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.
Suzanne, RE: "I am still in shock over the lovely Bob's question -
"Does it always result in harm? What if we were to bring it out of the closet? so it isn't as psychologically abnormal and stressful? A society where it is accepted as n ordinary form of mentoring by youth and parents? If that were the case, so that long term harm were minimized and social and person/economic benefits for the child were larger, would that make it OK."
I can tell you where Bob is going with that. In Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Grecian times, young boys were expected to join the army and defend their city-state. whether Athens or Sparta. Each of these young boys were apprenticed to an experienced soldier, whose job it was to teach him survival and battle skills. In return, the boy was expected to be the soldiers servant, to keep his armor repaired and polished, his weapons sharp, and to provide homosexual sex for him during the long times that he is away from women.
What Bob is saying, is that in a society, in which homosexual pedophillia were the norm, a commonplace and accepted practice, who would there be to say it was wrong?
By that token, if Mohamed's decision to have sex with 9-year old Aishya had caught on throughout the Middle East, grown men having sex with 9-year old girls would be OK too, right, Bob?
@Bob - Let's just keep this a thread for those curious about what I, or fellow Catholics like me, really believe/teach -
if only... problem is, Bob, you don't answer questions. If you 'deem' them to be too hard - you just ignore - not a good thing to do, it just makes you dodgy, untruthful, deceitful, and deceptive - ah, but then you are a christian - you are proving to be an abysmal teacher. -You are a fundamentalist christian, you support 'The Company', they are the worst. Run of the mill catholics love the ceremony, try to be good people, and ignore the dogma - but not our Bob. Fundamentalist to his bootstraps.
Let's try for more unanswered questions -
1. How come Cardinal Law is protected behind vatican walls, ands is still being protected by the latest pope, Jorge Borgoglio, now known as Francis
2. What does Bob think of the latest pope, by bringing in rules that has made it illegal to report sex crimes against children.
3. Can you explain to me the following statement you made - I have an interpretation of this statement - and I think it is going to be a tad different to yours, so do enlighten me. Do watch peoples, see our lovely Bob put his catholic spin on this, that is if he has the spine to answer. Bubble Bob - Klonk.
Does it always result in harm? What if we were to bring it out of the closet? so it isn't as psychologically abnormal and stressful? A society where it is accepted as n ordinary form of mentoring by youth and parents? If that were the case, so that long term harm were minimized and social and person/economic benefits for the child were larger, would that make it OK."
Suz - fascinating article (http://www.vaticancrimes.us/2013/07/outrageous-pope-francis-makes-i...) - such subterfuge sounds positively Machiavellian, or as we in the US prefer to think of it, Republican.
I sent the link to my Catholic/closet-atheist son - what men won't do for, well, let's be kind and call it love.
Aw, @archaeopteryx, you silly bird. I'd been so impressed by your thoughtful responses, and then you choose to cite a random website called "Vatican Crimes" without even a touch of skepticism or additional research?
Prof, are you being selective in your response or have you just chosen to pick unnecessary battles with archy for it appears very clearly in his response that he is using the same link Suzzanne gave in her response!
Hi onyango. Thanks for pointing that out. I was being selective. I confess I only skimmed through the pages of @Suzanne's text. She's hurting and lashing out against Catholicism, and I expect needs time and space before a more abstract intellectual discussion makes any sense.
I wasn't picking battles with @arch. I actually find him quite thoughtful most of the time, which was why I was surprised he quoted Suzanne's weird blog without exercising his usual skepticism.
"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.