Sunday, December 02, 2007

Putting in a good word for the Atheists

In a recently published document, entitled Spe Salvi [Saved by Hope], Joseph Ratzinger [Pope th] warns the world of the evils of atheism.
Benedict 16
“Pope Benedict XVI has launched a powerful attack on atheism, saying that it was responsible for some of the ‘greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice’ in history.”
In the document he goes on to assert that justice is not man made but is divine; if we try to create our own justice we end up in a world without hope. Precisely how the logic of this thinking slots together is unclear to me but I’m sure someone can put me right. This is just one more in a series of announcements, encyclicals and speeches, setting out the Pope’s ideas of how the church relates to all else in the world and how the world should relate to it. Earlier this year he asserted that the only way to God was via the Catholic church, thereby resurrecting the medieval notion that there is only one holy church [the Roman church] and that everything else is inferior and not worth bothering about.

But back to the more recent attack encyclical. I differ from His Holisox and feel that he missed the mark somewhat and I would like to put the record straight. There is no trickery in the words I use, no masking of meaning, no mysticism, no unsubstantiated assertions, only plain facts.

As a general rule atheists don’t . .
- hate you for being homosexual
- stand in your way if you want to learn more about science
- insist on being lead by celibate numbskulls
- interfere with education
- interfere with human rights
- hide priests who have been caught playing with little boys balls

. . . and looking further back in history atheists were never renowned for . .
- launching crusades whenever someone of a differing faith appeared in the Middle East
- instigating inquisitions
- putting people on stretching racks if they asked awkward questions about the bible
- burning people at the stake because someone said they were b/witches
- collaborating with the Nazi party

. . but while the above statements are true I would accept that they do not represent an overwhelming proof that atheists never indulge in evil.

Making an attack of this kind and blaming the ills of the world on to some unconnected group is, to my mind, the mark of someone who is in a potentially weak or vulnerable position, or who feels that his organisation/faith/creed is not robust enough to withstand scrutiny or criticism from outsiders, which ought to be nonsense as Christianity has been around for a long time now. But maybe we really shouldn’t be too surprised at this outburst as the pontiff set out his stall at a very early stage, making it clear there would be nonsense, no namby-pambying or softening of the faith while he was in charge – so out went any notion of dialogue with other faiths, all ideas about modernising the Catholic church were scrapped and the way forward now, apparently, is to return to the Middle Ages as soon as possible. Without doubt, he is a focused man and with clear vision of where he wants the church to go – or as others might see him, a narrow-minded bigot and with a penchant for all things medieval.  

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