Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mindless Blathering

Yes of course I'm talking about Pope Benedict.

The Catholic Church has been openly opposed to the equality laws currently being discussed by Parliament in the UK.  The Guardian recently published an address by the Pope to the Bishops of England and Wales.  No surprise that its filled with nonsense:

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.

I cannot imagine being able to say something like this and being completely unaware how bigoted and ignorant it sounds.  They are directly saying that they have to discriminate because God tells them to, then go on to talk about the love of Jesus Christ.  Absolutely astonishing.

Talking about the natural law sounds just as stupid.  This is the group that persecuted Galileo for describing what actually happens in the natural world.*  Why is it that we regularly see homosexual activity among animals, in the natural world?  Animals we evolved from (given the Catholic church loves to boast about how it accepts evolution).  And if the natural law is what equality is based on, I assume that other moral precepts come from it too.  So where exactly does God come in in this equation?

I urge you as pastors to ensure that the church's moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended.

I'm still waiting for the convincing defense of discrimination against anyone, including gays and lesbians.

Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth.

Everyone thinks they know the truth, or at least thinks that given the evidence presented to them, have made the right conclusions based on that evidence.  The difference is that some of us present the evidence we believe suggests that we are right.  The Catholic Church rests on its laurels, and expects everyone to respect their opinion without question.  Yet the evidence thus far is that the Catholic Church has been massively wrong on a number of subjects in the past, suggesting we shouldn't take t for granted they know what they're talking about.

Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society.

No one is denying you your right to debate and dialogue.  But you don't get some special podium, immune to opposing viewpoints, just because you're the Catholic Church.  If your arguments are bad, we have the right to point that out.  Freedom is applied to everyone equally, including those who believe in magic.

In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel's right to be heard?

Again, no one is denying the right for you to present your archaic beliefs.  But you're going to have to convince us that you're right before you get a free pass to treat people differently, particularly given the funding and subsidies you receive from the English government.

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

This is utter horseshit.  You don't have a debate, let alone a balanced one, without dissent.  You have people blowing smoke up each others' asses.  The Catholic Church is basically saying here that only their point of view matters, because they have The Truth, which need not be defended with your silly evidence and facts.

I know my astonishment is mostly due to the fact that I'm a former Catholic, and I know more about this church than others.  But I cannot fathom why so many people that this garbage seriously.

* There is a hilarious explanation for this by Catholic apologists here.  My favorite line: "There is little question that if Galileo had kept the discussion within the accepted boundaries of astronomy (i.e., predicting planetary motions) and had not claimed physical truth for the heliocentric theory, the issue would not have escalated to the point it did. After all, he had not proved the new theory beyond reasonable doubt."  So discuss the heliocentric theory, but not that the earth physically orbits the sun.  What does that even mean?  This is science, not magic.  We use observation and evidence to determine, to the best of our abilities, what's actually, physically happening.  It's no surprise that superstitious cooks can't comprehend that.  I'm not even going to go after the "reasonable doubt" bit, it's too easy.


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