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No one expects the Atheist Inquisition!

The Catholics shall fear us. They already feel the tightening of the thumbscrews, they hear the creak of the Iron Maiden closing, and they smell the reek of the spilled beer on the Comfy Chair. And oh, how the Catholics are squealing at their oppression. I have in my hands a list of three, no, four crimes against Holy Mother Church, all horrors that no civilized society should inflict on any of its members, no, not even the ones who rape little children and call it holy.

Oh, wait. Now that I look at them, the torments aren’t really that bad.


Oh, the humanity. Look at those sad, suffering faces, those underprivileged, unemployed saintly servants of the Lord. I weep to see their patent deprivation and demeaned status. Set them free!
  • Catholics are forced to use contraception! Uh, actually, Health and Human Services is requiring that private health insurance plans cover contraception for those who use it. So what they’re really complaining about is that they have to pay for coverage that includes something they won’t use. Just like I have to pay for an insurance plan that covers diseases of the uterus, or worse, cancer. Cancer is expensive, and I don’t have it; I expect to be deaded by heart disease, so why should my money be used for those deadbeats with a horrible disease I haven’t got?

  • Catholics are excluded from government jobs! They cite two things: the first one is in incomprehensibly mangled English, but I think it’s something about how doctors assisting refugees have to be willing to give abortions if needed. Homeless women never have life-threatening gynecological conditions, so it’s perfectly reasonable for devout Catholic doctors to let them die if they do. The second problem is that USAID isn’t going to support HIV/AIDS programs that don’t recognized the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the disease. It’s all the same nuisance requirement: they’re hiring people to do some specific work, and they’re unfairly refusing to hire people who say they’ll only do half the job.

  • The government wants to control who the Church can hire! Meddlesome bastards. They actually expect the divine and sacred faith to respect their employees civil rights. Waaaaah!

  • The Department of Justice has officially called Catholics bigots! It’s true. They’ve come right out and said that the church’s efforts to impose their views on all people, including non-Catholics, that gay people are wicked and evil sinners who will burn in hell and do not deserve equal treatment under the law, is somehow bigoted. Civil servants who are Catholic in states that allow gay marriage are facing legal action because they refuse to do their job. Catholic adoption agencies are being squeezed out of business for the innocent act of hating same-sex couples and telling everyone that they are bad, bad parents. Hating people and discriminating against them for their natures isn’t bigotry, is it?

You know, that’s just pathetic.

Clearly, the Atheist Inquisition needs to step up their game, and do a little research to learn how to do their job. Maybe we should study how Catholics have historically managed any group that disagrees with them? Surely, they wouldn’t complain if we were scrupulously fair and only did to officials of the Catholic Church what the Catholic Church has done to heretics in the past, would they?

We’d be doing them a favor. Right now, they look rather foolish sitting there in opulent robes, dandling terrified children on their knees and demanding that we allow vast populations to suffer from poverty and sexually transmitted diseases, all while squealing and crying because someone won’t give them money for not distributing condoms, or insisting that doctors ought to be willing to do simple surgeries that save women’s (sinners!) lives. They’d at least look like they had good reason to whine if they were on fire, rather than being told they don’t get to interfere in people’s lives.

Comments

  1. Steve LaBonne says

    I think we should be kinder than they were; no rack, no being burned alive. Simply apply the “kill them all” standard of the Albigensian Crusade.

  2. Dick the Damned says

    …they look rather foolish sitting there in opulent robes, dandling terrified children on their knees …

    I didn’t know they called it “dandling”. If that’s a euphemism for something nasty, what’s going to be done about it?

  3. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I just posted the following on Hoopes’ blog. Somehow I doubt it’ll make it out of moderation:

    What a whiner Tom Hoppes is. Imagine, the government not hiring people who refuse to do the job they’re being hired for. And Catholics have to pay for insurance benefits they shouldn’t be using (even though everyone knows most Catholic couples ignore the rules the professional virgins of the clergy insist on). It’s like paying for the fire department even though most people never have a fire.

    The Catholic hierarchy are bigots. If they don’t want gays to get married then don’t marry them. But to spend millions of dollars to keep any gays from getting married because “God thinks what they do in bed is icky” is pure bigotry. Sorry if the truth is unpalatable.

  4. says

    How unfair of the government not to let them kill people. It’s not their fault that those sinners have HIV/AIDS. They should have just not had sex in the first place. Durrr. Same for them wimmins. If they hadn’t all been dirty whores with their poor people sex, they wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and suffered life-threatening complications. Clearly this is not the fault of the Catholic church and it is disgusting that the ebil government can’t see god’s holy plan to make sure some rich, white men in dresses don’t have to ever face uncomfortable. Ever.

    Excuse, me. I need a shower now.

  5. abb3w says

    …actually, GSS suggests about a quarter US Catholics do use contraception — possibly more often than Protestants. And while it’s been a while since the GSS asked (1990), 40% Catholics thought government spending on contraception should increase.

  6. says

    I kind of wish that there logic was valid (you know if it weren’t for the horrible sexist repercussions.)

    “Sorry, boss. I can’t spend the next 8 hours stuffing envelopes. Jesus said it would make him cry. Instead, Jesus said that if I sat here and played video games he would be happy and not smite America.”

    No rest for the wicked.

  7. raven says

    …actually, GSS suggests about a quarter US Catholics do use contraception

    Higher than that.

    A recent survey from the US CDC showed that 99% of relevant women use birth control.

    It was 98% for the Catholics.

    No one pays any attention to the priests any more. Why should they?

    Contraception: Unintended and Teen Pregnancy | CDC …www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/…/contraception.htmCached – Similar
    You +1’d this publicly. Undo
    by G Button
    Jun 29, 2011 – In the United States, most women of reproductive age use birth control. Between 2006–2008, 99% of women who had ever had sexual …

  8. Tualha says

    So what they’re really complaining about is that they have to pay for coverage that includes something they won’t use.

    That sounds like a straw man argument, PZ. They don’t object to paying for contraception because they don’t want to use it; they object to paying for contraception because they don’t want anyone to use it and think that using it is immoral and against god’s laws.

  9. says

    I have a reoccurring dream, well, perhaps nightmare, where Catholicism is represented as a monstrously tall, golden, jewel encrusted tower and it’s toppling over. It’s about to hit the ground and shatter, but it’s fall is so slow that I always wake up before it hits. Perhaps it’s because I’m holding my subconscious breath too long?
    Reality feels a little like that. They’re so big that it will take a sustained effort for many years to topple them. They could already be on their way down, but who knows how long before they really shatter?
    I hope I see the day.
    fuckers

  10. RAM says

    I’m interested in the case of the Lutheran parochial school teacher who was basically fired under the “ministerial” exception, especially since the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod prohibits the ordination of women ministers. So apparently, she’s only a minister for firing purposes, not for actual religious ministering purposes. The Christian mind does indeed work in mysterious ways…

  11. MadScientist says

    “Catholic adoption agencies are being squeezed out of business…”

    That’s funny, as I remember it, the catlicks were threatening to close down orphanages etc. unless the government bowed to its demands to scupper proposed laws which the kiddiefiddlers didn’t approve of.

