ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2014 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Mailvox: the bonfire of the brights

MP writes of an amusing run-in with his intellectually superior atheist boss:
I've been following your blog for several months now after reading The Irrational Atheist, and have recently come across a particular situation which I feel will not only provide you with quite possibly severe bouts of hysterical laughter, but also, rather worrying food for thought.

My boss falls under the category of what I would like to describe as an Unread Atheist, an Atheist who has not read The God Delusion, God Is Not Great, End of Faith and other select works in ego-fondling, nor has he done further research into the field. He just plain doesn't believe and feels that everyone that does is a moron. Now, this is not to mean that in contrast, a Read Atheist is one who is a well-read and intelligent person, it would just mean that via High-Pope Dawkins, First-Saint Hitchens and Court-Jester Harris, that this Read Atheist believes that they have some form of misguided ammo to make a convincing case against God's existence.

While having post-work talks about all sorts of miscellanea, my boss led it into atheism. Generally, I remain quiet, as you can only imagine the general drivel that he could come up with; 'Religion causes war', 'They don't believe in science', 'Big Bang made the Universe', 'The Vatican Deathstar opposes gay contraception in Zimbawania, because they think the Earth is 2,000 years old' and 'Jesus never created the Big Bang because I read half of Thus Spoke Zarathustra once'. But then, it happened...

"The European Economic Crisis is the Vatican's fault and it could be fixed if they weren't so greedy, all they need to do is sell everything that they're hiding in their treasury and catacombs and Europe would be back to normal"

I'd like to think that this is one of the most idiotic things that either of us have read, but I honestly don't even know where to begin with tackling the problem. What do you have to say on this matter?
I say do the math. Vatican City's assets are estimated to be worth between $1 billion and $3 billion in total. Total global debt now over $190 trillion, about one-quarter of which is European debt. So, I would ask him how $3 billion is going to pay off $47.5 trillion in debt. It may be a hard lesson for some to learn, but not believing in God doesn't magically make you smarter. Or, as we first learned from the example displayed by Richard Dawkins, particularly numerate.

Labels: ,

68 Comments:

Anonymous VryeDenker September 03, 2012 10:44 AM  

Ironically, the first time I heard that argument was from the mouth of a Jehova's witness.

Anonymous Godfrey September 03, 2012 10:50 AM  

"... not believing in God doesn't magically make you smarter."

Millions of ignorant illiterate morons believe it does because the magical all-knowing glowing box in their hovels tells them so.

Anonymous Godfrey September 03, 2012 10:52 AM  

Has anyone ever meant a rational atheist? I think I'd have a better chance of meeting Big Foot.

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 10:56 AM  

This is a irrefutable argument. You can't prove that that the Vatican does not have trillions of dollars worth of assets hidden away. At best, you can show that even if the Vatican did have assets with a nominal value of such that there realized value would be much less if they dumped them on the open market. But if the problem child had that much understanding of economics, he would not have made his statement in the first place.

I also know an atheist who believes all sorts of things about the Catholic church. I always want to ask him "If you think the Catholic church is that smart and powerful to do all the things you say it does, why don't you become one?"

I mean, if there is no god and no absolute standard of values, why not join the most competent organization around?

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 11:00 AM  

Godfrey,

Rational is setting the bar pretty high. I don't know that I have ever come across a rational human being, much less a rational atheist.

But if you want to read an atheist who makes a better than average stab at being rational I would try reading Spinoza.

Anonymous VD September 03, 2012 11:06 AM  

You can't prove that that the Vatican does not have trillions of dollars worth of assets hidden away.

No, but you can certainly refer to their consolidated assets from their most recent audit. People tend to forget that Rome was conquered and occupied by Napoleon, then captured and annexed by the Kingdom of Italy.

Anonymous Orville September 03, 2012 11:11 AM  

This is just a mutation of the typical socialists rant of taking everything from the one percent (or even 10%) and everything would be paid off.

Karl, Whittle at Afterburner and others have factually demonstrated that taking every dime from the top tier would not even fund a year's worth of government at the current spending rate let alone pay off the current debt or the unfunded future liabilities.

