Pharyngula

Details of some high-level Catholic tribunal and how it handles the most grievous sins have been revealed. In a very strange overview, we learn that murder and genocide, while truly horrible crimes, can be handled by lower members of the hierarchy. There are a few that only this tribunal and the Pope are qualified to cope with. They are briefly listed: trying to assassinate the Pope, a priest spilling the beans about what is said in the confessional, priests having sex, and abortionists becoming priest. But there is one other crime, which the article dwells on:

Defiling the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ, is also considered a sin of extreme gravity and one which is on the increase, the high-ranking members of the tribunal said.

Cardinal Stafford said there had been a rise in incidents in which people would receive Communion and then spit it out or otherwise desecrate it, sometimes in Satanic rituals.

In July last year an American academic, to make a point about freedom of thought and religion, drove a nail through a Communion wafer and then threw it in a rubbish bin.

Paul Myers, from the University of Minnesota, said later: “I pierced it with a rusty nail. Then I simply threw it in the trash. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your Lord.”

Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope, acting through the tribunal, bring automatic excommunication from the Church. If the Pope decides to grant absolution, the excommunication is lifted.

But how can I be excommunicated from a church to which I’ve never belonged?

And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?


Pough sent along an illustration that I must use.

i-b6b48576f529085c9bbc58fac51b1fa7-Put-down-the-cracker.jpeg

Comments

  1. #1 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    I don’t think the priorities are screwed up. It’s their belief system. What most atheists don’t get is that life is not all that valuable to Catholics, it’s the life after life that is. (Though I don’t get why they get so uptight about abortion….maybe it’s because of the no baptism thing).

    So, genocide, while bad, is not as bad as offending God. Shit people have been sacrificing others to gods for millenia.

  2. #2 John Phillips, FCD
    January 15, 2009

    Of course they consider genocide a lesser crime, otherwise they would have to excommunicate themselves. After all, their stance on condoms re AIDS is pretty close to that, not forgetting all the lovely genocide they practised in their glorious past.

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    January 15, 2009

    It’s sort of an old idea in Xianity, though, that sins against god (or the “holy spirit”) are the worst kind. Since god is the highest being, and responsible for all other life, there’s a kind of logic to it.

    Sociologically, it’s a matter of having supreme ideas that are held by all with little or no question. Treason is sort of equivalent to sins against god, in most societies.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  4. #4 S.Scott
    January 15, 2009

    You are no longer allowed to be catholic PZ.

  5. #5 T_U_T
    January 15, 2009

    surreal. completely, utterly screwed up. Wicked and batshit crazy.
    And those evil clowns want to lecture us about morality ?

  6. #6 Steve
    January 15, 2009

    Well, I for one have to hand it to the Catholics: of all the religions, theirs has absolutely the COOLEST wizard’s robes. For a second there I thought Benedict was trying to cast a fireball.

  7. #7 talking snake
    January 15, 2009

    So, PZ, when are flying to Rome for the inquisition?

  8. #8 Jason
    January 15, 2009

    They all have OCD – Obsessive Cracker Disorder

  9. #9 60613
    January 15, 2009

    The catholic church has many things screwed up – and this is a good example.

    I tried to be declared apostate – legally apostate – by the catholic diocese in Chicago and no one would talk to me about it. I wrote to the bishop and the cardinal and got no response whatsoever. Apparently becoming apostate is no longer possible in Chicago – but being excommunicated is possible.

    Another thing that’s possible: Francis Cardinal George stated a while back that homosexuals are too “damaged” to become priests. Francis Cardinal George had polio as a child and is – to be blunt – a cripple. Why is he not too “damaged” to be a priest?

    Double standards, double talk, double dealing. But it’s all okay if we do as we’re told: Believe. Obey. Do not question.

  10. #10 T_U_T
    January 15, 2009

    surreal. completely, utterly screwed up. Wicked and batshit crazy.
    And those evil clowns want to lecture us about morality ?

  11. #11 Qwerty
    January 15, 2009

    Is geno-crackercide when you nail a box of consecrated wafers?

  12. #12 Jeff C.
    January 15, 2009

    This is the same institution that councils married couples with dress-wearing virgins without any credentials.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hilarious that genocide falls into priests hands while Crackergate goes straight to the pope. What really troubles me that I don’t find any of it surprising.

  13. #13 Lowell
    January 15, 2009

    PGPWNIT,

    Come on, man! Just because their priorities are consistent with their “belief system” doesn’t mean that those priorities aren’t “screwed up.”

    Do you seriously not get that?

  14. #14 T_U_T
    January 15, 2009

    (sorry for the double post)

  15. #15 Benjamin Geiger
    January 15, 2009

    Steve @ #6:

    Yeah, but where would they get the sulfur? (They have plenty of guano. It’s in their heads.)

  16. #16 Alyson
    January 15, 2009

    Congratulations, PZ! You have become an important person!

    I, too, find their sin structure rather lopsided. It’s telling that in the highest eschelon of sins, only one is about something as grave as murder, and it’s only focused on one specific person. (Trying to kill off a whole people is of a lesser priority than trying to kill just the Pope? What?) The rest are, essentially: breaking confidentiality, disrespecting a symbol, enjoying one’s private parts, and indirectly condoning abortion.

    Surely, priests having sex could be delegated to the lower levels of the hierarchy, one would think. Well, I guess it’s just when priests have sex with each other that they send it straight to the men on top (pun acknowledged but not intended). When the priests are having their way with children, well…no need for the five-alarm reaction, right?

  17. #17 SaveOurSkyline
    January 15, 2009

    This kind of tribunal is what we’d have, in place of a secular court, if fundamental zealots had their way of turning the world into a theocracy – throwing crackers in the trash would be an offense more grievous than genocide.

  18. #18 Calin
    January 15, 2009

    You can be excommunicated because in its heart the Catholic Church believes they are the only path to heaven. That means not only are you as an atheist destined to burn in hell…so are all other christian denominations that don’t bow to the pope. Therefore, in their eyes an excommunication does not mean you are expelled from their ranks (since you were never in their ranks) but you are blocked from ever entering heaven. To the Catholic church, excommunication does not just mean what the layman believes it means. It is a sentence of hell given by a man. This goes against biblical teachings…but since when have biblical teachings been actually observed by anyone?

  19. #19 flea
    January 15, 2009

    How awesome is it that you actually pissed off the Pope? Even better, that means they were at one point last year gathered around talking smack about you in the Vatican.

    Most bloggers have to be content with pissing off their parents or, at best, their local clergy, but not you! No, you’re too ambitious for that!

  20. #20 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “Do you seriously not get that?”

    Their priorites are in line with their belief system. They may not be in line with yours and therefore ‘screwed up’, but the main problem is the belief system.

    And do be so fucking condescending. Makes you look like a git.

  21. #21 eric
    January 15, 2009

    “…Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope…”

    Silly me, and here I thought God was the one who dealt with sins and forgiveness.

  22. #22 CrypticLife
    January 15, 2009

    Really, it’s just as bizarre that priests having sex is a sin of extreme gravity as the cracker thing.

    Hey, at least there’s an objective moral reason desecrating the cracker could be considered bad: you shouldn’t waste food. Of course, it’s only my mom who thought that was such a grave sin as to require the pope’s absolution…

  23. #23 AnthonyK
    January 15, 2009

    We greatly look forward to your meeting with His Holiness, and hope you will report fully here. I cannot be the only pharyngulite who has long had concerns about the dark, uncivil nature of your soul, and if a few genuflections and Hail Marys in front of an ex-Nazi in a white dress can cure your innermost blackness forever then it’s a tiny price to pay. Good luck, and remember – no more desecratin’

  24. #24 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “Silly me, and here I thought God was the one who dealt with sins and forgiveness.”

    Catholic faith says that Peter also had the power to bind and loose sins. And he gave that power to all his priests and so on down the line.

    //ex-Catholic.

  25. #25 Janine, Bitter Friend
    January 15, 2009

    And with this pronouncement, they have proved your point. The cracker is of higher value then human life.

  26. #26 Phil
    January 15, 2009

    Once when I was young I had the flu but was forced to go to church anyway. Right after receiving the communion, I knew I was in trouble. I bolted for the door and just made it outside, heaving the contents of my stomach into the bushes.

    Does this mean I should have been excommunicated and need to get absolution from the pope?

  27. #27 Watchman
    January 15, 2009

    It’s all so ludicrous, like an ill-conceived, incoherent RPG.

  28. #28 Lowell
    January 15, 2009

    Their priorites are in line with their belief system. They may not be in line with yours and therefore ‘screwed up’, but the main problem is the belief system.

    If their priorities are “in line” with a screwed up belief system, then the priorities are also screwed up.

    It’s not that complicated.

  29. #29 Aphrodine
    January 15, 2009

    Wow. That’s insane. Who’d have thought such a stupid cracker would get everybody’s panties into a twist?

  30. #30 damnedyankee
    January 15, 2009

    Aw, man, PZ, what are you going to do? Only Dracula in a Dress can save you now…

  31. #31 Candiru
    January 15, 2009

    And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?

    Hmm, genocide vs. deicide, which is worse? And is the deicide really crackercide? I can’t really deicide…

  32. #32 legadillo
    January 15, 2009

    That pope guy is really old. You can take him.

  33. #33 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    #28

    You’re an interesting dude. Is this how you talk to people IRL, or is this some sort of internet tough guy routine?

  34. #34 Feynmaniac
    January 15, 2009

    Sigh…..

    This cracker thing is never going to end is it?!
    Get ready for: “it’s not a gift if it’s given under false pretenses…..”, “it may mean nothing to you, but….”, bad analogy after bad analogy, “I’ll pray for you”, etc.

  35. #35 Skepticat
    January 15, 2009

    This is great news for me! During my “spiritual journey,” I took the religious courses required and was confirmed Catholic. Since I’ve become an atheist, I’ve longed for some way to make my split with the Church official. So if I do a video desecrating the host, it seems I can get excommunicated immediately. Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one.

  36. #36 Cheshire
    January 15, 2009

    Oh. Fucking. Wow.

    Genocide > Eucharist

    I don’t think a simple ‘but itz de defling ov teh jebuz’ will be sufficient in this case.

    Congratulations on getting excommunicated for what looks to be permanently.

  37. #37 Vic
    January 15, 2009

    The RCC has no problem with genocide or killing in general. Just against the offense of their deity. Denying the “holy spirit” it the only unforgivable sin, according to the NT. Daring to not eat a cracker when offered to you probably falls under that guideline, somehow. It’s tough to know when they make up the rules as they go.

  38. #38 Blue Fielder
    January 15, 2009

    And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?

    They worship a genocidal maniac; of course it’s a lesser offense to them than not giving Magic Sky-Man the ass-kissing he demands.

    By the way, I’d give my nuts for PZ to go to Rome just for the sake of having Popeatine “deal with him”. Of course, I wouldn’t do it without sufficient Jedi training…

    Man, where’s Yoda when you need him? Oh wait, he’s off fighting Elvis impersonators and crazy girls with hula hoops of death. (And boy howdy, pat yourself on the back if you get that one.)

  39. #39 Janine, Bitter Friend
    January 15, 2009

    Posted by: Aphrodine | January 15, 2009

    Wow. That’s insane. Who’d have thought such a stupid cracker would get everybody’s panties into a twist?

    Just keep in mind that centuries ago when the Catholic Church held much greater political and economic power, accusations of Jewish desecration was enough to commit pogroms. We are lucky to live in relatively less insane times.

  40. #40 Andrés Diplotti
    January 15, 2009

    But how can I be excommunicated from a church to which I’ve never belonged?

    Can I have that excommunication instead? After all, Christian theology is based on the notion that it’s fair for someone to be punished for someone else’s faults, isn’t it?

  41. #41 pixelfish
    January 15, 2009

    60613 @ comment 9: According to US law, you can leave a church and not be subject to their penalties or authority once you’ve announced you are leaving. This includes punitive measures like excommunication. This used to be a problem for Mormons who wanted to leave their church as well. They’d announce their unbelief and exit, only to be summoned to a church court and be excommunicated. (Which bears a higher social stigma than, say, joining a new church.) While this page here ( http://home.teleport.com/~packham/leaving.htm ) pertains solely to leaving the LDS/Mormon church, it cites various US court cases which ruled on the free association of religion allowed to US citizens and their right to NOT be associated with a particular church or punished by that church after resignation. Among those cases cited is Guinn vs. Church of Christ and here are some links on that case:

    http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/deliverdocument.asp?citeid=10494

    http://church-discipline.blogspot.com/2008/01/marian-guinn-vs-church-of-christ.html

    Because of this case, when the LDS church attempted to begin excommunication proceedings against a member, Normon Hancock, who had already left, he sued them for 18 million, and eventually the church settled out of court rather than be brought to trial.

    Needless to say, if the Catholic diocese in your area is circumventing your attempts to leave and/or trying to discipline you post-resignation, you might have a case for a lawsuit. (When I left the Mormon church, my resignation letter said that I did not consider myself subject to church authority, and if they tried to excommunicate me after my resignation, or if they tried to inform my family and friends before I did, they would face legal action. Amazingly enough, my request was granted within a few weeks of getting my letter to the local bishop.)

  42. #42 Don
    January 15, 2009

    PZ,

    You.insulted.THE.Pope.

    WOW.

    WE ARE NOT WORTHY.

  43. #43 Nerd of Redhead
    January 15, 2009

    I thought the deities were omnipotent and omnipresent. What need would they have for a group of mere mortal men to take action when the deity is offended, and how would they know that the deity is offended? The deity could smite any man easily if truly offended. Something is wrong here. Sounds like the church is full of it.

  44. #44 Bob Dowling
    January 15, 2009

    The RC church is consistent with the rest of Christianity in its priorities. Read your bible (filed under “adults only fiction” I trust), specifically Mark, chapter 12, verses 28-34. Loving God comes before loving your neighbour.

    This is what frustrates me about Christianity. When I was going through my early teens and questioning religion, the universe and the nature of life the one big pull Christianity had on me was the “love thy neighbour” ethic. That worked for me. The rest was just so much crap. So eventually I kept that and jettisoned the rest, god included.

  45. #45 perdurabo
    January 15, 2009

    /salute PZ

    If you are going to sin(according to the RCC), might as well do it right. Well played sir.

  46. #46 Newfie
    January 15, 2009

    @9

    Another thing that’s possible: Francis Cardinal George stated a while back that homosexuals are too “damaged” to become priests.

    Wow… the ranks would surely be thinned if they enforced this one, eh?

    Poor God, it’s so powerless that it can’t absolve people, but an old dude in a dress can. Also, confession just feeds the perverted minds that are the catholic clergy.

  47. #47 Desert Son
    January 15, 2009

    Yay! Compartmentalization strikes again!

    This is a variant of something my mother experiences. Before she married my father, my mom was married to a man who left my mother for another woman. To this day, my mother cites marital infidelity on her ultimate list of absolutely bad things to do.

    I’m not saying that marital infidelity is a good thing to do, but on the scale compared with, say, murder, or torture, or rape, or widespread death and destruction of the human-instigated variety, seems to me that marital infidelity, while not fun for the parties involved and associated, isn’t quite up to the same level.

    Nevertheless, in my mother’s mind, Bill Clinton will always be a worse president for a blowjob than Gee Dubya “C-plus Augustus” Bush will be for starting a war with a nation that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on our soil, condoning torture, and so forth.

    Sounds to me like it’s the same kind of thing here. Besides, the more scrutiny placed on the supernatural, doesn’t that require even greater levels of defense of the supernatural, in order for an institution founded on the supernatural to continue to exert influence in a non-supernatural world?

    Also, nice to be back after a month or so away for family and holidays and winter sports (the skiing in Northern New Mexico was great) and so forth. Hope everyone is well.

    No kings,

    Robert

  48. #48 Lowell
    January 15, 2009

    You’re an interesting dude. Is this how you talk to people IRL, or is this some sort of internet tough guy routine?

    All I did was point out that your comment at #1 was wrong. (To reiterate, it was based on the false premise that one’s priorities cannot be “screwed up” as long as they are consistent with one’s “belief system.”)

    That’s not an “internet tough guy” routine. Maybe I wasn’t very polite about it, but I don’t have to be.

  49. #49 Sastra
    January 15, 2009

    I’m rather pleased with this list of “high crimes.” With the exception of “trying to assassinate a pope,” none of these are secular crimes. They all have to do with internal conflicts among people within the church.

    Which is where they belong. What this reflects, is the separation between church and state. If the Catholic Church could have its way, they would have the state making these into actual crimes. But they can’t, and don’t.

    And we’re helping to make sure of that. After all, that was the motivation behind PZ’s “Great Cracker Desecration.” The Church (and people who were claiming to speak for Catholics) were trying to persuade secular authorities to punish a kid who had refused to swallow a consecrated wafer. They wanted him expelled from a public university, charged with a hate crime, and even arrested for kidnapping.

    If they had simply kept the entire matter internal, neither PZ nor anyone else would have cared. Tell him he can’t come back anymore. Fine. Or go whole hog, and have the Pope excommunicate some kid for not swallowing a cracker. Heck, let him excommunicate Catholics for eating meat on Friday, or not wearing purple on Thursday, or whatever damn fool thing he wants, saying it’s all “worse” than secular crimes like murder and rape.

    There’s “reality” in the Catholic Church, and then there’s the reality outside of the church, where everyone, including Catholics, actually live and go about living.

  50. #50 Rob
    January 15, 2009

    To Hell, PZ, straight to hell. You’ll be on the express elevator down, no stops in purgatory.

    Last week in my town of 14,000 people, which is about 50% Jewish, and where the governor lives, a quiet rich little town, a woman who was carrying a sign that stated “Israel, Stop the Killing” was physically assaulted by another citizen, and he called her an anti-semite and an “arab lover”. I truly want to get a bumper sticker that reads: “Sanction Israel” but I’m afraid my car would be vandalized or worse.

    They are all truly fucked in the head.

  51. #51 K
    January 15, 2009

    “For a second there I thought Benedict was trying to cast a fireball.”
    Maybe he was casting magic missile at the darkness?

  52. #52 jynnan_tonnyx
    January 15, 2009

    On the bright side, they at least understood that the desecration was “to make a point about freedom of thought and religion”. That’s better than some of the “hate crime” B.S. Donahue was spewing.

  53. #53 Crystal D.
    January 15, 2009

    I also heard that messing with a wafer is worse than humping a small child… They don’t let go of the cracker, but so easily let slide the pedophilia… They truly need to redirect their outrage inward.

  54. #54 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    #48

    And I was saying that their priorities are inline with their beliefs and no inline with yours. I also think we may have had an interesting chat if you weren’t an ass.

    //oops, was that impolite?

  55. #55 H.H.
    January 15, 2009

    PGPWNIT raved:

    #28 You’re an interesting dude. Is this how you talk to people IRL, or is this some sort of internet tough guy routine?

    Where are you getting that Lowell was trying to come off like a “tough guy?” He simply and politely spelled out the error in your thinking. Screwed up beliefs do lead to screwed up priorities. That really shouldn’t be very difficult to acknowledge.

    Your point is a trivially inane one. Rather than trying to defend a system that values human less than a cracker as if it is a reasonable proposition, just admit that your “explanation” doesn’t save the belief from being insanely fucked up. That way, you may come off less like a fucking condescending git.

  56. #56 DominEditrix
    January 15, 2009

    @36: Skepticat – You can buy unconsecrated communion wafers. Film yourself “desecrating” one of those and send it off to Rome. If the Pope excommunicates you, it means that he can’t tell the difference…

  57. #57 Menyambal
    January 15, 2009

    Not to diminish PZ’s sins, but he may not be personally on the pope’s list of cracker-defilers. The article does not directly say that Cardinal Stafford mentioned PZ by name, description or action. The article’s author, Nick Squires, may have offered the two paragraphs about PZ as an explanatory interjection of his own knowledge. Stafford seems to be concerned with spitting and satanism. PZ is not a satanist nor a spitter.

    Still, the info in the article might have come directly from Stafford, and the pope might have PZ’s name and number. And that would be most impressive.

    If you kept the pope distracted for even five minutes, PZ, you have accomplished a great deal of good in the world.

  58. #58 Siamang
    January 15, 2009

    Another Cracker Mega-thread coming right up.

    Predictions anyone? 500+ posts?

    I do have to agree with the poster that says that this exactly proves PZ’s point all along.

  59. #59 Rob
    January 15, 2009

    Another bus campaign

    “ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.”

  60. #60 Vic
    January 15, 2009

    #56, Brilliant!

  61. #61 room101
    January 15, 2009

    Oh, well. If nothing else this will certainly invoke a slew of vicious new emails from the legions of religio-bots speaking/crying/blubbering on behalf of their deity who, apparently, has problems multi-tasking and can’t handle these things him(her)self.

  62. #62 Sam B
    January 15, 2009

    Hooray! You’ve pissed off the Pope! There’s just one more thing you need to do before you’ve successfully got the entire catholic world hating you…

    You need to go to the Vatican wearing one of the band Cradle of Filth’s t-shirts – specifically, their rather infamous ‘Jesus Is A C*nt’ t-shirt.

    (Rather amusingly, the frontman of Cradle of Filth, Dani Filth, was arrested in the Vatican for wearing an ‘I <3 Satan’ t-shirt.)

  63. #63 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “He simply and politely spelled out the error in your thinking.”

    No, he did not.

    “Do you seriously not get that?”

    But this has devolved to symantics. My point is not inane, it is a matter of perspective.

    Catholics, because of their belief system (which is generally consitent) do things that we all find funny. But, I find that railing against them for being consistent is odd.

    Maybe it’s just me.

  64. #64 Alethias
    January 15, 2009

    You asked how you can be excommunicated from a church to which you’ve never belonged.

    If a church has an imaginary god as their centerpiece, why not imaginary membership, not requiring the member to be aware of their imaginary membership? Your imaginary membership in a real church with an imaginary god has been revoked. Woohoo! You should celebrate.

  65. #65 Ophelia Benson
    January 15, 2009

    Ha – I came over here to see if you’d seen this because I was going to tell you about it if you hadn’t. I just did a post on the tiny little discrepancy between genocide and spitting out a cracker. Fucking unbelievable – what a sinister pack of bastards they are.

  66. #66 Sam B
    January 15, 2009

    (Huh, the end of my post got cut off. No matter. Contd. from #62)

    …for wearing an ‘I [heart] Satan’ t-shirt.)

  67. #67 Lowell
    January 15, 2009

    And I was saying that their priorities are inline with their beliefs and no inline with yours.

    Which of course says nothing about whether their priorities are “screwed up” or not.

    I also think we may have had an interesting chat if you weren’t an ass.

    Based on the fact that you’re still defending the fallacious logic in your first post, I seriously doubt it.

    //oops, was that impolite?

    I don’t care. One thing I’ve learned from reading this blog is that arguing about politeness is the refuge of those with weak arguments.

  68. #68 Owlmirror
    January 15, 2009

    OMG!!1!!!!1ONE!

    TEH POWP HAS NOTISED WAFERGATE!!111!

    POWP BENNY XVI: PZ, UR GOIN STRAIT TO HELL!!!11!
    POWP BENNY XVI: UNLESS YOU CONFESS DIRECT TO ME.
    POWP BENNY XVI: PS: SHAVE TEH BEARD. BEARDS SCRATCH.

  69. #69 NewEnglandBob
    January 15, 2009

    To paraphrase George Carlin:

    What can you expect when these are the people who worship a dead Jew on a stick”

  70. #70 Larry
    January 15, 2009

    I think the following words from a true wordsmith are appropriate here:

    Get in line in that processional,
    Step into that small confessional,
    There, the guy who’s got religion’ll
    Tell you if your sin’s original.
    If it is, try playin’ it safer,
    Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
    Two, four, six, eight,
    Time to transubstantiate!

    Tom Lehrer
    The Vatican Rag

  71. #71 Dances With Books
    January 15, 2009

    So, are you getting extradited to the Vatican? Will they send the Swiss Guards to your campus to arrest you? Good grief, what’s next for those folks?

  72. #72 Qwerty
    January 15, 2009

    I wonder if new confessionals have a hot line to the Vatican?

    Priest: Put me through to the Pope; I have a desecrater in my confessional! Hurry! Our belief system could collapse at any second!

    You must remember that “Thou shall have no other gods before me” tops the ten commandments. One wonders that an all-powerful and ONLY god can be so consumed with jealousy!

  73. #73 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “One wonders that an all-powerful and ONLY god can be so consumed with jealousy!”

    See, at the time, God had many other gods to contend with. He lost a poker game and got pissed. Then he took his Jews and went home.

  74. #74 NewEnglandBob
    January 15, 2009

    From PGPWNIT:

    Catholics, because of their belief system (which is generally consistent) do things that we all find funny. But, I find that railing against them for being consistent is odd.

    Maybe it’s just me.

    Yes, its JUST you. If someone practices illogical, mentally disturbed behavior religiously, then railing against it is normal.

    e.g.: If someone’s belief system is to kill everyone over 74.5 years of age and is consistent about it, then we are not allowed to rail against it? Utter nonsense!

  75. #75 Barak
    January 15, 2009

    I find it odd that people keep mentioning the wafer incident, yet they forget the event that you protested against.

    On second thought, I don’t find it odd at all…

  76. #76 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    So if I do a video desecrating the host, it seems I can get excommunicated immediately. Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one.

    You know how to get your hands on one, you just don’t want to sit through boring fucking mass.

  77. #77 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    #74

    As a Bengals fan, I fully understand the futility of banging your head against the wall.

  78. #78 Sastra
    January 15, 2009

    You know, when you think about it, this list of Worse Sins is a compromise, similar to claiming that God is the “Ground of All Being.”