  12. Hazuki says

    This, folks, is one of the most blatant and transparent examples of a persecution complex on the planet. Look well.

    And it can ONLY be supported because they axiomatically believe that they are The One True Faith and Know What God Wants (TM). Therefore, they believe that they are a small cabal of saints on a planet whose end is approaching (and has been for ~1900 years…) and are being persecuted for that reason.

    I think we should pay them back in kind, of course. No one tortures like the Catholics did, except of course the Protestants; the closest secular parallels I can think of are the Mexican drug cartels.

    What say we take red-hot pincers, molten metal, the rack, the Spanish Donkey, the Boots, the head crusher, the cat’s paw, and the Judas Cradle to them? :) Turnabout is fair play after all. And it’s STILL far less painful and much MUCH faster than what they say their wonderful all-loving God will do to us.

    Wonder how many Universalists could be produced at the end of a blowtorch…

  13. Pan says

    Adorable.

    Catholics are constantly insulting and discriminating everyone who isn’t exactly like them. But if you even insinuate, that you don’t fully agree with them, they start whinig about being persecuted just because of their faith.

    Hand me a bucket, please. I have to puke.

  14. Hazuki says

    I still say we torture them. If nothing else it may, pun intended, scare the Hell out of them and get them to realize just what it is they believe.

  15. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart OM, liar and scoundrel says

    Anubis,
    I totally agree. Tax the fuckers! Tax them into oblivion!

  16. Jacob V says

    [Python] Finally! I’ve always wanted to have my own brand of non religious Inquisition to join; and if we can combine it with the Ministry for Silly Walks we’ll have an overwhelming tool to protect our rights to waste sperm!! [/Python]

  17. ChasCPeterson says

    Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.

    That’s correct: he “edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest”.

  18. says

    F my A. This is why you are my favorite PZ:

    I was reading this, the whole time thinking I was on Greg Laden’s blog (no offense to him, his work is wonderful) and saying to myself “This is EXCELLENT. This is my new favourite blog in all theee land!”

    Then, to my amusement, I was on Pharyngula. Damn. Nice post.

  19. Marius Rowell says

    So happy to be a lapsed Catholic after reading this, though I admit I don’t use condoms – having the snip makes it unnecessary, as does letting my wife have sole rights to use the working bits. For above reason no abortions needed either, but I see no reason to let anyone die for dogma, especially after my own mother was excommunicated for not dying after the birth of my youngest sister (#6), and if the job description clearly states you will hand out condoms and you won’t do it, don’t apply. Ditto for groups who use dogma to claim exemption from civil rights laws – if you can’t obey the law stop asking for government handouts.

  20. Brownian says

    Clearly, the Atheist Inquisition needs to step up their game, and do a little research to learn how to do their job.

    Don’t tempt me. And the perfect punishment for them is obvious: force them to live according to their Bibles. A few weeks outside in the “Matthew 6:25-34″ pen and we’ll either have evidence of genuine miracles or be rid of the Catholics forever.

  21. Ewan Macdonald says

    Gotta say I don’t like the conclusion to this column, even as a joke. It would be far, far too easy to take it out of context.

    However, to keep it in perspective, it’s about a millionth as wrong as is expecting the force of state, tax and law to fund the oppression of women and dissemination of nonsense.

  22. Jacob V says

    @mikeg “What does the tag [python] do?”

    Nothing, nothing at all.
    See youtube / Monty Python:
    1. Season 2 – Episode 15 “The Spanish Iquisition”
    2. The Meaning of Life, “Every Sperm is Sacred”
    3. And “Ministry for Silly Walks.”

  23. Ariel says

    In general, you overstated your case. I will use contraception as an example; similar points could be made probably in some other cases you mention.

    So what they’re really complaining about is that they have to pay for coverage that includes something they won’t use. Just like I have to pay for an insurance plan that covers diseases of the uterus, or worse, cancer. Cancer is expensive, and I don’t have it.

    As I said, you overstated your case. It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible. And this general problem is real. Are we always ready to give such rights to the government? Should the government play the role of a moral arbiter? If not, or at least not always, then what are the limits? Is your point that the argumentation of the Catholics against contraception doesn’t make any sense (for my part, I tend to agree with that)? If so, do you want to make the government an arbiter in assessing the moral argumentation?

    It can be a very delicate issue. In my country the taxpayers money is used to fund some religious expenses and the atheists protest against such practices. Then comes PZ and says to our atheists: “cancer is expensive, and I don’t have it, so why should I pay? Is that your complaint?”. I think it’s not a very good answer, neither to the atheists in my country, nor to the Catholics. The real issue is rather that we do not approve of these activities and that’s why we don’t want to be forced to pay for them. Neither we want to be forced to engage in them on pain of unemployment. And yes, we would treat laws of this sort as oppressive. Answering the Catholics, one should take into consideration that they are (probably) viewing these issues in exactly the same way. Otherwise your answer will be as worthless as in fact it is.

    Especially pathetic are comments like “Maybe we should study how Catholics have historically managed any group that disagrees with them?”. What do you want to say, PZ? Are you suggesting that it’s our turn now?

  24. says

    @mikeg: “What does the tag [python] do?”

    Basically, it makes a huge foot descend from above and crush the content of that web page into a crumbly mess. It’s been a standard HTML tag for a while now.

  25. crowepps says

    I am really tired of the “force people to violate their conscience” complaint. Nobody is forcing Catholics to do anything. If they didn’t have their hands out for government MONEY the issue wouldn’t even come up. As the constitution provides, the law already allows Catholic organizations using mostly Catholic personnel and serving mostly Catholics clients with privately raised money to do whatever they want.

    Catholics have an absolute right to stand on principle no matter what the cost; they have ZERO right to shift the cost of their principles to other people, whether through discriminating against them as clients, economic penalties on employees, or by refusing to provide necessary services.

  26. says

    Ariel – we all pay for parts of government we don’t like. Catholics must also.
    We the people set the rules via our government and everyone follows.
    In the US, the courts on many occasions have declared that civil laws prevail over religious rules.
    Note: Morality comes from ‘the people’ and is later adopted by religions.

  27. Daniel Lafave says

    Ariel,

    Should an insurance plan (in the US) be required to cover contraception? Yes. Are we ready to give such rights to the government? Yes.

