Observer columnist says Pope’s visit reduced Dawkins to ‘a rambling and wild-eyed madman’

Kevin McKenna’s  review of 2010 in The Observer newspaper includes his assessment of Richard Dawkins behaviour during Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK:

‘ The Pope’s visit was great but tinged with sadness because it reduced that once-great biologist Richard Dawkins to a rambling and wild-eyed madman hurling foam-flecked adolescent insults at the Roman holy man. I trust someone is giving the scientist his soup and caramelised biscuits as he recuperates. I even hear of a Richard Dawkins care fund. Could someone forward me the address?’

Protect the Pope comment: Couldn’t agree more! It was a relief that the BBC cut away from their coverage of the anti-Catholic jamboree, Protest the Pope, just as Prof. Dawkins was about to froth at the mouth, to show Pope Benedict leaving the Papal Nuncio’s residence to travel to the residential care home. Sadly, video of Dawkins making an embarrassment of himself spread around the web like a virus.  It is sad to see a man of obvious intellect reduced to this gibbering rant of hate.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/02/kevin-mckenna-look-back-at-year

62 comments to Observer columnist says Pope’s visit reduced Dawkins to ‘a rambling and wild-eyed madman’

  • Karla

    Funny! Very true.

    As Dinesh D’souza would say, this is what happens when you take a biologist out of the lab.

    There are two different kinds of atheist:

    There is the atheist who is a non believer but doesn’t really care about religious people, what they do, what they practice. As long as it is not forced upon him, it is no bother.

    And then you get the second kind of atheist, they practice atheism, it takes work and effort. They complain about Christmas trees, and nativity scenes, and Catholic leader’s visits, even though they do not complain about any other religion’s leaders visiting, even radical Imams are of no care to them. This is sadly the majority of atheists today.

    • Pedro

      “There is the atheist who is a non believer but doesn’t really care about religious people, what they do, what they practice. As long as it is not forced upon him, it is no bother. ”

      Ah yes, the “good” atheists, the ones who stay quiet like they’re supposed to. We seem to have a new irregular verb developing in the English language.

      I am pious and holy.
      You are shrill and outspoken.
      S/he is dogmatic, intolerant and frothing at the mouth.

      • Karla

        I can’t work out if you are agreeing me or mocking me?

        There are plenty of atheists who practice their atheism, that is the new atheism, but you get other atheists too, who I think are in the minority who don’t agree with this new atheism which only aim seems to be to mock religion etc.

        • Pedro

          Well, I wouldn’t say I was mocking you. The point I’m making is that you seem to prefer atheists who keep their opinions to themselves. Atheists who publicly challenge the claims, arguments and evidence put forward by religions, the rights and special privileges that they demand, are just being a bit too uppity, they seem to have forgotten their place.

          This so called New Atheism is exactly the same as the old atheism. There are no arguments in the God Delusion that aren’t centuries old. It’s just that people are getting to hear many of them for the first time.

          This thread is a perfect example of a typical Christian response. There’s no argument being made at the top of this thread, it’s just a “let’s have a laugh at the funny atheist” topic. You’ll find similar threads throughout the Christian blogsphere. To me it just illustrates the fundamental inability of Christianity to respond whenever anyone stands up and says we don’t believe you.

          • Deacon Nick

            Pedro, for some atheists its more than ‘we don’t believe you’, its we hate you, we want to mock and desecrate what’s most important to you, we don’t want you to have any say in society, we don’t want you to exist. Not all atheists, just some, the more loud ones.

          • Karla

            I never said that. What I said, is that their are clearly two different kinds of athiests.

            I beleive their is a difference between the new atheism and the old atheism. You had people like Sartre and Camus who strongly disbelieved in God, but understand the implications of this belief. The understood that life without God had no meaning. The new atheism, is mostly about mocking. Comparing God to beleif to unicorns, signs on the sides of buses saying you can be good about God, total nonsense.

            This thread was never about an argument. Its an observation of a comment that an Observer columnist made about Dawkins. Some threads on this website do consist of arguments, refuting claims made by lying or false claims, others are more light hearted.

          • Pedro

            “The understood that life without God had no meaning.”

            How dare you say my life has no meaning? How dare you say that anyone’s life has no meaning? Who are you to pass judgement on others?

            I have family, friends, loved ones just like you. I do my best to lead a good life and to help others. I find all the meaning I need just being alive.

            Later in this thread there is an accusation that atheists “hate God”, an utterly absurd suggestion. The people who spread hatred in this world are the ones who dismiss others because they don’t share their beliefs, who say that others lives have no meaning.

            “Comparing God to beleif to unicorns”

            I’ve never done that on this board, but since you’ve chosen to raise the comparison, I find the idea of a horned horse considerably more likely than transubstantiation, human parthenogenesis, a triune deity, original sin, saintly intervention or the resurrection of the dead. Unicorns are nothing in comparison to that.

        • Tim H

          “There are plenty of atheists who practice their atheism”

          How does one “practice” atheism? Woulldn’t it be like an a-footballist practcing “not playing football”?

      • Karla

        Pedro you obviously did not read my comment correctly. I said Sartre and Camus, self proclaimed athiests, said they understood that life without God is meaningless.

        You are totally right, if we are only talking about personal, subjective meanings, then no one can be right. But this is not what Christians mean when they say that the universe has no meaning without God. The typical Christian position is that if God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless and without ultimate meaning, but humans cannot live happily with this conclusion and so the non-theist has to try to “create” meaning, by pretending the universe has meaning. In which case, we are just fooling ourselves.

