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AAAAAAAIEE! CATHOLICS!

All right, Deacon Duncan owes me. He cruelly pointed me at a site where a Catholic tries to justify his faith.

Just that phrase alone is enough to send alarms in your head whooping, doesn’t it? You know it’s going to be a pointless exercise in sophistry, and the only reason you might be tempted to follow the link is to see how awful it is. If you are a connoisseur of bad reasoning, go ahead — it’s an excellent example of the genre.

After the prelude, in which he says that he’s trying to explain his belief to atheists why Christians exist, here is his very first sentence.

Any philosophy that claims that there exists nothing supernatural cannot grant purpose to suffering.

I lost my will to read further. He needs to examine his premises: why must there be a purpose to suffering?

I had stopped caring. But I glanced ahead through the long, tortured prose and shameful excuses for logic (purposelessly, I suffered), and found this little jewel of a dingleberry of thought:

All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ then, for by his death he negated the existence of God. And in his death, sin itself died, for he became sin itself. And if sin died, suffering died, for suffering is the result of sin. And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

What the hell…do not try to understand. It’s a Catholic thing. Just soak your cortex in a childhood of lies, and while it will never make sense, you’ll just accept without questioning, which is all a good Catholic wants.

I gave up. But I thought I’d check the comments to see if somehow, magically, that fecal slurry somehow resonated with anyone, and gosh, it did.

I love how simply you put it when you said “Christianity doesn’t end suffering. It just redefines it as a positive.” I think a lot of Christians don’t understand why they suffer, and knowing that their suffering is united with Christ’s is beyond comforting.

Catholics. Their logic is of another realm.

Comments

  1. says

    Any philosophy that claims that there exists nothing supernatural cannot grant purpose to suffering.

    Yeah, that’s kind of the point. What’s better, to rationalise suffering or work to minimise it?

  2. says

    “he became sin itself” I knew that bastard* was too good to be true.

     
     
    _______
    *well the BVM (or if you prefer it in Latin BMV) wasn’t married to the Holy Fucker was she?

  3. Armored Scrum Object says

    @Kel #1: No kidding. I’d recast that statement as

    Any philosophy that claims that suffering is good cannot grant purpose to morality.

  4. says

    Yep. Sounds like the usual Catholic cant, spoon-fed to us kids during catechism classes. Remember, boys & girls, whenever you are in pain, whether physically or emotionally, offer it up as “penance” and God’s accountant will note it to your credit in his ledger book.

  5. opposablethumbs says

    God is good. God allows suffering. Therefore suffering must be good. Now work backwards until you can justify genocide and child rape.

    Apologetics in a nutshell.

    QFFT

    How they love suffering, especially other people’s … Mother Theresa ::spits:

  6. Beatrice says

    All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ then, for by his death he negated the existence of God.

    Oh, we’ve got a clever one on our hands.
    Although, he should realize that accepting that Jesus “negated the existence of God” requires that we believe that a Jesus Christ (if that was even his real name) did something supernatural.

    And in his death, sin itself died

    Only if we accept that he did something more than just breathed his last breath, shuffled off this mortal coil and became a corpse.

    , for he became sin itself.

    He became a stupid religious concept? Literally?

    And if sin died, suffering died, for suffering is the result of sin. And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

    Blah, blah, blah, still things that require belief in fairy tales.

    So according to this guy, death is dead? I’m not sure all the people who have died recently have noticed that. SOmeone should really send a memo.

  7. hexidecima says

    Dingleberry indeed. I’ve seen better ones decorating my sheep.

    I love these arrogant little liars that so desperately need to feel superior when claiming suffering is the result of sin. That only serves to make the claimant feel superior since, as long as they aren’t suffering, they are better than anyone who simply may have the poor luck to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  8. Beatrice says

    That thorny crown at the beginning goes really well with the title An Attempt to Explain Christianity to Atheists In a Manner That Might Not Freak Them Out.

  9. says

    Any philosophy that claims that suffering is good cannot grant purpose to morality.

    This is the odd thing I’ve experienced reading moral arguments for the existence of God. The use of heaven or hell as parts of a moral equation completely ruin any significance action can actually have. WLC’s genocide defence was one that struck me this way – that he argued that lives on this earth don’t matter because heaven awaited those who were slaughtered – it completely blunts any sense in which our actions could matter.

    And that’s ignoring that heaven and hell are absurdist beliefs to begin with, so all it’s doing is letting suffering continue for what appears to be an irrational hope. That is to say, if it were true that one could make sense of suffering through theistic belief, any inaction would have to be weighed against the likelihood of truth of that belief. If the case for theism is weak, then pinning suffering on that theism is folly.

  10. eric says

    All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ

    Yeah, I guess that explains how the term atheist is a 5th century BC greek word. [/snark]

  11. jhendrix says

    Posted this over at Deacons, figured I’d put it here too:

    The best part is right up front: that he assumes that all suffering must have a point.

