Posts Tagged ‘catholic church’

Is ‘The Daily Telegraph’ Catholic blogger Dr Tim Stanley really a mole for ‘The Onion’?

30/09/2013

American biologist and secular blogger Jerry Coyne dubbed the “godicoddling” journalist Andrew Brown as “The Guardian’s resident moron” for his increasingly stupefying apologias for religion and attacks on science.  Now, I’m not in the habit of resorting to such schoolyard name-calling, but I am strongly inclined to bestow such a derogatory moniker on Dr Tim Stanley, British Catholic blogger for The Daily Telegraph.

The good Doctor has been given a patch on the website of Britain’s best (only?) quality broadsheet daily and throughout the year, he has posted a litany of religious nonsense that has lead me to suspect strongly that he must be a mole planted by America’s Finest New Source, The Onion.

Firstly there was this utterly lame defence of outgoing Pope Benedict XVI bemoaning the modern media’s wilful misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine.  Opening with the line, “The identikit headline seems to be, ‘Elderly Homophobe Quits Misogynistic Institution Because He Can’t Hack It’,” the very first commenter told him, “Well done, Tim.  No-one else has put it quite as succinctly.  I quit the article at this point, while you were still ahead.”(!)

Stanley’s hilarious post continues thus:

Let’s name and shame a few media sins:

1. Defining Pope Benedict as a “conservative”.  In Catholicism there is no Right or Left but only truth and error.  A Pope is there to articulate doctrine, not to “turn the clock back” or “embrace progress.”  If he tried to force his personality upon the Church then he’d probably break with dogma and stop being infallible.  Benedict was an orthodox pontiff.  Sometimes his orthodoxy corresponded with a classically conservative position (gay marriage).  Other times he sounded like a socialist (he called for regulation of international banking).   Either way, Christianity doesn’t conform to modern political idioms.  It’s far too radical.

Face palm moment or what?  Stanley effectively admits that Catholic dogma is very dogmatic and it’s more important for the pontiff to cling onto outmoded and antiquated ideas and give the appearance of being infallible rather than to embrace new knowledge and change as exciting new ideas are brought to light.  Imagine if science or medicine was run like this?  We would still be adhering to Hypocrites’ theory of the Four Humours and leeching medical patients dry rather than giving blood transfusions and antibiotics.  Why doesn’t the Church return to supporting slavery or preaching Holy War against Muslims while they’re at it!

Indeed, Stanley’s diatribe has echoes of The Onion’s comment that Ratzinger “no longer has the strength to lead church backward”:

According to the 85-year-old pontiff, after considerable prayer and reflection on his physical stamina and mental acuity, he concluded that his declining faculties left him unable to helm the Church’s ambitious regressive agenda and guide the faith’s one billion global followers on their steady march away from modernity and cultural advancement.

“It is with sadness, but steadfast conviction, that I announce I am no longer capable of impeding social progress with the energy and endurance that is required of the highest ministry in the Roman Catholic Church,” Benedict reportedly said in Latin to the Vatican’s highest cardinals.  “While I’m proud of the strides the Church has made over the past eight years, from thwarting AIDS-prevention efforts in Africa to failing to punish or even admit to decades of sexual abuse of children at the hands of clergy, it has become evident to me that, in this rapidly evolving world, I now lack the capacity to continue guiding this faith back centuries.”

“Thus, I must step down from the papacy,” he added.  “But let me assure every member of the Church that the Vatican’s commitment to narrow-mindedness and social obstruction will long live on after my departure.”

Word of Benedict’s resignation—the first for a sitting pope in nearly 600 years—reportedly stunned the world’s Catholic faithful, many of whom believed the German-born pontiff still had years of stymieing female advancement in Church roles, opposing stem cell research, and inflaming tensions with Jews, Muslims, and Anglicans left in him.

If you penned this superb slice of religious satire, Doctor, now would be as good a time as any to own up to it.

The next episode in this syllabus of errors is Dr Tim’s rant against atheist biology professor Richard Dawkins asking, “If we’re cracking down on Twitter abuse, can we include Richard Dawkins and the atheist trolls?”  Stanley wails that Dawkins is “a clever but horrible man.”  Aside from Jerry Coyne’s spat against Andrew Brown outlined above (which to be fair is understandable, if not excusable), I don’t think I have ever heard/read Dawkins or any of the other New Atheist spokesmen resort to such childish language.  The most angry Dawkins has been towards an opponent is calling Christian apologist William Lane Craig a “professional debater” and subsequently “an apologist for genocide”, both of which mere statements of fact as opposed to schoolyard insults.

I’m not defending Richard Dawkins’ Tweets; frankly, I think he is putting himself down and playing into the hands of those who want label him as an atheist fundamentalist with Tweets such as “Don’t ask God to cure cancer & world poverty.  He’s too busy finding you a parking space & fixing the weather for your barbecue.”  I suppose a 140 character Tweet means that you have to be brutal and to the point, which is why I do not think it is an appropriate forum for making public statements that you expect to be taken seriously.  However, Stanley has a somewhat greater word limit with which to play, yet is no closer to being viewed as a mature adult:

When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me.  When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night.  You’re ridiculing a God without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy.  You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return – perhaps the greatest, most wonderful discovery of my adult life.  You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness.  It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone.

The words “dummy”, “out” and “spit” spring to mind.  It never ceases to amaze me how easily offended the faithful get when someone disses their imaginary best friend.  If Dawkins is wrong, if your invisible god exists and if he is so great, then I’m sure he can withstand a few brief moments of criticism from a lowly heretic who is both wilful ignorant of his mysterious ways and in any event is hell bound as punishment for his unbelief.  But I like how Tim credits Yahweh (as opposed to Allah, Krishna or Zeus) for comforting him while his mother was dying of cancer rather than actually providing a cure.

In short, when you try to destroy someone’s faith you’re not being a brilliant logician.  You’re being a jerk.

OK, so Dawkins along with David Hume, J L Mackie, Victor Stenger, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Steven Weinberg and innumerable other atheist scientists and philosophers are not trying to liberate people from their Iron Age god of war fantasies with that annoying little thing known as The Truth.  They’re just being stuck up little jerks spoiling Christmas for all the little children by telling them the truth about Santa Claus.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not calling for Dawkins or his ilk to be banned.

Really?  The title to your post suggests otherwise.

I’m thick skinned…

All evidence to the contrary.

…and I can take the odd badly spelled Tweet telling me that I’m a simpleton.  But if we are having a grown up conversation about what is and isn’t offensive, can we Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and All Of The Above be a part of it, too?  Or is [sic] only liberal secularists who are allowed to take offence?

And you berate others for poor grammar.

Dr Tim’s tirade begs the question as to why he even follows Richard Dawkins on Twitter.  If Dawkins’ Tweets upset him so much, why doesn’t he just unsubscribe and block him?  His position is akin to Mary Whitehouse trying to ban most of British television’s output: “I don’t like it; therefore no one else should watch it!”

I could not find a mirror image in America’s Finest News Source on that occasion, but take a gander at Dr Tim correcting the World’s media on Pope Francis allegedly saying that atheists and agnostics will still be welcome in God’s Holy Kingdom after they are through with this veil of tears and…

[The mainstream media have reported Pope Francis as saying] that belief in God isn’t a requirement to get into Heaven.  Of course, it absolutely is.  If you arrive at the pearly gates and still refuse to accept that God exists then the odds are that St Peter won’t let you in.  Everyone has to confront that reality at some point in their lives – so only the mad and the stubborn are likely to spend an eternity as unbelievers.

