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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You know there's actually a lot of good discussion going on here. Bob says some things that make me happy I'm going down an atheist path, but also some things that make me think ways I haven't before. And when Bella and H3xx and the others respond intelligently to him, I learn a lot from what they say too. When people respond instead with insults and one-shot arguments it's easy for the conversation to just turn into angry rhetoric, and nobody wants to read through that.

"When people respond instead with insults and one-shot arguments it's easy for the conversation to just turn into angry rhetoric, and nobody wants to read through that."  -

It doesn't achieve anything either.  It's not actual fact and enquiry, it's just a mess. 

I'm a fan of one-shot arguments though - I think that if you can express something clearly and simply, it is easier to understand and therefore easier to evaluate. 

"One-shot arguments" was the wrong word, I think. I meant one-liners, or quick insults--something where you make a quick simple pronouncement not because you think it's profound or meaningful, but because it makes you feel smart and superior.

I was raised a catholic, but a saw it as a crock by age six.  It just isn't tenable and makes absolutely no sense.  How did you buy into it?

I thought lots of things were a crock at age 6, including looking both ways before crossing the street.

The way I bought into it is that I stuck with it beyond age 6.  And that guy in the green car was an alert driver. ;-)

Did you come back to Santa?

That's another thing that bothers me. Why does Jesus have to be real, but Santa Clause is a children's story? Seems to me that a jolly old man who builds stuff and shares it with the world for the pure sake of wonder is a much better role model for children than a carpenter that tells people to forsake their family and has seemingly bipolar tendencies. Unless we're talking about Santa from the movie "Rare Exports", because that scared the piss out of me.

So your answer to question four makes me wonder something. If you only choose certain parts of the bible and listen to some scholars than you are saying god is not perfect and in fact should not be trusted very much at all. The bible being "gods word" and all that jazz. But hey I agree with you that god made some silly choices, no two fabrics worn at the same time thankfully you guys got over that one, cause lets be honest who doesn't enjoy wearing leather and lace.

If you only choose certain parts of the bible and listen to some scholars than you are saying god is not perfect and in fact should not be trusted very much at all. The bible being "gods word" and all that jazz.

Hi @Brendan.  Catholics are not fundamentalists.  Perhaps you are confusing us with Pentecostals? 

We don't believe that God wrote the Bible, because we wrote the Bible.  Or at least wrote some parts and then chose what should be included in the compilation. 

So what is it that god does than? Punish those who don't follow the rules some 1st century peeps wrote down based on what some guy walked around preaching based on an ancient bunch of stories handed down to him through oral lectures.

Most catholics I know and I was raised among a few of them seem to be very much burn in hell if you don't listen to what "god tells you in the bible".

Sadly most of the children we teach science to in school walk away with a pretty poor understanding of science.   I will agree completely that we often do a poor job of teaching people things.  Theology and religion in particular, because for many people we have so little contact time to teach them!

"We don't believe that God wrote the Bible, because we wrote the Bible." -Bob

Many Xtian followers would disagree and say that the origin and authority of the bible is indeed utterly divine. Allegedly the apostles of the new testament and the writers of the old testament were under some sort of inspired spell as they put ink to papyrus. Of course the bible in it's present day form is devoid of MANY of the texts that those in power deemed unimportant enough to not be included.

.Bible:

Romans 16:25-26, "Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the
proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden
for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic
writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and
obey Him."
1 Corinthians 14:37, "If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let
him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command."

As to decrees, The Nicene Creed formulated in the 4th century at Constantinople, in an effort to unify the church, would seem to qualify.

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