SEB Mailbag: Try taking on the Catholics for a change redux.

I didn’t mention it previously, but I did dash off a reply to Mr. William Michael’s email which I posted earlier. Here’s what I said:

William,

That’s some impressively tortured logic you’ve got going there. Doesn’t tend to lend well to your claim that you can answer any argument I might be able to put forth. Atheism is simply the lack of theistic belief. It has no bearing on politics, marriage, or holidays. How you figure those three things imply an “end to human life higher than survival” is beyond me. I bow to your superior, if somewhat spurious, logic.

I do appreciate the email, though. It’s sure to amuse the folks who drop by my blog. Thanks for sending it along!

Les

I figured that would be enough to piss him off and he’d wander back into whatever dark recess he had scurried out from as most of the Catholics I’ve gotten email from tend to do. Usually it’s the Evangelicals that are persistent, but it appears Mr. Michael is of sterner stuff as he replied back:

Les,

As I expected, you suggest that my logic is flawed, but provide no reason for your criticism other than your opinion.  That kind of dumb response is what I meant when I said you should leave the little pond of idiots and put up some real reasons for your views—-which you obviously think are important enough to post on a website.  Your too acustomed to picking on the little girls, like Georgie Porgie…”when the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.”

Having opinions without demonstrable reasons is called “prejudice” and suggests a lack of proof rather than any real thought.  Every fool has an opinion.  Rhetorically, if you had reasons you were ready to stand behind you’d be able to let them speak for you, rather than suggesting that the support of your blog viewers is proof.  If numbers of supporters is proof, then I think Catholicism would win on a worldwide contest.  Knowing you don’t think that, what are your reasons?

Here are some questions I bet you will struggle to answer in a positive way. 

  1. What is the purpose of human life?  You obviously cannot have an opinion about what a government should do before you can state what the purpose of life even is.  I would love to read your answer to a question like this.  Again, not you picking on other people’s answers, but something of your own for consideration.
  2. What makes a day or event greater than any other?  After all, to set a holiday as a day of rest from other activities, or to recognize one event over another, implies that one is more significant than the other.  What exactly is this system of ranking events in the mind of an atheist?  Also, if holidays are intended to be celebrated in common, what would be the link that bound these groups together?  Or would there be as many holidays as individuals?
  3. What is the starting principle from which you define human rights?  I’d like to understand how an atheist concludes that humans have any “rights”.  The idea of a human right assumes that (a) there is a law higher than that of the individual and (b) that right is evident to humans in general, not in particular.  What exactly do you believe those rights are and what is your justification for them?

Again, refutations are a dime a dozen, demonstrations are the proof of reason and truth.  State your ideas positively, and we’ll know whether you really have anything to say.  Maybe you can post your answers to my questions on your blog and let people offer criticism of them.  After all, you’re a free thinker and no prejudiced or narrow-minded individual, right?

Bill Michael

***

William Michael, Director
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Phone: (704)764-8641
E-Mail: mail@classicalliberalarts.com

I’ve not replied yet as I thought I’d take some time and consider my answers, but I will get to it eventually. I thought you folks would be interested in seeing his latest missive, though, so here you go.

SEB Mailbag: Try taking on the Catholics for a change.

Got the following email just a few moments ago:

From: Classical Liberal Arts Academy ()
Subject: Come into the Big Pond

If you were truly an atheist, wouldn’t you also not concern yourself with politics, holidays, marriage, etc..?  All of these things imply that there is an end to human life higher than survival.  Wouldn’t you simply ignore these things as products of religion and susperstition?  No matter what, atheism leads one to deny the reality of ideas and institutions that transcend animal life and your concern for these things undermines your whole point and suggests there is a higher end for human beings than eating, drinking and reproducing.

It seems to me you flatter yourself by beating up on people you know have no clue what they’re talking about….evangelical Protestants and the media.  We all know they’re idiots.  Why not be honest and take on the Catholic philosophers who actually understand how to debate and argue fairly with respectable reasons.  They’re not on TV or on cheap websites…they’re in universities and monasteries around the world.  Again, not the bad apples among Catholic priests (who are on the lowest rung of the totem pole in Catholicism) and clueless laymen, but the teachers and practicers of true Christian philosophy who can answer every argument you make? 

