Tag Archives: Catholic

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.27

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The More Things Change…

A priest defends pedophila on TV and pisses off the Vatican, Obama “verbally rapes” a woman by telling the truth, an 8th grade boy is suspended for supporting the military, 15 racist asshats carrying Confederate Flags invade a boy’s birthday party, plus we talk about the speed society has changed, thanks to the Internet, and if we should expect things to keep moving that fast.  Click here to listen now!

Convenient Catholicism

How-about-I-just-smack-the-stupid-out-of-you-patch-300x213Oh look, more stupid Catholics!  What a surprise!  This time out, a crazy fundamentalist Catholic tries to defend the Catholic Church and Catholicism and their hiding of pedophile priests by redefining words and playing the statistics game.

The disagreement was that the Catholic Church has blatantly tried to defend pedophile priests and hide them from prosecution. There is no real argument here, all of this is clearly true.  However, in a desperate attempt to defend and support the Vatican, now we’re seeing one fundamentalist Catholic twist reality to the breaking point and beyond.

This guy tries to say that the Catholic Church isn’t just the people running the thing, it isn’t just the priests and the bishops and the rest of the clergy, the Catholic Church is 1.2 billion people who belong to the church and since there aren’t that many pedophile priests statistically against that large number, accounting for everyone that sits in the pews once in a while, that pedophila is really not a big deal!  Feel free to face-palm.

That’s like saying that we can’t criticize Wal-Mart because millions and millions of people shop there and therefore, Wal-Mart is a massive organization, larger than many countries, and therefore any wrongdoing is so minuscule as to be irrelevant!  It’s like saying the U.S. government never does anything wrong because we’re going to consider all 320 million Americans part of the government and you can’t possibly blame all of them, can you?

It amazes me the lengths that some of these theists will go to support and defend their religious organizations and beliefs. They will never admit that any of them could ever do anything wrong, so no matter how much it looks like they are guilty of crimes and moral failures, there has to be some way to spin the facts, distort the stories and twist the narrative so that their church of choice comes out smelling like a rose, even if the rose smells a bit of bullshit.

I really don’t know what more to say about this, you can’t reason these people out of a position they never reasoned themselves into, it just leaves me shaking my head at the utter stupidity of the religious and the complete failure of logic for some members of the human species.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.23

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In a slightly shorter show, we go heavy on Islam with stories about anti-Muslim firearms, the pagan takeover of Catholicism, Ben Carson entirely misunderstanding our secular government, a Muslim boy gets arrested for bringing a clock to school, plus we look at why so many liberal atheists defend Islam.  Time’s a wastin’, go listen!

Do You Need Permission to Quit Christianity?


As long as we’re talking about Catholicism, I was talking to an ex-Catholic a while back, I suppose I ought to put “ex-Catholic” in quotes because, according to her, the only way you can actually leave the Catholic Church is to ask their permission and be granted a way out.  You can’t just stop going to their churches, you can’t stop believing their fairy tales, you have to actually be allowed to quit the church officially because when you joined, you joined for life.

Yes, that is as stupid as it sounds.

She doesn’t think this only applies to Catholic Churches either, although that’s her background and she has no real information or interest in non-Catholic Christianity.  So long as you were ever a Christian, you are always a Christian until Christianity, in some way, grants you permission to stop being a Christian.  I guess it’s some weird cult that never ever lets you go.  And the funniest thing is, she’s no longer a Catholic by belief but she still considers herself a Catholic by fact because the Catholic Church never formally excommunicated her.  So she’s a non-Catholic Catholic.  I don’t get it either.

I guess I could see it if she considered herself Catholic in the cultural sense, even Richard Dawkins considers himself Catholic that way, but not religiously because religiously, when you stop believing it, you stop being it for all intents and purposes. According to her though, you promised to always be a Catholic when you started being a Catholic so you’re always going to be a Catholic until the Catholics agree you’re not.  That’s like saying that you’ll always be in the Santa Claus Club until someone at the North Pole rescinds your membership card.  In reality, that’s just not how it works.  You stop believing in Santa Claus, you stop mailing him letters asking for presents, you stop expecting him to come down the chimney and you’re automatically out of the club.  The same applies to religion.  It requires active participation on your part.  When you stop playing along, the game ends.  You don’t need permission.  No one needs to be consulted.  You didn’t sign a contract guaranteeing your eternal soul and even if you did, that kind of thing is unenforceable once you stop believing a soul exists.  You don’t owe anything to the church and they don’t owe you anything  back.  It was fun while it lasted.  Or not.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. To think otherwise is really absurd, but hey, this is the religious we’re talking about, isn’t it?

Proving The Resurrection By the Minimal Facts

ResurrectionIt’s bizarre but I’ve found a lot of really crazy fundamentalist Catholics lately, people who are absolutely convinced that their faith is right and nobody can deny how perfect Catholicism is.  That’s the kind of stuff you expect to see from wingnut evangelical crazies, but nope… Catholics.  Go figure.

So anyhow, one of them decides he can prove the resurrection by using the “minimal facts approach” that was pioneered by apologist Gary Habermas.  He produces five points that he claims are so strongly attested historically that nearly every scholar who studies the subject agrees that they happened.  Of course, these points are utterly laughable, to the point that no credible historian is going to agree with them as demonstrable historical events, but hey… he’s got to be right, right?  He even claims that he won’t rely on the New Testament as support for any of these “facts”.

So here are his points and my responses to them.  It’s sad, trust me.