    Under the current Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence set out in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)–authored by Catholic-American Justice Antonin Scalia–“if prohibiting the exercise of religion is not the object of the [law] but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended.” The requirement that insurance plans cover contraception is not being proposed with the object of curtailing the religious exercise of Catholics or anyone else. It’s purpose is to ensure that women (and men) have access to contraception from a variety of insurance plans. Thus, it is constitutional, and it is good policy too. Women shouldn’t have to pick from fewer insurance plan choices is they want contraception coverage.

  28. raven says

    Ariel lying:

    As I said, you overstated your case. It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible.

    The Catholic liars are here!!! To no ones surprise. That is all any theist has, is lies.

    I posted above a link from the US CDC. 98% of US Catholic women in relevant cohorts use birth control. The family size of US Catholics is identical to the national average at 2+.

    Who is this group of people who find birth control morally reprehensible? It isn’t the vast majority of Catholics for sure.

    So it is a very small group of twisted old men, celibates supposedly who make up the priests. And who don’t pay much or anything in the way of taxes. The churches are tax exempt.

  29. raven says

    It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible.

    We all end up paying for things we find morally reprehensible.

    Iraq cost 2-3 trillion dollars and ended up killing two of my friends. As well as hundreds of thousands of others. For nothing, it was just a counterproductive mistake. My taxes paid for that and all I got out of it was two dead bodies and higher gas prices.

    The churches and the Catholic church as tax exempt in the USA. I’m subsidizing the kiddie fuckers in one of the oldest criminal enterprises in existence. I find this morally repugnant.

    If you receive any government support, student loans, housing loans, food stamps etc..then I’m subsidizing a brain dead lying troll. I find that morally repugnant.

    That is life in a democracy. Perhaps you could find a Catholic theocracy somewhere and join it?

  30. raven says

    In my country the taxpayers money is used to fund some religious expenses and the atheists protest against such practices.

    Well they should.

    It hasn’t been legal to do that in the USA since the USA started centuries ago. Separation of church and state.

    Guess what moron. Nothing much happens when governments don’t support religions with money. The world doesn’t end. God doesn’t send lightning bolts raining down. In fact, the USA is the most religious of the first world democracies.

    Ariel, your rant comes across as gibberish. Do you actually have a point and can you actually write coherent paragraphs?

  31. Daniel Lafave says

    Raven,

    Governments in the United States (Federal, state, and local) can fund religious organizations to provide social services, and many do receive those funds. If anything, the religious opposition to regulation of organizations receiving those funds is an argument for avoiding the entanglement of religion and the state that comes from such arrangements. If Catholic organizations aren’t willing to abide by generally-applicable regulations regarding adoption services or health-care, then everyone is better off if the government and those religious organizations part ways.

  32. raven says

    Governments in the United States (Federal, state, and local) can fund religious organizations to provide social services, and many do receive those funds.

    Yeah, I know. They are supposed to use government funds only for nonreligious purposes and are not supposed to use those services to try to convert people.

    In practice, they edge it as much as they can and occasionally just completely ignore it. During Bush’s, Faith Based Initiatives, the churches got hundreds of millions of USD. I doubt anyone has the slightest idea where all that money went and is going. A lot of churches used it to build new buildings.

    The churches can and will shake down the government any way they can. Why not, its free money. Right now a group of fundie cultists are getting huge tax breaks from Kentucky and the county to build…a replica of Noah’s Ark for a xian theme park.

    Just because it occurs doesn’t mean I have to like it. That morally reprehensible thing again. And it could be worse. In some countries, the state heavily subsidizes the churches.

    Germany signed a deal to subsidize the Catholic church in 1933. The signers were Adolph Hitler and Pope Pius XI. The ReichsKonkordat is still in force in 2011 and the RCC still gets German taxpayer money and freedom from a lot of their laws.

  33. otrame says

    I never thought I’d live to see it, but at the rate they are going, I just might see the Catholic Church reduced to a few whiny creeps in their palaces. Not long after that, there won’t be any palaces. Lovely thought.

    In the mean time, what that guy is complaining about is that they are being required to obey the law. That’s all, just obey the damned law.

    There are always a few in any society that don’t want to obey the law. We generally call them criminals.

  34. otrame says

    Think we can start getting serious about requiring churches to pay taxes like everyone else? I know it will be a long fight (one I probably won’t see won), but if the theists want to prove how much faith they have, how about they continue in their faith when they have to pay their share, like everyone else?

  35. says

    From Goethe’s Faust, 1806

    “Die Kirche hat einen guten Magen, /

    Hat ganze Länder aufgefressen /

    Und doch noch nie sich übergessen; /

    Die Kirch’ allein meine liebe Frauen, /

    Kann ungerechtes Gut verdauen.”

    (The church has a good stomach ; she has eaten up whole countries, and has never yet over-eaten herseH ; the church alone, my good women, can digest unrighteous wealth.)

  36. says

    (context: Faust, with the help of the devil Mephisto, has sent his love, Gretchen anonymously, I believe, a lot of valuable jewelry. Gretchen is shocked to receive all that, and doesn’t know who woud send her such riches. Her mother is quite pious and suggests to donate it to the (Catholic) church, in which the priest, who is quoted in the verse above, encourages them)

  37. says

    During Bush’s, Faith Based Initiatives, the churches got hundreds of millions of USD. I doubt anyone has the slightest idea where all that money went and is going.

    They used to publish it on the whitehouse.gov website. I made the mistake of reading it, once. They spent at least $300mil of taxpayer’s money to fund programs that teach teenagers to abstain from sex. There were also churches that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on new parking lots and facilities (to teach abstinence in!) – virtually none of it was audited; it was just like the Iraq and Afghan wars: shovel huge bales of money out of the airplane in an attempt to buy love. Because taxpayers don’t understand that $100,000 a church doesn’t have to spend fixing their roof can be spent proselytizing.

    The problem is that once Bushco learned that they could buy votes with the program, then Obama had to try it, too. Now the money-valve is jammed full “wide open” and there will be a backlash at whoever is hapless enough to try to close it.

  38. says

    Think we can start getting serious about requiring churches to pay taxes like everyone else?

    They already pay taxes like Exxon-mobil, Chevron, Yahoo!, etc.

    Oh, you mean get them to pay $ > 0

  39. Rey Fox says

    irish need not apply? i don’t get it…shurely “catholics need not apply” ?

    Recalling an appearance of Hitchens and Donohue on some TV news thing where Donohue got on his high horse for being Irish and Hitchens being English, it may be a new strategy of some Catholics to frame opposition to Catholic politics as anti-Irish bigotry.

  40. Julien Rousseau says

    I am really tired of the “force people to violate their conscience” complaint. Nobody is forcing Catholics to do anything.

    The military is oppressing the jains and forcing them to violate their conscience by requiring them to kill people in order to get a job with them ;-).

  41. Akira MacKenzie says

    @Ariel

    It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible.

    Why should we give a rat fuck what the mackerel snapping Cat Licks (or any other theist scum) finds “morally reprehensible?”

