The Infallible Pope Benedict Releases Bigoted Encyclical Vilifying Atheism

kellym78's picture

Kelly O’Connor

The Catholic Church has officially ended their campaign to improve the public image of the Church with the latest papal encyclical, Spe Salvi, which means “saved by hope” for the Latin fans out there. The Catholic Church’s history is littered with crimes against humanity, and Pope Benedict XVI seems to desire the return to pre-Vatican II Catholicism. This was a concern voiced by many at the time that the former Joseph Ratzinger* was canonized to this position. The former pope, John Paul II, had made great strides in the modernization of the Church, and many were reluctant to elect somebody who would reverse that trend. Despite John Paul’s dogmatic adherence to the sexual proscriptions of Catholicism, he at least officially accepted evolution, admitted Protestants into heaven, and eliminated limbo. (Where was that place anyway? I may have been there once&hellipEye-wink Pope Benedict is turning out exactly as predicted.

The attempt to correlate atheism with violence, hatred, and genocide is the faithful fall-back argument for theists looking for a scapegoat. As in many other situations, their best defense for their beliefs and the resulting atrocities throughout history is something like, “Atheists did it, too! Just look at Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. You’re just like us!” Well, I beg to differ. Those three well-worn examples did not commit those crimes because of their lack of god-belief. That is where the fundamental difference lies. The communist regimes wanted to eradicate religious belief so that the sole allegiance of the populace would be to the government. It was not driven by an atheistic agenda per se, but rather a power struggle with the religious ideologues who would seek to thwart their dominance over the people. Regardless of what those particular despots may have done, though, Ratzinger’s claim that atheism is the cause of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” in history falls flat on its face when one thumbs through the annals of history.

A stroll down memory lane with Catholicism gives us the Crusades, the Inquisition, the violence during the Protestant Reformation (some of which continues to this day), and the more recent clergy sex scandals. Obviously, this is a woefully incomplete list, and it doesn’t include Protestants and their scandals, not to mention the conflict that has been inspired by religious beliefs throughout history up until the present day, not separating by specific deity.

Despite the irony of religious people claiming that atheism has been the bully throughout history, the most problematic issue with this argument is the least salient, which explains its prevalence in the world of apologetics: Whether these crimes were committed under the banner of atheism or not does not prove that their god exists in the first place. The crux of the rational position rests not on what atrocities were committed for any reason, but rather on the existence of their deity.

The fact is that the most recent studies show that organic atheism (ie not imposed by the government) has a positive correlation with societal health when measured by various indicators, such as level of education, affluence, and violent crime rates. (See study by Phil Zuckerman, PhD, in the Cambridge Companion to Atheism.) The data show that the so-called “deluding” to which man so frequently falls prey is in fact not “technology, wealth, or political ideologies,” but is religious in nature.

The pessimism that he sees in the world is more likely to have been caused by the precepts and edicts of the religion into which a society has been indoctrinated. If I believed that this life, this planet and its inhabitants were all a part of some kind of cosmic game in which the rules and outcome were already determined, I would be pessimistic as well. For them, all of this is a waiting room for your “real” existence in eternity—whether or not it will be in paradise or perdition. Ultimately, it’s not even up to you or me to make that determination. The Catholic Church has always stood by the doctrine that the status of your salvation is unknown even to you. Does anybody else see how that might cause psychological distress? You’re chosen, or one of the elect--one to whom god has revealed himself--or you’re not. The bible states it clearly:

“Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory…” (Rom. 9:21-23)

I don’t see the hope of which Ratzinger speaks. I see the violence, division, and psychological terrorism that religion has perpetrated upon humanity since its inception. I see a group of power-mongers struggling to maintain control of an increasingly skeptical society by demonizing their opposition. I see a populace disillusioned with the traditional power structures of government and religion but feeling incapable of affecting change in a society where money buys power and influence, and the only thing that they are sure of is that atheists are evil communist despots. So, I would like to personally applaud Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict, for projecting the actions of his religion onto atheists. At least we know that the long-standing tradition of sacrificing an innocent being to atone for your own sins is alive and well. (Lev. 16: 9-11) After all, Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

*I will refer to him using that name for the remainder of the article.