1. Jesus died by crucifixion

I’m sorry, you can’t even show that Jesus ever existed, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Jesus died by crucifixion. The Romans kept excellent records, yet never recorded the execution of Jesus of Nazareth. He immediately responded with the classical apologetic tropes, Josephus, Tacitus, etc., all of which have been soundly discredited, but that doesn’t stop the religiously deluded.

2. Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them

How does he know this, considering all of the Gospels are anonymous, not written by the people whose names they bear?  Of course, he simply refuses to acknowledge that.  The Bible is perfect, after all, at least the parts that he feels like thinking are perfect.  But he’s not allowed to use the New Testament so that’s right out.  All he has left are empty claims that this is what “traditionally” has been thought to be true.  Tradition isn’t fact.  Another fail.

3. Saul, the persecutor of the Church, was suddenly changed

Again, this is only found in the Bible, which is off-limits so he has to appeal to tradition, a logical fallacy.  The only mentions of Paul outside of the Bible come in a letter from Clement of Rome, written around 96CE, far too late to have been an actual eyewitness to Paul’s existence.  It also doesn’t corroborate the story listed in the Bible and the story in the Bible reads like a drug trip anyhow.  It also doesn’t validate Jesus in any way, shape or form since Jesus was dead by the time this supposed experience took place and Saul didn’t even see Jesus, he simply imagined him.  Completely unconvincing.

4. James, the skeptical brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed

The only extra-Biblical source of this is a passage in Jewish Antiquities that says James was executed by the Sanhedrin, we have no direct account from James and, at best, anything Josephus may have said, assuming it wasn’t a forgery to begin with, was heresay.

5. Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty

How do they know that it was Jesus’ tomb if nothing is in it?  How would you test an empty tomb to find out if it actually belonged to Jesus?  Are there artifacts?  Where is this data?  Of course, there isn’t any, it’s just another appeal to tradition and wishful thinking.

It’s really pathetic how these mega-Catholics and other deluded apologists think they’ve got the smoking gun on their religiosu beliefs, but the second you look at them at all critically, it all falls apart into a smoking heap of rubble.  We all know that the ridiculously shaky nature of these religious beliefs won’t stop the blindly faithful from believing but they continue to embarrass themselves by throwing out these ridiculous assertions time and time again.  What the hell is wrong with these idiots?

My Little Jesus

sweet_pony_jesusEvery time I think I’ve seen the nuttiest things that religion can come up with, I get blindsided with another one.  Now we all know that religious music is a big part of the church experience and, at least in my experience, much of that music is incredibly old, having been around for dozens if not hundreds of years.  That doesn’t mean that the religious experience hasn’t been updated over the years, the Catholic Church alone has tried to get away from Latin and tired, old music, introducing guitars and drums and other instruments a couple of times in their history, but now, they’re adding something else:  intellectual property theft.

At least I can’t imagine the owners of the My Little Pony music would have licensed their tunes to the Catholics for use in their liturgical music.  Even if they did though, the idea of singing praises to Jesus to the theme of My Little Pony seems patently absurd.  If you don’t believe me, please click on the link above, they have examples of the original and the new Catholic version to compare.

Now this seriously makes me wonder who they are making the new music for?  Did they just think the tune was catchy or are they shooting for a much younger audience who might recognize it and maybe sing along to the new lyrics?  We know that the Catholics, among other Christian religions, are losing members faster than they can fill the pews, is this part of a desperate attempt to recoup their losses or are they catering to a group of youngsters who really have no choice but to accompany their parents to the service?  What’s next?  Priests in colorful costumes with crosses tattooed on their asses?  The choir doing a holy hoe-down?  Animated religious cartoons of My Little Jesus in place of sermons?  Hey, it might make mass almost worth going to.  Almost.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #2.10

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Jesus Says Give Me Your Wallet!

After missing a week, we come back with another 90 minutes of religious and political absurdity sure to make any rational person shake their heads.  This week, gays make Christians feel bad.  The Catholic Church is finally being held criminally liable for pedophile priests.  The Supreme Court rules in an online threat case.  A family is charged with disturbing the peace and brings up free speech concerns.  Plus, are the religious really more charitable when their religion uses intimidation and threats to extort money from them?  All this and more on this new episode!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #66

Bitchspot Report New IconIt’s an all-news show!  This week, Christians think they’re going to the gas chambers, the Supreme Court settles the case over the Murfreesboro mosque, atheists are actually blinded to the fact that they’re possessed by demons, Southern Baptists post huge losses once again, the couple who killed two cops and a woman in Vegas were actually religious conspiracy nuts and what do you call 800 dead babies in a septic tank?  Another typical Catholic tragedy!  Strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #64

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In a ridiculously long episode, Cephus and Mike welcome guest Jim Goebel to talk about the cluelessness of creationists, the reason Catholics keep getting into trouble, good news, more Americans are expressing willingness to vote for an atheist and the rise of exorcism among Catholics and others, because they really think black magic, Satanism and the occult are real.  We also spend a long, long time talking about libertarian politics and we discover that Pat Robertson really is a kinky bastard.  All this and more in this extended episode of The Bitchspot Report Podcast.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #62

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This time out, we talk about the latest move in Christian moviemaking, the movies that make them feel persecuted.  We watch Ken Ham’s head explode once again following the latest episode of Cosmos.  Feminists reveal their sexism as they hate male-only schools, but a female-only school?  You have to keep that!  The fallout from the recent Joliet, Illinois court case begins and we see that the Catholics are still hiding pedophile priests.  They’ve changed?  Like hell they have!  And we talk about the common claim that atheists are afraid to insult Islam by insulting Islam a lot.  All this and more in this week’s episode of the Bitchspot Report Podcast!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #58

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This time out, it’s churches and what they do wrong, starting with cocaine, condoms and the Vatican, kidnapping kids for Jesus, what happens when you pray too hard and Catholic bishops and their million dollar houses.  Then we take a look at 5 atheists that supposedly ruin it for the rest of us, but don’t really.  Run over and give a listen!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #54

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This week, Cephus and Mike look at the recent Chinese railroad knife attack, David Yonggi Cho, founder of the world’s largest megachurch gets convicted of theft, Americans are becoming sharply more favorable toward gay issues and the Catholic Church blames a Minnesota mom for not protecting her son from a pedophile priest.  Plus, we talk about where our views differ from the neo-cons.  All this and more in one 90-minute package!

