Cosmos in the Lost offers Praise…

Cosmos in the Lost offers Praise… March 31, 2014

for the Inquisition.  I always enjoy it when pseudoknowledge gets spanked.

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  • Harry

    I thought that was a pretty awful response. Zmirak’s point in his article was not that the Inquisition was responsible for untold millions of deaths, as in anti-Catholic propaganda, but rather that once upon a time the Church openly endorsed authoritarian regimes, sneered at the very idea of religious freedom and was quite happy in utilizing torture and execution to repress heretical ideas.
    Zmirak’s apparently controversial contention is that this was a Bad Thing, and a chapter in our history we Catholics should be ashamed of.
    How do you get from ‘The Inquisition was not as bad as most people think it was’ and ‘The Inquisition was quite efficient’ to ‘The Inquisition was a good thing’? And the incredibly facile suggestion that if only we brought it back we would be spared, among other things, the problems of an overcrowded prison system?
    There are some things that the Church once endorsed that were, at their heart, irredeemable. The Inquisition is one of them. We should repent of it and move on, rather than engage in some pretty pathetic attempts at rehabilitation.

    • jroberts548

      We Catholics should be no more ashamed of the Inquisition than of our modern American court system.

      What standard are you judging the Inquisition by? By the courts of some mythical kum-by-yah land where everybody holds hands and sings till they reacha verdict? Or are you comparing it to actually existing court systems? Between a Dominican inquisitor and, e.g., a cop who can smell non-existent marijuana from a passing car through his car’s closed windows (, I’d rather take my chances with the Dominican.

      Or between cops who pay witnesses without disclosing that to defense attorneys (, and inquisitors, I’d take the inquisitors. Between an adversarial system where the factually innocent don’t have the right not to be incarcerated or executed, and inquisitors, I’d take the inquisitors.

      • Harry

        Modern American court system execute a lot of heretics, does it?
        Catholics endorsing the persecution of heretics is *bad*. It’s *wrong* to execute people for teaching erroneous doctrine. It would be *immoral* to execute Hans Kung for teaching heresy. Why do you find this controversial?

        • jroberts548

          The inquisition executed precisely zero heretics. The executions were done by the local secular authority. The inquisition has infinitely fewer executions under its belt that the modern American court system.

          If you object to the execution of heretics, you object to late medieval and early modern secular justice.

          • Jem

            “The inquisition executed precisely zero heretics. The executions were done by the local secular authority.”

            By your – silly – logic, the ‘American court system’ hasn’t killed anyone, because they handed them over to the states’ Department of Corrections to do the actual executing. No politician in the modern age ever committed a war crime, because they merely ordered it from their position of authority.

            Once again, a bizarre double standard for complicity kicks in. Catholic priests are complicit in abortion if they buy a health plan which doesn’t actually cover abortion, but they’re not complicit in execution if they try a man, sentence him to execution and hand him over to someone else with instructions to execute him.

            • jroberts548

              Our modern court system sentences people to death. In some states, judges sentence people to death even against the jury’s sentence of life in prison.The inquisition at worst sentenced people to whatever the secular government chose to do.

              I’m not saying the inquisition was perfect. I’m not saying we should bring it back. But as a court system, it might be fairer than one that treats cops as having, e.g., an impossibly powerful sense of smell. We live in a country that is about 5% of the world’s population, and a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Of that, about 60% are minorities. Do we think we have a fair legal system? About 90 percent of people charged don’t even get a trial; they’re pushed into a plea bargain. Is that fair?

              Sure, the inquisition might relax you into state custody for publicly preaching heresies, and that was wrong. In America, you can go to jail and lose your house for making bank deposits of less than $10,000. You can lose your car just for getting pulled over with cash in your car. (See, e.g.,

              On procedural terms, and even on substantive law, I don’t see how we have any room to criticize our predecessors, when we’re perfectly happy with a grotesquely unfair, random, arbitrary legal system.

              • Jem

                “The inquisition at worst sentenced people to whatever the secular government chose to do.”

                Absolute gibbering nonsense. The exact opposite of what actually happened:


                • jroberts548

                  Did you read before you linked?

                  Law 24.

                  Those convicted of heresy by the aforesaid Diocesan Bishop ,surrogate or inquisitors, shall be taken in shackles
                  to the head of state or ruler or his special representative, instantly, or at least within five days, and the latter shall apply the regulations promulgated against such persons.

                  • Jem

                    Um … yes. That’s the exact opposite of what you said. Where’s the secular government ‘choosing’ what to do in any of the process that’s outlined in that document?

                    • jroberts548

                      Those convicted are handed over. The secular government is expected to apply whatever law the secular government has against those convicted.

                    • Jem

                      “The secular government is expected to apply whatever law the secular government has against those convicted.”

                      Whatever law they, locally, just happen to have about heresy on their books?

                      I know that a standard tactic Catholic apologists adopt is to try to stupid your opponent to death with positions that adopt such an astonishing level of redefinition of common words, historical and scientific ignorance, hypocrisy and lack of self awareness that it is almost impossible to bring rational thinking to bear on them, but I think you might actually have beaten today’s previous top winner, ‘isn’t it terrible that Du Pont heir is getting away with child abuse because of his position in society?’.

                    • jroberts548

                      Since I’m so busy stupiding you to death, could you tell me how § 24 of ad extirpanda doesn’t say exactly what I’m saying it does?

                      ETA: I’m not saying the Inquisition is perfect or even good. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m not nostalgic for the days of burnt heretics and indulgences for carrying the wood. What I am saying is that if you object to killing heretics, you should object to the secular heads of state in Lombardy, etc. at least as much as you object to the Inquisition itself, which feeds into my broader point, that the Inquisition isn’t that bad compared to the Inquisition’s contemporaries, or even to the present day system used in the U.S. That’s a low bar – our present day criminal justice system is incredibly bad. Instead of whining about the mote in our predecessors’ eyes, we should do something about the beam in our own.

  • Jem

    Again, what we have here is the startling news that if you read an article, not just the headline, that you’ll discover things are a little more nuanced and complicated than the headline would suggest.

    And, also, we again have the suggestion that when the priesthood commits a heinous act that ‘well, other people were doing it, too’ or ‘it was all so long ago’ makes everything better.

    The Inquisition was more complicated than the storybook version? Yes, of course it was. Just as every historical era is. The Dark Ages weren’t dark, the Victorians didn’t have Victorian values, there was more to Henry VIII than the fact he only had one wife.

    If anyone thinks that when people compile a top five list of Things Wrong With the Catholic Church These Days that ‘Torquemada’ is one of them … well, sorry to break it to you, but ‘no’. ‘A reflexive urge to whitewash the sins of the past’? Well, possibly.

    • chezami

      Yes. That’s why people usually read the article and not just the headline, Jem.

      • Jem

        Recently, you said the NHS incinerating fetuses as medical waste was considered ‘just being Green and promoting recycling and sustainability in Britain’. The story stated the *exact* opposite of that. Either you didn’t read the story carefully or you willfully misrepresented it. Which was it?