Yes, Justice Scalia Deserves to be Mocked for Admitting He Believes in the Devil

It’s not surprising that a liberal like myself would find fault with something Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said. But after a recent interview in which Scalia described his belief in the Devil, some people are saying he deserves to catch a break from the resulting mockery and contempt.

I’m not ready to let up just yet. In fact, saying you believe in the devil should be an embarrassing revelation.

Scalia’s unlikely defenders don’t seem to understand why anyone could be so stunned by his comments. It’s not that we were surprised that a devout Catholic would say he believes in the Devil or even that he said as much in a “bold” fashion. (I mean, is Scalia ever not bold about something?)

It’s the fact that a grown man, in a position of serious power, would believe in something that’s utter nonsense.

I’ll grant that plenty of intelligent people believe in God — It’s a powerful idea, after all — but the nature of that belief varies widely. It’s hard to condemn someone who believes God is like a spirit that’s all around us. But if President Obama said that he worships a bearded old man living on a cloud, we’d begin to look at him very differently. (As we should.)

I mean, just look at how Scalia answered the questions posed to him:

Can we talk about your drafting process–
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

[The Devil] just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

Contrast that with an interview President Obama gave years before he became a U.S. senator:

Cathleen Falsani: Do you believe in heaven?

Obama: Do I believe in the harps and clouds and wings?

Cathleen Falsani: A place spiritually you go to after you die?

Obama: What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don’t presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

He sounds like a guy who believes in God (or says he believes in God, anyway) but knows full well that a literal heaven is nothing more than a fairy tale.

Meanwhile, Scalia believing in the Devil? Not as a metaphor, but as a physical being? Seriously?! It’s frightening to me that anyone would believe that, even though a 2007 Gallup poll said that 70% of Americans would agree with him.

In an article for CNN, Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, the “deputy national press secretary of the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 election” and someone who normally campaigns against those on the right, says we should be respectful of these beliefs, though she never really explains why:

I rarely agree with Justice Antonin Scalia, much less side with him in a public debate. But, like Scalia, I am a believer: I believe in God and the devil, and I believe it’s bizarre that so many find that belief so curious.

… [New York Magazine interviewer Jennifer Senior's] reaction seems to be that it is outlandish to believe in God, much less the devil.

I do not offer evidence of the devil, just a proposition for secularists and atheists: Even if you do not believe as people of faith do, respect their right to believe and hold opinions informed by belief. Starting from this position in discourse and debate might inaugurate a long overdue — and respectful — dialogue about faith in law and politics.

I wish she would have elaborated on why she thinks that, because I don’t understand how it makes better sense to let bad ideas slide. A belief is only as good as the evidence you have to back it up, and Scalia comes up empty in this case.

Hell, so does everyone else who thinks in a similar way. Scalia’s belief in the Devil belongs in the same category as thinking our world was created in only six days (several thousand years ago), that climate change is a hoax, and that Obama is secretly a Kenyan. They should all be greeted with a collective:

To be fair, Scalia isn’t unique in his beliefs. Many politicians would likely say something along those same lines. But isn’t that precisely the problem? I’m incredibly discouraged by the fact that not a single member of Congress is (openly) non-religious. I wish officials who admitted what Scalia did would face the same electoral consequences currently reserved for those candidates whose sexts to strangers go public.

It’s not that I find it “curious” that someone like Scalia would believe in the Devil. It’s just that many of us understand that those beliefs, like your baby teeth, are supposed to be long gone from your system by the time you’re an adult.

Of course “insistent secularists and atheists” like me (to use Buckwalter-Poza’s words) respect everyone’s right to believe. I even understand that people’s opinions may be inspired by those beliefs. But I don’t have to respect the beliefs themselves. I don’t “respect” people who live in fear of the Devil. I pity them.

It’s worth noting that five other justices on the Supreme Court share Scalia’s Roman Catholicism. Do they share his specific belief regarding the Devil? I don’t know. It doesn’t help that Scalia is already a lightning rod for liberals who enjoy pouncing on his every statement. But I think the criticism is warranted in this case.

I expect the American public to overwhelmingly believe in the supernatural. But I wish government officials would know better. Especially for those on the Supreme Court, whose jobs rest on their ability to have excellent judgment, Scalia reminds us that even he, arguably the most powerful voice on the Court, can be swayed by a story as fictional as that of the Devil.

I guess I always held out hope that a “professional judge” of his caliber would take a common belief, hold it up to the light, scrutinize all the evidence, and come to the conclusion that we the people have been duped this whole time. Instead, he sided with the majority.

We would be doing our society a disservice if we didn’t take this opportunity to educate Scalia — and all other Americans — that there’s no evidence of the Devil’s existence and those of us who acknowledge that shouldn’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. We wouldn’t be alone — a recent YouGov poll revealed that only 18% of British people believe in the Devil, a vastly lower number than we find in America.

Maybe Scalia will eventually change his mind. But I don’t believe in miracles, either.

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.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    “I’ll grant that plenty of intelligent people believe in God — It’s a powerful idea, after all — but the nature of that belief varies widely. It’s hard to condemn someone who believes God is like a spirit that’s all around us. But if President Obama said that he worships a bearded old man living on a cloud, we’d begin to look at him very differently. (As we should.) ”

    Well Obama has said he believes in a Man that is God that died came back from the dead in HIS body and that Body is ” alive ” RIGHT NOW ( we can assume he means Heaven ) . That not exactly something called ” The Force ” as it were

    • C Peterson

      Indeed, Obama’s stated beliefs are deluded. But they are less deluded than Romney’s stated beliefs. The regrettable fact is that in many cases our only option at the ballot box is to vote for the less insane or less deluded candidate. What other option is there?

      • Jen

        Looks like we’re down to “Who’s the least deluded person we can find to represent us?” I’m so depressed right now….

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Unfortunately, sometimes we have to make judgments according to grades of stated irrationality and how they are likely to affect other behaviors. Bill Maher has a strong irrational streak, but is still miles ahead of, say, Rush Limbaugh. Likewise, Obama’s stated magical beliefs are, on average, far less likely to precipitate worse behavior than Romney’s or Scalia’s.

      For my money, the issue here is not as much that Scalia believes in something as nonsensical as the Devil – lots of people function fine while doing so, although it’s a bad sign – as that he presented that belief in a manner that suggests a descent into paranoia and conspiracy thinking.

      A presidential candidate who believed in the Force could get elected so, so, so thoroughly with legitimate backing. It would be wonderful to see.

  • C Peterson

    When somebody says something about belief in gods or demons, try replacing the particular deities mentioned with “leprechaun”. If the result is that you seriously question the sanity of the speaker, then you should seriously question their sanity with the original terms, as well.

    There are a thousand completely unsupportable imaginary beings that you can believe in, and be considered clinically ill. But society adds a handful of other unsupportable imaginary beings to the list and not only says that it’s acceptable, but even deserving of respect if you claim belief in these things.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. If your belief in the supernatural extends to the point that you believe it actively influences the workings of the Universe- especially at a human scale- you are not mentally competent. And mentally incompetent people should not be in positions of power.

    • 3lemenope

      And so 90% or so of the Earth’s population is declared to be mentally incompetent.

      I tend to think this defines down incompetence to meaninglessness.