Anonymous TLM September 03, 2012 11:29 AM  

I could see Wheeler slashing a sword back and forth protecting the Pope's treasure at all costs against the Jew controlled legion of looters.

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 11:36 AM  

VD,

I understood where you were getting your figures and I know as well as you that Napoleon and the Kingdom of Italy were only the latest in a long line of nations who took Rome while the pope was living there. I also know that the Vatican was just about broke when John Paul took it over and used his star appeal to raise money. I was not arguing with your facts, only with your methods.

If you are going to wrestle with pigs (i.e. people who come out with statements with no grounding in facts or logic) I personally don't think it is profitable to try to argue with them using facts. If they cared about such things, they would not have made the statements that they made to begin with. I have more fun taking their statements and running with them.

People prone talking about how rich and powerful the Catholic church is might not realize it, but their conspiratorial facts are really just attempts to demonstrate that the Catholic church is more competent than any secular nation or institution. I don't really believe that myself (I take a rather dim view of the the Catholic church for other reasons), but if the "facts" that conspiratorial types spew out were true, I would be forced to concede that the Catholic church is the most competent institution known to man. And in a godless world, what higher praise could one give?

But I will be the first to admit that this is an argument that is based on subjective criteria (i.e. what I find most amusing) and not an objective one base on what will be most effective at changing people's minds. On the other hand, I doubt your method would achieve any greater success at changing minds.



Anonymous kh123 September 03, 2012 11:37 AM  

"...the magical all-knowing glowing box in their hovels tells them so."

Thank you National Geographic and Discovery Channel for giving us the Asperger Monkey Man narrative.

There's a line from Screwtape about the need to make the modern man think he knows all about science merely by fostering his sense of importance and being in-the-know, even (and especially) after only having skimmed the latest and greatest pronouncements from the bird cage lining.

Hitler had quite a few of these "in-the-know" discussions regarding science - which is probably what Lewis partially modeled his Screwtape modern-man after.

Anonymous Big bill September 03, 2012 11:44 AM  

Speaking of innumeracy, how does "selling" anything solve the financial crisis? Confiscating Vatican wealth might make a minuscule improvement by paying off, maybe 10-20% of Chicago's $12Billion debt, but "selling" stuff? I mean, to what earthly use are we to put a stack of illuminated Bibles, or an orrery built by Galileo?

Now if the Vatican was hiding some supernatural prayer wheel that magically reproduced any object placed in a thrice-blessed cabinet studded with the shinbones of saints, I might want to buy THAT, but his boss doesn't believe in such things.

Anonymous Roundtine September 03, 2012 11:48 AM  

So the Vatican has secretly hidden enough money to buy the entire world. In other words, the Vatican owns the entire world.

Anonymous Shild September 03, 2012 12:13 PM  

"The European Economic Crisis is the Vatican's fault and it could be fixed if they weren't so greedy, all they need to do is sell everything that they're hiding in their treasury and catacombs and Europe would be back to normal"

Rather than pointing to the facts, I may ask him whether the principle is sound. If you were to use VD's method of taking the word "Vatican" as a variable and replacing it with anything else, like "banks" or "the rich" or "corporate middle managers" (of which I assume he is one) would he still think it made sense?

Blogger Kentucky Packrat September 03, 2012 12:17 PM  

Speaking of innumeracy, how does "selling" anything solve the financial crisis?

The EU can't confiscate all the wealth in the world, just all the wealth in their neck of the world. If they can "take" the Vatican's wealth and sell it to people for cash, this lets them fleece the non-EU world too.

This is hardly the first time "selling the treasures" has come up. JP2 categorically refused to sell the Vatican art at the start of his tour (when the Vatican was nearly bankrupt), saying that the art was being held in trust for the entire world, and selling it would just drive the art into private hands and out of public view.

The Louvre easily holds billions worth of art. If the Vatican can sell its artwork off, so could France. Put the Mona Lisa up on eBay as a good start.

Anonymous No_Limit_Bubba™ September 03, 2012 12:45 PM  

@Roundtine,

I thought it was the Joos that had all the $$$.

Now it's the Catholics.

One thing I am sure of ....it ain't me!

