Whenever a pope talks about the devil it’s important that we pay close attention

During his penultimate angelus address Pope Benedict talked about the influence of the devil on modern society and on our lives, clearly indicating that the devil is a malign influence behind the ascendancy of secularist atheism and the secularist agendas and policies being pursued:

These temptations are also false images of man that threaten to ensnare our conscience, in the guise of suitable, effective and even good proposals. The Evangelists Matthew and Luke present three temptations of Jesus that differ slightly, but only in their order. Their essential core is always the exploitation of God for our own interests, giving preference to success or to material possessions. The tempter is cunning. He does not directly impel us towards evil but rather towards a false good, making us believe that the true realities are power and everything that satisfies our primary needs. In this way God becomes secondary, he is reduced to a means; in short, he becomes unreal, he no longer counts, he disappears. Ultimately, in temptation faith is at stake because God is at stake. At the crucial moments in life but also, as can be seen at every moment, we stand at a crossroads: do we want to follow our own ego or God? Our individual interests or the true Good, to follow what is really good?

Therefore let us not be afraid either of facing the battle against the spirit of evil: the important thing is to fight it with him, with Christ, the Conqueror. And to be with him let us turn to his Mother, Mary; let us call on her with filial trust in the hour of trial and she will make us feel the powerful presence of her divine Son, so that we can reject temptations with Christ’s word and thus put God back at the centre of our life.

Protect the Pope comment: Whenever a pope talks about the devil its important that we pay close attention to what he is saying because rightly papal homilies focus on the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Pope Leo XIII, Pope Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have exhorted the faithful to take spiritual combat with Satan seriously. Now, more than ever, this is essential for the Church, facing the appalling crimes of child sexual abuse by clergy, the high levels of dissent and apostasy, the ascendancy of atheistic secularism and the violent hatred of the Church and Christianity. St. Michael defend us in the hour of battle.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2013/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20130217_en.html

 

73 comments to Whenever a pope talks about the devil it’s important that we pay close attention

  • Ian

    What a load of absolute drivel! If the product of medieval demonology dreamt up by the RCC in the middle ages were true why aren’t I, as an atheist, as evil as you would like to believe. And, are you stating that the hundreds, if not thousands, of Roman Catholic Priests and Nuns who abused untold numbers of the innocent did not have faith strong enough to stay on the straight and narrow path? And what of those within the RCC when put all their energy into protecting the guilty insttead of defending the innocent?

    You really should think these points through before you commit yourself to print.

    In 1974 whilst I was a Police Officer I was one of a small group of officers who had to deal with the killing of an innocent woman when her husband was talked into an exorcism because he had fallen in love with a woman who was not his wife; he was told it was the ‘demon of lust’! He gouged out her eyes, tore out her tongue and then ripped her face from her skull all with his bare hands. Before the exorcism he was confused over his feelings for thsi other woman, he was neither ill not was he possessed. He was the innocent victim of two religiously deluded individuals. Fortunately their two daughters were staying with his wife’s mother or he would probably have added them to his tally.

    Professor Trethowan, Chair of the Dept of Psychiatry, at the time descrbed the incident as a false psychosis because the symptoms disappeared very shortly afterwards without the nedd for therapy.

    I would love to be able to drag you back to that house and make you see the damage that beliefs like yours can do. And just think of th trauma suffered by the Police Officers involved, the ambulance team, doctors and not least the family, two little girls aged 4 and 6 years of age.

    Perhaps you might just have an inkling why rational thinking people detest religion.

    • (X)MCCLXIII

      Now then, Ian.

      Rational people don’t detest religion – take me for example. Very rational chap, I am. Proper good mind, I have: logical, thoughtful, reasonable. And I’m a faithful catholic, to boot.

      Your rant, on the other hand, was anything but rational. I’m sorry for your trauma, and the evil things you have seen. I’m fortunate that I haven’t had that experience, although I am aware of the effects that kind of thing can have. But that doesn’t excuse the dishonesty of your post. It’s a shoddy caricature of the Holy Father’s preaching, it’s historically ignorant, and it’s deeply offensive. I’m sorry for it, and for you.

    • Darryl

      Hi Ian

      I am a rational logical thinking person who doesn’t detest religion, or more specifically Christianity. In fact I fully endorse it because it is rational. I am sure there are many others of like mind.

      It is historically inaccurate to assert that demonology was invented by the Catholic Church in the middle ages. In fact it predates the Catholic Church.

      It is exaggeration to state that hundreds or thousands abuse innocents, do you have their list of names?

      You seem to have on a set of glasses that filters out the really serious crimes committed on a far larger constant scale by athiests against innocents. Abortion, people killing their own children before taking their own life, killing spouses, killing neighbours and the newspapers print these stories like its just norm and then its forgotten tomorrow.

      But media reports by MSM on the Catholic Church suggest that there is some form of global conspiracy of evil which there isn’t.

      I don’t see how rational thinking people can believe that, and at the same time ignore the consequences of secular athiesm so easy.

      I pray God might remove those glasses.

    • Denis

      Ian I really am sorry for what you suffered, but to blame the horrifying incident you witnessed on the religious makes no more sense than to blame atheists for the madness of Stalin or Pol Pot. Sadly human beings are capable of doing terrible things; Catholics believe this is a result of human weakness and in the example you mention totally misguided belief. May I just sayI have met a great many very principled atheists and do not seek ever to suggest that their opinion is invalid. The exception I make is perhaps for playground bully Richard Dawkins and his publicity seeking friends.

      • Ian

        Denis, Yes I am blaming the religious for for the horrifyinbg incident because the religious are the only ones who believe in demonic possession.

        Stalin was indeed an evil man but he did attend a seminary. But with anything Russian you have to take in a wider context, simply put, perhaps very over simplified the assassination of the Romanovs created a vacuum, Stalin filled that vacuum and then set about wiping out anyone who whom he thought was against him. But what he did he did because that was his nature and not because he was an atheist.

        • Denis

          “What he did he did because that was his nature and not because he was an atheist”
          That’s actually my point, though perhaps I didn’t put it clearly. Some people who happen to be Christian do some pretty terrible things. some people who happen to be atheists do some pretty terrible things. The label they give themselves is often entirely irrelevant.

    • Lynda

      Those Catholic priests found guilty of sexually abusing children were acting in defiance of the Natural Law and Church law, disgracing themselves as priests and men. They followed the relativistic lie which leads inexorably to might is right. However, their proportion is much lower than people in general or any other group one might wish to take.

  • fintan michael

    I WAS A POLICEMAN IN AFRICA FOR MANY YEARS AND I WITNESSED MANY TERRIBLE THINGS DONE BY WITCHDOCTORS AND THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE OCCULT. SOME OF THE PEOPLE DOING THIS STUFF HAD LITTLE OR NO KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST AND I CAN ONLY SAY THAT WHEN CHRISTIANITY CAME TO A VILLAGE THINGS IMPROVED GREATLY AND WE WERE NOT NEEDED HALF AS MUCH AS BEFORE. IAN YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE AN ATHEIST BUT ACTUALLY NOT MANY ARE ACTUALLY REAL ATHEISTS. SOMETIMES ATHEISTS EVEN HAVE A STRONGER BELIEF IN A POWER GREATER THEN THEMSELVES THEN CHRISTIANS. FOR EXAMPLE EINSTEINS SECOND LAW OF ENERGY I.E. THAT ENERGY CANNOT BE CREATED OR DESTROYED. IF YOU ACCEPT THAT YOU SIMPLY BELIEVE THERE IS AN ALPHA AND OMEGA POWER THAT PERMEATES THE UNIVERSE AND THIS POWER GIVES YOU INTELLIGENCE. THAT IN ITSELF IS A GOD CONCEPT FULL STOP AND NOT MANY MEN WILL REFUTE EINSTEIN. NOW I AM NONE TOO SURE ABOUT THE CASE YOU DEALT WITH BUT CERTAINLY IN AFRICA POSSESSION IS NOT UNCOMMON AND EXORCISM DOES WORK. I HAVE SEEN IT AND IT IS VERY FRIGHTENING. NOW YOU IF THEIR IS A DEVIL HE IS CUNNING BAFFLING AND VERY POWERFUL AND CERTAINLY HE WAS AT WORK ON THE CASE YOU WERE INVOLVED IN. WHETHER IT WAS GENUINE POSSESSION OR MADNESS I DO NOT KNOW BUT HE HAS MANAGED TO BAFFLE YOU. NOW IAN EVIL WAS AROUND A LONG TIME BEFORE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND IT KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES. IT CAN TAKE HOLD OF THOSE IN THE CHURCH JUST AS MUCH AS THOSE OUTSIDE AND AS A MATTER OF FACT IT SOMETIMES ATTACKS THE CHURCH MORE THEN ANY OTHER INSTITUTION. IF YOU ARE HOWEVER GOING TO ATTACK EVIL GREAT BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO JUST ATTACK THE EVIL AND NOT ATTACK 1.2 BILLION PEOPLE WHO MAKE UP THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OR THAT YOU ACCUSE THEM OF EVIL BELIEFS. YOU SEE THAT IN ITSELF IS EVIL. SO THE CUNNING BAFFLING ONE HAS PLAYED YOU VERY WELL AS A RESULT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Hi Fintan, it’s best to make your comments in lower case not capitals. It makes it easier to read and doesn’t suggest shouting. Deacon Nick

  • Michael B Rooke

    Satan. The Catholic Encyclopaedia gives

    For the Greek word (from diaballein, “to traduce”) means a slanderer, or accuser, and in this sense it is applied to him of whom it is written “the accuser [ho kategoros] of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night” (Apocalypse 12:10). It thus answers to the Hebrew name Satan which signifies an adversary, or an accuser.

