Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Breaking News: Cardinals Disband Catholic Church; Green Smoke rises from Basilica

[Please note: this is a guest post, written by a friend, and posted here by permission because I think it is great.] Vatican spokesman Father Guido Sarducci announced today that effective immediately, the Catholic Church is disbanding its hierarchy, and will henceforth devote its brand name to supporting grassroots humanity in all its richness. According to Sarducci, "we were just sitting around talking about the Inquisition, the 80 million indigenous people wiped out by religious orders and Spanish troops in Latin America, the current hierarchy's war against women and gays, and the on-going conspiracy to protect a vast breeding ground for child abuse, and we decided, man, it's time to break with all that." Reliable sources said the Cardinals' decision was based in part on increasing concern about rumors that an international court is considering indicting the church as the largest and longest lasting criminal conspiracy in world history, a development Sarducci characterized as "a bummer." According to reliable sources, the Vatican will become a multi-use area, and will include a treatment and rejuvenation community for victims of child abuse and torture, a stunning museum with proceeds going to support indigenous populations wiped out under church leadership, a women's center, and the creation of a Fallibility Institute, dedicated to fostering democratic institutions, free thinking, spirituality and humanism, and social justice for all. Oh, and maybe a small church. Meanwhile, local Catholic churches around the world will be turned over to the control of their parishioners, who will be free to decide their own organizational structure, leadership, affiliations, and beliefs. According to Sarducci, "we decided to send out some green smoke, man, to signal our resolve to save the world from what's actually threatening it: environmental disaster, economic inequality, and hatred based on nationalism, racism, and religious intolerance. Then people can build a society based on democracy, peace on earth, and good will towards all." It is reported that some of the Cardinals were asking for further clarification regarding the meaning of the term "all."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Analytical Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief"

I realize that I haven't posted for awhile. This is because my favorite target, the hypocritical Catholic church hierarchy, that permitted pederastic vampire priests to feed on young innocents, has recently managed to hoist itself by its own petard. The Catholic laeity around the world is now realizing that just about the only segment of the Catholic church that is not completely rotten to the core is represented by the nuns, who work selflessly and tirelessly to help the disadvantaged and the poor of the world. And this formerly quiet group is to be congratulated for recently beginning to organize itself to oppose the cruel censorship imposed upon it from above. The title of today's post is the title of a recent article in Science magazine (Science Vol. 336, April 27, 2012, pp 493-496). The abstract states in part: "...these studies indicate that analytical processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief." The conclusion of this scientific study, reported in a highly regarded journal, thus implies that intelligence can contribute to overcoming superstitious religious beliefs. So here's to the day when many or all individuals' native intelligence permits them to see the light of truth through the mud of religion. And I certainly don't mean the light that "God" is rumored to have said "let there be"!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The Irish Prime Minister has bravely turned over the stones. And the clerical slugs- right up to the top- who condoned and protected pederasts to save the church from embarrassment, are now trying desperately to scurry for cover.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Irrelevance of the US to Democratic Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt

We suddenly find ourselves living in wonderful, amazing, and interesting times, definitely not only in the sense of the Chinese curse ("May you live in interesting times").

One very significant aspect of the successful (so far) Egyptian revolution is that the US was essentially irrelevant to the whole process. Not a nice thing to think about our previously all-powerful country, but this was a grass roots movement and, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the best thing the mighty USA could do was stand back, stay out of the way, and let people power lead the way.

As Bob Dylan put it so well in "Times They Are A-Changing":

Don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

It is becoming abundantly clear that, for the spread of democracy in the world, we in the US are the old folks. The people in the streets who ousted Mubarak represent the force behind the democratic future of the world, while the US represents the respectable status quo. So let's stay out of the way of this wonderful grass roots movement that is sweeping the Arab world.

But oh why couldn't wishy-washy Obama have supported the young Egyptian revolutionaries before their success was a fait accompli? He would have gained significant credit for himself (especially among his former avid supporters here in the US) and, far more importantly, helped to persuade the people in Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab countries in which change is brewing, to view America as a steadfast (albeit pretty insignificant) supporter of revolutionary democracy. It seems clear that the US government and its leader is instead correctly viewed by the young Arab revolutionaries in the streets as a feather that blows in the wind, finally taking sides only when the outcome is clear.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Statutory Rape by a Catholic Priest

Today’s New York Times (2/12/2011, page A12 top, “Los Angeles Archdiocese…) describes a Catholic priest who confessed to having sex in Los Angeles in 1967, with a 16 year-old girl.

