The Holy Father’s remarks to Notre Dame strike to the core mission of all Catholic Universities. I hope that they are listening.
I haven’t read every single one of the various atheist books by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, et al. But I’ve read most of them.
I’ve also read the historic atheists such as Russell, et al.
What amazes me is that anyone takes them seriously. Even when I was deep in my anti-God period, I could see that Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian (which says everything worth saying that is found in any of the other books, by the way) used self-refuting arguments. If you followed his line of reasoning to its end, you would have eliminated the existence of 2 billion Christians who are on the globe today.
The illogic of his logic actually led me to believe that if atheism had good arguments, they weren’t being advanced. This is telling because I was at a point in my life where I wanted to be convinced by atheism.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the crude and nasty atheists of today’s public forums are the way they are for two simple reasons. First, their philosophy, such as it is, is so hopeless and nihilistic that it is crazy-making. Second, anyone who reads one of these “four horsemen” and is convinced by them (much less goes around quoting them and pretending their ideas are your own) is either an adolescent, or they are an adult who is stuck is permanent adolescence.
The Four Horsemen and their progenitors are not thinkers for grown-ups.
I’ve just finished reading a book that addresses this adolescent thinking from the viewpoint of a fellow scientist. David Berlinski is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He has written such books as A Tour of the Calculus and The Advent of the Algorithm. What that means, aside from the fact that he’s got the chops to address the scientific hubris of the new atheism from the inside, is that, unlike most of the professional new atheist apologists, he doesn’t just go around writing hate screeds for a living. He actually writes and thinks about something else.
I wish his book on the scientific pretensions of the new atheism had a less lurid title. The book is of a higher quality than its title. However, I know that titles sell, and publishers make these decisions.
The book is called The Devil’s Delusion, Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.
If you haven’t read it, you should. Berlinski writes with dry wit and clarity of the scientific gibberish that makes up the framework of new atheist arguments. The book is not, as the atheist books are, a vicious screed against those who disagree with him. It is rather, a gentle poke in the ribs.
Berlinski (who is not a believer) disassembles the house of cards of atheist scientific arguments against God, based entirely on the sheer outrageousness of their claims. There are no calls to insult people or attack them in the book. It doesn’t make totalitarian arguments that scientists should have their children taken away from them for the “child abuse” of teaching their kids what they themselves believe. There’s no trippy conflab about flying spaghetti monsters, and not one word of building a Christian revenge movement to drive atheists from the public square.
The Devil’s Delusion simply points out a few of the many over-the-top claims that atheists make in the name of science and calls them what they are: The attack polemics of a blind and absolutist faith. All of which is to say that the scientific claims by atheists are propaganda. They are not science at all.
I recommend The Devil’s Delusion. I hope that you will read it. If you’re been reading the adolescent rants of the new atheists, I especially hope you read it. It’s a great palate cleanser.
What does it mean when the Holy Father is Man of the Year for both Time Magazine and the nation’s number one gay publication?
What, pray tell, is the significance of a pope on the cover of Rolling Stone?
1. The Catholic Church is not irrelevant.
2. The Pope is showing us how to evangelize through love.
This adulation from the press won’t go on forever, of course. Sooner or later the media will figure out just how tough and immovable Jorge Bergoglio is when it comes to the Church and her teachings.
I think we should just roll with it and enjoy our Pop Pope’s popularity while it lasts.
And, in what is probably the most sincere of the bunch, the Holy Father has achieved super hero status in graffiti land.
I love the commenters here on Public Catholic. You are an intelligent and thoughtful group of people. It touches, educates and amazes me to read the things you say and the honesty with which you say them.
However, every so often you get into a hairball of an argument and all I can see from the outside is a giant wroth of confusion with waving arms and a few feet sticking out.
The question in the title of this post is the result of one such hairball/wroth in the making.
It is an internet adage that if a combox conversation goes on long enough, somebody is going to call somebody else Hitler. I don’t think that people are referring to the failed Austrian painter, Iron Cross wearing, vegetarian occultist who caused the worst war in human history and masterminded the extermination much of Europe’s population of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Catholic clergy, liberals, mentally ill, mentally challenged, disabled and various what not (deep breath) when they say this.
