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Feb 25 2014

I get email

Fanatical Catholics are always good for a laugh.

I’m not sure to what degree you’ve studied the history of Christianity, but I assume you’re at least somewhat aware that the Catholic claim to a historic link from the time of Jesus to now is accurate.

Which explains how Catholic church services and doctrine is so precisely like what a poor first century Jew would have experienced.

Yes, there is a historic “link” from a Jesus cult in the ancient Mediterranean to the modern Catholic church. There are also historic links to pagan practices in Germany, the Mithraic cults from Persia, the political maneuvering in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE (which makes House of Cards look tame), etc. — syncretism is the rule, not the exception. The church has been evolving for as long as it existed, and when cladogenesis occurs, as in the Reformation, both branches are able to trace their lineage back to the same original set of founding events.

I’m not defending Protestantism, by the way. You’re both loony.

Since the historical record is clear, since we know that the Catholic church–contrary to Protestant propaganda–has supported science throughout the ages, why exactly does Western society have to conform to liberal cosmopolitan norms, by accepting matters such as gay marriage which run contrary to our culture?

The historical record is clear — all religions are products of their times. You can’t make a case for Catholic exceptionalism without some Protestant making a case for the new and superior revelations of Martin Luther, or Muslim making a case for their prophet, whom you neglect or revile.

Since you are so focused on the historical record, you are aware, are you not, that Catholicism formed in a very cosmopolitan culture, in the heart of the most powerful empire in the ancient world? The core of Catholicism is very urban. Visit Rome and see.

Oh, I can tell you’re just one of those conservative Catholics who believes that their current social beliefs have always been so, and seeks to justify their every kneejerk rejection of change by claiming that the founder of your religion would have agreed. Sorry, no. Paul of Tarsus might well have been a nasty homophobe and misogynist, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. Catholics have changed a lot in the last few centuries. You’ve changed how you handle marriage a lot…unless you’re also one of those reactionaries who thinks love is irrelevant and women should have no say in who they marry.

It just seems bizarre to me that every other culture around the world is allowed to keep their traditions but for whatever reason, in large part due to Protestant superstitions, we’re told we must abandon the Catholic tradition. You don’t see anything strange about that?

Protestants are squawking just as loudly as you are about gay marriage. Mormons are on your side in this issue, which ought to make you pause. This is not a conspiracy by organized religion to make Catholics suffer, so just crawl down off that cross.

I think it’s cute what you did there: Protestants have superstitions, but you have traditions. You really are peas in a pod.

Also, no one is making you change your traditions or telling you what to believe. You don’t have to get married to someone of the same sex. Your church doesn’t even have to carry out gay marriage ceremonies. You get to do as you want.

Except where it hurts people.

That’s the thing. Where you think you are just so fucking special because you’re Catholic, the rest of the world is trying to grow up and recognize that every one of us, gay or straight, man or woman, brown or pink, are human beings who deserve equal treatment under the law, and that ‘tradition’ is not a sufficient excuse to refuse some people their rights.

I would also ask how, if a pair of gay atheists marry, it makes you abandon your Catholic tradition? Or what if it’s a pair of liberal Lutherans, or a pair of ex-Catholics? Is it just violating your Catholic tradition of treating some people as less than human?

You don’t have to like the Catholic church but you must know that a lot of the science/faith nonsense was created by Protestant propagandists all too willing to exaggerate any little hiccup in Catholic land. They didn’t think the Earth was flat, I assume you know that. I know I’m a Catholic apologist but you should at least look fairly at matters such as the Inquisition and the Galileo trial, there are a lot of exaggerated stories about both.

No, the Catholic church has not been a defender of science. It has been a defender of its own power and its own dogma. Science that contradicts your silly beliefs is either slapped down or mangled to fit. And it has always done that.

The Catholic church does not actually support evolution, for instance. It supports a bastardized version of directed evolution (two words that contradict each other profoundly), with your god creating beings who resembled him in some way using evolution (again, nonsense) and then suddenly creating a distinct transition with magical ensoulment.

Galileo and the Inquisition…just “little hiccups in Catholic land”. Right. Sounds like Catholic history, to me: self-serving distortions everywhere.

I guess what I’m saying is that to be Catholic, truly Catholic, you can see just how wicked Protestants behaved (and can you not laugh at their ignorance of history, their belief that the Bible just appeared in English in the 17th century?), how blurred they made all of history, and how it’s a shame that they planted these seeds of confusion in this land. There is really no need to reconcile science with faith, whether you like it or not the Catholic church has always supported science.

Man, you really have a hate-on for Protestants, don’t you? Weird. I get Protestants who tell me how unchristian and evil Catholics are, too, you know. I think you’re both bonkers.

So, what century did the Bible appear, and in what languages was it composed? How was it assembled? Or is that too much sausage making for you?

81 comments

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  1. 1
    Zeno

    Having grown up Catholic, I can attest to the smug superiority that most Catholics feel when contemplating the chaotic splintering that characterizes the tens of thousands of Protestant sects. Catholics also resent the tendency of Protestants to exaggerate the evils of the Inquisition—as if all is forgiven when the historical record is corrected to reflect thousands of victims instead of millions (see? a mere blip! not so bad!). And contemporary scandals? Well, you know that most of those altar boys were just asking for it!

    The Church is also a hotbed of intelligent design, without any pussyfooting about the Designer’s identity. While this makes Catholicism a mostly hostile environment for the young-earth creationist (there are exceptions! and even geocentrists!), Catholics who bother to think about such things never appear to wonder why God is so parsimonious in his “direction” of the evolutionary process. Why … it’s like he’s not even there!

    One good thing to contemplate: The current pope, who is less of a bastard than his immediate predecessor, is widely believed by right-wing Catholics (and many evangelical Protestants) to be the last of the papal line, all because of some goofy prophecy by St. Malachy. There will be an enormous amount of amusing consternation when Pope Francis dies and his successor is elected without the occurrence of Armageddon, the rise of the Anti-Christ, or the return of the Messiah. The pope is already 77. Get the popcorn ready.

  2. 2
    dean

    The current pope, who is less of a bastard than his immediate predecessor

    The current pope is merely more P.R. savvy than beenadick was. He would not have been considered for the position if he held views that were significantly different than those of the two previous sleazebags who were in the position.

  3. 3
    Nathan Zamprogno

    When people ask me about the Catholic church, I simply tell them three stories they may never have heard of:
    1. The assassination of Hypatia of Alexandria,
    2. The Cadaver Synod, and
    3. The Banquet of Chestnuts.

    Then I just stand back and watch that person writhe.

  4. 4
    Pierce R. Butler

    … all too willing to exaggerate any little hiccup …

    Yeah, and the crimes of 9/11/01 only destroyed three buildings and caused temporary damage to a fourth.

    Plus, lots of people don’t even agree who did it or why – so what’s the fuss?

  5. 5
    Erp

    Writes of “historical ignorance” and yet knows nothing about German speaking Luther or French speaking Calvin (King James only protestants are a very small group worldwide). Knows nothing about the Orthodox churches who may have a better claim to keeping tradition.

    There is plenty of blood on the hands of both Protestants and Catholics (about the only group that might have avoided that are the Quakers and other “peace churches” and even they have their own mistakes).