…and try to spot the difference if you can with this recent gem from The Onion:

VATICAN CITY—Following Pope Francis’ tolerant remarks Sunday about homosexuals and the Catholic Church, Vatican officials reportedly went into crisis mode, announcing that the Pope’s thoughtful message of understanding was clearly taken out of context.  “It is not the official stance of the Pope or the Catholic Church that all people of good will who seek the Lord, especially gay people, should be accepted by Christ,” a visibly nervous Vatican spokesman told reporters, adding that the Holy Father was clearly tired after his long trip to Brazil and never meant for his comments to sound caring or realistic.  “Homosexuality is a disorder.  And this in no way means that, going forward, the Catholic Church will be an open-minded, more sensible organization.  I assure you we are just as prejudiced and backward today as we were yesterday.  Thank you.”  According to an anonymous source close to the Vatican, the Pope is currently being yelled at by Church officials, who are telling him, “You don’t just go off script like that.  Who the fuck do you think you are?”

Blowed if I can find a link to it now, but I do recall reading on good old fashioned newspaper at the time that long before the Iraq War The Daily Telegraph’s satirist, Peter Simple, gave up trying to parody former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair because quite simply his subject was his own best parody and could not be improved upon.

The same principle applies to Dr Timothy Stanley.

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More of my favourite videos and articles from The Onion

18/08/2013

OnionLogoHow could I have forgotten these?

Joe Biden Hitchhikes To Democrat National Convention

The Onion has a been poking fun at “The President Of Vice” for a long time, but this one is my favourite.

You should also witness their editor’s straight-faced promotion of their mock-biography on CNN.

Ambassador Stages UN Coup, Issues Long List Of Non-Binding Resolution

The main clip mocking the pointless talk-shop that is the UN is very funny, but stick around till the end where a new study reveals the shocking truth about how Americans are pleasuring themselves.

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As ‘Fun, Watchable’

“If I wanted to see young, attractive people doing cool, exciting things, I’d go watch sports.”

Kim Jung-Un Named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive For 2012

With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.  Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.

This piece was taken seriously by Chinese state media!

Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex

TOPEKA, KS—Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday the grand opening of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex, a sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.

During a press conference, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told reporters that the new state-of-the-art fetus-killing facility located in the nation’s heartland offers quick, easy, in-and-out abortions to all women, and represents a bold reinvention of the group’s long-standing mission and values.

“Although we’ve traditionally dedicated 97 percent of our resources to other important services such as contraception distribution, cancer screening, and STD testing, this new complex allows us to devote our full attention to what has always been our true passion: abortion,” said Richards, standing under a banner emblazoned with Planned Parenthood’s new slogan, “No Life Is Sacred.”  “And since Congress voted to retain our federal funding, it’s going to be that much easier for us to maximize the number of tiny, beating hearts we stop every day.”

And this one was taken seriously by a Republican congressman.

Dead Teenager Remembered For Great Hand Jobs

GOLDSBORO, NC—Friends, classmates, and loved ones gathered last night at a memorial service in the Westside High School gymnasium to celebrate the life of 17-year-old Brooke Belzer, who, before she died tragically in a car accident last week, was beloved for her bright personality and for giving easily the best hand jobs in the school.

The untimely passing of Belzer, whom mourners remembered as a smart, accommodating teen who loved to laugh, watch movies with friends, and bring male friends to sexual climax with her hand, has left many in the Goldsboro community in a state of shock.

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” said Brian Jennings, a longtime classmate and neighbor.  “It’s just so shocking to think that someone as vibrant and full of life as Brooke is gone, and I’ll never see her again.  How can that be?”

Added Jennings, “She just rubbed me off in the Hardee’s parking lot last week.”

Belzer, a passenger in the single-car accident, was killed when driver Keith Foley, who survived the wreck with only minor injuries, became distracted and lost control of the vehicle.  Belzer was not wearing a seat belt at the time.

Pope Forgives Molested Children

VATICAN CITY—Calling forgiveness “one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus,” Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.

“Though grave and terrible sins have been committed, our Lord teaches us to turn the other cheek and forgive those who sin against us,” said the pope, reading a prepared statement from a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

“That is why, despite the terrible wrongs they have committed, the church must move on and forgive these children for their misdeeds.”

“As Jesus said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’” the pope continued. “We must send a clear message to these hundreds—perhaps thousands—of children whose sinful ways have tempted so many of the church’s servants into lustful violation of their holy vows of celibacy.  The church forgives them for their transgressions and looks upon them not with intolerance, but compassion.”

(…)

“What kind of a message is the pope sending today’s children?  That it’s okay to seduce priests?” said one concerned Baltimore priest who asked to remain anonymous due to a pending court case.  “With the pope’s announcement, the church is essentially telling its youngest members, ‘Go ahead and let Father So-And-So reach into your swim trunks at the church-youth-group pool party.  It’s okay, the pope will forgive you in the end.’  Without fear of eternal damnation, how are these provocative young lotharios ever going to learn?”

Pope Vows To Get Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels

VATICAN CITY—Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his “most humble apologies” to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Pope Benedict said. “It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors.”

“And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood,” he continued.  “They should know that they’re only allowed one small child every other month.”

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine.  Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of “tender, tender young flesh” had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

“The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation—it’s simply unavoidable,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said.  “But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries.”

Vatican Quickly Performs Damage Control On Pope’s Tolerant Remarks

VATICAN CITY—Following Pope Francis’ tolerant remarks Sunday about homosexuals and the Catholic Church, Vatican officials reportedly went into crisis mode, announcing that the Pope’s thoughtful message of understanding was clearly taken out of context.  “It is not the official stance of the Pope or the Catholic Church that all people of good will who seek the Lord, especially gay people, should be accepted by Christ,” a visibly nervous Vatican spokesman told reporters, adding that the Holy Father was clearly tired after his long trip to Brazil and never meant for his comments to sound caring or realistic.  “Homosexuality is a disorder.  And this in no way means that, going forward, the Catholic Church will be an open-minded, more sensible organization.  I assure you we are just as prejudiced and backward today as we were yesterday.  Thank you.”  According to an anonymous source close to the Vatican, the Pope is currently being yelled at by Church officials, who are telling him, “You don’t just go off script like that.  Who the fuck do you think you are?”

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory

KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state.  Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held “theory of gravity” is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

My favourite videos from The Onion

13/08/2013

OnionLogoUse of ‘N-Word’ May End Porn Star’s Career

One day pornography will be respectful, mainstream and earnestly discussed on nightly news programmes and this video will cease to be funny.  Until that day…

College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed

This was not CNN’s coverage of the Steubenville Rape Trial, but you wouldn’t know it if you compared the two.

Rare Pornographic Movie Shot At Vatican For First Time Since 1982’s ‘Pope Fisters IV’

The Pope’s residence has actually been a prime porn movie location for the past 30 years.

Full article.

What Is Your Amateur Porn Telling Future Employers About You?

Americans Observing 9/11 By Trying Not To Masturbate

With all the tragedies unfolding around the World and thanks to modern 24 hour media, when is a good time to choke the bishop or stroke the budgie’s tongue?

I know that I probably shouldn’t masturbate today.  But, I dunno.  Should I not masturbate on Pearl Harbour Day too?

Right on, brother!