Brian37's picture

All those dictators

All those dictators mentioned were not concerned about elliminating religion, but elleminating compitition ALL COMPETITION to their rule and ruling party. No different than Sadam. The worship of the state replaced the worship of a god, but both share the same blind patriotism without question. Pick on my club(religion or party|) and I will squash you. Theocracies are just as facist and dictitorial than the dictators mentioned above an have the same thing in common, ABSOLUTE RULE.

I can remember in the last presidental ellection the Pope (at the time) sticking his nose in American politics threatening to excommunicate any politician who supported abortion rights, NOT EVEN BEING A CITIZEN of the country. Rightfully Americans told him to mind his own business.

Even today people still dont understand that superstition exists and religion exists even in closed societies. It is a myth that Chinese people are godless. No, they have a different supperstitions and different views about goverment. North Korea is not godless either, their people are simply ruled by an asshat who doesnt want any competition to the state.

The Pope is not a politician and certianly blind to the damage pulpit politics does to society. If it were not for people like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin, we may very well still living under a Chritian theocracy.

A dictatorship can be ruled by a theist and untill religious leaders worldwide understand this, they even under secular pluralistic governments, still run the risk of backsliding and repeating history. The Pope is in a glass house and should not be throwing stones. Take a look in the mirror before you pontificat about people you dont know personally.

Westernized atheists do not resemble dictators. We have been raised in free societies where we not only accept freedom, we also are capable of protecting dissent, which is vital to protecting government from an imballance of power. 

 What the Pope is frightened of, as well he should be, is that many people are waking up to the fact that religion is causing too much division in the world. Theists and atheists alike are getting tired of turning on the TV every day and hearing some clown with a turbin or collar tell politicians and goverments which god they should bow to.

He is frightend of the right of humans to dissagree with him. He is frightened that people dont worship Marry and are not forced by goverment to bow to Jesus. But that is not because atheists hate all Christians or all theists. He, like any theocratic dictator should be as frightened as Kim Jong ill. Those who seek absolute control via state or deity should be frightened, because the cure for that facism is FREETHOUGHT! 

Freethought, not dogma, is what creates freedom. Freethought is what protects dissent and the right to dissagree. Name me one Abrahamic god that says, "I'ts ok if you dont follow me". Humans say that, not the god of Abraham. The holy books of these three makes it clear that they are absolute rulers and dissent will be punished.

And the Pope is dead wrong about atheists lacking hope. Skepticism is not pessimistic. Asking questions, even hard questions is how we create quality control for the data we seek. Without questioning anything we would still believe that the world is flat and we would have never figured out that the BRAIN and not the heart, does the thinking.

The Pope is doing what most theists do when challenged, insted of introspection they resort to demonization. They fear going outside their intellectuall comfort zone.

I am here to set theist strieght and back up Kelly. Here are some things not only the Pope, but all theists need to know about atheists.

1. We are not all the same and do not have the same political views.

2. We are not seeking a forcefull goverment end to religion. More like a challenge to think about what you claim. We think one can see their error if they are objective and take their theist "hat" off for a moment and look at their own claims.

3. We are not immoral. Atheists are just like any other human. We are not automatically good because we are atheists anymore than we are automatically bad because we are atheists. No one would claim, or at least they shouldnt, that all Muslims are good, simply because they say, "I believe in Allah".


     4. We are capable of getting along with, working with and YES, even loving people who believe in a deity(of any given label). We simply dont find deity claims credible.

5. We are positive when theist's leaders become brave enough to look at their own past and the division their religions and sects have caused, when they accept that religion can, and does have a dark side and CAN be used as a weapon, then the problems of religious division can be effectively minimized.

Ironically most people would rightfully say, not just atheists, but theists as well that using religion as a weapon is wrong. But the Pope used his religion to as a weapon against atheists.

