This can’t be real

A response to the pope

Double undue respect

We give undue respect to religion every single time we give a stand to a religious figure who prattles on about something when the reality is that that figure has no qualifications in the given matter. For example, virtually every time the pope opens his mouth there is no reason we ought to be consulting him, yet millions of people still listen to him as if he has something to add to any conversation. This latest incident is no different.

Pope Benedict XVI called Saturday for politicians, the media and world leaders to show more respect for human life at its earliest stages, saying embryos aren’t just biological material but dynamic, autonomous individuals.

Now on top of the undue respect we already give him, the pope is encouraging everyone to respect a bunch of nothing cells. There is no scientific basis for offering respect to embryos. There is no reason we ought to be listening to the pope on this. For instance, he says embryos constitute autonomous individuals (it’s unclear how they might exercise any autonomy), but does anyone for a moment believe he is aware that twinning can occur several days after an embryo initially forms? Does he still want to say that embryo was one individual? Or was it two? Or was it one and then it became two? If that is the case, then did it always have two souls or did a second soul find its way into the process post-twinning? And most importantly, how does the pope know any of this? How does he know he might be wrong? What method is he using to know? Can anyone else consult this method? Are there ways to verify this method?

Cellular potential is not a definition of being a human, the pope has no basis -nor any qualification – for saying otherwise, and we ought not give him any sort of respect on this or any other important issue.

Dawkins’ speech at Pope protest

Calling dishonesty

I’ve never been a big fan of calling someone dishonest with much ease. There are exceptions (a lot of politicians by virtue of being politicians, people who understand the science behind something but intentionally contradict it at the behest of a big corporation, i.e., researchers who long denied the effects smoking has), but I’m not usually ready to throw out a label of “dishonest” without good reason. I’ll say it for virtually all public-figure young Earth creationists because they present arguments they know are wrong (i.e., Kirk Cameron and his crocoduck; even when it was explained to him that evolution predicts no such thing, he continued to claim otherwise. I don’t think he’s smart, but he can’t be that stupid), but I won’t say it for the random young Earth creationist because they usually don’t know why their arguments are silly. For the former, I have good reason. For the latter, I do not.

And then there are theists in general. I believe most of them think their positions are valid and logical. They don’t inherently make arguments they know or believe to be false simply so they can push an agenda. This is true for all religious members as well as atheists, agnostics, and whatever else we care to name. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big name theists willing to distort facts, make up history, and outright lie.

Enter the Pope.

‘As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society.’

Specifically, he means Nazis. This is a fallacious argument that attempts to link what just about everyone recognizes as a terrible regime to atheism. Hitler wasn’t an atheist and the Nazis did not promote atheism. The Pope is being overtly and brazenly dishonest.

In light of this, PZ has a series of Hitler quotes that help to demonstrate what the German leader thought. They’re worth a look in their entirety, but I’ll provide just a few here.

“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.” (1936 speech)

~~~

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.” (1922 speech – this one goes on for longer than what I’ve represented here)