DNA Evidence Frees Black Man Convicted of Bear Attack

Issues of racial discrimination in the United States have clearly progressed so far since the abolition of slavery that the difference between a brutal killing carried out by an African-American and a grizzly bear is a distinction without a difference.

Live From Congress: Representative Wants To See, Meet More Kids Online

Rep. Gelinas proposes an educational bill to increase the number of young people he meets in under-13 chat rooms.

Eewwwwooooh.  I mean, just… Eewwwwoooh!

Prague’s Kafka International Named Most Alienating Airport

Up there with Camus’ The Outsider as one the best potted existentialist nightmares.

Prison Economy Spirals As Price Of Pack Of Cigarettes Surpasses Two Hand Jobs

If there is a funnier, more succinct demonstration of how humans are natural capitalists, I would like to see it.

Police Say That School Shooter Had History Of School Shootings

With America’s approach to gun laws clearly not fucking working, they may as well let the perpetrators roam free to commit further massacres.

Victim In Fatal Car Accident Tragically Not Glenn Beck

Fox News hard-right reactionary hack gets the epitaph he deserves.

Justin Bieber Found To Be Cleverly Disguised 51 Year Old Pedophile

The Onion predicts Operation Yewtree two years early and 30 years younger.

Pedophiles Upset at Girls Field Hockey Team Uniform Change

Best read alongside this missive from the head of a local paedophile action group:

So please.  Speak up.  Pedophiles alone cannot change the tide of pedophile-unfriendly behavior at girl’s field hockey and girl’s diving and co-ed wrestling and boys fencing.  Call up your school board and demand change, or else call, breathe heavily into the phone and emit a high-pitched cackle. Together we can make a difference.

Together, we are all pedophiles

Well, quite.

Scientists Find Skeleton Of Nature’s First Sexual Predator

Darwin would be proud.

Premier Christian Radio Debate 13/08/11: MSP –v- Peter Harris – “Hitler’s & Stalin’s regimes”

14/08/2011

 

manicstreetpreacher goes for Round 2.

The second of my two recently recorded debates for Justin Brierley at Premier Christian Radio for his sceptics debate show, Unbelievable?, was whether atheism or Christianity was responsible for the so-called secular atrocities of the mid-20th century.

My opponent was Peter Harris, a teacher and a doctorate student of theology and apologetics who has a page on BeThinking.

Web access

Listen on demand from the Unbelievable? homepage

Download MP3 podcast

Priest Off!

15/06/2010

(Picture via Unreasonable Faith)

manicstreetpreacher presents the Bairnsfather view of the Catholic Church abuse scandal.

The Internet and Blogosphere have been heaving with all the lurid details of the Catholic Church abuse scandal.  My sober contribution was a lambasting of “The Guardian’s resident moron” (© Jerry Coyne) Andrew Brown’s abysmal Vatican apologia that disgraced Comment is free a few months ago.

I think enough criticism of the Holy See has been published by now.  As the feted World War One cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather proved, there is a funny side to any situation, no matter how appalling.

Therefore, in the same spirit of satirical smiling through gritted teeth, I present five hilarious alternative takes on the Vatican’s sordid predicament to cheer us all up.

1.  Priest Off!

One spray of this and your little boy will be protected from predatory, hormonally charged, clergymen.

2.  Stained Glass Window FAIL!!!!

Not a FAIL.  The Catholic Church doing what it does best.  (OK, it’s not Catholic.  It’s Episcopalian.  But it may as well be Catholic…)

3.  And it looks like the Vermont Catholic magazine is really telling it like it is…

(Via Unreasonable Faith again)

4.   But enough of this cruel mockery of Pope Benedict XVI.

His Holiness recently issued a little-reported statement vowing to bring priestly pedophilia down to more acceptable levels:

VATICAN CITY—Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his “most humble apologies” to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Pope Benedict said. “It seems a weakening of faith in God has prevented our priests from exercising moderation when sexually abusing helpless minors.”

“And let me remind our clergy of the holy vows they all took when they entered the priesthood,” he continued. “They should know that they’re only allowed one small child every other month.”

The pope said he was deeply disappointed to learn that the number of children sexually abused by priests was almost 10 times beyond the allowable limit clearly outlined in church doctrine. Admitting for the first time in public that the overindulgent touching of “tender, tender young flesh” had become a full-blown crisis, the Holy Father vowed to implement new reforms to bring the pedophilia rate back down to five children per 1,000 clergy.

“The truth is there will always be a little bit of molestation – it’s simply unavoidable,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said. “But the fact that young boys have gotten much more attractive over the past few decades is no excuse for the blatant defiance of church limits that have been in place for centuries.”

“The majority of priests don’t want to molest kids at all,” he added. “But for those who do, we must make sure they’re doing it at a reasonable rate.”

5.  And have we forgotten already the kind words of forgiveness offered by the previous holder of the keys of St Peter?

In 2002 John Paul II gave absolution to all those irresistibly attractive alter-boys who tempted certain members of the priesthood to break their vows of celibacy:

VATICAN CITY – Calling forgiveness “one of the highest virtues taught to us by Jesus,” Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree Monday absolving priest-molested children of all sin.

“Though grave and terrible sins have been committed, our Lord teaches us to turn the other cheek and forgive those who sin against us,” said the pope, reading a prepared statement from a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square.   “That is why, despite the terrible wrongs they have committed, the church must move on and forgive these children for their misdeeds.”

“As Jesus said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’” the pope continued.  “We must send a clear message to these hundreds – perhaps thousands – of children whose sinful ways have tempted so many of the church’s servants into lustful violation of their holy vows of celibacy.  The church forgives them for their transgressions and looks upon them not with intolerance, but compassion.”

(…)

Margaret Leahy, 39, a Somerville, MA, homemaker and mother of one of the alleged seducers, expressed relief over the pope’s announcement.

“For months, I feared that my boy – and the dozens of others who committed sinful acts with Father Halloran before he was moved to the safety of another parish to protect him from further temptation at their pre-pubescent hands – was going to Hell for what he’d done,”

Leahy said. “It’s the worst feeling a mother can know. But thanks to the forgiveness of the pope, my long nightmare is finally over.  He was just a boy of 8 at the time.  He didn’t know any better.  Thank you, your Holiness, for giving my poor little Timothy a second chance at redemption.”

If I’m wrong and there is a God, may he bless The Onion

Andrew Brown posts another clanger on Comment is free

13/03/2010

manicstreetpreacher wonders whether this hack can stoop any lower.

US evolutionary biologist and author of Why Evolution Is True, Jerry Coyne, recently described British science and religion journalist Andrew Brown as “The Guardian’s resident moron”.

I have been less than impressed by Brown after his pathetic attack on Sam Harrisobjection to Francis Collins’ appointment as head of the National Institute of Health, culminating in Brown quote-mining Harris’ The End of Faith something rotten to make it look like Harris endorses torture and rendition.  I can only assume that this was a dummy-spitting exercise by Brown to recoup ground from the commenters who lambasted his first piece and rallied in support for Harris.

Now, Brown has not simply scraped the bottom of the barrel, he has removed the base of said wooden container entirely and is tunnelling fast for Australia.  On 11 March 2010, Brown posted this appalling piece on The Guardian: Comment is free arguing that perhaps we are being a tad harsh on all those child sodomising Catholic priests, since the rate of child abuse among the clergy is apparently much lower than other professions.