The Pope is not my boss anymore than any Catholic would want a Cleric in Iran being their thought police. I think it is way past time that the Pope, and theists in general, get over themselves and their self centeredness as being the center of the universe.

In conclusion, the Pope should be frighened, because the tide is changing and the Western world is waking up to what religion does to government and waking up to the divisive nature and dark side that atheists and even theists who value pluralism and secular governments, these people are finally saying "you dont own my thoughts, I can think for myself".

The Pope should be scared, because when you are wrong, the worst you can do is name call, insted of defending your belief through evidence. 

Great job Kelly, I doubt that the Pope will ever read this. But if the Vatican has a website and e-mail, maybe someone could send it to them. 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37

Lynx's picture

I'm glad you did end up

I'm glad you did end up commenting on these statements, because they actually go back to two of the most persistent falsehoods about atheism; that atheism has commited atrocities, and that atheism is a doctrine unto itself.

 

Of course, atheism is merely and only a lack in belief in god or gods, so by definition is it utterly incapable of supporting any action, good or bad. Any doctrine that arises after atheism requires it's own name, like humanism.

 Somehow theists I've spoken to, even rather reasonable ones, can't get their minds around the idea that atheism is not only not a different form of religious faith (because atheists mostly do not claim positive absolute proof of the non-existence of a god) but that it is simply INCAPABLE of becoming one because it is a very limited concept. In fact it SHOULD be utterly irrelevant, it's only needed as a concept because of the existence of theism. I can no more organize my morality and politics around atheism as I can do so around non-belief in flying elephants. That some atheists have banded together to defend their right to non-belief and a shared wish for a secular state and the defence of scientific inquiry does not mean that atheists that choose not to do so are not atheists, or are "sinning" against any "atheist doctrine". There is no doctrine, so there can be no actions based on a doctrine.

Sadzaeater's picture

Repeating the theme of an

Repeating the theme of an earlier post in the forums - Stalin was probably an atheist, as was Pol Pot. Robert Mugabe is Catholic. He even brought it up during his speech at the UN General Assembly a couple of months ago.

I will not suggest that Mugabe's history of genocide, forced relocation, murder, opression, use of food as a political weapon, tacitly sanctioned use of rape as a means of intimidation, slow starvation of his countrymen, etc. have anything to do with his religous belief. I doubt the man in the funny hat holding the morbidly decorated stick would make the association.

And following on from Brian37's post, Ratzinger's use of atheists as whipping boys does smack of Mugabe's tendency to scapegoat the West (conspiring with ex white farmers) for all the ills that have befallen Zimbabwe. But then, Mugabe is a dictator of the most brutal sort. He and the supposed big beard in the sky have  a good deal in common...

  

Stop that... It's silly.

bdstrohl's picture

Couldnt have said it better

Couldnt have said it better myself!

Sapient's picture

 Pope Bashes Atheists to

 Pope Bashes Atheists to Deflect Blame

for Failures of Church

 

With Its Church Attendance & Membership Down,

 Pope Passes the Buck

-------------------

 

New York, Dec.3—The Catholic church doesn’t burn its dissidents at the stake anymore—though it managed, in its day, to dispense with thousands of scientists, women healers, disabled people, mentally ill and politically inconvenient people that way. Today, the church uses the pointing finger, accusations and blame-mongering to try to discredit those who do not follow, and do not wish to follow, its ancient and ineffective principles.

 

So says Kenneth Bronstein, president of New York City Atheists, an organization dedicated to living by, and advancing, scientific principles and reason. “The Pope says in his recently released encyclical that being an Atheist is ba-a-ad,” he says. “We say, being a Pope is worse.”

 

At a time when the Catholicism is losing adherents, when its churches are closing all over the world (most recently, a well-known Greenwich Village church was shut down), when Catholic schools are shutting their doors due to lack of students, when the church has had to pay out millions of dollars to victims of pedophile priests and is finding itself hard put to attract young men to its the priesthood, Pope Benedict XVI says he has found the cause: Atheism! Well, I’ll be darned, says Bronstein. Who knew?