I look forward to seeing you put your ideas up for debate with people who actually can answer them, not the morons who tie their own shoes together.  I for one would be able to refute any argument you have against the (Catholic) Christian faith, which has always been presented with concern for not only faith but also natural human reason.

***
William Michael
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
E-Mail: wmichael@alumni.rutgers.edu

Try to make sense out of that tortured logic.

Catholic Archdiocese thinks they have a monopoly on talking with Jesus’ mom.

Apparently the Baltimore Archbishop is afraid of some competition in the speaking for imaginary friends arena:

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP)—The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore has told a Pennsylvania woman to stop disseminating messages that she claims she receives from the Virgin Mary.
 
The warning in a pastoral advisory from Archbishop Edwin O’Brien marks an escalation of the church’s efforts to silence Gianna Sullivan of rural Fairfield, Pa. It warns Sullivan not to talk or write about the alleged apparitions anywhere within the archdiocese, which includes Baltimore City and nine Maryland counties.
 
The archdiocese concluded in 2000 that the alleged visions were not divine and barred Sullivan from delivering them at an Emmitsburg church. The Vatican upheld that decision in 2003.
 
Sullivan now delivers her messages at monthly gatherings at a conference center in Frederick County.

No word on what they plan to do if she keeps it up, but it’ll probably involve sending some priests over to threaten her children. Please, think of the children.

Roman Catholics freak out when man takes Eucharist “hostage.”

I’m often chastised by some folks when I use the word delusional to describe many Christians, but the evidence is often overwhelming even among what could be considered mainstream denominations. Take the Roman Catholics for example. Usually they demonstrate their delusional state by seeing piss-poor images of Jesus Christ or his mother in random inanimate objects, but you could write that off as just them being quirky in a (mostly) harmless way. Every now and then, however, they’ll do something that reveals just how nuts they really are.

Things such as freaking out when someone doesn’t participate in the cannibalistic ritual communion the way they’re supposed to like this guy:

“When I received the Eucharist, my intention was to bring it back to my seat to show him,” Cook said. “I took about three steps from the woman distributing the Eucharist and someone grabbed the inside of my elbow and blocked the path in front of me. At that point I put it in my mouth so they’d leave me alone and I went back to my seat and I removed it from my mouth.”

A church leader was watching, confronted Cook and tried to recover the sacred bread. Cook said she crossed the line and that’s why he brought it home with him.

“She came up behind me, grabbed my wrist with her right hand, with her left hand grabbed my fingers and was trying to pry them open to get the Eucharist out of my hand,” Cook said, adding she wouldn’t immediately take her hands off him despite several requests.

Webster Cook is a UCF Student Senator down in Florida and he has caused quite a ruckus because he didn’t eat Jesus’ flesh. That’s what this is all about after all: Transubstantiation—that the cracker they give you during communion literally becomes the body of Christ after the priest blesses it. Which, as I said before, when you think about it makes this a cannibalistic ritual which is kinda scary in its own right.

Had this incident ended here then I’d probably write it off as just a minor confrontation between mildly crazy people and move along to the next news item, but it doesn’t end there. No, the Catholic church has to take the lunacy up a couple of notches:

“We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was,” said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese.  “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”

A hate crime? Are they fucking serious? You bet your sweet Jesus cake they are:

“It is hurtful,” said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. “Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family.”

Gonzalez said the Diocese is willing to meet with Cook and help him understand the importance of the Eucharist in hopes of him returning it. The Diocese is dispatching a nun to UCF’s campus to oversee the next mass, protect the Eucharist and in hopes Cook will return it.

Look out! He’s kidnapped our cracker! Quick! Call in the Eat Your Damned Jesus Nuns to make sure this never happens again!