    Some suffering may have a point, such as going through chemotherapy to survive cancer and live a bit longer, but certainly not all suffering has one.

    IMO, all of this underlies the foundational problem with how he’s tackling the issue: He can’t handle the obvious reality that there is a whole lot of suffering without a point.

    That is what we’d expect to find in a universe created by natural processes. But such a thing contradicts his preconceived belief in an all powerful, all knowing, all-good deity. And we just can’t have that, so lets start making with the ad-hoc justifications!

    But my favorite part is like all Christians, he tries to show only half their beliefs about the supposed “point” of suffering – getting back to “perfection”, or in christian vernacular – Heaven.

    But what does his religion teach about this place? That only a small minority of creation will get there. The rest of them? Fuck ‘em: eternal conscious torture.

    So all this “suffering” is so that a minority of creation could “know god” and “achieve perfection”; where as the rest must have just been necessary to achieve that “ultimate goal” in some way (otherwise why create them?), and are condemned to an existence where they’d have been much better off not being created.

    That’s the ultimate contradiction of christian theology in my view. And it doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Calvinist, Reformed, or whatever else – if your theology has got the doctrine of hell in there, then they’re subject to this ultimate contradiction in terms.

  12. julietdefarge says

    I dare Mr. Duncan to walk up to any group of Catholics and say
    “atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ,” and go on to add that the existence of God is negated, and there is no sin.

  13. says

    We are allowed to sin — and thus to suffer — because God loves us. If we could not refuse him, the fullness of perfection, we would be puppets attached to his celestial fingers. We could not not love God. But love, to be love, must be freely given. Perfection is meaningless if we have not the choice of imperfection. We are granted, in love, the opportunity to sin.)

    Tell that to a cow.

  14. DaveL says

    All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ then, for by his death he negated the existence of God.

    Did he just present a variant of the Babelfish argument as a serious apologetic?

  15. Beatrice says

    The real question is…. Will he follow the example of his colleague and take the post down, later complaining about the atheist swarm (and then taking that down too)?

  16. jnorris says

    Weeeelllll, actually, their philosophy must give a purpose to suffering. That purpose is to prepare the sinner for forgiveness and thus eternity in Heaven. Suffer now, eternity later. Now the Christian can endure any amount of suffering, injustice, poverty, illness, and abuse because their loving, caring father-figure God will reward them in Heaven, someday.

    And here’s the kicker, given that suffering has a purpose and serves a Greater Good for the sufferer, the Church and the Christians don’t have to do anything to really end the suffering. Actually ending the suffering will cause eternal harm to the sufferer.

  17. criminy says

    Fer cryin’ out loud…I think I need a whole bottle of ibuprofen. Those snippets were far too painful.

  18. says

    Reading this today made me think of the book Darwin’s Pious Idea by Connor Cunningham. I really need to get it out from the local library and try to read it again. Randomly thumbing through it showed t’s full of this kind of stuff, like the idea that death is unnatural.

  19. jhendrix says

    To follow up from SaltyCurrent@16:

    We are allowed to sin — and thus to suffer — because God loves us. If we could not refuse him, the fullness of perfection, we would be puppets attached to his celestial fingers. We could not not love God. But love, to be love, must be freely given. Perfection is meaningless if we have not the choice of imperfection. We are granted, in love, the opportunity to sin.)

    If we must be “free to sin” to love truly love god, then how can god love us, if he is (by definition) unable to be free in the same way we are?

    The supposed response I got over there was that “God IS Freedom” and “God IS Love” and “Sin is the absence of God where God should be”, but this makes no sense:

    Humanity must have the “freedom” to “sin” in order to “love” god. Except god does not have the “freedom” to “sin” by definition, but god is still “love”.

    Hell it gets even more fun when you substitute their own definitions:

    Humanity must have the “god” to “absence of god where god should be” in order to “god” god.

  20. says

    Any philosophy that claims that there exists nothing supernatural cannot grant purpose to suffering.

    Funny, I thought the point of pain was to keep you alive in dangerous situations rather than say, trying to grab the pretty flame… and for emotional suffering, it’s fairly obvious that you can’t “want to be with someone” without also missing them when they are gone. No angels necessary.

    This is what I worked out when I was about 6. He has a long way to go before he matches such towering intellect.

  21. kreativekaos says

    Boy, talk about tortured rhetoric and convoluted justifications for pain, suffering, and faith in the supernatural!

    I like it where PZ says, ‘ What the hell…don’t try to understand.’

    My sentiments exactly.

  22. says

    My cousin (like myself, a recovering Catholic) recently said, “The worst thing the Catholic Church ever did for itself was educate its members.”

    Apparently, they missed one.

  23. texasjim88 says

    “Christianity doesn’t end suffering. It just redefines it as a positive.”

