I care because the accuracy of beliefs matters.

A person with the handle Joseph Svarty came into my post about Mark Shea loving the new Pope to ask:

Why do you people care?

Well Joseph, you know how Mark Shea was filling his pants with excitement over the old Pope (the one who shielded child rapists from persecution) and the new Pope (the one who hid political prisoners from human rights monitors)?  He was so excited because he cares about the world, and he thinks both of those Popes were/would be good for the world.

I care because I also care about the world.  I want to diminish the spread of HIV.  I want equality to reach new heights in the 21st century.  So when people ascend to positions of power who are obviously morally unfit, I feel compelled to correct other people when their reasons for lauding them suck.  I feel that failing to do so would be immoral.

The problem is that Catholics like Mark Shea will rarely defend their elation in any coherent terms.  We get assertions that the Church/Pope is “full of love” or dignified in some nebulous way, all while the last Pope to any objective observer was only slightly more effective at manufacturing good in the world than Skeletor.  In short, people like Shea have no good reason to believe they are correct, and their wrongness lends support to an organization that should welcome a host of obvious improvements, and probably would if not for their dogma.

I care what other people believe because it affects my life, and the lives of billions of people.  I care that my beliefs are defensible because I know they affect others, and I expect Catholics to have enough compassion to care about the accuracy of their own beliefs.  And in almost every case I am disappointed.  I find that virtually every religious person, Catholics included (and Mark Shea certainly included) are far more interested in telling us that their beliefs are true ad nauseum than telling us why their beliefs are true.  And so it’s left to people like me to tell them why their beliefs aren’t even close to true.

Don’t get indignant.  Defend your position with something other than “It’s true, I swear!”  It’s not that I hate you, Mark Shea (disappointed though I am), or god (I don’t believe god exists).  It’s that you want to be wrong with impunity and I don’t want to let you.

  • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    I care because it would be nice if the moral leader of one billion peoplecould actually tell the difference between morality and authoritarianism.

  • http://damn-thing.com William R. Dickson

    I care because I think it’s pretty likely that teaching people that faith — belief without or contrary to evidence — is a virtue has very real and deadly consequences by promoting the kind of thinking that leads to people, e.g., not vaccinating their kids.

  • baal

    (regarding mark shae’s post and why I care)
    I care because mindlessly blissing is normal for sexuality and abnormal to do when contemplating your religious leaders. It more or less guarantees you’ll not be paying attention to the questions of whether or not you should be listening to what they say or in considering whether or not you should follow what they say.

  • Jasper

    “… Mark Shea was filling his pants with excitement …” a.k.a “explosion of love”

  • http://www.billdietrich.me/Reason/ReasonReligion.html Bill Dietrich

    I care because, in USA, many religious people are busy trying to force their beliefs into laws and textbooks and political offices that affect me.

  • John Horstman

    Copy edit:

    We was so excited because he cares about the world, and he thinks both of those Popes were/would be good for the world.

    I think that should be “He”.
    Also:

    And so it’s left to people like me to tell the why their beliefs aren’t even close to true.

    Should that be “them”? I think that’s it for typos.

    Solid, coherent response, as always! Your patience for answering the same questions over and over really is pretty impressive.

  • Otrame

    I care because there is a real universe out there, a set of cold equations, and ignoring it gets people hurt. Since I am a decent human being, I don’t like people getting hurt. I become angery when someone would rather hurt people than face the cold universe honestly, and I become enraged when a supposed moral authority does it.

    “only slightly more effective at manufacturing good in the world than Skeletor”
    You have a way with words, JT.

    (Utterly OT, but my youngest son, when he was about 2, called He-Man (his older brother’s favorite show at that time) “By-gull”. He did this for several months. We finally figured out he meant “By the power of Greyskull!” Thanks for accidently reminding me of that. )

  • Joseph Svarty

    What? TWO posts about me? Man, you must’ve had a slow anger-management day!

  • Steve P.

    “I care because the accuracy of beliefs matters…”

    [The new pope] “… hid political prisoners from human rights monitors…”


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