  42. says

    I find the church repugnant, yet I am forced to pay taxes that they won’t pay, to police and fire departments that serve the freeloading church to exactly the same degree as they serve me the taxpayer.

    Until they’re paying taxes, they don’t get to complain about money.

  43. Aquaria says

    It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible.

    I find it morally reprehensible that I fund rich people getting a free ride in the form of government subsidies and bailout money to give themselves million dollar bonuses and buying second or third or fourth homes while families are losing their homes because the rich couldn’t wait to make a buck off real estate any fucking way they could.

    I find it morally reprehensible that I’m funding a bunch of lazy old fucks with Social Security who are right this minute swarming on one of the most impoverished regions of the country with their government-funded SUVs, RVs, jet skis and health care to have fun in the South Texas sun while locals have houses with no running water, no electricity and have to use shower curtains for windows and doors.

    We al pay for morally reprehensible crap, you disingenuous piece of shit.

    Fuck you.

  44. Hazuki says

    Hey Alex? These people believe their God will do infinitely worse for an infinitely long time to billions of people. Either they have no idea what they’re talking about, or they do and are complete and utter sociopaths (which incidentally renders them moral ciphers even IF divine command theory is true, since they are constitutionally unable to be pro-social).

    You tell me to seek help, but by definition, nothing any human can possibly do to anyone else can make the smallest comparison to what they think their God will do. Maybe if they feel a tiny fraction of it, they’ll realize what it is they believe. And maybe stop believing it. I’m out of patience with them personally.

    No matter how evil someone was I would never torture them for eternity. Even in Hitler’s case, even if you could theoretically spend a few million years making him experience what all his victims did, that’s all. It ends, and you could even say it’s fair and proportional.

    Yahweh, on the other hand, will be no closer to being finished with his victims when the universe has become a cold, tenuous soup of subatomic particles than when he started on them. And billions of people, Catholics, Protestands, and Muslims, believe this the world over.

    And yet you say I’m the one who needs help.

  45. Hazuki says

    Also, are you seriously defending the Inquisition? Seriously? If you are, there is not a mountain big enough to carve a large enough “Fuck you, Alex” into it to match up. Maybe you should be one of the first against the wall (or on the rope, or on the rack, etc…).

  46. raven says

    Alex is a Catholic liar with a history on other threads, notably the Hitler one. You won’t get anything intelligent out of him.

    He lies a lot.

  47. raven says

    The Catholic Fascist dictators of the 20th Century 1
    ( one of whom was a Catholic priest in good standing with his church
    before, during and even after the holocaust ) :
    •Belgium’s Leon Degrelle
    •Croatia’s Ante Pavelic 2
    •Bohemia-Moravia’s Emil Hacha
    •Germany ‘s Adolf Hitler
    •Italy’s Benito Mussolini
    •Portugal’s Antonio Salazar 3
    •Slovakia’s Fr. Josef Tiso4
    •Spain’s Francisco Franco
    •Sudetenland’s Konrad Henlein
    •Vichy-France’s Pierre Laval
    •Vichy-France’s Henry Petain

    Most of the Fascist dictators of the 20th century have been Catholics. One of them was a Catholic priest.

    Two of them were two of the most notorious butchers of the 20th century, Hitler and Croatia’s Pavelic. The Croatians with Pavelic were so stupidly vicious they even shocked the Nazis.

    The Roman Catholics in Nazi Germany’s Leadership
    Among the many Nazi leaders who were Roman Catholics, in addition to Adolf Hitler, were Josef Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, and Rudolf Hoess,

    None of the Catholic Nazis were ever excommunicated except Joseph Goebbels. His crime was marrying a divorced Protestant.

  48. Ariel says

    Ramaus #39

    Ariel – we all pay for parts of government we don’t like. Catholics must also.
    We the people set the rules via our government and everyone follows.
    In the US, the courts on many occasions have declared that civil laws prevail over religious rules.
    Note: Morality comes from ‘the people’ and is later adopted by religions.

    Of course we all do. And we all protest against it in various situations. And sometimes we all complain that the amorphous entity called “the people” went too far. Our protests are not necessarily based on law; sometimes we all base them on morality. So what’s wrong with the Catholics pleading their special case? That’s the issue which needs to be addressed in any decent answer to the Catholics. Observe also that I didn’t say that it can’t be addressed. I say only that PZ didn’t even start to address it.

    Daniel Lafave #40

    Thus, it is constitutional, and it is good policy too. Women shouldn’t have to pick from fewer insurance plan choices is they want contraception coverage.

    Justifying the second sentence is in my opinion the place where the real discussion with the Catholics begins.

    Raven #41 – #43

    The Catholic liars are here!!! To no ones surprise. That is all any theist has, is lies.

    Oh, Raven, are you the one? Nice to meet you!

    We all end up paying for things we find morally reprehensible. Iraq cost 2-3 trillion dollars and ended up killing two of my friends. As well as hundreds of thousands of others. […] My taxes paid for that […] That is life in a democracy.

    And as for you, you are probably a former kamikaze pilot from WWII (how did you survive, by the way?) Do you really want to pursue a suicide strategy of the sort “No one should whine about being forced to pay for morally reprehensible things, because I, Raven the Great, had to pay for Iraq”? Nice nose dive, man!

    Well they should.
    It hasn’t been legal to do that in the USA since the USA started centuries ago. Separation of church and state.

    The world is not confined to the USA, however hard it may be for you to believe that. In various places it is still legal for the government to fund churches from taxpayers money. And the atheists still protest. How do you think, why?

    Guess what moron. Nothing much happens when governments don’t support religions with money. The world doesn’t end. God doesn’t send lightning bolts raining down. […] Do you actually have a point?

    Guess what, dear: the world also will not end if Catholics will not have to pay for insurance plans covering contraception. (Although PZ could try to send lightning bolts raining down :-)) And my point was that what PZ wrote was just a rant, with some very bad arguments (the one quoted in my first post was only an example – in fact there are more). If you want to know, then yes, I believe that one can indeed do better and write a good essay, defending the state policy in a sensible way. The point was that it’s not what PZ did.

    Now to give you also a due credit:

    Who is this group of people who find birth control morally reprehensible? It isn’t the vast majority of Catholics for sure.

    You may be quite right about this and that’s exactly an argument of the type which should be used (but wasn’t) by PZ. However, this argument by itself doesn’t settle the issue. Yes, it shows that the group in question is not large, but in general (without additional discussion) it is not obvious how to proceed in such situations. Some time ago in my country the military service was obligatory to everyone. But we had also our share of the pacifists, refusing it for moral reasons. Their group was not large and for many people their arguments didn’t seem sensible. Nevertheless, the decision was taken that they won’t go to jail for refusing the service; instead alternative solutions for such people were created. And you know, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my neighbors shouting “who cares, it’s a small group, and this is democracy, we are the people, fuck the bastards!”. I don’t like also the essays containing not much more than that.

