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.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.