      • Artor

        Incompetent to hold positions of power can still be perfectly competent to perform other jobs and professions. But letting your delusions affect real life is a problem.

        • 3lemenope

          That’s a goal post shift. C Peterson was busy questioning people’s sanity. This isn’t “incompetent to hold positions of power” we’re talking about. It’s quite clear he was talking about mental competence simpliciter.

          To which I will continue to look askance and quirk an eyebrow. When you’ve convinced yourself that your opponents can safely be dismissed cause they’re obviously crazy, you’re on dangerous ground, and when your opponents are 90%+ of the population and you’re wielding a definition that depends on variance from the norm (as sanity does) against them, perhaps tactics should be revisited.

          • C Peterson

            I would never dismiss my opponents because I thought they were insane. Quite the opposite, I’d consider them particularly dangerous, and particularly worth careful scrutiny.

            Case in point, Scalia.

            • 3lemenope

              By dismiss I mean dismiss the possibility that they have something to contribute.

              On those grounds, Scalia is a particularly bad example for your argument.

              • C Peterson

                I’d say Scalia is an excellent example. His decisions over most of his career demonstrate a lack of intellectual merit, a high degree of bias, and disrespect for America. He is a big part of what makes the current court so dysfunctional, and such an unmitigated disaster. His belief in demons is likely to be symptomatic of the same mental deficits reflected in his judicial performance.

                • 3lemenope

                  So you are clearly unfamiliar with most of his decisions, then.

                  For our purposes no Scalia opinion is more perfect to start with for this argument than Employment Division, Oregon v. Smith., 494 U.S. 872 (1990).

                  It’s worth a read, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, a 6-3 decision delivered by Scalia, it overturned the earlier, very permissive Yoder standard and sharply curtailed the deference of law to religious practice. Folks here would be proud; he points to taxation, military service, compulsory vaccination, and child abuse laws as exemplars of the general principle that religious belief or practice can not be a free pass from the civil obligation to obey the law, as such would both unfairly privilege practitioners of the religion and do great violence to the rule of law.

                  The five “conservative” justices were joined by Stevens in getting that one right. The three who got it wrong (well, at least from a secularist’s perspective) are all beloved “liberals”. If this surprises anyone, it is only because the labels I have in scare-quotes there, it turns out, are generally unpredictive of how any given justice will rule on any given case. They are imported concepts mapped improperly onto ill-fitting domains, and consequently illuminate nothing.

      • C Peterson

        How so? Indeed, I think that 90% of the Earth’s population is mentally incompetent when it comes to intellectually challenging tasks.

        • Kodie

          I agree, but I don’t think it’s a terrible thing either. It’s only terrible when people want to vote for the person most like them and not the one most trustworthy to lead them. Collectively, the species demonstrates intelligence, but we all can’t claim to be astrophysicists, just because some of us are studious enough to be. “We’ve” been to the moon, but have you? Have I? No. According to my semi-regular television viewing, most people can’t even guesstimate the price of a bottle of acetaminophen, and constantly need to be inspired about what to cook their family for dinner. I think the especially religious idea that human intelligence indicates we’re more special than other animals, therefore god, gives ourselves way too much credit by associating with the accomplishments of a few.

          • C Peterson

            I actually am an astrophysicist… :)

            On the whole I agree with what you say. And in reality, I think the number of pathologically religious people is quite a bit less than 90%. I wouldn’t be surprised if 20% or more of people are basically atheists, and a good half or more just religious by culture or habit, with their religion playing little role in their thinking.

            • smrnda

              Something worth keeping in mind is compartmentalization, which enables people to be rational in one area or setting, but totally irrational in others. It’s what enables a guy like Steve Jobs to make good decisions on technology and business but horrible decisions when it comes to his health and faith in alt-med treatments.

              • C Peterson

                Compartmentalization is a coping mechanism to avoid serious mental issues. But it isn’t healthy, and comes with stress and the possibility of problems of its own.

      • Jim Jones

        > And so 90% or so of the Earth’s population is declared to be mentally incompetent.

        How many people do you know who you think deserve to be on the SCOTUS?

    • kaydenpat

      Well in the US, they are in positions of power, which is not surprising given that this is a majority Christian nation.

      • D Knapp

        Myth, pandering, and bandwagons. People who put no thought into their religious beliefs identify as Christian because it is easy. Then the politicians claim to be Christian and everyone should automatically agree with their fundamentalist beliefs because everyone else has the same religion as them!

        Not only do I reject the idea that the majority of the US is Christian, but I reject that it is an accurate portrayal of the belief structures they have.

        One Christian thinks the devil is real and babies go to hell if they aren’t baptized, and another thinks that…something probably happens when you die. Two. Completely. Different. Beliefs.

        Don’t blanket statement with “Christian.” It is wrong and even if it weren’t, it would hold no meaning.

        • C Peterson

          The problem is that we have so much political pandering to Christians in the U.S., and from the viewpoint of politicians, “Christian” seems to align with your first definition (which I think represents a minority, but it is a very vocal minority).

  • L.Long

    Most politicians bow down to money and power, and give lip service to gawd cuz as we all know atheists can never get elected. So I understand someone mindlessly saying praise jesus. But when they start talking out there asses, I would at least like them to be as smart as JFK and make it public that they will do their jobs according to the constitution and keep their delusions out of politics as much as possible….at least it will show some sort of effort.
    I would really worry if like congress this person was delusional and had lots of power….reaching slowly for the worry on switch.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Great post, Hemant. Scalia’s beliefs deserve to be treated with the utmost ridicule but as of a few years ago, 70% of the country would think it’s more fucked up if he didn’t believe in the Devil. This is all a direct result of this insidious idea that we need to respect people’s beliefs. It’s not only wrong but it’s dangerous. You don’t get to tell me what’s sacred.

    Re: Obama…this is what I hate about the idea that a “Christian” doesn’t have to own any of their theology. Many of you on here support this idea that a Christian can be anything they want and who are we to tell them they’re not a Christian. Well take a look at the POTUS’ beliefs regarding God and tell me how that looks anything like Christianity. When the hell did the Palestinian carpenter become so damn ambiguous? In an environment where Christians had to at least somewhat own their theology…that is to say that they believe in original sin and are saved from eternal damnation via the sin-cleansing power of child blood sacrifice…there wouldn’t be so many Christians. As long as the only requirement for being a Christian is that you call yourself a Christian, they’ll never lose their majority.

  • Kevin

    Liberal “tolerance” is … well, it usually isn’t.

    • EdmondWherever

      Tolerating something is quite different from giving it a critial analysis on a blog. Doesn’t this article say that we AGREE with Scalia’s RIGHT to believe as he wishes? No one is taking that right away from him. But that doesn’t mean we’re forbidden from discussing his beliefs, and identifying what’s wrong with them.
      .
      I would applaud any conservatives who expressed tolerance in the same way. For example, if we heard them saying out loud that they disapprove of same-sex marriages, however they’ll stand out of the way of people pursuing them.
      .
      But that’s not usually how we see conservative tolerance expressed. If they oppose something, then it needs to be illegal too, so that NO ONE can enjoy it just like they don’t.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        I would applaud any conservatives who expressed tolerance in the same
        way. For example, if we heard them saying out loud that they disapprove
        of same-sex marriages, however they’ll stand out of the way of people
        pursuing them.