    Very typical Catholic logic. This is the religion that gave us the Flagellants after all.

  24. sundiver says

    Hmmm. I have an idea for a parody of this article. “An Attempt to Explain Christianity to Anybody With Two Adjacent Brain Cells That Does not Sound Like Mindless Drivel Emitted by a Compleat Idiot”. The rest of the page is, of course, blank.

  25. bortedwards says

    To me, the futility of more eyerolling and grinding of teeth gives way to the more interesting question: WHY?And “because hes a religious nut” while true, isnt the full answer. ie, do we think that the robe wearing buffoon understands himself, or not?
    No sane person could follow any thread of logic through that tortured morass. Thus, either the man is not sane (let’s assume not all clerics could possibly be, tempting as it is), OR, hes sane, and thus presumably unable to follow his own logic. If the latter, then he’s lying. Either to us (by pretending that he knows what he’s saying) or to himself, in which case, what is his motivation? To appear profound? To help himself sleep at night knowing that the bogey-men will be kept at bay? or because it offers him a comfortable lifestyle to live his life that way…
    Maybe I just don’t see the appeal in self deception…

  26. anteprepro says

    Bafflegab piled onto bafflegab. But this sentiment:

    I love how simply you put it when you said “Christianity doesn’t end suffering. It just redefines it as a positive.” I think a lot of Christians don’t understand why they suffer, and knowing that their suffering is united with Christ’s is beyond comforting.

    It’s just atrocious. It just highlights the worst parts of Christianity. The anti-human part. The Just World Fallacy, victim-blaming part. The part where every horrific thing MUST have a silver lining and if you don’t see it, if you are legitimately upset at legitimately bad events, you are disrespecting God.

    But “redefines it as a positive” is a good description of what Christians do. With the negative aspects of our reality. With the Bible. With their religion’s history. With their own horrible doctrines. With their God. The only thing they don’t redefine as a positive are the positive things they redefine as a negative.

  27. d.f.manno says

    …suffering is still a problem we naturally want resolved. (If you don’t believe it is, develop leukemia, have a close family member die, and then try being content with not having any answers, meaning, or purpose.)

    Bullshit.

    My parents died four days apart from unrelated causes. Their last days and the aftermath were a painful experience for both my siblings (Catholic) and me (atheist). Their belief in “answers, meaning, or purpose” didn’t lessen the suffering for them.

    There are always going to be questions without answers and experiences with no apparent meaning or purpose. Sane adults live with that knowledge. The rest invent religions.

  28. says

    Somewhat off-topic: I hope people can attend some of these church simulcasts to churches showing “Unpacking Atheism” with William Lane Craig and some ‘ex-atheists’ and ask awkward questions or, better yet, make awkward statement about how the video misrepresents atheism. Thanks for the heads-up from The Bible Skeptic.

  29. bumpy says

    I can’t even…

    That’s not…

    I mean, what??

    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCYGLdHi6tM”

  30. unclefrogy says

    having been the lucky recipient of a “good Catholic education” the excerpts posted here was enough for me. I can go at that from multiple directions it just restarts the arguments going in my mind I had to go through to get to here.
    It is his poetical argument (rationalization) he just stops short of the final implications. he must keep it within the excepted dogma set down by the authority of the church or suffer a lose of any of his social privilege granted by his superiors in the church.

    I have come to realize the in a general way pain is not exactly the same as suffering. Pain is the sensation we feel objectively suffering is what we do with the information of pain subjectively.
    I have also learned that to engage in the argument is to jump into the net and fight it while it might be possible to win the argument I could never convince.
    I had to engage with the arguments of religion and god belief once in my own mind. I can mock and point out absurdity from outside but I seldom engage for very long in the debate, too much like fighting a Tar baby.

    uncle frogy

  31. joed says

    Here the Padre goofs, “And if all suffering died, than death itself…” then-than, this is more than spelling error.
    Most difficult to justify suffering and an omnibenificent god.

  32. anubisprime says

    ‘Fistikated feelology’ never grows old just increases its odor from flatulent to stinking incredibly rank!

    In the hands of inveterate coherently challenged idiots it even floats in a miasma of putrid cadaver liquor…just as the death obsessed ‘katolik hordes love to wallow in and freely identify with!

    They do so love their ‘Schadenfreude’ that their should be a copyright stamped on it.

  33. ButchKitties says

    But love, to be love, must be freely given.

    The threat of hell pretty much obliterates any chance of freely giving love to God, which becomes obvious if you put that kind of choice in a real world context.

    “Your Honor, I can’t be guilty of armed robbery. I gave that man a free choice between giving me his wallet or getting shot in the head, and he freely chose to give me his wallet. It’s not robbery because I let him choose what to do.”