Pinch yourself to make sure that you’re not having a bad dream:

[T]here is no doubt that a lot of children were damaged for life by priests, and that this was mostly covered up by the hierarchy until recently.  But was the Catholic church unfairly singled out?  Aren’t all children vulnerable to exploitation, especially when they are poor and unwanted?…

The most detailed statistics on child abuse for the Catholic clergy that I can find come from the John Jay Institute’s report drawn up for the American Catholic bishops’ conference.  From this it emerges that the frequency of child abuse among Catholic priests is not remarkable but its pattern is.  Although there are no figures for the number of abusers in the wider population, there are figure for the number of victims.  These vary wildly: the most pessimistic survey finds that 27% of American women and 16% of men had “a history of childhood sexual abuse”; while the the [sic] most optimistic had 12.8% of women and 4.3% of men. Obviously a great deal depends here on the definition of abuse; also on the definition of “childhood”. In some of these surveys it runs up to 18, which is a couple of years above the age of consent in Britain.

Well, if a report has been prepared for the American Catholic Bishops Conference, who are we to argue with it?

The Catholic figures show that between about 4% of priests and deacons serving in the US between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of sexual abuse of someone under 18. In this country, the figure was a 10th of that: 0.4%.  But whereas the victims in the general population are overwhelmingly female, the pattern among American Catholic priests was quite different.  Four out of five of their victims were male.  Most were adolescents: two out of five were 14 or over; 15% were under 10.

This is vile, but whether it is more vile than the record of any other profession is not obvious.  The concentration on boys makes the Catholic pattern of abuse stand out; what makes it so shocking is that parents trusted their children with priests.  They stood in for the parents.  But this isn’t all that different from the pattern in the wider world, either, where the vast majority of abuse comes from within families.  The other point that makes the Catholic abuse is that it is nowadays very widely reported.  It may be the best reported crime in the world: that, too tends to skew perceptions.

I’ll agree with Brown there.  Yes, it is extremely vile.  But there my support ends.  His post is an exercise in “Yeah, but what about…”.  Road traffic deaths kill far more people every year than deliberate homicide, so let’s get the police to withdraw all personnel and resources from investigating murders and get them to devote all their time and effort ensuring that motorists wear their seat beats and drive under the speed limits, shall we?

So why the concentration on Catholic priests and brothers?  Perhaps I am unduly cynical, but I believe that all institutions attempt to cover up institutional wrongdoing although the Roman Catholic church has had a higher opinion of itself than most, and thus a greater tendency to lie about these things.  Because it is an extremely authoritarian institution at least within the hierarchy, it is also one where there were few checks and balances on the misbehaviour of the powerful.  The scandal has been loudest and most damaging in Ireland, because it came along just at the moment when the church was losing its power over society at large, and where it was no longer able to cover up what had happened, but still willing to try.  Much the same is true in the diocese of Boston which was bankrupted by the scandal.

Perhaps I am being unduly cynical, but I think we are entitled to demand a higher standard of moral behaviour from institutions and individuals whose alleged purpose is to uphold and enforce those of us mere mortals who do not have a one-to-one with The Big Surveillance Camera In The Sky.

Rabbi David Wolpe raised this objection in a debate against Christopher Hitchens: the public is more shocked and the criticism more vitriolic when a clergyman falls into error.  Hitch’s reply was that he is not shocked at all.  The Catholic Church preaches that women are vessels of temptation, insists on celibacy, makes sex a matter of guilt and shame and comprises an all male priesthood that is based on sexual repression.  What is going to happen to the children under the care of those people?   No need to act surprised.  The Church wasn’t surprised at all.  They knew it was going on all the time which is why they covered up for it.

Hitchens’ comments are at the beginning of this tape.

And regardless of whether the abuse itself has been exaggerated or blown out of proportion in the media, there is no playing down the deliberate covering-up of the scandal by the Vatican, of which the present pope, Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, played a pivotal role by issuing a Vatican edict in 2001 while  a cardinal ordering Catholic bishops and priests were not to cooperate with the police on pain of excommunication.  Only last Tuesday (9 March 2010) the BBC’s Newsnight reported on the case of Bill Carney was named as one of the worst cases in Dublin’s Catholic diocese in the Murphy Report into clerical abuse in Ireland.  However, for the last 10 years Carney has been free to live quietly in Britain and is now hiding out in the Canary Islands.

Brown’s insulting apologia concludes thus:

Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world.  That won’t stop a steady trickle of scandals; but I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession.

Well, that’s a relief.  I’m sure that all those children and families whose lives have been ruined by the abuse and subsequent covering up by the Vatican will be consoled no end by the knowledge that it could have been worse if they were looked after by doctors and lawyers.

Brown’s vile wipe was ripped to shreds by its own commenters, and justly so.  Why does this appalling man continue to be published in the national dailies?

UPDATE 14 MARCH 2010

As I expected, Jerry Coyne has commented on Brown’s piece on his blog with typical rhetorical fire:

It’s a disgusting and self-serving piece of faitheistic tripe, and its underlying message is this: those people who attack the Catholic church for systematic child abuse are really anti-Catholic bigots.  After all, claims Brown, the Church was no worse than other abusers…

I beg to differ with Brown’s implicit conclusion.  The concentration on Catholic priests and brothers comes from the shocking institutionalization of that abuse: the consistent efforts of Church officials, who knew full well about the abuse, to cover it up and, sometimes, simply transfer abusers to new places.  Yes, other professions sometimes cover up child abuse, but not, I think, on such a massive scale.  I am not aware of this kind of cover-up being endemic to American public schools, for example.

And what Brown fails to grasp is that the abuse is doubly shocking because it was committed by those priests to whom parents not only entrusted their children, but entrusted them to inculcate in those children a sense of morality.  The outrage comes from seeing that those who were supposed to serve as role models – as paragons of morality – systematically abused that trust in the most heinous ways.  And perhaps the Church’s ridiculous policy of celibacy contributed to this abuse.

Fortunately, Brown’s commenters – as usual – take him apart.  It must be disheartening for the Resident Moron to watch, week after week, as his readers chew his tuchus to pieces.  Maybe the Guardian keeps him on because his continuing idiocy promotes traffic on their website.  But really, how can a reputable paper tolerate such witless garbage?  Do the editors have any notion of what should pass for decent commentary?

Nice one, Jerry.  The words “asshole”, “new” and “rip” spring to mind.

Addendum to “The Hitler Meme”

11/03/2010

manicstreetpreacher wants to know what the hell is going on!

I have just added the following text to the beginning of my post entitled “The Hitler Meme” and invite any and all comments.

UPDATE: 11 MARCH 2010

I have been writing this blog for just over a year now.  I love blogging.  It is a very involving hobby that has expanded my mind and made me engage with a wealth of new issues relating to science, history, politics and philosophy.  I love the buzz you get when the notification email arrives when someone has posted a reply to a thread, links to one of your posts on their blog, sends a message of praise or constructive criticism.  I love the feeling of, “Perhaps this argument will make me change my mind?”

Of which posts am I most proud?  Well, my report of the Hitchens/ Fry debate on the Catholic Church in October ’09 had a lot of views and comments.  My rubbishing of William Dembski’s Intelligent Design “theory” ranks very high as well.  Just to think, I nearly gave up on it halfway through I was so bored, and then an “unsolicited” email to Dembski’s college account and it ended up on his Uncommon Descent blog not once, but twice!  Victor Stenger liked my analysis of his 2003 debate against William Lane Craig so much that he posted it on his own website and from where I get c. 20 referrals per day.  And of course there’s my castigation of Craig’s appalling interpretation of Yahweh’s commandment to his chosen people to wipe out every single one of the Canaanites of which I am rather pleased.