        I’ve heard three people or so express that sentiment, counting in person and in print. One wrote me to say it after reading a newspaper column that I wrote. ^^ It’s always a surprise!

        One of them specifically wrote that as an American, they supported equal marriage rights, but that they didn’t think they “knew better than God”. Hey, ridiculous, but honest! It’s been a few years; hopefully they’re on their way to agnosticism at least by now, as they were at least aware of the cognitive dissonance back then.

      • Opinionated Catholic

        I am not sure the majority of conservatives want gay marriage ” illegal ” I don’t many Christians conservatives that for instance want to go arrest the same sex couple and the participating preacher at the local Espicopal Church that just got hitched

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Um.

          You may wish to go have a look at all the states that have banned equal marriage rights on the voting power of conservatives. “Illegal” isn’t synonymous with “criminal”.

          • 3lemenope

            “Prohibited by law” might be a way to go.

            • Kodie

              “Not legally recognized”? I am sure they can have an unofficial ceremony and live together as married couples do? “Prohibited by law”, like smoking in a restaurant, would have other consequences.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Logic, bah! I deal in Truth, not facts!

          • momtarkle

            My BFF Merriam-Webster sez that illegal is a synonym of criminal (but not the reverse); but, other online sources list the adjective criminal as a synonym of illegal.

            But, I’m sure that you are right!

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              But not the reverse… that sounds right. A criminal act is illegal, but an illegal act is not necessarily criminal. Case in point, religious monuments on public land.

              Honestly, I prefer thefreedictionary.com. I’m sure that M-W is more exacting, but the free dictionary seems to have a more complete and varied (and sometimes odd) thesaurus.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            I forgot where I put my cynical asshole hat this morning. It’s probably wrapped around my glasses.

            *blink blink blink squint blink*

        • Erp

          Well conservative Anglicans (the Episcopal church in the US plus some parts of South and Central America [Haiti is the largest diocese by population] is part of worldwide Anglican communion) want to kick the Episcopal church out of the communion and have its property where possible transferred to a ‘proper’ Anglican church. Reasons started with making women priests and then bishops and gays/lesbians priests then bishops and blessings of same sex couples and now marriages. I’m pretty sure that if same-sex marriage were illegal in the state they would want them arrested. And if it were against canon law for that diocese that they would want the minister convicted under canon law (and in some dioceses it is against canon law even if legal by state law).

        • Stev84

          In Wisconsin it is punishable by law to go to another state and contract a marriage that can’t be contracted in Wisconsin.

          Similar laws existed in many states during the anti-miscegenation era. Usually justified by religion.

    • Compuholic

      You might be confusing tolerance with respect…

    • corps_suk

      Funny, you make a platform to get “liberals” to defend.

      I have NO tolerance for one of the 9 most powerful and lifetime appointed people in this country to seriuosly believe in the modern version of friggin Hades…none. Whats next, I need to tolerate a Senator who really thinks Thor is real?

    • WallofSleep

      I’m not exactly what one would call a liberal, and my “tolerance” for superstitious nonsense in our halls of power is waning to the point of non-existence. If “tolerance” means not calling people out for their childish, superstitious nonsense, then go right the fuck ahead and label me “intolerant”. I’ll still be 11ty% more tolerant than the religious right.

    • Kodie

      “Usually”? We’re, I guess, tolerant of your superstitions, but the Supreme Court determines the validity of laws and policies that affect us. You also mean to imply heavily that conservatives are tolerant most of the time. How did you come up with this? You just don’t like criticism of your beliefs. I mean, if you told me a little green man in your house made the paint peel, should I tolerate your beliefs? I guess, but then you are no Supreme Court Justice. It doesn’t affect me, it only affects you.

    • baal

      Why should I “tolerate” a supreme court justice who appears to be so religious that I, an atheist, can’t hope to win a case. After all, he’s said that
      I’m being lead (I’m a follower of) the evil greater than a thousand hitlers. He has pre-judged and is prejudiced against the administration of justice.

  • primenumbers

    Exactly Hemant. Respect the right to believe, not the belief itself.

  • Yong Tan

    According to your argument, Hemant, only people who do not literally believe in God as a real entity would be entitled to hold public office.

    I’m not sure that’s a very good argument to make, for reasons which I hope are obvious. It’s unconstitutional, for one. Yes, the concept of religious freedom often gets abused in the US to shove religion where it doesn’t belong, but I think this is a pretty unambiguous case where freedom of religion does apply – Scalia is perfectly entitled to his beliefs. Second, the argument itself doesn’t necessarily fly. Theists are often experts at compartmentalizing their beliefs and applying them selectively. It’s why there are theists who can do an excellent job at being scientists, for example, and it’s also why theists are often so full of hypocrisy and double standards. If there’s evidence that Scalia’s beliefs are preventing him from doing his job properly, then ridicule him for it by all means (and stick to the issue when doing so). If there’s no indication that it actually hinders him from being a good judge, then ridiculing his beliefs comes dangerously close to being an ad hominem. Last, it’s simply not practical. Going on a hunt for religious believers and rooting them from public office simply isn’t feasible in any aspect.

    • C Peterson

      I think the argument would be better stated that theists are more likely than atheists to be unqualified to hold public office. Unqualified doesn’t mean unentitled. Americans have demonstrated time and again their willingness to elect manifestly unqualified people to public office.

    • Artor

      Scalia is perfectly entitled to believe that Obama is Kenyan, that the US is a Xian nation, and that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of US law, but those beliefs, like believing in Santa Claus and the Devil as a person, should disqualify him from a job that requires clear thinking and acute powers of judgement and rationality. And yes, there is PLENTY of evidence that Scalia’s beliefs prevent him from doing his job properly. For evidence, I simply refer you to nearly every opinion he has submitted for the last decade.
      There is no need to hunt for unstable Xians. They tend to out themselves, as Scalia just did, again, and if their ability to do their job is compromised, then fuck yeah, they should be looking for another job.

      • kaydenpat

        Why would believing in a literal devil disqualify someone from holding a prestigious position when the majority of Americans are Christians who hold similar beliefs? I don’t get that argument. That would be like saying someone who believes in Hindu gods shouldn’t be allowed to hold a high office in India.

  • Jen

    “Respect” doesn’t mean that you get to be insulated from any and all disagreement. That kind of thinking is completely juvenile. Yeah, a lot of people believe in god and the devil. So what? Why should those beliefs be protected from the influence learning or maturity? If an adult told you they still believed in the Tooth Fairy, you would probably be thinking about how to get to a minimum safe distance. There are all manner of things that lots of people used to believe that we now know aren’t true. And, Scalia isn’t an ordinary person. He’s a supreme court justice for chrissakes! I really want to see him back this up- as a judge- if he were confronted with a person who killed someone and the lawyer offers “possession by the devil” as a defense, does he say “Ok, that makes sense, let’s move forward with this case.” or does he think to himself “This guy obviously needs a psych evaluation.” If you have to suspend your beliefs in order to deal with ‘real life’ situations, then maybe you need to reconsider your beliefs.

    • BackspinBubba

      There was a funny poll I heard about a couple of years ago. I’m not sure of it’s validity, but I prefer to have ‘faith’ that it is true. The question was asked of members of Congress. “Do you believe the rapture will happen during your lifetime?” The numbers were astounding in that almost all on the right said they thought the rapture would happen in their lifetime.
      Why worry about global warming, or any of the serious issues our world faces, if Jesus is coming in the next few years?
      WTF???

