Some atheist readers were offended…

at my reader for noting that it was two Catholic women who came to the aid of Lee Rigby while a bunch of cowards stood around doing nothing and taking pictures on their cell cams.

One of them does the standard sleight-of-hand trick of saying, in essence, “The murderers were Muslim, and by Muslim, I mean Christian”. This is magicked by the expedient of reducing all acts of Islamic violence to the work of “religion” and then declaring “religion” to refer to Christianity. He writes:

To imply that organized religious has furnished these people with the mental, physical courage to perform these acts of kindness to a fellow human being, seems a bit big; under the circumstances. The countless acts of barbarity and cruelty perpetrated worldwide every day, in the name of god, does not support this theory. Furthermore, was this very act of inhuman depravity not also committed under the cries of ‘God is great’, even if uttered in Arabic?

In short, if you’ve seen one religion, you’ve seen ’em all.

Ye Olde Statistician replies to this wooly-minded act of intellect worship vs. intellect use so common among the internet atheists:

The claim was not made for “religion” (whatever that is) but for Catholicism.  Nor was it claimed that every nominal adherent of Catholicism will rise to the occasion any more than every nominal adherent of science will make a great discovery.  (Think normal distribution: some people will be in the tails.)  So what is remarkable is not that every Catholic approached the jihadis but that only Catholics approached the jihadis, where by random chance drawing from the British population you would have expected at least one to be non-Catholic.

It is sort of amazing to me that somebody would be surprised that a civilization which teaches that getting laid and being safe and well-fed are the highest goods should tend to produce people who behave like these are, in fact, the highest goods when met with a life-threatening challenge. And so the majority of Britons–a product of just such a culture–behaved in exactly the way their ruthless secular cultural environment taught them to behave and saw no reason to stick their necks out for a stranger.

It’s equally amazing that that an atheist who believes in the Prophet Darwin (pbuh) would be offended by the fact that a religious tradition that teaches there are higher goods than getting laid and being safe and well-fed would tend to produce people who act as though there are higher goods worth dying for, such as the love of neighbor typified in the parable of the Good Samaritan and Jesus who laid down his life for us.

It is, ironically, a positively Darwinian outcome and yet Darwinians can’t seem to grasp it. Instead, they whine about wanting to recognized as “moral people”.  Dudes: You can’t spend Monday through Saturday constantly drilling into people’s heads that they are cattle whose only true goods are bread and rutting and then expect that, on Sunday, those people will suddenly see some reason throw away the highest good they know for something so abstract and (as you constantly insist) ridiculous as “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lays down his life for his friends”.  That religious martyrdom jazz is for suckers, don’t you remember?  You can’t have it both ways.  If there are no transcendent goods beyond the sensory pleasures of the organism, expecting a bunch of secular Brits formed on TV, consumerism, and the Nanny State to suddenly grow a pair is magical saltationism of the highest order.  Those people standing around with cell cams are your legacy, atheists.  Own them.  It’s natural selection at work just as you have always insisted it works.

Meanwhile, Christians believe in supernatural selection too.  That’s why the Tradition speaks of the Elect.  Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, Amanda Donnelly, and her daughter are among them, by virtue of their baptism: A baptism they lived out admirably in obedience to Jesus who told them to be willing to risk their lives for a stranger.

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  • AquinasMan

    Great post. If I consider that I might be reticent to approach a man with a bloody hatchet, I have to remind myself that, as a baptized adopted son of Christ, I don’t get to choose my response. We’re all drafted into an army that tells us the highest good is to lay down our life for our neighbor… I pray that I would have the same courage as these noble women. Then again, that’s grace in action.

    • Fr. D

      “We’re all drafted into an army that tells us the highest good is to lay down our life for our neighbor”
      I am stealing this line for a homily

      • AquinasMan

        Be my guest 🙂

    • Joseph

      This is the point of the article. Whereas, what does the army that the new atheist is drafted into look like? The faces of the most glorious atheists who have actually reached atheist zen by taking their belief system to its logical end then acting on them… shall I list them?

      An atheist who isn’t filming the wild hacking and beheading of an innocent person in the streets instead of helping him simply is not being loyal to their beliefs. An atheist who does is acting on the goodness in him of which Pope Francis speaks.

      • AquinasMan

        Um…. What?

