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 Has the Catholic Church been a force for good?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2009 :  10:52:18  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Catholic Church humiliated by Fry and Hitchens in an historic London debate

Ö One highlight included the lovely hostess Zeinab Badawi asking the Archbishop if Jesus actually said anything about homosexuality, and him replying ďthatís not the point.Ē

Another was Fryís noting that the Church is obsessed with sex. He makes the comparison with food, exclaiming that only two kinds of people are obsessed with food: the anorexic and the obese. In a religious context this boiled down either to celibacy or child abuse.

And to see Stephen Fry finally speak his mind on the topic of religion was a pure delight.

But the masterstroke, the coup de grace, came from Christopher Hitchens, whose breadth and depth of knowledge meant that the debate was no longer a mere discussion, but a devastating prosecution of the Catholic Church for crimes against humanity.

Within minutes of Hitchensí opening, the full realisation of the evils of the Church became apparent to all but the most obstinate of believers. The institutionalised rape and torture of children; the teaching that condoms can cause AIDS; the historical atrocities; the endorsement of dictators; the justification of slavery; the subjugation of women; the suppression of enlightenment thinking; the torture and murder of heretic scientists and the bullying and hatred of homosexuals, were but a few of the issues covered. Hitchens suggested that the Archbishop should not have come here to debate, but to beg for forgiveness on behalf of his wicked organisationÖ


What follows is an interview the Hitchens by Peter Brietbart, 21, a contributor to the the freethinker.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2009 :  11:22:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Has the Catholic Church been a force for Good?

Yes, as a pungee stick is a force for the benefit of the microbes that infest it.

Religions are parasitic and the Catholic Church is no exception. They live upon what they can extort from their believers and what they can acquire from conquest. Thus it has always been and thus it shall remain until the last holy man is hanged with the slimy intestines of the last suck-up politician. I'm rather surprised you had to ask the question....

I read about the Hitchens/Fry debate the other day and wish I could have attended.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

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and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 10/23/2009 11:23:57
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AnthroGeek
New Member

USA
38 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2009 :  14:55:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send AnthroGeek a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I didn't see a link to a transcript of the debate. Is there one available?

I am sure a video of the debate will be posted up somewhere soon enough, but I would I wouldn't mind giving a read first.

A series of fun one-liners about various pseudoscientific claims and, even better, a concise description of the scientific method - Ken Feder on Skeptic Friends Network from "Frauds, Myths and Mysteries"
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2009 :  15:26:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by AnthroGeek

I didn't see a link to a transcript of the debate. Is there one available?

I am sure a video of the debate will be posted up somewhere soon enough, but I would I wouldn't mind giving a read first.

You're right. My guess is that when one becomes available, I will hear about it on facebook, or here. I'll look around though.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/23/2009 :  15:42:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, it looks like when the transcript and video make it to online, they will be posted over here first.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  14:23:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been thinking about this snippet from the interview with Hitchens for over a day now:
PB: How would you respond to the religious apologists who would say that the majority of religious activity is benign in nature?
CH: Well, I have a standard reply, I hope you donít mind. Iíve evolved it over a lot of debates, and put it to a lot of religious believers and spokesmen, and Iíve never yet had a reply: Name for me a moral action or a moral statement ever made or committed or uttered by a believer, that a non-believer couldnít have made.
No-oneís ever come up with one. Name for me now a wicked thing done or an evil thing said because of their religion Ė youíve already thought of one.
Thereís wickedness in print and in action, directly so with religion. Goodness can be found in the giving of yourself to other fellow creatures. And for itís own sake, I should add, not so youíll spread the word, sign up more people so you can keep on saying your number is a billion. Thatís not a good motive for charity. So, although itís a question one has to ask, I think it is a fatuous question.
When I first read it, I found Hitchens very persuasive. But his challenge to "Name a moral action or a moral statement ever made or committed or uttered by a believer, that a non-believer couldnít have made" kept nagging at the back of my mind. The statement that theists often use that kept popping into my head was "We're all God's children." I have most often heard that phrase used in opposition to things such as racial or ethnic discrimination. It is frequently used as a call to treat all people with a base amount of dignity and compassion simply because they are people.

Now, as a humanist, I totally share this ethic - that is, I put a certain base value on all people simply because they are people. So I guess Hitchens could say that the secular version of the theistic statement might be something like: "We're all nature's children." or "We're all part of the human family." But are they the same thing as the theistic statement?