Anonymous Darwin's Fear September 03, 2012 12:48 PM  

@kh123

"If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don't let him get away from that invaluable "real life." But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is "the results of modern investigation." Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!" - The Screwtape Letters

Blogger Syllabus September 03, 2012 12:58 PM  

"But if you want to read an atheist who makes a better than average stab at being rational I would try reading Spinoza."

Minor quibble: Spinoza was either a pantheist or a deist, depending on your reading of him (I would lean towards the pantheist option) but I don't think you can accurately call him an atheist.

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 1:01 PM  

"The Louvre easily holds billions worth of art. If the Vatican can sell its artwork off, so could France. Put the Mona Lisa up on eBay as a good start."

Not to dispute your basic point, but it is only billions of dollars worth of art in nominal values. You try to sell it all at once, and you will find that you don't get as much as it is appraised for.

(It is a cloudy labor day and I don't have anything better to do but nit pick. Sorry.)

Anonymous Science vs. Atheism September 03, 2012 1:15 PM  

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 1:17 PM  

Syllabus,

By my reading of him, he was an atheist (and not just mine, a lot of other peoples as well). He does use the word "god" a lot. But if you follow his argument "god" is one substance that everything is composed of and "god' can't make decisions or choices. Spinoza's "god" is nothing more than an eternal infinite universe that must always obey the rules of reason. I think he only uses the word because of the times he lived in, not because it was a term he himself would have used given a free choice.

I don't think you can call Spinoza a true pantheist because they spiritualize and mysticize things and Spinoza does his best to avoided either. There is nothing in Spinoza's conception of "god" that would challenge an atheist's conception of the universe.

Anonymous Godfrey September 03, 2012 1:23 PM  

Let's make one slight change and watch the uproar...

"The European Economic Crisis is the [Jew's] fault and it could be fixed if they weren't so greedy, all they need to do is sell everything that they're hiding in their [bank accounts] and [mansions] and Europe would be back to normal"

Interesting how it is acceptable to hate and blame Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular, but unacceptable to blame other groups.

The man's boss is an ignorant bigot who doesn't know the difference between billions and trillions.

Anonymous Godfrey September 03, 2012 1:37 PM  

"Now if the Vatican was hiding some supernatural prayer wheel that magically reproduced any object placed in a thrice-blessed cabinet studded with the shinbones of saints, I might want to buy THAT, but his boss doesn't believe in such things."

Such a similar thing does exist at the Federal Reserve. It’s not exactly as you describe, but it is very close. It produces wealth in abundance for a certain few well connected people. Actually with some investment and time, you and I could have such a “magical” thing. Unfortunately the possession of this power is forbidden to anyone but to those at the Federal Reserve.

Blogger IM2L844 September 03, 2012 1:41 PM  

The man's boss is an ignorant bigot who doesn't know the difference between billions and trillions.

Given that some have suggested that the Rothschild's (estimated net worth 400 trillion) own the Vatican, this is at least potentially disputable. I'm not buying it's validity for now, but it is still a potential argument.

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 03, 2012 1:41 PM  

Let's forget the math for a moment, and start at the beginning. I believe your boss has committed the logical error which Aristotle identified as the "What the hell is he babbling about?!" fallacy.

The Vatican is a tiny principality located within the borders of a nation of only modest economic and political importance. Its primary mission (the Vatican's, that is) is to expound moral and religious teachings which the northern half of Europe more or less explicitly rejects, and which the southern half of Europe barely listens to anymore. Even assuming that the Vatican mysteriously had squirreled away in its magic double-secret vaults enough Hannukah gelt to solve the "European Economic Crisis" or whatever it's called, it's not clear to me why it would have an obligation to do so. It's certainly not "greedy" to merely wish to continue to exist in the same way as you have in the past, and not squander your assets in a bizarre sacrifice of pointless self-immolation just to solve a problem which you didn't create in the first place. The Vatican could just as righteously use its hoarded treasure to do nothing, or to fund the world's largest artichoke farm, or to construct a missile defense system to protect its treasures from Israeli nukes (not an unrealistic danger).

