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Mark Shea's Blog: So That No Thought of Mine, No Matter How Stupid, Should Ever Go Unpublished Again!
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Not to be overly nitpicky, but the expression is “hear, hear,” not “here, here.”
Sigh. If all atheists are accountable for the words and actions of every organization with ‘atheist’ in the name, does that mean that you, Mark Shea, explicitly endorse the words and actions of every organization with ‘Catholic’ in the name? Or that you are in full agreement with all prominent Catholics?
My opinion on this: atheists don’t have a clubhouse and so this action wasn’t agreed on at our last unprayer meeting; it’s important to keep church and state separate (for reasons like this: https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/louisiana-school-agrees-court-order-ending-discriminatory-religious-practices); it’s important to (respectfully) point out the weak beer of the ‘miracle’ that a cross was found in the wreckage of a building made of iron girders riveted at right angles … and this isn’t a fight worth having. People who believe that’s some kind of ‘sign from God’ believe a hundred things even more preposterous and pressing.
Jem: As somebody who has just spent the past week trying to figure out how to blame me and all Catholics for the murder of Bruno and the actions of people who died five centuries ago, I sort of figured you would grasp the concept that when you throw your lot in with a particular group, people do tend–rightly or wrongly–to blame you when members of your group act like jackasses.
‘I sort of figured you would grasp the concept that when you throw your lot in with a particular group,’
You will grasp atheism when you understand that ‘I don’t watch Two and a Half Men’ is not the same as ‘I throw my lot in with all those who don’t watch Two and a Half Men. Like Stalin.’
Yeah, yeah. We are all unique and individual and nothing any other atheist does or thinks involves me at all but you are to blame for actions take 5 centuries ago. Another stupid atheist rhetorical trick. Seen it before.
“you are to blame for actions take 5 centuries ago.”
I don’t think you, as an individual, are to blame for the execution of Bruno. But you took Cosmos personally enough to feel your beliefs were being attacked, and then to blog about it.
And I think there is a double standard at play. If someone counts Chartres Cathedral (1250) or the Sistine Chapel (1480) as achievements of Catholicism, it’s a bit rich to say that Bruno’s execution (1600) or Cardinal Dolan’s paying off abusive priests (2003) doesn’t count because it was all such a long time ago.
Meanwhile, I think it would be absurd of me to take, say, Christopher Marlowe’s murder (1593) personally.
As someone who works in the sciences, I do feel, I suppose, more kinship with Bruno. But he was no atheist, and I certainly don’t feel like you’re on the sixteenth century papacy’s ‘side’ and I’m on the ‘side’ of science. We’re modern people living in the USA. We share, I’d guess, 99% common ground on most issues. If there are ‘sides’, I’m on yours.
“trying to figure out how to blame me and all Catholics for the murder of Bruno” Do I think you, as a Catholic, are complicit? No, of course not. You’d have to be barbaric to subscribe to the notion of collective guilt.
Do I think it’s fair of Cosmos to use Bruno as an example of the Catholic Church punishing those who wrote down ideas they disagreed with? Well, yes, I think it counts, given that he wrote down something they didn’t like and they tortured him and then set him on fire.
Bruno was tortured by the Venetian Inquisition, when that trial was on the verge of collapse he was, at the direct orders of the Vatican, transferred to the Tor di Nona, the Pope’s prison, tried again by the Roman Inquisition and then found guilty of heresy after the direct intervention of the Pope. So, yes, I do think ‘Catholics’ played a part in Bruno’s death.
Do you, personally, believe that Bruno committed a crime? You said you did. Do you believe that the modern papacy is the same institution with the same core values as Bruno’s time? Yes. Would the Vatican set fire to someone for heresy today? No.
Were the Catholic Church quick to abandon the death penalty for heretics? No, they were in fact the last Christian group to do so, the last heretic was executed in 1828. Did they want to carry on? Yes, but against the express wishes of Pope Gregory XVI, who wrote a letter commanding he retain the right, Spain, the last government who executed heretics on the orders of the Church, withdrew their assent in 1834.
To put it in perspective, the Pope was lobbying for the right to execute heretics the same year the first computer was sketched by Charles Babbage, after the first electric car was built. Do I think it’s fair to cast that expression of Catholicism as totalitarian and retrogressive? Guilty as charged.
If you are that upset about this rare incident of unjust punishment for thoughtcrime from Catholics, I look forward to your hand-wringing over this: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/03/guillotine-gulag-gas-chamber-glorious-gifts-atheism-and-war-humanity.html
Ugh. Mark. Seriously, if you want to talk about gas chambers, then (a) I’m not playing and (b) first, you may want to do a little bit of research into the religious beliefs of Bruno Tesch, co-inventor and supplier of Zyklon B.
Ah. So we’re back to collective guilt when it’s theism involved. Hard to keep track. Head’s you win. Tails theism loses. Cuz it’s all about winning, isn’t it, Jem?
No, Mark. You consistently want to paint fascism as some atheist creed led and supported by the godless. If you want to play that game – I don’t – let’s start with you naming the faith Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were all baptized into, raised in and never renounced, publicly declared their allegiance with during the Second World War and (clue) which their Pope never excommunicated them from.
I will not take ‘atheists are all basically Hitler’ from someone whose new Pope counts as ‘left wing’ compared to the last one because he merely supported Argentinian fascists rather than actually being a literal card-carrying Nazi who shot down Allied planes on the orders of Hitler.
I do not believe in collective guilt. It’s silly. So, to coin a phrase, it’s beneath you to play that game.
I’m not talking about fascism. I’m talking about atheistic communism, which did indeed murder millions upon millions in the name of atheism.
The article you linked to talks about gas chambers, and refers to Nazism as ‘another form of socialism’ and ‘anti-Christian’. The first one might, just might, be excused as a politically illiterate pun. The second’s just a factual error.
Communism tends to be atheist (the kibbutz system in Israel is communal, it’s not atheist). Atheism does not equate to communism. Hitler and Stalin had mustaches, it doesn’t follow that all men with mustaches are totalitarian dictators. And, yes, there was both atheism and anti-clericalism in revolutionary France and Russia. The priesthood in both countries were part of the problem – right wing, exploitative landlords. The anti-clericalism was motivated by revulsion of day to day experience of a corrupt priesthood, not a careful study of Thomas Paine.
Talking of which, when theists list the secular revolutions, why do they miss out the obvious one? The most prominent atheists in the world at the time formed an alliance of deists, freethinkers and likeminded Christians and they overthrew the aristocratic rulers, disestablished the church, and formed a secular state which enshrined the rule that governments could not impose religious beliefs on the population, removing blasphemy laws and championing freedom of speech. It was a hugely radical move, and groups like Jews and Catholics benefited immensely, as they were no longer barred from government positions. Thanks to a Constitution written by one of the most prominent atheists the world had known, religion became a matter for individuals, not governments.
I forget where that was.
‘rare’ The Spanish Inquisition executed 775 people between 1500 and 1830. That’s more than the US federal government has executed since independence.
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