There have been millions of people who involved themselves in quite practical, humanitarian good works (like trying to end slavery and human trafficking) who did so because they were inspired by their relationship with what they conceive as a benevolent and loving Creator. Sure, they have worked side by side with secular humanists who were just as powerfully inspired by secular values, but just because the result is the same doesn't meant he motivation is the same.

Yes, many horrible things which have been done, also inspired by religious belief, such as flying planes into the world trade center, torturing women and children, murders, suicides, etc. But I can't help but notice the circumstances behind all this violence and feel convinced that if belief in the supernatural were absent from the situation, but all other factors remained the same that the same kind of violence would occur. Those who use religion to gain and maintain power would just utilize secular concepts such as "honor" and "nationalism" for their purposes. And it would be primarily the poor, desperate, and poorly educated to sacrifice themselves believing it to be noble.

I like this quote from Ben Franklin which is appropriate here: "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  14:36:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
marfknox said:
When I first read it, I found Hitchens very persuasive. But his challenge to "Name a moral action or a moral statement ever made or committed or uttered by a believer, that a non-believer couldnít have made" kept nagging at the back of my mind. The statement that theists often use that kept popping into my head was "We're all God's children." I have most often heard that phrase used in opposition to things such as racial or ethnic discrimination. It is frequently used as a call to treat all people with a base amount of dignity and compassion simply because they are people.

Now, as a humanist, I totally share this ethic - that is, I put a certain base value on all people simply because they are people. So I guess Hitchens could say that the secular version of the theistic statement might be something like: "We're all nature's children." or "We're all part of the human family." But are they the same thing as the theistic statement?

The moral statements are identical. Hitchens isn't talking about motivations or rationalizations for moral statements, he is talking about moral statements.

Better luck next time.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  15:51:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, I agree, it's essentially the same statement.

"We are all God's children" must be parsed to remove the nonsense word: "We are all God's children." Clearly the meaning of "We are all children" is not the we're juvenile, but that we're closely related. Humans share both a biological and cultural kinship.

Humanists, atheists, nearly anyone can say that with a straight face, and mean it.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  16:57:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
He mentioned statements and actions. And since religious people are not any more or less physical capable of certain actions than secular people, I assumed motivations were an important part of the equation.

If motivations are not part of the equation, then I don't think Hitchens is making any kind of significant point with this challenge. Especially seeing as I can think up secular moral statements and actions which are just as wicked as any wicked religious moral statements or actions. Oftentimes, many people are drawn to commit harm toward others. They will always find reasons to justify such harm, religious or not.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  17:09:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mooner wrote:
Yes, I agree, it's essentially the same statement.

"We are all God's children" must be parsed to remove the nonsense word: "We are all God's children." Clearly the meaning of "We are all children" is not the we're juvenile, but that we're closely related. Humans share both a biological and cultural kinship.

Humanists, atheists, nearly anyone can say that with a straight face, and mean it.
Oh, you want to play this game? Okay, let's take a religious "wicked" statement: "Kill the infidel (person who doesn't share my faith in God.)" Since the stuff the religious person has faith in is nonsense, we can say this can also mean "Kill the person who doesn't share my worldview." And certainly there have been plenty of secular people willing to kill those who think differently from them. It is, as you say, "essentially the same statement."

If you want to get into plain rationalism, the concepts of "moral" and "wicked" are subjective in the first place. If I'm in a position of power and I only value certain people and place zero value on others, then I am morally justified in fucking over whoever I want in order to benefit myself and the people I value. If that is my moral code (and we all know this and similar secular, moral codes are indeed adopted by many people) there is nothing higher than my own authority that you or any other naturalist can point to to tell me that I'm wrong. The reality is that if someone has power and lacks a sense of general love for all of humankind, they can and will fuck people over. The only difference between religious people who fuck over others and secular people who fuck over others is the reasons they tell themselves are behind their actions.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  18:58:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

He mentioned statements and actions. And since religious people are not any more or less physical capable of certain actions than secular people, I assumed motivations were an important part of the equation.

If motivations are not part of the equation, then I don't think Hitchens is making any kind of significant point with this challenge. Especially seeing as I can think up secular moral statements and actions which are just as wicked as any wicked religious moral statements or actions. Oftentimes, many people are drawn to commit harm toward others. They will always find reasons to justify such harm, religious or not.

Ummm, that is his point. Religion adds nothing.

Religion is not required for any moral statement.