This is, in two words, fucking insane. It doesn’t just stop with the church officials either. Reports are that Catholics “worldwide” were outraged and bombarded Cook with hate mail, death threats, and other abuse prompting him to finally return the cracker and end the hostage crisis:

Cook said he just wanted to show the Eucharist to a friend he brought with questions about Catholicism before consuming it. But outraged Catholics across the globe didn’t believe him and suspected he intended all along to steal the Eucharist and bloggers sent out e-mail messages damning him to Hell.

“I am returning the Eucharist to you in response to the e-mails I have received from Catholics in the UCF community,” Cook wrote in a letter to the church. “I still want the community to understand that the use physical force is wrong, especially when based on assumptions. However, I feel it is unnecessary to cause pain for those who are not at fault in this situation.”

Cook said some threatened to break into his dorm room to rescue the Eucharist. Brinati said the Diocese of Orlando didn’t condone those threats, but was happy Cook had a change of heart and returned it.

“We’ve been praying about that,” she said.

And I’m sure those prayers made all the difference as opposed to, say, the death threats. Cook could still end up being suspended by his university over the incident and he’s filed his own complaint against the Church over the use of physical force. Both complaints are still pending.

Finally, I found this last bit rather humorous:

“I want to thank the individuals who explained the emotional and spiritual pain my possession of the Eucharist caused them to experience,” he wrote. “They have demonstrated that the use [of] reason is more effective than the use of force.”

The last thing anyone involved in this episode has been using is reason. They’re going ape shit insane over a fucking cracker that they literally believe becomes the flesh of Christ. There’s no reason involved in that kind of thinking. That’s pure delusion plain and simple. That’s the crazy talking. If this had been a Hostess Cupcake they’d be locked up and drenched in Thorazine.

Pope claims an “inalienable right” for Catholics to act like Fundamentalists.

Apparently the Pope is tired of Fundamentalist Evangelists hogging the asshole spotlight for so long and wants Catholics to get in on the action:

The Roman Catholic Church has the inalienable right and duty to convert any person to Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday.

Evangelism is a central mission of the Church, the pope told a Vatican body that encourages Catholic missionary activity.

The appeal for the conversion of “all nations,” attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospels, remains “an obligatory mandate for the entire Church and for every believer in Christ,” the pontiff said.

“This apostolic commitment is both a duty and an inalienable right, the very expression of religious freedom with its moral, social and political dimensions,” he said.

[…] In December, the Vatican published a doctrinal note reaffirming the mission of all the faithful to seek to convert non-Catholics including members of other Christian denominations, while avoiding placing undue pressure on them.

I love the usage of undue pressure in that last bit. I suppose it means we shouldn’t expect any new Inquisitions anytime soon and for that I am truly grateful. Still, if any significant amount of Catholics actually tries to put this into practice then things are sure to get more annoying as a Missionary Arms Race breaks out between the Fundamentalists and Catholics. On the plus side at least they’ll be aggravating the hell out of the Protestants too which should be fun to watch.

Pope’s solution for the pedophile priest problem? Lots and lots of prayer!

There’s nothing like taking decisive action to correct a major problem. Too bad the Pope doesn’t seem to understand that. His idea of decisive action in dealing with the problem of pedophile priests is to wait five years after the church’s foundation has been rocked by the scandal and then command the churches to pray continuously for God to solve the problem:

Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy.

Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct continuous prayers for the Church to rid itself of the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Alternatively, churches in the same diocese could share the duty. Prayer would take place in one parish for 24 hours, then move to another.

The instruction was sent to bishops by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Brazil, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. He told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that he was acting in the Pope’s name. The Pope wanted Catholics to pray for the “mercy of God for the victims of the grave situations caused by the moral and sexual conduct of a very small part of the clergy”, he said.

Cause prayer works so well for sick people and sports teams. Thanks, Pope, for nothing. Which is about all your plan will add up to.

Link via Pharyngula.

Crisis in Calcata! Jesus’ foreskin is MISSING!

