“All Religions Are Made Up (Except Mine)!”

Yes, the Catholic Church is absurd,
And its story the daftest I’ve heard
A tale hard to swallow,
Not easy to follow—
Of course, I believe every word.

Now, it’s not that I’m simply naïve
But a worse church, I cannot conceive
The incompetence, sin,
And corruption within,
Are the reasons I choose to believe!

See, the story that’s clearly the worst,
In the world, is most widely dispersed
Which would surely be odd—
So it’s evidence, God
Must have chosen the Catholics first

My conclusion must not be debated
Though religions are somewhat related
Mine alone must be real,
While the others, I feel
Are just something that mankind created.

They are quite simply far too believable
And their aims, while mundane, are achievable
Mine alone are insane—
Why, they boggle the brain!—
It’s the Truth cos it’s all inconceivable!

So, yeah, on my aggregator a post pops up, from the Catholic channel at Patheos, which actually made me laugh. It begins with a bit of special pleading:

The other day I tweeted a wisecrack: “If a Protestant says religion is just a man made institution, agree with him. His religion is a man made institution. The tweet elicited a reply from an atheist saying, “All religions are man made. Otherwise, why are there so many of them?”
It raises a good question. To answer it we first have to distinguish between the phenomenon of religion as it exists across the span of human history–and particular religions and then individual denominations. Are they all man made?

Turns out, the author argues, that pretty much all religions appear man-made. We seem to have a natural tendency to believe–from animism to polytheism to monotheism… But then, Christianity adds (uniquely, the author claims) Special Revelation–not just natural revelation, the evidence of gods found in the natural world, but Special Revelation, where God Himself reveals Himself. (Biology, chemistry, and physics can render natural revelation obsolete; it takes psychology to call Special Revelation into question. How one distinguishes Special Revelation from hallucination and delusion is never quite specified.)

What shall we do then, about the different Christian denominations? The fact of the matter is that none of them claim to be part of God’s revelation. My quip about the Protestants is correct, and they would agree. The individual churches are man made institutions. There is only one church that claims otherwise: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church–comprised of both Eastern Orthodoxy, the Eastern Rite Churches and all other groups in full communion with the successor of Peter.

Here is the astounding claim of the Catholic Church: that we really do believe not only that God has revealed himself within the history of the Jewish people, and that this revelation culminates in the person of Jesus Christ, but we also believe that Jesus Christ founded a church on the rock that is Peter, and that he handed to Peter his own authority to teach the truth, forgive sins and take authority over evil. Furthermore, that this authority lives in the church today and that Peter’s successor is called Francis and that he lives just a few hundred yards from the site of Peter’s death and burial two thousand years ago.

Did we make it up? I contend that the claim is too audacious to have been made up. If I were going to make up a religion I would devise one that was easier to swallow. Nevertheless, the audacious claim is supported by history and by the existence and strength today of the Catholic Church. When you really know the Catholic Church and the human incompetence, sin, corruption and weakness within her you must conclude with many observers that she must be inspired and upheld by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nothing else can explain her continued existence.

Sorry for the lengthy quote, but you needed the full flavor of the argument. It’s a dusty old argument, sometimes phrased in Latin, certum est, quia impossibile (I turned it into a campfire song, here). It’s a wonderful defense mechanism–the more absurd it is, the more you know it is true. Pedophile priests are, absurdly, part of what convinces the author that Catholicism is the one true religion.

Why, to deny it would be absurd!

So absurd, it must be true.


  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    All through Catholic school, the teachers kept telling me about Jesus continually revealing himself. I thought, “Oh, just like that creepy guy in the park.”

  2. Snoof says

    The fact of the matter is that none of them claim to be part of God’s revelation.

    Except for all the ones that do, like the Mormons, and various Evangelical churches, and all the TV preachers who claim God has spoken to them…

  3. Cuttlefish says

    I have to wonder–with a Jim Jones or a Charles Manson who has God revealing His wishes directly to them… Is that more absurd than Catholicism (and thus more likely to be true), or is this guy willing to accept that the Catholic Church makes Manson or Jones look sane?