        Look, we don’t deny the existence of fairies, leprechauns, unicorns, Santa clause, & the flying spaghetti monster because we don’t have reasons for their existence. The absence of evidence is not evidence for absence, unless a substantial property is necessary. We deny the existence of those things because we got good evidence for why they don’t exist! Those are being whose existence should be observable from their basic acts.

        Turning back to the original question, there’s a huge difference between belief in God and belief in Unicorns. Comparing the two beliefs is usually an argument set forth by atheists to belittle and demean those who acknowledge the Truth as being benighted and silly. However, the
        unicorn argument is really a straw man because, even though both unicorns and God cannot be measured, the analogy does not hold. The analogy does not hold because there are no compelling reasons to believe in unicorns; in fact, there are reasons to believe they do not exist; however, there are compelling reasons why belief in God is *reasonable* even if it is not *provable* in the positivistic sense of the word “proof.”

        Fairies: If you acknowledge that unmeasurable things may exist, then you must acknowledge the *possibility* that fairies might possibly exist. However, belief is not without reason. We have no reason to believe in unicorns because we see no *results* that are measurable and that *must* derive from unicorns, there exists no single, internally consistent philosophy explaining their existence or their nature, and I’m sure plenty of other arguments. Because there is no reasonable basis to believe fairies exist, we have no reasonable basis to make a leap of faith (trust) that they do exist. Rather, we come to the opposite conclusion.

        God, as revealed through the Catholic Church: There are many good reasons to believe He exists in the manner revealed through the Church. I believe the best one is First Cause – and no one, not even Stephen Hawking, has an answer for this. All atheists must make the “leap of faith” that the “first cause” is physical in nature – but logically this leap of faith is less reasonable than the one required to believe in God because no physical processes could take place before time began. Therefore, even without physical measurement, we have at least one (and in fact many) reasonable bases to make the leap of faith that says “there is a God.” Combined as a whole with other arguments and observable events (lives of the saints, unexplainable miracles associated with holy people, the existence of abstract and unmeasurable concepts, the abject and undeniable evil that results from adopting atheism culturally, the good that results from *truly* following the teachings of the Church, the other ontological arguments for God’s existence, the near universality of belief in the spiritual, the fact that no human institution has *ever* lasted *unchanged* in its core teachings for 2000 years (as the Church has done)), we have reasonable basis to believe in the nature of God as proclaimed through His Church.

        Even if any one of them might be suspect, and even if First Cause alone is not enough to promote belief, the whole of all reasons for faith is greater than the sum of their parts.

        This argument stands in stark contrast to unicorns, the nature of which does not correspond to reality as does the nature of God as the Church proclaims Him to be. This argument also stands in stark contrast to other “gods” – such as “Thor” or “Zeus” (more favorites of atheists) because these gods do not logically fit with the nature of the First Cause, as does God as revealed through the Catholic Church. Appeals to these mythical gods are ontologically and epistemologically the same as the appeal to unicorns, and suffer from the same fundamental flaw from which the unicorn argument suffers.

        Additionally, calling the First Cause “unicorn” would be unjust as you would be merely playing a game of semantics and transposing names which do not correspond to the commonly understood underlying natures of the things being discussed. The underlying nature of the First Cause would not change, so calling it “unicorn” or “Thor” or “Zeus” disingenuously attempts to apply commonly understood natures of those concepts to the First Cause, but in a way that conflicts with the underlying natures of the concepts under discussion. In other words, while a “rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” if you called a “rose” a “hockey puck” you’d just create confusion without contributing to the discussion of what the nature of a rose actually is.

        To sum up: The unicorn argument fails because there are no good reasons to believe unicorns exist; whereas there are a whole host of reasonable bases, especially when considered together as a whole, to believe that God (as proclaimed by the Catholic Church) exists. Cultures also lose nothing good by believing there are no unicorns, whereas abject evil results when cultures believe there is no God. In the end, the fairy argument is a straw man that simply does hold as analogy to arguments for belief in God as proclaimed by His Church.

        • Karla

          The same can be said for the ”fairy” argument.

        • Pedro

          Karla

          Thank you for a long and well considered post. You raise a great many arguments here and it would be difficult to do them all justice, so I’m going to have to just concentrate on just a few.

          “I said Sartre and Camus, self proclaimed athiests, said they understood that life without God is meaningless.”

          I apologise for not taking the care to read your post properly.

          The meaning that Christians attach to this life is that it is little more than a testing ground for the next life. It’s an opportunity to accumulate “brownie points” if you like in order to be redeemed rather than condemned. Superficially, it’s an enormously attractive message: don’t worry too much about your lot in this life, things will be much better in the next. Rulers, both temporal and spiritual have found it extremely useful.

          But assuming you achieve redemption, then what? An eternity of doing what precisely? We are creatures who strive to achieve, to build, to create, to understand. It’s almost a defining characteristic of the human soul (in a metaphoric use of the word of course). To say that the meaning of life is a reward of eternal worshipping, or subservience, or non achievement, sounds like no meaning at all to me. Far from the non-theist having to invent meaning, it seems to me it is the Christian who has invented a not very appealing meaning to attach to life.

          I even have my doubts about the extent of Christian commitment to this alleged meaning. Christians seem to be just as keen to cling on to this life as the rest of us and just as mournful when they lose loved ones. That’s only natural of course, but if you truly believed that you were destined for heaven, shouldn’t you eagerly anticipate both your own demise and those of your loved ones?

          “I believe the best one is First Cause”

          The First Cause is a logical fallacy. It says that everything needs a cause, except the thing that doesn’t. The Christian response to this logical fallacy is to distinguish between the natural realm, where causality appears to hold (although it does not do so at the quantum level) and a supernatural realm, which by definition is beyond scientific testability. In other words, a realm has to be invented where causality no longer applies.

