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Saved by Ratzinger

Once upon a time there was a young girl who was an atheist, but then she got better. Praise the lord.

She grew up atheist; she read Dawkins and Hitchens. Then last year, at age 19, she decided to read something other than Dawkins and Hitchens.

I started by reading Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address, aware that it had generated controversy at the time and was some sort of attempt –futile, of course – to reconcile faith and reason. I also read the shortest book of his I could find, On Conscience. I expected – and wanted – to find bigotry and illogicality that would vindicate my atheism. Instead, I was presented with a God who was the Logos: not a supernatural dictator crushing human reason, but the self-expressing standard of goodness and objective truth towards which our reason is oriented, and in which it is fulfilled, an entity that does not robotically control our morality, but is rather the source of our capacity for moral perception, a perception that requires development and formation through the conscientious exercise of free will.

Oh yes? Then where do the rigid, stupid, murderous rules come from? Why are women forbidden to be priests? Why was Savita Halappanavar refused an abortion until it was far too late? Why was “Beatriz” refused an abortion?

I looked for absurdities and inconsistencies in the Catholic faith that would derail my thoughts from the unnerving conclusion I was heading towards, but the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency: once you accept the basic conceptual structure, things fall into place with terrifying speed. “The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole,” wrote Edith Stein in The Science of the Cross: “If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others.” The beauty and authenticity of even the most ostensibly difficult parts of Catholicism, such as the sexual ethics, became clear once they were viewed not as a decontextualised list of prohibitions, but as essential components in the intricate body of the Church’s teaching.

Well sure. Once you accept one bit of handwaving you might as well accept the others.




  1. MrFancyPants says

    Andrew Sullivan posted this same article today, of course with an approvingly catholic response to it. My own response was like yours. This is why I can’t stomach reading Sullivan on sundays.

  2. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    I wish I understood why it is that so many people seem more impressed by ‘consistency’ than ‘plausibility’.

  3. cafeeineaddicted says

    “the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency”

    I call shenanigans. Why would anyone be infuriated by the coherency of the ideas they discover? I assume that would be a liberating feeling, not one of aggravation, based at least, on my own experiences.

    This is not the sort of thing one would write about their own experience. It does sound like something meant to make it seem that people who are angry at the church, are really angry that it is so true they can’t find any flaws.

  4. cafeeineaddicted says

    “I wish I understood why it is that so many people seem more impressed by ‘consistency’ than ‘plausibility’.”

    I assume it is because its easier. Consistency only requires that your starting assumptions are true.
    Plausibility requires that you re-evaluate the validity of these assumptions with every bit of new data.

  5. says

    Sure the kid read Dawkins and Hitchens while growing up. But did she get them, at all? Did she really understand anything of what they wrote?

    Rationality filter: if it malfunctions or is non-existent, nonsense will seep through.

  6. Riptide says

    One of the more baffling sections of the piece is when the author mentions metaphysics, and then cursorily dismisses the supposed cursory dismissals by Dawkins et al. of Aquinas and Aristotle…and then, in the same breath as “metaphysics,” says that “Thomistic-Aristotelian ideas” are a “valid explanation of the natural world.” (Of course, she never names any of these ideas, much less connects them to the natural world or defends them against the also-unmentioned rebuttals).

    Like cavveineaddicted seems to imply, I think that the author is fulfilling the trope of the “angry atheist” who suddenly converts. At the very least, it’s written as a fluff piece for Catholics to feel smug about…and, likely, the author was really Catholic the whole time. I suppose it’s possible, maybe even probable, that the author was a “non-practicing Catholic” and simply primed for it her whole life…but there is nothing here that makes *me* want to reconsider my atheism in general and my a-Catholicism in specific.

  7. Tenebras says

    …How does a teenager “grow up” reading Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris? I’ve no doubt there are some very bright young people in the world, but… Call me a cynic, but this reeks of a believer lying out their ass just to make a story about how great their religion is and how terrible atheism is. I mean, her entire argument about morality is the same damn ignorant strawman trotted out by believers all the time.

  8. Randomfactor says

    “The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole,”

    Good. In that case, if there’s no evidence for any one of them–say, the resurrection to make it simple–then they all fall down.

  9. cafeeineaddicted says

    Harris’ End of Faith came out nearly a decade ago, the God Delusion 7 years ago and she would have been a young teenager when atheism was exploding online in places like Youtube. It would have been a weird statement 5 years ago, but not any more.
    Not saying I buy her story, as there are other problems with the essay which cast suspicion on the whole, but she does fit in the same age group that was participating in the Blasphemy Challenge.

