Dawkins is a silly atheist turned into something serious by Catholic fundamentalists.
Richard Dawkins is no big deal, folks. Really. But he made Catholic news this week. We like making mountains out of molehills, especially the nonscholarly types among us, whether they be conservatives or liberals.
Roman Catholics are required to believe that communion wine actually is literally the blood of Christ, and the wafer literally is his body. Not symbolically but literally. Not a metaphor but literally. That way madness lies. At very least it’s a pernicious abuse of language.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 11, 2021
“Dawkins says Catholic belief in the Eucharist is madness!” When it comes to treating the Eucharist theologically, U.S. Catholics present such a sadness. There is so much more to say about it than what we usually do. I mean, Eucharist in the complete sense is the source and summit of Christianity to Catholics. It is so much more than just the consecrated species.
Check out this video on how we are presenting it—
Dawkins and the Dum-Dums
But back to Dawkins. Physical. Literal. When Americans want to stress the reality of something, those are the go-to words. Something really-real is physical. Something really-real is literal. Just listen to U.S. Catholics talk about the Resurrection and the Eucharist.
This is especially true with people who severely react to Dawkins’ insults, Catholic fundamentalists. Hang around with many Catholic fundamentalists, and you’re bound to hear these words applied to the Resurrection and the Real Presence. I know. I am a recovering fundamentalist.
“Jesus is literally on the altar! He is physically present! Body, blood, soul, and divinity! Amen!”
“Jesus physically rose from the dead. He is literally raised!”
Yep. That is the commonplace crudely physicalist understanding drummed into us from the get-go. And the bishops? They seem peachy keen with such pooled ignorance. It suits them. A weak, grossly ignorant laity is something they crave. Count the head-nodders and brown-nosers, the yesmen and the spineless jellyfish employed by the chanceries.
Dawkins & the Scratch-Off Atheists
Catholics and other Christians need to realize that the distance between fundamentalists and Richard Dawkins is very brief. Indeed, as we’ve explored before, fundamentalists are scratch-off atheists, just as silly atheists are scratch-off fundamentalists.
Not all atheists, mind you. I am not talking about the deep or mystical ones. But silly atheists like Richard Dawkins. Mind you, there is such a thing as holy atheism. Maybe we will explore that one day soon.
Just as not all atheists are silly, the same thing goes for religious people. You can even find mystics there as well. They are like unicorns, but they do exist. Unfortunately, the loudest voice in the Catholic room for some time now has been the scratch-off silly atheist. In other words, the fundamentalist. And we do have Catholic fundamentalists—they fill the ranks of our popular speakers, seminaries, media, and spotlight. Turn on EWTN if you can stomach it.
Let’s Get Physical
Physical. Literal. Go ask anyone in our U.S. society to tell you what is more real—a rock or a mermaid? Many will respond a rock. That’s not interesting. What is interesting is why. So ask them why. Almost invariably, they’ll answer, “Because I can see it, touch it, taste it,” and so on. We are all socialized to be good empiricists.
Next, explain you will ask more questions based on the answers given. Still, you insist they answer consistently with what they’ve already told you. And then ask them, “what is more real, a rock, or justice?”
If they are logically consistent, they will answer: “the rock.” You can inform the materialist before you that the injustice of genocide is less real than the rock they can touch and see. Genocide as moral evil—or moral good!—is mere opinion to them. It isn’t really-real, like the rock.
Next, ask them what is more real, a rock or God? Watch how many atheists and nihilists you discover. Our culture is prolific at producing these and their scratch-off counterpart, the fundamentalist. Notice we didn’t even understand the difference between real and mental beings and what makes a real being real? That was closed off by our empiricist commitments—”seeing is believing!”
Truly. Really. Substantially. These are the adverbs of Trent. No more, no less. Do you see “physically” there? No? How about “literally”? Okay. Keep that in mind.
Most Catholics don’t believe the official dogma:
“… the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine are converted respectively into the Body and Blood of Christ in such a way that ‘only the appearances of bread and wine remain’.”https://t.co/0Why3PBLfJ
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 11, 2021
Catholics need to think very hard about what exactly the Church means (and doesn’t mean) by the “Real Presence.” How is the Eucharist expiatory and genuinely a sacrifice? What does “substance” mean in this context? Also, how is the Eucharist a meal? How did early believers initially see it? Why did the meal aspect vanish in the West for over 1,600 years?
We Catholics must get informed about the teaching of Trent and the Second Vatican Council on the Eucharist, particularly the latter’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Most of all, we need to understand clearly what the adverbs “truly, really, and substantially” mean.
Dawkins & the Bishops
The wealthy fop bishops have created hordes of misinformed, theologically weak enablers. It is a perfect situation for them and the clericalism they crave when you think about it. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “there is no defense against stupidity!”
What the bishops haven’t realized is that stupidity is suicidal. Sure, in their centripetally selfish short-run view, the stupidity of Catholic laypeople enables them to get away with murder. But in the long run, such a populace simply cannot contend with the modern world’s challenges. Unfit and not suitable for anything in Christ or the world, the worst cultural traits (remember January 6?) flourish, and parishes go extinct.
In contrast, a challenged, empowered, critically reflective, and mystically deepened laity causes the Body of Christ to thrive. Ultimately, it demands and ensures genuine shepherds and healthy magisterium. Consequently, it will not tolerate what is the status quo in Catholic circles these days.
But why argue with Crackheads? You aren’t going to get far in that futility. Like the Happy Wanderer taught us, “Don’t try to make them happy, you’ll only get in trouble. Don’t try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time, and it irritates the pig.”
After the Easter season, we will come back to talk more about the Eucharist, the Real Presence, and those three special adverbs—truly, really, and substantially.