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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Do you believe the Bible is "God inspired" meaning that God wrote the Bible through the men and women who wrote the Bible?

Oh, Belle... Women? You know that women had nothing to do with the creation of that abominable book.

I like when they say a movie is inspired by a true story. That's kind of silly. "Hey, Mitch, did you hear that story about that lady who drove her car into the lake with her kids and they all drowned?" "Yeah, I did, and you know what - that inspires me to write a movie about a gorilla!"-- Mitch Hedberg

Th question still remains Doc if god didn't write the bible than why even listen to what it is saying and how can you use the bible written by man to base your belief that this god fellow exists? God exists because someone imagined he exists? Well in that case there is a giant that eats peanuts on the moon and every now and again a possum comes out of his butt and plays chess with him. So far the score is 7 billion wins to giant 12billion wins to possum.

If the universe didn't write the introductory book on quantum mechanics, then why even listen to what it is saying, and how can you use the textbook written by man to base your understanding of fundamental particles of the universe?  Why believe quantum mechanics over the Possum Grandmaster?

I think you're still stuck thinking like a fundamentalist about the Bible.  Humans write lots of interesting, accurate stuff that's worth reading and listening to, which actually does do a pretty good job of capturing what's really happening.

Last I checked no scientist was claiming the universe to be the author of these text books but rather observations is where these Theories/Hypothesis come from. So completely different topics. The bible is not based on observation cause it been a few thousand years since anyone witnessed those shenanigans.
Although you make a good point, why believe anything humans have written? after all they have written some incredible fictional stories and some have passed them for truth.
So I judge from a neutral perspective and thus what makes sense makes sense. 
Claims that the universe was a kind and loving place? FALSE
Claims that god if it exists is kind and loving? FALSE
The universe is evolving to house the strongest of the strong? Makes some sense
Earth is 6,000 years old? Kinda insults several cultures around the world for ex. aborigines say they been in oz for 40,000 years no reason to argue with them.
Which god to pick? Zeus/Jupiter, Odin, Jehovah, Osiris the list goes on.

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.

Despite the fact that up until roughly two decades ago, Catholics blamed, not just a few Jews, but ALL Jews for the murder and crucifixion of Jesus?

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.

Even if the only reason for birth control pills (don't try to make it sound like condoms and diaphragms are included) are also used to great effect to treat ovarian cysts, and can and have made it possible for many women to avoid having to undergo a hysterectomy, which would completely sterilize them, instead of the temporary infertility caused by the pill?

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.

Then why would members of your school of belief be attempting to dictate federal law in such a way as to force people of other beliefs and non-beliefs to follow the teachings of your faith? Why should I, a non believer and gay man be restricted from marrying the man I love? I would say that it is the right of the church to refuse to host or officiate the ceremony, but the license must come from the state, and the state must give equal rights and treatment to all of it's members. I would say that if your members wish to live by a certain code, then more power to them. But since I'm not in your club, then I don't have to follow your rules.

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.

Newtonian Physics isn't fading. Einsteinian Physics is an evolved form of Newtonian Physics, taking into account all four main forces in nature: Gravity (the weakest, but furthest reaching), Magnetic (Stronger than gravity, but more selective in what it affects), Strong Nucleic, and Weak Nucleic (The two forces that bind our atoms and molecules together. We don't actually come into contact with these two in our everyday lives). Newtonian Physics is still used today in the designs of everything from houses to industrial machinery. Einsteinian Physics begins to take effect at near light speed, and Quantum Physics only begins to take effect at the molecular scale.

In fact, (and I'm not trying to sound hostile, but it's considerably difficult to put this nicely) had the Church not shrouded the world in religious tyranny during the Dark Ages, we might have a much clearer understanding of Quantum Physics, after all, It was the ancient Greeks who first proposed Atomic Theory, and that too was one of the schools of thought that was crushed by the Church.

Despite the fact that up until roughly two decades ago, Catholics blamed, not just a few Jews, but ALL Jews for the murder and crucifixion of Jesus?

Sure.  Partly because your "fact" is utter bullshit.

Even if the only reason for birth control pills (don't try to make it sound like condoms and diaphragms are included) are also used to great effect to treat ovarian cysts

It's just fine to treat ovarian cysts.

Then why would members of your school of belief be attempting to dictate federal law in such a way as to force people of other beliefs and non-beliefs to follow the teachings of your faith?

I can't of course speak to the motivations of all of the diverse members of my "school of belief".  We live in a democracy here in the U.S.   Citizens are allowed to speak freely and try to convince others.  That's not "dictating".  It's advocacy.

Newtonian Physics isn't fading.

Yes, that was a terrible analogy, but I was writing quickly.  In any event, you got the general gist of the thing.  A closer analogy might be volcanism as the cause of the K-T extinction event, as the Alvarez theory takes greater hold.

