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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LOL.  Or at least a better carpenter than the contractors in New Orleans. 

Governments build churches in lots of free countries.  Governments support Catholic and other religious schools in almost all free countries.  The U.S. is an outlier with a near-monopoly on education being held by the current political establishment.   Some other examples are Saudi Arabia and North Korea. 

I guess I tend toward libertarianism in this regard a bit. I think we are best protected from overt educational indoctrination by having a system which supports and protects multiple educational providers from which individuals can choose.  In that way there's little incentive for people with "Wedge" documents to try to take over the one monopoly system so as to get to everyone, whether for religious or political purposes.  Our university system is a much better model than our K-12 system for protecting intellectual freedom.

This is wandering off-topic, though.

I disagree. If people are not educated uniformly, then gaps in education form. People from business owned schools begin to want to tax the poor to pay for the rich, people from church owned schools begin to want to take away the rights of anyone who doesn't conform to their way of thinking.

Creating a free public school system that EVERYONE can attend, without discrimination, and setting up several layers of security that ensure the curriculum is up to date and not twisted in any form is the only effective way that I see of creating a world in which people are informed, non-hateful, and truly free.

RE: "setting up several layers of security that ensure the curriculum is up to date and not twisted in any form is the only effective way that I see of creating a world in which people are informed, non-hateful, and truly free."

Sounds good on paper, but unlikely to happen, with conservative, whack-job Texas setting the textbook standards for the nation - that's a layer no one counted on. This last go-round, and this is only done every ten years, so this edition will take a child just entering first grade, all the way through 10th, almost entirely eliminates any mention of Thomas Jefferson, and puts conservative spins on a lot of previously entirely secular subjects.

I wish I had a link I could share, but I was out yesterday, and the email piled up and I'm trying to wade through it all - ah, the perils of popularity - just Google Texas textbooks, and I'm sure you'll get a hit.

I'm working on a discussion post for later, dealing with what I would do if I were in charge. I'll be describing it with masochistic fairness, i.e. if it were enacted, it may negatively affect myself for the benefit of others. I'm weird like that.

it's equivalent to not paying taxes

Which is exactly my point.... I'm saying 1 - 1 = 0, you're saying 0 = 0... either way, the catholic church has a but load of cash and can afford the taxes on it's property.

Hospitals have a butt load of cash and can afford the taxes on their property, too.  So can United Way, and why should colleges and universities get a "by" on taxes?   Hospitals and universities receive fire and police protection, after all. 

I think we have to be careful about suggesting that we tax only those not-for-profit services that we personally don't use or don't care for.  If we advocate for that, we have to remember that can be done to the charities we do support.  Full taxes on health care facilities providing abortions, full taxes on organizations supporting registering voters in poor / ethnic districts, full taxes on lands owned by the Nature Conservancy so as to drive them under and free the lands up for oil drilling, etc.

Private hospitals and colleges do pay property tax. Public ones do not, but that is because taxes are used to run them in the first place.

Ya'll please don't ask Dr. Ricky Bobby too many questions he gets confused easily.

Besides it's all the Pope's money anyway. LOL

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.

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