    Aquaria #57

    We all pay for morally reprehensible crap, you disingenuous piece of shit.

    See above, my treasure.

    Fuck you.

    I’m afraid I never do it before being formally introduced to a lady! Very sorry about that!

  49. julian says

    I don’t like also the essays containing not much more than that.

    I don’t like the fact you are the most morally repugnant creatures on this planet next to the Taliban. But I cope…

  50. julian says

    I’m saying your claim (or strong implication) that the Inquisition used certain sadistic torture devices did a disservice to the truth.

    Ha!

    The Inquisition was all flowers and daisies, was it?

  51. Ariel says

    julian

    I don’t like the fact you are the most morally repugnant creatures on this planet next to the Taliban.

    I’m singular, not plural. If your remark was directed to me personally (plural ending by mistake), then I feel flattered :-) If that was meant to be plural, then I don’t know … maybe you’ve got something against mammals generally? Oh boy, that’s appalling!! Fortunately, Pharyngula is for squids. And fortunately, you end with:

    But I cope…

    which eases some of the burden from my heart.

    On a more serious vein: I find your comment a bit troubling, and that’s the real reason I’m answering (otherwise I wouldn’t bother). You know, many atheists are saying “oh, but we atheists are so diverse, we don’t have a uniform ideology, we are in fact proud about our diversity”. My impression is unfortunately that these are empty words, at least on the Pharyngula blog. When someone tells you that your arguments against this or that church are bad, or that you wrote emotional crap without substantial content, your immediate reaction is “He must be a religious jerk! Probably a concern troll! Things like that don’t happen in nature!” In this way a very nice besieged fortress syndrome develops and it turns out that you pay only a lip service to your diversity claim.

    Dear all, let me tell you something: atheists in fact are not alike. You should be in fact proud about our diversity. I know it’s probably hardest when you encounter someone who criticizes your arguments against religion. That’s really a difficult test. But only such tests can show whether you attach any importance to the diversity claim – whether you are “atheists and proud of it” or not.

    Well, that’s it. From now on I’m just going to ignore those comments which presume that I’m a Catholic. I will not however ignore those of you nice enough to consider me a squid (although I’m not able to prove to you that I’m not a squid either) :-)

  52. Q.E.D says

    When someone tells you that your arguments against this or that church are bad . . . – Ariel

    You are assuming a false premise that you have made a cogent argument that requires refutation.

  53. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Really not good enough, Ariel.

    Discrimination against LGBT people is illegal and has no moral justification. There are certain jobs (such as running adoption services), funded wholly or in part with public money, that entail working with and for LGBT people. Catholic organisations want to be paid to do these jobs while refusing to do them properly. Calling “discrimination” is a red herring; a Jain might not be able to take a job in pest control, but it cannot be said that the pest-control company is actively discriminating against Jains in its employment policy.
    .
    Health insurance covers – or should cover – a range of healthcare needs some of which are exclusive to men, some to women, some needed by both (such as andrology, gynaecology, contraception and reproductive health). All of which should be equally available, without restricting people’s choice of insurer.
    .
    And focusing on the precise date specific torture devices were invented and whether or not they were used by the Inquisition (as opposed to the torture devices they did use) is monumentally unimpressive.

  54. Q.E.D says

    This catholic whinging is absurd but understandable given their twisted worldview.

    I think we sometimes need to remind ourselves of some of the things the Vatican and its followers actually believe (even if they don’t say it out loud for fear of being called on it and laughed at)

    1) the Vatican and catholics answer to a “higher power” and any conflict between their beliefs and the law is resolved in favour of their beliefs.

    2) The 1st Ammendment renders them immune from State and Federal law in the US. Concordats with other States also give them privileges, deference, extraordinary rights, state funding and immunities against national laws.

    3) They claim all the advantages of being a Religion, Nation State, NGO and Corporation. They can switch identities as suits them for best advantage.

    4) God commanded bigotry, misogyny, and denial of medical care are NOT bigotry, misogyny and denial of medical care. Preventing their free exercise of bigotry, misogyny and medical care ARE immoral, illegal and oppression of catholics.

  55. Pyronius says

    If only we could chose the same road they did and be half as effective, the battle would be easy, inquisitioning priests would be a lot easier than chipping away at the layers of brainwashing instilled upon people from birth.

  56. julian says

    Sigh. I’m probably going to regret this

    I apologize for assuming you’re a Catholic, Ariel. Long string of very unpleasant threads and my general hostility towards people who use smileys in arguments, so I ended up coming into this one half cocked. I shouldn’t have.

    That said, your comparison to being made to fund religious services doesn’t hold water. We’re discussing something that is an important part of healthcare. If we are going to agree to pay a certain amount so that we can all enjoy health coverage it makes no sense to cut out something as vital as sexual health because of the moral objections a minority have to providing that service.

    This isn’t something that they’re forced to have or use. If it were a draft where they’re taken bodily and forced into service that would be one thing. But this is them agreeing to contribute a certain amount towards the end goal of providing something. There isn’t even a clear way to say they’re money will directly go to paying for contraception. For all they know their money went to vaccines.

    It’s a silly objection. Better to argue it’s a waste of funds then to argue if you’re genuinely committed to not paying for it.

  57. says

    raven,

    according to

    Ralf Georg Reuth: Goebbels, Piper, München/Zürich 1990, S. 30 f., 33, 40 f. (referenced by the German Wikipedia)

    Goebbels became an atheist under the influence of Oswald Spengler.

  58. Dianne says

    Cancer is expensive, and I don’t have it

    Technically, you don’t know that. You only know that you haven’t been diagnosed with cancer yet. It could be somewhere in your body, too small to notice yet. Have a nice day!

  59. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    RE: pelamun @49 & 50
    Yes, we all know that the RCC has no problem with accepting tainted gifts, don’t we?

  60. Hazuki says

    @74

    IIRC, you “get cancer” a few dozen times a day, but the cell’s tumor-suppression factors (p53, rap1 and such) are good enough to arrest most every abnormal cell cycle before it becomes the base of a tumor. “Getting cancer” as we understand the term is a long run of incredibly bad luck, as well as a consequence of the law of large numbers.

  61. lazybird says

    Ariel says:

    It’s about the general problem of forcing a group of people to fund something which they find morally reprehensible.

    No, it’s about one group trying to impose their particular concept of morality onto others. A religious person with some integrity (if such a thing exists,) should admit that his or her views are based on a belief, and that others don’t share that belief, therefore compromise is the way forward. However the typical religious person thinks that his or her belief actually is reality, which then provides a justification for punishing non-believers, for example by trying to eliminate funding for contraception.

  62. Gregory Greenwood says

    It never ceases to amaze me that the more powerful, influential and rich a religion is, the more inclined its apologists are to claim that it and its practitioners are ‘oppressed’ or ‘persecuted’.