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #51

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Wow, there’s some really bad audio this week, which is too bad because we have a lot of important stuff to talk about.  Bear with us as the Devil messes with Mike’s recording setup as we complain about Vicky Hartzler and he claims that abortions stop a man’s fundamental right to be a father, we cheer over the Texas Board of Education returning to sanity and demanding actual science in science textbooks, we argue for equality in a Canadian debacle over religious law students and yet another Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy to get out of paying it’s just dues to more than 350 sex abuse victims.  Oh, and we address a complaint from last week’s show that we shouldn’t ever argue for violence, even against those who are being violent to others.  We try anyhow, just listen to the show, you’ll see what I mean.

The Bitchspot Report Podcast #46

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With special guest Jon Ownbey, we go after Republican hatred of evolution, the justice system failing us in prosecuting Catholic sex abuse cases, Obama’s plan to combine aliens and Canadian soldiers and rough Biblical debate.  Plus, we talk about Jon and Mike’s new podcast venture, the Irreverent Skeptics and drift all over the places into things we shouldn’t talk about at all.  Trust me, it’s wrong.  Join us in this week’s episode, called “Jon Ownbey Delivers Dick Jokes”.

Catholic Bankruptcies Not Necessarily Kosher

holycross800A federal judge ruled recently in the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese bankruptcy case that the $57 million that the church had hidden in the cemetery care fund could not be touched by victims of priestly sexual abuse.  This shocked a lot of people, myself included, because we have internal church communications between Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, former archbishop of the archdiocese, and the Vatican, stating that the money was being moved specifically to shield it from seizure in the upcoming civil trial.  The Vatican, no surprise, approved the move.  According to Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph T. Randa, Catholic “canon law” requiring it to provide for the long-term care of cemeteries  for the eventual “resurrection of the body” are a sufficient basis to shield religious organizations from US civil law.

There are 575 creditors, mostly those who have been molested by priests within the Milwaukee Archdiocese who are understandably pissed off at this decision.  In July, over 6000 pages of documents were released, detailing decades of sexual abuse by priests that were knowingly covered up by the Archdiocese.  Clearly, the church has tried to shield it’s funds from creditors, perhaps through the manipulation of a federal judge and that’s what people have demanded to find out.  Now, another judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley, has ruled that all documents related to the cemeteries in question, must be released to the public so it can be determined if Randa has any interest in the Catholic cemeteries or any potential conflict of interest in the case which should have caused him to recuse himself from the case.

“This should not in any way, shape or form be construed as a ruling on the appropriateness of Judge Randa’s recusal or nonrecusal, or whether he has a financial interest or not” in the archdiocese’s cemetery litigation, Kelley said.  Depending on what they find in those documents, Randa may be asked to vacate the case or recuse himself from the issue if it’s found that he has a vested financial or ethical conflict of interest.

Regardless of the particulars of this case though, it’s clear that the Catholic Church, which claims to abhor the pedophilic tendencies of many of it’s priests, is really in it for the money.  They have made every move possible, in every case possible, to hide information, protect assets and mislead the public and keep from paying the civil fines assigned to them by the courts.  The Church has harmed a huge number of people, they continue to do so and they continue to hide this simple fact from the public, yet they do not want to be held accountable by society for the damage they do.  As I’ve said before, this is really no surprise once you realize that the RCC isn’t really a church.  It’s a criminal organization.

Maybe it’s time the court systems recognized them for what they are.


Catholic Schools Struggle to Survive

School’s Out Forever!

No matter what the Catholics want you to believe, the fact is, they’re failing miserably.  It isn’t just the churches who have suffered from plummeting membership for years, it’s the Catholic schools who they rely on to brainwash kids into lifelong Catholic zombies, that have seen fewer and fewer students coming through the door year after year.

In the past decade, Catholic schools have seen a 24.5% drop in attendance and more than 2000 schools in the United States have closed or consolidated.  Chicago’s Leo Catholic High School for Boys has fallen from 1200 students in the 1950s to just 157 this year.  New York is going to lose 24 schools this year, according to the local archdiocese.  Of course, this isn’t true everywhere, there are small pockets of growing Catholic influence like Indiana, Texas and Florida, but the news just isn’t good for Catholic education in general.

Of course, the Catholics try to spin it like this is a bad turn of events.  They claim that the estimated 2 million students educated in private religious schools save taxpayers over $21 billion a year, but that’s simply not the case.  Public schools are funded by property taxes, those taxes are raised whether the students to to public schools or not.  The only thing that private schools do is reduce the amount of money families have available to spend because they are paying for schooling twice.  I’d rather see that $21  billion pumped into the economy through local businesses than wasted on religious education.  At least local businesses pay taxes on the money they collect, unlike the Catholics who are tax-exempt.