    BTW “the Mithraic cults from Persia” is a bit dubious. The cult of Mithras within the Roman Empire seems to have been almost completely home grown beyond grabbing a name or two from beyond the borders. Also connections to early Christianity seem very weak (Christmas at the winter solstice may well in part be a borrowing from the worship of the Sun and the cult of Mithras certainly involved the worship of the Sun; however, most worshipers of the Sun were not followers of Mithras).

  6. 6
    johnrockoford

    First of all, a little actual church history for our Catholic apologist: The church that he claims traces its roots back to the time of Jesus was not the Catholic church. It was the early Christian church and the Catholic branch did not come into existence until the 11th century CE when the church split into its East and West branches, after the grand East–West Schism. The Eastern branch became the Orthodox and the Western one the Catholic. So, no, the Catholic branch cannot claim to be a direct descendant from the time of Jesus any more than the Orthodox branch can — or a bunch of now extinct sects.

    Although I’d like to see all superstitions and religions disappear, one thing that should be pointed out is that the Protestant branch was — inadvertently — far more science friendly than the Catholic branch: The Protestants made a point of challenging the top-down hierarchy of the Catholic branch and the Pope’s infallibility, and argued that people could interpret religious texts by themselves. Consequently — and again, quite inadvertently — Protestant cultures allowed for more free inquiry and more challenges to dogmatic orthodoxy, both hallmarks of the scientific endeavor. It’s not by accident that Protestant cultures developed more science after the 16th than Catholic cultures.

  7. 7
    Gregory in Seattle

    As it happens, I am a scholar of Christian history. Specifically, very early Christian history (from its roots in the first century BCE through the 9th century CE), and some in-depth study from then through the Great Schism between the western and eastern churches.

    The RCC’s claim of “historic continuity” is a fraud. I started to write a whole history lesson, but figured it would be TL;DR. The information is easy enough to find on the web.

  8. 8
    timgueguen

    I wonder what the letter writer thinks of all those pre-Reformation non-Catholic sects.

    Culture? Culture changes. And like their Protestant counterparts the letter writer holds beliefs and viewpoints his equivalent decades ago would find disturbing and un-Catholic.

  9. 9
    Gregory in Seattle

    @johnrockoford – Funny thing about the Great Schism: the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated the Patriarch of Rome and all his followers, and the Patriarch of Rome did likewise to the Patriarch of Constantinople and his followers. So, if one were to assume that the incantations had any effect, the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and all their offspring (including most Protestant sects) are technically heretics damned to eternal hell.

  10. 10
    Caveat Imperator

    I love how the letter writer picks a rare, bizarrely kooky belief like KJV Onlyism to make fun of Protestants instead of something more mainstream and visible, like opposition to gay marriage and other social justice causes, anti-intellectualism, or a track record of advocating violence against opposing faiths.

    Oh wait, I know why that is. Something about splinters and beams comes to mind. I think I read it in a book, and everyone on this website most likely knows that book better than the letter writer.

  11. 11
    A Masked Avenger

    So, no, the Catholic branch cannot claim to be a direct descendant from the time of Jesus any more than the Orthodox branch can — or a bunch of now extinct sects.

    Sure they can, in the same way that modern Jews can claim to be a direct descendant of second temple Judaism. There’s a relatively unbroken line of cultural transmission, during which the culture morphed considerably over time.

    Most Christian sects can make similar claims, of course: Luther was a Catholic monk, so his followers are also heirs of an unbroken cultural transmission, in which Luther introduced some significant changes all at once.

    Suggesting that “Catholicism” didn’t exist until it forked from “Eastern Orthodoxy” is a little deceptive. “Judaism” wasn’t called that until about 1089, the time of Ibn Ezra, but it existed since at least the time of the Maccabees. As a more decentralized religion, it would be harder to distinguish between the various sects of Judaism today, but the Christians fairly quickly evolved a relatively hierarchical structure, mirroring the civil hierarchy of the Roman empire, with the bishop of Rome at or near the top. This hierarchy solidified considerably over time, but was in evidence by the second or third centuries. The East/West split was a battle for supremacy over an existing church hierarchy.

    In very broad terms–ignoring crap about St. Peter being the first pope, etc.–it’s fair to say that their historical claims are generally accurate. I think the right answer is not to dispute it. The right answer is, “So the fuck what?”

  12. 12
    raven

    but I assume you’re at least somewhat aware that the Catholic claim to a historic link from the time of Jesus to now is accurate.

    Quite a load of crazy there. It’s all wrong.

    BTW, all xians claim a historic link to the time of jesus. Jesus’s name and title was jesus christ. That is where the world Christian come from.

  13. 13
    scottde

    The cult of Mithras is no longer thought to be Persian. None of the iconography or practices associated with it appear to be particularly Persian in origin, nor are they found in Persia. Mithraism appears to be a Roman invention, albeit with many synchretic elements.

  14. 14
    raven

    …we’re told we must abandon the Catholic tradition. You don’t see anything strange about that?

    It’s not strange, it is just wrong. This person’s whole point is imaginary persecution.

    1. No one is forcing you to abandom Catholic traditions except the ones that are illegal. Child rape for one.

    2. You can still hate gays. What we want is for Catholics to stay under their rocks and leave us and our society alone.

    This is BTW, the law in the USA. The RCC has no moral, ethical, or legal right to tell me and any of the other 317 million citizens to do anything. It’s a voluntary association with no legal power over anyone.

  15. 15
    cartomancer

    The catholic church as it exists today is very much a post-reformation phenomenon. Medieval historians, of which I am one, tend to use “the Medieval church” to refer to institutional christianity in Western Europe. Because, while “catholic” was a common enough word for Medieval christians to use about their church, the connotations of its usage were very different.

    I like the following comparison. The modern Catholic Church is to the Medieval church what the Sealed Knot are to the English Civil War. They’re re-enactors. They’re historical reconstruction enthusiasts. They’re deliberate and knowing purveyors of conscious anachronism. They might use a lot of Medieval imagery and liturgy and symbolism and practice, but they use it in a knowing and fully aware attempt to keep the past alive. Medieval christians did not use medieval religious practice to keep the past alive – to them the relic cult and the saints and the liturgy and the sacraments were current and immediate and of a piece with the rest of their culture. The Medieval church was not all about hidebound archaism, and indeed many innovations and changes flourished under it – especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

  16. 16
    barbyau

    I returned to college in 2008 to finish my degree at Augsburg, which sadly meant I had a religion requirement to fulfill. I remember very clearly the day the instructor asked us what language the Old Testament was originally written in and discovering that the majority of the class thought it was originally written in Aramaic. I can only assume that is because they had seen a Mel Gibson movie.

    Of course, as an atheist (and a gay one at that), I have had to brush up my knowledge about their faith. Much of the rest of the class just understood Christianity as being whatever it was they felt it should be as conjured up in their imaginations so they could feel good about themselves. I felt I learned very little about the faith, but did get a lot of insight on the followers. I don’t wish to hazard a guess as to whether the rest of them learned much at all.