  10. otrame says

    I know one of the more annoying tricks theists like to use is to claim atheists were never REAL Christians. And I know some atheists really do get converted.

    But honestly, this does not sound like an atheist. I mean, I guess it’s possible that she was brought up in a vaguely atheist household, read those books without actually understanding them, then read that syrupy crap and swallowed it whole because it sounded so “nice”.

    But this:

    The beauty and authenticity of even the most ostensibly difficult parts of Catholicism, such as the sexual ethics, became clear once they were viewed not as a decontextualised list of prohibitions, but as essential components in the intricate body of the Church’s teaching.

    was not written by a vaguely atheist turned Catholic because it is all so nice. This is pure church dogma, as rigid and absolute and cruel as it can be.

    So I have trouble believing that this little story is quite true.

  11. machintelligence says

    Wait five or ten years. The pendulum may swing in the other direction.

  12. Gretchen Robinson says

    “once you accept the basic conceptual structure, things fall into place with terrifying speed.”

    Once you leave reason behind, you are lost in shallow, woo-woo, mystical Catholicism, saints, visions, Cosmic Christ and all that stuff. I mean, “once you accept the basic conceptual structure,” where do you stop?

  13. says

    I’m not going to question whether or not she was an atheist, nor how well established and literate she was in atheism. Not only because it’s insulting to tell another what they believe, but because it doesn’t matter.

    If Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, and Tim Minchin all came out tomorrow and declared they’d found Jesus, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is “Is it true?” Just because this young lady isn’t an actual authority doesn’t make this any less an absurd attempt at argument from authority.

    Where’s the evidence? Where’s the logical consistency she speaks of? What basis does she found her “truth” on that doesn’t equally support Islam or Jainism?

    I don’t care how many former atheists find gods. I have every intention on not believing until I have a damn good reason to.

  14. smrnda says

    Her comments are the usual word-salad of Big Words you get from Catholic apologists, who try to cover not having anything to say by finding verbose and obfuscating ways to say it.

    “a God who was the Logos: not a supernatural dictator crushing human reason, but the self-expressing standard of goodness and objective truth towards which our reason is oriented, and in which it is fulfilled, an entity that does not robotically control our morality, but is rather the source of our capacity for moral perception, a perception that requires development and formation through the conscientious exercise of free will.”

    In that whole mess, I can’t think of anything that really means anything, except in catholic-speak.

    On growing up with Dawkins. I read “The Blind Watchmaker” when I was pretty young as it was sitting around the house. Dawkins didn’t make me an atheist, but he did at least make sure I got a good exposure to biology.

  15. bastionofsass says

    Even as a young Catholic school student, I was puzzled and distressed by what I was being taught I needed to believe as a Catholic.

    There were so many absurdities and inconsistencies in Catholic doctrine and practices, but more than anything, it was the unfairness of the way an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God treated the people he created, and also the unfair way people would be judged by God, that bothered me more than anything else.

    But as to absurdities and inconsistencies that even a child could see didn’t jibe with reality, these just pop into mind:

    Eden, talking snake, original sin;

    Immaculate conception of Mary (yes, it was Mary who was immaculately–without the “stain” of original sin–conceived, not Jesus);

    Virgin birth;


    Bodily assumption of Mary into heaven after “the end of her earthly life” (Catholicism not clear on whether Mary actually died or not before she was magically lifted into Heaven. So perhaps zombie Mary as well as Jesus?);


    The Trinity (it’s three, yes three, gods in one! What a deal!);

    Miracles, both Biblical and more recent (like Lourdes, Fatima);


    Nine First Friday devotions;


    Guardian angels.

    And then, as I got older, my growing awareness of the mistreatment of women by the church and the vast child sex abuse conspiracy, just confirmed what I suspected as a child: Catholicism, and indeed all religion, is just made-up BS used to control people’s behavior at the whim of those with religious power.

    Even if I give Megan the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her veracity and sincerity, I never did, and still don’t, understand how and why smart and educated people continue to believe in ridiculous Catholic myths and follow such silly, nonsensical, and sometimes dangerous rules.

  16. says

    I’m calling bullshit. There tons of reasons, but this one is the main reason:

    but the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency

    COHERENT?!? Only thing less coherent than polytheistic Catholicism is the Bible itself.

    Seriously… try talking to people who actually believed in Purgatory about the Church’s “coherency”.

  17. says

    Y’know, I can kind of understand this.

