve had no “disastrous effects” from contraception.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  Often it takes a while for us to really grasp the consequences of our actions. All will become clear in light of eternity.

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

                  Empty threats.

                • Andre Villeneuve

                  It was not a threat. God’s purpose for us is good. Sin is what messes us up.

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

                  bullshit. God is an abuser, as I have clearly and repeatedly proven.

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

                Reality disagrees with you.

  • Len Blakely

    In related news the sky is blue and water is wet, back to you in the studio Bill.

  • Friendly_Autist

    My first reaction was “Oh, well thanks a bunch Frankie, for reassuring me that your imaginary friend had no plans of setting me alight when I die,” but I suppose it’s a good step for them to take. I think any positive comment from anti-theists here is going to sound condescending.

  • BrandonUB

    I do not think his definition of “do good” would square with mine.

    I suppose I’ll take him over the previous windbag, but his comments are wildly unimpressive.

  • DougI

    Yeah, I’m saved from a non-existent Hell. In other words, nothing has changed for me.

  • carlos

    The real question here is why we should care what he has to says about atheist ?

  • Robster

    The new imroved pope Frank is a bit of a giggle. He seems a much better offering than the previous, decomposing pope. So pleased to hear that I/we can join his fun perpetual after life nonsense that goes on and on and on …Dear Frank, it’s not much of an incentive.

  • Andre Villeneuve

    Vatican Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22: Reflections on Atheists, Christians, and Who Will Be Saved

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/explanatory-note-on-the-meaning-of-salvation-in-francis-daily-homily-of-may-22

  • SeekerLancer

    It’s hard for me to know what to feel about this.

    While this does nothing to change some of the more reprehensible beliefs and practices of the Catholic church, such an important religious figure saying that being good person is all that matters is a step in the right direction.

    It’ll be easier to deal with Catholics if they don’t believe you default to hell for not believing in their god. However just like how some fundamentalist Catholics refuse to believe in evolution many people aren’t going to give a crap what the pope says despite the fact that he’s supposed to be infallible in their religion.

  • Robyman4

    There’s no monolithic stance on this topic, no matter how great the Catholic church thinks its control is. I was once told by a devout Catholic in her early 20s, “If you don’t believe in God, you’re doomed to Hell.” And sadly, before, during and after her statement it was as if I could actually see the gears in her head just stop so that she could repeat what someone else had drilled into her psyche for who knows how many years. And yet, I recently spoke with a devout Catholic in her 50s and she told me that other girl was flat-out wrong, and that atheists could go to heaven as long as they didn’t hate God. Now obviously there’s a bit of a problem with someone feeling hatred toward something they are convinced does not exist, but the two statements are in no way compatible.

    • Andre Villeneuve

      http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p3.htm#III

      See paragraphs 846-848 for the Church’s official position.

      • Robyman4

        Thanks for the link. I read up on it and all I can say is that I don’t put any stock in the catechism or the church’s official position. I mean, I’ve never been Catholic and based on the insane, pathetic beliefs and actions of numerous Catholics I’ve known over the past 20 years, I’m not Catholic now, nor will I ever be Catholic. It’s great that I am now informed about where the RCC stands regarding atheism in a formal sense, but as I said in my previous post it’s obvious that some life-long Catholics (add the cardinal who debated Richard Dawkins, I think his name is George Pell) either do not know or do not care about the official position because they actually do think for themselves a bit.

  • Anna

    You may also think it’s condescending to suggest that atheists need to be redeemed (from what, exactly?)

    This is what bugs me the most about Christianity in general, the insistence that there is something inherently wrong with all of us. I really think “sin” is one of the most horrible concepts ever invented. First the church leaders convince people that they’re sick, and then they offer them the cure for their imaginary illness.

  • http://roguepriest.net/ Drew Jacob

    You close with “to have a religious leader of any sort tell his followers that people who aren’t part of the faith can be good…” but that is normal in many religions (Hinduism is quite firm on this point; also Buddhism and Neopaganism). It would be more accurate if you said “a Christian leader.”

  • joan

    The Pope is only saying what Jesus said in the Gospel of John 14–” The one who loves me is the one who keeps the commandments. If anyone does so the Father will come to him and make himself known to him.”‘ Jesus was replying to one of the Apostles who asked him, “Are telling only us about the mission?” In other words keep the commandments and you’re in — however you see being in– for an atheist that could be “the peace that passes understanding.” It is very hard to keep the commandments and their essence– the Golden Rule.Jesus knew that, “Narrow is the gate.” Anyone who actually goes ahead and does it –atheist or not is entitled to the kingdom of heaven even tho for him that may be just a metaphor for peace– or “life more abundantly.”.

    (When you don’t keep the commandments what follows in your life could well be a metaphor for hell and all you need to know of it– atheists and everyone else.).

    Thanks Pope Francis. Please don’t stop bringing the Gospels to life. We make fun but maybe too, “We come to laugh and we remain to think…”

  • skylights

    This was a positive move in many ways. For one, it gives comfort to Catholic parents that their atheist child is not going to hell. And it gives comfort to atheist children that their parents are not in anguish.


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