Wednesday 11 July 2007

The Most Intolerent Of Creeds

Ultimately, there is very simple way to categorise faith beliefs.
First is the key question:
Do you know whether or not there is a deity or deities.
If the answer is no, or you aren't sure whether you know, you are an agnostic.
If the answer is yes, you think you do know the answer FOR SURE, you have a definite faith.
Because that's the only way you KNOW the answer.

Now, I'll be honest I have a definite faith, as some of you may be aware.
I don't ram it down people's throats- It's my faith, not yours.
I'm certain in my own mind that I'm right, but I can also see where certain other faiths could equally be right.
Having read the Koran and the teachings of Buddha, I firmly believe both were prophets inspired by God in their own right.

But I also believe- crucially- that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and that he died to redeem man from sin.
I also believe that he left behind him a body of apostles to carry on his work. Like any body of men over time, not all it's members did good in it's name (Judas Iscariot would be a starting point), but that did not mean that it failed in its mission, a mission that continues today.
I do firmly believe His Holiness Benedict XVI to be the spritual successor of St Peter, and the leader of the 'One Catholic (meaning universal) Apostolic (as in the community of the apostles) Church.

I could be way off the mark. I acknowledge that. Which is why I tend to keep my religion to myself.
I think it's a good idea if people do.

But not all those with faith beliefs feel the same. Muslims get reviled much for that failing, though Fundamentalist Protestants are often as bad.
But worse by far are those who believe as a matter of faith that there ISN'T a God.

Which is equally a matter of faith as saying there is.
Go and ask most physicists. They'll agree.
Empirically both statements are equally provable (or unprovable) scientifically.

I don't mind Atheists, as long they keep their opinions to themselves too.
And as long as they don't treat MY faith with disrespect, simply because there is nothing to disrespect in theirs. It's a low tactic in rational discussion.

Of all creeds, Atheists tend to show most intolerance and least sensitivity. Catholics are an easy target, because no one minds if we get offended. It doesn't have racial associations becuse we're the most global of faiths.
And of course, there's a strong existing cultural slant against Catholicism to tap into anyway.

The Atheist doesn't seek debate with the Catholic, he seeks to belittle him, to insult the things a Catholic holds dear.

Even if you don't happen to believe the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, Fifteen percent of mankind do.
But the Atheist isn't concerned about the feelings of these people.

To me personally, this is almost as offensive as calling my mother a whore.
And then they have the nerve to talk about religous hatred.

Still, perhaps for me the final word was had, many years ago, by a New Testament writer. One of my favorite passages, one especially disliked by Luther, who disliked its Free Will implications.

'What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?
So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. '

I think that says it all.


Anonymous said...

I try ot keep religion out of things because people are just close-minded and dumb. I am protestant (actually more spiritiual than anything), not a supporter of Catholicism (personal beliefs), but I can still respect that others are not the "same" as me. I don't care what religion you are...just be a decent human.

Anonymous said...

Pope Benedict seemed keen to pick a fight with the rest of the Christian world this week.

No time like a period of religous;y inspired war to make some new enemies...

Anonymous said...

I tried to read all of the comments on the other blog but there's only so much rambling one person can take. This line caught my attention though:

I have to agree with Chris that rasing children by putting the fear of God into them is child abuse.

Just crazy. I won't get into the details of what Christianity teaches, but that is the equivalent of saying that teaching children to obey the law is child abuse... Crazy.

I don't agree with what you say here though much either:

Which is why I tend to keep my religion to myself.
I think it's a good idea if people do.

Why? Isn't the whole basis of Christianity to spread the word of Jesus? The myth of a seperation between church and state is just that ... a myth. The American constitution couldn't have existed without faith, nor would the Iraq war, nor would the entire enlightenment. Politics is about ethical judgements, and that comes from your religion...whatever that may be.

I'm not a catholic and I don't attend church. If anything I would say I follow Arminian Theology. I don't believe in the Calvinist theory of predestination. For me, everything comes down to free will.

Anonymous said...

It's not so much about doctrine as it is finding your unique experiences to give you faith and everything else you need to sustain a peaceful existence. I think we just have to imbibe ourselves with a love of life and the belief that something, whether tangible or intangible exists outside of ourselves, it's the only anchor we have. We don't even have to define "It," as faith, God or anything else to know "It" exists. The motion of the ocean just isn't a notion.

Anonymous said...

Religion and politics. I don't go there.
Go for you that you have your beliefs and are prepared to stand up and say so. Many don't, including myself as I tend to get in tardy flame wars. :P

Anonymous said...

This was very well-written. Lots of good points, presented cleverly and in a matter-of-fact way. I'm not a Catholic myself, but I think it's all very reasonable...:-)

Anonymous said...

I wrote this somewhere else recently but I'll repeat it here. I find it strange that atheists are so keen to pour scorn on Christians (or other faith believers) and to argue so ferociously against it. It's as if they feel threatened by the concept of a loving God. A puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Jenny- That's my view. There are a lot of evil things done in the name of religion, but for the most part, I think all religions that have stood the test of time have psitives to offer.

