Bring Ratzinger Back

It is official. I miss the old Pope, and I want him back.

That may seem like an odd statement coming from a liberal SJW atheist. I mean, we all know that this new Pope is miles more liberal than the old one, right? Sure, we’d all rather there be no Vatican at all, but given the situation, better a liberal Pope than one firmly stuck in the dark ages, right?

Well, I thought that at first, but now I think I’ll take Ratzinger over this new guy any day.

Regular readers will know of the way that the Vatican is trying to evict elderly people and families out of their homes in an attempt to make even more money on their tens of thousands of tax free, private properties in Italy, my own Grandmother included. It was during this personal struggle in my family that I finally realized how much harder all of our battles against the institution of the Vatican has become, and how much better it was to have that old fart who looked like evil incarnate in charge.

Pope Francis has been a marketing genius, there is no mistaking that. He hired a Fox News correspondent to head his PR campaign, who also happens to be a member of the extreme Catholic sect Opus Dei, something in direct contrast to his liberal media persona to begin with. But Greg Burke has been earning his paycheck and then some, and the whole world is enthralled.

But when it comes right down to it, what has really changed with this new Pope in charge? Other than washing a few feet of some Syrian refugees, and kissing a few terminally ill children?

The fact is, the giant eviction of the elderly in Rome, which begun under Ratzinger, is still going on.

The sheltering of pedophile priests and cardinals so that they do not have to face their accusers, is still going on.

Outside of the media spotlight, he is even ramping up the extreme faction of the Catholic church, like increasing the number and legitimizing exorcists and exorcisms, agreeing that there is an international crisis in dire need of such nonsense.

But when you try to point this out to people?

I see people like my Mother, or my friends. I am an atheist, and so I’m just being confrontational, when I criticize the new Pope. He’s wonderful, he’s doing his best to combat the corruption in the Vatican, they tell me. Surely he doesn’t personally know that the archbishop, that he appointed and brought with him from Argentina, is personally making regular harassing visits to my Grandmother, trying to convince her to clear out so that they can make more rent on her apartment. If he knew, he’d put a stop to it! No, I’m just being annoying, I wouldn’t like any Pope, let’s just let this guy do his job, he’s wonderful, did you see that picture of him kissing the dirty feet of that Muslim guy?

This is why I want Ratzinger back. Nobody liked that douchebag. Catholic attendance was plummeting across the world, it was becoming old-fashioned and lame, the picture of corruption, and Ratzinger was the ugly jewel bedecked face of it all. He was honest about being a nasty bastard, and he was a common enemy that atheists and Catholic sympathizers alike could fight.

But Pope Francis? Catholic attendance is back up, despite the fact that the Vatican is not cleaning up their act in any real way. And when sexual abusers are sheltered, it must be a fluke, or Pope Francis had to make a small concession to the other cardinals for the greater good. When they evict people from their homes to make even more cash than they already make, it’s just an oversight, and he’ll put a stop to it all once we write him enough letters and make him aware of the problem. There is nothing to see here, no real problem that is not on its merry way to being fixed.

I’m sick of it. I’m sick of watching the wool being pulled over everyone’s eyes, and no one standing up to fight for transparency, and for what is right. I’m sick of this complacency that his perfect PR image is causing, that no one can dare criticize what is going on less it goes against the angelic narrative that everyone has bought into.

Bring back Ratzinger. He may have been a crafty old SOB, but at least he was bringing the trend of Catholic attendance, Vatican support and confidence in the right direction: straight down the toilet.

Thoughts On: Textbook Atheism

Apologies again for my prolonged absence. I really need to learn how to budget my time better, especially when I am in the damned weeds at work as I am now. Despite my losing track of time in my endless nights of working, there have been some things that I have been pondering as topics of discussion to put out here.

One of the topics that I have been musing over for the past week is the ever ongoing discussion about what is often referred to as “textbook atheism”. What I mean by that term is when atheists use the textbook, or dictionary definition of atheism to describe themselves. An atheist is a person that does not believe in one or more gods. That’s it, that’s all, and there is nothing else that is associated or implied with the term.

Many people on this network, most famously being probably PZ, have railed against the so-called “textbook atheists”. Generally speaking, the argument (to my understanding) is that a rejection of a deity and/or organized religion brings with it certain implications. For example, not believing that a divine creator made certain humans stronger, smarter or more powerful than certain other humans implies a rejection of racism and sexism. Not believing in a creator without evidence implies not believing in other things without evidence either, whether it be silly evolutionary “explanations” as to the biological superiority of one race over the other, or general woo. Unfortunately, as we all know, there are plenty of atheists out there who reject this principle, simply wailing “look at the dictionary dummy! Atheist just means I don’t believe in god! It doesn’t mean I have to be no stinking feminist!”

Overall I agree that, philosophically speaking, it makes sense that a rejection of religion is the first step along a path that leads you to a humanist and rationalist perspective, and I have also been disgusted and frustrated with the racist sexist atheist faction that invades the internet. However, in my life I have found myself, on more than one occasion, blurting out the “textbook atheist” line in defining myself.