~~~

“This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief.” (Mein Kampf)

~~~

“ATHEIST HALL CONVERTED

Berlin Churches Establish Bureau to Win Back Worshippers

Wireless to the New York Times.

BERLIN, May 13. – In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League, the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining church membership.

The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national revolution, was the largest of such organizations in Germany. It had about 500,000 members …” (New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler’s outlawing of atheistic and freethinking groups in Germany in the Spring of 1933, after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree)

Far from being an atheist, Hitler believed in God. Furthermore, he actively suppressed atheist groups. The Pope, having lived in Nazi Germany and having been forced to join them, knows this. His people know it. Everyone frickin’ knows it.

But my favorite quote of all (which isn’t on that list):

Walking about in the garden of Nature, most men have the self-conceit to think that they know everything; yet almost all are blind to one of the outstanding principles that Nature employs in her work. This principle may be called the inner isolation which characterizes each and every living species on this earth. Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law–one may call it an iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind. (Mein Kampf)

Mmyes. In addition to not being an atheist, Hitler didn’t even accept the fact of evolution. Only a fundamentally dishonest theist would bother to argue otherwise.

Pope defends sexual immaturity

The pope has defended yet more Christian-based sexual immaturity.

Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended celibacy for priests as a sign of faith in an increasingly secular world Thursday, insisting on a church tradition that has increasingy (sic) come under scrutiny amid the clerical sex abuse scandal.

One of the contributing factors to the child-raping being done by priests is the massive sexual repression that religion, especially Catholicism, encourages. The whole debacle is a reflection of an institution that does not understand anything about sex beyond ‘his thingy goes in her thingy’.

Benedict responded to preselected questions from five priests and none asked for his thoughts about the scandal. One asked him to speak instead about what he called the “beauty of celibacy,” which he said was so often criticized in the secular world.

The pope acknowledged that celibacy was itself “a great scandal” in a world where people have no need for God. But he called it “a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world.”

It isn’t that people think celibacy is a so-called scandal because they don’t need God. It’s that not everyone is as sexually repressed as people like the pope, so they recognize that sex is not some chunk of evil that needs to be shoved in the closet, only to be taken out on special occasions.

But he is right about one thing. It is a sign of faith to believe celibacy is a good thing. But then, when has Christianity or any other religion cared about evidence?

More church attacks on atheism

The Catholic church has been trying to blame atheism for its sordid state as of late. No, it couldn’t be the molestation of children or the sickening excuses by people like Bill Donahue.

“You’ve got to get your facts straight,” Donohue said, addressing sex abuse victim Thomas Roberts. “I’m sorry. If I’m the only one that’s going to deal with facts tonight then that’ll be it. The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That’s not pedophilia, buddy. That’s homosexuality.”

This is one of those times where what’s being said is just so below grade, so convoluted that it doesn’t only deserve no respect, but it deserves no real response.

And it couldn’t be the pope referring to charges of child rape as “petty gossip“. I mean, it’s just massive cover ups that caused foreseeable harm to thousands of children around the world is all.

No, no. It’s all that damned secularization.

In recent decades, however, the Church in [Ireland] has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society.

Not good enough for you? Where’s the dirty A-word? We know what he means, but he isn’t saying it! How about this?

“As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist – they seem to hate the Christian God – we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain,” Dr [Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter] Jensen told worshippers.

This is another way to demand undue respect. You aren’t being nice enough to us!. As if they deserve niceness for being so hostile towards science and reason. They ought not expect “cool philosophy” when all they have to bring to the table is tortured apologetics for an evil book and an evil institution.

“Atheism is every bit of a religious commitment as Christianity itself.

“It represents the latest version of the human assault on God, born out of resentment that we do not in fact rule the world and that God calls on us to submit our lives to him.

“It is a form of idolatry in which we worship ourselves.”

What I really want to know is when are atheists going to stop beating their wives?

That whole distracting argument is irrelevant. Atheists don’t believe in God, thus anything someone thinks God declared at one point doesn’t really breed resentment. It can’t. What does, however, breed resentment is people actually trying to argue this irrelevant bull instead of addressing the issue of child rape.

The guy goes on to trot out all the normal canards used against atheists: Stalin, Pot, Hitler, and now apparently abortion. Blah blah blah. He doesn’t get it, nor can he make a coherent argument. For example,

Dr Jensen went on to say in his sermon that religion can be an “even more dangerous” form of idolatry than atheism if incorrectly interpreted.

“Here, too, religion can simply be the power game under a different guise … Atheist or religious person – we all need to be reconciled to God and give him our lives,” he added.

Isn’t that fun. Shortly after saying atheism is a religious commitment, he actually contrasts atheism and religion – and atheists and religious people – effectively cordoning them off as separate notions. He’s right to do that, of course. It’d just be nice if he had any idea why that is so.