  17. 17
    gussnarp

    Sometimes something comes along that really reminds me just how weird religious people can be. Especially these conservative Catholic extremist types. What is this guy’s deal with protestants? Not that, as you say, some of the protestants don’t have a similar attitude toward Catholics. It seems like people ought to realize what religiously motivated hate and bigotry really looks like. When Rev. Hagee calls the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon, when this guy spews his bile at protestants, when any of them attack the Mormons, you get a taste of it. When we criticize their beliefs in strong terms, that is not nearly the same. I don’t imagine a guy like this has enough self awareness to see what he’s doing though.

    But I think you gave him too much credit in acknowledging his “historical link”. You’re talking about any sort of historical link, I think. Like, this guy was inspired by the history of that guy….so on and so forth. He’s not saying that. When he talks about the Catholic Church having a historical link to the time of Jesus, he means that there literally was a guy named Peter who was a disciple of a historical Jesus who saw him crucified and resurrected and founded a church and that Peter had a known, direct successor heading that church, who had a successor, who had a successor …..Pope Francis in an unbroken line. Which is pretty much, as far as I know, utterly unsubstantiated.

  18. 18
    gussnarp

    Speaking of Popes and Paul of Tarsus, if Peter was the first Pope, and if Catholicism were “true” to the extent it even makes sense to describe such a thing as Catholicism as “true”, then Peter should have had the ability to speak for God on earth. So would his successor, and so forth. But the Catholic Church usually is pretty tight with who gets to speak for God, who makes the rules, and so forth. So what was Paul’s authority? Why wasn’t the first Pope the guy writing all those rules and edicts for the early Christians? It does all read like Paul is speaking as the authority, the guy either making up the rules or getting them from God. Shouldn’t he at least have been citing Peter as the authoritative source on this stuff?

  19. 19
    raven

    This email is great comedy. See religion does have some minor uses.

    I know I’m a Catholic apologist but you should at least look fairly at matters such as the Inquisition and the Galileo trial, there are a lot of exaggerated stories about both.

    Or the Crusades, two of which were against other xian groups. The Albigensian genocide which killed maybe 1 milion people and had a 100% kill rate. Plus the Reformation wars which killed millions. Or the Holocaust which is the end result of 2.000 years of antisemitism with the torch being carried by the Catholic church.

    ….you can see just how wicked Protestants behaved…

    This is great. It is getting so hard to find traditional religion any more. Catholic hate for Protestants (and vice versa) is still around but it isn’t what it used to be. Bunch of slackers.

  20. 20
    hexidecima

    the nastiness between Protestants and Catholics (and most ever other stripe of theist) is the usual TrueChristian activity. Each is sure that they are so much better than those “others”. Of course, none of them have any more evidence that this is true than the next.

  21. 21
    Leo Buzalsky

    One interesting thing that he(?) alludes to, though, is there is this idea in our culture that Christopher Columbus was supposedly discouraged from sailing west because people thought the earth was flat. They didn’t think that…well, at least not the people in power.

    Apparently, this misconception is a result of a lie from Protestant propaganda trying to defame the Catholic Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth#History

    Still, the fact that the Catholic Church wasn’t promoting a flat earth does not mean that they were therefore a friend of science. I don’t think your Catholic “friend” here understands how this works. He seems to be treating this as though the claim that the Catholic Church is anti-science is falsifiable by just showing one example of the church being pro-science. He’s got it backwards — the claim that the church is pro-science is the falsifiable claim. The church is essentially anti-science because the claim that they are pro-science has been falsified. Either that or he thinks the flat earth thing is the only place where a pro-science claim has been falsified. If that’s the case, this “historian,” or whatever he called himself, doesn’t know their history that well, as evidenced by P.Z.’s point on Galileo.

  22. 22
    Gregory in Seattle

    @cartomancer #15 – Not to siderail the conversation, but what period is considered “the Medieval Church”? I’m guessing it ends at the Council of Trent.

  23. 23
    Moggie

    Gregory in Seattle:

    The RCC’s claim of “historic continuity” is a fraud. I started to write a whole history lesson, but figured it would be TL;DR.

    That might make an interesting guest post, in my opinion.

  24. 24
    LykeX

    It does all read like Paul is speaking as the authority, the guy either making up the rules or getting them from God.

    It does appear that Paul claimed direct communication from the risen Jesus. E.g. Galatians 1: 11-12

    11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

    Whether he just made that up or was actually experiencing some kind of religious hallucinations is anyone’s guess.

  25. 25
    PZ Myers

    Ooh, yeah, I’m always happy to get an interesting guest post.

  26. 26
    Menyambal

    I thought the popes are “heirs of Peter”, claiming direct passing down of authority from that apostle.

    I also thought that some of the Catholic costumery was Egyptian in origin. The pope’s hat and some of the monk’s robes, at least.

    Yeah, I grew up with Catholicism as the whore of something or other.

    By the way, a Baptist fellow once explained to me how his church was the one true church, with an unbroken history and inheritance back to John the Baptist. I didn’t get where exactly Jesus fit in there, though.

  27. 27
    call me mark

    “Eppur si muove”

  28. 28
    johnlee

    In terms of genocide, the Catholic Church is up there with the best of them. The Abiginian Crusade in the 13th century, sponsored by the RCC, is estimated to have resulted in the extarmination of 500,000 Cathars, deemed to be heretics. The Spanish Inquisition, became notorious for terrorizing half of Europe went on to bring religious intolerance to its most extreme form.
    In the 20th century, the RCC was instrumental in bringing Fascism to Spain, and had very few qualms about helping to keep it in power for 40 years.
    I could go on and on, but as has been pointed out, it’s all there on the net. Of course other groups were also responsible for their own murders, but ….

  29. 29
    skaduskitai

    Yet another delusional believer claiming that marrige belongs to the catholic church because of history. I think this catholic should actually study the history of his beloved catholic church because then he would realize that christianity didn’t give a damn about marrige for the first 1000 years of it’s existence. In the middle ages there were no christian wedding ceremonies, and even blessing a marrige was considered a too carnal affair to be allowed into a church! Suddenly from the 12th century and forward the catholic church grows ever more concerned with marrige and eventually claims supreme authority over marrige just to loose it again to the emerging secular nations of europe.

    What history supports, my dear catholic, is that christianity had no authority over marrige to begin with and that although the church tried to wrestle itself into control over this institution it failed already in the 17th century. It’s been a matter of secular legislation for centuries by now. Get over it.

  30. 30
    twas brillig (stevem)

    the email is a disappoint ;-(
    I was expecting his “RCC supports science” to include the usual “Galileo was a Catholic” and “Bach was a Catholic, all the great scientists of the Middle Ages were Catholic, etc. etc.” to be followed by “Stalin was an Atheist …” So RCC is GOOD and Atheism is EVIL, QED. I was *amused* to see the ranting against Protestantism. His concentration on History to justify the RCC (and our concentration on History to villify it) is wrong wrong wrong. Yes, they did good/bad things in the past, but what is *important* is what they do NOW. As PZ says, the RCC’s “acceptance” of Evolution is a PR job over “Creationism”. Still a far cry from fully accepting and defending the Science of Evolution(ism). The RCC argues repeatedly that miracles are common, that Gawd doesn’t obey physic’s “laws”, etc. etc. How can they possibly say they respect science? Lies, lies, lies.