    Rev12:10
    10 Then I heard a voice crying aloud in heaven, The time has come; now we are saved and made strong, our God reigns, and power belongs to Christ, his anointed; the accuser of our brethren is overthrown. (Douai-Rheims)

  • Ian

    Deacon Donnelly, thank you for re-posting.

    Whilst I am preparing my response to the above comments this video might shed a little light.

    Possibly not for those of a weak or nervous disposition, but Fintan might get the most from it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVLSzzB43m4

    Regards

    Ian

    By the way Darryl, without my glasses I would be truly disdadvantaged and possibly unable to study anything!

  • Ian

    Spoilsport! However the reason for my posting the video was to indicate that although the Exorist is just a film that there a rational explanation for things that might appear to be otherwise

  • Deacon Nick Donnelly

    Ian, if you read the Catholic Church’s rules governing the rite of exorcism, those involved in assessing the case start off with the presumption that there is a rational explanation. A psychologist is often involved in the assessment of the case. It is only when natural causes have been exhausted that supernatural causes are examined. Deacon Nick

  • Ian

    We’re working from entirely diferent perspectives. Israel Finklestein, Professor of Archeology for many years at Tel Aviv and Director of the site at Megiddo always impresses upon his students: ‘There are two types of Archeologist. The first goes into the field waving his Holy book in one hand and a trowel in the other shouting, This is the truth now let’s find to the evidence to prove it’. The second goes into the field with his trowel and his intellect saying: ‘Let’s see what we can find and see where the evidence takes us’.

    Using, as you do, the ‘appeal to authority’ ie that the opinion of an authority figure or institution carries such weight that we no longer need evidence, then that is just a logical fallacy.

    Your starting point is that these supoernatural entities exist and therefore if there is something wrong that can’t be dealt with ‘normally’ we can make an appeal to God; drive the devil out. Whereas I will rely on modern medical care. But have you never realised that the only people who suffer from possession, demonic or otherwise, are those with religious beliefs?

    Using Fintan’s post the fact that those who converted from witchcraft to christianity who became less violent has to be good but it proves nothing. The media has covered many instances of the past few years of African children being trafficked and ritually slaughtered. Girls and women accused of being witches and killed or cast out of their villages, even by their parents. Babies who cry at night are therefore possessed it goes on and on.

    People who are programmed from childhood by figures of authority, usually parents, tend to become hard-wired, and that includes whatever religion their parents adhere to.

    From the comments you have made at the top of the post you are saying that because of who the Pope is he knows best is just lazy thinking on your part.

    If there was irrefutable evidence that a deity, any deity, existed that it would be self-evident. There would only be one religion, adhered to by all, and faith would not be required. You only need faith when there is no evidence.

    Darryl, about two years ago the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nicolls, was interviewed on the BBC at the height of the revelations concerning the RCC and child abuse. He explained that when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith he took personal charge of all allegations concerning the priests in question and had maintained that position after becomming Pope. Now there are those who say that Pope Paul stopped him from taking the necessary action whilst he was Pope but what reason could there be when he himself became Pope? He was asked further how many cases were outstanding and he said, without hesitation, three thousand and he spends every Friday afternoon dealing with them. I ask you, three thousand oustanding cases and spends an entire afternoon a week investigating them! And that was before he bacame really frail. How might you have reacted had one of you children been seriously assaulted and the Police had told you that there were three thousand outstanding cases and they spent half a day investigating them, plus the fact your child’s case was the last in line?

    If you want to know the names, then might I suggest that you begin by asking Cardinal Nicholls, obviously he knows the answers.

    • Spesalvi23

      It seems that you’re rather programmed yourself… open minded looks a LOT different than that!!
      Lazy thinking because we think a world class theologian and scholar; who is respected for his rationality and intellect; and who happens to have an incredible track reord of reflecting on faith and reason might interpret our faith correctly??!!
      Ok…whatever.
      If you have a problem with religion.. fine. Feel free. Be happy, but a little more sensitivity might be in order.

      It is a bit insulting to intelligent, well educated, very pragmatic and rational people to read such shallow points about religiosity.
      Not to mention judgmental and rather arrogant. It leads to instant disqualification.

      I didn’t have, or need an authority figure to become a believer. I don’t need a security blanket either.
      Actually. It’s rather easy nowadays to renounce your faith. Easier than doing your taxes.
      It’s clear that the period of incultured Christianity in Europe is over.
      Which us good, because it has become fat, distorted and lazy!

      • Ian

        No, lazy thinking because you appear not to want to think for yourself.

        • Spesalvi23

          It appears that you have no idea who I am and what I may have been thinking or not.
          Nevertheless, point proven.

          • Ian

            Sorry for the delay in responding.

            I fail to see the relevance of who you are. All that I can see from your comments above is that you appear to have a fragile ego.

            Spe Salvi 23 – faith and hope – The Pope might for some reason, best known to himself, conflate faith and hope but there is no mention of certainty; therefore in spite of your protestations religion is your security blanket, other wise you would need neither faith nor hope. Point proven!

            This post concerns the concept of the Devil, created by God and apparently out of control, along with his satellites, who are responsible according to Benedict for: ‘malign influence behind the ascendancy of secularist atheism and the secularist agendas and policies being pursued:’

            You’ve obviously read my posts so please explain to this poor atheist why is it love, God’s or otherwise, when you fall in love with your wife, but the Demon of Lust when you fall in love with someone else, female or otherwise? I would really like to know, it could be the Demon of Lust all the time!

            Please don’t muddy the waters with Aquinas’ tweaking of Aristotle’s theory of Natural Law.

            We all function within a broad spectrum of what is described as ‘acceptable behaviour’, these are not defined but society in general is aware of what what that means, and it means different things to different people. But when it comes to issues of the mind then we are into a different space. Not that long ago talking about mental issues was very rare. People who have had, or experiencing current mental propblems kept quiet. Thankfully we now live, in some instances, where it is all right to talk about such things and the number of people who are now known to have been affected in this way is vast. That includes me – the pressure of my job, the near death of my son when he was eleven caused what the doctor describes as ‘severe anxiety state’, that was a very dark place. I wasn’t possessed, there was nothing supernatural; the treatment, very small dosage of antidepressant, and an even smaller dosage of diazepam and plenty of sleep. I was on medication for just a few months. So I have some understanding of mental health problems and all that is over thirty years ago.

            So, who decides when a person is mentally ill, and that includes hysteria – which is quite common (When I was a Custody Officer a lot of prisoners became hysterical)?

            Who should provide the diagnosis and decide the treatment?

            In my view a fully fully qualified doctor of medicine. If a person, in the real world, needs to be, what they call sectioned ie. restrained, if necessary, and taken for psychiatric asessment under the various Mental Health legislation then two suitably qualified Doctors must agree. If the patient agrees to attend voluntarily that’s ok, but they are then at liberty to refuse treatment and walk away leaving the problem unsolved. If they patient refuses to attend voluntarity then the paperwork is completed and the patient taken for assessment; a legal detention.

            Often the problem was that the person in question had forgotten or more usually refused to take their medication others times it wasn’t, but the diagnosis was always down to doctors with psychiatric qualifications.

            Deacon Nick talks about: “A psychologist is often involved in the assessment of the case. It is only when natural causes have been exhausted that supernatural causes are examined. Deacon Nick” A psychologist however is not a psychiatrist, although it may just be the worng word that deacon Nick used, but they were apparently not used every time and there apparently was only one.

            I don’t think that anyone could argue that a claim that they were possessed, or that some believed that another person was possessed did not indicate that somewhere along the line there was a disordered mind and, in my honest opinion that should always be dealt with by independent, unbiased doctors with the right credentials. Incident sof believed demonic possession is a purely medical matter and should remain so.