    It really has gotten to the point where people like Bill Donohue are complaining because Catholics aren’t allowed to engage in bigotry without being called out on it, people just won’t let the whole clerical child-rape thing lie (how unreasonable of them), and the Catholic church can’t rule over the lives of non-Catholics with an iron fist according to their own twisted sense of psuedo-morality anymore after that whole ‘enlightenment’ business.

    Apparently, simply not living in a totalitarian Catholic theocracy is sufficient to amount to the oppression of Catholics.

    The ‘logic’ behind this sentiment seems to be;

    “You won’t let me abuse and control you? I can’t call you a hell-bound sub-human sinner and lobby for laws that will make your life unreasonably difficult without being called a bigot and told to have carnal relations with a decaying porcupine? How can you be so cruel?”

  63. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Ariel, the morality imposed or professed by the Catholic Church does not need to be considered when a government or people are formulating legislation concerned with basic human rights (or at all, really).

    The real issue is rather that we do not approve of these activities and that’s why we don’t want to be forced to pay for them.

    Ariel, this is false equivalence. There is nothing at all similar between the sensibilities of Catholics as derived from their religious beliefs and secular sensibilities regarding basic human rights. Nor is there a similarity between Catholics not wanting to fund something due to their religious beliefs and atheists protesting the use of government funds to fund sectarian religious activities. It may not be clear to you that funding a religion is problematic at best, especially where that religion’s dogma contradicts secular values. You stink of moral relativism. The Catholic Church is not a moral authority and the moral beliefs of Catholics based on Church dogma are worthless and can be totally ignored.

    Neither we want to be forced to engage in them on pain of unemployment.

    The problem is with their beliefs, not with the requirements of employment. Their beliefs are worthless in the face of the rights of other people.

    And yes, we would treat laws of this sort as oppressive.

    This doesn’t even make sense. They’re not equivalent. No one is trying to stop Catholics from believing the silly shit that they do. Forcing them, however, to obey laws, well, we should be doing that. Especially is the law is contrary to their silly ideology, like marrying gays, or insuring contraceptives.

    Answering the Catholics, one should take into consideration that they are (probably) viewing these issues in exactly the same way.

    No.

  64. lazybird says

    A religious person with some integrity…

    I just remembered one does exist: Mario Cuomo, former governor of the state of New York.

    The Catholic public official lives the political truth most Catholics through most of American history have accepted and insisted on: the truth that to assure our freedom we must allow others the same freedom, even if occasionally it produces conduct by them which we would hold to be sinful.

    I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose.

    We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us.

    link

  65. fastlane says

    I find the church repugnant, yet I am forced to pay taxes that they won’t pay, to police and fire departments that serve the freeloading church to exactly the same degree as they serve me the taxpayer.

    Actually, many local municipalities (but certainly not all, it varies widely by city/county) still charge local property taxes on church property. It’s almost invariably undervalued, but you’d have to check your local area to find out if this is true.

    Churches don’t pay taxes at a federal level, and I’m not aware of any state level taxes, and they get crazy ‘allowances’ for housing that really don’t make much sense.

  66. Daniel Lafave says

    Ariel,

    Including contraception in health plans is good policy because access to contraception is an important public policy goal. That’s really where the discussion starts and ends. I don’t see where there is any need to start a dialogue with Catholics.

  67. Janine Is Still An Asshole, OM, says

    . I don’t see where there is any need to start a dialogue with Catholics.

    And here we have the first step towards a dictatorship.

    (Sorry. This was a joke I could not pass up.)

  68. GravityIsJustATheory says

    Well, at least they can comfort themselves knowing that they can now marry the heir to the British throne.

  69. raven says

    raven,

    according to

    Ralf Georg Reuth: Goebbels, Piper, München/Zürich 1990, S. 30 f., 33, 40 f. (referenced by the German Wikipedia)

    Goebbels became an atheist under the influence of Oswald Spengler.

    That might be true. It might not be true.

    There are a lot of fake documents and claims about the Nazis.

    The xians after the war and up until…this morning, 2011 have been trying to hide their involvement with the Nazis and especially the Nazi leaders. They’ve been known to forge documents about it. Part of Martin Bormann’s Table Talk, a book of Hitler’s ideas, was forged by someone who admitted it, a xian apologist. The parts that make him look like less than a xian.

    The Catholics have been all over the US Wikipedia for years trying to hide their past and rewrite history. I don’t trust anything on Wikipedia any more about any religion without trying to verify it somewhere else.

    Checking. That isn’t in the US wikipedia article.

    Goebbels made a lot of speeches condemning atheism which he linked to communism and claimed to be defending the xian churches. Here is one of many from 1943.

    Goebbels on Atheism
    “The European Crisis
    [...]
    Behind the Soviet leadership’s pious phrases, we detect the grotesque face of Bolshevist atheism. It has not been liquidated, but rather it is only waiting to begin again its own work of liquidation, completing its work of extermination in the European states that it began with hundreds of thousands of priests in the Soviet Union. Only then, perhaps, will the Christian churches learn what combative enmity to religion really means.

    Goebbels, Das Reich, 28 February 1943

  70. says

    raven,

    if I had an electronic copy of the book referenced by the German Wikipedia, I would’ve checked it….

    But I guess for Goebbels it was more important to be an anti-Bolshevist than an atheist.

    I think Martin Bormann is often cited as one too, but that might be a case of confusing anti-clericalism for atheism.

    I asked on the other Hitler thread if the same could be said for Stalin, that their main motivation was anti-clericalism rather than atheism…

  71. raven says

    I think Martin Bormann is often cited as one too, but that might be a case of confusing anti-clericalism for atheism.

    IIRC, Bormann was one of the least religious of the bunch.

    I did a google search on Goebbels and atheism and didn’t turn up anything but a lot of his speeches condemning atheism and linking it to the commies.

    It’s known for sure that he was raised Catholic and married his wife in a Protestant church.

    In a sense it isn’t that important. What is important is that they appealed to their millions of followers on the basis of god, jesus, and the churches. Not atheism.

  72. Ing says

    I asked on the other Hitler thread if the same could be said for Stalin, that their main motivation was anti-clericalism rather than atheism

    Actually it’s a certainty, since, if we’re being pedantic, you can’t have atheism as a motivation at all since it is not a positive stance.

  73. Hazuki says

    Alex was Pilty? I thought he seemed familiar. What a stink. I’ve locked horns with him several times and his sheer assholery was instrumental in helping my deconversion along.

  74. says

    Actually it’s a certainty, since, if we’re being pedantic, you can’t have atheism as a motivation at all since it is not a positive stance.

    But isn’t that dictionary atheism? I was thinking about an atheism that includes a rational/skeptical approach to all matters. And so far I haven’t found any regime meeting that criteria. Theoretically speaking such a regime could be anti-clerical as religions are irrational. But communist regimes as well as fascist regimes have always had central views that wouldn’t withstand critical scrutiny.

