I’ve been promising a series of posts concerning religion and belief so lets get the first one started.

Dealing with Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular, people tend to give various reasons for belief, for example the raving atheist seems to have come after long exposure to pro life issues.

As CS Lewis notes in his classic The Screwtape Letters number 25 Christianity AND is not the way to go:

Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.

Since according to Christianity Christ is the Way the truth and the light one must assume truth is the friend of God and falsehood is the foe. Many people give many different reasons why they are Christian in general and or Catholic in particular. I maintain there is only one valid reason, and that reason should trump any and all others:

Because it’s true.

This should and must be the primary reason for being a Christian. No other trumps it. Christianity and the Church is either true or false, there is no middle ground here. If it is true then non belief doesn’t matter. The penalties and benefits are real and will have to be dealt with at some time in the future. Its like not believing in the wind. It doesn’t matter if you believe it it or not it is a reality to deal with.

This means that as a Christian this should be the basis for all belief. I will expand on this in my next post.

This article concerning the God probably doesn’t exist ads is interesting but there is one line that hits one of my pet peeves.

Sherine says she conceived the ads after visiting the fundamentalist website of Christians who sponsored the pro-God bus ads last year.

She was shocked to hear that in their interpretation of the Bible, unbelievers would “burn in a lake of fire.” Sherine rejected such an outcome for her Parsi grandmother,

This is silly silly silly. If she is convinced that God doesn’t exist then why be worried about what somebody else thinks? Someone’s opinion can’t make someone burn.

I think it is actually telling. I think it isn’t a question of trying to convince others, I think it is a question of trying to convince oneself. I think that one of the reasons why you see atheists so adamant concerning beliefs that they consider fantasy is the gut fear of the alternative, yet it is only the Christian alternative that produces this fear, and not other religious traditions. I think that is telling and will be touching on that in later posts.

Lets bottom line it. If God doesn’t exist, no exultation, no pronouncement and no statement of belief will make him exist. So no series of actions following creeds will make a difference after death.

If God exists in general and Christianity in particular is correct no amount of billboards or talk shows will change it. Nor will the consequences of belief, actions or non-belief be avoided. Those consequences may not be what some denominations believe but given the above they will exist.

That is reason.

Via Hot air.

You might recall the fuss and a half over Rick Warren at the inaugural.

Well looks like its payback time as Gene Robinson has been chosen for another event:

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday’s event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama’s decision to have the Rev. Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn’t believe Obama invited him in response to the Warren criticism but said his inclusion won’t go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

Of course he wasn’t invited for that reason. I don’t think the Christian Right should be upset about this, after all he is a Christian Bishop and the difference is only orientation isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Robinson said he doesn’t yet know what he’ll say, but he knows he won’t use a Bible.

“While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans,” Robinson said. “I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer.

Well that’s reassuring the Episcopal church sure choose a winner. We can’t be using those nasty biblical quotes. Of course that doesn’t apply to me: Matthew 10:32-33

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

Or maybe Luke 9:26

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Or maybe 2 Timothy 2:12

if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us.

Yup that’s one first rate secular Christian Bishop the Episcopal church has.

In the end though it’s Obama’s party and he can invite who he wants. That’s the spoils of victory. I don’t think its worth a fuss.

The Curt Jester links to Fr. Powell’s excellent post on the differences between a parish priest and a priest of a religious order. I actually didn’t know there was a difference in vows:

In the Catholic Church there are two kinds of priests: religious and diocesan. The primary canonical difference between the two is based on who serves as an immediate ecclesial superior. For RP’s the immediate ecclesial superior is the local prior, abbot, or major superior; that is, a member of that priest’s order/monastery who exercises canonical authority in virtue of holding an office within the order/monastery. My immediate ecclesial superior is the prior of this convent. For DP’s, the immediate ecclesial superior is always the bishop of the priest’s diocese.

Very informative and worth reading.

I’ve been going back and forth in comments with Bob Goldman concerning the reasons for liberal people are so willing to believe the worst of Israel and Jews but give other a pass.