I fail to see how the Vatican has an obligation to solve anybody's problems other than its own. To say nothing of the silliness of the practical execution: let's say the Pope put the Sistine Chapel up for sale on eBay. Who would buy it? Ernst Blofeld? Would he cart it off to his giant underground volcano secret headquarters, and have it guarded by dozens of extras wearing orange jumpsuits, driving around in golf carts to protect it from James Bond? Maybe The Richest Japanese Guy in the World would join forces with The Richest Saudi Oil Tycoon in the World, and together they could buy all of Michaelangelo and then take a big steamy dump on it, just to ruin the heritage of the West?

I'm sort of running out of ideas here.

Anonymous Tom B September 03, 2012 2:15 PM  

"Let's forget the math for a moment, and start at the beginning. I believe your boss has committed the logical error which Aristotle identified as the "What the hell is he babbling about?!" fallacy.

I am SO stealing this line....

Anonymous Idle Spectator September 03, 2012 2:20 PM  

"The European Economic Crisis is the Vatican's fault and it could be fixed if they weren't so greedy."

"The European Economic Crisis is the Jew's fault and it could be fixed if they weren't so greedy.

Hmmmmmmmm...

Anonymous Holla September 03, 2012 2:32 PM  

Spinoza attempted to create a Judaic philosophical system, and ended up with monism.

Blogger Doom September 03, 2012 3:06 PM  

While I agree that the Church couldn't fund the debt, I think setting the Vatican's assets at between $1b and $3b is... a bit off, by factors of 10 or... more. Not actually currency, but art, sculpture, frescoes, property? Still, yes, in finality, a drop in the bucket, but... And I are Catholic, if not really in the know on such matters. Just... dubious about that sum (and probably not counting properties worldwide, though values on those have... declined to be sure).

Anonymous MoJoCo September 03, 2012 3:09 PM  

Some other facts MP may wish to share with his boss:

As other posters have noted, much of the wealth lies in the art treasures he Vatican holds. As a country, the Vatican's largest source of income is tourism, so selling the art treasures that anyone can see would end its source of income immediately. Some of the artworks could be sold to wealthy collectors, who would probably put them into a private vault where the peoples of the world could not have access to them. America could sell the Declaration of Independence, the treasures of the Smithsonian, etc., to wipe out world poverty but we don't, we hold them in stewardship for our people and the peoples of the world.

It actually costs the Catholic Church a significant amount of money to hold those items in stewardship - the archival care, renovation, upkeep and security to protect all those treasures don't come cheap. Many of the projects, such as the current digitization of all texts owned by the Church, are not done for a profit but to benefit all people.


The Catholic Church gives more charity to the poor of the world than any either organization on earth, by the way, in addition to the spiritual resources it offers - what more is expected?

While a lot of donated goods and art are placed on display - it's kind of a smack in the face to immediately turn around and sell something given to you as a gift - when possible, the Pope often disposes of recently donated property. When the Ferrari corporation donated the 400th Enzo Ferrari, Pope Benedict requested that it be auctioned and the money used for humanitarian relief: http://money.cnn.com/2005/12/05/news/funny/ferrari_pope/index.htm That's why he is the Pope and I am not, I don't think I would have been able to give it up. I would at least driven a few laps around the piazza first. (Perhaps Pope Benedict did - who could blame him?)


You might also inquire into your boss's own possessions - does he own a nice car? Real estate? A computer? A Rolex? A wedding band? Surely the poor people of the world have a greater claim on those items than him.

Anonymous MoJoCo September 03, 2012 3:10 PM  

The Pope also does not "own" the Vatican and cannot dispose of its property, even if he was inclined to do so. The clothing, jewelry, etc. he uses are passed down from Pope to Pope, and most Popes own very little personal property. (Here's a copy of Pope John Paul II's will, which is quite short: http://www.vatican.va/gpII/documents/testamento-jp-ii_20050407_en.html) The property of the Catholic Church is held communally, in a sense, by all Catholics, and indeed, all Christians in general. I can walk into any Catholic church in the world and worship there, no questions asked.

Popes work until they die in office, so there is no need for a retirement fund or pension. They get what they need, but there is no post-retirement career to save for. Their needs are provided for by the Church, but they don't really need much.

