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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Galileo was persecuted, excommunicated, and generally harassed for simply proposing that the Earth rotated around the sun. Imagine the hell they would have brought down upon him had he been the one to propose the Higgs Boson, the so called "God" Particle that has the unique property of giving mass to matter.

Galileo was never excommunicated.

Mostly Galileo was an ass.  He plagiarized from other scientists and generally pissed everybody off.  That was what got him into trouble. 

At the time, of course, the experimental data, particularly the lack of observed parallax of the stars, was supportive of geocentrism.   Heliocentrism was a novel theory people were playing with, because it had the potential to do a cleaner job of describing planetary motion. 

The equivalent would have been if Einstein came up with special relativity before Michaelson-Morley, and then demanded everyone accept it as being fundamentally true.  He would have been right in the end, but it would have been understandable if people were pretty peeved and might seek ways to cut him down a notch. 

RE: "Heliocentrism was a novel theory people were playing with, because it had the potential to do a cleaner job of describing planetary motion."

Plus it made it extremely difficult to see the significance of the sun standing still in "Joshua," and we can't have that, can we?

Bob, you say you choose catholicism because it made the most sense to you. Does this mean you were not born into catholicism? What religion(or non-religion) were you born into?

What other (non-christian) religions have you looked into? and why have you rejected them? Have you also examined catholicism with the same process?

You also refer to the bible as a book of reference. Why refer to a text written hundreds of years ago rather than refer to reality?

@Bob - I was chasing you about, you would not answer any of my very basic questions about your particular religion, catholicism.

As a theist, I think the same sort of thing happens in religion.  Most people have the experience you had -

The interesting thing about being taught religion, it has to be indoctrination and brainwashing - the student must take everything they are taught as verbatim at first, that is what prayers are all about - rote - that is what the rosary is about - rote - that is what catechism is about - rote. it is only when a student starts to question, either what they are being taught or by reading the bible - that the penny drops - not just an evil book, but an evil god.

It doesn't matter how expert a teacher is - if one is a questioning student - they will find out religion is claptrap. Big mistake mixing up the teaching of religion and science - religion which doesn't grow, which is cherry picked, as you have done ad nauseam. rules changed, depending on which cult is followed, and science, which grows with questioning, experiments and proof.

How did you decide, and the fact that you have chosen, which bits are 'real' to you, and which bits are stories, myths and furphies.

All a theist can say, is I believe in this bit, but I don't believe in that bit.

You don't answer questions, because you can't, which is why the catholic church is in such a mess. Purgatory used to be in, now it is out, but only with some catholics. I am supposing you class yourself as an expert, but I don't know. Who would you consider an expert in catholicism?

Nobody would parent from a cupboard, hidden from view and watch their children stumble around, not knowing what was the right direction, and say, read the book, and you have to tell me, which is true, and which is myth. Oh, and that was written by uneducated camel drivers, so I don't take any notice of that bit.

You are making excuses for this invisible sky misogynist.

Pick up the US catholic bishop's letter...the obligation for businesses to treat their workers as human being first.

How about the catholic church treat people as humans too, now that would be radical - the catholic church bans the use of contraception, which causes human misery, starving babies, the bodies of women that just don't cope with so many babies, and men who cannot support their children. Your church, Bob, does that.

Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae in 1968. Artificial contraception is considered intrinsically evil.
No decree has been more ignored by educated catholics, than this one -

How about treating children with respect, and not rape them, when they get hit with a double whammy, and are ignored - Your church, Bob, does that.

If I followed a religion it would be Hari Krishna - women are all inclusive, they use contraception, they don't hide crimes behind exclusive walls, they don't launder crime money behind secret bank accounts, and their god is the prettiest blue.

The Vatican does not make 'decrees'.

Since when - gotta keep up Bob. http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v1.htm

There was the First Vatican Council Decree, 1869- 1870 - where it was 'Decreed' the Pope is infallible - then there is the Second Vatican Council Decree where is was a 'Decree' On the Ministry and Life of Priests- 1965, where celibacy is commanded, 'In which the the children of the Resurrection neither marry nor takes wives.'

http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/v2minis.htm

That is the problem with the catholic church, wives, plural are mentioned, but no mention of "Not allowed to rape children.'

Do you Bob, consider pedophilia to be criminal - as many in your catholic church do not - which is why they have been getting away with it, and why they have been moved around the world, and continue to rape children. Rattzinger was protected by your own George Bush. Another two Australian priests were outed this very day. They were moved to Scotland, then to Fiji, and are now back in Australia, one was still preaching, and will be dragged kicking and screaming to court. Problem is, it is 40 years too late.