    “Jesus Christ”:: was NOT his name, his NAME was Jesus. People, his followers, assigned him the TITLE of Christ, to be added to his name. Like Ian McKellen was given the title of Sir. Is his NAME Sir Ian? Not being British, to me his name is Ian, we just include his title of Sir when we talk to/about him, and so always say Sir Ian. /trivia

  31. 31
    David Marjanović
    and can you not laugh at their ignorance of history, their belief that the Bible just appeared in English in the 17th century?

    LOL. What about Luther, who translated the Bible from Latin into German the century before, making an enormous contribution to the creation of Standard German?

    There are Americans who believe the KJV is inspired by God just like the original lost manuscripts, so whenever the KJV and a 4th- or 2nd-century manuscript disagree, they stick with the KJV; but even they don’t believe that the Bible just appeared in English in the 17th century.

    The current pope, who is less of a bastard than his immediate predecessor, is widely believed by right-wing Catholics (and many evangelical Protestants) to be the last of the papal line, all because of some goofy prophecy by St. Malachy.

    “Widely” believed???

    Anyway, it’s not by St. Malachy at all. It appeared in 1595, some 450 years after Malachy died in 1148… and:

    “Given the very accurate description of popes up to 1590 and lack of accuracy after that year, historians generally conclude that the alleged prophecies are a fabrication written shortly before they were published. The Roman Catholic Church also dismisses them as forgery.[1][2] The prophecies may have been created in an attempt to suggest that Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli’s bid for the papacy in the second conclave of 1590 was divinely ordained.” He never became pope, BTW.

    The catholic church as it exists today is very much a post-reformation phenomenon.

    Specifically, the Council of Trent (1545–1563!) introduced a lot of changes.

    “The Council issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies at the time of the Reformation and defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist in Holy Mass and the veneration of saints. It issued numerous reform decrees.[3] By specifying Catholic doctrine on salvation, the sacraments, and the Biblical canon, the Council was answering Protestant disputes.[1] The Council entrusted to the Pope the implementation of its work; as a result, Pope Pius IV issued the Tridentine Creed in 1565; and Pope Pius V issued in 1566 the Roman Catechism, in 1568 a revised Roman Breviary, and in 1570 a revised Roman Missal. Through these the Tridentine Mass was standardised (named after the city’s Latin name Tridentum). In 1592, Pope Clement VIII issued a revised edition of the Vulgate Bible.[4]”

    The result was the Counter-Reformation, which had far-reaching impacts of which the current pope is one.

    When he talks about the Catholic Church having a historical link to the time of Jesus, he means that there literally was a guy named Peter who was a disciple of a historical Jesus who saw him crucified and resurrected and founded a church and that Peter had a known, direct successor heading that church, who had a successor, who had a successor …..Pope Francis in an unbroken line. Which is pretty much, as far as I know, utterly unsubstantiated.

    I forgot which church father it was who wrote that Clemens was the first bishop of Rome. Origen?

    Or the Holocaust which is the end result of 2.000 years of antisemitism with the torch being carried by the Catholic church.

    Immediately passed on by various Protestants, first of all Luther, who wrote something titled About the Jews and their lies.

    It’s been a matter of secular legislation for centuries by now. Get over it.

    This is about the US, where the state recognizes religious marriages as legally valid. Instead of marrying people, the state gives them a marriage license, which they carry to the cleric (or judge or mayor) of their confidence.

  32. 32
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Monitor note:
    Please remember that gendered insults are not appropriate on Pharyngula:

    Your post will be edited if: You use bigoted slurs.

    The rules.

  33. 33
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    I know I’m a Catholic apologist but you should at least look fairly at matters such as the Inquisition and the Galileo trial, there are a lot of exaggerated stories about both.

    Technically, this is true; many people are under the impression that Galileo was burned at the stake for espousing heliocentrism, which was defined as heresy. This is false on both counts; Galileo was placed under house arrest for calling the Pope a simpleton in print.
    Giordano Bruno, on the other hand, was totally burned at the stake on charges of heresy stemming from his related scientific work, only a few decades earlier, so the confusion is understandable.

  34. 34
    David Marjanović

    “Bach was a Catholic, all the great scientists of the Middle Ages were Catholic, etc. etc.”

    LOL!

  35. 35
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @David M, in relation to Stevem:

    I don’t remember at all – if I ever knew – if the early aramaic and greek messiah/christos were accompanied by articles? Articles equivalent to “the”?

    I understood his given title to be/mean “The Messiah/The Christ” not just “a messiah/a christ” or “messiah/christ”. Am I wrong? What’s going on here, linguistically?

  36. 36
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I understood his given title to be/mean “The Messiah/The Christ” not just “a messiah/a christ” or “messiah/christ”.

    Actually it means “a very naughty boy.”

  37. 37
    Bronze Dog

    I had to look up the Feast of Chestnuts and Cadaver Synod.

    In Magic: The Gathering card game, there’s a setting called Ravnica, a plane of existence that’s been almost completely urbanized. There are 5 colors of magic in the game, and Ravnica has 10 guilds representing every two-color combination. The Orzhov Syndicate represents black and white. They’re essentially a mixture of organized religion, organized crime, and a bank. In the Return to Ravnica block, they have a card mechanic called “Extort.” They take debts very seriously and expect you to pay them back, even if they have to zombify your corpse or bind your ghost to work it off. The Syndicate’s leaders are a council of ghosts.

    I thought it best to avoid cracking a joke in unfamiliar company: “So they’re Catholics?” The Cadaver Synod makes me wonder just how many parallels were intentional.

  38. 38
    anteprepro

    I thought it best to avoid cracking a joke in unfamiliar company: “So they’re Catholics?”

    I don’t know why I never saw the parallels! But I did always think that the Orzhov was a pitch-perfect illustration of religion, regardless.

  39. 39
    pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    Mr Myers – be a dear and be sure to post this person’s reply (if he does) so we can see how he squirms out of this, won’t you?

  40. 40
    cartomancer

    Gregory in Seattle, #22

    Trent is probably the best date to go from if you want a firm date, but as with all attempts to put history into neat little boxes, the dividing line is very fuzzy. The 95 Theses in 1517 might do just as well. But in truth the crystallisation of the modern cathlolic world-view occurred gradually and over an extended period of centuries. Traces of it can be seen as far back as the Black Death, or even the twelfth-century concern with venality and corruption among the clergy, but the crucial element is the “modern” sense of historical periodicity that developed in Europe from the end of the fourteenth century. Once history was divided into ancient, medieval and modern you could seriously begin to fetishise either the medieval centuries (as the catholics largely did) or the christianity of the ancient world (the “apostolic age”, as many protestants did). And, of course, many Europeans held on to a more “medieval” outlook long after Trent.

  41. 41
    shockna

    I love Catholic apologists like this. Assume, even when talking to atheists, that the fault lies entirely with “protestant lies”. Their heads tend to explode when I tell them I came to atheism from the same fundamentalist Catholic background they’re in now (and as such know just as much about church history and the absurd legalisms of the church as they do).

    I know I’m a Catholic apologist but you should at least look fairly at matters such as the Inquisition and the Galileo trial, there are a lot of exaggerated stories about both.