            To deal with the another aspects of what the Pope said cocerning ‘secularist atheism and secularist agendas’: From the middle of the 17th century, when reading the Maleus Maleficarium was required reading, and the rites of the Rituale Romanum were, and apparently still are in vogue, a movement began in France called the Enlightenment. This is a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosphy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/) and as Benedict likes to quote Kant, then so do I:

            “Kant defines “enlightenment” as humankind’s release from its self-incurred immaturity; “immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.” Enlightenment is the process of undertaking to think for oneself, to employ and rely on one’s own intellectual capacities in determining what to believe and how to act. Enlightenment philosophers from across the geographical and temporal spectrum tend to have a great deal of confidence in humanity’s intellectual powers, both to achieve systematic knowledge of nature and to serve as an authoritative guide in practical life. This confidence is generally paired with suspicion or hostility toward other forms or carriers of authority (such as tradition, superstition, prejudice, myth and miracles), insofar as these are seen to compete with the authority of reason. Enlightenment philosophy tends to stand in tension with established religion, insofar as the release from self-incurred immaturity in this age, daring to think for oneself, awakening one’s intellectual powers, generally requires opposing the role of established religion in directing thought and action. The faith of the Enlightenment – if one may call it that – is that the process of enlightenment, of becoming progressively self-directed in thought and action through the awakening of one’s intellectual powers, leads ultimately to a better, more fulfilled human existence.”

            So, YES, Spi Salvi 23, You are a lazy thinker.

            The Enlightenment took Alchemy and gave us Chemistry. The Enlightenment took Astrology and gave us Astronomy. The Enlightenment pushed back the borders of ignorance allowing for the first time light to shine into some very dark places, all to the benefit, in my opinion,of mankind at large. I can understand why he objects because since then the influence of the RCC has waned but it is irrational and illogical to equate such huge benefits to the world through improvements in health, society, industry etc because of the Enlightenment to the work of the ‘Devil’. Without the Enlightenment would we still be burning innocent men and women at the stake, introducing them to the pleasures of the torture chamber or the ducking stool.

            If we still observed the philosophies that flourished in the 17th Century is would be a vastly different world we lived in and I for one would not wish to live in those times. Of course feel free to differ.

    • Darryl

      Hi Ian

      You raise the number 3000 as cases. A case is simply that – a case. National Child Welfare Services deal with thousands of cases a week, but the actual validity of those cases is often wrong. A case does not constitute crime, unless you selectively like the idea of assumed guilt.

      Your archeologist friend is wrong. There is only one type of archeologist and that is the archeologist who goes out into the digs with their “world view” and interpret the results accordingly.

      But that’s a digression from this post. I somehow thing with the number of directions you have taken you are more interested in arguing your “world view” than establishing truth. There are some good places on the internet where you can do this.

      People who are programmed from childhood to reject and mock God often do. What’s your point exactly? I don’t reject authority, do you?

      Faith means trust. Faith is trusting that the self-evident God means what he says and will do according to what He says.

      If there was irrefutable evidence that God did not exist, there would be one religion, adhered to by all. That would be a religion of self-reverance and self-fulfilment. Thank God that that is not the case.

  • Ian

    This is the link to the full article by Professor W H Trethowan (Exorcism: A psychiatric viewpoint) , Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham and is taken from the Journal of medical ethics, 1976, 2s 127-137

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495148/pdf/jmedeth00319-0026.pdf

    • Andrzej

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution to this discussion.

      While you strike me on, the one hand, to be an intelligent person, I can’t help having the impression that you have uncritically accepted the dogma of “religion is the enemy of science”. I guess one way out of this slumber would be for you to consider the following question: why have there been so many catholic scientists?

      While there are many lists of catholic scientists, they are not always adequate as they usually only take into consideration the person’s religious background. But here is a list of accomplished scientists that have actively participated in the life of the Church (thousands of lay members are not mentioned):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_cleric%E2%80%93scientists

      Ian, Catholicism is first of all about a personal relationship with Christ. But besides that (and as a result of it) it will offer you the richest intellectual and cultural heritage ever to have existed on Earth.

      Do consider becoming a part of it.

      • Ian

        Andrzej, My maternal grandparents were of Irish stock and Roman Catholic but, although my grandfather agreed to my grandmother and her siblings born 1903-22 could be baptized as catholics he refuesed to have them brought up as catholics. My mother became agnostic when her brother was killed in 1941 (Remember that Hitler was a staunch Roman Catholic) and none of the aunts and uncles that I knew had any strong religious faith.

        I went to sunday school but found the bibles stories regarding miracles just plain silly so I stopped going.

        You mention my uncritical acceptance of scientific dogma. Well, no I didn’t I researched the subject and found several independent cross-references that supported the others. What have you done to confirm that your own beliefs are true? Not that you wish were true.

        Whether a scientist is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or anything else is irrelevant, everyone is entitled to their own views but the idea of surrendering my intellect and following the dictates of of the RCC I honestly find sickening, although I know you meant well.

        Were you aware for example that Justin Martyr, in his conversations with Trypho, posited the hypothesis that there was no difference between the man known as Jesus Christ and the sons of Jupiter, so beloved by the Romans?

        Were you aware that Trypho told Justin Martyr that outside the cult of Jesus nothing was known of the man?

        Were you aware that the town we now call Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament and was founded on the misunderstanding of the word ‘Nazareen’ or ‘Nazarite’ sometime between the middle of the first and fourth centuries? In other words it was built on spin!

        Sorry, suspending reality for what you describe as the ‘richest intellectual an dcultural heritage’ is not on my agenda.

        I am free of religion and it is the best feeling in the world outside of sex!

        • Ian

          ‘grandmother’, on the top line should of course read ‘mother’.

        • Darryl

          Hi Ian

          In yet you don’t sound content, in fact you sound rather miserable. I am often saddened by the number of older men who are so bitter and twisted because they were not given what they were promised by the preaching of the atheist club. But worse still you want to publish that misery as a meaningful way of life expecting to get converts. You are obviously getting on in years, retired I guess. What is your purpose right here right now, and what is your hope for your future? I am starting to think you want answers so you came here to justify your nothingness faith. Is it working?

          • Ian

            Miserable?

            Interesting how other people see us; I’ve been called many things in my life, many of them unprintalbe, but ‘miserable’ was not one of them.

            As Robert Burns wrote:

            ‘Oh wud sum powr the gift tse gie us tae see oorsleves as ithers see us’

            Oh to be on the outside looking in.

            This extract is something else that I like from the blog of Kenan Malik – Pandaemonium (Google – Poetry of an old atheist. It concerns the work of Abul Ala Al-Ma’arri)

            Born in what is now Syria, al-Ma’arri (c. 973-1058), blind from an early age, is one of the greatest poets in the Arab tradition. His most famous work, The Epistle of Forgiveness, in which he describes visiting paradise and meeting Arab poets of the pagan period, has often been compared to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Al-Ma’arri’s poetry was renowned for his unflinching religious skepticism:

            They all err—Moslems, Jews,
            Christians, and Zoroastrians:
            Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
            One, man intelligent without religion,
            The second, religious without intellect.

            Not to be led by reason, al-Ma’arri insisted, was to give in to tyranny and injustice:

            You’ve had your way a long, long time,
            You kings and tyrants,
            And still you work injustice hour by hour.
            What ails you that do not tread a path of glory?
            A man may take the field, although he love the bower.
            But some hope a divine leader with prophetic voice
            Will rise amid the gazing silent ranks.
            An idle thought! There’s none to lead but reason,
            To point the morning and the evening ways.

            Reason was the greatest moral guide, and virtue its own reward:

            Reason forbade me many things which,
            Instinctively, my nature was attracted to;
            And a perpetual loss I feel if, knowing,
            I believe a falsehood or deny the truth.

            Religion, in al-Ma’arri’s eyes, was like a ‘pasture full of noxious weeds, a ‘fable invented by the ancients’, to hold the masses in thrall:

            Had they been left alone with reason,
            They would not have accepted a spoken lie;
            But the whips were raised to strike them.
            Traditions were brought to them,
            And they were ordered to say,
            ‘We have been told the truth’;
            If they refused, the sword was drenched with their blood.
            They were terrified by scabbards of calamities,
            And tempted by great bowls of food,
            Offered in a lofty and condescending manner.

            The Qur’an and other sacred books were for al-Ma’arri ‘only such a set of idle tales as any age could have and indeed did actually produce’:

            So, too, the creeds of man: the one prevails
            Until the other comes; and this one fails
            When that one triumphs; ay, the lonesome world
            Will always want the latest fairytales.
            And religious rites were a means of enslaving the masses:
            O fools, awake! The rites you sacred hold
            Are but a cheat contrived by men of old,
            Who lusted after wealth and gained their lust
            And died in baseness—and their law is dust

            Of course you can replace the the ‘whips’ and the ‘sword drenched with blood’ with episodes from the days of the Inquisition. (If you forget history are you not destined to repeat it?)