Oh dear. Am I a textbook atheist? Where does this internal discord come from?

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It’s An Emergency, Apparently

I remember reading a story a few years back about the old boys at the Vatican getting their skirts in a bunch over Harry Potter and Twilight. One self-proclaimed exorcist for the Vatican went to the media and ranted about the corruption of our youth. The only thing I got out of the kerfuffle was HA! The Vatican still has exorcists?!

Nooo, I was assured by my Catholic colleagues and friends. This guy is fringe, he’s silly, but the Vatican doesn’t actually still employ exorcists, like, to do exorcisms! It’s something that is dying out, he’s probably the last official “exorcist” on the payroll. And now that I’m told that this new Pope is so liberal and carefree, there wont be a single exorcist left, amirite?

Well, then I came across this story, and I laughed so hard I had to make sure it wasn’t published by the Onion.

Exorcists are in urgent demand as a result of a sharp rise in people dabbling in Satanism and the occult,  experts from the Catholic Church in Italy and the US said.

Well, at least they seem to agree on both sides of the pond! Let’s continue.

Valter Cascioli, a psychologist and scientific consultant to the International Association of Exorcists, which is endorsed by the Vatican, described as an “emergency” the lack of priests capable of fighting the forces of evil. 

“The lack of exorcists is a real emergency. There is a pastoral emergency as a result of a significant increase in the number of diabolical possessions that exorcist priests are confronting,” he told La Stampa newspaper. 

Guys, there is an International Association of Exorcists. I can’t even. I wonder if they have a website?

Dr Cascioli teaches courses in exorcism at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum, a Vatican-backed university in Rome. “The number of exorcists has increased in recent years, but there are still not enough to deal with a dramatic situation that affects, above all, young people who use the internet a lot.

Well, website or not, you can take University courses in exorcism! How fun is that?

The fact of the matter is, exorcists are far from being a dying breed in the Catholic Church. The International Association of Exorcists apparently sports over 250 members in 30 countries, and not only was it approved by the Vatican, Pope Francis himself has been credited with a rise in membership and demand, and has personally praised them for combating the Devil’s works.

Remind me again how this Pope is liberal, evolved and not bogged down in the old-fashioned again? Looks like his PR man, former Fox News correspondent, is earning his paycheck nicely, as that remains his reputation thus far.

But before I wrap this up, I’d like to leave you with a few more parting words from our dear Exorcist in Chief, Valter Cascioli.

Whereas belief in Satan was common among Christians centuries ago, fewer people now believe in the concept of outright evil.

That was the Devil’s sly intention – to fool people into believing that he does not really exist, said Dr Cascioli.

“His trickery is to make us believe that he does not exist. But the point is the same – to deaden people’s faith.”

The risks of dabbling with the dark arts were often underestimated, he said.

“People whose faith is lukewarm don’t pay enough attention to demonic activity, and the temptation to engage in it.”

Well, the expression isn’t “that sly Devil” for nothing!

Seriously though, don’t believe the hype around Pope Francis. Just because his predecessor looked like, and had the reputation of a Sith Lord, that doesn’t mean that the current Pope is any less superstitious, or any less keen to promote ignorance.

It just means that he did a much better job at hiring people who know PR.

 

Should You Get Unbaptized?

Ever since I met someone whose father was unbaptized, and thus discovered it was a thing, I’ve been toying with the idea. The difficulties of the process and the pros and cons of the decision will vary greatly between the different religions. In my case, it would be getting unbaptized from the Catholic Church*, and so I started doing a little research into how this is done, and why there is an ever growing number of Italians who are doing it.

Of course it is not necessary to be unbaptized to be an atheist. If you don’t believe that baptism is anything other than a few silly words, a splash of water and a party, no piece of paper will undo one of many meaningless experiences in your life. Rather, the reasons for taking the extra step towards unbaptizing yourself are more about a present distancing from the Catholic Church.

 

*For many religions, unbaptism is not necessary, because your membership to the organization is not based on your baptism, but rather is based on your attendance.

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What If You’re Wrong?

Note: old post, essentially my take on the “what if you’re wrong”? question many of us get from religious people.

If, like myself, you make no apologies for your atheism and are quite open, if not eager to discuss it with others, you will have definitely heard this question from the religously affiliated at least once in your life. It came to me over the weekend, and I could not have been more delighted. Why? Well, I had had a couple of beers and I was pleased to get such an easy one to respond to.

This question, at least in my experience, almost always comes from a genuinely nice and engaging religious person, and frequently from Christians. The Bible-bashing crowd tend to go for either the angry “you’re going to Hell! Repent!” or the even more annoying condescending “I feel so bad for you, you’re so brainwashed, you poor soul”. Because of the uncharacteristic friendliness and openness to discussion from this other breed, some atheists can be slightly taken aback from this seemingly innocuous question, and instead of responding logically simply revert to a “well let’s just agree to disagree shall we? You’re nice, I don’t want to be insulting and tell you I know you’re full of shit, cause I get very annoyed at the bible-bashers who do the same to me”. I am not advocating for getting arrogant or condescending with your questioner, but I feel that there is a perfectly civil and rational way to respond nonetheless.