    I recently attended a Vatican Observatory seminar at my Universities astronomy department (despite being Jesuit priests/monks, those presenting kept it mostly to the astronomy, and thankfully never pushed Catholicism on those attending). After being asked about Galileo, one of the monks said something like “What you know about Galileo probably isn’t the whole story, but I don’t have the time to go into it, and frankly, the full story really doesn’t make the church look any better.”

    Apologists like the sender in PZ’s post are delusional if they think the inquisition or Galileo trial have anything resembling a positive outcome for the church.

  42. 42
    CJO

    I don’t remember at all – if I ever knew – if the early aramaic and greek messiah/christos were accompanied by articles? Articles equivalent to “the”?

    I understood his given title to be/mean “The Messiah/The Christ” not just “a messiah/a christ” or “messiah/christ”. Am I wrong? What’s going on here, linguistically?

    First, in regards to Jesus, from the earliest epistles we find the title being used in the manner of a name, so in the Paulines we have just Christos (used as a name), Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ, and just ho christos “the Christ”. Greek only has the definite article. This is in keeping with e.g. the Hellenistic dynasts’ practice of adopting an honorific as a second name, like Ptolemy I Soter (“savior”).

    Regarding Aramaic specifically, I’m not really sure. However, the root of all this is the Hebrew for “annointed” which could refer to priests, prophets, and especially kings. Explicitly “messianic” terminology is rare in the Hebrew scriptures; the various figures who are annointed are present or past realities, not future eschatological ones. For that kind of figure, you need to look in the prophets, where the terminology is usually oblique: “the Branch of Jesse” “the scepter of Israel,” terms that make imaginitive use of passages from the Torah in the manner of midrash. This thread is picked up in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but, possibly with bearing on the usage, the sect that composed writings like the Damascus Document and the Community Rule expected two messiahs at the end of days (one of Aaron, one of David).

  43. 43
    ButchKitties

    Immediately passed on by various Protestants, first of all Luther, who wrote something titled About the Jews and their lies.

    I was really shocked when I found out about this. Not shocked that a Christian theologian would go off the rails of antisemitism; shocked that my Catholic school didn’t gleefully pounce on this as proof of Catholic superiority when we covered Luther.

    Weird how one of our great civil rights heroes shares a name with someone who spent his final years writing antisemitism how-to books.

  44. 44
    urbanwitch

    One of their early traditions appears to be kiddy-fiddling. The Didache dates from late 1st or early 2nd century CE, and already has penalties for it. Not very serious penalties of course, but it obviously was already a problem.

    I remember this every time a church spokesman blames the modern culture for it.

  45. 45
    noxiousnan

    “why exactly does Western society have to conform to liberal cosmopolitan norms, by accepting matters such as gay marriage which run contrary to our culture?”

    Right thing to do won’t work for you? So then if something doesn’t run counter to our culture or Catholic history, we’re good? Our culture is one that prizes individual rights. Check.

    Some historians believe that the Catholic church was tolerant of same sex unions to the extent that they would perform the occasional ceremony:

    From rense.com: Yet after a 12-year search of Catholic and Orthodox church archives Yale history professor John Boswell has discovered that a type of Christian homosexual “marriage” did exist as late as the 18th century… Boswell’s academic study however is so well researched and sourced as to pose fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians about their attitude towards homosexuality.

    Historical precendent, check. When can I look forward to the acceptance of SSM by the Catholic Church…or even this one righteous Catholic?

    “It just seems bizarre to me that every other culture around the world is allowed to keep their traditions but for whatever reason, in large part due to Protestant superstitions, we’re told we must abandon the Catholic tradition. You don’t see anything strange about that?”

    Of course it does, poor dear, but those in favor of foot binding, FGM…and in a few years circumcision will disagree. You’re harmful traditions will be weeded out for the good of humanity, and if your religion can’t survive civil rights for all humans then what value could it hold for decent people?

  46. 46
    noxiousnan

    Yoiks, second to last paragraph supposed to be block quoted.

  47. 47
    raven

    I was really shocked when I found out about this. Not shocked that a Christian theologian would go off the rails of antisemitism; shocked that my Catholic school didn’t gleefully pounce on this as proof of Catholic superiority when we covered Luther.

    Don’t forget that Luther was a Catholic. Until he invented Protestantism.

    It isn’t like the Catholic church passed the antisemitic torch to Protestants. They did but they kept their own copy.

    Hitler was a Catholic. The SS, which actually carried out the Holocaust, was almost all Catholics and Lutherans. Notably absent were…atheists. Himmler didn’t allow atheists to join the SS, source wikipedia.

  48. 48
    twas brillig (stevem)

    The ummm “gentlest” apologia for the Galileo “incident”, was that the Pope was pissed that Galileo disobeyed him. When Galileo showed the Pope his draft of the document, the Pope said, “Yes, *we* agree with you, BUT, the people are too stupid to understand it yet. Wait a while, we’ll publish it later, we need to educate the people some more.” Galileo sniffed and went and published it anyway, and then the Pope got _Really_Angry_. I accepted that version of the story, for a while, as I was exiting the RCC to (full blown) Atheism. Now, I doubt it just as much as everything else from a Catholic mouth.

  49. 49
    Weed(less) Monkey

    Not being British, to me his name is Ian, we just include his title of Sir when we talk to/about him, and so always say Sir Ian.

    Or not. Refusing to use honorifics is a matter of principle for some of us.

  50. 50
    CJO

    One of their early traditions appears to be kiddy-fiddling. The Didache dates from late 1st or early 2nd century CE, and already has penalties for it.

    It prohibits paidophthoreseis (“corruption of a boy”), but nowhere in the Didache are there penalties; it’s just a series of commandments in the familiar form “thou shalt not”.

    And there the prohibition should be understood as a moralistic reaction against a common and accepted practice in the larger Greco-Roman society, not as identifying a particular issue within the church.

  51. 51
    Al Dente

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy @33

    Bruno wasn’t charged at his heresy trial with promoting heliocentrism. The Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says:

    Thus, in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology

    He was tried and convicted of heresies such as denying the transformation of the host to the body of Jesus, denying the virginity of Mary and denying the divinity of Jesus. It’s a fairly modern myth that Bruno was executed for supporting Copernican heliocentrism. He did support it but the Inquisition didn’t care about that.

  52. 52
    Gregory in Seattle

    Alright, I will try to keep this both brief and interesting. Keep in mind that I am a student of history and not an academic; but to the best of my knowledge, this is correct. I can dig up references, but mostly this comes from material I’ve read and watched over the last 30 years. And please forgive any misspellings. So (clears throat)

    A Brief(ish) History of the Early Church

    Our earliest, reasonably reliable records on Christianity date to around 150, and show a new religion bursting with differing, even competing, theologies. For example, the Ebionites held that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but that his mission was exclusively to the Jews: anyone who wanted to become a Christian had to convert to Judaism first. They appeared early enough to be mentioned in the Bible: directly labeled “Judaizers” in Galatians 2, and indirectly referenced in Acts 15 and Philippians 3.