  • Imp the Vladaler

    If there are no transcendent goods beyond the sensory pleasures of the
    organism, expecting a bunch of secular Brits formed on TV, consumerism,
    and the Nanny State to suddenly grow a pair is magical saltationism of
    the highest order.

    Gosh, now I’m really confused. Because here in these United States, we call people formed on the Nanny State “the 47%.” But they’re not to be criticized, and if you do, you’re a rapacious capitalist Randtard who disagrees with Francis.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Just because some wingnuts used the words “Nanny State” to unfairly tar a large percentage of the population doesn’t mean that the real Nanny State doesn’t exist.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        Mitt Romney: wingnut.

        What color is the sky in your world?

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Wingnut is as wingnut does. Ron Paul is politically further out on the fringe than Romney, but he never accused nearly half the country of being freeloaders. Which is crazier?

    • chezami

      You seem to be hearing voices, egging you on to cry “Gotcha!” in response to imaginary words nobody but you has said. You should have that looked at.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        Do you read your own posts, Mark? You just got done using Romney’s “47%” remark (again) to unfairly mischaracterize many economic conservatives. Now you use equally broad terms (“the Nanny State”) that describes the same phenomenon as a pejorative.

        It’s okay for Mark Shea to point out that it’s bad to be “formed on the Nanny State,” This, of course, is worlds apart from characterizing those who don’t contribute to the functioning of the government as “takers,” which is bad, you Randian idiot. Because, well, Capital Letters.

        • Dan F.

          2nd verse, same as the 1st…

        • chezami

          You do realize that the US is not the UK, right? You also realize that it was Romney who was the one characterizing economic conservatives with his 47% remark since, as Ross Douthat pointed out, that remark was, like all of Romney’s intellectual tofu, calculated to reflect what he thought that roomful of economic conservative most deeply believe and wanted to hear.

  • Pete the Greek

    “And so the majority of Britons–a product of just such a culture–behaved in exactly the way their ruthless secular cultural environment taught them to behave and saw no reason to stick their necks out for a stranger.”

    Having read a bit about how people react when faced with a truly horrific incident, I wouldn’t quite brand all those who didn’t do anything as cowards.

    There could also have been other Catholics there that also did nothing. Such a lack of action doesn’t necessarily mean they were thinking simply about rutting and eating. The simple fact is that in a truly horrific incident like this, involving death or a horrendous accident, a lot of people, particularly those who have never thought about exactly what they would do in such a situation, can and DO freeze up.

    This is part of the reason why in self defense training, as well as for police training, not only are you taught to shoot, but drilled on mindset, forced to think and imagine EXACTLY how you would behave in a situation and practice simulated situations in as close to a real life setup as possible. Simply put, if you don’t drill yourself, or have above average cool, there is a VERY good chance you will seize up in such situations.

    Additionally: beyond the idea that “All that is good is just eating and rutting”, there comes a very real force at work in Great Britain and even being pushed in the US (Yes, even by some Catholics, particularly on places like the NCR): The idea pounded into people by popular culture, teachers and authority figures that “you are incapable of doing anything for yourself in such a situation. Indeed, if you DO become involved, there is a VERY high risk that YOU will be arrested and prosecuted. Leave EVERYTHING to the police. That is only the civilized thing to do.”

    This is a very caustic and indeed evil force (one should remember the people avoiding the person who got killed by the truck in China).

    To wind up, no, I’m not really attacking Mark’s point, but I would be VERY careful about saying that everyone there except the two Catholics were cowards or pure products of ‘eat and rut’ culture. Were many? Perhaps. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the reasons people don’t take action can be varied and actually quite innocent.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Simply put, if you don’t drill yourself, or have above average cool,
      there is a VERY good chance you will seize up in such situations.

      But the majority didn’t seize up. They stood around and took video with their phones while a man was butchered to death in front of them. That’s not doing nothing. It’s despicable.

      • Joseph

        It was brave for those non-Catholics to pick up the phones and start filming the gruesome event, hoping to post it on YouTube to get some hits… such is the world of according to new atheism.

      • Pete the Greek

        Seizing up =/= Standing still. It can also mean simply being passive. Try researching this a bit like I have.