    I grew up in a conservative Evangelical home. When I started studying to become a pastor (my goal was to be a missionary), I was exposed to information about the history of the bible, the church, even just the parts of the bible that were never discussed in church when I was growing up, and it really shook me. (There’s a reason people tell Fundigelical kids “Don’t go to seminary; it’ll turn you into an atheist.”) Combine that with learning the truth about evolution, astronomy, etc., and my faith was seriously shaky.

    But I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my faith. And I ended up getting really involved in the Catholic church, to the point that I was working to convert and even thinking about becoming an nun. I attended mass almost daily, and of course every Sunday. It was comforting. They had the answers. You didn’t have to worry about the contradictions in the bible, because they explained them all. (There’s a reason you’re supposed to have the priests explain the bible and not try to understand it all on your own–they have the knowledge, training, the inspiration, the hotline to God.) They had Tradition, all the way back to Christ. And they were fine with synthesizing the truth about the natural world with religion (or, at least, far more comfortable with accepting evolution than my denomination had ever been.)

    Eventually, it wasn’t enough. I soon found the flaws in Catholicism that I had seen in my own denomination–even more so, really. And it wasn’t long before I was an atheist. (Thankfully, before I had taken the major step of formally converting or making any vows.) But I understand the seductiveness of that assurance. And sometimes I do miss the community I found, and the peaceful transcendence I felt in mass every morning.

    I’ve met several other atheists who are formal evangelicals or fundamentalists who came to atheism the same way…our original strict faith, slowly growing more and more liberal as we learned more, getting scared as we realized our faith was slipping away, joining the Catholic church where you don’t have to struggle with those questions (there are always answers, you see), and then eventually accepting atheism. (Some of us have a temporary stop-off in the spiritual/new-age community, but I mostly skipped that. I did my flirting with neo-paganism in High School.)

  18. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    I soon found the flaws in Catholicism

    There aren’t any flaws in Catholicism!

    As long as you accept the premise that any perceived flaws in Catholicism are a result of your own failure to understand and not a problem with Catholicism itself.

    Because of course, the first premise is that Catholicism is poofed into existence by an unknowable perfect being who can’t make mistakes. Once you assume that GODDIDIT, everything else just sort of… comes together.

  19. says

    “I grew up as an atheist reading Hitchens and Dawkins. Then I read Ratzinger. Now I’m Catholic.”

    Atheist or not, if you start non-Catholic and end up a practising Catholic because you think it’s a good idea that makes sense, well, fuck me backwards, you’re quite possibly beyond the grasp of reason anyway.

    Forget invoking the True Scotsman, this person was not Truly Reasonable.

    I also read the shortest book of [Ratzinger’s] I could find, On Conscience. I expected – and wanted – to find bigotry and illogicality that would vindicate my atheism.

    Why would you read a book about Catholicism by the Head of the Catholic Church if you wanted to investigate the charges laid by well-known non-Catholics? What would expect to find in it except a self-serving spiel dressed in attractive and comforting language and easily digestible apologetics? Such tracts are designed to do exactly as they have done with you – assuage doubts and create a veneer of reasonableness.

    I looked for absurdities and inconsistencies in the Catholic faith that would derail my thoughts from the unnerving conclusion I was heading towards, but the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency: once you accept the basic conceptual structure, things fall into place with terrifying speed

    Internal consistency isn’t any guide to plausibility or utility, let alone Truth. The Wire is internally consistent – so is Game Of Thrones, Dr Who and The Beverley Hillbillies. You can make any set of events, entities, concepts etc “make sense” within an arbitrarily defined boundary; it demonstrates nothing unless those things function as described outside of that boundary. Outside the Bible, Christian dogma (especially when augmented with the reams of aftermarket Catholic fan-fic) is nonsensical, self-contradictory and a significant proportion of the behaviour inspired or directly commanded by it is starkly contrary to most things considered moral and ethical in the modern free world.

    Regardless of someone’s starting point, I can think of no worse betrayal of human reason than to convert to Catholicism.

  20. Laurence says

    Even if I accept that the Catholic church is internally logically consistent, that doesn’t really prove that much. Logical consistency is pretty easy to get. The hard thing to get is true premises. That’s where the Catholic Church fails even assuming it’s internal logical consistency. Logic is a awesomely powerful tool, but you only get what you put in. If you put in false premises, then you are going to get a false conclusion. That’s why empiricism was such an innovation. It focused less on logical consistency and more of figuring out whether our premises were true.