I’m not sure that Hitler, whose resume reads like half new-ager and half serial killer with one of the most advanced societies in history at his disposal, rises (or falls, as it may be) to the level that we give him.
First all, Hitler wasn’t and isn’t an evil god. He wasn’t and isn’t a demon from hell. Hitler was evil. But he was not Evil. Hitler was a man. He was killed by a bullet to the brain.
Hitler, by himself, could never have been more than a lone serial killer, knocking off individual people in the alleys and by-ways. Hitler, alone, was just another John Wayne Gacy wannabe.
What made him different was the confluence of the rise of nihilist philosophies and movements such as eugenics, a first World War that no one anywhere can explain, the fall of Russia into Communist hands, an unjust and vindictive peace that heaped all the blame and crippling punishment on Germany, and a worldwide economic depression that sucked the hope out of ordinary people all over the globe.
This welter of confusion and rage left people ready to listen to anybody who could give voice to their emotions and who sounded like he knew what he was doing. Germany had fallen into the hands of an ineffective government after World War I. The people were suffering on many levels. It was an easy and obvious march for a vegetarian, occult-following serial killer with a gift for driving oratory and a willingness to lie to take charge.
Hitler didn’t begin by telling the German people that he was going to kill everybody except the ones he deemed worthy of life. He certainly didn’t tell them that he was going to start a world war on three fronts. He told them that he was for peace and prosperity. He made up obfuscations and propaganda about how doing away with those who were, in his movement’s words, “useless eaters,” “life unworthy of life” was a kindness; a means of putting them and society both at the same time out of their respective miseries.
Hitler lied to the German people about his intentions and appealed to their baser instincts about other human beings, and, for their part, the German people colluded with him in committing crimes that were, before then, beyond imagining. By his lies and obfuscations, he was able to conjure a political spell that beguiled an advanced and Christian nation into following him down to the mouth of hell.
That’s how he killed the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Catholic clergy, liberals, mentally ill, mentally challenged, disabled and various what not.
He lied to a lot of people and got them to give him a lot of power. Then, when he got the power, he repudiated the hated peace agreement and put Germany on a war-time economy, which in turn brought jobs and prosperity. He also used his power to consign those who opposed him to camps. Prosperity and the snuffed out silence of fear bought him the power to do his worst.
Most people in our modern America are too uneducated about history to know how Hitler really functioned or who he really was. All we know is what we see on tv, and what we see on tv is, at best, edited for ratings and, at worst, edited for propaganda purposes. Still, there remains the conviction that Hitler is the last great evil-doer that we can safely conclude in this relativistic and intellectually stifled world we inhabit was in fact an evil-doer and not just the misunderstood product of a bad upbringing.
Hitler, because he is dead, and because he has become for us a safe repository for our cultural moral indignations, is the bogey man we drag out when we want to chide one another for our excesses. The “Nazis,” which is a sort of group code-name for Hitlerian cruelties and excesses, is has become a working synonym for Hitler himself.
Regarded this way, calling someone Hitler, or likening a group of people to the Nazis in an internet combox is the verbal equivalent of kids yelling “Oh yeah? Sez you!” at one another on the playground. It’s right up there with the slurs about their mothers that opposing teams in football games hurl at one another before the play starts.
Just for the record, let me state categorically that gay rights activists are not Nazis.
By the same token, people who believe in the sanctity of marriage are not “haters” or “homophobes.”
I will also add in defense of a combox slur that was directed at me, that opposing the farming of women’s bodies for eggs and also opposing the use of women as for-hire pregnancy surrogates does not mean that a person “hates gays.”