This article from Francesca Segal supports Bob’s answer while giving a possible a possible answer to me:

In August 2001, I turned 21 and my parents gave me a Star of David necklace. Then a month later, the world changed and my mother, with remarkable foresight, began her campaign to rescind the gift, begging me to take it off because she was frightened it would make me a target in the wake of mounting evidence that fanatical Islamism was tightening its grip on the country. My argument was always the same – when I am no longer safe being identifiably Jewish on the tube, I don’t want to live in England.

Now it’s happening and I am devastated. It was bluster. I am resolutely, irreducibly British. I love Marmite and Labradors and Sunday lunch. If you step on my foot, I will reflexively apologise. New York, where I will go if I have to leave the UK, does not feel like home for me nor, I suspect, could it ever. But as the British establishment sides with the appeasing of Islamism at home and abroad and as the word Zionism is increasingly bastardised, hijacked by a new definition comprising traditional antisemitic libels and demonising conspiracy theories, and as the liberal media and campaigning groups single out Israel disproportionately among all other countries for criticism, perpetuating the myth that Israel is responsible for mushrooming anti-western sentiment, I feel increasingly that I cannot stay.

My little sister arrived back at her university last week to discover buildings had been daubed with antisemitic graffiti. Across north London, the same scrawled vitriol has been appearing – “Jihad to Israel”, frequently accompanied by the message: “Kill Jews.”

Our Islamic friends clearly don’t have a problem with the whole “death to the Jews” thing. I never see any Islamic groups condemning this type of behavior.

The fact is that as Glenn has pointed out again and again violence and intimidation works. Just look at South Park Mohammad censorship for God’s sake.

Considering the appeasement of Islam it will be interesting is when Islamic belief conflicts with something like Abortion or Homosexuality both condemned in Islam, both legal in Israel. What will our liberal friends say then when there is a conflict on that subject in the west?

Via hot air.

Update: Yet another example.

He added: “Our comments were directed to ‘insulting’ and/or ‘controversial’ remarks made by Mr. Naik in relation to Christianity. This was no more than religious debate under the general principles of British law and within the Ofcom Code. No intemperate language was used on our show.”

In a reply, Javaid Ullah, the director of the radio station, terminated the Rev Masih and his co-presenter’s “voluntary agreement… with immediate effect”. He said that they had “failed to remain neutral and as such allowed the guest to make comments which led in [to] offending various members of the community.”

He added: “The comments made in your letter were inaccurate and not true. The tone of the letter was deemed offensive to the management of Awaz FM.”

The Rev Masih told The Sunday Telegraph: “I am very distressed at the way I have been treated. I presented the show for six years and am sad to have been forced to give it up.”

Drip , drip drip.

Some thoughts on the snow.

It kept the crew from coming to try out that talisman expansion, will have to do it this afternoon.

Figured with all the snow people might be shoveling and not calling into unemployment yet, I was right got through on the 2nd try!

Had to dig out to get Steve’s son to hockey this morning as he is staying with us this weekend. I don’t know how he and his wife manage all the events with 4 kids.

I noticed the long list of protestant churches and Jewish synagogues closed on the news. You never see a Catholic Church closed. Mass is always held but the faithful are advised not to risk life to get there. Since the priest usually lives in a rectory next door this isn’t a problem. Also in a city like mine the Church are neighborhood churches so many people can walk to mass. I don’t know how it is in more rural areas.

Notice when things seemed to be getting warmer everyone cried Global Warming, now since things are cold it is “Climate Change”.

Our city had budget problems before the market crashes, I can’t see how we are going to pay for our snow removal this year.

I’ll have more to say on that but I have shoveling to do. Read you in a few hours.

Via the Curt Jester we get the story of Fr. Roger Haight S.J. Apparently his license to teach Theology at any university has been removed because the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith because he denies the divinity of Christ. This belief is espoused is the book: Jesus Symbol of God. Fr. Phillip Neri Powell OP. PHD talks of the joy of the dissenters at his blog Domine, da mihi hanc aquam:

Critics of the CDF will whine and moan that the congregation is acting to suppress creative thinking and legitimate theological research. They will rend garments and gnash teeth over the cosmic injustice of asking a Catholic theologian to actually teach the Catholic faith. They will use Haight’s sanctions as evidence that they being persecuted by a medieval Church who hates any and all difference of opinion. Let’s be quick to note the ratio of publishing, teaching dissident theologians to those investigated and sanctioned by the CDF. What, maybe one in every 10,000 theologians merit the CDF’s attention? Hardly a worldwide “crackdown” on dissent. But maybe that’s the problem. The CDF isn’t paying these whiners any attention and their reputations among the heretical inner-circle are suffering.