 

“The Pope is passing the buck, blaming us for the failures of the Catholic church,” says Bronstein.

 Who We Are

Atheist organizations, in contrast, are growing, new ones are cropping up every day; Atheist books are best sellers, celebrities are climbing on the Atheist bandwagon and no pedophilic scandal has ever sullied our good name, Bronstein points out.

 

Atheists are known for their scientific accomplishments (Darwin, Stephen Hawking), their literacy (Mark Twain, Jack London), their public works and philanthropy (Bill Gates, George Soros), their Nobel Prizes (Richard Feynman, Physics), their compassionate aid to the impoverished (Margaret Sanger), their legal acumen (Clarence Darrow), and their dedication to democracy and justice, but the Pope would have you believe that Atheists are responsible for nothing but ‘the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice.’”

 

“We say the Pope is wrong,” says Bronstein. “He is seeing the world from the perspective of an old man who has lived his life entirely within the hierarchy of the Catholic church in a Vatican City remote from the everyday life of real people."

Church’s Time Is Up

“We say his church has had more than 2,000 years to heal the ills of the world—and has failed abysmally. Now it is our turn,” says Bronstein. “We do not believe that the world will go to pot if people don’t believe in Pope Benedict’s god. Nor do we believe that his god is the ‘only hope of the world,’ as the Pope claims.”

 

Religion—and in particular, the Vatican’s hierarchy and its far-reaching diaspora--have failed to solve the world problems of poverty, hunger, war, illness, universal education and cooperation among nations--despite the huge amount of money that is being poured into the Vatican’s coffers by its misled followers. Instead, that money has been squandered on sumptuous vestments, gold overlay on ceilings, statuary, art and the support of a vast Vatican population of sycophantic priests and cardinals whose entire educations have been limited to the interpretation of the wishes of an unseen, unheard spirit, whom they call their god.

 

“We think we can do better than a religion that relies on an illusory hope of a paradise after death in an imaginary place called ‘heaven,’ and admonishes its people that they must suffer to attain heaven after they are dead,” says the Atheist leader. “We believe the earth should be our heaven, right now, right here.”

 

Press Contacts

 

Jane Everhart

NYCA Director of Communications

212-879-2687

 

Kenneth Bronstein, President

New York City Atheists

212-535-7425

- Brian Sapient


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OzAtheist's picture

Thanks for the link to this

Thanks for the link to this post on my little blog. Well written article and a few good followup comments.

OzAtheist
An Australian's view on atheism

  I actually agree with

 

I actually agree with some of what Kelly said. I believe the evil autrocities of the Roman Catholic Church in history, their view on a literal material fire in hell, their emphasis on God as a vindictive tyranical Judge, actually is partly (if not largely) responsible for the modern pnenomenon of Atheism. The latter being a direct reaction to the false teachings and evils of the RCC.

Alexander Kalimiros stated in his book "Against False Uniion," that Roman Catholicism is partly responsible for atheism. The RCC has a false understanding of God. This false (Latin) theology is also predominant in Protestant circles. I myself am Eastern Orthodox. The RCC and Protestantism have misrepresented Christianity to the world. Their concept of hell, for example is not entirely accurate.

 

Hell is actually the love of God extended to un-repentant sinners. God is actually in hell with the sinner. There is no place God cannot not be. He is omnipresent. Only one fire proceeds from God. It either nurtures the saints, or torments the sinner, but it is one and the same fire. The fires of hell are simply the love of God on the lost. There is no material and literal fire in hell. And I will stand with atheists in refuting this error.

 

However, I disagree with her about religious wars, etc. All religious wars combined in human history, amount to about six or seven million dead. The atheistic philosphy as manifested in Communism, just within the last 100 years, is responsible for about 100 million deaths (study the Russian and French Revolutions).