Catholics claim that it’s the charter schools and changing demographics that are harming them but I suspect that it’s a better educated society that is driving people away from religious schools and churches in droves.  Of course, the Catholic sex scandal can’t be helping them.  Add to that the fact that Catholics typically give half as much to their church as Protestants, 1.2% vs. 2.5%, I’m not surprised to see them running out of money faster.  With weekly Catholic church attendance down dramatically since the 1970s, falling from 47% to 24% in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, the schools will only continue to suffer unless they can find a way to boost their ranks.  Many archdiocese are trying to appeal to the Hispanic community as a means of filling their classrooms, but the honest fact is, they will continue to lose money unless they can appeal to a more affluent clientele.  The traditional low and middle-income students just won’t cut it, but the high-income students often come from families with excellent educations who don’t fall for religious bullshit in the first place.

Is it any wonder that the whole religious infrastructure is failing?  If they cannot keep indoctrinating kids with their nonsense, those kids will not go to their churches, won’t give them money and churches and schools will continue to fail.  The whole system is spiraling into oblivion and personally, I think that’s a very good thing.


Pope’s Departure Not Such a Surprise

Ceremony For The 900th Anniversary Of The Order Of The Knights Of Malta, Vatican City State, Rome, Italy - 09 Feb 2013
Ta ta, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!

Lots of people have been treating the Pope’s announcement that he’s leaving the office at the end of the month as though there were no warning signs,  but if you’ve kept your eyes open and knew what to look for, that’s simply not the case.  I don’t buy for a second that he’s leaving over health concerns.  Yes, he’s old, but no more so than many other recent popes, he falls in at the fifth oldest pope currently.  He’s not in particularly bad health so far as we know, although that information could be withheld from the public.  His predecessor, after all, not only suffered a gunshot wound, he had a benign intestinal tumor removed in 1992, fell twice in 1993 and 1994, resulting in a dislocated shoulder and broken femur, had an appendectomy in 1996 and was diagnosed in 2001 with Parkinson’s Disease, yet he never left the Papacy.  By comparison, Benedict, who is just over a year older than Pope John Paul II at his death, suffered a mild stroke in 2005 and broke his wrist in 2009.  It was revealed that he had a pacemaker implanted prior to his election as Pope.  It seems to me, just by that data, that his health isn’t all that bad for a man of his age.

So what evidence do we have that maybe, this is about something else?

It was only last year that Luigi Bettazzi, the retired bishop of Ivrea, who has known Benedict for nearly 50 years, suggested quietly that he might step down quietly instead of spending the rest of his days in the papacy.  If we remember, before being elected, Cardinal Ratzinger was already looking forward to a quiet retirement, he had said early on that he would prefer his papacy be short.  However, the Vatican had made it clear that such desires were unrealistic, that he really had no choice to step down early, in fact, the past Pope to step down from his duties was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, who stepped down to put an end to the Great Western Schism.  Seven others before him had abdicated, including Pope Gregory VI, who left because he had been revealed to have purchased the Papacy from his predecessor, Benedict IX, and left in disgrace.  In fact, if you look through the Catholic records, the current Pope is the first and only to have stepped down from his position without being forced, through scandal or military or political challenge.  The closest one had gotten, Celestine V, stepped down in a desire to return to his hermitage, but was imprisoned by his successor.  It is interesting to note that twice in the past 8 years, Benedict has visited the bones of St. Celestine, seemingly hoping for some sort of spiritual permission from the Pope who invented the rule that Popes could step down willingly.

But beyond those signs, let’s be honest, this papacy has been embattled since day one.  He was a controvertial figure to begin with, coming after a much-beloved progressive pontiff who wanted to take the church from the 13th century, at least to the 18th, but when Benedict came in, he immediately started reversing many of the advancements brought in by John Paul II, putting the Catholic Church firmly in the middle ages.  Where this may have thrilled some of the more fundamentalist Catholics, most modern, especially American Catholics, were disgusted.  That’s why a huge number of American Catholics have started to largely ignore anything coming out of the Vatican, the Pope doesn’t live in the same century as modern humans do.

Benedict had also been largely responsible, in his pre-Pope days, as Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for setting the tone for  the prosecution of the Catholic sex scandals.  You have to remember, this is the office that, back in the middle ages, was responsible for the Inquisition.  Ratzinger was personally responsible for concocting many of the confusing and bewildering rules within the Catholic church for taking care of these and other criminal claims.  Bishops were sending off their files on abuse cases to the Congregations for the Clergy, for Bishops, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and for the Evangelization of Peoples — plus the Vatican’s Secretariat of State; its appeals court, the Apostolic Signatura; and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.  “There was confusion everywhere,” said Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia.

In 2001, then-Pope John Paul II personally named the CDF responsible for investigating all reported cases of priest sex abuse.  Well, not really, the CDF had been de facto responsible for such things since 1922, but nothing much had ever been done.  The Vatican only took this extraordinary step after being flooded by complaints and concerns from bishops in English-speaking nations demanded action and convened a secret meeting in 2000.  Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, an outspoken bishop from Sydney, Australia, attended the meeting and says that despite numerous warnings, the Vatican in general and Ratzinger in particular, were slow to respond to their concerns.  “Why did the Vatican end up so far behind the bishops out on the front line, who with all their faults, did change — they did develop,” he said. “Why was the Vatican so many years behind?”