So, ignore the mewling academics and leftist pundits and focus on the fact that Haight himself chose to write against well-established, infallible Christian doctrine. He will not go hungry. He will have a place to live. God still loves him. He’s still a priest, a Jesuit, and a member of the Church. He can still write on questions in spirituality, and he will no doubt become a conference/lecture circuit star among the thousands of professionally aggrieved institutions and individuals the Church allows to flourish despite its apparent bloodthirsty, inquistional ways. If anything, the CDF sanctions have guaranteed Haight’s books a spot on most theology syllabi well into this century.

The question becomes will he choose to peruse this father in terms of dissent until he chooses to permanently separate himself from the church. The priesthood is not a democracy. If one wants to be a priest he is obliged to follow the teachings of the church.

There is nothing of course preventing him from renouncing his vows and leaving the church or even Christianity as a whole, with his denial of the divinity of Christ he would fit right into some churches. I ofter wonder why people who don’t believe stay, in comments Fr. Powell gives the answer:

Someone once asked a famous dissenting theologian why she remained in the Church if she found so much of its doctrine and practice so detestable.

She answered, “It’s where the Xerox machine is.” In other words, she remains b/c the Church butters her bread and pays her rent. The Church provides her with the resources she needs to undermine the Church.

There is a much bigger gravy train trashing the church from within rather than doing what one believes or following the rules. Just remember although you may not like what they are doing you are required to pray for them, that’s the rules too.

Well I mentioned one of my pet peeves in my Happy New Year post, its caused a bit of a debate between me and commentator Galapagos Pete. Since it is getting long I figured I’d copy my latest answer as a new post. To follow the debate thus far go here:

I will first post reply to me and answer in a fisking format for easier reading:

“First are you just as angered concerning non-christian religions? If not then why should Christianity get one dander up when other religions do not?”…the former Soviet Union, China and North Korea are or were officially atheist and that didn’t stop them from slaughtering millions upon millions.””

Here’s a sentiment you may have come across in your life:

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Matthew 7:3

Let me explain what that means: Your bad behavior is in no slightest degree excused by the bad behavior of others, even if theirs is worse. If you lose your temper and punch someone in the mouth, no one is going to let you off the hook because someone else who lost their temper killed 9 people. And you shouldn’t let yourself off the hook, either.

But you would only agree with this if you subscribed to a moral code, particularly if it was one you believed was handed down by the supreme being of the universe. (Though, as an atheist who believes that the bible was simply written by men but has some very good thoughts mixed in with mythology, it happens to be a position with which I agree.)

Still didn’t get an answer to the first question concerning all religions vs Christianity. I ask this because this will be (once today’s party is done, tomorrow’s cleanup and a day to recover from both) will lead to a series of re-occurring posts on religion.

Nice dodge using scripture to duck the question however.

And although your explanation of the meaning of the passage is correct your application is wrong. Sin is by definition committed by men (in the traditional sense of the word) not by an organization. I of course use sin in the Catholic Christian definition.

The atrocities committed by the leaders of those countries were not committed in the name of atheism, they were done, in general, to suppress dissent. Religious atrocities are committed by people specifically to please their gods. The bible is full of examples, often done at god’s specific command.

The problem with your argument concerning communism is that the in it the state becomes the moral code and the practice of religion becomes anathema because it produces a moral code based on something other that the state.

This is why atheism can’t produce an effective moral code since it can only be by the standards of those producing it. Since those standards can change quite rapidly the code can then mean whatever people want it to mean at any time. Its great for building straw men but is not way to live a life.

A great example of this is an old column of Richard Cohen that I blogged on a bit ago. He was very free to call people bigots but had no history on the same standard.