    They say “Okay, fine. Let the secular world have minor little crimes and misdemeanors like murder, genocide, torture, theft. We are going to deal with the really important sins that really matter — like priests not being celibate and people treating sacred crackers with disrespect.” O_ooo.

    And God? Well, God is really important, too. Science gets all the insignificant stuff about how things work and how they got to be how they are and explanations for everything. That’s Nature. God is too big to deal with garbage like that. No, God is better. God is the Ground of Being itself. O_ooo.

    Aren’t we secular types all jealous and everything.

  79. #79 H.H.
    January 15, 2009

    PGPWNIT wrote:

    Catholics, because of their belief system (which is generally consitent) do things that we all find funny. But, I find that railing against them for being consistent is odd.

    Ah, well that must be where you are going wrong. See, nobody yet has said “inconsistency” is a relevant criteria when judging the immorality of a belief except you. In fact, the consistency criterion appears to be a red herring. It’s irrelevant. It’s understood that garbage in leads to garbage out, however consistent that process is. Rather, the point is that the morality of a belief system may be judged by its fruits, and Catholicism has proved itself very immoral indeed. Perhaps you are a moral relativist and that is causing the communication problems?

  80. #80 damnedyankee
    January 15, 2009

    Does thsi mean that if I want to give up my Buddy Christ dashboard statue, PZ is off of the list of potential recipients?

  81. #81 Hank Fox
    January 15, 2009

    If you’re excommunicated, and therefore beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church’s judgment, does that mean you no longer have to worry about sinning?

    Sounds like a free ticket to commit other acts of rationality.

  82. #82 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    BTW, what magic html tags do I use to quote?

  83. #83 rowmyboat
    January 15, 2009

    So, wait… If you kill living, breathing, whole, born people (who are not the Pope), that’s less bad than if you used to be do abortions? Cause if we are going to be saying that fetuses are people with souls and shit, doesn’t that make them just like all the other people? So shouldn’t that go straight into the murder category?

  84. #84 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “Perhaps you are a moral relativist and that is causing the communication problems? ”

    Not at all. I just find futility in the exercise. But you’re welcome to your fun.

  85. #85 Oskar Kennedy
    January 15, 2009

    And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?

    What are the lives of millions of lowly humans compared to the sanctity of the flesh of one’s deity? Unleavened, unsalted deity flesh, of course.

  86. #86 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “Unleavened, unsalted deity flesh, of course.”

    As my FIL once said. You can’t consecrate a cookie.

  87. #87 BMcP
    January 15, 2009

    I think why they place genocide below say desecrating the Eucharist is the former is a crime against the body and the latter the soul. One would just kill someone but the latter condemns them eternally, at least that would be most best educated guess to why.

  88. #88 SteveM
    January 15, 2009

    But, I find that railing against them for being consistent is odd.

    Well there’s your problem. I don’t think anybody is railing against them for being consistent, but for holding idiotic beliefs; such as desecrating a wafer is more hienous than genocide.

    “I don’t think the priorities are screwed up. It’s their belief system. ”

    This is a nonsense statement. Saying their priorities is screwed up is pretty much the same as saying their belief system is screwed up. Saying that they are consistent doesn’t excuse them from being screwed up.

  89. #89 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “Saying that they are consistent doesn’t excuse them from being screwed up.”

    Nobody’s getting what I’m saying. It’s my fault, I’m sure. My point is that you’re wasting your time. Don’t be surprised when people behave within their belief system.

    I’ve never excused them from being screwed up. But their actions follow their beliefs so go after the beliefs.

    But I doubt the pope reads this board, so have fun.

  90. #90 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    Of course desecration of the Host requires a high-level Catholic tribunal with the Poppa officiating. If the pseudo importance of this grievance isn’t trumped up to the stratosphere then the Catholics just may get wise and call “bullshit” on the whole “accident/substance” idiocy.

    Pope Nazi:”No really, it truly IS the body of Jesus despite the fact that any properly executed lab test data would still only find ingredients for a tasteless, cheap wafer. It is NOT merely a symbolic gesture! No! Never! Never!”

    Catholics have been told a lie by their trusted Bishops, Cardinals and priests who have perpetuated this myth to the point where reiterating it is more important than the welfare of actual living breathing people. If the Church recants and ‘fesses up to this pathetic whopper about transubstantiation, it will be the beginning of the end of their credibility with those who are still faithful, and the Church will have yank its own rope for its imminent death knell.
    Another noble ignoble lie brought to you by religious people who claim they are morally superior.

    PZ, that makes you Public Catholic Enemy #1, you eucharist desecrator you.

    Oh, and Rod Dreher, I’m issuing a preemptive “bite me you deluded, conservative, closeted hack.”

  91. #91 Newfie
    January 15, 2009

    This is a nonsense statement. Saying their priorities is screwed up is pretty much the same as saying their belief system is screwed up. Saying that they are consistent doesn’t excuse them from being screwed up.

    How should we expect Catholics to act? If they didn’t adhere to their doctrine, they wouldn’t be Catholic… and least not “good” Catholics.

    If you knowingly take a kleptomaniac on a shopping trip to Wal*Mart, and he didn’t steal anything, that would be the time to express some shock, even if it’s relieved shock.

  92. #92 bladesman
    January 15, 2009

    “For a second there I thought Benedict was trying to cast a fireball.”

    Being a Star Wars nut, my first thought was that Darth Ratzi was about to fry some poor sinner with Force Lightning.

    “And now, young Myers…you will die.”

    ^_^

  93. #93 RoaldFalcon
    January 15, 2009

    It?s possible that the level at which sins are processed in the Catholic Church is not correlated with their perception of the sin?s severity.

    It may be analogous to the American system in which murder is a state crime while tampering with a mailbox is a federal crime.

  94. #94 varlo
    January 15, 2009

    I hope you will be gentleman enough to return your rosary beads. (Is rosary beads redundant?)

  95. #95 chaos_engineer
    January 15, 2009

    It’s a blatant conflict of interest for the Pope to judge someone who’s tried to assassinate him. To avoid the appearance of impropriety, the Pope should recuse himself and let the Vice-Pope handle the excommunication.

    The “priests having sex” bit is a misquote…in the original article, it’s “priests having sex and then granting absolution to their partners”. I approve of that rule; offering absolution for a sin that you participated in is another conflict of interest.

    Overall, the list makes sense…most of the listed acts are things that would tend to weaken the Church as an organization. In general, working against an organization is likely to get you kicked out of that organization. Other random sins that you commit on your own time are less likely to get you kicked out.

    The abortion thing seems kind of odd, though. Even if you think abortion is murder, why should it be singled out as worse than any other kind of murder? As the rule stands, it’s easier for a serial killer to become a priest than for someone who “participated in an abortion” by chipping in for carfare. I really wish they’d consulted me before they made fools of themselves by publishing that all over the Internet.

  96. #96 Ghost of Minnesota
    January 15, 2009

    I’m not quite understanding this debate between PGPWNIT and Lowell.

    PGPWNIT pointed out that the fucked-up actions of Catholics are consistent with their fucked-up beliefs, which is correct.

    Lowell then pointed out that having fucked-up beliefs does not justify committing fucked-up actions, which is also correct, and which PGPWNIT does not appear to disagree with.

    What’s the problem here? Or did I miss something?

  97. #98 woody
    January 15, 2009

    @ 82: Posted by: PGPWNIT | January 15, 2009 2:37 PM
    BTW, what magic html tags do I use to quote?

    the usual.: blockquote … but it has seemed to me that most html does NOT seem to work here…

    probly cuz god’s pissed

  98. #99 Evolving Squid
    January 15, 2009

    >>sometimes in Satanic rituals.

    Has there ever been a document case of a genuinely satanic, religious ritual (i.e. not kids playing D&D or some bollocks like that) in the last 100 years?

  99. #100 AJ Milne
    January 15, 2009

    So… Let me get this straight: if I can get someone to mail me a cracker over which appropriate handwaving and muttering of Latin has been performed, and treat it appropriately disprespectfully…

    I can pole-vault past those girly-men posers Slobodan Milosevic, Pol Pot and Theoneste Bagosora as a Serious Historical Badass?

    That. Is. So. Awesome.

    (Rents PO Box…)

  100. #101 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    “What’s the problem here? Or did I miss something?”

    There’s no problem. We have a miscommunication on the internet which turns into something greater.

    But I think that the people who disagree with me think that I’m excusing the behaviour, when I’m just explaining it.

    Angry people on an angry blog say angry things. But I bet that if we were at a bar having some beers this would have been over a while back.

  101. #102 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    the usual.: blockquote … but it has seemed to me that most html does NOT seem to work here…

    I tried that once to no avail. Must have fat fingered it.

  102. #103 Lowell
    January 15, 2009

    Ghost of Minnesota,

    In comment #1, PGPWNIT argued that their priorities were not “screwed up” because those priorities were consistent with their “belief system.”

    I and others pointed out that that’s a fallacy. Then PGPWNIT whined that I was impolite. Nothing new, really.

  103. #104 Bob L
    January 15, 2009

    So if I read this correctly the Catholic Church has no issue with a serial killer become a priest? Only if he killed a fetus is murder a horrible sin against God. That is retarded by even their own logic.

  104. #105 Owlmirror
    January 15, 2009

    <blockquote>text</blockquote>

    =

    text

    <i>text</i>

    =

    text

    &tc.

  105. #106 Andrés Diplotti
    January 15, 2009

    Twisted indeed, but barely surprising. Remember, this is the same institution that once thought it better to have young boys mutilated than to allow women in choirs.

  106. #107 Kobra
    January 15, 2009

    Hey Pope Palpatine,

    Absolve this:

  107. #108 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    So if I read this correctly the Catholic Church has no issue with a serial killer become a priest? Only if he killed a fetus is murder a horrible sin against God. That is retarded by even their own logic.

    the examination before confession says that murder and abortion (or any activity encouraging others to murder or abort) is a mortal sin, however only abortion may result in a excommunication.

    That always gave me pause.

  108. #109 SteveM
    January 15, 2009

    Let’s recap:

    PZ: “And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?”

    PGPWNIT: “I don’t think the priorities are screwed up. It’s their belief system.”

    Lowell: “Just because their priorities are consistent with their ‘belief system’ doesn’t mean that those priorities aren’t ‘screwed up.’”

    PGPWNIT:”I’ve never excused them from being screwed up. But their actions follow their beliefs so go after the beliefs.”

    priorities are beliefs, and that is what PZ was questioning. It just doesn’t make sense to say priorities can only be “screwed up” if they are inconsistent with their beliefs. What an outsider sees are their priorities and those appear to be “screwed up”.

  109. #110 God
    January 15, 2009

    probly cuz god’s pissed

    No, I’m actually pretty mellow today. Really, anything going wrong on the Internet is all Satan’s fault.

  110. #111 Tony P
    January 15, 2009

    “You’re a Catholic the moment dad came”. What’s that from? Yep, Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”. I’m pretty sure I remember the Catholics getting their nads in a lather about the “Every Sperm is Sacred” routine in that one.

    Then too look at Kevin Smith’s “Dogma”. He actually went out and protested his own movie just to see what the people were protesting about.

    The religious are most definitely what I call insane. I’ve not met one yet that wasn’t certifiable. Well, let me correct that. Friend of mine is more agnostic bordering on atheist. It’s just that he can’t shake off the dogma that easily.

    I help him wherever I can. I tell him take the best parts and abandon the rest and he does.

    But the hoo-ra over a cracker amuses the hell out of me. Let me get this straight, until someone says some magic words over the cracker, it’s still a cracker. But once those words and actions are performed it becomes the literal body and blood of Christ? Transubstantiation is one of the more whacko things out there.

    I applaud PZ for desecrating the cracker. Matter of fact I’m thinking of getting a supply and desecrating them on church steps, that would be fun.

    Here’s my attitude on religion in general:

    http://truthspew.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/atheists-roll-ads-on-800-buses-in-the-uk/

  111. #112 Evolving Squid
    January 15, 2009

    @41
    I don’t understand how a church can “summon” you to appear? Is that like a 4th level spell (Summon Apostate IV: Casting time 1 round. Summon Apostate causes an a 4th level heretic to appear at the target location and binds him there for the spell duration. This spell can also be used to summon 1d3 3rd level blasphemers, 2d4 2nd level agnostics, or 4d6 child molesters)?

    Why, when invited to appear at an excommunication hearing can’t you send a nice card with your regrets that you won’t be able to attend their voodoo ritual? Why would anyone be required or even want to send a resignation letter to a church unless they were an employee of the church?

    Most of my churching up was Anglican, with a dabble in Pentecostal yahooery, before I finally came out of the atheist closet. I don’t understand the church’s ability to compel a person to attend as seems to be suggested.

  112. #113 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    Bleeding wafers can easily be debunked by science, but the believers will never accept it until the Church recants and admits that the eucharist is purely symbolic and transubstantiation is a product of superstitious/atavistic thinking…

    Okay, where the hell are the outraged transubstantiation defenders?

    (I’m betting this thread tops 1000 posts)

  113. #114 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    It just doesn’t make sense to say priorities can only be “screwed up” if they are inconsistent with their beliefs. What an outsider sees are their priorities and those appear to be “screwed up”.

    I guess my point was that their priorities are only screwed up externally. I probably could have chosen my words better.

    Anywhoo, it’s getting silly.

  114. #115 Bluegrass Geek
    January 15, 2009

    #83

    rowmyboat | January 15, 2009 2:38 PM
    So, wait… If you kill living, breathing, whole, born people (who are not the Pope), that’s less bad than if you used to be do abortions? Cause if we are going to be saying that fetuses are people with souls and shit, doesn’t that make them just like all the other people? So shouldn’t that go straight into the murder category?

    Remember that catholics believe in orginal sin. Killing an unborn infant is therefore horrible because you’ve denied the infant any chance of being baptized and cleansed of original sin. Adults had the choice of being baptized or not and, effectively, “reap what they sow.”

    Yeah. It’s still pretty fucked up.

  115. #116 Timcol
    January 15, 2009

    If they considered genocide that bad, they would have to excommunicate and purge probably a very large portion of the Old Testament. I guess it’s hard for them to get worked up about this practice when their Lordy is the poster-boy for atrocities and heinous crimes.

  116. #117 Bill Dauphin
    January 15, 2009

    Hey, who knew we could embed images in comments (e.g., 107), as opposed to just posting links?

    Is that cool with our Squiddly Host? And with the Scienceblogs poobahs? Enquiring minds want to know!

  117. #118 Kobra
    January 15, 2009

    @115:

    Baptize the pregnant woman, then.

  118. #119 Bronze Dog
    January 15, 2009

    Is geno-crackercide when you nail a box of consecrated wafers?

    A thought: I’ve never been Catholic, but I have done some Protestant versions of the cracker thing. Once when they remembered the yeast and baked it really well. It was nummy. But I digress: I imagine if the crackers weren’t spread on some shiny silver plate or something, and instead were pulled out of a box with the plastic tubes, there might be some Catholics who’d have a thought equivalent to, “Why am I trying to contact the spirits with a sheet of cardboard and a piece of plastic manufactured by Milton Bradley?”

  119. #120 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU, PZ!
    *slash of holy water across the ankle*
    THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU, PZ!

  120. #121 WRMartin
    January 15, 2009

    PGPWNIT @82:

    BTW, what magic html tags do I use to quote?

    Wrap the text to be quoted inside <blockquote> Text to be quoted </blockquote>

    Ghost of Minnesota @96:
    Yeah, me too. It?s like the choir members are arguing with themselves for agreeing. Being irrational isn?t a good thing. But being irrational and doing irrational things, while not a good thing, is consistent. If a mime didn?t talk during his performance that wouldn?t be anything to get upset about. Getting upset that they?re a mime, on the other hand?

  121. #122 Cuttlefish, OM
    January 15, 2009

    Oh, the Pope’ll make you pay fer
    What you did to that poor wafer
    And you oughta be just mortified for doing what you did!
    It’s a sin to take a nail an’
    Poke a cracker, cos impalin’
    Is a Godly thing, that only He can do unto His Kid.
    If you’d only done, say, homicide,
    Or broke some sacred promise, I’d
    Expect some lower lackey is authority enough
    But to drive a nail through Jesus
    On your blog, no less, to please us,
    Why the Pope himself’s required, when it comes to cracker snuff.

  122. #123 Kobra
    January 15, 2009

    @117: PZ warned us (well, me) against overusing it.

  123. #124 SteveM
    January 15, 2009

    Hey, who knew we could embed images in comments (e.g., 107), as opposed to just posting links?

    Is that cool with our Squiddly Host? And with the Scienceblogs poobahs? Enquiring minds want to know!

    I don’t think so since the “usual” html for embedding images is blocked. 107 used a “style” trick that is beyond my “html padawan” skills.

  124. #125 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    OMG! CRACKER SNUFF!
    (I love you in a very manly way Cuttlefish.)

  125. #126 itwasntme
    January 15, 2009

    All this fuss! From what I’ve learned, i think everything can be cleared up with a very large cash donation to the church, no problem.

  126. #127 Kobra
    January 15, 2009

    Just keep in mind that because PZ has one-click comment deletion doesn’t mean he’ll tolerate people abusing this:

    <p style=”width: 306px; height: 393px; background: url(http://www.ihavesomethingforyou.com/images/middle_finger.jpg);”>

    Replace the width, height, and URL values with the width, height, and URL of your desired image.

  127. #128 Billy Budd
    January 15, 2009

    Why settle for mere excommunication?

    Go for the gold!

    Eternal damnation with no hope of forgiveness.

    Matthew 12 31-32

    “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

    And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

  128. #129 Henry
    January 15, 2009

    That’s so unfair,

    I weant to be excommunicated from a group of braindead old people, who wear dresses that, I’m not a member of.

    P.Z., you get all the best gigs, I’m jealous.

  129. #130 Andrew
    January 15, 2009

    Whoa. I just realized, back when I was a young Catholic, I used to eat the wafer then, hours later, CRAP IT OUT OF MY ASS.

    I crapped the messiah OUT OF MY ASS! I’m in SO much trouble.

  130. #131 Christie
    January 15, 2009

    @110:

    Genius.

  131. #132 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    I’m in SO much trouble.

    You’re cool, by that time, the wafer detransubstantionated.

  132. #133 Jadehawk
    January 15, 2009

    Not at all. I just find futility in the exercise. But you’re welcome to your fun.

    it’s only “futile” until it reaches critical mass. you’re the second person in as many days who claims fights against overwhelming opposition shouldn’t even be attempted.

    and in case you’re wondering: yes this is a fight, primarily to get the religious and their insanities off our backs, and secondly to remove their special status among society, which excuses all sorts of crimes and acts of violence and intolerance. and the best way to accomplish both is to expose their screwed-up-ness often and loudly

  133. #134 Les Lane
    January 15, 2009

    When you talk to the Pope, put in a few words on the evils of genocide.

  134. #135 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    Whenever I see or hear the word “Pope” I always think of the “Fabulous and Furry Freak Brothers” comics. In one episode a hitchhiker is picked and asks if they want to smoke a joint to which one replies:

    “Is the bear Catholic? Does a Pope shit in the forest?”

    PZ should market a line of wafers and donate the proceeds to his favorite charities like Paul Newman did.
    Instead of “Nilla Wafers” they would be “Killa’ Wafers”.

  135. #136 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    you’re the second person in as many days who claims fights against overwhelming opposition shouldn’t even be attempted.

    You know, if
    one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and
    they won’t take him seriously. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
    they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them seriously.
    And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people? They may think it’s an
    organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
    fifty people a day? And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

  136. #137 CaptainKendrick
    January 15, 2009

    My gawd could kick their gawd’s ass any day…

    Pansy-ass god can’t protect himself from some elbow-patched academic tossing a cracker in the trash instead of pooping it out the next day, and their gawd need needs to be protected by some funny-hat-wearing pussy…mutter, mutter…..

  137. #138 druidbros
    January 15, 2009

    When I visit Rome and the Vatican I hope they have a visitors book that I can sign…’PZ Myers’. I wonder how long they will let me stay?


    What about a wine and cracker party? We could do it to raise funds for a good cause. What do you think PZ?

  138. #139 Zeno
    January 15, 2009

    Andrew: I crapped the messiah OUT OF MY ASS!

    Oh, Andrew, you’re not giving the Catholic theologians enough credit. They’re a bunch of crafty old buggers and they thought of this one a long time ago! The communion host officially stops being Jesus when the “bread” (of course, it only looks like bread; it’s really God now) is assimilated in the stomach. There is no Jesus in your feces. Problem solved! (The question remains, of course, whether there’s a good way to measure how much Jesus-ness remains while the host is dissolving, but I’m sure Vatican scientists are hard at work on it.)

    So set your mind at ease. Sound theology has a way of doing that. (Try not to giggle. It ruins the solemnity of the lesson.)

    Anyway, we know that God is everywhere, so he’s necessarily in the toilet too. Can’t help himself.

  139. #140 Marc Abian
    January 15, 2009

    Cuttlefish, I don’t know what to say…

  140. #141 Paul R
    January 15, 2009

    I so need to defile a eucharist, I really like the idea of be excommunicated from an organisation that I don’t want to be a part of. :)

  141. #142 MH
    January 15, 2009

    So I wonder if Pope Palpatine is reading this?

    Hi Benny! {waves}

    Nice dress!

  142. #143 MikeM
    January 15, 2009

    Wow! Singled out by the Pope!

    I am impressed!

    (MikeM repairs to lair to figure out a way for similar recognition…).

    It’s worse than rape, in other words. Ladies and gentlemen, if you needed proof regarding how twisted the church has become, I give you Exhibit A: Defiling a host is worst than rape.

    That’s amazing. I hope this registers with a few doubters. If you were looking for a reason, I give you pure logic. Defiling a eucharist is worse than armed robbery.

    Think it over, kids.

  143. #144 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    I really like the idea of be excommunicated from an organisation that I don’t want to be a part of. :)

    First, you get communicated, followed swiftly by excommunication.

  144. #145 ln
    January 15, 2009

    Saying their priorities are screwed up is being too kind, PZ. Anybody who really buys that genocide — one of the most heinous crimes known to modern civilization — is a lesser crime than pissing on a cracker belongs in a fucking psych ward.

  145. #146 RickrOll
    January 15, 2009

    “…And His Noodle was tickled by the fancies of His creation. He blessed them in thier laughter, commiting them to the task of humiliating the pagans and false prophets of the worldAmen. And the laughter continued, forever and ever.”

  146. #147 Henry
    January 15, 2009

    So does anybody know whom I might be able to get in contact with regards an official ex-communication? For some reason I have this humorous image in my head of some poor person opening their in box tomorrow morning, only for it to be filled with Pharyngulites asking to be kicked out of a church that they aren’t part of.

  147. #148 Tulse
    January 15, 2009

    And aren’t their priorities a little screwed up that they consider genocide a lesser offense?

    Remember, it was a representative of the pope who said “Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own”, thus ordering the massacre of the town of Béziers in an attempt to wipe out the Cathar heresy during the Albigensian Crusade.

    (What is it about this topic that brings out the old folks — we’ve had Tom Lehrer references, Arlo Guthrie references, D&D references…(of course, given that I recognized those, I suppose that puts me into the “old folks” category as well.)

  148. #149 bastion of sass
    January 15, 2009

    There are a few that only this tribunal and the Pope are qualified to cope with. They are briefly listed: trying to assassinate the Pope

    OK. Those who fail at assassinating the pope get sent to the tribunal.

    But inquiring minds want to know: who deals with a successful pope assassin?

  149. #150 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 15, 2009

    I’m confused. The Church believes that the problem with abortion is that it is murder. If so, how can abortion as sin be worse than murder? Does this mean the special tribunal would need to be also used if a murderer wanted to become a priest? If so, why does the article not discuss that more general setting?

  150. #151 Tualha
    January 15, 2009

    Hey, let’s not overlook the good news in this story. “A study by Italy’s Sacred Heart University found that 47 per cent of Italians either never go to confession or last did so a long time ago.” Not to mention that cracker-desecration is on the rise.

  151. #152 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    Great idea Druidbros. The next time I’m in Vatican City, I’ll sign any and every guestbook as PZ Myers too. Surely there are a few of the European readers going to Rome in the near future who will be game for this. “PZ” will usurp “Killroy”!

  152. #153 Lilian Nattel
    January 15, 2009

    I think it’s fine to leave the punishment for messing up wafers to the pope and punishment for genocide to someone else. Would you want the pope in charge of it?

  153. #154 Jim
    January 15, 2009

    Hey is this a blog about science, or is it just a front for being antiCatholic. In addition to the Roman Catholics there are many Easten Orthodox churches that believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. There are many Reformation Churches that believe in Consubstanciation (sp). For example Lutherans believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ but that the substance remains bread. YOu guys got problems with that theology too?

  154. #155 Peter
    January 15, 2009

    Way up there at #32.

    Hilarious.

  155. #156 Joshua Zelinsky
    January 15, 2009

    Tualha, don’t be so quick to take that as a sign that the people are being not so Catholic. Italian Catholicism has some strange elements to it. For many years now the vast majority of Italian population self-identifies as Catholic and when asked who they would pray to in the most dire straights list all sorts of saints and even the Virgin Mary before they list either “Jesus” or “God”. So people not going to confession isn’t strong evidence of much at all.

  156. #157 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    AND WE HAVE A WINNER! #154.
    First Troll of the day!

  157. #158 Fred Mounts
    January 15, 2009

    @154:

    Fuck all theology. The Catholics have been around the longest of the moron Christians, so fuck them especially hard, in the ass, just like their priests like it.

  158. #159 Tulse
    January 15, 2009

    For example Lutherans believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ but that the substance remains bread. YOu guys got problems with that theology too?

    Yes, Jim. Yes we do.