It became clear that Ratzinger could no longer  claim ignorance, he was part of the institutionalized culture of non-responsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction that has marked the church over the years.  He took no action whatsoever in his role as Cardinal-Prefect and when he became Pope, he largely ignored the problem, pretending, like his predecessor, that such claims were just attacks against the church by it’s enemies.  Benedict met with victims of priest sex abuse three times and, after a huge amount of pressure, opened a belated investigation into the ministry of Father Marcial Maciel and his Legionaries of Christ organization, eventually leading to Maciel’s removal from the priesthood.  Earlier in the month, the courts ordered a release of the records from the Maciel case and, like in the Los Angeles Archdiocese case, all paperwork related to priest sex abuse in the Legionaries of Christ group.

We can lay a lot of this at the feet of Ratzinger’s positions, both as a Cardinal and as the Pope.  Had he declared back in 1983 that all cases of priestly sex abuse were to be immediately turned over to the proper authorities and any priest that was accused of inappropriate contact with children would immediately be removed from their priestly duties and forbidden to have any contact with children until the case was settled, then the church would never be in the mess it is today.  To date, there are 8 American Catholic Diocese that have declared bankruptcy over payouts to sex abuse victims.  Nearly two billion dollars has been spent by the church, more than $615 million in 2007 alone.  Yet the church has never made it’s policies on sex abuse transparent, nor made an open order to turn over all sex-abusing priests immediately to the police.  The Church continues to hemorrhage money.

Yet it’s not only money they’re losing, the church is losing members at an astounding rate.  In 2010, the Church in America had fewer members than Islam, and Islam makes up a tiny percentage of the nation’s religious.  In Europe it’s worse, nations that have historically been primarily Roman Catholic are now reporting a drop in Mass attendance to less than 50%.  I simply cannot see it as a coincidence that the same weekend that Pope Benedict announced his resignation, the Vatican was hosting a conference aimed at luring young people back to the Church.  The Roman Catholic Church is imploding from within and a lot of that failure has come under the short watch of Pope Benedict.  As much as I can understand that Benedict didn’t want to be Pope and didn’t want to remain Pope for long, I’m pretty sure there’s pressure from within for him to move along because his policies and his actions are demonstrably harming the business-side of the Church.  In a lot of places, the Catholic Church is going out of business.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a good thing, but it was only a matter of time until Benedict either got tossed out on his ass, stepped down to avoid the former, or went out feet-first, natural causes or otherwise.  There’s too much money and power involved here, too many people who want to cling to the former glory of the Church, to let this doddering old fool hang around and mess things up for everyone.

It was just a matter of time.


Taking on the Quinque Viae

Quinque Viae: Primitive Arguments Made by Primitive Man

Yeah, I know.  Say what?  But this is really where a lot of apologist arguments either started from or are most concisely described and a Catholic debate partner demanded that I handle these arguments because they absolutely prove God is real.

Well… not so much.

The Quinque Viae, or the “Five Ways” are supposed to be five proofs of the existence of God, put together by 13th century apologist Saint Thomas Aquinas, summarized in his book, Summa Theologica.

Of the five, I’ve already gone into detail on one argument, the Argument from the First Cause, and two others are basically modified restatements of the same sort of argument, the Unmoved Mover and the Argument from Contingency.

I will briefly examine those first two, only because they go to some strange places, and the last two, The Argument from Degree and the Teleological Argument because they deserve some deeper examination.

The argument of the unmoved mover, or ex motu, tries to explain that God must be the cause of motion in the universe. It is therefore a form of the cosmological argument. It employs Aristotle’s dichotomy of potentiality and actuality. It goes thus:

  • Some things are in motion.
  • A thing cannot, in the same respect and in the same way, move itself: it requires a mover.
  • An infinite regress of movers is impossible.
  • Therefore, there is an unmoved mover from whom all motion proceeds.
  • This mover is what we call God.

This argument suffers from the same inherent problem that the other cosmological arguments do, the fact that it makes an unjustifiable claim, that an infinite regress of movers is impossible.  We just don’t know what physical laws are present in the larger multiverse that almost certainly exists beyond the boundaries of our own universe.  As such, statement #3 above is completely unverifiable and thus, the argument, since it relies on that statement, fail.

Another face of the cosmological argument, argument from contingency (ex contingentia):

  • Many things in the universe may either exist or not exist. Such things are called contingent beings.
  • It is impossible for everything in the universe to be contingent, for then there would be a time when nothing existed, and so nothing would exist now, since there would be nothing to bring anything into existence, which is clearly false.
  • Therefore, there must be a necessary being whose existence is not contingent on any other being or beings.
  • This being is whom we call God.

There’s so much wrong here it’s hard to know where to start.  I recognize that the reason so many of these argument  have problems is because they were originally formulated before we had modern knowledge about the universe.  Back in the dark ages when Aquinas came up with it, they were pretty bloody ignorant of the way the world around them worked.  We know better today.  Unfortunately, you have theists who, even though they ought to know better, are so wrapped up in their fanatical religious beliefs, they’ve got no more sense than the 13th century apologists who came up with these now-wrong ideas.  Once we recognize the primitive thinking present, we can do away with the whole concept of non-contingent beings because there simply is no evidence for them.

For the Argument from Degree, Wikipedia summarizes it thus:

The argument from degree or gradation (ex gradu). It is heavily based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. It goes thus :

  • Varying perfections of varying degrees may be found throughout the universe.
  • These degrees assume the existence of an ultimate standard of perfection.
  • Therefore, perfection must have a pinnacle.
  • This pinnacle is whom we call God.