 

Communism is atheistic. There is no absolute law or moral standard in Communistic philosophy. So their taking millions of innocent lives means nothing to them.

 

However, I disagree with her about

There are no atheists in fox holes

  Sapient (Sapient means

 

Sapient (Sapient means "wise". God is omni-sapient), I don't believe Darwin was an atheist. I think he was a deist. I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Gates is an atheist. That's what happens with too much wealth and materialism. That's why the Bible says "the love of money is the root to all evil."

 

I believe the problem is not with religion, but with man. God (and religion) is by nature not of this world. So of course there will be conflicts between the high expectations of religion and the "natural"/carnal man.  Jesus even said His Kingdom is not of this world. This world is fallen.

 

The problem has always been with the human heart. Religion (especially Christianity) elevates man to a higher dimension.

 

True religion when practiced correctly, is not evil or dangerous. Christianity, for example, turns sinners into saints. The problem is that modern religion has been hi-jacked by the emissaries of Antichrist who's agenda is to make religion look bad to the world.

 

Christianity is by nature very good. In America alone, 79% of the hospitals and universities were founded by Christians, and this was true in the 1980's. It might even be higher now.

 

Harvard and Yale were founded by Christians (Congregationalists), and Princeton was founded by Presybiterians. That's just a small example.

There are no atheists in fox holes

 Typo

 Typo Corrections

 

"Against False Union."

 

Presbyterians? I guess that's how it is spelled.

There are no atheists in fox holes

Magus's picture

Euthymius wrote:   I

Euthymius wrote:

 

I actually agree with some of what Kelly said. I believe the evil autrocities of the Roman Catholic Church in history, their view on a literal material fire in hell, their emphasis on God as a vindictive tyranical Judge, actually is partly (if not largely) responsible for the modern pnenomenon of Atheism. The latter being a direct reaction to the false teachings and evils of the RCC.

Alexander Kalimiros stated in his book "Against False Uniion," that Roman Catholicism is partly responsible for atheism. The RCC has a false understanding of God. This false (Latin) theology is also predominant in Protestant circles. I myself am Eastern Orthodox. The RCC and Protestantism have misrepresented Christianity to the world. Their concept of hell, for example is not entirely accurate.

 

Hell is actually the love of God extended to un-repentant sinners. God is actually in hell with the sinner. There is no place God cannot not be. He is omnipresent. Only one fire proceeds from God. It either nurtures the saints, or torments the sinner, but it is one and the same fire. The fires of hell are simply the love of God on the lost. There is no material and literal fire in hell. And I will stand with atheists in refuting this error.

 

However, I disagree with her about religious wars, etc. All religious wars combined in human history, amount to about six or seven million dead. The atheistic philosphy as manifested in Communism, just within the last 100 years, is responsible for about 100 million deaths (study the Russian and French Revolutions).

 

Communism is atheistic. There is no absolute law or moral standard in Communistic philosophy. So their taking millions of innocent lives means nothing to them.

 

However, I disagree with her about

Why couldn't a group of Christians also be communists? 

Communism:
    Political theory advocating community ownership of all property, the benefits of which are to be shared by all according to the needs of each.

Atheism:

A lack of belief in deities.

 Atheism deal with no other policy other than the one above stated.  Any other belief or policy that isn't part of the definition of atheism is up to the individual.  Atheism was not responsible for communism, or for the murders.  Unlike Atheism, Christianity, is more than just a belief in god it contains many dogmatic belief, and a set of ideals, which can and has led to the murders of millions.

Sounds made up...
Agnostic Atheist
No, I am not angry at your imaginary friends or enemies.

   Magus, Communism is by

 

 Magus, Communism is by nature atheistic in philosophy. There is no absolute law in atheistic Communism, other then the state. The state decides what is right or wrong. The state is supreme. The state is not under the absolute moral law of God.

 

Never in the history of civilization has there ever been a Christian nation or empire where atheists were killed by the millions. But we do have atheist rulers killing millions of Christians (eg, Russian Revolution). They even killed the last Christian Emperor --Tzar Nicholas II along with his whole family.

