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. 

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@Melvinotis,

Yes, I am a layman and a university professor in the sciences, not a priest.

Chemicals affect us, certainly, as does the rest of our environment.  Testosterone just as readily can lead men to rape or have affairs with other women even if they're already getting some.   We are rational creatures, we can choose our behaviors despite urges.  Alcoholics can choose not to drink.  Husbands can choose to be loyal.

I've known lots of people who do without sex their whole lives.  What distinguishes them is their deep commitment to the community as a whole, and to each other as (platonic) brothers and sisters.  It's just another form of the same sort of loyalty that allows a man to be true to his wife, despite his testosterone.  They are loyal to the mission.

It's not for everyone, certainly.   We see in soldiers who may be in theater for long periods of time that most are actually able to do OK, and even stay loyal to wives or husbands back home.  But you're right, some do turn to prostitutes or to raping civilians.  Yet I wouldn't condemn someone's choice to serve his or her country as a soldier.

@Reg - This was also on the internet through Vatican Crimes - which the lovely Bob thought was 'silly'. Bubble Bob will not read or acknowledge anything that does not go through catholic channels or the vatican.

He still has not answered two questions that I put to him.

He doesn't care about contraception - well, there you go, because the vatican says so.

He says there are no such thing as Decrees - Wrong - Decree of First Vatican Council - which is reinforcement of previous decrees - the pope is infallible.

Chapter 4. On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff

Decree of Second Vatican Council - re-enforcement of previous decrees - on contraception - banned. The only form of birth control that can be used is the 'Rhythm Method', decreed by a small group of old men, never married, but very experienced in sex by bonking underage boys. In reality, these men have taken vows for celibacy, which also means no masturbation. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanae_Vitae

@Bob - What does Bob think about everybody being treated humanely, in equal manner, as in Gay marriage - couldn't/wouldn't answer.

@Bob - When does he think women will be included in the hierarchy and eventually, become pope in the catholic church - couldn't/wouldn't answer.

Klonk

@Melvinotis - Bob can't open his eyes too well, his eyes keep hitting his knees when his spine gives way - Klonk - ah, there it goes again.

Greg - Don't know why your comments were deleted, but in keeping with their content, does this sound familiar?

The Flim-Flam Man

I deleted it, there were a couple of typos I tried to fix and I ended up botching the whole effort. LOL

But yea that's our Bob (mister flim-flam man) the irrational follower of a corrupt organization trying his best to dress up a pig.

I think ol' Bobby must have taken training from the William Lane Craig School of Debate.

I must admit I am impressed with the effort that some of the TA's have put in trying to have a conversation with little Bobby only to have him avoid any real effort himself at an actual conversation.

Worth a read:

"The U.S. military has a problem with atheists

"Apparently, the Marine Corps thinks a 'lack or loss of spiritual faith' could be dangerous."

This topic deserves its own thread.

@Pope;

You lead the rest of us will follow along.

Earlier - and I'm not going to bother to look up his comment and quote him - our revered Doc Bob informed us that it was the local principalities that employed The Inquisition (menacing chord: "Da-Dah!") - I'm watching a BBC special, "The History of the Devil," that maintains it was Pope Gregory IX, who founded the Inquisition, for the purpose of rooting out heretics and turning them over to local authorities for punishment. Who to believe, who to believe --?

Hey Dr. Bob I noticed that your profile pic/avatar has you listed as a professional atheist, so I made you a more accurate one.

"There are cultural and theological issues which make it hard for a worldwide Church to ordain women as priests, at least at this time." - Dr. Bob

Part of the confusion that currently lives among those who have even a little interest in the christian religion is the myriad beliefs, tenets, bylaws which have evolved over the past two thousand years. The differences between the various sects of the christian faith is absolutely mind boggling when, as an outsider looking in, you realize they all are referencing the same text(s). If the bible is to be the guidebook then from whence do we get such glaring differences in doctrine. The catholic church drove Martin Luther bonkers with their proclamations. Hence the formation of the protestant segment of christian faith. The point I am making is that there is no unification in the christian religion. Protestants scoff at the catholics with their ideas of purgatory and other such Vatican nonsense. The differences in doctrine & dogma are so glaring that I would be extremely uneasy at trying to make the determination as to who is actually right. 