In more modern terms, the argument can be summarized simplistically as “God is something for which no more perfect thing can be imagined”.  However, I can certainly imagine an infinitely better God than the one in the Bible.  Just give me an all-powerful entity that isn’t a fucking dick.  Anyone who can’t come up with a better deity than the one that appears in the Bible or the Qu’ran or any other book suffers from a lack of imagination.  But it’s really not hard to demolish this argument.  Just imagining something doesn’t make it real.  For example, I can claim that I can imagine the most perfect car conceivable.  It flies, it’s free and it runs on air, among other characteristics.  It is the most amazing automobile anyone has ever come up with.  So where is this wonderful car?  It doesn’t exist.  It’s, a fantasy, just like God is.  The ultimate perfection that anyone can imagine not only is not necessarily real, but it is virtually never real because the universe doesn’t operate perfectly.  In fact, I can’t think of many natural, existing phenomena that I couldn’t improve on in short order.  I could improve gravity, evolution and human physiology without breaking a sweat, all of them are real natural processes, yet none of them remotely approach any version of perfection I can imagine.  That said, even if  do come up with superior versions of all of these things, none of the superior versions I’ve invented actually exist.

So one more argument down.

For the Teleological argument, Wikipedia says:

The teleological argument or argument from “design” (ex fine), which claims that many things in the Universe possess final causes that must be directed by God:

  • All natural bodies in the world act towards ends.
  • These objects are in themselves unintelligent.
  • Acting towards an end is characteristic of intelligence.
  • Therefore, there exists an intelligent being that guides all natural bodies towards their ends.
  • This being is whom we call God.

That’s all well and good except it’s laughably wrong.  All natural bodies in the world do not act towards ends.  The moon is a natural body.  What end is it working toward?  I can pick up a rock.  What end is it working toward?  If I drop that rock at the shoreline and leave it there, the wind and the waves will eventually reduce it to sand.  Was that it’s goal, or is it something outside of it’s control that occurred to it?  See, you can tell this is a faulty argument the second you read the words “act towards ends”.  That implies a will and an intelligence to pursue that will.  Obviously, rocks don’t have that.  The moon doesn’t have that.  The asteroid that exploded over Russia didn’t have that.  Clearly, this is a fallacious argument when it starts off with a false claim, that things act towards ends, then acknowledges that falsehood by agreeing that non-intelligent objects are incapable of doing such.  Then it tries to desperately rationalize away the first falsehood it made, therefore God.

Seriously?  Are these people really that stupid?

The biggest problem and instant failure of all of these arguments is what I pointed out in my previous article, something I’ll call “the argument from assertion”.  Every single one of them simply asserts specific characteristics belong to God, yet they cannot show that God even exists, much less that he demonstrably has any of these characteristics.  I could just as easily assign any of these characteristics to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s just as likely to be real as God is, and then claim the FSM is the prime mover of the universe.  Do we think apologists would be impressed?  Then why should we be impressed when they do it?

Yet this is the problem that virtually all apologetic arguments for the existence of God have.  They assert God can do this, God can do that, God is like this, God is like that, yet none of them can demonstrate that God even exists in the first place.  If you cannot even show that God is real, how can you arbitrarily assign characteristics to God and expect them to stick?  They wouldn’t accept if we assigned characteristics to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they cannot have, no matter how much they might want it, special treatment for their own imaginary friend in the sky.

So no, the Quinque Viae fails, along with every other apologetic argument I’ve examined, and for most of the same reasons.  Can’t theists come up with anything better?

Catholic Church Hypocritical Much?

Do As We Say, Not As We Do
Do As We Say, Not As We Do

In 2006, Lori Stodghill, a woman pregnant with twins, was rushed into St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colorado.  She was suffering from a clogged artery which had starved her lungs and caused a massive heart attack, causing her death less than an hour after arriving in the hospital.  As tragic as that is, it’s not really the story.  Stodghill’s husband filed a lawsuit against the hospital, not alleging that they could have saved her life, but that, being seven months pregnant, the hospital had a duty to do an emergency c-section in an effort to save the lives of his unborn children.

The lawyers for the hospital argued that since 7-month old fetuses are not people, the hospital had no obligation to consider their welfare.

Um… what?!?!?!?

Let me explain.  St. Thomas More Hospital is run by the Roman Catholic Church, specifically by the group called Catholic Health Initiatives.  It runs approximately 170 hospitals in 17 states and it’s stated mission is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and to be run their operation by a strict “fidelity to the Gospel.”  It operates by following the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church which were written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  According to the Ethical and Religious Directives, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death, the Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

Well, not so much in this case.

See, for a very long time, the Catholic Church has fought nationwide to change health and medical laws to protect the unborn, to guarantee them the same rights and privileges that we grant to born children.  Yet in the courtroom, attorney Jason Langley argued that the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

I guess that means the Catholic Church, as with most other things, wants people to do as they say and not as they do.  The court sided with the Catholic lawyers and rejected the claims of Mr. Stodghill, who has filed an appeal.  Now on the one hand, I agree with the decision, a fetus does not have the same rights as a born individual and even though I think the hospital should have made an attempt to save the twins, in fact, I think most hospitals would have done so as a matter of course, I don’t think they ought to be punished because they didn’t do so.  What I do have a massive problem with is the Catholic Church once again ignoring their own rhetoric when it gets in the way.  They say they want to protect the unborn, yet when the opportunity presents itself to do just that, they fail in their stated mission statement, then pretend they were just going along with the same established laws that they’ve spent years fighting against and calling evil and immoral.

Yet again, we see the Catholic Church display their true stripes, as an opportunistic predatory cult, willing to throw principles and morals out the window the second they get in the way of profit.  They’ve done it with pedophile priests, now they’ve done it with medicine.  What’s next?