In fact, (and I'm not trying to sound hostile, but it's considerably difficult to put this nicely) had the Church not shrouded the world in religious tyranny during the Dark Ages, we might have a much clearer understanding of Quantum Physics, after all, It was the ancient Greeks who first proposed Atomic Theory, and that too was one of the schools of thought that was crushed by the Church.

"In fact"?   Where in creation do you get this rubbish?

Sure.  Partly because your "fact" is utter bullshit.

So you deny that the papacy actually apologized for the persecution of the Jews as Christ Killers? What about all of the other things that the "infallible" Church has apologized for?

It's just fine to treat ovarian cysts.

I'm glad you think so, because that and the other maladies that birth control pills treat are the only reason they were proposed to be added to the National Healthcare Act. This act, which opponents have dubbed Obamacare, is in function very similar to the parable, "The Good Samaritan." Needles to say, the Religious right are playing the part of the busy Christian a little too well.

I can't of course speak to the motivations of all of the diverse members of my "school of belief".  We live in a democracy here in the U.S.   Citizens are allowed to speak freely and try to convince others.  That's not "dictating".  It's advocacy.

I'll settle for your own opinion. And for the record, when advocacy attempts to limit and restrict the rights of others, it's just as immoral, and oppressive as any dictator.

"In fact"?   Where in creation do you get this rubbish?

I could say the same thing about a lot of Church Doctrine.

Atomic theory Timeline and The Hole Left By The Christian Dark Ages. You'll notice a very sizable gap in between Thinking about Matter, and John Dalton and atoms. From 442BC to 1803. This time period is when the three major mono theistic religions formed and began to cover the earth. They had this annoying habit of silencing anyone who disagreed with them, or had ideas that they couldn't explain. At the time, the Atomic Theory, as well as a very young germ theory, were thought to be uncooperative with the word of god, and so had to go.

If you would like more information on this subject, I suggest reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Contrary to what many Christians believe, Dawkins isn't mocking faith or belief in this book, he's mocking the controlling nature of religion, how it can't seem to play nice with other ideas, because when closely examined, it doesn't stand up on it's own two feet.

"God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens, as well, has some interesting facts in it. I say facts, because both Dawkins and Hitchens both are scrupulous about providing sources so that others can cross check their claims. They don't expect you to take their word for it, they want you to do the research yourself and see that they're telling the truth.

Dawkins and Hitchens are your patron saints, not mine.  I appreciate that they both were trying to provide a sort of vigorous counterweight to the growth of worldwide fundamentalism, but I don't think they were successful.  In fact, I think they did more harm than good.   I find their arguments remarkably shallow, though I understand they were primarily preaching to what they felt was an ignorant audience, so perhaps shallow was justified in their minds.

I think if you're going to honestly come up with a reason for the gap from the Ancient Greeks to modern atomic theory, a more honest answer would be the fall of Ancient Greece and subsequently of the Roman Empire, and then the impact of the plague.  Research takes leisure time and that requires excess wealth and sociopolitical stability.  It was 700 years from 442BC to the advent of the first Christian Emperor, so a claim that the Church magically suppressed pursuit of this idea before it even existed seems hard to support.

Don't let me get in the way of your magical thinking, though, if it's really important to you.

Hitchens was an alcoholic, and to be honest, kinda mean at times. He did however, never skirt a question directed to him, nor did he try to quiet any dissent that was aimed at him.

Dawkins is still alive, and holds himself to the same level of fairness. He is much more polite than Hitchens ever was, but still refuses to handle topics like religion with kid gloves. He also kinda looks like a super villain from a James Bond film.

These men are NOT saints. And though they are men whose work I admire, I don't even consider them heroes. I view them as men who are capable of debating a topic without being biased, and in their books go to great lengths to present the opposite viewpoint.

I recommend them, because Atheists are more than willing to completely examine both sides of an argument before reaching a conclusion. I recommend them, because I would hope you are willing to do the same. I further recommend that you read "Letter to a Christian Nation," and "The Moral Landscape," By Sam Harris, a former Evangelical Pastor, and a Professor of Biblical Study. He too holds this same passion for fairness. I would also recommend that you read the Bible, from cover to cover, and try to do so with an objective view, as if you are living in the 21st Century.

You still have yet to express your views on marriage, and why or why not you think it is moral to limit the rights of those who do not share your faith.

Oh, the irony, of a Christian accusing anyone of "magical thinking" - that rates a facepalm if anything ever did!

I assume, x, that you're addressing me, and it's true, you and I did have an altercation, as I recall, but I admit I don't recall the circumstances, I mean, when you have so many --

If you could give me a link back to it, I'm sure I could explain what I said and why I said it, and I would be only too glad to do so.

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