At the invitation of Professor Robert, I'm starting a new thread.
Dr Bob, you are continually trying to draw clear distinctions between Catholicism and other (especially Christian) religions. I grant that Catholics are (a little) different, but, as they still fundamentally believe in the magic, invisible daddy in the sky, there is really NO difference.
Two points: The Bible (whether or not you take it literally) is the foundation of your (and all Christian) religions. A cursory examination of the Bible reveals a SMALL handful of usable tenets along with pages and chapters FULL of utter nonsense. The fact that any religion would base itself upon such a holey book, makes that religion as creditable as Joseph's golden tablets from God which he, unfortunately, misplaced.
God: I will be heartily disagreed with here, but I find the idea of God to be completely understandable. Here we have, at the dawn of civilization, various groups of totally ignorant people trying to put words, meanings, and causes to all manner of things which they couldn't possible understand. Combine this with a clever but ruthless set who have come to realize that, if they ascribed words, meanings, and causes to the world around them, people would actually BELIEVE them (as they no other source of information). These priests could and did use this power to govern the people - insisting that everyone in the tribe bow before them.
Then came the age of knowledge. We could start to actually understand all these things that the priests had, up till then, kept to themselves. As the power base for all civilized people rested with these priests, they were (and, of course, still are) wildly defensive of their position.
There is, however, NO CONCEIVABLE REASON for any educated person to believe in the supernatural - aside from these historic pressures.,
Oh dear,. Bob. If you are really maintaining that understanding of the supernatural requires an understanding of quarks marrying, you are in deep shit indeed. In truth there is no way out for you. You HAVE TO declare "de fide" because, in the final analysis, that is ALL it is.
"just finding these multi-level threads hard to navigate"
I agree, but it DOES, I believe, work better than a purely chronological presentation. What I do is browse the emails for something that interests me then follow the link from there to the position in the thread where it appears. Perhaps more experienced members could relate a better way to navigate.
Maybe the easy thing is to just ask you Prof. Robert - Why are you a still a Catholic?
@Reg, why are you still an atheist?
Atheism as a social theory is largely a failure. Its level of adoption is low, and tends to be limited to those who nurse an anger toward organized religion for personal reasons. Most people find that unsatisfying the long run, and people who leave organized religion without anger seem to prefer a benign therapeutic deism. Atheism hasn't in any way proved itself useful in strengthening society, inspiring creativity, or causing individuals to work diligently toward self-improvement. It does not insist that people reach out across ethnic/tribal lines to consider all humans brothers and sisters, it has little success in moving people to sacrifice for the good of the whole, it offers neither comfort for the afflicted nor challenge for the self-satisfied. It would tear down religion or social structures that it feels are outmoded, but does not offer any satisfying replacement. Intellectually, I personally find it largely shallow and lacking nuance, and at times more dogmatic than most religions with which I am familiar.
Gell-Mann made up a tale about some faeries he named after nonsense words from a James Joyce novel. Made-up human idea, written in human books, passed along by very human scientists. Nonetheless, useful in describing the physical world, and therefore increasingly accepted by large groups of scientists, built into the Standard Model, and now largely adopted as being a reasonable description of our understanding of the truth of that physical world.
How is atheism useful in the social world? It does not seem like it has anywhere near enough utility as a theory to be widely adopted, which is what in fact we seem to see. So it stays a relatively small fringe cult, with adherents only in societies that tend to be arrogant and wealthy at the expense of others.
Theres so much of that I agree with - so much food for thought.
and Im as atheist as they come.
@ Professor Robert - I can't really disagree with most of what you say. I think it's the militant atheists who tend to be the angry ones. I think the atheist ideal is more widespread and tenacious than you give it credit for. Apart from that, you're pretty on the money.
@ Kris - hardliners, people who want an end to religion.
@Kris - for me, it's a good descriptive, but I can see how it might be used to give a negative slant to what someone's saying.
What an interesting statement.
Why would an atheist believe in a completely religious concept like "evil"?
I can't believe you think "good" and "evil" are religious concepts. I'm so amazed that one minute you are busy expressing how in depth and detailed your knowledge is, and then you apparently struggle to understand the meaning of a four-letter word.
Religion says that evil comes from the Devil.
How does science explain it?