Sometimes you have to laugh at the antics of some Christians, particularly the Catholics who have a long tradition of venerating any random thing they can convince themselves has some connection to either Jesus or one of the Saints. From finger joints to burial shrouds there’s a lengthy list of holy relics they cling to in contradiction of their claims that they need no proof of God’s existence as their faith is enough. It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise then to learn that a church in Calcata, Italy has been guarding what they believe to be Jesus’ foreskin. A Star Tribune writer decided to check it out during a recent visit only to learn that Jesus’ dick skin has gone missing!

But Calcata’s most remarkable attraction—and the subject of a book that Farley is now writing—turned out to be something no longer there: the supposed foreskin of Jesus Christ.

For more than four centuries, the “Holy Prepuce” had been the city’s treasure, kept behind bronze doors over the altar in the Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It was displayed every year on Jan. 1, the Feast of the Holy Circumcision. At one time, pilgrims who came to venerate it were rewarded with an indulgence that cut 10 years from their time in purgatory.

To believers in Jesus’ Resurrection, Farley notes, the foreskin is “one of the only conceivable parts of his body that he could have left on Earth.”

The Feast of the Holy Circumcision!?! Now there’s a party I’d rather not be invited to.

    “Hey Bob, where’re you headed off to in such a hurry?”

    “I’m headed to the Feast of the Holy Circumcision! If I’m lucky I’ll get a chance to see Jesus’ foreskin!”

    “Uh, good luck with that. I guess.”

As it turns out it appears this “relic” is one of at least 18 supposed holy dick skins that have been claimed by various churches over the centuries and this one has been missing since 1983, which is probably a big bummer for recent attendees of the Feast of the Holy Circumcision hoping to get a glance at it. It also probably means the folks in Calcata aren’t really in crisis mode anymore, but it makes for a good headline just the same.

When it comes to weird religious rituals and artifacts it’s hard to bear the Catholics.

“Suck it, Jesus! This award is my God now!” - Kathy Griffin

If you watch the broadcast of the Emmy Awards on E! Entertainment this Saturday you won’t be hearing Kathy Griffin say that during her acceptance speech even though she did say it:

In her speech, Griffin said that “a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.”

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, “This award is my god now!”

The folks at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences felt Kathy was a tad bit over the line, ya see, so they’re going to censor her:

“Kathy Griffin’s offensive remarks will not be part of the E! telecast on Saturday night,” the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said in a statement Monday.

According to the TV academy and E!, when the four hour-plus ceremony is edited into a two-hour program, Griffin’s remarks will be shown in “an abbreviated version” in which some language may be bleeped.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue wasn’t happy either. He released a statement saying:

“Mel Gibson. Michael Richards. Isaiah Washington. Imus. Jerry Lewis. Every time a celebrity offends a segment of the population, he pays a price, in one way or another. The question now is whether Kathy Griffin will pay a similar price for her outburst. And as we have learned, her verbal assault was calculated.

“In an interview with Houston’s gay magazine, OutSmart, Griffin described herself as a ‘complete militant atheist.’ Unfortunately, her kind of vulgar in-your-face brand of hate speech found a receptive audience on Saturday: The Hollywood Reporter says her foul remark ‘drew laughs.’

“It is incumbent upon Dick Askin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, to denounce Griffin’s obscene and blasphemous comment; a statement should also be read on Sunday. After all, it is his organization that is responsible for the Creative Arts Emmy event. Moreover, given the way the Hollywood crowd received Griffin’s remark, it falls to Askin to distance the Academy from this outrageous incident. We are contacting Griffin’s agent as well.

“It is sure bet that if Griffin had said, ‘Suck it, Muhammad,’ there would have been a very different reaction from the crowd and from the media who covered this event. To say nothing of the Muslim reaction.”

So I guess what he’s really saying here is that if Muslims can pitch a fit every time someone says something they don’t like then, by golly, us Catholics can do it too! What next? Is he going to unleash rampaging nuns on Hollywood?