    Another early movement was Montanism. Some time between 135 and 175, a man named Montanus began preaching what he called the New Prophesy in a village in modern-day Turkey, with two women, Prisca and Maximilla. Using early versions of the Gospels, the three claimed to be possessed by the Holy Spirit and speak with God’s voice. Based on contemporary accounts (much of it hostile), they seemed to be mainly in line with current doctrines, with the exception of disagreeing strongly with the development of a caste of all-male Christian clergy who claimed sole authority to define the Christian faith. Needless to say, that caste of all-male Christian clergy exterminated this proto-Pentecostal movement, and it vanished entirely by 230. Marcion of Sinope was virulently anti-Jewish and held that the God of Jesus was different from the God of the Jews. To prove this, he compiled the first canon of Christian scripture around 150, using the Gospel of Matthew and several of Paul’s letters. While he and his followers were eventually condemned as heretics, his collection became the basis of the modern Christian Canon.

    Trinitarianism began to appear in the 3rd century. This doctrine held that God was a single ousia consisting of three hypostaseis: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (1) But there was considerable variation even so: the Adoptionists held that Jesus was an ordinary human who had been adopted as the Son of God, while the Docetists held that Jesus was a spiritual manifestation of God given the appearance of material form to better be understood by limited mortal minds. There were many non-Trinitarian theologies, too, such as the Saebellians, who held a “modalist” theology claiming that Father, Son and Spirit were different “modes” or “aspects” of a single god. Most of these theologies lasted well into the 9th century, and many lasted even longer.

    Christianity also spawned a number of new religions. Many of the Gnostic sects appeared around this time, most notably the Manichaeans. It first appeared in what is modern day Iran around 250 and eventually spread throughout eastern Europe and Asia, reaching India and even China. At its height in the 5th century, Manichaeism had more adherents than Christianity, and it lasted into the 11th century in Europe through the religion of the Cathars and Bogomils. It (or a near cousin) appears to have still lingered in China when Marco Polo visited in the 13th century.

    By 300, most Christians were some flavor of Trinitarian, and the largest of the competing theologies was Arianism. Proposed around 280, the theology of Arius of Alexandria held that the Father had created everything, including the Son, and that therefore the Son was inferior to the Father. This prompted a fierce backlash based on the counter-argument that God was God, and that God could in no way be inferior. This marks a change in how Christians saw their religion: in earlier centuries, differences were matters of debate, of exchanged condemnations and refutations. Now, however, differences were coming to blows. Gangs of one doctrine or the other would pillage shops belonging to people seen as having the “wrong” theology; homes were burned; people beaten and killed. Quite literally, this disagreement was leaving blood in the streets, and as the theologies spread, so too did the violence.

    Thus, Emperor Constantine issued a call in 321 to every bishop in the world to convene at his palace in Nicaea in the spring of 325. The goal was to stage a winner-takes-all cage match to determine, once and for all, the true doctrines of the Christian Faith and thus restore peace to the Empire. This first Ecumenical Council ended up deciding on the “co-equal” Trinitarianism, in part because of the persuasiveness of a young priest named Athanasius (he was only 27 years old when the Council convened) and in part because adherents of what became the orthodox doctrine arranged to arrive early and start the Council before the Arians could gather forces.

    Alas, this did not bring peace, and another six Ecumenical Councils were called to refine doctrine and condemn heretics. And the Councils were not accepted by everyone. The Church of the East rejected the Third Council (Ephesus, 431) and to this day hold that the divine and human natures of the Son are distinct, without blending or union. The Oriental Orthodox Churches, a family of traditions that includes the Coptic Church and Ethiopian Orthodox Church, rejected the Fourth Council (Chalcedon, 451), and still teach that the Son has a single, fully divine nature, and not the “fully human and fully divine” dogma promulgated by the Council. A strong case could be made that these churches are more authentic than the Roman Catholic Church, as they represent earlier forms of doctrine that have resisted later theological innovation.

    While all of this was going on, Europe was seeing a massive migration of people, with cultures from eastern Europe (Goths, Vandals, Saxons, Franks, Lombards) being pushed west by other cultures (Magyars, Bulgars, Huns, Slavs) moving in from the Asian steppes. This migration completely unbalanced the Western Roman Empire resulted in Rome being pillaged by the Gauls in 390, conquered by the Visigoths in 410, by the Vandals in 455, by the Ostrogoths in 546, by… oh, you get the idea. The main power of the Empire had migrated to Constantinople by this time, leaving Rome and the entire west largely unprotected. With the remnant of imperial power destroyed, and cut off from regular contact with the Eastern Empire (now properly called the Byzantine Empire), the Patriarch (2) of Rome stepped up and began to rebuild. The Curia was created to replace the Roman Senate with the Bishop holding the role of Imperator, restoring at least the semblance of government. To some extent, this was a consolidation of power, but it was also necessary, as the army at the gates would negotiate only with the city’s king. Another protection for the people of the city was to designate it a holy city, and convert the army at the gates. If it meant eternal damnation to plunder Rome, then the army would turn its eyes elsewhere, right? Thus, the fall of Rome necessitated the ascent of the Roman Church, and the bishop/emperors began to put considerable effort into evangelizing the barbarians.

    In its isolation, the culture of the Roman Church began to change. Moving the seat of the Empire to Constantinople brought Greek into prominence as the language of government and education; in Rome, it remained Latin. In the east, innovation and education remained active, with even Christian schools teaching “natural philosophy” from the writings of Plato and Aristotle; in Rome, innovation faded into the Dark Ages, in part because so much had been destroyed by the barbarians, and in part because the Roman Church, desperate to retain unity against constant crisis, actively destroyed works deemed pagan.

    For all its efforts, “heresies” remained, even in the west. The 6th century saw a resurgence of Arianism, when the Visigoths in what is now Spain converted under the guidance of an Arian missionary. An argument emerged that the Son must be inferior to the Father because the Nicene Creed (3) said that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father, and not from the Son. Since the Father is the source of the Holy Spirit, the Son must be a lesser being. This debate raged on for centuries. It never reached major bloodshed, in large part because western Europe was still sparsely populated, but it was a large matter of contention. Eventually, a majority of Arian tribes agreed to convert to the orthodox faith if — and only if — the Creed were modified to make it clearer that the Son was equal to the Father. By the 7th century, it had become common, although unofficial, to add the Latin word filioque, “and from the son,” to show this co-equality. It would be effectively adopted by the Roman Church in 1014, and formally adopted as a point of doctrine in 1274.

    The problem was, the canons of the Second Ecumenical Council stated, quite clearly, that the Creed was finished, it could never be changed, and anyone who tried would be condemned to Hell for all eternity PLUS another eternity, praise God, amen. So needless to say, the Eastern churches took issue with this addition. As early as 650, emissaries from the Eastern bishops were bringing word of this perceived heresy in the West. Arguments and counter-arguments, condemnations and counter-condemnations, passed between the Bishops of Rome and the Eastern bishops for centuries, finally culminating in the Great Schism.

    In 1053, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, ordered that all churches within the city that followed the Latin rite be closed. Accounts as to why differ on who is telling the story: Eastern sources say it was to stem the tide of the Roman filioque heresy, while Roman sources say it was to inflame the situation and make reconciliation more difficult. In 1054, a delegation from Pope Leo IX arrived with various dispatches, including a plea for military assistance against yet another barbarian invasion, help in fighting off the last remnants of Arianism, and oh, by the way, you had better submit to Rome and stop harassing our followers because the canons of the First Ecumenical Council makes Rome the Supreme Bishop of All Christendom and you wouldn’t want to be stripped of your power and sent directly to Hell, would you?