      • Jen

        These lunatics are going to kill us all. One of them is going to decide that god told them to get a move on the rapture and they will press The Button.

      • PhiloKGB

        There’s a reason that a whole passel of conservative Christians think that unconditionally supporting Israel is our most vital foreign policy activity, and it’s probably not that they just loves them some Jews.

  • Rationalist1

    It’s not surprising that Justice Scalia believes in the devil, a bit surprising he admits it so openly, but it is a doctrine of the Catholic faith. I would be willing to wager some of the other Catholic members of the supreme court believe as much, and many of the current members of Congress and even the current President.

    That said, the only response to such a statement as Scalia is a guffaw and a surely your joking rejoinder.

    • MD

      That’s the funny thing. I’m surrounded up the wazoo by Catholics and have lived in Catholic countries, yet few lay Catholics actually believe in a literal, physical Devil. As a matter of fact, last time I had to go to Mass, the priest went on a rant about demonic possession and most people’s jaws dropped.

      • Rationalist1

        Point them to their catechism If they are to be consifered a Catholic they must belief it, in its entirety,

        From http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm

        “Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called “Satan” or the “devil”. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: “The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.”

        392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This “fall” consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter’s words to our first parents: “You will be like God.” The devil “has sinned from the beginning”; he is “a liar and the father of lies”.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Well, we know that what lay Catholics believe and the RCC’s requirements are very different things (which makes it odd that we almost exclusively get highly conservative Catholic visitors here.) That’s really what is so maddening about their continued support of the Church. They don’t believe what it says anyway!

      • Anna

        Evangelicals and fundamentalists seem scared by the devil, to the extent that they ban Halloween and other forms of scary magical entertainment. I don’t sense that kind of paranoia among Catholics. I’ve seen little children in devil costumes at the Catholic school down the street. I have to think that most Catholics (at least the regular kind) aren’t at all worried about the possibility of the devil creating havoc. They don’t honestly believe that the devil could be whispering in their ears, causing them to do bad things, possessing their children, etc.

    • Anat

      Do you think all Catholics who studied and accepted the doctrines of their faith believe in the devil as an intelligence that is active in the world? Or do some of them believe in the devil as a metaphor for temptation and things that are bad to do?

      • Rationalist1

        Justice Scalia stated essentially the Catholic Church’s teaching on the actual existence of a non metaphorical devil. Individual beliefs may vary but Catholics need to realize that their Church believes essentially what Scalia says.

        • Anat

          Well, they also know their church says all sorts of stuff about contraception – and most of them apparently ignore it. Why should the devil be treated differently?

          • Rationalist1

            It shouldn’t be, but most Catholics only dissent on sexual morality issues, not issues of doctrine or dogma. Most don’t know what their church teaches. Get them to read the catechism and tell that they have to believe all that if they are to be a true Catholic.

            • Anna

              Some of them don’t know what they’re supposed to believe, but others do and disagree anyway. I think polls show that Catholics regularly express dissent on matters of doctrine.

              Only 70% of Catholics say they believe in the devil, fewer than Protestants.

              http://www.gallup.com/poll/7858/devil-demographic-details.aspx

              And of those, I’d be willing to bet many (if not most) believe in the devil as a metaphor, rather than a literal being.

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

                My experience is that most don’t give it a lot of thought. If they go to church at all, they go, enjoy the experience (in the right church it can be pleasant enough) and then go about their business. They don’t really care about the details. I think this is true of a lot of religious people. It’s not that they don’t know or that they disagree, it’s that it just doesn’t matter that much to them.

            • Loretto

              Actually, we don’t. (I’m a liberal Roman Catholic, myself.) While the Church does have very specific teachings, and disagreeing with them is not encouraged, the catechism has a clause of conscientious objection. “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience… A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1782-1790.

              And I have to ask, as a non-Catholic, how are you so certain what a majority of that community does and does not know?

        • smrnda

          I’d suspect that many members of the ‘church’ like the priests, nuns, etc., probably don’t but keep it quiet to avoid getting into arguments with the higher-ups.

      • Carmelita Spats

        The Catholic Church teaches that there is a Mr. Devil. They
        even have an official exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth. Got demon
        problems? Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Here is Father Gabriel’s info…I keep it handy in case my local exterminator can’t get rid of the demons in my basement:

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

        What troubles me is Scalia’s ties to a crazy Catholic group known as the Opus Dei. I was raised in the Mexican Opus Dei movement and it is a violent, devil-believing, cult which culls its psychotic fascinations from the writings of a fascist madman by the name of Monsignor Escrivá de Balaguer. Scalia’s son is an Opus Dei priest, Father Paul Scalia. Scalia goes to St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Great Falls, Virginia, which is an OPUS DEI enclave. They are twisted fucks:

        Opus Dei writings (check out their fascination with the mortification of the flesh…it is sick shit):

        http://www.escrivaobras.org/

        The U.S. spy who went to prison for selling information to the Russians which resulted in many, many, deaths, Robert Hanssen, was also an active member of the Opus Dei. His wife Bonnie ran a boarding house for students from Guadalajara, Mexico, who were studying at the Opus Dei school in Maryland known as “The Heights”.

        • MD

          Now that explains a lot.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Stop laughing! …and don’t call him Shirley.

  • busterggi

    Great. Now reality tv can add Devil Searchers to the list with Finding Bigfoot, Ghost Hunters (and all the variations), Alien Encounters, etc.
    And just like those it will discovery nothing.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    A lot of comments under the post about this from three days ago deserve repeating. I’ll just go with mine, because I’m egotistical:

    It says a lot about how
    religious privilege affects society that his behavior didn’t even seem
    odd to me at first. But it is worse than odd; it’s downright creepy. This is how obsessive conspiracy theorists act.

    It isn’t even a stretch, based on just this interview and nothing
    else, to think that Scalia is going senile and paranoid and has decided
    that the Devil is everywhere and out to drag him down. His actual
    argument is that the lack of evidence is itself positive evidence;
    again, that’s what conspiracy theorists say.

    The Devil’s entire reason for being what he is falls apart if
    he is not actively attacking humans. Someone so psychotic as to harm all
    humanity, for all eternity, over his grievance with God, and so close
    to being effectively omniscient as to carry out the deeds and plans ascribed
    to the Devil, is not going to suddenly sit back entirely and hope that victims
    come to him on the assumption that becoming his victim is the default
    position.

    Scalia is saying that the Devil is lazy, stupid and unmotivated. And he claims to know Catholic doctrine?

    I’ll add to the above that Scalia’s performance could also just be crass baiting, with all that would say about his credibility as a SCOTUS judge.

    • LiberatedJim

      Your post was drivel three days ago, it is drivel still. Punch yourslf in the face.

      • 3lemenope

        How does that even work?

      • Anathema

        What a compelling argument.