    Like the Bad Catholic said, coerced love isn’t love at all. The part he doesn’t get is that the threat of eternal torture is the worst kind of coercion. God doesn’t want to be loved so much as he wants an entire population stricken with spiritual Stockholm syndrome.

  34. anteprepro says

    Like the Bad Catholic said, coerced love isn’t love at all. The part he doesn’t get is that the threat of eternal torture is the worst kind of coercion.

    Yes, but just like they redefine suffering into a positive, I’m sure they’ve redefined coercion. Threatening people with violence in order to force them to love you really is the greatest kind of love and creates the most stable and lasting of relationships. It’s only bad coercion when done by a bad person, like one of those filthy Muslims or godless atheists.

  35. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    God loves the sinner, so it’ll make the sinner suffer horribly for all eternity. Y’all can’t understand the logic because god is perfect and you ain’t. And I know god is perfect because it says so in the Bible, and the Bible is god’s word because it says so.

    Am I doing sophistacated theology yet?

  36. anteprepro says

    Those three days were one hell of a party, though.

    I suppose if Christians are any indication, I would have been dancing on Jesus’s grave as well.

  37. Beatrice says

    Those three days were one hell of a party, though.

    No wonder no one wanted to believe he was back.

  38. ButchKitties says

    Yes, but just like they redefine suffering into a positive, I’m sure they’ve redefined coercion.

    They’ve probably redefined special pleading as well, just to complete the circle of illogic. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. God is love.

  39. megs226 says

    This is the kind of stuff that was pushed on me in catechism starting at age 8. I dared to ask “why?” and now I’m an atheist. Cathilocism relies on its members smiling and nodding rather than actually thinking about what it’s spewing.

  40. Marc Abian says

    Christianity doesn’t end suffering. It just redefines it as a positive

    It’s so weird to see an apologist make an anti-Catholic bon mot Hitchens would be proud of.

  41. anteprepro says

    Cathilocism relies on its members smiling and nodding rather than actually thinking about what it’s spewing.

    Indeed. It all comes down to a deep-down, two-fold assumption instilled into so many. The first is the assumption that questioning ideas is inherently confrontational. Just ask a Christian who thinks a sign that says “Atheism” is offensive and you’ll see this at work. It is considered simply rude to debate ideas. IRL, I’m actually very reluctant to debate religion and politics for this very reason. The second assumption is the idea that confronting authority figures is in particular is Beyond the Pale. I’m not quite sure if accomodationists suffer from the former assumption or the latter. But, anyway, the combination of these is that you will be obedient and incurious, unwilling to look for anything that might contradict The Facts As Authority Sees Them and far more unwilling to point out anything that you did find that does contradict them.

    The bottom-line is that we have far too many people believe that they have to just sit down, shut up, and let their betters tell them what is what.

  42. cyberCMDR says

    Obviously, the writer works for the Ministry of Truth. War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.

    Of course, those are also the talking points of the Tea party movement. They’ll get to 2+2=5 when they tally up the Republican votes in Pennsylvania…

  43. dianne says

    If you don’t believe it is, develop leukemia…and then try being content with not having any answers, meaning, or purpose.

    For answers to questions like “What is the meaning of my leukemia?” you should probably still go to religion. OTOH, for answers to questions such as “What can you do about my leukemia?” go to science.

    The answer, incidentally, varies widely depending on what sort of leukemia you have. CLL? Leave it alone for now unless it starts bothering you. No, really. A lot of people with CLL die of something completely unrelated having never had a symptom. If it turns nasty we’ll talk about the various options. CML? Take this pill. Yes, that’s it. It’s not a cure, you’ll be on it the rest of your life, but it puts 95+% of people into remission and the remissions appear to result in return to normal life expectancy. AML? That’s a nasty one, but with chemotherapy and possibly transplant you’ve got a chance. Hope your insurance is in order, because if it’s not your chances of survival go WAY down. For improved access to insurance, go with the “secular” favorite of Obama, not the religious favorite of Romney. ALL? Depends. Are you a kid? I don’t envy you, but the survival chances are good. An adult? Not good, but much better than 10 years ago. Lots of chemo, transplant, maybe long term pills. Long term survival is very possible.

    The Catholic church controlled government and society in Europe and its colonies for hundreds of years without coming up with any of the answers I gave. And everyone with leukemia died, soon after getting it. Sixty years ago, scientists got their first break on how to treat leukemia. In sixty years, the various leukemias went from untreatable killers to very treatable, if still nasty, diseases. Actually, they’re every oncologist’s favorite because they’re so treatable.

    Screw the purpose, let’s spend more time and money on pushing on towards more reliable cures.

  44. says

    Žižek references Jesenska, writing,

    a bourgeois subject knows very well that there is nothing magic about money, that money is just an object which stands for a set of social relations, but he nevertheless acts in real life as if he were to believe that money is a magic thing.
     
