Thanks for the feedback, Emmet.

Oh goodie!  Some Catholic commenters came over to play while I was in Wichita.  My favorite has to be Emmet.

Exactly – “pretty much everything” – so when it comes to having a go at the Catholic Church, evidence for claims isn’t required as long as “pretty much everything” is correct? Right.
Of course you can formally leave the Church – procedures are different in different dioceses, but they’re there.

Not hard to find a reason to give atheists shit – blogs like this put reasons out there in spades. If I wasn’t a Catholic I’d be an atheist – no middle ground as far as I can see, Nietzche et al have destroyed that I think. More and more I’m happy with my choiuce to be Catholic – more and more it seems like the truth to me.
I’ve been reading atheist blogs for a year or two now, and if this is the alternate option to being Catholic, I’m even more convinced I’ve made the right choice. The worldview presented on blogs like this one is so often stunted, unimaginative, bilious, bombastic, pompous and pseuodo-intellectual. Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith – it’s all half-understood, poorly-researched and even more poorly-reasoned bitching about things the bloggers know little about.
(I guess, when you want to get several posts up a day, and sate your readers’ desire for angry, provocative reading material, a “writer” both doesn’t have time and doesn’t have the inclination to actually engage with the issues in any depth. A quick skim over the top will suffice – and who needs the evidence to back it up when your readership has already made the decision to believe that any bad thing about the Church is true?

It’s a consistent trope with Catholic commenters.  They’re livid that I’ve gotten so much wrong about Catholicism, but they scarcely ever tell us what we got wrong (and recall that, on the whole, atheists know more about the various faiths than the adherents of those faiths, including Catholics).

The Pew Forum on Religious Religion and Public Life released a survey on religious knowledge today. Atheists and Agnostics scored higher on it than anyone else, closely followed by Jews and Mormons, all Christians, Protestants and Catholics, were far behind.

That’s overall, but when you get into specific religions it does show a startling lack of basic knowledge by practitioners. From the report:

More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.

So, in terms of pure starting probability, these Catholic commenters probably don’t have a clue what they’re talking about compared to atheists who spend more of their time learning about religion than most (e.g. myself and the readers of this blog).  That’s my theory for why they never go into specifics. So, Catholic commenters, do yourselves a favor and try to get away from “you’re wrong” and give us a little more of “you’re wrong, here’s why“.

Exactly – “pretty much everything” – so when it comes to having a go at the Catholic Church, evidence for claims isn’t required as long as “pretty much everything” is correct? Right.

Oh gee, where will we ever find evidence against the Catholic church.  Oh, I know!  Every single human being who has died and not reanimated in three days, or the fact that the surface tension of water is insufficient to support an adult human male.  Does Emmet really think we criticize the church with no evidence?

And what’s more, when someone who believes that somebody rose from the dead because a couple people wrote in a book that it happened a few thousand years ago demands, with a completely straight face, evidence from people skeptical of that claim, it’s a special kind of irony that deserves a freaking trophy.

Of course you can formally leave the Church – procedures are different in different dioceses, but they’re there.

The app is primarily about requesting excommunication, which is not the same thing.  However, it can also help one formally leave the church with panache.

Not hard to find a reason to give atheists shit – blogs like this put reasons out there in spades.

Of course, Emmet can’t be bothered to list any of those reasons.  And just how would a Catholic give atheists shit?

“Oooooooooooh, look at the people who don’t think a guy rose from the dead!  Nerds!”

“Yeah, pre-marital sex doesn’t harm anyone, sure.  Don’t mind me, I’ll just be directing my moral admiration at a guy who put more effort into shielding the rapists of children than delivering recompense to their victims.  Catholics rules!!!1!”

“Yeah, sure, atheists send oranges to starving kids.  How will those oranges taste when they’re not being sent from a GOLD-STUDDED PALACE THAT IS ALSO A CITY!!!  Catholics for life!”

Yeah, give us shit, Emmet.  Let us heathens have it.

More and more I’m happy with my choiuce to be Catholic – more and more it seems like the truth to me.

Again, he can’t be bothered to say why.  Emmet has important preening to do with his comment.  Priorities.  I can see why he wouldn’t feel the need to defend his belief in people rising from the dead as coming off as totally legit.  Happens all the time.