    Michael responded by excommunicating the members of the delegation. The delegation responded by reading a statement that he has been deposed, excommunicated him and, by extension, excommunicated everyone who still recognized him as Patriarch of Constantinople. Michael responded by excommunicating the Pope and, by extension, excommunicated everyone who still recognized him as head of the Roman Church.

    From that point onward, Christian history gets rather boring.

    (1) I use the Greek terms ousia and hypostasis rather than the English “substance” and “person” because these were complex philosophical ideas back then, and philosophers of today still argue over their meaning.

    (2) In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian I began a structural reorganization of the Church. Bishops were formally given the title episkopos and set in charge of a dioskes. These were terms used in the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire for a mid-rank government official and the jurisdiction in which that official exercised his power, respectively. Bishops of larger cities were given the additional title of metropolitan, designating them as having administrative authority over bishops in nearby, more rural diocese. And five bishops — Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem — were given the title of Patriarch and authority over all the bishops within their domains. In the east, the title eventually came to be used to indicate the chief bishop of a national church such as the Russian Orthodox, the Serbian Orthodox, etc. In the west, a few patriarchates were established, but most have been abolished; the few that remain are historic and carry no extra authority or privilege. The title Patriarch of Rome has been overshadowed by the use of the Latin word Papa, “Father”, as the premier title of the head of the Roman Church.

    (3) Well, actually the Niceno–Constantinopolitan creed, as the statement of faith adopted at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 was modified at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 381.

  53. 53
    Caveat Imperator

    Gregory in Seattle,
    I wish the Molly still existed so I could nominate you for one. Lovely, highly informative post. I’ll have to save it.

  54. 54
    Menyambal

    Gregory in Seattle, that was impressive and informative. Entertaining, too. Thank you very much for posting it.

  55. 55
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I wish the Molly still existed so I could nominate you for one. Lovely, highly informative post. I’ll have to save it

    Of course, it means about as much as the Nobel Peace Prize these days, after one considers two or three of those it’s been bestowed on.

  56. 56
    chigau (違う)

    Azkyroth #55
    WTF?

  57. 57
    vaiyt

    Funny thing about the Great Schism: the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated the Patriarch of Rome and all his followers, and the Patriarch of Rome did likewise to the Patriarch of Constantinople and his followers.

    Many years later, the Avignon and Rome popes did the same thing.

  58. 58
    Dhorvath, OM

    chigau,
    You don’t think it fair? I cannot help but acknowledge that my clothes are out of date. Still I find them precious to me, they remind of brightness in dark times in my life. Sad I am that is not true of everyone.

  59. 59
    ChasCPeterson

    Azkyroth #55
    WTF?

    I’m gonna agree with Azkyroth that there were some pretty questionable Mollies bestowed. In my opinion.
    And Peace Prizes.

  60. 60
    chigau (違う)

    oh Sven

  61. 61
    Rey Fox

    Oh I quite agree. They gave me one. PZ dropped the Mollies soon after.

  62. 62
    raven

    Bruno wasn’t charged at his heresy trial with promoting heliocentrism.

    This is totally false.

    1. The trial record of Bruno was lost despite the fact that the Vatican is good at keeping records. Most likely it was destroyed.

    2. A few years ago a summary was found. It had been misfiled and found by accident by Vatican scholars. It might have been hidden by someone working in the Vatican archives.

    3. It was published on the Vatican website as a Latin photo with an English translation. I read it. Heliocentrism was mentioned as one of Bruno’s crimes.

    4. A few months later it disappeared. I haven’t checked to see if it has reappeared but doubt if it has.

    The RCC spends vast amounts of time whitewashing, hiding, and lying about its atrocities. It’s what they do. It’s what they are. They don’t need your help.

  63. 63
    raven

    wikipedia Giordano Bruno:

    The website of the Vatican Secret Archives, discussing a summary of legal proceedings against Bruno in Rome, states:

    “In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno’s heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration.”[45]

    45. ^ “Summary of the trial against Giordano Bruno: Rome, 1597″. Vatican Secret Archives. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-09-18.

    You don’t need to take my word for what happened to Bruno and why. You can read the trial summary on the Vatican website. This is the original document in Latin from that time and was misfiled and lost for centuries. It was Heliocentrism among other issues.

    If you are lucky. It was there for a few months on the Vatican web site. And then disappeared. Last time I tried to access it, there was a bland message that it wasn’t available.

    C’mon people. The crimes and atrocities of the RCC are vast and span most of 2 millennia. And we’ve all seen how they handled their child rape scandals. They lie, whitewash, and deny them all any way they can. It’s routine and you can count on the RCC lying about anything and everything. They have a lot to lie about.

  64. 64
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Oh, Rey Fox, you beat me to it. Perhaps together we’ve justified Azkyroth’s “two or three”.

  65. 65
    Nick Gotts

    vaiyt@57,

    There was also a little difficulty in the 14th century, as described by Lytton Strachey:

    And certainly the doctrine of Papal Infallibility presents to the reason a sufficiency of stumbling-blocks. In the fourteenth century, for instance, the following case arose. John XXII asserted in his bull ‘Cum inter nonnullos’ that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was heretical. Now, according to the light of reason, one of two things must follow from this—either John XXII was himself a heretic, or he was no Pope. For his predecessor, Nicholas III, had asserted in his bull ‘Exiit qui seminat’ that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was the true doctrine, the denial of which was heresy. Thus if John XXII was right, Nicholas III was a heretic, and in that case Nicholas’s nominations of Cardinals were void, and the conclave which elected John was illegal—so that John was no Pope, his nominations of Cardinals were void, and the whole Papal succession vitiated. On the other hand, if John was wrong—well, he was a heretic; and the same inconvenient results followed. And, in either case, what becomes of Papal Infallibility?

    So in fact, every Pope since then has been an imposter.

  66. 66
    Nick Gotts

    This migration completely unbalanced the Western Roman Empire resulted in Rome being pillaged by the Gauls in 390 – Gregory in Seattle@52

    Sorry to point out an error in your highly informative post, but the Gauls sacked Rome in 390 BCE! 780 years later, in 390 CE, they had long been incorporated into the empire and pretty completely Romanised.

  67. 67
    Gregory in Seattle

    @Nick Gotts #66 – Ack. Yeah, I got that wrong, sorry.

  68. 68
    randay

    @52 Gregory in Seattle, thank you for your report because I am tired of repeating much of that for the umpteenth time. However, you did leave a couple things out. Though Constantine banged heads together–there were hundreds of xian sects who disagreed–to get a unified story at Nicaea and he made that version of xianity the state religion, Arianism made a comeback and was more popular.

    It was Emperor Theodosius who tried to correct things in 381 CE and then he outlawed other religions, including xian “heretics” in 391 CE. He destroyed their temples, killed them, and worst of all closed the Greek schools which were keeping learning alive.. That was supposed to be a unified religion, but of course it didn’t turn out that way. So the so-called Catholic Church didn’t exist until the fourth century and there is no link to an alleged Jesus.