    The clumsy reference that the cryptically self-obscured, Catholic blogger, “Marc” (“Marc Barnes”?) made to the negation of god in the crucifixion of Christ reads like an unattributed and badly regurgitated Nietzsche. It is easy to throw down a cheap phrase about how death really means life and how non-existence is a sort of mystical proof of Real Existence.

    It would seem he only ironically managed to underscore the fact, accidentally, that the gods can never be anything more than clumsy metaphor.

    Thanks, Marc! (and Deacon Duncan!)

  45. fastlane says

    All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ then, for by his death he negated the existence of God. And in his death, sin itself died, for he became sin itself. And if sin died, suffering died, for suffering is the result of sin. And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

    What.the.hell. I don’t even…..

    So..is this sophisticated theology (TM)? Can we finally, legitimately (sic) criticize this?

    I suspect many of the other apologentsia will make something up (sophisticated, of course) and attempt to drown out the rather simple refutations of this classic example of GIGO.

  46. broboxley OT says

    And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

    color me confused but isn’t death usually result in relief of suffering?

  47. anteprepro says

    color me confused but isn’t death usually result in relief of suffering?

    They think the mind is magic and can survive the death of the body, so death (rather than dying) is probably painful once you accept those inane, nonsensical premises.

  48. broboxley OT says

    They think the mind is magic and can survive the death of the body, so death (rather than dying) is probably painful once you accept those inane, nonsensical premises.

    if your innate being survives in a self realized form after death the adventure begins anew, suffering has ended. YMMV depending on religious background. On the other hand I would love to see a skit of Dennis from the holy grail arguing with St Peter

    “What! Just because I saved half a cracker for later when I was 5 I burn in an eternal lake of fire? What kind of nonsense is that!

  49. says

    What.the.hell. I don’t even….

    I often suspect the ‘Sophisticated Theologians’™ know perfectly well they’re really not making any sense whatsoever.

    The hope is, I suspect, people will look at the latest bit of spectacularly silly but cosmetically baroque babble and think: well, if it’s that completely opaque to me, possibly I’m just not quick enough to follow, so I guess the safest bet is just to nod and say ‘good point’.

    So it’s actually very much an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ defense, relying, as it does, upon social pressure and the listener’s fear of winding up outside the ingroup to work. And the odd similarity with the ‘Chewbacca defense’, in which the idea is to suggest nothing makes sense anyway so neither could the argument I’m negating (a sort of argument from nihilism, I guess) is actually only coincidental.

    Tho’ both strategies are roughly as honest and valid, mind. And the fact that self-described theologians regularly pop out stuff like this can, yes, generally be taken as an indicator of the overall substance of the field, in my ever so humble opinion.

  50. jose says

    What I really like about catholics who debate is how they wrap up their points with hard-hitting words: Homosexuality is *objectively* disordered, blasphemers are *objectively* wrong, the *absolute truth* of natural law is based on the *perfect* observation of *reality*, etc.

  51. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    I once had a religious person tell me that their favorite religious speaker was, “So brilliant that I can’t understand him.”

  52. Sastra says

    “Any philosophy that claims that there exists nothing supernatural cannot grant purpose to suffering.”

    Oh, we can often choose to find ways to use pointless suffering to ennoble ourselves, or improve. But this is a far cry from seeing suffering as lovingly placed there for the purpose.

    So this is an “Argument from Boo-hoo” combined with “The Playpen Theory of Reality.”

    If there is no Higher Purpose, then boo-hoo.

    Nobody wants to go ‘boo-hoo.’

    Therefore, we need to believe there is a Higher Purpose.

    Therefore, there IS a Higher Purpose.

    And reality is just like a giant playpen, with human beings/myself in the center, the focus of all attention, learning to be humble.

    From outside the Cosmic Playpen, this looks like self-absorbed aggrandizement. From inside the Cosmic Playpen, however, it feels like one is coming to terms with just being a baby, embedded in moral forces. It feels like one is figuring out an underlying pattern of meaning which makes everything fair. The universe is under an obligation to be fair — given that we relate to it like we relate to other people, and make ourselves small.

    Arrogance on stilts, masquerading as humility. Look at the system as an outsider: you see farther. I think we understand the Catholics far better than they understand us.

  53. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    It occurs to me that if I were running, say, a Catholic children’s catechism class, I’d make it as confusing and as boring as possible. It’d be confusing so they’d give up hope of ever understanding religion, obviously.

    The boring part is so that in their later life, when I trot out some new doctrine that contradicts everything that has gone before, they simply assume they missed it back in catechism. Plus, they feel guilty for having missed it, and it really sinks in because of the emotional turmoil.

  54. Sastra says

    AJ Milne #64 wrote:

    I often suspect the ‘Sophisticated Theologians’™ know perfectly well they’re really not making any sense whatsoever.