  21. Azuma Hazuki says

    The arguments as presented might make a coherent whole, but only when you take them in historical vacuum. It wasn’t any list of Yahweh’s atrocities that got me out of Christianity; it was knowing and learning the history of the religion, and all the others around it.

    To clarify: no matter how abhorrent something is, that doesn’t change its truth value. All of the genocides, slavery, rape, torture, and so on is no more or less false because it is disgusting; it’s the fact that i can trace the evolution of Christian concepts back into Judaism, and outside it as well, that got me out of it.

    Laurence put it very well: the destruct-testing of hypotheses is what leads to progress. An argument may be valid but not sound.

  22. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    I’m hoping it is just a phase, otherwise it’s a sad, sorry surrender to delusion. I hope she finds her way out of it. If not, then her life’s journey is, if not over before it has begun, at least needlessly blinkered, stunted and impoverished.

    I started out vaguely Christian. Our family was nominally Christian, but not particularly devout or doctrinal. We occasionally attended our local United Church of Canada. For a time I sang in the choir. What started me on the path away from Christianity was the bits of it injected into the curriculum by my Grade three public school teacher back in 1970. Specifically it was the song “God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall”. I wanted to know why God did not catch the sparrow. My eight year old understanding realized that a god seeing/noticing/being aware of the fall of the sparrow did not mean that that god really cared about it. If the sparrow died, what was the good of God’s noticing it? Why didn’t God do something? Standing by and just watching seemed cruel. I imagine my teacher had no idea that her well-intentioned (from her perspective) introduction of this little song helped drive me from the faith she was attempting to instill. The whole process took many years longer, but that’s where it started.

    By the end of high school I’d come up with “rules for God”, a list of characteristics that a truly good god would posses (not taking sides in wars, not killing innocent people, not demanding sacrifices, not performing stupid, pointless “miracles” etc), most of which the god in the bible broke. Reading the Gospels, I thought some of what Jesus said was quite good, but I didn’t think he was any more (or less) a son of God than I was. Part of me wanted at least some of the stuff in the bible to be true (otherwise what was the point of it), but I already knew that not all of it was. One of my history courses was one on world religions. This was my first major inkling that other peoples had widely differing views of religion and that they could not all be correct. I thought that there was probably “something” out there, behind or above it all but that people had messed things up when they turned it into religion. The more I learned of science and history, however, the less there was for God to do.

    By the end of university I was agnostic. The most I could “believe” in was a nebulous deism, though I call it that only in retrospect. When asked to describe my religious views I would say I was agnostic or atheist depending on what sort of day I was having. (At this point, I was an atheist on “bad” days). I had once thought my inability to “see” or “understand” or “appreciate” the god(s) that so many others seemed to be able to see was the result of some sort of spiritual “colour blindness”, some failing or lack within myself. It gradually dawned on me that my detectors were fine, it was the people who claimed to be connected to a god who were mistaken.

    I still had some residual woo-ish bits of Ineffable, Transcendent Being hanging on for dear life, but they were the dwindling remnants of what little supernaturalism that was left in me; God’s Last Stand. It wasn’t a supernaturalsm that crudely intervened in human affairs, but just maybe something to start everything off, watching to see how things turned out. These final wisps of my deism finally faded away. A part of me had wanted there to be something bigger (but still a personality) behind it all. Sagan (Cosmos, Pale Blue Dot) and Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker) had finally shown me that not only was there no man behind the curtain, there was never any need for one. Where once this would have been a reluctant admission, I could now embrace this understanding and put it to use.

    Now I’m keenly aware of the manufactured nature of religion and the gross imposture of those who claim to know the will of a god. And I’m still learning about other impositions. The many good bloggers and commenters on FTB (Thank you Ophelia! Thank you Commenters!) and other sites around the internet are helping me to see the bigger picture of the intersectionality of the myriad forms and systems of ignorance, oppression and inequality that distort and scar human relations and hamper our efforts to learn how best to live in the world as it really is and how it really operates. We have a limited time in which to get this right. If we cannot fix things in time, the pitiless and inexorable forces of the material world on which we depend will react to our interference with and destruction of natural cycles in ways we would not wish or choose.

  23. 'dirigible says

    “the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency”

    I can easily see someone being infuriated by Catholicism’s consistent wrongness.

  24. says

    Hankstar @20: “The Wire is internally consistent – so is Game Of Thrones, Dr Who and The Beverley Hillbillies.”

    Dr Who is a lot more fun than Catholicism, but I have difficulty with the idea that it’s internally consistent :-)

  25. carlie says

    David Hart – that’s about what I was going to say, that internal consistency is a rare thing to find these days in tv and film, so maybe that’s why she was impressed.

