[Turing 2012] Christian Answer #8

This is the eighth entry in the Christian round of the 2012 Ideological Turing Test for Religion. In this round, the honest answers of Christians are mixed in with atheists’ best efforts to talk like Christians. It’s your job to see if you can spot the difference. The voting link appears at the end of the entry, and you can look at all entries in this round here.


When (if ever) have you deferred to your philosophical or theological system over your intuitions?

Although I don’t agree with everything the Catholic Church preaches, especially its stance against equal rights for homosexuals, I do find myself deferring to Catholic doctrine in some circumstances even though I can sympathize with opposing views. I would never judge someone for using birth control in order to be safe, or to turn to medical practices such as artificial insemination in order to successfully conceive, but for my own actions I hold to Catholic teachings. Although it can sometimes be difficult, I trust and agree with the Church that they encourage the healthiest course of action, physically, mentally, and emotionally. For example, I am strongly against abortion as a form of retroactive contraception but I believe it’s permissible when the mother’s medical safety is in danger. However, there are a number of situations where I’m conflicted. This includes instances of rape, as a consequence of important medical research, or of an honest attempt by a mother to conceive via in vitro fertilization. In all of these cases my intuition runs toward sympathy with the mother and those in medical need, but I feel I must defer to Church doctrine as my conflicted feelings are not sufficient to overturn such teachings when a life is in question.


Are there people whose opinions on morality you trust more than your own? How do you recognize them? How is trusting them different than trusting someone’s opinion on physics?

It can be difficult to find persons of distinguished moral character as all humans are prone to error, however, I do believe people of great moral integrity can be recognized in daily life. When presented with an unfamiliar pastor or other moral authority, I think it’s important not to simply accept their teachings without question. When I think of those who have influenced me most in terms of morality, I remember those who were inclusive, not exclusive, and erred toward showing compassion to others. I’m turned off by inflexibility, from both believers and unbelievers. I also admire those who exemplify all of the moral teachings of Jesus and not only those regarding hot political topics. I find it very disagreeable when supposed Christians use scripture as an excuse to judge others but are uncharitable or uncompassionate themselves. Not all of the people I admire morally are Catholic, or even Christian, but are consistent with scripture’s moral teachings in how they live their lives. Appreciating someone’s opinion on morality is different from their opinion on physics or mathematics because it’s not about objective arguments or formulas, but about recognizing when they live their life as an example you can follow.


Can you name any works of art (interpreted pretty broadly: books, music, plays, poetry, mathematical proofs, etc) which really capture the way you see life/fill you with a sense of awe and wonder? You can give a short explanation or just list a few pieces.

I enjoy reading a lot of different fiction and think that many modern stories being told today are morality parables that have roots in (or at least parallels with) religious teachings. I think it’s important that these stories are told because they allow people to explore their feelings as well as the perspectives of others. Stories like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter may not be very formal, but they explore moral and philosophical concepts in a way that the average person finds accessible. I also enjoy comedies, such as Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother. I think that humor and laughter is very important to spiritual health. I don’t like anything needlessly violent or gory, which I find degrading. When it comes to religious art, I find myself most responding to music, especially Christmas music. Growing up, we were blessed to have a very talented group of musicians at our home parish, including a full bell choir during Christmas time that would always leave me with a sense of awe. During the Christmas season I play Christmas music constantly and never really get sick of it. It reminds me of family and home and hope.


Click here to judge this entry, and, once you’ve voted, feel free to speculate and trade theories in the comments or look at other entries in this round.

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  • Kyle

    My guess: This person is currently an atheist but grew up Catholic and here is trying to explain how they felt just before leaving the Church. Since leaving the Church they have taken to reading atheist apologetics geared at more fundamentalist, Bible-only Christians.

    I suppose it is possible they are a cafeteria Catholic but it seems unlikely. The desire to form one’s conscience (as mentioned in Christian #6) is notably absent. I think this could be consistent with a cafeteria Catholic, but I think it more likely to be a former Catholic who is now an atheist.

  • math_geek

    I think a religious cafeteria Catholic is still not thinking Abortion/Birth Control/Gay Marriage as their 3 most important issues, although many Catholics disagree with the church on some of those issues. For most Catholics, the big hangup with homosexuals and politics is gay marriage. Anti-hate crime laws or anti-discrimination laws can be opposed on ideological grounds, but the Catholic Church is clear on it’s opposition to what it terms as “unjust discrimination” against gays and lesbians.

  • Probably ex-Catholic atheist.

    The Church is quite clear that homosexuals are to be treated with the full love of God, but this does not preclude Her moral objection to their sexual actions.

  • Joe

    I think this is a genuine catholic. This person reminds me of almost all baby-boomer catholics I know.

    • Baby boomers wouldn’t read this blog I don’t think. So very likely atheist says my money.

  • Aaron

    Agree with Joe. This person sounds like a lot of catholics I know, though mentioned the two hot button issues right off the bat may be a sign I’m wrong…

  • deiseach

    Goodness, there seem to be an awful lot of us Catholics hanging around here 🙂

    I’m fairly sure this is a genuine Catholic, primarily because I disagree with him/her on some things (and I’ll say no more because that would only get into labelling which both sides indulge in and which can be equally offensive).

  • A believing Christian would not be likely to cite Whedon’s atheist-inspired pro-homosexual work as moral illustrations.

  • kath

    Atheist, trying to come across as a cafeteria Catholic. Giveaway was the use of the term “pastor” instead of “priest”. Yes, we have pastors, but in the context of the sentence, it seemed like a real Catholic would have used the word “priest”. “Pastor” is more Protestant-y in this context I think.

  • Ted Seeber

    Funny, my guess was a liberal Cafeteria Cradle Catholic, who is theist but influenced by the world, and who can’t stand to leave the Church.

    In case the author of this is reading, may I make a suggestion on your conversion to church teaching on abortion? Go to Project Rachel and read the stories from some of the *children who have survived attempted abortions*. That is what brought me closer to church teaching on the issues of rape and incest especially; learning that the child is not guilty of the father’s sin.