            Miserable? Sorry, not I, must be someone else you’re thinking of. But you are correct I am what you might call an ‘older man’, my doctor told me quite recently that I should live until I am at least 85. My reply was, ‘I’m not committing suicide for any one.’

            I am interested in the ‘atheist club’, that’s one I’ve not heard of, it sounds interesting. What do they preach and promise? I would be interested to know. You can email me at ian@ultimateinvestment.net (ultimateinvesment is my way of saying invest in yourself).

            Saddened I would accept. Saddened by intelligent people claiming they are logical and rational and then say something that destroys their claim, withour them realised what they have said.

            So why am I here?

            It wasn’t to get converts. I’ve never come across any atheist who has set out to get converts. If people wish to change they will and if they don’t they won’t, so why try.

            I firmly believe that there is no idea, concept, philosphy or ideology that is so sacrosanct that it cannot be challenged and, bearing in mind my personal experiences comments concerning the devil or demonic possession have to be challenged. I could ask the question, ‘if God made everything why is there evil? And, why did he let it loose on children?’ And that’s just the starter for ten.

            What do I want for the future? I was asked that several years ago and the ansmer hasn’t changed, ‘I want to be shot by a jealous husband when 102 years of age.’ whether your understanding is upto to that I don’t know, but it’s nothing at all to do with sex. I have no illusions about an afterlife; I have no fear of being dead, no fear at all, I don’t want to be dead there is too much to live for, the means of reaching the state of not being alive is another matter; quick and painless would be my preferred option. I wasn’t alive for billions of years before I was born, why should I be worried about what happens after I cease living?

            I’m still married to my wife, we got married in 1967, we have two chilren, now both mature fully functioning adults, I have no financial worries and I still, in spite of my advancing years ;o), run my own business.

            My nothingness faith! What a wonderful botch up of the English language. Not sure what you mean by that.

            If you fervently wish, hope or believe something to be true, something that you do not know and can never know and, yet claim that it is true is that not merely pretence?

            Think about it.

  • Ioannes

    Ian, who carried out the 1974 ‘exorcism’ to which you refer? Are you suggesting it involved a Catholic priest licensed by his bishop and using the rite found in the Rituale Romanum of 1614? It sounds highly unlikely.

  • Ian

    No it wasn’t RC, it was an apparently ‘authorised’ Anglican Priest, plus two others one of whom had taken holy orders, if that is the correct term. It doesn’t alter the fact that they convinced a normal man (He was wmarried with two young daughters aged about 4 and 6, with no previous religious affiliation) convinced him that he was possession by some sort of demon, put him through twelve hours of whatever ritual it was they used, turning him temporarily insane. The CPS said there was no enough evidence to take those responsinle to court.

    • Ioannes

      I thought as much. The RC Church would never sanction an exorcism in those circumstances. Your reply to Darryl contains some glaring inaccuracies. Ratzinger became Prefect of the CDF in 1981. At that time, and for another twenty years, the CDF was only concerned with sexual delicts concerning abuse of the confessional (crimen sollicitudinis). Other cases would have been dealt with by the Roman Rota, a tribunal not noted for the swiftness of its decisions. We are talking here about canonical penalties, the most serious of these being to return a cleric to the lay state.

      When the extent of the US allegations emerged in 2001 (a rising number relating to the 1960s, peaking in the 1970s, declining after the mid-1980s and even more sharply in the 1990s) John Paul II passed them on to Ratzinger, who read all the files. Most of the offences, which ranged from inappropriate language to actual rape, were against adolescent and young adult males. Fewer than one in five involved paedophilia of one kind or another. Ratzinger lost no time in establishing new norms to fast-track offenders (which involved the CDF taking over responsibility), extend the ‘statute of limitations’ period, and in view of the nature of most of the offences, took stricter measures to ensure active homosexuals were not admitted to seminaries (a prudential measure which predictably caused him to be labelled as ‘homophobic’).

      The cover-ups, shameful as they were, occurred at diocesan level, in not a few cases with the connivance of the civil authorities. They would not be possible today. In the case of criminal behaviour it is up to the civil authorities to take action. Although the age of consent is 16 in English law, a priest could still be prosecuted for having sexual relations with a person of either sex under the age of 18 since he is deemed to be in a position of trust.

      The CDF would of course inform the Pope of the outcome of any cases referred to it under the 2001 norms, and serious cases could go straight to him for summary jurisdiction (and don’t forget that we’re talking about canonical penalties here). The idea that Benedict XVI has a backlog of 3000 cases awaiting his decision is preposterous.

  • Jadis

    Before any casual reader is misled into believing that Catholic Priests were responsible for the events of the Michael /Christine Taylor case, please note that Ian has blogged about this on pro-atheist sites elsewhere in great detail as as something that converted him from agnosticism to atheism, and is perfectly well aware that this concerned a “Christian Fellowship” with a 22 year old female “leader”, and later after the damage had been done to the unfortunate man’s mind, a hapless Anglican and Methodist minister attempted an exorcism. Here’s the Wiki link, and the details of the case are a matter of public record. It comes up on the law syllabus at most universities in considering the defence of “temporary insanity”. The late William Trethowan was a great champion of Care in the Community, and I note that Michael Taylor was speedily released from prison.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Taylor_(Ossett)

    • Ian

      I have never claimed that Catholic priests were involved, and I should have mentioned this at the outset. It is also true that it was primarily this incident that resulted in my becomming an atheist. But if you are going to tell the tale please get it right.

      My colleague found Michael Taylor in the street about 200 yards from his home, I arrived at the scene very shortly afterwards and went on to the marital home where I was met by the local Police Inspector and the Sergeant who had just discovered the still very warm body of his wife.

      The facts are that the Taylors were invited by a friend to accompany her to a Christian Fellowship meeting run by Marie Robinson, a, reportedly, vivacious and charismatic evangelical Christian. Michael Taylor found himself beinmg drawn to her and could not understand why, when he loved his wife and was not looking for any ‘outside interest’. Basically he was falling in love with Marie Robinson and didn’t want to; He was also falling for her evangelical message but instead of just walking away which would have put fresh air between them both and removed the source or his problem he tried to push her away and she pushed back. His wife thought that they were having an affair which apparently they weren’t. Marie Robinson instead of doing what she should have done in her position as the group leader and creating a breathing space went to Peter Vincent and explained her position and her thoughts that Michael Taylor was posessed. Peter Vincent agreed and they decided that they should perform an exorcism.

      In the days running up to the fateful day he became more erratic and the children were sent to their gransmothers.

      The rest as they say is history.

      At the inquest both Marie Robinson and Peter Vincent refused to accept any responsibility whatsoever claiming, ‘We were only doing God’s work.’ No matter how they were pressed nothing further could be gleened. A file was submittted to the Crown Prosecution Service who declined to proceed with any action against Robinson or Vincent.

      Michael Taylor was found unfit to plead and was sentence to be detained at Her Majesties pleasure and sent to Broadmoor.

      Within a matter of days Michael Taylor, without having at that time received any treatment lost his sympoms and became completely rational; or at least as rational as any man could be having basically ripped his wife’s head apart with his bare hands. After a period of two years in secure accommodation he was transferred to a local psychiatric hospital and about two years later released back into the community under supervision. In fact he still lives there.

      The reason why Michael Taylor was released so quickly was simply that his was not psychotic; he suffered what Professor Trethowan called a false-psychosis inflicted upon his, albeit unintentionally, by the events of the previous night. He was vulneralbe and put through an appalling experience by two individual who were deluded enough to believe that they sufficient knowledge to diagnose what the problem was and that they were able to deal with it. THEY WERE WRONG!! Michael Taylor, his wife and their children paid the price.

      • Deacon Nick Donnelly

        Ian, thank you for sharing your account of these truly dreadful events, in which you were personally involved in your capacity as a police man. If others comment on Ian post I expect you to do so with respect and sensitivity. Deacon Nick

      • Andrzej

        Ian,

        But what does this story have to do with our catholic faith?

        Also, how do you go from “Michael Taylor was misled by two religious people” to “all religion in false”?

        One could just as easily argue from “Millions were killed by atheists dictators in the XX century” to “all atheism is wrong”. Now it might just well be the case that “all atheism is wrong”, but that in no way is implied by “Millions were killed by atheists dictators in the XX century”.