    I agree — but I think they manage to fool themselves into seeing this as a positive.

    1.) If God exists and is much, much “higher” than we can comprehend, then many attempts to describe or explain God will sound like garbled nonsense.

    2.) Hmmmm … you’re right. What I just said about God does sound like a bit of garbled nonsense now, doesn’t it?

    3.) YAY! No problemo! I must be on the right track!

    4.) This whole process is just so humbling … and good for us.

    5.) I’m just so glad that I’m not an atheist, who doesn’t get to go through this ennobling reach beyond the grasp of our understanding, but stays forever stuck in the mundane reality of what they can comprehend, blind to possibilities, sure of themselves — and with a lamentable need to control everything.

    6.) I hope the atheist appreciates this honest and loving attempt to reach out to them and explain. They’re so surprisingly hostile.

  55. amdiffer says

    All their attempts to justify and worship suffering irritate me to no end. Especially when they try to say that there is some sort of magical accounting to it all. No, some people suffer more than others and they do not in any way “deserve” it. My son, for example, has autism. Despite all the attempts to glamorize this disease in media lately, and cast its sufferers as some kind of advanced humans or something, it is a really painful disease. It disrupts every moment of their lives, they are over-sensitive to every kind of stimuli, they are mistreated by impatient people, they still need love but cannot manage relationships as easily. Are they sinning it up? Do they need to offer God anything? Its all Bullshit. Is my son paying for my sins, am I paying for my sins by having to suffer with him, Bullshit again. I know there is no purpose here, if there is then it is some kind of evil purpose and I hate God, so I’m happier believing there is no God. Furthermore, I believe that I am more moral for believing that suffering is something to be minimized as much as we can for each other. I will never embrace it as the will of God. I only rage against it and volunteer to bring joy where I can.

    “Consequences” is a synonym for suffering that the pro-life folks love to see women having. They want there to be consequences for sex, they want to make the consequences as bad as possible, they have no interest in minimizing consequences. Well, for women anyway. One of them gleefully tweeted the other day that “no one made her lay down and get pregnant and now that she did, there are consequences.” Well there are natural consequences and there are society inflicted consequences. We need not add to women’s troubles by making things harder, but we do, and there are more laws passed all the time to make contraception and abortion more difficult, and its all about society inflicted consequences for “sin.” What, God isn’t making enough suffering all on his own?

  56. Rodney Nelson says

    AJ Milne #64

    I often suspect the ‘Sophisticated Theologians’™ know perfectly well they’re really not making any sense whatsoever.

    Theology becomes more and more sophisticated every time someone points out a contradiction or absurdity in a religion. “If God is loving why is there suffering?” is excused with “Christianity doesn’t end suffering. It just redefines it as a positive.” Over the centuries the irrationality of Christianity has become more and more evident so the apologetics become more and more sophisticated trying to explain away the incongruities.

  57. dianne says

    I think I just had a revelation. I suddenly understand sophisticated theology. It’s like this:

    The description of Jesus’ life, God, burning bushes, Heaven, rewards in the afterlife, those are analogies or poetic descriptions.

    The rules that are inconvenient for the church leaders like not wearing mixed fabrics or eating shellfish, those are meant for the time only. God’s practicality, so to speak.

    Those rules describing things that allow the church leaders to maintain control of others such as the rules against birth control and abortion, gay sex, or women being leaders, only those are meant literally. By the figurative God.

  58. says

    @anteprepro #45:

    just like they redefine suffering into a positive, I’m sure they’ve redefined coercion.

    Threatening your creations with hellfire: unconditional love.

    Unambiguously revealing your own existence: coercion.

  59. says

    Way before Catholicism was invented, the ancient Greeks created this form of thinking.

    It’s called sophistry.

    The Catholics are the grand masters of it.

  60. sqlrob says

    So according to this guy, death is dead?

    And with strange aeons, even death may die.

    /don’t believe it took this many comments for that reply.

  61. brucej says

    jhendrix sez:

    Some suffering may have a point, such as going through chemotherapy to survive cancer and live a bit longer, but certainly not all suffering has one.

    But that suffering has no “point” either…it is a inescapable part of the treatment, and most research in chemotherapy is focused on treating the illness without causing the suffering.

    Pain has a point…we’ve developed the pain reflex to defend ourselves from harm. Suffering has no value, it’s merely the pain reflex triggered without the ability to avoid the pain-causing agent.

  62. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    I’m suffering a lot of pain right now. I interpret its purpose as letting me know to avoid lifting heavy objects, to lose more weight, to eat more fiber and to not sit upright for a while.

  63. jose says

    “If you don’t believe it is, develop leukemia, have a close family member die, and then try being content with not having any answers, meaning, or purpose.”

    Go somewhere else.