The question essentially bolis down to this: What if you are wrong about your beliefs? If you’re right and there is no heaven or hell then nothing bad happens to me when I die, I just cease to exist. But if I’m right and you’re wrong, you miss out on heaven and have to spend the rest of eternity in torment and hellfire. I have nothing to lose, but you have heaven to lose.

There are two aspects of this question that make it a poorly thought out question. The first part is the one that we have seen from Bill Maher in Religulous, for example. It can be viewed as a slight deflection of the question, but it makes a valid point nonetheless. The gist of it is that fear of a God and hell is not a good reason to become a Christian. Plus, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, wouldn’t he be able to call your bluff? Wouldn’t he know that I think you’re religion is stupid and that I’m only joining just in case he exists, without truly believing that he does? If I think it’s silly it’s just silly, joining your church wont save my soul.

A good point, true, but missing the central core of the problem with this question.  Richard Dawkins did adress this second part somewhat, although the heated way in which he responded and the words he chose made some people miss the point he was making.He mentions that the only reason said person believed what they did was because of the time in history and geographical location they were born in, and that is true, but he hits the nail on the head when he turns it around and says: what if you’re wrong?

The central fallacy that this question is based on is the idea that there are only two possibilities to chose from: the religion that the person happens to believe in, or atheism. If that were the case then yes, they’d have a slightly better point to make with this question. However, that is obviously not the case. There are thousands of denominations of Christianity alone, never mind all the other religions out there, and many of them believe that their religion is the one true religion and that everyone else is going to hell for being mislead and worshipping in the wrong church. What if you picked the wrong denomination? You’d be on a fast train to hell same as I am, except at least I would have enjoyed my life in the process. Worse, you probably have converted others to your faith, and therefore are responsible for their souls eternal torment as well. So, what if you’re wrong?

This is generally followed by a split second of wide-eyedness, then a condescending smile, then something along the lines of “well, I don’t really believe that only my specific church is going to heaven. If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you lead a good and honest Christian life, then it really doesn’t matter what specific denomination of Christianity you adhere to.

And this is where you press your advantage, not shrug your shoulders and agree to disagree. It doesn’t matter what you believe, what matters is that there are many denominations that do believe that their version is the only true version and that everyone else is going to hell, regardless of whether or not they are just “a different kind of Christian”, Muslim or Atheists. So, what if you’re wrong? If you’re right, and you all get in to heaven, then great, everybody wins. But if you’re wrong you go to hell and the Mormons/Westboro Baptists/whomever was lucky enough to get it right will be laughing at your burning tortured soul from heaven. So what is stopping you from joining a much more extreme version of Christianity? I mean, you have nothing to lose right? What if they’re right and gay bashing and abortion-clinic protesting and evolution-denying is the only way to get your ticket into heaven?

Is it perhaps because you think they can’t be right, because their version of religion is a little ridiculous? Is it because you think they have been brainwashed at a young age? Is it because you just like your version better? Since when does what is real and what is true depend on what we like or want to be true? I would want and like a world with no wars, torture or rape, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that none of those things exist because that is what I would like reality to be. Is it that you think that if these people just reasoned with themselves, really thought about what they were saying, then maybe they would fall into your category of Christianity?

So, when is the last time you applied the same logic and reasoning to your own beliefs?

Is That The Best You Got?

I admit it, I went on a little troll through the internet for material today. I’m in a weird mood, having very few discussions with people in my life, so I needed some ideas. Hey, Kent Hovind got out of prison last year right? He was always good for some science butchery, so what has he been up to lately?

While his blog seems to have gone defunct, he always did prefer youtube, didn’t he? I opened his page, and there it was, Kent Hovind: An Atheists Worst Nightmare (OFFICIAL TRAILER)

Dun dun dunnnn! OK Kent, let’s see what you got.

 

Really? Is… is that it? That was so anticlimactic I’m actually disappointed. The flashes of Nazi and genocide imagery is really not making you any scarier, either.

Hun, you’re talking to an atheist, who also happens to be a lucid dreamer and one who can feel physical pain in her dreams. Worst nightmare? You can’t even scrape the top 100 with this bollocks.

I need suggestions. Some material with actual meat on its bones for me to tear into. Biology-related always a plus! Because this was just… pathetic.

Tough Questions: Will You Lie To Your Kids?

Note: I wrote about this before, but it has been heavily rewritten as I have thought about it further

The easy answer is no. While I do not have children at the moment, it is a distinct possibility in the future, and I have always thought that I want to be completely honest with my kids, if I ever have any.

I don’t think that this is a tough question when it comes to teenagers. I remember how my mother never told me anything about herself and her teenage years, and this created distance and mistrust between us. However, when it comes to small children, there are two lies that I was told as a child which I find myself wanting to perpetuate: Santa, and heaven.

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