The treasures of the Church were also built with the donated money and talent of millions of Catholics, dead and gone, who provided all that wealth of their own free will, not through taxation. They wanted it used for the greater glory of God, and they should have a say, even if dead, in how that wealth is to be used. They probably would not want it to be used to satisfy the debt of profligate and corrupt third-world Marxist regimes.

Incidentally, the argument your boss makes is identical to one offered by some of Jesus' apostles, who begrudged the purchase of precious oil which could have been spent on the poor. Jesus answered, quite reasonably, that it is not a luxury when applied to God (Matthew 26:6-13). Jesus also worshipped in the (quite elaborately decorated) Jewish temple, which He is not on record as opposing. God demanded golden adornment for items such as the Ark of the Covenant, so He was presumably okay with adornment of the Holy.

The total operating budget for the Vatican is actually quite small, about the size of Chicago's. Should not Chicago expend all its resources, close down its museums and sell its civic goods to wipe out third world debt? Isn't that "Chicago Values?"

Anonymous joe doakes September 03, 2012 4:02 PM  

Politicians will spend 10% more than all the taxpayers can pay. (Harshaw's Law, sort-of)

The problem with stealing other people's money to pay your bills is sooner or later you run out of other people's money to steal. (Margaret Thatcher)

Your boss's problem is not that he doesn't believe in God, but that he doesn't believe in arithmetic. He's not alone. Get him a Paul Ryan "Math" t-shirt.

Anonymous Anonymous September 03, 2012 4:17 PM  

check out these smug atheist assholes... so convinced one can be "spiritual" without a belief in the transcendent or in God.. and seemingly unaware of how ridiculous it sounds to be finding spirituality in TV shows like House and Doctor Who:

http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/spiritual-atheism-buffy-angel-house-and-doctor-who.php

Anonymous FP September 03, 2012 5:12 PM  

Clearly the atheist boss is correct. Just look at the American Catholic church and their fight against funding abortion and contraception. Those rich bastards just don't want to pay for Julia to get laid or rid of the embarrassing results of said laying.

I mean come on, we all know they go home every night, take off their top hats and go for a swim in their money bins. Do you know what I am saying?

Anonymous Durster September 03, 2012 5:14 PM  

Stop me if I'm wrong here, but even if the vatican had enough funds to cover the EU debt, how would that return them to normal? Wouldn't that only be resetting the doomsday clock? It still wouldn't fix the fact that the EU is using a broken economic ideology

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 03, 2012 5:21 PM  

By the way, I'm sort of curious, in a masochistic kind of way: how did anybody so bone-crushingly retarded ever get to become somebody else's "boss"? Hell, I want to know how he even survived to adulthood without sticking his tongue in a light socket or putting his hand in front of a bandsaw just to see what would happen, or something.

Did you explain to him that your credit-card debt could be "solved" if he would simply sell his house and give you the money? Why is he so greedy?

Also, I think a good plan would be: if we just sold Israel, then we could use all that money to solve the poverty of all those Arabs in the West Bank. And we wouldn't get shaken down for billions in military and economic aid every year any more, either. Think of the savings!

Heck, we don't even have to give the money to the Arabs. Let's sell Israel, just for the fun of selling Israel!

Anonymous Farley Farley Farley September 03, 2012 5:56 PM  

What is a "High-Pope"?

Also, Vox, why the focus on Vatican City? Obviously, your point would have still stood, but not as dramatically...

Anonymous Stickwick September 03, 2012 6:12 PM  

By the way, I'm sort of curious, in a masochistic kind of way: how did anybody so bone-crushingly retarded ever get to become somebody else's "boss"?

Look at the current occupants of the White House. Even modest intelligence is not always a requirement for positions of authority.

Anonymous H. September 03, 2012 6:20 PM  

I'm the first to admit I know nothing about economics and less about philosophy. But I am genuinely curious what commenters here think of this, since there are people here very knowledgeable about both the Bible and economics.