  26. David Marjanović says

    the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency

    What? Is it such a surprising concept that a coherent system of thought can be built on wrong premises? Fearless Flightsuit was coherent in thought and actions. He stayed the course all the way to the cliff.

    Eden, talking snake

    Not taken literally anymore. I grew up Catholic, too, but in Austria.

    Immaculate conception of Mary (yes, it was Mary who was immaculately–without the “stain” of original sin–conceived, not Jesus);

    (Well, so was Jesus, but the chain of inheritance was broken one link earlier by a special miracle, because Mary had to be a pure vessel for the pure Jesus. Totally logical. By the meaning that “logic” had in the 13th century and thereabouts.)


    Many Catholics believe it’s meant to be symbolic and are surprised when they find out it’s all supposed to be literal.

    Miracles, both Biblical and more recent (like Lourdes, Fatima);

    Deemphasized where I come from, but not elsewhere…


    A thing of the past… largely.

    Nine First Friday devotions;

    What’s that?


    The first time I heard of those was a few days ago on Pharyngula.

    Guardian angels.

    A widespread belief, but not spread by the church where I come from. It’s turning into angel woo.

  27. Dave J L says

    Oh why did I subject myself to some of the comments under that article? So many fuzzy words and fuzzy concepts bandied around. One commenter actually uses the argument that we can’t see air but we still accept its existence because we feel its effects – do these people not understand how analogies are meant to work? That when it comes to religion ‘see’ is generally understood as ‘detect in any way at all’, not the everyday visual ‘see’? Being able to objectively and independently verify the existence of air following initial sensory input is somewhat different to a bunch of people convincing themselves that rolling ideas round and round their heads and repeating the same mantras and rituals in a mass orgy of mutual reinforcement and self-delusion constitutes evidence. If it did, all religions would be true.

  28. lpetrich says

    Christian apologists seem to love all these sinner-turned-saint stories. Why isn’t there anyone who ever describes how they were indifferent to religion before they discovered their favorite Christian sect?

    Also, this talk about the “Logos” seems like some familiarity with highbrow theology that makes me suspicious.

  29. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    Do you know these Amazon reviews for products that just read so much like the company’s own PR fluff that it isn’t even funny? This is the religious version of that.

  30. Nathair says

    this talk about the “Logos” seems like some familiarity with highbrow theology that makes me suspicious.

    How about a twitter feed captioned “Tweets mostly about theology”?

    This story whiffs of Lying For Jesus.

  31. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    “At first I was very sceptical whether the new NiceCorp PowerDoodle would really deliver the fantastic performance that is promised by the manufacturer. Especially since I was disappointed by OtherBrands MediocreDoodle handling and performance. But after trying out the new NiceCorp PowerDoodle with its new patented XtraFeature (TM) feature, which makes the PowerDoodle the perfect tool for your home and/or company, I am absolutely convinced. 5/5 Stars”

  32. Penthisilea says

    Perhaps she could become a Nun and deepen her experience of the mysteries.

  33. says

    What are the chances that this will be considered a miracle when it comes time to try and make Benedict a saint?

  34. Anoia says

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.

    There is the occasional atheist who converts, however I have yet to see one – who is not a fake – converting to a tribal monotheistic religion, usually they become i.e. deists.

    She’s a fake. She might have not gone to church regularly, but an atheist she was not.

    Hahahahahahaha @ Catholicism being coherent. I didn’t even buy that as a kid (I was raised in polish Catholicism). She should at least try to make her lies more convincing, if she wants to claim she was an atheist. Reminds me of that fake atheist from the USA that made (still makes?) the rounds on FOX & Co. a while back.

  35. says

    @Nathanair — all that is AFTER her miraculous conversion which she claims was last easter. However using my finely tuned doxxing skills I’ve found some interesting shit.

    Last Easter, when I was just beginning to explore the possibility that, despite what I had previously believed and been brought up to believe, there might be something to the Catholic faith, I read Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel. One passage in particular struck me.

    Seems someone is lying… Her current Twitter account was created shortly after last easter when she was “converted” so cannot really be used as any sort of evidence. So I thought I’d poke around and see if Megan had written anything else before then to confirm her atheism. Seems from following her Twitter image she used to write for this blog ->

    Was sent to the US by the conservative leadership http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/ who seem suspiciously religious to me. Morton, the leader of this group; http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/contactus/staff.cfm?staff=7159

    …he was the President’s liaison to conservative, veterans and religious groups.