  159. #160 JackC
    January 15, 2009

    BobB (WAY back at 66)… That was where you say “I don’t know what happened, but…”
    :-)

    JC

  160. #161 bipolar2
    January 15, 2009

    ** No Exit? **

    Preemptive strike! Benny16 gotcha PZ. Godless you were. But now you are Uber-godless.

    There’s a travelogue you need to read before having to bear the consequences of your mortal sin.

    It’s called The Divine Comedy by Dante Alghieri. Focus on part one of the trilogy, L’inferno. My guess is that you’ll suffer from eternal cold rather than eternal fire.

    On the other hand, should you repent? Consider parts 2 and 3 of Dante’s Rough Guide: Il Purgatorio and Il Paradiso. Part 2 demonstrates that finite punishment is countably less than infinite punishment. Part 3 offers eternal fetal bliss in a medieval version of The Matrix. (It looks like a white rose.)

    Happy trails to you,

    bipolar2

  161. #162 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    YOu guys got problems with that theology too?

    I think I can speak for all of us and say ‘yes’.

  162. #163 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    aren’t their priorities a little screwed up

    Of course their priorities are skewed. They’re evil religionists. The skewedness of their priorities is how we can recognise them as such!

    A common-or-garden psychopath/sociopath has selfish motives but often has to be a serial killer on his own and end up on the run. What religion does instead is allow the psychos to conveniently disguise their selfishness as divine law/lore, pretend vices are virtues and vice versa. That way they can more easily get a gang of lesser psychos and sheeple to help them in their crimes and frequently get away with their crimes too.

    The hierarchy of religionists want to routinely get away with murder and even genocide of rivals. So they simply pretend those are lesser or even non-crimes. They arrange for themselves and any favoured minions to be absolved of responsibility or blame (but only for the right price / devotion).

    Most evil leaders, including popes, don’t want to be got rid of by the only means possible (in non-democracies), hence they naturally make even attempted assassination of themselves the worst crime – treason or whatever. Whereas lesser minions are expendable and are expended almost as easily as rivals (although they’re still then useful as excuses to kill more rivals in retaliation).

    Meanwhile, the leaders don’t want anyone having any fun or success which is out of their control (hence the sex rules) or anyone doing good without proper payment and devotion coming back. They also need to invent silly mysteries invested with ludicrous importance to separate the in-group from the out-group and provide ready-made excuses to get the minions/sheeple inflamed enough to attack anyone who’s being inconvenient, eg by risking exposing the whole scam for what it is. Nothing must depose the psycho from his comfortable established position.

    It’s all perfectly normal psycho stuff once you bother to look behind the curtain, mirrors and incense. Other ideologies can work at pulling off the same trick; but only religion is quite so custom-made, semi-intelligently designed by millennia of evolution, for the purpose of letting psychos run such a scam long-term with impunity. Everyone else (of the aspiring psycho-leader kind) is stuck reinventing the wheel. More secular governments and businesses are mere amateurs in comparison with religion.

  163. #164 Dan
    January 15, 2009

    I’m not sure they’re saying they’re more heinous or less heinous as temporal crimes. They’re just saying these particular sins interfere with the Church’s ability to let people into Heaven, which is all the Church should have domain over. I don’t see why the Church should involve itself in matters of, say, murder and genocide except to forgive what they see, according to their own traditions, as sin. In temporal matters, the Church needs to ask permission. They’re not the authorities.

    Why would their rules emphasize temporal matters? Don’t we all believe in the separation of church and state?

  164. #165 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    YOu guys got problems with that theology too?

    Why yes Jim, many of us do have a problem with that since it’s irrational and illogical and can be proven to be utter horseshit in any decent food testing lab. (well not actual horseshit, but you get the picture)

  165. #166 AJ Milne
    January 15, 2009

    …In addition to the Roman Catholics there are many Easten Orthodox churches that believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. There are many Reformation Churches that believe in Consubstanciation (sp)…

    Well, in fairness to Cap’n I’m So Persecuted up there, it does pose a fascinating theological question, at least:

    I mean: can we get them to excommunicate PZ, too? Or does he have to desecrate their crackers specifically?

    (Presumably, this has been answered somewhere. And inquiring minds want to know.)

  166. #167 Asemodeus
    January 15, 2009

    If PZ Myers is going to go to rome to talk to an 80 year old virgin who wears dresses, then he should dress up for the occasion as well.

    Perhaps dressed up like Jesus. Or maybe in a nice red devils outfit.

  167. #168 Steve_C
    January 15, 2009

    HAHAH.

    Jim.

    Duhhhhhhh.

  168. #169 Carlie
    January 15, 2009

    If so, how can abortion as sin be worse than murder?

    That’s easy. With murder, you’re just killing someone. With an abortion, you’re not just killing someone, you’re letting a woman get away with having sex. That’s way worse.

  169. #170 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    If PZ Myers is going to go to rome to talk to an 80 year old virgin who wears dresses…

    Betting odds that Benny is personally uninitiated in sins of the flesh are extremely poor, but I don’t really want to think about it. *shudder*

  170. #171 'Tis Himself
    January 15, 2009

    Which tribunal absolves Catholic prelates who order bishops to cover up clerical pedophilia?

  171. #172 Blondin
    January 15, 2009

    So does this mean that one of those Swiss Guards or an Opus Dei process server will come to your door and serve your excommunication notice or just how does that work?

    Do you have like 30 days to appeal? If so do you have to appear in person or can you just submit in writing?

    Hey if you need any references or character witnesses…

  172. #173 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ PGPWNIT #20:

    Their priorites are in line with their belief system.

    No, they’re not in line with their professed belief system (eg of god being the judge etc etc). They’re only in line with their secret, psychopathic, personal belief system. This is what makes them so easily identifiable – to anyone paying attention anyway (which is far too few people to make enough difference).

  173. #174 Tualha
    January 15, 2009

    YOu guys got problems with that theology too?

    Hmm, let’s put it this way. In general, people who read and comment on Pharyngula are rationalists who have a problem with any sort of irrationality, especially the sort that declares itself “holy” and not to be questioned. So, that would be a yes.

    As PZ once put it, it’s a frackin’ cracker. If people, even many millions of people, think it’s some kind of magically transformed flesh of a guy who died 2,000 years ago, even though it still tastes like bread and to all scientific tests is still bread (I’m sure someone has analyzed it), well, most of us would regard that as irrational, crazy, stupid, and not to be respected.

    You might want to google “Russell’s teapot” for more insight into why we don’t respect this sort of view.

  174. #175 Marty
    January 15, 2009

    @95:

    “It’s a blatant conflict of interest for the Pope to judge someone who’s tried to assassinate him. To avoid the appearance of impropriety, the Pope should recuse himself and let the Vice-Pope handle the excommunication.”

    I see it differently. I think that only the pope can forgive someone who has tried to assassinate him. One of the worst aspects of christian morality claims is that a third party can forgive someone for harm they did to someone else (e.g., I steal your money, then appeal to a god for forgiveness). If I hurt you, only you can forgive me.

    Jim @154: Good one! That’s very funny!

  175. #176 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    No, they’re not in line with their professed belief system

    Well, their professed belief system is a long tangled mess. But Catholics kinda get away from the biblical issues with tradition.

    Sure, the bible is the word of God, but this is what he meant….

  176. #177 Hypothetical Situation
    January 15, 2009

    Ok, so hypothetical situation… you go to church and grab a quire boy and a consecrated cracker, hold them both and gunpoint and ask the church to pick.

    If genocide is a lesser crime than cracker abuse, what is the life of one alter boy?

  177. #178 Joe Mc Faul
    January 15, 2009

    As a duly Ordained Minister, recognized by the state of my residence to leglaly perform weddings…I hereby absolve you.

    There, that was easy.

    I accept Payapal.

  178. #179 PGPWNIT
    January 15, 2009

    If genocide is a lesser crime than cracker abuse, what is the life of one alter boy?

    You’d make a martyr out of him. Straight to Heaven…no waiting. He should welcome the shot.

  179. #180 Josh West
    January 15, 2009

    http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2009/01/pro-life_group_up_in_arms_over.php

    Anyone else catch this story? Apparently donuts = abortion now.

  180. #181 Menyambal
    January 15, 2009

    The religious are most definitely what I call insane. I’ve not met one yet that wasn’t certifiable.

    Yeah, you can look up various forms of craziness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and often find a little paragraph attempting to separate out religion from insanity. I recall the article on psychosis saying that if enough people do it, it isn’t a psychosis.

    I’m not a medical pro, so I may have all that jumbled. (I’m not a HTML pro either, so I hope all that works.)

  181. #182 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    Don’t you know Bill Donahue just peed himself with glee when he read the article.
    It’s a shame he doesn’t comprehend why any non-catholic would think it to be so pathetic and silly.

  182. #183 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ jynnan_tonnyx #52:

    they at least understood that the desecration was “to make a point about freedom of thought and religion”

    They only seemed to half get it though (at least in that quoted section). They (carefully?) failed to condemn the branch of the church whose members assaulted Webster Cook and abused their unmerited influence to get secular authorities to take action against him, rather than sticking with their own sacred authorities in arranging to ban or excommunicate him.

    NB Which is another example of how they don’t really follow their own professed belief system.

  183. #184 KC
    January 15, 2009

    Sounds like a job for… THE BISHOP (insert thunder peal here!)

  184. #185 Dan
    January 15, 2009

    If genocide is a lesser crime than cracker abuse, what is the life of one alter boy?

    Who said which one was a lesser crime? The Church isn’t law enforcement. They don’t deal with crime. They deal with what they see as sin.

  185. #186 Rey Fox
    January 15, 2009

    “It’s telling that in the highest eschelon of sins, only one is about something as grave as murder, and it’s only focused on one specific person. (Trying to kill off a whole people is of a lesser priority than trying to kill just the Pope? What?) The rest are, essentially: breaking confidentiality, disrespecting a symbol, enjoying one’s private parts, and indirectly condoning abortion.”

    Telling indeed. The matters of highest concern to these people are enforcing their little internal rules and maintaining in-group cohesion. Sure, it’s consistent with an organization acting in self-preservation, but these guys are making their rules out to be actual MORALS. Does anyone want to explain again to me why these organizations are considered to be transcendent and respectable?

  186. #187 Ryogam
    January 15, 2009

    So, if PZ was Catholic, and he was summoned to go before this tribunal, who pays for the trip? Is food and lodging included? Maybe a per diam? Because, as a former Catholic, I certainly would put up with a little face to face with the pope over cracker desecration if there’s a free trip to Italy involved.

  187. #188 Muffin
    January 15, 2009

    Well, since I’m a pope in Discordianism (as is everyone, BTW) and therefore have the right to excommunicate, de-excommunicate, re-excommunicate and de-re-excommunicate anyone, I hereby preemptively de-excommunicate PZ just in case he may ever be excommunicated from any organisation. :)

    And I’d also like to make it known I’m retroactively invoking infallibility on all my posts, past and future, as is the right of any Discordian pope.

  188. #189 Wouter Jonker
    January 15, 2009

    Haha, great late night comedy, salute!

  189. #190 Steve
    January 15, 2009

    @112

    You OBVIOUSLY don’t know how summoning works. It requires a summoner equipped with a soul shard and two assistants to complete the ritual. The target accepts the summons, who then magically appears in front of the inquisitor. I think there is a 30-second cool-down period between summonses, but I may be wrong.

    I thought that was one of the first things taught in Sunday school, but the curriculum may have changed when Vatican II came about.

  190. #191 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ Evolving Squid #112:

    I don’t understand the church’s ability to compel a person to attend as seems to be suggested.

    Does the US have an extradition treaty with the Vatican (unlike its dishonest one-way only-in-its-own-favour version with the UK)?!

    @ Bill Dauphin #117:

    who knew we could embed images in comments

    Quite a few people, myself included.

    Is that cool with our Squiddly Host? And with the Scienceblogs poobahs?

    Only if extremely sparingly used (and probably to good purpose too, ie “in the best po-ossible taste!”).

  191. #192 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ Menyambal #181:

    you can look up various forms of craziness … and often find a little paragraph attempting to separate out religion from insanity. I recall the article on psychosis saying that if enough people do it, it isn’t a psychosis.

    The classic example for desperately trying to exclude religion from the frame is “folie a deux” (which they also have to pretend is rare rather than all too common).

  192. #193 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    Fine, you want excommunication?

    Sit through bone-achingly boring fucking mass. Get communion, save wafer. After mass, walk up to priest, throw wafer on floor and grind under foot. Say “excommunicate me, please” and give him your name and address.

    Fixed.

    (You could do this during mass, but you would get a beating with your excommunication.)

  193. #194 Adam
    January 15, 2009

    If I may use this place as a confessional…

    As a rebellious young high-schooler, I became, as people are wont to do, disillusioned with Catholicism. Of course my parents still were and I never brought anything up and we still went to church. I really hated taking communion, partly because that damn cracker tastes disgusting. Communion is usually given at the end of church. Therefore, one time, I held the wafer in my mouth, and upon getting outside, spat it out.

    Bonus marks: it was a cloudy, almost stormy night (we went to church in the evening) and I waited for lightning to come down and strike me dead. Didn’t happen.

  194. #195 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    What the hell happened to the trolls eucharist apologists? Jim left without so much as a “kiss my foot, Mr. Fox, you’re standing on it!” Patricia will be so sad.

  195. #196 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ kamaka #193:

    Note that, although it doesn’t match Webster Cook’s intent, the start of your scenario does match what he did (taking and saving the wafer without fuss) but the ending you claim to be avoiding happened to him anyway – in that he was assaulted (common assault, not the grievous kind) and later (because he did manage to get away from the initial assault) threatened with worse.

    So you shouldn’t be lulling people into a false sense of security about getting excommunicated rather than beaten. The religionists don’t like losing the numbers game and do like attacking people. I think it’s a safe bet that the number of religious assaults (on the non or differently religious) far outweighs the number of excommunications.

  196. #197 WRMartin
    January 15, 2009

    Why just the other day a football/soccer referee showed up at my front door and when I answered the doorbell he blew his whistle then slapped a red card on my forehead and just walked away pointing off towards the side of my lawn. What the hell was up with that and do you think it might be a trend?

  197. #198 Parnip
    January 15, 2009

    I bless P.Z. Myers for the afformentioned act.

    I have as much authority as the pope, just not as many people who believe it.

    -The late, truly great George Carlin.

  198. #199 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    So you shouldn’t be lulling people into a false sense of security about getting excommunicated rather than beaten. The religionists don’t like losing the numbers game and do like attacking people. I think it’s a safe bet that the number of religious assaults (on the non or differently religious) far outweighs the number of excommunications.

    Anyone reading this blog knows the risks…PZ posts the threats.

    I’m “going to hell” a thousand times.

  199. #200 jackdaw
    January 15, 2009

    #26

    I think it means, technically, that the priest or deacon would have had to go outside and gather all the remains of the wafer sitting of course in your vomit and then “properly” dispose of it. I knowe this because one time as a child I sneezed as soon as I got the wafer, blowing it all over the place and the priest had to retrieve every boogery piece of christ from the floor and, ohhh…i don’t know….do 3 hail marys and 4 crosses or something.

  200. #201 KnockGoats
    January 15, 2009

    Hey is this a blog about science, or is it just a front for being antiCatholic. – Jim

    Jim, RTFT

  201. #202 VanR
    January 15, 2009

    Honestly? How can any atheist expect to be treated in a civil manner and shown respect when we are represented by these extremists like Paul Meyers? There is absolutely NO need to go into a church, trample all over their religion in their church, and make a public display. There’s an appropriate time and place for these interactions, us going into a church and trampling on their things is a direct analogue to them coming into and evolutionary biology lab and sneezing into a sample in the hopes of changing the outcome of an experiment; it’s not right for either party, and it’s just not called for.
    Some people need to learn to show some respect.

  202. #203 CJO
    January 15, 2009

    extremists like Paul Meyers… going into a church and trampling on their things… a direct analogue… Some people need to learn to show some respect

    Bingo!

  203. #204 Joe
    January 15, 2009

    I dunno. I sort of want to try a eucharist with brie. On the other hand, I can’t determine if anyone knows what they’re made out of. Sketchy.

  204. #205 Ryogam
    January 15, 2009

    I know, VanR, you are sooooo right. I TOLD PZ not to go into the church and trample all over their religion, and their things, but, oh no, not PZ he went right into the nearest church and TRAMPLED all over their stuff. And at a totally inappropriate time, too, like, totally.

    ….

    Oh, except he DIDN’T go into a church, he DIDN’T trample anyone’s “stuff,” and he DIDN’T trample on anyone’s religion in their church. Sooooooo, yeah, you fail, all around.

  205. #206 DominEditrix
    January 15, 2009

    you go to church and grab a quire boy

    Is that a choir boy who has not yet been reamed?

  206. #207 baryogenesis
    January 15, 2009

    Not sure if the same tactics are currently employed, but several decade ago, if scientology had a dispute with a member of the “church”, they would send a letter informing the person they had been “diconnected”. They would also insist that any other member who had ever met this person also send a similar letter. They proposed to let the person stew for some months, then they would announce that Hubbard had declared an amnesty, inviting all back into the fold.

    In this case, of course, PZ was never a member, but maybe…just maybe, Benny will forgive him rather than cursing him with bell, book and candle.

    Is it possible there will be a formal, magical anti-PZ ceremony in a secret Vatican chamber?

  207. #208 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    Some people need to learn to show some respect.

    Good plan. Like having some idea of what you’re talking about BEFORE you pop off.

  208. #209 'Tis Himself
    January 15, 2009

    VanR,

    I realize you’ll never read this, because your sort drops in, whines about Dr. Myers*, demands that theistic woo be given respect, and then ride off in the distance, never to be seen again.

    However, if the off-chance that you’ll see, this, I offer you a heartly “fuck off.”

    *Why is it that godbots almost always spell it Meyers?

  209. #210 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself

    VanR is an (?) atheist who resents being represented by the extremist Paul Meyers.

    Apparently he prefers nicey nice Richard Dawkins.

  210. #211 Peter
    January 15, 2009

    My uncle (a priest) told me about these things while we were both under the influence of strong liquor.

    The guy who wrote that piece found out very little. The actual procedure is beyond bonkers, even by Catholic standards.

  211. #212 miller
    January 15, 2009

    Back in July, I can’t say I was completely happy with you putting a nail through that cracker, but I must admit I was really impressed by the historical background you provided, how the Eucharist has historically been used as a flimsy pretext to massacre Jews. I have not once seen any responses which even refer to that part of your post. I guess massacres simply aren’t as important as a consecrated cracker.

  212. #213 jpf
    January 15, 2009

    Since we’re on recent Catholic silliness: Catholics ordered to keep quiet over Virgin visions (bold and brackets mine):

    Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.

    The Pope has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition [this would be the Roman Inquisition, not the Spanish one, so keep those tired Python catch-phrases silent], to draw up a new handbook to help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions.

    The visionaries will then be visited by a team of psychiatrists, either atheists or Catholics, to certify their mental health while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings.

  213. #214 Bob L
    January 15, 2009

    VanR “There is absolutely NO need to go into a church, trample all over their religion in their church, and make a public display.”

    PZ gives a detailed account of his desecration of your church’s magical cracker and how he got it on this very blog, go look it up Van.

  214. #215 jackdaw
    January 15, 2009

    #202

    Blow Me! Just fucking blow me. I worked at a museum and weekly a bible school group would come in and yell and scream at the VOLUNTEERS…not even at the staff or the security or even the receptionists but at the people who were willing to pick through little bits of quaternary matrix for hours at a time to find some little bits of bone and shell. Those interlopers are without class and deserve none. So churches are free game as far as I am concerned.

    uhhh…yeah. so fuck off.

  215. #216 Angel Kaida
    January 15, 2009

    @202,

    You’re either lying or you’re a vacillating and ill-informed coward.

    Even if you had your facts straight, you’d still be wrong. Martin Luther said, “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.” I think it’s more than warranted that reason, sense, and understanding return the favor.

    Go out and represent yourself as the polite little doormat atheist if you’re so worried about being misrepresented. See how far that gets you.

  216. #217 SEF
    January 15, 2009

    @ ‘Tis Himself #209

    Why is it that godbots almost always spell it Meyers?

    Because they have approximately zero regard for the truth. Not bothering to check what people’s names are is just another symptom of that more general lack of care. The specific error made may indicate previous exposure to someone of a similar name though.

  217. #218 The Countess
    January 15, 2009

    So driving a rusty nail through a cracker is a lesser offense than murder and genocide? And the church wonders why it is so obsolete.

    So where does buggering altar boys rank?

  218. #219 NFPendleton
    January 15, 2009

    Satanic rituals??? LULZ.

  219. #220 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    Paul Meyers, fire breathing atheist and soldier of fortune, kicks the doors of the cathedral open. The devout scatter, screaming in terror and calling to God for his mercy. He cocks the fedora on his fetid brow and looses his coiled whip and sets his steely gaze on the gilded monstrance among the lit candles on the holy altar. He begins to amble menacingly up the aisle, and with an unearthly glare, dares any congregant or priest to “make his day”. A few brave souls try to subdue him but they are no match for the deadly skill of the renegade without a god. With remarkable speed he whirls the bullwhip into an arc and jerks it in the direction of the eucharist. The resounding crack , like the report of a Winchester, shatters the glass – and almost preternaturally, the fine serpent-like end of the whip wraps around its prey. With a flick of his wrist, the unprotected wafer comes to rest in Meyers merciless clutches as he drops the whip and retrieves the rusty nail from his dirty breast pocket, momentarily wiping his spittle-flecked lips with his sleeved forearm as the faithful look on in horror. Slowly, he raises the oxidized steel spike in his fist, the priest reflexively genuflecting to ward off this evil act as the women wail and the children sob…

    Yep, that seems entirely plausible for Paul Meyers.

  220. #221 The Count
    January 15, 2009

    PZ, I am so impressed with you! Congratulations, you need to celebrate with a glass of fine sherry or port. Pissing off the pope, ahh… one can only dream.
    :)

  221. #222 Twin-Skies
    January 15, 2009

    I stopped reading after the “satanic rituals” line. Jesus tap-dancing Christ – what a bunch of overreacting, hyperbolic old farts!

    What the fuck will an excommunucation do for you anyway? And why don’t see the church handing them out to people guilty of far more heinous crimes like rape, genocide, or human trafficiking?

  222. #223 Fernando Magyar
    January 15, 2009

    PGPWNIT@ 63.

    But this has devolved to symantics. My point is not inane, it is a matter of perspective.

    Symantics?

    Is that from Snortin Antivirus?

    Moron!

  223. #224 DominEditrix
    January 15, 2009

    I stopped reading after the “satanic rituals” line.

    Personally, I use Girl Scout cookies in my satanic rituals. Thin Mints are best, IMO, but one can use Trefoils in a pinch. It is, however, important not to use the Girl Scouts themselves.

  224. #225 clinteas
    January 15, 2009

    Ahhhh,Crackergate revisited,hours of fun ahead….*stocks fridge with beer*

    It never ceases to amaze me,if you think about it,this is the 21st century,we’ve been on the moon,we all carry lil StarTrek flip phones,we make self-replicating molecules…..
    And then there are pedophiles in red and white robes in some dark age private retreat that rule the heads and minds of billions of homo sapiens and make them believe a cracker is the body of some dead jew that if you do the wrong thing with it after some robed pedo has mumbled some Latin over it,is worse that fucking your neighbors daughter or wiping out some small country.

    Talk about intelligent design of the homo sapiens brain.

  225. #226 Towedwart
    January 15, 2009

    Excommunication is the church taking on god’s supposed role of determining who is allowed salvation. The fact that an intangible, unreasonable issue like this supersedes the importance of actual issues like murder and genocide goes to show how ridiculous the whole system is.

  226. #227 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    #154
    Posted by: Jim | January 15, 2009 4:21 PM
    “YOu guys got problems with that theology too?”

    If the question is do we think all the religions who eat Jesus you mentioned are bullshit just like the Catholicism… the answer is yes.

  227. #228 mayhempix
    January 15, 2009

    VanR
    “… going into a church and trampling on their things is a direct analogue to them coming into and evolutionary biology lab and sneezing into a sample in the hopes of changing the outcome of an experiment.”

    Oh yes. Absolutely. Sure they are.

  228. #229 Dave
    January 15, 2009

    Wait, your name is Paul?

  229. #230 'Tis Himself
    January 15, 2009

    kamaka #210

    VanR is an (?) atheist who resents being represented by the extremist Paul Meyers.

    Ah yes, I see. VanR is a follower of the spokescritter for International Atheism®, Dr. Matthew Nisbet PhD.

  230. #231 CalGeorge
    January 15, 2009

    Congrats, PZ! You are their worst nightmare.

    Robert Mugabe can be dealt with by some underling and functionary.

    You get the Pope.

    I hope everyone also caught this one…

    “Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles. [...] …anyone who claims to have seen an apparition will only be believed as long as they remain silent and do not court publicity over their claims. If they refuse to obey, this will be taken as a sign that their claims are false.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/catholics-ordered-to-keep-quiet-over-virgin-visions-1332016.html

    Heeheehee!

  231. #232 Twin-Skies
    January 15, 2009

    @Jim

    Personally, I have a problem with any theoloy when it proves to be elitistic, dogmatic, judgemental, narrow-minded, and condescending of any other belief outside its borders.

    It just so happens almost all I’ve read about carry all these traits.

  232. #233 Peter Braithwaite
    January 15, 2009

    Just came by here looking at all the nominees on the weblog science awards. My do you children have some anger management issues. Where’s the Science? From the standard of comment here I’m pretty sure there’s not enough IQ here to maintain any form of discussion. Best science blog? Not a hope.

    I’ll pray for you all.