There is, to be sure, an ugly totalitarian thread running through the new next step that comes after redefinition of marriage wherever that event has occurred. It is the trammeling of the rights of conscience and religious freedom of churches, individuals and small businesses by using government force to coerce them into complying with a whole host of activities that violate their deeply held beliefs. This totalitarianism is supported by a bogus application of the principles of the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s. That is, in turn, supported by an equally bogus equating of sexual preference with race and the discriminations homosexuals have faced with the slavery and Jim Crow sufferings of black people.
We can talk about these things. We have talked about them over and over again on this blog.
But we can talk about them without calling each other Nazis, Hitler, haters, homophobes or any of the other verbal claptrap that blocks out reason and bastardizes our mental capacities. We can do it because we are — all of us — better than that.
There is not one person who comes to comment on this blog who lacks the capacity for rational thought and intelligent argument. They just need to learn to employ those capacities.
Feel free to discuss things on this blog. But use your higher thinking capacities when you do it. That way, you’ll walk away from the experience a bit better for it and will not degrade either yourself, your beliefs, or the many readers who come here.
I’ve received permission to reprint Ryan Anderson’s testimony concerning gay marriage in full. The video of his testimony is below the printed version of it.
I think Mr Anderson makes excellent points in this testimony.
Several commenters who responded to links to it in an earlier post made claims that gay marriage doesn’t change anything. In truth, wherever gay marriage has been legalized, there has been a concomitant attack on the conscience rights of small business people and individuals. We’ll explore that a bit next week.
In the meantime, the links Mr Anderson gives in the written version of his testimony also address those assertions.
I will be speaking today from the perspective of political science and philosophy to answer the question “What Is Marriage?” I’ve co-authored a book and an article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy with a classmate of mine from Princeton, Sherif Girgis, and with a professor of ours, Robert George. Justice Samuel Alito cited our book twice in his dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court case involving the Defense of Marriage Act.
The title of that book is “What Is Marriage?” An answer to that question is something we didn’t hear today from people on the other side. It’s interesting that we’ve had a three-hour conversation about marriage without much by way of answering that question.
Everyone in this room is in favor of marriage equality. We all want the law to treat all marriages equally. But the only way we can know whether any state law is treating marriages equally is if we know what a marriage is. Every state law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn’t a marriage. If those lines are to be drawn on principle, if those lines are to reflect the truth, we have to know what sort of relationship is marital, as contrasted with other forms of consenting adult relationships.
So, in the time I have today, I’ll answer three questions: what is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what are the consequences of redefining marriage?
Marriage exists to unite a man and a woman as husband and wife to then be equipped to be mother and father to any children that that union produces. It’s based on the anthropological truth that men and women are distinct and complementary. It’s based on the biological fact that reproduction requires a man and a woman. It’s based on the sociological reality that children deserve a mother and a father.
Whenever a child is born, a mother will always be close by. That’s a fact of biology. The question for culture and the question for law is whether a father will be close by. And if so, for how long? Marriage is the institution that different cultures and societies across time and place developed to maximize the likelihood that that man would commit to that woman and then the two of them would take responsibility to raise that child.
Part of this is based on the reality that there’s no such thing as parenting in the abstract: there’s mothering, and there’s fathering. Men and women bring different gifts to the parenting enterprise. Rutgers sociologist Professor David Popenoe writes, “the burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable.” He then concludes:
We should disavow the notion that mommies can make good daddies, just as we should the popular notion that daddies can make good mommies. The two sexes are different to the core and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.
This is why so many states continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, many doing so by amending their constitutions.
So why does marriage matter for public policy? Perhaps there is no better way to analyze this than by looking to our own president, President Barack Obama. Allow me to quote him:
We know the statistics: that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.
There is a host of social science evidence. We go through the litany and cite the studies in our book, but President Obama sums it up pretty well. We’ve seen in the past fifty years, since the war on poverty began, that the family has collapsed. At one point in America, virtually every child was given the gift of a married mother and father. Today, 40 percent of all Americans, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of African Americans are born to single moms—and the consequences for those children are quite serious.
The state’s interest in marriage is not that it cares about my love life, or your love life, or anyone’s love life just for the sake of romance. The state’s interest in marriage is ensuring that those kids have fathers who are involved in their lives.