          “All atheists must make the “leap of faith” that the “first cause” is physical in nature”

          No they don’t. There’s a much underrated phrase that I think would prevent a lot of problems in this world, namely “I don’t know”. I don’t know what the origin of our universe is. I do know that saying “god did it” does not address the problem. This is a God of the gaps arguments (in fact, almost all arguments for God are God of the gaps arguments). It takes probably the biggest and hardest unanswered question of all and postulates a hypothetical solution that is then conveniently placed beyond all testable verification.

          “Science” (not “atheism”) presumes a physical cause for everything. It’s a presumption that has worked well and has given you the device that you use to post on this blog. It seems a reasonable assumption to hold onto unless there is compelling evidence to do otherwise.

          “unexplainable miracles associated with holy people”

          Yet in all the millions of visits to Lourdes, not one amputee has ever regrown a limb. The statistical recovery rate seems to be no better than average.

          “the abject and undeniable evil that results from adopting atheism culturally”

          I’m really surprised you’re still advocating this as an argument. Name me ONE atheist culture that did not replace religion with some equally all pervasive ideology? Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao were all communist ideologues. They had they their own holy books that attempted to justify the end beyond the means. And please don’t cite the Nazis, we’ve done that one to death.

          Even if you are correct, that atheism leads to evil (and I don’t think Western Europe, which is as irreligious as any society has ever been is particularly evil), then all you are saying is that religion provides a proven means of social control. That does not mean that it’s claims are true.

          “Appeals to these mythical gods are ontologically and epistemologically the same as the appeal to unicorns, ”

          Your argument appears to be that we don’t need to believe in fairies because they fulfil no gaps in our understanding, whereas a belief in God does fill gaps in our understanding. If you’re happy with God of the gaps arguments then I can see why that might appeal to you. You essentially seem to be saying that you want God to exist because He can fulfil all sorts of gaps in your understanding and therefore you’re happy to believe that He does.

          The extent that you go to to differentiate between your God and unicorns, fairies, Thor, Zeus etc. is extremely unconvincing. I get the distinct impression that you really are struggling to distinguish between the God that you want to exist and the various imaginary concepts that you would like to be able to dismiss.

          • Karla

            Pedro frankly I am not interested in having a religious debate but I appreciate your reply, I’m going to my make my replies concise:

            You mourn because you miss the relationship with a loved person, who was important in your life. That in no way diminished our hope of continuing our relationship with them in eternity.

            Christians do care about this life because this life is a gift from God and God wants to use this life for its full potential. We are to protect all life here including the unborn.

            I recommend this article about Heaven by Peter Kreeft: http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/heaven.htm

            The First cause argument is not a logical fallacy. Its been defended by some of the greatest minds in philosophy in the Western world.

            Sophisticated defenders of the argument.

            As for your claim about he First Cause, you can not have an infinite regression of causes, there had to be a first cause, that itself was uncaused to get the whole thing moving some time in the past. So too with the universe. It was caused to exist in a specific point in time. The uncaused cause is God.

            During the middle Ages when there was no scientific evidence for the beginning of the Universe, philosophers presented purely philosophical arguments against the infinity of the past or an infinite regress of causes but with the advent of modern astrophysical cosmology it turns out that there is very good empirical evidence for the truth of the premise that the universe is not a necessarily contingent being, but is contingent in a radical way namely that it began to exist. We have philosophical argument and scientific confirmation of the key premise:

            1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
            2. The Universe began to exist.
            3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

            And a link to a good article on this:
            http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/first-cause.htm

            I am very bored of having the same conversation about these atheist dictators. Lenin said atheism was implicit to communism. That the two where inseparable. Just read the Communist manifesto.

            Western Europe was humanized through Christianity, Western’s Europe’s values are based on Christianity, not through paganism nor atheism, so even if Western Europe is irreligious those values are still there. They are ingrained in society.

            Regarding Lourdes and this is the end of the conversation for me, because I believe religious goes absolutely nowhere. I have never come an across an atheist who converted to Christianity through reason or argument alone.

            I am not an expert on miracles, I have never heard of an instance where an amputee has been healed, you would be better asking someone who has an expert on the knowledge of miracles in Lourdes, but the question is if I came across an article where am amputee said went to Lourdes claimed to have been healed I do not think you would believe it. You would claim that there was either a natural explanation or the person is lying.

            For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice. It’s a never ending circle with this type of reasoning. It’s a never ending circle with this type of reasoning. There is, and NEVER will be enough evidence. Anything that happened in the past is immediately discarded as myth. There are examples in the Bible of amputees being healed: Luke 22:49, Matthew 15, Luke 6:6. If the evidence that Christ himself healing amputees, whether it be 2000 years ago or 1300 years ago or 1000 years ago, wont placate the desires of atheists (and you) then what makes you think modern day miracles will work any better? An atheist will be satisfied with nothing less than they themselves personally witness an amputated limb be regenerated before their eyes because anything captured on film can be altered. If they were to witness such an event they would give the non answer of it was caused by some not yet understood genetic anomaly. Then they would move on to the next requirement of proof that requires extraordinary evidence.

            Ultimately, faith in God is not purely based on any logical arguments for or against, but on a personal experience that can be felt/ emotionally perceived. If this person has not felt this, argument may remove barriers to accepting it once it is felt, but won’t convince him or her.

            I deny Zeus’s existence because the evidence of the Bible overwhelmingly convinces me that it is true and since I believe it to be true, and because it says there is only one God, by default all others do not exist.

            This took a long time to post, a few hours at least, I can not do it again sorry. The end.