  233. #234 rowmyboat
    January 15, 2009

    ” rowmyboat | January 15, 2009 2:38 PM
    So, wait… If you kill living, breathing, whole, born people (who are not the Pope), that’s less bad than if you used to be do abortions? Cause if we are going to be saying that fetuses are people with souls and shit, doesn’t that make them just like all the other people? So shouldn’t that go straight into the murder category?

    Remember that catholics believe in orginal sin. Killing an unborn infant is therefore horrible because you’ve denied the infant any chance of being baptized and cleansed of original sin. Adults had the choice of being baptized or not and, effectively, “reap what they sow.”

    Yeah. It’s still pretty fucked up.”

    But what if you kill a born human baby that hasn’t been baptized yet? Which does that fall under — abortion/fetus killing, or murder? It’s not abortion, but the kid hasn’t been cleansed of original sin yet. And what about those born into non-Catholic families? Is there an age limit, like majority, where it’s not your fault for not having seen the light and gotten baptized yet?

  234. #235 Ryogam
    January 15, 2009

    Yeah, and a “Fuck You” to you, too.

    “Peter” is another word for “dick.”

  235. #236 Twin-Skies
    January 15, 2009

    @VanR

    Biologists don’t rally around your house, threaten to lynch you, or give death threats and other nasties at you when you sneeze at their culture samples.

    I strongly advise you to read up on the actions prior to PZ’s “desecreation” – keyword: Crackergate – before you go shooting off like that.

  236. #237 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    And we have another winner! Peter “Driveby Liar” Braithwaite. He was just in the neighborhood. He’ll pray for us.

    Trolls:Not any honest bone their moralistic bodies.

  237. #238 E.V.
    January 15, 2009

    in, dammit, in.

  238. #239 Eyeoffaith
    January 15, 2009

    Wow. And I thought I was only joking when I said that defiling a cracker made you worse than Hitler.

  239. #240 Andyo
    January 15, 2009

    And this also goes back to when I was catholic. What pretentious cocks those assholes in the clergy are. Sorry, haven’t read all the comments, only needed to say that.

    You should carry that as the most absurd badge of honor, PZ. though I know you already figured that out. For someone like me, it’d be sweeter to be ex-commed like that.

  240. #241 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    @ Tis Himself #230

    Ah yes, I see. VanR is a follower of the spokescritter for International Atheism®, Dr. Matthew Nisbet PhD.

    Ummm…I’m not getting it, help me out here.

  241. #242 clinteas
    January 15, 2009

    VanR @ 202,

    who’s this Mister Meyers you refer to?

    There is absolutely NO need to go into a church, trample all over their religion in their church, and make a public display

    Google “Webster Cook”.Nobody trampled over anything.Youre a liar.If only a drive-by liar.

  242. #243 DLC
    January 15, 2009

    Right. Are you sure the pope wasn’t just pointing out which altar boy he wanted to . . . Absolve ?

    No, I take it back.. that’s the somatic component for a burning hands spell. The Pope’s a low-level wizard? who knew!

  243. #244 John Mruzik
    January 15, 2009

    I get it, be a swallower, not a spitter….

  244. #245 DominEditrix
    January 15, 2009

    234: Years ago, I worked in a hospital in a primarily Catholic town. Whenever anyone miscarried or had a still-birth, a priest would be called in to do baptismal rites. So it seems to me that the same could be done for aborted embryos/fetuses. Just pack up the biowaste and trot it over to a church and demand that the priest baptise it.

    If he refuses, well, then, ship the cells off to Rome, telling the Pope that your poor little baby was refused baptism and you will hold him personally responsible if your baby goes to hell.

    Then call all the Christian newspapers and see how “Priest refuses to save soul of unborn child” reads as a lede.

    Hoist them, as it were, on their own retard.

  245. #246 RagingDinosaurs
    January 15, 2009

    #223:
    Just because someone doesn’t know how to spell semantics does not mean you have to mock them. Please be respectful.

    I personally don’t understand why you are arguing with this guy, he is simply saying that their belief system is what causes them to have messed up priorities. I agree with this

  246. #247 Twin-Skies
    January 15, 2009

    @Andyo

    Welcome to the club. I lost my faith in Catholicism around the time I read about CrackerGate, and Pope Benedict’s comparison to homosexuality to destroying the rainforests.

  247. #248 Rey Fox
    January 15, 2009

    “My do you children have some anger management issues. ”

    I can manage my anger just fine. Why, I’ve never so much as raised a fist at another human being, even a child-buggering priest. I vent my anger about the mental slavery of religion and the undeserved respect it gets in circles of power in very peaceful ways on an internet message board. Like Walter Sobchak, I’m calm, dude.

    “I’m pretty sure there’s not enough IQ here to maintain any form of discussion.”

    Try us. You can start by discussing why it is that the most important issues in the Catholic church seem to be consensual sex and improperly respecting a cracker. Or, if that’s not scientific enough for you, we can discuss the ever-shrinking gaps in which people hide gods. Or how evolutionary “leaps” do not require an intelligent designer, that subject was addressed in a post here just yesterday.

  248. #249 Dave2
    January 15, 2009

    I didn’t know this until recently, but St. Thomas Aquinas explicitly argues in the Summa Theologiae that masturbation is worse than rape, because it’s a sin against nature (not just against reason or justice).

    Check it out yourself: II-II, Q. 154, art. 12 (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3154.htm#article12)

  249. #250 Krubozumo Nyankoye
    January 15, 2009

    I don’t get it, I admit I have only read 20% of the replies in this thread so maybe I haven’t seen it but no one seems to mention the obvious fact that religion is just a business. Admittedly it is a pretty lucrative one because it is selling something that never has and never will exist and it makes more demands on its customers than the IRS. It trades on the *fear of death* meme. That’s it, that’s all they’ve got.

    If L. Ron Hubbard could pull off the scam, so can anyone. He wasn’t the brightest light on the tree by a long shot and as a writer well, better to stay on topic.

    Worse still, the *respect for religion* meme enables a myriad of spin-offs, thinly veiled con-games that make similar if not identical claims whose sole purpose is to rifle the wallets of those gullible enough to fork over some cash. Psychics, healers, homeopaths, astrologers…

    21st century? I think not, two or three thousand years has just not been enough for the collective intelligence of Homo sapiens to overcome the long superstitious history that led up to our present knowledge of the universe. Where do we go from here? Well that’s the good part, for the first time in the history of life on earth, it’s up to us.

    Fifty years ago I had a sort of resentful feeling about the idea of getting old. Now it is a comfort to me. I have a better appreciation of how little or how much difference an individual can make in a single life time. I will work until I die and I will die happy, because I know I have used my life to the best of my ability, honestly.

    Thanks to Dr. Myers for his honesty.

    Zai jian,

  250. #251 David in SC
    January 15, 2009

    “What we have here is failure to excommunicate.”

    From the film, “Cool Hand St. Luke.” Or maybe that was, “Cool Hairy-Handed Luke.”

  251. #252 clinteas
    January 15, 2009

    @233,

    I’ll pray for you all.

    And fuck you too.

  252. #253 Krubozumo Nyankoye
    January 15, 2009

    #252

    Ha! That made me LOL.

  253. #254 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 15, 2009

    Just came by here looking at all the nominees on the weblog science awards. My do you children have some anger management issues. Where’s the Science? From the standard of comment here I’m pretty sure there’s not enough IQ here to maintain any form of discussion. Best science blog? Not a hope.

    I’ll pray for you all.

    Yes and I’m going to bust out my hula-hoop and practice Hula-Hooping for you.

    We’ll both be accomplishing almost basically the same thing, nothing. The difference is you’ll be talking to yourself while bruising your knees, and I’ll be learning cool kids party tricks.

  254. #255 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    Peter Braithwaite wrote:

    Just came by here looking at all the nominees on the weblog science awards. My do you children have some anger management issues. Where’s the Science? From the standard of comment here I’m pretty sure there’s not enough IQ here to maintain any form of discussion. Best science blog? Not a hope.

    My, what a pompous, ignorant turd.

    I’ll pray for you all.

    Would you, with your obviously high IQ and thorough understanding of what science is and isn’t, like to provide us with any evidence that prayer does anything other than waste the time of the person bleating to their non-existent god?

    No? Thought not. Well, don’t worry – we’ll all think for you. It’s obvious you need someone to.

  255. #256 Peter Braithwate
    January 15, 2009

    @251 “And fuck you too”.

    Ah, the subtleties of high discourse.

    As I said, not enough brainpower here to contemplate the mysteries of the baked bean, never mind the Universe.

    Bless you Children

  256. #257 Nerd of Redhead
    January 15, 2009

    And fuck you again you pompous ignoramous PB.

  257. #258 Jafafa Hots
    January 15, 2009

    I’m not sure how you can be an “extremist” atheist.

    Like, I am EXTREMELY not infected with polio. I am so much more polio-free than the rest of you.

  258. #259 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 15, 2009

    Hey Peter, Make an argument instead of coming off like a pompous dolt.

  259. #260 Nerd of Redhead
    January 15, 2009

    I don’t think he can make a legitimate argument. That would mean he would have to quit looking down his nose at us from our knee level.

  260. #261 craig
    January 15, 2009

    Peter, as a demonstration of how much more moral and mature I am than you, I’m sending in box tops to save your soul.

  261. #262 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    Bless you Children

    Another waste of your (figurative) breath and everyone else’s time.

    Please, Peter, oh arbiter of all things intellectual and cerebral, do provide us with the peer-reviewed scientific analysis of any occasion where prayers or blessings have shown to provide beneficial results for the people they are directed towards.

    Can you do that? Or are you a liar and a hypocrite?

  262. #263 clinteas
    January 15, 2009

    See,thats a wonderful example of a pompous self-righteous tard who can call people he doesnt know and most of whom would be more than his intellectual equal “children”,throw the prayer insult around,but dare to call the fucker a fucker and its all “see i told you so”,and how rude and impolite you all are !

    Im more and more inclined to adopt the opinion that we have to ridicule more and be more impolite towards pompous arrogant know-nothing fucks like that guy.

  263. #264 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    PB @ 256

    Bless you Children

    Practicing to be the vice-pope?

  264. #265 clinteas
    January 15, 2009

    21st century? I think not, two or three thousand years has just not been enough for the collective intelligence of Homo sapiens to overcome the long superstitious history that led up to our present knowledge of the universe

    Its actually fascinating to speculate about how mankind could evolve,and what could become of it if we happen to not kill the planet and/or its resources first.
    The human race is so young by evolutionary standards,and still so much dependent on superstition and mythology,that it is absolutely intriguing to think about the endless possibilities we actually do have,if our brains evolve enough to eliminate superstition and religion,or the need for them,someday.

    Now to a more important problem: To the MCG or not to the MCG?

  265. #266 Andyo
    January 15, 2009

    Posted by: Twin-Skies | January 15, 2009 9:13 PM

    @Andyo

    Welcome to the club. I lost my faith in Catholicism around the time I read about CrackerGate, and Pope Benedict’s comparison to homosexuality to destroying the rainforests.

    Thanks. It’s good to know though that underneath all the absurdity, Crackergate served to put some perspective and sense into a catholic’s mind. You’re actually pretty new huh, I should be welcoming you hehe. Don’t you feel so liberated, by the way.

    I “lost” mine about 8 or 9 years ago. I was young and stupid, and actually a “guide” (don’t know how the call ‘em here) that helped people into confirmation. Although it never felt right uttering “god this”, “god that”… I was always telling my mentored that they should question me, and even the brothers and father. Didn’t listen though haha. By this time I already was aware of some dishonest weasely things these brothers were doing to get young people, especially the ones good-looking and with money (figure that) to get to consecrate (become priests/nuns).

    Then I read Hawking’s book, where he tells the story in which he went with other scientists to the Vatican, and the Pope basically told them that they could study the evolution of the universe, but what happened right before the Big Bang was off-limits. What pretentious cock. [You'll have to log in to an Amazon account to see that scan] Here’s what he said:

    At the end of the conference, the participants were granted an audience with the Pope. He told us that it was all right to study the evolution of the universe after the big bang, but we should not inquire into the big bang itself because that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God.

    After that I just asked “Why catholicism?” All religions have the same MO. And the slippery slope started…

  266. #267 Andyo
    January 15, 2009

    Whoops sorry something messed the first blockquote above. I was quoting Twin Skies’ response to me. You can tell that.

  267. #268 Rey Fox
    January 15, 2009

    “Im more and more inclined to adopt the opinion that we have to ridicule more and be more impolite towards pompous arrogant know-nothing fucks like that guy.”

    It’s the only thing they listen to.

  268. #269 Andyo
    January 15, 2009

    Damn, and the Amazon link is an ex-link. At least us typekeyers should get a way to edit, no? Here it is. (You’ll need an Amazon account.)

  269. #270 'Tis Himself
    January 15, 2009

    kamaka #241

    Ah yes, I see. VanR is a follower of the spokescritter for International Atheism®, Dr. Matthew Nisbet PhD.

    Ummm…I’m not getting it, help me out here.

    Nisbet is a professor of communications and an atheist. He feels that certain other atheists are failing to properly communicate with theists. He thinks that being confrontational with theists is counterproductive. We should stay in the closet, treat theists and their beliefs with respect and courtesy, and otherwise kiss their collective asses. If we do, then they’ll respond politely, listen carefully to our points of view, and there’ll be pie in the sky when you die.*

    Nisbet has a blog where he pontificates on these and similar thoughts. He moderates comments on his blog, discarding anything he feels lacks proper respect for his wisdom.

    *Bonus points if you recognize this quote from Joe Hill’s The Preacher and the Slave.

  270. #271 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    Now to a more important problem: To the MCG or not to the MCG?

    I say go. I’ll be watching on tv as soon as I get home. If your’e feeling creative you should make up a sign with something on it that Pharyngulites will recognise when they see it – maybe a picture of a squid holding a bat and ball or something.

  271. #272 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 15, 2009

    MCG?

  272. #273 No Credibility
    January 15, 2009

    I love the process used to determine fact here. I mean, what actual evidence does anyone have that the cracker in question was consecrated? And people are ready do damn others to hell without any process to determine truth? Yeah, a system to be proud of for sure.

    Also, Meyers (as far as I can tell) was not the one who was given the cracker by a priest. Is it not possible that whomever took it originally is the desecrator and Meyers is, at most, guilty of the equivalent of holding stolen property, or of violence to a dead body?

    He said, knowing full well that logic and reason will not influence the thinking in question.

  273. #274 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 15, 2009

    Also, Meyers

    Who?

  274. #275 Janine, Bitter Friend
    January 15, 2009

    No Credibility, so rarely does a moniker so accurately captures the essence of the person.

  275. #276 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    MCG?

    Melbourne Cricket Ground – it’s a day/night limited-overs international cricket match between South Africa and Australia. It’s not real cricket (test match) but it’s okay.

    No credibility (the irony!) wrote:

    I mean, what actual evidence does anyone have that the cracker in question was consecrated?

    When you can show us how to tell the difference between a consecrated and unconsecrated one using a double-blind test then come back and complain. Until then stop wasting your time writing pointless nonsense like the above.

    I say ‘your’ because you’re not really wasting ours; we’ll take great pleasure in taking turns to kick you around until you crawl away, sobbing and begging for mercy.

  276. #277 Feynmaniac
    January 15, 2009

    No Credibility, so rarely does a moniker so accurately captures the essence of the person.

    I think Piltdown Man – a fraudulent skull formed together the bones of a medieval man, a chimpanzee, and an orangutan – is the best example of that.

  277. #278 Janine, Bitter Friend
    January 15, 2009

    Posted by: Peter Braithwate | January 15, 2009

    Bless you Children

    Funny. With that little line, you have shown more contempt then a room full of people shouting “Take a splintering cross and shove it up your ass, you fucking shit for brains asshole!”

    Just because I do not have the same level of contempt as Peter does does not mean I lack the desire to do what I described.

  278. #279 Twin-Skies
    January 15, 2009

    As I said, not enough brainpower here to contemplate the mysteries of the baked bean, never mind the Universe.

    Both result in the abrupt, rapid expansion of gas if I remember correctly.

    I call a Poe.

  279. #280 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    Tis Himself @ 270

    He feels that certain other atheists are failing to properly communicate with theists.

    Oh fuck, this shit is making me laugh.

  280. #281 Chas
    January 15, 2009

    The catholic church is being sued for stashing all their pedophile priests in Alaska so that they could release their inner demons on aboriginals who can’t speak english. Morality issues are difficult for them.

  281. #282 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 15, 2009

    Feynmaniac, why do you think I only refer to him as Piltdown Hoax?

  282. #283 kamaka
    January 15, 2009

    The catholic church is being sued for stashing all their pedophile priests in Alaska so that they could release their inner demons on aboriginals who can’t speak english. Morality issues are difficult for them.

    Aiyaiyai…citations, please..

  283. #284 Sastra
    January 15, 2009

    No Credibility #273 wrote:

    I love the process used to determine fact here. I mean, what actual evidence does anyone have that the cracker in question was consecrated? And people are ready do damn others to hell without any process to determine truth? Yeah, a system to be proud of for sure.

    Perhaps I’ve misread, but I think No Credibility is criticizing the Church here, not the atheists. They’re the ones with the system which “damns people to hell” for committing a crime that cannot be measured or discovered after the fact. What other sins have zero observable effect, with no demonstrable harm?

    I think he’s saying that logic and reason are unlikely to influence the Catholics. But I could be wrong. After all, he did misspell PZ’s name.

  284. #285 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    Sastra,

    I might be wrong, but I believe ‘No Credibility’ was posting here during crackergate and claiming that we were irrational to have taken PZ’s word for it being a consecrated cracker.

    He then repeated that poor attempt at an argument a few times and was pounded by the regulars before crawling away. He was a minor blip on the radar compare to the massive wave of extra-stupid papist trolls.

    But if I’m wrong and this is someone different I’ll retract my statement.

  285. #286 Chris P
    January 15, 2009

    Does this Peter Brainswait actually know who all the people are on this list?

    Jumping to conclusions seems to be the only exercise his brain gets.

    Chris P

  286. #287 Sastra
    January 15, 2009

    Wowbagger #285 wrote:

    I might be wrong, but I believe ‘No Credibility’ was posting here during crackergate and claiming that we were irrational to have taken PZ’s word for it being a consecrated cracker.

    I think you’re thinking of Pete Rooke, who as I recall made a long series of posts on how we were guilty of “faith” for accepting that the cracker was consecrated. And I think No Credibility’s post reminded people of his argument. But I’m not sure NC’s making the same one.

  287. #288 Crudely Wrott
    January 15, 2009

    A special confessional?

    I doubt it would be of any use to me. Or to anyone I know more than casually or catholically.

    It must be so tiresome to devote one’s life to such ephemera. Why, the dearth of positive returns alone would seem to be debilitating.

  288. #289 Chas
    January 15, 2009

    # 283: Citations? In a comments section? Well, I was reading a nondescript blog known as “The Daily Dish” and came across this:
    Dumped In Alaska

    No, not Palin: the Catholic church. The sex abuse crisis – in which the Vatican became the de facto hub of an interational sexual criminal conspiracy in the 1960s and 1970s – had a special brutality in the frozen north:

    The new suit contends that pedophile priests unsuited to serve anywhere else were dumped on Alaska and put in remote villages with little or no law enforcement, making it virtually impossible for anyone to report them. There was a calculated effort at the highest levels of the Jesuit order to “‘dump’ these ‘problem priests’ in a location in which the priests could avoid detection and continued to sexually abuse countless Native children,” the suit says.
    Problem priests from seven Jesuit provinces in the United States as well as four other countries ended up in the rural villages, mostly in Western Alaska, Wall said. “They were specifically targeting the Athabascan and the Yup’ik cultures, because they wouldn’t talk,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

    Nothing that new, but a reminder of how much evil the Vatican perpetrated for so long.

    I can post the entire article if you need.

  289. #290 Wowbagger
    January 15, 2009

    I had a bit of a browse and found it was a poster named TG who was doubting the consecratedness of the cracker and claiming to be a ‘man of science’ and abhoring the ‘lack of rationality’ of accepting someone’s word for something.

    TG wrote the below, in this post:

    No desecration would have taken place were the host not consecrated, and thus no Catholic would even bother to notice. Yet, PZ claims the host was consecrated. Let him prove hi8s claim. Nobody has to believe it is the body of Christ for the act of consecration is a public act perfomed by a Catholic priest.

    And that sounds very similar to what ‘No Credibility’ wrote.

    Pete Rooke’s thing was sickening, non-analogies. I don’t think he had anything to say about our ‘faith’ in PZ. I could be wrong, but I spent a lot of time on those threads, and have gone back more than once to check things.

  290. #291 Miguel
    January 15, 2009

    Defiling the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ, is also considered a sin of extreme gravity …

    In July last year an American academic, to make a point about freedom of thought and religion, drove a nail through a Communion wafer and then threw it in a rubbish bin.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that the writer is trying to accuse PZ of “defiling the body of Magic-Man”, and at the same time saying that, despite his efforts, PZ didn’t really drive a nail through Magic-Man, but only “a Communion wafer” instead. So which is it, have cake or eat it?

  291. #292 CalGeorge
    January 15, 2009

    Pope John Paul II:

    ?The church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration, and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.?

    http://www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyopinionnew-new.aspx?action=5402

    That’s one very weird fellow.

  292. #293 jeff
    January 16, 2009

    Wasting food is pretty aweful. Shame on your Mr. Myers! You should have eaten it.

  293. #294 Hugh M.
    January 16, 2009

    Do you at least get a certificate to hang on your wall? Card carrying excommunicate sounds kinda cool.

  294. #295 Twin-Skies
    January 16, 2009

    @jeff

    Dude, have you ever tasted the consecrated bread?

    Imagine a cracker that’s left exposed in a metal box for weeks on end, being brought and manhandled a couple of times a day when it’s to be eaten.

    Blech

  295. #296 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    In my country of birth we have a kind of snack that is basically a huge “cracker” (really a wafer), we put some sweet paste (don’t know the name in English) between two of those and eat them, they’re delicious!

  296. #297 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Just read the few last comments.

    Re: Us having “faith” in that the cracker was consecrated.

    What these guys don’t see is that it doesn’t require “faith” to believe someone that has gained your trust. When has PZ lied to us? What’s the truth:lie ratio here?

    Now, what about the churches? Now, THAT requires faith. It’s like that shady cousin that always comes asking for some money and says he’ll pay you back.

  297. #298 oldtree
    January 16, 2009

    PZ; don’t take any invites from beeps that talk about the various purposes of the Spanish Inquisition. Avoid Cardinal Fang. Avoid the Richelieu, he’s a fake.

  298. #299 commissarjs
    January 16, 2009

    Obviously the wafer wasn’t consecrated. If it was it would have bled, levitated, turned shit into shinola, or something equally wonderful. I mean a PRIEST assured PZ that eucharistic miracles really do happen.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/its_a_crazy_world_out_there.php

    A PRIEST!

  299. #300 melior
    January 16, 2009

    Historically, anyone who tried to assassinate a Pope and succeeded must have been doing God’s will by definition since the Popes are now considered to be martyrs.

  300. #301 Piltdown Man
    January 16, 2009

    Janine, Leftist Bozo @282:

    why do you think I only refer to him as Piltdown Hoax?

    Because you’re a leftist bozo?

  301. #302 AndrewG
    January 16, 2009

    Further down the list, the crime paedophilia is apparently handled by the priests’ brothers’ window cleaners’ neighbours’ paedophile ring…

  302. #303 Janine, Bitter Friend
    January 16, 2009

    That name, like everyone other one I have used, is a joke.

    But the moniker you use is your lame attempt to show what you think of the scientific method. Never mind that not taking knowledge on faith and testing everything, exposed Piltdown as a hoax.

  303. #304 Patricia, OM
    January 16, 2009

    E.V. – I am disappointed. If this is the best the catholics can do, we don’t even have to use floss.

    Come on Benedict, send us some Jesuits, raw and wriggling!

  304. #305 Patricia, OM
    January 16, 2009

    Piltdown Man, You are an idiot, a pervert and a dipshit.
    There isn’t anyone here that you can taunt to give you the slightest whiff of pantelettes, kilts or boxers. So you may as well fold your tent and go home.

    But you won’t.

  305. #306 oriole
    January 16, 2009

    When you trudge away from the inquisition, PZ, to continue your scientific inquiries under house arrest, please mutter under your breath, “Nonetheless, it’s still just a cracker!”

  306. #307 Owlmirror
    January 16, 2009

    Of course, Pilt might actually live near, or even in, Piltdown (Nr. Uckfield, Wealden District, East Sussex, it says there).

    Is that it, Pilt? I hear that Catholics say that confession is said to be good for the soul.

    Hey, the Long Man of Wilmington is also in East Sussex. Huh.

    (Links to “Chalk figures of England”, which links to the Uffington Horse and the Cerne Abbas Giant (don’t look if great big tonkers give you the vapors))

  307. #308 Weaves
    January 16, 2009

    I find it ridiculous that a Church I am not a part of can excommunicate me for ignoring a cracker.

    They’re all crackers.

    and of course they won’t treat genocide seriously. They’d have to start with themselves first.

    and what’s this about the pope dealing with priests who have sex personally? You mean moving them under a different name to a different town to molest more children?

  308. #309 csrster
    January 16, 2009

    Just as another data point, I believe traditional Judaism defines three sins which are so serious you should be prepared to die rather than commit them. They are (iirc) murder, adultery, and desecration of God’s name. The _precise_ definition of what does and does not comprise these sins requires a detailed knowledge of the Talmud, so don’t me ask for details.

  309. #310 arekksu
    January 16, 2009

    csrster:
    no food-based sins?

  310. #311 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    Because you’re a leftist bozo?

