Pharyngula

Pope Benedict denounces god!

Good news, everyone! In a new encyclical that reveals the papacy is feeling the heat from all those vocal atheists, the pope makes a startling admission:

Reciting arguments made by atheists, he said: “A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God.

Exactly. Good on yer, Ratzi. I knew you’d see the light someday.

The rest of it is pious noise, about what you’d expect from the lunatic leader of a globe-spanning cult of ridiculous mythology, and I give bugger all for what a puffed-up theologian in funny robes says. Those two sentences, though, give me some hope that his rational humanity might someday shine through.

Nah. Just kidding. That’ll never happen.

Comments

  1. #1 Glenn
    November 30, 2007

    Is it just me, or was that article really poorly written? I can’t tell what that quote is supposed to mean — was that the Pope stating what he thinks the atheist argument is?

  2. #2 inkadu
    November 30, 2007

    Would you quote-mine your dying grandmother in the hospital?

    Some more interesting tidbits:

    History has proven wrong ideologies such as Marxism which say humans had to establish social justice because God did not exist, the Pope wrote.

    I guess the Church can cross social justice off its list of things to do this century. Though, that might have been a really awkwardly written sentence by the reporter.

    And he did actually say something I agree with:

    “We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world,” he said.

    Excellent. Let’s start making progress in man’s ethical formation and get rid of religion.

  3. #3 Drew Habits
    November 30, 2007

    I thought the side of reason was above cherry-picking, Professor.

    Although I guess a small video of that section of the speech would be pretty funny if I spoke whatever language it was delivered in.

  4. #4 Dustin
    November 30, 2007

    Is it just me, or was that article really poorly written? I can’t tell what that quote is supposed to mean — was that the Pope stating what he thinks the atheist argument is?

    Yeah, I was expecting to see Ratzi’s quote followed up by some kind of qualification like, “Yeah, God is a bastard but…”

    Of course, he was in the Hitler Youth. It could just be that he’s being consistent and subscribing to pagan blood myths now.

    It could also be that he meant to say, “Yeah, God is a bastard, but Marxism is worse so neener-neener”.

  5. #5 hyperdeath
    November 30, 2007

    “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.”

    Is it just me, or does this say far more about Ratzinger than it says about humanity?

    “Every aspect of my life is barren, worthless, miserable and meaningless. But that doesn’t matter because Jebus will make it better…”

  6. #6 Shaggy Maniac
    November 30, 2007

    “It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,” the Pope said. Such a concept was grounded in “intrinsic falsity”.

    The irony meter just went off scale.

  7. #7 Glenn
    November 30, 2007

    Yeah, Shaggy, that really defines chutzpah, doesn’t it?

  8. #8 Matt Heath
    November 30, 2007

    It’s good that Pope Palpatine is bothered enough by vocal godlessness to want to talk about it. That’s a small victory.

    Also the fact that God’s vicar on Earth was in the Hitler Youth and has the eyes of a killer can’t be doing Him any good.

    I’m glad for this guy.

  9. #9 Jason Failes
    November 30, 2007

    From the article:

    “If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.”

    And that’s what Secular Humanism tries to do, Ben, progress our collective ethics past dualistic thinking, past in-group prejudices of us vs them, past discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality, or privately held cosmological opinions.

    In short, we want to get past all the things promoted by ancient, unchanging, nonprogressing myths, including your own.

    Sorry, Ben, if you want to “progress”, lead by example and dump, if not your religion entire, then at least all of it that disagrees with the findings of science, and all that is disgusting in light of todays progressing morality.

  10. #10 Sven DiMilo
    November 30, 2007

    An excellent take on the Problem of Evil was published in this month’s Harper’s (apparently behind a paywall). By a couple of philosophers ( David K. Lewis and Philip Kitcher), the gist is that 1) according to the Bible, God Hisself has been directly responsible for far more objectively judged “evil” acts than have people; 2) those who worship this god are complicent in that evil; 3) to the extent that those who do not worship this god admire some of those who do, they are also, by extension, complicent in this evil (the analogy used is “Fritz” (must…resist…temptation…to substitute…”Ratzi”), a sincere and committed neo-Nazi who admires/worships Hitler in spite/because of Hitler’s evil; even if Fritz himself has never harmed anyone we would consider him evil for his admiration alone), and therefore 4) the only people NOT complicent in evil are the committed misanthropes who hate everybody without exception.

    The lead-off Notebook essay by Curtis White is called “Hot Air Gods,” and is also quite cogent on the subject of belief and atheism. Worth buying a copy.

    Plus, over at the website is this excellent Mr. Fish cartoon.

    [/Harper’s shill]

  11. #11 Dan
    November 30, 2007

    Here’s the English version of it:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html

    I’m pretty sure that he’s actually saying it’s not God’s fault, and so his opponents are in error for blaming an omnipotent god for the things in his creation. I might be assuming that ‘cuz he’s the pope, though.