I'm not sure you are comprehending what Hitchens is saying.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/24/2009 :  20:35:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

There have been millions of people who involved themselves in quite practical, humanitarian good works (like trying to end slavery and human trafficking) who did so because they were inspired by their relationship with what they conceive as a benevolent and loving Creator.
No, they say they did so because they were inspired by their relationship with a benevolent and loving Creator. The point Hitchens is making is that plenty of people do the exact same thing without claiming that they did so for God.
Yes, many horrible things which have been done, also inspired by religious belief, such as flying planes into the world trade center, torturing women and children, murders, suicides, etc. But I can't help but notice the circumstances behind all this violence and feel convinced that if belief in the supernatural were absent from the situation, but all other factors remained the same that the same kind of violence would occur. Those who use religion to gain and maintain power would just utilize secular concepts such as "honor" and "nationalism" for their purposes. And it would be primarily the poor, desperate, and poorly educated to sacrifice themselves believing it to be noble.
And once you get Hitchens' point correct, you'll see that without religion, people act much the same as they do with religion, so religion adds nothing except confusion, self-righteousness and evidence-free justifications. Even if there were no other reasons for getting rid of religion, we'd all be better off without religion adding such nonsense to both our conflicts and our compassion, simply for the fact that we would need to do less digging to find the real reasons why person X did thing Y to/for person Z.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2009 :  15:19:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Mooner wrote:
Yes, I agree, it's essentially the same statement.

"We are all God's children" must be parsed to remove the nonsense word: "We are all God's children." Clearly the meaning of "We are all children" is not the we're juvenile, but that we're closely related. Humans share both a biological and cultural kinship.

Humanists, atheists, nearly anyone can say that with a straight face, and mean it.
Oh, you want to play this game? Okay, let's take a religious "wicked" statement: "Kill the infidel (person who doesn't share my faith in God.)" Since the stuff the religious person has faith in is nonsense, we can say this can also mean "Kill the person who doesn't share my worldview." And certainly there have been plenty of secular people willing to kill those who think differently from them. It is, as you say, "essentially the same statement."

If you want to get into plain rationalism, the concepts of "moral" and "wicked" are subjective in the first place. If I'm in a position of power and I only value certain people and place zero value on others, then I am morally justified in fucking over whoever I want in order to benefit myself and the people I value. If that is my moral code (and we all know this and similar secular, moral codes are indeed adopted by many people) there is nothing higher than my own authority that you or any other naturalist can point to to tell me that I'm wrong. The reality is that if someone has power and lacks a sense of general love for all of humankind, they can and will fuck people over. The only difference between religious people who fuck over others and secular people who fuck over others is the reasons they tell themselves are behind their actions.
If your point is that atheists can potentially be just violent and bigoted as the religious, I accept that here are historical examples of that. But what I see in reality these days, in the entire spectrum from the warmest and fuzziest extreme of Humanism to hardest and most loud-mouthed extreme of New Atheism, is a determination that people are not to be persecuted for their beliefs, nor for expressing them. That value is nearly universal in the modern secular movement -- and far more prevalent here than amongst religionists.

The point I was making by "breaking down" the statement wasn't to play a logic game but was simply to show that religions add nothing to morality that's not available to the non-religious, just as Hitchens said. Note that Hitchens wasn't making a case for atheism having a higher morality, simply that there isn't anything essentially moral about religion, despite claims to that effect.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2009 :  19:35:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dude wrote:
Ummm, that is his point. Religion adds nothing.

Religion is not required for any moral statement.

I'm not sure you are comprehending what Hitchens is saying.
If what makes the statement or action moral or wicked is how it impacts people then religion is not required for any moral or wicked statement. An atheist can decide it is a great idea to rape a child just as easily as a Christian or Muslim can find a way to justify the same act. Soldiers sacrifice themselves for their nations every day. Ayn Rand used an atheist framework when she argued for selfishness as a noble virtue. I see what Hitchens is saying, I just don't find it a persuasive argument for the claim that the world would have less wickedness in it if religion had been absent.

Dave wrote:
No, they say they did so because they were inspired by their relationship with a benevolent and loving Creator. The point Hitchens is making is that plenty of people do the exact same thing without claiming that they did so for God.
Yes, I get that. I'm not saying that religion adds anything to morality. I'm saying I'm not convinced that religion adds anything to wickedness. There are plenty of secular reasons to wage wars, exterminate whole groups of people, beat, rape, and murder women, etc. Religious insanity doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are other sociological factors at play which explain why Islam today is far more radicalized than it has been in the past, and Christianity is far more progressive than it has been in the past.