          • Pedro

            “Ultimately, faith in God is not purely based on any logical arguments for or against”

            Well, at least we can agree on something.

    • Tim H

      “And then you get the second kind of atheist, they practice atheism, it takes work and effort. They complain about Christmas trees, and nativity scenes, and Catholic leader’s visits, even though they do not complain about any other religion’s leaders visiting, even radical Imams are of no care to them. This is sadly the majority of atheists today.”

      You are attaking a strawman athiest who does not exist.

      I have nevr met an atheist who complains about Christmas trees (which of course are not a Christain symbol anyway) or an athist who does not celebrate Xhrsitams (or at least a non-religious celberation that they choose to call Christmas).

      Most atheists are more worried about radical islam then mainstream Christainity. Even “Dawkins” refres to Catholicism as “the worlds second worst religion” and leaves you in no doubt as to which religion occupies the number one spot.

      The recent state visit of the Pope has focused attention and criticism on Catholicm recently but athism is not less willing to criticise other religions when neccessary. I think that you are confusing athism with the left-liberal media elite who can be pro-islam and who annoy most atheists by being so.

      • Karla

        Well just because you haven’t met them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I have heard of an atheist who moaned about Christmas trees because they promote Christianity, which was a retarded thing to say because Christmas trees aren’t really Christian in origin.

        I hardly ever see an atheist concerned about Islam, its mostly Christianity.

        I do not really care who athiests attack, it does not affect me.

        I was just making an observation.

        • Tim H

          “Well just because you haven’t met them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I have heard of an atheist who moaned about Christmas trees because they promote Christianity, which was a retarded thing to say because Christmas trees aren’t really Christian in origin”

          On a plannet fo 7 Billion people I do not doubt that a few of them do exist, but that is hardly the point. If you are going to make sweeping statements about atheists (or a certain kind of atheist) complaing abouut Christmas trees then is is not unreasonable for me to dismiss your statement as hearsey unless you are able to substantiate it.

          • Karla

            I said I have ”heard of an atheist.” That symbolizes one doesn’t it? Although I am sure there are others, I said one. That is not generalizing.

  • marissa k

    great comment, Karla!

  • louella

    What some atheists really hate is Christ God Himself…..and His Church because they know it is true. They would rather be left alone in their own sordid little la la lands and not reminded of the Truth. It offends them as it offends Satan.

    But the Truth is inescapable. And atheism leads to oblivion. Otherwise why the hate?!

    • Pedro

      “What some atheists really hate is Christ God Himself”

      How can I hate something that doesn’t exist?

      “They would rather be left alone in their own sordid little la la lands and not reminded of the Truth.”

      What arrogance, to think that you alone have “the Truth”.

      “It offends them as it offends Satan.”

      Who also doesn’t exist.

      “And atheism leads to oblivion.”

      I’m still here.

  • sam

    brillaint post pedro

  • SpeSalvi23

    Eieieiei… I went through puberty with two very stubborn sons… this type of comment reminds me of a couple of thirteen year olds, stomping their foot like Rumpelstiltskin.

    I think the ‘problem’ with atheists is very simple. They do believe that they’re the more educated, more grown up people, who don’t have to cling to some fabricated security blanket to get them through the troubles and struggles of life. They’re stronger, smarter, progressive and not stuck in the dark ages.

    But, I think they fail to realize that the ‘universe created itself by accident and the sheer force of gravity’ theory is horrendously simplistic and groundless. And, without any real, deep knowledge of religion, they spout half meditated, uneducated sound bites.

    It seems to make them extremely aggressive when they encounter believers who will not be ‘turned’ or ‘enlightened’, regardless of whatever intelligent or, as we can see here, not really intelligent but childe-like sullen/defiant commentary, they will throw at Christians.
    There are exceptions. Open minded people, who are possibly still on the search for something they might regard as some type of ‘guiding force’ of the Universe.

    Personally, I have no problem with atheists. I do wonder what their problem with believers is, since they are so open and progressive and keen on equality.

    Maybe their aggressiveness is really a sign of a deeply rooted emptiness… ?? Who knows.

  • sam

    Atheism isn’t a sign of deep rooted emptiness, my belief is that quint essentially a belief that a god made the universe is a illogical position to take since there is no evidence of that being the truth. The world and the universe aren’t in perfect tandem and the world has serious problems due to the way the planet is, as well as the planet will inevitably die one day.

    I believe that if we reason and try to sue logic then one day we might know some of what goes on, the beauty about science is that it is ever changing and evolving, it admits when it has made a mistake and moves on and tries to find the asnwer, however religion can’t do this as if it admits it got it wrong about god then they have nothing, indeed one post on here celebrated that the doctrines haven’t changed in 2,000 years.

    • Karla

      Science can explain the how, it can not explain the way.

      Modern science would not even exist if it was not for Christianity. You should be thanking Christianity for modern science.

      • Pedro

        “Modern science would not even exist if it was not for Christianity.”

        And I was beginning to think you didn’t have a sense of humour.

        • Karla

          I know it is not something athiests like to admit but if it was not for the Christian world view, Christianity, modern science would of never come about

          I recommend this article, go to the chapter on the origin of science:

          http://www.leaderu.com/science/helweg.html

          • louella

            So right Carla. Science and Christianity go hand in hand….history shows it. Modern science developed within Christendom only. A very strange and non PC fact. Nobody likes to mention it at school or university. They sweep it under the carpet instead. LOL.