Are any of these my highest viewed post?  No.  My highest viewed post is THIS: the result of a rainy Saturday afternoon dossing on YouTube coming across an Internet craze butchering the best scene in a brilliant study of history’s most infamous tyrant.

Posted on 26 August 2009.  11,700 views and counting.  It’s getting ridiculous!!

The Hitchens/ Fry debate report was my PB with c. 600 views in one day.  Now it is “The Hitler Meme” which has been getting 700+ per day of late.  I really can’t explain why it is getting so many views.  No one has left a comment.  The post hasn’t been linked on any other blog or website.  My WordPress stats monitor says that viewers are finding it through the search engine term “hitler”.  Except I have searched for it on Google and it doesn’t come up in the first 10 pages of hits!?!?!?!?!?!

Anyone viewing this post now, how are you finding this page?  What’s so great about it?  Please leave some comments and put me out of my misery!

I don’t know whether to delete the post yet, but I may well do so.  This is just getting silly!  Answers in the comments box, please.

“Genocide? No. Deicide? Yes!”

01/01/2010

manicstreetpreacher analyses the fanatical pronouncements of an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier and a current bishop in the Roman Catholic Church.

As with so many of the quotes on my blog, I owe the title of this post to Christopher Hitchens.  During his October massacre of the Catholic Church with Stephen Fry in London, Hitch used the sound bite to describe the views of Bishop Richard (or “Roger” as Hitchens bizarrely called him on the night) Williamson; a member of Marcel Lefebvre’s ultraconservative Catholic sect, Society of St Pius X (SSPX), who was excommunicated along with several other members of “his rat bag organisation” in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, but was readmitted by the current pontiff, Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, in January 2009:

Williamson… has long been a believer that – I’ll put this shortly – that the Holocaust did not occur, but the Jews did kill Christ.  In word others, “Genocide?  No.  Deicide?  Yes!”

I realise that I am weighing in rather late in the day with this one, but at the Hitchens/ Fry debate, Catholic defender, Ann Widdecombe, chided Hitchens for grossly misrepresenting the Church in his opening address.  Widdecombe was adamant that Williamson had been ordered to recant his views by Ratzinger before his readmission.  However this post presents a series of video clips and articles on Williamson’s views.  It beggars belief as to why Ratzinger not only readmitted Williamson, but did not re-excommunicate him PDQ once the full picture of his views came into the public domain.

Denying the Holocaust

Below is the longest version I could find of the notorious interview on Swedish television that Williamson gave just days before his readmission to the Church.  I apologise for the clip being hosted by neo-Nazi scum who clearly sympathise with Williamson, as do many of the commenters.  However, there are some good refutations of Williamson there as well, particularly in relation to the utterly bogus and debunked Leuchter Report into the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

The interview was filmed in Schierling, south of Regensburg, Germany, and you’ll see that he knows full well that he is guilty of an act of anti-Semitic hatred by pleading with the interviewer not to report him to the German authorities.

9/11 was a setup by the US government

This next one is an audio clip of a sermon Williamson gave in London in 2007 where the deranged cleric insists that the attacks against the USA on 11 September 2001 were a government inside job as per the ridiculous cut n paste Internet film, Loose Change.  Notice how he refers to a 9/11 “mysteries” website where his parishioners can learn more if they so wish…

…because in this next montage of his ravings, he denounces the Internet as the biggest source of lies that the world has ever concocted.

Views and opinions

For a summary of yet more of Williamson’s crackpot views, see this post on the Fringe Watch blog.  Unfortunately, most of the links are now dead.  SSPX have clearly removed many of his sermons and newsletters in light of the scandal.  However, this shocking piece from 2005 on the civil unrest in France is a good indication of Williamson’s ultraconservative views:

This immigration has taken place in France, Great Britain, Germany and also the USA, amongst other countries, especially since World War Two, for two main reasons. Firstly, the Europeans in these countries wanted to enjoy the conveniences of materialism without the inconvenience of having babies.  So there were not enough workers for their factories or for all the menial tasks henceforth beneath their dignity as university graduates, university degrees having become as common as daisies.  Secondly the enemies of God, seeing as usual farther ahead than His friends, foresaw in the immigration of an alien population a great means of diluting the national identity of countries which by their long and proud history risked not easily being absorbed into the Antichrist’s New World Order…

For if they had kept the Faith of St Paul, they would never have let themselves be deceived by the liberals’ false equality and charity, which are no more than a parody of Christian equality and charity.  St Paul says, “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 27, 28).  Similarly, “…putting on the new man, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of Him Who created him.  Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3: 10, 11).

Notice how in each of these quotations, St Paul frames the equality of different human races, classes and sexes within Christ.  In other words the equality is before God, and will only be fulfilled in Heaven.  St Paul would never have dreamt of denying or wiping out the inequality of human differences before men.  As to the inequality in this life between Jew and Greek, see Romans and Galatians; between bond and free, see Philemon; between man and woman, see Ephesians and Colossians.  The will of God for men on earth is that Catholic save Jew, that the man free look after the bondsman and that the man be head of the woman.  So when the white men give up on saving Jews, looking after other races and leading their womenfolk, it is altogether normal for them to be punished respectively by the domination of Jewish finance, by the refusal to follow of the non-white races and by rampant feminism.

For by refusing Christ, these whites no longer understand the divine dimension of the true equality between men.  Retaining however from Christianity, because it suits their pride, the sense of the value of every man, then all eternity’s equality has to be squeezed into this little life on earth, where it necessarily crushes the hierarchies willed by God between races, classes, and sexes.  So by affirming the equality of men without Christ and without eternal life, these white men betray alike Jew and bond and woman.

In chronological order, before Christ, nobody in their senses would have dreamt of denying the inequality of different races, classes and sexes.  When Christ came, nobody in their senses imagined that men’s equality in Christ wiped out these differences, it transcended or rose above them.  However post-Christian modern man, by refusing anything transcendent or anyone above him, has lost all grip on reality, and in all likelihood it will take rather more than a few thousand cars getting burnt for him to see straight once more.

Then what?  Then we need to pray that the much greater disasters soon to take place will open as many eyes as possible, to save as many souls as possible, and if the white men still refuse to convert, let us pray for some great conversions amongst Jews, Muslims and blacks so that they may take over where the whites have left off, and may continue to show us the way to Heaven.  So long as God is served, all honor to His servants, of any race, class or sex!

Such paranoid ravings could have come from a member of a pagan, fascistic political party.

Catholic blogger for The Daily Telegraph website and editor of The Catholic Herald, Damien Thompson, had it right:

This is a truly appalling man. I realised this last year, when – in a fruitless attempt to warn the Vatican what he was like – I commissioned a front-page exposé of his poisonous anti-Semitism in The Catholic Herald.  Like most Holocaust deniers, Williamson has a soft spot for the Third Reich: that much is clear from his pathetic diatribe against The Sound of Music, of all films, for painting the German authorities in an unsympathetic light…

The SSPX has known for many years that one of its four bishops was a Far Right conspiracy theorist.  It was irritated by him, it pushed him to the margins – but it allowed him to continue exercising episcopal ministry in the Society.  That is a scandal that its leader, the arrogant Bishop Bernard Fellay, has never got round to addressing…

No one who supports the Holy Father should have any dealings with Richard Williamson. If he wants a congregation, let him set up his soapbox at Speakers’ Corner and gibber about Jews and Freemasons alongside all the other nutjobs.  I personally volunteer to heckle him.

