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.
RE: "The Bible tries to capture God's revelation, but that revelation is to some degree subject to the literary and cultural shortcomings of its authors and compilers."
Gosh, you'd think that an omniscient god would have seen that coming, and an omnipotent god would have done something about it --
How about a big, black obelisk, that accelerates the learning curve? Naaah, Kubrick already thought of that one.
There's a paradox in the qualities of both Omniscience and Omnipotence.
For instance, if you are omniscient, then you can't change anything about the future, or else, it would already happen. If you are omnipotent, then you can't do things that would counteract that omnipotence, such as creating a rock so heavy that not even your omnipotent self can lift. The definition defeats itself.
Didn't one of them become homicidal and psychotic?
RE: "There's a paradox in the qualities" - I know that, but sometimes I like to humor him, it keeps him coming back, and if he didn't, I'd miss him like a toothache that gradually goes away.
Has a non-Christian taxpayer paid for any of our churches? Not here in the U.S., certainly.
Pretty sure you have tax-exempt status... that's equivalent to paying taxes and getting it all back from the taxpayer.
No, it's equivalent to not paying taxes. As a matter of practice we don't tax not-for-profit common spaces because those common spaces are shared by many people who pay taxes and use the common space. Like parks, schools, hospitals, museums, colleges and universities, foundations, etc.
It's one thing not to tax United Way. It's a different thing to build a building for United Way. @Strega's graphic claims the latter for the case of churches. That claim is objectively false.
I can only assume you did not click on H3xx's link below - he called it "Exhibit A".
A probably unconstitutional bill that will die in committee? That's hardly evidence. Hundreds of ridiculous bills get introduced every session in the U.S.
In this case, it looks like it's part of federal disaster relief. Perhaps that's reasonable; if the church was used as a refuge for all in a disaster, as most are here, repairing them after the disaster just seems neighborly.
But if your god did his job and protected his church with a little, "Bippity, Boppity, Boo!", it wouldn't need any public funds for repair would it?
Next time you chat with the old boy, you might mention how inconsiderate I think he's being.
Why is it God's job to build a strong church building?