  4. naturalcynic says

    The absurdity of the resurrection stories in the Canonical Gospels were given to me as proof that the resurrection actually occurred. Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, or another woman or to more than one women. According to Hebrew Law, women would be unreliable [or less reliable] witnesses. So, through double back-flip logic, this makes the story more certain.

  5. Randomfactor says

    So…the sillier a religion sounds, the more likely it is to be true? Because Catholicism, in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, “never got weird enough for me.” Needs more flying noodle products. And definitely a beer volcano or two.

  6. N. Nescio says

    Oh, what a surprise — comments on that blog are heavily moderated. I get the feeling mine will go the same place as the Trinity.

  7. rikitiki says

    Yes, Jesus is just quite the mystery
    Regardless of him lacking history
    His own virgin birth
    Crowns him worthy of worth
    ‘cos it couldn’t all simply be blustery

  8. Dan McGrew says

    So Mormonism and Scientology are too darn plausible to be real religions then? Interesting.

    I can picture it now – when god made catholicism he said to himself ‘This is so crazy it just might work!’.

    And yeah, the idea that pedophile priests is one way to know that it’s the ‘true church’ is revolting. But it’s nice to know that pedophilia in the priesthood isn’t the fault of liberals after all.

  9. says

    Did this guy just stealth burn the Catholic Church? I mean, he’s basically saying that there’s no way such an incompetent collection of assholes could still exist if an all powerful deity weren’t keeping them afloat. Hm. Might have a point.

  10. says

    Well, my comment there has also not made it past moderation at the time of posting this. I am amused, however, by the person bemoaning the fact that the Catholic Church now has an ‘overemphasis on … social justice’.

    Really, is the church not doing enough to oppose the rights of women and of sexual minorities? Not doing enough to perpetuate poverty? Not doing enough to promote the spread of AIDS etc?

  11. grumpyoldfart says

    The Catholic blogger is a rank amateur compared to the the early church father Tertullian:

    “And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.
    And He was buried and rose again; the fact is certain because it is impossible.”
    (De Carne Cristi)

  12. Cuttlefish says

    Indeed, grumpy, that is the source of the certum est… bit. The blogger should have cited!

  13. Johnny Vector says

    Ah yes, the “It’s so horrible only God could have don that” argument. I could make the same argument about the wiring in my basement (before I fixed it):

    What I know about fire prevention
    Proves my house has my god’s close attention.
    Only reason I’ve found,
    It ain’t burned to the ground
    Is great chunks of divine intervention.

  14. pofarmer says

    “Did we make it up? I contend that the claim is too audacious to have been made up. If I were going to make up a religion I would devise one that was easier to swallow. Nevertheless, the audacious claim is supported by history and by the existence and strength today of the Catholic Church.”

    The thing is, the claims aren’t any more audacious or absurd than dozens of other claims circulating at the same time. The Roman Catholics didn’t really get rolling till Constantine converted and started killing and/or converting everybody that didn’t agree with them. I think that it has survived to this day mainly by momentum and the intellectual laziness of the participants. I find priests routinely claiming “miracles” that have been thoroughly debunked. I find adherents that are woefully uneducated on anything that appears to be actual history of the Church.

  15. Funny Diva says

    Thank you for the pointer back to “Certum est, Quia impossibile”
    Now I’ll have “tit willow” running through my head all day…
    But other than that it really is a great campfire song—maybe for Camp Quest…

  16. Mark9909 says

    All the world has argued over that which we cannot know while we are alive and may not know when we die. I’ve read many articles on the existence of the Christian God or any gods recorded to date. Neither side ever wins arguments of existence or non-existence. I think that people need to give up trying to figure this out for the main reason that it is unknowable. We are small creatures with limited senses. Our brains are subject to imagination and fear, brainwashing and deep thinking that ends up in contradiction (i.e. Can God create a rock so heavy even it cannot lift it?). The most intelligent man will admit he just doesn’t know and accept that fact. Why do we argue over that which no one can ever prove? The truth is we don’t know and may never know.

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