  75. Ariel says

    Julian #70

    Sigh. I’m probably going to regret this

    Not because of me, I hope. Apologies accepted, the matter closed.

    Q.E.D #66, #68
    I’m a bit puzzled by what you wrote.

    You are assuming a false premise that you have made a cogent argument that requires refutation.

    I said (in my first post) that in my opinion PZ’s argument is wrong. I gave the reasons for my opinion (his incorrect identification of the motive of the Catholic’s complaints). As far as I can see, later in the discussion nobody seriously questioned that part. Then I indicated what questions (in my opinion) would have to be discussed in a decent essay on these issues. Observe that some of the later comments took precisely these questions and tried to answer them. I don’t know why in your eyes it doesn’t make for a cogent argumentation.

    This catholic whinging is absurd but understandable given their twisted worldview.

    Agreed. In fact that was one of the insights I was trying to express (cf. mine “Answering the Catholics, one should take into consideration that they are (probably) viewing these issues in exactly the same way”). Searching a bit deeper, I would say that in all discussions of this sort I try to remember about one very basic and simple fact: they (whoever ‘they’ are) also think of themselves as “us”. I guess that’s what motivates me (and excludes me forever from becoming an activist – it’s probably not a very good approach for practical purposes).

    In what follows I will not answer you chronologically. I will rather divide your remarks into two groups. The first I call ‘conceptual/technical’. The second are ‘principal’ or ‘moral’ objections. Let’s start with the first. My aim is to show that objections in the first group are not valid by themselves. The best of them reduce in fact to moral objections (so my claim will be that they are not really technical, contrary to appearances) and that’s where the real issue lies.

    Julian #70

    If we are going to agree to pay a certain amount so that we can all enjoy health coverage it makes no sense to cut out something as vital as sexual health because of the moral objections a minority have to providing that service.

    Sounds technical, but it isn’t. Our notion of admissible health coverage, and sexual health coverage in particular, is heavily value-laden. What you are describing here is a clash of moralities, not a technical issue.

    This isn’t something that they’re forced to have or use. If it were a draft where they’re taken bodily and forced into service that would be one thing. But this is them agreeing to contribute a certain amount towards the end goal of providing something. There isn’t even a clear way to say they’re money will directly go to paying for contraception. For all they know their money went to vaccines.

    This one is different and it may be the strongest objection of a “technical” sort. Observe however that if correct, it hits also the atheists complaining against funding religious services from the taxpayers money – as long as there is no clear way to say whether their money will go directly to paying for religious services. But perhaps you are happy to live with that? Perhaps you are ready to say that if the atheists in such a situation claim that they are forced to pay for religious services, then they are simply wrong?

    Opposablethumbs #67

    Calling “discrimination” is a red herring; a Jain might not be able to take a job in pest control, but it cannot be said that the pest-control company is actively discriminating against Jains in its employment policy.

    Your analogy doesn’t contain one crucial element: Jains doing the job previously, and excluded from it by reformulating the company’s goals. A better analogy would be: Jains teaching at schools, but then the tasks of a teacher are reformulated on a national level in such a way as to include killing pests. Or black people teaching at schools, but then it is declared that a task of a school is to keep white kids in a racially pure environment :-) And before everyone gets offended: I’m not saying that these are good analogies. I’m saying rather that your decision to pick one of those as a good analogy is a value judgment, not a technical one.

    In contrast, some of you stated quite clearly: what we have here is a clash of moralities. I agree with such an approach (although not always with the details). As an example, I’m choosing just one comment. The choice is motivated by my opinion that it’s the most representative one.

    Thomathy #77

    (1) It may not be clear to you that funding a religion is problematic at best, especially where that religion’s dogma contradicts secular values. (2) You stink of moral relativism. (3) The Catholic Church is not a moral authority and (4) the moral beliefs of Catholics based on Church dogma are worthless and (5) can be totally ignored.

    As to (1), quite on the contrary, it is clear and obvious. About “moral relativism” (i.e. (2)) we can have another discussion one day. Agreed with (3). Very partial agreement with (4). A complete and strong disagreement with (5): I don’t trust enough any government to permit it to ignore the moral beliefs of the citizens. Here I’m probably more cautious than most of you, but I would prefer to live in a country with as few “government solutions” to moral issues as possible.

  76. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t trust enough any government to permit it to ignore the moral beliefs of the citizens.

    What? Here, you can have no compulsory use of contraception which allows the citizens their choice, but not offering contraception coverage for those that use it, making the church body make the choice for them? Sounds a little like you are a liberturd, with the moral bankruptcy implied in their theology. Which makes your inane opinions worthless.

  77. consciousness razor says

    Ariel:

    You must be so confused. Secular governments provide secular services and have secular laws, which treat people fairly without regard to their religious affiliation or lack thereof. To the extent a government favors any religious institution or ideology, it is no longer doing that.

    Here I’m probably more cautious than most of you, but I would prefer to live in a country with as few “government solutions” to moral issues as possible.

    That isn’t what’s happening. The conflict isn’t between differences in values between atheists and the religious, except to the extent which some of the religious themselves want to impose some of their views on the rest of society. It isn’t atheists or secular governments who are trying to force their views down everyone else’s throats. So “the real issue,” as you call it, isn’t about having to weigh our values against theirs, force them to comply with our demands, agree with our opinions, or to be fired from their government-funded positions because they won’t do their jobs. The state simply has legitimate reason to accept their views, so it doesn’t. That isn’t “oppression,” and it doesn’t mean that you can’t fight in your own country for that exact same cause by trying to end tax-funded religious projects. You make it seem like these are in opposition to one another somehow, which I find bizarre.

  78. consciousness razor says

    Correction:

    The state simply has NO legitimate reason to accept their views, so it doesn’t.

  79. KG says

    Ariel,

    Would you agree with health insurance not being mandated to cover blood tranfusions? After all, doing so ignores the moral beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  80. julian says

    Our notion of admissible health coverage, and sexual health coverage in particular, is heavily value-laden.

    No it isn’t. It’s balance between what’s the most effective treatment and what we can afford.

    Or, more accurately I should say, that’s what any discussion about health coverage should be about especially at the government level where the concern is providing and caring for as many people as possible.

    But perhaps you are happy to live with that?

    What I am happy doing does not absolve me of my responsibilities as a citizen. And objections to tax money going to support religious institutions often aren’t tax arguments. They’re arguments about separation between church and state and how wasteful that type of spending often is. (Which to me at least sounds like much better criticism.)

  81. Andrew O says

    This may be a bit of a tangent, but as an Irish American (and, fwiw, ex-catholic), I’ve got to say I’m a little offended by Hoopes’ use of the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ graphic:

    For one, it’s pretty much saying that Irish=Catholic, marginalizing everyone else of Irish descent and falsely implying that the Catholic Church speaks for them and represents their beliefs on social issues.