  • JET

    Like it or not, we are currently stuck with almost 100% of politicians claiming to be theists of some sort. It would be impossible to get elected if they didn’t. If I refused to vote for a self-proclaimed theist, I would never vote again.
    So I see a huge difference between a politician who may (or may not) believe in God but keeps that belief largely to him or herself and bases their decisions on what they feel is good for the country and humanity and one who is openly guided by their belief in imaginary beings who personify good and evil. Obama claims to be a Christian, but you rarely hear him talk about that belief unless hard-pressed to do so. And even then, it’s in nebulous terms where heaven may be a place or it may be a state you create for yourself on Earth. His ending his speeches with “God Bless America” is something he simply has to do in the current political environment.
    But when you have people like Michelle Bachman claiming that we are in the final days and the end times are near (bring ‘em on!), I seriously question her sanity. And when we have a Supreme Court Justice (or five) that openly acknowledge that they are guided by their supernatural beliefs while sworn to uphold a secular Constitution, I have to draw the line.
    The current decision point for me has to be an official’s belief in secularism and whether he or she appears to be able to compartmentalize their theistic beliefs or not. Obviously the Bachmans and Scalias of the world cannot.

  • sonofloud

    Uh Obama does believe in the magical, invisible sky god. Why does he get a free pass for that ridiculous belief and Scalia doesn’t for believing in the devil?

  • Paula M Smolik

    I don’t know why this is even an article. The majority of people in the US believe in “god”. Therefore they ought to believe in the “devil”. I’d be annoyed by the people who believe only in one or the other.

    • WallofSleep

      Sooo… do Jewish people annoy you?

      EDIT: Re-reading what I wrote above, I’ve come to the conclusion that I suck at this. It occurs to me that that could be read as antisemite bait, which is not at all what I was going for. If I gave that impression, I apologize.

      It’s just that it is my understanding that though Jews and Christians both basically believe in the same god, Jews do not believe in a Hell or a Satan which presides over it as both inmate and warden.

  • Opinionated Catholic

    After rereading the article I think the folks here should get the audience she is talking too. She is not talking to the Evangelical Atheist whose primary purpose is to spread the Good News and liberation of Atheism.

    She is talking to those that actually have to be build coalitions , work with people , and involved in the great project of American Pluralism on other matters than the great crusade for unbelief. Now this gets harder as pundits and opinion makers seem to talk about every object under the sun . However I do think she has a discomfort with the ” mocking ” attitude of many of those that are involved in formation of political and legal policy.

    Its should be recalled it very easy for mocking to turn to just plain meaness and degrading of a person. So I get where she is coming from and I think she has a specific audience in mind

    • 3lemenope

      She is talking to those that actually have to be build coalitions , work with people , and involved in the great project of American Pluralism

      I’ll tell you, and it certainly pains me to say so, but I haven’t seen many signs that the prevailing public sentiment really holds very strongly to the great project of American Pluralism anymore.

      That aside, I do think simply on a practical note that it is awfully hard to work productively with folks who you are calling crazy and stupid out of the other side of your mouth, a lesson which seems hopelessly lost on people who care more about being right than doing something good. Gratuitously demeaning people means that they won’t stand next to you when you need them, even when they agree with you.

      In a political-cultural context like ours, where the standard-bearing party for conservatives have completely and utterly pissed away any sort of good will they might have theoretically had, liberals often get a bit self-righteous that they aren’t at the current moment quite as bad as the other guys. The absolute lowest bar ever. A moral superiority complex is the surest route to killing any sort of productive interchange, but as I said at the beginning, I’m not all that sure anymore that people even want that in the first place.

      • smrnda

        I don’t always think a productive interchange is possible with people whose beliefs are too far from reality. Sometimes the best hope you have is to ridicule and marginalize certain viewpoints until the people who hold them drop out broader society or end up keeping quiet.

        A major problem with the US public is that few people base their opinions of facts and evidence. Scalia sees no evidence for the Catholic Devil, so he decides that the lack of evidence is positive evidence. You can’t reason with a mind like that.

        • 3lemenope

          I don’t always think a productive interchange is possible with people whose beliefs are too far from reality. Sometimes the best hope you have is to ridicule and marginalize certain viewpoints until the people who hold them drop out broader society or end up keeping quiet.

          That’s certainly true. It just seems silly to me that the bar for determining who’s too crazy to reason with is one that a massive majority of humanity clears breezily.

          You can’t reason with a mind like that.

          Except, of course, for the copious available evidence that that’s bullshit. Of course you can, and people do all the time. Believing one irrational thing or even whole sets of irrational things does not turn the possessor of such a belief in to a non-functional slobbering idiot. Surprisingly enough, vast swaths of people manage to both believe in Satan as a real being and file their taxes properly. I personally discuss with very religious people every day a whole host of subjects. Sometimes, that subject has even been law, and yet their religiosity did not seem to impair their ability to reason on that subject.

          It certainly doesn’t impair Scalia’s, who like his compatriots on the court has expertise in the law so beyond question that the idea of seriously challenging it is actually laughable; attacking it makes the attackers look like buffoons. Survey his actual jurisprudence; Texas v. Johnson, Kelo v. New London, Maryland v. King, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, United States v. Booker, Kyllo v. United States, R.A.V. v. St. Paul. It’s like people who talk about how “conservative” Scalia is have never read one word he’s ever wrote. FFS, it’s boggling that secularists whine about the guy who wrote this decision.

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

            Actually, I’ve read several of his decisions and more importantly, his dissents. One thing that’s always popped out at me is his absolute inability or unwillingness to consider context.

            Take the Lilly Ledbetter case, for instance. Scalia said that she shouldn’t be able to sue for gender discrimination because she should have known she was being underpaid and brought it up ASAP. That ignores so many actual facts about life as it is that it renders his decision absolutely ridiculous- so ridiculous, in fact, that Congress actually passed a law to reverse that decision. This lack of context -of deciding cases in a way that ignores societal cues and clues and discriminations and expectations and everything that gave rise to a situation at all- means that more often than not, Scalia’s decisions reek of privilege and blindness and rationalization, not sound legal reasoning. You can’t make or interpret good law by being insulated from the culture in which that law will be interpreted.

            • 3lemenope

              Now, that’s a critique of his work I can actually get behind.

              I agree that his jurisprudence does seem to proceed from a very narrow field of vision. Now, I would argue that much of the time that narrow field happens to be focused on objects of the law (like cherished rights; he’s particularly good on most free expression and sixth amendment stuff) that make his analyses rather benefit from the tunnel vision, because it tends to exclude stuff that sometimes distract the other justices from getting to the core of things. It’s just that when there is necessary context outside of that domain, he doesn’t seek it. And so when he goes wrong, he goes off the rails; I can’t remember reading a decision of his that I only sort-of disagreed with. He either gets it very right or spectacularly wrong.

  • Dan Weeks

    “Of course “insistent secularists and atheists” like me (to use Buckwalter-Poza’s words) respect everyone’s right to believe. I even understand that people’s opinions may be inspired by those beliefs. But I don’t have to respect the beliefs themselves.”

    Constantly my argument, every damn day, against everyone. Surpisingly, stubborn agnostics are the worst.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    Given the percentage of Americans who believe such nonsense and the fact that we have a representative form of government (at least to some small degree), I’m not sure what else we’d expect. The best we could hope for is that the judge would have somewhat better judgment than to say this out loud, but even that might be unrealistic on our part.

  • http://tklist.net/ TKList

    Sometime in the future religious politicians will be laughed at rather than voted for.

  • shane_c

    Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza deserves to be mocked too.