It’s Not Just Priests

Victims of Catholic teacher John Joseph Merzbacher

We talk a lot about Catholic priests molesting altar boys and rightfully so, Catholic sex abuse in the priesthood is a rampant problem and the RCC has demonstrated a sick disinterest in actually dealing with the problem or in even acknowledging that they have an issue.  However, we have to remember that this problem goes far beyond the priesthood, it’s not just guys in black robes that like to diddle young children, nor is it restricted to those priestly pedophiles that the Catholics actively defend and hide the guilty.

At the Catholic Community Middle School, located in Locust Point, Maryland, teacher John Joseph Merzbacher molested a pre-teen girl in a classroom after hours.  As horrific as such a thing may be, it gets worse.  It’s not as though no one knew it had happened, it’s not as though someone couldn’t have stopped it, in fact, Sister Eileen Weisman walked in on the incident while it was happening, back in the 70s, and not only ignored the screaming girl who was half-undressed, she simply chastized Merzbacher and told him not to lock the door in the future before leaving again.

The girl was one of many molested by Merzbacher in the 70s, although many of them didn’t come forward until the 90s when he was prosecuted for his crimes.  He was convicted and put in prison, sentenced to four life terms.  Now, however, due to a technicality, Merzbacher wants out of prison.

I say hell no.

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4xk_Qwds2E’]

Accounts from more than two dozen former students that were molested by Merzbacher and documentation presented to the courts, show that there were many instances where the Catholic church ought to have stepped in to protect children from this child predator, yet did not.  These failures fell into two distinct categories.  In the first, when people like Weisman had direct knowledge of events and did not stop them, these people should have been held accountable for their failures.  It is clear that Catholic officials knew full well what was happening and did nothing to stop it.  The former victims described in court how Merzbacher would use rock music, drugs and obscene language to terrorize them into sexual exploits, he even fired a gun in class and would often use the weapon to force students to do things against their will.  There is no doubt that school administrators either were aware of what was going on, or should have been aware, there simply is no excuse for not acting.  The second category, as we see in so many of these abuse cases, Catholic officials refused to report incidents to authorities who were investigating allegations against Merzbacher.  There are at least 5 incidents that were directly witnessed by Sister Weisman and other religious clergy of beatings, sexual deviancy and threats made by Merzbacher that were hidden from official police inquiry.  Official claims of sexual molestation were made by student Elizabeth Ann Murphy on at least three occasions and in each, Weisman in particular hid the evidence against Merzbacher.  It was ultimately Murphy’s last complaint, in 1988, which led to the investigation, arrest and conviction of Merzbacher on six counts of child abuse and child rape, as well as over 100 counts of related crimes.  While there are dozens of other victims in the case, only the charges brought by Murphy were considered.

The diocese claimed it knew nothing prior to 1993 when the case was in court and didn’t report anything to police because they believed they were only required to do so while the victim, 14 years later and now an adult, was still a minor.  That’s absolutely absurd.  As all of this was going on, and likely for the good of the diocese, Weisman was removed from office and, in 2002, barred from holding “any position within the Archdiocese that involves overseeing the safety of children.”

Too bad you didn’t take any of it seriously while this guy was molesting pre-teen boys and girls, huh?

As I said, Merzbacher is appealing his four life sentences because, back in the 90s, his defense team failed to mention to him that there was a plea deal on the table which would have allowed him to serve a mere ten years in prison.  However, a plea deal is contingent on three separate things.  First, whether or not the defendant accepts the deal.  Second, whether or not the prosecution retracts the deal, which based on the wealth of evidence and the certitude that they could successfully prosecute the case, they certainly would have done so.  Third, on whether the judge in the case would have allowed the plea deal and the original judge in the matter has already stated it would never have been allowed to fly.  Therefore, it’s just more junk clogging up the already-overstuffed justice system, Merzbacher, now 71, will die in prison and good riddance to him.

Why do these stories keep coming to light?  Why does the Catholic church never learn?  Why are there always these massive coverups and misdirections, trying desperately to keep men in the Catholic hierarchy out of prison for heinous crimes?  And why, when this comes to light over and over again, do people keep filling the pews in Catholic churches week after week, handing over money to this corrupt organization, which has spent billions of dollars in monetary payouts to victims of Catholic sex abuse?

Are they never going to learn?


Quickie Halloween Followup

Last night, my daughter got some silly handout from a local Catholic church, it’s a 3-inch wide flyer on the history of Halloween, English on one side, Spanish on the other.  Honestly, for the first half, it’s extremely historically accurate, it describes where the holiday came from, how begging for treats started, I’m pretty impressed that the first half is so educational.

Then you get to the second half and it’s all religious nonsense, as I’m sure everyone expected.  However, there was one line that I just have to post for you because the cognitive dissonance contained within is mind-blowing.  Right after a section on why kids dress up, we get:

Unfortunately, when people dress as witches, devils, goblins, it can lead to superstition.

I read that to my wife and she started laughing hysterically.  The jaw-dropping stupidity is slathered thick with this one, especially since the last paragraph, of which the above is the first sentence, they lay on the God-delusion heavily.  Yes, dressing up like fantasy creatures can lead to superstition, but luckily, the Catholic Church is here to show you how to do it right?

Honestly, does anyone read these before they go stuffing them in kid’s bags?