    For another, it’s trivializing a real and complicated history of ethnic and religious discrimination and conflict by equating the plight of its victims to the mild discomfort that members of a multi-billion-dollar international organization are experiencing in response to being asked to conform to anti-discrimination policies and health-and-safety regulations in hiring and social work.

  82. Ing says

    But isn’t that dictionary atheism? I was thinking about an atheism that includes a rational/skeptical approach to all matters.

    Of which Stalin didn’t qualify. This is why the dictionary atheism IS the dominant definition. There are atheists by the nature of only not believing. If you want to capitalize Atheist and use it as the term for a movement much as a Socialist party falls under but is not the entirety of socialism that’s fair too.

  83. Ing says

    PZ for example does not have a blog because of his atheism. He has it because of his humanism which is at odds with the world’s theism.

    Non-dictionary atheism seems to mean Humanism+Atheism. But there are also theist humanists who believe almost entirely the same values.

  84. says

    Yes, Ing,

    correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression was as follows:

    1.atheism in the strictest sense of the word (“dictionary atheism”), just the idea that there is no god. Has the problem that it not necessarily excludes wooists and is less useful as an identifier as it’s strictly a negative concept. (the “non-stamp collector conundrum)

    2. atheism as rational-skeptical approach. This doesn’t include a moral philosophy as that doesn’t necessarily follow from a rational-skeptical approach. This would be my personal idea of what atheism is about.

    3. atheism as rational-skeptical approach + humanism. While I wholeheartedly agree with PZ’s humanist ideals, I do think it would go too far to include them under atheism. Nonetheless I do think that atheism and humanism are a good combination that go together.

    Ing, I’m aware that – especially under theists, but also in the speech community at large – #1 is the most common understanding of the term. But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t argue for it to include a skeptical approach in general whenever it comes up. The only thing I worry is that it could constitute a variant of the “No True Scotsman” approach, i.e. “Stalin wasn’t really an atheist because of his many unscientific assumption like “signs from heaven”, or his meddling in “biology/botany”. Let me know what you think about this.

  85. says

    Non-dictionary atheism seems to mean Humanism+Atheism.

    Not necessarily. Look at Larry Moran: he does not identify as a humanist at all. For him and lots of us, I would say Non-dictionary atheism seems to mean Science+Atheism.

    As I’ve said many times before (and been ignored most often), there are many ways to be an atheist.

  86. woodsong says

    Maybe we should study how Catholics have historically managed any group that disagrees with them?

    Am I the only one who misread the emphasized word as mangled? (And didn’t notice the misreading until my second look at that paragraph? It seemed appropriate…and still does!)

  87. Joe says

    “Catholics are excluded from government jobs”
    Right. Putting aside the Vice President and the majority of Supreme Court justices.

    Talk to me when they lose their tax exempt status and when the pope isn’t allowed to come to the U.S. and sit in Yankee Stadium with thousands of people. Considering what the Catholic hierarchy has done to children, the Catholic Church is getting far, far more than it deserves from this country. If Pope Rat were an Islamic leader covering up child rape all over the world he would probably be in jail already.

  88. Ariel says

    Julian #95

    No it isn’t. It’s balance between what’s the most effective treatment and what we can afford. Or, more accurately I should say, that’s what any discussion about health coverage should be about

    Yes, but only under the assumption that all issues other than effectiveness have already been settled and only technicalities remain. Like: the moral issue whether it is permissible to use other people’s organs without their consent has already been settled, so we can ignore this solution, no matter how effective in saving lifes that could be. Or: the issue whether it is permissible to use the organs without the consent of the relatives of the deceased person is settled (?), so again we can ignore it no matter how effective such a move would be. With the development of modern medicine some moral questions of this sort become outdated (like: can we use on a massive scale animal medicine, especially coming from the endangered species); but new ones appear (they concern e.g. cloning, or funding an advanced medical care for patients with no chances to survive). I think you are simply wrong in saying that it all reduces to technical issues. And the clash comes when a religious group starts protesting: “Oh no, this and this moral issue has not been settled yet!”. I think the answer of the sort “The whole matter is purely technical, period” is patently inefficient in such a case. (Unless you want to say – like some others in this thread – “no dialogue is needed. We are the people. We are the champions, my friend”.)

    consciousness razor #92

    Poor you. So confused by a discussion that got too complicated. So helpless. Let good uncle Ariel assist you!

    [Sounds paternalistic and condescending enough? Don’t blame me for that. I had an excellent mentor, “consciousness razor” being his (her?) name.]

    So “the real issue,” as you call it, isn’t about (1) having to weigh our values against theirs, force them to (2) comply with our demands, (3) agree with our opinions, or (4) to be fired from their government-funded positions because they won’t do their jobs. The state simply has no legitimate reason to accept their views, so it doesn’t. That isn’t “oppression”.

    It may well be that the state has no legitimate reason to accept their views (moral views included). I’m the last one to disagree with such a conclusion. Observe however, that reaching such a conclusion involves (1), i.e. weighting our values against theirs. (Not only values, of course.) And then, even after this is done and the conclusion is reached, the question still remains in what sort of cases the lack of the reason to accept their views entitles the government to (2) and (4) (I think that (3) is beyond the scope of this discussion – no one claimed here that it’s at stake). I don’t have a ready-made recipe for this. I stated only that I prefer to be cautious (my motivations are: general distrust to a government as a moral arbiter, general conviction that moral beliefs lack a hard fact-of-the-matter basis, the threat of alienating groups, who may start thinking about the state as their enemy). What did your remarks contribute to the discussion? Hmm, let me think. Oh, I know, I know! In the present stage of the discussion your contribution was exactly null.

    KG #94

    Would you agree with health insurance not being mandated to cover blood tranfusions? After all, doing so ignores the moral beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    A very good question, worth probably a separate (and longer) discussion. Initially, I was tempted to answer: “I wouldn’t have a problem with the Jehovah’s Witnesses founding an insurance company which doesn’t cover it. In such a situation let the government introduce regulations guaranteeing a sufficient flow of information – something like warnings on cigarette boxes (you have that sort of an insurance? Your choice, but BEWARE! …). And if the company goes bankrupt because of that, that’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses problem”.

    Then I realized that there is the additional difficulty of Jehovah’s Witnesses children needing the transfusion. One issue is whether the state should empower the hospitals to ignore the parents’ wishes. (I think this would be really tantamount to the state officially declaring their religion false). The second question would be about the insurance: even if we assume that the hospital doesn’t have such a right, the transfusion can be carried out by court order and the question is who is going to pay for that. And at the moment I’m inclined to answer: the rest of us. In extreme cases like that we take the responsibility of acting against the parents’ wishes and we pay for it.