But when this doesn’t happen, social costs run high. As the marriage culture collapses, child poverty rises. Crime rises. Social mobility decreases. And welfare spending—which bankrupts so many states and the federal government—takes off.
If you care about social justice and limited government, if you care about freedom and the poor, then you have to care about marriage. All of these ends are better served by having the state define marriage correctly rather than the state trying to pick up the pieces of a broken marriage culture. The state can encourage men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children while leaving other consenting adults free to live and to love as they choose, all without redefining the fundamental institution of marriage.
On that note, we’ve heard concerns about hospital visitation rights (which the federal government has already addressed) and with inheritance laws. Every individual has those concerns. I am not married. When I get sick, I need somebody to visit me in the hospital. When I die, I need someone to inherit my wealth. That situation is not unique to a same-sex couple. That is a situation that matters for all of us. So we need not redefine marriage to craft policy that will serve all citizens.
Lastly, I’ll close with three ways in which redefining marriage will undermine the institution of marriage. We hear this question: “how does redefining marriage hurt you or your marriage?” I’ll just mention three in the remaining time that I have.
First, it fundamentally reorients the institution of marriage away from the needs of children toward the desires of adults. It no longer makes marriage about ensuring the type of family life that is ideal for kids; it makes it more about adult romance. If one of the biggest social problems we face right now in the United States is absentee dads, how will we insist that fathers are essential when the law redefines marriage to make fathers optional?
Much of the testimony we have heard today was special interest pleading from big business claiming that defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman would make it hard for them to appeal to the elite college graduates from the East and the West coasts. We heard no discussion about the common good of the citizens of Indiana—the children who need fathers involved in their lives. Redefining marriage will make it much harder for the law to teach that those fathers are essential.
Second, if you redefine marriage, so as to say that the male-female aspect is irrational and arbitrary, what principle for policy and for law will retain the other three historic components of marriage? In the United States, it’s always been a monogamous union, a sexually exclusive union, and a permanent union. We’ve already seen new words created to challenge each and every one of those items.
“Throuple” is a three-person couple. New York Magazine reports about it. Here’s the question: if I were to sue and say that I demand marriage equality for my throuple, what principle would deny marriage equality to the throuple once you say that the male-female aspect of marriage is irrational and arbitrary? The way that we got to monogamy is that it’s one man and one woman who can unite in the type of action that can create new life and who can provide that new life with one mom and one dad. Once you say that the male-female aspect is irrational and arbitrary, you will have no principled reason to retain the number two.
Likewise, the term “wedlease” was introduced in the Washington Post in 2013. A wedlease is a play on the term wedlock. It’s for a temporary marriage. If marriage is primarily about adult romance, and romance can come, and it can go, why should the law presume it to be permanent? Why not issue expressly temporary marriage licenses?
And lastly, the term “monogamish.” Monogamish was introduced in the New York Times in 2011. The term suggests we should retain the number two, but that spouses should be free to have sexually open relationships. That it should be two people getting married, but they should be free to have sex outside of that marriage, provided there’s no coercion or deceit.
Now, whatever you think about group marriage, whatever you think about temporary marriage, whatever you think about sexually open marriage, as far as adults living and loving how they choose, think about the social consequences if that’s the future direction in which marriage redefinition would go. For every additional sexual partner a man has and the shorter-lived those relationships are, the greater the chances that a man creates children with multiple women without commitment either to those women or to those kids. It increases the likelihood of creating fragmented families, and then big government will step in to pick up the pieces with a host of welfare programs that truly drain the economic prospects of all of our states.
Finally, I’ll mention liberty concerns, religious liberty concerns in particular. After Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, DC, either passed a civil union law or redefined marriage, Christian adoption agencies were forced to stop serving some of the neediest children in America: orphans. These agencies said they had no problem with same-sex couples adopting from other agencies, but that they wanted to place the children in their care with a married mom and dad. They had a religious liberty interest, and they had social science evidence that suggests that children do best with a married mom and dad. And yet in all three jurisdictions, they were told they could not do that.