Why not just have a debt jubilee every so often, like they did in Biblical times? In ancient Israel they cancelled all debts every seven years and then every 49 years.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/08/07/the-only-thing-that-can-save-capitalism-modern-debt-jubilee



Anonymous Dr. Idle Spectator, Clinical Neuropsychology September 03, 2012 6:27 PM  

One thing people don't seem to get, even intelligent ones is this:

There are two sets of important traits that cluster together individually. Sometimes they overlap in a person, sometimes not.
+) The ability to read people, social situations, and social structures and utilize this.
-) The ability to read objects, abstract concepts, and ideas and utilize them.

Ideally you should have both. Some poor souls have neither. Too far in the first direction leads to the smarmy politician bastard or manipulative corporate consultant. Too far in the second direction leads to Asperger's Syndrome and the tone-deaf computer programmer.

Anonymous ThirdMonkey September 03, 2012 6:41 PM  

Yes. I believe that device is called an accountant's pencil. Every FDIC institution has one.

Anonymous Stickwick September 03, 2012 6:51 PM  

OT: UT-Austin is backing a sociology professor whose research has come under "withering" attack for its un-PC results.

UT sociology professor, Mark Regnerus, conducted a study that showed the children of homosexual parents go on to have a higher incidence of depression and reliance on welfare than children of heterosexual parents. This research came under attack by a gay blogger who instigated an investigation for academic misconduct. UT has found no evidence of misconduct and is supporting Regnerus.

Blogger tz September 03, 2012 6:52 PM  

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1103

It's been done. St Lawrence had ideas about the treasures of the church.

Blogger Duke of Earl September 03, 2012 6:55 PM  

Sold? To who?

Surely the biggest problem we have at the moment is that the total debt in the world is greater than the money supply if I recall correctly?

Anonymous LuxLibertas September 03, 2012 7:09 PM  

I predict that Atheism will not really be a threat to Christianity in this century. Most of the low church variety will all convert to some kind of pseudo-scientifically based theosophy/pagan pantheism. In other words, Babylon will rise.

Anonymous HH September 03, 2012 7:17 PM  

" It may be a hard lesson for some to learn, but not believing in God doesn't magically make you smarter..."

(1) Well maybe not in the same person but haven't there been studies that have shown that on the average atheist tended to have 5-10 higher IQ than theists. I cant vouch for the methodology of each study but I believe there are multiple studies that show a slightly higher intelligence for self declared atheists over self declared theists (don't ask me for them .. I don't have them)

(2) I haven't actually ever met an atheist --- I have meet many self described atheists whom when questioned clearly are agnostic --- and when the definitions are explained to them they agree that they are really agnostic. And I hang around with the smartest humans on the planet.

(3) Most theists I have met are actually agnostics -- knowledge in God thru faith (faith by definition is firm belief in something for which there is no proof) -- no mainstream religion claims proof of God thru direct/measurable/scientifically* proven facts

(*I know its the wrong word to use here but I am at a loss for a better one).



Anonymous zen0 September 03, 2012 8:18 PM  

@ HH
And I hang around with the smartest humans on the planet.

Really! Are you their mascot? What do you dress up as? A protractor with legs?

Anonymous VD September 03, 2012 8:52 PM  

Most theists I have met are actually agnostics -- knowledge in God thru faith (faith by definition is firm belief in something for which there is no proof) -- no mainstream religion claims proof of God thru direct/measurable/scientifically* proven facts

It is readily apparent that you're not hanging around enough with the smartest people on the planet. First, science doesn't provide facts or proofs. Second, theists are not agnostics as proof has nothing to do with the definition of knowledge.

Perhaps you can ask your super smart acquaintances to explain your glaring errors to you.

Anonymous The other skeptic September 03, 2012 9:03 PM  

Police make sure more non-criminals die

Anonymous Apeman September 03, 2012 9:42 PM  

HH,

Faith is the proper response to valid authority. In this respect it is no different than reason. Your logic can be faultless, but if your priors are invalid, your logic is also worthless. In a similar manner, faith is only as valid as the authority that inspires it. If you have no valid authority that inspires your faith, your faith is worthless.

Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness not because he squeezed his buns together and wished upon a star. Rather, his faith was based on the word of God who spoke to him face to face. In other words, his faith was based on a certainty as to what God said that was as sure as his knowledge of what his wife said to him.

