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. 

Tags: Bob, Catholic, Dr., Professor, Robert, Vatican, bible, purgatory, questions

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"Aw, @archaeopteryx, you silly bird.  I'd been so impressed by your thoughtful responses...."

Actually Bob, I believe you - I've noticed you only ignore those comments that cut too close to the bone, and that you ignore a considerable number of mine, which I find quite flattering.

I found that particular story, with it's photos, making "plausible deniability" nearly impossible, to be rather interesting - you should check it out for yourself.

Also, when I want to know more about what Republicans in this country are doing, I go to a site known as www.crooksandliars.com. Wouldn't happen to be Republican, would you, Bob? (he asked, knowing full well the answer was, "yes.")

Politically I'm an Independent.   Practically, I have voted mostly Democrat for quite a few years.  The Republicans have become the Party of Stupid on so many issues that despite my efforts to always do my homework on each candidate, reaching for the "D" lever has become almost automatic.

Honestly, @arch, I mostly just skim and choose things that are interesting to respond to.  A lot of that is stuff to correct or insert an alternate way of thinking.  So the proper interpretation when I choose not to respond is often that I agree with you and don't think there's anything to add.  Sometimes, for others, it's that I don't think there's anything interesting to engage with.   Mostly, it's just time management and the fact that navigating these threads is a fairly tedious process.

"Politically I'm an Independent.   Practically, I have voted mostly Democrat for quite a few years.  The Republicans have become the Party of Stupid on so many issues that despite my efforts to always do my homework on each candidate, reaching for the "D" lever has become almost automatic."

There may be hope for you yet --

I like to use the Buffet metaphor. Imagine that each party has their own buffet table for you to pick food from. Within the last several years, The republicans have replaced all of their fancy lobster and steak dishes with brine shrimp and chicken nuggets, while leaving the lobster and steak labels. The Democrat Table has a few things mislabeled, but it all looks way more appetizing. But there are several other small tables that every one ignores, even though the best food is on those tables.

In this country, Republicans are offering chicken nuggets and calling it steak, and the best ideas are being ignored because they're not an R or a D.

The Tea party table is out back in the ally, but all they have is funny tasting Kool-aid.

1.  Bernard Law is living in Rome, not in the Vatican.  Who does he need to be protected from?  He's not been charged with any crime.

2.  I like Pope Francis.  In fact, delighted.  He's been a scientist and a science teacher, and he brings a delightful blend of Ignatian and Franciscan spirituality to the position.  Both of those are close to my own personal spirituality, so I find him quite resonant.  By contrast, I'd be a terrible Benedictine.   See note below on the rest.

3. @Arch has the gist of it.  There have been successful, healthy cultures that embraced or even extolled homosexual love with persons we would call "children" today, the most handy example being Ancient Greece.  If there is no onus, and indeed such mentors are sought after becaue they increase the young person's social standing and life prospects, a case can be made that there's little net harm.   I as a religious Catholic would still call that "wrong", of course, based on natural law and religious teaching, and indeed the Church repressed the practice in Greece and the rest of the West.  How would you as an atheist respond?  On what basis would you have condemned the "child rape" of Ancient Greece, if you were not able to rely on the cultural norms imposed by the Christian West?

Bubble Bob - Klonk

Another one?  I'm now truly intrigued and will have to talk to my colleagues in psychology about this really interesting name-calling thing that is uniquely common in this adult atheist community.  I wonder if it's because atheists tend to eschew other labels which are more commonly employed as personally derogatory, so that all they are left with is the elementary school playground stuff like "Bubble Bob"?

I believe many of those here use these names as a term of endearment. Many of my friends on other sites call me Kitty cat, or other such pseudonyms because of my chimera avatar. It is of course a tiger at a base level, but the character itself is far from feline. Don't take it personally.

He may be a Christian, H3, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's gullible enough to buy the "terms of endearment" angle - if I'd thought he was, I'd have offered t sell him a stake in the Brooklyn Bridge a long time ago. We could have worked out the details through PayPal.

Just trying to be nice. There's no reason for us to be hostile to him. Even if we don't respect his ideas or his beliefs, there's no reason to not respect the man.

Well, we are prying into his personal beliefs. And the church in general does tend to make us Atheists out to be hateful, hedonistic heathens. I see no reason to live up to that description.

http://youtu.be/Hy1hgZsKuM8

But when you, a Christian, come on an atheist board, you must expect to have your personal beliefs questioned. Has he never questioned ours?

You say, "hateful, hedonistic heathens" like it's a bad thing --

Disrespecting his beliefs is one thing, and even I do it from time to time.

But he is a human being as well, even though his church doesn't see me and my husband to be as human beings.

I'm not saying pull your punches, I'm saying be a better human being than he expects.

H3, RE: "I'm saying be a better human being than he expects." - that's honorable and noble, but there are those out there who eat people like that for breakfast and ask what's for dessert?

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