    A leftist bozo being a literate,employed,educated person caring for his fellow man,believing health insurance is a good thing,global warming is dangerous and we shouldnt invade other countries for made-up reasons?
    Yeah,thought so…:-)

  311. #312 GoldArm32
    January 16, 2009

    PZ, your basic argument seems to be that you are asking for respect of your questioning of the church. Ironically, however, you do this by disrespecting something that they regard as holy. The excommunication, the big hullabahoo is of no real consequence, you know that much I would assume. I myself am agnostic, and am still far from being convinced of a God other than bits of instinct that point me in that direction. But what I still make sure to do is always respect someone’s belief, unless that particular belief infringes on your rights – and as someone who, as you said, is not a member of the catholic church, how does the eucharist infringe on your rights? What you did was rude, that’s all it was. If you want to take on the catholic church (which certainly does have it’s faults) you have to meet them eye to eye. Because, after all, isn’t that what you’re asking for?

    Another related topic – it seems that a major criticism of religion, christianity, etc, is the hypocrisy inherent in its doctrine and institution. Sure, there are contradictions and in many ways the catholic church has strayed from true christian doctrine. But have you ever stopped to think about how every person at one point in their lives has been hypocritical. So accusing them of that is nothing but hypocrisy itself…you can see how this can go in circles.

    Finally – genocide is a form of killing. Killing is a mortal sin. Mortal sin means a direct unconfessionable road to hell. Ergo, genocide will also lead you to hell. I feel that just as no catholic has the right to judge you as a proclaimed atheist without knowing more about you or about the positives of atheism in general, you have no right to make outlandish comments about catholics before doing research. Quit trying to debunk religion and understand it first before you rebel against it.

  312. #313 GoldArm32
    January 16, 2009

    Oh and oldtree – great monty python reference

  313. #314 csrster
    January 16, 2009

    arekksu: no, although there are probably some circumstances where a food-based sin would count as desecrating the name of God – taking part in a pagan sacrifice, for example. Actually eating a consecrated host might be a case in point.

  314. #315 Piltdown Man
    January 16, 2009

    Evolving Squid @99:

    Has there ever been a document case of a genuinely satanic, religious ritual (i.e. not kids playing D&D or some bollocks like that) in the last 100 years?

    Yes.

  315. #316 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    @ No Credibility #273:

    what actual evidence does anyone have that the cracker in question was consecrated?

    In reality, it’s the Catholics who never know whether any given cracker is consecrated – because some of them already admitted that it’s possible for the priest to mess up the magic spell and there’s no way (experimentally or by junk such as prayer etc of course) to tell the difference.

    However, leaving aside the fact that atheists pretty much by definition don’t believe that any cracker is truly consecrated, even after all the attempted magic rituals in the religious world have been performed on it, PZ did have good reason to know the particular cracker he chose, from all those he’d been sent, had at least been through the allegedly proper magic transformation. That sender was someone (previously known to him from the blog, I think) who’d saved it for a long time and had documentary evidence of its specialness. I have vague recollections that it was from their wedding or confirmation or something like that – hence there being video evidence.

    I don’t know how to find the relevant posts in the enormous backlog though (and I don’t really want to read the whole lot all over again, having been one of the diligent few the first time round). “Cracker” is hardly a unique word under the circumstances and searching for “mine” (I think they posted afterwards to claim former ownership) or “video” isn’t any better. You’d probably need PZ or the person themselves to recall where they posted.

  316. #317 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    @ 312,

    But what I still make sure to do is always respect someone’s belief, unless that particular belief infringes on your rights – and as someone who, as you said, is not a member of the catholic church, how does the eucharist infringe on your rights?

    Another uninformed fool commenting on what he/she obviously knows nothing about.

    PZ’s original post was in response to the Webster Cook incident,google it,I’m sick of linking to things everyone who is interested in more than making wind could easily inform themselves about.

  317. #318 Cannonball Jones
    January 16, 2009

    Does ‘priests buggering altar boys’ come under the heading of priests having sex? What about covering up priests who bugger altar boys so they can carry on with their crimes unmolested (sorry, couldn’t resist) by the cops?

    And of course genocide is less important than defiling the eucharist – haven’t you heard the phrase “kill ‘em all, let god sort ‘em out”? Those who commit genocide are simply delivering folks into the hands of the good lord for safekeeping. I’m pretty sure that’s what the Catholic church was thinking when it stood by during the Holocaust anyway…

  318. #319 mohammed allah
    January 16, 2009

    The Best mohammed T-shirt art is from Sweden. Watch and read the info at,
    http://www.mohammedt-shirt.com
    And allah will help the muslims. HA HA HA

  319. #320 Michael X
    January 16, 2009

    Well, I just found the conglomerate of all stereotypes.

    Just came by here looking at all the nominees on the weblog science awards. My do you children have some anger management issues.

    Two sentences in and already this twit assumes that irritation in any sense is unfounded and in some sense ‘not civilized’.

    Where’s the Science?

    If I ad a dollar for every time some lackwit asked a question that could be answered by reading other recent posts (such as “Organismal size over evolutionary time is a constrained stochastic property”) I wouldn’t be on this thread right now. I’d be taking a money bath.

    From the standard of comment here I’m pretty sure there’s not enough IQ here to maintain any form of discussion.

    Then comes the “I’m better than you because I say so” line, which shows the person to be little more than a hypocrite, accusing a group of people of being dumb and then acting superior while making an idiotic claim.

    I’ll pray for you all.

    The fuck then concludes with the biggest lie of all. As if you’ll really pray in earnest sincerity for a bunch of people you’ve just finished acting better than (albeit badly).

    This guy should win a medal for being the most cliché asshole to have ever lived.

  320. #321 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    cliteas #317

    Yeah, I was gonna say. I find it that many “agnostics” end up always making excuses for theism, though they don’t believe in it themselves. Most of them are just a bunch of Pascal’s Wagerers. Sometimes it’s more irking dealing with an agnostic than with a theist when discussing atheism.

    By the way Goldarm32, which gods are you agnostic about? Because they’re all pretty different, you know? All the gods you’re not “agnostic” about, you’re either a believer or an atheist about. The christian god? Are you prepared to say you’re agnostic about Zeus? Thor? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    Of course, possibly (not probably, I guess) you’re only “agnostic” about a creator god, who doesn’t meddle with the universe after snapping his fingers in the beginning. How is that any different, functionally, from being an atheist?

  321. #322 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    Religion is dishonest from the top down.

    It’s not just the pope and his immoral hierarchy of sins. It extends down to a bus driver pretending that only the (rather feeble) atheist advert on buses, out of all previous adverts, has been against his religion and warrants him fraudulently taking money for a job he doesn’t intend to do properly.

    Since bunches of other local Christians aren’t bothered or are even claiming the advert is actually in their favour, he has to be sufficiently religiously extreme that the content of many other adverts should have similarly offended him.

  322. #323 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    Andyo @ 321,

    Ahem,
    no clit here mate….:P

  323. #324 Alf
    January 16, 2009

    How about posting a sign in a confessional that read “Your confession may be electronically monitored to ensure that you receive the proper penance.”

  324. #325 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    whoops! Freudian sclit.

  325. #326 Alf
    January 16, 2009

    Ask a priest if it is OK for you to take a Eucharist to your bed-ridden aunt who can not come to church…AND…since she can’t eat solid foods ask if it is OK rub a little Vaseline on it and insert it in her anus as you would a suppository?

  326. #327 mythusmage
    January 16, 2009

    As a bonafide Discordian Pope (if I sez so myself) and head of some church of my own (I need a name), I do invoke the most mystical name of the most mystical name, make the sacred finger movements that spell out the words “sacred finger movements” on a dvorak keyboard (American English), and pronounce anything you can shove down your pie hole and digest hereby consecrated (No expiration date).

    Henceforth anything you ingest is now the blood and flesh of God. Which means that as you eat and drink more and more of you becomes the blood and Flesh of God. By this means you become more and more God like, and in due time you become God Himself. In about seven years time you may absolve people of sin just like God does, because by then you are God.

    Yes, gaining weight brings you closer to Godhood that much faster.

    So go, eat, and put on the God.

  327. #328 HombreMoleculos
    January 16, 2009

    Dave2 #249

    Wait a minute … Masturbation is worse than rape? You mean I’ve been doing it wrong since I was 13?

  328. #329 Roundearther
    January 16, 2009

    Loving the picture of Pope Palpatine on the Telegraph site. All he needs is lightning coming out of his fingers and the Sith is his!

  329. #330 Stephen Wells
    January 16, 2009

    312 claims to always respect other people’s beliefs. Why? If I claim to have an invisible parrot on my shoulder, is that worthy of any respect?

  330. #331 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    PZ, your basic argument seems to be that you are asking for respect of your questioning of the church

    You’d be wrong.

  331. #332 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    St. Thomas Aquinas explicitly argues in the Summa Theologiae that masturbation is worse than rape, because it’s a sin against nature (not just against reason or justice).

    But Thomas Aquinas is infamously dishonest in his argumentation and just plain factually wrong too. Eg masturbation exists in nature other than among humans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sexuality

  332. #333 strangest brew
    January 16, 2009

    ‘….to make a point about freedom of thought and religion….

    Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your Lord.

    Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope….’

    So the true face of religion is revealed for what it actually is…
    No one may have ‘freedom of thought about religion’

    And expressing an opinion on the veracity of the story the RCC espouse or indeed apparently anything else and offering an opinion that Jesus is not your Lord…which for a great many folks globally is palpably true…it is a SIN so grievous that it even eclipses genocide in their jaundiced scrambled sick little minds!

    The fear must be terrible that one day they will be left praising jeebus or his ma and supernatural pa completely alone and ignored…
    Bullying threatening and flexing ecclesiastical cojones is all they have left….bravado in the face of rationality….methinks they is fucked!

    By the by nice one PZ …it has always been my ambition to piss off a pope…tis a worthy goal…you are now in the wholly exclusive club with Galileo Galilei… Giordano Bruno and Copernicus…that is truly awesome!

  333. #334 JCsuperstar
    January 16, 2009

    Do you get a certificate of excommunication when you commit one of these sins? With official wax seal and all?

    Because I would frame that.

  334. #335 Emmet Caulfield, OM
    January 16, 2009

    PZ’s original post was in response to the Webster Cook incident?

    Which is synopsised in my Crackergate Redux.

  335. #336 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    Well Emmet,

    they cant be bothered to read the original (sin) article,and sure as hell wont be reading your summary,its all too hard LOL

  336. #337 Emmet Caulfield, OM
    January 16, 2009

    Do you get a certificate of excommunication when you commit one of these sins? With official wax seal and all?

    No, you don’t. The RCC has two kinds of excommunication: latae sententiae (automatic) and ferendae sententiae (as a sentence of an ecclesiastical court). The latter are extremely rare nowadays (I think the most recent case was a rogue bishop who ordained married priests without authorisation from Rome) and, of course, excommunication is meaningless for non-Catholics (you can’t be kicked out of a club you’re not a member of). IIRC, host desecration incurs a latae sententiae excommunication ?reserved to the Holy See? (i.e. automatic excommunication that only the Pope can forgive). As I understand it, it’s virtually impossible not to be latae sententiae excommunicated as a Catholic because if you even think that some parts of Dogma are false, you incur a latae sententiae excommunication, so anyone who, for example, ever even thought ?Hmm… maybe Mary had children after Jesus was born? is automatically excommunicated for the thought-crime of doubting the Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.

  337. #338 don kane
    January 16, 2009

    I wonder if you decide to join the Catholic Club, you get to meet the Pope himself?
    Or does he just do all this deexcommication stuff thru e-mail?
    Bet he would make you do a blog for ID for your penance…

  338. #339 Libbie
    January 16, 2009

    P.Z., how could you?! Jesus already had to deal with the rusty nails once. You really pissed him off this time.

  339. #340 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    Do you think they hide porn mags and beer in the club house?

    I know when we were kids, we did had those stashed in our club house.

  340. #341 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 16, 2009

    If I get myself excommunicated, would that give me an official excuse to not go to Mass when visiting my parent?

    “Sorry, mom. The Pope says I can’t go to church with you. Here’s my note.”

  341. #342 Vox Diabolica
    January 16, 2009

    Wait… So an atheist defiles an object believed by a faith to be – in substance – their god, and he asks why this isn’t worse than genocide?

    And then a bunch of people spout off ignorantly about something they don’t understand (you know, like creationists do about biology)?

    Another day in the life of atheists on the internet.

    You guys make it really hard for me to open up to others about being an atheist. ‘Yes, I’m an atheist. No, I’m not an ignorant jerk.’

  342. #343 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    When visiting my parent

    Virgin birth Bunny? Let me guess,long story….

  343. #344 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    I know when we were kids, we did had those stashed in our club house.

    did had?

    me fail english? That’s unpossible

  344. #345 Walton
    January 16, 2009

    which gods are you agnostic about? Because they’re all pretty different, you know? All the gods you’re not “agnostic” about, you’re either a believer or an atheist about. The christian god? Are you prepared to say you’re agnostic about Zeus? Thor? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    I am agnostic about the existence of Allah, Zeus, Thor, fairies, leprechauns, extraterrestrial life, and most other such beings and phenomena. There are plenty of recorded claims of encounters with said supernatural entities; their existence has never been substantiated to any degree of certainty, but, of course, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In the absence of compelling evidence either way, the only rational position is to be agnostic.

    I am atheist as to the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because, to the best of my knowledge (and I could be wrong), no one has ever made a genuine claim of a supernatural encounter with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. There is therefore no reason to acknowledge the possibility of its existence. If five people come forward tomorrow and claim that they witnessed a manifestation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster on, say, East Grinstead High Street, then, in the absence of compelling evidence that they are (a) lying, (b) on drugs or (c) insane, I will gladly call myself agnostic as to the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Agnosticism ought to be the default position. I don’t have to discharge a burden of proof in order to justify being an agnostic. Where there is insufficient evidence to determine the truth or falsehood of a claim on the balance of probabilities (i.e. to the standard of proof used in civil courts), the default position is to admit that we don’t know whether or not it is true.

  345. #346 Vox Diabolica
    January 16, 2009

    Actually, that is the worst part about this post and the comments to it. You guys actively make it more difficult for atheists like me to open up, just like the crazy feminazis make it more difficult for feminists to be open about their beliefs.

  346. #347 Cafeeine
    January 16, 2009

    #342

    it is the absurdity of the statement that is noted. Just because they are consistent in their absurdity is no reason to avoid mentioning each nonsensical manifestation of it.

  347. #348 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    Vox Diabolica #342 wrote:

    Wait… So an atheist defiles an object believed by a faith to be – in substance – their god, and he asks why this isn’t worse than genocide?

    (I think you meant to write that we ask why the act of desecration is considered worse than genocide, so I’ll answer that.)

    The appeal we make to the theists in this case, is to their latent sense that “faith beliefs” should never be considered stronger, and better established, than beliefs based in the common ground of reason and the world. Most Catholics, Christians, and theists of other religions accept this principle virtually all the time, making special exception in special cases more or less based on whim. They do not honor people in other religions — or “extremists” in their own religion — who kill in the name of God, or who would save a book over a child in a fire. Not really.

    We ask for consistency — which is one of their own values.

  348. #349 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    Actually, that is the worst part about this post and the comments to it. You guys actively make it more difficult for atheists like me to open up, just like the crazy feminazis make it more difficult for feminists to be open about their beliefs.

    Yeah we should all just keep our mouths shut and be good little nice atheists.

    feminazis huh?

    Ok Rush.

  349. #350 Vox Diabolica
    January 16, 2009

    #347 – How is it absurd to think that ‘God > Men’?

    And then instead of making a reasonable and rational point, Myers babbles incoherently and grandstands. So he furthers the public perception that atheists are loudmouthed morons more interested in spectacle than substance.

    Thanks, PZ! You’re a real hero! Thanks for making it even harder for people to express their views when Christian nutjobs are trying to sneak their homebaked theology into local public policy. You’re tops!

  350. #351 AJ Milne
    January 16, 2009

    I think you meant to write that we ask why the act of desecration is considered worse than genocide…

    Well, y’know, maybe, to be fair, we just haven’t given the Vatican a fair shot at this…

    No, no. Bear with me… Maybe it’s just about a failure of communication. Memos they didn’t get, see?

    So I figure maybe I could just send ‘em a little helping hand. Y’know… a pamphlet. Short guide. Could use some visual aids. Might look a bit like this:

    Cracker

    Genocide.

    (Please take notes. There’s a quiz later.)

  351. #352 Geek
    January 16, 2009

    Vox Diabolica #342

    And then a bunch of people spout off ignorantly about something they don’t understand (you know, like creationists do about biology)?

    OK then, if we’re ignorant, make a contribution that fills the gaps in our knowledge.

    ‘Yes, I’m an atheist. No, I’m not an ignorant jerk.’

    So you’re spouting off, calling us jerks. Stop the hypocritical concern-trolling and raise the intellectual bar then. To start with:

    So an atheist defiles an object believed by a faith to be – in substance – their god, and he asks why this isn’t worse than genocide?

    Don’t you think it’s objectionable that a widespread belief makes people – so obviously, in your opinion – value treatment of a cracker above human welfare?

  352. #353 Vox Diabolica
    January 16, 2009

    Re: #348

    >(I think you meant to write that we ask why the act of desecration is considered worse than genocide, so I’ll answer that.)< Yeah, sorry. I did a cruddy job of editing that at 1 am.

    >The appeal we make to the theists in this case, is to their latent sense that “faith beliefs” should never be considered stronger, and better established, than beliefs based in the common ground of reason and the world.<

    Well… no. Their faith beliefs are always going to underpin their ‘beliefs based in the common ground of reason and the world’. It’s why they’re never going to condone homosexuality and the like.

    You’re assuming that the secular ground is the ‘common’ ground, but there’s no reason to believe it.

  353. #354 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    Gee,oh lord,let me have some feminazis…..

  354. #355 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    Walton #345 wrote:

    Agnosticism ought to be the default position. I don’t have to discharge a burden of proof in order to justify being an agnostic. Where there is insufficient evidence to determine the truth or falsehood of a claim on the balance of probabilities (i.e. to the standard of proof used in civil courts), the default position is to admit that we don’t know whether or not it is true.

    While you’re technically correct, the devil is in the details: what is “sufficient evidence,” and how high a standard are we using to “determine truth or falsehood?” A solipsist can and does argue that all the evidence of one’s own senses, and all the intersubjective agreement among the senses of other people, is not enough to establish the existence of the sun, the earth, or that there is any reality outside of your own thoughts. Again, technically correct — if the standard is absolute, 100% certainty.

    We generally don’t use that.

    The way I put it, is that I am both an agnostic and an atheist. I am an agnostic in epistemology: I do not claim to know, or be certain, that there is no God. But I am an atheist in belief: I do not believe there is, and have good and compelling reason to think there is not.

    So it could depend on the question. “Does God exist?” may require a different answer than “Do we have any good reason to think it does?”

  355. #356 SteveM
    January 16, 2009

    GoldArm32 @312:

    Finally – genocide is a form of killing. Killing is a mortal sin. Mortal sin means a direct unconfessionable road to hell. Ergo, genocide will also lead you to hell.

    You ignorant twit. Mortal sins are not “unconffessionable”. Mortal sins lead to hell if unconfessed. Unconfessed venal sins lead to purgatory. The whole point of this entire thread is the Catholic view that defiling a eucharist is more serious than genocide. Did you even read the article linked to?

    While priests and bishops can deal with confessions of sins as grave as murder or even genocide, the tribunal is reserved for crimes which are viewed by the Church as even more serious.

  356. #357 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    I call a Reverse Poe on Vox Diabolica. Such a supposedly open-minded “atheist” would know better than to be calling people ignorant insubstantially and with nothing to back him up whatsoever. Too much religious-y to me.

    And by the way, I will also call a Reverse Marx (Groucho) on the cathoholics. “Don’t wanna belong to a club that will have me for a member”. PZ, do you NOW want to be a catholic?

  357. #358 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    And then instead of making a reasonable and rational point, Myers babbles incoherently and grandstands.

    What an idiotic statement.

    Babbles incoherently? Show me where.

  358. #359 Vox Diabolica
    January 16, 2009

    Re: 349
    >Yeah we should all just keep our mouths shut and be good little nice atheists.< I didn't say that, but thanks for misrepresenting my point, just like the local creationists do.

    Re: 352
    >OK then, if we’re ignorant, make a contribution that fills the gaps in our knowledge.< Why? The comments in this thread already indicate that people are hostile towards anything that deviates from the groupthink. Why would somebody take the time to patiently educate you on things which you can Google yourself, when they know that all they're going to get is baldercrap and snark in response? See: http://community.livejournal.com/convert_me/1184417.html

    >Don’t you think it’s objectionable that a widespread belief makes people – so obviously, in your opinion – value treatment of a cracker above human welfare?<

    Way to misrepresent the point. Also, kudos on the ‘Go straight to Troll, do not pass Go’. It’s always easier to dismiss non-groupthink as trolling. Oh, wait. Complaining about being a troll is trollish behaviour as well, no doubt. Pfft.

  359. #360 CortxVortx
    January 16, 2009

    Re: #325

    whoops! Freudian sclit.

    “Freudian slut — slot — slit!”

    (Loved that movie)

  360. #361 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Walton #345

    So you will believe anything if you’re sincerely lied to? The default position for absurd claims ought not to be agnosticism, it at the most ought to be skepticism. And if the absurd claim is also malignant, sometimes it ought to be straight-up ridicule.

  361. #362 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    I call a Reverse Poe on Vox Diabolica

    Andyo,
    does that mean you think the guy is serious?
    Cant be….

  362. #363 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    And still, Vox “Reverse-Poe” Diabolica fails to explain what we’re ignorant about but successfully (in his/her mind) diverts the conversation into something he started – calling names insubstantially.

    Explain what exactly people here are ignorant about. About God? Catholicism? What?

    You’ll find that many here are even better cultured about particular religions than the most ardent followers of those religions.

  363. #364 SteveM
    January 16, 2009

    So he furthers the public perception that atheists are loudmouthed morons more interested in spectacle than substance.

    If you bothered to read anything about that whole incident you might understand that Myers “stunt” was a reaction to someone (Donohue) furthering the perception that Catholics are loud-mouth morons more concerned with the fate of a piece of unlevened bread than the lives of human beings. Unfortunately, it was all too successful in showing that it wasn’t just Donohue, but that Catholics really are loud-mouthed morons more concerned with the fate of a piece of unlevened bread than the lives of human beings. Far more loud-mouthed and moronic than any atheists actions protesting religion.

  364. #365 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    Vox Diabolica #350 wrote:

    Thanks, PZ! You’re a real hero! Thanks for making it even harder for people to express their views when Christian nutjobs are trying to sneak their homebaked theology into local public policy.

    You know, there is an interesting argument that this is wrong: the existence of “atheist extremists” actually makes it easier for atheists to express their views. When all people know about atheists is that they “reject God,” it is easy for them to demonize the entire group as extreme. However, once they hear a variety of voices from that group, the atheists who are more approachable, moderate, tactful, etc. are welcomed to the table as allies, as role models on what an atheist should be like.

    The worse the atheists on the fringe, the more concessions atheists get, as the Overton Window shifts to show the acceptable Middle Ground of discourse. Believe it or not, there are people here in the comments section (and elsewhere) who are far worse than PZ Myers. A few hours listening to their rants, and you’d be sighing with relief over the comparatively calm, rational understanding of the so-called New Atheists.

    Almost any position can fall into the Golden Middle. Something to consider.

  365. #366 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    @ Vox Diabolica #342

    So an atheist defiles an object believed by a faith to be – in substance – their god, and he asks why this isn’t worse than genocide?

    Ah, but the theists don’t really believe their god has been killed at all. Not even a little bit. Otherwise they would all have given up and gone home.

    Catholic #1: “So that PZ fellow really did kill our god?”

    Catholic #2: “Looks like it. The leadership certainly seems to be confirming it happened.”

    Catholic #3: “Right then, better pack away the hymn books, I suppose. No point in making any more confessions or saying any more prayers.”

  366. #367 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    I mean the guy’s a religious/”agnostic” trying to pass off as one of the nice “athiests”.

  367. #368 Carlie
    January 16, 2009

    Vox – Overton Window. Look it up, then think about it.

  368. #369 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    I didn’t say that, but thanks for misrepresenting my point, just like the local creationists do.

    Then for fuck’s sake make one that has some semblance to reality.

    Speaking out against idiocy and hypocrisy is something we need more of, not just being nice little atheists who never rock th boat.

  369. #370 E.V.
    January 16, 2009

    Vox Diabolica:

    Oh my, how you have convinced me of the errors of my ways.
    Since atheists are a united political front (hint; they’re not) we will do our best to adhere to your idea of what atheism is about, “Voice of the Devil”…not.
    What a moron. To address your argument, perhaps you should acquaint yourself with argumentum ad populum and the bandwagon fallacy. If you actually believe that being a “polite” atheist garners you any favor with believers, you’re as deluded as they are.

    You would be more at home over at Nisbet’s blog.
    -I wish you a cheery, “…and the horse you rode in on,” Devil Voice.

  370. #371 Carlie
    January 16, 2009

    Sorry, Sastra, you posted the same thing as I was writing. Didn’t mean to copy!

  371. #372 AJ Milne
    January 16, 2009

    “Voice of the Devil”…not. What a moron.

    Now, advocatus diaboli, that woulda been cool. Y’know… fit in with the whole crazy Catholic ritual theme. Here to point out that PZ Myers is not an ideal candidate for canonization, ‘n all…

    Or excommunication, whichever…

    I forget. Which one’s the honour, again?