    So I looked up some more of her articles… Seems she used to be called “Megan Moore” ..

    Had a handle of @MeganMoore93 … My goodness that is deleted and she created a new account shortly after her “conversion” … Colour me sceptical. The joys of Google let me find some of her tweets and I discovered she has written some other blog posts, before this “conversion”. For a start that one about the Pope was right on the cusp of this “conversion”.

    Here is a lovely one on how gay marriage is not needed as she finds it totally acceptable that teh gheys only get civil partnerships. Its a *nice* compromise.

    Also the Bish is deffo no bigot for being anti-gay marriage, oh noes!

    Many congratulations and best wishes to Frs @jamesdbradley and Daniel Lloyd, ordained this morning:

    Tweet from the deleted account – 15 months ago… Ok so she, err, has friends who get ordained. No problem there!

    RT @frhumphries: Santorum (who is apparently electable) CRUSHES obamacare! http://t.co/8GfXVKL6 #Catholic #HealthCare #Election #IMVOTING

    Yeah so RT doesn’t imply endorsement… Right… This was well before her “conversion”.

    What’s this? Megan Moore “Catholic prolife campaigner” Storify…

    Over a year ago…

    Megan Moore @meganmoore93
    @bernardmccabe @citizen_sane After all, if the good Lord did not intend us to eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?

    Could be sarcastic?

    Year and a half ago

    Megan Moore @meganmoore93
    post combining the New Evangelisation and Lord of the Rings… *punches air* YEEEEEESSSS http://t.co/p5MHg1jB via @opinionatedcath

    Here is her deleted wordpress blog with in depth articles about Catholicism before Easter last year when she was “converted”

    TWO things that could blow away my “liar” theory and evidence…

    1. She was not talking about “last” Easter (2012) but (2011) or 2010… Etc…
    2. Megan Moore is not Megan Hodder
    –> Well the author “Megan Moore” uses the same profile pic and that is all the evidence I’ve been bothered to look for.

    Seems pretty convincing to me. Liar for Jesus? Yup!

  36. brucegorton says

    I don’t know if she is a fake former atheist, and frankly I don’t much care. Her reasoning is pretty damn bad, and her claims to have ” avidly read Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens” strike me as utter bullshit – an avid reader would have noticed all three would frown upon reading to confirm your beliefs rather than challenge them.

    Her argument at heart is the same presuppositionist crap of “Well, if you accept the premises of this argument as being true it all falls into place, demonstrating the premises really are true.”

    There is a name for that, it is called circular reasoning. It is fallacious because it demonstrates nothing.

  37. otrame says

    Okay, that blog is straight up Catholic hard line apologist. It is certainly not a recent convert. There is nothing wrong with a catholic writing a catholic blog, and converts are frequently the most enthusiastic and unquestioning, but they don’t learn how to sound like that just by studying the catechcism.The language usage reeks of a long time under the formal tutelage of serious Catholic theologians. .

    Forget what I said about “maybe vague atheist turned Catholic” above @10. That conversion story is plain old lying for Jesus. You can almost hear ol’ Bill Donohue fapping away to it.

  38. says

    I’ve got a comment in moderation above – she is lying all right. Blogging about Latin mass being great and believing in god over a year ago. She is also anti-gay marriage and a conservative “leader” sent on a mission to the US to learn how to be a better conservative activist. Seems “lying for Jesus” was lesson no.1

  39. says

    Jebus… More bullshit in 2012 likes include Thomas Aquinas on her facebook page! Catholic memes! Pro-life shit all over the place.

    Her Dad is on there too… Never “liked” a single atheist thing on Facebook… So yeah her “atheist family” are like every other atheist family in the UK who just don’t even think about it. I’m guessing she was hardly indoctrinated as an atheist.

    What a bullshitter.

  40. says

    BTW this is all predicated on https://twitter.com/meganhodder1 being the writer of the article. I’m sure she is Megan Moore as well now as her facebook page has the same profile image and is for Megan Moore.

    Can anyone verify that @meganhodder1 is the writer of the article? Seems very likely especially as that account talks about her “atheist family” and retweets Catholic Herald stories.

  41. adrianharper says

    I rather suspect that Megan doesn’t put as much emphasis on truth as on her social comfort. Many people are like that.

    I hope Megan’s new beliefs don’t crash into some real life challenge – although other Catholics seem to manage to square what they ‘actually’ do with what they ‘officially’ believe.