News of the Academy’s decision to bleep Kathy’s remarks seems to have appeased the Great Catholic Terror for the moment, but he’s still not entirely pleased:

“The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences reacted responsibly to our criticism of Kathy Griffin’s verbal assault on 85 percent of the U.S. population. The ball is now in Griffin’s court. The self-described ‘complete militant atheist’ needs to make a swift and unequivocal apology to Christians. If she does, she will get this issue behind her. If she does not, she will be remembered as a foul-mouthed bigot for the rest of her life.”

Bigot? For saying “suck it, Jesus?” You’ve got to be kidding me. I could possibly see the claim that she’s a bigot had she said something like, “all Catholics are inbred pedophiles that should be rounded up and shot like rabid dogs” but she didn’t say anything like that. She told Jesus to suck it and if anyone should be pissed it’s Jesus and I’m sure she’d love to discuss it with him over coffee should he bother to actually show up and demand an apology.

First an apology would require that she actually, you know, felt sorry about her comments. I don’t know how many of Kathy’s shows Bill has seen, but she doesn’t seem like the sort to regret saying what she said. Secondly, she has a point about stars getting up and thanking Jesus repeatedly for winning a stupid Emmy as though suggesting that Jesus would give a shit either way. There’s a certain breed of Christian out there that’s not unique to any one denomination that seems to think they have to attribute any positive thing that happens to them, no matter how trivial it happens to be, to the efforts of Jesus as opposed to anything they themselves might have done and all Kathy is doing is poking a little fun at them. If these people really believe that their success is because of Jesus’ and not themselves then they should get the hell off the stage and let Jesus go up there and accept the award. After all he did all the hard work according to them.

In the meantime I suppose Catholic League President Bill Donohue has to do something to ensure that the Muslims don’t get to hog the lucrative Overblown Outrage spotlight all to themselves for fear that Catholics will otherwise become completely irrelevant.

Jesus’ mom puts in an appearance on a garage door.

Virgin Mary Draws Crowds – DothanFirst.com

Believers say they can see the image of the Virgin Mary on a garage door in Pennsylvania. Word of the Holy Mother’s unexplainable appearance has brought crowds to the city of Minersville to see it. “It’s amazing. It’s really amazing,” said Cecelia Sell who traveled from another county to see the image.

She and her family came to see an image of what they believe is the Blessed Mary, the Mother of God. “I don’t know how to explain it because it just appears before you,” Sell said.

The image appears on a garage door. The image shows up every night around 6:00 and has done so since August 15, the feast of the assumption of mary for Catholics. The reason why is a complete mystery.

Is it just me or are these people way too easily impressed? First we have a Jesus this week that looks like a reject from an old Atari 2600 game on a fence and now we have a Virgin Mary blob on a garage door. What’s even more amazing to me than the credulity of the people gushing over this nonsense is the fact that news crews just lap it up like it’s not just a bunch of delusional people who forgot to take their medication.

If these are the best “miracles” god can come up with, well, let’s just say I’m not all that impressed. You’d think for someone so all-powerful there’d be little need to rely on such vague and amorphous images.

England’s Catholic Bishops say “Chimeras” have a right to life.

While the Bush Administration continues to restrict stem cell research here in the U.S., over in the U.K. they’re drafting up laws to regulate research using Chimeras — animal embryos with human cells in them and vice versa — so that researchers know what they are and aren’t allowed to do with these hybrid organisms. Scientists will have permission to create these organisms so long as they destroy them two weeks later.

It’s the sort of thing you’d expect the Catholic Bishops to be opposed to and in fact they are just that, but they’ve also taken a rather surprising stance on the issue:

The bishops, who believe that life begins at conception, said that they opposed the creation of any embryo solely for research, but they were also anxious to limit the destruction of such life once it had been brought into existence.

In their submission to the committee, they said: “At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and should be treated accordingly.

“In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them.

“Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so.”

Yes, the Catholic Bishops over there are actually arguing that human embryos with animal cells/DNA in them should be allowed to continue to term if the mother so desires. I totally wouldn’t have expected that sort of argument from them as it raises all sorts of ethical issues not to mention it’s not even clear these hybrids would be viable. It certainly adds a new dimension to the nickname “Johnny the Dog Faced Boy.”