  • A. Iddenden

    It is not that outrageous, after all if you believe in a Christian God then surely you would have to believe in the Devil. I think this guy is simply guilty of a complete lack of diplomacy and his mouth moves before his brain kicks in!!.

  • Birdie1986

    What I find harder to believe is that Scalia admitted there might be people smarter than him.

  • kaydenpat

    I don’t get this post. If one believes in the literal truth of the Bible, one would have to believe in the existence of the Devil, just as one would have to believe in God. I dislike Scalia intensely for many reasons, but his belief in the literal truth of the Bible is not one of them. I assume that if you polled most Americans, the majority would believe in the existence of the Devil, which is not surprising given that the majority are Christians.

    • Anathema

      I doubt that Scalia believes in the literal truth of everything in the Bible.

      Scalia is a Catholic. He cited Catholic doctrine to support his belief in the Devil.

      Catholic doctrine does not call for a belief in the literal truth of the Bible. In my experience, Catholics are generally willing to accept that not all of the Bible is literally true.

      • Justin Carlson

        My Catholic Bible says right in the summary of Genesis that the creation-flood story was never meant to be taken literally and was based on stories originating from 1500-2000 BC.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        It depends on what you mean by “literal truth.” The Catholic Church believes that there are “senses” in the Bible, the spiritual and literal. Some things are literal, while others are probably allegorical or spiritual.

        Remember that the Bible isn’t one book, it’s comprised of several literary genres and good reason tells us that each book within this collection of books should not be blanketed with the same critical eyes, except that it is the word of God, and being that it is divine in its nature and origin, it is bound to have deeper meanings than the straight forward literal sense.

  • Mike F

    It seems to me that if you are going to a mock a person who believes in the devil because its a supernatural claim and there is a lack of scientific empirical evidence then you should just dismiss the guy for believing in God. In that case why not mock Obama and treat him with contempt? I see no difference on your view why belief in God is the same as belief in the devil. I mean aren’t atheists always comparing God to the tooth fairy calling him a sky daddy or what not? You can say everything you just said about judge Scalia to Obama and his belief in God. You do not have to respect a persons beliefs, but if that gives you license to judge and show contempt for that person regardless of the content of their character that to me is a slippery slope to bigtory.

    • Mike F

      isn’t the same*

    • sonofloud

      When you use your personal choice of religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against others as Scalia does, you deserve to be mocked and much worse.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It seems to me that if you are going to a mock a person who believes in
      the devil because its a supernatural claim and there is a lack of
      scientific empirical evidence then you should just dismiss the guy for
      believing in God

      There are nuances and grades when considering how likely (very important, how likely) a belief is to affect someone’s judgment, and by extension, their actions. Belief in a real, individual, sneaky supernatural person named Lucifer who is out to get you personally is not dissimilar from believing that the government is hiding aliens and poisoning your brain with frequencies from Jupiter. Obama’s religious beliefs are so much milder than Scalia’s that they can hardly be said to exist when the two are compared side by side. Obama’s statements are not far removed from Deism.

      but if that gives you license to judge and show contempt for that person regardless of the content of their character

      We have evidence of Scalia’s lack of character. His conspiratorial whispers are not the sole basis of judgment. They’re an elaboration on what we already know. They help form a more complete picture. On the other hand, we have plenty of reasons to criticize Obama’s character, but his stated beliefs do not seem to relate to those reasons, so no one much bothers with them except to wonder if those statements are true and considered.

  • Edward Gemmer

    I’m not sure why a belief in a magic reward and a belief in the devil are really that different

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

    If Scalia were this very tolerant, respectful person who spends free time helping the poor, I’d say it’s mean to mock him. I know religious people like that and while I disagree with their beliefs, I wouldn’t make fun of them because I like them. But Scalia has no reservations about mocking other people and their beliefs and ideals, so he’s hardly in a position to complain. He will of course. We’re a nation of victims. And ironically the bigger the bully, the more he (or she) acts victimized when called out on it.

    I don’t respect Scalia. There’s nothing there to respect. He’s an asshole, a bully and one of the most corrupt figures in public life today. he takes expensive gifts and trips from people with business before the court. he doesn’t deserve any respect. He doesn’t even deserve the job he has. It’s shameful that he can’t be removed from a job. If I were caught taking bribes like that I’d be out on my ass.

  • Taz

    You know who else you don’t see much anymore? Zeus. Think of all the hijinks
    he used to engage in, transforming into a bull or a swan to have sex
    with mortal women. What’s the reason for his recent lack of activity? I’m sure both Scalia and Buckwalter-Poza would not consider that a serious question worthy of respect.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Hmm. So Zeus got smart, got subtle in his constant attempts to have sex, and is now transforming into a condom or a godless atheist or something?

      • Anathema

        This has some dire implications for the sex industry.

        We need to start a petition to make sure that all vibrators are sold with a label that says:

        “WARNING: This product may be a horny Greek God in disguise.”

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          If you’re going to use a vibrator, you should be responsible enough to accept the consequences if you get impregnated by a god, slutty Liberal!

          …ugh, I can’t even mock those peoples’ arguments without feeling a little ill.

  • SickOfPettyDivision

    Of all the actually heinous things Scalia has said and done, let’s mock his religious beliefs. Great plan you got there

    • Anathema

      I don’t think that we can easily separate Scalia’s religious beliefs from the awful things that he’s said. Consider some of Scalia’s more homophobic statements. While I can’t say for certain that Scalia’s particular brand of Catholicism is what led him to hold those homophobic views, it certainly hasn’t helped. Scalia’s religion has only served to justify and reinforce whatever homophobia he already had.

      But even if we make the completely unwarranted assumption that Scalia’s religious beliefs have absolutely no influence on any of his other views, your comment only makes sense if you assume that we are only allowed to criticize a single thing about Scalia. And that assumption makes no sense.

      It is possible to do more than one thing at the same time. If we criticize Scalia for believing in a literal Devil, that doesn’t mean that we have to stop criticizing the many atrocious things that Scalia has said. There’s no reason that we can’t criticize both.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      This issue couldn’t possibly be part of larger problems with him rather than occurring in a vacuum.

  • articulett

    Shall we respect those who believe in witches? Fairies? What about those who think they are being probed by alien visitors? Do we have to respect Scientology beliefs? What about the beliefs of those performing exorcisms on children or those trying to heal thier children through prayer? Why shouldn’t we treat all magical beliefs the way believers treat the magical beliefs that conflict with their own– or maybe the way the treat myths of yesteryear or the way they treat superstitions?

    Until or unless there is evidence that consciousness can exist outside of a living material brain, I will consider all belief in such entities to be delusional. If there was any real evidence of such things, scientists would be testing that evidence to find out more.

    I look forward to a time when those who beliebe in insvisible beings are embarraassed enough to keep their magical beliefs to themselves.

    • Itarion

      I do believe in faeries! *claps

      Nope, Tink is still gone.

    • BackspinBubba

      I believe my god, Thor has the biggest hammer. AND, he’s not afraid to use it!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        If he’s not afraid, why’d he spend so much time standing in that field being all angsty about picking up the hammer before he went to New York? Huh? Huh?

        • BackspinBubba

          Hey! You are not respecting my faith in my god. You are not a nice person! (pout)

          ps; haven’t seen the movie yet, but I believe in Thor!

