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.
That was actually the primary reason they began using it. If you think you're still hungry, you'll buy more food. But to me the more terrifying thing is that it makes you dumber as well. It disrupts your ability to think and to learn. Imagine all of the sugar laden children at school who've been diagnosed with learning disorders that would clear up over a month if they quit ingesting HFCS?
I think I must eat loads of it.
Try a month on organics, doing crosswords or whatever kind of puzzle or mind play that you like. See how much easier it gets. Better yet, record your time if you can, and try to make a little experiment out of it. Keep in mind that it doesn't effect some people as much as it does others, as every body has different body chemistry. But I would be willing to bet that there can be at least a noticeable improvement in most people.
I'll certainly try to avoid the evil stuff. I'm always looking for ways to keep my mind in good order. At the moment, I have an abusive controlling stalker of a neighbour, that doesn't help. I find a good regime of exercise, a good simple diet, putting in the hours, and *variety*, pay good results.
RE: "I think I must eat loads of it." - that would certainly explain why there are those who say you're full of it.
RE: "At the moment, I have an abusive controlling stalker of a neighbour, that doesn't help." - why shouldn't we believe you brought it on yourself?
Is it "Professor Robert," or "Just Bob," or "Dr. Bob" - I'm getting confused!
"Unintended consequences can undermine the best of well-intended public policy. Most churches run hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck. So to tax church property what you're really doing is putting a tax on congregants, who are already paying taxes of various sorts. Churches that serve the poor would not be able to sustain that tax, and so would lose the property, costing both the decline of tax revenues and church-operated social service support in those areas, as well as the social decay of another abandoned building, leading to declining property values, move-outs and more decline, etc."
Let me 'splain how it works, Bob - if you were a taxed church, and you actually used your collection money to help the poor, you would be able to deduct those expenses, and thus, not actually use any money. If on the other hand, you used the money, as in a vast Ponzi scheme, to garner more recruits, then yes, you would likely not be allowed to deduct that, and subsequently, could lose the property. But on the positive side, maybe it could be turned into a school that teaches evolution and secular humanism - as comedienne Judi Tenuta says, "It could happen --"
All charities have overhead. Whether you're a church or a hospital or United Way, you have to pay for your buildings and your events to attract donors and get the word out to the people you want to serve. We could tax all that, but in the end all it does is take money away from the charitable enterprise.
All of our Catholic Schools teach evolution. For secular humanism, you'll have to start your own!
Expenses are deductible, Bob, YOU know that.
All of our Catholic Schools teach evolution.
Define "teach evolution".
Because very few school systems get it right, and even fewer of the ones that do are religious. Do they teach that one day a monkey gave birth to a human being? Or do they teach that mutations occur in the DNA creating new traits, and if these new traits better enable the survivability of the species, then they are passed on to future generations, and if they don't then the creatures with these traits die out.
Because the Monkey argument is NOT evolution, it's a straw man designed to make evolution look ridiculous.
I can't speak for the Catholic Church, H3 (I tend to stay away from churches, what with the lightning and the spontaneous human combustion and all), but the Catholic Bible, known here as The New American Bible, is extremely honest and forthcoming. In the Preface and other lead-in material, it specifically tells you that all of the stories are not to be taken as factual, and all through the book, in footnotes to each chapter, it will explain biblical fallacies, such as camels being given to Abraham in 2300 BCE, when camels hadn't been domesticated until 1000 BCE. If you have to read the Bible, I suggest it AND the King James in conjunction, and observe the differences.
On the downside, the Catholic version has cleaned up the dialog a bit, in order, it would seem, to make the biblical characters a little less laughable - hence, for maximum laughter, my suggestion to read both books together.
"Within Catholicism, the teachings on contraception are just a small piece of a bigger set of teachings that involve respect for life, and for women, and for commitment and family. To understand the teaching, one has to view it in its bigger context."
Then show it to us in it's bigger context.