And once you get Hitchens' point correct, you'll see that without religion, people act much the same as they do with religion, so religion adds nothing except confusion, self-righteousness and evidence-free justifications. Even if there were no other reasons for getting rid of religion, we'd all be better off without religion adding such nonsense to both our conflicts and our compassion, simply for the fact that we would need to do less digging to find the real reasons why person X did thing Y to/for person Z.
I don't think having to dig for the real reasons is the problem. The problem is the wicked acts themselves. It makes perfect sense to me to fight against wickedness using whatever tools might be effective, and religious groups have many times been great allies in the battle against wickedness. Going after religion in general instead of the wickedness directly is what really slows things down.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Edited by - marfknox on 10/25/2009 19:36:08
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2009 :  19:45:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Mooner wrote:
If your point is that atheists can potentially be just violent and bigoted as the religious, I accept that here are historical examples of that. But what I see in reality these days, in the entire spectrum from the warmest and fuzziest extreme of Humanism to hardest and most loud-mouthed extreme of New Atheism, is a determination that people are not to be persecuted for their beliefs, nor for expressing them. That value is nearly universal in the modern secular movement -- and far more prevalent here than amongst religionists.

The point I was making by "breaking down" the statement wasn't to play a logic game but was simply to show that religions add nothing to morality that's not available to the non-religious, just as Hitchens said.

[quote]Note that Hitchens wasn't making a case for atheism having a higher morality, simply that there isn't anything essentially moral about religion, despite claims to that effect.
Hitchens most certainly was saying more than simply that. He was asked about whether most religion was benign in nature, and in his response he referred to wicked acts done "because of religion." He is clearly pointing to religion as the cause of much wickedness, as if religion functioned within a vacuum. He's basically arguing that Muslim suicide bombers kill themselves and others because of their irrational beliefs, not because of sociological factors surrounding their situation which in other times and places have caused other individuals to do similar acts. He's basically arguing that fundamentalist Christians subjugate their wives because their scripture tells them to, not because of sociological factors surrounding their situation which in other time and places have caused other individuals to subjugate women.

I understand what Hitchens is saying, and I thoroughly disagree with him. When we see the same sort of wicked acts being committed by people in similar circumstances but motivated by completely different beliefs, I think it is safe to assume that despite what the individual claims, they are really motivated by circumstances, not beliefs.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2009 :  20:05:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Mooner wrote:
If your point is that atheists can potentially be just violent and bigoted as the religious, I accept that here are historical examples of that. But what I see in reality these days, in the entire spectrum from the warmest and fuzziest extreme of Humanism to hardest and most loud-mouthed extreme of New Atheism, is a determination that people are not to be persecuted for their beliefs, nor for expressing them. That value is nearly universal in the modern secular movement -- and far more prevalent here than amongst religionists.

The point I was making by "breaking down" the statement wasn't to play a logic game but was simply to show that religions add nothing to morality that's not available to the non-religious, just as Hitchens said.

[quote]Note that Hitchens wasn't making a case for atheism having a higher morality, simply that there isn't anything essentially moral about religion, despite claims to that effect.
Hitchens most certainly was saying more than simply that. He was asked about whether most religion was benign in nature, and in his response he referred to wicked acts done "because of religion." He is clearly pointing to religion as the cause of much wickedness, as if religion functioned within a vacuum. He's basically arguing that Muslim suicide bombers kill themselves and others because of their irrational beliefs, not because of sociological factors surrounding their situation which in other times and places have caused other individuals to do similar acts. He's basically arguing that fundamentalist Christians subjugate their wives because their scripture tells them to, not because of sociological factors surrounding their situation which in other time and places have caused other individuals to subjugate women.

I understand what Hitchens is saying, and I thoroughly disagree with him. When we see the same sort of wicked acts being committed by people in similar circumstances but motivated by completely different beliefs, I think it is safe to assume that despite what the individual claims, they are really motivated by circumstances, not beliefs.

I dunno, Marf. Don't you think the promise of martyrdom and a whole bunch of virgins in the afterlife, might make it easier for a suicide bomber to off himself? Don't you? And before you think that I'm picking on Islamic extremists, I would say that anyone convinced that they will never die, will die more willingly. Just a hunch.

I'll agree with you that circumstances also plays a heavy roll. But adding the certainty of living forever to the bad circumstances can't be a good thing, if you want to convince someone to die for both.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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