 

Christianity is not the CAUSE of religious wars. I believe you are guilty of the post hoc  fallacy of false cause (AKA: post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy).

 

Just because A comes before B, it cannot be logically concluded that A caused B.

 

Just because Christ (Christianity) came before religious wars, it cannot be logically concluded that Christ (Christianity) caused those wars.

 

There is nothing in the teachings of Christ or Christianity promoting religious wars. The autrocities of the Roman Catholic Church are not the product (effect) of authentic Christianity.

 

However that is not to say all religious wars were bad. Some of the Crusades were launched as a direct reaction to the Turks (Muslims) and their stealing and plundering of the holy land. Some would even argue that had it not been for the Crusades, you and I would either be Muslim today, or dead. Islam basically has one motto:

 

"convert or die".

 

Christianity is far different then this. We have choice.

There are no atheists in fox holes

Euthymius wrote: Magus,

Euthymius wrote:
Magus, Communism is by nature atheistic in philosophy. There is no absolute law in atheistic Communism, other then the state. The state decides what is right or wrong. The state is supreme. The state is not under the absolute moral law of God.

Replace “state” with “church” and you've got the dark ages.

Euthymius wrote:
Never in the history of civilization has there ever been a Christian nation or empire where atheists were killed by the millions. But we do have atheist rulers killing millions of Christians (eg, Russian Revolution). They even killed the last Christian Emperor --Tzar Nicholas II along with his whole family.

Replace “atheist” with “heretic” and reconsider your statement.

Euthymius wrote:
Christianity is not the CAUSE of religious wars. I believe you are guilty of the post hoc  fallacy of false cause (AKA: post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy).

No true scotsman would cause a religious war.

Euthymius wrote:
Just because A comes before B, it cannot be logically concluded that A caused B.

Gotcha, just because something is explicitly identified by its proponent as the basis for their actions, and is vague enough that they can't really be called liars for saying so, doesn't make it the cause. They way you can tell is if it's unflattering to the church, it ain't because of Christians.

Euthymius wrote:
Just because Christ (Christianity) came before religious wars, it cannot be logically concluded that Christ (Christianity) caused those wars.

And just because atrocities were ordered or ignored by the church, it doesn't make it responsible. The church isn't responsible for the goods things it's credited with, either. In fact, the church doesn't exist. Up is down, black is orange, war is peace, this conversation never happened.

Euthymius wrote:
There is nothing in the teachings of Christ or Christianity promoting religious wars. The autrocities of the Roman Catholic Church are not the product (effect) of authentic Christianity.

Which is whatever is flattering.

Euthymius wrote:
However that is not to say all religious wars were bad. Some of the Crusades were launched as a direct reaction to the Turks (Muslims) and their stealing and plundering of the holy land. Some would even argue that had it not been for the Crusades, you and I would either be Muslim today, or dead. Islam basically has one motto:

“convert or die“.

Yes, Islam sucks, too. Emphasis on the “too.”

Euthymius wrote:
Christianity is far different then this. We have choice.

Just like those seven year-olds at the age of reason, and the born again thirteen year-olds who wanted to abandon their awful, spiritually bankrupt lives.

Magus's picture

Just for giggles, look up


Just for giggles, look up Christian Communism.

Absolute morals coming from a thinking source (ie a god) is idiotic at best.  The only way for something to be absolute is for it to come from an unthinking process that always lead to the same result.  Your morals comes from the whim of god, their moral come from the whim of the state. How exactly is one absolute and not the other??  Oh wait neither of them are.  You have no bases to state that your god will not change its mind or is lying.  Therefore no reason to assume it to be an absolute.

Sounds made up...
Agnostic Atheist
No, I am not angry at your imaginary friends or enemies.

Cpt_pineapple's picture

In all honesty, I see no

In all honesty, I see no difference between the communist regimes and the Theist regimes. Both commited astrocites for power. 

Agree

I agree with most you say, interesting article