Pharyngula

Hey, papal apologists (papalologists?), stop reading this! You won’t like it. It’s nothing but a couple of links to religion-bashing, prompted by the naked sectarian stupidity of one bizarre religious leader.

Christopher Hitchens takes the pope to task for pissing off Islam (a triviality, as always) and criticizing the application of reason.

It is often said–and was said by Ratzinger when he was an underling of the last Roman prelate–that Islam is not capable of a Reformation. We would not even have this word in our language if the Roman Catholic Church had been able to have its own way. Now its new reactionary leader has really “offended” the Muslim world, while simultaneously asking us to distrust the only reliable weapon–reason–that we possess in these dark times. A fine day’s work, and one that we could well have done without.

At least the atheists aren’t going to respond by shooting any nuns in the back. Can we just tell both Islam and Christianity to take their Dark Age superstitions and stuff them up an orifice into an equally dark, putrid place? A pox on both of them. But to the Islamic fundamentalists…a special curse on their brand of hatred and violence.

Also, Sam Harris similarly cusses out Pope Ratzi for baselessly appropriating reason. Sorry, Pope, it isn’t yours.

While the pope succeeded in enraging millions of Muslims, the main purpose of his speech was to chastise scientists and secularists for being, well, too reasonable. It seems that nonbelievers still (perversely) demand too much empirical evidence and logical support for their worldview. Believing that he was cutting to the quick of the human dilemma, the pope reminded an expectant world that science cannot pull itself up by its own bootstraps: It cannot, for instance, explain why the universe is comprehensible at all. It turns out that this is a job for … (wait for it) … Christianity. Why is the world susceptible to rational understanding? Because God made it that way. While the pope is not much of a conjurer, many intelligent and well-intentioned people imagined they actually glimpsed a rabbit in this old hat. Andrew Sullivan, for instance, praised the pope’s “deep and complicated” address for its “clarity and openness.”

Sullivan has confused “pompous and contradictory” for “deep and complicated”, I think, and Harris has the old man pegged. This was an appeal to treat Christian superstition as primary, ruling over the false religion of Islam and the even more detestable godlessness of much of Western culture. It was played for the Catholic conservatives, no one else.

I don’t think the Pope should apologize for his remarks, however. The more it is made clear that religion is a source of division and ignorance, the sooner we can hope to be rid of it.

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    September 19, 2006

    Stanton wrote:

    Nance: in a nutshell, I find that Ba’Hai is superior, given as how all of its holy writings and doctrine specifically forbid its followers from engaging in fits of “My religion and I are holier than thou,” unlike the way, say, what the Pope has been doing.

    Although the Ba’Hai make a great deal of their seeing all religions as “different paths to God,” I think they are not so tolerant of nonbelief. When it comes to the “ungodly” and those who deny ALL Gods, they appear to switch faces and sound very like other religions. According to Baha’u’llah, one should “eschew all fellowship with the ungodly” for “Know thou for a certainty that whoso disbelieveth in God is neither trustworthy nor truthful.” Uh huh, here we go again…

  2. #2 Keith Douglas
    September 19, 2006

    AoT: Once again, why do you think science and metaphysics are necessarily disjoint? (I’ve posted on this repeatedly, so you might want to search for previous discussions.) For example, what makes you think the universe is not self-perpetuating? (I wrote on this just yesterday, I believe it was.)

    Sastra: I get the impression that the intolerance to non-theists is common to some strains of Islam, as well.

  3. #3 Nance Confer
    September 19, 2006

    Exactly, Sastra.

    Why bother with all the claptrap.

    Nance

  4. #4 Pip
    September 19, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    Although the Ba’Hai make a great deal of their seeing all religions as “different paths to God,” I think they are not so tolerant of nonbelief. When it comes to the “ungodly” and those who deny ALL Gods, they appear to switch faces and sound very like other religions. According to Baha’u’llah, one should “eschew all fellowship with the ungodly” for “Know thou for a certainty that whoso disbelieveth in God is neither trustworthy nor truthful.” Uh huh, here we go again…

    In my experience, this is pretty far from the truth. My mother, a Baha’i for seven years now, is and always has been accepting of the rest of the family’s agnosticism. The writings may state that Baha’is should “eschew all fellowship with the ungodly,” but none of the Baha’is I know have any sort of problem with atheism and agnosticism. Many of them would consider me and my fathr o be friends, despite our lack of belief.

    Now I’m not saying this is true across the board, but in all my dealings with Baha’is I’ve found them to be more tolerant of atheism than any other religious group.

  5. #5 Sastra
    September 19, 2006

    Baha’i may be just another religion, but at least it’s the kind that seems to foster mild attitudes toward other people. I’ve never heard of a Baha’i foaming at the mouth and calling for the death of a nonbeliever.

    Because it makes such play of tolerance and acceptance, Baha’i tends to attract tolerant folk. No surprise there. But their scriptures appear to heap more than a little fire and scorn on the ungodly nonbelievers. I have also known or heard of them withdrawing from “ecumenical” events which contain atheists. When you emphasise the unity of humanity under the “we all follow God in different ways” mantra you have a rather nice set up for the exclusion of atheists.

    Of course, there is no doubt a lot of variation among Baha’is, as with all groups. Since they promote nonviolence, I don’t really expect to see them waging jihad against the Ungodly.

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