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Ummm…

            *quickly deletes spoilers*

  • LiberatedJim

    God Bless Scalia. He is one of the few decent things left in our society.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Are you able to defend that thesis in any way?

      • LiberatedJim

        Yes, read the 30 posts below mine.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          So much for your rationality and reading comprehension. Don’t worry, Jesus loves you despite your ignorant bile and spite.

          • LiberatedJim

            Please, punch yourself in the face. You obviously have no soul.

            • Itarion

              What’s wrong with having no soul? Much easier to not sell one’s soul to the devil that way.

              ‘Course, I’d need to find a path into your hallucinations to sell anything to that nasty brute.

    • godlessveteran

      Jim Liberatore, is that you? Sure sounds like it.

  • TristanVick

    Great GIF by the way! lol

    • 3lemenope

      In Bruges? I think it is, but am not sure.

  • fjpor

    Scalia should be evaluated for his mental capacity and be forced to recuse himself from any votes coming up on which he has publicly commented in the past several months.

    • godlessveteran

      He’s been known to disparage church/state separation issues and then refuse to recuse himself when that exact issue comes before the court.

  • tracy two crows

    If one actually thinks for a second about what Scalia said,all his horrific decisions on SCOTUS make sense.”Let’s talk about your drafting Process “, Scalia”I believe in the devil”…and is obviously his Star Quarterback on Team Inferno and gets a payroll larger than A-Rod ever thought about.Even if we don’t believe ,he does,and make it VERY apparent which Team he plays for.Freudian slip at it’s finest!

  • Darius Johnson

    Yes, public figures who admit to having “irrational” beliefs should suffer the same consequences as public figures who commit morally indecent acts. Let’s openly mock and completely disregard the findings of the greatest thinkers of our time like Newton, Galileo, Spinoza, Kepler, Bacon, and Einstein because they believed in irrational things, too, while we’re at it! They’re just as bad as Larry Craig, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, David Petraeus, Anthony Weiner, Eric Massa, and Mark Souder because they had unjustifiable beliefs. It’s a shame Newton wasn’t an atheist, because then he’d have absolutely no irrational beliefs.

    • Anathema

      Yes, public figures who admit to having “irrational” beliefs should suffer the same consequences as public figures who commit morally indecent acts.

      Who has said this? This isn’t what the original post argued for. And I haven’t seen any commenter here say that we should treat public figures who hold irrational beliefs in the exact same was an we treat public figures who have behaved immorally.

      Let’s openly mock and completely disregard the findings of the greatest thinkers of our time like Newton, Galileo, Spinoza, Kepler, Bacon, and Einstein because they believed in irrational things, too, while we’re at it!

      Who has said that we should disregard everything that an individual has ever done simply because they happen to hold an irrational belief? That’s a completely unworkable standard. Human beings are flawed. There has never been a perfectly rational individual. If we were willing to disregard the findings of anyone who held an irrational belief, we’d have to disregard the findings of practically everyone.

      Linus Pauling’s beliefs about Vitamin C were irrational. But I don’t hear anyone arguing that he should have been stripped of his Nobel Prize in chemistry because of it. Fred Hoyle said some really dumb things about biology, but no one is arguing that we should therefore reject stellar nucleosynthesis.

      We can criticize someone’s irrational beliefs while still acknowledging that the importance of their work.

      It’s a shame Newton wasn’t an atheist, because then he’d have absolutely no irrational beliefs.

      Obviously being an atheist doesn’t stop someone from holding irrational beliefs. It certainly didn’t stop Linus Pauling and Fred Hoyle from having irrational beliefs.

      Who said that atheists can never hold irrational beliefs? I’m pretty sure that Hemant never said that. I don’t think that any of the commenters of this post have said that either.

      • Darius Johnson

        > Who has said this? This isn’t what the original post argued for. And I haven’t seen any commenter here say that we should treat public figures who hold irrational beliefs in the exact same was an we treat public figures who have behaved immorally.

        I quoted from the article. If you didn’t read it, that’s on you.

        • Anathema

          No, you didn’t quote from the article. I just reread the article. It doesn’t say anything like that.

          • Darius Johnson

            Hahahahahaha, they removed it. What a whiny baby.

    • Drakk

      It’s a shame Newton wasn’t an atheist, because then he’d have absolutely no irrational beliefs.

      You mean aside from all the stuff about alchemy?

      • Darius Johnson

        Yeah, if he was an atheist he never would have believed in that!!!

  • mavp

    So, now atheists are capitalizing devil, as well as god?

    • Fred

      It is a proper noun.

      • mavp

        Yeah, I’m aware of that. Thanks for stating the obvious. Of course, we could discuss why it’s only a proper noun when referring to the Christian mythology. Could it be that English has been dominated by Christianity?

        An English speaker would never capitalize god when referring to Savitr, or capitalize devil when referring to Anubis, right? No, it’s only done when referring to the Christian one-true-religion.

        If, as an atheist, you choose to honor that ridiculously biased grammatical rule, so be it. I’m simply pointing out that I think it’s ridiculously shameful that an atheist would.

        • Fred

          “Thanks for stating the obvious. ”

          You’re welcome.

          “Could it be that English has been dominated by Christianity?”

          Yeah, I’m aware of that. Thanks for stating the obvious. (just about all western civilizations)

          “An English speaker would never capitalize god when referring to Savitr, or capitalize devil when referring to Anubis, right? No, it’s only done when referring to the Christian one-true-religion.”

          They’re also titles, so yeah they should be capitalized too.

          “I’m simply pointing out that I think it’s ridiculously shameful that an atheist would.”

          Thankfully there’s no atheist pope to create those rules. You seem to be grinding such a large axe for such small potatoes.

          • mavp

            Language is used to dominate. There is a case going on right now in Malaysia, in which the courts have ordered that the word allah, which simply means god, can only be used to refer to the Muslim god. (never mind that it’s the same god the Christians and Jews worship).

            But, here you see a contemporary action that is very similar to the English grammatical rules established so long ago. The language is being used to dominate, and you’re choosing to go along with it.

            • Fred

              You Have Convinced Me.

              dOWN wITH tHE tYRANNY oF cAPITALIZATION!!!!!

              • mavp

                Well, now you’re just being an immature ass.

                • Fred

                  Immature ass? Over an issue as puerile as capitalization?

                  LOL,You started with the snark nimrod.
                  Untwist your panties and go fuck off.

  • Spanks

    “It’s the fact that a grown man, in a position of serious power, would believe in something that’s utter nonsense.”
    The fact that you consider this surprising is surprising. We’re all stupid, flawed humans. And Scalia, despite some of his insane beliefs, is actually brilliant. Far, far, far brilliant than you or me. And he has some great opinions on criminal procedure. Lampoon him for his ideological beliefs concerning the law, not religion. It’s originalism, not Catholicism, that is to blame. Kennedy probably believed in the devil too, ya know…

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Originalism isn’t actually a thing. It’s a rationalization, and Scalia uses it to rationalize his decisions, not to inform them.

