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

Try to make sense out of that tortured logic.

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

  1. As a Catholic, I recall the part of the Bible where Jesus says not to call others “raqa” which basically means “idiot” or “fool,” and that if you call your neighbor these names that you will be liable to hell fire. So I do not think it wise for Catholics to write letters where they call other people idiots. As for the message; I suppose he is saying that Atheists should debate theologians, rather than laymen, but I am sure I have seen Atheists do so on some occasions. It wasn’t a Catholic, but I remember seeing a video of Christopher Hitchens debating a theologian.

    Anyway, that is my take on the letter, for whatever it is worth.

  2. Why try to make sense of it, Les?  Just challenge Aquinas to a wrestling match.  I want a ringside seat.

  3. Sure the catholic scholars are good at debating. The are very steadfast, right up to the point where their position cannot be still justified, at which point they try to silence those(heretics!) generating evidence to the contrary of their positions (see Copernicus, Galileo, et al).

    And at the same time they tell their followers (all of whom are explicitly told they are even LOWER on the totem pole than priests) that if they pay any heed to such ‘heretics’ that they will suffer excommunication (literally god will not hear them-‘cause the priest told god to not listen)and burn forever in hell.

    Meanwhile, they (church officials) conduct a parallel campaign, telling the wayward parishoner’s loved ones about the ‘peril’ that their child/husband/wife/parent/friends’ soul is in. Generating guilt in all involved.

    And then: “well, yeah the earth isn’t the center of the universe”.”(and by the way, your grandad who believed that before we said it was okay?- In hell)”

    and: “well, yeah, the ‘days’ of genesis are allegorical…the earth IS old.” “(Uncle so and so the geologist who knew that before we did..Yep, in hell)”

    And: “well, yeah, human beings most likely evolved from lower life forms over millenia…BUT the soul is exclusive to humans and ‘God Given’.” “(believe different and it’s hell for you)”

    Yep, good debaters they are. Parasites. I wish I could make a living defending someone else’s two thousand year old novellas.

  4. I think the point, as touched on by James, is that the Catholic church changes its position in the light of overwhelming evidence- evolution etc.  Hence it is easier to laugh at YEC’s etc.  With Catholics there is just the unprovable stuff left- God, Souls, Afterlife etc.

  5. Precisely the criticism often leveled at Dawkins, that he opposes a simplistic, straw-man Christianity and doesn’t know enough to argue against those whose religious fantasy is more elaborate. 

    Really, ever talk to a schizophrenic?

  6. Try to make of it? Here’s my modest attempt:

    Les, it’s the “Dawkins doesn’t know theology” play in reverse. You shouldn’t debate the crushing majority of believers (“clueless laymen”) and the simplistic beliefs they indeed hold, but instead go after the highly sophisticated sophistry of Catholic theologians and apologists.

    The same answers apply. First, no double standards—if it’s okay for theists to hold simple beliefs, then it’s perfectly legitimate to attack these simple beliefs. Second, the courtier’s reply. But hey, the belief pushers would like nothing better than for atheists to limit themselves to an academic debate of theological poppycock that’s inaccessible to the masses of sheep; after all, pointing out the fallacies and inadequacies of what the sheep actually believe might just get them to doubt and worse, think.

  7. 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?

    I hope he’s not going to use that question as an example of how much better Catholics are at debating Atheists.  If that’s all they got, I’ll debate him anytime.  Politics is a product of religion and superstition?  Maybe the way it’s done in congress…..

  8. I don’t see the need for you to debate the theologians at all. It’s not an issue of you having to promote your beliefs to them in the first place. There’s no point to it, and frankly, it’s an unwinnable argument from either side. Both parties will walk away remaining unconvinced of the other side’s views. You have no need to defend your personal beliefs to every monk and philosopher who comes along to call you on it. Let them tilt at windmills.

    BTW, the guy’s first sentence implying a nexus between “an end higher than survival” and “politics, holidays and marriage” was silly. One can engage in all three of the latter in a perfectly secular environment – they do not necessarily point to a higher being, unless of course you make it so. Thus, a circular argument. Politics, holidays and marriage are all things that can be viewed from a strictly humanistic viewpoint. I can easily make the argument that I can view Christmas as nothing more than a secular occasion for me to bond with family every Dec. 25. Yet I do not question why my religious family members view it differently. Thus, the real nexus is the personal choice to believe in what you believe.

  9. I don’t see the need for you to debate the theologians at all.

    Burden of proof and all that.

    The Catholic Church discredits itself quite nicely even without the help of debates, not that the True Believers™ in that company would see it that way…

  10. What really pisses me off about the Xtians is this:

    First, they tell you that you were born in sin and are a sinner.

    Second, they tell you that THEIR way is the only way out.

    Talk about a protection racket!


  11. Talk about a protection racket!

    *expensive suit, guy with raspy voice and no neck*

    “Say, that’s a nice soul you got there.  Be a shame if something were to… happen to it…”

  12. It’s exactly like a protection racket.  They threaten you, create an imaginary source for the threat and tell you if you don’t do what they say, you will be hurt by this threat.  If it were anything but a religion, it would be a scam and they could be prosecuted for fraud.  Since it’s the Catholic church, what they say is not only more credible, but protected by law.

  13. Oh, I wish I could remember the comedian’s name.  His standup routine includes a slam at Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious doorbell ringers.  Some funny moves and comments about how to get them off his doorstep.

    Then he segues into a memory of his “old school” Italian neighbourhood where one of the local “businessmen” became a convert.  Not so easy to shoo-dismiss off his doorstep.  He conjured a hilarious picture of a mafiaso with his side men standing on the step.

    “Has you hoid da woid of God today?  I tink I should have a talk with youse.”

  14. But, on topic, I experienced this many times with some Mormon acquaintances.  Any challenge to their wingnut beliefs and the buck was immediately passed to the “proper, higher authorities”.

    I’m not asking why they believe.  I’m asking-discussing-debating why YOU believe.

  15. Well…well…you can’t disprove God, so nanny nanny boo boo! I’m right, you’re wrong! Ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

    Or my favorite is the ontological argument:

    I can conceive of a perfect being called “God”.
    Since an aspect of perfection is existence, God must therefore exist.

    Personally, I can conceive of a my bank account being full of millions of U.S. dollars, but it apparently only works in this one special case of God’s existence.

  16. I don’t know which hurts the brain more: his incredibly narrow understanding of atheism, or his incredibly condescending attitude toward other christians.

  17. I don’t know which hurts the brain more: his incredibly narrow understanding of atheism, or his incredibly condescending attitude toward other christians.

    Narrow hell.  I don’t know ANY Atheist who thinks the way he’s describing.  I’ve seen frothing fanatics who understand Atheism better than this guy.

    If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t want this person anywhere near my side.

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