The article in The Catholic Herald to which Thompson refers is worth the effort, if only for compiling the sayings of this raving loon:

In accordance with their false messianic vocation of Jewish world-domination, the Jews are preparing the Anti-Christ’s throne in Jerusalem.

Can you imagine Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music staying with the Captain if the romance went out of their marriage?  Would she not divorce him and grab his children to be her toys?  All the elements of pornography are there…

This is my diagnosis of the Unabomber.  You may say what you like about him as a criminal terrorist, and much of it is true…  But he still has a remotely Catholic sense of how technology brutalises man.  How Catholic are those technophiles who wallow at ease in their computers?  Give me the Unabomber’s seriousness over their shallowness, any day of the week.

A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman.  Did this lawyeress check her hairdo before coming into court?  If she did, she is a distracted lawyer.  If she did not, she is one distorted woman.

Williamson was given a nod of approval from the Institute for Historical Review… which happens to be one of the world’s most prominent Holocaust denial outfits:

The Williamson affair underscores a great social-political danger – not the danger of dissent or of historical error, but rather of ruthlessly enforced orthodoxy.  Far more harmful than Williamson’s unconventional views about crimes committed, or not committed, more than 60 years ago is the well – organized global campaign, backed with the power of police and courts, that demands submission to an instrumentalized and dogmatically-presented view of one chapter of history.  This campaign is an expression of a hypocritical double standard that makes a mockery of the pretentions of “democratic” states to uphold freedom of speech and expression.

A society’s real hierarchy of values, and of power, is shown by what it prohibits. The Williamson affair underscores a well-entrenched Jewish-Zionist bias in the cultural life of modern Western society, and reminds us, once again, of the power behind that bias.

Poor Bishop Williamson is being hounded by the powers that be who want to preserve the memory of one of the greatest crimes against humanity in deliberate defiance to heroes like Norman Finkelstein who say that they are only profiting from a “Holocaust Industry”.   Yeah.

Not a very sincere sounding apology

According to an article on The Huffington Post, Bishop Williamson said that he was sorry to the Pope for the upset his comments had caused, but did not retract them.  On the contrary, comments reported by Der Spiegel were:

Since I see that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must look again at the historical evidence…  It is about historical evidence, not about emotions…  And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself.  But that will take time.

The magazine suggested that he could make a personal visit to Auschwitz, set up by the Nazis in occupied Poland, which stands as the most powerful symbol of the Holocaust. More than 1 million people, mostly Jews, died there.  Williamson replied, “I will not go to Auschwitz”.

Indeed, Williamson consulted the world’s most notorious “historian”, David Irving for tips on how best to express his appalling views.  Irving is of course infamous for his disastrous 2000 libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt, who branded him as Holocaust denier in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, as well as his imprisonment in Austria 2006 for breaking hate-speech laws:

He is not a Holocaust denier.  Like me, he does not buy the whole package…  About a week ago I sent him a lengthy email telling him what he could safely say.  He should not be quoted as saying things which are not tenable.  I sent two pages telling him what is incontrovertible fact.  I got a message back thanking me…  He is obviously a very intelligent man who did not realise the danger of talking to the press.

The exchange of emails between Williamson and Irving, together with photographs of the two of them at a party hosted by Irving can be seen in this article.  It also contains other useful links of Williamson’s ties with other notorious Holocaust deniers, not least of whom is Michèle Renouf.

In February, shortly after his readmission to the Church, Williamson was given ten days to leave his hideout in Argentina due to his comments on Swedish television which caused great distress to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel.

Eventually, Williamson issued a formal written apology for his comments on Swedish TV.  Below is the full text to Williamson’s supposed retraction of his anti-Semitic rewriting of history:

The Holy Father and my Superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, have requested that I reconsider the remarks I made on Swedish television four months ago, because their consequences have been so heavy.

Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.

On Swedish television I gave only the opinion (…“I believe”…  …“I believe”…) of a non-historian, an opinion formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since.

However, the events of recent weeks and the advice of senior members of the Society of St Pius X have persuaded me of my responsibility for much distress caused.  To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize.

As the Holy Father has said, every act of injust [sic] violence against one man hurts all mankind.

Richard Williamson,
London, 26 February, 2009

I don’t think I’m being overly cynical by saying that Bishop Williamson has chosen his words very carefully indeed and has simply apologised for the hurt feelings caused by him publically expressing his opinions based on an honest and sincerely held belief.  Nowhere in the statement does he say that he repudiates his actual belief that the Holocaust did not occur.  And quite frankly, for a man who is nearly 70 years old who has expressed such views at all in the recent past, the phrase “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” springs to mind.

Latest on Williamson

Williamson has been in the papers again recently when in October he was charged with Holocaust denial by German prosecutors and in November when he refused to pay a £12,000 fine for his comments on Swedish TV:

Under the German legal system, he was served with an ‘order of punishment’ informing him of the penalty.

Such orders are intended to cut down on bureaucracy and costs if both sides agree with the fine, which also would mean a criminal conviction.

But Williamson did not agree.  He is to appeal, paving the way for a full hearing which could prove highly embarrassing for the church once more – even though Williamson can absent himself from proceedings to be represented just by his lawyer.

A trial judge will demand to know why he believes that six million Jews were not murdered by the Nazis and on what facts he bases his views on.

In conclusion – Sorry, Miss Widdecombe, but I’ll stick with the Hitch

Williamson is clearly continuing to court controversy with his suborn refusal to admit to the true nature and harmful effects of his views.    Indeed, my research indicates that he has not properly recanted his views on the Holocaust.  His recent refusal to pay the fine imposed on him by the German authorities is final confirmation of this.

Ann Widdecombe’s rather lame defence of Ratzinger at the Intelligence Squared debate on the Catholic Church took the form of an attack on Hitchens’ research and presentation.  She implied that Hitchens had twisted the facts when she said that Ratzinger had made Williamson recant his views before readmitting him to the fold.  I hope that this post has shown that this is most definitely not the case.

I am going to stick with Hitchens’ analysis that Williamson is a fanatic, a racist and an anti-Semite.  But for Ratzinger, Church unity is more important for him than the unsanitary consequences of having this fraud and liar in the community, regardless of the things that he has said, and done, and continues to stand for.

For shame indeed.

New Zealand Christians outraged by poster of Mary and Joseph after sex

17/12/2009

manicstreetpreacher: LMFAO

I have come across this hilarious article on The Daily Telegraph website regarding the poster below which was vandalised after being displayed at a church in Auckland, New Zealand:

The large poster depicts a dejected-looking Joseph lying next to Mary, whose eyes are turned heavenwards, under the words: “Poor Joseph.  God was a hard act to follow.”…

Within hours of the billboard being erected outside the Anglican church of St Matthew’s in the City, in central Auckland, it had been attacked by a man who clambered on to the roof of his car to smear brown paint over it.

As a result it was almost obliterated and the church, which describes itself as “progressive”, is seeking a replacement.

Archdeacon Glynn Cardy said the billboard was intended to lampoon the literal interpretation of the Christmas conception story “and that somehow this male God impregnated Mary”.

“What we’re trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about,” he said.