I’ve been reading atheist blogs for a year or two now, and if this is the alternate option to being Catholic, I’m even more convinced I’ve made the right choice. The worldview presented on blogs like this one is so often stunted, unimaginative, bilious, bombastic, pompous and pseuodo-intellectual.

Even if I were to concede this (which I don’t), none of this would even make us an iota less likely to be right.

Stunted, how so?  We’re not the ones tipping our hat to a moral leader who shielded child rapists.

Unimaginative?  We have plenty of imagination, we just don’t let our imagination override reality, so we don’t wind up believing in people rising from the dead and walking on water, or in sacred water.  You get the gist.  We keep the products of our imagination relegated to the realm of the hypothetical, and thereby don’t allow ourselves to be convinced that a conclave of old white dudes voting is the best, most reliable way god could have delivered to us his vicar on earth.

Bilious?  How so?  I think you just threw out a bunch of adjectives without thinking them through.  Our world view might make you vomit, but apparently a moral leader who abets other moral leaders who diddle little boys doesn’t make you throw up, so I’m not too worried about your moral judgment of my world view.

And accusations of being bombastic are pretty cute from a guy who must think the Vatican is an example of inconspicuous humility.

And it’s not pompous to assert that people don’t rise from the dead or that the author of the entire universe doesn’t take a specific interest in me.  That last one is all you guys.

And as for atheism being pseudo-intellectual, isn’t it fascinating that a peer review paper defending the existence of god by recourse to the evidence has never survived the process of peer review in academia?  Strange, that.  But go on, you who admires the man who proclaimed that science affirmed that condoms actually increase the spread of AIDS, tell me how atheism is pseudo-intellectual.  Tell me how the organization that has burned scholars at the stake and which confined Galileo to house arrest for asserting that the evidence did not align with Catholic dogma is friend to intellectual pursuits.

Seriously, go on.

Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith – it’s all half-understood, poorly-researched and even more poorly-reasoned bitching about things the bloggers know little about.

Again, no specifics.  Do Catholics not believe someone rose from the dead?  Do they not have sacred water?  Did Joseph Ratzinger not protect child rapists?  Where, exactly, have I failed to engage Catholicism accurately (and remember, atheists, on the whole, know more about Catholicism that Catholics).

…and who needs the evidence to back it up when your readership has already made the decision to believe that any bad thing about the Church is true?

If the points I make are so bad, you could try refuting them.  It should be easy for you.

The fact of the matter is that the points I harp on are true.  Catholics do believe outlandish things for positively stupid reasons.  The actions of the church are often flagrantly in opposition to the interest of morality or human well-being.

Also, Emmet, your comment sets the standard for arrogance.  It’s a whole bunch of assertions that you expect us to take with no examples, no evidence, just because they came out of the mouth of Emmet.  I at least give reasons.  Maybe you’ve been a part of an organization that expects you to swallow all of their proclamations without question for too long.  In a world where human intelligence means something, that is the opposite of a virtue.

  • Rain

    @Emmet: Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith – it’s all half-understood, poorly-researched and even more poorly-reasoned bitching about things the bloggers know little about.

    Which part of the zombie man who is the creator of the universe that heals diseases by casting out oogedy-boogedy demons am I not supposed to think is stupid? Oogedy-boogedy boo!

  • invivoMark

    “Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith”

    Emmet, you can take that “depth and richness” and shove it up your ass. Yours is the religion of shaming homosexuals for being homosexual. Yours is the religion of shaming everyone about their sexuality, the religion of teaching people that everyone is born evil and we should feel guilty for it, of teaching people that natural desires urges are evil and caused by the devil. Yours is the religion of perpetuating the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Yours is the religion of systematic protection of child-rapists. Yours is the religion of miracle-scamming and slut-shaming, the religion that killed Savita Halappanavar and countless other women for seeking medically-necessary abortions and being denied, the religion of the Magdalene sisters who in Ireland enslaved and abused 30,000 young women over 74 years, the religion that stole 300,000 babies from their mothers to put up for adoption. Yours is the religion that tells people that a water leak behind a painting and a funny pattern on burnt toast are signs of the supernatural.

    You can’t undo the heinous evils your religion has caused, like the Magdalene sisters and the stolen babies. But until your religion changes on every single other point mentioned above, YOU AUTOMATICALLY LOSE any apologia of Catholicism. Fuck your depth and richness, and fuck your religion. It is evil, and so are you if you dare to defend it.