        So, Ian , if you want to argue that religion is wrong – in this case Roman Catholicism – then you need somewhat stronger argumentation. You could start by choosing one of the doctrines you consider to be wrong/false/harmful and explain why. Who knows, you might convince someone…

  • Ioannes

    Ian, Hitler a staunch Roman Catholic? You’ll be telling us next that Stalin was a devout Orthodox believer, since in his youth he briefly studied for the Church before opting for the alternative religion of Karl Marx.

    Is the atheist position so intellectually weak that its adherents need to buttress it with gross historical falsehoods?

    • Ian

      A little bit about Hitler and Christianity; there is plenty more on the internet.

      Perhaps he wasn’t as one commentator put it, ‘a regular church goung Christian’, but he never left the RCC and used his religious beliefs to justify his persecution of the Jews. It’s a shame that he never found out that his grand mother had a youthful sexual liaison with a young Jew; finding out he was one quarter Jewish might just have stuck in his throat. He could have swapped noted with Reinhard Heydrich, but he knew of hie Jewish ancestory.

      http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm

  • mike cliffson

    Ian – I witnessed an event in the sixties in which an innocent victim of a general affray was accused by the local(British) police , which was still having personal repercussions years later – am I entitled to to extrapolate to A) every British police officer, all the time B) The Spanish police, say?

  • Ioannes

    Ian, thanks for the quotations from Al Ma’arri. A medieval Shelley, perhaps? Deist or atheist? Certainly a pessimist – he makes de Vigny sound positively cheerful!

    • Ian

      Cheers, yes he was no laughing boy. But there is aparallel to be drawn between his comments regarding the enforcement of acceptance of Islam at the point of a sword in the Levant, and practices used to enforce Catholicism. Even Galileo, after his observations of Saturn proved that the earth was not the centre of the solar system never mind the universe, was taken to the torture chamber and shown what would happen to him if he did not recant and keep his mouth shut. It took the RCC 400 years to apologise.

  • fintan michael

    well, ian you seem to be having fun. one simple question do you accept einteins law of energy that energy cannot be created nor cannot be destroyed? if you do you believe in a power that always was and always will be the only question is does this power that has given you the intelligence to argue against its existence have an intelligence. now just for argument sake say if there is a devil and a god would not the devil attack the church with everything he can lay his hands on. would he not try to pervert and corrupt anything linked to god. you see your arguments in effect strengthen belief in a god and a devil. it is untrue to say that hitler was a practicing catholic. he may have been brought up a catholic but his political dogma was actually a religion based on paganism and those being charged in nuremberg were actually barred from bringing this out in their defense. now just look at the atheistic regimes of the last and this century. stalin who turned away from christianity and became an atheist is the greatest murderer in history. this atheist killed far more then the pagan hitler. his soviet labour camps alone klled 65 million people. you say that all these millions of atheists just did this killing because they were filling a political vacuum. were the atheists also filling vacuums in china, in cambodia and still every day in north korea?. you in effect point out the splinter in others eyes but refuse to see the log in our own argument. unfortunately the massive ego of the average atheist blinds him to his fallacies and eventually he is obliged to turn to half truths the most convincing and effective of lies to buttress his beliefs when challenged. this is what has happened to you here ian. your belief that says one is going nowhere in the universe that sex is the greatest thing since fried bread and that you would wish to be murdered at 101 after being caught having sex with another mans wife is a false and sad religion to stick to.

    • Ian

      Hi Fintan, yes, so it seems, but first things first, please let go of my comments regarding sex. They were intended as humorous asides and not to be taken literally. I do not accept the existence of any deity or supernatural agent, and that include Old Nick (not Deacon Nick). I am just an ordinary man who tries to apply logic and critical thinking and holds different views from you. Normally I wouldn’t have commented on Deacon Nick’s board but I consider that when men such as the Pope talk about devils, demons and evil as if they were seperate entities, like vindictive air born viruses, with an evil agenda, just waiting to be inhaled and snare the next unsuspecting person they come across then those views have, in my honest opinon, to be challenged. By arguing that supernatural being as the cause of all these troubles then you are removing responsibility from human kind. A few years ago a female Jewish scientist suffered from a panic attack in a laboratory, rather than accept it, after all intelligent female scientists are made of sterner stuff; she stated that she had been attacked by a demon because someone had left a copy of a Harry Potter book an an adjacent desk – these demons certainly get about.

      You’re oversimplifying your comments about energy. I accept what I have read that energy can be neither created no destroyed; however it can be changed. On Boxing Day 2004, a series of tectonic plates off the coast of Sumatra moved and causing a gigantic earthquake, which in itself caused other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. The energy released caused a tsunami which devastated the area and the shock wave crossed the Indian Ocean causing large tsunamis on Sri Lanka and Indian, and very samll tsumanis on the east coast of Africa and Madagascar. But the energy had dissipated, it spread out and weakened. It simply changed.

      Re Hitler please see http://www.nobeliefs.com/speeches.htm

      With this next argument you are making the classic mistake may by many who take the religious viewpoint. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Witchfinders, 9/11 and 7/7 et al could only have been carried out by those with a religious agenda and, in the namke of their religion or faith.

      However Stalin, Pol Pot and all the other despots and dictators etc, and who just happened to to be atheists, committed their atrocities because they could, none of them committed any atrocity in the name of their atheism. That is a big difference and a false comparison.

      The comment about a ‘political vacuum’ was specific to Stalin. The Czar of Russia’s assassination created the powe vacuum and Stalin took advantage of it.

      You seem to know a great deal about the massive egos that athesits have, can I see a copy of your research please?

      I hope this helps.

      • Andrzej

        “none of them committed any atrocity in the name of their atheism.”

        Ian, Stalin, didn’t just happen to be an atheist – atheism was the official ideology of the Soviet empire and continued to be so after his death.

        • Ian

          I agree, but they weren’t killed in the name of atheism. In this instance they were atheists who killed.

        • Ian

          Andrzej, You asked me in an earlier post about science and religionand with all the other posts that peppered this discussion I forgot to answer. A few days ago before I took the weekend off and my broadband failed I came across this:

          http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/02/19/if-you-believe-in-both-science-and-religion-you-are-not-doing-either-properly/

          With regard to the other point you raised about a personal relationship with JC. As you know I do not accept the existence of the supernatural so that raises a problem.

          Don’t get me wrong without the Judeo Christian Bible there would be great gaps in English literature; there are some great, and often ludicrous, stories but they are only stories.

          You only have to search for ‘ancient snake cults’, to find the origin of the serpent myths from the Garden of Eden. The serpent was the guardian of knowledge and wisdom so who/what else would guard the Tree of Knowledge. And was knowledge forbidden to prevent learning? Just as possesion of a Bible in the Medieval period was puinishable by death?

          Over the past decade or so in my study of religion I have done something that not many who profess to be Christian have done and that is actually read the Bible, from cover to cover. I have also read the Koran and numerous other book and documents, but I have found that the best things have been the works by those who can read aramaic and ancient greek as well as latin; those who can carry out textural analysis, they literally have been eye openers and as Fintan mentioned, rather humourously above -allowed not just the splinter, but the log, to fall from my eyes! Oh, and if you haven’t guessed, science as well.

          Light travels from the surface of the sun to the earth in 8 minutes approx, that is 93 million miles or just over 11.5 million miles per minute, that equates to approximately 5,900,000,000,000 or 5.9 trillion miles in a solar year. The known universe is estimated to be 14,500,000,000,000 light years in diameter a distance of 5.9×10 to the 12th multiplied by 1.45×10 to the 13th power, miles. You might say that is quite large.

          I’m sorry but your God is far too parochial, and the fact that it has not yet been explained exactly how the precise moment of creation occurred that is no reason to insert the supernatural i.e. the God of the Gaps.

          However, just supposing there were some sort of deity that had pressed the button causing the universe to exist 14.5 billion years ago and, taking into account there are nore stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches in the planet, that the late lamented Carl Sagan descirbed as this ‘pale blue dot’, and we inhabit an insignificant lump of rock orbiting an insignificant star in one of billions of galaxies isn’t it just pure solipsism, the ultimate ego, that you believe that you wee created in HIS image and have a direct telephone line to this being? We are here because of evolution; yes Darwin was correct,even though he couldn’t have taken genetics into account, he never met Gregor Mendel, which is a pity because Gregor Mendel had a copy of Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species. In fact human anatomy proves that evolution is correct and matriarchal dna has been traced back over 170,000 years to southern Africa, patriatchal dna about 120,000 years. What are the ramifactions for the creation story from the Bible? No Garden of Eden, no original sin, so why the crucifiction? I hope that Deacon Nick doesn’t weild his scalpel and delete this post.

