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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Because The Church is essentially a rival governing body within the state. The Government has no obligation to bow down to the Church in any way, as the Government serves the people. The Church demands that the people serve god, and by extension the Church itself. Church and Government are incompatible when it comes to a healthy and happy people. They can coexist as long as they do not cross paths. As such, The Church must take care of it's own infrastructure, and the Government will do likewise.

If not him, who?

Oh, I don't actually expect him to jump into some OshKosh B'Gosh overalls, grab a clawhammer and actually go help Jimmy Carter, but he was very specific in his instructions for building the ark and the Ark, so one would think it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to inspire or reveal building methods conducive to indestructibility. Well, that, and the whole force-field thing when tornadoes or hurricanes are coming, that would be nice. And maybe the lightning could hit a tree, instead of the steeple? Stuff like that - you just might mention little, minor tweaks he could make in a few places. Feel free to tell him I sent you, it's OK --

@ archaeopteryx

You know, some copper wire, a knitting needle, and some staples is all you need to conquer the lightning. Just stick the needle on top of the steeple with the wire attached, and staple the wire to the building all the way down, and bury the end of it into the ground. 5-10 dollars, and an hour or two of labor, and viola. A lightning rod. Although, a lightning rod on a steeple may display a certain lack of faith.

As does insurance. However, when "The Cowboy Church" burned down in Texas last Spring, one of the parishioners was quoted on the news as saying that the fire was god's way of telling them they needed to build a bigger church. Next time, maybe just an email?

The Government has no obligation to bow down to the Church in any way, as the Government serves the people.

Really?  How's that working out for women in Saudi Arabia?  For union members in Wisconsin?  You aren't honestly making a claim that all Government serves the people, are you?  That claim doesn't really hold for modern democracies, let alone other forms of government.

I would argue for healthy and happy people both are necessary, in part as checks and balances on each other.

If not him, who?

Dare I say us?  I prefer people with a few brains, some copper wire, and some commitment to each other as H3xx describes.  Something about people coming together intelligently to do what's right for mutual benefit.   I imagine if I were God I'd feel the same way.

Why do you prefer the magical force field solution?

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a religious Government, and my point stands there. Wisconsin and Michigan are both being financially demolished by the Republican Party*, which is also the party that most professes their belief in god. My point stands here as well.

And yes, you're right. The people should rebuild churches after a disaster, but not ALL of the people. Only the people who will be using it. As an Atheist, I will not put a penny towards a house of worship. Instead, my pennies will go to worthy charities, such as disease research and half way houses. I don't much care if that charity is a religious organization or not, so long as the money is not building something as large an eyesore or waste of space as a church.

Is our government perfect? Hell no. It's ripe with corruption, loopholes, and BSer's posing as leaders. I'm saying that one of the forms of corruption infecting our government, looking at specifically how it was designed by the founding fathers, the church is one of the main corrupting influences of our government.

Citizens of the USA are entitled, no matter what their faith status is, to the exact same treatment, and to pay through taxes, only what will benefit all Americans. If you can produce any officially legal documentation stating that god is a citizen of the USA, Please, do share.

*More Specifically, Republican Politicians who are in the pockets of the Koch brothers, and other well to do ne'er do wells. These same financial giants who often hide in the shadows also fund the pathetically misnamed Tea Party, who are best described as psychotic fundamentalists.

You know, I was with you when you said not paying taxes is NOT the same as having to pay for birth control. But I can't agree with this --

Why is it God's job to build a strong church building?

You know exactly why, but your theology and understanding of the modern world won't let you admit it. Christians today of all denominations have this "it's about what people do" mentality -- as if seeing loving people come together is better than having a supernatural God protect you. That's sour grapes; you can't produce a real miracle, so you say that people working together is the "real" miracle.

Why wouldn't it be a supernatural God's job to protect his church building? People could congregate inside the church and know they would be safe, because God won't let the building fall down. Or, once it is knocked down, if God would rebuild the church himself then the people could spend their money helping the poor rebuild homes instead of rebuilding the church. (Yes, I know christians give their money to both, but if you didn't have one you could have more of the other.)

Jesus stood up in a boat and calmed a storm. Why was that God's job? Couldn't professional fishermen be trusted to know how to sail? Why did Elijah part the waters in order to walk to the other side? Did he think he was too important to go find a bridge or get his feet wet fording the river like a normal person? Then why wouldn't God want to protect a church in a hurricane? If a priest stood in his church and told the storm to go away, and the storm listened, we would have a lot fewer atheists.

H3xx, I'll certainly agree with you with respect to the Tea Party and certain more noxious supporters of the Republican Party.

I don't think I can go as far as this, though:

Citizens of the USA are entitled, no matter what their faith status is, to the exact same treatment, and to pay through taxes, only what will benefit all Americans.

We do all kinds of things as a government that don't benefit ALL Americans.  In fact, it's hard to imagine too many things that benefit all Americans.  Obamacare largely benefits the uninsured, not everyone.  Should it be repealed?  How about Medicaid?  The building of airports doesn't benefit those who don't fly; the building of roads advantages the trucking industry while potentially harming the rail industry.

If we limit our tax funding to only those things that we personally want or agree with, then we will have achieved the ultimate goal of the Tea Party: to end any common, shared endeavor by eliminating government.

You're being disingenuous now. Obama care and medicaid do affect all Americans, They are designed to help where the insurance companies don't. If your insurance company covers everything and you don't need National Healthcare, or Medicaid, good. You're saving the system money and therefore, saving human lives. Airports do help all Americans. Even if some people don't fly, alot of their mail does, and so does a lot of the products they buy in stores. if it's light enough  and going far enough it is often cheaper to pay for a plane shipment rather than truck or train.

However I know of nothing that a church does to affect all Americans, other than some charities, for which there are secular counterparts, so nothing special there, and making the paper and outraging all Americans, which I don't think is helping.

Let's travel down the slippery slope for a bit. What happens when some far right politician gets it in his head that instead of building schools, the government should be building churches? If this insane and ludicrous idea where to gather steam, (and you know it can with the power of stupid tea partiers and Koch money) we could be facing the biggest threat this nation has ever seen. The wholesale replacement of actual education with theological brainwashing.

A bill to provide disaster relief funding could just be testing the waters for just such an apocalyptic bill.

And for the record, I lived in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. We didn't flee to the church for shelter, we stayed in the home my grandfather built. After it was all said and done, the church was found 600 feet from it's foundation, and my grandfather's house was missing a few shingles off the roof. I would venture to say that my grandfather was a better carpenter than Jesus.

H3 - did you know that a small bit of ice - frozen water - can crack huge granite boulders? It can, over time, as, winter after winter, small cracks in te granite fill with water that then freezes, expanding, and making the crack a little larger for the next winter to come.

"The Wedge" is the name of a plan that works similarly. It was drafted into document form in 1998 by the Discovery Institute, an American organization whose admitted agenda is to get Creationism taught in Public Schools.

So when you see what looks like just the tiniest infringement on the Constitutional separation of Church and State, don't shrug it off as so minor an issue as to be inconsequential - be afraid, be very afraid. If it's sponsored or promoted by an elected official, it quite likely is part of The Wedge. (I wish we could attach sound to words, as I would have the computer loudly play, "Da-Dummmmm!" everytime "The Wedge" was mentioned - ah, there it is again --

Wait a sec, H3xx, I actually have a copy, in PDF format - can anyone tell me how to make it available for downloading, using TA's format?

Never mind --

The Wedge Document

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