  • sqlrob

    Does Emmet really think we criticize the church with no evidence?

    For a lot of it, you don’t need evidence, which you kind of touched on, but not in an accurate manner, IMHO. They’re making the positive claim, they need to provide the evidence. No evidence? Go get stuffed. Any of the examples of “look, it hasn’t happened yet” is icing on the cake.

    • invivoMark

      I think what JT was getting at is the idea that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Which, in the cases mentioned, is certainly true.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith – it’s all half-understood, poorly-researched and even more poorly-reasoned bitching about things the bloggers know little about.

    Emmet has a point. The Catholics have spent centuries, utilizing some of the finest minds in the western world, to construct their elaborate mental edifice. They’ve filled libraries with the stuff! And here we are, we annoying naysayers, who really don’t care about the “depth and richness of the faith”. We just keep asking for one good reason to think any of it is more than an elaborate fantasy.

    Show us the evidence. The evidence that is proportional to the claims being made. And, if you can’t come up with any, consider that perhaps the claims are false!

    • John Horstman

      Bingo. Someone doesn’t need to have read The Silmarillion to be able to comment intelligently and informedly on The Hobbit nor to determine that the universe of Eä is an imaginary construct. This is even more true when we’re simply asserting that the null hypothesis should be treated as true in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Also, unless Emmet is a world religions scholar, he’s engaging in the same behavior with respect to every religion that isn’t Catholicism. Perhaps he does intend to suggest he should be taken to task for the same behavior, but that doesn’t really fit with his “Catholicism is true and I’m certain of it” narrative.

  • Rain

    Emmet has a point. The Catholics have spent centuries, utilizing some of the finest minds in the western world, to construct their elaborate mental edifice.

    And yet Jesus is still on of the dumbest philosophers ever. And the most impotent super hero ever. Nobody even knows what his superpower is. I think he can jump on a pogo stick or something. I forget. It must be embarrassing having a dumb philosopher and a weak super hero. I don’t blame them for constructing a giant edifice. Maybe nobody will notice.

    • Sids

      Don’t insult Commander Keen by conflating him with Jesus.

  • baal

    Emmet is missing out on the richness of life outside the church. Sadly, he’d have to set out of that bubble to see it. FWIW, I like to visit the giant stone old style cathedrals, they tend to be amazing buildings with wondrous architecture.

  • kagekiri

    Not hard to find a reason to give atheists shit – blogs like this put reasons out there in spades. If I wasn’t a Catholic I’d be an atheist – no middle ground as far as I can see, Nietzche et al have destroyed that I think. More and more I’m happy with my choiuce to be Catholic – more and more it seems like the truth to me.

    Yeah, that’s called confirmation bias combined with extreme black and white thinking. Most conservative religious people feel quite similar and it only solidifies as they age, which I can personally attest to as a former YEC fundamentalist. Your level of self-assured-ness alone isn’t much of an argument in light of that experience.

    I’ve been reading atheist blogs for a year or two now, and if this is the alternate option to being Catholic, I’m even more convinced I’ve made the right choice. The worldview presented on blogs like this one is so often stunted, unimaginative, bilious, bombastic, pompous and pseuodo-intellectual. Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith – it’s all half-understood, poorly-researched and even more poorly-reasoned bitching about things the bloggers know little about.

    So a year or two of atheist blog reading of an unspecified amount means you’re qualified to judge all of atheism? Interesting!

    I was a hardcore Christian for 20 years of my life, and I now think it’s as wrong as can be. I guess that means I’m way more qualified to judge all versions of Christianity than you are to judge all atheistic writing!

    My verdict? Even with all of their post-hoc theological ramblings and rationalizations, Christians have no real evidence (despite deeply desiring it) of past or current miracles, and their sacred books are self-contradictory, morally backwards (slavery, oppression, and rape: okay; women speaking in church: dishonoring God), and evidently lacking in any divine let-alone near-perfect authorship. The God of the Bible is highly unlikely due to his total lack of special knowledge of any portion of reality that humans have discovered via science, the scriptures hardly moral, the Holy Spirit obviously impotent to outdo mere probabilities despite the very clear promises in the Bible of provision, healing, and visions.