          Furthermore, why on earth should this entity have any interest at all in the minutiae of our lives, the RCC is fascinated by sex and you asked me what aspects of the RCC we, or I, had problems with. Well their insistence that they can impose their dogma not only on all their adherents but also inflict it on everyone else. Your ‘right’ to control the female reproductive system. Your ‘right’ to control what consenting people do in the privacy of their own homes. Your ‘right’ to dictate that sexual intercourse is for procreation only and that contraception is evil. All this written, dreamt up and enforced my celibate men! (But I won’t go further done that route).

          Every rational, logical thinking person understands that this planet las finite resources and the largest problem we are going to have to address over htenext few decaeds is population growth. Already rising sea levels have resulted in sea water rendering some of the most fertile land in Afria ie the Nile Delta unusable. there are globl problems with both food and water supplies in large parts of Africa and the Asia, and yet the RCC drones on and on about contraception. The population of the planet is now passed 7 billion and extrapolated to reach 9 billion by the middle of the century. Allowing women to control their own reproductive systems and to ensure that they are treated equally across the planet in probably the only way to prevent future disasters.

          Does science know everything? No, otherwise it would stop. Will it answer every question? No, because scinetists always find new questions to ask and then seek answers, that is put out to their peers to see if it will stand scrutiny, if it does that’s fine, if it doesn’t it’s back to the drawing board but, there are no absolute truths in science, there are only the conclusions that the best scientific minds can freach, and always open to new data.

          And people say that I am arrogant and insensitive. If only you could see yourselves as others do.

  • Ioannes

    Ian, what are all the Hitler quotations supposed to tell us, apart from the fact that Hitler could not afford to alienate the German people, most of whom were Christians? As an international organization Roman Catholicism was incompatible with National Socialism, and Hitler was well aware that in the most strongly Catholic areas, Bavaria and the Rhineland, support for the Party was weakest. After ‘Mit brennender Sorge’ was smuggled in and read out from Catholic pulpits in March 1937 Hitler vowed vengeance on the Catholic Church, but he had to be careful – Bismarck’s Kulturkampf had been largely counterproductive, and the Anschluss in 1938 brought many more Catholics into the Reich.

    There was a systematic effort to discredit the Church by the time-honoured method of spreading disinformation about clerical immorality, in particular “corrupting the young”. For Hitler’s views on the “Church struggle” which in 1937 seems to have preoccupied him more than did the “Jewish question”, see Ian Kershaw “Hitler, 1936-1945, Nemesis”,pp.39-41 (Allen Lane/Penguin 2000).

    You are also forgetting that Marxism/Leninism and its variants (call them ‘heresies’ if you like) is itself a belief system with all the paradigms of a religion save a belief in God, which arguably provides a restraint as it assumes the existence of a higher tribunal.

  • Ian

    Ioannes, you might find this interesting.

    http://nobeliefs.com/hitler.htm

    I haven’t read the book you refer to but I’ve made a note of it.

    You might find this interesting also.

    http://www.amazon.com/Man-Called-Intrepid-Incredible-Narrative/dp/159921170X

    Hitlers superstitious nature was used by Bletchley Park and the British Security Coordination to literally put the wind up him, the forecast of a ‘falling star’ preceded the assassination of Heydrich whilst the assassination was in the planning stages in the US and Canada.

    But with regard to your comments re Hitler’s religiosity I agree that as a politiciian you can’t alienate your potential voters, but after he became Chancellor when then? With the power at his disposal there was little or no chance that there would be any decisive move against him and he was a brilliant orator and the German people seemed to take to him although there was a small, and for obvious reasons, very secret underground movement. There were also incredible brave priests and pastors some of whom paid the ultimate price.

    I personally wouldn’t call them heresises, but please feel free. However the Eastern Church saw itself as superior to the RCC and the Czar was the head. When Stalin had the Romanovs assassinated he stepped into the breach – there is no such thing in nature as a vacuum and, the Russians have always had strong leader in the Czars and probably why they couldn’t cope with western style democracy..

    If you included atheism as a variant of Marxist/Leninist ideology I would disagree. Athesim is not a political movement merely a denial of the existence of God in any form; To have a viable political party you have to be able to garmer your forces, but atheism is like herding cats – no fundamentals, no what you might call leaders no ideology. But as far as Stalin or Pol Pot were concerned I don’t think, from what I have read, that either countenanced any restraint, in fact Stalin was so paranoid that after Heydrich had sown the seeds in preparation for the invasion of Russia,he he most of his General Staff murdered so that when the Germans did invade he had few experienced military leaders.

  • Ioannes

    Sir Ian Kershaw is the leading British authority on the Third Reich and his two-volume biography of Hitler was acclaimed both here and in Germany. Do read it if you get the chance.

    There is no reason why an atheist should not be objective and fair-minded. However, it is one thing to convince oneself that God doesn’t exist, but it is quite another to argue, as some do, that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is inimical to the well-being of mankind and historically an enemy of progress. Such an ideological and obviously polemical argument is not supported by any scholarly analysis of the available historical evidence.

    • Ian

      Thanks, so many books, so little time!

      three or four years ago I happened to catch the back end of an interview with Desmond Tutu. The backdrop was Table Mountain, the Proteas were in full bloom as were all the the native flowers and the sun was just setting, brushing the tops of the mountain. It was a fabulous sight. Basically just an arrangement of rock, plants, light and shade but a fantastic sight. Desmond Tutu turned to the interviewer and asked him this question, ‘Can you look at that and deny the existence of God?’

      The answer form my point of view would have been, ‘Yes of course I can’.

      Why would say that? Well, if you are going to say that you also have to be able to say the same when you go to the shanty towns where the poorest of the poor live. you can’t seperate, at least not in my mind, the two. If you grant the beautiful vistas to god, you also have to give the responsibility for the poor.

      It’s like the footballers who genuflect when they score a goal, or win a match, are they saying that when they win it was down to God and not their ability as a footballer, or because a defender slipped.

      Have a look at my comments timed at 11.23 above, and the long post addressing Spe Salvi 23 near the top, timed at 2.40 (If Deacon Nick hasn’t deleted it)

      I was accused earlier of not having an open mind, which is not true but I never look for the supernatural. But it’s a personal choice, but once you invoke religion in the answer to a question, or as an authority, is that not the point at which you stop thinking? This is point I was trying to make earlier, not very well it appears.

      When I retired from the Police service apart from becomming self-employed I was head-hunted to join a brand new cardiac rehabilitation programme at the International Pool in Leeds as a Counsellor and Fitness Instructor, and working in this capacity for almost 15 years. One of things I had to study was congenital heart disease (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_heart_defect) have a read, and i particular scroll down to the list at the bottom. These are life threatening condition that occur during foetal development. Why? Basically, the genetic switches aren’t working properly ‘or something’, mostly can be addressed by modern medical science but if there is a God why inflict this on a helpless and growing foetus, why infliuct that amount of stress on the parents and I would suggest particularly on the mother who has invested probably nine months of her life to produce the baby, and the stress on the surgeons and their medical teams.

      David Attenborough became an atheist because of this http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/01/eye-burrowing-worms-national-t.html
      Why would a lovong god inflict this primarily on children. If you are going to give God credit or the beautiful things in this world, and there are a lot, you also have to give him/her/it the credit for all the not so good things as well.

      Human evolution is an irrefutable fact, our anatomy proves it, unless of course to you it doesn’t ;o)

      Really the choice to me is simple, you decide on the evidence available.

  • fintan michael

    dear ian, yes of course you are right energy can be transformed and transferred but not destroyed so my argument that energy always was and always will be still stands and you accept that. it happens to be a law of science. this is a belief in a force greater then yourself and ian fortunately or unfortunately if indeed you accept this you believe in a power greater then yourself whom many choose to call god. now on marxism its central core is atheism and it actively went after and killed en mass those who believed in a god of their understanding because as atheists they were totally intolerant of others beliefs because they had closed minds. their lack of belief in a god or final judgement was instrumental in permitting atheistic communists to do as they pleased. the worst believers in history come nowhere near the atheists stalin, mao, pol pot etc. now these people did not just happen to be atheists ian. they all converted to an ideology that as there was no god they should try and create a paradise on earth and that is the center of their belief.

  • Ian

    Hi Fintan, Apples and oranges are both fruit yet they are not the same, and never can be.

    You are confusing two types of energy, or power, if you like, the energy released in an earthquake can be measured,and we do this on the Richter Scale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richter_magnitude_scale). The earthquake causes vibrations which are picked up around the world and the magnitude is calculated, in the s=case of the Sumatran earthquake from 2004 it was measured at 9.2 on the scale equal to 950 million tonnes of TNT.

    Other energies eg, the power of an automobile is measured in horsepower (hp) ie, 1hp = 550ft/lb per sec, in other words 1hp = the force equired to move 550lb a distance of one foot in one second of time. On more simply 746 watts of power.