  • sam

    why was my comment deleted? please can you also tell me why I was banned alst time and tell me which lies I told? you know my email

  • SpeSalvi23

    Here is something a bit more classy for a change:

    “The universe is not the result of chance, as some want to make us believe.
    Contemplating it (the universe), we are invited to read something profound in it — the wisdom of the Creator, the inexhaustible imagination of God, his infinite love for us,”

    “We shouldn’t let our minds be limited by theories that always only go so far and that, if we look carefully, aren’t at all in contradiction with faith but do not succeed in explaining the ultimate sense of reality,”

    Benedict XVI – January 6th 2011

    Enough said.

    • Pedro

      “The universe is not the result of chance,”

      How is argument by assertion classy? Pope Benedict no more knows whether the universe was created by random chance than you, I, or anyone else does.

      • louella

        Logic alone will tell you the Universe couldn’t have been created by chance. To believe that something so intricate and complex was created by chance is laughable and illogical…..just like atheism!!!

        • Pedro

          Which was precisely the argument used for the complexity of life before Darwin discovered otherwise and it is wrong for precisely the same reason.

          And I suspect that if I called Catholicism “laughable and illogical” I would get a rapid, and justifiable, rebuke from Deacon Nick, but then if all you can do is shout out names then there’s very little point in taking anything that you say seriously.

  • Tim H

    Karla,

    Whilst I do not buy your simplistic – Good atheist/Bad atheist argument you are perfectly correct and it is rather obvious that some atheists are more pleasant, decent, better behaved and politer than others. But you could say the same about Christians too as well couldn’t you?

    What interests me as a secularist is that there is a free-market of ideas and a level playing field for everyone’s views whether they are religious or atheist ideas. If you don’t support that principle then I can’t see how you can claim to support human equality, human freedom or respect for the individual’s dignity and mental integrity.

    I think (and I suspect you will disagree, but) that the playing field is currently tilted in favour of religion. Both you and Nick have posted above to object to atheists “mocking” religion. But to give you an example, there is a poster at my local railway station that says, quoting the Bible “the fool hath said in his heart that there is no God”. Presumably you would regard that poster as legitimate religious expression and part of rights to freedom to manifest ones belief. And I would completely agree with you and I am perfectly happy for people to pay for that kind of poster if they want to. But the level playing field demands that it ought to be equally allowable to stick up a poster saying “heartfelt-Christians are fools” or “Catholics are stupid”. I suspect that if I did that at a railway station I would be getting a visit from the Police, and yet if Christians want to be able to continue to mock, insult challenge and criticize Atheists (and I sincerely hope that they do – after all it is a positive think having your deeply help beliefs challenged both intellectually and irreverently) then they have no right to complain when they are also mocked, challenged or insulted.

    What posters have the “new” atheists been putting up? The rather mild “there is probably no God, enjoy your life” which attracted Christian complains and the “Be good without God” posters which Karla seems to think are unacceptable. There is no level playing field here. It is fundamentally unjust to expect someone else to grant you respect for your actions or opinions if you are not willing to do the same for them.

    Christians mock, insult and belittle atheists so regularly I don’t think they even realize that they are doing it. And for most atheists it is simply water off a ducks back, so it is perfectly acceptable to characterize atheism as infantile but if you do the same about Christians you will get complaints. Let me quote SpecSalvi23 above who says “I went through puberty with two very stubborn sons… this type of comment reminds me of a couple of thirteen year olds, stomping their foot like Rumpelstiltskin” , thereby dismissing atheism as infantile nonsense. But only two lines earlier the SpecSalvi23 complained of atheists viewing Christians as “stuck in the dark ages”. She is of course perfectly allowed to take this contradictory position just so long as I can point out its inherent hypocrisy (unconscious I am sure as this kind of thinking is so ingrained in our culture for no better reason than habit)

    That is sauce for the goose must be allowed to become sauce for the Gander. This matters far more to be than which side is factually right which I why I am much more forceful as a secularist rather than an atheist (I am happy to be called an atheist but it is a largely personal matter, whereas secularism is a public political position).

    • Karla

      Tim you have completely misunderstood me.

      If you think the only thing athiests have been up to to mock religion is to put a few signs up on buses then your really not seeing the bigger picture. I don’t have a problem with you having your view, all I was doing was showing the difference in the new atheism and old atheism for which I described already. There is a clear difference.

      I don’t think Christians mock athiests. I do think some of us question this form of new atheism.

      • Tim H

        …and all I was doing was showing a double standard. I would not be allowed to publish something staying, “Catholics are fools. They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.”

        and yet every church in the country has a book in it which say exactly the same thing about atheists (go read Psalm 14)

    • Karolina

      Tim,

      Actually I’ve noticed some disrespectful comments on both sides too, and I agree with you, but I don’t think it is positive to have one’s views challenged irreverently. There should be no occasion for that sort of thing. They can be challenged of course, but I hope that each side will have the decency not to attack the other and to be respectful. If you ever see me write something that you or others might find rude or disrespectful I would like you to tell me. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you, right?

      • Tim H

        Absolutely right.

        I would add that just because something is permitted (and I think that offense might sometimes be permitted legally under principles of free speech) doesn’t be that we ought to be doing it all the time for no good reason.

        I think that the most important principle to consider is whether our not your actions are dehumanising of their target. offense on its own might be upsetting, but the kind of speech that crosses the line from causing tears to be shed to blood being shed is that which doesn’t just attack the belief but which attacks the believer as somehow being less human.

  • sam

    If a loving god did create the universe then he is ultimately not a bright chap is he? he created a world with not enough water, land or resources to supply the amount of humanity and he creates a world which is going to die one day because of the sun. He also created a world in which harsh weather conditions kill thousands if not millions over the years and has created diseases which kill millions as well. This kind of evidence makes me believe that if he did exist then he would be a cruel creator and one which i would be glad not to worship.