The response of the Catholic Church was, predictably, to first appoint the priest, Martin P. O’Loughlin, to serve on a Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Advisory Board (well, I suppose O’Loughlin is indeed an expert on carrying out sexual abuse!), and then appoint him as pastor to another church. Now, thank “God”, the priest is finally being dismissed from the Los Angeles Diocese.

But what a shame that the statute of limitations for statutory rape in California is 10 years or less. I don’t care what this rapacious creep does for a living. He deserves to be tried, convicted, and sent up the river for a long time for the evil crime he committed, surely causing permanent and severe injury to the life of that young girl.

Today’s revelation of how the Catholic Church dealt with this issue, first by concealing it, then placing the priest on the Sexual Abuse Advisory Board, and then exposing additional children to this predator, deals yet another blow to the crumbling sanctity and authority so long professed and projected by church officials.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spiritual Appreciation Is an Emergent Property

This post arose from a conversation I had with my wife after we had just seen the terrific new play in New York City, "Freud's Last Session". This two-man play is about a possible encounter between an aging and ill Sigmund Freud, a lifetime hard-core atheist, and C.S. Lewis. Lewis was a former atheist who as a young adult underwent a religious conversion, found Christ, and went on to write books with concealed Christian messages. The most famous of these is the children's book, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe", in which The Lion is a symbol of Jesus Christ. In the play, Freud and Lewis have a wonderful, spirited exchange about whether God exists, and how we can know the answer.

My wife asked me how I, as an atheist, view the wonderful aspects of life not readily explained by science: the majesty and mystery of our universe, the beauty and force of nature, our aesthetic appreciation of this natural beauty, and of music and art, and our ability as humans to be moral creatures, and to experience love and, yes, even Grace. As I thought about this question, I was reminded of the mind-brain problem addressed by scientists and philosophers who study consciousness: how does the squishy, gray, three-pound human brain, containing c. 100 billion multiply-connected neurons, give rise to the apparently incorporeal qualities of consciousness and ability for intellectual thought and language that are unique to human beings? This is of course one of the two great mysteries of our time (to me, the other great mystery is what the extremely weird but clearly correct physical theory, termed quantum mechanics, really tells us about the structure and function of the universe).

But investigators of consciousness have a very useful concept to describe, in a general way, how mind arises from the brain. In their view, mind/consciousness is an emergent property of the brain; i.e., ethereal mind somehow emerges from the very complex biochemical and physical properties of the brain. So it seems to me that the counter to those who insist that some sort of Higher Power up there has given us all this great stuff, is that development of the Earth with all its beauty, along with biological evolution on the Earth, all proceeded according to strictly scientific principles. And then all that we treasure about human beings, including consciousness, language, morality, the ability to appreciate beauty and to love one another, somehow arise as emergent properties of the qualities and experience of human beings who live individually and collectively upon the Earth.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We Can't Get Our Paws out of the Sugar Bowl in Afghanistan

My father spent some of his young formative years in the 1930's in India, as a Protestant evangelist. In one his stories to me about that time in his life, my father told me about the simple method Indians used to capture a monkey. They would set out a bowl attached to a chain, containing sugar that is much loved by monkeys. The opening in the top of the bowl was small enough for a monkey to put its hand in, and grab a fistful of sugar. But the hole was too small for the monkey to pull a sugar-filled fist out of the bowl. The monkeys virtually always refused to release the sugar, even though they could easily have removed an empty hand from the sugar bowl, and thus escape.

It seems to me that the US now faces a similar situation in Afghanistan. Our fists are filled with so much history that is hard to release: the very sad deaths and maimings of the many American soldiers who have served so bravely in that country; the long history of our attempts to defeat the Taliban there, most recently through attempts to "win the hearts and minds" of the Afghanistanis; and our national pride that would cause us to lose face in the world if we lost this war as we did the one in Vietnam.

Many Americans seem to be in favor of our ending the war in Afghanistan by adhering to a firm date for removal of our troops. But Obama's deadline for doing this in July 2011 seems to become less firm the closer it comes. Isn't there some way that we could release our fistfuls of unfortunate history in that country, thus opening our hands and allowing us to leave the quagmire that Afghanistan has become ?