    The second type of power to which you refer is meta-physical and you can’t compare the two.

    And I don’t accept that the second type exists as a power that is greater than I am; I firmly believe that we are on our own.

    It is true that although the Stalin was an atheist and probably so were all the others but they killed, not in the name of atheism but, simply because they wanted to prove a point, because he thought that those they killed were against them or he thought they were a potential threat, plus he could not be held to account.

    Yes, they suppressed the Russian Orthodox church but had they done what you said, and gone after the believers, there would have been no church as there is today, he never went quite that far, not that I am trying tomake xcuses for what they did.

    I agree that Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were evil killers but the most efficient, effective and viscious group were much nearer to home and they were Hitler’s SS. Reinhard Heydrich’s was the brains behind the ‘final solution’, the answer to the ‘Jewish question’. the SS set up and ran the concentration camps and the gas chambers, and much more besides, and 90% of the SS were confessing Catholics.

    But I can assure you, or at least I hope I can, that although I am an atheist I am not really evil, I just have a different belief system to you. One that does not rely on a deity.

  • fintan michael

    your wrong again here ian, hitlers monsters came nowhere near stalins. atheistic communists were running labour camps/concentration camps for 20 years before the nazis came along. their camps were far bigger and far more numerous then hitlers. most people think that the nazi concentration camps closed in 1945. well unfortunately many stayed in use up until 1955 and were administered by these atheists. just as a matter of interest the death toll in the communist camps from the time of the revolution to its collapse is now estimated at 65 million. stalin went as far as he possibly could in killing the religious. just prior to the outbreak of ww2 he killed a quarter of a million clergy both priests and nuns to get rid of religion. he then set up a bogus orthodox church under the communist party because he realized that he could not win. in the ukraine he was even more vicious against the catholics. in 1932 he deliberately starved to death 9 million catholics because he thought they were the biggest threat to him. on the ss unfortunately at nuremburg they were not permitted to bring out the fact that nazism was a religion and not just a political belief. in particular the ss had initiation ceremonies and the like that if one participated in would place one outside of any christian church and place one in the realm of paganism. now ian i am not saying that you are an evil atheist but what i am saying is that atheism allowed the atheists stalin, mao, pol pot,to commit the greatest crimes in history. if you ever go to the east go to stalins camps and you will see that he in particular hit on the religious not just to prove a point as you say but to impose his non belief on those who believed. this is the core of communism. it all revolves around atheism. it is interesting to note however that you believe that you are greater then the energy that always was and always will be, and ian please atheism is not a different belief system it is a non belief. you believe that you are going nowhere and there is no god. you believe in nothing ian.

  • Ian

    Fintan, this is nothing to do with who the biggest monster was. They both were evil and Stalin happened to be an atheist, Hitler wasn’t I don’t know where you’ve got you onformation from but I’ve spent some considerable time trying to verify it on Google but can’t so, if you have any information to support what you say I would lke to read it. I can’t accept that he set up a bogus church, that certainly does not ring true and agan there is nothing to suggest that the Russion Orthodox church that we see now is any different to the one that existd earlier.

    In relation to you rcomment about Stalin specifically ‘going after’ Catholics, again ther is evidence that he murdered, or sent to the gulags anyone whom he considered to be a threat and no doubt many of those were Catholics. http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/russia/stalinpurgesandpraisesrev1.shtml

    There is no banner to raise with regards to atheism. There are no leaders for atheists to follow. Athesim does not ‘allow’ anything, so to make the point that atheism allowe Stalin to commit atrocities is simply wrong. Atheism is NOT a movement it is a position that we hold that does not accept that there is a god and nothing more. That is our belief ie a belief system.

    If you have read the links I posted about Hitler’s religiosity, you will have read the quotes from his speeches and also the extracts from Mein Kamp; using his religious beliefs and a whif of Norse mythology to justify his stance against the Jews, and the development of ‘The Final Solution’ dreamt up by Heydrich. With regard to Hitler’s fighting forces remember the every memver of the Wermacht had a belt buckle bearing the legend ‘Got mit uns’.

    ‘It all revolves around atheism’? No it doesn’t, it all revolves around religion. At the moment there are several hundred religions being practised on this planet. Now, they can’t all be right’ however they can all be wrong. When you understand why you adhere to the one that you do and none of the others then you will understand why I don’t follow yours. You are atheistc about all the rest I just take it one god further.

    At some time if the far distant future the sun will run out of hydrogen and start to burn helium when that runs out the sun will expnad and destroy what is left of the earth. It is also true that with one notable excpetion all the galaxies are moving away from us at prodigious speed, the exception is Andromeda which is moving towards us at prodigious speed, and will eventually merge with the Milky Way. Eventually all the galaxies will disappear from sight leaving only our own galaxy and, as the gases that power the suns runs out the stars will go out one by one leaving – nothing but a vast, empty, cold void.

    Fintan, there are no religious truths only opinions.

  • fintan michael

    dear ian i beg to differ it has everything to do with who the biggest monsters were. stalin, mao, and pol pots lack of belief in anything permitted them to do exactly what they wanted. that alone is a massive condemnation of atheism. it shows what man is capable of doing when there is no religious restriction or no belief in a power greater then oneself. not too sure what your query on hitler was. on stalin setting up an orthodox church of his own. i suggest you check with any external russian orthodox church. you will find that until recently the external church did not even recognize the internal church because it was under atheistic communist control. the two have only recently re-united. the atheistic communists dissolved churches in the 20s. in 1943 the orthodox church was legalized but its priests and religious were appointed by the govt. if you check the number of catholic kulaks sent to his death camps mainly from the ukraine you will see that they far out number other groups. bye the way google holodomor so you can learn about this the biggest of holocausts of the last century. unfortunately many people have not heard of this because stalin and his crew were very good at hiding what they did. whilst he could control the orthodox church to some extent he had no control over the catholic church and that is why he feared it so much. bye the way he set up the new legalized orthodox church in the late thirties after earlier banning religion. i know these things because i have been to the soviet union and i have been to his camps and prisons. now when i googled the make up of the ss which you say was mainly catholic, holocaust sites put the figure at 25% which is way below the german national percentage of catholics. 73% were actually protestant. i would however like to remind you also that the ss was very anti-christian. the best description of ss members would probably be to say that they were former christians. now on the german belt buckles, well it depends what gott one is talking about. the satanic and pagan paraphernalia the nazis wore on their uniforms clearly indicates that their god was a very different god from the christian god. now to change the subject somewhat might i suggest also that you google the supernatural occurrences at fatima and the ongoing supernatural occurrences at medjugorje. 14 million people have visited the latter and witnessed all sorts of things that are beyond human explanation. possibly you might be able to explain these strange goings on to yourself. in particular you might be interested also in the dancing sun at fatima where the portuguese communist party and others gathered to prove their was no god. unfortunately the occurrences in front of no less then 60,000 people which was also recorded on camera gave the atheists an awful shock.

  • Ian

    Fintan, I’m not arguing with what you have seen, I had worked out from your previous post that you might have been there, what I do not accept is your interpretation. From what I have read he tarheted the Kulals as a group and, many of them were, no doubt, Catholics. however I have not read anything that says he went after Catholics, Stalin was not so discerning.

    And, in my honest opinion, you are wrong about the link with atheism. Cardinal Bernard Laws was not an atheist, he covered up countless cases of sex abuse by the priests under his control and just as the US authorities were about to arest him he did a runner. Where did he run? Where he still is now, and that is the Vatican. Cardinal O’Brien! What about him? The CDF maquerading as the Inquisition, were they athesits as well?

    We will have to agree to disagree about the Wermacht and the SS. But I suggest that you read Mein Kampf. Hitler based his agression against the Jews on ‘the fact’ that they were god killers. the killers of his god. The fact that they did not act as christians has little bearing on anything.

    The things that were going on that you believe were supernatural are called ‘Sundogs’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog They have been reported and recorded for centuries. Now we know what they are -a completely naturla phenomenom and nothing to do with anything supernatural. the enlightenment shone light into many dark places.

  • Ian

    Further to the above: The sunway dancing?

    Sorry, you say there were 60,000 in the crowd. Well, if you’ve ever been in a large crowd like that then you have realised that they do not stand still. They sway to the left, righ, forwards and backwards, they move backwards and forward and they jump up to get a better view or if they happen to be behind someone who is taller. The sun didn’t dance – the crowd did.