In the Christan tradition (at least in the Protestant part of it), a faith in your parents or a faith in your preacher has long been recognized as being invalid. Such a faith was/is considered a form of idolatry, traditionally one of the worst sins imaginable. Faith was only valid if it was rooted in the word and person of God himself. Now it is not claimed that God comes down and speaks face to face with everyone as he did with Abraham. Paul says in Romans that God speaks in many ways and he goes on to point out that mankind's habit of condemning the evil they see in others as being proof that they are taught of by God.

As a practical matter, the above theology is often ignored in the churches. They are happy to get people to come in regardless of why they believe and they will strive to manipulate people emotionally to get them to "believe". By doing this they teach people to ignore the command that Paul lays down in the 2 Corinthians to test ourselves to see if we really are of the faith. If faith was based on something that we created, there would be no point in testing ourselves. You don't test fantasy because to test it is to destroy it. But there are very few churches out there who want people to test their faith. From a monetary perspective, fantasy is just as good as faith.

So I can't hold modern Christianity guiltless in your conception of what faith is. Nonetheless, I can honestly say your conception of what faith is does not describe my faith. If I was like an agnostic, I would doubt.

But as crazy as it may sound to you, I have faith because God revealed himself to me. And that revelation was no less real to me than my experience of the sun or any other experience in common with my existence. In other words, to have something in common with an agnostic, I would have to doubt. And I don't doubt God any more than I doubt my own existence.

Of course, I am not as smart as your friends so maybe your point still stands.

Anonymous jay c September 03, 2012 10:13 PM  

OT: Have you seen that science has once again demonstrated that liberals hate children?

Gah! Just noticed that Stickwick beat me to the punch.

Anonymous paradox September 03, 2012 10:17 PM  

LuxLibertas September 03, 2012 7:09 PM

I predict that Atheism will not really be a threat to Christianity in this century. Most of the low church variety will all convert to some kind of pseudo-scientifically based theosophy/pagan pantheism. In other words, Babylon will rise.


The Church of Apple and the worship of all iProducts Apple manufactures.

Anonymous Rip September 03, 2012 11:59 PM  

True. Not believing in a wizard doesn't make you smarter. Neither does believing in said wizard.

Anonymous Anonymous September 04, 2012 12:24 AM  

What irks me most about athiests is how aggressive they are!

The effrontery is just so completely self-serving and deplorable!


Atheism Bless,
anon

Anonymous scoobius dubious September 04, 2012 12:57 AM  

Here's a little polling question that might be worth its own thread if VD thinks it's interesting. It sounds like most people here are pretty unhappy with the thought of Romney/Ryan winning the White House, even if they don't want Obama either.

So if you had your druthers and you could pick any eligible American to become president in 2012, who would you pick? Doesn't have to be a politician, just has to be a real person who could credibly do the job the way you'd like to see it done. The only person I ask you not to pick is Ron Paul, just because that's too unoriginal.

I don't think political experience is necessarily the key, as a wise person could simply surround himself with seasoned advisors, so as not to get eaten by the sharks. What I think would matter most is having a clear-eyed vision of what really needs to get done, that isn't deluded by bullshit.

So who's your fantasy pick? (VP picks/full tickets welcome too)

Anonymous Outlaw X September 04, 2012 1:16 AM  

The Vatican is so unorganized with infighting over theological differences they couldn't run a dog pound right now. Every statement that comes out of Rome is not only suspect but I ignore them as a Catholic.

Don't Believe that anything you read is some standard theological belief. They are broke anyway, there bank ripe with fraud will collapse like all the rest. The fish is rotting at the head while the faith survives on the ground.

Blogger Gilbert Ratchet September 04, 2012 3:07 AM  

"The treasures of the Church were also built with the donated money and talent of millions of Catholics, dead and gone, who provided all that wealth of their own free will, not through taxation"

Although I think Martin Luther might have quibbled with that last clause! :-)

Anonymous FrankNorman September 04, 2012 5:01 AM  

The real problem, as others have pointed out, is politicians who treat Other People's Money as a limitless resource. Even if the Vatican had a huge cave of dragon-gold they could open to make all the debts vanish, the problem would simply come back.
Because people who are high on OPM don't quit on their own.