I will concede without reservation that there have been things done in the name of religion or in the perversion religion that are contrary to their own moral code. There are also corrupt police who have bent the rules because they either wanted to take a dangerous person off the streets or to frame other for their own ends. Should we then decide that the police are a bad thing and the world would be better without them?

I will also state that religious people have used religion for their own ends, Oral Roberts “send me money or god takes me home bit comes instantly to mind. In current news a certain Governer in Illinois apparently has used elected office for his own ends, should we then eliminate elected office and democratic government?

Bottom line anything can be perverted and used wrongly, that is human nature. Why religion in general or as I would argue Christianity in particular get the majority of your animosity?

You say based on a culture rather than a religion but go on to say “Christian culture” and “Jewish culture.” Which comes first: is the culture founded on the religion or the religion on the culture?

If the former, the religion is very much responsible for the laws of the society. Indeed, this is the very point religionists keep trying to make, that all morality comes from their god in the first place. So religion must be blamed for much unnecessary human suffering.

Your question on which came first is a fascinating one and is the best part of your reply, that is a question for anthropology and would be a great subject for study. Your blame of religion for much human suffering because of its origin also must imply that religion should also get a lot of credit for human good since those same laws would have been in place as mankind advanced.

It is a fun argument because human suffering can be defined under this argument as “something I like that religion says is bad.” If only religion didn’t say stealing is bad, I could take what I wanted I can’t so I suffer. If only religion didn’t say that I could sleep around on my wife, because it says I can’t I suffer, et-al. This frankly is a lot of what the argument comes down to. Religion forbids something I like so it cramps my style. Thus I suffer. That is much of the modern objection to it.

If the latter, then religion is simply something made up by people to justify their petty but dangerous hatreds of those who differ from them, and to use as a club to enforce their will.

The justify my piety statement is fun because without religion you can’t have piety, but you can substitute the word habits since semantics are not the topic. I would again ask my primary question; do you refer to all religion or just Christianity?

As a Christian I believe or rather state that there is only one religious path that is correct, it led through Judaism to Christianity. Since I would state that other religions are “false” they would by definition be made up to some degree, either out of the whole cloth, or by a misinterpretation of events or by deception, but it would seem wrong to impute people’s motives without evidence. There are many Christians who would likely disagree with me on this due to the difference between how the Catholic faith sees other religions as opposed to most protestant denominations. The club bit I would refer to my police reference above.

Anyways that’s all I have time for I have to squeeze in one other post before the wife kills me for sitting on my butt with last minute cleaning to be done and guests due in 6 hours, so any replies to this post and approval to comments will be slow.

Was doing some channel surfing and briefly came across the Monk Episode Mr. Monk and the Three Julies.

There was a brief scene (couldn’t find the scene) where Randy names his 2nd theory on a case of the person killing Julie Teagers, and it is the T2 theory.

I couldn’t help but think of this clip.

This is a perfect example of comedy about religion without defaming it. And most important it is funny!

Well I guess we can remove the presuming line this post. It appears the raving atheist is now definitely the raving theist. His first non comedy post confirms it.

Yes, my conversion is real and sincere and heartfelt. It is not a mean atheist hoax or prank. At first I was offended that anyone could suspect me of such monstrous cruelty, but I realize that most people don’t know me well enough to understand how my character would so absolutely preclude such a charade. And having written my share of skeptical posts about the conversion of other atheists, I understand how impossible it would be for anyone who has perused my archives to conclude that I am anything more than fraud.

He promises an explanation for his conversion:

The atheists have justifiably pointed out that I have not supported my new thesis with anything more than a picture and an oath. As noted above, I will in time supply my reasons. I did not do so at first because the announcement was intended as consolation rather than argumentation. Furthermore, the calls for a full and immediate explanation of my beliefs and their justifications are unreasonable. I spent years on the exposition of my atheist views, and as I have noted, atheists disbelieve for a wide variety of reasons, and not all subscribe to the same rationales. I will pontificate at my leisure, in between silly headlines.

His blog will be the place to be for anyone interested in these issues.