    • louella

      You should have listened better in Christian doctrine class methinks! God created perfection in the beginning….but deceitful man was not deserving of it…so was evicted to a Fallen less perfect world which reflected his own fallen nature better.

      • Pedro

        Odd that God didn’t realise that was going to happen.

      • sam

        It is also odd that he will punish us with our utter annihilation, the planet and the solar system, he is condemning other species to destruction as well as us. There is less perfect and completely flawed and destined to destruction which this planet is.

    • Karla

      Because God gave us free will. If you read the first chapter of Genesis it is basically an allegory for sin, and how man departed from God using his own free will. But God does not want humans to be robots, He wants us to choose for ourselves.

      We pollute our atmosphere, contaminate our food sources, we eat the wrong foods laced with additives and dangerous fats. We succumb to stress, and a whole range of things we do over time can even damage our genes and sometimes we pass on those damaged genes to our descendants.

      A great many things that humans blame God for, are caused in some form or other by humans.

      The beauty of Christianity, is that the living God of the Universe closed the gap between the divine and the human condition, by becoming a human Himself.

    • Karolina

      Quote taken from Radio Replies First Volume by Fathers Rumble and Carty:

      “Question: What becomes of God when you think of the misery and starvation in the world?

      Response: …Inability to comprehend every detail in the universe does not prove that there is no God, but merely the limited capacity of the finite human mind. However, the human mind can propose certain principles which go a long way towards the removal of difficulties.
      Firstly, evil is really the negation or privation of good, and if there is evil in the world, there is also much good which can be accounted for only by the existence of God.
      Secondly, the fluctuation of this mutable life cannot affect God’s existence. I mean that you cannot have God when things seem to be all right, and annihilate Him when things seem to go wrong. If God exists before things go wrong, He still exists despite the unhappiness of an individual. And note that word individual. Viewing the race as a whole, we find that life is a mixture of comforatble and uncomfortable things. When we are happy, others are suffering. When we are suffering, others are happy. And we cannot say that God is existing for the happy ones, and simultaneoulsy not existing for the unhappy ones. We must not take local and individual views only, but a univeral outlook.
      Thirdly, and particularly as regards the uneven distribution of this world’s goods with consequent starvation for some, God’s providence has not failed. Man’s administration is at fault. Whilst individuals suffer want, we know that the world has produced enough wheat, fruit, meat, and wool to feed and clothe everyone. God has not failed to provide enough to fill every mouth. But He has given this world over to the administration of men, and it is their bad management they must correct rather than blame God. At least their incapable administration should teach them the saving grace of humility.”

  • Karla

    Pedro, no it is not, I have never come across atheist who converted to Christianity because of argument alone. Something changed in their heart first. Christianity is about a relationship with the living God of the universe and you can’t get at that strict empirical science reasoning, because God is not empirical in nature. As I said to Sam already, science can explain the the how not the why.

  • sam

    because we live in a system that doesn’t have a why, why would one be so arrogant to believe that the world was created because of us? If we replayed history more than likely we wouldn’t be here.

  • Karla

    Because humans alone have these questions, why are we here, who are we etc. There definitely is a why. And no, it is not arrogant.

  • sam

    yes it is arrogant, we are just one level higher up the evolutionary scale how does that make us special exactly?

    • Karla

      Why is it arrogant to question why we are here, what is the meaning of life etc. ?

      Animals do not question. They just eat and sleep and that is it.

  • anna

    Sometimes people who have had a poor relationship with their father, parents or authority in general find difficult to believe or trust in God. That so many still do, in spite of all they have been through, is a miracle to me and I praise the One who sustains them.

  • SpeSalvi23

    Gridlock!!

    Is it possible to agree to disagree.
    I don’t see the point in finger pointing and hair splitting.
    Positions are quite clear and firm and have been stated over and over.
    Minds will not be changed, however clever and insightful agruments may be and no matter how many links will be provided.

    As Karla correctly mentioned:

    all conversion starts from the heart and eventually takes over the reluctant, hesitant, ever questioning mind. Mine did, as well.

    Christianity has a big emotional dimension: a personal, loving relationship with Christ, which is essential and strong.
    I think this aspect is not really considered by many non-believers and it adds an emotional level to debate, which should rally only be conducted in pure rationalism.
    But how do you avoid emotions when the core point of the debate a person you love? Impossible.

  • sam

    It is not arrogant to question the meaning of life but to claim that life is created for us and around us in unbelievably arrogant. We will die or become superseded like any other species or if not that our planet will eventually die. I have a very open and honest relationship with my parents and have never had any problem with authority, it’s just I don’t believe in a man who created us and is all knowing yet pathetic enough to judge how we live our lives even though we die anyway.

    • Karla

      I do not think it is arrogant. God created this world, and human take the special center place in it. That doesn’t meant that other animals are not important but they do not have a soul.

  • sam

    other animals don’t have souls? Please just look at your comment then you might realise how unbelievably arrogant that is, also if we have a special place how come we are destined to die just like anything else when the earth dies?

    • Karla

      No according to Catholic theology, we do not believe animals have souls. It is not arrogant. Animals are animals, for the most part they do not have morality, they do not have reason, they do not have culture. Humans do take a special place on this planet.

  • sam

    However they do have a personality, I am not convinced anything such as a soul exists, I believe that we have a personality but that is about it. Also how do you know animals don’t have reason? we can study animals but we can’t know, some animals do have reason and some may have culture.