  69. 69
    raven

    http:/ /web. archive. org/web/20100609095413/http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1597.htm

    In one of the last interrogations before the execution of the sentence (maybe in April 1599),

    the Dominican friar was questioned by the judges of the Holy Office on his cosmogony conception,

    supported above all in the “La cena delle Ceneri”(Ash-Wednesday Dinner) and in the “De l’infinito universo et mundi”. Even then, he defended his theories as scientifically founded and by no means against the Holy Scriptures (left side, from the first line: Circa motum terrae, f. 287, sic dicit: Prima generalmente dico ch’il moo et la cosa del moto della terra e della immobilità del firmamento o cielo sono da me prodotte con le sue raggioni et autorità le quali sono certe, e non pregiudicano all’autorità della divina scrittura [...]. Quanto al sole dico che niente manco nasce e tramonta, né lo vedemo nascere e tramontare, perché la terra se gira circa il proprio centro, che s’intenda nascere e tramontare [... ]). (Circa motum terrae, f. 287, sic dicit: Firstly, I say that the theories on the movement of the earth and on the immobility of the firmament or sky are by me produced on a reasoned and sure basis, which doesn’t undermine the authority of the Holy Sciptures […]. With regard to the sun, I say that it doesn’t rise or set, nor do we see it rise or set, because, if the earth rotates on his axis, what do we mean by rising and setting[…]).

    This is a web archive screen shot of a Vatican web site. Which contains some info about Giordano Bruno’s trial summary.

    This isn’t what I saw on the Vatican website years ago. It was a good photo upload of the original document in Latin and a complete English translation. Whether it has reappeared or not, who knows? I once wasted an hour trying to find it and got nowhere and don’t care to repeat that experience. It might have gone down the RCC Memory Hole, might not have.

  70. 70
    Gregory in Seattle

    @randay #68 – Constantine did NOT make Christianity the state religion: that is totally false.

    Earlier emperors issued policies of persecution against Christians, on the grounds that they failed to participate in the ceremonial deism of the day. Such policies were rarely enforced, and even more rarely carried: while some people were martyred for their faith, the stories of horrific torture and widespread executions are nothing more than stories.

    When Constantine began his ascent to power, the Empire was ruled by a Tetrarchy: the Empire was divided into an eastern and western part, and each part was ruled co-ruled by a senior emperor with the title Augustus and a junior emperor with the title Caesar. Constantine became the Augustus of the West in 313, and went to Milan to meet with the Augustus of the East, Licinius. Jointly, they issued what became known as the Edict of Milan, which formally ended the policy of persecution against Christians in both halves of the Empire. The Tetrarchy, never very firm, began to crumble badly, and by 324, Constantine had emerged from civil war as the sole ruler of a reunified empire. One of his first orders of business was to settle the question of “What is Christianity” and end the sectarian violence. (Yeah, that was another mistake I made in the essay above: the Nicene Council was called right after he became sole emperor, not earlier.)

    Constantine did not favor Christianity over other religions, he simply treated it as just another faith in the myriad of faiths in the Empire. Yes, he called the Council of Nicaea; he also exercised the imperial office of Pontifex Maximus and served as high priest of the Roman state religion. Yes, he allowed churches to be built and donated funds for their construction; he did the same with temples to other gods, including several temples to Mithras. There is no evidence at all that Constantine gave Christians preferential treatment, shaped its doctrines or practices, or otherwise had any particular relationship with the religion: the stories claiming otherwise all appear centuries after his death.

  71. 71
    Gregory in Seattle

    @randay #66 – Meant to add….

    The origin point of the Roman Catholic Church is very difficult to pin down. A strong case can be made that it began in the mid 5th century as the Bishop of Rome was working to restore order to the ravaged city. An equally strong case can be made that it began in the 11th century, when the Great Schism separated the Roman Church from the Eastern. Most historians, though, will say that the Catholic Church appeared gradually, over centuries, as the Roman Church evolved separately from the Eastern churches. At what point does one species of bird become a different species?

  72. 72
    gussnarp

    He was tried and convicted of heresies such as denying the transformation of the host to the body of Jesus, denying the virginity of Mary and denying the divinity of Jesus. It’s a fairly modern myth that Bruno was executed for supporting Copernican heliocentrism. He did support it but the Inquisition didn’t care about that.

    You know the inquisition is well known for having forced false confessions out of people, inventing charges, and laying them on thick and heavy, right? This certainly sounds like the kind of list one might get from an Inquisitorial conviction, but the real crime might have been pissing in the Bishop’s Wheaties, or say, promoting a scientific view of reality.

  73. 73
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Azkyroth #55
    WTF?

    I was mainly thinking of that guy who turned into an MRA kook….

  74. 74
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    (Though I remember a couple people who were apparently Popular but couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag, in my experience. And others who didn’t turn into MRA kooks exactly but similarly demonstrated themselves to be sufficiently horrible human beings that it should have been withheld on principle even if they met the nominal requirements. I’m not sure what it means that only Chaz agrees with me though >.>)

  75. 75
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Azkyroth:

    No, I agree with you as well. If I engaged in self-deprecating humor, it doesn’t mean that I don’t agree that there was an occasional bad Molly decision.

    I just don’t tend to remember the names of people engaged in jerk wad behavior on the internet. There’s too many. I’d rather remember my friends. So no specific examples came to mind when I thought about your comment, but I remember the emotional experience of surprise when realizing someone I didn’t respect had a Molly. So I’m sure I agree with you, but I couldn’t name names or find a comment to justify my opinion, and didn’t want to generally bad mouth people or make people with a Molly wonder if they are the person that I didn’t respect.

  76. 76
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Fair enough.

  77. 77
    ChasCPeterson

    oh c’mon. admit it.

  78. 78
    Dhorvath, OM

    Azkyroth,

    I’m not sure what it means that only Chaz agrees with me though

    I suppose that’s my inherent obtuseness coming out to play, as I also agree and entered the discussion in kind with my feelings above. What was that bit about paper bags? Sigh.
    So, to be clear, I don’t hold onto my OM because I think it means anything to other people. Given that it is out of date, the process was unreliable, and the group extended from people who I sought out to those I avoided it would be silly for me to suggest it means anything useful to other people. I like it, it’s my shiny internet toy, so I have continued to wear it. That people wore it who I generally avoided isn’t the point, at least not for me, but it is unescapable that there were surprises for me in those who share the title.

  79. 79
    Azuma Hazuki

    What I must wonder through all this church history is…where is/was Jesus? Why did those people assume he would give one single good himself-or-maybe-just-his-dad-damn about all the stupid power squabbles? Scribes and Pharisees, the lot of ‘em…if someone wants to make one case for “dual fulfillment,” this is it.

    Gregory, I drank in your posts like clean, cold water in a scorching desert of ignorance. They are very welcome on here, and if PZ would let you do a big guest post I’d read it too. Can you comment on the claim of succession from Peter, and whether the idea of a Petrine origin has any teeth? I’d heard not but am not sure.

  80. 80
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Late to the party; but seconding Moggie @#23 re. Gregory in Seattle’s potential guest post. I, for one, would be interested in such a history lesson.

  81. 81
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    *more of a history lesson. More, goddamnit!

    … One day, I’ll read the whole thread before posting. One day.

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