  372. #373 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    Vox Diabolica #353 wrote:

    Their faith beliefs are always going to underpin their ‘beliefs based in the common ground of reason and the world’. It’s why they’re never going to condone homosexuality and the like.
    You’re assuming that the secular ground is the ‘common’ ground, but there’s no reason to believe it.

    There is every reason to believe it, because the theists believe it themselves. They recognize a common ground of the ‘material world.’ They recognize that their faith beliefs require leaps of hope that go beyond worldly evidence.

    They also recognize that it’s wrong to allow one’s hopes to go beyond the evidence. As I said, they understand this clearly when they examine and analyze other religious views.

    You’re right, of course, in that they special plead, and make an exception for their own religious beliefs, telling themselves that their faith “underpins” everything else — unlike the false faith beliefs of others, which lie on top of the shared reality.

    But the only way to persuade someone to change their mind, or consider softening their stance, is to show them that they’re wrong by their own standards. Reveal a conflict. Religious people are following irrational standards in religion — but they’re not stupid, or irrational, in general. They value consistency, they respect reason, and love the things of this world.

    That is our strength, as atheists. It’s our best weapon.

  373. #374 Steve
    January 16, 2009

    @ #71 So, are you getting extradited to the Vatican? Will they send the Swiss Guards to your campus to arrest you? Good grief, what’s next for those folks?

    Perhaps a hostage swap, PZ for a few of those American RC paedophile priests laying low in the Vatican ?

  374. #375 Tulse
    January 16, 2009

    I still make sure to do is always respect someone’s belief, unless that particular belief infringes on your rights

    No one would give a damn about crackers if the religious weren’t outlawing abortion and gay marriage and the teaching of evolution and the distribution of condoms in Africa to prevent AIDS and…

    When they form the basis of public policy, religious beliefs do infringe on my rights.

  375. #376 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    CortxVortx #360

    “Freudian slut — slot — slit!”

    (Loved that movie)

    I didn’t know what movie you were referring to, but I knew it had to be Woody Allen or Monty Python. Now I have to see that movie.

    By the way, don’t know why but I had to check twice your name after typing it in order not to Freudianize it. It just sounds dirty.

  376. #377 KnockGoats
    January 16, 2009

    On the subject of Piltdown Man’s chosen moniker:

    1) Maybe that’s his real name, just as KnockGoats is mine.
    2) I wonder if it’s an oblique reference to the infamously liberal Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who is widely suspected of participating in the hoax?

  377. #378 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    I still make sure to do is always respect someone’s belief, unless that particular belief infringes on your rights.

    There’s another issue at stake here: does truth matter? If someone believes something that someone else thinks is mistaken, is it automatically rude, crude, and mean-spirited to disagree? Or does the truth have its own claim to virtue, that sometimes trumps harmony?

    It’s so easy to be misunderstood, when it comes to talking about what it means to “respect” other people. That can mean so many different things. But I think that there’s a tendency to give religious views an automatic pass on reasonable criticism and disagreement, so that any atheist arguing against religious beliefs or institutions on any grounds is seen as making an unprovoked “attack” on what should be cherished and protected as an inviolable part of identity, like one’s race, or love for one’s mother.

    Religious beliefs are so serious and important, that outsiders should not consider them as beliefs, take them seriously, or act like it’s important.

  378. #379 CalGeorge
    January 16, 2009

    To kneel or not to kneel when receiving the Eucharist?

    On the Feast of Corpus Christi, a number of Catholic commentators took note that those who approached Pope Benedict XVI to receive Holy Communion knelt and received the Host on the tongue. In fact, a kneeler had been set up at the point of distribution to make it clear that the faithful were to receive Communion kneeling.

    [...]

    I really think so. . . . The method adopted by Benedict XVI tends to underscore the force of the norm valid for the whole Church. In addition, one could perhaps also note a preference for using this method of distribution which, without taking anything from the other, better sheds light on the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, it helps the the devotion of the faithful, introduces them more easily to a sense of mystery. Aspects which, in our time, speaking pastorally, it is urgent to highlight and recover.

    These people are crazy.

  379. #380 Mytho
    January 16, 2009

    I… I have no words… well, maybe:

    Penitenciagite!

  380. #381 KnockGoats
    January 16, 2009

    The Pope takes communion, so if you were able to assassinate him by poisoning his cracker, this would surely entitle you to a double excommunication! Or does excommunication squared equal canonisation?

  381. #382 Dave2
    January 16, 2009

    SEF wrote (#332):

    But Thomas Aquinas is infamously dishonest in his argumentation and just plain factually wrong too. Eg masturbation exists in nature other than among humans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sexuality

    Dishonesty? Factual error? You are using a conception of ‘natural’/'against nature’ pretty different from the Aristotelian one Aquinas is using.

  382. #383 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    Glen Davidson got the point in one of the first posts.

    Genocide is an offense against your fellow men; blasphemy is an offense against God.

    Working with the premise that God exists, the relative importance ascribed makes some sense. The problem (as usual) is the reasoning that leads to allowing that premise to be taken as an inference, or the taking of that premise directly on Faith.

    If God doesn’t exist, there’s no possibility of offenses against God; there’s merely the possibility of offenses against your fellowmen’s concept of God, which is a form of offense against your fellow man. While committing an offense against your fellow man is usually a “bad” thing, it may be more moral and ethical than alternative courses under some environmental conditions.

    That said, I think the crud-on-the-cracker may not have been a “good” thing to do, based on my (semi-interested layman’s) understanding of neurology. Among those who think about the world from the stance of both Religion and Science, the method of the act and (predicted and observed) sound-and-fury associated with the action appear more likely to primarily trigger association, activation, and response from cognitive structures of Religion rather than of Science. Activiation and use of congnitive structures seems to strengthen such structures. The cracker incident energized the fanatics on both sides, but the direct result of the incident in those most able to sway between stances was more likely to be driving them away from the stance that PZ would prefer they adopt.

    Adequate showmanship. Bad tactics.

    Almost GOP-grade Bad, in fact.

  383. #384 kamaka
    January 16, 2009

    Agnosticism ought to be the default position. I don’t have to discharge a burden of proof in order to justify being an agnostic. Where there is insufficient evidence to determine the truth or falsehood of a claim on the balance of probabilities (i.e. to the standard of proof used in civil courts), the default position is to admit that we don’t know whether or not it is true.

    Atheism is the default position.

    There is not one shred of evidence for the existence of any god, godlike being, miracles or anything else supernatural. And count on it, much effort has been put into proving the existence of such nonsense.

    God is a bronze-age superstitious hand-me-down, invented by witchdoctors who knew the Earth was flat and the night sky was a bowl with holes in it.

    The very idea of god is preposterous. Heaven, hell and the soul are ridiculous concepts. “Belief” in such foolishness makes you… a fool.

    Agnosticism is a steaming pantload of cowardly equivocation.

  384. #385 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Re: #383,

    I vote that from now on, by “cracker” we mean Bill Donohue and/or the people who tried to throw Webster Cook off. Just to avoid further misunderstanding of what “cracker” is the one who really started these shenanigans.

  385. #386 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    Way past my bedtime,however this

    Agnosticism is a steaming pantload of cowardly equivocation.

    deserves a cheering YAY !! I couldnt agree more….

  386. #387 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Yeah, babies are atheists. They’re also a-relativists, a-evolutionists, a-unicornists and a-santaclausists. A-everything is the default position. From then on, we should be working on what there’s evidence of. If there’s a way it rationally “ought” to be, that’s it.

  387. #388 marilove
    January 16, 2009

    #347 – How is it absurd to think that ‘God > Men’?

    It is beyond absurd to think that a non-existent being is “bigger/better/more important” than man. Period.

    And then instead of making a reasonable and rational point, Myers babbles incoherently and grandstands. So he furthers the public perception that atheists are loudmouthed morons more interested in spectacle than substance.

    You found it incoherent? Really? I understood what he said perfectly. Perhaps I just know how to comprehend the written word….

    The comments in this thread already indicate that people are hostile towards anything that deviates from the groupthink.

    That’s some awesome irony, there, considering we’re talkinga bout religion, which loves to be hostile toward anyoe that deviates from their groupthink.

    We’re speaking out AGAINST groupthink, you idiot.

  388. #389 marilove
    January 16, 2009

    My typing skillz suck today.

  389. #390 Pierce R. Butler
    January 16, 2009

    …murder and genocide, while truly horrible crimes, can be handled by lower members of the hierarchy.

    So now we know why church bells rang in memorial across Germany and Austria in early May of 1945, and why that venial sinner Adolf H remains to this day held within the loving bosom of his Holy Mother Church. Assiduous research has confirmed that none of the German artillery shells and bombs dropped around Europe ever harmed a single holy cracker.

  390. #391 E.V.
    January 16, 2009

    abb3w@383:
    Hmmm. Bad conjecture. Almost GOP-grade Bad, in fact. But thanks for your 2 cents worth, anyway.

  391. #392 OctoberMermaid
    January 16, 2009

    “Assiduous research has confirmed that none of the German artillery shells and bombs dropped around Europe ever harmed a single holy cracker.”

    I wonder if anyone’s ever actually used that as evidence of the eucharist being magical. That would be hilarious. I mean, how would they know if a cracker survived a bombing? It’s not like part of the cracker would survive.

    That’s just stupid.

  392. #393 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    Agnosticism is a steaming pantload of cowardly equivocation.

    Indeed. And they don’t really believe it themselves anyway. They’re functionally atheistic.

    The question of the existence or non-existence of a caring, wish-answering god (or several) would have to be a serious contender for the most important thing in the world to establish (unlike whether or not there are disinterested gods whose affairs are irrelevant, eg the original Buddhist view). Yet the self-styled agnostics (of the modern meaning of that*) don’t go around trying to do experiments to work out which gods might be real and what their properties are. They don’t attend every type of religious ceremony in the world in case one of those might be the right sort of magic.

    In reality, they act exactly as though the question were already essentially settled – in favour of there being no gods at all (or none worth bothering about). Agnostics are merely hypocritical, cowardly atheists who don’t want the social stigma (and sometimes serious threat to life, limb or livelihood – from various theists rather than any gods!) associated with being known to be atheists.

    * NB The original agnostics firmly believed in the existence of god but also believed god’s properties / nature to be unknowable.

  393. #394 TJ
    January 16, 2009

    Aside from the logical views associated with the reality or unreality of the faith, there’s something really weird about the reporter’s assertion:

    How can a person that is NOT a Catholic, or Christian, be “excommunicated”? And if they get absolution/forgiven by the Pope, what does that mean?

    Seems like getting kicked out of club you were never part of then getting readmitted without actually being readmitted since you don’t join.

    In other words, it sounds superficially impressive, but when viewed from within that “club’s” statutory system it seems uttlerly meaningless & pointless.

  394. #395 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 16, 2009

    My typing skillz suck today.

    pfffft my typing skills suck everyday

  395. #396 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    SEF #393 wrote:

    Agnostics are merely hypocritical, cowardly atheists who don’t want the social stigma (and sometimes serious threat to life, limb or livelihood – from various theists rather than any gods!) associated with being known to be atheists.

    Not necessarily. Many of the people I know who call themselves agnostics are simply very cautious and precise in how they analyze and evaluate things, and how they use terms.

    There is also a cultural connotation with the word “atheist” which implies open hostility towards religion and the religious. Some agnostics think that’s part of the definition or meaning of atheism. Those are the ones who are not particularly cautious and precise, but do tend towards the easy-going.

  396. #397 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Me, on the other hand, the self-described agnostics I know are just a bunch of Pascal’s Wagerers (I think I said that above). They even are functionally more like theists than atheists. I’m sure they secretly pray, only less openly than theists.

  397. #398 Walton
    January 16, 2009

    Sastra at #355:

    While you’re technically correct, the devil is in the details: what is “sufficient evidence,” and how high a standard are we using to “determine truth or falsehood?” A solipsist can and does argue that all the evidence of one’s own senses, and all the intersubjective agreement among the senses of other people, is not enough to establish the existence of the sun, the earth, or that there is any reality outside of your own thoughts. Again, technically correct — if the standard is absolute, 100% certainty.

    We generally don’t use that.

    Yes, I know. “Absolute, 100% certainty” is rather rare in the real world, except in mathematics. Which is why I think the methodology of law is quite helpful here.

    Trial courts have to make findings of fact, based on the admissible evidence presented to them. In the vast majority of cases, they cannot be “100% certain” of the true facts. So they apply two different standards of proof. In criminal law, the standard of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt”; in civil law, it is “on a balance of probabilities”.

    I think the same epistemic methods can be applied to religious questions; if we apply the civil standard of proof, rather than the more rigorous criminal standard of proof, we begin to get some answers. On a balance of probabilities, does the Flying Spaghetti Monster exist? Examining the evidence, I think we’d have to say no. We can’t rule out the possibility of his existence. But there isn’t any evidence whatsoever, circumstantial or otherwise, in its favour.

    But if we ask “on a balance of probabilities, does the Judeo-Christian God exist?” we are faced with a much less conclusive answer. There’s extensive hearsay evidence and possibly unreliable witness testimony (the Gospels); but there’s no astonishingly persuasive evidence. Thus, the essential question is where we place the burden of proof. In arguing that God exists, am I the plaintiff or the defendant? Do I have to prove to you, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God exists? Or do you have to prove to me, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God doesn’t exist? I don’t think either of us can, given the current state of evidence, discharge that burden of proof.

    And the question of which side we place the onus of proof is, of course, a purely arbitrary choice. Which is why the only rational, open-minded choice is to choose neither, and admit that the Christian God – and Allah, and Thor, and Zeus, and Ahura Mazda – may or may not exist. Hence, agnosticism.

  398. #399 FSMdude
    January 16, 2009

    Oh man, I’m going to enjoy myself so much when I’ll get myself excommunicated with my 47 videos of eucharist desecrations!

  399. #400 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    @ Sastra #396:

    I doubt your view of them. If they were genuinely very precise, they’d be wary of the term agnostic. If they were honest, they’d admit they don’t really act even in the modern sense of it but exactly like atheists in all but name. They’re really only agnostic atheists like the rest of us who habitually drop the superfluous agnostic prefix because it’s effectively a given (ie bearing in mind there are approximately zero people claiming to be atheists in the face of credible evidence for some gods or other – there being no such evidence!).

    That “cultural connotation” is the social stigma to which I was referring. They’re being dishonest if they don’t acknowledge (on the briefest of reality/definitional checks) that they have a faulty view of what atheism is. And if they secretly do already know its proper definition, they’re being dishonest about choosing to drop the part of the double-name which best describes how they act in practice (ie atheistically). Note, for example, that I put Einstein in that strategically dishonest category – quite understandably given when and where he lived.

  400. #401 AJ Milne
    January 16, 2009

    Not necessarily. Many of the people I know who call themselves agnostics are simply very cautious and precise in how they analyze and evaluate things, and how they use terms.

    It’s probably already been said once or a million times, I expect, but I’ve occasionally commented I am technically agnostic, but then, so is everyone, in the sense that most people mean it, of simple logical necessity, and it’s really not that interesting an observation.

    … And also that I’m absolutely also an atheist (occasionally rather rudely and proudly so, where it’s warranted), quite confident that those who claim to know of gods are merely fooling themselves in various ways, and that this is no contradiction, either.

    Tho’ I’m not really offended by it, I find the former (agnostic) an incredibly redundant term, really. again, the way I generally see it used. Push ‘em hard enough, and most modern beliefs in deities seem deliberately to collapse toward being markedly poorly-defined and impossible to refute. It’s all they’ve got in the face of determined analysis and inquiry. So you wind up in terms of a rigourous epistemology saying, more or less, okay, I can’t technically prove your invisible, weightless, wordless, odourless, tasteless* effectless deity doesn’t exist–but then, there’s absolutely no evidence it does, either. So congratulations, you’ve managed to come up with a meaningless rhetorical construct that’s not only completely non-refutable, but probably deliberately so… And so what?

    And yeah, so what, seein’ as, if you’re going to point out one is technically unable to prove said believer is just full of it, you might also want to keep in mind there’s an infinite number of bizarre non-refutable claims any halfway creative moron can equally easily concoct which are equally carefully arranged to steer well clear of any evidence you’ll ever be able to apply. So I suppose I should also point out I’m also technically agnostic with respect to the invisible, weightless, odourless magical dragon the ranting homeless guy downtown says is following him around. I mean, it’s invisible, weightless, odourless… It winds up in the same category as the god, really. I can’t formally prove it doesn’t exist, but so what? Again: any moron can come up with such a construct. It’s hardly an achievement, and says nothing about the probability it exists, or even, for that matter, the degree to which I’m going to bother investigating that probability.

    And none of this prevents my pointing out the utter lack of decent evidence, along with this peculiar property of non-refutability said believers seem deliberately to have constructed–and then offering any number of explanations of religious activity in terms of human behaviours we understand perfectly well and without benefit of appealing to magical men in the sky whispering in people’s ears–none of this prevents my doing all this and then saying: I am nonetheless really quite confident the believers we are discussing here are entirely full of it about both the god and the dragon. They may point out that I cannot precisely prove they’re full of it, but again, this really isn’t that remarkable a property when they’ve pretty much deliberately arranged for it, is it?

    And this, of course, is what an atheist is: one who thinks there are no gods. And so, that’s me.

    This is one of the things I think people regularly misunderstand about atheism, precisely because of their failing to grasp its essential inequality with religion: it is not a faith, absolutely held. It is a conclusion drawn from the balance of evidence. It is, like most of those, drawn absent precisely final evidence, but this, too, is hardly a remarkable property, either. Most of what we conclude about our world–however confidently–falls into this category. Conclusions for which evidence is genuinely, rigorously final only occur in fully-defined and self-referential systems like those generally found in mathematics.

    So sure, if you’re anal enough about it, you can absolutely call yourself an agnostic in that sense, and an atheist, too (and, when I’m feeling that picky, sure, I will). But like I said: saying the former really isn’t that interesting to me, so you’re not going to hear it much from me. Insofar as it quite goes without saying anyway.

    (*In both senses, really… I mean, have you seen the hats the guy seems to be into? Holy kitsch, Batman.)

  401. #402 SEF
    January 16, 2009

    # Andyo @397:

    There might conceivably be some of those fake agnostics too, eg in communist terrorities where the prevailing ideology inflicts considerable social disadvantage on theists (or perhaps where a dominant religion will permit professed agnosticism but not any rivalry). There are unlikely to be many of them in the US though, even among scientists – because they know full well they wouldn’t really get expelled from scientific establishments for having home-time in which they indulge their irrational superstitious side.

  402. #403 pough
    January 16, 2009

    I can’t even begin to imagine how many emails you get, so I’m surprised to see my little Palpatinification of the Pope image up at all, let alone so soon. Glad you liked it. His stance was just begging to be satirized. If you’re going to posture like you’re casting spells, expect the spells to be Photoshopped in by bored people. I can haz liteneen?

  403. #404 robinsrule
    January 16, 2009

    Hey is this a blog about science, or is it just a front for being antiCatholic.

    There’s a difference?

  404. #405 Guy Incognito
    January 16, 2009

    @398: Are you also agnostic about Mormon-god? Xenu-god? The gods of Hinduism? Ancient Egypt? If not, why? This has always been my problem with agnostics: they’re only ever agnostic about the local flavor of god.

  405. #406 Guy Incognito
    January 16, 2009

    I should say “some” agnostics, though in my personal experience, “all” is accurate.

  406. #407 sdfd
    January 16, 2009

    The first time I put communion in my mouth I spit it out lol

  407. #408 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    Walton #398 wrote:

    But if we ask “on a balance of probabilities, does the Judeo-Christian God exist?” we are faced with a much less conclusive answer.

    Here I think is a point where we start to disagree. Sure, it’s less conclusive than the nonexistence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — but it’s still the more reasonable conclusion.

    For one thing, coming from a background in the skeptic organizations — where we examine claims for alien abductions, miraculous healings, paranormal abilities, Big Foot sightings, etc. — I am much more cynical about the value of “eyewitness testimony,” and much more aware of the many ways that normal, ordinary human beings can successfully fool themselves, both throughout history, and today. In those forums, you’re forced to become cognizant of the innate human tendency to find patterns that aren’t there, ascribe meaning to meaningless events, seek explanations in magical terms, and anthropomorphise anything more complex than a rock (or, in some cases of animism, actual rocks.) I do it, you do it, we all do it. We have to be careful.

    There are also conflicts with science. I don’t mean evolution: I mean neurology. God is always, in some sense, a sort of disembodied mind, or mind-like force (of Love, or Goodness, or Creativity, etc.) Dualistic thinking comes to us naturally: we had to learn about mind/brain dependence the hard way, through work — and it still doesn’t feel “right.” But if dualism falls, there goes the value behind God feeling “right.”

    I will also point out that it’s not simply a case where the hypothesis that God exists isn’t well supported. There’s also the fact that the alternative hypotheses — that Naturalism is true, and religions and religious ways of thinking are derived from human nature and culture — are very well supported.

    In arguing that God exists, am I the plaintiff or the defendant? Do I have to prove to you, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God exists? Or do you have to prove to me, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God doesn’t exist? I don’t think either of us can, given the current state of evidence, discharge that burden of proof.

    In religious debate on the existence of God, the burden of proof is always on the person who claims that God exists. So it’s you ;)

    Why? In part, because what we can call base-naturalism is accepted by both sides. There’s already agreement that there is a natural world which we can see and measure; that science is a valid means of understanding it, and so forth. The person who has the extra claim therefore has burden of proof.

    The other problem is that, in this argument, only one side can provide evidence: theism. Most atheists could readily start to read off a list of things that would either persuade them that there really is a supernatural component of reality, or that there is good reason to think so. They can tell you how they can be shown to be wrong.

    But most theists cannot do the same thing. Virtually any event or finding can be “harmonized” with the existence of some form of God. Therefore, you can’t put the burden of proof on the atheists — and then say that nothing they could do would ever be good enough to shake your conviction that you’re right. In every debate, each side must agree that not only might they be wrong, but they’re capable of being shown they’re wrong … or else it’s not an honest debate.

  408. #409 Sastra
    January 16, 2009

    SEF #400 wrote:

    I doubt your view of them. If they were genuinely very precise, they’d be wary of the term agnostic.

    Both you and AJ Milne make the same excellent case for why agnostic = atheism, and it’s one I agree with. I went from being a self-proclaimed agnostic, to describing myself as an atheist, when I really started reading definitions and considering implications in doubt/certainty. So I think you’re right.

    But I think that it’s very hard to get clear, hard agreement when it comes to semantic debates. And that makes it very hard to make clear, precise statements on Who the Agnostics Really Are, and What the Agnostics are Really Doing. Terms and their connotations can be sloppy, and people can get emotionally attached to labels for reasons that go all over the board. Cowardice and dishonesty are sometimes the motive. But there are a lot of other possibilities. It may come down, in the end, to being a matter of taste.

    Atheist vs. Agnostic is not the only semantic fight out there. There’s also freethinker vs. Brights vs. Naturalist vs. Humanist — and the proper definition of “religion,” and whether humanism is one. I have an atheist friend who points out that Christians generally agree on their terminology, but disagree heatedly on their beliefs: freethinkers more or less agree on what they believe, but disagree heatedly on the words.

    So I do take a stand on terms. I’m not saying it’s not important, especially for promoting atheism as a legitimate public viewpoint. But I’ve seen far too many nasty fights between people who pretty much agree on everything but vocabulary, to be able to blithely distinguish between which side is being “honest and true,” and which side is cravenly sucking up to the enemy. I only think the other side is mistaken.

  409. #410 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    E.V.: Hmmm. Bad conjecture.

    Since it describes particular evidence, I think that makes the remark an (untested) hypothesis, not merely a conjecure. The description I provide appears better than the absolute null hypothesis expression of the data. To call a hypothesis “bad”, you should be able to show how the description is incorrect, or give an alternative hypothesis which describes the same (and possibly additional) evidence better.

    Please clarify by providing this.

  410. #411 kamaka
    January 16, 2009

    Agnosticism is a tactic to avoid facing up to this harsh fact of cold, hard reality:

    When you die, you’re dead. No soul, no next life, no hanging with Grandma.

    Dead and gone.

  411. #412 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    Walton: Thus, the essential question is where we place the burden of proof. In arguing that God exists, am I the plaintiff or the defendant? Do I have to prove to you, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God exists? Or do you have to prove to me, on a balance of probabilities, that the Christian God doesn’t exist? I don’t think either of us can, given the current state of evidence, discharge that burden of proof.

    Assuming logical inference, joint affirmation on ZF, and that Reality and Evidence are (with RE-complexity or lower) Relatable, burden of proof ALWAYS falls first on anyone who asserts existence of anything beyond the bare evidence itself, due to the requirement of Minimum Description Length Induction; see (doi:10.1109/18.825807).

    Absent the assumptions, there seems no basis for relating Evidence to Reality. You end stuck with Hume’s problem of induction, unable to prove whether your skull houses brains or cauliflower.

  412. #413 konquererz
    January 16, 2009

    Wow. I’m sure the man who drove a nail through a cracker and said god is not great and Jesus is not lord is devastated by this pronouncement. The pope is a loon.

  413. #414 abb3w
    January 16, 2009

    kamaka: Agnosticism is a tactic to avoid facing up to this harsh fact of cold, hard reality: When you die, you’re dead. [...] Dead and gone.

    Dead, yes. Gone? That depends on where you put your definition of “you”. =)

    Using a definition which allows for resolving the Riddle of the Ship Of Theseus, no, “you” (especially the interesting parts that make you “you”) are not entirely “gone”… even without positing a soul.

  414. #415 E.V.
    January 16, 2009

    @410

    Please clarify by providing this.

    You wrote:

    . The cracker incident energized the fanatics on both sides, but the direct result of the incident in those most able to sway between stances was more likely to be driving them away from the stance that PZ would prefer they adopt.