  42. says

    I find it interesting that a “conversion” story of atheist-to-Catholic is some sort of MAJOR news event — something that a publication finds interesting enough to give her tons of meat space in … well, well, of all things, the Catholic Herald.

    But what about the opposite? Aren’t thousands upon thousands of people leaving the Catholic church every year/month/week/day?

    Where are those stories?

    Dog bites man — not news. Man bites dog — news.

    Even if real — which I highly doubt. Like others, the essay is so tightly wrapped in Catholic apologetics, it bespeaks someone who was trained since infancy. I’ll bet you’ll find her First Communion photo somewhere if you cared to look. All white and prayer-y.

  43. Pieter B, FCD says

    When I read the OP I immediately flashed on those calls a certain professional bloviator used to get that began “Rush, I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but…”

  44. cafeeineaddicted says

    Let’s not skip ahead oolon, Where does it say that her parents chose this godfather? If she turned catholic now, presumably she chose a godfather for her baptism to catholicism, not as a child.

  45. says

    Hah! Good point, Pieter. You know what that reminds me of? Sock puppets who turn up here to say things that begin with “I used to be a fan of Pharyngula/PZ/FTB/you, but…”

  46. says

    @cafeeineaddicted, yeah the main bit of evidence in that tweet is that it is that “Megan Hodder” who wrote the article and hence all the other links I provide to her years of Catholic pro-life and anti-gay marriage activism as “Megan Moore” are the same person. So there is a wealth of evidence that this is no “recent conversion” as no New Atheist tweets Catholic propaganda about pro-life issues and is anti-gay marriage… And no I cannot see how that is a “No True Scotsman” … She was fundamentally not an atheist and not a “New” or “Militant” atheist which is what they are dancing around.

    So when she says she “recently converted” and rejected “what she previously believed” … Thats a lie, godfather or no.

    BTW do fully grown Catholics who are baptised really take godparents? That is freaky…

  47. cafeeineaddicted says

    I’m not disagreeing with the thrust of your research, I just don’t want us to jump the gun, and make false claims that will be used to discredit the rest.
    There are definitely indications that she is being less than forthright, but the godfather thing isn’t. Yes, you do need a godfather in order to get baptized, even if it is as an adult.

  48. cafeeineaddicted says

    From that blog oolon fished out:

    This morning I had read to me the Pastoral Letter sent from the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark, which sets out the Catholic case against the Coalition’s plans to redefine the institution of marriage. It made the case with eloquence and compassion, and got me thinking, as I often do, why the Catholic view of human nature – sometimes challenging, yes, but always inspiring and empowering – is presented as something which can only divide and exclude, something that has to be controlled through legislation in case it leads us to be ‘discriminatory’. There was certainly no hatred or animosity that I could detect in our small seaside church this morning as we were reminded that marriage is something special, but also something specific: the life-long union of a man and a woman, a covenant entered primarily, though not exclusively, for the purpose of raising children, and lived through love and fidelity.

    So she was already attending church. Of course, she could have done so before being baptized but it doesn’t sound like someone “just beginning to explore the possibility that, despite what I had previously believed and been brought up to believe, there might be something to the Catholic faith,”

  49. says

    Quoted @60:

    It made the case with eloquence and compassion, and got me thinking, as I often do, why the Catholic view of human nature…is presented as something which can only divide and exclude, something that has to be controlled through legislation in case it leads us to be ‘discriminatory’.

    Tangentially to the discussion about the authenticity of Ms. Moore/Hodder’s conversion: note the inversion of implied action in that sentence. The proposed legislation is “controlling the Catholic view of human nature”? As Ophelia would say: Wut? No, it’s refusing to let Catholic views control other people’s behaviour, as determined by the law of the land. Her statement is just a hi-falutin’ version of the by-now-familiar “You’re oppressing us by not letting us oppress Teh Geyz!!!” These people really can’t deal with the fact that the world is deeming them increasingly irrelevant.

  50. says

    Anoia @ #41:

    There is the occasional atheist who converts, however I have yet to see one – who is not a fake – converting to a tribal monotheistic religion, usually they become i.e. deists.

    Leah Libresco

    Having read her atheist posts, she was undoubtedly an atheist. Then she converted to Catholicism. She has yet (as far as I know) to respond to all of us (myself included) who’ve wanted to engage her in a dialogue as to why… not why become a believer, but why become a Catholic.

    That said, I’m still sticking by my “bullshit” on this one. There’s simply no way. I like the analogy to Amazon reviews that read so clearly like written advertisements for the product from the company that made it. This reads exactly like that.