    • Karolina

      Sam,

      If you study a human person you will find that they posses a body. The body obtains all its information through its senses: eyes, ears, taste, touch, smell. But it is reasonable to believe that the human person also has a soul. The soul possess certain faculties such as the imagination, the will, the memory, personality, etc. We cannot know these things by our senses alone, but undoubtedly we can know that they exist. If you picture with your imagination your favourite place in the world, close your eyes if you like and picture it. Now, everything you see “in your minds eye” has been supplied to your imagination through information obtained by your bodily senses, but you can see it as if it is before you, right? There must be a part of you that is higher than your senses, for it cannot be seen, felt, heard, tasted or smelled. I mean, a dead body cannot move or sleep, etc, it can only decompose, right? But you and I are alive, there is something that is stoping us from decomposing right now, and that something is your soul. A doctor cannot examine a dead body and tell you what chemical or physical component is missing that prevents the body from living. If there is nothing to the human person but the physical, then why cannot we not create life like in Frankenstien by just comibing all the physical ingredients? Nothing will happen because their is nothing animating the body. Think of it like a television set, all the parts may be there, but their is no electricity to power the system.
      If you look someone in the eye, can’t you read something within them that is beyond their physical atributes, something that cannot be seen, but still known?
      Actually, I think it is reasonable to suppose that plants and animals do have a certian kind of soul. Pplants have a vegetative soul, animals have a sensitive animal soul, but human beings have an immortal, spiritual and intelligent human soul. The is a vast difference between a human soul and an animal soul. I mean, animals do not build monuments to their dead heros or study other animals habits or build elaborate and complex machines, perform complex surgery or travel to outer space. It is beyond animal and plant nature, but not beyond man’s nature. Just so, God can create a universe perfectly ordered in every smallest detail and create beings to inhabit it. It is within His nature to do so, but it is beyond man’s nature. So belief in God is not against reason, it is above human reason.

    • Karla

      We know we have a soul:

      1. we are acquainted with abstract objects (sets, propositions, numbers, properties, etc.). material entities cannot be acquainted with immaterial entities. therefore there is some immaterial principle of knowing. we call it the “soul”.

      2. we make free choices. a choice is free only if it is not caused – if there are at least two possible worlds that are identical to the point that the choice is made, but each of which contains a different choice. the physical world is deterministic – i.e. operates according to strict covering laws. therefore the principle of choosing cannot be physical. we call the choosing thing the “soul”.

      Reason means to hve a rational motive for a belief or action .Where is this demonsrated in animals?

      Culture is art, beliefs, values, attitudes etc. Where is this demonstrated in animals?

      It has nothing to do with arrogance and we don’t have to “think” if we are above animals. Its a reality. We KNOW we are above animals. Its a Church teaching that God gave us dominion over animals and we are allowed to kill them food and clothing.
      It is also a Church teaching that from creation only humans have a supernatural end. That means animals do not have a supernatural end and their souls cease to exist when they die.

  • sam

    I don’t believe we make a free choice in our lives, our choices are always influenced by an outside factor. All of those things you mentioned are part of a personality not a soul Karolina, the memory isn’t really soul Karolina.

    Animals certainly have attitudes and values to things no doubt. If we acted on rationality alone then we would certainly be more like animals, they act rationally when sometimes in order to save themselves they eat their young so they can produce more in order to survive. This can be because they have no food and there isn’t anything left thus they would starve, now because i am not purely rational (none of us are) I wouldn’t do that, I would rather starve however animals don’t do this.

    We will one day die out or be superseded and we may be viewed upon by everyone as just animals then because that is what we are. We have just evolved to a level where we can stand on two feet and use our hands, as well as our slightly larger frontal lobe.

    • Karolina

      Sam,

      I never said the memory IS a soul, I said that it was PART of the soul, like your hand is part of your body. The soul possess faculties which include the memory, imagination, emotions, personality and most importantly free will. We cannot see these things, certainly we know that they exist. Just because you cannot see something does not mean that it does not exist. I have never been to Hong Kong, but I know that it exists because I accept the authority of those who have been there and can attest to its reality. Now when you say that you don’t think we have a free choice, do you mean that you don’t think that we are free from influences when making a choice or that everything we do is involuntary and that we have no choice at all, because there is a very great difference between the two. Of course we are never free from influences, good or bad, but we certainly are able to make decisions and to CHOOSE whether or not to follow one influence or another.
      I don’t think animals ever act rationally, they act instinctively. Animals cannot use reason, they do not sit down and think “Gee, there really are too many offspring in this pack and not enough food to support us all, maybe I ought to eat some of them.” Everything a animal does is driven by instinct, not a reason. A human being is more than just an animal because of his ability to use reason and to understand that his actions have consequences. If man is just another animal that has evolved through a natural process, then how come we are the only ones? Why do we not have intellectual arguments with dolphins or engineering contests with spiders? Why is man the only animal in creation to have evolved to such a high level? No, it is not reasonable to suppose that man is just an animal that has evolved to his present state through natural means. It just does not make sense.

    • Karla

      The very fact that you seek to argue for or against free will demonstrates that, at the very least, you and me who are involved in the conversation really believe we have free will. Otherwise, what is the point of arguing?

      Definition of insanity: a nation that will allow animals to be equal to humans, but permits newborns to be cut apart as they are emerging from their mothers’ wombs.

      The Church has never denied that we are animal beings–flesh and blood. And animal life does operate by instinct. We humans, though, are not mere animals, we are also eternal souls and are created in the image of God, so what we are taught by our parents is more than instinct, although each of us is endowed with the sense of right and wrong (natural law), which the animal world does not have.

      A lot of animals do things that to human beings are considered and wrong such as eating their young etc. Human beings would not eat their young. It is considered immoral and wrong.