  64. briane says

    It is interesting how sophisticated catholics use the cosmological argument which leads to an eternal, unchanging mover, but this automaton loves, needs to be loved and will damn you to fucking hell for not loving it. It’s like when questioned, Oh, it’s scientific, everything has a cause (really?!?) and so, the universe has a cause and we call that cause god but when in church God loves you, and if you play by god’s rules, you won’t get tortured by this psycho. He sent himself, in the guise of his son, to die for crimes that he knew would happen, because he knows everything and so, you got to love his son (him) or suffer .

  65. rogerfirth says

    All atheism has its ultimate source in Jesus Christ then, for by his death he negated the existence of God. And in his death, sin itself died, for he became sin itself. And if sin died, suffering died, for suffering is the result of sin. And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

    …Norman …coordinate.

    I swear, just reading that you can see the smoke coming out of his ears

  66. A. R says

    A Catholic trying to justify their faith is falser than vows made in wine. (Thought I’d throw some Shakespeare into this one.)

  67. says

    Well now, thank you for validating my world view. You see, I believe that as a community of human beings, it would be good to work together to reduce suffering.

    Of course, I can think that way because I see suffering as unnecessary. I also don’t look at a 1 minute old child and see condemnation, sin, and evil. I see children as innocents and that every sick, twisted adult in this world became that way because as an innocent child they suffered something they could not process and cope with.

    Often times that thing is their parents scaring them witless with tales of eternal torture and an omnipresent prison guard who is willing to trick you into breaking the rules and then punish you for eternity.

  68. says

    Oh, and as a gay woman, it is pretty clear to me that the Catholic Church exists to generate suffering where there need not be any.

  69. Ichthyic says

    I figured it out. Catholocism, and probably most religion works on the Fox effect. Authority figure talks to crowd so no one feels comfortable questioning bullshit thus it is accepted.

    yes, this was explored by Altemeyer, in looking at the exact psychological studies you are thinking of, when he was researching authoritarian personalities.

  70. Armored Scrum Object says

    @ButchKitties #51:

    They’ve probably redefined special pleading as well, just to complete the circle of illogic.

    I think you’re close to a bumper sticker summary of presuppositionalism.

  71. says

    It makes me so insane that people can think that way.

    “Suffering is bad. But if I just decide to believe whatever I want, suffering can be good.”

    Really? And they want to accuse me of moral relativism? Oh that’s right. All their accusations are just projection.

  72. Sastra says

    Catholics have it backwards. We don’t need to read Catholic apologetics to believe that suffering is a good thing.

    First we need to believe that suffering is a good thing.

    Then we will read Catholic apologetics.

  73. says

    So tired of the metaphysical libertarians. That’s what I call the “good” Christians who don’t constantly harass non-Christians, gays, etc. They achieve some measure of comfort from it. It helps them personally. Not really their problem if religion gets unearned respect in part because of their goodness. And not really their problem then if people like me will have to pay, our entire lives, for Christian belief.

  74. Snoof says

    And if all suffering died, than death itself — the ultimate human suffering — dies.

    I think Alhazred said it better.

    That is not dead which can eternal lie.
    And with strange aeons even death may die.

  75. cactuswren says

    Reminds me of Marie Killilea’s books, Karen and With Love From Karen, about her daughter with cerebral palsy. Karen Killilea was born in 1940, and the books are a mine of information about having a disabled child in the days before the organized disability rights movement, and about raising a Catholic family in the days before Vatican II.

    In the first book, Mrs. Killilea describes the day when Karen — then seven years old, I think — finally confronted her with the question I think every parent of a disabled child must fear: Why? Why me? “Mom Pom, why did God make me a cripple?”

    Marie Killilea could have answered this a lot of ways. She could have said — and I think this would have been the most honest answer — “I don’t know.” She could have said, “I don’t think God did it, honey, it just happened.” But instead, she explained carefully that it was because God loved Karen more than anyone else in the family, and that “Suffering is a sign of God’s special love.”

    And what’s most painful is that Karen Killilea, if her mother’s narrative is to be relied on, completely internalized this attitude. In the second book, there’s a scene where Karen — by then twelve or thirteen — loses her beloved dog, her constant companion of many years, very close to Easter. She muses to her mother that “Easter is the time of Our Lord’s greatest suffering”, and recalls that a year earlier at the same time, she’d had a painful infection: “And this year, He took Shanty. Mom Pom, isn’t He good to let me share His suffering?”

  76. anteprepro says

    But instead, she explained carefully that it was because God loved Karen more than anyone else in the family, and that “Suffering is a sign of God’s special love.”

    Just more proof that “love” doesn’t actually mean love in a Christian context. As if that was even necessary, given that the genocidal God of the Bible “is love” and given the sheer ubiquity of “Christian love”.

    “And this year, He took Shanty. Mom Pom, isn’t He good to let me share His suffering?”