  • Ian

    First line above should read ‘the sun was dancing’ not ‘the sunway dancing’ (must type more slowly)

  • Ian

    Deacon Nick, this puts my experience, painful as it was into stark perspective: http://allafrica.com/stories/201303040084.html?page=1

  • fintan michael

    dear ian, glad to see you are still on form. sorry about the first line. now ian it did not just dance it came down on the crowd and swirled around three times. oh and the sky turned blood red as well. no doubt this was psychological as many who gathered were atheistic reds. seriously though you should read up on this because it shattered the belief in atheism of many in an instant. it had this very serious effect on the atheists gathered and those boys were very very hard core. also the prophecies that the children gave out about the first world war ending soon and if people did not change a second and more terrible one breaking out and russia falling to the communists all came true. suggest that you google fatima and study the film and photographs. the u.s. embassy in portugal actually filmed the whole thing because it was regarded by them as a big communist rally. no doubt you will try and explain it away which is your right but have a good study of it because i am sure you will find it interesting. there are some great photos of atheistic communists with placards looking up to the heavens with their mouths open in a state of absolute shock.

  • Hamish Redux

    I am glad that Ian assures us that he is not as evil as we would like to believe. Some people might say that twisting a tragic story in order to use it as a weapon to attack the Catholic church was a dishonest and evil act, but I am happy to be assured that it is not such. Others might say that portraying Hitler as a pious Catholic in order to promote an obsessive anti-Catholicism was also dishonest, but I am happy to be assured that it is not such.

    Christ, on the other hand, told a great story about a Pharisee and a Publican going out to pray. We Publicans on the Christian side need to be aware that there are Pharisees in policemen’s helmets who can put us straight.

    • Ian

      No, I’m only evil on tuesday afternoons between 2.30pm and 4.0pm.

      I wasn’t just attacking the RCC, but all those who believe in demonic possession, because it is only the religious who believe in these phenomena.

      To refer back to the post above from Ioannes timed at 4.30pm on 22/2/13, the idea that in the 20thC, rituals made up up by ignorant men several hundred years earlier to deal with conditions they did not and could not have understood is, by today’s level of knowledge, laughable. What makes it worse is that in spite of the huge increase in knowledge since the enlightenment, which began at about the same time, some people believe that they have a use today.

      In the case above two or, perhaps three people who were arrogant enough to believe that, although they had no relevant knowledge or skill, they were able to diagnose that a man who suffering from an emotional upset, was demonically possessed AND assume they had that knowledge and skill to deal with a condition that does not exist beggars belief.

      I made the point above that when the Maleus Malefacarium was required reading and Rituale Romanun was in full use the Enlightenment was pushing back the borders of ignorance, letting light into very dark places however there are still people today who will give more credibility to ignorance and superstition, than knowledge.

  • Ian

    Hi Fintan, you don’t give up do you?

    Four words: Religious hysteria and Pareidolia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia)

    Please make sure you read it al the way down to the bottom, esecially the section – Evolutionary advantage.

    But you were right it is interesting, human psychology always is.

    The comment that an observer ‘stared fixedly at the sun’ is incorrect. Looking at the sun for any length of time would seriously damage their optic nerve maybe even cause permanent blindness.

    As for the reported prophecies. You can’t claim that a prophecy is true if it released years after the event – that’s called cheating!

  • Ironically, Ian’s posts display the symptoms of demonic influence.

  • Eccles

    Has this policeman friend of yours read any of the work of Gabriele Amorth? Demonic possession is a very real phenomenon, even if it sometimes diagnosed incorrectly.

    I thought “It is also true that it was primarily this incident that resulted in my becoming an atheist” was a silly joke, but maybe people do throw away their faith because of a single incident which has nothing whatever to do with the question whether God exists. They would have to be people without much in the way of logical reasoning skills – ideal atheist material, then.

  • fintan michael

    dear ian, the phenomena of fatima was filmed and the camera does not lie. no obervatory picked this phenomena up but it was visible to all even for for those living 18 miles away. on the predictions, they were written down at the time, sealed and later revealed. you should also google medjugorje it is a bit of a hot potato for the catholic church at the present time because of similar occurrences. the only problem is that the supernatural occurrences there have gone on for over 20 years and the prophecies which were published many years ago have already come true. a month or so before the fall of the soviet union it was announced by those experiencing the phenomena that mary had told them that something would soon happen that would change the world. when i read it i thought that these people may have stewed their goose but the soviet union fell. other prophecies concerning a terrible war in yugoslavia also came true. there is also a promise by mary that a sign will be left for all to see that will end atheism for all time which i am sure will interest you. also i do not know where you got your stuff on the nazis being sort of a covert catholic movement. this is nonsense plain and simple. the pope denounced nazism on numerous occasions. when the nazis came to power the pope obviously had to be very diplomatic in how he dealt with them because if he put a step wrong he could have caused great suffering to all christians in europe. only recently has it come out that the pope wanted to do a formal denunciation of the nazis but the allies put pressure on him not to. i would also like to point out that catholic priests were sent to the concentration camps in large numbers by the ss which was virulently anti christian. pope john paul was a nazi slave just as a matter of interest. i would also like to point out that most of the leaders of the non communist resistance movements in europe were members of a group called the priory of sion which owed allegiance to the pope. the attempt to kill hitler was orchestrated by a staunch catholic col von stauffenberg. methinks that you have been reading too much net nonsense reference the catholic church and the nazis. this causes you to come across as a serious anti catholic bigot. now on the great atheist stalin. he deliberately targeted the catholic church and its adherents because he knew its ability. that is why it operated underground until well after the communists fell. also remember who initiated the fall of atheistic communism it was the catholic solidarity union. those brave unarmed catholic workers faced down the might of the soviet union that brought down the workers paradise on earth that the atheists had tried to create. they had tried to do this ian because they did not believe in a god nor in an after life and they wanted heaven on earth which turned into a hell on earth. now ian i can see you are well read but you have to be discerning and develop some wisdom. i have also seen many things that makes me doubt in a god but i continue to believe because i have also seem many great things. you see i have a limited understanding of all things just like you and i accept therefore that i cannot understand all things and why they happen. also i do not understand fully his will. i have however learned that if i ask for his will in my life every day it improves in ways i sometimes cannot understand.

  • Ian

    I am not arguing that many people find solace in religion, but I have to say that prophecies that refer to some non-specified event in the future, cannot just be linked to some future event because it appears to fit.

    If you believe in an all-powerful god, and by definition all-powerful must include all knowing, because without knowledge there is no power then the following should be simple. Some animals ie reptiles, have in their genetic code a DNA sequence that allows them to re-grow limbs that they lose either in fighting or other injury. We have exactly the same piece of genetic switch in our DNA. The only difference is that with reptiles this sequence of DNA is switched ON and in humans it is switched OFF.

    That’s the only difference, ON and OFF.

    All god has to do is to switch the unit on and amputees could re-grow there missing limbs. Babies born with severe malformation of their limbs because their mothers were prescribed medication for morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy could grow normal limbs. After all, the babies were innocent so why not.

    If that happened then everyone would sit up and take notice and that includes people like Richard Dawkins, and all the others who attack religion.

    That’s all it would take, OFF – ON.

    Now that would be a miracle.

    As for heaven on earth? Or anywhere else for that metter, no thank you.

  • Ian

    Deacon Nick, care to defend this?

    http://www.osundefender.org/?p=95049

    I have a daughter who is now 37 years of age; but the thought of this makes me feel physically sick. Any christian who holds views like this is, in my honest opinion, sub-human. This is one reason why, irrespective of the sensitives of the RCC and its followiers, that the nonsense of the belief in demonic possession must be stamped out.

    Encouraging stupidity will not make the world a better place.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Ian, your post is just another crude attempt to misrepresent and attack the Catholic doctrine about Satan and possession, which has its origins in the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The crime you relate was not committed by a Catholic. Ian, this is your last comment posted on Protect the Pope. Deacon Nick

      • Ian

        With respect that is your opinion.

        Whilst you may be members of the RCC my comments are aimed at all those who profess belief in the ‘supernatural’.

  • fintan michael

    dear nick sorry you have been banned from commenting but what you refer to in africa is quite common unfortunately whereby witchdoctors and others pronounce persons or children possessed and then proceed to commit all sorts of atrocities against them. i have seen many of these terrible things. that is why the roman catholic church is growing in africa like no other because it opposes this type of thing. they are very very careful about such matters. now ref this possession business and all the examples you have given none of them have been formal catholic exorcisms. the catholic church is extremely careful in such matters because it does recognize that mental illness and the like can be the cause of many of these things. nick there have been many miracles that defy normal laws and many are well documented by the catholic church but let me assure you it makes no difference to a person who does not want to know a god. the only reason i brought theses matters to your attention is that it would spark interest. now might i suggest that you contact your nearest catholic church and ask for lists of known or proven miracles like levitation which bye the way occurs in many real possessions and you can try and explain them away. you might find that it will be an interesting experience.

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