    Wanna provide any evidence of that beyond mere speculation?
    I simply used your snarky “GOP bad” remark in an ironic fashion. It was a (semi)good natured poke at you for adopting a tone that borders between schoolmarm and scold.

  415. #416 ehskeh
    January 16, 2009

    it really doesn’t matter, believers and non believers are still responsible for everything that has happened, there’s a difference between respectful believers and disrespectful ones in viceversa it’s the same for atheism and any other religion.

  416. #417 Piltdown Man
    January 16, 2009

    KnockGoats @377:

    On the subject of Piltdown Man’s chosen moniker … I wonder if it’s an oblique reference to the infamously liberal Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who is widely suspected of participating in the hoax?

    Bingo!

    Dr Goats wins a free prayer for his immortal soul.

  417. #418 Piltdown Man
    January 16, 2009

    FSMdude @399:

    Oh man, I’m going to enjoy myself so much when I’ll get myself excommunicated with my 47 videos of eucharist desecrations!

    Were you bullied at school?

  418. #419 Lowell
    January 16, 2009

    There’s extensive hearsay evidence and possibly unreliable witness testimony (the Gospels)

    Walton, if you’re going to apply legal standards of proof in this hypothetical trial on the existence of God, you should also apply legal rules of evidence.

    So, I’ll ask: How are you going to get those hearsay statements into evidence? Why should the trier of fact be allowed to consider them at all?

    I believe you’ve said in the past you’re in the U.K., so feel free to use whatever rules of evidence apply in your jurisdiction.

  419. #420 kamaka
    January 16, 2009

    Really, there’s nothing to debate.

    Many people have held on to an irrational set of “beliefs” for a really long time, and you can’t prove they’re wrong.

    That’s the very best the godders can come up with.

    And the question of which side we place the onus of proof is, of course, a purely arbitrary choice. Which is why the only rational, open-minded choice is to choose neither, and admit that the Christian God – and Allah, and Thor, and Zeus, and Ahura Mazda – may or may not exist. Hence, agnosticism.

    The only rational choice is to accept the evidence. God(s) and all ideas derived therefrom are a bunch of made-up shit that is undeserving of any benefit of doubt whatsoever.

  420. #421 Owlmirror
    January 16, 2009

    Assuming logical inference, joint affirmation on ZF, and that Reality and Evidence are (with RE-complexity or lower) Relatable, burden of proof ALWAYS falls first on anyone who asserts existence of anything beyond the bare evidence itself, due to the requirement of Minimum Description Length Induction; see (doi:10.1109/18.825807).

    Could you unpack this into basic English? Or if it exists in unpacked format, point to it?

    (I have a formal disagreement with your description of frackin’ crackergate, but today is too busy for me to unpack it. Maybe tomorrow.)

  421. #422 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 16, 2009

    Posted by: Piltdown Hoax | January 16, 2009

    Dr Goats wins a free prayer for his immortal soul.

    The Hoax is willing to do for free what no one was going to pay for. Color me impressed.

  422. #423 Kamaka
    January 16, 2009

    @ Janine, Leftist Bozo

    Oh, that is some funny shit. Though I did prefer the something-or-other-bitch about four names back.

  423. #424 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    Posted by: ehskeh | January 16, 2009 4:47 PM

    it really doesn’t matter, believers and non believers are still responsible for everything that has happened, there’s a difference between respectful believers and disrespectful ones in viceversa it’s the same for atheism and any other religion.

    Did you just try to imply there that atheism is a religion?

    Funny how people who do that (not that you did it, if you didn’t) NEVER seem to back up their claims. It’s like they believe it only in good faith.

    By the way, how can you not be disrespectful if the ones making up utterly arbitrary rules for respectfulness are always coming up with really stupid stuff, and more so, harass people who don’t follow it (Webster Cook, again WEBSTRE FREAKING COOK!).

    And another thing. For atheists, this was a big huge absurd comedy (fortunately Cook wasn’t punished as the catholics wished). For the religious, this apparently was ultimately worse that genocide. Now you tell me who’s being ridiculous.

  424. #425 Brian X
    January 16, 2009

    @398: Are you also agnostic about Mormon-god? Xenu-god? The gods of Hinduism? Ancient Egypt? If not, why? This has always been my problem with agnostics: they’re only ever agnostic about the local flavor of god.

    Guy, what is this even supposed to mean? Agnostic for one means moot for all — if you believe one god (or pantheon) unprovable, believing in another would mean you are not in fact agnostic, and disbelief in another is just par for the course.

  425. #426 Andyo
    January 16, 2009

    That was the point, that most “agnostics” aren’t really. They will happily be atheist about all those other “ridiculous” gods, but be “agnostic” about the one they were brought up with.

  426. #427 Feynmaniac
    January 16, 2009
    Assuming logical inference, joint affirmation on ZF, and that Reality and Evidence are (with RE-complexity or lower) Relatable, burden of proof ALWAYS falls first on anyone who asserts existence of anything beyond the bare evidence itself, due to the requirement of Minimum Description Length Induction; see (doi:10.1109/18.825807).

    Could you unpack this into basic English? Or if it exists in unpacked format, point to it?

    Let me give it a try…..

    Well, ZF stands for Zermelo Fraeknel set theory , which is just an axiomatic approach to sets. Since he didn’t say ZFC I assume abb3w is leaving out the axiom of choice. I think by assuming “joint affirmation on ZF” he means that you assume all the axioms of ZF and that ZF is self-consistent.

    Minimum Description Length Induction seems to be just a formal, information theoric version of Occam’s razor. By “simplest answer” it means the one with highest data compression.

    The article he cites is Minimum Description Length Induction,
    Bayesianism, and Kolmogorov Complexity
    ,

    Here we show that data compression is almost always the best
    strategy, both in model selection by using an ideal form of
    the minimum description length (ideal MDL) principle and in prediction of sequences.

    So, from what I gather, in plain English: if you make the reasonable assumptions abb3w listed then you get Occam’s razor ( i.e, Minimum Description Length Induction). From this then the burden of proof is always on those making an assertion of existence beyond the bare evidence itself.

    Whether the above is correct I don’t know. I was thinking of reading the paper cited, but realized even I’m not nerdy enough to read a highly technical information theoretic paper on a Friday night.

    abb3w, if I got any facts wrong or mischaracterized what you meant please let me know.

  427. #428 Guy Incognito
    January 16, 2009

    @425: I was trying to respond to the assertion made by some agnostics that theirs is the “correct” position because eyewitness testimony and claims of miracles are compelling enough that one can’t just dismiss belief. However, in my experience, agnostics don’t seem to have a problem with dismissing The Crazy Beliefs? like Mormonism or Scientology, even though those beliefs come complete with the same miracles and eyewitness testimony they find so compelling about more mainstream religions.

  428. #429 mythusmage
    January 16, 2009

    I find it interesting that some atheists are just as insistent on certain parties holding to certain ideations as some religious types.

  429. #430 Emmet Caulfield, OM
    January 16, 2009

    Just FYI, lest anyone pretend that the RCC isn’t still covering up child sexual abuse, here’s a 9min RealVideo stream from Prime Time, an Irish current affairs program, on 2009-01-06: http://dynamic.rte.ie/av/230-2470799.smil

  430. #431 clinteas
    January 16, 2009

    mythusmage riddled @ 429:

    I find it interesting that some atheists are just as insistent on certain parties holding to certain ideations as some religious types.

    Care to elaborate?

  431. #432 Scott
    January 16, 2009

    God is dead…AND he only ever lived in our minds. Time to leave fairy tales behind now humanity.

  432. #433 Patricia, OM
    January 17, 2009

    There is no immortal soul Pilty.

  433. #434 Patricia, OM
    January 17, 2009

    Emmet, you ignorant slut.
    Your link is a fail.

    Just like most of mine!
    Nah, nah, nah, nah nah!

  434. #435 Piltdown Man
    January 17, 2009

    Patricia @434:

    There is no immortal soul Pilty.

    Says you. I got a tribe of bronze age goat herders who say different.

  435. #436 D
    January 17, 2009

    You are all nuts,
    it is about hormons that they struggle, anyone of you ever heard of hormons, testosteron etc.

  436. #437 D
    January 17, 2009

    feromones as well, of course

  437. #438 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 17, 2009

    You guys actively make it more difficult for atheists like me to open up

    How is your cowardice our fault?

  438. #439 Nerd of Redhead
    January 17, 2009

    We must be Pilty’s favorite porn site. He keeps coming back for more.

  439. #440 abb3w
    January 17, 2009

    Feynmaniac: abb3w, if I got any facts wrong or mischaracterized what you meant please let me know.

    No, that’s pretty solid. A few minor details….

    1) The theorem is independent of Assertion or Refutation of the Axiom of Choice; thus, “ZF”.
    2) The version of Occam’s razor proved is (as to be expected of mathematics) stricter than the colloquial form. The measure of simple is over the method of description and over what’s needed to fill in the details under that method.
    “Goddiddit” is simple as descriptions go, but filling in isn’t. And, of course, since the expression is mathematical, I’m not sure how “Goddiddit” would be distinguishable from the “absolute null” hypothesis of “the following data were observed”.

  440. #441 abb3w
    January 17, 2009

    E.V. Wanna provide any evidence of that beyond mere speculation?

    I’ve only anecdotal. However, it would appear to be reasonable expectation, following as inference from the neurobiology I mentioned. Of course, I’m only a layman, and a mere computer geek by trade. If there’s a neurobiologist who can point out papers which show why that’s incorrect (or a formal survey, I’ll be cheerfully wrong.

    E.V. It was a (semi)good natured poke at you for adopting a tone that borders between schoolmarm and scold.

    Blame it on my not-so-inner pedant.

    I sincerely think (after extended consideration) Crackergate was not merely silly, but counterproductive to furthering rational behavior, which I (and I suspect most of those here I would like to convince) consider “bad”. Coming in and calling PZ a fool for doing it, however, would be similarly counterproductive. I thus made an effort to try and phrase my perception as an (almost) purely rational appeal.

    If you have a suggestion as to how I could have conveyed the same points so as to be more effective in getting those here to think about it, feel free to make stylistic suggestions. I’m crazy, not stupid; I might be able to learn something.

  441. #442 SEF
    January 17, 2009
    You guys actively make it more difficult for atheists like me to open up

    How is your cowardice our fault?

    And, more tellingly, what about all the years before “us”? Why too cowardly back then? Is he seriously claiming it was easier beforehand?! If so, that’s a major grasp-of-history failure. Rather like the people who like to blame eugenics on Darwin when, in reality (ie well-documented history), eugenics long pre-dated Darwin. Ditto the nazis, anti-semitism, violent cracker people etc etc.

  442. #443 Emmet Caulfield, OM
    January 17, 2009

    Patricia,

    Hmmm… it works for me if I open it with RealPlayer.

  443. #444 Jadehawk
    January 17, 2009

    what’s with the hatred for agnostics? I understand that a lot of people have a hard time understanding that one can feel wobbly on such a subject, but it’s really not (always)a cowardly position. I call myself an atheist now, but half the time I feel like I’m lying when I do, because I keep having doubts about it, at the gut level. Intellectually, I’m fully aware that none of the religions got it right, and therefore there’s little likelyhood of there being any gods, but there’s still that niggling feeling I can’t always shake, and in that sense it would feel more honest if I called myself an agnostic. But of course, technically, all agnostics are atheists, so I call myself an atheist and squelch all feelings of discomfort with that term. but not everyone can or should have to do that.

  444. #445 Andyo
    January 17, 2009

    Posted by: Emmet Caulfield, OM Author Profile Page | January 17, 2009 11:12 AM

    Patricia,

    Hmmm… it works for me if I open it with RealPlayer.

    I’m an arealplayerist. Talk about evil stuff…

  445. #446 Jadehawk
    January 17, 2009

    on a related note, I find it also difficult to really shake non-god-related superstitions (on a gut-level, that is); it took a loooooooong period of acculturation to the US culture before i stopped cringing at people wishing me a happy birthday ahead of time (German superstition: congratulating someone for their birthday ahead of their birthday means they won’t live to actually celebrate it), or wheneve people light their cigarettes on candles (another German superstition: doing that kills a sailor). of course I know it’s all bunk, but it still doesn’t feel right

  446. #447 Sastra
    January 17, 2009

    Jadehawk:

    Interesting. I’ve often wondered about the differences between atheists with different backgrounds: those who were raised without religion; those who were raised with religion but it never ‘took;’ those who were raised with religion and believed in a vague sort of way; those who were raised with religion and were fervent believers; and those who were raised without religion but became either vague believers or enthusiastic converts for a while — and any permutations I missed. How does the formative environment effect the way they’re ‘atheist’ (if such a question makes sense)?

    I was raised without religion, became a sort of vague believer, and now consider myself atheist-agnostic, preferring to identify as secular humanist, because it’s more explicit. Thinking about it, I really have no innate tendencies to feel as if there is a God. I doubt myself for intellectual reasons, in recognition that I could be wrong — but I evidently never acquired the habit of belief in God.

    What little residual I have from both my childhood and my “spiritual” years feels a lot like my tendency to feel as if inanimate objects are capable of thought or preference. I know better, and now frame it as whimsy. I once mentioned this to a New Age-y friend I have, and she told me that I should consider the possibility that part of me “recognized,” at some deep level, that all things were alive, because Consciousness permeates reality. I considered it, and said “no.”

  447. #448 Jadehawk
    January 17, 2009

    well, I grew up in a culturally catholic family. I have the suspicion that the lot of them fall at various points of the atheist-agnostic-deist scale, but religion doesn’t really come up much. I’m the only one in my family without a college degree (mom has a degree in physics and is an IT person now; dad has a degree in chemistry and is a journalist; grandparents were accountants and bureaucrats of various sorts; cousins and aunts are all degree holders, as well), and they’re all intellectually very curious, but both my mom an I have this weird propensity to not be able to shake superstitious gut-feelings.

    she’s a smoker, and she can’t light cigarettes on a candle, either. she’d rather go without than do it, even though she knows there’s nothing to it, she just can’t do it.

  448. #449 Andyo
    January 17, 2009

    I’ve found that the best way to get rid of superstitions that have been drilled to our skull our whole lives, is just confront them head-on. Think black magic is spooky? Get a witch to cast you an evil spell. It’s a similar experience as the people who did the blasphemy challenge had.

    I know a biologist friend who is fairly successful and very intelligent, but nevertheless she’s with the “you never know” crowd when, for instance, a shaman spills the guts of a poor live guinea pig to show them they’re black cause they’ve sucked in evil energies from something/someone he rubbed it against.

  449. #450 Jadehawk
    January 17, 2009

    Andyo: the point is that we already know it’s bullshit! the same goes for creepy coincidences. we’re fully aware they’re coincidences, but they’re still creepy

  450. #451 Silverwhistle
    January 17, 2009

    Well, that pretty well takes the biscuit, to make an entirely deliberate pun!

  451. #452 Andyo
    January 17, 2009

    Jadehawk, it’s about the theatrics of it all. You know you’re fooling yourself but that voice in the back of your head keeps bugging you. The quick, easy way to tell it to shut up is with these theatrics, that’s what I think. You’ll soon get used to it and forget about it.

    If you read the comments from the many people who did the blasphemy challenge, you’ll see that they felt liberated by doing that publicly thus unambiguously condemning themselves to hell, even though they already knew it was bullshit.

  452. #453 Andyo
    January 17, 2009

    By the way, it also works for silly, seemingly innocuous superstitions. Why would you go under a ladder if you just as easily avoid it? Why would you light a cigarette with a candle when you can just as easily avoid that? I say just do it on purpose, and sooner that you think you’ll completely forget about it.

  453. #454 Pierce R. Butler
    January 17, 2009

    Jadehawk @ # 446: …(German superstition: congratulating someone for their birthday ahead of their birthday means they won’t live to actually celebrate it), or wheneve people light their cigarettes on candles (another German superstition: doing that kills a sailor).

    I wish I had the resources to create a very short YouTube video of someone on a phone, wishing another someone a “Happy Birthday Tomorrow!” in German while lighting a cigarette from a birthday-cake candle, then blowing smoke rings at a framed photo of a German Navy-uniformed sailor. Would this send shock waves through your compatriots’ culture?

    Fun factoid: the superstition against lighting three cigarettes on one match does have a rational reason: back in the good ol’ days of trench warfare, that little move would give enough time and light to allow a sniper to get a good aim at the smokers’ position.

  454. #455 Josh
    January 17, 2009

    …that little move would give enough time and light to allow a sniper to get a good aim at the smokers’ position.

    Back in the day? Joes who are standing around smokin’ and jokin’ with their weapons at the low ready, or slung, are still a sniper’s wet dream.

  455. #456 John Donner
    January 18, 2009

    I think that it’s hilarious that all of you non-Catholics try to pretend that you understand what the Catholic Church is about. This is like the American public pretending like they understand the goings on in the Middle East. What is the insinuation here; that the writer has somehow stumbled across some newly-discovered disdain for humanity endorsed by the Catholic Church so the focus can be on the protection of a wafer of bread? What is the real expose in the piece? Of course there are going to be some ridiculously antiquated “official” Vatican policy written by a community of half-senile old men perpetuating the same old talk about the “holy” sacraments scrawled down on some parchment somewhere. The real question is, how much good does the Catholic Church do in the world, in pursuit of both scientific discovery and humanitarian justice compared to the supposed evil and misguidance of humanity of which they are alleged to be the cause. Name me one institution or entity that has the balls to stick up for the dignity of life, against abortion, against war, and with Pope Benedict, with so much respect for other religions in the world. All of you Catholic-bashers seem to be genuine in your emotions, but way off the mark in your rationale. Note that we Catholics have no declared enemy, not atheists, not conservatives or progressives, and we by far are the most open minded of all the religious paths out there, with very interesting debates both coming from the Church and within the Church itself.

  456. #457 Piltdown Man
    January 18, 2009

    John Donner:

    Of course there are going to be some ridiculously antiquated “official” Vatican policy written by a community of half-senile old men perpetuating the same old talk about the “holy” sacraments scrawled down on some parchment somewhere.

    John, do you believe that the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

  457. #458 John Morales
    January 18, 2009

    Piltdown, I note you too picked the salient paragraph.
    Back in the golden age of Catholicism, John Donner might well have ended up as a Döner kebab for such impiety.

    Ah well, O quam cito transit gloria mundi.

  458. #459 Wowbagger
    January 18, 2009

    John Donner, #256, wrote:

    I think that it’s hilarious that all of you non-Catholics try to pretend that you understand what the Catholic Church is about.

    Beyond the fact that it a) is a vast, parasitic, ultra-wealthy, multinational corporation producing nothing of value; b) controls people’s lives through claiming they have knowledge about how an all-powerful being (whose existence is unlikely at best) demands they should behave, and who threatens them with eternal punishment if they don’t obey; and c) facilitates child-rapists in continuing their abuse and helps them to avoid justice, I really don’t give a flying fuck what it’s about.

    Fact is, when it comes down to it you’re no different from voodoo, scientology or German neo-paganism – apart from the longevity of your particular brand of ooga-booga and the numbers of the foolish you claim as members.

    The real question is, how much good does the Catholic Church do in the world

    No, it’s not. It’s about whether your magic sky fairy is real or not, and whether those in who are in charge of the church are entitled to advise anybody on how to live their lives. People will do good, with or without any churches. And it’s certainly debatable as to whether the good the Catholic Church has done over the years outweighs the bad.

    and we by far are the most open minded of all the religious paths out there,

    I might even agree with you on this – but I can’t imagine there’s much value in being able to brag about how you’re slightly less deluded than all those other deluded people. It’s like someone who’s only lost 99% of their vision mocking all those ’100% losers’ out there.

    with very interesting debates both coming from the Church and within the Church itself.

    I’d love to hear exactly what these ‘interesting debates’ are. Do you mean the discussions about how to spend the many billions of dollars of profit the church makes each year on everything except what the alleged man-god you claim to worship supposedly told you to spend it on (i.e. the poor)?

    Or the debates about how best to protect the child-rapists from justice? Yeah, that sounds terribly interesting.

    Oh, that’s not what you meant? Silly me.

  459. #460 Piltdown Man
    January 18, 2009

    Wowbagger:

    The real question is, how much good does the Catholic Church do in the world

    No, it’s not. It’s about whether your magic sky fairy is real or not, and whether those in who are in charge of the church are entitled to advise anybody on how to live their lives.

    Exactly — all religions worthy of the name claim to be a true description of reality & they stand or fall by that.

  460. #461 'Tis Himself
    January 18, 2009

    Name me one institution or entity that has the balls to stick up for the dignity of life, against abortion, against war, and with Pope Benedict, with so much respect for other religions in the world.

    Is that the same Pope Benedict who said Protestants didn’t have “real churches” and “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”? That Pope Benedict?

    All of you Catholic-bashers seem to be genuine in your emotions, but way off the mark in your rationale. Note that we Catholics have no declared enemy, not atheists, not conservatives or progressives, and we by far are the most open minded of all the religious paths out there, with very interesting debates both coming from the Church and within the Church itself.

    I know one subject not being debated in the Catholic Church: Whether or not pedophile clergy should be reported to civil authorities. Your boy Benny Razi decided the answer was no and that if any bishop did that was grounds for excommunication. Sorry, John, but any organization with a policy of actively supporting and protecting child rape has lost any claim to moral leadership.

    Another subject not being debated is whether condoms protect against AIDS. Your church hierarchy, a group of professional virgins, has decided that LYING about condoms is official policy. But then those are the same professional virgins who insist that birth control should be forbidden to married laity. Every sperm is sacred.

  461. #462 Feynmaniac
    January 18, 2009

    Piltdown Man,

    Says you. I got a tribe of bronze age goat herders who say different.

    Hmmm, further evidence that Pilty is a Poe.

  462. #463 clinteas
    January 18, 2009

    Feyny,

    funny you should say that,I thought exactly the same when I read that last night !

  463. #464 Walton
    January 18, 2009

    Hmmm, further evidence that Pilty is a Poe.

    I don’t think the original Piltdown was, but I suspect that the posts on this thread were made by an impersonator. That would be my guess, if I had to put money on it.

  464. #465 Andyo
    January 18, 2009

    Posted by: John Donner | January 18, 2009 2:29 AM

    I think that it’s hilarious that all of you non-Catholics try to pretend that you understand what the Catholic Church is about.

    Some of us are not only non-catholic, but ex-catholic. For a reason. What I don’t find even remotely hilarious is that current-catholics try to pretend they understand what the catholic church is about. All the while the church condones and promotes ancient superstitions and even organized crime, like protecting pedophiles.

    All the “good” that the church is doing? Perfectly doable by secular institutions, without the religious baggage which makes idiots promote “abstinence” instead of proper sexual education and use of condoms in poor countries. The fact that abortion is always evil, the fact that you should put your trust blindly in some fucker that wears a black suit and a white collar just because. Religion only makes people gullible and stupid. Whatever good the church does can and is done better by secular institutions.

  465. #466 Nerd of Redhead
    January 18, 2009

    The real Pilty seems to prefer long posts of dogma. These short post are out of character.

  466. #467 Feynmaniac
    January 18, 2009

    Walton,

    I don’t think the original Piltdown was, but I suspect that the posts on this thread were made by an impersonator. That would be my guess, if I had to put money on it.

    It’s possible it was an impoester! Wait, where’s everyone going……

    I don’t know if Pilt is a Poe. He has suggested PZ was possessed by demons and has advocated for monarchy. I really hope he is.

    OT: Walton you’re at Oxford, right? Have you ever seen Richard Dawkins there?

  467. #468 John Donner
    January 18, 2009

    First off, as a non-practicing member of the Catholic community, I’ll be glad to admit that I don’t believe in the hocus-pocus of the Catholic church, or even in god himself. I do know that their two charity arms in America, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services, consisitently rank as the most generous and efficient nonprofits in the country. My point here is that you all are spending an awfully large amount of time and resources to bash an institution whose presence on the earth brings many benefits to the human community as it does controversies which we can debate. Debate, when used properly is a great way to orient our own personal moral compasses. Of course a huge multinational entity as far-reaching and ancient as the catholic church is going to have some serious problems associated with it, but turning one’s back on the good the church has done and labeling it as just another fradulent religion out to manipulate people for its own gain without giving anything positive to the world would give one a misinformed perspective on the church.

  468. #469 Nerd of Redhead
    January 18, 2009

    John, thank you for your concern. It is noted.

  469. #470 Walton
    January 18, 2009

    Feynmaniac: OT: Walton you’re at Oxford, right? Have you ever seen Richard Dawkins there?

    No, I’m afraid not – which is surprising, as he’s a fellow at New, which is just around the corner from my college (Hertford).

    John: My point here is that you all are spending an awfully large amount of time and resources to bash an institution whose presence on the earth brings many benefits to the human community as it does controversies which we can debate… Of course a huge multinational entity as far-reaching and ancient as the catholic church is going to have some serious problems associated with it, but turning one’s back on the good the church has done and labeling it as just another fradulent religion out to manipulate people for its own gain without giving anything positive to the world would give one a misinformed perspective on the church.

    I agree, sort of… but it’s an argument from consequences. The fact that Catholics and Catholic organisations have done, and continue to do, great work has no bearing on whether their beliefs are intellectually coherent. Nor does it preclude one from criticising the Church’s dogma.

    I agree that it would be silly and narrow-minded to condemn all of Catholicism on the basis of a small part of its teaching. And I don’t do that. But at the same time, I feel that it’s perfectly justified to criticise some of the very damaging teachings of the Vatican: the attitude towards homosexuals, for instance, or the blanket ban on contraception, or the granting of “indulgences” for sin. I also have a problem in principle with the idea of a “top-down” religious organisation, where the hierarchy tells you what to believe, and where faithful members are not expected to think and question for themselves.