Horror Show Sunday: Catholic Age of Consent

Come here little boy, you look 14…

Hey, we’re on a roll, welcome to the second installment of Horror Show Sunday.  Let’s keep going with a similar theme, shall we?  Last week we talked about Muslim Imams who were willing to marry young girls to older men, thus justifying pedophilia.  However, they’re certainly not the only religious group out there that has had a problem with child-sex, in fact, the Catholic Church makes them look like pikers.

Now we could write all year about the number of Catholic sex abuse scandals and the billions of dollars the church has spent. both in settlements and hush money over the years.  You’d think that, given that wealth of experience, the RCC would actually learn to stop defending pedophile priests, stop moving known child molesters around and actually reporting these incidents to the authorities.  After all, no rational organization would want known, active pedophiles within their ranks.

Oh wait, I said rational organization, right?  That lets the Catholics out.  They’re wingnut crazy and as such, think they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else.  In a Joliet, Illinois case involving Rev. F. Lee Ryan, a Catholic priest who was removed from service a couple of years ago because he boinked a 14-year old boy back in the 70s.  Now you’d think this would be a slam-dunk, even the Catholic diocese admits that the evidence against Ryan is “credible”, nor is anyone denying that Ryan had inappropriate sexual relations with the young boy.

But just  because they have credible evidence against this priest and no one, including the priest himself, denies the allegations, out in wacky Catholic Land, they give the priest back his Bible and send him out to molest, um, minister once again!  Why?  Because according to Church Law at the time, molesting a 14 year old boy wasn’t a serious offense and therefore, Rev. Ryan gets off scot free!  It doesn’t really seem to matter to them what U.S. criminal law has to say about the whole thing, the Church seems to think it answers to a higher source, a source that think it’s fine to stick your dick in a teenage boy.

So why isn’t it a big deal, in the eyes of the Church?   Because according to that wonderful Catholic Law at the time, 14 was seen as an age of consent.  Yes, they are that stupid.

Some of the details are just so absurd that they’re hard to take seriously.  According to the victim, now 52, he had become convinced he was gay and Rev. Ryan took advantage of him, taking him to motels in Indiana where he wouldn’t be recognized and telling the boy to call him Lee so he wouldn’t be noticed as a priest.  This apparently went on for quite some time, right up until, when the boy was 16, he was caught by Ryan in a car with another teen.  Ryan was described as being very upset, shouting “Aren’t God and I enough for you?”

What, was this a freaky threesome?

Now I’m sorry, but the Church doesn’t get to set it’s own legal policy, it doesn’t get to over-ride established secular laws and it doesn’t get to boink young boys, no matter how much priests, and apparently God, want them to.  If any other group tried this kind of defense, they’d get laughed out of the courtroom, it is only in the priesthood, supported by billions of dollars of RCC money, with their scare-tactics threatening to send anyone who doesn’t give them their way on a one-way trip to eternal damnation.  What is that?  It’s another clear entry into the Religious Horror Show.

I’m sure this was totally innocent!

Seriously folks, you can’t make this shit up.

Late Sunday night, August 12, 2012, James Curths, a resident of Woodburn, Oregon, discovered a 12-year old boy running down the street towards him, begging him to protect him from the person chasing him.  Moments later, a man, dressed only in his underwear, ran around the nearby corner and motioned for the boy to come to him.  When Curths and his daughter-in-law refused and threatened to call the police, the man ran away.

The man, of course, was a priest.  Reverend Angel Armando Perez, parish priest at St. Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn.  On Monday, the boy gave a detailed account of the molestation performed at Perez’ house, leading to his arrest later that day, charged with first-degree sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

According to the boy, he was staying at the priest’s house and, at some point during the night, he awoke from a deep sleep because of “flashes”, only to find his pants pulled down around his knees and the good reverend fondling his genitals while taking pictures on his cell phone.  When he started to struggle, the priest called to him to come back to bed, but instead he ran, resulting in the half-naked chase through the streets of town.

Father Perez, of course, is sorry it all happened.  Well, he’s sorry he got caught.  He claims, in an affidavit, that he had too much to drink and blacked out and has no idea what happened.  Sure, like we haven’t heard that one before.

Of course, the Catholics immediately come out in his defense, or at least in the defense of their church.  It’s never anything that the Catholic Church does wrong, he’s just a bad seed.  Apparently the RCC has a lot of bad seeds, as there were more than 4400 priests accused of sexual misconduct with children in the United States between 1950 and 2010, with more than 11,000 individual accusations leveled against them.  That’s about 4% of the total number of active priests in the United States at the time!  Keep in mind that the vast majority of claims against Catholic priests have only started to come out in large numbers in the past several decades, imagine how many actual cases there have been that were never reported or successfully covered up by the RCC.

The problem is, these cases don’t seem to be going away.  If anything, they’re being reported more frequently today.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are happening more often, children have more access to means to report abuse than ever before, but it doesn’t appear that the Catholic Church’s claims that it’s reducing the number of pedophile priests in the ministry is true.  All of this priest-schtupping isn’t cheap either.  By 2009, the Catholic Church, just in the United States alone, had spent over 2.6 billion dollars settling sex abuse cases and the number just keeps growing.  Pope Sidious… um, Benedict hasn’t done a thing to improve the situation, he could easily revoke the restrictions on marriage of priests and significantly reduce the number of abuse cases, he just won’t.  Then again, it’s partially his doing that any of this got started in the first place with his work on the Crimen Sollicitationis.

I don’t suspect this will change things either, it will just result in another pedophile priest going to prison, millions more in payouts going to a damaged young boy and millions of Catholics, so totally deluded about the nature of their church and religion, standing up to defend the actions of the church once again.

Why won’t they ever learn?