    Fucking fuck fuck fuck. I really can’t get myself say much more than that. Fucking disgusting.

  77. chigau (違わない) says

    I read those Karen books!
    I think they contributed to my giving up Catholicism.

  78. shoeguy says

    I feel like I have suffered enough just reading those three paragraphs of inanity. The only purpose I can see in Catholicism is that believers can be entertained by a certain genre of horror movie.

  79. unclefrogy says

    with all of that crap is it any wonder there are the scandals there
    are, now we will get to see the trial of the Pope’s butler.
    It is just creepy.
    uncle frogy

  80. bastionofsass says

    When I was a Catholic school girl of about 7 or 8 years old, one of my classmates fell and broke her arm during our lunchtime recess.

    She didn’t tell anyone that her arm hurt until she got home after school and told her mother.

    The next day, the nun went on and on about how this girl set such a wonderful example for us to follow when she suffered all afternoon in silence, offering up her pain to god as penance for her sins, instead of going to the hospital and being treated.

    Even as a child who still believed in what I was taught about god and Catholic beliefs, I thought the whole idea of suffering when you didn’t have to in order to score some extra points with god was really, really stupid.

  81. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Even as a child who still believed in what I was taught about god and Catholic beliefs, I thought the whole idea of suffering when you didn’t have to in order to score some extra points with god was really, really stupid.

    Not only stupid, but potentially harmful.

    There are studies about several types of chronic pain (fibromyalgia, CRPS, algodystrophia, and the like) that indicate that neglecting to treat pain in a timely fashion might program your brain into feeling pain even when the mechanical and/or inflammatory mechanism for it is gone.

    CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a possible complication in fractures and sprains of hands and feet – in particular is not only painful, but can severely deform limbs and limit their movements for extended periods of time.

  82. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    If you don’t believe it is, develop leukemia, have a close family member die, and then try being content with not having any answers, meaning, or purpose.

    My best friend developped ovarian cancer. I litterally watched her die.

    I cannot be brought to like or accept any fucking “purpose” or trite “meaning” associated with it – that would be selfish and pointless.

    “Meaning” and “purpose” are inane and selfish comforts that promote inaction and forgetfulness. Sick people suffering and dying in silence are so much more comfortable for people around them. You forget that you’re just as mortal and vulnerable as those poor schlobs. Doesn’t it make your day easier to go through ?

    Outrage and doubt pushes you to go look for real answers that just might avoid needless suffering for other people – science.

    In my friend’s case, it is highly possible her genetics is responsible for her cancer. “god’s plan” won’t help us to cure people like her. Biology just might.

  83. billopenthalt says

    I was raised a catholic, but lost “my” faith aged 12 when our religion teacher (a priest) explained that when unbaptised children die, they don’t go to heaven, but are condemned to stay in limbo forever. I had a heated discussion with the teacher, and was really disgusted he did not see how immoral this is.

  84. anteprepro says

    I had a heated discussion with the teacher, and was really disgusted he did not see how immoral this is.

    That doesn’t seem to be a rare reaction among us amoral, self-indulgent heathens. Obviously, our moral outrage means that we are overly emotional in our rejection of Christianity. Just like when we give calm, rational reasons for rejecting Christianity, we are being cold-hearted vulcans who are closed off to the emotional dimensions of human existence. We are all things at once, none of them good.

  85. DLC says

    If God knows all, then he knows my entire life from front to back, and so there can ultimately be no free will. Yet I am told by Catholics and others that Sin is disobeying God’s rules.
    If there is no free will, how can I disobey God’s rules ?
    If there is free will, then God is not omniscient and therefore not perfect and therefore not God.
    Sounds fairly logical to me . . .

    thanks folks, I’m here all week. Try the mulled wine, it’s delicious!

  86. says

    First we need to believe that suffering is a good thing… Then we will read Catholic apologetics.

    I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I just got this.

    In my defense, I was kinda skimming, earlier. And very tired*, due to other commitments.

    That said: I’m now a lawlin’.

    (/*Also, this is a thread about Catholic apologetics.)

  87. hypatiasdaughter says

    Ignore the instances of adults getting diseases, like cancer, and ask yourself why a loving god inflicts the worst death rate on children under 5?
    Until the last century, with such advances as good sanitation (properly treating sewage and providing clean water) and the discovery of antibiotics and immunization, it is estimated that half of the human race died before the age of 5 from childhood diseases. (And it is estimated that up to 50% die before they are even born.)
    According to xtianity, they were conceived in sin. But all died before they attained the intellectual maturity to know and accept Jesus as their savior who could forgive them.
    The “problem” of children and their inherited sin has plagued xtianity for 2,000 years. The bible totally ignores the issue and the answers the churches come have come up with suck mightily (see Augustine and WLC for their horrific take on the deaths of children).
    Infant death is, for me, the biggest hole in xtian theology.