Anonymous Bobo September 04, 2012 6:37 AM  

Gilbert: "Although I think Martin Luther might have quibbled with that last clause! :-)"

Many people bequeath their estates to the Church. Many make donations.

Blogger R. Bradley Andrews September 04, 2012 6:40 AM  

I don't believe they ever had a true Jubilee year in Ancient Israel. (Please let me know if I missed the reference.)

They should have and I think it would help keep debt in check, but I do not believe it ever happened or will happened until Jesus rules on the earth.

Anonymous RedJack September 04, 2012 7:28 AM  

Had a very similar conversation.

I couldn't get the man to realize how small the Vatican assets were. He kept saying they out right owned half of the land in Europe, no matter what the actual stats were.

Anonymous Athor Pel September 04, 2012 9:40 AM  

"Duke of Earl September 03, 2012 6:55 PM
...
Surely the biggest problem we have at the moment is that the total debt in the world is greater than the money supply if I recall correctly?"


You don't really want to know how borked things really are.

Suffice to say, we're doomed.

Mankind has never had so much wealth to squander. So enjoy the ride just like Major Kong. The drinks are cold, the view is spectacular, and the ride will be smooth right up until the end.

Anonymous Viking September 04, 2012 10:07 AM  

Most of those "treasures" are in the form of art and historical documents. The kinds of things that are only valuable to libraries and galleries. And most are priceless. That is priceless in the true sense of being so valuable to humanity in general that they really do have no actual value. One can only hope that who ever owns such works will have the good will and grace to preserve the item so that future generation can appreciate it. Collecting art, real art, not crap art, is to take otherwise useful money and put it toward taking care of something that is otherwise functionally useless. But you can never really get you money back out of it. The only thing you can do with art is simply transfer it from one collection to another and hope that it will still exist in a hundred years.

So where will the money come from for all these art treasures? Some private collector who will hid the art from the public by hanging it in his living room? And why doesn't that private collector simply take out the middle man and donate that million dollars directly to the gov't who so very much needs the hand out? I would much rather leave such art in the hands of the Vatican than transfer it to a civil government run by a different set of idiots every handful of years.

Blogger Crowhill September 04, 2012 10:41 AM  

Liberals and atheists have this in common -- they just say inane things without checking their facts.

Anonymous kh123 September 04, 2012 11:32 AM  

You could always bring up to your boss that the Nazis and Soviets made sure to requisition as much art - be it from churches or other private collectors - as often as they could, for the sake of their own struggling economies.

Anonymous joe doakes September 04, 2012 11:40 AM  

Instead of allowing the Vatican to keep their treasures, let's say radical Muslims sacked the Vatican and burned them all. The effect on the EU economy would be the same - none - they didn't have the money before and they don't have it now. So how does letting the Vatican keep their stuff make any difference in how the EU makes ends meet? It doesn't.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff isn't just an arcane theological requirement or even a fundamental pillar of an ordered society to guarantee property rights; it's sound economics. Even an atheist should be able to understand that.

Anonymous credo in unum deum September 04, 2012 12:44 PM  

If someone is making the comments that "The Church should sell off [XYZ...]" then the proper response would be to tell them to make an offer.

Something in their price range might be the jewel-encrusted chalices from the Medici Popes perhaps, it'll only cost them the sum equivalent of a large house. We'll leave the Sistine Chapel to someone like Mark Zuckerburg, as his credit is a little bit better than us peasants.

Anonymous Anonymous September 04, 2012 4:10 PM  

MP is no dummy. He just wanted you to do the research for him.

Blogger Gilbert Ratchet September 04, 2012 7:55 PM  

"Many people bequeath their estates to the Church. Many make donations."

Of course they do. It's just that tithes were compulsory, and selling indulgences was probably not the best means of raising cash, in terms of PR.

Still, we got some great art out of it!

Post a Comment

NO ANONYMOUS COMMENTS. Anonymous comments will be deleted.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts