From the article linked at Friendly Atheist:

NOTE: For those who don't feel like following the link and reading the article, below is the meat of the matter.

The Vatican has released the first encyclical letter written by Pope Francis.

That’s big news for Catholics, who comprise the target audience for this sort of document, and who often put a great deal of stock in the pontiff’s opinions on how to live their faith. In atheist circles, the most likely reaction is a shrug, a raised eyebrow, and a big ‘so what?’ But with news about outreach to the ‘nones’ and dialogue with non-believers making headlines in the early days of Francis’ pontificate – and it is still early days, at least in relative terms – this document is instructive. It gives us a window into what the pope really thinks about the irreligious.

  • Atheism weakens community ties. For some reason, Francis seems to believe that religious faith is required to “build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope” (51). As he sees it, “the light of faith is capable of enhancing the richness of human relations”, while without it “nothing could truly keep men and women united” (51). (Heck of a burden to put on faith, if you ask me.)
  • Atheists make gods of other things. The basic argument Francis seems to set forth is that atheists secretly know God exists, but we’re scared he might demand too much sacrifice of us, so we pretend to think he’s not real because we are rebellious and naughty. Then we pick something else to venerate in God’s place, because we can’t just not worship anything, and “before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security” (13). It’s a bit of a pat on the back (at our expense) for the courageous faithful.
  • Atheists are self-centered. Chances are, the one thing we’re busy worshiping is ourselves: “idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands” (13). Francis really seems to think that only faith can “guide us beyond our isolated selves” (4) or provide “concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego” (46). By contrast, “faith is God’s free gift, which calls for humility and the courage to trust (14)”.
  • Atheists have no moral compass. Carrying his ‘faith as light’ metaphor to dizzying heights, Francis argues that in the absence of faith/light, “it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere” (3). No one can be good without God because they attribute their good actions to themselves instead of to him, and thus “their lives become futile and their works barren” (19). Essentially the only way to be a good person is by pretending it’s not really you doing good things; it’s God making you do them.
  • If we really tried to find God, we’d find him. This one is quite a slap in the face for the many unbelievers who became such after a long and sincere process of religious seeking; it suggests that we were either secretly searching in bad faith, or our efforts were defective. If “he can be found also by those who seek him with a sincere heart” (35), clearly we must have been insincere. It’s our fault, not God’s, if we couldn't detect him.
  • Atheists lead impoverished lives. Since “faith enriches life in all its dimensions” (6) and is “the priceless treasure [. . .] which God has given as a light for humanity’s path” (7), we can assume he envisions us all living in the psychological equivalent of a Dickensian poorhouse. I get the sense that Francis sort of feels bad for us, that he can’t really grasp the concept that atheists might sometimes feel peace and joy even though we think there’s no God.
  • An atheist can’t really understand love. Francis explains that “only to the extent that love is grounded in truth [read: God] can it endure over time” (27). I don’t really understand why he thinks that, but it seems clear that he doesn't accept non-God-oriented love as real love. Meanwhile, “those who believe are never alone” (39).

What do you folks think about this, especially in regard to a certain <insert bloated title> Bobert's recent thread about how the New Pope is way better for atheists than Pope Classic according to one guy on the internet.

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So would he dare say the same thing about Hindus? I mean one billion of them do not believe in his God. They have the same disbelief as we do. They make gods of other things. I suppose the usual answer will rear its stupid head….”Ah but at least the Hindus have FAITH which is something you Atheists choose not to have.” I don’t want him or any Catholic to reach out to me. They have nothing to offer. They are generations behind me. They don’t make sense and will never understand Atheism. That is something only an Atheist can understand. I mean these people think Jesus is coming back and that their God made everything in the Universe. They tell me that they are going to live after they die. Keep them away from me. I am not walking across any bridge towards people that believe such nonsense. I lack humility for not believing in the god he believes in? The sooner they get off the stage the better.

Good post Milos.

...religion is an endless circle, Sting sings about it-

The teachers told us, the Romans built this place
They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire
Garrison town,
They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods
But the stone gods did not make a sound
And their empire crumbled, 'til all that was left
Were the stones the workmen found

And all this time the river flowed
In the falling light of a northern sun
If I had my way I'd take a boat from the river
Men go crazy in congregations
But they only get better
One by one
One by one... 

Do you really expect otherwise from a pope?

Pope Frankie's full of it, methinks.

The poop is irrelevant. He sits atop of a crumbling institution. He is an old-man-virgin in a dress and funny hat... totally out of tune with the real world, and the fact that so many take him so seriously still baffles me. 

Same old wine in a brand new bottle (or perhaps just as expected).

As I said to Bubble Bob, when he was espousing the virtues of the new pope -

Nothing will change.

Pope Francis and his PR entourage, will be humble, wash feet, visit Brazil, say they will change the 'culture of the church - nothing will change. As in any business or corporation, too many interests in play - money and power. The vatican bank is being investigated - by five catholics - in the meantime, the things that will never change is their homophobic diatribes, their re-enforcing of the rule of no contraception - their hatred of women.

I actually think Francis is realizing just how catholics are ignoring the rules of cathlocism, are making up their own minds about many things, generally ignoring the church, as it is losing power and credence - and they are worried about the rise of Atheism, as Atheists are becoming more vocal, and that message is now going around the world, because of the likes of sites like this :)

They may fiddle around the edges and say (and they were forced to do this, with the usual kicking and screaming) that the use of condoms in countries where Aids is a problem, to use them, if it is only for health reasons, and not to stop procreation.

Nothing will change.

What do you give the pedophile who has everything?
    Another parish.


To paraphrase Hitchens: “In the eyes of the Catholic church using a condom is a greater sin than contracting AIDS”.

We can see through the vile nature of this disgusting dogma but to poorly educated and impoverished people in sub Saharan Africa are often too scared to go against its rules.

Since it is faith that is the core subject of the new pope's diatribe then I feel obligated to remind those with theistic inclinations of a quote by Samuel Clemens: "Faith is believing that which you know ain't so."

Pope Francis:

"Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown."

Autonomous reason has certainly done well for itself in the last half millennium. The knowledge procured through science has forced the church to sing a different tune on numerous occasions. And why is it necessary to "fear the unknown"? Reason and logic will continue to move our civilization to an even greater understanding of our surroundings while religion hangs on to superstition and myth.

Martin Luther - "Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against ..."

Dogma seems to have a perpetual hard-on for the tools of reason and logic. And with good reason, as it potentially invalidates their very existence.

Where is ol' Prof. Bob when you really need him? :)


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