  12. #12 Bastian
    November 30, 2007

    Since this is a blog that deals with evolution and the like, I’m wondering if it might be edifying to see a post that addresses the possibility that there’s a hereditary component to the inability to put one’s tongue in one’s cheek.

  13. #13 Sastra, OM
    November 30, 2007

    I saw the same thing inkadu and Jason Failes did — partly because of a misreading.

    “We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world,” he said.

    I read too fast, and missed the sentence on the Pope urging hope for the future. I thought the “he” who made the statement referred to someone from Italy’s Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists (UAAR), in the earlier quote. How nice, they’re actually letting atheists expand their rebuttal a bit. Oh. Wait. That was that other guy.

    How is it “progress in man’s ethical formation” to hark back to the morals of a culture which believed in authority, servitude, superstition, and blood sacrifice as foundational values?

  14. #14 C.W
    November 30, 2007

    Apparently, wearing a funny hat doesn’t nessecarily raise your thinking above the level of standard creationist brain-twitches. “Stalin was an atheist, so atheism implies stalinism”. Gah.

    About that hat… I always wondered if it’s padded with tinfoil.

  15. #15 CalGeorge
    November 30, 2007

    “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.”

    How do you say bullshit in Church Latin?

    I remain without hope as long as power-hungry people like the Pope delude themselves and others about a Fantasy God.

    Wake the fuck up, you malicious, manipulative, mind-fucking asshole!

    No God = Hopeless = Pitiful, Bullshit Propagnada

    Hey, Pope, your robes and pointy hat and ceremonies and bullshit pronouncements are grounded in a fucking lie.

    Atheism = Expose Religious Bullshit = Reason to hope that humanity can free itself from mind-fuckers like YOU!

  16. #16 G
    November 30, 2007

    merde bubula

    I think that’s the closest you’ll get to church latin anyway…though it technically means ‘cattle manure’.

  17. #17 Warren
    November 30, 2007

    How do you say bullshit in Church Latin?

    Posted by: CalGeorge

    Benedict.

    You know, if god weren’t already dead, we’d’ve had to kill him.

  18. #18 Timcol
    November 30, 2007

    PZ wrote: “The rest of it is pious noise, about what you’d expect from the lunatic leader of a globe-spanning cult of ridiculous mythology, and I give bugger all for what a puffed-up theologian in funny robes says.”

    “bugger all” – isn’t that what the Priest said to the alter boys? Actually I’d bet money that Ratzi is quite the expert on buggery…

  19. #19 Owlmirror
    November 30, 2007

    How do you say bullshit in Church Latin?

    I think it would be something like stercus tauri.

  20. #20 MonoApe
    November 30, 2007

    Hey, CalGeorge – stop sitting on the fence. Take a stance. 😉

    Over the last couple of days I’ve been in ‘enemy territory’, debating on Christian forums and comment boards. The abiding lesson has been that logical discourse, facts and clear thinking are like bullets to Superman. Can’t remember who coined it, but it went something like:

    “those who come to a conclusion by a process without rational, logical thought, cannot be dissuaded from that conclusion by logical, rational argument”. [sigh]

  21. #21 Schmeer
    November 30, 2007

    C.W.,
    He’s the freakin pope! I bet that hat is lined with gold.

  22. #22 CalGeorge
    November 30, 2007

    … eternity is “not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction.”
    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0706836.htm

    Glad that’s been cleared up.

    The guy’s bonkers.

  23. #23 Bad Albert
    November 30, 2007

    “Reciting arguments made by atheists, he said: …”

    I read this as dope Ratzi just repeating the statements of some evil atheists, not denouncing god. He then proceeds to blow sunshine up everyone’s ass with his rebuttal which translates to:

    “Everything will be fine if you just keep sending me your money.”

  24. #24 June
    November 30, 2007

    Wow! You can almost see the Pope eager to take pen in hand to write an inspiring letter to the faithful,
    based on some trite syllogism that God is Hope, and Hope is Good, so therefore God is Good.

    From there on, he stumbles around in myth and symbolism, hoping to find a God to have Hope in.
    He even acknowledges the fundamental premise of modern atheism: that without a God,
    mankind would need to provide its own Hope. He lamely asserts that atheism is false,
    his only proof being that “A world that has to create its own justice is a world without hope”.

    He misses the obvious insight that — since there is no God — the only possible world we can hope for is one in which mankind rises above its instincts to provide hope and justice.

  25. #25 J-Dog
    November 30, 2007

    What do you all expect from a guy that wears a penis on his head? In public?