Cityunslicker- His Holiness is often accused of trying to 'pick a fight', when he is simply stating the Catholic position.
The fact remains there are major doctrinal differences between Catholicism and Protestant denominations. Christian unity can't be acheived by simply glossing over them.

David- I think each man or woman has their own unique path to salvation. that path doesn't necassarily involve the same routas mine. I think we're all searching for the same the thing. I believe it possible that many who think they don't believe in God, have actually let him in, whereas several who say they do, never will.
I leave the preaching of religion to the priests- it's their job.
I don't think the rest of us are meant to sit around dwelling on it.

Alexys- I agree, I think that truth possibly ressembles wave-particle duality. A number of apparently irreconcilable facts are possibly simultaneously true at a deeper level.

Steph- I don't usually discuss religion. The idea that I even am religous would elicit a smile from many who know me personally, though those who know me really well know that I am a sporadic mass attender. Otherwise, I scarcely think about it the rest of the time- I don't live a very saintly lifestyle.

Eve- I've never had a 'religous' experience. I went through an Atheist phase as a teenager, but returned to Catholicism, mainly on logical grounds.
My subsequent interest in matters scientific has tended to reinforce my beliefs.
The great thing about Catholic theology is how remarkably it complements Quantum mechanics.

Anonymous said...

Liz- My feelings exactly. I've pointed out in the comments section in question that I don't impose my beliefs on others.
I just don't like someone I love being insulted.
Atheism is a faith. It involves a definite view, and a definite life decision.
But part of that sems to involve a mission to insult and cause offence to those who decide the other way.

Anonymous said...

Many sins have been committed in the name of Love & Religion… I have a very strong faith too, and love to discuss beliefs with others. Its not abt convincing the other part that youa re right and they are wrong, its more with getting a better knowledge what they believe in and understand their faith – you don’t have to agree with me, but you sure have to respect my beliefs.

I love Dalai Lama, and loved one of he’s quotes where he says the being a Buddhhist is right for him, but might not be the right path for everyone. Not everyone has the need of spirituality or religion, but the one thing that connects us all is humanity – if we treat each other with TLC and the way we would like to be treated, the world would be a better place…

Anonymous said...

My blog is fucked, Crushed.

The great Yawhee smote me down after I said he was a fake.

Anonymous said...

Cripes!! You have been busy Mr Ingsoc... I am sorry for my deeply offensive smut now... I shall go and remove it before God finds out about it...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened to EKs blog or have an email address for him? He probably decided it was an Exeter London train and declared it out of order and slept for the afternoon, but it would be nice to know....

Anonymous said...

You really are aiming to create a debate here aren't you?

You said that Catholics are prone to be picked on by atheists. Take this example as an extract from one of our emails.

Is it just me or are all the good catholics going straight to hell? All catholics know that 'good catholic' is actually code for 'good person in general but leaning towards depraved'. Everybody else thinks it means we're innocent.

If that came from an atheist would you consider that offensive? Is it less offensive if it comes from someone of the same beliefs as you?

I personally find my faith to be a sustenance, of a sort. When there's nothing else to go on for, its there. Its reliable and supportive above all else.

Anonymous said...

Crashie- I agree. I rarely discuss religion myself, since it can get heated. I've never sought to convert anyone.
Evengelical Atheists however, ride roughshod over the sensibilities of the rest of us.

E-K- I had seen, at first I thought it was a temporary problem. Then I tried to getting in through other blogrolls. Did you accidently press Delete?
It's always worried me how easy it is to do that.
Can we expect the return of E-K soon?

Mutley- Don't worry I ain't a Jesusfreak or anything. I shall still be entering 'Nourishing Smuttiness'.
I think I do have an e-mail address Mutley. I'll send it you.
It could have been that Mary Jane that's stalking him for maintenance.

Phish- Said by one catholic to another. It's an in-culture joke. And anyway, non-catholics often make jokes like 'I've heard Catholic boys are the worst...'. It's not offensive. But if I was in the pub and I heard someone use the language used in the blog linked concerning the Pope, I would give him a simple choice.

Apologise and take it back, or we'd take it outside.

For this sort of reason, no one WOULD use such explosive terminology, unless protected by distance from their listeners.

Anonymous said...

So you have never flirted with the wonderful world of Islam, I assume...

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to go to your pub and turn the air blue Crushed.:)
And I have heard your foul mouth repeatedly remember? Typical catholic boy.:)

Anonymous said...

WOW I just got thru reading the diatribe this guy is spewing. I grew up Catholic in the Southern baptist Belt of Texas. I was ostracized all thru my childhood for being a "dirty catholic". I guess that all we can do for people like this guy is pray and he just needs to know that while he doesn't believe in God that God certainly believes in him. Jesus died for all our sins not just the Catholics ,which is why, I believe ,the Jews didn't care for him is because they wanted him to be just their savior! Go figure! Yes, the Catholic church has had its share of corrupt men who did horrible things. But the church itself is not to blame anymore than Islam is responsible for the horrible things some of the men in power have done and are still doing. Same thing with the Jews. Power corrupts and man is not infallible. I try to live my life as if everone I see or come into contact with is Christ. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me. We can pray for this poor man's soul and be happy knowing Jesus died for his sins too. See ya in heaven!

