It seemed these things were popping up in multiple discussions as people like @Suzanne chased me about, so rather than continue the multiple hijacks, maybe putting them here will be more entertaining for everybody. All I ask is that people be kind, and perhaps answer questions in turn. These questions come from http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/mad-at-the-outcome-thought...
1. Why did you choose catholicism over all other religions?
Because it made the most sense to me on several levels. I of course can't rule out cultural bias, since obviously I'm a westerner and Roman Christianity is culturally pervasive. For me it was a conscious choice at some point, though I am not a convert. Interestingly, if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths. Perhaps the shared intellectual depth of Judaism and Catholicism is a contributing factor.
2. Do you follow the decrees made by the Vatican?
The Vatican does not make "decrees". The Holy See serves as the administrative center of the worldwide Catholic community, and we do have some administrative rules like any community (our technical term for these is "merely ecclesiastical laws"). For the rest, all we do is teach.
3. Do you agree or disagree with contraception being available to those who would choose to use contraception, if they had access?
I'm not sure why I should care. Now sometimes when people say "being available" they mean that I should pay for it. I think that's a different sort of question that belongs more in the realm of public policy.
4. How do you choose which parts of the bible to follow, and not follow.
We don't "follow" the Bible, we read it and refer to it, the way anyone does with a favorite book or reference text. We try to "follow" God, perhaps, or the example of Jesus or other holy men or women, but not the Bible. In teaching things or exploring religious ideas, we refer to a wide range of writings and experiences, including long oral tradition, writings of various scholars, journal articles, encyclicals, consensus documents, conciliar writings, etc., much like any intellectual community.
5. Is purgatory in or out, these days.
It's a theory that had moderate but not universal acceptance some centuries ago. It's still referred to, but not anywhere near as widely as in its heyday. So it never quite rose to the level of Newtonian Mechanics in physics in terms of acceptance as a theory, and it's perhaps fading faster, but like Newtonian Mechanics it's still referred to in some contexts.
I'm not sure that was my intent, it was more to set up the circumstances to inquire how an atheist who believes strongly that pedophilia is wrong can justify it intellectually without reference to Western/Christian cultural norms.
It's an interesting question, though, with respect to the gay community. A good case can be made that the trauma and psychological harm to many results from the general society or individuals' families making a big deal about how awful it is. That keeps people in the closet and isolated. The same might apply to kids who are victims of molesters; in fact, molesters exploit the stigma to keep victims closeted and isolated.
Throughout most of what you say on the subject Bob, I'm sensing a thinly veiled suggestion that we make pedophilia "OK" - does that in your mind extend to little girls, or only little boys?
That you make pedophilia OK? Or that we (all of us, you and me) make pedophilia OK?
The second question I would reject. My views on pedophilia are that the act(s) of pedophilia are everywhere and always wrong, girls and boys, men and women. The orientation is disordered, but by itself neutral. Those are religious views, however.
What you and @Suzanne aren't answering are what your views are as atheists, and what your evidence for them is. So the first question is what I'm raising. Do you think pedophilia is wrong? So wrong as to impose your belief on others using the coercive power of the state? If so, why? What objective evidence do you have that isn't subject to cultural bias?
Sorry, this is ask Dr. Bob, not Dr. Bob asks you. I just couldn't help but wonder if you're going to duck and weave. <g>
How about this one:
Why is Cardinal Law (whom you have expressed disgust towards) still a Cardinal?
What does the fact that Cardinal Law is still a cardinal, say about the organization that allows him to remain a cardinal?
Professor Robert's response:
[Cue sound of crickets chirping]
I thought so.
From the desk of Dr. Ricky Bobby:
We are sorry but the Doctor is too busy with Church business to answer these type of questions at the present time, but will be able to address them when hell freezes over, please return at that time.
Any psychologists or psychology students in the TA community? I'm really sort of intrigued by the habit of multiple posters here to revert to diminutive name-calling so readily. Dr. Ricky Bobby? One doesn't even see that sort of thing in American Middle Schools too much any more. I wonder if the same sort of personal insecurity is involved, or if there's another psychological explanation.
Negative mirroring could be a reason, if you are looking for abstract theory. In this instance it could be because of that 'patronising' thing I mentioned to you a while back.
I think what's confusing you is that as a professorial sort, I believe it's important to adjust to accommodate the prior knowledge and views of my students. Really anybody; I don't mean to be calling you students, just describing my own thinking.
Because we have the use of backspace on a forum, it is considered that posts are submitted saying exactly what the poster intends to say, rather than as a 'slip of the tongue' that might occur in speech. I think the piece I quoted above is a reasonable example of a patronising statement, although I probably could point to several occasions when your responses contain the expression "Don't be silly" or "that is silly". The term "silly" itself carries a degree of superiority when it is used in a 'corrective' fashion.
In negative mirroring, the respondent seeks to match and usually exceed the tone or note of the original perceived negative delivery, and this may be a cause for the excessive diminution of your name, although it may also be for other unrelated reasons. I am not trying to psychoanalyse other posters, I am merely providing you with a potential psychological explanation.
Actually, the "Ricky Bobby" reference applies to a character by that name from a movie, "Talladega Nights," played by Will Ferrell. I suspect that it has a great deal to do with the disrespect with which you are viewed, quite possibly initiated by your decision to show one and all how pretentious you could be by adopting the title, "Professor Robert." Somehow I doubt that Farmer Bob would garner the same degree of disrespect.
Allow me to give you a totally unsuspecting example - Ed. Ed, by his various comments, has let it out that he lives in Arkansas. I was born in Oklahoma, a neighboring state, and growing up, we, as kids, collected demeaning things to say about people from Arkansas. But as Ed will attest, I have never used one, because when Ed speaks, he's straight, often profound. When you ask Ed a question, he not only answers you, he answers you honestly, to the best of his ability. Unlike me, he never has a bad word to say to anyone - if he doesn't like someone, he generally just leaves them alone. In short, there's nothing about Ed to disrespect, and so no one does.
Possibly in your search for an explanation, you need look no further than yourself. "'The song is in the tree,' the skeptic showeth me. 'No Sir, in thee.'"
Never saw Talladega Nights I'm afraid, so I miss the allusion.
It's interesting that both your and @Strega's ideas are related to my sense that it arises from some insecurity on the part of the poster. I still find them somewhat unsatisfying, because they fail to address context well. There's clearly a contextual element and pattern to frequency of appearance as well as to poster. Your idea fails to address context at all, since my forum name has been the same since the beginning. @Strega suggests a context, but it doesn't seem correlated.
In any event, since you seem to be hung up on my forum name, I'll see if I can find a way to change it.
You can change it if you go to your own profile page and select 'settings' from the top right corner of the page. Edit the 'full name' field to the user name of your choosing.
If anyone knows anything about changing names, it would be your friend, Belle Rose/Sarah/Jessica - possibly you should consult with her.
It no longer bothers me, because I no longer think of you as "Professor Robert," but then, there are the children, and you know how impressionable they can be --