“We actually think God is about the power of love as shown in Jesus, which is something quite different than a literal man up in the sky.”…

St Matthew’s was inundated with angry phone calls and emails soon after the billboard appeared at a busy street corner on Thursday.

The poster also sparked a barrage of comments to radio stations and on internet websites.

Among leading critics was Lyndsay Freer, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, who said: “This is disrespectful and offensive to all Christians.

“It’s flying in the face of our 2,000-year-old beliefs,” she said.

Too flaming right!  This is a piece of blasphemy up there with the infamous Mary Whitehouse –v- Lemon & Gay News poem by James Kirkup, The Love that Dares to Speak Its Name, depicting homosexual necrophilia on the body of Christ and the BBC’s showing of Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Someone deserves to be canonised into the gallery comedic terrorists!

UPDATE: RichardDawkins.net has posted the story after I forwarded them the link.  Some of the comments are hilarious:

Comment #442632 by Rosbif on December 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

If God made man in his own image, size couldn’t be the problem.

Comment #442637 by Art Vandelay on December 17, 2009 at 6:51 pm

And guess who’s name she was calling out all the way through…?

Comment #442665 by chameleonpete on December 17, 2009 at 7:37 pm

it just demands a caption comp…..

Yey again Mary and Joseph argued about who was sleeping in the wet patch

or

Mary was getting sick of Joseph’s nun fetish.

Comment #442679 by SaintStephen on December 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Damn… missed the obvious one:

Is carpenter Joe having trouble getting wood?

Comment #442682 by squinky on December 17, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Caption: Years after being married, Joseph’s advances are again rebuffed by Mary the virgin.  Again, Joseph must rub one out.

Comment #442692 by root2squared on December 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Caption: Joseph wished he could cure headaches instantaneously like god.

Comment #442708 by GODisNOT on December 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Joy to the world, the lord has cumm! :)) 😉

One commenter has submitted an improved version of the picture:

Another commenter has posted a link to this hilarious picture which is in a similar vein:

And another commenter has submitted NZ newspaper articles before and after the paint attack.

Finally, one commenter has managed to make a serious point:

Comment #442671 by sibias1978 on December 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

It is somewhat distressing to recall that three years ago every single newspaper in Great Britain had refrained from publishing the Danish cartoons on Muhammad in a grotesque display of cowardice and appeasement.  Religion rarely deserves the respect it asks of non-believers or the reverence it demands from believers.   However when ridicule is directed at one particular religion while simultaneously ensuring that it provokes the least amount of backlash it becomes difficult to applaud.

Richard Dawkins and A C Grayling Debate Atheist Fundamentalism Against the Sweet Mediocrity of Our Native Church

22/11/2009

manicstreetpreacher wets the appetite for his next live debate on religion.

UPDATE 03/12/2009: My afterthought piece of the debate, with video and audio links is here.

Having just about recovered from the other-worldly experience of witnessing Hitchens and Fry exact retribution on a biblical scale against the Catholic Church in London at the end of last month, I am geared up to attend my next live debate.

This time, two of Britain’s finest atheist writers, zoologist Richard Dawkins of Oxford University and philosopher A C Grayling of Birkbeck College, University of London go head-to-head against former Anglican Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, and former editor of The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator Charles Moore to debate the topic “Is Atheism the New Fundamentalism?” The moderator is Dr Antony Seldon, Master of Wellington College.

The debate is being held at on Sunday, 29 November 2009.   The doors open 6pm and the debate starts at 7pm.

Once again, Intelligence Squared is hosting the debate.

The venue is Wellington College, Berkshire:

Wellington College
Duke’s Ride
Crowthorne
Berkshire
RG45 7PU

Tel: 01344 444 000
Fax: 01344 444 002

Email: info@wellingtoncollege.org.uk
Web: www.wellingtoncollege.org.uk
Event page: http://www.wellingtoncollege.org.uk/page.aspx?id=8686

Previous form

Richard Dawkins needs no introduction!  However, this is a rare public debate for him.  Dawkins writes in The God Delusion that he rarely takes part in formal debates because he is not a confrontational person and feels that the adversary format is ill-suited to discover the truth.  Dawkins also refuses to debate creationists because if one of them shared a platform with a prominent evolutionary biologist, it would give the lay pubic the impression that there was a serious issue worth debating!  For the creationists, winning or losing the debate is irrelevant: the victory is that the debate has gone ahead at all.  Dawkins has no desire to provide them with the oxygen of publicity.

However, there are still plenty of debates Dawkins has participated in that are worth investigating.

Dawkins and Grayling teamed up with the Hitch to debate against – as Dawkins later put it – three “rather half-hearted religious apologists (‘Of course I don’t believe in a God with a long white beard, but…’)” on whether “We would all be better off without religion”, the audio of which can be accessed here, or on YouTube:

You can read a review of the event by a pleasantly-surprised believing journalist, Ruth Gledhill, The Times’ religious affairs correspondent here.

Incidentally, Charles Moore, who is standing up for God on this occasion, wrote of that debate:

Although I voted against the motion both times, I think the shift of votes was justified, on the basis of the speeches.  All six spoke well, but the opponents of religion were more eloquent, more passionate, more – odd though it sounds to say it – believing.

The last big debate Dawkins took part in was on 21 October 2008 at the Oxford University Museum of natural history against Oxford University mathematician and Christian John Lennox.  The audio of the debate can be accessed at RichardDawkins.net here.

Dawkins and Lennox also had a closed-door conversation on religion and science earlier in the year with only a tape recorder present, the audio for which can be accessed here.  As American biologist and blogwit, P Z Myers concluded:

Dawkins just probes with a few pointed questions, and Lennox, a theologian, babbles on and on and on, asserting the most amazing things.  All those miracles in the bible?  They literally happened – he doesn’t hide behind metaphor and poetry.  Water into wine, resurrections, walking on water… it all actually happened, exactly as written, and further, he claims that all of these accounts represent historically valid evidence.  This is the sophisticated theology we godless atheists are always skipping over, I guess.

Dawkins’ debate with then head of the Human Genome Project and evangelical Christian for the pages of Time magazine in 2006 is worth a read:

DAWKINS: I accept that there may be things far grander and more incomprehensible than we can possibly imagine.  What I can’t understand is why you invoke improbability and yet you will not admit that you’re shooting yourself in the foot by postulating something just as improbable, magicking into existence the word God.

COLLINS: My God is not improbable to me.  He has no need of a creation story for himself or to be fine-tuned by something else. God is the answer to all of those “How must it have come to be” questions.

DAWKINS: I think that’s the mother and father of all cop-outs.  It’s an honest scientific quest to discover where this apparent improbability comes from.  Now Dr Collins says, “Well, God did it. And God needs no explanation because God is outside all this.”  Well, what an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don’t do that.  Scientists say, “We’re working on it. We’re struggling to understand.”

Dawkins and Richard Harries had a very civilised discussion for Dawkins’ 2006 Channel 4 documentary, Root of All Evil? (Part 1 / Part 2).  The full uncut interview can be viewed below:

They also debated Darwin and Christianity at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on Darwin Day 2009:

And let’s not forget that Dawkins and Harries both signed an open letter to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair to protest against the head of new-fangled city academy Emmanuel College, Gateshead, after the head of the science department (!), Stephen Layfield delivered a lecture proposing that young earth creationism and flood geology be taught in science classes:

Dear Prime Minister

We write as a group of scientists and Bishops to express our concern about the teaching of science in the Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead.  Evolution is a scientific theory of great explanatory power, able to account for a wide range of phenomena in a number of disciplines.  It can be refined, confirmed and even radically altered by attention to evidence.  It is not, as spokesmen for the college maintain, a ‘faith position’ in the same category as the biblical account of creation which has a different function and purpose.