We’ve also seen in different jurisdictions instances of photographers, bakers, florists, and innkeepers, people acting in the commercial sphere, saying we don’t want to be coerced. And that’s what redefining marriage would do. Redefining marriage would say that every institution has to treat two people of the same sex as if they’re married, even if those institutions don’t believe that they’re married. So the coercion works in the exact opposite direction of what we have heard.
Everyone right now is free to live and to love how they want. Two people of the same sex can work for a business that will give them marriage benefits, if the business chooses to. They can go to a liberal house of worship and have a marriage ceremony, if the house of worship chooses to. What is at stake with redefining marriage is whether the law would now coerce others into treating a same-sex relationship as if it’s a marriage, even when doing so violates the conscience and rights of those individuals and those institutions.
So, for all of these reasons, this state and all states have an interest in preserving the definition of marriage as the union—permanent and exclusive—of one man and one woman.
Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and the Editor of Public Discourse. He is co-author, with Sherif Girgis and Robert George, of the book What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, and is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Notre Dame.
This is one test I wanted to fail.
In fact, this is one test that I have expended considerable political, social and emotional capital in an effort to fail.
NARAL’s so-called Women’s Reproductive Report Card is out, and Oklahoma got an F. Unfortunately, we’re not the best state in the Union in which to be an unborn child. North Dakota won that one.
But still … Oklahoma did “fail” the pro-abortion test, and I am proud to tell you that one of the pro life bills that Oklahoma passed last year to earn this failing grade was passed by me.
In fact, I went through the list of Oklahoma’s pro life regulations that NARAL dislikes, and I authored the bills that made quite a number of them law.
Now that I’ve told you how “proud” I am of this, I need to back off and back down and admit that I also, back in the years before my conversion, killed most of the same legislation that I have since helped pass.
Back when I was pro choice, I never heard a kind word from pro life people. In fact, they were pretty ugly to me. Fortunately for me, that was not true of a good many pro life legislators. It was their Christian witness of being able to love me just as I was (oftentimes while being excoriated for doing it by a few members of the pro life community) that softened me up.
This softening up played a big part in my ability to turn to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. But even then, I didn’t ask forgiveness for what I had done about abortion. That came later, after the Holy Spirit convicted me of the wrong I had committed. Christ Himself accepted me, as the hymn goes, just as I was; warts, sins and all. He forgave me for things I didn’t realize at that point that I needed to be forgiven for.
I think we need to take a page from His book in dealing with lost people.
That does not mean that I am advising you to tell people that their sins are not, in fact, sins. That would be a grave injustice to them. I am saying that none of us is as bad as the worst thing we’ve done and that none of us — and that means you and me, my friend — is fit to stand before God based on his or her own righteousness.
Our salvation is found at the foot of the cross. It is an unearned and unearnable grace; a free gift of love from the God Who made us.
Do not go around banning people from the Kingdom because they fall short of your idea of personal righteousness. Your standing in the order of things is that of the created, not the Creator. You do not get to ban anybody from the Kingdom. That is not your place in the order of creation. You are not the Judge. You are the judged.
Every single one of us should be grateful that God loves us and accepts us. That is what I believe the Holy Father has been trying to tell us this past year. We need to remind people that there is a remedy for their anomie and misery, and that remedy is the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
We live in a devolving, falling-apart culture that has gotten so turned on its head that evil is preached as good and good is preached as evil from every venue. It is maddening, I know, to see and hear people demand that Christians validate sin by denying the sinfulness of what is in truth moral depravity. We can not and must not do that.
It is even more maddening to have people who do not believe in Jesus and who actively mock Him, mis-use Christ’s clear commandment that we should not judge to mean that we are called to ignore the equally clear teachings of morality and purity. I understand the anger this provokes. I’ve felt it. I feel it many times when I encounter this smug sophistry.
But, I know that Jesus calls you and me to more than righteous anger. I know that righteous anger, if it is nursed and allowed to go on, destroys our relationship with Jesus. When we become anger and rage — and at least a few of the people who comment on this blog seem to have fallen into this trap — then we are not and cannot be following God who is love.
Never equate the person with their sin. If Christ looked at you like that, where would you be? I know where I would be. I know what I deserve.
Is there one person reading this who would not go straight to hell, if God judged us as harshly as we judge one another?
Sin is wrong. But the person who sins is a child of God who can be loved from death to life. It is not our job to play God and condemn them to hell. Our job is to show them the Way. Part of that, certainly, is an insistence on the truth of God’s teachings about personal morality. But the hardest part of it is an honest and forthright attempt to live those truths in our lives.
We are all prey to the world. I certainly am. If I do not fall into the sins of active behavior — which is almost impossible not to do — then I will fall into the sins of thinking that my righteousness is sufficient and that I can judge and condemn those who I see failing in ways that I do not.
The thing that saves me is the grace of God that keeps reminding me that I am only saved from eternal hell by unmerited love.
Pray without ceasing for the poor, sad people who are trying to live without Christ. Never stop praying for them or give up on them. Make the best witness that you can by living out your Christian commitment without flinching back from it.
Do it because it is what Jesus asked you to do.
Look to the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and the Catechism of the Church for your guides on how to live. Do not pay attention to various gurus who would add to or take away from those things.
If an honest attempt to follow the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments and the Catechism doesn’t teach you humility, then re-read them and compare yourself to the requirements found there with a bit more honesty.
Stop comparing your personal edited and flattering version of yourself to the sins you witness other people committing. That’s the wrong way to look at it. It can cost you your soul. Look instead to Jesus. If you compare your righteousness to Jesus, hanging on the cross, it will bring you down to your knees, and on your knees is where you — and me, and all of us — belong.
My sins were and are great. I owe a debt that I can never repay.
The fact that God let me be the person who passed a few pro life bills was and is a measure of forgiveness that I did not and do not deserve.
What do you owe?
What, honestly, do you owe your Creator?
If it’s not more than you can repay, then you are not truly human.
Do not engage in attacks against people. Focus instead on the issues at hand, filtered through the Truth of God. Remember that we are all of us dust, and that we will each stand before God much sooner than we imagine.
Do not throw away your soul on the sad satisfactions of judging and unforgiving. That is a preposterous waste of the free gift of eternal life.
Fr Stan Fortuna, the rapping/singing priest, shares his personal testimony.
His work is an excellent example of the New Evangelization. It is also an example of the kind of things that all of us should be doing. We need to use our gifts to witness for Christ.
It gives me hope when I see men like this in the priesthood.
The upside of the rampant twisting and manipulating of every word that comes out of Pope Francis’ mouth is that it is a testimony to just how relevant the Catholic Church, Jesus Christ and the need for moral legitimacy are in the lives of ordinary people, everywhere.
Name one atheist/satanist/politician/media star who is taken this seriously. Name one person, other than the Pope, on this planet who is taken this seriously.
The downside of rampant twisting and manipulating of every word that comes out of Pope Francis’ mouth is that the media’s deliberate twisting of things can mislead people who have a sincere longing for God into thinking that their sins are not, in fact, sins. This is no small thing, since it can deprive them of the chance to get right with the God Who made them.
A case in point is Pope Francis’ recent statement of concern about how we are to evangelize children who are being raised by gay couples. He simply asked the question about what is the best way for us to teach these children about Jesus, given the environment in which they are being raised. The press turned that on its head to become a quasi endorsement of gay marriage.
Not so. Not even close. Which is why the Vatican has stepped up to say that the press is manipulating the Holy Father’s statements.
The Church has always known that its mission is to bring Christ to the lost. All Christians, everywhere, know that we have a charge to reach out to those who are living their lives without Christ. The reason is because Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father. He is the Truth by which we must live our lives if those lives are to have eternal significance.
It would be the darkest form of child abuse to write off children — any children — because of the things their parents do, and thus deprive them of the opportunity to claim their inheritance as children of the living God.