  470. #471 Tulse
    January 18, 2009

    we by far are the most open minded of all the religious paths out there

    Wow — talk about drinking the Kool-aid. That statement is so wrong I don’t know even where to begin. Are you comparing them against the Unitarians, who in many cases don’t require adherence to any particular theology? Are you comparing them against the Anglicans, who ordain women, married men, and in some cases even gays? Are you comparing them against Buddhism?

    Meanwhile, the Catholic Church terms other religionsdefective.

    Your claim is just nuts (and I know of what I speak, being an ex-Catholic).

  471. #472 John Donner
    January 18, 2009

    Walton, it seems like we’ve reached a middle ground here, but here’s the point. If you don’t like what the church teaches, ignore it. Organized religion is best used as a guide to the development of one’s personal conscience and morality. My mother’s a lesbian and I use contraception with my fiancee with whom I have a son, and neither of us believes that it is wrong to do either. The point I’m trying to make is that if you don’t recognize the church as the ultimate authority, then why does it matter to everyone what they do? It seems kind of silly that a non-Catholic anti-religious person would be so interested in critiquing the teachings of an upper level Vatican council. You thereby are granting it the same moral authority and esteem that you are claiming it doesn’t have.

  472. #473 John Donner
    January 18, 2009

    Tulse,

    You’re right, the Unitarians and the Buddhists probably have the Catholics beat on the whole open-minded thing, but the Catholic Church does have a few things going for it. It embraces scientific theory, like natural selection, unlike most Protestant Christian churches, and it is widely believed throughout the church that Christianity is not the only path to the same ends. It’s also not as resistant to change as it once was and has been able to adapt over 2,000 years (although somewhat slowly) to changing ideas without compromising their unpopular teachings to appease the masses. I agree that they should open up to women and married clergy, if anything for their own survival. They can’t keep importing priests from abroad if they want to stick around. (They currently have no restrictions on ordaining gay priests though, which puts it on the same level as the Anglicans).

  473. #474 'Tis Himself
    January 18, 2009

    I notice that John didn’t bother to respond to some of the specifics that I and others noted. Protecting pedophile rapists is not just a “serious problem,” it’s gross immorality by an organization which claims to be THE moral authority. An organization who spent a lot of money and effort during the last election to deny civil rights to homosexuals. An organization that has no problem with burning heretics but condemns abortion even to save a mother’s life.

    Catholic Charities may be a fine organization that does much good in the world. The Catholic Church, especially the hierarchy, is a bunch of immoral hypocrites.

  474. #475 Walton
    January 18, 2009

    John: If you don’t like what the church teaches, ignore it. Organized religion is best used as a guide to the development of one’s personal conscience and morality. The point I’m trying to make is that if you don’t recognize the church as the ultimate authority, then why does it matter to everyone what they do? It seems kind of silly that a non-Catholic anti-religious person would be so interested in critiquing the teachings of an upper level Vatican council. You thereby are granting it the same moral authority and esteem that you are claiming it doesn’t have.

    You have a point; however, I would point out that Catholic religious teaching, via the agency of the millions who believe in and actively promote it, has a major effect on the formulation of public policy and nature of society in many countries. As an example, I would point to Proposition 8 in California, where the Catholic Church (along with evangelicals and Mormons) was instrumental in the prohibition of gay marriage. Or the fact that voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill remains illegal in most Catholic-majority countries.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asserting that the Catholic Church, by and large, “forces” its teachings on the rest of society. They don’t. Nor am I criticising Catholics in public life for following their consciences; I don’t claim that religion and politics can ever be entirely separated. But when a public policy decision – which affects everyone in society, via the coercive agency of the State – is made on the basis of Catholic teaching, then the moral and intellectual basis of that teaching becomes relevant to non-Catholics as well as to Catholics.

    And for the record, while I’m non-Catholic, I’m certainly not “anti-religious”. I was brought up in the Anglican Church, and I have great regard for the teachings of Jesus and many other religious figures. But I don’t think an honest and ethical person can be blind to the problems inevitably created by hierarchical organised religion. The fact that such organised religion has also done great good – the humanitarian work of many churches, for instance, or the role of the early medieval Church in preserving much classical learning and scholarship – does not absolve it from criticism qua social institution.

  475. #476 E in mD
    January 18, 2009

    Maybe it’s like those Mormons who posthumously baptize you into their cult.

    Maybe the Bill Donahue ninjaed his way into your house while you slept and baptized you, thus making to a prime target for excommunication from the Catholic church.

  476. #477 Guy Incognito
    January 18, 2009

    If you don’t like what the church teaches, ignore it.

    If a non-Catholic woman wants an abortion, will the church just ignore it? If a non-Catholic gay man wishes to marry his lover, will the church just ignore it? The Catholic church isn’t some locals-only, storefront chapel. It claims a billion followers worldwide. The Holy See has influence in the U.N. The church has threatened Catholic politicians with excommunication if they don’t toe the line. Its more prominent members, e.g., Mother Teresa, have attempted to influence the political process in numerous countries. You can’t just close your eyes and pretend the Catholic church doesn’t exist. So you can fuck right off with your “just ignore it” bullshit, because it is far from a two-way street.

  477. #478 Sastra
    January 18, 2009

    John Donner #472 wrote:

    It seems kind of silly that a non-Catholic anti-religious person would be so interested in critiquing the teachings of an upper level Vatican council. You thereby are granting it the same moral authority and esteem that you are claiming it doesn’t have.

    Might it not be the other way around? By giving moral and factual pronouncements by any group (religious, political, social) a free pass on outside criticism, they’re being granted a special status and authority.

    Virtually every group can point to valuable and noble pursuits that outsiders can respect. The problem is that, if outsiders can respect such pursuits, then it’s not exclusive to the group in question, and can’t be used to define them.

    For example, just because so-called “alternative healers” who claim that their waving hands can manipulate living energy fields also advocate exercise, a positive attitude, and eating more fruits and vegetables, we don’t say that there’s something valuable in Reiki or Therapeutic Touch. Critics who ignore the reasonable parts are reasonable to do so.

  478. #479 Andyo
    January 18, 2009

    Walton,

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asserting that the Catholic Church, by and large, “forces” its teachings on the rest of society. They don’t.

    Depending on the society, they do. That it doesn’t happen in countries that either “know better” (like in most European ones) or where the marketplace is saturated with competition (U.S.), doesn’t mean they don’t do it where they can (i.e. South America, and other poor locations in the map).

  479. #480 John Donner
    January 18, 2009

    Hey Guy Incognito,

    You can fuck off with your inflammatory bullshit. If you have so much pent-up aggression you’re trying to unleash in a little message board about religion, you might need to seek a little counseling outside the Internet or something. I’m just trying to speak my own ideas here just like everyone else. And resorting to a frat-house brand of ignorant rhetoric just puts a barrier in between whatever legitimate argument you may have and the people you’re trying to convince that what you say is valid.

  480. #481 Wowbagger
    January 18, 2009

    John Donner,

    We know that what Guy Incognito wrote is valid. Why did you choose to focus on his tone and your choice to be offended by it, rather than on the points he made?

  481. #482 Andyo
    January 18, 2009

    I was just gonna point out the exact same thing, but just went, “meh”. Isn’t it what all religious do? Get offended and never answering the actual questions.

  482. #483 kevin
    January 18, 2009

    look im catholic and i think that it should be mentiond that it is not a sin to do any thing with the “crackers” until the communion cermony. to commit the sin you would have to stay through the whole service and stand in line and take the “cracker” then publicly defille it. were not all crazy, but the new pope is and so is the american catholic league and that is giving the non crazy ones a bad rap. and just so yall know those damn things taste like cardboard

  483. #484 Owlmirror
    January 18, 2009

    Exactly — all religions worthy of the name claim to be a true description of reality [video of Bishop Richard Williamson] & they stand or fall by that.

    According to Wikipedia, the only Richard Williamson who is a bishop is, in fact, “a bishop of the Society of St. Pius X.”, and was “declared excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church because of his unauthorized consecration by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, deemed by the Holy See to be “unlawful” and “a schismatic act””.

    How very funny! He suffers the exact same fate as someone driving a rusty nail through a Eucharistic wafer!

    Say, aren’t schismatics further down in Hell than blasphemers, at least according to Dante? [*Checks*] Yup, blasphemers are in the Seventh Circle, inner ring. Schismatics are in the Eighth Circle, Bolgia 9.

    Of course, “Williamson upholds the SSPX view that they are not schismatic, but keep the orthodox “complete faith” and are the genuine Roman Catholics, while the mainstream church is under “the power of Satan””. But of course any schismatic would say that.

    Gee, Pilt, I thought you weren’t SSPX?

    Hm. “Williamson has expressed controversial views about Judaism and the Holocaust. He has endorsed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has denied the Holocaust, and praised Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. He states that Jews aim at world dominion, and that Jews and Freemasons, whom he also opposes, have contributed to the “changes and corruption” in the Catholic Church. He argues that Jews are the “enemies of Christ”, and urges their conversion to Catholicism. Williamson denies that he is antisemitic, stating that he is following the New Testament, and noting that he also attacks other enemies of Christ such as Communists and Freemasons.

    Nice guy you got there, Pilt. You sure that it isn’t him who is possessed by demons?

    Although I know you agree with him 100% on the Freemasons. Ooh, those scary Freemasons!

  484. #485 Andyo
    January 19, 2009

    Kevin, what exactly are the catholic doctrines that you follow and believe, if you don’t even respect the pope, let alone believe he is anywhere near infallible? Not pounding on you, I just think you just need to come over completely to the dark side hehe. It’s warm and sunny in here.

  485. #486 Owlmirror
    January 19, 2009

    abb3w @#383:

    Genocide is an offense against your fellow men; blasphemy is an offense against God.

    Working with the premise that God exists, the relative importance ascribed makes some sense.

    And I disagree. If God exists as a transcendent, eternal, omnimax being, an offense against him (or rather, it) cannot possibly be more important than an offense against humans — precisely because God is so utterly removed from anything humans can do to such a being.

    When I brought up arguments similar to the above during Crackergate, one of the responses by Catholics was something along the lines of “Well, God made himself into a weak vulnerable human not resisting those who attacked him and crucified him, and he does it again for the ritual of the Eucharist”.

    This line of thinking confused me enormously. As best I can see, Catholicism encourages its believers to hold this bizarre contradiction insider their heads: the transcendently eternal omnimax unified with the completely immobilized and weak. And it is an utter contradiction; something completely, insanely absurd.

    It is this kind of Orwellian doublethink, reinforced by repetition from authority figures & social peers, and combined with stories of eucharistic miracles — stories of wafers and wine literally becoming flesh and blood, or bleeding when stabbed — that led to the massacres of those accused of host desecration. And it still has power to incite violence today.

    Which brings me to the next point:

    If God doesn’t exist, there’s no possibility of offenses against God; there’s merely the possibility of offenses against your fellowmen’s concept of God, which is a form of offense against your fellow man.

    And this was raised during Crackergate as well, but the point is that it was often offered as an equivocation: offending Catholics was exactly as bad as threatening the offender with death, or with physically attacking the offender.

    I think that what PZ did helped highlight that primitive attitudes towards God still exist. Sophisticated, modern Catholics can look at the records and reports of the massacres, and say, “Oh, we don’t do that; we are so much more advanced and and modern than that.” And yet, the very actions of their fellow religionists contradict that; Crackergate began because of Catholics reacting violently out of proportion to a genuinely minor (well, minor to non-Catholics) alteration of the ritual by one of those attending the service, and continuing to do so in response to PZ’s insistence on desecrating a consecrated wafer.

    Among those who think about the world from the stance of both Religion and Science, the method of the act and (predicted and observed) sound-and-fury associated with the action appear more likely to primarily trigger association, activation, and response from cognitive structures of Religion rather than of Science. Activiation and use of congnitive structures seems to strengthen such structures. The cracker incident energized the fanatics on both sides, but the direct result of the incident in those most able to sway between stances was more likely to be driving them away from the stance that PZ would prefer they adopt.

    Perhaps. Yet I think that could be argued against as follows: Humans are not monolithic in their beliefs or emotions. Those who had not really thought much about it might begin to doubt. Those who already doubt might begin to wonder if there’s anything at all worth holding on to.

    The fanatics; the truly emotionally committed: These were perhaps strengthened — at first. But I think it could be argued that emotional excitement cannot last forever in everyone — and when the excitement cools down, while some (most?) will remain fanatics, there may well be those who start to wonder if there was ever anything to the whole business.

    I think that my final point is something along the lines of this: Getting people to confront the contradictions in their own beliefs may well require a sharp emotional stimulus. And at least some who see their co-religionists getting excited about an issue might well look at the emotional over-reaction of the fanatics, and explicitly reject it.

    Of course, I could be wrong…

    A thought about an empirical test of reinforced or reduced commitment: Did donations to the Catholic League rise or fall after Crackergate? And did the rise or fall continue or drop?

  486. #487 Kel
    January 19, 2009

    It’s no surprise that blasphemy is the most heinous of all crimes in many religions, and it’s no surprise that these religions are considered to have their priorities wrong. All manner of sin is forgiven except blaspheming against the holy spirit? Drawing a picture of the prophet is worthy of death? These kinds of moral precepts have no place in western society, and it’s both sad and pathetic the way people cling to them as if they have the right above all others to dictate morality to the masses.

  487. #488 Guy Incognito
    January 19, 2009

    @480: Why shouldn’t I be inflammatory? At least five posts said nearly the same thing I did in a much less inflammatory way, and you pretty much ignored them. The civil approach obviously wasn’t working on you, pinhead. It is quite plain you only came here to play cheerleader for your favorite religion and nothing more, so you can stuff the “let’s all be civil” bullshit.

  488. #489 Dill
    January 19, 2009

    religion has degraded down to the literal perceptions of what jesus meant to be symbolism. analyze the text, ascertain its meaning, dont just take crap from blind faith, be intelligent and u can get what religion has to offer and do away with the bullshit.

  489. #490 speedwell
    January 19, 2009

    (sigh) Religion is bullshit, Dill. Doing (or believing) the “right thing” for the wrong reasons (to please a God that doesn’t exist, or because some other human said you should because “God told them so”, for example) is still a “wrong” thing.

  490. #491 Ed Darrell
    January 19, 2009

    P. Z. Myers and George Gamow, birds of a feather:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/scientists-of-a-feather/

    Will the Pope go after Big Bang now, too?

  491. #492 John A Donner
    January 19, 2009

    Guy Incognito,

    Just because I happen to have a perspective that’s slightly different from the rest of you 400-some people doesn’t make me a “cheerleader” for Catholicism. I’m just pointing out that you can’t paint the entire religion as being some type of fraud designed to be oppressive over its members’ and the rest of the world’s minds. That’s an incomplete paradigm that reeks of paranoia and cynicism, and that’s made apparent with your hostility. It’s obvious that you’re very emotionally attached to the issue, and I feel kind of sorry for you for that, but at least try to open up your mind enough to listen to what someone who disagrees with you has to say and respond without pitching a fit. Who knows, you might be able to convince someone to accept a viewpoint or two you might have, or at least get a little respect.

  492. #493 abb3w
    January 20, 2009

    Owlmirror: If God exists as a transcendent, eternal, omnimax being, an offense against him (or rather, it) cannot possibly be more important than an offense against humans ? precisely because God is so utterly removed from anything humans can do to such a being.

    Essentially, it’s tied to the “God should receive respect” idea. Theology doesn’t have to make a lot of sense, just have some trace of it.

    Owlmirror: The fanatics; the truly emotionally committed: These were perhaps strengthened ? at first. But I think it could be argued that emotional excitement cannot last forever in everyone ? and when the excitement cools down, while some (most?) will remain fanatics, there may well be those who start to wonder if there was ever anything to the whole business.

    There are three groups in play.
    1) The fanatic science crowd, who almost exclusively use science day-to-day
    2) The fanatic religious crowd, who almost exclusively use religion day-to-day
    3) The in-between group… who regularly use both religion and science (say) at least once a week in looking at the world.

    Group one will effectively go “meh”. We don’t argue there.

    What I understand of neurology suggests repeat activation strengthens the activation tendency of the associated neural structure. For the fanatics, Crackergate will reinforce their fanatic (and siege) mentality. To that, I go “meh” again; the laundry bills for their underwear isn’t that significant. We’re not going to change their minds in any hurry anyway.

    The big problem (from my vantage) is those who are in the middle, with the capacity to work from both modes; and that Crackergate seems to appeal to religious modes of thinking rather than scientific… which thus would reinforce such (undesired) neural structures. Poking ScienceBlogs’ “brain and behavior” collection turns up this bit from a week or so ago, which indicates the phenomenon is called “Priming”. Cracker desecration would appear to prime Religion over Science. Measurable, I’d think; test subliminal responses before and after reading a report, versus control stories on other subjects or no story; preclassify populations by whether they take the Bible as Inerrant, Inspired, or Fables.

    On what neurological basis do you believe that “there may well be those who start to wonder” will be more significant, given their initial mindset? Your position as stated sounds purely like wishful thinking from what I can see.

    Owlmirror: Getting people to confront the contradictions in their own beliefs may well require a sharp emotional stimulus.

    I would agree. However, I don’t think all emotional stimuli are equal in this respect. It would need to be a sharp emotional stimulus helping to reinforce science and discredit religion. An ideal example might be on the lines of a doctor saying: “That pain you have? That’s cancer caused by the minerals in your church’s well water; someone should have had it tested years ago. If you do not take one of these pill every six hours, within ten minutes of the hour, for the next three weeks, the pain worsen, your cancer will become unstoppable, the pain will quickly become untreatable, and you will spend about a year in agony that before finally dying.”

    You want something both undeniably part of their life, and unreconcilable with the worldview that “religion=good”.

    Perhaps someone might do a study on the marginal social impact on a community of a new church being opened up? It can’t all be sunshine and roses every time.

    Owlmirror: And at least some who see their co-religionists getting excited about an issue might well look at the emotional over-reaction of the fanatics, and explicitly reject it.

    Counter-impulse: rejecting the rudeness of the gesture “which started the fight”.

  493. #494 John Morales
    January 20, 2009

    John A Donner @492:

    I’m just pointing out that you can’t paint the entire religion as being some type of fraud designed to be oppressive over its members’ and the rest of the world’s minds.

    Let’s see: it claims everyone was born with “Original Sin”, that the only Salvation (from everlasting torment) is the through the Church, and compels its followers to obedience on pain of withdrawing such putative salvation from this claimed original sin.
    Sounds like a scam to me, and I’m not “painting” it, I’m describing it. It’s all in the Catechism, to which you claim to subscribe.

    That’s an incomplete paradigm that reeks of paranoia and cynicism, and that’s made apparent with your hostility.

    Paradigm, eh? You infer this from a particular opinion? Heh.
    Also, distrust ? paranoia, and realism ? cynicism.

    There is no more hostility towards the Catholic church than towards any other religious scam, though such trifles as the Crusades, the Inquisition and complicity towards fascism in the mid-20th century are indicators that it can be a tad harmful when given power.

    It’s obvious that you’re very emotionally attached to the issue, and I feel kind of sorry for you for that, but at least try to open up your mind enough to listen to what someone who disagrees with you has to say and respond without pitching a fit.

    Well, given I was once a Catholic, it’s not like I have not given the matter any thought. I take it you’ve never been scammed otherwise, because if you had you’d not likely fall for the same scam again – you’d hardly be “open minded” if someone were to try to pitch it to you again :)

    So, basically, you’re spruiking a scam and wondering why it’s offensive.

  494. #495 John A Donner
    January 20, 2009

    When did I say I subscribed to the catechism? Your cynical paradigm is revealed through your opinions, and I’m hardly offended when someone posts something or goes against Church tradition and teaching; in fact I enjoy listening to people’s opinions when they are well thought out, and I’m not afraid to change my mind when I hear something that convinces me. The only thing that you won’t open up to is the fact that Catholicism isn’t *just* a scam, and that it has value to over one billion people in the world. Whether or not you feel like you’ve overcome this grand illusion that you fell for in the past, the fact remains that there are flaws, and there are benefits associated with the Catholic Church. And it’s not going away, so it might be best for your own health and well-being to not get so heated about it, and you might be able to enjoy life, even when subjected to a quasi-pro-Catholic message board post.

  495. #496 John Morales
    January 20, 2009

    John Donner:

    When did I say I subscribed to the catechism?

    When you wrote “we Catholics” @456.
    If you don’t subscribe, then you’re not a Catholic.

    [...] there are benefits associated with the Catholic Church.

    There are benefits associated with any religion or ideology (e.g. Scientology).
    Have you considered that these benefits could be achieved without the mumbo-jumbo?

    And it’s not going away, so it might be best for your own health and well-being to not get so heated about it, and you might be able to enjoy life, even when subjected to a quasi-pro-Catholic message board post.

    What makes you think my opinion about this is more “heated” than yours? :)

  496. #497 John Donner
    January 20, 2009

    Sorry John,

    I thought you were the same guy using profanities earlier (which probably did make my response more heated than yours — no smilies were included;]) I consider myself part of the Catholic community who has every right to pick apart a system of beliefs and keep what I like without subscribing to the rest – and the Pope can’t stop me! That is probably why I take the religion and some of its qualities with a grain of salt. I haven’t been to church in a while and I enjoy the stimulating ideas that the priest at my parish throws out there. They are entirely non-dogmatic, and can reach a broad audience with tons of value. I’ve been to many churches where one doesn’t get a glimpse of the potential open-mindedness that can exist in a Catholic church, but the point is that the benefit I receive from going to Mass every now and then is one that I never would have found on my own without being a part of the Church. I can honestly tell you that I really don’t believe that Jesus is God (although I can’t prove he isn’t – insert spaghetti monster theory here) but I can appreciate the community that was created in his name (if even he did exist). For those who can’t, I’m merely suggesting that there are plenty of people who do, and that in this type of debate, there are way too many people on both sides of the debate who show a lack of open-mindedness. Just as one shouldn’t blindly accept all tenets of an organized religion, one shouldn’t blindly reject them either.

  497. #498 John Morales
    January 20, 2009

    John, no worries. You describe yourself as what I consider to be a cultural Catholic. You’re higher in my estimation, other things equal, than would a True Believer? Catholic be.
    Most Catholics (self-proclaimed) I know are much as you.

    You do know that the sense of community and those actual good deeds the Church provides could be as well, if not better, achieved without the mystical trappings, right?

    Furthermore, as (ahem) certain errant Priests have shown, religious belief doesn’t stop bad people from being bad, contrary to claims made.

    I can honestly tell you that I really don’t believe that Jesus is God [...] but I can appreciate the community that was created in his name (if even he did exist).

    And, I repeat, should you have expressed sentiments such as those above in days of yore, you’d've been afforded no better (probably worse!) treatment from the authorities than I, an avowed atheist.

    Go figure.

  498. #499 John Morales
    January 20, 2009

    Correction: mystical trappings ? supernatural trappings above.

  499. #500 Petro Muluha
    January 21, 2009

    As was stated earlier, you need to be in the same belief system to understand what’s happening … as simple as that.

  500. #501 Piltdown Man
    January 24, 2009

    Owlmirror @484:

    Gee, Pilt, I thought you weren’t SSPX?

    I’m not.

    Hm. ?Williamson has expressed controversial views about Judaism and the Holocaust. He has endorsed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, has denied the Holocaust, and praised Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel. He states that Jews aim at world dominion, and that Jews and Freemasons, whom he also opposes, have contributed to the “changes and corruption” in the Catholic Church. He argues that Jews are the “enemies of Christ”, and urges their conversion to Catholicism. Williamson denies that he is antisemitic, stating that he is following the New Testament, and noting that he also attacks other enemies of Christ such as Communists and Freemasons.?
    Nice guy you got there, Pilt. You sure that it isn’t him who is possessed by demons?

    I gather Williamson is regarded as a bit of a loose cannon among traditionalists, many of whom wince whenever he opens his big mouth.

    I don’t believe he’s a Jew-hater, though, as he’s obviously got a sense of humour.

    Although I know you agree with him 100% on the Freemasons. Ooh, those scary Freemasons!

    I do think they’re a villainous bunch.

    According to Wikipedia, the only Richard Williamson who is a bishop is, in fact, ?a bishop of the Society of St. Pius X.?, and was ?declared excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church because of his unauthorized consecration by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, deemed by the Holy See to be “unlawful” and “a schismatic act”?.
    How very funny! He suffers the exact same fate as someone driving a rusty nail through a Eucharistic wafer!
    Say, aren’t schismatics further down in Hell than blasphemers, at least according to Dante? [*Checks*] Yup, blasphemers are in the Seventh Circle, inner ring. Schismatics are in the Eighth Circle, Bolgia 9.
    Of course, ?Williamson upholds the SSPX view that they are not schismatic, but keep the orthodox “complete faith” and are the genuine Roman Catholics, while the mainstream church is under “the power of Satan”?. But of course any schismatic would say that.

    I believe the correct online vernacular is snrk.

  501. #502 John Morales
    January 25, 2009

    Piltdown responds to Owlmirror:

    Although I know you agree with him 100% on the Freemasons. Ooh, those scary Freemasons!

    I do think they’re a villainous bunch.

    Then there’s this.
    I love the Internet :)

  502. #503 llewelly
    January 25, 2009

    John Donner | January 20, 2009 8:32 PM:

    I can honestly tell you that I really don’t believe that Jesus is God (although I can’t prove he isn’t – insert spaghetti monster theory here) but I can appreciate the community that was created in his name (if even he did exist).

    So you’re a Jeffersonian Christian?

    (Thomas Jefferson re-wrote the 3 synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), minus all the miracles, including the resurrection, all of which he rejected, and published the result, which is called ‘the Jefferson Bible’. )