  51. says

    Go for it… If I find anything else I’ll tweet you. Actually I’ll DM her facebook to you. Thought that was a little too personal to put on here.

  52. otrame says

    So, Catholic Herald fell for her little story, which is understandable, since it said what they want to hear. So many Catholics becoming atheists, but here is one going the other way–wheeee!

    Unless they are lying too.

    The pathetic eagerness of most of the commenters on that piece actually show just now much pressure their world view is under.

    Think she is planning on making a little cash out of being a recent convert? That would explain all the deleting of previous blogs and twitter accounts.

  53. says

    @otrame, I saw some discussion of mysterious funding for going to Dublin. Hopefully not the empowering women in secularism conference ;-) … Anyway I guess there will be people keen to push her now she is a weapon to use against the horrible atheist world-view.

  54. otrame says


    Somehow I expect the horrible atheist world view will survive the assault.

    Every time something like this comes up, I remember Mark Twain” “I wonder how they could lie so. THe result of practice, no doubt.”

  55. mildlymagnificent says

    Maybe it’s an Australian thing, but I find the term godfather a bit problematic. Here, adult converts take on a “sponsor”, or two or more, who acts as a guide and handholder through the process of education and catechism and acceptance into the faith. But I admit I didn’t pay a lot of attention to what actually happened with these people during the Easter rituals – I was in the choir so I was leafing through the music or whatever – so I could easily have missed something important.

  56. hjhornbeck says

    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS… apparently… @63:

    I have my doubts about Libresco, actually. For one thing, she described her moral system as virtue ethics; the morality of any given action is contingent on things you possess. Are you conscious? So am I! How about we make a social contract to protect consciousness? That sort of thing. All Humanists are virtue ethicists.

    Contrast that with divine command; moralitly is determined by an external entity. God says murder is bad? Then murder is bad, by gum! Almost all religions are divine command, most notably Catholicism.

    Now, why did Libresco convert? In one of her interviews, she mentioned that it was because Catholicism was most in line with her moral system. But Catholicism is the dead opposite of virtue ethics! This is no small mistake, either, from someone who claimed to be clued in to these things.

    (Sorry for the lack of links. Not enough time!)

  57. says

    @70: Not that I’m an expert Catholic moral thought, but from what I’ve seen (based partly on a lot of arguments with a knowledgeable Catholic friend over the years, and you also get echoes of it from Anglicans like C.S.Lewis), it’s not based on Divine Command, at least not in the obvious and simplistic way you hear from Protestant fundies. It seems to be more like: such-and-such is (descriptively) the natural order of the universe, what human nature is, therefore these ethical precepts and moral practices follow. Hence the frequent references to “Natural Law”.

    The appeal of Catholicism — as gathered from my friend, from what I recall Libresco saying, also from Libby Anne re her brief detour through Catholicism, and now from Megan Wossname (maybe she got married?) — seems to be that it provides a fully worked-out system with significant intellectual depth. I wouldn’t at all disagree if you choose read that last bit as “contorted verbiage thick enough to effectively obfuscate the fallacies”, but nonetheless it did manage to earn itself a place in the Western intellectual tradition.

  58. hjhornbeck says

    Eamon Knight @71:

    I was being a bit cheeky in my description. Divine command may imply a conscious external agent as a moral lawgiver, but there are other approaches that fall more in line with “natural law” as you describe it. As for virtue ethics:

    Virtue ethicists have eschewed any attempt to ground virtue ethics in an external foundation while continuing to maintain that their claims can be validated.

    The important part is the denial of an external source for morality, which puts it dead opposite to Catholic dogma:

    The precepts of Christian morals are also part of the doctrines of faith, for they were announced or confirmed by Divine Revelation.

    So I still think there’s either a fundamental contradiction in Libresco’s switch to virtue ethics, and her recent embrace of Catholicism. I suspect she doesn’t understand what it means and was just blindly invoking the term:

    [Another example is] switching to virtue ethics. I used to think in a very deontological frame of mind. There are rules and I was following them and it is virtue to follow them. But honestly, the way I was thinking about that was not incompatible with solipsism—and moral systems probably should be! My devotion to the rules wasn’t dependent on people existing.

    I try not to do this as much, but sometimes when I’m frustrated with someone [I’d wish] the person would be even worse, because then my forbearance would be even better. That’s a terrible thing to wish on someone! But not incompatible with what I was thinking. When I switched to virtue ethics I had to think, “No, I wish this person was better for their own sake.”

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