  26. #26 MonoApe
    November 30, 2007

    Another thing I’d like to comment on, amongst us godless, is that: we have the vast majority of eloquent,articulate and grammatically correct writers. The god botherers seem to prefer capitals and exclamation marks to make their POINT!!!(sic)

  27. #27 tsig
    November 30, 2007

    those who come to a conclusion by a process without rational, logical thought, cannot be dissuaded from that conclusion by logical, rational argument”. [sigh]

    You can’t reason with ureason

  28. #28 NonyNony
    November 30, 2007

    I need to go track down the encyclical later and read it, because that article is a mess. The quote PZ put up there is the most amazing bit of mess – I do not believe that Benedict was actually stating as true what it says in the quote. There has to be another sentence where he attempts to rebut that argument or something.

    And the article has him making a horrible logical error. “Marxism postulates there is no God. Marxism failed. Therefore there must be a God.” That barely strings together into a coherent thought, much less a logical argument. That’s Bill O’Reilly territory there.

    If this article actually is a good summary of what’s in the encyclical, then Benedict is losing it. Whatever else can be said about the man, he’s a highly trained theologian and should be able to do better than this in an attempt to refute atheism – this is the type of thing that would get picked apart on Usenet, let alone by trained philosophers. Something this bad seems like an indicator of a loss of mental faculties.

    (To say nothing of this quote: “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.” What? This gives no argument that there IS a god. Instead it’s an argument that if god didn’t exist we would need to invent him for some reason – perhaps as an explanation of the unknown to calm our fear of it. That doesn’t even rise to the level of a CS Lewis argument – it’s more like a rebuttal you expect to hear from a troll on a blog.)

  29. #29 Y.T. Knows
    November 30, 2007

    And just where does he think that bullet-proof glass on his damned Pope-mobile came from? God?

    I know it’s been said before, but if people of faith have so much of a problem with science, technology and reason… then they should immediately stop using any of the millions of useful discoveries and devices that science has wrought.

    And hell, at least I wasn’t in the Hitler Youth. Triple-neener.

  30. #30 June
    November 30, 2007

    “I do not believe that Benedict was actually stating as true what it says in the quote. There has to be another sentence where he attempts to rebut that argument or something.”

    That’s correct – he is summarizing the position of modern atheism, and dismisses it lamely as “false”. The preceding sentence contains its own groaner: “The atheism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is–in its origins and aims–a type of moralism: a protest against the injustices of the world and of world history.” Not really; atheism is originally a denial of God’s existence; any morals that emerge are those of the individual atheist.

    BTW, #11 already posted the URL of the English version.
    PZ’s sentence is way down, at paragraph 42.

  31. #31 reindeer386sx :P
    November 30, 2007

    How would he even know if his god is good and just? Even if god came down and told him personally, how would he know that he should take god’s word for it? The pope can only be guessing. Shrug!

  32. #32 Scott Hatfield, OM
    November 30, 2007

    (sighing) The puzzling renderings of the Pope’s latest pronouncement weren’t what I had in mind when I began thinking about the incoherency of belief.

    It’s bad enough attempting to think clearly about the implications of belief, and were it appears to be contradictory, without having to decipher prose whose structure is incoherent. But the Church seems to favor a dense style of prose that requires a certain amount of unwrapping, as if their style guide was Aquinas.

  33. #33 C. M. Baxter
    November 30, 2007

    “It is no accident that this idea [atheism] has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,” the Pope said. Such a concept was grounded in “intrinsic falsity”.

    Thus spake the pope.

    Then I read the next news article:

    KHARTOUM, Sudan – Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear “Muhammad.”

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 30, 2007

    the only people NOT compl[a]cent in evil are the committed misanthropes who hate everybody without exception.

    Caledonian wins the Holy Grail.

  35. #35 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 30, 2007

    the only people NOT compl[a]cent in evil are the committed misanthropes who hate everybody without exception.

    Caledonian wins the Holy Grail.

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 30, 2007

    How do you say bullshit in Church Latin?

    Merda bovis? Hm… merda tauri is probably closer.

    (But then, the phrase doesn’t even exist in a language as close to English as German, so…)

    And hell, at least I wasn’t in the Hitler Youth. Triple-neener.

    Had you been at the wrong age in the wrong time and place, you would have been in the Hitler Youth. From something like 1938 onwards, it was not optional, and even before the bullying was immense.

    as if their style guide was Aquinas.

    What makes you think Aquinas, the doctor angelicus, is not their style guide? 🙂

  37. #37 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 30, 2007

    How do you say bullshit in Church Latin?

    Merda bovis? Hm… merda tauri is probably closer.

    (But then, the phrase doesn’t even exist in a language as close to English as German, so…)

    And hell, at least I wasn’t in the Hitler Youth. Triple-neener.

    Had you been at the wrong age in the wrong time and place, you would have been in the Hitler Youth. From something like 1938 onwards, it was not optional, and even before the bullying was immense.

    as if their style guide was Aquinas.