        Look, I’m not trying to defend inaction. What I’m saying is that before we start patting ourselves on the back for being Catholics, whose Church rightly teaches self sacrifice, and we would totally rush to save the day, unlike those publicans over there, we might stop to realize that people not jumping right in doesn’t mean they’re obsessed with eating and effing. There are a LOT of things that go on.

        What about you? Can you say with 100% confidence that you would square your shoulders and charge right in, (given the crowd here, probably unarmed) against TWO homicidal, knife wielding murderers who were obviously intent on further killing (they waited for the cops and attacked them)? Because if you say 100% yes to that, I say you lie. No, you don’t know that. And this is NOT an attack upon your character, this is simply recognizing that neither you nor I have been in such a situation. If we were, I would pray God give us the strength, physical and moral, to do that, but we’re weak men, do we REALLY know we’d do that?

        If you REALLY want to get down to it, passive inaction tends to happen a LOT in gruesome attacks. You don’t find a lot of people, ESPECIALLY UNARMED PEOPLE, moving in to close and engage with a hostile. Exactly how many adults tried to stop the Columbine killers? None that we know of. How about other mass shootings or mass attacks on innocents? The ONLY case I know of is the civilian that attacked the shooter who attack Giffords when his mag cased his Glock to jam. That’s ONE unarmed person out of those attacks. And America is supposed to be more religious than Europe.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    The most dogmatic people I’ve ever met are atheists I’ve met on blogs.

    “God does not exist. I’ve proved it to you. Are you stupid or something?”


    “If God made a spear that could pierce anything, and God made a shield that could never be pierced – how then can you explain that?”

    “Do these objects exist? If they don’t exist, why are they a problem for God or anybody else?”

    “I’ve explained that to you. Weren’t you paying attention? God does not exist. That’s definite.”

    Round and round we go.

    Mind like a roach motel. Ideas go in and never come out.

    • Joseph

      Seems like some are short circuiting when reading this post as well… not grasping the meaning.

  • Spectrall

    It’s hard to treat a claim that Catholics behave better, on average, than non-religious people seriously when the only evidence offered is a single anecdote. Do they behave better on average? Perhaps. I don’t know. It’d surprise me, but plenty of things have surprised me in the past.

    • Joseph

      Don’t think that was the point, do you?

      • Spectrall

        I don’t think there is a point if that’s not it. Seems like just general chest-thumpery. Then again, your post above kind of indicates that’s what you’re into.

        • Joseph

          Hmmm… so lemme get this straight. It’s not chest-thumpery (new to my vocabulary, thank you), when an atheist makes the dreaded “religions of the world have killed millions” claim from the internet combox rooftops, but it *is* chest-thumpery when a Catholic decides to challenge said atheist on that flailing, desperate argument and point out that religious atheists are guilty of more murders of innocents than any group at any point of human history. Gotcha. Duly noted right here… in my… notebook. Don’t want to get all thumpery now. Where’d you learn that, from “Bonanza”?

          • Spectrall

            I’m personally disinclined to argue that there’s a causal link between good or bad behavior and religion or lack thereof. Such an argument can probably be constructed, but it doesn’t start or end with “look at this nice thing someone from my religion did!”.

            Your post is absolutely riddled with logical fallacies, it seems like it’s barely a response to anything that I wrote at all. I don’t get the Bonanza reference, but maybe it’s clever?

            • Ye Olde Statistician

              I’m personally disinclined to argue that there’s a causal link between good or bad behavior and religion or lack thereof.

              Although there does seem to be between “religion” and the idea that something is good or bad. Stanley Fish, no theist he, noted that on the NYTimes blog a while back: one always winds up smuggling religious notions into secular theories by the back door and under an assumed name. That used to infuriate Nietzsche, who regarded Anglophone atheism as utterly contaminated by Christian thought.

              Voltaire, also not a theist, did not believe in God, but wanted his butler to do so, because he thought he would be robbed less often.

              Traditional Christians have no problem with the notion of the Natural Law and the idea that even the heathens have the law “written in their hearts.” This puts BrandonUB in the peculiar position of agreeing with St. Paul, St. Thomas, and other Catholic thinkers while disagreeing with Sartre, Voltaire, Rousseau, Rorty, Rosenburg, and other atheists. Go figure.

              • Spectrall

                Dang, you’ve listed philosophers! That’s an argument! Wait, no it’s not. You quoted me then didn’t bother to address what you were quoting.