  • Herman Cummings

    Guest Article -The Truth of Genesis: A Challenge Given to the Pope!

    A while ago, there was a website article someone wrote called “Herman
    Cummings Challenges the Whole World”. It related to the twin exposal
    articles (“The Hypocrisy of Young Earth Creationism”, & “The Infidelity
    of Old Earth Creationism”), which identified both the false and foolish
    doctrines of current Creationism. I challenged all creationist groups
    around the world to come together, learn the truth of scripture, and unite
    in the fight against the atheistic scientific conclusion of the evolution
    theory.

    Unfortunately, no one accepted the challenge. Therefore, my next article
    issued an “Indigenous Galactic Network Challenge” (“Termination Notice:
    The End of Evolution”), proclaiming the coming end of the monopoly of
    the evolution theory in our human culture. Since none of the creationist
    groups wanted to repent, and forsake their false teachings, I decided to
    “launch out into battle” without them, inviting the world of evolution to a
    public “face-off”, armed only with the truth of God’s Written Word. No
    evolutionist entity accepted my challenge, not even the National Center
    for Science Education. They have been ducking me for years. Their motto
    is “Defending the teaching of Evolution in Public Schools”.

    Afterwards, there was a challenge to La Sierra University, after they were
    in the news concerning their curriculum. They were supposed to be
    associated with the Seventh Day Adventists, but they were apparently only
    teaching evolution in their biology classes.

    I first had written to them in April 2010, and no one responded. I now wrote
    to them a year later (the admin office and 15 science professors), once again
    challenging them to host the 62 minute PowerPoint presentation named the
    “Observations of Moses”, which removes all confusion between what
    Moses saw and what science has discovered. It was an opportunity for
    them to again get into “good standing” with their parent organization. But I
    received only one “weak” response, from a professor that said he didn’t
    remember my first letter. Yet regardless, they refused the challenge, along
    with Texas Tech University, whom I had forwarded the same letter.

    Next, I issued a challenge to the Jews, in both America and Israel.

    Over a year ago, in February 2010, I sent the presentation to the Sanhedrin
    in Israel. I had told them that their planned Jerusalem Temple Mount
    sacrifices would be just a big joke if they themselves didn’t believe the
    scriptures. In fact, my exact words were “If you, and the rest of the
    Sanhedrin, do not embrace the historical truth of Genesis, and refuse to
    correctly convey that truth to the nation of Israel (and the rest of the world), the Sanhedrin is unfit to govern and judge the people. You are no better than a glorified council of the ungodly, denying the truth of Moses and the Prophets. Do you want legitimacy, both at home and abroad? Then
    stop hiding under the bed of ignorance, and resolve this (evolution) issue.”

    So, they asked for the presentation, and it “blew them away”. They
    thought it was impossible to reconcile the literal reading of Genesis
    chapter one with scientific reality. Yet there is was, right in their lap.
    But just like hypocrites, they saw it as a problem, rather than an opportunity. After they calmed down, and saw if they now embraced the truth, that they would now have to admit to the world that the venerated rabbi patriarchs of yesteryear did not understand the scriptures, and had been misleading the people. So in order to “save the dead”, they’d have to let the living “die in ignorance”. Therefore they tabled the issue.

    Now, coming back to the present, I issued another challenge (“Who Do
    You Believe…, Darwin or Moses?”) to rabbis & Jewish organizations, and
    sent it to synagogues and Jewish publications, both in the USA and Israel.
    I got one response…, from a rabbi who said to “take me off your mailing
    list”. I wrote back and said “Why? Is it because you don’t believe in God?”.

    It is actually embarrassing that “God’s Chosen People” fail to even consider
    that Bereshit is literally true. It’s so sad, that the leadership of the Jews is so cynical of the sacred scriptures. In Exodus 32:9, it says “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:”. In Isaiah 30:9 it says “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:”. Can you imagine being married to such a spouse? It’s no wonder the Jews are now a widow.

    So, who is there left to challenge? I’ve already written the White House,
    Congress, US Dept. of Education, every state Governor, state legislature,
    and state boards of education, along with state science education organizations. Let’s not forget the colleges, universities, seminaries, various local school boards, high schools, middle schools, churches, synagogues, secular and religious publications,…and the list goes on.

    Well, it seems that the Vatican tries to tell the people to believe the Holy
    Scriptures (Creative Reason), but not to believe in them literally. What? In 1st Corinthians 14:8, is says “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”. In the game of basketball, there is what’s called a “double dribble”.

    So, now leaving the region of our “network of galaxies”, I offer this Universal Challenge!! The term “Catholic”, basically means “the Universal Church”. So it’s only fitting that the Vatican (the Pope) should be the object of this challenge. The leadership of the Jews failed (or were too scared) to accept my earlier taunt. I now publically announce this new ultimatum. “Yea, let God’s (Written Word) be true, but every man a iar;”.

    To Pope Benedict XVI, in Vatican City!! Come to America, where mankind first learned the truth of motorized flight. Leave the confounds of the Holy See, and visit the USA, where mankind first learned of the truth of our Moon, and bought back rock samples from an alien world for all mankind to view. Now, amend your schedule, and journey to “the fruited plain”. Let God mend your every flaw. Confirm thy soul, in self control…, thy liberty in (God’s) Law.

    Come to America, and see for yourself, that the Word of Genesis is
    literally true, and the conclusions of science (and doctrines of current
    Creationism) are false. Come and see the “Observations of Moses”, so
    that you can then declare to all the people, that God created all, in just 144 hours, and that repentance is now in order.

    Herman Cummings
    ephraim7@aol.com

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