Papal Bull

September 23, 2010

The pope arriving at Heathrow, a somewhat stoned looking Boris Johnson in attendance

I was going to write about Cardinal Walter Kaspar today. He’s the one, if you recall, who said,

“When you land at Heathrow you think at times that you have landed in a third world country.”

Well, perhaps he does think that. So what? I don’t care what he thinks, do you? This is a man who believes in virgin births, talking snakes, transubstantiation and flying zombies; as a general principle I don’t value the opinions of a broken brain as highly as those emanating from a sane one. He also stated that British Airways discriminated against him because he was wearing a cross. Who would notice a cross around the neck of an elderly man wearing a maroon satin dress and a silly hat? I don’t buy any of it, but the kookie cardinal pulled out of the pope’s visit to the UK on account of an attack of gout. In vaticanspeak gout is a disease contracted from going around with your foot in your mouth.

But his boss, the pope, puts him to shame when it comes to moronic utterances. Try this for size: he compares atheism to naziism. Huh? How does the cretinous cleric square that circle? As a former member of the Hitler Youth he should know better than most that Hitler was himself a Catholic and justified his genocidal slaughter of the Jews by blaming them for the death of Christ. (Hitler seemed not to know that Christ himself was a Jew.) The Catholic churches’ shameful record in that horrifying chapter of history is well documented, so I won’t go into it here.

When did you last hear of mobs of atheists torching homes, setting off suicide bombs in public places or flying aeroplanes into skyscrapers? Or marching in jackboots and starting world wars? What? Never? Me neither, so what the hell is this imbecilic priest talking about?

Here’s another little gem:

“Secularism is a dictatorship of relativism which threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.”

These are words, and I recognize them as English words, and they are arranged in a fashion which seems to indicate that they are supposed to form a sentence, but an essential ingredient of an English sentence is lacking: meaning. These words mean absolutely nothing at all. It’s postmodernist drivel signifying nothing. Do none of the people who flock to hear this rubbish recognize it for what it is: rubbish? There is some light at the end of the tunnel, it seems. There were thousands of tickets to the papal mass in Glasgow unsold.

I don’t want to harp on the Catholic clergy’s hobby of buggering choirboys at every opportunity, but the pope said something rather revealing when he alluded to the subject. He said he was “shocked and saddened by the sex abuse scandal.” He was shocked and saddened by the scandal, not by the abuse itself. To him, raping children is OK as long no one finds out about it.

It’s time to define a term I’m going to use. When I say evil I don’t mean it in the sense meant by religionists: something bad emanating from a malign supernatural being, but in a secular sense of something that greatly increases the amount of suffering and unhappiness in the world. The Catholic clergy’s systematic rape of children is evil, and the pope’s milksop condemnation of it is evil. There isn’t another word that fits the enormity of their actions.

The pope’s dogmatic insistence that wearing condoms is contrary to the wishes of his god has been the direct cause of millions of deaths from AIDS in Africa and elsewhere. I find it very hard to believe that the pope cannot foresee the consequences of his actions, and that therefore he should be held responsible for them. So why is he walking about in freedom instead of looking upon the world through the bars of his prison (or lunatic asylum) cell?

You Muslims, Protestants, Jews and members of other cults should not sit there looking smug because you aren’t Catholics. Your brand of nonsense is just as conducive to evil as is the nonsense of the Catholics. The only way we are able to live lives untainted by evil is to live rationally, making moral decisions based on objective criteria. If we abdicate our reason in favour of some imaginary supernatural lawgiver we can rationalise any act, no matter how heinous. That’s why aeroplanes are flown into buildings, children raped and dance halls blown up.

Isn’t that a dictatorship of relativism?

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

Book Burning

September 13, 2010

Why do we feel such an instinctive abhorrence for the act of burning a book? Last week the Reverend Jones, a fundamentalist preacher in Florida, USA, declared that he was going to burn copies of the Koran, allegedly in protest against “fundamentalist Islam.” (As though that is in some ways worse than fundamentalist Christianity.)

He joins the ranks of other noted book-burners down the ages: fine, upstanding folk like Adolf Hitler, Uncle Joe Stalin, and of course we can’t forget Mao Tse Tung and his “cultural revolution” which attempted to destroy Chinese culture in its entirety. Burning books goes back to the third century BC when books were burned by the Qin dynasty in China, and scholars buried alive for dissent. The practice is a long standing Christian tradition—the Spanish Inquisition burned the Koran wherever it was found.

Many people have commented on the Rev. Jones’s planned idiocy, but I haven’t read or heard anyone who actually gets the point. It is generally agreed that whilst burning the Koran is legal, it isn’t desirable for a host of reasons, such as: it will inflame Muslims and increase radicalism; it will be a recruitment wet dream for Islamic terrorist organisations; it will trigger retaliatory action by even moderate Muslims, and so on.

What they miss is the fundamental stupidity of the notion that you can destroy an idea by burning a book that contains it.

I think that what Messrs Hitler, Stalin et al had in common was a shared delusion that by burning a book they could make the ideas contained therein somehow vanish. This, of course, is not what happens. The physical book may be destroyed, but the burning (or banning) draws attention to the ideas rather than destroying them, and those ideas often go on to destroy the book-burners (which is what they were afraid of in the first place.)

The way to destroy an idea is to show that it is not true in matters of fact and its arguments are not logically valid. This is extremely difficult in the case of religious works because they are supposed to be the word of an infallible supernatural being. Pointing out that some of the “facts” revealed by the deity are provably wrong doesn’t phase the faithful in the slightest. They merely move the goalposts and assert that the questioned passages are allegorical and not to be taken literally, and logical inconsistency is an artifact of our poor human brains that are not able to understand the grandeur of God’s plan.

The only way to combat this sort of psychosis is to repeat the obvious to the faithful calmly and often. Perhaps, once in a thousand times, the seed of doubt will sprout and you can convert someone to sanity. I know this works because I was once a devout Christian (at about the age of 13) and now am not. Faith was defeated by critical thinking.

Perhaps we should inundate the moron Jones with emails explaining that snakes can’t talk, the dead can’t walk, and water cannot be turned into wine without the added ingredients of sunshine and a grapevine.

“Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” – Heinrich Heine

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License