    See, I can name parts of your religion I find ridiculous and wrong. I don’t just string out random adjectives about your belief on so broad a level that they fail to argue anything. You just read like a middle schooler who just discovered a thesaurus to try and mix up his normal insults.

    Try actually arguing instead of throwing empty insults. Or at least specify the damn insults. That’d make it a slight chore to dismantle you, rather than just seeing the absolute lack of content of any kind and just being embarrassed for you.

  • Nox

    “It’s a consistent trope with Catholic commenters. They’re livid that I’ve gotten so much wrong about Catholicism, but they scarcely ever tell us what we got wrong.”

    That’s not an accident. It’s what their church teaches them to do.

    If they said what they believe, their beliefs would look foolish. If they tried to make an argument for their beliefs they would be calling attention to how vapid catholic arguments are.

    Much safer to be loudly condescending about nothing.

  • http://carloscabanita.blogspot.com Carlos Cabanita

    Actually, I think some of the cardinals at the conclave are not white. I agree with the rest.

  • Emmet

    Some good giggles in the post and the comments – thanks. Don’t have time right now to respond but I will tomorrow.

    One thing you could clear up in the meantime, Eberhard – in another post you mentioned the “uncountable” deaths caused by the Church’s opposition to condoms – have you come up with a ballpark figure for that “uncountable” number? After all, you “at least, give reasons”.

    • B-Lar

      Uncountable = still counting.

      Maybe the new pope will change the rules and bring an end to all that. He is supposed to be all humble and compassionate and care-for-the-downtrodden after all.

    • Glodson

      Hey, we can’t wait to hear from you. I’m sure it will be insightful and totally not full of bullshit.

      • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

        I bet Emmett backs up his claims or shows us specifically why/where JT is wrong!

        He won’t post a bunch of unevidenced assertions and a few questions and call it day – nah… he’d never do that! /* end sarcasm */

        • Glodson

          It isn’t like 2 million die form AIDS every year, and that a significant number of people in Africa have the disease, and condom use can stop the spread as they can be effective at a rate of 80% which would greatly reduce the spread, and telling how many people don’t use them because of the Catholic Church is hard to tell as the influence can spread to people outside the church as well.

          For some of the numbers, I have this story, which includes even more damning words from Church leaders who are determined to put their archaic beliefs over the needs of people.

    • Loqi

      Are you going to deny that the RCC is not contributing to the spread of AIDS by spreading misinformation and non-science about condoms? Because if you’re not and just going to quibble over exactly how many, I’m not sure how you’re coming out ahead in this.

      It takes a special kind of evil to think we can’t criticize the church for being monstrous until we’ve completely finished counting the bodies.

      • Loqi

        Deny that the RCC *is* contributing…

      • hotshoe

        yep, a special kind of evil.

        Religion poisons everything.

        Certainly religion has poisoned Emmet’s ability to be a decent human being who should have an ordinary amount of empathy towards his/her fellow human beings. Religion has replaced Emmet’s innate decency with a spoiled indignation on behalf of the corrupt organization known as the Catholic Church.

        Emmet has been so morally twisted by his/her religion that xe literally cannot comprehend that even one death directly caused by the Church is one too many. No, for Emmet, we have to accurately count each one of the millions, complete with autopsies and certificates, before we can dare express any disapproval of the death-eaters.

        Emmet’s attitude is a dogdamned travesty of morality.

  • Rikitiki

    Way to go, Emmet. Instead of answering ANY of the questions that JT has put out to you
    about your assertions, you simply throw another out there. Way to “Gish gallop”!
    Typical, just typical .

  • AmyC

    “Nothing I read about the Catholic Church on these blogs engages with the depth and richness of the faith –”

    Somebody needs to send Emmet the “Courtier’s Reply.”

  • gwen

    Of course, he knows with absolute certainty that none of the posters he is complaining about was ever a Catholic before becoming atheist….because he knows that NO one who was born or converted to Catholicism ever left that faith to become atheist.

    • Dave Pearce

      Of course there are no Catholics who become atheist – at least no *true* Catholic would ever become an atheist :)

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Some good giggles in the post and the comments – thanks. Don’t have time right now to respond but I will tomorrow.

    Well, he didn’t come back. It looks like the atheists had the last laugh after all.

    • Nate Frein

      I know, right? He’s all swagger…as he swaggers right out the door.


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