    What makes you think Aquinas, the doctor angelicus, is not their style guide? 🙂

  38. #38 Sven DiMilo
    November 30, 2007

    David (#34): heh! Sometimes I miss Cal around here.
    Hmmm, did I make up the word “complicent”? I was referring to complicity, not complacency.

  39. #39 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    Sven, you’ve coined a new word:

    complicent adj 1. complacently complicit.

    Call me crazy, but I miss Cal, too.

    Has the Pope made a statement about the Inquisition yet?

  40. #40 Sven DiMIlo
    November 30, 2007

    Ah, complicit! That’s it.
    How embarrassing to be outpedanted (oops…made that one up too, didn’t I?).
    I take some comfort from the facts that:
    a) “complicit” does not make my trusty 1949 Webster’s New Collegiate. (Of course, neither does “complicent.”)
    b) I am not the only one; “complicit” beats “complicent” in a Google Fight only 2,210,000 to 3,470. (No telling how many of those 3.47K were misspelling “complacent,” however.)

  41. #41 DLC
    November 30, 2007

    Could we get an “equal time” statement from Dawkins, or that hugely amusing Pat Condrell ?

  42. #42 woozy
    November 30, 2007

    The first time I read it, I interpretted it as “God can not be evil hence Athiests are doing all the evil”. The second time I read it, I interpretted it as a reiteration of the Atheist argument and a follow through to the Marxist argument, which are *then* dismissed as “intrinsically false” as the conclussion, there is no god, is obviously false and such an obviously false conclussion very unsurprisingly leads to great evil in the world. Chutzpah’s a good word for it. “Balls” is one my friend used this morning. My friend, a rather determined atheist apologizer of the type PZ dislikes, admits Stalinism and Maoism murdered millions but not as a tennet of atheism but in of totalitarianism of which is one side of the coin of which the neutrality of pope during WWII and the centuries of inquisitions and witch and heretic burning and crusades of the millenia before…

    Well, I know wingnuts like to blame Stalinism and Nazism on Darwin, but the Pope is supposed to be intelligent. Gad, he is truly a terrible pope chosen at the worst possible time.

    Balls, Chutzpah, gall, and incendiary isolationism. Not good, not good at all.

  43. #43 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    Balls, Chutzpah, gall, and incendiary isolationism. Not good, not good at all.

    interesting that the clergy chose him to destroy, er i mean LEAD Catholicism in the new century.

  44. #44 miller
    December 1, 2007

    I was just thinking… this is the pope! And the best he comes up with is “Marxism is atheistic”? I am not a person who thinks every single theistic argument is complete nonsense, but this one truly is!

    On the more optimistic side, I can tell you as an ex-Catholic that most liberal Catholics don’t much like the current pope either.

  45. #45 bernarda
    December 1, 2007

    I know that Mr. Deity has been linked before, but here it is a good time to see episode 1 discussing evil.

    http://www.mrdeity.com/

    As to Pope Benedickhead and the rest of the Church hierarchy, it all comes back to Christopher Hitchens’s description “maladjusted elderly virgins”.

  46. #46 Ray S
    December 1, 2007

    “If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.”

    Perhaps abolition of slavery and procurement of equal rights for women and minorities might be evidence of progress in man’s ethical formation among other advances. It doesn’t seem to me like Catholicism has led the way in these areas.

  47. #47 Michael Kremer
    December 1, 2007

    #10: The article you mention can be found at http://www.globalaffairs.org/forum/showthread.php?t=57417

    I don’t know if that’s the whole of what is printed in Harper’s — I don’t have a subscription. But the Harper’s piece is actually excerpted from David Lewis’s contribution to the book Philosophers without Gods (ed. Louise Antony) which I am sure many readers of Pharyngula would enjoy (see http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Philosophy/Religion/?view=usa&sf=toc&ci=9780195173079), even though I myself would recommend reading the Pope’s encylical instead. (As a non-atheist lurker and sometime poster on this blog.)

    By the way, Lewis’s essay in the book was written by Kitcher based on an outline by Lewis written before his death, and conversations that Kitcher had with Lewis, so it is in a sense co-written, but it is intended to represent Lewis’s views.

  48. #48 Michael Kremer
    December 1, 2007

    The link to the Antony book from my previous post was messed up.

    Here it is:

    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Philosophy/Religion/?view=usa&sf=toc&ci=9780195173079

  49. #49 Bad
    December 1, 2007

    Mark Shea was clapping and stomping his feet over this, so I thought I’d have a go at his argument to see if it had any merit. You can probably guess the answer, but it still baffles me that anyone can think there’s much merit to it. Ever since it became apparent that Jesus wasn’t coming back right away, it seems like some of his biggest fans have to be drug kicking and screaming into the future, farther and farther away from the time of his expected return. And the fact that things keep getting better and better for humanity the farther we get away from that point just seems to make them madder and madder.

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