  The Protestants have been quicker to allow women a more equal footing in the hierachy of their church structure. And to this they should be commended. Women are certainly an equal in mental prowess and probably superior in their ability to empathize with the church follower. It can be seen that those religious  institutions that do not maintain a connection with modern cultural modes of thought will become weaker and less relevant to it's followers.

Why, Dr. Bob, does the Vatican remain so staunchly opposed to recognizing women as equal partners in the administering to it's followers? In today's modern culture women will no longer "sit at the back of the bus." And where did the idea originate that women, from a catholic theological perspective, were some how subservient to the whims and demands of her male counterpart? If your Vatican refuses to drop these neanderthal concepts of male domination then they will become increasingly irrelevant to those who cannot accept such outdated modes of thought. The American catholic female is a prime example.

Change is essential and if the church refuses to evolve then it will become a relic of our civilization.   

Actually, we Catholics find the differentiation of Protestant faiths to be as mind-boggling as you do.  We honestly don't get it.  In the Baptist tradition here in the U.S., it pretty much seems that any bozo can put out his shingle as a "pastor" and start a new church.  Even nutters like the Westboro crowd. 

Still, at the end of the day, most of the Christian faiths are remarkably similar. The Catholic and Orthodox faiths are essentially identical; the older Protestant faiths are really quite close, as is the Anglican community.   It's the American variants from the Great Awakening period (LDS, Pentecostals, Baptists, etc.) that are a bit of an odd aberration from our perspective, though we still probably agree with many of them at the core.   The stuff you point to like notions of purgatory are really peripheral theological speculation.  The actual argument is sola scriptura.

The Bible is not the Guidebook.  The Bible is a collection of stories that helps build a common touchstone, a common language and culture of belief.  Guidebooks are elsewhere.

Growth in understanding is a good thing, but it takes time.  Change for its own sake isn't the same as growth.   Not all change is good.  Lots of change is in fact destructive or stupid.  Remember the bankers who argued that repealing Glass-Steagall was necessary for the U.S. to be competitive and not become a relic falling behind the rest of the world?  So as a Church, we're a slow-moving and cautious bunch.  We like to give things time to work out, and God time to show us the way.  It can be frustrating, but it also keeps us from joining the fundamentalists who are very popular these days as well.  Ironically right now what we're finding is that young "American Catholic females" are a relatively traditional lot, even more traditional in some ways than I am.

Catholicism has always recognized women as equal partners, though not necessarily equivalent.  Certainly we get enough grief from the Protestants for our reverence toward Mary!  For most of the history of the West, the only place a woman could have an actual career was in a Catholic religious order.  There, and there alone, she could own and administer land, be CEO of a hospital or other business, run and teach at a college, even direct the pope.  Not until the 20th century did the secular world begin to allow women the same freedoms and responsibilities that the Church had for thousands of years.  Women religious, and women in general, are not subservient to any male counterpart.  In the U.S., the women religious who run the Catholic hospital system are in most ways wealthier and more powerful than the bishops. Women serve throughout the Church and the hierarchy and in the Vatican.

So really the only issue you're talking about is sacrimental orders.  That one pragmatically is harder just because we're worldwide, and so unlike many of our Protestant brethren we're active in diverse cultures which may be less accepting of women.  Heck, even the Episcopal Church and the Anglican community in Britain and the U.S. had a minor schism over ordaining women bishops.   Why would we believe the whole world is ready when even many in the 1st world are not?  There's also a theological component, in that Jesus and Mary had different roles, and in the sacrifice of the Mass the priest stands in Jesus' place.  That's a very deeply rooted cultural theology. 

Now, as I mentioned in another thread, I do find Pope Francis' recent comments on the role of women quite interesting.  His Holiness and I share a certain whimsical sense for the way the Holy Spirit tends to smash our human assumptions if we are open to it.  What would be an interesting twist would be the appointment of some women as Cardinals.  Cardinal is just a title of honor, and while tradition has cardinals as bishops, that's not theological and can be dispensed with. 

Wouldn't that be interesting?

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