  • TommyBenz

    I had a very similar response to that CNN article. People throw around the word respect and it’s not something that should be thrown around. Respect is earned, not freely given. You don’t get respect for your beliefs when they aren’t aligned with evidence. Agreement of the majority doesn’t mean your beliefs should be respected.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I have a great deal of sympathy for people with bad beliefs, because so many of them simply haven’t become aware of the huge amount of information available. I certainly wasn’t always reasonably aware of how information is manipulated to get people foaming so they tune in/vote as desired. I’ve gotten several people who used to fall for anything to the point where they perform Google and Snopes checks whenever something starts to outrage them, and now they’re encouraging other people to do it also. Sometimes all it takes is showing them that the tools exist. And if they appear to have good intentions but are misled, I try to respect them also. (I’m sure I’ve failed at this before, though.) But when someone tries to use their ignorance as a bludgeon… that runs their Respect and Sympathy Counters to zero almost instantly. What they’re doing is trying to take their intellectual insecurity out on others so they can feel better for a few moments.

      To those people: by all means, feel insecure about what you do and don’t know; that’s perfectly normal, and everyone understands. But it’s YOUR issue, not something you get to palm off emotionally.

      • TommyBenz

        By looking at the psychology of belief (check it out on youtube if you haven’t. It’s a several part series, about an hour total), it’s very easy to be empathetic towards people with bad beliefs. The reality is our brains are wired in such a way that once something sticks in our brains, at a certain time in our lives (early childhood – adolescence), it’s difficult to get it out. But, I don’t have sympathy when people like Michele Bachmann for example, spew clearly delusional information and aren’t conversationally burned at the stake. Clearly, no physical harm should befall them, but we need to be able to say, look this chick is nuts. Whether you believe in god or not, you have to admit that she has lost her mind and should not be in any position of power. Either she is shamelessly pandering to evangelical christians, or she does not have the mental capacity pursuant with the post she holds.

        She’s not the only one, and I don’t mean to pick on her (actually I totally do). There are a lot of crazies out there.

  • Michael D Barber

    Many Americans are dumber than we give them credit. As a matter of fact there is empirical proof of that fact.

  • jimmyt

    Documents have been found outlining Christianities beginnings as Roman propaganda used to pacify the conquered Jews.

    Anyone still believing in this ancient garbage should not be allowed to vote, much less have any positions in government.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I saw that article. It’s far too early to cite as evidence. Even if true, it might be years before it’s useful to cite outside of academic discussions.

      Be especially wary because the concept reads like a conspiracy theory, and one that conveniently happens to support our general position.

    • Daniel Maldonado

      Jimmy,

      I wouldn’t put too much hope in those documents, but your bias wants to put hope in them. I can tell you what they’ll amount to, they’ll amount to pretty much what all of the others amounted to, nothing but hype, marketing, and nonsense.

      I find it ironic that those who came up with a voting system in the first place believed in something like what you call “ancient garbage,” does that make the voting system “ancient garbage” as well?

    • Anathema

      No one has found documents that demonstrate that Christianity had its origins in a Roman conspiracy to pacify the Jews.

      Recently, Joseph Atwill, who refers to himself as a “Biblical scholar” despite the fact that he doesn’t have a degree in any relevant field, put out a press release declaring that he had discovered a “confession” from the Romans saying that they had had invented Jesus. By “confession,” Atwill refers to some incredibly dubious parallels between the Gospel narratives and Josephus’s account of the First Jewish War. Atwill thinks that these alleged parallels prove that the four canonical gospels and Josephus’s account of the First Jewish War were constructed by a small group of Roman elites who decided to leave these parallels in Josephus’s account of the First Jewish War in order to let future generations know that they were responsible for creating Christianity. And, apparently, they hid these parallels so well that no one ever noticed them until Joseph Atwill came along.

      I hope that I don’t have to explain to you just how far-fetched and nonsensical Joseph Atwill’s ideas are. But if you need further explanation, Richard Carrier, Robert M. Price, and Tom Verenna have thoroughly deconstructed Atwill’s claims.

      But let’s pretend for a moment that there actually were documents that proved that Christianity was the product of a Roman conspiracy. That would not make it okay for us to deny Christians the right to vote or to hold positions in the government. You don’t get to deny someone the ability to exercise their rights simply because they believe in something that you think is dumb. In the United States, we have this thing called the separation of church and state. Denying someone the ability to hold public office based on their religious beliefs is prohibited by our Constitution.

  • Daniel Maldonado

    The one thing that stands out in this post is its lack of friendliness. What also stands out is the sense that I get from your criticism of Scalia and his belief in the devil.

    I’m a Catholic and he’s right, it’s a basic belief in Catholic doctrine to believe in “the devil.” But what you fail to realize is that it is not within the boundaries of this doctrine to ascribe certain physical characteristics to “the devil” or to ascribe a certain way in which the devil exists except what we find in Sacred Scripture, which isn’t much.

    As much as we know the “devil” or “lucifer” is a spiritual being and how he works into economy of the supernatural can only be explained by the influence of evil in the world today.

    Is he an individual who is walking around with horns making people do bad things? Probably not. As a Catholic I believe that there is a spiritual being who is the embodiment of evil and who, like a created being, gave into the temptation of pride and has been the source of that evil.

    He was the first, even before Adam and Eve, to sin, hence Jesus’ name for the devil, “The Father of Lies.”

    All that being said, I don’t much care if you don’t like that I or anyone else, whether they’re in a position of power or not, because it certainly falls under the category of faith for us.

    • RowanVT

      It must be really awkward to have your loving, omnipotent God being the creator of the embodiment of evil, knowing it would be the embodiment of evil.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        Not really. Given that I believe God created beings who could freely choose to love or to not love, I find no awkwardness with my belief.

        • RowanVT

          So you’re fine with God, before creating people, choosing to create evil? Why did he need to make *evil*?

          • Daniel Maldonado

            Evil is the absence of good. Free will allows for those who were created good to choose evil or rather relinquish their duty to be good.

    • Drakk

      As much as we know

      Well that is very little, because you have no evidence. Faith isn’t knowledge.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        “As much as we know…” as in what we have deduced from Sacred Scripture.

        The knowledge of the devil comes from our belief that the Sacred Scriptures are authoritatively the word of God.

      • Daniel Maldonado

        Do you know not take it on faith that other minds exist other than your own? Or that what our senses tell us accurately tells us what reality is?

        As such, do you take those things to be knowledge proper since you believe them without a doubt?

  • Eldergothfather

    I think when it becomes clear that your cheese has slipped off your cracker, your position in a life-long job needs to seriously be rethought. If someone in his position were to begin to display signs of alzheimers and did not know better to recuse themselves off the bench then a decision needs to be made by the person that had the power to seat a supreme court justice. And while this is not alzheimers, it shows a serious delusion of reality and one that should give others pause in allowing him to continue in the highest court in the land.

  • atheismFTW

    “I do not offer evidence of the devil, just a proposition for secularists and atheists:Even if you do not believe as people of faith do, respect their right to believe and hold opinions informed by belief.”

    So we are to never speak our minds against someone’s belief in the devil simply because it is a supernatural one of which there is no hard evidence for? We are to stay silent, passively promoting this cockamamie superstition? I wonder if the people who believe this also think that we should respect others’ rights to believe in the boogeyman and headless horseman. Shucks, even Scooby Doo and the gang knew that ghosts were human creations.

  • nosidam

    Eternity is never ending. Hope you enjoy hell because once you get there you are stuck. I would rather err on the side of belief anyday of the week. The invisible world exists whether you believe it it not. Have fun suffering forever!


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