Anonymous said...

I agree that bad things have been done in the name of religion, but that is from groups that are a minority (well, nevermind...the crusades were no minority!)...but anyway religions are meant to be a positive force and its extremeists that tarnish religions.

Anonymous said...

to me, organized religion is politics with prayer mixed in... i choose to avoid the politics and have my personal connection. that doesn't mean i don't attend a place of worship... i just don't succomb to their agenda. regarding faith and works it simply boils down to 'walk the walk'. i dearly love my friends who go to church every sunday, but swear, cheat, steal, etc every other day. not to mention the wonderful wars waged in the name of religion.... "kill this human in the name of my god." absolute hell!

Anonymous said...

What's Istanbultory doing commenting? Is he back then?

Anonymous said...

Istanbul T- I have read the Koran many times and think that there is much good in Islam, as Mohammed meant it. This is true of most religions that stand the test of time.

Ego- I'm a choirboy! What are you on about? :)

Poody- You will notice the absence of relevant argument on the part of the Church-haters.
It's all 'I don't like the sound of your God' stuff.
But yes, I am reminded of the bigotry that exists in the Six Counties. Atheism is the new Calvinism.

Jenny- This is true of no faith more than the Atheist faith.

Raffi- In the world we live in, good and evil are mixed. Even an institution pure of purpose will succumb to corruption.
I live a life that would horrify a pious person, but if I didn't hope to see the light one day, I'd give into it completely.

Lord Straf-Ruhr- He's like the Scarlet Pimpernel. You just can't tell.
The bloggosphere is becoming a complicated place.

Anonymous said...

Faith strikes me as a sloppy way to run a life...or a Universe.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I only subscribe to 's How to Start Your Own Religion.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing wrong with faith. The problems generally start, in this area, when people think their belief system is the only way to righteousness.

What irritates me is when people make comments like, "You should act this way or you're going to go to hell."

I mean, who the hell died and left a human to be God? And how does anyone really know what hell looks like if they've never been there?

This is the problem I have with organized religion, and maybe it's even the reason I'm not religious at all. I guess I have a problem with putting my money in a plate that isn't going to go to the needy or the poor, but perhaps just to buy a Preacher a new home or a new car ALL IN THE SUPPOSED NAME OF GOD.

Anonymous said...

I think that says it all, too, Crushed. I like your thoughts on the nature of faith, too. I am an agnostic who yearns to be a Catholic!

Anonymous said...

Steve- But Atheism is a faith too, of course. Any physicist will tell you, you can interpret the evidence two ways;
The Universe shows purpose, or it doesn't.
I don't consult the Pope before I make a decision on anything, but I do try to think what is the Christian- Well, let's be honest, Catholic- interpretation.
You don't choose your beliefs on the basis of like/dislike, but on whether you actually think it to be the way the universe is.
I don't follow Catholicism because I made an ideological decision to do so, I follow it because I believe that Christ was the son of God on the basis of the evidence as I see it.

Shelly- I agree. In this instance, it is the Atheists who try to impose though.
We don't see the Pope as God. We believe Christ appointed Apostles, and peter to lead. Peter handed over to St Linus at his death, Linus to St Cletus, Cletus to st clement, and so on the line to Benedict XVI. to us, it's simply the continuity of the Apostolic Community.

Ego- Which is your right. Religous tolerance after all.

Welshcakes- I have asked the blogger concerned if he thinks it's acceptable to use the language he does. His replies are interesting, if offensive.

Agnosticism is a perfectly logical position. I went through an atheist phase as an adolescent, a kind of rebellion, but I realised by 17 that it was insincere.

We're used to the message of Christ that we don't see how radical it was for the time, how completely advanced and just not how people thought then.
It's STILL too advanced for us now.
I look at it and think if God did us his son, wouldn't his message have been that?
And could an illiterate carpenter from Galilee have come up with it otherwise?

Anonymous said...

I am not Catholic, but I recognized that the late Pope John Paul was a truly great and spiritual man. I once heard a radio talk-show host denounce him as being a mystic. I'm here to tell you that any person who claims to be a true believer in a God WITHOUT being a mystic is a hypocrite who is not to be trusted. It looks like Joe Ratzinger has been resenting all progress made by the Catholic church (small "c" there on purpose, by the way; it is egomaniacal for a group to refer to themselves as THE Church) going at least as far back as Vatican II. Now that he is Pope Benedict, he can finally do something about it. He seems hell-bent on undoing all the good will fostered by his predecessor. Believe me when I tell you that, to many of us from other faiths, Benedict is espousing "the most intolerant of creeds."