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier - Pedophilia is not 'Criminal Condition'.
http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/catholic-cardinal-pedophilia-not-crimina...

Someone will make him apologize, saying it was all a big mistake. Soorrryy.

Then you have Connecticut Bishop William Lori, one of three state bishops, who wrote a letter urging catholics to battle a bill lifting the statue of limitation of sex abuse. Your church, Bob, is doing this.

Such high morals, such ethics, such a warm encompassing god, such a warm encompassing catholic religion.

if I were not Catholic I'd be more inclined to Judaism than the Protestant faiths. 

Sorta missing the whole point to Christianity, Bob. So many Catholics are in love with all the symbolism, ritual, religious art, tradition, history that they will not see the damage the institution causes.

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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.

The church issues non-administrative decrees and bulls.

catholic decree

Papal Bulls

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I'm not sure why I should care. 

Because poor Catholics are staving and suffering in poverty. The pope is ok with that. The mother  Theresa syndrome. Suffering brings you more Catholics and they are closer to god.

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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.

I agree, I was raised in Catholic school (K-12). I didn't know shit about the bible till I read it as an atheist. The Catholic church is a corrupt mess. The reformers knew it and left. The church is a giant immoral money machine saddled with ancient dogma that they cant admit is wrong. The morals of the people have outpaced the church.

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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. 

The Catholic dogma on purgatory never went away. American Catholics get out of line so often. If they actually knew and followed their own rules they would appear to be fundamentalist nut jobs. But hey as long as they fill the baskets with $ and say two "hail Mary's" In that dark box, all is forgiven.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified" (CCC 1030). It notes that "this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (CCC 1031). 

The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven"

source

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I polished the silver in the "rectory" (ironic word, huh?). I fended off touchy priests. I knew how to irritate a moronic nun to no end. I made up sins for confession. I saw how the clergy eat and drink. I know how they view women. I played parts in the rituals. I heard the robotic drone of the "non-thinkers". It's a bit like a mini-dark ages hold-out. I could tell the teaching was not right, it was off, it was self-serving......all under false pretenses.

The morals of the people have outpaced the church.

What a classic line!  Great post RobertPiano, but this particular line is superb.

I think God and the people of God always outpace the Church, just as discovery and invention outpaces current teaching in other disciplines. We had St. Benedict and monks before the Church had a  theology of monasticism.  We had Francis and friars living in poverty with the poor before the Church eventually came around and recognized Franciscans.   The Bible and the history of the Church are really long tales of how God and good men and women have been ahead of the times, and dragged others forward, often despite resistance.   Christ himself was tried and sentenced to death by the Vatican and Pope of his day.

At the same time, there is a role for institutions to play in being behind.  It gives us time to test and evaluate, to think and compile.  Not every innovation is a good idea.  We don't teach students in freshman physics the most current research developments, we compile texts and teach them tried-and-true stuff that's decades if not centuries old, because that's a good place to start.

@RobertPiano - Strega's nail and hammer are needed again = Absolutely spot on.Ratzinger exonerated the Jews in 2011 for the killing of Jesus - but in the meantime - took the protection of Mussolini and loved Mein Kampf. It is the usual splitting of argument to suit - catholics don't hate jews, the culture, they hate jews for their religion, because it just isn't christian.

Mein Kampf?  Can I get a Godwin's Law win ruling?

I don't know if the statement is true, but it's not Godwin's Law as it's not comparative. She is literally talking about Mein Kampf in connection with the subject at hand (more or less). 

@Bob - There is a catechism for kids, complete with Q & A, and prayers to memorize. If this is not rote learning and brainwashing, I don't know what is???

I, also made up sins for confessions. I, apparently hit my brother a lot, that is the best I could come up with :)

Catholics are fundamentalists, it is just that the average catholic is ignoring the dogma and doctrine, the result being the catholic church is losing it's power in educated countries, so the catholics business, the company, has to shore up it's numbers, which is why the pope visited Brazil, with Brazil taxpayers footing his bill of millions of dollars. There were huge protests against him coming, and for a poor country like Brazil, with its millions of catholics living in poverty, footing the bill. It is the younger, more educated Brazilians leaving the catholic church in droves. They are going to evangelical churches where the music is a lot better, and contraception is mandatory.

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