Daily Archives: March 31, 2010

Why They Left the Faith, part II

John W. Loftus recently made a post detailing why he and the Debunking Christianity staff left the Christian faith. I posted brief answers to the dilemmas that Loftus touched on here. At the end of the post, Loftus invites more deconversion stories in the comments. I thought I’d look at some selected deconversion stories. Starting with Lee, who said:

I left because I could no longer believe the old testament “laws” actually came from God . . . they’re too primitive, too unjust, too much like witch-doctoring. And my realization came when I was doing my regular “read through the Bible” routine. “Wait a minute–I don’t believe this–this can’t be true . . .” and then the whole house of cards came tumbling down.

Starting off with argument from outrage. By what standard are OT laws “too primitive, too unjust, too much like witch-doctoring”? By modern standards. That means the underlying assumption here is that our society is right, and their society is wrong. Reading between the lines, Lee seems to be saying that they would have been better off if they were more modern–like us. This is known as cultural imperialism.

To understand the OT laws fully, we need to understand the context of the society in which they were written. Compared to other ANE cultures, the OT laws were head-and-shoulders above what the rest of Canaan was practicing. If you were a citizen of the Palestinian region in the time of Mosaic law, you wanted to be an Israelite.

Paul Copan has a great article answering this objection here. Read the rest of this entry

Media Sensationalism and the New Pedophile Priest Scandals

Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the Catholic pedophile priest scandals that seem to be a dime a dozen now. This piece first came to my attention via Atheist Revolution, writing:

A priest molested 200 deaf boys and was ignored by Ratzinger. 200 deaf boys. Just when I think this sick enterprise cannot possibly get any worse, we learn not only that this happened but that the victims have spent 30 years of their lives trying to get the church to pay attention to them!

Then Cardinal Ratzinger was informed about this abuse and chose to look the other way. How can anyone reconcile this with the whole infallibility thing?

Regular readers know that I’m not apt to defend the Catholic Church. I am deeply sickened by moving priests who molest little boys from diocese to diocese, hoping no one will actually catch on. I’m sympathetic to the missions of SNAP and BishopAccountability.org. I think that something needs to change.

That said, I also believe in correctly representing those that you criticize. Dowd isn’t doing that at all. Neither is Vjack.

But should it surprise me? Nope. I’ve proven Vjack wrong before, and he keeps repeating the same mistakes. I’m thinking that he’s not going to take the correction here, either.

With regards to “the whole infallibility thing,” papal infallibility should be properly defined.

Papal infallibility is the dogma in Roman Catholic theology that, by action of the Holy Spirit, the Pope is preserved from even the possibility of error when he solemnly declares or promulgates to the universal Church a dogmatic teaching on faith or morals as being contained in divine revelation, or at least being intimately connected to divine revelation.

And it goes on:

This dogma, however, does not state either that the Pope cannot sin in his own personal life or that he is necessarily free of error, even when speaking in his official capacity, outside the specific contexts in which the dogma applies.

Not to mention that the actions which Vjack wishes to contrast with papal infallibility occured when Benedict was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, before he was Pope. This is not a valid comparison. Even so, no one has ever claimed that the Pope is free of sin, only that he cannot teach error (though I should remind everyone that I disagree with that position vehemently).

But, Catholic theology aside, what about the fact that the future Pope looked the other way when faced with this case? Thing is, he probably didn’t. This is being misrepresented by the media. Grossly. Jimmy Akin has analyzed the available documents and presents a more accurate version of events here.

Again, I’m no fan of the Catholic Church. It seems to me that some of the criticisms in the Father Murphy case are unwarranted. But, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this man did molest boys by his own admission. He still deserved more punishment than just being moved to another diocese, though since he had to live with his mother some may argue that may have been punishment enough.

Both the civil authorities and the Catholic Church are to blame here. The police knew about the case and had investigated, but nothing ever came of it. And the Church should have done much more than just move Murphy to another diocese and call it a day.

Was it really necessary to open a trial with the purpose of defrocking an ill and frail old man who is a threat to no one some 30 years after the offenses took place? If civil authorites built a case against a murderer who had killed someone 30 years ago and recently suffered a second stroke leaving him in poor health, no one would bat an eyelash if the authorities elected to not prosecute the offender. Why is this different? (I’m really looking forward to your answers.)