                • Joseph

                  Lol… the telltale sign of a *new* atheist. Rejecting the most important atheist philosophers and philosophy (though, ironically you claim that one of my comments was riddled with “logical fallacies”. Not sure how a philosophy reject like yourself can make such an accusation, unless you’re just another one of those internet combox antagonists that has picked up a few fancy words by and by. So you reject the great atheist philosophers and those great atheist leaders who put their philosophy into practice by murdering and torturing millions… sneaking out through the back door, eh?

                  New atheists will never *own* up to anything, they are merely intellectually lazy.

                  • Spectrall

                    I’ve not rejected philosophers – I’ve rejected the idea that listing philosophers is an argument. That you’d rather prattle endlessly about philosophers than try to actually argue against anything I’ve actually written says something about you, but nothing about me.

                    • missing

                      I’ll take a stab at it:
                      Let’s start from the beginning:

                      “It’s hard to treat a claim that Catholics behave better, on average, than non-religious people” and
                      “someone stating that there’s not a difference in goodness of believers and nonbelievers.”

                      First, we MUST define ‘better’. Otherwise we will continue to go in circles. To do this, we need to find a fixed scale on which to weigh our actions. In addition, this scale must be absolute, and not relative. I hope and pray that you can see the reasons why a Moral Relative scale are doomed to fail. If not, we can work on that later.

                      In any case for Christians, we have the teachings of Christ, specifically the two greatest commandments: Love God, and Love Neighbor on the “Good” end, and rejection of these commandments on the “Bad” end of the spectrum, with a large gap between them.



                      Atheists, by definition, reject this moral standard. What do you substitute for it? If you put in some moral code that you just made up, or that ‘feels’ right to you, then you are a moral relativist, which IMO is worse than Atheism, and we can have no further dialogue. But if you believe that there is some absolute truth, or some absolute code to weigh our actions against, then we can continue to explore what that may be.

                      So, Brandon, what is on the “Good” end, and what is on the “Bad” end of your spectrum? This needs to be clarified before we can continue to discuss ‘better’ people.

                      But in the meantime, I will leave with a nugget: People have the desire to love and be loved written on their hearts. Explore your own heart when a friend asks you to do a favor, your initial reaction will be that you want to help them, because they are your friend. This is fraternal love. The difference here is that Christians have a friend who asks us DAILY to become ‘better’ people, according to the Christian spectrum that I outlined above. We have more opportunities to review our position on this scale, because it is well defined, and because we hopefully have the desire to move closer to holiness.

                      Atheists do not have this ‘friend’ who constantly asks of them to be better people, and they do not have a well defined scale, and they do not have any incentive to progress further to the ‘good’ end of the scale.
                      While all of this does not guarantee that Christians on average behave ‘better’, it is a more clear and defined moral standpoint, where Atheist morality is all over the place. “Good” to a lot of atheists merely means you haven’t killed anyone yet. There is not much desire to get ‘Better’ than this because this widely considered ‘enough’.

                    • Spectrall

                      Feel free to set the criteria you like for “better”. I’ll grant that it’s hard to have a valid objective standard, but there’s numerous conditions that most people would happily agree on, regardless of how they arrive at them – crime rates, violence rates, education rate, divorce rate and others are things that most people would agree are consistent with being “good”. I’m not terribly interested in engaging with someone that doesn’t buy that avoiding murder is a good thing.

                      Are atheists more or less likely to commit murders? Commit acts of violence? Get divorced? Get an education? Contribute to the societies they belong to? I suspect that for each, the differences are pretty minor.

                      I suppose if you made a tautological definition of “good” in which someone’s only good if they’re religious, atheists will fail badly. If, instead, the yardstick that’s used are those that the vast majority of people would agree on, I don’t think you’ll find any significant differences.

                    • missing

                      It is not hard to have an objective standard though. In fact, we have had a most amazing, brilliant, and elegant one for thousands of years, the 10 commandments. These are divinely inspired to be accessible to the common man, while still being deeply theological, intellectual, and challenging.

                      There have been volumes written about each of these, and many teachings based on Christs’ summary of them that we hear from the pulpits regularly.

                      In short, I am not arguing that the average Christian is ‘better’ than the average Atheist. In the grand scheme of things, that is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether YOU (each of us, as individuals) are a ‘good’ person, which includes striving to be ‘better’.