The issue goes wider than what is currently being taught in one college.  There is a growing anxiety about what will be taught and how it will be taught in the new generation of proposed faith schools.  We believe that the curricula in such schools, as well as that of Emmanuel City Technical College, need to be strictly monitored in order that the respective disciplines of science and religious studies are properly respected.

Yours sincerely

The Right Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
Sir David Attenborough, FRS
The Right Reverend Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans
Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society
Professor John Enderby, FRS, Physical Secretary, Royal Society
The Right Reverend John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford
The Right Reverend Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham
Sir Neil Chalmers, Director, Natural History Museum
The Right Reverend Thomas Butler, Bishop of Southwark
Sir Martin Rees, FRS, Astronomer Royal
The Right Reverend Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
Professor Patrick Bateson, FRS, Biological Secretary, Royal Society
The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth
Sir Richard Southwood, FRS, Past Biological Secretary, Royal Society
Sir Francis Graham-Smith, FRS, Past Physical Secretary, Royal Society
Professor Richard Dawkins, FRS

Aside from that, Dawkins had a public discussion at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival in 2007 with Anglican theologian Alistair McGrath following the publication of The God Delusion and McGrath’s reply (if that’s the right word for it), The Dawkins Delusion? (McGrath’s effort is terrible, even by the low standards of the “fleas”.  Paula Kirby does the book justice in her “Fleabytes” review of four Christian responses to The God Delusion.)

However, the real treat is Dawkins’ full uncut interview with McGrath for Root of All Evil?

None of the footage was used in the final version of the programme.  McGrath claimed it was because he had landed several blows on Dawkins and made him “appear uncomfortable”.  My theory is that the producers were concerned for the well-being of viewers who might be operating heavy machinery while watching it.  McGrath is horrendously boring and babbles incomprehensibly.  One blogger at RD.net summed up his style thus:

A fly on the wall in the McGrath household:

MRS McGRATH: What would you like for dinner, dear?

MR McGRATH: Well, if I can just come back on that actually, I think you’ve raised a very interesting point, pivotal to the way this discussion should continue.  This is certainly something that needs to be engaged with and explored further.  It seems to me that there are areas we can push into here that can challenge us and I welcome that.  When I was an atheist, these on-going philosophical subjects were subject to different interpretations and perspectives so, suffice to say, the Christian faith has fortified me and others to take all of these very very very interesting points into account and offer an explanation such as this: Egg and chips will be fine, love.

MRS McGRATH: I’m leaving you.

Nevertheless, try and stay awake because Dawkins uses his wonderful brand of pithy sarcasm, to which McGrath is seemingly oblivious.  And the knock-out punch comes at 45 minutes when Dawkins nails him whether God intervened to save one child in a tsunami that claimed the lives of thousands.  As one blogger commenting on the interview’s entry on RD.net put it:

For 45 minutes it’s a gentle game of ping pong and then when it comes to the issue god and suffering McGrath’s arms get tired and Dawkins switches to a tennis racket.  At 50 minutes McGrath is undone.

Magic!

A C Grayling is a slightly less-known quantity to me.  I have read a few of his books and seen some of his debates and lectures and can recommend the following to whet your appetites.

Against All Gods is Grayling’s contribution to the New Atheism.  It is brief – more of a pamphlet than a book – but there are some real gems in it.  Of particular interest to the topic at hand is Grayling’s rubbishing the concept of “atheist fundamentalism” by asking what a non-fundamentalist atheist is: someone who sort of doesn’t, but not quite not believes in God?!  Grayling also predicts that far from seeing a resurgence of religion, we are actually witnessing its death-throes; a violent convulsion before it’s gone for good.

Grayling is a champion of the enlightenment and wrote Towards the Light in celebration of rationalism’s conquest over dogma.  Be sure to read his hilarious exchanges with wedge-driving ID hack from the ironically-named Discovery Institute, Steve Fuller over Grayling’s damning review of Fuller’s Dissent Over DescentGrayling’s reply to Fuller’s indignant response to his review contained this all-time classic which I have quoted myself on at least one occasion:

Steve Fuller complains, as do all authors whose books are panned, that I did not read his book properly (or at all).  Alas, I did.

Grayling’s appearance at Beyond Belief 2008 on Human Flourishing and Eudaimonics is also worth watching:

Although it has nothing to do with religion, Grayling’s discussion with Christopher Hitchens on the moral implication of the Allies’ devastating bombing campaign against civilians of the Axis powers during World War II at the Goethe-Institut, Washington in 2006 following the publication of Grayling’s Among The Dead Cities is a real treat.   It’s on YouTube in 11 parts or you can watch it on FORA.tv and C-Span.

Predictions for this one

Unlike the rhetorical slaughter by Hitchens and Fry of the Vatican, which I predicted in advance of the actual event, I feel that this one will be too close to call.  Probably both sides will come away claiming victory.  Dawkins and Grayling are far more cordial and polite in comparison to Hitchens’ bull-in-a-china-shop/ take-no-prisoners approach at the lectern.

However, I hope that the two heretics will push the point that atheists are offended by what they read in the holy books of the world’s religions and how this is put into practice all too literally by millions of believers the world over, whether it be  indoctrinating their children into thinking that their non-Catholic/Protestant/Muslim/Jewish [delete as applicable] friends will suffer an eternity in hellfire, to ploughing millions dollars every year into spreading creationism – money that would be far better spent on potentially life-saving scientific research – or flying aeroplanes into skyscrapers.

I know what these books say because I’ve read them.  Why should we respect the utterly ridiculous claim that they could only have been authored by an omnipotent deity?  Why shouldn’t we get angry when such ideas are granted special privilege in public discourse?

The idea that we must automatically “respect” other people’s ideas is complete nonsense.  It is a special favour granted only to religious faith.  In every other area of conversation we most certainly do not respect people’s views and opinions.  If one member of the panel wanted to promulgate their honest, sincere, faith-based claim that the Holocaust never happened, that National Socialism was the only proper form of government, or even something less sinister such as Elvis was still alive, is that a view that the audience would “respect”?  Of course not!

In every other conversational topic we demand good reasons.  We demand evidence.  Reason and evidence really are contagious.  If you give good reasons, people will accept your claims as they accept the colour of your hair.  Religious faith is a reason not to give reasons.  It is a conversation stopper.  Even if the New Atheists are completely wrong about the existence of God and the negative effects of religion upon society, they have at the very least helped moved religious faith into the same sphere.

Perhaps into ten years time whenever someone opens their mouth or puts pen to paper in criticism of religion, this will be accepted as if they had criticised a political ideology as opposed the hysterical responses of the present day where theists and atheists alike rush to publish books and articles denouncing the “shrillness” and “stridency” of those brave few who dare speak out.

At the very least, I hope I get the chance to thank Dawkins for his very kind comment that I was “most certainly not boring” during my appearance on Premier’s Christian Radio’s religious sceptics’ debate show Unbelievable? with author of The Dawkins Letters (another “flea” response to The God Delusion), Pastor David Robertson and former-atheist-converted-to-Christianity, Richard Morgan.

It’s on YouTube in 11 parts or you can watch it on FORA.tv and C-Span.