                      And in this arena, the path forward for Atheists is extremely ambiguous, subject to no authority, and ultimately will be based on some religion’s moral code in the end.
                      The path forward for Christians is much much clearer, well defined, objective, and subject to the authority of Love which includes absolute notions of Good and Evil.

                      So, i’m not saying that Christians ARE better than Atheists, I’m saying that it is EASIER for Christians to improve their moral, ethical, and spiritual life.
                      Can Atheists improve? Of course! but first they must define their standard and put their faith in its morality. If not, they are building their morality on ever-shifting quicksand and will struggle to stay afloat.

                      So this talk of Christians on Average vs Atheists on Average is really quite counterproductive. When you compare yourself to others, you are setting yourself up to become judgmental or to become envious, which is a deadly sin, and actually detract you from becoming more ‘good’ (in the Christian sense of the word)

                      Ultimately what matters is that YOU continue to move towards the ‘good’ end of the spectrum (unless your moral code is Survival of the Fittest, in which the “Good” simply means to survive at any cost, not to become more ‘good’ in the compassionate sense of the word).

                    • Joseph

                      If you don’t think those philosophers are important to your worldview, then you are not an atheist, especially when you end up contradicting them in your diatribes. What this shows is that you are merely an intellectually lazy byproduct of pop culture. A mere anti-theist who *wants* to believe that he doesn’t believe in God, but while shouting at Him to go away you simultaneously want to believe that a system without Him (the atheist system you know so little about) still retains the best things about Him. Having your cake and eating it too.

            • missing

              In addition to what Ye Olde Statistician said, I would point out what ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behavior means. It HAS to mean something that is not defined by humanity, because otherwise it is completely relative. For Atheism, I propose that it is the law of the Jungle, aka Survival of the Fittest, aka “Do What’s Best for Yourself”. For Christianity, it is the divine teachings of Jesus. Both of these are outside humanity, and thus are not relative, but absolute moral guidelines.

              I understand that Atheism rejects the divine nature of Jesus and attributes him as a normal man and thus, relative morality to his teachings, but in practice these teachings really do bring about not only the best and most pure and complete Love for neighbor(aka humanity), but also for yourself. Following them can lead you to personal fulfillment, which from my time as an Atheist, I was left extremely hollow by the empty models of Science and mere survival as a moral doctrine.

              • Spectrall

                I’m continually amazed at the bizarre rants that follow from someone stating that there’s not a difference in goodness of believers and nonbelievers. Think there is? Make an argument for it rather than handwaving nonsensically.

              • Joseph

                Hehehe… but you see, we are arguing against *new* atheists. They have no shred of intellectual honesty when it comes to atheism. They speak in total ignorance when it comes to their complaints about religion (ironically, they often come to the defence of Islam and focus their attacks on Christianity, most specifically Catholicism). This isn’t entirely their fault, just that they make a conscious effort to receive their history lessons from those with *like minds*, the new atheist mind, not the learned atheists (those Ye Old Stat listed in one of his comments).

                And what does this deep contradiction in their so-called atheist philosophy reveal (the contradiction of having a moral base from the Christian culture in which they were raised included in their personal, highly individually formed, and uneducated opinions while pretending to completely reject that Christianity)? Intellectual dishonesty. Wantingtto have cake and eat it too. A clear *anti-theism* vs. a true atheism. Anti-Christianism, specifically anti-Catholicism. But atheism it is not. It betrays a belief in God that they can’t shake so they lash out at Him.

          • bob

            Joseph, do you have a source for your argument that “atheists are guilty of more murders of innocents than any group at any point of human history”? I’m not saying you’re wrong but I’d sure like to know who’s keeping score.

            • Joseph

              History. Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler to start (those combined already dominate the field).

  • Joseph

    Sounds like those atheists were also making their usual fatal mistake of initiating a *body count* comparison when bringing up the atrocities of religion… for it is the religion of Atheism that has produced more murders of innocents in human history… in one century alone!

    Silly Atheists, Trix are for kids (wait for it… the, “By Golly, I done ain’t seen nuthin’ bout no atheists killin’ millions of in’cint folk on the Discovery or History Channel, an I done watched it all the time, if’n includin’ readin’ ol’ Hitchens”… because to the new atheist, history began when their mother first plopped them in front of the telly at the fresh age of three and realised what an excellent babysitter it was).

    • EddieShakes

      If you’re referring to that old Hitler, Mao, Stalin canard I’ll remind you of a few things.

      1)Hitler was a Catholic

      2)Jospeh Stalin killed those millions of people during the Great Purge for political reasons.

      3) Chairman Mao killed his millions during the Chinese Cultural Revolution also for political reasons.

      If you want to throw “facts” around try to be at least somewhat accurate.

      • James H, London

        1) Really? I never knew – why, I bet his writings are full of quotations from Papal encyclicals (esp. that one written by Pius XII), scripture references and stories of the saints; after all, Mein Kampf was dedicated to the Pope, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?

        2) One of those political reasons being, religion was poison and had to be eradicated from public life. Harrassment, torture, summary execution and imprisonment of clergy long outlived Stalin, and continued right up until the Wall fell.

        Please dude, get a grip. The great tyrants of the last century were *all* rabidly anit-Catholic, they *all* wanted total control of people’s lives, and they were *all* roundly praised by atheists in their time.

        Oh, and wikipedia doesn’t count as authoritative.

      • Joseph

        Hitler was a Catholic. He was baptised one and went through the usual Catholic things like Confirmation and First Communion, but in his adult life we know that atheism was his guide. Stalin was Russian Orthodox before he adhered to atheism too. In fact, he even attended seminary, I believe. You were probably a Christian at some point in your life, like most *new* atheists. If you were baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity, you still are one and will be until you die… it’s what’s called an indelible mark. To continue, Lenin was of Jewish descent.

        As far as the wiki motives you decribe (wikipedia, the encyclopedia for lazy people), they don’t do a very good job of describing why those men were so hell-bent (pun intended) to destroy Christianity or subsume it. But their *intentions*, nevertheless, are an extreme digression from the matter at hand: that they were all atheist and that they’ve killed more innocent people than any group in human history carrying out their belief to its fullest.

  • bob

    “Those people standing around with cell cams are your legacy, atheists. Own them.”
    Puh-lease. You know, you were making a perfectly interesting point, and then you had to go and say something as moronic as that.

    Let’s count the ways:

    1. The people standing around watching, for all we know, may have been just as religious as the women who helped, or more so. We don’t know who they were. By what set of facts do you presume to assign those nitwits to Team Atheist?

    2. The women who helped, bless them — do we know whether they are really practicing Catholics, or how practicing they are? I haven’t read the details but a lot of all-but-ex-Catholics call themselves Catholic in the same way I call myself Irish-German: It’s my heritage but I’ve never actually been to either place.

    3. You’re making an awful lot of hay out of what strikes me as a coincidence. OK, so the majority of Britons are non-Catholic. I guess it’s mildly surprising, then, that he was aided by Catholics. But, so what, really? He could have been walking past a church as mass was letting out. He might have been in a Catholic neighborhood. Any number of things could explain a coincidence, and even if nothing can — it’s still just a coincidence, not a sign.

    4. All religions are not the same, of course, but it wasn’t THAT long ago that Christianity was also enamored with the idea that everyone had to convert or die an infidel’s death. Islam is a few hundred years younger than Christianity and is a few hundred years behind in its process of reconciling itself to civilization.

    • Joseph

      First of all, number 4, there is Christianity which includes the myriad of Protestant sects, Orthodox, and Catholic. Orhodox and Catholics are the only two that have a legitimate apostolic link and the post is specific to the actions of Catholics narrowing it down further. What you’ll have to show is where the Catholic Church (and not the State or churchmen acting on their own behalf for whatever reason) in obedience to the Faith slew those who would not convert to Catholicism for this point to hold any weight at all. Secondly, as those who adhere to Islam are still chopping off people’s heads, cutting out their hearts and biting into them, executing them in rows with AK-47s, participating in violent protests by the thousands which result in harm and death of innocents every time some moron draws a Muhammed cartoon, all vainly capturing these images on film while chanting “Allahu Akbar” and posting them on YouTube while Catholics protest in a civil manner when phony *artists* create crucified Christs with exposed chocolate genitals, the second part of your point crumbles as well. A few hundred years behind yet a couple of millenia later there is one group that has yet to grow out of its nubile stage when it was slaying early Christians in the holy land?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      it wasn’t THAT long ago that Christianity was also enamored with the
      idea that everyone had to convert or die an infidel’s death.

      When was that?

      • bob

        The Crusades ran for about about 500 years, beginning in 1095. The first was declared by Pope Urban, and Popes declared crusades with regularity in the centuries that followed, sometimes against ordinary peasants just for failing to tithe.
        Here’s a wiki about them:

        • Andrew Brew

          Don’t know much history, do you, Bob? Yes, Christians have been involved in wars, just like everybody else. Inviting people to “convert or die” was not part of the deal. Ever. And crusades against peasants for failing to tithe? Ah. something you read in Wikipedia, I see. What were the circumstances, I wonder. Can you help us out? Shouting “crusades!” and running away does not count as argument.

          • bob

            Good grief, this like arguing with holocaust deniers. Here are the circumstances:
            “Between 1232 and 1234, there was a crusade against the Stedingers. It was proclaimed against peasants who refused to pay tithes to the Archbishop of Bremen. The archbishop excommunicated them, and Pope Gregory IX declared a crusade in 1232. The peasants lost the Battle of
            Altenesch on 27 May 1234 and were destroyed.”
            — the Routledge Companion to the Crusades, page 195

            • Andrew Brew

              Except that I am not denying the holocaust. What a vile insinuation – you should be ashamed of yourself. Nor was I denying the (entirely irrelevant) crusades. What I was denying was your false assertion that Christians were ever “enamored with the idea that everyone had to convert or die”. YOS asked you very politely to elaborate (i.e. provided a shred of support). We’re still waiting.

              • bob

                You asked, concerning the Crusades against peasants: “What were the circumstances, I wonder. Can you help us out?” In response, I have provided you direct quotes to a well-sourced and fully footnoted article, as well the actual page number of a history text, available on Amazon, where you can get even more. If this doesn’t count as a “shred of support,” then tell me what does.

                As for the “convert or die,” remark — let’s put it this way. The Crusaders were mostly interested in killing their enemies (defined as members of another religion) and claiming their lands for Christianity. It’s fair to say they didn’t actually give them a chance to convert. So, I guess you have a point. But it’s fair to say that from roughly the year 1000 to well into the 1700s, the Catholic Church in particular (but also Protestants, after the Reformation) engaged in various kinds of violence to root out heretics and to punish them. You can split hairs on these points if you wish but there is no point denying the basic truths; they are very well documented.

                My point in raising it in the first place is simply this: today’s jihadists are not much different from the inquisitors of centuries past — self-appointed religious judges who grant themselves the power to murder in the name of God.

                • Joseph

                  Did you get these notions from WikiCrusades, Dan Brown, The History Channel (where, by their own advert admission, “Truth.Lies.Here.”), or from playing too much Assassin’s Creed?

                • Andrew Brew


                  I understand the point you thought you were making. I’m waiting for you to back it up with something other than louder assertion. When you were challenged on your original statement your response was to change the subject to the crusades, apparently on the assumption that they were an exercise in “convert or die”. You have now admitted that that was false, but change the subject again to say that they were all about killing members of other religions and taking their land. This is equally false, and equally irrelevant to your original assertion. You then go on to fling another handful of code-words: “inquisition”, “heretic”, “murder in the name of God”, and run away again.

                  To my wondering about the circumstances of the Stedinger crusade you did not tell us the circumstances, or even demonstrate that you knew any more than the few words you had lifted from an article by Some Anonymous Guy on the Internet. Instead, you gave us a few more words lifted from an article by Some Other Anonymous Guy on the Internet, to the effect that “It did, too, happen, and it’s in a BOOK!”. Big whoop. What I was after was some glimmering of understanding, not a reference to a tertiary source that confirms the bare fact.

                  There is an alternative approach, Bob. If you can’t back up your hasty assertion, withdraw it. Write “I was wrong”. And then go away and read. You are right about one thing – this history is well documented. Read the documents (not Wikipedia) for understanding, rather than for ammunition, and you will be surprised what you learn. It could change your life.

    • missing

      1. Mark presumes to assign those folk to Team Athiest because Team Athiest’s Ultimate Goal is mere survival. And, since interfering with knife weilding maniacs goes against survival of the fittest, it is the pinnacle of Team Athiest philosophy to NOT interfere. Contrast this with Christianity, in which the philosophy is to Love God and Neighbor, emulating Jesus who laid down his life for us, and the pinnacle of Christianity then becomes to value the lives of others before our own.

      2. Irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how ‘Catholic” they are or have been previous to this moment, because in this moment, they personified the pinnacle of Catholic teaching. You can be in line with the Faith in one minute, and in the very next breath be out of line (aka: commit a sin). I know this is possible because I do it myself daily.
      remember, regardless of my choices, Christianity CALLS us to value other’s lives before our own, but it doesn’t FORCE us. Mark did not make a judgement regarding the “Catholicness” of these individuals, you did. Mark merely said that this particular action is a VERY catholic action, and should be emulated by all of the rest of us (including Athiests, who are indeed able to perform good deeds. Thanks for clearing that up Pope Francis!). Contrast this with Athiesm which calls you to survive, which calls you to choose to NOT interfere as the higher moral option.
      But just looking at a set of choices a person has made does not tell you whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. there is capacity in all of us for both. Remember, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future”

      3. Indeed, it is a Co-Incedence that radical jihadists attacked someone, and only Catholics came to the aid of the person being attacked. So? Christianity still CALLS us to aid, where Athiesm CALLS us to avoid aid.

      4. Joseph already covered this one

      To sum:
      Survival of the Fittest. This is why Mark calls Athiests a bunch of cowards. This is extremely evident in the Mohammed cartoons vs Pope/Jesus mockeries. Athiests have to put their lives on the line to fight against Islam, and so they typically bash on Christians or Jews instead, because they know their lives are not in danger.

      • bob

        It doesn’t matter how Catholic they are, because they were acting Catholic “in the moment”? And, likewise, it doesn’t matter whether there were any actual atheists in the crowd of oglers, because the ogling itself was a very atheist-y hing to do, so, same difference, really? So even if the oglers were all lifetime Catholics on their way to an Opus Dei convention and the women who helped were pro-abort pro-gay marriage lapsed Catholics, the point here is that, in the moment, the oglers were all a bunch of selfish cowardly atheists and the helpers were awesome Catholics. Is that about what you’re saying?
        Isn’t it great when you can make a point without having to concern yourself with the actual facts?

        • Shellic

          Actually they were all practicing Catholics which makes the point even sharper: Ingrid Loyau-Kennett said in an interview how her faith had made her respond in the way she did and Amanda Donelly had just come from morning mass. So in fact, when you think about it less than 20% of Catholics in the England are practicing. And less than 10% of the population are Catholics. So the chances of these “angels” being practicing Catholics is TINY and yet that’s what happened.

        • misssing

          Bob, no, the point here is that, even if the helpers were Atheists, I would have hoped that Mark would have still covered this story, instead saying that all we Catholics should aspire to have the courage and moral sense to protect the weak as they did.

          But the FACTS are, some Catholic women helped, not any atheists, and the reason that they stated is because they recently came from Mass in which they were spiritually called to love their neighbor.
          Mark is arguing that atheists are NOT called to help by any sort of authority, and so by natural selection, atheists in the future will evolve to become selfish, self centered, and lacking any compassion for fellow human beings. Some are already there. Thankfully, many are not yet

  • Richard Collins

    I read the account in The Daily Telegraph and, even from the wording, I could tell that the person they were mentioning (the cub scout leader) was a Catholic.
    Sometimes the Faith just shines through.

  • Shellic

    Atheist bystander with cell phone in hand: Note to self – this guy is just a bunch of electrical impulses surrounded by a blob of tissue so no need for me to risk my genes to save him.

  • Shellic

    I also suspect that a lot of atheists who do good works are in fact the product of a Christian upbringing ie their parents, school, society, etc influenced them. What we will see as the West becomes less Christian is that caring legacy diminishing.

  • Ben

    Secularism and consumeristic/materialistic greed have created two generations of feeble minded proletariat caught up in the fantastic array of the modern Roman Coliseum. Though there are man Coliseums, in every major city, and they are not even reduced to the physical structures: look at how man people (especially youth) stroll around the streets like digital zombies, glued to their devices.
    on top of that, pay a visit to your local Wal-Mart or take a ride on the nearby subway/trolley system. Pitiful remnants of a once great society!
    Note: I am in my 20’s.